6 fun or thrifty ideas to keep the kids busy this summer!

As the summer holidays loom ever closer, you’d be forgiven for worrying or not being sure what you and your kids are going to be doing for the entirety of their 6 weeks off.

*Breathe. Breathe. It’ll be ok. It’s only 6 Monday’s…*

I’ve put together 6 simple ideas if you find yourself at a loose end this summer.

Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on the Gin, Wine and Rum. I’m sure stocks run low during the school holidays, it’s best to plan ahead…


Enjoy some sports in the comfort of your own garden or at your local green space…

You don’t have to fork out on expensive equipment or have a garden big enough to fit a full size football pitch in order to enjoy sports at home. Why not head to your local park and practice a bit of golf with an air ball? Why not try booking a local tennis court for an hour or two to find your inner Andy Murray? If you’re lucky enough to have some green space nearby, go old school, use jumpers for goalposts and have a kick about with a picnic after or have a game of Percy Jackson’s Capture the flag? Make sure you have a look on local ‘for sale’ pages for pre-loved sports equipment, or maybe ask to borrow some from a friend? 

If the weather is on your side, the possibilities are endless. And even if it isn’t, why not buy a table tennis net, attach it to your dining table and have a table tennis tournament?!

Bubble popping competitions are also a firm favourite in this house. It’s impossiBUBBLE (see what I did there…) to keep count of how many they have actually popped in a minute but I quite enjoy making it up as I go along and the kids seem happy enough.

 Keeping active is so important for our kids, and hopefully they’ll be so worn out by the end of the day, you’ll be able to put them to bed at 7 and have a well earned drink with your feet up. Forward planning people, forward planning.

Furniture upcycling…

Get the kids a small piece of furniture each, like a cheap stool or a plain pine shelf, and allow them to paint or varnish it themselves. I used to paint shelves all the time as a kid – my poor parents – back in the 90’s when hippy-like Sun, Moon and Stars stuff was in fashion. Very Bohemian. You could maybe order something cheap and cheerful from eBay and get Shiply to deliver it to you if you can’t find anything in a local charity shop or DIY store. You can teach them how to sand the rough edges down and they can choose their own coloured paint. They’ll feel so proud that they helped to make something.

Junior Parkrun…

If you haven’t heard of Parkrun, go take a look! It’s a free event every single weekend in a park near you run by volunteers. The adult Parkrun is 5k every Saturday, and many parks now offer a junior (2k) run on a Sunday too for 4-14 year olds. All you need to do is sign up on the Parkrun website, download your barcodes and off you go. They scan your barcode after crossing the finish line and email you your official time so you can see if you’re improving or just to use to set yourself targets and goals next time you go.

It’s super friendly, free and doesn’t take up too much of your precious weekend.

Find your local Parkrun here!

Take a trip a local farm…

Our family loves going to farms where they can pet and feed the animals. The kids love the play areas they normally have there, seeing the animals and having and, of course, having an ice cream! We like Bockett’s Farm in Surrey (which also has an indoor soft play area should the weather turn) because it has a traditional farm feel with the added bonus of play areas for the kids. We also really love Hobbledown Farm in Epsom, Surrey, which has the most wonderful play areas outside and a brilliant indoor soft play. 

 The entry costs are fairly expensive for these places but you do get a lot for your money and it’s a full day’s worth of fun and entertainment. You can also take a picnic with you to save on the expense.

Get busy in the kitchen…

Find some easy to follow recipes that the kids will love to help make. They could make some pizza dough, and then use that dough later on to make themselves pizza’s for dinner, they could also make some fairy cakes and go mad with the sprinkes and writing icing. If you’re not into baking, why not buy some ready made fairy cakes and decorate those, or even a plain digestive biscuit! You don’t have to be a budding Mary Berry in order to have fun in the kitchen.

During the holidays, making ice cream or lollies at home is also a fun idea and it’s a fab way of sneaking fruit into the kids! Whizz up berries or bananas and see what flavour combinations you can come up with. Coconut milk is a great way of making a creamy ice lolly – and if mummy fancies sneaking a dash of Malibu and some blitzed up passion fruit into her lollies, I can highly recommend it. Pina colada lolly anyone?!

pikachu and emoji biscuits

Cinema afternoon…

If the weather isn’t playing ball and funds are running low, a cinema afternoon at home could be just what you need. Ask the kids to make a seating area or den to sit in to watch the film, draw the curtains to make it dark, get some sweeties, popcorn and make your own slush puppies to enjoy whilst you watch. We have recently indulged in buying an Amazon Firestick along with an Amazon Prime subscription and they have some great films available on there. It’s brilliant!


 What are your favourite things to do at home during the holidays?

As much as I jest, I am looking forward to having the kids home and not having to rush about quite so much.

I hope you all have a happy, and safe, Summer of making memories and having fun together!

 Isle of Skye Seedhead - By Gemma Nuttall


 Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.



The Summer that was… (2016)

So, Autumn is officially here.

The leaves are starting to change colour and fall (yay for crunchy leaf walks, nay for loads of leaves rotting in my garden that I need to pick up and really can’t be arsed with).

As a little memento of our summer, I have compiled some of our photos into a slideshow to look back on.

You don’t have to bore yourself rigid watching it (it’s like when you’re being made to look at someone else’s holidays photos and you have to pretend to be really interested when, in actual fact, you’re wishing for a power cut to make it stop and would rather have a gynecological exam than look at anymore bloody photos…) I just wanted to have a keepsake on my blog to look back on when I am old and wishing I had a toddler who still crapped on my carpet at home. What am I saying, that’ll never happen but you know what I mean. I moan about them (lots) but I do love them, I don’t always like them, but I always love them.

So here’s my Summer 2016 Montage…

It’s only 10 hours long.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

😉

Gems.x




Get your Bake On: Poke Ball Biscuits (Pokemon Go!)

Get your Bake On: Poke Ball Biscuits (Pokemon Go!)

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 If your household hasn’t been bitten by the Pokemon Go bug yet, well done you. I’ve no idea how you have escaped it, but kudos to you.

My boys (not my husband…yet) are obsessed with it and I am 99% sure that this is what our summer holidays will be spent doing.

In fairness, I don’t mind it too much. It’s actually getting the kids asking to go for walks, to spend time outside and to explore. All things I used to do when I was a kid in the summer holidays before numerous on demand TV channels, iPad’s and computer games existed. It’s actually quite nice. The only bummer is my mobile phone has been nabbed by my 8 year old I can’t use it for anything by the time I want to because the battery is so depleted!

Anyhow, in homage to Pokemon Go, and as a summer holiday activity, here is my recipe for (standard) Poke Ball Biscuits! If you google Poke Balls online, there are many different variants of them, but I went with the simplest version for this seen as I am very much a ‘home baker’.

So, here we go!

Gotta catch em all!


Ingredients

For the Biscuit Dough

250g butter, softened

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

For the Icing

500g Box of Royal Icing Sugar (I used this one by Silver Spoon)

50ml Cold Water (in a jug – you may or may not need all of this water)

Red Gel Food Colouring (Gel food colour is much better and gives a more vivid colour than Liquid)

Black writing Icing (Again, I used Silver Spoon)


 Method

1 – Pre-heat the oven to 180’c (160’c Fan) and line a large baking tray/sheet with grease-proof paper.

2 – Mix 250g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, or in a freestanding mixer.

3 – Add 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract, then briefly beat to combine.

4 – Sift in 300g plain flour and mix the ingredients until they are well combined

(you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together)

5 – Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out until 1/2cm thick.

6 – Cut the dough using a circular cutter, use whichever size you wish but I used a 3inch one.

7 – Place the dough circles on the baking sheet, leaving a gap of about 3cm between each biscuit, and bake for 15 minutes. The biscuits should still be pale and only lightly coloured on the edges.

8 – Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the tray. This is important, otherwise your biscuits will be too fragile to move and will possibly break.

9 – Once cooled slightly, remove from the baking tray and place onto a cooling rack so they can cool completely. Repeat this baking process for the remaining uncooked biscuits.

Now you’re ready to decorate!

Whoop!

1 – Empty the contents of the Royal Icing box into a large mixing bowl, I used my stand mixer for this part.

2 – Add water, slowly, until the desired consistency is reached. For me, this desired consistency is known as the 5 second stage, in that the icing, when dropped from a height, takes 5 seconds to mix back into the icing in the bowl. Quite firm but runny enough to pipe.

3 – When the icing has reached it’s desired consistency, pour half of it into a disposable piping bag

(Tip: I place my piping bags in a pint glass and pull the edges over the top of it to keep it in place. I then put the icing in and it is fairly mess free!)

4 – Colour the remaining half of the icing using your Red Gel colouring and mix well. I used about 1/2 a teaspoon of colouring, but judging it by eye is always your best bet. You want a vivid red for these Poke Ball biscuits.

5 – Pipe half of your biscuit with the white icing, doing the border first and then filling it in.

(Tip: I always keep a couple of cocktail sticks handy so I can move the icing about/fill in any gaps on the biscuit easily)

6 – Leave to set for 10 minutes.

7 – Now repeat this step with the red icing on the other half of the biscuit.

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8 – Now leave to set for a bit again, 15 minutes or so just to be sure.

9 – Take your black writing icing and pipe a line across the middle of the biscuit to hide the join line between the white and red halves.

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10 –  Now pipe a black circle in the middle of each Poke Ball, about the size of a 10p.

11 – Finally, pipe a little white dot into the middle of the Poke Ball, on top of the black circle you just piped.

12 – Leave to dry, preferably for 4 hours or overnight. Once the icing has dried, you’re safe to place the biscuits in an airtight container or zip-lock bag for a couple of days…if they last that long!

And there we have it!

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Poke Ball biscuits fit for any Summer Holiday Pokemon hunter, or for a kids birthday party!

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 If you have a go at these biscuits, do let me know by sharing your photos on my Facebook page or by tagging me over on Instagram @lifeisknutts.

Have a super (Pokemon Go!) Summer Knutters!

Gems.x

PS: Here is a photo of the Toddler after munching one of these…it’s safe to say he enjoyed it! 😉

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You Baby Me Mummy



Pick your Poison: Chocolate and Hazelnut Iced Coffee

Pick your Poison: Chocolate and Hazelnut Iced Coffee

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The weather here in the UK this week has been bonkers. My car said it was 41’c inside it the other day when I got in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the warm weather but I was literally melting and the toddler was a miserable, sweaty mess too. Nobody got any sleep and I think it is pretty safe to say we actually enjoyed a bit of a breeze and a spot of cloud in our household yesterday! (Sorry sun worshipers…)

Anyhow, in all the heat, I really fancied an iced coffee so had a tinker about and came up with this version. It has a Nuttella type spread in it so imagine a coffee flavoured Ferrero Rocher and you’re pretty much there. Yummers.


 Ingredients

(to make 2 jam jars/glasses of Nuttella Iced Coffee)

2 Heaped Tablespoons of Nuttella or a Nuttella equivalent (plus a little extra to decorate the inside of your glasses)

(I actually used a spread called Duo by Penotti – it is a Vanilla and Chocolate spread and it’s super delicious! I got mine from Ocado)

100g ice (crushed preferably but not essential as long as your blender blades can handle the ice cubes)

300ml milk

150ml Strong black coffee, which has been brewed and left to cool down.

 Whipped cream to serve

Cocoa Powder to decorate


Method

1 – Place the ice,  hazelnut spread, cooled coffee and milk in a blender.

2 – Whizz for a minute or so.

3 – Using the back of a spoon, dip the spoon in your chocolate & hazelnut spread and smear it around the inside of your glass. This is where the double coloured spread came into it’s own, it looked completely lush!

4 – Pour the iced coffee into the glass and top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Enjoy with a straw…and a bit of sunshine! 😉

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 If you have a go at this recipe, do share it with me on my Facebook Page or over on instagram by tagging me @lifeisknutts

Gems.x




Pick your Poison: Malteser, Chocolate Brownie & Sprinkle Doughnut Freakshake!

Pick your Poison:

Malteser, Chocolate Brownie & Sprinkle Doughnut Freakshake!

A chocolate milkshake with sprinkles, maltesers, cream and a sprinkle chocolate doughnut!

“Damn right, it’s better than yours, I can teach you, but I have to charge…”

I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to write about Milkshakes without singing Kelis’s song whilst dancing around the kitchen with some sprinkles as a percussive shaker…


 I love milkshakes. And cake. Put the two together in a slightly gluttonous, bonkers fashions and what do you have?!

A Freakshake! That’s what!

I’ve never had, nor made, one of these bad boys before, but they looked too good to miss out on so I thought I’d give it a go!

You can make this Alcoholic or non-alcoholic, depending on your mood, or depending on if it is being made for kids or grown ups. The choice is yours!

The basic premise of a Freakshake seems to be that it is a cake and a drink served together, in one, giant, calorie laden, glass. What’s not to love?!

Here’s the recipe for this crazy concoction…feel free to share it about! They’d make the perfect pudding for a BBQ; easy to make and certainly one to get people talking!


 Ingredients

(To make 2 Jam Jars of Milkshake)

225g Chocolate Brownies broken into pieces (ready made is perfect)

300ml milk

2 tablespoons of Malteser Spread (If you can’t get this, just use chocolate spread)

350ml Chocolate Ice Cream

16 Maltesers

2 Doughnuts (I used chocolate sprinkle doughnuts for this recipe)

Squirty Cream (Aerosol Can cream)

Sprinkles (100’s and Thousand’s are best – balls or strands)

*If making an alcoholic one, you will also need 50ml Baileys & 50ml Vanilla Vodka*

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 Method

1 – Place the Brownie pieces, malteser chocolate spread, milk and ice cream into a blender*.

*If you are making an alcoholic version, add the 50ml Baileys & 50ml Vanilla Vodka in at this point!*

2 – Blend for 2 minutes until all the ingredients have combined together.

3 –  Spread some more chocolate spread around the rim of your jam jar/glass and then dip the rim in some of the sprinkles to coat it around the edge.

4 – Fill the jam jar/glass with the chocolate milkshake mixture until just below the rim.

5 – Pop 4 Maltesers in the top of the glass.

6 – Add some squirty cream until it is just coming over the top of the jam jar/glass.

7 – Place your doughnut on the top of the cream.

8 – Add a little more squirty cream into the middle of the ring of the doughnut to fill in the hole.

9 – Add 3 Maltesers to the top to decorate and use the remaining sprinkles on the top of the cream too.

10 – Stick in a long straw, grab yourself a long handled spoon, set the drink on top of a plate/saucer and dig in!

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 If you have a go, feel free to share your photos with me over on my Facebook page or over on Instagram by tagging me @lifeisknutts.

Go on Knutters, get your Freak on!

Gems.x