Cherishing Family Milestone Moments with Fairy

family cuddles

Super Soft Cuddles

I like to think I don’t take any of my children’s milestones for granted. Everyone always says how quickly time goes by and that you will never get those childhood years back (I’m never quite sure how to take that!) Parents of teenagers are quick to tell me that the toddlers years are the best – I can’t comment yet as we have 43 weeks left until we have a teenager in the house!)

I will admit though that the last 12 years have just flown – I’m wanting to grab hold of my littlies and slow life down. We have less than a year until Miss T goes to school so for this year we have one in High School, One in Primary School and One at nursery – Family planning at its best. Eh?

Tara 2nd birthday

Fairy are running a campaign at the moment to encourage us to make the most of our precious family moments. They have produced a short video that’ll make you gulp! For anyone whose child has ever had a special teddy, this is for you …

We are rearranging our photos in the living room and have been having a potter through our collection – There’s nothing like seeing pics of your kids to realise how quickly the time has passed. I’m vowing to take more pictures over the next few years – and maybe be on a few myself! As we’ve gone through the photos its been lovely to see how often the girls have impromptu cuddles themselves – Long may they continue!

Seems like yesterday!

Seems like yesterday!

Disclosure: I was asked to feature the Fairy video and write about special family time. I was sent some Fairy products to compensate for my time.

Chocolate Piñata Cake

piñata birthday cake

EDIT: The story behind the Chocolate Piñata Cake …Maybe not the neatest or best decorated cake I’ve ever made but certainly one of the quickest. I’d made the cakes on Friday morning (2 shallow and one deep in case you are interested) then I had 15 minutes to decorate on the Friday afternoon before we went out to celebrate Millie turning 12. It was at this point I discovered I had no icing-sugar – so I used powdered Fondant Icing (I’m thinking its nearly the same) to make the buttercream.

I cut out a circle in the middle of the deep middle tier and poured the chocolates in – Warning! This type of cake used LOADS of sweets. I used 2 packs of Mint Aero Bubbles, 2 packs of maltesers, 1 pack of Chocolate M& Ms and 2 packs of White Chocolate Buttons. To decorate around the outside I used Maltesers, More White Chocolate Buttons and a packet of Jelly Babies. This is not the cake for dieters!

Next time I make a Piñata cake, I will think more about the outside decoration but for such a quick cake, I’m rather chuffed!

There’s still some left in the fridge – want some?

One Direction Bento Box

One Direction packed lunch bento box

It seems the craze for Bento boxes is getting bigger and bigger. For people new to Bento, they are packed lunches. You are ‘supposed’ to have a variety of smaller items rather than just a buttie and an apple. I say ‘supposed’ to because really, who can dictate what you should do with a packed lunch?!

Until now, Violet has been a school dinner but as usual for the summer term, she likes to swap to packed lunches. Our Bento box (Lakeland Lunch Box) is quite small for an adult but perfect for Vi.

It was her 8th birthday yesterday so I wanted to give her what I know she will like. Birthdays are not a day to mess around with – You don’t try new food on a birthday. I’ve heard that’s the law.

As with most other 8yo’s, Violet thinks she loves 1D. (I’m not convinced she knows many of the songs but I’ll play along -just as long as I don’t have to go and watch them!). So it was decided that our first Bento box would be One Direction themed box.

Thank heavens for B&M (Are they a national company? Are you now thinking – what on earth is B&M? Think Pound shop but better value) – I came across 1D biscuits.

We haven’t been shopping yet since being away in the Lakes last week so I admit to the selection being rather minimal – We went with Harry Styles Tuna & Cucumber wraps with a Zayn-ey (sorry) Salad Cream type dressing.

Chopped Strawb-louis (groan!) and Chopped Grapes finished it off.

The piece de resistance has to be the little heads on cocktail sticks – which according to Violet, ALL THE GIRLS wanted one! Result! I cut their heads out of newspapers and sellotaped onto little pieces of card with a stick in the middle. Easy Peasy.

I’ll have to give future Bento boxes a little more thought but for a first time, Vi’s reaction was brilliant.

For more Bento box ideas, the fabulous Eats Amazing is the guru – She’s been in the National Press and everything!

Frozen Inspired Food – Marshmallow Olafs

frozen olaf food

It was a very exciting day for my children yesterday. Violet has never been the same since we took her to see the movie, Frozen just after Christmas. She has lived and breathed that film. Like a lot of children, she knows every word of every song. She spends many an hour ‘researching’ the film on the internet (YouTube!). She has waited and waited, and asked and asked near enough every day, ‘When is Frozen out on DVD?’ and yesterday was THE DAY!

Off she went to school with me promising to get the DVD (Nah, I’m not organised enough to pre-order it) and so off I tripped to the supermarket. I decided we would make a celebration of film night by having a Frozen inspired tea.

Here’s what I came up with – I’m pretty impressed with myself considering I only had an hour. Once Tara got the drift of what I was doing she was solo excited – I’ve never seen her jump up and down so much. Really cute!

I had seen on Pinterest, a few people have had Frozen parties and loved the idea of Olaf noses (Carrots!) so there was one dish.

olaf noses

We had snow topped pizza (Marguerita with some extra Mozzarella) cut into mountain shaped peaks.

My ultimate favourite (and the one that took the most time) has got to be the Marshmallow Olafs – 3 marshmallows stuck together with sugar glue. Matchmakers for arms. Mini chocolate drops for buttons and orange marzipan noses, I drew the mouth and eyes with edible pen. As you can see from the picture below, Tara was more than chuffed with her Olaf! God knows why, but all 3 girls changed into white onesies for the film – bit strange at 4pm in the afternoon but who am I to argue?

Frozen inspired food

Millie made us some paper snowflakes …

disney frozen food
We had snow topped popcorn (Freshly popped kernels with melted white chocolate mixed through it), Snow Mice, Snow topped Marshmallows (dipped in blue icing and edible sparkles), Blue shortbread cookies (which were vile – far too sweet)

frozen white chocolate mice

And best of all…Me & Derm had Chilli for tea (Get it?)

The girls had a ball and were high as a kite from all the sugar when Grandma came to visit as we had parent’s evening.

I think I earned some Mum Brownie points and I did it all without the help of gin!

Winter Hands and New Babies – with Dettol

how to stop hands from getting sore chapped

I was set the task by the good people at Dettol to come up with some tips of how to look after your hands. Its due to get a lot colder shortly and from my experience, hands soon start to suffer.

Before I had babies, I didn’t appreciate how many times you end up washing your hands and the effects of chapped skin – I had the lot … cracked fingers, bleeding knuckles, red raw skin. By the time daughters 2 and 3 came along, I was a bit wiser. Aswell as making sure I used moisturising hand wash, I had a few other tricks that I followed:

  • Handcream – Have some by every sink. This was from my mum – I argued that I didn’t have time to allow it to sink in, but looking back she was right. Even if its only on for a second, it does some good.
  • One Handed Jobs – Yes, I’m serious – There are some jobs that only need one hand and therefore only one hand needs to be washed. Believe me, if your hands are that sore, you go for the one handed tasks … i.e. Getting washing out of the washing basket, wiping surfaces down
  • The Order of Events – There’s some jobs that you can do before others – I used to Empty the washing machine, peel potatoes and then feed the cat – all with one hand wash. I’m not suggesting you skip hand washing if its something that need clean hands for i.e. cooking, washing the baby, just that even one less hand wash a day can help.
  • Accept Help – If someone visits and asks the immortal question, ‘Can I do anything to help?’-  Let them! Let them wash their hands instead of you.
  • Before you go out – Last job = Put your hand cream on and put your gloves over the top. I’m going to pretend that not everyone is like me and forgets something EVERY SINGLE TIME!
  • Bedtime – Last job of the day, hand cream on before lights out. Aren’t we hot in our house? (and obviously everyone has hand cream next to their bed?!)

Disclosure: I received no payment for this post, although Dettol did send me some E45 Handwash and a beautiful gift. All the tips are my own! Thank you to Dettol.

Body Parts – Wots so Funee

funny children

What do you call this? A belly button? A tummy button? Navel (Eew!)

Apparently in our house. we have a new word for it – Tara has this week become obsessed with showing everyone her BELLY BOOB!!

We’ve had a few alternative names for body parts over the years – Violet at 7 still calls her big toes, her THUMB TOE. I admit I quite like it and am in no rush for her to change its name.

I’m sure most kids also get mixed up between their Shoulders and their Elbows.

Do you have any Body Parts that have unusual names in your house – Clean Names Only Please!!!

I’m joining in this week with Helen at Actually Mummy with Wots So Funee.

Wot So Funee?

A Younger Me – The Gallery

Helen on Wicker Chair

I knew exactly which picture I wanted to use for this week’s Gallery entry. I came across it recently when I had tons of pictures up of me all over the house for my 40th party.

I’m 2 1/2 on this picture – almost exactly the age that Tara is now. We still have the wicker chair. Its a bit battered – a few of the strings are missing but all 3 girls have sat on it as toddlers (and quite a few teddies too!) It now lives in Tara’s room – Derm and my Mum have tried to get rid of it loads of times – how could they?

Here’s Tara sat on the chair today (the teddy has been changed as a) I can’t find the other one and b) it would be a germ-ridden stink by now.

wicker chair1

There’s some fabulous pictures of bloggers in their youth over at Tara Cain’s blog today – Why not join in with the Gallery yourself and show us what you looked like as a child? I particularly like Mummy Barrow as a 6 year old – too cute!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Last night in our house …

Last night in our kitchen when I’m trying to make a cake …

Daughter: “Mum, what is Tou-rex?”

Me: *Thinks hard before answering* “Its a condition that sends messages from the brain sometimes making the person do things that they don’t want to do”.

Daughter: *looks puzzled* “Er, like what?”

Me: “Sometimes people with Tourettes have what are known as Ticks where they twitch or move involuntarily. Sometimes they say things they don’t mean to say like swear words. You might meet people with this condition one day but it is very important not to laugh at them. It must be very hard”

Daughter: *Looks even more puzzled* “So what’s this for then?” Points to a box …

Me: “Oh, that’s Trex – I use that for greasing cake tins!”

Just when I was pleased with how grown up a conversation we were having!

The difference between Trex and Tourettes

I’m joining in this week with the lovely Helen over at Actually Mummy…

Wot So Funee?

Funkita – Funky Swimwear – Brilliant PR

funky kid's swimwear

A couple of weeks ago I had the most lovely email ever. You may remember reading a post from during the summer where I talked about my kids using the paddling pool. In the post I used a picture of Violet acting the goat in the pool wearing a red and black costume. The costume is one of Violet’s favourites that we ordered from Simply Swim. As you can imagine we go through tons of swimwear in this house with someone swimming every single day (and more often than not Millie swimming several times a day)

My email from Funkita was basically a thank you for putting up the picture. All the way from Australia!

Even more surprising was the offer of some free gifts as a means of saying thank you. The guys from Funkita expected nothing in return – they just wanted to introduce themselves and send a gift.
I nearly died a week later when a parcel arrived with swimwear for all 5 of us!

A Unicorn Costume for Tara – generous sizes – This is age 3-4
funky children's swimming costume

Mil and Vi are pictured above wearing their Pollock Party Single One Piece and Wings of Paradise One Piece. Both have confirmed that they love their costumes – one thing is certain, they will get a lot of wear!

Last weekend I even got to wear my present at a Spa weekend with some school friends as we continue to celebrate our 40th birthdays. Don’t panic, I’m not going to post a picture of me modelling it!

funky swim wear for men

Perhaps the most talked about present we received though, were these Funky trunks for Dermot. Now let me tell you about Derm’s choice of swimwear … he favours black, plain and understate. Much hilarity when these beauties turned up! Even more when he put them on – Not sure Millie will get over that sight in a hurry. To our surprise though, he says they are perfect for surfing under his wetsuit – expect to see them on Hell’s Mouth beach in Abersoch soon!

Many Thanks to Funkita for the lovely gifts. They did not ask me to write a blog post about the costumes. We are just very grateful and this is our way of saying, Thank you!

The Big Draw 2013 – Imperial War Museum Manchester

Big Draw Imperial War Museum half term activities

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to take part in a preview of The Big Draw 2013 at The Imperial War Museum in Manchester. This event is inviting families to take part in the world’s largest drawing festival. The people at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) say it doesn’t matter what age you are or how good you are at art – that was enough for me, off we went.

Soldier's boots

Our preview day started with storytime in the Open Studio which was suitable for very young children. There were quite a few tots there on the day that could happily potter around the room, dressing up in the war inspired outfits if they wished.

We then moved on to the actual drawings. This was a brilliant way of introducing wartime objects to children. We could explain to the kids what things were (such as gas masks and powdered egg tins) whilst they were drawing. The team from IWM were very welcoming and friendly to us all, allowing us time to chat and draw – they also managed to make us feel like our drawings were fantastic somehow – true people skills! For children of Millie’s age (11) it was a chance to cement what she had already learnt from school and for Violet (7) it was a brilliant introduction to how things used to be.

ration books

What we drew

We spent absolutely ages going around the Main Exhibition Space. We highly recommend the Big Picture Show from Horrible Histories on Rotten Rationing which is shown on all walls in the Exhibition area. It lasts around 10 mins and keeps the kids enthralled. A must to see and hilarious!

There are plenty of Handling areas that kids can get their hands on. I spent so much of the day marvelling at the fact that the IWM has been open for just over 11 years and I had never visited before. We will definitely be going again. What realised surprised us was how spacious and clean the whole building was. The extra space ensured that littlies such as Tara had the freedom to roam whilst we were looking at exhibits. You also appreciated just how big some of the exhibition pieces are too.

Large War exhibits

The highlight of our day was a chance to go up the Air Shard – the lift is truly terrifying and fantastic all in one go. I’m not great with heights but loved getting out of the lift at the top, being able to see the ground through the grilled floor and then seeing the whole of Manchester from above. I cannot praise the security guards and in fact, everyone that we met at the IWM enough. They couldn’t do enough to help us (they didn’t know we were there for review purposes – I got the sense that they just love their job).

Our view of Manchester from the top of the Air Shard

Our view of Manchester from the top of the Air Shard

There are just a couple of points I do feel I need to point out for first time visitors with children:
* On the way into the Cafe (which served a lovely soup and again had very friendly staff) are images from the Iraq war. Some of them show some injuries and children being rescued. My Violet at 7 was very intrigued but also a little alarmed – If you go up in the lift with young children, you can avoid these picture if you need to.
* One of the small rooms was set out like a living room which was very appealing to the girls after walking around. This room was showing a video of the Vietnam war and the famous image of the naked child running to safety.

I know that these areas are not particularly suitable for my children at the moment so next time we go, I will avoid these.
I would definitely recommend reading any literature you get when you visit. There is so much to see that you can easily walk past something and not realise its significance – The mangled wreckage from the World Trade Centre was just chilling when we realised what it was.

Guess the trench stench activity - Stinks but great for the kids!

Guess the trench stench activity – Stinks but great for the kids!

Half Term events for The Big Draw run from Saturday 26 October – SUnday 3rd November.
Admission to the IWM is free – Donations are welcome. Tickets to the Air Shard are an amazing £1.60 (80 pence for concessions).
Opening times 10am-5pm.

For more information visit
Any Big Draw sketches can be shared on the IWM’s Facebook page here