‘Stay in your bed’ sticker chart progress + print your own!

  
I thought I would do a quick update on how the sticker chart is working for us so far. Brooklyn is 3 years old and this is the first time we’ve used a sticker chart for him. Unsure of how it would go, and whether he would even care – I decided not to have too many stickers before he got a reward. I thought 3 was a good amount for him to not loose interest in the whole idea, for his first chart anyway.

The reason we started it was because Brooklyn was coming into our bed in the night. At first it was at about 5am. That was okay, I didn’t mind morning snuggles as he would go back to sleep with us. Then it was 3am, then 1am… then before I even went to bed! Heeeeell NO, Brooklyn! I love you, but I love you more when I don’t have your fluffy head of hair smooshed up to my face all night 😉 Cue sticker chart! Paired with his Gro Clock (we’d kind of fallen off the wagon with this), 3 nights in his own bed until the sun came up and he was rewarded with a Kinder Surprise (or a ‘surprise egg’ for those that watch the damn you-tube videos on them *cough* Brooklyn *cough*). He goes to bed at 6pm so the sun is set to come up at 6am.

Here’s how it’s going:

Night 1: Woke up twice before 12am, was marched back to bed by Daddy. Woke at 4.30am, marched back to bed by Mummy. Woke at 5.30am and woke up Marlo. Cue Hulk mad Mummy. Grrrrrr! Night one – FAIL! No sticker. He was horrified. I’m talking screaming the house down because there would be no sticker, he even asked to go BACK to bed… heck no buddy, you’ve woken the whole house up – you can stay up too!

Night 2: Woke at 4.30am to tell me Marlo was awake and needed a Kai. Fair call, thanks dude – I hadn’t even heard the monitor yet haha. Happily went back to sleep. Woke at 5.30am to tell me he’d done a poo. WTF. Who gets up that early to poo?! Changed his nappy, put him back into bed. He didn’t come out until the sun came up at 6am. Yay! Sticker!

Night 3: Woke up at 6.10am. STICKER!

Night 4, 5, 6, 7: Occasionally gets up to tell me Marlo’s awake when I’m too tired to notice, but happily goes back to sleep. Hasn’t woken until after 6am each morning! Stickers all round!

So far, so good! It’s nice to have our bed back!

  
** FREE PRINTABLES **
Click HERE to download the Gro Clock sticker chart (like Brooklyn’s, but without a name) or click HERE to download one where there is space to write a specific time on the chart.

Egg Free Meringues AKA Aquafaba

  
Egg free? Meringues? Yes, that can be used in the same sentence! As many of you know, Brooklyn is allergic to egg whites. So meringues made the traditional way has never been something that I’ve bothered with. About 6 months ago I came across the wonderful world of Aquafaba (bean liquid). It’s slowly but surely taking the world by storm. Vegans go crazy for the stuff, there’s even Facebook groups specifically to discuss/share hits, misses and ideas.

When I say ‘bean liquid’, I literally mean that. I use chickpea brine, but you can use the brine from other cans of beans too. All you need is something to whip it in – a cake mixer is easiest as it’s less work for you, but an electric hand mixer works too. Here is the recipe and instructions that I follow:

Ingredients

The liquid/brine from 1 can of chickpeas
1 cup of castor sugar
1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice
3-4 drops of essence (vanilla or peppermint are my faves)
Colouring, if you wish – I recommend using gel food colouring as too much extra liquid can mess with the mixture.

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 100 degrees celsius.

Whip up the liquid/brine until it’s reached soft peaks (doesn’t take long – maybe 5 minutes), add sugar and leave it whipping for a good 10 mins and ensure that all of the sugar has dissolved (continue whipping if it hasn’t). Add lemon juice and essence, whip again. Add colouring and whip again. As you can see, this involves a lot of whipping! Hence my suggestion of using a mixer, if possible. My biggest tip is: whip the s**t out of it! You can’t over mix it, so don’t be shy.

Pipe your beautiful cloud like mixture on to a lined baking tray (or just spoon it on if you like the ‘rustic’ look). For smaller meringues (kisses) – bake for 1 hour*, then switch off the oven and leave them to cool inside. For bigger meringues (nests) – bake for 1 hour 20 mins* and then do the same, leave them to cool in the oven. Once cooled, put straight into an air tight container. When serving – if you leave them out in the air too long they become sticky to the touch. So take them out just as you are ready to eat them.

  
*Note: Baking times are an approximate. If they no longer feel sticky to the touch, but are still a bit ‘soft’ feeling – this is okay, they will dry out while the oven is cooling. If they’re still sticky, leave baking and check again in 10 minutes.

Let me know how you get on and tag me in a photo if you try them!

J x

Toddler Art Fun + Review – ArtiSand

Brooklyn was lucky enough to be sent a sand art kit from ArtiSand, a new NZ owned and operated business. I’m ‘that Mum’ that cringes at doing messy play, arts + crafts, etc at home. Playdoh is about as messy as it gets over here 😉  That’s what kindy is for, right? But I was willing to give this art set a try anyway, for Brooklyn’s sake.

Our box arrived, and inside it came: 10 bags of different coloured sand, 2 little bottles (to make it easy to pour the sand out), 1 A4 image, 1 A5 image, 2 plastic sleeves (for keeping the art works in afterwards), a mini funnel (for getting the sand into the little bottles), and 2 little star shaped picks (to use to peel off bits of the image to reveal the sticky layer).


That’s the general gist of it – you peel off parts of the image to reveal the sticky layer, sprinkle the coloured sand that you want on those bits, then tap it off and do the next part. Super easy!

Brooklyn is 3 and he did need a bit of help. He chose the colours and we filled the wee bottles up for him, and peeled back the image where he said he wanted to put that colour. Then he would sprinkle the sand on. He had heaps of fun and was very proud of his wee creation in the end. He told us he wants to take it to pre-school to show them! It was probably not a wise idea to tackle this after a full day at pre-school… there were a couple of almost meltdowns because we picked the wrong colour, haha.


  

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as messy as you’d think! We found it best to do it over an open magazine, that way it was easy to tip all the excess back into the bags of sand. There was a bit of sand on the table from Brooklyn getting a bit over-excited, but that was it!

The sand is non-toxic, which is always a biggy for a Mum of a toddler… Brooklyn of course had to have a taste, and also tipped some in his ear while we weren’t looking. Yes, in his ear, haha.

Overall I thought it was a very fun little art project – it didn’t take too much time, and didn’t make much mess. The husband also approved!

“Smile and show me your picture!”


There’s heaps of cute images to choose from on their website and you can purchase your own sand from HERE too. They sell party packs too, wouldn’t it be awesome to do at a kids party?!

ArtiSand is also on Facebook and Instagram @artisand.sandart.nz.

Thank you Artisand for encouraging a bit of arts + crafts in the Whittaker household!

J x

Introducing – Little Big Crate

If you’re not the kind of person to scroll through Instagram and Facebook and like/follow a million and one pages, some say you might be missing out on cute clothing goodness for your little ones. Wrong!

Two clever ladies have come along and broken that barrier for you. Introducing ‘Little Big Crate’, a super awesome new business on the block. The general gist of Little Big Crate is: you (Mum, Dad, Aunty, whoever) fills out an online profile and answers a few questions about your babe and the kind of clothing styles that you like. Melanie and Annette then personally hand pick out items that they think you will like, to make up your ‘crate’. Now this is the cool part – you only pay for what you want to keep! Once your crate arrives, you have 5 days to decide what you love, put the ‘no’ items in the pre-paid post bag that comes with your crate, drop it off at the post shop and done! Within a couple of days of recieving your crate, you will get an email with another quick survey about which items you’re keeping, which you’re not, and why (this will help M + A the next time you order a crate!). You will then receive an invoice for the stuff you’ve kept. Easy peasy!

There’s nothing more exciting than a box full of goodies, and it’s even more exciting when you don’t know what’s inside! Here is what was in our crate:

snapseed-13
Posy bonnet – Beau Bonnets | Ruffle sleeve swing top – Cottontail | Soft soled ‘Charlotte’ shoe – Little Lane Co.

 Merino crown jersey – Mamoo & Lou | A-line dress-retro – PoppyJane

 Organic short and onesie set – RubyLou Shop

 Organic hearts-short sleeve + roses-long sleeve – both Two Tykes

Melanie and Annette made an extra effort to try and include things that they knew Marlo didn’t already have, and they hit the nail on the head! I was super impressed. Nothing in the box was something we already owned, and I’d only heard of two out of seven designers! So of course I went and stalked all of their Instagrams straight away 😉

Not only is this a super cool, easy way to shop from a busy Mum point of view – but also an awesome way for brands to get their name out there!

I found it really hard to choose what to keep, I could have easily kept it all… if I wanted my husband to divorce me 😉 I thought I’d choose two things, so here is what we decided to keep… The beautiful ruffle sleeved swing top from Cottontail (absolutely love this, it’s so well made and I just couldn’t send it back!) and the Beau Bonnets bonnet (I’m a sucker for bonnets!). I really loved the heart bodysuit from Two Tykes too, but Marlo has loads of bodysuits so thought I’d stick with a couple of more ‘special’ pieces.


I had a wee chat with Melanie and Annette while I was ordering, here’s what they had to say:

Where did you come up with the idea of Little Big Crate?
LBC was born out of lots of discussion! We had been thinking about starting a business with the long term goal being to work for ourselves. We had lots of ideas in the baby and kids theme but none of them really stuck until Annette remembered an ad she heard on a podcast for a Men’s clothing service in the US called Trunk Club. That conversation started the ball rolling on our business plan and ta dah! LBC is here.

Is there a meaning behind the name?
The name Little Big Crate is all about how our people might be little but their personalities are really big! We want our clothes to reflected their cool, fun, funky selves. And honestly, Little Big Crate rolls off the tongue better than Little Big Cardboard Box!

You currently cover up to 2 year olds, do you have plans to extend this to some bigger sizes in the future?
We are looking to grow with our customers. We plan to extend our range out to 4 year olds in 2016 and eventually get up to 6. Although I have heard from a lot of parents of older kids they want us to go higher than that! I think we will continue to grow where there is demand for our service. Sky is the limit! We are also considering how we might expand into Australia.

It’s a great way for new businesses to get their name out there. Do you work with purely NZ brands? Or off shore brands too?
We work mostly with NZ suppliers who are creating handmade pieces, but we also have some smaller Australian brands. We are happy to bring things in from further afield but we do our research to make sure it is ethically made by people who are being paid a fair wage for their work. We are always in awe of the talented people (mostly women) who are making beautiful clothes right here in NZ. It’s like Christmas when packages arrive and we feel very lucky to be able to share their talent with the world through LBC.

What’s your favourite part about what you do?
Favourite part is probably opening packages and admiring the talent. It’s always a real privilege to be a small brands first wholesale order. We aren’t interested in just ordering and leaving, we want to create lasting relationships and a community of talented people. If a customer wants something we don’t have we will happily pass them onto the supplier so they can get it.

When you’re not busy packing crates, what do you two get up to?
When we aren’t packing crates… Running around with our daughter, making plans to renovate the house we just bought, dreaming about exotic holidays, hanging out with our friends who also have kids and therefore kid friendly houses. When we get evening time to ourselves Melanie happily watches house rules on TV and Annette plays her guitar and dreams of stardom.

To order your own crate, click here. You can also find Little Big Crate on Facebook and on Instagram.

J x

What’s for lunch? + EasiYo Giveaway

I’m always looking for inspiration for toddler food, and I noticed it’s often a common topic on Facebook and other online forums. I’m sure we all have the same struggle – finding healthy + easy to make foods that the toddler will actually eat. Brooklyn started pre-school a few weeks ago and I’ve become a bit more inspired to come up with different food ideas for his lunch box… can’t just whip out 2 minute noodles if I’m lacking in ideas 😉

I thought I’d share some lunch box ideas with you all that Brooklyn is loving right now. For his pre-school lunch, I send him with a Goodbyn Hero lunchbox from And They Lived Green. I really love the size of this bento style lunchbox! The 2 dipper containers that it comes with are super handy, and they’re a great price (even more perfect!). For his drink bottle, he takes a Haakaa stainless steel bottle, Mr. Diva himself requests “cold water from the fridge” and this does a great job of keeping it that way. (Psssst, Global baby has them on sale at the moment too for only $30!)

12662626_10154590870938327_7233761303175900184_n12688107_10154590870983327_2526689336726741506_n

Above is a couple of examples of his lunches. He is right into his cute shaped sandwiches, I got them both from Ali Express (Panda click HERE, teddy bear click HERE), I particularly like these cutters because they seal the edges too – yay no marmite everywhere!! Carrot and cheese sticks are always a winner, fruit, popcorn, Weetbix bites (yes I know they’re for breakfast, but they’re also a good finger snack!), crackers and muesli bars. I asked in a Facebook group for some ideas and I’ve used two already. The first was some pastry scrolls (you could do whatever you like – cheese and tomato paste, I did mince and cheese), and a ‘toddler scroggin’ which consists of Nutri-Grain + dried apricots + cranberries + raisins (not allowed loose nuts at Brooklyn’s pre-school). He really loves the scroggin mix!


I found these cute egg/rice moulds on Ali Express too (yes I’m a bit of an Ali junky!) and made some rice balls filled with tuna, over the weekend. They turned out ultra cute so I’ll be making some more for his lunches! Click HERE for the moulds.

The other lunchbox ‘must have’ in my opinion are Kai Carriers. I have the 140ml ones and they’re perfect for yoghurt and smoothies. They hold about the same amount of yoghurt as a small pottle from the supermarket. But no need to buy those, because I totally understand the whole ‘take your rubbish home’ business – but seriously, there is leftover yoghurt all through the lunchbox! No deal! I’ve been back on the EasiYo band wagon lately and have been making up a batch in our mini maker which perfectly fills four Kai Carriers for the freezer. I alternate smoothie, yoghurt, smoothie for pre-school days, so that he doesn’t get bored. Just grab one out of the freezer in the morning and it’s nice and cool by morning tea/lunch time.  Speaking of EasiYo

12705690_10154590871003327_5627870901824086868_n

We have a mini maker + flavours to giveaway! It’s the perfect size and doesn’t take up heaps of room in the cupboard. We’ve been using ours heaps lately for ice-blocks, and of course for Brooklyn’s lunches. He likes the fruity ones the most. My favourites are the ‘greek with bits’… whatever the ‘bits’ may be, I’m a fan! If you’ve come from Instagram – go back to the photo and tag some friends. If you’ve come from Facebook – do the same over there. You can do it on both for extra entries! Just make sure you tag each friend in separate comments. I’ll combine all the comments on Monday 15th Feb at 11pm and pick a winner from there! The perfect time to get into yoghurt making, if you don’t already – with kindy and school back for the year 🙂

J x