All About Me

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All About Me

All About Me – I’m talking about the new Eureka exhibition. (Phew. In this self-obsessed, blog-tastic climate did you think I’d be talking all about me? Yeah, probably.)

Several months ago I was on the focus group for All About Me, an exhibition about the human body at Eureka Children’s Museum in Halifax.

Wherever you are in the country, Eureka is well worth a visit, as the museum is completely geared up for children of all ages. And even though I had some insight into the planning of All About Me, I was still blown away by the creativity of the innovative exhibits.

I’m going to let the pictures tell the story, but even then they won’t do the place justice. If you haven’t been before, just go, take your little ones. They will love you for it.

For more info on events and directions, visit https://www.eureka.org.uk/

For more pics of the new exhibition, see my pinterest site:

http://pinterest.com/catwomanga/best-of-yorkshire-eureka-childrens-museum/

On the Subs Bench: Bread, Coffee, Milk and Sugar

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I recommended a great book a while back, called the Hormone Diet by Dr Natasha Turner. It covered a whole range of hormone-related issues, from thyroid problems to peri-menopause.

Dr Turner said that cutting down on cows’ milk, wheat and gluten in bread, can help a whole heap of hormone problems, make you feel less sluggish, sleep better and generally add to your wellbeing.  In fact, everyone can benefit, not just those with coeliac disease or allergies. Giving up bread and milk can help reduce inflammation in the gut.  The French have a horrible saying: ‘Death begins in the colon.’ I wouldn’t go that far, but you can certainly slow down the ageing process from the inside out.  Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow et al are currently advocating anti-inflammatory diets; go google it. But not just yet.

Give up bread and milk, you say? The staples of a British diet? Not as hard as you think. There are plenty of good substitutes available in supermarkets; sheep or goats’ milk can take some getting used to, but the St Helen’s range of goats milk products taste less ‘goaty’ than you’d expect. Still not convinced? Try milk made from oats, coconuts,  soy, almonds or rice. Buy a selection of milks and mix them up until you find a taste to suit you. If you still can’t face that, try Lactofree, which is cow’s milk with the lactose removed. Worth trying, and better than nothing.

Here is an anti-inflammatory smoothie which makes me feel great straight away:

1 banana

Half a pint of Koko coconut milk

I teaspoon coconut oil (available from health food shops)

Handful of berries of your choice, fresh or frozen (I use blueberries)

Whizz up with a hand blender in a pint glass, and there you have it!

I don’t think anyone has really cracked gluten-free bread yet, and the ones on the market are ridiculously expensive (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) But you can replace your bagels and crumpets with oatcakes, rye bread and rice cakes. Make your own pizzas and pittas using gluten-free flour. I’ve yet to find the perfect gluten-free bread recipe for the breadmaker (I’m far too lazy to make bread by hand.) If and when I come up with one, I’ll let you know.

Many health magazines advocate lemon water; they all say it ‘kick-starts your liver’ but a decent grapefruit juice (eg Tropicana) mixed with boiled water is also a good start to the morning. When you’re the wrong side of forty, unless you’ve had the diet of a saint, your liver starts turning into foie gras, so basically you need the equivalent of an car’s engine degrease on a regular basis.

If you can take it, a teaspoon of Cider vinegar every day is meant to work wonders. It’s recommended you drink it in a small amount of water, but I hate the stuff so much, I think it’s better to neck it neat, then follow it with the water to get rid of the taste.

If you can replace your coffee with herbal teas during the day, even better. Cutting down on caffeine is a different problem. I have managed to gradually replace my coffee with a barley substitute. I ‘cut’ the coffee with the fake stuff, adding more of the barley and less of the coffee day by day, until I got used to the taste. Bambu by A.Vogel is one of the better coffee substitutes, although there are plenty on the maket including dandelion coffee.

I weaned myself off sugar in a similar way. I started using Total Sweet, xylitol which tastes just like sugar. It’s low GI, so doesn’t give you the slump you get after a sugar rush. I add cinnamon powder which keeps blood sugar levels even and also makes you think you’re drinking something sweeter than it actually is.

I still occasionally have manuka honey in tea, if there are a lot of colds and bugs going round, purely for medicinal purposes, you understand. But giving up sugar is like giving up smoking or drugs. When you give it up in tea and coffee, you crave it in sweets, and with kids around, it’s hard not to give into temptation. The only thing I can do is not have any sweet stuff in the house.

Who am I kidding? Easter is coming…..

Creative Comping Kids (keeps ’em busy)

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Pinterest Catwomanga: Fun Crafts to Try

It’s half term, and that means the house gets extra messy. All the crafty, creative stuff comes out of cupboards, gets strewn all over the kitchen table and starts sprawling up the stairs, swirling round me, like a living beast made out of tissue paper, pipecleaners and (arghhh! ) glitter.  The only way to survive is don’t sweat it. It’s only for a week.

As I write, I have two children drawing designs on white t-shirts using Pentel Arts Fabric Fun pastels. Pentel have a complete range, but I chose pastels as I thought there would be less mess to clean up.  You can iron on the design to make it permanent. I’ll have a lot of ironing to do later. Lovely.

Earlier today, I introduced them to the art of Quilling, where we made some cards, and the gorgeous art of decopatching, a funky form of decoupage.

For more creative projects for your kids to get up to this holiday, take a look at the CBBC website, or for more unique projects sorted by age and gender , your first port of call should be the about.com site here 

Why not enter their works of art into competitions? For some great competitions to inspire your little Botticellis and Gauguins, go to the Prizefinder site here

For a brilliant UK site for children’s crafts, take a look here.

Have fun, and hope you win something too!

Pancake Party

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We’re planning a Pancake Party next Tuesday, and in doing some research for inspiration, I found some amazing pancakes; some were downright bizarre. I put together a board of incredible pancake art on Pinterest here.

If you’re looking for gluten-free alternatives, take a look at the No Naughties website for superb gluten-free pancake canapes, based on a Finnish recipe here. They’re oven-baked, so there’s no slaving over a hot stove getting covered in grease and pancake mix.

If you really are pushed for time, you could always buy some supermarket pancakes and have fun mixing and matching these toppings:

Jam

Chocolate spread

Honey

Toffee spread

Lemon curd

Icecream

Fresh fruit – raspberries, bananas, blueberries

Sprinkles – hundreds and thousands, or chocolate flake sprinkles

For those who prefer savoury toppings, you could make “pancake pizza” with a choice of cheese, ham, mushroom, peppers, and warm them up in the oven.

I’ve just asked the kids to write a list of potential guests to invite.

At the last count there were 27 children.

Wish me luck…..

Nativity!

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Nativity!

It’s that time again when we take time off work to go see our little darlings in their school plays.

I doubt any nativity will be able to top last year, when my five year old son was cast as a donkey.

Being time-poor and cash..meh, I bought a semi-donkey fancy dress costume online. (God bless those corporate supermarkets, with their mass-produced, half-arsed answers to life’s little problems.)

The costume consisted of a furry gilet and hat with some ears. When it arrived, my Gok Wan tendencies kicked in – it was missing something. A tail!!

Foolishly, I stuffed a small grey sock (not small enough, it turned out) and sewed it onto the back of the costume. Still not right. I found some black felt, turned it into fringing and made an adorable little ‘swishy thing’ at the end of the tail. Perfect! Hmmm.

The day arrived and my little boy took to the stage like a natural. So much so, he got a bit giddy and insisted on being on stage throughout the whole performance.  Ah well, he’s a donkey; it’s allowed. Plus let’s face it, I’d have to record the whole thing, and who wants to watch other people’s kids for an hour?

About halfway through,  my little boy found his tail. He pulled it up between his legs to the front. It was a sock; it was stretchy. He swished it about. He played it like a guitar. He later told me it was his ‘little rock star.’

The parents were treated to ten minutes of Donkey Dong, while I struggled to keep the camcorder still, trying not to laugh. He showed his little rock star to Joseph, which was the last straw for our religious school. Virgin Mary didn’t get a peek, fortunately. Donkey Dong was literally dragged off the stage by his leg, where he fell into a pit of angels.

Oh well, something to tell the grandchildren…..

Youtube video here: watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4FcSx9qVyiU

Donkey costume at Amazon

Elf on the Shelf

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Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf  is a gorgeously retro doll that sits on high, watching the children to check if they’ve been naughty or nice. Every night, Elfie flies back to the North Pole to grass on the kids to Santa. Then he returns to the house and sits in a different place.

Elfie comes out of our loft, I mean magically appears, just after Bonfire night. Why so early? Two reasons.  First, we have no problems getting the kids up early in the morning for school, they are desperate to see where Elfie may be hiding each day. For that reason, I think we’ll be giving Elfie weekends off.

Secondly, Elfie is good leverage for getting the kids to behave. My husband used to threaten them by saying he’ll call Santa’s mobile number (why hasn’t someone come up with a Santa hotline number? Come on Dragons’ Den!) but Elfie can be just as good. Unless of course, we’re at a restaurant, in which case, I may have to get an Elfie’s Little Helper on a key ring. But I don’t think the kids will buy it.

Elf on the Shelf comes with a delightful story book, which has a place in the back where you can name him.  He’s had so many names, I find plain old Elfie works for me.

It’s not cheap, but it’s been worth it in terms of parent power.