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November 30, 2020

Download the Recipe Here!

Serves: 12

The Rudolph’s will keep the family happy this Christmas with their festive flavours and chocolate coating!

The sneaky bit… There is a hidden CARROT inside, so these treat are super healthy too! Don’t stop at the carrot! Experiment with other fruits and vegetables!

Ingredients

FOR THE MUFFIN BATTER:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup trim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 carrots peeled, grated
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
FOR THE ICING:
  • 100g dark chocolate melts melted in the microwave.
FOR RUDOLPH’S FACE:
  • 2 bananas, sliced into banana rounds (Rudolph’s eyes)
  • 24 raisins (Rudolph’s pupils)
  • 12 glazed cherries (Rudolph’s red nose)
  • 24 pretzels (Rudolph’s antlers)

Methods

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C.
  2. Line tin with muffin cases.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the Greek yogurt and whisk again until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
  5. Pour in the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture again until smooth.
  6. Add carrots, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and cinnamon over the wet ingredients. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together just until combined.
  7. Divide the batter into the 12-cup muffin tin.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins have risen and set. Cool before icing and decorating.
CREATE RUDOLPH:
  1. Dip muffins into the chocolate
  2. You’ll need to be super speedy here… (as the chocolate sets fast)
    a. Add banana slices (rounds) for Rudolph’s eyes NUT)
    b. Place a cherry underneath the eyes, for Rudolph’s nose
  3. For the antlers, stick 2 pretzels onto either side of each muffin
  4. Then place the raisins onto the banana pieces for Rudolph’s pupils
  5. TIP: use a small bit of melted chocolate to stick the raisins onto Rudolph’s eyes and antlers onto Rudolph’s head.

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November 30, 2020

Christmas is a time of getting together with loved ones, enjoying the great Kiwi summer, some favourite foods and taking a well-earned break — especially this year! But this time of year can also bring extra stresses, particularly financial.

We want to take away some of that pressure by helping you create thoughtful, special gifts for family and friends, that won’t hit your wallet too hard. All of our eco gifts can be bought for a small price from New Zealand businesses, or made by you. Best of all, they’re good for the Earth. What’s not to love?

So get the kids together and start looking around the house for some common items that with a little love, you can transform into gorgeous gifts. Let’s get Christmas crafting.


1. Beeswax wrap

These clever little reusable food wraps have gained huge popularity in recent years and it’s not hard to see why. Beeswax wrap is a super useful product that can be used again and again to keep food fresh, so it’s gentle on the planet and your pocket. Buy it at a local market, online or through a local distributor, or make your own! We love Lilybee, which sells readymade and DIY kits. https://www.lilybeewrap.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiAnvj9BRA4EiwAuUMDf3u6AleWAfZLUG_V0UqA4GPWl1n6ZiEPdxartxokryTsdi_izuPOfBoCtkQQAvD_BwE

If you want to try making your own wrap without a kit, add almond oil and beeswax to a double boiler and heat slowly to melt the wax. Next, lay cloth pieces flat on a clean baking tray and bake at 80deg on fan bake for 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and use a paintbrush to paint each piece of cloth with the wax and almond oil mixture.

2. Stainless steel drink bottle

Inexpensive, safe to drink from and long-lasting. These eco-friendly drink bottles are the perfect gift for any family member on the go, who wants to keep their drinks hot or cold.

https://promovision.co.nz/152-metal-bottles

3. Homemade soap

This is a thoughtful gift that everyone finds useful. Homemade soap is just as good at washing away the germs as any store bought version, with some added love. To make your own soap, you’ll need a few ingredients including, animal fat or vegetable oil, distilled water, fragrance oils and moulds (plastic containers work well). There are several different recipe you can try, such as https://thisnzlife.co.nz/diy-make-your-own-soap/

The great thing about making soap is even when you make a mistake, you can reuse it and try again!

4.  Herb garden

Have a green-thumbed family member? Why not give them a DIY gift that will keep on giving… everything they need to start their own herb garden. For the gardener in your family, you could put together a gift basket with seeds of their favourite herbs and some pots (these can be small so they can grow the herbs in their kitchen), and growing instructions. Add some handmade labels for an extra special touch.

5. Recycled bag

A cotton tote bag is the must-have gift for everyone. Whether you’re going to a market, fair, picnic or the beach, a roomy recycled bag will come in handy. You can buy these from local markets, shops and online. To make your gift more personalised, why not add the recipient’s name or your own design?

6. Candles

Nothing can replace the ambiance of beautiful candles. These are inexpensive to buy and can be found in shops and markets everywhere. Or try your hand at making your own. All you need are a few items which can be found at your local craft store: soy or beeswax, a wick, essential oils and glass jars, vintage tea cups or other pretty vessel. https://www.candlecreations.co.nz/knowledge/candle-making-tutorials/make-a-scented-soy-candle/

7. Bath bomb

These are a great stocking filler and will please even the pickiest family member. You can find these rainbow coloured fizzers everywhere, especially during the festive season. Opt for bright colours for children, or beautiful scents and healing properties for adults.

Christmas is all about spending time, not money. These are just great a few of the fabulous eco gift options that you can enjoy creating with loved ones for meaningful gifts.  Best of all, you’re taking care of the Earth at the same time! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and festive season.


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November 2, 2020

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights that takes place over five magical days and is celebrated by millions of people around the world. Held in October/November, it marks new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.

At sKids we love celebrating this special time of year with our children by exploring its colourful traditions, learning new skills and having the opportunity to engage with our local communities.

In this blog, we speak to sKids franchisee Purity Misquitta. Originally from India, Purity runs five sKids centres with her husband Ferdilin, is a mother of two and an avid observer of Diwali. She explains why the Festival of Lights is so meaningful to her and why it’s something when we can all celebrate.

What is the story behind Diwali?

The name Diwali is from the Sanskrit term ‘dipavali’, meaning ‘row of lights’ and the celebration has a rich history attached to it. The festival is particularly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. As told in the Diwali story, it marks the day Hindu God Lord Rama and his wife Sita triumphantly return to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled, following the defeat of demon king, Ravanna. Villagers welcome their return with thousands of oil lamps on a moonless night, which is why lamps and other lights are used during the festival. This story is depicted in the Ramayana — one of the two great Sanskrit epics of ancient India, written in poem form.

When is Diwali held?

The five-day festival takes place between mid october and mid November, depending on the cycle of the moon, and marks the beginning of the financial year in India. Diwali is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month of the Hindu lunar calendar so the date changes each year. This year, Diwali is on November 14.

How is it celebrated?

In preparation for Diwali, the house is cleaned and the entrance is decorated with colourful rangoli — decorations made from rice, sand or flowers. Indian families dress in traditional outfits and women decorate their hands or feet in henna. Spending time with loved ones is an essential part of the celebration. Families cook and eat together, exchange special sweets or gifts with friends and relatives, and enjoy song and dance. Some families start the day with prayer. During Diwali it is customary to make offerings to the gods. At night, homes are decorated with lamps and candles, and fireworks are set off.

How does sKids celebrate?

Around New Zealand communities celebrate traditional and contemporary Indian culture as part of the festival, for example with bright lights, energetic dance performances, Indian delicacies and spectacular fireworks. It’s the same at selected sKids centres, where we include some exciting Diwali celebrations as part of our daily programmes. This year for Diwali our centres will celebrate during the last week of October, when we will have colouring competitions, chalk art, teachers will wear sari and henna, crafts and children will learn to make some special Indian snacks.

 

Why is Diwali so meaningful to you?

I love the feeling of it and the fireworks during that time, and the joy it brings. Diwali is a time when the whole family gets together to celebrate; it’s really a family event — like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

There’s something for everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October 21, 2020

Going GREEN this Halloween

Halloween is almost here and there’s so much to look forward to. Originating from a Celtic festival, this celebration on October 31 has evolved into dressing up in spooky costumes, trick-or-treating, festive gatherings and of course, indulging in unfathomable amounts of sweets. Whatever way you look at it, this year has been an absolute howler, so Halloween is a perfect excuse to let off a scream and have some fun!

While Halloween has long been celebrated in much of the Western world, in particular the United States and Ireland, it has recently gained popularity in New Zealand. Now that it’s time to start thinking about your costume, we’re here to help, with some ingenious costume ideas all created from recycled rubbish. With so many costumes being made and sold in shops, comes extra waste. Let’s do our part to be kind to the Earth by taking a sustainable stand this Halloween.

Let your imagination run wild and have some fun repurposing bits and pieces from around the house to create a spooktacular masterpiece. Whether you’re looking for a costume that’s funny, heroic or truly terrifying, we’ve got you covered. Throw on one of these costumes and have yourself a green-themed Halloween!

Images sourced from : Pinterest

Rob Ott

Move over Wall-E, there’s a new bot in town. Crafted entirely out of recycled items, kids will love this eco-friendly version. The body, head and arms are made from cardboard and tinfoil — materials everyone can find around the house. Use recycled plastic, old toys and cds for extra flourishes (foil piping for arms and legs optional). Assemble everything and use a hot glue gun to attach each piece securely.

Ghostly appeal

You know that old white sheet hanging around in your cupboard? It’s time to bring it back to life by creating an iconic Halloween look. Drape it over your head and you’re ready to go! Extra points for cutting a ragged edge along the bottom, adding eyes and a mouth or other accessories like white gloves to complete your spooky look.

Go planet!

Test out your papier mâché skills to create a sphere of planet Earth. Add some green continents and water using fabric or paint, cut holes for your arms and legs and you’re ready to go. Afterall, what’s more terrifying than an overheating planet?

Rainmaker

Turn yourself into a rain cloud using cotton wool and paper or fabric for the drops of water. The perfect spring weather creation.

Leaf monster

You know all those leaves lying around your backyard? It’s time to put them to good use by turning yourself into the ultimate Mother Nature-inspired costume, the

leaf monster. OK, maybe it’s not the scariest option, but it definitely makes ingenious use of foliage and you’ll win the prize for most creativity with this colourful costume.

Paper scarers

Transform into a ghoul, witch, fairy or even a spooky tree using some old newspapers and a roll of tape. There’s no limit on what you can create with these simple items and your imagination.

Halloween is a time to get together with friends, have some fun and get creative. We hope you enjoy making your own spine-chilling masterpiece, while helping the planet.


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September 15, 2020

The term emotional resilience is used alot these days, particularly in a world of COVID-19, but what does it actually mean?  In this 5 part blog series “Emotional resilience: how do we get there? we talk to Child Psychologist & Neuroscientist Kathryn Berkitt.

In this first blog,  we look at how stress can impact our behaviour and thinking.

In this series we want to share some neuroscientific knowledge that may help you and those around you when it comes to dealing with stress, anxiety, anger and other emotive activations. Increasing your emotional resilience is the key to returning to a state of calm when we feel these emotions.

Many people believe those who are resilient don’t cry and bounce back immediately, so they can appear hard, cold, impenetrable. However, this is not the definition of resilience we are working towards. Yes, resilience is about ‘bouncing back’, and in the case of emotional resilience, it means to return to a state of calm, ensuring your emotions do not create a major interference to life in general. What needs to be explicitly stated though is resilient people still feel. Resilience is about allowing the feeling, validating that we are all emotional human beings, and that being emotionally vulnerable is an important part of connection, reflection and existence. Resilience is the bungee cord at the end of the feeling that becomes strong enough to pull us back.
This series aims to help you understand and support the development of emotional resilience, for ourselves and those we support because if we are resilient, we can be more authentic human beings.

What is emotional resilience?

ENGAGE is an on organisation that trains nationally and internationally around the impact environmental trauma can have on the developing brain. The definition ENGAGE uses to guide the development of emotional resilience is: “multiple moments of tolerable stress, in the presence of a close, meaningful relationship”.

The first element of this definition – ‘multiple moments’ – highlights the importance of our everyday relationships. So if you are someone who experiences multiple moments with the child, adolescent or adult you want to develop resilience for, then you are important. We will explain how it is the small, everyday experiences that build resilience, and this will help you see the importance of your role in this journey.

As you read through this series, you’ll learn things that you already recognise in yourself, and areas you can work on. Remember to always be kind to yourself and simply see this as an opportunity to reflect, learn and consider whether you need to make any changes.

Red brain vs green brain

The second important element in ENGAGE’s definition of emotional resilience is ‘tolerable stress’. You may wonder, what the difference is between tolerable and intolerable stress. This will be explained in later sessions, because of the importance of distinguishing between the two. In this session, we will just look at stress in general. To help us understand stress activation, we use the concept of the red brain and the green brain. The red brain is the lower areas of the brain and the green brain, the upper pre-frontal cortex area. Note, this is a simplified explanation of our highly complex brain, for the purpose of explaining the impact of stress.

The red brain refers to the lower parts of the brain that control survival, co-ordination, language and emotions. This part of the brain is the most essential for keeping us alive. We need it to pump our hearts, operate our bodily functions, communicate and a host of other vital functions . The other part, the upper green brain refers to the prefrontal cortex; the area of our brain that helps us to be logical, rational and empathic. The green brain helps us to be rational, to manage our time, to think about our past and future, plus so many more functions. The green brain feels like it is the most important, and indeed it is incredibly important for learning and for living a connected, full life. However, heartbeat (red brain) trumps empathy (green brain), so when it comes to survival, the red brain will receive the most attention, and the most energy when it requests it.

 

What happens when you’re stressed

Something you are doing right now, and what we are all doing almost all of the time, is Neuroception. Neurosception is mostly controlled by our red brain, and it is the action of scanning the environment for clues about danger. If the scan comes back clear – no danger in the environment – then our red brain concludes we’re safe, and therefore it requires very little energy. However, if the scan comes back having identified danger (a stressor), it signals to the red brain that there is danger and survival is at risk. This then activates a shift in energy to the red brain. As we have limited energy it must come from somewhere else, so we take it from the green brain.

Consider this scenario: One minute ago, you were calmly walking around the house ready to go out and meet your friends at a café for coffee. Then you reach for your keys to leave. Oh oh! They’re not there. Your neuroception has just scanned and identified a stressor. Your red brain has now essentially computed that your safety is at risk. The red brain now takes a large chunk of energy from the green brain. Lack of energy in the green brain means you are now unable to go back to yesterday to think where you left them. You are also unable to consider the impact you may have on others, so you might just be rude to someone who asks you “where did you see them last?”, or you might just activate the fight/flight response, or the freeze response and physically lash out or shut down. If you have ever lost the plot because you can’t find keys, or forgot your password, or someone asked you what was for dinner after a long day at work…. you will know that when survival red brain requires energy, the logical, empathic green brain is under-resourced. Hence, our change from calm, kind, considered person, to the Incredible Hulk.

Developing awareness and building resilience

We mentioned a stressor indicates to the red brain that there is a threat to our survival. The essential element to remember about stressors, is that they do not have to be life threatening to activate the life preserving activation of the fight/flight, or the freeze response. Any stressor activates our stress response. Losing keys is not likely to result in loss of life, but it activates the same physiological system as we would if we saw a lion approaching. Your child is trying to find their favourite t-shirt but can’t – not a loss of life situation, but they are likely acting like it is. The fact that we respond to any stressor as if it is life-threatening is very important to remember as we continue through this series. This is how we will understand the behaviour of ourselves and those around us, when it feels very different from their usual personality and actions.

The first step is understanding more about this shift in energy to the red brain and how we can start to take back some control. It’s also worth noting, the red brain is essentially two years old, so this explains a lot of the behaviour we exhibit when neuroception identifies a stressor. When you’re stressed, the red brain is activated. This movement of energy in the brain is the reason we can act less empathically, seem more selfish, and not ‘care’ about what we do or say to someone, even if that person is someone we care about. This is difficult enough, but there is more. If we activate the fight/flight response, there is an increased supply of energy to the areas of the body that can help us survive. These energy changes in the body can also result in changes in behaviour. If the freeze response is activated, the body essentially shuts down, meaning we ‘play dead’ to protect ourselves from the stressor we have detected. So when you feel stressed, it is much wiser to walk away, calm down, and come back when you have a bit more of the green brain available.

In other blogs in this series we will unpack why some of us get to that space quicker than others, we will talk about the impact on our body, on health and on our sleep when we are in red brain for too long, and we will look at how to build resilience in yourself and in those around you. Essentially this means staying calm when faced with a difficult situation, so you can move from red brain back to green brain, because in the green brain we can be empathic, we can learn, we can reflect and we can connect. Lets learn more about how to stay in our green brain. We’re glad you can join us for this journey.