Monday, 29 December 2014

Looking Back at 2014

This time of year I always like to reflect on the past year and think about what I'd like to happen next year. It's very self-indulgent I know but I'm going to do it anyway, and split it into two posts here on Raisie Bay.
So here is my tribute to the year that's passed.

January 2014


Star had had her manipulation and halo fitted in December so January was a time spent mostly indoors apart from hospital visits.


It was also when I decided to start my regular linky Kids in the Kitchen which I have thoroughly enjoyed doing, and so have my kids.

February


My Eldest Daughter went to America by herself and landed in a snow storm in Washington. I found the whole experience terrifying and I think she did too. I don't think she'll be going back there any time soon.

At home we spent most of the time inside as usual, there was lots of food involved.

March


On March 3rd my Star lost her halo and we were able to cuddle her again. Sadly, it was also the time that we found out it hadn't worked and further surgery would be needed.




April


Now the halo was removed we were able to get out more and in April we visited the theatre to see Hetty Feather and spent the day at the Nature Centre.










































May


In May a very special friend of mine got married and gave me the honour of making her wedding cake. It was a truly wonderful occasion. Even No1 Son made it to the reception with his Dad, and he doesn't do parties normally.



























June


In June we made the most of Star's freedom with a trip to Nottingham and I got to meet an online friend that I'd never met before.

Then it was back into hospital on 8th June where she had another manipulation and halo fitted, followed by a 7 hour operation on the 11th June where they performed a fixation with metal plates, pins and bone graft.











































July


July was very eventful towards the end. We had a new car and I picked it up on Boo's birthday the 27th. This meant that even though Star was in her halo again we could actually get out and about and make the most of the summer. Boo had a fabulous Frozen Birthday party, we even had snow...and it was one of the hottest days of the year!

























August


August was an exciting month. We had a trip to the National Forest Farm where each of my children made a scarecrow to take part in the World Record Breaking attempt at most scarecrows. We also had a great day at a Birmingham park with some other bloggers and their children. The Little man had his 4th Birthday and Star had her 9th Birthday. The biggest event of all was the removal of Star's halo (again) on the 19th August.





September

In September Boo went back to school and the Little Man started School for the first time.
We also had a lovely day trip out on a Birmingham canal and visited a local festival (well, local to where we used to live.) September was also the first anniversary of our moving into our new home.





October

In October I met a friend I've known online for nine years for the very first time. We also went pumpkin picking at Hatton which was a lovely day, and Hatton has become one of our favourite places to visit.









































November


Star finally went back to school after being off sick for eleven months. We had to say goodbye to her home tutor which was very sad, but it's wonderful to see her getting back to normal. She started off doing just mornings and hopefully in the new year she will be able to extend her day. I do miss her so much though.
November is my birthday and I was feeling old...well, for a little while, I guess next year I'll be feeling even older!
We also put up our Christmas tree and decorations for the first time ever in November. 








































December

We started December with bouts of illness but once recovered we did some really fun things such as Boo going ice skating, visiting the Christmas markets, visiting Symphony Hall for Carols and Town Hall to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea. We also had another fabulous day at Hatton where we met Santa and watched an open air nativity. I also enjoyed the Little Man's school nativity and the girl's musical assembly. In fact it was a very lovely month and a very lovely Christmas, made even more lovelier when I took receipt of a fabulous prize I'd won for the kids on Christmas Eve.





























If you got this far thank you for indulging me. I have many wishes for next year but I'm saving that for a new post. What has been your happiest memory of the year? 


Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Tiger Who Came To Tea - Review

On 23rd December we were really lucky to be invited to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Birmingham Town Hall. It runs until January 14th so there is still plenty of time to catch it.

Based on the Book written and illustrated by Judith Kerr, it is adapted for stage with songs by David Wood OBE. It runs for about 55 minutes with no interval.

Photo Credit: Alistair Muir

























The book is aimed at younger children and My Little Man has been reading it at school. I knew that my older girls would love it too because when it's live on stage with lots of fun and music, it doesn't really matter what age you are.

If you've not read the book the basic story is that a mother and daughter, Sophie are spending their day at home when suddenly a very hungry, very thirsty Tiger turns up unexpectedly. He is also a very charming Tiger and the mother and Sophie are happy to oblige him and offer him all kinds to eat and drink...until he leaves the house totally empty...what will they do when Daddy gets home from work?

The show is fast moving and lively with lots of songs. There is also a lot of audience participation which the children love and we all got to learn and join in with a song about Sausages and Chips.

As always, Birmingham Town Hall is a nice venue with fold up seats which are comfortable and viewing is good, with booster seats available for the younger ones. Refreshments are available in the coffee bar and I was happy to find they were not overpriced. There are lots of stairs but lifts are available and there is a place to leave your pushchairs safely.

There is also a relaxed performance of the show for children on the autistic spectrum, with learning disabilities or sensory and communication disorder on January 11th 2015 at 3p.m.

Photo Credit: Robert Workman



Disclaimer: We were given tickets to see the show for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.











Monday, 22 December 2014

A Classical Christmas at Symphony Hall


I have very eclectic musical tastes, you may have seen me earlier posting my photo from the mosh pit at a Kasabian gig? Well, this week I have something a little more civilised for you. We were invited to the Christmas Classics at Birmingham Symphony Hall.  I took along my three girls and we had a wonderful afternoon enjoying such delights as Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker (which Boo recognised instantly) and Handel's Let the Bright Seraphim. 





The performance was by the London Concert Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Choir with Adrian Lucas as conductor, Brian Blessed as reader and the lovely Elizabeth Atherton as soprano.

In between the great Christmas Classics we were all invited to join in with the carols. The girls loved this and sang with gusto.

Brian Blessed entertained us with two readings, Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, and the ending of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. No microphone was required. 

Elizabeth Atherton was beautiful and I particularly enjoyed her performances of Let the Bright Seraphim and Alleluia from Exsultate, jubilate by Mozart. 

Overall the concert was mesmerising and entertaining. There were fun moments and it was  joy to be able to join in with the carols. It really felt like Christmas and I would love to go again next year.

Symphony Hall has always been a favourite venue of mine, I have actually been on the stage there myself when I received my degree. It always holds a feeling of elegance and grandeur. I've already enjoyed many performances there from the Lollipop Proms to Mozart's Magic Flute and in February I am returning to see Ocean Colour Scene perform an acoustic set.


The wonderful Brian Blessed


The choir and orchestra
































I received tickets to Christmas Classics for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Bubbablue and me music linky





Kids in the Kitchen Special - A Gingerbread House for Shelter

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen. I'm going to do something a little different. I was asked if I would make a gingerbread house and help promote the work that Shelter do, not only at Christmas time, but all year around.



Some Facts from Shelter

4 million families could be one paycheck away from losing their homes.

In the Uk it is reported that a family loses their home every 11 minutes.

Shelter is a charity that campaigns for housing rights and against homelessness, They provide practical housing advice and support on line, in person and over the phone - from dealing with mortgage arrears through to helping people find a place to stay. Most importantly, they campaign to tackle the root causes of the housing crisis, which are affecting more families each and every day.

Last year alone, not only did they manage to re-home those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the streets, they managed to get legislation signed off that will impact masses of families throughout the UK.

For example they secured concessions to bedroom tax for foster carers and families of armed forces personnel and severely disabled children. They also won legislation giving renters the right to complain when things go wrong, not to mention the eviction of rogue landlords.

When things go wrong, it's easy to bury your head in the sand. Shelter exists to provide specialist free confidential advice and solutions to keep families from ending up on the streets.

***************************************************************

You can help Shelter by visiting their donation page.

Here is our gingerbread house. Lovingly decorated by Boo and the Little Man.





So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)





Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay
You can find out more about Kids in the Kitchen by clicking here.




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Monday, 15 December 2014

Kids in the Kitchen - Christmas Pudding Chocolate Biscuits

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen where we encourage you to share what you have been cooking with your kids. The linky is now open until the end of the month and you can join in as many times as you like. I will share all links on Twitter and on my Pinterest page.

Follow Anne's board Kids In The Kitchen on Pinterest.

Last week we were joined by ET Speaks from home and their gloriously coloured cookies. I'll definitely choose colouring gel in the future when I want something bright and colourful.

This week the Little Man was in the kitchen helping me make some Christmas Pudding Biscuits.

Christmas Pudding Chocolate Biscuits.

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

to decorate:
200g white icing
50g green icing
25g red icing

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C gas 4
  • Cream together the butter and the sugar
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and soda
  • Add flour mixture to butter and sugar and mix until crumbly
  • gather the dough and knead until smooth ( I found that it needed a tbs of milk to help bind the mixture together)
  • Shape the dough into a long sausage
  • cut into 18 slices
  • place on baking trays and flatten with your fingers until they are around 5cm diameter
  • bake for 10-12 minutes then leave to cool
  • to decorate: dust work surface with icing sugar and roll out the white icing
  • use a cutter to make 9 circles
  • divide each circle in half with wavy lines
  • brush with a little water and stick have circles onto biscutis
  • cut out holly leaves from green icing and use to decorate biscuits
  • break off tiny pieces of red icing and roll into balls to make berries to decorate biscuits.

































So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)





Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay
You can find out more about Kids in the Kitchen by clicking here.




Follow on Bloglovin


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Matcha Green Tea

I am huge fan of green tea, however, at home I am usually buying the tea bag variety. When at restaurants I go for Match green tea, and lately I've not been able to resist the Matcha green tea latte bubble tea you can buy from Meecha....if you've not tired bubble tea you don't know what you are missing!



I'm also a huge fan of the delicious, mouth watering Matcha Tiramisu from Mount Fuji, it's so much more refreshing than regular tiramisu. It's because of this that I've been dying for a long time to get my hands on a packet of Matcha powder.

matcha tiramisu from Mount Fuji


I was thrilled to be offer a packet of Organic Matcha by Kiss Me Organics. The powder is culinary grade and it said it was good for tea and cooking. The packet was resealable and easy to pack away after use. The matcha powder was bright green in colour just as I would expect it to be.

I couldn't wait to use it so I started with a green tea latte. I had no idea how to make one but a quick search Online showed me how easy it is.

Green Tea Latte with matcha


I put a teaspoon of matcha into a cup.
I added a small amount of boiling water and mixed the powder until dissolved.
I then topped up the cup with hot milk, if you have a frother it's even better.

I was really happy with the result, the matcha is very tasty.

To make a cold latte you need a cocktail shaker or similar. The matcha is added to milk and ice and shaken until mixed. This is how I like my bubble tea made, and then I like strawberry popping bubbles added, delicious!

I also decided to make a green tea cake. I looked around and there are many recipes available some complicated some simple. I decided to try and make a light and fluffy cake and this is what I came up with.

Matcha Green Tea Cake


Ingredients:

3 eggs
120g granulated sugar
100g self-raising flour
10g matcha powder
50ml milk
30g unsalted butter

Method:

put the milk and butter in a pan and warm until the butter is dissolved and mixed with the milk.
Leave to cool a little

Whisk the eggs in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water is not touching the bowl, or that no water gets into the eggs. They need to be doubled in size and much lighter in colour.

Add the sugar to the eggs and fold in gently.

Sieve the flour and match powder together three times.

Add to the eggs and fold in really gently.

Finally, add the cooled milk and butter mixture, again very gently.

Pour into cake tin and bake in a preheated oven 170C for 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.






The cake is light and fluffy and very green. You can really taste the matcha flavour.


There will probably be more matcha recipes to come...I really have to try matcha mochi and matcha cheesecake, so if you are a green tea fan do keep watching.

Disclosure: I was sent a packet of matcha powder to review, all thoughts, opinions and recipes are my own.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Visiting Santa at Hatton Country Park

We visited Hatton Adventure World for the first time for Halloween. I can't believe we have not been before we are really not far away in Warwick, and it's such a lovely place to visit. We were thrilled to be invited to visit again for their Enchanted Christmas Kingdom which is open every Friday evening and weekend in December and 20th to 24th December 2014.

When we visited it was very cold and we even had spells of rain and hail, but there was still lots to see and do. There is entertainment in the form of Zoobee's Christmas show in the family theatre, The Wise Men's Falconry Shows and stories in Festive Scales and Tales.

We started our day with a trip to the Farmyard favourites area which is covered from the elements. The kids love meeting the animals and The Little Man was really taken by Bubbles the Donkey who is 54 years old and actually older than mummy! We saw Bubbles again later for the live nativity.































Then there was the Guinea Pig village which was made up very festive with lots of Christmas trees and snow.
































We then made our way over to watch the live nativity, but just has it was about to start the rain pelted down and we had to take shelter. We did go back and the children really enjoyed the nativity and singing along with the Christmas songs and carols.































Then it was time to visit Santas Workshop, but first we stopped to admire the reindeers.


























The Grotto was really lovely. We started off by writing our letters to Santa and posting them in the special postbox.





























Then we walked around the workshop seeing the elves hard at work making presents and cookies and wrapping them up ready for the Christmas deliveries.






































Then came the very special visit to see Santa. I had filled in a form so Santa knew a few details about my children before they went in to see him. He was a very impressive Santa with a kindly voice. The children were totally in awe of him and he had them grinning from ear to ear. Well, apart from the Little Man who was a little wary at times, especially when Santa asked if they had been good. Then Santa pulled out a special book and because they were on the Good List they were each given a key to the special Toyshop.

























































In the Toyshop the children were allowed to use their keys to purchase a toy of their choice. They thought it was brilliant.

Before we left we had a walk around Hatton Shopping Village which is an adorable selection of shops selling all sorts of pretty things. We particularly liked the sweet shop. Also, there was a craft market to browse with hot roasted chestnuts available. It certainly made it feel like Christmas.

Once again we had a lovely day at Hatton and I'm certain we will be visiting again.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
We were invited to visit Hatton Adventure world for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay



Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me...is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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