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Entertain The Kids Without Going Mad.....

31 July, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

by Helen Jenkins (in San Fransisco)
Helen is a wonderful friend of mine who moved to San Francisco a year ago and is guest posting about how life is over there.

The school summer holidays began for a few weeks ago in mid-June! and I now have both tykes, instead of just one, running circles
around me all week, every week, until the end of August. I'm trying to use this opportunity to simplify some things and do other things
a little better. For example, I have just deleted Facebook from my phone (for the second time) so there's one less reason to have my
head buried in my phone, as I do so much these days, given you can do so much on it. 
So. The challenge has been set. To try to entertain the kids without going totally mad. I do love a bit of Blue Peter and, since my own
makey-table and sewing machine has been left in the UK, I have to satisfy myself by immersing myself in kids' projects instead. Luckily,
my eldest, who is nearly 4, is also keen and has jumped on this word 'Project' so much that she is asking for them constantly from the
time she wakes up until the time she passes out at night. So here are a few of my favourite happy places I turn to when it comes to
entertaining kids. The trouble is, I spend far too much time getting lost in the world of looking for makey-things, and not enough time
actually preparing and buying the right crafts for said Project. So far we've painted a birdhouse, grown some cress and we're currently
waiting for 5 caterpillars to flutter out of their chrysalis, having invested in one of those Insect Lores (my husband instigated this one). 

For my inspiration, I always start with Pinterest, of course! I can lose hours and hours - and more hours - on here. Then there's my
new favourite Kiwi Crate, every month they send you a box filled with all the materials you need for two or three projects. Wondrous!
No need to scoot around several shops, only to get home and realise you've forgotten the key craft ingredient. I've also stumbled
across The Artful Parent  which is packed full of great projects. The American stalwart, Martha Stewart, also has some great things
for rustling up quick and easy things for kids. Finally, Teach Preschool is a blog written by a dedicated and energetic pre-school
teacher. I would LOVE to send my kids to her school, she does so many fun and interesting things and they're all posted here.
This particular post has loads of fun and easy activities to get your summer started with water, sand, sticks and stones. In fact,
all I need is this one page the whole summer long, let's keep things simple!

Right, off I go...

Thank you so much Helen! What great inspiration. We'll be getting an insect lore too!
Happy Summer projecting!

holibob blues!

17 July, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Our lovely little shop has been quiet for a while now, since having Lukas we haven't been concentrating on it so much as you'd expect and then, we went on holiday to Cornwall. Ahhhhhh the Cornish coasts are beautiful and we had a thoroughly fabulous week but it went by in the blink of an eye and before we knew it we were ensconced in 'everyday' life again, pushing the supermarket trolly and washing the clothes, sigh!

Whilst on holiday we resided in a place called Gwithian which is along the stretch of St Ives Bay and about a 20 minute car trip to St Ives itself. Gwithian is full of sand dunes, has Godrevy lighthouse just out to sea and 3 miles of beautiful beaches. The 1950's wooden chalet we stayed 
in actually lies at the foot of the sand dunes - a planning permission no no these days and would never be built now, which makes these cabins extra special. The accommodation is simple offering an open kitchen/diner/sitting room, 2 bedrooms and a shower room. There was no WiFi and 3G was so fleeting there wasn't any point in trying to use it so we literally had no digital distractions and it was glorious! We didn't even turn on the TV! Evie watched UP! and a few Powerpuff Girls episodes on the iPad but she hardly used it, the dunes and beaches were far more inviting along with the little bunnies hoping around on the lush green grass amongst the cabins. It's incredibly quiet and peaceful there 
(although this was before the school holidays started). The cabins are all painted in blues, greens, pinks or retain their natural woods which make them sympathetic to their surroundings and look very idyllic when the sun is setting and the lights start twinkling. 

Through the sand dunes and onto the beach you're welcomed to stretches of golden sand and turquoise sea. When the tide goes out there are some great rocks to go rock pooling in and discovering sea creatures. Head off to the right and there is the cracking Godrevy Cafe, where they serve amazing coffee, brunches, gluten free cakes and evening outdoor feasts. 

We also went to Porthcurno beach, Polgoon vineyard and sampled their rosé (it was so nice we bought a bottle, & their own honey and eggs!) Penzance and found a great place for lunch, The Front Room, which had a cluster of disco balls in the courtyard and rocking chairs under the veranda. Marazion to lounge on the beach which has views of the gorgeous St Michaels Mount and also discovered that the Godolphin Arms 
had been re-furbished to an amazing standard. Loved it! Chilled out in St Ives, bought Tarquins award winning Cornish Gin and Pastis and generally had a lovely time. Evie was in a complete state of joy, at every beach, dancing in and out of the water and making friends, it warmed my heart thoroughly. Can't wait to holiday there in the future when the kids are a bit older and we can have surf lessons!

If you fancy trying out one of the chalets then check out

A top holiday all round.
 Got to think of the next one now!!


06 June, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Like many kids across the land, our daughter Evie is mad for Disney’s Frozen at the moment,
so much so we’ve even brought her the soundtrack so she can learn the words and James is
seriously considering taking her along to one of Prince Charles Cinema’s ‘Sing-Along-A-Frozen’
showings. One of our favourite illustrators, Mr.Hipp posted this recently too, so, you wanna build
a snowman..?



Parenthood Round 2 - Ding Ding!

19 May, 2014 1 comments Leave a comment

Saturday 10th May finally saw the arrival of our son, Lukas Daniel, at 10.13am.
He was clearly waiting for my epic playlist to make his entrance to! ;D
Which he nearly did, but after the 6th hour I decided pain relief at the hospital
the best option! The midwife rang for an ambulance and whilst I was on all
having the mother of all contractions, sucking on the gas & air like life
depended upon it, 
completely starkas, I looked up to see 3 new faces peering
down at me. One of the 
ambulance men cheerily said ‘Hello!’ Hahaha. All dignity
goes out the window when 
giving birth! Ten minutes later I was rolling onto a hospital
bed and 13 minutes after 
that I delivered Lukas, drug free and without any intervention!
I felt pretty chuffed about that! And the fact that I got away without having a stitch.
So here is the little fella...

As per Hayden-Ellis tradition we also got Mysterio to predict Lukas’ future.
He doesn’t look very happy about his given destiny though and who can blame
when his sister will be a Criminal Mastermind!

So we find ourselves thrown back into the ring with broken nights sleep, 
projectile vomiting and nappies of all shades and varieties, but we wouldn’t
trade it for anything in the world! 
And if Lukas is anything like Evie (who is doing
a sterling job as big sister) then we 
will be more than happy.

playlist for labour!

09 May, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

I'm 10 days overdue now and still feel like this baby won't really pop
out anytime soon! Induction is booked in at the hospital for 9.30am
Sunday morning so by hook or by crook we will have a baby by Monday!
In the meantime we've created a playlist to help while away the time.

So if you're ever indeed of a playlist to make you labour ready......

apps we love

29 April, 2014 1 comments Leave a comment

Whilst waiting for this baby to arrive we have today baked
a gluten free lemon drizzle cake and downloaded a new app
for Evie to play 
with and it's awesome!

EyePaint Monsters by Curious Hat is a FREE app. Instead of the usual colouring 
in a picture you take photos of colours and textures and they get added into the 
backgrounds. The monsters are superbly drawn and it's all very simple and easy to use.
This is definitely 
a great app for 4+ year olds - the comments are pretty hilarious as
I suspect older kids have tried to use 
this and thought what's the point, but for young
children it's a brilliant free app. Evie seems to love it anyway.

Get it here

It's the final countdown....

22 April, 2014 2 comments Leave a comment

We hope you had a great Easter, ours was lovely! We kicked it off on Good Friday
with a trip to Surrey Wheels Day with wonderful friends, Easter Sunday we had
a family lunch with hilarious Easter egg hunt clues made by my Dad, and yesterday
comprised of a visit to the cinema and a cheeky Wagamama's. All of this interspersed
with lots of painting (as we've just had a walk in wardrobe fitted). Most of our social
media platforms have been very quiet as we've been busy getting some quality family
time in now that I'm in the final stretch of my pregnancy - yikes!!

With exactly 1 week to my due date I can safely say that I'm thoroughly excited and
that I've had enough too.
 I know my bump isn't massive (but neither am I at 5'), but
I think everything is in proportion and
 I've had more than enough now of the relentless
kicking and elbowing, hiccups, searing heartburn from fresh air and constant
I've got to say though that this pregnancy has been a breeze in comparison to my first.
Maybe it's because you don't concentrate on it as much as you've already got your
hands full
 with child number 1, plus a growing business and freelance work. Yep,
things have been busy!
 I should be putting up my feet this week but I'll most likely
be painting our new wardrobe and helping to put blinds and posters up :D
I definitely don't like to sit around on my bum for too long. 
Although I then get incredibly tired!!

So the impending birth became more of a reality when the midwife dropped around
with the gas and air....Uh huh, I'm going to go for a home birth. I'm not some crazy
woman who is determined to have one no matter what, but going on both of my
sisters' second birth's it might be a wise idea as they had their second babies
incredibly quickly! I'm hoping for the same and then I won't have the rigmarole in 
leaving the hospital and Evie can come back sooner to meet the new family member.
All sounds perfect - let's just see what happens, I might want drugs, and home births
obviously don't provide that, it's natural all the way, sheesh, I kinda like drugs ;D

James raised a good point yesterday, ready made meals!! When are we going to get
the time to cook in the first few weeks? Hmmm if only there was a service like
Meals On Wheels for new mum's and dad's... nutritious meals that provide all
the vitamins and minerals you'd need to help boost your energy and help with
breastfeeding.....Maybe this is my next venture!!

Popcorn-rockin’ cupcakes

17 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

by Helen Jenkins, currently living the high life in San Francisco :o)

Give me a dessert any day. Main meals? Yawn. Why stand in front of the cooker for
an hour making something that will be gobbled down in less than 10 minutes. It doesn’t come
naturally to me and I’m just not that good at it. Even my nearly-2 year old doesn’t think much
of mummy’s cooking. This evening, she un-plated her dinner on to the table. Charming.
Cakes on the other hand, I could happily take forever to bake something and it be gobbled down
within 10 seconds I don’t care. Not that I’m any better at it than main meals, mind. But the
difference in enjoyment is phenomenal. I‘ve been quietly excited in my house all week waiting
to get a moment to bake these insanely appealing Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes, which are all
the rage on Pinterest. 

I was slumped over my laptop for far too long looking for the simplest of the Popcorn Cupcake
recipes (I ended up combining two recipes) especially ignoring ones that didn’t call for making
your own caramel. I need to make these things FAST before the nearly-2 year old pulls down
the oven door trying to climb to see (stupid American design), or the 3 year old cries because
I’m not yet giving her the bowl to lick. This time round the 2 year old poured a pint of water all
over the worktop and I managed to create a layer of uncooked cupcake goo everywhere. 
They’re not going to do my husbands diet any good (He just got infatuated with his new
weighing scales gizmo from Withings which apparently lets him ‘quantify himself’ – what?
Anyway, it connects him digitally from the moment he stands on the scales, it reads his
weight & heart rate, counts his steps and tells him if he’s had a good night’s sleep.
The gizmo then publishes it all up to the digital cloud in the sky so he can see it on an app
on his mobile phone, so he can tell me that he’s lost weight. I could tell him that when
I stand next to him on the scales and see his weight, or sleep next to him in bed and hear
him snore. I digress… (I’m just jealous that I’ve not lost as much weight as him in his first week). 
So, back to these heavenly cupcakes. Just try them. They turned out really soft and springy.
The kids gobbled them up in no time. I think I’m going to serve them at my nearly-2 year old’s
second birthday, except I might just make really mini versions though - they’re rather sweet.  
No good for the husband’s obsession with his weighing scales. So tomorrow, I’ll be sending
the remaining cupcakes in to his office for them to get fat on instead. I might just have to keep
one though…. Or two… Aaagh, I can’t give them up!

Caramel Popcorn Cupcake Recipe
Ingredients for the Cupcakes (found these on Best Home Chef, by Melissa Darr) 
125g butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp golden syrup
150g self-raising flour
1 tsp Baking powder (I added this as I don’t think the ‘Cake Flour’ here has a raising agent in it)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
125ml milk
12 Werther’s Original sweets (Yum, but optional for the centre filling.
I took one taste of the butterscotch frosting and figured I didn’t need any more sweetness).

Ingredients for the Butterscotch Frosting
(found this on Fine Cooking, by Greg Patent)  
60g unsalted butter
90g firmly packed dark brown sugar
60ml heavy cream; more as needed
170g icing sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 170 degrees. 
Set out muffin papers in muffin tin.
Beat butter, vanilla and brown sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time; beat in golden syrup. 
Fold in sifted dry ingredients and milk.
Fill the cupcake papers half way and make an indent in the mixture. 
Pop one Werthers Original sweet (optional) in the indent and place the rest of the mixture on top. 
Bake for about 25-30mins. 
Set cupcakes aside to cool.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. 
Add the brown sugar and stir almost constantly with a wooden spoon. 
After 2 to 3 minutes, the sugar will melt and smooth out, and the mixture will begin to
bubble (it’s alright if it still looks separated at this point). 
Once this happens, stir constantly for 2 minutes (less if the sugar smells like it’s burning).
Carefully add the cream and stir constantly for another 2 minutes. 
The mixture will thicken slightly and look smooth and glossy. 
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with the wooden spoon. If the frosting seems
a little dry, beat in more cream, 1/2 tbsp at a time, until it’s thick, smooth, and spreadable.
Swirl on a bit of Butterscotch Frosting and throw a few caramel popcorns on top. 
Et voila! 

Thank you Helen! We'll be trying these beauties over the weekend. xxx

Easter Instagram Giveaway!

07 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment


Brighten up your Easter holidays by winning this lovely lot.
All you need to do is:

Repost this photo in Instagram,
Follow @burpboutique and 
Tag #Easterburp

to win!

Prizes include:
Boys&Girls Bright As Day sweater (available in Sizes 1-2 years, 2-3 years & 3-4 years)
Anorak's Super Duper Heroes colouring-in book
and Anna Chambers' Lemon bunny soft toy (or you could go for the blue of orange one if you wish)

You have just over 1 week.
Winner will be picked at random.
Good luck!


Constructive play

04 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

We’re a big fan of making things and using our imaginations at burp! towers.

We love tactile experiences and the joy of seeing something grow piece by piece 

in front of our eyes. It helps us to not only gain a sense of spacial awareness, but 

enables us to tackle creative and engineering challenges simply by connecting one

brightly coloured block to another. Lego is obviously the major player in this arena, 

with offerings for both boys and girls, though in recent years I’ve noticed it being
bit more boy-heavy and the girl ranges a bit too pink for my liking.

In this regard it’s heartening to see the rise of toys like the wonderful GolideBlocks, 

(which we’ve mentioned before on this blog, though which unfortunately are still 

unavailable in the UK) aiming themselves squarely at readdressing this gender

imbalance. Hopefully following in Goldie’s footsteps are three new companies
aim to bring out the “Artist, Architect, Engineer, and Visionary” in our little ones.

First up is Roominate, whose kits enable children to construct their own wired up 

dollhouses. The founders, Alice and Bettina – two engineers out of Caltech, MIT,

and Stanford are on a mission to get more girls interested in engineering. They 

believe that early exposure through toys will inspire the next generation of female

technology innovators.

Strawbees is a Kickstarter project out of Sweden that recently achieved it’s funding

by over 450%! The simple set of plastic pieces allows children to build huge mechanical

objects from standard straws and cardboard, you’ll have a little Buckminster Fuller on 

your hands in no time!

Finally, another successful Kickstarter aiming to bring “gender disruption in construction

toys” is Build & Imagine whose play-sets are composed of beautifully painted wooden

panels, called StoryWalls, and matching wooden dolls. Children can build the StoryWalls

play-sets into any structural design they choose, and they’ll magnetically snap together. 

The illustrations on each wall artfully combine to create scenes that act as a launching

pad for the child’s imagination.

We’re all for using play to help construct our children’s cognitive skills and we’ll be 
to get some of these into our budding builder’s little hands at the nearest opportunity!



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