Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive At Lapland UK

Do you remember the wonder that each sparkling light on the christmas tree would behold, how the smell of the fresh pine needles used to fill the house and your heart with such excitement, how every sip of warm hot chocolate and each bite of your delicious mince pie would fill your tummy not only with good food but with butterflies from the anticipation of the arrival of Father Christmas each and every year.

As we get older sadly these feelings dwindle and our hopes and expectations of christmas change and the magic slowly fades away.

However once we are blessed with the gift of children this magic fills our hearts once more as we see the wonder through our children’s eyes.

I have soaked up every moment of my children’s twitchy fingers as they try to adoren the tree with the delicate decorations, looked on in wonder at each and every nativity play as the stand their fumbling through the words of those heart warming christmas carols and for me one of the most magical moments is clinging onto their wriggly bodies as they stand in line to see meet the big man himself…Father Christmas.

All these moments are precious yet sadly as fleeting as our own and each and every year I try my upmost to keep the magic alive for as long as possible.

Familiar traditions such as baking the Christmas cake and writing letters to Father Christmas all help with this but as with anything as children grow and their knowledge widens the belief in Father Christmas begins to be questioned and I can honestly say that the reality of having a non-believer has always been way harder on me than it has been for them.

If there was a place you could visit that was as magical and as mysterious as the thought of Father Christmas himself then surly this would help keep the magic alive for that little bit longer would it not?

This is what I has high hope of when we were asked along to Lapland UK last weekend. In its tenth year now I have never heard a negative comment about anyones trip and after meeting the charming husband and wife team Alison and Mike at an event last month I knew that the love and passion that came across as they spoke so fondly of their creation was going to shine trough on our trip.

I decided for my sanity to leave telling the children about our trip until the day before we left. I am completely at fault when it comes to making the children little balls of excitement as this time of year but even I couldn’t take how excited they were going to be on hearing they would be going on the trip.

The invitations get sent through the post in a beautiful presentation box with each child having a personal invitation, complete with a gorgeous wax seal.

The box itself can be placed in the freezer to make for a gust of cold air when they open it up which Frankie was absolute amazed with and went rushing over to the window to see if he could see the tail end of Father Christmas’s reindeers that must have just delivered them.

That night was like putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve, the excitment was immense and after reading The Untold Story Of Father Christmas which is written by the founders and is the perfect way to get them familiar with the lovable charters they would be meeting the next day, they finally settled.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke to snow the next morning and as we came off the motorway and drove a short way through snow covered woods it really couldn’t have been a more magical build up to or visit.

A short walk from the carpark we arrived at a beautiful snow covered building where we checked in with the friendly elf and enjoyed a quick snack before our tour started.

It wasn’t long before it was our turn to be guided through the huge bookcase into a magical enchanted forest where we were told the story of how each tiny pinecone turns into a elf that then helps out with making all the toys for Father Christmas to deliver.

This is also what our children had been enrolled to do and as we were about to set off to take up the challenge the huge set of doors was slowly opens to reveal a cascade of snow and a stunning snow covered walkway.

Once inside the workshop the children were all settled at work benches where they has the job of stuffing super cute polar bears ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. This could have lead to many tears and tantrums as the toys were not for them to keep, however the story had been told so well and their role for the day described perfectly so there was not one tear or moan from any of the children in the room.

After all their hard work we then made our way to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen; the kitchen was snug and cosy and the warmth from Mother Christmas was infectious. The children carefully decorated their gingerbread trees and packed them away to hang from their own trees once they got home and then settled down to a story read by Mother Christmas herself whist the parents got the chance to snack on a delicious biscuit themselves.

When all the work was over we had free reign of the village where you could grab something good to eat and drink or like us get tempted by a few to many sweets in the sweet shop. We picked up a small gift in the shop that really was a child’s dream with a huge selection of gifts and of course not to be missed a trip to the ice rink.

Skating is really not my forte and although I braved it I stayed pretty much in one spot while the children fearlessly skated off with their Dad. Oscar was over the moon as ice skating is normally of the agenda for him as he is only three, but with the help of some super cool strap on skates and the aid of a penguin he was well away.

It was now time for the most anticipated part of the day…our trip to Father Christmas. The walk to the grotto held yet more beautifully snow covered pathways, the cutest of little elf homes and of course a stop off to visit the reindeers where we also got the chance to help out with preparing their food.

We had a very short wait until the children names were called and we were lead to his Grotto, the doors opened and the beaming smile from the big, jolly man filled the beautifully decorated room.

The children sat next to him, hanging on his every word in complete awe. The heart melting moment for me though was the look on the children’s faces when he spoke bout each one individually, letting out little snippets of their lives that they never imagined he would ever know.

Mouths aghast at what they had just experienced and me with tears in my eyes I know that there is no way that this visit could ever be topped and will certainly never be forgotten.

The attention to detail at every point is unbelievable, there wasn’t a queue in sight and the whole day ran seamlessly. But I think what stood out most for me was I didn’t hear a moan, a cross word or a cry from any child all day which is certainly a first for us and just shows that the whole experience is put together with the childs enjoyment being the top priority.

I experienced this day with children aged from fifteen to three and each and everyone felt and shared the magic of this wonderful place. Archie integrated with his younger siblings and loved every minute of watching their delight as we did and although he is way past the age of believing it was still an amazing experience for him.

The one that I most wanted to see the reaction of was Izzy though as the start of High School has already had an effect on her and her belief has been waining since last year, yet the sparkle in her eye and the smile on the face after this trip has given me at least one more year of magic with her and for that I will be forever grateful.

*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Spiced Apple And Blackcurrant Cupcakes With Fruit Shoot

During the summer I was challenged by Fruit Shoot to get out and about andtake part in some foraging with the little ones.

It was a great way to get the kids active and let them see how readily available fresh food packed with goodness really is.

Fruit Shoot has really taken this on board when creating their juices which are packed with real fruit, no flavours, no colouring and plenty of added vitamins.

They are really passionate about getting kids to eat well and with this in mind they created a fantastic hamper full of goodies to grow, bake and create lots of tasty, fruity recipes at home which they kingly sent to me.

The recipe that really stood out for me was the spiced apple and blackcurrant cupcakes that was devised by recipe creator-Holly Bell.

The one minor problem that we had was that there was a distinct lack of blackcurrants here so we had a little change around and substituted them for blackberries instead which worked pretty well.

Oscar had a great time getting his hands dirty and cooking up a storm.

I love getting the little ones involved in the whole process of cooking and with the addition of the blackberries it was the perfect time to recall our foraging trip.

If you fancy having a go yourself then I have left the recipe for you below, I would love to see how you get on.

Spiced Apple And Berry Cupcakes

  • 175ml oil
  • 180g muscavado sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160g grated apple
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 150g of backcurrants or blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/has mark 4 and line a 12 hope cupcake tin with large cupcake or muffin cases.

Once the oven has preheated mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until there aren’t any lumps or traces of egg yolk visible. Pay particular attention to the sugar as it can sit in lumps.

Stir through the berries carefully, spoon into cases evenly and bake for 20-25 mins until well risen and a toothpick comes out of the middle of the cupcake clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Making Snack Time Healthy With Sweetpea Pantry

We are all back into the swing of things as far as the school run goes here and all the good intentions of wholesome packed lunches and after school snacks have been wavering a little.

The kids are coming home with untouched food in their pack lunches and with the stress of trying to juggle everything after school we have been reaching for the crisps and biscuits a little to often of late.

What I need is something that takes as little time to prepare as possible, is healthy and nutritious but appealing to the kids.

This is a big wish list but luckily enough our favourite baking mixes Sweetpea Pantry have come to our rescue with their scrumptious carrot cupcake mix and their super-duper brownie mix.

We are big fans of their ginger giggles biscuit mix and the playful pizza dough mix already and were eager to try out these new additions.

For me it’s really important to get the children involved in the whole process of preparing their food as I strongly believe this goes a long way to make them more inclined to try new things and gives them a real sense of achievement.

The preparation of both these mixes was so quick and easy – in fact the whole process is complete in less than 30 mins.

There was the addition of few simple store cupboard ingredients such as oil, honey and eggs all mixed together with the packet mix that is then transferred into cake cases or tins, baked for around 15 mins and is then ready to eat.

Each mix is packed full of nutritious ingredients and yummy whole grains whilst leaving all the nasty refined sugars and artificial colours and flavourings out.

The super chocolatey brownies where a great hit after school when the kids are crying out for something sweet really quickly.

The cupcakes were moist and fruity and the perfect size for packed lunch boxes.

These mixes are so easy to tuck away in the cupboard and just grab as and when you need them so what is not to love.

*collaborated post

Allergy Friendly Easter Cupcakes

Easter is always a tricky time for Frankie and his allergies but this year he is feeling it even more so.

For a few months he had been allowed dairy and it had opened up his eyes to the world of real chocolate.

We had all really hoped that this would be the first year he would be able to get a Easter egg the same as his siblings but sadly this isn’t the case.

Stomach problems, bad skin and mood swings had all come on in force again and the doctors decided it was probably down to the dairy so we had to say goodbye to it again.

It’s been a hugely tough couple of months as he was so enjoying everything that came will the inclusion of dairy so this Easter I’m going to have to go that extra mile to make it special for him.

These cupcakes that mimic a chick cracking from an egg have really put a smile on his face and could easily be converted to your usual ingredients.

Allergy Friendly Easter Cupcakes 

  • 100g gluten free self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g dairy free spread
  • Egg replacer for equivalent of 2 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder 
  • Pack ready roll fondant icing 
  • 12 decorative chicks
  • 12 cupcake cases 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/400F and lay out cases into cake tin.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix with electric whisk until combined.
  3. Place ingredients into cases as bake for 13/16 mins.
  4. Once cook allow to cool on rack.
  5. Whilst cooling roll out a small amount of icing to about a thickness of 2cm.
  6. Cut out a circle slightly larger than the cakes and create a cross in the middle.
  7. Lay on top of the cake and peel up edges of the cross to open a whole in the centre.
  8. In this gap place one of the chicks to create the look of a hatching chick.

Elevenses Recipe Book Launch

  

Stopping for tea and cake at eleven is a quintessentially English tradition that also stands firm in the work place with all of us nipping away from the desk to grab a quick snack.

Some of use like to opt for the healthy option of a smoothie or a piece of fruit whist others would rather indulge in a chocolaty treat or a nice sticky bun.

Whatever your preference there is a need for an energy boost at this time as our sugar levels dip and our next meal is not until lunchtime.  So something to tide us over and keep us going for those next few hours is much needed.

The people at Furniture At Work have compiled a great book with a selection of recipes from a group of Blogger’s, including myself which can offer something from a super healthy treat to something a little bit naughty!

If you fancy taking a look you can download the link here. There really is something to suit everyone and help you get though that workday.

Allergy Friendly Strawberry Cupcakes

Valentines Day is fastly become a big celebration in the UK with it being a day not just for couples but something that the children now join in with.

My older children all attend Valentines  discos at school and the younger ones have made some beautiful cards at school.

To be honest for me it should be something special left for couples to enjoy but im going with the flow and letting the kids join in with the celebrations too!

Number four wanted to do some baking this week so we went with a pink theme and made some strawberry flavoured cupcakes that were suitable for his allergies.


Strawberry Flavoured Cupcakes

Cake Mixture

  • 110g self raising wheat free flour
  • 110g dairy free margarine 
  • 110g caster sugar
  • Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp strawberry flavouring
  • 1tsp red colouring

Buttercream Frosting 

  • 140g dairy free margarine
  • 250c icing sugar
  • Few drops red colouring
  • Strawberry flavoured sparkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and lay out 12 cake cases ready for filling.
  2. Best the butter and sugar together, add the egg replacer, flavouring and food colouring.
  3. Fold in the flour until completely mixed.  Then transfer to cake cases.
  4. Cook for 10 mins then place in a wire rack to cool.
  5. Make up the buttercream by combining the margarine with the sugar and then mixing in the food colouring.
  6. Once the cakes are cooled place the butter cream on top and pull a fork over the top to create a rough surface and then sprinkle over the strawberry sparkles.

Mincemeat Pinwheels


A mince pie is a must at Christmas, especially washed own with a nice glass of mulled wine!Sometimes the traditional mince pie can get a little boring.  My Grandma always used to make her mince pies with puff pastry and I always liked the lightness of this so I have made something a little different by tuning them into pinwheels that are a little like a Chelsea bun minus the icing.

Mincemeat Pinwheels

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 large jar minced meat
  • I beaten egg
  • Sprinkling of granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or 180C fan oven whilst lining A large baking tray with greasproof paper.
  2. Lightly sprinkle the sugar over the worktop and roll out the pastry so increase they’re size by about another 6cm.
  3. Take the mincemeat and spread across the pastry leaving a border of around 2cm on each long edge.
  4. Once covered take one long edge and roll I into the mincemeat and keep rolling until you make a long sausage shape.
  5. Brush the beaten egg along the last free edge and stick together. Place this in the fridge and cool for around 20mins.  Once cooled remove from the fridge and cut into slices about 4cm wide.  Place into the baking sheet and press down with the ball of your hand to flatten slightly.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20mins or until they are golden brown.
  7. Once ready allow to cool for 5mins and the serve warm.  They would be yummy with a big dollop of double cream!