Leaf Painting – Quick and Easy Nature Craft

Leaf painting is an absolute favourite, with my kids, and something that we do all the time.

We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint. After all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it.

Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…).

Leaves painted bright colours, with a stick used as a paintbrush
We love leaf painting! Use natural materials like leaves, sticks and stones as the canvas for your kids’ artwork!
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How to Magic Up a Perfectly-Imperfect Mud Kitchen Today!

There are images of some amazing mud kitchens out there on the web. But it can be so easy to fall down this rabbit hole of great ideas. If you’re not careful, you end up never actually making one for your child!

I was certainly guilty of this. Until one day my sister stopped by. While I described the great mud kitchen I was going to make (one day), she started hunting around the garden. And with that, I abandoned my dreams of perfection, because the kids were ready to play, right now.

And you know what? We did something incredible. By pulling together a few things already lying around, together we made a mud kitchen in about thirty seconds!

My kids have been playing with it ever since (we’re talking for years now!). And though I still dream and plan of a more beautiful and robust solution, they’re out there having fun today. They really couldn’t care less that it’s not perfect.

So read on to see what you need to make a mud kitchen right now. And I guarantee that you’ll have enough stuff already to get your kids playing today.

child pouring muddy water into saucepan in mud kitchen
Mud kitchens are great for kids so get them playing dirty today!
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Feeding the Family… Mauritian Chicken Daube Recipe

A Mauritian chicken daube is a stew in a light, tomato-based sauce flavoured (chiefly) with thyme, cloves, and cinnamon. There are probably as many variations on the daube recipe as there are Mauritian families – like with a British stew, every household tends to have their own version!

As my family are mostly French-Mauritian, our version of the classic Mauritian chicken daube does not include chilli and curry spices you find elsewhere (there would be much theatrical eye-rolling, head-smacking exclamations of horror at the very suggestion), but is instead a delicate and surprisingly fresh dish that is both hearty enough for a winter’s day and light enough for the summer.

Bowl of Mauritian chicken daube
Tuck into this fragrant and delicate Mauritian stew with our family recipe for Chicken Daube!
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Playing with Stories – Why We Love Our DIY Playdough ‘Bog Baby’ Kit!

Find out how to make a home-made play dough bog baby kit with our play dough recipe and basic craft accessories. Not only are they great fun, they also make fantastic and original gifts when given with a copy of the book!

If you’ve read ‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, you’ll know that bog babies are round and blue, with goggly eyes, spiky tails and ears like a mouse, and their wings are no bigger than daisy petals.

This magical book is perfect for inspiring creative model making and small world play, while at the same time gently encouraging children to explore what it means for a thing to be wild and free.

Book 'The Bog Baby', home-made play dough bog baby kit, and fishing net
A magical story about two children who find a mysterious wild creature, ‘The Bog Baby’ is perfect inspiration for creative play!
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Fireplace Studio – How to Make a Creative Space in a Chock-a-block Family Home

I have always wanted my own art studio, but after having kids, my dream changed. All I wanted now was a teeny tiny art studio. Somewhere I could do my own stuff without having to clear up the play dough first…

Our kids’ stuff gets EVERYWHERE. Arts and crafts, cookery bits, board games, play shopping, children’s books, bikes, scooters, etcetera, etcetera. The kids’ things have spread from their bedrooms to all the shared spaces in our home too.

As a result, we grown-ups finding it more and more frustrating when WE wanted to do something; nothing was ever to hand or easy to get started on.

But there is good news! We took a hard look at our small-to-middling Victorian terrace house. And, even bursting at the seams with stuff as it is, we were able to find spaces to annex as dedicated ‘grown-up’ areas. We even found one for each of us.

All it took was thinking about what we both needed. Then identifying a few wasted areas around the house that we could make better use of. Mostly, all it took was a little bit of reorganisation. And I promise you, if messy pack-rats like us can do it, you can too!

fireplace being used for art supplies storage space
Every home has a few nooks and crannies of wasted space. Make use of an unused fireplace to create useful storage!
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Book Love: The Bog Baby, by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward

book 'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward
Book Love – ‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward.

‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward is one of our favourite picture books. It is a rare beast that captivates both my seven-year boy and my three-year old girl time and time again.

I couldn’t count how many times we’ve read this, yet it still brings a tear to my eye too. But in a good way!!

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Linocut Project – Harry Potter’s Firebolt

I’ve made a simple Harry Potter linocut of a Firebolt broomstick for a project I’m working on for G-Man’s birthday. It’s intended to be the first of a few Harry Potter linocut prints. But though I have something very specific in mind for it, I  couldn’t resist playing around with a few other ideas too.

lino print of Harry Potter's firebolt broom
Making a linocut print of Harry Potter’s Firebolt broomstick – kitchen table art!
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Feeding the Family… Orange and Blackcurrant Victoria Sandwich

We are big fans of a classic Victoria sponge cake in our house, but this orange and blackcurrant Victoria sandwich cake variation is also a favourite with it’s hint of zingy citrus flavours, tangy mascarpone cream filling and sharp blackcurrant. It looks so pretty, it makes a great cake for special occasions too, but is really easy – and cheap! – to make.

orange and blackcurrant Victoria sandwich cake recipe
Try this recipe for our delicious take on the traditional Victoria Sandwich sponge cake.
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Play Simple – Bubble Play

toddler bubble play
A bowlful of soapy bubbles makes for a quick and easy sensory activity for young kids!

Though I love letting my kids get stuck in to some messy play, I sometimes find the thought of the inevitable cleanup just too daunting. On days like that, I often resort to our tried and tested fallback -the cleanest messy play imaginable – bubble play!

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A Home-Made Harry Potter Party Bag

DIY Harry Potter party bag
Make your own Hogwarts inspired goodies for Harry Potter party bag or trip to the Studio Tour.

G-Man didn’t want a birthday party this year, instead he wanted to visit the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, in Leavesdon, just outside London. So we took him and one friend along for a magical day out in January 2017.

As it was his birthday treat, and as we knew beforehand that everything there would be exorbitantly expensive, I put together a Harry Potter party bag for the boys to supplement their pocket money purchases in the tour’s shop.

There are tonnes of ideas for Potter gifts on the internet, and not only was it great fun to do (and a big hit with the kids) it also saved us a whole heap of pennies.​

If you’re planning a trip yourself, or are lucky enough to be hosting a full-on Potter Party at home, have a look at our DIY wizard treats for a little Hogwarts-style inspiration!

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