Last week was half term and for us it was pretty relaxed. I love having the kids around, they are not too demanding now that they are older and it’s just nice to have their company. I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality lately, especially as a really lovely lady I know has been told that she has probably just three years left. It certainly makes you think. And I just want to spend as much time as possible with my family close by.
We hadn’t planned much this Halloween as Graham had to take Ash (the kitten) into the Vets for his operation. Only, I got the time wrong and he was too late, so Ash still has his manhood intact for the time being.
This means that there was no-one to take the kid’s trick or treating so I made it up to them a little by baking cookies and letting them decorate them with spooky creatures. They had loads of fun. It’s funny how a simple gingerbread man cookie cutter can be used to create monsters. The other cookies I cut out free hand.
They also enjoyed answering the door with a big bucket of sweets to hand out to all the visitors.
The rest of the half term week was fairly quiet with us staying in and keeping warm and occupying our time with homework, laptops, and lego. I just enjoyed not having to get up and rush around in the morning to get everyone ready for school.
Our friends invited us over to their house for fireworks on Saturday night. There was no bonfire but plenty of explosions to enjoy.
If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of garden fireworks and after the first few the Little Man decided he couldn’t handle the noise (he does have sensory issues.) So we watched from the window. I had to go in because the cold and noise was making me feel ill too. Pretty soon, Boo joined us along with two of our friend’s kids. I was surprised at Star who stayed out and enjoyed every minute, she’s never enjoyed fireworks before. But she was with a good friend which I guess made a difference.
The sparklers were a better hit, and so were the hot dogs that were served. Overall, it was nice to catch up with friends and do something different.
Back to School
Monday saw the kids going back to school. We had everything sorted, clothes, homework, p.e. kits, school bags etc the day before. It still turned out to be a manic morning. What is it about school mornings that things just don’t go smoothly?
The kids going back to school made me think about our friends, the ones we spent Saturday night with. When we lived in our old house, all of our kids went to the same school and that’s how we met.
I remember one day, some 7 years ago, I was waiting in the school playground with a baby Little Man in his pushchair. It was nearly time for Boo to finish her day at nursery. Then this man, who I don’t ever remember seeing before, came over to me and started telling me about how he’d fallen off his bike and hurt his knee.
He then proceeded to lift up his trouser leg and show me the hurt knee. Then he showed me his hurt elbow and I remember thinking ‘who is this strange guy showing me his body parts in the school playground?’
After that, he sought me out every day in the playground and spoke to me, it turned out that our three children were all very similar in age. Before long, they were knocking on our door in the morning and we were walking to school together.
Over the years we have become good family friends, despite us both moving house and school. Of course I don’t see them every day now, but it’s still nice to catch up when we do.
The Little Man loves structured activities and he loves receiving a Weekend Box in the post. This Weekend Box was dinosaur themed and he really couldn’t wait to get started on it.
If you are unfamiliar with The Weekend Box it is a subscription service where you can receive a box addressed to your child every other weekend, or once a month if you wish. In each box you can choose to have either two or four activities and each one comes with everything you need. (You may need scissors though.) Having the things supplied means no rummaging around to find stuff.
I do have a huge box of craft bits and pieces at home but nothing excites The Little Man more than a box in the post and he’s much keener to get on with it.
The box we reviewed had four activities and was dinosaur themed. The activities come in coloured wallets, generally blue, green, red and yellow. Also provided is a booklet with all the instructions, a sheet of stickers to put in the booklet when each activity is finished, a certificate for your child when the activities are completed, a little cartoon to finish and a colouring page.
Let’s start with a joke;
Q. What do you call a sleeping dinosaur
A. A dino-snore!
The Blue Bag
The blue bag contained everything you needed to make a dinosaur claw. This involved cutting out a template, drawing around the template and cutting that out. Adding little finger nails which were provided as stickers then threading a ribbon through it so you can tie it onto your own hand to look like a dinosaur claw.
The Little Man really enjoyed this activity and loved his claw.
The Green Bag
This activity was making an egg hatching to reveal a baby dinosaur. Boo was keen to have a go at this and set about drawing an egg and adding a baby dinosaur.
First the cracked egg was drawn on white card and then she cut it out. I pushed the paper fastener through the card so that the two halve of the egg would open and close. Then Boo drew a dinosaur head onto a piece of green paper. The egg and dinosaur were decorated and Boo was really pleased with her work which, apart from the paper fastener, she had done all by herself.
In the yellow bag was a Clothes Peg Dinosaur and this was rated as the most difficult activity. First The Little Man coloured in the clothes peg with the black felt tip provided. While he was busy doing this I cut out two rows of dinosaur teeth on the white sticker paper provided. Then we used the template to cut out a dinosaur head on red paper. I stuck the teeth onto the peg and The Little Man stuck the head pieces on. The end result was a cool looking dinosaur which actually roars.
The Red Bag
This bag contained everything you needed to make Dino Egg Nests. We were provided with a little amount of chocolate, a small bag of Rice Crispies, four mini eggs, a sachet of honey and two cupcake cases.
The instructions said to melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, but we put ours in the microwave for speed and ease. Then we stirred the Rice Crispies into the chocolate and when they were all coated we added the honey.
They were then put in the fridge until set.
The Little Man and Boo couldn’t wait to tuck in!
We had great fun with our weekend box and now you can try a mini box ( 2 activities) for free or a bumper box (4 activities) for just £1. Just follow this link where the discount will be already applied https://www.weekendboxclub.com/af/deliver
Here is a little video we made;
And a special Face Paint Box review here.
This week it was pudding week on The Great British Bake Off. We had steamed puddings for signature bakes, molten chocolate puddings for technical and Trifles for show stopper bakes.
Now my miserable family are not keen on puddings unless they are chocolate so I didn’t have much choice but to go for the molten chocolate puddings for my bake.
The next problem was…there are seven of us and most recipes for individual puddings were for 4 or six. So I had to do some adjusting and my recipe makes seven puddings, made in regular ramekins.
If I’m honest, they were not perfect to look at, but they did pass the taste test.
I added a little white chocolate to the kids puddings, both in the middle and on top. For the adults we had to make do with dark chocolate because the white didn’t go very far (or it may have got eaten by a family member when I left it in the fridge!)
The other puddings fared even worse for presentation…it’s a minus 4 from me! As soon as I took them out of the ramekins they collapsed as the middle bit oozed out. Too much chocolate maybe? I think they might have needed a little more cooking. I was under the impression that they had to be served straight from the oven, which I’m sure contributed to them breaking up.
Here is my recipe (if you want it!)
- 200g butter
- 200g dark chocolate
- 100g white chocolate (if adding)
- 5 eggs
- 100g caster sugar
- 75gg self raising flour
- tbs of cocoa powder.
- Melt the dark chocolate and butter in bowl over a pan of hot water. (or carefully in the microwave) set aside to cool
- in a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and light
- fold the chocolate into the egg mixture
- add the flour and cocoa powder and fold in
- grease 7 ramekin moulds
- divide the mixture between the moulds place on a baking tray. If adding white chocolate put a chunk into the top of the mixture, no need to push it in as it will sink while baking.
- bake in a pre-heated oven 180C/gas mark 4 for 10 – 12 minutes
- when baked, loosen the puddings and turn out carefully onto serving plates.
I’m really getting into the Great British Bake Off now, despite the missing Mary, Mel and Sue. It’s all about the baking after all.
This week was bread week and I love baking bread…but I’ve not done so for a long time. The signature task was to bake tea cakes, something I’ve never tried before but I may try one day as I do like a nice toasted tea cake with my cuppa. The technical challenge was a cottage loaf, again I’ve not made one before but I do remember making a mini one many many years ago at school. Finally, the show stopper was a bread sculpture, yes, like I’d have the time, or energy for that!
So, I went for the cottage loaf. I love making bread kneading by hand but with my hands giving me so much trouble lately, it was good to have two little helpers to hand, Star and Boo, who each took turns with the kneading.
The recipe I used was a basic white loaf recipe.
500g bread flour
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1tsp dried yeast
320 ml of warm water
rub the butter into the flour
add the sugar, salt and yeast,
mix in the water a little at a time until you have a firm dough
knead the dough for 10 mins and leave in a bowl covered with cling film, or a tea towel for about 1 hour
knead the dough again and shape into two rounds, one slightly bigger than the other
Put the smaller mound on top of the larger one and push two fingers all the way through both rounds from the middle of the top round.
leave to prove, covered lightly, for a further 30 mins.
Bake at 180 C for 40 mins, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
I’m a big fan of The Great British Bake Off and bake along with it every year. This year it changed channels and I forgot it was on last week! I did manage to catch it on catch-up tv though but it was too late to bake along. This week again I missed it when it was on, it’s just not a good time for me, but I recorded it to watch at leisure. I have to say, I’m enjoying the new show despite no Mary or Mel and Sue. After all, it’s about the baking really. The only thing I would say is that it seems a lot more rushed as they have to fit everything in for the adverts. One good thing about catch-up or recording, you don’t have to watch the adverts 🙂
This week it was biscuit week and for a long time now I’ve wanted to make Bourbons, but I guess I just didn’t feel like it, so I handed the challenge over to the kids.
Star’s Chocolate Creams
Star went for the cream challenge and she made a softer cookie dough for her biscuits and piped them into rounds before I cooked them for her. Then she filled them with chocolate butter cream. I think they turned out pretty good, even though they were not all exactly the same.
Boo’s Iced Biscuits
Boo just wanted to do her own thing so she made a biscuit dough she could roll and cut out shapes from. She wanted to do different sized hearts but I couldn’t find my pack of heart cutters, so she just chose shapes from the box. This is just a small selection of them after she’d piped icing on them.
The Little Man’s Minecraft Biscuit Creation
When I told the Little Man of the options he said he wanted to make a game. Mmmm a bit adventurous for a seven year old I think! Of course his favourite game at the moment is Mine Craft so he wanted to make Mine Craft biscuits. They had to be square to represent the blocks on Mine Craft. Then he decorated them himself, the middle biscuit is the player and the little ones around it are dirt blocks. I can’t really explain it any clearer.
They had loads of fun with their baking and decorating, it was a great way to while away an afternoon. The biscuits all tasted pretty good too, especially as I just winged the recipe.
Next week it’s bread week and I’ve been meaning to bake some bread for a while now so fingers crossed it will be me baking…although the kids will probably want to make some too!
If you want to see what other bloggers have been baking this week then please check out the GBBO blogger linky over on Mummy Mishaps blog.