Mellow Mummy: May 2014 : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Addis Sit and Store Review

I seem to spend my entire life removing toys from the floor where I want to walk. Storage is an issue in our house. Not necessarily for lack of space, but more for the fact that I'm unwilling to invest in expensive furniture until I'm 100% certain of what I want a room to look like in the long run. This is why the Addis Sit and Store is perfect for us - it is a low cost storage solution that can serve our toy-storage needs well in the near term until I make up my mind about what decor the house needs in the future!

Addis sent us one of their blue Sit and Store storage bins. In total it is about 40cm diameter and about 43cm tall - enough to hold all the Barbies and My Little Ponies that I usually stand on every morning. At the end of the day I can scoop up all the toy debris and place it into the storage bucket and then, as a bonus, I have somewhere to sit when I read the girls their bedtime story. Genius.

Actually, the integrated seat is really the thing that makes this for me. We got rid of the rocking chair in the nursery a long time ago (it was taking up too much space) and since then we have been lying on beanbags or just sitting down on the bedroom floor when it gets to the girls bedtime. I like the Sit & Store because I now have somewhere to perch without feeling that we have taken up valuable floor space with a dedicated stool.

The lid of the bucket has a shaped top designed to accommodate big and little bottoms alike! It is perfectly capable of taking my weight but Lara loves to sit on it too!  The Sit & Store would also make quite a good laundry basket.

This Addis Sit & Store currently costs between £13 and £15 and is available in both blue and red.


Monday 26 May 2014

Disney Sleeping Beauty DVD Review and Activity Sheets

Next week, Disney's classic movie, Sleeping Beauty will be released on Blu-Ray, Digital Download and DVD with a whole host of musical and bonus features. I have wanted to introduce Lara to the joys of this classic movie for a long time so it was great to get a chance to preview the DVD - Lara has known of princess Aurora for a long time but until now she didn't know her magical story.

Lara watched with wonder and wide open eyes through the entire movie and, surprisingly, she wasn't scared by the evil sorceress, Maleficent.  Did you know that later this month a new film, Maleficent is released starring Angelina Jolie?

Disney's Sleeping Beauty was originally released in 1959.  The style of the movie is very different to the likes of Frozen or Tangled but the story remains a classic and one which I absolutely love.  Princess Aurora is under the watchful eye of three funny little fairies who are doing everything that they can to avoid a curse which has been placed on the princess to take place on her 16th birthday.  Sadly, the curse comes true but the fairies have a plan which means that she can be woken by a kiss from her one true love.

One of the most memorable parts of the movie is the score - particularly the song "I know you" which is a track that has stuck in my head ever since I was a child.  Lara smiled a lot when she saw the princess singing it - I think she recognised it from me having sung it to her!

To celebrate the launch of the Disney Sleeping Beauty release, I have these three fun Princess Aurora activity sheets for you to download - they'd make great rainy day half-term activities.  To print one, just click on the text link below each image to open it full-sized in a new window and you're ready to print.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Playtoes Pram Shoes Review and Competition Winner

Yesterday my tiny little niece took her first ever flight.  11 hours.  Ug.  Thankfully, she had a pair of these very fun, bright pram shoes by Playtoes to keep her entertained on the flight.

Playtoes asked us to be some of the first to try out these wonderful fun shoes and I volunteered by 5 month old niece to be a tester.  The Playtoes butterfly shoes arrived in a very groovy presentation pack and made a wonderful gift.

Playtoes are currently available in either a blue bumblee design or these pink butterfly design shoes.  The shoes themselves are a very soft pram shoe designed for pre-walkers from 3 months upwards to keep feet warm and protected when you are out and about.  But Playtoes are so much more than just shoes...

The shoes are designed to stimulate your baby's senses and at 5 months old, my niece is just at the age when she will discover her feet.  This is a time for exploring sounds and textures.  The Playtoes shoes have lots of different textures such as soft, leathery, crinkly, smooth. The shoes have rattly bits and crinkly scrunchy bits.  The butterflies are attached with velcro and are designed to encourage your baby to pull them and tweak them as they discover their feet.  Reaching down and exploring those feet is great exercise for small muscles that are just starting to learn to work hard!

I love the attention to detail - especially the cute embroidery at the back of the heel.  And I think the shiny toes and high-contrast black and white soles are both strokes of genius which I know will attract a baby's attention.  And it is nice to know that, with all the excitement going on outside the shoes, that the inside hasn't been neglected - the lining is a really soft cotton.  I really hope that the Playtoes pram shoes provide enough entertainment during that long, long flight!

Playtoes cost £22 and are available direct or through amazon.

A couple of weeks ago I ran a competition to win your own pair of Playtoes pram shoes - the winner was Catherine Miller.  You can keep uptodate with Playtoes on the Playtoes Facebook Page or follow Playtoes on Twitter .

Saturday 24 May 2014

Natural and Organic Lipsticks from Alva and Inika

This month I've been sampling some of the natural and organic lipsticks and lip gloss products from MyPure who sent me a couple of their top brands to try out.  I so rarely buy make-up these days that I can afford to splash out when I do and here's a tip - in my experience, natural make-up products are worth every penny you spend on them.

If I am putting a product on my eyes or lips it is really important to me to know that they contain no nasties and are going to be kind to my skin (with age, my skin gets more sensitive every month).  This Alva Coleur natural and organic liquid lip gloss is made almost solely from flower or plant-derived ingredients.

Alva natural and organic lip gloss
Alva Natural and Organic Lip Gloss
The colour is described as Indian Red and it certainly does its name proud (although it looks totally different to the shade sample on the MyPure website).  It is a stunning, rich red that goes on smoothly and consistently - unlike many lipglosses, it didn't feel sticky at all.  I liked the applicator as it was soft against my lips.

The Alva organic lip gloss was deep enough in colour, and thick enough in texture that I think you could wear it as a lipstick for full colour coverage.  I found that within a few hours, the colour bled so I will use a lip pencil with it in the future.

Also in my MyPure parcel this month was this beautiful Naked Ambition Inika lipstick which I think could become my new everyday shade (although, once again, the colour looks absolutely nothing like the shade sample on the website!).

Inika natural lipstick
Inika Natural and Vegan Lipstick
Inika lipsticks are suitable for vegans (something that I am told is very unusual) because they are made from plant-based oils such as shea butter and jojoba oil instead of animal-derived oils.  This lipstick is paraben-free, GM-free and also free from preservatives and fragrances.

I absolutely love this natural colour and I'm enjoying using the Inika lipstick.  I found it quite a hard texture to start with and it took a good few uses to soften the tip enough to apply the lipstick easily.  Now though, it is a lot easier and it glides on well but I do find the colour a bit inconsistent on my lips if I apply it directly - I've had more success with a lip brush where I feel a bit more in control of the level of coverage.  I think that it just me though; I always carry a lip brush in my make-up bag.

This Inika lipstick costs just over £15 and is available in 8 different shades.  Both the Alva lip gloss and Inika Lipstick are available from MyPure.  You can follow MyPure natural beauty on Facebook.  Disclosure: I was sent these two products for review but all thoughts are my own.

STOP PRESS -You'll be pleased to know that Mypure are running a special bank holiday sale with 10% off everything for today and tomorrow so get to it!

Friday 23 May 2014

Fairy tales in the forest...

May is National Share A Story Month and to help get the nation's creative juices flowing, Forest Holidays enlisted the help of Jules Miller, author of Ellie and the Toothfairy, to offer some tips on how to encourage your children to learn the art of storytelling.  

Lara loves to have a story read to her just before bedtime (and these days she also likes to read them to us as well) and in fact, just this week Forest Holidays sent us some fairy tale books so I have been reading Ellie and the Toothfairy together with Lara taking a turn to read a page before letting me take over for the next page.  However many books your child enjoys, the creativity and imagination needed to write your own stories is something that doesn't necessarily come naturally and Jules' tips are good ways of trying to offer your children opportunities to explore their creative side.

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev /
Forest Holidays and Jules Miller quite rightly point out that the outdoor world is a great source of inspiration.  We have been known to make stories up about the things that we see when we are out for a walk and a recent trip to The Vyne in Hampshire saw the girls exploring woodland dens looking for a princesses' dragon :-)

We used one of Jules Miller's tips to create our own fairy tale story together.  Jules recommends trying to create a whole story with a beginning, middle and an end all in 50 words or less.

One evening, instead of reading Lara a bedtime story, we decided to make our own fairy tale in the same way that we normally read - by taking turns. Lara and I each took it in turn to say a word and the story just sort of evolved as we spoke.  There were lots of giggles and in the end I was very impressed with the result so I wrote it down in her notebook so that we could remember it and re-live the smiles on another day.

So here is our Forest Holidays fairy tale - a joint effort!

Once upon a time there was a lovely princess called Ellen.  
She lived in a castle at the top of a hill.  
When Ellen looked from her window she saw a hot air balloon.  
The King said they should take a balloon ride so they visited a magical fairy kingdom.

Image courtesy of digital art /

Thursday 22 May 2014

Yellow Moon Crafts

Yellow Moon sent us a bumper pack of kids creative craft materials to review.

This weekend I was rummaging through the box of craft materials and had a brain wave.  There was a small bag of around 200 craft shells (£2.99) which I think were intended for creating pictures or ornaments but it dawned on me that the girls could get just as creative with them in the garden as they could do indoors.  I added the shells to their sandpit and they didn't even need prompting to start creating shapes and creations.  Holly liked piling them up to make "sandcastles" and Lara enjoyed trying to spell out words by placing the small shells in rows on the sand.  It was great fun and I'm so glad I did it.  Now there are little shells to hunt for every time they play in the sandpit - a mini treasure hunt.

On a colder days we like to spend our time together - just us girls - in the front room making crafty creations.  Both Holly and Lara have loved this simple pack of Fruit and Vegetable card cut outs (£2.45) which can be decorated in any way you like.  Lara has concentrated very hard on colouring them in in the "correct" colours and with the "correct" designs using some chunky Giotto Turbo Giant Fibre Tip Pens (£3.99) which come in 12 colours and can quickly fill up the vegetable shapes.

But of all the craft activities we do, Lara most enjoys "constructing" things.  These brightly coloured butterfly jewel magnets come in a set of 4 and are made from foam with googly eyes and stick on jewels.  Each pack contains everything you need to create a butterfly magnet, including instructions and sticky pieces.  Holly made one too (with a bit of help from me!) and loves seeing her own crafty creation every time we pass the fridge door!

There are LOADS of great creative craft supplies at Yellow Moon as wells as party bag fillers and fun treats.  And don't forget that your school or group can earn cashback on all of your purchases.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Peppa Pig Ice Cream

Peppa Pig Ice Cream

What more could a little girl like Holly long for than a Peppa Pig Ice Cream?  These fun Peppa Pig Ice Cream lollies are sized for little hands and they are Holly's favourite summery snack right now.  They are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and, in the interested of research, I have tried one out myself... it was really very yummy strawberry ice cream.

Eating Peppa Pig Ice Cream

Peppa Pig Ice Cream Lollies are available with 6 per pack at £1.99 from ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op.

Also in the range is a frozen Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles chocolate cake but despite my best efforts, I haven't been able to track one down to try out.  They are small 4-6 child serving cakes for £1.99 and would have made a perfect addition to Holly's birthday party but I think people must be snapping them up before I get to the supermarket!

Monday 19 May 2014

Snazaroo Face Paints

It has taken about three years to get Lara to pluck up the courage to get her face painted!  For some reason, Lara has always found the idea terrifying and yet, this weekend, in the sunshine, Lara sat patiently yet excitedly for me to create this colourful butterfly design using a set of professional-quality face and body paints that we were sent by Snazaroo.

Snazaroo sent us an ultimate party pack for Holly's birthday earlier in the month.  It includes a really good range of face paint colours, a couple of small paintbrushes, a few different sizes of sponge and some sparkly glitter gels as well as a little dimple into which you can place some water.  The kit should allow for you to paint upto 65 faces!

I thought this set was a brilliant addition to any kids birthday party (although Holly was too busy stuffing her face full of strawberries and sausage rolls to get involved) and we have all been back to use the paints, sponges and gels since.  And I say all... Holly and Lara very much enjoy painting their own faces by using a mirror and helping themselves to the paint.  Holly has also very much embraced the idea of body painting and yesterday she even painted my arms... with streaks of black and red, I looked like something out of a zombie movie!

Snazaroo also sell lots of individual paints and accessories.  I really like the large 18 or 30ml single-colour packs as I can hide these away from the girls and use them myself; a single colour is easier to keep clean and allows you to really get the brush in and get it well covered with paint.

Lara, being a 5 year old girl, loves all things sparkly and specifically requested some glitter gel to be dotted around her butterfly design.

Now that I've popped my face-painting cherry, I'm on the lookout for excuses to try and learn a few techniques and styles.  Pinterest is my friend here!  I'd love to learn a few classics and to practice floral designs too as I think this would make me a favourite-mummy at the girl's birthday parties.  I've ordered myself a set of different shapes of Snazaroo paint brushes to get myself started.  Right now, we don't need excuses to paint so this butterfly design was a celebration of the sunshine.

Friday 16 May 2014

Childrens Book Review :: Bunny Loves to Learn

Last week when went away for a couple of nights, I took Bunny Loves to Learn, by Peter Bently, with us to read at bedtime - it is a picture book about a class of animals who are tasked with choosing a dressing up outfit from the box and then performing some research about the costume, making something that represents the time in history that the costume comes from and then presenting back their project to the class.

Buster bunny chooses an Egyptian costume and struggles to come up with any ideas.  He leaves it to the last minute but in the end the class are REALLY impressed by his presentation at the end of the story because he comes up with a great idea.

As an adult, I wasn't convinced that a story about learning in the classroom would be that thrilling but in fact, for Lara, who is in reception, there is a kind of fascination with school and she is particularly interested in the fact that school is something that happens to others, not just her!  Lara liked the idea of the project as well and you never know, she might attempt something similar herself having been inspired by the story.

We all likes the illustrations by Emma Foster and Deborah Melmon which all feature fun animals.  The pictures are an interesting mix of hand-drawn elements as well as photo images of real-life objects such as books, computers and accessories.  Lara and Holly both enjoyed looking through the pictures to see which the real objects were.

The Bunny Loves range is available in paperback and also available as a Read-Along eBook and is available on iBooks, NOOK and Kobo.  Find out more through the paragon books social channels on twitter and facebook.

Thursday 15 May 2014

5 tips to achieving a radiant look through the spring showers

Spring showers can be more than an inconvenience – they can also affect your skin. It can sometimes be tricky to maintain a healthy, glowing complexion in the face of rain, wind and other unpredictable weather. Here are five top tips to achieving and maintaining a radiant appearance throughout these changeable months.

Image courtesy of graur codrin /

1. Go easy on the make-up
Showery spring days with high humidity are not necessarily the best time to be layering on skincare products and make-up. Take a leaf out of the experts’ books and avoid heavy moisturisers and foundation, opting instead for light formulations and water-resistant bronzers for a natural glow that won’t smudge or run. While lip gloss is normally a good bet in better weather conditions, it can become a magnet for wind-blown hair to stick to – try a lip stain instead.

2. Waterproof products are your friends
It’s not just bronzer – many products now come in waterproof formulations. These really are worth it if you’re in with any chance of getting caught in a spring shower, as smudged make-up is never a good look. What’s more, improvements in cosmetic formulation now mean that waterproof products are better than ever, with smooth, even textures, so there’s no excuse for not investing in some essential items to see you through those rainy days. Waterproof mascara is essential and, as an added benefit, it also maintains your curl for longer.

3. Go for gold
Get into the holiday spirit early this year. It may seem premature, but spring is actually the perfect time to get that golden glow with the best fake tan products. Spring clean and rejuvenate your skin with an exfoliating scrub to get rid of dead skin cells, leaving it polished and ready to face whatever the weather throws at it. Remember to remove hair at least a day before tanning too, to give the skin time to calm down afterwards. Applying the tan in the evening gives it time to develop overnight and you won’t have to worry about it streaking if you get caught in the rain straight afterwards. While you should never apply lotion before a tan, it’s important to apply it afterwards to keep the colour going and ensure it is evenly maintained.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto /

4. Keep your colour pure and simple
Spring style is all about keeping things fresh and simple, so opt for neutral and refined shades that will complement your newly bronzed look. Go for a long-lasting eyeshadow in a single shade for colour that will see you through the day rather than complicating things with a variety of shades.

5. Avoid shine and streaking

Whether for eyeshadow or cheek colour, cream gels are preferable in humid weather. Choose an oil-free gel formulation for the cheeks to keep shine down and avoid powder which can clump together and streak when wet, with potentially disastrous results. Look out for light moisturisers specifically designed to combat shine, a particular risk when it’s rainy and humid, which can be applied first thing or throughout the day as a touch-up.

Disclosure: This is a guest post

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Chilling Out and Sleeping Better?

Over the past few weeks I have been reviewing a couple of products that are designed to help aid sleep.  I don't really consider myself to be a sleep-deprived Mum but I think I do suffer a little from stress - mostly work-related!  Settling down to sleep at night can be a long process for me; it starts with a bit of chill-out time after putting the girls to bed (usually my blogging time!), a little TV and then up to bed for a bit of browsing on Facebook and email before trying to settle down.

These sleep ideas were inspired by the tips for a good nights sleep from the Silentnight Sleep Clinic.  The first product I tried out to try and make the process a little easier is the Tempur Pedic Sleep Mask which is a luxury sleep mask.  It is incredibly soft and has Tempur memory fabric which applies a gentle pressure on the face below the eyes and adapts to the shape of your face.  For me, the most amazing thing was the black-out effect of the sleep mask - it was properly, seriously blacked out!

I tried the sleep mask for a few nights but didn't really get on with it; I felt self-conscious in the total darkness and was unused to having the feeling of something resting against my eyes so instead of helping me to zone out at bedtime, it actually made me restless.  However, I do intend to take the sleep mask with me later this month when I have to fly long-haul overnight to the USA and stay in a hotel as I think it will help to filter out light and distractions when travelling.

Now the next sleep remedy I tried is a very interesting one - a bottle of Magnesium oil!  This is a special magnesium oil which has added essential oils designed to help you calm down before bed.  You spray it on all over your body about half an hour before going to bed and the magnesium is intended to absorb in through your skin which can help reduce restlessness and muscle cramps (something I do suffer from a lot during the night).

I was a bit worried about trying the magnesium oil because I have a skin allergy to mineral oils... but I gave it a try anyway.  On the first use the oil made my skin itch and tingle like NOTHING ON EARTH.  I figured it was the skin allergy so I did a little bit of internet searching to find out why I might have experienced a reaction and discovered something very interesting... magnesium oil can cause tingling in the case where you have a deficiency. Lots of the other symptoms that I read about also suggested I might be experiencing magnesium deficiency.  So, I persevered with the oil, trying it each night and within three nights the tingling had gone altogether.  Woop!

So, did it help me sleep?  Well.. no, not really!  The feeling of the magnesium oil, even when it wasn't itchy, felt a bit funny if I went to sleep with the oil still on my skin (I felt a bit sticky and salty!) and if I chose to wash it off before going to bed then I found that I woke myself up and felt wide awake an invigorated!  It was a lose, lose situation.

So, I haven't really yet found a solution to help me chill out more quickly in the evenings.  I think I may resort to my trusty cup of tea!


Monday 12 May 2014

Family Fun in Blackpool at The Cliffs Hotel

This weekend we spent a very fun (yet blustery) weekend in Blackpool - home of long sandy beaches, donkeys and more then their fair share of piers!  We were invited to try out the family-friendliness of The Cliffs Hotel which is part of the Choice Hotels selection.

The Cliffs Hotel is a large, family-friendly hotel to the north of the town centre and it is ideally located directly on the seafront on the Queens Promenade.  The hotel features an on-site leisure club with a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and fitness room as well as a kids club for children over 4 years old.  There are also beauty treatment rooms - I really wish we had been staying for longer so that I could have tried them out!

The Cliffs Hotel Blackpool

We found the location of The Cliffs Hotel to be absolutely ideal, it was far enough away from the bustle and noise of the very centre of town to offer a little peace but with a taxi rank, a tram stop and a bus stop directly outside the hotel lobby, it was incredibly easy to get to all of the major attractions.  We paid £4.50 each for an adult day pass for the trams and buses and were able to hop on and off the trams all the way along the seafront from the north shore, to the south shore.

The hotel was well above our expectations in terms of comfort, quality and welcome.  We loved our time in the swimming pool and my girls were keen to join in with the kids activities on offer which included pizza-making!  But we had lots to do and see during the day so we didn't spend much of our day inside!  We took the tram down to the Pleasure Beach for a look around, strolled along the seafront to see the donkies on the beach, took some rides on the south pier, browsed the amusements on the central pier, visited the tower, had lunch at Coral Beach and then an ice cream!  There is more than enough to keep you occupied for several days in Blackpool and if you are staying for a while it would make sense to buy combined tickets for the big attractions to save money.

Our favourite part of The Cliffs Hotel was the food which was, on the whole, excellent.  We were allocated our own table in the large dining room that we returned to each day.  Breakfast was a brilliant buffet with hot food, cereals and plenty of fresh fruit and yoghurt.  Dinner took the format of a self-service starter (the choices were mind-blowing) followed by a choice of around three main courses, followed by a buffet-style dessert.  The children could choose from a dedicated kids menu or a smaller portion of any of the main dinner dishes - this suited both of our girls.  I thought the quality of the desserts on offer was particularly impressive.  I don't think I've ever been to a hotel buffet in the UK that was as comprehensive while still maintaining the quality of food.

Before dinner we enjoyed a drink in one of the hotel bars which had a great view over the sea; we found the bar to be large, comfy and very welcoming to families.  In the evening there was a good choice of entertainment at The Cliffs Hotel - this is not really our cup of tea so we chilled out in front of the TV and watched Eurovision with two very tired little girls.

We had a wonderful time in Blackpool at The Cliffs Hotel and I'm so glad that I managed to take the girls to visit one of the UK's classic seaside resorts - here are some of our highlights!

Choice Hotels have a number of hotels in Blackpool and the Lake District.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Introducing the Leapband

Myself, Holly and Lara are all very proud to have been asked to join the Leapfrog blogger panel for another year - Leapfrog learning toys feature in almost every day for us.  One of Holly's favourite toys is her Learn and Groove Music Player and I love the way that she gets up and bops around the living room to it.

This week Leapfrog have announced the release of a brand new activity toy for children of around 4 to 7 years old - the LeapBand.

The LeapBand activity tracker gets kids moving and having fun with 50 different activities and challenges, tracking a child’s physical movements so the more active a child is, the more points they earn with their virtual pet. As the child earns points through active play, they can unlock additional games, challenges, levels of play and virtual rewards for their on-screen pet.  With their very own virtual pal, children can play 10 preloaded active games and challenges with access to 40 additional free challenges. As they move and earn points, kids can unlock each of the additional eight pets and earn virtual toys for each of them as they stay engaged and learning with mini-games including Pet Boogie, Pet Chef and Pet Salon. Kids will have fun completing a variety of activities including “Walk like a crab,” “Spin like a helicopter” and “Pop like popcorn” no matter where they are. LeapBand activity challenges are designed to keep kids active by tapping into their own individual movements without any required equipment.  

I quite like the idea of the LeapBand.  In our tech-fueled family, tech can often be more of an appeal than outdoor play and while I don't feel like I need help to encourage the girls to get active, I can imagine that it will inspire them more to chose active play over sedentary play.

First descriptions of the LeapBand make it sound like there will be lots of additional activities and downloads for older children to really engage with the LeapBand.  We are looking forward to trying it out.

Monday 5 May 2014

A Bee Themed Birthday Party

This weekend we celebrated Holly's second birthday with a party for our family.  We were so pleased to be asked by Argos to explore their amazing range of birthday party supplies from the Argos Party Shop and were delighted to see that they had lots of bee-themed party accessories to choose from as well as lots of bright yellow and black party accessories.

Holly is a massive fan of Bees.  We bought her this cute little bee outfit because she loves buzzing around the house all of the time!

We decorated the house both inside and out with these fun yellow spotty set of decorations and black spotty set to match.  The sets are part of the Argos party range and feature paper cups, plates, balloons, loot bags, table cloth and bunting.

The most impressive part of our party kit was the bee themed party goodies. The girls and their guests loved these bee-themed paper cups and plates as well as the fun table decorations.  We adorned the inside of the house with hanging decorations too.

I made an array of party food (healthy and treats too!) and laid them out inside for everyone to help themselves.

But the most fun to be had was in the garden where there were lots of fun and games.  The children all had a go at bashing this Bee pinata who still had a smile on his face even at the end when his tummy gave way to lots of yummy treats.  Holly really went for it!

Holly had an amazing day and was totally shattered at the end of it.  Great days, great memories.  Thank you Argos!  We sent everyone home with a little party bag and a big piece of my very special Disney The Hive birthday cake.

Saturday 3 May 2014

The One With the Epic Disney's The Hive Birthday Cake

This week, my baby girl Holly turned two.  Every day, Holly brings a smile to my face (and probably introduces a grey hair or two) and I really wanted to make her a birthday cake that would put a smile on hers too.

Holly loves BEEs.  She is just a little bit obsessed with Disney's The Hive so I thought I would give a bee cake my best shot.  This is the result.

Disney The Hive Birthday Cake

The cake is a simple (huge) sponge filled with jam and butter cream, coated in marzipan and fondant.  All of the decorations are also made out of fondant.

Friday 2 May 2014

Banana Cupcakes - Funspiration Activities from Flora Buttery

Last weekend, as the weather was a bit rubbish, we were largely stuck indoors and so I downloaded the Funspiration Activity Guide from the Flora website which features 15 fun activities for kids which need no more than five things and which take less than 15 minutes to prepare.

banana cupcakes with Flora buttery

Activities in the guide include making your own lava lamp, hosting a catwalk and re-enacting your own silly version of the Olympic games.  We decided to make cupcakes - can't go wrong with a cupcake, can you?  We liked the look of these easy peasy banana cupcakes which are made with bananas, flour, caster sugar, egg and Flora Buttery.  For the icing, you can use whatever you fancy... we used a buttercream icing made with Flora Buttery and a really good vanilla extract and my goodness, it was the finest buttercream I've ever made.

This was the first time in several months where both Lara and Holly had joined each other in the kitchen for a bit of cookery and it was great to see the girls working together.  OK, they argue quite a bit but Lara loves being the big sister and showing Holly how to do things like measuring out the ingredients and reading the numbers on the kitchen scales.

The cake mix was phenomenally easy to make.  We used an ice cream scoop to put the mixture into the cake cases so we managed to avoid making as much mess as normal!

Once the cakes were cooked and cooled (I shall let you follow the recipe in the Flora Buttery Family Funspiration Activity Guide), Lara and Holly used a piping bag to squeeze buttercream onto each cake as a vehicle for sprinkles.. they sprinkled on sweet banana chips, soft gold balls and a little touch of popping candy for a bit of fun!

The cakes were awesomely soft, beautifully banana-y and, like I said, the buttercream icing was to die for.  We will certainly be making these banana cupcakes again.

Disclosure: Flora Buttery sent me the ingredients for our funspiration activity
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