Thursday, 29 August 2013

A #HeartySlice Of Chocolate Heaven - Millionaire Shortbread Recipe

I love Millionaire shortbread. It is one of my most favourite treats and it is so easy to make, cheap too if you are on a bit of a budget. When the lovely people over at Find Me A Gift sent me one of their I Heart Baking cake mould I was eager to try it out, especially as whatever I use the mould for will be entered into a prize draw to win £100 of baking goodies. How exciting!

At first, I did consider baking a coffee & walnut cake but as soon as I saw the mould I instantly knew that it would be absolutely perfect for Millionaire Shortbread. I love that this brightly coloured silicone mould that is shaped like a giant flower, actually cuts up into six individual heart shaped slices. How clever!

What You Need

The Base
  • 55g Caster sugar
  • 115g Softened Butter
  • 170g Self raising flour

The Caramel Filling
  • 397g Tin of condensed milk
  • 115g Butter
  • 115g Caster sugar
  • 2tbsp Golden syrup

The Chocolate Topping
  • 200g Plain or Milk Chocolate
  •  Maltesers

Method For Base
1.Preheat your oven to 350/180/gas mark 4.
2. In a bowl cream together the base butter and sugar until it is nice and creamy. Gradually add the flour and mix with a spoon until it sticks together and forms a dough like consistency.
3. Using your hands spread the dough over the base of your mould and bake for about 20 minutes or until it looks a light golden brown.

Method for Caramel Centre
1. In a saucepan empty the condensed milk, butter, sugar and golden syrup.
2. Bring to the boil on a low heat, stirring continuously.
3. It will start to thicken and turn a darker brown. Let it bubble for about ten minute's. Keep stirring.
4. Pour over the cooled base and spread.
Method For The Topping.
1. Melt the dark chocolate and pour over the cooled caramel.
2. Carefully place your maltesers into the chocolate after it has set for about five minutes.
3. Once cooled, cut into heart shaped pieces and enjoy. 
*I was sent a I Heart Cake mould free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Gallery - Pets

We once had a boxer called Luna. We lost her just over a year ago, after ten years of her being part of our family. We miss her like crazy.

Luna was a loyal, grumpy, funny, naughty, exhausting, and loving dog. She loved us and was fiercely protective of our home, her home. We miss her like crazy.

Luna was my companion when all the kids were small and at school. She would follow me around the house as I cleaned and tidied. She would sit and watch me as I pottered around the garden, her garden. For the first few days after losing her I couldn't even step foot into the garden. Her absence so painful. I miss her like crazy.

And now a year on, we still miss her and I shed a tear as I write this post. Luna really was so special. Luna was our Best Friend.


Sleep peacefully our old pal. We miss you so much x

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

A great week here at The Syders. The weather has been glorious and we have our Granddaughter staying with us all week.

1. Our Granddaughter - We love her coming to stay with us during school holidays, she is so funny and has us in stitches with the stuff she comes out with. Last week she went to see Annie the musical with her Auntie, and all week she has been singing her heart out. I even got asked to dress up as Miss Hannigan!

2. Cousins - Hubby's Mum lives quite a distance from us, so we don't see her much but this week she has been staying down the road at my Sister in laws bungalow. Not only that but she also had our niece with her who we haven't seen for a very long time. It was a great opportunity for our Granddaughter to spend time with her cousins.

3. Lollibop - We had a fabulous time. It was our first time at the Lollibop festival and we really enjoyed it. It was a great excuse to be a kid again. And we were right up the front of the stage for Dick & Dom who were great!

Hows Your Week Been?

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Top Ten Things We Look For On A Family Holiday

A last minute holiday before the end of the summer sounds like a great idea. As I flick through web page after web page I transport myself away from Essex and onto more exotic shores. There are a lot of things that I look for when booking a holiday, and I will do a whole lot of research before I take the kids anywhere new. We are a large Family with an age range of between seven and forty three so finding somewhere that is affordable and suits us all can sometimes be a bit tricky.

We are not a family who are satisfied with sitting around a pool all day. We like to be active and see as much of the surrounding area as possible. My lot have to have a full itinerary otherwise they will drive me mad. The top things we look for on a family holiday are:

1. Beach - We like to be near a beach, preferably within walking distance. The local beach will be researched thoroughly. It has to be clean and pretty to look at, with soft sand. I crave to sink my toes into a warm sandy beach. Even if its raining we like to walk along the beach with no shoes. A pebble beach doesn't really have the same appeal to us.

2. Accommodation - We don't mind budget accommodation as long as it is clean and big enough for large families. Once we have found accommodation I will check out as many online reviews as I can find. Quite a few bad reviews tend to be a sure sign that it is a 'no go' for us. Cleanliness is top priority.

3. Walking - We like to walk when we are on holiday, so good local walks are essential. We pack a picnic and enjoy our lunch along the way. Its a free activity too, which is great for holidays more on a budget. The kids sometimes moan a bit but, the promise of an ice cream once we reach our destination often keeps them going. Even better if there is something really exciting waiting for them at the end of the walk.

4. Public Transport. We always check out the local public transport links. I like to know all the timetables too and will print them off before I go on holiday. We often end up needing to catch a bus or train while we are away, so it's always handy to have a timetable in my bag.

5. Attractions - The kids love a big local attraction. A local theme or water park is a must for our Family. The more thrilling, the better! We will also check out reviews for any local attraction that we are planning on visiting. Value for money is priority. 

6. Evening Entertainment - Evening entertainment that is suitable for all ages is important to us. A place where the kids can hang out, dance, sing (within parent eye shot) and make new friends. Even if we leave early to tuck the younger ones up in bed, we like there to be something available for the adult kids to enjoy well into the night. Even if we are camping in the middle of nowhere, we will pick a site that allows a campfire in order to make our own evening entertainment.

7. Festivals, Events And Celebrations - I try to time a holiday around any local celebrations. Maybe the local town hosts a good art/music festival or a carnival. It often gives a nice chilled out vibe to an area with an air of excitement amongst the locals. The kids often really enjoy local events too.

8. History - I personally like to know the history of the town where I am staying (the kids joke that I am like a personal tour guide everywhere we go). If the local town is rich in history then I love it. The older kids don't always enjoy this but I tell them the history anyway in the hope it might actually sink in. Some historic sites are really enjoyable for the kids, again I fully research before I bother attempting to take them. 

9. Indoor pool - An indoor pool is a must for UK holidays. Our weather can't be guaranteed so indoor swimming is an activity that will pass a few hours if it rains.

10. Weather - As we like to be active on holiday we do not like it too hot, so Greece or Tunisia in the middle of August would not appeal to us. Places like that would be destinations that we would choose to go at the beginning or at the end of the summer. Perfect for a last minute getaway.

What Do You Look For In A Family Holiday?

Monday, 19 August 2013

Lollibop 2013 - We Had A Blast!

I am an Eastend girl, born and bred and although I now live an hour away, deep in the Essex countryside I do like to pop into Stratford every now and then, so I was thrilled to discover that Lollibop's new home is The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I love how much the area has changed over the past few years and I really like the urban feel to the venue.

The minute we stepped out of Stratford station we were greeted by Lollibop ladies dressed in bright pink rain jackets, handing out wet wipes. I was immediately impressed because I had forgotten to pack any in my bag. Nice touch, I liked it, a lot.

The park is a good 15/20 minute walk from the station, but it's a nice walk so we didn't mind. The pavement was lined with cheery Lollibop ushers guiding us along the way. All very friendly and helpful staff.

We went on the Friday and we queued for about ten minutes at the front gate, where we were issued with a map and a time table. You can also download and print off an information pack from the Lollibop website before you go.

Our seven year old Granddaughter was keen to take part in as many craft workshops as she could, and there were lots. We loved the Lalaloopsy tent. It was really well thought out, with lots of crafts, dress ups and a great goodie bag with toys (This was our favourite tent). We also really enjoyed the Magic Belles tent (the staff were lovely) and we had to drag our Granddaughter away, for fear of her spending all day in there.

There was character after character who were all more than happy to have photo's taken. Every single one made sure our Granddaughter felt special. They were all brilliant and I loved keep bumping into them throughout the day.

We made our way over to the meet & greet for Katy Ashworth from 'I Can Cook'. Our Granddaughter is a big fan and soooo wanted to meet her, but sadly we didn't get into the queue in time. Meet & greet slots go very fast indeed, you need to be super quick. I must admit it was our only disappointment of the day. Instead though, She was happy enough to have seen her, so close up in 'real life'.

Titan the Robot was a huge hit. We really enjoyed his performance and our Granddaughter was totally transfixed, she couldn't take her eyes off him.

We had a great time at the Disco shed with two fantastic entertainers who were full of energy and enthusiasm. We joined in with a sack race, which was so much fun.

There were lots and lots of free face painting tents, all with very long queues. We picked the Heart FM face painting simply because it had a great play area to keep the kids entertained while the parents queued. We couldn't go home without face painting so we didn't mind the long wait. 

The highlight of our day? Dick and Dom! They were fantastic. Hilariously funny for both adults and children. We loved every second of their show and we all cried with laughter. They really did make our day!

Food - I rarely buy food out, whenever we attend events as they tend to be a bit overpriced. At Lollibop there were lots of yummy looking food stalls to choose from, even a stall that sold fish finger sandwiches, which I thought was a great idea. There are lots of nice picnic areas, perfect for us. And I liked that there were loads of free food samples, including a free tub of luxury yogurt, yum!
Toilets - Typical festival loo's but clean and lots of them. We didn't have to wait to use them.
Baby changing & feeding - Plenty of tents with space to change & feed, including some with bean bags.
Ice cream - The price of an ice cream was £2.50. A bit pricey but to be expected at this type of event. As we didn't need to spend any money while we were at Lollibop we didn't mind splashing out on an ice cream.
Drinks - Take your own!

  • Plan before you go. Print off the free information pack and make a note of everything you want to do, especially with the meet & greets, design a T-shirt etc. Make sure you get to these chosen activities/shows in plenty of time.
  • Get there early! You will miss out if you don't.
  • Think of the weather. Take brollies and rain coats or plenty of water & sun cream.
  • Take an extra kid. If like us you are only taking one child, let them bring a friend too. Our Granddaughter had a blast but she would have loved it even more had she brought a buddy, her own age.

Bottom line - Do we recommend Lollibop?

Yes!!! Great event, we loved it. Over the past 23 years we have taken our four kids and our Granddaughter to a lot of events and this is right up the top of our list. Having read a few other reviews, it appears that the Saturday was a little too busy so it sounds as if the Friday had just the right amount of visitors as we didn't find it over crowded at all. We think it was well organised, the ticket price is well worth the money, there was plenty to entertain all ages (inc the adults), we got to meet lots & lots of characters and we really liked the fact that we were not pressurised into spending any money, unlike a lot of other places we have visited. A great day was had by all!

Standard - £28.00
Family of 4 - £110
Group (10+) - £23

Twitter - @lollibopuk 

*We were provided with free entry to Lollibop for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and our opinion is totally unbiased and our own.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

It has been a soul sucking week for me. Some people in my life are so negative & judgemental that it can really eat away at my self confidence. But I continue to stand tall with my head held high and carry on. I have no room for toxic people in my life.

1. My new medication for my heart problem has left me feeling so much better. I have more energy and I no longer constantly feel like I'm about to have a heart attack. And to think, I was really anxious about having to start these tablets.

2. I've lost nearly a stone! My new found energy has had me exercising like I used to. Me and Hubby have been going for an hour power walk every night. Its been great and I have really enjoyed it.

3. Our old rotten shed has been demolished! We are building a large summer house in its place to accommodate a dining table as my tiny house isn't big enough to have a table large enough for us all to get round. My lovely garden has been destroyed in the process but I'm so excited about my new room and I can easily get the garden looking great again..

How's Your Week Been?

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Gallery - Relax

 I like to relax in my cosy summer house. I feel so at ease while I'm sitting in the garden.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Magpie Monday - Camping and Slides

A few weeks ago I picked up a great retro mini cool box from my local charity shop for £1. It is in lovely, clean condition and it is the perfect size for a picnic or to keep butter, milk and some bacon during camping trips.


My Daughter and her boyfriend have an eye for a bargain too and found this fab vintage slide projector, with table and screen for £15.

I love it. The retro shape, colour and its immaculate condition is so appealing. A great buy.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow - The Pond

It's early on a Saturday morning and the many birds that gather on the vine that grows vigorously across the front of my little house wake me as they happily chirp out their birdsong. I love that so many birds nest amongst the safety of its twine, and that they all urge me to get up and look forward to another summer's day in the garden.

After showering and drinking my morning coffee, I make my way out into the garden. The warm air suddenly hits me as I step outside. The weather has been so hot for so long but I don't complain as I admire my Lillie's and hanging baskets, feeling pleased that the heatwave has produced my largest blooms yet. I  gently pick up a crate of Pansies and Saliva's and begin planting some baskets and pots for my Son's garden. I hope one day, my kids will adopt my love of gardening just like I did from my own parents and grandparents.

As I tenderly plant, my mind wanders back to my childhood as it so often does. I'm a sentimental soul and so many gardens from my past fill me with nostalgia. I think of my Nan Grace, such a clever, funny lady with so many creative talents. Gardening was one of them. I loved visiting my Nan & Grandad, especially as I knew my Auntie Jilly would be there.

The summer of 1975, my teenage Auntie Jilly has been dressing me up again, just like She always does. As she combs my hair into bunches and places an over sized pair of sunglasses on my face, she asks "What's your favourite band?" I eagerly reply "The Bay City Rollers!"

My 15 year old Auntie suddenly looks like she is about to be sick. "Oh no, not them, they are so rubbish! Your favourite group is The Osmonds, just like me!"  I know Jilly is right, She always is. Jilly is the coolest Auntie in the whole World and She knows everything. The Osmonds become my favourite group.

I excitedly skip outside to Nan's garden and tell the little girl from next door all about my new pop discovery. She becomes excited too, but as She is only three I suspect She hasn't a clue what I'm on about. Still, She thinks I'm all grown up because I know stuff that she doesn't. She thinks I'm cool and I grin, Just like Auntie does.

I turn to my Brother, behind me who is leaning over the pond trying to catch Nan's fish and I pretend to push him in. He jumps up and chases me around the wobbly edge of the water. I'm a bit worried because I know if he catches me I'm going straight in, and Nan wont be one bit pleased. Thankfully, he gives up and resumes his fish catching position.

The pond in Nan's garden was a dominant feature throughout our Childhood. How we didn't fall in, I'll never know. But now I'm ready for one too. A Pond just like Nan and Grandad.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Gallery - Play

There are lots of positives about being young Grandparents.

  One of them is that we can still enjoy the park.

Well, Grandad can, while Nanny takes the photo's.

Outdoor play is so important to kids and we encourage our's to enjoy being children with lots of park trips, crab fishing, den building, fairy hunting, bike riding, bug hunting, tree houses, tyre swings, pond dipping and having fun while they learn about the real world.


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