Recycling, It’s kids play…

Everyday I am so grateful that we have a garden. It is so handy just to chuck the kids outside and let them get dirty for a little while (then chuck them in bath :-)).  So today I’m sharing a few different things we’ve done outside, and the great thing is most of them are recycled!

First up is this upcycled suitcase sand pit. Now the inspiration from this came from a picture I saw on Pinterest, of an old wooden boat used as a sand pit, it looked amazing and I thought to myself “where am I going to get an old wooden boat from?!” So that idea was put to the back of my head and forgotten about. A few months later my father in law visited us and left behind his old suitcase, which had a few rips and tears and was no longer of use. He said to bin it, however I couldn’t bear to throw it away, I knew it could be used for something else. So for a few weeks it was sat there, doing nothing much in particular, until the idea popped into my head. So we bought some sand (Yeh, even thought we live in Dubai it’s illegal to take sand from the desert), filled the suitcase up and the kids loved it!

 So we actually did this inside the house as we had a long strip of empty, tiled floor to roll the balls across, However it can be easily used as an outdoor activity. Although simple I have to say this game was a success, my daughter loved it. The paper cups were included in a food delivery we made, and we didn’t use them so I thought they could be recycled. First we painted them, which is an activity in itself and will keep an older child busy for a while. Depending on the age of your child, they may enjoy simply stacking and counting the cups. Watching the anticipation was brilliant! the suspense in a three year old is great to watch, will the ball hit the cups or will it miss?!

The last one is pretty self explanatory, I gave her some cardboard boxes, egg cartons and some paint and let her creative juices run wild. Honestly it really doesn’t matter if paint gets on the wall/floor/child, because it can always be washed off, that’s why this is great to do outside as all the mess will stay there! After the paint has dried you could always extend this activity by making something out of the boxes. Hope you’ve been inspired to do some outdoor activities, weather permitting!

Crafty makes: Some Embroidery

This is the first piece of embroidery I have done in a VERY long time! I really, REALLY enjoyed doing it. It was the cover of a memory book my friends and I were compiling for a friend of ours who was getting married last year, the theme was based on the classic book, the ugly duckling. A lot of thought went into this piece, I had a certain look in my head that I was going for, I used Pinterest for ideas and inspiration and sketched all my ideas into a final draft. When I finally put needle to thread I was abuzz with excitement, there was a blank white fabric stretched taut in the embroidery hoop, waiting for me to bring it to life. As there was a deadline for this piece I had my set “embroidery time” after the kids had gone to sleep, I have to say I really looked forward to that hour or so when I sat down and emerged myself in the embroidery. I loved seeing the design coming together, looking more and more complete every time I sat down with it. With this piece I really enjoyed the process, I was even more in love with the finished product! I had a difficult time parting with it! But I do know it has gone to very good home, someone who definitely appreciates the handmade things in life!

I kept the colour scheme quite muted with pops of colour here and there, and a bit of texture with the nest and the beads in the tree and the flowers. The piece includes the brides’ name (Habiba) as well as the grooms’ (Umair), with a reference to the Grooms surname (Izhar).

It was a difficult task choosing between all the photos I took, I loved them all!

This piece really made me fall in love with hand embroidery again, and I’m sure I say that at the end of every blog post about embroidery but it really is true!

Crafty kids: Spontaneous crafting…

Some days I/we/she will have a specific  craft activity in mind, we will discuss what we need, collect all the materials and being the activity with gusto. Other times an activity will form itself as part of everyday goings on, in a rather more spontaneous manner. This was one of those times. My daughter was amusing herself with a cork coaster, whilst I was preparing food. Now we all know kids never listen to what they’re asked to do (or not do as the case was). I had told my daughter not to bend the coaster as it will break, so inevitably she continued to bend it until it broke. Never one to throw away things that can be reused, I put it to one side and my mind began to think of ways in which the cork could be re-purposed. This is what it can up with…

Stamps! A quick, kid friendly craft that can be used over and over gain, and what’s more it’s made from recycled materials! I simply cut out the shapes from the cork (slightly tricky) and stuck them onto large plastic lids (ours were from juice bottles) using a glue gun. Et voila! An almost instant craft tool for the kids to use! All we needed was some plates, paint and paper and the she was ready to paint!

Nutella cookies

When I saw this video on Jamie Oliver’s food tube channel, I knew I had to give them a try. The fact that they only use 3 ingredients,(all of which are regulars in our kitchen) made it even more appealing, particularly for the kiddo to join in with. Also how can you resist anything with Nutella in it?

They were very quick and easy to make, two things you definitely want from a recipe when you have kids in the kitchen with you. I have to say they turned out pretty good. The only tweak that I made was to bake them for a little longer than the instructions (the recipe states 8-10 mins I probably baked them for 15-18 mins), I wanted a more firmer biscuit, and 8-10 minutes didn’t seem enough at all. Also I didn’t have any white chocolate to drizzle over them but hey, that’s neither here nor there.  They were quite cakey as opposed to biscuity but they were great for a quick recipe when you have a biscuit craving or a Nutella craving (and you can’t quite justify getting a spoon and eating it out of the jar….).


Crafty finds: Three in one

I haven’t done a crafty finds post for a while. I have quite a few lined up, particularly things you can give as gifts as most of the Eid presents we gifted this year were either handmade or bought from small, independent companies. So todays crafty find is actually three crafty finds in one, yes that’s right, initially I thought it was two then I spotted a third in the photo and of course it had to be given a mention as well!

Kids corner

The above photo is taken in the “kids corner” so to speak, as our downstairs is all open plan it was abit tricky to find an area for the kids, particularly as we don’t have the space for them to have a dedicated room. It has definitely moved about a lot and a few of the initial ideas I wanted to incorporate (such as a reading corner) I was unable to fit into the room. But I like how it’s turned out, and they have a little corner just for them to play in, and it’s where all their toys stay!

So first up is the “beautiful day” banner, which really does brighten up the corner. It was in The flow book for paper lovers from the lovely folks over at flow magazine. The book itself deserves a whole separate post for itself! It’s full of lots of papery goodness, cards, postcards, invites, envelopes, cute little paper dolls, all sorts. It is honestly a delight to look through and even more of a delight to use, even though I’ve only used a few things from it yet.

The arabic alphabet poster is from Inspire me art. A small business set up by a mum, in order to provide modern, inspiring and colourful artwork around the home! I particularly love the nursery/newborn stuff they have, they’re all perfect for adding colour to a child’s room. I love this piece it adds colour and is a lovely informal way to introduce the arabic alphabet to your child. The three year old occasionally looks at it and breaks out into the arabic alphabet song, which always brings a smile to my face.

Last but not least is the wooden rainbow jigsaw, which is handmade in Lithuania(!) and sold by a small family based company in the UAE called Harmony House toys. Readers from the UK do not despair! they do provide toys to the uk aswell :-).  I am in love with this company! I love wooden toys, they’re just more aesthetically pleasing than plastic ones! They have some beautiful toys (if toys can be called that!) and if it was upto me I would probably buy one of everything, but alas I don’t have the space, (or funds!). The story behind the company is lovely also!

I love all three of these small business’s. Knowing I’m buying something from somebody who is passionate about what they create and sell, rather than a large corporate firm, makes me all warm and fuzzy inside! Definitely check them out, they make the perfect gifts!

p.s. If anybody is wondering the wooden stackable rings are from Ikea, as are the large round hooks and the cupboard. The embroidery hoop holds a piece of embroidery I bought from a charity fundraiser, I have no idea who embroidered it, I think it was made in Iraq as the fundraiser was to raise money to send their.


Crafty kids: Junk modelling

Junk modelling is one of my favourite things to do with the toddler, alas it is also the thing that we don’t do very much of, as in once every few months! Junk modelling really gets the kids imaginations going, not only in making whatever it is they are making but afterwards in using it and playing with it. In general we keep small boxes, toilet roll/kitchen roll tubes and any other interesting bits and bobs that can be used.  Also little things like bottle tops and old toys etc can be used to add details, your imagination really is the limit!

Here’s two of the projects we’ve done, and I have to say my daughter loved making them and choosing the different colours and parts to go in different places…

I have to admit, I love the way this robot turned out! My daughter chose which bits to use for the head/body etc and then she chose which bottle tops to use for the buttons and eyes. She loved it to! She wanted to play with it and carry it around with her, but alas it wasn’t structurally sound! Suffice to say it didn’t last very long, but she loved it while it was with us.

This mosque was one of our ramadaan crafts. We actually had the intention of making this mosque before we had the pieces, so my daughter made sure she saved her yoghurt pots for the domes. She also chose the colours and painted it and decorated the windows and doors herself. I think it’s important to let the child have some control over most aspects of the process, it allows their creativity to come through, and so what if the colours don’t go together or it’s not symmetrical along as they enjoy the process!

Some handy hints for junk modelling…

  • If you need to paint the items you are joining then add PVA glue to the paint, it will ensure it sticks, especially to plastic pots
  • A glue gun is your best friend with junk modelling, I have a hot glue gun so I make sure i’m extra careful when the kids are around.
  • Go with what your kids are suggesting or saying, The final product doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Above all have fun spending time with your children (or nieces/ nephews!)

Leftover mash

Whenever I make mash potatoes I always have that bit of left over mash in the fridge which sits there in a tupperware tub all lonely and forgotten,   for a good few days before I even realise it’s there. By the time I discover it, it’s bit too late for the poor thing and it’s final resting place is the bin. So in an attempt to waste less food I thought I had better come up with something to make out of it, and something I have always wanted to try is croquettes. My mum used to buy the frozen ones and fry them for us for a snack, I used to love them with tomato ketchup! I have to say the home made ones were a hit, and very nostalgic.

These are really easy to make (albeit very messy!) and you can get the kids involved too, I gave the three year old the “bread crumbing” job.  I won’t bother with a proper recipe but here’s a rough step by step guide…

  • Make sure your mash has been chilled, as it is firmer and easier to shape.
  • Before you take the mash out of the fridge you need three spacious dishes. One containing plain flour, one containing eggs and the final one containing bread crumbs. Line the dishes up in that order.
  • Now you can shape the mash into the croquette shapes as seen above (I have also made flat round ones too and they work out fine aswell).
  • At this point you could fill them with some cheese or some chicken or whatever you fancy. You could also add some spices or other flavouring to the mash itself.
  • Now to breadcrumb the croquettes, dip them in the flour (shake off any excess), then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
  • Use one hand for dried ingredients and one hand for wet ingredients.
  • Once they are done you can deep fry them straight away or put them in the fridge until you need them.
  • In another attempt to waste less food I made the breadcrumbs with a loaf of bread that had gone stale. I froze them and took them out to defrost an hour or so before I needed them, they worked a treat!


Crafty Kids: Recycling bottle tops

Todays post is sort of a continuation of last weeks recycling post. One of the biggest ways I reuse things is with the kiddos, particularly in crafty activities, so I have loads of recycling/reusing posts lined up about activities you can do with kids. The best part is that the cost is minimal because you are using items you would have otherwise chucked away!

Today we’re talking bottle tops, I like to have a bag of washed plastic bottle tops as they are a great craft material. For younger children it can be as simple as sticking them on paper and making a picture, Older children can be a lot more creative and make models, cards, anything really!

My 3 year old likes to simply use them as loose parts to play with, stacking them up, colour sorting them, it definitely keeps her busy for a while. The only thing I would keep in mind is that if you have a baby that still puts everything in their mouth then keep the lids away as they can be a choking hazard.

We also used some large lids to make funny faces with, we used smaller  lids for the features and added googly eyes. We added some hair too using embroidery thread and wool but I think it had been pulled off by the time I got round to taking the picture! If you are gluing plastic to plastic I would suggest using a glue gun, as PVA doesn’t seem to very permanent. This is a good activity for learning about faces and features, as well as emotions for example we talked about whether the face was happy or sad, whether they had a smile etc. You could go a step further and stick these on a greetings card or even attach some magnets at the back and stick them on your fridge!

Recycling and Re-using

It’s been over a year now since we’ve moved into our house in Dubai (rented, but still it’s our space) and since moving I’ve been in a very recycling, minimal clutter mind set. We don’t have much storage space so for practical reasons can’t have too much “stuff” anyway, also I’ve found the house is far more relaxing both mentally and physically when there is less clutter. Plus a toddler and a baby come with their own clutter! I figured the more stuff we have, the more mess they’ll make and the more I’ll have to clean up haha!  So if we don’t need it we don’t really buy it.

I have always had a recycling mindset, and I hate waste, so if something can be reused or given away then I prefer that to chucking it out. I even give stuff like stale bread/left over rice/popcorn etc to the birds in our garden rather than throw it away. In our area there isn’t a recycling point or pick up as such, luckily I found a company who picks up the recyclables from your doorstep. They take plastic containers, glass, drinks cartons, aluminium, paper/card, they even take clothes and old felt tips etc  However I still prefer to re-use items wherever possible, rather than simply throwing them away. If we had the storage space I would probably keep a lot more bits than I do (maybe it’s a good thing we don’t have the space!). So I’ve made a list of bits than can be kept and put to more creative use!

  • Glass jars: I keep them for storage or I recycle (there’s only so much cupboard space I have!)
  • Plastic bottles/jars: I reuse the jars for storing craft supplies, occasionally I keep the bottles for craft projects or I recycle. I also keep the lids (post about them coming up soon!)
  • Cereal boxes, tissue boxes, shoe boxes (any cardboard boxes): I keep as much of these as I can they are great for junk modelling with the kids
  • Shopping bags (paper and plastic): The plastic ones get recycled, I keep the paper ones to reuse
  • Plastic yoghurt pots: These are great to keep if you have kids, you can use them as paint/glue pots, or use them for crafting.
  • Egg cartons/ toilet roll tubes: Again brilliant if you have kids, they can be used for sorting activities, or in craft projects
  • Fruit containers/Packaging: I keep the plastic containers of the kids to use, and do whatever they want with really, I also keep any net/ tissue paper packaging to use in crafts

Other interesting bits you may not have thought of…

I always keep bits of wrapping paper, used or left over scraps, It’s great for cutting and sticking with the kids!

New clothes tags, My daughter loves these, she uses them as tickets sometimes or she sticks them on paper to make a picture. When you buys kids clothes there are always interesting ones attached!

In a similar vein I keep the ribbons/ropes from the clothes tags too, they can be used in crafts for both kids and adults! I use them in embroidery too!

Last but not least packaging from kitchen stuff/furniture. When we bought new stuff from Ikea for our house there was loads of foam, brown paper, card etc all if it can be reused!

I have alot of “crafty kids” posts planned showing you guys how to reuse and recycle all sorts so watch this space!

Cheesecake, mmmmm…..

Ok I’m not even going to go on about how busy life is etc, suffice to say it had been very busy for the past few months, particularly as we were here, there and everywhere. Things are slowly settling into more of a routine and the toddler has started nursery (!) so that means more time to blog yay!

Seeing as I’ve not posted anything food related for a while I thought I’d start with a gorgeous Oreo cheesecake that the munchkin and I made. We followed this recipe by our talented cousin, which is over on her blog, seeing as she did a brilliant job of writing up the recipe, I’m not going to bore you all by repeating it :-). But I will put up a photo of the finished product…

This is a lovely cheesecake, and seeing as I’m rather addicted to Oreos, their addition just makes it even better. It’s also a very simple recipe to follow and make so great for little people to help out with! My daughter loved breaking the Oreos and mixing everything together and of course there is always the anticipation of when it’s ready to come out of the fridge!