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We are pretty lucky to live within a half an hour drive from Chessington World of Adventures, and it’s always been high on the list of favourite treat places for our boys to visit during the summer months. My Mother has fond memories of the Zoo from her own childhood, so it’s always been somewhere we have visited as a family.

KidsChaos-ChessingtonThis year has been no exception, and was TOP of 8yo’s birthday list for his ninth birthday recently, so as we were lucky enough to receive some tickets as a gift, we took a party of children aged 6-9yrs as a joint birthday treat.

We arrived at 10am, and there was very little queuing to get through the gates, so we headed straight to Hocus Pocus Hall – a big favourite, which set us up nicely with giggles, and ghoules, and cries of *Let’s go round again!*.

KidsChaosZufariGiraffeThe sensible Dad of the party had visited the Chessington website to plan the day, as there are height restrictions on some of the rides. So I took my slightly taller 10yo boy onto Rattlesnake (my ride of the day – we laughed so much on this one!) whilst the slightly shorter kids enjoyed Bubbleworks.

KidsChaosZufarijeepThe park is divided into areas, Wild Asia being popular with our party, Kobra and Monkey Swinger received MASSIVE votes, and were visited several times during the day.

Scary ride for me is the Dragon’s Fury (which everybody but me LOVED) and a new area for 2013 we’d not been on previously was the amazing Zufari which took our breath away, really quite a big queue, but completely worth it for the gasps of ‘REAL RHINOS!’ from all of the kids (and me too!)

So a good day was had by all, my one recommendation would be to visit the Monkey Swinger and the Dragon Falls to the end of the day, as we got a bit wet on those!

Disclaimer, we were kindly given four of our tickets for Chessington, however the balance of our tickets were purchased here with a great group discount.

Read about our trip to Thorpe Park Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

cooking with kids, kids

benihana-kidschaos

In the name of research (coughs), for good places to take the family for supper, I had a grown-up night out, hosted by the lovely Laura @LondonBabyMum founder of London-Baby.com who invited myself and several London blogger types, for a night out at #BenihanaChelsea on the Kings Road (easy to find, we jumped on a tube to Sloane Square, and walked up).

benihana instagramNow, I’ve know of this restaurant for years, the founder Rocky “Hiroaki” Aoki opened the first Benihana restaurant in 1964 in New York City. They are pioneers of “Teppan-yaki” dining, chefs combining dazzling performance and cooking freshest ingredients in front of diners.

We sat at a table for eight, and watched with delight as our chef Luke performed fantastic tricks with onion rings (volcanos and steam trains no less) – and cooked up some AMAZING food on the 300degree hot plate right in front of our eyes… bonkers! (There were a few comedy moments when Luke ‘accidentally’ threw an egg at me, and ‘squirted’ some fake soya sauce at Maggy)

benihana kidschaos bloggers eventSeriously – I’ve found another new place to take the kids for a special treat, I know they will LOVE the spectacle of it – they will love the vegetables (well, I’ve never had tastier courgette) and the freshest, melt-in-the-mouth fish… oh, and the (grown up) blackberry cocktails were divine.

Benihana UK have a new facebook page (with more photos of us!) and can be found in Chelsea and Piccadilly. A big thank you to Laura for inviting me, it was great to catch up with so many friends, and thank you too, to the attentive staff at Benihana, and in particular Dieter Kemp, Marketing Director for Benihana UK (who was full of stories about Rocky, and the history of Benihana, and kindly helped me with my chopstick technique!).

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos,  Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x

Disclaimer: we were invited to the evening out by the BENIHANA management team.

read other views here:

http://missielizzie-meandmyshadow.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/big-night-out-at-benihana-chelsea.html
http://domesticgoddesque.com/2013/09/benihana-chelsea-fun-family/
http://babesabouttown.com/2013/09/eat-london-with-kids-benihana-chelsea/
http://lifeatthezoo.com/2013/09/nights-benihana-chelsea/

http://www.reallykidfriendly.com/exciting-family-meal-and-egg-juggling-at-benihana

crafts, create

So Autumn is upon us, and the garden is full of colour – gorgeous burgundy reds, and green and white variegated leaves.

Leaf Printing

The boys love making cards for Grandma, and Granny, so we got picking – we had a cunning plan! 10yo enjoyed the leaf-collecting, particularly as I LET him climb on to the shed roof to reach the red leaves hanging over into the garden from our neighbour’s tree!

Hammered Leaf flower printHammered Leaf Printing – you will need:

  • A selection of leaves
  • Kitchen paper
  • Water colour paper
  • A hammer
  • Chopping board

Working on your chopping board, position your leaf on the water colour paper, covering with two sheets of kitchen paper towels. Start hammering! (oh yes, the small blonde boys liked this bit, but MIND your fingers!). You’ll know when it’s working as the natural pigment from the leaves will start to show through on the kitchen paper… Gently remove the kitchen roll, and peel back the leaf – it should leave a beautiful print on the water colour paper – some leaves work better than others, experiment, it’s fun!

Red Ted Art and Kids Chaos you tube

Want to see me talking about this project? Click the link and photo left, to watch via youtube…. Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art hosted a fabulous “Nature Crafts for Autumn’ on Google+, (and in fact was the inspiration for the tie-dye experiment!).

Maggy talked us through some lovely nature crafts for Fall (love the acorn bracelet and pinecone fairies) more links to follow from Anthea at zingzingtree,  Kelly at domesticgoddesque, and Liz from missielizzie-meandmyshadow.blogspot.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x LIKE IT? Pin it!

book reviews, education

Dinosaur Book

You’d think that once the boys get to 9 and 10 they’d be so ‘OVER’ Dinosaurs right? Well, wrong, I was massively surprised at the love this new book has received from them, they’ve literally been PORING over this fabulous encyclopedia, and really – I can see why.

Uncover the prehistoric world – even I’ve read it! I’ve just been to look for it to take a photo for you of the spreads, and found it under 10yo’s pillow – much coveted and hidden from his little brother.

Chapters include: Attack and Defence, Armour and Crests and The Mystery of Extinction – and although suggested suitable for children over 8, our young neighbours next door, age 3 and 6, loved looking at the pictures too (I’m sure this one will take longer to be handed down to them…)

If you’d like to know more about Parragon’s books (including the Beano Annual!) they too are on the old social media, @parragonbooks on twitter and pinterest and of course, on facebook too 🙂

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x 

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

cooking with kids, crafts, gardening with kids

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaos

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaosTray

We love this time of year. Sad that the arrival of the brambles is a sure sign that Summer is on its way out, and Autumn is just around the corner….

If you are like us, and have picked a LOAD of blackberries already this year, we have a non-edible way of using them this Fall!

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaosElasticBands

We picked a bucket-load before a weekend away, which meant we didn’t have time to eat them…so we froze them on a tray – using half for a smoothie, and the other half went into a pot of boiling water this week, deep enough for the old hemp carrier bag we had decided to tie-dye as a pressie for Granny’s birthday later in the year.

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaosPopinthe-dye

Whilst the pan of blackberry-dye was simmering away on the stove, we got busy with elastic bands, pulling up sections of the hemp bag, (this works really well on old T-shirts or pillow cases) securing them tightly to create two ‘horns’ (as my son called them)….

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaosRinse

We let the dye cool a little before adding the organic hemp bag, and rubber bands, which went into the pot with some chopped up rhubarb leaves – I read somewhere that this works as a fixative, helping to make the colour more ‘fast’…this bubbled away on the stove for about 45 minutes.

We then let this stand cooling for about an hour.

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaostakingoffelasticbands

We then rinsed the bag and the boys were SO excited to pull the rubber bands away to reveal our spider cobwebs – we hung it up on the line to dry!

Much excitement that natural blackberries can make such a pretty colour – we plan to try some more natural dyes soon, our youngest loves brewing up nettle tea – and it also creates a lovely khaki green dye –

BlackberryTieDyeKidsChaosyoutube

something to try next!

Want to see me talking about this project? Click the link and photo left, to watch now…. Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art hosted a fabulous “Fall Craft Ideas” hangout on Google+, (and in fact was the inspiration for the tie-dye experiment!).

Maggy talked us through some lovely owl crafts (how simple was the loo-roll owl?! and loved the walnut shell owls twittwoo) more links to follow from – Adele from playfullearners, and Anthea from bluebearwood. Also our anonymous blogger thefairyandthefrog and Rebecca from herecomethegirlsblog.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x LIKE IT? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com. This is a commissioned story.

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How many times have you (or a certain someone in your family) left your phone charger on overnight, buzzing away?
The telly on standby; accidentally leaving the microwave door ajar?

But did you know that you’re losing money (and clearly wasting energy) whilst you sleep?

Leaving your household appliances on standby whilst you’re curled up in bed is burning a hole in your pocket and taking the time to turn off could save you up to a fantabulous £86 per year. So, what are you waiting for? Switch OFF at bed time!

 Energy Saving Infographic
Commissioned by Ovo Energy – the cheaper, greener and simpler energy supplier – lovely bunch, follow them on facebook here.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

key stage 2

What an amazing day at the Museum!

The summer holidays are LONG, unless you are REALLY organised, it's sometimes hard to think of what to do with the kids… lucky for us, we live in the 'burbs of London, so the best Museums in the world are on our doorstep… One of our favourites is the Science Museum, so when we had a look at what is on their this summer, we decided to spend a day there this week.

Energy Show

There is SO much to see, you really could spend all day there – There is an IMax Cinema too, with loads going on – and we 'took in a show' – the amazing Energy Show.

A brilliant cast, this production was funny, entertaining, NOISY (lots of big bangs) AND educational.
Methane bubbles are set alight to make massive fireballs, liquid nitrogen freezes flowers (the boys thought this was hilarious) and hydrogen rockets are fired into the audience.

The boys LOVED it, turning to beam at me, and shouting and clapping loudly to join in – I would highly recommend this to boys and girls from about 7+ – mine are 8 and 10, we took a little friend too, and had the most animated lunch conversation at the Deep Blue cafe!

(Oh and incidentally, the costume design is amazing – I'd so wear Phil and Annabella's outfits when they finish the run please!)

There's so much to see at this amazing museum – we'll definitely be returning before the end of the summer hols!

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
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For more Cooking with Kids recipes, join my community over on Google+ here.

987zzz321
987zzz321
baking, cooking with kids

A great way of diverting your old jam jars or mason jars from the recycling, is to re-use them at least once… we use ours as drinking glasses, which the kids LOVE… encouraging them to make smoothies to share with the family – a great way of using up excess fruit and sneaking in your five a day!

A not-so-healthy option are cookies…Cookies you say? in a jam jar? uh? Well yes!
KidsChaosCookiesInAJar

These make excellent gifts, and are great for keeping in the cupboard, for when the baking urge takes you, and you’re short of time…

You will need (for four jam jars):

265g self raising flour
115g porridge oats
175g granulated sugar
1 and a half teaspoon baking powder
85g organic Fairtrade chocolate
(optional, I just think it makes a nice looking layer in the jar!)
150g chopped nuts (we used almonds – again for another layer, visually)
80g demerera sugar
and a handful of raisins, if your child can bear them!
(ours got taken out by 8yo…)

So, dividing each ingredient carefully across each jar, layer them up one at a time, so it creates a layered effect (like the coloured sands we used to have as kids!) make sure the jars are packed tight with ingredients.

THEN – when you’re ready to bake, today, or some time in the future, pour the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, and simply mix in melted 265g butter (that’s 66g if you are just making up one jar of cookies!) and three heaped tablespoons of golden syrup (and that’s a flat tablespoon for just one jar) together, to a consistency which you can spoon in balls onto a greased baking tray…(I have to admit, you may have to add a bit of flour if the mixture looks a bit to sloppy to ‘spoon’).

Give the ‘balls’ space on the baking tray(s) otherwise they all melt into each other in the oven… bake at 180 degrees, for 10 minutes…they should look something like this, enjoy! >>KidsChaosCookiesInAJaronaplate

So, as you know, I’m on a weekly panel of crafty So-and-So-s invited to ‘hang-out’ on Google+ by the every lovely Maggy Woodley at Red Ted Art. This week this was hosted by Maggy AND Netmums.

KidsChaosCookiesInAJarNetMumshung out on Google+ for a bit of a vlog…(click the screengrab to watch!) with some craft buddies to share these holiday fun ideas, hosted by the aforementioned ever lovely Maggy from Red Ted Art who has pulled all of these together in a *Mason Jar* post. Also present were Kath from KnittyMummyAnthea with her Kids’ art keepsakes and butterflies, Liz and her fab matches in a jar for camping! Pop back later for more links soon.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
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For more Cooking with Kids recipes, join my community over on Google+ here.

cooking with kids

salmon with ginger and soya sauce recipe

Salmon with ginger and soya sauce recipe – a quick one, once you’ve marinated the salmon, (I did this for about half an hour, whilst washing up, and allowing the oven is heating up to 180 degrees). The kids love the simplicity of this, plus click here for a delicious squid taglietelle our kids love making and eating…

You will need (for four people):

Four salmon fillets
Half a red onion finely chopped
Quarter red pepper finely diced
Two garlic cloves finely chopped
4cm root ginger grated
large tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
80ml soya sauce
Two tablespoons of honey

Mix EVERYTHING together, (except the salmon) – and THEN add the salmon, spooning over the mixture, so all of the salmon steaks are all covered. Once the oven is hot enough, place the salmon fillets onto a baking tray, spoon over the mixture, make sure that each salmon fillet has space around it for even cooking… and cover the tray in a little tin foil tent, sealing in, trying not to actually touch the salmon. Pop in the over for about twelve mins, whilst you are cooking your accompanying new potatoes – and serve!

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
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For more Cooking with Kids recipes, join my community over on Google+ here.

baking, cooking with kids, gardening with kids

Lavender-Scones-KidsChaos
Lavender-Scones-Jam-KidsChaosSo much lovely lavender about, everyone seems to have some in their front garden around here… and it smells so lovely – I ‘pinched’ some from my neighbour’s garden last week (I blame CountryWives and their lavender biscuit recipe – according to them apparently Kate Middleton has been craving lavender biscuits during her pregnancy!)

So, the neighbour returned from her annual hols, to find a few sprigs missing from her lavender bush… guilt took over, and I popped over there, with a bag of flower and a baking tray and we made THESE lavender scones – so easy, and it’s all I could do to stop the kids from scoffing the lot after school… here’s the recipe >>

100g caster sugar (we used some lavender sugar Maggy made last month)
300g plain flour
25g baking powder
100g cold, diced butter
200ml soured milk (yep, we had that too, her milk had gone off in the fridge)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) mark 6.
Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture looks and feels like breadcrumbs.

Pour the soured milk into a small saucepan and warm it gently. Whisk in the egg and sugar and pour the milk into the flour, mixing it all together. Leave this dough to rest for five minutes, then pop it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it together to form a ball.
Roll out this dough into a rectangle with a thickness of about 1.5cm. Cut out roughly 12 scones and place them onto a baking sheet. Lightly dust the scones with some more flour, and then leave them to stand for 10 minutes before baking. During this time the baking powder will get the little scones rising.
Cook the scones in the preheated oven until golden brown; they will take about 11 minutes.

Another neighbour had kindly donated a tub of Rodda’s Cream (the clotted cream to die for), so we had a delicious ‘lunch’!

I’m on a weekly panel of crafty So-and-So-s invited to ‘hang-out’ on Google+ by the every lovely Maggy from Red Ted Art who talked about lavender bags and how to make a-lavender wand, and lavender bath sachets and finally how to make no sew lavender bags pillows.. I do enjoy hanging out on Google+ for a bit of a vlog…(click the screengrab to watch) with some craft buddies to share these lavender thoughts,  Joined by Anthea talking lavender cookies and Kelly with some beautifully amazing lavender fans, and Lizzie was there in spirit homemade lavender lemonade….

Lavender-you-tube-ali-clifford

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough onGoogle+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
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