Saturday, 27 October 2018

PYO Pumpkins at Tulley's Farm, Sussex - review

I've been thrilled that more and more Halloween trends have been making their way across the pond in the last few years!  I love that Americans go all out at Halloween, I've always loved it (and been super jealous of the Halloween section in Pottery Barn) and with the new (as far as I'm aware, or maybe its just a recent Insta-trend) pumpkin patches popping up everywhere, there is even more seasonal fun to be had over here.

This is the first time we've actually made it to one and it was after a full day of Halloweening!  We went along to review Tulley's Farm Spook Fest (the family friendly daytime version of their super scary Halloween Festival) and had to stop at their pumpkin patch on our way home to grab some gourds.

Luckily as it was the end of a sunny day, we were lucky with the light too and I, of course, took a fair few photos of our fun and frolics as the twins and their friend had a whale of a time!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Halloween Makeup with My Beloved Makeup - review

If you are after a really good make-up artist to do an awesome job of making up your kids (or indeed yourself) for Halloween, I can highly recommend Emese Csoma who runs My Beloved Makeup in Uckfield.  She'll come to your home with her supplies and work her magic to create some amazing designs.  I worked with her recently on a collaboration as I love her designs and she wanted some new photos of her work so she came to paint the twins with Mexican sugar skulls to go with the Day of the Dead outfits I bought last year which were too big!

Due to them still being somewhat un-cooperative at times (ha) and us wanting to aim for early morning light (we were hoping for another foggy morning but at least we got sunshine), she kept it simple with plain white designs which we knew would stand out really well against their Indian toned skin and would be quicker to apply before they got fed up and/or the sun got too high.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Party planning for the twin's 4th birthday - Rainbow Tea Party with balloons!

We had planned to take the twins away for their birthday this year, we were thinking Disneyland Paris and thought we'd go early to see it all done up for Halloween!  We were just going to have a small party on their birthday when we came back.  We've never been before but I can't wait to take the twins.  My only visit to Disney was as a 14 year old in Florida which was amazing so I can't wait to take K&P!  We booked that week off but after the stress and then relief of Nik's exams which are now finally over, Nik suggested we ask his parents to babysit for a few days and we just go away on our own this time (not to Disney, we'll wait for the kids to come to that one).  We're just going for 4 nights as I have my first exhibition at the end of that week to prepare for which is exciting too!

So, the twins's 4th birthday party plans...

We've decided this year we wanted needed to organise a much smaller do than last year.  I was exhausted after all the Halloween efforts for their 3rd birthday and this year has been intense already with various hurdles and knackering month after month so we're having a small tea party at home.  I decided the best way to invite guests would be to ask the twins who they want to come.  It's their perfect guest list as they obviously just listed all the friends they see often and consider their best friends so we are inviting 6 friends who will hopefully be able to make it, perfect to fit round the table without too much chaos as we already have 8 chairs.

Even though it will be small, I'm still excited to plan it and will of course be having a rainbow theme!  Rainbow fits so well for twins who are like chalk and cheese with very different favourite things, they do both love bright colours and it's gender neutral which makes me happy anyway.  They do both love balloons too so for this year's entertainment we have hired a balloon twister who does a whole show with balloon magic tricks and models and makes it all fun so I'm pretty sure they will LOVE that!

I've already got paper plates and matching napkins, etc. from Sainsbury's with a gorgeous rainbow balloon design which is perfect!  I also have the bunting and wrapping paper (I even framed a gift bag I love it so much)!

I can't remember if I already bought the above invitations but these ones below were on sale in Paperchase so I got a pack of six, I love the pop-up design.

As for food ideas, again, plenty of inspiration on Pinterest and I'm aiming for simple but tasty and pretty!  I love the healthier ideas of veggie pizzas and coloured popcorn but of course some sweet treats too like rainbow cupcakes and jelly but I'll use a mould and do one big one rather than use more disposable plastic.

I will definitely be doing rainbow fruits again too like I did for their Naming Ceremony in 2015 although probably not a full on rainbow cake again - I prefer to aim for taste and that cake wasn't the best to eat despite looking awesome!

Capture from Anna's lovely video of the Naming Day.

And for a bit more fun, I've bought a rainbow pinata and I like the idea of a homemade DIY to give as party favours like this dyed pasta jewellery making idea or a rainbow wand maybe.  I also bought these pretty crackers from Paperchase which come with stickers inside which I know the kids will love, why should crackers just be for Christmas?  ;)

I can't wait, I think they're going to love it!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Halloween Party Food Ideas

The food for the twins' party last year was so fun!  I got loads of ideas from Pinterest and some were easier than others!  The banana ghosts were the easiest, just chop them in half, draw some spooky faces on and stand them up on a plate.  Job done.  Same with the hard boiled eggs - boil them, draw on faces and they're ready to serve. 

The witches broomsticks were tricky - Nik made these out of cheese strings (NOT my first choice of cheese but this was style over substance clearly), shredded to make the broom ends and straight pretzels inserted in, tied with a chive.  The pretzels were hard to find, good old M&S came up trumps there and the cheese kept splitting where he pushed them in but he did such a great job!  I made the witches fingers out of cocktail sausages with flaked almonds stuck on with tomato chutney to make bloody fingernails.  The vomiting watermelon was easy, just chop off the top, scoop out the melon and turn it upside down, carve a mouth and place the watermelon bits and other fruits coming out of the mouth on a big plate.

I've already written about the epic saga of the cakes - they looked pretty awesome though and took me ages so I'm sharing them again!

The overall Banquet of the Dead looked fab on the spooky tablecloths over two long tables with my big black candelabra and Halloween bunting and various skulls and Halloween crockery to set it all off.

Nik's Mum made the eyeballs for us, simply Babybel cheeses with black sliced olives for the centre and red food colouring painted on for the bloodshot effect.

I had cheese balls in a big bowl with a scary ladle, Twiglets in a skull goblet and I cut pumpkin shapes out of raw carrot which was really easy too, just cut the shape out of one side before you slice them.  I ran out of time to carve the big pumpkins though!

Oh and we also had a "poison" bar for the kids and grown ups.  Coloured orange juice for kids and green dyed gin or blue vodka for the adults!  The red one is some Christmas liqueur I made long ago!

I just love coming up with spooky ideas for Halloween!  Tell me if you have any great ideas to share, I'd love to see photos if you try any of these too!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Halloween Party Ideas

For the twins' 3rd birthday I wanted to have a Halloween party for them.  I'm a big fan of Halloween and love all of the decorations, games, fancy dress and food ideas so I did loads of research in advance, mainly on Pinterest, and came up with a few favourites I wanted to do.  I hired a local village hall in Maresfield to keep the inevitable mess out of my home and had a great time making and baking for the big day.

Twins' 3rd birthday cakes - recipes and decoration - Pin it do it

I thought I'd finished writing this last year but apparently not!  I've just added the photos so here it is in time for this year's Halloween if you're after a spooky cake idea.  Sadly I don't really have any "during" photos as it was a bit frantic the evening before their party!!

For weeks before the big day, carrot cake was requested by the twins for their birthday cakes this year.  There was a last minute change from one of them suddenly wanting chocolate cake and so the two cakes this year were decided.  I had already chosen a design to go with their Halloween party theme and hoped to make two monster cakes much like the one I saw on Pinterest but as separate cakes.  I asked them which colour monsters they'd like and orange and green were the final choices.  (Perfect Halloween colours too!)

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Buxted Inn Sunday Roast review

You may have heard that The Buxted Inn is under new management.  They have a brand new menu which I'm dying to try but this weekend we went along to sample their Sunday Roast to see if we still love it there!

I'm happy to say we did, we had a lovely afternoon eating together (back as a family of four again) followed by a walk in Buxted Park hunting for acorns and conkers for Show and Tell at pre-school.

The roasts are as good quality as ever with delicious meat and generous portions.  Nik and I opted for the beef and the twins shared a children's roast pork.

The roast pork

The beef was served medium and was so tender and juicy.  The potatoes were lovely too, properly crispy without being tough or dry.  The Yorkshires were huge and crispy on top with yummy soft bottoms and there was plenty of gravy although I'm not convinced it was homemade but I could be wrong.  We were served veg on the side which consisted of green beans, chantarelle carrots and cauliflower cheese - yum!  We only had one bit of cauliflower each so I nearly ordered more as a side but we planned to have pudding anyway so I resisted.

Pudding was a bit disappointing for me, I ordered the cheesecake but it had a very strange texture, almost like Semolina and tasted similar too and the base was soggy.  The roasted apricots that came with it were nice but I definitely wish I ordered something else instead or had a starter.  Nik's was a bit odd too but his was tasty.  A dark chocolate concoction with a strange sticky, chewy coating and a lovely puddle of toasted marshmallow next to it.  He enjoyed his and the twins loved their Downs View Farm ice-cream as always.

The bill was very reasonable, I think it came to £53 for two main roasts, one kids' roast, a glass of Malbec, a ginger ale, two milks, two ice-cream scoops, two desserts and a latte.

Service was friendly and efficient as always, they found us some dominoes to keep the kids entertained while waiting for pudding (which did take a long time) as the usual games and toys they used to have in the bar area are gone.

Overall we had a lovely meal, I just chose poorly for dessert.  I think we'll be back to try the usual menu soon and we noticed they do a lunchtime deal Mon-Sat for a tenner which is great value.

The twins' first cinema experience at The Picture House Uckfield - review

We found out one Saturday that there was a sing-along showing of The Little Mermaid at our local independent cinema, The Picture House.  Turns out, the Saturday morning film is a regular thing and they often have sing-along versions for the kids (and grown ups) to join in.  Nik's Mum and I took the twins along as we thought they'd love it and I do love The Little Mermaid, such a classic.

K chose his own outfit (tights and top) and asked for a ponytail like Priya's
It's on at 10:30am every Saturday, the following week was Moana sing-a-long although they're not always sing-a-long versions.  This weekend it's Incredibles 2.

It started off really well, the kids were delighted with their own popcorn and loved sitting in the big seats.  When the film started they were initially mesmerised and Kalyan was dancing in the aisles!  Unfortunately it turned out they were still a little bit young for the cinema as it was quite loud in parts and K was very upset, covering his ears and asking to leave.  Once the popcorn was gone too, they became much more restless but we did make it until the end.  Kalyan has asked never to go back to the loud place though which is a shame, maybe next year when they're almost 5.

We also tried to go for lunch in the Picture House Restuarant after but their behaviour got worse and became uncontrollable so I had to take them home just as the food arrived!  Gutted.  Luckily Ma and Dadaji brought it home for us to eat when they were finished.  I didn't see the point in us all having to leave although it did leave my friend, who met us there, having lunch with my in-laws!

The next day was more successful as we went to our favourite place - Wilderness Wood.  Always a hit and this time we managed a nice walk around the woods too and not just in the play areas.  And lunch of course with some cake after our walk and more cookies as big as the kids' heads!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Exploring Buxted Park

Despite living a stones throw from Buxted Park, we haven't ever managed a full walk around the country estate.  After our Sunday Roast at The Buxted Inn at the weekend, we went to explore it properly and actually try to make it down to the "duck pond" at the bottom which we knew the twins would love.

We parked by the church near the hotel and started our walk through the old gate at the back of the churchyard.

Kalyan was most distraught by all the nettles guarding the last of the brambles he could see and P loved being the gatekeeper.  We then wandered down, past all the grazing cows to reach the big pond/small lake.

Twin cows and twin dragonflies ;)

Then we found a little island with a path across and the kids liked throwing twigs in to the ducks (who soon swam off when they realised it wasn't actually food) and I may have encouraged some kissing action which resulted in some hilarious laughter photos!

They had a bit of a run around away from the cows so we didn't scare them and we slowly made our way back up with lots of rests as K was too tired apparently.

We only found a few acorns (I suspect the squirrels beat us to the majority) but we collected some colourful leaves and have yet to find any Horse Chestnut trees for conkers.  We thought we'd hit the jackpot but it turned out to be sweet chestnuts.

I had a close encounter with a cow, took a few fern photos and some autumnal scenes though and the kids cheered up once we reached the church again and there was no more hill to climb!

It was a lovely afternoon, despite the whinging coming back up the hill!

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