A Trip to The Nature Reserve

We made the most of the midweek sunshine and treated ourselves to a trip to our local nature center, or The Nature Reserve as it is now known. It’s had a bit of a revamp (and a huge price increase) Since we moved house we are actually closer now and we pass it all the time so the kids have been driving us bonkers to go there for a visit.

We were so lucky with the weather, it really was a beautiful sunny and warm day. Star was feeling good too. We set off in the morning and took our own picnic for lunch.

As always the littlies always love looking at the animals.

Favourite animals where the spider monkeys. They were so funny playing with their sticks. They also liked the meerkats, snakes and the giant tortoise. In fact they liked most of the animals and had lots of fun watching them.

Here are a couple of strange looking ring tailed lemurs.
We had time to play in the playground but it was very busy so we didn’t stay long and Star was entertained a little more quietly.

Then Boo and the Little Man decided they wanted their faces painted. We had to wait for about half an hour for their turn. Daddy took Star off to look around the shop while we waited. It was the first time the Little Man had had his face painted and he sat so still, he barely moved a muscle, it was hard to believe it was the same little boy, he doesn’t normally stay that still, not even while sleeping!
The end result was two beautiful cats.

This door always creates a lot of interest. Situated on the side of a large shed, it is bolted but not locked.
Do you know what is behind it?
Worlds Most Dangerous Animal

Star was a little nervous but I went with her and she pulled back the bolt and opened the door.

Behind the door is a mirror!
Ingenious, the World Most Dangerous Animal is of course a human being.
We had a lovely day, it was so nice just to get out of the house and this week we’ve been out twice. Once to the Nature Reserve and then into town to the Skribbies store. Next week we have another treat lined up as we are off the the Town Hall to see a performance of Jaqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather!

Linking up with the fabulous Coombe Mill Blog and Country Kids, go see what every was has been up to gettin out and about this week.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Shoes You Can Draw On – A Skribbies Review

I was delighted to be invited along with the girls to the Skribbies Pop-Up store in Birmingham. They are there until the 21st April in the Bull Ring.

The girls were really excited to see what Skribbies were like and they were not disappointed.
Skribbies high top trainers come with a set of pens, stickers and a wristband which also works as an eraser. Then you let your kids creativity loose as they design how they would like their Skribbies to look.
Not happy?
Then wipe it all off and start all over again.
Or you can have a new look every day. In fact, they are quite addictive, I’ve already tried out a few designs of my own since coming home, and yesterday we had family visiting and they all had a go a doing a little doodle on the shoes.

Currently Skribbies high tops come with either a pink, blue or black trim. They invite your children to express themselves as they create their own designs. They are well made and the girls claimed them to be very comfy. I hear that regular trainers will soon be added to the repertoire.

Here are my girls showing off their new Skribbies.

The shoes retail at £39.99 and if you can’t make it to Birmingham you can order online at the Skribbies Shop. I think they are great value, not only do you get a decent pair of well made shoes, but you get something unique and fun and your kids will love them.

Here are my girls having some fun decorating their Skribbies at the shop.

Skribbies is a UK company founded by Jennifer Duthrie. We met Jennifer on the day and she really is lovely, that’s why I was thrilled to hear that she is a semi-finalist in Virgin Media’s Pitch to Rich competition. It would be lovely if you could take a moment to vote for her by clicking through to the site Pitch to Rich. If Jennifer wins her category she will get the opportunity to meet Sir Richard Branson and pitch to him for help in her business venture. The voting closes on April 23rd at midday.

Good Luck Jennifer!

Disclosure: We were invited to the Skribbies pop up stall in Birmingham where the girls were given a pair of Skribbies each. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own. All artistic creativity and imagination was provided by my girls.

Family Fever

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.

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

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.

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

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

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.