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Handlebar or pencil? Toothbrush or walrus? Imperial or Zapata? There are as many different kinds of moustaches as there are dads – and plenty of fathers who wouldn’t be seen dead with facial hair of any description! However, there is one type that they will be glad to embrace: the Moustache Cookie, especially if you whip him up some for Father’s Day.

Made using delicious chocolate butter cookie dough, these moustaches are designed to be eaten, not laboriously grown, and will disappear faster than a mo after Movember!

To make these cookies we used the Munchstaches cookie cutter and stamper, available from eBay store YO Outlet Store. The kids will have a lot of fun cutting out the cookies from the dough and then stamping them, and we reckon Dads will get a giggle out of them – on Father’s Day or any day of the year.

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Ingredients

250g butter, softened
¾ cup raw caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted
¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup cornflour

Method

1. Using electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, and mix well.

2. Remove the mixing bowl from the electric beater, then add the flour, cocoa and cornflour. Mix together well, then place mixture on a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth dough, adding a little more flour if your dough is too sticky. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 180 C. Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll out to 5mm thick. Use the cookie cutters to cut out moustache shapes from the dough, then place the cookies onto lined baking trays. Use the stamp side of the cookie cutters to stamp the moustache pattern into the corresponding cookie.

4. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown. After a minute, remove the cookies from baking trays to a wire rack to cool.

The Munchstaches cookie cutter set includes 5 different moustache shapes, which makes baking the cookies a lot of fun! This item has been included in Jorth’s Kitchen Wish List eBay Collection. Check it out to see other wonderful items for both your kitchen and your home.

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Colourful, fun, wrapping paper always makes a present look so much better.

When the kids were at kindergarten they would bring home an art gallery worth of paintings and we would recycle them and use them as wrapping paper.

Now, I have rolls of brown paper at home so when I’m in a hurry, I have a few quick things to brighten it up.

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Here are a few things you’ll need:

1. Use paint and the eraser bit of a pencil to stamp a design onto your wrapped gift. Outline your design in pencil first – such as a heart, a circle, a letter, etc – and stamp away.

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2. Use different sized coloured stickers and cover your wrapped gift.

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3. Use confetti and glue to create a fun 3D finish.

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4. If you have magazines or old dictionaries around you no longer need, cut out pages and recycle them into gift wrapping. Use ribbon, twine or jute to make a bow.

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These are just a few quick and easy ideas to dress up any gift.

What is your tip for unique gift wrapping?

You know the feeling – you are running late, and trying to get everybody out the door, but can your keys be found? Not this morning. Argh! The frustration!

But fear not, friends – you’ll never spend time fruitlessly searching for your lost keys again with this effective and hilarious home hack: the DIY Tennis Key Rack. With his cute smile and appetite for keys, you’ll always have a spot to put them and keep them safe. Well, safe as long as he doesn’t gobble them up!

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You’ll need…
Tennis ball
Sharp knife (a Stanley knife is perfect for this job)
Super glue
Stick on googly eyes

Method

1. Using the knife, carefully cut a line along the centre of the tennis ball, measuring 8cm. This line will become the mouth of the tennis ball.

2. Take two googly eyes, and decide where you want to place them above the mouth. Once you are happy with the eye positioning, carefully make the spot the eyes will go with a pen, then superglue each eye on. Allow each eye to dry.

3. Find a useful spot to keep your tennis ball key rack, and affix to the wall. And remember – he’s also good for storing mail to be read, bills to be paid or notices to be signed, always providing service with a smile!

Being bestowed the special task of pulling together a baby shower for a family member or friend can seem a little daunting and frightening at first glance. It needn’t be overwhelming or stressful. The key is to be organised and to keep it simple but nice.

I have had the privilege of throwing a number of baby showers over the past few years and here are a few simple tips I recommend:

1. Be Organised: Do not leave the planning of the event to the last minute. Write yourself a timeline of things you need to complete in the weeks leading up to the day.
2. Type of Shower: I find it easy to pull together a party if I know what type of shower the guest of honour (mum-to-be) has in mind – whether it is a simple morning tea, high tea, mocktail afternoon or a lunch at a local restaurant. Remember it needs to suit the personality of your guest of honour. From this you can expand into what the event will bring and what you will need to further organise.
3. Invitation: You can either make your own or buy a pre-made version. It depends on how crafty you feel and how much time you have up your sleeve. Make sure you give guests plenty of notice when sending out the invitation. A three to four week window is a good time frame so that you have a good turn out on the day.
4. Decorations & Theme: Once you know what type of event you are organising, you can go ahead and start pulling together a theme for the day. The next step is to have fun buying decorations to match. The possibilities are endless. Be sure to check out eBay’s vast collection of baby shower decorations.
5. Gift List: Get your mum-to-be to write a list of things she needs for her baby or nursery to help give guests an idea of what gift to buy.
6. Games: Some people love playing games at baby showers, but others may not enjoy them so much. I would check with your guest of honour as to what she thinks in regards to having games at the event.
7. Food: This is probably one of the most important aspects of throwing a shower. Make sure you have the mum-to-be in mind when planning the food and again keep it simple but nice. Be sure to also take note of any guest’s intolerances or allergies when planning the menu. Favourites like sausage rolls, mini quiches, small salad wraps, dips, pikelets or scones and fruit platters are always a hit. Keep in mind to have a balance of hot and cold foods and healthy and naughty.
8. Guest Favours: While this is not a pre-requisite for every baby shower, I find most guests love taking away a little memento of the day. These little Baby Chino cupcakes would make the perfect gift for your guests to take home.

You can check out my Baby Shower eBay Collection for my top picks.

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I created these delicious Baby Chino cupcakes with a baby shower specifically in mind. However, they would also suit any occasion. The gorgeous silicone teacup and saucer mould is oh-so-sweet and would make a great display on a morning or afternoon tea table or be used as a favour for guests to take home.

Simply box the cupcakes up and have them ready for guests to take them on their way out the door. After the guests have eaten the cake the mould can be re-used. The cute baby cupcake topper is not only a cupcake decoration but also is a fork/spoon to be used to eat the cupcake.  They come in a pack of four colours – pink, blue, yellow and green – which would suit any type or theme of baby shower.

This cupcake is a decadent and fudgy mudcake with a hint of coffee, topped with a delicious vanilla buttercream icing. It is now my favourite go to chocolate cake recipe! The great thing about these cupcakes is they are dairy, gluten and nut free which makes it safe for guests with allergies. However, after one bite you wouldn’t know they are allergy friendly! Oh so divine!

These cupcakes can be baked and iced the day before. They keep well in an air tight container in the fridge. 

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Baby Chino Cupcakes 

Difficulty: Easy
Makes: 6-8 cupcakes
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake:
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup coconut flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
½ cup castor sugar
2-3 teaspoon instant coffee (depending on how strong you want the coffee flavour)
¼ cup hot water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
400ml tin coconut milk

Vanilla Buttercream
150g dairy free margarine (or butter if allergies are not a problem)
1 cup pure icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Cocoa powder to garnish

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Method

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius (fan bake). Place the silicone teacup moulds* onto a small cookie tray.
2. In a large mixing bowl sift the cocoa, coconut flour, baking powder and salt together. Add in the sugar.
3. In a small cup mix together the instant coffee and hot water and dissolve completely. Pour into the mixing bowl.
4. Add in the lightly beaten eggs, vanilla essence and coconut milk into the dry ingredients and stir together to combine.
5. Spoon the mixture into the teacup moulds leaving about a 1 cm gap from the top.
6. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before icing.
7. Vanilla Buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer place the butter and vanilla essence. Sift in the icing sugar to remove any lumps. Beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and creamy.
8. Ice the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream icing and finish off a light sifting of cocoa powder on top to create the ‘cappuccino’ look. Finish with the baby cupcake topper. 

Cook’s Notes:

Do not place the saucer part of the set into the oven as it is not oven safe

Father’s Day is one of those times where the kids try to get creative with their gift.

Kids are always happy to draw something or paint something for Daddy and I think he prefers that.

This year the kids and I headed to the park with a chalkboard and camera and got some photos to add to a frame. We used a set of three clean white frames from eBay.

Now, you have to remember that the younger the child, the less cooperative they will be.

To make life easier, we left the chalkboard blank and added the words in later using Photoshop or a free online photo editor like iPiccy.  The heart was drawn with chalk and used for the last photos.

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Here are a few tips:

  • Use the exact same spot for all the photos.
  • Make sure everything is set to go as kids tire easily and start to make faces.
  • Shoot one child at a time and give them directions or show them what to do.
  • If they start making faces, ask them to take a deep breath and close their eyes. Ask them to open their eyes and quickly start shooting.
  • Take as many photos as you can.
  • When taking photos of babies, be really fast and have someone else there to help with placement.
  • Hold a small toy on top of the camera lens so it grabs the child’s attention.
  • Have snacks!
  • Sometimes the funny, unpredictable photos are the cutest.
  • Have fun, it’s all about making something with love!

You could also make a small photo book with the photos you take on the day, some will be very funny.

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Kids love toys, and so do their parents… well mostly.

Toys are a great way to encourage play and support development, but sometimes the huge range of toys can be a bit overwhelming, not to mention expensive.

If you are like me and trying not to let your house fill up with more and more toys, or waste money on the wrong toys, you might be picky about the kinds of toys you buy for your kids. I don’t want my kids to have piles of toys they never play with. I want them to have a good range of toys that are good quality, that support their learning, and that last through the years.

Here are some of the things I consider before buying toys for my kids.

1. Is the toy safe?

Safety is the first consideration when it comes to anything my kids will play with. I want to make sure my kids’ toys are safe, and stay that way.

The first thing I look for is whether the toy meets the Australian Standard AS/NZ ISO 8124 – usually it is written on the packaging.

While I am looking at the labels, I also look at the suggested age range for the toy and whether it poses a hazard for younger kids. Even if I am buying it for one of my older children I need to make sure it is also safe for my smallest child or that we can store it and use it in a way that will keep my small one safe.

Make sure toys for under threes, or children who still put things in their mouths, are larger than a 20 cent piece. Make sure toys are non-toxic, and that they don’t have any other hazards such as sharp corners, long strings or easy to access batteries.

Keep an eye on your toys as they get older and throw away or repair any that may have broken or have parts that have come loose or worn out and are now dangerous.

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2. Is the toy appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development?

My children range in age from three to ten, so I am often on the lookout for toys that are appropriate for a particular child’s age or stage of development.

Most toys have an age recommendation printed on the packaging, but you know your children better than any toy manufacturer, think about what development stage they are at, what they are into right now, as well as how old they are.

Is your child ready to use the toy? Will they be frustrated by it because it is too hard? Or toss it aside because it is too easy? Is it safe for the age and stage they are at? Is it something they are interested in?

Really great toys grow with your child, so look for items that your child could play with now, perhaps with a little adult support, and then do on their own as they get older.

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3. Is the toy open-ended?

‘Open-ended’ is just a fancy way of saying that a toy or item can be used in more than one way.

While there is certainly a place for toys with a set goal and outcome, such as puzzles and board games, toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Consider if they can promote learning in all areas, can be enjoyed by a variety of age groups and in turn offer better value for money.

Think about toys such as blocks or construction sets that can be built into anything your child can image. Or imaginative play toys such as dress-ups, a tea set, wooden food, cars, or plastic animals, all these toys can be used in a number of different ways by a range of ages.

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4. Do the toys you have encourage a wide variety of activities?

When I am looking for new toys for my kids I like to look at what we already have and see if there are any ‘gaps’. I want my kids to have a range of toys that encourage them to engage in a wide variety of activities and develop and practice a wide range of skills.

I try to make sure that we have creative toys, toys for imaginative play, toys to build maths and language skills, toys to encourage the kids to get outside, sensory play toys and more.

Good toys do not have to be expensive, they may not be the most popular item in the shop, and you don’t need a whole house full of them for your kids to learn, grow and thrive. If you take some time to make thoughtful toy choices you might find you need a lot less of them and they get played with a lot more.

My kids have helped me create an eBay collection that includes some of our favourite toys and a couple that are on our wish list, perhaps Santa might be bringing some of them this Christmas!

What is your child’s favourite toy? What’s yours?