Saturday 30 April 2016

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe text on picture of Macaroni Cheese

Making Macaroni Cheese with a toddler. Impossible you think, well you'd be wrong! OK it does take a lot bit longer but where were you going anyway? I look at it like messy play. I expect a mess, I want Bear to actually get involved. I hate the cleaning up after but unlike messy play you at least have a meal at the end.

Just remember this is a recipe for ONE toddler, if you have more than one I have no idea how you can keep an eye on what they are doing and cook. Takeaways and ready meals are your only answer!


Tuesday 26 April 2016

A Cardiff Garden In April

Welcome to my Cardiff garden in April. It is full of colour and fresh growth. Surprisingly the early Spring didn't continue and a lot of plants are further behind than last year. This time last year the cherry was covered in blossom, it is about two weeks behind this year. Hopefully I will get some cherries and the blossoms won't all fall off before they are ripe.

We also get to welcome back our favourites and smile because they survived another Winter. The maples, beech hedges, Pieris and the herbaceous plants too.

Please enjoy my garden as we look forward to the summer.

A Cardiff Garden In April red tulips
Gorgeous Red Tulips


Bear Amongst The Bluebells

I wanted to get some photo's of Bear amongst the bluebells but poor Bear has had another cold with a nasty cough so we've decided to stay close to home this week. We are really lucky living in Cardiff. We have woods, parks, beaches and mountains all within an hours drive. We also have the most amazing bluebell wood just 15 minutes from our house.
It was sunny and Arctic cold when we set off early this morning, brr! Luckily we were driving against all the commuter traffic travelling into Cardiff. I am so glad that we do not have to do that any more. After our little photo shoot we found a den in the woods, Bear had a quick explore then it was time to go home.

Bear Amongst The Bluebells

Bear Amongst The Bluebells Toddler deep in thought sat on log
Bear Amongst The Bluebells


Monday 25 April 2016

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti! We've had a busy week. We started the week with Bear singing along with Aled Jones. Well Aled was on the TV and Bear just joined in, the picture is a bit blurry but too cute to leave out.

We've been hunting for treasure at Castell Coch, had fun on the swings and slide at our local playground and searched for Luke Skywalker at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean.

You can read more about our visits by clicking the links above.

We did have a wonderful week. It was great watching Star Wars Episode VII on Saturday, it has a great fight scene filmed at Puzzlewood, we kept saying "we've been there!".

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti. toddler singing
Singing with Aled Jones 

Singing, Star Wars and Spagetti toddler in front of fairytale casle
Just about to go treasure hunting at Castell Coch

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti toddler on swing laughing at man on swing
Bear laughing at Grandad on a baby swing

toddler face down on slide

Puzzlewood Woodland scene
Luke! Luke! Where are you?

toddler running towards camera with rocks covered in plants
Bear running from something in the woods

toddler at picnic table
Bear looking at our picnic guest, a very friendly cat, at Puzzlewood

toddler kneeling next to adult looking at pyjama's
Bear and Grandad discussing the pattern on his pj's

toddler with red face and bowl of spagetti
Bear enjoying his spaghetti. Some actually got into his mouth

What's new this week?

Bear had his 18 month check up with the Health Visitor on Friday and she was really, really pleased with him. We are all so proud of him. Well done Bear and Mummy and Daddy too.

Bears speech is so good now, it's not just us that can understand him and he's really stringing words together.

Bear has a couple of made up words. For a long time he has called glasses (spectacles) lowers, like flowers but without the "f". No idea why.

He now calls milk a cross between miow and mow. It would rhyme with cow but it isn't cow.

We are hoping for nice weather next week so we can get out again and explore more places.

Where should we go next week?


Sunday 24 April 2016

#MySundayPhoto Number 17

#MySundayphoto number 17. Man and toddler walking away with woods around and a bridge in the foreground. All lines point to them

#MySundayPhoto Number 17 was a difficult one as we have done so much this week and have so many photo's. I have chosen a picture of Bear and his Grandad.

They are walking away from Castell Coch near Cardiff. They look like they are deep in conversation. The lines of the railings point to them. Although they are a small part of the image they are the only important thing in the picture.

I wonder what are they saying to each other?


Saturday 23 April 2016

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

I was lucky to meet Helen at Traverse16, a bloggers conference, and she invited me and Bear to visit her magical woodland at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. Puzzlewood* is a fantastic place for children of all ages, from toddlers to big kids!

You may not have heard of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. It is a little piece of magic just outside Coleford, just 50 minutes from our home in Cardiff. When you see our pictures I am sure it will look familiar. It has been used as a set for films and TV. Merlin, Star Wars, Dr Who, Atlantis, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hidden Kingdoms are just a few.

What's there for a toddler? Animals, a toddler race track, indoor maze, willow maze, treasure hunt and the wood. It's not suitable for buggy's so be prepared to carry your little ones a bit.

We decided to follow in famous footsteps and make our own documentary. OK it's still pictures and a bit blurry in places but here is.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

We started our visit looking at the animals. Bear loved them and was able to mimic them all. A snort for Lucy the pig, an eeore at the donkeys, moo to the cows, baa at the sheep and twitchy nose at the rabbits.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores collage of a  toddler pointing at rabbits, cows, horses, a pig and sheep
Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores
Look Nanny! Lucy the pig, sheep, cows, rabbits and ponies


Friday 22 April 2016

Crabtree & Evelyn - HUGE Factory Sale

Crabtree & Evelyn are having a HUGE factory Sale at their Pontyclun outlet store. It runs from 28th April until 2nd May and has over 100 products at £5 or less.

Crabtree & Evelyn - HUGE Factory Sale. product image

So why am I telling you this? Have you ever tried a product and been totally hooked? I hadn't either until I tried their Verbena and Lavender Body Lotion. I have been looking for ages for a light body lotion, that absorbs rapidly and doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy. This just fits the bill and with their factory sale next week I can stock up, maybe try some other products and you can too.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch

We had an hour free on Monday afternoon and thought we would go searching for treasure at Castell Coch. We are very lucky, we have a fairytale castle only a 10 minutes drive away and as we are members of CADW entrance is free. It is usually £6 per adult. They have audio guides but it needs to be held to your ear so I couldn't use it and chase Bear, headphones would have been easier.

For those who are unfamiliar with Castell Coch, it means Red Castle in Welsh. It sits amongst woodland on a hillside just next to the village of Tongwynlais. It is a new castle rebuilt in the 1870's on Norman foundations. It was designed by William Burges for the very wealthy Marquess of Bute. I was hoping for sunshine but it was a bit chilly and Castell Coch is perfect for these sorts of days because so much is indoors.

All castles have their stories and it is said that treasure was hidden in the castle by a Cavalier during the Civil War. He never came back from the war but his ghost is said to haunt the castle searching for the treasure.

Many have tried to find it but we had an advantage, we had Bear! Off we went searching for treasure at Castell Coch.

Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch Toddler running to entrance
Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch - Bears off!

toddler looking in grating
Is it under here?

KItchen furnished as in medieval times
Or in the kitchen?

spiral staircase going down
Or down here?

toddler opening green cupboard with jug and bowl on top
Maybe in this wash stand?

Toddler with hand in carving of lion on a chair arm
Or in the lions mouth?

dining table with grand fireplace behind
In the dining room?
toddler running away across a room
In here! Lets look in here!

picture of portcullis
No! Just a portcullis

toddler looking at steps going up
Not in the dungeon, so back up the steps

toddler looking at glass case housing wooden dogs and huntsmen on horses
Not in the box with the Pentyrch Hunt

Winding gear with very blurred image of toddler
Is that a ghost? Or a treasure hunter?

castle courtyard with toddler on balcony and man holding same toddler in window
Spooky! Bear on the balcony and with Grandad in the window! Which is the ghost?

collage of the wall decorations. Beautifully painted scenes on walls and birds on the ceiling
The interior is stunning.
porcullis looking up at it
The portcullis ready to stop treasure hunters from entering (or leaving)

man and toddler in distance walking away from castle
"We didn't find the treasure, Grandad"  "No, but there's always next time."

We had a great time at Castell Coch. There was so much more to see that we missed on our whistle stop tour. They have a shop and a cafe that gets very good reviews. The views from the towers are also spectacular so we must come back.

The castle is on a steep hill with a few disabled parking spaces next to the castle but, like most castles, there are loads of steps. There are baby changing facilities but I would say the site is not buggy friendly.
It was great for a toddler though, Bear loved it.

Have you been to Castell Coch?

Bear and Cardigan. Drawing of a teddybear and a cardigan

*We purchased our CADW membership ourselves


Monday 18 April 2016

A Toddler Who Lunches. IKEA and Al Fresco.

A toddler who lunches. IKEA and al fresco is our round-up this week. I keep thinking I should have a theme for Bears weekly round-up like #1, #2 or start at "A" and each week have a new letter. Sounds good until I get to X. Xylophones and Xerophytes. Mmm not sure of that. I'd have to buy a xylophone and let Bear play with cacti.

I post them on a Monday so something beginning with "M".  Monday Memoirs? Monday Minutes? Mad Mondays? Oh well, this week it's a Toddler Who Lunches. IKEA and Al Fresco.

We started the week with a rubbish weather forecast so had some games lined up that we could play indoors. I made a few cards with animals printed on them and gave them to Bear. He loved sorting them, tucking them under his leg and making the noises of the animals.

A Toddler Who Lunches. IKEA and Al Fresco.playing with cards
Bear playing cards

Even though the weather wasn't so good Bear just wanted to get out and as the children were back at school we thought we'd be brave and visit IKEA. It would be our first visit with Bear and we decided to have our lunch there too.

It was raining heavily when we arrived and the under cover car park was full. "Be brave" I said to myself, it can't be that bad. We found a trolley and a lift and arrived at the cafe with people walking away shaking their heads and muttering "it's crazy, we'll try later".

A Toddler Who Lunches. IKEA and Al Fresco.toddler standing in a shopping trolley
Beep, beep!

Bear was hungry so we pushed on. There were empty tables and a very long queue on the right, I pushed Bear to the left to have a look at the cooked meals.

"Can I help you?" said the man serving "What would you like?"
"I don't want to push in" I said feeling no guilt at all
"No, you are not. There are 2 queues just no-one is at this one"
"Fish and chips twice please."

I kept my head down, sent Grandad to get a table and paid. It took about 5 minutes in total.

A Toddler Who Lunches. IKEA and Al Fresco.toddler drinking water
Bear enjoying his drink

I was surprised at all the facilities for babies and toddlers. Disposable bibs, plastic cutlery and dishes, a microwave, a bottle warmer. No wonder the place was full. Bear was going to share our fish and chips so I had only bought him a fruit pouch. When I checked my receipt our coffees and his fruit pouch were free thanks to their Family Card.

We needed to change Bear and there was a queue for the ladies, but the men's toilets have baby changing facilities too. Well done IKEA! Well done Grandad!

We couldn't leave without playing in the children's dept and buying a few items. A little chair for Bear £10, a boat and cups £3 and a step for Bear to reach the sink when he brushes his teeth £2.90.

toddler holding hands up to be picked up
Bear trying all the toys

toddler with foot on side of chair
Bear "helping" Grandad

toddler with allan key checking all is tight
Just tightening the screws

toddler sat on chair
Bear enjoying his new chair

toddler stood on stool next to sink
Just the right size for Bear

toddler playing in water with boat
Bear loves his new boat

toddler in high chair outside under bright pink umbrella
Bear eating Al Fresco

toddler hands with shadows making patterns on them

It was lovely to have the sun on us and strong enough to get the sunshade out. We also had a lovely picnic at Raglan Castle, you can read how we got on here.

What's new this week?

Bear understands "upside down" We explained what it was with a jar. Now he points everything out that is upside down. "Down!" he shouts.

He did "Row, row, row the boat" for the first time. Holding hands with Poppy and rocking backwards and forwards. It was this weeks  #MySundayPhoto.

He has a wicked sense of humour. He has been very hungry and on Thursday ate half an Oatibix, a scrambled egg and my porridge. When he had finished he was pointing at things randomly and saying "more". I explained he has to say "more bread" "more Oatibix" "more Nanny's porridge" not just more. He looked at my empty plate and fell about laughing. "All gone!" Yep it certainly was.

Poo. Well after last week if he didn't know what poo was he certainly does now. He had been a bit quiet and then walked over to me and said Poo! He had too. OK not the first time but he's noticing more and more and telling us. If I ask and he hasn't he will shake his head and say wee. Clever Bear.

He plays with his garage differently. He uses all the different parts. The weighbridge, the lift, the ramp. He parks the cars and pushes them.

We've had a great week with Bear and just hope that next week is dry so we can get out again. Will it be another castle? A beach? Somewhere else? I'll let you know in the week.

Back to my theme for the weekly updates any suggestions of a title? I really need some inspiration.


Sunday 17 April 2016

A Birthday Card Even A Toddler Can Make

A birthday card even a toddler can make? That's a tall order unless you are happy for lots of mess! But it was a special birthday, Bears mummy's, so I wanted a card that Bear could make himself without me interfering.

I folded the card and wrote the greeting. Bear did everything else. He chose the stickers and placed them on the card.

What you will need;

A piece of card folded in half
Coloured pencils
A toddler

A Birthday Card Even A Toddler Can Make. A card with Happy Birthday Mummy and stickers on it
Birthday card and book mark

You could make one using potato stamps and paint but we wanted something a little different so decided on using stickers. I bought ours at Tesco's and Wilko's but lots of places sell them.

Bear's Mummy loves stars and owls. So that was our main theme with some pretty flowers too. Bear made a lovely bookmark to match.

1. Peel the stickers and place on the card. I let Bear chose his own and put them wherever he wanted.

toddler peeling stickers from backing paper

2. Once the card was looking beautiful I gave Bear coloured pencils and he drew inside. I just helped by writing a greeting on the front.

A toddler placing stickers on a pink card

3. To make the bookmark I cut a strip from a piece of card and Bear put stickers on. He also decorated the back with stars.

red card with one edge cut off

toddler placing owl stickers on bookmark

toddler placing stars on bookmark

All finished.

Bear loves stickers. I had also bought some animal stickers that he stuck onto card just for fun. I loved the way that nearly all the animals were up the right way. Only one little chick was "down" as Bear repeated until he sorted it out.

toddler placing sticky foam animal shapes on green card

I let Bear design his own card. I was amazed that he had so carefully placed each sticker. I wanted an instant effect that was mess free but you could also make a lovely card with cut out shapes stuck on with glue.

I'm always looking for easy crafts to do with Bear, I don't mind messy, have you any you could share?

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