Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

At the start of the summer, my Facebook timeline was full of memes about how we only get 18 summers with our children and how we need to make the most of them. This is summer number 8 for us, and the annual highlight of our “making the most of our time together” is always the Just So Festival. It’s three days away together, entirely unplugged; learning, exploring, enjoying and just loving everything the festival has to offer.

The Just So Festival 2018 has had a tiny shake up. All the old favourites were there, but just enough things had changed to keep it fresh for the families like us who come year after year.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Back in July we went to the Timber Festival, run by the people behind Just So, but aimed at a slightly older crowd with more of an ecological bent. There were some really fabulous things at Timber which thankfully made their way to Just So too. Things like The Lost Words, The Moth Hotel, Hammer and Chisel and the Coppice Maze.

A couple of the areas had been jigged about, the (fabulous) Flamingo Lounge was up near the Village Green and seemed more popular than ever. Hurrah for the Pirate King was a surprising but wonderful opera-ballet-pirate mash up with added unicorn. Modern Warrior was a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in a spot of martial arts style dance and The Silent Disco was a particular highlight (do not miss this if it’s on next year).

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Down by the lake, there was a re-named area called Roll up! Roll up! which had more of a circus theme. There were circus skills workshops running throughout, trapeze artists, a custard catwalk, the amazing Band at the End of the World and the incredible Bullzini Family running high-wire workshops and putting on a spectacular performance.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

I really enjoyed the Idlewood area this year, the Woodland Library had moved in and there were lots of colourful hammocks lashed to the trees where you could recline and relax with a good book. There were also theatre performances, Tai Chi and a chance to meet the Fairy Queen.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

The highlight for me, was as always the Spellbound Forest. Tucked away in the woods, perched on a log around the campfire, listening to ancient stories told by Ian Douglas, watching Mr Foppletwig and Professor Pumpernickel variously perform amazing magic tricks and scientific experiments and campfire songs with Ian Mackintosh. It’s so comfortable around that campfire, it often feels like hard work to tear yourself away and explore what else is going on.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

And there is so much going on. There are three packed Just So days and it’s almost impossible to get round to everything you want to see and do. I always end up having Just So regrets about things I have missed. Things people tell you about after they’ve happened. You make a mental note of it for next year and hope for the best.

Just So is such a remarkably safe space for families. It’s safe in a way that you can send a pair of 8 year olds off into the woods to do a Barefoot Walk for 10 minutes and know that they will come back filthy, with damp socks and full of the spirit of independence. It’s safe in the way that you know that everything they see and do will enrich them in some way. It is safe, because it just is.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

We sang, we danced, we ate, we laughed, I might have had a little cry of loveliness too. We had late nights, early mornings. We were filthy, we were covered in sand, custard and feathers, but we were happy and we were free. Just So is three wonderful, magical days a year which we remember incredibly fondly and look forward to above and beyond anything else.

See you round the campfire next year?

To grab your tickets for next year’s Just So Festival, visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Giveaway & Review: The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas

When I was growing up, I think we got most of our information about the world from ladybird books and an old atlas which was kicking about the place. My son can spend hours pouring over atlases and he has a few which he dips in and out of. We’ve recently acquired a copy of The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas which ticks all the right boxes for my animal obsessed, map loving son.

Review: The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas

The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas by Jen Green and illustrated by Christine Engel is a bright, colourful animal atlas which is designed specifically to make the vast reaches of our planet tangible for a young audience. It features beautiful, detailed maps that children will love to pore over, discovering something new each time. A fabulous “pop-up” map shows the world’s animal biomes at a glance and the accessible text is packed full of amazing facts on record-breaking animals, creatures to beware of, and animals that work alongside people.

The atlas is divided by continent, and there are gatefolded pages filled with colourful artworks, photographs and illustrations that show biomes and terrains as well as wildlife. Other maps show people, places and political boundaries. This Fold-Out Animal Atlas is designed to help you discover people, creatures and amazing physical and man-made features, and find out how every part of our planet is both vital and connected.

Review: The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas

Each page is packed with bite-size facts which are easily digestible, with lots of talking points and there’s even a quiz. It’s a great book for younger children to look at with a parent, and for older children to enjoy by themselves. It is just right for my seven year old son, he’s spent several evenings before bed reading the atlas and looking at the beautifully illustrated maps.

It’s really wonderful when you find books which your children love and enjoy reading, which help them learn too. This is one of those books, it’s part of a wider series of fold out atlases, so if they enjoy this book, you can get others like it too. It’s an animal atlas thumbs up from us!

The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas by Jen Green is published in paperback in August 2018. The atlas costs £9.99 and is widely available in good bookshops and online.

WIN A COPY OF The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas

To be in with a chance to win a copy of The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas, worth £9.99, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a copy of The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 16th September 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto Carlton Books to post the above mentioned prize out to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: We were sent The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. This post contains an affiliate link.

For details of more children’s books published by Carlton Books, visit their website.

If you enjoyed this review, you might also like our review of The Totally Amazing, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Atlas of the World.

Easy Recipe: Chunky Rocky Road with M&Ms

Last weekend we celebrated my nephew’s birthday and as is tradition, we all brought along a sweet treat for the birthday party. I was short on time, so the night before I threw together a quick rocky road, mixed things up with a colourful bag of M&Ms and took it along to the party. It was a real hit and I suspect I’ll be asked to make my chunky rocky road with M&Ms on a regular basis now!

A little while ago I shared my recipe for Butterfinger Mini Cups Rocky Road and ever since then I’ve been knocking up trays of this easy treat for all kinds of occasions and sometimes just because we fancy it. It’s a great little crowd pleaser, especially if there are chocolate loving children in that crowd.

Easy Recipe: Chunky Rocky Road with M&Ms

These Chunky Rocky Road bars made with M&Ms really hit the spot, plus they’re really colourful and a great addition to a party table.

Chunky Rocky Road with M&Ms

Ingredients:
200g Milk Chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 Tablespoons of golden syrup
135g Unsalted butter
100g Mini marshmallows
75g Raisins
110g M&Ms

Method:
Line a high sided baking tray with baking parchment. I used a small roasting tin because it seemed up to the job.

Put the milk chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl. Using a bain marie (put an inch or two of hot water in the pan and place the glass bowl over the top making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl) over a gentle heat. Stir the chocolate, golden syrup and butter until everything has melted together.

While the chocolate mixture is slowly melting, put the biscuits into a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re broken up, but not crumbs. Ideally you want a mixture of chunky pieces and smaller, crumbly bits. Once bashed, tip them into a mixing bowl. Add the marshmallows and raisins.

Take the M&Ms and put a handful to one side for decoration. Take the rest and add them to the biscuit mix.

Once the chocolate mixture has melted, take it off the heat and carefully tip the biscuity mix into the chocolate. Stir it well and make sure everything is coated. Then tip it onto your baking tray spread the mixture out. It needs to be about 2cm deep as a minimum, but the thicker the better as far as I’m concerned.

Easy Recipe: Chunky Rocky Road with M&Ms

Take the M&Ms you’d put to one side and scatter them across the top of the rock road, press each one gently into the melted chocolate. Hopefully this will anchor them in place once it’s set. Chill in a cool place, preferably a fridge for at least two hours. Then slice into generous pieces and enjoy!

Easy Recipe: Chunky Rocky Road with M&Ms

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

A few weeks ago I spotted a packet of Gelli Baff in my local toy shop and decided to treat my son to a Gelli Baff bath. It was brilliant fun and we all ended up having a go. It’s really tactile so I thought it would be something we could use for some sensory play. Today it’s been too grey and wet to go to the park, so I assembled some stuff and we had an hour or so of dinosaur sensory activities.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

The Gelli Baff is available in a range of colours but I opted for “slime green” which seemed about the right shade to create a dinosaur swamp with. Gelli Baff comes with a sachet of dissolver, so when you’ve finished it just washes down the plughole like water. It’s safe for children and fine for sensitive skin. It also has a pleasant fragrance.

A packet of Gelli Baff costs £5.99 and there’s enough for one bath in the pack. But if you want to use it for sensory play you can probably get a minimum of five trays of goop out of a packet.

How to create a Dinosaur Sensory Activity box

You will need:
One plastic storage box. I used an IKEA Trofast Storage box
Gelli Baff
Warm water
Selection of dinosaurs and dino accessories

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

How to make your dinosaur sensory activity box:
In your clean plastic box pour in six pints of warm water, you can add more if you need to later. Weigh out 30g of the Gelli Baff powder and stir it in. It should turn to jelly fairly quickly. If the texture is too firm for you, add some more warm water until you’re happy with it.

Grab your dinos and put them in the box, let your imagination run wild.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

Once you’ve finished playing with your dinosaur sensory activity box you can sprinkle over the dissolving powder and then just pour it down the sink.

Tips:

Although Gelli Baff doesn’t stain (or shouldn’t), you might want to wear an apron to protect your clothes.

My son LOVED this activity and decided he wanted to make a pond for the dinosaurs to drink out of and swim in. We used a small plastic bowl, this definitely added an extra dimension to his play.

I put the washing up bowl nearby so any dinosaurs he’d played with could go in there and be rinsed off afterwards. Some of the goo did cling to them a bit. I’m a big fan of tidy as you go and this helped.

We played with this in the kitchen which was fine because if there was mess it could be mopped up. If you’re playing with this in a carpeted room I’d but a wipe clean cloth down under the box to minimise the mess.

Children might like to use tools in the sensory box; we used some normal teaspoons to dig the goo out for the pond.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

What did we learn?

My son loves dinosaurs, so for him this was a really good way of stretching his imagination by creating a habitat for his dinosaurs. For me it was a good way of expanding his vocabulary and exploring new ways to describe things.

We founds words such as; squishy, wobbly, gooey, warm, cold, soft and grainy which all described the Gelli Baff well.

We also closed our eyes and felt around for tiny dinos in the goo. When we found them we had to try to feel to guess what kind of dinosaur we had. This was a great game and one he really enjoyed.

For a more interesting tactile sensory experience; make the Geli Baff up with quite warm water and children can explore the different temperatures as the gelli cools while they play with it.

He mostly enjoyed just playing with the dinosaur sensory activity box, and who can blame him?

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to try Growing Egg and Cress Heads.

Book Review: Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti

We’ve been learning a lot about nature recently, going on nature trails and exploring our local environment. Alongside that we’ve been doing some reading about nature and the natural world. To complement that, we’ve spent some time doing some o the nature activities in a really interesting book called Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti.

Hello Nature is a wonderfully illustrated 160 page nature scrapbook. It’s full of interesting facts and activities to help you explore and learn more about nature. The book encourages you to “draw, colour, make and grow” all over its pages.

Book Review: Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti

Colour in butterflies, leaves, frogs, pebbles and much more; discover more about what different kinds of snowflakes there are; learn about how leaves are formed; make your own leaf prints and twig sculptures; and make bird feeders and grass whistles. Hello Nature is packed with simple nature activities for children.

Hello Nature is aimed at children aged 7-11 years, but it’s so beautiful it would make a great present for anyone interested in drawing or painting nature.

You don’t have to live in the countryside to make the most of this book. You can use it to explore your back garden or local park. Take it with you to the beach and find out more about the shells you find and the creatures you may find in a rockpool.

Book Review: Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti

The book is split into four seasonal sections; with crafts, activities and things to draw, paint and colour in each section. It’s a wonderful nature scrapbook you can dip in and out of throughout the year, noting the changing of the seasons and the nature around you. It is the kind of book which you can pull out at half terms and school holidays and spend a few afternoons working on. It’s a lovely project to do throughout the year and something special to look back on at a later date.

The illustrations by Nina Chakrabarti are beautifully detailed and the words are insightful, encouraging the reader to explore what the see, feel and experience. How does bark feel? How does the forest smell? It encourages you to be more aware of the natural world and experience it will all of your senses. Something I very much approve of.

Book Review: Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti

Hello Nature has arrived at just the right time for us. We are going camping in the woods later this month; so we will take this and use it to help identify trees, leaves, insects and do some lovely nature based activities.

Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti costs £12.99. It’s published by Laurence King and is available from a wide range of bookshops including Amazon.

For details of more children’s books published by Laurence King, visit their website.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Hello Nature for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

This summer there’s a treat in store for PAW Patrol fans – the PAW Patrol are on tour with their PAW Patrol Live show! The UK’s favourite pups have set sail on a Great Pirate Adventure and you can catch them touring arenas up and down the UK this summer. We took our PAW Patrol fan to the Manchester Arena over the weekend to see the show, but what did he think?

Review: Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

What happens in The Great Pirate Adventure?

In The Great Pirate Adventure, Mayor Goodway is busy getting everything shipshape for a big Pirate Day celebration in Adventure Bay; but when Cap’n Turbot falls into a dark and mysterious cavern, it’s up to the PAW Patrol to save the day!

Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rubble, Rocky and Zuma ride to the rescue; saving Cap’n Turbot and discovering a secret pirate treasure map. An exciting adventure awaits, but will Mayor Humdinger succeed in throwing the pirate pups off the scent?

The pups soon set sail on a pirate adventure to find the treasure for Mayor Goodway. It’s all paws on deck to solve this mystery and find the pirate treasure, including help from the newest PAW Patrol pup – Tracker! No job is too big, no pirate pup is too small!

What did we think?

We had good seats on the front row of one of the tiers, we were to the side of the stage with a rail in front of us. The boy could only really see above the rail if he sat on our knee, which was fine, it meant we could jig along to the music with him.

The Great Pirate Adventure has two halves of around 40 minutes each with a 15 minute interval, which I think is just right for young children.

The characters are really well done, each character has a human visible behind them, doing the voices and acting along. Although the faces of the PAW Patrol are animated, we liked that the people operating them wore hats and costumes and were a part of the show too.

There was a song every few minutes and lots of dancing. There were some great touches, like Ryder’s car was a real car which he drove across the stage. I also really liked Ryder’s Pup Pad which walked onto the stage each time with the characters he was talking to in it.

In Great Pirate Adventure the Mayor characters seemed more interesting to me than in the series. Mayor Goodway was really well acted and I really liked (though I’m not sure I’m supposed to) Mayor Humdinger who by the end had the best costume in the show.

The set was ever-changing, colourful, versatile and impressive. It’s as lively and interesting as they can make it for stage.

The show we went to was the third show of the day and unfortunately there were lots of empty seats, which did make the atmosphere a little flat. We know someone who went to an earlier performance where almost all of the seats were filled and they said the atmosphere was great, with more people singing and dancing along. There was lots of audience participation which didn’t work quite  so well in the half empty arena, which was a shame really.

The boy loved it. It was just the right length for him and it was fast paced so there was little chance of him getting bored. I do regret not dressing him up in a PAW Patrol costume. Almost every child in the arena was dressed as Chase, Marshall, Zuma, Skye, Rocky or Rubble, so we missed a trick there.

It’s fun, it’s lively and it’s a real treat for PAW Patrol fans.

Review: Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

Where can you see The Great Pirate Adventure UK tour?

15th August – Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
18th August – Arena Birmingham
22nd August – Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
25th & 26th August – The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
29th August – First Direct Arena, Leeds
1st & 2nd September – Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
8th & 9th September – Brighton Centre, Brighton

Tickets for PAW Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure are on sale now and you can find them at https://www.pawpatrollive.co.uk/

 

Disclosure: We were given tickets to the show in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are our own.

How we encouraged and protected our child’s dreams

My son Ben has the most wonderful, vivid, lively imagination. He creates fantastical worlds for us to live in. One day we’re slaying dragons, the next we’re farmers with 1,100 horses, most of which are named after his friends at school. I love his imagination, I think it’s something to be nurtured and encouraged; who knows, I might have the next Roald Dahl on my hands!

With his big imagination comes big dreams. Dreams of being a train driver, a cowboy, a farmer or a ninja. Sometimes a combination of things, like being a ninja scientist – there’s probably a need for at least one of those in the world right? I have no idea what he will be when he grows up, I just want him to be happy and to love what he does. He’s wanted to be a ninja scientist for a while now, so a few months ago we started sending him to “ninja school”, learning mixed martial arts. He really likes training and learning the moves, and he sees it as a step towards becoming a real ninja.

Post Office Life Insurance How we've helped our son reach for the stars, and beyond!

I see my role as a parent as being one of the people to guide him towards good things in life; teaching him to be independent and capable so when he’s grown up or I’m gone, he can carry on doing the good things and being the best Ben he can be. To me, parenting is about providing motivation, leadership and inspiration to my son. I’m confident that should I be beamed up by aliens tomorrow, there are enough good people around him to love and support him in this way, right through to adulthood and beyond.

The Post Office asked us to find out what Ben’s hopes and dreams were. Surprise surprise he wanted to become a ninja… (wait for it) …dog walker. Yes, you heard. Find out what some of his other dreams and ambitions are in this short but incredibly adorable video.

I do know that if he truly wants to move to Japan and devote his life to becoming a ninja, he will probably need more than a few weeks’ pocket money to see him through. Training ninjas cannot be done on the cheap. Should anything happen to me or his Dad, our Post Office Life Insurance should step in to meet all his ninja training needs and give us some peace of mind too.

As for being a dog walker, that’s a dream which can very easily be fulfilled, starting with our own pup, Penny.

Post Office Life Insurance - How we've helped our son reach for the stars, and beyond!

Being a mum, there’s so much for me to worry and fret about, although I try and be as laid back as I can so he doesn’t inherit my worries. Having life insurance is one less thing for me to worry over. Having life insurance which will help my son to follow his dreams is even better. Super ninja, or super dog walker, whichever dream he chooses to follow, I know he will be the best Ben he can be.

This post is in collaboration with the Post Office.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys + Join the #PuppyDogPalsToys Twitter Party

Puppy Dog Pals is a really fun kids cartoon on the Disney Junior channel. It’s a cartoon we watch quite a lot of, it’s good clean canine fun and the boy is nothing short of obsessed with dogs, so it ticks all kinds of boxes for him. Flair have just launched a new range of Disney Puppy Dog Pals toys which are now available nationwide.

The range of Disney Puppy Dog Pals toys is extensive and there’s something to suit every Puppy Dog Pals fan. We invited some friends around to help us put the Puppy Dog Pals range to the test, with two seven year olds and one five year old, the toys were really put through their paces.

The Puppy Dog Pals toy collection includes…

 

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

The two-storey Doghouse Playset (£29.99) is a really fun addition to the range. It’s easy to slot together and took just a couple of minutes to unpack and assemble. It comes with a set of Bingo and Rolly figures, so you can pay straight away! The kids all loved the Doghouse, it has a slide, tyre swing, a spinning glider, an elevator, a seesaw and lots more. They really couldn’t stop playing with it, which is always a good sign.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

What made the Doghouse extra fun was the addition of the Deluxe Figures Set (£29.99). The set includes six characters; Bingo, Rolly, A.R.F., Bob, Hissy, Keia; and four accessories, two food bowls, one cat bed and one fetch toy. It’s a great set to start your collection with and the detail on the figures is excellent and very true to the series.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

One of the most popular toys was the Pet & Talk Plush Pals (£9.99). We got a lovely snuggly Bingo. You press a button on his back and he bobs his head and has a vocabulary of over 10 sounds and phrases. We found it a little tricky at first to find the button, but once we did he was chattering away and making everyone laugh.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

My son who loves a pug, grabbed the Rolly Puppy Love Plush (£16.99) and wouldn’t let go. As I write this he’s currently tucked up in bed with him, Rolly is in a headlock and seems pretty happy with that arrangement. I would say that he is pretty big at around 30cm tall, and I think good value at £16.99.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

The kids all enjoyed racing the Figures on the Go (£12.99) up and down my kitchen. These simple action toys which don’t need batteries, you just put your figure in the vehicle, load them into the launcher, press the paw button and off they go.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

Lastly the Travel Pets & Figures (£3.99) are the pocket money priced collectibles which kids love so much. Each one is a travel pet carrier with a collectible figure inside. There are lots of pups to collect as well as two rare figures to find. My son really loved his and it’s come on a few outings with us.

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

The Puppy Dog Pals toy collection is available from all good toy stores and Amazon, Smyths Toys and The Entertainer.

Do join us for the #PuppyDogPalsToys Twitter Party on 15th August at 1-3pm. 

Review: Puppy Dog Pals Toys

Easy Recipe: Festival Jacket Sweet Potatoes

We have these Festival Sweet Potatoes on a very regular basis. We call them Festival Sweet Potatoes because we first had them at the Just So Festival a few years ago. There’s a stall which sells them and more often than not we have them for lunch a couple of times while we’re there. They’re just jacket sweet potatoes with simple toppings, but they always remind us of our Just So Festival weekends.

I’m not sure the name of the company who sell these at Just So, but if you’re going, they’re well worth tracking down and trying for yourself. If you’re not going to the Just So Festival, then you might as well make these at home, they’re almost as good as the original! I love the food at Just So, there are so many different food stalls to try, you could happily eat a completely different cuisine for every meal while you’re there.

Easy Recipe: Festival Jacket Sweet Potatoes

We usually bake the festival sweet potatoes in the oven, but you can microwave or BBQ them too if you want. They make a great lunch or a nice side with fajitas or whatever else you fancy.

Festival Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato per person
Finely grated Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Spring onions, finely sliced
Coriander

How to make your Festival Sweet Potatoes:
Heat oven to 220°. Wrap your sweet potatoes in foil or put on a baking sheet. Sweet potatoes tend to leak a sticky fluid when they bake, so this will save you having to clean your oven afterwards. Bake for about an hour, or until the potato is soft all the way through when you poke it with a knife.

Once baked, slit the top and open them up. Add as much finely grated Cheddar cheese as you like, not too much though. Dollop on some sour cream and sprinkle over with spring onions and coriander, then eat. It’s as simple as that.

Easy Recipe: Festival Jacket Sweet Potatoes

I like a lot of spring onions and coriander; but if you’re catering for a crowd you can just put the toppings in bowls and everyone can help themselves. These are great for a party. I like to serve them in the foil as this saves on washing up too!

Easy Recipe: Festival Jacket Sweet Potatoes

Kids Craft: Make a Rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

Summer is here and I’m busy tidying, decluttering and reorganising my house. Since the schools broke up for summer I feel like I’ve been living in chaos. My desk area and office leave a lot to be desired and I need to have a really good sort out. One thing I always have on my desk is a pen pot. Or rather, I have one for pens, one for pencils and one for felt tips too. That alone makes my often cluttered desk space look and feel a bit tidier. This week, in an effort to make my desk a brighter, cheerier space, we made a rainbow lolly stick pen pot.

Kids Craft: How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

It’s a really simple craft, made from a washed out tin can and a handful of colourful lolly sticks (or popsicle sticks if you prefer). It looks really cheery on my desk, and knowing that my helpful son has had a hand in creating my new pen pot, it makes it extra special for me.

You can’t beat a good pen pot, we have them all over the house and it’s just handy to have a few spots around the place where you know you’ll be able to find a pen when you need one. The boy is moving into year 3 shortly, so he’s starting to want and need his own dedicated work-space. I can see us needing to make a few more of these lovely pen pots for his stationery supplies too.

How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

You will need:
One clean tin can
A handful of colourful lolly sticks
Bostik Foam Pads

Kids Craft: How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot:
Take a lolly stick and stick two small foam pads near the bottom of a lolly stick and two foam pads near the top. Peel off the backing tape and press the stick onto the tin can; making sure that the bottom of the lolly stick isn’t longer than the bottom of the tin can.

Kids Craft: How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

Repeat this process until the whole of your tin can is covered in vertical lolly sticks. Press the sticks firmly into place and your colourful rainbow lolly stick pen pot is complete and ready for action.

Just make sure you’ve washed your tin out properly before you use it; or all of your pens and pencils will smell a bit like baked beans or dog food.

Check out my other craft tutorials here!

Kids Craft: How to make a rainbow Lolly Stick Pen Pot

I am a Bostik Craft Blogger and I was sent the materials to create this craft from Craft Merrily. I have not been compensated for this post.