Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Celebrating Easter

This year was the first year of introducing Seren to Easter 'proper'.
Of getting involved in our local Church activities and making family time special.
We crammed lots into our four days.

These are our highlights:

Music credit: The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun"

Monday, 21 April 2014

"The Carrot Cake Catrastrophe!" A #review with Parragon Book Buddies

With Seren becoming an independent reader, our book collection inadvertently separate into "Books which Seren reads" and "Books which mummy reads".
Mummy's books are usually distinguished by font or duration.
As I love books which are a journey for both of us, I love the books which we can cwtch up and read together.
Those books are ones which Seren realises she can't read alone, but wants to enough to accept support, and avoid the 'laziness' of letting mummy reading them.

"The Carrot Cake Catastrophe", by Elizabeth Dale & Gemma Raynor, is one which naturally falls in the 'inbetween'. Seren understands that it is a story, but also sees it as her receipe book. 
Associating with the Grampy reliant on spectacles, loving the baking which she enjoys so much.

Seren loved the illustrations by Gemma Raynor, identifying out the ingredients and humour.
We have yet to make the cake (Secret: Mummy hates carrots, loves carrot cake, but can't bear acknowledging the contradiction by baking it).
The good news is Seren is going from strength to strength reading the book, and seeking support when the words are unknown.
And we have giggles every time- which can only be a good thing!

Disclosure: We recieved a copy of this book for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views expressed are our own.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Blog Your Heart Out

So, in a few weeks I might just get to meet the awesome Trouble Doubled - someone whom I have known since the early days of blogging, and now thanks to her tag- you get to read this post!

So, now you get the answers, to the questions she is making me think about!
Note: she will always make you think!

Who or what encouraged you to start blogging?
It was obviously a moment of inspiration, so much so I can barely remember it.
I was using the TAMBA forum quite a bit when I was on maternity leave with Tom & Seb. I think a couple of parents had begun blogging and after exploring, and finding some fantastic blogs.
Well, it seemed like a good idea.
Oddly, I had set up a blog a year earlier for a #365 photography project. Which lasted a day.
I therefore like to think my blog now represents continuous improvement!

How did you choose what to blog about?
I'd like to think I distinguished. My blog was, and remains, verbal diarrhoea. Or, as I like to think of it, my online diary.
I started, just blogging about life as a mum of three. Which remains. But now. Now, I am a better baker (the blog is a great record of this). Now, my children are three years older. After Easter, the maternity leave that motivated my blog becomes a memory- as Tom and Seb start school. Ouch.

What is something most people don't know about you?
What a tip my office is.
I am organised by trade, I am a programme manager. It's not negotiable.
I was a mum of three under-two's. To not plan was to not leave the house.
And yet, like my childhood, my own space is chaos.
My mum hated it. Not only was it, in her eyes, a mess- but infuriatingly I could lay my hands on anything I needed. It remains that way.
People assume I keep an organised, tidy desk.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What three words describe your style?
Based on the last response:
An Organised Mess.

What do you love to do when you are not blogging?
I am usually doing two things when I'm not working: holding down the day job or spending time with my family. I am guessing it's obvious which one I love.
As well as being with Mr J and the little people, I have also begun Zumba, and I love this 'me time'- school holidays get in the way, which reinforce the need for a teeny bit of me, away from work and home.

Who wants to be tagged?
I tag......
Keep Up With The Jones Family
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Mum of Three Boys
Tiaras and Tantrums

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spring Cake Pops - Let's make a rainbow

Cake pops in our house are a staple.
I invested in a cake pop machine from Lakeland, so I could offer my little people bite size pieces of cakes, rather than cope with the crumbs of pieces of cake needing to be hoovered up.
And so, cake pops generally just get served like this:
Being able to make something special is always a treat, so when Renshaw's sent us some colour melts to create a Spring treat, well, with my daughter it didn't take long...
 "Coch a melyn a fioled a glas, Porffor ac oren a gwyrdd. Dyma lliwiau enfys, Lliwiau enfys, Lliwiau enfys hardd."
And so mummy went to work.
With lots of little hands helping along the way.
April Showers.
New Beginnings.
Fresh Hope.

A Rainbow.
And so we made our usual sponge mix:

Four eggs, weighed (far more than needed- the children eat lots of pops along the way).
The same weight in caster sugar, baking margarine, and self raising flour.
With a splash of vanilla essence (probably 1.5 tsps).

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at at a time, and mix.
Gradually add the flour.
Add the vanilla essence and mix.

Warm up your cake pop machine.
Lightly coat with sunflower oil.
Add 3/4 tsp of the cake batter per 'pop'
Close the machine and leave for four minutes.
Leave to cool.

We used the Renshaw Colour Melts as per the directions.
(For all but the blue ones, where the children had been playing 'shop' and at some point during the checkout an accident had occurred. We used a bowl. Conclusion: the tubs are far more effective.).

And so, after the melt set, we created our rainbow.
With a shoe box from Mr J's new squash pumps,
And serviettes from the boys birthday.
Creating some new.
Creating Happy.
Disclosure: We received a Renshaw's Spring Bundle for the purposes of creating this post.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Getting away from it all at Ogmore

As last week closed, it became obvious this working week was not going to be a good one.
Whilst it might only have lasted three days, it has managed to eat away at the last month.
Questioning. Intruding. Becoming that 'voice' on your shoulder which questions now everything you have done and continue to do.

And so, as it ate away at our weekend, Tuesday impending.
So, we got into the car on Monday, on the understanding I had to get away from anything associated with it.
The type of day where your office being in your home is not helpful.
And so we ended up at Ogmore.
My favourite beach from my childhood.
And whilst Barry Island may be on our door step.
Ogmore offers adventure.
The chance to escape.
Armed with a picnic, a blanket, buckets and spades.
We became free for the afternoon.

To explore rock pools.
 To dig for water.
 To sail boats.
 To have fun.

 To be free.

As we drove home we discussed the practicalities of moving to Ogmore.

And, whilst it might seem perfect.

Where would we go to escape?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Creating an Easter Tree

This year, I have enjoyed getting the children involved in the run up to Easter.
To understand it's more than a day you wake up to chocolate eggs.

I decided to create an Easter tree, both for my own craft experiment, but also to get Seren involved.

We started early with a batch of small polystyrene eggs, some sequins and pins.
They make a wonderful contrast... albeit they were a little bit to teeny for a five year old.
Next we went with the awesome eggs we had seen so much of on Facebook and Pinterest. We of course made far too much of a mess of it, and our use of paste was 'excessive', but as the boys had also got involved it was more than fun.
 And they looked fantastic (albeit, not as transparent as we were aiming for).
After popping to Hobbycraft and investing in some medium and large polystyrene eggs, Seren and I had a lot more success in creating both button eggs together, and Seren experimenting with pens, paint, glue, glitter and sand.
 I carried on experimenting with ribbon, and before we knew it...  
And we are proud of our Easter tree.
Complete with cards from nursery and school.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory ... with biscuits!

There are days you take your route to work.
You arrive at work and have no idea how it happened.

And yet, you know, if it happened to you, this would stay with you.
That, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the hit West End musical and Biscuiteers, supported by Tate & Lyle, have recreated the chocolate factory in biscuit form in the main window of Waterstones flagship shop in Piccadilly.

The 6m x 1.7m edible chocolate biscuit installation, based on the Olivier-nominated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical stage set, was designed and created by Biscuiteers and unveiled by Willy Wonka and Charlie on 8th April.
The entire chocolate factory has been lovingly recreated so that passers-by can look through this extraordinary 3D structure into each room and see Augustus Gloop being sucked in to the chocolate river in the chocolate room, Violet Beauregarde blowing up into a blueberry in the inventing room, Veruca Salt being thrown down the rubbish chute in the nut room and Mike Teavee being shrunk in the television room.

It took Biscuiteers 300 hours to design, bake, build and decorate this edible Chocolate Factory made using over 100kg of biscuit dough and 200kg Tate & Lyle sugar. The display will remain in the branch for four weeks.
Cast members, Charlie and Willy Wonka, unveiled the window display on 8th April and members of the hit show’s cast will read extracts from Dahl’s original story in the Piccadilly branch later in the month.

60 x 60cm versions of the edible chocolate factory will be on display in Waterstones shops in Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Greenwich, Chiswick, King’s Road, Richmond, Hampstead and Kensington.

Other elements of the partnership will involve the installation of a pair of Wonka factory gates into the children’s section of Waterstones Piccadilly, as well as a series of fun Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed family events.
And so, 2014, fifty years since Roald Dahl’s best-loved tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the devilish Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Mr Willy Wonka has become firmly embedded in our culture, having (twice) been reimagined for the cinema, as an opera and, in 2013, as a hit West End musical. Conservative estimates suggest the original book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide; it is currently available in 55 languages.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has quickly become one of the West End’s most popular and successful stage musicals.
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