28 Jul 2014

Summer at the Imperial War Museum North

The Imperial War Museum (IWM) North is a remarkable institution located on the Salford Quayside, just a stone's throw away from the city of Manchester. The IWM North is remarkable not just beacause it is a stunning piece of architecture but as it plays host to some fascinating war memorabilia. In a year that marks the centenary of the start of the First World War, the IWM North has organised a series of exhibitions and activities for all the family to take part in this summer.

J and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the family preview session at the IWM North. And I must say, I have never seen a 3-year old this animated in a museum before! That we spent the better part of an entire day there says it all.

25 Jul 2014

Almond and Pistachio Kulfi Ice Lollies


I remember eating kulfi during the summer holidays growing up. My Aai (Mother) used to make the most amazing kulfi ever. Kulfi, by the way, is a milk-based ice-lolly, extremely popular in India and the sub-continent. It is traditionally made by slowly evaporating sweetened and flavoured milk, which is subsequently cooled and frozen.

I want my little boy J to grow up with a diverse and multi-cultural palate. And to enjoy his Aaji's (Grandma's) recipes which I try and recreate.

So when Center Parcs challenged us bloggers to get into the spirit of summer by creating delicious ice lollies, I contemplated making traditional kulfi. But it is quite calorific and rather dense. And although it goes down a treat in an Indian summer, I prefer something a little lighter in the scorching heat of the British summer. (Never in a million years did I dream I would be writing that. But, hey ho! The present heat-wave is making it feel more like Mumbai than Manchester).

23 Jul 2014

Moshi Monsters at Sea Life Manchester

The Moshi Monsters have splashed down at Sea Life Manchester this summer. So J and I went along to pay them a visit and join the Moshi Marine Force to learn more about our underwater world and to help in the search for the missing Moshlings.

This was our first visit to Sea Life Manchester, so we were both looking forward to it with excitement. Sea Life is part of the Trafford Centre, so is very convenient to get to and has enough parking spaces to accommodate half of Manchester on a good day.
Wondrous amazement at Sea Life Manchester

20 Jul 2014

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer

Summer. When the sun shines bright and strong. When hot days merge into long, sunny evenings. Summer, a time to shake off the lingering shackles of a long-forgotten winter. To revive, to rejuvenate and to reconnect as a family. To step outdoors and bond over a picnic in the park. Or a barbecue. Or a beach holiday. And to gel together as a family unit in the pursuit of some serious physical activity. To partake in the sweat, the exhilaration, the rush of adrenaline that only it can bring.

We are a small family of three, the little one is only just starting out at school. That does not dampen the fierce competitive streak in any of us. Nor are we lacking in enthusiasm when it comes to some fun in the sun. Here are five ways we love to stay active through the warm summer months.

Cycle
J was got a balance bike last Christmas. And a little helmet to keep him safe. There has been no stopping him since. He loves zooming along on his little red and yellow bike, taking long, confident strides as he covers large distances with ease. We have reached the stage where the parents are contemplating following him on their own bikes rather than jogging alongside him.

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer

Swim

There can be no better way to stay active in the hot summer months than a splash in the pool. I love a good swim, always have. I am glad that my son does as well. We often head to our local swimming baths for a family fun session where the parents take turns to swim laps, while the little one hones his technique with the help of a float or two.

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer

Climb

Our J loves to climb. So much, that I have dedicated an entire blogpost to this passion of his. Suffice to say he can now confidently hover more than 8 feet above the ground with his parents standing by for support. Now the parents have not actually attempted a similar climb themselves, not for lack of enthusiasm or motivation. But most local parks do tend to frown upon grown-ups hogging climbing frames and other apparatus to satisfy their own climbing craving. Perhaps a stint at Go Ape might be the perfect solution to this problem. We can all have a go at scampering up ropes and ladders together as a family.

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer

Ramble

All of us in the C-household enjoy going on a ramble. That might be pretty obvious from the title of my blog, or the reason I started blogging, but just in case there was any doubt left, I reiterate. We all love to go for long walks. Preferably in the country, if not any old path will do.

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer

Play

M, J and I love to play together in the garden. With a ball, with a frisbee, with bubbles, with water, or with nothing at all. There are times when we kick a ball. Or throw it high up in the air and then try and catch it. Or shoot it through a hoop. We even hit it with a racket or a bat if we can.

But then there are times when J likes nothing better than to run around the garden like a headless chicken, his parents running with him to try and catch him. The delightful squeals and the accompanying laughter are  music to my ears. 

5 Ways to Stay Active in the Summer
Summer. A season when the warm sun dominates. When sport takes centre-stage. When a family delights in the outdoors. And in the exhilaration that being active can bring.


This is my entry to the Mark Warner Blogger Challenge number 2 in association with Go Ape.
Mark Warner Blogger Challenge    LLA


14 Jul 2014

VegfestUK London 2014 Tickets Giveaway

I love vegetarian food. Coming from a vegetarian family, that comes as no surprise. Contrary to popular belief, there is more to vegetarian food than eating raw fruit and veg. And we really do not struggle to meet our protein intake either. It is all a matter of personal preference and taste.

Vegfest UK represents all things vegetarian and is home to Europe's biggest veggie events.
copyright Vegfest UK
Following a highly successful first show visited by 9,000 people, VegfestUK are returning to Kensington Olympia for the 2nd year running on September 27th and 28th 2014. 

The show has lots of treats in store for its visitors. There will be 200+ stalls full of top-notch food, bodycare, cosmetics and fashion. Many celebrities and special guests, including Brendan Brazier, Patrik Baboumian, Sarah Jane Honeywell, Vegan Smythe and John Robb are lined up to make an appearance. 14 specialist caterers with exceptional global cuisines are set to make their mark as well. There will be a host of book signings, cookery demos, nutrition and lifestyle talks and freebies for early visitors on both days. You will also get the opportunity of 1-to-1 sessions with experts. 

If that was not enough, there is the added bonus of live music and comedy along with kids entertainment throughout the course of the event.
copyright Vegfest UK
Here is your chance to win yourself a pair of tickets to visit Vegfest UK London on Sunday the 28th September 2014. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


In case you are looking for more than a pair, Vegfest UK are running a BOGOF (buy one get one free) offer on tickets to their London event till August 23rd. Under 16s go free. 

Disclaimer: I was given a hamper of vegetarian goodies to host this competition on behalf of Vegfest UK. No other compensation was received.

Spicy Potato Pasties

I love fusion cooking. A bit of east meets west, and everyone is a winner. My spicy potato pasties are just that. Masala aloo (spicy potato) in a puff pastry case. The best of both worlds in a very edible combination.
Spicy Potato Pasties

11 Jul 2014

#HeinzPastaQuotes Challenge

J was being read to even before he was born. Little wonder then, that the child has taken to books like a fish to water. He loves being read to. And is now the age where although he cannot actually read (he is only 3), can make up a story to narrate to his stuffed animals who sit in rapt attention while he thumps through page after page of first one and then another book.

So how do we pick one favourite line from one favourite book? That was the dilemma facing us when we decided to take up the #HeinzPastaQuotes challenge.

In the end, we settled for the one line that  invariably gives me goose bumps each time I read it to him. The concluding line from the storybook 'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney.

'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney #HeinzPastaQuotes
Call me a sentimental fool, but what parent can get through, "I love you right up to the moon - and back," without a lump forming in their throat?

'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney #HeinzPastaQuotes
At a time when bedtimes are starting with a cuddle and a,  "I love you loads, Aai (Mother)," this line is ever so significant.

Even more so because the book was a birthday present when J turned one and has been a part of our lives ever since.

And so, with a little help from J and lots of help from Heinz Alphabetti, we spaghettied down this beautiful quote from a well-loved book.
'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney #HeinzPastaQuotes
And then we did what we do best. J tucked into some delicious Alphabetti while I read aloud to him. "I love you right up to the moon - and back." And as always, I meant it.

'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney #HeinzPastaQuotes
This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Heinz competition to support Children’s Book Week.

9 Jul 2014

The Day Football Died


A clash of the titans
Glory beckoning,
The game's greatest theatre
A day of reckoning.

A captain sidelined
One foul too many,
A broken back
A star in agony.

The team, a ghost 
of its former self
Bewildered, lost, 
almost defenceless.

The clinical German
juggernaut advances
Ruthless, precise, 
taking no chances.

The hosts in the shadow 
of their illustrious predecessors
Shambolic, disorganised, 
their dreams in tatters.

A crushing defeat, 
bitter humiliation
Tears, jeers and 
cries of frustration.

Was it the pressure 
of great expectation
That caused the demise 
of this mighty sporting nation?

Brazil crumbled, 
Crushed, fell apart
The weight of history
Perhaps played a part.

The lasting memory
Of a nation denied
7-1 read the score line
The day football died.

This poem was written after witnessing Brazil crumbling against Germany in the semi-finals of the Football World Cup 2014. Brazil lost 1-7.

Prose for Thought

8 Jul 2014

5 Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day

Bonding With Your Toddler on a Rainy Day

Playing outdoors with your toddler is fabulous fun. But what do you do on a rainy day when you have a highly energetic, inquisitive toddler to contend with? The easiest option might be to wrap up warm, put some wellies on and go jump in puddles. Not every parent wants to do this. Not all the time.

There are times when you prefer to stay indoors, stay warm and cosy inside the comfort of your own home when it is pouring with rain outside. But your little one has other ideas. They cannot see the wisdom of staying indoors, they cannot see the comfort a hot cup of tea can bring. All they want is to expend some energy and have some fun. What then? You need something to keep them happy, entertained, interested and occupied.

Rainy days need not be a complete washout. Here are 5 favourite activities that I love and enjoy doing with my toddler. Easy, fun and great to do together.


Bake

Top 5 Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day - Bake

Bake with your little tot. Start by making some banana muffins. They are very easy, lots of fun, and a delicious way to get your child to eat bananas. Ripe bananas are perfect for little hands to mash.

Improvise by adding some dried fruit like raisins and walnuts. Or chocolate chips for the occasional sweet treat. I make mine with a dollop of Nutella.


Read Aloud

Top 5 Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day - Read Aloud
The easiest thing to do when you are stuck for ideas is to read a book together. It does not need any special preparation (so long as you have a couple of favourites lying around). You can enjoy it any time, any day, any place.

The rewards are multi-fold. You are not only helping your tot build their language skills, it is a fabulous way to build some wonderful early memories.

I find it most enriching to read aloud to my son.


Bricks and Jigsaws

                                                        Top 5 Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day - Jigsaws 

Bricks are a fantastic way for little minds to get creative. At 3 years old, we do not follow any instruction sheets; we just build as we please. No two play sessions are ever similar, for there is always a different way to place the bricks. We have spent many an hour building huge towers, only to topple them and start all over again.

I have learnt a lot about lateral thinking from my boy who does not hesitate to mix Duplo and Mega Bloks together to create architectural marvels. And then places half his car collection in the mix!

We also adore doing jigsaw puzzles. The intense focus and effort with which little hands piece them together is fascinating. Again, there is no convention to doing jigsaws when you are 3. Favourite bits get put together first, and the rest is just built around it.

Start with 2-piece puzzles, and then gradually progress to the larger ones. Make sure you pick some with bright colours and favourite characters, as these will help build interest and then sustain it.


Squiggling

Top 5 Toddler Activities for a Rainy Day - Squiggling
My son likes nothing better than to scribble on any scrap of paper he can lay his hands on. It could be with a pen, a pencil, a crayon or anything else that can leave a mark! It is a non-messy alternative to using finger paint, and the results are just as exciting.

Just make sure the crayons or pens you use are washable, for some of them will find their way to the floor and walls when you are not looking.


Rough and Tumble


When it comes to dissipating some toddler energy, there is nothing better than some rough and tumble. It is definitely a better option than having them run around like headless chicken! And therapeutic for you as well. The squeals of laughter and giggles that ensue will have you in a fit of giggles too.

We always have our rough-housing sessions on a thick rug in the middle of the room with all other toys safely out of the way. Just to make sure there are no bumps and scratches to end it all in tears. Even a few minutes of boisterous wrestling are enough to cheer everyone up. And a great alternative when outdoor play is just not possible.


These are a few of our favourite things to do on a rainy day. What is your favourite rainy day activity?

4 Jul 2014

Rambling Through Parenthood - A Year On

It is exactly a year ago today that I revived my dormant and virtually non-existent rambler's blog and relaunched it in its present avatar. I had decided to be a stay-at-home mother for reasons of the heart. What I had not allowanced for was the solitude it can bring. Enough to cast a shadow of self-doubt on your ability as a parent.

Whoever said parenting was easy had no idea what they were talking about. The joys of looking after a little person so utterly dependent on you are manifold. The associated responsibilities are prodigious. It does not help that the little person you are looking after is a demanding, vocal yet non-verbal being prone to sleeplessness and with a need to be in your presence every waking minute of every day. And night. Especially night.

Could I Live Without a TV?

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
TV.
TV who?
TV or not TV, that is the question!

And that just about sums up the dilemma about whether or not I can lead a television-free existence.

Or any screen-free for that matter. Laptops, mobile phones, computers, televisions, they are all the bane of my existence at the moment. It does not help that as a blogger, I find myself strangely drawn to these diabolical contraptions.

I could perhaps survive the demise of the television screen. But that may be because I am staring at my mobile instead. Or cheating by watching my favourite shows on my computer. The only way I could resist the temptation of the idiot box and its cronies is by retreating to the Himalayas. Hang on a minute, haven't they just gone and fixed up a high speed connection on the top of Mount Everest?

My only hope is to sign up for hypnotherapy to wean me off my addiction.

mumturnedmom

2 Jul 2014

Win a Staycation in The Lake District

The poet laureate William Wordsworth found his inspiration here. So if you are looking to be inspired or just want to get away from it all and rediscover yourself, there is no place like The Lake District. Or 'The Lakes' as this picturesque area in the north west of England is fondly known.

The Lake District
There was a time when we were actually living in the Lake District. Even after we moved home, the lure of The Lakes was too much to resist. We kept returning to wander the fells, to walk by the lakes, to breathe in the tranquil air. And to make beautiful memories. Memories of walking along the shore of Ullswater, daffodils carpeted at our feet. Of climbing the Lion and the Lamb in Grasmere to be rewarded by the most breathtaking view. Of visiting the extraordinarily atmospheric Wastwater, home to the deepest lake, the tallest mountain and the smallest church in all of England.

7 Tips to Hosting a Frugal Children's Birthday Party

J has just turned 3 and we celebrated by hosting a birthday party for him. This was his first proper birthday party; he was too little to understand what was going on when he turned 1. And he was rather unwell when he turned 2 so had to do without a birthday party.

We decided to buck the trend and host his party at home. I am not one to yield to peer pressure, never have been. So while lots of parents go about spending ludicrous amounts of money on their child's birthday party, I decided to do it my way. Frugally, but at no point compromising on the fun factor.

Here are my top 7 tried and tested tips to hosting a fantastic and fun-filled children's birthday party without having to break the bank.

I say tried and tested, because every guest that left our home at the end of J's third birthday party had only one thing to say, "Best party ever!" I am not even talking about the grown-ups.

1) There is no place like home! 
Why spend a fortune on the party venue when you can get an excellent one for free? Try hosting your party in the comfort of your own home. And if the sun is shining, in your garden if you have one. Okay, so there will be a big mess to clear up at the end of the day, but you would have saved yourself a bundle in the process. 

2) Make your own decorations

A string of paper flowers or a few paper lanterns dotted around the place can transform any venue to host a party. Try making some bunting and festoon it with balloons. You can even craft your own party invitations. Making your own decorations is a great way to get the whole family involved with the preparations and it will save you money.

7 tips to hosting a frugal children's birthday party
 3) DIY food
If you are a good baker, go ahead and bake the birthday cake yourself. Cupcakes are easier to decorate and kids love them. So a great alternative if you do not feel very confident about baking and decorating a big cake.

The same goes for all the party food as well. It is one thing to place an order for the birthday buffet, it is quite another to plan the menu and make most of it from scratch. A very satisfying experience in my opinion.

7 tips to hosting a frugal children's birthday party

4) The power of the pound and charity shop

These are two of my absolute favourites when it comes to hunting for a bargain. They are great places to buy bits and pieces that you will need for your party. I always pick up disposable crockery, cutlery and napkins from the pound shop. Charity shops are like Aladdin's cave. Keep looking hard enough, and there is always a good bargain to be had. The odd serving platter or a pair of china bowls, stock up through the year and use them when the time comes.


5) Choose a theme

Themed birthday parties are all the rage at the moment, with parents spending a small fortune on everything from pottery painting to soft play to swimming. You don't have to go bankrupt to host a themed birthday party for your children. Pick a theme you can deal with in the comfort of your own home. Try a paddling pool party, a finger painting party or a bubble blowing party. Perhaps a jewelery-making or fancy dress party for the older ones. All great fun, yet cheap and easy to put together.


6) Budget for return gifts
Decide how much you can afford and are willing to spend on party bags for your invitees. Rather than spend money on a lot of useless, cheap plastic toys, put some thought into it and pick a couple of substantial pieces in keeping with the theme of your party. 

7) Be brave

The one thing that will stop you in your frugal party hosting tracks is peer pressure. Not just on your children, but also on you. School-gate chatter and playground politics has a huge impact on how we function as parents. On what choices we make for our children. Be brave. Try not to yield to that pressure. More money spent does not equate to more fun. You can do so much on a small budget if you put your heart into it. You will be saving money. You will also be teaching your children an important life-lesson. 

These are my top tips to hosting a children's birthday party without the need to burn a hole in your pocket. Give it a try. Your guests will thank you for the relaxed atmosphere and the unstructured merriment. 

Do you spend a lot on your children's parties? How do you budget for them?

Subscribe to My Blog by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner