CHOCOLATE GOODY FILLED CHRISTMAS PUDDING

IMG_3523.JPGExactly what it says on the tin! Our chocolate goody filled xmas pudding is the perfect homemade surprise treat for Christmas Eve.
Everyone needs a Christmas pudding!!!
Here’s how we did it..

Ingredients, milk and white chocolate, (cake covering chocolate is better workable), balloons, and goodies to fill.

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Blow the balloons up ensuring you leave a long neck, if the knot is close to the inflated bit you can ensure the balloon is a perfect sphere whilst only inflating to the size you want.

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Smear with butter/margarine to help the chocolate come off easy when the ballon is popped.

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Melt your chocolate by placing into a bowl over hot water.

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Let the melted chocolate cool a little and SLOWLY dip your balloons into the chocolate to get a good covering, (if you plunge the balloon into very hot chocolate it will explode!!) …put into the fridge to harden… REPEAT THIS PROCESS TO GIVE YOUR PUDDING A GOOD STURDY THICKNESS.

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Place your pudding shells into the fridge to set.

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Melt your white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, leave to cool for 5 minutes at room temperature.

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Spoon your white chocolate onto the top of the milk chocolate, be careful not to play with it too much as this will cause the milk chocolate to seep through giving a marbled effect.

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Melt some more milk chocolate for your puddings base, leave the chocolate to thicken up in the bowl before pouring a disc shape big enough to fit under your pudding onto a baking sheet. I found that I could guess roughly the size I needed by placing the chocolate covered balloon into a bowl and then drawing around the bowl onto the baking sheet.

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Place your discs and puddings into the fridge to harden.

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Once set carefully peel your balloon from the sides of the chocolate DO NOT REMOVE THE BALLOON. Once you have gently peeled away from the sides you can pop your balloon and remove.

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Trim the sides of your pudding to make it a nice level to put on the base. Using cake covering chocolate make this easier to do.

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Finally melt a little more chocolate to use as a glue to attach the base to the pudding…DONT FOGET TO FILL WITH GOODIES BEFORE SEALING

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A couple of spots of melted chocolate is ideal to glue your berries on, I used ready roll icing with a few drops of food colouring but it would be easier to use smarties.

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I added a fake leaf to finish, and they are ready to be bashed open on Xmas Eve

IMG_3538.JPGthen all you need to do is crack them open!!!!
I added a fake leaf to finish, and they are ready to be bashed open on Xmas Eve

LOOT GIVING EXPANDING FOAM MONSTER

20140923-112037-40837276.jpg we decided to make our own loot giving monster! Using a box, some expanding foam filler, paint, battery operated fairy lights, 2 ballpit balls & a bowl of sweets we created a monster for our trick o treaters to brave. Dare you plunge your hand into his ferocious jaws and delve into the pit of his fire burning belly for your monster?!
This activity was done by Elis, 9 with a little supervision.
Our main item was a cardboard box and some expanding foam filled, we used some we had kicking about in the garage but cheaper versions can be picked up in pound stores.

20140923-112647-41207054.jpgwe covered a bowl in foil & then taped the bowl to the box where we planned to put the monsters mouth.

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We made sure we had safety goggles and protective gloves on.

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We then set about covering our box with the expanding foam, we concentrated mostly on the monsters face.

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We placed two ballpit balls as the eyes.

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We used a mix of emulsion we had in the shed and poster paints to paint our monster.

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We left the unpainted monster to dry over night, we then carefully cut the bowl out and cut out a circle for the mouth. We then used a piece of paper to make the teeth.

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We used sticky tape to attach the teeth inside the box via a flap I cut in the back of the box.

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I had some battery operated lights which we attached to the inside of the box, this are usually available in pound stores.

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We put a bowl of sweets inside.

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We painted our monster with a mix of emulsion and poster paint (because that’s what we had handy!)

20140923-113711-41831434.jpgour monster turned out fantastic!!!

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FD MAD BLOG KIDS AWARDS FOR FAMILY FUN

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This week we won the MAD blog award 2014 for best family fun, we were over the moon to be chosen to obtain the title & received our award at a red carpeted ceremony in London.
The ceremony was adult only & we wanted to show some recognition to the kids for our win so we embarked on our own prestigious award ceremony for them, after all we would not have won a ‘family fun’ category without them!

We had originally planned to throw the table into the back of the car to find an outdoor spot with a beautiful backdrop with a stop off at Toby carvery for a takeaway roast but had to go with plan B due to a poorly toddler who just wanted time on the sofa….so, our gala event took place in the garden complete with a red carpet and blow out dinner which I nipped out to Toby carvery to fetch. (A child’s portion is £4 but enough to feed 4 children!)
The kids scrubbed up and there were lots of winners!
Here’s how we got on…

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They looked very posh..

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We made a menu..

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And laid the table by throwing sheets over the table and chairs.

IMG_8029.JPGI made some award envelopes and award pebbles to be handed out with a golden chocolate coin..

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IMG_8034.JPGonce the red carpet was laid the girls practiced walking it..

IMG_8033.JPGI used an old champagne bottle which I filled with squash..

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IMG_8031.JPGwe added the finishing touches to the table with some chocolates for pudding.

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With food dished up we feasted before the announcements started..

IMG_8037.JPGeverybody had bubbles..

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IMG_8040.JPGit was very tense…

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The category’s were

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along with
MOST WILLING TO GET UP AT A STRANGE HOUR.
MOST CREATIVE INPUT.
MUCKIEST PUP AWARD.
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER.

The first winner was Elis..

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IMG_8021.JPGthere were also awards for Noah who received his when he woke up from his afternoon nap :-)

We couldn’t of won our MAD blog award without the kids, we were all winners….TOGETHER!!

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DECEPTIVELY FUN DINNER

I decide to do the kids a fun dinner with a difference….all was not as it seemed but it was still a healthy tea!

Here’s what was on the menu..

We had dessert first…shephards pie..

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I made it by layering a sundae dish with mashed potato.

20140915-204448-74688224.jpgfilling with the mince..

20140915-204517-74717385.jpgand topping with mashed potato, some gravy granule sprinkles, tomato sauce and a cherry tomato on top!

20140915-204641-74801100.jpgwe then had our dinner for pudding! …..egg on toast.

20140915-204732-74852542.jpgI created it with 3 simple ingredients..

20140915-204822-74902082.jpgto wash down our dinner we had a lemon squash beverage….lemon jelly!

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HAVING IT LARGE, SUPERSIZED FOOD.

We decided we wanted to make some of our favourite things super sized…the way they should be ;-)

Here’s some of the yummies we made..

20140912-181447-65687684.jpgGIANT FINGERS
We made our fingers by making a simple biscuit mix, we mixed together 100g butter, 100g caster sugar & 200g plain flour & a few drops of vanilla essence (optional).
We rolled then into fingers long enough to fit our home made Finger box & cooked at 180c for around 15 minutes. Once cooled we covered them in melted chocolate and placed onto some greaseproof paper to set in the fridge.
We made the box by using a display stand that the supermarket was throwing away, we cut it down to size to form a box but you could use any box and and print off ‘finger’ pictures to stick to it.

20140912-181513-65713925.jpgGIANT MIKADO
We made our Mikados using breadsticks and chocolate. We simply melted chocolate and dipped our breadsticks into them before standing in a beaker in the fridge til they had set.
Our box was made with a cereal box which we covered with ‘Mikado printed paper’ and we lined our box with foil.

20140912-181557-65757081.jpgGIANT WEETABIX
We made out giant breakfast by crumbling some weetabix into a bowl, we then added a little bit of water and shaped it into a large weetabix using a piece of card to keep it together around the edge, we placed it in a warm place overnight to harden back up.
We served our giant breakfast in a mixing bowl with a serving spoon and a giant glass (vase) of milk.

20140912-181645-65805187.jpgGIANT FERRERO ROCHER
It was quite tricky to make but easy to devour! We brushed ice cream wafers with water to make them slightly soft and moulded them to a greased bowl (x’s 2) & then left them in a warm place to dry back out. We then carefully removed the two halves from the bowls and covered with melted chocolate, before they’d completely set we sprinkled the outside with hazelnuts and returned to the fridge, we then filled the inside of the two halves with hazelnuts and a jar of chocolate spread. We used a little more melted chocolate to seal the two halves together.
Finally we wrapped in some gold wrapping paper that we’d scrunched up for effect….

We then used our fingers to eat it for pudding!!!

20140912-181722-65842186.jpgGIANT POP CORN BUCKET..We made our giant bucket using a length of cardboard that we rolled into a giant tube and secured with gaffer tape, we then slotted a plastic mixing bowl into the top and filled with yummy popcorn!

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We were most definitely full to the brim!

OUTDOOR ALPHABET HUNT

We decided to go on an alphabet hunt & create our own ABC photo log.
We made some letters on a note book and used an iPhone to take our photos and add our text with a simple app.
Here’s some of the letters we found…

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It was a great way to learn our letters :-)

COUCH POTATOES ON TOP OF WALES

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We’re no strangers to the mountains & love to find some of the most beautiful spots in Wales to lap up gorgeous views. Our usual mode of exploration is our feet & you’ll often find us hiking in the hills in mid Wales in search of natural beauty.
Last week we headed away from our usual spots and drove North on an adventure to Snowdonia. We’ve visited on several occasions before and climbed several peaks including the summit of Snowdon so are no strangers to the awe striking beauty that greets you at the very top of the highest peak in Wales. With an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560ft) above sea level, this towering mountain really is something special & is a must for any explorers bucket list. On clear days you are promised 360 panoramic views that stretch over the national park and out to the ocean that hugs the North Coast.
After defeating this mountain with the children in tow we were extremely overwhelmed to have an invitation to ride to the top on The Snowdon Mountain Railway. We’d travelled on the railway a few years ago and due to snow had only made it halfway up before the snowdrifts made it impossible for the train to go any further so we were really excited to go back to complete our journey.
We planned to make the very most of our ride to the summit & take advantage of the difference between a hike with only essentials in tow, maps, safety equipment, common sense, planning etc & being able to carry things up that would otherwise not be on our essential list to go in our rucksacks, so our plan was to toast the occasion ‘Family Days Tried & tested’ style..

We packed plastic champagne flutes, lashings of tea, iced gems and, of course, somewhere comfy to sit to take in the view…..we were to become couch potatoes with the aid of an inflatable sofa on the summit of Snowdon with the most beautiful views you could ever imagine absorbing from the comfort of your own settee.
It was a gorgeously blue skied day, with no wind & only breeze forecast for the mountain so we were set for our adventure…..
Here’s what greeted us…20140909-191330-69210943.jpgwe arrived at Llanberis mountain railway station and spent some time watching the trains coming and going..

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Noah was in awe of the trains.

20140909-191604-69364042.jpgbefore we boarded our train we checked out the drivers carriage..

20140909-191722-69442755.jpgWith our tickets in hand, some snacks for the journey and our deflated sofa tucked under our seat we were off…up, up and away….

20140909-191939-69579159.jpgthe scenery that accompanied us as we climbed high and higher up the mountain was spectacular.

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20140909-192306-69786404.jpgwe passed trains on the way up.

20140909-192446-69886457.jpgwe passed through Rocky Valley….which was rocky :-)

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20140909-192617-69977299.jpg we climbed higher & higher..

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20140909-192813-70093245.jpgThe views were a stark contrast to those that we’d seen during the snow, here’s the same spot, one lush greenness basking in sunshine and the other glistening white under a beautiful blue sky…

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20140909-193032-70232271.jpghalfway up and we were enjoying every second of beauty outside our window.

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20140909-193340-70420513.jpgwe past lots of walkers on the way up..

20140909-193455-70495603.jpgNoah spent lots of time waving :-)

20140909-193542-70542038.jpgwe could see the familiar summit approaching..

20140909-193647-70607912.jpgwe pulled into the station alongside the cafe nestled in the sky..

20140909-193833-70713706.jpghere we were able to use the wash room, purchase a cup of tea and snacks or just sit and admire the beautiful view out of the window…

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20140909-194141-70901804.jpgwe had taken our own snacks and drinks so we headed straight to the top to inflate our sofa and sit to enjoy the most beautiful views ever…

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20140909-194507-71107484.jpgwith a quick trip to the trig point for a ‘on top of Wales’ selfie :-) before heading back to the platform to watch our return journey train coming back for us..

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When we got back down we spent some time in the small train museum before choosing some souvenirs in the gift shop..

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20140909-195152-71512684.jpgwe had an absolutely fab day on Snowdon Mountain Railway and would like to thank them for inviting us to ride on the train… It certainly made a little boy who loves trains very very happy & a family who love the mountains very happy too…. It was a great adventure!!

You can find more info on Snowdon Mountain railway on theirwebsiteor over on their facebookpage.

**please remember that if you are hiking it is not advisable to take a sofa with you and to always be sensibly prepared, taking the train up enabled us to reach the top of the mountain in completely different manner to our usual ways & experience it in an unusual way. We love walking, but we also love mountain trains :-)

ABANDONED SHIP ADVENTURE, NORTH WALES

20140909-140354-50634282.jpgOn August 10th, 1979, a former Sealink passenger ferry called “The Duke of Lancaster” was beached at Llanerch-y-Mor in North Wales with the intention of turning it into a floating leisure and retail complex called The Fun Ship, unfortunately the project never achieved it’s full potential due to many legal disputes with the local council & now sits slowing rusting on the shoreline. You are not able to enter the ship but can walk around its perimeter to absorb all it’s awe.
It’s a fantastic canvas for some very talented pieces of graffiti artwork.

We stumbled over The Duke of Lancaster whilst browsing google earth for places to visit along the North East Wales coastline, we were not disappointed by what greeted us in reality.

We parked down along the sea wall down a gravel path in an area used for fishermen. The track was on the A548 opposite Garden Row, Holywell CH8, North Wales.
The ship was visible at the end of the track from where we had parked so we just headed along the sea wall path to the ship. Once at the ship we continued on the path, under a railway bridge & into a small farmers market shopping area which had a small play park and cafe, once we’d had enjoyed an ice cream and a play we headed back the way we had came.

Here’s how our walk went…

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20140909-140537-50737489.jpgas we got closer we were met by a fence which we peered through..

20140909-140711-50831936.jpgthe sheer size of it swept over us as we got closer..

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The ship had a fantastic awe to it as it loomed over us..

20140909-141047-51047549.jpgthe graffiti that graced it was quite a stunning display of art..

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20140909-141216-51136896.jpg<br /the walk surrounding the ship was teamed with wildlife..

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Our walk took us approx 1.5 hours and was well worth the stop off!

SPOOKY WALK AT TALACRE LIGHTHOUSE

20140908-223023-81023778.jpgTalacre lighthouse is on Talacre Beach, on the North coast of Wales.

Its a great spot for a walk with the kids with miles of beautiful sands surrounding it, at low tide you are able to walk up close and personal to the lighthouse.
The dunes that lie along the shoreline of Talacre beach attract scientific interest with their unique collection of natterjack toads and wintering birds. You can even spot skylarks, meadowpipits, or warblers & the dunes are also ideal for a spot of sand sledging :-)

Talacre Lighthouse is famous for its ghostly sightings, including a figure wearing old-fashioned lighthouse keeper clothes. The lighthouse was abandoned in 1883, but still stands to this day, we used this story as a chance for a spooky adventure as the sun went down and ended our walk in the darkness with tales of spooks as we left the beach. We even claimed to the kids we’d seen a ghostly figure following us… It was all great fun.

We parked in the carpark adjacent to the beach in Talacre at the end of Station road, Holywell, North Wales CH8 9RD

Here’s how our walk looked…

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20140908-223200-81120548.jpgwe watched the sun slowly descend…

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20140908-223359-81239374.jpguntil in disappeared behind a bank of low cloud…

20140908-223443-81283512.jpgwe walked up and around the tower and explored..

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Our walk was very atmospheric and really enjoyable, it was a great place to install a little spooky tale into the kids…

RAINY DAY GRASS SELDGING

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After a morning of rain the sun came out and we decided to take our sledge and find a grassy bank for some sledging fun….
So out we went….dressed in bin bags and carrier bags…

20140908-215443-78883714.jpgwe found a bank and off we went..

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Everyone had a go!

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Sledges aren’t just for snow!

20140908-215733-79053296.jpgand guess who got towed home :-)

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