Easy Vegan Honey

I’ve not posted in my blog for a few months. We’ve had a difficult start to the year and it’s been difficult to find words for anything. Then along came corona virus and lockdown. Schools are shut and we’re all forced into home educating our children. I don’t know about your house but mine is chaos. Kids aren’t doing nearly as much work as I’d like them to but I’m not in the best place to chow at them to make them do it right now.

As a result we’re still learning but just not always the stuff on the curriculum. It’s fun and impulsive and right now it’s exactly what we need.

We had a garden full of dandelions which led to some discussion with Toby (4) about the flowers and bees. He asked if people could eat them and that’s how we came to try dandelion honey!

Dandelions are really nutritious and versatile. They contain lots of vitamins and minerals. It is thought that they can help reduce inflammation and aid blood sugar control. It is also suggested that it could reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. There are lots of studies that have shown many positives of dandelion consumption but I’m not here to tell you they will or won’t help fight one disease or another.

Back to the honey, it’s delicious. It has a slight floral flavour but it’s not overpowering. It tastes surprisingly like regular honey.

The littlies love picking the flowers, it’s even better because we know where they’ve grown and that we’ve never exposed them to any chemicals so they’re completely chemical free. Toby is currently in foundation so we use activities like these to practise counting and to discuss the importance of flowers, nectar, bees etc.

Toby had great fun stirring the mixture and weighing out the many different items in the kitchen that he could find.

After we had made it (it took around 14 hours as you start it in the evening and then leave it to infuse overnight. But there’s nothing overly tricky. Toby had some honey on bread for his lunch and enjoyed every bite.

I didn’t realise how dry his bread looked but that’s how he likes it 🤣

I’ve added a recipe card that can be saved if you are interested in trying this recipe too.

Quick Easter/Spring Corner Bookmarks

We’re self isolating at the moment and also home educating all 3 school age children due to the schools closing down. I work in school and I’m now not rota’d in until June which gives me 12 weeks at home to stay away as far away from the rest of the world as I can.

We’re trying to keep it inexpensive, I’m fully aware that so many people are being completely financially destroyed by this virus and it’s made me appreciate even more what we have at the moment.

I like these bookmarks because they’re quick and easy, and hopefully will encourage the kids to read so they can use them.

Here’s how we made them!
Start with squares of paper – your main piece should be around 15cm squared!
Fold the first piece of paper in half bringing two corner points together.
Fold the top corner down to meet the bottom point.
Repeat with the other side.
Open the folds back out.
Fold the top piece of the bottom points up along the creases.
This is what you should have now.
Bring one of your sides back down and tuck inside the fold you just made.
Like this. I
Repeat with the other side. It should look like this.
This is the completed basic corner bookmark. Now you need to turn it into your chosen character, theme, etc.
This one is going to be a chick. We cut and rounded the edges.
Next we drew on the eyes and cut out the basic shapes to stick on to our chick.
Voila! Our finished chick!
A bit of a clearer picture since we made a yellow chick and have a yellow tablecloth 🤣

There are so many different things you could possibly make with yours. We spent about half an hour on this craft and made these.

Toby (4y) started out making a sunflower one. This turned into a monster sunflower. He is very proud and so am I! Of course some help/supervision is required for cutting out but he enjoyed letting his imagination run free.
Kaesey made an Easter bunny which was really simple..
And a spring flower. (Might be better on the other side but will still work this way too).

Fun Easy To Make Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles are so easy to make and can also be super handy for calming down upset children! There’s something super mesmerising about watching the interaction between all the ingredients

The bottles are also really adaptable. Experiment with the amounts, put in plastic toys, feathers, glitters, buttons and so much more!

Here is how we made ours!

You will need:

  • Plastic bottles (you could recycle your own old pop bottles or amazon sell empty bottles reasonably cheap, we got 250ml bottles but you could go bigger).
  • Water beads (easily available on amazon or eBay).
  • Water
  • Baby oil
  • Glitter
Method:

Soak your beads, instructions generally say overnight but you can get away with 3-4 hours!

Pick your colour scheme – I went for an ordered rainbow theme, Zak went for clear beads, Kaesey used purple and blues and Toby just grabbed handfuls if any colour. They all looked amazing!

We filled ours to the brim, we then found you’re better off not filling up completely to allow movement which should increase the calming affect!

Once you’ve added your beads fill up the space that remains with baby oil.

Add any glitter you want and close and seal the lid! Hey presto, easy peasy sensory bottles.

If you wanted to add more interesting items such as buttons leave out some of the beads, or all the beads! There are so many different versions of these that would be effective! Fun to make and use!

Just one warning! Don’t take the tubs of beads into a carpeted room! Just don’t! 😂

Video – Sensory Bottles

Are You Fire Ready?

19 years ago today I suffered one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever lived through. I woke up and found myself in the midst of a building fire. I was 19 and lived in a pub with my mum and 2 of my younger siblings (aged 6 and 4).

The morning of January 13th, 2001 my mum was sat in her office whilst my brother and sister played in another room, she had smelled burning and asked my 6 year old brother to pop upstairs to wake my boyfriend at the time (Mark) to ask him if he could see where the burning smell was coming from. Little did she know she was sending him to end up trapped with us as the fire spread rapidly up the first lot of stairs and engulfed the first floor, then quickly up the second set of stairs to my floor. I tried to get down but was beaten back by smoke. Mark then tried to get down and quickly realised we were now trapped and fighting for our lives.

I phoned 999 and the operator assured me help was already on its way, they’d had several phone calls already. As I hung up the phone and stood at the window there was a man who’d stopped his van and was also on his phone. I’ll never forget his face as he looked up and saw me stood at the window, he tried warning me the pub was on fire, i told him I already knew and that we couldn’t get out. There was a panicked look on his face as he told the person on the other end of the phone. I believe a 999 operater.

Around this time I heard sirens racing up the road behind the pub, the smoke had started entering my bedroom under the door, and from the blown out window underneath mine. We were being choked by thick black acrid smoke. I was screaming and trying to catch a breath of fresh air through the window but I couldn’t. I saw my mum being comforted by a lady from the local corner shop. She was visibly distraught but thankfully had got my 4 year old sister out. She thought she lost us that day.

The fire brigade quickly got a ladder and put it up to the window, unfortunately as I looked out desperate for help I saw they’d gone to the wrong window, they were at the window next door. I could hear the flames licking my door so there was no way we could get into that room. I made eye contact with a firefighter in BA who quickly got back down the ladder and it was quickly moved across to my window. By this point I’d accepted my fate. I accepted that that was how I was going to die. I sat down on the floor and an overwhelming sense of calm came over me. This was it. Then out of nowhere I got one last burst of energy to pull myself up to the window sill, and there was a masked face looking at me telling me to climb out quick. I have never moved as fast as I shot out that window 2 floors up (not bad for someone with a fear of heights), and he carried me down the ladder back into the fresh air. My brother had already been passed out to the second firefighter on the ladder. Mark was still inside shouting me, I shouted I was out and he climbed down above us in bare feet. As soon as my smoke filled lungs started to inhale fresh air again I started to go dizzy, I felt severely nauseous, at that moment I think my body had no idea what was going on. The firefighter ran to a waiting ambulance where I was treated for severe smoke inhalation symptoms. As I looked out the back of the open ambulance doors I watched a ball of fire fly out of one window and get sucked into my window where I’d stood just minutes earlier. I cried out. That would’ve killed me. The fire continued to burn as I was rushed on blue lights and sirens to the hospital.

I was taken to resus where I had blood tests and treatment for smoke inhalation. I was fortunate to be discharged later that day with a warning that I must return if I had any further symptoms. We later found out that thankfully our rescue dog, Lizzy, managed to escape the back door somehow. The back door was open which aided the spread of the fire but also helped our pet escape.

We had a brand new fire alarm system installed the week previous to our fire after ours started with a ‘fault’ which caused it to keep going off. We had the fire brigade out then to check for any hotspots in the walls etc but they found nothing. The same crew came to our actual fire which was later put down to an electrical fault.

It angers me that nowadays we still hear of people that do not have smoke alarms in their homes, especially when most, if not all, fire services will put them in higher risk homes free of charge, and if you don’t qualify for a freebie you can pick them up cheaply.

Don’t put your families lives at risk, have a smoke alarm at least on each floor, more if you can. Make a plan – I couldn’t believe the number of people I knew with children who had never discussed with their family what to do in the event of a fire. Tell your kids what to do, drill into them the escape route, and what to do it that’s blocked, teach them to stay low for cleaner air, tell them not to hide as my 4 year old sister did. You can find lots of fire plan tips on any fire service website – knowledge saves lives.

Be safe and I pray you never have to go through the trauma we did on January 13th, 2001.

Our Santa Special Experience With North Yorkshire Moors Railway

This year our littlest is 4. It’s his first year understanding the whole Santa/Christmas thing and so we wanted to make it a special one. We wanted an amazing experience that he/we would remember. He’s a typical boy – he loves all your stereotypical boy stuff including trains, so we just knew this would be perfect. We booked it at a price of £23pp. The eldest didn’t want to come, and he’s 17 so we didn’t force him.

The elves delivered this letter on the morning of our trip!

We started the day with a delivery from the elves telling Toby he was going on a train ride to meet Santa. This caused so much excitement, he was bouncing happy. We knew straight away this was going to be a good day. We got ready and left. Very early. We’re usually late for everything and we absolutely did not want to miss this.

We arrived an hour before our train was due to leave, we managed to watch the steam engines moving around the platforms getting into position and we saw another ride return that had been out for afternoon tea.

There were lots of staff (volunteers I believe) to help out at the station. We were greeted by several friendly faces who directed us to the refreshments area where we could have a complimentary hot drink, juice, fruit, mince pie and a shot of Irish cream (for the hot chocolate of course).

By the time we’d finished eating/drinking the other guests were starting to arrive, we decided to free up a table and made our way onto the platform to have a look around whilst we awaited our time to get on the train.

We found Santa!
We made orange lollipops – no idea why? When you’re 4 anything goes!

Eventually it was time to take our seats. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed that we were on the back carriage, it was the only seats available by the time I had booked so we took them. I felt that it’d be a little rubbish as we’d be so far away from the engine pulling us. I needn’t have worried though as the train stops halfway through the journey and the engine is turned around to pull it back the other way. So we did the return journey as the first carriage! Winner!

I went off on a tangent there, on the train we were met by Crackers the elf. “Crackers by name , crackers by nature” he said. He wasn’t wrong. His Irish accent was the perfect addition to his character. He was genuinely happy, outgoing and funny, everyone loved him.

Don’t leave your phone lying on the table or Crackers the elf will take lots of selfies (or elfies?)

He had the entire carriage laughing, singing and taking part in games. He picked on our daughter who refused to shout something out after him (she’s 11, a little shy and too grown up now for Santa/Elves, or so she thinks). He named her the grinch for the rest of the journey much to her embarrassment.

The first games he played he chose my partner and another unfortunate dad to take part in a race in our half of the carriage, and two from the other half. They had to race to the middle where Crackers was waiting, doing funny runs and then run back. The whole carriage was in fits of laughter. The game was then repeated with ladies and then children. There was no opportunity to get bored.

The chosen ones!

Santa arrived on our carriage around halfway through our journey. He seemed a genuinely happy guy with friendly, smiley eyes. He happily chatted with the kids and didn’t seem rushed. It was at this point that Toby surprised us by asking for a robot. One thing he doesn’t have. Panic! He sat and posed for pictures before moving on to the next bay. Crackers the elf followed with gifts, which all seem well thought about. No generic selection boxes which you find all too often.

Toby got an emergency vehicle set which he was delighted with, Kaesey (11) got a make your own jewellery set – it came with clay and stampers to shape it and bake it. It was brilliant. Zak (12) got a science kit. It was almost as if the people that chose the gifts knew our kids. We were very pleasantly surprised.

Kaesey with her gift

Once the unwrapping was finished, Crackers came around with some activity packs – these contained things like colouring sheets, pencils etc. By this point we were on our return journey. We played a game of ‘finish the lyrics to the Christmas song’ and then sung along to lots of Christmas songs. It was over before we knew it.

We were all beaming and buzzing from our amazing experience and couldn’t thank the volunteers/staff enough. The attention to detail and event they put on was perfect in every way. I think Toby will talk about it for a long time.

Our journey lasted around 75 minutes altogether

It’s probably too late for any last minute bookings now but if you had considered going but wasn’t sure it would be worth it then I would say go for it! It’s not a cheap day out, but does represent excellent value for money in my opinion, and there’s plenty of time to save for next year!

Paper Plate Christmas Trees With Colour Changing Lights

It’s nearly Christmas (18 days), our favourite time of the year! We love getting crafty and messy. We’re in the middle of decorating the living room at the moment so the telly is off the wall, and everything is piled in the middle of the room meaning no Christmas movies together and no chilling on the sofa with a hot chocolate under a duvet.

Earlier this year we made some chameleons (I’ll do a post about those later) and I had the idea of using the same idea for a Christmas tree with colour changing lights.

I wanted to try it at the school I work in first but couldn’t get hold of paper plates believe it or not so we made them at home!

Here’s how we made them:

Draw a simple Christmas tree design

Poke holes in for lights

This can be done before or after colouring in your tree

Colour away

Colour the lights

We did lots of different colours all over a second paper plate. Toby’s colouring his is in every single colour we have. He also has a moustache and part glasses after the elves drew on him through the night!

Lots of bright colours!

Attach the lights to the back of the tree with a split pin

And spin!! Watch your Christmas tree lights change colour!

Toby was delighted with his tree 🥰

These took us around 20-30 minutes which was perfect for Toby, he’s 4 and hasn’t the greatest attention span so any longer and he’d have soon got bored. You could do much more intricate trees using the same idea which would take longer and be ideal for older kids.

We used double tipped pens – they’re brushes on one end and normal pen tips at the other. I use them for bullet journaling. Paint would probably be good, if not better, but we’re all out for the first time in years! Time to top up.

On that note I’m away shopping now, Merry Christmas 🎄

17 Elf On The Shelf Ideas

We’ve done elf on the shelf now for a couple of years, not the official one but the cheaper mischievous elves! I know only too well how hard it can be to come up with new ideas year after year.

We actually considered making last year the final time, Toby, our youngest, is only 4 and wouldn’t remember, and the older children are now “too grown up” for silly elves that mum and dad obviously move, but they asked if we could carry on for Toby and if they could help. They were very excited about helping to make it magical for him, so continue we have.

The elves arrived this morning with a North Pole breakfast.

We start with a North Pole breakfast and advent calendars. It’s a horrendous amount of sugar which our kids love the look of but in reality the majority of it ended up back in the cupboard to eat later as they couldn’t manage much! I have a few ideas up my sleeve for the next few weeks but here are some of my favourites from the past couple of years.

Chocolate covered Brussels sprouts!

Par boil your sprouts, allow to cool and cover with melted chocolate and sprinkles. You can do much tidier versions than I can but you get the idea!

Photocopier fun!

Make sure you have plenty of ink for this one! Elves having fun with the photocopier is highly entertaining for the kids. It brought giggles in our house.

Elf selfie cookies

How much time do you want to dedicate to elf on a shelf? Ours (over) cooked up some biscuits and decorated them to look like themselves. There are literally loads of recipes to choose from online and lots of tutorials for piping the icing. It’s the first time I’d done anything like this but I don’t think they turned out too horrendously.

Googley eyes!

I don’t think this needs any further explanation.

Target practice.

A packet of toilet rolls and a Nerf fun and you have a quick yet very effective result!

The Christmas tree is pants!

This had to have one of the best reactions from our children, cover your Christmas tree with their pants and socks, leave a note from the elves saying “your tree is pants, it really socks”, or similar.

One for the older ones!

Our elves stole a bottle of beer and they couldn’t handle it! This was the result. Vomit fest. Of course this isn’t for everyone and our kids didn’t really ‘get it’ so it’s probably one for the older ones.

Dry dog biscuits and bad jokes!

Dry dog food angels! Quick and easy.

Ketchup & Squirty cream Santas.

So so quick and easy!! Sure to make the children smile.

There’s snow place like home.

This took two cans of spray snow, I could definitely have used more. It’s one I’ll be repeating this year as we get very little snow here. There’s snow place like home, there’s snow place like home, there’s snow place like home.

Single and ready to Pringle.

Save those empty Pringles tubs for a quick and easy idea! You could also use cereal packets such as Rice Krispies – snap crackle and pop!

I moustache you a question.

There are so many options for this idea – the kids faces, parents faces, elves faces, pen, eyeliner. How far is too far? That depends how naughty your elves are I guess!

Elf smoothies.

This works well if you have a number of elves, failing that let the kids toys join in and help for an alternative.

Face swap!

Pose the elves in a similar style to your children’s photos and replace them. It’s fairly quick and easy and our kids found it hilarious when they realised what the elves had done! I realised after that the top photo wasn’t entirely accurate but it didn’t really matter all that much!

Green elf milk!

Food colouring and milk for a funny elf prank! Our children weren’t sure about green milk on their cereal though so was glad we only did a little bit.

Enviro-friendly elves.

We have tried to reduce our single-use plastic use and we made some eco bricks, the elves helped us one night by stuffing some bottles. Our daughter who had just taken part in a competition in which her and her team raised lots of awareness of the dangers of plastics in the sea was delighted by this.

I’d love to see your favourite elf antics too.

11 Reasons You Need A Husky In Your Life

We have 2 huskies, well maybe 1.5, our first was sold to us as a husky but her face shape slightly differs to our KC registered husky. She obviously has some husky in her but I doubt anywhere near full.

Star was 10 weeks when we saw an advertisement – £150 because we haven’t the time for her. We snapped her up. Spirit joined us just over a year later at 5 months old. He had been bought 3 months earlier by someone who completely underestimated what it would mean raising a husky. She gave him to us free of charge. They would’ve made beautiful pups but we felt that the only reasons we could come up with for breeding were selfish ones so we had them fixed. They bring so much joy, and also some not so much joy into our lives. Here are some reasons you should have a husky in your life.

1. Husky puppies are the cutest

We don’t have any photographs of Spirit before we got him and that makes me a bit sad, but my goodness did Star make up for it. I fell in love with both of them the day I met them.

2. They love kids and vice versa

Our kids absolutely adore our two, and they adore the kids in return. I would never trust a dog 100% but our girly come as close as you could probably get I reckon. Huskies are very sociable and love people in general, anytime we have guests – adults or children, they are first at the door to greet them. Spirit is a little bit more temperamental, his first 5 months he started to rule the house he was living in. He was food aggressive when he came, and wasn’t very pleasant at all but with a bit of tough love he’s an amazing dog now with a bit of an attitude. Our 4 year old bosses him around all the time and there’s not so much as a growl.

3. They take you on the best adventures.

Huskies can go for miles, we like to take ours to new places to go exploring and they never get tired of it. All you have to do is mention the ‘W word’ and they’re howling and running around excited. Whilst we have a 4 year old who cannot keep up, our exploring walks are backed up with longer walks with just my partner as they need a lot of exercise. We also have a large garden for them to run around in. We’ve visited some pretty amazing places in Yorkshire with our pair which I’ll write about another time.

4. smile and the world smiles with you

Huskies like to smile, and it never gets boring walking into a room and seeing them beaming at you. Spirit is often found grinning away and it has my heart every. single. time!

5. they can sleep in any position

One thing I see regularly is huskies sleeping in the funniest positions and ours are no different. I have a whole bunch of pictures of mine asleep because it never fails to make me chuckle. Their characters are just amazing. Here’s a few of mine…

6. they stop the kids getting lazy

When walking with a husky it has become apparent that they will tire the kids out faster than you can tire a husky out. If your kids are as energetic as mine you will know this is a good thing. So get your kids involved in walking the dogs!!

7. they make good neighbourhood watch dogs

If ours could talk they could tell you everything that goes on outside the house. They love to sit in the window and watch the world go by, shouting at any other canine that dares to pass our home. We often get people stopping to admire them through the window which definitely helps the dogs feel even more special and important.

8. free fur forever

Huskies moult twice a year. Hahahaha! I said it with a straight face. I am fairly certain mine moult for around 2 – 3 months each, one after the other after the other after the other after the other. We seem to be in permanent moult mode. Which is fine if you make pram hoods, or want a husky fur duvet (I’m on to something there aren’t I?). As a rule we don’t allow our huskies upstairs, only because that’s where the 4 year old sleeps and we can’t close his bedroom door, but their fur gets EVERYWHERE regardless.

10 minutes of brushing later and we had ourselves a new dog!

9. they never answer back

Okay so that’s a lie, whilst our girl basically does whatever she’s asked our boy likes to push the boundaries. He likes to think he’s in charge and when asked to do something will argue back with you like a teenage boy! He does do as he’s told eventually when he remembers who’s boss in the house though and we just class it as a funny part of his character.

10. you can win any fancy dress competition with a husky

This really needs no explanation!

11. your neighbours will love you

Huskies like to howl, and if you have two of them they like to howl together. Once one starts the other soon follows and it is the most beautiful song in the world. Of course we don’t do this much because we do have neighbours, but you can be sure if there’s a problem in the middle of the night we will all know about it! Luckily we don’t get any complaints (at least to our faces) about ours!

Have I convinced you a husky is for you? Do you have huskies and find any part of my post relatable? I can’t imagine never having ours in our life now.