Wednesday, February 29, 2012

summer fun - sponge bombs {and ice cream}

You may remember a few weeks ago we had a heat wave here in Western Australia. 
Well, I made the most of it, overdosing on homemade ice cream sandwiches thanks to the lovely Jade {i just used oreo instead of malteasers}

AND we made these awesome spongebombs I saw here via Pinterest. What a great idea huh!

They were truly easy to make up and we have been having an absolute ball with them. The first day we played with them, the four of us were running around like pork chops in the back yard laughing until our sides hurt. We are still enjoying them, they're just impossible not to have fun with. 

I bought the sponges at the supermarket - I just bought the cheapest I could find.

You then cut them into strips. I got 4 strips per sponge.  

Place a length of fishing line on the table, then arrange the sponge strips in two rows of four, one on top of the other, like so. {On top of the fishing line}

Then you pull the fishing line together and double tie it around the middle of the sponge bomb.

They will then look like these little sponge bombish sea urchin things! 

Pop them in a bucket, and throw them around!

Seriously. So much fun.


xx


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Monday, February 27, 2012

favourite iphone + ipad apps - for kiddos

I am often asked what our favourite iphone + ipad apps are.

So here they are - favourite ipad + iphone apps for Kiddos :o}

iPhone Screenshot 4
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Faces iMake {Lite $0.99 / Premium $1.99} by iMagine machine LLC

This app is absolutely brilliant and has been a favourite here for a very long time. Kids can make faces, animals or anything really using a huge collection of everyday objects - fruits, vegetables, buttons, cooking utensils etc. This is one of the first apps we bought and we very quickly upgraded to the premium version. I can't remember what the difference is between the Lite and the Premium anymore though. You can save the awesome creations your kiddo makes in your photo album, email them to family and use them as wallpaper. I have an awesome evolution of how Noah has used this app, and how his imagination and creativity has developed over time! Love it.


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Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose $1.99

This app is great for letter recognition and learning how to spell. It became a favourite very quickly! It has 4 different levels depending on what stage your kiddo is at with letters and sounding out words. There are also a few cute little 'side' games to play.


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iPhone Screenshot 1
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Eric Carle's My Very First App by Night and Day Studios $1.99

This is an absolutely gorgeous app. I love almost everything Eric Carle and this app doesn't dissapoint. It's beautiful to look at and is easy to use, though Noah is a little old for it {he still enjoys it though} and Chloe needs our help to use it {seeing as she's not yet 2!}.


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Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Night and Day Studios $2.99

This is also a very gorgeous app and it has 5 levels. Noah still enjoys this as the levels can still get a little challenging {particularly level 5 which has a time limit}. Chloe loves the first level and is starting to get the second when we sit to play together.


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iPhone Screenshot 1
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Preschool Monkey Lunchbox by THUP Games $0.99

This is a cute game where you have to help pack the Monkey's lunch box. Count out fruits and do little puzzles to put fruits together. Play some short matching games. Learn about shapes and colours and also letters and earn a sticker for great work. The Monkey does make a lot of noises which gets a liiiiiiitle annoying but the kids love it. Noah has kind of mastered this game {the age rating is 2-5} and doesn't play it very often at the moment but for a while it was an absolute favourite.


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iPhone Screenshot 1
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Create a Car by ABCya.com $0.99

This app is fabulous especially for your little boy! {My girl loves it too though}
You can use a whole range of different car parts to build the car of your dreams! After you've made your car, you name it and save it to your garage. In your garage you can press the little key button to start the engine on your car and watch all your parts come together and move around. Fun!


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iPhone Screenshot 4
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iWrite Words Lite by gdiplus
FREE

This app helps kiddos learn the movements to write letters. They follow the numbers to trace the letters with their fingers. Not so much a favourite anymore as we have moved a little past this stage but Noah really enjoyed this app when he was a little younger. The FREE version only has 3 letters and 3 words as it is just a taster - but at least then you can see if you like it and would like to buy the complete version.


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iPhone Screenshot 1
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Toca Hair Salon - Christmas Gift by Toca Boca
FREE

This app is a bit of fluff - there's nothing wrong with that and my kids just love it. You can give Santa a hair cut and a shave, dye his hair, blow dry it. You can also make his hair grow!
I downloaded it at Christmas and it is still enjoyed. This version is free, they have a paid version that isn't Santa though. We have also recently bought the Toca Kitchen and Noah has been enjoying this.



{ipad only}

iPad Screenshot 1
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Play School Art Maker by The Australian Broadcasting Corporation
FREE

This is a really cute app and the kids love it. You can make pictures with cute backgrounds and the kids favourite Play School friends all ready to go. You can even make little movies recording your voice and moving the characters around. You can save your artwork too and if you like you can make them into a story. I think this app will appeal to Noah for a while longer, and already Chloe enjoys it too {with our help, of course}. You can also watch some Play School episodes through the app - though these will use your bandwidth so not great when on the go. There is an option to turn this off {by removing the button that says "Watch Play School Episodes" when you go to the settings.


What are you kiddos' favourite apps?



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Monday, February 20, 2012

Noah's Space Party

Recently my sweet boy turned the big F.I.V.E. I can honestly say I don't know how we got here so quickly. And he must be so used to me saying that it has flown by, because on the morning of his birthday he said to me "It was like I was just born yesterday Mummy and now I am five!" Haha.


Happy Birthday Noah! You are such a gorgeous boy, inside and out. I am proud of you and proud to be your Mama. You have taught me so much, and I love you to 'the moon and the stars and the planets and back' as you say. xoxo

This year we went for a space theme to celebrate his "5th Space Mission". Hubby and I put a lot of time and effort into a few of the party things - so I wanted the dessert table to be rather simple and straightforward.

Noah and I decorated some styrofoam balls from the craft store {ranging from .20c to .90c in price depending on size} with tissue and crepe paper to make the planets for our solar system. The sun is a small paper lantern, covered in tissue paper. {A styrofoam ball this size at our craft store was apparently $9.95! Hence I went with a leftover $1.50 paper lantern from the discount store!}
After they were dry, I tied fishing line to a sewing needle and poked this into the top of the 'planets' and to make sure these were secure, I put a dot of hot glue on to seal the needle into the planet. We then tied the planets onto removable 3M hooks attached to the ceiling.
I was really happy with how this turned out. It became the perfect backdrop for the dessert table and was pretty easy to make.

I did some space related treats up for the dessert table.
These are 'black hole cookies' - made using this recipe + method, just altered a little so we didn't get a swirl.

I also made these 'asteroids' - just following the recipe on the back of the Kellogs Cornflake box.

And some rocket ship shaped 'space dust bread'. Thanks to The Princess and The Pirate for the cookie cutter!

The cake was just a double layer sponge with grey icing and small silver cachous all over. Then I stuck a lego rocket on top, which Noah thought was very neat since he got to keep it afterwards!


But my most favourite part of the dessert table {ok besides the planet backdrop!} were these Rocket Cupcake Pops! I bought these push pop containers from The Princess and The Pirate. They are so easy to put together {literally takes 2 seconds} and then I just used double sided sticky tape and taped orange and red coloured crepe paper strips to the bottom of the containers.

I used double sided sticky tape so that I could pull the crepe paper off before washing as these babies are re-useable! Just give them a good clean and then store for another party!

I then baked up our cupcakes in our mini muffin pan as these are the PERFECT size to fit into these containers. Yep, no cutting cupcakes down to size, just pop them in. I put one in and then added a dollop of icing and then put another mini muffin sized cupcake in and then added a nice swirl of icing for the top. I used these Ikea Cutlery holders and a piece of florist foam wrapped in silver crepe paper to hold them in place for the table display. :o}

The kids had a ball eating these out of the push pop containers!

Hubby used a large cardboard box to do up our cubby house to look like a rocket. This was also a hit with the kids! We were going to paint it but decided that it probably didn't need it and the kids might probably tear it down anyway!

We also made jet packs for each of them to use to fly around the back yard with.

There were made with an empty plastic bottle {we used coke, orange juice and soda water bottles} - it took us a while to collect enough! Then we spraypainted them silver and hot glued some red and orange crepe paper to the inside of the bottle neck opening. Using a box cutter we made a small cut to string some ribbon through. I then added a little label and we were done :o} I would advise against using curling ribbon - it was easy to tear. 

I made each kiddo a name badge which they were given when they arrived.
The badge holder and clip I bought overseas when we were visiting family at Christmas for less than $5 for all of them. I have seen them at Officeworks though if you are looking for some.

The kids did a mini treasure hunt for 'moon grubs'. And can you believe I forgot to do the 'stick the planet on the solar system' game! I guess that is what happens sometimes when you have a bunch of kids running around all over the place and you're trying to get 'pluto pups' {sausage rolls} and 'meat-eorites' {meatballs} out of the oven and onto platters to feed everyone :o}

But I don't think they minded. I felt a little guilty about the lack of party games {Noah is not really into them but most kids are!} but in the end it seemed like the kids all had a ball just playing with each other and running around the back yard.

They all went home with a "Junior Astronaut Recovery Kit" which was made using a take out container and filled with "space pellets" and a small Thank You chocolate along with some glow in the dark stars, a bouncy ball, a finger puppet alien and a glow stick.


Hope you don't mind ALL the photos! I thought I'd put them all together here in one post instead of separate posts. Over all I loved the end result for the table, and it wasn't overly difficult and I liked the 'less is more' approach. I also needed to stick to a budget. 
The kids loved using the drinks dispenser for their water - and I had fun using my Christmas present from the kiddos! 
I did want to have tent cards to label all the food on the table but that is another thing I forgot to finish up in time for the party.

I will be a little quiet over the next week or so as I finish up some things in preparation for the start of the uni semester but please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or via email and I'll answer them soon! :o} xx


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Friday, February 17, 2012

now that banana's don't cost a million dollars ... !!!

Ok ok I know they didn't ever cost a million dollars. But, they did cost A LOT.
I do admit I still bought them. They are one of 3 fruits my Noah will eat. But they were rationed haha.

Now that they're not expensive anymore, we are buying more of them. Probably a little more than we should be. There is only so much banana bread I can make + have room in the freezer for! 

So I thought I'd show you 2 other things we like to do here with our bananas. Aside from a delish banana smoothie, of course.

1. Frozen banana

Yep - just frozen banana. Cut - shove a stick in - pop into a ziplock bag and freeze. I am using the little sticks that came with my tuppercare ice tups.
My kiddos love it just like this. 
They're creamy and cold and so good on a hot day {or any day}. 
You could get creative and dip these in some chocolate if you wanted. Yum! These work best when the bananas are ripe enough to be sweet and not too soft.

2. Banana ice cream

Literally - with one ingredient. Banana!
Cut up ripe bananas and freeze in an airtight container. Once frozen - place in your food processor or use your stick mixer to blend it all up until it is creamy and smooth. 

If after you've blended it it's not super creamy and maybe looks a bit like this
add a little non-frozen banana and whizz it up again.

If it's a bit too soft, pop it into the freezer for a little bit and then you can scoop it out onto mini cones or into a cup. 

The kiddos will LOVE this. You could add cocoa powder, cinnamon etc if you wanted to also. 




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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{delightful sponsors}

I would really love to introduce you to my delightful sponsors!

I've talked about Sukimama before, I am in love with her philosophy and her online shop. The hard work has been done for us here - everything in the shop must be safe and free from BPA, phthalates, parabens, PVC and more. This is important to me, especially when it comes to body products and anything that comes into contact with my kiddos food + drink.
"Our mission and passion is to introduce parents to the finest and most stylish baby and childcare brands on the green market. We aim to provide you with the safest, healthiest and most natural products available for your precious babies, whilst being kind to Mother Earth. We have researched and tested each item and reviewed all the products with our own two children and are confident that we have picked the most forward thinking brands in terms of their functionality, durability, affordability and of course their cool style!
So what's our criteria for all the products we carry?
  • Products need to be free of toxic chemicals including BPA, phthalates, PVC, pesticides, toxic dyes, colouring, perfumes, synthetics, formaldehyde and paraben to name just a few!
  • It has to be tried and tested on ourselves and we have to love it!
  • Where possible, it's organic, Eco-friendly, natural, made under fair trade conditions, recycled or recyclable
  • It's stylish, fun and cool
  • It's functional, durable and affordable
Our mantra is to contribute to a brighter, greener future for us all, especially for our precious little ones as they will inherit what we leave behind."
Find Sukimama here: WebsiteFacebook | twitter





Bright Buttons Toys is another new sponsor for {a little delightful} and I love the range of toys and products available. I'm a little picky about my kids' toys and we own quite a few of the products Amanda showcases in her shop.
"All toys are handpicked by Amanda Hawes the owner and Educational and Developmental Pyschologist. Bright Buttons Toys is unique in that parents or caregivers can seek assistance in selecting the right toy or product to meet the learning and developmental needs of their child, no matter what age or skill level."
Amanda shared these helpful questions to ask when choosing toys for your child:
A way of getting value for money when buying a toy ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is this toy or product building a skill in my child such as fine motor, gross motor, cognitive skills such as colours, shapes, counting?
  2. What is the purpose of this toy?
  3. Will this toy be suitable in 12-months time?
  4. Will this toy be able to last across several children in the family?
  5. How can I use this toy to interact with my child? 

Bright Buttons Toys also provide a monthly 'Child Development and Education' Article via their newsletter. 

Find Bright Buttons Toys here: Website | Facebook | twitter

xx



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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

{printable} valentine's handprints

Hello!


I have had so so so many emails about this printable - it was available through Jade's {Super Organiser Mum} blog for Valentine's last year but the link seems to be broken so you can download one from here :o}

We did ours yesterday. So fun to see how much my babies have grown!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!


xx

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Monday, February 13, 2012

heart shaped meringues


Have you ever made meringue before? 
This was the first time I have attempted these little delicious treats. I found this recipe on Taste.com.au - it had great reviews which is always a good sign so I decided to give it a go.
Make sure you leave enough time for these - they take about 5 hours all up - because they are cooked nice and slow in the oven {2.5 hours} and then left in there until the oven is cool {about 3 hours}. 

Taste.com.au Meringue Recipe - by Sarah Hobbs

You will need:
4 egg whites at room temperature
220 g {1 cup} caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp corn flour, sifted

Food colouring in your desired colour - 4-5 drops if using water based, just 1-2 drops if using gel paste.

Method:
Preheat your oven to 100°C
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Place the egg whites in a large clean and dry bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until the form soft peaks.

Gradually add the sugar and whisk until it is dissolved. Continue to beat for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy and trailing peaks form when you lift the beater from the mixture. {see photo below}. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined.

Divide the meringue into 2 or more bowls {depending on how many colours you are making - I just made pink so didn't divide at all}. Slowly and gently stir in the colour.

Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe your meringue onto the baking paper. I made heart shapes and used a very small nozzle to make an outline and then to fill them in. To smooth out the lines made from the piping I just used a teaspoon.

Place in the oven for 2.5 hours, swapping the trays half way through cooking. The meringues should sound hollow when tapped on the base when they have finished. Leave in the oven to cool, about 3 hours.

Aren't they cute!? 

The only thing I didn't like about my meringue making experience is that they still smell a little like egg white after they are cooked. But they tasted delicious and the kids loved them! I was super pleased that I made them myself :o} They are not too hard. I think you could even just stick teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking paper and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands if you wanted to avoid the piping part and they would still come out fantastic! :o}

They look super cute packaged up with my printable Valentine's topper :o}


xx




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