8 Nov 2017

Autumn buys with TKMaxx

Things I love about Autumn include; Crisp weather (cold enough to wear a scarf and jumper but maybe not a coat just yet), the return of boots and tights!, darker nights, comfort food, coffees by the gallon and the leaves turning brown. Sure it also comes with rainy days, ice beginning to form on the windows and it being dark at 5pm but overall I quite like the season.

With that in mind it was time to get Autumn ready and head over to TKMaxx to get some Autumn goodies in the house to prepare for those days ahead. The store was fully embracing the cooler days with shade of orange and brown seen everywhere - from the cushions to the candles.

The homeware section of TKMaxx is like my husband being a comic book store. Literally like a kid in a sweet shop. Nothing makes me happier than buying new homeware (you know why, as it always fits unlike the top you love, in your size, but looks awful on!0

I picked up 3 new things to start those Autumn days..

First up a new candle. I am always surprised on the prices of these amazing candles in TkMaxx. Plus the jars always look beautiful. This is DW Home candle and smells so lovely. Its a large size and was £7.99. I think it looks pretty good next to the boys collection of acorns and pine cones. It comes with a gold lid too - and i'm looking forward to reusing the jar afterwards!.

I love a flavoured coffee and picked up this mini set of syrups (£5.99) which include pumpkin spice (obviously!), vanilla, caramel and amaretto. A good combination of flavours to add to that morning mug of coffee - and yes that is my Cath Kidston X Peter Pan mug!! I was naughty and treated myself to this beauty. 

 The final piece of my Autumn puzzle was a pie dish. The cookware is always a good price in TkMaxx and this Le Crueset pie dish in a stunning orange was £9.99!! yes you read that right. This will be perfect for those apple crumbles and pecan pies for Autumn, Chocolate tarts for Winter and all the way round to quiches in the summer. Super pleased to bag this beauty to add to my collection.

What buys have you been adding to your Autumn homes? Do you change things up and buy new things for the season? 

4 Nov 2017

Turning 4 & birthdays at home

As the new school term starts I am transported back to 4 years ago, being heavily pregnant and my bouncy preschooler started a new advneture and attending a local preschool. He fitted straight in and as I began my waddle to the school each day to drop him off for his 3 hour sessions. My belly was fit to busting as I approached my due date. The baby was causing issues and spent so much time going backwards and forwards to the hospital with the my big boy ball of energy zinging about the place. The decision was made that I would need a c-section and I picked 31st October - yes Halloween. It was that or wait a whole other 5 days until the next slot.

And as another Halloween passes my baby (possibly my last baby) turns 4 whole years old. With our first we had big parties, hired halls the whole malarky. With this little dude his first birthday we hired a hall other than that we have slotted into small family/friend gatherings in our little flat. The kids run feral, I cook all the food and the adults enjoy the wine/beer/tea. It still feels me with anxiety each time we open the house to friends but I also love it so much.

Anytime we have a gathering my first steps is to make a plan. It pleases my head and heart that this is doddle on. Mind maps have always been something which works for me - even back to GSCE times. The organsing, the notes and being able to doodle away. Happy me (both these books I picked up at paperchase. The diary works great to see a whole month at a glance. Its not longer in stock as its an academic one but this looks similar., and the notebook is a good accompaniment alongside it - plus its a dotty square format!)
The theme for the party was vaguely Harry Potter-ish, but as his birthday is at Halloween quite often that sneaks its way in too. When asking my almost 4 year old what food he would like at his party he said "jelly beans and pizza". He has simple tastes. This request led me to change from the orginally planned iced Harry Potter cake, instead I opted to try my hand at a pinata cake - A first for me.
This book by Annie Rigg & The Great British Bake off team is a fantastic resource for children's party (or any kind of party/gathering really). I bought it back in 2016 and have used it several times. It has great pictures, some really good foolproof recipes and advice on how to size up and down cake mixes. I used the pinata cake recipe and guidelines from here to make the cake - plus the shortbread recipe. Which is amazing, and made some gorgeous yummy iced shortbread biscuits. Its definitely my go to for inspiration. It also includes a section on small bakes and savoury ideas to really make a party spread personalised for you and your party.

With my list in place and a plan made. The food shop ordered and a plan of attack of what to make the day before and then on the day. I did decide rather than make pizza dough etc to buy them to cause less stress. Also I had a disaster with my cupcakes and had to bake an emergency batch in the morning! I used the fantastic sprinkles from Shire Bakery Sprinkle Club which were perfectly themed for little mans party. Apart from that most things went to plan and we had more than enough food for a little afternoon tea party.

My first step when planning a party table spread is to pull out all my serving, grab my post its and lay the table with the plates and label everything. This makes it easier for me to visualise the table spread, see if I need any other bowls and means I know exactly where to plate everything rather than trying to find plates as things are cooked and prepared. I have a box above our kitchen cupboards which is just full of serving plates - man I love serving ware. Its an actual obsession.
The cake was assembled on the morning, so Naked Iced it was. One of my favorite things in life is cake and buttercream -so this made me happy. There is little time lapse video over on Instagram of me putting the cake together. It was 3 layers of chocolate sandwiched with vanilla soft buttercream. Before adding the top layer I cute two large wholes out of the middle and bottom layers and filled with jelly beans. The top layer added then swirled buttercream all over. A few sprinkles (in Gryfindor colours for my Harry Potter child). And that's it.

Cutting the cake was accompanied with squeals of delight from the kids as the jelly beans tumbled out onto the cake stand. My little nephew shouting "Auntie how did you get Jelly Beans inside the cake?" - "Magic" I replied to his delight. " Your magic auntie!"  - it really is the little pleasures in life for them.
 The final table spread was complete. Enough sugar and snacks for the kids and the adults. Along with a number 4 carved pumpkin (its a tradition). In the kitchen was  big bowl of chicken nuggets, BBQ chicken pieces and coated prawns.
It was laden table of goodies - and with that it was over. Food was eaten, drinks were drunk, presents town open and a boys bedroom trashed by all the kids. But there was laughter, cuddles and silly kids dressing up. 
In a blink of an eye he has turned 4. Our last year before he starts school and begins that new adventure. I hope in years to come the boys will have happy memories of birthdays full of food and fun. Onto the next year we tumble...

25 Oct 2017

Snazaroo & the Weekend Box

The boys were very excited the other day to receive in the post another fantastic Weekend Box through the letterbox.  Weekend Box is a great idea to help add a little bit of fun to your kids weekends - except someone else has taken the thinking away for you. They have little activities you can pass over to the kids and let them get busy. However this was a Weekend Box with a difference.

It was stuffed with the mini set of face painting kits from Snazaroo. The little set are a perfect quick activity with the kids. In fact the mini Tattoo stamper was so easy to use that the boys were giving me cupcake tattoos.
The mini face paint kits are great value - you have the paints, sponge, brush and step by step instructions. All you need to add is a little water and get messy and creative. The kids love it and since receiving the kit we have been dragging out the face paints more regularly and they don't seem to care they are not perfect.
The set is a mini collection, all included which makes it easy to use as it lays flat. The simple steps are easy to follow. My top tip is to not use loads of water - this helps the colours have a really bright vibrant colours. Also a light touch when covering the face as you can layer up to add more depth.

As you can see little man was more than happy with his face - and didn't notice the flaws. He spent the next hour pretending to be a jungle animal!!

Thanks again to Weekend Box for sending this box out for me and the boys to have fun with.