30 October 2014

Yummy simple spicy biscuits

I had some rare one on one time with Little 1 last Friday, she had an inset day at school and Little 2 was at playgroup in the afternoon, I asked her what she wanted to do and she wanted to bake. We decided to make some biscuits to take to our friends who we were staying with over the weekend.

The recipe we used was one from a cook book that I was given as a birthday present when I was 7 or 8 and I have made them many many times, they are really yummy and simple.
Image: My First Cook Book-Dorling Kindersley
Ingredients: 
75g butter
275g plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 small egg
50g golden syrup
100g soft brown sugar
1 dessertspoon cinnamon

Method: Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl then add the butter at room temperature chopped up into small pieces. With your fingers combine the butter with the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (in our house we call this tickling the mixture, Little 1 loves to do this bit).


Tickling the mixture!

Next beat an egg in a small bowl and add to it the golden syrup until the mixture is smooth, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly add the eggy syrup mix, stir until a ball of dough is formed. Little 1 likes to do it all herself, I love the look of concentration on her face. I did have to help when it became too stiff for her though.



To make it easier to roll out put it in a bag or wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge for 30 minutes. Little 1 decided she wanted to make heart shaped biscuits for her friends but out of all the cutters we had that was the one shape we hadn't got so I suggested we make fairy biscuits (al a Christmas angel cutter!) and she chose to do star shaped ones too.


Our cut out shapes were placed on a baking tray and baked at 170 degrees for 10-15 minutes. I took them out of the oven as they began to go brown and they were still soft as they harden as they cool and they are rather tasty slightly soft we think.

Once they were cool, and Little 2 was home from playgroup we set about decorating them. I had found some purple food colouring at the shops so we had pale lilac icing and lots of sprinkles. The Little ones were given free reign with the icing and sprinkles so the biscuits were well covered!




They did look rather good when they were finished and we all couldn't wait to have a taste, the ones with the most sprinkles went first! We took the rest of our biscuits to our friends as a Thank You for having us over the weekend, everyone loved them, they didn't last long.


27 October 2014

Family fun with new board games

Now that the Little ones are getting a bit older we are able to do things that we were not able to do before. After tea the other Saturday I decided to see if the four of us could all sit down together and play a family game, something we haven't attempted before.

It was really lovely, we chose a simple animal bingo game we had and we managed to play it almost twice before Little 2 began to lose interest, it was lovely that the four of us were sat on the carpet together all playing and understanding the rules, taking in turns and having some good simple family time.

I have lots of memories of playing games with my brother on wet and wintery afternoons sat on little chairs at the nest of tables underneath the front window, we had games of Monopoly that would last all weekend, draughts, chess, ludo, Guess Who and many more. It was also something we did at Christmas, at various aunties and uncles houses, there would be games going on in each room with nibbles and drinks for the adults, this is where I learnt to play cards and I loved to join in when I was allowed.

When I left home I took a few of our old games with me and they have sat in the cupboard for the last 13 years (apart from a couple of times I have tried to introduce them but the girls were too young), upon the success of Bingo we brought down Guess Who? and a couple of others I thought Little 1 would understand and we spent much of a wet weekend playing games together, properly through to the end with rules too, Little 2 had a go at some of the easier ones and didn't eat or run off with the pieces, it was really nice to be able to do this with the girls now they are a little older.  

A couple of weeks after our game playing weekend the girls are still getting out the games and asking to play them with us, so it was good timing when we were asked to review a couple of games by University Games, the games arrived on a Saturday so they duly opened one each and we were set for the morning, perfect.


Bunny Jump- This is a quick simple game perfect for the Little ones, players take it in turns to remove carrots from the 'field' according to the number on the spinner, while waiting anxiously for the bunny to jump from his burrow. When he jumps players have to catch him to earn extra carrots to help win the game. The winner is the one with the most carrots.



This game is not unlike another we have along similar lines however it has that extra element of fun, you get to take one or two carrots to add to your basket according to the spinner or can pinch a carrot from another player as well as trying to catch the bunny when he jumps (he is soft so it doesn't hurt) to earn more. The game is fairly short so we get lots of goes at catching the bunny before anyone get bored and it has been useful for Little 2 as well, learning about counting in ones and twos as she gathers her carrots. The girls can easily play this game alone too which means it scores bonus points in my book as well. 

Bunny Jump is aimed at age 4+ (however at 2 years 8 months Little 2 can play it well with a little counting help) and can be bought in Toys R Us, Hamleys, Argos, Smyths, Amazon and Toymaster for SRP £19.99. 

Don't rock the boat- This is a fun balancing game aimed at ages 5+ where you have to take it in turns to balance your pirate penguins on the ship without making it tip. The ship is precariously placed on the waves and the fun begins, it is a really wobbly ship and the penguins can sit or stand in the nests, deck or masts as well as having a hook on their bandana too. We didn't manage to get more than a couple of turns each before the ship tipped and the penguins fell off. Looking at the bottom of the ship where it is placed on the wave, it balances on a foam pad and I expect as you play the game more the foam will dent a little making the ship a little more stable. 


We had fun playing the game, Little 2 lost interest quite quickly but she is a bit too young for it anyway, Little 1 and I played it a while and had a great laugh. She continued to balance the penguins on the ship herself after I had stopped playing and was concentrating very hard, great for her manual dexterity skills and concentration. Little 2 had a little game going with the penguins on the carpet too. 



Don't Rock The Boat is suitable for 2-4 players and is available at Toymaster, Argos, Toy's R Us, Amazon and Smyths SRP£14.99.

These games will both be coming out at half term when we have friends to play, I think they will keep the children occupied a while!

We like to play games in our house, in the evenings with friends, at Christmas time and now with the girls too, when do you play games in your house?

N.B We received both Bunny Jump and Don't Rock the Boat in return for this post.

24 October 2014

Autumn leaf printing

The Little Ones like collecting things, leaves, seeds, stones, twigs, feathers and anything else they spot that takes their fancy while we are walking around. Up until recently I have made them leave it on the front garden which now resembles some sort of overgrown feather covered compost area unless it was a rather important item then it was allowed to sit on the shelf above the radiator for a few days before being flung outside when they were not looking!

They have been picking up leaves for weeks now, I have to admit I love the piles of yellowing autumn leaves and seeing them blowing around in the breeze, so when Little 2 picked up two huge maple shaped leaves this morning I thought we should do something with them, and having not painted in a little while leaf printing came to mind. She thought it was a fab idea.


I set her up with some protective gear and we got going, first using yellow and red paint to paint the leaves and print them, she loved peeling the leaves off and finding the print underneath.



Then we mixed the two colours together to make orange, she was a bit amazed that she could make another colour at first and thinking about it, it was probably the first time we had really talked about mixing colours as generally she is very good and doesn't do that when she is painting, or really notice it is happening.


We then added a bit of green paint to make it go brown and our autumn colour leaf printing pictures were finished and they looked great.




I then let her free with the paint and she started to paint a picture, she said it was a picture of the baby in my tummy, she drew a face and gave it eyes and then coloured it in. She then discovered the water pot and spent the next 15 minutes just mixing colours and putting the brush in the water and repeating the process with the odd bit of dabbing the wet brush on kitchen roll.


She was really engrossed in this and concentrating hard, I kept changing the water in the pot for fresh so she could see the different colours she was making, it was lovely to see her so engaged with what she was doing, she didn't speak or ask any questions just watched and discovered. I think it is great when a planned activity goes off on a tangent of discovery (as long as it isn't a really messy one), I love to see how her little mind works and the way that children think and learn.



Have you done any Autumn activities this week?

22 October 2014

Bathtime shenagains

Okay... Picture the scene, I am standing on the landing between the bathroom and my bedroom slightly soggy! There is a large lump in my bed and two damp discarded towels in the doorway, loud giggles and squeals of delight are coming from under the lump then up pop the Little ones fresh faced from the bath, wet hair dripping all over my bed as I wasn't quick enough to grab more than a quick swipe with a towel as they ran in.



I attempt to take a step towards them but my feet won't let me, they have gone to sleep, pins and needles from kneeling down beside the bath washing hair for the last 15 minutes (curly hair really does take a long time to rinse!). My back hasn't fared much better at almost 5 months pregnant leaning a bumps width away from the bath trying to rinse their hair has just about done it in, god I feel old!! 

Daddy has gone AWOL after I had asked him to fetch clean pyjamas, I wonder what he will return with, he has been gone ages and the bedrooms are only a few metres apart!

Little 1 has disappeared again into the depths of our duvet, oh I do hope the bed dries out before I have to get into it, wet sheets, yuck. Little 2 is now shrieking and streaking around the bed completely naked, my ears are beginning to scream!

Daddy has returned and attempts to grab the children laughing and kicking and wrestle them into their pyjamas while I turn my attention to the bathroom to avoid being kicked. The toys are put to drain in the sink and 4 (yes, 4) wet flannels loitering in balls along the side of the bath dripping onto the floor are squeezed and hung to dry, towels picked up and the bath emptied. I deal with the mess trying not to slip on the puddled floor.

The girls are dressed, snuggly winter pyjamas for one and shorts and t-shirt for the other (?!), their hair is dried amid screams of 'Owwwww' 'Don't do me first' and 'I wanted Daddy to do it', a fight over who gets to hold the hair dryer ensues and then it is downstairs for milk and a biscuit before the battle of who is brushing who's teeth and reading them their stories.

This is a totally normal bathtime in our house, are we totally crazy to be adding a third child into the mix?? I have to admit it is always a little bit mad when Daddy is around as he has the knack of sending the children a bit bonkers just by being home, when he is working late bathtime is much calmer, there is less noise and I get a drier bed too.

How is bathtime in your house? Is it as crazy as ours?

20 October 2014

The annoying pregnancy niggles..

The things your body does while growing a baby are amazing and all for a reason but sometimes things in pregnancy just do not make sense.

Now don't get me wrong I know I am lucky to be pregnant with a healthy baby and no complications, this is just a light hearted post about the little things going on with me at the moment.

Feeling sick/Indigestion- I presume these symptoms are to prevent you eating bad things that might harm you or your baby and are as a result of all the hormones running around in my body and a growing baby sitting/kicking away at my stomach/intestines but why is it that the only thing I could stomach in the early weeks were crisps and preferably salt and vinegar ones- not healthy at all all that salt and fat, anything else made me feel really really sick and caused horrible indigestion for hours.

The smell of cooking food especially garlic and cooking vegetables sent me running for the bathroom every time, and the thought of eating vegetables was enough to turn my stomach. I didn't eat particularly well in the first 3 months and there are still days when all I feel like eating is carbs and yoghurt!

Cravings- None of my cravings have been that strange, with both Little 1 and 2 I wanted ice cold strawberry nesquik which I was happy to indulge in as it was healthy, this time all I have craved for months is crisps, salt and vinegar in particular and pickled onion too, not at all good for me, the milk I can understand calcium etc but salty carbohydrate laden crisps???? I do limit the salt in our diets by buying healthy living products and low salt options for sauces gravy etc, I don't eat much cheese or salty things so I suppose crisps is where I would usually get my salt from, perhaps my body is needing a bit more of it! I try not to give in too often but we have been known to consume a whole pack of pringles between us pretty sharpish on an evening, I have stopped buying them now!! 

Sleep- I have been completely shattered throughout the whole of this pregnancy so far much more tired than the other two times and I am not going to work this time. I don't really understand how I can be so tired, Little 2 and I spend a few hours each day playing and a little bit of watching tv quietly but I suppose I am running about a lot, household jobs, school runs, shopping etc I do not sit down much until after lunch as I have spent the morning doing things, then it is back to playgroup/school and tea, homework, getting the girls to bed etc.

The thing is, it's made much worse by the fact that my body will not actually let me get the sleep I so desperately feel I need. I seem to lie awake some nights for ages before drifting off to sleep despite feeling shattered and then there is the inevitable trips to the loo in the night, twice most nights now and I try not to drink very much after tea in an attempt to limit the night time wakings! 

When I do get back into bed I can't get back to sleep and often lie there for an hour or so waiting to drop off, sometimes it is the kicking squirming little baby inside having a night time party (which is lovely really) and others I just don't know. The Little ones are pretty good sleepers and don't wake me up much. Little 2 will often wake needing a wee in the early hours but it only takes a minute and she goes straight back off thankfully as I lie there listening to the church clock strike the hours as they tick by.

Why is it at a time I am soooo tired and really need to sleep that I just can't get to sleep, it makes for one grumpy Mummy in the mornings!!

What were your pregnancy niggles? What annoyed you the most? Was there a symptom you were glad to see the back of?

18 October 2014

Making an Olaf party game

When Little 1 said she wanted a Frozen birthday party I decided to have a go at making my own party game and thought stick the nose on Olaf would be an easy one to make.

We started with sticking 4 sheets of A3 paper together and used a sponge to paint the sky and the snow with blue and white paint swirled together for the sky and silver for the snow.




I then found a picture of Olaf on the internet to copy, considering I was not that great at art at school, I think I did a pretty good job, I drew it freehand in pencil on two sheets of A3 and then went over it with a black pen before colouring in the arms, mouth and buttons as well as drawing a carrot for the nose.


Even if I do say so myself I thought it was a good likeness and it looked good on the wall. I traced the first carrot nose I had drawn and cut them all out read for the party.


I was supposed to take a picture while the children were playing the game but I forgot as I was busy tying the scarf and spinning the children around, as you can see we had two winners with one girl getting the nose in exactly the right place, it was definitely luck, she couldn't see, I'd checked! 


So there you have it a simple but effective party game that didn't cost hardly anything to make and the girls all enjoyed having a go. You could also try pin the tail on Sven or the crown on Elsa too. 

15 October 2014

Bowling birthday fun

When we asked Little 1 what she wanted to do for her birthday she said she wanted a bowling party (I am not quite sure where she got the idea from as she had not been bowling before) but we decided taking a bunch of 4 year olds bowling was probably not the best idea as they might get bored. So we decided to ask the grandparents and Uncle M instead and went after school on her birthday (Friday).

She thought it was great having to put on funny shoes and got stuck straight in trying to type in her name and pick up all the heavy bowling balls.




Daddy snapped this lovely picture of me and our girls, I just had to put it in!


Little 1 thought the thingy (!) to help her roll the ball was brilliant however it took her several attempts to actually roll the ball gently off it rather than give it a good shove causing it to jump alarmingly on to the alley half way down with a large bang!


smile for the camera-who me?

She also had a go at bowling without it and looked quite good up there getting quite into it shouting to the ball to move over a bit.


Then she went and scored herself a strike, I had the camera on at the time pointing at her back to take a picture as she turned around but she took me by surprise and was so happy I was almost not quite quick enough!

Strrrriiiiiiiike!

I think it is safe to say that she had a great time bowling as she has asked to go again already. Little 2 had a good time as well, she had a few goes on my turn and Daddy's turn too and got quite excited as she was waiting to see how many she knocked down, she didn't get bored and run off either so I was pretty impressed. We will be going bowling again soon.

13 October 2014

Little 1 turns 5 years old

This past weekend has been one big birthday bash for a certain little girl. My beautiful eldest daughter has turned 5 and I can not quite believe it, where has the time gone? My tiny little dot of a baby has grown into a kind, friendly and funny little girl and I am pleased to say she had a great time this weekend!


Her birthday was Friday, a school day, her face lit up like a Christmas tree when she came downstairs to find a small pile of gifts wrapped in Frozen paper (as she is Frozen mad at the moment), we had time for a couple of presents before Daddy left for work and she was over the moon to find a pink Hello Kitty camera from Mummy and Daddy, this kept her busy until it was time for school. 


It was a bit strange leaving her at school that morning knowing she was going to spend most of her birthday in class with her friends and not at home with us but having left her with a large bag of sweets for her classmates Little 2 and I went home to bake cakes and assemble the decorations for her party the following day as I thought she would like to come home to a decorated living room as a surprise. We were having a Frozen themed party so I had bought pink, blue and silver balloons and snowflake ceiling christmas decorations and some banners.




She was really pleased when she got home from school to see the decorations and had time for a few more presents before we went bowling with Nanny, Uncle M, Granny and Grampy. It was the first time she had been bowling, she had a great time even scoring a strike (post here) we followed it up with a trip to McDonalds for tea (another first for the Little ones) which went down a treat, back home it was more presents and birthday cake and then one very overtired little girl was put to bed.



Saturday was party day, after a busy morning preparing food and assembling party bags, nine of her school friends and a cousin came to her Frozen themed party, most were dressed as Elsa! We played pass the parcel, pinned the nose on Olaf (How to make an Olaf party game), danced to the film soundtrack with disco lights and a laser courtesy of Uncle Rich, played musical statues and bumps as well as the girls making their own Frozen themed bracelets to take home in their party bags. The party was a hit and everyone went home smiling.

A busy couple of days of birthday celebrations equalled one very happy little girl this past weekend.  
Happy 5th Birthday Little 1 x