Friday, September 16, 2016

My Top Five Christmas Photos

There is something about photos that always makes me smile- I love flicking through my scrapbooks and remembering all of the things that have happened.

Christmas is a time where I tend to take a lot of photos- I document our daily Christmas activities and December also happens to be my son's birthday, so my camera is often out.

Sharing these moments every year with my family and friends in Christmas cards is also a wonderful way of keeping people up to date with what is happening in my life, and who doesn't love a Christmas card with a family photo?

Christmas 2009 was extremely special to me, as I had just welcomed my first son into the world! He was a week old on Christmas Day and even though he slept right through the celebrations, I still took a lot of photos.

One tradition that happens every year is that my father dresses up like Santa Claus, and I just love the wonder in my son's eyes in this photo. My Dad has also been known to dress up like Batman- he is such a kid at heart!

My son then had a big announcement to make on Christmas Day 2011, when we told the family that our second son would be making an appearance in July 2012.

By Christmas 2012 we were a family of four in our new house. This photo was the header for our family newsletter, which was sent all over the world.

Spending Christmas Day with my boys and husband is important, but I also get my other family members involved. I absolutely love this photo of me and my sister on Christmas Day last year, and once again I wanted to share it with my friends overseas.

 Family photos are a must in my family on Christmas Day, and  putting my favourite photos from the year on our Christmas cards and letters is one thing I love to do each December.

I have family and friends all over the world that receive my cards, and I have recently discovered that I can send photo cards or even online cards with minimal fuss that will still allow me to share my photos and Christmas greetings. I do take a specific family photo each year with the intention of sending it out to people, and so to have it on the front of a card is the perfect solution. My favourite design this year is a toss up between the Christmas Finestra or the Happy Happy Joy Joy for multiple photos for my overseas friends, as Paperless Post ships to the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Do you send out Christmas cards every year- or even a newsletter? I would love to know your traditions on this!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dinosaur Week for preschoolers

Continuing on my weekly themes for my four year old, we recently spent a week looking at dinosaurs.

Adam loves art and craft activities, so we made our own triceratops. We started by painting a small egg carton piece with green sparkle paint.

We used a cupcake liner for the ruffle, googly eyes, and a popsicle stick cut into three pieces for the horns.

As you can see, green and dinosaurs are popular in this household!

We also excavated our own dinosaur from an egg (purchased here) and it took us a good hour to retrieve the dinosaur from within- a great way to keep the boys occupied although I had a go too!

We then washed the excavated dinosaur and talked about which species it could be.

Some dinosaur dot-to-dot printables were a fun activity for both boys to do after school.

I cut out some different shapes from green cardstock and we played dinosaur Tangrams.

My six year old really enjoyed this activity, and spent ages making different animals from the shapes. Yes, he has dinosaur pajamas too!

Our family movie night was The Good Dinosaur, and I had purchased a kid's magazine that luckily had this Dino-Flake activity included.

It also had a dinosaur Peppa Pig workbook, which came in very handy!

We read the Dinosaurumpus book together and played the Listen & Move game during a wet day.

Dinosaur week was a big success with both boys!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WCW- Tropical Lunch Buns

I love creating quick and easy recipes to replace sandwiches in the school lunchboxes. The same old ham and cheese in between two pieces of bread can get boring after a while, and so I have changed it up a bit with these Tropical Lunch Buns.

Cheese, bacon and pineapple is such a classic combination, and always a winner in our household!

The rolls can be made bite size, lunch size or man size depending on who you are feeding.

These rolls are also great for picnics or as a welcome to the neighbourhood gift!

Someone couldn't wait to try one.....

Delicious warm with butter, or cold in a lunchbox, and even better with soup for lunch!

print recipe

Tropical Lunch Buns
  • 250 grams bacon
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • 500ml milk
  • 1/4 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra grated cheese
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.Cook the bacon for 3-5 minutes until crisp and chop into small pieces.In a bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in the bacon, first measure of cheese and pineapple. Add the milk and stir until the dough comes together.Knead on a floured surface for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into 12 balls. Place on lined tray, just touching. Sprinkle rolls with the extra cheese and cook in the oven for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

WCW- Gluten Free Lemon Loaf

I have been trying my hand at gluten free baking, and I have come up with a way to use my bounty of lemons at the same time.

This lemon loaf is perfect for those with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity- but everyone who sampled this loaf did't realise it was made with gluten free flour. That is a win in my book!

Here is what is needed to make the lemon loaf. If you do not have lemon oil, feel free to substitute normal vegetable oil and add in one extra lemon.

The batter is so fluffy and yellow, with beautiful chunks of lemon zest shining through.

Out of the oven, it made my entire house smell delicious!

Most of this loaf was gone before I had the change to take a photo, but here you can see the lemon glaze and the light, moist inside.

Totally good with coffee, for 3pm nibbles or even for breakfast!

print recipe

Gluten Free Lemon Loaf
  • 1 2/3 cups gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup lemon flavoured oil (can sub with vegetable oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 grams lite sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Chelsea lemon icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.Zest the three lemons and place in a mixing bowl with the salt, sugar and oil. Mix lightly then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract. Add the sour cream and milk to the mixture, as well as the juice from the three zested lemons.Fold in the gluten free flour and pour into a loaf pan.Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes.When the loaf is cool, mix together the icing sugar and hot water then spread over the top of the loaf.
Yield: 1 loaf

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Party Bag Bunting

This month's #30dayflip challenge was to make Something out of Nothing.

Now, I have lots of bits and pieces floating around at home just waiting for a project, but they all require some money (or my husband's handyman skills) in order to be finished.

I was sitting here pondering the challenge and then I got a message from my friend saying "I need some bunting tonight to use outdoors- can you help me?"

Well, this got my brain thinking. I didn't want to use cardstock as to me it would have been too flimsy for the outdoors, and my stash of vinyl was reduced to iron-on white, which wasn't appropriate either. My eyes then drifted to some leftover party bags from a craft show I had done a couple of weeks ago. They were a heavier feel than cardstock and coated to be damp-proof, plus they were lovely bright colours. So I set to work to make a bunting banner out of party bags!

I cut the sides out of each party bag, which gave me two seperate pieces to work with. I also cut out the handles of the bags.

I used my Cricut to cut the banner shape and got two pennants for each party bag rectangle. If you don't have a cutting machine, it would be easy enough to cut these using a template and add some holes with a hole punch.

Once I had my pennants, I arranged them into a pattern order of red and green. I am excited to use this again at Christmas by the way, how perfect will it be for my outdoor BBQs and festivities!

I attached each piece with some red and white twine I had in my craft stash. Depending on the occasion, you could use ribbon, wire or string to attach your bunting.

And here is the finished party bag bunting, ready to be hung up!

This got me thinking of all the possibilities- using extra goodie bags for bunting for a themed party would be the top of my list for trying this again! What would you use party bag bunting for?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

WCW- Pokeball Nutella Cheesecake

My husband recently celebrated his birthday, and instead of a birthday cake he requested a cheesecake.

Now, my boys have been getting into the current Pokemon trend, but I think my husband is the biggest fan in this household! I thought it would be easy to transform his cheesecake into a Pokeball for his birthday treat.

I gathered all of the ingredients together to create the cheesecake- looks delicious already!

I melted the butter and then added it to the crushed up Oreo biscuits to form the base of the cheesecake.

This is a baked cheesecake, so all of the other ingredients get mixed together and then bakes at a low temperature to set.

With the help of some food colouring and baking paper, I was able to transform a round cheesecake into a Pokeball.

Once the two sides have been spread with cream, you can add the black fondant for the finishing touch.

If you don't like Nutella, feel free to substitute melted chocolate or peanut butter instead!

print recipe

Pokeball Nutella Cheesecake
  • 255g packet Oreo biscuits
  • 70 grams melted butter
  • 200 grams Nutella
  • 400 grams Cream cheese
  • 80 grams plain yoghurt
  • 60 grams castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed with 60ml of hot water powdered gelatine
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 teaspoon red food colouring gel
  • black fondant
Crush the Oreo biscuits and add to melted butter, stirring until mixed through. Push into the base of a circular spring form pan.In a mixer, beat together the Nuteela, cream cheese, yoghurt, prepared gelatine, sugars, vanilla essence and eggs. Pour onto the biscuit base and bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for one hour.Leave the cheesecake in the fridge for at least four hours to make sure it is cool and set before preparing the topping.Beat the cream in a cold, clean mixer. Divide in half and colour one bowl with the red food gel. Take a piece of baking paper and trace around the cheesecake pan base. Cut out the circle and fold in half. Spread the white cream on one side of the cheesecake, then spread the red cream on the other side, leaving a slight gap in the middle. Reserve a tablespoon of white cream.Cut the black fondant into a long strip and two circles, one slightly bigger than the other. Layer the strip across the middle where the cream meets. Add the larger circle to the middle, then add the leftover white cream to the middle of that circle. Top with the smaller circle.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 cheesecake

Friday, August 12, 2016

Space Themed Week for Preschoolers

I have been getting back into themed weeks for my 4 year old, and Space was one of the themes that came about as my 6 year old has been learning about planets at school.

We had a huge supply of Space themed books already on the bookshelf- including these gorgeous ones from the Elmo's Learning Adventure set we purchased a couple of years ago.

One of the first things we did was to make yellow Playdough to create stars for the counting mats- Adam insisted on using a large cookie cutter to make star shapes so we ended up stacking stars on top of one another.

We also decided to make our own galaxy in a jar. We got together a clean jar, some water, cotton balls, acrylic glitter paint and a paintbrush to create the galaxy.

We mixed some water with the acrylic paint to create a pourable consistency.

We then layered cotton balls in the jar and used one colour of paint at a time, mixed with the water, to soak in and create this galaxy.

Another simple cookie cutter activity also involving glitter paint was to stamp stars on a black background- Adam loved layering the stars and had to create three pages of them!

We talked about why we can only see stars at night and I showed Afam how a telescope works to view things in space. Adam wanted to make his own telescope so we stuck two toiler tolls together with washi tape and then decorated it with star stickers.

This was great for imaginative play, as Adam was walking around looking through his telescope and telling me what he could see.

Our snack was a planet of rice cake, banana and cheerios with peanut butter, surrounded by a cheese star and some smaller rice cracker and cherry tomato planets.

Adam also really loved this Lego game for building his own rocket ships. It was a great math lesson too!

Our Space week was a lot of fun and I cannot wait to share more preschooler themes with you in the coming months.
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