Friday, 18 April 2014

Hot cross buns!!

I've been looking forward to doing this with the Aj's as I have never made Hot cross buns before, and I was interested in learning how to create the crosses and what they are made of.  On the morning Alyssa had had a terrible nights sleep, so was still in bed when we started, I decided the best thing to do was to make the dough first thing, then distract them with breakfast and getting dresed for the day whilst they were set aside to rise!

We started of by measuring out the flour and adding the butter, then I got Arthur to 'tickle' the flour to rub the flour and butter together, I also helped with this as well as it's quite hard for him to do. Then we added the other dry products, once he had had a chance to sell the spices.  Then he confidently mixed the wet ingredients into the flour and stirred it all together.  Having an electric scale I thought it would be a good idea to show him the numbers when weighing and get him to look for a five when weighing 50g etc to introduce some number recocnigtion, which he seemed to enjoy!

Once the dough was ready we had to roll the mixture into 8 balls, however Arthur wasn't very good at this as he was too interested in playing and stretching the dough rather than rolling it, but he was having fun so I just rolled all the others till all that was left was his one.

As i've said it was time for breakfast and getting dressed (and mummy to clean up) whilst the dough was rising then I mixed together the paste for the crosses, and helped Arthur squeeze the shapes out using a sandwich bag as a piping bag.  Then it was all down to Arthur to brush with the golden syrup, which I had warmed in the microwave for easier use.  During all this Alyssa was still asleep, in fact she was still asleep when they came out the oven so she missed the whole event.  She did however get to eat one of the buns for breakfast, so I think she planned it that way all along!  They were very very big however compared to the usual shop bought ones, so in future I may make double the amount, or just be greedy and have large ones!!

Adding the spices

"tickling the flour!"

Getting stuck in!

Mixing it all up and getting messy!
Adding the crosses!
We did take a picture of the finished buns, but it seems to have disapeared from the files, but theyy did look and taste great! I promise!

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Chocolate fun and a History lesson!

We are very lucky to have a local residents season pass for the Eden project, and for Easter they are having a chocolate festival,  the Aj's learnt lots about the history of chocolate and got to make their own chocolate bar!

First of we walked around the outside of the Biodomes, it's amazing that we have been three times now, and always find something different as little legs can't quite seem to cover the whole place in one day as there is so much to look at.  Tunnels to explore, giant bees made out of recycled materials and metal giants, as well as lots of very pretty plants and flowers, especially as Spring has sprung.

We then went to the Chocolate exhibition, where Arthur tried various strength chocolate from milk to dark, Alyssa had a little taste too.  We also looked at cocoa butter that Arthur enjoyed rubbing in his hands, and held cocoa beans and pods.  Alyssa's favourite part of this exhibition seemed to be the fake chocolate bunnies, she just kept giggling at them for ages bless her!

Then came the exciting bit, making our very own chocolate bar!!  We had a little wait in the queue, but were entertained by samples of chocolate (won me over!!) and a man showing us more cocoa beans and talking about them with us.  Once we got to the front we were given little moulds and some melted white and milk chocolate to do as we wanted with them.  I was very nervous that Arthur would just dig in and try and keep eating the chocolate, but he was very well behaved and spooned it into the mould carefully, whilst Alyssa was being helped by daddy.  It was then time for a bit of lunch in the sun whilst we waited for it all to set. 

Once they ate the chocolate it was off to the Tropical Biome to play the chocolate trading game, we were given six little tokens, that we had to swap two for a bit of gold with a Mayan, then Three and the gold with a Conquistador for a penny, then finally pay that penny to enter a 'coffee shop' where we got a ticket that we traded for some more chocolate!! It was so interesting to learn how valuable chocolate use to be compared to today,  at one point more valuable than gold, and that it use to be an important expensive drink sold only in coffee houses. 

Spotting the Biomes

Exploring Cocoa pods

Giving it a shake!

"Chocolate bunnies!"

"Cocoa butter!" (Expanding foam!!there was real stuff too!)

If only it was real chocolate!


"Quick before mummy want's a taste!"

Swapping tokens with Mayans

Getting a better view with Daddy

Playing some games

Alyssa's favourite game of the day!!
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Butterfly garden and Wrens

It's been a lovely sunny day today, so once the Aj's finished at nursery we all headed out to the field to see how the tunnel house is getting on and think about planting potatoes and onions in the field.  Once we arrived Grandad told us to visit the shed, where he had noticed a Wren had made a nest in some rope hanging on the wall.  It was very interesting to see a nest relatively up close, and interesting to see how they make the most of anything, I never would have thought a rope would make a good place for a nest!

Grandad was busy using the rotivator  to prepare the soil for the potatoes, and Arthur had a go at helping him to push it, but unfortunately the machine soon packed up for an unknown reason, and we were unable to plant.  It was a bit of a disappointment, but Alyssa had been having fun digging around in a little patch of soil, and Arthur soon busied himself with the ever so important task of watering the tunnel house.  It was nice to see that the strawberries are coming along and turning red already, and also the radishes are starting to poke up through.

Once home again we put some compost into some small tubs and sowed the seeds for our butterfly garden, it was lovely to see the Aj's working nicely together, taking turns adding compost, then seeds and finally watering.  All that is left for me to do now is print and laminate some little pictures of butterflies, to stick on lollipops to help the Aj's spot and identify some of the different types, as well as look up different foods that they like so when the time comes we can lay bits on a little tray for them.  We also had a little look at our Bug hotel, but as of yet we have no visitors, I guess it takes a while!

Wren's nest


Radishes looking good!

Dreaming of Strawberries and cream!

Digging away!

Looking thoughtful!

Watering the Strawberries

Potting the compost

Seed sprinkling!

Watering in the seeds

"Your turn Alyssa!"

Just have to wait for them to grow now!

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Veg plots and Potatoes!

After our recent illness, we enjoyed a much needed wonderful four day break with family!  Today was our first day back home, and there was lots of work to do!

Daddy has recently been starting off a load of seeds ready for our vegetable plot area, and it has finally come to the time off planting them out, the Aj's spent the morning 'helping' mummy tidy up and rogue weeds around the garden whilst daddy prepped the plot.  Then once the ground was prepared, and compost laid down it was time to start planting.  First this we did was give Arthur the honor of planting the lonely seed potato we found out the field recently, it may or may not provide potatoes, but it's a bit of fun for Arthur to learn how potatoes grow.

Then we moved onto planting the Sunflowers, one for each of us and granny and grandad in the end, so we are now having a little competition to see who's grows the tallest.  I have memories as a child of growing sunflowers and having the excitement of trying to get them to grow taller than me, so I am looking forward to seeing how Arthur reacts when they really take off! He loved helping make the holes in the ground for daddy, so he could plant them, then gently patted the earth down around them 'Putting them to bed!"

Next it was time to help daddy build a pea stick wig wam for the peas to grow against, Alyssa and Arthur had great fun passing the sticks in a line for daddy, and Arthur had the extra important jobs of holding the string for daddy too!

The only thing we have to do now is make sure Arthur doesn't walk all over the plants, which he has already done once, as he is so use to being able too as there has been nothing in there for so long, and cross our fingers, that something grows and we have a lovely crop!

Who knew this is where potatoes come from!!

Prepped for planting

ready to plant

In it goes "tuck into bed!"

Making holes

Daddy's little helper!

"to me, to you!"

Building a wig wam!

Planting peas!

Bit small still!

Alyssa exploring wood chip

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Foam Egg decorating

It has been a very tough week this week in the Aj household, we have all one by one succumbed to a Flu type virus, first daddy, then Arthur, then Alyssa then me!  As I write this I am still dosed up on cold/flu capsules and cough medicine, and to top it all off Alyssa received a new tooth, twelve teeth now in total for the little lady, which is very strange for me as Arthur was 14 months when he finally got his first tooth, which we think is why he is such a fussy eater at times!!

So whilst all of this was going on, the activities unfortunately had to go on hold and good old reading, movies, and playing amongst themselves with their toys were the entertainment, until yesterday!  Yesterday for the briefest of moments I felt well enough to organise an activity for them, which was desperately neeeded as daddy was suffering on the couch again and Arthur was becoming increasingly hyper and bored and thus frustrated and acting out. 

I recently bought some foam eggs from a £1 shop for some Easter craft fun, with the possible idea of creating an Easter tree style decoration with them once finished.  So with some ready cut sweet wrapper, my thrifty fave and excuse to eat lots of chocolates at Christmas, and some paints, and bamboo sticks and a cup to hold them, I let the chaos begin! 

Arthur covered one in glue, then said "Tadah! I finished!" I then had to explain it was glue not paint bless him! He then sped through painting the others so quickly that I was glad I only put out six, saving the rest for another day!  Alyssa ended up with a novel way of painting her eggs in the end, she cleverly ended up rolling the egg in her paint!!

They both seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to get creative and messy again after a big break, and so I left them to do some painting after, it soon got very messy, and the table soon got covered in paint as well as the usual hand painting.  Soon it was all cleaned up and tidied away, and mummy needed a nap to recover!!

Starting nice and clean!

Getting a bit over 'eggcited' (sorry!!)

Tongues out, must be concentrating!!

Doing a bit of sticking

"Egg cup!" (Sorry again!!)

Loving the marbling as it drips everywhere!

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tin can plant pots!

After seeing a recent picture on the internet of beautifully painted recycled tin cans, I was inspired!  I have been trying to make the garden a fun place for the children with a little Bug hotel nature area and dreams of a little weather station area and butterfly garden area.  And so I thought the idea of homemade plant pots made from recycled tin cans would be a great addition to making our garden brighter and more fun!

Once the children came home from nursery, as our usual trip to the tunnel house was cancelled due to Grandad needing to go to the dentist, we sat out in the garden the last of the days sunshine and painted the cans, Arthur ended up with two cans stacked  together so he could paint around it easier, and it was great fun to see Alyssa lunge forward and knock them over, although Arthur was not impressed. 

Once the tins were painted it was time to let them dry on the windowsill whilst we cooked tea.  All that is left for me to do is punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage and attach a bit of wire to hang them off the fence, then w can plant some lovely flowers in them! 

It's so lovely seeing how the garden has changed over the years since we first moved in nearly four years ago, the huge slope has slowly been flattened out to create useable areas, the rubble has slowly been removed to create a veg/herb plot and hopefully by the summer we will have some turf so we have some lovely green grass to play on bare foot in the sun, rather than spiky wood chip!!

Settled on the patio for a spot of painting!

Arthur does a balancing act

The finished masterpieces drying nicely!


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