Saturday, 29 December 2012

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt Review



CRITERION THEATRE: 6 December 2012 – 6 January 2013

So after our girls afternoon at Aladdin we followed it up by spending Christmas Eve back in London watching Peppa Pig's Treasure hunt with Aunty K and Cousin M. It was fab. The girls both love Peppa Pig and it was the perfect holiday time treat! 


In Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt Peppa Pig and her friends set off on a new adventure, a treasure hunt. Peppa, her brother George and friend Danny Dog get up to fun and games on a day out on Granddad Dog's boat. There are clues aplenty as Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra help them find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt features true-to-life puppets, sing-along songs and a story that will charm and delight all her fans. 


What did we think?
Well the girls loved it! It was a hit from the very beginning, they were shouting out, singing along, laughing and did the usual worried look when the interval started and said "it is coming back on, isn't it?". The puppets are great and the puppeteers are also good as they manage to convey the characters of the cast of Peppa Pig without being too obviously present on the stage. They also do a really good attempt at sounding like the characters, the girl speaking as Miss Rabbit did a good job of sounding mildly sarcastic! There are some funny moments when George cries and the audience get slightly wet with his tears. We also loved the bit when Peppa is on the beach looking in a rock pool and it all goes dark and then fluorescent starfish, jellyfish and seahorses come out - it felt really magical for the kids. 

The only human character is Daisy who brings the whole story together, talking to audience and helping Peppa and her friends find the clues to the treasure - which was lots of presents from Father Christmas. Father Christmas made an appearance on stage which was very exciting for the girls and everyone sang a rendition of Jingle Bells. 

We had such a lovely morning and it was a really nice way to spend Christmas Eve and start to feel the magic build up. Theatre trips with the kids at Christmas time really are a must! For tickets go to www.peppapiglive.com

Disclaimer: We were given 4 tickets to Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Aladdin - A Wish Come True - Review




The O2 launches new theatre space with first-ever holiday pantomime
- Theatre space set to further diversify attractions available at The O2 -
- New purpose-built theatre to debut this Christmas with Aladdin A Wish Come True -

This Christmas the O2 has staged its first-ever pantomime under the tent with Lily Savage leading an all-star cast production of Aladdin A Wish Come True in a new purpose-built theatre.

The performances between 7 December and 5 January 2013 will see the inaugural use of the theatre space at The O2. It has been created to further diversify attractions at the venue in addition to the world-class live entertainment already available.

Appearing by kind permission of Mr. Paul O’Grady, Lily Savage will perform as Widow Twankey on a proscenium arch stage in front of 1,900 seats adjacent to the bars and restaurants of The O2’s Entertainment Avenue. Former S Club 7 member Jon Lee will play as Aladdin with legendary theatre impresario Michael Rose producing the show.

Rebecca Kane, General Manager of The O2, said: “We are always thinking of new ways to add to and diversify the live entertainment available at The O2, appealing to the broadest ages and interests possible.  It is exciting to have a specially built, live theatre on site for Christmas 2012 and I can’t think of a better way to introduce it than with this classic British Pantomime.  It is a fantastic production with a super cast and, along with all of our other attractions here, such as our rooftop walk ‘Up at The O2’, our interactive museum – The British Music Experience and the vast choice of restaurants, the O2 provides a fantastic day out for everyone from across London and beyond.”

Michael Rose said, “Not only is it exciting to produce The O2’s first ever panto, it is an honour to be opening this new theatre space within The O2, which I am sure will be used to great success.  The range of theatre-based programming The O2 will now be able to offer will make this venue a true entertainment destination.”

What did we think?

Isla and I went together, we were all meant to go but Noah was poorly so stayed at home with Daddy. Isla loves a good show, so I had high hopes that she would love this one too. We arrived at the O2 (which we've been to before for In The Night Garden and loved it there) and collected our tickets with ease and entered the newly erected theatre tent. The staff were really friendly and we were able to leave the buggy in the foyer. Although it is a pop up theatre it had all the facilities and it was also very warm in there (almost too warm). It had all the usual refreshments to buy and a few promotional things - I got away lightly by only buying Isla a flashing ring for £2. 

We took our seats (it's worth mentioning that the seats aren't your usual theatre seats - they are the plastic ones you usually get in a music gig - but they've added a little cushion to try and make the performance more comfortable to sit through) and waited for the show to begin. And it began with a funeral in Birkenhead - not what you'd expect in a panto, but it set the story well. Widow Twankey is left a launderette in Old Peking in her late husbands will and from the land of the Scouser we are transported to the Orient! I loved Lily Savage in this production. I felt like this was a panto that appealed to adults and children - in fact I wasn't expecting to see groups of adults watching a panto without children - but it does happen it seems! The only thing I would say is that the bits that Isla (who is 3 and a half) didn't like were the bits where Lily Savage was doing her own solo bit - there was about 10 minutes of this at one point that I was thoroughly enjoying but Isla wasn't so bear this in mind. That said there was plenty that Isla did like about it!

Her favourite bit of all was the magic carpet scene where Aladdin seems to fly out above the audience, there were no obvious mechanics so she really did think it was flying. She also seemed to really like Aladdin, played by ex-S Club 7 band member Jon Lee and I have to say that his singing was superb! He was so enthusiastic and made a great Aladdin. The other great thing about the Panto were the references to other well known films/ songs that Isla could make a connection with. For example Aladdin and the Genie of Abanazar's ring sing a fabulous rendition of 'You got a Friend in Me' from Toy Story - a song that Isla loves. It was also obvious to me that Widow Twankey rather resembled Miss Hannigan from Annie and no sooner had I thought it the younger members of the cast in one of the scenes say 'We Love You Mrs Twankey' in the same way the orphans say it in Annie. Again this is another of Isla's favourite films and a show that we must see when I ever notice it touring!

All in all we had a very enjoyable afternoon. In summary the cast were great, including the children. The appearance of the Genie to Pink's 'Get the Party Started' was probably my favourite bit - great voice and staging. The dancing in the show was top notch. I'm a big Strictly Come Dancing fan and it tapped into that for me and helped me mourn the loss of it from my weekend! The orchestra were amazing - watch out at the beginning though for a very sudden blast from the brass instruments where Isla nearly jumped out of her skin! If you've still got some time on your hands over the holidays then I fully recommend a visit to this Panto, it's great for all the family.

Tickets for Aladdin A Wish Come True can be purchased via www.TheO2.co.uk


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Turkey Enchiladas - Recipe

Last week we were lucky enough to take delivery of an Asda Butcher's Choice Turkey! I've never cooked a whole turkey before, only turkey crown or breast, so I approached it with trepidation but decided that I'd just cook it like I do any roast dinner. We were also given an Asda gift card in order to get some bits to go with our turkey, so I got all the veg and the pigs in blankets, stuffing (forgot the cranberry sauce though!) and some mince pies for afters. I was really impressed with all the Christmas fare available when I went in store and especially impressed with the 'Extra Special' range, made in partnership with Leith's School of Food and Wine.

Once we got home from the supermarket I got cracking and put the turkey in the oven and prepped the veg. The turkey said it would feed 9 people so I knew that we would have plenty of left overs to make something else the next day.

So this is our turkey at the end of cooking and the dinner that we sat down to eat. The OH was very impressed - and he'd done a hard days work as a postman so a big roast was just what he needed! The turkey really was deliciously soft and tasty.




The following day I made Turkey soup, yeah I know not a very original use of turkey leftovers but it's the right time of year for soup, and I make it regularly when we have a left over chicken carcass. Recipe can be found here - just replace chicken with turkey. There was also enough turkey to make Enchiladas, which is great for a tasty lunch, here's my recipe:




Ingredients:

Leftover turkey - use enough turkey to feed two
2 Peppers, sliced into strips - I used yellow and orange
1 Red Onion, sliced into thin half moons
3 Garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of Lazy Chili
Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of Cumin
Half a teaspoon of Ground Coriander
390g Chopped Tomatoes
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1 Chicken Stock Cube with 100 ml of water

4 Flour Tortillas
75g of Cheddar Cheese
150ml Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Method:
  • Gently fry the peppers and onion in the olive oil until nice and soft, adding in the garlic after 5 minutes and the lazy chili, cumin and ground coriander once softened.
  • Add the turkey, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce and leave to simmer for 10 minutes - that's your Enchilada filling done
  • Place 1 tortilla in your oven dish and put some of the turkey filling in the centre. Fold the tortilla so that the filling is sealed. Repeat this with all four tortillas so that you have them all in the line, nice and snug.
  • Mix the Sour cream and cheese together and then spread over the top of the lined up tortillas. Put on a baking tray and place in the oven until nicely browned on the top and the filling is starting to bubble out the ends of the tortilla - about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with some nice salad - ENJOY
I've found this a great way to use up left over turkey. There are so many things you can do with the left over bird on Boxing Day - what would you do?

Thank you to Asda for sending us the turkey, gift card and a few other treats - including some really delicious 'Extra Special' Belgian  Marc De Champagne Truffles - pick some up if you can!



Monday, 17 December 2012

Getting Rid of The Dummy!



This week something big happened. Isla kicked her "Nummy" (her name for it) habit! It was a day that I couldn't see coming at all and it was meant to happen a year ago - Father Christmas was meant to take it in exchange for presents but it never happened, he was too busy delivering presents to stick to his guns on that threat. I remember in the early days of this blog writing about her Gummeeeee (as it was then called - it's gone through a few names changes!) and how at the age that Noah is now, she would call out in the night and we'd have to go in and replace it 5+ times). In recent times we'd whittled the dummies down from having about 8 in circulation to this one lone yellow number, that used to have a frog motif on the front. Isla would occasionally refer to the frog, saying sadly, "there's no frog here now Mummy". The number of times that we misplaced this one dummy and turned over the whole house trying to find it I couldn't count.

Dummy use was only for bed time and that had been the long standing rule for a good while. She had a dummy at nursery that she would use at nap times there, but that mysteriously got 'lost', yet she wouldn't struggle to nap there, so I felt that this was proof enough that the dummy was no longer needed - she didn't *need* it to get to sleep. I kept suggesting to her that she was a big girl and that she didn't need her nummy anymore, but with a glint in her eye she would always say "I do Mummy, I need it".

This week however the situation was taken out of my hands and Isla came to me with Nummy and told me it had a hole in! This was obviously making it a bit less effective and also from my point of view we couldn't keep using this thing with a hole in it - it would be a germ breeding ground (if it wasn't already). So I said as much to her and she looked slightly perturbed, but she didn't get really upset and whingey like she had in the past so I pressed the point that it couldn't be used and then the real clincher came when I said that if she gave up Nummy she could have a Barbie. Well that was that - Nummy was handed over and there was no argument. I couldn't quite believe it, I'd seized the opportunity and the habit was over.

AND YES I RESORTED TO BRIBERY. AND IT WORKED! I'M NOT ASHAMED!

She was pleased as punch and as luck would have it she went to bed that night without Nummy and was happy to wait until the morning for the presentation of Barbie! We had a Barbie in the cupboard which was one of her Christmas presents, it was a pretty inexpensive one and for the sake of getting rid of the Nummy it made one happy little girl and one happy mummy. I'm pleased that it's gone now as I knew that she was getting way too old for it and also I was sure that the dentist wouldn't be impressed. Although I am going to admit to feeling a small tinge of sadness as it was the final frontier of babyhood. The last thing that baby-fied her. Every evening in her pyjamas she would sit watching a bit of bedtime TV, with a cup of milk and her nummy and Sheepy and I'd hear her occasionally suck suck suck on it. Nummy has hardly been mentioned since, only to say that she's a big girl now and she doesn't need it and that the babies need it now. Go Isla!




Wednesday, 12 December 2012

How to Make a Christmas Snow Globe

The kids and I have made a few crafty things in the run up to Christmas - these Homemade Tree Decorations:

And also some salt dough decorations, which were fun to make so we got on a bit of a roll and I decided we'd be a bit ambitious and make a Christmas Snow Globe. This was made all the more exciting because it meant I would need a glue gun - something that is a must have for most crafters - so I think I've made it into the ranks now! hahahaha! 

What you will need to make a Christmas Snow Globe:

Materials with my Glamorous Assistant!

An empty clean glass jar with a secure lid
Enamel paint to paint the jar lid
A plastic Christmassy ornament - important to pick a material that won't perish in the water
Glitter
Glycerin - can be bought from pharmacy
Water
Glue Gun
Silicone

And one Glamorous Assistant!

Firstly Paint the Lid with the Enamel Paint - we chose Red!
We dried the lid with the hair dryer in order to speed up the process!
Add glue (using glue gun!) to underside of lid and attach Snowman.
Stick optional stars around the jar.
Fill jar with water!
Add Glitter - LOTS!
Add Glycerin - just a dash - to thicken the water and
make the glitter float and swirl around better!
Then screw on your lid and seal up the jar using silicon
 (the stuff that you would use to seal round baths) - smooth it round neatly
and then leave the jar with your  Snowman upside down overnight, to ensure silicone dries and seals
In the morning turn over your snowglobe and check that it's not leaking!
Add a pretty ribbon to the bottom and give it a good shake and watch the magic!
This will make a fab Christmas gift for the Grandparents! 


Tots100 Experience Days Competition

Friday, 7 December 2012

It's Not All Sunshine and Flowers...

Sometimes this blog can paint a picture of a fantastic family life. We did this, we did that, we did crafty stuff, we baked, we laughed so much etc etc. However life isn't always like that behind the scenes. I like to write about the happy stuff as for me this blog is more about being a diary of my kids lives and the fun we have but I forget sometimes that it can be an outlet for me to channel some thoughts. Today I feel like shit. I look like shit and I've behaved in a rather shitty way.

This week I've been really busy at work and I have a slightly tricky project on that is putting me on edge all day long. I've worked on my afternoon off which has severely annoyed me as this is my only time during the week with the kids. I also worked all evening that day making me no fun as a partner in the evening. Two out of two for being a crap mum and crap wife there. Then I couldn't even enjoy the kids nursery Christmas show for (a) someone calling me re work knowing I had booked time off to be at the show and (b) some other work crisis (that wasn't actually a crisis but tell that to your client) that someone at work very kindly helped me with.

So this morning I NEEDED to get to work on time to sort out this project that is getting me down. Isla and I get out the front door (her with a banana and her morning milk in her hands, me with laptop on my back) to make the mad dash in the buggy to nursery so I can shove her through the nursery door with a quick kiss and then run to get my train. Only this doesn't happen. We get 5 mins up the road and this happens:

"My sheep, my sheep!"
"WHAT?!"
"Where's Sheepy?"
"seriously Isla Mummy is going to be late, do you really need Sheepy today?"
Face looks really unhappy and sad "yeeees I do"
"FOR GOD'S SAKE, NOW I'LL BE LATE, YOU NEED TO KEEP HOLD OF YOUR THINGS ETC ETC" marching back to the house.

I carry on shouting, hunting for the sheep while Isla stands bewildered. I say LOOK FOR IT THEN!!! But she doesn't know where. She probably can't think for me ranting and raving. This goes on for 5 minutes, I go upstairs twice. My mother in law looks too and Noah has no idea what's going on. Then she chooses another sheep and we go.

I continue to have steam coming out of my ears. At the end of our road I see a little grey lump, on the pavement, it looks like Sheepy. It is Sheepy. How had I walked past this while stomping back home?! We pick it up, both relieved. We get 1 minute up the road and I start to cry while tearing along with the buggy. I've missed my train, so the hurry isn't that great as I have plenty of time till the next one. I'm now hurrying because I want to get to nursery to properly say sorry and give my beautiful girl a hug and a kiss. I feel like one terrible mum.

And I can say I've felt like this all day. Brimming with tears and hardly talking all day. I'm not going to make excuses but I feel like I'm packing too much in, and I think with my Dad in hospital at the moment for treatment I also have that in my mind. He isn't too bad but I worry about him and my mum and I don't think I'm much support for them either. I'm looking forward to a weekend spent out of work and immersed in my family. I love this time of year and I really don't want to feel too stressed to enjoy it and end up barking at everyone. I know we all have these kinds of days, I just felt this time it was worth getting it out as a reminder of what's important and also so you can see that my reality isn't always sunshine and flowers.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Activity Superstore - Champagne Afternoon Tea Review


If you're stuck for ideas for Christmas presents for your friends and family then look no further than Activity Superstore. I also think it's a brilliant 'lazy' option, no need to trudge out the door in the freezing cold and scour the high street, just turn on the laptop and order a gift experience for your nearest and dearest!

I was lucky enough to sample one of the many treats that Activity Superstore has to offer, a Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at the Park Lane Hotel and it was blooming lovely, blissing out in the calm tranquil surroundings of the Palm Court, sipping champagne and gorging on eating dainty sandwiches and delicious cakes whilst a harpist played in the background. The Park Lane Hotel is situated close to Green Park station so very easy to get to and perfect for a bit of relaxation after hitting the shops in London's West End. 

The OH and I enjoyed this treat so much as we'd been here some years ago in our early years of dating and so it was a nice reminder of how we need to take some time out to enjoy eachother's company more away from the children every now and then. The hotel was decorated from head to toe with Christmas trees and gorgeous decorations it really made me feel that the holiday season was in full swing.

So what does a champagne afternoon tea in London in the Art Deco surroundings of the Park Lane Hotel involve, apart from the obvious champagne.....? On arrival you are served with a glass of Mumm champagne and offered the tea menu. We're really boring when it comes to tea and we chose English Breakfast tea - nothing beats a cup of builders! Then we were served with a selection of delicious sandwiches, followed by some warm scones with the obligatory jam and clotted cream but also the most delicious lemon curd I've ever tasted! As if that wasn't enough we also followed up the scones with 2 fine french pastries each that we could choose from a selection. I chose a delicious passion fruit and coconut number and another little cake that I forget the name of. OH chose a chocolate cake and a pannacotta. All were exquisite. We were so pleasantly full after that lot that if we didn't have to get back to pick the kids up from nursery then we would have easily have sat in the Palm Court for another hour and indulged in another glass of champagne.

The surroundings are relaxed and the staff are attentive enough and make you feel very special. I think this is the ideal kind of present for the person who has everything. These kinds of gifts are memorable and taking time out for yourself these days is a very rare thing. The Afternoon Tea for two at The Park Lane Hotel will set you back £79, but in my opinion it would be worth every penny as a treat for your nearest and dearest - it's something I will be considering doing for my parents when my Dad finishes his cancer treatment in the not too distant future.


Thank you Activity Superstore for letting us have this enjoyable experience, all views and opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Great Disney Princess Stocking Fillers!



Isla's weekend has mostly comprised of walking round with a little pink drawstring bag with all her new 'treasures' in it. They are in and out of the bag all day long, they all come out, get lined up on the table then they all go back in. I've found that Isla loves having collections of lots of little things, and if they're Princess 'things' then all the better! Yesterday morning I surprised her with some Disney Princess gift sets and that's what I'm referring to here. 



The stuff that was within these gift sets was enough to make Isla say 'WOW' a lot. With every new discovery of a lip balm or hair glitter or hair slides there was extreme excitement. Here she is getting stuck in to the Cinderella Lip balm. This needed to be surgically removed from her lips by the end of the day.... I'm joking but she must have the softest lips in Surrey! This is what we received and what we thought.....



Shimmer and Sparkle Set
This super value box set includes a clear shimmer lip balm, a glitter hair mascara wand, a heart ring and a mini diamante tiara. A mix of three designs and colours are available featuring your favourite Disney Princess characters, Ariel, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Available from October at Asda, Boots, Sainsbury’s and Superdrug, RRP £4.00.

We had the Rapunzel gift set. The hair glitter and lip balm were the real hits in this pack - we all had to have hair glitter - mummy, daddy, Noah and Nanny Helen! At first the hair glitter wand caused a little bit of confusion as it looks like a mascara brush and Isla often sees me applying this to my eyes so I did have to do a bit of a pep talk about not putting it near her eyes, after that we were good to go though.

Shimmer Lip Balm with Clips
Available in three Disney Princess-inspired designs including Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel. The set features a moisturising shimmer lip balm available in three fragrances including berry crush, blueberry and honey peach along with two pink sparkle heart hair slides. Available from October at Asda and Boots, RRP £2.50.

We had the Cinderella version of this. As you can see from the photo, she loved the Lip Balm, she was smothered in it! She also got me to put the hair clips in straight away.

Ballroom Beauty Essentials
Available in three Disney Princess-inspired designs including Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel, each bag contains a signature Disney Princess hand mirror, a plastic heart shaped ring, either berry crush, blueberry or honey peach fragranced bath bubbles and a glitter hair mascara wand. Available from October at Asda, Boots and Sainsbury’s, RRP £7.00.

We received the Ariel version of this gift set. This was a big favourite - the bag now contains the goodies from all the gift sets. She also loves rings and I think we have hundreds of them all over the house, so it's always good to have a few more to replace the mislaid ones.

Bath time Pamper set
The Princess Bathtime Pamper Set contains everything your Princess will need to pamper herself. The set includes a summer fruits fragranced bubble bath, two glitter bath fizzers, bath confetti, a mini tiara, a heart shaped ring and two heart gem hair bobbles! Available in Asda this Christmas | RRP £6.00

We received the Ariel version of this gift set. We had to use the bubble bath this morning (as well as the bath fizzers in the set below) - the bottles are really cute - because it was Isla's gift she insisted on putting it in the bath and getting her to have her bath was no problem at all.



Cinderella’s Bathtime Dressing-Up Set
Spend bath time creating the perfect outfit for Cinderella with her Bathtime Dressing up set. With 3 interchangeable wet and stick dresses there is an outfit for every princess occasion. This set also includes three glittering Fizzy Bath Hearts which create a sweet smelling aroma when dropped into the bath.
Available in Boots this Christmas | RRP £5.00

This has been a real hit! But....it did cause problems in the bath because Noah kept taking the dressing up pieces when Isla was trying to do them. He's in a real 'mine' and snatchy phase, so she got a bit fed up, but once he got out she played with them for ages, making all 3 Cinderella's in no time, sticking them to the side of the bath. The Fizzy Bath Hearts had to be used in one bath, I couldn't refuse her happy face as she kept plopping them in. 

Most of these bits and pieces are sold in Boots, which means that they're in the brilliant Christmas 3 for 2 offer that Boots run at Christmas time, and you also get to earn advantage points. All items are appropriate for children aged 2 - 5 years and I think would be a real hit as stocking fillers on Christmas Day judging by the reaction from Isla to all the loot this weekend....she's currently badgering me to have ANOTHER bath with her new bath fizzers....so see you later.


For further information on H&A’s tried, tested and trusted toiletries, cosmetics and gifts, including stockists, please visit www.handa-uk.com


We were sent all these items free of charge, but all opinions are my own and honest.

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday