First Winter Snow

3 Dec

One good thing about not being able to get to sleep, is that you see things you would otherwise miss. Like the first winter snow falling silently from an orange sky.

Son had heard on the weather forecast that there was snow coming and had been checking the window all day, but when he went to bed there was still no sign of it. Shortly after 2am, he woke himself up coughing. Instead of letting him fall back to sleep, I whispered to him that it was snowing and asked if he wanted to see. He sleepily lifted his arms to me so I carried him to the window. Squinting through tired eyes, he nodded and croaked ‘good’ then I tucked him back into bed. He fell asleep with the biggest smile on his face.

By the time he woke again, there was barely a hint of snow and he couldn’t remember me showing him during the night. I hope there will be plenty more to come, he has his heart set on building a huge snowman. A little treat in Elf’s pocket soon cheered him up though; a chocolate, a small bag of sequins and a note asking if he could make some decorations to brighten up Great Gran’s flat.

We were going to make four of these triangles, stick them together into a pyramid then hang it over a bottle. However, son’s attention span was particularly short today and barely covered making this one, so it will probably just be made into a picture. Not to worry, I’m sure Elf will have a few more suggestions for him over the next couple of weeks.

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Christmas Hot Chocolate

2 Dec

I’m not a big fan of hot chocolate out of a packet. I haven’t tried it since I was a child because the memory of that chalky feeling in my mouth just puts me off. But the idea of hot chocolate is one that appeals. I love chocolate, I want to love hot chocolate. So I thought I’d better have a go at making my own. I had to anyway, the Elf told me to.

I’ve never made hot chocolate before so, rather than follow a recipe, I thought I’d do the sensible thing and just chuck some chocolate and milk in a pan, heat it up, and see how it goes. Quantities were based on ‘what was left in the bottle’, so about three quarters of a pint of whole milk and half a small tub of single cream. I had two 100g bars of chocolate in the cupboard, one dark and one milk, so I tried 60g dark and 40g milk. I know this because, rather conveniently, each bar of chocolate had ten squares.

It tasted quite nice but I thought it could do with something extra to make it a bit different. I considered a pinch of chilli powder but didn’t have any, curry powder sounded yucky, so I went with the only other thing in the cupboard – mixed spice. I used a measuring spoon (so that I didn’t accidentally tip half a jar in) and added a bit less than a quarter teaspoon, then gave it a good whisk for frothiness.

It made four small cups of some rather good hot chocolate. A small cup was enough as it was really quite rich, but I was pleasantly surprised with how nice it was and the mixed spice made it taste all christmassy. Granny and Grandad both approved but son was not keen. I think if I make it for him I would have to use more milk chocolate and maybe less cream so it’s not as rich.

I’d like to try it again but, as I am generally rubbish at cooking, I’ve no idea how it can be improved. Should I boil the milk or just warm it? Would more spice be too much? If any of you can tweak my recipe a bit to make it even better, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

The Magic Of Christmas

1 Dec

I know I say this every year, but I can’t believe it’s December already! As son has not been having a good time of late, I plan to make this the best, most magical christmas ever, but despite scribbling ideas in a notebook for the last couple of weeks, I am still totally unprepared. Last year, Elf came to visit. Son remembered and asked about him so was pleased to hear that he would be returning this year, but I haven’t told him anything else about my plans.

Last week, we borrowed Polar Express on DVD from a friend. Son had never seen it before and sat captivated all the way through. He even cheered when they made it across the ice! He loved it. Which is why I was sat up until silly o’clock this morning preparing this:

The first gift of christmas, brought by his Elf. Son was over the moon. His face lit up before he even got the box open as he realised what it was, and it was so good to see him so happy and excited. He kept ringing the bell and telling us all that he could hear it because he believed Santa was coming, and checking that I could hear it, and granny could hear it, then had a whole conversation with the Elf about it. It was magic.

I’m sure, as parents, there are many of us who do things like this to make christmas a truly magical time for our little ones. I bet there’s a good chance that while the little ones are busy staring, full of wonder, that a few knowing looks are exchanged between the adults. How many of us secretly wish that it really was magic, that these things just happened and didn’t have to be set up by us? That Santa really had just flown over on his sleigh and dropped an elf off at your house?

What if, when you looked out of the window that morning, there was a huge chunk of ice on the road outside your house? Or is it compacted snow? What if you knew that there had been no snow falling at all, anywhere near where you lived and a quick scout of the area found…nothing? What if that groove in the top of the ice was just wide enough for the runner of a sleigh…

 

I believe.

Do you?

Review – Garden Draughts

30 Nov

I’m loving the fact that my son has reached the age where he’s becoming more interested in board games. He’s doing quite well with ones that involve rolling a dice, moving around the board and then following an instruction on the square you land on. We have a few different ones in this style, and I thought it might be good to try a game that required a completely different way of thinking. So we got some draughts. Not just any old draughts though, thanks to Big Game Hunters we have Garden Draughts!

Although they are designed to be used outdoors, I don’t think we’d get away with playing draughts in the swimming pool that is currently our garden, so we had to give it a try in the house instead. The board is actually a large mat measuring 1.2m x 1.2m and the counters are chunky but light, making them perfect for little hands and impossible to lose down the back of the sofa. I think that when we do get to use it outdoors, the mat will probably need weighting down to keep it flat while playing on it.

With a little help from nephew and granny, we started off with a simplified version of the game; just one row of counters each, so that the boys could learn how to move them. They picked it up in no time at all and so I added another row, just making it a race to get all your counters to the other side. The games went really well until I tried to add jumping and capturing each others counters. Or, as they saw it, stealing. I don’t think they are quite ready for that bit yet!

Considering the size of the game when playing, it all packs away quite neatly back into the box (which is no bigger than some of my handbags!) making it easy to store away or take with you on trips to the park.

It seems the Garden Draughts will be used for much more than just draughts. As they are quite chunky, they roll easily and so the first new game involves rolling the counters and trying to get them to land on a square of the same colour. They have also been wheels on the side of a cardboard box fire engine and runway lights. My son has such an imagination, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Garden Draughts free of charge for this review.

Review – Open And Play: Recorder Pirate Pack

25 Nov

I am a big lover of music, so you may be surprised to hear that I thought it would be a good idea to give a three year old a recorder. A bit ouchy on the ears, yes, but it will get better (I hope). Let me explain. A while ago, my son got a ‘wizzle’ free on the front of a magazine. It’s impossible to play a tune on it, but he has shown a lot of interest in trying and so I thought it would be better to have an instrument that actually works. This pirate themed Open and Play Recorder Pack seemed like a good choice.

The pack contains a blue descant recorder, cleaning rod and carry bag, pirate sticker sheet, fingering chart and a ‘Starting to Play’ tutor book and cd. Son was very excited when he saw the box and couldn’t wait to have a go. He actually left the stickers, which is unheard of, and went straight for the recorder. After a couple of minutes of crazy dancing and trying to deafen me, he handed me the recorder and asked me to play a tune. It’s a long time since I’ve played a recorder, but I gave it a go and it didn’t sound too bad. Son just stared and me and asked, “will you show me how to do that one?”

Using the tutor booklet as a guide, I explained about how to hold the recorder and position your fingers over the holes. The book is easy to follow and starts off with the note B. It starts to introduce basic notation and rhythm by playing the note B to the rhythm of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald. It then tells you how to play the note A and goes through the same tunes using both notes together.

Son is doing really well at learning the first two notes, he seems most impressed about the fact that if you play BABABABA it sounds like a fire engine! He hasn’t tried playing along with the cd yet as he is still mastering the notes, but he tells me that he will try it soon so he can play in a real band.

I think that the Open and Play Recorder Packs are a great way to start a child off playing a musical instrument and at £9.99 they are pretty good value too. The packs are available as either the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack that we have, or a Pink Recorder Princess Pack.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack free of charge for this review.

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326/366

21 Nov

325/366

20 Nov