Friday, January 31, 2014

Digger Themed Party

So James has decided he likes diggers better than tractors, therefore we are going to have a digger themed party.

Here are a few ideas so far.

Black and yellow balloons.
Digger fabric bunting (I've been meaning to make some for his room).
Finger food (served in his dump trucks).
Digger related food??
Pin the bucket on the digger (homemade).
Pass the parcel.
Bucket and spade party bag.
Cardboard box diggers.

Can't think of anything else at the moment.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lemon Meringue Cakes

I fancied baking today, so James an I set to and made these delicious Lemon Meringue Cakes. I sure if you google it there might be a better recipe but this was off the top of my head and there are lovely.

Basic sponge.
3 eggs
150g butter
150g self raising flour
150g sugar
Zest 1 lemon
Juice half a lemon.

Meringue topping
1 egg white
Table spoon caster sugar

Lemon curd filling.

Make the sponge. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and flour. When mixed add the lemon zest and juice. It makes about 16 small fairy cakes.

When they are cooked and cool. Carefully with a knife remove a scoop of the sponge from the middle, add a bit of lemon curd, then replace the top.

Mix the egg white and castered sugar until stiff. Dollop some on the top of each cake and fluffy it up into peaks. Sprinkle a little caster sugar or icing over the top. Cook until brown.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Penny at Nine months

Today Penny is nine months old, to be honest I probably wouldn't have realised but the health visitor came to do her 8 month review and mentioned it.
She past her review with flying colours, complete with smiles and a bit of chatter. James was a little concerned at first, telling John that Penny didn't want to see the doctor.

So my little baby is no longer that little. Her 6 month baby grows are beginning to stretch at the seams and she no longer likes me to spoon feed her, causing a tug of war between me, her and normally a spoon full of food.

She is curious about everything at the moment. Nappy changing has become a wiggly pain as she strains to escape. Penny is now crawlling at top speed, we are having to nip about to keep up with her. She now and has been for a few months pulling herself up and standing, grabbing at anything in arms reach. She gave me a panic last week as she managed to pull over a cup of coffee, thank goodness it was cold, but it has left a rather unsightly stain on my cream carpet.

You give her a wave and she waves back. She loves me singing nursery rhymes and songs to the radio. She quick to give you a smile and often giggles randomly. She seems to has grow attached to a soft doll, Molly Dollie. I often find her curled up in bed with it in her arms. Both Penny and James sleep like me, on the side with my chin in the air. My favourite moments are when James purposely acts silly and falls down or spins round to make her laugh. What she is upset he tell her not to worry, when we are in the car he tell her we are nearly there.

Penny isn't sleeping very well at the moment, both John and I are running on empty. She has been ill for the last few days, that an a combination of teething and us being mean parents and taking her dummy away, has left her unsettled.

She is mummmmm and babababa away. Not sure if it can be classified as her first word or just a noise.

I can't believe how quickly she has grown up and how much she has changed. We have so much to look forward to.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ditching the dummy fail.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about Penny going without her dummy. Three months on and she is still sucking away. We did try and for a few nights and she did go dummy free, though she didn't like it. There have been a number of reasons why we failed.

1) For the last few months both John and I have been ill and it is only now that we both feel we have got the energy back to face up to the task again.

2) Penny is teething and as a result a bit grisly.

3) She also has had a terrible cold.

4) We were worried she would disturb James while settling herself to sleep.

5) Laziness on our part.

I recently read this article from parent dish, nine ways to wean your baby off its dummy. It has made me feel so much better about our attempt. It has also given me the inclination to have another go now she is feeling better.!slide=aol_1004430

We have began by not having the dummy around during the day. We noticed that if it is downstairs she mades a beeline for it. Now it stays in her bedroom, she doesn't seem to have missed it. Next step is to go cold turkey.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cake Cake Cake

Cake I made for Hollys birthday. Was very easy to create and one I would definatly do again. I took the idea from cake decorating magazine. This is how I managed it. I should have taken pictures of each step but I completing forgot.

I first made a Victoria sponge and covered it with fondant icing. While the icing was soft I stamped it which the flower stamp. I have to press on quite hard and going round the corners was tricky.
I make a bowl of royal icing, seperated and coloured it yellow, pink and orange.
Using my smallest piping nozzel I piped round a few of the outline of petals (not down the middle). Using a small wet paint brush I brushed the piping into the petal and down the flower. After I finshed the flower I piped around the flower again.

It was very relaxing to do and I'm very pleased with result. I was disappointed in how the fondant icing came out, it have air bubbles in it. I'm not sure how I can get rid of them and every sponge cake I ice seem to have them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Competition Overload

Oh dear. I think I might have a problem. Over the last 6 weeks I've found myself become additive to online competitions. I can't stop myself from entering, rafflecopters, quizzes,  blog comments and big prizes. I just can't stop. The moment my 2 are tucked up for a nap, the tablet comes out and I'm tapping away, willing myself to win just one thing.
Unfortunately,  lady luck does not seem to be on my side. I've had a few mini wins which are enough to keep me wanting more. So far I've won a childrens book, bottle of Aussie shampoo, 2 teddies, and a hairdryer.
Over the next few weeks I'm head back to work, so hopefully the addiction will come to an natural end, either that or I might win a fortune and retire.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Asda Car Seat Unsafe

I have just found out that the car seat I purchased for my son 2 years ago has failed safety tests by consumer advice website Which?

The Asda Nania Trio Plus is suitable from groups 0/1/2. It was in tests for group 2, where the adult seatbelt is used across the childs body that the car seat scored 0. Luckly my son is still using the 5 point harness (group 1), though this didn't score very highly.
As a good will gesture Asda are willing to exchange the car seat for a newer model or offer a refund. Which I think is really good of them. Guess where I'm going on Friday.

I have included a link for the Which? report and Asda's advice if you have a car seat of this type. Apparently it also affect a Kiddicare  Maxi SP car seat as well and people are advised to contact Kiddicare who will offer a exchange or refund.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

If you go down to the woods today beware of the Gruffalo.

We are going on a Gruffalo hunt. We are going to catch a big one.

Yesterday we decided we needed to blow away the cobwebs and get outside. So we/I wrapped up in as many layers we could find,  grabbed our wellies on and headed to the woods (Snipe Dales) with the intention of finding a Gruffalo.
My sister had printed off pictures from the Gruffalo book and hid them around the woods. Armed with buckets, sticks and a big bag of Haribo off we set. Col reciting the book as we went. The kids soon got into the swing of it, racing each other to collect the pictures first. Tired legs and bumps from falling over trees and in mud were soon forgotten about with a quick administration of Haribo. Sticks (the bigger the better) were there to poke frozen puddles, leaves, holes and each other. Buckets quickly filled important things like leaves, stones, galls, and in James case any litter he found.
I have forgotten how nice it is to go out and just let James and Marley explore and play. They quite happily entertained themselves looking at world around them taking their time going at their own pace. It did us all the world of good. A really nice day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Birthday Party Envy

So in a months time James turns 3. We are planning to have a little party at home with about 6 children his age, party bags, pass the parcel and generally running amok. All good, straight forward and relatively cheap.

However, my sister little boy who also turns 3 five days before James, is having a huge Thomas the Tank party for all his class, in the village hall, complete with bouncy castle.
I'm not jealous of the party because I can't see the point of spending all that money. I do feel sorry for James, I'm worried he will think he has missed out and he will expect the same for his birthday.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jessica (with little arms).

So in a month and a half James turns 3. So my thoughts have turned toward his birthday party and present. Though I don't think my house can cope with any more toys, we seem to be bursting at the seams at the moment.

As James has started nursery I'm hoping this year he might have a few friends to invite, rather than just family like other years. When I ask him about children he plays with he doesn't know any of their names.
Until yesterday, when I discover that his best friend is Jessica. Jessica with little arms apparently. There 2 Jessicas in his room and I'm left wondering if the other Jessica has super long arms. I also need to find out her surname, I can't put Jessica (with little arms) on the invite. This has kept me amused all day.
Today we had progress with another little girl, Paige. They spent the entire time playing together and holding hands. When she left we had tears from James because he didn't kiss her goodbye, slightly odd behaviour in his behalf.

Oh and it turns out Jessica is one of the younger children in his room at nursery and James helps her reach the toy cooker.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Top 5 Favourite Childrens Picture Books

1) Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.

Delightful book which has flaps that hides the animals. Encouragages the child to join in with animal noises. Also very short to read, a good one for when you are in a hurry.

2) Is it Bedtime Yet Wibbly Pig? by Mick Inkpen

Lovely book where Wibbly is doing everything he can to put off going to bed (sounds familiar). This was one of the first books James was able say along with.

3) Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Classic story which has a good rhyming pattern and repeatition to help your child to read along. It is beauifully illustrated and the story is amusing.

4) The Very Hungery Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This book I remember enjoying as a child. I find the illustrations a little dated but James loves this book. It helps him with his counting and we are now using it to help him learn the days of the week. We make the mistake of buying the paper version, this didn't last long as James kept sticking his fingers through the holes.

5) Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

In the run up to Christmas this book became a firm favourite in our house. It is set out like a comic book and each page is bursting with beautiful drawings illustrating what Father Christmas gets up to on Christmas Eve. Every time we read this book we find something new within the pictures, Father Christmas on the toilet causes much amusment. Because there are so few words you can make this story your own and James is able to enjoy looking at it by himself.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Catalyst Science Museum

Recently we went to Chester for the weekend. On the way home we visited Catalyst Science Museum which is on the banks of the river Mersey.
It looked promising from the leaflet I picked up in Chester. It offered a 3d film experience, along with a range for activities ranging from making soap to bath bombs. Obviously, as it is January we were expecting limited activities. However, there was none on offer, nor was the 3d film on. Quite disappointing.

James, though, really enjoyed his day, there were loads of hands on buttons to press, lights to move round and computers to play with. He really enjoyed making a foam bridge which, with some trepidation, he was able to walk across.

I enjoyed the views across the Mersey from the observation floor.
Both John and I enjoyed the puzzle room, though it did feel a little like a school challange. I think we mainly liked it because we are highly competitive and were trying to beat each other.
I have to say I've been to much better Science Museums. Catalyst seems dated and we all left not actually learning anything new. Not I place I would visit again but on a cold and rainy Sunday with 2 small children it kept them entertained.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

New Year clear out.

After the extravagance of Christmas and New Year, I have decided to the a sort out of mind, body and the house, much to the dismay of James and John.

House: Currently, due to the influx of Christmas toys, my living room looks like a nursery.  Walking from one side to the other is like an obstacle course And I keep losing Penny in the clutter. So, much to James' annoyance his new toys are gradually creeping upstair and being put away. However,  much to my annoyance James is sneaking them down again. Thankfully due to me having larger hands and not having to walk upstairs using the banister, I'm winning and the living room is slowly becoming more bearable.

Body: Everyone over indulges over the festive periods, but I worked out the other day that we as a family have not had fresh veg for over a week. Cheese and biscuits are not an acceptable meal.  James has got into the habbit of asking to eat tea on the sofa or his digger while watching TV. So the Christmas chocolate have been hidden and tomorrow I'm off shopping for veg. Homecooking to back on the menu.

Mind: 2014 sees me returning to work. So I need to get my bum in gear and sort myself out. This includes ringing schools I previously worked for and telling them I'm back. Organising my resources ready for those days when you are faced with 30 children and no lesson plans. Finally getting myself into the habbit of getting up in the mornings, something I have always struggled with.

With these in mind and my New Year resolution of making more effort, we or I'm going to have a busy few weeks. I wonder how long it will last.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Rock On Boots

I love, love love these. So much so I (shock, horror) bought them.

These are my bargain boots from Debenhams for £13. I'm thinking that they would look great with legging, woolly socks and a cute dress. They also match my new funky handbag which I got for Christmas.

Shhhhh just don't tell John, he thinks I have faf too many shoes.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Great Potty Bribe

Over the Summer we knuckled down to the business of potty training.
Unfortunately,  James just didn't get it. After months of trying, he couldn't understand when he needed to go. So for the sake of James, myself and the carpet we decided to have a break and try again a fresh in the new year.

So it starts again. This time it already seems more positive.
A bit of back story to the bribe. For Christmas, James received a remote controlled bulldozer from Grandad. On the back of the box were pictures of other toys in the range. James is saving for a grabber crane thing. Everytime he uses his potty he has a coin to go in him piggy bank. Between the Christmas money he got the birthday money he will get in February and the pennies he is saving by using the potty. He will soon have enough saved. At the moment he is very eager to save his pennies. So much so we had tears whike we were away because he wanted to buy a Peppa Pig comic but also wanted to save his money. It may seem harsh to make him buy his own comic (we don't always) but he needs to begin to understand that things cost money and about saving.
As a result of this bribe so far (fingers crossed, touch wood) our carpets are puddle free.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas present in Chester

This weekend the family visited Chester. John treated me as a Christmas present. It is a place I have always wanted to go and I wasn't disappointed.

The Christmas lights and trees were still up, which made the streets look beautiful. Our hotel was opposite the Roman amphitheatre so we had a great view of it and the river from the window. James loved clambering about on the stones (takes after his Dad) and was fascinated by the thought of lions being there.

We all enjoyed the early morning walk along the river and crossing the suspension bridge. People had placed locks with their and their sweethearts names engraved on them on the bridge. Quite sweet really. The walk ended with a big fat fry up at the Cafe on the Wall.

The Rows (Tutor style shops which had two levels) were lovely. It was pleasent looking round the Rows, climbing the different levels, peering in shops that sold gorgeous things that I could never afford.

We also had time to visit Deva Roman Museum.  Deva was the Roman name for Chester. It was OK, I think it could have been better. James liked it, as there was a hands on area upstairs. I enjoyed looking at the different finds from archeological digs in the area. There was a part of a dig in the cellar, but you couldn't see much.

We also visited the cathedral.  I was impressed that there was no charge, but a donation, unlike many cathedrals we visit. There was a a display of beautifully lit Christmas trees around the quad. The cathedral was stunning inside. We were luck enough to visit while the choir was practising. I could have quite happily sat listening to them all day.

Chester also has the most complete city wall in the UK. We were constantly up and down on it, using it as a way to walk round the city. It was handy as when James was beginning to get fed up of walking he woukd quite happily walk on the wall.

I would love to go back again. Maybe without the children, not that they were a pain, on the contrary,  they were very well behaved, but it would be nice to go and have a romantic break there. To treat ourselves in the champagne and chocolate cafe and have a beautiful meal that didn't come with a colouring book. Maybe when they are older.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Cake Flops. I mean pops.

As stated in the previous post, that amongst all my Christmas goodies was a cake pop kit. So I decided to channel my inner Jane Asher and have a pop at making some. Armed with my pretty pink silicon pop mould, Victoria sponge batter and a rather poor instruction book, I dreamt I would be turning up at my sister's party tomorrow with arm fulls of delicately iced treats.

This is what I aimed to achieve.
I started off well.
However, due to an inbalance of cake mixture my pops had a flat bottom. I thought I would be able to disguise it with the decoration.

The finished result.
Not quite what I was aiming for. These were the best, the rest refused the stay on the sticks and slid down them rather pathetically. Penny and John enjoyed eating the dregs. I'm too ashamed to take them to Cols tomorrow (hangs head in shames).