Friday, 29 August 2014

Record Breaking Scarecrows

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to the National Forest Adventure Farm to build a scarecrow for their world record attempt. Well, yesterday they finally broke the Guinness World Record with their 3312th scarecrow, a 12 foot giant creation called Big Ernie.

Congratulations!!
There is still time to join in the fun though, the scarecrow making will continue until 7th September to make a Scarecrow and then a winner will be chosen to win a Family Pass to the Adventure Farm.

Here are our scarecrows.














Some Interesting Stats:

If you lined up all the scarecrows side by side with the tips of their hands touching, they would spread for 3 miles, form the Adventure Farm to the middle of Burton-On-Trent

The world record line-up has used 5.5 miles of wooden frames

It's used 8.5 tonnes of straw

3312 sacks for heads, 3312 tops and 3312 trousers




























Monday, 25 August 2014

Kids in the Kitchen - Chocolate Cake

Today I'm going to share with you my recipe for chocolate cake, it's the most asked for cake that I bake and I often use the recipe for my decorated cakes. For this one I had the help of Little Man, who was so thrilled to get his hands on the mixer :)

Thank you to those that joined in last weeks linky, I truly appreciate everyone who links up and it's so nice to have my regulars *big smile*

The Brilliant Chef (he really is) linked up an old post which is fine, old posts or new are always welcome. Anyway, I'm so glad he linked up his Seasonal Summer Frittata because I tried it myself and it's yummy.

And Autism Mumma linked up with another of my favourites, Cheese Scones. Take a look, they will make your mouth water.

Do come and join us with your cooking posts this week, lets see what your kids have been up to in the kitchen.

Chocolate Cake

When I make a cake to decorate I generally make it BIG! However, not everyone wants or needs a cake to feed 16 party guests so I've reduced this recipe down to make a regular cake. Don't worry, I have made it so I know the measurements are right, just don't expect it to turn out as big as my finished cake. 

Ingredients:

185g of unsalted butter
185g of caster sugar
170g of self- raising flour
15g of cocoa powder
3 eggs

Method:

I'm a big fan of my wooden spoon for making cakes but as the Little Man was helping me I decided to add some fun and used the mixer, he feels so grown up being in charge of switching it on and off.

We put the butter and sugar in the mixer and mixed until smooth.
Then we added the eggs one at a time mixing between each.
Then we took the bowl from the mixer and the Little Man sifted in the flour and cocoa powder and we folded them into the batter gently. 
We put the cake batter into a 7 inch cake tin. We like to use silicone for smaller cakes, but a loose bottom tin which has been smeared with a little butter and lined with baking paper is just as good.

Bake at 180C/gas mark 5 for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

If you are unfamiliar with baking cakes may I give you some tips;
Do not open the oven during at least the first half of the cooking. I would leave this cake at least 25 minutes until checking.
Ovens do vary so you may need a little longer, do first check that the cake looks 'springy' before taking it out of the oven.
If it is springy then test it with a skewer, it will come out clean if the cake is ready, but if it isn't pop it back in for a little longer.
If you don't cook the cake long enough it will sink in the middle and be soggy.
If you cook it too long it will dry out and lose it's yummy moistness.

Here is the Little Man in action.

Here is my lovely little kitchen helper modelling my new oven gloves ;)















Here is a little video (only 11 seconds) of how I decorated the cake once cooked. In case you have no idea, it's the Pokemon Fennekin.









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Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Don't worry, there will be no video of me chucking a bucket of iced water over my head in this post. I know some people are fed up of it already. I'm not, I'm happy to watch video after video of people doing this, I've seen some amazing ones done on building sites, but my favourite so far is Will Smith. Nothing spectacular, I just enjoyed it.

So what's it all about?

Basically, it's a challenge. You pour a bucket of iced water over your head and donate to charity, then nominate others to do the same. I guess it's a lot better than that previous drinking challenge!

Is it for ALS or Macmillan?

This is where it all gets a bit sticky. The challenge was started by former UNF golfer Chris Kennedy, who did it for his wife's cousin who had been battling ALS for eleven years. It just took off as an internet phenomenon as everyone was taking up the challenge and raising money and which I believe is just as important, awareness for ALS.

ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is knows as Motor Neurone Disease in the UK. It's a terrifying disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing a progressive muscular atrophy. One of the most heartbreaking ice bucket challenges I've seen was by Anthony Carbajal who has recently discovered that he has ALS, his mother is already completely disabled my the illness and so was his grandmother. The charity that supports ALS needs to raise much needed funds to research treatment for the sufferers, it also needs to raise awareness of the disease.

Then Macmillan saw the challenge and admit that they jumped on the bandwagon. Many people in the UK are doing the challenge for the Macmillan charity and raising funds for them. Macmillan say that so far they have raised enough money to fund six Macmillan nurses for a year, which is great news for cancer patients.
They have also received some stick for taking away the focus from ALS/MND.


Where Do I Stand? 

Well, I probably won't be standing under a bucket of iced water anytime soon. I'm not a killjoy and I do support charity, it's just that this has all left me feeling a little confused to say the least.

I'm a big supporter of Macmillan. I donate regularly to their charity and know people who have had use of their nurses, including my own mother, although it was only for a short time. I appreciate that they need to raise funds and if they see a way of doing it then they should definitely go for it. What I feel bad about is that they have taken away the spotlight from ALS/MND

I had not heard of ALS, but I had heard of MND but had to do some research to find out more. I know how difficult it is to raise awareness for illnesses that are not common which makes it difficult to raise funds for much needed research to help those that are suffering. This is what the charities are for and it must be amazing when they suddenly find they are getting loads of support from a simple but viral challenge. I don't believe that charities should compete with each other, they should work alongside each other. Macmillan should have allowed ALS/MND to keep the limelight on this one.

Macmillan claim it was their supporters who wanted to take part in the challenge and that they needed to listen to help boost their much needed funds.

I'm not sure really what to make of it all. what do you think?

Friday, 22 August 2014

Park Life

 Star is finally free from her halo and we wanted to go and do something 'normal' so a trip to the local park was top of the list.

Star does not need to wear a collar anymore, but she still feels a little weak, and she's scared too. So she kept it on mostly just to feel safe and comfortable. She was able to run around and have fun with her siblings though which was really nice to see.








Of course, no sunny day in the park would be complete without ice-cream


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Changing Rooms

Do you remember that old BBC program that ran for eight years from 1996 to 2004? I loved it, even if I hated the make overs I just found the program inspirational and full of imaginative ideas. I remember one where they painted a poem on the wall, I always wanted to do this. I now have a transfer on my bedroom wall, and it was a lot easier than painting it on. I loved the flamboyance of designer Laurence Lewellyn Bowen, but I think Linda Barker was my favourite. The thing I loved most of about the show was the disasters, and that some people just couldn't be pleased.

I did pick up a lot of ideas from the show which I used in my own home and now I'm reminiscing about an old tv show because I'm about to face the biggest decorating challenge of my life.

Last year I moved into my new home, and it was very new, in fact this is what it looked like just over a year ago.



And this is what it still looks like on Google maps!



We were told when we moved in that we had to wait for the house to settle and the plaster to dry and couldn't re-decorate for at least 12 months. Well those 12 months are almost up and I really can't wait to place my stamp on this place and I will be well rid of the trade magnolia walls. Every single wall in the house is currently magnolia, and it's not even the sort you can wipe clean. I want to colour my house in like a huge colouring book.

I really want to record my journey here on my blog, so I'll be posting when I have news under the title Changing Rooms and will have a page set up to keep all posts in the same place.

I just can't wait to get started now :)