DIY Embellished 1st Birthday T-Shirt

It was my son’s first birthday this week and I wanted to make him something special to wear to commemorate the day.

I have a sewing machine that I got last year but haven’t used it a lot. I am wanting to get more confident with using it so I can go on to make better things.

I decided I would use a basic t-shirt that my son already had (and will probably grow out of soon) and sew a number 1 onto it.

I had a bunch of clothes that no longer fit my children and hoped to use some of this fabric to create the design. We had a Gruffalo themed party and my son had an old Gruffalo vest so this was the perfect piece of old clothing to use.

I drew a number 1 on the vest and roughly cut it out. I then pinned this to the t-shirt, folding the edges under to give a neat finish. Lastly I put this onto the sewing machine and carefully sewed the number 1 onto the t-shirt using a zigzag stitch.

Overall I am impressed with the results, it’s not perfect but it made a memorable t-shirt for my son’s first birthday. It also meant I didn’t buy new clothing as I was able to upcycle and upgrade which is a great thing to do.

It’s really good to be able to use items we have and be inventive instead of having to buy new things all the time.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

What I am Sowing and Growing

I have quite a few hobbies and interests, and growing my own fruit and vegetables is one of them.

My challenge this year is to grow as much as possible on the small patio of the flat we are renting. (We have our names on the allotment list, but it’s a long wait)!

The first seeds I sowed in February were
– Tomato – Yellow Delight
– Tomato – Rosella
– Aubergine – Long Purple
– Chilli Pepper – Long Slim
– Chilli Pepper – Early Jalapeno

All of these seeds came free with my monthly Kitchen Garden magazines. I have a great stash of seeds from the magazine subscription.

When I sowed the seeds I used wooden lolly sticks to label them. Unfortunately these went mouldy so I had to take them out! Because of this I then ended up with seedlings that were unlabelled. I have potted them on and don’t know which is which but I’m not too worried. I can tell which ones are the tomatoes and when the fruits set in then I will know – it will just be a nice surprise for me as they continue to grow! I sowed them in an indoor propagator and have now potted them all on.

I didn’t have any plant pots to pot them on to so I have been inventive with my recycling! All the food tins, butter tubs, fruit punnets and any other container suitable for potting seedlings into have been used! I used a sweetcorn holder to stab holes in the bottom of the containers for drainage!

The next seeds I sowed were in March – this time I used a dot of nail varnish to label the seedlings in the plastic seed tray. I sowed 4 different seeds so used four different nail varnish colours. I then put a dab of the corresponding nail varnish on the seed packet so I know which is which. When I pot these on I will use the varnish again on the pots!

In the propagator now are
– Lettuce – Little Gem Cos
– Pepper – Sweet Astor F1 Hybrid
– Tomato – Yellow Stuffer
– Spring Onion – Ishikura

The 5 tomato seeds have germinated quickly and so have the lettuces. The spring onions are beginning to poke through. The peppers are yet to germinate but I only sowed them 1 week ago so and they tend to take a little longer. Once seedlings are big enough I will pot all them on into my recycled containers. The lettuce and spring onion seeds were from the Kitchen Garden Magazine and the pepper and tomato seeds were purchased from Thompson and Morgan.

Here you can see the nail varnish dabs to denote which seeds are growing. If there are two rows of seeds I have put a dab on each row.

I hope to get the seedlings outside in April or May time – depending on the weather conditions and the plant type. Peppers need more heat so I will probably keep these indoors for longer. I also need to get prepared by buying grow bags and large pots for the plants to be growing in when they do go outside.

I am just looking through my seeds now seeing if there is anything else I can sow. Although I’m not sure if I will have room for any more!!

I can’t wait to get to a garden centre and have a good look around! I am hoping to buy some strawberry plants to grow out on the patio.

Thanks for reading,

Happy Spring and Growing Season!

Katie

Gruffalo Themed 1st Birthday Dinner

Today it was a birthday celebration and whilst the only guests to the party were our household we still had fun.

My daughter received a Gruffalo recipe book for Christmas. As soon as she saw that there was a Gruffalo cake in the book she knew that would have to be made for her brothers birthday. I gladly accepted the challenge.

If you aren’t familiar with The Gruffalo, it’s a children’s book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Sheffler, the pair have created many books together and are very popular among children and parents alike.

I looked through the recipe book and decided I would make a few of the other recipes for the birthday meal. I chose to make toadstool pizzas, woodland salad and roasted fox (sweet potato chips). I also made terrible tusks, which are fruity kebabs. Then for the grande finale – The Gruffalo cake!

Pizzas
I chose to use a separate recipe for the pizza dough and made this first thing in the morning. Once risen I rolled out and cut into toadstool shapes. The decoration was simple, a coating of tomato passata and then circles of mozzarella to make them look like the white spots on toadstools.

Sweet Potato Chips (Roasted Fox)
I cut chip shapes out of sweet potatoes and also added one potato to the mix. I seasoned these with curry powder and coated in a tablespoon of oil.

Woodland Salad
This was just a simple task of making some salad vegetables look pretty! I used cucumber to make trees – and used a Christmas tree cutter. I made flowers from rounds of carrots and radishes. These were from ideas in the Gruffalo Crumble recipe book.

Fruit Kebabs (Terrible Tusks)
These were fun fruity kebabs just to add a bit of fruit and colour to the birthday food. I followed the recipe as a basic guide but used fruits of my choice. I used banana like the book stated as that was the part that looked like the Gruffalo’s tusks. The fruits I chose to use were cherry, melon and strawberries. I slid these fruits onto metal straws and created a fruity tusk for each one of us.

Gruffalo Cake
I was really excited about making this cake so couldn’t wait to make it! I chose to use a different cake recipe to the one in the book. I made a moist chocolate sponge that turned out really well. I cut the sponge as the recipe stated in the book and followed the directions for decorating it – making little tweaks depending on what ingredients I had available. It may not be exactly the same as the one in the book but I am pleased with how it looks!

As a family we had a great birthday tea and I think my son enjoyed his first birthday! In fact, he cried when we took the cake back into kitchen after he had eaten his small slice!!

I decorated the flat with a few balloons and even upcycled a Gruffalo vest to decorate a t-shirt with a number 1 for my son to wear! I did this on the sewing machine – perhaps I can get another blog post out of that!!?… It has been a great day, I definitely recommend the Gruffalo Crumble recipe book to fans of the books as it’s a great way to make fun food for children and also to cook with children. I did cook this meal alone but I have made other things from the book with my daughter such as the gingerbread mice and pesto snails.

For my daughter’s 1st Birthday Party in 2018 I did an Under the Sea Theme. I had written a blog post on this but that was on my old blog account name so I shall rewrite this and post it in the future…

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Home Organisation – Rainbow Bookcase

I have spent today organising and tidying my home so that it is a more relaxing space to be in.

I don’t like clutter and love the idea of minimalism – I am slowly working towards that way of living.

I do however have quite a lot of books – I did have a massive clear out of books before we moved, so I have a lot less than I used to. There are also lots of children’s books which I love having as it’s great for children to be read to and have a variety of stories.

My bookcase was looking a little messy and disorganised. As it is quite a focal point in the room I wanted to smarten it up. Several years ago I came across a photo online of a bookcase organised by rainbow colour order. I thought this was a great idea and it is something I like to replicate on my bookcase.

I have arranged each shelf in rainbow colour order, after the violet or purple coloured books I have put white, brown and then black books. Obviously the colours aren’t perfectly in order and some books have more than one colour on the spine making it tricky to position along the colour spectrum!

I have matching oak furniture and wanted to make the sideboard look more attractive too. I brought in my yukka plant from the kitchen. The plant looks great on the sideboard – I definitely need to get more houseplants as I really like them and they add colour to the room.

I dressed the sideboard with some crocheted mats and then arranged some family photos on there. The photos are all displayed in different frames so it’s not too uniformed. It’s lovely to have somewhere to display photographs. My next step is to get a nice decorative pot for my plant.

I like to be surrounded by things in my home that make me happy but also have meaning and provide enjoyment. I am really trying to remove any unnecessary clutter to create a more relaxing living area.

Hope you are having a great Monday,

Katie

Favourite Food Dishes from This Week

This week I don’t seem to have taken many foodie photos. So I’ll just do a roundup of favourite meals I cooked this week. (They are the ones I have taken photos of)!!.

Bean Enchiladas
These were full of flavour and delicious. For the filling I used a tin of mixed beans, diced green peppers, sweetcorn and passata. I seasoned this with oregano and paprika. When the filling was cooked I added in some grated cheddar. I spooned the filling into wholemeal wraps and rolled them up. I placed them into a tin, poured on passata and topped with grated cheese. These baked for about 20 minutes. I served them with sweet potato chips.

Squash and Chickpea Stew
This meal was from a recipe book – Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The dish is really full of flavour and packed with great I ingredients such as butternut squash and red lentils. The flavourings in this are cinnamon and ginger which gives it a nice warmth. The stew went really well with couscous.

Simple Green Veg Pasta
Sometimes the simplest meals can be the tastiest and most comforting.  There are days when I crave more green veg. I decided I would make a pasta full of greens so cooked some courgette, green pepper, leafy greens, frozen chopped spinach and peas. I added garlic, basil, oregano and black pepper to the veg and then poured in passata. I mixed this in with some cooked pasta shells.

Baking
My best baking this week was the mini quiches for packed lunches. These looked and tasted really great, they were filled with grated carrot and mushroom. I also made a simple sultana and mixed spice sponge cake and made some pear and nutmeg rock cakes. Not much to look at but tasty treats!

That’s a roundup of what’s been cooking this week!

Hope you have enjoyed some great food,

Katie

Toy Storage Bags

Today, I am going to be talking about toy storage and an idea on how to tackle toy organisation.

As a parent to two young children,I feel constantly surrounded by toys and I have been wanting to find a better way of storing them and keeping them tidy. So many toys are made up from lots of different pieces and it’s easy for things to go missing if they aren’t all put away in the right place!

I am currently living in a small flat so storage space is quite an issue. I keep most of the toys in plastic boxes but these always look messy and unorganised.

The goal is to probably get some wooden storage chests to keep the toys in so they are more hidden. I like the look of toy chests but I wanted the contents to be tidy and organised on the inside instead of it being a pile of toys….

So I decided to sew some simple drawstring bags and then used permanent markers to label the contents. I know these could have been made prettier and perhaps I could have sewn designs onto the bags. However I am in need of a solution quickly as my son turns 1 next week and I know there will be new toys!!

I used some thick lining fabric to make the bags and just sewed up the sides and then turned over the opening to the bag over a piece of twine to be the drawstring. I didn’t measure the fabric I just roughly cut the size of fabric I needed.

This was a very basic bit of sewing using the sewing machine. Any fabric could be used to make storage bags. I have some old children’s clothes that I may use to make some smaller bags to store things like jigsaw pieces and small Playmobil accessories.

I just like the idea of things being in the right place, looking clutter free and being organised. It’s also good that toys are grouped together so I know exactly where to find them and where to put them at the end of the day.

The drawstring bags could be used for a number of different items and can be made in all sorts of sizes. They could be made for storing makeup or hair accessories.

What are your toy storage solutions?

Katie

Is Blogging for Me?

I had been really enthusiastic about blogging since I started back again in October but recently my blog posts have had hardly any views which is rather disheartening and discouraging!

I didn’t start this blog to be popular – believe me that couldn’t ever happen to me! I have never experienced popularity! It’s just nice to know people are interested and do like to read my content. It’s hard to not keep looking over the statistics!

I spent a while writing my February 2021 Review and packed it full of different things I had been doing including photos, thoughts and goals for this month. I am very appreciative to those who did read it so thank you. I was a little disappointed to see my views statistics dwindling!

I’m not sure where it is going wrong! I use tags, I have quite a few followers now but perhaps virtually I am just the same as I am in reality. I am quite a shy person and not very good socially! I have no social life and that’s not because of covid! I love my family and enjoy being a wife and Mum. I keep in regular contact with the wider family which is great. But generally the only people in my social circle are family.

I had other blog posts planned – one about toy storage sacks I have been making and one about the seeds I have been sowing and growing. I also have other ideas. However I am unsure whether to post them as I just seem to be losing an audience!!

Perhaps this is a sign to take a break from blogging? And maybe come up with ways to improve my content and connect better with people? Is my blog too random!? Who knows! I shall ponder on these thoughts.

I don’t want to see this as a negative. I am just going to see this as a challenge and look at it as a means to improve and better myself but also as a chance to step back and reflect on what I want from my blog. Anyway, here’s a shout out to all those who do follow, read and like my blog. I really do appreciate it. You can read my post of gratitude here…Thank You

Thanks for reading and any words of advice, or any thoughts would be great!

Katie

Healthy Lunchbox Treats

My 3 year old daughter has just started going to nursery 3 days a week and takes a packed lunch.

I am quite excited by this as it means I get to come up with different lunch ideas for her!

So, I have lots of ideas in my head but for just getting started this week I kept it simple with soft cheese sandwiches and used a sandwich cutter to make them into dolphin and whale shapes. Using shaped cutters really make things fun for young children. One day this week I cut some small pieces of cheese with a little heart shaped cutter. My daughter was amazed and wondered how I had made the cheese heart shaped!

I make sure my daughter has fruit and vegetables in her lunch. On Monday this week she had tomatoes, a piece of fresh fruit and a box of raisins. On Tuesday she had tomatoes, a banana and a jelly that I made up from jelly cubes and set berries in. I made it up in individual tubs for her so she has one left for tomorrow! The jelly was a big hit and she was excited by that.

I had mentioned to my daughter about making mini quiches for her to have in her packed lunch, so that was this morning’s baking project! We made pastry and cut into circles and placed in a muffin tin and baked. For the filling we chose to use grated carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. I used thyme to add flavour and made up a basic two egg and milk mixture and poured this into the veg filled pastries. I added cheese on the top. I had some mixture left over so I poured this into some silicon cake cases and added tomatoes and cheese to make a couple of crustless quiches. We had these for our lunch today and my son loved the crustless quiche!

I have to say the mini quiches are a little rustic looking but it’s home cooking. I’m not aiming for perfection – I just want to make tasty and healthy food for my family.

So in tomorrow’s lunch box I will be packing a mini quiche, some slices of salad veg, a fruity jelly and a piece of fresh fruit.

I look forward to coming up with different ideas for new and exciting lunches.

What do you like to put in your packed lunches?

Katie

Roasted Vegetables in Yorkshire Pudding

As a family our meat consumption is quite low. We often have meat free weeks which we all really enjoy.

We like to eat Toad in the Hole which is sausages in Yorkshire pudding. I wanted to make a vegetable variation of this without using meat free sausages. Personally I am not a fan of meat alternatives and would rather eat vegetables and pulses instead of something that is trying to be like meat.

I decided I would roast some vegetables and then top them with Yorkshire pudding batter for a tasty dinner. So, here’s how I made it..

My ingredients were;

For the roasted veg*

– 1 large parsnip
– 1 quarter of butternut squash
– 1 sweet potato
– 1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tbsp oil

For the Yorkshire pudding batter

– 3 eggs
– 4 tbsp plain flour
– a pinch of salt
– 2 tbsp water
– milk
– vegetable fat

1.Peel and chop the veg into large chunks and mix with oil and thyme in a large baking tray with deep sides.

2. Roast the veg for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, turning once half way through.

3. For the batter, crack the eggs into a jug and whisk, then add the flour and keep whisking until it’s smooth. Add the water and then add a little milk at a time until it is the consistency of double cream.

4. Add vegetable fat or more oil to the vegetables and turn the oven up to 230 degrees Celsius.

5. Once the fat is melted and hot pour on the Yorkshire pudding batter and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until it is browned and well risen.

And there you have it, Roasted Vegetables in Yorkshire Pudding. I chose to serve mine with boiled new potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts and gravy.

* I used parsnip, butternut squash and sweet potato but all sorts of vegetables could be used. Roasted pepper would taste great, swede could be used and even garlic cloves would taste good roasted. Choose your favourite vegetables.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Let me know if you tried this!

Katie

February 2021 Review

February has been a good month for me. A I have achieved and discovered lots of different things. So, what has been going on in February? I shall break this down into categories…

Blogging
February has been a great month for me in the blogosphere! I have written quite a lot of posts this month and achieved my best ever views, best monthly views and got over 200 followers. I really enjoy blogging and like to post about a range of different things, especially food!

Health and Wellbeing
This month I had a bit of an epiphany about my self care. I decided that I wanted to start getting fit and being more active and also to take care of my physical appearance. I just want to look after myself all round to make me feel happier, more confident, fit and energised… You can read about my health and wellbeing post here.. 3 Things I am Doing for my Self Care and Well Being.

For the last week I have been practising yoga at least once a day for 15 minutes at a time. It has been really relaxing and feels great to use muscles that don’t normally get used!

I also bought myself some new make up and have started to wear it daily just to give myself a confidence boost.

Sowing and Growing
I started off some tomato, chilli pepper and aubergine seeds at the beginning of the month. Lots of them germinated which is great but I have managed to get them jumbled up when moving into bigger pots so I have no idea which seedlings are which! Ahh well! It will be a surprise to see what fruits they grow!! I sowed two types of tomato and two types of chilli so it will be a while before I figure out which types they are!

I didn’t have any plant pots so I have been inventive with my recycling. A lot of my seedlings needed potting on into bigger pots so I have been using tin cans, butter tubs and other various plastics that would have otherwise been put in the recycling bin.

Walks
February has seen two extremes of weather. At the beginning of the month we had a very cold spell and had a little flurry of snow. This week has been a lot milder with beautiful clear blue skies and sunshine. I have been out for a walk every day this month and have taken some lovely photos of forests, the beach and the harbour. I even managed to spot some seals which was lovely to see.

Crafts
The cross stitch towel project isn’t far off from being finished so hopefully by the end of March it will be done.

With my daughter I have been doing paper mache to make the Easter story scenes. We have made a tomb and stone and the hill and crosses. We are in the process of getting them painted.

Bible App
I have been following reading plans on the app and have been reading daily. I have almost completed The Essential 100 plan which covers 50 passages from the Old and New Testaments each. It’s really great to get an insight to the whole Bible.

Family Life
My 3 year old daughter started nursery for the first time this week and will be going 3 days a week as of March. This is a really exciting time for her and she absolutely loved her first day at nursery. I will be sending her with a packed lunch so looking forward to creating healthy lunches for her. My nearly 1 year old son has started to take his first couple of steps so it won’t be too long before he is properly walking!

As a family we have also been enjoying spending time outdoors by going out on walks together. It’s

Food
We have eaten lots of great meals, soups and cakes this month and I am really pleased with my home cooking achievements. I love cooking and being able to make tasty meals for my family.

Plans for March
I am hoping for another great month!

I have more seeds to be sowing and hope to take good care of my seedlings to establish strong plants.

I would like to complete my cross stitch and perhaps start on some different sewing projects using the sewing machine.

I want to continue with my daily yoga and will hopefully start to feel more fit and energised from it. Also I want to focus on healthy eating and make sure I drink plenty of water each day.

I shall have a little more spare time with my daughter being at nursery 15 hours a week so I will be able to have Mummy and Son time and also focus on housework routines and perhaps be able to plan better.

My son turns 1 in March so I am planning on a little birthday tea just for the four of us.

And finally, I hope to keep on with blogging and improve my blogging skills, entertain and maybe even inspire you with my blog content. As always there will be cooking and baking and hopefully some new and exciting things!

Thanks for reading all this,

Hope you had a great February and I wish you a happy March!

Katie