Archive for the ‘Informative’ Category
It’s a great idea to bake with your kids. Not only does it teach them how to follow instructions, help to develop their hand eye coordination and motor skills and teach them about problem solving it is also a way to sneak some basic maths in under the radar. Lets not forget you get to spend quality time with them too.
There are limitless recipes you can try, complete with books from top chefs and TV cooks, but with money being an issue for many of us these days we can’t always stretch to a lot of fancy ingredients.
So what can we make with the bits and bobs we usually have kicking around in our cupboards? You may need to liven your store cupboard up with a few of the basics to start with but you can buy your local supermarket’s own brand to keep the cost down and then use them for multiple recipes. Remember too that the internet is a vast resource of recipes that are free.
Hopefully the recipes I have chosen cover family favourites, easy beginner ideas and a few tea time winners that you can make with the kids or for the kids …
Easy Three Ingredient Biscuits from Frugal Family
I’ll start with a quick and easy biscuit recipe which is a great basic for you to experiment with.
Don’t forget you are not forced to make a full batch of any recipe and this particular one is a cinch to divide in half which keeps the cost down.
A huge part of the fun here is choosing your cutter and deciding how to decorate your biscuits but these are also yummy left completely plain.
If your kids are old enough to bake on their play dates these biscuits would be ideal to make, cool and ice in the time you have available.
We have to bake milk free in our house and this recipe is easy to convert using a dairy free spread instead of butter or margarine. If you are new to substituting dairy free spread in to your makes remember that some can be wetter than regular margarine and can alter the balance of the recipe so start with the amount that is stated and if you end up with biscuits that are not quite right you can tweak it next time.
Visit Frugal Family for the recipe.
Banana Bread from Inspired Taste
We love bananas in our house and they are the ultimate convenient snack already packaged for you to pick up and go. What we don’t like is over ripe bananas but you can guarantee there will be one lurking in the fruit bowl at the end of the week.
This is where banana bread comes in because just at the point where you think “Yuck” your banana is perfect to make this tasty cake in fact if your banana isn’t ripe then you won’t get that scrummy banana flavour you are looking for.
This is one of the recipes which might mean your store cupboard needs a bit of a boost. Baking is a little bit about science and some ingredients in a recipe are necessary for it to work so don’t leave out things like flour, eggs and baking soda (which is bicarbonate of soda in the UK). However if you don’t have cinnamon or vanilla extract it’s no big deal.
Don’t be put off when you see “All Purpose Flour” in the ingredients list as this is simply pain flour. A huge selling point for me is that I can slice this, cut it in to sticks and freeze it ready for packed lunches.
Visit Inspired Taste for the recipe.
Brownies from Olive Magazine
Chocolate … mmm!
I’m going to hold my hands up straight away and say this is not the healthiest of recipes but when it comes to chocolate you’ve just got to be decadent.
This recipe from Olive Magazine gives you the method to make basic brownies and then four ideas for variations which is something the kids will love and they might even want to experiment with their own variation … just substitute the 100g of added yumminess for your own choices.
Visit Olive Magazine for the recipe.
Ginger Cake from Fuss Free Flavours (Dairy Free, Vegan and Egg Free)
If you are vegan or need to stay dairy free then this traditional style ginger cake is perfect for you. If however these things aren’t a concern for you then don’t be put off because this cake is still a winner. It’s perfect to cut in to mini squares for packed lunches or to give to the kids when they need an after school snack.
I love ginger cake, it reminds me of Sunday tea at my grandma’s house when we were growing up, but I’ve never tried putting chilli in it and there’s a variation which uses just that so I must give it a try. I wonder what grandma would think.
Visit Fuss Free Flavours for the recipe.
Two (Well Three Really) Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies from Kirbie Cravings
What if you’ve got that dodgy over ripe banana in your fruit bowl but you don’t have time, or the ingredients, to go full on for a loaf cake? These cookies are the answer.
I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for ages. The first thing to say is this is not a crunchie cookie but don’t let that put you off.
The second thing is that this recipe uses quick oats and I have regular Quaker Oats in my storecupboard so what is the difference? Quick oats have been pre cooked and so they give you a softer texture. You can still use regular oats though just give them a quick pulse in your processor to break them up. If you don’t have a food processor briefly pre soak the oats in a tiny amount of water or milk. Remember the liquid will have an impact on the recipe so don’t use too much.
To be honest the first time I try this I’m going to go rogue and just use my regular oats straight from the box after all it’s just banana and oats so it might be a bit chewier but nothing serious is going to happen.
The best part of this recipe is it’s tweaking potential as you can switch out the chocolate chips for dried fruit or nuts or seeds … or all three … and this is another one that would suit lunch boxes.
Visit Kirbie Cravings for the recipe.
Very Best Granola from Cookie And Kate
I don’t need to bang on about how important breakfast is when your kids have a day of school ahead of them but there’s so much choice on the supermarket shelves it can get a bit overwhelming trying to keep the whole family happy.
Why then would you make your own granola?
Lets start off with oats being a natural source of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Oats keep you feeling fuller for longer which means you are less likely to reach for that sugary snack mid morning.
Next you can whip this up with minimal effort and if the kids help then there’s more chance they will try it.
But here’s why I love homemade granola … everyone in the house can use the milk that suits them, whether it be cows milk or dairy free, and if you make it with out nuts and fruit then the family can add the things they like to their own bowl. I am the only one who likes nuts in our house but even then too many give me stomach ache so I don’t add them to my bowl every day.
Now obviously you can buy granola in the shops but it is expensive and many brands include a large amount of sugar. I definitely recommend having a go at making your own.
Visit Cookie And Kate for the recipe.
Granola Cookies from Mess For Less
Right … you’ve made your own granola and you’re converted so what next?
Why not take the granola that you have made to suit your family’s taste and make cookies for that extra treat factor?
What if you don’t want to make your own granola? No problem … shop bought will work just as well in this recipe.
Visit Mess For Less for the recipe.
Mini Baked Bean Muffins from Kidspot
It’s probably safe to say that most of us have at least one can of beans in our store cupboard. They are the ultimate in fast food and teamed up with a decent piece of nutty wholemeal toast they are good for you.
Remember that the companies that bring us this yummy little bean in a tin now also offer a low salt and low sugar version which will be ideal for this recipe as the beans are mixed with plenty of tasty extras to make the muffins. The bonus here is that the beans are an ingredient, not the main event, so a can of budget low sugar and low salt beans will still give you the beany yumminess you need.
If you have picky eaters in your house this might be a way of sneaking some veg under the radar … chop those red peppers nice and small.
We don’t tend to have spring onions to hand but we do usually have onions kicking around and I’ve even used pickled onions in recipes like this as they are basically just a mini onion. I usually give them a quick rinse under the cold tap first to wash off any excess vinegar.
In the end you could chop and use any veg you have to hand in these muffins and yes they would be fab in the kids lunch boxes. This recipes is going on my “Must Try” list.
Visit Kidspot for the recipe.
Soda Bread from Easy Peasy Foodie (Dairy Free)
This is half of the ultimate store cupboard combo in our house teamed up with soup made from what ever veg my husband brings back from the allotment. Both are fast and tasty.
I have included this recipe, which is dairy free, because I have used it and I know it works but you can just as easily use cow’s milk instead using the vinegar in the same way to convert it in to butter milk. I invested in a good quality bottle of apple cider vinegar which was costly however we have soda bread a lot and because you only need one tablespoon per loaf the bottle is lasting a long time.
I’m going to hold my hands up here and say I don’t use wholemeal flour because we found it a little heavy and so I use plain flour for the full 350 grams required.
Don’t tip the entire jug of homemade buttermilk in to your dry ingredients as each batch of flour will suck up different amounts of liquid. Some times I need all of it but other times I don’t. You need to be able to handle your dough so you don’t want a sticky mess. Having said that I have gone too far and made that mess but it’s not the end of the world … scoop it up with your big spoon, drop it on to the baking sheet and make a fairly reasonable round shape and it will still be lovely.
Soda bread has the bonus of being filling and gives you the opportunity to pimp it with dried herbs. We like chilli flakes in ours too.
To be honest there are never left overs when we have soda bread but hubby has taken it to work the following day with soup and reheated it in the microwave … it was a hit with him. Remember that you don’t have to make the full batch. I make half the quantity when there are just two of us.
I can whip this up and have it in the oven in minutes now. It’s also great with a stew or casserole and it means that at the end of the week when the big shop is due and you have run out of potatoes you can still fill the family with out that dangerous top up shop which always costs more than you want it to.
It might take a few tries to bake the soda bread to your liking as ovens do vary but it’s worth it and it is certainly a cheap and easy way to fill your family up. I like to make four individual loaves which take a little less time to cook and I turn them over five minutes before the baking time runs out.
Visit Easy Peasy Foodie for the recipe.
Scone Based Pizza from BBC Good Food
Scone based pizza … genius! It’s quick, there’s no yeast to mess about with and you can be fancy or use what ever you have in the fridge. The kids will enjoy picking toppings for their own pizza
You could consider making a big batch of your own sauce with tinned tomatoes and packed full of veg then blended smooth to hide the good stuff. This would freeze in portions so it’s ready to lift out and use on your pizzas and pasta.
You can visit Healthy Little Foodies to see a recipe for pizza/pasta sauce which will give you a great place to start if you fancy having a go at making your own. Tweak it to suit your budget and your available larder.
If you don’t want to make the sauce then the pizza recipe includes a method to make a speedy topping but you could also use a jar.
I am very rustic when I make scone pizza as I didn’t actually start with an official recipe I just use a plain scone recipe, usually with dried chives added, and then literally top it with what ever I have in. I don’t even roll the dough out as you can use your hands to shape and flatten it. I find that individual pizzas cook better than a giant one and the family can have different toppings if they want to.
We use dairy free cheese which used to be a bit of a gamble but recent advances in coconut based products mean the poor dog doesn’t have to put up with some of the cooking smells we used to inflict on her in the name of finding something that vaguely resembled cheese.
The added bonus here is that this is fab cold the next day in your lunch box.
Visit BBC Good Food for the recipe.
Breakfast Egg Cups from Delish
To be fair very few of us are going to go to this much trouble for breakfast however these look like a really fun weekend lunch treat or after school meal teamed up with beans.
The kids would get a real kick out of making their own … younger ones will need you to put the tray in the oven and remove it for them.
Visit Delish for the recipe.
Sweetcorn Fritters from The Petite Cook
Sweetcorn fritters are on my “Must try” list so I really should take this opportunity to make this recipe.
If, like me, you are using dairy free milk add it cautiously as I find you don’t need as much as the recipe states for regular cow’s milk.
If you don’t like chilli then leave it out. In the UK we call cilantro coriander and if you don’t like it, or you don’t have it, leave this out too.
Visit The Petite Cook for the recipe.
Tuna Fishcakes from Healthy Little Foodies
Opinion in our house is divided. I think that hot tuna is horrid however the rest fof the family will quite happily tuck in. If, like me, the idea of hot tuna makes you pull a funny face then you can substitute it out for a tin of salmon which is very tasty but obviously more expensive and to be fair we are more likely to find a tin of tuna lurking in our store cupboard than a tin of salmon.
I like to start mine off in the frying pan and then finish them in the oven as we like crispy bits but you can go for all oven or all stove top if you prefer.
I cook my potato in advance so it is cold when I make the cakes and if you have time to pop the formed cakes in to the fridge for a short chill this will help to stop them breaking up while you cook them.
Visit Tuna Fishcakes from Healthy Little Foodies for the recipe.
Even now as a grown up I still love to colour and given the opportunity to sit down with one of the kids for a colouring session I’ll jump at the chance (… we will gloss over the issue of exactly how old I am!).
Although having fun should always be the main focus of anything crafty or creative when it comes to our kids there’s actually more to the simple act of colouring than you might think.
Learning To Concentrate.
Children need to learn that some times it is necessary to be still. This is just as important for your sanity as it is for their development.
To begin with kids don’t want to sit and colour for extended periods of time however as they progress their attention span will improve and they will concentrate for longer.
Quiet time gives your child chance to rest and their body the opportunity to recuperate from physical activity. It has a positive impact on every day life from giving you short periods of respite during your normal daily routine to teaching them that when you are in situations where you would like your child to sit and be patient, like the doctors waiting room, they can do so without a fuss.
Hand Eye Coordination And Fine Motor Skills.
It’s worth remembering children will not be able to colour inside the lines from the get go and it may be that other kids your child’s age will do it first. Don’t get hung up on this. If you are concerned have a quiet word with your child’s teacher meanwhile encourage them to enjoy what they are doing and give them the room to develop.
When a toddler picks up a crayon initially they will use a clenched fist grip. Learning to hold a pencil takes time and is a considerable skill for a child to master.
Colouring along with your child can be a huge benefit as they will observe how you are holding your colouring pencil and how you stay inside the lines then strive to copy you.
Something To Be Proud Of.
It may just be a scribble to you but your child put their heart in to it. Praising their drawing will help them to develop confidence in their abilities. Consider putting aside a section of wall where you can display their art to show them they can be proud of their achievements. It’s a great way for them to make their mark on their own room but even better in the kitchen or hall way where other people will comment on their art work and give them praise.
Learning To Recognise Colours.
Even if you feel your child is too young to learn the colours you can still start to reinforce their names by mentioning them as your child scribbles.
“I like your yellow squiggle.”
“Oh you are using blue. That’s my favourite colour.”
“Grandma’s scarf is red like that.”
Once your child moves on to paint there is a lot of fun to be had experimenting and mixing two, or more, colours together to make a new colour.
Obviously as a prolific crafter I am a little biased here but there’s nothing quite like doing something creative to calm you down, improve your mood and make you feel better about yourself which boosts your self confidence and enhances your well being.
Getting creative gives your child the chance to chill out and sit quietly while learning to make decisions about their project including planning and implementing their own ideas.
I grew up in a time where you were bombarded with phrases like “Blue and green should not be seen” and “Don’t wear stripes with spots” … well who says?
Children are not born with boundaries or a fear of experimenting and so while you do want them to learn how to recreate a scene with green grass, a blue sky and a yellow sun you also want them to play with colour and design to find their own style.
Some of the best advancements have been made because somebody was brave enough to step outside the confines of their craft.
We live in a fast paced world. You may not consider yourself to be artistic and the thought of a messy craft might fill you with dread but you can sit down with your child for ten minutes and colour in. They are not going to care whether your colours go together or how well you stay inside the lines they will just love spending time with you.
When it comes to crafting I’m a huge advocate of bending the rules, some of the best results come from experimenting and pushing the boundaries, however before you get excited and throw the rule book out of the window there are things your kids need to learn first.
Any Friends fans out there will recognise the Monica quote “Rules are good. Rules help control the fun!”. Alright so that is just a line from a sitcom and it sounds extreme but there is still relevance here.
One of the most important things to tackle is teaching your child not to draw or paint on the furniture or the walls. They don’t know this is wrong unless you tell them and although you might feel that it’s not the end of the world kids do need to learn respect for their surroundings. To start with make sure the crayons and paints are put away when the kids are finished with them which will help prevent any lapses of judgement before your child fully understands what is and isn’t acceptable. We are lucky that this has never been a big deal in our house … I dropped it in to the conversation several times early on and I’ve never needed to go beyond that. To begin with we had a table that we did messy things on and this helps reinforce the idea that there are places where it’s alright to have the odd splash or slip. Yes paint, glue and water still get knocked over in our house too but if it’s in our kitchen where I can easily clean it up then it’s no big deal.
Another no no is the child putting the crayon in their mouth. If you get on top of this when it’s just crayons you will avoid any unfortunate run ins with felt tips or biros later on.
Your house rules are up to you. My mum cannot stand being sticky so her rules differ from mine and there’s nothing wrong with your child learning that people and places have different rules.
I am a member of several Facebook craft based groups and there are still plenty of people who will tell you that their chosen craft should be done a specific way but for the most part having fun and experimenting is definitely the way to go so once you’ve got your basic rules in place let your imagination loose and enjoy being creative.
There is a danger that we are producing a generation who can not sit still unless they have some kind of tech in their hand. Why not pop a small notebook and a pack of mini crayons in to your bag so they are available to occupy your child at any time. As they get older they might enjoy making lists or plans as well as drawing which will help them practice their handwriting.
Did You Know … ?
The internet has a huge amount of free printables that you can run off on your printer and use as you would a colouring book? Take a look at the Free Colouring Pages section on our information site Pocket Parent here.
Kids love to craft and create their own mini master pieces however we can’t all afford to splash out on a huge selection of crafting goodies especially when you might only need something once leaving it sitting unused and unloved.
If cash is tight you can still have a lot of fun with a collection of staple items that will be used time and again. You can always add to this later.
The internet and You Tube are both stuffed full of tempting tutorials that you might wish you could try out so ask yourself if it makes a suitable gift for somebody you usually buy for. If it does then you can offset the cost of the materials against the number of gifts you would have bought … which explains why almost my entire Christmas gift list got bath bombs one year.
But back to those core crafting supplies …
Get yourself a set of ready mixed paint. Remember that even if you only have red, blue and yellow you can mix your colours to make more.
Adding black and white to your set means you can make pink with your red and white or grey with your black and white. Look out for washable paints which will make clean up a lot easier and if your kids do handprints or finger prints their skin won’t be stained.
If you can stretch to a set of children’s ready mixed acrylic paints then this will open up an extra world of possibilities as they stick to trickier surfaces.
PVA glue is inexpensive and can be bought in volume. This is not only a glue … mixed with equal parts of water it makes a clear glaze. Equal parts of ready mixed paint, PVA glue and water make a paint that should stick to things with a shiny surface like empty washing up liquid bottles.
Age appropriate scissors are a must. If you have little ones then buy a pair of round ended scissors suitable for their small hands but remember you need a grown up pair for yourself to tackle any tougher jobs.
High street bargain buy shops will have packs of coloured card and tissue paper which are always great to have in. Look for packs that include white to keep the cost down.
Right then you’ve got yourself stocked up now lets look at some ideas …
Egg Carton Goldfish from The Craft Train
This is such a fun idea.
Why not make additional elements to go with it, like a plant, and make a fish tank display in a shoe box.
Rest the box on to one of it’s long sides to make it easy to see what is inside. You can decorate inside the box with blue paint to make it look like water.
Visit The Craft Train for more information.
DIY Journal from Creme De La Craft
I’m adding this one to our list to do over the summer.
This can be as simple or as decorated as your child wants it to be and they can use it however they like … a record of what they did over the summer, thoughts and wishes, birds and insects they spotted in the garden, trips they’ve been on … the ideas are endless.
Visit Creme De La Craft for more information.
Bookmarks from Red Ted Art
I’m going to admit to being a little excited to find a Darth Vader book mark tutorial but if these three don’t take your fancy Red Ted Art has stacks more so click on over and take a look.
For the teddy instructions click here.
For the rainbow instructions click here.
For the Darth Vader instructions click here.
Glue Batik Art from Artful Parent
Don’t be put off by Elmers Glue as PVA is the same thing.
There’s plenty of potential here to make gift cards or pictures for the wall.
This is a pretty cool technique … I fancy trying it on a canvas.
Visit Artful Parent for more information.
Clothes Peg Trivets from Dream A Little Bigger
If you are a regular you will probably be used to me waffling on about the crafts we used to do as kids and yes this is another of those.
You will need to invest in a pack of wooden pegs but the finished trivet will make a great gift so it’s a two for one situation.
Visit Dream A Little Bigger for more information.
Marbling DIY from Fresh Crush
I’ve picked this one particularly for the marbled tile coaster idea but the tutorial gives details on how to marble other items too.
If you make ceramic tile coasters remember to buy felt pads to stick on the rough side, or glue a piece of felt on there, to stop it scratching the table.
Visit Marbling DIY from Fresh Crush for more information.
Dandelion Wish from Glued To My Crafts
This is a printable which will be an issue if you don’t have a printer however take this as inspiration and create your own base with a Sharpie marker then add colourful thumb prints.
You could try a tree silhouette, something that could be lifted by balloons or even a fish tank.
Visit Glued To My Crafts for more information.
Pendants from The Craft Train
I haven’t stumbled on The Craft Train before but it has managed two features on it’s first appearance.
Your PVA glue might not dry clear but you should still get a good result.
Visit The Craft Train for more information.
Knitting and crochet are hugely popular at the moment and if you have had a go at one or both then you will have some lovely left over yarn to play with so why not inspire the kids to make things with wool?
If you haven’t been bitten by the woolly bug yet then pop in to your local pound shop or discount store to see what treats they have available in their bargain section.
This collection is billed as Wool Crafts For Kids but there are quite a few I fancy having a go at myself … we will just gloss over how old I actually am.
Friendship Bracelet from Crafts Unleashed
Friendship bracelets never go out of fashion and this one would work just as well using a yarn of a decent weight, like double knitting, as it does with macramé twine.
We will be having a go at this one during the summer holidays with out a doubt.
The finished bracelet will make a lovely gift for a family member. Once you’ve caught the bug you can find a variety of intricate designs and tutorials on line.
For more information visit Crafts Unleashed.
You might also like the simple braided bracelet from Red Kitchen.
Wool Web Ball from We Lived Happily Ever After
This is one of my favourites and great for kids as they love getting messy. You can also make them egg shaped at Easter.
They are used to make a garland in this tutorial but you could put them in a basket on the table as a decoration.
Make them as big or as small as you like … big ones would look great hanging outside at a BBQ.
In the UK school glue is also called PVA glue.
For more information visit We Lived Happily Ever After .
Paper Plate Weaving from Red Ted Art
It wouldn’t be a crafty blog with out featuring an idea from the fabulous Red Ted Art and so here it is.
We are a little weaving obsessed in our house and so I can personally recommend this one as a big hit.
If you don’t have paper plates don’t go out and buy the specially … draw round a plate on to the cardboard from a cereal packet.
For more information visit Red Ted Art .
Wool Dolly from My Kid Craft
I have to admit I got a bit nostalgic when I found these woollen dollies as we made so many when we were kids.
Little fingers might find tying the knots a touch fiddly but it would be a fun thing to do together or with an older sibling.
For more information visit My Kid Craft .
Easy Pom Pom from The Organised Housewife
This is super simple no cardboard templates or fancy gadgets you just use your fingers.
Younger children might find it easier to work in pairs with one winding the wool on to their partner’s hand.
For more information visit The Organised Housewife .
Lolly Stick Butterflies from Craft Train
This fun activity is a cross between weaving and pom pom making which is ideal for younger crafters and it’s a great scrap buster too.
For more information visit Craft Train.
Finger Knitting from Little Bird SOS
These days it seems like kids can’t sit still unless they have a mobile phone to tap on but how about finger knitting instead? It might seem a little pointless but actually you can join your knitted pieces together to make all kinds of things.
Look in bargain bins for practise yarn.
For more information visit Little Bird SOS.
Yarn Wrapped Letters from Catch My Party
This is the ultimate scrap buster as you need very little yarn.
You don’t have to use MDF for your base you can cut your initial out of an empty cereal packet.
Embellish your initial with goodies from your crafty stash.
You could make a collection of letters that spell out a word and give them as a gift.
For more information visit Catch My Party.
Olivia Octopus from Red Heart
If you knit or crochet then you will find a bunch of fab free patterns on Red Heart.
The instructions for Olivia Octopus are free and older children will love creating this sweet sea creature in a colour of their choice.
Red Heart yarn is not always readily available in the UK but you could use any double knit wool (DK) or aran weight for a more substantial octopus.
For more information visit Red Heart.
DIY Sewing Cards from Today’s Creative Blog
This is a great way to start little ones off on an easy sewing project.
Pop in to your local pound shop to find a yarn needle or a darning needle and look for the longest and thickest one you can find with a nice blunt end to avoid any accidents.
I love to craft however drawing strikes fear in to my heart so instead of going free hand have a look on the internet for simple line drawings or silhouettes and copy those.
For more information visit Today’s Creative Blog.
We still have a week left before the holidays but it doesn’t hurt to get sorted in advance so you are ready to go when the kids break up.
Summer is often a bit temperamental here in the North of England but we are ever hopeful so here are some activities to try out with the kids in the summer holidays and on the off chance that the weather decides it is not prepared to play ball I have included a few indoor goodies too.
Sponge Water Bombs from Our family of Seven
Lets start off with an optimistic outdoor good weather activity.
To be fair this counts as indoor and outdoor because you could make the sponge water bombs inside on a rainy day and be ready to go at the first glimpse of sun … it’s definitely up there somewhere.
Depending on the amount of use these sponges get you might manage to squeeze in a few repeat battles.
Remember to tell the kids not to aim at anyone’s face and then enjoy the fun.
Visit Our family of Seven for instructions.
Dino Garden from Bub Hub
We’ve all seen fairy gardens but this dinosaur version is a cool twist using plants which look like a prehistoric forest for your mini toy dinos to roam through.
You can go for cactus and succulents to produce a more rugged look but if it’s not a particularly hot summer you can just use anything that takes your fancy.
You could also use herbs to plant up your garden and this will make it extra fun as you can put the herbs in your cooking then too.
Check out Bub Hub for more inspiration.
Garden Mosaic Stone from Intimate Weddings
I broke a special mug recently so this caught my eye as it is a great way to preserve the pieces and have fun making something new.
I think this would make a lovely gift for the kids to make and give to their grandparents for a birthday or Christmas present so you could even get a head start on your Christmas list while you are entertaining the kids in the summer holidays.
Visit Intimate Weddings to see how to make the featured garden stone.
Make A Terrarium from Climate Kids NASA
If the weather is unrelenting and the kids are bouncing off the walls why not try a spot of indoor gardening?
Making this terrarium will provide plenty of entertainment value while you plan it, shop for the parts, put it together, look after it and watch it grow.
Fly over to Climate Kids NASA for more info.
Pet Rocks from Living Well Mom
This is a great activity for all ages … if your little one is old enough to hold a paint brush they can make their own pebble pet meanwhile if the grandparents are doing the child care this summer they will love this too.
There’s plenty of inspiration over at Living Well Mom but you can just let your imagination run free.
If you want durable rocks then use acrylic paint however if you are keeping the finished stones in your house and all you have is basic paints then give those a whirl instead.
Googly eyes are a lot of fun and high street stores, like The Works or the pound shops, will have a supply for you to buy however if you are crafting on a budget use a Sharpie marker which will still look effective.
DIY Wind Chimes from Crafts By Courtney
If it is a lovely day the kids can sit outside to make this pretty wind chime otherwise they can make it indoors and decide where they might put it so that they are ready to pop out and hang it up when the weather improves.
You might not want to buy beads but you can use bits and bobs you have around or in your craft stash. I think this would be sweet made from empty cotton reels which will give a satisfying noise when they bang together. You could paint the cotton reels with acrylics to brighten them up.
Read more about the pretty beaded wind chimes at Crafts By Courtney.
For further inspiration, and chimes suitable for younger children, visit Sugar Spice And Glitter.
Mason Jar Fairy Lantern from Pixie Hill
I have included this fairy lantern because the finished jar will be the perfect addition to a summer barbecue or those times when the kids are in the garden making the most of sunny evenings.
You have choices here. If you are a crafter you might be able to make your own fairy die cuts. You could print out a fairy silhouette that you find on the internet or you could buy pre cut fairies from eBay.
Take note of the tutorial and resist the temptation to cover the whole jar in glitter as this will dull the glow.
Mason jars are very popular in some countries and there are lots of craft tutorials with ideas using them but I’ve got my eye on a pickled onion jar in the fridge which will be just the job after a good wash out.
Remember to use a battery operated tea light in your lantern … we don’t want any scorched fairies do we.
If you head over to Pixie Hill you can see the instructions to make this enchanting lantern which include a You Tube tutorial.
Why not check out our Floral And Patchwork themed section for summery style bedding inspiration.
With the start of Wimbledon fortnight we are all enjoying our strawberries.
There is nothing wrong with a deliciously simple bowl of strawberries and cream but I thought I would have a look and see what else you could do with a strawberry – other than Eton Mess of course.
How do you feel about savoury strawberry recipes? Well two chicken dishes are included in the collection below so you can challenge the boundaries and see what you think.
Strawberry Overnight Oats … And Lots Of Other Flavours Too … from Chocolate Covered Katie
Overnight oats are a big hit in our house. Even the most organised school morning is busy so who doesn’t love the idea of lifting a tasty breakfast out of the fridge and tucking straight in.
This is one of those things that can be as quick to prepare as you want it to be but you can pimp your oats to be as elaborate as you want too. They can be super healthy and calorie controlled or less structured.
This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is the perfect way to get started but once you’ve had a few goes at it you can really suit yourself depending on your requirements and what you have to hand.
We started off with a recipe that exclusively used yoghurt but with two thirds of the household needing dairy free it was quite an expensive way to go. We’ve moved on to using dairy free milk to soak the oats in overnight, almond milk is my favourite, but if there’s yoghurt in the fridge we put a spoonful on top before we eat.
I’m lucky that hubby provides me with a bountiful supply of fruit from his allotment in the warmer months and we find that the fruit is sweet enough with out having to add sugar to the soaking mixture.
Oats keep you feeling fuller for longer which can help to stop you snacking mid morning but even ignoring that huge plus point overnight oats are yummy … give them a go.
You can find the overnight oats recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie.
DAIRY FREE Strawberry Lolly from Preppy Kitchen
Some times the number of strawberries we grow can be a challenge to use and I’m so excited about trying this recipe I’ve already ordered some lolly moulds.
This creamy and delicious looking recipe has the unexpected bonus of being dairy free.
If you don’t want to add honey then don’t as strawberries in the height of summer will be sweet and tasty enough with out it.
You can find the lolly recipe at Preppy Kitchen.
Balsamic Strawberry And Chicken Pizza from Closet Cooking
Here’s the first of the savoury recipes.
Chicken and strawberries are not the obvious choice! But I do have to admit this looks absolutely gorgeous and I am going to give this recipe a go.
My little one will definitely love it.
If you fancy trying this recipe out to see what you think you can find it at Closet Cooking.
Non Alcoholic Strawberry Daiquiri from The Leaf – Nutrisystem
Simply put this is perfect for your friends that do not want alcohol or for children so they have a special drink at a barbecue or party too.
Save it for special occasions or whip it up on a warm day to sneak an extra portion of fruit in to the kids.
You can find the recipe for this non alcoholic summer cocktail at The Leaf – Nutrisystem.
GLUTEN FREE Gluten Free Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones from Grain Changer
Gluten free flour doesn’t behave the same way that wheat flour does and so recipes made with it can end up dry if those differences haven’t been taken in to account.
By contrast baking which includes fresh fruit can be soggy if a similar amount of thought hasn’t been put in to writing that recipe.
A gluten free recipe using fresh fruit sounds like a great way to solve both problems … it should be yummy too … who doesn’t like a scone?
If you can’t get your hands on buttermilk you can make your own using one cup of cow’s milk with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar added to it. You can use lemon juice instead of the vinegar. This also works if you substitute the cow’s milk for dairy free milks like soya milk or almond milk. I use the apple cider vinegar version when I make soda bread. Don’t worry when the milk looks curdled as that is the point. I find when I’m using dairy free milk in a recipe that wasn’t written to include it that I don’t need as much of the substitute milk as I would cow’s milk so add your milk gradually until you are happy with the consistency.
You can find the scone recipe at Grain Changer.
Strawberry And Coconut Pastries from Delicious Magazine
This crowd pleasing recipe uses fresh strawberries but if you want to use jam then feel free to use it.
You can find the recipe for these pastries at Delicious Magazine .
Almond Chicken With Strawberry Balsamic Sauce from Cheese Please By Jess
There must be something about the idea of chicken and strawberries because here is another recipe that uses the same combination and the sauce looks very tasty.
Sweet and savoury in the same dish is definitely a subjective thing but there’s no harm in trying something new. Who knows this might be the next family favourite.
You can find this chicken recipe at Cheese Please By Jess.
Strawberry And Almond Traybake from Net Mums
This is one of those recipes that you can whiz up with an electric mixer in minutes for a family treat or if you’ve got company coming round.
Just remember that cakes with fresh fruit in only keep for a couple of days not that this one will be hanging around for that long!
You can find the traybake recipe at Net Mums.
PALEO AND PLANT BASED No Bake Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes from The Natural Nurturer
Don’t rule this recipe out because it contains almond meal as the same ingredient is available over here in the UK it is just called ground almonds instead.
I’m actually really excited to try these little treasures and they look very easy to make.
If you don’t have food intolerances you might prefer to make your base the way a regular cheesecake is done with crushed biscuits and melted butter however the base included in this particular recipe does sound like it will be tasty.
You can find the cheesecake recipe at The Natural Nurturer .
Simple Strawberry Cobbler from Genius Kitchen
A hot stodgy dessert is not the obvious choice for summer but I have to admit to a love of fruit crumble so this recipe stood out.
There is a potential for the strawberries to be mushy and wet but you could add a little slaked cornflour (which is simply cornflour mixed to a runny paste with touch of cold water) to help avoid too much liquid.
If you like the cobbler topping there’s nothing to stop you using a different fruit such as the traditional apple and blackberry or something with a summer twist like nectarines.
You can find the cobbler recipe at Genius Kitchen .
We don’t tend to buy newspapers but we do still have a few free papers dropping on to our mat. Having said that there are a couple of magazines we like to read and although I usually keep my sewing related ones there are still some which go in to the recycling.
It is very easy to recycle our newspapers and magazines now as most of us have a wheelie bin to use however if you are a seasoned crafter, or your kids love to get creative, then you can actually save yourself having to dish out more cash for crafting supplies by reusing the paper that you have.
To be fair you might get a little inky if you handle newspaper but it washes of and you can get some fab results.
Most of the ideas below can be made using either newspaper or magazine pages depending on the look you are going for. Remember that you can find some extremely colourful pages in those magazines that you have sitting in the corner.
Mini Gift Bags from Craft And Creativity
We’ve all been caught out when we reach for the wrapping paper and realise that we used it up last time. Here is a cool idea to help you whip up a quick mini gift bag.
Don’t feel put off by the examples above. If you don’t have any rubber stamps you don’t have to dash out and buy a set instead you can use stickers or pretty ribbon or even leave them undecorated and simple.
Paper Mache Bowls from Red Ted Art
Maggy writes one of my favourite craft blogs and if you are a regular follower of our blog you will often see me featuring Red Ted Art as the site is a huge resource of crafting fabulousness.
My little one will be all over this idea for paper mache … we love nothing more than getting messy and creative. As Maggy says in her video it will be brilliant for the summer holidays.
For more information, including a You Tube tutorial, visit Red Ted Art .
Gift Bags from How About Orange
Here’s a second gift bag idea. You can decorate this in the same ways suggested for the previous one or leave it plain which looks pretty cool.
If you use magazine pages then ribbon handles will look good but with newspaper why not use string?
For more information visit How About Orange.
There’s also a fab You Tube tutorial on Sea Lemon’s channel. Remember you can slow down a You Tube video by hovering over it and clicking the cog icon then change the playback speed … this will affect the audio too so you might want to mute the sound.
Newspaper Seed Pots from This Pug Life
This is already a favourite in our house as hubby has an allotment. I’ve featured a more elaborate pot tutorial before here but this one is super simple for those of us who are a little pressed for time.
For more information visit This Pug Life.
Paper Beads from Red Ted Art
Not that I’m playing favourites but here is another excellent idea from Red Ted Art. We absolutely love this one in our house and I can recommend it. This is a great idea for a rainy day and the finished pieces make fab gifts for the kids to wrap up in their recycled paper bag.
Older kids will have a lot of fun choosing the colours they want from magazine pages but younger ones can just get stuck in and be random. Both ways are equally as effective.
For more information visit Red Ted Art.
Gift Bow from Almost Never Clever
When you click through to this tutorial you will see that it doesn’t use recycled magazines or newspaper but what it does do is explain perfectly how to make the bow.
A lot of thought has gone in to the tutorial so it is easy to follow meanwhile you can use which ever paper you choose so those glossy magazine pages will be just the job and a newspaper bow sitting on brown kraft wrapping paper will look great.
For more information visit Almost Never Clever.
Rose Wreath from By Stephanie Lynn
The original tutorial uses recycled books but you can easily use newspaper or magazine pages for this.
I love the simple elegance of it how it is but I’ve also seen this type of paper rose lightly touched on the edges of the petals by an ink pad for a subtle hint of colour.
For more information visit By Stephanie Lynn.
Bunting from All Things That Make Me Happy
Here’s another one of those ideas that you can make quickly or take lots of time with decoration.
I’ve seen framed pictures done in the same style as the featured bunting, which is just stunning, but we can’t all manage to draw and colour to that standard so you can use rubber stamps and colour them in or use stickers to embellish. Undecorated bunting will have impact too so the choice is yours here.
For more information visit All Things That Make Me Happy.
You can get a triangle shaped template from Sweetly Scrapped which is just one of the effective shapes you could use.
Paper Bow from Helen Made
To finish off I’m going to sneak in a second bow.
The kids in my little one’s class are quite in to origami at the moment. You will probably need to help younger ones with this particular tutorial as it’s more of a challenge but it would look good on a gift or the front of a homemade card.
For more information visit Helen Made.
I have literally only scratched the surface here so if this kind of thing appeals to you then you can find a wealth of ideas with a quick internet search.
As we become more aware of the damage plastics are doing to our wildlife and the environment as a whole we need to be much more careful with the plastic that already exists.
I have to be honest I started researching this post after spotting a photo on Pinterest of the igloo and thinking how cool it would be to make one but I had no idea just how many clever things you can do with your empty plastic milk cartons.
Plastic Milk Jug Igloo from Earth Wise Harmony
I really want to have a go at this but I have a milk intolerance and we only buy a pint at a time for the rest of the family so it might be a while before we would have enough cartons to make an igloo big enough to get inside.
This is perfect for groups of children to get together and try … like a Scout or Guide group or an after school club.
Hanging Storage from Sew Many Ways
I love this hanging storage idea and the labelling system is a great addition.
Our house is stuffed with craft goodies and this would be perfect for those but it would be really useful in hubby’s allotment shed too, in a home office or in a child’s bedroom.
Visit Sew Many Waysfor more information on how to make this storage system.
Lunch Box from Creme De La Craft (additional ideas included)
This is a genius idea for anyone who is passionate about recycling and doesn’t mind putting a bit of effort in … a great alternative to plastic food bags as you can wash them and use them again.
If you don’t take sandwiches to work this is still worth a look. Pop it in your handbag with some essential fix it sewing supplies or stick it in your ruck sack when you go out with first aid bits and bobs in it.
Visit Creme De La Craft for step by step instructions.
Bird Feeder from She Knows
You get two for one here – you can recycle plastic while you look out for your garden birds.
Why not encourage the kids to keep a record of the different birds they see on the feeder? Take a look at our blog about National Gardening Week here where you will find information about making a garden journal.
Check out She Knows for more information on how to make the bird feeder.
Toy Scoop from Crafty Journal
If your house is like ours then you will find this useful. It might even make tidying up fun for the kids and cut down on the grumbling if you are lucky.
If you have more than one child you could put their initial on their scoop and challenge them to see who can tidy the most up … even if it only works for a short time before they get wise you are still on to a winner.
For more information visit Crafty Journal.
Plant Labels from Mr Brown Thumb
If you are a gardener this is a great way to save some pennies and help to save the planet at the same time.
Use a Sharpie marker to write on your labels to make sure your information is clear, easy to read and doesn’t accidentally rub off.
More details can be found over on the Mr Brown Thumb website.
Garden Trowel and Seed Tray from A Farm Of Your Home
If you like the plant labels then this is another good one for you.
Although the original article doesn’t have step by step instructions the photos should give you the information you need to recreate this fabulous idea.
Visit A Farm Of Your Home.
Watering Can from Karimas Crafts
This watering can is probably the most simple idea of the lot but no less deserving of its place on the list … not least because there’s really no reason we can’t all make one of these.
You don’t have to use a large milk jug carton because the one pint variety will work just as well.
Take a look at the Karimas Crafts website.
Butterfly Window Decorations from Alpha Mom
You will need to scroll down the page on Alpha Mom to find the information about the butterflies but it’s worth having a look at the window art feature before you scroll passed it.
You don’t have to do butterflies try dragonflies, beetles or random sun catcher patterns too.
This is a great way of gathering craft supplies for the kids to use without having to buy additional things.
Visit Alpha Mom and scroll down the page to find more information.
Milk Carton Monsters from Danielles Place
And to end – a bit of fun for the kids.
Although this is billed as a Halloween craft you could easily adapt it to be a bunny for Easter with eggs in it or a dinosaur to gobble up Lego bricks.
You don’t have to put sweets in there … why not use it for small toys or make a mini version using the one pint jug which would be great for hair bobbles.
Visit Danielles Place and scroll all the way down the page to find more information but check out the other ideas too on your way by.
If you try one of the ideas we have featured why not post a pic on our Facebook page
or tag us in on Instagram.
Disclaimer to start … I am not an expert but what I am is a regular every day person who is concerned about the amount of chemicals and plastics we use and who wants to try and improve things so we don’t leave an almighty mess for our kids to deal with.
Having done some research it seems that with a bottle of vinegar, a packet of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and a bag of lemons you are on your way to saving the world … perhaps not single handedly or without taking steps in other areas of your life but hey lets inspire ourselves to make an effort to make a difference.
*Always clearly label anything that you make to avoid any confusion and store it out of the reach of children*
Remember that if you keep your homemade cleaning products in containers that don’t contain any plastic or that are at least recyclable then you are being even more proactive.
Multi Purpose Cleaner from Going Zero Waste
Plus Granite And Marble Cleaner from The Spruce
This was actually a tough one. Some people swear by recipes which include both vinegar and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) while others say that when you use both together they cancel each other out.
Before we go any further it’s important to note that you can not clean granite or marble surfaces with anything that contains vinegar as it will etch in to the surface so keep this in mind.
Visit Going Zero Waste for the instructions on how to make an all purpose cleaner containing vinegar.
Visit The Spruce for the instructions on how to make a cleaner for granite and marble that is vinegar free.
Glass Cleaner from Wellness Mama
We have a dog who loves to look out of the window beside the front door and wait for her loved ones to come home which results in smudged dried on dog nose marks that aren’t fun to get rid of.
Big brand glass cleaners are full of chemicals that I doubt are good for my pouch to be getting either in her mouth or on her nose so this looks like a great idea to me.
If you are sensitive to essential oils, or in my case if you don’t want your dog to be licking a window and ingesting the essential oils, simply miss them out of the recipe.
A microfibre cloth will work well with this glass cleaner but they do have an environmental impact as they are made from plastics and do not biodegrade so you could use a piece of cotton cloth instead.
Visit Wellness Mama for instructions on how to make this glass cleaner.
Carpet Deodorizer from DIY Natural
We are quite lucky that our dog doesn’t give our house that tell tale doggy smell however when we moved here we did inherit some pretty dingy carpets and while we’ve been spending money on the unseen bits and bobs that needed tackling we haven’t had spare cash to replace them.
I am definitely going to give this a go as it is so simple to try and the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) neutralises any odour rather than just masking the smell.
As I said earlier some people are sensitive to essential oils and you can choose not to add them to your deodorizer as they are just to leave a pleasant smell after the baking soda does the hard work.
Visit DIY Natural for the instructions on how to make this carpet deodorizer.
Toilet Bombs from Mom4Real
I have been known to utter some fairly unlady like grumblings while I’ve been cleaning the toilet. I wonder some times if the Gruffalo has broken in to use the loo! The idea of a toilet bomb is intriguing.
I’ve made bath bombs using citric acid and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) so these are really just a pimped version of those with added washing up liquid.
If you want to go completely chemical free here you could leave out the washing up liquid and just add a tiny amount of water to bind the mixture. You will need less water than you think.
Visit Mom4Real for the instructions on how to make these toilet bombs.
Bathroom Air Freshener from Life Family Joy
Our small downstairs loo doesn’t have a window and can get a bit whiffy from just from simply keeping the door closed. There has been quite a bit of press recently about the harm breathing chemical air fresheners can do to you and so with it being an enclosed space I have steered away from putting one in the room.
This recipe, from Life Family Joy, is a great idea, although I will have to take care to avoid lavender essential oil as I have a visitor who is sensitive to that particular essential oil.
Visit Life Family Joy for the instructions on how to make this air freshener.
Sink Drain Cleaner from Green Living Ideas
When we moved in to our house to discover the shower drain was already blocked I was told by the plumber, as he was using an industrial strength magic potion to shift the blockage, that you should treat your drains once a month rather than waiting until they give up and fight back.
I can also tell you that chemical drain cleaner is not the best thing to breath or to flush out in to your environment and so any alternative must be worth a try.
I can’t promise it will shift a heavy blockage so keep on top of things rather than waiting for the worst to happen. The same plumber did tell me that even if you feel you are being kind to your drains soap and hair can solidify in the drain and then that attracts more soap and hair which will evensually cause a blockage.
I will be trying this for our shower and sink drains once a month to see how we get on.
Visit Green Living Ideas for the instructions on how to make this drain cleaner.
It’s actually mind blowing how much we do rely on chemicals and plastic products so don’t just sigh and grumble about somebody else preaching environmental issues at you because every small step we take will help to make a difference.