Monday, 12 March 2018

Blog post ideas for Spring

I'm definitely starting to feel that Spring is on the way. After some freezing temperatures it seems to be slightly milder, and there are plenty of Spring flowers popping up. I especially love seeing the mornings and evenings get lighter! So I thought I'd share some Spring themed blog post ideas, to help fill those editorial calendars over the next few months.

Blog post ideas for Spring

* Ten things that you love about Spring. I love making lists, and choosing your favourite things always makes you feel lovely and positive!

* Do a garden update to start the year - what is growing in the garden at the moment, what signs of Spring are there?

* What are your garden plans for the year? If you don't have a garden perhaps you are growing things on the windowsill, or you have an allotment, or a garden of a friend or family member that you can share.

* Do you have a vegetable patch? What will you be planting and growing this year?

* Write about a walk that you take regularly, for example the school run or the walk to work, and take photos of the changes that you can see. This is a good one to update throughout the year as we go through the seasons.

* Do you Spring clean the house? Why, or why not?

* Do you have any Spring cleaning tips or hacks to share?

* What other things do you Spring clean? For example, do you Spring clean your blog?

* What is happening locally? For example Farmer's Markets, open lambing at local farms, Easter Egg hunts. If you visit something you could write an individual review, or list a roundup of activities, perhaps themed by type, location or audience.

* Share a Spring or Easter themed craft - whether it's something to do with the children or decor for your home.

* Share a seasonal recipe or two.

* How are your New Year's Resolutions going? Share an update, and if they've fallen by the wayside make plans to get back on track.

* Look ahead to the summer holidays, what do you have planned?

* Have you made any seasonal purchases lately? Share your favourites in a blog or vlog.

* Do you pack away your warm jumpers and coats for the winter? What new seasonal clothing have you bought so far?

* Share some Spring flowers that you've bought recently - I know that I can never resist those £1 bunches of daffodils!

* Does what you eat and drink change as the weather gets warmer?

* How does your routine change as Spring arrives? Do you spend more time outdoors, find it easier to exercise, go to bed later?

* If you've been having a Spring declutter or clearout, share some of the treasures that you've discovered - old school work, sticker collections, sentimental items.

* How do you know that Spring has arrived? For me I think it's the smell of freshly cut grass and a feeling of warmth in the air!

I hope I've inspired you!

If you've enjoyed these ideas and you are thinking even further ahead, you might also like my other seasonal themed blog post ideas lists:

Blog post ideas for Summer
Blog post ideas for Autumn
Blog post ideas for Winter
Blog post ideas for Christmas

Photo credit - Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash

Friday, 9 March 2018

Decorative bird planter sticks

Bird themed planter sticks craft

This month, the theme for my Bostik box of craft materials was flying, and so having spotted some colourful feathers and pointy sticks in the box, I decided to make some bird themed decorative planter sticks for my houseplants. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the video tutorial.

How to make bird planter sticks for houseplants

To make the bird planter sticks you need:

Thick cardboard (I used corrugated cardboard from a box)
Wooden skewers
Paint or coloured pens
Strong tape
Googly eyes
Coloured paper
Embellishments - sequins, buttons, doilies etc.
Bostik White Glu
Blu Tack Micro Dots

Birds on wooden sticks craft

You can see how I made them in the video tutorial below:

The box of craft materials was provided to me free of charge by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostik Craft Bloggers Club.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

What I love and loathe about Facebook

I joined Facebook in April 2007. It was just after our wedding, and friends and relatives were sending me notifications that they had shared photos there. I didn't do a lot with it back then, before smartphones it wasn't as easy to share photos and I didn't feel that I needed to find old friends. Besides, not many people were on it back then anyway. After the wedding photos there are a few updates from our honeymoon, a few excited updates as friends started appearing, the sharing of an old school photo and birthday greetings.

I didn't get into using Facebook regularly until I started my blog in 2009. I realised it might be an idea to make a Facebook page, and I also heard on Twitter about Facebook blogging groups that I thought it might be worth joining. I went a bit mad adding loads of other bloggers, and I found that they were all busy away over there sharing their posts and chatting. It was quite overwhelming at first as I wasn't used to so much activity, I remember I didn't know what the etiquette was when it came to liking posts and comments!

Recently I decided that I was getting a little bit too addicted to my phone, and Facebook in particular. I have a lot of friends, I follow a lot of pages, and there is always something new to distract me which in all honesty adds very little value to my life. Stepping back a bit has made me see Facebook in a new light, and I thought I'd share a list of the things that I love and loathe about Facebook.

I Love...

Keeping up with friends. I love seeing holiday photos, day out photos and photos of every day life. I like seeing what people are doing, being inspired by places to visit or activities to try.

Seeing achievements. I love seeing little ones being awarded Star of the Week, people running marathons or even just going for a jog around the block, crafty projects people have worked on.

Feeling connected to people. Receiving a comment or even just a like on one of my photos reminds me of a friend, and if it's from someone I've not spoken to in a while it may inspire me to follow up with them.

Interesting articles that pop up from time to time. Every now and then I'll read an article either from a page I follow or shared by a friend that really resonates with me and makes me think it was worth the read.

All the different groups. I try to limit it but I'm in quite a few groups for my various interests and hobbies as well as for local affairs. I love having somewhere that I can get inspiration, keep up to date with news and ask questions.

I Loathe...

That I can open up the app just to quickly check my notifications and before I know it half an hour has gone by.

Those click bait articles that I can't resist. I'm a particular sucker for the photograph ones - '16 pics that require a second look' type things. I've tried clicking on the 'hide' button at the side but they keep coming from different sources.

The fact that the interesting articles that do pop up from time to time are hidden amongst so much that isn't interesting to me.

All the groups that I can't make myself leave because I'm worried about missing something. I'm in several groups on the same topic that cover the same themes and even though there is so much overlap I just can't decide which ones to leave.

Finding myself reaching for my phone and opening Facebook whenever I have a spare few minutes, I need to learn to curb the impulse!

Feeling inadequate. I'm quite good at remembering that Facebook isn't real life. But there have been occasions where I've been a little envious of people's mad social lives as they are out and about checking in to exciting places with lots of friends. I need to remind myself that I very rarely check myself in anywhere, and that just because something isn't on Facebook doesn't mean that it didn't happen!

Facebook open on phone
Photo credit - William Iven via Unsplash

One surprising thing that I found when I stopped checking Facebook so regularly was that the less I checked it, the less I felt the urge to. It's almost as though I was carrying half finished conversations from groups or general newsfeed chat around in my head, and by checking in throughout the day I was trying to keep caught up with everything. Once I cut down to just checking once or twice, I could see completed discussions, not every single comment or update. The algorithm also changed based on my usage to show me more from actual friends and family. I started to get little summary updates from groups in my newsfeed, which had never shown up when I was regularly popping in and out. And I found that I didn't miss anything at all, a quick check from time to time was enough to keep me caught up.

I'm hoping that I can move forward with a much healthier Facebook relationship!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Review - Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger

This week I've been very much enjoying completing the Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger. This 1000 piece puzzle is a complex design featuring all sorts of different crafty bits and pieces, and as you can imagine it's right up my street!

Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle review

This is one of Ravenburger's 'Perplexing Puzzles' - a series of photographic puzzles with themed and incredibly intricate images for you to piece together. Make it Medley features beads, sequins, threads, cotton reels, feathers and lots more, beautifully arranged with lots of little details to find.

Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle review

Although billed as perplexing I didn't find the puzzle too difficult. I do have a brilliant jigsaw board which makes sorting the pieces very easy, but because the puzzle has lots of distinctive sections it was quite easy to work out where a piece went. This made putting the puzzle together a real pleasure - there were plenty of smaller areas that I could work on at a time with really interesting colours and textures.

Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle review

 I really enjoyed completing this puzzle, and it would make a great gift for the crafty person in your life!

Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw puzzle review

I received this jigsaw puzzle in exchange for a review.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Twinkl Green Week 2018

From the 5th to 11th March 2018, Twinkl will be holding Twinkl Green Week, an event aimed at supporting educators and children to think about environmental issues, and how they can take positive steps to lessen their carbon footprint and be more green.

Twinkl have provided a wide range of resources for subscribers which aim to teach children about a range of important enviromental issues, including plastic, recycling, reusing, reducing and endangered animals. Many of these resources are themed to tie in with the new eBook The Messy Magpie which can be found here - The Messy Magpie eBook. The book introduces us to Morris the Magpie as he discovers the damage that his habit of collecting rubbish has caused to his forest, and follows along with him as he learns about recycling.

My children both loved reading the book and I printed them out some of the related activities. When it comes to printing, Twinkl provide ink saving alternatives which save both ink and money and I always choose these as there is only a slight difference in quality which makes no difference to us. Also, many of the resources are provided as digital Powerpoint presentations which require no printing at all for classroom use.

Twinkl The Messy Magpie board game

While the story was still fresh in our minds we started with the Messy Magpie Board Game. It's a simple game to play, you just need to work your way around the board to the recycling centre. But on the way you need to answer some questions about the story, a great way to test reading comprehension and make the game more competitive!

Harry has been learning about grid references at school, so I was pleased to find these Messy Magpie Grid References Activity Sheets. Children need to go to each grid reference and colour in the square accordingly. Harry's not normally one for colouring, but he loved the challenge of working out what colour he needed to use.

Twinkl Green Week resources

Mia on the other hand loves colouring, so I printed her some colour by number sheets based on simple sums which were just the right level for her. We started with the Addition Facts up to 20 Maths Mosaic Activity Sheet and she was delighted to watch the picture take shape.

Twinkl educational resources for Green Week

We also have the Subtraction Facts up to 20 Maths Mosaic Activity Sheet ready for another day, and she requested the Messy Magpie Word Search which contains lots of related words, great to keep little ones occupied for a few minutes.

Twinkl resources for teaching about the environment

There are so many resources that there is sure to be something to suit your child's current interest or support a topic that they are learning about at school. For example, Harry has shown quite an interest in recycling recently, so he was really interested in this Recycling Symbol Detectives Activity Sheet which can be used to identify products around the house that are suitable for recycling.

You can find all the resources here - Twinkl Green Awareness Week, and although these resources require a subscription to download there will also be some free resources released through the week.

I am a Twinkl blogger and have been provided with a Platinum subscription.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

World Book Day 2018

I do love World Book Day - it can be a bit of a hassle coming up with a costume, but luckily these days the children have ideas of their own as to what they'd like to be! I insist that they dress up as an actual book character from a book that they've read, and preferably own. I also like to spend as little money as possible!

This year, Harry decided that he wanted to be George from George's Marvellous Medicine, which he has read several times and recently had been reading to Mia. 'Excellent' I thought! He already went as George once before at his old school, and you can't really think of a much easier costume, all that is required are normal clothes along with a bottle of medicine and a spoon. But with the weather being so cold this week the children were urged to dress appropriately for the temperatures, and inspired by his cousin dressing as a unicorn in her unicorn onesie I remembered the random wolf onesie that we bought years ago in the sales. It's a little tight on him now but he was desperate to wear it so I dug out my old Ladybird Red Riding Hood and he went along as the Wolf, he was lovely and snug.

World Book Day costumes for children

My friend suggested Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy from the prolific Rainbow Magic series as a costume for Mia, having bought her the book for her birthday. Mia was thrilled at the suggestion, although the outfit did cause us a few arguments. She doesn't currently have a pink dress in her wardrobe, and the bad weather meant we had to cancel a planned shopping trip. I pulled out a lovely spotty pink T-shirt which she wanted to wear with white tights. I had to be a little strict and say that she couldn't go to school with her pants out on show, so we reluctantly compromised on some white shorts underneath to preserve her modesty. She refused to make any concession to the freezing temperatures apart from a little cardigan, so I packed her some warmer clothes in case she changed her mind once exposed to the outdoors at break time.

To accessories her costume I bought some cheap artificial roses from Hobbycraft to make her a little bouquet, some wide ribbon to sew a bow for around her chest, and I painted a thin stick silver for the wand. She refused a flower for her hair and she wouldn't wear her fairy wings either, but luckily she was very pleased with her costume and wore it proudly.

What did your children dress up as this year? I'm always on the look out for ideas!

Friday, 2 March 2018

March - Lately I've been...

Thank goodness February was a much shorter month than January, that really was the month that I thought would never end! Life is a bit more back on track now which is good, and I'm hopeful that once this cold spell has finished we will start to see some warmer and more cheerful weather. I love Spring! So here's what I've been up to lately:

Thinking about

How cold it is! Unfortunately our boiler broke around the middle of the month and we were left without heating for ten of the coldest days of the year. We coped by just heating one room at a time using electric heaters, and keeping the doors shut and avoiding the other rooms as much as possible, all sleeping in one room at night. It was mostly fine, but towards the end we were getting pretty fed up. It was such a relief to have a nice new boiler and I'm really appreciating the lovely warmth, especially this week.


This month I've been alternating between two of my long term craft projects. The one that I've spent most time on has been my ABC Christmas sampler (affiliate link). I started in the middle, and I've now completed O for Ornaments, T for Tree, U for Unwrap and Y for Yule Log, with just the beads left to add. I've made a good start on S for Santa, and then I want to move on to X for Xtra Special, which will mean that a large section of the bottom left will be finished. I'm still keeping with my deadline of finishing by Christmas next year though, as I think that adding in the beads will take a bit of time and to count it as finished by Christmas this year I'd need to have it finished and framed by the end of November at the latest - I'm not sure that is realistic!

Christmas cross stitch sampler in progress

I've also been making very good progress on my Persian Tiles crochet blanket. I've finished six of the large octagons and five squares. So I have another ten octagons to complete, another four squares, twelve large and four small triangles, and then of course the border. I could finish it more quickly if I got on with it, but to be honest I'm rather enjoying working on it, and I don't want to rush it! I'm a lot more confident with the pattern for the octagons now, they look a lot more complicated than they actually are. They are full of mistakes, and I've done quite a bit of fudging in places to get the stitch counts right, but I'm hoping that because they are so detailed it will all look fine.


Thanks to recommendations from my Mum I've just started watching Inside No. 9 and Black Mirror. I like both series because each episode is independent from the others, so you don't need to remember any details from one to the next, and they've both entertained me not just during the watching but also given me things to think about afterwards.


I've been doing very well with cutting down a bit, I've not eaten nearly as many biscuits and I've also been avoiding crisps and chocolate for the last couple of weeks. I'm not doing so good at eating less cake though, I diverted Harry from his slime making to following some actual recipes and he has kept me supplied with homemade cake and biscuits.

Travelling to

Apart from a weekend in Warwick at the beginning of half-term I've not been out and about much. I never feel like going out unless it's necessary when it's so cold.


I had a good sort out of my bookcase recently and made sure that all my favourite fiction books are now prominently on display so that I can see them and pick them up. I'm currently re-reading Rebecca for probably the fifth or sixth time. I've also been browsing through some of my favourite decluttering books to remind myself of my more minimalist aspirations.


Now that YouTube has taken away my monetisation (you can find my channel here if you want to help me out! - Jennifer Jain) I've been feeling a bit deflated when it comes to making videos. It wasn't as though I earned a massive amount, but it was certainly an encouragement, and it feels like a shame because from time to time one of my videos actually does quite well, so I do feel as though some of my content at least has a value. I have another video which I need to finish editing and publishing, but I need to have a think about the sort of content that I want to produce, as it's all a bit of a mixture at the moment. And of course work on getting my subscriber number above that magic 1000.

Looking forward to

This term seems to have gone so quickly, it's a very short term. Over Easter we are returning to Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium for a week and I'm really looking forward to it. We love Center Parcs, and every time we go the children have increased their swimming confidence so they get so much more out of it. The activities at the parks abroad are so much more reasonably priced so we'll have a few things to do and I'm looking forward to spending lots of time together as a family.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Things to do in Kauai with the family

We visited Hawaii as a couple before we had children, and although it is a great place for a couples holiday there is also plenty to do to keep the children entertained. Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, with some amazing scenery and hidden beaches, as well as water activities, shopping and dining. I've picked out some of the best activities and attractions in Kauai if you are planning a trip with the family.

Things to do in Kauai with the family


If visiting with the family you'll probably want to stay on the more densely populated East Coast where you'll find a huge range of accommodation near to the family friendly beaches. There are lots of larger hotels and resorts, or you might prefer to look at some Kauai beach rentals. This would give you the option of self-catering, which always works well for us as our children are quite fussy and we never do all inclusive deals justice when it comes to the food and drink.

Getting around

Kauai is not very well served with public transport, and so travelling around the island with the family is much easier if you can rent a car. Although there are buses, the network doesn't cover all the main tourist spots, and it's much easier to explore further afield if you have your own transport. It's especially important when travelling with small children - you need more flexibility and can't spend too long waiting around for a bus. You also want to avoid too much walking to get to places.


Kauai is regarded as having more coastline filled with beaches than any of the other Hawaiian islands. With the family it's best to stick to the safer, more popular beaches, and you can find a list of the lifeguarded beaches on Kauai here. These beaches are located all around the island and will also usually have the facilities like toilets and showers which make a visit to the beach much easier with small children! Poipu Beach is particularly popular with families as it is a shallow sandy beach perfect for young children, and there is also a playground along with toilets and showers.

Although there are many hidden beaches around the island, make sure you are wary if you are tempted to visit a more secluded beach. Not all the beaches are safe for swimming and there can be dangerous rip currents and unexpected waves, definitely do some research before diving it.

Things to do with the family in Kauai
Photo credit Leo Rivas via Unsplash

Water activities

Children that are confident in the water will enjoy the chance to try out snorkelling. There are some reefs close to the shore, and Anini Beach in particular is excellent for snorkelling, although be aware that this isn't a lifeguarded beach. Poipu Beach also gives you the opportunity to see a wide variety of fish and turtles, although get there early before it gets too busy. If your children aren't confident swimmers then you could try a glass bottomed boat ride.

Turtle swimming in Hawaii
Photo credit Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Older and more adventurous children might also enjoy the chance to try kayaking, surfing or windsurfing amongst many other different activities, and there are lots of local companies which run different water activities around the island. I particularly love the look of a glass bottomed kayak tour, which even runs at night so that you can see the underwater world by darkness and is suitable for children aged three and over.

Na Aina Ka

Na Aina Ka is a botanical gardens and sculpture park. It can only be visited by tour, and if your children are aged 13 and under then you need to pre-arrange a children's tour which lasts about 2 hours. Tours can be booked in advance, or there may be space available on the day. Once a month the Children's Garden opens for Keiki Day which takes place on one selected Saturday per month and would be well worth a visit if it coincides with your stay. Find out more information here - Na Aina Ka.

Kauai Mini Golf

Kauai Mini Golf is in Kilauea at the north of the island. As well as a golf course it's also a botanical garden, and your journey around the holes takes you on a journey from the original native plants, through to plants introduced from various other countries, then on to the plants that you find in Hawaii today. The course is accompanied by water features, and nets are provided to fish out your mis-aimed balls.

Kilauea Point Lighthouse

You'll find Kilauea Point Lighthouse close to the Mini Golf, and it's a part of the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. This is a protected area for threatened and endangered species, and you can borrow some binoculars from the visitor centre to see them close up without disturbing them.

The Ke Ala Hele Makalae Coastal Path

This scenic coastal path runs along the east side of the island. It's a long, flat path along the coastline and is perfect to explore for all ages and abilities. The path is pushchair friendly for walking, or you can easily hire bikes. As well as beautiful scenery to enjoy you might also see dolphins, turtles or even seasonal humpback whales, and there are lots of places to stop for a picnic along the way.

Kauai Plantation Railway

At the Kilohana Plantation you can ride reproduction railway cars from the period of King Kalakaua on a 40 minute train ride through dense tropical forest, past plantation era houses and then into the working Kilohana Plantation with more than 50 fruits and vegetables, including many exotic varieties, and all narrated by a local guide. There's even a stop at the farmyard, with the opportunity to feed some of the animals including pigs, goats, sheep, cattle and horses.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is known as the 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific' and is adjacent to Kokee State Park on the west of the island. The canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep. There are a couple of short hikes which are suitable for young children. If you want to visit the canyon with small children you can find some really good advice here - Tips for a good family day trip to Waimea Canyon.

I hope that I've given you lots of ideas for things to do with the family in Kauai! If you are visiting Hawaii you might also enjoy this article - Reasons to book a family holiday to Hawaii - with plenty more inspiration!

This is a sponsored post. 

Main photo credit Alexey Marchenko via Unsplash.
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