Tag Archives: valentines day

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine’s Day

I am part of a craft group who meet monthly. Each month we try something different and last month we did a spot of découpage. It was really simple, given that it’s essentially sticking pieces of paper onto something. This month I’ve been thinking about crafts for Valentine’s Day and I thought I’d make a découpage lantern, and it turned out pretty well. Here’s what I did.

How to make a Découpage Lantern for Valentine’s Day

You will need:
Two sheets of tissue paper 
One clean jam jar
Some PVA glue (I used Bostik White Glue)
Some ribbon or coloured rafia craft twine

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Tear up one sheet of the tissue paper, choose the paler colour. Paint the jam jar with the PVA glue and cover in the ripped up pieces of tissue paper. If you layer it up so that all of the jar is covered, but some parts have several layers it will create a nice effect when the candle is lit.

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Once the jar is covered with tissue paper, take your darker paper and cut heart shapes in varying sizes.

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Glue the hearts over the jar however you like. I covered some of the sides of my jar with big hearts and others with little hearts. Leave the jar to dry for a few hours or overnight.

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Once the jar is dry you can tie a ribbon around the top which finishes it off nicely and makes a really pretty little centrepiece for your Valentine’s Day dinner table, or just some lovely mood lighting for a romantic night in front of the TV.

Crafting: Making a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Découpage is really easy and so great for decorating lanterns and votives with. You can découpage almost anything. At my craft club we decorated little boxes which were quite pretty when they dried, but I think it really lends itself to glass and especially glass jars.

 a Découpage Lantern for Valentine's Day

Note: I am a Bostik craft blogger and I was sent the materials to create a Valentine’s craft with by Craft Merrily. 

Review: Dinner for two at the Bamford Arms

As one half of a pair of fairly exhausted parents we often find it difficult to have a night out together. Every few months we make a special effort to have a date night, dress up a bit and go out somewhere, anywhere for a few hours of couple time together. With Valentine’s Day approaching we visited the Bamford Arms in Stockport for a romantic dinner for two.

We’ve been to the Bamford Arms a few times before as a family, we’ve always been impressed with the quality of the food and the child-friendly atmosphere. This time we visited at night, the restaurant was busy with couples and small groups of friends on a night out. We were shown to a cosy booth and ordered a bottle of prosecco while we looked over the menu.

The Bamford Arms is a Beefeater Grill, so steaks are the order of the day. We ordered starters, him a classic prawn cocktail and me the potato dippers with sour cream and spring onion. His prawn cocktail was a fairly big portion, lots of prawns in marie rose sauce, layered on top of lettuce and cucumber and served with slices of ciabatta. He gave it a 9/10 which is praise indeed! My potato dippers were like thin potato wedges or fat crisps with melted cheese over them and served with a sour cream and chive dip. It was a big portion but very tasty. They do sharing plates of these too which I would definitely order again, to share obviously. 

Bamford Arms

For our main course he ordered the huge 18oz porterhouse steak which comes with unlimited fries (skinny or triple cooked), half a slow roasted tomato, a grilled mushroom and salad. I’m veggie so I ordered the baked veggie enchiladas which were soft flour tortillas stuffed with lime & coriander rice and tomatoes, topped with melted cheese, red chilli, spring onion and sour cream & chive and served with  mini corn on the cob. We also rather greedily ordered sides of macaroni cheese, garlic king prawns and chunky slaw.

Bamford Arms

My enchiladas were very fresh and tasty. It’s nice to see an alternative to the standard lasagne for veggies on the menu. It was piping hot and still bubbling when it arrived at the table. It was fresh and filling, full of wholesome beans and veg, with just enough melted cheese on top, despite the cheese I suspect this is a reasonably healthy choice. 

The sides we ordered to share were huge, the macaroni was toothsome and cheesy, and I know my pasta loving son would have devoured the lot in one go. Hubs loved the garlic king prawns, you get 10 big juicy prawns in a serving for just £4.99 which was excellent value and the chunky slaw was the perfect foil for my spicy enchiladas. 

Hubs valiantly faced the 18oz porterhouse steak; priced at £20.99 it was the most expensive steak on the menu but it was a special occasion so we pushed the boat out. He asked for it to be cooked medium and for some hot piri-piri sauce on the side. The steak was perfectly cooked and huge, it was beautifully tender and he rather impressively managed to devour it all and declared it to be delicious.

Bamford Arms

We were both absolutely stuffed, but we wanted a little bit of something sweet for pudding, so after much deliberation and negotiation we chose to share the Rocky Road Sundae. This was the perfect size for sharing, lovely ice cream and chocolate sauce with chunks of chocolate brownie and topped with marshmallows and a wafer. 

Bamford Arms

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, although we were stuffed, we’d eaten and eaten well. The restaurant was cosy and the tables weren’t too close together, so you could have a good conversation without feeling like you’re sharing with everyone else. The booth was comfortable and we quickly relaxed into our evening, and importantly at our age there wasn’t loud music blaring, so you could actually hold a conversation rather than shout at each other across the table, which made a nice change.

The food is perfect for sharing, the unlimited skinny or triple cooked chips offer is fantastic, it mean’t that I could pinch a few chips off his plate without him complaining. We couldn’t fault it, and without drinks out food came to £54, which we thought was excellent value for the feast we’d just had.

For a romantic dinner with good food, great wines in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, the Bamford Arms is well worth a visit for Valentine’s Day, and if you want to push the boat out, order the porterhouse steak. You’ll not regret it! 

Note: We were invited guests of the Bamford Arms Beefeater Grill in Stockport, all images and opinions are our own.

Valentine’s Day Crafts & Activity Sheets

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the small boy and I sat down for an afternoon of Valentine’s Day crafts and activity sheets to get us into the spirit of things. Generally Hubs and I don’t much go in for too many hearts and flowers, we’ve been together since 1995 so we’ve seen more Valentine’s Days together than most, but a heartfelt card and a small token gift is always the order of the day. 

We’d already started to make some cute heart shaped decorations using a heart decoration bead kit from Baker Ross. The kits include some nice long pipe-cleaners and lots of colourful beads. You thread the beads onto the pipe-cleaners and then bend into a heart shape. The kit comes with a little bell you can attach to the heart and some ribbon so you can hang it up. It was a lovely, fun activity which we did together. It was also great for helping to develop his fine motor skills which are essential with helping him to learn to write.

Valentine's Day Crafts

A reasonably quick but fun craft we did was to make these heart pets photo frame fridge magnets. Again these are from Baker Ross and they’re really easy to put together. The foam pieces and googly eyes all have peel off backs, so you just peel everything off and stick it together. The small boy enjoyed putting the frame together and making his doggy. He said he’s going to give his frame to Grandad on Valentine’s Day, because he loves him *heart melts*.

Valentine's Day Crafts

Again, the peeling and sticking actions are all great for those fine motor skills, and for exercising his pincer grip, we can’t get enough of that kind of thing at the moment.

Once we’d put our craft box away, we decided to have a go at some of the Valentine’s Day activity sheets we’d printed off from Twinkl, including the Valentine’s Day worksheet and the Valentine’s Day word and picture matching worksheets. These went down very well with the boy, we started with the word and picture matching, he spelt out every word and we looked at the pictures to see which we thought might match the word, he loves this kind of activity at the moment so I was glad we had a couple of sheets of these to do.

Valentine's Day Crafts

The worksheet was a little more challenging for him, he’s not a confident writer, so together we thought about some of the questions and how we might answer them. He verbally listed everyone he loved (dogs first, naturally) and then said his best friend was Daddy. He was getting tired by now, so we called it a day. I didn’t want to push things as that can be counterproductive. It was time for a cuddle and a walk in the park!

Valentine's Day Crafts

We both love our craft afternoons together. It’s lovely to see him focus on a task and enjoy sitting with me. These quiet moments with him are probably the highlight of my week. I think I know who my Valentine is this (and every) year.

Crafts: Making Valentine’s Day cards with toddlers

This week I volunteered to run the crafts table at playgroup. It’s not something I’ve done before because the room is full of people much more creative than I could ever be. I figured we could make Valentine’s Day cards and that wouldn’t be too difficult.

I got my husband, who has a printers and stationers in Didsbury to cut and score some blank cards for us, and I cut out several hundred red and pink hearts. Throw in some glitter pens and some PVA glue and you have the ingredients for toddler fun.

Crafts: Making Valentine's Day cards with toddlers

Setting up – hearts and glue

Crafts: Making Valentine's Day cards with toddlers

Let’s get sticking!

Crafts: Making Valentine's Day cards with toddlers

Getting busy – sticky, glittery fingers!

Crafts: Making Valentine's Day cards with toddlers

Result! Just one of the beautiful works of art.

I really enjoyed making these Valentine’s Day cards with the children. I think they enjoyed it too, it’s always good to share the love, whatever age you are.

Love on a budget: Value-for-Money Valentine’s Day

Having been with my lovely husband for more years than I care to remember (19 ok, it’s 19) we have a fair few Valentine’s Days under our belts. In the early days it was all massive bouquets of flowers and fancy pants meals in swanky places. Then as time wore on we set a budget for gifts and nights out we’re replaced by takeaways.Romance on a budget: Value-for-Money Valentine's Day heart

Then when baby (now honking great toddler) arrived, we sort of gave up entirely. We were too busy and too tired to make an effort. But when you’re too busy and too tired to make an effort, that’s the time you really should be making an effort.

So this year will be different. Ok so I’m now self-employed and all my disposable income has been disposed of elsewhere, but being a bit of a thrifty type I’m determined to make this one a little bit special even on a tiny, even non-existent budget.

Valentine’s Day this year is on a Friday which is obviously a work day. Hubs will have been at work and I’ll have spent the day with a riotous toddler. We’ll both be tired and maybe a bit frazzled so what we plan needs to be not only budget friendly but incredibly simple, so this is what’s on the agenda.

7.30pm – Put riotous toddler to bed
7.35pm – Breathe
7.45pm – Husband (who never cooks but when he does it’s brilliant) makes spaghetti vongole, but without the vongole because I’m veggie and don’t eat seafood. Plus, you know, kerching!
8.00pm – Open leftover bottle of prosecco from Christmas (yes, such a thing as leftover booze does exist in our house, it’s rare but it does happen), consume spaghetti vongole
8.30pm – I make a sexy pudding, which in this case will be some heart shaped biscuits the toddler and I will have made that afternoon (baking activity turned into slave labour, parenting at its best) with nice Aldi ice cream and some raspberries
9.30pm – Curl up on the sofa with the rest of the prosecco, exchange homemade cards and cuddles then watch a DVD
11.30pm – Bedtime with extra snuggles.

Simple but lovely and what’s more, very, very cheap.

Will you be enjoying a budget Valentine’s Day? What are your penny-wise tips for passionate Valentines? I’d love to hear them.

Review: A Personalised Book for Toddlers from love2read

We’ve always felt it was important to read to and with our boy. When he was nought but a bump we’d regale him with a host of stories in the hope he’d pop out reciting the works of Shakespeare, or at the very least The Gruffalo. That surprisingly enough didn’t happen, but he has always, always loved books and bedtime stories are something we all look forward to.

He’s three now and although he can’t read yet, he is starting to recognise some letters; it’s time we stepped up our bedtime story routine and got him joining in a bit more.

The other night I happened across love2read on Twitter. They create personalised photo books around your child’s family and life. The idea being that if they’re matching words to pictures of things they love and recognise, then that will enhance their love of reading, make it more relevant to them and ultimately more enjoyable.

You select from a pretty wide range of titles including – I love…, All About Me…, When It Snowed… and Where I Live. We plumped for I Love… because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we’ve been talking a lot recently about the people and things we love.

The whole process is incredibly easy. Once you’ve chosen which book you want, you need to select and upload your pictures. Generally you’ll need about 10 digital photographs of fairly decent quality. You can drop your pictures in and swap them around on the pages until you are happy. Then enter the text you’d like, for example “I love Daddy”, check you’re happy and then order your book. Easy-peasy.

We ordered our personalised book on Wednesday morning and it was sat in my hot little hand by Friday lunchtime. Delivery time depends on when you order in relation to their print runs, but delivery was fast and it was well packaged.

personalised book

Now my delightful husband has his own printing business, so the first thing I did was hand it to him for his professional opinion. He thought the print quality was good, with the inside pages being of a decent weight (which means good quality paper). He was pretty impressed (and in terms of print he’s the most critical man in the world). His one criticism was that the staples were too small, but that’s something only printers and the overly fastidious would notice, and let’s face facts, that’s not going to massively impact on your enjoyment of the book.

Bedtime rolled around and ta-dah, I revealed his new bedtime story. He wanted to examine every page carefully, delighting in the pictures and describing what was in them. One of the pictures was him on the beach, which sparked a lovely conversation about what we did that day and what he liked about it. We then sat and read the personalised book properly, cover to cover, several times.

The wording is very simple. In the “I love…” book we put things like “I love the playground”, which he does. He instinctively repeated the words after I read them out and I pointed at the individual words as I read along so he’d start to get the idea of reading left to right. It was all good and we read it several times over. He loved it so much he’s taken it to bed with him.

personalised book

We’re impressed. The process was simple and the product of good quality with clear educational value. What I liked about it was it is also a lovely photo book which you can use to record special days, such as birthdays, holidays, Christmas and Valentines.

At just £14.99 a book I think it represents good value for money, given it’s not only an unusual but lovely learning tool, but a photo book of memories. My top tip would be to sort out 10 or so photographs before you sit down and create your book.

I think these are really lovely gifts for toddlers. I like that the range of titles you can choose from is pretty vast so you can personalise books to be read with Grandad or Auntie Lisa or whoever. If there isn’t a title which matches what you want there’s the option to create your own. It’s flexible and honestly it took very little time to create. As I said, sort your pictures out first, that’s always the hard bit.

Would I recommend? Absolutely yes. Will I be buying more, absolutely yes. Does he love it? Oh my goodness yes. Just don’t show it to someone fastidious about staple length.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of the personalised book  “I Love…”  for review purposes, but my reviews are always honest, especially regarding staple length.