Baby Food Recipes Your Toddler Will Love

……….and the rest of the family will LOVE too!

Brought to you by Heinz

Can you believe the youngest member of our family (The Hurricane) is now 15 months old?

He is fast, agile, never sleeps and eats like a champion!  In a busy family he has no time to be fussy and eats what we eat.

Now I know you are really here for the recipes but first a few things about meals for our youngest member.

  • He has 14 teeth (so even chunky meat is a breeze)
  • All recipes have to be great for the whole family as I don’t cook him separate meals.  He eats what we eat, when we eat.
  • Majority of meals must be able to be eaten independently using either a fork, spoon, or fingers. This encourages fine motor, hand eye coordination and speech skills (little speakers grow strong jaws and agile tongues when they are eating chunky foods)

So what do we eat?  Here are some of our favourite Toddler approved, family friendly recipes.

 

OUR FAVOURITE RECIPES

Oven Baked Salmon with Asparagus and Broccolini.

Salmon is one of those wonder foods and “the hurricane” can’t get enough of it! Bake it in the oven over some slices of lemon and covered in foil.  Steam broccolini and asparagus.  These are two easy vegetables to cook and for little hands to hold!

 

Pumpkin and Tuna Penne

Grate Pumpkin.  Sauté it in a fry pan with some olive oil and then add a tin of tuna.  In a pot boil the pasta.  We choose Penne as it is easy to stick a fork into or if all else fails, fingers!  Combine the Pumpkin and Tuna mixture with the pasta,  squeeze some lemon over the top and a serve with a bit of chopped parsley.

 

Ravioli with Meatballs

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 4.54.28 PM

This is one of my favourite last minute meals.  I always keep a container of ready-made ravioli in the freezer.  You can actually cook it in the pot from frozen, no defrosting necessary.  I also make a double batch of meatballs (pork mince with fennel is our favourite) and keep some in the freezer.  Cook the meatballs in some crushed tomatoes and here is the trick, add a jar of Heinz Beef and Vegetable Casserole.  Trust me it’s delish and a great way of adding some hidden veggies!

Beef Burgers

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 4.52.14 PM

Who doesn’t love a burger!  We love to have a “create your own burger bar” with everyone choosing their own toppings!  The hidden secret is in the muesli!

Ingredients

  • 200g lean beef mince
  • 2 Tbsp Farex® Muesli with Apple
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated onion
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated peeled apple
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg

 

Method

Combine Ingredients to make small patties and fry or BBQ.

Sandwich Sushi

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 4.55.23 PM

Great for our bento lunch boxes and snacks on the run the sushi sandwich options are endless! Simply cut the crusts off bread, give it a quick roll to flatten.  Lay out your ingredients on the bread, roll and cut!   It looks fancy but it really is not.  These are great bite size snack for a toddler to grab but also fit perfectly in a school lunch box.

 

Banana Pikelets

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 4.51.29 PM

After school and on the way to extra curriculuar activities or even at home in his high chair whilst Mummy has her coffee, Banana pikelets are a winner.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp bi-carbonate of soda
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup natural yoghurt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, finely sliced
  • 1x 120g pouch HEINZ® Strawberry & Vanilla Custard

Method

  1. Combine flour and bi-carb in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  1. Pre-heat a frying pan over medium low heat. Spray with oil and spoon tablespoons of mixture into pan. Place a slice of banana on top of each pikelet. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
  1. Serve pikelets with a dollop of Heinz® pouch and favourite soft fresh fruit.

 

As much as we encourage independent feeding for our toddler sometimes circumstances call for a quicker, cleaner option.  Especially for on the plane (oh boy, feeding children when travelling can be a thing of nightmares) I love the baby food pouches especially ones filled with ingredients I wouldn’t normally buy like a great way to explore some new flavours without the mess and fuss.

With a little preparation and creative thinking feeding a toddler doesn’t have to be stressful and messy! With a few key ingredients it’s easy to create meals that your toddler will eat and the whole family will love. Check out the Heinz website and Facebook page for more tips and recipe ideas!

You can also find our list of 100 Kids Bento Lunch Ideas HERE

Image Credits –

henizforbaby.com.au (Pikelets and Beef Burgers)

taste.com.au (Sandwich Sushi)

recipe.com (Ravioli)

5 Tips For Renovating Your House

…….without tearing it down!

Last year saw big changes for our extended family.  We have had both our parents downsize and move into new houses.  Funnily enough, in two completely different states and towns, they both made a similar move.  Downsizing the size of the house, but also upsizing the size of the land.  For one family it was so that they would have room for a shed (to house retirement hobbies) and a For the other it was for more room to accommodate our grandparents.

 

For both families it meant one thing, RENOVATION!   So what can you do to bring your home into the 21st century and make it suit your needs? Before you bring in the wrecking ball, follow these five tips to help renovate your home without starting from scratch.

 

1. Create an outdoor living space

Oh how I dream of an outdoor Kitchen

Oh how I dream of an outdoor Kitchen!

Building a dedicated area for you and your family to enjoy the outdoors adds another space to entertain, relax and spend time in. You can lay concrete and cover it with a shade cloth to create a patio or erect a deck to overlook your backyard. An outdoor area that connects to your home creates a highly sought-after indoor/outdoor lifestyle that will add significant value to your home. Its also the perfect place for those big family gatherings and celebrations.

 

2. Add extra living space

Teenage Retreat? From Pop Blocks.

Teenage Retreat? From Pop Blocks.

Many homes have unused backyard space that can fit a separate area to work, live or even sleep in. For growing households, or those with a number of generations living under the one roof, modular buildings such as a granny flat can add significant living space and even be rented out separately. Expert companies such as  Pop Blocks  can erect a modular granny flat and other self-contained living spaces on existing land, adding much-needed square footage.

 

3. Renovate the kitchen and bathroom

Paint your tile splash back.

Paint your tile splash back. Great how to post HERE

For dwellings that need major renovations, the best rooms to start improving are often the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms have more utility per square metre. This means that your kitchen and bathroom may become tired looking faster than the other rooms in your house. Think about replacing old, peeling or dated bench tops and cabinetry with new doors and easy-to-clean surfaces. New tiles and splashbacks can also go a long way to make your rooms feel fresh and new.

 

4. Update your window furnishings

White Plantation Shutters, if only they weren't so expensive!

White Plantation Shutters, if only they weren’t so expensive!

It’s time to tear down the tired curtains or dusty roll-a-blinds and invest in some fresh, new window furnishings. Venetian blinds come in a variety of colours and materials, including timber, PVC and aluminium. Thick curtains afford privacy, and transparent window shears filter light into the room. Windows can make or break a room, so remember to match the window treatments to the style of your home and its existing decor. Always consider installing new window furnishings if existing options are damaged, faded or dirty.

 

5. Repaint

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 12.42.47 PM

Often your home gives away its age most in its paintwork. A fresh coat of paint can take years off and help to brighten both indoor and outdoor spaces. A more contemporary colour scheme can bring your home into the modern era; replace those oranges, browns and olive greens from the 70s with something fresh and current. In fact, after a real estate agent recently went through our own home (which is only 10 years old) she recommended we update our walls from cream to white as it was ageing our home!   Here I was thinking we were going for a classic look!
If the structure of your house is sound, the good news is that renovating your home really can be a delight—just like the real estate agent said! Happy Renovating.

5 Weekend DIY Projects

…… and the lessons they will teach your kids!

Sometimes there’s nothing better to do on a weekend than fixing up a tired old piece of furniture, or maybe building some storage racks that you’ve been putting off doing for a long time. Maybe all you need is some wood, a can of paint and a power tool or two to achieve a little bit of weekend DIY glory. The hardware store is your friend. But better yet, there is more to backyard DIY then getting handy. DIY is a perfect time to involve your kids in some hands on educational activites.

 

Here are five ideas for DIY projects that will keep you busy between Friday and Monday.

 

BUILD A SWING SET

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.51.45 AM

Kids love swings, so why not build a set that they’ll cherish for years ahead? For a basic A-frame set, all you’ll need is the timber, some nails, paint, wood glue and chains. A power drill might help as well when you need to attach the chain to the cross-beam and thread the chain through the seats to secure them. Get the kids involved too.  Ask them to draw a plan of what it is they want, give them th tape measure to measure out the area and involve them in decisions regarding cost and even safety. In fact making deisions about their safety is part of the old Early Years Curriculum Guidelines!

 

RESTORE SOME FURNITURE

Remember that old buffet that’s been gathering dust in the garage for years? Maybe it’s time to give it new lease on life with a clean-up and a coat of paint. Years of neglect probably mean the surface is rough, so it will need to be prepared before the paint goes on. If you don’t have the patience to sand by hand, head to your local hardware store to see their selection of sanders. Popular brands such as  Ryobi manufacture a range of quality tools for any need. Find one that suits your needs and sand away the years in readiness for a fresh coat of paint. This is a great lesson in recycling and those little hands love to paint, strengthening fine motor skills.

BUILD A DECK

You’ve had the idea in your mind for the last four years but just never got around to it. Next weekend the weather is predicted to be fine. You have the plans and measurements for the materials, and the tools. All you need is the timber. No excuses, this weekend is the one when you’ll finally build that deck.   Once you’ve chosen the location ask the kids to help with the measuring and recording of numbers. Draw simple plans together and for the older kids get out some graph paper and let them create some scale drawings of the deck plans.

 

GREEN THE BALCONY

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.54.42 AM

If you’re living in an apartment, or even have a tiny backyard like us, DIY decks and patios are obviously not possible. But if you have a balcony with enough space after the clothes hanger is set up, why not consider a few plants? They can provide extra shade in summer, give you some free tomatoes, and their green leaves are easy on the eyes. With plant nurseries scattered liberally across the suburbs, you’re never far from one and plants are surprising easy to care for. Just ask any cactus owner.   Ask the kids to map the backyard and then record where the sun hits at different times of the day. With this data they can research (or even just ask their local nursery) what plants will suit which areas. As they watch the plants grow they make valuable predictions on how long they will take and what factors influence the growth of different plants.  Whilst they are in the backyard they can use berries, leaves, twigs and stones to play their own cooking games!

SPRING CLEANING

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.54.08 AM

Cleaning doesn’t really need to wait until spring; why not do it this weekend? Most of us view cleaning as a chore on which to procrastinate, but few would argue that the effort isn’t worth it once the job is complete. Windows, walls, gutters and architraves sometime fall victim to unintentional neglect, so why not give them the love they deserve this weekend? Give the kids a spray bottle of water to spray the plants or a bucket of water and a paintbrush and get them to “paint” the fence or cubby house.  If you are game give them the hose to play with! It keeps them occupied whilst you get busy!

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.52.26 AM

Have you got any ideas for Weekend DIY projects?

 

How We Keep Our Bathrooms Clean

So apparently with 3 kids and 3 bathrooms, I may actually have a few tips about keeping bathrooms clean! Well HARPIC think so, so they have asked me to share my tips on keeping bathrooms clean.

Bathroom Cleaning

Oh boy have I learnt a thing or two about keeping bathrooms clean since we built this house!  We have 3 bathrooms.  1 downstairs, the main bathroom (for the kids) upstairs and our ensuite.  They all have their down points and some get used more and get messier than others (yep the kids bathroom can get out of control!)

So today I am sharing a few ways I am attempting to keep on top of the bathroom cleaning.

CLEAN EVERYDAY

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.07.32 AM

It literally takes less than three minutes.

  • 10 seconds to squirt toilet with Harpic White & Shine
  • 30 seconds to wipe the mirror
  • 30 seconds to wipe the bench
  • 30 seconds to tidy.
  • 1 minute to go back to the toilet and swipe, flush and wipe over (I use the flushable wipes pictured below)

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.06.38 AM

I do the downstairs bathroom in the morning just before we leave for the day.  Our ensuite when I am getting ready to go out and the kids bathroom at night after their bath. By doing just a little each day, the bathroom stays relatively clean during the week especially handy when unexpected visitors drop in!

DEEP CLEAN ONCE A WEEK.

We divide this big job into two parts.

The shower cleaning part of the job is relegated to the husband.  I have a bad neck and am a shortie from way back so the job is much easier for him! On the weekend he will give the showers a good scrub.

The tidying/organsing/floors/washing I do during the week on my designated bathroom cleaning day. (you can see my cleaning schedule HERE)

GET THE KIDS TO HELP

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 7.06.25 AM

She not only helps to bath the “baby” but loves to tidy up the bath! Especially when I give her a wet washer to do the “wiping.”

After their bath it is their job to

  • clean up bath toys and products
  • wipe the bench (with baby wipes!)
  • mop up any water around the bath tub
  • hang all the towels up,
  • check their is toilet paper.
  • CHECK THE TOILET HAS BEEN FLUSHED! SERIOUSLY!

DECLUTTER

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.03.55 AM

In our bathroom my makeup was causing a big problem.  I had its all organised in a drawer but I had too much of it and it was eaitly accessible for little fingers to make a mess with!!!!  I have had a big clean out and declutter (thanks to the Konmari method) and now store it in this cheap container on the vanity bench.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.58.21 AM

We are lucky enough to have lots of bathroom cupboards which is not only fantastic for storage but easy to put child locks on! I organise each basket and keep them locked away in here.

The less you have in your bathroom, the less there is to clean up!

MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER

  •  I keep all the bathroom cleaning products locked in the bathroom cupboard x3. Yep one lot in each bathroom.  This makes it super quick and easy to grab those few spare minutes and do a quick clean.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.06.11 AM

  • I have a slight obsession with Blue Loo.  It cleans, looks nice and keeps the bathroom smelling good. For us the in cistern type work better as I have a toddler who loves to attempt to pull the cages out (TRUE STORY)  I have found a “long lasting” version that really does last the distance and hence requires less dirty work by me!

It really is the little things that make life easier, for us these seemingly little jobs make a big difference in how much time we spend cleaning and how clean our house is.

Do you have any bathroom cleaning tips?

 

The Erin Condren Teacher Planner

It’s HERE!  After much anticipation the new ERIN CONDREN TEACHER PLANNER has been released!  I have had two years with my EC Teacher Planner and I LOVE IT!  Its practical, functional, colourful and so much more gorgeous to look at then your regular Teacher Planner.  It comes with pockets, a sheet protector, stickers and also a whole range of additional extras.  That is a whole other post!  But what I get asked about the most is…..it “looks” great but what are the “guts” of the planner like.  So I am now going to take you on a little tour!

THE COVER

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.13.59 AM

Ready To Ship Cover

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.14.09 AM

Personalised Cover

There are two kinds of cover for your planner

1. Ready To Ship (RTS)   If you in a hurry (which I doubt most Australians are as we still have 6 months left of the current school year) Ready To Ship means your cover will be standard (see pic above) with no personalisation but it will get to you super fast!

2. Personalised. For me one of the things I love most about everything Erin Condren is the personalisation.  If you choose this option your planner will take longer to ship but three are literally dozens of cover options!

ALL covers are

  • wire coil bound
  • interchangeable (they remove off the coil when you feel like changing them)
  • laminated
  • durable
  • colourful
  • double sided

THE INSIDE or THE “GUTS”

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.09.01 AM

On the first page of the planner you have the inside image of your cover on the left and on the right your contact information/cover page.  Here you can also see the tabs which are laminated and colourful.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION PAGE

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.09.16 AM

Motivational quote pages are scattered throughout the planner and the first one is on the next page followed by a handy page to record personal information, passwords etc

DATES TO REMEMBER

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.09.26 AM

Ok here is the first teeny issue with the planner for Australian teachers.  The important dates are printed according to the american school year.  This is an easy fix.  Using the blank stickers at the back of your planner you can simply re-label the headings, changing them into the calendar year order.

BIRTHDAY CHART

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.09.36 AM

A birthday chart.  Again it’s in the American year order, BUT I leave it as in Queensland students are enrolled according to their age in a July-June year.  So the oldest students will have their birthdays in July and the youngest in June.  I actually find this incredibly helpful.  Especially as I always teach in the younger grades I often look at test results, behaviour, social skills and adjust my expectations based on their age/development.

ATTENDANCE LOG (6 pages)

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.09.49 AM

 

I use this page a bit differently as our attendance is recorded electronically. I use these in two ways.

  1. To record who is absent for assessment pieces.  I write the assessment name in the name column, the date in the next and the students who miss the assessment in the reason column.  I then tick off in the note column when I have caught them up with the assessment.
  2. I also use a set of the pages to record when parents notify my in advance of upcoming time off school for holidays, surgery etc.

GRAPH/GRID PAGES (8 pages)

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.10.01 AM

I love to rearrange my classroom!  This makes it so easy! You could also use it to chart reading levels or results.

YEAR AT A GLANCE

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.10.10 AM

Again it’s in the American order. I LOVE the way this example tracks different curriculum in colour codes across the year!  I use it in the same way but using the curriculum codes I need to cover and asses in each term.  This year I think I will also use it to colour code with my job share partner who is covering what!

MONTHLY LAYOUT

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.08.32 AM

 

For us Australians you can request during the personalisation stage of purchase to have a January start so your months are in Calendar year order instead of financial year order.  The Monthly layouts are double page, Sunday start with a column for notes and a quick reference calendar.  The monthly layouts are UNDATED but the planner comes with colourful date dot stickers to label!

WEEKLY LAYOUT (40 double pages)

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.10.42 AM

THE WEEKLY LAYOUT

The planner comes with 40 WEEKS worth of weekly layouts.  It is a horizontal layout with days down the rows and periods or curriculum across the top.  I have seen am nay people that have reversed the layout!  They covered the days with periods or curriculum and used the boxes across the top for days.  I use it as intended but do not write the subjects in at the top.  I work in a P-12 school so we all use a 6 period day.  I write the Period and time across the top, but as my “subjects” change each day depending on my timetable, specialist lessons, assemblies etc.  I just use the lines in the rows to write the subject and a basic outline of what I am covering.

CHECKLISTS (7 double spreads)

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.10.57 AM

Oh this would have to be one of my favourite parts! look at those colours!  No more going cross eyed trying to read marks in gray boxes!  You can even add more checklist pages, for a small additional cost (a few dollars).

STICKERS!!!! (4 pages)

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.11.09 AM

Get sick of writing the same things over and over again?  You can use a pre printed sticker instead! There are two sheets of pre-printed stickers and two sheets of blank stickers for you to write on yourself.  Pre printed stickers include things like reminders, testing dates, report cards due, library time, emergency drills, assemblies and staff meetings.  If you need more you can order additional “event” stickers in the accessories section of the website!

KEEP IT TOGETHER POCKET

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.11.21 AM

A double sided, durable, laminated finish pocket to hold all those pieces of paper in.  This has undergone a few changes each year since I have had one!

SHEET PROTECTOR and ZIPPER POUCH

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.11.30 AM

Each planner comes with ONE plastic sheet protector but you can add more (for $1.50 each) when you personalise it through the check out process.  Right at the back there is also a small zippered clear pouch great for all those little extra bits and pieces.

and then the back cover!  As colourful and laminated as the front cover!

You can add a pen holder to the back cover but this is an additional extra.

A huge bonus to this planner is the massive range of accessories that you can buy to go with it, but that is a whole other post!

Now the COST!

It is usually $59USD but is currently 25% off.  You can also get a further $10 off by using this link ;
https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/larissacarter

International Shipping is $19.95 which is a lot cheaper than it used to be.  Don’t forget many employers will reimburse you for some of the cost of a planner and it’s also a tax deduction!

Erin Condren have a great loyalty program and the more you buy, the more you save.  I am up to my fifth purchase which then gives me a $25 voucher.

 

*This is not a sponsored post and I am not paid by Erin Condren (I just love the stuff!) but I do get a $10 credit every time someone uses my referral link!

 

 

The Home First Aid Kit

First Aid Kits

These school holidays have been chaotic to say the least.  We have had two kids down with stomach bugs, multiple head clashes and a few cuts, scrapes and ant bites to round it out.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.08.34 AM

When googling first aid kits I actually came across this old pic of our first aid Drawer!

We have a first aid “drawer” in house stocked full of bandaids, creams, dettol etc but with 3 kids in the house that have progressed past the baby years and onto more serious injuries it needs some serious updating.

  • I want everything in one place.
  • Labelled for easy reference.
  • In a place accessible enough for the two older kids to grab (aged 8 and 5) in an emergency but out of reach of the baby.
  • Portable – so we can take it on holidays with us.

OPTION 1 – A FIRST AID BAG

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.02.57 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.02.30 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.02.18 AM

This one is from Masters and retails for $83 which considering how expensive first aid supplies are , I thought was a reasonable price.  I love that you can also buy the small container to mount onto the wall.  Absolute favourite thing about this kit is that each section is labelled! This kit was fairly basic but they had a few more extensive ones (intended for the workplace) at the $100 mark. The zippered bag would make it compact enough to take away with us. BUT….Where does the dettol go? Calamine lotion? Fisiocreme? Burn Cream?  and all the other bits and pieces we already have and use.  This option is great for emergencies but doesn’t cover our everyday first aid use.

OPTION 2.  A FIRST AID TOOL BOX

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 8.08.13 AM

This one is from the awesome bowl full of lemons and Lori is a Nurse so she knows her first aid! I loved that everything is stored together yet separate in labelled containers.  This would be great as you can create it yourself using a tackle box and personalise it for your family.  BUT, What about the larger bottles and creams?  How do they fit in here?

OPTION 3. STORAGE CONTAINERS

From Our Fall Walls And A Roof

From Our Fall Walls And A Roof

These containers are readily available, labelled and are tall enough that there is room for medicine and other large bottles.  This way I could use what I already have and everything would still have a designated space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.10.56 AM

Oh how I love me an organised space full of containers.  The negative here is this system is not portable AND it takes up quite a lot of space.  BUT I do have a kind of spare cupboard (it is full but I really could declutter it and get rid of half of it!)

OPTION 4.  THE COMBO

This would be combining Option 1 (the kit in a bag) and Option 3 (the containers).  OPtion 1 is more your “Incident and Emergency Supplies”  To be honest these are the things we rarely use but must have on hand, like a first aid “insurance policy”.  Option 3 is for all the things we use on a regular basis, medicines, thermometer, band aids.

So what would you recommend?  How do you organise your First Aid Supplies? 

 

 

Winter Health Tips for Mums and Bubs

This morning we woke to temperatures of 1 degree! This cold weather fills me with fear, as it signals not only the start of winter, but of “flu season.”  With three little kids and two parents that need to go to work, we are desperate to stay as well as possible this winter.  Over the years of coping with a million germs brought to me lovingly by a class full of children, I have learnt a few tips and tricks to survive winter.

“The Flu Shot:” A few years ago both of our workplaces introduced on site flu shots. I was pregnant with Little Miss A at the time and was a little hesitant to get it.  After consulting my GP I was pleasantly surprised to not only find was it completely safe for pregnant women but recommended! A perfect way to not only protect myself but my little ones.  Many workplaces now offer the flu shot with a visiting nurse or you can ask your GP.

Healthy Hands: As a family, we spend a lot of our time out and about at playgrounds, shopping centres and theme parks.  I always keep some hand sanitiser handy to help keep those germs away.  We keep a pump pack in the house for the kids to use after they have blown their noses and I encourage the kids to wash their hands with soap and water after they cough and sneeze.  This is to help stop spreading the germs to the baby and I always keep a small hand sanitizer in my bag.

Tissues and wipes: Speaking of runny noses…….you can never have too many tissues!  I keep a little pack in the kid’s bags, a few in the car, a few in my handbag and a whole heap of boxes in the house.  But when little noses have been blown too many times and are red raw I find a baby wipe is a little harsh whilst still doing the job.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 1.58.45 PM

You are what you eat! During winter in particular I keep a close eye on what we are eating.  I try to boost veggies and fruits wherever I can by adding them to smoothies, making up a big veggie mash, sneaking them into lasagna or bolognese sauce, and even into the chocolate muffins (zucchini is a great match!)

H20 to go: I am a horrible water drinker!  Especially in winter when I am sweating less, I often get to the end of the day and realise I have not had any water at all!  I keep a drink bottle with me and try to refill it, at least once, but eight glasses a day will keep you in tip top shape for winter

Sunny Days: This cold weather has me seeking some warmth in the sun and I find I spend more time outdoors as I can actually enjoy the weather (and not sweat off half my body weight!)  We love to get out a picnic rug, enjoy lunch outside in the sun and fill up on some Vitamin D, which is great for boosting immunity. (But don’t forget to still slip, slop, slap)

Exercise: When I am feeling lousy there is nothing like a walk in the fresh air to get me out of a slump.  I throw the baby in the pram and we head down to the lake to run around the playground.  Keeping active in small everyday ways is hopefully burning off some of those winter hot chocolates and keeping your body in fighting condition if any winter nasties come your way.

 

I find the easiest way to keep up with these habits is to stay organised and create a little “Winter station” on the kitchen bench with tissues, water, hand sanitizer and some fresh fruit and veggie snacks, ready for the kids when they are hungry.

By implementing these simple but effective habits our household feels prepared to face our healthiest winter yet.

The NSW Health website also offers great flu prevention advice HERE

Brought to you by Nuffnang and NSW Government

Meal Plan Monday

Meal planning is my saviour.  Lately I have completely fallen of the bandwagon.  Not sure why or how but it has to stop!  I have started spending way too much money on little every second day shops.  So here it is this weeks Meal Plan.

Monday

Roast Lamb with CousCous and Roast Mediterranean Veg.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 5.56.53 AM

This is a family fave.  Lamb is a protein that EVERYONE including my pickiest Little Miss A will eat.  Our Roast Veg. are Eggplant, Zucchini, Capsicum, Pumpkin and Potato. Even better the left overs make a great salad for me to take to work the next day.

Tuesday

Beef Stroganoff

Work day for me so slow cooker it is!  Unlike some though I don’t like to have it in there all day as I love when the meat is chunky!  Served With rice and steamed Brocollini.

Wednesday

Pumpkin and Fetta Agnolotti with Basil Pesto sauce.

Another work day for me and this is the EASIEST, QUICKEST dinner and takes literally 5 minutes.  Woolworths recently had a 1/2 price special on these ready made pastas so I grabbed a few and threw them in the Freezer.  For the sauce?  Graba container of Basil pesto dip and stir through while the pasta is hot!  Master O and the baby love it, and Little Miss A will have the pasta plain.

Thursday

Lemon Crumbed Chicken with Caesar Salad

This is on weekly rotation in our house!  Either using drumsticks (cheap as chips) or Chicken Thighs marinate in  lemon and Olive oil, crumb, roast in the oven and serve!  SIMPLE!

 

Friday

Salmon and Vegie Mash

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 6.02.45 AM

Ok so Salmon is a bit pricey BUT I recently found 4 packs at Aldi for under $13!!!!  I have everything crossed it wasn’t a special item and becomes a regular line in their store as we all LOVE salmon.  Vegie mash is a fave with my boys and I am literally able to throw every veg imaginable in it and they will eat it.  Little Miss A on the other hand will not eat either Salmon or Vegie Mash so she will be having steamed potato, broccoli and Sausages (keeping it real peeps)

All images taste.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiet Critters

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 6.59.59 AMAlthough I have been a teacher for many years now, this year my skills have been truly tested.  As a relief teacher I have had to get used to the rules and routines of so many different schools, grades and classes.  One thing they all have in common, is a need for some AWESOME behaviour management strategies.  There are many a child out there who use having a new teacher as a  chance to test the boundaries!

I have used the tried and true, stickers and prizes but for the Early Years (Ages 4-7) I was needing a new creative strategy.  I make no excuses for my strict classroom style but I also love to play tricks, joke and make up stories for the kids.  Thats where the Quiet Critters come in.

THE STORY GOES….

My Quiet Critters have been very lonely at my house as my kids go to school all day and the baby just wants to put them in his mouth!  So they asked me if they could come to school with me to find some new friends!

They are looking for a very particular kind of friend to show them how school works.

  • An attentive listener (because they have very quiet voices)
  • A hard worker who always tries their best (so they can learn new things)
  • Responsible (So they wont get lost)
  • Kind and Caring (So they can make new friends) 
  • Keeps their hands and feet to themselves. (so they wont get hurt)

When they see a friend like this they will want to sit with them! They will sit quietly on your desk or at your feet and watch and learn with you!  

BUT if you suddenly are not doing the right thing they will ask to find a new friend or even worse just go back home into their container! 

HOW TO MAKE QUIET CRITTERS

The Quiet Critters

The Quiet Critters

You could make them out of anything!  I have seen pet rocks, pom poms with eyes glued on, teddy bears or in my case party favours!  These cute little soft and spiky guys were in a pack of 6 in a discount store in the party aisle!  Then for a bit of variety I found a pack of 4  little of “Moshi Monsters” (in The Reject Shop) for $3.  I placed them in a round plastic container (plastic so its light and unbreakable in my bag) added some sticker letters and a bow for the lid!

THE VERDICT

Yesterday I tried them out in a Prep class (5 year olds).  ABSOLUTE WINNER!!!  They were all desperate for a quiet critter and were trying so hard to get one!  No one got silly or attempted to hide or throw them (which I had thought could happen)  I was glad I had quite a few and at times they would sit in the middle of the hardest working group.

This is definitely a fun technique I will be using in my classroom in the future!

 

 

 

Kids Bedroom Planning and Inspiration

 

We seem to be a family of bedroom swappers. Without a doubt every year we reassess the kids current bedroom situations and do a swap and reorganize. From shared rooms, to creating a nursery, to sharing a guest room, to everyone having their own room, the swapping never ends in a growing family!

A few years ago we made the decision for Master O and Little Miss A to share a room.  Although some thought this was a sure clue that baby #3 was coming along it was simply because they were begging us to share!  It was one of the best decisions we ever made and resulted in an amazing nights sleep for everyone!  Little Miss A would now wake up her big brother if she was scared instead of us.  It also meant they would wake each other up in the morning and sneak down to watch tv instead of coming into us to declare that they were awake!

But earlier this year Master O expressed a desire for his own space and we made the move to separate them.  We had one problem. This would mean that we would “lose” our guest bedroom.

We NEED a guest bedroom. Both of our families live far away so when they come to visit (which is often) they stay for an extended period of time and we need to have a dedicated room for them. So beds, beds, beds!  How would we make this work?  We decided to

  1. move Master O into the “Guest Bedroom”
  2. leave the Queen size bed in there and
  3. when guests come, he can move out into the lounge room on the sofa bed.

Simple. Except that’s as far as we got. We literally just moved his clothes into the cupboard and only in the last month got him a new queen size quilt.  With all our bedrooms now full, thanks to baby number 3, we really need a more permanent solution, so I am  looking at affordable furniture options that will be both suitable for the needs of a growing boy and for guests.

 

Bed Size and Style

 

Ordinarily in a kids room, especially when short on space I would look at a loft bed or trundle bed. I love that this maximizes floor space and creates little niches for desks, play areas or just extra storage.

 

LOFT BED

Manhattan Loft Bed

Manhattan Loft Bed

 

 

TRUBDLE BED OPTIONS

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.22.51 PM

Barn Bedroom Suite

 

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think the grandparents would be quite as excited climbing up a ladder in to bed as Master O would be. BUT, it is the absolutely perfect option for Little Miss A’s room!!!!  It wont take up too much room and when guests arrive her brother can camp out on the trundle!!! and just to add, the styling of this room is perfection.  This is EXACTLY the look I would love to achieve.  Masculine but not too dark or boyish.  PERFECTION.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.25.02 PM

Quebec Bedroom Suite

For Master O’s Room we will eventually need to update his bed  (which is from before we were married 11 years ago!) or at the very least a new mattress.  A Queen Size bed that is of a classic style will fit in with the decor of his room, suit both kids and adults and be the perfect size for his average sized room.

 

Bed Side Tables

With two kids in one room there was previously no room for bedside tables. Add to this that anything with a flat surface, was used by curious toddlers to climb on to, they just didn’t suit the kids bedroom. However, times have changed and Master O has been using a little stool next to his bed for a lamp and his books. For guests a table either side of the bed is a must, with room for glasses, phones and a glass of water.

Quebec Bedside Table

Quebec Bedside Table

Desks.

This has been a tricky one for us. To desk or not to desk. We have decided to add a desk to his room not as a place to study but more as a place to escape to draw, build and read away form the hurricane baby and curious little sister. It will also serve as a place to store treasures away from little hands and above it we can place a noticeboard to display his memorabilia and certificates.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 7.04.16 PM

Ollie Storage Unit

Storage.

We are lucky enough to have a designated playroom in our house but some toys are just not designed for babies! I would like to incorporate some kind of toy storage and display just for special/dangerous toys like the one million lego creations and remote control cars.  At last our oldest child will be able to put some of his things away just for him to play with.

 

These storage boxes will be perfect and even better they will fit inside his wardrobe, making the most of limited floor space and hiding them away form guests.

So that is where we are at.  Planning, dreaming, measuring, window shopping and weghing up all the options.  So what say you?  Desk or no desk?  Fan of a trundle bed? How gorgeous is that bedroom!

All images and stock can be found at Super Amart.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Super Amart.