A home made gift – Hot Chocolate spoons!

My little ones school broke up for their Christmas holidays the other day. They decided that they wanted to get each of their teachers a little gift to say thank you and Merry Christmas (Diolch and Nadolig Llawen as we say here in Wales)!

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We do this each year as their teachers do such a wonderful job through the year and don’t really get much appreciation or acknowledgement. I think a little thank you will always go appreciated!

Their school is a small, village school and they love going there! They used to attend a much larger school and my daughter really didn’t like it. She has developed and progressed so much since changing schools and I am very grateful to the teachers and staff for all the work which they do. The school is more like a family, and everyone’s opinions are listened to, from the head teacher to the nursery children. It is very much a community focused school too which I love! As it is such a small school there is a smaller number of staff. This means that my kids always want to give every staff member a little gift, including the cooks, cleaner and helpers!

We usually give shortbread or butter biscuits as gifts, but this year I thought we would do something a little different. We decided to make Hot Chocolate spoons. We love Hot Chocolate spoons in our home as they are super simple to make, look so pretty and taste amazing!

To make Hot Chocolate spoons you will need – chocolate, plastic / wooden spoons or wooden lollipop sticks and sprinkles / decorations.

Begin by melting your chocolate in a jug in the microwave. Check it frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn! Once it has all melted, pour into an ice cube tray.

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Next chill in the fridge. You need it to be of a solid consistency before you can put your spoons / sticks inside, but not completely set – a sort of soft solid! You will be able to tell if the chocolate is set enough to put the spoon inside. If it has not set enough the spoon will not stand upright alone. If this is the case, chill it for longer!

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When you have the right consistency push your spoons / sticks into the chocolate and add your decorations (we used green, red and white hundreds and thousands and chocolate strands to make them look more festive). Mini marshmallows also look cute! (My kids love this part as they get to go sprinkle crazy)! Next, chill again, until completely set and solid. Gently push them out of the tray.

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I then wrapped them in spotty cellophane and added ribbon to make them look pretty and extra special!

These taste so good swirled into hot chocolate to make it taste extra chocolatey or warm milk to make chocolate milk. A very delicious treat!

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The teachers loved their home made gifts and said what a lovely, thoughtful, yummy gesture it was!

Nadolig Llawen to you all!

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Festive Jam Bakes!

One of my family’s favourite bakes are jam tarts. My grandma used to make them for me when I was a little girl, and now I make them for my two little ones (and my hubby)! The only difference is that my kids especially love my pastry so I make the tarts quite thick, and we call them jam bakes.

My kids don’t particularly like mince pies, so I thought it would be nice to make some jam bakes with a festive twist this weekend!

Festive Jam bakes recipe – 350g (12 oz) plain flour, 3 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp salt, 175g (6 oz) butter, 120ml COLD water and jam of your choice (Makes 12 bakes).

Begin by putting the flour, salt, sugar and butter into a bowl and mix until you have something similar to breadcrumbs.

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Next, add the water slowly and mix until it forms a ball. (I always use my hands for this part). Then chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

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Once chilled, preheat your oven to 180c and grease a cake tray. Roll out the pastry then use cutters to cut out rounds. Place the rounds into your tray and cook for 10 minutes. Whilst they are cooking, use the remaining pastry to cut out some shapes for your toppers. I used a star cutter to give the bakes a more festive feel!

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When the bake bases have cooked for the 10 minutes, take them from the oven and add some jam into the centre of the bases.

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Add your topper to each of your bakes.

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Cook for a further 10 minutes, until golden brown.

We ate our jam bakes with cream whilst watching a Christmas movie. A very yummy sweet treat!

 

 

Paper cup angel – tree topper!

This weekend my daughter wanted to make an angel tree topper for the top of her pink Christmas tree, which her Taid (as we call Grandpa here in Wales!) had given her this year.

She was super excited when Taid gave her the Christmas tree, complete with baubles, beads and lights to decorate it with. She spent some time decorating it and then realised she had nothing to put on the top. I told her she could make something, so she chose to make an angel. We thought a paper cup angel would be a lovely way to top her very own Christmas tree!

To make your paper cup angel you will need – paper cup, cake case, paper, crayons, glue, sequins, glitter, wool and googly eyes / eye stickers.

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Begin by cutting your cake case in half and glueing each half onto each side of your paper cup. These will be the angels wings! Then decorate your paper cup with sequins and glitter. You can also use coloured paper, crayons etc, whatever you like! My daughter chose to use a pink paper cup for her angel, as we had some left over from her recent birthday party.

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Next, draw a mouth and nose onto a piece of paper and cut it out. Add your eye stickers or googly eyes and stick on some coloured wool for hair.

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Finally glue your angels face onto the front of your paper cup.

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Once dry, place onto the top of your Christmas tree! We think she looks absolutely wonderful and she has had lots of compliments from visitors!

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A beautiful, home – made angel which will take pride of place on your Christmas tree!

Fingerprint Christmas Trees!

Each year the kids love making home – made Christmas cards for family members. I think it’s lovely receiving a personal home – made card from a loved one!

I thought it would be a nice idea to make a Christmas card with my niece for her mum. I put a few ideas to her and she chose to make a fingerprint Christmas tree. I love this activity as it is so simple which means even very young children can take part!

To make your fingerprint Christmas tree you will need – paper, paints (green and a few more different colours), card, glue and sequins or glitter.

To begin cut out a template from card, to use as your tree shape. I find using a triangle shape works really well. Then place over a piece of paper and begin fingerprinting inside your template with the green paint. (If you are doing this activity with young children, you may like to stick the template to the paper with blu – tack, to stop it from moving around).

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Continue fingerprinting with the green paint until you have filled the tree shape. You can then add a few more fingerprints in different colours to be your tree ‘lights’. My niece also added a yellow print at the top of her tree to be the ‘star’!

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When you are happy with how your tree looks, gently lift up the template and allow the paint to dry. Once the paint is dry you can add sequins or glitter to give it some extra sparkle! We then cut out and glued her tree down onto a piece of card, and she made a plant pot from sequins too!

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My niece really enjoyed making her card and thought so carefully about which sequins she thought her mum would like best. Her mum loved her extra special card made especially for her!

Christmas Eve surprise parcels!

As most of you probably know I love Christmas! I love everything about it – the crafts you can make, the decorations, the lights, the food, the celebrations, the nativities, the time spent together as a family and of course your own personal family traditions. It is such a magical time of year, especially for children, and you can make it super special with your own family traditions.

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I cannot stand bah humbug people who complain about the commercialisation of it all! I do not spend huge amounts of money on things that my kids don’t need (that is not to say I don’t buy anything – of course I do)! I just don’t go over the top! I had a friend who a couple of years ago spent £1000 on each of her two children, aged 3 and 6, only for her to then complain after Christmas that they only played with a couple of the new toys she had bought them. I remember being completely flabbergasted!

To me personally, presents are only a small part of Christmas. Christmas is made up of many different things. When I was a kid, my favourite memories are of spending time as a whole family (my dad worked such long hours it was a big treat to be able to spend whole days over the Christmas period with him). I also used to love the Christmas dinner, my Gran’s mince pies and watching Christmas films on the TV. If you ask my daughter what her favourite part of Christmas is she will say Christmas dinner, Christmas Eve parcels and our Christmas Eve walk (this is one of our favourite family traditions – we go for a walk in the woods by our home and then come back for hot chocolates and a Christmas film). If you ask my son, he will say spending time with Daddy and helping to decorate the tree.

Each year one of my personal favourite family Christmas traditions is giving the kids a Christmas Eve surprise parcel! I make a little parcel of things for each of the kids to use on Christmas Eve. I never spend much money on them as I pick little bargains up or make things myself.

I made their parcels today whilst they were both in school and have hidden them away until Christmas Eve! I thought I would share with you what I have included in them this year!

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I bought them each a new onesie, a Christmas colouring book, a Christmas canvas picture to paint and a Santa mug filled with Hot chocolate and marshmallows. I also made reindeer food (using porridge oats and edible glitter) and wrapped it in a cellophane cone, tied with pretty ribbon. Everything I bought was bought from my local discount shop so hardly cost me anything! I then wrapped the items in pretty cellophane and secured with an elastic band. I then popped some Christmas ribbon over the top and added a little bow.

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I love making these little Christmas parcels and giving them to the kids Christmas Eve. I can’t wait for Christmas Eve now!

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Paper plate windows!

One of my daughters favourite craft activities is making paper plate portholes. She usually makes one every summer and this year was no different!

Recently she decided she wanted to make something similar, but with a Winter theme rather than the Ocean. She chose to make a paper plate window with a Winter scene.

To make your paper plate window you will need – paper plate, paints, paintbrush, glue, coloured paper / card and coloured cellophane.

Begin by painting a scene onto your paper plate. My daughter chose to paint some Winter scenes, but you can choose whatever you like!

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Once your paper plate is dry glue a strip of coloured paper or card across the top of your paper plate. This will be your ‘curtain rail’! Then cut some curtain shapes from coloured cellophane and glue to your strip of card. Make sure you leave a gap between the curtains so that you can still see some of the painted scene.

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My daughter made a few of these pretty window plates. She was a little disappointed though at how quickly the cellophane creased up and said she would quite like to use material pieces next time she does this activity, ‘so that it looks more realistic’!

I think they are very pretty and make a nice seasonal change to the portholes. I do think my daughter will be doing a follow up of this activity though as she is very eager to see how it turns out using material pieces instead!

Another birthday party!

So this weekend marked another big event in our family – my daughters 8th birthday! I feel like I have only just recovered from my sons birthday a couple of weeks ago and we are doing the birthday thing all over again!

My daughter wanted a little party in our home with a few of her close friends, and she chose to have a princess theme for her party. (After all, if you can’t be a princess on your birthday when can you?!)

I made some home made decorations for her including some simple glittery name bunting. This was so easy to make and looked lovely and sparkly above the food table (I was originally going to make her a castle backdrop but I completely ran out of time)! She was super happy with her glittery alternative!

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To make her name bunting, I cut out pieces of yellow card and used glue to write each letter of her name onto each piece of card. I then shook gold glitter flakes onto the glue to form glittery letters. I punched holes in the top of each piece of card and threaded some pretty ribbon through to attach them together. I then hung the bunting up above the food table! It looked very pretty and effective!

I also added a princess theme to some of the food. I made Marshmallow Pops as my daughter loves them and had requested them especially! I mainly used pink sugar sparkles, hundreds and thousands and white chocolate to make them look extra princessy! (There were a few milk chocolate ones thrown in for luck too mind)!

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If you would like to make your own Marshmallow Pops, find the recipe here – https://paintboxmum.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/marshmallow-pops/

My daughter is a huge fan of salad so I knew I needed to get a healthy option onto the party food table too! I found a brilliant idea on Pinterest, which placed the salad into pretty little tubs. Such a simple idea but looks very pretty. I didn’t have any tubs so I improvised and used some cute cake cases. I popped some salad leaves into each one, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices, which I cut the edges off using a cookie cutter. I placed the cases into a flower shaped serving plate to serve them. The salad looked very lovely and pretty and was eaten all up! It definitely disappeared far quicker presented like this, rather than just placed in the usual salad bowl!

I also used cookie cutters to make shaped sandwiches. The kids loved these and they made a nice change from the usual squares or triangles!

IMG_3450.JPGWe had a lovely day celebrating and partying! I saved lots of money by making things myself, and the extra touches made her party extra special!

Hope you are all enjoying your weekends whatever you are up to!

Marshmallow Pops!

We love Marshmallow Pops in our home and I serve them a lot at family celebrations. Friends are always asking me how to make them! They are always shocked when I tell them how easy they are to make so I thought I would write a little blog post showing how simple and easy they are to do!

To make Marshmallow Pops you will need – marshmallows, lollipop sticks, chocolate, sprinkles etc to decorate.

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Begin by placing two marshmallows onto each lollipop stick.

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Next melt your chocolate of choice. I do this in a bowl in a microwave, checking and stirring it frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once your chocolate is melted pour it over your marshmallows. You can choose to cover the whole of the marshmallows, or just partially. I covered all of the mallows! I always allow the excess chocolate to drip off a little at this point, as otherwise it can sometimes drip off later taking all of your decorations with it! Once some of the excess chocolate has dripped off, sprinkle on the decoration of choice. I love using sugar strands, chocolate strands and hundreds and thousands!

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Place your Pop onto a plate gently and put straight into the fridge. (I find if you do all of the Pops first and then place into the fridge a lot of the chocolate begins dripping off, so it is easier to place each Pop into the fridge once you have made it, so it can begin chilling (and setting) straight away).

Repeat until you have made all of your Pops. Allow to chill in the fridge until set. Then enjoy!

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Fruity snail!

I got a little creative with my sons fruit snack the other day (yes I know, it’s fast becoming an obsession – I apologise)!

I decided to make a fruity snail for him as he loves all insects, bugs, snails, slimy things etc! I used his favourite ever fruit for the snails body (honeydew melon),then added a shell made from grapes, a sliced banana head and used raisins for eyes and sliced grape for the mouth.

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My son loved his special snack and it disappeared at a pace far faster than our friendly snails!