February 12, 2014
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Our New TUMTUM Bugs Range Is Coming!

Ladybird-Lunchbag-(1)There are lots of studies around that show that children who eat a healthy lunch are more alert and do better in preschool and school. As parents, we know we all feel happier and more relaxed when the little ones are eating well!

After school and at weekends, we are all running our children to swimming lessons or football or Grandma’s house and need more packed meals and snacks . Let’s ditch packets of crisps, curled up cheese sarnies and chocolate bars! With a little batch cooking we can make our lives easier and healthier!

Our new TUMTUM BUGS range, available from March is a hit with boys and girls and is flexible enough for any kind of lunch.

 

ladybird_main_400x400We love our fantastic Ladybird Lunchbag. Made from insulating neoprene it has lots of room for food and drinks and makes a great lunchtime friend!ladybird_open_400x400

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June 20, 2013
by admin
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Mummy Treats

mumtreatheaderIt’s Friday, the kids are in bed so why not treat yourself? Whether you are on your own or have your best friend round, here are some easy inexpensive homemade girly spa treats, with drinks and desert to match, just pick a movie and switch off your phone!

Food and drink first – and you can prep these ahead, so no fuss during the evening!

Chocolate dipped cheesecake slices. I can’t resist the idea of this. The most decadent treat ever. On a stick :)

Fantastic cocktails frozen on sticks – you can prepare these the day before and just go get one when you feel like it. Just make sure the kids can’t get them! Frozen watermelon mojito mmmmm

Or if you are a coffee fan, try this amazing café bombón panna cotta desert from www.domesticsluttery.com

Spa treats

Almond oil is used in any number of beauty and skin products. What you might not know is that can buy it in the cooking oil section of larger supermarkets – and a bottle will cost around £1.60.

Almond oil moisturising face scrub 1 spoon of almond oil, 1 spoon of ground almonds – massage over, rinse and pat dry.

Almond oil body scrub – 2 tablespoons of almond oil, 3 tablespoons of sugar. Soft brown is lovely, but caster is fine! Take this one into the shower, massage into damp skin away from the shower spray, then step forward into the water and rinse away. Pat dry. This also makes an excellent hand softening scrub, and the almond oil is good for your nails too!

Mini face peel – use cider vinegar on a cotton pad and smooth over cleansed skin, avoiding the skin around the eyes. Leave for 10 minutes then rinse, pat dry and smooth a little more almond oil over.

Hair treats

Greasy and a bit lifeless?  try a cider vinegar rinse followed by plenty of water, or this sea salt soak for a bit of body! Only once in a while though as it can make your hair dry out

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • Spray bottle

Spray liberally into hair after shampooing and leave in. Style as usual. If you scrunch your hair dry with your fingers instead of a brush, this can also give you beach curls!

dry hair mask  1 banana 1 avocado couple of drops of oil mix together

Wash and towel dry hair, smooth the mask through, pile hair on top of head and cover with a shower cap or wrap in a hand towel. Pour wine and relax! when the glass is empty, rinse hair thoroughly and towel dry.

Extra stressed?

try a restorative yoga relaxation session and let it all go!  Free online here. This is part of the www. doyouyoga.com 30 day yoga challenge – 1 free online class a day for 30 days, with teacher Erin Motz, so if you are feeling guilty from the frozen goodies, why not give the whole course a shot?

May 24, 2013
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Party Time!

It’s Small’s birthday next week so I’m having party planning madness! We have always had the parties at home and I kind of work on autopilot now, though I always decorate the cake myself, leave it to the night before and end up in an icing sugar clouded mess. I will never learn..but I will post pictures!

First job when planning a party has to be set a budget. From this you can work out your whole party plan.

Make sure that you keep the party management as simple as you can – stress-fest mummy is no fun, so ask at least one mum to help. It’s useful to note that when children start school it is quite normal for them to be dropped off and picked up from parties so you need at least one adult helper!

Think about what your child would enjoy rather than throwing the biggest or best or most unique party.

Where to have the party?

The most cost effective locations are at home or in the garden. Village halls or  local independent cafes are also good places to hold parties. You can also hire a party venue such as a soft play centre with entertainment and food provided. Whatever you decide, try and get the venue booked a few weeks in advance. Remember when hiring a venue that you need enough time to decorate and set up, and clean up at the end!

When will the party be?

Have a look at the school diary and your child’s schedule to see if there are any clashes. Try not to schedule a party in the middle of the school holidays if possible. Make sure that their best friend is definitely available on the chosen day

What Time of Day?

Your choice of morning, afternoon or early evening will affect the food choices at the party, I like late afternoon as it gives me all day to prep!

Guest List

Invite either the whole class or all the girls/all the boys. Ask the school or nursery  if they can give you a class list so that you don’t miss anyone. Saying that, if you are having a party at home, think about how many you can fit in!

If your child has siblings, will they be at the party? Can they invite a friend?

Themes and decorations

Best kept simple for small children. Paper tablecovers, matching plates and lots of balloons and coloured streamers.

Lots of children ask for a theme or character party. This does not have to blow the whole budget if you pick the decoration colours accordingly, and add in a themed cake or buns. Rename party games to work with the theme (musical statues becomes Pirate/ fairy/ monster statues with appropriate music)

Invitations

Store bought invitations are very useful and not too expensive. Homemade invitations can just be simple printouts or beautifully handcrafted and time-consuming. Only send the latter if you really love making things!

Remember to include the name of your child, the name of the invited child, the date, time and place of the party, an email and telephone number for RSVPs and any fancy dress code! A hint at the theme can also be useful.

Also remember to put the time the party ends – this is for other parents information as well as your sanity! It can also be useful to ask if there are any food allergys

Food

We’ve done a variety over the years, homemade pizza, scooby snack mini burgers, traditional party tea, sausage and mash. Make up juice in jugs and make sure you have lots of fruit. I always have one child who refuses to eat anything but strawberries and crisps. …write your shopping list a week before the party and buy the food with 2 days to go.

Cake – yes this is where I go overboard, but if you are horrified at the thought of icing a cake, just buy one from the supermarket. If you are making buns though, always make your own frosting, it tastes tonnes nicer. And remember the candles!

Entertainment

You can hire an entertainer, disco or bouncy castle to take the pressure off, but if you are on a budget, you can do the entertainment yourself.

Borrow or buy a party CD, or make your own from music on your computer. I use a music service called Spotify on my laptop which is fantastic for creating party play lists and has the added advantage of pausing using the space bar for games/food breaks/ generally making yourself heard!). If your games end early, a disco is a handy filler!

Games

Classic games still work really well – organise about 4 – musical statues, pass the parcel, musical chairs/cushions, relay races, treasure hunts, apple bobbing, dressing up games, balloon bursting (with sweets in the balloons)… there are hundreds of ideas online. My favourite is the mummy game – split the group into groups of 3 where one is the mummy. Give the other 2 kids a toilet roll each and let them wrap their mummy – the only rule is no head wrapping for safety reasons!

For slightly older children, why not set team tasks and games and fill a chart with stars to win prizes for the whole team at the end of the party (earning goody bag contents).

 Speaking of Goody bags…

One year I did not do goody bags, just cake to take home. and I let children take the balloons from the party home if they wanted to. The world did not end. Giving the goody bag items as small prizes instead works really well. Stay within your budget! If you are having goody bags remember to have them ready to hand out as children leave

Above All

Have fun

If the kids want 12 rounds of musical statues and don’t eat the sandwiches, it’s ok.  If someone is upset, try to fix it immediately, it’s a party after all.

Have cups of tea and biscuits on hand for other parents (and a takeout and a bottle of wine for when the kids have gone to bed!)

May 17, 2013
by admin
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The Pasta Disaster…

pastadisaster_mainI like to cook with my kids, it’s very satisfying to make something yummy and then sit down together to eat. Usually, they are very enthusiastic cooks and helpers, and though I know I will end up scraping more food off the walls and floors (and once even the windows!) than we eat, it’s still real quality time.pastapleaselogo

We’re hooking up to lovely Tinned Tomatoes Pasta Please for the first time and the host this month is Simone at Briciole – both really good sites and well worth a read :) Hello to everyone there!

So let’s make pasta, I think it’s a fantastic idea. Like bread it’s one of the most basic and wonderfully versatile foods, and the family all love it, so off I trekked to Waitrose for a bag of Tipo 00.

We go for the basic 100g flour to an egg recipe and as there are 4 of us, the kids measured out 400g and made their own little Vesuvius volcano of flour on the worksurface. They crack the eggs and get stuck in stirring with their fingers  – and things are going really well, much less mess and more control than I had envisaged. Here they are having a ball…

pasta_mixing

The dough comes together well, but as it is very tough to knead, the kids duck out onto their bikes while I hammer the lump into a smooth ball. Time for a coffee while it rests…

Now, I don’t have a pasta machine. ‘That’s ok’, the internet reassures me, ‘Italian Nonnas scorn and ridicule such gadgetry and have relied on strong arms and a rolling pin forever’. I can do that too!

So begins the next 40 minutes. I roll and fold the dough sideways a couple of times to keep the strip narrow and then transfer to the kitchen table for more space. I roll until the palms of my hands ache. Then husband arrives and holds the end of the pasta to keep it in place while I roll some more. I stand on the bench seat to get more weight behind the pin and jump up and down. It’s getting quite interesting now and the kids come to the door to stare and point…  The pasta is now at full table capacity, so I cut it in half with the scissors and start again. Husband wanders off muttering something about computers (but I know that really he thinks I’ve gone mad and is edging away slowly). I keep on rolling because it’s now me or the pasta.

Meanwhile, the children are back in the house. Bored and hungry they are clearly destroying the other end of the house while I roll on and on until – yes, I could see the animal pattern on the table cover through the pasta! I’d read something about seeing newsprint through the dough, so it must be ready. I fold and cut triumphantly.

With tomato sauce bubbling and water on a rolling boil, I drop in the pasta strands. Almost immediately it becomes clear that the pasta was too thick and as they take on water,  huuuge snakey strips float in the pan. I know where this is going, but lets see it to the end – I add the pasta to the sauce with parmesan, serve it to the kids and hide round the corner.

After a few minutes I go in the room to find out why it is so quiet, and bless them, there they are trying to eat it.

I have learnt several things

1. My kids are lovely

2. Never mess with an italian woman, ever

3. My local pub does an excellent pizza and wine deal

4. I need a pasta machine

pasta_kids_hands

May 10, 2013
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Scrummy Gingerbread Houses!

giant_gingerbread_houseIt’s a giant’s gingerbread house! well no not really, this one is about 15cm tall, the dolly mixtures are a dead giveaway aren’t they?

Gingerbread houses are becoming a bit of a family tradition at Christmas but as the kids think they are brilliant and they are so easy to make, it’s an occasional treat during the rest of the year too!  This one was made to accompany ‘movie night’ in our house, and the kids loved pretending to being giants, smashing their creation to gobble up with a glass of cold milk.

I make the gingerbread dough the day before  – it’s a 5 minute job, and the dough needs to cool and rest in the fridge for a bit – it’s easier to roll this way! actually there’s no reason why you couldn’t make the dough anytime – it freezes beautifully and is a good standby when kids are coming for tea – just take out the dough in the morning and make the houses or gingerbread men with them in the afternoon.

There are different templates available online for the house – you can find this little one here. Their recipe is on the site, but I prefer the one below as it contains no egg and we like nibbling the raw dough! (it’s fantastic nibbed into vanilla ice cream)

This recipe is enough for two little gingerbread houses  based on this template – multiply it up for more or to freeze extra dough! If you don’t have dark sugar, or like a lighter gingerbread taste, use the same quantity of soft brown sugar instead.

  • 125g Unsalted Butter
  • 100g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 3 big tablespoons Golden Syrup
  • 300g Plain (All Purpose) Flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger (optional)
  • A piping bag/ food bag with the corner cut off – filled with a stiff water icing made with icing sugar
  • Sweets/ candies/ decoration of your choice

In a big pan, gently melt the sugar, syrup and butter together until just mixed, then take off the heat.

In a big bowl, mix all the other ingredients.
Pour the wet sugar mix into the bowl with the flour mix and stir until the dough comes together. You can use this straight away, but it is easier to roll if you let it cool and then put in a foodbag/ wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge.
When you are ready to bake, Heat the oven to 200 (180 Fan or Gas 6) and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Lightly flour your surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about the thickness of 2 £1 coins (1/4 inch).
Use a knife and the template to cut out the shapes for the house.

You will need 2 walls, 2 gable ends and 2 roof pieces per house and might have to bake in shifts if your oven is small. Don’t worry about it being perfect, you will neaten them up once baked.

Use cutters to make shape with any spare dough. Gingerbread men and stars are perfect, but you can make any flat shape.

Bake for 12 minutes until golden. Once out of the oven, put the templates over the shapes and trim the extra where the gingerbread has risen. You can cut doors/ stamp out windows with cutters and knives while the dough is warm. Cool on a wire rack

Now you are ready to build the house!

Really this is just a case of putting the four walls together, piping a line of icing where the pieces join. If you are using the template suggested, the walls fit on the outside of the gable ends, so that the roof will fit properly. Wait for 5 minutes for the icing to grip, and the fix the roof on.

When the icing has set for a while and (if the kids can wait!), use the spare icing to fix on lots of yummy sweeties, or write their names on the roof.

This makes a lovely centrepiece for afternoon tea, and is great as a surprise on a traditional picnic.

May 3, 2013
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TUMTUM Lunch Planner

School lunches have proved to be challenging this term as I have decided to pack food rather than go for hot school lunches. The girls have decided that they do not like sandwiches and my efforts were coming home and going straight in the food bin. Of course all unhealthy items were consumed with gusto, but being a stubborn mummy, I refuse to give in! Last week I asked for everyone’s help on Facebook and you had some really lovely ideas, so I decided to make a lunch planner to help us all out! It’s at the bottom of this post – Rightclick and save to your computer, then just print as you need them! Mine is going on the fridge

Why not put each in with the lunch as a menu?

lunch_menur

Each lunch is made up of a number of elements – either a main item and some healthy snacks, or lots of little items buffet style. I find it helps to think of things in categories to get the balance right, so each lunch has

Dairy – Yoghurt, cheese

Fruit – Apple, banana, plum, fruit salad pot

Vegetables – Cucumber, peppers, avocado, cherry tomatoes, celery,

Protein – Hard boiled egg, chicken, ham, cheese, houmous, bean salad

Carb – Wrap, pitta, rice, pasta, bread, breadsticks, crackers, oatcakes

Pack things into separate little pots like our Snackpots – these work really well for packing Greek yoghurt with honey instead of the little sugar filled kid yoghurts that you can get from the supermarket – healthier, cheaper and the pot is reusable and much cooler!

My kids like sliced Panini rolls dipped in oil and balsamic with a side of pitted olives –messy but good (very European, my kids!)

Kebabs are also a winner, thread and weave things that your little one likes onto wooden skewers and then snip off the end and tape it safely.  The TUMTUM Lunch Set is a good one for this as it is longer than normal lunch boxes, and you can fit the little pot sideways next to the kebab or pack it separately in the lunchbag – fill it with dippy things!

More lovely ideas from our Facebook friends  –

Spanish tortilla slices

Mackerel pate for dipping

Homemade wholemeal pizza pieces

bulgar wheat with peppers, olives and feta cheese

little carrot cakes

cheese scones

mini pasta with Tuna and sweetcorn

fruit and veg kebabs

mini quiches (make them in a bun tin)

cheese ploughmans with a selection of cheeses, crackers and halved pickled onions

 

If your children are just starting nursery or school, it’s useful to ask the following:

Does someone help them to undo/ unwrap the food/put straws in juice boxes etc

Are drinks provided (we even have to supply water in for lunch)

Do they provide cutlery or do you need a travel set?

Is food stored in a refrigerated area or do you need cool packs?

Are nut and seed products allowed in the lunches?

 

Lunch Bags and Kit

We have a lovely range of products for your kids while they are out and about –

Our Lunch Bag has space on the back for your child’s photo – really useful for starting nursery when your little ones name is still new to the staff – and so that they can pick out their own bag easily! We also have a lovely Water Bottle to keep their drinks cool. I put one each in their room at night to prevent them stalling bedtime with ‘mummy I need a drink’. Our Snackpots are everyone’s favourite and are invaluable for everything from snacks to hairbands to catching beetles!

 

Current health and safety advice

For all small children is that grapes, olives etc should be halved, carrots, are better sliced thinly or grated as sticks can be a choking hazard and whole nuts should not be given to children under 5.

TUMTUM_lunchplanner

 

 

April 22, 2013
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A tree to climb and daisy grass to roll on

Amy_Chatsworth_tree_blogSaturday started out rather badly in my house. We all knew that we were going out for the day, but couldn’t get out of the door. You must have been there too – ‘Get dressed – jeans would be good’ you say to the children glued to morning cartoons ‘come on, we’re going out for the day’. Big looks at me half sideways so that she can keep Scooby Doo in view. ‘Where are we going?’

‘It’s a surprise!’ I say enthusiastically. The next hour is then spent pulling everyone desperately out of the house whilst throwing things randomly at the dishwasher and the washing machine.

By the time I get everyone in the car, I’m out of breath. At this point it begins to dawn on the adults that we have no clue which direction to drive in. Also, the very large wicker picnic basket in the boot (received gratefully full of goodies at Christmas) is devoid of actual picnic. Plates, knife, butter, half a packet of ham thrown in from the fridge and a sticky jar of jam yes – sitting in the bottom hopefully, and I did manage a flask of coffee.

I brightly skimmed over the lack of food whilst loading everyone into the car. There is always a shop…

I forget that everyone else in the UK is going out too. We find them all an hour later – all trying to get into the same place as us. We didn’t stop the car.

It’s an hour later again by the time we arrive at Chatsworth Park (normally 20 minutes drive from us) via a shop for some foody things to fill the basket. After the long haul of a morning, my children teach me the lesson once again. Don’t try too hard. All they want is a tree to climb on, some grass to roll about on and maybe some jam ham and bread.They like to make their own sandwiches and make up their own games and races. When they were tired, I taught them to make daisy chains, which they did happily for an hour or so.

Did you have a nice time this weekend? I asked this morning

‘Weasel’ replied Small happily ‘Weasel, Weasel’ I’ll take that as a yes then.

Niamh_tree_smily_chatsworth_blog2Amy_Cartwheel_chatsworthblog

April 10, 2013
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Checking out the Dinosaurs at Manchester Museum

Manchester_Museum_MainSome of the Tums were out and about in Manchester this week, on a trip out to Manchester Museum to see the dinosaurs. The recent spell of wintry weather is testing our knowledge of indoor places to go, and this is a winner! Dinosaurs (Big ones)  mummies, a vivarium full of frogs and lizards, childrens activities and somewhere to get good coffee. There is even an indoor picnic area if you want to take your own pack up. It’s  a free museum and runs theme days on weekends throughout the year (Big Sats) http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/

April 5, 2013
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Easter Fun at Tatton Park

Tatton_MainThe  TUMTUMs had a fantastic time at Easter at Tatton Park in Cheshire.  As you can see they also had great fun on the egg hunt and ate far too much chocolate :)

This is a brilliant place to take kids who can let off steam around the gardens, but there is much more to Tatton. The farmyard is buzzing in spring, with plenty of new lambs and chicks and other animals to feed and stroke. This year, there’s a  brand new adventure play areas which include a large den building zone (though I think the dads have even more fun than the kids in this bit!) Here are some friends that we made and the den that we built.Tatton_Den

National Trust membership for a family of 4 costs £72.75 for a whole 12 months, and if you’re family is a little larger than that it’s also worth noting that children under 5 are free at all sites!

With your membership, you get Free entry and parking at over 300 historic house, gardens and countryside and coastline spaces. Many of these also run free events and workshops for children during the holidays, Halloween and Christmas. If you use your membership just a few times a year it pays for itself – but there’s no restrictions on the number of uses, so you could go every weekend.

National Trust Free Weekend!

On April 21st and 22nd 2013, The national trust is holding a free weekend .You need to register and download your free voucher, and take it along with you and your car full of kids, sandwiches , blankets and flasks. Hundreds of the Trust’s properties are taking part – a full list is available on the site so why not go somewhere on an adventure?

March 15, 2013
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TUMTUM Baking Cakes

150313_MilleFeuillePosh cream cake anyone? Our TUMTUMs loved making this with our new Baking Range and if they don’t like strawberries, why not try raspberries instead and mix in some crushed meringue pieces?

Strawberry Mille Feuille

You will need:

I sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
a big handful of fresh strawberries (sliced)
1 medium tub of whipping cream
1 -2 drop vanilla extract or essence
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
Smooth jam

Cut the big sheet of pastry into about 12 pieces
Pop them on baking sheets and
Let the kids prick them all over with a fork
Bake in a hot oven for about 10 – 15 minutes (about 220c). If the pastry is cooked it will be puffed up and golden)

While the layers are baking, whip some cream – the kids can do this with a little whisk
When it’s nice and thick, fold in a little vanilla and sugar (or meringue pieces)

Take the pastry out of the oven and let it cool completely.
Layer up the mille feuille – first a pastry layer, spread with a little jam, add some sliced fruit, then some cream and another pastry layer then a little more jam, strawberries and cream and top with a layer of pastry spread with more jam and a some fruit! Use a sugar shaker to dust your cakes – yum!
The new Baking Range is available here

Time for Tea!

Time for Tea!