Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Big Hour Cake Sale - Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

What is The Big Hour?

The Big Hour is Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity's biggest annual fund raising and awareness event. Between 22-28 October 2012 they are asking people across the country to celebrate the extra hour we all get when the clocks go back to raise vital funds and highlight just how precious time is for the families they support.
In 2012 Rainbow Trust are asking people to bake cakes and sell them on Friday 26th October to raise money. It’s a piece of cake.

This year Rainbow Trust want to raise £50,000 to help families at a time of crisis. Find out how Rainbow Trust helps.

Sign up to hold your own event
You can sign up to host your own Big Hour event. Or if you know someone who you think would make a great Big Hour host, get them to sign up too. Rainbow Trust can then send you The Big Hour Fundraising Pack with everything you need to make your event a fabulous success.

If you’re not able to organise your own event then you can still support The Big Hour by making a donation right now online. You’ll still be making a difference.
Every hour counts.
  • £20 is an hour of support for a shattered mother who has been up all night with her sick child
  • £50 gives a session of support to help families cope with emotional and practical pressures when attending hospital appointments
  • £100 will give an exhausted parent a day’s visit from a Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker so that there is someone there for them to talk to, to let off steam to and to help them cope with the demands of a sick child
And just to get your taste buds going here's a recipe for a delicious Rainbow cake. A good friend of mine recently made one of these for her son's first birthday party and it was absolutely delicious and the end result was stunning.

John Scott’s (This Morning Fashion Stylist) Rainbow Cake Recipe:

9oz caster sugar
9oz butter (cut into cubes)
9oz self raising flour
4 eggs
6 shades of food colouring (gel not liquid)
You will need to grease and flour 3 7-8" round tins and line with grease proof paper. 
Preheat the oven to 180/350 gas mark 4. 
Cream butter (at room temperature) with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time if it starts to curdle add a little flour. Sift in the flour a little at a time and fold into the mixture using a wooden spoon. 

Divide the mixture between 6 bowls and add your food colouring to each. 
Then add 3 of your mixtures to your pans. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes check they are cooked by pressing down on the sponge lightly if it springs back then it's cooked. 
Take out of pans and leave to cool on a wire rack. Repeat again with the 3 other colours. 
once cooled coat your purple layer with frosting and then place on top with your blue layer, coat with the frosting and then place in the fridge to chill for 1 hr. 
Then repeat with your next green and yellow layers and again with the final orange and red layers. 
I then sprinkled the top with hundreds and thousands and piped shells around the top and bottom. 
John had help from his friend Rachael who owns http://www.ring4roast.co.uk/

Monday, 24 September 2012

Tesco Real Food - How to make an Afternoon Tea

Last week I attended a Tesco Afternoon Tea Baking event at Food at 52, a cooking school in London. I love an afternoon tea and so I was looking forward to making some delicious cakes. I'm not a particularly skilled baker, I don't have a lot of time these days but I can appreciate a good cake and I would love to bake more.

I met up with a lot of other lovely bloggers (they were all of the foodie variety - so I did feel slightly deficient with my cookery skills!) who I know could whip up a Victoria Sponge with their eyes closed. I swooned at the gorgeous mint green Kitchen Aid we used - is it possible to fall in love with a kitchen appliance? I had a couple of glasses of delicious New Zealand sauvignon and finally after all the baking I scoffed what I thought was the most heavenly slice of Victoria Sponge AND a mini bakewell tart! Oh and as a reward for doing the bathing and bedtime routines for the kids I took home 3 different cakey items for the OH.

Me eyeing up the object of desire....

On the night we made: Victoria Sponge, Mini Bakewell Tarts, Salted Caramel shortbread, Black Forest Cupcakes, Fruit tarlets and scones. I decided to recreate the scones this weekend when it rained all day on Sunday. Isla always wants to help with cooking so I knew these would be nice and easy - much to her dismay though they didn't involve icing and sprinkles....

Perfect Scones - Serves 8

350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
40g caster sugar
75g butter
175ml milk
1 egg beaten, for glazing

To serve: butter, jam, whipped or clotted cream, strawberries

* Preheat oven to 200c (180 fan)
* Mix flour, baking powder, caster sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and then rub in the butter in your fingertips until it's like crumbs
* Add the milk a little at a time, bringing the mixture together until it makes a firm dough. Handle as little as possible but add a bit more milk if it needs
* Lightly flour the surface and put the dough out and shape it into a circle about 1.5cm thick (a finger and a half)
* Cut out the scones using a cutter, pressing firmly through the dough and twisting slightly as you pull it back out
* Put the scones on a non stick baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes until risen and golden
* Leave to cool for a few minutes and then unleash the jam and clotted cream and GET STUCK IN!!!

Isla helping to make 'perfect' scones. They were lush.
The Tesco Real Food Baking Challenge is running for six weeks until 21stOctober. They are asking customers to upload their best baking recipe to be entered into a weekly prize draw and a grand prize draw, which includes a luxury stay and cooking class at Eckington Manor, a KitchenAid mixer, kitchen utensils, an Eric Lanlard Home Bake cookbook and Persil washing up liquid products.

some of the lovely prizes.....

For more information on the baking challenge, visit the competition page:


I received a Tesco goodie bag and travel expenses for attending the event.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Noah's Cow and Gate Filming Adventure!

A few weeks ago I saw on a blogging forum I'm part of (Tots100) a call for mums with babies under two to send in a little video of baby to see if they would fit the bill for a new Cow and Gate advert. I had a really cool little video of Noah and also knew that I would be able to make it to filming should Noah get picked as I had some time off work. The video I sent was this one as I LOVE it so much.

We then got an email to say that they would love to see Noah at a casting. I was a bit excited about this. We were also told that we needed to urgently start the process for getting Noah a work permit from our local council just in case he got through to the filming for the Ad. Excellent, getting him out working at 13 months! It's quite a faff, requiring a bit of form filling, a letter from the GP and an hilarious trip to a photo booth where he mostly didn't look at the camera and half my head featured in most shots!

So we took a little trip to Soho together. Shame we didn't have anything else organised really though as the casting took about 5 minutes. We went into a room with another mum and her twin girls and they were all placed in front of some instruments. Noah had big drums. My thoughts were that the drums weren't really age appropriate or at all inviting (this should have served as a clue for what was to come though). However once he got the drum stick in his hand he gave it a bash. The twin girls were busy bashing out a funeral march on the keyboard and then that was that. The people behind the camera declared they'd done enough and we said our goodbyes.

On getting home I told my OH what had happened and said I didn't think we'd have much of a hope of doing the filming as I didn't think bashing the drum twice meant he'd make TV Gold but we'd get all the paperwork sorted just in case. Then the day after we found out that Noah had actually been picked to go to the filming! Again I didn't want to get too excited because he could have got ill and not been able to go. We got confirmation that his work permit was approved and also got told about payment for his endeavours. Pretty reasonable for a days work is all I'm going to say. He would get a payment for the days filming and if he made the final ad he would get another one off payment. I just thought how brilliant would this be for his little bank account to get a good wedge from doing so little - just being cute really.

On the day of filming we set off to Islington to Angel Studios and met up with the crew who were shooting the ad. Just before we arrived there he'd conked out in the buggy, which was a blessing as they weren't ready for us and also I felt he would be on top form after a sleep. Except i was a bit wrong. He woke up and was a bit grumpy. Then was even more grumpy when he had to take off his favourite Thomas the Tank Engine t-shirt and the wardrobe lady gave him a jumper to wear (it was a lovely jumper but too warm if I'm honest). After a bit of waiting around we went with some other mums and babies over to the recording studio where we were faced with every instrument you can imagine; drums, banjo, keyboards, violin, electric guitar etc. So that explained what the casting was all about with the drum! And then we were told to let them loose. So I let him loose and he cried. Oh dear. There were a variety of reactions, mostly the children were investigating all the instruments and having a go at playing them but there were some who were less happy and Noah fell into that category. As soon as he started crying I got to him and gave him cuddles. Then once he'd calmed down and I'd talked to him and pointed out the instruments I popped him back amongst them, but mostly he didn't want to be left by me. It's a shame but to me not the end of the world. I can imagine some mums feeling slightly fed up that their child wasn't performing but that's not how I felt. I only want to do these kinds of things with the kids if they want to and if it is fun for them. We went for a break and Noah seemed bemused by our 'strange' day out.

We went back again to the recording studio and he was clingy again and not too interested in the instruments, but there were plenty of kids there that were - they were banging the drums, standing on the banjo (literally), bashing the keyboard. Noah took a slight interest in some percussion instruments and had a good look at the full size drum kit but again he would have preferred to explore them with me in tow and I don't think they're looking for mums to appear in the ad!! Once the crew had all the shots they needed we were given permission to leave and so we walked out of the studios into the sunshine and made our way home.

All in all, we had an experience together that day and I'm rather enjoying our adventures as a twosome. We left the filming and Noah promptly fell asleep on the number 38 bus and slept all the way home. Trying out at being a child star is clearly very tiring!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Lymphatic Cancer - Be Aware.

I missed Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week which aims to raise awareness of lymphoma, the UK’s fifth most common cancer but I figure that awareness of Cancer can take place at any time of the year as really Cancer affects most people (whether they have it or family/ friends have it) all year round. I had no idea that Lymphatic Cancer is the 5th most common cancer. Cancer has affected our family considerably in the last few years, Myeloma being the one that my Dad lives with daily, so I'll do anything to help people from living through the bad times that he (and we) regularly goes through by raising awareness of symptoms to look out for.

The Lymphoma Association, the UK’s only specialist charity which provides information and support to anyone affected by lymphoma, is using the week as an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and its most common symptoms.

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. There are many different types of lymphoma, although they are broadly categorised as Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lymphatic cancer can occur in both men and women at any age, but is most common in people over 55. It is also the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the under-30s. This is the part I find I find most scary - it affects mostly young people who may ignore important signals that their body is telling them.

More than 75,000 people in the UK are living with lymphoma and over 14,000 people are newly diagnosed every year.

The most common symptom of lymphoma is a painless lump or swelling, often in the neck, armpit or groin. Other common symptoms include excessive sweating (especially at night), fevers, unexplained weight loss, unusual tiredness, persistent itching, a cough or breathlessness and abdominal pain or diarrhoea.

Sally Penrose, Chief Executive of the Lymphoma Association, said: ‘Although lymphoma is the UK’s fifth most common cancer, many people haven’t heard of it until they or a loved one are diagnosed. We are trying to change this, so that people will go to their GP straight away if they experience any lymphoma symptoms over a period of time.

As well as raising awareness of lymphoma, the Lymphoma Association has a freephone helpline, free patient information sheets and booklets, a website with an online chat room and forums, support groups across the country, a buddy scheme  which puts anyone touched by lymphoma in telephone or email contact with volunteers who have had similar experiences and conferences for patients and health professionals.

If you have been affected by lymphoma and want more information, visit www.lymphomas.org.uk or call the Lymphoma Association on 0808 808 5555.

See Ben and Holly Live - Family Ticket Giveaway!



From the makers of Peppa Pig and the producers of the two hugely successful Peppa Pig theatre tours comes the first ever stage version of the BAFTA award-winning TV animation, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. And I have tickets to give away! We love Ben and Holly in our family - Cousin M up till recently insisted it was Ben and Polly, even when we insisted it wasn't. I personally also love the show, Nanny Plum being my favourite character - so dry and great opposition to the Wise Old Elf. We will be seeing the show at the end of October, so look out for our review.

In case you've been living in a cupboard for the past few years The Little Kingdom – where everyone is very, very small – is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy princess who is still learning how to do magic properly and sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things. Ben doesn’t have wings like Holly but he flies on the back of Gaston the Ladybird.

In this exciting new musical adventure, Ben and Holly have fun and games helping Gaston clean up his messy cave; they go on a trip to The Big World with tooth-fairy Nanny Plum; and still have time to plan a surprise for King Elf’s birthday party, complete with an unplanned jelly flood.

Packed full of games, songs and laughter, this is an enchanting and magical visit to the Little Kingdom, live on stage for the very first time. This beautiful story of elves, princesses and childhood innocence will delight all the family.

This brand new UK tour is on the road from 26 October until July 2013 and I have 1 family ticket up for grabs at the venue of your choice, subject to availability. A family ticket is for 4 people, minimum 1 adult. The tickets are non-transferable. No cash alternatives, accommodation or travel are provided in this competition. For further show information and tour dates: www.benandhollylive.com

To enter please submit your answer to the question below in the comments box, with a way of contacting you (email/ twitter ID). If you're successful I will be in touch to find out which venue and performance date and time you would prefer.

 Q: What is Gaston?

A.      Caterpillar

B.      Ladybird

C.      Snail

For an extra entry please tweet "I have entered the @benandhollylive giveaway on @iheartmuthahood blog" and please leave an extra comment below to say you have done so.
Giveaway closes on 30th September at midnight.

Follow on twitter @benandhollylive



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Noah's favourite 1st birthday present - Vtech Toot Toot Garage

When I was thinking about what to get for Noah for his 1st birthday present I knew that one of the things I wanted to get him was a garage. I know, I know, it’s very stereotypically boyish but we’d lived with 3 years of girls toys and I wanted to get stuck in with the boys toys! I looked around the net for reviews and the Vtech Toot Toot Driver Garage seemed to come up trumps time and time again , so we bought it for him and I’m pleased to add to the glowing reviews as it has been a big hit in our house.
Firstly it is one big rainbow fest – all bright primary colours – it can’t be missed that’s for sure – helpful when you’re stepping through a whole days worth of toys strewn across your living room floor – you’re never going to miss seeing it! So it’s colourful – that covers of 1 of the 3 essential things a toy needs in our house.

(We added Postman Pat's Helicopter!)

It’s noisy, so that ticks the second box – the garage itself has sounds  - these occur when the cars travel over various touch points – when they go through the car wash, there are washing sounds, when they go to the petrol station there are relevant sounds and there are also buttons to push that can tell you the weather or colours. Then you can also add another layer of noise when you play with the truck that comes with the garage as it has its own on/ off switch and little songs play. One Tow truck is supplied with the garage, but you can add to the set and buy further cars to use with it. We bought a set of 3 extra vehicles, meaning in theory when Noah and Isla are playing nicely and sharing they would have 2 each (this is in an ideal world!).
And the 3rd box is ticked with the garage and the cars having flashing lights! No modern toy would be complete without them.
The garage itself is sturdy and withstands some pretty boisterous playtime. It doesn’t just appeal to boys, Isla can be found wrestling cars off Noah to zoom them down the spiral ramp. They like the lift feature – no garage is complete unless it has a lift to the 1st floor I reckon. I love watching Noah play with this garage, he gets right down to carpet level and puts the cars through the car wash and then goes round the other side and puts them through again. It seems like a toy that will take a long time for him to tire of. He also makes car noises when he uses it!

It also looks like the garage has been made with the potential to add more road track to it as the edges are left like puzzle pieces, so I do hope that Vtech are considering bringing out more to add to the Toot Toot range. We definitely give this the thumbs up, it has made a brilliant first birthday present.

Brand New Show Coming to Cbeebies - Get Well Soon

A couple of weeks ago Isla and I went to a preview screening of a new kids TV programme for Cbeebies called 'Get Well Soon'. It was an early start (particularly as I'd had a bit of a night out with my NCT girls the night before!), but I love a little trip into town with Isla and it felt really good seeing something before everyone else does. So what's it all about then?

Get Well Soon is a fun and informative series, which aims to enlighten CBeebies’ young audience about health and medical issues. Presented by real-life paediatrician Dr Ranj Singh, the series will help children to understand their bodies and to recognise that, while being ill can often be unpleasant, a visit to the doctor can help explain your symptoms and is the first step to getting better. The series tackles this through music, laughter, games and five childlike puppet characters.
In each episode, Dr Ranj will open up his surgery to a different child puppet: Deep, who is shy and bashful; the inquisitive Riz; Kiwa with her charming confidence; boisterous Jobi; and finally sweet Petal. Each of the puppets will display different symptoms, allowing Dr Ranj, with the help of real-life nurse Morag Calder, to explore and explain 30 of the most common childhood illnesses, injuries and general ailments from asthma to chickenpox, food allergies to hiccups.

On the day we got to see the lovely Dr Ranj and he seemed like such a great guy and given that he is a real life Paediatrician I'm sure that after this programme is aired kids aren't going to mind being treated by an all singing/ dancing Doctor! The people behind the idea of this programme spoke before we saw the trailer and one of the episodes and they were so passionate about the programme and it felt like something really new and different for the channel. I enjoyed the episode that we got to watch as it dealt with nose picking!!! Isla has been known to love a good rummage and even Noah is sticking his finger up his hooter already, so I was so pleased so hear Isla tell me that we shouldn't pick our nose because we could make it bleed - Hurrah, the message might have hit home!

We had a lovely morning, I desperately tried to get Isla to have her photo taken with Dr Ranj, but she was too shy! I also saw a couple of my childhood heroes - Trevor and Simon! I used to love them on Saturday morning TV (remember catch phrases, Swing Your Pants?/ We don't do duvets? Ummm, no? Ok just me then!) and it turns out that they are part of the writing team on the show which now I know that it makes sense as although this is a show for children, I laughed quite a bit too, it's the kind of humour that appeals to adults too. I would have loved to have got a photo with them, but like my daughter, I was also a bit star struck and couldn't pluck up the courage. Silly eh!

All in all we're looking forward to Get Well Soon on Cbeebies, it takes a factual but non scary approach to health matters that all children may encounter in their early years. Look out for it!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Me Time - Part 2 - Girls Mini Break!

Last weekend I had another bit of me time! I know, lucky me. Back in May, I had a brain wave to invite 3 of my good girlfriends away for a weekend break to the South of France. Our family have a little house there, so all we’d have to pay for was flight and car rental. Sweet. I asked the OH if he minded dealing with the kids for the weekend while I lounged by the pool, drank copious amounts of wine, ate cheese by the truckload, doubled my reading intake for this year and slept uninterrupted and he said that was fine. I *may* have said that he can have a similar weekend to this next spring.....hopefully his memory is short....
All in all it was a fabulous weekend. We did all the things mentioned above. Perhaps the amount of booze could have been reduced slightly (perhaps resisting the rum at the end of the evening) in order for us to actually come back from the weekend feeling rested but I guess it’s what you can expect when you let 4 mums (all with 2 kids each) loose. We chatted, read books, soaked up the sun, cooked, drank and RELAXED. It was just nice to do things at our own pace and without interruption. I wouldn’t change my life for the world and being away from my little family for 3 days did make me appreciate them so much on my return. However there’s nothing like taking time for yourself to for recharge your batteries. Happy days, and here’s hoping they’ll be some more me time soon! Thanks girls for a great time xx

Friday, 14 September 2012

Me Time - Part 1 - The Paraolympics!

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to go to the Paraolympic games with my sister, it was so lovely! I spent the whole day with her, us alone, able to talk and laugh and experience something that we'll never experience again in London. The kids were absent for the day, looked after by their grandmother and it was like old times.

Since watching the Olympic Games on TV I wanted to go to the Olympic Park and be 'part of it'. I'd seen nearly every person I knew post pictures on Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter of the iconic buildings in the Olympic Park and I wanted to do the same!! I also wanted to see some sport and be inspired by people who work so hard to be at their top of their discipline.

We had the best time, we did indeed take our photos in front of all the venues that we'd seen everyone else do!

We ate in the World's largest McDonald's. We quaffed a lovely glass of champers (thanks to the bar lady for the nice large champagne samples she gave us to help us decide which one we wanted!).

We saw some wheelchair tennis.

We lazed on the grass watching the action on the big screens.

We also realised that we hadn't done our fashion homework before coming to the Games, but took photos of those who had....

We spent a few bob in the shop on some nice new t-shirts.

We gossiped and laughed and had such fun. It was nice getting back to my roots, spending time with someone who I obviously spent a lot of time with when I was growing up and with whom nowadays I have scattered conversations, constantly interrupted by chattering, fun loving children. As much as we love family time, we loved reconnecting. Love you sis. x