We are big readers in The Mad House and love books. So when Bostik invited us to be part of their craft club and come up with something with a selection of craft things they sent us we decided to make heart bookmarks in celebration of reading and valentines.
Simple glued Bookmark
This bookmark is super easy for children to make.
Heart stencils (we printed out hearts about 3 inch and then 2 inch in size)
Valentines Day is just around the corner and this weekend we are focussing on some heart activities which are suitable for doing as a family. First up is our Family Heart Art. I am a sucker for making art as a family and love things that we can display seasonally that mean things to all of us, just take a look at our family art christmas tree to see what I mean.
Family Fingerprint Heart Art
Canvass (I love the hard board ones for little fingers as they can press as hard as they like without damaging the tension)
Paint - We used red and white acrylic, but any paint works
Low tack tape
I drew a heart on to a piece of paper and cut it out the size I wanted our fingerprint heart to be. If you want something more precise then print out a heart and cut it out.
Fasten the stencil to the canvas with low tack tape.
Place some red and white paint on to a paper plate or palate
Take turns in dipping finger in and making fingerprints on the canvass.
This activity was inspired by Dansom Lane who went on a shape walk in their local forest. We are planning on going on a beach walk to see if we can find heart shaped stones to decorate and also look in our local woodland for heart shaped leaves. If the weather is bad, why not take a look round your own home for heart shapes or look and see if you can see heart shaped clouds in the sky.
Acts of Kindness
Why not use this time of year to discuss acts of kindness and the fact that being kind is something that we should all do as much as we can. It makes me think of the song "Love is like a magic penny" which I learned as school. By giving it away you get much, much more in return. Maggie from Red Ted Art has a fab 31 days of love series at the moment, so if you have time why not make something from it to gift to someone.
The boys are taking lollipop flowers in to school for their friends next week. and we have been making heart bookmarks (for their teachers) with our craft pack we received as part of our Bostic Craft Club membership. See more on this tomorrow!
Whist talking about kindness, I adore this hug jar, perfect for moment when we all need a little pick me up. and we will certainly be making a valentines heart happy wall. I am also going to do a heart map with the boys too (and one for myself). A "I love you more than....." picture would be perfect for loved ones this valentines day too.
Kids Books about love
One of our most favorite books is all about unconditional love. No Matter What by Debi Gliori. It is an emotional hug in a book. Debi manages to use beautiful lyrical words to reaffirm that a mothers love is limitless in such a beautiful way. We were introduced to this book when my mum died, but even now my boys love this book. Other books about love:
I hope your weekend is filled with family,. love and laughter and do let me know what short of things you would like to see featured. Make sure you are following our facebook page, Google + page or on Pinterest for lots of heart crafts and activities over the coming weeks.
Welcome to the first ever something for the weekend #sftw. A regular series which I hope inspired you to make, so, see, cook and just generally enjoy family time at the weekend. The idea is to provide simple activities that can fit into family weekend.
This weekend is RSPB Big Garden birdwatch, so I thought I would so a something for the week with this in mind. The birdwatch only takes an hour of your time and is a great way to introduce different birds to your children. You can print out a checklist (or use their online tool on your tablet, desktop of mobile phone) from the RSPB website and they also have information of what to do to attract the birds to your garden. If you want more bird based activities, they also have some great family fun activities on their web site. Alternatively you can find a super free bird watching printable book here at Buggy and Buddy.
When I was decluttering my kitchen this week, I am ashamed to say I come across a rather large amount of very out of date nuts and seeds, so rather than throw them away we decided to make bird feeders with them.
Bird seed or nuts and seeds
Lard or solid vegetable fat if you are vegetarian.
Yoghurt posts or other pot (we used jelly jars)
Pop your block of lard in a large heatproof bowl and place over a pan filled with simmering water. The aim is to softener not melt the lard. If you are doing this with small children you can do this by vigorously beating the lard with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the bird seed
lay your cookie cutters out on wax paper and fill half way with the birdseed mixture.
Cut your twine, knot the end and push the knot down into your birdseed.
Continue to fill the rest of the cookie cutter with birdseed, covering the end of your twine and knot.
press down on the birdseed so it is compact.
Allow them to dry overnight and then remove from the cookie cutters and hang them
We also made some in pots, which do not have very well as they are rather large and heavy, put they are perfect for popping on top of bird feeders. Another way to do this is to use pine cones. just mix the lard with seeds and oats with your hands – lovely messy fun and swish it into the pine cones. Then refrigerate and hang. You really can just use what you have in. No seed or lard, then do not despair you can use peanut butter and loo roll to make bird feeders! . Or if you have some cheerios, then try these fab cheerio bird feeders from Happy Hooligans.
This is my Mum's recipe and it is a family favorite with both the boys and even better it is frugal too as it uses up the chicken carcass for making the stock. You could make it suitable for vegetarians by using vegetable stock and substituting the chicken. If you do not have much chicken then a broth pack is a great way of bulking it out and I have to say I love adding pearl barley to mine.
It reminds me of dinner round the table when I was growing up and there was always a fight for the extra dumplings!
Perfect for cold winter evenings. I guarantee empty bowls for this meal! It also freezes well and is great warmed up and you can blend the leftovers to make a smooth soup perfect for flasks.
This is our favourite winter warmer recipe and we are entering it in the www.coopelectricalshop.co.uk competition.
Weekends are often busy, filled with things to do and places to go for most families, but I also want them to be a time where you can create as a family and make the most of each other. With this in mind I have decided to run a weekly post on a friday featuring fun, fabulous and simple ideas for a creative family weekend.
These will be seasonal ideas of simple things that you can fit into your frenetic family life along with homework, movies, birthday parties, shopping and everything else a busy parent does.
I will give you a list of materials needed (most of which you will be able to find around the house or supermarket) and then some inspiration of what to do with them and hopefully help you fill your weekend with less #screenfree time.
But I need your help with this. I would like to know the type of things you would like to see. Do you want arts and craft, cooking, baking, ideas for outdoor play or a selection of all?
I do not want to make life more complicated but to encourage you to enjoy the simple things in life and slow down. I want to encourage us all to put down our mobile phones and to be the change we want to see in our children.
I am not looking to make life more busy, but to help you find a balance and inspiration. I want to encourage our children to not reach for their screens at the first sign of boredom.
So what do you think?
Are you up for reestablishing the connection with your children, for being a child again and having some fun?
Are you ready for something for the weekend?
Shoes shoes are a real investment. Mini has just had to have new ones as his feet had grown and they cost £42, thankfully we had a £40 voucher from Clarks to put towards them. For Mini we really have to look to a shop like Clarks as he has wide feet and a high instep. His current shoes are a 2.5 H width fitting. When you pay that short of money for shoes it is essential that you look after them and I have to say I learned a lot about caring for leather shoes from my Dad and Granddad.
Add a name label, when you have paid for school shoes, you do not want to lose them!
Protect them before they are first worn with a protective waterproof spray and again on a regular basis.
Never dry them over a radiator or heat source when wet, instead fill with crumpled newspaper of paper and allow to dry naturally.
Get your children to take them off when they get home from school to air them out.
Remove dirt as soon as possible, get in to the habit of giving them a wipe over each night with a damp cloth
Clean on a regular basis with a leather cleaner. I am an old-fashioned wax and brush girl, which I leave on for an hour to sink in before removing with a soft brush and rag. Applying the wax with a brush gets it in to all the bumps and crevices.
Liquid scuff polish is a great quick fix to keep shoes looking smart
If shoes start to smell then a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda in them overnight will deodorise them.
Mini really wanted the yellow and green trainers, but school shoes have to be black! I love the use of coloured laces to bring shoes and boots up to date and will be doing this with the boys shoes.
We are now two weeks in to January and I thought I would update you on how I am getting on with my word of the year and my intentions for 2014.
Over on A Thrifty Mum, I have been documenting my decluttering efforts, which are going really well and I am pleased to say that slowly but surely I am simplifying our home and belongings. I am learning that I also need to nurture the environment we live in making life easier for all of us. With this in mind I have decided to get our tumble dryer repaired. I haven't used the dryer for over a year as it has been broken and have found drying the washing such a chore this winter.
With regards to nurturing myself I have appointments with numerous specialists to discuss my condition and I am also having regular blood tests to ensure that things do not get to the stage they did before Christmas. I understand that by keeping on top of it I can really make an impact on all of my family. So this really is key for us all.
Sewing lessons also start again next week and I am really looking forward to spending time with a fab group of ladies and my sewing machine. I started on Capturing Childhood Manual Overdrive e course this week too.
Each lunch time I take Alvin out for a walk and it is doing me the world of good to get out of the house and experience some sunshine.
MadDad and I are also making time to have movie nights together and enjoying our evening time together. We have plans to have more lunches together and spend quality time together.
I am also learning to say "no" to things. I ask myself the question "will this nurture me and my family?"
It is early in the year, but things are going well at the moment and by having a word to focu on it is really making me think and evaluate what I am doing.
The boys have had their first week back at school this week and one of the things we are trying to do is reduce their reliance on screens and technology. I have not thrown out all screens or even banned their use, but I have insisted on at least one screen free activity a day from the above list of prompts.
We find screen free time much harder in these dark and cold winter days. In the summer the boys first reaction after school is to get changed and go out to play outside.
This month as part of our ambassador program Center Parcs asked us to think about our perfect day. So we all sat down at dinner and discussed what we would like out of a day at Center Parcs and not surprisingly the main thing that came out of the discussion was more family time outside.
Both the boys would love to do something action and adventure like aerial tree trekking or a Quad Bike Safari. I am looking forward to board games on an evening and cycling together during the days. When the boys are not on an action and adventure kick I know we ill be in the pool and I will have to drag my water babies out as they love being in the water. I might even get time to read a book whilst they are all in the pool. You never know!
So what would be your perfect day?
I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1gvBHBB
The last time I visited the Canary Islandswas in January 2001. 2000 had been a really bleak winter and my Father had died in an industrial accident and I really needed some winter sun, so Madad and I took a wonderful relaxing trip to the Canary Islands.
The Canary's really were the perfect place to capture some winter sun, make peace with the previous years happenings and reconnect with each other after a very stressful period.
Each January Las Canteras Beach in the Canary Islands come alive with sand sculptures that reach 4 meters in height which are amazing and the 22 degree weather really makes looking at them just wonderful.
We enjoyed some amazing Canarian food when we last visited way before we had children and I remember spending plenty of time on the beach and around the pool reading (which isn't something that tends to happen now).
MaDad isn't really one for sitting and soaking up the sun, so we also hired a car to explore the Island and took a number of boat trips, in addition to jet skiing and parascending, yes we used to be pretty adventurous!
Well we have been given the chance to relive this holiday and you can help. I have the opportunity to win a round trip ticket for 2 to Gran Canaria, accommodation at a 4 star hotel, and half board. I have shared the video on your Facebook page, and I NEED YOU to share it with your followers. I will only qualify once I have reached 50 shares. The winner will be the contestant whose video has been shared the most by the 8th of January 2014 at 20.00GMT
So please go to my facebook page and share the video - Pretty please!
We are working on reducing the boys reliance on technology and we decided to make fingerprint thank you cards for part of our #ScreenFree time.
I think that it is really important for the boys to say thank you for the gifts they receive and as a family we love to give and receive hand made cards. I try to make sure that what we do is something that the boys can do all by themselves and they loved this activity.
The boys turn white card in to cards by folding them in half.
The they painted a finger with brown paint and made fingerprints on a card to represent the Robin's body.
They washed their hands and by the time they returned to the table the brown paint was dry, so they painted the tip of the little finger red for the Robins red breasts.
They then added the birds beaks and feet with a fine tipped pen.
Maxi wrote thank you on the front of his cards (note the tongue of concentration), whereas Mini wanted to have lots of Robins on the front of his cards.
Do your children send thank you cards out after christmas or when they receive gifts?