Our Favourite Five – September

September? How the dickens can September be over already? This month has just shot by and I think in part it’s been down to the lovely stuff we’ve done. Also I don’t know about you, but for me the year always speeds up in the Autumn. Maybe it’s because of the darker nights, maybe it’s because of the many festivities to come. As they say, time always flies when you’re having fun!

Anyway whether I can believe it or not, the month is coming to an end and therefore it’s time for Our Favourite Five, linking up as ever with the lovely Suburban Mum. So here we go:

1.Ragdale Hall

At the beginning of the month you may have seen myself and my chum Bethany swanned, yes there really is no other word for it, swanned off to the health spa Ragdale Hall for a long weekend. We left our children with their fathers on the Friday morning, took three trains to Melton Mowbry in Leicestershire and had the most amazing weekend of relaxing, pampering and laughing. I’m planning to write a full post about our time there, but I couldn’t not include Ragdale in my favourite five for September. In fact it’s probably in my favourite five for the year!

Escaping from the children!

Bethany and I escaping from the children!

Spa happy!

Spa happy!

Cheeky

Cheeky!

2. Baths

I’ve been a big fan of baths for a long time. I love a good soak and I love my Lush bath bombs. Recently, I’ve not been having them so often (too tired, no time, insert rubbish excuse here), but last Saturday morning I just decided instead of a shower I really wanted a bath and I really wanted one with my Lush Butterball Bath Bomb. So I got the bath ready and was just getting in when Oscar and Daddy came bounding in. But instead of getting annoyed, I just decided to go with it and when Oscar asked to get in with me, I just couldn’t refuse. We never had baths together when he was a baby. I’m not really sure why. I think I was too scared. All the medical staff told me I shouldn’t (just as they told me not to do loads of other things I now realise were actually my choice to make) and as a new mother I just did what they said. Ahh well. Any how back to our bath. We dropped the bath bomb in together and had so much fun watching it fizz and melt. Then we spent a good hour just playing together and chatting to Ben who sat on the floor next to us. Oscar was just so relaxed. It was a great bonding experience. Rather than feel sad that we didn’t do it sooner, I’ve ordered some more bath bombs from Lush and am hoping to make our family baths a more regular occurrence.

For our next bath I've ordered The Experimenter from Lush!

For our next bath I’ve ordered The Experimenter from Lush!

3. Lunch

We’ve been all about packed lunches this month. Firstly we got Oscar’s gorgeous, personalised Dabbawalla lunch-bag from a friend in America, then I got to meet Grace from Eats Amazing at the Capri-Sun #PackedLunchLove workshop. Ever since, I’ve been using my cutters to make all sorts of exciting things, such a cheese and carrot coins and moulded eggs. Oscar has started staying for lunch at preschool one day a week and it’s been great to see him eating the bits I put up for him, but also to hear that his teacher loves what I’m doing (she really liked the coins 🙂 ) Nice to know that the effort is not going unnoticed, so thanks for the inspiration Grace!

 

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Carrot & Cheese coins

Star eggs

Star eggs

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First ever preschool packed lunch. Not overly ambitious but one step at a time!

4. Boden

The boy had something of a growth spurt over the summer. I knew that and had bought him some new clothes recently. Only, it never occurred to me that his coats were now also too small, until it chucked it down with rain and we had to walk to preschool as week. Suddenly his raincoat was more like a jacket! It was time to upgrade – and fast! I looked about and saw nothing that I liked. Everything seemed a bit, well, boring and he’s got a lifetime to wear dull navy, grey or green. So when I found this coat from Boden I fell in love with it and with a 20% off & free delivery voucher I got through the post, I knew it was the one for us. It came super quickly (thankfully) and the boy loved it as soon as he saw it. So much so that he wanted it on straight away despite having nothing but a tshirt underneath! I got it in a size 4-5 and while it’s a little bit big, I’m hoping it’ll last. He does look so very handsome in it!

Boden Boys Fleece Lined Anorak.

Boden Boys Fleece Lined Anorak.

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All coat and no knickers 😉

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Bundled up for preschool – nice a toasty

5. Top Knots

I’ve got pretty long hair. Sometimes I like to wear it down, swept over one shoulder. But some days I just can’t be doing with it all round my face, so I just scrape it all back. I’ve got pony tails down pat but boy can they get boring after a while. So this month I took it upon my self to learn how to do a messy top knot. They seem to be all the rage, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get that volume and look. Enter the trusty Pinterest, who told me to do a whole load of back combing and invest in some bobby pins/kirby grips. And to actually knot the hair. I always thought the knot bit was a figure of speech, that it was just a bun by another name, but no! You actually knot the hair. Some days the grips stay in all day, other days they’ve fallen out within the first hour! But I’m getting there. I like it as a look and it goes really well with knitwear. A great combo for Autumn!

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Messy top nots a go go!

 

 

I do love looking back at the month like this. It reminds me just how much fun we’ve had. What in September has made you and your family happy?

 

Capri-Sun #PackedLunchLove Hack Workshop

Lunch. It seems to be on my mind a lot lately (but to fair when is food not? ?). I recently got Oscar a new lunch bag, when his existing one started causing concerns I’d never even envisaged, and a few weeks ago I was invited by the lovely people at Capri-Sun to join them for a lunch box hack workshop in London to celebrate the launch of their Fruit Crush all fruit juice drink. Until recently Oscar would only drink water, but once he found ‘juice boxes’ that was it, he was in love. So I was interested to find out more about an option that could also be counted as is 1 of your 5 a day. Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is made with 75% Fruit Juice and 25% Spring Water and is available in three flavours, so I was interested to see whether it could find a place in our lunch boxes.

Capri Sun Fruit Crush. Fruit Juice and Water, that's it!

Capri Sun Fruit Crush. Fruit Juice and Water, that’s it!

When I first got the invite, I immediately knew Oscar wasn’t ready for the craft and fun they were promising the little people. However, I also knew my friend’s daughter would love it, so invited Cecily and her mummy Bethany to come with me. And I still believe they would have loved it, however Bethany was so poorly that weekend, I ended up going alone. Hope you’re feeling better now Bethany!

The event was run at the London family members club Maggie and Rose in Kensington, and while the children were entertained in one space, we mummies and daddies sat in another. The set up immediately piqued my interest. I mean, what were we going to do with cookie cutters and dried spaghetti?

Thanks to Maggie and Rose in Earls Court for hosting

Thanks to Maggie and Rose in Earls Court for hosting

Seriously! What were we about to do?

Seriously! What were we about to do?

I’ve never been particularly creative when it comes to Oscar’s lunch. At the moment we mostly eat at home and that mostly involves sandwiches (cut into squares) made from gluten free bread and one of a number of fillings (his favourite du jour is Dairylea, but he’ll eat most things to be fair. As long as it’s not green!) Trimming the crusts off is my only nod to fancy (and I only do that because then he’ll weirdly eat more of the sandwich than when I don’t!). So, believe me when I say I was a leeeetle sceptical about making a ‘fun’ lunch. I mean who has time for that, right?

The workshop was run a blogger I’d not come across before, Grace from Eats Amazing. Grace’s hobby of getting her children to eat healthy food, has turned into an obsession. For Capri-Sun’s Fruit Crush #PackedLunchLove Project She had designed five bento style packed lunches and the first thing she did was show us how quick and easy the Dinosaur one was to make.

Grace under pressure!

Grace under pressure!

I literally timed the poor girl. And this is how long it took to create the dino lunch box

I literally timed the poor girl. And this is how long it took to create the dino lunch box. Impressive!

Grace's awesome 4 minute Dino Lunch!

Grace’s awesome 4 minute Dino Lunch!

What a great idea and so ridiculously simple it was almost embarrassing that I’d never thought to try something like it before. You can find the directions to create this fun but healthy dino themed lunchbox here.

So once we’d seen just how simple a fun lunch could be, it was our turn to have a go. Only Grace decided it would be fun for us to have a crack at a really special lunch, one she was at pains to explain she wouldn’t make every day. In fact she explained she would usually only play with one or two elements per box (as you can see in the Dino lunch). Doing that and adding a couple of eyes or character picks is usually enough to have even the most inscrutable child bowled over. But to give us some real practice on the bento lunch style, we were set the task of creating a ‘Woodland Themed’ lunch, complete with Owl sandwich, egg mouse, grape acorns and carrot leaves.

And I loved every minute of it!

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Grace’s Woodland themed lunch

So that's what the dried spaghetti was for! The eyes are ebilble ink. I need one of these pens!

So that’s what the dried spaghetti was for! The eyes are ebilble ink. I need one of these pens!

Two slices of bread, one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some stick on eyes and you my friend have got yourself an Owl!

Two slices of bread, one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some stick on eyes and you my friend have got yourself an Owl!

And here's my box, complete with mouse, owl along with leaves cut from slices of carrot and acorns made from frozen grapes dipped in melted chocolate.

And here’s my box, complete with mouse and owl along with leaves cut from slices of carrot and acorns made from frozen grapes dipped in melted chocolate.

It was too much fun and while I would never have time to do this kind of thing every day (sorry Grace, I just wouldn’t!) it was amazing to see what you could create with just a little bit of thought, and some awesome cutters.

I had such a great day, but what I really came away with was inspiration. Such as:

  1. If you’re cutting the crusts off bread, do it before you add the filling. Then bag up any crusts you have, in the freezer. When you next need breadcrumbs, whizz up the left overs and hey presto, breadcrumbs. I’ve already started doing this at home!
  2. The wax on Babybel cuts easily and sticks to itself, meaning you can make a boring cheese look super exciting!
  3. When cutting out shapes from vegetables, keep the left overs. These can be used in all sorts of ways later on (beak of an Owl sandwich anyone? Soup?)
  4. To keep it exciting, stock up on a few different types of breads (such as rolls, pittas, wraps, muffins etc) and keep them in the freezer. They last for ages and you can mix it up as you go along. Use it frozen and it will be thawed by lunch time – no defrosting needed!
  5. Although we don’t like it, I learnt hummus freezes really well. You can freeze it in all sorts of shaped ice cube trays and the frozen hummus will hold it shape, even when it defrosts. How cool is that?
  6. Once you start looking around you’ll be amazed what you can use to spruce up a packed lunch. Cocktail stirrers, cookie cutters, cake flags, the list is endless. And there is such a thing as an edible marker. Who knew?!

I was amazed. It had never occurred to me to cut pitta at an angle to make a dinosaur spike, or to dip frozen grapes in chocolate to make acorns. Heck, it had never occurred to me to theme his lunch full stop. But it really is that simple. With a few tweaks on a bog standard lunch and a few little additions (picks, eyes etc) Grace created something so cool, even I wanted to tuck in!

And that was the philosophy of the day I guess. Take the familiar, be that food or drink, look at it from a different angle and BOOM! you’ve got a whole box of healthy fun. I would never have thought to take a cookie cutter to a carrot and I would never have thought to give Oscar Capri-Sun Fruit Crush.

I do both now.

 

Thank you for so much fun!

Thank you for so much fun!

 

Thank you so much to everyone involved in the #PackedLunchLove workshop. Thank you to Capri-Sun for arranging such a wonderful day and to Grace for inspiring me to give it a go.

You can find all the picks, eyes and lunch accessories you could ever need at Grace’s Eats Amazing Shop

I was given a Yumbox to carry my creations home in and boy do we love it! Watertight and secure, Oscar wants to eat every meal out of it now! You can find out more about Yumbox here

I wasn’t paid for this post and as always all opinions are my own.