Monday 30 April 2012

The Written word

Sorry Note from a child

I  found this in my pocket the other day from a child long left . I do believe that notes and letter and diaries 
etc are timeless.  So if you have done someone a social injustice in some way why not send them an email . ok so an email is quicker. , But why not reinforce it with a nice hand written note believe me it reinforces forgiveness in so many ways.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Silent Sunday #SilentSunday 29/4/2012

Saturday 28 April 2012

Caption Saturday #satcap 28/4/2012

One of those useless items you pick up from your holidays, this was picked up in Dubai you do these things to keep your children quiet... What crap lovely items have you got that your children have made you buy ?

Thursday 26 April 2012

The growing pains of a parent helped by Adrian Mole

My son is 13 and 3/4 just the same age as Adrian Mole in the book that was monumental in my childhood. Reading books are a right of passage , it is a skill that is passed on when your parents read to you . Whilst reading with your parents brings you together reading on your own brings the world to you and opens your eyes and senses.

My son was worried that he really wasn't getting that far in his English, he is however top stream and really has nothing to fret apart. But as he goes to one of these new fangled Academies the pressure is on whether it is fair is another debate and another length blog post. It is hard to believe that this great book is indeed thirty years old.  The book when it came out coincided with the Falklands War  of 1982 at which time I was 10 years old and at such an age I wasn't reading the book.

Sue Townsend
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

I came to read this book in 1986   whilst my friends were living it up wearing ra -ra skirts and ba boopers and dancing to the the likes of Duran Duran , A-Ha etc were a phenomenon  this book was too! And it was one that spread all over the country. I had my nose in a book, I always had a nose in a book.The book gripped me as it was in an easy style to read as in it in  diary form. So it is perfect for a boy to read some parents might um and err about handing t such a book over to their child at this age. Though believe me your child knows more then you think, 13 (teenage) is the age where they snigger at set phrases.

Of course like Adrian Mole my son has pretentions to being intellectual by the other books he reads ( some of which I read as a child and I have encouraged him  to read ) The book is a parenting manual in effect ! Although I don't think my son is love struck ,  angst sometimes yes.

Tennager angst here read Adrian Mole then....

So whilst times have obviously moved on this book will no doubt tickle him in some sort of fashion. He is going on rugby tour soon I am sure that there will be worse going off on that than there is in this book!

A diary is a tangible commodity which you can sense and feel as you are reading it. I wonder if Adrian Mole was to do a diary now would it have the same effects in the realms of social media? Do you keep a handwritten diary  and of so would you donate it to the British Museum for its future posterity ?

Monday 23 April 2012

Leek and Bacon flan

This recipe is from the lovely  janesgrapevine who is a wondrous cook and crafter do , I don't think there is anything she can't do !

Leek and Bacon flan

1 shortcrust pastry flan case, baked blind
2 large leeks, shredded, washed and allowed to dry
4 rashers back bacon
2 eggs
200 ml milk (or a mixture of cream and milk)
100g strong Cheddar cheese, finely grated
25g butter

Pre heat oven to 170C, gas 3
Cut the bacon into narrow strips and dry-fry slowly in a non-stick pan until crispy. Set aside on kitchen paper to drain. Add the butter to the pan and as it melts scrape up any  bacon residue that has stuck to the pan. Now add the leeks and cook slowly until very soft, then allow to cool a little.

Scatter the bacon over the base of the flan tin and then spread the cooked leeks over the top. Beat together the eggs and milk and season with plenty pepper (the cheese and bacon will provide enough salt) and pour over the leeks. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes  until set and browned.

Best served warm rather than piping hot.

Leek and Bacon flan
Leek and bacon flan.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Toys Naturally Giveaway

I am having a lot of giveaways on my blog at the moment as part of my blogs birthday  so here's another one.  I recently won a product off another blog which came from Toys Naturally   which I gave to one of my pregnant colleagues at work. Everything is delivered quick . They hold stock of everything and use first class mail so typically it’s 1-3 days (max) Also all recyclable and biodegradable packaging. From winning the toy to informing them off my address I received the package in record time/ My work colleague as absolutely delighted with the item.

They package everything with gift grade tissue and Toys Naturally seals, They  use only card and paper packaging and tape and biodegradable document wallets, so it can all go straight into the recycling. They want to do their  bit to preserve the planet for our children!  They have  have tried, wherever possible to select toys with an environmentally aware ethos, or ones that are at least manufactured in Europe so have significantly reduced air miles/carbon footprints.  They  have also checked that all manufacturers use FSC wood in the manufacture of the toys and of course that all fall in line with the European CE safety code requirements.
If you haven’t heard about Automoblox here is a you tube video which may help explain their brilliance.

So  I am giving away one of their products which will be very kindy sent by Toys Naturally. To win this fabulous prize, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. The last date for entries is 24 th May Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Silent Sunday #SilentSunday 22/04/2012

British Museum

Saturday 21 April 2012

A Parents stress

 Though everything is alright now back when J was a toddler it wasn't it was pure hell.  It went beyond the normal toddler tantrums because of his glue ears , he also had other issues to deal with as well . We never had him assessed for autism despite exhibiting some signs of it. I suppose we had so much to deal with at the time we just didn't think of it. I would regularly have to call my husband to come and back us up when J was having a melt down. And these melt down often happened as you've guessed it when I was out shopping with him. This also happened at Nursery when he  frequently refused to come in inside.
I used to have to put a harness on him and then attach that t the D rings on the push chair just to keep him from running off.

This recent episodes were a toll on my mental well being and it was very stressful at the time, also when J was a baby my husband spent many weeks either in hospital on at home due to a back injury and I couldn't get any help from any one. To make matters worse when the toddler trouble was kicking off my husband again was ill with E-coli in hospital and nearly died. So J 's early years were very fraught and I wonder did I do my best and could I have done more  ?

Friday 20 April 2012

Caption Saturday #satcap

Teenagers and mobile phones
Teenagers and mobiles.

Here We are in London Convent garden having tea and muffins. Notice sons expression , oddly the girl behind seems to be on the phone as well. Sign of the times with the younger generation! 

Thursday 19 April 2012

Love is a Joseph Joseph Potato Smasher

Designed to speed up the mashing process, the Smasher™ cups and traps potato firmly in place whilst its unique pump-action makes short work of the mashing.

Also perfect for puréeing other kinds of cooked vegetables and soft fruits.

Dishwasher safe.

And I love it if there was a Desert island Kitchen gadget show I would be taking this on the Desert Island with me. 

Joseph Joesph
Potatoes ready for mashing or smashing !

Joseph Joseph Smasher in action
the Smasher™ cups and traps potato firmly in place whilst its unique pump-action makes short work of the mashing.

Joseph Joseph Smasher
A smashing good time was had by all!

perfect mashed potato
Here it is perfectly smooth mash potato

The Potato smasher is my own  which I bought.. I just love Joseph Joseph . It makes me want to cook.. next mission fairy cakes and I will have to use my Joseph Joseph bowls.

Abigail Story Buddy Giveaway


Meet Abigail, the chatty acrobatic bunny who just can't wait to grow up. Kids will love watching her come to life as you read key words aloud from her books: Her newest book,Abigail and the Fashion Show, comes with an Abigail-sized purse for her to carry. Additional books include Abigail and the Balance Beam (book included), Abigail and the Tea Party and Abigail and the Lost Purse.

A charming book which will delight any little girl or boy. I gave my niece the Jingle the Huskey at Christmas and she thoroughly enjoyed it , she is an advanced reader  and she just loved this. Even if you are not an advanced reader then is nothing better that snuggling up with a your child while you read it to them

An interactive reading book
Interactive Abigail Story Buddy Rabbit from Hallmark

Each Interactive Story Buddy plush character has a free coordinating app for iPhone and/or iPad that can be downloaded from Apple's App Store. Each app includes games, animation that brings the storybook pictures to life, and the option of recording your own voice or playing a pre-recorded narration:
  • Download Bigsby’s Best Friend iPad app
  • Download Abigail and the Balance Beam iPhone/iPad app
  • Download Cooper's Big Bear Hug iPhone/iPad app
  • Download Watson and the Case of the Sneaky Stealer iPhone/iPad app
  • The Jingle All the Way app has generated more than 200,000 free downloads so far. Apps tracker regularly ranks the Hallmark Story Buddy™ apps among the top 10 downloads across the industry. 

Hallmark have very kindly given me one of these to review  to give away to you.

There are two simple steps

1. Comment on your favourite animal

2. Press press the Goggle + button at the top of my blog and comment that you have done so 

Winner will be chosen by Random org on the 18th May.

Diamond Jubilee card

I have created yet another Jubilee card, I must admit I haven yet to do a stepper card without it going wrong but surely learning a new skill is about it going wrong sometimes. I am not one of those people where such things come to me naturally. For instance I lasted knitted a scarf for my teddy bear 33 years ago and have NEVER knitted since,  should I take up knitting again is there any easy way to learn ? any way here is my latest Jubilee inspired card.

A Diamond Jubilee hand crafted card
A Diamond Jubilee card

A hand crafted Diamond Jubilee card
A Union Jack inspired  Dimaond Jubilee card

A hand crafted Diamond Jubilee card

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Saucy Sausage Pasta

Saucy Sausage pasta for 4 people .  This is a frugal recipe as you no doubt with probably already have these items in stock.


1 chopped medium onion
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tap chilli powder
400g chopped tomatoes
300g short pasta ( such as fusilli)


Put a large pan of water on to boil. heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the sausage  on a fairly high heat until they are brown all over then chop them into chunks. Now turn the heat down and add the onion and garlic, cooking them until they have softened.
Stir in the chilli powder and tomatoes with the sausages, bring the sauce to the boil then turn the heat down and let it bubble for about 10 minutes while you cook the pasta.

Drop the pasta into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the pack instructions. Drain the pasta, then tip it into the frying pan with the sausage sauce, mixing well to coat. Dish up immediately with crusty bread.

A frugal recipe for cooking when on a budget
Frugal Saucy Sausage Pasta

I didn't cut the sausage up in chunks for my son kids aren't  fickle are they ?!

And I forgot the rustic looking French bread !

Tuesday 17 April 2012

"Bloody Squirrels"

"Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man,"  is  meant to a Jesuit saying and it's one I remember from My History A level when I was knee deep in seventeenth history  getting to grips  with the likes of Richelieu. But like most quotes , it is often misquoted and the real words and meaning lost in time.

But this does have a true sentiment at its  heart you are actually guiding your child from the day they are born. Not sure if we would call it moulding as you have to allow free choice as they grow up. The choices and actions you make as parents etc go a long way to shaping the character of your child.

So for example don't get wound up if you have a cross word with your child just sit down and talk about it , when you've all calmed down. They will come to know that situations can be resolved by talking.

So its this week I celebrate  my blog anniversary and my son talking.. puzzled aren't you? Well its one year since I started my blog and ten years since my son started talking. Why is that monumental ? You see my son is thirteen now and didn't start talking till he was three and a half. And his first words were "Bloody Squirrel" So if you would like to see the story behind it you can click here. And you will see whilst that event shaped my son into the happy go lucky albeit still shy teenager today. yes we still have the problems that teenagers bring knuckle dragging, untidy room fridge raiding.

So I shall pat myself on the back to the fact I have done a good job with my child . I must go as I have to wash to football kit, rugby kit, cricket clothes.. you get the picture don't you?

Washing rugby kit
Washing rugby kit.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Children are so literal...

As I work in a school children are always falling over scrapping their knees etc. its usually a quick sniffle and they happily skip to first aid but occasionally  so very occasionally you have a serial offender who thinks their world is going to end. And who can blame then the other day I stubbed my toe , I had to eat three biscuits have a cup of tea and watch mind sapping  day time television just to recover .

I usually joke with the children if they have hurt themselves ( obviously if its really serious I don't) as it diffuses the situation.

This is how the conservation when..

Child crying "I have hut my leg..." (It wasn't that bad )

Me attempting to diffuse situation " Shall I chop it off then..."

Child wailing a lot louder "No that will hurt EVEN more "

Me.."It's a joke.."

So I gave up and just sent them to First aid where they probably had the same conversation all over again with another teaching assistant.
Crying toddler

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

I've linked this up to Thinly Spread 's The Funny Things Children Say and Do.. you should too !

Easy Cupcakes

I set  Alison a challenge to try and help me to cook so I shall be having a go at this on monday so over to Alison 

" If you have read my blog Dragons and Fairy Dust  you know that I love baking and will share recipes on a regular basis. Being a regular read of Claire's blog I know that she has had a few cupcake disasters so I thought I would try and share a very easy cupcake recipe with her and give her the challenge to make them herself! I am going to try and make the steps really easy to follow and hopefully nothing will go wrong.

I had a fruit bowl full of bananas which were not being eaten so I decided to try banana cupcakes. These are a first for me as well but I was pleased with the way they turned out in the end. So here is the recipe.

  • 3½ oz (100g) butter
  • 3½ oz (100g) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz (125 g) self raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed up - if they are small use two
  • 3 oz (75g) sultanas
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4 and set the cupcake cases out on a baking tray.
  2. Make sure the butter is soft before you start. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix together until it looks fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix them in.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add into the cupcake cases, they should be about half full as shown in the picture. The recipe is meant to make twelve but I got a couple more.
    Easy cupcake recipe ready to go in the oven

6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until just risen and form to the touch.

7. Leave to cool.

    This is what they looked like when finished:

easy cupcakes easy to cook!
yummy cup cakes.

I then decided to ice them with a simple buttercream icing but to give it a little twist I added a banana. This is how you make the icing.

  • 5 oz (150 g) butter
  • 8 oz (250 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 mashed small banana 
Make sure the butter is soft before you start and gradually add the icing sugar a bit at a time, mixing as you go. Continue until all the icing sugar is mixed in and it looks smooth and creamy. Finally add the banana and the vanilla essence and mix them in. If you add the icing sugar all in one go you are likely to get a huge cloud of it flying out of the bowl and all over the kitchen so it is best to do it slowly. Finally dollop on the cakes and if you have any decorations add them as well. I used chocolate chips to make smiley faces. This is the finished result

Now the challenge is on, can Claire follow the instructions and make lovely cupcakes? I am waiting in suspense to find out."

I hope I can live up to Alison's great looking cakes...!

Saturday Caption #Satcap

Sleeping Tiger on its back

Took this whilst going round London Zoo we all need to relax at some point in our day. Don't you just want to go up and tickle its tummy ?

Friday 13 April 2012

Disability jokes?

Now the other day  My family and myself went to see Shrek, which has to be said was a lot better than I thought it was going to be and was indeed highly entertaining. Such as the film the humour is on two levels one for the children and then of course one for the adults.  Now you know there is going to be certain type of humour.

I am always open minded to anything within the realms of decency.  This had to be said the reference to Bi Polar made be feel  uncomfortable  but that due to the fact that I grew up with a Bi Polar mother and such things open wounds for me to some extent.

So are such jokes acceptable in your opinion ?

Saturday 7 April 2012

Caption Saturday 07/04/2012

lego minifigure gets sucked up by vacuum

Don't you just hate it when you vacuum up your kids Lego and then you have to dive back in and get the little beggars out !

Thursday 5 April 2012

Limited edition Union Jack Bin from @BrabantiaLife blog giveaway!

I have a very exciting giveaway as its my one year blog anniversary. So not only is it the year of the Jubilee and the Olympics its my special year too how wonderful ! So @BrabantiaLife  have been very kind and given me this Limited Edition Union Jack bin  to giveaway to one of you lucky people.

To win this fabulous prize, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. The last date for entries is 11 th May Good luck!

Brabantia is joining in with the nation’s patriotic fever ahead of the 2012 Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by launching a limited edition Union Jack bin.

What better way to mark this momentous year than by owning a piece of limited edition timeless design? The Brabantia Retro Bin ‘Union Jack’ combines top performance with cutting edge functionality. Known in the four corners of the globe, the Union Jack is one of the most powerful national symbols in the world in retail, fashion and iconic design.
The Brabantia Retro Union Jack 30 litre bin features the brand new high-tech MotionControl Whisper lid where the lid opens with just a light pedal tap and closes smooth and silently. When opened by hand the lid stays open, which is particularly handy with larger volumes of waste or when changing the buckets. Covered by a 10 year guarantee. 
Brabantia products are available from leading retailers, including high street department stores, superstores, quality independent housewares and kitchen product specialists. For details, please contact the Brabantia sales department or visit Brabantia’s website
a brabantia bin that is tied in with the theme of the 2012 Olympics

a Brabantia bin that is tied in around the theme of the  2012 Olympics

Wednesday 4 April 2012

KIT HEATH Sterling Silver Regal Heart Bracelet

A sterling silver heart with a traditional Union Jack design in enamel on a navy cord bracelet. Matching accessories available. This comes with our luxurious gift box and bag as standard. CHOKING HAZARD Not suitable for children under 3 years due to small parts.
Jewellery is not a toy. 

This retails at £60

This is beautiful jewellery for special occasions such as wedding or birthdays . The package is exquisite, fresh and funky . I love every little attention to detail the red is very striking indeed!. The spots if the gift sleeve are Spot on! A very apt Cool Britannia gift couples with the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics and any little girl would be ecstatic to own this.

Packaging is spot on !

This is perfect as a gift for a summer wedding or birthday!

Everything about this product oozes quality.

However I have some reservations which are slight, it is centering around the price.  This bracelet is shown on the Kit Heath website as retailing at £60.  
I do worry about the cord of the bracelet and I assume it is very hard wearing but then again your little girl would only be wearing it for special occasions as it certainly isn't a every day item. It is an ideal gorgeous keepsake gift this bracelet would be just perfect  ideal for giving to your bridesmaid you can add to the collection with the matching necklace. 

So all in all a lovely item for your princess and all her royal demands!

Disclosure: Kit Heath sent me this bracelet to review, the views that I’ve expressed here are my own 

Monday 2 April 2012

Gender Justification of toys

You can't help the fact within the toy world there  are what are seen as boys toys and girls toys. It has to be said that as a tom boy it was never really an issue for me . I got tutted at of course I did and that comments made at me like shouldn't I be playing with dolls.

"Well no actually" I loved my toy cars, my swords my cap guns and of course my Lego which is pretty much in its basic state genderless. Remembering a conversation I had  with my cousin over the Christmas holidays he was sad that you could no longer go into a shop and buy say a box of Lego roof tiles or a general mixed box.

I still have my Lego from my child hood yes its the Wild West towns and space centres and fire engines!

And whilst today's society is obviously more awake to commercial brand names ,nowadays much to the delight of the these companies!

 That said there will always be a divide of girls and boys toys that's just life and  without debate the world would be a pretty boring place. From my experience  from being a tom boy I  was tutted at but not to the degree perhaps some boys are if they play with girls toys. I will put my hand up and say

 1. My son played with a tea set that he carried every where.

2. He carried a shopping basket round with him as well.

3. He had tried his hand at ballet.

4. He had a toy vacuum which was in fact a (toy lawn mower) because at the time my husband had a issue about him playing with a toy vacuum but my son treated it as his toy vacuum or as we called it then the ' Whooh  Whooh '

He was and still is a sensitive child  and the below information is from a previous blog post that explains why. Children do what they want for a reason and it should not be stopped unless it is obviously dangerous or their behaviour is cause for concern in some way.

My son playing with his tea set

Well when J was born he  was a normal baby until all the problems started happening, the constant eczema which is inherited. The sudden coughing fits and gastric problems. the fussy eating, the projectile vomiting.

As he grew then there was the sudden tiredness and falling asleep anywhere ( asthma ) the allergy to food colourings. The inability to leave my side, his allergy to cats ( we had to get rid of our cat)s. yes J was one nervous child constant trips to the hospital seeing various medical professionals.

Then more problems came then there was the problem with him being slightly sugar slow and then the bouts of anemia.

Whilst I appreciate these problems aren't as severe as many problems experience with their child of children it is still heartbreaking as well..

Throughout out this I had noticed  that J was not communicating , he had passed his baby hearing test hardly rocket science when he took it.

J was born in September 1998 and looking at an entry from his health book dated June 2000 that he has made little progress with his speech. The silly health visitor said his comprehension appeared good, well it wasn't I assure you. The toing and froing continued with the health visitors still ignoring me. This continued until around October 2001 when J still wasn't really speaking. Eventually after basically a sit in protest at the doctors we got a referral to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Glue ear. He had his operation to have grommets inserted after the usual long weight for an the operation.

Progress was slow but really came into its own on a holiday to Center Parcs in March 2002 when he was three and a half We were on our bikes and J was in a child seat behind me, a squirrel ran in front of me and J said " Bloody Squirrel" and J repeated this all day.

J had been learning sign language at nursery and and a least now there was a focus on his language skills , of course this had now developed. He was a slow learner at Infant School because of his previous problems, nervous and clingy. We had  problems with parties etc he still wouldn't leave my side till he was nearly seven. I just plonked him into beavers one day and ran , same with football cruel but kind and as a result he developed.

So that's why I love arguing with him he has developed into a heartfelt young boy who knows his own mind and is making his own way in the world. He is an academic high flyer play rugby for our County , top sport mans for the school. Plays a musical instrument he is an all rounder. What more could I ask for than an argument about his sock draw...?

So each to their own I was happy for my son to play with girls toys  or those associated with girls it served a purpose and did him no harm. Everyone has a choice in how to raise their child and no one should dictate or judge anyone.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Learning card craft

A birdcage stripes inspired card.
 I am  having a cool and not really sure what techniques are called. I really do love doing things off the cuff. I have no art or craft back ground what so ever. But blogging has bought me a new hobby card making, I hope to get more adventurous as I go on. Here's two I rustled up this morning.

Cool Britannia Jubilee card.

Silent Sunday 01/04/2012