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March 3, 20200

There’s no doubt the atmosphere around the subject of climate change is, well, changing. Globally, young people are taking a stand against the way our planet is being treated and the need for leaders to take urgent action, with teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg leading the way. The ‘Greta Effect’ has shone a light on the realities of global warming, and united young people in climate strikes around the world.

When it comes to future impacts of our lifestyle choices, a lot is still unknown. However, we do know the higher your carbon footprint, the more damage caused to the environment. A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production and use of a product or service, such as transportation, housing and food. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.

This is where you can help. We’ve put together a list of several simple things you and your family can do in your daily life that have a huge effect on the environment. Remember to get your school involved too, as these can be fun activities for children to share with their classmates, so we can all start reducing our carbon emissions, today.

Eat Local

The products in your local supermarket may have come from countries around the world and all that transportation on trucks, trains, and planes adds up to a big impact on the environment. Read labels and where possible, opt for locally-produced, in season foods. Visiting a local market to choose fresh foods is a great family activity, and your children can take some to school to share with their classmates! Check out websites http://www.farmersmarkets.org.nz/find-a-market.html and https://www.ripenear.me to find delicious, fresh produce grown in your area.

Plant a garden

Better yet, grow your own food. Growing fruits and vegetables in your own backyard, is not only good for the environment, it’s a great way to teach your children about where food comes from and get them involved in the kitchen. Set aside a corner of your garden for growing small crops like tomatoes, strawberries, peas, beans and peppers. Enjoy harvesting your food with your children and using it to prepare delicious, eco-friendly snacks for their lunchbox.
Here are some tips to get you started, https://www.yates.co.nz/child, and information on what to plant each season, https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/garden/85565720/the-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-vege-garden-10-fast-and-easy-crops. Also check out #kidsgardeningnz on Instagram for ideas and inspiration.

Reduce waste

There are some simple solutions to help you lower your food waste and save money. Plan your weekly meals by checking what food you already have and making a grocery list before you go. This will ensure you have enough food for all of your meals, and stop impulse buying. Get creative with your leftovers and extra produce from your garden instead of throwing them away, or freeze them. These can be reheated for fast after school snacks or meals. Check out this website for lots of great ideas on how to use up your leftovers, https://lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz/recipe/using-leftovers/.

Recycle

  • Much of our household rubbish ends up in landfills. Recycling gives packaging and products a new life, and getting your family and school involved, can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint.
  • Here are some ways to make sure your waste ends up in the right place:
    – Check the number inside the triangle on the bottom of plastic containers to see whether it can be recycled (most council recycling collections accept 1 and 2).
    – Clean empty food containers
    – Separate them into containers for glass, plastic, tin cans and glass
    – Leave them out on your council collection day or deliver to accepted drop-off points
    – For a complete guide on what you can and can’t recycle in NZ, click here https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/08/a-complete-guide-to-what-you-can-and-can-t-recycle-in-new-zealand.html. Found a great use for your recycled materials? Post your photo on #recyclenz.

Drive less

Driving releases carbon emissions, so reducing how often you use the car is a great way to help the environment. Before hopping into the car, consider other options – could you carpool to school with other local families, use public transport, cycle or walk instead? You’ll not only save money on fuel; going carless can also be a great way to get fit!

Changing your daily habits is one of the most significant things you can do to help the planet. By reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll not only be taking your environment into consideration, you’ll also learn new skills, save money and have fun as a family.


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February 24, 20200

Ditch the can and get out the pan – homemade baked beans, here I am! One of the cool things about
making your own baked beans is that you decide what ingredients go in the pot. Using ultra-nutritious cannellini beans also means you retain bionic (super) powers for hours after you’ve eaten them!

Ingredients

  • Dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • Ground pepper for seasoning
  • 2 x 425gm tins of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • Five-grain bread for toast

Method

  1. In an electric fry pan, heat oil over a medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and pepper.
  3. Cook until onion is soft and starts to look clear. Keep stirring.
  4. Drain beans in a colander in the sink, and add to pan with ½ cup water.
  5. Simmer until beans have softened. If beans are not soft after 7 minutes, add ¼ cup more water and keep cooking.
  6. Add maple syrup, tomato puree, mustard powder and another ½ cup water.
  7. Simmer until sauce has thickened, then season to taste with a few rounds of ground pepper.
  8. Serve with toast, using cookie cutters to make interesting shapes.

 


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February 10, 20200

If there’s one holiday that’s purrfect for getting the family crafting, it’s Valentine’s Day. February 14 is all about showing your loved ones how much you care for them and nothing says that better than a handmade gift from the heart. 

We’ve rounded up some fantastic Valentine’s Day crafts that the important people in your life will love, and best of all, they can be made at home with only a few simple materials. From personalised photos frames and cards to sweet treats and green gifts that reduce your impact on the environment, there’s something for everyone. 

So forget pricey store-bought presents, and get your family together for creative fun on the international day of love.

Personal cards

The simplest gifts are the most meaningful. Handmade cards are always a hit with family and friends. Kids can try tracing the outline of their hand for a picture parents, grandparents and relatives will cherish. Or attach folded hearts to the front of your card for a pop-up, 3D effect that will be memorable. 

Decorated jar 

Grab a glass jar and get filling! Take pieces of coloured paper and write down fun things you and your loved one can do together, things you love about them or top it up with their favourite sweets.

Hand-picked bouquet of flowers

Who doesn’t love a bunch of beautiful, fresh flowers? Collect them from your own garden or ask a neighbour or friend if they could spare a few blooms. Bonus points if you decorate a glass jar and fill it with flowers perfect way to display your gift. 

Sweet treats

Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than some delicious homemade baking. Get into the kitchen and whip up a favourite sweet treat, or if you’re looking for inspiration, we love these double chocolate cupcakes. https://justamumnz.com/2017/02/23/double-chocolate-zucchini-carrot-muffins/. Not only do they taste great, the recipe includes a couple of hidden vegetables so they’re a great healthy option. 

Love letter 

Tell someone how much they mean to you in a handwritten letter. Taking the time to think about the people in your life and why you appreciate them shows how much you care and is a lovely keepsake for years to come.

Personalised photo frame

This is the gift for those who love crafting but want something that doesn’t require too much skill or time. Take a plain wooden frame and make it your own, using colour, decorative stick-ons and anything else that takes your fancy. Include a photo of you and your loved one for a seriously sweet gift. 

Grow a seedling

Nothing could be simpler. Plant a seed in a personalised pot and give it to your loved one. As they care for it and watch it grow, they’ll always be reminded of you.

For more Valentine’s Day craft inspiration, click here https://retrohousewifegoesgreen.com/valentines-day-gifts/, or check out #valentinesdaycraftsforkids on Instagram.
For eco-friendly gifts, click here https://www.bustle.com/p/12-eco-friendly-valentines-day-gifts-for-your-earth-friendly-partner-8132873

There’s no better gift than something from the heart. So whatever you choose to make your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, a personal present handmade by you, is sure to make them smile.

 


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December 10, 20190

Crafty gift ideas for kids to make for Christmas  

Bells may be jingling at Christmas time, but chances are your purse is not doing the same. It is an expensive time of year, with many events to attend for school and work, and summer holidays to plan and pay for.

Christmas presents don’t have to cost a bomb though. In fact, the ones that are often the most appreciated are those for which time, instead of money, has been spent. Here are a few ideas for Christmas crafts that the kids can make and help with. These might be especially good for gifting to grandparents and other relatives, and for those end-of-year, thanks-for-putting-up-with-my-child, teacher gifts.

Coffee scrub

Save some jars and fill them with this easy-to-make mixture, have your child design a sticker label and voila! Homemade coffee scrub. An excellent present and especially good for shedding that winter coat in the summer season.

You will need:

  • 1 cup ground coffee (the cheapest you can find at the supermarket will work fine. You can use spent coffee but it doesn’t smell as nice).
  • 1 cup coconut or olive oil
  • ¾ cup sugar or fine sea salt
  • A few drops of vanilla or other scented oil if you wish

Directions:

Mix all together in a bowl. If the coconut oil is solid, you might need to warm it up. Scoop into a jar and you’re done!

Photo calendar

Calendars make well appreciated presents and are very easy to make using websites such as Snapfish or Photobox. Simply upload 12 (or more) favourite pictures of your children from the year past and arrange them on a calendar template.

These websites often have specials coming into Christmas and you can usually get calendars for around $8 each. Your kids can help choose the photos they like and decide which to use for each month. There are layout options so they can put two or more on a month if they wish, and choose backgrounds and labels.

This is a useful gift that family members will love – and you can also buy an extra one for yourself!

Give the gift of greenery

We could all use a bit more green in our lives – especially with the problems the world is facing today. Potted plants make an easy and eco friendly gift for kids to make and give. Take them along to a garden store and buy some small terracotta pots and some seedlings of their choice. It could be vegetables, flowers or small shrubs. Purchase a bag of potting mix too.

Step 1: Let the kids get creative decorating the pots first. Test posts from Resene work best but poster paints will have a good effect as well. They could also stick sparkles on them or try some glitter glue patterning. Wait until it dries before moving onto step 2.

Step 2: Fill the pots with potting mix.

Step 3: Plant your seedling.

Step 4: Tie a ribbon around the pot or wrap with cellophane if you and/ or your child so wishes.

Paper mache bowl

This is an easy and virtually free craft activity that results in a useful and beautiful bowl for keys and small items. It can get messy but that is what makes it fun!

Step 1: Take a small bowl from the kitchen and rub vaseline, butter or oil on it. This is your mould.

Step 2: Mix flour and water to a paste.

Step 3: Tear newspaper into strips.

Step 4: Dip the strips in the paste and layer them on the bowl. Around five layers of paper will suffice, or more if you like. Leave to dry, then remove the bowl from its mould.

Step 5: Decorate! Let the kids go wild with paint or alternatively they can cut out images from magazines and create a collage. Afterwards you might like to apply a coat of clear varnish or fixative, which can be purchased from art supply stores or Spotlight.

Flax flowers/ Putiputi

This is an excellent craft idea for older children. It can be a bit tricky for young ones, but you could always help. There are several varieties of flax flowers and they look amazing together in a bouquet. This is also a great option for the summer months when flax is abundant and it’s possible to do your weaving outdoors. Make sure you have permission to harvest flax if it’s not on your property – and traditionally you should say a karakia before you cut it.

Here is a link to how to make a flax hibiscus flower from master weaver Ali Brown: http://www.alibrown.co.nz/weaving-a-flax-flower.html

 

Happy Christmas crafting!

 


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August 20, 20190

Advertising campaigns might try to tell you otherwise, but there is no need to shell out for another pair of socks or a set of barbecue tools to let your kids’ dad know he is loved.

But what to make? Well, there are thousands of homemade gift ideas online, but for some reason a good number of them involve business tie cards and tired old handprint paintings – cute for babies, but we think your kids can do better!

Here are our top six Father’s Day ideas that won’t cost more than a few dollars and will get your kids thinking, making and doing.

Interview sheet about dad

You may have seen this idea doing the rounds on social media. It is very simple: ask your children some questions about dad and record the answers. Seeing your children’s verbatim quotes in print can be sweet and funny. To find a printable version, just google ‘father’s day interview sheets’ and find one that suits your family best, or you could make your own.

Some sample questions might be:

My dad is ____ years old.

My dad loves it when I….

My dad loves mum because…

What my dad does at work:

Word cloud about dad

This is an idea for older kids who are savvy with computers and might not be so interested in getting their hands sticky with glue. A word cloud or wordle is an image made up of words. There are several online wordle generators, like www.edwordle.net that you can use for free to make a word cloud.

The child can go to the site and type in some sentences about their dad. What he likes, what he does, where he likes to go, his favourite food, etc. Then once they have a paragraph or two, they make their wordle and print it out for dad. It can also be used to create printable products like mugs and mouse pads, if you want to make it a bit more permanent.

Breakfast in the shape of dad’s face

Breakfast in bed is a classic for Father’s Day and this idea makes the cooking a bit more fun for your kids. Using the plate as a face shape, they simply arrange the breakfast items in the shape of dad’s face, with eggs for eyes, mushrooms for a moustache, spinach for hair, etc! Your child could plan the breakfast in advance and help you with the shopping for extra learning opportunities.

Comic about dad

Any young artist or fan of Captain Underpants will love the idea of making a comic for dad. This one takes a bit more time and the child might need to start making it a couple of weeks in advance, but it can be a lot of fun. They could think up a character, like a superhero, for dad to become, or it could be a ‘day in the life of dad’ story. The child can illustrate it and write the text or, for younger kids, dictate it to you. Simply staple together a few sheets of paper, provide art materials and be sure to stay available if your child needs help with spelling or ideas.

Painted rock

This one is fun for primary aged kids and can double as a foraging expedition. Take the kids out to the beach or the park to look for a good sized rock. Flat ones are best if you want dad to be able to use it for a paperweight. Then head home and allow them to go crazy with paint. They could design it first on paper if they like – and dad-related art makes this gift the most meaningful. You could go further and buy some magnets to stick to the back of the stones, creating a nice piece of refrigerator art. What better way to show dad he rocks?!

Homemade frame with photo

This idea is nothing new but it is a lasting classic for a reason. Print a photo of your child/children with their dad – a recent one is best – and have them make a frame for it. You can cut out a cardboard frame shape and provide items to stick on, like shells, glitter, sticks and small stones, or they could decorate with felt tip pens. For a bit more of a challenge, they could make the frame from coloured or even recycled iceblock sticks stuck together with a hot glue gun. Obviously for younger children, this will require some adult supervision. The result is a piece of art to remember 2019 by, which will hopefully last for years to come.

We hope these ideas help to inspire you and your children to get making!

Happy Father’s Day!