Organic Garden Party Plan

Whether it’s with good friends or family or both, an organic evening from start to finish will create a warm rosy glow of contentment.

Plan the day out and you’ll be able to enjoy the evening as well. This is a plan for simple nourishing food but substitute other ingredients if you prefer.

During the morning and afternoon prepare some, or all of the following salads. Chill in their serving dishes in the bottom of the fridge.- you’ll have time.

Anything that needs cooking and cooling can be done while you’re prepping other stuff, so here goes…

During the day, prepare some, or all of the following salads. Chill in their serving dishes in the bottom of the fridge.

Potato Salad:

Steam or boil diced potatoes until tender and leave to cool completely. Stir in some chopped chives and a mayonnaise sauce- try half mayo and half natural yoghurt. Taste sauce before adding to potatoes. Chill before serving. Optional extra: mix in some walnut pieces and chopped celery.

Rice Salad:

Cook rice and leave until cold. Put into a large bowl and mix in; sweetcorn, chopped tomato, onion and green pepper. Chill before serving. Add a few nuts and even dried fruits if liked. Can be served with a mayonnaise sauce.

Green Salad:

Finely slice a lettuce and put into a large bowl. Loosen with your hands or a large slotted spoon. Mix in a very finely sliced onion and a tomato. If available, add sliced organic cucumber, sweet peppers and a few chopped fresh herbs.

Coleslaw:

Grate or very finely chop some white cabbage, an onion and a raw carrot. Mix together in a large bowl with a mayonnaise sauce. Chill before serving. If available add finely chopped walnuts and celery

Now you have a selection of salads, prepare the dessert:

Fruit salad:

Chop any fresh organic fruits you have available and mix with a few dried fruits and nuts. Search the market stalls for an exotic fruit or two, such as mango or pineapple, to add a touch of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your salad! Leave to marinate for an hour before serving. Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a cool place.

For the main dish at your home garden party,

you could choose to have veggie burgers or the equivalent, or even organic steak if you don’t want to get too vegetarian!

If you have a few laying hens or ‘you know a man who does’ make a huge spanish type omelette for your guests.

Most of the ingredients can be prepared in advance:

  1. Dice and steam or boil a couple of largish potatoes until just cooked. Drain and leave to cool.
  2. Slice some mushrooms and simmer gently in a little water in a frying pan for a few minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  3. Slice and gently simmer one or two medium onions – as you did with the mushrooms. Drain and leave to cool.
  4. Boil a few peas. Drain and leave to cool.

While this lot is cooling, clear up the chaos in the kitchen and find a fairly large flat dish – a chopping board will do. When the veggies are cool, arrange them in small heaps on a board and set aside, covering with a cloth to keep them moist and to protect from flies.

The next step is an outside job!

Shut down the barbeque and build a fire instead. You’ll need some space but investing in a fire pit may be a good option. But, if you have the space and some large stones available, have an old-fashioned fire instead.

Side note: If you decide on a fire rather than a barbecue or a firepit like the one below, you’ll need a trivet to go over the fire.

Find a comfortable spot in the garden, away from trees and wooden fences etc; and make a circle of stones. These should be large stones, about housebrick size – but no bigger. The diameter of the circle should be about 20 inches (50cm) or so. Then make another circle of stones around the first one about twice the size.

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NB: If you don’t have space to build a fire, use your barbeque grill Or invest in a firepit.

This firepit on Amazon (UK) is around £140 at the time of writing

DAWOO Fire Pit with BBQ Grill Shelf, Barbecue Brazier, Table Brazier Garden Patio Heater/BBQ/Ice Pit with Waterproof Cover (3 in 1Fire Pit Table & Grill) (square)

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In your middle circle, build a fire. You can do this as you would light a barbeque, or collect some paper, card and small dry twigs and some larger logs to keep the fire burning. The next thing to do is find two sticks at least a metre long around broomstick size in diameter. You can use these to control the flame and, to a few degrees, the temperature of the fire. When your fire has got going and the flames are low, place a trivet over the fire, and start cooking…

Use the long sticks by pulling them out and pushing them into the embers. When you push them in, the flame will burn higher. Normally you will need to keep the flame low, but if left too long, the fire will die, so heating it up and removing the pan from time to time will keep the embers glowing nicely.

NB: Don’t use your best pans for this!

If you’re cooking steaks or veggie burgers – throw them in the pan and get frying! If you decided on the omelette, bring your covered board of prepared vegetables to the fire and place in between the circles of stones. Beat eggs in a bowl, allowing two per person. You could do this in shifts if there are more than four people eating. The cooking time is quick so by the time the first shift have dished up their salads, the next servings are cooked.

NB: Enrol some help 🙂

Pour a little oil in the frying pan and add a spoonful of each of the ingredients on your dish: potatoes, onions etc; Stir gently and pour beaten egg over the mixture. Sprinkle on some grated cheese to taste. Add a little black pepper. Cook gently for a few minutes, then turn and cook for a few minutes on the other side. The omelette will probably fall apart during this manoeuvre, but push it all back together -it will taste just as good.

Now dish up your main course on individual plates and let everyone serve themselves from the delicious spread of salads decorating your outside table.

Carefully remove the trivet from the fire, place a few logs on and enjoy your meal to a crackling fire in the night sky!

Voila! a wonderful organic home garden party!

And still later……

after everyone has complimented you on a delicious meal and scrummy dessert, play a traditional parlour game to round off the evening. Avoid card games or word games. They require far too much concentration!

Entertain each other by showing off what a fool you can be by playing charades. Choose the name of a song, a tv programme, a film, whatever, and mime the title – abosolutely no speaking aloud, unless you’re under ten yrs old, then you can have a few concessions! If no one guesses your mime, you have the added embarasment of having another go.

And when all your guests have gone home and the children are in bed, take a few moments to sit by the fire and watch the dying embers, and remember the evening with gladness in your soul and good food in your body!

Enjoy!

Linda x

10 Free Family Entertainments

These Top 10 entertainment ideas will be fun for the whole family without maxing out the credit card

Puppy dog eyes and constant whingeing is often all it takes to spend tons of cash. STOP! The most fun ways of entertaining the kids can still be found for free.

Re-discover the inner child in you and find activities that encourage children to enjoy the moment and won’t cost you a penny:

INSIDE RAINY DAY GAMES

1.Target Practice:

Or magazine destruction. Old magazines have great play value, apart from craft possibilities. Put a wastepaper basket in the middle of the room and each player tears out a page from a magazine, rolls it into a ball and throws it at the target. Simple! Just make sure you decide on the magazines to be destroyed before the children decide for you. This is a great game to encourage children to tidy up.

2.Skittles

Skittles is the home version of 10 pin bowling. If you don’t have a set of ‘pins’ or skittles, make them by putting a little sand in the bottom of empty water bottles or something similar. Don’t make them too heavy. Whatever you use must stand up on their own and not be too heavy to be knocked over.

This game can be played outside on an even surface. If playing indoors use a soft ball, a pom pom, rolled up newspaper or anything that rolls and doesn’t destroy the furniture!

3.Memory Game

You’ll need:

A tray,
A cloth that will cover the tray,
And 10-12 small everyday objects, eg, a pencil, notepad, stamp, coin etc;

Player looks at the tray for one minute then the tray is covered with the cloth. One object is secretly taken away and then the tray is revealed to the player, who then has to remember which object is missing. If they remember correctly, another object is taken away. Repeat until player is stuck or has remembered all objects correctly.

4.Dead Lions

All players except one lie down with their eyes closed and stay very still. The ‘hunter’ walks around the lions looking for signs of life. If he spots one of the ‘lions’ move, he taps that player and they are out of the game and must sit outside the play area and wait for the rest of the lions to be caught. The last lion is the winner.

5.I Went to Market

Players need to be of reading age or close enough to play this game. One player starts by saying one thing they bought at the market – that begins with the letter A. The next player declares something they bought with the letter B. This sounds fairly simple until you add the twist. This is an example of how the game should grow.

Player 1: “I went to market and I bought an apple”
Player 2: “I went to market and I bought an apple and a banana”
Player 3: “I went to market and I bought an apple, a banana and a cup”

You can see where this is going. The first player to forget one of the items drops out of the round. The players drop out as they forget the sequence and the last player remaining is the winner. You can play this game with any number of players, although it gets harder with more players because you don’t need to repeat the sequence so often.

OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES

6.Twist and Tangle

This is an outdoor version of the game twister. Each player has their own die. Using chalks, draw shapes on the ground in different colours. Number the shapes. Create two shapes of each number from 1-6. So you have at least twelve playing shapes.

Players throw their dice in turn and have to place one arm or one leg on one of the shapes representing the number they threw. You can decide on variations before you start. Either one limb has to move, or two, or even three perhaps? Not sure if three would work but maybe worth a try 🙂

The game goes on until players are too tangled up to move! Or, if you want to add a little competition, eliminate players as they fall over or miss their target shape.

7.Rounders

Rounders is the game to play when there are lots of players with plenty of energy available! The official guidelines for playing rounders indicate that there should be at least seven players on each team, but you can adjust the game to suit the players.

You need a tennis ball sized ball, a bat and items to indicate the batting position, the bowling position and four bases. Don’t use sticks as they can be dangerous if a child falls. However, to add a bit of interest, perhaps each ‘base’ could have a bell that has to be rung as a player reaches the base, or a tin lid to bang?

To play:

The bowler stands on the bowling spot and throws the ball to the batsman (positioned on the batting spot). The ball should be thrown underarm and aimed within reaching distance of the batsman. If the ball is way off course, it’s considered a no-ball and bowler throws again.

Whether the batsman hits or misses the ball, he must drop his bat and run to first base, making sure he touches the base or he may be called ‘out’. The player can be called ‘out’ if one of the fielders catches the ball cleanly before it touches the ground and after it has been hit. Or the player can be called ‘out’ if one of the fielders touches the base he’s running to with the ball, before he gets there.

If player manages to run to base two or three before the bowler has the ball back on the bowlers spot, he scores half a rounder. If he gets to base four it’s a whole rounder.

8.Skipping Games

Skipping on your own can be very satisfying. Competing with yourself and trying to beat the number of skips you’ve set yourself as a record is a sure way to keep you fit! Skip at different paces – Note here: if you haven’t skipped for a while, take it slowly and maybe do a few warm up exercises first. Your calf muscles will shout at you otherwise!

Skipping races: Every player has their own rope and skips along a track as in a running race.

Three or more players with a long rope can have fun for hours. Two players hold either end of the rope and stand far enough apart so that when they turn the rope it just touches the ground. Practise turning for a while. When the rope is turning, the third player has to run in and jump the rope.

In case you haven’t got a skipping rope to hand, there’s a cute one on Amazon for around a fiver and next day delivery..

Children’s adjustable sports skipping cotton rope with wooden handles

9.Piggy in the Middle

You need three players and a ball. All the players should be a similar height or this game doesn’t really work very well, unless allowances are made. Two players throw the ball to each other and the third player stands between them and tries to intercept the ball. If successful they swap places with the player who should have caught the ball. And so on…

10.Go for a walk!

Simple but very effective – especially for burning off excess energy – Take a bag and collect fallen twigs, dried leaves and grasses – then when you get home, the children can make pictures from the items collected while you get on with the dinner!

Have Fun 🙂

Linda x

Necessity, the Mother of Invention

Many years ago, during a period in my life living off the land, money was scarce and children were many!

Coming from London and a townie through and through, even growing food was an alien pastime for me but we had to learn to survive.

The creative ideas that we came up with every day were based almost entirely on necessity but they worked for us at the time. 🙂

I saw a recent social media post – possibly facebook – stating that the only things that really matter in life are:

how to purify water
how to grow food
how to cook
how to build
and how to love

None of these ‘subjects’ are taught in main stream schools – there may be an exception here and there but basically we are all brought up to rely on a system that is purely financially orientated and pays little attention to the things that really matter, that are in fact a necessity.

Recent world events have shaken up the global population and we all have our own opinions and instincts about

what we are being told by mainstream media
what we are finding through underground sources

but many of us are confused and perhaps just going along with whoever ‘sounds’ like they might be telling the truth. And although I could probably rant on all day about corruption, politicians and the big pharmaceutical companies, nothing is going to change from the top.

It’s us individuals who need to take control, or as much control as possible, for our own lives to help not only the human species but all other life forms.

Food was ‘real’ food just a couple of generations ago. Speaking as a grandmother, I can attest to that. I’m not bleating on about the good old days because they weren’t all good, just as everything nowadays isn’t all bad.

Two of the biggest problems we have is that it isn’t always easy or affordable to go ‘plastic-free’ or ‘organic’ and then the guilt sets in or we just think “aw what the hell”. Neither state of mind is particularly good for our overall wellbeing.

The answer? Baby Steps. We are billions in number and if we all took a couple of baby steps whenever possible, we could make a difference.

So getting back to necessity being the mother of invention:

Yes, it is necessary to start protecting our world
Yes, it is necessary to start protecting ourselves – not only from obvious dangers but generally for our mind, body and soul.
And yes, it is necessary to take control of our lives, even a little at a time will help us and future generations of all sentient beings on earth.

Research a few ideas; how to grow food, how to purify water, how to cook efficiently, how to build and how to love yourself more 🙂

Get that inventive beautiful brain working!

With today’s technology, whatever your views on the privacy and plastic issues are, you can find many solutions as like minded folk share their ideas with the world. There are more than 200 posts just on this website alone that relate to home, family, garden and wellbeing issues.

If you have ideas to share, I’d love to hear from you.

To our Healthy Future

Linda x

P.S. Join the Happy Families community and be first to hear when new ideas are posted. Subscribe Here. And to thank you for joining, I’ll email you a Family Games Printable that will entertain the whole family without plugging in or charging anything!

Recycle, Upcycle, Re-use

It’s surprising how much we can recycle, upcycle and re-use items that are often just tossed in the rubbish without a second thought.

When that second thought occurs though, it triggers all sorts of benefits:

  • generally feeling good
  • creativity and imagination
  • projects, possibly family centred to enjoy and learn from
  • New and unique items for your home

And if those benefits weren’t enough, how about the benefits to the environment:

  • Less land-fill, generally
  • Less driving to the shops for a ‘new’ whatever

So, what could you recycle, upcycle or re-use?

It really does depend on your own lifestyle, family and needs but here are a few ideas that could help save the planet and the health of your bank account perhaps!

GARDEN

Pots:
Toilet or Kitchen roll tubes serve as small pots and are usually in abundance in a busy household. Cut them in half and place in a tray with sides then a waterproof one. Here, I didn’t have a tray with sides so I made a shallow tray from an old cardboard box to hold the pots in place then put it on a tray I wasn’t using for anything else. It works!

And many yogurt and dessert pots are now being manufactured with less plastic. Punch a hole in the bottom (be careful) and wash thoroughly before filling with compost.

I’ve been gradually buying canvas pots and they have been recently coming down in price. As long as they are emptied and dried out after use, they will last a fair amount of time – and I’ve found the slugs are not so keen on them, although my battle with slugs continues…. 🙂

Saving seeds:
When I lived in France, I found that a couple of crops – nasturtiums and parsnips come to mind – would re-seed themselves. But we did have mild winters so I wouldn’t recommend relying on that system.

Let one or two plants go to seed and collect carefully. With broad beans for example, leave the first couple of pods on the plant and they will eventually dry naturally, allowing you to save the seeds to plant next year.

Do a little research for your crops in your region. Parsley in the UK is biennial. It produces leaf in the first year then flowers and seeds in the second year. Let the plant do its thing if you can spare the space, then collect the seed and sow!

Containers:
A leaky bucket may not be any good for cleaning or holding water, but it could be an excellent garden accessory. If you’re weeding a patch of ground, pop the weeds in the bucket and you won’t be going back and forth to the compost bin or trailing soil across the lawn!

Fruit boxes, wooden or cardboard can be really helpful too, especially if you have lots of stuff to harvest at once.

Netting Bags may be useful to protect your fruit bushes. Be careful with this one though. You don’t want birds caught up in it. The holes would need to be fairly small to avoid wildlife damage.
However, I’ve used regular netting bags to stretch low between plants to deter cats from ‘visiting’.

Water bottles:
Although this is a plastic product, it’s sometimes the only choice. But they can be recycled in the garden. I sometimes use them for watering ‘cans’. Punch a few holes in the lid and water away! Also, cutting the bottom off (again be careful here) will create a mini-cloche you can pop over more delicate plants until the weather warms up. Push into the earth quite firmly or a gust of wind could blow it away and also damage your plant.

Cutlery:
Save old spoons and forks to transplant seedlings. They are less likely to damage the roots of your small plants than a trowel.

HOME

Furniture:
The upcycle market has been flooded with upcycled furniture over the past few years and it’s often quite expensive. I am totally with these prices even if I can’t afford them myself! It takes time and resources to re-create an old piece of furniture and the designs and ideas some come up with are amazing!

So, are you artistically minded or maybe a little challenged in that area of life skills?! It really doesn’t matter which. Work with what you have, in skills and resources. If you want to upcycle an old chest of drawers and it’s the first time you’ve attempted anything like it, think it through before you start slapping paint on.

Have a look at images online to get some ideas.
Make a list of what you’ll need and some notes on how to do it. Have you got space somewhere you can work and leave it when you’re needed elsewhere? Can you use eco-friendly products? How much is it going to cost?

Upholstery:
Upholstery crosses over with furniture really. Is your sofa really too saggy to be comfortable anymore? Check out whether it’s possible to refurbish it. – Sometimes it’s not so be realistic here!
But maybe it’s fine but could do with recovering. Professional recovering, again can be quite costly but there are other ways.

Blankets and throws can be super decorative and hide a multitude of sins – read ‘stains’! – I made this throw with only 3 colours because that’s what I had in my yarn stash. It got so popular that I eventually got around to creating a super simple pattern. It’s listed here if you’d like a cool project you can pick up and put down anytime. And the throw is unique – 100%. Make it in random colours or stick to a few blending colours.

And even dining room chairs can be upholstered at home. You’d have to do a little research into the tools you need and whether or not to take an evening class, but this is a satisfying hobby according to my daughter and could even turn into a local business. You never know 🙂

Other Textiles:

Collect large and small pieces of cloth for making new cushion linings and/or covers. Curtains, quilt covers and even blankets can often be found in charity shops if you’ve nothing available and want to refresh your furnishings.

Even old curtains could be used to line other curtains for winter months. Keeping out the drafts will help keep your fuel costs down and keep cosy anyway.

Also, clothes that are really too small, too stained or too holey could be harnessed into your recycling activities. Cut the good parts out and save in a ‘cloth box or bag’ and use later to make patchwork covers or even new clothes. I made a patchwork skirt when I was a lot younger (and slimmer!) It’s looking a little sad now but it’s been hanging around for over 40 years and I can’t bring myself to throw it out 🙂

Quick note:

A sewing machine comes in handy and can be bought fairly cheaply these days. They used to be almost a ‘luxury’ but a regular non-fancy machine could cost less than £100 and could save you a lot more. This is a Brother machine that comes in at around the £100 mark but there are cheaper options. Please research thoroughly as I haven’t used this one myself.

Brother Sewing Machine at Amazon (UK)

CHILDREN:

Clothes:
Kids grow out of their clothes almost before they’ve been washed! When that happens, either pass down to a younger sibling or give away to a friend or charity. There are apps you can sell them on too. But if they really aren’t saleable and not really worth passing on, do the same as before; cut the good parts out and save them for other things. Keep buttons and working zips as well.

Some of these pieces of cloth and general haberdashery can be siphoned off to a craft box for the children…

Craft box:
Cereal boxes, egg boxes and all sorts of containers can be used to create models and games and will encourage children to enjoy crafts and make the best use of their imagination.
Often parents say ‘but they’ll play with the box more than the gift inside’ and from my own experience, I would say that’s pretty much true a lot of the time!

So, how about getting one step ahead and creating something out of a box in the first place (and put your credit card away!)

Medium sized boxes can be used to make:

dolls houses, castles, model villages, cars and boats and even puppet shows – This article will give you some ideas- Boxland

If none of these ideas resonate, try googling or youtube-ing – for example ‘how to upcycle my washing machine’ – I’ve known a few friends who have recycled the drum of an old washing machine into a barbecue or garden waste burner. The rest of the machine is normally taken away by a metal scrap merchant although if you’re handy with tools and like messing around with bits of metal, maybe a sculpture or a practical set of shelves may be possible?

Whatever it is you’re getting rid of or perhaps been hoarding for ‘later’ allow yourself a moment of creative imagination before you declutter and throw everything out. Think Recycle, Upcycle, Re-use.

Here’s to a Happy Planet!

Linda x

P.S. If you are de-cluttering your home and it’s all got a bit too much, there’s a handy download I put together to help you get through the task step by step. It’s listed here (at the At Home page)

Boxland

How many of us have experienced the delight in giving a small child a brand new toy, only to find he or she really does prefer the box it came in?

Well, two can play at that game.

Welcome to Boxland, where anything may happen. Let your imagination run wild and spend some quality time with the little darlings. Added bonus: you can leave your credit card in your wallet. If you’ve just had a de-clutter or a spring clean, you may have to do a little collecting first. Look out for, and stash:

Cardboard boxes:
To make two of the projects on this page you’ll need a box large enough for your child to sit in, as a base. Then collect any other cardboard boxes, cereal packets, paper plates, anything that’s clean and food-free.

-Junk Mail comes in handy:
Collect junk mail, advertising brochures, catalogues and magazines. Anything colourful will do.

-Packing:
Bits of shredded paper, wrapping paper with a raised pattern, look for different textures to make it more fun and interesting.

-haberdashery:
Small pieces of cloth, ribbon, shoe laces, yarn, rope and any other trimmings are great for adding finishing touches.

Alongside all these recycled goodies, you’ll need:

-pencils, markers, crayons, paints etc;
-a decent pair of scissors, and perhaps a craft knife. Keep these out of reach of little fingers.
-glue, sellotape, maybe a little ‘blu-tac’
-paper fasteners

So, here we go…. projects and ideas for recycling household stuff into delightful toys;

Trains, Boats and Cars

… whichever your child happens to be into at the moment. The only downside to this – you need a strong back as you’ll be expected to provide engine power when the vehicle is built.

Start with a large box that your child can sit comfortably in. Put a cushion inside if they are too little to see over the top.

With paper fasteners, attach paper plates for wheels and steering. Or cut circles out of card and attach with a length of yarn through the centre. Make the wheels turn somehow.

-Cut out a windscreen from another box or piece of card, with a window, and glue to the main body.

Add extra ‘carriages’ to a train by tying smaller boxes on a length of rope, or ribbon behind the main carriage. These smaller boxes can carry the passengers (teddies or other favourite toys)

-stick pictures or stickers to decorate or paint the whole thing.

  • optional extra: An engine needs horsepower, so you need some reins. A fairly sturdy length of rope attached through the front of the ‘vehicle’ should do it. Now you can pull your tiny around in their train, car or boat until you run out of fuel.

Fairy castles and Doll’s Houses

A house or castle shouldn’t need pulling round so you can sacrifice a little sturdiness for size. Put 2 boxes together to make a large house your child can go in and out of. The only thing to look out for, is the child leaning on the walls… they may fall down. A large cushion may help secure it, or will at least break the fall 🙂

If you’re making a castle, glue some smaller boxes round the top of the walls for turrets.

‘Wallpaper’ the insides of the house or castle with pictures from magazines and old catalogues. Paint the outside in bright poster paints.

Cut out windows and stick two pieces of cloth on the inside to represent curtains.

Outside the box: Cut a circle of blue card or cloth and lay it outside to serve as a pond. Cut out orange fish shapes from card and scatter them on the ‘water’.

Theatres and TVs

Find a box that will sit on the table and be big enough to partially conceal someone sitting behind it.

Cut or remove half the base of the box. Then turn it on its side. The piece you removed is where the stage is set. If possible, instead of removing the base half, fold it back and adjust the width, so that ‘props’ can sit on it.

Decorate the theatre lavishly with shiny paper, ribbons and bows etc;

Hang a length of cloth over the back of the box (originally the open top) to hide the pupeteer.

Then hold your own puppet show. Make up a script and see how long you can stick to it before laughing!

Ideas for home made puppets:

  • Cut celebrity pictures from old magazines and stick them to thin card, Attach a sturdy length of card or a smooth stick (chopsticks perhaps?) with sellotape to the back of the ‘celebrity’ puppet.
  • Wooden spoons make very effective glove puppets that small children can work easily. Tie a piece of cloth round the ‘neck’ of the spoon. Paint on a face and stick on some ‘hair’ using yarn or something similar. The child can hold the handle of the spoon under the cloth.

Un-armed Bandits!

Turn a medium sized box onto its longest edge and on the inside of the edge, draw target areas. These could be strips of different colours with numbers, or different sized numbered circles. Don’t make the numbers too high, no more than 10.

On the base of the box – at the ‘top’ edge, cut 2 slits a few inches apart large enough for a counter to pass through.

Use plastic counters or cut circles from card. Make lots so you don’t run out too quickly.

Child pushes their ‘coins’ in one slit and if it lands on a target area clear of the lines, the child wins that number of coins. There’s room for diplomacy here; if the young player is getting to the end of their coins, a little extra bonus wouldn’t go amiss 🙂

The ‘winning’ coins are posted back through the second slit, much to the amusement of the child, especially if you are slightly hidden from view.

These are just a few of many creations you can make in the wonderful world of boxes. How about…

  • making a doll’s house as an ongoing project, slowly adding matchbox furniture and pipe cleaner dolls
  • building a complete model village around a village green, space permitting

When the box finally gives up its struggle to survive under such heavy play conditions, recycle what you can and make something else!

Have Fun!

Linda x

P.S. I’ve put together a quick download of 30 off-grid family games to lure them from their electronic devices! Listed here

Breaking Ice with Parlour Games

Playing parlour games was considered to be part of every day life just a few short decades ago. Digital games tend to be quite solitary – unless you’re on an online team game I guess!

But what happens when the internet’s down or there’s a power cut? Relying on ‘the system’ can be very disempowering but I’m here to say ‘Bring the fun back whether the leckie or the teckie is working or not!’

So let’s break some conversational ice. When you play games, whether they’re board games, card games, pencil and paper games or any other game that doesn’t need to be ‘plugged in’, you do have to speak to each other.

That could mean simply saying things like ‘it’s your turn’ or ‘pick a card’. But if there’s someone in your game who can press his or her fun button, these quick speaks could be lengthened and before you know it, you’re all chatting and having fun. For example…

  • Pretending that you’re going to cheat can cause riotous behaviour, although how riotous will depend on the atmosphere and length of fuses the players have.
  • Getting it wrong as an adult always makes the kids chuckle. Happy kids are what we’re going for after all. I employed this tactic many times over the years and although my grown up children still probably think I’m a bit dippy, I can laugh alongside their sibling jokes about me (sssh… because I know better!)

So, here’s a game that’s been played for many years in various forms and is suitable for all ages who can put pencil to paper. Young children especially like this game.

The more players the merrier but the game can be played with just two players. Each player will need a piece of paper and a pencil. Cut A4 pages in half lengthwise and give one piece to each player. I would also have some paper clips ready if you have some and if none of the children are likely to put them in their mouth, nose or ears 🙂

Each player draws a picture of a head and neck at the top of their paper. This could be the head of a monster or a person or maybe a robot? The drawing must be kept secret. Make the neck slightly longer and fold over the paper twice to hide the drawing but leaving the two marks for either side of the neck visible.

Pass the piece of paper to the player on your left. You may find it easier to use a paper clip to hold the paper in place.

The next drawing is a body and arms. Each player draws a body and arms taking the two neck marks as guidelines but not looking at the head that was drawn by the previous player. Mark the bottom of the body so the next player knows where to start the legs. The paper is then folded over as before and passed on to the next player.

The next drawing should be the legs. You could include the feet on this one or make the feet another stage. Using the mark at the base of the body drawn by the previous player, draw the legs and fold over the paper again. Mark the bottom of the legs if you are passing it on again for the feet to be drawn by another player, or include the feet in your drawing.

Fold over the paper after the final drawing and pass on to the next player to open and reveal the weirdest and funniest people/monsters/animals that you’ve ever seen!

I love to share fun games we used to play in days of (not-so) old.

There’s a free printable of ten games on this page somewhere when you join the ‘Happy Families‘ community.

Have Fun

Linda x

P.S. In case you’ve just about topped your email capacity, there’s also a book download on this page. Indoor Family Games is where I extracted this little game from!

Pocket Crowdfunder

Yes! The Crowdfunder campaign’s published. Not sure what to do now.

But I guess I need to tell as many people as possible about it. The idea has so many good points to it that I really want to get it off the ground.

The money isn’t as important as the exposure – well, the small target of £150 would get the idea launched of course but overall I want to help support small businesses and local communities.

Here are some points about Pocket Bags and where they’re going:

*Practical handmade extra ‘pockets’ that tie onto belts, bags purses etc;

*Lovely gift idea for you or a friend

*Goal is to launch a local cottage industry and a business model ready to share nationally or even internationally.

*New designs, colours and sizes in development all the time

If you’d like to take a look at my Crowdfunder page and share it, I would be so grateful. It’s not a highly polished affair just a simple homemade campaign for simple handmade products.

Stay Safe

Linda x

Pocket Bags: Name Change!

Well, they’ve taken on a few names over the past few months and many different design ideas but after much polishing of the pattern and playing with catchy names, I think I’ve got there – finally!

Honestly, when I first had this idea, I thought it was going to be straightforward. I mean, it’s just a tiny bag after all and if I was making them for me or the family then the original version would probably have been fine. BUT my mind went off on a creative escapade of its own and I had no choice but to follow 🙂

So now I’m ready, or as ready as I’ll ever be, to get this Crowdfunder campaign rolling. I’m only looking for a few donations to pay for the packaging – the bags have to be presented nicely and if they’re in their own little box, they make great gifts as well.

But more to the point, I’m doing this to showcase small and local businesses and with a view to keeping everything as enironment friendly as possible. The bags will eventually be on sale on a new UK creative sellers platform – Home of the Mall – which was recently created as an alternative to Etsy because, although a great site, Etsy has got so big that it’s not easy to get seen, however good your product is.

So my biggest task now is to promote the crowdfunder campaign as much as possible and, hopefully, find a few people who would love to support small businesses and the creative arts. Fingers crossed!

I should be able to publish tomorrow and I’ll post a quick update here when it’s live just in case you’d like to see what I’m up to!

Stay safe

Linda x

B-Bags

No, not a typo and I’m not going to write about tea bags, although I could probably write a book on tea and it’s variations!

But no, today I want to share a brand new and exciting project that – hopefully – will launch in a few days. It’s a Crowdfunder campaign to jump-start a product and support small and local businesses.

The B-Bags in question are mini bags that tie on to belts, belt loops, scarves, bags and loads of other things. They are also big enough to hold a special item such as an amulet or a moonstone. Or something less zen such as a few coins or a small lighter. Here’s a quick snapshot of ideas:

And they’re hand-made – crocheted with love and care by yours truly.

But my ultimate aim is to create a stir and receive so many orders that I HAVE to get someone else on board too. There are after all only so many hours in a day and sometimes Netflix beckons 🙂

Giving someone else, and hopefully lots of someone elses an income, albeit a fairly modest one, will develop quickly into a cottage industry for local people and my huge ginormous goal is to set up a kind of mini franchise system that may appeal to many areas of the UK, especially high unemployment areas.

And I guess, as my imagination seems to know no limits at the moment, this could also be a global network of cottage industries.

This is the kind of work where social distancing is fairly simple – not necessarily enjoyed but the operational plan will be easy to install. Also, of course, crocheters, packagers and administrators will be able to more or less choose their work hours and times to suit their lifestyle.

I’m so excited about this project as it ticks so many boxes:

*Local employment
*Supporting small business
*Eco – friendly product
*Hand-made
*Extensive colour choices

And on top of all that, it’s a fabulous new idea that’s practical, pretty and affordable. A perfect gift for a loved one or yourself!

Now, I have to polish the Crowdfunder story a little, sort out some images and then bombard Facebook and Instagram with some fabulous posts. Wish me luck!

Love and Peace
Linda x

Homemade Gifts

Homemadegifts-pin

Making gifts for family and friends is so rewarding and there are many crafts that can be turned into pleasing and organic homemade gifts.

And you don’t have to be a crafting expert to create beautiful gifts. A while ago, I wrote an article called ‘Giving Green which includes a few project ideas to inspire new ways of giving gifts.

We all tend to live busy lives and often realize a week before a special birthday or a celebration such as Christmas that we haven’t sorted out gifts and/or decorations. So, off we trot to the shops and buy something we hope will be gratefully received.

And if you’re living on a tight budget as many of us are, that purchase can be based on cost and will possibly create a hole in the budget that week or month.

A couple of years ago, I found myself with a huge amount of knitting yarn in October and very little money so I bought a knitting pattern from Etsy (only a few pounds) for a pair of cozy slippers and spent most evenings knitting for my family.

On Christmas morning, they were all delighted with their gifts. I also made some finger-less gloves and, to avoid buying plastic coated wrapping paper, I tied each ‘package’ with a wide red ribbon.

Altogether, I had to buy some stop slip glue – which, yes, is plastic based, but unfortunately I couldn’t find an alternative at the time. It seemed quite expensive – around £5 for a small bottle, but the bottle covered all 12 pairs of slippers.

And I bought a few metres of wide red ribbon (Instead of wrapping paper) which also only cost a few pounds. Oh, and the original pattern, because I couldn’t find one I liked in any of my knitting books.

All, in all, I spent around £12 and created 12 gifts. Now, I did have the yarn to begin with, but a lot of that yarn was bought in charity shops and some was recycled by un-ravelling previously hand knitted items.

knitting

Getting into recycling and handmade mode is incredibly good for the soul. Even if you have to go to work every day, there are still evenings or a couple of hours every day when you could be enjoying a creative hobby, and turning that hobby, not necessarily into a side hustle business, but a way of giving handmade and unique gifts as well as saving money.

And a special bonus, is that you have complete control over the materials you use, which means you can be plastic-free as far as possible.

Have a quick look at the ideas in ‘Giving Green‘ and come up with some of your own that suit you and your abilities. Crafting for a couple of hours or even 30 minutes a day frees your mind from problems and as an added bonus, helps eliminate snacking in front of the TV – no more diets necessary!!

Happy Crafting!

Linda x

P.S. I’ve just updated my knitting pattern designs which are available on Etsy, Amazon and Payhip. Check them out and get knitting now 🙂 Knits U Love

Related Pages:

Where Do I Start?
Giving Green
Green Gifts
Christmas in August
Christmas Knits
Knitting for Christmas
Making Purses