I do like cake, especially chocolate cake, and actually I’m not alone in that. We are a household of chocolate cake fans. In fact, Daddy P and Monkey will eat anything if the world chocolate is mentioned. So I knew the latest release from Parragon Books was going to be a winner. Tempt – the cook book for chocoholics arrived in the post and it was so hard to decide what recipe to bake first.
Whether you are looking for a chocolate biscuit, a roulade, hot chocolate or peppermint creams, with 80 recipes, Tempt is going have something to fit the bill. We all love our cakes so I decided the first recipe I’d try would be the White Chocolate and Blackberry Muffins.
The recipes are all really easy to follow, with clear instructions, including prep time. All include photographs to tempt you even more!
I did find that the recipe made a lot more than 12 muffins but I haven’t had any complaints from my two willing testers. These muffins have gone down rather well and Monkey and Daddy P have already put in their next order – Choc Berry Rockets, although I’m inclined to be tempted by the Plain Chocolate and Amaretto Truffles. Yum!
Tempt is available from Waterstones, WHSmiths and Amazon (I’ve included my affiliate link below for your reference)
disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.
This afternoon we should be having a quick dinner before rushing off to our local leisure centre armed with swimming trunks and a towel. But we’re not. Last week I made a decision, which to be frank, broke my heart a little bit. I called time on swimming lessons for Monkey. Since we returned to the pool after the saga with his perforated ear drum, each lesson has become more stressful, Monkey’s become more upset and more unwilling to join in with the class.
I know it’s not a fear of water or the pool itself. We’ve been to the pool on weekends and he’s happily splashed around, stood right under the play showers and loved every minute. He doesn’t take after me, and I’m glad of that. But the swimming lessons were becoming traumatic and no matter what I’ve tried each week has been more of an issue for him.
I see swimming as a life skill, having not learnt that skill myself until well into my forties, I’m more than keen for Monkey to learn to swim at a young age. I did actually cry as I wrote the email cancelling his lessons. I felt that I’d failed him, but I also realise that pushing him to do something that I want isn’t the answer, it won’t get my son swimming. That want has to come from within him. So this stubborn mother has let it go. For now anyway!
I’ve looked at other pools, and at one to one lessons, which frankly would probably suit Monkey much better, but they cost so much more than the leisure centre. As a SAHM Mum I just can’t stump up the cash. So, yes, I feel that I’ve failed on that score too, it’s the payback for being there to take him and pick him up from school every day, I can’t afford the ‘luxuries’ that working might provide more easily.
So this afternoon we won’t go near a swimming pool, maybe we won’t next week either, but soon I want to get Monkey back in the pool, regularly, just with me, having fun, splashing around. Then maybe, (ok, yes I’m praying silently) he’ll see for himself that learning to swim could bring even more fun. That it could allow him to go on new adventures. I’d love him to be able to swim before our holiday in Portugal next June, to be able to jump in the pool, squealing with glee and soaking his grandparents in the process. But am I just wanting him to experience things I never did, am I trying to live my life through him? I hope I’m wanting him to swim for all the right reasons.
So for now I’m calling time on swimming lessons, I’m truly listening to my son and what he wants. But it doesn’t stop me feeling like I’ve failed him.
Earlier in the year I treated myself to the DSLR Canon EOS 70D and it really is my pride and joy. I still have so much to learn about it and all of its settings and at some point I really want to take a proper course. My camera joins me on most of our adventures and normally ends up in one of my Mia Tui bags. The downside of this is that on more than one occasion my lens cap has fallen off in the bag, not ideal. Is was about time I looked at better protection for my investment photography piece. That’s where the DSLR Canvas Camera Bag from Trendz comes in.
Trendz offer a range of accessories for all your electronic and photographic needs, ranging from phone and laptop cases to various camera cases. The DSLR Canvas Camera Bag is only available in the Khaki, but there are more style options for the compact and bridge cameras.
This bag comes with an adjustable carry strap, two removable padded inserts which help to protect the lens section of the DSLR camera, as well as one zipped and one poppered pocket.
My new camera bag measures 19cm w x 20cm h x 13cm d and is a perfect fit for my Canon EOS 70D with its standard 18-55mm lens.
I’m really pleased with my new camera bag, its well made and is going to protect my prized possession when I’m out and about. The only downside – it’s not waterproof as far as I can tell, so I need the weather to improve! But for £14.99 it will certainly serve it’s purpose.
To see the whole range of items available from Trendz why not pop over to their website.
disclaimer: we were sent the item featured in exchange for an honest review
It’s a saying that most of us heard time and time again. When we wanted that new bike, the latest trainers, or to visit that exciting new theme park, at one some time or another, our younger selves will have been greeted with those dreaded words.
Although, for children, the phrase ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ sounds like another way of their parents saying ‘no, you’re not allowed’, it’s actually really important that you teach your little ones the meaning behind the famous phrase.
Yes, it’s true that money doesn’t grow on trees, but where, in fact, does it come from? How can we save it? And when should we spend it?
Firstly, it is important that your children understand that when you take money out of your bank account, this is actually reducing the amount of money that you own. Explain (in appropriate terms!) the concept of current accounts and savings accounts, and then let them open their own accounts so they can put their newfound knowledge into practice!
Many adults often forget that credit cards aren’t an endless source of money that never has to be paid back. So it’s easy to see how children might become confused when they see those around them flashing the plastic.
As useful as it is, credit can have consequences, so it is important that you properly educate your little ones in the concept of credit. As well as talking them through the processes of borrowing, repaying, and interest, it’s a good idea to show your children a credit report (you can access it free through Experian) and talk them through how making bad credit decisions can affect them in the future.
Hopefully, if you instill positive attitudes from a young age, they’ll be sensible and responsible when they reach the grand old age of 18.
Save, save, save!
It is absolutely never too early to teach your children to save. From the moment they are born, they will almost certainly start receiving small amounts of money from family and friends. So set them up a savings account straight away and, as soon as they are old enough, explain to them how much money they have, where it has come from, and how, by adding to it, they will be able to buy the things they need (or want) in the future.
Spend, spend, spend!
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t allow your little ones to enjoy spending their hard-earned cash. If there’s something they really want, and they can afford it, encourage them to treat themselves every now and again. If they can enjoy the rewards of saving, they are more likely to keep up the good work!
I love photographs, that’s absolutely no secret, but since moving to the digital age I’ve not always been do great at printing my photos out. Even less at actually framing them and hanging them up around the house. But I’m trying to change that. Eventually I want a photo wall going up the wall by our staircase, Daddy P still needs a little convincing on that one though. In the meantime I wanted to have a more current picture of Monkey on display, something for me to look at as I work. With this in mind I shall now be recalling holiday memories with MyPhoto2Canvas as I’ve had a favourite photo from our Cornish holiday printed on canvas.
I decided on this shot, taken on a visit to Looe, I love the joy on Monkey’s face. We’d had a lovely day, finished off by a walk on the beach, collecting shells and rocks!
MyPhoto2Canvas is a family run business and they offer a range of canvas printing services. The website is easy to navigate and you can request a digital proof to check before finalising your order. I opted for a 60×40 with white edging and 32cm depth.
My new canvas arrived promptly and was well packaged. The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped it – it came with mounting already fixed and wall hanging accessories, as well as spacers on the corners.
Now I get to reminisce every time I sit at the laptop – holiday memories with MyPhoto2Canvas of our time in Cornwall.
The canvas is a little darker than the original photo, but I still love it and it was so easy to hang that I’d got it positioned and in place before Daddy P even got home.
This particular canvas cost £45.00 but prices range from £22 for a 30x30cm canvas through to £85 for a 100x130cm sized canvas. For more information about the various options, pop over to the MyPhoto2Canvas website.
disclaimer: we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review
When I was a little girl my Dad had his Hornby train set all laid out in our garage. He could stand in the middle of the layout and run a few different trains at the same time. If my brother and I had been very good we might be allowed to take the controls, for a moment or two. A special treat would be to see one of his locos with ‘steam’, something I remember to this day. My love of the A4 class of steam locos goes back to this point, watching his Hornby Sir Nigel Gresley puffing around our train track. I’ve seen Mallard a couple of times now at the National Railway Museum. But whilst we were staying in York over the bank holiday something really special happened.
Monkey has been obsessed with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway since watching Yorkshire Steam on TV with Daddy P, so I’d already decided that a trip on the railway would be in order during our stay. Imagine my delight when I discovered that we would be meeting Sir Nigel Gresley and seeing the wonderful A4 under steam. I discovered that the train would be running on the NYMR during our stay, before being taken out of service in September, for a couple of years. What timing!
We took Monkey to the National Railway Museum on the day we arrived in York and he was so excited to see Mallard, Mummy, I’ve got him at home (Bigjigs train)! But this excitement was nothing compared to the next morning when we arrived at Pickering station bright and early to meet Sir Nigel Gresley on his first journey of the day.
I’m actually not sure who was more excited if I’m totally honest, this was going to be a childhood dream come true for more than one of us. There is something wonderful about steam trains, reliving a bygone age, that at the time was taken for granted. Seeing this majestic train approaching the platform was really quite something and my photos don’t do it justice at all.
It was time to hop on board, sit back and enjoy the ride. We’d been told that SNG would take us as far as Grosmont and then another loco would pull us into Whitby. I have to say that the NYMR is probably the most picturesque line we’ve even ridden on. It was a great journey.
We said goodbye to SNG at Grosmont and thought that would be our last glance at this wonderful piece of history. The weather was lovely, and it was August Bank Holiday Sunday too! So we’d decided to spend the day in Whitby and catch the last train back to Pickering.
Catching the train back as planned we chatted about the various adventures we’d had along the way. At some point after the Grosmont stop, Monkey was looking out of the window, Mummy I can see Sir Nigel Gresley!
Wonderful, we’d changed engines and were being taken back to Pickering by our dream engine. It really did give us all the perfect end to our day.
Arriving back at Pickering Station we hung back so we could watch Sir Nigel Gresley leave his carriages behind at the end of a busy day.
I never dreamed that I would get to see one of these beautiful A4’s in steam, and it was a wonderful experience. Something that all three of us will remember for a very long time.
Monkey is even more obsessed now, and as soon as we got home, he was straight back to our book about this locomotive class. We explained to him that he’d seen Mallard and SNG, and there were only 2 others running in the UK, one being in Scotland. But it looks like Bittern is somewhere in England Monkey. Where Mummy, where? I found out that Bittern is running on the Watercress Line, a line I know well, from my childhood, and a line we’ve been on before with Monkey. So a bit of investigation and I’ve found out that Bittern will be running over Daddy P’s birthday weekend before being taken out of service for an overhaul. How about that for timing! So yes, you can guess where we will be later this month.
I love making memories with Monkey, and I hope that these are the sort that he may well share with his own children one day.
Have your kids discovered Earth to Luna! on Tiny Pop yet? The series is aimed at children aged 2-6 years of age and shows youngsters just how wonderful science can be.
Earth to Luna! is a great programme that we’ve started watching after school as Monkey’s starting to learn about science at school now. You can find the show on Tiny Pop six times a day during the week (09.30, 09.45, 10.00, 10.15, 15.30, 15.45) and twice daily at the weekend (09.30, 09.45) and we can recommend the 12 minute shows.
I thought it would be great to share a lovely prize with you all today – one lucky reader can win this set of 3 Earth to Luna! toys which aren’t currently available in the UK! Just complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win – good luck!
(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).
Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.
This giveaway is for UK residents only.
Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.
The giveaway will close on 2nd November 2015 at midnight.
The B&W Photography Project Week 65 with PODCast and this week I’m showing you a rather shining example of an American classic car. Strangely not taken at a car shown, but at the Bedfordshire Steam and Country Fair last month.
The car is actually bright red but I love all the chrome work glistening in the September sunshine. I wonder how many hours were taken getting that perfect sheen?
Last Saturday Monkey and I were invited to Lands’s End – no not the well known Cornish landmark (bit far away for a day trip!), but the clothing company, based in Oakham, Leicestershire. When I was checking out the route I released we’d be driving right past Rutland Water and a RSPB Nature Reserve. I wasn’t sure how long we’d be involved with the event, but told Monkey that if we weren’t too late leaving we’d stop off on the way home, especially as the weather forecast was looking great.
Well as luck would have it, the team at Lands’ End had a similar idea, and we were all treated to a boat cruise on Rutland Water aboard the Rutland Belle in the afternoon! We travelled by coach with a group of bloggers and their families to the north shore of Rutland Water and all the while I was explaining to Monkey what we’d be doing. No it’s not a punt, but maybe a bit smaller than a pirate ship. He seemed fine with the idea until we left the coach and walked towards the jetty. Then he decided he hated the idea of going on a boat cruise on Rutland Water, started crying and ran off. Oh joy!
So once I’d caught up with him, and told him that he would be perfectly safe, the boat wouldn’t be trying to break any speed records and that I wouldn’t leave his side, we tried again. I had to carry him, not to be recommended with a bad back, but never mind, and we got on board the boat. He agreed to sit on the benches at the top of the Rutland Belle, and we made ourselves comfortable.
Mummy you have to sit by the edge, and hold my hand. Ok Monkey. The boat slipped away from its mooring and we started our trip, and as we edged through the waters Monkey began to relax and to take in the scenery around us.
We chatted about other people having fun on the water and the different sports.
The sun shone down on a lovely late September afternoon and we just enjoyed watching the world go round.
The smile was back and Monkey was enjoying himself. We even got to see a rather splendid aircraft flying overhead, sadly my camera lens doesn’t do it justice.
Before long Monkey wanted to go downstairs and stand at the front of the boat, he even let go of my hand.
Our boat cruise on Rutland Water lasted for just under an hour and gave us a really good view of the area. We’ll certainly be back to explore further with Daddy P in the future. It did make me chuckle when Monkey turned round to me as he left the boat, Mummy, that was great, can we go on it again? Got to love that boy.
Back at the start of the summer holidays I was invited to the UK launch of the EasiYo Yogurt Maker. Sadly I couldn’t make the event, but I was very intrigued, having two yogurt fans in the house, the idea of making my own supplies was rather appealing.
I’m going to be working with EasiYo over the coming months to share this range with you, and the best way to start, was to try out the EasiYo Yogurt Maker for ourselves. I received a 1kg EasiYo Yogurt Maker kit, which comes with a jar and a couple of yogurt mixes (the mixes we’ve received are a natural yogurt with coconut and a cherry yogurt).
As none of us are particular fans of coconut I decided to start by making the Cherry yogurt. The instructions looked easy, fill the outer case with an amount of boiling water, fill the jar halfway with water at room temperature, add the yogurt mix, secure lid, shake, add more water, secure lid, place inside outer case, secure outer lid and leave for 8-12 hours.
After 8-12 hours we should have had lovely cherry flavoured yogurt. My two able assistants were chomping at the bit.
Well of course, if I can find a difficult way of doing something I will! But this is all good, and saves you from my making the same school girl errors. Firstly, I didn’t realise the red spacer inside could be removed. I had tried to take it out but was worried about breaking it. If I had removed it before first making my yogurt, all would have been clear! There are two marker lines on this spacer – one for 500g water level and one for 1kg water level. As I couldn’t see these, I hadn’t put enough boiling water into the maker. The result? After 8 hours I didn’t have lovely thick yogurt, it was still runny. Uuum. Never fear, it was not the end of the world. I consulted a blogging friend I knew had recently made up her first batch of yogurt. What have I done wrong? It soon became clear that I’d messed up my water levels. The good news, my error could be rectified. I simply increased the boiling water to the correct level and left the yogurt for a few more hours. It’s really important to get the levels right as you need the correct amount of water to activate the lactic cultures inside the yogurt mix.
By this time my assistants had got their spoons out, would they enjoy the results of my limited labours? The EasiYo Yogurt Maker makes a thick yogurt and the bowls were soon empty.
Both Monkey and Daddy P loved their first taste of EasiYo, and I was really rather impressed too. They do eat a lot more yogurt than I do, but I liked being able to sample a small bowl with some fresh fruit added. The yogurt tasted full of flavour and for Daddy P to be impressed, it must be good.
The yogurt stays fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks, which makes it absolutely ideal for our family. It’s worth noting that the EasiYo mixes contain no artificial ingredients, are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians too. There are a whole host of flavour mixes available as well as smaller storage jars. This set retails for around £18.00 and more information can be found on the website.
The maker itself stands at approx 28cms tall, by 16cms diameter, it fits perfectly in one of my kitchen cupboards, but it’s worth being aware of the size.
We’re looking forward to sharing new from the EasiYo Yogurt Maker range with you over the coming months and to trying out some different flavours.
disclaimer: we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review.