The Crazy Kitchen: October 2011

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Monday, 31 October 2011

Proud of My Boy

10 year old Sam is a keen footballer and plays for a local team as well as attending local weekly coaching sessions with Stoke City. He is also a very big  fan of Coventry City, inherited from his Dad and both Uncles (my brother and also his Dad's brother). He has been a member of the Junior Sky Blues since the age of two and regularly attends games.


Recently he was asked if he would be interested in being a Mascot for the day, which of course he said yes to. The game took place on Saturday against Doncaster Rovers away. We arrived at 1pm and Sam and his Dad were shown around the ground and were introduced to the players in the dressing room - unfortunately it was only his Dad that was allowed to go in with him so myself and Hanna went to the bar for a pie and a pint - her the pie, me the pint.


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Just before kick-off the players walked out onto the pitch and there was my boy walking with them - I welled up and found myself shouting his name & waving  - until I realised that the Captain has the same name & I might be seen as being a mad middle aged football fan stalking a player in his 20's.


Moments later he was making his way towards us in the stand with a huge smile on his face.


I was so proud of him.


And then he was on The BBC Football League show later that evening -  he's the slightly shorter one in blue walking out next to the Captain Sammy Clingan.....and then standing in line & folding his arms.


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Day out with Jumbo Games

Since I started blogging earlier in the year I have been lucky enough to be invited to some great events. Unfortunately, due to many of them being in London, I've not always been able to attend, especially if it's on a school day.


However when Jumbo Games were in touch to ask if we wanted to join them for an afternoon of family activities in the School holidays I thought it would be a perfect chance to spend some quality time with Sam and Hanna, as Jack was going to go to Nanny's for a few days.


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The event was held at the Alexandra Palace in North London, a place I've never visited before and would be worth another visit just for the magnificent views over London. The Ice Skating rink was the setting for the first of the activities, accompanied by Ice Hockey player for the Coventry Blaze, Canadian born Russell Cowley, along with local ice hockey coaches.


After some coaxing Sam and Hanna took to the ice and soon got the hang of skating around the rink, Sam even donned the gear and had a go at hitting a few pucks. Russell and the coaches were really helpful with all the children (and adults) there. Considering Sam didn't actually want to do any skating he is now asking if he can go again.


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Eek - first time on the ice
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Helping hand from Russell

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Playing with the pro's

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Looking the part

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oops!

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and she's off

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a natural


After the skating everyone warmed up again over lunch, and we were given the opportunity to try out the new Jumbo games interactive iPad apps - iPawn. There are currently 4 games - Air Hockey, Snakes & Ladders, Game of Goose and Fishing. Each game comes with the playing pieces that are required to play the game and then the app is downloaded from iTunes to play on the iPad.


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interactive snakes & ladders

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the snakes really move


There was then a mini air hockey tournament where there was an iPad for the winner - unfortunately we didn't win.


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the tournament begins

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tough competition






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The games are great fun and introduces a whole new way to play board games in this hi-tec world.


The games are due to be released in November and Jumbo will be introducing more games in the future.


Jumbo make some great games suitable for all ages and I have reviewed a couple of them previously here and here.




We were invited to this event and the children were presented with goody bags - we were asked for nothing in return, however I wanted to share our brilliant day.

Mooskins Personalised Phone Covers

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Make an Entrance

If you're looking for something a little bit different this Christmas for that person who has everything, or want to give someone a gift that will make them smile then Make An Entrance could be what you're looking for.


They make personalised doormats in a variety of sizes and styles.


You can choose from pre-printed designs
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amusing phrases
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and traditional
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Or you can choose your own wording.


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Personalised doormats are available for £29.95 and you can add up to 3 lines of text (maximum 12 characters per line). The mat is made from high quality PVC backer coir matting with the design printed in 5cm high black lettering.


I was sent the above doormat for the purpose of this review (it doesn't have a dirty mark on, just a drip of rainwater)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Win a Donkey Adoption

Winner of the Donkey adoption (chosen by Rafflecopter's random prize picker) is @wouldliketobe

Christmas is coming and sometimes it's difficult to know what to buy. Kids today have everything, all the toys and gadgets they could wish for. If you have under £20 to spend on a present what could you buy for the child that has everything?


How about a Donkey adoption at Clovelly Donkey's....


For either £8 or £15 you will receive a one year adoption for the Donkey of your choice, along with an adoption certificate, photos, free donkey ride vouchers, notelets, a birthday card and newsletter.


You will also have the pleasure of knowing that your payment will go towards looking after the Donkey's.


I wrote here  about how great Clovelly Donkey's is and how much Hanna loves going to see her Donkey Charlie. I also wrote here  about our weekend that included a visit to see Charlie which unfortunately had to be cut short as Hanna was unwell.


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Hanna with Charlie


Sue & Bart who look after the Donkey's at Clovelly have agreed to give a full adoption (worth £15) away to one lucky reader.


All you need to do to enter is to follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form - tweet the giveway and leave a comment below letting me know which Donkey you would choose to adopt. You can also gain bonus entries.



Friday, 28 October 2011

Friday Funny

Driving up the Motorway on the way back from my parents house this week, with [almost] 11 year old Sam beside me we were stuck behind a dirty van in heavy, slow moving traffic. I'd noticed that there was the odd bit of writing in the grime on this van but hadn't taken too much notice, then Sam said 'there's a rude word written on the back of that van'


'oh' I said, just as I clocked the word 'W A N K' written in the dirt ,and Sam laughed knowingly.


A few minutes later


'we're still behind that van Mum' ........more laughter.


________________________________


Whilst searching the portable hard drive for a video for another post I came across this little video of Hanna from December 2006, she was 4 at the time and very much looks (and sounds) like Jack.


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I am linking this post up with Mummy Mummy Mum's Friday Funny.





Friday Funny

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Pumpkin Cake Pops

I had originally planned to make Pumpkin Cake pops the usual cake pop way, with leftover bits of sponge cake and buttercream. However I posted a recipe here for Chocolate Truffles made with Alpro Soya cream and as the recipe made quite a few I decided I would make some of them into Pumpkins.


So here is how to make Pumpkin Truffle Pops.


  • First make the truffles as per the recipe here.
  • Melt Silver Spoon Orange Buttons in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. I used a very small jug hooked over the edge of the pan.


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  • Dip one end of the lollipop stick into the melted orange buttons and into the truffle. This will act as a glue and prevent the truffle from spinning around.


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  • Put the truffles into the freezer for approximately 10 minutes.


  • Dip the truffles into the melted buttons to coat. As they have been in the freezer the orange coating will set quite quickly and not drip.


  • Decorate with pumpkin faces.


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Unfortunately the writing icing that I used went very runny after a while and all the Pumpkins looked like they had been crying!

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I am entering this post into Mummy Mishaps I love Cake Halloween Challenge - truffles are cakes right?

If you want to see some really beautiful examples of what they should look like head over to The Pink Whisk where Ruth will show you how an expert makes Pumpkin Cake Pops.

I Love Cake

Cooking With Your Toddler - Chocolate Truffles

This was going to be a Cooking With Your Toddler post but the Toddler has deserted me - he's gone on his holidays to Nanny's, for a well deserved rest. I was then going to do a 'Cooking With Your Toddler's Big Sister' post instead, but she got a better offer of DVD's and tea at a friends.

So in the end I made these Chocolate Truffles on my own.......but you could make them with your Toddler if you wish. It can get a bit messy but Toddler's like mess, especially edible mess.

You will need

200g 70% dark Chocolate
150g Alpro Soya Cream*

*You can use double cream but Alpro Soya cream is a healthier alternative and also suitable for those with dairy free diets.


  • Break the chocolate into small pieces into a microwaveable bowl.
  • Heat in 10-15 second bursts, stirring in between, until all the chocolate has melted.
  • Warm the cream in another bowl, or pan over a low heat.
  • Stir the cream into the chocolate & combine well.



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  • Allow mixture to cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Once it has cooled mould into small balls - you can use a spoon or your hands - it does get a bit messy with your hands.
  • Roll the balls in cocoa, chopped nuts, coconut or sprinkles - I used chocolate flakes.

As there are no preservatives in the truffles they should be eaten within a few days of making.

They would be great as Christmas presents, presented in a small box - just remember not to make them too soon and don't leave the present under the Christmas tree for days!

You can also add a dash of rum or brandy to the mixture before refrigerating (just don't give those ones to the kids!)

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Please come and look at other bloggers great recipes in the Linky below and feel free to add your own. The linky is ongoing.





I was provided with a pot of Alpro Cream to try the truffle recipe out.




Pink Lining Yummy Mummy Bag Giveaway

Winner of the Bag is Claire B - CONGRATULATIONS!

I have been given a gorgeous Pink Lining changing bag to give away to one Yummy Mummy or Yummy Mummy to be.


The bag retails at £75 and is of excellent quality and has many pockets and compartments for nappies, wipes, clothes and bottles, as well as mobile phone, purse and keys.

It comes with a padded water resistant changing mat and zipped wet bag for any nasties.


Perfect for a new Mum or Mum to be this Christmas.
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To be in with a chance of winning the Yummy Mummy Grey Doves Changing Bag you will need to do all of the following :



  • Follow @PinkLiningUK on Twitter
  • Tweet the following : I want to be a Yummy Mummy with @PinkLiningUK and @jessies_online http://bit.ly/vTRUrK
  • Leave one comment below to let me know you have done both of the above 


    You can also find the Pink Lining Facebook page here 



    If you don't want to miss out any any future competitions from The Crazy Kitchen please make sure you follow me on Facebook and Twitter or you could subscribe to my posts by email by entering your email address below :

    Enter your email address:


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    • Competition closes at 8pm on 25th November 2011.
    • One lucky winner will be chosen using Random.org
    • Maximum of 1 entry per person 
    • I will notify the winner once the competition has ended. If I don't receive a reply within 48 hours I reserve the right to draw another winner.
    • UK Entrants only.

    NOTE:  *** Click CTRL & C to copy the phrase, CTRL & V to paste  ***

    Wednesday, 26 October 2011

    Tea for Two

    In the Summer of 2000 I got married. To cut a long story short, and for various reasons, we tied the knot over the Anvil at Gretna Green with immediate family present. A few days later we continued the celebrations with more family over a meal at the gorgeous setting of Coombe Abbey Hotel


    When we were kids Coombe Abbey was a place where we went for picnics with friends and played in the playparks which housed huge slides and outdoor swimming pools, back in the day when the sun always shone during the Summer. It has changed a lot since those days, mainly being transformed into a hotel, the old playparks and pools being demolished and replaced with a smaller (and probably much safer) park.


    It was here that I took my Mum today, to celebrate her birthday with afternoon tea. 


    My voucher arrived from Buyagift in a presentation box with venue information which makes it perfect as a gift. 


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    I telephoned Coombe Abbey directly and made my reservation earlier in the week. The Hotel is set in gorgeous grounds which you are free to walk around before or after your afternoon tea. The Hotel itself is a magnificent place which was originally a 12th century Cistercian Abbey. It's full of little nooks & crannies with cosy seating arrangements and staircases that go off in all directions. The Garden Room Restaurant is a large bright and airy room and we were seated in a cosy tent come bird cage in the corner, which felt very private and would be perfect for a romantic meal. Even though we arrived 15 minutes before our booked time we were seated quickly and the menu was explained.


    We were offered a choice of tea or coffee and asked if we would prefer not to have any particular item on the menu. 

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    Within a few minutes the cake stand was delivered, filled with tasty sandwiches and cakes, including freshly baked scones.


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    The afternoon was really enjoyable and the food perfect, helped along by a lovely sunny afternoon. I wouldn't hesitate getting one of these for my Mum again as she really enjoyed it and would like to take my Dad next time. I think it's great value at £27 for two considering the quality of the food and the venue.



    I was provided with a voucher for Afternoon Tea for Two for the purpose of this review.

    Music As Therapy

    I have been tagged by The Boy and Me in a new Meme started by the MAD blog award winner Mammywoo entitled 'Music as Therapy'.  To be honest I don't tend to listen to my music of choice ( I can't even remember what it is) these days, the radio is on in the car on the school run but in the 2 minutes or so it takes to drive down the hill to school it's usually just Chris Moyles rabbling on about something or other. At home the husband puts the ipod on when he's doing the washing up but it's usually some old stuff and I have to tell him to turn it down as 'I can't hear myself think!' over the noise of the kids, or in his car it's either Adele or Noah & the Whale repeated over and over at Jack's request.

    The task is to pick
    3 beautiful songs.
    3 different bands.
    3 sets of lyrics that touch you in anyway you want to show.

    I will be honest, I found this difficult, they are definitely 3 different bands and the songs do touch me but I wouldn't say they are particularly beautiful songs - especially the last.....shoot me now!!


    Here goes :


    Boo Radleys - Wake up Boo 


    Wake up, it's a beautiful morning
    The sun shining for your eyes
    Wake up, it's so beautiful
    For what could be the very last time

    Twenty five, don't recall a time I felt this alive
    So wake up boo, there's so many things for us to do
    Its early so take your time, don't let me rush you please
    I know I was up all night, I can do anything, anything, anything



    Following a particularly crappy year I spent 10 weeks during 1995 in South Africa visiting my parents who were working there at the time (incidentally I first met my [now] husband there then but we didn't get together for another 4 years). I was enjoying single life and the freedom that redundancy from my job had brought me and it was also the Summer that I turned 25 so the lyrics of this song were particularly apt - it's a song that would always bring cheer to me if I was ever feeling down.



    Sugababes - About You Now


    Can we bring yesterday back around,
    'Cus I know how I feel about you now,
    I was dumb, I was wrong, I let you down,
    But I know how I feel about you now

    All that it takes one more chance,
    Don't let our last kiss be our last,
    Give me tonight and I'll show you


    It's not so much about the lyrics for this one, except the line 'Can we bring yesterday back around' - that line seems to get me right there when I listen to it. In November 2007 Sam celebrated his 7th Birthday tobogganing at the Snowdome in Tamworth. As the kids were too young to toboggan on their own the parents had to do it with them, it was brilliant. There were some great parents there that all had a good laugh and afterwards there was a disco for all the various parties. Each party child and their guests had to go onto the stage whilst their chosen song played and this was Sam's chosen song. Whenever I listen it brings back floods of happy memories of that day....but they are also tinged with sad memories as the Mum of one of Sam's friends couldn't make it as she had recently been given the news that her cancer had spread. I gave her a copy of this poor quality video that I'd taken on my phone and she was really grateful that she had been able to share the memories of that special day in the end.

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    (Sam is far right in the green top, Hanna is the smallest one, in a pink top & white trousers)


    Last but by no means least, a very cheesy one I'm afraid.

    Wizzard - I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day


    When the snowman brings the snow
    Well he just might like to know
    He's put a great big smile, on somebody's face
    If you jump into your bed
    Quickly cover up your head
    Don't you lock the doors
    You know that sweet Santa Claus in on the way

    Well I wish it could be Christmas, every day
    When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
    Oh, I wish it could be Christmas, every day
    Let the bells ring out for Christmas

    Now you have to admit that when you're at the work's Christmas Party and this one comes on you can't help feeling warm & gooey inside, you know I'm right - this song IS Christmas!



    Now for the hard part, tagging fellow bloggers that haven't been already tagged. Apologies if you have though :








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    Tuesday, 25 October 2011

    Fancy Birthday Cupcakes

    It's my Mum's birthday today and as I've been sent lots of wonderful cake decorations and icing to try our recently I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try them all out and make a variety of cupcakes.


    I had some help from 10 year old Sam and using my favourite cupcake recipe from the Primrose Bakery we made these cakes :


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    For the pigs we used Renshaws ready to roll pink icing, and silver balls for the eyes.


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    For the butterfly cakes we used Renshaws Vanilla Snip & Swirl icing and Silver Spoon Giant Snowies, with a sprinkling of edible glitter to give it a shimmer.


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    For the swirl cupcakes we used Renshaws Vanilla Snip & Swirl Icing and Silver Spoon blue and pink Shimmer Balls, again finished off with edible glitter.


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    For the pink cakes with stars we used Renshaws Raspberry Magic Melting Icing and Silver Spoon white chocolate stars.


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    The ready made icings are great and I wouldn't hesitate using them again. You can make great looking cakes so quickly with minimum effort and therefore are great to use with the kids. The snip and swirl icing however didn't give the pattern that I was expecting even though I snipped the bag on the correct lines but still looks very effective on the cakes.

    Recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 12-15)

    110g butter - softened
    225g caster sugar*
    2 large eggs
    150g SR flour
    125g Plain flour
    120ml milk

    *the recipe calls for 1tsp vanilla extract, however I use vanilla sugar so I don't feel the need to add extra vanilla.

    • Cream the butter & sugar
    • Gradually beat in the eggs
    • Combine the flours & add a third to the creamed mixture and then a third of the milk.
    • Repeat the above step until all flour & milk have been added.
    • Spoon into cupcake cases, filling 2/3 full
    • Bake in 180 degree (C) oven for 20-25 minutes

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    I was sent the items from Renshaw and Silver Spoon for the purpose of this review.

    Toyologist Toy Review - SESAME STREET COUNT n CRUNCH COOKIE MONSTER




    Sesame Street Count n Crunch Cookie Monster has been a big hit in this house since Toyologist Box 5 arrived.


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    His fur is lovely and soft and although he has a hard body his feet and arms are soft and flexible. There is a plastic backpack (non detachable) fixed to his back where the cookies are retrieved from once they have been 'eaten'. It can also be used to store the cookies when it's not being played with.


    Unfortunately Cookie Monster doesn't like sandwiches as they tend to get stuck in his throat!

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    There is a switch underneath to turn Cookie Monster on and off and a button on his foot to activate the voice, which is very easy for a little one to operate. The voice encourages you to feed cookies into Cookie Monster's mouth and count them in. When all 3 have been counted into his mouth he sings a song.

    Cookie Monster also likes being 'tickled' on his foot & repeated pressing causes him to laugh and say 'oh boy that tickles'.


    I love Jack loves Cookie Monster and as he can already count to twenty it isn't really going to be teaching him to count, however it is a very enjoyable toy but possibly with only limited play value in the longer term.  I was expecting more than 3 cookies to be included and I think if 5 or 10 were included it could be classed more as a learning toy.

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    As with most Sesame Street branded toys I think it's quite expensive for what it is at £29.99 but a great toy for Sesame Street fans, old & new.


    You can buy Count n Crunch Cookie Monster from Toys R Us online or in store.


    Recommended age : 18 months +


    Why not check out some of the other Toyologists Reviews and competitions on the new Toys R Us Toy Box Facebook application and find out more about all the Toyologists.

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