Free Safety Rules Poster for Families

Here it is! Feel free to download, colour, and personalise yours – it never hurts to have a conversation about safety with your children and for them it’s even more empowering knowing what to do! This file will print at A4 size just fine. I ended up printing an extra one for my eldest who asked to have one to colour herself and have in her bedroom.

Here’s mine before I’d written the address in. This emergency number is for Australia however if there’s enough interest I can do other countries as well just get in touch 😛


I’ve coloured it, laminated it and hung it in an easy to see, and frequently seen, spot in the house. 

Download yours from the Printable Posters page 😛

Thanks for 

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 🙂

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
  • ½ 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

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 🙂

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 🙂

Highly recommended for all ages 🙂

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 🙂

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
  • ⅓-½ 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

Sew Busy in our house! Teaching life lessons with needles and chin ups.

Where to begin?! When life gets so overwhelming I had to let something go and unfortunately that was talking to you guys through this blog 😦 I’m sorry!

The loveliest thing though about my last 6 weeks was having my sister & nephew visit from out of town and training together, hanging out, and showing them a few of our homeschooling activities. The days have been packed so the whole family is looking forward to a few days off over the holiday season!

A few great focus areas for my two children have been sewing (the very latest obsession), rock climbing, developing chin up strength, and non violent communication. For me, alongside busy days with my children and managing some events for our community homeschool group I’ve been working my behind off trying to finish up some illustration jobs I’ve been commissioned to do, as well as compete in the grand final of my basketball league (we won!) and attend the Disney reunion down in Sydney (where I previously worked as an artist)! You’ll probably see the evidence in my Instagram feed – Phew it has been busy!


So I’m super happy about how my kidlets have been developing over the last two months as THE biggest lessons I’ve been trying to imprint on their ever-sponging brains are;

  • Have a plan/be prepared
  • Practice and persistence to achieve your goals
  • Words are like magic if you use them properly.

And these lessons, through every day activities, are sinking in! Yay!! 

Sewing has taught my two the pretty big lesson of having a plan, and being prepared. Oh how the tears did flow! Seam allowance, needle threading, hand sewing, placement of cut outs…. All the mistakes are being made and it’s wonderful as once the frustration has cleared we can talk it through and do better next time. 

Chin ups are a big focus right now – for some reason they’ve been something my two have latched onto through watching myself and my husband train at the gym. Practice and persistence come up very regularly in most activities or pursuits but chin ups have been demanding and the joy of reaching goals has been sweet! My eldest can now do more than me!!! Talk about confidence booster! And because this is something it’s not possible for me to help them with it’s been extra special as they’ve achieved all by themselves 🙂 and the goal posts can always be moved to achieve more if they wish ❤️❤️❤️

And finally, this is a long running, always continuing lesson which I’m still learning for myself! The power of words! Now that my littlest is 3&½ she’s coming to a stage where she has her own opinion, she wants to lead and direct what she is doing, and her independence is growing. So, therefore the disagreements come thick and fast some days and we need to learn to master our communication. This is a work in progress that’s for sure! 

I’ve been so happy to see the progress with my two I just had to share!!! 

Did you find any activities in particular helped your own children with perseverance, preparation, or communication?

Would love to hear if you did 🙂

C xx

Nature, Numbers, and Caterpillar Bites

The caterpillar that bit me 🙂

Today while we were creating some art outside on the patio a very hungry caterpillar bit my leg. 

Crazy, I know! I’ve never been bitten by one before and in truth it was just searching for food after falling on to me. As far as I know my legs aren’t green enough to be mistaken for leaves, haha! But it tickled, and it was definitely a surprise! But the by far the strongest experience my girls took from witnessing that event was that it is a wonder and exciting to be in touch with nature – all because of my response to the incident. As parents who are busy “doing”, and have already developed certain behaviors (which, can still be adjusted by the way!) we often forget the impact of our actions – however small – has an enormous effect on our children’s experience of life. It sounds like a big call, but it isn’t. It’s the truth.

I could have squealed, shouted, hit the caterpillar off my leg, displayed nervousness or fright, and been upset. But what I did do, was turn slowly, obviously surprised at the sensation, and said “Wow! It’s trying to find food and is biting my leg! Ha! It tickles (which it did) – I’ve never felt THAT before! Look girls, look! (With excitement and smiles) take a good look before I pop it back into the leaves… It’s not hairy or spikey so I know it won’t harm me, but it does seem VERY hungry!”.

One thing I did notice before I even started to respond was the gasp from my eldest as she looked to me for the appropriate action or response (she saw it first). It was only a split second but I caught it and that reminded me to pour intent into my reaction. It worked!

They then rushed happily for a closer look and smiles beamed from their little faces. It’s a pretty strong imprint which will help build their curiosity, confidence and ease in nature.

If I had’ve reacted differently as I mentioned first, I then teach my children to become scared and withdrawn from the natural world, and to hurt things. Personally I want more for my children, and for them to respect our connection with nature and enjoy it.

But on to the numbers…

So one of the biggest missing components of many modern children is said to be “time in nature”. So to combat this issue our activities outside today focused on nature itself. Some chalk drawing of course, but then we created a graph of the insects we could see in our small garden bed by creating a table with a drawing and label of each insect, searching and counting then tallying them, then creating a bar graph and pie chart. Easy and fun, outside in the sunshine 🙂


I would have a picture to show you of the graph we made but for the life of me I can’t find it!! 

Enjoy the sunshine my friends Xx

Kids Shadow Puppet Movie

* Apologies if you received this via email unedited! An accidental button bump published it!
My eldest child and her friend meet every week to focus and work on a project of their choosing as part of their homeschooling fun. Yesterday, they just finished off a fantastic shadow puppet movie, inspired by Bunk Puppets and facilitated by my friend Anita! The two girls came up with the story line, characters, props and voices. Very very cool!

I am so proud of both of them 🙂

Here it is if you’d like to check it out! http://youtu.be/j9yq_O7CRcU

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.

Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Adventure Series

Title: Arkie Sparkle 

Author: Petra James

Age range/ ability: 6-10 years

Summary: Arkie is a tweenager treasure hunter who’s parents get kidnapped. It’s up to Arkie and her ‘genius’ cousin to travel throughout time and places to figure out the clues, use their brains and gadgets, and find her parents in 7 days. Each book covering one day.

My thoughts: Although some of the themes were a little old for my daughter at the time of reading these (think ‘concern about fashion’ for one of the characters), she thoroughly enjoyed the historic references, the main character’s humble personality, and the adventure of it all. She also tried to figure out the clues too. We’d definitely read these again! Apologies for no inside page pics – these were read and returned to the library before I could say ‘boo’! I recommend this series if your child is an adventurer at heart and likes suspense. 

Feedback from a 6 year old: “I just can’t stop reading these books, Mum!”. “Mum can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this?” (At midday and evening story time). 

“Even though she’s only young, she can still do all these things?”

“She must be strong, hey Mum?”