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.

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual MayhemPreschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Boohoo Fit- Fashionable Fitness

I always find it easier to exercise if I am inspired by my workout clothes, and so when I saw the new Boohoo Fit range I was very excited to see what they had to offer.

Mystery Case is also hosting the Fit Fashion Finds challenge, so this was a perfect opportunity to take part in her challenge and try out some new exercise gear at the same time!

My main needs for workout fashion are coverage, stretch and compatiblity with all types of weather. I quite often run outdoors, so layering pieces in fabrics that will keep me warm or cool are a must.

I decided to try out the Vicky Zip Through Bomber (on sale now!) and matching Loren Sports Legging.

The best time for me to test these out was during a run and stretch at a nearby park. I am just getting back into exercise after surgery, and so I need to take it easy.

These leggings are perfect for light workouts. They keep my lower half cool and do not constrict my movements. The panel adds enough interest without being boring or too over the top, and the shades of blue look great and go with my existing workout gear.

This jacket goes well with the Loren Boohoo Fit leggings, but also works well with jeans or black pants as an extra layer to wear in the cooler weather. The sleeves and body of the jacket are the perfect length for me, and it keeps me warm without being too heavy. It wears well, and I can put it in my bag to pull out after a workout without worrying about it wrinkling.

Isn't this print fun?

It is pretty hard to get a good photo of me running, but these leggings were perfect for the slightly overcast day. The move with my body and do not give me a muffin top or cause me to wriggle around every five minutes trying to get comfortable.

After a run, it is back on with the Vicky Jacket. I love matchy matchy items, so this is my happy place!

The wide waistband on the Loren Print Leggings means that I get a comfortable fit, and it keeps my tummy at bay!

These items are so comfortable that I could stay in them all day. They fit my body so well, and when I do take them off they wash beautifully. I have washed these leggings three times since I got them and they have had no colour fade at all.

I am wearing a generic workout top in these shoots, as when I first looked at the Boohoo Fit range they only had crop tops or racerback tops, both of which are not my cup of tea when working out. However, I see that they now have a Breathable Sports T-Shirt, so I know what my next purchase is!

If you love Fit Fashion Finds, be sure to check out the Boohoo Fit range as they are affordable, fashionable and functional.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WCW Berry Mallow Tarts

I have been on a real berry kick lately, and so this week's recipe once again features a delicious berry treat.

I put together these Berry Mallow Tarts in five minutes (plus chilling time) and everyone loved them at a family get together in the weekend.

The base of this tart uses premade tart cases, available in the bakery section or with the bread products in your local supermarket. You could make your own but this dessert is all about a quick and easy nibble for when you are in a rush!

To make a quick an easy tart, perfect for potlucks or a shared dessert, you will need:

24 readymade short pastry cases
250g cream cheese
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup The Dollop Kitchen Raspberry & Boysenberry Compote
2 bags marshmallows

Beat together the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and compote until thick and creamy. Place in the fridge and leave to set for at least 2 hours.

Once the mixture is chilled, spoon into the pastry cases.

Top with a marshmallow, alternating white and pink to create a pretty display!

These can be chilled until ready to serve- if served at room temperature the mixture will become runnier but still delicious. 

Linking up with kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Folkloric Fashion for Autumn

One of the big trends coming up for Autumn is Folklore- think fur coats, tapestry inspired jackets, flared pants, blanket cardigans and coats, maxi dresses, winter shorts and floaty blouses.

I can't see myself in some of these items, but it is definitely a trend that I will have some fun with as the days transition from cool, to warm, then cool again.

One of the best things about this trend is the materials. The combination of soft and heavy fabrics such as silk, fur, chiffon and wool can be very versatile for layering. This comes in handy when the days start out chilly and then the sun breaks through at 10am.

Here is an outfit I put together to take advantage of the trend, featuring a sheer blouse, fun tapestry jacket and flared jeans. Some pink accents in the necklace, shoes and handbag keep the jacket from overpowering the look, and I am loving soft pink and navy together at the moment!

Folkloric Fashion

This outfit can take me from school run to coffee dates and then to a craft evening, as the top layer could be easily removed from this outfit and you will still have a polished look. The cardigan fits the tapestry trend without being too over the top, and this particular style of flared jean is wonderful for those of us who are a bit shorter as the flare isn't too dramatic.

Do you have any folklore inspired items on your wishlist for Autumn?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Virtual Book Club For Kids (Dr Seuss)

Today's blog post is all about my favourite Dr Seuss book in conjunction with The Virtual Kids Book Club!

My boys love reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and all of the animals mentioned within the different pages.

Of course, one of the main characters is a fish, and so my 5 year old crated some handprint fish art. We painted some cardstock with blue paint, then put our hands into red paint and stamped them down to create two fish. Lucas thought it would be a good idea to add some seaweed and bubbles too!

We also had a yummy fish inspired lunch! I cut a circle and a shape out of bread, then layered with ham and cheese. I used a mini marshmallow and a raisin for the eye, and grapes for the mouth. Some cheese tubes became bubbles.

Be sure to visit the Virtual Kids Book Club Facebook page to see how others have been inspired by Dr Seuss.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shaking up my Skincare Routine

I recently came across a new range of skincare products that didn't irritate my skin, which in itself is a miracle!

The Sensé skincare range is clinically proven to increase skin elasticity, decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve texture, and boost skin’s moisture content.

As someone who suffers from dry and sensitive skin, I couldn't wait to get started. I started off using the following products:
This is my skin, makeup free first thing in the morning, before I started using these four products.

I did skip a couple of days due to hospital stays, holidays and life in general- I am the first to admit I don't always wash my makeup off at night (eep!).

The products themselves smell amazing, and aren't greasy. The cleanser is so easy to use, and while I am used to a less gloopy toner, I feel that using a thicker toner has helped to apply it properly.

After a month, here is my skin makeup free in the morning.

I have noticed a huge difference in the fine lines under my eyes, and my cheek redness is a lot less noticeable. The lines around my mouth are also less pronounced.

Here is a before and after side by side so that you can see a difference.

I will definitely continue to use these products as now that I am in my thirties I need to start taking care of my face. These products are affordable and they work for my skin- well worth a try if you are concerned about dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.

I purchased these products from Nathan, and at the moment any customers who purchase through him will be given a free sample of a brand new whole foods nutritional bar.
Nathan Macgregor
USANA Independent Associate

NB: I was not compensated in any way for this review- I purchased the products at normal price and reviewed them simply to share with my readers. I am not, nor have I ever been, a USANA rep. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WCW Berry Parfaits and Valentine Recipe Ideas

Valentines Day is this weekend, and I have the perfect dessert to make for your loved ones or even the whole family! These Berry Parfaits are simple to make yet taste delicious- and scroll down for six more delicious Valentines Day recipe ideas!

You will need:
  • 85 gram pack boysenberry jelly crystals
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 cup natural unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1 cup berry sauce (I used Dollop Berry Compote)
  • extra unsweetened yoghurt for topping
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Pascall Berry Swirl marshmallows
Stir the jelly crystals and boiling water together until dissolved. Add the cold water. Refrigerate until the jelly begins to set and is slightly thickened.

Whisk in the yoghurt until smooth. Divide amongst 4 parfait glasses. Refrigerate until firm.

Top with extra yoghurt, blueberries, berry sauce and marshmallows.

The boys were very impressed with their parfaits, and the addition of the yoghurt to the jelly makes a decadent, creamy dessert.

I would love to know if you are planning a special Valentines Day dessert! Here are some suggestions for other recipes you might like to try.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Batman Birthday Party

My son celebrated his 5th birthday party recently with a Batman themed birthday party. Originally Lucas wanted a generic superheroes theme, but we narrowed it down to just Batman in order to keep my stress levels down!

First up was creating the Batman invitations. You can read the full process for making these invitations here.

My cupcakes were going to be decorated with bat sprinkles, but unfortunately these were out of stock so I had to make do with plain black sprinkles. I made the cupcake wrappers myself using black cardstock and the Cricut- they say Happy Birthday.

The food consisted of these cupcakes, fresh pineapple, ham and cheese toasted sandwiches, yellow jellybeans (purchased in bulk from The Lolly Shop), peanut butter truffles rolled in yellow sprinkles, batman cookies (using this cookie cutter) and Cheerio sausages, because my husband tells me it isn't a party without Cheerios.

For the tableware I went with yellow and black, as a lot of the specific Batman items were the new grey and blue style and Lucas really wanted lots of black. I used a plain black tableclothyellow paper cupsyellow platesblack napkins and some black treat cups.

We even had a special appearance from Batman himself! My Dad is always dressing up in costumes so this was brilliant, and all of the little boys were so excited.

We played a fun game outside to get the kids moving called Musical Superhero Sounds. I printed these printable comic bubbles to A4 size and laminated them, then laid them out on the ground. We played some music, and when the music ended each child had to jump on one of the sounds. I removed a sound each time, and so a child would get "out" each round. The game ended when only one child jumped on the remaining comic bubble.

It wouldn't be a birthday without a cake! I used my tried and true chocolate cake recipe, and spread the cake with yellow icing. I made the topper at a Superhero Themed workshop, which worked out perfectly!

Lucas was very excited to see his Batman cake, and blew out his back candles.

All in all, we had a great Batman themed birthday party and Lucas really enjoyed the games, food and cake. Now to think about next year's birthday theme!

Linking up with Pin Me Party and Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons!
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