Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let's Celebrate Christmas - Book Review

I was recently asked to review 'Let’s Celebrate Christmas Additive Free' by mum of 3 Melanie Avery, an additive free recipe book created for the festive season. Now to be honest reviewing a recipe book was pretty nerve wracking for me as I kind of avoid the kitchen at all costs and am also pretty clueless when it comes to additive free but I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the task.  Here's what I thought.  

 Let's Celebrate Christmas has a great introduction that covers some basic facts about additives, things to be aware of and also healthier alternatives to some common foods.  Being someone that knows little about additives and who is often confused about what’s good and what’s not when reading food labels, I found this section really helpful as it was explained in simple terms and set out in easy to read dot points.  

The recipes themselves are simple and easy to follow, even for the most clueless of cooks such as myself and are great for the kids to help prepare.  We have made a few of the recipes so far with the favorites being Rocky Road and Blueberry Pikelets.

My kids love pikelets but I wasn't sure how they would go with the blueberries and thought these would be picked out. I thought I would be clever and puree them first, then add to the mix.  That backfired as of course the pancake mix then turned blue. Declan was very hesitant to try his as they had ‘black stuff’ through them.  However after a little coaxing, these were soon gobbled up and he was asking for more.  Additive free and a way to sneak fruit into their diet, win win!

Rocky Road was super easy to make and well received of course.  What I loved about this recipe was that it also listed alternative ingredients to replace things such as the nuts, which we did.  A lot of the recipes offer ingredient ‘variations’ so found this really handy.

All recipes we tried were yummy and full of flavour.  The thing that surprised me the most about the recipes were that most ingredients are items I had in the cupboard anyway or brands/items that I know and use regularly.  It was a misconception of mine that going additive free meant a whole new range of products and brands (that were probably going to cost more and not taste as good) but it wasn't the case at all.

Lastly, my favorite part of the book was the section on all the little Christmas traditions and crafts.  These were lovely to read and some we have introduced this year into our family.  All the little crafts are fun and affordable and this section really added to the family feel of the book.   Let’s Celebrate Christmas is the type of book that would get pulled out each festive season so that favorite recipes can be made and enjoyed year after year. 

It was a lovely read, easy to follow and beautifully presented.  Definitely a recommended Christmas cook book. 

Let’s Celebrate Christmas RRP $30.00 and can be purchased via the Let’s Live Additive Free website

(Ethan & Declan eating their blueberry pikelets.)

(The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.  I received a copy of the book 'Let's Celebrate Christmas Additive Free' to review.) 

Kate xx

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christmas Advent Calendar Ideas

Well Christmas will soon be upon us again, so a little post today about some cute Advent Calendar ideas to start the big count down to the special day ♥

Must admit we have a bit of a chocolate overload in our house when it comes to the Christmas countdown.  Our children always get given an Advent calendar by their grandparents and then I have a special wooden train Advent Calendar that I purchased when Ethan was born, that I put little sweets into for each of the kids.

Last year we also started a Christmas Book/DVD/CD Advent calendar.  We wrapped up all our Christmas books/dvds & cd's and numbered each of them and then each day the kids would open one and we would spend family time either reading the story, watching the Christmas movie or just listening to Christmas carols.  The kids enjoyed it and it was great to spend that quality time together.

Ours was similar to this one here by Babyccino

Check out some of these other fun ideas.

Tin Pail Advent Calendar, this would be perfect for families with lots of children & can be used year after year :)  by Infarrantly Creative. 

Oh My Goodness, how cute is this one!  Would be perfect for a baby's 1st Christmas ♥ by EAB Designs.

Super funky idea, just using a cupcake tray by Mondocherry.

Simple envelope Advent Calendar.  Have the kids decorate the envelopes & pop a sweet treat inside or a little note in each with a different activity for the family to do each day.  Lovely idea. 
By Z Design

How do you count down to Christmas ?  Would love you to share your traditions or ideas, so please feel free to leave a comment ♥

Kate xx

Friday, October 12, 2012

Family Halloween Fun!

Hello! Thought I would do a little post today with a few fun things to do for those who partake in Halloween celebrations.   We love to get into Halloween, we always have little treats for door knockers and usually take the kids trick or treating.  I must admit I would love to see Halloween in a country like the USA where the day is widely celebrated, I think the atmosphere would be a blast :)

Trick or Treating

If Trick or Treaters are welcome at your door hang some orange balloons or streamers on your front porch or letterbox so they know it's a Halloween friendly house.

Why not get the kids involved in making their own Halloween costume ?  Handmade is always extra special & things like cardboard boxes, tubes, alfoil, material scraps & some paint are all items that can be used that we normally have around the house or can get cheap at discount shops.  Check out this Scuba Diver, Hot Air Balloon & Lego Man how awesome!  Check out the link to see some other great homemade costume examples - CRAFT Creating Really Awesome Free Things

Another fun activity you can do in the lead up to Halloween is make little treats for Trick or Treaters who come to your door.  We have made some cute little 'Lollipop Spiders' and the kids had a lot of fun making them.  Very easy you need;

Pipe Cleaners
Small Pom Poms 
Wiggly Eyes

Simply cut pipe cleaners to size and twist around lollipop stick to make 8 legs.  Glue a pom pom onto the legs then glue on two wiggly eyes.  Done :)

Halloween Treats & Party Supplies
I'm not sure if we will trick or treat this year as its during the week and my son has sport on that evening so I was thinking it might be nice to do a mini Halloween party/themed dinner instead.  Just simple, a few spooky treats and still let the kids dress up and do our own trick or treat at home.  How cool are some of these! 

Strawberry Ghosts - How To & Picture via Lucky Boy Co
Spider Cupcakes - How To & Picture via Bright Ideas
Jack O Lantern Cake Pops image via Rock UR Party
(Oreo pops would work awesome for these, find the recipe on our menu under Party Food Recipes.)

Why not really get in the spirit with some Halloween themed party goodies, check out what some of our Whats On 4 Kids Parties advertisers have available for your Halloween celebrations. 

Party Supplies from Fantasy Kids Parties - check out some items from their Boo Bunch tableware range. 

How cute are these Trick or Treat Invites from Little Dance.  Invite other families to go Trick or Treating with you. A great way to interact & get to know other families within your community.

Be sure to also check out our party directory on the website to see what other great Halloween goodies are available. 

I hope you enjoy your Halloween celebrations and have a great time with your family & friends! 

Kate xx

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fun Party Bag Ideas

I love Party Bags!  I am always the first one to raid the kids party bags after a party, though they are getting older and I dont get much of a look in these days, sometimes I'm lucky if I get given a half eaten lollipop, slobber and all haha :)

Making party bags is one of the things I enjoy the most about planning the kids parties and I think its a great way to get really creative as there are lots of fun ways to package and present your take home goodies. 

Here are a few ideas of fun and affordable party bag/take home gift options. 

Simple but Sweet Lolly Bags

A simple and affordable bag of sweets is always a winner with kids & its easy to make them look great!  Make sure you choose lollies suitable to your age group to avoid choking hazards with little ones.  In our house we love to add things like marshmallows, smarties, freddo frogs & lollipops. 

Pretty Packaging for Lolly Bags;

-  Fill a themed or plain paper cup with lollies, wrap in clear cello and tie with a nice ribbon. A thank you tag can also be added for a more personalised touch. 

- Fill a brown paper bag with goodies (lunch bags from the supermarket work fine) then fold over a paper doily on top, clip in place with a cute wooden peg.   In place of the doily you can also just clip on a thank you tag. 

- Clear cello treat tubes can be filled with various sweets such as M & M's, Jelly Beans or Malteasers then a cute tag and bow added to finish them off. 

(Brown Bags image via Pop Roc Parties blog - Treat Tubes picture & also buy via Treat Tubes)

Story Books, Colouring Books & Pencils

I love the idea of giving a little story book or a colouring book and pencils as a take home party favor.  Wrap them up in some brown paper and tie a bow with string and you have a cute take home gift that is guaranteed to be used and loved by little guests.  (You can often find lovely books for only a few dollars or less at discount shops & at regular department stores.  I adore kids books and always find its handy to grab a few when they are on sale as they make great gifts.)

Party Boxes

Party boxes are available in lots of fun colours & themes and they are a fun way to present your party favors.  They are cardboard but can still be reused to carry around little toys such as matchbox cars etc.  My kids really love little boxes and often keep hold of their party boxes to carry their toys in. 

Some fun novelties to include in party boxes are temporary tattoos, glow sticks, mini cars, hair clips  stickers, stamps and bubbles. 

Cupcakes, Cookies & Chocolate Wands

A little cupcake in a cute cupcake box or a decorated cookie in some cello with a ribbon make a great take home gift.  You can also make cupcake or cookie decorating an activity to do at the party and then wrap them up for them to take home as their 'party bag'.

I adore these chocolate wands and they are definitely on my to do list!  They can be made super gorgeous and girly with flowers and sparkles and easily made more masculine with different coloured sprinkles & ribbons for our little men. Follow the link to 'Such Pretty Things' for the full how to instructions. (Picture via Such Pretty Things)

Mini Pot Plants

Have party guests paint & decorate their own plant pot then add a little plant or some seeds to take home and grow.  Another great way to combine a party activity and take home gift. Most little ones will love taking care of their little plant at home and its a great way for them to learn responsibility.  Fun & educational :)

(Image via Bespoke Bride)

If you are looking for fun party bags, boxes or novelty fillers be sure to check out all our great party suppliers via the Party Directory to see what great products are available. 

Kate xx

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monkey/Jungle Party

A couple of weeks ago it was my oldest little man Ethan's 5th Birthday. 5 years, where has the time gone!  This year there had been a few mind changes on theme but a few months ago Ethan decided on Monkey's.  We ended up throwing in a few more jungle animals as well and we had a lot of fun being able to use such bright, fun colours!

This was Ethan's first 'school friend' party so was a very exciting but nerve wracking time for all of us, but we could not have been happier with the outcome.  A fabulous day was had by all and everything went smooth and according to plan on the day!

Vendor Credits;

Piece of Cake Parties & Celebrations - Styling, Baking Cups, Tableware, Monkey Cups, Straws, Jungle Meal Boxes, Leaf decorations, Party Bags, Jungle Lanterns, Balloons, Large Monkey Inflatable

Photography - Lightbox Photography

Cake & Cupcake Toppers - My gorgeous friend Cassey Ingram

Monkey Printables - Paper Glitter 

Jungle Cookies - Kaza's Kookie Kreations

Jungle Vine Bunting on two tables - Little Pipika

Big thanks also to my friend Rochelle from Sweet Tables - by Chelle for the use of a couple of extra tablecloths & hessian canopy for Ethan's special day.

More snaps will be on our Facebook page soon for anyone wanting a look :)

Kate xx

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rainbow Party Ideas

Rainbow parties are certainly popular at the moment but rainbow specific party products can be tricky to come across.  But that just means you can get super crafty with your party planning!  Plenty of fun ideas out there for rainbow parties and a great way to get the kids involved with the planning as well.  Here are a few fun things I have found to help with planning your Rainbow Party :)

Rainbow Party Printables

Check out this gorgeous rainbow party by The Yummy Paper Company using their Rainbow Party printables.  Love the balloon rainbow as well, simple to do but super effective!  You can see the range and purchase here

Gorgeous Rainbow Printables set from Fairydust Stylish Stationery (click for purchase details)

Here is a gorgeous set of FREE party printables from Paper Glitter find out how to download them here

Rainbow Party Food Ideas

I love this fruit salad rainbow.  My kids would for sure just eat the marshmallows haha but a fun way to display healthly food options! (Image via San Diego Cooks)

Orange Jelly Wedges.  These i think are super cool! Check out Quick Dish by Tablespoon for a how to guide.

Rainbow Cakes of course.  Easy to do, find how to guide here via Piece of Cake Parties & Celebrations blog

Rainbow Party Supplies

Tissue Paper Garlands ~ Standard product picture may not look like much but these look amazing once opened out and hung, they make a fabulous table backdrop when multiple are hung straight down next to each other.  Available at Piece of Cake Parties & Celebrations

Rainbow Party Lanterns available at Birthday Express 

Sambellina Multi colour dot tableware available from Piece of Cake Parties & Celebrations
Rainbow Treat Boxes available at Lark

Happy Planning :)

Kate xx

Friday, August 10, 2012

Declan's Dinosaur Roar 3rd Birthday Party!

Well it was my little man Declan's 3rd Birthday a couple of weeks ago and this years party theme was Dinosaurs!

Declan's Dinosaur obsession started after he saw Justine Clarke's ' Dinosaur Roar'  on ABC.  It has since been played regularly in our household and was the basis for our Dinosaur party with our backdrop and props that hubby made, based around the film clip.  I had initially visioned a really cute baby Dino style for the party, but Declan wouldn't have a bar of that!  He wanted scary dinosaurs and T-Rex's all the way :)

One of the main highlights especially for Declan was the unreal Dinosaur statues that we hired.  After many times driving past the Museum of Natural History and jokingly saying to hubby ' I wonder if they would let me borrow their Dino statue for the party' , I nearly jumped out of my skin in excitement when we actually went there on the school holidays for a visit and I read that they hired them out! Yep Mum and Dad were pretty popular on party day, until we had to take them back! Declan wasn't impressed once he noticed and demanded to know "Where are MY dinosaurs gone! ?" hehe, blamed that one on Daddy!  :)

I made all the food & desserts myself this year (scary i know! regular readers will know how i feel about cooking, baking especially!), except the awesome cookies which I had made by Kate's Cookies.  Hubby made the backdrop and props as mentioned above and the rest was all bits and pieces from around the house.  Party supplies from Piece of Cake Parties of course :) and awesome party printables fromWhimsical Printables.

The day was wonderful and enjoyed by all and we had such a blast putting this all together.  Hope you enjoy the pics! 

The Invitations
Follow the footprints ...

Trex Cookies - the detail on these was amazing and they were so yum! 

Our Dinosaur Roar Dessert Table! Choc milks, cupcakes, mars bar slice, T Rex Cookies, Donuts, Chocolate Crackles, Chocolate Eggs, Dino Dirts (choc yogo), flakes & twirls, pods & chocolate rocks.

The Kids Table using Piece of Cake Parties awesome Dino Blast Tableware, brown paper straws & Paper Eskimo wooden cutlery.  

 Take Home Party Boxes

Dinosaur Masks & Dinosaur Grabbers out in the play area. 

The Birthday Boy being fed to the Raptor! 

Vendor Credits

Piece of Cake Parties & Celebrations - Styling, Dino Blast tableware & banner, paper straws, mini milk bottles, leaves, dinosaur figurines, balloons, pterodactyl hanging decorations, baking cups, party box contents, dinosaur masks, dinosaur grabbers, dino footprints, backdrop, green trees on dessert table, table props.

Whimiscal Printables - Dinosaur Printables (a Big thank you to you Miranda, you know what for!! It was an absolute pleasure working with you !)

Lightbox Photography - Photograhy.  (Thanks Emily for capturing these memories!)

Museum of Natural History Guildford - Dinosaur Statue Hire (Thanks for being so helpful & trusting us with these!)

Kate's Cookies - T Rex Cookies.  (Thanks Kate, these were awesome!)

Pink Frosting - Red Tin Pails

If you want to see more of our party pics, be sure to have a look on our facebook page! :)

Kate xx