Thursday 30 October 2014

Learning through Science - Slimy Factory

I did a review earlier on a water science set that Bob and I had fun with, you can find that review here Next we tried out Fifi's set, she had been sent the Slimy Factory - Slippery Slugs which is designed for age 8+. I felt an 8 year old would need quite a bit of help and supervision with this set, where as at Fifi's age (11) she managed well by herself.

The Slimy Factory science kit aims to teach children what atoms and molecules are, which polymers are used in everyday life and creating slippery monsters and bouncing balls.
 Again the website tells you more about what skills are taught/required.

The kit contains all the scientific bits and pieces you need from measuring cups to pipettes to moulds and chemicals that you need.

This set is quote good, the first experiments get you making solutions that you need to use in later experiments. Fifi was happy to wear the gloves and goggles as they have to wear goggles in class at school. Not sure if I felt they were necessary but they were provided so we used them.

Fifi's thoughts

Exp 1 - Sodium Alginate Solution - it was interesting to watch the crystal dissolve over time, though it was a bit boring waiting for them all to dissolve, it did recommend leaving overnight,so we did. This is used in foods. 

Exp 2 - Calcium Chloride Solution - I liked this experiment as it only took a little while for it all to dissolve. The little bits inside looked a bit like teeth. 

So we made up the solutions but they take a while to be use able, so we looked at other experiments we could do.  So Fifi liked the idea of making the ball. She managed to clip the ball together and we took it in turns to pour in the two different colours.She could have managed this by herself but this was to save her putting one down and picking the other up numerous times. We then submerged it in water, left it for the designated time and then took the mould off. After a few minutes to dry off the ball was ready for use. It bounces well.

making the ball

Exp 13 - bouncy ball - this was the best experiment ever. It did take a little while to make the ball, and it was a bit sticky until it dried - it bounces higher than me when complete.

Next off she made the play dough in a red colour. This took a bit longer to mix, and you do need the gloves for this one as the colour would colour your hands.

making the play dough
Exp 11 - crazy play dough - I loved this experiment watching the gooey mess thickens into a sticky red lump. It died my gloves red. Now it is sealed in a bag all squashed out to look like a packet of blood. 

Fifi then decided to turn the gloves inside out and fill them with water to help clean them, She reckoned it looked like a cows udders.

washing the gloves clean. 

We liked this set as it is introducing themes that Fifi is just learning at school. The sets are fun and easy to use. The booklet is laid out to make the information fun and appealing, there is a lot of background information as well as the actual experiments. I would recommend this set to add to your Santa list.

More experiments will be done next time Fifi is here as he solutions will be ready by then.

I received this set in return for a review but all the fun is not influenced by this.

We went hunting conkers

A few weeks back we decided to go on a hunt for conkers, one of the last light night I knew we would have and so I decided to make the most of it. So we set off along the river as I knew there were a lot of Horse chestnut trees along there. 

So we set off down the steps amongst the autumn leaves. 

Further along the track Fifi spotted a fallen tree leaning against a rock. The tree is covered in ivy and so Fifi decided to climb the beanstalk as she called it. 

When Fifi came down Bob  decided he would have a go, he did not get as high as his sister, he decided ( thankfully) that it was too scary.

We hunted the ground under the trees but despite the amount of them there were very few conkers to be had. Not sure whether the trees did not grow many or whether somebody else had been collecting them before us.

We may not have found many but enough for the two of them to start clobbering each other with the few they had in their bags, him moaning cos she hit him and her moaning he hit her first, I just love bickering children!!

By now it is beginning to get a bit dull under the trees and so we headed back.

Now for some reason when we had cached along this side of the river we had managed to miss out one of them. So we decided to pick it up on the way past.

The cache was hidden inside a hole in a fence post that somebody had drilled out and popped a cover over the hole. We could not get a grip of the cache from the obvious side so we pushed the cover....and the cache went flying across the field into a patch of nettles. We all laughed at this, then had to work out how we were going to retrieve it.   I helped Fifi climb over the fence to pick it up, we signed it and put it back.

with the cache

Here is Fifi climbing up the beanstalk.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday 25 October 2014

Project 365 week 43 19th - 25th October


Spotted this in the canteen at work and as I like popcorn, love coconut and have quite a passion for vanilla I just had to try it. Have to say it is really really pleasant, not to sweet or sickly, and very moreish so bought another packet this week. They make other flavours as well that I may try at some point.


Saw this is a shop and it made me laugh. Just had to share it. Nice to know there is a reason.


Have to say the day was not as wild and windy as the weather forecast had predicted. Windy enough to make some nice white horses down the beach.


Daughter came round with the twins tonight. DH was not feeling to well and was not up to interacting with them. They have both learnt to clap their hands, so here they both are going clap clap. Lighting not briliant as light was hurting DH's eyes so video was not possible.



Last week I had made pumpkin cake and soup and Bob wanted me to make some for him to eat, so tonight we made soup and cake for him. So I set him about grating the pumpkin.

By the time tea was finished DH was feeling decidedly worse and so I got daughter to take the children back home while I phoned NHS24 to see what they advised. They listened to what was wrong with him and decided to send out an ambulance. The ambulance driver listened to his symptoms and decided to put him in the ambulance and run an ecg - this was normal. But due to the rest of his symptoms they decided to take him in any way.


We have been in this small cubicle for over five hours now. Blood tests show an infection, x-rays showed an issue with his bowel, and his temperature is still up though some of the chest pain has subsided. Three different antibiotics pumped in over thirty minutes each. I was nestled into a corner by this time sat on a plastic chair with my feet on the bottom of the commode trying not to fall asleep. The outcome is gall stones and a bowel issue. He is to get a colonoscopy and then go back to see the consultant in six weeks.

Brought him home just after tea time, still uncomfortable but nothing more could be done at the time.

antibiotics dripping through


Bob had an eye test last week when at the hospital that showed he needed glasses. So yesterday he went to pick them up. Mummy wears glasses and so Bob is not to upset by getting a pair and he loved this design..

We knew this was going to happen, he has been struggling to read and see things lately as well as the light bothering his eyes. So he now has super cool tinted glasses to wear all day every day. Means he wont be able to wear his goggles out so come next summer he may have further allergy issues due to pollen etc but we will worry about that next year.

 I think he looks good in them

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Learning about Science through water play

When I was at school science was fairly boring, apart from a magnesium strip which burnt brightly there was not a lot to hold our interest in class. Having said that I loved chemistry, more I think for the maths and formulas in it, and biology, I was more into science because I did not enjoy history and was hopeless at art and music.

Nowadays children are much more interested in what goes on around them, they are encouraged to be inquisitive and ask questions, much more than my generation ever was. Education these days does not have to be educational in the way it was in my day. Education is fun, learning is done through fun, and children will retain that information better because of the fun aspect. Education does not even have to take place in the classroom. There are so many educational toys that can be used in the home environment. This is great when you have children like Bob who are home educated, but even Fifi enjoys the aspect of learning.

Science is a great medium for learning, be that learning the science behind using baking powder to make gluten free cakes rise and taste yummy, or learning about blowing air into a balloon to inflate it, right to the basic level of seeds growing into plants and producing more seeds as well as food you can eat. Children learn just by their environment and the opportunities that presents to them on a day to day basis.

So when I was asked to have some fun with the grandchildren and let them try out a couple of sets from Science4you I jumped at the chance.

We were sent a water science set, designed for age 6+

and the website gives us more information at a glance, letting us know which areas the set you have chosen will help to boost. ours amongst others will help with creativity, concentration and manual skills. 

So Bob and I had a read through the book, there is a lot of background information in the book before you get to the experiments. Bob chose a few different experiments to start us off. Bob has been fascinated with bubbles ever since we saw " the Bubble Man"  three years ago training locally and he allowed us to bring the children along and spent over an hour with them making amazing bubbles.

So first for Bob was bubble blowing. We started with the experiment of blowing up a balloon and allowing the air to escape from the balloon through a straw to blow the bubbles for you.  From here we went to him blowing multiple bubbles, learning about blowing softly, hard and harder to achieve different results. Learning that blowing too hard is not always a good thing.

Here he has to work out how to get the elastic band to hold the balloon onto the straw, fine motor skills as well as thinking.

We discussed breathing, in and out, and how when you breathe out there is still something there even though you cannot see it. We could relate this to his peak flow meter and how when he is wheezy less comes out. We learnt that the air that comes out blows up the balloon.  Learning that the air that comes out of the balloon causes the bubbles, the bubbles become bigger as they expand, thereby overflowing onto the tray.

Practise blowing gently to create bubbles within bubbles

 Lots of straws equals lots of small bubbles rather than one big one.

We talked about water and how it can exist as water, steam, or ice if we heat it or cool it. We also talked about water appearing to "disappear". We did the snow experiment but with blue slow to make it easier to see. Here again Bob had to use the syringe correctly to measure a set amount of water, work out where the water had gone and why the contents of the tub were swelling and getting bigger. We related this to Minky and Dinkys nappies, and how they start off small but absorb their pee and grow larger and heavier until they leak.

Fifi received a Slimy Factory set and you can read whet we thought of it here.

Theses sets are great and show that learning can be fun.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

A pumpkin - from craft to table

We don't do much crafting in this house but I had seen some crafting kits to make Halloween themed bits and pieces in Wilko and had picked them up for them to use. So the other night after our unsuccessful conker hunt I set them the task of decorating a pumpkin each. The pack had various sticky on eyes, noses, stitches, mouths and hair. 

Bobs pumpkin

making us laugh

Fifi's finished pumpkin

So on Friday I was needing to use a pumpkin to make soup and cakes with. So I asked which one I could chop up and they both looked at me as if I had asked them which of the babies I could chop up!! So at the point I decided to leave it until they had gone home.

Later on that day I chopped the pumpkin in four, scooped out the seeds - which we fed to the chickens and sprinkled some oil on the pieces and roasted them off along with some peppers.

 I used a quarter of the pumpkin flesh and mixed it into a basic cake recipe made with oil rather than margarine and added some sultanas, These two did not even last for twenty four hours!!

The rest of the flesh I made some soup with. Added two ham stock cubes to roughly a pint and a half of water, threw in some lentils ( yes it was as exact as that)  and added the pumpkin flesh and the roasted peppers. Cooked it for forty five minutes and then pureed it with a stick blender. 

So there we have it, used to amuse the children and then feed the family.
Daughter No2 and her OH were coming down on Friday evening for the night as she was taking Fifi bridesmaid dress shopping on Saturday. Fifi had come down to pick up her hama beads as she had made one for one of the other bridesmaids and wanted it to take with her. So Fifi stopped for soup and cake. Later on I got a phone call from Bob who wanted to know if the cake or soup was safe for him to eat as he would like some. Sadly it wasn't. I could "see" his little face drop over the phone. So to save any tears I have promised him that I will leave his one and when he is here this week we will make cake and soup that he can eat.

Monday 20 October 2014

Bobs first trifle

When you are dairy free it is nice to find alternatives. There are quite a few out there I can have but very few Bob can have, He has been soya free for a while now, and the main brand of oat milk has taken to making nut milks in the same factory so that rules that one out as well. So it leaves us pretty much with coconut milk, which both him and I love. 

We had a discussion last week about trifle, Fifi was going on about loving them, she had made one at school in her cooking class, and mum had bough her a few of the packet mix ones to make up at home, so Bob has decided he wants to try trifle, and wanted  me to make him one. If he wants something new its always grandma that gets the fun of experimenting. He is also more likely to try it if I make it than if mummy does as he can be funny with new food, even of he did ask for it. He has had jelly in the past, and he has had hot custard with cake and things but that does not mean he will try it cold. 

So I had some Rhythm coconut milk in the fridge waiting for just such an occasion, and so Bobs first trifle came about. 

Rhythm 100% Virgin Coconut Milk

Naturally delicious coconut creations with no added sugar – 100% coconut, nothing else
Our Virgin Coconut Milks are made with fully mature coconuts (usually ripened to around 9 months) and are bursting with the incredible, naturally sweet coconuty taste of first-pressed virgin coconut milk.
As we  cold –press the  fresh coconut meat to create the virgin coconut milks  they are  abundant with virgin coconut oil , in fact 26g as  per 100g of  the milk .Made  without the need  to dehydrate the coconut to capture the oil ..This means you get the benefit of the whole plants phytonutrients  that are present just as nature intended
Sourced from the beautiful, bountiful Philippines – home to many different kinds of coconut – we’ve carefully selected the best types (including an amazing naturally-reduced fat variety) to create two delicious delicacies…

So I opened the packet, the milk is fairly thick, is beautifully meaty, with a definite texture both to feel and taste. To allow me to make custard and a milk shake I diluted it to make a pint, and it still had more than enough "milkiness" to it.

Firstly I had some ripe bananas sitting so I made some into a banana milk shake, a great healthy and tasty drink and as Bob and I can only eat bananas either puréed or cooked its an easy way of consuming them.

a banana milkshake

Next off was the trifle. I phoned Bob and asked him what flavour of jelly he wanted, he picked lemonade - well he actually picked blackcurrant but I didn't have any. So I made the jelly and added some tinned mandarins and popped it in the fridge to set.

Next off I made the custard as you would normally with custard powder but using the rest of the coconut milk. Left the custard to cool and then spooned it on top of the jelly and again put it back in the fridge to set.

Decorated the top with some reserved mandarins and sprinkled on a few hundreds and thousands. Bob was delighted with it, he loved it, and ate nearly half in one sitting, and I am sure would have ate more had I let him.
Guess this is going to become a regular in the house.

Disclaimer - I received one pack of Rhythm 100% Virgin Coconut Milk but the recipe idea is my own.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Project 365 week 42 12th - 18th October


This was a brilliant day, I got the chance to go to a blogger meeting in Glasgow. We do not get many options like this that come to Glasgow so how could I not accept the invitation?   It was a blogger bake off and I wrote a post about it here.

Lis with her cakes ready for the oven


We all got a goody bag to bring home with us from the baking day, here is mine. We all came away with a Kenwood kMix mixer, and I am well impressed with it.  We got to keep the aprons we were provided with, we also had a couple of nice heavy duty canvas bags, a Kenwood truck, keyring and dish towel and a Curry's usb memory stick.

the goody bag 


One of the recipes I had picked up from Sunday was for ganache, and so I decided to try it dairy free. So here is the result of that experimentation very nice it was too. If you are interested there is a  recipe post here.

was difficult to photograph the brown on brown


We were back visiting in the Stirling area and did some geocaching afterwards, last chance we will get as it will be dark from next month afterwards. I had planned on doing a new trail of them in Alloa, but they were not loaded onto my GPS, so decided to get some more of the ones at Gartmorn Dam. I liked the autumnal colours in this.

nice autumnal colours


I had the children over tonight. We went out conker hunting before it got dark, but have to say we were disappointed did not find many at all. We did manage to find a cache that we had missed previously.  Upon our return we made a start on our Halloween decorations. They had a laugh making these, and Fifi decided this was the best way to get her photograph taken, the pumpkin was not finished at this stage.

can you see me


Our schools have had their October holiday this week, There was no hurry to send them home, and so they stayed and played.  One toy that comes out regularly is the Hama beads, these were today's creations. Her butterfly is for a friend and his heart has his initial and his girlfriends.



Daughter No2 and SIL were down last night, along with the dog. This is his new bed that he would not lie on, so OH made me laugh. I found the dogs stuffed toy sitting on the cushion reading a copy of the Historic Scotland magazine.
Daughter was taking Fifi and the other bridesmaids dress shopping today. I was informed it was very successful and despite being hyper the three of them were well behaved, would not have expected much else to be honest with you.

well somebody may as well use it

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday 18 October 2014

Dairy free ganache with my new kMix

Last week when we were at the Glasgow bake off we all, yes all, got to bring home a Kenwood KMik so I had to try mine out.  

This hand mixer belongs to the Kenwood kMix range. Compact, clean and designed for everyday use, the Hand Mixer can be relied upon to help with a variety of food preparation tasks.
The Hand Mixer has a powerful 350W motor, and five speeds plus pulse and high quality stainless steel beaters and kneaders for effortless mixing.
The die cast aluminium, ergonomic body has a soft grip handle. The tactile design of this hand mixer makes it both comfortable to use and beautiful to look at. 

One of the other things that we had made at the afternoon we were there was a ganache. This had been made with full fat cream, which I just cannot get away with eating at all, but I liked the idea of something other than "butter" icing to put on a cake, so I looked up a recipe on line and found a dairy free version and had to try it out. 

I made a basic Victoria sponge and added some drinking chocolate to flavour it, dairy free of course, 

200g sugar
200g margarine 
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon drinking choc. 

beat all ingredients together, split between two greased sandwich tins and bake at 170 oC for approx 20 mins.

So I set about making the ganache and hoped for the best. First off all I put a packet of uht coconut cream into a pan to warm up. Once the cream had warmed it became liquid.

add the uht coconut cream to a pan and heat gently

While the cream was warming, I weighed out the same weight in dairy free chocolate, I had some "chocolate" drops in the cupboard, not the cheapest but a very good quality. If you are on a budget some of the supermarkets do an own make basic plain chocolate that would work nearly as well.  

weigh out the same weight in chocolate

and melt together gently.

This made a smooth runny mixture that once it was cool can be used as it is to pour over a cake or a pudding. It can if you prefer be whisked to thicken it up to use for a filling or a topping on a cake. It can be whisked to different thickness's depending on how long you whisk it for. 

slightly too thick, a few seconds less would have been better

Have to say I thickened mine slightly too much and so had to microwave it for ten seconds to warm it up slightly to make it more manageable and spreadable.

in, on and decorated

I also made some small cakes with the same mixture  and decorated these with an icing bag. The finished ganache was amazing, very pleasant to eat and even OH has gone back for more, and you would not know it was dairy free. I will make this again. Chocolate fudge cake may well be on the cards next. 

So what did I think of my kmix? 

The mixer is well made and a good weight. It stands well on its base and can be placed on the work top between stages. I like the pulse switch on the mixer that allows for short bursts if needed. The switch is well placed and easy to switch up and down  with a thumb during use. It runs smoothly and quietly.  The handle is easy grip and very comfortable to hold. 


I like the simple stand that comes with the product, it holds the beaters as well as dough hooks. The cord wraps round the bottom of the mixer to keep it neat and tidy.

on its stand

Curry's are asking us to share a baking tip in a blog post, my tip would be to use the best quality of ingredients that you can afford.