10 Fun Activities to Do with the Kids This Winter

Winter can be a tricky time to be a parent. The weather is often poor, the days are short, and money can be a little bit tight after Christmas. So, what are you going to do with the kids at the weekend or during a half term? Well, here are ten fun activities you could try to stave off a serious case of cabin fever…

  1. Go on a treasure hunt

Fresh air is the perfect remedy for children who are feeling little cooped up, so head out into the great outdoors having devised a ‘treasure hunt’ of sorts. Make them a checklist of things to find, such as a spider’s web, a bird’s nest or a frost-laced leaf.

  1. Do some baking

Kids love to help in the kitchen, and getting them involved in a spot of baking is a great way to develop their confidence in the kitchen and start teaching essential life skills. Whip up a batch of muffins (they’re pretty forgiving if your little helpers are a bit heavy handed), or help them make some gooey chocolate chip cookies. Delicious!

  1. Walk along the beach

If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast (or want to bundle in the car for the weekend), why not head out to the seaside? A blustery winter’s walk on the seafront is great fun, and the kids will enjoy leaning into the wind and watching the waves crash on the shore. Treat yourselves to fish and chips after and remember to take photos to capture those happy memories.

  1. Build a snowman

With any luck winter brings a dusting of snow for the kids to enjoy, so if you happen to see any settling where you live, head straight out to build a snowman. Little ones might need some help to roll the snow, and children of all ages will love rummaging round the house for carrots, scarves and pieces of coal (or failing that, small potatoes) to make the snowman come to life. Just make sure you’ve kitted the kids out in warm stylish clothing before they play in the snow – a warm coat, a sturdy pair of wellies and a pair of gloves are essential items if they’re going to enjoy themselves.

  1. Make a winter campfire

Children love to watch a fire crackling as much as adults do, so why not build a winter campfire in your back garden? Be sure to build your fire safely, and then pull up chairs for some quality time as a family. You can swap stories, toast marshmallows and sip hot chocolate together.

  1. Build a fort

Remember how much you loved building forts when you were little? It’s a lovely thing to do with the kids, so sacrifice those just-washed bed sheets and drape them over the arms of the sofas. Pull in some pillows, add a string of battery-powered fairy lights and let the kids camp out there for the day. They can play games, eat their lunch in there and perhaps even take an afternoon nap…

  1. Play in the forest

It’s impossible to get our kids off their computer screens entirely, but you can certainly get them using their imaginations outdoors if you suggest a stroll through the forest. Encourage a bit of imaginary role play: wizard wands have been fashioned from many a twig, and a good branch doubles as a sword to do battle with any roaming dragons or bad guys…

  1. Have a dance party

Having a boogie round the house is a great way of exercising and improving everyone’s mood: no mean feat in the depths of winter! Find a good playlist, turn up the volume and encourage the kids to let loose. You can always throw a game of musical statues into the mix if you want to keep them at it for a little while longer.

  1. Host a film festival

There’s nothing nicer than being tucked up inside on a rainy winter’s day, so why not watch some films together? Add an extra element of fun by theming the films around food – a particularly good trick if you want to get your little ones to try a new dish. For instance, serve steaming bowls of ratatouille while watching the Ratatouille film, or tuck into spaghetti and meatballs while watching Lady and the Tramp.

  1. Get crafty

Finally, there are thousands of craft ideas to do with children if you look online, but one that’s particularly fun and requires little in the way of materials is this one. You’ll need basic supplies such as paper plates, paints, glue and elastic (all of which will be available at a well-stocked supermarket for instance), and so long as you don’t mind the kids making a bit of a mess, you’ll keep them entertained for hours.

So, which of these fun ideas will you be doing with the kids this winter? Let us know!

Featured Post: Don’t forget the dinner: Get your Christmas Day plans in order

What’s your Christmas Day routine? Do you get up nice and early to see if Father Christmas has deposited some presents down your chimney? Do you welcome relatives around to exchange presents? Is there a festive playlist or film that tickles your fancy? Do you never go without seeing the Queen’s Christmas message?

Whatever your day looks like, there’s one thing you simply cannot afford to forget – the dinner. This is a showpiece moment of the biggest day of the year – the time you and your family stop, gather together and tuck into turkey and all of the trimmings.

No pressure then.

How do you ensure that everything goes well? The key thing is to have a plan in the first place, one that can guide you through exactly what you need to do and when. Look no further than this one, from the team at AO.com, which can ensure that you have no Christmas catastrophes in the kitchen…

The Step-By-Step Christmas Dinner Cooking Guide
Provided by AO.com

Featured Post: Why vintage diamonds are worth the high price tag

One of my interests in my day job as a museum curator is costume. I spend a long time looking at dress and jewellery and I’ve really enjoyed including costume in various exhibitions. From suffragette jewellery in an exhibition about the Edwardians through to beautiful Ancient Egyptian inspired jewellery in an Ancient Egypt exhibition. 

A friend of mine collects vintage jewellery and is always telling me about the amazing finds she makes. Until fairly recently I was astonished to find out how much cheaper it is than new jewellery. Its actually well worthwhile buying a piece just for the diamonds which you can then have made into an item of your choice. I’ve been sent some information about vintage diamonds which I thought was of interest, because, you know, Christmas is coming and its not all about stuff for the kids is it!

 

Vintage diamonds are worth the price tag because they were not mass produced when first designed and made and the cuts are unusual compared to modern diamond cutting techniques. Vintage diamonds were generally cut by hand, which means no stone is the same and offers a uniqueness to a piece of jewellery that you will not find anywhere else.

However, these irregular shaped diamonds were once rejected or downgraded by specialists but are now revered and used as a symbol of authenticity when it comes to vintage stones. They allow us to hold on to a little piece of history in the form of something beautiful we can adorn ourselves with or have on display.

Vintage diamonds are also worth the price tag because they come with a story. In the 1900s wealthy families would travel and collect diamonds from countries they visited, which they would then have made into stunning pieces of jewellery to show off at extravagant parties. These pieces are then handed down throughout the generations, gaining in value and exhibiting a variety of cutting styles as methods were adapted and refined over time.

Diamonds owned by a famous person for a long time are also very popular. Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond jewellery was sold for an incredible $137 million at an auction in 2012 while a ring supposedly owned by child star Shirley Temple was auctioned for between $25 million and $35 million but failed to sell.

Lab grown diamonds are more common than ever now in the diamond jewellery market and their presence could be encouraging a push towards authentic diamonds as buyers wish to hold onto the craftsmanship that went into their creation. It’s safe to say, vintage diamonds will continue to attract investors, gain value as the years go on and will be put up for auctions over time where the highest bidder will take home a slice of history to share with others and hand down to future generations.

Featured Post; How to Make Your Family Car Greener

 

car1There comes a time when you need to ditch your current car. This has literally just happened to me as the cam shaft has broken on my trusty Zafira. It comes at quite a good moment in many ways as I have been considering ways to make my motoring cheaper and greener. We’ve decided to go down the route of leasing a low co2 emission car.

It’s well documented that cars are a major contributor to environmental pollution. Legislation in terms of city congestion charges, vehicle excess duty rates and the advent of alternative power such as electric is designed to minimise the effects of fossil fuels. While diesel was considered the better environmental option when the focus was purely on CO2 emissions, there has been something of a backlash in the light of concerns over the particulates emitted by diesel engines.

There are lots of ways which you can save some cash and make sure your car is as environmentally friendly as possible. I’ve been sent the following suggestions which I will definitely be taking on board (excuse the pun!)

Regular maintenance

Keeping your car in tip top condition will help. Regular servicing at a competent and trustworthy garage includes the replacement of items such as air filters; a new, clean one helps burn less fuel so the car runs cleaner.

Your fuel consumption could be around 25% less with regular tune ups, emissions checks and regular servicing.

Check tyres – wrongly inflated tyres, especially under-inflation, causes a car to burn more fuel due to the extra resistance under inflated tyres exert. Regular surveys undertaken by Michelin revealed over 60% of cars on the road had incorrectly inflated tyres, causing the emission of an extra 538,000 tonnes of excess CO2.

Your driving technique – criticising someone’s driving is akin to heresy in some quarters, but many of us could drive more economically. Here are a few pointers:

  • Anticipate more – sudden braking as opposed to natural slowing down wastes fuel (braking effectively wipes out the amount of fuel you’ve used to build that momentum).
  • Use high gears – change up in good time and drive in the highest gear possible, but don’t let the engine labour.
  • Excess weight – remove items from the car you don’t need for that trip; riding around with your golf clubs in the boot all week wastes fuel over time.

Change cars – an extreme step you may think, but it could be worth considering especially if yours is ageing and something of a ‘gas guzzler.’ Maybe your running costs are expensive in terms of fuel, maintenance and tax so a newer, more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly model could be worth considering.

There are various ways including leasing (both for business and personal users) to put a new, cheaper to run and greener car on your driveway at a reasonable cost.

Your car use – can you use your car less? Perhaps you could combine smaller trips into one? Maybe sometimes you could bike or walk to work or share lifts with others on occasions? Combining, say, a trip to the supermarket on the way back from work is better than taking a separate trip where your car is starting from cold.

Overall, shorter trips should be minimised as far as possible. Your car is less efficient as it’s not running at its optimum temperature so uses more fuel, and shorter trips cause faster wear and tear than longer ones.

Car equipment – when driving, try to use the minimum in-car equipment you can; air conditioning increases fuel consumption as do electrical items such as heated rear windows and lighting. Switch them off when possible.

Plan trips – getting lost and wasting fuel on dead adds to your carbon footprint, so plan trips as far as you can using maps and keeping your sat nav mapping up to date.

Greener is possible

With just some basic steps, not all of them even costing money, you can at least make your present car greener to help the environment.

 

 

Featured Post: Fifi’s Dream Pet Thanks to PetPlan

cat

Jonny Cat

I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am of my daughter, she’s bright, friendly well natured and the loveliest little girl. She also has a burning ambition to become a vet and we are trying our best to support this however we can. A couple of years ago we decided to get a family pet and welcomed our lovely cat Jonny into our home. Jonny and Fifi have become the best of friends and she spends a lot of time with him and enjoys caring for him.

One thing we have discovered is that we have an accident prone cat. He is quite an explorer and is forever getting himself into scrapes. About a year ago he came back with some serious injuries which I think were the result of squeezing through some barbed wire or similar. Jonny had to have quite a lot of stitches and medicine all on a Saturday and we were really fortune to have taken out PetPlan insurance. The insurance saved us hundreds of  pounds at a time when we really couldn’t have afforded it. The reason that we happened to have PetPlan out of all the different companies out there was that we had got Jonny from Cats Protection and they had recommended it.

Anyway, it was lovely to hear from PetPlan recently about the Dream Pet campaign for bloggers. I must admit I don’t really get involved in many blogging campaigns but I knew that little Fifi would absolutely love this one, partly because PetPlan were asking her to get involved and she loves reading their magazine!

PetPlan have asked the children of bloggers to create their dream pet. This was a tricky ask for Fifi as she’d quite happily provide a home to every passing animal. She decided on a mixture between a dog, a horse that flies. She’s desperate for a pet dog and her own pony and takes every opportunity to try to get round myself and the hubby.

dream-petMeet Sparkle, Fifi’s new best friend and her dream pet. Petplan really kindly took this drawing and had her made into an actual soft toy! I was frankly astonished, they had done such an amazing job, real life sparkle looks just like the picture.

Fifi unsurprisingly loves Sparkle. She has taken her to show and tell, to bed, to the Tate Modern. The list goes on and I suspect that Sparkle will now become a firm favourite and a feature of Fifi’s childhood.

Pets are a wonderful addition to any home, I have really seen the benefits in having Jonny Cat as a member of our family. The boys are more considerate of animals and they have all benefitted immensely. It has been such a joy to see the children grow with Jonny and I must admit, I love my cat (because he is definitely my cat). I’m ever so grateful that Jonny found us as a family and that we took out pet insurance as it has been invaluable thanks to his adventures!

petplansparkle

The actual Sparkle!

I’ve learnt more about Petplan as a result of this campaign: They work with more animal rehoming charities than any other pet insurance provider and are committed to supporting charities and the vital work they do. They work with more than 1,200 charities throughout the UK and in 1994, formed the Petplan Charitable Trust which has so far raised more than £7million towards a better, healthier world for animals.

This has been a lovely post to write and i’m quite proud to recommend PetPlan here on this blog, this post has been made possible thanks to them but all the thoughts are my own