Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

April is famous for its showers, so we decided to make our own weather based craft. We went for this fun cloud mobile which you can decorate however you want really. We went for paint, pom poms and a silver lining and we were pretty happy with the result.

To make life easier I created a simple cloud template which we could use to decorate. I’ve made the template available to download, so you can recreate the cloud mobile easily at home. This is a really lovely craft, we are so pleased with how it turned out.

Download your FREE cloud template here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Make your own Cloud Mobile

You will need:

A printout of the cloud template
Paint
String or twine
Sellotape
Scissors
A glue gun
Pom Poms
A yellow foam circle

How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Print out a copy of the cloud template on card. Decorate each cloud, we painted ours different shades of blue with silver linings. I thought they might be quite nice with glued on wisps of cotton wool, but the boy had other ideas.

Leave the paint, or whatever you’ve glued to your clouds to dry and then carefully cut them out.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Using a length of twine (I used a really lovely blue striped twine I found in a nice shop in Gloucester) sellotape the  twine to the back of the clouds so they will hang evenly. Make sure there’s a decent loop of twine at the top so you can hang the cloud mobile on a hook when you’re done.

The cloud mobile looked lovely, but I wanted to embellish it with hanging pom poms and a bright sunny sun.

I selected five little pom poms and using the glue gun, glued them onto five inch long pieces of twine I’d cut. I then sellotaped them to the back of the bottom cloud. Again using the glue gun I dolloped some glue onto the yellow foam circle and stuck it so it was peeping out form behind the top cloud.

The cloud mobile was done. We did think about adding some sequins or glitter, but decided it looked great as it was. Really, you can decorate your clouds however you want, let your imagination run wild!

If you enjoyed this post, you can find all kinds of other crafts and activities here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Six Really Great Books About Geology

One of my son’s latest obsessions is geology. Last week we went to Cornwall for a short break; while we were there he went on a geology walk which fuelled his obsession no end. We already had a few books about rocks and geology on our shelves; but the geology walk meant we needed to visit a bookshop and expand our selection of books about geology a little more. After consulting with the boy, we’ve chosen six of his favourite books about geology.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Usborne Naturetrails: Rocks and Fossils by Struan Reid – this is an absolutely brilliant book. It’s got bags of full of colour pictures, and easy to understand information all about rocks. There are fantastic facts boxes and short experiments to enhance understanding. The end section contains a field spotters guide listing the main rocks, minerals and fossils to be seen; plus tips and advice on collecting rocks. It’s a great all round book for junior geologists!

Everything: Rocks and Minerals by National Geographic KidsPacked with facts and anecdotes from experts and bursting with colour photographs, learn all about rocks, minerals, fossils, types of rock, tectonics and gems in this informative and fun educational book from National Geographic Kids.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Rock & Fossil Hunter (DK Eyewitness) by Ben Morgan – this books explains everything you never knew about rocks, fossils, minerals, gems, and shells. There are more than 30 hands-on practical projects to try out at home; start your own rock collection, grow your own gemstones, make a fossil bone, build a sandstone castle, or even create an erupting volcano! Each activity comes with easy step-by-step instructions to help you. This is a great book for learning about the geology of rocks, Earth’s changing landscape, and much more.

My Book of Rocks and Minerals: Things to Find, Collect, and Treasure by Dr Devin Dennie – For children aged 5+, this guide is the ideal starter companion for any child interested in starting their own rock and mineral collection. This is a fantastic introduction to the world of rocks, gems, and minerals. Children will learn all about where rocks and minerals come from, what a fossil is, and how they can go about starting their own rock collection, as well as how to identify any rocks they find.

Rocks and Minerals Sticker Book by Natural History Museum – For children who love activity books, this is full of fun stuff; with colourful stickers, fantastic facts and fun learning pages, this activity book is a great introduction to 100 rocks and minerals from around the world. Written and designed for younger readers, it contains 100 re-useable stickers. There are lots of bite-size facts about what rocks and minerals look like and where they come from; plus exciting puzzles and games, including a colouring in activity and spot the mineral quiz. You can build your own rock world by adding stickers to a colourful double page landscape. This book is ideal for children who want to know more about rocks and minerals.

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillian is something a little bit different than the rock spotter books listed above. This double-sided foldout book takes you on a fascinating journey deep underground. One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city and the reverse side shows the ground beneath the countryside. The underground scenes include tunnels and pipes, creatures’ burrows, layers of rock and the planet’s molten core. Covering subjects such as geology, archaeology and natural history; this expansive concertina book opens out to an impressive 2.5 metres long; perfect for spreading out on the floor to pore over for hours.

Geology is a fascinating science; whether you’re interested in rocks, minerals, fossils or gems, there’s a really great book on this list that can help you learn more. What’s your favourite book about geology?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these five books about science or these six books about space.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co – healthy kids cooking kits

AD/Gifted. The boy and I are keen cooks. We love baking cakes and treats together and he’s started helping out with the occasional evening meal. It can sometimes be hard to come up with something new, exciting and within his skill-set to make or bake. So this week we’ve been trying the Little Cooks Co – healthy kids cooking kits.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

The Little Cooks Co healthy kids cooking kits are monthly subscription boxes delivered to your door. Each one contains an easy to follow baking recipe created by a registered nutritionist; plus all the dry organic ingredients you need to make the recipe, perfectly measured out. Each box also contains an additional recipe for a family meal that kids would love to cook and eat.

The box we received contained the recipe and the ingredients to make Lemon and Poppy Seed Balls. The recipe is described as “zingy energy balls to put a spring in your step”. The box contained all of the dry ingredients, we just had to add lemons, vanilla essence, butter and honey.

The recipe was really easy to follow, though with all recipes, it’s a good idea to read it through at least once before you begin and to get everything you need together. My son is pretty impatient, so I like to be organised before I start any baking or craft with him. The recipe card helpfully lists all the equipment you will need too, so getting organised is a piece of cake.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

The recipe was very easy to follow, I read out the instructions and he did everything he was asked to do. The one thing he wasn’t keen on was shaping the balls by hand, so that’s something I did, but he enjoyed everything else, especially using the food processor.

For me, the Lemon and Poppy Seed Balls were a bit dense for my tastes, but he really enjoyed them and ate three in one go. They’re packed full of good, healthy stuff including walnuts, cashew nuts, dates and poppy seeds – I would never have got him to eat any of those things otherwise!

Previous recipes include strawberry bombs, cinnamon swirls and homemade snickers bars made with natural ingredients. I feel the boxes are good value at £8.99 each. They contain just the right amount of ingredients you need for the recipe, this is great because having to buy a bag of dates, a bag of walnuts and a bag of cashews, as well as all the rest of the ingredients would cost much more than the cost of the box.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

We have definitely been inspired to make something similar in future. I think The Little Cooks Co subscription boxes are a great way to expand our culinary horizons! The boxes cost £8.99 per month including postage (though you can get your first box for just £6.99 using code BOX1 at checkout). For more information, take a look at their website.

Disclosure: We were given a Little Cooks Co subscription box for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

Despite the name, The Castle isn’t actually a castle, but a fine building located close to the beach in Bude, Cornwall. It’s more of a heritage centre than anything else; but one worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of the area.

The Castle was built by and was the home of noted Cornishman, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who was a pioneering engineer and inventor; surgeon, chemist, lecturer, consultant, architect and builder in the Victorian era. In 1830 he set about building a new house in the sand hills of Summerleaze Beach. The house was built on an innovative concrete raft foundation; making it the first building of its kind in the UK. The house still stands today, though it has been extended and converted into the art gallery and heritage centre.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

The Castle is free to enter and contains displays and information about Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, shipwrecks and the history of lifesaving in the area. Battles and the English Civil War, the Bude Canal and Railway and the geology of the area. There is a really interesting display bout the second world war too. I really like that the building is packed full of history, right up to the present day. There’s a lot packed in and it’s a fine way to spend an hour or two.

Downstairs there is a large room dedicated to the history of Bude. I especially liked the display which showed how long it takes for litter and plastics to biodegrade. There are also examples of the geology of North Cornwall and my favourite bit, a selection of artefacts from boats which were wrecked in Bude. There’s also a fascinating display about the life of Archie Jewell who was a local boy who worked as a look-out on the Titanic.

Upstairs is the Cafe Limelight; a lovely cafe with panoramic views from its conservatory towards Bude Canal, the harbour and Summerleaze beach. There’s also a good gift shop and two galleries which host an ever-changing exhibition programme showcasing the talents of local artists and craftspeople.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

It’s a fine place to stop off for a while if you’re visiting Bude. I like to pop in each time I’m in the area for a look around and a cup of coffee in the cafe. It’s obviously a popular hub for local people and the galleries are always worth visiting.

It’s not a castle, so don’t visit with expectations of medieval stonework and tales of kings and queens. What you will find is a good heritage centre full of interesting pieces of local history; a great cafe and a real hub for local artists.

The Castle, Bude is open daily between 10am – 5pm and it’s free to visit. It’s located at The Wharf, Bude, EX23 8LG. For more information, visit their website.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with blackberry sauce

Last year Brockmans Gin asked me to come up with a recipe using gin. Now I’m the kind of girl who will happily slosh a glug of gin into almost any recipe which demands a bit of white wine, so this was an assignment I was very happy to try. After some serious consideration, I decided that a whole Camembert baked with gin, garlic and herbs, served with crusty bread and a fruity sauce which matched the gin would be the way to go, and boy was I right!

The recipe is really simple, and if you don’t fancy making the sauce, then maybe try a dollop or two of cranberry sauce instead.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Ingredients:

1 whole Camembert in a wooden box
Sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tablespoon of Gin, I used Brockmans
Pepper, freshly ground
For the sauce
1 tablespoon of water
100g fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Pepper, freshly ground

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unwrap your Camembert and put back in the wooden box. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of the cheese rind and scatter a crushed clove of garlic, a good amount of thyme leaves and a grind or two of black pepper on top of the cheese. Carefully add your gin and replace the lid. Loosely cover the Camembert in foil and put in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s gone wobbly in the middle.

While your Camembert is baking, put 100g of fresh juicy blackberries in a saucepan. Add the water and sugar and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly until the blackberries have softened and are starting to collapse. At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and the black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar if you need to depending on how sweet your blackberries are. Once cooked, pour into a small dish and leave to cool a little.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Once your Camembert is cooked, carefully take it out of the oven and place the cheese in its wooden box on a platter; garnish with a couple of sprigs of thyme and serve with your warm blackberry sauce and crusty bread. A gin and tonic on the side is entirely optional!

A whole baked Camembert makes for a lovely lunch to share with friends. This gin soaked version is a real treat for a gin lover. Don’t skimp on the crusty bread, it is just what this melty dish of cheese and fruity sauce needs.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this Baked Russet Squire Crusty Bread Bowl I made.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Spring Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

Spring has sprung and there’s nothing nicer than getting out and about with the kids. This week the boy is off school for Easter and we’ve been making the most of the fresh air and sunshine by visiting the local parks and nature reserves. Yesterday we met a couple of his friends for a Spring scavenger hunt in a local park, it was just the thing to keep them engaged and occupied for an hour and they all did really well.

We live by the river and walk the dog down there most days. By the river is a nature reserve and we often see lots of different birds, insects and plants. I’ve tried to keep the Spring Scavenger Hunt quite generic, so you should be able to find most of the bugs, birds and plants in your local park.

Download your free Spring Scavenger Hunt printable here!

Spring Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

I have left room on the printable for children to make notes too. If they spot anything different or noteworthy, they can write all about what they’ve seen in the notes section.

While we were out on our walk we spotted a few things which weren’t on the list. We spotted a couple of bees, some different spring flowers, an assortment of birds and (as this was an urban park) dog poo with sweetcorn in it. I was both grossed out and secretly pleased by their observational skills. We also learned an important lesson about looking where we were putting our feet if we are walking in long grass.

Whatever you do over Easter, whether you’re walking in the park; pond dipping in a nature reserve or walking the dog on the beach; make sure you stay safe. Keep your eyes peeled for all the wonders of nature and watch there you put your feet!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like –

Win a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide

AD/Gifted. The school holidays can be hard to fill with fun stuff. I like to secretly get a small collection of fun stuff to pull out when the mood dips and he complains he’s bored. One of the things in my secret bag of wonders was a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide which he received with a squeal of absolute joy.

The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide by Ned Hartley is published on 2nd May 2019. It costs £7.99 and is a 64 page softback book packed with everything you need to know about Pokemon including reviews, facts, stats and tips.

Win a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer's Guide

The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide is divided into three sections. In the first section, all the classic games are reviewed, from Pokemon Go, to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon and Pokemon: Let’s go Pikachu!

In the second section you can find more facts, figures and fun. With information about the TV shows, movies and the trading card game. Section three is where you can find the complete Pokemon encyclopedia, with entries on all 800+ Pokemon, including strengths, weaknesses and combat skills; in fact everything a Pokemon trainer needs to know!

This is a really comprehensive book about Pokemon. It’s absolutely the kind of book kids like my son adore. Every page is packed with facts and stats and it’s perfect for dipping in and out of.

Win a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer's Guide

The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide is aimed at children aged 7+ and my 8 year old is thoroughly enjoying it. He’s had it for a few days now and he has got a lot out of it. I’m a big fan of letting kids read whatever they are interested in, because pretty much all reading is good.

The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide is colourful, really well illustrated, packed full of Pokemon info and pitched at just the right level. Pokemon is showing no signs of falling out of fashion, and keenly priced at £7.99, The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide is the ideal book to entertain an aspiring Pokemon trainer!

The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide is published in May 2019 and is available for pre-order online now.

If you enjoyed this, you might like to download my FREE Pokemon reading log.

Win a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide

To be in with a chance to win a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide, 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 Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 5th May 2019.
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 shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize 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 a copy of The Ultimate Pokemon Trainer’s Guide for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. 

Toy Review: New Eldrador Creatures from Schleich

AD/Gifted. My son is blessed with a brilliant imagination. He creates whole new worlds with a pencil and a piece of paper and the stories he writes are real flights of fancy. This week his imagination has been fuelled by the new Eldrador Creatures range from Schleich.

Eldrador Creatures are new fantastical creatures who come from the worlds of lava, ice, stone and water. Aimed at 7-12 year olds, these creatures are great for collecting or for playing Dungeons and Dragons style games with. My son has been busy duelling with the Eldrador Creatures for the last few days and he loves them.

Toy Review: New Eldrador Creatures from Schleich

Schleich are one of the leading makers of figurines and are one of the most well-known brands around. Schleich figurines are designed with great attention to detail and are painted and finished by hand. This means they’re not cheap, but they do last.

We were sent four of the seventeen creatures in the collection; the Armoured Turtle (£14.99), Battle Crab (£14.99), Fire Bull (£9.99) and the Ice Spider (£9.99).

Toy Review: New Eldrador Creatures from Schleich

The Armoured Turtle defends the stone world. His opponents think that he is slow, old and cumbersome. But he suddenly spins on his own axis at lightning speed and crashes his massive double club at its enemies. The turtle is beautifully detailed and characterful and a real favourite.

Defending the water world, the Battle Crab is a fighting crab with a slashing claw like weapon. He has a completely turnable upper body. On his six legs, this grim sea-dweller can move lightning fast and catch up with even nimble opponents super quickly.

The fire bull impales his opponents on his pointed glowing horns. The fire bull has a tail of flame, and a single hit will knock out even the most stubborn attacker. Lastly, the Ice Spider has eight eyes so she can keep an eye on several opponents at the same time and fend them off with her fearsome frozen spiders legs.

Toy Review: New Eldrador Creatures from Schleich

What did we think of the new Eldrador Creatures from Schleich? In short, the boy loved them. They’re ideal for people who like fantasy figures and they’re great for fantasy play. They’re well made, with great attention to detail and the movable parts on the turtle and crab make them extra fun to play fight with.

Eldrador Creatures have opened up a whole new world of imaginative play for my son. He’s already asked for all of the other figures in the range for his birthday, which is a sure sign of appreciation.

The Eldrador Creatures range is available from a wide range of retailers including Smyths Toys.

Disclosure: We were sent these Eldrador Creatures for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Now that spring has sprung, the fine weather is making us want to go outside and be in the great outdoors a little more. We don’t mind getting a little adventurous either, so I’ve put together a list of some of the most exciting places for outdoor adventure in Manchester.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Debdale Outdoor Centre, Gorton is a huge outdoor activity centre run by Manchester City Council. It has an exciting range of activities to try, and something for almost everyone. There’s everything from dinghy sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking; power-boating, rock climbing, abseiling, hill walking, gorge scrambling and orienteering.

Venture Out are based in the grounds of Burnage Rugby Club, on the banks of the Mersey in Heaton Mersey, this adventurous holiday club really makes the most if its location. With activities each week that are a mixture of team building, nature handicrafts, outdoor sports, bushcraft, forest school, nature games, canoe trips, there are lots to do for adventurous kids to get stuck into.

Carrington Riding Centre is based just a few miles south west of Manchester in the Mersey valley green belt. Their facilities include one indoor school and four, all-weather, rubber surfaced outdoor floodlit menages with viewing facilities and fully stocked café. During school holidays they offer a range of activities for both children and adults 

Go Ape! Rivington near Bolton is just the place to explore the forest canopy on an exciting treetop rope course. There’s also a thrilling 200 metre long zip wire over the edge of the Rivington reservoir.

Helly Hansen Watersports Centre in Salford Quays is the ultimate urban watersports venue. Choose from a wide range of activities and courses including; sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, raft-building, bell-boating, wake-boarding, Open Water Swimming, power-boating. It’s a cracking venue and great for all the family!

Treasure Trails – for outdoor adventures as a more sedate pace, Treasure Trails maps are available to download. There are all kinds of trails and a large number around Manchester. It’s a great way to find hidden gems wherever you are.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Treetop Trek is in Heaton Park, Manchester and is an aerial adventure completely encased in nets. Visitors aged 3+ can bounce, run, jump and slide in complete safety without the need for a harness. You can read a review here.

We Are Adventurers! Chorlton is a forest school where you can go for holiday clubs or parties. We’ve been several times for parties and woodland adventures. It’s brilliant fun and we all absolutely loved it. You can read our write up here.

Trafford Watersports Centre in Sale Water Park, offers water sports taster sessions where you can try kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing or sailing. Book for lessons or hire kayaks, canoes and katakanus. If you don’t fancy getting wet, there are lovely walks around Sale Water park to be had, as well as fishing, bird watching or other activities.

Geocaching is where a container holding a number of items is hidden at a particular location for GPS users to find. Coordinates are posted on the Internet and geocachers have to seek out the item. It’s great fun and great for all the family. If you want to get involved, google Geocaching in your area.

Those are ten great places to go outdoors in Greater Manchester, lots of different things to do for people of all abilities and fitness levels. What are you waiting for? Go forth and adventure!

If you enjoyed this, you might want to check out these 20 family walks in Manchester.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Win a box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates

I’ve got a delicious box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates to giveaway to one lucky winner. Thorntons Continental Chocolates are a classic and and the box contains a scrumptious selection of chocolate inspired by travels across Europe.

Enjoy chocolates from the selection which includes; Sicilian Mousse, Thorntons Signature, Hazelnut Slice, Seville Caramel, Apricot Danish, Espresso, Salted Caramel Praline, Chocolate Milano, Alpini Praline, Vanille Truffle, Viennese Truffle. They’re perfect for sharing, or not. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Win a box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates

Win a box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates

To be in with a chance to win a box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates, 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 284g box of Thorntons Continental Chocolates.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 5th May 2019.
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 not be shared with anyone else.
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.