Summer Activities for Children (with Provident)

I know many parents will be dreading the long school summer holidays.  It’s always difficult trying to find enough for the children to do without breaking the bank and/or your own sanity.  I’m in my third summer break from school and I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home Mum, so I don’t have to find lots of childcare.  However, I also don’t have much extra cash lying around as we’re a one income family.  So finding cheap or free activities is high on my priority list for the next few weeks.

Of course the activities have to be something to keep my child interested, and we try to do a variety of things each week to stop boredom setting in.  I plan to arrange some ‘home’ days as well as days out.  We might even manage a few full family days a bit further afield, but I’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible.

Summer

So, my first port of call for activities is my local library network.  I consider us quite fortunate in Bury as we still have a relatively good network of libraries around the borough.  I love the annual national Summer Reading Challenge as it keeps up reading for pleasure as well as me not having to buy a pile of books every time we go out.  My daughter is mad on the Rainbow Magic Fairies and the library has been a real godsend as she always finds different ones every time we visit (And it’s only cost me the price of a bus ticket.  She can take out up to eight books at a time and they all count towards the reading challenge.  The website for the Reading Challenge is very interactive with games and puzzles as well as being able to unlock different content as more books are read.    This year’s Challenge is titled ‘The Big Friendly Read’ and is all about Roald Dahl, so this will be a fun set of books to read.  At the end of the challenge – reading six books in the six weeks – it’s great for the child to receive a certificate and possibly some other reward linked to the challenge theme.  I can’t wait to see the Roald Dahl poster.

Roald Dahl Books

While in the library we can find out what other workshops they have on.  We’ve taken part in arts and crafts (in collaboration with the art gallery) and writing workshops with local bookshops and learning centres.  Our local shopping centres also have regular themes over the summer.  The trick here is to avoid the high priced funfair rides and head over to the main gazebo where we take part in any competitions (drawling and treasure hunts) which are mostly free to enter and there’s often a craft workshop or something being sponsored by some of the retailers in the centre.  I love these days out as all the mess is left in the workshop and we come home with a few treats and something we’ve made.

I’ve also found that Pets at Home frequently run animal workshops – ‘My Pet Pals’ .  These give children (and parents) a chance to learn about reptiles, aquatics, insects, wild birds and small furries.  They are free of charge but you need to book a place, so keep an eye on the website for more information in your local store.

Another of our favourite things to do is pay a visit to the cinema.  Our cinema (Vue) runs a film every morning in the holidays at £1.99 per ticket (Mini Morning).  They are usually films coming to the end of their general release but we’ve seen quite a few films this way and at a fraction of the cost.  I’m hoping they’ll be showing ‘the secret life of pets’ over summer, fingers crossed.  Be warned though, it’s probably better going when it’s not pouring down as they can get pretty busy!

On our home days we alternate between enjoying some relaxation time in the garden (weather permitting), playing inside doing something creative.  Summer is a great time for the garden and I plan to do some major garden work this year.  This will include encouraging my daughter to grow some plants of her own.  I’ve bought a couple of packets of radish and spring onion seeds for her to plant.  As they grow pretty quickly she’ll be able to see the fruits of her labours and hopefully it will encourage her to try eating them too!

Radishes

If we do have to spend some time indoors (highly likely in a British summer), then we will undoubtedly get out something creative to do.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for low cost crafting materials and always try to have some available just in case.  There’s quite a lot of choice out there on the high street and you can find something for most budgets.  My favourites for the sheer volume of materials are the large craft jars in the Entertainer (around £10) and Wilko’s selection of boxes (£2 – £15).  Another great kit is the activity bag from craft planet (around £10) and they can be found online and from craft shops.  There are loads of materials and the essential glue as well as ideas sheets and instructions on how to make a project or two.  I like how the projects are aimed at children but all materials are good quality.  We’ve had felt pieces, funky foam, card blanks, coloured card, pipe-cleaners, beads and stickers (to name a few) in the past and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next one.  It’s always great fun to empty out the contents and start making.  These bags even come in boys and girls versions.

Craft Bag

My last tip is to start collecting small boxes, tubes, yogurt pots and bottle tops a few weeks before the holidays.  (Yogurt pots make great paint and glue pots).  You never know what these items can be turned into – just search Pinterest and You Tube for ideas – and best of all, anything that hasn’t been used can be given to your local nursery or reception class in September.

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

Don’t forget to do some baking too. Some scones, biscuits or cupcakes make great treats for a picnic, whatever the weather!

Vanilla Fairy Buns

Vanilla Fairy Buns

I’m looking forward to the holidays and I hope you have a great summer whatever you get up to.

Happy Holidays
x

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Hearts for Homes

I mentioned a few days ago that I had been asked to supply cards for a craft gift shop in Ramsbottom, so I thought I’d introduce it. It’s called ‘Hearts for Homes’ and is on Bolton Street, Ramsbottom. The proprietor, Kerry, opened the shop a couple of months ago as a place to sell her own handmade homewares. She now also sells work by several local artists and craftspeople.

Green Floral Owl

Green Floral Owl

Having visited the shop I can honestly say it is filled with gorgeousness. There is a lovely homely feel as soon as you walk in and you can feel the love, care and attention that has been put into every item. It’s a haven for unusual and unique gifts for others and yourself, covering all ages from baby blankets to wedding gifts and home décor. It really is a lovely place to be.

Thank You Berry Much

Thank You Berry Much

My cards are on sale there now and I am busy making more to add to the range. As always, the cards are all handmade and although some may be similar designs, all will have at least one element making each card unique.

Natural Love

Natural Love

If you are in Ramsbottom or are stuck for somewhere to go, do visit the town. It’s a haven for foodies with a number of independent cafes, restaurants and food retailers. There is an abundance of chocolate (hence the annual chocolate festival) and plenty of independent shops from toys to music and from fabric to antiques. Plus you can arrive in style on the ELR steam railway. It really is a great day out, so what are you waiting for? Get down to Ramsbottom and don’t forget to pop into Hearts for Homes!

Happy crafting
x

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It’s Father’s Day

I hope all the Dads out there are being spoiled today.  That’s if they let you spoil them that is.  My Dad really doesn’t believe in Father’s Day at all, so it’s always difficult to do anything, but he still got a handmade card and a visit from me this morning.

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It’s also his birthday next week which means I can indulge him with another handmade creation, along with a new golf glove and a book.

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We’re all going up to visit as well next weekend for a buffet, which is all he really loves – food and family – simple pleasures!

Well, it’s Father’s Day here for my husband and he has been inundated with handmade gifts from Alice – cards made at school and Brownies, a mini toolbox filled with ‘Dad’ bars of chocolate and the obligatory pack of new boxer shorts. What more could any Dad want?!

I hope Father’s Day is filled with food and family, as it should be.

Happy crafting
x

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Busy, busy, busy

Wow!  What a week.  They say when you’re waiting for a bus you can wait ages and then two come along at the same time.  Well, so it would seem do orders for handcrafted items!

I’ve been running Handmade by Katherine for around four years now with my blog and website, and at last the hard work is starting to pay off. I have been asked to write a blog for a summer tips calendar and I have been approached to supply a new local craft gift shop with handmade cards. So its all go around here this week.

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Of course, it’s also fast approaching Father’s Day (this Sunday) and the end of term, so my usual Saturday dance session with Alice has also turned into a bit of a frantic market over the last couple of weeks. This year my blackboard apple thank you cards have proved very popular along with the knitted fruit keyrings. When personalised with a teacher’s name they make a lovely little keepsake. So I’m busy making apple themed cards and gifts. I go to bed with apples dancing in the head, like the hippo’s in Fantasia! And I haven’t even started on Alice’s for her teachers yet…

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Best get back to the apples.

Happy crafting
x

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Wanderings

Once again I am waiting for Alice – this time at her tuition class.  But this time I opted for wandering around town for a bit before going for a drink in Costa!  I headed over to TK Maxx, as I love it in there and I haven’t been in for ages.  It’s always good for a browse and they have recently been stocking a few (often rather random) craft items.  I decided to give the clothes a miss and headed straight for the home décor, kitchen and gardening sections.  I was hoping to be spoilt for choice with papers, kits and accessories, but I was disappointed.  There were plenty of gorgeous notebooks, gift bags and painting tings, but nothing I could really justify So I browsed round the clearance aisles and found myself a complete bargain – right at the back of the bottom shelf – an A3 glass cutting mat for only £5 (RRP £19.99).  I’m so glad I went.  I’ve wanted one for ages and always forget when I’m out and about.  It proves it’s always worth routing  in the clearance items too!

xcut-a3-tempered-glass-cutting-mat

Thrilled with my bargain I felt quite cheery and browsed around the other aisles looking for some ideas and maybe a bit of inspiration.  I saw some lovely knitted cushion covers which made me want to completely redecorate the living room.  I will have to shelve that idea for the time being as the kittens are still doing a decent job of wrecking the joint, so I think we’ll leave that one for a little while.  I also saw an owl doorstop which reminded me of the pattern from an early issue of Craftseller magazine that I was going to crochet.  I really could do with a doorstop for my bedroom, I’m currently using my dance shoe bag which is not ideal – I’m forever tripping over the handles!  So that’s risen to the top of my to-do list – after my current order list and school teacher gifts that is!

owl doorstop craftseller mag

I also picked up a set of cupcake cases and little flags which I think will be great for some Summer baking in the holidays.  They were only £2 and are covered in little flowers, butterflies and ladybirds – what more could a seven year old want for her cakes?!

Time to collect Alice now, so

Happy crafting
x

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Visit to Bristol

This weekend we had a family visit down to my husband’s family in Bristol. We were visiting the family as we haven’t been down since Christmas and one of our nephews was playing at the Totterdown music festival.

The trip down was pretty uneventful, a bit of rain and fortunately it was cooler than it has been of late. Our air-con in the car stopped working a while ago and we didn’t want to be stuck in a boiling car for over three hours! Anyway, we had a good trip and I even managed to get some knitting done on the way!

On Sunday we were taken to a lovely new craft café on Wells Road, called Craftisan.

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We were told it was a craft shop and café, so it’s the ideal location to visit for me. Who can resist crafting goodies and cake?! I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a lovely shop, loads of natural light and lovely bright displays of craft materials, tools and some hand crafted items too. And the cake is delicious. Between us we sampled most of the selection on offer. I can totally recommend the millionaires shortbread and the chocolate, cookies and cream cake.

As we were off to watch the festival, we couldn’t stay too long, but I think we will be visiting again. They also have a lovely craft table for kids and run some craft workshops. So I reckon it would be a great place to visit with Alice, she could do some messy craft while I eat cake, drink tea and knit / crochet.

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Do visit if you get the chance, it’s laid back and very comfortable. The sofas are enormous!

Happy crafting
x

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#Carvoeiroboxes Part 2

Taking a little break from all the thank you card orders, I decided to have a browse through my mobile phone snaps.  This reminded me of the lovely bright #carvoeiroboxes I saw on holiday.

So I’ve just done a bit of searching online and found this fabulous blog all about them, when and by whom they were painted.  It would seem I was wrong as they are electricity cable boxes not phone cables as I first thought.  Anyway, they are on a blog about the Algarve, simply called Algarve Blog!

There are some amazing designs, only some of which I managed spot on my trip.  I wish I’d made more effort to locate and photograph them all now.

I think my favourite is the chilli pepper one, it looks great outside the restaurant.

20160514_151701I have no idea how many of them there are now, my guess is around sixty or seventy by now.  I’m sure more have been painted since the original blog post back in December 2015.

That reminds me, I must contact BT to see if they would be interested in doing something like this.  I love the idea of having local artists paint each box, maybe something along the lines of the cow parade (2004/5) or the lambananas in Liverpool (2009). My cousin was chosen to put her design onto one of the Superlambananas back in 2008.

These initiatives really brighten up the area and give people a chance to look around the place with a new perspective.  So I’d better get contacting some people!

Happy crafting
x

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