Easter bakes with lots of the chocolate stuff!

My children just love sweets; I remember when my first son was born, I attempted to convince him that raisins were sweets; it worked for a little while anyway. Now I have four older children they certainly know what they like.

Recently I saw an idea circulating about Facebook – someone had made crème egg muffins, which looked superb. In our house we prefer brownies; all the children go mad for them as they are lovely and moist. We used our normal chocolate brownie recipe (listed below) and then part way through the cooking dropped the halved frozen mini crème eggs into each section of the mix.

Ingredients for our standard chocolate brownies + buy one packet of mini crème eggs (freeze the night before)

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g milk chololate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 95g plain flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a brownie baking tin (if you have one) or a normal tin if you haven’t.
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave.
  3. Break the eggs into a bowl and tip in 275g sugar. Beat until the mix has become thick and creamy.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the eggy mixture, then fold together.
  5. Sieve the cocoa and flour mixture over the combined mixtures. Gently fold in and pour into the baking tin.
  6. Bake the mixture for 15 minutes then press the Cadbury’s Crème egg halves into the mix. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.

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My daughter (aged 10) loved making them, and we loved eating them! They were really straightforward to make and are the perfect Easter themed chocolate dessert. The result looks much more complicated than it is and it’s a really lovely tasty treat for the children too (and not too big either!)

A new twist on pancake day #Cloudy2Competition

Tots100 are running a great ‘Show Us Your Foodimals’ competition in conjunction with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, so we just had to have a go, my children just love pancake day and as it’s just round the corner it seemed like a perfect excuse to dust down the frying pan and get the children involved in some basic cooking – it’s great fun making strange shapes and finding new and interesting ingredients to add. This year we decided to have some fun, so I bought a copy of OMG Pancakes by Jim Belosic and then topped up on food colourings and some chocolate drops for some experimentation in the kitchen.

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I let the children have a few attempts with the batter, our technique was to make up lots of batter and then add a few drops of colour to each small quantity once it was in the bottle. Here is William holding one of the most successful foodimals we did, he loves dinosaurs so it seemed like quite a good one to have a go at. He loved making it and enjoyed eating it even more!

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This is my entry to Make Your Food Fun and Win a £500 Home Cinema System!

Banishing those bathroom blues

I have just found the most amazing competition to enter from The Dream Bathroom, the competition is limited entry by invitation only so if you want to have a go please drop them a tweet or email and they will see if you qualify to enter. The prizes are amazing –

1st Prize – A Bathroom Remodel Worth £3,500!
2nd Prize – £1,000 Worth Of Vouchers!
3rd Prize – £500 Worth Of Vouchers!

All you have to do is write a blog post and make a pinterest board of 3 bathroom suites that best match your dream bathroom makeover from the BigBathroomShop.co.uk, and then go to the TileMountain.co.uk and choose your 3 favourite tiles that best match your dream bathroom.

Now, my hu179462_1588676443529_1141410_nbby only just revamped our smaller bathroom the children use; he has done a lovely job, we have a tubby tub (roll top bath) and it is beautiful, he has even added LED lighting that changes colour. Our main bathroom is en-suite and was done a few years ago; it is all mirrors and black. Unusual for a bathroom, so our plumbers said anyway!

Anyway, so in summary I’m happy with our bathrooms so when I saw this competition I desperately wanted to enter and help one of my best friends. We met at my first proper job about 20 years ago and have been firm friends since, we have children a similar age, and I actually introduced her (on a blind date) to the father of her children (I’m not sure she thanks me for all of that, but two lovely children were born from it!) There is no sob story or that silly teak-jerking music they play when they start a sob story on x-factor! It is simply a case of being a busy working mum of two, who struggles to get everything done. Her name is Barb and she has two lovely children called Lauren (16) and Fred (11); the bathroom was done about 15 years ago but like most things has suffered with the march of time (don’t I know that well too!)

(Above – well, hopefully!) Me on the left and my best mate barb on the right, dressed up for a burlesque nite out on the town!

Below are some photos from my friends bathroom, her comment to me was she was shocked at how shabby it looked on the photos, I think that you tend not to notice when you live with something but it is in a very sorry state. So I wrote this rhyme about it…

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My friends bathroom is in a sorry state;
it’s in desperate need of being up to date
The grout is black and full of mold;
the windows leaky and lets in the cold
It’s a desperate dash when you need the loo;
you don’t even stay long when u need a number 2!
The taps are old and are always dripping;
the walls are damp and they need stripping
You don’t go in there unless you are desperate;
we really need the help of a bathroom expert
So please dream bathroom hear our plea;
Turn a nightmare to a daydream and make it a lush place to be!

Now, I’m pretty rubbish at putting things together, but both my friend and I really like Victorian styled tiles; in fact when I rang and told her about the competition the thing she talked about were the old fashioned brick beveled tiles. She also currently collects blue and white porcelain so I was made up when I found some nice blue and white retro tiles on the TileMountain site that could be combined with the brick tiles in some fashion, or used as a separate idea. Anyway, there is a great choice on the site so I am sure we would be able to make a choice depending on the suite chosen.

When it came to bathroom suites I love the Milano and the Phoenix suites as I have a passion for roll top baths (see my toes peeping out of mine on my pinterest board!) But the Milano Canterbury might be a more of a compromised choice for my friends bathroom as I am not sure a roll-top would fit or be suitable. We would need a good measure up!

So I have put together the pinterest mood board based around this idea of a slightly retro bathroom suite and tiles to match.  – here is our jointly chosen Pinterest board

 

Follow anna’s board Big Bathroom inspiration on Pinterest.

We have also included a few fun hacks as well for making the bathroom more individual, and a great place to be.

This is my entry to win on behalf of my friend for ‘The dream bathroom’ competition.

Top 5 top TV dads!

Wow, Samsung are running a fabulous competition to win a Samsung SUHD TV, now I know nothing about gadgetry but the hubby does, and boy does he love his tech. We currently have a Samsung telly on the wall so I am guessing he would be totally made up if I won this prize for him. Anyway, if you also want to enter the competition link is here, but make sure you enter by 21st June to stand a chance of winning this awesome prize. All you have to do is have some fun naming your top 5 TV dads, then weet your post to @CurrysPCWorld on Twitter using the hashtag #topTVdads to confirm your entry. This was actually quite tricky for me as I don’t watch a great deal of TV, I have perhaps picked some alternative dads!

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1. Frank Spencer & Jessica (1973)

Oh my he came to mind as soon as I mulled the question over, he is funny and totally bonkers, adding a baby in the mix was hilarious. I just love the episode where the baby arrives. He drives her to the hospital in the car and on the top is the pram, so funny even now. Lots of innuendos and misunderstandings. Brilliant fun!

Occupation – DIY fanatic

Children – Jessica

Best dad moment – Getting the pram to the hospital on the top of the car! Lets hope he takes more care of the baby!

Ideal fathers day gift – A DIY SOS video for all those repairs!

2. Walter White (2013)

What a great program, he knows his chemistry (always impressive) and is very protective of his children. I love the contrast of his role in the program, a dad that does good for his own children but equally is supplying an underground illegal trade in hard drugs. An excellent character and brilliantly put together program, which makes you ask questions about how you far you would go to provide for your own children given the problems he has faced.

Occupation – Chemist and drug manufacturer

Children – Flynn & baby Holly

Best dad moment – Putting money into a trust fund for his son

Ideal fathers day gift – A chemistry kit!

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3/ Hugh Dennis as Pete in Outnumbered (2012)

This has to be one of the best sitcoms ever made. The dad is long suffering and in fact I think this gets funnier the older the children get, I think we have seen all of the episodes aired of this and have re-watched them too. The acting is brilliant and the children are especially good. I think my hubby can identify with this as we have four children and our eldest is like Ben, he was always asking questions at awkward moments too!

Occupation – School Teacher

Children – Ben, Karen and Jake

Best dad moment – Explaining rude words to Karen when she hears them rowing one night

Ideal fathers day gift – A day off!

 

4/ Dexter Morgan in Dexter (2006-2013)

What an amazing series. We watched it back to back in this house. Dexter was an unwilling dad, fearful of passing on his willingness to take life. But anyone who has watched Dexter has also seen the caring side to his character. He adores his kids, even his step-kids. His character is a real vigilante, happy to ‘take out the trash’ on people that the police department can’t or won’t deal with. A great watch that has you totally drawn into the characters from early on.

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Occupation – Blood spatter analysist

Children – Astor, Cody & baby Harrison

Best dad moment – Hiding who he really is from his children

Ideal fathers day gift – Bin liners and bleach!

 

 

 


5/ Eugene Levy, the dad from American Pie (1999)

A fun one to end with – I just adore his character. The actor, who played Jim’s father in the film, he became as massive success as his character offered his son explicit and unwanted advice about his love life,  his sex education chats with his son are 1st rate comedy gold. He was named the most embarrassing on-screen father in a recent poll but I just love him, how excellent would it be to have a dad so open and honest about life!

Occupation – Embarrassing dad

Children – Jim

Best dad moment – The unwanted sex education tips

Ideal fathers day gift – Beat him at his own game – The Karma Sutra!

 

So that’s it, my top 5 TV Dads; a real mixed bag of actors, but full of laughs.

This post is an entry a blogging competition to win a 48″ Samsung television worth £1800 with Currys PC World

My children’s daddy

I got my two girls to write down what they love about their dad, with funny results! Here is Charlotte (age 12) and Eleanor (age 7) with the results.

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‘You’re All-Included’ – First Choice Blogger Competition’

When I saw that First Choice were running a bloggers competition I felt I just had to enter. If you also want to enter the link is here, but hurry it closes at midnight on the 5th June! The winners will feature on the First Choice travel blog and 5 lucky bloggers will take away an iPad for their efforts.

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Now, we love our holidays, but the main issue we have always encountered is that there are 6 of us. Me, the hubby and Matthew (14), Charlotte (12 yesterday), William (9) and Eleanor (age 7) which always makes accommodation in hotels tricky to say the least. Often hotels say we have to have one adult in each room which doesn’t exactly make for a nice get away for me and the hubby. So generally we go the camping route, but this year now the children are a bit older and more responsible we decided to experience an all-inclusive holiday for the first time this year. Several friends recommended it, but I have always been a bit put off with the idea you don’t need to travel outside of the holiday park. But I need not have worried as there was plenty to do both inside and outside of the site. When it came to accommodating all of us we popped the children in one room and us in the other. We were just a few doors apart from each other and the children loved the responsibility of having their own key card and own room (even if we did have a couple of panics about where the card was!)

We have been quite a few locations in Europe and didn’t want to spend a fortune so we opted for Turkey. None of us had ever travelled there before so it was a new experience for all of us. The children experienced a mud bath, a boat trip along the Dalyan River, a trip to the Jesus Beach, seeing the Carian rock tombs, a chocolate spa at the hotel, horse riding and a 4×4 experience. But I think if you ask them what they loved best it would be the food!

Our hotel was brilliant – we stayed at The Green Nature Resort and Spa hotel. It was clean and comfortable, but did I mention the food – it was amazing! Best of all I didn’t have to cook or clean up for the whole week. As well as serving typically English food (chips) they served a range of amazing local meals, some of which we never quite discovered what they were! The food was cooked in front of you, in fact I took some photos of the chefs who seemed to enjoy attracting an audience for their tossing and frying of food.

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We ate outdoors when the weather was warm and indoors if it was cooler, and there was great choice even for breakfast the whole counters were brimming with different choices.

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My youngest Eleanor fell in love with the chocolate puddings; I actually think they couldn’t keep up with demand. By the end of the week though the children were getting adventurous and trying lots of new local foods including fish and meat we had never heard of before. Her she is lining up her puddings!

We had beautiful views, a lush swimming pool on site, a spa in the hotel, shows and children’s entertainment in the evening, great friendly service and best of all we didn’t have to worry about the cost (or the clearing up). With the amount the children ate and drank we certainly got great value for money.

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So we had a fabulous holiday in Turkey, made even more brilliant by being all-inclusive. We didn’t have to attempt to find a restaurant that suited everyone, and other than our day trips out we ate every meal at the hotel. A big heart from all of us for all-inclusive holidays! The children tried local food and things they had never seen before which they just wouldn’t have done otherwise. Another bonus was that you could always get drinks and best of all a cup of tea was available anytime!

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11354702_10204612741945204_596616918_nThis is Slummy Mummy’s entry for First Choice bloggers all-inclusive holiday competition.

 

Giveaway with Slummy Mummy

Not everyone loves swimming but it’s an important skill to teach our children. I have had a fear of water since almost drowning in the local pool at age 7, since the children were born I have tried to build water confidence in myself so that I don’t pass my fear of water onto my children. I took all of them to baby swimming classes and we regularly go to Centre Parcs now they are older. They all love the water, luckily!

Anyway, my second giveaway (I am going to attempt monthly or at least bi-monthly ones) is for a lovely set called SwimaSong which helps build water confidence in babies. It contains a lovely towel, song disk, reward chart and helpful tips for encoranging your child to like the water – more details can be found at the SwimaSong website.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Photoblogging challenge with Thomas Cook Travel

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When I saw that Thomas Cook were running such a superb competition to win a £5000 travel voucher I just had to enter. If you want to enter too all you have to do is write a blog post and include your own images representing one of the four elements, or a few of them, or maybe all of them. A link to the competition details are here, just write your entry and include the hashtag #ExploreTheElements and nominate 5 other bloggers who also might like to enter. The important T&C’s of entry can be found here.

As you all know I am a keen photographer, I’m rarely seen without a camera; and in fact when I had my children as babies I was more likely to have a camera in my bag than a spare nappy. Anyway, those days are definitely in the past and my youngest is now 7 and my eldest 14. I still love to photograph so I just had to have a ‘shot’ at this competition.

 

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Fire 

It had to be my self-portrait of outward spirit that I chose for this entry. It is my only self portrait entered, I enjoy self portraits as it makes you think about the character you wish to portray. Anyway, I love pyrotechnics and this seemed like a relevant photo to enter. It was done on a tripod with self-timer, so I had time to place myself within the frame correctly. I am both fascinated and scared by fire, a certain level of fear is always good!

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earthEarth

I drove past this in the car and I reversed up to take another look, the only camera I had with me was my iPhone so this is taken on an iPhone but I just love it. I am seriously into 1940’s history and reenactment and to be it feels quite relevant to post this as it is the WW1 Centenary is now here. It is incredibly important to remember the significance of the poppy to veterans and families of those who didn’t come back. I saw this scene as I was driving home, it was such a nice day and landscape I got all the children out of the car to appreciate it too. I’m not sure they did, they were all moaning at me for getting them out. But I loved the resulting photo and what it represents.

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waterWater

For the water entry it was an easy chose. I love Lyme Regis, so this photo of my children playing in the distance had to form my entry for the water category. I love the challenge of photographing water and the choices you can make when shooting it give such different results. Long exposures make the water glass-like and atmospheric, short exposures freeze droplets unable to be seen by the human eye. This was taken on my father-in-laws infrared camera with a super wide angled lens it really gives stunning saturation and a slight colour shift to the scene.

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airAir

To represent air I chose a photograph I took of a friend flying a Harvard over Cambridgeshire. Flying to me is still an amazing feat, I was simply buzzing after doing this shoot, it was incredible, the scenery was amazing as we flew over local landmarks. I love the freedom associated with it, the ability to travel and see new sights.

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As part of this challenge I have to nominate 5 other bloggers who might like an opportunity to take part, these are :-

Chantelle @ http://fatmumslim.com.au/  https://twitter.com/fatmumslim

Di @ http://superlucky.me/ https://twitter.com/superluckydi

Lisa @ https://twitter.com/twinstiarasblog

Helen @ https://twitter.com/ActuallyBlog

Vicki @ https://twitter.com/mrsd_daily

Of course Terms and Conditions do apply, more about the competition can be found here. Good Luck!

Have a #ToyellaChristmas

Christmas is fast approaching and ‘My Mills Baby‘ and Toyella are running a superb bloggers competition to win £150 worth of toy vouchers this Christmas, all you have to do is show your child doing creative play. But hurry if you want to enter as it closes on the 25th October.

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All my children have loved creative play, dressing up, cutting and sticking, colouring, cooking. My youngest Eleanor just loves the Autumn time, this is her at the end of school the other day playing in the leaves. I’m always on the lookout for things for the children to do that don’t cost a great deal, and my children always seem at their happiest with a pile of paper and some pens. Often I look on Pinterest for inspiration, I checked out Autumn crafts and saw this brilliant idea pinned on the left. The children loved the idea so after school we collected some leaves from the playground. We chose a few nice ones which we brought home, I already had googly eyes so then it was over to the girls imagination for the rest.

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The girls spent an hour of so doing it together and ended up with a bird, pumpkin, bee and spider. The girls loved doing it and it is a virtually free activity, which makes it even more fun!

 

 

 

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ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

‘This is Anna’s entry to the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition’

 

 

 

 

My favourite Christmas Experience

They say it’s the simple things in life that give the most pleasure. I have to say my favourite thing at Christmas is seeing the children open their presents, it might be clichéd but it’s just the look on their faces when they receive something they really want. Or alternatively something they really ‘DON’T’ want – a favourite memory was a couple of years ago when a friend had given my youngest daughter Eleanor her gift. Now our children are pretty good at not opening things early, but we do have a ‘family tradition’ of opening one present on Christmas Eve.

This is supposed to get them in the mood and provide something for them to play with on the day before Christmas. Normally I supervise this event and make sure they open something that will provide some playtime, but this year I was too distracted doing something else and I forgot to direct the children to the right presents. So Eleanor ended up opening the gift my friend had bought her which was in fact clothing. Now I am not sure if you can remember receiving clothing as a child, but it isn’t fun, and her look said it all. I adore this photo, her face says it all and amazingly I was armed with the camera to capture the full horror on her face. When my friend saw it she did laugh as she too can remember receiving clothing and not being impressed either!

eleanorFor most year my plans work and they open something that gives them some happiness, and in fact the clothing was lovely – just not quite what she was expecting to open!

Another one of our traditions is that we always do thank you cards in front of the tree every year to send out to our friends, these get great fun to look back on, here are the last few years worth! Eldest is Matthew who is soon to be 14, then Charlotte who is 11, William is 9 and Eleanor will soon be 7!

2010 2011 2012 2013 thankyou thanks copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my entry to win a day trip to Lapland in the Transun bloggers competition, which closes on 21/10/14. To enter the competition, write a blog post about your favourite Christmas traditions or memories and tweet with #TransunXMAS – simple!

 

 

 

 

 

The best bits of Autumn with Sykes Cottages

Sykes cottages are running a bloggers competition to find the best bits we all love about Autumn, for me it is a great time for photography, from the colours of the leaves to the photo opportunites for the children to play in them. The sun is low in the sky and when it is shining it creates a beautiful golden glow that is unmistakebly Autumn. But our best bit has to be November the 5th as we as a family love firework night, the children always get so excited about it, we often have to visit several displays and have parked up and watched random ones before. My photo is from Lyme Regis firework event, again the children were very excited about the whole thing. My in-laws live there so it is nice they can see their excitement too. We always get the children sparklers and in fact last night I let the children do some early as we had friends round for the evening, We leave the fireworks to the professionals though!

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We all love the Autumn time

A time for fireworks, Halloween and having fun

Throwing leaves and conker trees

Chilly hands and in an Autumn breeze

Misty mornings and walks to school

Damp school shoes from the Fall

Puddles and falling leaves are the clues

As well as sparklers, bonfires, clock changes and orange hues

We so all love the Autumn time

 

by Charlotte (age 11) and mum!

 

This is our blog post for Sykes cottages competition, why not enter too, the details are here.

Style a shed from Tiger Sheds and made.com

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When I saw that Tiger Sheds and made.com were offering bloggers the chance to win some made.com shopping vouchers I thought it was the ideal opportunity to decide what I would like to do with one of our sheds. Currently its just a toy store, mostly of things the children have grown out of. We have suggested converting it before but the loft took priority, this has now been made into a teenagers den, with gaming consoles etc. So when asked what I would like to do with the shed, my answer would be to convert it to a shoffice – my friend has one and I have alwayls been envious of her being able to separate her work from home life. My office is currently part of the living room, it makes it look really messy especially when I am busy, so this would enable me to close the door on work and separate the two! If you need a great quality shed then take a look at the Tiger Sheds website, they do great garden sheds and log cabins, storage and metal Sheds as well as summerhouses, wooden playhouses,  and Garages and much more. They offer reasonable prices plus FREE UK Delivery. Why don’t you enter too, but hurry it closes on the 2nd November.

Follow anna’s board Style a Shed on Pinterest.

I have chosen clean lines (as I don’t have the option of that in the house – having 4 children) and I just love the feature wall wallpaper, its funky and different. I love the idea of the photos which span the whole wall too, as I am a photographer so I have no lack of photos to hang. I hanker after minimalist but know that realistically its not really possible, so storage would be a great solution to keep it tidy and organised. I would love to win as it would mean my idea of a shoffice could come one step closer to reality.

I’d love to have my office in my shed;

A chance to organise and to get myself ahead

As I get so very busy near Christmas;

No time for unfinished business

All I need is a nice tiger shed;

Which would make me want to plough ahead

Superb interiors and photos on the wall

I could pop my feet up and take a conference call

So tiger sheds please make my dreams come true…

With an office separate from my living space

No sight of work not even a trace!