Saturday, 30 August 2014

When Plans are Abandoned

We were looking forward to the last week so much, we had lots planned and it was Star's first week without her halo. We were not going to let a little thing like the weather get us down, and bank holiday Monday, despite the rain we ventured off to the Malvern Hills. Malvern is not really that far away from us and I can remember visiting lots when I was young, but I haven't been for many years now.

I'll be honest, we were not really planning on walking the hills, although that is a lovely thing to do, we were actually visiting friends who are lucky enough to live there. So the rain was no bother as we knew we would be inside. When we got there we were also met by a big blanket of fog which meant that I got lost on the hills! It didn't take long for our friends to rescue us and we were soon in the comfort of their lovely hillside home. We couldn't enjoy the hills but we did enjoy their hospitality and a lovely afternoon tea.

Our best view of the day, I took this while we were lost!


Then the BUG struck! The Little Man caught it first and I spent Monday night nursing him through. We couldn't go out on Tuesday and cancelled our trip on Wednesday too, just in case. We were due another day out at the Adventure Farm on Thursday but couldn't make it because me and ED caught the BUG, closely followed by Boo. Friday was a blur! I'm feeling a little better today, but we are only four out of seven of struck with the BUG so far, so there could be more to come.

As Wednesday was the only day that the BUG wasn't taking over our lives we decided a quick shopping trip was in order and popped off to a local supermarket. While in there Star wasn't feeling too good (oh no!, but luckily, it wasn't the BUG) so Daddy took her outside. When we went out them they were really excited because they'd found a lovely stream behind the shop. We put the shopping in the car boot and went for a look.


Then we spotted a little bridge


So what do you do when you find a little bridge across a stream? Play Pooh Sticks of course! The Littlies dropped their sticks in on one side of the bridge and ran to the other to see who's came first.


Then the Little Man needed a rest!



So our shopping trip turned in to a fun afternoon in a place we'd not been before.




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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

record breaking scarecrows



























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 :)




Thursday, 21 August 2014

Emotional - Word of the Week




My word of the week this week has to be emotional. It's been a long and difficult year with Star's neck problems and now our journey is nearing the end. Well, it's reached the point where nothing else can be done, and although Star will never be the same again, now she is out of danger and her neck is straight.

When she woke up from the anesthetic on Monday after having her halo removed she was so emotional. In fact I had no idea how much the whole thing had affected her, she seemed to have taken everything in her stride. She did develop a big fear of hospitals, anesthetic and needles, and she often became distressed and said she didn't want to die, but mostly she just got on with things and barely complained.

She never knew the real danger she was in. A couple of times during the last year she was incredibly close to becoming paralysed or even dying. Just a few more millimetres of movement in her neck could have caused terrifying implications that we didn't want to think about.

We held on to our hope that one day she would be fixed, and despite being disappointed a few times, on Monday we got our wish. Star is now fixed, a little too fixed, but it's not as bad as we expected.

Star's exclamations of being 'free' and 'normal' reduced us to tears. Watching her with her siblings reduced us to tears. Seeing her play in the playground reduced us to tears. Seeing her come into our bedroom on Tuesday morning with her collar in her hand and a big smile on her face reduced us to tears.

This particular journey is almost over. We have a CT scan and appointment in September, then possibly physio therapy for a while and occasional follow up appointments just to check all is well.

We still have other journeys to face, but for now we are enjoying our emotional week.

Siblings


We have lots to be thankful for and I'd just like to finish this emotional post with a few Thank Yous to all the people who have been at our side throughout this journey.
Thank you for all the kind words and messages, the love and support we have all received.
Thank you for all the cards, gifts and flowers Star has received.
Thank you for the lifts to hospital when we needed them.
Thank you for the clothing sent to Star when she had her first halo and I had no idea how difficult it would be to dress her.
Thank you for the kind messages on Facebook, Twitter and my blogs.
Thank you for the visitors who came to see Star while she was in hospital which really cheered her up.
Thank you to the other parents on the ward who were so friendly and supportive despite their own worries.
Thank you to the wonderful nurses and ward staff who treated Star like a little princess.
Thank you to the consultant who fixed her.
Thank you to her wonderful home tutor who has kept her up to date with her education while she hasn't been able to attend school.

Thank you to our old church and new for regularly praying for Star.
Thank you God for letting us keep our little girl.



The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

One Year Later

A year ago I posted this, Star and the Broken Neck, at that time I had no idea what was going to happen to her.
Almost exactly a year later Star was taken to the theatre for the fifth time to have her second halo removed. It was an emotional day and we really had no idea what to expect. The last time she had the halo removed in March, My Angel Loses Her Halo, we noticed almost straight away that it hadn't worked.

In June she had two operations, one a manipulation to straighten her neck, and the other was a seven hour operation to fix her spine together with pins, plates and bone graft, and we saw the return of the halo. An Update on Star

When Star came back from theatre she kept asking if the halo was off. I'm guessing it felt very strange for her. She had been fitted with a collar but the consultant had already told us it was only for her comfort. She only has to wear it when she's feeling pain, or if we go out. She is due to have another CT scan in September along with a clinic visit and hopefully all will be well.

It feels strange looking at my little girl without a collar and with a straight neck, she looks so different, she looks so grown up.

It will take her some time to get used to using her neck properly again, and she will never regain full movement because she is pinned in place, but the big difference is she is now safe from danger.

It's her birthday on Sunday and we are doing the same as last year, taking her to pizza hut with the whole family. Last year we were just starting out on this journey, now we are hoping it's the beginning of the end. Of course we accept that she will never be 'normal' but just being out of danger and straight is enough. Maybe, in the future, there may be some way of her regaining some mobility in her neck.

When she first came around and kept asking if the halo was gone

Enjoying a wrap, halo and collar free

back home with her siblings


Ethans Escapades

Monday, 18 August 2014

Kids in the Kitchen - Carrot Cake

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen where you can link up your posts about your kids cooking and recipes. If you would like to know more then please read my Kids in the Kitchen page. The rules for linking up are really simple and I accept old posts and new, so do come and join us.

This week I'm sharing my Carrot Cake recipe and the Little Man was my helper.

First I'd like to say thank you to last weeks linkers.

On Autism Mamma you can find the most delicious looking Freddo Chocolate Cake.

The Brilliant Chef made scrummy looking Orange Choc Chip Cookies.

Thank you for joining in, I've shared the posts on Twitter and Pinterest too.

Carrot Cake

This is a very simple carrot cake which contains no nuts or extra flavourings, just carrots and a little cinnamon.
You can cover it with a cream cheese frosting, or butter cream, but we like it as it is.

Ingredients:

185g sugar
180 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
130g carrots grated (about 3 medium carrots)

Method:

mix together the sugar oil and eggs in a large bowl.
Sift in the flour baking powder, salt and cinnamon
Add the grated carrots
mix well

bake for 50 minutes at gas mark 5




carrot cake


If you would like to join then please link up your posts old or new below.
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
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Sunday, 17 August 2014

42 Days of Summer!

We have 17 days of the school holidays left here, so what have we been up to so far.
Summer for us means Birthdays! All three Littlies have two weeks or less between their birthdays and they are all in the summer holidays. So we spend a lot of time partying!

First up it's Boo, who this year turned seven. We had a Frozen party with snow and snowball fights, we even had snowball bowling. All this on the hottest day of the year! I made her a Frozen Cake and we hosted the party at home in our house and garden.


BN Biscuits make a perfect addition to the party food table. The kids loved both the chocolate and the raspberry flavours. I love the combination of the crispy biscuit with the creamy filling and the smiles and winks on each biscuit are so cute.


Then it was the Little Man's Birthday. He had a few friends around for a little party and loved his Paw Patrol Cake I made him.



Next Up it's Star's Birthday, just a few days after her operation (she's off to hospital tomorrow) We will still be celebrating and have booked a family party in Pizza Hut. I have to somehow fit in time to make her a Pokemon Cake.

It's not all been partying though, we have filled the summer days with other activities too. 
We went to a lovely BBQ hosted by our local church.


We had a meet up with some other bloggers and their children at a City Centre Park.


Then Last week we had fun day out at an Adventure Farm


So despite Star not being well we have had a summer of partying and fun, making the most of every day. 

My tips for making it happily through the Summer Holidays are:

  • Make the most of the sunshine and get out as often as you can, even if it's just the garden.
  • Try Something new to alleviate boredom, maybe find some local activities your children in with. In our area there were some circus classes, we couldn't take part because of Star but they looked like lots of fun and they were free.
  • Find somewhere new to go. We'd not been the City Centre Park before and were surprised at how much fun it was.
  • When the weather is bad you can go to the cinema or visit a museum. There is always something aimed at children going on.
  • You can still have fun if you are stuck at home, get out the board games, or do some arts and crafts. You could even get the kids cooking and join up with my Kids in the Kitchen Linky, or just check it out for inspiration :)

Happy Summer Everyone!


This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVities BN. Learn more at 


Friday, 15 August 2014

National Forest Adventure Farm

We were lucky to be invited to visit the National Forest Adventure Farm in Burton-on-Trent earlier this week.
We found the park pretty easily after travelling up on the M42 and the A38. Lucky as it was my first long trip in a few years.

We started the day with a tractor ride around the farm, we had to spot the scarecrows along the way. The Littlies found this really exciting, but I do believe it was OH who was shouting out 'Scarcrow' the loudest.



The Littlies were excited to go to the playground so we headed over and they were straight into the sand pit. They then tried the bouncy castle slide, the Jumping Pillow, the Water Splash and the Mini Assault Course. We came back later for a go on the Go Karts and the Little Man was playing Beat The Goalie. A great time was had by all, even Star was able to join in with a few of the activites. We let her in the Water Splash while it was quiet (only us) even though she's not supposed to get wet.

A big favourite was the Quad Barrel Ride, where they rode around a mini maze in big barrels.



We then went to look at the animals. Here are some of the smaller ones. Throughout the day there are animal demonstrations to help you learn more about the animals and how they are cared for.


We had lunch at the restaurant which was really busy. We had to wait quite a while for our food, but it was nice when it arrived and lovely big portions which meant it was worth the cost. If you don't want to dine at the restaurant you can go to the smaller cafe or bring a picnic. There is even an option to purchase a picnic and then you can eat outside in one of the picnic areas.

One of our favourite activities of the day was making scarecrows. The Farm is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the largest display of scarecrows which is currently 3311 and is held in Cincinnati. You can take a scarecrow with you or make one in the scarecrow workshop. We had loads of fun making ours which were numbers 1951, 1952,1953. I really hope they reach their target and break the record.




Sticking with the theme of Scarecrows the farms 11th annual Maize Maze features the Scarecrow's Wedding, the new book from Julia Donaldson. There is a quiz you can do on the way around the maze by finding the clues. We didn't manage to do the complete maze as it is over 3 miles of pathways and bridges. We managed the shorter flower maze and found the Wedding Scene in the big maze. It was all very exciting, but also very tiring, especially for Star. (Maybe we should have tried it out earlier before her energy was waning.) 


We had a fabulous day and would love to go back again sometime. I thought the entry price looked a little high at first, but I didn't really know what to expect and there is really so much to see and do the price seems very reasonable. Tickets are around £9.75 each with under 2s free. It's cheaper to go in the winter and off peak. 







Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay


Linking up with the fabulous Country Kids
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Disclaimer: We were given free admission to the farm for the purpose of this review all thoughts and opinions are my own.



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