Sunday 31 March 2013

Sunday 31/3/2013

Saturday 30 March 2013

Round and Round the Garden

Today we thought we would all blow the cobwebs out of heads and hearts, a fraught week in the sense it's end of term and nerves are getting frayed.we decided to go to Calke Abbey and amble round the garden, it's the house and garden where time stood still as if the Head Gardener has just popped out for a crafty homemade cider and will be back any minute. Also I am reminded of that beloved children's classic by Frances Hodgeson Burnett "Secret Garden".

I always go to National  Trust properties with the thought its only me going there it my secret world , this of course is not true but it's what I imagine. My son is getting taller now though he's growing up and the baby years are behind us and he's childhood is hurtling along at an alarming rate he will forever and always be my son.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Easter Bunny Baskets of Treats recipe

Easter has crept up on us again ! Everyone loves a sweet treat and at Easter but sometimes we don't want to much of a sweet treat, we want something that gives us the illusion of of receiving a great deal with in reality it is not. With this Easter treat that I am going to show you it is not the case ! it is very adaptable.

Cookie Dough

  • 250g butter

  • 140g caster sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g Coco powder

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 85g chocolate chips/chunks

  • 2tsp vanilla extract

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 190ÂșC (gas mark 5) 2. Sift together plain flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. 3. Mix in butter and blend until mixture is crumbly. Stir in egg yolk and vanilla essence. Add the chocolate chips. Blend well. Chill dough for one hour for better cookies.

 4. Regularly sprinkle work surface and stamp with flour. 5. Separate dough into golf ball sized chunks. Slightly flatten the balls and use Easter themed cutters to cut out various shapes. 6. Place on a greased baking sheet.

 Bake for 6 - 8 minutes, or until lightly brown. 7. Remove from oven and leave for a couple of minutes to harden, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. 8. Decorate as desired then Enjoy your ‘Easter’ cookies.

Easter Bunny Baskets

Your will need these items:

  •  Ice Cream Cornet cups.
  •  Biscuits that have a jam centre.
  • Some icing made up to a fairly stiff constancy.
  • Strawberry Pencil sweets.

1. Then apply some icing to the biscuits and put the Ice Cream Cornet cup on top and leave to set.

2. Fill with small chocolate treats and use Strawberry Pencil as the handle just bending them over to create a handle ( But don't pick them up by the handle as its not fixed )

Fill with small chocolate treats.

3. Put in one of your special Easter cookies. 

Easter cookie recipe
Add the Easter cookies to your baskets.

Cookies turned into bunnies with cornet buckets and strawberry lace handles .

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Pipette craft with kids : Easy Craft Ideas

Easter is nearly upon us and Easter Bunny will be merrily hopping around, so if the snow is still with us or you are at a loss what to do with the children. Here is a easy craft idea to do with the children , slightly messy if its not messy it's not as much fun to children right ? You will require these items :

1. Kitchen roll.

2. Scissors .

3. 4 pipettes.

4. Several yoghurt pots or empty containers.

5. Poster paint slightly watered down in a variety of colours.

Always make sure you supervise children when they are using scissors.

Cut the kitchen roll into a variety of flower shapes , allow the children to do this if they are capable.

Make sure they you do this activity on a plastic tray etc.

Take one of the pipettes and gently fill it up with the desired colour.

Gently let the child squeeze the pipette onto the flower shape creating a pretty pattern use a variety if colours to make it like a rainbow.

Getting The Needle

Getting the Needle...

I have a tattoo on my lower back which is my only one. I was desperate to get a tattoo from my early teens but luckily I was persuaded  *read 'forced'* by my sensible parents to wait until adulthood before finally getting inked. Otherwise I suspect I'd now be saving up for removal of a yin-yang symbol and an acid house smiley! None of my family members have tattoos and my parents were always adamant I couldn't do this "whilst you're living under my [their] roof" until I was at least 18 and made it known they wouldn't be thrilled after this point either.

At the reasonably sensible age of 22 (hmmm) I took a design I'd liked for a long time into the tattoo parlour in Soho and after badgering them with health & safety questions about autoclaves and so on, I was tattooed by a lovely lady with amazing flower vines covering both her legs. During my twenties I loved my tattoo and relished any opportunity to display it. It was even worth the embarrassment of purchasing Preparation H** from my sexy local pharmacist for its aftercare, whilst loudly proclaiming "it's for my new tattoo". I didn't anticipate buying that again but alas, along came children (but that's another post altogether).

Rapidly approaching the slightly more mature age of 32, it's not that I don't like it anymore and I haven't considered getting it removed, it's just that I don't have the figure I once did (Ladies & Gents roll up, roll up for THE understatement of the year) and consequently no longer wear long slung jeans and waist-revealing/backless tops so it spends all year under layer upon layer of baggy clothing. To be honest I forget it's there, except when I accidentally catch sight of it in the mirror. I just wonder whether if given the option to have it magically disappear with no painful laser treatment and no expense whether I'd say "Yes" and I suspect I probably would. I guess those seriously dedicated to their body art have words for people like me who have had a single tattoo in the name of fashion, answers on a postcard please...

I have to confess when I was deciding on its placement I was, what tattoo enthusiasts would probably call, a coward. As I deliberately chose a place on my body where it could easily been concealed when it suited me. This was primarily due to the fact that I worked in Financial Markets where I felt judgements would be instantly made. I know that nobody wants to be branded (pardon the pun) according to the ink in their skin but people regularly use looks (including clothing, hair, make up, etc.) as instant cues to form first impressions, regardless of whether or not you think this is how it should work. 

Despite the fact tattoos are relatively mainstream nowadays, I believe some prejudice around "the tattooed" still exists and unless you REALLY don't give two hoots what others think, then I imagine you may agree with my "can I cover it up?' logic. I'm aware of the argument that people who would judge you on first impressions wouldn't be worth knowing anyway and I agree, to a point, but there are lots of times in my life when I only had a single chance to create a professional initial impression and this was important to me. Many people claim that the tattooed don't judge the non-tattooed for their abstinence so why is it ok in reverse? I'm not advocating that it is ok, I'm simply saying that whether we like it or not people make snap judgements every day based on appearances of others and having a tattoo assists people in pigeonholing you.

I have also contemplated whether becoming a parent and setting myself up for having to answer my children's, perfectly reasonable, questions about what I have on my back, what it's made from, etc. has altered my opinion. Again, I think I would say that it had. I feel slightly embarrassed at the prospect of having to answer such questions and explain my choices when deep down I know that I would try to dissuade my own children from having tattoos in their teens/early twenties in case it was a passing phase they later regretted. I don't think you can ever be 100% certain a tattoo wont fall out of your favour. There's a family story about an uncle twice removed (or similarly close relation!) who was married to Betty but had a large tattoo on his chest proclaiming his love for "Elizabeth". Betty then had to rest her head on Elizabeth every night for their entire married life! I have also encountered people (sly code for ex-boyfriend at Uni) who had brands tattooed on their person that have since gone into liquidation. 

So I'm interested to know what your stance is on tattoos, either for yourself or your children when they're older? With a fifth of all Brits now sporting some ink, do you think the trend is likely to continue into the next generation or has it become so popular as to render it uncool? I have to confess I now know more people with tattoos than without them.  

**Preparation H is hemorrhoid cream **

Guest post from

Sunday 24 March 2013

Legacy of life what's yours ? (Letter to sixteen year old self)

Life's too short to moan isn't it?

Blink and you will miss the wonderful world that is around your life is for living after all its not a rehearsal and your life is like the London 2012 is a legacy for all. So it might be raining , the bankers have all our money you've burnt your toast again. So stop feeling like the superb film that is 'Wonderful life ' and how the world would cope without you are just get on with living!.

Like the Olympians that have thrilled us with their humbling humanity who just get on with their lives.

You might not be everyone cup of tea so what  if you could go back in time what would you write to your sixteen year old self . What would be your legacy of life?

Well this is my sons letter to his sixteen year old self . You know the drill the sort of letter you would write to your sixteen year old self. He is only thirteen and his letter is very in depth and very humbling. Its something that we as adults could learn from. To often we are cliched about teenager, how they are too angst and likening them to Kevin and Perry. And when we try to talk to them a tumbled weed bounces through the room.

Its frightening to see my son feels at times how I felt at his age and still feel at times. So its time to give him a positive legacy for the challenges of life that he will face. All he needs to know is that he will not be alone when he does so.

So I from now on put my confident boots on and leave my "worry boots" behind.

Friday 22 March 2013

Spring is a little confused

The weather , that great British topic theres's not a day when we don't talk about the weather in some form or other! This time last year it was baking hot and the BBQ adverts on television were more tangible! But now as I watch the same BBQ advert and then turn to my window , I find I am faced with a blanket of snow.

I do love snow but when it's meant to snow...

In Winter snow is somewhat mystical at Christmas .

Snow in March is completely bonkers.

Taken with my husbands Nikon Ds3100 with a 50 -200mm lens.
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Bouldering Into a Natural Childhood.

We have always gone out of our way as parents to provide J with different adventures we have been to some far flung places but you can still have adventures at home and it doesn't have to cost you any money. ( most of the time)

And how would have thought in the middle of the urban jungle that is New York would you have thought you could have gone bouldering.

The National Trust has a list of things to do before you are 11 3/4

1. Climb a tree

2. Roll down a really big hill

3. Camp out in the wild

4. Build a den 

5. Skim a stone

6. Run around in the rain

7. Fly a kite

8. Catch a fish with a net

9. Eat an apple straight from a tree

10. Play conkers

11. Throw some snow 

12. Hunt for treasure on the beach

13. Make a mud pie

14. Dam a stream

15. Go sledging

16. Bury someone in the sand

17. Set up a snail race

18. Balance on a fallen tree

19. Swing on a rope swing

20. Make a mud slide

21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild

22. Take a look inside a tree

23. Visit an island

24. Feel like you're flying in the wind

25. Make a grass trumpet

26. Hunt for fossils and bones

27. Watch the sun wake up

28. Climb a huge hill

29. Get behind a waterfall

30. Feed a bird from your hand

31. Hunt for bugs

32. Find some frogspawn

33. Catch a butterfly in a net

34. Track wild animals

35. Discover what's in a pond

36. Call an owl

37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

38. Bring up a butterfly

39. Catch a crab

40. Go on a nature walk at night

41. Plant it, grow it, eat it

42. Go wild swimming

43. Go rafting

44. Light a fire without matches

45. Find your way with a map and compass

46. Try bouldering

47. Cook on a campfire

48. Try abseiling

49. Find a geocache

50. Canoe down a river 

Wednesday 20 March 2013

The simplest of things ...

Quite simply coming out of school one day I reflected what a super day I had, had .

When one of the children turned to me and said " Are your mummy and daddy picking you up "

Awwh , just awwh

I love the thinking of children and how considerate they can be ...

Any troubles in my head just simply floated away ....

Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Role of The Parent during child-initiated activity

Sometimes children play for plays sake for fun , to let off steam , to establish social contact etc but there should be another element to play and that should be a focus on learning - introducing new words and new ideas, thinking out loud, modelling more complex ways of speaking, posing new problems, encouraging negotiation of conflict , explaining, or demonstrating approaches.

  • Offer assistance and support to your child as needed this helps children to be successful in follow through their ideas, including talking about or suggesting strategies, and practical support such as holding an object in place as your child works on it.

  • Try and ensure that the learning environment offers a range of stimulating open-ended materials, outdoors and indoors, which children can use in their own way to meet their own purposes.

  • Make sure where possible your child has substantial time to develop their activities.

  • Encourage your child to use the language of learning as they make their plans and carry out and review their activities, talking about things such as 'I remembered, I tried, we found out, we know, I can, we thought, we solved the problem'

  • Adopt a problem-solving approach to resolving conflicts or behavioural issues, helping children to be aware of 'others' points or view and thinking together to agree on a solution.

  • Observe your childs' activities carefully, trying to discover what the child is thinking and learning and the goals of the play. So you can accurately support and extend your childs learning focus either at the time, or later by changes to the environment or in planned activities.

Remember not be over rigid with this at the end of the day your childs play should be fun.

Monday 18 March 2013

Dear Heart

Dear Heart I was beginning to think my writing was getting a little irksome and it wasn't relating to who I am , I am no journalist and yes my grammar  grammar goes awry sometimes. The temptation to quote Yoda is quite, quite overwhelming "No ! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try" And yet I reminded to blog as you feel , except not to blog when angry. So perhaps I am trying too much , who knows we are all jostling for position in life.

But I do shoot straight from the hip that is just me , empowerment is key in this life and self promotion but not to the degree it starts to taint you. So I think stamping my feet in  a more positive matter is the ticket. Situations can make or break us but it is how you really deal with them that shows us the calibre of person we are.

I am reminded of when I was in hospital having J about to take him home after a quite traumatic pregnancy and the doctor came to give J the once over check.

"He's not got the crease in his hand he may have Downs Syndrome " said the junior doctor.

I was dumb struck it wouldn't have matter to me if he had downs syndrome he was still loved. But the feeling at the moment in time of complete helplessness was to much to bare. We found out later he didn't have Downs Syndrome but again if he had it would not have mattered. It did some what bring a sombre tone the joyous occasion of a happy occasion but again I and my husband just got on with our lives. Let the situation make you not break you.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Childhood Living The Natural Life

Using natural materials outside is fabulous you can use them to create items from mobiles and clay heads to shelters/ Consider the properties of different natural material and help children learn to recognise some of their key features.

This can be anything from using mud to make : mud gingerbread in connection with the " Gingerbread story"

To making mud troll faces due the "Three Billy Goat Gruff "

Use your garden or your school grounds or a local park etc to discover and identify a range of trees and plats. Activities will vary slightly depending on age? ability, but will include the role of plants, leaves, roots and stems and an introduction to photosynthesis ( the requirement for light, water and air why leaves are green and the leaf being a powerhouse for the plant)

And as I was doing the other day with a group of reception tying in with the subject of Spring looking for signs of new life in nature : Looking for buds, daffodils, bird nests etc ...

Why not go kite flying ? It's a perfect way to see nature all around you.

In the words of Mary Poppins "Lets go fly a kite "

Saturday 16 March 2013

History in the making :Hero or villain ?

There are times when a reputation will stick whether its warranted or not such in the case of King Richard.
Was he a hero or was he a villain?
Who knows?

Wandering old Leicester takes me back to my architectural inspection days my eye is always trained for seventeenth brickwork or a sash window after 1850. If my family lose me I am usually to be found by diaper brickwork or a cruck A frame . If we are in a church well that's it I have to hold myself back from giving a full health inspection ...

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday 14 March 2013

Childhood explored: How to learn in play

The weather you have to admit has been bizarre snow in March , I know its not unheard of but when the skies are blue you do began to wonder somewhat. Spring is such a joyous theme for crafting and for  children's learning.

  • You can aid a child's learning so much much! but avoid going into closed questing ( How many ? What colour What size ?)
  • Take some time to observe and find out what your children are playing and what their roles and intentions are.
  • Think if you need to enter the play and for what purposes ( such as offering suggestions, introducing new ideas or vocabulary , noise or behaviour management, extending the play or negotiating entry for another child.
  • Try and play on the children's terms by taking on a role that they suggest, and following the children's instructions. With younger children . just participating and imitating the children's actions with the same type of materials will signal that you are in tune and start a playful interaction.
  • Offer your own ideas when you are sure that they are consistent with the flow of play.
  • Always be aware of the qualities of play, and to the knowledge and skills that children are using and applying.

Monday 11 March 2013

Having a Natural Childhood.

There is much to be said for a natural childhood , but what is a natural childhood these days ? In a fast pace media world?

You can can argue that you can not have a natural childhood if you live in a concrete jungle this is not true there are ways that you can encourage and support a natural childhood.

Outdoor learning

To step out of the classroom is to step into an adventure , we need to remind ourselves that going outside is fun- an adventure for us , it as much fun for us as it is for our children. You don't have to go far, you don't even have to get on a bus.

Don't worry what you haven't got , make the most what is there.

You need to start with excitement we live in a world worth celebrating. We have to remind ourselves that although we need to work safely, meet the curriculum targets, satisfy our expectations as parents etc.

We need to step back, think and plan, and be ready to accept the unexpected.

Encourage exploration this can be as simple as going outside when it's frosty ( make sure you wrap up warm!) going outside when it's frosty you and your children can see footprints in frosted grass.

We need to encourage exploration / investigation and listen to our children and respect their discoveries. We need to trust our children and let go of our own worries. Meeting things is a challenge being creative can simply mean encouraging children to use their imaginations and even ourselves !

Give them a postcard and pencil and let them take themselves off.

Percy the park keeper is a good tool for younger children in expanding the activity.

If outside is a barrier sort it out as best as you can.

Go outside and build a natural childhood.

Going outside and building a natural childhood is all about building emotional intelligence.

It seems there is some debate about the modern childhood being over by the age of 12 hence the compilation of potty lists and things to do before the age of 12.

Encourage children to get on their knees as they can explore close up .. you don't need expensive kneelers , old mouse mats will do.

Make up your own story book, have a story walk a simple leaf can have a grand adventure plan a route for it : have a secret huddle ! always provide opportunities for the story to finish most things in life reach a natural conclusion.

Make a story out of your journey "Where does this path go to  ? is it a magical land of giants ?"

So get out there GO NUTS and explore :The world is ours is we just need to claim it back.

GO NUTS about going outside and exploring !

I recently went to a Forest school day as part of my role as A SEN teaching assistant.

Saturday 9 March 2013

One door shuts

It's been a hectic week ..

Man flu has hit the household twice ...

It's been a busy week at school ..

Just busy .. I need to relax and rewind.

I didn't get out as much as I wanted I had problems with my blog .

I had problems with a delivery ..

I had problems with the flowers being delivered to my Mother for Mother's Day ...

Argh but there are people with worse problems ..

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Nature is part of a natural childhood

We have eggs at school , they are not for the culinary delights of the teachers but its part of the topic of life cycles  last year when I was in year one I was on chicken mess cleaning up duty. As one of the chicken that we hatched came back to visit us , unfortunately it left us a little message in each of the classrooms it visited. I ably chased around chicken clearing up its mess ...

I was told a funny story by a chicken when asked about what the children had learnt about chicken a child put their hand up and said " If you go to a Derby County football match you have to a Derby flag "

To which my colleague asked " That's very nice but we are talking about chickens"

The child said" I am getting there" and proceeded to say the same sentence  but saying about different football teams and talking the right flags.

Exasperated  my colleague said " yes but what has this got to to with chickens ?"

"AWWH you see "said the child "Chickens can't go to football matches"

Where there is a child there is always clear logic. !

Friday 8 March 2013

Let's do the time warp ..

Not much has been happening this week in the Toplis household except my husband has been struck down with a viral illness. He rather sounds like a James Bond villain at the moment, rasping with evil overtones .

Also this week my blog has broke not sure what's up with it ?

But safe to say I have called in Miss Marple .. Was it the vicar in the study with the lead pipe ?

Let us look at the suspects..

1. The evil cat Rollie .....

2. The fairies at the bottom of the garden.

3. Me ... have I over tinkered at some point

So conclusionn I am at a loss ...

I need a SEO makeover .

I think it's a case of let's do the time warp again.

I feel in limbo .. Yes I know in the scheme of things it's not the end if the world ..

But if it was you I am sure you'd be miffed..

Rollie .........."Get him to the Total Greek"

The Lovely Lovely people at Total yoghurt decided to let Rollie try some Greek split pot Yoghurt's. Well Rollie was so excited He lay in wait for the Ocado man first he hid in a box. I worry about my cat what goes through its mind. Why did it eat its own eyes holes out. Rollie of course can be hired out as a hitman.

Rollie then decided to stalk the Ocado man by waiting at the window..... Poor Ocado man....

Finally the Ocado man delivered much to the relief of Rollie , me and the rest of the human race.

Evil Rollie inspects the yoghurt's. You never argue with this cat . he took his time inspecting his hoard. Perhaps it was because the Ocado man ran , ran for his life from the property and Rollie was sulking at missing out on live prey.

Honestly Rollie is smiling within.

This is the information from the Total Greek website.

"'                                  "NEW TOTAL 0% Greek Yoghurt Split Pots - ALL YUM, NO FAT!

Introducing a brand new concept in healthier eating.
Total 0% split pots combine natural fat-free Greek Yoghurt with a side portion of delicious honey or fruit compote.

Available in four delicious flavours, TOTAL 0% split pots are the perfect indulgence, with no artificial sweeteners and no compromise on taste. Higher in protein than other yoghurts, these convenient little pots have less than 130 calories per pots.*

Take a swirl of sweet honey or fruit compote and plunge your spoon into the smooth, thick Greek yoghurt to create the perfect mouthful.

Brilliant for breakfast, luscious at lunchtime, a superlative snack or a dreamy dessert, NEW TOTAL 0% Greek Yoghurt split pots bring you that great indulgent TOTAL taste, fat free!

*apart from TOTAL 0% with Honey which has 167 calories'  "

This all sounded good to me and Evil Ninja cat Rollie.

The First Total Greek Yogurt to be tried was the strawberry .Of course I ate the yogurt first and the cat had a little of each.... The split pot yoghurt's are great for breakfast,lunch or a dessert. We ate them mainly  for breakfast and for dessert . I found them all to be quite filling and satisfying . Anyway back to the strawberry yoghurt. I tried the strawberry compote first and found it to very sweet and quite jam like, but a very high quality jam.

Next up was the honey yoghurt, now I had read people had trouble with the honey setting in this yoghurt. I had no such trouble at all. The honey trickled easy offf my spoon into the Greek yoghurt. I have never been one for tipping the compote into the yoghurt. I think it is part of a mortal fear that it is going to spring out of my hats and splatter me in the face. I found the honey to be an ideal partner to the tartness of the Greek Yoghurt a good British  cup of tea.

We totally adored the blueberry yoghurt , it was an assualt on my senses. I loved the blueberries exploding on my tongue it was a bit of a "When Harry met Sally " moment ... blush. I think this has to be the best of the bunch  as it totally blew me away.

The final yoghurt was the tropical which at first looked odd because it has kiwi's in in but the taste is mellow and of course tropical  and it  transports you off to some tropical island( No it doesn't but we can all dream can't we.) It is rather sweet but it so nice.

So in conclusion Rollie and I really liked the yoghurts we think they have got the competition licked. Please head off to the Total Greek website , you can pick up so good fitness tips there too.

Jack the common servant cat decide  to clean up after King Rollie.

This is Rollie video review of the Strawberry Split Pot yoghurt

Paws and Rewind ..... Huzzah @Bombardier_beer review...

I constantly plot the downfall of my human couterparts. I leave mice's heads on the kitchen floor, and foot in the downstairs toilet oh and its brains just inside the kitchen door. Which are just ready for the humans when they rush down stairs in the middle of the night for a glass of water. I had thought from the various friends on her who felines leave them bits of mouse everywhere that we could cobble a mouse together. You know a sort of MOUSECANSTEIN with a bolt through its neck; and don't ask me why I would call it Bob.

Can you spot the cat can you , its a bit like that " Where's Wally"

I had the small human in a tight grip, don't let my sleeping face fool you. I let the small human go but I still had an evil smirk . Its tough being a cat and humans are so stupid. Well all this plotting I was really thristy, so after this those super  people @Bombardier_beer had given me so beer to review.

Notice the wink yet again( why does my cat do this?)

Well I couldn't but the grown up human could.

And I have to say it looked a gorgeous pint after pouring it into the glass...

The look of it does wishes you could reach into the picture and take it there and then. It has the right level of hopyyiness ( made up word) it sits very well on your pallette. I charged my husband with drinking this. At first he couldn't detect the peppary aromas but after some cheese and crackers which he said he needed to clear his palette! he was able to detect this. Or was he too lazy to go get himself a snack!