Five minute, gluten free chocolate cake!

4 Feb

Cake

 

I am no Nigella in the kitchen I can tell you. For one thing, I am normally cooking in my fleecy P.J’s and not a sexy negligee. I like simple recipes that I can rustle up whilst scanning Facebook and sorting out squabbling children. This recipe is super simple and can be ready in under 5 minutes!

Ingredients:

4 tbsps Doves Farm, Self Raising Gluten Free Flour

3 tbsps Caster Sugar

2 tbsps cocoa powder

1 egg

3 tbsps milk

2 tbsps chocolate chips (or any chocolate chopped up into tiny bits)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together in a microwavable bowl. Cook in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until the cake mixture has stopped rising. Best served with warm custard!

Good Bubble – funky, natural products for children

3 Feb

products

It’s not often I get truly excited by children’s toiletries. This range has really done it for me though. We were sent a lovely selection before Christmas and were asked to give an honest review of our findings.

We were sent Bubble Bath with Dragon Fruit Extract and Conditioner and Shampoo with Cloudberry extract. What is Cloudberry I hear you ask? Well a quick google tells me that it is a low growing, wild fruit which can be found in northern parts of the world, particularly in the Arctic! They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. I don’t think I have come across many products with real fruit extract in them, I certainly haven’t seen any containing such exotic fruits.

My favorite thing about these products is the smell. I am in fact, sitting here smelling it as we speak! Both of my children loved using these and so far they have commented on the lovely smell every time we have used them. All of these products seem quite concentrated because you only need to use a little bit. The Bubble Bath is very effective at creating, ummm… bubbles. With just one squeeze you have a good load of bubbles, I haven’t really found this with most other natural products.

Bubbles

With 98% natural ingredients, these products are sulfate and paraben free. The shampoo is described as having a ‘tear-free’ formulation. I always take this statement with a pinch of salt BUT after a recent hair-washing incident, I waited for the screams when my daughter got some in her eyes. Much to my surprise she didn’t complain OR scream the house down.

So, The Good Bubble range gets the thumbs up from the Dixon family. I am particularly partial to the Bubble Bath. Now I just need an hour of uninterrupted bath time to enjoy it properly.

Good bubble can be purchased from Holland and Barrett and Ocado and are very reasonably priced.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review purposes.All opinions are my own.

‘Share Aware’ – New NSPCC campaign launches today #ShareAware

9 Jan

Today sees the launch of a new campaign from the NSPCC. Share Aware is all about encouraging families to talk about socialising safely online. Their new video is a very easy way to start talking to your children about online safety and aimed at 8 – 12 years olds, it is very appealing and easy to understand.

As part of this campaign, they have launched a new online tool which enables parents to get the low-down on the most popular social network sites. It has been produced in partnership with Mumsnet, the UK’s largest parenting website. They have consulted with over 500 parents and 1,850 young people in order to gain both a parent and child perspective.

Net Aware is just what we need for the modern, technological world we live in. We are all parenting children that are far more tech savvy than we ever were at their age.

What is Net Aware?

  • The website enables you to find basic information about the most popular social media websites and apps. This includes information on what people can use each site for (messaging, sharing photos, playing games etc) and the minimum age you must be to register.
  • It rates the suitability of these sites for young people. Not only does it give you the legal age as set by the owners of the website, but it also gives you a suggested age as voted for by parents and by children.
  • It specifies any particular risks, as highlighted by children and parents.

Whether or not your children use the internet at home, they will still have access to it elsewhere, be that at a friend’s house or at school. Personally I like to know what sites they are using, how they work and how I can keep them safe whilst online. Even websites like ‘Minecraft’ which are known for being ‘creative, imaginative and challenging’ have raised the concerns of children in this study, because you can interact with complete strangers.

What I love about this site.

Net Aware is very easy to use and simple to navigate. I think this is especially important for busy parents.

Each social media site that is listed also includes important links that will help you use the site more safely. For example, on the Facebook review page it gives you a link to all the information that you need to change your privacy settings. This saves a lot of time trawling through pages to find what you need. There are also useful links for reporting inappropriate content or ‘blocking’ contact from strangers.

Would I recommend this site to parents?

If you use a website like Net Aware you can be ahead of the game. You can prepare for any problems by knowing the risks before your children use them and you can use the helpful links to make these sites as safe as they possibly can be.

For more information on talking to your children about socialising safely online, have a look at this parents guide.

 

 

Gluten Free Crustless Quiche

5 Jan

quiche

Look at this beauty! This quiche is easy-peasy to make. It’s great for using up cold meat and vegetables after Christmas and is much healthier than a traditional quiche as it does not have a pastry crust. You can use whatever vegetables you have in the house really. Peppers work really well with this as do courgettes and mushrooms.

Ingredients:

8 eggs

1 large onion, finely chopped

200ml double cream

100 ml milk

1 cup of grated cheese

2 Tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup of chopped broccoli

1 cup of chopped ham, or you could use bacon

2 Tablespoons of plain, gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

Method:

Take a 10 inch flan dish and grease lightly.

Gently fry your finely chopped onion and when soft, add this to your flan dish with the chopped vegetables and meat.

Mix the flour with the milk and cream, adding the liquid gradually until you have a smooth consistency. If it is too thick just add a little more milk.

Whisk together your eggs, milk, cream and cheese and gently add this to the ingredients in your flan dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle a little more grated cheese on the top and transfer to the oven.

Cook at 190 degrees for about 30 – 35 minutes until the quiche is set

Eat straight from the oven or cold.

Making a home for frogs

11 Dec

When I emptied out our tomato grow-bags recently, I was amazed to find a total of 3 frogs and two toads hiding in one of them! I’m so glad I wasn’t over-enthusiastic with my garden fork! They seem to love living in our greenhouse and we find some in there every year. At certain times of year our garden is full of toads and frogs. I’m guessing they like the fact that the garden is normally full of wet leaves and is not tidied up as often as it should be. I’m always surprised to find them hiding in the flower beds and under leaves, rather than in the pond.

frog

 

toad-close up

As I wanted to give our greenhouse a good clean out, we decided to make our frogs and toads a little home. They needed a little encouragement moving in but they look quite happy in their new pad! You just need an old terracotta flower-pot which can be half-filled with some wet leaves. We are going to try to find a little tray to place in front of their ‘frog lodge’ to make a little pond for them.

frog-lodge

Have you created any animal habitats in your garden?

Autumn crafts and fun!

3 Dec

I LOVE autumn! I know my husband thinks I’m crazy but I do! I love Bonfire Night and Halloween, I love kicking up the leaves on a cold crisp day and I love to see frost glistening on the ground. I also love autumn crafts and there seem to be so many for this time of year. Natural materials are in abundance and we always have a collection of pine cones, various nuts and leaves scattered around the house in autumn.

We have been really lucky with the weather and have been getting out and about so much. Probably too much as the housework has been neglected. But as the song goes.. you’ve got to make hay whilst the sun shines! We recently went to a Christmas Fayre at Saltram house, it was a gorgeous sunny day and we were in T-Shirts!

leaf play 2

leaf play

If you are looking for simple autumn crafts then glittery cones are about as simple as you can get. You can either use glitter glue or use PVA glue and then sprinkle with glitter. It is best to bake your pine cones at about 160 degrees for 20 minutes. This will kill any little bugs that you can’t see and dry out any resin.

glittery-cones

For Christmas, these lovely pine cone fairies are so sweet and look lovely hanging on our ‘twig tree’ each year.

pinecone-fairy

I have been wanting to try these clay leaves for some time. Again, they are really easy to make and I think quite effective. I let the children decide how they wanted to decorate them. I did have to bite my tongue as I was really hoping for some nice red/orange autumn colours but they had other ideas! Still, I think they look lovely and they are very proud of them.

finished leaf 2

 

finshed leaf

To make the leaves we used air-dry clay. Pick some leaves that have some good thick veins on them. Place the leaf with the veins facing downwards into your clay. Then take a rolling-pin and roll this over your leaf a few times. You need to press quite firmly to ensure the print transfers to the clay.

rolling pin

leaf print

leaf print 2

When you have your outline, cut around the outside of the leaf print with a craft knife. Place the leaf inside a small bowl with some cling film between the clay and the bowl. This will allow it to dry with a slight curve to it and will ensure that it does not stick to the bowl.

drying

When your leaf is dry, paint it with acrylic paint and then give it a coat of PVA glue to make it nice and shiny and to preserve the paint. I picked some fresh new leaves so that they could copy the colours.

leaf colors

Thomas and Lily added a touch of glitter which I think looks just like frost. We used the Extra Fine Glitter for this.

It is quite expensive but you don’t need very much of it and it really does come in useful for so many crafts.

finished leaf 2

I think I might have to make my own now in some nice autumnal colours!

For more autumn craft ideas, check out this earlier post.

Dover Castle and other Kent adventures

16 Nov

At half-term we enjoyed another fun-filled trip to Kent to visit the in-laws. Trips to visit Grandma and Grandad are always much-anticipated and the 5 -6 hour journey is always filled with cries of ‘are we there yet?’ As soon as we arrive the children race around to the garden to see what delights Grandad has in store for them. This time there was a treasure hunt awaiting their arrival which took them all around the beautiful garden. See this post for more on this magical garden.

A new archery target was just too tempting and we’d hardly had time to unload the car before they were shooting off their arrows. They both love archery and it definitely helps having an ex-archery instructor as a Grandad! This time he had added to their collection, a hand-made quiver.

lily-archery

t-archery

It’s so addictive that even I had to have a go!

mummy-archery

The following day Grandad’s home-made zip wire was installed which gave them hours of pleasure. On some visits there is also a pirate-ship fashioned out of scaffolding poles, spare planks and bits and bobs that he keeps in his Aladdin’s cave (otherwise known as ‘The Shed’).

We spend as much time outside as we can when we go to Kent, come rain or shine there is always something to do. This time, on a chilly day we headed to Dover Castle. Nick and I visited there around 10 years ago but we’ve never been with the children so it was a real treat. Visiting the castle is not cheap, for a family of 4 it would have been £50! We decided to bite the bullet and invest in membership to English Heritage instead. This means that as well as visiting the castle we can visit numerous other historic sites throughout the UK. We can also go back to Dover Castle as many times as we like in 12 months. Joint adult membership (you can also take up to six children free of charge) is £86 but if you enter the code ’20off’ at checkout you can get 20% discount. You can also get English Heritage Membership by using Tesco’s Vouchers.

We had a great time here, it was SO busy that unfortunately there were parts of it we didn’t get to see, including the underground hospital and the secret wartime tunnels. If you can go outside school holidays I would definitely recommend it but of course that’s not possible for most of us now (note to self.. don’t go off on a rant about school holiday rules!)

castle

kids-castle

lily-window

dungeon

throne

group-dover

Inside Dover Castle, with Grandma, Grandad and Great Uncle Stephen.

During our visit we also enjoyed a walk on Shakespeare Cliffs, taking in Dover Harbour Beach. A blustery chilly walk with amazing views and a chance to blow away the cobwebs!

daddy-tom

tom-walking

grandma

grandparents

 

 

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