Our new playhouse

right decision

In our house, we don’t do chocolate for Easter. I think Boo gets enough chocolatey eggs off other people (also see http://farmerswifeandmummy.com/?p=1369) and I always got a gift rather than chocolate off my parents.

As Boo is a winter baby, outdoor, summer toys always seem pointless as a birthday present when snow is usually on the ground so Easter is the perfect excuse to give a toy that will bring hours of fun through the summer months.

2013

Last year she received a wheel barrow off the Easter Bunny. She loves it and can often be seen wheeling it around the farm yard.

I have been thinking about a playhouse for some time but I have been torn between buying a plastic one or a wooden one.

There are pros and cons for both. I have been researching it for ages and even tweeted my question to gauge the reactions of other parents out there.

After a lot of consideration, we opted for the plastic variety. While many parents may groan at this, for us it was the best option.

For one, living on a farm, we have to have outdoor toys  that can be thoroughly wiped clean. Also, with a busy hubster and me doing all the mothering and house side of things, I don’t realistically have time to schedule a re-paint of a wooden playhouse every year or so.

Likewise, as we are right in the middle of lambing, there was no way Hubstrer could have sacrificed a day of his life to put together a wooden play house.

I am not making excuses. I am actually very pleased with our plastic option despite my previous plastic-aphobia (http://farmerswifeandmummy.com/?p=734)

My research has revealed that you can spend little or lots on playhouses. Some ‘big brand’ plastic varieties can cost upwards of £300 while wooden ones can cost in excess of £1200.

easy to put together

Now farmers are renowned for their tightness so when I found this Toys R Us beauty for £49.99, it had to appeal to Hubster’s generous side right?

Right.

When I compared the £1500 variety, his hand went straight in his pocket.

PicMonkey Collage

Do you now what? It is lovely. There is a little hole in the bottom which can be used as a cat flap. I say ‘can be used’ because in our house it is used as a dog flap. Boo couldn’t wait to get into it-even before the roof was on.

There is even a letter box.

It just goes to show that you can spend hundreds so of pounds on things for your children but sometimes they love cheaper options just as much.

right decision

I am so pleased with our play house and it was really easy to put together.

So easy, there is even the option to take it down for winter. I think we will just put it in a barn but the option is there.

I highly recommend the meadow xottahe

 

Word of the Week: Choc

The word of the week this time is:

choc

 

 

Note it is choc not chocolate.

Boo loves choc what child doesn’t I suppose?

With Hubster still busy lambing it has been a hard week with no break for mummy. The hardest thing I find when it is like this is cooking our evening meal. Boo wants entertaining all the time while I am trying to cook.

When Hubster is not busy he usually takes her upstairs to the lounge but as he can’t she is with me. Fair enough the little mite is hungry and ready for her dinner but as we all know, toddlers are not the best creatures at waiting.

So as soon as I put a pan on the hob, the choc-chant begins.

“Muuuuuuuuuuuum, choc.”

“It’s nearly tea-time” is just not good enough for a three-year-old who knows what she wants and she wants it NOW.

It escalated during the preparing of Sunday dinner last week. I had already got off to a bad start by forgetting to take the meat out of the freezer. So pork chops, roast potatoes and veg were on the menu but, with the prolonged choc-chant which, followed by a firm ‘no’ from me (65 times), a tantrum of epic proportions ensued and…..I managed to burn the whole dinner. Yes, even the roast potatoes.

How this happened I still can’t fathom but it did. It was inedible.

So I hot footed into the village. The chippy was shut which left the pizza place.

So, not only did I have to pay for take-away food, I still had the dishes to do from my inedible Sunday dinner.

PicMonkey Collage

So, from that day, I prepared myself. I bought Bourbon biscuits. They’re a chocolatey colour so, when apples got rejected (they lasted two nights) when I was cooking, I brandished the bourbons and, instead of aying “have a biscuit,” I said, “hear have this choc”.

It’s worked so far.

While I agree in terms of mother-failures, a biscuit before tea is not ideal, at least it keeps Little Miss Boo happy and, most importantly, I don’t burn the dinner.

It being Easter weekend, I suppose it is appropriate to have choc as my word of the week but, really? I don’t know how to move on from what I can only describe as a choc-phase where this is the only thing that will make her happy.

 

The Reading Residence

Let’s track our steps with a Ozeri Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer

I thought I walked quote a lot each day.

We have a quirky three story old house with loads of stairs and I run after a lively three-year-old most days.

PicMonkey Collage

So when I was sent an Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer I quite smugly thought, this will just show me what I already know-I walk a long way each day.

How wrong I was.

The first day I strapped it on, I became a little obsessed looking at it. I had it hanging around my neck so it was easy to keep slipping it out and having a sneaky peak.

It was really easy to set up, you really just had to work out how big each of your steps were when you walk.

At the end of the first day, I was quite pleased with myself- 5947 steps.

Then I Googled what was the recommended steps a person should walk each day.

What an eye opener.

According to the NHS, the average person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day, and 1,000 steps is the equivalent of around 10 minutes of brisk walking.

So I was only just above average.

As part of the NHS Livewell initiative, they are challenging people to 10,000 steps a day. They say that research shows that walking 10,000 steps a day will significantly improve your health. Putting one foot in front of the other can build stamina, burn excess calories and give you a healthier heart.

They share tips such as walk part of your journey to work and use the stairs instead of the lift.

Now I am never one to shy away from a challenge so I began really thinking about my daily routine.

parent-child-

At the supermarket for example, I use the baby and toddler parking spaces which are nearly always situated near the entrance of the store. Unlike disabled spaces which need to be near the entrance, baby and toddler spaces are purely to give parents extra room to open doors to get children in and out of bulky car seats.

I discovered that if I parked at the far end of the car park, not only did I have to walk further, there was no one parked there so I had more room to open the door to get Boo out anyway.

On the two days  am at work, I parked at a car park a little further out of the city. Not only was it cheaper, I walked more so my pocket and my waistline benefited.

I’ve made a conscious effort to go for a walk every day with Boo-it is beneficial to us both. If it has rained, we’ve gone out with hoods up, umbrellas and Wellington boots.

The best readings I had on the  Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer were when I went running. One day I had over 15,000 steps on there. I felt like some little streamers and whistles should have come out of it to congratulate me. I had to be thankful with a self-pat on the back but I was still pleased.

It is really a good idea to get a pedometre because, like me, I believe many people believe they are doing enough walking as part of their everyday routines when actually they are not.

I highly recommend the  Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer.

It records steps, distance, speed, calories and time with the world’s most advanced Tri-Axis technology. There are three recording modes: today, split and total — with a split screen display for multi-data views.

It uses 3D Tri-Axis Sensor (X, Y, Z plane detection) provides superior accuracy in any position, counting up to one million steps with seven-day memory so you can look back t what you have achieved.

It includes a built-in clock, calendar and sports timer and, is apparently used by professional athletes

Let’s all make a conscious effort to get moving more.

Easter Crafts-Egg people

eggs 1

So this week we are getting into our Easter crafts. I saw a brilliant photo on Pinterest of eggs with eyes and little plants growing out of them.

I thought it looked amazing so we had to have a go.

With loads of chickens, we always have loads of eggs so to find something to do with the shells was a great thing to me.

I bought plain wooden egg cups and some eye stickers from Baker Ross and began to hatch my little plan.

egg 2

There were six in the box so I thought Boo and I could have three each. Boo could just get creative and so what she likes and I would have a go at funny faces.

I opted for a bikini lady egg head, a tuxedo man with a mouchtashe and a yellow chick one for Easter and in homage to the creatures who had made our craft possible.

egg 3

Boo had a great time painting. To be honest, so did I.

I think maybe I should have used eggshell from boiled eggs as they were fragile and Boo broke two of hers.

I will have to look into that. Maybe you should coat them with something first.

So here they are.

eggs finished

I’ve put chives and cress in them so hopefully we will get hair-just like the ones on the picture.

We really enjoyed our eggy craft day.

Creative Challenge

Mini Creations

Mini Creations

Frozen-my secret obsession

Frozen-group-580x380[1]

I’ve got a bit of a confession to make.

You know how parents up and down the country are moaning because their children are asking to watch Disney’s Frozen film over and over again?

Well I’m moaning because Boo would still rather watch Peppa Pig.

Now don’t get me wrong, I also love a bit of Peppa but really? In comparison to the lovely Elsa and Anna?

I have had Frozen on whilst cooking meals, getting dressed-even snuggled up on the sofa on a rainy afternoon but I still get the little oinks from Boo and a remote control brandished in my face in a manner that would, quite frankly, show up even a double-crossing love cheat like Prince Hans Westerguard of the Southern Isles  (I know, I know, I need help).

The only amusement Boo gets from the most amazing film I’ve ever seen the latest Disney classic is laughing when I sing Let it Go at full pelt while swirling around like a Disney Princess.

Thankfully she is still at an age when she thinks Mummy’s voice is better than anyones. I am aware this won’t last so I am milking my one-woman show for as long as I can.

I won’t give up.

photo

I am determined that Boo will inherit my love of Disney and I will go to extreme lenghts to achieve this.

I wonder if playing Let it Go subliminally would be classed as child cruelty….

Let the storm rage on….

 

 

Our Easter tree

It seems a lot of people have started decorating their homes for Easter. Not quite as much as Christmas but still with a tree as the centre piece.

I bought an Easter tree when it was Boo’s first Easter. I suppose I was celebrating new life myself and got swept up in the Spring-like feeling.

photo 1

For Christians, Easter is more than just about chocolate so I was a bit uneasy putting up the Easter tree before Good Friday as it seemed wrong but then I argued with myself that it seemed pointless to have it up for only one day.

This is Boo’s third Easter so we make a big deal of putting the tree up and decorating it with little chicks, rabbits and eggs.

I got my tree from The Contemporary Home. It was three years ago though so I checked to see if they still do it. They don’t do exactly the same one but there are some really lovely Gisela Graham offerings there.

Our small decorations were from Paperchase and they still have similar in stores now. Paperchase always have delightful Sprung and Easter decorations.

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Boo loved helping to dress the tree. It is just the right size for a little girl. I often think Christmas trees can be a bit overwhelming for children.

To be honest, anyone who has been near our living room has been invited to ‘see’ the Easter tree and, if she is quiet, I can guarantee she is there rearranging the ornaments.

We added a set of battery operated lights this year which I think made it look even more special.

photo 3

I have also got some Easter hanging plaques which I picked up from the Pound Shop. I hung one off the beam in our living room and one off our bi-fold doors.

 

Embrace Spring this year and celebrate the new life that Easter symbolises. There’s more to it than chocolate.

 

 

 

 

Sleep easy with Web-Blinds

Any parent of babies or young children can vouch for the fact that sleep becomes a luxury.

So when I found out that Web-blinds, part of the Hilarys Blinds family, had come up with a sleep challenge to help people get more, I jumped at the chance to find out more.

Around one in three adult Britons struggle to get the necessary amount of shut-eye leaving them feeling grumpy, irritable, unable to concentrate, depressed and in extreme cases at risk of serious health problems.

In our house, it is also used as a bargaining tool. I’ll do that if you let me lie in in the morning. I got up 98 times last night so surely I’m owed an hour this afternoon-that kind of thing.

So apparently, sleep cycles last 90 minutes and we pass through five or six of them every night.

Waking up mid-cycle can be when the problems of grumpiness occur-so that’s my excuse.

When the clocks spring forward, it is an epic problem with parents because it is still light at your children’s bed time.

One year, I seriously contemplated bricking up the window-surely this would make Boo go to sleep and stay there for at least 11 hours?

At the old house we had black-out linings on our curtains but, unfortunately gaps of light can escape at the top, bottom and sides of curtains-even with a black out lining.

I had to do something.

So a blackout roller blind was the only option. With both the blind and the curtain, the room was much darker.

I would like to tell you that the blind was the answer to my prayers and that we enjoy lie-ins until at least 8am every morning.

Life with a toddler is not so cut and dry. While the blinds stop the light coming in, they don’t stop Boo’s little eyes fluttering open.

The lovely people at Web-Blinds offered me a blackout blind for either my or Boo’s bedroom.

I had already bought Boo’s blind (it was the first priority when we moved to the farm-a measure of how obsessed with sleep I am) and, in our quirky farmhouse, the window in our room is only tiny so they very kindly said I could have a blind for our large kitchen window which is south-facing.

I had to cook dinner in sunglasses last summer as the sun streamed in every tea time. I looked fabulous darling but there were a couple of near misses with a sharp knife and a tin-opener-don’t ask.

My room décor is red and cream and, my friends will vouch for the fact that I absolutely love polka dots (even my pram had polka dots on it) so I went for a red, polka dot blind and, I think you will agree, it looks lovely and very farmhouse-like.

I think I underestimated how much a window dressing can change the look and feel of a room.

IMG_0295

We’ve only been at the farm for just over a year and there is still a lot to do so I am going to have a good look round at my other rooms without blinds and curtains and see what I can do.

If you want to find out more about the sleep challenge, click here.

I did ask web-blinds if they would do the early shift with Boo one morning to help with my own personal sleep challenge but they declined. I can’t help but wonder why. Is 5am not a normal time to get up?

 

Disclaimer-I was given my lovely red polka dot blind for free and I absolutely love it.

We're going on an adventure

Run rabbit run…

We don’t need much of an excuse around here to get hopping mad and I’m not talking about being angry. It is almost Easter.

I’ve always loved rabbits.

When I was at university myself and my house-mate used to dream of having a bunny village and, when we moved to the farm, I started establishing it.

photo 1

I did want to breed them but we’ve had two of them for six months with the addition of Carrot for six weeks and, with the absence of bunny babies, I can only assume they are all male.

Our village has an internet forum. I offered half a dozen eggs if someone could come and sex my rabbits for me but no one took me up on the offer.

Their summer residence is a chicken coop but Hubster has been complaining because they have been digging up the lawn.

It is what rabbits do but, I admit, the holes, which were not far off reaching Australia, could have broken someone’s ankle if they had fallen in them the wrong way so something had to be done.

I had a look on the internet and apparently, if you put wire underneath the run, the bunulas can still enjoy the grass but without the digging.

I arrived on the grass with some planks of wood, a hammer, some nails and some netting and began scratching my head.

photo 2

Thankfully Hubster came to the rescue and made a lovely little wire run for them.

Boo thought it was brilliant. She kept asking to go in so, when I had to bring shopping in from the car and bring washing in, I popped her in the run and she had a great time knocking on the door, putting her head in the hutch, saying hiya to the rabbits and letting them frolic around her feet.

photo 3

It was so cute.

Then, the day after, her little friend came around to play and they both got in to play with the rabbits.

photo 4

I will continue to look for that special female rabbit who might make the dreams of the three fluffies in our garden come true. Until then, I think they are enjoying themselves hopping around the garden.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Top Celebrity Chef endorsement!!!!!

Ok, ok, I am totally flogging this donkey now but… remember how I won that award for my Nutty Banoffee Fairtrade cake?
I’ve only gone and been endorsed by a super-top chef. This could potentially be my first and last award so, I am determined do an Oscar-worthy speech going to milk it for all it’s worth.
This is what Allgra McEvedy said:

“A well deserved win my dear – went down a storm with all the family!”

Find me a vowel. Oh. My. Goodness.

A Cordon Bleu-trained chef said that about a little Farmer’s Wife?

If you want to try the cake out for yourself. Here is the recipe:
ingredients

8oz Fairtrade Caster Sugar
8oz Wholemeal flour
8oz butter or butter alternative-margerine etc
1 tsp baking powder
4 Fairtrade eggs (ok they are from my hens who get a great corn price for their eggs)
1tsp cinamon (optional)
3 Fairtrade bananas
2tbsps milk or cream
100g of Fairtrade nuts. I used peanuts but you can swap these for a Fairly traded nut equivalent of your choice.

For the filling: A can of consensed milk,
1 Fairtrade Banana
Some Fairtrade nuts retained from the 100g above.

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line and grease two 8-inch baking tins (I use frylite spray for greasing).

Chop your peanuts, You can use a food processor but I prefer bigger chunks in my mix and, to be fair, hate washing it so I did it by hand with a knife. Plus, feel like a celebrity chef when I’m chopping nuts, I have no idea why.

Sieve the flour into a bowl. I used a strong wholemeal bread flour so I sieved it a few times.
Add the Fairtrade sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder and cinnamon and mix with an electric mixer.

In another bowl, chop the banana and add the cream and mix with the electric mixer. Add the banana to the cake mix and give it another blast with the mixer.

banana cream

Add the chopped nuts and fold in quickly and fold into the mixture.

Divide mixture between the two tins and bake for 20 minutes on two shelves then swap over for the remaining 15-20 minutes.
Please note, you know your own oven. During the last 15-20 minutes, please check your cake. You will know it is done when it is just browning around the edges or, a skewar comes out clean.

Allow to cool in tins for ten minutes, then turn out onto wire wrack to cool completely.

Next the dulche de leche. Now, I googled this to get it right and there are many, many ways to do this. The old fashioned ways on the hob in a pan of water or in the oven take hours so, in true cutting-corners style, I choose the microwave option.

You blast it in two-minute intervals on a medium setting and whisk in between until a) it has turned a toffee colour or b) it has been cooked for at least eight minutes.
Please make sure you whisk the mixture whilst wearing an oven glove as it is very, very hot.

At eight minutes, I chopped in another banana (the heat of the dulche de leche cooked this banana-yum).

Allow to cool. Put a small amount between the cakes (enough to cover one half of cake) and place on top of each other. Then spread the rest of the gooey, sticky loveliness on the top of the cake and sprinkle some more Fairtrade nuts (I did chop these a little finer).

finished cake

So there you go. My Nutty Banoffee Cake.

Casa Costello

Word of the Week: Colours

This week’s word of the week is…

 

COLOURS

 

Boo is really coming on with her colours now so we decided to have a painting session to really get involved with them.

messy

It did get messy but I have learnt to relax a little bit with it. It was a beautiful sunny day so we painted outside.

I’d got some paints in the sale last year so I gave her a selection.

collage 1

In hind sight, I should have decanted the paint into tubs as they have now become a mucky mess of merged colours but Boo had fun so that is all that matters.

collage2

Her favourite colour at the moment is orange or ‘odghe’ as she calls it.

 

She did a lovely picture which I will treasure (with the other 52 of them).

picture

We love painting.

 

The Reading Residence