Kids Craft: Make a Super Simple Woolly Sheep Card

A few weeks ago we made a really cute Woolly Sheep Pencil Topper and we were bitten by the sheep crafting bug. This Woolly Sheep Card is really simple to put together and looks very effective. You could send this card for all kinds of occasions, everyone loves a homemade card don’t they?

Our family have a particular affinity with sheep, my name before I married was Woolley and we’ve always had woolly sheep as our unofficial family mascot. This card will be perfect to send to my Woolley relatives!

Kids Craft: Make a Super Simple Woolly Sheep Card

How to make a Super Simple Woolly Sheep Card

You will need:
1 A4 piece of card, whatever colour you want
4 circular cotton wool pads
A small piece of black card for the face
Two googly eyes
A pair of scissors
PVA glue
A black felt tip pen

Kids Craft: Make a Super Simple Woolly Sheep Card

How to make your woolly sheep card:
Fold your coloured piece of card in half. Decide how best to arrange and overlap your cotton wool pads in order to make the body of a cuddly sheep and then using the PVA glue, glue the cotton wool pads onto the card. Leave the glue to dry for a little while.

While the glue is drying, take your black card and draw the shape of a sheep’s head on it. Carefully cut it out. Using glue, stick the googly eyes into place, leave to dry if need be. Using more glue, stick the sheep’s head onto the cotton wool pad body.

Then using the black felt tip pen, draw on two legs below the body of the sheep. Your card is now complete, though you might want to leave the glue to dry before you write your card and pop it in the post!

Who will you send your woolly sheep card to?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these other spring Crafts:

Kids Craft: Make a Super Simple Woolly Sheep Card

Children’s Books: Five Terrific Books about Turtles

Today (23rd May) is World Turtle Day, and a day of celebration of the turtle. For World Turtle Day we are asked to think about what we can do to help turtles and tortoises survive and thrive. What can we do to keep their habitat healthy? Of course, one of the biggest answers is reduce the amount of throw away plastics we use. I’ve picked out five books about turtles where you can find out more about these remarkable and quirky creatures.

Children's Books: Five Terrific Books about Turtles

Five Terrific Books about Turtles

National Geographic Kids – Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue: All About Sea Turtles and How to Save Them by Karen Romano Young is a brilliant book to start exploring the world of sea turtles. This introduction to sea turtles is packed full of in-depth information about their habitats, challenges, and conservation successes. Plus ideas for what kids can do to help save these amazing endangered creatures. 

Turtles and Tortoises – What’s the Difference? by Lisa M Herrington explores the difference between turtles and tortoises. They’re both reptiles. They both have shells and move fairly slowly. So how do you tell the difference between turtles and tortoises? This is a lovely book for pre-schoolers and is filled with handy  identification clues to help you learn the difference between turtles and tortoises.

The Coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jenny Webber celebrates the beauty, diversity and fragile ecosystem of the coral reef. This visually stunning picture book has a strong ecological message about the need to protect this most precious environment. Follow and explore the life cycle, diversity and colour of the coral reef ecosystem; learn about the threats the reef faces and what we can do to save it. Each beautifully illustrated page is packed full of delightful sea creatures to discover and enjoy. A beautiful book with a powerful message.

The Sandman and the Turtles by Michael Morpurgo. The Sandman and the Turtles is a fantastic summer read for children from acclaimed children’s author, Michael Morpurgo. The story tells the tale of Dadci and his tall stories about the Sandman, the old Russian sea captain and blood-red dragon in his lair. His little cousin Polly believes every word of the magical tales and she’s determined to make it all come true. It’s a lovely story for children ages 7-11 and a real page turner!

Aesop’s Fables the Hare and the Tortoise by Miles Kelly. No round up of books about turtles and tortoises is complete without a mention of this classic story. The Hare and the Tortoise is the tale of a too speedy hare who takes on the slow but steady tortoise in a race, a story which showcases the benefits of persistence, resilience and just getting on with the job. More haste, less speed!

If you enjoyed this book selection, you might also like these five books about the environment.

Children's Books: Five Terrific Books about Turtles

This post contains affiliate links.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

We are big fans of Adventure Golf, we always try to play a round when we can. Last year we went to Bents Garden and Home to play their Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf. This week we visited again, they’ve recently extended the dinosaur golf to include nine extra holes of pirate golf, this we had to see!

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

Bents Home and Garden is a huge garden centre with lots of things to do. To get to the Adventure Golf you need to head through the garden centre and go outside, go left when you get outside and you should see the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf shop building. Go in, pay and collect your club and ball as well as your score card.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The dino golf was originally just 9 holes, with the pirate extension it doubles the number of holes to 18. The first 9 are dino, the last 9 are pirate. I think the dino holes of the adventure golf at Bents have been re-jigged a little to freshen them up. The dinosaurs were epic, they’re so well done, some of them move and roar and even though we’d seen them before we were all so impressed.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The pirate extension was very well done, it moves from a dino landscape into a water filled pirate world. There’s a big pirate ship which they’ve incorporated into the course, as well as a whale, crocodile and a host of pirates, some of which looked quite familiar.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The pirate golf is very well done. Each hole is reasonably tricky, without being too hard. My 7 year old had the most fun playing all 18 holes of Adventure Golf. I liked the little details; like incorporating the pirate ship into the play and having to putt the ball into a hole in the whale’s mouth.

If I had to find something to criticize; it would be good if they had a sign suggesting what a good par would be (the ideal number of shots for each hole); just so you know how well, or not so well you’re doing.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

Depending on how busy it is, the course should occupy the family for around an hour.  There’s also a small shop where you can buy dino and pirate themed toys, most of which are inexpensive. Outside there’s a playground near the cafe where the kids can play while you have a drink.

The Adventure Golf costs £21 for two adults and two children. Information about their opening times and prices can be found on their website.

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Bents Garden and Home and we were not asked to pay for our golfing session, though we have paid previously and would do again.

Star Wars Toys: Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection

This month sees the much anticipated release of the latest Star Wars installment – Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film tells the story of how a young Han Solo met his future co-pilot Chewbacca. Fans can celebrate the release of the movie with Posh Paw’s collection of Chewbacca (and other) Star Wars soft toys. I’ve been lucky enough to get my paws on some of the new collection ahead of their release to the general public. Meet the Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection.

Star Wars Toys: Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection

Chewbacca is one of my favourite characters, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this larger than life Wookie. The 1o inch tall Chewbacca soft toy is super-fluffy and would make the perfect present for any Jedi fan. His facial hair is a little unruly, but some grooming would get him looking as well-kempt as in the films. He costs around £14.99 and is available in toy shops and on Amazon.

I loved the 8 inch Chewbacca and Yoda figures, Chewy is just as fluffy as he should be and Yoda has a real attitude which is as it should be. These 8 inch Star Wars soft toys cost £9.99 each and are really collectible. I could definitely see a shelf of these heroic cuties in my son’s bedroom!

Star Wars Toys: Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection

Lastly there is the range of Star Wars soft and squishy bag clips to collect. We got our paws on Chewbacca and R2:D2 and they’re just the thing to help personalise my son’s school bag.

Each of these soft toys is also available as other Star Wars characters including; Stormtroopers, Yoda, Porgs and Darth Vader. They’re all suitable for ages 2+, but I’m going to have a hard time sharing them with any children. I think I’ll be keeping the 10 inch Chewy and the 8 inch Yoda for myself. That’s fair isn’t it?

Star Wars Toys: Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection

Disclosure: We were sent this selection of Posh Paws Star Wars soft toys for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Father’s Day Gifts: A hamper fit for a barbecue king!

With Father’s Day being in June, it’s a bit of a tradition for us to mark the occasion with a barbecue in the sunshine. The whole family come together, grill some meat, eat huge salads and just hang out together. It’s a lovely relaxed way to spend the day in celebration of the Dads in the family. This year, in a nod to family tradition I’ve ordered an Australian Indulgence hamper for my other half.

The Australian Indulgence hamper is described as “the ultimate hamper for Aussie food lovers”; or just a great thing to bring along to a barbecue. The hamper includes all the things you’d associate with Australia – a jar of Vegemite, a packet of Tim Tams, some Australian Red and White Wine, Bundaberg drinks, a Cherry Ripe bar, Arnotts barbecue shapes, caramelised onion chutney, and of course a bottle of barbecue Sauce.

Father's Day Gifts: A hamper fit for a barbecue king!

The hamper comes in an open wicker gift basket which is a handy thing to have once you’ve finished all the goodies inside. Delivery was free and you can choose next or named day delivery too. I always like it when I can choose the delivery date. You can add a gift message too.

We’ve ordered ours early and it’s been put away ready for Father’s Day. The boy will be making a nice gift card of his own to go with it and I need to pop to the butchers and order some sausages; but otherwise that’s Father’s Day pretty much sorted in one lovely hamper!

The products in this Australian Indulgence Hamper are really recognisable; especially if you’ve been brought up on a TV diet of Home and Away and Neighbours.

Father's Day Gifts: A hamper fit for a barbecue king!

We’ve had a few different hampers before, what I liked about this was it was most definitely a hamper and not just a cardboard box of stuff. Everything was well chosen and I know he will really enjoy the contents. My other half literally has everything he could ever want or need. These days we tend to buy food and drink gifts for him and this really hits the mark.

This hamper cost £79 but hamper.com have a really good range of Father”s Day hampers from £25 and to suit all kinds of tastes. Personally I’d be very happy with the whisky and cheese hamper, but I guess I’ll have to drop some hints closer to my birthday.

I know this Australian Indulgence Hamper will go down a storm at our Father’s Day barbecue; with wine and Tim Tams for pudding how could it not?

What are you doing for Father’s Day? What kid of hamper would your Dad enjoy?

Disclosure: We were sent this hamper for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

STEM Toys: Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure Range

Living next door to a nature reserve we often find we have unexpected visitors in our garden. We try to do our bit to encourage and support wildlife and we’re always on the lookout for interesting birds or insects to learn more about. Brainstorm Toys have recently launched an Outdoor Adventure range designed especially for junior explorers. We put a few of them to the test.

Toy Review: Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure Range

The Outdoor Adventure Magnifier is a handheld 2x-3x-4x magnifier which is ideal for on-the-go explorations, field trips and outdoor adventures. We put it to the test in our garden, taking a closer look at some plants and flowers and having a good look at some tiny aphids we found feasting on my rose bush. The magnifying glass is a pretty essential bit of kit and has so many uses. It costs around £12.99 and although that may seem a little pricey, it’s much better quality than cheaper kids magnifying glasses.

STEM Toys: Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure Range

The Outdoor Adventure Binoculars were a real hit. They are pocket-sized and light weight and have 4x magnification; 30mm glass lenses and they have a break-away lanyard for safety. We especially liked the built-in compass on the top, which helped us to talk in greater depth about navigation skills and North – South – East – West (or Never Eat Shredded Wheat as we’ve been teaching him).

He sat for some time in the garden listening out for birds and looking to see them in the trees. We will definitely be taking these on holiday with us, he will really enjoy nature hunts in the woods! These Outdoor Adventure Binoculars are an ideal first pair of binoculars for children and cost around £9.99. A solid investment for nature loving kids!

STEM Toys: Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure Range

Lastly we tried the Outdoor Adventure Night Vision Torch. The night vision torch has a bright red LED light which works with your natural adapted night vision to help you see more easily in the dark. It’s perfect for night hikes and map reading and would be great for taking on camping trips.

Unfortunately once we’d set it up and put batteries in it, it got dropped and we can’t get it to work again. So it remains untested, which is a shame because my son was super-excited to take it camping with us in a few weeks.

Despite dropping the night vision torch, we’ve had lots of fun with the Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure range. We will definitely be packing the magnifier and binoculars to take camping in the woods with us later this year. If you’ve got nature loving little ones, these Outdoor Adventure products are well worth a try.

For more information about the Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure range, visit their website.

Disclosure: We were sent some items from the Brainstorm Outdoor Adventure Range for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links.

Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

Last week I made a really, really lovely lemon and elderflower gin meringue pie and I had a little bit of the lemon filling left over. Usually I save this to spoon over ice cream, but as I was in a baking mood, I thought I’d make some Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes. My son who loves to bake got in on the action too, so he can vouch that they’re great to bake with kids.

If you don’t happen to have some lemon and elderflower gin meringue pie filling left over, you could use some lemon curd instead. If you opt for the lemon curd option, but feel you’re missing out on the elderflower gin, you could always pour yourself a refreshing Lakes Distillery gin to have on the side.

Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

I would normally ice my cupcakes with a buttercream swirl, but I had a squeezy pouch of Cake Angels Zingy Lemon Frosting in the cupboard, so I thought I’d use that. I thought it would swirl like buttercream, but I couldn’t get it to pipe the way I wanted it to. In the end I put enough frosting on each of the lemon and elderflower surprise cupcakes to cover the top and let in run so it was more of a glaze than a cupcake topping. If you don’t have this, I think these cupcakes would be lovely with a lemon drizzle topping.

Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

To make the cupcakes, I used my fail-safe sponge recipe which worked an absolute treat. The recipe is enough for 12 good-sized cupcakes. Here’s how we did it.

Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

Ingredients:
150 g caster sugar
150 g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tbsp milk
150 g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder

Leftover Lemon and Elderflower Gin Meringue Pie filling  – or – half a jar of lemon curd

Cake Angels Zingy Lemon Frosting – or – lemon drizzle icing

Method:
Heat your fan oven to 190c. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and combine. Add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Put 12 cupcake cases in a muffin or bun tin, divide the mixture generously between the 12 cases and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Once bakes, remove and leave them to cool.

Once cool, using a sharp knife cut a deep circle out of the top of the cake, remove the circle and fill the hole with leftover lemon and elderflower gin meringue pie filling or lemon curd. Cut some of the cake off the cupcake lid and put the lid back on top of your cupcake.

Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

Cover with the Cake Angels Zingy Lemon Frosting or a spoon or two of the lemon drizzle icing if you’re using that. Leave to set and then serve with a nice cup of tea, or a large G&T.

Oh, and the surprise? The lovely, slightly runny lemony loveliness in the middle of the cupcake.

Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

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Recipe: Lemon and Elderflower Surprise Cupcakes

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

A few weeks ago we were sent an Aquabeads Deluxe Studio to craft with. As you know I love crafting. I was interested to see what the Aquabeads would be like to craft with. I’m a firm believer in getting to grips with the basics of a craft before letting my imagination run wild with things; so I sat down and followed the instructions faithfully. I made some lovely Aquabeads hanging decorations using the templates in the Aquabeads Deluxe Studio.

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

The Aquabeads Deluxe Studio costs £29.99 and contains everything you need to get started with Aquabeads crafts including 1300 jewel and solid beads in 24 colours. The set includes a tool case with bead palette; 1 bead peeler, 5 easy trays in a range of shapes, a rainbow bead pen so you can arrange your beads easily and a sprayer to set them. The instruction booklet is really useful and worth reading a couple of times before you get started.

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

I began by unpacking the whole set and filling the bead tray with the beads included. You can buy extra beads if you need to, but there are plenty of beads included to get you started. It’s quite simple to use, it’s be designed to be used by children, so it should be within my capabilities.

I decided to start with the star shaped easy tray, which I just filled with coloured beads using the rainbow bead pen. This was really quick and easy to use and I completed the star within a couple of minutes. I sprayed it liberally with water and left it to set and dry. The instructions say to leave it for an hour to set. It was still a bit sticky so I left it a while longer before removing it from the tray.

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

I then used one of the templates to make a crown, which seemed quite topical since it’s the Royal Wedding this coming weekend. I used some of the jewel beads in the crown and they’re lovely. The light shines through them and they’d be perfect to use in sun-catchers and Christmas crafts. The easy peeler makes it so easy to remove the beads from the board.

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

I wasn’t sure what to do with my finished creations; but I liked the way the light shone through the jewel beads, so I decided to make them into Aquabeads hanging decorations. This is really simple to do, all you need is a needle and thread. The beads don’t all melt together and there are small gaps between them where you can thread a fine needle through.

To turn my Aquabeads creations into hanging decorations, all I did was thread a needle and cotton through the topmost gap and knot the ends of the thread together. It’s as simple as that really.

Kids Crafts: Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

I enjoyed playing about with the Aquabeads Deluxe Studio set and getting to grips with it. I will definitely be putting together some more Aquabeads crafts, so watch this space!

Kids Crafts: Simple Aquabeads Hanging Decorations

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try making these button decorations.

Disclosure: We were sent the Aquabeads Deluxe Studio to craft with in exchange for this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

Children’s Books: Five brilliant books about dragons

Dragons are one of our favourite mythical beasts. Some are scary, some are friendly, some are just plain misunderstood. From George and the Dragon to Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback from Harry Potter, dragons have long been a feature in songs, stories and fairy tales. A few weeks ago we made our own egg box dragon, and it’s had us reading more about dragons at bedtime.

We’ve picked out five brilliant books about dragons which we enjoy and you might too.

Five brilliant books about dragons

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently, illustrated by the wonderful Helen Oxenbury. King Jack and the Dragon is a magical, rhyming bedtime picture book featuring the heroic King Jack and his band of faithful knights. It’s  a great story of camaraderie, den building and fighting dragons, the perfect dragon story for the under 5’s.

Children's Books: Five brilliant books about dragons

Zog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler is the story of Zog, the keenest dragon in school. He’s also the most accident-prone. Thankfully, a mysterious little girl always comes by and patches up his bumps and bruises and helps him along the way. But will she be able to help him with his toughest test yet – capturing a real princess?

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is a book for slightly older primary aged children. It’s the story of a young girl named Minli who lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. Her father tells her the story of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man in the Moon. Inspired by these stories, Minli spends one of her precious copper pennies on a beautiful goldfish, which brings about a change in the fortune of the owner. Minli is eventually joined by a dragon who can’t fly; together they set out to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him to fulfill their dreams. It’s a wonderful story for 9-12 year olds.

The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame is the classic retelling of the St George and the Dragon story from the author of The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame. Everyone knows St George has to do battle with the dragon, but what happens when the dragon simply doesn’t want to fight St George? A lovely story for dragon fans aged 8 and over.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell is the hilarious books which inspired the film – How to Train Your Dragon. Suitable for readers aged 9+; How to train Your Dragon is the  story of Hiccup, a fairly ordinary boy who must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be banished from the tribe forever! Can Hiccup save the tribe – and become a Hero?

There are dragon stories for all ages here and lots to spark little imaginations. Who is your favourite dragon? Have I missed any seriously special dragon stories?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like our five books about dinosaurs or five books about bears.

Children's Books: Five brilliant books about dragons

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

When we moved into our house in 2011, one of the things I loved the most about it was our open fire. It’s such a cosy feature and we love to sit round it in the winter; we sometimes even toast marshmallows on it. Most of our friends have had log burners or open fires put into their homes, so talking about how to store logs and season them is a surprisingly regular topic of conversation.

Our open fire is a relatively cheap source of heat. We get most of our logs from a gardener friend and all we need to do is season them before they’re put on the fire. Seasoning wood just means you need to dry it out. You don’t need to do anything more exciting to it than chop it up into the size you need, stack it up somewhere to dry out and then leave it for around two years. The amount of time you need to leave it depends on the kind of wood it is, but two years is a decent length of time.

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

For the last seven years our wood has been stacked up in a small shed which came with the house. About a year ago the roof collapsed and the sides rotted and so it was time for a new place to store logs while they dried. We were keen to get something specifically designed to store logs, something which would allow the air to circulate around the wood and dry it out, whilst looking neat and tidy too.

When you’re buying a log store of your own, it’s important to make sure it has slatted sides and a raised slatted floor to allow the air to flow freely through the log pile. Good dry wood will give you a higher heat output and the wood will leave less tar and residue in your stove or chimney. We get our chimney swept every year and our sweep always compliments us on the lack of tar build up. If you burn wood which isn’t dry enough, the build up of tar could be a fire hazard. The tar could also make your chimney or log burner smoke inside the house, which isn’t great either.

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

We’ve replaced our rotten old shed with a lovely solidly built log store. It’s from Gardensite and is made in Dorset from Swedish Redwood. The log store is guaranteed against rot for 15 years. We opted for the Melbury log store, it’s a nice classic design which would look unobtrusive in the garden. You can choose to have it delivered ready made, or flat-packed. We chose the flat-pack option and it took less than half an hour to put together.

We’ve put ours in our side yard and it takes up less space than the old shed, but somehow manages to hold more wood. We have given the log store a couple of treatments with creosote; we will make sure to treat it regularly to keep the wood in good condition. I am so pleased with the quality of the log store, we’ve already filled it with logs to dry out for this winter.

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

Once our wood has been seasoned for at least two years, it is ready to burn. What we do is we have two baskets for wood in the house; one by the fire ready for burning and one in the pantry, so it gets to dry out inside the house a little more before burning. We know this two basket arrangement isn’t really necessary, but it does mean that if it’s raining there is extra wood in the house and no-one needs to get rained on to fill a basket.

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

  • Stack logs neatly making sure they are raised off the ground a little.
  • Make sure air can flow in and out of your log pile, a log store with slatted sides is ideal for this.
  • Locate your log store in a sheltered spot, somewhere out of the wind and sheltered from the elements a little.
  • Think ahead. You can either buy seasoned or unseasoned wood. If you’re buying unseasoned wood, you will need to store it and season it yourself for a couple of years. Seasoned wood will still need to be stored appropriately to stop it getting too wet again.

If you’ve got a log burner or an open fire, it’s important to put some thought into where and how you will store and season your logs ready for winter. Where do you store your logs and kindling?

How to store logs and keep them dry for winter

Disclosure: We were sent the Melbury log store from Gardensite for inclusion in this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.