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Keepsake Blanket | Turn old baby clothes into a momento

Keepsake Blanket | Turn old baby clothes into a momento

A good way to make it easier to let go of those cute baby-grows that your once newborn baby has grown out of is to make them into a keepsake blanket. There is no denying that we all fall in love with a few items of clothes (blokes included, don’t try be all macho on me now fellas). When it comes to getting rid of them it can tug on the heart strings, probably moreso with your firstborn as it’s a new experience. Your baby is growing up and they grow out of the cute baby clothes in next to no time.

There’s something about a baby-grow. Besides getting all the cuddles, they look so damn cosy with their closed feet, and buttoned all the way up. For the first few months, they might live in baby-grows almost full time! They’re toasty warm, easy to deal with (unless you’ve got a wriggler in which case it’s like trying to put an octopus in a bag), and you get fit hundreds in your changing bag. You need plenty for all those times your baby gets food everywhere (or covers them in shit. Nice).

Keepsake blanket

Before I go on I should note that I have zero sewing skills. Wifey did this and made a bloody good job of it too! I should also add that this is a bit of a crash course. I can’t sew for toffee so I’m pretty sure I can’t write about it too well either! There’s a more comprehensive guide over at QuiltKeepSake.com

Keepsake Blanket
Our Keepsake Blanket (click for larger view)

The first task at hand is to decide which baby-grows to put on the blanket. Think carefully here as you’ll shortly be chopping them up. You’ll want to find about 24 pieces, which have a suitable square you can cut out around 10″ square.

Top Tip – Cut out a 10″ square from paper, you can use it as an overlay to make sure the design will all fit in the square when you start chopping. You can also use it to cut round to make sure your squares are all the same size.

Spend time on this bit. These are the baby-grows you’re keeping a little piece of as a momento so think about the outfit you brought your baby home from hospital in, and so on. My personal favourite was a little blue and white polka-dot from Carters baby-grow with little pink foxes on the feet. I always used to call PG foxy-feet when she wore it. Just look how freakin’ cute she looked in it! (and look how snuggly she looked in her Babymoov Sleep Positioner)

Foxy Feet Baby Grow (from Carters) that was included in keepsake blanket
PG in her foxy feet baby-grow that we included in the keepsake blanket

Cut out your 24 ten inch squares and arrange them on the floor how you want them. Next comes the tricky bit. You’ll want to have someone who is handy with a needle or sewing machine for this part. You are aiming for six rows of four squares, so stitch the squares together one row at a time, then stitch the rows together.

You should now have a single sheet of squares all sewn together. Tack it onto a large piece of wadding (using wadding is a load easier than using fluffy stuffing). For extra thickness you might choose to use more than one piece of wadding. Keep in mind if you plan on actually using it as a blanket you don’t want to it to be too thick as your child may get too hot.

Now sew the whole thing to piece of cotton, which will make the back of the blanket. Just sewing round the edge should be fine, but Wifey sewed a small cross into the intersections of each square for a little added stickiness (is that even a sewing word? I’ve no idea either). Finish the blanket off with some edging and voila, it should look like a blanket (if it doesn’t use a different guide or draught in someone who can actually sew like your Granny!).

What to do with the rest of the clothes

Whatever you do, DON’T chuck them in the bin. That’s crap for the planet. Unless they have holes in and are physically no good, there are many many different ways of disposing of your old clothes. There’ll be no need to teach you to suck eggs here, but as a starter for ten (or three at least!)

  1. Take them to a charity shop. Each town has several and most stock baby clothes.
  2. Take them to a baby bank. Much like the charity shop idea but they usually deal specifically with families with little ones, so the items will go directly to someone who really needs them. Check where your nearest baby bank is online (there’s a good list over at Stripey Stork), or do your own research.
  3. If you’ve space and plan to expand the family, save them. You’ll be thankful of it when you start all over again as it’ll be a few less things to buy.

Made a keepsake blanket before? Let me know how you got on in the comments.

Ttfn
Pete

Little Dish Toddler Meals | Proper Food For Kids | Review

Little Dish Toddler Meals | Proper Food For Kids | Review

A struggle for us as working parents with a child in nursery is making sure that she eats well (PG that is, not the wife – though she’s important too!). The daily routine feels crazy sometimes. Up at 6.30am, out of the door at 7.10am. Get to nursery at 7.30am and onto the office for 8am (if I’m lucky). Coming home I usually get to nursery around 5.10pm and then get home with PG around 5.45pm. If traffic is hell it can easily be after 6pm sometimes. With bed time looming it’s bloody difficult to make sure she eats well as it’s easy to be tempted to do a lazy unhealthy tea.

Now that PG is knocking on a bit at the ripe old age of two, she only gets a snack in the afternoon at nursery. As a result we have to do something when we get home. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home a couple of days a week which allows me to limit the impact and reliance on ready meals as I can get something cooking before I do the nursery run – slow cook casseroles are the bees knees in the winter, prepare it all on my lunch break and let it cook on high until we are ready to eat it. Makes the house smell like a treat too!. There is one day a week though that it’s all a bit mental, and as guilty as we both feel about it we sometimes end up giving PG a Little Dish Toddler Ready Meal.

Getting the contents right – Nutrition

I would never in a million years give PG adult ready meals due to their salt content. Little Dish have hit the nail on the head with the production of their microwave meals. They are tasty, count towards your kids’ 5-a-day, and are pretty well balanced nutritionally.

PG’s favourite is the cottage pie so let’s breakdown the nutritional data:

Typical Values 100 g 200g
Energy 399kJ/95kcal 798kJ/190kcal
Fat 4.0g 8.0g
– Of which saturates 1.4g 2.8g
Carbohydrates 9.9g 19.8g
– Of which sugars 2.5g 5.0g
Fibre 1.9g 3.8g
Protein 3.8g 7.6g
Salt 0.07g 0.14g

I’m always mindful of salt content when deciding what to give PG to eat. The NHS suggests 1 to 3 year olds should have no more than 2g of salt a day, and in this whole dish there’s only 7% of that allowance. From age 4, the RDA for natural sugars is around 19g. At 5g the sugar content is perhaps a little high, but only comes in at 25%. If you keep to the guidelines about sugary treats and drinks, I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about here.

The Little Dish toddler meals range

There’s a decent array of dishes in the Little Dish range. They have done well at catering for a variety of different tastes. Dietary needs are also support through dishes without wheat, dishes without dairy, and dishes that are vegetarian. The major supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco all stock a good selection of the range, though not all of them. The supermarkets do however seem to be expanding the range that they carry which is good to see.

Little Dish Toddler Meals Range
Little Dish Toddler Meals Range

Little Dish meals are made with 100% natural ingredients, so you know there is no artificial crap in there. As I mentioned earlier they are all low in salt and count towards your 5-a-day (each dish contains at least one of your 5-a-day). As a British company they’re proud to only contain meat and fish from Britain. Making them is child’s play – to be honest I could give it to PG and she’d probably figure out what to do. After all she’s been ‘helping’ with the microwave since she was drinking milk from a bottle! A few minutes in the microwave and ping! It’s ready to eat after cooling for a minute or two.

If we had to choose our top three favourites, I think PG would go for Cottage Pie, Fish Pie, and Beef Lasagne!

Watch out for messy eaters though, as with any tomato based products the sauce can stain like a bitch.

Seriously tomato is one of those devil foods. Every time something tomatoey comes out you can almost guarantee a t-shirt will never be the same again.

The company is super fun too, with a really friendly website with cartoons to match their brand which is obviously aimed at kids.

Other quick cooks

With the above all said, we do have some other ‘quick cooks’ which I want to share with you. These are pretty quick to make and some are cheap too!

  1. Pepperoni Pasta – this is a firm favourite of PG’s (she says Pepper Oni as though it’s too words – most amusing!). Simply boil some pasta, drain it, add tomato passata and pepperoni, and once the passata and pepperoni are hot, serve. Top with cheese for extra tastiness.
  2. Thai Green Curry. A bit more involved but still pretty quick, particularly if you buy diced chicken so you don’t have to chop the breast meat yourself. Get some boil in the bag rice boiling away in a pan. Cook the chicken in a wok, add coconut milk and Thai green curry paste (half a jar otherwise it’ll blow your head off!). Slowly bring to the boil then add mange tout for a really nice flavour. Serve the curry on top of the rice and enjoy. We eat this accompanied with prawn crackers and poppadoms.
  3. Pork Stir Fry. Fry/cook some pork steaks (don’t use loads of oil) then chop into strips so they are easily manageable by little ones. Boil some noodles and vegetables and serve. It’s especially yummy with soy sauce, but put the sauce on the table so everyone can add the flavour themselves. PG hates the stuff so we don’t cook with it.

Do you have any quick healthy eats that are a hit with the little ones? Go wild and tell me all about them, we might even try them! I think Little Dish toddler meals are a great thing to keep in the fridge just in case. They usually have pretty decent use by dates so it’s worth stocking up if you want to give them a try. If you’re lucky one of the supermarkets might even have them on offer!

Ttfn
Pete

Parking in Parent and Child Spaces – The Bees Knees of Car Parks

Parking in Parent and Child Spaces – The Bees Knees of Car Parks

Parking in supermarket car parks used to involve a long walk to the door. Not anymore folks, as long as that child is in the car with you and there’s space you can get right on the front row. All that extra space means you can drive in forwards with ease. The days of arsing about worrying you’re going to scrape the car next to you are gone. It is so exciting you will want to take the kids with you whenever you go shopping (hold that thought)

Getting there and parking up

Picture the scene. It’s pissing it down and you are going to get soaked. You’ve already got muddy pants from putting the kids in the car, and they think it’s funny to make footprints on your legs. You spent that long strapping them in that your back is soaked and your front is bone dry. By the time you get to the supermarket you already look like a fool and a shopping trip with one or more children is ahead. You pray to the parking God that one of the fabulous, front row, middle-finger-at-the-rest-of-the-world parent and child spaces is free.

There are of course, the idiots in flash cars (or just general prats) that insist on parking in these spaces with no kids. They will fill you with rage, especially if they take the last space. Be sure to unleash hell given the opportunity, questioning their morals and whether or not they are really human.

You arrive and are in luck. There is a space. They’re so easy to get into you are still doing 30mph into the space.* Parking up is a breeze and you successfully transfer the kids from the car into the shop.

Shopping with children

Ok so shopping with children is a bit like Russian roulette. The number of trips I’ve had where I’ve been constantly on edge, having bouts of supermarket anxiety because it feels like PG is about to have a full blown strop in the middle of Tesco is going up monthly. Thankfully she likes to ‘help’ with the shopping (she particularly loves trying to use the scanner when we do scan-and-pack), but we have had our fair share of shopping trip meltdowns.

The time she threw herself down in the drinks aisle and blocked little old Mary and several other shoppers from passing because she – a 2 year old who think she’s bloody Popeye – couldn’t carry six 2-litre bottles of Evian, is perhaps the most memorable.

To try and make your trip as easy as possible, here’s a list of dos and don’ts!

DO pick your shopping time carefully. Mid-morning on a Saturday is really not an ideal time to try and navigate your way around a supermarket with a whingeing child in tow.

DO stop at the free-fruit-for-kids stand and let your child pick some fruit. If you’re fast enough at shopping you might just make it to the till before that banana is finished.

DON’T give in when your child repeatedly tells you they want to walk round the shop and they’ll be really well behaved. It’s probably bullshit and you’ll be there all day.

DON’T make your child too presentable. Really young children in particular have this strange old lady magnetism and the cuter they look, the more old ladies you’ll attract. “Oh isn’t she lovely. How old is she?” type thing. Piss off Doris can’t you see this is hard enough without you interfering. You might have all day to shop but we sure as hell don’t

DO try to at least make an effort to make the shopping experience fun for the kids. We sing songs at the moment as we go round, thought don’t sing too loud otherwise Doris will hear you. PG loves paying contactless and helping load the conveyor belt from the trolley!

Shopping_Basket
DON’T attempt to carry a child in a basket. It doesn’t work.

So there we have it. A crash course in supermarket shopping with little kids. If in doubt, go by yourself!

Ttfn
Pete

*Please DON’T drive round car parks at 30mph and then try and blame me when it goes wrong

Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate

Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate

Easter is the time of year the sun always seems to shine and this year is no exception (so far). Glorious sunshine for two days, and we planned to go to do the Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate in Skipton. Having been planned for a while today was the day.

The Journey

Bolton Abbey Estate is about an hour from our house so of course this has to be meticulously planned. PG usually has her long nap in a morning and today was no exception. We set off around 9.15 which gave her almost an hour to nap. Little did we know at this point this would be the only sleep she had all day. The excitement of everything meant there was no way she was shutting her peepers for fear of missing something! When we got there we frequented the shop and bought a football (and a tacky bracelet which PG chose herself; then decided she didn’t want it after we’d paid – waste of a quid right there). We had planned to meet some friends but timing issues meant it didn’t really happen and we only crossed paths on our way back doing the egg hunt (whoops!)

Easter Egg Hunt

The hunt is a trail which is a couple of miles walk – a mile each way – which is a nice stroll alongside the river Strid.

You can collect your free Easter Egg Hunt sheet from the car parking kiosk on your way in, or the shop by the Riverside Cafe. It’s a lovely little trail and dead easy to follow, with giant glittery eggs hanging from trees leading the way. The aim of the game is to be on the lookup for bunnies, stationed along the way. Each bunny is looking after a seasonally decorated tree (think eggs, carrots or Easter baskets!) and the idea is that the children count the items in the tree and add it to their entry trail sheet. There are ten bunnies to spot, and eleven glittery eggs hanging from the trees which make up another secret anagram for you to work out when you get to the other end.

The halfway point is a good place to take a picnic and you can eat it by the river when you get half way. There’s plenty rocks to sit on – just keep the little ones close at hand as the river up there is very powerful so you don’t want the curious ones falling in. There’s plenty places to sit away from the river too, for something a bit safer!

The only real blunder was when I lost the damn trail sheet. I’d been left in charge of it for 2 bloody minutes and it managed to blow away never to be seen again. It wasn’t even flippin’ windy!

Once the trail is complete, crack the secret code then hand in your sheet for a chance to win a years pass to Bolton Abbey.

 

Bolton Abbey Estate

A bit about the place itself, Bolton Abbey is a popular spot and so arriving early is a must. The queue to get parked on a nice day later on in the morning/afternoon can get quite ridiculous. There were easily a hundred cars waiting to get into just one of the car parks as we left. Car parking is £10 per car which may seem expensive, however you can easily spend all day here. There’s plenty to do, from walking to splashing in the (bloody freezing) river Strid. The money goes into the upkeep of the incredibly well kept estate, keeping it a treasure of the Yorkshire Dales.

On arrival you will be given a leaflet of information which includes a nice map so you can’t get lost. It also points out the easy footpaths, and the not so easy footpaths. You will see lots of nature as you meander through the picturesque scenery. There are lots of different walks around the estate, plenty of which are family friendly, and some more geared towards the more ambitious walkers. You can even take a BBQ and have your tea in the designated areas – it goes without saying that a lot of work goes into keeping this place so neat and tidy so please don’t litter!!

The facilities dotted around the place deserve a little mention at this point. We found the prices of items in the gift shop, that we looked at at least, very reasonable. The cafe that we saw was very clean and tidy. Unfortunately this weekend the toilet situation was a bit of a problem. The main loos were being refurbished so porta-loos were provided. Everyone hates porta-loos but I don’t think this can be held against Bolton Abbey. Refits have to be done at some point and not matter when they choose it would be inconvenient so may as well just get on with it! Make sure you pay a visit to the stepping stones which are great fun, and go all the way across the river.

 

All in all, a bloody marvelous day. Wifey and I think this will become an annual tradition. I’m sure PG will only love it more as she gets older! I’d definitely recommend a trip to Bolton Abbey, particular on a sunny day. The scenery is truly stunning and if you’re into Geocaching, there’s plenty of that too!

Have a lovely Easter.

Ttfn
Pete

Spring! Time to get outside and dust off the garden toys

Spring! Time to get outside and dust off the garden toys

Ok so as with most my posts, this is a little overdue given spring officially starts in March. I’m well aware my online punctuality is crap – please leave any complaint in the comments below. Spring is time to head outside and dust off the garden toys!

This is PG’s first real spring, where she’s been active enough to really start to enjoy it. Weather wise it got off to a bit of a rubbish start (in true British fashion) but we’ve had some really decent days over the last week so it’s been out with the garden toys and into the fresh air.

PG was lucky enough to get a slide for Christmas which spent several weeks in the front room much to her delight. As we rotate her toys though it eventually ended up in the garage to be brought out this week, along with her swing, which we got last summer, and a super cool Little Tikes Climb n Slide that one of Wifey’s colleagues kindly gave us after her kids grew out of it – thank you dear chums. PG absolutely LOVES it.

The first thing any fun dad should do when retrieving slides from their winter home is to whack out the Mr Sheen.

There’s nothing worse than a shit slide (don’t look this up on Urban Dictionary – especially you Mum. Apparently it’s slang for your bum).

I’m even thinking about taking Mr Sheen with us whenever we go to the park. I know councils are having to endure eye watering cuts but the least they could do is make sure the slides in the local parks are actually slippery. Poor PG nearly ended up head over heels the other week because her feet didn’t slide and she flung herself forwards in excitement. Thankfully I caught her before she hit the deck.

Slides polished? Good. Get the little one to test it out but make sure you’re stood near the fence so you can catch her before she shoots over the top.

PG absolutely loves being outside and we spend many a happy evening before bedtime in the garden. We spent the weekend with our friends, and their daughter E who has a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car. PG is obsessed with it to the point we had a serious tantrum when E wanted a turn, in her own car, that PG had been playing with all day. A quick lesson/telling off about sharing (a nap was also required) and full happiness resumed. The bad news is it’s cost me 40-odd quid on her own car which should be delivered next week (woo! all fun apart from having to build it).

Playing outside in Spring before the sharing tantrum!
Pre-tantrum!

The additional bad news is that we now can’t open the blinds in the kitchen on a morning until it’s actually a reasonable time of day to venture out into the garden. We had tears at 6.50am today because she thought it was acceptable play outside at that time of day. Heck some of the birds were still asleep – slow down kid.

We’ve also resumed our long pram walks and found a lovely park in the village next to where we live. It’s a good little walk with swings, slides and a climbing frame for PG to explore when we get there. More tears when it’s time to come home (are you getting the jist of how it goes yet?). I think she’d stay outside 24/7 if we’d let her.

The good news is that she tires herself right out running round the garden or park. I really don’t know where she gets her energy from sometimes. We all come home knackered. It’s a fight to see if Wifey and I can stay awake past 7pm never mind PG getting through to bedtime!!

 

I’m very much looking forward to the next few months and spending more time. The little smasher is more fun every single day and we are chuffed to bits she enjoys being outdoors so much. When she’s a bit older we can introduce her to Geocaching which I’m sure she’ll also love! We’ve a lovely woods near our house where we’ll also be taking her soon!

Oh, and don’t forget to tether your swings to the the ground somehow. PG has put on a bit of timber over the last 12 months – not much mind. This coupled with her desire to swing higher than ever before, she nearly ended up tipping the thing over. Whoops!

What do you enjoy doing in the spring and summer?

Ttfn
Pete

 

All Bunged Up (Again)

All Bunged Up (Again)

As soon as we’re over one cold we seem to get another. Perhaps it’s that time of year (or perhaps other parents should keep their sick children home from nursery. Seriously people. At nursery yesterday there was a kid whose eyes and nose were streaming, had rosy cheeks and looked pretty unwell – and now everyone’s suffering!) Anyway, here I am. Wifey is out with work tonight and won’t be back till late and I’ve got a seriously stuffed up daughter who is struggling to sleep, so I’ve left her to it while I write this (don’t worry I’m pausing when she needs me!!!!)

Why is it always night time when they are the worst? She’s been OK all day until about 4pm, then once I got home from work I had to play super dad and chop carrots while cuddling her and making sure she didn’t manage to grab the carrot chopping knife off me. I know, not safe, but you do what you’ve got to do – just be thankful I didn’t drop her in the carrot boiling pan either. After practising my culinary skills and cooking up a feast of cheesy omelette, carrots and peas, all of which she loves (yes I know they don’t really go together. Thursday teas have to be quick teas), she had about 4 mouthfuls and then wasted the rest of it. Hey ho, she did OK with her milk at bed time after she’d just sat and snuggled up to me watching In The Night Garden (this though, was truly lovely. It’s not often she wants to sit and cuddle at the moment as she’s such a big adventurer, Miss Independent you might say…). Fast forward a bit and I’ve been into her twice already and it’s only 8.40pm, so I suspect we are in for a rough night, not least because Wifey has forgotten her keys so I’ll have to let her in at midnight (minus 10 wife points).

So why the post. I don’t know – I’m a bit miserable as I’ve also felt kak for over a week now but I get genuinely sad when PG goes to bed not feeling well. It’s properly crap. After a long hard day at work I look forward to coming home and having an hour playing with her before we the bedtime routine starts, and I miss it when she’s feeling off it. It’s doubly poo having to sit and listen to her struggling to breathe on the monitor (the Calpol plugin helps here!!). Perhaps this feeling subsides as they get a bit older. She’s still a newbie to life and I’m still a newbie at playing Daddy in the grand scheme of things.

Feel better tomorrow little one – we’ll look after you 🙂

Ttfn

Pete