How to give your toddler water play in the winter months.

If there is one thing all parents can agree on, it’s that children love water, the love to drink it, pour it, lay in it and just about cover everything in it. Child development research shows that water play has essential benefits in child brain development.

Yes it can be messy, wet, and a pain to clean, but it is also a calming and enjoyable exercise for little people. Water play helps in the development of hand-eye coordination, learning to lift, pour. Whilst, they don’t really care about it right now, it sets the foundation for early mathematics and some science concepts, such as differentiating between heavy and light items, those that will sink and those that will float. Water play also allows toddlers to develop concentration and focus as well as some problem solving skills.

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In the summer months and living in countries with warmer climates, this can be easily achieved by allowing little ones outside with a bucket, visiting paddle pools, water fountains, and so on. Water play during the winter months can be challenging until you step outside the box. Bring it indoors, make it simple, make it safe, make it fun.

Here is a simple and easy way too bring water play to your toddler during the winter, when you are sharing each others’ company indoors.

You will need the following:

1. Time, lots of it. This kind of play is a free range play that does not need to be rushed

2. 3-6 items (toddler hand size) that sink and float

3. A stool about 8-10 inches high. No higher or you might find them in the sink. Step stool will also cause them to climb in the sink, so only use them with constant supervision.

4. 2 medium towels

5. bath room sink

6. water

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Monterssori set up

1. Take your toddler with you to collect all items needed. Make sure to let them carry some light things, and have a designated stop where they are to be place. Make sure to say the name of each item being used as well.

2. Work together to set up towels. Ask your toddler to help you place the towel on the floor by showing her which end to hold. Allow room for error.

3. Next have your toddler carry stool from designated spot and place on top of towel in front of sink. Work together to cover stool with second towel.

4.  Next fill sink with warm water.

5. Ask toddler to carry water play items to sink and place next to stool. Once task is complete, allow toddler to place items into sink on his own.

6. Give some space and let them work and have fun. Best to leave them till no longer want to play.

7. Pack away using prep step but in reverse!

More detailed video coming soon…

Not into Montessori? Use these steps

Prep: place 1 towel on the floor where the activity will take place, in front of the sink. Next place stool on top, and cover the stool with second towel. Next clean sink and fill with warm water. Remember there might be some drinking of the water so make sure to keep everything clean. Next place water play items in sink and let your little one loose.

Alternative set up

Don’t have a sink, or your sink is too high? Don’t worry you can follow any of the above steps with the following changes

1. Use a large camping basin.

2. Place on coffee table. For set up see step 2&3 of the monterssori set up

3. continue all other steps

4. stay close and keep a watchful eye, with water below your toddler head, you want to make sure they do not try to put their face in it. Safety first

5. Have fun

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Pumpkin & Pistachio Risotto

Well, that’s different, but a gal’s got to eat. It looked totally amazing on the plate. Creamy and garnished, it looks ready to eat.  Fluffing a portion of round white rice with spots of purple green, you wonder if this idea, which perhaps was fulfilled in hast might have been a not so good idea. After all who cooks pistachios with rice. Ice cream, yes! Salted, yes. You had to take it a little further. As you stem through your other dinner options, the folk hits your mouth, and there it is. the subtleness of the truffle oil hits you first, musky and strong, but not over powering. As you continue to chew, the creaminess of the pistachio wakes your pallet. Yum. The sweetness of the butternut resets your tastebuds to begin the experience all over again!

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With a change in my diet, as a non lactose vegetarian, with food intolerances I had to find ways to increase my protein, calcium and other nutrients while still enjoying food, because well I love food. This risotto gave me the whole food experience without the addition of the processed substitutions.  It really was bliss.

 

Butternut is rich in beta carotene which converts to vitamin A to help you keep your immune system healthy and strong. With cold season on its way, getting as much high carotene foods in will help you fight illnesses better and recover alot faster.

The pistachios. Well, who knew these tiny purple and green nuts had this  much power! Another food not given enough credit. IT is from the cashew family, but it is able to provide so much more. Packed with protein, lutein, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc,  Studies have also shown that they help to lower LDL so if you have a cholesterol risk, start eating. You will be putting these where ever you can!

Finally Thyme,  wonderful for the upper respiratory system, especially with coughs and infected tonsil. So when paired with the richness of butternut and superfood of pistachio. You should be feeling a mountain of health in no time.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

half butternut pumpkin

3/4  risotto rice

1/2 red onion

1 cup shelled pistachio unsalted

2 cups vegetarian stock

3 cups filtered water

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil

stick of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

watercress for garnish or more for nutritional benefits

 

 

Prep:

peel and chop butternut pumpkin in to nice small squares or just small abstract pieces. The smaller pieces allow for quicker cooking time.  Next chop onions and place in frying pan with pumpkin. Remember frying pan not pot. Add olive and turn stove to low heat. Cook pumpkin and onions for 7mins to 10mins.

Next rinse rice till water is clear. Drain and add to pumpkin and onions. Add thyme. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes, to prevent stick and burning. Add stock and 1 cup of water. leave to simmer. Stir occasionally, remember you are cooking in a frying pan so water will evaporate faster. Add 2 cups of water to pan once water evaporates and leave to simmer. Stir ever 5 minutes until rice is soft.

Put pistachio in food processor with last 1 cup of water and blend smoother with small chunks. Stir through rich and leave to cook for 2 minutes. Stir through 1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil. Add salt to taste. Garnish and enjoy!

 

This weeks hairstyle – mini clusters

Save yourself from single strand knots, dry hair and tangles this week, whiles looking pretty awesome. With my hair shoulder length now, things are starting to get a bit challenging. This is my take a break hair, and it’s protective too. So whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly or just plan mine, you can rock this look.

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Organic solution

It arrived. The rubber tubs grey and low, easy to hold. Two of them, filled with fresh, vegetables the shine as bright as the rainbow.  Smiling I remember how much I look forward to my weekly deliveries knowing that I no longer have the worry of wondering. Wondering if my organic is safe to eat. Wondering where it came from and what it contains.

It wasn’t long ago that I had the worlds biggest rant after finding out that the USDA had approved a list of pesticides deemed safe for organic farming. Yes, that pretty much did it for me. I spoke to a few of  local grocers and Trader Joes, who could not guarantee all their foods were grown without the use of any  pesticide nor could they guarantee my food GMO free. “But ” you say ” Organic is  GMO free ” . That’s right, but there is a catch. While the seeds planted is non GMO, Some major organic growers cannot vouch for the complete absence of GMO contamination due to some wind draft etc.  It was time to wake up and find local growers that were still true to the organic growing practices  craved so much.

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The Coop

I have used food coops for the past 7yrs, as a means of getting discounts on my organic bulk foods mainly, and due to their sustainable practices. I would say over the last 2 years, I have not been as committed to them as my main source of food as I got lazy and time got the better of me. While I still purchased organic foods, I found going to my nearest grocer more sustainable and convenient .

Food Cooperatives are what you would refer to as consumers cooperatives. What that means is that it is owned by the consumers and managed in a democratic manner, by meeting and fulfilling the needs of all it’s members.  As a member of a food cooperative, you are a shareholder in the organisation and the best part, your opinions and concerns count. All food coops follow Rochdales’ Principals: Voluntary and open memberships, anti discrimination, motivation and rewards, autonomy and independence, democratic member control, concern for the community, provide information eduction and training, and finally cooperation of cooperatives with themselves.

With these values, it makes things a little easier knowing that when you pick something off the shelf or purchase fresh foods  that each item has been scrutinized and chosen with all your concerns in mind.  (see link to all food cooperatives inside and outside the USA  at end of this article)

The organic box deliveries

Local deliveries of organic produce to your door direct from local organic farmers. Now they are fantastic, they usually only supply fresh local grown but will also seek foods from other states when needed. Unlike the cooperatives, non perishable goods are rarely available, but this too can vary from country to country, so it is best to check with them. Making a decision on who to choose can be very tricky. Not all organic box suppliers follow the same policies as food coops, but many come close.  The idea is that they develop a first hand relationship with local farmers and provide on seasonal foods as they are available, whiles keeping the prices low. Some have boxes to choose from, whiles others allow individual purchases. Substitutions are allowed making life a little easier if you are not the eggplant type and would prefer more carrots in your box. Either way, it is a cheaper, easier and trustworthy alternative to the shopping cart or pick your own.

When choosing which company to go with, a good start is a phone call. Asking questions with your concerns. You can also have a look at their sites which often list their farmers whom you can call directly and speak with. This creates a direct relationship between you and your local farmers. A wonderful way to build trust.

With no contracts, you can book yourself your first box which can be delivered directly to your door or at a drop spot near you.

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Eating partially organic  

So being realistic, not everyone can do the coop or a box delivery after all or at least for now. Getting to your weekly farmers market or using a CSA  is also an alternative. You still get to know your farmers, you know what you are getting, you buy from who you feel most comfortable with and those closest to your way of thinking.

Aiming GMO free – look for the orange butterly.

I’ll make this quick. Trying to stay GMO free is harder than one might think, even with labeling. At current the main GMO plant products are wheat, sougham, corn, soybean, cottonseed and canola.  The only way to stay 100% free of GMO foods is to never eat out in your life again. A little dramatic I know.

If you are lucky enough to live outside of the United States where most foods containing GMO ingredients are labelled, than you need not worry about this, however, for those of us that call the US our home, there are options. Get to know the NON GMO project. Look for the orange butterfly. Yes, this non profit is your go to for all brands verified GMO free or in the process of verification. This way you can guarantee that you are getting clean food. Most brands do not use their labels on the shelf at your local supermarket so utilizing this site is a good way to reach for your brand that is safe of GMO products guarantee.  (see link to NON GMO project at end of this article)

As I unpack my boxes of lush greens and vibrant fruit, I feel a sense of ownership in my informed decision to keep free and clean.  Knowing that in the next 5 years things may change yet again and I will be forced to re evaluate and make new decisions on what we eat, but until than shareholding is for me.

 

Links

Food Co op Directory (world wide) – http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm

NON GMO project – http://www.nongmoproject.org/

National Cooperative Grocer Association -https://www.ncga.coop/

Smoothie of the week – Melon berry bliss!

Yum!  A burst of citrus, that leaves a sweet mellow taste on the tip of your tongue. Cooling,  and my the aroma that hangs at the back of your tongue. Oh, yes the apricots. That’s what that is. Every soo subtle, that it’s gone before you realise what just happened to your mouth. The water melon lingers as a reminder that something exciting just happened to your mouth as it makes it’s way to your stomach. You reach over for another taste of bliss.

IMG_3624Having a fruit smoothie during your day is such a wonderful way to get your body refreshed and filled with an abundance of anti oxidants, nutrients and fibre. It’s easy to do and you can drink it on the run. And lets face it, It’s a wonderful way to get more fruit in you than you could chew in a single day! So get to it!

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You will need the following:

2 cups of chopped watermelon – high in lycopene , which is important for prostate health. Keep in mind, it is high on the glycemic index and should be eaten with other foods that will help low the glucose effect

1 fresh apricot– High in Vitamin A as well as potassium

1 peeled orange with with the pericarp still attached – contains Vitamin, flavanoids and calcium

7 medium strawberries –  high in Vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

1 plum

1 cup of blueberries -high in lutein, potassium. Vitamin A & Vitamin K. Lutein has been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts. It also can turn the skin bronze. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Be aware K can interfere with blood thinning medication. It is however a good way of getting Vitamin k into breastfeeding mothers, and pregnant women with low platelet counts

BLEND EVERYTHING TOGETHER TILL SMOOTH – IE AND ENJOY!

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Getting through the school summer holidays one project at a time

The northern hemisphere gave us a mild winter this year,  which made  school runs all the more bearable. Juggling two children between school, naps and extra activities ment I spend most of my life in the car. As my hushand calls it, my second home, and bigger handbag. Yes, I really do spend that many hours driving around, which I can say is not doing my environment any good. So you can imagine how excited I got as the summer approached, knowing that I would get at little break form a least one run of the day.

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Well summer is here, and 1 week into the school holidays, reality has began to set in. Yes, I no longer have to do the daily drives and pick ups while trying to coordinate mr 10mths nap and gentle transfer into his car seat hoping he stays asleep for the quick drive to school and back. No, that is no longer something I have to worry about. What I have now is school holidays. Hours that need to be filled with entertainment, projects and lots of talk for the next 3 months before school starts again.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I enjoy spending time with them, but as a work from home, stay home mum, with a no TV policy for young minds, this means keeping two little ones busy from 7am-7pm, with very little time to get any of my work done. So It’s been a week which has felt like a month, we have relaxed, free ranged, de stressed from the routine of regular school, and now we are ready to conquer the summer. To keep you busy this week, you can have a go at the paint project. We love to paint. This is fantastic for ages 9 months – adult! Make sure that you stay next to your infants and toddlers as non toxic does not meant its ok to eat. And we know how much they like to eat EVERYTHING! this project was designed to keep both my children busy at the same time, but also help them work on their hand eye coordination, and concentration.

Soo here are the list of things we used 

  • non toxic paints ( red, yellow, blue, white) is all you will need as you can make secondary colours from them
  • non toxic fabric paint
  • paint brushers
  • rolls of paper
  • Plain tee from goodwill
  • Old news paper
  • paint rollers
  • bowl of warm soapy water
  • old rag tea towel

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For 9months and up

  • start by placing old news paper on table. Dinning tables are good as you can set infants in high chair to work.
  • Mix paint for additional colours, you can put paint in the cups of egg carton ( a tip I learnt form the Wilson family) or place them in plastic paint cups, or compostable paper plates.
  • cut a large amount of paper from roll. Tape paper to news paper
  • Secure infant in high chair close to table and let them go wild

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For 4 yrs and up

  • on same table at least an arm reach and half away from any other arms, mix fabric paint. Place on paper plate
  • Place folded news paper inside T shirt
  • place roller in white paint first, roll excess paint off on news paper and roll over tee shirt. Continue the same steps till you have cover the area you wish to paint
  • Next wash roller in warm soapy water and dry with rag cloth.
  • Next choose another colour till you have completed your art.
  • Place aside to dry.
  • once paint is dried, tee is ready to wear.
  • Wash like normal.

Have fun with it and tag me in your FB and Instgram pics of your end results!