Easter Activities for Children

Easter is a lovely time of year with so many things to celebrate. While Easter is traditionally a Christian festival many people also use the time to enjoy family meals, celebrate spring, have egg hunts and eat chocolate!

All of these things are wonderful and I hope to incorporate them all into our Easter celebrations this year.

I have a 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son so want to do crafts and activities that are suitable to their ages.

Here are some ideas of Easter activities to do with children.

Make Easter cards
Card making is fun and easy to do with young children and a whole range of different craft supplies could be used. I have some stick on Easter shapes and ribbons that can be used. Also hand print flowers or sponge stamps to create bunnies, chicks, flowers etc. These would all make lovely cards to send out to loved ones.

Easter Baking
There is a whole range of Easter baking that could be done. The most obvious one for young children is to make bird nests out of cereal and melted chocolate. These are normally filled with mini chocolate eggs. I will be making these soon but have chosen to use Jelly Babies Chicks to put in the nests as these are more suitable for young children. (Not that I give my children sweets frequently) Mini eggs can be a choking hazard, so it is best to avoid these when making with young children.Cereals that could be used to make the nests are rice cereal, cornflakes, shredded wheat or even oats.

Easter shaped cookies are also good for young children to help make and decorate.

Have a Last Supper Meal
This is something we are planning on doing as a family on Maundy Thursday. There will definitely be red grape juice and flatbread. I am still researching what other foods we could eat that would be similar to what Jesus would have eaten. If anybody has any ideas or suggestions I would be grateful. We wanted to have this meal as a chance to connect with our faith and explore the Easter story in more depth.

-Make Easter Bonnets
I always remember making Easter Bonnets when I was a child and really enjoyed the activity. I have a distinct memory of making a green dome shaped hat which was a hill and then I added 3 crosses to it. I was about 7 years old when I made it and was very proud of it! For my daughter I have bought a pink hat from a craft shop and then together we have stuck on bunnies, chicks, bees and ribbon. If you have several children you could have an Easter bonnet parade where they parade their handmade/ hand decorated Easter hats.

Make Easter Decorations
It’s lovely to decorate the home for different festivals and Easter should be no exception. In lots of craft shops you can buy eggs for decorating. These are great for hanging on houseplants or if you have an Easter tree. I am thinking about different decorations we can be making over the next few days and hope to share them with you. In the past I have made daffodils from card and used cuttings from card egg boxes to be the centre of the daffodil.

-Have an Easter Egg Hunt
This is one of the most traditional things to do with children at Easter. For this I will be hiding small foil wrapped eggs around the home for my children to find and collect.

Make an Easter Play scene
If you read my last post… Easter Story Play Scene, You will see our playset involving some paper mache pieces. Paper mache is a great craft to do with children. I chose to make a play scene of the Easter story but you could make other play scenes based on spring time, eggs and the Easter bunny. Imagination is key and lots of different things can be made from paper mache.

Enjoy a Springtime Walk
This time of year spring flowers are emerging and it’s lovely to see them growing. Perhaps you could make a checklist of different flowers and have a walk around your local area and see if you can spot them growing in gardens and parks. Also if you live near the countryside it’s a lovely time to see lambs in the fields. Ducks and other waterfowl may also be nesting soon, so if you live near a pond you could look out for that.

I have so many ideas but if I shared them all it would be such a long blog post! Perhaps if I have any more Easter ideas I will write another blog post!

As we move forward towards Easter we will be reading the Easter story more and also learning about spring time and baby animals.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and that I have given you some inspiration! I really enjoyed writing this post to share with you.

Katie

Under The Sea Birthday Party

This week I posted about my son’s 1st Birthday Party..Gruffalo Birthday Dinner…. As promised here is a blog post about what I did for daughter’s 1st birthday in 2018…. (Obviously in 2018 Covid-19 didn’t exist so we were able to have lots of party guests) We had an ‘under the sea’ birthday party for her. This party was lots of fun and I am going to share with you how we decorated the house and what food we served.

I wanted to make this party visually appealing so that there was lots to look at and to make the theme come to life.

We had lots of decorations hanging from the ceiling including shiny coils with fish characters on and we also hung string across the rooms and draped with pieces of crepe paper to create seaweed, coral and sea.

We also decorated the lamp shade to make it look like a large jellyfish hanging from the ceiling!

I made some salt dough fish characters and painted them, these were used to decorate windows. For the table, I bought a set of mermaid tableware which included tablecloths, napkins, cups, plates, bowls, party hats and party blowers. It also came with bunting which we hung up in the rooms.

I made up simple party bags for the children. Each child had two small tubes of bubbles and a party blower. The under ones got a fish soft toy and the older children got two packets of under the sea themed stickers. Each guest also took home some birthday cake.

For the food, everything we made fitted to the theme. We had fish shaped pizza, sea creature shaped potato, sweet potato and butternut squash chips and a coral reef vegetable tray.The pizza dough was all homemade and covered with a variety of colourful toppings. The recipe for this pizza was from one of my old recipe books that is based on Bible stories.

For the chips, we bought some metal cutters in the shape of a seahorse, shell and starfish. Once the vegetables were cut they were then coated in a little oil and baked. These were cut the night before and left in water.

I found the coral reef salad idea online but made it up using different vegetables to those I had seen to create my own version of a vegetable coral reef.

For dessert we had blue jelly with fruit shaped fish in, a turtle watermelon with fruit salad and banana dolphins. We also had fish shaped biscuits.

The birthday cake was a turtle on the sand. This was a madeira cake decorated with buttercream and fondant icing. My Mum made this cake – it looked really impressive.

I hope you have enjoyed looking through the photos of the party food and decorations and hope that I have provided you with some inspiration to throw your own ‘under the sea’ party!

DIY Embellished 1st Birthday T-Shirt

It was my son’s first birthday this week and I wanted to make him something special to wear to commemorate the day.

I have a sewing machine that I got last year but haven’t used it a lot. I am wanting to get more confident with using it so I can go on to make better things.

I decided I would use a basic t-shirt that my son already had (and will probably grow out of soon) and sew a number 1 onto it.

I had a bunch of clothes that no longer fit my children and hoped to use some of this fabric to create the design. We had a Gruffalo themed party and my son had an old Gruffalo vest so this was the perfect piece of old clothing to use.

I drew a number 1 on the vest and roughly cut it out. I then pinned this to the t-shirt, folding the edges under to give a neat finish. Lastly I put this onto the sewing machine and carefully sewed the number 1 onto the t-shirt using a zigzag stitch.

Overall I am impressed with the results, it’s not perfect but it made a memorable t-shirt for my son’s first birthday. It also meant I didn’t buy new clothing as I was able to upcycle and upgrade which is a great thing to do.

It’s really good to be able to use items we have and be inventive instead of having to buy new things all the time.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Gruffalo Themed 1st Birthday Dinner

Today it was a birthday celebration and whilst the only guests to the party were our household we still had fun.

My daughter received a Gruffalo recipe book for Christmas. As soon as she saw that there was a Gruffalo cake in the book she knew that would have to be made for her brothers birthday. I gladly accepted the challenge.

If you aren’t familiar with The Gruffalo, it’s a children’s book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Sheffler, the pair have created many books together and are very popular among children and parents alike.

I looked through the recipe book and decided I would make a few of the other recipes for the birthday meal. I chose to make toadstool pizzas, woodland salad and roasted fox (sweet potato chips). I also made terrible tusks, which are fruity kebabs. Then for the grande finale – The Gruffalo cake!

Pizzas
I chose to use a separate recipe for the pizza dough and made this first thing in the morning. Once risen I rolled out and cut into toadstool shapes. The decoration was simple, a coating of tomato passata and then circles of mozzarella to make them look like the white spots on toadstools.

Sweet Potato Chips (Roasted Fox)
I cut chip shapes out of sweet potatoes and also added one potato to the mix. I seasoned these with curry powder and coated in a tablespoon of oil.

Woodland Salad
This was just a simple task of making some salad vegetables look pretty! I used cucumber to make trees – and used a Christmas tree cutter. I made flowers from rounds of carrots and radishes. These were from ideas in the Gruffalo Crumble recipe book.

Fruit Kebabs (Terrible Tusks)
These were fun fruity kebabs just to add a bit of fruit and colour to the birthday food. I followed the recipe as a basic guide but used fruits of my choice. I used banana like the book stated as that was the part that looked like the Gruffalo’s tusks. The fruits I chose to use were cherry, melon and strawberries. I slid these fruits onto metal straws and created a fruity tusk for each one of us.

Gruffalo Cake
I was really excited about making this cake so couldn’t wait to make it! I chose to use a different cake recipe to the one in the book. I made a moist chocolate sponge that turned out really well. I cut the sponge as the recipe stated in the book and followed the directions for decorating it – making little tweaks depending on what ingredients I had available. It may not be exactly the same as the one in the book but I am pleased with how it looks!

As a family we had a great birthday tea and I think my son enjoyed his first birthday! In fact, he cried when we took the cake back into kitchen after he had eaten his small slice!!

I decorated the flat with a few balloons and even upcycled a Gruffalo vest to decorate a t-shirt with a number 1 for my son to wear! I did this on the sewing machine – perhaps I can get another blog post out of that!!?… It has been a great day, I definitely recommend the Gruffalo Crumble recipe book to fans of the books as it’s a great way to make fun food for children and also to cook with children. I did cook this meal alone but I have made other things from the book with my daughter such as the gingerbread mice and pesto snails.

For my daughter’s 1st Birthday Party in 2018 I did an Under the Sea Theme. I had written a blog post on this but that was on my old blog account name so I shall rewrite this and post it in the future…

Thanks for reading,

Katie

Toy Storage Bags

Today, I am going to be talking about toy storage and an idea on how to tackle toy organisation.

As a parent to two young children,I feel constantly surrounded by toys and I have been wanting to find a better way of storing them and keeping them tidy. So many toys are made up from lots of different pieces and it’s easy for things to go missing if they aren’t all put away in the right place!

I am currently living in a small flat so storage space is quite an issue. I keep most of the toys in plastic boxes but these always look messy and unorganised.

The goal is to probably get some wooden storage chests to keep the toys in so they are more hidden. I like the look of toy chests but I wanted the contents to be tidy and organised on the inside instead of it being a pile of toys….

So I decided to sew some simple drawstring bags and then used permanent markers to label the contents. I know these could have been made prettier and perhaps I could have sewn designs onto the bags. However I am in need of a solution quickly as my son turns 1 next week and I know there will be new toys!!

I used some thick lining fabric to make the bags and just sewed up the sides and then turned over the opening to the bag over a piece of twine to be the drawstring. I didn’t measure the fabric I just roughly cut the size of fabric I needed.

This was a very basic bit of sewing using the sewing machine. Any fabric could be used to make storage bags. I have some old children’s clothes that I may use to make some smaller bags to store things like jigsaw pieces and small Playmobil accessories.

I just like the idea of things being in the right place, looking clutter free and being organised. It’s also good that toys are grouped together so I know exactly where to find them and where to put them at the end of the day.

The drawstring bags could be used for a number of different items and can be made in all sorts of sizes. They could be made for storing makeup or hair accessories.

What are your toy storage solutions?

Katie

Healthy Lunchbox Treats

My 3 year old daughter has just started going to nursery 3 days a week and takes a packed lunch.

I am quite excited by this as it means I get to come up with different lunch ideas for her!

So, I have lots of ideas in my head but for just getting started this week I kept it simple with soft cheese sandwiches and used a sandwich cutter to make them into dolphin and whale shapes. Using shaped cutters really make things fun for young children. One day this week I cut some small pieces of cheese with a little heart shaped cutter. My daughter was amazed and wondered how I had made the cheese heart shaped!

I make sure my daughter has fruit and vegetables in her lunch. On Monday this week she had tomatoes, a piece of fresh fruit and a box of raisins. On Tuesday she had tomatoes, a banana and a jelly that I made up from jelly cubes and set berries in. I made it up in individual tubs for her so she has one left for tomorrow! The jelly was a big hit and she was excited by that.

I had mentioned to my daughter about making mini quiches for her to have in her packed lunch, so that was this morning’s baking project! We made pastry and cut into circles and placed in a muffin tin and baked. For the filling we chose to use grated carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. I used thyme to add flavour and made up a basic two egg and milk mixture and poured this into the veg filled pastries. I added cheese on the top. I had some mixture left over so I poured this into some silicon cake cases and added tomatoes and cheese to make a couple of crustless quiches. We had these for our lunch today and my son loved the crustless quiche!

I have to say the mini quiches are a little rustic looking but it’s home cooking. I’m not aiming for perfection – I just want to make tasty and healthy food for my family.

So in tomorrow’s lunch box I will be packing a mini quiche, some slices of salad veg, a fruity jelly and a piece of fresh fruit.

I look forward to coming up with different ideas for new and exciting lunches.

What do you like to put in your packed lunches?

Katie

Children’s Toys – Wooden Toys and Plastic Toys (A Review)

My two children have plenty of toys between them and have quite a variety. I have always been a lover of wooden toys but also have plastic toys too that I really like.

I wanted to outline the advantages and disadvantages of both types of toy as I believe each type has their own positive and negative points. There are also so many types of toys out there and many can be beneficial to children’s development in different ways.

Wooden Toys – Advantages

– These toys have a traditional look about them. To me they look more appealing and natural to play with.

-They are less likely to break. Wooden toys are often a higher quality and make for better toys. For example, my daughter has wooden based musical instruments that create better sounds than plastic versions. Because wood is solid, it doesn’t get so damaged if trodden on or dropped so appears more robust.

– Wooden toys are better for the environment as they can be recycled at waste recycling centres and also could be refreshed by sanding down and repainting and passed on for other children to enjoy. The production of wooden toys is less harmful and a lot of wooden toys are made from ethically sourced wood. They are also less likely to be packaged in plastic.

– Some wooden toys last a long time due to the nature of them being able to be sanded down and repainted, as mentioned above. Also they are more robust and less brittle.

– Wooden toys don’t require batteries so there is no risk of battery leakage or a toy no longer working and being discarded.

Wooden Toys Disadvantages –

– They can be susceptible to mould and mould damage. Unfortunately if where you live has some damp problems/excess moisture this can get into the toys and cause them to go mouldy. This obviously becomes unsafe for children.

– They are not so easy to clean – as I mention in the point above, if they are damp and not dried properly they could get mouldy.

– Children do put toys in their mouths and if the wooden toys are a softer wood then teeth marks can be made in the wood. Also the paint can come off and the wooden toys can chip and splinter which could be dangerous. They can appear to look a little tatty with the paint starts to come off.

– Wooden toys are generally more expensive due to the production and craftsmanship of them.

Plastic Toys – Advantages

– Plastic toys are more readily available and often cheaper to buy. I am sure for a lot of parents money can be tight sometimes but we still want to give our children great gifts. Often plastic toys are the cheaper option.

– Some plastic toys last a long time. I use the word some as this really depends on the type of plastic and how well it is made. I will use Playmobil as an example here – especially the 1.2.3 versions. My parents still have Playmobil from when I was a child (I am 25) and my children play with them now when we visit. However some plastic toys such as plastic balls for ball pools are made of thin material and can become squashed and perforated easily.

– Some plastic toys can be battery operated meaning they can make music and light up and other various functions. Some people like toys that do this as it can stimulate senses in young children.

– Non battery plastic toys are easy to clean as they are fine to get wet and will dry easily without the toy being damaged.

Plastic Toys – Disadvantages

– They break easily. This again depends on the type of plastic. The very cheap often very shiny or thin plastic items could easily be trodden on and squashed or snap. Brittle and broken plastic could be dangerous.

– A lot of plastic toys don’t last long and are not recyclable and do not break down so end up sitting in landfill.

-The production of plastic toys can be harmful to the environment, giving of harmful emissions.

– Plastic toys do not appear timeless – they can fade over time and toys with paper stickers on don’t age well – the stickers start to peel off and could be ripped or pulled off.

As I mentioned at the start of this review, I have both types of toys and with plastic it does really depend on the quality of the plastic to how good the toy is. I am wanting to be more environmentally friendly and I am aware of the environmental advantages of wooden toys however unfortunately a lot of my wooden toys have chipped or been susceptible to mould. So I am very happy with having a good mix as both types of toy have their plus points!

I have discovered that there are a range of toys available made from recycled plastic which is a really great idea. My son has a couple of toys like this and they are really tactile and don’t have the shiny look that I’m not keen on in plastic toys. This is definitely a great option for those who prefer plastic toys but want to be more environmentally friendly.

My 3 year old daughter’s favourite toys are her Playmobil (plastic) and her play food and kitchen (wooden). My 11 month old son enjoys his car garage and Playmobil 1.2.3 best at the moment (both plastic). A lot of wooden toys are more suited to 3 years plus but my son does have some wooden cars, puzzles, shape sorter and a train! I conclude that there really are great toys available made from both wood and plastic.

I appreciate that I have not covered every advantage and disadvantage and I could go on and on with different reasons. Please feel free to add your thoughts. I would love to know whether you have a preference of wooden or plastic toys

If you have read to the end of this well done and thank you for reading!

Katie

This Week’s Happenings

This week has been quite productive and I have been busy doing different activities – including cooking which I have made posts about this week. Here are some of the other things I have been doing this week.

Sowing and Growing –

I have been keeping a close eye on my seeds that I sowed last Friday. Over the last few days several of the tomato seeds have germinated, resulting in little seedlings that are growing quite quickly. There doesn’t seem to be anything happening with the aubergine or chilli seeds but it has only been seven days and it may be that it’s not quite warm enough even with the clear lid. I may have to move them to a sunnier spot – although keeping them out of reach of little hands may be an issue!! They are currently on the worktop under the boiler but the kitchen doesn’t really get a lot of sunlight.

I am also planning to grow some microgreens indoors and have been saving my used butter tubs to grow these in. I was inspired by an article in the November issue of the Kitchen Garden magazine and have decided I will give it a go. I have plenty of different seeds to try.

Sewing –

My cross stitch towel project is coming on well. I had hoped to have it finished by the end of March but with the progress I am making it should be finished well before then.

Crafts –

We didn’t get much further with Valentine’s themed crafts, my daughter lost interest and I couldn’t come up with many good craft ideas. I think I shall purchase a children’s craft book to give me lots of inspiration and ideas.

My daughter however is interested in the Easter story. It is her favourite Bible story and she can’t wait until Easter! Whilst there are plenty of Nativity play sets available, there just aren’t Easter story play sets (I guess this is to do with the theme of death). My daughter suggested we make a tomb ourselves and my husband came up with the idea of making it out of Papier mache. So, that was today’s craft project – we have made up a tomb and stone for the entrance and they are sat drying waiting to be painted.

Walks –

I have still kept up with my daily walks, although some days the walks have been short due to the very cold weather. We have had walks in the snow and ice and also sunny walks. I took some lovely photos of the sun shining through the clouds onto the sea.

Hope you had a great week.

Katie

Why I will be Celebrating Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day! My husband and I have been together for nearly 10 years and have been married 4 and a half years.

I guess I thought why do I need to celebrate Valentine’s Day when I can show my love every day of the year and also saw it as the buying of unnecessary gifts…

But, I have changed my mindset. I think if we can celebrate something positive then we should! There are so many bad times in our lives that get us down that we really should enjoy and celebrate every happy occasion that we can. It also gives us a time to focus on those that we love. Valentine’s doesn’t have to be romantically linked, it can be a time to reach out to those who we love.

So this year I am turning over a new leaf in relation to Valentine’s Day and I am going to celebrate it. I have decided that I will make some decorations to put around the flat. This is something I can do with my daughter and she loves the idea of being able to decorate again as it is like Christmas to her. It also teaches her about love which is a great thing for children to learn.

I hope to have a nice meal with my husband and maybe buy him a small gift to show my appreciation for him. Sometimes we get so caught up with what’s going on in life that we forget to just enjoy each others company. We take each other for granted and we all need that time to recharge and really appreciate each other.

So, let’s all spread the love and reach out to those we care for.

Katie

When Home becomes a Café

We are all very familiar with the current pandemic and have all been affected in different ways by it.

We are currently in a lockdown and are trying to find different things to do at home and ways to still have treats and experiences.

As a family we enjoy going out for breakfast for a treat. Having a cooked breakfast isn’t something we eat often and tends to just be reserved for when we go to a café for breakfast.

As going to a cafe isn’t currently an option and won’t be for quite some time, we decided we would have a cooked breakfast on Sunday Morning. My husband took charge this morning and cooked up a delicious breakfast for us all. I am very blessed to have a loving husband, it was so lovely of him to make this breakfast for us.

For the first time ever I ordered myself and my husband a dessert from a dessert only takeaway! We just fancied a treat on Friday night and decided we would give it a try! I ordered a chocolate cookie dough and a strawberry, banana and Nutella waffle. We both thoroughly enjoyed this. Obviously it’s not something we will be eating frequently but it was a much needed treat for us!

Also, hot chocolates are a favourite of mine to drink when out. I was fortunate to have been gifted with a variety of luxury hot chocolate powders for Christmas so I have been able to enjoy drinking those at home.

I hope you have been still finding ways to treat yourselves and provide enjoyment in these difficult times.

What treats are you making for yourselves at home during lockdown?

Stay safe,

Katie