Christmas Cake-off

The Christmas Cake bakers all ready!
The Christmas Cake bakers all ready!

For about 8 years (can’t be totally sure of how many as it pre-dates Facebook which is my usual point of reference for checking dates!) my husband and our kids (which have grown in number during the period!) and my niece and nephew who live in the UK have always got together for a Christmas cake baking – and subsequently decorating – session. Sometimes this has been done by gender lines, other times along familial lines – but it’s always been competitive.

Now – I am renowned for being a bit of a Grinch at Christmas (mostly to offset my husband who is a Christmas addict!)

The Christmas Shop in Bloomingdales
The Christmas Shop in Bloomingdales

But this year I got into the spirit of the cake baking with my sister and we accompanied them with some festive singing!!

Name the carol?!
Name the carol?!

So as our half terms conincided – Christmas cake off time was here.

THE RECIPE - can't beat a classic Delia
THE RECIPE – can’t beat a classic Delia

 

The booze was for the cake not the adults - honest!
The booze was for the cake not the adults – honest!
The boys taking the measuring very seriously
The boys taking the measuring very seriously
The 2 year old was allowed to grease the tin
The 2 year old was allowed to grease the tin
The 4 year old was allowed to break the eggs!
The 4 year old was allowed to break the eggs!
Eeeuuurrrgghhhh black treacle
Eeeuuurrrgghhhh black treacle
The girls getting stuck in
The girls getting stuck in
The boys and their little helper!
The boys and their little helper!
Not even a babywipe could clean this up!
Not even a babywipe could clean this up!
Proud!
Proud!
Proud again!
Proud again!

 

4 hours later – the kids were all in bed – and the cakes smelt amazing!  They are now safely stored to be ‘fed’ with more booze until we ice them closer to the big day.  Obviously photos of the finished articles will be blogged!!

Given only our family and the brother in law of their family eat cake  there will be plenty spare if anyone wants some?!?

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Book Review – The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley

I was lucky enough to be given an advanced copy of this to review by my wonderful book industry insider friend. As it was a debut book for Lucy Foley I had no expectations at all – which is often a more exciting way to start a book!

The Book of Lost and Found

This is what Amazon had to say about it:

“In many ways, my life has been rather like a record of the lost and found. Perhaps all lives are like that.

It’s when life started in earnest.
Hertfordshire, 1928 – The paths of Tom and Alice collide against a haze of youthful, carefree exuberance. There’s champagne and excitement, but above all there’s the beginning of a love story that finds its feet by a lake one silvery moonlit evening . . .

It’s when love stories didn’t have happy endings.
Paris, 1939 – Alice is living in the city of light, but the pain of the last decade has already left its mark. Against the shadow that sweeps across Europe, she and Thomas Stafford – now a world famous artist – meet once more . . .

It’s when the story begins.
London, 1986 – Bestowed with an old portrait drawing from her grandmother, Kate Darling can’t possibly imagine the secrets that have been lost to time. Kate’s journey takes her to Corsica, Paris and beyond, and as time melts away she is catapulted into the heart of a love story that’s as epic as it is life changing . . .

Sweeping and heartrending – the perfect read for fans of Victoria Hislop and Kate Morton.

Now this book jumps between time periods – as you can see from the above – but it does it in a free flowing, telling of the story kind of way – it is not a regimented one chapter here, one there routine. Also – the chapters vary massively in length – which I love – and adds to the suspense. It is BEAUTIFULLY written, and really evokes the settings of the story – and makes me want to hop on a plane to Paris and Corsica very soon – and the bits in New York reminded me of our recent trip.

I really liked lots of the characters and wanted to see how their paths developed. There are lots of twists and turns but the whole story flows wonderfully – and I think it would make a fabulous film with some amazing backdrops to the story (although actually, maybe a film wouldn’t do it as much justice as the pictures in my own head from the thoughtful and descriptive words).

I have to confess to crying at the end – and the ending wasn’t what I expected – but in retrospect was just perfect.   With about 4 chapters to go I did wonder how it would all  get wrapped up – but it does.

I would definitely recommend pre-ordering this ready for its release in January 2015 – and look forward to more books by Lucy Foley in the future.

Price (not prize) Pumpkins

I am not a big lover of arts and crafts with or without the kids. I am an accountant – I don’t do creativity – paint by numbers would be my limit. Obviously, because of this, my kids ADORE anything arts and crafts – and my study has a whole cupboard allocated to craft supplies – but I try my hardest not to go into the cupboard……

‘Mummy, can we do painting?’ is surpassed in the nightmare stakes by possibly only ‘Mummy, can we get the Playdoh out?’ (My OCD can not cope with the Playdoh colours all being muddled up!!!)

Anyway, due to me and the husband gallivanting, followed by the nanny going on holiday to recover from her overtime, I haven’t been in the office much for the month of October.  So on Tuesday morning, after a dentists trip with all 4 kids (thankfully for once this went remarkably smoothly and I didn’t leave feeling the need to open gin!) I bought 4 pumpkins and left the kids in the hands of the nanny to do Halloween crafts!! With my parting comment, as I whizzed off to the office to do some work (not t*t about on social media, honestly!),

‘Could you take some photos for my blog please?’

(I think perhaps this should be added to my wonderful nanny’s job description for whenever she does arts and crafts with the kids so I can blog vicariously and look a bit more yummy mummy?!?)

So here you have it – 4 Price children and their pumpkins!

 

Thank goodness they could make the mess outside!!
Thank goodness they could make the mess outside!!

 

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The finished articles! I thought one had a hair piece (but on closer inspection it's the boy standing behind it!!)
The finished articles!
I thought one had a hair piece (but on closer inspection it’s the boy standing behind it!!)

 

And we also have pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup made with the insides – and happy, tired children #perfectcombo

Light – The Photo Gallery Week 206

This week’s theme for The Photo Gallery over on The Sticky Fingers blog is light.

Now I’m not a ‘proper’ photographer at all. We’ve bought a ‘bridge’ camera (I am using words I don’t understand at this point!!) but more often than not my photos are taken on my phone. My sister, however, is much more of an expert. So I have to confess to stealing one of her photos this week – and I’m also cheating even more as I’ve used it before.

However, a couple of friends who are into photography have commented on the wonderful light in this photo – so it had to be used! It’s my children and their cousins at a family party in early September – and I love it (so much so that it’s my Facebook cover photo).

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 This is my entry for this weeks ‘The Gallery’ – do pop across and see how other people have interpreted the theme ‘light’.

 

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Wicked Wednesday – 29 October 2014

This is what happens when you try to take a photo of the 9 year old when he’s got his foot stuck in a tree – and he doesn’t appreciate the photo being taken prior to any assistance!!

The joy of being the child of a blogger………..

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You can see better photos of our day trip to Blenheim Palace here!!!

Do pop across and see other people’s Wicked Wednesday photos – probably without sweary children………………..

brummymummyof2

 

 

Not sponsored by John Lewis!

A while ago one of my best friends lost loads of weight, had her first personal stylist session at John Lewis and now always looks FAB! (You know who you are!!!) So I promised myself that when I’d got back to pre baby weight (I managed it when the second baby was 3 years old – but have failed miserably after children 3 and 4!) that I would do the same. However, I realised a couple of months ago, that potentially it was more important to dress the chubby me appropriately – and so before our trip to New York, booked myself in for a 2 hour session at our local John Lewis store.  (I know other stores offer the same service – Debenhams and Top Shop being two – but I like the wide variety of brands offered by John Lewis – and as my sisters think our house should be sponsored by John Lewis given how much we buy from there – may as well say the same about the contents of my wardrobe too!!)

The 2 hour slot is free (there are various other options available – but I thought this would suit me best) and I arrived quite nervous but excited!  There is basically a room off the lingerie section (in the Solihull store) with some comfy chairs, and then individual changing rooms in there too.  The lovely personal stylist lady chatted to me about what I was shopping for – and about my size – and then she headed off to the shopfloor.  I sat chatting to two other ladies who were going through the same process.  It seems there is a massive cross section of people who go in for this – and as a just 40 something – I was pretty much mid age range.

The stylist came back with armfuls of clothes and I started the trying on.  For this I was in my own changing room – so wasn’t having to strip in front of other people (something I had been a bit nervous about beforehand).  And the outfits were FABULOUS!  It made me try things I would never have chosen myself – and from an eclectic mix of brands – Phase Eight trousers / Oasis top / Mint Velvet jacket – with John Lewis own brand scarf and necklace – perfect!

I tried on lots – and I have to say after 2 hours was exhausted of getting into and out of  things – but I was delighted with the results.  I managed to spend A LOT (although dwarfed by what my husband spent in Clements and Church the next day!!) and here are a couple of the outfits.

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I am really chuffed with these (although the 9 year old just looked over my shoulder and asked if the second picture was his Nan – my Mum!……….)

I would really like to go back in the future – either for a new season’s wardrobe – or when I’ve FINALLY managed to shift some weight!!

This is definitely not a sponsored post – but I would be more than open to offers!!  Hey – a free hot drink and cake with my ‘My John Lewis’ card and I’m happy!!

The Prices do Blenheim Palace

Back in July we went to Blenheim Palace for the day to meet up with some of my old Uni mates. Basically this involved sitting in the Pleasure Gardens drinking champagne all afternoon whilst the children had a ball in the maze and on the adventure playground! However, you can upgrade your one day pass for an annual pass, so we did this – planning to go again and see more of what the huge estate had to offer.

Today was the husband’s birthday (43 – although he was convinced yesterday he was only going to be 42!!) – and his destination of choice for the day was Blenheim Palace.

When we got there I immediately upgraded my annual pass to a ‘privilege pass’ for the grand total of £5. You are then entitled to 15% off in the various restaurants and shops – and with 4 kids, this has more than paid for itself in one visit!!

We hopped on the train (rebranded a ‘spooky train’ as it goes through a shed with some halloween gubbins draped around it!) from the Palace Station down to the Pleasure Gardens (it costs 50p for a single journey for over 5s). Again we did the maze – nothing quite instills fear like a 2 year old announcing ‘Mummy, I need a wee’ in the middle of the maze!! Thank goodness for the fold up potty. And the kids (and big kids!) all enjoyed the adventure playground. We also used the sundial today (typical in British weather terms that we could use it in October but not in July!!) and found out that it can’t cope with changing from British Summer Time yesterday – but would have been spot on last week!! We also went through the butterfly house (well, everyone else did – I looked after the pushchair and bags as I’m not a huge fan of flying things!!)

 

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We tried to go for lunch in the cafe over at The Pleasure Gardens but it was RAMMED (sunny day for the first day of half term meant there were thousands of people there!)

There was quite a wait for the next train back so we walked – and I am so pleased that we did. There are some AMAZING trees in the grounds which all of the children really enjoyed climbing – we got some ace pictures too.

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We tried to do an arty ‘everyone throw leaves in the air at the count of 3’ photos – but the 9 year old decided to chuck his leaves directly into the face of his 11 year old sister and so a HUGE strop ensued!!

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We made it to the Palace and stopped for lunch there – which was pricey and there wasn’t much choice – but the kids coped with crisps and cake – they have been taught well!! But everyone was tired and bit a grumpy, so we headed home – and STILL haven’t done the palace itself! Oh well – the tickets are valid until July 2015 so plenty of time for a return visit.

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It was a lovely Autumnal day out – and reminds us what a green and pleasant land we live in. Thanks for a lovely day Blenheim – we’ll be back!

Lucky Lifebox Libby!

A few weeks ago I entered a competition on the Sticky Fingers blog – and won it!!  I should put in a disclaimer at this point – as I actually do know Tara – the Queen of Sticky Fingers – in real life.  This was a totally legit, drawn by rafflecopter competition – and a complete fluke that my entry – of the 416 – won!!  I was delighted when Tara emailed to check my postal address (see, we don’t know each other THAT well!) for the Junior Lifebox prize to be sent to.  I then had an email from the lovely Jenny at Lifebox  and she said that they were based really close by – so could she drop the first box over.  I had envisaged welcoming her in open arms, having fabulous photos taken ready to share them on here – but instead the Price family had had a very surprising lie in, I had wet hair, no make up on and was wearing my dressing gown – so you’ll have to make do with these photos of the fabulous box and its contents instead!

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Now we have A LOT of potential testers in the Price family – and all were put to work on the various contents – so here goes! (It was just after bath time – hence wet hair and pjs as a look – thankfully you’ve only got photos of the kids – not me and the husband!!)

Rebel Kitchen Coconut Mylk

We are a house of chocolate milk lovers – so this dairy free alternative – made with coconut milk instead of cows milk – had a lot to live up to – but the votes from the 2 and 9 year olds was that it was DELICIOUS (I have to say this 40 year old had a slurp too and thought it was yummy!)

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 Nakdraisins

These were again tested by the 9 year old and the 2 year old – and I have to say neither were particular fans!  The raisins were lemon infused and quite strong.  Thankfully husband and I thought they were lush and polished them off!  I’ll definitely investigate the other flavours though – as all the kids love raisins and it’s nice to spice them up a bit.

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 Clearspring Fruit On The G

This time the 4 year old stepped up as tester.  She is a big fan of fruit pouches, and so knows the market in this area well.  This was an apple and mango one and got a definite thumbs up – and was described as nicer than her normal ones!!  And to stick my oar in too – I was impressed this had NO EVIL BANANA in it – it is amazing how many of these types of things have a particular flavour given, but neglect to mention that they have other fruits as fillers – generally banana – which I can taste in the smallest quantity.  This was apple + mango = fabulous.

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Conscious Raw Chocolate Bar

And now time for the eldest to step into the frame – an 11 year old tester!  She saw the word chocolate and decided to go for this one!  Although on reading it was dairy and sugar free started to turn her nose up.  Her actual description after one small piece was ‘Eurgh, it’s like a mouldy Quality Street’ – which I am guessing won’t be used as a marketing strapline!  Undeterred the 9 year old tried it, and said it was lovely -but so rich you couldn’t eat much of it at once.  I *may* have disproved this theory by polishing off the rest of the bar from the fridge this afternoon……….

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 Inspiral Superfood Bites

This was an acai berry bite – and the 11 year old wanted to try this (to take away the taste of the chocolate bar!!) Apparently it was delicious and her favourite thing.

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We still have the ‘Lifebox Junior Nuts on the Go – Raw Almonds and Mulberries’ to try – and then the very exciting recipe to make!  This is called the ‘Trial Size Lifebox Goodness Gracious Snack Balls Mix’ – which using the recipe card enclosed, and some of the coconut water and some vanilla extract – we should be able to rustle up some mini snacks that can keep in the fridge or freezer (if they last that long!)  These are on the to do list for this weekend!

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Overall

So the Junior Lifebox has been a big success – lots of interesting things to try that I am sure I wouldn’t have got the kids to chose if they hadn’t been in a special box delivered to the door!  Excellent for keeping you on track healthwise – but interesting and feel like treats too! Our only issue is too many pesky kids – so they end up fighting over the contents.  Guess we’ll just have to order more than one in the future!!

It’s also a great way to taste different things which you may want to buy more of  (I have already scoped out that Ocado sell quite a few of these products – and in larger sizes too!).

We luckily won a 3 month supply – so it will be interesting to see how November and December compare.

A big thank you to Lifebox and Sticky Fingers from the Price family! xxxxxx

Wicked Wednesday – 22nd October 2014

After the husband and I had an AMAZING 4 day childfree break to New York (sorry!!) it was back down to earth with a bump, not literally – the British Airways landing into Heathrow was very smooth – but it was then a mad dash up the M40, drop off husband and bags (and put loads of washing on – obvs!) and then take youngest 2 daughters to a soft play party for one of their friend’s who was 4.  Neither of them would leave my side, so I had to join in all of the ‘fun’ rather sit nursing coffee and cake.

Why is it soooo difficult to get photos of kids using soft play stuff………….

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Possibly the only half decent photo – and it is only one of them!

This is my entry for this week’s Wicked Wednesdays over at BrummyMummyof2’s – go and have a look at other people’s fab photos too.

brummymummyof2

Talent – The Photo Gallery Week 205

The theme of The Sticky Fingers blog for The Photo Gallery this week is talent.

I guess my talents have generally been recognised as musical and academic rather than sporting.  Back in the day I passed my Grade 8s on the piano and the flute – although rarely get chance to play nowadays.  I did ‘perform’ at my Great Aunt’s 80th birthday recently – as did lots of my family members.  However I think my daughter / niece / cousins would lynch me if I put any of the photos of us all performing out in the public domain!!

So therefore I think I should share this week’s potential new talents for the Price family!!

The youngest Price daughter started ballet with her big sisters on Saturday – here they all are looking very proud!

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And then the third Price-let joined her older brother and sister at rugby on Sunday – she ADORED it (this may be because it was lovely and sunny – we will witness her true commitment when it’s pouring and freezing!)

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And another set of boots for the husband to clean on a Sunday night……

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Not sure if they will prove to be great talents – but I’m just pleased they’ll all have a go at such disparate hobbies. And don’t worry – the eldest is carrying on the tradition and learning the piano and flute too – we’ve even been known to duet!

Do pop across to The Photo Gallery and see other people’s talents…..

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery