Half-term happiness and baking experiments...

Dinosaur-boy returned to nursery a day earlier than Zebra-girl after our week off and so today, after we'd walked him to nursery, we scurried home to get started on the doll's quilt that Zebra-girl had already picked out the fabrics for. Last night after the choosing had taken place I spoke to my mother on the phone and told her what Zebra-girl's sewing plans were. When I revealed that her fabric choices revolved around greens, yellows and blues she instantly congratulated me, for she knew that it would have cost me dearly not to have forced a plethora of pinks and reds upon the little dear. It worked in Zebra-girl's favour that I have been reading Soule Mama's book 'The Creative Family', the gist of which is to allow your child to express their own creative choices. So although things might not look the way I would initially have liked them to, Zebra-girl is delighted with her completed quilt and it is all the sweeter to look at knowing that something in each of those fabrics specifically appealed to her sense of taste (and just in case you were thinking we'd found some common ground with the pink fleecy backing...that was agreed to purely because of a lack of any other suitably soft material being to hand).

My children seem to stay the same for a very long time and then quite suddenly enter a period of rapid change...after a year of only agreeing to sit down at a table long enough to create pictures comprised of no more than 7 straightish lines, Dinosaur-boy has quite suddenly begun to spend hours at a time drawing intricate worlds, dinosaurs and trains. I can't tell you how unexpected and delightful it is to find him surrounded by papers and pens, too busy with finishing one last detail on a picture to join us for tea.

No amount of asking Dinosaur-boy to pick out letters on the front cover of the books we read, or playing with fridge magnets has previously ignited a desire in him to learn the alphabet though....it was only when I came across a long-forgotten book of dinosaur letter puzzles on the shelf that I saw how dramatically different his response to it was...it was like a penny dropping for me and I suddenly became aware of how differently, with my children at least, girls and boys are motivated in their learning. While Zebra-girl's eagerness to draw, read, learn and create was so intrinsic to her very being that the subject matter of these things was completely secondary, with dinosaur-boy that is reversed.

With this in mind I spent a couple of evenings scouring Amazon with some of his unspent birthday gift vouchers and eventually found The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and Ralph Masiello (pictured above and below). What an amazing book this is...a dinosaur for every letter with just the kind of information about each that he will love.

I also ordered a couple of the Kumon books that Ali had written about using with her son. Looking through them I can see exactly why they might hold an appeal for a small boy.

We have also been experimenting with some baking over the last few days. Every week we spend so much money on putting things from the wonderful, sugarless Organix range into lunchboxes, that I thought we might have a go at creating our own version. This is the recipe (after some trial and error) that we eventually settled on:

Zebra & Dinosaur Sugarless Carrot Cakes:

2oz butter
3 generous tablespoons of honey
8 oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A huge amount of ground nutmeg and mixed spice (be generous and then double it!)
3 carrots finely grated
1 peeled and diced apple
1 very large (think man-sized) handful of sultanas
2 free-range eggs
Large muffin cases

1. Melt the butter and honey together (zebra-girl's first time standing over the stove in the making of the final version!) and then remove from the heat.
2. After sifting together the baking powder, flour, nutmeg and mixed spices, stir them into the melted butter and honey mixture.
3. Add the eggs and stir
4. Finally mix in the grated carrots, diced apples and sultanas
5. Distribute between 10 large muffin cases (one for each day of the school week for both children)
6. Cook in the oven at about 180, until your knife comes out clean (around 20 minutes).

My children love them and our half-term visitors didn't seem to vocalise any awareness that their cakes were part vegetable...but does the 3 tablespoons of honey render these too unhealthy to be eaten on a daily basis? I'm still pondering on that.


  1. Carrot and apple - yum! Must try these. Although I'm not sure my kitchen muse is smiling on me this week.

  2. I love your son's drawings...they're magic. I'm still waiting patiently for Tommy - we're just reaching faces and bodies but it only lasts 5 minutes! Well done for letting your daughter choose her fabric, it is hard to let these things go sometimes isn't it?!

  3. a fascinating journey...and the creative family book looks great. was z-girl pleased with her finished project?

    hoping to try out the muffins for 2 sweet toothed adults here : )

  4. The carrot and apple muffins sound delicious, I must try to make some this week. I also love Zebra girls quilt.

  5. There is something so very cute and vulnerable about the sight of a child's hand determindely clutching a pen. So sweet.

    Love the cake recipe PFlorence. We make parsnip cake here which is my eldest son's absolute favourite xx

  6. Beautiful doll quilt, and lovely drawings by dinosaur-boy! It's lovely to watch them developing such amazing artistic skills - drawing is my little girl's obsession at the moment too.
    Must try your recipe for carrot and apple muffins - they look lovely.


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