Easy Gingerbread House Recipe To Make With The Kids

IMG_3061How To – Gingerbread House

An excellent recipe for gingerbread, and a simple sweet house. Make christmas a little more special – the kids will love it!


550 grams Honey
250 grams Sugar
125 grams Butter
3 Eggs
1000 grams Bakers (or bread) Flour
25 grams Mixed Spice
50 ml Water
16 grams Bicarbonate of Soda

Royal Icing
200 grams Egg White
1350 grams Icing Sugar
3 Drops Lemon Juice

Sweets to decorate
Icing sugar to shake over for snow effect.


This recipe makes enough dough for 2 houses. I usually make 1 house and cut gingerbread cookies out of the second piece of dough. My 4y/o loves decorating the biscuits with icing and sweets while I decorate the house!

1. Heat the honey and sugar to 65 degrees Celsius. (Don’t worry if you haven’t got a thermometer. Just heat until the mix is melted and hot but not near boiling).
2. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix until 35 degrees Celsius. (or is neither hot nor cold when you touch it!)
3. Add flour, eggs and spice and work into a smooth dough.
At this point you can store the dough to mature – or keep going with the recipe.
4. Dissolve bicarb into the water and add to the dough. Mix thoroughly.
5. Roll out the dough to 4mm for base and walls and 2.5 – 3mm for roof.
6. If you wish you can now glaze the dough with a sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water) and dock well (prick), both to prevent bubbles rising. I have done this in the past and the result is just as good. In my example here I haven’t.

In this example I have rolled all the dough to 4mm and baked the dough in sheets then cut it when cooked as this gives a cleaner edge. The roof pieces will be too thick so I carefully cut them in half (width ways) to make them lighter.

7. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for approx. 15-20 minutes.

To Assemble

1. If you have not already, cut out the pieces. Do this while the dough is warm. Don’t forget to cut a round window and a door. (See pictures) Cut the circle in half to form shutters.
2. Make up the royal icing. (Royal icing dries hard so keep in covered with plastic wrap.)
3. Put the icing into a piping bag with a medium plain nozzle.
4. Assemble in the following order:

Back wall.
Two Side walls.
Front wall.
Now, let icing harden for an hour, then

Front door.
Now, pipe on more royal icing to decorate. Decorate with sweets before the royal icing hardens.
Finally, dust with icing sugar for fresh snow effect.

Another hint is to leave the dough to dry overnight. Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit. Cook the next morning. This gives the cooked dough a nice dry crust with a moist interior.

One last note, I once made a gingerbread house twice this size and you can see my hand written measurements on the diagram photo. If you are making this for the first time, please use the typed measurements in the diagram as reference.



Don’t forget to enjoy your day.

Top 10 Snowman Treats To Make with Your Kids This Christmas

melting chocolate snowmenMelting Snowman treats – how cute are they!  Recipe here.

choc snowmanSnowmen cake pops.  Of course!  Recipe here.


egg cup snowman to make for the kidsEgg-cup snowmen.  Yeah!  Recipe here.

snowmen with scarves to make with the kidsFrosty glass of milk snowman.  How cool is that?  Recipe here.

snowmen cupcakes to make with the kidsSomething a little different…… Recipe here.

snowman eggnog to make with the kidsEggnog snowman (adult or kids version!) Recipe here.

marshmallow snowmenWhat’s not to like with marshmallow snowmen!  Recipe here.

1205_kids_cheeseman_lCheesey snowman anyone?  Recipe here.

snowmen-melting-cookies-1Helllllllllllllpppppppp!  Great.  Recipe here.

The Snowman Ok, not edible.  But after the mayhem of the kitchen fun you will need to relax with your little ones.  and what better way than with this classic tale?  Buy at Amazon here.


The Top 10 Things Children Really Want Their Parents To Do With Them

what children really wantThis wonderful article by Erin Kurt (originally appeared here).

It’s a great reminder to us.  It is really easy to forget it is the simple things that ‘feed’ our kids most.  This is one top ten list I plan to put into action…. more often.

What do you think matters most to your children? You driving them to lessons and practices, or is it the smile and hug you greet them with after school? If you guessed the latter, you are correct.

Sixteen years of teaching and giving the same assignment every Mother’s Day has led me to the exact same conclusion. You see, every Mother’s Day I would ask my students to give me advice on being a mother. They were to think about things their mother or guardian did for or with them that made them feel happy or loved. The classroom would go silent as the students wrote intensely for longer than they had ever written before. Often smiles would appear on their faces as they reflected on the happy experiences they were remembering. After reading their responses I would add to my list all the ideas they mentioned. Surprisingly, many of the responses were the same. Year after year, in every country I taught, and in every type of demographic, the students were saying the same things and had the same message: It’s the small things that their mothers did that meant the most and that they remembered.

Many moms today feel as if they are not good mothers unless they are racing around, shuttling their children from lessons, to practices and back to lessons again. I’ve had mothers tell me that they want to give their children every opportunity they did not have. While this thinking might bring the mother some comfort, it really does not do the same for their child who is potentially feeling overextended, stressed and tired.

After speaking endlessly about this topic with my students, it became clear to me that children today are involved in too many activities and are in turn becoming less in touch with themselves and their families. In addition, my students told me they really wished for more time to “just play”. Of course many of them enjoy their extra curricular activities, but it is not necessary they said to be allowed to do everything. What they enjoyed most, and what made their hearts happiest was when their mothers did simple things for or with them.

Here is a list of the top ten things students around the world said they remembered and loved most about their mothers.

  1. Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song. Also tell me stories about when you were little.
  2. Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk with me privately.
  3. Spend quality time just with me, not with my brothers and sisters around.
  4. Give me nutritious food so I can grow up healthy.
  5. At dinner talk about what we could do together on the weekend.
  6. At night talk to me about about anything; love, school, family etc.
  7. Let me play outside a lot.
  8. Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favorite TV show together.
  9. Discipline me. It makes me feel like you care.
  10. Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag.

Children are incredibly wise and tend to see the world more simply than we do.

Perhaps it is time we start taking their advice. Maybe we would all feel a little less stressed and be satisfied with the fact that doing little things really is… good enough.


Don’t forget to enjoy your day.

Praising Kids: How Proper Praise Helps Children

The Problem with Hollow Praise

Praise your child constructivelyWhen you say, “good job,” “beautiful painting,” or “great performance” to a child, the comments become “white noise,” or empty words with little meaning — eventually platitudes not even heard. While it may seem like the mark of a loving parent to do so, praising your child expansively not only devalues the praise, but also prevents her from actually knowing what doing a “good job” means.

Praising in glowing terms — especially if it comes after less-than-perfect behavior or performance — can actually send a message that he or she doesn’t need to try harder to improve. Children who don’t receive specific feedback may come to feel they’re entitled to praise no matter what they do. They start to believe that they can coast along, assuming credit will come anyway. When it doesn’t, they will be unprepared to cope.

In her study, “Mothers’ Daily Person and Process Praise: Implications for Children’s Theory of Intelligence and Motivation,” University of Illinois’ Eva M. Pomerantz used interviews to assess mothers’ praise in response to children’s success in school over a period of 10 days. The results: “the more mothers used person praise (i.e., ‘You are smart.’ and ‘You are a good kid.’), the more children held an entity theory of intelligence and avoided challenging work in school six months later, which prior findings suggest undermine achievement.”

Person Praise vs. Process Praise

Furthermore, when you praise a child who is not doing as well as she could, she ultimately learns to believe she doesn’t have to do better to be accepted. She can coast or she feels entitled, expecting that everything should be coming her way whether she strives for her best or not.

Another problem with too much praise is that you are not training your son or daughter to deal with criticism and failure. You run the risk of having your child dissolve when he fails his first test or gets a C; when he isn’t invited to a party or included in a get-together with friends; when he doesn’t get into the college of his choice. He will think, “I’m great — that’s what my parents told me my whole life, so what’s wrong with me?”

You cheat your child when compliments are hollow. Recent findings reinforce these points; Scientists at the University of Chicago and Stanford University discovered that the kind of praise a parent gives a child influences attitudes toward difficult tasks later on. The researchers describe two types of praise: “Person” praise (which includes those unspecific phrases like “You’re awesome!”) and “Process” praise, which revolves around more valuable specific feedback on a child’s actions and accomplishments. The authors found that having more “process” praise will better mold a child to have more perseverance in approaching and solving tough challenges.

Constructive praise with specifics and emphasis on performance encourages a child to strive and work harder. What does constructive praise sound like? Read Part 2

This post was written by Susan Newman, Ph.D., she is a social psychologist and author. Her latest book is The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide.


Don’t forget to enjoy your day.

Letting Your Child Be Sad

sad child


A timely article by Sarah Fernandez exploring the consequences of raising our children ‘wrapped in cotton wool’.  See her blog here.

Want Your Child to be Happy?  Let Them Feel the Opposite

In the July/August issue of The Atlantic psychologist Lori Gottlieb explores why she has so many patients in their 20s and 30s who have it all, but aren’t happy in her story “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy.” While the story is lengthy, it’s worth taking the time to read and to consider how you handle situations in which your child is faced with sadness and disappointment. It appears that a lot of parents are swooping in the moment their child so much as falls down on the grass, looking for learning disability diagnoses in order to explain why their child isn’t as good at math or reading as another child, and letting children quit an activity the moment they show any dislike for it. Gottlieb’s theory is that as a result these children are growing into adults who have “awesome” parents, “great” husbands, and “good” jobs, but they don’t feel happy. Not only that, but when they don’t get the job they want or something goes wrong, they have no idea how to handle it because their parents have always made sure that things are just peachy keen for them.

So many parents are so involved in making sure that their children always get what they “deserve” that some colleges are now creating a position for Dean of Parents to help control the influx of parent phone calls and are having to set up special events at orientation to separate the parents and children because the parents are lingering around and don’t want to leave the children. Oh, and did you hear the story about the Long Island, NY woman who stalked and threatened the baseball coach when her son didn’t make the team? Where do we draw the line?

“Suck It Up” Parenting

I like to say that I was raised in a house of “Suck It Up” parenting. Life isn’t perfect, and my parents made sure we knew that we can’t always get what we want. I remember not wanting to do any activities at one point when I was in grammar school, but my parents believed it was really important so they told me I could do whatever I wanted whether it was a sport or an art class, but I had to do something. They allowed me to have some control over what I wanted to do, but they weren’t going to let me sit by and let me do nothing despite my disappointment. Not only that, but once we committed to something, we were committed to it for the session. We were taught to finish what we started, and I think that is something important that I have carried with me into adulthood. There were no days off from school “just because” or even if we had a headache. We were expected to help around the house and with yard work whether we wanted to or not, and as a result I knew how to do things like put a dishwasher on and my laundry when I went off to college and eventually into my own house. And I’d say that my brother, sister, and I have all developed into successful, generally happy and well-rounded people despite our “imperfect” childhood.

Allowing Disappointment

However, recently I’ve struggled a bit with how to handle my son’s disappointment. Of course we never want to see our children hurt physically or emotionally. When his best friend from school didn’t show up to his birthday party, he was really upset. I thought about picking up the phone and calling his parents just to find out why they couldn’t make it (not to berate them for disappointing my son). But ultimately I knew that if they weren’t there, there was a good reason so there was no need for me to call them. Instead I just explained to my son that something must have come up, and we knew the boy’s dad had to work that day so maybe he had ended up working late. And I explained that rather than sulk around his party, he should enjoy playing with the friends that did come which he eventually did.

Later that week, my son wanted to buy a board game with a gift certificate that he received for his birthday. I dreaded this because he tends to get upset when he doesn’t win, and when we brought it home, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should let him win so that I could avoid the meltdown that follows, but even that I knew was really for my own benefit and not his. I just didn’t want to deal with it. Ultimately, I decided that I would be doing him a great disservice and that he needed to learn how to lose gracefully. He is only five and I don’t want him to lose all the time, but I’ve found that playing a few rounds of the game so that he wins some and loses some has taught him to take losing in stride much better than he would have only a few weeks ago, and I think it’s appropriate for his age.

Life Isn’t Perfect

The bottom line is that no matter how much we protect our children, at some point they are going to have to go out into the world without us. There will hearts broken, sports teams they don’t make, friends who let them down, and colleges they don’t get into. It may even rain on their wedding day. It is just as important that we teach them how to handle what they will encounter on their own as it is that we do our best to protect them and show them how much we love them.


Don’t forget to enjoy your day.

Getting Kids To Co-operate

Shelly Phillips gives some great tips for getting our children to listen to us.  Find her blog here.

Six Communication Tricks That Will Get Your Kids to Co-operate

angry childAs the parent of a preschooler, I often notice myself feeling frustrated and asking myself, “Why won’t she cooperate?!” If you have a young child at home, I know you understand. There are times when I’m tired or hungry or in a rush and I just want my daughter to do exactly as I say instantly without questioning, avoiding, or delaying.

What I’ve noticed is that as soon as I get attached to things going a certain way, my daughter has different ideas. I can understand why. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything. Not even young kids. Or maybe especially not young kids. I mean, toddlers and preschoolers are just developing their will and learning to act independently of us. So, of course they’re going to push back when we thrust our will upon them.

As a preschool teacher and now as a mom, I’ve discovered that there are certain things I can do that greatly increase the chances that kids will cooperate with me. Here are six secrets to getting kids to cooperate that have worked like a charm for me:

Invite, Don’t Demand

We all want our children to “ask nicely,” but the truth is, that’s easier said than done. My question is, where do you think they learned to be demanding and inflexible? Oh yeah, from us! If we want our kids to cooperate, then we’ve got to be the bigger, more mature ones and lead by example. Contrary to popular belief, asking nicely, inviting, and working together to find a solution to a problem doesn’t teach children to be more defiant or disobedient, instead, by doing these things you’re laying a foundation of trust and teamwork that your kids will soon learn to rely on.

Use this quick test to figure out whether your request is actually a demand. Ask yourself, “Would it be OK if they answered ‘no’ to this request?” If not, then you’re not actually inviting or asking, you’re demanding or requiring a specific behavior. That’s OK some of the time, especially if safety is an issue, but remember, the more demands you make on your kids, the less true, internally motivated cooperation you’re likely to get.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have expectations of your children. It’s just that when those expectations aren’t met, it’s helpful to see that as an opportunity to problem solve together, rather than an excuse to punish them into submission.

Turn it Into a Game

Kids love to play. When you can make something fun, they’re far more likely to get on board. This does require some creativity and spontaneity on your part. When your child refuses to leave the park, can you find a way to make getting to the car more fun? Maybe you’ll pretend you’re firefighters and you have to jump into the firetruck to go put out the fire. Or perhaps you’ll race, or hop like a bunny, or offer a ride on your shoulders. Making things more fun isn’t just a great way to gain your child’s cooperation, it’s also a way to enjoy your time with them more. I mean, which would you prefer, a power struggle where you force your child kicking and screaming into his care seat or a fun game in which he climbs in willingly?

If you’re not sure what kind of a game will work best, tune in to your child’s interests. If she loves princesses, then you’ll be her knight in shining armor or her trusty steed. If he’s into trucks, you can ask if he wants to be fork-lifted into the car. Or maybe you’ve just read a story about a friendly fish, so try acting it out! If you just can’t seem to come up with an idea, ask your child what to play. Most kids are more than ready with a suggestion for a fun game or activity that you can alter slightly to fit your agenda.

Stop Repeating Yourself

This is a mistake we all make, especially when we’re not getting the results we want. Trust me that repeating yourself is the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to foster cooperation. Your child heard you the first time, and by repeating yourself, you’re simply training her to stop listening and wait for you to get frustrated before she acts.

Children are discovering all sorts of things about the world around them, including vast amounts of information about social/emotional dynamics. When they throw you off your game or induce you to get frustrated or upset, they’re gathering very interesting data about how to get what they want and what might cause you to reconsider your position. Don’t fall prey to their cunning.

When you can keep your cool and maintain clear boundaries, your kids will still test you, but after they’ve tested all their theories about how to get around your rule with no success, they will find other areas far more interesting and emotionally rich.

Be Forgetful

But what about when you’ve asked once and they’re not responding? Instead of asking again, take a different tack. Be forgetful and invite them to remind you what you said a moment ago. “Wait, I forget, didn’t I just ask you to do something? What was that? I think we were getting ready to go somewhere, but can you please remind me where?”

This allows the kids to be the smarter ones and if there’s one thing children love, it’s being smarter and more capable than adults.

Let Them Be In Charge

That’s why you’ll get a lot more cooperation when you allow them to be in charge. No need to constantly corral them, just put one child in charge of getting everyone ready and out the door and you’ll be surprised how quickly it will happen. This works especially well with my daughter when I underestimate her abilities and she gets to prove how smart and capable she is. “You don’t know how to do that all by yourself, do you?” And then when she has her shoes on and is climbing into her car seat, “Wow, you knew exactly what to do to get ready to go and you did know how to do it!”

Cooperate With Them

There are times when even the most cooperative child just needs some extra help. This could be because they’re tired, sick, hungry, or just feeling sad and disconnected. So if nothing else seems to work, offer to help. During times like this, we like to play a game in which my daughter pretends to be a baby and I have to do everything for her. After just a few moments of this game, she is far more willing to do what I’ve asked or help me with something. That’s because she knows that when she really needs some extra support, I’m there to willingly and happily provide her with the support she needs.



Don’t forget to enjoy you day.

My Heartfelt Prayer For My Babies – Every Day

My babiesDear Universe,

Thank you, thank you with all my heart for my beautiful babies.  They bring me such joy; I never knew such overpowering love could exist for me.  I’m so grateful.  Grateful with all my heart, thank you.

With every fibre and every bone in my body thank you for keeping them safe when I have dropped the ball.  Like the time Lucas was lost at the seaside.  Or when we were all up in the house and Lucas fell in the pool.  I thank you for Marc pulling him out.  I thank Marc again.  Thank god for you Marc.

Please don’t let the nightmares stop. They remind me to keep better watch.

And please (wink), can we win a bit of money on the Lotto?  Just enough to do the extension.  Nick would be so happy.

I’m grateful every day.


Don’t forget to enjoy your day.


Child Safety – Retractable Dog Lead As Child Restraint?

question mark

Child safety


Am I being too, I don’t know, cautious? Yesterday while doing the school run I noticed a Mum who was using one of those retractable dog leads as ‘reins’ for her toddler.

The fact that it was a dog lead for a child made me feel slightly uncomfortable to start with.  But then the toddler kept getting tangled up in the long lead it was allowed and I could just see the dangers of the child getting strangled!

The long lead also meant that she was not close enough to assist when needed.

I think it was just wrong.

Am I being to sensitive?

Should I have said something to the Mother?


Don’t forget to enjoy your day.