Thursday, February 28, 2013

baby noms: baby mac and cheese (with cauliflower and broccoli)

arty takes after both his mum and i in our love of all things creamy. this dinner is hits the spot on that front, without being stodgy, or devoid of nutritional value. the trick is to replace about half of the pasta with veggies!

baby mac and cheese (with cauliflower and broccoli)

50g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1.5 cups pasta (i don't actually use macaroni, but instead substitute stellini, or risoni, which arty seems to prefer)
2 cups finely chopped broccoli
4 cups finely chopped cauliflower


  • in a medium saucepan, boil some water, and add the cauliflower and broccoli. cook for 5 mins until tender. drain, and set aside in large bowl
  • boil some more water, and this time cook the pasta according to packet instructions. drain, and add to vegetables.
  • place the flour and butter in a small saucepan, and whisk over a low heat until the butter has melted and a golden paste has been formed. 
  • continue to whisk while slowly adding the milk. the mixture will be runny to begin with, but keep whisking, and in a few minutes it will thicken.
  • when you have a nice creamy texture, turn off the heat, and add the grated cheese.
  • pour the sauce over your pasta and vegetables, and stir thoroughly to combine.
this makes a generous quantity. which is just as well, because it's delicious.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

baby noms: a quinoa kinda-risotto

this is a hearty vegetarian dish that arty enjoys for lunch or dinner.
obviously it's not a risotto (no rice!), but it's got that risotto-esque consistency, so that's what i'm calling it. i'm a maverick, what can i say!?

1 cup quinoa
2 cups stock
1/2 a medium butternut pumpkin, diced
1/2 cup peas (frozen is fine)
2 field mushrooms (or equivalent quantity of another variety), sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan or tasty cheese (or a mixture)


  • place quinoa and stock in a small saucepan, and bring to boil
  • lower heat, and cook, covered for approx 10-15 mins, until liquid has been absorbed by grains. leave to stand, covered, for a further 10 mins with the heat off
  • meanwhile, place mushrooms, onion, garlic, and butter on frying pan, and fry over medium heat until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked.
  • steam pumpkin until almost tender, add peas, and cook together until both are cooked.
  • combine quinoa, mushrooms, and vegetables in one bowl, add cheese, and stir until it melts.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

a posting bottle

last week i lost my wallet.
i cursed my absent minded nature, and flailed around the house looking everywhere for it, but it was nowhere to be found.
twenty four hours later, arty was pottering around with the esky, and to my great surprise, out came the wallet. he had posted it away for me, like the very helpful boy that he is.

this is a pretty common activity for arty at the moment. he loves putting things in bags, taking things in and out of boxes, stacking things in cupboards, and posting things into drawers.
so i thought i'd make him a simple toy that makes the most of that interest. a posting bottle.

it was very easy. here's how you do it:

a posting bottle

what you'll need:
an old bottle (approx. two litres capacity or more)
a stanley knife, paring knife, or other sharp blade
a permanent marker
some small objects for posting in and out of the holes (eg, duplo blocks, pegs, pebbles, etc.)

what to do:
  • rinse and dry your bottle thoroughly.
  • mark two circles on the bottle, each big enough for your baby to put their hand into. try to place them at different heights on the bottle's sides so objects don't always go straight through the bottle and out the other side.
  • using your knife, carefully cut around the circles to make two holes.
  • find a few objects for your baby to post, and show them how they might do it

make sure you exercise caution in your choice of items to post - nothing small enough to be a choking hazard!
if the edges of the holes are a little rough or sharp, line them with washi tape. they'll be gentler on your baby's hands, and more visually appealing too.

this toy was a great distraction on a day when arty wasn't feeling super well. it kept him entertained even when he didn't have a lot of energy.

he enjoyed putting things in the different holes, and listening to the sounds they made as they fell. he also liked the way that different objects made different kinds of rattling sounds when the bottle was shaken.

this was also a good tool for learning about the concepts of "in" and "out" and the associated language. for example, i gave him an object and said "arty, can you put this in the bottle?" and he would follow the instruction.

for a completely free toy, this is very entertaining, and has great educational value.

Monday, February 11, 2013

home made finger paints

the recipe for home made, baby safe paint popped up on my facebook page yesterday, and i thought it sounded like an excellent way for my curious, creative, tactile boy and i to spend a morning.

and it's just as well we used this instead of shop bought paint for our first foray into finger-painting. because he couldn't help but taste a bit. he is a one year old, you know?

pleasingly, i had all the required ingredients in the pantry...

baby safe finger paint

1/2 cup corn flour
2 cups water
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
food colouring in desired colours


  • combine all ingredients in a small saucepan
  • whisk over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a nice gluggy paint
  • divide into three bowls, and add food colouring
  • unleash creativity! 

the first thing arty did was stick his hands in the paint, and then squidge it around in his little fists. he loved the sensation, and the squelching noise it made.

i helped him put his hands on the paper the first few times, and he was very interested in the marks they left. he was flapping around independently in no time.

the food colouring does stain clothes, so i'd suggest either doing it in the nude, or wearing something old, or that's almost been grown out of.
it also stains skin a little bit, but will wash off after one or two good baths. 

i would definitely suggest making this an outdoor activity if you have the space, or doing it on an easily wipe-able surface if you need to stay indoors.
is it messy? definitely.
is it worth it? completely.
arty and i give this activity two (slightly blue-green tinged) thumbs up as a great creative activity, and a fantastic example of sensory play.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

saying thanks

arty had such a great time on his birthday, and received some gorgeous presents, so we wanted to make sure he thanked all his friends and family.

we used printstagram to get 4x4 prints of him holding a 'thanks' sign, and wrote notes from him on the back of each one.

we were really happy with how they turned out, even though it took a while for us to get the right shot...

i think i like some of those outtakes more than the original, to be honest. that dorky boy is my favourite.