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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Book Review: The Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information | Posted on 18-09-2012

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For anyone heading to the sold out Cake & Bake Show this weekend – I’ll see you there! – one of the main attractions will be Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off. He’ll be speaking at the show, showing off some of his baking skills and signing pre-release copies of his brand new book “Say It With Cake” which is due for release in October. He’ll also be signing copies of his best selling first book, “The Boy Who Bakes”. Here I take a look at his first book, just to whet your appetites before this weekends show.

“The Boy Who Bakes” features a range of recipes, from well known classics to some lesser known recipes, all featuring Edd’s personal twist. Recipes for cookies and traybakes mix with cakes and desserts, but every one tempts me to make it, which makes this a great book. I liked the fact that I hadn’t heard of some of the bakes, some hailing from around the globe. As well as being a delicious book, it was also a bit of an education.

Edd was famous in the Great British Bake Off for his macarons, and continues to be so, holding masterclasses in London. Macarons are one of those things I’d love to attempt but they look a bit tricky. What I love about Edd’s book is that he really focuses on the techniques involved in baking and creating cakes. I haven’t done so yet, but maybe one day I’ll brave a batch!

“The Boy Who Bakes” is available from most good bookshops now, and you can find Edd now on Twitter and via his Blog.

October 25th sees the release of Edd’s brand new book “Say It With Cake”. Here’s a peek of the cover. The book will feature on here soon.

 

Book Review: The Great British Bake Off – How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 23-08-2012

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From my Twitter feed on a Tuesday evening I know lots of you are watching and thoroughly enjoying the new series of the “Great British Bake Off”. I am a huge fan, and have been since the first series when we saw the lovely Edd Kimber triumph. I’ve been lucky enough to feature a couple of the former contestants and winners books on my website recently – Miranda Gore Browne and Jo Wheatley – so I was very excited when a copy of the newest title in the GBBO book series landed on my doormat.

Whilst the format of the book is the same as the previous two GBBO books – recipes featured in the show, including those dreaded technical challenges and Paul and Mary’s signature bakes – the visual standard of the recipes is much higher.

The book includes a series of “Showstopper Challenges” where you are given a basic recipe – in the first instance its a plain sponge mix. You are then given three subsequent recipes which are adaptations of that basic recipe, each with an increased level of skill required. For example your sponge mix can be transformed into a Mocha Marbled Loaf Cake, a Chess Cake or a Champagne Heart Cake, depending on your personal skill level and the time you have available.

You will find the technical challenges recipes in there from throughout the series – including that mind boggling Plaited Loaf we saw in episode 2. Miraculous that anyone managed that – I’d need a few hours and no distractions. I certainly wouldn’t like the pressure of knowing that Paul himself was going to be judging it!

There are so many amazing looking recipes in the book its hard to pick out my favourite, so here are a few of my highlights. I love the look of the Jewel Box Cake – visually stunning – and the insane part of me fancies trying out Mary’s Teacakes (the marshmallow variety that is). The Cinnamon Breakfast Loaf looks like it should be an essential part of any weekend morning, and the Triple Chocolate Log should finds it way on to everyone’s table this Christmas.

This delicious and mouthwatering new title from the GBBO team is out now and available from all good book shops.

More Alternative Easter Gifts For Under 5’s…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 03-04-2012

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Twinkle Tog
Sleeping bags are brilliant for babies, especially those that wriggle around in their sleep – bags mean that you’re not up half a dozen times a night because your little one has kicked their covers off. When your little one becomes a toddler though and they are more mobile, a sleeping bag can be restrictive. When I go in to his room in the morning my Little Man tends to stand up and give me a wave as I come through the door. In a traditional sleeping bag this is usual followed by him falling over. With a Twinkle Tog the problem could be solved.
The Twinkle Tog is a duvet body suit, with defined legs which mean your little one can wander around in it if needed. It keeps them nice and warm throughout the night, and can even be used easily in a car seat if you’re travelling at bed time. I think this cute sheep design makes a great Easter gift too! Twinkle Tog’s are available from all good retailers, including Amazon and Mothercare.

Munchkin
Bath time is  always popular in our house and we like to make sure we have a good supply of toys in there to keep Little Man entertained. Munchkin do some of the best bath toys we’ve found, and we particularly enjoyed playing with this – the Dolphin Divers.
Water is scooped up using the whale and then poured through, making the dolphins spin around. Lots of splashing fun! Plus the whale sits neatly on the top when not being used. The unit fixes securely to the wall using suckers too! You can see the full Munchkin bath toy range online.

Mam
Another item now ideal for babies first Easter – an Oral Care Rabbit.

Babies oral hygiene is important from day one – not just when teeth start to appear. This cute rabbit is designed to keep tiny mouths clean and free from bacteria, as well as provided relief from the itchy gums caused by teething. It can also be used to clean those tiny first teeth. Your newborn is bound to enjoy chewing and sucking on it, and whilst you’re keeping their mouths clean they’re getting used to the idea of  brushing teeth. I think this is very cute, and a great Easter gift. Mam Oral Care Rabbits are available from baby sections of most high street stores and online. You can learn more at the Mam website.

Clintons Cards
Whilst you’re buying your Easter cards from Clintons this year – for me you can never go wrong with a Boofle card – why not take a look around on the shelves for your gifts too? As well as a lovely set of Lindt Bunnies – technically not eggs – they also have some craft activities to keep your children quiet during the holidays.
This set makes 3 foam chicks, using push out pieces in a variety of shapes. A great craft activity, and the three finished chicks can be used to decorate Easter cards, the dinner table, or just around the room for Easter weekend. These are designed for children aged 3 plus, so would be a good introduction to the world of craft. Cards, gift wrap, Lindt bunnies and Easter Craft Sets are available now at your local Clintons Cards.

Galt
If you want to get your children interested in gardening you might not automatically think of going to Galt first, but they have a great product which would be a cool Easter gift to teach them about how things grow –  Grow-A-Head Bugs!
Available in four styles – Ladybird, Bee, Butterfly, or Grasshopper – the grass grows after just a few days. Once its long enough you can start trimming or styling to your hearts content.  The Grow-A-Head is a simple yet effective first step towards gardening, allowing children to grow their own unique wild-haired creature. Grow-A-Head’s are available now from the Galt website.

Just Jaks
Baking with children is a fun, and messy, activity. The team at Just Jaks have found a way to hopefully reduce the mess and make delicious fruit flapjacks at the same time.

In your postbox sized parcel you’ll receive a bag of flapjack mix and a bag of mixed fruit, depending on which flavour you go for. To that all you will need to add is about a glass full of apple juice, and in the case of one mix a grated apple. After a good stir you pop it into the oven and 20 minutes later you have a delicious flapjack all ready. Whilst you don’t get the chewy consistency you get from sugar and syrup based flapjacks, you do get a yummy fruity flapjack which is altogether healthier – I know which I’d rather give to my Little Man!! Head over to the Just Jaks website now to check out their range.

Product Review: Hotel Chocolat – Rocky Road To Caramel Extra Thick Egg

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 01-04-2012

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I know my last post was focusing on things you could get your little ones for Easter apart from chocolate eggs, but I’m not here to suggest this egg for any of your children. I think this is an ideal egg for hard working parents to enjoy this Easter!

When Hotel Chocolat refer to this egg as “Extra Thick” they aren’t kidding. The two egg shells are in places half an inch thick which is immense when compared to traditional eggs. The “Rocky Road” egg shell is studded with crispy puffed rice, cookies and chocolate chunks, whilst the “Caramel” egg shell is a layer of caramel chocolate over a base of milk chocolate. If the two egg shells aren’t enough for you inside you’ll find a dozen individual chocolates. These are some of the “Best Of” from Hotel Chocolat and include praline with cookies and silky smooth milk chocolate ganache along with solid bunnies and chicks cast in milk and caramel chocolate to stay in the Easter spirit.

I must confess that the 12 individual chocolates have not made it to Easter and are all delicious – I was a particular fan of the slightly salted chocolates. I can only begin to imagine how long it is going to take me to work my way through the epic egg shells, but I am rather looking forward to finding out!

The Hotel Chocolat Extra Thick Egg range is available now in store and online.

 

Date Night at Giraffe, Horsham.

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 23-01-2012

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On Friday Hubby and I went out. On a date. In the evening. Without Little Man. This is pretty exciting for me because we worked out its probably been about two years since our last evening date. Hubby blames me of course: “Well you were pregnant and fussy about what you could and couldn’t eat.” You’d think we ate out at particularly weird places wouldn’t you? Anyway, we decided to give Giraffe a go. I’d eaten there previously for lunch one day with Little Man. I’d been feeling frivolous and decided to take him out for his lunch after our Sing & Sign Christmas party. He fell asleep before we arrived, but I’d really enjoyed my meal and was keen to go back. So the grandparents were booked and we headed up to Horsham for our date.

We got a lovely table with a bench seat downstairs. It was slightly strange to sit next to one another, but I suppose it was date night. We’d already had a nosey at the menu online so had a rough idea what we were going to have, though I did keep debating which cocktail to go for.

Hubby eventually settled on a Hippy Hippy Shake Smoothie, Chicken Potstickers to start followed by a half rack of BBQ Baby Ribs.

 

I had the Mango & Lime Daiquiri, started with the Crunchy Coconut Shrimp and had the Parmasan Chicken Schnitzel Kiev as my main.

 

The food was amazing. It was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. I could have willingly eaten several more servings of the Coconut Shrimp! Obviously we had to try a bit of each others and the Potstickers were nicely different to anything I’d eaten before. The ribs melted in my mouth – I was surprised Hubby didn’t go for the full rack. The portions were spot on too – I didn’t feel hideously uncomfortable but I wasn’t starving either.

The Daiquiri was sublime and the Smoothie was like a meal in itself, but neither interfered with the food.

“Would you like to see the dessert menu?” We were asked by our waitress. “Most definitely!”

Picking one each was hard. I think we could have willingly taken one of each. Hubby settled on the Baked White Chocolate, Mascarpone and Passion Fruit Cheesecake whilst I went for the Banana Waffle Split.

You should all be drooling over your computer screens at this point.

Needless to say they tasted as delicious as they looked. The cheesecake was huge and a great combination of sweet chocolate and sharp passion fruit. The waffle was to die for. The bananas were warm and everything was dripping in toffee sauce. I may have eaten a little more than I really should and felt slightly uncomfortable at the end!

Giraffe is a great place to go for date night, or even with the family. They have a lovely children’s menu available as well as the adult menu and its all very reasonably priced. I think we’ll be heading back there with Little Man at some point soon.

Giraffe’s menu can be found on their website. You can follow them on Twitter @GiraffeTweets where they run a competition every Friday to win a £40 voucher.