Chocolate Umbrellas

Chocolate Umbrellas…Doesn’t that sound lovely? Well they are! And cute!

The children were asking what activity we were doing today as they have gotten used to something happening in the kitchen most days during the holidays…I rummaged through my shelves and luckily found some lovely chocolate and some wooden sticks! That really is all you need for this one – oh and something to pour the chocolate into!

Initially I wanted shot glasses but we don’t own any proper ones (horror, I know!) – I liked the thought of chocolate shots – but instead I found some mini cup-cake cases and we ended up with umbrellas!

Don’t think I need to mention that the children loved them – the pictures speak for themselves – another bonus is the fact that I used 70% dark chocolate = rich! They didn’t beg for a second cup! Result!

  • Melt about 200g dark chocolate in heat proof bowl over simmering water – gently!!
  • Pour into case of your choice! Cup cake cases, shot glasses, egg cups, ice-cube trays – anything will do to be honest
  • Let cool for a few minutes in the fridge – then place wooden sticks in the middle
  • Leave in fridge for about an hour – maybe longer if large!
  • If using silicone cup cake cases as I did simply peel off. If using anything glass or ceramic, heat slightly with your hands and gently slide out chocolate shape
  • Give away as a gift in a pretty bag or serve with a steaming hot cup of milk on a cold day…feel the warmth and enjoy the silence!

Squishy Balloon Men

Christmas came and went and was lovely. Very lovely. It has left a warm, happy glow in the house – and a few extra kg’s that need to go…but we will not worry about those until January – right?

Our children love balloons – am not sure I have met a child yet that does not! Here is a little fun activity that will delight!

Warning – it is messy! Very messy! Prepare your mind and working space! 🙂

You will need:

water
corn flour
balloons
funnel
pen that dries on any surface
 
  • Blow up the balloon you are going to fill – a few times is good – and make sure you stretch it well. This will make filling it easier
  • Put a funnel on it
  • Fill with cornflour – as much as you can manage to get in there! This is tricky…my kitchen looked like we had had a snowball fight in it…. I used toothpicks and wooden skewers to stuff it as much as possible but in all honesty, the balloon people will be small and cute as it is hard to get them full!
  • Once you cannot get more into the balloon, add 2 tbsp of water to the funnel and have fun getting this into the balloon! 🙂
  • Close the balloon and dry it
  • Find some string and make hair – any string! Attach to the top of the balloon
  • Draw a face on it and voila! Have fun! Fat, thin, round, square….up to you!
  • The children love them – and they are great if you are feeling slightly stressed or irritable….Have a soothing effect!

If you fail at this activity..it happens…do not despair! Simply put lots of corn flour in a big bowl, add some water and let the children play with the goop! It has a fabulous texture – hard in the water but once you lift it out of the water it melts in your fingers! Great fun!

Salt Dough Ornaments and Reindeer Food!

So, we have almost got there! Christmas is less than five fingers away…that is how it works with my four-year old anyway!

It is getting harder for the children to sit still and activities that get them concentrating for more than two seconds are always welcomed!

The first one is a great one for all ages, but specially for those that are able to spell a few words on their own. It is making little salt dough ornaments for the Christmas Tree that the children can initial, write a note on or simply decorate. The dough can also be used to make name tags for gifts which is very cute, or simply little gift tags with messages on – like the one in the picture above.

Salt Dough (recipe also found here)

300g flour
150g salt
200ml water – ish!
 
  • Pre-heat oven to 150C
  • Place flour and salt in a bowl
  • Pour water in as you stir – when dough comes together stop adding water!
  • Get your hands in the bowl – knead the dough – if it feels a bit dry add some more water – if it feels too sticky add a bit more flour
  • Let your children have a piece of dough each, give them cookie cutters as well as rolling pins. Another great tool is a toothpick! They can draw faces, write notes or simply make their shapes look like hedgehogs (my youngest decided that was best use of them!)
  • Make sure you put a hole in the top, using toothpick, if you want to hang the ornament on the tree or place on ribbons for gifts
  • Once decorated – glitter is good here – put the shapes in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 1 hour – may be less if the shapes are rolled thinly – keep an eye on them. They should be light brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool – once cool paint with acrylics or leave as are
  • Hang them on the Christmas Tree, string onto gifts or decorate windowsills in your home

REINDEER FOOD

The second activity, and this is a MUST of course, is Reindeer Food making. How will Santa and the Reindeer know where to land if this is not sprinkled on the lawn or in front of your house?

This may look like sparkly cereal to you, but believe me, to a child it is magic! So simple and so sweet to see how excited about it they get. Mine decided to make quite a few of the little parcels and we went to a few friends of theirs and handed them out.

Reindeer Food

1 tbsp oats
Half a weetabix
1 tbsp bird seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raisins
Glitter of your choice
 
  • Add all the ingredients in a bowl – the children can have a tablespoon each and combine it.
  • Good stir
  • Then add sprinkles – lots! This is what lights the way in the night….
  • Fill little baking parchment parcels with a few tablespoons full of “food” and wrap up.

  • Save them for the evening of the 24th
  • Let your children write this little poem to go with it – or just read it to them! You can make up your own of course!
  • Make sure Santa does stop by….:-)

Reindeer Food Poem

                                                                                                                                                On the 24th at night
When the stars are shining bright
Be sure to take this magic food and sprinkle on the lawn
On Christmas, Santa’s reindeer travel miles before the dawn
But here’s a secret I have to tell, one you must try to keep
That Santa’s reindeer only come when you are fast asleep
So quickly put your jammies on and get a story read
Then sprinkle this magic treat outside and hurry off to bed!
 

All that is left for me to say is Have a Lovely Christmas – I hope you have a really special and memorable evening and morning – and that your wishes come true! Thank you for reading along and commenting, it really makes me smile when you do!

Glass Stained Christmas Biscuits

Probably the prettiest biscuits I have ever seen or made! I loved making these, as did the children! It was one of their Advent activities – inspired by an Annie Rigg article I read.

Great as a gift, a treat, a fun activity….also very easy! The most difficult part was bashing the sugar boiled sweets! Thought the children could do it but they actually found it too hard.

Probably worth while to mention that the sugar boiled sweets return hard once they cool – I somehow managed to make myself believe they would be soft and gooey….NO! Rock hard. If you prefer a soft, jammy centre, make the biscuits as per recipe but instead of sugar boiled sweets layer two biscuits on top  of one another – one with shapes cut out – and fill the cut out bit with jam! Will not be stain glass effect…but very tasty! 🙂

Glass Stained Christmas Biscuits (basic dough recipe the same as Cookie Christmas Tree)

 
450g plain flour
225g butter – softened
225g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
Sugar boiled sweets – different colours
 
  • Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs
  • Add caster sugar and continue combining
  • Add vanilla essence and crack the egg into the bowl and keep bringing the dough together – I usually crack it into a cup first…just in case it is a bad one!
  • Keep bringing together until you have a smooth dough ball. Wrap this in cling film and place it in the fridge for about an hour
  • Put the boiled sweets in freezer bags and bash with something hard!!! Keep colours separate as this gives a prettier end result

They sort of resemble little semi-precious stones…I think so anyway!

  • Once the dough has chilled pre-heat oven to 200C
  • Line baking trays with baking paper
  • Roll the dough out quite thinly – it rises a tiny bit in the oven but not much – and cut your shapes! Snowflakes are really pretty as are hearts and stars. If you have a Christmas Tree shape this would be sweet with little holes for glass stained effect baubles…
  • Lay them on the baking parchment trays and fill the holes you have cut in them with the crushed sweets – the children enjoyed this almost more than eating the dough every time I turned my back to them!!!
  • Once the biscuits are filled put them in the pre-heated oven for 10ish minutes – maybe slightly less depending on your oven. It is fun to watch the sweets melt…
  • Once cooked let them cool completely on the tray before moving! Tthey will come off ever so easily when cold and can be hung, stored or given away as gifts at Christmas Parties!