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5 Ways having a Dog is like having a Toddler

I love wee Shabba.

I loved having him here when we used to dog sit for Agent D's dad and now he's our dog, its nice having my furry wee pal around. He just has this happy nature about him that you cant help but smile at. Even people who aren't so keen on dogs are happy to be around Shabba cause he just loves everyone

I've been noticing however, there are some similarities to having a Dog and having a toddler in the house. I've been having flashbacks to when Agent M was a tot and the resemblance is uncanny :)

  • A trip to the toilet is no longer a solo venture. Every time i climb the stairs my furry baby is 2 steps behind. If we're already up the stairs and i manage to sneak out while he's distracted i can guarantee that as soon as my butt touches that toilet seat, his wee head will be poking round the corner.
  • My food should be his food. In the mornings I've been making Agent M and myself toast for breakfast. Shabba loves toast so i have started making him a slice too. I cut his up and put it in his dish. He goes to munch his and as i pick up mine he stops and proceeds to stare me down. Its the EXACT SAME THING HE HAS yet mine just seems to be the one he whimpers to get. Dude, eat your own toast! 
  • He pees and poops ALOT! Oh My God I've never seen such a tiny dog pee so much in my life. On ever walk be go on he must stop to tag every lamp-post, wall or fence. I know that toddlers don't pee on lamp-posts or poop on pavements  but i remember Agent M just to pee like a trooper. Once he was potty trained we were up at the toilet at least twice every hour (quite often just for the tiniest of wee's). Lesson - Small bladders hold ALOT of pee! Even bagging his poop makes me boke ... very reminiscent of changing one of 'those' nappies. *Gag*
  • Tiny people/dogs take up whole beds. Agent M used to climb into my bed when he would prison break his safety gate. I didn't mind too much as i was working so much when he was a tot that i would cherish any time i got with him. Sleeping with him however was like sharing a bed with an epileptic octopus. Arms and legs everywhere! Shabba likes to sleep in bed too and for such a small dog, he takes up a serious amount of space. *I have a Super King size bed to boot*. He also sleeps in the weirdest positions ... and sticks his butt in my face!

  • He loves cuddles. He's such a lovely wee fluff ball and he gets so excited when he gets clapped and when you pick him up for cuddles, the noises he makes is so cute. Rub his belly and you can almost see his eyes rolling in the back of his head. Agent M was such a cuddly tot. He would climb up with a toy or a book and just sit on your knee for ages quite content. Shabba is the exact same. He can lie on your lap happily and just snooze off.
Along with the constant attention seeking, Climbing up on things and playing with noisy toys ... This is gonna be a fun time having a furry baby in the house. Perhaps it will placate my broodiness *Fingers Crossed* :)

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My Random Musings

Chewy Choc Chip Cookies

Do you remember back in February when i was experimenting in the kitchen trying to find the perfect cookie? Well I've been at it again and made another batch ... This time with choc chips (it is the Easter break after all) and i thought i'd share the recipe with you guys again incase you too are looking for the perfect cookie.

You'll Need
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
170g unsalted butter, melted
220g packed brown sugar
100g white sugar
15ml vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 yolk
a bag of chocolate chips
Pinch of salt

To Make
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 2 baking trays or line with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a bowl, then add the salt and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar thoroughly. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

Mix in the reserved sifted ingredients until mixed.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

Scoop a little of the cookie dough onto the trays, remember to leave some space as they will spread.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.

Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

Although these ones were lovely, they still weren't all that chunky (especially when that what the recipe said it would be). I'll keep looking though and keep you posted if i ever find the perfect cookie :)

Silent Sunday - 26/4/15

Gratitude #17

Normality has resumed in the Crafty Household.

Agent M has been back at school a week and I've been back at college. Oh how good it felt to be back into my routine! Its scary to think that I've only got 8 weeks left at college. Its flown right in. Got my fingers and toes crossed i get a place for next year. I love it too much to stop now.
We've had good news on the family front too. Papa has got out the hospital and is slowly but surely making a recovery. Its a scary time when a family member is so ill that they have to go into hospital but thank goodness he's such a tough ol' guy. 

In other news, we have a new addition to the home. Wee Shabba has decided he loves coming to stay for holidays so much that he's gonna stay for good, and we're all excited to have him here. He's such a well behaved wee fluff ball that its hard not to fall in love with him :)
This week I'm grateful for ...
  • Agent D - My gorgeous man bought me a prezzie this week that i really wanted. My own set of Wahl clippers :) I can now cut gents hair as well as ladies in my own time. Here's hoping i can maybe make some money this summer :)
  • My Granny - Now that the schools are back we can meet up again on Tuesday's. Its been weird not seeing her as much over the Easter break. We'll need to work something out for the summer cause i hate not getting my coffee time with her and helping her with shopping.

  • College - I was doing my paperwork at the beginning of the week and I'm really surprised to see how many assessments I've managed to complete. I finished the gents section this week too so I'm so close to completing my course. I only need to get 5 more clients in and (providing i pass them) I'm done! Not bad considering i really didn't think i could cope going back into education as an older student. Its amazing what a little confidence does for you :)
  • The sunny weather - Its been beautiful again and i honestly think that's contributed to my good mood recently. There is something to be said for being able to sit in the sun and see all the beautiful flowers (when you've taken your hay fever tablet that is).

50 things to do before you're 11¾

I've been looking at loads of activities to do over the summer with Agent M when a website from the National Trust popped up ...

50 things to do before you're 11¾

Its quite sad that there are a fair few things on this list that I've not done on this list and i'm nearly 28 but after i let Agent M see the list, he's keen to have a go at ticking off as much as he can before hes 12 (or 11¾ anyway).

He's already done a few at least :)

The website dedicated to the challenge has an app you can download for both IOS and Android which helps you keep track of the challenges you complete and you can get certificates to print out, play games and more.

It'll be fun trying to complete the list, and with 3+ years, we'll have plenty of time :)

Have you taken part in the 50 things challenge? How far did you get?

Styrofoam Print Canvas Bags

Across Scotland, Wales and Ireland you will get charged 5p for a carrier bag. This happens not only in big supermarkets but in little convenience stores, high street stores like primark and even in take-out restaurants like McDonald's. If you want/need a bag, you have to pay (Its being implemented in England from Oct 2015)

So i decided to make lovely decorated bags for when we do a bit of light shopping (I don't recommend these for holding your chips in though).

I forgot just how fun printing was from my school days and to be honest it was alot easier than i remember (but then i was using Styrofoam this time over lino in class).

To make you'll need
Pre-made canvas bags (or you could make your own)
A sheet or two of Styrofoam
a pencil to score the sheets
a plastic tray, sheet of cardboard or a plate
acrylic paint
a sponge
a place-mat or thick cardboard sheet

The size of the design is completely up to you, as is the actual design its self. I opted to half my A4 sheet giving me a smaller design space and wanted a simple image to be transferred. I saw this little robot online and just fell in love so i wanted to re-create it :)

To make the print, i simply drew the picture on the Styrofoam. Leaning hard enough to score the foam but not pierce all the way through. The circles were a little bit harder to get nice and round without ripping the Styrofoam so keep that in mind when your planning your design.

I think it still looks quite cool though :)

Next you need to prepare your bag.

Make sure its a somewhat smooth surface. I know some of the bags that come in wrappers can be really wrinkled and that can alter the finished design so if it is a little on the crinkly side, its best to give it an iron before you add the print (remember to let the fabric cool down first too).

Once your ready to print, Slide the place-mat or cardboard inside the bag to stop the paint leaking through to the back and put a splodge of paint on the tray or plate.

We used an empty cereal box 

Dip the end of the sponge in the paint and gently brush the foam with the sponge till its completely covered. Then carefully lay the print on the bag and press it down all over the back to make sure the image transfers evenly.

See what i mean about the lines in the bag? Lesson learnt for next time!

Once you've printed the design CAREFULLY set it to the side to dry. Leave the cardboard or place-mat inside until the image has completely dried.

Provided you don't damage the sheet of Styrofoam, you can re-use it over and over to make as many bags as you like. I made a set of 4 as Agent M wanted to make one to send to his Auntie and his Granny in England. You can even print it onto paper for a fun picture to stick on the fridge if your really love the design :)

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My Random Musings

Silent Sunday - 19/4/15

Gratitude #16

So the School holidays are drawing to a close and normal service shall resume tomorrow.

Thank goodness for that!

Being very much a creature of habit I've kinda struggled a little with the 2 weeks in that I've not had the chance to do things i normally would were Agent M at school.

I've really missed meeting up with my Granny for our weekly coffee sessions and the house work seems to have doubled over the last few weeks. Probably cause I've been trying to keep him entertained giving me less time to get stuff done. At least I've got to spend some time with him though in between the Lego and Minecraft sessions.

Still though, It will be nice to get back to my routine and back to college :) I've missed getting my assessments finished and interacting with clients.

This week i'm grateful for

  • The NHS - My papa was admitted to hospital at the end of this week and although i feel like crying as i type this, I'm grateful that he is able to go to the hospital and get cared for by the lovely people of the NHS. There is alot going on just now with elections coming up and everyone seeming to slam the service just now but look at if from a different point of view. Most of us couldn't afford to go private as it was and we are so lucky that we have a free service there. I know i couldn't cope if i had to pay nearly £3000 for a stay in hospital if i got sick and i know my grandparents couldn't foot the bill for tests and treatment that my papa is having just now (A quick look online said it would be around $10,000 minimum in the US). We are lucky that we have it there ... at least for now.
  • My phone - This might make me sound so bloody shallow but being able to get in contact with family has been  important this week and having a mobile means i'm not left out of the loop. Plus I've taken so many photos of Agent M this week using my phone. I love being able to take snap shots of him :)
  • The Sunny Weather - the beginning of the week was miserable and rainy so having the sun come out mid week meant we could go to the park, go for walks, go shopping and get some fresh air in about our lungs. I even got a much needed catch up with my Granny. I've really missed her these last 2 weeks.
  • Amazon Prime - While we were stuck in due to the rain, Agent M and i got to have a movie day ... and thanks to Amazon Prime we had alot to choose from. I think Prime has quite possibly been the best £40 I've ever spent. We use all the features from Instant video, Next day delivery and Amazon Cloud to back up my photos meaning i don't have to worry about the SD card going rogue again (although I've got Dropbox too ... canny be too careful). I've recently discovered Kindle Lending library too which means as i have prime, i get to rent a free book a month from them. Great for books i wanna try without having to pay for, only to find i don't like it. 
  • My Kindle - Speaking of Amazon and Kindles ... I've been so grateful for mine this week. With Agent M playing in the park, it can get a bit dull for me. There is only so may times i can watch him go down a slide before i get bored but i want him to enjoy his time so I've been bringing my Kindle along for the ride. He can run about like a nutter as much as he wants and i park myself at the entrance to the play park with my Kindle. I'm there if he needs me and i can get some chapters read while knowing hes safe. I've read 2 books in the space of one week which I've not done since i was pregnant and on bed rest ... high five me lol

Jelly Fluff

I remember when i was wee, we used to go up to my Grans for dinner some times. Dinner was always served at 5pm and there was always desert afterwards. One of my faves was ice-cream (cut from one of those long bars) and some "Muffy jelly" aka ...
It was so delicious and refreshing ... Perfect for an after dinner treat on a sunny spring night ... and its quick and easy to make :)

You'll Need
1 packet jelly
1 cup boiling water
1 tin evaporated milk (chilled)

How to Make
Dissolve the jelly in boiling water and leave until slightly cooler.

Beat the evaporated milk with an electric mixer until thick.

Combine the thickened evaporated milk with the cooled jelly and beat again.

Pour the jelly fluff into individual moulds (or a large dish if you wish) and stick in the fridge until set.

ShoutyKid Review and Giveaway

Agent M loves to read.

He's forever got his head in a book and he was very lucky recently to be given the chance to review the new ShoutyKid book -

This is the second book in the ShoutyKid series by Simon Mayle. The books are aimed at kids aged 8+ and there is a website to go along with the series www.shoutykid.co.uk 

                      Book 1  Available now                  Book 3 due August 2015!

The books are about a young boy called Harry Riddles, His family and his love of Zombies and gaming.

It was really funny judging by the giggles coming from him so we sat down this morning and we went through a wee book review for you all :)

*All words and opinions are his own*
The book was about – the book was about a boy called harry riddles and how he accidentally broke his school by designing a zombie game on the computers.

The book is written like we are looking at his emails and messages between him and family (mostly his cousin Charley). There are also lots of letters to celebrities which is really funny. I liked the one he wrote to Sir Alex Ferguson asking him to help his schools football team.

My favourite character - Harry, Because he was really funny. I thought it was really clever of him to try and make a game and I liked that it was about showjumping horses with zombies riding them because that sounds like a silly but fun game to play.

My favourite part - when he shut down all the computers because the children where even more angry than the teachers that he broke school. I would be angry too if someone broke my school.

I would give it 5 out of 5 because it was a really funny book. 

Now for a treat for your little ones ...

Enter below to win
a copy of the ShoutyKid - How Harry Riddles Mega Massively Broke the School. You have up to 4 chances to win!

The rules are simple ... 

  • Open to UK residents
  • Mandatory entry by following on Twitter and Re-tweeting the post provided
  • Additional entry by giving the Facebook page a personal like and leaving a comment below
  • The giveaway will end at 11.59pm on the 29th April 
  • The winner will be notified the following day :)

Good Luck!

Pocket Money : Yay or Nay

I'm really luck with Agent M.

He's on the whole a well behaved kid (yeah he has his moments but who doesn't). I raised him pretty much on my own from the day he was born with some input from family but on the whole, i think he's turned out to be a well rounded kid considering the tough childhood he had at the beginning.

We have always been a low income family. What we have has been due to help from family or saving out butts off. I've quite happily gone without just so that Agent M never felt he was missing out.

Because times have been tough for us is why i think he is so grounded. He's always been aware that Mama had to leave him to go make pennies from a young age and he knows that its a special treat when we go on our mummy and M dates or he gets to pick a magazine.

He's always jumped at the chance to be a "helper boy" around the house and he's been loading the washing machine and pushing the buttons (with supervision) since he was in nappies. Asking him to clear the table or fetch his dirty washing has never been a problem for him and hes (weirdly) been asking if he can do more around the house like hoover or wash dishes.

This has led me to a bit of a conundrum.

Should he be getting pocket money?

I know there are kids his age that get pocket money in return for doing housework. Yeah, i see the attraction here. Your getting an income for services rendered. But shouldn't they be helping out anyway? I always felt that helping out is what a family done. I would hate to think that Agent M was only wanting to help me to get something out of it but everyone seems to be paying their kids to help.

Am i using Agent M as some kinda slave labour? Should i expect a call from the kiddie union?

I like the idea of Agent M getting pocket money as I've seen what he does with his birthday and Christmas money.

He saves.
This kid, I'm telling you ... he's like a mini adult the way he thinks and he's better than most with his money. Let me explain ...

He got £50 for his birthday last month.
£10 of it went to getting the next 4 how to train your dragon books that he was desperate for (and read in a week) and the other £40 he has put past. He was going to pay for a day out when we go on holiday but i told him that was Mummy's job so he decided to start "saving up for a car" ... A CAR! HE'S 8!

After some discussion with him about how he needs to be 16 to learn to drive before he even thinks about a car, he's decided to save up till he reaches his target of £100. 

Granted i have a sneaky suspicion that the £100 is for a Lego Technic crane hes had his eye on but still ... that's alot of will power for a kid not to blow the money on sweets and Minecraft figures.
He's not daft with his money but is paying him to help out the right way forward? Wont he grow to expect a hand out when i ask him to do something?

How can i get the balance right to teach my son about money without making him feel entitled or spoilt?

Its a head scratcher!

L is for ..

I'm always game for trying a new craft. It doesn't matter if its only a tiny wee tester or a big kit project, I'm game for anything.

Often I'll find myself on the Hobbycraft website seeing whats new and more importantly, whats on offer.

I found a couple of kits down in price so i decided to treat myself and stash them away for when I'm feeling crafty or when the weather is less than favourable. My own rainy day box if you will :)

One such item was a lovely cushion kit that's different from anything I've tried before ...
that's why L is For LATCH HOOK.
As you can see the kit is a Owl design but you can get other ones on the site too. The kit at full price is £10 so even if you cant get it on offer (or with student discount) then its still a good value kit.

It is an ideal kit for a beginner to as the canvas has the pattern printed directly onto it. On the back of the box is a grid similar to cross stitch incase you prefer diagram over a colour guide.

Making the design is really easy ... so much so i figured it would be easier showing you a diagram than complicate it by over explaining :)

You then follow the colours (or pattern) and build up the design. The wool can be fluffed slightly giving the impression its "fuller" so you cant see the canvas behind it.
Its building up slowly but surely as I've been doing a little bit at a time over the last couple of nights. I would recommend you put a band of masking tape around the edges (like you can see in the picture) as the canvas is quite stiff and the edges are a little scratchy when your holding it tight.
I'll be continuing a little each night so with any luck, it will be complete by the end of the Easter break. Agent M has already asked that once I'm done i make it into a cushion for his room so I'll be sure to show you guys the finished piece :)

Have you started any new crafts this holiday? Have you ever tried Latch hooking before?