Sunday, 15 December 2019

Young Children Toy Present Guide 2020


The older they get the more fun toys get for grown ups too, I think the big difference I noticed at this age is they start to play with more toys that are group activities such as board games, building toys and also are able to use electronic or learning toys more effectively.

3- 4 Years


1)Orchard Games - these are so fun and easy to play. They encourage turn taking, sharing and are great for the whole family to get involved.

2)Board Games - for this age group some of my favourites are hungry hippo and tumbling monkeys.

3)Junior lego - Lego is always a classic, I particularly like this set that comes in its own carry case, easy to store and take along with you when playing outside the home.

4)Dressing Up Outfits

5)Magnetic Tiles - these are cheaper than the branded ones but work exactly the same.

6)Meccano Junior

7) Mellisa and Doug - my love continues for these toys as they develop with the child as they grow.

4- 5 Years

1)Guess Who - more complicated board games such as this, operation and Orchard Games also do older versions


2) Memory Games - lots of versions of this card game exist but its always a fun one, and one I normally lose at too. Other simple card games include snap too.

3)Spirograph - Building on their drawing skills, and who doesnt remember creating endless mandelas using this.

4) Digital Camera - they do great kids version, but we just gave my oldest an old Digital Camera which he loved using to capture moments.

5) PJ Masks - this also the time they will have a strong preference for any toys that are their favourite character, I think these are great for encourage story telling and imaginative play.




6)Maths Cubes - I shared these recently in a post as I just love them, small enough to travel with, larger than lego and so many uses.


5- 6 Years

1)Hatchimals - our house has been taken over by these tiny little cute plastic figures

2)Aquabeads - great for fine motor skills and creativity, the tiny beads are a bit annoying but easily hoovered up, I have ordered this on repeat for so many birthdays now.

3)Lego  - finally the age when they can build, play and design their own lego toys, and for parents the pain on stepping on these tiny pieces of plastic.

4)Ipad - Kindle fire etc, I think electronic devices can be useful, we put off getting one until he turned 5 just out of personal perference, it does have some great learning resources and also obviously kids youtube.

5)LOL Dolls

6) Powerrangers

7)Guitar - musical instruments

8) Any toys they have seen unboxed on you tube, as this is not the generation who watches tv adverts or flicks through the argos catalogue.







 For younger children see my links below:

Babies

Toddlers

Toddler Present Toy Guide 2020





Following on from my post for suggested Baby presents, find my continue list below for toddlers. The age at which they become mobile, begin to have opinions and show a preference for their own opinions, interests and often favourite characters.


In terms of toys, its also a great age as I feel they finally begin to engage in play with others around them, rather than merely showing a slight interest in the objects you place in front of them.


You get to watch them get attached to the most random items, and also have some much fun playing with the same toy over and over.

1 - 2 Years

1) ScuttleBug - We recieved this as a present and both of mine loved it, also folds up so easy to store, or place in the boot of the car, any ride on including small cars, balance bikes etc encourage movement and a way to learn to use your legs in another way.

2)RolePlay Toy - Pushchairs, cooking toys, pretend fruit and veg, any real life items they see you using they will love, as suddenly they no longer see themselves as babies and can show you how independent they are. I always get asked about this pushchair when it appears on my stories, its actually my sons, who recieved it as his present from his little sister when she was born. Really good quality and can even take the weight of my 2 year old ( obviously not recommend or part of the health and safety testing ).



3) LeapFrog interactive toys - This icecream cart is so fun, younger kids can just use it as a roleplay toy and as they get older are able to listen to instructions, use counting skills and encourage teamwork when playing with friends, we orginaly saw it on a playdate at a friends and the kids love it, even when its not ice cream weather.

4)Duplo Lego - Always a great present, can be added to an existing collection or the start of a brand new one, even older kids love going back to the larger bricks. I recently used it on an activity table at my daughters 2nd birthday and it was more the 5 year olds that were playing with it than the 2 year olds.

5) Coluring Pencils - These crayons are fab, always take them with us when eating out or going away, no need to sharpen and provide endless hours of essential mark making skills

6)Wooden Puzzle - Mellisa and Doug do great quality wooden toys and puzzles, again they stand the test of time and are still in perfect condition to be passed down to younger cousins. This threading activity is lots of fun to and helps with shape recongnition.


2- 3 Years

1) Dyson Hoover - maybe because they always watching you clean up after them, but kids just love this, one of the first toys to cause a fight.

2) Toy Kitchen - Even more roleplay toys, I love them and so do my kids, we have now moved this upstairs into the nursery and sometimes at weekends the kids will wake up and go off and play for 20 minutes giving us an extra lie in. They both still love cooking in it. Any role play toys I think are great, but the hoover, pushchair, kitchen and supermarket till are our most used.



3)MagnaDoodle - I have larger and smaller travel versions of these for drawing on the move without any of the mess, also similiar to the Aquadoodle.

4) Plastic Animals - We have a huge box of plastic animals collected over the years, great for scene building, encourage questions about the environment and world. Now that my oldest is 5, he has watched a few nature documentries, recently the one about sharks and recongnised so many from his plastic shark collection.

5)Playdoh - Even though I kind of hate the stuff for the mess it leaves and that sickly smell, there is no doubting its awesome ability to keep them quiet for a long time. Although I am guilty of sending most of the playdoh presents we recieve to my parents for them to play with them there ..... on their cream carpet.

6) Scooter - building on the ride ons, a bigger present for sure but you can get cheaper alternatives and its perfect to encourage their confidence and spend time outdoors.

7) Character Preference  - This is also around the time they begin to show a preference for a favourite character or tv programme so its always worth asking what they are into the most at the moment.


I hope you found these useful and if you are looking for other age groups check out my links belows:

Babies

Young Children

Baby Present Toy Guide 2020





To be honest with you all, most of the children I know, mine included are very lucky when it comes to toys in the sense that they all have more than they could ever need or want. So I am always hesitate when it comes to buying toys as a present. My first choice is normally clothes and books, as those you can never have too many off. For all my nieces and nephews I just buy pajamas at Christmas, and I will continue to do this until they tell me to stop, and for me books just continue to give and give, even when they are get older and they reread a story from when they were younger they still love it, our bookshelves are bursting and that is just the way I like them. Even when they get doubles of books I just leave one at my parents so you can never go wrong gifting someone the joy of paper.


However, even when I was a child there was nothing like unwrapping a toy for your birthday or at Christmas, so as much as I may love clothes and books, I know that most children would much rather have toys.


I had this discussion a few days ago with my Mum, who said the kids have way too many toys. Which they do have, but I also know that these days are short, as much as the mess drives me crazy and I love to close the door to the playroom, I also know that the days they will spend on computer games or playing with their phones up in their bedrooms is also not that far away. So let them be little and play with all the toys they can manage.


So below are some of the toys I find myself purchasing again and again for all the new additions in our friends and family and for the manyyyyyy birthday parties we spend our time attending. I always get asked what the kids would like or need and sometimes it is so hard to answer so I hope this list can provide a starting point for you all. Most of the toys below are the more simpler classic ones, as I find my kids return back to these again and again even at the age of 5 and 2, I have tried to include the toys that have withstood the test of time, please click the links to see images and examples of where to purchase.


0 - 3 Months



1) Baby Black and White Book - As they can only see in black and white initially this is great to give them something to focus on for the short time they are awake for, also sometimes you do not know how to entertain them when they are so young so at least you feel like you are doing something useful.

2) Rattle - I love this rattle as its soft and with a great musical bell to get babies attention and encourage gentle head movements.

3)Links - I am not sure the official name for these but they are so versatile, great for attaching toys to highchairs in restaurants, baskets on planes, car seats, and as toys within themselves.

4) Baby Mobile - Great for attaching to cribs, Moses baskets or jungle gyms to give babies something more stimulating to look at and follow, although I still do not know any babies who fall asleep to it, more playtime.

5) Personalised Items - My favorite shop for this is My 1st years, blankets, clothing, gowns, toy trains, toy boxes, basket etc are always a lovely present for a newborn and they all come beautifully gift wrapped.

3-6 Months


1)Lamaze toys - My kids had sooo many of these by the time they both turned one, however they are great and I passed them on happily to the new babies in our family as they last really well. Colourful, fun and with lots to catch their attention.

2)Floor Tiles - Lots of fun designs to choose from now, these are great as babies become more mobile and begin to situp and try to explore their surroundings.

3)Tummy Time Roller - I am yet to meet a baby who loves doing tummy time, I guess its a bit like adults and sit ups, so this tries to make it more fun, you do not actually use these for that long, so I do not feel you need to spend a lot on them but they do help make the process less painful for both babies and parents.

4)Sophie - Teething Toys - I love Sophie, but any type of teething toy at this age makes a great present, to help soothing those gums.



5)Baby Maracas - I have lost count how many of these baby musical shakers I have ordered, they make great party bag fillers for younger guests and perfect for little hands to grip.

6- 12 Months


1)Building Blocks - My kids have these exact ones, a present from over 4 years ago and they are still going strong, so many uses from alphabet learning, building forts and towers to practicing finer motor skills.

2)Stacking Rings - Another wooden toy that both of mine will still pull out and take apart and then put back together using team work skills.

3)Tomy Eggs  - I remember buying these when my oldest was around 6 months from the local supermarket for £5, inflation I have found has increased the prices over the years but still one of my favourite presents to buy for babies. My kids still play with it, trying to match the colours and shapes as they get older.





4) Pull- along Toys - Great to help with crawling and cruising at this age.

5) Musical Tables - Perfect for cruisers and to encourage standing, both of mine walked fairly early on, partly as they spent most of their time playing with similar tables to these,  the exact ones they had are no longer available.


To check out ideas for toddlers and older children see my links below:

Toddlers

Young Children

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Indian Biscotti - Cardamom, Pistachio and Almond Cake Rusks

Indian Biscotti Aka Cake Rusk


Happy Diwali to all of those celebrating today, festivals and celebrations are always the perfect time to reminisce about past times. All the traditional things you have grown up doing and all the new traditions you create for your own family.


We don’t celebrate Diwali in a huge way, but try to always go to the Gurudwara to light a candle and spend the rest of the day eating with family. The kids aren’t really into fireworks, happier at the moment to watch them from behind the window.


These biscotti are a posher version of the traditional indian cake rusks you can purchase from indian grocers and most mainstream supermarkets now. I grew up eating so many of these, especially when visiting my grandparents house, always dipped into a cup of tea.


Ingredients 

115g Stork
115g Caster Sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
125g Plain flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp cardamom 
25g Pistachios
25g Almonds


Method

1.Preheat the oven to 160c fan and grease a 8inch x 8inch tin.
  1. Cream together the stork and sugar in a stand mixer for around 4 minutes.
  2. Peel the almonds and pistachio and chop coarsely.
  3. Whisk the eggs and add in, mix for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the vanilla
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and cardamom in.
  6. Add in nuts and place into baking tray smoothing out the top. 
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack 
  9. Slice into 4inch by 1/2 inch slices 
  10. Turn oven down to 150C fan.
  11. Arrange cake slices onto a baking tray and bake for a further 20 minutes. 
  12. Cool and enjoy, best served with Masala Chai







Thursday, 24 October 2019

Chocolate Baklava Cupcakes



Spiced Chocolate Baklava Cupcakes with Cinnomon and Honey Filo Buttercream


I present to you all a warming spiced chocolate sponge filled with a baklava filling, melted chocolate and topped with a cinnamon and honey buttercream. For the final touch a sprinkle of crushed pistachios and adorned with honey filo pastry shards. 


The cupcake of dreams ..... 


This is not one of my quick, get the kids involved bakes, it has 4 separate stages. It will make a lot of dishes and a lot of mess in your kitchen .... but your first bite will be worth it.


Sweet, spicy, rich, nutty, creamy, sticky, crunchy and delicious all mixed into one.


Perfect to make over the coming festive season to show a loved one just how much you care about them. 


To save time, I cheated and used a ready mix for the chocolate cupcakes, you could do the same or make this mixture from scratch too using a basic 12 chocolate cupcake recipe. 


The mix I used is from https://wrightsbaking.co.uk/shop/chocolate-fudge-2/, a really high quality chocolate mix without that rubbery texture that you often get with ready made mixes.

Ingredients 

Cupcakes
1 packet wrights Chocolate mix
200ml Water
60ml Vegetable Oil
1 tsp ground Cinnamon 
1 tsp ground Cardamon
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Filling
50g Walnuts
50g Pistachios
2 tbsp Caster sugar
1 tsp ground Cinnamon 
50g Milk chocolate
20g Dark chocolate

Topping 
125g Icing Sugar
110g Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
30g Pistachios

Garnish
2 sheets of Filo pastry 
15g Unsalted butter
2 Tbsp Honey


Makes 12 
Preheat oven to 170fan or Gas mark 5 

Method:

  1. Pour out cake mix into a bowl, add cinnamon, cardamon, water, oil and vanilla. 
  1. Whisk by hand until smooth.
  1. Place 12 muffin liners in a muffin tray.
  1. Using an ice cream scoop divide mixture equally.
  1. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
  1. Cool on a cooling rack completely

7.Whilst they are cooling, in a food processor whizz together the walnuts, pistachios, sugar and cinnamon.


8.Melt the milk and dark chocolates down.
9.Reset over to 160/ gas mark
 10.Melt the butter
11.Place out sheets of filo and brush until fully covered with the melted butter
12.Cook for 20 minutes, allow to cool. 
13.Once cool drizzle with honey.
14.Once cakes are cool, core the centre using an apple corer, or I used a pastry tip.
15.Place a small amount of the nut mixture, followed by melted chocolate and topped with more nut mixture until the core is filled again.




16.In a stand mixer combine unsalted butter, icing sugar, cinnamon and honey and mix on a high speed for 4-5 minutes.
17.Place into a piping bag




18.Pipe buttercream onto the cupcake.
19.Crush the remaining pistachios and sprinkle over.
20.Break filo pastry into shards and insert into buttercream for the final touch. 


Saturday, 19 October 2019

Crispy Onion, Courgette Potato and Spinach Pakoras

Crispy Onion, Courgette, Spinach And Potato Pakoras






This is the second time I am writing up this post, the first entry I used an app for and guess what it alll deleted just before I posted it, so I will try and take a deep breathe and attempt this all again in my trusty simple and basic Notes App.

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of these mini pakora bites and my DMs blew up not only for the recipe but also for what I used to cook them in.

Well the secret behind them ...... is an appe/appam/paniyaram/Dutch pancake pan.


My mum brought mine from India, but you can just as easily order one from amazon, or try local Indian shops in Wembley and southall. 


I first saw this at my wonderful neighbours house, who made me delicious idli bites. Which I have tried to recreate along with sabudana( tapioca pearls) bites in the past. Another great recipe for this festive time of year, vegan and gluten free that you can find on my grid. 


The main reason I love this pan, is it gives the same effect of deep frying Indian food, without actually doing so. Despite how much I love the taste of fried food, I very rarely deep fry because:

  1. It’s unhealthy

  2. The smell

  3. I’m too scared of a huge pot of oil exploding on me

The pan is also great for baby led weaning recipes as the bite size pieces are perfect for little hands to hold, my kids love crunchy mashed potato bites made it in. 

So without further ado, please see below for this long awaited recipe.


Ingredients 


1 onion finely sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced 
1 courgette finely grated
2 small potatoes finely grated 
3 cups of spinach finely chopped
Small handful of corriander finely chopped
1 green chilli finely chopped (remove if for kids)
1 inch of ginger grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp dry mango powder
1 tsp ajown seeds
5 tbsp Gram Flour
1 tbsp Corn Flour
3 tbsp of Oil to cook
1/2 tsp chaat masala

Method


1.Chop, slice and grate all the ingredients and combine with spices and flour
2. The water from vegetables should be enough to mix the flours in to form a batter but if too dry add a splash of water


3. Heat a small amount of oil in each hole in the pan





4.Add a heaped teaspoon of the mixture to each hole 



5.Allow to cook for a few minutes on a medium heat before using a chopstick to flip it over and cook the underside

6.Serve with chutney/ketchup and enjoy whilst still hot and crispy, sprinkled with chaat masala.  





Sunday, 22 September 2019

Tel Aviv with Toddlers - Part 5 - Restaurants

The main places were we ate during our trip to Tel Aviv:


1.Halevantini - @halevantini. 


A delicious no fuss, traditional Israeli fast food shop. We shared a huge platter of meat, rice, chips and bread with all you can eat pickles served by the side of the till.

2.Nonno Angelo - https://www.nonnoangelo.co.il 

When you need something a little different from the local cuisine and that you know will keep the kids happy. Really enjoyed both the pasta and pizza here and they were great with accommodating the kids too. 




Thats my girl


3. Falafel Gabay - https://www.facebook.com/FalafelGabay/


Another great quick street food establishment, always busy and with food to back it up. Mainly serves hot fresh Falafel but the meat options and desert was also great.





4.Olive Korner 


I loved my main, especially the dressed rocket with the lamb kofte, the kids meal however was really disappointing with a very tasteless tomato sauce on the pasta.



5. The old man by the sea


Very much a tourist trap but worth a mention, significantly more expensive than other restaurants. As soon as you sit down around 30 salads are presented to you, and if you dare to finish one it will be refilled, so a lot of food wastage. Everything here is about minimum spend per person including the children and huge upsetting on large seafood. The prawns and fish we shared were tasty but compared to the more local homely places the vibe here was just completely different. Good views but would not recommend it.








Desert Places:


1.Topya 

Create your own frozen yoghurt, the only difference being all the toppings are included from a self serve buffet. Means self control is the name of the game to avoid overloading your frozen yoghurt. The kids loved the freedom and number of choices available.


















2.Tamara 

Lots of healthy lollies, acai bowls and yoghurt options.



Check out the other posts in this Tel Aviv Travel Series:

1.Tel Aviv Travel Diary
2.Beaches of Tel Aviv
3.Toddlers in Tel Aviv
4.Brunch in Tel Aviv
5.Parks in Tel Aviv