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Easter cooking with kids

Easter cooking with kidsEaster cooking with kids – bound to involve chocolate! Baking with my boys is one of my favourite things.  Time away from the dreaded screen, something that we all enjoy doing and you get to eat at the end – something that we all love!

We all want to encourage our children to eat a healthy diet but treats are usually part of Easter for most families in some form or another.   I was looking for a recipe that involved Easter cooking with kids but wanted something a bit different from the usual cupcakes or Easter cornflake cakes.  I found this recipe for mini chocolate cheesecakes and they were a winner so thought I’d share the recipe with you.

Easter cooking with kidsThey are really simple and are extremely delicious.  A lovely treat or even as dessert on Easter Sunday if you are planning a family meal. They do contain chocolate and butter so are a real treat – but it is nearly Easter!

My 11 year old baked them completely by himself but I think they are equally well suited to much younger children with only a little bit of adult help.  Here’s how we did it, hope it gives you some ideas and if you have any great ideas for Easter cooking with kids then please share them with us.

Ingredients:- Base – 14 milk chocolate digestive biscuits, finely crushed and 100g of butter melted.

Filling – 500g tub of ricotta cheese, 3 eggs (beaten), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 200g dark choclate (broken into chunks and melted), 125g icing sugar, mini chocolate eggs.

Method:- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

Line the holes of a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cases.  Put the biscuits in a food bag and bash to small crumbs with the end of a rolling pin (always the fun part in our house and I also forgot how much I love chocolate digestives!).

easter cooking with kidseaster cooking with kids

Tip into a bowl, stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are nicely coated. Spoon between the paper cases.  Press down into the bottoms to make a firm base (we found it easier to do this with our fingers).

easter cooking with kidseaster cooking with kids

To make the filling, put the ricotta, eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the icing sugar. Beat everything together.  We used an electric whisk (because boys seem to like gadgets!) but I’m sure a wooden spoon would work equally as well.

Easter cooking with kidsEaster cooking with kids    easter cooking with kids

Spoon into the paper cases right up to the top.

easter cooking with kids

Bake for 30 mins.  Remove from the oven and gently push your mini eggs into the top of each cheesecake.

Easter cooking with kids

Let the cheesecakes cool completely before eating.  It’s a good idea to leave them in the muffin tin until completely cold otherwise we found they completely collapse if you try to take them out while still hot.

Can be kept in the fridge for upto 3 days.

Easter Cupcake Gift BoxOur Easter cupcake gift makes a lovely gift and comes with 12 muffin cases, 12 Easter sticks, 24 mini chocolate eggs and a recipe card, perfect for making these little cheesecakes.  They make a lovely Easter gift for any baking fans.  Hope you enjoy!

Thanks to BBC Good Food for the recipe!

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Indoor Activities for Kids

indoor activities for kidsThis week it looks and feels like Spring is still a long way off and its got me thinking about indoor activities for kids. Never have my children been so enthralled by the weather forecast. ‘Is it today? Is it going to snow today? Here in Sunny Worthing protected by the Downs we often miss out on the snow.  But we woke up to white blanket this morning.  Huge excitement in the house. My 13 year old was even at the park with me for a dog walk at 6.30am – that’s definitely unheard of!

The excitement slowly faded when they realised that it was school as usual though.  We’ll see what happens later in the week, maybe we’ll have at least one snow day at home?

Snow is of course lots of fun for kids but once you’ve had some fun outside for a while reality hits and they suddenly realise how cold they are.  You head inside and once you’ve ditched the wet clothes, and gulped down your hot chocolate, there’s still a lot of hours to kill before bedtime.

So, what to do without all going mad and spending the rest of the day sitting in front of the TV?  Here’s some good ideas around indoor activities for kids :-

Indoor Camping

I always loved doing this with the kids when they were little. Bringing the fun of the outdoors inside with indoor camping.

Cheap, doesn’t cost a penny, but the kids love it.  They can also pack up “survival kits” before they get set on building their camp – including books, drawing pads, pencils, snacks and a torch.

Then it’s time to build – gather bed sheets, duvets, lots of cushions and blankets and drape them over furniture to create a den or a camp. The more blankets and cushions inside, the better (my favourite bit, so then you get to have a lie down too!). I don’t think you’re ever too young or old for indoor camping. indoor activities for kids

Our cardboard colour in house is also very popular for den making because it easily slots together and you can then use it in the garden when the weather warms up.



Mini Masterchef

The mundane activity of cookinindoor activities for kidsg lunch or dinner can be made a lot more exciting if you give your children (almost) free reign of what they want to cook and allow them to get involved (and you get your head around the fact that they will make a mess!)

Give them an apron, check out the recipe books, and allow them to help you with the cooking. I’ve always loved cooking with my boys from when they were really young and they still love it now.  They are getting quite adventurous too although most of the time their menus usually still involve chocolate and pizza. indoor activities for kids

The biggest thing this activity usually requires? Patience!



Make A Treasure Hunt

A simple treasure hunt takes a little bit of planning and some sort of surprise at the end but is usually lots of fun. Just grab 10 pieces of paper, each with a clue written on to give an idea of where the next clue is hidden.

I like the idea of using the hunt to your advantage and add an extra twist – for instance, to get to the next level the children have to a) spend five minutes tidying their bedroom or b) clean away their toys etc.

Balloon Ping Pong indoor activities for kids

You will need two paper plates and lollypop sticks/straws/cutlery to stick to them to make a handle. These are the bats. Blow up a balloon for the ball.

Make your own net in the middle with a blanket on the floor and you’re ready to go.

I love this idea and again, I think is brilliant for lots of different ages.

Masking Tape Games

Create an indoor mini Olympics!

If you have a roll of masking tape, there are countless games you can play. Simply use the tape on your carpet/floor to mark out the games, whether that be hopscotch, a bullseye for a ball game, giant noughts and crosses, tracks for toy cars, or a maze.

You can browse more masking tape game ideas here.

Arts and Crafts 

There are so many arts and craft ideas and some people seem to be amazing at thinking up very clever ideas and creating real works of art with just an old empty toilet roll.  As someone who is slightly more artistically challenged I love a bit of help.  indoor activities for kidsDjeco have an amazing range and prices start from as little as £2.50.  I’m also a big fan of these colouring in dressing up costumes.  Colour them in, cut them out, and they look brilliant – who doesn’t love a cool dressing up costume? Most definitely on the list for great indoor activities for kids.indoor activities for kids




And once the kitchen is finally clear of flour and you’ve wiped all the smeared chocolate off your cushions from the indoor camping, the dog will probably be asking to go out (our Max is always ready, come rain, shine, snow or earthquake) so it’s time to get the outdoor clothing on again!

indoor activities for kids


Keep warm everyone, and hope you have some great fun this week.  We’d love to hear about your amazing ideas for indoor activities for kids or any of your fabulous snow photos!



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Trade Fair Season

trade fair

For anyone involved in retail, you’re bound to visit at least one Trade Fair during the months of January and February.  It’s a good time once the dust has settled after the busy Christmas period to start planning for the following year and obviously a big part of that is to have new and exciting products to offer customers.

I like to have a really good relationship with my suppliers.  I want to know about product safety testing, where an item has come from and the story behind it.  Trade Fairs are a good place to do this – to meet your suppliers and talk about new trends and best sellers.  For me they are a really good resource and you come away feeling totally inspired.

There are a real mixture of Trade Fairs, from the large such as Spring and Autumn Fair held at Birmingham’s NEC or the smaller Top Drawer held at London’s Olympia.

Top Drawer OlympiaI’ve been to Top Drawer a few times now.  I find it small and friendly and like the fact that it gives you the opportunity to find new and emerging designers from the UK and Internationally as I’m always on the look out for something just a little bit different.

This year I thought it would be a really good opportunity for Courtney our Digital Marketing Apprentice to visit Top Drawer with me.  An ideal time for her to meet some of our suppliers, see their range of products and hopefully spot some new and exciting ones that might make their way onto the shelves at the Boutique.

Courtney jumped at the chance and here’s what she thought of her visit:-

I’m just back from my first ever Trade Fair called Top Drawer in London. I was really pleased when Claire asked me to join her but I didn’t really know what to expect.

I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was, or for it to have such a variety of different items. There was such a huge range of different products on show. From big well-known brands to smaller independent traders, all there to do one thing, showcase their products and hopefully get retailers to buy from them!trade fair

We were obviously interested in items that would be relevant to the Boutique.  Even though the Boutique is small we sell clothes, toys, and new baby gifts so there was plenty to see and lots of different sellers that we wanted to visit.  Clothes, toys, cards, games, books and puzzles, are just a handful of the range of products that they had for children and we saw some really exciting items.  There were also lots of other suppliers with products that weren’t relevant to the Boutique such as jewellery and homeware – they were incredibly lovely though and it was very hard not to be distracted by them!

Some of the suppliers offer exclusivity within in a certain area to their retailers. I have never thought about exclusivity before, but Claire explained to me how important it is . She doesn’t think there’s any point in retailers all offering the same items for sale, that’s not giving customers a good shopping experience.  We know the customers that come into the Boutique are looking for something new and different and so checking if there are any other retailers in the area using the same supplier is always one of the first things that Claire checked.  I now understand how important that is.

I thought everything we saw at Top Drawer was so lovely and of a really high quality.  The suppliers were all incredibly friendly and were happy to explain all about their products in a very informative way.

One of the things that Claire wanted to stock after Christmas was some new cards and wrapping paper.  We found a lovely new supplier and Claire placed an order while we were there.  They arrived a couple of days ago and are already on the shelves!

kalli stillman cardskalli stillman cardsOne thing to remember is to wear comfortable shoes as you end up doing lots of walking! I really enjoyed the Fair and I look forward to visiting my next Trade Fair and seeing what other new products appear on the shelves of the Boutique over the coming months!


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Plastic Pollution in the Ocean

There’s been lots in the news recently about the environment, the impact we are having on plastic pollution in the ocean and the changes that we can make – and it’s got me thinking….

January – Not too late to still wish everyone a very Happy New Year!  It’s the time of year when we all promise ourselves that this is the year that we are going to become better, healthier, fitter individuals. No more copious amounts of cheese, chocolates from the Christmas tree, mulled wine and definitely no more using the exercise bike as a coat peg – or maybe this is just me!? Clearly some things will be easier to change than others!

Many of us have been reading for a long time about the serious issues that plastic has on our Oceans and the Environment.  It seems that people’s awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean has also been increased over the last few months following the fantastic Blue Planet series on the BBC.  An amazing series and there is no doubt that some scenes were pretty upsetting to watch when you saw the damage that is occurring in our Oceans.

So Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.

The commitment is part of the government’s 25-year plan to improve the natural environment.  But green groups are angry the proposals will have no legal force and it makes you wonder if anything will actually change. Jeremy Corbyn has said that the “throw-away” culture had to be tackled “now,” after his party described Mrs May’s plans as a “cynical attempt at rebranding the Tories’ image”.

Whatever happens, you can be sure that the politicians will continue to argue between themselves but lets hope that 2018 is the year that they really are committed to making a change.  It’s hard to continue to ignore the impact that plastic is having on our Oceans and as a proud resident of a seaside town surely we have to take responsibility ourselves?

Sometimes small changes really can make a difference. The plastic bag charge in shops has definitely had an impact. Some people were extremely annoyed when the ruling was first introduced but now we don’t even think about it.  Taking your ‘bag for life’ with you when you go shopping is just what you do and this could now be extended to all retailers.

I’m pleased to say that we have always used paper bags, our customers really like them and surely that’s an easy change for more retailers to make?

A major issue with some retailers is the huge amount of plastic that is used in packaging which is completely unnecessary. I for one would definitely be in favour of a “plastic-free” aisle at the supermarket.

Can we do even more? The Cornish town of Penzance has become the first community in the UK to be awarded “plastic-free” status after dozens of residents and business people backed a grassroots scheme aimed at helping clean up oceans and beaches. What an amazing idea – this has to be food for thought!

In Warwick Street, Worthing we are spoilt for choice for places to enjoy a good cup of coffee and we have now switched to reusable ones for our daily fix. Again, only a small move but one that we are hoping ultimately will make a difference. Thanks Giuseppes Lite for the photo and great coffee!

One of our preferred suppliers of our wooden toys manufactures a large percentage of their products in cardboard boxes without any plastic packaging. This is a big consideration for me and we know that our customers appreciate it too. 

The tags on all the organic clothing we sell are made from card and string rather than plastic.

It probably costs slightly more than plastic and that’s why many tags are still plastic but I’m sure the difference in cost can’t be huge and again if all manufacturers did it then it would just become the norm.

There are plans to help more children engage with the environment and this will include £10m for school visits and a programme to create school grounds that allow youngsters to learn more about the natural world. This has to be a very positive step.

If I’m completely honest with myself I probably won’t completely ditch the chocolate or wine this year but I am committed to making as many changes as we can – however small they may be – that will have a positive impact on the environment and the plastic pollution in the ocean.

So let me know what changes you are hoping to make this year – I’m just off to find my reusable coffee cup, it would be rude not to fill it!




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Halloween –  A treat or just a nightmare?!

I’ve always struggled a bit with Halloween.  My children want me to get as excited about it as they are.  It doesn’t sit so easy with me though. I’m from the generation that didn’t grow up with the concept of Trick or Treat.  That was just something that the American kids did.  I guess it sounded like fun but not something that we did.  Dressing up and then knocking on front doors asking for sweets all sounded a bit weird and something that only happened on the TV.

Halloween Pettiskirt Tutu

As a child, our big Autumn event was always the 5th November.  Out in the back garden, stinking of bonfire, Dad handing out the sparklers while Mum kept up the supply of sausages and Heinz tomato soup. I loved it and always looked forward to it.

But I realise it’s not the 1970’s anymore and Halloween celebrations look like they are here to stay, and my children certainly would never forgive me if we didn’t mark the occasion.

I still felt very weird the first time I buckled under the pressure of ‘pleeeaaase Mum’ and we went off to Trick or Treat.  Once I’d understood the rules – if there’s a pumpkin go ahead and knock, but if you can’t see one then please don’t knock – I felt much happier.  Good rule, it works, the kids are happy, neighbours are happy and I don’t feel like I’m bothering anyone.

So Halloween for kids just seems to be part of Autumn now.  Even though the kids are getting older and it’s not quite as exciting, they still love to plan what they are going to wear and meet up with their friends to plan which roads are more likely to be the most generous and who can fill their goody bags the quickest.

Trick or Treat Bags


And I have to admit I actually quite enjoy it now and love to see all the little children in their Halloween costumes come knocking at the door.  In fact, I’m hoping for lots of visitors this Halloween, otherwise I’ll be left with a year’s supply of Haribo sweets!

The plan for this weekend is obviously to practice my pumpkin carving skills and to look up recipes for exactly what I am going to do with all that pumpkin – there must be something more exciting than pumpkin pie!?

So, it looks like Halloween for kids celebrations are here to stay and very firmly a fixture on the Autumn calendar – and if Halloween is celebrated on Strictly Come Dancing – then it’s good enough for me!

Halloween Pencils

I still haven’t embraced it as much as children would like.  If they were in charge our house would be a complete grotto filled with burning pumpkins with screaming ghouls and ghosts.  Not sure I’ll ever get to that stage but I’ll happily help out with the costumes for Trick or Treating and will gladly purchase a couple of pumpkins ready for carving.

So yes, it’s true. For me, Halloween is now a bit of a treat and not nearly as much of a nightmare as it used to be.

Its also Half Term and Halloween is a very good excuse for some very fun events to get the kids out and about.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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Is It Really Worthwhile Buying Children’s Organic Clothing?

Have you ever thought about what your children’s clothes are made of? We don’t mean just the materials, but how those materials are made and the processes that are involved. And have you ever thought about buy children’s organic clothing?

Children's Organic Clothing


The majority of our clothing is usually made from cotton, so our skin is pretty much guaranteed to come into contact with it at some point during the day. But did you know that around 90% of all cotton is genetically modified? And because skin happens to be rather absorbent, we could be exposed to harmful substances every day. Granted, the amounts may be small, but that’s still a pretty scary thought don’t you think?

It’s Organic September, which got us here at Harmony at Home Children’s Boutique thinking about the children’s organic clothing we stock and why we love it so much. We are proud to stock Pigeon, Frugi and Kite children’s organic clothing. Not just because of the gorgeous designs but because of the quality of the cotton which is always 100% organic and because we know it’s kind to children’s skin.

Kind to Sensitive Skin

It’s Organic September, and 16th-24th September is also National Eczema Week. You may be thinking ‘What’s the connection?’ Well, 1 in 5 children in the UK suffer from eczema and while some might “grow out” of it, others might not. Either way it can be very difficult to treat and manage and extremely stressful for children and their parents. Organic clothing could help many sufferers because it is less likely to cause irritation and allergic reactions due to its softness and the fact that no chemicals are used in the making process.

It’s not only good for eczema sufferers, but it’s good for anyone with sensitive skin in general. We certainly think that bit of comfort it could bring to a child definitely makes it worthwhile considering buying children’s organic clothing.

Children's Organic Clothing


Helping the Environment

Unfortunately, the impact that non-organic cotton farming has on the environment isn’t great. The chemicals used to treat the plant can get into the water supply, the air, and because the majority of cotton is still handpicked, the farmers have to come into contact with the poisonous substances. Around 25% of the entire worlds insecticide usage and more than 10% of pesticides goes onto cotton crops. That’s such a vast amount, when we could cut it out completely if we simply switched to organic cotton.

Well Treated Workers

Organic clothing is not only good for your children and the environment, buying organic also ensures that workers are treated fairly, which unfortunately isn’t often the case with commercial cotton. As there aren’t any chemicals on the cotton, farmers are able to sell it at a higher price, in turn workers are given fair wages and reasonable working hours. So, no one gets exploited anywhere during the process, which is great for the conscience.

Spoilt for Choice

Because an increasing amount of people are embracing the organic way of life, and recognising the benefits, organic clothing is becoming more and more popular.  You certainly don’t have to worry about a lack of options. We used to think organic clothing would have to be quite plain, but actually, there is such a wide variety of products and designs that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Children's Organic Clothing


Frugi is just one popular brand of organic children’s clothing that we sell.  They always ensure that production is ethical throughout their whole process, so you know that you’re getting what you pay for. Their range of clothing is beautifully designed, cute and colourful, so if you haven’t yet, we would recommend having a look and you’ll probably soon be hooked!

Kite is another of the organic clothing brands that we stock.  They are a gorgeous bunch of people, based in Dorset and because all their clothing is made from 100% organic cotton you know what you’re buying is of a very high quality.

We also stock Pigeon organic clothing. They work in partnership with a factory in Nottinghamshire, where they produce a lot of their organic children’s clothing, which is easily identified by the ‘Made in England’ label. It’s great that organic cotton clothing is being made right here in the UK and that British companies are being supported.

You can see the Frugi, Kite and Pigeon products that we stock here, or you can come and have a look in store.

Children's Organic Clothing


So, Is It Really Worthwhile Buying Children’s Organic Clothing?

Generally speaking, the price of organic clothing is higher than that of other clothing. But, not by that much when you consider the huge benefits which we believe makes it worth that little bit extra:

  • Organic clothing is kinder to skin as no chemicals are used to produce the organic cotton, and it is softer than commercial cotton, so the likeliness of irritation to skin is reduced.
  • The workers during all stages of the production process are treated well and given a fair wage.
  • Better for the environment because no harmful chemicals are used in the production.
  • Clothing made from organic cotton lasts much longer than non-organic, so it could actually save you money in the long run as you won’t have to keep replacing clothes, due to them being more robust, and you can pass them down to other family members or friends.


Children's Organic Clothing

Now we’re not suggesting you throw out your child’s whole wardrobe and only buy children’s organic clothing from this point onwards! but maybe try one or two pieces and just see if you can notice the difference? We don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


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What present would you buy for a 4 year old boy?

I love it when my boys come into the shop for a visit.  They are always really enthusiastic and have a good look around to check out anything new and give me their thoughts on what we have on display.  They weren’t impressed with the new Fairy Ballerina’s! So this Saturday on a visit into Worthing I asked them to choose what they did like.

I gave them a challenge ‘Imagine you are buying a present for a 4 year old boy, and tell me what you’d choose’.  Actually they did a great job.  They both agreed (without arguing!) on the same Djeco Wooden Fishing Game, which is one of our best sellers.  They then obviously had to test it out to check out if it really was as much fun as they thought.  It was a winner!

They took the job really seriously and decided that they’d need to choose a Birthday card too.

They then selected one of the Djeco scratch board sets to take home for some serious product testing! Actually these went down really well. Definitely a big success. ”Really easy to scratch and they look really good even when you do the scratching a bit messy.  I really like the gold colour and the T-Rex is awesome.”

Also got them to help out with a bit of pricing – who doesn’t love the pricing gun!

Well done boys, I’m loving having my own in-house team of product developers and testers.


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Warwick Street Opening Party

I can’t believe that we’ve now been open in Warwick Street for just over a month – where has the time gone!

We spent a manic Christmas painting, cleaning and getting the shop ready in Warwick St for the big move from Lindfield.  I’d been there for the last two years and with such lovely people and such a gorgeous village I’m going to miss it, but it feels fantastic to be in Worthing. Continue reading Warwick Street Opening Party