Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Scream if you want to go faster

Life feels like it's whizzing by in a blur while I stand there open-mouthed looking on. K turned three this month and managed to spread her birthday over two days meaning I had to make 2 cakes (not that I need an excuse for multiple cake). I found the idea for these Mickey Mouse cupcakes on Pinterest and made them to take with us to Godstone Farm on her actual birthday, and made a Hello Kitty cake for a tea party the following day. The cupcakes are just simple sponge with chocolate icing and mini Oreo cookies welded into position with more icing, sprinkled with crumbled Flake. (The original version uses crumbled Oreo not Flake but I sacrificed aesthetics for taste - chocolate beats soggy biscuit crumb any day).

Now she's three she'll be starting nursery in a couple of weeks. I went online to get the term times and added them to my calendar thinking I was being very organised but it just sent me into a panic... I was adding dates for next July when baby E won't be a baby anymore *sob* and when we'll be thinking about K starting school. I'm going to file that away in a dark recess of my brain right next to the niggling thoughts of when my maternity allowance ends and I'll need to somehow find work and childcare that I can fit around two little ones, if it is even worth going back to work.

I'm testing the water at the moment... I'm doing some graphics for a film, something I've always wanted to try. The art director knows me and knows that I have kids so we have agreed to see how I get on working from home and fitting the work around looking after them. So far so good. I'd like to say more about the film but I can't because of confidentiality and me being an anonymous blogger, but I can say that the subject matter is poles apart from being a mum.

I had to look into working while you are on maternity leave. You can do up to 10 days paid work, which the Department of Work and Pensions call "keeping in touch days", without affecting your maternity allowance, so even if I find that I can't cope I'll not be missing out.

So if it's a bit quiet on my blog you know why. Wish me luck, I'm hoping the stress may help me fit back into my jeans!

I'm linking to Lakota's Ta-dah! Tuesday, even though it's Wednesday... I'm such a rebel. I think making cakes and landing work is worth a ta-dah!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Cocoa Boutique {review}

Hands up who'd like to be a chocolate taster? That has got to be one of the best jobs. Cocoa Boutique is a luxury chocolate tasting club who have just launched their new website, and every month they randomly pick 25 people, from those who register their details, to become a chocolate taster and get a free box (RRP £34.95).

I was naturally very excited about reviewing their chocolate taster box, however, the box was delivered on the hottest day of the year and suffered a bit as a result as you can see in the photo.

The outer cardboard packaging is designed to fit through most letterboxes which is a good idea (and usually the weather isn't an issue for us Brits), inside is a classic black and white chocolate box along with detailed descriptions of the chocolates and bios of the chocolatiers who made them.

I liked that there were at least 2 of each chocolate so perfect for sharing and taste comparisons. The stand out ones for me were the pretty (and strangely named) Pamela. I wasn't initially sold on the idea of cassis-pear flavour but it really worked and had a lovely lingering dark chocolate finish, also the dark choc coated coffee beans were excellent with an intense flavour and satisfying crunch.

I was disappointed with the salted caramels, these are usually my favourite but the chocolate shell was too squishy, I really wanted a crack of dark choc and the ooze of caramel, but maybe they had been affected by the heat. The heat had also made the white strawberry cream droop and the almond praline and vanilla Irish cream lose their lustre and texture, such a shame!

Pamela(!), pretty pink Champagne truffle & almond praline

Cocoa Boutique are active on Facebook and Twitter (@cocoa_boutique) and that's the best way to hear about offers and competitions they are running. At the moment you can get the "Best of the best' tasting box delivered for £9.95, a 70% discount, using the code SOCIALOFFER at the checkout. There is also a money back guarantee. You can find their website here.

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of chocolates to review and have given my honest and unbiased opinion

Monday, 20 August 2012

Up your alley

Today's magpie find was brought home yesterday by Mr; a carrier bag full of CDs. On his way to the local shop (for local people) he saw this bag dumped in an alleyway and rescued it. I'm glad to see my wombling ways are rubbing off on him!

The CDs are mostly of the free variety given away with magazines and newspapers (a particularly harrowing one is from The Sun called "Sexual Feeling") but there are a few proper CDs that you could sell on somewhere like Music Magpie.

 The 'Woman" CD is a compilation of the most irritating power ballads ever

What I don't understand is why someone would do this? If you were really lazy you'd just chuck them in the bin. If you had half a brain you'd take them to the charity shop rather than leave them in an alleyway that tends to get used as a public urinal. Maybe they didn't want the shame of offloading "Sexual Feeling" to the old dears in the local Geranium Shop? Maybe the bag had been pinched from outside a charity shop and then dumped when they saw Sexual Feeling?!

As Mr said, at least they won't just be going in the rubbish now. There are a couple I want to stick on itunes (no, NOT Sexual Feeling), a couple that we might try to sell at a car boot sale we plan to do in a couple of weeks, and I'll take the rest to the charity shop... where they should have been taken in the first place.

I feel the same when I see perfectly good furniture dumped outside houses (or it would be perfectly good before being subjected to our British weather). Why don't people use Freecycle to get rid of things? Do they not know it exists or just can't be bothered to list something? It's such a shame to see reusable items going to waste.

As always I'm linking up to Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow. And if any of you lovely readers would like Sexual Feeling just drop me a line :)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Clockwork orange | Magpie Monday

Yesterday we went to a boot sale at Hayes Farm near Bromley. An upside of being woken early by little people is being able to make it to car boot sales. Why do they start so early? Boot sales AND toddlers? The downside being that having a toddler with you at a boot sale means you'll spend the majority of time either coaxing them along because they are bored or removing toys from their sticky mitts while they sob and make you look like a meanie in front of the stall holders.

We got there at 10am, quite late by boot sale standards, but by 11 (when the sellers feel like they have been there an eternity) stuff was going cheap because the sellers just wanted rid of it so they could go home.

I'm generally an anti-plastic toys snob but I LOVE vintage Fisher Price. I recently spent a small fortune on a 1974 cash register from ebay. Mr thought I was mental but I justify the purchase by making sure that every kid that visits us plays with it! I think there must be something genuinely attractive about the clunkiness of these retro toys that still appeals to kids today. So when I saw this cute Hickory Dickory Dock wind-up clock for £1 I had to have it. It was pretty filthy, I think it had its full 40 years worth of grime intact, but I gave it a thorough Cilit Banging and it looked much better. It works perfectly and I love the colours, the orange, yellow and sky blue. And who doesn't want a satisfyingly big knob to turn? *ahem* It's living above E's cot as he seemed to like the music.

Vintage Fisher Price clock radio
On the left there is Gabriel from Bagpuss, a charity shop purchase that backfired - to read the sorry tale click here

And the back is cute too...
Vintage Fisher Price clock radio reverse

Another orange item that caught my eye was this plate. From a distance I thought it was a willow type design but up close it's an odd little village scene (might just be me but it has a touch of stark communism about it) and is English Ironstone. For £1 I couldn't leave it behind.
Orange English Ironstone plate
Click to see bigger

I also got a few items of clothing for E and a couple of books and toys for K. Plus she got a Mr Whippy. Her eyesight is bloody brilliant where food is involved... she spotted the ice cream van half a field away.

I'm linking up to Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow. This week Liz has found something that I would love to have! I've also linked to Car Boot Booty over at Family Budgeting :)

Friday, 10 August 2012


Arachnophobes look away now! I noticed an unusual looking spider in the garden a few weeks ago, large enough for me not to want to get too close to but odd enough to look up online. Turns out it's a nursery web spider. Cute name for a scary beast.

 Mum on the right of her 'tent' Click to view bigger... if you dare!

Today I saw this strange shaped web on a plant. On closer inspection, there was the spider. Wikipedia says "When the eggs are about to hatch, a mother spider will build a nursery "tent", put her egg sac inside, and mount guard outside".

So there it is, her little tent with the sac clearly visible within. The thought of hundreds of these roaming in the garden doesn't fill me with joy but who am I to come between a mother and her babies? Especially when the mother can apparently "jump a distance of five or six inches" to escape danger *shudders*

This bit made me grin..."The female spider will sometimes attempt to eat the male after mating. The male, to reduce the risk of this, will often present the female with a gift such as a fly when approaching in the hope that this will satisfy her hunger". I can imagine Ms Spider munching on her fly and then saying "nahh, I'm still peckish, come here big boy..."

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

mOmma review & giveaway

***Competition now closed***
Baby E is now 3 months old so weaning is on the horizon. I loved weaning K, she wasn't a fussy eater and was keen to feed herself but it helps to have well designed feeding equipment that eases the process. Brought to you by Lansinoh, mOmma is an innovative range of feeding products that are specially designed to engage toddlers during mealtime.

Does the cup look familiar? It reminds me of the Tombliboos cups...
Book available from Amazon

As E is too young to give me his opinion I put the cup through its paces with K using water rather than pinky ponk juice. The way the lid swivels and straw 'pops out' was a winner and I gave it a good shake upside down and only a teeny drop came out of the specially designed straw. The cup has a weighted bottom and rocks which is visually interesting to little ones but one thing that K mentioned was that it was quite heavy when full of liquid. I agree and would therefore tend to use this more at home than out and about.

I was a bit dubious about being able to clean it properly but the parts came apart easily (although there are no instructions about assembly in the box so I'm not sure if the lid is supposed to come apart too and I didn't want to force it) and everything came out the dishwasher clean.

Again with the fork, the lack of instructions had me scratching my head. The box said the fork was extendable but I couldn't see any way to do this... until I realised that the protective cover fits over the ball handle to make it longer (duh!) Again this is a great design for little hands and I like the hybrid spork utensil.

All the products are BPA free, so safe for your toddler, and available to buy from Amazon – the cup is currently £5.99 and the fork is £1.49.

There are lots more well designed pieces in the range including a plate that you fill with hot water to keep food warm and a baby bottle with it's own little zip-up jacket. You can find information on the mOmma website here.


I have a mOmma cup with straw to giveaway! Suitable for 9 months+ it's an eye-catching, fun design.

To enter just leave a comment below telling me what your favourite drink is, along with a way to contact you.

For an extra entry you can tweet the giveaway " I've entered the mOmma rocking cup comp @makedomum #giveaway ". Please leave a separate comment along with your Twitter name to say you have done this.

One winner will be picked using a random number generator after the closing date: Wednesday 15th August at 9pm.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only and the prize will be sent out direct from mOmma.

Disclaimer: I was sent a cup and fork free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Good luck!
ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

**The winner of the giveaway is randomly drawn number 78... Samantha Roberts**


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