Showing posts from January, 2011

Halogen Oven's A New Way to Cook - A Review

My sister has long extolled the virtues of her Halogen Oven and I had been considering splashing out on one when I was asked by Clifford James if I would like to review one. Seeing as I had already been considering getting one I said yes and eagerly awaited it's arrival. When it did come I was surprised at the size of the thing, but after a quick phone call to my sister where we both measured our Halogen Oven's I discovered that they are the same size.

Only one option - Baby Boy Giggles

Baby Boy was allowed to watch a film in bed last night as he went up to bed early.

"'Would you like The Cat in the Hat?" I said
"No!" said Baby Boy
"What about Scooby Doo" I tried
"No!" said Baby Boy
"What about Little Einstein's?" I suggested
"No!" said Baby Boy
"How about Fireman Sam?" I tested
"No!" said Baby Boy
"I don't know then! Which one do you want?" I asked
"Choose Ponyo" said Baby Boy
"Okay I choose Ponyo!" I said
"Hooray I like that one!" answered an excited Baby Boy

The Origin of Top Ender

For most people, the Open University is a far off distant place that they will never see. If they are taking a one off course or are on the path to get a degree (or any other qualification with the Open University) they do most of the coursework at home, or in a local library, or at work in their lunch hour! The whole point of The Open University is that it is a place for distance learning, you never have to visit the head office.

That isn't the case for me though.

For me the Open University is a short drive away, a place I have seen regularly and know well. A place where friends and family work. To me the Open University isn't just a place of distance learning, or a work place, it's a place where Top Ender became a Top Ender. That's right Top Ender's nursery where she got her nickname is on the Open University grounds in Milton Keynes. I have told the story before, but it is something that we still get asked quite often; Just why is Top Ender called Top Ender?

Our Week of Maths Play

I regularly play learning games with Top Ender and Baby Boy that they don't actually think are learning games. I have mentioned them before in posts such as Helping your Children with Math Skills and Helping your Children learn to Read. This week though The Play Academy at NurtureStore is hosting a Maths Play Carnival and I couldn't resist sharing a few ways that Baby Boy, Top Ender and I have been playing with Maths this week!

She'll get the message - Baby Boy Giggles

Baby Boy was in bed and as I finished cutting Daddy's hair we could hear him calling for us. As Daddy needed to go and shower to get rid of the hair I went upstairs to find out what Baby Boy needed us for. When I got in there it turned out that not only did he need his drink refilling but he also needed some comfort from the presence of someone to go to sleep with. I climbed into his bed with him, just for a few minutes, so that he could realise I was there and that it was safe to go to sleep. After a few minutes my back was cold from being pushed up against the wall and seeing as Baby Boy's bed is quite small I needed to get out before the contortionist position I was in became permanent. I made an excuse that I needed to tell Daddy that I was in Baby Boy's room and made my leave.

What is the Good Life?

The theme for the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival this week is The Good Life. It really got me to thinking because whilst the Good life is something that nearly everyone aspires to it means something different to everyone. The only common theme is that it is making sure that the life that you lead has more than enough room for the things that are fun, the things that mean the most to you. So why was I struggling to clarify what the Good Life meant to me and my family? I decided to break it down into sections.

Chess The Musical - A Review

When Mummy, through illness, had to back out of a chance to see Chess at Milton Keynes Theatre, an opportunity to dust off my reviewers hat presented itself. Now, despite being a former Theatre Studies student at A-Level, I was never particularly good at writing theatre reviews. My soul exception was a review of Lionel Bart's "Oliver" in about 1995, which I thought was worthy of an Olivier award of its own.

You might, therefore, excuse me if I turn to the guidelines of 15 years ago to bring you this review.

Swings at the Park - Wordless Wednesday


Western Digital WDTV Live Hub - Daddy Guest Review

Here at A Mothers Ramblings we like our media. TV, Movies and Music are key to our entertainment - we already enjoy a Full HD TV, a Projector, and Blu-Ray player. We love to listen to music in the house and on the road. When the children are restless at bedtime, we don't object to putting a short film on for them to watch in their bedrooms on any night at weekends. And while they do that, Mummy and I will happily sit together on the sofa and watch something else. So how will the Western Digital WDTV Live Hub help?

One thing we struggle with is centralising our media. On too many occasions Top Ender has decided to watch the same film at bedtime as Baby Boy - problem, only one copy of the DVD... Or, we've recorded a TV show on my server (that I hide in the loft next to the TV aerial!) and decide to watch it in the living room, only for it to take 30 minutes to transfer over the network - or worse, I have to travel up a ladder to collect it on a USB memory stick!

The first-genera…

Gluten Free Quiche - One that *I* made!

Many years ago I used to make Quiche quite often, then when Daddy was diagnosed as celiac working with home made gluten free pastry made making Quiche a chore rather than a pleasure. Top Ender and Baby Boy both like quiche and so I decided to give gluten free pastry for Quiche one more bash. Apparently the gluten free pastry understood that it was it's last chance and it behaved very nicely... I made up the pastry (200g Doves Farm Plain Flour and 100g Softened Butter mixed together using a fork) and instead of rolling the pastry out I just pushed it in to the Quiche dish as a base and pricked it all over before putting it into the oven for half an hour (gas mark 5). I don't use baking beans because I don't have any, but I find a lot of pricking stops air bubbles anyway!

I'm not going to eat that! - Baby Boy Giggles

The other evening Baby Boy and Top Ender were talking to me whilst I was preparing the evening meal, (well actually I was preparing to prepare the evening meal but that just makes the story longer doesn't it!) when Baby Boy just started crying.

"Noooo!" cried Baby Boy between sobs
"What's wrong Baby?" I asked
"Have you hurt yourself?" asked Top Ender
"No it's the worms!" cried Baby Boy still sobbing

We took the sobbing Baby Boy into the living room and sat together and started to calm him down. It took a few minutes for him to stop sobbing and to work out what it was that he was crying about. It turns out that the mince that we were having for dinner was thought to be worms.

I can see what he means though!

Warburtons Wheat and Gluten Free Range... and why Pippa is never going to wash her hands again!

When Warburtons asked me to come to London for Breakfast I was excited. I love Warburtons bread, but we don’t eat a lot of it at home because Daddy is a Celiac and I always feel really bad eating some tasty bread products when he has something... well not tasty. To put it bluntly most wheat free bread products taste as if someone has grated cardboard up. Then Warburtons told me the breakfast they were inviting me to was to launch a Gluten Free range and I got even more excited as not only would I be able to buy Warburtons Bread again but Daddy would be able to eat it too! Talking to the Walburtons Team (in particular Darren Littler who was very kind in talking with me, Amy From Cooking, Cake and Children and Sally from Who’s the Mummy for a very long time) it was apparent that the new products (Brown Bread, White Bread, Crumpets, Tea Cakes and Sub rolls) are intended very much to be like “normal” bread products with even the packaging not being dissimilar from the wheat ranges.

It isn…

I'm starting to hate January

Twelve years ago I was at the Dr's for an early morning appointment. I had had a summer job at the Doctors (cleaning) and so the Reception staff knew me well and I didn't even notice anything out of the ordinary when one of them stuck her head out the little window of the reception office and said to me that she just had to pop into see the Doctor before my appointment and could I just sit tight for a few minutes. The next thing I knew my Dad walked into the Doctors and told me that my Grandfather had died.

A year later (to the very day) my Nan's brother died and so did my Gran's brother. Three deaths on one day of the year. I suppose with the number of people in the world and the number of days in the year that it is likely, but it still seemed like that day was cursed to me. Over the next few years more and more people that I knew, that meant something to me died in January. A couple of years ago I was hit very hard when my Gran died on Top Ender's birthday. It j…

Disney's Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition

For Top Enders Birthday Party, Disney very kindly sent over a copy of Beauty and The Beast on Disney Blu Ray for the girls to watch. The Girls chose to watch another film and so when Top Ender went back to School a couple of days later, Baby Boy and I decided to watch the film together. We watched it on our TV, instead of on the projector and cuddled up together on the Sofa.

Baby Boy Giggles - Tiptoe

To say that Baby Boy is a Mummy's boy would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong he adores his sister and his Daddy and Baby Boy often tells me that he would rather live with his Granny if I have told him off, but he is still a Mummy's Boy. Every morning (apart from Sundays) Baby Boy and I are the first downstairs and so he knows now that if it is night time it is Daddy that helps him (you know the sort of thing gives him his cup back, sorts out the bugs in his bed) and if it is morning time Mummy helps him.

Shampoo Sculptures - Wordless Wednesday


Making Chores Fun - Clean the Stairs

I got a few funny emails after I posted about Making Chores Fun - Clean the Kitchen Floor, mainly people asking if I really did do that, or if it was staged. I really do clean the Kitchen Floor by getting Top Ender and Baby Boy to skate up and down on it with a bit of Water, Washing Up Liquid and a towel... just not every week. Cleaning the stairs and making it a fun chore however is something that we do every week!

What to do after breakfast!

There is always a short period after breakfast where nobody really wants to move from the breakfast table, or when someone is loading the dishwasher or doing the breakfast dishes and the rest of the family need something to occupy them with. So what to do after breakfast? Well it doesn't matter if you have had a cooked breakfast or a cold breakfast there is always something to do with what is on the table!

Whilst we were enjoying our Christmas Break we had the time to have a cooked breakfast for a few more mornings than normal. One of our favourite breakfasts was Boiled egg (with Soldiers!) and this gave Daddy an idea to make some egg people on the emptied out egg shells! Top Ender and Baby Boy loved this craft time, not just because it was time with Daddy (although that was quite cool too I imagine) but because they were using materials that were available to them then and there, they didn't need to go off and find paper! One of the benefits of making these egg people was tha…

Camping Daddy and Top Ender Style

Top Ender and Daddy are hoping to camp in every English county before Top Ender is 18. It is a huge undertaking (seeing as they only go camping once a year at the moment), but it is one that they are more than happy to undertake! They spend hours sitting at the PC looking for the ideal camp site in the area that they have decided to go to as they have several criteria even if they are only going to be there for a couple of days. Daddy likes it to have a good 3G signal (or WiFi), an electric hook up, be family friendly and to have a shower and toilet block! Top Ender prefers sites that have a swimming pool, a children's play park and her Daddy... so far they have managed to find ones that fit all their requirements and they have had great fun on their trips.

If they are going to get all the counties stayed in before Top Ender is 18 they are going to have to put some serious effort into this over the next few years! It is great for them to go away for a few days at a time, to explor…

How to be an Organised Mummy - Some of my Top Secret Tips

Just a few days ago Josie from Sleep is For the Weak suggested that I should share my perfectly organised Mummy ways with a wider audience and because I know that you are all eager to be as wonderfully prepared as I am, I couldn't keep my top secret tips to myself any longer. 
So I am going to share some of my top secret tips on the understanding that you tell me your tips in the comments below!

Your Shape for the Xbox 360

On Christmas Eve, Top Ender, Baby Boy and I spent most of the day with my Mum. We got home early afternoon and as we walked in the front door we found a missed delivery card. Knowing that with the snow and Christmas closing that this parcel wouldn't be scheduled for an attempt at re-delivery until well into the New Year, Top Ender and I decided to take a risk and drive out to the depot before they closed for the day. With Top Ender on the phone asking the company to stay open until we got there and trying to programme the Sat Nav as per my instructions we somehow made it to the depot in one piece and before the staff left for the pub! We weren't very sure what it was that was being delivered to us, but as we had been promised some chocolates, Top Ender and I were hoping that is what the box contained.
When we got home and got the box open we discovered that inside was an Xbox 360, a Kinect sensor and the Ubisoft game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. I was gobsmacked. You see just…

Are you Comfy Baby Boy? - Wordless Wednesday


Do we know how to play?

Over at Baby Genie I was mentioned in a post about do we know how to play with toys. Not just using the toys and playing a little game, but actually getting involved in the play process. Instead of using bricks as just stacking blocks, using them to build a rocket, to make a castle, to make a bridge. It made me laugh because yesterday Baby Boy and I were playing a game and I was trying to sort the words out in my head to make it a blog post because it wasn't just an ordinary game, it was a game where we used our imaginations. It appears that Catherine and I were on the same wave length although she got there first!

Making Chores Fun - Clean the Kitchen Floor

I have said time and time again that we are an ordinary household who just like to have fun with everything that we do. One of the things that is not fun that needs to be done is the household chores, things like cleaning, hoovering, dusting, mopping, doing the dishes but here at A Mothers Ramblings we try to make EVERYTHING fun and this includes the household chores like cleaning, hoovering, dusting, mopping and doing the dishes! The one chore that is the most fun for Top Ender and Baby Boy is cleaning my kitchen floor. It started off when Top Ender was small and I read something on Flylady we adapted it for us and thought we would share it with you. 

Top 100 Children's Books

One of the things on our Family Fun list is to read the Top 100 Children's Books together. This was something that I could of sworn was a list somewhere, a bit like the BBC's big read or you know those definitive lists of books you should read before you start your GCSE's or hit puberty or something. My Internet trawling found several lists, but none of that I would say were comprehensive and the books varied wildly on the lists so much so that most lists didn't have more than a quarter of the same books listed. So I did what normal people (by normal I mean Internet users like me!) do and asked on Twitter if anyone knew where there was such a list.

Of course the "like me" people could of sworn there was a list, but couldn't actually place a finger on where such a list might exist. And then it was suggested that I compile my own list. So I tried. Then I realised that all the books that I would list might not be suitable for all children. Whilst I have no p…

Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Wii

We were sent the Ubisoft Wii Game Michael Jackson: The Experience to review. It really amazes me that people send me games like this, because they are the games that I love to play even though I have absolutely no dancing skills what so ever. I did think that I might have an unfair advantage over Top Ender and Daddy on this game (because my Sister was a huge Michael Jackson fan and so I had seen the music videos on loop for at least ten years of my childhood and I was sure that some of the routines must of been absorbed into my subconscious) but I didn't tell them that. In fact when Daddy suggested that we play on the projector using our wireless wii sensor bar I thought that it would be even better, as I could hide behind Daddy and Top Ender so they wouldn't see me not having to watch the dancing avatar performing but just dancing from my own memory! As you can see it is a big picture, about 80inches!

Just Dance 2 for the Wii

I was really looking forward to Just Dance 2, after having had so much fun playing with Just Dance (which I discovered rather late compared to some people) that when I had Just Dance 2 sent to me in the post to review I was so excited! I have played the game quite a lot since it came in the post and even Baby Boy has joined in (with his Pez Dispenser Wii remote) and together we have been having a good workout dancing to some of my favourite songs on the game. Just Dance 2 is pretty much the same as Just Dance, (there wasn't any major tinkering going on between releases) but there does appear to be some better tracking of the dancing now (either that or I am getting better!) and there are some additional extras which I will explain more about now!

A Lego Duplo Expert

During 2010 Baby Boy was asked to become a Lego Duplo Expert; He may only be two but he knows one end of a Lego Duplo block from another! Just before Christmas we received a package full of Lego Duplo and I put it to one side so that we could open it up after the excitement of opening gifts on Christmas Day. As neither Top Ender or Baby Boy were going to get a lot of toys for Christmas I knew that we might need something to bring a little excitement to the pre New Year period! Sure enough a couple of days later before New Years Eve Baby Boy and Top Ender were both flagging a little and so I pulled out the boxes of Duplo. 

Family Fun - Decorating Biscuits

Something that Top Ender, Baby Boy and I love to do is to make and decorate biscuits. It's great fun as we all get to sort out what ingredients we are using, what weights we need and then of course we get to mix them together and roll out the dough. Once they are cooked and cooled we all get to design something on top of the biscuits that we have made. Baby Boy loves decorating biscuits because he likes to see just how much icing, sprinkles and other assorted decorating bits he can pile on to one biscuit. Top Ender likes to decorate biscuits because she is developing her ideas about what it is that makes the perfect biscuit... we don't agree lol

The London Marathon and Emma

One of my very good friends (Emma over at Me, The Man & The Baby) is going to be running the London Marathon in just a few short months. You can read all about it over on her blog and you can even sponsor her at her Just Giving Page, but what I would really love for you to all do is to send her a message of encouragement and to let her know via her blog, or on Twitter to keep up with her training.

Who knows maybe Emma will be my inspiration and I will start really seriously exercising again...

Alien Ice Cream - Wordless Wednesday


Baby Boy's New Years Day Cookies Recipe

On New Years Day Baby Boy and I were sitting on the sofa (just after 6am) together talking about what he wanted to have for breakfast. We had put away all of our Christmas Decorations over the previous couple of days and yet somehow he had managed to find a small paper bag which was designed for Christmas Cookies to be given as a gift in. The front of the bag was decorated with a Gingerbread man and Baby Boy decided that he would really like a Gingerbread man for breakfast. We didn't have any Gingerbread over Christmas and so I agreed that we could make some (as I had all the ingredients) and I could clean up the kitchen whilst Baby Boy was mixing and decorating. I started doing the dishes whilst Baby Boy played submarine with the washing machine door and ate a fruit salad and then I started looking for my Gingerbread men cutters.

I couldn't find them anywhere and so apologised to Baby Boy and told him that rather than having a Gingerbread family we could make some biscuits or…

Fun and Games for All the Family

I was sent a book to read called Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family and is a book that has listed ideas that incorporates modern technology, (such as as a MP3 player or a mobile phone) into games that you can play with your family. It is the sort of book that I would buy at the start of the year (that would be now then) so that during odd moments this year I could organise an activity from the book. Each game has a key in the margin of who the game is suitable for, the age of the players, the number of players, where it can be played (indoor/outdoor/in the car sort of thing) and what modern piece of equipment you might need to play.

I read the whole book through the first time just to see what was in the book. I really wanted to see if there were indeed games that would be suitable for the whole family and hopefully a few games that weren't already something that most people were aware of. I was pleased to see that there were many activities that I wouldn't of thought o…

Happy New Year!

Right now I am probably tucked up in bed, fast asleep having celebrated New Year with the Children earlier in the evening before they went to bed. Daddy is working tomorrow and so I figured that an early night for us all was in order! Anyway, I didn't want to not wish you all a Happy New Year, so I created this for you all!

Digital ecard personalized with Smilebox