Peanut Butter Biscuits

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This is a great recipe for baking with toddlers. The kid is 22 months old, and she had a great time making these with me today. She got to pour the sugar into the scale, tip that into the mixing bowl, stick her fingers in the peanut butter, play with the settings on the mixer, roll balls of the dough, and squash them on the baking sheets (not to mention helping to tidy up and pack the dish washer). A great way to spend half an hour.
That’s actually one of the great things about this recipe: it takes so little time. This means that kids are unlikely to get bored halfway through and leave you to finish off while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on their shenanigans.
They’re sweet and crispy and go perfectly with a glass of milk. And did I mention that it needs only three ingredients?

So now that you’re ready, here’s the recipe for these tasty, crispy cookies.

ingredients

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Mix all the ingredients together. I beat the egg and sugar first, then mixed in the peanut butter.
Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Depending on the peanut butter you use, the dough may need to be rolled into balls and squashed slightly. This is how ours turned out and we used a thick, crunchy peanut butter.
Bake in the preheated oven  for 6 to 8 minutes, until slightly browned. Once out of the oven, allow the cookies to cool on the tray before moving them (or eating them).

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Quick ‘n’ Tasty Crunchie Ice-Cream

This is a popular recipe that I’m sure most people know by now, but just in case you haven’t tried this incredibly delicious ice-cream, here’s the incredibly easy recipe.

Ingredients:

500ml double cream
1 can of condensed milk
3 Crunchie© bars
1 Crunchie© bar to decorate (optional)

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And there you have it: quick, easy, and delicious no-churn Chrunchie© ice-cream.

By the way, if you leave this in the freezer for a few days, the honeycomb seeps out into the cream and creates swirls of caramel-flavoured ice-cream. Yum!

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Treasure Hunt for Toddlers

I am a genius.

The Kid’s spending the afternoon with some of her favourite people while I rest and recouperate from a minor cold. But after a short nap, I was filled with energy and had a brilliant idea for a game to play with her when she gets home: A Treasure Hunt!

Yesterday was Good Friday, and after the church service some friends came back to our place for a bring-and-share lunch and one of my famous Easter egg hunts. It was the perfect day to run around the garden finding semi-melted chocolate. Today, however, is absolutely miserable weather-wise, and the Hubband is working, and I woke up with a cold. This means only one thing: foist the Kid off on some friends so I can nap. But what to do when they bring her back? Ah yes, Indoor Activities. Preferably: Indoor Activities During Which I Can Sit on The Couch.

Hence: my ad hoc Toddler Treasure Hunt.

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Here’s what you need:
Your kid’s toys;
Paper;
Camera/camera-phone;
Printer;
Scissors.
Note: if you have kids who can read, you can just write the name of their toy on pieces of paper instead of taking photos and printing them.

And here’s what I did:
First I gathered up twelve of her toys – half of them are favourites, the other half are ones she hasn’t played with in ages.
Then I took photos of each of them, and printed them on the back of used paper – no point making this too fancy, she’s only a year and a half, she doesn’t mind.
I cut out each of the photos and put them in a pile on the table next to all the toys.
I put the first photo aside and picked up the toy that was in that photo (a wooden caterpillar), then I hid that with the next photo (of her hippo book) in a place that would be visible to the kid – I didn’t want to make it so hard that she would lose interest, but you can tailor it to the ability of your child.

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Notice how I cleverly disguised the caterpillar toy to blend into the photo-frame?

I made sure I remembered what toy was in the photo I hid (the hippo book) and hid that one next along with the next photo.

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The hippo book is Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton; I recommend it.

I hid each toy somewhere she could see from the place the previous toy was hidden.
The second-to-last was a group of what we call aliens (they’re actually fancy eraser-sharpener things). I hid these inside a zip-up bag which I placed in her toy basket. You may think that’s a bit mean, so I feel I should explain that the zip-up bag is actually referred to as her “alien bag.” I know she’ll have no real difficulty in finding them. But I also cleverly hid the last photo, folded up, inside one of her ‘aliens’ which gives her a nice little challenge.*

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I folded quite a few of the photo clues in different ways, to help her practice her fine motor skills.

*She found it first time…so much for that “challenge.”

The last toy was the lid of one of her ‘aliens’ which I filled with raisins and hid in the bathroom. That may seem weird to you, but it’s where she left it last night before bath-time, so I’m hoping to see whether she’ll remember that or not…

Here are all the photo clues:

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Notice the one lidless ‘alien’?

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I hid the bouncy ball inside the jar just to make it more visually interesting and give her a surprise. The weird pink thing is the ‘alien’ lid.

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So how did it go? Brilliantly.

It kept the Kid and the Husband entertained for 15 minutes, and then she played with all the toys for a further 15. And these weren’t new toys, they were just the same old toys that somehow gained an air of newness merely from being in unexpected places.

Things that went well:
1) Folding the photos in different ways slowed the game down a little and gave a bit of a challenge to her fine motor skills.
2) We encouraged her to look around her, rather than just assume the toy was in its usual place, which was good for her observation.
3) When faced with the photo of her pink ‘alien’ lid, she thought for a moment, looked around, and then walked to the bathroom. She obviously remembered where she had left it, but was beginning to suspect that her toys can move around independently…
4) Although the photos were quickly printed on cheap paper, we can reuse them a few times (probably every week) – that’s why I only hid toys that she owned, rather than library books we’d have to return etc. If you’re one of those enthusiastic laminators, you could laminate your photos. If you really wanted to.

Things that didn’t go well:
1) Nothing!

Do comment and let me know if you try this out at home. I’d love to know how it goes and if your kids enjoy it.

Pretty DIY Baggies

I’m offering a free gift-wrapping service on all my Etsy listings. Aren’t I nice? I bought a huge roll of brown paper and a ball of twine last month in preparation for all the presents I’ll be wrapping up for Christmas. I love wrapping presents. But although brown paper packages tied up with string is perfectly fine for my family and friends, I thought something more fancy would be better for customers. So, with a few more supplies, I made some little wrapping-paper baggies for my jewellery.
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Here’s how I made them. It’s a very complicated process, I doubt anyone would be able to figure out how to do this without my step-by-step instructions…

You will need:
Brown paper
Scrap paper
Stamping ink
Craft knife
Scissors
Box that’s the size you want the bag to be
Double-sided tape or glue
Twine (optional)
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Using your craft knife, cut your chosen shape or design out of some scrap paper.
Use this as a template to stamp ink all over your brown paperimage

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There’s a much simpler way of doing this of course: it’s called using a stamp. But I couldn’t find any suitable ones in my village so I had to make do.

Once that’s dried, cut out a piece that’s wide enough to go around your box and about 6 to 10cm longer than your box (depending on how big your box is).
Wrap the paper around the width of the box and stick it down with glue or double-sided tape.
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Fold and stick the bottom of the paper bag the way you would if you were wrapping a package.
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Take the box out and put some presents in. Flatten and fold the top over and stick this down with some tape or tie it with some nice string.

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Toys to Make for Babies; part 2

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Lately I have been watching a lot of the ever-amusing and stylish Suzelle DIY, and it’s inspired me to share another little DIY toy with you.

Today I will be showing you: How to Make a Toy for a Baby.

You will need:

A clean plastic bottle with a lid,

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Some ribbons,

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Some assorted beads and things,

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And a drill.

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Step 1: With a 3mm drill bit (or thereabouts; choose a size that works best with your bottle and ribbons) drill four holes in the bottom of your bottle. Clean of any excess bits of plastic. Thread each ribbon from outside in through it’s own little hole and tie some knots in it.

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Step 2: Using the same drill bit, drill four holes into the lid of the bottle and clean it off. Thread the other ends of the ribbons through these holes (from top of the lid inwards) and tie some knots. Alternately, you can thread some big beads onto the ends of the ribbons before you tie the knots, enabling them to dangle nicely inside the bottle.

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Step 3: Place all your beads and things in the bottle. Make sure you’ve put everything in the bottle that you mean to. Put a few drops of glue onto the thread of the bottle and tighten the lid.

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And there you have it: a rattley, rolling, ribbony toy for babies.

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Fifteens: You Don’t Have to be Northern Irish to Make These

Fifteens are tasty, easy-to-make sweet things that are great to take to parties.
They’re also quiet-to-make.
This is an important consideration now that there’s a baby in the house.
They need no oven, no beater, and no…um…whatever other things there are that are noisy in your kitchen.

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I don’t have much time to make much-needed sweet treats these days, what with looking after our awesome new addition to the family and running my own jewellery business. However, these Fifteens are a perfect quick-fix! They only take about 10 minutes to prepare, then an hour in the fridge to harden (you can wait that long, can’t you?) They also use inexpensive ingredients. If you want something to make for a bake sale, I’d heartily recommend these little deliciouses.

Ingredients: 

160ml condensed milk

15 digestive biscuits

15 marshmallows

15 glacé cherries (or Maltesers if you, like me, don’t like cherries)

A handful of desiccated coconut

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Method:

1. Crush the digestive biscuits. A clean, quiet way to do this is to tie them into in a freezer baggie and press on them with a heavy glass. Or you can use a food processor.

2. Mix the crushed biscuits and condensed milk together in a large bowl.

3. Halve the marshmallows and cherries (or Malteasers) and mix them in. Use your hands to roll it all into a big sausage.

4. Sprinkle a layer of coconut onto a sheet of tinfoil and roll the biscuity sausage in it until it’s covered in coconut. Roll it up in the tinfoil and place it into the fridge for an hour.

5. Unwrap it from the tinfoil and slice it into thick slices.

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Two Toys to Make for Babies

All my posts are now going to become baby-related…because I have one, and there is always something to do or make to entertain them. The creative possibilities are endless.

Right now my kid is staring fixedly at my fingers while I type (one-handed of course; everything is done with only one hand now), so it’s wonderfully easy to keep them entertained, and yet somehow it’s still possible to run out of ideas. This is probably due to our own grown-up demand for ever-varying entertainment: we feel that playing a game for ten minutes is more than enough and we need to search desperately for a new one.

At six months, my daughter’s favourite activities involve picking things up, staring at them, putting them in her mouth, taking them out, shaking them, and dropping them, in a never-ending cycle. Or at least, I can easily believe it would be never-ending if she didn’t get hungry or fall over occasionally. So I make use of this wonderful (and short) few weeks where she is able to sit but not crawl by putting her next to a basket full of things to pick up, shake, and chew on while I get a few things done around the house.

Oh, the glorious Treasure Basket!

Oh, the glorious Treasure Basket!

For 6-month-olds:

Her absolutely favourite toy at the moment is a contact-lens doodad with some beads in (and the lid glued shut). It’s the perfect size for her hand (while too big to be stuffed far into her mouth) and makes a great sound. Strangely enough, she never shakes actual rattles – they only ever get the chewing treatment – but this thing probably spends more time being shaken than being chewed. That is quite an achievement.
I’d suggest taking this away once the kid can crawl or walk: you don’t want it in their mouths when they trip or fall.

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For 2-month olds:

Another home-made thing that she loved when she was between 2 and 5 months is a tangle of ribbons. It’s just all the ribbons I had lying around, knotted together into a tangled mess. It’s easy for tiny babies to hold and light enough for them to flap around and put in their mouths (big knots are great for itchy gums). It can also just be thrown in the wash when it’s dripping with drool. Just remember to check that all knots are secure before each use.

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