Friday, July 11, 2014

The Tallest Sunflower Competition

A while back BB and I were asked if we were interested in entering a tallest sunflower competition. We both enjoy playing with dirt and growing things, so we said yes.

At the beginning of May a package arrived containing garden tools, five pots and five seeds.

Sadly we didn't get off to a great start, as four of the five pots were cracked. Still, we found some similar ones in the shed, and a few days later we were given the go ahead to plant our seeds. We then placed them on a sunny windowsill with some tomato seeds we planted a few days earlier.

Then our second misfortune. Only one germinated, and to be fair, it didn't really look very healthy either, but it clung on and we nurtured it as best we could, watering it and turning it around on the windowsill every day until it was ready to plant outside. We planted it out early one morning at the beginning of June, and BB watered it well

This is how our sorry sunflower looks today. Not as tall as BB yet, so I'd estimate it's about 90 cm, and propped up with a stick. I'm guessing we may not be the winners of this competition!

Monday, July 7, 2014

“Can I Help?” — Getting Kids to Help In the Kitchen

Image by Rachel Tayse, used under Creative Commons licence.

Cooking with kids might spell disaster with a capital ‘D’, but, actually, it’s a fun and rewarding experience that teaches kids life skills and raises their awareness about healthy eating. In the fast food- and convenience meal-culture of today, many children grow up without having learned to cook even the most simple of dishes, or with no idea where their food comes from. Getting the kids to take part in meal preparation connects them to the food supply and sets them on the path to healthy eating and self-sufficiency later on in life. Oh and it can also lighten your workload in the kitchen slightly, which is always good!

Some recipes and aspects of cooking obviously aren't suited for small children, such as chopping vegetables and preparing elaborate dishes, but most everyday food has some element children can participate in. Take soup; when making a soup, parents can do all the chopping while the kids can gather the diced and sliced vegetables and heat them up in the soup pot or slow cooker. They can also tear up greens for a salad, and may even enjoy coming to the grocery or market to pick out ingredients. 

If cakes and biscuits are on the agenda, the kids can help to put the measured ingredients into the bowl (maybe they can even measure them out?), stir the batter, grease pans and shape things like cookies. There’s something about the ticking of the timer and the whirring of the oven that makes kids enjoy simply watching the baking process. Let them take light items such as baking trays without the oven — but supervise them while they’re doing it, and most importantly, make sure that they’re wearing oven gloves.

Slow cooker meals are good to make with kids because they allow both parties to take it easy. Prepare the ingredients and start the slow cooker at bedtime, and make it a game to guess what sort of food will be there the next day. Recipes like jams and jellies that require constant stirring provide an excellent way for kids to take part in preparation.

Whether it's a tray of chocolate chip cookies or a stew, there are many ways to involve children in cooking. Getting kids involved in age-appropriate ways teaches them valuable life skills and helps them appreciate all the hard work that goes into making meals. Children are naturally curious and most kids are happy to help in the kitchen. It makes them feel important and useful. As a bonus, many children are more likely to eat their veggies if they had a part in preparing them. No more stressful mealtimes!

For more ideas on how to involve young children in the kitchen see 10 Jobs a two year old can do in the kitchen

This is a collaborative post written by a guest author, exclusively for A Blissful Life

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Fish with The Deep Sea Smile - Book Review

The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile has to be one of our favourites from the Parragon Book Buddies Scheme so far. The illustrations are awesome - we love the colours and the style. The text is also one of the best we have had. Simple words which rhyme and repeat, ideal for a young child learning to read. They also flow well, giving the book a certain rhythm that makes it a pleasure to read and listen to.

In summary, it is a tale of a a small family who are fishing. They are looking for a particular fish - the one with the deep sea smile. They fish and they fish, and they catch lots of fish. Fish with all sorts of different features, but not the one with the deep sea smile. They don't give up though, they carry on fishing, and finally they catch their fish. He smiles his deep sea smile and the hook comes free...

A lovely tale. I would definitely recommend this one.

Disclaimer: This book was received free of charge for the purpose of this review as part of the Parragon Book Buddies Program. All opinions are our own.