Category: At Home

New Year, New Family Goals

Welcome to 2020!Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

I hope you are feeling well and ready for all the fun and challenges that the new year will bring.

New Year’s Resolutions are not really my thing, but I have a few general goals I like to remind myself at the beginning of the year.

I love to spend time together as a family and want to make the most of our time with our young kids who are quickly growing up.

More Time Outdoors

We all need time outdoors and it is really easy to miss out on time together outside. Even if it is just a ten minute wander up to the local park, I want to try and get out more with the kids.

Eating Together at the Table

I like to eat together as a family at the table whenever possible. The after school activities can make this difficult, but it is something to aim towards.

Eat Healthier

Wherever possible, I like to make homemade meals. Clubs and evening activities are my biggest problem in making meals from scratch as we are often rushing from one thing to the next. When I’m on form, I like to make a good stir fry, but preparation can take time. We are not keen on the finely chopped veg that comes in packets as we like chunky vegetables and different textures.

Avoiding Garbage Viewing

Like most kids, mine are easily absorbed with utter garbage on YouTube and Netflix. I understand the need for downtime and I am happy for my kids to watch television and iPads at times.

There are some great programmes and apps designed for kids. For example Horrible Histories, Operation Ouch, CBeebies apps, most of the CBBC programmes etc. However the kids often stumble into rubbish content. They are then exposed to massive amounts of advertising and potentially inappropriate content.

They love to dance around the living room to music videos but again, I find some of the content very questionable and I hate to see young children copying inappropriate moves from music videos. Often ones that are supposedly aimed at kids ( I’m looking at you Little Mix, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift).

Regular Games Night

We only have one evening in the week where we don’t go out to clubs and activities. I try to make sure we have some family time rather than just lose the night in front of the television. The kids love to play games with us and I am going to try and make sure we all make time for this. I feel really bad when get to the end of the week without having sat around the dining table with a family game. Our current favourites are 5 Second Rule, Cluedo, Monopoly Junior, Game of Life Junior, Yahtzee and dominoes.

Good luck with any New Year’s Resolutions or Family Goals that you may have.


Getting Outdoors With the Kids

During the Summer holidays we spent a lot of time outdoors. We enjoyed many cheap and free days out and about close to where we live in West Yorkshire. We went to parks, we picked blackberries and we went for some short walks. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country, but most people can get outdoors to an open space within a fairly short time.

One day we went to an Art in the Park session run by the local council. We all had a lovely morning, despite the cool weather. The session involved collecting things from nature to make pretty artworks and sculptures. It was a sweet idea and all the kids seemed to really enjoy it. It was surprising how colourful the materials were that we found in the woods.

The kids created some lovely pictures and we were advised what we could and couldn’t pick from the woodland area. The session was quite inspiring and I would like to do it again sometime in our local woods. You don’t need anything at all, but we had some card, glue sticks and some charcoal. We collected blackberries, leaves and flowers (as advised by council organisers).

We also looked at some natural sculptures before creating our own. The kids were all very creative, making lovely patterns and structures. Some kids built dens and others made miniature forests and sculptures. My kids made patterns using different colours and sizes of leaves.

As Autumn approaches, I am really keen to get outdoors, as I find we need to make the most of the sunlight that we have. It is tempting to hibernate over the cooler months, but I think we will head out for some Autumnal art at some point. We can easily make sculptures with different coloured leaves or make a picture using natural materials.

Make and Paint Salt Dough Models Craft Activity

Make and paint dough models
Salt dough models

My kids loved making and painting these salt dough models.

I thought this would be a major hassle to make, but actually it was really simple and a great way to spend a rainy day.

We only needed three basic ingredients and some cookie cutters. You just need to allow a bit of time for baking your creations before you can paint them.

My kids aged six and three enjoyed the whole process. We had fun making the dough, creating the models and painting them once they had been baked in the oven.

You can make ornaments, Christmas decorations, necklaces. The dough can be quite heavy if your dough is thick and chunky so if making Christmas tree decorations or necklaces you may want to roll the dough quite thin. Our dough models did expand a bit in the oven meaning they were a bit fatter once baked.

Salt Dough Recipe

1 quantity of plain flour; 1/2 quantity of table salt; 1/2 quantity of cold tap water

We used the following:

225g plain flour

113g table salt

100ml cold water

  1. Add salt and flour to a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Gradually stir in the water. Mix well to form a doughy consistency, not too wet.
  3. Place the doughy mix onto a board or tray (we used a plastic chopping board).
  4. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth and combined.
  5. Make your models/creations using the salt dough.
  6. Place the salt dough models onto a baking tray and place into the oven at 160C (fan assisted).
  7. Bake for about an hour. This may vary depending on the size and thickness of the models.
  8. Paint using acrylic paint or poster paint.

Salt Dough Models

We made a range of models using salt dough including fish, a Christmas tree, love hearts and gingerbread men.

You can be as creative as you like. For example, you could make letters, numbers, animals, flowers – whatever you fancy.

You can use biscuit cutters or simply mould the dough into whatever shapes you wish. If you want to make a hanging ornament or Christmas tree decoration, you can use a paperclip and stick the paperclip into the dough leaving a round hook exposed. To make a necklace or garland, you can use a skewer or a toothpick to puncture the dough and make a hole (prior to baking).

You could create a print of your child’s hand or footprint using salt dough.

Colouring Salt Dough

We painted our models after baking in the oven using normal poster paints. You can also use acrylic paint. Some people suggest sealing your creations with PVA glue or another sealant, however we didn’t and ours turned out fine.

You can use colouring in the water when making the dough if you want to colour the whole batch of dough.

You could incorporate glitter into the dough if you want to add a bit of sparkle to the mix.

Storage of Salt Dough Models

Models should be kept in an airtight container to avoid getting moisture to them.


Colourful Doodle Drawings Easy Craft With Kids

picture of child colouring in a doodle picture
Easy craft colourful doodles

I love a pretty (but easy) craft and these colourful doodle pictures simply require some paper and some colouring pens.

My kids (aged 6 and 3) enjoyed doing this and I sat with them and joined in. It was a rare calm afternoon where we all switched off and enjoyed doodling.

I was surprised how long my kids sat and coloured at the table. My 3 year old simply scribbled all over the page, but she was happy to join in.

With the Summer holidays approaching, I find it really handy to have a bunch of ideas for sitting together and doing something. This was more fun than expected and the final doodles looked great.

How To Make Colourful Doodle Pictures

Draw squiggly lines all over a piece of paper. You can do as many or as few as you like. You can draw swirly patterns or any shapes you like. We used a black felt tip pen. Colour in the shapes that you have created.

My kids enjoyed doing this and are really proud of their colourful creations.

Paper Plate Animals Easy Craft for Kids

paper plate tiger craftEasy Craft Paper Plate Animals

Here’s an idea for an easy craft with kids to make paper plate animals. We made a tiger and a sheep, but there’s lots of ideas for different animals using a few simple materials.

We have spent quite a bit of time indoors lately with all the cold wet weather. This always means we find time for some simple crafts. We had a stack of paper plates so this is what we did.

My kids love to make things and paint things, especially when we’re stuck indoors. We recently had a bit of fun making animals with paper plates.


Simple Craft Materials

I am not generally one for expensive specialist materials and making animals out of paper plates requires very few. To make the tiger that my six year old made (with minimal help), you just need paper plates and colouring pens or paints and some googly eyes.

My two year old made a sheep using cotton wool. I applied plenty of PVA glue and she simply stuck lots of cotton wool all over the paper plate. She then stuck on some eyes and a bit of black paper for a nose and mouth.

Other Animal Ideas

There are loads of animals that you could make with just a few materials.

A rabbit would be easy if you made a couple of ears out of paper or card and added some eyes, whiskers and teeth.

You could make a panda if you cut out some circles from black paper or card and stuck them on the plate.

An owl would be simple with a couple of large circles for eyes and a triangular nose. You could decorate this with feathers and make wings and feet from extra bits of paper plates.

You can make seasonal paper plate crafts such as bunnies for Easter, pumpkins for Halloween or reindeer for Christmas.

Paper Plate Animal Masks

You can easily adapt these paper plate animals to make masks. You can simply cut eye holes in the plate and added a little elastic to fit around your child’s head.


Lunch Ideas Beyond Beans on Toast

beans on toast with melted cheeseI want to share some ideas for lunch at home beyond beans on toast.

I love beans on toast. I really love beans on toast with melted cheese and chunky Branston – yum. It is quick, cheap and easy to make. It is one of the plus points of being at home with my two year old daughter, who also loves beans on toast, thankfully. However you can only eat beans on toast so many times!

I often struggle to think beyond the most obvious lunches and forget about lots of quick and simple alternatives. Quick and simple is key when at home with kids. So this post is dedicated to thinking beyond beans on toast and giving some inspiration for alternative lunches at home.

Quick Lunches

Sandwiches are an obvious choice, but I like to go beyond ham and cheese when I can. How about egg mayonnaise with some rocket leaves, smoked salmon and cream cheese with rocket and a little lemon and pepper (ideally on a toasted bagel).

Eggs are so versatile, but I hardly ever make eggs for lunch. I love scrambled eggs on toast with a little brown sauce. Boiled egg and soldiers is great. Poached eggs are great if cooked to your preference, rubbish if not.

Cheese on toast is a nice lunch for a toddler. Stilton and lightly fried mushrooms on toast is amazing for me. I lightly fry mushrooms in some butter and add stilton until it just starts to melt then pour over toast. Alternatively you can add a little milk to the mushrooms in the pan, warm up and pour over toast.

Bit More Time

Pasta offers so many options for quick and easy lunches. The following are my favourites for a simple lunch. Simply cook some pasta and add a little olive oil and crushed chilli flakes. If I have left over bacon I will often fry up some of that and have it with pasta and passata (optional addition of onions and mushrooms or olives). I have done the same with left over sausages. I have added some cream cheese to pasta before, along with some pepper, which is ok for a quick lunch.

Omelettes are a filling option. I hardly ever make an omelette, but whenever I do, I think I must do this more often and then leave it another six months. My favourite fillings are cheese, onion and ham, pepper and mushroom.

Jacket potatoes are great when you fancy something filling and hot. I like a crispy skin so I cook mine in the microwave first then cover the skin in oil and salt and put them in the oven for at least 20 minutes. My favourite toppings are cheese, tuna mayonnaise, mushroom and stilton works well.

I hope this provides a little inspiration for lunches at home.

Like many Stay At Home Mums, I get digs from others about my life of afternoon teas and coffee mornings with the other Mums. I know that I am lucky to go out for lunch with my daughter fairly often, although lunch out with a toddler is far from a relaxing event. The reality is that my daughter and I spend a lot of time having lunch at home, normally eating beans on toast or ham sandwiches. Sometimes we have something a little more adventurous for lunch.

Any more suggestions for lunch at home would be much appreciated if you’d like to leave a comment.

Mummy Moment

Mummy moment - sewing a bunny's leg after drinking wineThere are certain times where you look at your situation and think, yes, this is one of those ‘Mummy Moments’. Prior to kids, you can imagine certain inevitable Mummy Moments, such as the cuddles after a fall or playing in a park or walking your child to school. Others are less obvious and sometimes less natural.

Tonight’s Mummy Moment involved me sewing up a fluffy bunny after drinking wine. I promised my daughter that I would do it before I went to bed. She had questioned whether I would be able to do it. I said “Of course” as I walked away wondering whether, in fact, I could do it! I settled to watch a film and drank some wine, then remembered I promised, therefore, I must sew up the bunny as best I can.

So here I am. It is a Saturday night and my daughter is sleeping like an angel in her bed and I am sitting on the couch sewing up a stuffed toy while watching a film.

I can remember my Mum sewing items of clothing and making me dresses when I was a child and she seemed like she knew what she was doing. I just thread a needle back and forth and hope that it will suffice. Sewing isn’t something I’m very good at. However, it is quicker and easier than expected.

Before I went to bed, I placed the bunny in my daughter’s arms. She was fast asleep and I kiss her goodnight on her forehead whispering “night, night”.

The next morning, she rushed into my bedroom at an early hour and threw her arms around me, saying thank you for fixing her favourite bunny.

It wasn’t such a big deal after all and it is nice to be appreciated now and again!

Fruit Smoothies – The Only Way We Can Get 5 A Day

Kids loving fruit smoothiesFruit smoothies are the only way I can get my kids to enjoy fruit. I have tried and tried to make fruit fun and a treat and normal. My eldest is ok and likes a few fruits, but my youngest just will not eat fruit – or vegetables – without a battle.

I find that fruit smoothies are an easy way to get a lot of fruit into them without complaints and they actually love them. I used to buy them in cartons, but now I let the kids choose what fresh fruit they want and I get them involved in preparing the fruit and whizzing up the mixture. We experiment with different fruits and I spend a lot less time worrying about how little fruit my kids are eating.

It is quite a handy way of using up fruit as well as we are all a bit picky about fruit being just right when we eat it, but it can be a bit past its best and it is still fine in a smoothie.

I do have a smoothie maker, however it is a great big piece of kit and it is a pain to wash up after use. My preferred method is simply using a tall measuring jug and an electric whisk. I am a bit nervous about the whisk so the kids know it is my job to do the mixing with the electronic whisk but they can have a mix up of the fruit with a fork or spoon.

You can use all sorts of ingredients, but our favourites are oranges, bananas, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, apple, blueberries, blackberries, pear. We have added yogurt and milk to strawberries and banana.

You can use frozen fruits as well and I often buy the frozen packs of forest fruits or berries and throw them in. I do find that if I put the frozen bits in last I often end up spreading frozen bits of fruit around the kitchen, which isn’t ideal so best to get them in first and cover with fresh fruit. We have also added juice sometimes when it is a bit thick and cranberry juice, orange juice or pomegranate juice are all great to thin it down and sweeten it.

I wish I had realised sooner what a big hit fruit smoothies would be. It really is quite simple and I like the fact that the kids are getting involved and talking positively about fruit.

This week I managed to get my eldest daughter to get dressed for school and down for breakfast in record time as I promised her a smoothie if she could get down quickly enough. That will be a useful trick to remember on those days when she isn’t feeling very motivated.

My next challenge will be to try adding vegetables such as carrot and beetroot. When they were little tots I did add a bit of spinach now and again to blended fruit. I couldn’t taste it in and amongst stewed apple and oranges so that was a handy hidden ingredient. I can just imagine the reaction if I attempted that now and the dark green colour would not go down well.