Thursday, 30 October 2014

Halloween Frankenstein and Pumpkin Marshmallow Pops

A while back Yolli sent me a selection of their range to try. Since it arrived I have been trying to think of something to make. I did make some cake pops in the style of a chicken but I was not impressed with them. I then saw some marshmallow Frankenstein pops on pinterest, I knew I had to make some and I knew just what products to use.
I only had white and milk chocolate melts so I had to improvise by colouring my white packet of melts after I had melted it. Next year when I make them again I will just buy the green and orange melts to make life a little easier. They were rather easy to make. I melted the melts over a pan of boiling water until they were the correct consistency then added the food colouring. I then stuck a marshmallow onto the white plastic lolly sticks and dunked them into the mixture ensuring they were fully coated. I sat them on baking paper to set, they set quite quickly so I was able to start to melt the milk chocolate for Frankenstein's hair. Once the mixture was ready I dipped him in and sat them aside in a tumbler till the hair was dried. I covered the pumpkin pops in the same way. Once they were fully dried I used royal icing to decorate them, I use royal icing as it sets quite quickly too.
Once they are all fully dry you can place them inside the little clear bags and seal with a silver twist tie, it is important that they are dry before putting them in the bag as they will spoil. They are then ready to be handed out to your trick or treaters or set aside as a treat for the kids. I had a cheeky nibble on one earlier, ok I ate the whole thing and I am please to report that they taste rather good. I think they are really cute and will look good next to the rest of the scary themed food. All I have to do now is refrain from eating them.

Did Asda send me a Trick or Treat?

Today I received a package from Asda, they sent me Bertie bones(that is the name I've given him). I think he is rather cute for a skeleton, he is cheeky too. He promptly stole one of the glow stick lollies that they had sent me. He is a felt skeleton and is a bargain at just £4. He is held together with split pins so his boney legs and arms all move. In his box he brought with him a bag of 8 glow stick lollies, a bag of his little mates, mini chocolate skeletons and a haunted house for them to all live in.

This year we bought our Halloween costumes from Asda. M and little T both had a trail run of their costumes at their school Halloween party. M looked amazing, we bought her the spooky white dress, it looked brilliant on and she looked rather scary, it was a bargain too at just £12.
Little T is Dracula this year, I put a white polo shirt underneath the top because the material is quite thin, it looked really good with it plus it was a tad warmer for him. Little lady picked her own costume this year, she insists on going to our party as a pink witch. She surprised me as I thought we were going to have an Elsa or Anna dress request for this Halloween. Big T went for a skeleton onesie over a costume, that way he can wear it more than once too. I saw some amazing costumes, I think I will have to throw a party for the adults one year and make everyone dress up.

They also sent me this haunted house gingerbread kit. We made a good attempt at it earlier today. The kids were really excited and couldn't wait to get stuck in. I had a bit of a problem with trying to get the icing to soften enough to use it but other than that it is a lovely kit. The kids were really proud of themselves once we completed it. I can't tell you what it taste like just yet as we have not tucked into it yet but is smells delicious.
What do you think, did we do well decorating the haunted house?

Halloween with Poundland

I love Halloween and every year we have a little party for the kids, each year I am on the hunt for different party ideas and of course I add to our ever growing stash of decorations. This year I have once again taken part in the Halloween challenge with Poundland.

Poundland sent me £20 to buy some of their range, I was a little late at getting to the shops this year as I have been snowed under with college but there was lots still available on the shelves. I stocked up on a range of goodies for all of the children that will come knocking. I picked up a black lipstick and nail varnish for just a £1 and bought some plates and horror bandages. I also went a tad crazy on the glow stick but I do have a good reason for that. I am going to use the glow sticks to put inside the balloons and I have created some toilet roll eyes, I will use the glow sticks inside them too. I will then plant them in the bushes around my garden.

I hope to scare a few kids, what do you think?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Decorating Tips for a Halloween Party

If you’re hosting a spook-tastic Halloween party this year, or just want something to delight the trick or treaters at your door, we’ve come up with some tips for decorating your home.  
There’s luckily something for all budgets too so don’t worry if you don’t want to spend a fortune; you can still make it look amazing regardless! 
Don’t be afraid to get thrifty and crafty 
If your budget is modest, don’t feel like you have to go out there and buy half the products in the Halloween section from the party stores. In fact, making your own decorations can be really interesting and surprisingly successful...and the best bit is, there are loads of easy things you can do if you don’t value your arty skills very highly! 
Get a bit creative and a massive white sheet and a bit of black paint soon becomes a spooky ghost – you can get fabric paints at George Weil for great prices too, and everyone tends to have a spare sheet lying around. There are loads of fab ideas here that are well worth checking out, and hunt around on sites like Pinterest for further inspiration, too.  
Look for supplies and decorations in different places 
Instead of sticking to the general party stores on the high street and online, it might be a good idea to look in different places for your decorations and supplies. This can be a good way to save on money but to also find unique stuff that’s a bit different to the norm. Places like craft stores are a good bet for higher quality stuff too. 
Think outside the box 
If you want something that will really amaze and impress, think outside the box of more generic idea and suggestions and look for something a little different. You’d be amazed at some of the genius ideas out there already so get hunting and you can soon get creating unusual and incredible creations.  
Incorporate the whole setting 
As well as decorating the indoors of where your party will take place and just decorating one or two rooms, why not really go for it and decorate the whole setting? From the path leading up to your home to your bathroom, there are loads of different ways you can incorporate the Halloween theme into your whole setting. This will get your guests talking until the next Halloween too as it will show how much effort you’ve put in! 
Get your family or the kids involved 
If you’re throwing a party as a family or as a household with your friends, get everyone involved. This is a great way to not only have a fab time all together, but also it helps shift the load a little! (It’s also great to get the kids involved if you don’t value your arty skills much as you can tell your guests they did most of the work!). Each person will bring new ideas and inspiration to the table which will work really well. 
In collaboration with George Weil.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Why Hello Guilt

Most of you may know that I am currently on an animal management course. As part of my course I am required to complete an assignment where I have to evaluate an enclosure at a zoo, I have to also design a zoo enclosure. To complete this we are scheduled to go to Knowsley Safari Park tomorrow and Chester Zoo during the week after half term. I feel incredibly guilty as I have never been to a zoo or safari park without the kids, I darn't mention anything about my trip to little lady, she loves our zoo trips as much as I do.
Last time we went to Knowsley was for the Jungle Dog event, we had an amazing time and I managed to get so many brilliant shots, the lions seemed to be full of beans and were brilliant. We also saw a zebra crossing, ok there were 5 zebras crossing but at the time we were in stitches.
Little T laughed for about a week about it, I still find it hilarious now despite no one else still sharing my humor in this image. I don't think I will have as much fun tomorrow and I doubt I will get many brilliant shots of the animals due to the UK getting the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo but that does not stop me feeling guilty about going without the kids. 
I should get you all to place bets now on how many times I will be looking around for them, although I will have my college friends with me, I will just have to keep track on them to keep me occupied. 
I have not made a decision on which animal enclosure to evaluate, I love so many animals I can't decide which one I would like to spend lots of my time near on the visit. I know I am going to design a tiger enclosure, I am even considering making it 3d, they'd have to give me a distinction then won't they?

I will share my design here when I am done, someone suggested I make the enclosure out of cake but I am pretty certain I would eat it before I handed it in. It will be 3d or 2d, no cake designs from me.

Do you ever feel guilty about going somewhere without the kids knowing that they would love it?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Life in the Fast Lane

Since I started college in September time seems to be going so fast. Loving my course plays a huge part I am sure, no part of my course is boring which is amazing. I am learning so much yet have so much to learn.
Less than 3 weeks ago I was handed my first assignment, when my tutor handed out the assignment brief the butterflies began to flutter, then came the dread, it was a presentation. I sat amongst my peers, they are all younger so have experience of presentations or how the hell you use PowerPoint. Power point to me was a plug socket. I questioned myself, could I do this, can I deliver a presentation and get a grade? Pass, Merit, Distinction or fail are the options. I am aiming for a pass, anything higher would be a bonus. So for my first assignment in 16 years I  presented the evolution of the cat. I think the assignment handing out is contagious because two other tutors followed suite. After a few days my presentation was graded and handed back to me, I did a silent squeal when I saw Distinction in the grade box, little old me can do this, I can do assignments and now work Power Point. I feel extremely proud of myself. 
This week I have handed in 3 assignments, the worst being the presentation which I now know I did well in, this weekend I will be doing more assignments along with maths and English homework, oh did I not mention that I am resitting my maths and English GCSEs, every Friday I turn up at college for maths and English, I keep telling myself it is just 1 year and hopefully if I pass I will be done with them
In other college news I am a class rep and campus rep, and today I had an interview to become a campus ambassador, I have taken on plenty of ambassador roles as a blogger so hopefully they will want me too and I can apply those skills I have learnt over the years as a blogger. I shall find out on Monday if I was successful. 
Home life is going super fast, Halloween, bonfire night and Christmas will soon be upon us. Little T has joined Beavers and M has joined Girl Guides, both are loving every second of it. C has started her important GCSE years at school and Big T has moved up a class at his school, we have had some problems with his medication, his previous teachers requested his medication be upped slightly so over the summer we managed to get his medication moved up to 40mg however his new teacher said he was too out of it so he requested that his medication be changed back to 30mg. This I was far from happy about and his teacher is too after talking to us and his past teacher. But the doctor now insists on it staying at 30mg so the school will just have to cope, if Big T gets in trouble for being naughty I will be annoyed. I can not be happy about this situation at all and I am eager for his next medication review. Little lady has returned to ballet and started nursery. She is doing so well and loves both ballet and school, she draws little pictures for me for when I return home from college. I get a run down of her day and then I tell her mine, she is as animal mad as me so she loves to hear about all of the animals at college.

I can't believe the school holidays are almost here, I will get to spend more time with the kids and cram in assignments. I have made it to half term almost, when it gets hard and I think I am not cut out for it I take a glance at my trusty bag. It gives me great advice and carries my heavy files and books.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My Beautiful Water Feature from Swell UK

Last month Swell UK sent me one of their lovely water features to review. The one they sent to me was the Stowasis Stainless Steel Sphere, it is available in a variety of sizes from 30cm in diameter right up to 200cm. The sphere size we chose was the 30cm one and with that came a 450 lph pump. Swell UK also sent me one of their Stowasis reservoirs to use with the sphere, the one they sent me was the round Deluxe feature reservoir. These two go together perfectly and could not be easier to fit. All you need by is an electrical supply. The wire length of the pump is 10 meters long so if you don't have an electricity supply nearby an outside weather box extension lead works perfectly.
Like I said earlier it is really easy to install, all you need is some muscle power to dig yourself an hole big enough to fit the the reservoir in at ground level. I chose my spot in the front garden, we tend to sit in the front garden on a summers evening and we use it daily so it seemed like the perfect location. When your hole has been dug and you've check the size is correct ensure your reservoir sits level. If it does place the pump on the base of the reservoir and fill it will water, there is a small cut out in the lip on the reservoir for your wire to run through. At this point I checked that the pump was working, it of course was working lovely. I placed the round cover over and fed the tubing from the pump up through the sphere, I carefully placed the sphere in the centre of the reservoir, now come the exciting part. I switched on the electricity supply to my new, shiny water feature and watched the water spill over the side of the sphere and back into the reservoir, a soft tinkling sound of water filled the surrounding area, I do love the sound of water running, I find it so relaxing. I had noticed that the pump was not pumping enough water up to cover the whole sphere but this rectified itself once I allowed it to run for a while, this gave the pump time to ensure it had no air bubbles restricting the flow.
It also took me a while to decide if I wanted large pebbles or slate to decorate the surrounding area and I eventually settled on a plum slate. I used 4 twist concrete boarders to hold back the slate and over time I plan to add a charcoal coloured patio surrounding my water feature and I plan to paint the wall that sits behind the water feature in a storm grey paint. I also plan to add small solar lights to the four corner so the light bounces off the steel of the sphere. The pump does require some routine maintenance and to help with this the reservoir lid has a small access hatch so you don't have to remove all of the stones or the sphere. This makes it quick and easy to check the pump is not sitting it any dirt.
I held a rehome day for Fresh Start For Hens recently and many of the rehomers commented on how nice it was, I have to agree with them. I love sitting out in the evening listening to the water softly running whilst the owls hoot in the trees, so peaceful. 

The spheres start from £129.99 for the 30cm diameter and the deluxe reservoir is priced at £89.99, I think both of these prices are fair as both products are excellent quality. The reservoir can hold 100 litres of water and goes perfectly with the sphere water feature. I know I will have a brilliant water feature that I can enjoy for many years. 

We were sent the products from Swell UK for the purpose of the review, all wording images and opinions are my own.