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10 June 2019

Our half term: We went on a bear hunt!

How was your half-term? I know this was a couple weeks ago, but it has been really difficult to sit down and update my blog. Nevertheless I am catching up more often than use to!

Our half-term was spent at home, but we were able to do a lot of activities... The local libraries and our local art gallery were offering diverse holiday activities for both toddlers and young children. I do try to be creative and to come up with crafty things for both kidos to do, but if I can have the fun and have less mess up to clean up afterwards, the better. So we went to our local library, we read lots of books... And for crafty things we went to our local art gallery and made some pinatas! However,  our favourite activity was attending for the very first time the Nuffield childrens' theatre, which was featuring until the 2nd June 'We are going on a bear hunt'!

The kidos absolutely loved the show, and to be honest so did mummy! The activities and the excitment began even before the show. The Nuffield theatre prepared an actually 'bear hunt', a treasure hunt really. We could ask at the ticket office for a map to look for bears around  Highfield Campus. My oldest was so excited to follow the map and find the bears! My youngest, its just fun to run around tailing his older brother! The actual 'bear hunt' was a fun way to release some energy before the show! And it was also educational, not only had my oldest to read a map, as the bears had letters and we had to form a word. And after finding all the bears and the missing word, it as theatre time!

The show was really engaging, with catchy songs  -  which until today are sang 'we are not, not not, not not scared!'
The dog was absolutely delightful to hear sing, extremely funny  and so very expressive therefore it became instantly the favourite character for both kidos: wof...!

I was concerned that since my youngest since he is only two, that staying for almost an entire hour watching a show might be too pushy, particularly since he is really active. However, as the show was full of surprises, splashes and so engaging that the  hour went on a flash, and both my oldest and youngest were attentive following the show. The actors  began by asking what does a bear look like, which every kid was so excited to answer and explain... The contributions were dutifully noted... Nobody has seen a bear live did we? 

 Every now and then in the middle of the show we could hear a bear roar. A footprint was also found! All kids were eager to let dad, girl and boy about it! This kept my kidos inquisitive, so where is the bear? Did you see the footprint? Mummy did you hear a bear? Unsurprisingly, the best part for both was when we finally met the bear. My youngest screamed with delight when the gigantic Teddy Bear made his appearance on the stage.... He could not stop saying 'Its a bear' 'Its a big bear' 'Muuuuummmy its a bear' he was so happy! 

We all loved this show... And we are definitely going 'On a bear hunt' when given the opportunity again.  Here is a sample of the show:

Since we enjoyed going to the theatre so much we are also making plans to watch another show! Actually, it was the kids that when seeing the 'Gruffalo' said that wanted to see that show as well! And we most certainly will!


17 April 2019

My Monday Baking: Sweet Buns "Arrufadas de Coimbra"

Hello you!

It has been a long time since I last posted my baking adventures... Since Easter is arriving, I wanted to try some sweet buns recipes. So I ventured and I attempted a new recipe, Coimbra's sweet buns. These sweet buns are based on a Portuguese recipe, their original name are "Arrufadas de Coimbra" and are very typical for Easter. It has been a long time since I last had "arrufadas",  these are really hard to come by in the U.K. (actually,  impossible!). And since I had no idea how to bake these, I did what anyone does, googled a recipe and .... lets bake!

I found a recipe at Doces Regionais ,  and adapted it. I did not used the original measurements that that site suggested. I felt that using 2000g of flour would be a bit too much! Considering that most probably I would find myself having a failed first attempt (which I actually did), I did not wanted to waste so much. Also, if you feel like trying this receipt, bear in mind that it will take a long time to actually bake these buns, as they have to be proofed for a whole night. 

These are the ingredients I used:
650 g flour
4 eggs
20g fresh yeast
100g butter
165g caster sugar

And a picture of my sweet buns looks! Yum!

And the method....:

Mix the flour, sugar and a bit of salt.  I also had to activate the yeast before adding it to the flour mixture. I had to use warm water,  sugar and mix it with the yeast.  Then, I had to wait until there is foam on top of the liquid mixture and that's it, my yeast is active! Then mix it with the previously prepared flour mixture, add the melted butter, eggs and mix it for 10 min.

Now it's time for the troublesome kneading stage... The dough is very sticky, so kneading it was very difficult. I followed this video, which had some good pointers:

After the dough is kneaded, I left it to proof during the night.  I covered the dough with cling film in a large bowl and waited for the morning to arrive. Yes, it is a very long proofing stage.
But my dough more than doubled the size...!
After the proofing stage I divided the dough in eight small dough balls and placed them in an oven tray and proofed for another 30min. Afterwards, I brushed the buns with egg yolk and sprinkled with both icing and caster sugar. I preheated the oven to 200C, and placed my sweet buns in the oven. After 30min, your sweet buns are ready! Yummy sweet buns ready for breakfast!

I am thoroughly proud of how these sweet buns turned out. Bear in mind  though, that this is a second attempt...

In a first attempt I did not used fresh yeast but regular dry yeast. It did not work for me, the dough did not rise once proofed. Heres a photo of my first attempt at these sweet buns and the second more successful bash:

The difference between the buns texture is pretty obvious... My first attempt resulted in very hard buns. Not fluffy and tasty as my second try. I am not sure what went wrong with me using the dry yeast, but I could see that during my kneading stage that the dough was not changing and becoming elastic, the gluten was not activated. It worked with the fresh yeast though!

I will be defenitely baking these again as these are really tasty yummy! And both kidos loved them... So kids' approved sweet buns!
Did you try any new recipes for Easter?

01 April 2019

My Monday making: Children's Tee-Pee

I am planning to write this post for a very long time. I can literally say that this post took years to make!
If you follow my Pinterest account, a couple years ago I was mostly pinning tee-pees. I fall deeply in love with a couple of them! After seeing inspired by a few designs I started to sketch my very own tee-pee pattern. I wanted a tee-pee where my kids could actually be standing once inside, which actually does not happen with most designs I was finding. I will be summarising below the best way I can my process of sketching and making my tee-pee. 

Step 1: Sketch your pattern
You will need to carefully design a tee-pee that better fits you needs, weight in the space you have available, and the overall use that you wish to give your tee-pee. Do you want your kids to play with your tee-pee outside? Do you have a lot of space available? Overall the use and size of your tee-pee  will impact the fabrics selection  and how much you will need to purchase.  You don't want  having to return to store and find your fabric gone if you purchase less fabric. Or you don't want to purchase fabric that will not last not even a few hours of play!

The conception of my pattern was not that difficult, particularly as there is a world of tee-pees out there to feed your imagination! I loved this one, also love the gift to illustrate the tee-pee too!  However,  thinking about the assembly and actually sowing and merging the pieces together was! The amount of fabric use is tremendous and actually sowing the pieces together can be quite difficult,  particularly towards the end. Just the sheer amount of fabric is huge!  I also decided to use contrasting fabrics for the tee-pee, so I ended up cutting and sowing together many pieces. The end result is beautiful, but it was very time consuming (adding that I do not use my sowing machine that much!) 

My tee-pee is actually quite high... And can make it higher given that I am using really long dowels so I can slide the tent and make the tee-pee higher, even if I leave empty space closer to the floor.

Step 2: Gather and purchase your materials
The dowels I purchased are the longest I could find, 2,40 meters, with 18mm diameter, I purchased these at my local B&Q store. The fabric selection was my favorite part. Who does not enjoy fabric shopping? My tee-pee was intended to be used both outdoors and indoors, so I knew that the fabric needed to be quite strong, otherwise even if I had a beautiful teepee, it would not last long, particularly if I used cotton fabric. So I chose upholster fabrics from my local Dunelm store. They were having a sale at the time, so I took the chance to buy fabrics at a cheaper price. These were picked by my kids since in the end the tee-pee would be used by them, so I allowed them to choose the fabric pattern. My oldest was at the time in a 'planet and universe' stage so he picked a space themed fabric and a contrasting stary one too. Altogether, between the two different fabrics I purchased around 7m.  I also purchased a lot of white rope. This would be used both for the entrance of my tee-pee as to tie in the dowels in step 4.
Note: If you will use my sketch as a model, you will have to add seem allowance to your measurements.

Step 3: Cut and Sew your tee-pee 
I cut 4 dowels sleeves, 5 large side pieces (2 were the tee-pee entrance, as the picture below shows) and 4 top smaller pieces. I began by sowing together the two pieces of the contrasting fabric for the generic tee-pee side, so I would have a whole side. I did this for the three tee-pee sides. For the entrance I had to sow together three pieces, as two pieces of fabric have to slide open to enter the tee-pee. You could the entrance differently, as a beautiful mess shows.  Its all up to your imagination! For the entrance  I also added a rope that can tie in place the tee-pee entrance, which will keep the entryway open:

After having the sides ready, you have to sew together two sides, alongside the pre-cut dowel sleeve. Before stitching the three pieces using the sowing machine, I cobbled using the actually dowel as a model. You have to make sure that the dowel can actually slide in. Otherwise you may find yourself having to unpick your work when discover that the dowel does not slide in. Yes, that happened to me...

Once you have two sides stitched together, you just add another dowel sleeve plus another side and sow these together. Just keep repeating this process  until you close up the 'tee-pee pyramid'. After just sewing two sides together, the amount of fabric just keeps getting heavier and it can get very difficult to sew.
I also decided to sew a rug for the tee-pee floor and with the fabrics leftovers also made a bunting and a couple of cushions. You can see the final tee-pee with both cushions and bunting below.

Step 4: Assembly your tee-pee
Once you have your tent ready, its just a matter of assembly the dowels and the tent. To assembly the tee-pee you first need to tie the dowels together. I used a lot of rope at this stage. For the knots I looked up for inspiration online. I found this tutorial at wikihow on how to tie the knot and I followed it to secure the dowels in place. I also found that some tutorials recommend to drill the dowels to thread the rope in. I skipped this altogether... It is true that having the rope thread in wholes will keep the rope secured in place, but it's not entirely necessary to be honest. My tee-pee has two years now, and the original knots I made are still in place. I am also opening and closing the tee-pee all the time, as we are using the tee-pee both indoors and outdoors... Even with all the opening and closing it up as an umbrella in the end of the day, the original knots are still there.  I do have to slide up the rope sometimes but thats about it. 

Step 5: Enjoy your tee-pee!
This is better part! Enjoying your work... and seeing how much your kids enjoy the tee-pee you made! They have so much fun just  by placing the tee-pee in place. And then, just by going in and out... Closing the entrance, opening the entrance! 

Iam very proud of my roomy tee-pee.  Even with lots of cushions inside (so its as comfortable as you possibly can make) both kidos fit perfectly inside... Since the dowels are very long, we can make more room inside the tee-pee by pulling the tent a little bit higher. You can fill in the spaces with extra cushions.

The cushions will also add extra comfort when outside.

I love to add the cushions and soft toys to this little tent. Its so very inventing to just lay in inside... Use it for some chill time... And it is a really comfortable spot to do some reading!

Now that the weather is so inviting since the spring finally arrived, we surely will be using the tee-pee outside everyday!

I linked up:

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