Saturday, 27 July 2013

10 activities to keep your toddler busy and you sane!

Being a stay-at-home mum is wonderful but it has its challenges.  Coming up with things for us to do every single day is something that I struggle with.  As Miss E gets older I can see she is wanting more attention and needing more things planned for her.

There are lots of posts like this out there, and I'm no expert, but I thought I would share some simple activities that I have found useful to help me get through the day and week without going too crazy!  If we do one or two of these a day I feel like we've had a good day!

Some of these are fun little activities to do at home and some are things you can do away from home, because let's face's nice to get out of the house every now and then!

Activity One

Play dough! I found this great play dough recipe on pinterest after a friend pointed me in the right direction.  I had never made play dough before, but this was so easy and is so soft that I don't think I will use any other recipe.  I don't have any good pictures to show you so I am just going to borrow one from the lady on pinterest and you can go straight there and get the recipe from her! :) (recipe here)

click here for her website

Activity two

Painting.  I have blogged about this before, but it is something that Miss E loves doing.  The recipe is super easy (click here for recipe) and perfect for when they "accidentally" get some in their mouth.  I find it's best to do this outside, but I know some people who set their toddler up in the high chair and cover the tray with newspaper and let them go nuts with it.  Whatever you can handle I say!

homemade finger paint

Activity three

Painting with water.  If you can't hand the messy paint then this one is PERFECT! We do this far more often than real painting and Miss E doesn't even seem to know the difference.

paint with water

Grab a brush and a bowl of water and let them get to work.  E likes to "paint" the outdoor table (this works well because the water shows up on the wooden furniture) but she has also "painted" the fence and the concrete before.

When she is finished she thinks it's fun to drink the rest of the water out of the bowl...

Activity four

Water based play.  This one is simple but be prepared for things to get a bit wet.

Fill a tub with some water and bubbles and throw in some toys and sponges and let them get wet! Some bottles or containers to pour water into are always extra fun so make sure you have some of those handy.

 water based play

As they get a bit older you can show them how to clean with the cloth.  Put a few cars in the water and do a "car wash".  They will LOVE it!

Activity five

Nature collage.  We really enjoyed this one and as she gets older I think she will enjoy it more.

nature collage

Take a walk around your home or at the park and collect "bits of nature" for your collage.  It's okay if they choose things that won't stick to the paper, you can talk to them about that as you do the collage.

We used PVA glue and regular computer paper.

Now the collage hangs nicely on the fridge and Miss E walks past every now and then and pulls somethings off!

Activity six

Gluing and shapes learning activity.  You could really do anything using the same concept but since Miss E is still quite young I thought I would just start with shapes.  But be adventurous! Plan something based around anything your toddler is in to. 

crepe paper learning

Just plain old crepe paper, glue and computer paper.  I drew a few shapes, scrunched up the crepe paper into balls and let E stick them on to the shape (which I had already put glue on).  She was a bit more interested in the glue than sticking things to it, but she got the idea eventually.
The older they get, the more helpful they will be too.  This one is great for fine motor skills.

Activity seven

Dancing!  Turn the music on and just dance! It's great when a toddler doesn't know that you are a lousy dancer! Have some fun together and enjoy being silly.

Activity eight

Visit the park.  Sometimes it's nice just to be outside.

We are lucky enough to have a park (not this one) within walking distance.  These days I let Miss E walk (rather than take the pram).  We spend just as much time getting there as we do playing at the park, but that's part of the fun.

It's also a great way to meet other people and for your toddler to play with other kids (if they don't get to do that very often).

Activity nine

Go to the library.  We don't do this as often as we should, but it is always fun when we go.  The library we go to has a little play area (which is what we usually do).  We often sit and read a few books on the nice comfy cushions, but it's probably about time that we actually borrowed some to bring home!

Activity ten

Go outside!  Sometimes the best activity can simply be spending some time together outside.  Go for a walk, weed the garden, play in the dirt, ride bikes...

Nothing gets rid of the crazies like some good old sunshine!

activities for toddlers

Thursday, 18 July 2013

"sew" much more

Sew many delights has turned into more about 'delights' and less about 'sew', so I thought I should catch up on the 'sew'.

I am surprised by how much I love sewing.  I really thought it would be a phase that came and went, but alas, it continues! Maybe it's just a long phase...

My mum gave me my sewing machine for my first Mother's day (thanks mum! Although, I'm pretty sure I should have got her a present, not the other way around...)

This is my little sewing nook.  Many a nap time has been spent here trying to come up with new ideas or to quickly finish something off.  In an ideal world one nap time should be all I need to sew something beautiful, right?!?  REALITY check!  Many frustrations have been had in front of these two machines.  My best/worst friend (the quick-unpick) is always right by my side.

I am developing an addiction fabric - hopefully it doesn't get out of control...too much :)

I inherited this pile from my Aunt this week.  I'm so excited! I LOVE looking at fabric and dreaming about all the things I wish I actually knew how to sew! ha ha!  Maybe one day.

Some days I don't feel like sewing at all, but most of the time I love to sit down and CREATE!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Food Friday

Things have been quite busy around here so I haven't had much time for blogging.  I managed to squeeze some baking in during the week though, so Food Friday has made it this week...

Spinach and Cheese Scones

250g Frozen spinach (thawed, chopped and drained)
2 1/2 cups SR flour (sifted)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
50g chopped butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
extra flour for kneading

Preheat oven 240 degrees celcius / 220 degrees celcius fan-forced.
Sift flour and caster sugar into a medium bowl.  Rub in the butter.  Stir in grated cheese and chopped spinnach (I always forget to chop it!).  Stir in milk and mix to a soft, sticky dough.  Turn dough onto floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.  Press dough into about 2cm thickness and cut round shapes (a glass works well if you don't have a cookie cutter)  Place the scones, just touching, in a pan lined with baking paper.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes depending on size and your oven.  Serve warm.

This recipe says it serves 16 but I usually get about 10.  I cook them for about 16 minutes at 220 degrees celcius (fan-forced).

You can freeze these scones (uncooked) for up to one month.  Bake from frozen and add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time.  - I haven't tried this yet, but if you do and it works, let me know!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Wrapped around her finger!

It would seem our precious E has me wrapped around her finger.  Not even her little's her index finger (that one is a whole lot stronger).

I was putting her to bed the other night and as usual, sang her a song.  When I had finished she waved her index finger at me to indicate that she would like another song.  Oh, okay then, so I started to sing our "bedtime song" - go to sleep, go to sleep etc.  To my horror she screamed and waved that finger some more.  It seems she doesn't like the "bedtime song" anymore.  Perhaps she knows it signifies that it's time for sleep! 

So I picked a different song.  "The Wheels on the Bus" seemed to be a better choice.  As I finished the first verse, she waved some more for the next verse.  Hmmmm.

Five verses later...I put her in her cot.  Then in her little voice she whispered "pair" (meaning prayer).  So we said a prayer.  THEN, out came the finger again for another song! Really?? But how can I say no? That finger is strong (I am soft) and she knows EXACTLY what she is doing! Cheeky monkey!

Finally after 3 "pairs" and half a dozen songs I left the room.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Food Friday

A somewhat "healthy" date loaf recipe.

I love date loaf, and remember mum always making it when I was a kid.  This isn't her recipe though...sorry mum :)  This one is a bit simpler.


1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
60g butter or margarine (chopped)
1 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cups sifted SR flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Simply put the chopped dates, sugar and butter in a heatproof bowl.  Add the boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves and the butter is melted. Add the vanilla essence.
Add the sifted flour and bicarb soda and mix until all combined.
Pour into a greased loaf tin (not a very big one, this isn't a big cake) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees.  Every oven is different so check if it is cooked before taking it out of the oven.

And there you have it, quick and simple "healthy" date loaf recipe!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

a day OFF

This week my husband surprised me by giving me a day off.  The BEST surprise!

I was presented with this lovely card and chocolate bar (because I am a marvellous creation...aww)

and this Royal Decree.  (He is fun like that)

With babysitting arrangements taken care of, he planned some activities for me so I wouldn't be tempted to stay home and clean!  He knows me very well.

First stop - Thai Foot Spa.  This was AMAZING!  When you wake yourself up with your own heavy breathing (that moment before you start snoring) you know you are relaxed! I could have stayed there all day.

Next stop - Lunch with Mr Incredible.  I can't remember the last time we had lunch together by ourselves.  It was so peaceful.

Last stop - The beauty salon.  Just to make me feel beautiful.

I managed to squeeze in a few hours of sewing as well!

I had some time for reflection on this day off.  Being a mum is a tough job.  Even though I only have one child (those of you with 2, 3, 4, 5... children - you are AMAZING!) there are some very hard days.  I always feel guilty if I spend time and money on myself and generally don't. So this was the best surprise my husband could give me!

Mums - you need to look after yourselves!  If you haven't had a "day off" in a while....or ever...go and have one! I don't think we always need to spend money and do extravagant things, but just having a little time to be you helps you to be a better you!  They're my thoughts anyway.  :)

If we could only do this more often - 

“How beautiful is it to rest and then do nothing afterward”  Spanish proverb

I feel rejuvenated, ready to tackle the next 18 months....although I'm hoping I get another "day off" surprise before then ;)

Friday, 21 June 2013

Food Friday

A winter warmer - Thai Green Curry (chicken)

This is a favourite in our house.  I used to make it once a week, but I got slack and hadn't made it for a while...until last night...


It is so EASY!

You will need this:

Follow the directions on the jar for a very delicious green curry.

I like to make it my own.  This is how I usually make it (I have had to tone down the curry spice for E. For some reason she doesn't like it spicy :) so this is a mild version):


Chicken breast (usually about 300 grams)
1 small onion
1-2 tbspn Valcom green curry paste
2 tbspn fish sauce
2 tspn Castor sugar
2 x 400ml cans light coconut milk/cream
green capsicum
3 cups basmati rice

Slice the chicken breasts and the onion and chop the vegetables.  I will usually use any green vegetable I have, so don't be scared to use other vegetables.

Cook the rice now.

Heat some olive oil in a pan (about 2 tablespoons).  Cook the onion for 30 seconds and add the curry paste and stir for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Don't burn the paste!  Add the chicken and cook until just cooked.  Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar and bring to the boil.  (I use two tins of coconut milk to reduce the spice.  If you like it spicy, and without much sauce, just use one).

Add the vegetables and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

This quantity will feed our family of 3 for two meals with some left over.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Life's a Happy Song...

E has just started singing (it's more like a hum). It is so fun to hear!  She goes about doing her things and hums along.  It means she is happy and there is no greater feeling than knowing your children are happy, no matter how old they are.

 "Those who wish to sing always find a song"

Have you ever tried to sing while you are angry or upset?  It doesn't work.  You either can't sing, or it changes your mood into a happier one.  There is something about good music that just washes your woes away and brightens up your day. 

  “Music is truly the universal language, and when it is excellently expressed how deeply it moves our souls.” -- David O. McKay,

E loves playing her instruments and tinkering away at the piano...and doing things she shouldn't to the piano...

I love that she loves music. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The "To Do" list

I'm not really one to write lists for things, but sometimes when the list in my head gets too long I need to put it on paper. 

Today was one of those days.

My "To Do" list is mostly self inflicted.  I am not good at doing nothing, so I'm constantly coming up with new things to do (as if I don't already have a million things to do), and then every now and then everything seems due at once. I find myself avoiding doing anything on the list, which actually makes me feel worse.  I don't think procrastinating makes anyone feel good (doing a blog post is not on my list of things to do today).

Food for thought:
 “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” ~ M. Scott Peck
I've often heard that things we want to do should be on our list along with things we need to do.  Life would be so dull if we only ever did the things that need to be done!

It seems that the things which are most important are never on my list.  We don't write lists for these things, yet they are what make us happiest:  tell your family you love them, play with your children as if you have nothing else to do, smile!

Perhaps a "To Be" list is more important than a "To Do" list.

Be kind
Be patient
Be happy
Be present

I have found that whatever kind of list we have, it's best to just tackle one thing at a time.


This is perfect:
 “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.” ~ Emerson

Friday, 14 June 2013

Food Friday

Friday sure does come around quickly!

It has been a lazy cooking week this week so I don't even have anything really fun to share.  Only 3 weeks in and I'm already falling behind.  Yikes.

One snack that we have really been enjoying though is these banana pancakes I found on Pinterest.
Banana Pancakes

It only takes 5 minutes from the thought to make them to devouring them.

1 ripe banana (mashed)
2 eggs

Add a touch of vanilla and cinnamon for extra flavour. 

Whisk is all together, cook in a frying pan for 20-30 seconds, flip and you're done!

Great served with berries or ... maple syrup of course (but then I think that takes the "healthy" out of them)

A great afternoon snack.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Rainy Day Monday

What to do on a rainy day?

After what seems like a week of grey and bleak weather, and spending far too many days indoors, I thought I should try and come up with something a little bit out of the ordinary to help us get through another day inside.

This is E's favourite thing to do...

But instead we found some balloons!

Every child loves balloons, right?  You can throw them, kick them, bounce them, run around them...hours of fun (well, minutes if you're a one year old, but I'm sure they will still be fun when she wakes up from her nap!)

We can't go past the felt board activity.  E still loves it!  I have the board tucked away beside a cupboard but she knows exactly where it is and pulls it out at least once a day.  It's perfect for a stuck inside rainy day too.

and for lunch....

A pancake picnic!  This was fun.  Although by the time I got it ready E had already eaten a pancake whilst lying down on the kitchen floor.  I guess she was ready for bed already :)  But she still joined us for some more on the picnic blanket.

The best and easiest pancake recipe ever (thanks to some wonderful friends ;) )

1 cup of SR flour
1 cup of milk
1 egg

That is all!

Top with whatever you like (works great with yoghurt and fruit...or unhealthy like us...lots of maple syrup!)

And now that she is sleeping peacefully, I can do the best rainy day activity of all...SEW!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Food Friday

Homemade Pizza! 

Nothing beats your own homemade pizza with your own homemade pizza base!

After many different pizza base recipes over the years I have settled on this one.  It works perfectly every time and tastes great!

This one is from Jamie Oliver (see link here)

Makes 6 to 8 medium-sized thin pizza bases



1 kg white bread flour or '00' flour, or 800g strong white bread flour or Tipo '00' flour, plus 200g finely ground semolina flour (I use the '00' flour and then plain flour for kneading if required) 

1 teaspoon fine sea salt 

2 x 7 g dried yeast sachets 

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

650 ml lukewarm water

Visit Jamie Oliver's page for the recipe instructions :)  Click here

Top it with your favourite ingredients!

I freeze the left over dough in 2 base lots.  Just put them in a freezer bag and seal!  They thaw easy and still make great pizzas.  I love being able to pull them out of the freezer during the day when I don't feel like cooking dinner.

We use a pizza stone in the oven to cook our pizza, but if you don't have one I am sure a normal tray would work well too.  

Do you have a pizza base recipe that you love?  Please share it!

I think we might have pizza tonight! :)  

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mummy more?

This morning I sat down to have my breakfast.  E had already had her own but for some reason she liked the look of mine.  The same thing happened at dinner tonight - she had finished hers and then wanted to get started on mine!

I actually remember doing this as a kid.  Mum's food always seemed better than mine, although I can't remember wanting to eat her dinner - just the "snacks" she would make, and always her drink!  I am sure she shared more times than she wanted to.

I loved it when I could eat whatever I wanted to without having to share!
Lately I have found myself sneaking to the cupboard and very quietly getting something to eat so that I don't have to share it ha ha!  Surely I'm not the only person who does this?  As soon as there is a crinkle of paper, or even a slight noise in the cupboard, I hear an instant patter of footsteps making their way to the kitchen..."mummy more?"
"Sharing is good because it makes everyone happy"
Maybe I should apply this to my life...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Little wet kisses

The other night, as I was preparing dinner, E came up and put her arms around my legs and let out a big MmmmAAAHHH (that's her interpretation of a kiss).  As she held my legs for that brief second I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of love for this little person.  How blessed I feel to be able to be her mother, and what a great responsibility I have to teach her what is right.  

Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood. Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, none other is so serious. To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges. The good result from such efforts becomes life’s most satisfying compensation.     - Gordon B Hinckley

She proceeded to find her daddy and give him some kisses as well.

These little moments are the best!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Food Friday

Food, glorious food! It's no secret that I love food!   I have a big sweet tooth - that's no secret either :) but I struggle to come up with meal ideas each night, so it seems like we end up having the same old thing over and over again. 

I thought it would be fun to post a recipe each week. I'm calling it "Food Friday".  I am hoping that my lovely readers out there will help me out with some of their recipe ideas as well! Feel free to leave comments and link to other recipes ideas.

This week's recipe is one I made a few nights ago - Spinach and Ricotta lasagne.

It is really a cannelloni recipe that I adapted because I didn't have any cannelloni :)


250g frozen spinach thawed
500g fresh ricotta
1 egg
1/2 chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt & pepper
lasagne sheets
2 tins crushed tomatoes (or equivalent passata)
500ml water
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup oregano chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese

Bechamel Sauce:
60g butter
1/3 cup flour
4 1/2 cups milk (add as needed)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Combine spinach, ricotta, egg, parley, Parmesan, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Combine tomatoes, water, garlic and oregano.  Alternate layers of tomato mixture, lasagne sheets and spinach filling until mixture has been used.  Top with Bechamel sauce and grated cheese.  Cook for 35-40 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

To make sauce - melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir until combined.  Cook for a minute (do not burn) gradually add milk, stirring constantly, until desired consistency.

And there you have it.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Busy Sewing

I have been busy sewing a few "Playground Ruffles" this past week.  I think they look great! :)

I LOVE this fabric.  I bought it thinking I would make dresses with it, but I think it looks perfect as a "Playground Ruffle".

This Big Sister, Little Sister set is sooo cute!  I can't wait for them to receive it :)

I love buying fabric!  It is even better when I have someone to buy it for. I found these cute fabrics for my niece. 


Grubbee is now on facebook (visit us here)! It's very exciting.

Thank you to every one who has visited our madeit store, liked us on facebook and ordered something!  And thank you to everyone else who just enjoys just reading the blog.  :)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sneaking out!

Recently I posted about sneaking cuddles.  Well now it's just about sneaking OUT!

For the last few days little E has been unwell.  I forgot that when she is unwell all the routines and sleeping patterns go out the window.  She has kept us up all night just because she wanted someone to be with her.  I get that. When you are unwell you want some extra love and attention, but it's become a little bit ridiculous.

My husband and I have taken turns (as she has woken frequently during the night) to go in and put her back to sleep.  Let me just say, E is usually a pretty good sleeper.  She goes to bed with minimal fuss and is usually still awake when we leave the room.  But not when she is sick.  When she wakes she wants us to pat her back to sleep and not leave!  So it became a mission to get out of her room.
We have very creaky floorboards.

I've tried backing away, one step at a time, inching towards the door.  Just when I thought I had made it, Creak! Scream! more patting.

I've tried imagining myself floating above the floorboards. Obviously I can't float.  Creak! Scream! more patting.

I've even tried strategically placing my feet wide apart to avoid the creaks.  Creak! Scream! more patting, shushing, stern talking - GO TO SLEEP.

I've worn socks.

I haven't worn socks.

I stepped on blankets.

My husband patted her through the cot bars and even tried crawling out.  ha ha ha!  But all he got was Creak! Scream! and back in for more patting.

Ahhh and so it has been going for a few nights. 

We tried letting her cry, but after a few minutes she couldn't breathe through the extra snot and tears, and her bed was soaked.

I made up this song when E was a baby. I sing it to her as I am putting her to bed each night.  It goes like this:

Go to sleep, go to sleep;
go to sleep my baby,
go to sleep, go to sleep; 
go to sleep.

Close your eyes, close your eyes;
go to sleep,
close your eyes, close your eyes;
go to sleep.

The words have been getting more stern.   GO to sleep, GO to sleep, GO TO SLEEP my baby....

And then I just figured when she is well again she will go back to sleeping well again.  I love my sleep, but I love E too.  For now I will do what mothers do and help to make her comfortable.

Quiet Book

I have had a few requests to post pictures of the Quiet Book I made for E.

Firstly, let me say, hats off to anyone who has ever made a Quiet Book!  They are tedious, annoying and HARD!

I started this project about a year ago, and it's still not finished.  I had grand ideas of making this intricate book that would keep E entertained and quiet for ages, especially during church. Sadly, I haven't quite managed that.

Here is what I came up with:

Button hole flowers with co-ordinating button colours; counting beads.

Laundry basket with clothes pegs and line and boy and girl to dress up.

Paint palette with Velcro paint spots and paintbrush; caterpillar with press studs and cocoon pouch.

Apple tree with Velcro apples and basket for counting.  Back cover holds paper pad and crayons.

The pages are made from calico with felt stitched on.  The cover (which is not finished) is made from quilting fabric.   

Each page measures 12 x 11 inches before being stitched together.  Roughly 11 x 10 inches after stitching.

I used hinge rings through eyelets to keep it together. Perfect for adding more pages later - which is a perfect idea.



Hopefully one day I will get the energy and motivation to make some more pages, and finish the cover :)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Boys adjustable neck tie

After many hours, many variations and many pieces of advice, we have come up with this version of an adjustable boys neck tie. 

"Just Like Dad"

The "Just Like Dad" fabrics will have your special little man looking like dad (or grandad) in no time!

The neck ties are made from 100% cotton which means they are perfect for 'grubbee' little boys.  Totally washable (take a little bit of care when washing though).

The adjustable neck strap is made from elastic with a button hole loop and velcro for easy adjustment. 

 ... and now we have changed it!

boys neck tie
The adjustable neckties are now made with a velcro close, making it easy to adjust and remove.  I still love the old style, but found that the velcro makes it easier to put on and take off!  All the "just like dad" fabrics are still available for the velcro necktie!

Visit my madeit store (click here) or the grubbee facebook page for purchase details and sizing options.

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