Friday, 31 January 2014

DIY Happy Meals

We've not done these for a while, but then I was doing my Asda order last night and I'd just added some burgers at the boys' request and then I mis-spelt something which then autocorrected to Minecraft which then brought up all Asda's craft things and I saw some coloured card and thought Ooh! 
So today they each chose a colour (red for Sprout and Squidge and orange for Moppet), and came up with some designs which I cut out (I'd share the template but I just eyeballed it). Sprout decided on a trololol face that would appear as you ate your dinner, and monster-head carrying handles. Squidge wanted his initial for the handles and then Ben 10 alien eyes on the sides, and Moppet saw the googly eyes come out and was like, Use ALL the eyes!!! :)

I made their lunches and popped a little compass in each one (I'd got a pack of four in the party section for a couple of quid). They were all very excited with their meals, Sprout especially so with the compass, which he's off playing with now :)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Minecraft Fortune Cookies for Chinese New Year

So, along with digging out our Chinese dragon...

...I have fortune cookie making on the agenda for tomorrow's Chinese New Year, for which we're going to use this recipe without the almond stuff cos, y'know, it's too late to go out and I don't have any! I was just searching for wise and sage fortunes to go in them, but then I realised that there isn't an occasion that can't be Minecrafted right up :) So feel free to use them too, just click here and download the printable!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Cooking, gaming, cooking, gaming... oh and some science!

It's been a week of hats for Moppet, from gladiator to builder to Lego box to her new woolly hat her great aunt sent her, her swede has been jauntily adorned at all times :)

Squidge's enthusiasm for cooking continues. After doing the batch cooking with me at the weekend he also made A Girl Called Jack's spinach aloo...

...some cola ice lollies with the Moshi Monster set he got for Christmas...

...decorated some gingerbread biscuits with Moppet...

...and made a carrot cake, and then some Postman Pat cakes with a mix he chose.

Sprout and I have been on our Minecraft LAN world together building a pyramid full of mazes, traps and treasure rooms, and a ranch for his horses. He's been coaching Squidge on a Tekkit LAN, playing some Little Big Planet 2 together (after I finally found the disc, it only took an hour of sorting through every DVD and game box in the house, of which it turns out only two were in the right box, oops!)...

...and watching a lot of Smoshgames. He's been putting together a list of the Lego sets he wants at the moment, finding the best price for each one with me, and working out how much he needs to save up. We've been chatting about what computers were like twenty five years ago and the kind of things my computer was capable of when I was a teenager compared to his now. We've also chatted about new research that suggests that juvenile T rexes might have had feathers, which he thought was mind boggling. Together with Squidge we've also watched the David Attenborough Natural History Museum Alive again, plus various videos including one of a can of coke being engulfed by a lava flow. 
Sprout and I stayed up one night finding Where's Wally on pictures we googled, he'd never seen it before and loved it! 

We also found a twenty questions type site here ...

...which amazed him, he tried to be obscure using people such as Pewdiepie, and Hannah from Yogscast, but it guessed both. It guessed Amelie but then I managed to foil it with Celine from the Before Sunrise trilogy. 
Moppet has been hosting little tea parties on this cute little app...

...and has been getting all the Peppa Pig she can on various apps, Wii games, and YouTube as well as the ones we've recorded for her on the tv (upside down, the very best way to watch tv!)

Squidge has been enjoying the ChemIQ app again...

...Fruit Ninja, Blocksworld, and the Human Body app, as well as Toca mini...

...and the Christmas photo booth app (still!)

He been making more 3D models with the Foldify app...

He was excited when a parcel arrived for him one morning, it was the Hello Fresh box that I'd ordered on a daily deal site offer. It's got all the ingredients and instructions to make three meals, so he got on with it straight away and made spicy lentils with red onion and grilled halloumi, it was sooo lovely! It was nice for him to cook something that neither of us would necessarily have thought of, he really enjoyed it and was very proud to save some for when Gruff got home from work. 

The next day he chose to make the courgette and sub dried tomato Dorset pastry tart, from this... this :)

Squidge and I built the (really) little Star Wars models that Sprout had given him out of his Loot Crate. They were very fiddly but he was pleased with them once they were done!

Sprout lent him his big tub that normally has Lego in, and he spent ages using it in many ways, from it being his turtle shell, to his butterfly cocoon, to him being an acorn and growing up out of it, then he fixed some slinkies to the side to make a musical instrument :) I love his creativity!

We had a couple of afternoons with friends, and also met up with friends at Gladstone Pottery again. The boys were excited to do the new treasure hunt where they had to go round and find where the pottery lions were hidden. 

I've gone down today with theveryworstflueverknowntomankind ( aka 'a cold'), so the boys have really helpfully mostly done things that don't need a great deal of input from me. I gave them some plastic cups and pieces of card, which they first used for making roads, then building Angry Birds towers...

...then Squidge cut some of the bottoms off and drew faces on them, and then cut some more up along with some other bits and pieces from the art tubs and made a collage for Gruff. As well as LBP2 they've played some of the new Fireboy and Watergirl together, and Sprout has asked me to spell some things for him so he can search for the things he needs on Tekkit. 
We've made a start on making some soft toys, begun a 3D aquarium craft, and had a look at the next recipe in the Hello Fresh box, as well as making a start on (re)organising all their Lego into various tubs and boxes, so we've got plenty planned over the next few days! *thinks longingly of the days when I could take cold medication* :)

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Mr Men Cookbook: Week 1 Mr Happy's Potato Boats

I got a lovely surprise in the post this week. When I was six a friend gave me the Mr Men Cookbook ( )  and when I was a teenager and my little cousin was born I sent the book to his mum to use with him. It seems she's kept it all this time and returned it to me with wishes for me to have as much fun using it with my three as she did with hers <3

After I had a little look and a reminisce, Squidge had a look with me and decided he'd like to work his way through it and cook everything, so we're going to aim for one a week, starting today with Mr Happy's Potato Boats.

This was super easy, he just washed a potato and popped it in the oven, and I helped him roll up the two rashers of bacon and he secured them to the two sausages with cocktail sticks. Half an hour after the potato went in he added the foil-wrapped sausages and bacon. The recipe said another half hour but our oven is as much use as a pixie breathing lightly on the food, so two hours later it was all ready. We halved the potato and put a spot of butter on each, then put a sausage and bacon 'sail' on each one. One for Squidge and one for Sprout, and they both opted to keep the meat and donate the jacket potato to me and Gruff :)

Verdict: really really easy, and a nice little lunch :)

Budget Meals: Broccoli, Cream Cheese and Garlic Sausage Pasta 26p/portion

We usually make this with just the broccoli and the soft cheese, but I saw the garlic sausage on the reduced shelf last night and for 3p I thought it wouldn't break the bank to add it in!

Head broccoli 50p (Asda)
60g garlic sausage (27p off Tesco deli counter, or 3p on offer on the reduced shelf ;) )
Half tub soft cheese 25p (Tesco value soft cheese 200g 49p)
1tbsp milk 1p (Asda whole milk 4pt £1)
500g smart price penne 29p

Serves 5
Total for me today £1.08, so 22p per person
Total paying full price £1.32, so 26p per person 

Chop the broccoli into florets and steam it.
Boil the pasta in water until cooked.
Chop the garlic sausage into small cubes and dry fry it.
Drain the pasta, stir in the soft cheese and the splash of milk, then stir in the garlic sausage and the broccoli.

Budget Meals: Bean Curry and Rice 23p/portion

This was a 'throw in what we have' curry in an attempt to use up some of the things we have in the pantry and freezer. I usually mix spices myself for curries but I realised I had some curry paste portioned up in the freezer too from a 3kg tin I got from Approved Foods ages ago for a penny, but I wouldn't usually use it as it's normally much cheaper to just make it yourself.

1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2p (Asda vegetable oil £1.50 for 1l)
2 smart price onions, 10p (approx 20 in a 2kg bag for 98p)
A handful of frozen peppers 10p (500g £1.00 Asda)
Curry paste 1p (I have no clue how much this would be to buy normally, if you use a clove of garlic, 1tsp turmeric, half tsp cumin and 1tsp chilli it's about 11p based on supermarket prices)
A handful of frozen spinach 7p (1kg £1.39 at Asda)
A large handful of frozen green beans 10p (£1 750g at Asda) 
1 Cup dried adzuki (or any other) beans 59p, soaked overnight (We got these super cheap from Approved Foods too at some point, so this cup of beans actually cost me 10p, but I've based the 59p on Whitworths fried salad bean mix £1.18 for 500g at Asda)
1 Cup dried chickpeas 48p, soaked overnight, (Ditto for these, this actually cost me 5p but I've based this on Asda's dried chickpeas at 95p for 500g)
2 tins chopped tomatoes 68p (Asda smart price 34p/tin)

Serves 15 with 100g rice per person. 
Total for me today £1.23, plus 4p per person for 100g rice each based on Asda smart price rice, so 12p per person.
Using normal supermarket prices, total would be £2.84, plus 4p each rice, so 23p per person.

Drain the soaked beans and chickpeas and boil until tender.
Steam or boil the rice while the curry cooks.
Chop the onions and sautée in the oil with the peppers, adding the garlic and spices or the curry paste, whichever you have.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the green beans, and simmer for a few minutes.
Drain the beans and chickpeas, and add to the tomato mixture along with the spinach. 
Simmer for a few minutes to reduce.
Serve over the rice.

Budget Meals: Cabbage and Rice Bake 31p/portion

Another good one for using up leftover rice...

1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2p (Asda vegetable oil £1.50 for 1l)
1 smart price onion, 5p (approx 20 in a 2kg bag for 98p)
One clove garlic, 3p (Tesco Value 3 pack galic bulbs 49p)
250g (uncooked weight) rice 10p (1kg Asda Smart Price rice 40p)
1 tin chopped tomatoes 34p (Asda Smart Price) 
50g cheese, 28p (450g Asda Extra Mature Cheddar is usually on offer two for £5)
The end slice of a loaf, 2p (Asda Smart price brown sliced bread 23 slices 45p)
Half a white cabbage, 40p (White cabbage 80p Asda)

Total £1.24
Serves 4, so 31p per portion

Cook the rice if it's not already (steam or boil).
Chop the onion and sautée in the oil, and crush the garlic and add that too.
Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer and stir for a couple of minutes.
Chop and steam the cabbage.
Grate the cheese.
In an oven dish mix the cooked cabbage, rice, grated cheese, and tomato mixture. 
Grate or blend the slice of bread into breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top.
Put in the oven at around gasmark 5 for about half an hour or until heated through and golden on top.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bo, dopa, duba, fwanna, k'wanna...

Following last month's unsuccessful attempt to make candles from brood comb, I ordered a candle making kit. I still didn't get it quite right as they wanted to melt wax and pour it, whereas I managed to order some kind of wax sand type stuff that you use solid, but they still enjoyed it and it actually worked out well as Moppet was more hands on than she probably would have been with hot wax. 

Once they were made Moppet spent ages experimenting with touching the flame, she was mesmerised!

She discovered Squidge's Ben 10 silhouette torch and they had fun together shining the alien silhouettes onto various parts of the house/their own faces and making them bigger and smaller depending on how far away they were :)

Gruff had a crazy long week at work last week and Sprout told me he'd like to do something to show him how much we appreciate him, so he came up with the idea of doing him breakfast in bed along with making him a card and a photo frame and giving him the candle he'd made. 

The card had a heart on the front which he told us is a core of love, surrounded by obsidian, surrounded by the ocean. :)

We had an afternoon at their grandparents' house, where Squidge and Moppet were playing with this jigsaw a lot and Sprout was delving into his uncles old 80s toys (Starcom is a current favourite!)

Eventually they got the trampoline out and bounced off some energy :)

Gruff and Squidge built his Sonic racetrack and they all spent some time finding the best way to not flip the cars off the track.

At a home ed group Moppet was kind of interested in playing with another little girl, which was a first I think (she plays with her brothers but not really other kids so far), and she got engrossed in this balancing monkey game for a little while too, among other things. 

Sprout and Squidge, meanwhile, set up this elaborate space scape for their sponge men to fight the alien invaders :)

Back at home we played on the David Attenborough Natural History Museum Alive app which I downloaded after they enjoyed the programme so much, and it was lovely to listen to Sprout telling me all about the dodo, the moa, the gigantopothecus, and the diplodocus so enthusiastically. He thinks the dodo is (was!) hilarious :)
The boys spent a lot of time playing Lego Star Wars together and Need for Speed racing, and spent a bit of time sword fighting on the Wii too. Squidge tried to show Moppet how to play the Peppa Pig Wii game, but she's not quite there yet! 
On tv this week there's been a lot of Peppa, courtesy of Moppet, and some Power Rangers, also some Yo Gabba Gabba which led to a conversation about the role of the stomach in digestion and how we extract energy from food via cell respiration. 
I attempted an awesome snack moment for them with these giant s'mores, but they were unanimously rejected in favour of cucumber. I took a photo anyway because they were epic :)

Sprout was seriously excited to take delivery of his Loot Crate that I'd ordered him as a surprise. I didn't realise he knew what they were but apparently Nerd Cubed did an unboxing video one time. Sprout was so excited that I even got a hug, and he's not generally a hugger :D
His favourite things were the Superman Domo toy, the NASA badge and the Star Trek communicator sticker. He loved the 16 month Minecraft calendar too, and chatted about how many months are in the year, and how many days in each month (30 days hath September, etc). The Star Wars phrase book and model he gave to Squidge, and we amused ourselves counting in Jabba the Hutt's language :D

We met one of the home ed groups at Cosford RAF museum, which the boys are always up for going to. Moppet loved the magnets/compasses table and this Bernoulli effect hands on part...

...and Sprout loved explaining to them both how ball bearings reduced friction.

They didn't spend as long as usual on their previous favourite parcel drop activity...

...and we found ourselves in the cafe discussing whether water weighs anything (Sprout experimented with some cups with different amounts in), the relative densities of ice and water and how we know, tsunamis, their effects and how they feature in Roblox, who is in space right now, and which wars are going on at the moment.

One of their favourite things at Cosford is the space race presentation pod, and they happily watched that again and picked up new bits of information from it.

They found a new area with things about the Vietnam War, which they were briefly interested in but then more interested in the giant dominoes which made up the display.

We looked at lots of helmets including infantry helmets, air crew helmets, and these nuclear chemical and biological protection helmets which Sprout was very excited about as he's seen similar ones in Team Fortress 2, so he was telling us about the similarities and differences.

The boys sat engrossed through the video about the Cuban missile crisis (they always do!), while Moppet tried to catch the light going round the edge of the table.

They were both really excited about the Dornier 17 conservation project that has been put in place since we were last there. They watched the wreckage being washed down with citric acid...

...and downloaded the app to see the plane in position in augmented reality, along with a number of videos about the restoration depending on whereabouts in the base they pointed the camera. 

Back at home Moppet played on the Doc Mcstuffins app...

...and took some selfies :)

I helped Sprout find the information he was looking for about things in the museum, like this map of current wars and unrest...

...this info on who's on the ISS at the moment...

...the live stream of what's going on inside the ISS (they wanted to see the ants that arrived last week but I couldn't find any video of them yet)...

...and the video of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

We've put Flan's mod back on Minecraft (everything from WW2 planes to Nerf guns!) along with SecurityCraft, and he's building a house he's been inspired to build by one of the pictures on the calendar from his Loot Crate. Lots of connections, tangents, and reconnections :)