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Tis' the season to be jolly! And there is no better way to celebrate than to have a funky looking sweet treat! These Christmas tree meringues are a cinch to make & taste great too! They make the perfect snack for Christmas parties & store for up to 3 whole weeks (if they last that long!). The recipe below has been altered to suit the meringue trees, if you would like to make any other shape meringue, simply use the same method & ingredients minus the rainbow chips, sugar star & green dye. 


 
 
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So yesterday I shared an idea to get everyone kick-started with their spring/summer activities. It was a wonderful little trick I started last year with my pair when we found ourselves lost for what to do in what we considered a new & foreign town as we had not long moved to Melbourne & had spent all winter in hibernation because us Queenslanders just weren't used to the cold weather AT ALL! Anyway - this became the birth of the "You're not bored!" Jar, a plastic jar filled with originally 101 rainbow paddle pop sticks with one activity on each stick that were free for kidlets to do (or at least try), over the past year we have slowly added to our collection & I think we are sitting at about 130 ideas now BUT here is the first 101 that we started with :) 

Our list of 101 activities - feel free to add your own!


 
 
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Today's lunch theme was 'space' and it wouldn't be a space themed lunch without aliens now would it? ;) 

These cute little creatures, very well known from Toy Story, are a piece of cake to make, are extremely tasty AND are 100% healthy! Just follow the easy tutorial below & you will be on your way to creating a healthy snack that kidlets of all ages will love.


 
 
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These little bite sized burgers are easier than they look & taste amazing! The full tutorial with clearer images is available in my book 'Funky, Fresh Food!' which can be purchased online in our eStore for as low as $9.95! But for now here is a quick, short 'how-to' for my take on these perfect party treats.

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First you will need to have a batch of baked then cooled vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes. Cut your vanilla cupcakes in half, these will be the buns. Now cut your chocolate cupcakes into thirds, these will be your patties. You can use any portion of the cupcake for the patty but I prefer to use the middle or base of the cupcake as they are flat sided portions.
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Next you will need red frosting. You can either pipe on the icing or spread it with a spoon, it is entirely up to you. Place the red frosting on the base of the cupcake for the tomato sauce/ketchup.
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Now place a section of the chocolate cupcake on top, this is the patty.
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Now the cheese is optional of course so the extra effort isn't required, but for the cheese I made some yellow fondant rolled out to 3mm thick and cut it into squares. The mustard is orange/yellow tinted frosting. Place the mustard and/or cheese on top of the 'patty'.
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Now add the lettuce. In a ziplock bag place 1/2 cup of shredded coconut & 4-6 drops of green food dye. Zip the bag shut then shake the bag until the dye is spread evenly. Sprinkle the 'lettuce' on top of the mustard.
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Now add the tops on. To make the burgers look more realistic I like to brush some melted butter (or orange juice if I have any available) on the tops then sprinkle on some sesame seeds. The seeds don't add any extra taste, they are more so for appearance so no need to worry about the cupcakes tasting funny. :)
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Ham flowers are a fun, quick way to snazz up an everyday lunch. Whether it's in a lunchbox or on a plate, there's never a bad time for a ham flower to appear! These adorable little snacks are assembled in 4 simple steps, making them an easy fix to a boring meal in a matter of minutes! 

This ham flower tutorial is one of many step-by-step tutorials in my new book 'Funky, Fresh Food - Your Step-By-Step Guide To Making Healthy Food Fun!' which is available for pre-order here. The book is due to be released July 1st 2013 & contains 48 illustrated pages to help you work your way through 26 fun, healthy snacks suited to both the lunchbox & the plate, as well as some handy tips & tricks including 6 ways to stop fruits from browning in your kidlets lunchbox & how to make rockmelon roses - a Creative Kidlets 101 exclusive tutorial!

It's as easy as punch!

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Start with a piece of ham; you can use round or square and a small knife. This technique can also work with turkey or a thin-cooked egg omelette.

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Cut lines in the middle of ham, but not all the way. The lines don’t need to be the exact same distance apart & depending on how thick or thin you want the ‘petals’ to be is how thick or thin of a gap you want between each slice. Be sure not to cut the lines too close to the edge of the ham otherwise your flower will split when you roll it up.


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Fold the ham in half in the same direction that you made the slices. Roll up the folded ham but make sure to keep a fairly tight roll to keep the "stem" of the flower together & sturdy.


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Fan out the petals of the ham flower & cut the base of the stem to make it flat if you prefer then tuck into the lunchbox or place it where you like on the plate.



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In my experiences, there is nothing kidlets love more than getting colourfully grubby with finger paints. And most days they will of course stick 10 million tonnes of paint in the one spot until the paper is tearing & decomposing - but that's okay, they are still learning. My only problem with the over-use of paint by kidlets is the price you pay for store bought paint which is never as 'non-toxic' as they say and always comes with that funny smell and hard to get off stain it leaves on clothing & walls. So over the years I have resorted to making my own paints at home - from everyday things you will always find in your cupboard. Both edible and non-edible, tempera powder and food dye - I have tried almost every recipe imaginable, many fails & many successes (as expected!) so to help you avoid all the trials & errors I have compiled my 3 most favourite paint recipes below to share with you all!


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Homemade Bath Paint!

What you need:
muffin tin
shaving cream
food coloring
paint brush

What you do:
  1. Squirt the shaving cream into each muffin hole.
  2. Put a couple of drops of food coloring on to each mound of shaving cream. Stir well.
  3. Go to town painting the bathtub walls (and yourself)! 


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Homemade Poster Paint!

What You Need:
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Small jars or plastic containers
  • 3 tablespoons powdered tempera paint per container
  • 2 tablespoons water per container
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid starch or liquid detergent per container (optional)

What To Do:
  1. Measure flour into saucepan.
  2. Slowly add 1 cup water while stirring to make a smooth paste.
  3. Heat, stirring constantly, until paste begins to thicken.
  4. Cool.
  5. Measure 1/4 cup paste into each small container.
  6. Add 3 tablespoons powdered tempera paint and 2 tablespoons water to each container.
  7. For a matte finish, add liquid starch. For a glossy finish, add liquid detergent.
  8. Store covered.


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Homemade Finger Paint!
What You Need:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tb salt
2 cup cold water
3 1/2 cup hot water
food coloring

What To Do:
1. In saucepan, mix dry ingredients together.
2. Slowly add cold water to the dry ingredients, whisking as you add.
3. Bring to boil, over medium heat, as you add hot water, whisking continuously.
4. Boil mixture for about 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and lumps are gone.
5. Allow to cool slightly in pan then transfer to separate bowls to add color.
6. Mix in a few drops of food coloring to achieve desired color.
7. Allow to cool completely before painting.


 
 
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Up until recently I had assumed that everyone knew how to make rainbow rice until I was asked by quite a few how to make it and where I had purchased it from. I shocked a few people when I said I had made it myself at home and because of this I came to the conclusion that it would be far easier and of more value to share this simple trick with the world for those who were unaware that you can make rainbow rice with 3 simple ingredients that everyone has in their home!

To make rainbow rice you will need: 2 cups of long grain rice for each colour you would like to make, 1/4 cup of vinegar for each colour you would like to make, ordinary food dye & a ziplock bag for each colour.

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First, place 2 cups of rice in each bag (measurements don't need to be precise, just a rough measure is fine - just get as close as possible or you may end up with a soggy lump of rice). One bag at a time add 1/4 cup of vinegar then the drops of food dye to the mix. Ziplock shut the bag and give it a good shake. Repeat this step for each colour you would like. To dry out the rice you may leave it in the bag with the ziplock open overnight, lay it flat for 4 hours on a piece of baking paper or you can place it on a lined baking tray in the oven at 100c for 10-15 minutes to quick dry it (be sure to let it cool before allowing the kids to play with it!) 

You can mix whatever colours you want and add as many dye drops as you like to get the vibrancy that you are after. It is completely safe for children to eat (if you have those little ones that believe EVERYTHING belongs in their mouth!) & it's much easier to clean than playdough!

That's all there is to it! Remember - rainbow rice is not just for schools & daycares, it is awesome for sensory play and motor skills, even art & craft if you wanted. 
 
 
There are hundreds of ways to make scented playdough, but I would like to share some of my favourites with you all. Playdough is fun enough as it is but it's even better when you can make playdough cupcakes and playdough bikkies that actually smell like the real deal! Traditional playdough has a pretty funky smell that some people find hard to mask - well here is a list of other ways to make scrumptious smelling playdough that have all been tried and tested by yours truly! :)
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Fruity Scented Playdough (Non-Edible)

You will need:
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons oil
200ml water
50ml fruity fragrant shampoo
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food colouring to match your scent (green for apple, red for strawberry, orange/yellow for orange/mango)

How to make it?
  • Pour all dry ingredients, flour, salt and cream of tartar together in a saucepan.
  • Add oil, shampoo, colouring and water to dry ingredients.
  • I use a whisk before heating as I find this helps remove lumps and blends the ingredients well.
  • Cook over medium heat constantly stirring until it becomes a thick blob.
  • Then turn out onto a clean surface and knead into a smooth ball. Be careful the play dough will be very hot!
  • Store in a plastic zip lock bag or air tight container. 


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Peppermint Scented Playdough (Edible)

You will need:
1 cup all-purpose flour (sift if lumpy)
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 cup brewed peppermint tea
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola)
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
Food coloring, as desired

How to make it?
  • In a sauce pan, whisk together the flour, salt and cream of tarter. Add the water and oil and whisk until smooth. 
  • Place pan over low heat and cook and stir until it thickens and forms a ball (about 5 minutes for a single recipe). When it's impossible to stir and looks like a big sticky lump, it's done! :)
  • Turn out onto the counter or a mat, scraping pan clean with a spatula. Knead the warm dough a couple times, and place in a loosely-covered container to cool. (Or, let the kids play with it right away!) Store in a sealed container or ziplock bag when not in use.

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Chocolate Scented Playdough (Edible)


You will need:
1 cup all-purpose flour (sift if lumpy)
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make it?
  • In a sauce pan, whisk together the flour, salt and cream of tarter. Add the water and oil and whisk until smooth. 
  • Place pan over low heat and cook and stir until it thickens and forms a ball (about 5 minutes for a single recipe). When it's impossible to stir and looks like a big sticky lump, it's done! :)
  • Turn out onto the counter or a mat, scraping pan clean with a spatula. Knead the warm dough a couple times, and place in a loosely-covered container to cool. (Or, let the kids play with it right away!) Store in a sealed container or ziplock bag when not in use.


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Strawberry Scented Playdough (Edible)


You will need:
1 cup plain flour
1 Tablespoon oil
200ml Water
50ml Strawberry Essence
½ cup salt
¼ cup chocolate sprinkles
2 Teaspoons cream of tartar
1 Teaspoon of rose pink food colouring

How to make it?
  • Pour all dry ingredients, flour, salt and cream of tartar together in a saucepan. 
  • Add oil, food colouring, strawberry essence and water to dry ingredients.
  • I use a whisk before heating as I find this helps remove lumps and blends the ingredients.
  • Cook over medium heat constantly stirring until it becomes a thick blob. 
  • Then turn out onto a clean surface and knead into a smooth blob.
  • Allow the play dough to cool before kneading in the chocolate sprinkles.
  • Store in a plastic zip lock bag or air tight container.

Those are the basic ones to get you started, feel free to change it up and experiment - maybe add some glitter, or some pony beads, or even some hundreds and thousands! The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination allows. ;)
 
 
"You are never too young to play with your food, all you need is a little imagination." - Emilie Moore (2011)
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Education doesn't always have to be within the confines of worksheets and flashcards. There are millions upon millions of ways to teach children different things in a creative, exciting way. I mean, let's face it - would you rather have fun, or do worksheets all day? I don't know about you, but paperwork isn't exactly on my list of favourite things to do.


We all know kidlets love Fruit Loops, they are colourful, and sweet and outright tasty in the mind of a child. But have you ever considered using Fruit Loops to teach your special little person things like counting, sorting, colours, fine motor skills or patterns? If not, then welcome to the colourful world of creative learning in the eyes of yours truly! As Miss Arianna nears the age of schooling, I will be sharing more and more blogs on creative ways to teach your child basic life skills. This will include a huge range of ideas collected by myself to make learning feel, well, not like learning at all.

To create a 'workplace' for this activity get a piece of Styrofoam & 5 bamboo skewers. Colour (with crayons, felt pens, dye or paint - I used crayons) each skewer one colour each - red, orange,  yellow, green, blue & purple. Then place them in that order spike down into  the Styrofoam. I first asked them to sort the fruit loops into the colours and  place them on the corresponding skewers, then I asked them to name the colours  in a row. To make things a little trickier for them I asked them to count the  fruit loops on each skewer for me. So all in all, this nifty trick taught them  motor skills (getting the fruit loops onto the skewers), colours, sorting AND  counting all in one activity!

Pictured - Miss A and Mr J enjoying their first creative learning lesson :)