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As MASSIVE Harry Potter fans – the boys were soooo excited to hear that we were going to visit Hogwarts in the Snow Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour for 12yo’s birthday treat…Hogwarts in the snow

Hogwarts in the snow castleThe creative team have gone to town with the most fabulous snowfall covering the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, we were blown away with just how beautiful the Hogwarts castle model is covered in a blanket of snow.

It was our first visit to the studio tours, so we felt really honoured to see the castle’s festive makeover up close as well as the iconic Great Hall decorated for Christmas – the two long dining tables are dressed for this seasonal feast with turkeys, hams, fruit, vegetables (ENORMOUS bowls of peas!) and snow cakes. Harry-Potter-Warner-Studios-6-KidsChaosHogwarts in the snow Christmas DinnerHarry-Potter-Warner-Studios-7-KidsChaos

So be quick, and treat someone special to a gift ticket this Christmas, the perfect present for the ultimate Harry Potter fan! Hogwarts in the Snow runs from Friday 14th November – Sunday 1st February 2015. Book online at www.wbstudiotour.co.uk

Incidentally, the shop is AMAZING – we spent ages in there, and it’s as beautifully merchandised as some of the sets themselves – We loved the vast array of clothing available and we treated 12yo to a really cool Gryffindor™ Hooded Sweatshirt.

And the grown-up bearded one bought a rather stylish Hufflepuff™ V-Neck School Cardigan – suits him!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

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Cookie Cutter crafts – cookie on the side of a mug

We’ve made these before and never photographed them, eaten too quickly!
Super simple with the Holiday Season coming, and the kids (and grown-ups) love them!

Basically use a star shaped cookie cutter, and I used another piece of a letter ‘l’ from a alphabet cookie cutter set to cut the slot that fits over the edge of the mug, but you could use a knife to fashion the same effect…

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Ingredients for the cookies and the royal icing here and if you enjoyed playing with cookie cutters, check out our snowman sandwich after-school snack here!

Cookie-Cutter-Crafts-on-a-Mug-Kids-Chaos

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Homemade Thursday

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Pom Pom garland diy

Using our trusty pom-pom maker again! We selected five wool colours and got creative – and these are so easy to make – and look really effective!  Our pom pom garland diy…pom-pom garland

Once we’d made the pom-poms and trimmed them up nice and neat with shart scissors, we set about creating the pom pom garland diy for the bedroom… And using rough jute string which EVERY household should have, we simply tied each of the pom-poms onto the string, and moved them into position along the length of the string, so that they are equidistant.

pom pom garland on the wall

We’re sure you agree that these look rather stunning!
Check out Red Ted Art for more Pom Pom making ideas, and a link to our wonderful video where I show you how to make this on YouTube!

pom pom garland close up

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

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Ethical grown up Christmas gifts

Always the romantic {for romantic, read ‘procrastinator’}, I do tend to leave my Christmas Shopping to the last minute, so along with sorting my tax returns, I promised myself that I’d get cracking and get both things completed BEFORE the end of October… How about that?!

Tricky thing is, I keep seeing things I’d like for MYSELF – but don’t they say that that’s a sign of a good pressie? My sister’s Christmas gifts from me, are always identical to the ones I’ve treated myself to… funny that!

So lets start with Christmas gifts for myself, I’ve discovered this website in Brooklyn, which has more or less everything in one section with my name on it, click here to have a look – It’s right up mine, and my vegan sister’s, street…  called www.uncommongoods.com, it’s a lovely privately-owned store which features unique designs and hand-crafted gifts created “in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people”.

cookbook iPad holderWell, as one who ALSO allegedly is trying to get more organised with meal-planning, I would treat myself, coughs, I mean my sister, to this rather lovely reclaimed wood cookbook stand here to prop my (her) iPad when browsing for recipes

Next, (another one of those, “oh, I really need those” pressies) – I LOVED the idea of these magnetic bike lights here – having cycled back from a PTA meeting in the dark last night, genuinely, I SO need some bike lights I can pop in my pocket, with no fiddly faffing to attach them to my bicycle!

Magnetic Bike LightIn fact, there were LOADS of fab, not explicitly gender-specific ‘Christmas gifts for women’ here, which really pleased me as someone who gets so annoyed to see the stereotypical girlie gifts – very heartening thank you uncommongoods!

And on that point, fair enough, the Christmas Beard Oil might best sit in this ‘Christmas gifts for men section’ enough said on that…

Having older parents and in-laws, we know too well that (A) we’ve completely run out of ideas for things to get them for Christmas (if they are anything like mine, they are slowly clearing their own houses of clutter and gifting you all sorts of curious pieces of crockery and randomness from their lives). 

My life story journalAnd (B) Their favourite subject for conversation is the good-old-days – Getting this recorded is often tricky, and encouraging them to do so with this wonderful ‘my life story’ journal will hopefully furnish their ancestors with all sorts of amusing stories and revelations! A fab gift for my Father in Law if ever I saw one!
http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/my-life-story-so-far 

Made by hand, as with more than half of the product uncommongoods sell on their website, this is a beautifully handcrafted journal.

So only another two weeks to get that Christmas list sorted, I see a large parcel winging its way to us soon!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

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FREE printable Witches hat patternwitch's hat template
witches hat template 1 - 4
1) Cut two ‘doughnut’ shaped rings (we draw around a tea plate) alternatively, you can print this page out twice! this will be your brim. 

2) and 3) Fold the circles in half gently andcut out the centre of the circles (we used a coffee mug as a template)

4) Using a dinner plate as a template,cut out about 3/8ths of the circle to create a ‘curved triangle’ which will be the cone shape of the Witch’s hat) (see page 2 of the attached PDF for template) Cut slits about 1,5cm up into the curved edge of your ‘triangle’

witches hat instructions5) and 6) Pop cone into the 1st doughnut, and turn back the slits and glue to the underside of the brim.

7) Glue the second doughnut shape to the first brim to make it look like a nice tidy witch’s hat!

You can add elastic to the hat to make a little under the chin strap to hold the hat on to your head, or if you are using on the paper pom-pom we’ve made here, push the string through the top of the hat, the cone will have left a small natural hole in the very point of the witches’ hat.

Halloween-witches-hat-template-page-1-and-2-Kids-Chaos-1Click here >> to download your FREE printable Halloween witches hat template page 1 and 2 © KidsChaos.com it’s a fab witches hat pattern! and here for the Witch Pom pom face

If you have a thing for giant paper pompoms, click here to see our crepe paper version, with raindrops!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

 

 

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Halloween Witch Paper Pom-Pom FREE printableWitch-Halloween-Pompom-Kids-Chaos

We got a bit carried away with Halloween preparations this year, and 11yo wanted to have a go at making some scary spooky Witches – So he drew these scary eyes, crooked nose, and toothy grin for the witch’s face and we stuck the on to the paper pom-pom – how cool is this! The Witch’s hat is pretty easy to make to, follow our simple instructions here….
halloween witch face templateReally easy witch’s face – have a go by clicking here for our FREE downloadable template just print off, and cut out the shapes, in fact, print two, and use one as a template for your pumpkin this year too!!

step-1-4-make-a-paper-pom-pomclick here for FULL HOW TO instructions on making the paper pom-poms

12 simple steps – really easy to follow, our kids have been making them in ALL sorts of colours – we’ve even mixed up different shades of green here…
If you fancy having a go yourself click here, note – save the trimmings from step 4, we used them for the Witch’s hair!!
Alternatively you can purchase them here at Delights in packs of three!

Free printable halloween witch’s face, just attach to giant paper pom-pom or use as a template to carve your pumpkin!

If you have a thing for giant paper pompoms, click here to see our crepe paper version, with raindrops! and here for a Pumpkin Free printable template.

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

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W is for Whale – paper cup craft

Paper cups are a great asset to a store cupboard… you never know when the post school playdates may descend on you, and for this time of year, paper plates and cups are often safer in the garden for the al fresco dining that may take place!W is for Whale paper cup craft

They are also VERY handy for a last minute craft session, particularly if you are practicing your alphabet crafts – and all you need for this W is for Whale paper cup craft, is two paper cups, some parcel tape and a couple of googly eyes!

You will need:

Two paper cups
Parcel Tape
Googly eyes
Pipe cleaner (white or blue)
Hama or Perler Beads in an array of blues and white!

Instructions:

1) Using the parcel tape, stick the two cups together facing each other to create the body shape of the whale.

2) Wrap the parcel tape all over the body of the whale to cover it.

3) Fashion the whale’s tail from more parcel tape and attach to one end of the paper cup whale.

4) Do the same with the two front flippers, and attach just below the position on the eyes.

5) Add the googly eyes, essential in any paper cup craft!.

6) Pierce a small slit where the blow hole on the top of the whale’s body will be.

7) Push the pipe cleaners, or wires, into the hole, and add some Hama or Perler beads to look like water drops and you are DONE!

For more quick and simple paper cup ideas, check out our Paper Cup Frozen Crown and Red Ted Art’s pom pom party poppers!

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at instagram.com/incredibusy too x
Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
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Take the Family to York

For a family getaway that ticks all the boxes for fun, entertainment, outdoor space and history, you can’t beat York. With great road and rail links, York is a fuss free destination to get to with kids in tow. City centre accommodation for more than two people can be pricey so why not book a family room in a Travelodge in York for a comfortable night’s sleep that’ll leave you with enough money left over to enjoy all the treats this fantastic city has to offer?

take the family to YorkYork Maze

Open for the summer holidays from July 12th, this maze, aptly made from maize, is the largest of its kind in the UK, providing ample opportunity for you all to get pleasantly lost together. Wear your comfiest shoes and if it’s hot make sure you pack sun cream and drinks. If you have any really little ones in tow ensure you have a firm grip of their hand so they don’t run off and get themselves well and truly lost! The viewing towers dotted around are well worth a climb to see fantastic views of the maze from within. When you finally find your way out, the fun’s not over – there are lots of rides to tempt your children while you sit down for a well-earned rest.

National Railway Museum

Most kids are fascinated by trains, and adults certainly don’t have to be train spotter types to enjoy this fantastic museum dedicated to the UK railway’s 300-year history. Your children can experience what it was like to travel on an old-fashioned steam train in the bone-shaking simulator in the Great Hall. If your kids are aged between 6 and 11, pick up a Kids’ Handbook to make the most of the experience. Also, watch out for special family events taking place throughout the summer holidays.

Jorvik Viking Centre

This world famous attraction is an absolute must-visit when you’re in York as a family. When it comes to figures from the past, the grizzly, bloodthirsty, helmet-clad Vikings seem to capture children’s imaginations like no other tribe and Jorvik Viking Centre is where they’re vividly brought back to life for young and old to experience. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary and the fact that it’s welcomed over 17 million visitors through its doors, Jorvik has added a new interactive dimension to its exhibits, making it even more interesting for kids. What makes Jorvik so special is the fact that it’s all on the excavation site of Viking York, so rather than seeing the artefacts in a museum setting, you actually get to experience Viking life where it was lived and breathed all those years ago.

Of course, you won’t be educating yourselves all the time, so when you want to take a breather and they want to run around, head to the lovely Rowntree Park in the city centre to enjoy the tranquil scenery and recharge your batteries. After a family trip to York, you’ll all return home refreshed, relaxed and a little bit brainier!

Commissioned post.

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Eco-gaming: five environment-focused videogames

In any form of entertainment, having a preachy rhetoric can destroy the fun as swiftly as Nineties consoles destroyed the sustainability of the gaming sector, but five games have managed to put the message across without a hint of sermonising. All over the world, gamers are uniting against eco-baddies through their game environments – and having fun while they do. If Ovo Energy was a games developer, these are the kind of video games it would produce. Okabu – Teaser Trailer

Okabu There are gamers and there are game players. Okabu was developed for game players – families and children who are happy to while away an hour on gameplay but not to camp out beside their consoles for an entire, sleepless holiday. Its developers were inspired by a documentary about Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and have crafted a colourful world of eco-loving cloudwhales who must solve puzzles in order to destroy the toxic waste-producing rival Doza clan.

Flower If games had human subcultures, Flower would be a hippy poet, dragging its fingers through the daisies while telling esoteric tales of wonder. The game takes you into the dreams of a blossom, letting you hover on top of a breeze composing musical notes with passing petals. Like a lucid dreamer, you have the power to influence what you see by gathering petals and coaxing them along the wind and, as you do, the game coaxes you into multisensory euphoria. In short, Sony’s Flower is akin to a haiku with the implicit epiphany that man and nature can coexist. Groovy, man.

Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssee, Eco-Fighters Abe was a klutzy green underdog who worked at a pollution-belching corporation at the height of the Nineties gaming boom. Unlike most games of the time, the Oddworld franchise was forward-thinking enough to retain its relevance years into the future. Even today, gamers are venturing into the odd world of Oddworld. Abe ventures out of his comfort zone as a janitor to rescue his fellow Mudokons, escape his boss’s species-killing habits, and become one with Mother Nature. Through puzzles, storytelling, and sneaking, Eco-Fighters lets gamers wreak havoc on corporate polluters–and have a laugh while they do.

Energy City Energy City is a world simulation game that delves deep beneath the surface of its message, forcing its players to think consciously about the world around them. Players are tipped off about sophisticated elements of the eco-wars from a scientific, evidence-based angle. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, you’ve probably never played Sim City. This is a genre that thrives on complexity and authenticity, especially when the citizens of your city are as easily satisfied as Gordon Ramsay. Energy City crowns you mayor and gives you freedom to power your city with as much budget-friendly coal as you wish (at a price). To earn your citizens’ cooperation, you must lay out bike paths, consider clean energy alternatives, and develop biofuel power plants that sustain your city 20 years into the future, even when immediate consequences aren’t apparent.

Fate of the World T.S. Elliott may have said that the world would end ‘not with a bang but a whisper’, but Fate of the World disagrees. The global simulator plunges you into the midst of a global crisis that is far from silent: tsunamis, fires, flooded continents, and civil war have all been clamped together into a single, epic present, and you’re tasked with redemption. The game, developed according to scientific research of an Oxford professor, has won acclaim as a courageous, award winning foray into serious, yet world-class, entertainment.

Commissioned by Ovo Energy – the cheaper, greener and simpler energy supplier

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Crown and Anchor barThere is nothing as wonderful as having a lunch without the kids... that sounds very tragic, but honestly, being invited out to lunch when the boys are at school is rarely sniffed at, so I was delighted to be able to check out the newly revamped Crown and Anchor in Chiswick.

Crown and Anchor fish and chipsI spent many years working in Chiswick #BC (before children) and we struggled to find anywhere GOOD to go for lunch and I so wish the Crown and Anchor had been this beautiful back then! With an excellent decor and delightful staff, the choice on the menu is also fabulous… I went for a welsh rarebit, and the gnocci – mmm mmmmm.

Crown and Anchor gnocciAnd I know my boys would love hanging out there on a Sunday afternoon, it’s so cosy, and the kids’ menu is basically selected dishes at half price.

If you are looking for a good pub in West London that’s close to Turnham Green do try the Crown and Anchor. It’s close to Duke Meadows, Grove Park Farm House and the historical home of artist William Hogarth, making them ideal for a spot of lunch or dinner whilst out seeing the sights in Chiswick.

There is a Pub quiz on Tuesdays, 8pm and a Private function room available for hire too. With lots of cosy spaces it’s great for special occasions, and has a fab log burner too!

I look forward to returning there the next time I am in Chiswick, W4 and may pop in for a coffee next time I am passing!

Follow them on facebook.com/crownandanchorw4

http://www.crownandanchorchiswick.co.uk

Crown and Anchor menu Crown and Anchor welsh rarebit