Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Perfectly Patriotic with Stork

The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday this weekend and street parties were held up and down the country. The Mall in St James's Park, London was turned into a giant, first of it's kind, street party with 10,000 guests attending the Patron's Lunch. 

Stork challenged me to recreate one of their yummy looking patriotic cakes and we decided to bake a cake fit for a Queen, a colourful Union Jack cake

What the Union Jack cake should look like! 

I have to admit, baking is not something I'm a natural at and I've had more than my fair share of baking failures! But hey, Stork provided me with a fool proof recipe so I thought I'd give it a whirl...whats the worst that could happen?! (And plus I really like eating cake!)


Elliot loves helping me bake so we made a start on the recipe and everything went to plan. No eggshells went into the mixture, we didn't get flour everywhere, spoons were licked! The mixture went into the oven and we waited....

Unfortunately this is where things didn't quite go so smoothly!! When I took the cake out of the oven I realised that although I had greased the tin, it was well and truly stuck. Ahhhhh! Sadly, this is what my cake looked like : 

baking fail! 
I'm not sure even Mary Berry could salvage that disaster so after shedding a few angry tears, we started again! (The "cake" didn't go to waste though, we had it with ice cream and strawberries and it was like a very messy arctic roll!)

Fortunately my second bake was a big success.....I even used baking paper to save any sticking! Aside from my baking errors, the recipe was actually really simple to follow and one I would definitely do again. The double cream on top of the cake made it taste really fresh and light and I loved the fresh fruit on top. 

Woohoo, it almost looks like the original photo! 
We really enjoyed our baking challenge and I hope Her Majesty would be impressed at our Union Jack Cake! 

"I just need to lick it to make sure it's ok!"
For details of the recipe and more yummy looking bakes, head over to the Stork website

*Disclaimer - Stork sent me a voucher to cover the cost of my ingredients, all baking skills were my own ;) 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Educational Play the Schleich Way


Elliot's most favourite thing to play with these days is figures - be that animal figures, Scooby Doo figures, people figures....anything goes as long as it's a figure!

Last year we were introduced to the Schleich brand when my Mum happened to buy Elliot some new figures for his collection and it's a brand that I will always look out for now if I'm shopping for toys.

Schleich have been making toy figurines and playsets for over 80 years and these toys can be played with by children around the world, irrespective of what language they speak or where they live. The figurines teach children about the diversity of nature from an early age and encourages creative and imaginative play. What I love about the figures is that they are created to be as realistic as possible and the quality is top notch.

As part of their "Educational Play the Schleich Way" campaign, they have created a brilliant 16 page brochure which is full of ideas to help your child get the most out of playtime and to maintain a healthy balanced play diet.



I'd not heard of the phase "balanced play diet" before but after reading the brochure it totally makes sense! Children need to spend their time enjoying many different areas of play and these can be broken down into the following: active play, creative play, social play and free play. It really made me think about the ways that Elliot plays and I do need to mix things up a bit and introduce a bit more variety. He loves free play where he can bring his characters to life and it's fascinating hearing his imagination run wild. Creative play is one we need to work on more I think as he would much rather be playing with toys than sitting down to draw or do something creative.

The brochure even includes some ideas for fun games to stimulate your child's imagination - we will definitely be making some time to recreate animal restaurant!

Elliot was sent three Schleich animals to test out and we received a horse, cow and zebra. All three figures were immediately recognisable as Schleich due to the amazing quality and weight - there really isn't another brand on the market that matches Schleich for quality animal figures.


Elliot's favourite game to play with his animal figures is to recreate Longleat Safari Park! He builds a train track and places all the animals around in their groups, and acts out a little story. The new Schleich animals were introduced to their new Longleat neighbours this week and have been settling in well! Elliot also took the animals to his grandparents house and spent ages playing with them in the garden.


I'm sure Elliot will be playing with this Schleich toys for many years to come and I'm also positive we will be adding to his collection soon!

Schleich toys start at £2.99 and can be found online at http://www.schleich-s.co.uk/ or at your local Smyths toystore

*Disclosure - We were sent a selection of schleich figures for writing this honest review - as always, all thoughts are my own. And we genuinely love Schleich toys! 


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Something Special Interactive Magazine

There's one thing that is guaranteed to catch Elliot's eye when we go shopping. Not sweets, not toys....but the magazines! He just can't resist them and I get nagged to death to buy them!

There are so many magazines aimed at pre-schoolers but one of the best ones on the market is Something Special - Mr Tumble is so popular with the little ones and the magazine is just as informative as the Something Special programme.



The latest issue (out on 8th June) has gone interactive and you can watch the characters come to life! All you need to do is download the Blipper App (it's free) and you can access all the extra features in the magazine. Everytime you spot the Blipper symbol, just blip the page using the app and you will find lots of exciting surprises such as videos and even a message from Mr Tumble himself.


Elliot couldn't wait to get to grips with this magazine and the first thing he did was investigate the free gifts. And what brilliant gifts they were! There was an explorer set featuring a notepad, pencil, magnifying glass, binoculars and stickers. The other gift was a make your own Mr Tumble puppet. This little activity was a massive hit and Elliot spent ages sticking on the stickers to make the puppet - he didn't need any help from me and was so excited with his finished result!



The magazine is bursting with activities for little ones and they will recognise all their favourite characters from the Something Special programme. I love that the magazine incorporates Makatron too - on each page you will find pictures of Justin doing the sign for the words used on the page.

One of Elliot's favourite aspects of the magazine is the stickers and he will always look for these first. He enjoys finding the correct page and I think it's a really great way of enhancing his number skills as he is recognising the numbers and matching these up with the page numbers.

The interactive aspect was fun to explore - I've never used Blipper before but it was very simple and even Elliot was able to use it. There were at least 5 Blipper symbols scattered throughout and we had lots of fun spotting these and "blipping" the pages.

One of the things I love about this magazine is that there is plenty for Elliot to do without needing me to help and he is quite happy sat going through the pages and finding activities to do.


The Something Special magazine was a big hit in our house Elliot can't wait for the next issue to see what free gifts there are! 

The new interactive issue is available from 8th June and is £3.99

Disclaimer: We received the magazine for the purpose of this honest review. All views are my own 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Fathers Day 2016 - Bumper Gift Guide


If the men in your family are difficult to buy for (and let's face it, most of them are!) then you might be looking for some inspiration for Father's Day this year. 

I've put together a bumper gift guide, featuring some old faithful choices such as alcohol and toiletries but also some more different options that you might not have considered! 


1. Bomb Cosmetics - Superhero's Saviour Gift Pack - £17.99
2. Choconut Deluxe 12 Piece Assortment Spicy - £20.00
3. anCnoc Highland single malt Scotch - From £34
4. Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky - RRP £28
6. Skates Frenzy Recreational Scooter (adult sized!) - £69.95
9. TABAC Grooming Range - Starting from £4.60
10. Retro Games Controller from Joy - £10.00
11. Beanies Flavour Coffee - Various flavours
12. Coconut Grass - Personalised Pork Scratchings - £9.95
14. Braun Body Groomer - RRP £39.99
15. Aldi Gaguedi South African Shiraz - Case of six £29.34 / single bottle £4.89
16. Vileda Windomatic - £39.99


Look out for a full review of the Scooter coming soon on here, my husband has been testing out it and has been racing with Elliot on his little scooter! 


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Celebrating the Queen's 90th Birthday with iChild

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that the Queen turns 90 this year. (Well she turned 90 in April on her actual birthday but being the Queen she gets a second chance to celebrate on her official birthday in June!)

iChild have created some brilliant free printables and activities to help your child celebrate the Queen's birthday. We were sent a selection and we couldn't wait to see what activities we'd be doing! 

iChild is a fab online resource of printable worksheets and there are tons of education activities for kids aged 0-11 to get stuck into.

Our first activity was making a crown - Elliot needed a bit of help cutting the shape out but everything else was down to him. He didn't want to colour it in, he wanted to stick stickers on it! I suppose at least the stickers were sparkly so kind of fit for Royalty ;)


Included in the pack was several colouring sheets and this was a really simple quick activity that was useful for an afternoon where we didn't have much time but I needed something to keep him busy! Elliot really enjoyed colouring the corgis and I was really impressed that he picked out the blue and red crayons for the flags without any prompting from me. He also enjoyed matching up the crowns.




Another activity we completed was making a paper lantern. Again I gave Elliot a hand with the cutting but he did the snipping in the middle part and helped stick the lantern together with tape. The finished result looked really cute however he did ask if there was actually a light inside it hehe!


A birthday celebration isn't a celebration without cake and the pack included some goodies to help us make some cupcakes fit for a Queen. This is something that Elliot loved doing - I would like to say he helped but most of the actual cake making was him licking the spoon and sticking his fingers in the mixture. Not sure the Queen would approve ;)

The decorated cupcakes went down a storm and Elliot was very proud of his creations. We even made some cute little flags for decoration which finished off the Royal look!


There were so many activities included in our pack and we were really spoilt for choice. I liked that all the worksheets and activities were tailored to Elliot's age group and everything was manageable in short bursts. Elliot is only 3 and sometimes his attention span isn't great, he can get very distracted but the activities included in this pack were perfect for his enjoyment!

The iChild website is absolutely packed with activities to help your child celebrate and understand the Queen's birthday - it's definitely worth taking a look for some rainy day activities!

Thank you to iChild for sending us this pack - we will definitely be using the resources online in the future and can't wait to explore the dinosaur section!


Monday, 30 May 2016

Summer Sides with Primula Cheese

Recently Primula challenged me to create some summer side dishes using their yummy soft cheese. I love anything cheesy and I love Summer time so I was looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen!

I started with looking on Pinterest and there are so many amazing sounding recipes on there....sadly, I soon realised my kitchen skills are abit lacking so I decided to keep things simple and rustle up a summery pasta salad and potato salad.

Cheese & Bacon Pasta Salad

The beauty of this recipe is that you can just add whatever you fancy and the quantities do not need to be accurate. Basically cheese and pasta is always a winner, you can't really go wrong with this!

1 tube of cheese & chive primula
1 splash of olive olive
Generous squirt of mayonnaise
A few handfuls of pasta (or as little or as much as you think you will need)
1 red onion, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
Lean bacon cubes
Sweetcorn
Seasoning

- Cook pasta as normal and run under cold water when done
- Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon pieces.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. The cheese is quite thick so I found using the olive oil and mayo thinned it out and made it easier to mix
- Season to taste - I used chilli seasoning to give it a bit of a kick

Really simple, but a really nice dish that is suitable for the whole family. It also goes perfectly with bbqs as we discovered over the weekend!


Healthy Potato Salad

500g small new potatoes
2 tablespoons Tesco Healthy Living lightest mayo
80g Primula Cheese, Light
Spring onion, chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika

- Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes in salted water until cooked, drain then cool
- Mix in a bowl with the other ingredients bar the paprika
- Season to taste and sprinkle the paprika on last

Potato Salad
This can also be adapted for Slimming World - the mayo is only half a syn per tablespoon and the Primula (the light cheese version) can be used as your healthy extra A choice (80g). Another simple yet effective recipe and one that tastes even nicer the following day I think!

Both dishes went down well with the family and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more summery recipes that I can attempt! We love eating outside and hope we get lots more sunshine filled days this Summer!




Friday, 27 May 2016

Kids Activities to Make Your Home More Personal


It doesn’t matter the weather or the time of day; I can’t get enough of craft activities. Lately, I have taken to designing and making my own home-decorating pieces, which is a great activity to do with my kids because they can see their work every day. If like me, you share a love of all things craft but aren’t sure where to start, I’m here to help!

Don''t Buy - Create!


The best place to start is with items around your home that you have been considering replacing with something new. I am not somebody who enjoys cleaning, so I do my best to keep mud and dirt out of my carpets. One of the best ways is with a shoe rack, requiring all shoes to be taken off before entering. The beauty of this activity is that it only requires the nailing of a few pieces of wood to make the rack, and you are ready to create! Designate each family member a rack for their shoes, and allow them to design how it looks, with colours or prints.

My little one decided to paint his a mixture of green and red, splashed across each other. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but he loves it and it encourages him to use it instead of bringing the entire park inside with him.

Picture This!


Family photos around the home make for a warm and inviting environment and are a great way to share your memories with guests. With your family, choose a selection of recent photos you have all taken and decide where you will hang them around your home. Next, head to a thrift store and get some basic photo frames. Decorate them as you please in a style that will match the room you intend to place them. If you went on a beach holiday, encourage your kids to paint and decorate with a beach theme to match the photo. If you have larger photos that you want to stand out, check out the Groupon discount codes for Photobox where you can all design and order a canvas print hanging picture.

Paper Mache Vase


If you love flowers as much as I do, you have a vase in every room. And while I enjoy the traditional glass look, they provide the perfect canvas for your kids’ creativity. With some old newspaper and a paste glue, create a paper mache layer around each of them. When they are dry, give your children free reign to design them how they like. The best thing about this craft activity is that it doesn’t cost a lot, and you can replace the layers as often as you like to keep your kids busy each weekend and the styles changing.

These are just some of the great craft ideas that you can do at home with your family, and can be a great way to spend a day in or a day out!


*Disclosure - Sponsored Post
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