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Thursday, 9 April 2020

How we Celebrate Easter at Home

Easter is coming up this Sunday. Are you ready for it?

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on social media about how to celebrate this holiday while sheltering in place. Parents wondering if the Easter Bunny should still visit. How can they make the holiday special for their kids while staying home. Maybe, Easter should just be cancelled altogether.

I have to admit that these discussions have left me a little confused. Sure, we can't meet up with other people, but apart from that how is Easter any different this year? As expats with no extended family in the same country (or hemisphere) our Easters are always celebrated at home with just our immediate family. To me, this is our normal, so Easter this year will be no different than any other year. In fact, this is also how I remember my family celebrating Easter growing up - although my Grandma did come and stay with us for Easter each year. Given that "normal" is different for everyone, I did a little digging and discovered that for many people Easter is celebrated with extended family and friends, as well as with community events. Without these events and the ability to visit family a lot of people are stumped on what to do to make Easter special.

Seeing as Easter at home is normal for us, I thought I'd share some of the ways that we make it a special day for the kid. As we're not religious most of what we do revolves around the Easter bunny and chocolate.

Here's a look at what we usually do for Easter Sunday...

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Quick & Easy Meals: Tuna Mornay

With so many people looking for economical meals that can be made from pantry staples at the moment, I thought today would be a good day to share one of my go to meals for the family: Tuna Mornay. Now, if you're Australian, you're probably pretty familiar with tuna mornay. It's one of those meals that you rarely see on a menu, but every family has their own recipe.

Tuna mornay was a regular meal growing up and it is a regular meal for my family too. My kids love it and would happily eat it several times a week - which they usually end up doing as there are always left overs. If you're not Australian, there's a good chance that you have no idea what tuna mornay is. I just presumed it was a recipe known around the world until I moved to the US and discovered that my American friends had no idea what it was. I then figured it must be a commonwealth thing, but unlike most Australian foods that are actually really British, it turns out that my British friends aren't familiar with tuna mornay either. Nor are my German, Italian and Russian friends. Only my Australian friends seem to be familiar with it, and they all claim that their family's recipe is the best. But they're lying, because my Mum's recipe is the best!

You're in luck, because today I'm sharing my Mum's tuna mornay recipe with you. It's a recipe that I've thought about sharing here many times over the years, but never have for two reasons. First of all, it's one of those recipes that I've been making for so long that I actually don't have a recipe. The ingredients always stay the same, but I just wing it when it comes to the amounts. My Mum has always done the same, so when she gave me the recipe years ago, it was just a list of ingredients. Sharing my recipe here meant paying attention to the amounts I use, and I never think of that until after I've made it! The other reason I've never shared my tuna mornay recipe is that as delicious as it tastes, it's not a particularly photogenic food! You'll see! It's definitely one of those "tastes much better than it looks" meals!

Here's what you'll need:
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
2 9oz tins chunk tuna in water (in brine is better if you can find it)
1 tin corn (drained) or 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar works best but I used a Mexican blend here)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups pasta (I like penne or spriali)

Friday, 27 March 2020

25 Kid Friendly San Francisco Bay Area Hikes

Ever since we moved from California to Colorado I've been dreaming of going back. I miss our life in the San Francisco Bay Area so much, but right now I'm grateful that here in Colorado we have a house and a yard, with plenty of space to spread out. In the Bay Area we'd be finding ourselves on lock down in a two bedroom apartment with no outdoor space of our own, which, as much as I want to move back, isn't particularly appealing right now.

For those of you who find yourself in that same position I'm sharing my favorite hikes in and around San Francisco. They're all kid friendly and area great way to get out and get a little exercise without traveling too far from home. As always, click the bold and underlined title for more information.

Please make sure to follow any and all Shelter in Place orders before heading out for a hike. Keep at least 6 feet away from other hikers and don't forget to pack the hand sanitzer. While parks are currently open this may change, so make sure to check online first.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Snow Cream

How's the social distancing going for you? We had a snow storm at the end of last week which made staying inside all day and away from other people much easier! 

It also meant that the kids got to have a little snow fun in the backyard. While Mathilde threw snowballs at Yetta, Lola and I made snow cream for the first time. I can't believe it's taken us this long to make snow cream before, but judging by how much the kids (and I) loved it, it won't be the last time.

Have you ever had snow cream before? Are you wondering what it is? If, like me, you grew up somewhere with no snow then it's probably something you're not familiar with, but trust me you'll want to try it!

As you can probably guess from the name, and the pictures below, snow cream is ice cream made from fresh snow. It tastes so good and its super easy to make.

Got snow and want to make snow cream for yourself? It's super easy and it only requires three ingredient - two of which you can find in your pantry and one in your backyard! 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Fun Crafts for Kids while Stuck Inside

Stuck at home with kids right now?

If your family is anything like mine then there's probably an awful lot of screen time happening at the moment. I know, I know... it's not the best, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.

If you're looking for ways to keep the kids busy and away from their screens, then I have a ton of craft ideas for you here on the blog. Today I'm sharing some of my favorites in one post to make them easier to find. Many of these craft activities use materials that you probably already have at home - even in your recycling bin! Others may require you to do a little online shopping so I've included links.

For further instructions for each craft simply click on the bold and underlined title.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Irish Potato Candies

Yesterday was St Patrick's Day.

Unlike previous years, there was no celebrating with a big parade, there was no catching up with friends and there were no celebrations at school. The kids did wear green though and insisted on pinching me every chance they got - until I outsmarted them by changing into a green dress they didn't know I owned! Ha!

Mathilde got into the spirit by making lots of drawings of leprechauns, rainbows and four leaf clovers - which then became five, six, seven and even eleven leaf clovers. Extra luck, right?

Usually I'd make some sort of Irish inspired meal for dinner, but with supermarkets kind of crazy at the moment, getting the ingredients for shepherd's pie or corned beef was a little tricky. What I did have the ingredients for in my pantry, however, was Irish Potato Candy.

"What's Irish Potato Candy?" I hear you ask. Delicious, that's what!

Do you remember the potato themed birthday party that I threw for Lola back in October? A potato party? Yep, she's weird! Anyway, for her birthday party I made all sorts of potato themed foods, but the problem was that as much as she likes potatoes as an item, she doesn't like eating them. Not even as fries! Remember, I said she's weird! While trying to come up with non-potato potato themed foods I remembered a candy that my grandma used to make when I was a kid. Small misshapen balls of coconut fudge covered in cocoa that looked like mini potatoes. I hadn't eaten one of these Irish Potatoes, as we called them, since I was a kid, but I knew right away that they would be perfect. And they were!

They were also perfect for St Patrick's Day so yesterday I raided the pantry for all the ingredients and got to work making them. And this time I took photos so I could share the recipe here with you.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Tips for Staying Healthy While Travelling

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

With the news and social media filled with talk of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) at the moment, hygiene and staying healthy has been on pretty much everyone's minds. Just take a look at your local supermarket and you'll see the hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and hand wash flying off the shelves. And of course, the toilet paper, but let's not go there...

Anyway, all this talk of staying healthy and trying to avoid the Cornonavirus has got me thinking about how we stay healthy when we're travelling. In our day to day lives at home it can be a little easier. We have more control over how clean our immediate environment is, we have access to known doctors and medical care, we have brand familiarity when it comes to buying health and hygiene products, and most of us have more of a support network at home than we do on the road. There's also no language barrier at home. Trust me, I've been there. Trying to buy Sudafed through a series of hand gestures in an Italian pharmacy was an interesting experience!

So, today I'm sharing my top tips for staying healthy while travelling. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and these tips should not be taken as medical advice. These are simply things that my family does to stay as healthy as possible when travelling. Most of these tips are commonsense, but when you're planning a trip there are so many things to think of that it's easy for the little things to be overlooked.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs

This weekend I'll be travelling to Palm Springs to attend the blogging conference Alt Summit. This will be my third time attending Alt Summit in Palm Springs and I can't wait. While the conference itself is jam packed full of fun activities and workshops, and amazing keynotes and panels, there is always plenty of time available for a little exploring around Palm Springs.

In past years I've headed out with friends on a colorful door tour (Palm Springs has the BEST mid-century architecture and loads of colorful doors), a hike through a slot canyon, and most recently a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden - which I'm sharing here today.

If you're a nature lover, gardener or even just intrigued by desert life, Moorten Botanical Garden is a must see in Palm Springs. This iconic garden may be tiny, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in the sheer number of stunning cacti and desert plants on display. I've never visited a spikier garden!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Ice Castles: Day and Night

Last month I shared our recent visit to the fabulous Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado. If you've been following along on Instagram you'll know that this wasn't our first visit to the Ice Castles. We also visited the Ice Castles when we came to Colorado on vacation over Winter break 2018/19.

Today I'm sharing that first visit to the Ice Castles for two reasons. First, because I never got around to sharing it before and I have lots of fun photos. Second, and more importantly, our first visit took place later in the day and we were able to experience the colorful lights on the ice structures. Our most recent visit was only during the day (I prefer the natural ice colors), so I wanted to share our earlier visit so that anyone planning on going later in the day or in the evening will know what to expect.

Friday, 14 February 2020

A Rainbow Valentines Box

This year the kids and I made Valentines boxes for the first time ever.

At our previous school in California the kids made either bags or boxes to collect their class Valentines as a school project rather than at home, so it wasn't something I ever had a hand in. When I learned that we'd be making them at home this year I knew it was a chance to get creative.

Having never made a Valentines box before, or knowing what was really required, I did a lot of searching on Pinterest (complete aside - if you're not following Little Hiccups on Pinterest, head over by clicking here and follow for lots of great ideas). I found a huge range of ideas, mostly made from shoe boxes. The problem was, we don't have shoe boxes. I don't tend to keep them when we buy shoes. We do, however, have tons of larger boxes from buying new furniture for our house. These boxes were all way too big to use on their own, but perfect for cutting up to create something new.

But what to make was the question...

I figured it would be easiest to make the same thing for both Lola and Mathilde, so I put my thinking cap on to come up with interests they both share. The first thing that popped into my mind was rainbows. Perfect!

Using my standard pinata creating techniques (which you can see in a really old post here) I got to work creating a basic rainbow shape out of cardboard. Once the structure was done, the girls glued on a ton of tissue paper, and voila... we had rainbow Valentines boxes!

Here's a look at how we made them.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Whistling You a Sweet Valentine's Day

Ah, school Valentines...

Hands up if you're still scrambling to get goodies sorted out for your kids to hand out to their classmates!

Don't worry - I am totally there with you! I'm also here to help with a super simple DIY that's sure to be a hit with the kids.

This year for Valentine's Day Lola and Mathilde were keen to make the strawberry heart meringues that we made last year (you can find the recipe here). Lola will be making them later this week for her class, but unfortunately Mathilde's class was required to bring in their Valentine's goodies today. That meant that I had to come up with a non-perishable option for her to hand out instead.

While ordering Chupa Chups lollipops on Amazon for Ava's recent birthday party something caught my eye. It was a treat that I loved as a kid and hadn't seen in an awfully long time. Melody Pops! Do you remember those? The lollipops that double as a whistle and actually change notes when you move the stick. As soon as I saw them I knew that they'd be perfect for class Valentines and my head started filling with ideas for cheesy card text - because a Valentine's gift isn't a Valentine's gift without a cheesy card attached, right?

Anyway, I ordered those suckers (pun totally intended!), made up a simple backing card with a cheesy Valentines caption, Mathilde wrote "Love Mathilde" on each and every card, and I stuck everything together. Voila! Valentines sorted!

Here's what you'll need (with shoppable links):
Melody Pops lollipops
White Card Stock
Cutting Knife, Ruler & Cutting Mat or a Paper Trimmer
Adhesive Dots
Baker's Twine
Darning Needle

I use these supplies for so many different crafting purposes so they're not just a one off purchase. You'll be able to use them all for a lot of different activities. They're all great basics in a crafting kit.

You'll also need the template for the backing card which you can download here.

Print the backing cards on card stock and cut them out with either a paper trimmer or a cutting knife and ruler. If you do a lot of cutting I highly recommend investing in a paper trimmer or guillotine. It saves so much time.

I made sure to leave space at the bottom of the design for kids to write a small message, so get your kids involved personalizing each card. Trust me, they'll complain, but they've got to do something, right? 

Take an adhesive dot and stick it to the back of a Melody Pop, then place the Melody Pop down onto a card. The adhesive dots hold pretty well, but I decided to add a little extra reinforcement (and an extra detail) by also tying the Melody Pop stick to the card. There are always random candies sitting loose at the bottom of the Valentine's box each year so we want to avoid that happening.

To tie the Melody Pop stick to the card, thread the needle with the twine, poke it through the front of the card along side the stick and then back through the card on the otherside of the stick. Cut the thread about 1.5" on each length and tie a bow.

Now repeat this 30 times (or however many kids you need to make them for) and you're done!

See that rainbow below? That's Mathilde's Valentine's Day box. Isn't it cute? This was our first year making Valentine's Day boxes and I had a lot of fun being creative with the kids (Lola made one the same). I'll be sharing the DIY soon. Spoiler alert, it's pretty much exactly the same as my pinata DIYs!

 Let me know if you make these simple Valentines. I'd love to hear!

Monday, 3 February 2020

Valentine's Day Round Up

January is finally over - and that means that Valentine's Day is almost here!

Today I'm sharing a round up of some of the past Valentine's Day goodies that the kids and I have made for their classmates. We've made all sorts of fun things in the past, some food related and some not, so if you're looking for ideas for this Valentine's Day you're sure to find something here. Best of all, they're all easy-peasy to make! Just click the bold and underlined title for each for the DIY.

Let's take a look...

Friday, 31 January 2020

Strawberry Meringue Hearts for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is sneaking up on us again so I figured it was about time I shared the treats that the girls gave out to their classmates last Valentine's Day. I know, I know... always on time!

For her 8th birthday Lola had an emoji themed birthday party (which you can see here) and one of the biggest hits with the kids were the poop emoji chocolate meringues that I made. I totally need to share THAT recipe here too. I'll get there! Anyway, I made up an extra batch of the poop emoji chocolate meringues to hand out to her classmates to celebrate her birthday at school and they LOVED them. I'm talking kids coming up to me every day at drop off asking if I had more of them to hand out. Kids love sugar!

Anyway, when it came time to work on Valentine's treats for Lola's class I just knew that we had to modify the poop emoji meringue recipe into something a little more fitting for the day. What could be more fitting than pink love hearts? With cutesy eyes, of course! Needless to say, they went down a treat. In fact, Lola is keen to make them again this year for her new class.

These tasty little treats are super easy to make and look the part for Valentine's Day, so today I'm sharing the recipe with you.

Monday, 27 January 2020

A Look Back at 2019

2019... It was a year of big changes and adventures for our family. 

We took a few trips across the country and across the world, we took part in uplifting events, we went to so many cool exhibitions, we had fun parties, we celebrated holidays, we experienced so many new things... Oh, and we moved to a new state and bought a house!  

Some of these things I've shared here on Little Hiccups, others I've shared on Instagram and others I never got around to sharing anywhere. So let's take a look back at the past year and everything we got up to. Don't forget to click the bold and underlined links for a dedicated post on each event/trip/part/holiday etc. 

This is a long post, so grab a drink, something to snack on and get comfy. You'll be here a while!

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