Friday, December 21, 2012

C's Pearls of Wisdom w/e 21/12/12

We've had a couple of cracking good ones this week so lets get on with them.

Just having eaten her dinner:

"Everything's my favourite food in the whole world except the things I don't like"

Makes perfect sense to me!!!

After a bath, looking lovingly at @readitdaddy (thankfully not @thestrollingmum) she came out with

"My fingers are all wrinkly, just like you"

And after telling us she was to full to finish her plate but really wanted that yummy pudding

"I've got ten pieces of space left in my tummy"

Bit of a food theme above, lets see what she comes out with in the next week... will Santa be up to odd things.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stained Glass Window Biscuits

We've been wanting to try these for so long, but were always worried they would turn out disastrously and get ruined in the oven. We were all surprised to see how brilliant they were so we bagged them up and gave them to Charlotte's teachers as Christmas Presents.

To make Stained Glass Window Biscuits (makes about 20) you will need:

225g plain flour
1/2tsp ground mixed spice or ground ginger
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1tbsp milk
10 boiled sweets


Preheat oven to oven 180c, 350F, gas mark4

1. mix the flour, mixed spice and butter with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs
2. add the sugar and milk and kneed until combined.
3. wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 15mins
4. line a baking tray with baking parchment
5. roll dough out on a floured surface (we found thin shapes work better so about 4mm thick)
6. cut using shape cutters and place onto baking tray (larger shapes work better)
7. using the neck of a drinks bottle make a hole in the center of each shape (or with a knife cut triangles out of Christmas trees)
8. place sweets in a bag and crush a little with a rolling pin (we keep the sweets in their wrappers for this) then fill up the holes you have just made
9. we skipped this step but if you want to hang them from the tree use a skew to make a small hole at the top of each cookie
10. place in oven for 10-15 mins
11. when slightly golden remove from oven leave on baking tray until middles have set (about 5 mins) then place on rack to cool completely.
12. thread ribbon through holes and hand on tree.

Taken from the book christmas cakes, cookies and sweets by top that publishing.


(taken from the book Christmas Cooking by Top That! Publishing)

Friday, December 14, 2012

C's Pearls of Wisdom

We've already had one particularly cracking quote from C this week. But we were also recently reminded of another belter from a few weeks back as @thestrollingmum and C drove past a local landmark on the bus.

Passing the graveyard, C asked what it was...

"It's a Graveyard" said mum.

"Is that where they make gravy?" replied C.

The Alternative Christmas Carol - A guide

The Strolling Mum is not pleased. And when The Strolling Mum is not pleased about something, you'd better find the biggest concrete bunker to hide in, lock the door, batten down the hatches and stay low.

Singing "alternative" versions of Christmas Carols around your 4 and a half year old might seem amusing at the time, but 4 and a half is the age when children gleefully soak up all the things they're not supposed to regurgitate and repeat to other folk (teachers, elderly relatives prone to being shocked easily, vicars, the woman on the bus who thinks children should be unseen and not heard).

As a dad though, I feel it's my duty to make sure that alternative christmas carols live on just like their more traditional counterpart. So I give you a very short guide to a few of the classics.

To the tune of Jingle Bells:

"Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg

The Batmobile lost its wheel and the Joker ran away, hey!"

To the tune of We Three Kings you get two versions for the price of one:

"We Three Kings of Leicester Square
Selling Fancy Underwear
They're fantastic, no elastic
Why don't you try a pair?
Oh, star of wonder, star of light
Charlie caught his pants alight
He went screaming through the ceiling
Wasn't a very pretty sight!"

or the slightly cleaner...

"We Three Kings of Orient Are
One in a Taxi, one in a Car
One on a scooter honking his hooter
Following Yonder Star"

I'm sure you all know more (and probably far ruder) but please, if you comment below keep it clean :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Viewing your child's life through someone else's iPad

A generation of people will grow up thinking their child's face looks like this!
Some people think Apple hardware is aesthetically the most beautiful tech on the planet. They are always first in line whenever a new i-something is released, and their home is swiftly becoming a shrine to the late Mr Jobs. 

Small discreet Apple devices tucked about your person are fine and dandy with me. Hulking great big ten inch tablet PCs waved around at just about every public event, gig, or more importantly school function are not OK. Not OK at all. 

You see, an iPad (as shown above) is not as beautiful as seeing my daughter do her bit in her nativity play, yet this was the view we both had for most of the time as braying self-important parent (who queued up and probably slept outside the school overnight to ensure they were in the front row for the nativity) spent the entire time holding this up to record the entire thing, or to take snaps of it (watching someone using an iPad as a camera is hilarious in itself. The awkward wrist and arm bending to try and hit the shutter but keep the scene in focus and in frame is a comedy goldmine). 

Fantastic quality digital cameras are ridiculously cheap. Smartphone cameras are also getting better. And most video cameras available with full 1080p recording capabilities could probably be swallowed without the need for a glass of water to wash them down, they're so tiny. 

But you see I'm missing the point here. We all know why these idiots bring an iPad to any public event. So they can hold an iPad above their heads and say 'I am rich enough to own the most expensive tablet on the market and I'm proving it to you by shoving it in your face' (these were also the folk who used to walk around holding their mobile phones above their heads back in the day when they were expensive and huge, and not many people had one). 

Roll on the days when Samsung roll out their clear screen and backplate tech and these things become see-thru. As see-thru as the puffed up twerps who wield them like a mystical photographic marvel. 

(Edit, of course the back of the iPad was facing the unfortunate children performing the play, not us - but you can understand what we're talking about, I'm sure. Particularly if you went to any of the Olympic events over the summer)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding Pretty Christmas and Party Clothes

Charlotte is happy to run around everywhere in leggings and t-shirt  (most of the time) or a big warm jumper in cold weather. But now she is at school age we have been invited to a lot of school friends' birthday parties and it's embarrassing taking her along in scruffy clothes. We have a really limited number of pretty dresses as they normally get worn so few times (and rapidly get grown out of!).

So with Christmas coming and me thinking she can't wear the same dress as last year we headed to the shops. Charlotte is a rather fussy clothes shopper as she has a fear of buttons (oh the school uniform troubles we had in the first few weeks) so everything has to be checked. Even pretty tops with decorative buttons are thrown aside. What we finally ended up with was 2 outfits from M&S and both at a reasonable price. I don't want to spend a fortune on a dress that gets worn so few times, but I also don't want it to look cheap.

Hello Kitty!
Very Pretty!

The first item Charlotte picked out was a Hello Kitty top and skirt. This pic is slightly wrong as the tights are black not white. She loves this and was clutching it all round the store and couldn't wait to get home and try it on. Shes a skinny minnie so the skirt needs taking in a little but looks wonderful on her.

The second outfit we spotted in a purple colour but not in her size so opted for silver, and we selected sparkly red tights like in the pic to go with it. She looks lovely and can't wait for parties and Christmas to get all dressed up.

Pearls of Wisdom - a regular "Notes from the Toybox" feature

Not made of icky stuff, just sticky stuff!
Both of us have pretty awful memories, so when Charlotte comes out with absolute corkers, we wish we could remember them better. 

Today's particular pearl of wisdom was a cracker - on the subject of spider webs (after seeing all the wonderful frost-covered webs around where we live), Charlotte had this to say on what spiderwebs are made of.

"I think spider webs are made from spider's poo, wee and farts!"

We thought we'd make Charlotte's pearls of wisdom a bit of a regular feature so watch out for more.  

Competition Time! Or is it?

My wife, rather sensibly, won't use Facebook. I use it as a means of syndicating content around for ReadItDaddy and it's also a useful way to keep up with my distant siblings and friends, but I fully understand her stance. 

I mean, take the average Facebook competition. We see quite a few of these syndicated through parent blogging networks and also through various manufacturers of children's items, book publishers, even art sellers. 

The upshot is this. The competition organisers want as much information on you as possible to turn into marketing information, then sell on to third parties (even if you tick the box telling them not to, they seem to phrase these in such a way that they often read like "Please untick the tick box if you wish to not let us acknowledge that you'd like us to send you more information and also acknowledge to let us sell your details to third parties" rather than just having an option labelled "Stop pestering me, you fools!")

So we don't often enter them. Some parents do and some parents show a dogged persistence in jumping through all the little hoops and avoiding all the little traps set for them by the competition organisers to ensure that they become the perfectly marketed mouse chasing through the corporate maze. 

Some of the pinterest-based competitions run by companies seem to suggest that the majority of parent bloggers have nothing to do all day except wander around like zombies, instagramming the living crap out of their surroundings in the vain hope that their photographic tableaux will somehow catch the eye of a marketing rep and win them a fantastic prize (usually something that really isn't worth the time and effort given up to complete the assigned task, where you could probably earn the money to pay for the prize on offer by working in your local chip shop part time for a couple of days). 

We (I mean you) only have ourselves (yourselves) to blame. We are so in love with our new connected world and our social networks and big business knows this, and will use every trick in the book to ensure that you pump up their social networking status and unwittingly spread the word about their products. It's the equivalent of wearing a T Shirt with a Tesco logo on one side and Marks and Spencers logo on the other. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The dreaded 'vegetarian' christmas will not come to pass...

It's that most wonderful time of the year where everyone starts talking about the best way to make their bird moist (!) and as usual, we vegetarians get bad press for being all "bah humbug" about the sheer lack of imagination when it comes to christmas dinner menus or options for christmas.

So we'll probably be doing what we usually do, opting for something veggie en croute (usually lentils, vegetables and a good strong stock with some puff pastry to top it off).

Over in the states, the above thing actually exists. The Tofurky. A 'mock turkey' roll that usually has stuffing in it, is boiled in a sort of vacuum packed 'skin' and probably tastes exactly how it looks. We tried the Quorn version of this a few years back in total frustration at not finding anything better, and it did not go well. It was like eating gently cooked polystyrene.

We can, of course, go completely mad with the roast vegetables and sides (though last year the attempt to make the sacred 'pigs in blankets' au veggie was pretty disastrous, bacon flavoured wood = not good).

It's such a shame I can't eat meat (for allergy reasons) and The Strolling Mum just plain doesn't like it and has been vegetarian since her teens. Charlotte, however, will be wolfing down turkey like it's going out of fashion, lucky girl!

So what do other veggies out there do? Any recipe suggestions most gratefully accepted!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charlotte's Christmas Nativity 2012

The parents gathered in anticipation for the school nativity play (they must've been camping out overnight as by the time we got there, on time - just - the place was CRAMMED!) so we squeezed in at the back and could barely see a thing.

But what a show!!! Lots of songs, lengthy lines and utterly fantastic costumes in a very funny nativity show. Kids ranging in age from just barely 3 to 6 and 7 year olds really did a fantastic job and Charlotte played an angel (how appropriate!)

More pictures below.

Point at the star! No, not at my nose!
Who's that taking a photo? Tsk, paparazzi!
The Barefoot Angel
Glad that's all over! Wasn't I great?

Welcome to Notes from the Toy Box

A parenting blog with a difference? How often have you heard that? How often have you clicked on a link and discovered another blog about how someone sold their integrity as a blogger for some free lunchbox drinks or some nappy bin air fresheners?

Not this time. We (that is me, ReadItDaddy and my lovely wife The Strolling Mum and of course our little pocket troublemaker Charlotte) collaborating on a parenting blog that aims to round up our experience as parents, and all the ups and downs of parenting.