Cooking with Kids – Cadbury Pebble Cookies

Cooking and baking is something I do a lot with the boys.  I cooked with my mum growing up and a lot of the skills I have are all down to her.  Cooking and baking is great for children as it teaches them lots and lots of new skills including measuring and weighing (you can even add conversion in), time measurement and management.  Plus I am a great believer in home made and home cooked. cadburys pebbles One of the things we like baking is simple cookies and this is a variation on that theme using Cadbury pebbles as the added yum factor.  If you love smarties and mini eggs then you will love cadburys pebbles, they are yummy cadbury chocolate covered in a christy hard shell and come in yellow, grey and purple.  The boys love them as does MadDad.
Cooking with Kids - Cadbury Pebble Cookies
20 cookies
These are really simple cookies with not too many ingredients that are perfect for children to make. You can substitute the Cadbury Pebbles with other chocolate products or even dried fruit
  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g Self Raising flour
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 100g Cadbury Pebbles
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Add sifted flour milk and vanilla extract. mix until all combined
  3. Add in the Cadburys Peddles and combine by hand.
  4. Roll into 20 balls, and place on 2 greased baking sheets
  5. Bake in oven 190 C for 15 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool before eating
  cookiesuncooked Do you bake with your children?
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Hands on Maths for Maxi (year 4 or 8 year old) – Shapes

Maxi is currently working on shapes at school in maths and this week brought home an Islamic pattern sheet and he had to identify a number of polygons on it and colour them all in different colours.  Maxi is 8 years old and in Year 4 at school (key stage 2). tangram For someone like me that finds this type of mathematics really hard it is nigh on impossible to look at that page and see anything other than triangles. Thankfully First 4 Magnets had sent us a magnetic tangram this week.   We were sent the yellow one and it retails at £1.99.
  • Complete square measures 125mm x 125mm
  • Seven separate magnetic shapes
  • Made from high-quality die cut foam on a flexible magnetic backing
These challenging and addictive puzzles are based on the ancient Chinese tangram puzzle. Each puzzle is made from premium foam with a flexible magnetic backing providing a secure grip to a steel surface like your fridge. Each puzzle is die cut and supplied as a square so you can easily break the individual shapes apart to create new shapes.  A tangram contains a small square, two small isosceles triangles, a medium-sized isosceles triangle, two large isosceles triangles, and a parallelogram. An isosceles triangle has two equal angles and two equal sides. A parallelogram is a four-sided figure with each side parallel to the opposite side. When I received it I put it on the fridge and everyone in the house has played with it, including Maxi's friends who have come to visit. I decided to set some challenges for the boys to follow some patterns using the tangram and it was great fun for everyone. On the suggestion of Cathy from Nurturestore this weekend will be spent turning a sleeper offcut in to a geoboard. 3.  
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My #Epic trip To LA

Last month I took a trip to LA to to celebrate the release of Epic which is out now on Blu-ray 2D & 3D and DVD and meet with the Epic Director, Chris Wedge  and Art Director, Mike Knapp.  What stood out to me when I watched Epic was the animation.  It is magical and harks back to an early age of animation.  There is so much attention to detail and it really shines and makes Epic something exceptional. Epic Art Director, Mike Knapp Talking to Mike Knapp, who is the Art Director was really eye opening and inspirational.  He talked about how they chose their colour palette and how the fact that the Boggans where totally desaturated in colour, where as the Queen Tara, who is voiced by Beyoncé was given the most vivid of green colours, which is why she really stands out in the film as being so magical and alive. The Leafmen  are what really appealed to the Minimads'.  They loved the fact that they ride on birds, specifically Hummingbirds.  Leafmen are the warriors that protect the Moonhaven, which is where Queen Tara lives and were are inspired by William Joyce’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.  There uniforms have so much attention to detail in them and were inspired by leafs and the patterns that occur in nature. Epic I also met with Epic Director, Chris Wedge (who also directed Ice Age) and went on a nature tour of  the Los Angeles Arboretum with him and Botanical Specialist Frank McDonough,  it was clear from talking to Chris that Epic was a film that he had wanted to make for a long time and he was really invested in making it the best he could and truly epic.  He talked about how this world could believeable be anywhere just out of sight. I then met Ken the Bug Guy, who features on the DVD and Blu-ray special features.  He had brought along a number of bugs that inspired Epic.  I wasn't brave enough to touch any, but know that this is one of the special features that will captivate my two boys. epic me Blu-ray & DVD Special Features
  • Mub & Grub Intro - join Mub and Grub for an EPIC tour through the exciting all-new special features
  • Birds, Bugs and Slugs: Forest Explorer - journey into the forest to meet the real-life counterparts of the EPIC world
  • Rot Rocks - Mandrake might be the bad guy, but his world of rot benefits ours in a number of ways, here you can discover how
Blu-ray Only Special Features
  • Bugs of Camouflage - find out how bugs use their environment to hide right under our noses, just like the Leafmen
  • The Epic Life At Two Inches Tall - how would your life be different if you were only two inches tall? Aside from being small, there are some surprising and amazing benefits.
  • Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed - meet the incredibly talented filmmakers, artists, and animators at Blue Sky, and learn all about the making of EPIC, including The World, The Leafmen, Queen Tara, Mub & Grub, Nim Galuu, The Stompers and Finding Moonhaven
epic blu ray pack shot Epic is out now on Blu-ray 2D & 3D and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
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An Epic woodland hunt

Last month I took a little trip across the atlantic to learn more about Epic and the extras on the Blu-ray and DVD, which is released today. Epic woodland walk For those of you that haven't seen Epic at the movies, it is an enchanting animated tale of life in a woodland filled with leafmen, kingfishers, boggans and adventure.  Both the boys were transfixed to the film when they watched it and I have to say the animation is amazing. We decided to go on an Epic hunt through the woodland near where we live to look for signs of decay, rot and the passage of time and also to look for signs of tiny people who look after the woodland and keep the balance. We took our trusty cameras with us and just look at what we found below: Epic collage It was a great exercise, especially after we had been capturing colour in the woods last weekend.  It enabled the boys to look at things in a whole new light.  It drove lots of conversation about why decay happens.  Why there needs to be decay and balance within the natural world and that decay isn't always a bad thing (I used our compost bin as an example). Also as it is Autumn (fall) in the UK we had lots of conversations about the changing of seasons and the changing colours of the leaves and why this happened.  We then came home and looked up why the leaves change colour on both the Forestry Commision and the Woodland Trust Websites, to find out more about Chlorophyll. We also decided to try and preserve the colours in the leaves we found by soaking them in a solution of water and glycerine (more to come on this).  So we can use them in crafts throughout the autumn.  We also picked up some pinecones, so have decided to make pinecone owls and pinecone hedgehogs too. I also wanted to share this fab video where they turned Epping Forest in to Epic Forest and some of the things the children got up to. 5377901000_3PA_jpgHR 1 Epic is out now on Blu-ray & DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
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Save up to £755 per family with Dine Free at Walt Disney World Offer

I know I might be repeating myself a little here, but we are off on the holiday of a lifetime to Florida with my brother and his family in November and I am so excited.  My boys will be 7 and 8 at the time we travel and I know we are going to have an absolutely fantastic time. mania We booked our holiday last year, although it has been under planning for the last two and a half years.   An offer like this one, which is for UK families to dine for free at all Disney parks and hotels if they book their 2014 trip before November 5th (including the summer holidays) would have really made an impact on who we booked our holiday with, especially when you consider you could save up to £755 per family. I also know that the food in Walt Disney World is superb after eating there with Maxi on our Visit Orlando Press Trip in February. As part of this deal, Disney conducted some research in to family dining habits
  •  78% of parents say their children are adventurous eaters
  • 14% of children say they eat a variety of foods at home
  • 68% of parents say as a family they are more adventurous at mealtimes when on holiday compared with when they are at home
More information about this dine free at Walk Disney World Offer can be found here. 3.
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May all your dreams be sweet dreams or 8 ways to help prevent nightmares


Sleep issues, we have had them all as most of your are aware.  We are also no stranger to nightmares and anxiety at bedtime or during the night.  Most of these things can be helped with some proactive thinking.  Many children around five to nine get nightmares due to becoming aware of the scary things in the wide world.  My friend was worried her little one might start to have nightmares when he moved in to his big boys childs bed, which was provided by Time 4 Sleep.  So we compiled the ideas we came up with below:.
  1. We are fans of guatemalan worry dolls and both boys have a set, but I have to say I love this larger home crafted set of worry dolls from Actually Mummy.  I love the fact that you can use the crafting time to discuss anything that might be worrying or scaring your child.
  2. Make a dreamcatcher together to hang over the bed.  it doesn't have to be crafting perfection, but you can discuss how the native American Indians thought they worked as you make it together.
  3. Fill a spray bottle with water scented with a couple drops of lavender extract ("monster spray" or "nightmare repellent") and let your child banish scary dreams by spritzing a little around their room before bed.
  4. Routine, it goes without saying try to avoid any books or TV that might be scary.  Try an upbeat story or song before bedtime and give your child a nightlight
  5. Encourage good or positive thoughts.  We wright down three things we are grateful for that day before bed, but it could be something as simple as discussing a good thing that happened that day.
  6. Music can help.  We have a CD of music that I play at a low volume that helps Mini get off to sleep.  Maxi always prefered an audio book.   If all else fails there are some great downloads from Relax Kids available.
  7. Introduce a sleeping partner, no not you, but a teddy or doll.  Maxi was never ones for soft toys, but found one really comforting when he started having bad dreams.
  8. Find something that works for you.  Why not change the name of moisturizing cream to happy dream cream or place a special memory stone or semi precious stone under a pillow to radiate happy dreams.
happy bed A very happy little boy in his new Shaker childrens bed pretending to be asleep!  We were really impressed with the service received from Time 4 Sleep, from the information on their website being great and comprehensive (including sizes) to the ease of order and the delivery service was second to none.  The bed was really well packaged and they rang to arrange delivery and even better turned up on time! It was easy to put up (in fact it only took one person and feels really sturdy and good quality. And the best thing, he had a full nights sleep in his new bed, with no nightmares and no getting up, so it must be really comfortable.
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Experiences bring more happiness than things

A snapshot of this years family experiences so far.
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September Picture Postcard

september September has been a fun filled, packed month for me.  From the boys starting school for two days and then it flooding, to me visiting LA (more to come on that).  There has been pies, foraging, sun,  music, colds, tomatoes from the garden and The Mad Blog Awards (more to come on that too).  
Picture Postcards
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An Autumn Nature Walk

Today is such a beautiful autumn day so we decided to take a walk in our neighbourhood and the boys grabbed their cameras so they could snap their images for the Kids Capture the colour competition. We were like pied pipers and started the walk with two children and a dog and ended up with five children!  We are really lucky that we have so much beauty and wildlife on our doorstep, in fact this is less than 2 minutes walk. maxi's capture the colur So this is Maxi's selection.  White graffiti, blue sky and red berries, yellow berries, red berries, green acorns.   We had an amazing hour in the sun, enjoying our walk, which was a real adventure for all the boys hunting our colours in the local area.  I love the way they look at the world surrounding us and things on their level that I totally would have missed.    These pictures were all snapped on a fujifilm 14 megapixel compact camera.   You can find Mini's capture the colour entry over at A Thrifty Mum. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Need, want, must have – Dotcomgiftshop

dotcom giftshop I lo0ve dotcomgiftshop.  I think they are fab and I have bought lots of things from them in the past including my fab nightlights.  I was so excited this morning when I saw that they had a whole new selection of nightlights available and all of them under a fiver, which makes them superb value.  So I decided to put together my need, want, must haves from Dotcomgiftshop and as Maxi is home unwell, he had to add his 2p's worth too! Nightlights - Maxi wants the squirrel nightlight (£3.99) and Mini wants the hedgehog nightlight (£3.99) Model Skeleton (£6.99) Maxi is learning all about the body this term and he spotted this and NEEDS's it! Mid Century Oilcloth Bag ( £14.99) Dotcomgiftshop sent me this bag and it is the perfect size for books, so it has become our book bag for all our library books.  As Sally at Who's the Mummy said It is very me. Round Ceramic Mason Jar With Yellow Lid and Large Ceramic Mason Jar With Green Lid (from £4.99) These would be perfect for my kitchen and baking cupboard.  I would love a whole selection of them in different sizes.  They look so much more expensive than they are. Moorish ceramics  and pottery (from £3.99 to £24.99) I have a real passion for ceramics and I adore these mismatched but coordinating cups, plates, bowls and those measuring spoons (swoon).  Perfect for a home like ours where things get broke (blame to mad boys and a pup for that). Mid Century Oilcloth weekend bag (£29.99) I need this for travelling to Florida.  It is the perfect size for a carry on and I adore the pattern and the fact that it is oilcloth. Dotcomgiftshop badge  
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