Friday, March 6, 2015

Chocolate-Free Easter gift ideas for young children

Easter is now a month away, and I have rounded up some great ideas for kids that do not involve chocolate- and best of all, most of these are handmade or New Zealand made for that extra personal touch.

Easter is getting bigger in New Zealand, but I do not like to give my kids too much chocolate. The boys usually get one big chocolate egg, with some sort of book and toy attached, as well as a personalised letter from the Easter Bunny. Below are some of the items that I have been looking at for this year's Easter Bunny loot.

1. The Royal Doulton Bunnykins 3 Piece Set is a classic for any Kiwi kid, and these items are sure to be used. My youngest son received a Bunnkykins plate and cutlery set for his first Easter, and still uses them. These will last for years, and are a well known gift for new babies at Easter or any time.

2. These adorable Bunny Bibs are handmade and waffle backed, which is fantastic for baby spills!

3. When I saw these Knitted Hot Cross Buns I may have squealed, as they are super cute and would be fantastic for role play. My boys are loving hot cross buns for breakfast at the moment, so these will be a perfect addition to their play food.

4. Every new baby needs a cuddly soft toy, and the My First Peter Rabbit is perfect for a gift that will be appreciated for years to come. I still have my first bunny!

5. With winter approaching, this Babu Bunny Cotton Blanket is both practical and stylish. The soft colours make it ideal for a unisex baby gift, and littlies will enjoy cuddling up with this on the sofa when it is cold outside.

6. Crayons are always popular with toddlers, so why not get some Easter Bunny Crayons for little hands to easily grasp?

7. Books are another staple in our house, and the If I Were The Easter Bunny book has some amazing illustrations as well as a fun story that will be appreciated by children as well as the adults.

8. Lastly, these amazing Fabric Bunnies come in a variety of colours and patterns, and are handmade by the lovely Creative Mama right here in Christchurch.

Any of these options would be an amazing addition to an Easter basket, or perfect for a baby who isn't eating solids yet- although I know for my son's first Easter I didn't mind tasting the chocolate myself.

Which one of these gifts do you like the best? I would love to know what your Easter basket plans are for this year!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WCW Strawberry Lemonade Teacake

I am sure most of you have seen the lemonade, cream and flour scones that are floating around on Pinterest? I decided to take this idea a step further and create a lemonade flavoured teacake, which also includes strawberry jam as well as lemonade.

Strawberry Lemonade Teacake
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup strawberry jam
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup lemonade
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups Chelsea lemon icing sugar (prepared with 2 tablespoons hot water)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder in salt in a large bowl. Place the butter cubs evenly around the mixture, and then rub in with your fingers until the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

In a sperate bowl, heat the jam in the microwave for 20 seconds then allow to cool slightly. Stir in the egg, lemonade and milk.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry mix, and bring together to form a dough.

Shape into a circle, and place on a prepared baking tray. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Allow to cool, then cut into 16 triangles. Drizzle with prepared lemon icing and serve.

This teacake is also delicious warmed up!

Linking up with Time For Mom and Wow Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Autumn Essentials from Ezibuy

I always love getting the Ezibuy catalogues in the mail- flicking through them with a cuppa, I mark each page that has something I like and then make a wishlist.

Today I want to share some Ezibuy items that I think are essentials for the upcoming colder months- and they are all well within my clothing budget.

Ezibuy Essentials for Autumn

The zip fleece is perfect for sports days or school runs in the cooler months, and comes in a variety of colours. I chose Navy as it works with most of my wardrobe.

The grey elbow patch sweater is just a bit different, and grey is a great shade for Autumn paired with jewel colours or a mustard yellow.

Scarf prints are big right now, and this beautiful shell top would look great underneath a blazer for work, or paired with jeans, heels and a pendant necklace for a night out.

I have seen joggers everywhere, and these light grey cargo joggers would be so comfortable for my day to day lifestyle.

I am a sucker for skirts, and this tartan one is fabulous. Paired with a navy jersey and brown knee high boots, you have a perfect autumn outfit.

Lastly, I am still on the hunt for a slim fit pair of boyfriend jeans and these ones might just make the cut. A nice wash, straight leg and not too distressed.

You can check out Ezibuy's new catalogue online, and also stop by Kimba's post on Ezibuy shoes. Also, check out my Ezibuy under $50 post for more budget friendly inspiration!

NB: I was not sponsored to write this post, I just like the new collection from Ezibuy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Nook Roundup- our Favourites!

This month marks the end of my first year with Poppins Book Nook, a virtual book club for children of all age ranges. This experience has been amazing as it is not just about reading some fun books, but having experiences as a family.

Here is a roundup of each theme we have done throughout the year, as well as links to each individual post for further instructions.

Our first month was exploring the world around us, where we made a kiwi snack, a chicken craft and a tuatara!

Next up was Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which saw us take a trip on a steam train as a family.

Folktales was a very fun theme, and we learnt about the real reason the tide goes in and out after reading about taniwhas and the tide.

Winter was well and truly on out doorstep when we had The Great Outdoors theme, so we had a fun week of snow related activities. Our PVA glue snowmen were a huge hit!

The boys made their own parrots when we read about pirates, and we also had a pirate themed dinner.

Things got a bit more serious when I asked Lucas what he would like to be when he grew up. He thought for a while and decided either a policeman or a clown! We ended up looking into what policemen do and had fun creating our own police badge.

By far, the most popular theme for the boys during this round of The Poppins Book Nook was The Wild West. We don't have a desert in the south island of New Zealand, but the boys were fascinated by some photos I showed them of me in the Atacama desert. We also watched some movies about cowboys, made our own Wanted posters, practiced pasta threading and also made some puffy paint.

Beyond Our Planet got the boys thinking about the moon, planet and stars. We invented a new outdoors game, made swirling planets from milk, and explored the phases of the moon with Oreos, as well as making our own starry sky painting using a cheese grater!

The kitchen is a great place for cooking, but we also used this theme to explore science recipes using common kitchen items such as baking soda and vinegar. This was a messy theme but made both boys extremely excited as they love to bake and make things blow up.

The boys also got to do some science experiments involving movement and force for the Poppins Book Nook, which was right up their alley.

Our last theme for this round of the Poppins Book Nook was reading some poetry, and one of our books was all about different types of dogs. Noodle the Poodle was our favourite dog, and so we made our own poodles out of noodles!

I have loved being a part of this round of the Poppins Book Nook, and can't wait to be involved for the next installment!

The themes have just been released, so if this sounds like something you would be interested in participating in, simply come back on the last Monday of each month where there will be a linky provided for you to share your reading creations with the other co-hosts and bloggers.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Checking Out the Zoo

My family and I were lucky enough to spend a day at Orana Wildlife Park a couple of weekends ago to celebrate my nephew's birthday. I haven't been for over a year- my sister had her wedding here but my boys have only seem brief glimpses of the park.

First stop was the new playground and flying fox!

Feeding the giraffes was a real close up experience, as you can tell! I love that this is included in your park entry, although be sure to line up early. It is hard to get a good photo due to the amount of people on the platform, but my giraffe was happy to see me with leaves in my hand.

I love to see the zebras, and I even colour coordinated with them.

The meerkats were cute, and took turns keeping guard high up on a rock. The boys thought they would be bigger in real life, but still said they were cool.

We got right up the front to see the tiger feeding, and the zookeeper was a fantastic spokesperson for how these animals are treated in the wild. It really was an informative speech and we all learnt a few new things about tigers. I remember taking photos with this tiger at my sister's wedding, so it was nice to see that it still likes getting in the water and is so photogenic, even when waiting for the meat to be thrown into the enclosure!

Of course, the zoo is a big day for the littlies, and so someone was tired out at the end of the day!

If you are in Christchurch as a visitor, or live in Christchurch and haven't been to Orana Wildlife Park recently, it is well worth a visit- especially as they have a new baby rhino!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WCW Apple Shortcake Slice

My mum's apple tree has been laden with fruit, so I took some apples off her hands. These apples are best eaten cooked, so I stewed up a big batch and thought I would try my hand at recreating the apple shortcake slice I love from my local coffee shop.

Apple Shortcake Slice

You will need:
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
3 cups self-raising flour
2 cups stewed apples

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350F). Lightly grease a 9x13 rectangle baking tray.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and salt. Beat well.

Fold the flour slowly into the mixture.

Divide the mixture in half and press one half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread with the stewed apples, then roll out the remaining half of the pastry and lay on top of the stewed apples.

Prick some holes in the top layer of pastry and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Leave to cool then cut into squares. You should have a clearly defined layer of apples between two shortcake layers when you cut into your slice.

Serve dusted with icing sugar. This can be eaten cold as a cake for a snack, or heated and served with custard or icecream. My boys loved a slice in their lunchboxes!

Linking up with Tatertots and Jello, Pin Me Linky Party and Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Poodle Poetry

Welcome back to another installment of the Poppins Book Nook!

This month's theme is Poetry!

We had fun looking at a few types of poetry, from prose to nursery rhymes.

One of the books that the boys really liked was Name That Dog.

Lucas thought that Noodle the Poodle was hilarious, and that was one of our favourite poems in the book. Other favourites were Rex, Snickers and Puddles.

We set about creating our own Poodles with fur like noodles. I created cloloured spaghetti by boiling spaghetti as normal then leaving in the water with a splash of white vinegar and food colouring for an hour. I asked the boys what colour they wanted their poodles to be; Lucas choose red and Adam chose green. You can see how we have used coloured spaghetti in the past here.

I printed out two copies of this Printable Poodle Template for the boys to create a paper and spaghetti Noodle the Poodle.

The boys used both their hands and tongs to place some noodles onto the poodle outline after I had covered it in glue. Mini tongs are great for developing the muscles needed for correct pencil grip.

The boys were happy with their finished Poodles and decided to call them Fire and Cucumber- great names for these colourful noodle poodles. 

Click below to see how other members of Poppins Book Nook were inspired!

 Clip art by MelonHeadz.

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