Wow, did you know that Miffy is 60 years old this year! She’s getting a bit of a makover to appeal to future generations. Her first book was released in 1953 and over 85 million books have been released in 50 different languages. Every should have heard of Miffy.

As part of the birthday celebrations a new TV series, Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small will be starting on Tiny Pop on 2nd October at 7pm.

Do you remember Miffy as a child? Have you read the books to your children? They were created by Dick Bruna, the cute little rabbit and her friends feature a primary colours and simple shapes. It’s exciting to see them brought to life on the TV screen.

To celebrate the new TV show I am hosting a give away for a Miffy Sensory Toy aimed at children 6 months and over it has 14 interactive sensors which when pressed you can hear Miffy talk about parts of her body.

To enter this competition just fill in your details on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good Luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Great British Bake off has reached the quarter finals with patisserie week.

The Signature Bake was 24 cream horns, the Technical Bake, Mary Berry’s Mokatines and the Showstopper a tower of eclairs known as religieus a l’ancienne.

It was time to say goodbye to Paul after his tower of eclairs collapsed, but also he didn’t quite get the sponge right in the mokatines.

So, after missing out on the baking last week I was keen to have a go this time and join in with all the other bakers and Silver Mushroom. I make eclairs quite a lot, but I didn’t fancy creating an entire tower, not without a party coming up anyway. Cream horns are nice but I really fancied a try at the mokatines.

They look pretty simple, although I know the contestants had some bother with them. Surely that was because they only have basic instructions though? Ah, or maybe it’s because it’s a ridiculously fiddly recipe with lots of little components.

I used this recipe, so I’m not going to repeat it here, but I will tell you some things I learnt while baking these seemingly easy mokatines.

First, it’s a genoise sponge, but not like any I’ve baked before, and I’ve baked a few. I’ve always used the whisking the eggs over hot water method and plain flour. I’ve never used cornflour. The sponge came out lovely and light and wasn’t difficult to bake at all.

The coffee buttercream was easy enough for the filling.

While I was toasting the almonds I looked for a no7 star nozzle in my icing accessory box, but I only had a number 8. Be careful when toasting almonds, they burn really quick!

I don’t know whether it was because I scorched a few almonds, it really wasn’t many, but there didn’t seem enough to cover all the cakes. I would say to use 200g rather than 100g.

Then came the creme beurre au moka. I really wasn’t going to make this and just do another batch of coffee buttercream, but I did, I tried. Now, I followed the instructions carefully but I think I may have over cooked the sugar just a little as when I came to piping I kept finding crystals blocking the nozzle. I thought it would taste a bit special but to be honest it tasted like creamy coffee flavoured there’s a surprise!  There was certainly not enough to ice top and bottom of all nine cakes and I found myself whisking up some coffee buttercream to finish them off…which was much nicer and easier to pipe.

Finally the fondant icing. I really cannot understand why you use fondant icing and then water it down…why not just make a coffee coloured icing at the right consistancy? I gave it a go though and it was easy enough to do. Although I didn’t have dark brown food colouring.

One last word. With preparation and cooking and decoration, the whole process took me THREE HOURS. I don’t think I’ll be making them again.

Next year Star will be going to secondary school.
Now is the time we have to choose which school she is to go to and I’ve been dreading this for the following reasons.

  • She has autism
  • She has Elhers Danlos Syndrome
  • She is disabled but has no special education needs
  • It really didn’t work out when my older kids went to secondary school with them both begin educated elsewhere within two years.

Going to mainstream primary school is okay. Younger kids are much more understanding of peers that are a little different. When they get to secondary school it’s so different.

On the autism front, we are lucky because Star is very high functioning, she is not disruptive (mostly) and wants to learn. She takes part fully in lessons. The main problems are her immaturity, which is exacerbated by the fact that she will always be the youngest in the class anyway being August born, and her concentration, if she is not fully engaged at all times she will stop co-operating.

With her EDS she gets a lot of pain but doesn’t tell anyone, which means she will suffer in silence mostly. If it gets too bad then she will get frustrated and that’s when her school work will suffer. Secondary schools are much larger than primary and there are often a lot of stairs and a lot of moving around during the day. It’s going to be tough on her joints. Then there are her gastro problems, which are hoping to get some help with, they could be problematic at a big school.

When a child has disabilities but no special educational needs I have found that the school finds it difficult to categorise them. Those with SEN can go into special classes, but this is not appropriate for a child who is able to compete with their peers academically. Also, Star’s disabilities are, mostly, invisible, which causes more confusion on how she should be treated.

My past experiences are from more than fifteen years ago, but they are still very raw in my mind. It is so difficult when school doesn’t work for your child. Obviously you want them to have a good education, but you also want them to be happy and safe in their environment. It’s not good when it all goes wrong.

Last week I took Star to visit a local Secondary School. It was one she had expressed a wish to attend, so I figured that was good place to start. We spent two hours touring the school, taking part in mini-lessons and speaking to the head teacher. Star was very impressed and I felt quite happy too.

Today, I had another visit with Star’s Dad in tow. We saw the school at work during a normal school day which was nice. We also had the chance to have a good chat about the future of the school and all of the worries I have about Star attending secondary school.

I was assured that the school has experience of dealing with autistic pupils from all areas of the spectrum and they were integrated into the classrooms and taught with their peers.

I was assured that because it was a small school that each individual pupil was known by staff personally and their needs always known. So if Star was having a bad day with pain or tiredness they would accommodate her by giving her extra time to get to her classes or letting her have lessons on the lower floor only. They are also in the process of building a new school which will have lifts for children who need them.

I was assured that even when the new school building was open that the school would still be a small school with a family like environment. I do think this would be better for Star, I like that the teacher’s will know her and know what her difficulties are. It would be much more difficult in a larger school.

So, at the moment, I am feeling quite confident that this will be our choice of school. I am not going to make up my mind without viewing other schools, but I doubt that we will be happier anywhere else. I am currently happy for Star to continue in mainstream school, I just hope I’m making the right decision.

The Reading Residence

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Two years ago I moved house from a place where I had lived for twenty four years. I found the whole experience very daunting. There is so much to think about when moving but when you add in the mixture your pets and your children it makes it all so much more difficult.

We had the added stress of having our moving date changed several times. It helped a little letting the children know right from the beginning what was going to happen though. We talked to them about moving house and changing schools, we discussed all their worries and fears and visited the area we were moving to so it wouldn’t be so strange for them.

The packing was the worst part. After living in the same house for twenty four years you accumulate an awful lot of stuff! We started by having massive clear outs and getting rid of all the things we no longer needed. They were taken to charity shops or the skip.

Then we set down to packing everything up. I involved the kids by letting them pack their toys into boxes and helping me write on the boxes. We colour coded the boxes for each room for ease. They still got mixed up on the day but it did help quite a lot.

It’s important to get your removal company right. I left that job up to my partner and it didn’t go to plan because he’d left it really late. We ended up calling around the day before we moved to try and get someone to fit us in. The company would not have been my first choice, but we had no choice left. So choose wisely, and in plenty of time.

On the day we took the kids to grandma’s house and she looked after them while we did the heavy moving. When we were ready to sort everything out the other end we picked up the kids. The whole experience can be very overwhelming, so keeping them out of the way as long as possible is the best idea if you can.

I packed suitcases for all the essentials we would need for the first day or two so they would be easy to find and close at hand. I was going away the day after we moved so I had a bag packed for that too. these were kept at grandma’s house until the very last minute.

Unpacking and getting back into a routine was not easy and took us ages. We tried to make it easier for the kids by having their space ready for them. we sorted their bedrooms and made sure they had their favourite toys. For ages our new home was a maze of boxes, but slowly and surely it all got sorted and life in our new home began.

Do you like moving house? Have you done it more than once? Is it harder with kids?

Moving House With Children
Attribution to

Disclosure: All thoughts and opinions are my own, infographic provided by Volition Removals London.

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Last Friday morning started just like any other. I got up, got ready and took the kids to school.
A couple of hours later I was on my way to London as I’d been voted as a finalist in this years MAD blog awards. This is my second time at the awards, and I have my lovely readers and friends to thank for voting me there. It’s such a lovely experience.

This year I arrived a lot less frazzled. Last time I’d set off the day after moving house and at the end of a nightmare week. So it was nice to get to the lovely Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington feeling relaxed and able to take my time to get ready and chat with my plus one for the evening, Steph from Steph’s Two Girls.

We arrived at the event in time for a glass of champagne and the chance to chat with all the other guests. We had our photo taken in front of a big screen and then were given the opportunity to decorate it. I tried to disguise myself as much as possible with a nice big pair of sunglasses. I know the photo will show up somewhere!

Then we were seated for our meal. I was a little further away from the stage this time but I was sat with some wonderful ladies. It was so nice to meet Hayley from Downside Up at last and also the lovely Emma from FACS. The meal was lovely, we had a goat’s cheese fondant starter, chicken main and chocolate pudding with ice cream. I did take photos of my food but they were not brilliant, my phone camera does not work so well in candlelight (neither do my eyes!) If you are on Instagram though you must have seen a meal or fifty being photographed at the same time, I believe there may have been a race to be first to post.

After dinner it was time for the awards and hosting the evening was the charming Dr Ranj in his wonderful curtain suit. Well, he said he’d cut up some old curtains, but I distinctly remember my gran having a settee in that material!

You can find a full list of winners on the Tots100 site here. I didn’t win in my category, I never expected to, I was up against some fabulous bloggers. It’s such a privilege to be there though, winning doesn’t even cross my mind. The Outstanding Contribution category is always an emotional one, such deserving bloggers that work so hard on their messages. Becky from Baby Budgeting introduced the award with a lovely speech about how blogging is all about the friends you make by writing from the heart.

I will admit, as I have done before, I’m not good at making friends. I’m not good at socialising and events like this make me feel kind of invisible. I find it difficult to introduce myself to people and when I do I’m often received with a blank stare because they have never heard of me or my blog. But I have made some really lovely friends in the blogging world and for that I am truly grateful. Becky is so right, it’s not about who is the best or the most popular, it’s about having a platform to express yourself and make friends, especially if that’s something you find difficult to do normally. So blogging should be celebrated like this.

Photo courtesy of  Tom Arber/ Tots100

I had a wonderful evening and I’m so thrilled to have been able to attend. Sally and the Tots 100 team work so hard to make the event a memorable one for everyone so I’d like to say a big thank you to them and also to the sponsors of the awards and of course the Royal Garden Hotel.

Congratulations to all the winners and the finalists.

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