Halloween Jack – o – Lanterns!

This weekend my daughter and niece were feeling rather creative and wanted to do something Halloween themed! We decided to make some pumpkin paper lanterns in preparation for Halloween. They make wonderful decorations for around the home and are pretty simple to make!

The origin of Jack – o – Lanterns is still not known, but there is a wide belief that they originated in Ireland, where turnips and beets were carved into. Jack – o – Lanterns were believed to protect your home from spirits and vampires.

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There is a fantastic poem called ‘The Pumpkin’ written by John Greenleaf Whittier in 1850:

Oh!-fruit loved of boyhood!-the old days recalling,

When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!

When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,

Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

To make your Jack – o – Lanterns you will need – A4 orange card, black paper, glue, scissors, stapler and a pencil. You will also need a hole punch and thread / wool if you are going to turn your lanterns into bunting.

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Start by folding your orange card in half lengthways and then cut slits along the folded line. Make sure you leave approximately 5 cm at least, at the edge of the card.IMG_2583Once you have cut slits along the folded line, open the card up and roll (width way) into your lantern shape.IMG_2586 IMG_2590Once it is rolled into the lantern shape, staple both ends to hold in place.IMG_2589

On black paper, draw the eyes, nose and mouth for the lantern and cut them out.IMG_2592 IMG_2593Using glue, stick the face onto the Jack – o -Lantern.IMG_2597

You can now staple a strip of card to the top of the lantern to form a handle.

IMG_2601If you would like to use your lanterns to make some spooky bunting make plenty of lanterns and use a hole puncher to make two holes in the top of each of the lanterns (one on each side of the lantern).IMG_2591IMG_2602Next, thread some ribbon / string through the top of your lanterns and hang the bunting up! I use sticky tape to hang up our bunting! IMG_2604We love our Halloween bunting!It is a fantastic way to decorate your home with your little ones and without spending lots of money. Double bonus!

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A little Autumn break away

Firstly, my apologies for not posting for a few days! Myself, the hubby, the kids and Sammy the dog have been on an Autumn break away to one of our very favourite parts of the world – Cornwall, UK. We had a fantastic time, even if it did fly by! Isn’t it funny how a week of work feels so much longer than a week of play?! It felt like we had only just unpacked, when I was packing up again!

We stayed in a little caravan in Newquay on Hendra holiday park. It caters for families and couples, and is very family and child orientated which really shows through in their daytime activities and evening entertainment, as well as right down to the finishing little touches.

There were three fantastic play parks, one of which included a climbing wall, which were all well equipped for children of different ages. IMG_2207 IMG_2195There was also an indoor pool and outdoor pool which looked fun, but unfortunately we didn’t get chance to use them as both the kids had colds so we decided to give them a miss!

Each morning there was a chance to ride on the land train (for free) which took you on a little tour around the park. This was a big hit with my little boy especially, and made even more fun by the holiday parks mascot, a large cuddly hippo called Henry, joining us for the ride! A really cute touch for families!IMG_2167

The evening entertainment was brilliant for the kids, and my daughter was super excited that one evening they had a little tribute to ‘Frozen’. This is one of her favourite films, and she was incredibly happy to get a cuddle from her favourite character, Elsa!IMG_2466During the days we explored the attractions in the surrounding areas. One of our very favourite places we visited was Dairyland Farm world, Newquay. It is an amazing place for children and when you pay once, you can then get in free for seven days! We thought it was amazing value as there was so much to do there. We visited again before going home on our last day and we could of easily spent longer there.

In Dairyland there is SO much to do, including…….

farm with opportunities for the little ones to meet and feed animals…..

IMG_2285 IMG_2274 IMG_2279a tractor hay ride (great fun!), play equipment and farm vehicles to explore, IMG_2297 IMG_2241

milking time for the cows (this is a must see and very educational for the little ones), a HUGE soft play centre,

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This place is completely worth a visit if you are ever in the area. A great value day out which will keep the kids (and yourselves!) entertained for hours and hours!

We had such a lovely few days away and enjoyed every minute! Some very much needed family time away together. I feel like our batteries are charged back up again!

Right, now I suppose I better head off and start on the enormous pile of washing……….

Apple printing and home – made gift wrap!

One evening last week it was just me and my daughter at home, as my son was at football club, much to my daughters delight! “Girlie time mum” she shouted, followed shortly by “Can we do some apple printing?”

Apple printing is one of our favourite activities as it is so simple and looks super effective, especially in pattern form. My daughter decided on making some home – made gift wrap. Her Grandpas (Popsys!) birthday is just around the corner and with him being an avid and fantastic gardener, my daughter knew Popsy would love his home – made apple themed gift wrap!

You will need – apples, paints, paper and old bowls / tubs.

To start, cut your apples into halves and de – pip. Next, cut a handle into each apple half. Us grown – ups should do this part as it can be difficult and dangerous for little hands!IMG_2109IMG_2108

Then dip your apple (core centre down) into your paint. Make sure you have plenty of paint on your apple otherwise you may only get half a print!IMG_2112To make your gift – wrap decide on a pattern and the type of paper you want to use. My daughter decided to use a simple, two colour alternating pattern on brown parcel paper. Brown parcel paper makes fantastic wrapping paper as it is nice and strong and can be printed on easily. IMG_2113 IMG_2114 IMG_2115A fantastic printing activity that makes fabulous home – made gift wrap too! We are sure Popsy will love his extra special gift wrap!

Grandmas cheesy bacon bake!

As the evenings grow darker and the temperature drops, I find myself craving simple, home – made comfort food like my Grandma used to cook when I was a little girl.happy-quotes-832

One of my favourite things she used to cook was her cheesy bacon bake. As I grew older, she taught me how to make it and I love cooking it for my family. It is one of our family favourites and there are never any leftovers!

Here is how to make my lovely Grandmas cheesy bacon bake. A lovely, simple (but very tasty) meal. Perfect for Autumn!

Ingredients – 8 large washed white potatoes, 3 washed leeks, 6 rashers of bacon, little milk, knob of butter and approx 200g grated cheddar cheese. (Serves 4).

Method – First, preheat your grill to a medium heat. Next, peel and chop the potatoes and put into a large saucepan. Trim and chop the leeks and add to the pan with enough cold water to cover the vegetables. Put the pan on the hob to boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

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Whilst the potatoes and leeks are cooking, grill the bacon. When the bacon is cooked, cut into small pieces, and set aside in a bowl. (Keep the grill on, as you will need to use it again later).

Once the potatoes and leeks are cooked drain the water from the saucepan, then mash together. Add a knob of butter and a little milk if you wish (just like making mashed potato)! Then add 3/4 of the cheese and mix into the mash mix.IMG_2126Next, add the chopped bacon and mix it all together.IMG_2129Next, spoon the mixture into a large oven dish or smaller dishes. I like to use several small individual dishes. Then top with the remaining grated cheese. IMG_2134IMG_2133

To finish, place the dish under the grill until the cheese is golden brown. IMG_2142

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I like to serve my bake with herby baked beans or green beans, but it is completely up to you! A yummy meal for the whole family!

Hope you enjoy!

Leaf shape bats!

Now we are officially in October, I feel it is perfectly okay (and not at all premature!) to post some Halloween crafts! We love Halloween in our house and always end up visiting some Halloween party (or four)!

halloween 2Enjoying last years parties!

So to kick off our Halloween crafts we started with a very simple bat picture! I have also linked it in with Autumn as the craft uses autumn leaves to form the bat shapes 🙂 Me and my daughter decided to do this craft together as she wanted me to draw some of the bats with her on the picture. Some mummy daughter artwork! 🙂

You will need – 

Dry leaves, paint, paper, brushes and felt tip pen.

Begin by placing a leaf onto your piece of paper and paint around it. Then move the leaf to another part of your paper and paint around it. Continue painting around the leaf on different parts of the paper. My daughter used purple paint. Black would look good too, for the night-time sky!

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Once the paint is dry, add a face to form the bat. Me and my daughter also added ears and feet! She also added stars to form the sky at night.IMG_1924

We love this craft as you can use different leaves which will give totally unique bat shapes. Play around and have fun! A nice, easy Halloween craft!

Beach Sunday

The sun came out this morning so we decided to make the most of it, and head for the beach! We had such a lovely relaxing time. It was bliss!

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We did some shadow dancing……

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We took off our shoes and paddled in the sea…….. Nothing can instantly send you back to childhood like the feel of sand between your toes and the sea splashing your legs!

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Pictures in the sand!

The kids explored rock pools and also enjoyed drawing pictures in the sand. I remember doing this when I was a kid on holiday at the seaside, and it was always one of my favourite things to do at the beach! They hunted out materials which they could use on their pictures to add a 3D effect. Seaweed made brilliant hair for their alien friends!

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Creating their beach art!

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I even created my own beach art!

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Pebble throwing!

We finished off by playing a throwing game. I drew single lines at approximately one metre intervals in the sand, with a number written next to each of them. These numbers are the points that are scored if you throw your stone nearest to that line.

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I wrote the numbers as multiples of 5 going up to 30. The closest line to the start scores 5, the furthest scoring 30!

IMG_2008So at the first line you score 5 points, the second line 10 points, the third line 15 points, and so on.

The children then each found a shiny white pebble (easily distinguishable )! to throw.

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The aim of the game is to throw your pebble the furthest as this gives you the highest chance of scoring more points. They each had 5 turns. We kept a tally of the scores by writing them in the sand, in a circle drawn for each child. (We wrote their initial of their first name to make it easier)!

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The winner is the person who scores the most at the end of the game.

This is another brilliant way to help older children with their number work. My daughter loves to help add the scores up for each person, improving her maths without her even realising!

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Hope you have all had a lovely Sunday too!

Knuckle Printed Pumpkins!

Continuing with our Autumn activities, the kids decided they wanted to paint pumpkins today. We decided against the paintbrush and chose to use our knuckles instead! This is a super simple activity which my son and daughter both love as it involves getting their hands messy – always a hit with my two little ones!

You will need – orange paint, paintbrush, paper and green pen / crayon.

Firstly, paint your knuckle with orange paint.

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Then push your painted knuckle down onto your paper to make your print. Once dry, add a pumpkin stalk with green pen or crayon.

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You could also add a scary face to adapt the activity for Halloween! We are going to make lots of these pumpkins with faces on, and use as bunting around the house for Halloween decoration!

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A really simple activity for Autumn! Have fun!

Rainbow leaf printing!

We are well into our autumn activities and crafts now in our home, and we are loving them! This weekend we got creative with some autumn leaves and did some rainbow leaf printing. This activity is one of my kids favourites and looks really pretty!

You will need – dry leaves, paper, paint in lots of different colours and paintbrushes.

Start off by painting strips in different colours onto a leaf then print (paint side down) onto the paper.

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My daughter also painted patterns onto the leaves instead of strips, and the overall effect was very similar to tie dye. They looked very pretty!

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These rainbow leaf prints are very simple, look super effective and make a nice change from the usual autumnal coloured leaf printing!

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I think they would look brilliant cut out and mounted individually onto black card as celebration cards. (My dads birthday is fast approaching so he may well receive one of these beauties)!

Happy leaf printing!

Amazing autumn tree paintings!

Autumn is in the air! Summer has certainly finished here in Britain and autumn is approaching. Fast. I am struggling, however, to let go of Summer this year. Usually I am ready to move onto the next season with thoughts of new activities and things to do buzzing around in my head, but alas not this year (probably due to the fact it feels like we haven’t had much of a Summer – one of the rainiest, coldest summers for good old Blighty this year)!

So, to try and get myself and the kids excited for the Autumnal months we decided to make some autumn tree pictures, using cotton buds. We made these last year too, and they were a big hit. It was just my daughter painting today as my little boy was playing with his friend, so here is her autumn tree picture and how she made it! We hope you like it!

You will need – paint (in autumnal colours – we used red, yellow, orange and brown), cotton buds, paper, and paintbrush.

She started off by painting a tree trunk and branches using a paintbrush, onto a plain piece of paper.

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Next, she dipped a cotton bud into the paint and dotted paint around her tree branches to form the leaves of the tree. She then built up the leaves, by dotting more paint using the cotton buds, in the different autumn colours.

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She kept on dotting until she was happy with the way her tree looked. She then added leaf dots falling down from the tree, and at the base of the tree to form piles of leaves.

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She then painted on a hedgehog, and a bird and sunshine in the sky for her own finishing touches. We think it looks lovely and using cotton buds is another fantastic way to shake up painting!

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