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Boredom Jar

Kids today ... I remember when i was little i would just chill in the garden or find something to keep me entertained yet these days kids need constant stimulation. I am gobsmacked when Agent M says to me he is "bored". How with everything you have can you possibly be bored?

Then it clicked, Its not that he has "nothing to do" ... Its more he cant think of what he wants to do. So that's where this gem come in to play.

The boredom jar.

Its such a simple idea ... I'm surprised i hadn't heard of it before.

Take a bunch of lolly pop sticks and write activities on them. When your little one says the dreaded words, ask then to pick a stick from the jar.


He's the catch though ... They HAVE TO DO IT! And not every stick is a fun activity but that's the compromise as there are also sticks in there that might be stuff your not keen on either. Whatever they pull is what they do

Making them is easy too. All you need is some washi tape and 100 lolly pop sticks. You dont even have to use different colours - I just did cause i have a fair few rolls of washi for my planners :)

There are loads of ideas you can use on Pinterest but here is the 100 i used for our jar ... Feel free to use it or make up your own.
  1. One chore (mum’s choice) 
  2. One chore (your choice) 
  3. Play with clay or play-dough 
  4. Draw a dinosaur 
  5. Make a map of the neighbourhood 
  6. Make a map of your imaginary town 
  7. Gather up any washing 
  8. Sweep up the Living room floor 
  9. Play a board game 
  10. Play a card game 
  11. Colour in 
  12. Make a time capsule 
  13. Build a blanket fort 
  14. Play outside for 30 minutes 
  15. 15 minutes of screen time 
  16. 30 minutes of screen time 
  17. Draw a castle 
  18. Draw a city 
  19. Watch a movie 
  20. Go to the library 
  21. Read for 15 minutes 
  22. Read for 30 minutes 
  23. Read for 45 minutes 
  24. Call a relative 
  25. Tell a story 
  26. Make play-dough 
  27. Make cookies 
  28. Bake something 
  29. Have a treat 
  30. Eat a piece of fruit 
  31. Write a list of 20 things that make you happy 
  32. Take a walk 
  33. Find five nature items and identify them 
  34. Learn five facts about any animal 
  35. Learn five facts about any country 
  36. Draw your house 
  37. Draw a family portrait 
  38. Do a craft on your own 
  39. Clean your toys out 
  40. Find five toys to donate to someone else 
  41. Write a story that starts with, “One day, I went to the moon.” 
  42. Play hopscotch 
  43. 20 minutes of exercise 
  44. Do 20 jumping jacks 
  45. Count to 200 
  46. Practise math for 15 minutes 
  47. Clean out your room 
  48. Sort laundry into darks and lights 
  49. Draw a dog 
  50. Draw a galaxy 
  51. Play in your room for 30 minutes 
  52. Play a video game for 1 hour 
  53. Sweep the kitchen floor 
  54. Make a comic book 
  55. Take a bubble bath 
  56. Take a shower 
  57. Water the plants 
  58. Choose a treat out the lucky bag 
  59. Draw a jungle 
  60. Draw a dragon 
  61. Paint 
  62. Make bubble solution and blow bubbles 
  63. Do one science experiment, your choice 
  64. Do one science experiment, mum’s choice 
  65. Read one book 
  66. Learn five facts about any person 
  67. Go to the park 
  68. Build with LEGOs 
  69. Watch one show 
  70. Mum’s choice 
  71. Make someone a “just because” card 
  72. Create a family flag 
  73. Listen to music 
  74. Draw a picture for mum 
  75. Draw a picture for dad 
  76. Draw a picture and mail it to someone 
  77. Write a letter 
  78. Organise your toys 
  79. Rest quietly for 30 minutes 
  80. Draw with your foot 
  81. Draw dad 
  82. Draw mum 
  83. Thumb wrestle 
  84. One hour of screen time 
  85. Update your birthday or holiday wish list 
  86. Make a collage 
  87. Draw a beautiful tree 
  88. Choose any toy and play for 30 minutes 
  89. Finish and illustrate this story: “Once upon a time, I ate a dinosaur.” 
  90. Have a picnic 
  91. Make a robot out of recycled stuff 
  92. Doodle for 20 minutes 
  93. Write a poem 
  94. Make a bird feeder or fill one you already own 
  95. Make brownies 
  96. Do an art project 
  97. Make paper airplanes 
  98. Take pictures or have a photo shoot 
  99. Find a rock and paint it 
  100. Draw an aquarium
The great thing about this jar is that there is always something that can be done and its a great way to get your kids to start using their imaginations too. Agent M has created some amazing robots and some funny comic books after prompts from the jar.

Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted caramel is everywhere just now and lets be honest, its one of the best combos ever. The sweetness of the caramel and the slight bitter tang of sea salt ... Mmmm its so good.

So imagine how amazing it is when you add it to a batch of brownie mix. Answer - Mind blowing!

Here is how i made mine and i was luck enough to get to try them before the Agents descended and the tray was all but licked clean.

For the brownie mix you will need ...

225g margarine
140g milk chocolate
450g caster sugar
110g plain flour
55g cocoa powder
5 eggs
Caramel sauce (i used M&S Caramel and popcorn flavour)
A little sea salt

Start with pre-heating the oven to 180 and greasing a square cake tin.

Over a pan of boiled water, melt the milk chocolate and butter in a bowl.

Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and eggs.

Pour half the mix into the cake tin and set the rest to the side. Make sure the mix is levelled off and is into the corners.

If you are using sauce from a bottle you need to squirt it all over the top. If you are using caramel from a tin like carnation for example you will need to heat it up a little to pour over the top. 10 second blasts in the microwave till its runny will be sufficient.

Once the caramel is on top sprinkle a little of the sea salt over the caramel. Add the remaining brownie mix to the tray making sure its levelled out.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes till the top has browned. We like our brownies a little more on the gooey side so we left ours in for 25 minutes. Remember the brownie will continue to cook for a little while after its out of the oven.

I wish i still drank the cool-aid

When i was younger my family were religious. Church was a weekly family activity with my little sister and i splitting off and going to Sunday school. I used to read the bible stories and when asked could rhyme off the books of the old testament in order. It was just what we did and i didn't know any better.

As i grew up i started to question the whole concept of "God". I asked questions in the older chapter of the Sunday school (known as the Covenanters) which was met with answers i didn't like, normally passing the blame to the "devil" for all the worlds problems or the standard "read your bible, all the answers are in there".

As a teen that is a crappy response, especially when your having a crisis of faith.

Then my papa died and i pretty much lost my faith completely.

Around the time that my parents marriage broke down in spectacular fashion, my papa passed away and i really couldn't cope with it all. We had stopped going to church long before that but i did still believe. The when he passed away, all everyone said to me was that he was in a "better place" which was like a slap in the face. I adored my papa. I was close to him and i really felt that out of all my grandparents, he was the one that "got me". I used to watch Hammer Horror movies with him. We would discuss the pros and cons of life now compared to like when he was younger and we would talk about Art and i would draw for him replicas of his own artwork. He would let me sneak a chocolate lime sweet out of his tub and we would giggle thinking Granny didn't notice (though she probably did). I was inconsolable when he died and still to this day i get emotional when i think of him and how i wish so hard that he could have lived to see Agent M ... Who i think he would have got on great with.

I think i started to lose faith because i seen him deteriorate in front of me. He was a small man anyway but towards the end looked so fragile, and his spirit was so broken. I couldn't believe that a God who was great and powerful would/could allow someone so amazing to suffer so much. It seemed cruel. It made more sense to me that life was just a dick.

When i lost my first pregnancy i completely lost faith in any God. I couldn't accept what was going on and telling me that it was part of "Gods Plan" was as good as saying my imaginary friend says suck it up. There was no higher power at play here. Life just smacked me down and there was no guiding hand to help me up. I was alone in this and that's how it was always gonna be.

Years have passed and when asked i would describe myself as an atheist. It has caused problems with some members of my family with things like getting Agent M christened. I refuse point blank to do it even though i was christened, as i cant stand up there and promise i will raise him in the church. It would be a lie and I'm not going to do that. When I'm asked questions by Agent M about things he has learnt in school i answer them honestly but he knows that i don't believe and he knows that he is free to choose his own belief system. Just cause i don't think there is a God doesn't mean he has to. His beliefs are his own and he has chosen what makes sense to him.

But there are times when i do miss having that faith.

Sometimes i feel jealous of those who still believe. It must be so refreshing to have faith that everything will work out alright in the end. And the idea of seeing family that have passed must be comforting but more than anything i miss the feeling that I'm safe. Knowing that things happen for a reason and that someone is always looking out for you has to be better than the feeling of being totally alone.

When i believed in God i knew that when i died, i would go somewhere special and that i would one day be reunited with everyone i have lost. Now i know that i came into this world alone and i will leave it alone. That's a terrifying thought but one that i have made.

If I'm totally honest with myself, I do wish i still drank the cool-aid.

HP Sprocket Review

For a while now i have been looking at hand held printers, half with curiosity and half with almost an obsession.

I take a lot of photographs and there is something about the idea of a portable printer that i just love. Especially since this year i have decided to give memory journalling a try.

I have watched You Tube video after You Tube video of comparisons with them all and after to-ing and fro-ing i decided i would be brave and buy one.

So let me introduce you to my new HP Sprocket.

Why did i decide to go with this particular printer? Well for me the deciding factor was the quality of prints that they seem to give out. Talking to other users and watching the videos, it seemed to me that the HP gave the best quality. Compared to the Polaroid Snap in particular i liked that i could zoom in on the app allowing me to focus the image on what mattered. I also downloaded the apps prior to deciding which one i would buy so i could get a feel for them. The HP has a lot more frames and "stickers" which you can decorate your images with before printing which became the cherry on the sundae for me.

So let me show you what is what.