Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Kids In the Kitchen - Hot Cross Buns

Still keeping with the Easter theme here, this week we made Hot Cross buns. I've not made them before and I really wish they were a little easier and quicker to make. The end result was very yummy though, more in a little while.

Kids in the Kitchen is a weekly linky, if you would like to know more about it then please visit the Kids in the Kitchen page. It couldn't be simpler though, just cook with your kids, blog about it and then link up your post. Old posts or new, I really don't mind.

I'd like to say thank you to last weeks linkers.
Baked Potato Mummy and little Potato gave us these delicious Easter Muffins, fruit cakes with marzipan and mini eggs, they sound like a winner to me.
Blogger Mummy Lauren gave us a double delight with these yummy Easter Empire/German biscuits, two biscuits layered with jam, truly mouthwatering.
The lovely Beesley family gave us adorable Iced Buns and amazing Banana Splits, Little Miss T is a great helper and the boys are brilliant at improvisation.
Finally, the Single Parent Pessimist and little Chunk show us a whole host of summer activities and how to make slushies and ice lollies. I can't wait for summer now.

Hot Cross Buns.


200ml warm milk
50g butter
500g strong bread flour
1tsp salt
75g caster sugar
1 7gm packet of fast action yeast
2 eggs
125g mixed fruit for cakes 
1 tsp mixed spice

for the crosses; 2 tbs plain flour, 1 tbs water
for the glaze; 2tbs milk, 1 tbs caster sugar


Boo was my helper today, although the Little Man had a turn at kneeding the dough too.
First up we put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, flour, sugar, yeast, salt and Boo gave it a good mix.

Next we added the butter and Boo set to rubbing it in.

Then she added the fruit.
Then she added the beaten eggs and the milk.

The dough was really sticky so we did use a little extra flour to be able to kneed it properly.
Adding too much flour can make the end result a little heavy, but we added just enough for it to be a little less sticky and the buns turned out light and fluffy.

Then comes the boring bit....you leave the dough in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

The dough is then diveded into balls, the recipe said 12 but we only managed 10.
Then the balls are put on a greased baking tray, covered loosely with a plastic bag, making sure that the bag doesn't touch the dough, and left for another 45 minutes to rise again.

Just before cooking we made a mixture of flour and water and put it into a piping bag. Then we piped crosses on the top of each bun.

The buns were cooked on Gas mark 5 for 15 minutes.
While cooking I made a glaze of milk and sugar by warming the milk and dissolving the sugar in it, which I used to coat the buns as soon as they came out of the oven.

Do come and join in our linky with your posts. I'd love it if you included my badge so that others may come and join in too.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Something for the Weekend - docrafts Creativity Review

I was sent a copy of Aprils docrafts Creativity magazine to review.

Now, let me start by explaining that I'm not very good at crafts, but it doesn't stop me trying, and I love having a go. My motto is, you don't have to be good so long as you are enjoying what you are doing.

I've had a go at loads...upcycling furniture, making cards, crochet, sewing, and many more, with little success. I still keep trying though because I find it fun.

The docrafts Creativity magazine is aimed at 'real' crafters rather than 'have a go' ones like me. However, I did find it really intriguing and I'm determined to try some of the crafts in this issue.

The magazine came with some lovely free gifts, two sheets of stickers, a sheet of 3D stickers for Father's Day an a lovely pair of glass crosses for jewellery making....oh, I've tried jewellery making before!

There is one thing I'm reasonably good at and that is decorating cakes, so imagine my joy on finding a section on making these gorgeous plant pot cakes. I'm most certainly going to give these a go. I'll post about my efforts later.

I will also use the free stickes provided to make Father's Day cards. There is a really nice guide in the magazine. I could also use the stickers to make a card for my nieces birthday next month. The main problem I've had in the past with card making is I never know where to put things. I  start off with a selection of lovely papers, stickers and embellishements and end up with...well, a bit of mess actually. I've never thought of using a template before. The magazine has a section on using templates to make your cards look pretty.

Now, this magazine is aimed at adults, and in particular adults who have some clue as to what they are doing. Atlhough the tutorials are pretty clear and easy to follow. I have bought magazines in the past that assume you know what you are doing and really don't give much detail in their instructions, so it was refreshing to find that Docrafts Creativity doesn't expect you to know everything.
There are some really good technique sections too which are really helfpul.

There is a section for children's crafts too, and I love these window kites. We'll have to have a go at these. In fact I already have a lot of tissue paper left over from the Easter Bonnet crafting we did recently.

I am not a dedicated crafter, most of my current crafting activities involve PVA glue, safety scissors and glitter as I keep the littlies entertained. However, I have always enjoyed crafting and I'm willing to give most things a go. So, I've browsed many a magazine in the newsagents dreaming of what I could make if I only had the skill. I find that most of them are really expensive, have lots of advertisements and assume you already know what to do. I have really enjoyed docrafts Creativity because it offers page after page of wonderful projects, many of them within the reach of someone with just a little knowledge and flair. It covers simple, quick projects as well as complicated ones and has all sorts of interests from card making to jewellery making and even upcycling furniture. At £4.99 I think it's really great value, and I probably will buy it again. If I keep practising maybe one day I will improve.
If I was skilled enough I'd love to make this box, I do love pretty boxes.

Don't forget to check out the docrafts Facebook page for more ideas and sharing.

I was sent a copy of docrafts Creativity April 2014 to review for the purpose of this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Stay tuned for my attempts at Father's Day cards and plant pot cakes.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Happy Easter 2014

I love Easter, it's my favourite time of year. It's cheaper than Christmas and I've never suffered any major tragedies at Easter, also it's a good time to reflect on Faith and life, finally, don't forget all the CHOCOLATE!!

This week we have been preparing for Easter, possibly a little early but it does't matter because we can do it all again next week :)

First we have been cooking up an Easter storm with our Chick Cupcakes and Easter Biscuits. Just look at the yumminess we have created.

Easter Chicks - Kids in the Kitchen

Easter Biscuits - Kids in the Kitchen

The Little Man helped me make some Easter Bark using chocolate, mini marshmallows and tiny candy coated chocolate beans.

There was of course the obligatory Easter Bonnet Parade at school, and Boo and the Little Man worked really hard on their bonnets. I made the bonnets from old cereal packets then gave the kids free range in how they would like to decorate them.
Boo won first prize for her bonnet :)

Next I'm going to make my Easter Simnel Cake which I love.
We hope to spend some time in the holiday visiting the local Nature Center and all the animals.

Whatever you are doing this Easter, I do hope you have a lovely time (and lots of chocolate)

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Kids In The Kitchen - Easter Chicks

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen.
Last week we made Easter Biscuits and this week we made Easter Chicks. We have loads more Easter recipes we'll be trying out, well, it is my favourite time of year. Keep reading to see how we got on and our recipe. These chicks are so easy to make, really cute and taste yummy.

If you would like to find out more about Kids in the Kitchen you can read my dedicated page. Simply, it's a linky where we share what our kids have cooked and it's open all week starting from Tuesday.

A big thank you to last weeks linkers. North East Family Fun showed us how to make the best Lemon Drizzle Cake ever. A big big favourite of mine, but not a recipe I've let my chidlren loose on yet.
Also, the amazing Brilliant Chef from The Beesley Buzz showed us how to make sausage rolls and gave an important lesson of how the best chefs are the ones that experiment. He's a lovely lad and his food blog is simply brilliant, so if you want to put a smile on an eight year old talented chefs face do please pay a visit to The Brilliant Chef and maybe leave a comment.

Please do come and join us this week, just link up any post, old or new.

Easter Chicks


125g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter or margarine
2 eggs
1tsp lemon juice

for decoration:

85g unsalted butter or margarine
170g icing sugar
few drops of lemon juice
few drops of yellow food colouring

100g dessicated coconut
few drops of yellow food colouring
some small pieces of carrot
chocolate drops


Before we made the cakes Boo and Star blew the eggs out of the shells. I made two small holes, one at the top of the egg and one at the bottom, then the girls blew through one hole until all the egg had come out. This is not necessary for the recipe, but we wanted to keep the egg shells to paint later.

blowing eggs

We started by putting the dessicated coconut in a food bag and added a few drops of food colouring. Then Star shook the bag until all the coconut was coloured.
Boo and the Little Man helped with the mixing.
First we mixed the butter with the sugar until it was creamy.
Then we added the eggs and mixed them in.
The flour went in next and I am teaching the children how to fold it in gently.
Finally we added the lemon juice.

We put the mixture into the cake cases and I baked them in the oven at 190C or gas mark 5 for 12-15 minutes.

When the cooked cakes had cooled we decorated them.
We made the buttercream by creaming together the butter and icing sugar. We added the lemon juice and food colouring and mixed well.
The kids then coated the cakes with the buttercream and then sprinkled over the yellow coconut.
They added chocolate drops for eyes and a tiny piece of carrot for the beaks.

Do come and join in our linky with your posts. I'd love it if you included my badge so that others may come and join in too.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dear Mr S.

I am writing this letter to my daughter's paedatric neurosurgeon. I felt the need to write it down and share. Whether I actually send the letter to him I don't know yet.

Dear Mr S.

I called your office today to ask your secretary to give you a little reminder that you promised to call me last week. I know you are an incredibly busy man, but my daughter is eight years old and has been suffering for more than eight months and is very much in need of your care and attention. Also, I am a very stressed out mother who has barely slept for the last week.

Constantly on my mind is how my daughter's condition has become so bad. I really can't help thinking that if she had been treated properly and promptly in the beginning we would not now be facing surgery. For two weeks I brought her into the Accident and Emergency Department and was constantly told it was nothing to worry about and it would fix it self. It didn't and she was offered a CT scan of her neck. The scan showed a subluxation of the atlanto occipital joint and she was admitted to your ward.

For a week she was treated with muscle relaxants while we waited for a traction bed for her. The bed arrived but the decision was made not to go ahead with traction and to try physio therapy instead.

I was happy to go along with this. Of course, the less distress to my daughter the better and if it could be put right by physio therapy then I was happy to bring her to the hospital twice a week.

It soon became apparent, however, that the physio therapy was not working. Her nurse was really concerned but had to push for another CT scan. After the scan the physio therapy was stopped, we were not told why, but we were then left in limbo. For weeks I waited for a call to come and see you and find out what was going on, what the next step was going to be. I was told that you were busy, that there were no appointments in your clinic, that I had to wait. 

I became impatient and called the Patient Liason team at the hospital who finally managed to get me a clinic appointment. First my girl had to have another CT scan. At the appointment we were told she was going to be admitted for a manipulation as the subluxation had become worse and it needing correcting. So my daughter was taken to theatre and the manipulation performed and a halo traction brace fitted.

She wore the halo for thirteen weeks and on removal we believed that she would now be fixed. This was not the case, her neck began to slip back the very same day. At her halo removal check it was obvious that something was wrong so I was told she would need another CT scan. After the scan we were left in limbo again, not knowing what was going to happen next. I called your secretary who then managed to fit me in for an appointment.
The scan showed that a piece of my daughter's bone had deteriorated and it was unlikely that it would hold her neck up without further intervention. 

Then, well, we are still waiting to hear from you. 

The questions going around in my mind are, how, when and why has her bone deteriorated? Was it in the beginning when her neck was so twisted the bones were grinding against each other? Did it happen while she was having physio therapy trying to make the bones go back into place? Maybe it happened during the manipulation? Why has it only just been detected, did it happen very recently? My daughter has had many scans and xrays (I have the dates and times of every one written down) why wasn't it noticed sooner? 

More importantly, what are you going to do for her now, and how much longer will we be waiting.

Yours Sincerely,

A Distressed Mum of a Beautiful, Brave Little Girl who deserves to be treated better.

This post will be duplicated on my other blog ZebraHooves