Saturday, 31 December 2011

National Space Centre

Today we went to  It recommends you take 3 hours to look round - we spent at least 4 hours and could have spent longer, but luckily if you giftaid your entry fee you get free returns for a year. There was so much information about planets, stars, the big bang and space travel. There was lots of information boards for adults to read as well as lots of interactive computer games for the children. I think I and G found it better because they could read the computer screens, but there were some nice touches for E and P - for example they had a small play room with a few baby toys in and a worm hole (tunnel) to climb through! The cafe served nice reasonably priced food which we ate under a rocket! I said the best bit was Tranquillity base which had interactive space rides of which the best was an interactive 3D ride to Europa (although I didn't go on it was I was supervising the little ones because you needed to be 120 cm tall). G liked the free planetarium show about how astronomers find out about space.  I liked the dog space suit and a time line documenting the space race!.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Nativity Trail

This afternoon we caught the bus in to Birmingham and went to the free museum to complete the Nativity trail. We picked up a leaflet and followed it round. In certain galleries I was able to show E a picture of the painting she was looking for and then went and found it. The girls enjoyed working out which part of the story each painting was telling. They are in order of gallery, rather than order of story! They cover about 500 years of art and are a variety of different styles which kept I interested as we discussed how they could have been created. We liked the vibrant stained glass window made as a  memorial to the men of the congregation who served and died in the First World War. The window shows the angels appearing to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. We also liked this small painting made to be a Christmas card showing a soldier, sailor and airman approaching the stable at Bethlehem and angels watching over a sky filled with planes and searchlights. The Latin inscription ‘Ipse est pax nostra’ (he is our peace) suggests Jesus is a source of comfort and hope, especially in time of war.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Moscow State Circus

My Mum took all of us (and my Dad) to see the Moscow State Circus. It was fab - just as a circus should be - amazing acrobats, jugglers, clowns and a trampoline. They had some story that tried to link all the acts together but to be honest it was unnecessary and just got in the way of an amazing show. G loved the clowns - just her sense of humour at the moment and I and E loved the acrobats on their high wires whizzing though the air! P liked the lights. But boy was hot and it took an age to get out.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Dec 24th - Go and see the Snowman and decorate the Christmas tree

Today the husband took the oldest 3 to see the Snowman ballet (this was because 3 years ago I had taken I and G). The children said it was brilliant and there best bit was the fruit dancing out of the fridge! They would all see it again.
Then they came home and decorated the Chrismtas tree. P has learnt to say Baubles -although she spent most of the time trying to take them off the tree!

The girls are now so excitied for Christmas - hope they have been good and the big man leaves things in stockings :) .

Friday, 23 December 2011

Dec 23 - Watch the SnowmanDVD

The girls and the husband returned home today from skiing - very tired after getting up at 3am. To celebrate this we watched the Snowman DVD. Although E managed to be the only child ever to watch the Snowman sitting in the next door room with her hands over the ears.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

DEc 22 - Winter Soltice

To celebrate the shortest day of the year people burn Yule logs - well in a city with a toddler this didn't seem the best idea so I made a Chocolate Yule log instead (and then later I will burn it off as I exercise :) ) and P helped by licking the bowl and tasting it!


  • 5 eggs
  • 140g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 25g good quality cocoa powder 
Heat oven to fan 170C. Line the base and sides of a 30 x 35cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.  Separate the eggs, putting them into two large mixing bowls. Add the sugar and 2 tbsp water to the egg yolks. Using an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and yolks for about 5 mins until the mixture is light in colour and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk blades are lifted. Sift in the flour and cocoa, then fold in lightly, using the whisk blades. Using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then fold into the cake mixture in three batches, again using the blades to preserve as much air as possible.  Pour the mixture evenly over the prepared tin, then carefully spread to the edges. Bake for 10-12 mins, or until the cake feels firm to the touch. Put a large sheet of baking parchment on the work surface and sprinkle lightly with caster sugar. Turn the cake out onto the parchment and peel off the lining paper. Cover with a clean tea towel, then leave to cool completely.
Next make the filling - I made this up as our scales are out batteries! I used a carton a double cream, icing sugar to taste and some double cream. Then whisk until stiff. Cover the cake with the cream and roll.
Then cover the whole cake with chocolate butter icing. I think one should probably dust with icing sugar to make it look festive - but sadly I have run out so it will have to wait!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dec 21 - Christmas Playdoh

Today I made some playdoh for P to use her Christmas cutters with and scented them Christmas spices - we had one ginger batch, one nutmeg batch and one allspice batch (although they soon got jumbled up). Today I used this recipe for playdoh -
1 c. flour
1/2 cup salt
1 T. cooking oil
1 T. cream of tartar
1 c. water
Measure ingredients into the saucepan you will be using to cook the dough, but mix them well before putting the pan on the hob.  Over medium heat cook the dough, stirring constantly until it forms a ball.  (NOTE:  When it starts to pull away from the sides somewhat and clump together and most of the "wet-looking" parts look dry, it's ready to remove from the pan.)  Turn dough out and knead until smooth.  Add spices, colouring and anything else you wish.

Incidently this explains the science behind Play dough
sad aren't I

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

Day 19 - Hand Print Father Christmas

With a little help, P painted Father Christmas. She is so independent - I love the way she is trying to put paint in the bowl herself!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Day 18 - Go for a wintry walk

Miss P and I went for walk around Wandlebury looking for Holly and Mistletoe. We didn't see any Mistletoe but did see some holly. An old tradition says that whoever brings it into the house first over winter, tells you who will rule that year!! (But it is unlucky to bring it into the house before Christmas Eve.)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Day 17 - Print with Christmas cutters

P enjoyed dipping her Christmas cutters in paint and then, with help, printing with them on paper.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dec 16th - Christmas sensory box

With the big girls away skiing, I decided it was time I put more effort into finding things P can enjoy! at nursery she loves their Christmas sensory box and as I wondered around a well known supermarket and found their Christmas decorations half-price I decided to have a go at creating one for P. We bought some mini-baubles, some smelly pot pourri and some silver shred.  She loves it! She has been wondering round with her baubles (how long before I stand on one?) and putting them on places and wondering why they roll off.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dec 15 - dancing

Dancing is one of P's favorite things to do - as soon as music in turned on she runs to the carpet and starts madly swaying! It is so cute. So today to cheer ourselves up as the husband has taken the oldest 3 away skiing we put some Christmas music on and danced!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dec 14th - Post Christmas cards

The girls enjoyed posting Christmas cards to family and friends scattered round the country!

Today is also E's 4th birthday - I can't believe for 4 years she has filled our hearts with love and laughter. As soon as she wakes up she leaps in to bed for a cuddle - even if she does have cold cold feet :) and is always the first to cuddle P. She hates playing by herself - she will always bring things where everyone else is. She loves "the sisters" best of all and whatever they are doing she wants to be doing to and they are so good at letting her! Her bestest thing is being read to - she would happily share books with you all day. She loves ballet, pink and jewellery. She has just started to read! She loves "my Phoenix school" and everyday asks if it is a school day (and is disappointed if it is not!). She can ride a bike confidently and cycles to ballet lessons on a Saturday. She still hates walking any distance. She is completely crazy - often pulling a funny face or saying something which has everyone in stitches! E we are truly blessed to have you in our lives!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dec 13th - Make Lucia buns

Lucia is a traditional Scandinavian Saint's day (celebrated on the 13th December with both pagan and Christian origins. One mandatory constituent in the celebrations is a saffron-flavoured bun; in Swedish called a lussekatt, a "Lucia cat".

We had a go at making them:

5 oz butter
2 cups  milk
1 1/2 packets active dry yeast
1/2 gram of saffron
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

6 to 7 cups plain flour
egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, lightly beaten)

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Leave to cool to blood temperature and whisk in yeast. Grind saffron with a mortar and pestle and add it to the milk. Add milk to the butter and stir. Add sugar,and egg. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour three cups at a time working it in with your hands as you go. Cover with a dish cloth and let rise for 40 minutes. Once dough has risen, knead it for 5 minutes and then roll it between your hands to form ten inch snakes. Shape each snake into an S and place a raisin into the centre of each twirl. Place buns on greased baking trays and cover with a cloth. Let them rest for 30 minutes. Bake them for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 250 oC (475 oF) until golden brownish yellow.

They were yummy - but don't keep well! So best eat on day of baking!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Dec 12 - Chistmas wish tree

I cut out a Christmas tree shape from green card and gave each of the girls different coloured paper cut in to circles to be baubles! The girls then had to write a Christmas wish on each circle thinking about the true meaning of Christmas.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dec 11 - Make Stainned Glass Windows and have a party

Today the girls made stained glass windows by cutting shapes out of black paper and then sticking colored cellophane on the holes. E needed lots os support - she drew the shapes and stuck on the cellophane - I did the cutting! I and G took their's in to school to give to their teachers!

Miss E also had her 4th birthday party at a local play barn, Cheeky Monkeys.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Dec 10th - Follow that star

Today our Playmobil three kings arrived ... they are going to be traveling round the house following the star. Everyday the girls get up and have to look for them! Today they are on the piano, tomorrow the kitchen etc etc ....

Friday, 9 December 2011

Day 9 - write a letter to Father Christmas

Make up,Sylvanians and Build-a-bear stuff seem to feature heavily this year! This Christmas activity is educational too - it allows discussions of features of letters and offers a chance to practise writing.  I love writing for a purpose - it is so motivating!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Day 8 - Make Paper Chains

I cut some old Christmas wrapping paper into strips and then the girls had fun making paper chains. It quickly got competitive as to who could make the longest chain! 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Day 7 - Read a Christmas Story

We read this lovely story of the Nativity told through the eyes of a cat (which fitted in well with the Nativity play G did at school)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

St Nicholas day

Today is Saint Nicholas's saint day - who amongst other things is the patron saint of Children and is otherwise known as Santa Claus. Via google, I came across this great website with more than you need to know about the Saint:

I read a story about him to the girls for bedtime and they made a German traditional bread.

1 kg strong bread flour
1 packet dried active yeast
500 ml  milk
150 g butter
120 g  sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 eggs
egg yolks(for glue)

Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and sprinkle in the yeast. Warm the milk to blood temperture, pour it in, and dissolve the yeast. Watch and discuss why the children can see bubbles rising to the surface!

Meanwhile, melt the butter, add the sugar, orange rind, and whole eggs, and stir to combine.

Add this mixture to the yeast-milk solution and beat to form a light, smooth dough. It must be neither too soft nor too firm and must be easy to shape. Let it rise in a wam place for 15–20 minutes.

The figures are each shaped from a smoothly rounded ball of dough which is first rolled out into a slightly elongated shape. Next the head is shaped. The arms, legs, and hat are attached with egg yolk beaten with a little water. The remaining decorations, such as the beard, nose, eyes, and so forth are shaped or cut out separately and likewise attached with egg yolk. This is not easy and lots of bits fell off in the moving to the baking tray!

Preheat the oven to 170oC (fan oven).

Lay the figures on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and let rise completely (at least 20–25 minutes). Bake on the center shelf of the preheated oven for 20–35 minutes, depending on size (or even longer if you forget about them and like them burnt - whoops!!!).

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Real meaning of Christmas

It is easy to get caught up in the lights, food (and drink) and consumerism of Christmas and lose the real meaning - the birth of Jesus ... so today's challenge was to set up the Nativity scene. We have a lovely playmobil one which G and E enjoyed setting up in our messy play/small world plastic tray.

(photo taken by G)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Christmas gingerbread men and a visit to the "Real Father Christmas"

Today, with my parents up, Mum and I went to Scotsdales (a local garden centre). I bought some fairy lights and Mum bought a plant - but whilst we were there I took G and E to see Father Christmas who happened to be visiting! Miss I thought she was too grown up up to come! It was a very long queue (over an hour) but there were some things to look at to wile away the time! Then you get to on a little sleigh ride and finally you arrive to see Father Christmas! G said she wanted more dog toys and E said she wanted some more build-a-bear stuff! She was so confident and answered all of Father Christmas's questions - a change from last year where she hid!  Then you got to choose a present - they had a nice selection - cars, trains, pushchairs, craft kits! G choose some make-up and E choose a toy dog! There was a little boy in front who choose some play-food and his mum said "Are you sure you want that - it;s for girls" :( - grghhh to gender stereotyping!!! Miss E was so excited - she came out and told my mum "I have seen the real Father Christmas.".

Much to eveyone's delight we put up the lights:

 Today's challenge was to make and ice gingerbread men and ladies (and a cat! as made by my Dad)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Play-doh snowman.

Today's challenge in the unseasonally warm weather was to make a snowman from play-doh. E, G and I quickly made up a batch. We used this recipe:
1 cup cornflour
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1tablespoon vegetable oil
and of course magical silver glitter

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until your dough forms!

I also have the girls some raisons (for eyes and noses), pipe cleaners for arms and bits of ribbons for scaves. They had fun making snowman ... but for E the play quickly changed into making cakes and biscuits and then G make a Father Christmas and his raindeer.