Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Lemon Victoria Sandwich

This is the best cake ever. I'm not lying to you.  I know it doesn't look much on the photo above, and I did meant to take a better shot of it cut up on a plate, but well, we ate it and I'm not going to apologise for that.

This cake is a bit of a hybrid. It's basically this recipe (which is my standard and works very well) but with a few add-ins, mainly lemon and the method tweaked slightly.

It worked turned out perfect and Mr M said it was the best cake I've ever made. Not a crumb was left and the kids enjoyed it too. I was actually sad when it was all gone so I may make another this weekend.

Lemon Victoria Sandwich


For the cake;
200g caster sugar
200g butter, softened
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
2tbsp milk
juice of 1/2 lemon

For the filling;
100g butter, softened
140g icing sugar, sifted
drop of vanilla extract
jar of lemon curd
icing sugar for sifting over the cake


Preheat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottom with non-stick baking parchment.

Put the softened butter and caster sugar in a bowl (or mixer) and beat together well.   Add two of the eggs, a few drops of the vanilla extract, lemon zest and half the flour.  Beat well to combine.  Add the last two eggs along with the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the milk.  Beat again to combine the ingredients. If the mixture is a little stiff you make like to add a little lemon juice.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, leveling off with a spatula or spoon.  Place the tins in the oven and bake for around 25 minutes until golden and the sides of the sponge have come away from the side of the tin slightly. The cake is ready when the sponge springs back with you press it lightly. Leave the cake to completely cool in the tins.

To make the filling;  beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.  Spread the butter cream over the top of one of the sponges and spread the lemon curd over the other sponge.  Sandwich the two halves together and dust a little icing sugar over the top.

A note about the lemon, I've said add the zest of 1 lemon but this is purely down to taste. If you want it less lemony use less or if you want more of a lemony hit feel free to use two lemons! Totally up to you.  I'd also use the best quality lemon curd you can find, the cheap stuff doesn't really cut the mustard and you don't want to ruin a perfectly good sponge with inferior lemon curd now do you?

I made this using my KitchenAid stand mixer (as I do for the majority of my baking), however it works equally well by hand, it's just harder work!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Review: Cadbury World

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Superbreak who asked if I'd like to review Cadbury World in Birmingham with my family. Erm, chocolate? Of course I would!  Even better, I unwittingly planned it for the Easter weekend - what better way to spend Easter huh?

Cadbury World has changed somewhat since I last visited as a child in the early 1990's, for starters there are no Creme Egg cars outside anymore, but it's clear to see that a lot of money has been invested in the attraction and it well-organised with helpful staff.  There was a slight delay with entering the actual attraction but a member of staff was on hand to keep the queue moving whilst giving us a bit of background information about Cadbury World.  When we did get to the front of the queue (after passing a sign about the use of Heely's at Cadbury World that amused me) we were given the chocolate - four Crunchies and four CurlyWurlys. Good move Cadbury World, this pleased the children no end and certainly gets the "when are we getting chocolate" part out of the way!

The exhibition - a self-guided tour, which you need to allow around three hours for, follows a one-way system and is designed so you can enjoy it at your own pace, spending as much time as you want in the various zones.  This is a good thing since as soon as we entered Zone 1: The Aztec Jungle my children were climbing up my body. It was rather dark and noisy in that section which frightened my children a little so we didn't hang around too long though a very nice member of staff made a fuss over them which made them feel a bit better! I suspect she's seen many a spooked child!  The next zones are Zone 2: The Journey To Europe, Zone 3: Bull Street and Zone 4: The Cadbury Story - all about how chocolate first came about and how Bourneville was founded. I found this interesting but it was obviously over my children's head and not particularly exciting for them although they did enjoy watching the little films.

Zone 5: Chocolate Making which is a small special effects cinema which was lots of fun. There are warnings before hand that things might "move" so if you're of a delicate disposition you might want to sit at the back where nothing moves. It's not scary, the kids found it fun but I jumped a couple of times!  Next was Zone 6: Manufacturing and Zone 7: The Packaging Plant where we were given yet more chocolate!  Cadbury World is not a factory tour and therefore you can't walk through the plan but you can see a little of the equipment that is used. The packaging plant is not always operational and you are told at the entrance whether it's open or not. It was open on our visit and my son was fascinated by it. He loved to watch the chocolate bars getting wrapped and whizzing down the conveyors by the hundreds to be packed into boxes.

We then headed into Zone 8: Cadbara and hopped into a Beanmobile, a small car to you. This was a nice gentle ride through a little wonderland of chocolate characters and was perfect for small children. I think my two would have liked to stay in that car all day but we all to quickly had to move on to Zone 9: Demonstration Area where you could have a go at writing your name in chocolate. I decided it was best to refrain from this particular activity as it wasn't designed for eating and I couldn't be certain my three year old wouldn't start licking the table. Instead I watched a woman decorating chocolate shoes with my daughter. We were both amazed at how neat and quick she was.


 The amazing shoe-decorating-lady

After that we were into Zone 10: Advertising where we saw that old favourite Roses advert (thank you very much, thank you very very very much...) and then Zone 11: Purple Planet which was oodles of fun - digital and interactive delights. We all had fun trying to catch the balls (as pictured below) and my daughter could barely be torn away from the "magic floor" as she called it.   

 "Catching" some balls

 The "magic floor"

This is kind of the end of the tour and where you end up in the gift shop (of course!) with the opportunity of buying yet more chocolate, which of course we did before heading outside to the playground. My kids had seen this from the windows upstairs so were desperate to get out there and play, can't blame them it was one of the hottest days of the year so far!  We had lots of fun out there before heading into Zone 12: Essence.  This attraction is easy to miss but DON'T. You get warm liquid chocolate in a pot with a treat of your choice. We opted for shortbread whilst the kids had mini marshmallows. Mmmmm.  Also out here is Zone 13: The Bourneville Experience which I found really interesting.  The history surrounding how Bourneville village itself and what the Cadbury family did for the area came is quite fascinating.

Outside play area

Warm molten chocolate!

Our verdict? Cadbury World is a fun trip out for the whole family, there is something for everyone from the very young to the much older!  I've seen other reviews where people have complained about having to queue, we didn't experience this which I think is down to having one of the earliest time slots available - which I would definitely recommend. Also another thing I would say is that is certainly not a whole "day out" and it would be well worth looking for other local attractions to split up your day with if you are traveling into the area specially as the whole experience will take you three hours, tops.

Cadbury World is easy to reach via the M42 and M5 with ample parking and luckily I live nearby but if you're outside the local area you might like to check out some Birmingham hotels or book yourself  a Cadbury World Short Break with Superbreak.

With thanks to Superbreak for providing the opportunity to review this attraction.
love & kisses
Mrs M x

Movie Meme...Horror

I must admit when I saw the theme for this weeks movie meme over at Metal Mummy I did wonder if I'd have anything to add. Horror - and particularly ones that scare you. Well thats flippin' easy, they all do! I avoid horror films at all costs. Whilst I want to see them and enjoy them at the time they give me nightmares. Proper nightmares. I obviously have no control over these so I deal with them by just avoiding horror movies which is a shame because I do love a bit of blood, guts and gore.

I've seen some old 80's horror films but the last time I saw a horror movie was in the 90's - right in the slasher-movie boom when we were spoiled for choice with films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Okay I'll admit, it's not just nightmares. Scenes from horror movies tend to stick in my mind much to my friends hilarity. You know Drew Barrymore's boyfriend on the patio in Scream? Yes, I often think I am going to see that happen. In Scream 2 when they guy is in the toilet cubicle at the cinema? Yes, I'm always wary when entering quiet toilets and even more ridiculous is the fact that before I get into my car when it's dark I check the back seats and the boot (it's an estate car) because of this film.

Urban Legend. This film came out when I was 18 so you can see why it might appeal to me.

Didn't you just love an Urban Legend when you were younger? Bloody Mary, lovers lane, killer in the backseat...

Arrggh! I'll be having nightmares all over again! (That scary dude above was actually the voice of Chucky in Childs Play too fact-finders).

So there it is Urban Legend, my choice for this weeks meme. I did enjoy it, honest, in a freaked out kind of way. I am of course in no way vouching for this film or saying you should watch it but I guess if you've not seen it and you liked those films from the Scream era you'd probably like this.

What's your favourite horror movie? or do you avoid them like me?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 25 April 2011

Product Review: Rapunzel Tower Tent

After Tweeting about going to see Tangled recently as I was offered the chance to review the Rapunzel Tower Tent.  Seeing as I had two Tangled fans in the house I couldn't pass up this offer!

The tent arrived and after only about 5 minutes of me getting a bit grumpy (me and tent poles are never a good combination) it was up and ready for the playing.  This is clearly worth noting as for once I didn't need the assistance of Mr M as the instructions were easy to follow, even for an incomptetent person like me! In fact really all that you need to do to get this up and running is pop in a few poles.

It was larger than I expected, so large in fact that you can easily fit in two small children, one adult (not so easily) and the head and shoulders of another adult. Ahem. You don't really need to know the gory details of that though, it was quite an unpleasant experience for all involved...

It's very nicely decorated with flowers, birds and of course Rapunzel - all in pleasant pink and purple Tangled colours. I was a little worried this would put the boy off playing with it but he's played with it just as much as my daughter has.  It folds away quite compact when not in use but I must admit we generally have it up all the time and as you can see when it's not being used by rowdy children, it becomes a house for all kinds of cretins.

 (sorry, doesn't come complete with oversized Fimble and overdressed kitty)
We've had the tent up in our play area for a good few weeks, before moving it to the little madam's bedroom. It has had a lot of abuse and still looks as good as new, it's very well made.  It's currently residing in the garden enjoying the Easter sunshine. Yes, it's perfect as it is designed to be used in and outside.  This means on rainy days you can let your children's imagination run wild - tea parties are often held inside the tower, and on warm days like today it can provide a little bit of shade in the garden and a bit of respite for mother whilst the children role-play to their hearts content and she sits in the sunshine sipping on a Pimms.

 (sans Fimbles and children but perhaps with a few lingering gnats)

I can predict hours of fun with this tent over the summer months, especially when the childrens friends come round to play.  Perhaps I'll have a contest to see how many children can we fit in a tent? Place your bets...

The Disney Princess Rapunzel Tower Tent from Worlds Apart is suitable for children aged 2+ and retails at around £30 in stores such as Amazon, Debenhams, Tesco and ELC.  It's perfect for any little princess, or in our case, prince as well!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Meal Planning Monday (25th April 2011)

Hello! Hope you've all been having a fabulous Easter break? Hasn't the weather been amazing! I feel like I am on actual holiday although alas, back to school and work tomorrow.

The beautiful weather means that our meal plan changed a little last week and we have had a couple of BBQs although we did manage the roast dinner yesterday, which was amazing!  Today sees us having yet another BBQ - got to make the most of the sunshine, you never know when it will disappear again!

This week is a bit scant on the meal-planning because it feels like a short one and also I am heading off to London towards the end of the week for the Royal Wedding. Sadly, I never got my official invite...but I plan on gatecrashing.

Week commencing Monday 25th April 2011

BBQ - minted lamb kebabs, pork & pepper kebabs etc
Some kind of garbage frittata
Chilli and rice
Glazed hoisin duck and creamed potatoes

Erm that's about it as Mr M's sister is cooking for us one night and the other we're having a takeaway with her! The duck I planned for last week dropped off the menu so I've included that again!

Garbage frittata is what I call it when I basically scout around my fridge for things to throw in with eggs that need using up! I take my inspiration from Uncle Buck "he's cooking our garbage...".  

As always, let me know what you are planning by blogging and joining in the Linky below. If you don't have a blog - just leave a comment!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Kitchen Sneak Peek (Fusions Taste Team)

See that badge over there, to the left? I've become a member of the World Foods Fusions Taste Team. This basically means myself, and the other bloggers in the team are going to be set cooking challenges. Eep.
Anyhow, one of the first things we have been asked to do is share our kitchen with everyone. So here it is, this is where the *cough* magic happens... (and yes, I did give it a quick clean before I took the photos, nobody needed to see the dead gnat corpses from the massacre this morning).


Look at those cakes under the glass dome - they look lovely don't they? Yummy! Only, they're not. They've been there since I got married in September 2009! 

There it is in all it's glory.  I'd love to hear all about your kitchens and I'm looking forward to sneaking a peek at the other members of the Fusion Taste Teams kitchens, you can already check out Jo at Comfort Bite's kitchen here.

Oh and one last thing, please do pop over to Facebook and "like" the Fusion of Flavours page so you can keep up to date with all the comings and goings of the taste team!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Product Review: Very Lazy Cooking Concentrates

I was recently asked if I would like to try a cooking concentrate from the "Very Lazy" range by the English Provender Company.  I like to try new things and even though as a rule I cook from scratch rather than using ready made sauces I thought I would give it ago.   Turns out it's not really a sauce anyway but more an ingredient much like the curry pastes I already use.

I've been a fan of the English Provender Company (whose lemon curd kicks butt by the way) for a few years now having first discovered them at the BBC Good Food Show.  The Very Lazy Garlic has been a staple in my fridge for a good while as I find it's great for emergencies if I've run out of garlic cloves, or more often than not, they've started sprouting.

The Very Lazy cooking concentrates were launched last year and since then they've been adding to the range. I was sent a jar of the Caribbean Chicken which is one of their newest products.  
I decided to build this into my meal planning for the week as I thought it would be a good option for after work as it's hardly any effort and quick to cook.  All I had to do was add the chicken, pineapple and coconut milk. It took about 20mins from start to finish.  It really was that simple and if you're not somebody who enjoys cooking then these would be perfect for you because the recipe that comes with it is fool-proof.  Because the concentrates are really just a base, you can chuck in whatever else you like - you don't need to stick to the suggested recipe, the world is your oyster.

Our verdict? Lip-smacking good! I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. It was incredibly tasty and full of flavour.  Mr M loved it too, we were both extremely impressed. It was just the right amount of fruity and spicy. The chilli in it gave it a proper kick, there's no way my children would cope with it so not really something for all the family unless your children are very keen on hot food, but I enjoy a spicy dish so I loved that element.  I served as suggested with a big pile of fluffy white basmati rice and we both had seconds!
Would I buy it? Yes, for sure! It would be a great thing to have in the cupboard for those days when you haven't got a lot of time or inspiration. I'm excited now to try out some of the other concentrates like the Posh Sausage Casserole and  the Stroganoff.
Finally, it's worth noting the ingredients list;
Onions, water, sugar, pineapple pieces in juice (pineapple, pineapple juice), mango puree, vegetable oil, ginger puree, red chilli puree, concentrated lime juice, salt, thyme, red chilli, cinnamon, cayenne, pimento, nutmeg, black pepper.
There's nothing nasty in there which made me feel a whole lot better about using a ready-prepared product!
The Very Lazy concentrates can be found in Asda stores or you can buy the whole Very Lazy range online.
love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Grow your own!

It's time for my annual what-are-you-growing-in-your-garden blogpost! 

I've been a bit slow in getting started this year, mainly because I'm going on holiday during the summer and  I don't want everything becoming ready when we're away so I am trying to stagger it so that more is ready towards the end of summer. This may not be entirely successful, time will tell!

A couple of weeks ago I planted five new fruit trees - I'm trying to create a bit of an orchard. That sounds very grand doesn't it? I promise you it's not! We've got fruit trees scattered all over the place - the driveway has cherry trees and we've got a couple of Bramley apple trees knocking about.  The area I am planning my "orchard" already has a plum and a pear tree down there, along with raspberry and gooseberry bushes and now I have just added apricot, greengage, Braeburn, plum and cherry. 

They don't look like much do they?  The plan is to add a couple of new trees every year. I am pleased to report they seem to be taking well and are all growing green leaves and a couple of them even have blossom on. The Braeburn apple tree has the most gorgeous fuschia pink buds at the moment.

Aside from the trees I will also be filling up my raised beds with veggies again. This year I am doing the usual peas, carrots and radish but I am also trying rocket, french beans, lettuce, mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, beetroot and some salad potatoes!  Last year the majority of what I planted was successful, especially the spinach so I am hoping that I will have similar results this year.

We'll also be planting about eight pumpkin plants in our specially designated "pumpkin patch" as my children love growing pumpkins. Nobody likes eating them which is a terrible shame isn't it? I can't even bear the smell. We grow them purely for Halloween and last year they grew really well.

Carving these babies took literally hours of my life and left me with a bad arm for days!

I've decided not to grow any flowers this year as to be honest I found it a bit of a chore, so this year I will be buying the flowers and repotting them into tubs and baskets.

I'll be planting the seeds over the Easter weekend and I'll report back with an update very soon. Are you planning to grow any veggies this year? Let me know your garden plans!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Movie Meme...Favourite Actress

Once again, joining in with Metal Mummy's Movie Meme.  This week she has asked us to tell her who our favourite actress is.

This is a toughie and she's already snaffled the amazing Helena Bonham Carter. There's so many I could choose...Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon to name but a few however I've decided on a more modern choice for no other reason than that I love her.

Rachel McAdams. Why? She's completely gorgeous for starters and so watchable. She is in three films that I love - two of which are quoted from on a daily basis.

Yes, I am one of those people that cry at The Notebook. 

Yes, I watch Mean Girls at least once a month.

Yes, I really enjoyed the film adaptation of The Time Travellers Wife (but not as much as I loved the book...).

She was loveable in Wedding Crashers and I can't wait to see how she is in Midnight in Paris.
So there it is. Who is your favourite actress right now?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

PS She was also on the receiving end of that kiss. Man. I've just watched it again. I may have swooned.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Meal Planning Monday (18th April 2011)

This week is a bit lazy. Okay it's a lot lazy. I have no excuse for it really as the kids are off school and apart from a couple of days at work I have all the time in the world, however I am going to use this week to catch up on some cooking that needs to be done for blog reviews. I have products that I have received from Kents Kitchen and Very Lazy so I plan to cook up a couple of those this week and get those done.  I'm also trying to clear out my cupboards so a few meals this week may also be inspired by that!

Week commencing 18th April 2011
Saucy sausage pasta & garlic bread
Caribbean chicken (Very Lazy cooking concentrate)
Beef rendang  (Kents Kitchen meal kit)
Glazed hoisin duck & creamed potatoes
Slow cooked lamb with onions & thyme & other trimmings

I'm also making a fridge cake/rocky road style thing, some cheese & marmite muffins, Easter nests and perhaps a lemon curd Victoria sponge if I have the time and inclination!

As ever, what are you planning this week? Anything special for Easter? and don't forget to join in with Linky below and spread the word about Meal Planning Monday!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Biscuits for Icing

So the Easter Holidays are upon us, we're halfway through ours and so far they are going quickly and smoothly - thank heavens!  On Friday we had a bit of a lazy day and after grocery shopping we decided to make some biscuits - mainly from them to decorate with icing as it's such a good way to entertain them and also because my friend gave me a ton of icing writing pens that needed using up!

This is the standard recipe I use for biscuits for icing as it's very easy and also very quick.

Biscuits for Icing


100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
275g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 190c/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until combined.  Beat in the egg and vanilla extract a little at a time until well combined.  Stir in the flour until the mixture comes together as a dough. (If it's too dry at this point then you could always add a drop or two of water - literally a drop).

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 1cm.  Using biscuit cutters, cut biscuits out of the dough and place onto the baking tray.

Bake the biscuits in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until pale golden-brown. Leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes to harden and then cool on a wire rack.

I got out every cookie cutter we own and just let the kids choose what they wanted. They needed a bit of help cutting them out but were quite happy to direct me as necessary!  They then went wild with the icing pens which were good fun, but hard work! My poor hands were aching by the time we'd done.

It was a very good way to spend an otherwise dull afternoon!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fridge Tales

I've seen this meme around over the past week and wondered if it would come my way. Well now it has.  Earlier today Mostly Yummy Mummy tagged me in her post entitled "Who would live in a fridge like that...?".

The idea behind this meme is to post a picture of the your fridge (run, now, before it's too late for your eyes to recover from the horror) and list the contents as a little insight to the kind of person you are. I wonder what my fridge will reveal about me?  Judging from the seriously out of date tub of Extra Thick Bailey's cream (we talking mid-December 2010) I think it may reveal I am a bit of a glutton and a sloth!

Here it is in all it's glory.

Not a great photo as actually it's a rather large fridge and that's hard to photograph close-up!

As for the contents? Read it and weep. It's the middle of the week so I am just about ready to restock and from the sounds of this I need it!

Tomato puree, green pesto, strawberry jam, homemade damson chutney, lard (for the birds, naturally), horseradish, two bottles of Cobra beer, Discovery chipotle paste, wholegrain mustard, dijon mustard x 2, Baileys extra thick cream (Best before 15/12/10), kaffir lime leaves, mango chutney, smooth pickle, mini Boursin, 2 x Shaken Udder milkshakes, 3 cans of Carling, 12 bottles of Peroni, tonic water, 2 x 400g cheddar cheese, garlic pizza bread, steamed salmon fillets, smoked bacon lardons, smoked streaky bacon, breaded ham, smoked back bacon, Richmond thick pork sausages, left-over jeweled potato salad, 8 Munch Bunch yoghurts, 1/2 fat creme fraiche, 3 Dairylea Dunkers, enough Babybel to sink a small ship, green beans, 4 blocks of butter, Stork, feta cheese, gruyere, soft mild goats cheese, 24 Innocent fruit tubes, 6 Innocent smoothies (various flavours), handful of radish, coriander, rocket, 3 lemons, 1 lime, 1 spring onion (one?!), 10 sticks of celery, sugar snap peas, 10 cans of Diet Coke, 1 can of Cherry Coke, 2 bottles of Olive Et Al dressings (mint & chilli, pink mojo), 4 pints of milk, tomato ketchup, brown sauce, pineapple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, squirty cream, 2 jars of mayo, salad cream, apple sauce, 3 Fruit Shoots, one small carton of orange juice, salsa, 2 bottles of sweet chilli dipping sauce, Jack Daniels sauce.

Phew! A lot of the jars and bottles are half-empty (or half-full?) So tell me, what does that say about me? Actually, don't tell me. 

I won't tag anyone as I'm not sure who has had this and who hasn't but please, take it and let me know if you do a blog post about it!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

The Gallery...Tomorrow

This is the first time in ages that I've participated in The Gallery but I'm at work, tired, headachy and in need of cake so I thought I'd join in!

This weeks prompt is tomorrow.

This blog post is inspired by a trip to see Peter Kay live last week. He did a sketch about always putting off diets -  the old "I'll start on Monday..." mentality. I think we've all probably been there at one time or another. How many times have I started a diet, ate a chocolate bar and thought "ah well, I'll start again in the morning".

Tomorrow I'll start a diet. 

Tomorrow I won't eat these..

Tomorrow I will eat these..

love & kisses
Mrs M x

It takes a long time to grow an old friend

Isn't a wonderful thing to see your children making friends? I mean friends all of their own - not someone you've made them play with because they're you're friends with their mum.

Last year when my daughter was in pre-school she didn't really bond with any one child in particular, instead she had a large group of friends but nobody special. I remember asking back then if this was "normal" and many people told me that it was usual at that age (3-4) to not have a best friend.  When she moved up to reception we were approached by the teacher to put forward names of her friends in order for them to group the classes (it's a big school). Sadly she didn't end up in a class with anybody she really thought of as one of her friends but it hasn't seemed to matter to her and she's made herself a whole new group of friends.  She's just that kind of girl, a friend to everyone.

When my son started pre-school last September he played with a few different children but by October he had found his other half.  He's got himself a best buddy and it's cute. They adore each other - they even tell each other they love each other - they are inseparable. There's an age gap of about 8 months between them, a little bit more noticeable I think at this age, certainly in terms of academic development and it's been brought up that their relationship may be detrimental to them in some way as they find it very hard to concentrate on anything else when they are together. 

At the suggestion of their teacher, they've been split up in the classroom now and things are improving for them. We've also discussed next year and my head is saying that perhaps it's better for them to be split up - my heart is saying keep them together, starting school is hard enough and I truly think my boy will be upset come September if he finds out his not with his best pal.  Either way they'll still see each other as I've become friends with the other boys mum now and I am thankful to my boy for that as it's opened up my social life!

What a trauma!  I used to worry that my children wouldn't make friends at school and now I worry that the friendships they have made (at the age of 3) are going to be the ruin of them!  I'd love to hear what your experiences are of your children and their friendships at this age and possibly what you would do in my shoes?  Does your child have a best friend?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Movie Meme...World Cinema

Gee whizz, Metal Mummy knows how to throw a little bit of a curve ball. As I have done on the past week Tuesdays, I thought I'd join in with her movie meme again as I really enjoyed the last two which were chick flicks and 80s films. Those were right in my comfort zone. World cinema is not.

I don't do films with subtitles. They take way to much concentration and for some reason foreign films have just never appealed to me.  Metal Mummy has clarified for me that I can choose a film "that isn't from the country I am in" and obviously that opens up the US but that's a bit of a cop-out isn'it it? So instead I am going for Ireland and perhaps a little known film called The Snapper.

The Snapper is a made-for-television film based on the book of the same name, written by Roddy Doyle who wrote The Commitments.  It's not the greatest film ever but appeals to me because it reminds me a lot (perhaps too much) of my mums large Irish family, all based in Dublin. This film was released in 1993 when I was 13. I spent a lot of holidays in Dublin in the first 16 years of life (I'm ashamed to say I've not been back since!) so this just evokes a lot of memories for me - the locations, the fashions, the accents.

The story centres around the Curley family and the eldest daughter Sharon's unexpected pregnancy and how various members of her family and friends react to the news.  As you might expect there's a lot of dry Irish humour and a fair bit of swearing.

I have now got the biggest urge to watch this again!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 11 April 2011

Product Review: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1


I was recently asked if I would like to receive a copy of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 which was released on DVD and Blu-Ray today.  I'm not a massive fan of the Harry Potter franchise although I can appreciate it's a good story and the films are well done. Perhaps I'll get a bit more into it as the children get older, although I know a lot of adults who love it.  

Whilst I feel quite comfortable about showing my children the first and even the second Harry Potter films, I am a bit more reluctant with the rest of the series as they get darker and darker, and this current release is darker yet and this is recognised with the "12" certificate.  If you've got a die-hard Harry Potter fan on your hands it might be a hard decision to not let them watch it but I really think it is going to depend on what type of child you have.

The Deathly Hallows is a lot slower in pace than the other films, mainly due to the fact that this is one half of the big finale. I think it's fair to say that when a book is so epic, it deserves to be done right and whilst splitting films like this frustrates the extremely impatient part of me, I can understand the reasoning and see the benefits of this.

The copy I received was one with the Triple Play feature. If you don't know what this it is it means it you get the film in three formats - Blu-Ray, DVD and a digital copy. I am a big fan of this having first seen it on the Ice Age 3 DVD last year.  We haven't yet made the leap to Blu-Ray but may do in the near future and I think having a digital copy, in the age of iPods and iPads is a great idea.  The Triple Play version is available at selected retail outlets.  The disc is also full of the usual extra features like deleted scenes and cast features.

For real fans there is a limited edition Dobby DVD sleeve available only at Sainsburys, whilst stocks last.  Each exclusive sleeve features a sticker with details of a competition giving you the chance to win a limited edition Dobby plush (like the one I have received, pictured below) of which there are 5,000 up for grabs.  See here for more details.

I enjoyed this film and thought it was very well done, however I have to admit to not having had read the books so I cannot compare it to that. Sacrilege, I know! Whether I'll ever go back and read them remains to be seen.  It's a good family film but perhaps not one for younger children because frankly it's quite scary in places!

With thanks to Think Jam PR for the review copy and Dobby plush!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

PS Does Helena Bonham-Carter rock as Bellatrix or what?!