Previously published on My Grandma's Place May 13, 2017
“Guess what, Nan? We’re coming to stay at your place..It’s so exciting !”
“I know, I know. I can hardly wait.”
Following hard on the heels of the pleasure and excitement I felt at my granddaughter’s words was the thought, ‘How am I going to make this visit special?’ ‘What can I do that will create lasting memories?’
(Yep… affiliate links are included which means that, at no additional cost to you, if you buy through me I get some coffee money …though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
If, like me, you’ve gone with the whole down-sizing your home you might not have too much space for full-on, energetic kids. Don’t panic! Regardless of the size of your home, or whether it sits on acres of land or has a postage-sized patio, you can still plan non-stop adventures and fun for your pint-sized visitors.
Choose any of the suggestions below to create a shared time with your grandkids that everyone will long remember. Simple activities shared together can become real ‘moments that matter’ in the memories of your grandkids.
When do your grandkids plan to arrive?
Are they going to stay for just one night or more?
Will they arrive morning or afternoon?
No matter how long they plan to stay, you'll find plenty of fun ideas to keep them busy and happy.
So, let's begin with some morning activities.
After dinner fun
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s getting dark and almost time for bed. Check out these ideas:
Where are they going to sleep?
If you have a spare bedroom with sufficient beds, that’s great. If not, inflatable mattresses on the floor can be lots of fun. Add plenty of soft pillows and covers.
A small tent is another option and you can position it inside or on your patio or decking. I’ve found that most kids creep back inside after about an hour of outdoor camping so be prepared.
Don’t feel that you have to attempt everything on the list. Choose those suggestions that appeal to you or your grandkids.
Although these are simple ideas that don’t take too much preparation or planning, you’ll find that they are ‘moments that matter.’ Your grandkids will talk about this time with you often and with enjoyment. And I hope you’ll enjoy their visit, too.
Oh.. and don't forget to take photos!
A free checklist is available to download below…
Your checklist to preparing a wonderful sleepover. Just click on the image to download,.
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I was looking through our family photos recently... Sigh.. Where did the years go? How did our kids grow up so quickly? Those were fun times and I'm so glad we took time for family outings, adventures and moments that matter. We built unforgettable memories into our lives. But I noticed that, almost without fail, we finished our adventures with ice-cream.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Sure, it was messy.
I loved and laughed at the photos of our kids standing with ice-cream dripping to the elbow or the ones of the scoop of ice-cream spattered on the ground. Yes.. you're right. Not so much fun- and the dismay on the kids' faces was tragic.. but humorous, too.
We all love ice-cream but I've noticed that, with so many on restrictive diets or watching their weight, we haven't been enjoying ice-cream as we used to. The good news is that ice-cream has become healthy! Yes, truly!
And sure.. you may have noticed a growing number of healthy choice ice-creams in the supermarkets but it's even better to make your own. And it means that you can include your favourite flavours, and avoid anything that is a health issue for you and your family.
Take gluten for instance. I'd almost given up on ice-cream. It's included in so many commercially produced ice-cream and I can't handle gluten. But there are wonderful recipes available now that do not included gluten..or dairy. And the recipes are soooo easy.
So.... how do you begin to make your own healthy ice-creams?
Start with frozen fruit.
Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and banana make great frozen fruit choices when you’re making a healthy smooth ice-cream. Put them in your blender along with a little nut milk or coconut cream. Alternatively, use a bit of coconut yogurt and either enough ripe fruit to sweeten the smoothie or a little natural sweetener like agave, honey, or maple syrup. Blend it all up, going light on the nut milk and adding just enough to get the consistency you like.
Use a recipe book or create your own favourite natural ice-cream recipes
Frozen banana blended with milk and a little vanilla extract tastes and feels very much like vanilla ice cream. It’s a great base for any ice-cream or even a thick shake. Add some other frozen fruits like strawberry, peaches, and even pineapple for a delicious treat.
Of course you don’t have to stick to only fruit. Avocado is a surprisingly tasty and nutritious addition to any ice-cream. It works well with organic cacao powder and, with a bit of natural sweeter, will give you that creamy, smooth flavour and texture.
Don't stop there... add other dairy-free ingredients.
Adding peanut butter also gives a lot of body and a smooth texture to your ice-cream. If you like a good peanut butter chocolate ice-cream, use the suggestions above, but add a spoon of peanut butter to the mix before you blend it all up. Chopped nuts add texture and a lovely flavour or you might like to stir through gluten-free biscuits, ginger, vanilla or even chocolate chip, broken into small pieces. Margie Broadhead creates a gluten-free cookie dough and adds it to a healthy peanut butter ice-cream in her book, Nice Cream. Mmmm... delicious!
Ice is another great addition to any ice-cream that will thicken it up and give it that ice cream feel without any added calories. Play around with how much ice you add to your blender, and make sure you have a blender that can handle grinding down and blending in ice cubes. Go easy on the liquids and keep blending. For a thick, creamy ice-cream, you need a lot less liquid than you may think.
Pour it into your ice-cream tub and refreeze. Or you might like to pour the ice-cream into individual moulds for the kids. Above all, have fun, blend away, and create some yummy frozen treats.
Oh... and remember to take the ice-cream from the freezer about 20 minutes before you need it so that it's easy to scoop out and serve.
Now if you'd like a bit of added help, check out the videos below.
You'll find more ideas and step by step instructions in this Best Collection: Natural Ice-creams and How to Make Them.
I hope you enjoy them.... and try them yourself. You'll find that they are incredibly easy.. and incredibly delicious.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself.
If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
The Christmas holidays can be a stressful time for many. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of family get togethers, church functions, work parties, and the shopping, wrapping, and everything else this time of year distracts us with. We can very easily lose sight of what’s important – letting God’s light shine through us during this special time of year.
While we can start within our own families, we can also spread love and joy to others around us that aren’t a part of our families, too. The Bible even gives us a command to love one another:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13: 34-35
Here are some simple ideas for showing the love of Jesus this holiday season.
#1. Invite Friends & Family to Church Activities
You probably have both family and friends who do not attend church regularly or even at all. This time of year is when non-church goers are more open to attending. Even if you’ve invited them recently and they’ve said no, reach out and extend the invitation to attend with you again. Just remember, if they say 'no', don’t get irritated with them and try lecturing them about why they should go. Let it be and just continue praying for them.
#2. Lunch/Brunch/Dinner After Church
Do you know of someone elderly, young family, or someone living alone that is having a hard time? Whether it be job loss, death, financial struggle, or anything else someone could be struggling with, take time to reach out and invite them to a meal out after church.
This is a great way to get to know others you may not normally have the opportunity to get to know. Love on them, not just by paying for their meal but by listening and being present. Ask them about their lives and engage in conversation with them. Don’t prod, let them lead and open up as they feel led. Ask if you can pray over them before parting ways and then do so.
There are so many opportunities to volunteer. Check for local resources such as visiting elderly in a nursing home, visiting sick children in the hospital, helping at a soup kitchen, adopting a family in need and making sure they have gifts under the tree, food on the table and a message about God’s love. These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking.
#4. Give Homemade Treats
As you’re doing your regular baking this holiday season, make some extra goodies. Put them in a decorative tin and take to your neighbors. Drop some off at the local police department or fire station. Giving homemade treats is a fun and easy way to share love with others, especially those that are often forgotten.
#5. Be Helpful
If you’re at a holiday gathering offer to help in the kitchen or see what else the host needs your help with. Not everyone likes help, especially in their kitchen, but just making the offer goes a long way. You can also ask if they need you to bring anything. Once the meal is over, offer to help cleanup or better yet don’t offer just start doing.
#6. Send A Package to Our Troops
Let’s never forget about all the men and women who serve our country to give us the freedom we have to celebrate. Holidays can be a very difficult time for them as they are away from family and friends and sometimes can’t even call home! Put a smile on their faces and show them they’re loved and not forgotten this holiday by sending a care package.
Every grandparent likes to spoil their grandchildren a little; being able to dote on your children’s children is just another fantastic part of being a grandparent. However, while it’s nice to be able to treat your grandkids to the odd treat every now and then, what you don’t want to do is get into the habit of feeding them sweet treats day in, day out. Otherwise, they will come to expect them.
Children who eat a lot of sweet foods, such as cakes, biscuits, chewy sweets, and chocolate, are twice as likely to be overweight or obese as they grow up. They are also twice as likely to develop type two diabetes, and many other health problems, for that matter. It’s all well and good treating your grandkids to the odd treat, but for the most part, it’s important to stick to healthy snacks.
The good news is that healthy snacks can taste just as nice as unhealthy ones, it’s just a case of getting a little creative with what you serve your grandchildren, that’s all. For healthy snack ideas and inspiration that any child is sure to love, read on.
Change how you serve fruit
A lot of kids think that fruit is a boring snack, but that’s just because of how it’s often served. To make fruit more fun, and a snack that your grandchildren actually look forward to eating, get creative.
Consider grilling fruit and topping it with a spoonful of natural honey as a delicious snack. You can do this with sliced apple, banana (leave it in its skin), pineapple, mango, or pear. For cooking apples, remove the core, stuff with sultanas and a teaspoon of honey and bake in the oven until soft and golden.
Or, how about investing in an ice cream maker and making your own homemade sorbet? There are plenty of recipes for healthy sorbet, many of which use honey for sweetening instead of sugar, so it could be worth looking up some of these.
Another way to make fruit more fun is to blend it into a smoothie or milkshake; whether it’s a strawberry milkshake or a banana one, swap dairy milk for oat or nut milk and add a sprinkle of oats to it, to make a more filling snack or breakfast.
Get creative with drinks
Healthy snacking isn’t just about food; it’s also about drinks. A lot of kids navigate towards fizzy drinks, but the problem is that these are either packed with sugar or sweetener, neither of which is very good for them. So when it comes to drinks, you may need to get a little more creative.
Water should always be the go-to drink that you offer your grandkids, as it’s the healthiest option. However, a lot of kids aren’t keen on water; to make it a more interesting drink, flavoring it is often the answer. Whether that is by infusing fresh fruit into water at home or buying bottles of ready flavored water, such as watermelon flavoured water, for instance.
There are various brands of flavored water to choose from, many of which are sugar and sweetener free, so make sure to pick one of these as your go-to option.
Baking doesn’t have to be unhealthy; there are numerous ways that you can make baking that little bit healthier. There are many recipes for cakes such as lemon cake and chocolate cake that use yogurt instead of butter, for instance.
There are also plenty of recipes that use reduced amounts of sugar or no sugar at all, instead using honey or fruit to sweeten them. Baking healthily is possible; it’s just a case of finding recipes that have been adapted to be healthier, that's all.
It’s all well and good spoiling your grandchildren every so often, but you don’t want to overfeed them sweet treats, as this may end up having an impact on their health. Instead, take note of the ideas and inspiration above, and you can make healthy snacks more fun for your grandchildren.
There is only one thing better than mum’s cooking and that is grandma’s cooking, which is why we have such an important role when it comes to introducing our grandchildren to cooking. We have the secret little tricks and tips up our sleeve to make cooking that little bit more engaging and fun, both of which kids thrive off.
Yes, this can be a tricky responsibility. You are teaching them a valuable life skill and setting them up for a delicious future. But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. You taught your child to be the wonderful chef they are now, and you can do it again. But just in case you need a quick refresher course to get underway, here are some of the tips we use at Grandma’s place.
Give Them All The Time You Can
One of the most common reasons why people don’t cook with their children is because they don’t have the time or they need more time in the day (that’s what they tell themselves anyway). But what we grandma’s know is, teaching a child how to cook does not have to be all or nothing. A little bit now and then is better than not giving them the time at all.
Patience Is A Virtue
Yes, yes, yes; of course it is going to be quicker to cook whatever you are cooking yourself. But where is the fun in that? Where is the adventure? Where is your belief in teaching a kid to fish feeds them forever? If you really are struggling for patience then the revolutionaryparent.com has some amazing bulletproof ideas.
However, the most important to thing to remember is this; you will only need to be patient with them to begin with because the more they practice the quicker they will get.
So, why not teach them an easy recipe the next time they come over, something like scrambled egg or spaghetti bolognese, and then have them practice in between now and their next visit. It can be the tastiest homework they’ve ever had and they will be able to help mom out.
Variety Will Make It Fun
It’s summer and what do kids love about summer? Being outside. Go with this. Cooking doesn’t have to be done exclusively in the kitchen. It can be done outside too. Of course, if you are worried about open flames and their health then not only do you get bonus grandma points, you could introduce them to other types of cooking. We came across this Old Smokey electric smoker review | electricsmokercenter.com and we were suddenly rushed back to our childhood, remember just how delicious smoked foods are.
Teach them. Or, you could teach them how to make pizzas. Children love pizzas and having the chance to make their own delicious and nutritious pizzas will advance that love affair, and in a healthy way too.
The Right Recipe Is Key
You do not need to go and find a specialty cooking book for children, trust us. Why? Because almost all cookery books these days have a basic dishes section or even easy family meals.
These are gold dust for teaching your grandkids how to make some of their favorite meals. Spag Bol, meatballs, pasta, stews, all these easy and fun to make recipes that have the ability to grab a child by the imagination and show them that cooking isn’t hard and that cooking doesn’t follow rules.
Then, as they get better on each visit, up the skill level. Introduce them to cooking curry dishes and whatever else takes their fancy.
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There’s nothing quite like waking up to a nice hearty breakfast. By kitting your kitchen out with a few handy appliances, setting yourself up for the day with a wholesome meal could be made much easier.
Here are just a few tools that your kitchen may be in need of.
Are you wild about waffles? You can buy ready-made ones in the shops, but for that extra-fresh feeling nothing beats home-made waffles. Waffle-makers come in all shapes and sizes – with many low cost versions on the market. You can even experiment with recipes and make potato waffles and gluten-free variants. It’s also great trick to use on leftover pizza.
Create your own freshly-squeezed juice by buying a juicer. If you grow your own fruit and veg, this can be a very useful tool to have. You’ll get all the fresh vitamins and nutrients you may not get in a supermarket variety, and have the option to experiment and make your own juices.
Pricing can vary depending on how elaborate you want your juicer to be, with some models costing under thirty quid and others over a grand!
If you need a caffeine hit to get you energised in the morning, why not say goodbye to instant coffee and become your own barista from home by investing in your own coffee machine?
Whether you want a simple percolator or a hi-tech grind and brew coffee maker, there are all kinds of machines available on the market that could give your coffee that extra touch of luxury.
Of course, avid tea drinkers may prefer to stick to the kettle – but even as a toy to impress coffee-drinking guests with and it can be useful.
Multi frying pan
For those grandparents that are used to serving up full English breakfast to big families, this ingenious pan could be a life-saving tool. It’s size allows you to cook a full fry-up on it. Some even have compartments so that you can stop food mixing.
Multi-frying pans fit over multiple hobs – with some having multi-purpose grill use. Pricing varies, but generally you can nab one at under thirty pounds.
Just make sure you have the kitchen space to store it (you may be able to throw out a few other pans to make room – you won’t need them with this multi-pan).
Poached eggs can be a delicious morning treat, perfect for making egg benedict or egg royale. However, they’re also one of the trickiest and most frustrating methods of cooking an egg.
Buying a specialist egg poaching device could make the process a lot easier. You can buy small compartments for under a tenner or buy a specialist poaching pan for the job. Some more high-end machine may offer multiple ways of cooking eggs from boiling to poaching.
This could save having to bother with timers and allow you to cater all manner of guest requests (if you own a b&b this ought to be an essential tool).
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.