Stay safe this Halloween

Vector Cute Halloween Illustration

Everyone wants to have a safe and happy Halloween.  It’s a great time to get together and share memories with friends and family.  If you’re heading out trick or treating this Halloween, make sure that you stay safe. Here are some safety tips for you while you’re enjoying yourselves out on the streets.

Plan your route before leaving the house, so that everyone in your group are in the know and are on the same page.

Don’t travel too far from your home.

  • Make sure there is a responsible adult with the children at all times. It could even be an older sibling if they’re over the age of 16.
  • Make sure you can be seen by carrying a torch or by wearing reflective or light coloured clothes.
  • Remember road safety. Look before crossing the roads.
  • Don’t ever enter a stranger’s home.
  • Don’t eat any treats that have already been unwrapped.
  • Don’t go near lit candles or any open flame, and be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
  • Make sure to wear well fitted masks and costumes to avoid blocked vision and tripping over.
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Halloween Decorations

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Turn your house into a haunted house this Halloween. The children will be dressed up in their costumes, so it makes sense that your house is ‘dressed up’ as well. You can make really effective Halloween decorations without spending a lot of money, and without too much effort. Here are some tips on making homemade decorations. A lot of the items you’ll need should already be hiding in your cupboards at home.

The first thing I normally do, is to choose a wall as a feature wall, and cover it from floor to celling with black bin bags by using magic tape, so it doesn’t damage the walls. The reason I only choose one wall is to save time. Covering one wall with black bin bags shouldn’t take too long, depending on the size of the wall, of course. But if you have time and are up for the challenge, go ahead and cover all of the walls.  Once you’ve completed this, you now have a base for the other decorations to go on. Here are a list of things I usually put on the wall: Gravestones; Spider’s web; Bats; ghosts; Spooky eyes.

And here’s how I make them:

Gravestones

You’ll need kitchen foil, or a silver or grey piece of paper. Cut the paper or foil into the shape of a gravestone, and then stick it onto the wall. Once it’s on the wall, use a black permanent marker and write the names of your guests on to the gravestones.

Spiders web

This is super easy. By using a Tipp-Ex pen, draw the spider’s web straight on to the black bin bag on the wall. Draw as many as you wish. If you need some inspiration on how to draw a spider’s web there are plenty of images available online if you just google ‘spider’s web’.

Bats

I know bats are normally black in colour, but since I’m sticking them onto a black background, again, I use either kitchen foil/grey paper, or, if you can get it, luminous paper. They’re both effective. Just take a square piece of kitchen foil or paper (your choice), and fold it in half. Draw half of a bat, starting from the fold in the paper, and cut it out. When you unfold the cutout, you’ll have a whole bat. To save time, you can cut about five bats out at the same time, by putting a few folded pieces of paper together.

Ghosts

This also works very well with luminous paper. Just cut out simple ghost cuttings and stick them onto the wall. I make them in all shapes and sized. Here’s an idea of what I make:

Ghosts 1

Spooky eyes

Use Tipp-Ex or a luminous pen, and cover the wall with spooky eyes by drawing the eyes directly onto the bin bag. I just simply copy imagaes from the internet, like the one below.  It’s really easy.

.Spooky eyes

To finish the effect, get some spider web fibre decoration (fake spider web) and stick on to the wall.  You can buy this at a very low cost on line.

These are just some ideas of what you can put on the wall.  The possibilities are endless, just use your imagination.  You can get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

If you’re serving party food, dress the table!  You can buy a halloween table cloth at your local pound shop.  Or,  you can blend the table in with the wall by using the same method.  Just cover the table with black bin bags, and tape it to the edges of the table.  Then use your Tipp-Ex pen or luminous pen to draw spiders, spider’s web, spooky eyes on the black bin bag.  After you’ve placed the party food on the table, finish the effect, again with the fake spider web.  Place it in between the plates and bowls and hang it down over the sides of the table.

Use Halloween themed paper napkins, or orange, black, green coloured paper napkins, or any other colour that you associate with Halloween.  If you can get Halloween themed plates to serve the food on as well…great!

I always turn the lights off as well, and I hang fairy lights (orange, if you have them) around the windows or door frame.  And of course, a few Jack o’lanterns, usually in the middle of the party food on the table, and scattered around the room.

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The fruit and veg battle

FullSizeRender-1There’s no doubt about it. Fruit and vegetables are healthy for us all, especially for growing children. They have an abundance of goodness, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and a host other good stuff to help keep our bodies healthy and well maintained. We all know this, even the children. But why is it such a chore to get children to eat their fruits, and more often, their veggies? Why do they look at a vegetable with such horror when it appears on their plate, and even cry at the sight of them?

The government recommends that everyone should have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. A survey carried out by Newsround earlier this year showed that 52 in 100 children don’t have any vegetables and 44 out of 100 don’t have any fruit on a daily basis. Get them into the habit now, and it will reduce the risk of many chronic diseases when they’re older.

Here are 10 tips on how you can help your children to eat the good stuff on a daily basis, and to introduce new ones into their diets:

1. Set a good example. If parents don’t eat fruit and vegetables themselves, and snack on unhealthy food, children will just follow suit. Help them to make healthy choices when it comes to food and snacks, and make sure that they see you eating healthy food.

2. Most children like some kind of fruit and vegetables. Grapes, strawberries and carrot sticks are quite popular. When you’ve identified what your child’s favourites are, make sure you have plenty readily available to snack on.

3. If you have a juicer, juicing vegetables and mixing them in with fruit juices is a great way of getting more vegetables into your children’s diet. Juice a few carrots and mix it in with some orange juice and some lemon or lime juice. Or juice some greens, like broccoli or spinach and mix it in with some apple juice with some lemon or lime.

4. Make ice lollies out of the juices above. Just pour the juice into lolly moulds and put in the freezer. Great for an after dinner treat, or on a hot summers day.

5. Make homemade ice cream out of frozen bananas. Just freeze some peeled, chopped bananas in a freezer bag. When the bananas are frozen, blend them in a high speed blender or in a food processor with a bit of vanilla, or fruit of choice, and serve.

6. A good way of introducing new fruits into your children’s diet, is to cover them with chocolate. Just chop the fruit up into bitesized pieces, and melt some good quality chocolate. Dip the fruit in the chocolate and eat straight away, or keep in the fridge.

7. Healthy snack bars are really popular with both children and adults. Make your own by blending your choice of dried fruit and nuts in a food processor, and shape the mixture into bars or roll into balls, and keep in the fridge.

8. I find that root vegetables are a bit more palatable when they are roasted with honey, maple syrup or some brown sugar. Just peel your carrots, parsnips or other root vegetable and place them in a roasting tin with some olive oil and your sweetener of choice, and roast until they are golden on the outside and cooked in the middle.

9. Hide vegetables in a Bolognese sauce. When I have vegetables to use up in the fridge, whether it’s broccoli, peppers or squash, I always roast them in the oven, and blend them with some chopped tomatoes or passata sauce. Use the sauce the next time you make Bolognese, or freeze it until you need it.

10. Get your children involved when preparing food. Children are more likely to eat the food if they’ve prepared it themselves, and they’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

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Homework tips

Iestyn, one of sitterstars’ founders, gives some tips on how to get children to do their homework!

Love it or hate it, homework is necessary for children’s development. It helps them to understand further what they learned in class, and by using different resources, like reference books, or searching the web, it makes them more independent and organised. Getting the children to sit down and do their homework can be a challenge in itself, and I’m sure, most of the time, parents/guardians and nannies hate homework more than the children!

The amount of homework children receive varies from their age, to the school they attend. Some schools really pile on the work even at a young age. The eldest boy I look after is 9 years old and he has a piece of homework to every day of the week, even at weekends. Of course, you could get it over and done with over the weekend if you choose to, but that would mean taking a big chunk of the weekend to cover all of the different subjects. The way we do it is we have a different subject to cover every day, which means it’s consistent and a lot less stressful for both children and parents/nannies.

Here are few tips that you might find helpful:

  • Work out a timetable for the homework. Work out how many subjects there are and how many sessions you’ll need to complete everything, and then dedicate a subject for each day. For example, Monday – English homework; Tuesday – Verbal Reasoning; Wednesday – Maths homework etc. When you’ve completed the time table, put it somewhere that is visible for everyone to see. Our timetable is on the kitchen wall, and so the first thing we do when we come home from school is check the timetable.
  • Decide when would be a good time to complete the homework. We like to have it done by dinnertime, which is 6pm in our case. But we don’t start the homework straight away when we get in. The children are normally hungry so we’ll take about 10 minutes to have a drink and a snack and talk about our day first, then after they’ve finished their snack, we’ll crack on with the homework.
  • Before starting, make sure that there are no distractions. Turn off the TV, make sure that the laptop or iPad is out of sight (unless of course they need it for research purposes), and that their mobile phone (if they have one) is not sitting on the table next to them. Only let them use their phone if they need to contact a friend to check or ask a question regarding their homework. They need to focus on their work, so the fewer distractions, the better! Some children can concentrate better when they have music on in the background, but that all depends on the child. We don’t have music on during homework.
  • Decide where children should do their homework. Again, this all depends on how well your child can focus. Some can just lock themselves in their room and get on with it. Others might need a bit more encouraging. I like the kitchen as homework space, because it’s normally during the time when you’re preparing supper, and you can keep an eye on the children while they do their work to make sure that they don’t lose focus.
  • Make sure that the children have everything that they need around them. So the right books, pencils, the right colour pens etc. By organising themselves first, it means they won’t waste any time later on by going in and out of their bag looking for a ruler, or a red pen or anything else that they might need.

It’s important when children do their homework, that they actually do it themselves. Sometimes they will need a little nudge by you to keep them motivated, and sometimes they’ll get a bit stuck and they might need your help. When you do help them, make sure that you don’t end up doing it for them. Instead, talk them through the work and ask questions regarding their work. Maybe ask them about what part of the work they don’t understand. When you notice that they’re just staring at the wall and not doing their work, instead of telling them “get back to work”, just ask something like “how are you getting on?” Sometimes they just need that as a little reminder and they’ll get back to work. Or if they’re faced with a problem regarding their work, they’ll ask for your help.

If they have a heavy workload, maybe a project that they need to work on during the weekend, which means a lot more time and effort, make sure that they take regular breaks. About 10 to 15 minutes every hour.

When they’ve finished their work, praise them for their effort. Make them feel that it was all worth it!

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My Christmas classics

As Christmas comes around each year, then so does the release of all of the new Christmas films. I have to admit, I love switching off for a couple of hours in front of a good crimbo film in the cinema. And each year there’s always a good selection to choose from, and more often than not, I leave the cinema feeling even more Christmassy, and want to go straight on the phone to wish my friends and family a very Merry Christmas! Complete cheese balls I know, but what can I say, I love Christmas!

 

But it’s not just the films in the cinema that I enjoy. What about the classics? The films that I watch every single year. Whether they’re quite recent films, old films or oooold films! I’m a creature of habit, and for me, Christmas just isn’t Christmas unless I get to watch my old favs.

 

These are my must watch Christmas films. I hope I inspire you to watch them as well, and to introduce them to your children.

 

Santa Clause the Movieimage

 

Who can forget this much loved classic! This is probably my favorite of all. I can say with no word of a lie that I have watched it every single Christmas since it was released in 1985. Over the past few years it’s been my train movie for when I travel back to Wales for Christmas from London. For those of you who haven’t seen this film, it’s about how a middle aged woodcutter became to be the famous Santa Clause. The film starts in the North Pole in the 14th century, and we see how all of the elves make the toys, and how they made the reindeer fly by feeding them a special mix of hey covered in glitter! Fast forward to the 20th century, and Santa Clause befriends a homeless boy and a privileged girl in New York City, and together they try to stop the girl’s step Uncle, who’s trying to ruin Christmas! With magical lollypops, flying children, vanishing up and down chimneys and the ‘super duper looper’, this film is truly magical, and with the song “It’s Christmas (all over the world)” finishing the film, it also has the feel good factor!

 

Scroogedimage

 

This modern twist on Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”, also brings back fond memories of growing up. It’s a story about a hot shot executive, Frank (played by the talented and very funny Bill Murray) who fires a staff member just before Christmas, and is then visited by three ghosts, past, present and future (you know the story, right?), who gives him the chance to re-evaluate his life and to right the wrongs of his past. At the end of the film, Frank has put everything right and also gets the girl, the love of his life, Claire (played by Karen Allen). The film finishes on a happy note with lots of laughter, some backflipping and the whole cast singing “Put a Little Love in your Heart”!

 

Home Aloneimage

 

How can write about the classics without mentioning one of the best Christmas comedies “Home Alone”. Here we have a young, fresh faced Macaulay Culkin who plays Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally abandoned at home by his family for the Christmas period while they go on holiday. When Kevin realizes the situation he is in, he is absolutely delighted with the freedom of being home alone. That is until, he realizes that two robbers plan to rob the McCallister residence just before Christmas. Then the fun really begins, when Kevin sets traps all over the house and successfully captures the bad guys. The film finishes with a happy ending when the whole family end up at home on Christmas morning.

 

Home Alone 2: Lost in New Yorkimage

 

If I’m going to mention “Home Alone”, I can’t really leave out the second film of the franchise (It will be the last of the Home Alone movies that I mention). This time, Kevin McCallister, once again played by Macaulay Culkin, finds himself stranded in New York City, while his family is in Florida after a mix up at the airport. Luckily he has his dad’s bag along with his wallet, so he can book himself into the Plaza Hotel, and travel around New York by limo. Once again, he comes face to face with the ‘sticky bandits’, the robbers who tried to rob his house in the first film, who plan to break into a large toy store and steal all the charity money. But this time he needs to borrow his uncle’s derelict house in New York City to set the traps. With more bumps, burns and explosions, this film is as entertaining as the first one, and made me really want to visit New York City as a child, and stand in front of the mahoosive Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre! This film also finishes with all the family together in an amazing suite at the Plaza Hotel on Christmas morning.

 

Elfimage

 

I only watched this film for the first time back in 2009, but I wish I would’ve watched it sooner. I really loved it! I have now watched it every year since. In this film, we see Buddy, played by Will Ferrell, crawl into Santa’s toy bag as a baby and is whisked off to the North Pole, where he is raised as an Elf. When he realizes that he doesn’t really belong in the North Pole (the fact that he’s about 3 feet taller than all of the other elves is a bit of a giveaway) he then returns to his birthplace of New York City in search of his parents. He finds his dad and his 10 year old brother, who are both lacking Christmas spirit. Buddy then uses his elf ways to spread the Christmas joy and to restore the Christmas spirit in New York City, and also find’s love along the way in the form of Jovie, played by Zooey Deschanel. I have to say that I wasn’t a massive fan of Will Ferrell before I watched this film, but now I am completely a fan!

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Let’s go to the movies!!

Now that the holiday season is among us, we can expect some new films hitting the big screen. We all love a trip to the cinema over the Christmas period, whether we’re after some laughs, adventure or some romance, sitting down for a couple of hours is just what we need sometimes to escape from the festive madness!

 

If you want a family outing at the cinema, here are the latest children’s films that will be showing over Christmas.

 

(Source: The View Cinema)

 

A Christmas Star

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Noelle O’Hanlon and her friends live in a quiet and peaceful village in Ireland. However, their tranquil country life is threatened when Pat McKerrod sets his eyes on their home for his new planned development.

What Pat doesn’t know is that Noelle is no ordinary little girl. Born under a Christmas Star, she has a unique and special gift that means she can perform big miracles.

Teaming up with her friends and a friendly woman from the village called Angela, Noelle decides to stand up for herself and risk everything to save her home.

This charming festive film has an all-star cast, including Rob James-Collier, Suranne Jones, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, and Kylie Minogue.

Introducing Erin Galway-Kendrick as Noelle, A Christmas Star is a family-friendly adventure that is perfect for the holiday season.

 

The Good Dinosaur

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Can you imagine what the world would be like now if that asteroid had missed our planet 65 million years ago and the dinosaurs had survived?

 

The Good Dinosaur explores that idea to great effect and follows the story of Arlo: a friendly and spirited dinosaur who becomes separated from his family and unwittingly befriends a human cave-boy named Spot.

Arlo is an Apatosaurus, a species that has been around on earth for millions of years. So, naturally, he’s far more articulate and well-spoken than young Spot, who is a little bit more animalistic and feral.

The two bond as they embark on a thrilling journey filled with self-discovery and manage to get themselves in a number of scrapes along the way, resulting in some hilarious consequences. Will Arlo and Spot ever find their families again?

Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios are behind this animated gem which features the vocal talents of Lucas Neff, Judy Greer, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Having ventured inside the mind in this summer’s hit Inside Out, Disney and Pixar will reach deep into your heart when The Good Dinosaur hits cinemas this holiday season.

 

Christmas with the Coopers


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Charlotte and Sam Cooper have a lot of children and grandchildren, all of whom are descending upon their home for the holiday season. Suffice to say, so many family members together under one roof is a recipe for disaster, but Sam and Charlotte are determined that this Christmas will be different.

Eleanor Cooper is sick of turning up to family events on her own, enduring that patronising look her family always give her. In an attempt to get out of this misery, she asks a stranger in the airport to be her pretend boyfriend while she’s visiting and takes him with her to the family home.

Hank Cooper is just about getting by as a single father, while his daughter starts acting up and running circles around him.

Every Cooper has their own struggles and frustrations they’re bringing with them to Charlotte and Sam’s, so it’s hardly surprising that tensions start to mount.

All Sam and Charlotte wanted was to bring everyone together for a joyful holiday season. Can they get everyone back in the Christmas spirit before they all go their separate ways until next year?

This festive comedy has a fantastic ensemble cast, including John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried and Marisa Tomei.

Directed by Jessie Nelson, Christmas with the Coopers is a charming and hilarious festive treat that will really get you in the holiday spirit!

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Totally Conkers!

The conkers have long fallen from the trees, and you now probably have a million conkers in various buckets and plastic bags scattered around the house. It’s one of my favorite memories as a child, collecting conkers from the fields surrounding our house, and always trying to gather more conkers than my sister. Then, after carefully examining my collection to filter out the best ones, I would take them to school to compare and play the classic game with my friends.

 

Once the conker season is over, why not get creative with the remaining conkers you have hanging around.

 

Pencil toppers (Source www.redtedart.com)

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By using a pair of scissors, carve out a hole big enough to fit the end of a pencil into it. For the features, cut out some foam shapes and glue them on, or just draw the features straight onto the conker.

 

Conker streamers (Source www.redtedart.com)

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Add a splash of colour to the sky with this simple fun play idea. Make a hole in the conker with a pair of scissors. Cut out strips of different colour tissue paper, twist at one end and insert in the hole with plenty of glue. Let the glue dry. Now watch them fly through the air!

 

 

 

Conker Snakes (Source www.redtedart.com)

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Sort your conkers by size and put the smallest at the end, and use a big one for the head. For the next part, get an adult to make holes in all the conkers, sideways by using a kebab skewer. Double up a string of wool, and using a wool needle, threat the wool through the conkers. Tie a knot at the tail end, and cut the remaining wool as close to the knot as you can. Tie a knot at the mouth end, and leave about 2cm of wool for the tongue. Glue some googly eyes on the non shiny part of the conker (as it will stick better) to compete the face.

 

Conker Spiders (Source www.redtedart.com)

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Start by cutting coloured pipecleaners of choice into 8 pieces and bend them in half to make the legs. Then make 8 holes in the conker, 4 on each side and glue the pipecleaners in and bend the bottom of the legs to make feet. Finally, glue some googly eyes on to finish.

 

Conker weaving (Source www.redtedart.com)

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Make 6 holes around your conker, evenly spaced out, and glue thin, sturdy twigs in to each hole. After the glue has dried you can start weaving. Start by tying a piece of wool to the first stick, and then wrap it around the next stick, and the next stick, and continue this motion to build up layers of wool. If you want to change colour, simply cut the wool and tie the next colour on and continue. To finish, tie your end piece to the last stick leaving enough wool left to hang.

 

 

 

 

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Brain Food

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In my last post, I concentrated on how to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables in their diet. As we all know, a good diet is important to keep our bodies healthy, and as the saying goes, ‘healthy body, healthy mind’.

 

We’ve all read about it, and seen it on tv, that a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, with limited amount of junk food will help with your child’s concentration levels. But are there certain ‘brain foods’ that you can give to your children to keep them focused and help with their academic development. Their brains are constantly growing and changing, so giving them the right fuel can boost your child’s brain growth, improve brain function, memory and concentration. Here are 5 ‘brain foods’ to add to your child’s diet.

 

Salmon

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Fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but salmon especially contains a lot of it! Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are essential for brain growth and function. Research shows that people who consume more of these fatty acids perform better in mental skills tests and have sharper minds.

 

Try making some salmon fish cakes by mixing together 600g of mashed potatoes, 50g of peas, 2 tins of salmon, some fresh chives, juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of plain flour and 1 large free range egg. Shape into fish cakes and fry using a little bit of olive oil until golden brown.

 

Nuts and seeds

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Nuts and seeds are also a great source of protein and essential fatty acids with added vitamins and minerals that can help boost your mood and keep your nervous system in check.

 

You can easily add these to your child’s diet by using nut butters on toast, or by sprinkling some seeds on their cereal. Or make some tasty snack bars by mixing some nuts and seeds with some dried fruit in a food processor.

 

Greens

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A daily dose of greens is great for every body, especially leafy greens like kale and spinach, as they’re full of folate and vitamins and have been linked to lower the odds of developing dementia later in life. They’re also full of antioxidants to help keep your body healthy, and helps new brain cells to grow.

 

If you’re finding it difficult to get your children to eat these, try blending them in to your Bolognese sauce, or juice them and add to apple juice.

 

Oats

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A great option for breakfast! Full of protein and fiber to help keep your heart and brain healthy. Children who eat oatmeal for breakfast tend to perform better in memory related school tasks, than children who ate a sugary cereal for breakfast.

 

Try adding some dried fruit, a little bit of brown sugar and some cinnamon to your child’s oatmeal to make it tastier.

 

Eggs

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Eggs are another great source of protein, and the yolk contains choline, which helps memory development.

 

Try giving your child a boiled egg for breakfast with whole grain soldiers, or a quick and easy scrambled egg on toast.

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Autumn Crafts

There’s nothing quite like the sound of autumn leaves rustling beneath your feet. When I’m out and about at this time of year, I always make sure that I get to walk over a carpet of orange, brown and yellow on the pavements and in the parks, otherwise my outing is incomplete.

 

Autumn leaves are also great for indoors as well as outdoors. Here are some fun and effective arts and crafts ideas you can do with your kids, using autumn leaves.

 

Leaf Coaster (Source www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com)

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When I came across this idea online, I simply had to share it! It’s great for your home or to give as a gift. But best of all, it’s super easy!

 

You will need:

  • White bathroom tiles
  • Sponge painting brush
  • Mod Podge
  • A heavy book for pressing
  • Autumn leaves

 

Method:

  • Collect lots of autumn leaves of all shapes, sizes and colours.
  • Select the leaves that you’re going to use, and place them inside the heavy book for pressing. Place a few leaves on a page, then skip a few pages, and place some more until you’ve used all of your leaves.
  • Close the book, and put something heavy on top for added weight, maybe another heavy book. Leave to press for 7 – 10 days.
  • Carefully remove the leaves and spread them out on the table.
  • Now prepare your tile. Arrange a few leaves on a clean tile until you’re happy with the arrangement.
  • Remove the leaves from the tile and paint a thin layer of Mod Podge over the tile.
  • Add your first leaf, and add another thin layer of Mod Podge over that leaf.
  • Add your next leaf followed by another layer of Mod Podge, and continue the process until you’ve added all of the leaves.
  • Leave to dry completely, then add a final layer of Mod Podge and leave to dry.
  • Once dried, it will give your coaster a nice shine.

 

Clay Leaf Bowls (Source www.oneprojectcloser.com)

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These leaf bowls will look great around the house, and they’re easy to make and low cost. Your kids can be as creative as they like when painting the bowls, and can give them as Christmas presents.

 

You will need:

 

  • Autumn leaves
  • Oven-bake clay
  • Oven-proof bowls
  • Rolling pin
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Gold spray paint

 

Method:image

 

  • Collect autumn leaves (bigger leaves are better)
  • Work the Oven-baked clay until it’s warm and soft.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll the clay out till it’s thin and even.
  • Choose a leaf and place it in the centre of the rolled out clay.
  • Press the leaf deep into the clay using a rolling pin.
  • Carefully lift the leaf from the clay, then using a sharp knife, cut around the leaf print till you’re left with a leaf shaped clay.
  • Gently lift the leaf shaped clay and place it into an oven-proof bowl.
  • Bake the clay in the oven by following the directions on the clay packaging.
  • Remove the bowl and clay from the oven, and leave until it’s completely cool, and then remove the clay leaf from the bowl.
  • Paint the clay leaf using acrylic paint (think autumn colours) and leave to dry.
  • Lightly spray the painted bowls with the gold spray, and leave to dry completely.

 

Leaf Magnets (Source www.filthwizardry.com)

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Cover your fridge with autumn leaves this year by making these simple magnets. You will need a laminator to preserve the leaves for this method, but if you don’t have one just use another method, like coating the leaves with Mod Podge.

 

You will need:

 

  • Pressed autumn leaves (follow the same pressing method as the leaf coasters above)
  • Laminator
  • Magnets

 

Method:

 

  • Select the pressed leaves you’d like to use and laminate the leaves and cut them out.
  • Stick a small magnet on the back of the laminated leaves with some tape or hot glue.
  • Place the leaf magnets on the fridge, or anywhere that they’ll stick to.

 

Leaf Lanterns (Source www.creativepartyideasbycheryl.blogspot.co.uk)image

 

If you like to add a bit of ambiance to your autumn evenings by candlelight, then these lanterns are perfect.

 

 

You will need:

 

  • Pressed autumn leaves
  • Mod Podge
  • Jars
  • Brush

 

Method:

 

  • Brush Mod Podge all over the sides of the jar.
  • Place a leaf onto the Mod Podge and press it into place.
  • Brush over the leaf with more Mod Podge.
  • Continue adding leaves and Mod Podge until your jar is covered.
  • Leave to dry, and then cover with one final layer of ModPodge.
  • Once completely dry, put a tea light in the bottom of the jar.

 

Autumn Wreath (Source www.diyncrafts.com)

image

Create this simple, but effective autumn wreath to hang on your front door, or anywhere in the house.

 

You will need:

 

  • Cardboard
  • Autumn leaves (make sure that the leaves are whole and not torn)
  • Glue gun
  • A piece of ribbon, wool or string

 

Method:

 

  • Cut the cardboard into a ring of desired size. Make sure that it’s thick enough to glue plenty of leaves on it.
  • Using the glue gun, carefully glue the leaves onto the cardboard until it’s fully covered.
  • Glue the ribbon, wool or string to the back of the wreath, and hang it on the back of your door.
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Review of Smalls launching at Selfridges.

FullSizeRender-2Tired of a mountain of washing of sweaty smelly sport under-wears? Fed up with T-shirts that doesn’t keep shape after you’ve bought them, which needs endless hours of ironing? Good news! As Cat and Emma-Jane, mothers of both boys and girls faced the same problem they tried to do something radical about it and came up with the idea “Smalls”. Emma, one of ‘SitterStars’ founders, recently took her children aged 12 and 10 to Selfridges for Smalls launch of their high quality wool-garments.  This is their review.

Interview with Emma-Jane, one of Smalls founders and Directors:

– What is Smalls?

– Smalls are stylish and practical underwear and sports-clothes made out of merino wool.

– Why is Merino wool so special?

– Merino wool is for us the perfect fabric for next-to skin-wear. You can wear it during the day or in bed, it’s super smooth and it breathes like nothing else, the skin loves it. In New Zeeland, where Cat and I are from, superfine Merino wool is recommended by Maternity nurses and midwives as one of your newborn staples. Both our lovely mothers gave us bundles of merino when we had our ‘little ones’ and both Cat and myself fell in love with the material and got really hooked from the start. Perfect for babies as it is machine washable, no need to iron and it really is a miracle fibre!

What did the children think?

Gunnar (10 years old): Do your boys use ‘Smalls’ when they play rugby or football?

Emma-Jane: All of my family loves Merino wool and especially my boys as they both play rugby and football. It is great because it keeps them warm if it is cold outside. The wool is regulated by your body-temperature, which means that when you start to sweat in a match the wool will draw away the moisture from your body. No more smelly little boys in my family! Also, we have put extra effort into the design as my boys and my little girl hate itchy labels and too big washing instructions.

Victoria (12 years old): I like the quality of the sport-trousers and it’s ‘very cool’ that you can decide yourself where to put your initials.

Emma-Jane: The quality is so good that we got customers with severe eczema, who told us that ‘Smalls’ is the only brand they can use without getting an irritated skin.

 

Future:

Emma: So you recently launched ‘Smalls’ at Selfridges, what is your next move?

Emma-Jane: We are planning to expand our range to adults. The demand for baby clothes made out of natural material has also been high and we are going to widen our baby range as well.

Summary:

‘Smalls’ have got very high quality wool products at a reasonable price. The design is child-friendly. The fact that you can put them in the washing machine and you don’t need to iron the clothes makes it also an excellent product for today’s busy families. Brilliant gift for Christmas!

Rating: 5 Sitter Stars out of 5. ***** Well done!

Address: You can find ‘Smalls’ at Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB.

Visit: www.lovemysmalls.com

 

 

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