Pixabay for Excellent Copyright Free Blog Images

I searched for ages on Pinterest for websites that have copyright free images and one of the suggestions was http://www.pixabay.com

I love Pixabay! There are loads of free images, paid for suggestions if you want them, on just about every subject you can imagine. I put them into Canva (iOS app on the iPad) and create my Twitter and blog post images.

These are some examples that I have used recently. All the wording has been added by me in Canva.

If you upload 10 images you also get an advert free site. It’s free to join up, you can download the size of image you wish; small, medium, large, full size. All vary in file size obviously. You can donate via PayPal if you want to support the photographers.

So, if you are looking for a great range of images from some very talented photographers try Pixabay: http://www.pixabay.com

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Smiggle Blind Boxes Spikeys Series Two!

At a recent blogging event at the Smiggle store in Cardiff we got an exclusive look at the new series two Spikeys blind boxes.

Now my kids love blind boxes, blind bags of any description so when they came home with one each there was much excitement. If you don’t know anything about blind boxes it just means you can’t see what you’re getting. It’s a surprise.

Luckily we got two different ones, although I’m sure my daughter prefers the one my son got so I’m sure the arguments will start soon. The jealous glances at his penguin haven’t stopped since. There’s a good mix of “boy” and “girl” designs. Not important to me, but my son is very anti-girls stuff already.

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They are about four inches in height and made of vinyl with a printed on design. The biker we got has detail all the way around him. They are quite chunky feeling so they should last a while in destructive little hands, and they stand solidly, so hopefully no tantrums because they keep falling over. The heads and arms are moveable. I’m guessing the hands can hold something because there is a hole through them, although I must confess I have no idea what or even if the small hole is meant to do anything.

Like series one, there is also a mystery character for series two. I’m sure if you google once they are available someone will have put out there what the mystery character is, otherwise you will have a nice surprise if you happen to get it in your box.

The series two Spikeys are available in Smiggle stores and online in just two weeks (September 2016), so there is time to find the Smiggle store nearest you! Each Spikey has an RRP of £7.

A little known fact – look out for the swap station in store, you might be able to swap a double of yours for one of the three Spikeys on display that day. The mystery character will never be on display though! And don’t forget to pick up your collectible poster so you can tick off who you have.

If you are in Cardiff, Smiggle is in the St David’s Centre (or the old St David’s to us locals lol), just down from Debenhams on the right hand side. Or see their website Smiggle to order online.

Disclaimer: as part of the blogger event we received a free goody bag which included our Spikey blind boxes.

Pokemon Go but Where do They go?

I have finally caved and loaded Pokemon Go onto the Toy Infinity iPad. I swear my son has watched hours of some guy called Ali finding Pokemon on You tube over the last few weeks. 

So what is Pokemon Go? It is quite a clever idea my two are now even more keen to go walking in case they find Pokemon. I vote that anything that encourages walking and being outside can only be a good thing.

There are some privacy issues that have been highlighted and for this reason our profile is totally locked down and can’t be viewed by anybody. Mean Mum!

So far we have one Pokemon in our Pokedex (the place where they all appear).

By doing this I have completely destroyed their impression of me as Clever Mum. The only Pokemon we caught was in the house. The only wifi the iPad has is in the house. Oh dear. Best laid plans and all that…

Baking with Children

Nothing gives me more pleasure than baking a cake that I can then eat. Now the children have come along I still love baking I just don’t get to eat as much cake as I used to. I’m trying to pass on the love of baking and so far I’ve succeeded. The Baking with Children series of blog posts have one aim in mind. They can do nearly all of it by themselves. So if you have very young children use a packet mix, as they get older then they can start to measure out ingredients.

I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old. This week they used a packet sponge mix to make a cake with no input from me. My son did the water measuring, cracked the egg in and argued over who had stirred the longest. They then slathered the finished cake in Nutella and their body weight in sprinkles. All oven related jobs are done by me, they are nowhere near sensible enough to be allowed near any form of heat! 

I’m going to show you our favourite recipes, our favourite baking techniques and decorating ideas. I’m a normal person I don’t have cupboards full of fancy baking gear but I have built a fairly useful collection over the last two years. 

So what are the very basics you need?

A bowl (plastic preferably), large enough that the most vigorous stirrers don’t completely coat the kitchen in flour.

Measuring spoons and measuring cups (helps their accuracy when they measure it themselves until my son has done weights in school I’m sticking with cup measurements only. It’s easy to convert weight to cups by using an online conversion chart).

Wooden spoons

Spatula 

Whatever cake tin or muffin tin or baking silicone mould that you have.

And an oven!

You can bake a perfectly good cake with just those simple tools. I’ve added to mine over the last few years with different baking moulds, and a nice set of child size implements including a whisk that was destroyed by our dishwasher, some piping tips so they can really go wild with the decorating.

How about the basic ingredients?

If you’re keeping it simple packet sponge mix, otherwise use your favourite sponge mix recipe.

Eggs

Water from the tap

Butter

Icing sugar

Vanilla extract

Jam

The above will produce a lovely sponge with vanilla buttercream and jam filling. Nice. When you get more involved in baking add food colourings, piping tips for professional looking piping, experiment with different cake batters with more and more ingredients.

Baking doesn’t have to be expensive or full of gadgets. Just you, your children and one huge mess to clear up when you’re finished. I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration to just try it. There will be some kid friendly recipe posts coming soon from cakes to chocolates and no-bake desserts.

Occasional Boxes – a Winning Idea

I was recently lucky enough to win a Twitter competition run by Occasional Boxes for one of their children’s craft inspired gift boxes. It arrived very promptly and my two children (aged 7 and 4) got stuck in. I should have hidden it until it was raining but I will remember to race them for the post next time I’m expecting something.

  
When you open it you can just see it is stuffed full of stickers, crayons, activities, a greetings card and beads. I don’t think my two knew quite where to start. The first problem was the inevitable sharing out the activities with minimal arguing.

My son chose to make the turtle kit. It involved lots of sticking stickers which I must admit is one of his favourite activities. The instructions were very clear and he followed them with no help from me. He did a really good job of it to! Amazingly they decided to share making the card, decorating it for their dad. It got covered in plenty of seaside themed stickers, lots of drawings and a message inside written by themselves. I’d like to think they would share like that all of the time!

  
  
My daughter picked the rainbow sewing kit to do. She did need a fair bit of help but the threading of the colourful thread through the little holes was a great chance to practice those fine motor skills and with a lot of concentration she got the hang of it. 

  
I really love this idea and even my husband commented on what a great box it was, and he rarely comments on craft stuff, just despairs at the glitter and glue everywhere. They would be perfect for wedding favours for children, birthday gifts, and because of the lack of messy glue (everything being sticker based) they would be ideal plane activities or something to put in the holiday luggage for a rainy day.

Even though I won this box I will definitely be a repeat customer in the future, I have already spotted a Christmas themed box to put in their Christmas Stockings.

  
If you like the look of these Occasional Boxes head to the website Occasional Boxes, they are also on Facebook and Twitter (@occasionalboxes). If you say hi, tell them Toy Infinity sent you!