A Strong Coffee

Friday, 21 November 2014

Rudolph Cake Pops

Rudolph Cake Pops

Now I have got the hang of making cake pops, I just keep making them. The boys love them and I love making them. These little reindeer are made using my mint chocolate cake pop recipe. Instead of using dark chocolate to cover the cake pops I used a milk chocolate cake covering.

I prepared the eyes out of icing and also used Cadbury's choclate pretzels and red smarties. I also used brown smarties as noses but they didn't look good as the Rudolph noses.

eyes, antlers and noses

Once I had dipped the pops into the milk chocolate I immediately stuck on the red nose and the antlers. I then added the eyes, sticking them on with edible glue. I might just have to make one for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Expecting a boy? 10 Things you need to know.

baby boy

If you are new to this blog, I'm Louise and I am a Mum to 3 young boys and wife to one large one. I had no previous ideas on boys. I had one sister and whilst we weren't perfect, I for one was a happy to sit down for an afternoon colouring in. Having not one but three boys has been a shock to my system. I won't lie, it is exhausting. Here is my list of 10 things you need to know if you are expecting a boy. 

1. From the moment that you have introduced the world to your bundle of blue joy, family and friends will be asking you when you will be trying for a girl. I'm not sure why it is considered that everyone wants a girl, but it is. If you have 2 boys it is naturally assumed you'll have a third as you will be trying for a girl. If God forbid you are blessed with 3 little men, you will be greeted with a head tilt and comments of hopefully someone else in the family can produce a prized girl. 

2. Boys run everywhere. They seem unable to walk, just run. We don't walk to school we run there. With constant screams of, "stay to the other side of the pavement, don't push each other and look out for cars!" coming from me. It is a relief to drop them off to school each day in one piece. Boys need a good run around every day and I have been known to send the boys out into the garden and run in circles to help them work off some of their excess energy. 

3. Buy shares in superglue. My boys are good with their toys and not destructive with them yet still they manage to break things left right and centre. Superglue is a mum of boys best friend. Unfortunately it doesn't work on worms. 

4. Boys are messy. They can trash a playroom in 10 seconds flat. Big man is able to go up to do his homework and 10 minutes later his room is covered in ripped up pieces of paper and pencil sharpenings. It is a soul destroying task cleaning their rooms as they never stay tidy for long. I have been know to take a photo of the tidy room, just so I can show my husband that I had done something with my day other than eat cake and drink coffee. You can bet that by 7pm when he walks through the door the house is trashed again. 

5. Sticks and stones are important. Just accept and don't question this. It may look like a rotten dirty twig that "is definitely not coming in the car" but it is much much more to the male species. I figure it must date back to caveman times when man started fires. Give up and lose the battle on allowing the sticks to come home in the car, but insist that the sticks must be left outside the house. You can easily tell the house where multiple boys reside as there will be what resembles a small bonfire sitting by the front door. The same also applies to stones. 

6. They don't feel the cold. I have had many an argument with big man in the freezing autumn mornings over wearing shorts to school. After much discontent he has changed for us to get to school and see at least 2 other class members wearing shorts. He argues over wearing a jumper most days and as far as I can tell the only use for a winter coat is to tread on on the car floor. Little man did not think that this was a bad clothing choice in the rain last week.

sandals in the rain
7. They say the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach and this starts from a very early age. My kids don't stop eating! From conversations with my Tesco delivery driver, this is only going to get worse. The times big man has asked when is tea after he's just eaten it are occurring more and more. Apparently a sandwich is now seen as a snack item. 

8. Boys are competitive. All the time. From the race to school in the morning to the questioning about "who is top of your good boy list Mummy?" on a daily basis. A mum of boys has to learn how to use this to her advantage.

9. They have an early fascination with their bits. From very early days, the moment you remove their nappy, they will reach down to check everything is there. From what I can gather this obsession will never stop.

10. They give the best hugs. So enjoy your bundle of blue joy. They may be muddy and messy but they are lots of fun. I have 3 and I wouldn't swop them for the world.

mum of 3 boys

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Snowflake Cupcakes with Docrafts

snowflake Cupcakes

Recently I received a Little Venice Cake Company Cupcake Starter Kit to Review. If you enjoy making cupcakes then I can highly recommend this kit. It retails at £9.99 and contains 6 stainless steel nozzles and disposable piping bags.

Little Venice cake company Starter Kit

To demonstrate the shapes they can make, I did what any mum of children would do and filled them with Play Doh.

piping nozzles

If you are looking at icing cupcakes on the internet, you tube videos and recipes will often tell you which type of nozzle to use. I decided that I would have a go at two tone frosting for my snowflake cupcakes and used the LVCC 2 nozzle.

To make the snowflake cupcakes you will need:

White and blue icing prepared with CMC
A snowflake plunger cutter
Betty Crockers vanilla frosting
Blue colouring (ideally paste but I used liquid.)
Little Venice Cake Company nozzle 2 and disposable piping bag
Little Venice Cake Company Elegant Cupcake Kit
Silver sugar balls

I started by preparing the white and blue icing with CMC and leaving overnight. I then used a small snowflake plunger to make white and blue snowflakes.

snowflakes made from icing

I cooked my cupcakes using a 4oz sugar, 4oz self raising flour, 4oz caster sugar and 2 eggs. I baked them at 150 degrees C and used the elegant cupcake cases.

To decorate the cakes I chose the LVCC 2 nozzle from the cupcake starter kit. I cut the end off the disposable piping bag and pushed the nozzle in place. I then make up a small amount of blue frosting using blue colouring and Betty Crockers vanilla frosting. I then placed this in the piping bag and smoothed it over the edges of the bag.

two tone icing

I then placed the bag into a pint glass and opened the bag up. In the middle I added the white frosting.

two tone icing

I then used this to decorate the cupcakes, giving a two tone effect.

two tone icing cupcakes

I finished the cupcakes off by adding the snowflakes and silver sugar balls.

snowflake cupcakes

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I was given the cupcake starter kit for the purpose of this review but the opinions here are my own.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Cadbury World Review

Cadbury World

Last weekend, little man's Birthday celebrations continued with a trip to Cadbury World. I had read mixed reviews about the place, but my friend had said it was worth the visit and it had the advantage of being half way between me and my parents so it seemed like a good spot to meet up.

You have to book a time slot to go through the exhibition so I called up on the Monday and chose the 12.40 slot. The girl on the telephone had advised that we could do the 4D Cinema and Bournville experience once we had picked up our tickets so it didn't matter if we arrived early.

We arrived at 11 and went to the 4D cinema. This was really good. You entered the cinema by taking a shaking lift (a bit charlie and the chocolate factory style) with Mr Cadbury's Parrot coming to say hi in the lift ceiling, We then went into a holding area where we played some conveyor belt memory games before heading to the cinema. Inside we put on our 4D glasses and took a chocolaty roller coaster ride. It was different to other 4D cinemas we have been to and I liked it.

cadbury world 4D cinema

There is also a children's playground in this area, which would have been good but it was shut due to the rain.

We then went and had lunch in the cafe. It was nice food and reasonably priced which was good.

At 12.40 we went through to the exhibition. The children had scratch cards asking questions in attempt to keep them interested. Little man was not up for this part at all and in a lot of the areas I felt that the speaking parts were too quiet for you to actually hear.

You then got to walk through the factory, which isn't amazingly exciting. The Cadabra was the weirdest ride I have ever been on. Timings meant that we had to queue for 30 minutes to get on this. You sit in cars of 4 people which then take you on a ride round a world full of cocoa beans. It is bizarre and only really suited for small children.

We then went down to the chocolate decorating area. Here we all got a pot of melted chocolate which was extremely sweet even for me.

We then headed off to watch the Sooty show. Cadbury World have a number of events on at weekends and holiday times and the Sooty Show was their event for this weekend. Middle man in particular liked this. Who can't find it funny when Sweep puts on Gangnam Style!?!

We then went through to the Bournville experience which was less of experience and more of a room with some old stuff in.

After having read negative reviews on Cadbury World, I can see where they are coming from. I think that the opening of the 4D Cinema has made a difference and it is now heading in the right direction. We had a lovely time, and I would recommend you to go, but only on a weekend where there is a show that would suit your children. It is not too expensive, but it isnt cheap either, so for us, the addition of the Sooty show made it more worthwhile.

We won tickets to Cadbury World and my parents purchased theirs. I haven't been asked to review it, but thought it may be helpful to some of my readers.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hot Water Bottle Shop Review and Giveaway

polar bear microwave warmer

This week we have welcomed this rather gorgeous Polar bear into the house. He comes from Hot Water Bottle Shop and is a microwaveable warmer. As my boys are small I worry about traditional hotwater bottles incase they play with the opening and scold themselves. This bear, however, just pops in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then gives lovely warm cuddles. He also has a lavender scent which is lovely. If you wanted to use him as a cold pack he can also be put in the freezer (inside a plastic bag.) He is available for £13.99 plus postage and packing. I think he would make a lovely Christmas gift.

microwaveable animal

There are a whole range of microwaveable animals as well as traditional hot water bottles over at Hot Water Bottle Shop. Big man has enjoyed having a warming cuddle with the bear at night.

cuddling a polar bear warmer

The lovely people at Hot Water Bottle Shop have kindly offered one of my readers the chance to win an item up to the value of £15 from their website. UK entrants only. Please complete the rafflecopter below to enter. Good Luck!

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- See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/item-value-%C2%A315-hot-water-bottle-shop#sthash.4QWYJrcJ.dpuf

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Beanies Coffee Review and Giveaway

beanies coffee

I have to confess that I am more of a ground coffee kind of girl, than an instant one. My Dad says I am a coffee snob. However, when Beanies asked me if I wanted to try their new flavours of coffee, I thought I would give them a go. I particularly liked the sound of the Irish cream. Both of the flavours smell beautiful, but it is the Irish Cream one that gets my vote. The flavour isn't too strong but in my opinion adds to the taste of an instant coffee. I think that both of these flavours have a lovely wintry feel to them and it is nice to try something different for a change.

Beanies have also kindly offered one of my readers a set of these coffees to try themselves. Just complete the rafflecopter below. Good Luck!

beanies coffee

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Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/beanies-coffee-0#sthash.85OXY2nk.dpuf

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cherry Tree Farm Challenge

cherry tree farm products

Cherry Tree Farm have challenged bloggers to make seven meals in seven minutes using their new range. I am always up for a challenge so was ready to give it a go. Their products can be purchased in the Co-op and I was particularly keen on the roast chicken and chicken tikka chunks as they were nice thick pieces of chicken. So here are my seven meals:

cheese and turkey ham quesidila

This is a quick and tasty meal that the kids love. It is also great if you have some left over wraps from a fajita night. All you need is some tortillas, grated cheese and Cherry Tree Farm Turkey Ham. Place one tortilla in a frying pan with a little oil. Sprinkle cheese and place the ham on top. Then add another tortilla. After a minute or so, flip the tortilla's over and brown on the other side.
chicken tikka naan

This is a lovely lunch that can be had in a couple of minutes. All you need is a mini naan, lettuce, tomato, rathia and Cherry Tree Tikka Chicken Chunks. Warm the naan bread either by putting it in the oven for a couple of minutes. Spread rathia on top and then add the lettuce, chopped tomatoes and 2 of the chicken tikka chunks.

I like to call this a croque monsieur style toasted sandwich (aplogies to France.) Start by putting 2 pieces of bread under the grill. Turn one side over (toasted side down) and spread cream cheese on this side. Then add a slice of Cherry Tree Farm Hickory smoked Turkey. Place the last piece of bread on top, spread the top side with cream cheese and add grated cheese. Grill until the cheese has melted.

This is a tasty meal that my boys enjoy. Start by frying a tin of new potatoes and chopped red onion for a few minutes in a frying pan. Add chopped Cherry Tree Farm Roast Chicken and a cup full of frozen peas. Whisk 4 eggs and add these to the frying pan. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding grated chesse and popping the frittata under the grill for a couple more minutes until the cheese has melted.
cheese and turkey wraps

ingredients for wraps
Take one tortilla wrap, spread with cream cheese and top with Cherry Tree Farm Roast turkey. Fold the wrap and cut into pin wheels. Serve with crudites and houmous.

Super quick chicken stir fry

ingredients chicken stir fry
This chicken stir fry is super quick for when you need lunch in a hurry. Place stir fry vegetables in a wok with a little oil. Steam the rice noodles as per packet instructions in the microwave for a 3 minutes.Add a packet of Cherry Tree Farm Roast Chicken Chunks to the stir fry vegetables and heat through. Add the stir fry sauce for another minute before serving.

brunch muffin

ingredients brunch muffin
This dish makes a lovely brunch or light lunch. In a pan of boiling water, place some frozen spinach. Put half an English muffin under the grill. Boil a pan of water and poach an egg in it.
Butter the grilled muffin, add a slice of Cherry Tree Farm "American Fried" Chicken. Then on top of this add the spinach and poached egg.

So here are my seven meal ideas all of which that can be prepared in seven minutes or less. Which one do you like the sound of best?