Wide-Mouth Wednesday

We spent a few days in Warwickshire this half-term visiting my in-laws. We went to Hatton Country World on Monday, for farm and playground fun. They even had a real pumpkin patch, complete with a Pumpkin Scarecrow Monster (as we called him). Dubz, at two years old, is obsessed with monsters and anything that might say 'arrrrr'. I tried to get a photo of Dubz with the scarecrow but his ever-talking, ever-wide-mouthed sister was in the way. We finally managed to go pick pumpkins, after dragging Dubz away from the Pumpkin Scarecrow Monster. Arrrrrr. *scary face*



Super Loop Bands

You may have heard of a little something called Loom Bands. Well, I have had enough of them. I find them all over my damn house. Under the sofa, behind the bin, in beds and scattered all over the floor. So when I was approached to review these Interplay MyStyle Super Loop Bands, I was a bit hesitant. But my  six-year old daughter, Moozles, loves making jewelry so I thought we'd give it a go.

The first thing I noticed was that the box was much bigger than it needed to me. You could have fit three times the amount of loop bands as were in the box. And as each kit is priced at £9.99, I think there should have been more bands. But to be fair, the bands do look to be of a much better quality than the average loom band.

There was a clear instruction booklet which showed how to make the bracelets. Moozles loved these loop bands. They are bigger and thicker than regular loom bands. She made the bracelets with her fingers, and without using a loom. The colours were vibrant. The s-clips were sturdy and silver.

Although this product is aimed towards children eight and over, Moozles had no problems using the product by herself. She made three bracelets in about 40 minutes. One for herself, one for a school friend and a bigger/adult-sized for one of her godmothers (the latter used up twice the amount of loop bands). When she took the two small bracelets to school, the other girls went crazy for them. They were charmed by the thick bands and the silver s-clips. My daughter gave both of her bracelets away and several of her friends have asked for these super loop bands for upcoming birthdays. I guess I better get shopping.

Super Loop BandsSuper Loop BandsSuper Loop BandsSuper Loop BandsSuper Loop Bands


Family Fever
We were sent a box of Super Loop Bands for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


Monthly Monday Melfie

Do you ever look through your camera roll to fawn over your darling little children? Fun family days, cooking and crafts, silly moments. All captured easily on our camera phones. But do your children ever ask 'Mummy, where are you'? Or perhaps you look at your family having fun, and wish that there was a record of you too? Well, here's your chance.

Pop on the forward-facing function on your camera, or get in front of a mirror or window. And take a photo of you and your child(ren). Take a  melfie (mum selfie). I don't know about you, but there just aren't enough photos of me with the kids. I take hundreds of photos each week, and always capture special moments between my husband and the kids. But I rarely remember to ask my husband to take photos of me and the kids. And he never thinks of it (he is not much of a picture-taker anyway).

So, I am hoping you will all join me. Once a month, on the first Monday of each month. Let's get mums back in the picture. Link up a post. It could be one melfie, or a collection of several. It could be just photos, without words. Or you can include an explanation behind the pics. The photos just need to be taken by you (or even one of your children if they are in the photo). And the photos must contain at least one mummy and at least one child. If any of you dads out there want to take part, then melfie can also stand for 'mother-effin-cool-dad selfie'.

I hope to see you all on Monday, 3rd November 2014 for the first Monthly Monday Melfie. Link up, and tweet up. #monthlymondaymelfie

Californian Mum in London


That's right, it's Wednesday again. Which means another ridiculous photo of one of my ridiculous children. This time it's da boy. Last week, after he finished his lunch, I told Dubz that it was time to go upstairs for a nap. And he reacted like any normal two-year old. He got up onto the table and had a cry. Eventually he marched himself upstairs and passed out within one minute of being put into his cotbed.

Get Off The Table Wednesday Get Off The Table Wednesday Get Off The Table Wednesday





Pop on over to the Brummiest BrummyMummyof2 for more real pictures of funny family life.




American Goodies at American SodaAmerican Goodies from American Soda

One of the toughest parts about being an expat, after being apart from family and friends, is missing the food of your homeland. When I moved to London, 13 years ago, I could not get my hands on any American food items. But these days it is a lot easier to find American groceries in the UK. Besides some basics you can find at the big supermarkets, there are specialty online websites that offer American food and drinks.

American Soda is one website that offers a vast range of American drinks, candy, food and baking goods. All of which can be delivered to the UK, Ireland and Europe. To celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary, American Soda are offering one lucky reader to win some fab American goods. And you don't even need to be an American expat to enter!

On offer is a six-pack of Dad's Root Beer, a tub of Marshmallow Creme, a tub of Toasted Marshmallow Creme and a credit of £5 to spend on anything you might like to try. If you're not familiar with Marshmallow fluff, besides eating it sinfully from the tub, you can use it to make rice krispies treats, gooey brownies and cookies and lots more. You can also use it as a frosting on cakes or cupcakes. Check out this Huff Post piece for more ideas, and mouth-watering photos.

American Goodies at American Soda


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Jack Skellington Cupcakes

My six-year old daughter, Moozles, is beyond excited at the prospect of Halloween. So this weekend we put up some decorations and did some baking. I have recently renewed my relationship with Pinterest. And after a browse, Moozles decided that these Jack Skellington cupcakes were what she wanted. There is obviously not much instruction there, so I thought I would share what we did.

Whenever I ask what kind of cake we should make, everyone asks for chocolate. So, I make my Husband's favourite chocolate cake recipe (if I make chocolate cake for kids, I use a more kid-friendly recipe). Since my family members are chocoholics, they can handle this fudgey cake based on Mary Berry's Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
175g self-raising flour
280g caster sugar
100g butter (room temperature)
3 large free-range eggs
50ml whole milk (I use Lactofree)
40g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 160C (fan-assisted)/180C. Mix all the ingredients, apart from the last three. In a separate bowl, blend the cocoa powder and the boiling water, then add to   the rest of the mixture. Add the baking powder and mix.

This can be baked as 12-15 cupcakes or in two 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes.Leave to cool in the pan before icing.

Buttercream Icing
180 icing sugar
90g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix half the sugar with the rest of the ingredients. Once that is blended, add the restof the icing sugar. I use a hand blender for icing. I also use a tea towel to cover thebowl so that my kitchen isn't covered in icing sugar. Then spread the icing onto the   cupcakes.

To decorate the cupcakes:
You could either use black gel food colouring on some of the icing to make the eyes, 
nose and mouth.
I had some leftover Renshaw ready to roll icing (Lakeland) from the lion cake I made 
for my son's birthday in May. I cut that up and let Moozles add them to her cupcakes. 
The beauty of these cupcakes is that they do not need to look perfect.

Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes



Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington Cupcakes Jack Skellington CupcakesSo, we have made Halloween cupcakes. The house is partly decorated. Next week we will be going to our local pumpkin patch. Then next Friday we will be trick-or-treating around our neighbourhood. Roll on Halloween!

Halloween & Jack Skellington CupcakesHalloween & Jack Skellington Cupcakes


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com



Learning How To Blog

Today marks my one-year anniversary of blogging; my blogiversary. The year has flown by. I had started a blog on Blogger three years before, but hadn't actually had the nerve to write anything. So one night, impulsively, I came up with a new name, a design, and wrote this post. I think I probably only had six or seven readers the first month, but I really enjoyed the writing.

I had almost no idea how blogging works. I didn't do any linkys, or take many photos. I didn't sign up to Britmums or Mumsnet or Tots100. But I wrote. And often not very eloquently. My blog was my diary. Then in December, whilst recuperating from a laparoscopy, something clicked. I started writing more regularly, figured out how to join linkys and started to publicise my blog posts on Twitter. In April 2014, I was short-listed for a Brilliance in Blogging award in the category of Fresh Voice. Though I did not make the finals (and completely did not expect to), I was given new-found confidence. I went self-hosted (in WordPress) in June, and have enjoyed blogging more with each passing month.

I had been feeling isolated as a SAHM, and blogging made me feel part of a community. Especially as an expat, it is easy to feel different and isolated. I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and two such spirited children. And I am lucky that I actually love living in the UK. But sometimes I just want to chat about random crap, and my two-year old just wants to eat toast and watch Mr Tumble. At the time, Dubz was only one and didn't talk or watch television.

So, for anyone thinking about blogging or who is new to blogging, here are some things that I have learned in the past year.

1. Write because you want to write. There are thousands and thousands of parenting blogs on the market. Don't just write because you think you might get free stuff. Write because you have something to share, something to share and/or something to record.

2. Use a spell check. It can be so irrritating to find misspelled word after misspelled word. Also, read your post out loud. This gives a good indication to how well your sentences flow.

3. Learn what blogging entails. Tots100 have lots of great blogging tutorials, so go have a look. Britmums is also a fab blogging network and its blogging how-tos are extremely helpful. I have also found the Newbie Class from Potty Mouthed Mummy to be a lifesaver.

4. Make friends. Many of us began blogging to fill an empty space in our lives. Writing, reviewing, going to events--yes, these can all be fun. But get on Twitter or Facebook. Chat. Butt in on conversations. Get to know the people who follow you and who you follow.

Enough of my reflection and advice. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog (whether you were there for the first post or if you discovered me last week). Thank you for your tweets and comments. And for filling up the little empty space in my life. xx