At Grandma's Place

...having fun, enjoying life, creating memories

At Grandma Place

Join me in creating new traditions with my grandkids.

At Grandma's Place

...making every moment special...

At Grandma's Place

...Having fun never goes out of style...

At Grandam's Place

..sharing fresh and creative ideas that combine the simplicity of the past with the energy of today...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cook up some memories with your grandkids

Yesterday, I cooked up a batch of simple Jam Drops and, while still warm,  packaged them up for my grandkids. I wasn't certain whether they would appreciate them. After all, the grocery shelves are lined with colourful packs of commercially made biscuits of all shapes, assortments and flavours. And Jam Drops are quite basic.

They're the sort of biscuit that I used to whip up quickly and pop into the oven while the dinner cooked. But that was when my kids were small... and times, and tastes, change.

Apparently, though, kids still like Jam Drops- especially when they're still warm and fragrant. "You know, you're just like a real grandma, Nan... you know, cooking up special treats for their kids," commented one of my grandsons, with his mouth filled with Jam Drop. "How many can I have?"

In case you've misplaced your own family Jam Drop recipe, I've listed my own below. It varies considerably from my own grandmother's vague recipe that included terms like: 'add a good amount of... and pour in some milk until it looks right.'

Jam Drops are great for involving the kids and teaching them some culinary skills, too. If they're old enough, they can measure the ingredients, stir in the egg and flour. They all love to roll the mixture into small balls and it's pretty easy to make and fill the small hole in each one. They don't take long to cook, either, which is great for impatient young cooks.

If you're making them to give to your grandkids, package them up in a special box or container. A small noodle box works well. Add a bit of ribbon or string and a little tag. I've created one for you to download and use if you wish.. see below and click on the link to download the pdf.

  You can even buy a 'home made' stamp to press into the base of your biscuits before cooking, if you want a special touch for your creations. The Jam Drops mixture is a little soft for this, unfortunately, but it would be great for shortbread.

Jam Drops Recipe
60gm butter
60gm sugar
1 egg
120gm self-raising flour
pinch salt

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add egg and beat well.
3. Add flour and salt and mix well.
4. Roll into small balls and place on a baking tray. ( I use a silicone tray.. they're great!)

5. Dip the end of a wooden spoon into a bit of flour and then press into each ball of mixture to make a small hole in each.
6. Fill the hole with jam.
7. Bake in a moderate oven (180 deg) for 15 mins.

Enjoy your biscuits and share with your grandkids...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Create a mini greenhouse in an afternoon

It's wet and miserable today, with sudden downpours of rain that are too heavy for a fun walk in the rain and certainly too cold to take two small boys puddle jumping. But they will be here soon looking for an exciting afternoon adventure with grandma.

Fortunately, I've stocked up on indoor activities for just such a situation. Today's plan?... a wonderful mini vegetable garden.

 'Woolworths Fresh Food' store's latest shopping incentive for families and the latest in their range of collectible cards, is Jamie Oliver's Garden.

The collectible cards are very attractive with some textured, embossed and even heat sensitive that change if you hold your finger on the print. There are also some cards that are fragrant.

An optional journal can be purchased to store the cards and stickers or you could also buy a coordinated designer tin.

I noticed that, among other matching items that can be purchased, there were some small aprons, gardening trowels and watering cans. So I stocked up on those items for the boys. You have to look the part.. it's half the fun!

And... I bought the mini-greenhouse. It's really great. There is a shallow rectangular tray as the base ready to fill with the provided potting mix.

The rest of the greenhouse is pre-printed and cut clear plastic ready to be assembled. When finished, it rests on the tray and is easily removed to water the garden. Stickers are provided to decorate the greenhouse and herb seeds are included ready to sprinkle over the tray of potting mix.

It's very simple and lots of fun.
But if you can't obtain one of these little greenhouse kits, you can still create your own.

You will need:
* large clear plastic drinking glass (You can use any container but I used plastic for safety with small boys. A glass or plastic jar, bowl or container would look very attractive. Be imaginative.)
* small amount of gravel for drainage
*filtering charcoal if you have any but it's not essential
*potting mix
* herb seeds or seedlings (chives, cress, mint, oregano,parsley)
*colourful stickers
*herb labels are optional but look great to pop in amongst your herbs. You can find some to download here..

The instructions are simple: add some gravel in the base of your clear container, then some charcoal, if you have some.
Half-fill the container with potting mix and sprinkle with the herb seeds. If you have seedlings, gently plant these in the potting mix. Don't over-fill your container.

Then add some stickers to the outside of your container. (The boys wanted to add lots to their garden container.)

Don't forget to water your mini-garden; that's a big part of the fun for small boys. It might be better to use a spray bottle of water to avoid drowning the seedlings.

And, once the herbs begin to grow, they can be pinched off to use in cooking, added to butter for a herb spread or sprinkled over salads.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A storybook app destined to become a family classic

C.S.Lewis once commented, "Though I get no more tired now than I did when I was younger, I take much longer to get un-tired afterwards."

I can relate. Today, I am struggling with the 'getting un-tired' part.

My grandsons stayed longer with me this week. I care for them a couple of days each week while their parents work. Business commitments and other factors this week meant that their parents worked later hours. So, they stayed with me until after dinner.

And that was fine... they are only little, although energetic bundles of fun. But by early evening, they were tired, and so was I, and I was running out of quieter activities to keep them occupied.

So, just for a bit of added interest, I quickly downloaded the app, 'Nighty Night'. I'd seen it reviewed a number of times and it seemed to gather a lot of positive comments. The cost of $3.99 was less expensive than a regular picture storybook,

I should say, first of all, that the graphics are beautiful. The colour is lovely. I wondered if it would appeal to the small boys.

Yep... they both wanted to be the one holding the iPad. It has a small lead-in, an intro, but you can skip it if you wish. None of us wanted to.

The story line is simple. It's night. Everyone is going to sleep. But, on the farm, the lights are still on. The animals need to go to sleep, too.

So, you need to touch a lighted window or area. It then opens to an animal's habitat/ pen/stall. The boys liked stroking and petting the animal and watching it jump around and make noises.

The animal will go to sleep when you click off the light.. which is great. The boys love switches of any sort so it's wonderful to be allowed to turn off the light!

There was one problem, although not exactly with the story app itself. One of my grandsons particularly liked the dog and he didn't want it to go to sleep.

So, although we frequently visited the page, he just wanted to pat and play with the dog, much to everyone else's frustration.

If you'd like to check out the app yourself, it's included below. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as my grandsons and I have done.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

14 Evernote Uses for Grandmas

Make your life a little easier....

I really thought that, by the time I became a grandma, my life would be slow, relaxed, maybe a little mundane but certainly tranquil. I had certainly created sweet, though fictional, cameos in the recesses of my mind: of curling up in a cozy little nook to read for hours, cooking fragrant cupcakes and biscuits in my well-designed kitchen and preparing for the occasional visits from grandchildren, pottering around for hours in picturesque craft and novelty shops as I searched for unique and enthralling gifts and crafts.  Ha! Little did I know that this part of my life would become, arguably, my busiest!

The role of today's grandparents has changed considerably. Certainly, the only time I manage any reading opportunities is on my iPad. Sometimes I'm able to listen to an audio that I've downloaded from while driving to one or other of my grown children's homes or their planned events. And yes, I do take time to cook.. for my grandkids and family, but it's an activity generally accomplished late in the evening before I collapse in bed after running around behind my active grandchildren. I care for them twice a week and help out with my daughters' playgroups for another two mornings. And my kitchen? Well, I'm renovating my house.. of course.

Does your life resemble mine?

With so much happening in my life, I look for any tools that will enable me to handle the myriad of roles and challenges that now are an everyday part my life. But, I've discovered Evernote.. have you? I know that there are many apps and programs that provide assistance and fulfill many of today's needs. But Evernote pulls so many into just one app. I really don't have to think.. I just open Evernote. Check out some of these uses:

 1. Medical records. I can create a notebook within Evernote for my husband's and my own medical records. Since he struggles with Parkinson's Disease, this is really helpful and, I can archive his prescriptions.

2. Schedule reminders. This is really helpful and helps me remember appointment times and when I should be leaving home.

3.Checklist for shopping. Yes, I know there are many shopping apps available but this keeps all of my information in one convenient spot.
4. Handy record of clothing sizes. I have a separate notebook for each grandchild and keep all the details about current clothing sizes, colour preferences and other individual requirements.

5.Gift list and ideas. I can keep track of gift ideas and suggestions for all my family and friends as well as birthday information.

6.Keep grandchildren's art. Snap a photo of the artwork of your grandchildren and keep it safe in Evernote.

7. Printer cartridges. I've lost count of the times I've rushed to buy a new cartridge only to be confused once I have the vast selection in front of me. Take a photo of the cartridge you need and file it in Evernote.

8.Maintain your own fitness journal in Evernote. There's no excuse for neglecting your health and maintaining a fitness journal is a great motivation, too.

9. Create a 'Honey-do' list and share it with your partner. It's a great way of methodically working through those tasks that are always overlooked or put aside til later.

10. Find your parked car. Have you ever forgotten where you parked your car? It's a little frightening. Snap a photo and file it whenever you park your car.

11. Track your finances. Set up a spreadsheet in Evernote for your recording your finances. You can also take a photo or scan your receipts.

12. Insurance Policies. Keep all of your important records and documentation, like insurance policies, in one place, Evernote, and they're easily retrieved.

13. License plates. It's easy to forget your car's license plates, especially if you regularly change cars. Snap a photo and have permanent record.

14. Genealogy. Create a notebook and record family details, scan old photos and documents, record interviews and store any other records you may obtain as you research your genealogy.

These are just some of the suggestions and ideas I've come across for using Evernote to make life run a little more smoothly. What other ways do you use it? Please add them in the comments below.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Create a simple, vintage wooden ruler

I love glossy magazines, especially the home-beautiful, country-living, vintage craft style of magazines. After a busy week filled with constant activity and endless demands on my time, I love to curl up in a favourite chair in the sun, relax and read a beautiful magazine.

But I recently discovered a magazine I hadn't seen before, an European publication, and I've really enjoyed it. In fact, I returned almost immediately to the newsagent where I found it to buy one for a friend and all the copies had sold. Have you found it yourself? It's called 'Daphne's Diary and you will find the website here>>>

It's beautifully presented with a vintage flavour and includes articles on antique furniture, herbs, country cooking, home decorating and journals. There's a segment on travel, antique dolls and a frame-able poem that reflects on a new year.

There are some lovely pull-out pages of postcards to use and some folder tabs to detach and adhere to your organisational stationery and even an article that takes a look at Jane Austen with delightful illustrations and cameos of Jane's life and times.

Amongst the numerous craft ideas within the book, I came across this simple idea to create a wooden ruler. It's so easy that you could create it with your grandkids.

The idea is very simple.
You will need:
* wooden paint stirrers
* sandpaper
* glue stick
* ribbon
* the magazine

I found, at our local hardware store, that paint stirrers are free so this makes the craft an especially inexpensive activity.

1. Lightly sand the paint stirrer.
2. Included in the magazine is a detachable slip of paper with inch and centimetre divisions marked out as for a ruler. Remove the design and cut out the printed rulers.
3. Spread glue over the paint stirrer and adhere the cut out paper ruler to the wooden stirrer.
4. You will notice that the design, the decorative edge, extends beyond the width of the stirrer so this will fold around to the back of the stirrer.
5. To finish your creation, you may like to add some decorative media to the handle or tie some ribbon.

And that's it... simple but attractive.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How can you store all your grandchildren's works of art?

Have you ever watched the look of intense concentration on the face of a child as they draw, paint or create a masterpiece of art? I often wonder what thoughts are going on behind that intensity.

Yes, art is fun. Yes, young children enjoy getting messy with paint and feeling the textures of different media. I love watching them concentrate on a new paint texture and try out ways of using it or changing it. But it's so much more than just 'fun' for a child's education and development.

Studies show that, through art, children learn to think creatively, to observe, describe, analyse and interpret. They learn to express feelings with and without words. They practice problem-solving skills, critical thinking,  and develop related language and vocabulary. It also develops confidence.

So.. as a grandmother, I encourage my grandchildren to explore art and to create. It's a real thrill when one of them rushes up to say, "This is for you, Nan. I made it 'specially!" They will often ask me where I have placed the treasured painting.

But I have seven grandchildren and a small fridge... with limited display capacity. So I was delighted to hear of Artikive- an app that enables me to photograph and save the artistic creations of my grandkids. I can honestly tell them that their work is always with me ready to show to anyone who would like to see it.

 And... I can have them printed up in book form as a permanent reminder. The app allows me to add a child's name to the art and provides a date so that my grandchildren can browse the printed book and find their work of art and its label.

The app is available for iPhone, iPad and any smart phone. You can find more information about this great little app here..

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Create a mystery bag filled with surprises

Visits from your grandchildren should always be enjoyable, fun.. something that everyone looks forward to. But there may be times that the visit is unexpected. Or perhaps you have to care for them when they're feeling unwell. Or, at the last minute, you may need to travel with them.

Be prepared! Create a bag full of fun and surprises for just such emergencies.

First, you'll need a bright-coloured bag.. one that looks as though it's about to overflow with sunshine and laughter. It doesn't have to be too big but it's great if there are extra pockets inside to hide treasures and fun.

Give your bag a name so that the grandkids will associate it with entertainment and excitement. You could just call it your 'Mystery Bag', 'Bag of Hidden Surprises' or even 'Rainbow Bag.' The main thing is to identify the bag with wonderful shared experiences and good times.

Next, fill the bag with bright, appealing toys and objects that will delight your grandchildren: small puzzles, games, activities, books. My grandsons love grasshoppers and insects so I've included some of the toys created like sticky legged bugs that crawl down the windows. Another grandchild loves gems so I have a small box of coloured stones and gems. Your grandchild might like craft activities so include a pack of craft items or some water-colour paints. Favourite reading books are another good idea.

There are wonderful games and puzzles at the Australian geographic shop that are worth checking out. They have a cylinder of coloured rice and hidden objects for a scavenger hunt in a bottle. Use your imagination and include those gadgets and gizmos that you know will intrigue your grandchildren. Some things you might purchase; others you might make yourself or even find, like a collection of beautiful dried leaves.

Don't let the kids play with everything at once. They can just choose one thing each time you bring out your Mystery bag to add to the intrigue and excitement of this special bag.

Anytime, anywhere, any ready to entertain your grandchildren and add some unexpected laughter, fun and excitement into their lives.. and yours.

You might also be interested in:
Displaying your grandkids photo in a 
special tray
Creating a lasting photo journal

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Display your grand-kids' photos in an unique photo-frame tray

Recently, I discovered a creative idea to make your own small table tray using a photo-frame. It's not a large tray but perfect for decorating the tabletop or as a small tea tray. The idea was very simple but the end result looked really good. You can find the original idea in a post by Aimee Song here.

She provides step-by-step instructions so it's well worth the time to read the entire post. And I've included an image of her completed design below.

But the concept did make me wonder whether I could change it slightly to create an unique display of my family and, in particular, my grandchildren.

Amy uses a photo-frame as the basis of her tray. She pops in a decorative paper and then attaches handles to the photo-frame. It looks really good.

But, since the design uses a photo-frame, I wondered I could include some photos of my grandchildren instead of the decorative paper.

My completed project is a little more rustic than Aimee's sophisticated version. But now, not only do I now have a lovely and useful tray that draws many complimentary comments from others, I can also change the images at will and so have a lovely display and recent reminder of my grandkids.

You could use just one photo and alternate it regularly. But instead, I created a photo collage using Smilebox. Try it yourself..