DIY advent calendar

It’s that time of year – time for my annual DIY advent calendar.  Since I shared my mini forest DIY advent calendar last year, I have had so much love for it.  It even got featured in Marie Claire Maison. Wow!  So this year the stakes were high – I’ve also had readers asking me months ago what I was going to make this Christmas!

I went through a few DIY advent calendar ideas but in the end I loved the idea of making santas and their little elves.  Aren’t they so Christmassy and cute?  I chose different sizes as they not only look great but also allow me to put different size gifts under each one.   I love making my annual advent calendar to share here and inspire others but also it’s Anya’s favourite part of Christmas by far.  She adores the little surprise that each day brings and that makes making my own advent even more special for me.

diy advent calendar

To make this DIY advent calendar you will need:
24 craft cones in different widths and sizes
acrylic paints (in your chosen colours)
a fine black pen
mini felt balls
number stickers

advent calendar to make for childrenmake your own diy advent calendar

First of all get your cardboard cones and using a pencil mark out the outline of the hat area and face for the santa cones.  Also mark out the little face area for the elves.

Next paint the santa hats in your chosen colours, paint the beard bit white and the face bit in a skin tone colour – I used an acrylic paint colour called antique white.  Similarly paint the elf cones and their faces. Some colours will require two coats for a better finish otherwise the cardboard will show through.

Using a fine black pen draw on little eyes for both the santas and the elves.  Glue the felt balls on to make santa’s noses and thats the cones done.  Either use number stickers to number the cones or you can even paint or write them on.  Finally, add little gifts, notes or whatever you like under the cones and you have a super cute advent calendar.

DIY advent calendar for kidsDIY advent calendar santa

What I especially love about this DIY advent calendar is that it’s simple enough for kids to make.  Just get them the cones and they can create and decorate the santas as they wish.  Also once the advent calendar has been used, you can easily turn these santas and elves into hanging Christmas tree decorations.  Do you make your own advent calendar?  I’d love to hear about what you make.

{I bought the cones on ebay but they are easily available from craft shops as are the felt balls.}

best books for kids aged 7 years

Books are my favourite gifts to give kids.  For birthdays, for Christmas gifts, for any occasion at all.   With so many fabulous kids books out there, it’s not hard to find the perfect book for any child.  Here I’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite books – some of which we already have and others that are on our wish list. I’ve mixed up the selection to include picture books, art books, activity books, educational books and more.

Anya’s Christmas gifts always include books and usually a selection of different types like the ones I’ve suggested here. The one that I am looking most forward to buying her this Xmas is The School of Art which I have browsed through and it looks great not just for kids but for adults too.  The books I’ve picked are for a range of ages from toddlers to 10 year olds so there’s something for everyone.  The ages though are just rough guides, not set in stone.

Here are my best kids books gift suggestions for this year:

Continue Reading "Ebabee Christmas gift guide 2015: Books"

tips for cooking with kids everyday

Do you cook with your kids?  I don’t mean the odd cake or planned baking time but involving them in everyday cooking, everyday?  I love cooking and cook most days but I just didn’t enjoy it as much with Anya because of the mess and slowness that it brought.  I used to despair at the extra cleaning up, the extra time, the extra everything.  A simple task that was supposed to take 10 minutes would take five times that! 

Then I started thinking about it and realised that cooking with Anya could be a lot of fun if I changed the way I looked at things.  She is interested in cooking (as most kids are) and it would be a real shame not to develop her interest especially when we all know that there are so many benefits of cooking with kids.  So I thought about how I could make our cooking time in to something that we both looked forward to everyday.  Here’s what I did and what anyone can do to make cooking with kids a daily thing that fun for everybody.

tips for cooking with kids

My tips for cooking with kids everyday (without killing them 😉 )

1. Make up your mind to remain patient no matter what.
Before you start, make up your mind to stay patient. This has helped me no end. Taking  a minute beforehand to decide that impatience isn’t an option has made for much happier cooking together times, for Anya and for me.  And after a while,  like me, you will naturally be more patient.

2. Only cook with kids when you have time.
Cooking with kids is always going to take a lot longer than if you did it by yourself.  There will be days when you need to be somewhere or you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, so just do it yourself on those days.  But when you know you have more time, that’s when you can take a slower pace, keep your patience in check and enjoy the process together.

3. Expect mess.
This used to drive me insane – poor Anya would barely spill a drop and I’d whip out the cloth and clean up after her every move.  I put myself in her shoes and I couldn’t think of anything more irritating than someone cleaning up after you every five seconds
!  So now I accept there will be mess, sometimes a lot of mess and when I feel like reaching for that cloth, I just remind myself of the decision I made before I started cooking – see point 1.

4. Let them lead where possible.
Give them a task that they can be in charge of, without any help from you.  This makes kids feel happy and proud – the look of pride on Anya’s face when she has done something completely by herself and the concentration while she’s doing it is priceless.  It can be as simple or as involved as your child can manage, depending on their age of course.  Things like pouring all the ingredients in to a bowl and mixing or breading homemade fish fingers which is one of Anya’s favourite jobs.

5. Let them express themselves.
If you’re a fan of cooking, you’ll know that it’s one of life’s great pleasures for so many reasons. For me cooking is fun, it’s relaxing and it’s so creative.  This is exactly how kids should be allowed to feel about it too if they are going to enjoy it.  The only way they will feel like this is if they are allowed to express themselves freely, without you giving instructions the whole way.  Let them give ideas on what to cook, suggest extra ingredients that may not have been part of the plan or give ideas on presentation.

6. Think of it as bonding time.
Cooking together with your kids is a great time for bonding but only if you view it as this.  Once you view it as this, cooking becomes such a fun part of your time together and you will come to look forward to it everyday.  Anya and I chat about her day, tell jokes and laugh at the mishaps and spills.  And then when Richard comes home, she excitedly tells him about what she helped make.

These are a few things I’ve done but I’d love to hear from you too. Would you involve your kids in everyday cooking?  Do you have any tips for cooking with kids everyday?

P.S. If you’d like to check out some recipes perfect for kids to get involved with, take a look at these soba noodles or these homemade pizzas or homemade fish fingers

a clever clothes storage idea

My friend and fellow blogger Cristina from across the pond shared a very clever clothes storage idea.  I thought the idea was so great that I had to share it here.  It’s such a simple idea but then simple ideas are always the best!  The idea – store your clothes horizontally instead of stacking them vertically (on top of each other).

Just the other week I did this with Anya’s sweaters and it’s not only helped us find things quicker but there is no after-mess to tidy up.  When her sweaters were vertically stacked on top of each other I had to get the whole pile out and by the time I pulled out the one I wanted, the whole pile collapsed – you know how it is. And when Anya tried to get one out, well that meant chaos!  Now that I’ve rolled them all up and lined them up – I pull out the one I want and the rest stay undisturbed. It’s also so much easier to see what you want.  And the best part is that even when Anya pulls them out herself, there is no mess. With the lighter clothes like t-shirts, I don’t roll but fold and do the same – again so easy to see what’s what and pull out what you need.

Next, I’m going to be re-organising my wardrobe this way.  What do you think of this clever clothes storage idea? Great, right?  Got any other great tips to be more organised with your or your kids wardrobes?

how to make mini apple pies from scratch

We recently went through a huge house renovation project.  Of all the rooms in the house, it’s turned out that our kitchen is where we spend all our time.  We’ve barely used the living room so far, even when friends come over as everyone gravitates to the kitchen.  As a result of practically living in the kitchen, we have been having friends over a lot more and that has encouraged me to try new recipes and experiment more so I’ve been sharing more recipes here too.  Recently I made these mini apple pie stacks which were yummy so I thought I would share the recipe with you as they are perfect little party desserts.  And who doesn’t love an apple pie?

Kids and grown-ups alike will love these mini apple pies so they’re great for any kind of gathering.  And the best part is that nearly all the work can be done the day before.  I’m loving these as a festive treat -they’re a nice alternative to mince pies especially as they look so snowy and Christmassy with all that icing sugar.  Not only are these mini apple pies delicious and gorgeous to look at, but they’re also easy to make.

So here’s how to make mini apple pies:

Makes:  10 mini pies

6-7 granny smith apples peeled and cored (mini ones)
½ a 370g pack of ready rolled unsweetened shortcrust pastry
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon mixed with 1 tsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp icing sugar
creme fraiche

Start by cutting out discs of your shortcrust pastry.  I used a 5cm diameter cookie cutter so that the apple pie stacks were small enough to pick up with fingers.  Bake the discs on baking parchment for 10-15 minutes at 175ºC (or 350ºF) for fan assisted ovens.  Otherwise just follow the guidelines on the pastry pack.  To make sure that the pastry discs stay flat, place another sheet of baking parchment and a baking tray on top while baking.  Take out of the oven and leave to cool – removing the baking tray on top.

Next slice the apples really thinly in to rings – ideally use a mandolin if you have one. The apple rings should be roughly the size of your pastry discs.  Heat a large frying pan and melt a generous knob of butter. Lightly brown the apple rings a few at a time.  They just need a minute or so on each side.  Take them out just as they start to soften – you don’t want them too soft as they will be very tricky to handle later.  Once all the apple rings are done, add another knob of butter to the pan. Once melted,  put all the apple rings back in the pan and sprinkle with 3 tbsp of brown sugar.  Very gently turn the apple rings in the butter and sugar to caramalise them.  Once caramalised, leave the apple rings to cool.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and start building your apple pie stacks.  Take around 3 apple rings and place on top of each other.  Sprinkle the top ring with the cinnamon sugar and add 3 more apple rings on top.  Continue doing this until you have 10 apple stacks.  Place another sheet of baking parchment on top of the apple stacks and a heavyish baking try or similar on top to compress the stacks a bit.  Put in the fridge and leave to cool.  You can do up to this stage the day before – just remember to place your pastry discs in an airtight container.

how to make mini apple pies

When you’re ready to serve, heat up the apple stacks in the oven on a low-moderate heat for a few minutes. Then place the stacks on the pastry discs, sprinkle the tops with icing sugar and place under a hot grill to brown.  This will take no more than a minute or two and they will come out looking all golden and slightly charred at the edges like in the pic above.  Once out of the oven, dust with more icing sugar and serve as they are or with a dollop of creme fraiche on top.

mini apple pies recipe

how to make mini apple pies

I’m not a huge fan of desserts but even I can’t turn down these delicious mini apple pies.  The last time I made these for friends they disappeared in seconds so I suggest making 2-3 per person!  

how to make mini apple pies

I will definitely be making these as a festive party treat next month when I have a few Christmas do’s.  And the best part is that with our kitchen being so welcoming and user friendly, our friends often help with the last minute serving up.  With our renovations we went way over budget with our kitchen but now I know it was so worth!  I’ve since learned that a good place to get affordable and quality kitchens is betta living so maybe next time we will check that out.  Does your kitchen inspire you to cook and socialise more? 

P.S. If you want some more party food inspiration, take a look at my mini fish and chips and honey, soy and ginger chicken skewers.  

I got the idea for these mini apple pies from an old Gary Rhodes recipe which I have adapted. 

{all photos by ebabee}


Christmas gift ideas for 5 year old boys

Yesterday it was all about the girls so my next Christmas gift guide, has got to be all about the boys.  If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I don’t do plastic toys, battery operated toys or anything like that. Instead I prefer toys that require imagination and encourage creative play.  So you’ll find lots of fun wooden toys, games, crafts and more.  Many of these gifts would work for girls as well, including things like the superhero dress up set – after all girls can be super heroes too, right?  

Here are some of my favourite Christmas gift ideas for boys: 

1. wooden binoculars | 2. billyburg quirky cashmere soft toy | 3. cute goat tee | 4. petrol blue superhero cape and mask | 5. London jigsaw puzzle | 6. wooden fishing game | 7.  build your own boat | 8. circus stamp set | 9. pirate colour in and pop-out art set | 10. moustache knee high socks | 11. set of 5 handmade wooden racing cars | 12. superhero wall or table lamp | 13. wooden football game | 14. magnetic wooden construction set

P.S. If you want more Christmas gift inspiration, take a look at our Christmas gift ideas for girls, baby boys and baby girls.

Christmas gift ideas for 5-6 year old girls

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would share my next gift list.  This is a list of lots of gift ideas for girls aged mainly between 4 and 7 years.  I’ve tried to mix up the suggestions as not all girls like girly things so I’ve included building toys and superhero stuff too.  There are quite a few crafty things too as I always believe in giving gifts that encourage imagination and creativity.  So here are my top Christmas gift ideas for girls: 

1. felt fox handbag | 2. sheep knitting toy craft | 3. pink butterfly wings | 4. surprise cone with lots of goodies inside | 5. Christmas gingerbread biscuit baking kit | 6. cute cloud plate | 7. waist ribbon party dress | 8. raccoon knee socks | 9. make your own wooden jewellery craft | 10. Design Your Own Superhero Cape | 11. set of two rattan hula hoops | 12. magnetic blocks building set | 13. ice-lolly soft toy cushion | 14. my longest jigsaw puzzle | 15. colourful tin teaset | 16. eskimo doll | 17. grey play tent | 18. bad eye lily doll

P.S. Here are some Christmas gift ideas for baby boys and baby girls

the amazing human body detectives

Lately Anya has been asking a lot of questions about the human body and how it works.  Her questions were becoming more and more involved and I didn’t have the answers.  But she was really curious to know more so I did what I always do – I went looking for a book.  I didn’t want a really serious book with anatomical diagrams which would be boring and too complex for a 6 year old but most of the books I came across were like this.  So I continued looking and then I found The Amazing Human Body Detectives.

best human body books for kids

The Amazing Human Body Detectives is a fab little book packed with interesting facts about the body.  The facts are shared in a fun and engaging way and the drawings are also playful and colourful.  Each double page spread focuses on one part of the body so you have spreads on the brain, teeth and bone, muscles and many more. There are facts as well as myths which are all shown in bite-size chunks so it’s easy for kids to read by themselves.  The book comes with a mini magnifying glass and then suggests ways in which a child can use it. There is also an interactive side where the book suggests experimenting with things like tasting food while holding your nose or looking inside your mouth and seeing what’s in there.

human body books for 5 year olds

Ever since we’ve had the book, Anya picks it up and reads out lots of interesting facts to me like a ‘sneeze releases 100,000 germs in to the air’ and ‘only 2% of the world population has green eyes’.  Lots of these facts have fascinated me too as I didn’t know them and so I’ve really enjoyed this book too.  Even if your child hasn’t shown much interest in the human body, I think The Amazing Human Body Detectives is a great little book to have on your shelf.  It’s perfect for 5-7 year olds as they can read it themselves and then come and tell you all that they’ve found out!

{All photos by ebabee. Anya wears floral mint pyjamas by the ebabee shop}

easy kids party food

I don’t always have time to make party food from scratch especially when there are quite a few dishes to make.  Sometimes I rely on shop bought things – I tend to do this more with sweet things and desserts as shop bought desserts can be really good and there is so much to choose from.  But even when I buy readymade stuff, I always like to put my own spin on it.  Just a simple twist that makes it personal and served with love.

When I have kids over for playdates, one my my go to treats is shop bought madeleines.  Madeleines are small enough for little hands and are generally loved by all kids so they go down a treat.  Recently I thought about serving these madeleines for a kids party too – but I wanted to dress them up and put my own fun touch on them as I think food should be fun, especially kids party food.  Madeleines always remind me of boats – they are shaped like boats and so I decided to turn them in to actual boats.


These couldn’t be easier to put together.  I simply attached a sail to each madeleine using a cocktail stick. The sails are cut out of some pretty wrapping paper I had and I’ve taped them on to the cocktail sticks. Next, I put little flags on with each child’s name so that these little madeleines could double-up as cute edible place holders for any kiddy gathering.  And to finish, a little sprinkling of icing sugar. 

easy kids party food ideas

If you’re looking for more kids party food ideas, take a look at my fun fish and chips

Christmas gift ideas for baby girls

Earlier today I shared some adorable Christmas gift ideas for baby boys.  Now it’s the turn of the baby girls. I had such fun putting this list together because everything is so, so cute!  While I’ve called this a baby girl gift list, there are lots of things here that would work just as well for a baby boy too.

I’ve picked a selection of toys, clothes and useful things all with gorgeous design and lots of cuteness for babies aged 0-2 years.  So here are my favourite Christmas gift ideas for baby girls: bear shaker toy | 2. dusky pink cotton twinset | 3. melamine bunny plate | 4. ricepuffy soft toy with knitted hat | 5. pingo the penguin soft toy | 6. cosy cocoon sleeping bag | 7. wooden heart wall music box | 8. reversible bunny bib | 9. knitted cloud sweater | 10. wooden baby rattle | 11. origami boat bath toys | 12. apple pillow | 13.pull along wooden train

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie