A Mothers Ramblings: February 2012

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Spring is Coming! - Wordless Wednesday


I took this on Sunday when I was Spring Cleaning and had stepped out to get a breath of fresh air. It felt like the first day of Spring and made me really excited! I can't wait for Spring to be truly sprung!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Perfect Fun Half Term With Family

Half Term last week was fantastic. Having Top Ender at home with Big Boy and I was great fun and we had an absolute blast. There were trips to the shops, the park, playing in the garden, a meal or two out, a lazy day, a pyjama day, an art day, a tidy up day and a lot of love. Towards the end of the week Big Boy, Top Ender and I went to London to have lunch with some of the First Choice Holidays team at the Rainforest Cafe. Big Boy had been to eat at the Rainforest Cafe before, but for Top Ender it was a new experience and she loved it.

Top Ender and Big Boy at the Rainforest Cafe

Tops loved her food, so much so that she hardly talked whilst woolfing it down. She ate so quickly that she also managed to help me eat some of mine and talked very politely with English Mum and listened to lots of talk about family holidays, which is probably why at the moment holidays is all she is talking about at home!

The train ride home was a lot of fun thanks to two new Thomson soft toys to cuddle whilst Top Ender and Big Boy listened to their ipods (we really do need to buy a new cover for Big Boy's he is starting to get sick of the pink he wants a nice green one) and dreamt about the character cakes that we had picked up in the Japan Centre earlier that day.

Top Ender and Big Boy listening to their ipods on the train

I had secretly arranged for Daddy to pick us up from the Train Station and to take us home, this meant when we got home Tops and BB still had some energy and were grateful that the sun was out and playing out in the garden was an option. They quickly built a little fort with the garden bricks and were busy playing within seconds of arriving home.

It seemed like a perfect day. It was a perfect mixture of fun, food and sunshine but I don't think that is what made it so special. I think that it was perfect because it was spent with family.

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes Gluten and Egg Free Style - Wordless Wednesday

I adapted my Yorkshire Pudding recipe to come up with what has to be the best egg free, gluten free pancake recipe in the world.*

Gluten and Egg Free Pancakes
Recipe

100g Gluten Free Flour
180ml Water
180ml Milk
2 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Xanthum Gum

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk slowly adding the water to form a smooth batter. When the batter is smooth slowly add half of the milk to thin out the batter (you should find that it is quite thick before adding the milk). Depending on the heat of the kitchen, where you live, the outside weather, altitude etc you might not need the second 90ml of milk but for me I needed it. It seemed quite thin but it cooked brilliantly. I couldn't flip them but that was more a case of my lack of talent than any ability of being able to flip them!


*Okay so maybe not the world but they are pretty good!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Naked Fish Leftovers For Lunch

When I was about eight my family and I were in a pub restaurant near to my Grandparents home at the seaside. The owner of the Pub had become good friends with my Grandparents and had come to recommend that we order the fish for our meal as it was fresh and he had just had some and it has tasted delicious. My Mum ordered the fish but asked for it to be served without the sauce. The owner of the pub was shocked and almost horrified that my Mum was having Naked fish and he kept laughing over how funny my Mum was that here she was ordering Naked fish. Since then Naked Fish has become a tasty fixture to our family menus because of it's simplicity to cook and because it is so tasty.

Daddy and I tend to have Naked Fish in the Summer as I will slowly bake Salmon Fillets on the BBQ wrapped in tinfoil with just butter and a bit of Lemon to enhance the flavour of the fish, but when I was checking the freezer this week (so I could plan the weeks menu) I found some frozen portions of Hot Smoked Honey Salmon from Delish Fish (the lovely supplier of fish that Fish Is The Dish arranges) and so I decided that Naked Fish was on the menu this week as it would be a shame to hide the honey flavour under a sauce.

We had the Salmon last night and despite Big Boy declaring that he had Chicken on his plate (Really BB you can't tell the difference between Fish and Chicken?) everybody loved the Salmon and it's nakedness. I've sent Top Ender to school today with a Honey Salmon Pasta Salad for lunch and it looks delicious so I know that she will love her lunch as much as she did her evening meal yesterday.
Top Ender's Honey Salmon Pasta Lunch

Do you use leftovers for another meal or for lunch the next day? Do you have them as you cooked them the night before or do you make them into another meal?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Dora The Explorer Little Cooks Magazine

Big boy loves Dora the Explorer, so much so that at one point I was pretty sure she was sneaking in at night and teaching him to spell. At some point Big Boy had been passed Top Ender's collection of Dora magazines (and DVD's) and Big Boy loves to sit and read them and was getting rather excited when he saw on TV that a new magazine featuring Dora was available to buy.

The Dora The Explorer Little Cooks Magazine is about cooking together with your child and helping them (and you) to learn about healthy and tasty foods in a fun way as the magazine also has puzzles, games and stories to go with the recipes. Big Boy loved reading the magazine and was really eager to use the plate and silicon cupcake cases that came with the magazine and so we made the banana cakes in the magazine and as they were eaten rather quickly we made some other cakes and used the cases again, which pleased Big Boy as he is a big cake fan.
Banana Muffins as made from the Dora Little Cooks Magazine

I think that the magazine is going to be a great help in the future with Big Boy, as encouraging him to eat different foods is sometimes difficult, but I think that if Dora suggests that he try something that he will be a little more open to trying something the first time and after that I can easily persuade him to try it again and then hopefully he will start to enjoy it. We work on the nine times rule, which is you have to try something at least nine times before you can claim you don't like it, so there will be a lot of trying to agree too.

Here is a little bit of video of Big Boy making the Banana Muffins, but as I was trying to help too there are a few stages missing!


We've been asked if we might like to keep reading the magazine and try out the recipes and we can't wait to read more of the Dora magazines and to try out the recipes. I'm quite looking forward to having some new recipes to try and I think that Big Boy is looking forward to  making more mess in the kitchen!

Dora's Cooking Club
We were sent the first Dora Magazine to review and have been offered a subscription too.

Xia-Xia Pets Review or How To Keep The Children Happy

Big Boy is feeling rather generous of late and whenever an advert comes on to the TV for something that he likes to look of or things that he thinks Top Ender might like he comments "Let's buy that for Top Ender!". Something that he has noticed during the adverts which Top Ender has also suggested we might like to buy her for Easter (instead of an Easter Egg) is the new Xia-Xia pets range. I've seen the adverts too and as far as I could work out the Xia-Xia pets are crabs with removable shells which are then able to be swapped around between the different crabs to create something unique to the ones that your friends have.

Xia Xia Confetti Cottage with Bimini

After having got the children to help to clear out the Den and to sort out the drawers which contain the colouring books, pens, crayons, pencils (and goodness knows what else) we decided that they deserved a treat and so they opened up the newly arrived Xia-Xia Pets. The packaging that the Pets come in is pretty to look at, it's easy to open too which is a real bonus when you have two children clammering to be first to see what is coming out of the package. The crab that we got is called Bimini and hidden underneath her shell is a little friend called Cuppy. Cuppy can stay under the shell, can be attached to the shell on the front on a handy little point or can be separate for adventures where she isn't getting a ride from Bimini.

Xia Xia Bimini and Cuppy

Tops and Big Boy loved the cottage and Bimini and were having a lot of fun playing with them together. They loved how when you push down on the front claws of Bimini that she scuttles around and will work out when she is backed into a corner how to get out. There were a lot of squeals of delight coming from them as they played together on the dinning table creating a fantasy world for Bimini and Cuppy to live in.

The cottage doubles up as a carry case, which Top Ender used when she went to stay with her Gran this past weekend and wanted to take her new pet crab with her. Since we have opened the Xia-Xia pet and cottage Big Boy and Top Ender have loved playing with them and are hoping to be treated to more and so are keeping the Den and the drawing materials all nice and neat! I have found the confetti cottage for £9.99 and the crabs for £9.99 (for one) at Argos so I don't think that it will be too long before the rest of the set of Crabs and the other habitats will be gracing our Den!

We were sent the Xia Xia Confetti Cottage and Bimini the Crab to review.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Something For The Weekend - Pick a Picnic!

This weekend Top Ender has gone to stay at her Gran's for the night and so Big Boy, Daddy and I are going to do something a bit fun that Daddy and I like to do when we are wanting to do something special together. We love to go to a supermarket we don't normally go to, and to pick several items to create a hamper picnic for ourselves. We choose cold meats, fish, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, different breads, drinks, cakes, dips and anything that we see and think we would like to eat or try. We normally end up spending around £30 when we do this but when I work it out compared to the price of a meal out and add the fun of picking out the different foods it doesn't blow our budget too much.

I think it's a great weekend family treat as something like this needs some time, not only to choose the different foods but also to spend time together whist eating because it takes time to sample everything and this way of eating is conducive to conversation between all the family. It's fun to try new foods together and to have a little bit of several things and I tend to find that whilst the meal may take longer that nobody over eats. Big Boy loves being able to choose different foods and to be able to eat the foods in any order (well some savoury first!) and I love it because having everyone try something new is a great way to introduce a new flavour.

Forman & Field offered to send us any gourmet gift basket we liked the look of from their website, but as I hate making any choices I asked if they would mind sending me what they thought I would like and if they could do their best to send some gluten free goodies too. They took the challenge upon themselves and sent out a a brilliant (mostly Gluten free) Hamper full of little things we might like to try as part of a fun picnic. There were different Cheese's, Ham, Pork Pie, Banana Cake, Chocolate Brownie, Smoked Salmon, Lemon Curd, Potted Lobster, Mince Pies, Christmas Pudding, some best chocolate, and boy did they all taste good. It was fantastic to have such a variety of tastes and also to have so many new things (the cheeses) to try that we wouldn't have thought to try ourselves.

Forman & Field Cheese from the Hamper

I have a feeling that when Top Ender finds out that we were having so much fun without her that she might try and get us to have another picnic.

Forman & Field sent us a hamper to review. It was really tasty.

Friday, 17 February 2012

What we watched on Valentines - Dolphin Tale

On Valentines Night Top Ender and I were eager to watch Dolphin Tale. We had seen a trailer for the film last year and had intended to go and see it at the cinema, but with one thing and another we didn't get round to it. Big Boy didn't watch the film with us as he was feeling fidgety and so Top Ender and I curled up on the sofa to watch it.

Dolphin Tale DVD Cover

The film is really sweet. It's based on a true story about a Dolphin whose tail has been damaged after being caught in some fishing traps. A young boy called Sawyer, finds the dolphin and helps to untangle her before the dolphin is taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. In the moments when Sawyer was rescuing the dolphin, they bonded and so instead of going to Summer School, Sawyer breaks into the Aquarium and finds the Dolphin and helps to nurse her better. When it becomes apparent that the Dolphins tail can't be saved, Sawyer finds a pioneering Doctor to give the Dolphin a prosthetic tail.

The film is based on a true story, which I think is great as it really is a heart warming story and it made Top Ender and I really happy to know that this wasn't something made up in Hollywood. The film was a great evenings entertainment and with a U certificate it is perfect for the whole family to watch (if they aren't feeling fidgety). The DVD is available to buy now and has an RRP of £9.99 and £14.99 for a Blu-Ray.

We were sent the DVD by Warner Bros to review.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Hot Packed Lunch

Creating something different, tasty and nice looking for Top Ender's packed lunches is becoming a full time job these days. If I'm not cutting up fruits and vegetables in to different shapes, batch baking cookies and cakes or working out different designs for the Friday lunches then I am keeping note of what Top Ender has had so I know what to rotate in and out. After all, nobody likes to eat carrot sticks everyday for three weeks, even if they are tasty and sometimes come with a dip.

The other issue that we have had of late is the weather. It's my choice to give Top Ender a packed lunch instead of having a hot School lunch, but when it is just above freezing I can't help but feel that Top Ender might appreciate something a bit warmer in her lunch box. I had a little extra cash and so one weekend Top Ender and I drove up to one of our favourite shops (Dunelm Mill) and brought two of the Bento boxes that we had seen on a previous trip. These bento boxes are insulated so they keep food cold or hot... perfect for taking in some warming meals!

Bento Boxes

The first meal that Top Ender took in was some Lasagne. She was most impressed when putting her lunch box down on the trolley in her classroom as her teacher asked her what was inside and if it was for her. Even more so when Top Ender's teacher (We'll call her Miss Charles from now on shall we?) called across to some of Top Ender's other teachers and they all had a little joke about how much they wanted Top Ender's lunch.

The next couple of hot lunches were made using some of the Warburtons Squareish Wraps that had been sent to me to try out. I made pizza (so simple you just spread some tomato paste and sprinkle cheese on top, add other toppings if you want them and then throw in the oven until the cheese melts) and hot Sausage wraps which smelt fantastic and I was really jealous until Big Boy let me share his!

Pizza for lunchSausage Warburton Squareish Wraps

These three hot lunches were really lovely and filling and Top Ender said that it was nice to have something warm to eat and that it was different but that she wouldn't want something warm everyday (which I'm glad about as I wasn't planning on giving her something warm everyday!). One thing that I did like about the square wraps (as opposed to circle wraps) was they were easier for me to handle and they seemed bigger. They were also nice tasting, not too floury and tasted great with simple toppings like cheese as a sort of home made cheesy tortilla snack after School one cold night.

Home Made Tortilla Chips with Cheese

I asked people over on my facebook page what sort of hot meal they thought would be fun as a packed lunch and got some great ideas but I'm still looking for some more ideas. What kind of hot lunch do you think would be good fun to eat at School?

Warburtons sent me some Squareish wraps to try.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A New Hooded Vest - Wordless Wednesday

Big Boy in his new Hooded Vest

Big Boy got a new Hooded Vest from Nanny B. He has hardly taken it off!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My Clippy Bags of Style - A Review

There isn't a day go by that Top Ender doesn't mention how she is going to be a Fashion Designer when she is older. Top Ender is always sketching designs for dresses, handbags, shoes, matching pet outfits, pyjamas, dressing gowns, wall paper, jackets, trousers, tops... you name it and she has multiple designs for it. When she saw the adverts on TV for Flairs My Clippy she worked out she had enough money leftover from Christmas to buy it (as she found it for £14.99 on a website) and was excited about her planned purchase. It was a great surprise when it went and turned up in the post before she had a chance to buy it though!

Top Ender explained to Daddy how you were supposed to customise the different panels in the bag in order to make something personalised and unique and they sat together and worked out what they had to do. Daddy said it wasn't that straight forward, but Top Ender said that it was something that she understood because other things she has had in the past have been similar.

My Clippy Bag as designed by Top Ender

Top Ender really enjoyed making the panels the way that she wanted them to look and although she didn't use any magazine images or photographs she is eager to buy another My Clippy so she can create another bag with a different look and this time she is thinking about using a lot of different materials. I think that it's a great creative set for girls of all ages (it is recommended for 6+), and as I have heard some mentions in some forums of grown ups buying the sets and making bags and wallets for themselves don't be surprised if there us a queue at the toy store when you go to buy one!

We were sent a My Clippy to review which means Top Ender is over the moon.

I'm Alone On Valentines Night... YAY!

Tonight Daddy has to work and won't be home until 9pm or maybe later. I don't mind because we spend time together every weekend, have a night that we spend together at least once a week and so not having dinner tonight isn't a major issue. Plus I know that he loves me because he gave me one of his cookies last night and they are tasty!

I'm pleased that I'm going to be able to spend some more quality time with Top Ender and Big Boy and we are going to have a romantic dinner together. We have all chosen something that we like as our main meal, we have a starter each and I have some special puddings which I have hidden away so that they will be a surprise. We are going to use the good plates, have candles, and music and after dinner we are going to watch a film together. We are thinking we will watch Dolphin Tale which Warner Bros sent us recently but on the projector so it is like we are at the cinema.

After the children have gone to bed, I'm going to take a nice hot bath and pamper myself before putting on my nice new PJ's curling up on the sofa and watching one of the films from the Valentines Box that Warner Bros sent me. And yes, the Maltesers that they sent are all mine and aren't being shared with nobody.
Warner Brothers Valentines Box

So that's my plan for tonight. What's yours?

This Is My Husband

When I first met Daddy I knew that he was the man I was going to marry. I knew that we were going to have children together, that we were going to grow old together and that if I achieved nothing else in this life I would at least know that I had been loved and had loved that person back with all my might. After having written the post about Big Boy I wanted to write one about Daddy too and what better day to post it than Valentines Day?

Daddy on the beach

Daddy has a different sense of humour to me but he still manages to make me laugh everyday. The other evening Daddy spent what seemed like all night reading a webpage of jokes that he kept giggling at. He shared a few with me but I think I got more delight in seeing him having fun than I did from the jokes he recited to me. When he comes home from work he normally has a one liner, or a story about his day at work or even something that his work colleagues have told him but he knows that having a giggle with me is something which bonds us together. We make a point of watching and listening to comedy shows together and one of our favourite games is to quick fire the punchlines of jokes we both know at each other.

When Daddy and I first started dating we would cook together every weekend and eat at least once a week at each others home with the rest of our family. It's only been recently that I found out that those meals with my family introduced Daddy to new foods, some of which have now become his favourites. Since Daddy has been diagnosed as being celiac we have spent a lot of time finding new recipes for dishes that we like and Daddy has discovered his talent at making Sausage Rolls and Scones and other Gluten free pastry items. I just hope that the recent discovery of  Daddy's allergy to eggs is the last thing we are going to exclude from out diet!

With a name like Daddy you would expect him to be a great Dad, and he really is. Top Ender and Big Boy are so lucky to have him (just like I am) because he takes a huge interest in them and their lives. Daddy loves playing with them, talking to them, arranging special trips with them, and makes sure that he spends special one on one time with each of them. I know that both Tops and BB love their Daddy very much and I think it would be hard to find a more devoted father anywhere.

Family Fun

Doing chores is something that I don't have pester Daddy to help with; He will help bath the children, make sure they brush their teeth, hoover, do the dishes, put the bins out, go shopping, make the bed and if I'm not here for the day he does all the other chores that need doing during the day too. I might moan occasionally that he should stop trying to tidy up as soon as he gets home from work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

A few years ago I suggested that Daddy and I stop giving each other brought gifts and should make a gift for each other instead. I was sure that this would be easy and that I would be presenting Daddy with thoughtful, beautiful handmade with love gifts. It turns out that I'm really rubbish at this though and Daddy comes up with the most amazing ideas. I have had hand made clocks, hand made calendars, personalised hand made board games, hand made personalised toiletries and many many more things. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully thoughtful the gifts are or how wonderfully they turn out.

I don't think there are really enough words to describe how much I love my husband, or how wonderful he is. His little habits and foibles are endearing and something that I wouldn't change.

This is my husband and he's pretty darn amazing.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A Long Drive For A Photo

Last weekend after I had posted about being a fantastic Mummy and trying to find a book that Daddy's Grandma is pictured in, one of Daddy's Aunts (Hello "H"!) contacted me and gave the name of two books that she thought we might find the picture in. A quick search found that the one book we hadn't already borrowed was available to borrow from a library in Woodford Halse in Northamptonshire which was about an hour's drive from Milton Keynes.

We did what any family fun loving family would do.

We grabbed our adventure bag, our coats and ipods (well the children did) and jumped into the car ready for an adventure. Big Boy soon fell asleep and Top Ender was engrossed in her playlists so Daddy and I had a great chat and listened to the radio. We found the library and the library book and the picture of Daddy's Grandma and after taking a minute to join the library we borrowed the book (and a couple of others) and then we were on our way back home.

Mrs Bridge and her Evacuees
The girl in question is the middle head behind Mrs Bridge's arm.
Top Ender is now pretty certain that because we would go on a two hour round trip adventure to find a book for one picture that we will also go on an adventure to take part in the activities at the Imperial War Museum North this half term (It's only three hours away Mum! And it's Free to go and they are talking about stories about war so it would be good for me for my school project!) I hate to disappoint her, but it is just too far even if the storytelling sessions and masked characters sound great fun.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Valentines on a Budget

This morning BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Local Radio had me on to talk about Valentines Day ideas on a budget. I explained how lucky I am to be married to one of the most wonderful and romantic men in the Universe and then went on to give some ideas that Daddy and I have used in the past (or are going to use this year!). I had been asked to prepare a Top Ten List but only got to explain three of them, so here they all are!

Make Food Heart Shaped.

Buy a Cookie Cutter and cut heart shaped sandwiches, lasagne, vegetables, slices of ham... anything that is going to be eaten. If you do it without your other half knowing then they will know you were thinking of them when they finally eat the food and who doesn't like to be thought about?

Give a Photo Gift.

Take a photo of you or your children proclaiming their declaration of love (Like Tara's) or an important place to you or the recipient. I love the idea of marking an important date and this is what I used for inspiration for Daddy's gift this year. I used the date of our wedding anniversary, a Flickr users photos and some effects in an art programme on the PC to create something which I'm rather proud of.

Valentines Photo Gift

Give Seeds not Flowers.

I do love getting and giving flowers, but if you are looking to do this on a budget buy a packet of seeds or a plant instead. They tend to last longer and you can decorate the pot of the plant or even create an envelope for the seeds to replace the one they come in. Use your best handwriting or make the most of an art programme on your PC to write the name of the seeds out all fancy and print onto the envelope.

Make a Meal Special.

It might be breakfast in bed, you might take lunch to them or make a special favourite meal and use the posh plates. This is also something great to do with the children, you could have them be the Servers or take part as who doesn't love dinner on a posh plate?!

Do a Chore.

I hate putting the bins out, but as it's one of the chores that Daddy does this Valentines day I will take care of it so he doesn't have to. In the past Daddy has done my least favourite chore for the day and it means so much because he knows that his actions show how much he loves me. Oh and don't forget that if this cold weather keeps up that scraping the car is a great chore!

Make some Personalised Sweets.

You could make up some Home Made Chocolates, or maybe melt candy canes left over from Christmas together to make a heart or take the outer wrapper off a favourite bar of chocolate and replace it with a home made one. Just don't forget to write your declaration of love on the inside of the outer wrapper.

Bake something.

Go ahead and bake something. Cupcakes, cakes, bread, biscuits are all gratefully received if baked with love. You can make them heart shaped (use that cookie cutter again) or write on them or just present them with a little love note.

Valentines Biscuits

Give a Voucher.

I don't mean you have to go out and buy a gift voucher for a favourite shop (although a voucher for a favourite Coffee shop is a nice way to show you are thinking of someone) but make a set at home. They might be for a lay in, doing the dishes, having a take away, a favourite dinner, a massage or anything else you think that they might appreciate. Of course you can always enter the competition to win an Experience Day Voucher too...

Take the Day Off or Come Home Early.

The other evening Daddy surprised us by coming home early. It was great to be able to spend a little more time with him and this is a great way to spend Valentines too. You could do something you keep meaning to do (visit a local attraction maybe?) or just spend the day together watching romantic films.

Write a Love Letter.

A proper hand written love letter doesn't cost much but means the world. From our early courtship I have every single letter, card, postcard and note that Daddy sent me and apart from one that was stolen with Daddy's wallet (I say they were after the note, he claims they were after his cash) he has every single one I sent him too. It's special because you took the time out to do it and it's very romantic to tell someone why you love them.

I have a list of Thirty Valentines suggestions which are under £5 and if you'd like any further ideas, don't forget to check out my Valentines Pinterest Board!

A Mothers Ramblings On Pinterest

You Stupid Boy! - Top Ender Giggles

With Top Ender learning about World War Two at School (if I was still a Mummy time traveller I could just woosh her back there for the day) we have been trying to expose her to a few different films, TV series and books set in the period too. We were discussing a list of TV series and films that we thought that we could watch on our Date nights when Top Ender joined in with the conversation.

"We're watching a film about World War II at School; It's called Dad's Army" said Top Ender
"Oh!" said Daddy excitedly "We love that film, it's very funny!"

Top Ender paused for a second and looked at Daddy and deadpan answered

"Well, I haven't laughed yet."
Top Ender The Best Daughter in the World

Friday, 10 February 2012

Plum's Oaty Chomps - Good For Pudding!

I was asked by Plum if Big Boy might like to try some new Oaty Chomps and I said yes thinking that not only would Big Boy like them but Top Ender would like them in her Friday lunch box too! I included one in Top Ender's lunch a couple of times and they came back uneaten, Top Ender was worried that she wouldn't like and so it was only once I opened one and ate it to prove that she would like them that she tried them.

Plum's Oaty Chomps

Big Boy ate them without question, but he likes all food and it doesn't matter to him what it tastes of as long as it is filling! The other thing about Big Boy is that if he doesn't like it he won't eat it again and Big Boy has continued to ask for the Plum bars, with the pumpkin pie ones living in my handbag for emergency snacks when we are out and about. Top Ender wasn't so keen, she ate one but she said that she thought them to be heavy and dry. I could understand what she meant but I thought that they were nice and as Big Boy thinks quite filling. I used some of the chomps all crushed up as the base for a fake cheesecake pudding which Top Ender really did like!

Plum's Oaty Chomps

In case you want to make the fake cheesecake all I did was crush up the Strawberry Cheescake Oaty Chomps and mix with a crushed digestive or two and some melted butter and let set before adding some angel delight that I made up with condensed milk instead of milk. It was really lovely and I wish I had taken a photo before it was all eaten.

Plum's Oaty Chomps are £1.99 and great to keep in your handbag for feeding yourself or your children when you are out and about.

Plum sent me two packs of Oaty Chomps to review.

Warm and Comfortable Hotter Boots

For me shoes have one purpose and that is to keep my feet covered when I am outside. If they look pretty then that is all well and good but for me the shoes which are the best are the ones that I can put on at 8am before the School Run and take off at about 9pm before I go to bed. I guess that is why I live in my trainers! The one downside to wearing trainers is that they don't exactly go well with anything other than jeans. If I am wearing trousers or a skirt I look scruffy, and so when Hotter Shoes asked if I might like to have a pair of Sheepskin Charisma boots I was eager to give them a try.

Hotter Boots

The boots are fantastic. The sheepskin lining is soft and warm and fantastic for these cold days and Big Boy has been loving wearing them when I haven't! He has been making me giggle pretending to be me and walking around the living room but he likes to feel the soft lining so he takes off his socks and trousers! They are made of suede but they come with a free protector spray and I haven't noticed any damage with me walking on what is left of the snow when doing the School Run.

Hotter Boots

The boots are really comfortable and I've been able to wear them all day without any discomfort. They have kept my feet really warm which has been handy as during the day we don't keep the heating on and I don't like to get cold! I've found that the boots are great looking with Jeans and with "formal" trousers and my sister has threatened to steal them to wear with her leggings. The only thing I need to do now is wear them with a skirt to see how they look.

Just in case it wasn't clear I got these boots free from Hotter Shoes.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Changes At A Mothers Ramblings

Hello Everybody!

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Five Things My Children Have Learnt From Computer Games

Top Ender and Big Boy love to play computer games. They play on the PC's, the Wii, the Xbox, my ipod and on Top Enders Nintendo DS and boy does that sound like a lot! They don't play for long (we have a thirty minute rule) but they play a variety of games some are educational, some are physical, some are just plain old fun but the thing that they all have in common is that they are teaching my children things I never would have thought they would teach them.

1) You have to eat when you are low on energy.

Big Boy loves playing Kirby and whilst playing is always on the look out for the little bits of food that replenish his Characters health bar. It has become a little annoying as Big Boy will often sit down in the middle of the room and claim he doesn't have enough energy to carry out a simple task (like putting away his toys) and that he needs some food to top up his energy. Luckily Big Boy has also discovered that fruits and vegetables are the best way to top up his energy levels. I just wish like the characters in computer games we had a handy visual measure to tell us when we need a top up!

Big Boy playing on the Wii

2) Sometimes you have to save your money.

Top Ender loves to play games where the characters can buy new costumes or things for their houses and she loves to buy everything as quickly as possible. The problem being that sometimes you have to save your money to buy crops or storage or a magic hat... Top Ender has realised that this is the same in real life too. At Christmas (and for her birthday) Top Ender she received a lot of vouchers from various family members for her to chose what she wanted to buy. Top Ender thought long and hard about what she wanted to buy and in the end only spent a small proportion of her vouchers, saving the rest for later in the year when she might have other needs or wants.

3) If at first you don't succeed you should try, try and then try again.

One of the great things about modern games is that it saves your progress and so if you get to a bit that you can't do you can you can just keep having a go at it until you succeed. And that translates well into everything new too. If you want to learn to ride a bike without stabilisers? Try, try and try again. Eventually you will get it. Although you should remember if you really get stuck you can use number 4...

4) If you get stuck it's okay to ask for help.

After trying several times to do a certain part of a game or to work out a tricky puzzle the children will complain that they can't do it, but rather than give up they will ask for help. This is perfect because there are times in life where everybody finds there is something that they can't do. It's okay though because there are people around you who have more experience or expertise and so asking them for help is okay. Although right when I have my hand up a chicken's bum isn't that good a time.

Top Ender getting some help to put on Suncream

5) There are Cheat Codes.

I'm the worst for this. Having completed some games by being good and doing it step by step I sometimes go back and play the game again but this time I cheat. I might use a code to get more life or more money or to simply cut out a huge boring bit of the game and it's okay to do this. In real life I might not make every meal from scratch but "cheat" and use a pre-made pie crust or I might only hoover the middle of a room instead of under the furniture if a guest is coming round. It's not that I can't do the whole thing, it's just that sometimes a short cut is available and it makes more sense to take it.

What have you or your children learnt from computer games that wasn't intentional? Surely I'm not the only person fluent in Simlish?

Snow Babies - Wordless Wednesday

Big Boy in the snow

Top Ender in the snow

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Best Gift Ever

Today the postman brought me what could possibly be described as the BEST GIFT EVER!

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce from Vic

Thanks Vic, I guess my love of Dr Pepper is as big as your love of shoes!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Lazy Morning Breakfast

On Friday afternoon the Fish Is The Dish twitter account tweeted a link to the Smoked Haddock Rarebit which as soon as I saw thought would be a fantastic Valentines breakfast or lazy day breakfast. Daddy wouldn't be able to eat it (his egg allergy) and as Daddy will be going to work early on Valentines Day I knew if I wanted to eat it I would have to make it myself. So I did. It was really easy to make and for my lazy Saturday morning it was the perfect treat.

Smoked Haddock Rarebit

Saturday mornings for me are lazy. They are the day that I get up with the children and they graze on fruit or pastries, we don't get dressed until Daddy gets up (sometime after nine but always before ten) and if I'm feeling particularly energetic I might clean the kitchen or do some baking but it's okay if all we do is sit on the sofa and watch cartoons or play computer games together.

On Sundays I get to sleep in and Daddy gets up with the children. I'm not sure what happens, as I'm upstairs sleeping, but I think from the overheard conversations and excitement that it's pretty much the same as what happens on a Saturday. There is cartoon watching, computer game playing and Daddy too gets to decide if he wants to clean the kitchen, do some baking or something else entirely!

This system works well for us and we wouldn't swap our lazy mornings for anything. Although I wouldn't day No if Daddy brought me the Smoked Haddock Rarebit for breakfast in bed today!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

How I Mastered Time Travel (With No Tardis In Sight)

In trying to help Top Ender with her school work I found out that I had mastered Time Travel as a child. When I was around six or seven years old, I travelled back in time to 1939, (that's forty years before I was born). Whilst I was in 1939 I didn't warn everybody about Hitler or buy Ice Cream but I had my picture taken and then time travelled back to the future and somehow lost all memory of how to master time travel and that I had actually managed it. In fact I would still be none the wiser if I hadn't seen the picture of me and it's the only logical reason.*

Let me take you back in time to just a few weeks ago to explain this.

The theme for this term at Top Ender's school is World War Two, which means she has been coming out with little facts (Did you know Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister at the start of the war Mum?) and is generally developing an understanding of the period in general. The children seem to be focusing on evacuees and what it was like to be evacuated. This prompted a memory of Daddy's as there is a picture in a book of Daddy's Grandmother who was evacuated in the war. The first logical step was to ask my Father In Law if he knew what the book was called. He didn't. So I did what any parent would do. I went to the local library and looked at every single book on Evacuees and the Second World War that had pictures.

So there I am with a mountain of books and I find a picture of me.
Evacuees having dinner, October 1939
I'm in the back row second from the right.
Now you will have to take my word that this is me because somehow all pictures of me prior to 1990 are missing. Which is odd because I know I have them somewhere and also it's from 1990 onwards that I start sporting some really bad hair do's and some really odd clothing mistakes. Honest though I look exactly like that girl having her dinner in 1939.

I've stopped looking for the picture of Daddy's Grandma now and instead I'm focusing on reading books set during the war. Which is handy seeing as the Imperial War Museum North sent Top Ender some books (we've donated them to Top Ender's School so all her classmates can read them too) to promote their Once Upon a Wartime exhibition that is being launched on the 12th February. I'm just glad none of these fiction books have pictures of me in.


*Okay so the most logical reason is that it is a distant relation of mine (a quick check of my family tree has no children being evacuated and no girls of a similar age in 1939) or maybe I'm an early Cryonics experiment or a Vard√łger but I prefer the mastering time travel answer.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Rose Bouquet Valentines Cakes

In my quest for making Valentines really sweet this year I am baking, baking baking! I decided that making a lot of little treats would be best, as that way everybody that I love can get something. I'm not just limiting Valentines to my Husband and Children, but I'm including my Mum, my Sister and her family, my Nan, my Neighbours, my Friends and you the readers! That's right there is going to be a special Valentines gift and competition for you all.

Since making the Rose Bouquet Cupcakes for mine and my Mum's birthday I've been thinking about how to make them more easily and maybe a little less calorific. I mean I love icing and it's obviously one of my best skills (ROFL) but there has to be another way. I just needed to get thinking, or rather get my family thinking.

Flower Bouquet Birthday Cake

I tell my Mum all the problems that I have, so she can help me solve them! I wasn't surprised when inspiration came to her to solve the Rose Bouquet cupcake problem and she managed to combine it with a Christmas present for my Sister and I. My Mum was looking through the Betterware catalogue and saw the Rose Shaped Silicone Cupcake Mould and decided that this was the answer. As soon as I saw them I knew she was right and I couldn't wait to make some for Top Ender and Big Boy and because everybody likes red roses, I used some red food colouring too tint the cake batter.

Rose Bouquet Valentines Cake

They have gone down really well with both Big Boy and Top Ender and I'm pretty sure that when I give these to my Neighbours for Valentines that they will be gratefully received!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Love Heart Cupcakes, Egg Free Cakes And Another Hint

We have recently worked out that Daddy, as well as being unable to eat things containing wheat and gluten is now also unable to eat things containing egg. Cue much gnashing of the teeth and cursing from me and Daddy suddenly feeling a lot better after removing eggs and egg products from his diet. It has meant that Daddy and I are learning to bake again and so we've been practising on the children! Well, I have and funny enough they don't seem to mind being given cake after cake to try!

I'm slowly getting the hang of making light and fluffy cakes without using eggs but with Valentines Day coming up I wanted to perfect it so I could create some lovely cakes for Daddy. Standing in Wilkinsons I spotted some rolls of Love Hearts by the till and was thinking how cute they would be on a cake, either nestled in icing on cupcakes or if I could work it out covering a large cake completely. And this is how I came up with the idea of making Love Heart Cupcakes.

Valentines Love Heart Cupcakes

These ones are actually a bit of me cheating as they aren't egg free as I'm made them for Top Ender's Friday lunch (well one of them the other two BB can eat!) and didn't want to be worrying about them not rising. I think that one thing that is really apparent is that I'm really rusty using a piping bag!

There is a lot of synchronicity going on around me at the moment, and just as I had finished icing these cupcakes I received an email from Swizzles Matlow the makers of Love Hearts about their new Valentines range! I love the look of the Retro Heart Shaped Tin and when I saw it in store the other day I dropped lots of hints to Daddy about how great it would be to have a few of them to store cookie cutters and cake wrappers in...

Love Hearts Retro Valentines Tin

He's going to get the hint right?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Me Right Now... Well Last Night - The Gallery

Tara is a tricky one isn't she? The gallery theme this week was Me Right Now, as in wherever you were when you read the prompt that's what Tara wanted you to take a picture of. So I asked Daddy to take a picture for me and here it is.
Me Right Now

That's right I'm knitting (a pink scarf for Top Ender, the green one for Big Boy is just behind my head), drinking a milkshake (strawberry because my microwave disintegrated and I couldn't have a hot chocolate), watching TV (Suits on Dave in HD. It's a great show), reading a book (I've just got up to how to make Chutney), on the telephone (to my Mum) and of course surfing the web.

What does it show? I guess it shows that I'm a bit of a multi-tasker and I shouldn't start something before finishing the other!