Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A Week in the Woods

Last week we escaped reality for a bit and spent a few days in a log cabin in the woods.  We'd booked the time away with the children so we could relax, enjoy some fresh air and take some time away from the hustle and bustle of real life.  We managed this more than we had planned, thanks to the poor (i.e. none at all) phone signal in the cabin itself!  So no Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, emails, texts.... just us, the kids, and some peace and quiet!


We had a really good time.  The swimming pool and spa on-site meant we could take the children to the pool every day - and Molly enjoyed her first time in the swimming pool!  She loved the water, and was mesmerised by everything going on around her.  I think she would have been happy to have stayed in longer but I was worried about her getting cold, so we had a shower (which she loved too) before getting dressed and watching the others enjoy the rest of their swim.


I'd thought there would have been more on offer at the site such as nature trails, woodland walks etc - otherwise known as "free fun" - but there was only a small playpark for children and no walks to speak of.  The kids made the most of the sunshine and ran themselves ragged around the park regardless.


We went a bit further afield one day to a park I'd spotted en route to the site.  It was huge, with loads to see and do, and I'd imagine on a lovely, warm day it would be fantastic to go there with a picnic and spend the whole day wandering around.  There was a lot of equipment for different ages and it was really clean and tidy - the kids were warm enough because they were running around but oh, it was cold for the adults sitting watching!!  Definitely time to dig out the gloves and scarves!!


The girls managed to fit in some time taking it easy, watching CBBC.  As you do!


And Lizzie made a start on a sewing project she got for her birthday.


I even managed to fit in some time for this cross stitch I've been working on since last summer.... which admittedly is the first time I've even picked it up in 2013!  It's a long way from finished but I enjoyed having the luxury of time to sit and do it!

We had a nice time and enjoyed the break.  Now we're back home and back to fast-paced reality!

Best wishes
Debbie

Review: Pinkabella Books

Parragon Publishing got in touch with me to offer Lizzie a selection of their Pinkabella books to try.  As we were heading off on holiday to a log cabin for a week, I was pleased to accept these - and Lizzie was delighted to receive them!

The first book, Pinkabella Dress Up, was a huge success.  Lizzie has always loved sticker books and even now, age 8, she will still happily sit for hours at a time completing sticker books - in particular she enjoys the ones that have fashion themes like this, where you get to dress the characters.


Lizzie enjoyed following Pinkabella's exploits throughout the book and had fun selecting the most appropriate outfits for Pinkabella and her friends.  She dipped in and out of the book during our holiday and it kept her amused for many hours.  She completed the book cover to cover and brought it back home with her to keep.  I was pleased with the quality of the stickers - they stayed stuck to the pages!  So many books I've bought over the years have ended up a disappointment when the stickers curl up and refuse to stay stuck down in the correct places - much to Lizzie's frustration!


My only issue with this book (and every other sticker book I've ever bought) is that the pages with the stickers are fixed into the centre of the book.  This means constantly flicking pages to find the stickers you want and then sticking them on the correct page.  In the end I ripped the sticker pages out so Lizzie could have these to one side whilst completing the book - it would be so much easier if these sticker pages were perforated so they could be removed if desired!!

The second book, Pinkabella Colours In, was a colouring book and although Lizzie spent some time on it, she didn't enjoy it nearly as much - the flaw being that the crayons supplied with the book were awkward to hold and didn't colour in very effectively.  The crayons looked cute in the butterfly shape they made when put together but they weren't very practical.  Perhaps they are designed that way for littler hands to hold - but Lizzie, being 8, is quite particular about getting her colouring in the lines and this wasn't easy with these odd-shaped crayons.   Unfortunately we didn't have any other colouring instruments with us, so the book was packed away again to be completed at home.  I'm sure she will come back to this book with her own colouring-in things in due course - she enjoyed the story and liked all the different characters in the book!

Best wishes
Debbie

Friday, 11 October 2013

One night in Belfast

Last weekend Dougie and I escaped reality for 24 hours and jetted off to Belfast for a catch-up with friends.  How indulgent!  We flew from Edinburgh airport into Belfast City airport, spending the night at a Premier Inn.

After a freshen up and a change into something more suitable for a Saturday night on the town, we met up with a large group of friends at a restaurant called Made in Belfast - we'd checked ahead and they'd advised that catering for my gluten-free requirements wouldn't be a problem.  I chose the risotto for my main course and it was delicious - creamy, tasty and very filling!  The rest of my meal was topped up with gin!


Then we spent the remainder of our evening in a newly opened bar in Belfast called The National - we sat outside under the patio heaters and enjoyed what was a clear and crisp evening washed down with a drink or two and plenty of laughs!


One of our friends advised that Belfast didn't wake up until 1pm on a Sunday - how true indeed this was, when we emerged from our hotel the following lunchtime to find that not a single shop was open!  We managed to find a Starbucks that had opened it's doors and a lonely gluten-free tuna nicoise roll served as my breakfast!


It was just what Dougie and I needed - a break away, just the two of us, to spend some quality time together as a couple and not just "Mum and Dad".  And of course the girls were thoroughly spoiled, spending the evening at Granny's house!

We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  There's so much to see and do in Belfast - I can't wait to go back!

Best wishes
Debbie

Friday, 27 September 2013

My growing up girl

My little lady is growing up a bit more every day before my very eyes.  I savour every moment that she still wants to spend with her mummy; all too soon my little girl will be too busy with her friends and her activities to want to spend too much time baking cakes and helping her mum.

When we go out for a walk I love to hold her hand and to listen to her chatter on - about her day, about her aspirations, about her plans for the holidays and about her thoughts on just about every subject in between.

Her 8th birthday came around this week and whilst we are eagerly planning her first ever birthday party this weekend, I can't help but feel a little wistful that my wee girl is changing and is not my wee girl any more - she's growing up now, with independence and confidence.  The time passes in a blink of an eye!


Everyone repeats the mantra, "enjoy them while they're small" and this is so very, very true - enjoy every precious minute with them, listen to their chatter, engage in their games and stories... all too soon those days will be gone and they will be grown up!!

Lizzie insisted that she simply must go to dancing class on her birthday, as "all" the dancers have a cake brought in by their Mums when it's their birthday on a dancing day.... so, not to disappoint, I hastily pulled this cake together so that she could enjoy her moment at dancing with all the dancers singing happy birthday to her.


It wasn't my best effort!  Even Lizzie said herself, "it was a nice cake Mummy - even though it looked a bit rushed".  Thanks Lizzie...!  But it did the trick and she was pleased as punch to be the birthday girl and be the centre of attention for five minutes!

Best wishes
Debbie

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A dumper truck of chocolate!

My stepson turned five recently and I decided to try something different for his birthday cake this year!


The cake is a basic chocolate sponge, filled and covered with chocolate buttercream (I've posted the recipe for chocolate frosting before, if you fancy giving it a go). I then placed the dumper truck on top and piped swirls of buttercream down one side, to attach piles and piles of broken chocolate as "rubble" being loaded out of the truck.  I used Twirls, Crunchies and Flakes, which I'd bashed in a bowl first before assembling on the cake.



I made two cakes (the other one can just be seen in the photos) as we were having a lot of visitors that day - and I wanted to ensure there would be plenty to go round!


The advantage of making a cake with a toy incorporated into the design is of course that the toy can be kept after the cake is cut up - a bonus extra present.


I originally found my inspiration for this cake on Pinterest (you can follow my boards here) - if I ever get round to making and creating all the things I've pinned I will be very, very surprised!!  There are some extremely talented people out there!

Best wishes
Debbie

Friday, 6 September 2013

Baby Bunting

When I was decorating the baby's room I knew I wanted personalised bunting hanging along one wall and I set about making this myself.  I'd opted for a grey colour scheme with dusky pink highlights, so I chose a selection of greys to make the flags from and I used pinks for the lettering.


This project started way back at the start of the spring when I ordered ready-cut lettering online.  We'd chosen the name Molly for our little girl and I knew I'd have plenty of time (ha!) to finish the bunting before her arrival.


As I wasn't using a pattern and was pretty much making up this design as I went along, there were lots of changes along the way!  I'd originally planned to make triangular flags, but when the lettering arrived the capital M was really far too big to sit comfortably on a triangle.  So, I needed to change the shape of the flags to accommodate the letters.  This meant that the pieces of grey fabric I had originally bought were too small, and I needed to buy another selection of greys in bigger pieces in order to make these new flags.  Not to worry, all the spare grey fabric went to use in the baby quilt I was also working on at the time.


I made the flags using grey patterned fabric at the front and white cotton fabric from a fitted sheet for the backing.  I cut rectangles the same size and cut out a triangle to make the points.  I stitched them right sides together then turned them round the right way, using a pencil pushed from the inside to make the points sharp.


Once I'd ironed on the lettering I felt that the fabrics were all a bit too busy and that the lettering didn't really stand out as much as I'd have hoped.  My mum kindly offered to embroider around each letter with pink embroidery thread, to make the letters stand out a bit more.  It certainly made the lettering look more polished.


I attached the flags to cotton binding tape.  I folded and pressed the binding tape in half and then pinned the flags into position before sewing them together.  Two fails here - firstly, the binding tape was quite narrow (19mm) which meant there wasn't much room for error when attaching the flags.  Second fail - I didn't measure as I was going along, I just made sure there was equal spacing between the flags.  Sure enough, when we went to hang the bunting, it was too long and I had to unpick all the binding and do it all again, much to my frustration, as we were just days before Molly's arrival at this point and I was desperate to complete the bunting!


After some adjustments we finally got there in the end with the right size of flags, the right number of flags, the right distance apart - and got the bunting hung up in Molly's room.



Whilst it's nothing like what I had originally envisaged, I'm happy with the finished result!  With hindsight I'd have used the same colour of grey fabric for each flag and a solid colour of pink rather than different patterned fabrics for the lettering.  I'll know next time....

Best wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Crayola Art

I saw the idea for Crayola art whilst on my Pinterest travels and I've been desperate to give it a go.  Boxes of crayons were on special offer in the supermarket recently (a box of 24 for 90p) so I picked up a couple of packets with a view to trying this out.

The canvases were from my local B&M store and I used two smaller ones rather than one big canvas.

Firstly I sorted out the crayons into the colour order I wanted them to appear on my canvas, then I used a hot glue gun to attach the crayons along the top edge, facing downwards with he Crayola logo showing to the front.  Then, using my hairdryer on a low heat setting, I slowly melted the crayons until the wax began to run in rivers down the canvas.  I angled the air from the dryer to keep the drops of wax running as straight as possible, although I wanted the colours to blend with those on either side.

I left the canvases propped up at an angle until the wax had completely hardened again.

I'd been posting pictures as I went along on my Facebook page and finally I got round to hanging these in Molly's bedroom.

Here's the finished result.




You can follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/familylifefife/

Best wishes
Debbie




Friday, 16 August 2013

Review: Fisher Price Kick & Play Piano Gym

When Fisher Price contacted me and offered to send a Discover 'n Grow Kick & Play Piano Gym for Molly in return for a review on my blog, I was delighted to accept.  I've bought many Fisher Price toys for Lizzie over the years and I've always been pleased with the quality and durability of their products.

Molly is just starting to reach the stage where she can enjoy the Kick and Play piano now that she is a few weeks old, although this toy is suitable for use from birth.

The Piano offers three play "modes", the first being Lay & Play, where the baby is placed on their back looking at the toy bar overhead, and their feet within kicking distance of the piano at the end.  The second option is Tummy Time, where the toy bar is lowered to ground level and the baby is placed on their front, with the piano in kicking distance and the toy bar within easy reach.  Thirdly there is the Sit & Play option, in which the piano is raised and the baby is able to sit with their feet underneath it, using their hands to activate the keys.


The toy is really easy to assemble once everything is out of the box, and the toy bar can be removed when not in use to make storage easier.  The four toys hanging from the toy bar can be arranged to suit, allowing you to change the order they are in from time to time and keep things interesting for your baby.  There's also a mirror angled from the toy bar so your baby can gaze at their own reflection whilst playing.  

The piano itself has large keys that are easily pressed by the gentlest of baby kicks.  There's also two lights that flash when the keys are kicked, offering additional visual stimulation for your baby.  Batteries are included with the toy and can be replaced - three "AA" batteries rather than the huge chunky batteries that cost a fortune!

The play mat attaches securely into place and is soft and comfortable for the baby to lie on.  It has a bright design on it too, offering something else for your baby to look at.  It's easily removed and is machine washable - I haven't needed to wash mine (yet!) but I think it's inevitable that it will be in the wash before long!!


Now that Molly is starting to focus on objects, she'll happily lie on the play mat and watch the toys hanging from toy bar above.  The toys are visually appealing and stimulating in bright colours, and Molly bats away at them for quite some time, whilst kicking actively at the piano at the base of the play mat.  Kicking the piano starts music and plays individual notes, and the various settings allow you to adjust the volume and and also to choose between "long play" or "short play", where pressing the buttons results in a song being played, or an individual note or a short melody.

Obviously with Molly being only 7 weeks old, I can't ask her for her opinion on this toy, and I can't say for sure how much she is aware of the "cause and effect" of her actions at this stage.  I don't really think she knows yet that the music plays in response to her frantic kicking, or that the toys swing when she reaches out and hits them.  Whilst we like to think that she is dancing to the music, I suspect that in reality she's just lying there watching the pretty colours, blissfully unaware that her arms and legs waving about are even hers!  


I can say for sure though that she is more than content to spend time on the play mat, absorbing the stimulation offered around her from the toy.  I'm sure that as she continues to grow and develop (as babies do so quickly!!) she'll be able to engage even more with this toy and get real enjoyment from it.  Fisher Price toys are built to last and the quality of this toy is apparent; I'm sure Molly will be enjoying it for a long time to come.

Thank you Fisher Price for sending this to Molly!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Our new arrival

I'm delighted to share our happy news with you all.

Our new daughter, Molly, arrived safely and we couldn't be happier with her.  She's perfect in every way!


The days since her birth have been somewhat blurred into one continuous round of feeding, changing and sleeping - we're all settling down and getting used to life with a newborn in the family.

I'll be back soon but in the meantime I'm taking a little break to concentrate on Molly and Lizzie.

Thank you for all your lovely messages!

Debbie x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A long nine months

I've pretty much held my breath for the best part of nine months.  I've occupied my days and filled my time and tried my very best to keep my head above water.  I always knew that this pregnancy was going to be difficult, in so many ways.  But I continue to be surprised by the twists and turns in my emotions, right up into the final weeks.

At times I feel completely overwhelmed with panic; bubbling in my throat and gripping at my heart and threatening to consume me, the fright and the worry that something will go wrong and I'll have another baby in my heart instead of my arms.

I also feel weighed down with a sadness on my shoulders that's so unbearably heavy.  As we approach Daisy's birthday I cannot help but re-visit the heartbreaking memories of the time - the joy of her birth, the earth-shattering moment when she died, the crushing memory of cradling my newborn in my arms for the first and last time - the only time.

There's also a sense of tentative anticipation.  Maybe, just maybe, this baby will be born, she will take her first breath herself and they will pass her to me straight away.  Maybe I will be able to hold her into my arms and gaze lovingly at her face for the first time.  Maybe I'll stroke her cheek and kiss her forehead and Dad and I will beam with joy and love for our new daughter.

We are physically prepared for our new arrival.  The practicalities are in place.  The bags have been packed and arrangements have been made for Lizzie to be cared for whilst I am in hospital.

Emotionally and mentally is a different story.  All we can do is keep focused on the last few days, one day at a time, and get through each one.

Thank you all for reading and for your supportive messages throughout, they have meant a great deal to me.

Best wishes
Debbie





Monday, 24 June 2013

A proud moment

It's not often that the blog spotlight is on my husband, Dougie - but today's post is all about him.

This is a very special week for him and I'm thrilled that we have reached it.  This week he graduates from university with a first class honours degree and I couldn't be prouder of all that he has achieved.

We knew that for him to return to full-time education as an adult, a married man, a father - was going to be hard work from the start.  Fitting in the required amount of effort, commitment, and study around family life was going to be testing at times and we prepared ourselves for it.  This decision impacted every area of our lives; we changed our lifestyle, we made our budget, we cut back on expenses where we could, we planned in time for each other and time for the children and we knuckled down to some hard work to pull it all together.

Studying and research fitted in along with all the other commitments my husband had.  At times things were difficult and he needed to prioritise or face stretching himself in too many directions.  He juggled and somehow kept all the plates spinning.

Then Daisy died just before his final year, his honours year, and our world stopped.

Everything we had planned and dreamed of and imagined fell apart in an instant and grieving made us question all that we were doing.

For Dougie that meant questioning his future.  Where was he going?  What was he doing?  What was the point in continuing?

He was at a low point and all he wanted to do was throw in the towel and hide from the world.

But he found the strength to brave the journey of life ahead.  A life without our daughter Daisy was not what we had planned.  But him achieving a degree in a subject he was passionate about was definitely what we had planned, and he managed to find the courage to continue.

The last 12 months has been such a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us, Dougie included.  He was grieving for Daisy and yet focusing ahead, working hard to keep on top of the demands of his honours year and to keep our family life going.  He is very, very good at what he does and despite the challenges, he never gave less than 100% effort to every aspect of his education.

The final pieces of work were submitted, the final presentations were given, the final deadlines were met.  He had done everything he could.  I was already proud of him for his commitment and his success, no matter what the final mark would be.

To find out that he had not only passed, but achieved first class honours, was such a proud moment.  It was the recognition he needed for all his effort and determination during the darkest of times.

This week we'll celebrate that achievement at a graduation ceremony and it will be such an emotional moment for me.  I always knew that he could do it and I believed in him even when we were consumed in the saddest of days.  I'm looking forward to seeing him accept his certificate with pride - and I'll be bursting with pride myself.

Well done!!!!




Saturday, 22 June 2013

A baby quilt in progress


If you've been keeping up with me on my Facebook page you'll know that last week I started another quilt.  I know, I know - I said I was going to give the quilting a miss for a while, but once we'd finished decorating the baby's room I couldn't resist making a quilt to match the bunting (more on that later).

I'm now desperately trying to get this quilt finished before the baby arrives at the end of the month.  Well, I do work best with a deadline!

I cut 10cm squares from a selection of fabrics in greys and pinks and arranged these in a random pattern, 11 squares by 15 squares.  I then machine-sewed the squares into rows, and then stitched the rows together to form a cot-sized quilt top.  No real skill or fancy patterns here!  All I need to do now is assemble and quilt it, then apply the binding.  I've got a lovely red fleece blanket to use as the underside of the quilt, so it will be lovely and cosy.  I'm really hoping to have this finished by early next week, all being well - but I always underestimate just how long the final stages of quilt making take!

My bunting was finished and was looking fabulous - until my husband hung it up for me and it was really too long for the space I wanted it to go.  So I need to do some unpicking and re-assembling to get the flags the right distance apart - the bunting is personalised with the baby's name, so I can't just drop some flags, unfortunately!  Hopefully I'll have this completed early next week too.

My To Do list seems to be never-ending - no matter how hard I try to tick things off, more gets added to the bottom!

Best wishes
Debbie


Thursday, 20 June 2013

New gluten free products

As regular readers of my blog will know, I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease in 2009 and as such, I need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.  I'm always trying new ways of converting recipes and meals into gluten-free versions, and giving new gluten-free products a go.

Recently I'd heard of a company called Ilumi, who offer a range of "free-from" food choices that are gluten-free, nut-free and milk-free, and I was pleased to receive some of their products to try out.  The Ilumi approach is to make tasty dishes with British ingredients, using naturally allergen-free recipes rather than substituting ingredients with alternatives that often affect the end result.  As this is the type of cooking I adopt at home, I was intrigued to try the range.

Chicken Cacciatora | Ilumi

The Ilumi dishes I tried were tasty, packed with flavour and contained plenty of chunky ingredients.  The packaging was clear to understand, with the ingredients list set out on the front of the pack - once you are diagnosed with a dietary condition, you become very skilled at reading ingredients lists thoroughly!  I was also pleased with the convenience of the products - it is very rare that I eat out of the house for fear of cross-contamination or accidental gluten-poisoning, so the last time I went to my sister's house, I took my own lunch with me!

Tom Kha Gai Soup | Ilumi

I only need to worry about gluten-free as part of my diet, but I can imagine that having a nut-free and milk-free range of options to choose from must be fantastic for those who need to follow those dietary restrictions as well.

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce | Ilumi

The Ilumi website, www.ilumiworld.com, contains lots of interesting and useful information as well as the opportunity to buy the products online for home delivery.  I noticed that they are also offering an introductory discount of £10 off when you spend £20 or more (until the end of June) - I ordered a stock for myself and everything arrived, securely packaged, a couple of days later.

Best wishes
Debbie









Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Making the most of the sunshine!

We've enjoyed some glorious days recently and have taken advantage of the sunshine at every opportunity.  One of my favourite places to go is the beach, no matter what time of year - you may remember our visit to the beach in November, where we wrapped up against the chill and enjoyed the fresh air regardless!

As soon as it shows signs of being a lovely day, the children always ask to go to the beach.  On our latest visit, there was barely a cloud in the sky and the temperature had reached 20 degrees - now that's warm for us here is Scotland!  We are so lucky to have lovely beaches like this within a short drive of our home - we can decide last-minute that we're off to spend the day there, and once we are packed up we can set off and be there in next to no time!  None of the "are we there yet?" questions from the back seat of the car!


On this occasion we'd packed a picnic and spent the day making sandcastles, digging in the sand, collecting buckets of water and just generally enjoying the fresh sea air and the sun's rays.  A healthy dose of vitamin D and family time together - you can't go wrong with that!  Lizzie even braved a dip in the sea (and let me tell you, the water was freezing!!) and didn't blink an eyelid.


Of course we ended up with sand all over the car, in all our bags and shoes, covering the picnic blankets and lining the bath at bathtime - but it was all worth the clean-up operation to have the chance to soak up some time outside together!

I hope you've been enjoying some sunshine wherever you are!

Best wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Refreshed and recharged!

Every now and again we all need some time out, some time to reflect and re-focus.  I for one have been taking that time recently to re-charge my batteries, take stock, and spend time with my friends and family in the run-up to our baby's upcoming birth.


I've been spending a lot of time in peaceful places.  How lucky are we to have views like this almost on our doorstep?  The kingdom of Fife is a beautiful place indeed and there are so many wonderful places to spend time.  I've been to the beach a lot, enjoying the sound of the water and breathing the fresh air.


Spending time in my garden has also made me happy.  Now I'm no gardener by any means, but I like to look at pretty things and seeing all the beautiful spring flowers bloom over the last few months has certainly lifted my spirits no end.  First came the crocuses, and they brought a welcome splash of purple to the garden after the long months of winter.  Next the daffodils appeared, and their cheery yellow heads bobbing up and down made me smile from the kitchen window as I washed dishes.  Finally my tulips made an appearance and their lovely colours brought brightness around the edge of the patio.  I'm so glad I thought to plant bulbs last autumn and I was delighted to see all the colour in the garden.


For the first year since moving into our house, we have daisies growing in our grass.  Every time I see one I smile and think of our darling Daisy.  It will be her birthday soon - where did the last year go?


It hasn't been all peace and tranquillity!  There's been trampolines and picnics, trips out and visits to the park, school activities, after school activities, camping, creativity and mess - in general just a huge old dose of real life.

There's also been an extreme amount of DIY going on at home, with the PC buried under a pile of dust sheets for what seems like weeks!  It's finally been uncovered and we're now back up and running online.

And I'm back to blogging.  I enjoy writing; it's good for me to have an outlet to write and share.  And of course I get to interact with lots of lovely readers, which pleases me no end.

Thanks for all your continued good wishes and kind messages - it's always so nice to hear from you!

Best wishes
Debbie

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Chocolate and Black Cherry Cake

I've been planning this creation in my mind for some time and at the weekend I finally got the baking tins out and came up with this - Chocolate and Black Cherry Cake.  Not quite a Black Forest Gateau, due to the absence of any alcohol, but deliciously chocolatey with fresh cream and black cherries.


My "secret ingredient" on this occasion (i.e. cheat ingredient!) was a tin of black cherries in syrup.

I made a simple gluten-free chocolate cake mix cooked in two 8-inch sandwich tins.  Then I layered together with fresh whipped cream and some of the syrup from the cherries.  I spread another layer of cream over the top and piped swirls of cream all around the edge before filling the space in the centre with cherries and syrup.


I sprinkled crushed chocolate Flake all over the top, too.


I had leftover cherries and syrup, so I made individual versions - chocolate cupcakes topped with fresh cream, cherries and syrup and chocolate flakes.


Delicious!

We took the large cake to my mums for after dinner and needless to say within a couple of days all traces of this cake were completely gone!

Best wishes
Debbie

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

We've had the chance to spend lots of time baking and making in our house recently.  Here's Lizzie's Chocolate Nests - so easy for the kids to make and such an adorable treat for Easter!


The snow and cold weather may have kept us indoors (unusual for this time of year) but we have made the most of it instead by raiding the craft box and having fun coming up with Easter-themed creations.  Here's our paper chicks!


Now that the lighter evenings have begun and the daylight hours stretch out longer and longer, I'm hopeful that the snow is finally behind us and we can look forward to warmer, brighter days enjoying the outdoors!  First we have two weeks of school holidays to fill and enjoy, so I'm off to browse on Pinterest for more ideas!

I hope you have all had a lovely Easter weekend however you have chosen to spend it.  It's been an indulgently lazy day for me today; very much needed and thoroughly enjoyed!

Best wishes
Debbie


Friday, 22 March 2013

A Proud Mum

Little Lizzie took up a new hobby this month which has been keeping us really busy.  After deciding that her previous career aspiration to be an X-Factor contestant is no longer for her, she's decided she wants to take part in Got to Dance instead.  Fair enough - she is only seven, after all - and the world is her oyster!  So dance classes it is; she's enrolled in a local dance school and has thrown herself wholeheartedly into mastering the works - ballet, jazz, contemporary, disco.... to name but a few.

This week I had the opportunity to sit in on one of her lessons and I realised - as I watched her throw herself about, twirl and spin, pose in dramatic fashion and hang off her teacher's every word - that I had a lump in my throat and tears threatening to fall.  Not at her skills and dancing capability - yet - she has a long way to go and is very much at the Bambi-on-ice stage of learning to dance.  

I felt emotional watching her as I realised I was proud.  

Proud of my little girl, who joined a class full of other girls aged from younger than her right up to late teens, and didn't bat an eyelid at saying hello and making new friends.  Proud of my little girl, who had no hesitance whatsoever in launching herself across a room, swinging her arms for all her worth, running as fast as she could and exactly as she had been told to, without a shred of self-consciousness.  Proud of my little girl, who has quickly idolised her dance teacher and listened intently to every instruction, trying her hardest to please.  Proud of my confident, outgoing, determined and enthusiastic daughter...  All the qualities that frustrate me at times but ultimately I wouldn't change for the world.  

She may not end up with a career as a singer, or a dancer - she may change her mind a dozen times over before she even reaches her teens - but the qualities and attributes she has now, the confidence and interpersonal skills she's developing at seven I am certain will take her places in life - wherever she may wish to go.  

And that made me proud.  A very proud mum indeed.

Best wishes
Debbie

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Finally - another finished quilt!

I finally finished the little quilt I had been working on for Lizzie - I'm working my way through my unfinished projects and I'm delighted to show you the finished result of this quilt!  This was my first attempt at quilting blocks and I'm very pleased with the final article - the pattern came from a book I borrowed from the library.  I used an old fleece blanket as the reverse of this quilt, rather than cotton fabric, to make it more snuggly and cosy - being striped made lining it up a little more challenging, but overall it looks pretty good!  I used an old white fitted sheet cut up into strips to make the border for the quilt top and some leftover fabric from the blocks stitched together into strips to make the binding.

Lizzie was delighted with it, and that was the main thing as far as I was concerned!  She's been watching me working on it (on and off) for months, and was beginning to get slightly impatient waiting for it!


Here's Lizzie modelling the finished quilt.  Most nights she sleeps with it over her duvet, but it is often brought downstairs to snuggle up under on chilly days - and we seem to have had a lot of those of late!

I now just have two quilts left to finish and then I'll allow myself to make a start on some bits and pieces for the baby's room.

Best wishes
Debbie