Top Tips

3 arty ideas for the school holidays

Rainy days are an inevitable part of the school holidays and finding new ideas for things to do can tricky.

Give one or two of these little arty ideas a try, creative children will love them!


Go dotty!

Go dotty over wildflowers

Inspired by a gorgeous wildflower meadow we saw on a recent trip to the Peak District, we loved creating these dotty pictures so much that we made lots, mounted them and made them into thank you cards.

  • Good quality paper
  • Pencil
  • Felt tip pens
  • Coloured card (optional)

1 In pencil, sketch a couple of lines across the paper to represent a field and hillside.

2 Using paler colours first fill in the ‘fields’ with lots of coloured dots to represent wild flowers and grasses.

3 Add a tree trunk and dotty leaves.

4 Mount onto coloured card, if you like.


Beady Napkins

Beady napkin rings

Making your own café can be great fun. Make (or bake) your favourite lunch, lay the table and add your homemade napkin ring to a paper napkin.

  • Craft wire or fine elastic
  • Selection of beads and charms
  • Paper napkins

1 Thread beads (and a charm or two if you like) onto craft wire or elastic.

2 Tie a knot in the elastic or twist the craft wire together.

3 Place on a napkin.


 Chocolate Lolipos

In your café you could offer one or two of these chocolate lollipops – they’re great fun to make.

Sheepish Chocolate Lolipops

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 231 per portion
Fat 12g (7.4g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • White chocolate 200g bar, chopped
  • Lollipop sticks 8
  • Giant chocolate buttons 10-11
  • White mini marshmallows 50g (2oz)
  • Black and pink gel food colour to decorate


  1. 1 Using the base of a mug, draw eight circles on a sheet of baking paper. Turn over paper and weight each corner.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.
  3. Spoon chocolate onto drawn circles. Place a lollipop stick onto each, turning once to coat. Place a button onto each circle near stick and snip remaining buttons into ear shapes and place one on each side of each button. Snip marshmallows in half with scissors and gently push into chocolate in concentric circles. Use gel to create eyes and mouth. Leave to set.


Have fun!





5 Positive Things to Do

Positive Thinking

I’m not sure if positive thinking is a learned behaviour…

or if it’s within our genetic make-up, maybe a bit of both. I’m lucky (I think) to be a natural optimist, but my parents did teach me to notice and focus on the beauty around me – from a stunning rainbow to a simple pattern of raindrops on a window pane, and I think that this appreciation of small things makes me more prone to positivity.

It does us all good to step back once in a while and have a think. An article on positive thinking in this year’s Dairy Diary says this:

‘A step towards positive thinking is to take time to appreciate life in general, and your own life in particular. Remember to stop and smell the roses – that may be a well-worn notion but it works.

‘Some people call it living in the moment, becoming aware of everything around you – sights, smells, sounds, tastes, your feelings, yourself. Focus on things as they are at that moment, accept them without judgement, and you will start to see things you have taken for granted in a new light.’


Here are 5 things that we can all do this week to help us feel more positive.

  1. Pay someone a compliment; if you think notice someone wearing a pretty dress, doing a good job or being kind, tell them, even if it’s a stranger. It will make them feel good and you feel good too.

  2. Look for beauty in nature; from the dew on a flower to an early misty morning or even birdsong, there’s always something you can find, notice and appreciate.

  3. Find somewhere quiet and concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes. Breathe in slowly, hold for a count of six, breathe out slowly. Feel the sensation of breathing.

  4. Sometimes we so used to being surrounded by negativity that we hardly notice it. Take a few days break from TV; the news, documentaries or even soaps can make us feel very downcast. Listen to some music that you love instead.

  5. Do a little good turn. Something simple like baking a cake for a friend or a neighbour. Why not try the Dairy Diary recipe below. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Raspberry & Macadamia Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 368 per portion
Fat 25g (11g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Macadamia nuts 125g (4½oz)
  • Light brown sugar 50g (2oz)
  • Caster sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Unsalted butter 175g (6oz), softened
  • Eggs 2
  • Almond extract a few drops
  • Self-raising flour 150g (5oz), sifted
  • Raspberries 200g (7oz)
  • Milk 2 tbsp
  • Demerara sugar 1 heaped tbsp


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.
  2. Whizz macadamia nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
  3. Beat together brown sugar, caster sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in eggs and almond extract then fold in flour and nuts. When combined, gently fold in raspberries and milk.
  4. Pour cake mixture into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes (you may need to cover with foil). Remove from oven, scatter with demerara sugar and return to oven for 5 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tin.


A Dairy Diary recipe.





How to make a difference and clear your clutter

Clear Your Clutter Day

10 top tips for clearing clutter

I am a serial declutterer. Whilst I am not a minimalist fan (I love to be surrounded by things that evoke memories), I do feel happier and calmer in a tidy home.

As well as enjoying tidiness, I get a warm fuzzy feeling from the email I get from Barnardo’s, which tells me how much my unwanted goods have sold for. As I have a gift aid number with the charity, it’s linked to my email address, and any goods sold are totted up and reported back to me.

Seeing the pounds rack up gives a real sense of making a difference.

Clear Your Clutter Day is a great
opportunity to have a good sort

out and donate your stuff to charity.

Here are a few tips:

1 Hang a reusable shopping bag in a cupboard or on a hook, so you have a constant receptacle for unwanted items.

2 Read about your chosen charity online. Their good work will inspire you to declutter and donate.

3 Have you worn something that you felt didn’t really suit you? Pop it in the wash, then into the charity bag.

4 Once you’ve read a novel, donate it. How often do you ever read a book twice?

5 Apart from ‘occasion’ clothes, if there’s something you haven’t worn for 6 months, give it away.

6 Just tackle one ‘area’ at a time. Choose a cupboard/wardrobe etc. and spend half an hour sorting through it. Empty out the ‘area’ and think about if you when you last used each item or if you really love it. Ditch unused or unloved things.

7 Buy an inexpensive but pretty set of baskets or boxes for your cupboards/shelves. They help to keep everything tidy and discourage you from putting junk back.

8 Don’t forget the kitchen! How many mugs and Tupperware boxes (without lids?) do you really need?

9 Sort through your make-up and throw away anything that’s over 12 months old as they can harbour nasty bacteria. Mascaras should be renewed every 3 months.

10 Empty your handbag of all its papers and receipts. Write down appointments and notes in your Dairy Diary and stow anything crucial in the pocket.





Holidays with a difference!

Activity Holidays

Here, I share a feature from the 2017 Dairy Diary, which introduces you to a whole host of new ideas for your next holiday. Ban the post-Christmas blues and book yourself a fabulous trip.

Activity Holidays

Sunbathing lost its charm? Feeling restless after half an hour’s lazing with a good book and a cocktail? If lounging around on holiday is just not cutting it any more, why not leap into action instead?

An activity break could be just what you need. How to make the most of precious time off is a question close to most people’s hearts, and as a welcome change from the seaside or the museums and galleries of a city break, an activity holiday can provide the answer.

The choice is almost endless, from cycling, painting or pottery to horse-riding, trekking or white-water rafting, depending on how gentle or strenuous you want your break to be. Are you interested in nature, history, food? Do you want to learn a new skill, explore new places, be adventurous? Whatever tickles your fancy, you’ll be catered for, and not just in the UK. The world awaits, and whether you decide to go as a family, with friends or on your own, you’re sure to be mixing with a group of like-minded people, all as keen as you are to enjoy themselves.

Activity holidays

Give it a try

Of course, it may be that you can’t persuade friends or family to devote a whole week to one activity, and prefer not to tackle it among people you don’t know. Plenty of places offer a whole range of activities, lasting from an hour or two to a full day, as well as catering for those who just want to do nothing much. Whatever your special interest may be, there’ll be somewhere you can indulge it. Like to try your hand at glass painting? No problem. You can make candles, jewellery or your own cosmetics, visit historic sites, go whale-watching, or learn how to play bridge or windsurf — or both.

Old crafts

If the idea of learning an oldfashioned country craft appeals, you could try hedge laying, woodland coppicing or hurdling (making a woven fence) among other rural skills. Dry-stone walls have been a feature of the British landscape for well over three thousand years. They are beautiful to behold and provide a valuable habitat for a variety of flora and fauna, but it takes skill and patience to construct one. The Dry Stone Walling Association, a charitable organisation, runs weekends for beginners.

Work it out

Working holidays can give you the added satisfaction of doing something worthwhile in your leisure time. Whether you opt to help clear invasive species from woodlands and ponds, clean beaches, repair footpaths or survey an area for bats and butterflies, conservation lies at their heart.



Ooh La La!

Activity holidayWhile taking time out to pursue your favourite hobby is a great way to relax, discovering a new creative skill is fun, too. For an added frisson, why not consider learning something new in the appropriate country?

You could try flamenco or salsa dancing in Spain, a wine course in France, cooking in Rome or Tuscany. You can even go on a language break – where better to learn French than in France with no humdrum distractions? Quelle bonne idée!

Specialist painting and photography holidays are not hard to find, world wide, and wellbeing breaks really do live up to their name.


Useful websites




Make 2017 a happy one



Sometimes things happen beyond our control that makes life challenging.

There’s nothing we can do to prevent
these events, but there are a few things
that we can do to feel happier.

Find somewhere quiet to sit for half an hour with your Dairy Diary, mobile phone and a pen and plan your 2017.


2017-dairy-diary-set-with-memorable-dates-stickersThink about everyone you know. Who makes you happiest? Give them a call and schedule in a regular time to meet up. It may only be for a coffee for an hour once a month, but if it’s written in your diary you’re more likely to keep the date.

What type of exercise do you most enjoy? A leisurely stroll, funky dance class or maybe a high intensity session? Write it into your diary at least once a week. Those endorphins will give you a weekly high.

Laugher is the best medicine. Which TV show, magazine or book most makes you chuckle? Write a regular ‘laughter night’ in your diary and watch or read your favourite funny.

Is there something that you have always wanted to learn to do? Speak French, paint in watercolour or maybe scuba dive? Go online, find a class near you and book yourself in.

And is there a place that you have longed to visit? Make a plan to go, or if it’s an extravagant trip, start a savings plan for it.


Remember folks, life’s for living!

Have a brilliant 2017.

Boxing Day – now it’s time to treat yourself!

Time to treat yourself!

I’m sure, like most people, the last month has been a whirlwind of planning, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and generally trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone.

Now’s the time to slow
down and treat yourself.

Do something you makes you feel happy. That may be a long walk, a phone call with a friend, a soak in the bath with your favourite music playing, reading a book, or even filling in your Dairy Diary.

Whatever it is, enjoy yourself and maybe even indulge in some simple comfort food like this. Just make sure someone else makes it for you!


Pasta Supper

Pasta Supper

  • Servings: 2 adults & 3 children
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 529 per portion
Fat 31g (17g sat) per portion


  • Dried tagliatelle 250g pack
  • Butter 40g (1½oz)
  • Olive oil 1 tbsp
  • Onion 1 small, peeled and finely chopped
  • Ham 110g (4oz), cut into strips
  • Frozen peas 110g (4oz)
  • Single cream 150ml (¼ pint)
  • Cheddar cheese 110g (4oz), grated


  1. Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet’s instructions.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the oil and cook the onion for about 4 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the ham and frozen peas and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  4. Add the drained tagliatelle, cream and half of the cheese. Toss together and serve immediately sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Cook’s tips
Dried tagliatelle has been used here but it can be tricky for little ones to twiddle around a fork. For young diners you might like to use pasta twists or shells instead that can be scooped up with a spoon.



Dairy Diary Favourites CookbookThis recipe is taken from
Dairy Diary Favourites cookbook.

Click here to find out more.


Have a happy Boxing Day everyone.






1 2 8
%d bloggers like this: