Happy Calm and Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe

Play dough has got to be one of my must-have parenting items. Along with Lego and a library of course! But I’ll write more about must haves another time πŸ™‚

This is a simple recipe using easy to find ingredients and including another twist which I find makes the experience more enjoyable for both parents and children – oil blends!

Choose and mix your own colours, oil blends, and quantities according to your wishes. This makes enough for about 1&1/2 cups of dough, and I like it because even toddlers can make it themselves! And they smell gorgeous and not like salt or oil haha!

Ingredients;

  • 1 cup water
  • Β½ cup cooking salt 
  • 1 tbs cream of tartar
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • A few drops of essential oil/s of choice (a few different ones can be used) – if desired
  • 2 or three drops each of your choice of food colouring (if desired). Use 4-5 drops for a stronger colour.

My oil blend of choice for kids!


Method;

  1. Heat water, oil, salt and cream of tartar in a pan over low-medium heat, until salt is mostly dissolved (if not entirely dissolved).
  2. Remove pan from stove and add flour, mixing quickly to form dough. 
  3. Remove from pan and place on a play board or similar, and knead for a couple of minutes. Section into desired number of portions for your different colour/oil blend combinations. Roll into balls.
  4. Use your finger to poke a hole in the Centre of each ball, dropping in food colouring and/or oils of choice. Knead carefully, until thoroughly combined. I usually make 4 balls out of this size mixture.
  5. Now play! And be sure to seal in an airtight container or bag – they should last 4-6 months. 

    Half mixed blue

Completely mixed and ready to have fun!

Have fun!

C xx

Advertisements

12 Travel Tips for Parents when visiting Japan

After returning from our second holiday in Japan (now affectionately known as our “Japanniversary”), I have some handy tips for all of you parents out there to save you time, energy, frustration or embarrassment for your visit to Japan. On this visit we were able to spend time again in Osaka and Kyoto, as well as Nara. Next trip we’re hoping to head to Kobe, up to Sapporo, and most probably to visit our pen pals in Osaka again.


Points for Parents;

  1. Stay hydrated! Since we spent most of our days walking with our eyes wide open and concentrating on the sights and our senses were occupied, we didn’t drink enough and this may effect the little ones more than you. Just a word though, the tap Water is chlorinated, within “safe” levels.
  2. Everything regarding the public transport is so efficient – don’t stuff it up by standing on the left or boarding before others leave the train/bus.
  3. Nishiki Markets in Kyoto are a must do as well but if you have more than 2 small children consider giving it a miss if they can’t handle squashy crowds. Samples and demonstrations are plenty and the food range is awesome.
  4. Proteins & fats are hard to come by  in restaurants and more expensive in supermarkets – considering that weight training and daily movement are part of our family lifestyle, we generally do well on consuming more protein and fats. However, staples for the Japanese are predominantly carbohydrates so bear this in mind. We took along some hydrolysed collagen to help out. Super greens won’t hurt either if you’re used to eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and won’t have access to your own kitchen.
  5. If you’re a coffee snob like myself, consider taking along an aeropress and your own ground coffee if you’ll have access to a kettle. ‘%’ coffee in Arashiyama is excellent, but be prepared to wait atleast 30 minutes as the line often twists out the door & around the corner. ‘LILO Coffee’ in Amerikamura (Osaka) is also a must for coffee lovers.
  6. Teach your children manners – it is normal for people in Japan to be respectful and display manners and courtesy at all times. If you show and teach your children what is acceptable, you’ll find the experience all the more pleasant.
  7. If you’re heading to Osaka an absolute MUST is to take your children to the Kids Plaza Osaka! Perfect on rainy days it’s a 3 level discovery & play Centre you could probably spend 3 days in if they wanted to experience each activity to its fullest. Ages 3 & up is best I think, however there are stations for babies/toddlers which are lovely too. Nature, Science, Culture, Technology, Imagination… everything is physically and mentally engaging. Perfect. The ticket price is more than worth it and well within budget! The link is here; http://www.kidsplaza.or.jp/en/
  8. Another few awesome attractions are the Arashiyama Monkey Park (Arashiyama is approx 25/35minute bus ride from Kyoto) a 160m climb with a mountain top park which protects Japanese Macaques, and Nara Park (5 minutes walk from Nara train station) which is filled with temples, museums, historical buildings, and wild deer roaming free. A word of warning – please please please pay attention to the signage with instruction on how to treat the animals – we witnessed a number of close calls simply because people ignored warnings. They are still wild animals. Make sure you and your children respect them, please. Then there’s the Osaka Castle and citizens park – so much to see in the grounds & surrounds as well as the brilliance of the castle itself.
  9. Be aware of smoking & non smoking in restaurants – if this is an issue for you please keep an eye out for the ash trays on tables, especially if you’re not confident with your pronounciation of “can we have non-smoking please”, or don’t recognize the characters. A positive note though, in public areas and all playgrounds there are designated “Manners Stations” where smokers must smoke – I love these as it’s easy to move your children from those areas when smokers arrive.
  10. Kimonos versus Yukatas – so both are traditional dress however the Kimono is more formal and the Yukata more casual. For both males & females of all ages. But be aware, Kimonos can be worn incorrectly which may offend, so if you’re hiring one please have the attendant dress you or help you. Kimonos are also considerably more expensive and custom made to order according to your social status. The Yukata is much more affordable (and easier to put on) as a souvenir if you’re wanting to purchase something like that. Prices range from $45aud and up where as Kimonos start in the 100’s and 1000’s. 

    The Yukata is more casual

  11. Dining – everywhere is good. Haha! Some better than others but if you’ve never been to a “real” automated sushi train please do – the kids will love using the screen/tablet to order and the speed at which the made-to-order dishes come along the track.
  12. Take a phrase book or app – as with most countries, an attempt to speak the language is welcomed and often you’ll be able to get by piece by piece even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know any English.

I highly recommend Japan as a destination so please go and please enjoy! 

Xx C

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: Book Review

It finally arrived today! Here in Australia we’ve had to wait until April to receive this wonderful new storybook. Not just for girls or teens, but for everyone πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, this book has received labeling (in positive praise of course!) using the term “anti-princess“. While that may be the view of some, I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The stories of each of the 100 inspiring women from around the world are just as the title suggests, and follow a simple, bed-time story format. Easy to read and interesting even for toddlers, each story reveals the lesson or value each person has given to the world in a way that is easy for young minds to digest. 

I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The illustrations on each double page spread are unique to the woman they portray. Completely different styles created (as expected) by 60 women around the world. Simply gorgeous.

After reading only 2 or 3 stories my 7yo decided to write and illustrate her own story (about her) in the allotted pages at the back of the book – very cool πŸ™‚

Highly recommended for all ages πŸ™‚

C xx

Buy it here !!*

Happy Reading!!

* Affiliate link used.

Easy Mini Cheesecakes Recipe

It’s been a while since I posted any recipes so I thought I’d pop up this one as it’s a frequent request in my household πŸ™‚

This recipe is reduced sugar, and I’ve chosen all the ingredients from the supermarket with the least additives. To make it easier just go with products which have the most whole items or items you can pronounce, in the ingredients list. For example, the sour cream is only; Pasteurized cream, culture. Ideally, one might choose all gluten free and organic, or even sugar free, but sometimes we don’t always have access to these items so I’ve given the basic recipe here. Any plain biscuits work with this (I’ve tried making it with gluten free ginger nut biscuits and it comes up a treat). 

This takes about 10 mins to prep, 25 minutes to cook, and a few hours to cool. Making 24 in total. I always freeze half at least of them and thawed they’re just fine too.

Ingredients;

Base:

  • 250g plain biscuits (digestives, ginger nut, nice)
  • 140g butter, melted

Filling:

  • 2 x 250g cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 300g sour cream
  • 3 x eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • β…“-Β½ cup raw sugar


Method
;

  1. Process biscuits in a food processor until fine, then add butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Line cupcake trays (2 x 12) with two paper liners each. Spoon base mixture evenly between them. I use about 1-2 teaspoons for each.
  3. Flatten with the back of your spoon then refrigerate while you prepare filling. (See picture). Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  4. In a clean processor, combine cream cheese & sour cream until smooth.
  5. Add eggs, sugar and vanilla until just combined.
  6. Pour evenly into cupcake liners and bake for 25mins. Because I have to swap my top & bottom trays (small oven) I tend to bake them for 25-30 mins and they crack and lose some form but no-one complains lol!
  7. Remove from oven & allow to cool for at least an hour  before transferring to fridge or freezer. Set for 2-4 hours before eating.



You might like to top with cinnamon, or grated chocolate, or top with berries to serve.

Enjoy! Happy baking!!

Celese xx

Book Review (early readers): The Magic Treehouse Series



Title: The Magic Treehouse (Series of 50 books)


Author
: Mary Pope Osbourne


Age range/ ability
: 4-7 


Summary
: A ‘normal’ brother and sister are the inspiring heroes in this series. They discovered a magic treehouse by accident one day and what follows is the most incredible adventures a young pair could have! They assist a magic librarian to collect books and artefacts from around the globe and throughout history in order to save not only great stories, but themselves and their friends. Each book is a new adventure and as the series continues the characters age, which also encourages reader engagement and excitement.


My thoughts
: These were gripping as far as young children’s reading goes – we have actually read all 50 books! An awesome way to nurture your new reader and get them hooked on reading (never a bad thing in my book! Haha). The characters have strong, clearly recognisable traits and Pope Osbourne presents their personalities in such a way that early readers can easily relate. There is no harsh language or anything of a sexualised or media-focused nature – simply adventure and team work, character building, and learning! Pope Osbourne has Jack and Annie travelling to all areas of the world and even throughout history and myth on their adventures – so much stimulation and inspiration it’s not funny. I can’t recommend these highly enough I was so happy we found them!

They’re also accompanied by fact books to encourage further exploration, and a website I believe, for those who use the web to complement their child’s learning.

Also, a little side note – I believe the cover illustrations have been “jazzed up” recently and so even though we’ve read them all, some covers are unfamiliar to me, like the last in the set of four featured above.


Feedback from a 6 year old
: “Wow!” “Oohhhh.” “That’s amazing!” (While reading)

“I think I’m more like Jack and less like Annie. But sometimes I’m like Annie.”

“We’ve been there, mum!”
Check out the books here : http://goo.gl/NMlN2k

*Affiliate links used.

Colour-Me Choices Posters to help deal with BIG emotions

We’ve all been guilty at some point or another for responding immaturely or unpleasantly when our child has a melt down. When more than one child melts down at the same time… Well… I’m putting my hand up first to say I’ve panicked and reacted terribly. I certainly didn’t model the behavior I aim to teach and I most definitely didn’t keep calm myself.  But now that has changed.

I’m working on a series of posters you can colour in or your child can colour in, featuring the simple yet effective choice wheel. The first I have completed is SAD. Download it here. If I ever get any time I’ll be coloring these all in Photoshop to make them incredibly attractive and mid-feed-scroll-stop-worthy, but until then please enjoy by coloring yourself. Who knows, it may be rather soothing!
I choose to have these on the wall in easy to see places and when my child/ren has a moment we refer to this. Simple. And we get through ok and I hope beyond anything else that she is able to grow her personal toolbox to deal with emotions in a way I never did as a youngster or even young adult.

Enjoy and use as you feel fits in with your family.

Xx