Perfectly Pretty Pebbles!

After a recent trip to the seaside, we seemed to come home with what felt like, half the beach!!?  A handful of the ‘best’ stones we’ve kept but the others, well, I was told under no circumstances were they NOT to be thrown away!

So, what to do with these stones? Isla loves a bit of colouring and generally decorating anything seems to always be a favourite hobby!  So out came the pens and pencils and these were the results.  Not necessarily the prettiest or cleverest of designs but Isla loved creating them and using pencil meant they could be rubbed out and decorated all over again.

Paints are a great way of decorating stones and pebbles too and a clear varnish over the top will keep them looking lovely and shiny.  There are some great ideas and some are so very detailed.  For a selection of paints, look here…

stone1    stones   stoneLadybirds

 

How lovely are these.  The owls and ladybirds are so pretty and the dominoes are a fantastic idea.

For larger stones or small rocks, how about a cute fairy house?  You could make a little village maybe?

Such a cute idea that will keep them entertained for ages 🙂

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Cheese & Corn Mini-Scones

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With school starting again in September, I’ve been thinking a lot about packed lunches!

I HATE making packed lunches and it’s been 2 years since I’ve done it so I’m finding myself dreading it again.  I just get so bored of making the same ham sandwiches day in, day out and I’m sure Isla must get bored of eating the same things all the time.

So, in a quest to try and liven things up a bit and keep those lunchboxes exciting, I’ve been thinking about healthy alternatives to the sandwich.

The other day, we made these lovely cheese and sweetcorn mini scones.  At first Isla was not keen on the idea, but she couldn’t resist a bit of baking so succumbed!

   

They really are ever so easy to make;

Ingredients:

  • 175g (6oz) whole-wheat flour
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 50g (2oz) butter, chilled
  • 50g (2oz) grated mature cheese
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) sweet corn, canned, in natural non-sweetened or salt juice
  • 150ml (1/4pt) semi-skimmed milk
  • Egg and milk to glaze
  1. Mix the flour and the baking powder together in a large bowl
  2. Add the butter and rub into the flour, until resembles fine crumbs
  3. Add the cheese and sweetcorn and mix again
  4. Add the milk and combine together to form a soft dough
  5. Turn onto a floured surface and roll out until about 3cm (just over 1in) thick – cut out using either a mini cutter or a glass with a diameter of about 4cm (1 3/4 in) – this made about 28 mini-scones
  6. Place on a greased baking tray, glaze with egg and milk and cook in a preheated oven 230°C / 450°F / Gas 8 for about 10 mins until well risen and golden brown

As you can see, we made an assortment of sizes to try out the best.  The small was too small and the largest were probably a bit big so the middle sized ones definitely worked best.  They were delicious warm and Isla loved them without butter but personally I’d prefer a little (or a lot) of butter on mine!

For other great, healthy alternatives to sandwiches, have a look here; http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/pictures/29229/30-packed-lunch-ideas

If you have any packed lunch ideas, I’d really be delighted to hear about them.

Creative Thank You’s!

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July is a busy time for us.  We have Isla’s birthday, family birthdays and of course the end of term.

Isla had a wonderful birthday, a pamper party with 9 of her school friends.  They had mini manicures, pedicures, a little make up and then their hair done.  Many thanks to Nicky’s Beauty Box for all your help.

IMG_6215They all had a fantastic time, lots of girly giggles!  Isla received some wonderful birthday presents from her friends and at the weekend we made some thank you cards.

It’s easy to buy thank you cards but on searching the internet, there are so many wonderful designs that are so easy to create.  Luckily, we had all the necessary bits and pieces, (card, brown paper, glue and pom poms) and it was fun to make them together.  I had the job of cutting and Isla loved doing all the sticking…..  Pretty impressive I think!?

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On the subject of thank you cards, I was invited to a wonderful, ‘thank you assembly’ at school this morning.  The whole school get together and invite all the adult/parent helpers. Each year perform a lovely song and then hand out their beautifully creative thank you cards.  Isla brought mine over to me which was so lovely and it really is so brilliant.  A fabulous idea and a treasure I shall keep.  THANK YOU……

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Scrunchable Holiday Packing!

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Having just returned from a lovely holiday in Crete, this dismal, dreary weather is really not very welcome in our household!

Why is it that when you get home you find yourself saying, ‘oh gosh, only 24 hours ago and we were sitting by the pool/eating in that beautiful taverna/enjoying that ice cold beer on our balcony?’  Maybe it’s just me that does that and having been home 6 days, it’s slightly wearing off but I’m still rather ‘post holiday blue’.

All the excitement leading up to the holiday, you get the suitcases out, buy the suncream, and pack all the essential, (and not so essential) items.

Generally, I say no to packing beach/pool toys, lilos etc.  They take up so much room and seem so cumbersome and yet when you arrive on your long awaited holiday, you remember just how horrifically expensive they are to buy – again!!

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So, when I saw the ‘Scrunch’ Bucket and Ball I thought I’d give them a go. They’ve proved a brilliant success. Packing them was a breeze, they’re so squashy, they fit almost anywhere.

The ball comes with a straw to inflate and two stoppers.  Once inflated it’s a great ball that floats, bounces and yet is light and easy to catch.

 

There were many balls around our pool, the usual inflatable ones that you blow up were difficult to play with as the wind changes their direction.  The other plastic ones were just a bit too heavy.  Our Scrunchie ball was perfect.  Coming home, it was easy to deflate and re-pack.

The Scrunchie bucket was also a great idea.  We didn’t use it in the conventional sense as we didn’t go on the beach but it was fab by the pool and in the evening it doubled as a ‘basket ball type’ game.  We attached the handle to a coat hanger, hung it from our outside light and voila, throw anything into the bucket and see who gets the most ‘catches’.

So, I think 10 out of 10 for these products, they’re great quality and perfect for packing. Just a little bit of advice, check you have paid for baggage on your airline ticket.  Clever old me didn’t!!!  5am and the lovely BA lady tells me we only have hand luggage tickets. Ouch, that was money spent before we’d gone anywhere!?

FullSizeRender (5)  bucket roll

Happy Fathers Day!

So, it’s a grey and rainy day and I have a very bored, irritable, tired, (shall I go on)? 6 year old to entertain.  It’s not a lot of fun and we’ve been bickering which really isn’t nice.

With Fathers Day in a couple of weeks I thought it may be fun to make some Fathers Day cards.  I love a card and could spend ages choosing, reading all the funny ones and wanting to buy them all.  It never ceases to amaze me though, the cost of a lovely card and also how fun it is to make one and even more so, how lovely it is to receive a hand made card by the person who’s sent it to you.

I have an auntie who hand makes all of her birthday cards.  She remembers every one of us and I have honestly lost count as to how many grandchildren, great grandchildren and now, great great grandchildren she has, and yet, every year, without fail, myself and my own children get hand made cards from her.  She obviously loves doing it, but I’m always really touched to receive one, knowing it’s been made for me.  So thank you Auntie Ann xx

Isla and I Googled, (what on earth would we do without Google)? hand made cards and settled on two designs.  A lion (yes, that is a lion) and pirate themes.

IMG_5909With card, paint, a black pen and wiggle eye, we set about making them.  I have to say, I find this really quite tricky.  My OCD wants to take over, take control and actually make these cards myself.  I want them to be perfect, exactly as I would do them.  After our fractious afternoon already, I tried soooo hard to let Isla do them as she wanted.  The last thing I wanted was more tantrums.  (Hence the lion being, well, maybe not as ‘lionish’ as I’d have wished for)!

All in all I think they are rather lovely and I’m sure Daddy will love that Isla has made these for him, all by herself, with love.

Happy Fathers Day xx

Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Ideas…

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With the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations being organised and half term upon us, it seems that any rainy days could be spent creating some majestic masterpieces!

I imagine that most towns, villages and schools up and down the country, (and indeed far further afield), will be celebrating in their own way.  There are so many great creative ideas for making, painting, sticking and generally having fun, there really is no excuse not to get involved!

IMG_5681Bunting is so easy to make and looks really effective when hung up, Isla and I made some a few weeks ago.  If you missed it, have a look here…..

Colouring is always fun and a great way to decorate and fill those grey, not for playing outside days.  There are some great colouring pages to print off here….

Our favourites are; 90th Candles, Royal Carriage, A Crown

What about pencil control and tracing practice, they’re covered too, all in the Royal Birthday theme; Horse Parade Pencil Control, Learn to draw a corgi, Queen and corgi maze or a Queen mask?

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How about some life size cutouts?  The Queen, Princes, Princesses, there are so many ideas. Add gems, crowns, feathers, tissue paper, hours of fun and some fabulous creations in the making.  Plus, they’d all make fantastic decorations for bedrooms, corridors and classrooms.

people shapesWhatever you choose to do, as long as there’s plenty of mess and gooeyness, everyone will have fun.  You can’t beat a bit of paint and glitter glue!!

Summer….Really? (Rainy day ideas, just in case)!

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Do you recognise this look of sheer boredom?  I know I do.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said, ‘but you’ve a bedroom full of toys and games, go outside in the garden, what about a film?’ etc etc.

However, rain in the holidays is no fun and when it goes on and on it can be hard to keep them entertained.  So, with that in mind, here’s a list of ideas for rainy day fun;  (Any you have that are not listed, please do let us know, the more the merrier)….

pizzaPizza Picnic – Lay out pizza bases or pitta bread along with lots of ingredients, (grated cheese, chopped peppers, ham pieces, sliced tomatos etc) and get the children and their friends to decorate them. Once they’ve finished, pop them in the oven and lay a rug or picnic blanket down with some paper plates and cups. Children will love devouring their home-made creations and eating with their fingers.

Good Old Fashioned Card Games – Get the deck of cards out and teach them some original card games.  We spent hours playing; rummy, snap, sevens, go fish etc.  Even clock patience and games to play alone were such good fun.

spoonsPuppet Show – Get the dressing up outfits out, make some puppets and give the children say 30 minutes to make up a show.  Then they can set the scene, set up chairs, maybe even make some interval drinks and snacks.  My girls have always loved doing this and it makes up hours of rainy day fun.

Hair & Beauty Salon – Hand over your make-up bag (with your favourite’s hidden away first!) and let the children play beauticians. You may end up looking rather frightful but if it keeps them busy and they enjoy it, who cares?! All you need is a bag full of make-up, nail varnishes, some hair accessories and a mirror, and the creative opportunities are endless…

face paintingFace Painting – Face paints are brilliant and great for a rainy afternoon.  Why not create fun faces for the children and then let them paint your face!  Maybe a surprise and then you have to guess what you are?

 

 

cress headsCress Heads – Get some dried-out egg shells or empty yoghurt pots and let your child use pens to create funny faces on the surface. Fill  with damp cotton wool and cress seeds and pop them on a sunny window-sill. Over the next few days watch their crazy cress hair start to grow!  Yummy in an egg sandwich too!

IMG_4941Shoe Box Creations – Make shoe box scenes and creations. From miniature dolls’ houses, train stations and bird boxes to airports, swimming pools and zoos, there are stacks of ideas that will make great projects – all you need are some crafts materials, lolly sticks, paints and glue.  We’ve made a bed for a cuddly toy and a dance studio, hours of fun!

Old Drawing Games – The likes of ‘hangman’, ‘battleships’, ‘noughts and crosses’ word searches and ‘dot to dot’ might be associated with boring car journeys but on rainy afternoons, they make perfect activities. All you need is a pad and a couple of pens and you’re ready to start.  We love ‘squiggles’.  You draw a squiggle on a pad, only one single pen mark, (no on and off the paper) and then the next person has to make a drawing out of it.  Everyone has a go and the best drawing is the winner.

There are countless indoor activities but we hope that these have got your thinking heads on.  We’d love to hear about your ideas and favourites.  As the summer holidays loom, I for one will be desperate for ideas!

Delightful Daisy Chains…

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Today has been just a beautiful, early summer day.  Sitting here typing my laptop screen is hard to see with the late sunshine reflecting on it.  I don’t care though, I’m definitely NOT going to complain!!

A colleague’s little 2 year old picked some daisies today and they were just lovely sitting in a glass of water.  I think most children must have picked daisies, haven’t they?  Such pretty flowers.

It got me thinking about when I was young.  My Nanny, (that’s my grandma, we didn’t have a ‘real’ nanny), spent hours with us, sitting under the trees in the garden making daisy chains.  She spent ages, patiently teaching us how to choose the perfect daisies, splitting the stems with our nails and carefully connecting them all together.  It was such great fun, making; necklaces, bracelets and headbands.

So today, Isla and I went home after school, sat in the garden and with a lovely cup of tea in the sunshine, we too, had a wonderful time making daisy chains.  We both really enjoyed spending the time together, relaxing, chatting and giggling.

Making daisy chains can keep children occupied for quite some time. It’s a good idea to start with them so they can get the hang of it, then you can leave them to continue without you for a while.

So what do you need to make great daisy chains

  • lots and lots of daisies
  • a good thumbnail to make the slits in the stems

Daisies with the longest, thickest stems are best so that it makes the chain as sturdy as possible.

Go on, sit in the sunshine and re-live your childhood memories, whilst making new ones with your little cherubs.

Tempting Tuck Shop!

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Remember the tuck shop at school?  We had one at our gymnastics club too, it was so exciting to have some pennies in your hand and be allowed to buy all sorts of yummy goodies.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that my daughter eats far too much ‘bad’ stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, she’s very good at eating healthy foods, she loves; wholemeal bread, fruit, green vegetables, cheese and the like and she loves tucking into a bowl of nuts, (preferably pistachios or cashews)!

But….. like most homes, we also have the mandatory chocolate biscuits and crisps and all of us are guilty of eating too many of these.  So, we came up with the idea of a tuck shop, to try and make us all more sensible and controlled in eating the ‘bad’ stuff.

thumbnail_IMG_5726We found a decent sized cardboard box and Isla and I decorated it with drawings using coloured pens.  Then came the MOST exciting bit, Isla and I went shopping for the ‘treats’.  It was a lovely job but we did have to reign ourselves in somewhat!!

Once home, we designed a price list.  Isla drew a picture for each item and then we thought up a price for each one.  The list was glued to the inside of the tuck shop lid.  We tried to make it generic so that we don’t have to stick to the same treats, so; thumbnail_IMG_5725chocolate biscuits, crisps, mini chocolate bar etc.

Then came the rules!!  The ‘shop’ is only open twice a week, (days we’d agreed on) and Isla is only allowed to purchase two items at a time.  She can eat them all at once, or save them, it’s entirely up to her.  But there won’t be any extra treats in between tuck shop times. I’m hoping this will teach some self discipline – we’ll see!?

Every Friday Isla gets pocket money, (if she’s good).  She has to save half and then she has half to spend.  I’ve no idea how but she always has a rather good stash in her purse….. So this money can be used for the tuck shop.  Again, hopefully this will teach her to spend her money wisely.

The money collected from the tuck shop is kept inside the ‘shop’ and these proceeds are used to re-stock. Thus, I’m hoping, to introduce an element of business acumen!  Ha ha, well, again, we’ll see…..

It’s early days but I really hope that we can stick to it.  It is fun and so far Isla’s really enjoying it.  Who knows where it could lead to……

Scratch Rainbow Pictures

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Remember those scratch pictures that we made at school, (many moons ago)!?

You can buy these online and in lots of arts and crafts shops but they’re all ready to scratch off.  As I recall, the main part of the fun was to actually create the pictures ready to scratch so it seems a shame to miss that part out completely.

I thought it would be a fun activity to do with Isla so, after purchasing some black paint, we set about creating our scratch, rainbow pictures.

thumbnail_IMG_5692I think white card would be ideal but we only had white paper at the time, this worked fine though.  We then got out the crayons and started to cover the white paper in different coloured crayons.

Isla decided on stripes whilst I thought I’d go with a psychedelic feel for mine….

Next we got out the black paint and completely covered the paper and crayon designs in black acrylic paint.thumbnail_IMG_5694thumbnail_IMG_5695

Isla was very excited about scratching off and just couldn’t possibly wait for the paint to dry.

Her solution to this was to get the hairdryer out. Not a bad idea but I’d suggest using a slow setting unless you want black, wet painted paper floating around your room!?

Finally they were ready.  I found a wooden orange stick, (the kind you’d use when doing a manicure), possibly a cocktail stick would work or the end of a teaspoon.  My worry with using paper instead of card was that perhaps the pressure of scratching would tear the paper but in fact, it all worked out perfectly.

A great activity that we both enjoyed and something that will certainly keep them busy and happy over the bank holiday weekend.  Enjoy!…….

crayons   paint   card