Friday, 30 March 2012

Our garden favourite

Last summer I brought a foam hopscotch set in the Early Learning Centre sale. If you're looking for some outdoor toy ideas I have to say this was such a great buy. 

Squiggle still can't hop (bless) but it hasn't stopped her having fun with it! She was about 1 and a half when we first got the set and she loved running up and down the squares and helping me puzzle the pieces together. I was completely taken aback one day when I realised she had started recognising the numbers. I said aloud that I needed the 8 and she got it for me. It shows you they are learning all the time even when you're not thinking about it, little ones are amazing little sponges! 

Now at 2 and a half we have a new game. We've started hiding the numbers round the garden and she collects them in order. I've also been trying to place the numbers in rhyming scenarios... number 4 on the door, number 8 on the gate (I struggle with 7!) She lives this and is always asking to play it, it's all she wants to do in the garden!

We love it!

Anyone else got any great garden toys they can recommend?
Can anyone think of anything in the garden that rhymes with 7?! xx

Thursday, 29 March 2012

A song for lent

So this lent
I was all bent
on losing weight
oh please, how great.
No biscuits, no choc
resolve tough as a rock.
I've not crumbled – no I'm no flake.
I've just eaten loads and loads and loads of cake.

Roll on the Easter eggs!! ;)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Slipping Standards

So here is my entry for this weeks 'The Gallery' (please don't judge me!)

Ever since reading Tara Cain's theme for this week, extreme close up, I've been looking at the detail in the every day things I normally gloss over. It's amazing how much you don't notice as you go about life.

And, from all that, I chose to photograph this. Well it made me laugh, and those are the best kind of photos!

Don't forget to check out the Sticky Finger's blog in more detail where you will find all the other entries. Emily x

Ten things I tell myself every day

The lovely @farfromhomemama who blogs over at 'Three years, one stone then home' has tagged me in a fab meme! It was started by 'Mum of Three Boys'. You need to go and check out both of their posts, they are very funny!

Hope you enjoy mine...

1. If I walk up the escalators on the tube it is roughly equivalent to a 30 minute work out at the gym.

2. I may be 3 dress sizes bigger than when I was 17 but I look better 'in my skin' now.

3. Home made cake has a lot fewer calories than brought cake.

4. I'm probably going to win a shopping spree today so it is worth all that time I spend looking at fashion pages on the internet.

5. If I had a proper food mixer my cakes would absolutely be giving Delia's a run for their money.

6. Talking to yourself is the first sign of creativity.

7. I'm pretty sure the cinema's closed down now anyway.

8. Having twitter open on my desktop actually makes me more productive.

9. I don't need to watch the news, pingu is actually very informative.

10. Tea is hydrating. 

Fancy a go? I tag...

Monday, 26 March 2012

A 2 year old's logic

I dare anybody to argue with a two year old. Here are some examples 
of our recent little gems of perfect toddler sense...

No mummy I can't start having my bedtime milk in a beaker because...
"milk is white and cups are cold"

No you can't have another biscuit...
"yes because I haven't had four yet"
when did anyone say you could have four?

Me: Weatabix time.
"Weatabix is yucky"
Me: Would you like some weatabix?
"Yes please mummy"

"Giraffes like trees because they are only friendly."

Please don't break mummy's towel basket.
"But it's my house too."

Don't forget to water that flower...
"no, because it's already grown"

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Gorgeous Spring / Summer dresses from Next

I'm in love with the new dresses from Next. Watching their new video showcasing them, combined with the sun gleaming through my window, is really getting me in the mood for summer! What do you think?

My favourite is the Tropical Print Shift Dress, a bargain at only £35 and so versatile.

I also think the Sequin shift dress is beautiful, the mint colour is just gorgeous... I'm just not sure I've got the occasion for that one or more importantly the legs to pull it off?!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Me vs. Cake Pops

A domestic disaster
This Mother's Day I wondered how could I really surprise my wonderful mum?... Why with stunning, home-baked, home-decorated cake pops of course! I was pretty sure she wouldn't have seen cake pops before and thought if I decorated them like an alternative bunch of flowers they would really have the wow factor.

In my head sometimes I am some kind of domestic goddess but sadly the reality can be quite different. It was kind of like the time I decided I could make my own icing flowers for my wedding cake... it was harder than it looked!

But for the brave among you here's what I did:

First I made a simple lemon sponge cake by mixing eggs, self raising flour, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, cream cheese and baking powder together. My little one helped with this bit and we had fun pouring and stirring.

With high hopes into the oven we go!

My cake came out looking not too shabby, it hadn't risen as much as I'd hoped (we'll blame that on the hand mixing), but I thought that shouldn't be a problem for turning into pops. I cut the crispy edges off and Squiggle and I enjoyed them with a cup of tea and I have to say the taste was great. It was a perfectly respectable cake to give to a mummy.

Next I made some butter icing, mixing margarine, icing sugar, cream cheese and a splash of lemon. Also pretty tasty!

Then I started on the downhill cake pop slope (I think I may be a cake traditionalist at heart). Once the cake was nicely cooled and done nothing to deserve it's fate, I blended it into oblivion. I was so sad to watch my cake go after all our hard work making it! I have a hand blender which was perhaps not the best tool for this job as it compacted the mixture together. I then mixed in some of the butter cream icing to form a dough like texture which I then used to roll the ball shapes. I found the taste of the cake and the butter cream combined quite sweet but the oddest thing was the texture. What was not so long ago a delicious cake, now looked like it have never been cooked in the first place. 

And that's kind of what it tasted like too.

Please come out tasting better...

The cakes and I both needed to cool off so I popped  them into the fridge for a couple of hours. We went to the woods for some outdoor type fun!

I think she's drawing a cake pop...

Once we were home again it was time to decorate! First up I melted some Silver Spoon 'Cakecraft Orange Chocolate Flavoured Buttons' over some warm water. Then I took one of my pop sticks (I had a couple of options to try – lollipop sticks and coloured straws) and I dipped the end of it in some of the left over butter icing. This then went into one of the cake balls which was straight out of the fridge so it was nice and cool. 

Next I dipped the cake in the melted chocolate orange mixture and rotated the pop over the bowl so it wouldn't drip whilst it set. This went well and I figured even if I told my mum not too eat them they would still look good! Then, as had been suggested to me I stood the cake pop upright in a polystyrene block which I had found in some old packaging.

This is where I discovered you can't really stick sticks through polystyrene that easily and I needed to pre make the holes whilst trying not to spoil the cake pop I had just lovingly iced. It this quite fiddly but I got a few done. While they were still a little sticky I sprinkled them with some Dr Oetker 'Citrus Flavoured Strands' and then placed a very pretty Dr Oetker 'Wafer Daisy' on each. 

Then, disaster! Whilst happily trying to ice my next batch the finished cake pops started falling over and sliding down their sticks. No matter what I tried they kept falling apart, I had lost my patience with cake pops by this point.

Quick, take the photo before they go again!

The sticks went in the bin and I placed the iced ones on a tray to cool in the fridge instead. 

So now they were not cake pops, they were cake balls and cake balls are not an acceptable Mother's Day gift are they?
It was so disappointing as it had taken a fair amount of time but I did show them to mum in the end and she even politely tried one. I love you mum!

The verdicts!
Me: I just don't think I get cake pops.
Husband: I tried half of one of your cake pops. The clue is in the fact I tried half.
Toddler: Mmmm mmmm mmmm. (She'll eat anything).
Grandad: They are actually quite nice! (He'll eat anything).
Mum: Well they're very lemony. (Diplomatic).

What I've learnt about cake pops and myself
1. I would start by baking cupcakes as your base I think they might be lest moist for making cake crumbs.
2. Use a proper food processor to make the cake crumbs.
3. Make holes in your polystyrene block before you start.

4. I shouldn't bite of more than I can chew.

5. Next time I'm making cupcakes.

I'm entering this post for the chance to become an Innovator for Morphy Richards under the 'domestic disasters' category. Wish me luck, it would be such a fantastic opportunity!

I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had a go at making cake pops. Did I do it all wrong? Does anyone else out there actually like them other than my Dad?