Monday, 24 February 2014

Playing play-dough

In a desperate move to  entertain the Bug (possibly molars moving, arg who knows? but a grumpy clingy babe needed distracting) I made some no cook play-dough (recipe from The Imagination Tree, I've tweaked the method a little). 
Normally I have two go to play-dough recipes. The one my mum always made from the cream of tartar box (lets dub it the traditional version), and a jelly crystal one my sister found on Facebook. The jelly crystal one is a much nicer consistency and doesn't leave that salty feeling on your hands. The 'traditional' one is easier in that I always have the ingredients in the pantry (jelly is not a common staple... yet). Both take a bit of elbow grease and dedicated (aka un-interrupted by minis) mixing over a hot stove. However up until now I'd never tried a no-cook option. Maybe because pre-motherhood play-dough was not really a priority, and also because mum had always made the cooked version, therefore it never occurred to me there was any other way. However the following recipe was simple, quick, mostly child participation friendly and had pretty much the same result as my 'traditional' version as far as texture and performance go.

No Cook Play-dough
1C flour
1/4 C salt
1T cream of tartar
(Optional) Natural fruit based Powdered Glob paints
3/4 C boiling water (divided into 2portions - 1 half cup, and 1quater C measure) 
1T vegetable oil
(Optional) Few drops of glycerin (apparently it makes it glossier) 
(Optional) food colouring (if not using the powdered paint) 

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a bowel. If using powdered colour you can add it now. Bug loves to mix while I add. She especially liked when I added the powder paint because she could see the result of the mixing better (I'm now thinking aloud (sorta) that turmeric or coco powders could be interesting to experiment with... Hmmm). 
Add the oil and glycerin (if using)  to the 1/2 measure of hot water and add to the dry ingredients. This is the part mummy takes over for a few minutes, despite possible protests from your mini. Mix into a dough adding the 2nd measure of water a little at a time till mix pulls together into a sticky ball. You may not need all of the hot water. Add desired amount of food colouring.
Knead till dough looses it's stickiness (add a little more flour if needed) and the colour is evenly mixed. 
It is now ready to squish and shape or stick into an airtight container and store in the fridge (apparently it keeps for up to 6months)
How easy is that! I'm not sure I'll bother with cooking play-dough ever again.

Potato mashers, jam jar lids, spoons, forks, cups, and textured plastic toys (that can be washed) make for good squishing and mooshing toys.

 We also chucked in some Rose petals for some texture and colour (they didn't stick to the dough so could be removed before we packed away.

And yes, for an hour or so I had a happy mini... until she started throwing clumps of play-dough on the floor and after repeated warnings, had to go into time out. Ah well. Tomorrow will be a better day!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chocolate Free Easter treats

Bug will be 19 months old at Easter. I don't know about everyone else but I'm happy for her to wait at least another year before introducing her to the sugar overload that Easter can be. I figure her Grandmothers will be supplying her with more chocolate than I'm comfortable with anyways. Last year she was given 2 chocolate eggs. I ate them both, she was 7mnths, there was no way she was getting chocolate eggs! Anyway I digress. 

(Image from Village Pottery)

Last year I got Bug a personalised egg cup from TheVillage Pottery shop on Etsy.  I was so pleased with it. We actually used it for the soft boiled eggs with veggie chip soldiers we had for dinner tonight (it was lazy tea night), and I know as Bug gets older she'll appreciate having her own special things.
I'm hoping to get Baby number two (let's call her Bebe for now), the same or similar (we'll have to wait till she has a name of course).

This year I got some DIY nesting eggs from Dolls In Dolls. Which I decorated using vegetable based paints, and some gold acrylic. A couple of layers of varnish later and voila.  I wanted to keep mine quite simple so I could use the eggs as tools to talk about size, (small medium large, big, little, etc) and colours when we play with them, but there is potential to be as elaborate as your imagination allows. I would love to try decoupaging them, and it can see stencils coming super handy in the decorating process. 

The whole process was a fun mummy only activity for me, but I can't wait for a few years time, when I think Bug will have a ball creating her own Easter keepsakes.

The facts and figures:

The personalised egg cup cost $18 including postage from the UK, as it was made to order be prepared to get in early, it could take a few weeks.

The DIY eggs were $9.95 with $6 flat rate postage (and I ordered a couple of other items at the same time.)
The Paint and varnish I already had. The plant based paints are $16.50 from Eco toys . The gold acrylic was about $3 from Spotlight, as was the varnish.

Tip: I had a couple of natural sponges, which were really helpful to hold the wet eggs in order to paint them all  over without getting messy fingers.
Also sellotape can help you get nice crisp finishes - shoulda thought of that earlier...


Sunday, 16 February 2014


I should briefly introduce this blog.

Hello, I'm Kate.
I'm a dreamer, a traveller, a crafter, a cook, a wife and a mum.
My hubby (BWB) and I live near the Mornington Penisular, Melbourne.  We have two big beautiful dogs and one lovely, chaotic, funny little girl who we affectionately call Bug.
Right now she's 16.5 months, and like a little blond hurricane... and I have another one on the way, due in 2 months or so. Life is pretty hectic and looks to get more so, but 98% of the time I wouldn't change a thing.
For ovious reasons I will not promice to post on this blog as often as is probably ideal. But I hope that when I post the content will be worth reading.
This blog will cover the activities I get up to with my Mini Melbournites. Hopefully it will offer inspiration to other parents, and non parents too. It should be fun! I hope you enjoy it too!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A daytime visit to the Moonlit Sanctuary

I love Sundays. They used to mean sleep ins and breakfasts in cafes and watching movies with BWB (aka my hubby). Actually for a long time they meant working, (ah the joys of retail). But on weekends off Sundays became the most indulgent day of the week.  Now the sleep ins are a wonderful memory, and the breakfasts are, more often than not, homemade (but still delicious).  Movies, when they happen, are often interrupted.  But non of this matters.  Sundays have possibly become even more special because they mean spending the day as a family.

Today we went to the Moonlit Sanctuary in Pearcedale. It's about 50mins from the city, and about 15 from our house so I don't know why we haven't gone earlier.

I was really impressed. The very friendly keepers do regular (about hourly) presentations with the animals, and there is the opportunity to hold koalas and snakes (errr... personally no to either).
There's info on each animal, including their name, fun facts and their endangered status. It's not an overloading amount, enough to give a good opportunity to talk about each animals unique characteristics with older kids.



The highlight for us, and for Bug, was the wallaby and kangaroo walk. You follow a bush path with your bag of food and before you know it beautiful little wallabies and grey kangaroos creep out to see what treats you have for them. They are tame enough to eat right from your hand, and happy to stick about for a wee pat too.
I would defiantly go back. A good day out for the whole family.

The facts and figures:
Best for 1-100 years. Ideally want your kids to be old enough to be interested in the animal.
The dirt tracks are good, but possibly not suitable for all prams.  Taking a baby is not a hardship if you have an off road pram or a carrier.
$17 per adult. $8.50 for children. Under 4s free. Family's (2+2) $45. Food and hands on animal encounters extra.
Plenty of parking.
Cafe fairly standard for this sort of attraction. Coffee, tea, hot food, muffins etc all available but nothing too gourmet. Pearcedale has a nice looking cafe and a very good fish and chip place minutes away if you fancy other options.
Toilets in OK condition. Forgot to check if a baby change was available (oops) but I would assume it would be.

I couldn't help but take a pic of this little swamp hen, you've got to love a baby whose feet are bigger than him!