Mummykind’s November Top 5

Wow – November is over already! Where has the year gone? It’s very nearly, dare I say it?, CHRISTMAS! I’m not sure whether we will continue our round up posts next year – what do you all think?

Top 5 Blog Posts

This post from Maria is number 1 this month!

I guess we know what everyone’s kids have been suffering with since the wintery weather came along!

This one from Sarah is still up there in the top 5! I guess it’s still Summer somewhere…

With the release of Frozen 2 we may need to plan a Frozen themed party to suit those winter birthdays!

We’d love to know if anyone has tried this during their pregnancy as recommended by Maria – get in touch!

This post is up at number 3 this month.

We must have had a few readers looking for gift ideas this month! I’m sure that many of these gift ideas for your paper anniversary could also be appropriate as Christmas gifts for your other half!

This one from Sarah is up at number 4 this month.

Last but not least, at number 5 we have Sarah’s birth story making a comeback!

Keep an eye out for Maria’s new birth story post all about baby no.2!

Top 5 Things we did

  1. Sarah took Kiera to see Little Mix at the O2 Arena in London! Coincidentally, Amy also went to see them the day before. Everyone had an amazing time and came away feeling so empowered. #GRLPWR anyone?
  2. Maria applied for funding to expand her nappy library – keep your eyes peeled for more developments!
  3. Harriet & Florence and Charlie, Immy & Leon all went to Little Street together and had a lovely time
  4. Harriet got a 1st in her first university assignment – we’re all so proud of her!
  5. Maria and her husband celebrated 8 years together – CONGRATULATIONS GUYS!

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. Tales From Mamaville – The importance of mental health as a mother
  2. Rainbows Are Too Beautiful – An Elf on the Shelf for our autistic kids
  3. Vikalinka – White Christmas Truffle Cake Recipe
  4. Easy Mommy Life – 10 phrases to use when your toddler doesn’t listen
  5. A Moment With Franca – 12 Family Movie Nights Advent Calendar

What have you been up to this month?

Mummykind’s September Top 5

Sorry this is so late! It’s been a busy month for all of us and we’re all a combination of exhausted, delirious and happy at the same time!

So here it is… our Top 5 from September:

Top 5 Blog Posts

Top 5 Instagram Posts

Top 5 Things we did

  1. Charlie had her baby boy! Welcome to the world Baby Leon. Mummy and Baby are doing very well.
  2. Imogen not only became a big sister but also had her birthday this month! Lots of celebrations for Charlie and family.
  3. Amy had her tonsillectomy, and unfortunately managed to get an infection! She’s feeling much better now. Speaking of infections, Harriet and Paige also suffered a bit this month! They both had 2 kidney infections but are on the mend.
  4. Maria’s little boy started Reception in school (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!) He has settled in really well and his favourite lesson is Maths.
  5. Maria’s baby girl has been diagnosed with CMPA like her big brother. Maria has had to change her diet to carry on breastfeeding but it’s going well and the little one is so happy she did her first smiles!

Top 5 Photos this month

Maria’s little man in his awesome school uniform!
Sarah went on a trip to Hull to visit her grandparents with Olivia – here they are all smiling and happy at Yorkshire Wildlife Park!
Olivia and her friends at playgroup doing each other’s hair
Maria’s smiley baby girl!
Charlie and her new bundle of joy! Photo taken by new big sister, Immy!

Top 5 Other Blogposts we LOVED

  1. Rainbows Are Too Beautiful – How Autism is Like a Courtesy Car
  2. Morgan’s Milieu – How to Play with Your Kids When You Don’t Like to Play
  3. This Glorious Life – Screen-Free Ideas to Keep the Kids Happy and Entertained
  4. The Desperate Housewife – Why I am the Mum who Wears Make-Up Every Day
  5. Confessions of an Irish Mammy – The 10 Stages of a Hangover with Kids

Is Halloween More of a Trick than a Treat?

This year has been the first so far that Olivia has been able to properly enjoy Halloween. It’s been so exciting! For weeks she has been asking to put her Halloween outfit on, she knew she had Halloween parties to go to and was super excited for those too!

On Saturday, we drove back home from Nanny’s house and arrived back in Aldershot at around 1pm. FOR FIVE WHOLE HOURS SHE WAS ASKING TO GO TO THE GOD DAMN PARTY!!!!!

But that’s another story (look out for ‘What to do when your kids drive you absolutely bloody insane’).

One thing I won’t do, however, is take her trick or treating.

Maybe it’s my job (I’m exposed to people who do truly unthinkable things to their own children, let alone anybody else’s!), or I’m just a horrendous cynic for all things that are actually nice, but the whole premise of trick or treating for children really terrifies me. For now, she is not old enough to understand ‘stranger danger’, and as a baby she was never fussy about who she would go to. She would happily have cuddles from people she didn’t know, and even though now she’s more wary of new people, if I’m there in close proximity (but not necessarily in eyesight) she would still be quite happy to run into the arms of someone she doesn’t really know!

Why, would I then throw into the mix that she can go and knock on strangers’ doors and ask them for sweeties?

You don’t know who is behind those doors. It could be anyone.

You may think I’m being seriously over-protective, but even with me there, I wouldn’t like to send that message to her so early on that this is a normal thing to do… She understands Halloween, she has loved dressing up this year and she has had 3 parties before it’s even ACTUALLY Halloween – She doesn’t understand that it is just one day.

I would love to be able to put aside the horror stories I’ve invented in my mind and take her trick or treating, and, in fact, I most probably will do when she’s older. Truthfully, I’m sure that there are very few cases of knocking on the doors of sex offenders (unbeknownst to you, of course – I’m sure you wouldn’t knowingly go knocking on the door of someone on the register when you’ve got kids with you or not!) but for now I don’t want to run the risk of letting Olivia think that she can do this whenever she likes.

She has no concept of time yet, only ‘now’, ‘soon’, or ‘later’. I’m not able to explain to her that this is okay because Mummy’s here and we only do it once a year.

Even if I could explain that to her, in principle, am I okay with it?

Like I said, maybe I am just a horrendous cynic, but you really do not know who or what is on the other side of the door. There have been times when I took my stepdaughter out before Olivia was born and some houses really do go all out on their ‘tricks’ rather than their ‘treats’! I mean, enough to scare a grown adult let alone a child. I get that Halloween is meant to be scary, but realistically now it’s for kids and adults to dress up and have fun, isn’t it? Like many public holidays, it’s commercialised 1000%.

There are houses on our estate that literally kit out their entire garages with Halloween displays and games etc., but I’ll only admire them from a distance myself!

All in all, it’s a nice idea. But it’s actually quite terrifying, and maybe for the wrong reasons. Maybe I’m better suited to being the nice mummy opening the door and handing out the ‘treats’!

Do you take your kids trick or treating on Halloween? Let us know in the comments!

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Traditional Boozy Make and Mature Christmas Cake

Let me start by saying this: if you don’t want your Christmas cake to pack a serious boozy punch then this is not the cake for you. This is for grown ups only.

You may also be wondering why I’m talking Christmas cake so early… well, the clue is in the title. This cake takes some serious maturing. So this recipe will be broken down into a rough schedule to help you pack the biggest boozy punch into your Christmas cake.  I have written this recipe so it’s easy to make half, the written recipe is for a large family sized cake.

September

Soak 1kg of mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried peel – the works) in 200ml of whichever booze you choose. I start soaking in early September in a clip sealed lunchbox and give it a good shake once or twice a week, whenever I remember really. This just makes sure all the fruit gets a good soak and not just the bits at the bottom.

This year I am using Honey Jack Daniels, last year I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and the year before I used cheap supermarket own Brandy. It all works and it’s all preference.

If you skip this stage you can just soak for an hour before you bake but I prefer a good mature soak.

October

Time to  bake!

At some point in the first week of October you need to bake your cake. Don’t worry about it going stale or going bad, you’re going to spend the next two and a half months feeding it more alcohol.

Here’s what you need:

Equipment:
LARGE saucepan
LARGE mixing bowl
LARGE tall sided cake tin.
Baking parchment or bake-o-glide

Ingredients:

Your pre-soaked fruit plus another 50ml of your chosen alcohol
250g Butter (because of allergies, we use dairy free spread or baking blocks and they work very well)
200g Soft Brown Sugar (light or dark)
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange

1tbsp Ground Mixed Spice
1tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

200g Plain White Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Baking powder
4 Large Eggs

Method:
1. Put the fruit, booze, sugar, butter, spices, vanilla, zest, and juice into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for at least half an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your baking tin. A circle at the bottom as usual but the paper around the edge needs to be around twice the depth of the tin and sticking out the top. It’s a good idea to check your oven shelf is the right height to accommodate this before the oven gets hot.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the eggs until last and beat well.

5. Transfer the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 2 hours. If you end up with too much mix you can bake whatever you have left in a loaf tin or muffin tin and enjoy them before Christmas! (Smaller cakes will need less time in the oven so check regularly once the first hour has passed)

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before poking a generous number of holes into the top of the cake with a skewer, fork or spoon handle and feeding it 25ml of your chosen alcohol.

October, November and December

You can store your cake in the baking parchment it was cooked in, wrapped in a cloth or tea towel or wrapped in cling film if you have nothing else. It’s best to then keep it inside a tub or a tin as well.

Feed it 10ml weekly or 20ml every two weeks until two weeks before the date you would like to ice it. If you feed it too close to icing it, it will be too wet to ice.

Icing

Traditionally, I ice my cake on Christmas eve, possibly because no one can be trusted not to eat it once it’s iced. I will hold my hands up to this: I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing. It’s partly a skill thing, partly a cost thing, partly a time thing. The end result is the same so I won’t lose sleep over it. You can also leave the cake naked if you prefer.

1. Roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the entire cake
2. Brush the cake with some warmed up marmalade or citrus jam. One year I used ginger preserve which was delightful.
3. Lay the marzipan over the now sticky cake and smooth down the edges
4. Trim off the excess marzipan and save it for later
5. Repeat the above steps with the icing but substitute marmalade for vodka of you have it or whichever alcohol you have been feeding your cake.
6. Add any embellishments to your cake that you would like and try not to eat it straight away.

The leftover marzipan and icing

I make it into sweets. It’s the best.

1. Roll the icing into a long flat strip  and inch or two wide
2. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape the same length
3. Moisten the  icing with a dab of water (child friendly)
4. Roll the icing around the marzipan nice and tight
5. Cut the roll at 1/4 inch intervals to make small festive treats

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4 Woodland Themed Activities for Little Explorers

Butterflies

This is a really simple and quick activity we did. I cut butterflies by folding a piece of plain A4 paper in half and cutting a large number 3 and opening it up. We used stickers and a large coloured stamp for finger painting to make butterflies like the ones we saw on our walk.

Bug hunting!
 
We were looking under logs and leaves to find what different bugs lived there. But we also found wild berries, fungi and rabbit holes on our wander.
Rainbow Nature Hunt 
                                   
On our rainbow nature hunt we were looking for flowers, leaves and whatever other items we could find in the woods to glue down on to our hunt sheet. This was a chance to get my daughter talking about the different names of colours and doing colour matching.
Decorate Your Own Woodland Animal Masks
 

I found these masks in Poundland and my daughter used acrylic paint to colour them in. I used them to talk with my daughter about the animals that live in the woods and next time we go she can wear them.

We love any excuse for a woodland walk! We would love to hear about your activities that we can try on our next trip out. Please let us know in the comments. Happy exploring!

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