Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Great Festive Bake Off Blog Tour! #SnowmanSnowdog

We had a fantastic opportunity to receive and review some Snowman and the Snowdog products, a popular Christmas item for many families any Christmas! I know I always loved watching it as a child and you can get the chance to again this Christmas with his new companion as the Snowman and the Snowdog will be shown on Channel 4 again this Christmas.

We received a beautiful 'The snowman book' hardback deluxe edition, £12.99 from puffin books. Perfect for story telling and for letting your child's imagination run free, and a chance to reminisce for the parent's too! This would make a wonderful present, or a treat for the family before Christmas if you can't wait until the 25th! A large book as it measure approx 24 x 29cm and is full of illustrations in the style of the original film.

 Unfortunately our chocolate that was sent to review didn't have the best ride in the post by the looks of him! The poor snowman got a little broken!

However here is a photo of him in one piece, and he still tasted delicious as you'd expect from Thornton's chocolate. There is a whole range available on their website and in store.

Now I will admit, I do find it hard to get overly festive until after Sam's birthday on the 9th of Dec as he is the last out of us 4 (we have all 4 of our birthday's between 20th Nov and 9th of Dec!!!), and I will also admit to slightly being a bit bored of baking after my mammoth bake last week, but it was fun none the less and made a yummy pudding for us all!

The boys had a good time making the biscuits, and using our Snowman and Snowdog cutters to make the shapes. We used the recipe on the back of the cookie cutter packaging which was a little sticking to roll so we did have to add a bit extra flour to help. The cookie cutters are great and are available in John Lewis and Party Delights for around £3.

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat oven to 180C.
Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, mix. 
Add butter, mix, stir in the sugar. 
Lightly beat egg and syrup together and mix with the other ingredients.
Knead dough until smooth and cover and put in the fridge for approx 15mins. 
Roll dough to about 0.5cm thick and cut out shapes. 
Place on baking paper on a tray and cook for around 12-15 mins. 

After they cooled, and we'd finished our dinner I got our icing and decorations out, we each decorated a Snowman and Snowdog and then I let the boys run wild with the rest which they found fantastic- I will admit I can be a tad OCD when baking with kids, I just can't handle it so I think they were enjoying no panicky and fussy mum!
Alex's aged 6
Sam's aged 3 (nearly)

My attempt, we had no black icing so had to improvise which makes them clown like!
The boy's creations together! 
As this is a blogtour it would only be fair to mention who is next, please check out Jenny's blog tomorrow for her #SnowmanSnowdog post. Search #SnowmanSnowdog on twitter to find all the posts so far too

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Friday, 27 November 2015

Superhero party at home fit for my 6 year old (games and ideas)

So last Friday my eldest baby turned 6, and yes I say this every year but where did that time go?

He has flown through his first year at school and now we are almost at the Christmas nativity (in which he is one of many shepherds)!

Alex has a thirst for information and since I bought an Usbourne Atlas book for him for Christmas he has loved Geography and also finding out which things are in which country which is really great and nice to see he wants to have knowledge of it all too.

Being a typical 6 year old boy he is also in to many typical boy things like lego and superheroes so there wasn't really much surprise when he asked for me to make an Iron man cake for his birthday-I did however persuade him that making the whole of iron man would be a bit tricky and that just his face would be a lot better ;) for my cake tutorial please check in this weekend...

With money being usually tight I knew we couldn't afford a 'proper' party this year as they are just so expensive, but luckily Alex just wanted a party at home, great I thought until we saw the list of people he wanted. The thought of 16 kids in the house with just myself, mum and James to control them was a little un-nerving but we got there!

It was chaos and they were hyper but we did have some vague plans and times at which to do it! Pinterest as always was invaluable! (Here's my board for the party for more ideas).

I had spent hours making lots of super hero masks using these templates. I think I made about 20 so they had a choice and to leave extras in case any went wrong or got lost. I used cereal boxes and then covered in coloured paper, this would be a lot quicker if you have thick coloured card (I just tried to make it as cheap as I could for myself using bits we already had)!

Alex's mask
I went onto Baker Ross to find they have some super hero stickers and tattoos, I also needed star stickers, sticky back gems and elastic for the masks, they also sold glow sticks which I needed for a game and for the party bags.

They came in and made their masks straight away-this actually didn't take as long as I had hoped it would ;)

As some were finishing up their masks they gradually all queued up to play pin the badge on batman. I'd just cut a large black piece of paper up in a rough batman shape and used yellow paper to make the badges and stuck double sided foam shapes on the back.

After that Alex wanted to play traditional games such as musical bumps and statues which they all really liked as most kids that age do.

Then we played the game 3 corners (usually 4 corners but it was in our lounge so had to cut one corner out due to space) I placed a super hero in each of the three corners, the music played and they danced in the middle, when it stopped they ran to one of the corners whilst I had 3 pictures of the super heroes behind my back and picked one-whoever is on that person are out and you just play on until there is one left.

Then I manically got some of the food sorted that couldn't be done until last minute whilst they played this game, which my husband said they loved. They sat down on the floor in a circle and I got a bunch of 6 green glow sticks taped together and we called it kryptonite (which kills superman if I am correct). Basically they pass this around to music like pass the parcel, but whoever landed with the kryptonite was out and instead of waiting around they came into the kitchen to get their food. This worked really well as meant there weren't 16 kids all around the table choosing their food at the exact same time. James said it was quite hard to get to a winner so the last two spilt the 6 green glow sticks to keep in their party bags.

As we had so many children and have so few chairs in our house we put out picnic rugs on our kitchen floor for them to eat on, surprisingly they really didn't make too much mess and they also had very healthy appetites, I am not sure the school fed them lunch that day!!

We did a typical party buffet of pizza, sausage and cheese rolls, sandwiches, cheese and pineapple, crisps, bread-sticks, cucumber and carrots. After their savouries we sang our happy birthday's and then moved onto dessert.

I'd made a traffic light jelly, and made plenty of cupcakes, I'd bought super hero toppers for them on eBay which Alex loved, I also put out some biscuits of party rings and chocolate fingers!

After the food we played a quick game with some t shirts and balloons, Alex and two others who he chose wore James' and my old tops and we had blown up plenty of balloon (really small) and the kids had to fill the tops up to make them look muscular like super heroes. This was a fun game but it did get rather hectic so would may be better with slightly fewer children!
I loved how Alex ended up looking
After that we had about 10/15 minutes to spare and we were reaching the end of our tether slightly as they were bouncing off the walls, James put his projector on in the playroom and they started watching The Incredibles until their parents arrived-they were sat down so quietly for this and it actually worked out really well for pick up time too as we just called them out with their parent was there.

Alex had a great party, and although hectic there were no problems and for the most part the kids did behave (James did however move his TV upstairs after it nearly being knocked a few times in the first few minutes!), I am hoping next year Alex will choose slightly less children though ;) As ever my mum who works in a nursery was the best of help too, don't know how I would do it without her help!

We had our family over literally straight after so I didn't get to sit down until late at night and then couldn't sleep until gone 2.30am, Sam delightfully woke me at 6.30 too...! The next few days we spent building and playing new Lego sets mainly as he was so lucky and had lots of new sets along with lots of other cool gifts too! I would say that's all the birthday's over for a while but it was mine yesterday, James' on the 3rd and Sam's on the 9th Dec!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Planning a super hero party

So Alex turns 6 in just under 4 weeks!

Not sure where those years have gone!!

Anyway I must be mad as the invite have gone out to 15 children saying to come here for a party at our house on his birthday! Ouch, wine will be drank after it! We just couldn't afford a 'proper' party and there is no way I am spending £200+ on a party even if I had the money! Luckily Alex did only want people at ours anyway.

I am starting to panic slightly on how I will actually cope with it, I have roped in my Mum (an expert with children after working in a nursery for many years!) and have told James he has to be home to help too!

So a house party like this needs much forward planning, he wants to have it Avengers/superhero themed so pinterest was my first stop for ideas!

Lots of them are from American sites where they have huge house and back yards with lovely weather, obviously a party in November doesn't have that luxury so I had to be quite selective!

Here's some of my ideas I have found so far on my board.

I think to begin with I will get them to decorate a mask, as you can quite often be waiting for people to turn up which makes party games slightly more difficult. I just need to decide whether to use some of my felt supplies, or just stick to card...

Then I think I will do 'pin the star on captain America's sheild' or pin 'Batman's logo on his body'.

Before food I think I might snatch this idea I found, pass the kryptonite (green glow stick) and then whoever ends up with it gets out and then gets ready to sit down for food. It also saves buying a present for pass the parcel too which is a winner in my eyes!

There are some fab other games too but not sure I can cope with them with lots of kiddies in a confined space we shall see, Alex wants to play musical statues etc too so I am sure we will.

Alex wants an iron man cake, I have discouraged him wanting the full iron man so he has agreed to just have the face...must save I am a little nervous about doing it so any tips greatly received!!

I may make this punch box so they can grab their party bags before they leave in a bit of a hulk smash kind of way...

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A family holiday in the south of France (and day in Monaco)

Our summer holiday seems like a distant memory-the 30+ degree hear certainly does!! And yes I am writing about summer holidays in the October half term!!

Just after the school term finished we set off early on the Friday morning to get the Ferry to Calais-a little bit apprehensive as to whether we would have to wait for ages due the problems in Calais, but luckily we were early and they had space on the earlier Ferry. It was a long journey with the two boys (one with chicken pox in full anger too) down to nearly Dijon but we made it to our over night stop without any problems.

Our over night stop Hotel Hermes was great for what we needed it for, the restaurant on site was lovely and if we had been earlier there was even a small outdoor pool to cool down and relax in. I would definitely recommend it-although beware the rooms are very hot-no air con and the fan wasn't powerful-I did have to duck out at 12.30am to get medicine for Sam out of the car as the heat was really aggravating his chicken pox bless him-eventually he and I got to sleep!

We took things a bit too steady the following morning as both my Dad and James were tired from the drive the day before. Had we have known it was the French national factory two week shut down we may have left earlier. We weren't quite so lucky with the journey down that day, with the sat nav being stuck on 5 hours for a very, very long time out of about a 7 hour journey and taking a detour through the Alps due to an accident on the road we needed.

Edge of the Alps-one advantage to the detour
Eventually we arrived at the campsite in St Raphael around 7.30pm. We were staying in one of the canvas mobile homes along with my parents and one of my brothers. It was a bit of a tight space for all of us if I am honest but it was the only way we could go on holiday as my parents paid for the accommodation. None the less, the mobile home had everything we needed, and had air con in the lounge area which was needed in the 34c heat!

The campsite was probably the largest I have stayed on, but it wasn't noisy and I think you get some of the best facilities on the larger campsites. The pool area was fantastic, one extra large and really deep pool (which you were actually allowed to dive and jump into!), one slightly smaller pool with one tube slide, and the children's splash zone which is the best children's area I have seen on a campsite.

At the park- after a swim!

Enjoying the park as he wasn't able to swim due to chicken pox

The boys, especially Alex would have spent the whole holiday in the pool I think, and had we had been on holiday longer than a week I think he would have been able to swim a width of the pool (as unfortunately I can't afford lessons for him). It was so fantastic to see them having such fun in the pool, I think we all needed it to cool off and it was great to see how confident they had become in the water.

Although I have been lucky enough to go to France many times over my childhood years I have never been to this area before, and it really was beautiful. I wish we had explored more, but the 6 days we spent there went so quickly, I'd love to go back, maybe in May or Oct when it isn't quite as hot as it was a bit too hot to wander around and explore!

Sunset by our caravan one night

We had quite a chilled out holiday, a visit to the local beach, ice creams, a few meals out, one market, local towns, and a trip to Aqua Land with my aunt, uncle and 3 cousins who joined us on holiday on the Tuesday. Alex loved Aqua Land, for a boy who is scared of heights, stairs with gaps and not overly confident in water he was in his element, I didn't recognise the boy flying down slides by himself!!

Agay beach
We took a coastal drive one afternoon, such stunning views and some really amazing properties! Had we not have had the boys with us we would have pulled up along of the cliff/beaches that you could only walk to, I am sure it would have been quite perfect!

Views from the coastal drive
We also took a day trip to Monaco which was a nightmare to get to, we were originally going to get the train from Nice as thoguht the boys would love the fast train ride. After a hairy wait with some street people washing our windscreen at at set of traffic lights and then demanding money )after us saying no to the wash!), wiggling our way around the streets to find the station car park, Sam having a almost diarrhoea poo in the car park (in a nappy thankfully), rushing down to the station, to come across a huge queue and the train we needed to get arriving in 5 mins, with the following one being more than an hour later, we decided against it (and breathe that was a long sentence)! The only problem was there was tonnes of traffic getting out!

Eventually we made it, and it was pretty amazing, and definitely a glimpse into how the other half live! Alex and I really hate their car-parks though, underground, no air and winding and bending didn't help our claustrophobia much! It was such a hot day so it day make it hard work getting about, all we wanted was a drink! We met up with my Aunt and her family (my parents went here last Oct so stayed near the campsite) and headed up to the palace, there are some really great views from up here so well worth the walk it is also so pristine it almost looks like it isn't real, it's so surreal!

We also found the tourist train which was a great relief for our hot and tired bodies (and to entertain the boys) and also a good way to view everything relatively quickly with headphones to listen and tell you what you can see in many different languages (thanks to Sam pressing the button a lot when I was trying to listen! It follows some of the race track and also head up to Monte Carlo casino.

The holiday was soon over as soon as we got there really, it went by far too quickly and if we were to do that again we would definitely stay for at least 10 days as far too long to travel down for just under a week really. The journey back home was much easier as didn't really get held up in traffic, although it would have been a very different story going down to the south of France as the other side of the motorway was chock-a-block! Unfortunately James did a bit (a lot) of damage in the campanile carpark the morning we made our way to the Ferry. He managed to run over a rock which was next to our parking space creating about 4 grand of repairs (so insurance sky high next year)!!

Happy on the Ferry home
On the Ferry home
 I would definitely like to go back to this area one day, just without the major heat as I just melt and get a bit grouchy, we all had a great time and it was so, so nice to get some proper sun and enjoy a pool too :)

Monday, 26 October 2015

Quick half term boredom buster: craft-tissue paper canvas art

So we actually did this in the summer holidays but of course I am a bit behind on the blogging front!

This is a really easy and quick craft, but it can get a little messy on the table/surface so maybe cover it with something throw-able or wipe-able.

What you need:
-Tissue paper (varying colours)

What you need to do:
-Rip the tissue paper into whatever shape and size you'd like
-Place wherever you want it on the canvas.
-'Paint' the tissue paper with water
-Cover the whole canvas, wait to dry and peel on tissue paper.

The boys loved doing this, I just had to guide Sam a bit as he kept layering on the exact same spot!

Once it was all dry I stamped this quote I found on pinterest (which is a Walt Disney one). It still isn't hung anywhere yet mind you! It's been leaning in the playroom where I want it to be hung for some time now!

Hope you enjoy this cheap, easy and fast craft with the kids :)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

1st Anniversary fun

I know, I know I have not posted for ages, yet again!

I have been busy making for my business, and keeping the two boys somewhat occupied over the holidays, and also going on holiday ourselves too (which I also need to blog).

The weekend before last was a busy one, I was bridesmaid for one of my bridesmaids a year before (literally-the same Saturday)!

I've known her since reception so nearly 21 years, which just makes me feel old writing, that. It was a wonderful day, celebrating our friend's special day and seeing some faces I had not seen for a while. Growing up her family was almost my second family and vice versa!

They were super lucky with the weather too as it was such a gorgeous and sunny day!

Both the boys were super party animals, Sam staying awake until 9.30 and then crashing out along 3 chairs, sleeping through the rock band they had playing all night! And Alex, well he was still awake past midnight chatting away to some of James' old school friends!!


So after all the celebrating, we were all feeling a little delicate the morning after (despite us not really drinking as we aren't massive drinkers), but it was a special morning none the less as it was out 1st anniversary.

It is crazy how fast the year has flown by, it really doesn't seem that long ago I was planning all the small details! 

We had a VERY lazy my Mum dropped round with our cards and present well after 11 and we were all still in PJ's! We popped to James' parents for lunch and they had organised between them and James to go to an open air screening of Top Gun in a local park in the eve.

I will admit I wasn't to excited to go, purely as I was just so tired from the day before! But it was a really good night, we bought a picnic along and some camping chairs.

There were freebies and competitions to enter whilst we waited for it to get dark, one of them being a chance to sit/lie in the cosy bed placed central to the big screen. So James and I thought it would be a laugh to enter, as you just had to take a photo at their booth.

I had to choose and Sandy and Danny outfit from their collection-and funnily enough we won!

So there we were, photo on big screen announced as the winners, EVERYONE looking at us walking over to the HUGE bed, bottle of champagne, snacks, and beer too!

At first it was embarrassing, but after about 5 mins I didn't care, it was so comfy and warm, and the champagne was a perfect way to celebrate our Anniversary!

We did keep laughing at each other throughout-after all it is a bit random being in a huge bed in the middle of a field watching an open air film with lots of others around, but still it made our Anniversary much more memorable and fun!

Look out for Luna Cinema #starrynights with Double tree, and see if there are any films showing near you (it may have ended already but may be on next year-it is good fun, especially if you win the best seat/bed ;) )

*This isn't a review, and all tickets/winning etc was our own doing!

Friday, 7 August 2015

A year on, the same feelings again

So here I am, a year on (minus two days) with the exact same feelings as this time last year. 

The shaking. 

The raise and fall of my temperature.

The loss of appetite at every meal. Or the feeling of being ill soon after eating. 

The constant niggle of bad thoughts, and what ifs. 

The on and off dull achy pain in the pit of my stomach, churning and turning all the while. 

You must be reading this thinking and wondering what bad event or date must be coming up, but in actual fact it is very much the opposite of that. 

Tomorrow is a joyful and one of the most happy of occasions: my best friends wedding, on the same Saturday of the year that we got married last year, where she stood by me as one of my bridesmaids. 

So why do I feel these feelings now, and this past week?

Social anxiety, that's why. Ripping the fun out of a perfect day again. 

It's like my brain mixes up the feeling of excitement and turns it into a great big wrecking ball of nerves, crashing me down whenever I think I have picked myself back up again. 

It comes crashing down in waves, sometimes I can handle it, and other times I just can't cope, I want to run, to hide and to just think of any excuse not to go. 

But certain occasions you just can't do that, more so when you are a bridesmaid!!

I hope the big surge of nerves now is the worst of it, I hope that tomorrow, when I go to my friend of 21 years mother's house for hair and dressing up for the big day that I can't at least create some sort of barrier for the wrecking ball.  Hiding it from everyone there and not freaking out, I just need to get to the venue and then I will be ok, because nobody knows about all my pathetic fears and triggers apart from my husband, the bridal party don't need to know all this all on the morning of her wedding day. 

Rescue remedy will be dropped upon my tongue a lot tomorrow in a bid to at least calm me.  

This is all bringing back memories of how nervous I was before and on our wedding day last year-and I got through that-just wish my brain would catch up and make me feel like I will get through tomorrow no problems too! 

So here's to social anxiety, ripping the fun and excitement of yet another fun and amazing occasion-here's hoping for the next one you will politely p*** off! (excuse me)!

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