Review: National Geographic Build Your Own Volcano!

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We have another fun National Geographic STEM kit to share with you! In June, as part of our Bandai Ambassador role, we were gifted a volcano kit to try out. We had fun reviewing our crystals so we're excited to try this kit next.


The kit has everything you need to build your own volcano. You will be making a plaster mix for your volcano so make sure you do this somewhere that's easy to clean up!

Following the instructions, we used scales and a measuring jug for our plaster mix and water measurements before adding the water to the plaster slowly. Will mixed the water into the plaster much quicker once it was all together because it can become hard quite quick.


The kit comes with a plastic volcano mould. Make sure you push all the pieces together until you hear a clip. We nearly had plaster all over the table because I hadn't clipped one side properly! 

Once all clipped in, our plaster was poured in up to the top and left over night for best results. There wasn't too much mess and there was plenty of plaster mix left for the other children to have a go at making a second volcano later on.


While we left our plaster cast volcano to dry, we explored the rest of the kits contents. We both enjoyed the fact book (it never ceases to amaze me how much even I learn through home ed) and we experimented with the pumice stone and geode that it is included. 

Heading outside, I took a hammer to the geode and smashed it. The inside is beautiful! For the pumice stone, we filled a jug with water and watched it float. I had no idea pumice stone is a rock with gases inside which causes them to float rather than sink.


Our pumice stone floating.


Will put on some goggles and smashed the geode into 2 further peices, he loved the crystals inside and has displayed them in the house.

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We set up for home school the following day, got all the boring stuff out of the way and then painted our volcano. Will chose a deep red and orange and instructed me to add some black around the edges. After about 30 minutes it was time for the best bit: the eruption! 

Watch our quick video below to see our volcano erupt! We used the citric acid provided in the kit and added white vinegar from my cleaning cupboard:


So much fun! As I mentioned above, we have enough plaster to make a second volcano and we have loads of the citric acid left over too. Our first volcano is reusable and even when we do run out of the citric acid everyone knows bicarbonate soda and vinegar will be perfect to enjoy this again and again!


Big thanks to Bandai for yet another fantastic hands on learning experience perfect for our home education and for some STEM fun for all. 

The kits are suitable for ages 8 and over. National Geographic kits (£9.99) and National Geographic Mini Kits (£4.99) are available at all good toy shops. Visit www.bandai.co.uk for more information. 

Review! Zuru Bunch O Balloons Summer Fun PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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We have had some super hot weather this week and to say the children were excited to get a Zuru Bunch O Balloons with water soaker delivery in the same week would be an understatement! 

We have been sent a Zuru Bunch O Balloons water filler/soaker which comes with a set of water balloons plus 3 extra packs and a cool towel (which to save arguments I have placed dibs on!)


After a bit of nagging I've finally got around to letting the kids unleash the balloons and soaker in the back garden. 

The soaker is a new addition to the range and means you don't need to use a tap or hose to fill the balloons if you don't want to. Of course, it also means you could be filling the self sealing water balloons with your hose and also soaking your mates at the same time when not using the soaker as a filler: bonus!


 The balloons attached to the soaker

The packs come with attachments for a hose

The soaker is fun and has a good water shot distance! We couldn't do it much because our garden is right where people walk, but we had a good shot!

We filled our balloons up in a big box I normally use for storage. We also tried using the hose too, both work and are really easy. We watched the videos on the Zuro website here before we got started to make sure we did it right. 



We had so much fun! I dont know if we underfilled some of our balloons but they didnt all pop on impact, that hurt a bit! I'll definitely fill them more next time!). 

For those who wondered, like myself, we all know balloons aren't the most environmentally friendly; so I was happy to read that Zuru have made their self sealing water balloons biodegradable. As keen crafters and upcyclers we are bound to find some use for the ties too so they won't go in the bin. 

ZuruToys are running a giveaway which can be found on the back of their balloon packs, each special pack contains a prize balloon which reveals whether you have won a prize when you wet it. From a holiday and a car, there are 125,000 instant win prizes to be nabbed as well.


Cupcake Mumma has been lucky enough to give our readers the chance to win 1 filler/soaker pack with self sealing water balloons to add some fun to your summer this year! 


There are many other additions to the range so do check them out and if you enter our giveaway, goodluck! If you can't wait, you can purchase Zuru Bunch of Balloons filler/soaker from UK stores now and online at Amazon for around £25

Review ~ STEM Fun with Sea Monkeys and Blue Crystal Growing

We have been sent these products to review, all thoughts, images and opinions are our own!

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We've been selected to be Bandai Ambassors here at the Cupcake Kitney house and have really enjoyed experimenting with some of their products. 

First we tried out the The Original Sea Monkey Ocean Zoo kit (Age 4+). We are looking at a mix of topics in science and one of them is environments and eco systems. This is a fun, easy and simple way to explore this topic.



Everything is listed in easy pictures on the paper insert and there is also a detailed leaflet included in the tank. We used bottled water from the shops and used the water purifier satchet as instructed which had to sit for a day to work. 

The next day we gave the water a stir and added in our second sachet: Sea Monkey eggs! We left our eggs for 5 days, stirring the water gently every day and on day 5 we had some Sea Monkeys! Now we feed them everyday using the small spoon provided. I'll try to share some updates, Will and I can't wait to see them grow and the others are excited too!

Next we focused on our second STEM experiment: growing our own crystal with National Geographic's Blue Crystal growing lab. (Age 8+)


This experiment will take a bit more time to see results and it takes a little longer to set up but we both had fun. 
The set contains all the essentials and all we needed to do was follow the instructions carefully, use boiling water from our kettle and find our own pots for mixing and growing our crystal in.


The aim of this project is to grow your own crystal using a seed crystal and the growing powder provided. We will get to document the water change as it starts to evaporate and we will get to keep an eye on just how big our crystal will get.

Using the instructions; we poured boiling water into an old take away tub, added the growing crystal powder which turned the water blue (very cool) and stirred our mix gently making sure it was all dissolved.

Will stirring the mix

We found a pot for keeping skewers and thought that might be a good container so as the responsible adult (no laughing at the back) I took the solution outside to pour it into the container. Please be careful, the water is obviously very hot.

We let the water cool down as instructed for 20 minutes before Will dropped the seed crystal into the solution, making sure it was central in the pot.

To add to our experiment we chose to put a lid on our crystal for 24 hours. Apparently some crystal growers do this and find they have bigger crystals as a result. Watch this space! 

Our crystal on day 1

These two experiments have been really fun to do. With the Sea Monkeys we have had results in just a few days which is great for the children. The crystal won't be fully ready for at least 2 weeks but there will be a lot of change going on in the pot that will be really exciting to keep an eye on!

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The Blue Crystal Growing Lab from National Geographic costs £14.99 currently on Amazon and The Original Sea Monkeys Ocean-Zoo costs around £9.99 at Argos, both are also available from all good toy stores. For more information on either of these products you can visit Bandai.co.uk

Reasons to be Cheerful ~ Half Term and Yummy Food!

It's been half term this week, only a week but I'm one of those evil parents who thinks a week is quite enough of a holiday but then we do deal with more than the average fall out so maybe I'm justified in my half term dread!

I wanted to do some reasons to be cheerful because I don't blog all that often these days. It often feels fake to write about good things when you don't want to also write about the not so good things. I don't ever want to paint that happy family picture, it's no good to anyone least of all me!

This week Mr K decided he finally wanted to do something about his weight which has piled on (as has mine) over the past couple of years. I've decided to join him but only if he cooks because he is a lush cook and I do not associate dieting with good food unfortunetly! 


Above is one of his yummy dishes. Basa fillet in spices, on salad with chopped potato cooked in salt, pepper and cider vinegar. So yummy!

On Friday we went bowling. It wasn't a great day but it wasn't bad either, I still haven't got used to dealing with Will's autism and being in charge of the wheelchair which is so frustrating because people make things difficult. The bowling place wasn't even wheelchair accessible so that was fun!

Midge had fun learning to bowl, Will won one game but 2 games was just a bit too much when it got louder and he started getting bored waiting. I won a game and Mr K got some lovely photos of the day too. 


In homeschool we have been looking at Canada for our termly geography project. Will is a huge cooking fan so planning a themed dinner is top of his list. We made Poutine, which is a famous dish in Canada consisting of chips, cheesecurds and gravey. It was delicious!



Finally, James turned 8 recently. As always in our house birthdays have to be toned down because they get very overwhelming. James had a lovely day and he adored getting his Sir Meowsalot which I'm told is some YouTube stars cat!


I hope all those of you on half term have also had a good week despite any moments of bickering and meltdowns! And those of you who don't have little ones, I hope you have also had a lovely week!

Do check out more lovely posters participating in reasons to be cheerful using the badge below.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

On Trend Gift Ideas for Father's Day

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This year, in the UK, Father’s day is 16th June, a day I am really looking forward to. It is always nice to spoil Mr K. But, working out what to buy him can be a bit of a headache and I know a lot of my friends feel the same, especially when their kids turn to them for their Father’s Day gift inspiration. So, with this in mind, I thought a short list of trendy men’s gift ideas would be welcomed by many of you.

 Trendy clothes and accessories

It is really easy to go to somewhere like jacamo.co.uk to browse all of the latest men’s clothing. Online retailers like them stock literally thousands of items that would make great gifts. Increasingly, these retailers cater to all age groups and usually stock a good range of accessories as well as clothes. A new wallet, money clip or belt can make a great present. 



A new suit or jacket 

This year, suits are very much in vogue, so if you have the budget, that could be an option. Alternatively, you could simply buy a nice shirt, a sports jersey, a utility jacket or something similar. If you have a special event coming up like a wedding buying an item of clothing for that could be an option. Or, you could keep it simple and buy a Hawaiian shirt, or a pair of shorts, for your family holiday. 

A tailored shirt 

If the man you are buying for likes shirts, buying him a tailor-made one, is a particularly good idea. It is now possible to buy them online. 

A vintage watch 

Vintage watches are very much back in vogue, at the moment. These days most men like to own more than one watch, so they are a particularly good gift. Don’t worry if you are working with a fairly tight budget. You do not necessarily have to spend too much money to get your hands on a nice one. A lot of the re-conditioned ones are surprisingly affordable. You can also buy reproduction versions. 

Personalised jewellery and accessories 

Personalising this sort of gift is also easy. It costs very little to have a nice message engraved on the back. Other items like card holders, pendants or a phone case can also be engraved or embossed. 

You could also personalise your watch gift by looking at old photos and determining what type they wore when they were younger. Potentially, you could find a watch that is just like, or very similar, to the one they used to like. We’ve all had watches that we only stopped wearing because they broke. 

 If you want more personalised gift ideas, you can easily do so online. Don’t forget to include the word monogrammed in your search term. That will provide you with a longer list of options. 

Give gifts any time of the year 

In our family, we have a tradition of giving gifts “just because”. Doing this is a nice way of letting the person you are giving to know that you love and appreciate them. As you can see here you do not have to spend a lot of money to do so.   

Book Review ~ Becoming Insane by Leyla Cardena


Summary

When the monsters hiding underneath your bed are much less frightening than the bills you have to pay, the family you have to support, the job you have to find, and the unrealized dreams you cry about, then you know there’s a problem. Especially when you are a full-grown adult in your mid-thirties. It’s 1987.

 John Crane feels like throwing himself out of the window because of his depression, while his friend Jack Vain has to support his spiraling O.C.D. and panic attacks. 

 Their issues are driving them into a shared psychosis. Without these issues, John and Jack may never have needed to go searching for the demon in the middle of the night, through the mean streets of New York. John Crane’s writings will never be read and discussed, and Jack Vain’s drawings and paintings will never be seen and admired. But the creature is here. It knows them. It wants them. It wants their help. It wants to eat, to touch, to create. It wants to live and be free. It wants to avoid death and become immortal. John and Jack’s creativity looks like the perfect host. 

 As the beast of insanity takes hold, will John and Jack survive their own imaginations? 

What I Thought

As some people may know  I am not someone who reads thrillers very often. I have to say though I love the feel to this book. It's almost as if you get into both John and Jack's head, which is clever and not easy for a writer to do.

I thoroughly enjoyed Becoming Insane by Leyla Cardena and would recommend it to anyone but especially someone who might like a quick but thrilling book they could devour in several days.

Information

 Book Title: Becoming Insane
 Author: Leyla Cardena
 Release Date: 30th April 2019 
Genre: Thriller 
Page Count: 214 
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing 

About the Author


 I was born on the 2nd of August 1990 in Geneva, Switzerland, and still live there until today. I haven’t even changed neighborhood! I still like it very much and the fact that I live near the red-light district makes it even more interesting. 

I had many little jobs since the age of fourteen, shoe shops, hairdressers, pharmacy, boutiques. Then from the age of sixteen until eighteen I became an apprentice as an administrative assistant, working at the company three times a week and going to commercial school twice a week. I then found a job at eighteen as an administrative assistant in a trust company then got promoted as a legal assistant for its corporate department. 

I went to night school to study law, and gathered some other professional certificates/diplomas during that time. At 23, I quit everything as I realized that the only reason why I did all this was because I needed to be financially stable enough to write and create. Something I unfortunately didn’t have the time to do while working and studying. 

Reasons to be Cheerful ~ Week 2

I've a few things to be cheerful for this week. The children had fun at my sister's and both returned safely, Mr K and I have had time with Will and James and also alone which was much needed. 

Yesterday we went to the English Festival which was great fun. We went last year and had a good time so I'm pleased it ran as smoothly this year with the same wonderful stalls and a few extra surprises like this beautiful parrot from a rescue charity.


I had a friend visit who I haven't seen in a couple of years. She lives in Bath so it meant a lot that she came all the way to see me. We took her 3 little ones to soft play and roller skating. I was terrified of making a fool of myself and falling over loads but we went twice and I didn't fall once! I can't wait to take the children some time. 


Today is Easter Sunday which is an important day for us. We had a wonderful service at our church this morning, my Mum got to see where we worship which I've been trying to organise since we moved to Kent and the kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt around the church before we headed home for a traditional roast dinner cooked by Mr K. 


My added reason is that today also marks 2 years since Mr K and I got together. I didn't realise it landed on such a special day this year and after all we've been through lately it just feels like something extra special for me.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart