Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Whitworths and a Recipe for the Easiest Fruit Cake in the World!

I'm not known for my baking, but I know my boys love cooking. So when Whitworths offered to send us a baking kit for children, I gratefully accepted. The boys tucked into their healthy fruit snacks straight away.

I searched the many recipes on their website and found one for a rich fruit loaf. It's an all-in-one fruit cake, so perfect for non-bakers like me. It is also a lighter alternative to traditional Christmas cakes.

The boys 'helped' me measure out all of the ingredients, then we got mixing.

Two hours later and hey presto, we have a fruit loaf!

And it's edible!

The proof of the pudding...

Thank you Whitworths, both for the baking kit and for the easiest fruit cake recipe in the world. It really is delicious and has made me feel like I'm an accomplished baker (with a little help from my boys)!


Tonka Chuck's Garage Deluxe Stunt Playset

Tonka Chuck's Garage Deluxe Stunt Playset is a stunt park with a Tonka Chuck motorised vehicle, made by Hasbro.

Once assembled your child can set Chuck going and watch him do stunts. There is interaction as they have to help him onto the bridge section. They can also direct him where to go by positioning the track to keep him moving.

Presley, 3 and Cash, 2, absolutely loved this toy. I have to admit being a little surprised by this as they normally like to control all the vehicles in the house by 'brumming' them. The both spent hours watching and helping Chuck. The stunts are excellent and I found it mesmerising to watch! There is also a Chuck story book to set the scene.

We weren't keen on the packaging. We had to tear the box to get everything out. This meant that we couldn't then store it in the box. Also, there are sections that once clipped together do not come apart, so you need a large box to keep it in.

Having said that this toy gets the thumbs up from us.

You can see this and other toys in the range in action on YouTube.

Tonka Chuck's Garage Deluxe Stunt Playset is currently available for £34.99 (down from £39.99) at Toys R Us


Red or Dead Tights at Tightsplease

Tightsplease.co.uk sent me a pair of their new range of tights from Red or Dead.

This is the first time I've worn snazzy tights and I'm a convert. They are more expensive than the tights I normally buy, but they are excellent quality and a good fit. There is a massive range, whether you're after the rock chick look or something more cosy. They most certainly cater for the party animal - perfect for those Christmas parties!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Snowflake CD

If you're after a gorgeous Christmas CD, look no further.

Snowflake is a collection of 16 festive favourites, including 'Jingle Bells', 'Frosty the Snowman', 'White Christmas', 'The First Noel' and 'Little Donkey'. They have fresh arrangements, but are still the classic Christmas carols we know and love. Sung by Sophie Barker (Zero 7) and produced by KK (Bjork, Eno), these songs made me feel instantly Christmassy.

I am a big fan of the music of Zero 7 and I wish I could sing like Sophie Barker, although now I have the CD I can try to sing along!

The CD was joyous yet calming and my boys seemed to enjoy listening to it as much as I did.

Snowflake is available from Amazon for £7.99.


Monday, 6 December 2010


The HEXBUG Nano is nothing to look at, while it's stationary. Turn it on and place it on a hard surface and you have the most amazing toy.

It looks and sounds like a cockroach (particularly the black one). In fact, the black one still freaks me out! They scuttle around like little bugs. If you put one on its back, it will flip over. They come in many colours and can be collected. All the information you need is online at HEXBUG.

The best thing about these little chaps is that you can contain them. You can build worlds for them to explore. You can buy habitats for them. It's back to basics in our house though. My boys have theirs in shoe boxes. Add a few props to the boxes and you can watch them for hours. We put two HEXBUG Nanos in a shoe box, along with a small football (ping pong ball size) and watched them play football. It was mesmerising.

£8.99 for a small electronic bug sounds a lot, but there aren't enough superlatives to describe the HEXBUG Nano. It is, quite simply, a brilliant toy.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Good Food, Fast

I think this new Dairy Cookbook, Good Food, Fast, (£9.99) must have been written for me.

All the meals are ready in thirty minutes. I love eating, but mostly life is too short to spend hours cooking a meal in the week.

With a handy 'cook's information' section at the beginning to get you organised, the book then goes on to cover speedy soups, quick fixes, everyday eating, frozen assets, side orders and desserts, followed by a chapter called 'take the biscuit'. Me likey.

My favourite recipe from the book so far is the one for mushroom and pesto tarts. The instructions were spot on and clear. The tart was quick and easy to make and was delicious. The combination of chestnut mushrooms, puff pastry, pesto, pinenuts and parmesan was superb.

Good Food, Fast is a welcome addition to my kitchen.


Friday, 3 December 2010

CBeebies Song Time CD

Finally, 50 CBeebies theme tunes on one CD!

If your little one watches CBeebies they will be familiar with a lot of these songs. 

Our favourites theme tunes are Zingzillas, In the Night Garden, Green Balloon Club, Numberjacks, Bob the Builder and Mister Maker.

There were some we didn't know and some slightly unusual versions, but overall this went down well in the Calico household. I had to dance to each one - thanks, boys! I know you can't please everyone, but I would have liked the seasons songs on there too.

At £8.93 (the current price on Amazon), this CD is great value for money. It hasn't replaced the Zingzillas CD in the car yet (I'm not sure anything ever will), but it has been nice to listen to around the house. 


Thursday, 2 December 2010

And the Winners of the Fairy Competition are...

The first prize of two bottles of Fairy Non Bio (18-wash size), two bottles of Fairy Fabric Softener (750ml variant) and £50 of Mothercare vouchers goes to...

Congratulations to Maria (@manaiasmama)!


The second prize of one bottle of Fairy Non Bio (18-wash size) and one bottle of Fairy Fabric Softener (750ml variant) goes to...

Congratulations to Erica (@ericahughes)!

Please email your addresses to me at sandycalico (at) ymail (dot) com and I will arrange for you to be sent your prizes.

Thank you to everyone who took park and thank you to Fairy for providing such wonderful prizes.