Weekend Box

I’m a little bit box mad. It’s not my fault. It seems to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment, so I can’t be the only one. I get my weekly shop delivered by Abel & Cole. I get a Simply Cook box monthly, a Love Lula beauty box monthly, the occasional Graze box (including for Harry) and coffee box (previously Kopi but have recently been trying Pact). I’m sure there are more that I have tried, but my latest discovery is the Weekend Box which is aimed at kids. I stumbled upon a promotional ad on Facebook which enabled me to get the first box free. It arrived on Thursday amid a pile of post that was – amazingly – ALL addressed to Harry. Wasn’t it his lucky day?

There are four activities in the box and it can be ordered fortnightly or monthly for ¬£7.50 a month (including P&P). I have selected monthly which means Harry will have one activity each weekend. For us, this is a much better option than fortnightly as we don’t struggle for ideas of things to do, but at the same time it is nice to try new things. And Harry gets just as excited about boxes as I do (see I’m not the only one).

2015-08-18 08.10.16Someone else likes them too!

What I didn’t realise about the boxes until it arrived was that each one has a theme. This one was Africa and the activities include making a Massai necklace, an elephant mask, a game of mancala and a fruit-loaded meringue (I believe each box includes a recipes, which obviously requires additional ingredients, but the craft activities provide all the bits and bobs – all we needed was scissors, pencil, paintbrush, that sort of thing). The activity cards have various facts about Africa and the thing that the child is making and when they have finished they can put a sticker on it. Then, when they have completed all four there is a certificate on the box that they can colour in and write their name on.

2015-09-05 13.25.21Opening the first activity!

2015-09-05 13.45.39 Another budding artist!

Harry’s choice today was the mancala, which I was quite excited about as we always played a variation of this game as children called awari. It was 2/5 for difficulty which was possibly a bit low, especially as the boxes are aimed at 3 to 6 year olds.

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Harry struggled painting the cupcake cases (although this might have been because I mixed the paint too thin and he was in a pain-in-the-bum mood today) and he is at that age where he likes making up his own rules to games although he is starting to understand more when you explain the rules of games to him – then when he does understand, boy do you have to stick to them! Of course, I was showing him how to play it the awari way – mancala is slightly different but instructions are provided so we will have to give that a go tomorrow! I think he wants to do the elephant mask next! Definitely worth signing up to a free one to see what it was like and something tells me we will be getting more in the future (box obsessed child).

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Goals for 2015

Last night was the induction for my MSc. As it is an online course it was in the form of a webinar.  Good to get it over with! That first ‘day’ is always so nerve wracking but I’m excited for Monday now. I have two modules to take me up to Easter – Corporate Governance Regulations and Policy, and Green Information and Operations Management.

Still a little daunting. I’m struggling to get things done some days as it is. In part, motivation, but mainly because of the demands of others on my time. But I’ll be fine.  I just need to prioritise and make sure others are aware of what I have to do. That is always the hardest part but I must remember that all my goals and ambitions are just as important as anyone else’s.

So on top of my studies, children and starting back at work at the end of February what other things will be filling my time this year? Well, writing goals include finding an agent, entering a short story competition each month, and also begin researching my grandmother.  Out side of that I will continue making soaps and candles  (and whatever else takes my fancy!) With the aim of maybe possibly selling at craft fairs and/or online.

So phew… let’s see if I can get through 2015 without going crazy!

Mint chocolate lip balm

A spare half an hour while waiting for James to come home so I couldn’t resist trying out my new lip balm tubes which finally arrived yesterday complete with vegetable peeler.

The following recipe is an adaptation of one of my earliest attempts. Each recipe I have done so far has a basic 2 parts beeswax to 3 parts cocoa butter to 5 parts oil and then added extras. My mint chocolate is as follows:

1tsp beeswax
1.5 tsp cocoa butter
2 tsp sweet almond oil
0.5tsp vitamin e oil
0.5tsp 100% chocolate
5 drops peppermint essential oil

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Everything but the peppermint was added to the bain marie until it melted.

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Then I stirred in the peppermint and quickly poured into the tubes.

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This quantity usually does a tub but I got out two tubes as I thought it would go further – it probably would have done a third but the tubs were quicker to get to!  The lip balm sets really quickly so I couldn’t faff about!

Excited to try this one. My first attempt was with milk chocolate so very creamy and I didn’t have anything in it to preserve it – interesting to see those now that don’t have vitamin e in! Still usable but they gone all bobbly. 

On another exciting note the deli finally has its honey supplier back so I can get their lovely honey and beeswax again. The beeswax is such a unique colour.

Lavender hand cream

Making things is becoming a bit of an obsession. Ever since I rekindled my candle making hobby I am unstoppable. Soaps, then bath bombs, and when I realised that I had all the ingredients from those to make basic lip balm, that was next on my list. But there is only so much soap and lip balm a person can use, so Christmas presents are sorted. Except, they’re not. I want them to be as fresh as possible so I won’t start making them until December. So what do I do in the meantime? Well, I looked up hand cream recipes!

There were several I wanted to try, but one stood out – not least because I had all the ingredients, and it didn’t require freezing and whisking. Sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax and lavender essential oil make up the hand cream. I also added a few drops of vitamin e oil as it has the benefits of prolonging its life (as oils like sweet almond oil are fragile they can go rancid after a few months but with the vitamin e it should last for around six months although it will be long gone by then…).

It was so simple to make. I halved the recipe and the quantity made fitted perfectly in one of my empty Lush facemask tubs. It is, not surprisingly, really oily so a little goes a long way and I’m glad I didn’t make the whole mix! I patted my hands dry after applying it, which I do even with hand creams that aren’t very oily because I can’t stand the initial feel of them, but even so it sunk in quickly and my hands feel amazing. The predominant scent is coconut despite adding the suggested amount of lavender, although there are subtle undertones. But of course, as with any recipe like this you can experiment with different essential oils and also different base/carrier oils. (I should probably wait until I’ve finished this hand cream though.)

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The recipe can be found here.