Egg Carton Christmas Trees

  egg carton christmas trees

Joss and I have been getting crafty most evenings for the last week.  After dinner we clear the table and she asks to draw, once she tires of another round of drawing pigs and slugs (it’s always pigs and slugs she draws, I don’t know why!) she usually asks if we can do some painting.

I thought we’d use this time to start to make a few little Christmas decorations together.  As I was clearing the kitchen last night I was about to pop the egg carton into the bin when I thought about using it for painting instead.  Cutting out the centres of the carton I made some of them taller and some shorter and trimmed any rough edges before letting Joss go crazy on them with the glitter and paint!

Make your own Egg Carton Christmas Trees

If you’d like to make your own egg carton trees here’s the lowdown:

egg carton christmas tree

  • Cut out the pointed centres of your carton, remove any rough edges and prep them for your toddler by cutting them into different sizes.
  • Get decorating with paints, glitter glue and stickers
  • You can either keep them as they are or stack a shorter tree on a taller one as we have done to make them look more ‘tree like’
  • Then either keep as a snowy scene as we’ve done, or pop a little hole in the top with a pencil and add ribbon to make them into ornaments for your Christmas tree.
  • Enjoy!

A Simple Toddler Firework Activity!

simple toddler firework activity

It’s that time of year again, the time when Sarah and Duck’s firework dance is once again carefully choreographed by my tot and we all get the sparklers out!

We’ve had such fun at Joss’ toddler group this morning that I had to share her firework pictures; these are so simple and effective.

Take some black card, oodles of glitter glue and sparkles and let your little one go wild!

A Simple Toddler Firework Activity

You will need:

Black card

Glitter pens

Or glue and glitter

simple toddler fireworks

Let your tot go wild with the glue and glitter, there’s no exact science to fireworks so don’t intervene, just allow them to crack on and get messy!

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Once they’ve made the firework designs write their name in glitter glue, then while it’s all still wet sandwich a piece of paper over the top of their picture and rub down hard to spread the glitter and the glue out and help it to hold.

Then peel off the top sheet to leave the sparkly design in place, allow to dry, then display!

Present and Party Life Hacks and Moneysaving Tips

I’ve been invited by Voucher Codes to take part in their Life Hacks challenge and I’m really excited to share my tips with you!

Why present and party life hacks?

I decided that I’d theme my ideas around presents and parties because I think birthdays are such a special occasion that it’s important we treat our loved ones to the personal touch; it’s one area where we save whilst having fun crafting too.

1) Handmade cards and gifts demonstrate that we want to put the time and energy into showing that we care, and these small touches can often mean more to their recipients than big flouncy gestures!  This is where life hacks and budget busting tips really come into their own as they’re the gifts that keep on giving, both to the person receiving them and also to your purse!

present and party life hacks

2) This past year all of the gifts I’ve given have been prettily wrapped on a budget. I buy huge, huge rolls of brown paper from our post office for £1.20 for a whopping 30 metres and either cut off sheets which I get Joss to decorate or I use my stamp sets to decorate them myself. A favourite life hack is to get a pencil that comes with an eraser on the end and dip the eraser in paint to stamp cute polka dot paper! This means we can tailor the decoration to each person and don’t have loads of rolls of half used paper around the house.

Present and Party Life Hacks

3) This brings me to my next hack, recycling wrapping paper. I’ve blogged about this before but my favourite tip is to use wrapping paper to make pretty envelopes. Look for a simple template online, print and hey presto, you’ve a sweet little envelope to pop that giftcard into, or to house a homemade greetings card!

Present and Party Life Hacks

4) One of my favourite home organising tips is to keep a wipe clean board in the kitchen to jot down bits and bobs you need from the shops as you finish them, this one was just a quid but it’s so handy. Try to get everyone into the habit of writing on there when they notice the washing up liquid is running out or they’ve just used the last scourer and as you’re washing up or cooking you also have a space to make a note of any random ideas that pop into your head, I often jot down ideas for birthday gifts for people whose celebrations are coming up!

Present and Party Life Hacks

5) When I made these recycled milk bottle elephants it struck me that this could make a great kids party theme; you could have enough bottles washed and pre-cut for little ones to decorate, just pop some glue and crafty bits and bobs out for them, and everyone gets their own recycled Nelly to take home!

Present and Party Life Hacks

6) Keeping on the party theme I settled on a winner when I started making our own birthday cakes, my top tip for tasty bakes is to use value jams and preserves for fillings, this gorgeous lemon curd cake was made with a 59p jar of lemon curd and it was so zingy that I’d definitely use a budget buy again!

7)I also made the little flower decorations with bits and bobs from my cardmaking set, decorated with buttons and stuck onto skewers, this was one seriously thrifty cake!

Present and Party Life Hacks

8) Two more tips from the recycling box, this time using old jars, I like to make party lanterns with mine, simply wash them out and decorate with washi tape, then pop a tea light in and enjoy the glow.

9) Or make party sweetie jars by gluing a small plastic character or animal to the lid and spraypaint, filled with sweeties these would make lovely take home gifts!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Present and Party Life Hacks

10) And finally, one of my favourite hacks uses printable transfer paper, this stuff is great and can be picked up for a couple of quid for two sheets.  I used my transfer paper to make affordable personalised gifts like these drawstring toy bags, sometimes I’ll print the recipients name out and iron on the fabric, most recently (pic 5 below) I used a seashell motif with some jazzy striped fabric for a summer seaside feel!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Happy Partying Folks!

Disclaimer: In association with Voucher Codes

Cook Together, Share Together, Laugh Together

Family Friendly Week (formerly Parents’ Week) is a national awareness week run by the Family and Childcare Trust. The aim of the week is to increase recognition of the issues faced by families up and down the country, but also to celebrate the vital contribution families make to society.

Cook Together, Share Together, Laugh Together

The theme for this year’s Family Friendly Week is Cook Together, Share Together, Laugh Together so I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to reflect on our family eating habits, what we enjoy about cooking and sharing meals together, and some of the laughs along the way too.

I’m also reblogging one of our favourite family recipes, a healthy treat for toddlers in the shape of my ‘pack a punch toddler flapjacks’ – they’ve had great feedback from other parents and Joss loves getting involved in making them too!

Cook together

My top tip for cooking with toddlers would be to get them involved from a very early stage, preparing food can be a great sensory activity and can be a good starter for little chats about favourite foods, textures and healthy choices. For example when we make these flapjacks we talk about them being a treat or a snack, include plenty of fruit which I generally leave open to Joss’ choices offering her a range of dried or fresh fruits to add to the mixture, and the last time we made them we talked about the honey we add, and about buzzy bees too!

Share together

Sharing a family meal time is important to us and we like to offer Joss plenty of choice and a say in what we eat too. If I ask her what she’d like for dinner nine times out of ten she will say chicken pasta or sausage, broccoli, carrots and potato (it’s become like a song!) so those evenings I will try to accommodate her choices, or ask her to choose between a few different veggies so she feels she’s contributing too!

Laugh together

Clearly when cooking with a toddler much hilarity ensues, the last time we baked bread together we had to start again as the yeast was tipped onto the floor and when we made a crumble Joss was very interested until I said we’d be having homemade custard and she declared she wanted chicken dinner instead and wouldn’t try the crumble at all! There has to be a light-heartedness about family meals, I always said I didn’t want to have a battle over mealtimes and I think we have a fairly relaxed attitude to it all which helps this along, if it all goes wrong and I cut the toast wrong or can’t stick a banana back together after slicing it the ‘wrong way’ (aren’t toddlers fickle?!) the promise of being allowed to stir something in the kitchen or to play with the dried pasta usually gets things moving along again!

My Low Sugar ‘Pack a Punch’ Toddler Flapjack Bars

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We love to eat these snack bars and adding flour means they hold together with less crumble so they’re really portable too. These are apricot and raisin but they are lovely with dates, prunes or dried berries too! Honey keeps them chewy but can be omitted for even less sugar.  Why ‘pack a punch?’  Because they’re chock full of dried fruit and banana to keep you going on a busy day!

Ingredients

100g butter (toddlers could often use the extra fats but you can use light spread for grownups)
100g soft, stoned dried apricots chopped roughly
30g raisins
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
Large tablespoon self raising flour
2 tbsp honey (or fresh apple juice if preferred)
250g porridge oats

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
I make this in one pan, transferring into a silicone tray, if using an ordinary flapjack tray grease with additional butter.
Warm the butter in a saucepan and add the honey or juice, warm gently for a minute to loosen the honey, then turn heat off.
Add the chopped apricots and raisins, and mashed banana and mix well
Measure out the oats and mix self raising flour through them
Tip floury oat mix into the pan and mix well so the oats start to soak the moisture and look golden, the flour should all mix through.

Tip the mix into your flapjack tray and spread out, pressingly gently with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Take out to cool, when cool turn out and slice into bars.  Store in an airtight container and eat within 3-4 days.

Enjoy!

So over to you, this Family Friendly Week how are you introducing sharing and laughter into your family meal times?

Milk Bottle Elephant

milk bottle elephants

Need an idea for a rainy afternoon with a toddler now the weather is on the turn? We’re finding the nights drawing in a little tough as we sometimes miss our evening walk and like to have an activity to do instead.

We’ve become a little bored of play doh, drawing and the usual cut and stick and decided to try something a bit different one night this weekend.

Why not join us and raid your own recycling – reuse those empty milk bottles big and small to make a little family of elephants together? Cue terrible pun:

milk bottle elephants 1

I saw this idea on Pinterest for Elmer elephants but Joss is too little to consistently stick on little squares of paper without getting frustrated about sticky fingers.  Does anyone else’s little one really love glue but hate it at the same time?  So instead we got to work with some stickers, washi tape and googly eyes for an afternoon of crafty fun.  I used some decoupage materials and set about making a little Nelly of my own whilst Joss stuck on her buttons and tissue paper!

Instructions for making your milk bottle elephant

If you’d like to make your own milk bottle elephant then grab some milk bottles and lets get started!

YOU’LL NEED:
– Milk bottles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Tissue paper
– Or stickers
– Washi tape
– Pom poms
– Googly eyes

Simply follow these steps to start your own elephant family, use big and small bottles if you have them and just take care to cut any rough edges to smooth them before your little ones get stuck in too.

milk bottle elephant

Toddler Printable Library in a Box!

If like me you have a child that absolutely adores libraries, stickers, stamps and books then I have the perfect Toddler Printable Library in a box for you!

Joss loves our local library and asks to help stamp the books when we pop in on a Saturday, I wanted to recreate this as a play activity we could do during her quiet time at home.  She’s really into role play so this will make a nice change from playing  ‘shops’ for a while!

I made Joss a little Library Box with bookplates, a date stamp, library cards and stickers and other stamps so that she can play ‘librarian’ at home, and now you can too!

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These Toddler Printable Library cards and labels are free for you to download and print as many times as you like!  Just paste the label onto a shoebox, cut out the cards and bookplates and fill your box with stamps, ink, pens, stickers and hey presto, your little one is a Librarian!

Library label

library cards Printable cards

I’d love to see what you add to your own library boxes, if you print them pop back and let me know how your library play goes!

 

Natural ice lollies for babies with Nuby Fruitsicles

Nuby Garden Fresh

Nuby’s new Garden Fresh range gets a big thumbs up for promoting home cooking, designed for less waste so that home prepared food can be stored and frozen it prides itself on supporting Mummy Made Goodness.

We try to avoid processed foods where possible and I’ve always made home cooked meals for Joss so this range has big appeal taking you from preparing and storing through to serving up foods for your little one.  New products like the Fruitsicles for making fresh ice lollies at home join old favourites like the Nibbler and weaning spoons, the range is really versatile and comes in lovely bright appealing colours for kids.

We often meet with friends we met through the baby led weaning group I co-run, we get together once a month or so to share food with our little ones, we sometimes get joined by new mums who are interested in baby led weaning and share recipes and ideas for home cooking that the whole family can enjoy (it’s where the idea for these potato pancakes came from, saving leftovers to make something totally different!).

Natural ice lollies for babies

As we’ve been having a spell of good weather  I prepped a big batch of Fruitsicles for our meeting last week, as well as our famous fruity pack a punch toddler flapjacks! In keeping with the all natural theme we had bowls of blueberries and raspberries, yogurt smoothies and homemade houmous, yum!

The fruitsicles I prepared were jam-packed with fresh strawberries and two oranges that I had whizzed up in my blender, I kept it to a fairly thick pulpy consistency and then popped spoons of the mixture into the moulds.  Each Fruitsicle is filled with two teaspoons of pureed fruit and so they’re great for portion control for babies and toddlers, and the soft grip handles are perfect for little hands.

fruitsicles

We met in the park and started with the Fruitsicles before they melted, they were  a big hit, I had one too (for taste test purposes of course!) and these all natural ice lollies were really fruity and naturally sweet!  I later made up a batch using some of the leftover yogurt smoothies but they were so popular they were gone before I could get the camera out (natural yogurt, banana and raspberry if you’re wondering how they were made!)

fruitsicles 2

Giveaway time!

Nuby have kindly given me a bundle of Garden Fresh products to give away including:

  • Fruitsicles

  • Nibbler

  • Suction Bowls

  • Coverall Bib

  • Grip N Sip Cup

win a nuby weaning bundle

If you’d like to get your hands on this huge bundle of goodies simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget and leave a comment on this post

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT – WELL DONE EMMA!

T&Cs – UK entries only, there is no cash alternative, winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and informed within 24 hours of competition close

Fabric transfer paper gift ideas

These 5 fabric transfer paper gift ideas were inspired by some great tutorials over at Wolves in London, Sabrina’s blog is a great resource and so I have to start this post by thanking her for introducing me to a great new craft addition! If you’re of the crafty ilk I urge you to check out her tutorials

I have been beavering away with making gifts for a while now, part of my moneysaving plan for birthdays and ahead of this Christmas I have been trying to make as many cards, gifts and wrapping as possible. I sort of hit on a slow period this Summer and decided to look around.  When I saw Sabrina’s lovely fabric transfer projects I had to have a go and made a list of fabric transfer paper gift ideas.  As I was going for a low cost base I picked up transfer paper in Poundland.  Two sheets for a quid made all of these projects plus I have made a further ten tags, five mini cards and countless fabric drawstring bags! Essentially I pasted all the images I wanted to print into a Word document and adjusted the sizes til they fitted on two pages, then I printed them and cut out the images ironing them onto my projects as and when needed.

I sourced my images from a range of places, including by searching for ‘free vintage printables’ on Pinterest.

Here’s my rundown of 5 fabric transfer paper gift ideas

Five fabric transfer paper gift ideas

1 – Vintage sweetheart print gift tag with lace and pearl embellishment

Ironed onto some plain calico and then cut out and layered onto fabric this sweet tag was then embellished with a piece of lace from my stash and some pearl braid which I use for so many projects but picked up from my local fabric store for a bargain 5p a metre in their fantastic sale.  I have since made oodles of these little tags, they make simple presents look really special!

2 – Children’s party favours or travel storage bags

I made this little calico bag in about ten minutes to store Joss’ farm puzzle pieces which kept getting lost.  She loves this simple pig print and I think it would look great on a tea towel too!  These would make cute party bags filled with sweeties or a little colouring book and crayons

3 – Fabric cards

This does what it says on the tin, I have loads of fabric samples and often stitch them freehand onto card but don’t always have complementary Happy Birthday stickers, instead I typed and printed up some Happy Birthday motifs to add to my cards!

4 - An Axolotl’y Fabulous  Tee

Joss’ favourite word is axolotl, for those not in the know an axolotl is a ‘walking fish’ and there is one at our local museum.  Joss loves them, she also loves printed tees but the chances of me ever finding an axolotl tee were pretty slim, now she has one!  I know this won’t be for everyone but it’s made a Mama and her Girl very happy!

5 – Fabric drawstring storage bags for shoes, undies, you name it!

These become an altogether nicer gift for the addition of a little ironed on motif, this beachcomber print is perfect for my seaside loving girl and stores her precious cuddly toys, I made myself one with a print of a pair of special shoes and another to give as a gift with the recipient’s name printed on.

I hope you like these fabric transfer paper gift ideas, if you have a go yourself do let me know what you make!

Toddler pinwheels for picky eaters

Real Life

I’ve been re-blogging this post about how to handle not being able to breastfeed for World Breastfeeding Week 2014 which comes to an end this weekend.

Joss has been a bit off colour lately and consequently has eaten very little. My toddler pinwheels for picky eaters are great for lunches and Joss usually plays with them, then eats a bit. If she is involved in making them and sprinkling the cheese then even better, she’ll be more interested in eating them as she had a hand in making them!

toddler pinwheel fussy eaters

Ingredients

Sheet puff pastry
Grated cheddar
Ham
Tomato puree or two tablespoons of passatta

I cut my puff pastry sheet in two and freeze half, the other half makes eight pinwheels. Unroll the pastry and spread the tomato onto the base, then top with slices of ham and then with grated cheese, my trusty cheese sprinkler Joss likes this bit!

Don’t overfill as the next stage is to roooool the sheet of pastry like a swiss roll, then slice into eight chunks, lay each out on a greaseproof papered baking sheet.

Bake at 180 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes then cool and serve, or store for the next day or two for packed lunches.

Blog life

I had tea with Beth from Betty and the Bumps and Hannah from Mums Days yesterday and they got me thinking about where my blog is going.  I have a new list of questions and some things I am working on, like my blog traffic.  In the short term I have posts coming up on  handling toddler fears and a competition coming up too.

Inspiration

I have been reading some inspiring ideas on writing as posted by Beautiful Misbehaviour and giving some thought to a challenging post I’d like to draft

Mums' Days

– See more at: http://mumsdays.com/#sthash.KOYZpbwP.dpuf

Kiddycharts Blog

My salt scrub recipe for smooth pins!

Hello sunshine, time to get my skin tip top with my salt scrub recipe!

lavender rosemary scrub

Measure out your wet and dry ingredients depending on the size of your storage pot which should have a nice well fitting lid, I use an empty Lush pot but a clean jam jar would do.  To measure pour your salt into the pot you’ll be storing in and leave a centimetre gap at the top for your oils, use roughly five tablespoons of olive or almond oil for every half cup of salt.  To prepare the fresh rosemary and lavender I simply snip the dried flowers and fresh stems with scissors, I used five drops of lavender oil for a 50ml pot.

Mix everything together well and pop into your pot, and away to the shower you go!

lavender rosemary scrub in pot

I make a similar scrub in a gorgeous pink here

scrub