Learning to sew

 

It started back at Christmas, ‘Mum can I have a sewing machine please?’ but with one thing and another we just couldn’t add it to the already bursting gift list so, it rolled over to her birthday and for a very long time now Alice has been quietly reminding me, ‘I’d really love a sewing machine mum for my birthday.’ So I thought, why not?

When a child expresses such a deep desire, and we all know they can fizzle out from one moment to the next, maybe we should jump on that train and see where it takes them?

A recent trip to Hobbycraft sealed the request because as we walked into the store we were greeted by a wall of colourful sewing machines, from incy wincy ones right through to professional models. Alice spotted one and fell in love.

Pink. That was all it took.

For once, I was really excited about giving the girls their birthday gifts this year. They have never been huge on lists or knowing what they wanted (unless it is a mobile phone which is still a no) but this year Alice had requested and we had listened.

Watching her open her gift and seeing the joy on her face was a moment I shall remember forever. How could my little girl want a sewing machine?

Along with her sewing machine for kids, I had also wrapped up a Sewing for Beginners book and some fat quarters to get her started.

sewing machine for kids

 

She was itching to begin but life, being what it is, got in the way. It wasn’t until almost a week after her birthday that we finally got the box open and Alice started to sew.

I started her off with some pieces of felt and guided her to use the machine, running different sized stitches up and down, getting used to how the machine works, threading the needle, catching the bobbin underneath and sewing backwards and forwards.

I could see she wanted to move on to making something so we worked out how to make a bag and off she went again. We saw our mistakes and learnt from them and I have a feeling everyone in the family may be receiving handmade gifts this Christmas.

This is an ongoing project and one I know I will have to find the time to be hands on with to help her but I shall find the time, as I know how much this means to her and when your child finds a passion I think you should do everything to make sure it stays alive – move over Coco Chanel, there’s a new lady on the block…

Disclosure: I approached Hobbycraft asking them if they would like to work with me on Alice’s wish list. They sent the beautiful PINK sewing machine pictured in return for this review. All words and thoughts are my own and I want to thank them for making Alice’s dream come true. You can buy one too from around £50

Boss baby review

You can tell it’s the summer holidays as the weather has turned! Typical isn’t it, months of glorious sunshine and hot sunny days and now the kids are home it gets cold and starts to rain.

No fear here guys, we were sent a copy of The Boss Baby DVD to review and it’s perfect family viewing. This is just what you need to pull out of the bag on a bad day (or even a good one for that matter!)

The Boss Baby Review

Boss-Baby-Maze

Well, it’s a comedy. It’s about the new arrival of a baby in the home and Tim Templeton, the older brother who is now 7 and should be in charge, starts to lose his temper when the new baby brother – who wears a suit and carries a briefcase – starts making it very clear he is in charge.

Tim goes on to discover his baby brother is on a secret mission and ends up teaming up with him. together they go on an awesome adventure that might change the world…

Who’s in it?

The baby is Alec Baldwin and other famous voices you are likely to hear are from Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Miles Bakshi and Tobey Maguire.

If you are interested, keep your eyes peeled for the THE BOSS BABY SPECIAL EDITION out on Blu-ray™ and DVD on July 31 which includes some great special features like the new Mini Adventure; a 3-minute action-packed journey through time featuring Boss Baby and Tim. Join the fun as Boss Baby and Tim battle pirates, travel through outer space, swim deep into the sea, and go toe-to-toe with some ferocious dinosaurs! Other special features include “Cookies are for Closers: Inside BabyCorp,”  Deleted Scenes and more!

DreamWorks Animation’s THE BOSS BABY is available now on Digital DownloadBlu-ray and DVD, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. 

Download the fun attachments below to stretch the fun even further.

 

Boss baby review

camping at chessington with the brownies

One of the highlights of the past year for the twins has been going to Brownies on a Tuesday evening. They are in a group of around 20 – 30 girls and under the watchful eyes of three owls (Tufty, Eagle and Little) they get up to all sorts of activities including, craft, singing and playing football. Each term they work towards a new badge – much to my delight when it comes to sewing them on – and now one arm of their jackets is more or less covered!

At the beginning of the year, forms were sent to the parents talking of an annual camping at Chessington trip along with the other Brownie groups and the Guides in July. There was a lot of excitement in the house and dad and I knew it was a ‘must’ for the girls, plus it was planned for the weekend just before their birthday so would go nicely into being part of their present.

As the time drew closer, kit lists were sent out and dad and I realised this was proper camping! We were going to have to learn how to make bedrolls and make them easy enough for the girls to carry.

Girl Guiding does its best to keep costs to a minimum and there wasn’t going to be a lot of kit that needed to be bought but a few bits that sprung to mind were, a mattress to roll the sleeping bags on, a thermal mug to drink hot chocolate around the camp fire and a torch for the midnight feast of course!

Who do you turn to with any camping related question – Millets of course! I told them what we needed and the important reason  – Brownie Camping trip to Chessington – and they were delighted to help out; camping is their forte.

camping mattresses

They sent along two fabulous mattresses and we practised rolling and unrolling our bedrolls (something that will need practising again before next year, apparently there were a few tears walking back to the coach on Sunday with a bedroll that kept on unravelling…)

thermal camping mug

They also gave us two thermal mugs which were nice and light to carry and did the job perfectly according to the twins (only the hot chocolate wasn’t very nice mummy)

small torch

And lastly, two torches which were small and light. Now, I spent a lot of time telling the girls to look after these torches and showing them a special pocket on the rucksack PERFECT to put them in so we wouldn’t lose them but of course, one twin came home without hers. *sigh*

Dad and I dropped two VERY excited little girls off on Saturday morning at 7.30am and collected two very happy but shattered little girls on the Sunday at 4 pm. We did our best to get some conversation from them; just an idea of how it went, what they got up to but they were so tired we got barely anything other than, ‘It was great, can we go again next year?’

Bedding roll for camping

They had a lot of fun and if you are contemplating your little ones going I would whole heartedly say yes, send them as it’s a life memory and fantastic for confidence building. Bessie said she went on all of the rides whereas before departure she was sure she wouldn’t be doing some of them.

Thank you very much Millets for coming to our rescue with all of our camping equipment. I think we did very well only losing one torch considering what could have gone missing!

Disclosure: Millets sent us the products mentioned above for the purpose of this post – all opinions are my own and Brown Owl is writing a long list of necessities for next year ;)

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

Taking the books on holiday!

I love the fact that the twins are passionate about reading and I am so proud that they are so good at it! They are currently on Ruby level which is an excellent place to be and reading helps with their spelling, English lessons and comprehension. It also helps with all of the other subjects too, the comprehension, the writing and the revision when the time comes.

After a disastrous Year 4 (4 changes of teacher in 1 year!) we shall be pleased to see the back of it but I do feel it is more important than ever to keep the girls ticking over during the summer and reading is the perfect way to keep them amused and up to date. Bonus for me that it won’t be a hardship, maths, well maths will require the patience of a saint this summer…

There are so many fantastic books out there that when Harper Collins asked if we’d like to review some titles for them I jumped at the chance. The good news is, the books were all so good (sent just before last half term) that I’m going to have to go out and buy some more. Fortunately, many of the titles below were the first book in a series, so I know exactly what to buy them!

The girls are working their way through them,  here’s what they had to say…

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first book that Alice chose out of the six we were sent to review and she couldn’t put it down. Bessie is reading it at the moment.

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.” 

Harriet knows a lot of things, all sorts of things but she doesn’t know why nobody seems to like her at school. This is one of children’s greatest fears: not being liked by their school friends. It can cause great upset and reading about another child’s take on the situation helps in understanding how they can get on more.

Harriet goes into modelling, which of course isn’t going to be everyone’s way out of the problem. In fact, it doesn’t help Harriet much either as the reader will find out. So it’s up to Harriet to look for another alternative and that’s where the can’t-put-the-book-down syndrome kicks in.

Alice says: I really loved this book and want to read the others now.

Blink and you die – Ruby Redfort

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Redfort: undercover agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius – you can count on her when the ice starts to crack.

All good things come to an end… Ruby Redfort is running scared, a whole bunch of people want her dead and worst of all one of them is on her team. But just who is this agent of doom?

You can run, Ruby, but you can’t hide…

Alice says: I couldn’t get into this book so I have put it to one side to try later on.

Scarlet and Ivy, The Lights Under The Lake – Sophie Cleverly

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet and Ivy’s school trip takes a turn for the worse as another mystery begins to unfold…

The fourth book in the SCARLET AND IVY series is perfect for fans of MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE.

It’s summer and as a special treat after the horrors of last term Mrs Knight announces a school trip to Shady Pines Hotel on the shores of Lake Seren. Scarlet and Ivy are thrilled to get away from Rookwood for a break!

But the old hotel and the waters of the lake reservoir are covering up dark secrets. And when mysterious things start happening to hotel guests it seems that a malicious new threat is haunting the girls.

Locals say that at night you can hear the ringing of the church bells and see lights under the lake, that troubled souls buried in the flooded graveyard no longer rest…

Bessie’s first pick. she says: I really  loved this book and want to collect the others now too.

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.

Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch, you’ll love this too!

Bessie says: This was really funny and I really enjoyed it.

Radio Boy – Christian O’Connell

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice read this book and loved it, see what she has to say …

From leading breakfast radio star Christian O’Connell comes a brilliant and laugh-out-loud story of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret radio show. (Broadcast from his shed.)

Meet Spike, aka Radio Boy: a new Adrian Mole on the radio for the internet generation.

Spike’s your average awkward 11 year old, funny and cheeky and with a mum to reckon with. When he becomes the first presenter ever to be sacked from hospital radio, he decides to carry on from a makeshift studio in the garden shed, with the help of his best friends Artie and Holly, disguising his voice and going by the moniker Radio Boy.

Week by week, word gets around and soon Spike is a star… if only people knew it was actually him. When Spike begins to believe his own hype, and goes too far with his mocking of the school headmaster, a hunt is launched for the mysterious Radio Boy.

Can Spike remain anonymous? Will he get to marry the girl of his dreams, Katherine Hamilton? Will he become famous and popular? The answer to most of these questions is no…

Alice says: Such a good book, it made me laugh a lot and I couldn’t put it down.

Goodly and Grave in a bad case of kidnap – Justine Windsor

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An archly funny, classic mystery adventure with a magic twist!

Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home – and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy is determined to find out…

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the great Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, master of dirty tricks and burglary (in the name of the greater good, of course).

Oh yeah. And dead.

Then there’s his sidekick, Stephanie. She’s… well, she’s a twelve-year-old girl. With a pair like this on the case, evil had better watch out…

“So you won’t keep anything from me again?”
He put his hand to his chest. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Okay then. Though you don’t actually have a heart,” she said.
“I know.”
“And technically, you’ve already died.”
“I know that too.”
“Just so we’re clear.”

Stephanie’s uncle Gordon is a writer of horror fiction. But when he dies and leaves her his estate, Stephanie learns that while he may have written horror, it certainly wasn’t fiction.

Pursued by evil forces intent on recovering a mysterious key, Stephanie finds help from an unusual source – the wisecracking skeleton of a dead wizard.

When all hell breaks loose, it’s lucky for Skulduggery that he’s already dead. Though he’s about to discover that being a skeleton doesn’t stop you from being tortured, if the torturer is determined enough. And if there’s anything Skulduggery hates, it’s torture… Will evil win the day? Will Stephanie and Skulduggery stop bickering long enough to stop it? One thing’s for sure: evil won’t know what’s hit it.

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

A lovely selection of great books that will keep tweens hanging on for more, why not invest in a couple or see if your local library has them?

Disclosure: Harper Collins sent us through these books to read for the purpose of this post, we would really recommend them to you

Black Forest ice cream with Fabbri

As ice creams go I think Black Forest ice cream sums up a delectable combination of chocolate, ice cream and of course cherries. But what if I said Amarena? Would you know what I was talking about?

Allow me to indulge for a moment.

Amarena are the most exquisitely delicious cherries in a thick syrupy sauce that are used widely in Italy in desserts but also in many other recipes like, bruschetta with gorgonzola and amarena Fabbri drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Now that idea to me sounds heavenly and one I shall certainly try sooner or later.

But let’s get back to amarena. When I first moved out to Italy I was 19 and had lived a relatively normal life in Kent with the annual holiday to my grandparent’s apartment in Mallorca. I was wet behind the ears but with a great passion to learn and understand. My boyfriend Enrico, lived in the mountains and together with his family he ran a hotel; a hotel that had been in the family for almost 100 years (we celebrated the centenary in 2002).

I used to wait in the bar of the hotel in the evening whilst he was working, I would speak with his friends and slowly, slowly I learnt to speak Italian and they became my friends too. In that time I also had a glimpse into this new life and, whilst spending my evenings in the bar talking and playing cards, my eyes would always be drawn towards one very prominent vase on the shelf in the ice cream area. It was white with blue swirls on it and the word Fabbri.

My curiosity got the better of me (always a good idea) and I discovered it contained cherries in syrup called amarena so, me being me, I was curious to see what they tasted like….

Oh boy! Shall we say first taste and I was hooked.

More recently I was asked to a wonderful evening by Ciao Gusto where all of my favourite Italian brands were displayed and used for the meal we were invited to eat. I was sent a Ciao Gusto hamper later and amongst all of the wonderful products, I found a vase of Fabbri amarena. Can you imagine my delight?

Oh how I enjoyed them and when I learnt I could buy them from the Ciao Gusto shop at Ocado, it was like a dream come true.

If only to have a pretty blue and white vase on your kitchen shelf – which will soon be empty, trust me – I would highly recommend you buy some Fabbri amarena and taste these special cherries for yourself

Black Forest Ice Cream

Black Forest ice cream mix

Mixing the chocolate cake with the Fabbri amarena

Black Forest ice cream mix

The Sage ice cream maker working its magic on the ingredients…

5.0 from 1 reviews
Black Forest Ice Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Black Forest Ice cream takes the traditional ingredients for the world famous cake and presents them in a delicious ice cream suitable for all of the family.
Author:
Recipe type: ice cream
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • ½ pint of double cream
  • 1 x 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g Fabbri amarena cherries
  • 90g chocolate cake crumbled
Instructions
  1. Mix the condensed milk, cream and vanilla essence in a jug and place in the fridge to cool.
  2. Place the mixture in the Sage ice cream maker and start to churn.
  3. Tip the cherries into a bowl and smash with a spoon, add the crumbled chocolate cake and mix well.
  4. When the ice cream maker signals to add the mix ins add the cherry mixture.
  5. Once completed, it's ready to eat or place in the freezer for later.

The Ciao Gusto shop on Ocado is the easiest way to order your authentic Italian products all in one place. With an amazing selection of products; some famous names and some new gems to discover. Find out more here: Italian Shop. Or, visit the Ciao Gusto website where you’ll also find more information and history behind all of their brands and a host of wonderful, season recipes too.