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!

Park Photostory

Saturday mornings are Mr B’s lie in day and Joss and I get a bit chewy in the house so the last few weeks we’ve been going to ‘the big park’ – I’ve noticed the sun is out at it’s best 9 – 11am at the moment so it’s the perfect time to get some vitamin D and for me to shrug off the working part of my week and get into relax mode.

Park Photostory

I love this kid, she’s such a sweetheart, when we left the park she hugged this dog and fed him some sand, “you alright puppy? here’s your dinner! Good boy!”
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Headed for the bigger kids climbing frame, I was glad I had my running shoes on, she’s so quick around it!

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These water pumps are ace, I love playing with them too!

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She’s really honed her climbing skills lately!

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And finally we rounded off the day with new boots for a cheeky monkey (tonight she told me she was “chillin’ like a villain” – haha) we get very little choice of shoes in J’s size, she has such narrow feet, but these will see her through the autumn and winter just fine and dandy!
boots

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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

Sugru review and giveaway

Merry Fixmas from Sugru!

Sugru is a highly addictive mouldable glue, a crafter’s dream and a great addition to any home. It’s a new wonder material that feels like play dough but acts like superglue and sticks to pretty much anything!

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Sugru review and giveaway

I’ve spent this week with my Sugru multipack fixing and sticking; I started with a pack of black Sugru and fixed a hole in the sole of my favourite winter boots and patched the seal on our washing machine, then I hit Pinterest and saw some great ideas for using Sugru to make your own coloured key covers so I can now quickly find my housekey in vibrant red, and finally I set about making some fun stamps moulding strips of Sugru to form a shell shape and embossing then sticking to a bottle top for a quick crafty fix. Left to cure for 24 hours the Sugru putty cures and becomes a firm silicone, completely waterproof.

Sugru review and giveaway

Each pack of Sugru stays mouldable for 30 minutes so you can really work the putty to form a firm bond and shape it to suit you. I am delighted with the results, I thought my winter boots were past their best when the cobbler said they’d be over £30 to resole and they couldn’t be sure they could definitely do the job, they’re lovely boots and thanks to a spot of Sugru they’re fixed and waterproofed again. I really liked the ideas on the Sugru website, especially using Sugru to colour code, fix or secure wires for cameras and mobile phones as these break really frequently in this house!

Giveaway

Sugru have introduced a new range of colours this Christmas (- available from 21 November) all packaged neatly into Limited Edition tins – a perfect stocking filler or secret santa gift! Priced at £9.99 each give your loved ones a Merry Fixmas with these great value sets exclusively available from Sugru.com the lovely Sugru team have given me a tin containing five of the new colours to inspire some creative DIY in my readers!

Sugru review and giveaway2

From fixing broken toys to making childproofed corners and patching up winter boots, you’re sure to find something to Sugru!

To enter this giveaway simply use the Rafflecopter tool below, terms and conditions as follows; UK postage only, winners notified within 24 hours of the giveaway closing, responsibility for sending out prizes is with the press team associated with the brand, there is no cash alternative or prize alternative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Canopies in Modern Architecture*

I still remember my first trip to Harrods, rounding the corner from the tube station and seeing these iconic green canopies lining every side of the store, they gave the store real gravitas much like the facade of The Savoy, both well known London havens for tourists.

My love of traditional department stores is no secret, Fenwick in Newcastle and Liberty in London are some of my favourite places to shop and I love their grand and ornate architecture and elaborate windows.

It doesn’t just stop at the luxury shopping though, I studied the Sociology of Consumption for my first degree and was really engaged by a talk on the history of department stores, so when we were on Honeymoon in 2011 I had to seek out Galeries Lafayette which is absolutely breathtaking inside, and uses canopies to change the look of the outside depending on the season.

Everyone can name an iconic store front or historical building which uses canopies to highlight the brand name, Clovis Canopies have produced this infographic on modern canopies in usage in UK and US architecture to showcase the history of their usage – do you have a favourite?


Modern Canopies
Modern Canopies by Clovis Canopies a leading UK manufacturer of outdoor canopies and shelters for schools, hospitals and commercial premises.

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?

Fire Safety in the Home *

I have kept a home journal for some years now, and so I know that coming up to 1st November there are some impending tasks ahead of Winter that I’ll be tackling around the home, draught-proofing, getting out the warmer bedding, getting our winter woolens refreshed, as well as our monthly tasks, like checking the battery on our smoke alarm too.

This infographic created by Reflect Digital and Alarm Traders Direct highlights the importance of these regular home checks. About three years ago now we contacted our local fire station’s Community Awareness worker, did you know many stations offer a service where they will do a short fire safety audit of your home? In our case they installed alarms for us and told us how to check them monthly.

Coming up to Bonfire Night many people start thinking about fire safety and awareness around fireworks, why not make this the time you think about fire safety in the home too? There are some tips and ideas included in this helpful graphic to get you thinking about key risks and needs.

The Burning Truth About Fire

Alarm Traders Direct suppliers of domestic smoke alarms and wireless smoke alarms and detectors

Disclosure

7 ways to raise a reader

I’ve always loved reading and have some really happy memories of children’s books. My hands down favourite book was Hairy Mclary From Donaldsons Dairy by Lynley Dodd, what a rascal!

7 ways to raise a reader

Until recently Joss showed very little interest in reading, she liked books, sure, but mainly to transport around, stack and have the off flick through. It’s only now, this week, at nearly 30 months old that she shown any interest in settling down to really take interest in a story (I have to say for a short while I was worried she might not love books!)

So in my two and half years of reading with a fairly disinterested child, here are 7 ways to raise a reader, or seven things I’ve learned about encouraging young children to read.

7 ways to raise a reader

7 ways to raise a reader

1) Take it out of the home

And into your local library, there are some great reading groups for kids that happen there, and they’re often lovely places for children to explore and start to get a feel for the kids of books they like the look of. Mums’ Days wrote a brilliant post about taking children to the library from an early age, it’s a must read if you’re new to the library. Make sure you ask for a library card for your littley and if you’re a reader yourself and don’t already have one then get one for yourself too, choose the odd read for yourself and that way your children get to see the whole library and not just the kids section.

2) Go for what is age appropriate

I think I probably aimed too high trying to settle down with my favourite Julia Donaldson with a five month old Joss! I was just excited about it and forgot that books are about so much more than just reading together, they’re for bonding, exploring and chatting about too! For younger children opt for very tactile fabric books like the one you can see in my photos above. Then move onto board books with peek a boos and then onto longer stories and paperbacks too.

3) Repetition, repetition

So you’ve been looking at the Hungry Caterpillar ten times a day for weeks now and it’s wearing thin?! Children learn lots of new words through repetition and so tend to like books with a lot of repetition, rhythm and rhyme too. Try to be animated in your reading and look for books similar to the ones they tend to like to add interest. The first book Joss really showed interest in about three weeks ago now was Room on the Broom, then we moved to Tabby McTat which I really like too, this morning in the shower Joss said really clearly “Tabby McTat is a Busker cat” which was so adorable, shows that she is enjoying the books we’re choosing together and highlights something that I find really interesting too – she’s starting to show a love for word play which I really find fun too! She’s been rhyming and making up daft words like basket lasket, grinny binny and pocket mocket, this tells me that we’ve a rhymer on our hands!

4) …and something to add interest

I noticed early on that lots of kids books have loads of details in the illustrations that add interest and give us more to talk about. We noticed in Fox’s Socks that there’s a sweet little mouse on every page and that ducks seem to crop up a lot around Mr Fox’s house, you start to spot stuff that kids don’t to add interest for you, and then you can ask them to look out for these ‘extras’ too! Is there anything you’ve spotted or noticed about the books you like to read?

5) Share a book you love

Let your children see you reading to share the love, but also show them books you liked as a child to bring reading to life, chances are you’ll be really enthusiastic about reading an old treasure, which is how I reacted when we read Dogger with a tear in my eye recently!

6) Follow their interests even if it means looking at non-fiction

I wouldn’t have thought about looking at non-fiction in the library until Joss showed an interest in the ‘big boys and girls books’ and I’m so glad we looked! After our trip to Druridge Bay we got out ‘My First Book of the Sea’ and she loved looking at and talking about the treasures we found on our holiday. Non-fiction can really appeal to their interests, look for books about vehicles, animals, wildlife etc, things that are of relevance to your children’s lives, you might find that it really sparks their love of books too!

7) It’s no big deal

If your littley is disinterested and wriggles away either start with very short books and build up or simply put the books away for another time, Joss loves motor activities at all hours of the day but I’ve noticed that her quiet time comes at about five when we’re prepping dinner, picking up a book at this time has really worked well for her, it’s a time when she’s tired but concentrates well, a good time for a book whilst waiting to be fed! It means we don’t yet do a ‘book before bed’ but 5pm is a time of day that we both enjoy for now.

Mums' Days

Milton Sterilising Giveaway, two great prizes to be won!

When I was pregnant with Joss I was given a set of ‘baby essentials’ by a friend, and in the box was a bottle of Milton sterilising fluid.

I was taken back to the age of eight, when my baby brother came along and the distinctive smell of Milton brought back a really familiar feeling.

Now in its 65th year did you know that the original Milton Fluid was first used as a disinfectant during the First World War, and was taken into the trenches to treat skin burns?

After the war, the Milton Fluid continued to be used as a general antiseptic, disinfectant and food preservatives, as well as being used in hospital surgical procedures and later it became associated with sterilising baby bottles.

We used a Milton classic cold water steriliser like this after using it on the hospital ward to sterilise the nipple shields I brought with me, the bucket and secure lid were really handy and the clear instructions helped me through the fog of those first few difficult weeks when we moved to sterilising bottles too, something I found quite stressful but quickly got the hang of thanks to the easy directions. I continue to use this now to sterilise Joss’ drinking cups as they tend to be quite hard to clean.

Milton Sterilising giveaway

Milton have a wide range of products to offer to new parents, including microwave sterilisers and portable soother sterilisers too.

The lovely folk at Milton have given me two brilliant must-have prizes to give away, one lucky reader will receive a Milton Combi Microwave / Cold Water Steriliser and some sterilising tablets to get you started, and another lucky reader will receive a Milton Mini Portable Soother Steriliser with mini sterilising tablets to get you started (soothers not included).

Here’s a run down of both products. First up, the combi steriliser, A 2 in 1 microwave or cold water steriliser, it holds five bottles of any brand, fits the majority of microwaves and sterilising from 2 minutes in the microwave and in 15 mins with cold water it’s a fast option for a busy time in any new parent’s life.

The soother sterilisers are a new one to me as we didn’t use a soother; 2 in 1 it cleans and sterilises soothers on the go with no need to rinse and with a hand adjustable strap to easily attach it to your buggy, pram or change bag this is a great portable option for always having a spare soother ready when out and about!

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To enter this giveaway simply use the Rafflecopter tool below, terms and conditions as follows; UK postage only, winners notified within 24 hours of the giveaway closing, responsibility for sending out prizes is with PR company associated with the brand, there is no cash alternative or prize alternative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leaf pictures

This week on my days off Joss has been all about Autumn, I have a definite gatherer and collector on my hands so on Tuesday we spent the whole day walking, laughing, gathering leaves, conkers and other bits and bobs for an Autumn sensory box and a spot of printing. Perfect. And all on our doorstep in a ten minute radius, we really are blessed to live here!

Leaf pictures

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