We love a bit of woodwork with the kids – whether out in the woods, at forest school, or at home with a bit of softwood, so we were very happy when One Hundred Toys asked us to test out a pile of fabulous-looking, kid-sized real tools from HABA. Read on to find out why we're now eschewing pretend tools for the real deal.
It's no doubt a result of my childhood as a bookworm devouring Enid Blyton stories that when I think of Dorset, I think of the Famous Five - ruined castles, mysterious islands, lashings of ginger beer, and gypsy caravans. So when we decided to take our kids on holiday to Dorset this summer, I was thrilled to discover the beautiful Farrs Meadow, near Winborne, where they have two fully furnished gypsy caravans to hire. And they each come with a fire pit for proper evening campfires... And there's a nearby river for wild swimming... And Saturday night is home-made-in-an-oudoor-wood-fired-oven Pizza night... At that point, we were all sold! So on a Saturday morning in August, we headed off on our very own caravan adventure. Read on to find out what it was like, and for our review of this quirky and charming campsite...
Do your kids love having little picnics with their toys? Mine do, but what they don’t love so much is tidying away, and those little bits of teeny tiny play food often go astray. So instead of buying them more, why not try out our quick and easy DIY solution? All you need is a bottle of wine and some paint…
Have you heard of Maileg? Maileg (pronounced “My’lye”) are an award-winning Danish toy company that produces gorgeous, swoon-worthy soft toys with a nostalgic, storybook appeal. We’ve been ogling them for quite a while, so we were beyond thrilled to receive a parcel the other day containing a beautiful Maileg ‘Big Sister’ Mouse, complete with matchbox bed, that was kindly sent to us for review by One Hundred Toys. If it’s possible to create Hygge in toy form, a Maileg Mouse must be it! Read on to find out why.
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…). 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 leaves is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time - read on to find out why!
There are images of some amazing mud kitchens out there on the web, and it's very easy to fall down a rabbit hole of great ideas without actually ever making one for your child. I was certainly guilty of it, until one day my sister stopped by and interrupted my description of the great mud kitchen I was going to make (one day), by pulling together a few things lying around in the garden and making one 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 - and 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!
A Mauritian daube is a stew of meat or fish 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 chicken daube does not include chilli and curry spices you might find elsewhere (there would be much 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.
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. Read on to find out how we made a DIY bog baby kit of our very own out of home-made playdough 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!
Our kids' stuff gets EVERYWHERE. What with arts and crafts, cookery bits, board games, play shopping, children's books, bikes, scooters, etcetera, etcetera, we were finding that the kids' things were spreading from their bedrooms to fill all the shared spaces in our home too. As a result, K-Dog and I found it more and more frustrating when WE wanted to do something; nothing was ever to hand or easy to get started on.
But the good news is that when we took a hard look at our small-to-middling Victorian terrace house, even bursting at the seams with stuff as it is, we were able to find spaces to annex as dedicated 'grown-up' areas - one for each of us. All it took was thinking about what we both needed, and then identifying a few wasted areas around the house that we could make better use of with a little bit of reorganisation. And I promise you, if messy pack-rats like us can do it, you can too!
'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward is one of our favourite picture books, being that rare beast that can captivate both a seven-year boy and a three-year old girl time and time again. I couldn't count how many times I've read this to the kids, but it still brings a tear to my eye too (in a good way!!).