26 Oct 2016

Quick Halloween Fun

I know the subject of "celebrating" Halloween can be a controversial one - and I have not saying that we "celebrate" this. However with little mans birthday falling on that day (ooooo) and now since have kids it falls over half term it means we do partake in Halloween Spooky Fun. I do not like the horror scary side of Halloween - I do like the letting the kids dress up, excuse to add decorations of pumpkins around the house and bake goodies. Having a birthday that now falls on this day will mean for years to come we will be having a celebration of his birth - if this means that we have Halloween sweets (as they are all half price!) and the odd toy spider and pumpkin dotted about then so be it. With the supermarkets and shops now stocking all manor of Halloween inspired products its easy to be able to pick up bits and pieces to have fun with the kids.

As we are in the midst of half term I thought I would share some fun Halloween activities you can get the kids involved in.

1. Iced biscuits - I shared these back in 2013, A quick simple biscuit dough which is a nice soft dough. I have tons of cookie cutters (and I am always buying more) your able to pick up selection packs. Mixing and rolling the dough is great fun to do with kids (if you can stand the mess) but in the past I have been know to make the dough the night before and leave it to chill. Then take it out the fridge about an hour beforehand and let the kids go crazy.

2. Visit a pumpkin patch - We haven't been to one in a few year but they seem to be growing in popularity. We have a couple of Pick Your Own places that are now hosting Pumpkin fun! - with the UK having a growing love for these fantastic vegetables - and the photos are cute too.

3. Halloween party - Before we had little man I liked to throw little Halloween tea parties. Not scary ones but little monster and ghosts. This one back in 2011 featured a great printable set of decorations. Etsy are fantastic for these but if you are any good on the computer you can make some yourself. I still love my cake fails from that day - which were transferred into cupcake cups! Brilliant for little fingers - they saved my carpet!

4. Gingerbread houses - not just for Christmas. This one was from last year and was a kit we picked up in Morrisons - I have seen similar ones in stores this year. These kits are great as they take the precision required for baking and allow you (the kids) to focus on the construction. Which is just as frustrating!!. But it got eaten,.

5. Halloween goodie buckets - this is something new me and my sister opted to do this year. We don't take the kids trick or treating but this allowed us to give them a few little bits. As well we like to spoil them when we can. We made up these buckets with a DVD in (picking up the cheap ones in supermarket - managed to get a couple of classics for the boys Casper and The Little Vampire to add to our collection) , a book, a pumpkin and some crafting supplies - plus these fantastic witch hats I picked up in Hobbycraft. My two are currently obsessed with Harry Potter. These kept the boys entertained all morning.

6. Chocolate treats - I made these oaty chocolate bites early this month. By still baking the normal bits and pieces and adding some Halloween sprinkles is a way to enjoy the fun without full on Halloween take over. M loved these in his lunchbox.

7. Playdough plates - I used this great recipe by Alice&Amelia to make up these quick playdough plates. One batch of playdough split between 3, some cutters, plus some pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. They boys made a right mess but had fun. There was rolling and squishing, creating and playing. I've not done an activty like this before at home but think I will do it again. The playdough was quick to make. I spiced it with cinnamon too - it smelt lovely. 

Even big boys like the playdough. He sat and made this ghost and decorated with eyes and patterns.
Very proud of his creation.

8. Facepainting - you don't have to be the most fantastic artist to create some excitement for the kids. Snazaroo offer some great and simple ideas for creating face-painted looks at home - we had lots of fun with it last year.

9. Painted Pumpkins - with little fingers some times (I may talk from experience) the carving and scooping out of pumpkins can turn into a mess and tantrums (I want to use the knife) so I often opt for the allowing the kids to paint them. I used just acrylic and let it dry well. They enjoy it as they are painting on a 3D shape. Once dry you can add faces (while they are sleeping) with some white acrylic paint. 

10. Bat cupcakes - these are some of the favorite cakes I made last year and so simple. Chocolate cake, chocolate icing, Oreo and icing eyes. Quick, effective and most important yummy.

Go forth and have some spooky fun.

12 Oct 2016

Crafting with Baker Ross

Its fast approaching, you can see it ahead. You have the countdown and the conversation outside the school gates.....

"How many days until half term?"

Whether you look forward to that time or you are filled with panic (about the possible childcare Tetris you have ahead of you) its time to get things prepared and ready for the never ending (or maybe that just my house) whines of "I'm Bored" or you get fed up at watching your children turn into TV zombies (again maybe just y boys) and you decide enough is enough lets do something fun.

Baker Ross are (I think) one of the best for offering variation and kits which are easy to use, fun to make and allow you to polish that Mum halo. There website is great as you can look for the general I need to fill up my craft cupboard stuff or split into categories to allow you to offer seasonal (and educational - not saying that bit too loudly) activities at home. You can find their Halloween Shop and their Autumn Shop to pick up some fun half term goodies.

We came home to a fun bundle of goodies from Baker Ross to get our half term planning on the go. Both little ones were super excited - one of thing I love about their activities is that you can allow both kids to have a turn. Most kits come with multiple kits inside to allow you to share the fun. Our bundle included :

Skull Colour-in Mini Gift Bags  in a day of the dead design - which I have been talking to Maxwell about and explaining how this is different to a spooky Halloween and more about a celebration of those that have passed. I'm thinking we can make some cookies to pop inside the gift bags. To go with these a set of Fibre Tip Pens. The packet has 3 sets which is great as they seem to go missing in our house. Halloween Dotty Art - something new I've not tried before. Black and white dotty pictures with sticker sheets in multi coloured dots to make up the pictures. Looking forward to trying these with the little one as he like using stickers. The woodland Friend stickers will be emptied into a bowl for the kids to just create (make a mess) with on sheets of paper. Thehttp://www.bakerross.co.uk/owl-jewel-decoration-kits-1 http://www.bakerross.co.uk/owl-jewel-decoration-kits-1 got opened straight away (and when the husband came home he got instructed in the art of owl decorations too) M loved these as it was easy to follow and he enjoyed making it himself. Its now hanging above his bed. The Sand Leaf decorations kit looks FUN!!! But that one will need my full attention - but hoping to turn the finished ones into a wreath. The Halloween PomPom kits will be perfect half term fun - everything you need in the package to add some spooky fun to our front room. And finally some cute little bee badges.

What are your kids crafting plans for half term? 

#BRCraftClub ~BRbloggers

10 Oct 2016

Flora Lunchbox Challenge

Packed lunches. I'll be honest those 2 words often fill me with dread (usually because its not until 10pm that night I remember I've not made it!) We switched our M over to pack lunches about a year ago - when the school menu changed and I found out my son was choosing to eat a plain jacket and a fruit salad daily. (He is a fussy eater and needs a BIG push to try new things. He is also stubborn.) and making the change over to packed lunches had been a learning curve for me. Especially for a fussy eater. Towing that line between offering a lunch which is balanced, he will eat and fill him up for the rest of his school day.

The team over at Flora commissioned a survey to look into the packed lunches that are heading into schools all across the country. They found out that 1.6% of primary school packed lunches in England are meeting the nutritional standards for school food.

Flora are launching their latest campaign to help improve school lunches across the nation. The understand that we don't need a lecture on it, instead we need help, ideas and solutions to help us (at 10pm when we realise we have forgotten) to create a simple and healthy lunch. Flora have distributed 631,000 lunchboxes across the UK which contain easy to make and plant based recipes.
These little booklets are fab and is a puzzle piece to slot together a packed lunch which ticks all the boxes. The issue I have with my eldest is that he does not like cold things like ham or cheese - and will not eat pasta or cold cous cous. This leads very few options for us when making his lunch on a sandwich type. I really like the look of these Ham-Asaurus sandwiches - which you never know might get my cold meat avoiding son to maybe just maybe to try them. He has a problem with ceratin food textures, mainly "gooey" as he calls it - we just need to keep trying.

This does mean I have to be a little bit more creative when it comes to my lunch options for him - as his "sandwiches" are around the same theme - a jam of some type or dairylea. I try and offer lots of fruit (which he loves) as well as some more snacky type bits alongside. The booklet does offer some fantastic ideas of chicken pittas and filled sandwiches (which I'm sure my youngest will love when we get to that age) but these options do not work for my biggest boy sadly.

I put together a couple of lunches taking inspiration from the guide.
This first lunch has a mini bagel with cream cheese in it. (I try occasionally sneaking in cucumber - it comes back in soggy half eaten mess or a sandwich uneaten) Then half a packet of some ready salted crisps, a mixed selections of fresh strawberries and blueberries, a fruit snack school bar and a homemade oaty chocolate bite. These bites are like little flapjacks and the recipe is from Ellas Kitchen Big Baking Book- based on their chunky oaty cookies.
These were made by melting together butter, honey and golden syrup - before adding in oats and flour. I stirred in some chocolate drops also - as a little bit of a treat. Baked for 15 minutes then left to cool. Drizzled over a little melted chocolate and added a few Halloween sprinkles. This mixture made around 16 bites and the oats will give some slow release energy for the afternoon and little brains to work.
This lunch is 4 cream crackers and Dairylea triangle (an easy to digest cheese and biscuits), with the other half of the crisps, a plum and orange, a drinkable yoghurt and an mini apple cake. This recipe is great for using up those soft apples in the fruit bowl. Its a very light sponge mix but heavy on the baked apple. I used dark brown sugar which gives it a lovely caramel flavour.

This recipe is from the really worth buying How to feed your whole family by Gill Holcombe based on her All in One Apple Cake. Using 5 sweet apples chopped and diced mixed with sugar and spices before adding in 2 eggs, a little flour and some oil. Stirring together you get almost a pancake type mixture. I baked these into small cases rather than one big cake. These are a nice little sweet end to a little lunch for little fingers.

My boy is growing big and is always on the go - keeping him in food, and interesting food is one that will be a continual battle in our house. Keeping giving him things he is not keen on and balancing in that alongside foods he will eat is what is working for us right now.


This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here.