Wednesday, 20 March 2019

A family of glasses wearers

A couple of weeks ago, a trip to the optician revealed something that wasn't entirely unexpected - Mia now joins the rest of us in needing to wear glasses pretty much all the time.

I was about Mia's age when I got my first pair of glasses and I remember it being quite an unusual thing then, I was definitely the only person in my class to wear them. It seems much more common these days, I don't know if parents are more likely to take their children to the opticians or whether an optician is more likely to give a child glasses even if they only have a slight prescription. Luckily Mia has been desperate for glasses for ages and she is thrilled, although I can't help being a bit disappointed for her - wearing glasses can be quite a pain sometimes!

We go to Specsavers for the children - they give you two pairs of glasses for children which is really handy, and they have a nice selection of free ones too. We've already managed to send her to school without them and temporarily leave them behind at the swimming pool! She had a great time picking out a pink and purple pair for home and a more muted pair to wear to school, and she takes great pride in cleaning them with the special cloth and putting them away safely in the case. Harry has also started wearing his glasses more, he is only supposed to need them for board work at school and for watching television, but he says that he finds it more comfortable to just wear them all the time.

I do think that the glasses suit her, and when she teams them with a headband like I used to wear sometimes I find it's like looking at a little version of myself!

So here we are, a family of glasses wearers!

Family wearing glasses selfie

Monday, 18 March 2019

Get Your Kids to Eat Anything by Emily Leary - book review

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for a review on my blog.

Get Your Kids to Eat Anything book review

Fussy eating is a bit of a problem in our family, and I'm fully prepared to admit that it's my fault. Although I started out well with lots of different foods, when they started to show food preferences, over time I ended up sticking with the things that I knew they would eat. My husband and I don't eat a very varied diet ourselves, usually eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch and rotating through a small number of evening meals, so as long as I'm covering all the food groups I tend to stick to the things that I know and can cook easily.

But now that the children are older and I have a little more time to spend thinking about and preparing meals, I'd love to introduce a bit more variety into our diets. In particular, as frequent travellers, it can become a problem when we want to eat out somewhere, and the children would rather simply not eat than try something new.

So I was very keen to try the new book Get Your Kids to Eat Anything by Emily Leary. Emily has been blogging at A Mummy Too since 2011, and her blog is a fantastic resource for family recipes, with plenty of vegetarian choices - I've used several of her recipes in the past! Get Your Kids to Eat Anything is a 5-Phase programme that aims to change the way your family thinks about food.

Phase 1 puts the unfamiliar into the familiar, working with the food that your children already eat happily and introducing some new elements. In Phase 2 you experiment with texture, taste and smell as well as understanding where food comes from and growing your own. Phase 3 helps you to discover the fun in food with some creative and exciting dishes, and Phase 4 pushes the food boundaries with some unusual flavour combinations. Finally in Phase 5 you learn techniques to make sure that these new habits stick and keep your family mealtimes varied long-term.

Each of these phases includes a clear explanation of what you will learn and achieve along with two weeks of delicious recipes and activities to try with your family.

It's early days yet, but I can really see how this approach is going to work. For example, my children eat a lot of pasta. In fact, they eat pasta for dinner most nights, rotating through a variety of sauces, perhaps with some peas on the side. I always use the same type of pasta - macaroni pasta - and I just get in the habit of chucking a couple of bags in my trolley each week. In Phase 1 you are encouraged to take a look at the food that your child will happily eat and think about different ways that you could vary that dish. Even something as simple as thinking about making the food a different shape, making a food a different colour, or adding a little extra flavour.

It might sound basic, but it's honestly something that I'd never thought about before. So the very first thing that I did was to buy a bag of pasta in a different shape and serve it with the same sauce - and they ate it all up without a fuss!

Healthy chocolate cookies

I've also been enjoying going through the recipe section and picking out a few to try. I couldn't resist trying the simple recipe for Healthier Chocolate Cookies above - with just a few simple ingredients they make a great, healthy alternative to a chewy bar or biscuit and were very quick to make. There's a huge selection of dinner recipes too, and being vegetarian I was really pleased to see how many suitable recipes there are, using a wide range of ingredients.

I have a full recipe from the book to share with you. This recipe for Strawberries and Cream Pasta comes from Phase 4, so it's a little ahead of us yet, but the reason that I chose it is that it is based around a cheese sauce, which I can make easily and my children eagerly eat, but with a bit of a twist - roasted strawberries, again a fruit that my children love but served in a different way. Enjoy!

Strawberries and Cream Pasta 


Strawberries and Cream pasta recipe by Emily Leary
Photo credit - Tom Regester
SERVES 4 PREP TIME: 15 MINS • COOK TIME: 30 MINS

For the balsamic strawberries 

300g (10½oz) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

For the pasta

180g (6oz) butternut squash
300g (10½oz) macaroni
30g (1oz) plain flour
30g (1oz) slightly salted butter
450ml (16fl oz) whole milk
30g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, or vegetarian alternative,
Finely grated salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F), 180C fan, Gas Mark 6. Place the strawberries on a baking tray, season well with pepper, then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Stir, then place in the oven for about 15 minutes until the glaze bubbles. Set aside to cool.

Put the butternut squash into a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10–15 minutes until tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, then drain.

Put the flour, butter and milk into a saucepan and place over a medium heat, whisking regularly for 5–10 minutes until thickened, then season. Tip the squash, Parmesan and white sauce into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Stir the hot, drained pasta into the sauce. Divide equally between 4 bowls, top with the strawberries and serve.

Get Your Kids to Eat Anything: The 5-phase programme to change the way your family thinks about food by Emily Leary, is published by Mitchell Beazley in March 2019, RRP £16.99

Monday, 11 March 2019

How to make a simple Egyptian costume for a child

Simple child Egyptian costume tutorial

This term my daughter's class assembly is based around her Egyptian topic, so I thought I'd share how we made this simple Egyptian costume for her to wear.

I'm a big fan of basing a costume around a pillowcase. Since I made our shepherd's outfit from a pillowcase, that particular brown pillowcase has been reused twice as a Stone Age costume and also as a Viking outfit. I've now added a white pillowcase outfit to our collection - it was initially used as a Greek costume and has now been recycled to fit in with our Egypt theme. All you need to do is cut a hole in the top for the neck and two holes at the sides for the arms. For the purpose of modesty, Mia is wearing a white t-shirt and white shorts underneath!

Homemade Egyptian costume for a child

The look is completed with a ribbon around the waist, a headband, some cuffs, and a wide necklace. Here's how we put together the accessories:

Headband

This headband is available to download from the Twinkl website here - Egyptian Snake Headband. It's a premium resource so you'll need a subscription to download, or else you could make something similar with gold cardboard and gems. It's easy to put together - you just print it out in colour and fold and glue it together.

Twinkl Egyptian headband to print

Cuffs

To make the cuffs we used cardboard tubes with a slit down the side and shortened slightly to fit Mia's wrists. The cuffs were painted with gold acrylic paint, then a coating of glitter paint was added. We used Glu Dots to stick some plastic gems around the sides, then I threaded some elastic through so that they can be removed easily and stay in place for her Egyptian dancing.

Homemade Egyptian wrist cuffs

Necklace

The necklace is made from a piece of gold glittered card, cut to size and shaped to fit around the neck. The blue stripes are made from shiny blue paper glued in place, and then it's decorated with plastic gems, again stuck down using Glu Dots. I used a hole punch to make holes in the top of the necklace and then threaded some string through so that it can be tied at the back of the neck.

Egyptian necklace craft for a costume

I think that she definitely looks the part!

As a Twinkl blogger I've been provided with a Twinkl subscription in exchange for sharing their resources on my blog and social media.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

World Book Day 2019

I love World Book Day. I know that not everyone is a fan of the costumes, but I love scrolling through my social feeds on World Book Day and seeing all the children dressed up, whether it's a shop bought costume or one that has been painstakingly homemade.

I was really pleased with the costumes that my children chose this year, not necessarily because of the creative skill involved, but because both costumes reflect the books that they are really enjoying at the moment.

Mia is currently working her way through the Harry Potter books, and I'm very proud of her because up until a year or so ago she was quite a reluctant reader and found it difficult to move onto more challenging chapter books. She is loving Harry Potter and seems to have a really good understanding of the story (although she's seen the films too which I'm sure helps!). She's taken a quiz somewhere which has sorted her into Hufflepuff house, so we bought her some Hufflepuff robes. The costume came with a notebook cover, and she's found a notebook to put inside which she's filled with handwritten spells and illustrations!

World Book Day costumes - Hogwarts and Percy Jackson

Harry was introduced to the Percy Jackson books at school last term, and since then he has devoured every book that he can find by Rick Riordan. We bought him one series of the books to take on holiday, and as soon as he'd finished them he started them again. There is something about them that has really struck a chord which is wonderful to see! For his costume, he already owns a Camp Half-Blood t-shirt, an important location in the stories, and a Camp Half-Blood medallion necklace. He teamed it with trousers and a pen which is apparently a sword in disguise. A super simple costume!

I love that their costumes were such a snapshot of their current reading obsessions!

Friday, 8 March 2019

Trees you can use to create a stunning centrepiece for your garden

This is a collaborative post

My recent Dubai trip included a visit to the beautiful Miracle Gardens. To say it was stunning is an understatement. It is amazing what they have done with plants and trees. My camera was going constantly and it was almost impossible to take everything in.

Now that I am home, I have decided to write one of my rare gardening posts. The other day I was looking at The Tree Center website and was stunned by how many different varieties were available for homeowners to buy. There are plenty that are small enough to use in your own garden to create interest and provide your family with something beautiful to look at year round. Below are some of my favourites, all of which you can use to create stunning centrepieces for your garden.

Stunning Red Maples 

The first one I am going to suggest may be a little big for use as a centrepiece for a family garden. Although it can be pruned to keep it relatively small, unfortunately that will ruin the structure of the branches and so in the winter it may not look that great. But if you have space, this is a good choice.

Red maple tree leaves against sky
Photo credit Ian Matyssik via Unsplash

Using crab apples as garden centrepieces 

Crab apples are nice looking trees. In the spring you benefit from a proliferation of lovely soft blossom followed by beautiful bright leaves, and by the summer you can also enjoy the lovely looking fruit. If you really want to, you can use some varieties to make crab apple jam. It is not to everyone’s taste, but it makes for an interesting addition to all kinds of meals.

Redbud trees 

The Redbud is another flowering tree, with the added benefit that in the autumn you get to enjoy the golden yellow heart-shaped leaves. It will thrive in a sunny spot.

Crape Myrtle 

If you would like a tree that flowers twice a year, the crape myrtle is for you. Many varieties also have interesting foliage that goes through a series of colour changes.

Flowering dogwoods

These trees do well in shady positions. So it is an especially good choice for urban gardens where the shadow from buildings and neighbour’s hedges can make it difficult to grow other varieties. Again, you are treated to several different displays from this tree. In the spring, every inch is covered in tiny flowers. By late summer, you get the bright red fruit. As the autumn wears on, you can enjoy the purple-red foliage.

Photo credit Rebecca Malone via Unsplash

Tree buying checklist 

Hopefully, the above suggestions will inspire you to go out and buy a tree for your garden. But before you do so, it is wise to go online and find yourself a good tree buying checklist or tree finder wizard. Doing this is the best way to ensure that you do not inadvertently end up buying a tree that is not suitable for your garden. They are not cheap and digging up and disposing of a tree once it has matured is not easy.

This is a collaborative post

Monday, 4 March 2019

Mini Hama bead heart pin badges tutorial

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

DIY Hama bead heart pin badges

A little while ago I made some mini Hama bead hearts using tiny mini Hama beads, and this week I finally decided what to use them for - some heart pin badges!

Here's how I made them:

To make the mini Hama bead hearts

Mini Hama beads are tiny, and can be a bit daunting to work with at first. I used the beads in a selection of red and pinks on the square board as below and placed them on the board using tweezers. You can see a video of my technique below.

Mini Hama beads used to make hearts on peg board

When ironing the beads you need to be very careful as they don't require as much ironing as the larger beads, just a few seconds on each side.

Mini Hama bead heart craft

Here's a video showing how they were made:


To assemble the badges

To make the badges you will need some pin badge backing pieces. I bought these ones - Butterfly clutch pins for jewellery making (affiliate link) which were reasonably priced and work well. They come in two parts - a pin which is affixed to the back of the heart, and a backing piece which clips on when you are ready to wear or display the badge.

Pin backs for crafting

You need to use a strong glue to fix the backing pins to the Hama bead hearts. I used Bostik Fix & Flash as I had some leftover from a previous collaboration, but any kind of strong superglue would work well. Hama beads can sometimes be tricky to glue as the plastic they are made from can be a little soft, but the smaller beads seem to be firmer once ironed and stick better.

Sticking a pin back to make your own pin badge

Depending on the glue that you use you may need to wait for it to dry, and then your pins are ready to wear!

Make your own pin badges

These little badges would make a lovely Valentine's gift for children to give out to their friends. And now I've discovered how easy these pin badge backs are to use I'm thinking of lots of other crafts that I can use them for!

Tutorial - mini Hama bead heart pins




This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden review

One of the highlights on our recent trip to Dubai was a visit to the Dubai Miracle Garden. The Dubai Miracle Garden is a beautiful garden filled with colourful flowers (150 million of them!) forming arches, patterns, and all sorts of shapes. Among many other displays, you can currently see a Disney floral character display, a life-size Emirates A380 plane, a 12 metre high teddy bear and a huge variety of different creatures brought to life through the medium of flowers.

Dubai Miracle Garden floral palm trees

The gardens are arranged in a circle. Shops and restaurants are situated around the outside, with decorated walkways leading towards the lake in the middle. There are plenty of focal points, like a small castle which housed the prettiest Starbucks I've ever seen!

Dubai Miracle Garden swinging seats

There are also lots of places to sit around the gardens in the shade and soak up the atmosphere, we all loved these huge swinging seats where you can lie comfortably! There are also lots of hammocks and chairs and tables to sit and enjoy a drink or snack.

Dubai Miracle Garden flower view

If you enjoy photography you are spoiled for choice when it comes to backdrops, it's definitely a very instagrammable spot!

Girl in the Dubai Miracle Garden

It was a perfect family outing - lots to see to keep the children interested, and plenty of places to sit and rest when it got a bit too hot and tiring.

Family sitting in the Dubai Miracle Garden

We really enjoyed our visit here and I'd definitely recommend going if you are in the area! Here are some of my favourite photos:

Dubai Miracle Garden collage of favourite photos

Visitor tips:

Dubai Miracle Garden is closed over the summer months for renovation so check dates on the website here - Dubai Miracle Garden. It will be open from mid-November to mid-May.

We travelled from our hotel in central Dubai by Uber and returned by local taxi, with the local taxi price working out slightly cheaper. There were plenty of taxis waiting outside at the exit. We purchased our entry tickets when we arrived and there was no queue. At the time of our visit the entry price was 50AED for an adult and 40AED for a child - about £37 at the current exchange rate for our family of two adults and two children.

You can spend as long as you like in the gardens, our visit lasted about 2 hours but would have been longer if we'd stopped for something to eat or drink. Although it can be hot in the sun, there are plenty of shady areas to sit and rest. There are also plenty of shops selling refreshments, covering a variety of different cuisines, and places to sit and eat your own snacks.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Our family holiday to Dubai

We've just returned from an amazing week in Dubai over the February half term, and I thought that I'd share some of our highlights!

We spent our first three nights at Atlantis The Palm which is situated at the top of The Palm Jumeirah, a huge artificial palm shaped development off the Dubai coast. Then we spent the following three nights at the Address Hotel, Dubai Mall which is in a much more central position and ideal for sightseeing.

Atlantis The Palm

The Atlantis Hotel really is an amazing hotel, and the decor is absolutely stunning.

Atlantis The Palm lobby glass sculpture

As a resident of the hotel you can enjoy unlimited access to the Lost Chambers Aquarium. We enjoyed it so much that we went every evening, which was a great time to visit as it wasn't too busy. As well as being a home for fish and other sea life, it's themed around the lost city of Atlantis myth which really made it unique. It's filled with models of technology from Atlantis, like communication devices and diving gear, along with explanatory panels - Harry enjoyed looking at all this as much as the fish!

Dubai Lost Kingdom Aquarium tank view

The large aquarium tank forms a central part of the hotel itself, with restaurants and even hotel rooms which have an aquarium wall. Our room was situated above the tank which was beautiful by night as the sharks and rays circled around, and during the day you could watch people diving and snorkelling from above.

Atlantis The Palm view down into aquarium

Residents can also enjoy unlimited access to the Aquaventure Water Park. We are all a bit timid when it comes to fast water rides, but we loved going around the Lazy River on a rubber ring, which isn't lazy at all as the slow stretches are interspersed with splashy rapids sections. There's also a brilliant tube ride where you are taken through a tunnel inside a fish tank.

The hotel has two large swimming pools with plenty of areas to sit and soak up the sunshine. We also spent some time on the beach, although after Mia came running up shrieking having accidentally touched a dead jellyfish that was lying on the sand we were a bit wary of going in the water, and in fact when we had a proper look we realised that there were actually rather a few swimming past. They were dark blue and easy to spot, and the lifeguards didn't seem worried, but it did put me off going in for a paddle after that!

Atlantis The Palm viewed from beach, Dubai

The Address Hotel, Dubai Mall

The only disadvantage of the Atlantis is that you feel very removed from the rest of Dubai, and it's quite a wrench to make the effort to leave it. So I was glad that we had another three nights booked elsewhere and had the chance to see some of the other sights! The Address Hotel was also lovely. We were upgraded to an apartment as there was a delay to check in, so we had a room with kitchen on the 38th floor - a height which made me a little nervous but which had an amazing view right out to the Burj Khalifa!

The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, although I'm not sure how much longer it will be able to claim the title as buildings are getting taller and taller! You need to book tickets in advance, especially if you want to visit at a popular time like sunset, and there is a lot of queuing to get up to the top and then back down again.

View from Burj Khalifa, Dubai

But the views really are amazing from the top and there is plenty to see. We were lucky to choose a clear day to visit and we could see back out to Atlantis and admire all the other high rise structures in the air. We even saw the Dubai Fountains from above!

View from top of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai

We spent a lot of time watching the Dubai Fountains, which really are spectacular. During the evening they run every half an hour, and although the area directly outside the Dubai Mall was very busy it doesn't take long to walk around to find a quieter spot. There are also several restaurants with good views. Buying a ticket to the Burj Khalifa gives you access to a large floating viewing platform which had a great view. We spent two evenings wandering around, punctuated with stops to see the fountain shows.

Dubai Mall fountains at night

The Dubai Mall contains many attractions. Because of our delayed hotel check in we were given complimentary tickets to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo which was also very good, the aquarium itself isn't huge and you can see a lot of it for free from the mall, but the Underwater Zoo had some interesting exhibits, and not all sea life related.

We were also given a few free tickets to VR Park Dubai, a massive Virtual Reality theme park. I've never experienced virtual reality before and it was amazing, although quite intense. This is me finding my way around a labyrinth to shoot skeletons and defeat the minotaur!

VR Park Dubai action shot

We took a trip out to visit the Dubai Miracle Gardens which was a definite highlight of the holiday. It's a flower garden just outside the city centre, with some beautiful flower sculptures and shady areas for relaxing. I enjoyed it so much that I'll be blogging about it separately - I have some beautiful photos to share!

Miracle Gardens, Dubai flowers

Finally we took a trip out one evening to Dubai Festival City, another shopping mall which features a nightly laser light and fountain projection show. There was also a special pirate themed play area and sand pit for the children along with restaurants.

One thing that particularly struck me about Dubai was the number of people (mainly young ladies) posing for instagrammable shots at every opportunity. In fact I got quite annoyed when people kept asking the children to move out of their way in the aquarium so that they could take the perfect picture. But I couldn't help getting Harry to recreate one of the poses I'd seen in front of this large curved screen in the Dubai Mall!

Instagram poses in Dubai

We had a lovely week in Dubai and saw and did so much, we really did have an amazing time!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Disney Cruise craft ideas

One of the things that I love about cruising with Disney is how you can add some magical extras to your cruise. Preparing for the cruise is also a great way to show off your crafty side. I've been blogging about some of the things that I've made in preparation for our cruise later this year, and so I thought I'd round them all up together in one place in case anyone is looking for some inspiration.

The largest thing that I've made for our Disney cruise is our Fish Extender. This is a hanging organiser with pockets which is hung outside the stateroom door. It's used for an organised gift exchange, where you swap gifts as part of a group with your fellow cruisers. To make it I made front pieces from felt for each of us. It has a Moana theme, with progression from under the sea to the sky and a line from the song embroidered onto each pocket.

Fish Extender for a Disney cruise

As well as signing up for a Fish Extender gift exchange I've also signed up for an ornament exchange. This is an exchange to swap Christmas ornaments amongst a group of cruisers. They can be Disney themed, cruised themed, be themed to where you live or have no theme. I decided to make some mini felt stockings. Many of our fellow cruisers will be from the US so I'm going to put a small Cadbury's chocolate bar inside each one, then I'll package them in a Christmas themed bag with some Mickey Mouse head confetti and Christmas ribbon.

Disney themed homemade Christmas ornaments

On our last cruise I enjoyed trading pins with people via boards on their stateroom doors, so I have made a fabric hanging pin trading board for our own door. I've bought a bulk lot of Disney trading pins from eBay, some of them will be used as Fish Extender gifts and the others will be left on the door for people to trade. Obviously there is a risk involved with this, I hope that most people at least will leave a pin in return if they take one! I may bring it inside the room overnight, and if I lose too many I'll take it down! We are going on a Halloween cruise, hence the pumpkin theming!

Disney pin fabric trading board

Finally another way to share treats with my fellow cruisers is with this hanging treat holder. The thin fabric pockets can be used to hold lollipops, pencils, glow sticks...and I also have some plastic spiders that I will hang from the pencils. I've heard that these holders can be emptied very quickly so it may only last a day or two as I don't have the budget or luggage space to pack hundreds of treats!

Disney cruise stateroom treat holder

I still have more crafting in mind for the cruise. I want to make some bookmarks and magnets like the ones below that I made for our last cruise. I already have laminate sheets and magnets so they won't cost me much to make, and the children and I really enjoyed distributing them around the ship. I'll also be making more magnets to decorate our stateroom door, which is a big thing on the Disney ships.

Disney cruise homemade magnets for Pixie Dust

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Visiting Rome with Children

This is a collaborative post

In 2015, we were lucky enough to enjoy a day in Rome. We were on a cruise which stopped off at Civitavecchia, from which you can get to the city, relatively easily, and we had a great day. So, I thought I would do a bit of research and come up with a few suggestions to help you to plan a few days there with children.

Introduce them to a little culture 

Rome has been a centre of culture for hundreds of years. So it is a great place to introduce your kids to the arts. While staying there you and your children can enjoy classical concerts, the ballet and operas, which you can find out more about here.

Each year, various performance groups put on special shows that are specifically designed for young fans. They are well worth checking out if you have fairly young children, for them sitting still for a full performance may be too challenging. The older they get the more likely it is that they will enjoy a full-length opera or ballet.

Visit the Colosseum and the Forum 

Both of these places are different enough for kids to enjoy visiting them. There are plenty of tours you could take. But, it might be best to download a guide and make your way around at a pace that suits you and your kids the best.

Family visit to Rome

Join the Gladiator school 

For adults and older kids the gladiator school is a fantastic activity. Kids as young as 6 can participate, but, you have to bear in mind that this is a fight-focused school. The idea is you have fun while you learn about the gladiators of Rome and how they used to live. You can find out more and work out whether this is a good option for your family by clicking here.

Learn to make pizza with your kids 

If you love pizza, why not attend a pizza making dinner. It is a fun and interesting way to sort out a meal for the day. Several of the city’s restaurants offer you the chance to learn how to make pizza the traditional way. Many of them welcome kids, but you will need to ask what the age or height limit is before booking.

Gelato tasting tour 

While we are on the subject of food, a gelato tasting tour is another excellent idea. A lot of these tours take place in the early evening making them a great way to round off the day.

Climb St. Peter’s Dome 

If you really want to make sure the kids are tired enough for bed let them climb the 551 steps to the top of St Peter’s Dome. The view from the top is amazing. If that seems too much, consider taking the lift, instead. It reaches about halfway up the dome, leaving you with fewer steps to climb.

Visit the Trevi Fountain 

No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain. It is fun for both kids and adults to throw money in and make a wish. Just be sure to have some low-value coins in your pocket. If you do not do so, following this special custom could work out expensive.

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Photo credit Christopher Czermak via Unsplash

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

How to make mini peg photo holders

This is a collaborative post with Bostik

This month for Bostik I've been trying out Bostik Fix & Flash, a very strong glue which is activated by light. I used it to make some peg holders to display photographs or postcards. Here's how I made them:

Mini peg photo holders tutorial

You need:

Bostik Fix & Flash glue
Mini wooden pegs
A wooden skewer
A large button or similar for the base
Acrylic paint (optional)

Bostik Fix & Flash glue in packaging


Instructions:

Assemble everything that you need. I cut down my skewer to a length of about 10cm and sanded the ends flat.

How to make mini peg photo holders

Use the Bostik Fix & Flash to glue the pieces together. Bostik Fix & Flash is a very strong glue that is activated using the LED light which is contained within the glue pen. First you need to apply the glue to one of the surfaces, then make sure that you are happy with the positioning of your items. Press the light on the bottom of the pen to turn it on, and direct it towards the glue for 10-15 seconds.

How to use Bostik Fix & Flash strong glue for crafting

The glue will dry clear within seconds, creating an extremely strong bond between the surfaces.

Bostik Fix & Flash craft - mini peg photo holders

If you wish, you can use acrylic paints to paint the stick and peg. I used silver paint on one of my peg photo holders. Here they are, ready for display!

Mini peg photo holders with Bostik

Bostik Fix & Flash will create a strong adhesive bond on all sorts of surfaces. I've also used it to repair plastic toys and a metal keyring and have been very impressed with how well it sticks.

Bostik Fix & Flash can be purchased in Hobbycraft.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

A Fish Extender for a Disney Cruise with a Moana theme

On our Disney cruise later this year, for the first time I've signed up to take part in a Fish Extender gift exchange. This is a fun organised exchange of small gifts that takes place on a Disney cruise, and is usually organised through the Facebook group for your sailing. We'll be placed in a group with a number of other families and will exchange gifts with them, either one gift for the cabin or individual gifts per person. I won't get my final group details for a few months yet so it's too early for me to be thinking about what gifts to give, so I decided to concentrate on making the actual Fish Extender which will hang outside our stateroom door.

I didn't feel up to making my Fish Extender from scratch, so I purchased this Four pocket hanging organiser (affiliate link) from Amazon to decorate. After consultation with the children we decided to go with a Moana theme, and this is what I came up with!

Fish Extender made from Amazon organiser and felt

For each of the four pockets I made a felt front piece. My concept is that Mia's pocket is under the sea, and Harry's pocket represents the waves on the surface of the sea. My pocket is the beach, and Ram's pocket is the sky. Each pocket has a line from the song embroidered on it - "See the line, where the sky, meets the sea, it calls me". To embroider the text I traced it from my computer screen onto tissue paper, sewed over the paper on the felt, then removed the tissue paper to leave the embroidery. It's a bit wobbly, but I think that it works! All the other pieces are cut from felt and stitched in place.

Felt Fish Extender name labels in progress

Here are the four completed panels. I also used some beads for the coral on Mia and a couple of felt stickers. I used spray adhesive to stick the panels to the organiser, with a little bit of fabric glue down the edges to make sure it was all firmly in place.

Moana themed name labels for Fish Extender

It turned out quite a bit larger than I was expecting, but I've checked the measurements and it should still fit. I've used Halloween ribbon to hang it as we are going on a Halloween on the High Seas cruise, and I'm also going to add a few Halloween embellishments to it before we go. I have some Halloween tinsel that I can tack around the edge, and some large pumpkin stickers. 

I had a lot of fun making it!

Disney Cruise Fish Extender with Moana theme

I love having an upcoming cruise that I can craft for, and I'm busy researching ideas for things that I can make as actual Fish Extender gifts!

Felt name labels for Disney Cruise Fish Extender

You might also like to see some of the other crafts that I've been working on ahead of our cruise:




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