Friday, 31 January 2014

Valentine Bento Lunchbox Goodies Giveaway

The nice folks over at Unique Home Living challenged me to come up with a Valentine themed lunchbox for my daughter, and you know me, we love our themed lunches!  Our school breaks up for half term on Valentine's Day so this will be a nice end of term treat for Ruby.

I got cracking with the heart shaped muffin pan they sent and made these Strawberry Sweethearts - the recipe is on the packaging but it's a basic cupcake recipe using vegetable oil instead of butter, and adding some strawberry pulp and red colouring.

I decorated them with white chocolate hearts and fruit jelly hearts and gave them a spritz of silver shimmer spray to glam them up.  The shaped pan gives a lovely 3D design to the cakes although I will admit there were a few casualties getting them out.  Next time I'll use more non-stick baking spray.

We also have a heart-shaped hard boiled egg made with this clever mould.  It's very simple to do.  Hard boil your egg by adding to a pan of cold water, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Plunge into cold water for a few minutes then peel off the shell.  Pop it into the mould and I leave mine overnight in the fridge before removing from the mould and adding to the lunchbox.  It's a really fun way to liven up food.

I've added a 'queen of hearts' jam sandwich made using heart shaped cookie cutters.  I use cutters a lot for making different shaped sandwiches and flatbreads.

I've also included a small waxed cheese with a little cut-out heart; some strawberries which are naturally heart-shaped if you hull them and cut them in half or into slices; some fruit jelly hearts and a smoothie bottle which I've re-labelled as 'love potion' (feel free to download and print my label).

Valentine's Drink Label Love Potion Free Printable

If you'd like to have a go at your own heart themed lunchbox, either for your child or your partner then you can win an egg mould and a set of cookie cutters here courtesy of Unique Home Living.


Just complete the rafflecopter below to be in with a chance.  The giveaway ends at 12:00 on Thursday 6th February 2014.  Open to UK entrants only.  One winner will be chosen at random and will receive both products.

Please leave a blog comment - visit the website and tell me what your favourite item is on the Unique Home Living site.  You must complete the rafflecopter for your entry to be included.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: In association with Unique Home Living.  Prize will be fulfilled by their agent.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Muddy Puddles

Well, that might not be strictly true, but with all this wet weather we've been having lately the only way to deal with it seems to be to embrace it.  Splash in life's puddles.  Catch rain drops on your tongue.  Admire the rainbows...

This weekend we headed off as a family for a walk in the forest.  It was absolutely bucketing it down, the entire time.  But as long as you're warm and dry there's no reason why you can't get out there and have fun. Especially if there's the promise of a hot mug of cocoa at the end of it!

Kids can get kitted out in funky wellies like these clever ones from Muddy Puddles which have tie up tops to stop splashes creeping in and extra warm fleecy inside layers to keep toes toasty.

Or maybe one of their bold patterns to brighten up a dull day?

Do check out their ski and snow wear too - we may not have seen any of the white stuff here yet but rumour has it it's headed our way, and anyway even without snow, a ski suit is perfect for keeping little ones warm and dry. They have a great selection of base layers; hats; walking boots and salopettes, and are also offering £5 off your first order when you sign up to their newsletter.

Half term is coming fast so now's the time to prepare. Don't be a slave to the weather, get kitted out and get out there!  Just don't forget the flask of hot chocolate!

Featured post:  This post is in association with Muddy Puddles

Monday, 27 January 2014

Magpie Monday - Childhood past

This week I picked up a couple of fabulous children's books in a junk shop.  Normally these sort of books have been filtered out from the usual bookshelves to have a hefty price tag attached, but these were languishing amongst the pile of Mills and Boon and Reader's Digest and I got them for 50p each.

'Rare yarns for boys'.  Brilliant!  Would kids even know what the expression 'yarn' as in 'tale' means nowadays?

These are swashbuckling, rip-roaring tales of heroic deeds and action-packed adventures.  Back when men grew humongous beards and smoked pipes.  Not anymore - fire-safety issue you see.

Smoking a pipe as a fully grown man was acceptable, but according to the cautionary picture inside, puffing a cigar if you were a small schoolboy was not.  It resulted in a heavy thwacking.  Which kinda surprises me, I thought every young boy smoked in the 1930's?

Maybe this was ahead if it's time.

Or maybe not.  I've not read the story yet.  Back then he could just have easily deserved corporal punishment for abandoning his books on the floor.  Or having his hands in his pockets.  I guess I'll have to read it and find out.  I'm intrigued now!

What second--hand gems have you found lately?  Grab the badge and link up.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Food to celebrate Chinese New Year

I may not have an oriental bone in my body, but that doesn't stop me celebrating Chinese New Year!

We always try to do something special - make some decorations; have Chinese food, crack open some fortune cookies...

Some of my favourite bloggers have shared some fabulous recipe ideas such as:

Chinese Style Braised Orange Duck Legs from More than Toast.

Caramelised Chinese Pork Stir Fry from Mummy Alarm.

Salmon, Mushroom and Pak Choi by Kids Chaos.

Cashew Chicken by I'm Counting UFOs

How to make Tofu by Life is Delicious.

Simple Chicken Chop Suey by Domestic Goddesque.

To help you prepare your food in style, Tesco have a range of items from woks to bamboo steamers, and of course all the ingredients you'll need to whip up a tasty stir fry.

A wok is a really worthwhile investment if you don't have one.  It really is the best way to cook noodles or oriental style vegetables.  Look after it well and it will last you for years.

So whatever you decide to make, I wish you good fortune for the year of the horse.

Disclosure: Tesco kindly sent me a new wok.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

10 things to do with a banana!

Bananas are the nation's favourite fruit - we eat over 5 billion of them in the UK each year - but here are 10 more things (other than eating them in the conventional way) that they are also great for.

Oi filthmonger, not that!

1.Shine shoes

Banana skins are excellent at polishing leather shoes.  Simply rub the inside of the skin over your shoes then buff up with a soft cloth.

2. Ripen other fruit

Although scientists may still be arguing about it, there's no doubt to me that placing a bunch of bananas in a bowl with other fruits will cause them to ripen faster.  the ethylene they produce will cause other fruit in it's vicinity to ripen quicker, so you can use it to your advantage if you have under-ripe fruit.

3. Low-fat healthy ice cream

Simply peel and freeze a banana then whizz up in a blender for a delicious, creamy 'ice cream' without the need for any added milk, sugar or in fact anything.  This is the best one-ingredient-recipe I know. Try it, you'll be amazed at how good it tastes.

4. Face mask

Bananas are great for dry, itchy skin, acne, ageing skin - in fact any skin. For an all natural treat for your fizzog, mash up one banana, smooth onto your face and neck and leave for 15 mins.  Rinse off with water and pat dry.

5. Clean houseplants

Don't waste your time pushing dust around with a duster on your cheese plant. Houseplants will love you if you rub the inside of a banana peel over them, giving them a good clean and leaving them with a silky shine.

6. Polish your silver

Save buying expensive silver polish for your family heirlooms and simply blend some banana skins with a little water into a paste.  Work onto your silverwear, rub gently with a soft cloth, rinse and dry.

7. Great for your garden

The skins repel aphids so bury a few around your plants to keep them bug free. As an added bonus, your roses will feast on the potassium and reward you with healthy flowers.

8. Help you quit smoking

Vitamins B6 and B12 along with magnesium and Potassium in bananas help the body overcome nicotine addiction, so next time you're reaching for a fag, have a banana instead.

9. Insect bites

Relieve itchy bites and swelling caused by insect bites reduced by rubbing the inside of a banana skin on the affected area. (health warning - I'm not a doctor, but I hear this is supposed to help.  Try this one at your own risk!)

10.Sleep aid 

Bananas not only contain large amounts of tryptophan (the amino-acid that is necessary for the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone) and serotonin. They also have very high carbohydrate content that that helps the brain to use tryptophan and serotonin to produce the sleep hormone. So, eating banana few hours before you go to bed will help you drift off to bye-byes.

Fairtrade Fortnight starts on 24th February, and the world's banana producers need your help.

In the last 10 years, the UK supermarkets have almost halved the shelf price of loose bananas,  Meanwhile, the cost of producing them has doubled, trapping many of the farmers who grow them in a cycle of poverty.

Does that sound fair to you?

Fairtrade provides a vital safety net for banana farmers and workers, by paying a minimum price that aims to cover the costs of sustainable production, and an additional premium that farmers can use to invest in community projects or to improve their business.  This empowers producers to take control of their lives and provide their families with the  basics such as education and healthcare.

For more information, check out the Fairtrade Fortnight website.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Rainbow bead jar

A nice easy candy-free make for a gift, party favour or St Patrick's Day celebration.

This necklace in a jar contains a hidden compartment meaning you can layer your beads in a rainbow pattern, yet still include the thread/elastic etc required for the kit.  I've included some 'gold' lucky charms too.

Rainbow bead jar

You will need:

A lidded jar (old jam jar is fine, but any with a non-transparent lid)
Coloured beads
Cardboard tube as tall as your jar (kitchen roll, or wrapping paper tube, or a toilet roll tube if your jar is small)
Necklace making supplies or elastic

I saw this idea quite a bit on Pinterest before Christmas as a way of hiding gift money inside jars of candy, but I thought it would work well with this project too.

Place your tube inside the jar, making sure you have enough space around the sides to drop in your beads. Mark it level with the rim of your jar then cut it slightly below this line so your lid will screw on tightly over it.

Glue into place at the bottom of the jar to prevent it from moving around.

This tube now serves two purposes - it means you can hide bits inside AND you don't have to use anyway near as many beads to fill the jar - win:win!

Drop your beads in carefully, one colour at a time in the rainbow order.  You can give a gentle tap to get them even, but don't shake!  Keep layering until you have filled your jar.

Tip: If you accidentally drop beads inside your tube, you can retrieve them by using a piece of Blu-Tak on the end of a pencil, or use the hoover nozzle with a sock over the end!  That way you don't have to tip them all out and start again.

Secret Compartment Bead Jar

Pop your bead wire or elastic and the secret gold charms inside, pop on the lid and your done!

This craft was featured on a Google Plus hangout on Rainbow Crafts.  Please watch the video for loads more brilliant ideas and inspiration, and check out the blog links below.

Red Ted Art: Waldorf Maths Gnomes, Rainbow Fairy Peg Dolls, Rainbow Pinata Cake 
Kids Chaos: Origami Cranes, Rainbow Paper Bunting, Paper Hearts
Zing Zing Tree: Paper Plate Collage, Drip Paint Art Rainbows, Needle Felt Rainbow
Domestic Goddesque: Rainbow themed party ideas, pompom initial letter ornament, rainbow crown
Me: Rainbow Peanut Butter Chocolate Bark, Rainbow Fruit Skewers, Rainbow buckets

Homemade Thursday

Monday, 20 January 2014

Peanut butter chocolate bark

Reese's inspired peanut butter chocolate bark

I'm a huge lover of Reese's Pieces but they are quite hard to come by over here in the UK (unless you're prepared to pay an arm and a leg for them) so this recipe is my DIY fix.

Chocolate bark is the in thing right now and it's so easy to make.  I had a funny conversation with my daughter who asked what I was making -

Me: "I'm making chocolate bark".

Her: "Why's it called 'bark' Mummy?"

Me: "I don't know."

Her: "Perhaps it's because it's brown like the bark on a tree."

Me: "Oh maybe."

Her: "Ooooor, because it's brown like our dog and she barks."

She cracks me up.  Anyway, on to the super simple recipe for this moreish delight.


  • 300g dark chocolate broken into chunks
  • 200g smooth peanut butter
  • Handful of chocolate beans
First line choose a flat baking tray with edges (a swiss roll tin), line with greaseproof paper making crisp folds at the edges and corners.

Melt half the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water being careful not to get any water in contact with the chocolate.  When completely melted, pour into the tray and tip it so it runs to all four edges.

Leave to cool.

When the chocolate has gone hard, take the peanut butter and briefly heat it in the microwave to make it easier to spread (no more than 30 seconds should do it).  Spread over the chocolate, working quickly so the peanut butter doesn't start to melt the chocolate underneath it.

Pop it in the fridge to cool and harden for about an hour.

Melt your remaining chocolate same as before and pour over.  Depending on the finish you want, you might want to drag it with a palette knife, or tip it so you get a smooth finish.  You can pop any air bubbles with a cocktail stick.

Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, but before it's fully set sprinkle your rainbow coloured chocolate beans on to decorate.

Once set, pop it in the fridge to harden before breaking or cutting into shards. Tip: you can tidy up any messy edges with a knife warmed in hot water or over the gas ring briefly for a neater edge.

Peanut butter chocolate bark

Do I need to put a health warning in this?  Do I really?  OK, obviously it's not suitable for those with a peanut allergy.  Or indeed for those with no self-restraint.

Homemade Thursday

Magpie Monday - Top that!

Morning Magpies.

Well, I've had a super busy week and a chocka weekend. I spent Saturday at a Food Smoking course which was fantastic - more on that to follow.  The week was rammed too but I had to go to town for some craft supplies so I managed a flying visit to a charity shop.

My purchase wasn't huge, it set me back the princely sum of £1 in total, but I'm really glad to have found these.

They're re-usable cake toppers in all sorts of different characters.

Regular readers will know that I try to make themed lunchboxes for Ruby each day.  She loves the surprise of opening her box and seeing what the topic is and it's also encouraging her to try new foods.

I'm not impressed by the blatant gender stereotyping going on with these cake people. There's clearly a 'boy' set with macho pursuits like football, surfing and occupations like firefighter and doctor versus the 'girl' set where they adopt the feminine pursuits of ballerina; nurse and princess.  So of course, for 50p a set I bought both - she'd love a cowboy theme just as much as a princess one so there!

It's not difficult to make themed bento lunchboxes, and charity shops are great sources of cheap props like shaped cookie cutters for sandwiches, silicone moulds for serving small portions of fruit and veg and different shaped tubs and containers.

I make up a small batch of plain or fruit fairy cakes on a Sunday evening and then make up a tiny mount of icing in a saucer each day and add a themed topper or sprinkles.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page and you might see these appearing in a lunchbox soon!

What thrifty second-hand finds have you managed lately? I'd love you to grab the badge and link up.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The easiest money-saving trick ever!

I must confess to being a little nervous of writing this down.  It's not rocket-science, in fact it's probably the simplest thing you can do, but it really has made SUCH a huge difference to me that I had to share.

It occurred to me like a blinding light one night as I was glooping loads of cleanser onto a cotton wool ball, followed by drowning another cotton wool ball in toner so I could clean of the load of foundation I'd previously slathered on that morning.

I was literally throwing money away!  

Did you know that us Brits spend £14 million on toiletries each year? That's phenomenal!  But what if you could halve your cosmetic and toiletries bill? That would save you spondoolies right?  And then do the same with your household cleaning products?  And all sorts of other areas of spending.  That would be ace right?

The answer was glaringly simple.  I need to USE LESS!

Now, wait.  Before you click away thinking that's the most banal thing ever written, that's like saying 'how to save money: don't spend it', hear me out.

Take a look around your home right now.  How many products do you have? Bathroom cabinets stuffed with make-up; perfume; gels; spray and lotions. Kitchen cupboards with cleaning potions and laundry detergents...

Only the most committed eco-warriors will have the fortitude to give up products completely (yes, I'm looking at you Lucy with your awe-inspiring giving up shampoo shenanigans. By the way, do check out her amazing new thrift blog Wonderthrift).  

No, most of us still use lots of products in our daily life.  But how much do you really need to get the job done?

I was a serial dolloper.  A habitual ladler.  Pouring out products with gay abandon. I'm betting many of you do too.

I made the conscious decision the next morning to be more mindful about my usage, and poured out only half my usual amount of shampoo.  Then I squirted out half my usual helping of shower gel.  And guess what? The world didn't stop turning.  I came out clean and fresh, but with half the gloop used.  In fact, if anything my hair felt better.  Using too much can be counter-productive anyway.  We've all heard the expression 'product build-up'.  And what's the industry's answer to this?  Another product to clear it of course!

Most lotions and potions don't come with a dosage dispenser to show us how much to use.  Of course, if they did we'd all be screaming 'nanny state'.  But the reality is, brands want us to ladle this stuff out.  Of course they do, because we'll go back and buy more, quicker.

Modern beauty and cleaning products are incredibly effective, and you'll be surprised at how little you need to get the job done.

So, I carried this careful usage on with other things too.  Kid's toothpastes are marked 'use a pea-size amount', but it doesn't say that on adults so we (well I) tend to squeeze out a whole toothbrush length.  Our daily routines have become just that - a habit, almost a ritual - do I really need a squirt of perfume behind each ear, and one on my wrist for luck?

I guess you would call this mindfulness.  Changing my mind-set has really drastically reduced the volume of product I consume.  It just takes a little while to think about it consciously, and then you form a new, less wasteful habit and reduce the amount of money you're throwing down the drain.

Now, I'm not suggesting you adopt the old skool dad routine and stand outside the bathroom door bellowing "3 sheets is enough" to curb your household toilet roll expenditure - although the way kids use fistfuls of the stuff with every visit, that's perhaps not a bad idea!

But how great would it be not to have the cost of loads of bottles; jars and sprays in your trolley every week? Better still, you could do as Being Mrs C does and make sure you've used up all those unloved bottles languishing in the cupboard before rushing out to buy new ones. If you can just switch your mind-set and be more conscious and present, you can adopt it in all sorts of areas and save yourself loads of money.


Shampoo - Conditioner - Shower Gel - Bubble Bath - Talk - Moisturiser - Body Lotion - Toothpaste - Make-up - Make-up Remover - Hair Styling


Washing-up Liquid - Laundry Detergent - Surface Cleaner - Floor Cleaner - Bleach


Olive Oil - Butter - Condiments and Sauces - Kitchen Roll - Foil and Cling Film

So why not try it today?  Use half what you would normally.  I bet you won't notice the difference, but your purse will.  And the planet will thank you for it.

Other posts you might like:

Extreme Couponing and Mindful Shopping

30 Ways to Save £1

100 Easy Ways to Be a Thrifty Family Book Review

Monday, 13 January 2014

Magpie Monday - Happy Thrifty New Year

Hello fellow thrifters, it's been a while!  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays.

Apologies for my absence, I'd hoped to be back with Magpie Monday last week but hadn't factored in the sneaky teacher training day so Ruby didn't in fact go back to school until last Tuesday.  Today she is actually off sick, which means blogging is tricky, so I'll write a brief post for you to link up to and hope that in between hot chocolate making duties; plumping of pillows and passing of remote controls I can come back and edit it!

She got some Christmas money and was keen to spend it over the holidays - it was burning a hole in her pocket.  However, it seems I taught her well and she wanted to head out to check out the charity shops.

It was great to let her manage her own money, working out what she could afford, whether something was worth the price asked and how much she'd be left with.

She chose well and frugally, and spent just £5 for which she is now the proud owner of 2 Barbie dolls, another Action Man and 3 Roald Dahl books.

She's been devouring Dahl books at bedtime and I recently bought her Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; The Twits and Matilda.  I bought them from a 'proper shop' and they were £6.99 each so I was really impressed she managed to add The BFG; Danny Champion of the World and The Magic Finger to her collection for just 50p each.

Compare this to her trip the following day where she blew the remaining £25 on a couple of Moshi Monsters and some Sylvanian Family figures, and I think she's starting to appreciate the benefits of pre-loved!

What have you managed to find second-hand lately?  Got any New Year bargains?  Have you made and resolutions to shop differently this year?  I'd love you to grab the badge and link up.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Some things should be done in private - the dreaded threading

Recently a friend on Facebook commented on what nicely groomed eyebrows I had. After I'd wiped the spat coffee from my screen, I replied that she must have only ever met me in person the day after a mammoth threading session.

In the same way you'd refer to a howling newborn's lung function, it's fair to say I have a healthy pair of eyebrows.  If your eyes are indeed the windows to your soul, then my eyebrows must certainly be a pair of thick, well insulated, full length velour curtains. They've languished on my forehead, pretty much untouched for most of my life, and I've taken only the occasional stab at them with a pair of tweezers.  I spent my early adulthood in fear I might end up one of those women who over pluck and end up with a nude face, only to have to draw them back on with a pencil - what the hell is the point in that?

Image Credit

My first experience with threading was only a couple of years ago.  I was at an event, and it was being offered free of charge. God I'm such a sucker for a freebie.

First up, there's the assumption from the beautician that you'll know what to do.  You'll somehow instinctively know how to lie back in the chair, contort your body into a ridiculous pose, somehow both stretching your forehead and pulling down your eyelid at the same time, whilst your deodorant works overdrive trying to conceal your nervous perspiration in your exposed armpit. One look at my bad boys and she must have surely realised that this wasn't my natural habitat.

So she surveys the enormity of the task.  "Hmmm," she muses "your eyebrows don't match".

"Umm yeah" I shuffle uncomfortably on the chair "I was kinda hoping you could, you know - even them out a bit?" as I cringe with embarrassment, every inch of me silently screaming "I KNOW - WHY THE HELL DO YOU THINK I'M SITTING HERE?"

"Just relax" she coaxes as I'm laid out for all the world to see.  Now where have I heard that before?  Oh yeah, it's a favourite line of smear test nurses.

Ultimately, the whole affair wasn't too bad, and didn't hurt anyway near as bad as I'd been expecting.  I thought I was kind of converted to this threading lark.

Since then, the trend of threading bars has been popping up all over.  It's even reached my provincial little neck of the woods with one-woman bands setting up shop with their converted dentist chairs in department stores and shopping centres all over the place.

I'm really not sure how I feel about this. Since when did it become ok to carry out your beauty regimes so overtly?  Being pulled and plucked in broad daylight, whilst throngs of shoppers mill around you looking for new bathroom towels is a tad humiliating isn't it?  I mean, you might as well walk through the mall with a big "I'm hairy and I know it" sandwich board on.

And somehow, these threaders seem to have abandoned all sense of social decorum and boundaries.  On one occasion, while she was taming my brows, one said to me "would you like me to carry on up and do your forehead?"  I mean what??!  What the hell's wrong with my forehead?  As if I don't have enough body hang ups already. Then she offers "what about your upper lip?".  Seriously, do one!  When did it become socially acceptable to tell a complete stranger she has a tash?

The withering looks the immaculately made up white-coated Clarins ladies throw you.  The walk of shame past the orange-faced army of cosmetic counter staff, while your eyes are still streaming; you look like a freshly plucked chicken; and you try to discretely brush away the caterpillar hairs that are now sat upon your cheeks.

And now they are setting up in shopping malls and public spaces - I've even seen them outdoors.  What's next - a quick pluck at the post office? And where will this trend for public grooming end?  Spray tans at the car wash? Bikini waxes in Debenhams? Imagine the walk of shame after that.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Chinese New Year Craft - Junk Modelling Firecracker Decoration

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you enjoyed the holidays, I certainly enjoyed my break from the internet, but now I'm back and raring to go!

We made the most of the last days of the school holidays with a little crafting, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.  We always mark this occasion either with a simple Chinese meal at home and fortune cookies, or sometimes we head up to London and visit China Town for the spectacular parades.

Firecrackers are a big part of the celebration tradition now, so we had a go at making our own child-friendly version, to act as a decoration in the home.

Homemade Chinese Firecracker decoration

If you've been indulging like me over Christmas, you should have the bits you need in your junk modelling sack!  A shaped box such as this hexagonal Turkish Delight carton is perfect, and of course I always have lots of corks.  I love crafting with corks (any excuse to open a bottle of wine) - check out the fairy toadstools and cork critters I made last year.

You'll also need some paint, some skewers and a large needle.

Begin by pushing your corks onto a wooden skewer.  This makes painting them less messy and will also create a hole through the middle that you'll need for threading later.

We gave our corks a couple of coats of red acrylic paint and then when dry added some gold detail. Stand your skewered corks in a tall glass or vase to dry.

Either paint over the branding on your box then paint on your message in Chinese symbols, or print it out onto red paper and cut to fit before glueing over the branding.

Next, thread a length of wool through the centre of each cork, securing it one end with a knot.  Thread another long length of wool through two sides of the box creating a hanging loop at the top and leaving a length of yarn hanging at the bottom.

Tie on your corks individually to the tail thread, snipping off loose ends as you go.  Finally, make a simple wool tassel to finish it off.

Chinese New Year Fire Cracker

For more Chinese New Year crafts you might like my Chinese Lantern using a paper shade or some of these great craft ideas from fellow bloggers:

Kids Chaos has made this brilliant dragon shadow puppet.
Domestic Goddesque is celebrating the year of the horse with these fab candy cane horses - use up your Christmas leftovers!
Peakle Pie has a wonderful paper plate dragon and some fan decorations.
Makie Do is making a puppet theatre - if only her daughter can get over her fear of dragons!
Family Days, Tried and tested has tonnes of ideas for a Chinese themed day.
Jennifer's Little World has adorable loo roll dragon puppets.
The Gingerbread House has some Chinese New Year tea light holders.
Red Ted Art has a whole round-up of activities!
Crystal's Tiny Treasures has these lovely chopstick holders.
Pink Oddy has this super-cute loo roll horse.
Hodge Podge Craft has this amazing dancing dragon.

Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year this year?  It's the year of the horse - but what's the year were you born?  I'm a tiger "roar" (Katie Perry Stylee).