Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Views & Ramblings

  1. Halloween Party Ideas for Grown Ups on a Budget

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    Need Halloween party ideas for adults? Start by setting a budget and creating an invitation list. Think through every detail so there will be no frightening surprises. Don't forget the Halloween music. Download a CD of spooky music and sound effects for Halloween party fun. Create decorations that are low-cost, and add a few decorations the guests can eat.

    Tips for Halloween Party Food and Decorations

    Ask each guest to bring a food item or finger food – enough to go around for everyone unless it's a big crowd. (Hint: A big pot of chili works great for a crowd and is perfect for cooler weather.) If the weather is warm, serve snack foods, a few easy appetizers and a variety of beverages. Use disposable dinnerware to make cleanup easier.

    Add one or two carved candle-lit pumpkins for "atmosphere" and make use of glow sticks (Department store Halloween aisle) to add a little drama after dark. To save money, homemade and store-bought sweet treats can double as some of the party decorations.

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    Need a few more Halloween decoration ideas?

    Buy small Halloween party bags and fill halfway with wrapped candy or a few homemade cookies. Staple closed or tie with orange or black ribbon. Put a few bags on the fireplace mantel, a few on each bookshelf, and so forth. Display at least enough bags so that each guest can take one home at the end of the evening.

    Decorate for Halloween with natural decorations: Indian corn, gourds, clusters of bare sticks, tall grasses, and pine cones. A little fake cobweb (Halloween supplies) stretched over each cluster adds to the ghoulish effect.

    Black and orange balloons cost very little and make great decorations. Cluster 3 or 4 together and attach to corners of the room close to the ceiling.

    Put a handful of wrapped popcorn balls or wrapped candy in a basket and stretch a fake cobweb over the basket.

    Buy a bag of candy "body parts" (Halloween candy shelves) and place parts strategically on the food table.

    Cupcakes or cookies frosted and decorated with bats, spider webs and tombstones make ideal edible spooky party decorations that are low-cost. Draw the creatures, etc. or buy plastic party decorations.

    Make a spider web cake for an edible centerpiece. (Instructions in last section)

    Make a jack-o-lantern centerpiece cake: Bake two Bundt cakes and assemble together to look like a pumpkin. Frost with orange tinted frosting. Create a jack-o-lantern face with small candies as desired.*

    Halloween Costume Party Ideas

    For a cheap and easy Halloween party, try a hobo theme. Write invitations on scrap paper. Ask guests to dress up in hobo clothes and award a prize to the "best-dressed" hobo. Have everyone pitch in with the food: shepherd's pie, chili, tuna salad, or a bag of broken cookies. Bake a lop-sided cake or bake cupcakes of various sizes (some too small, some half-frosted).

    Halloween costume ideas from classic TV shows are good choices for singles and couples. The TV character idea can even be a costume theme for a party. Guests will have fun dressing up as a favorite television personality from the sixties or seventies (or later).

    How to Make a Halloween Spider Web Cake

    Making a spider web design on top of a cake is easy. The directions below can be modified – make a white web on a chocolate frosted cake, for example. Add a plastic spider to the web if desired.

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    Bake an 8 or 9-inch round cake according to package directions.
    Frost the cake with white icing.
    Take a brown or black decorator gel tube and draw 4 concentric circles on top of the cake. (Chocolate syrup in a squeeze bottle also works well for drawing circles.)
    Using a table knife and starting at the center of the cake, lightly pull through the rings from center to the outside edge. Wipe frosting from knife. Repeat every few inches until the "web" is complete.
    Attach a plastic spider or two if desired, or make one that's edible.

    Successful Halloween party planning is easy and fun, and can fit any size budget. Be sure to make a list of all the things needed – paper cups, napkins, ice, and so forth – so that nothing is overlooked. Share the preparations for less stress, and be sure to delegate a few close friends to help clean up when the party is over.

    And have a frighteningly good time! 

  2. When & where can I go pumpkin picking in the Midlands?

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    We are now officially in pumpkin season! The weather has changed, Autumn is definitely upon us and all we can think about is that Halloween is approaching!

    Last year we wrote a post about 5 Things To Do With A Pumpkin Other Than Carve It but nothing says Halloween more than a carved pumpkin outside your house. But where are the best places in the Midlands to get your pumpkins this year? We have been taking a look!

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     Manor Farm Fruits - Tamworth

    12th, 13th, 19th & 20th October and Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November 10am – 4pm (stock permitting)

    There is no need to book tickets, you can just turn up on the day and pay.  

      • Choose your own pumpkins (prices vary)
      • Bouncy Castles ( up to 1.3 meters)
      • Climb and Crawl Straw Bales Pyramid and Mini Maze
      • Spooky Space Hoppers
      • Face Painting
      • Creepy Sneaky Scare Tunnel
      • Pumpkin Express Tractor Rides (£3.00 per person)

    The Strawberry Cabin Team Room is also open serving hot and cold food all day including Halloween Cup Cakes and lots of other delicious Pumpkin dishes!

    Prices

    £5 per child ages 2 to 12
    £1 adults
    Under 2 go free.

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    Pumpkin Week at Hatton Adventure World - Warwick

    Tickets are valid on any one day between 26th October to 31st October 2019. We have enjoyed Pumpkin Week at Hatton in previous years and it is a great day out for all the family.

    Tickets can be purchased online up until 10am on the day of visit. (Making a saving on the door prices)

    In addition to pumpkin picking, there are lots of things going on during pumpkin week including :

    New Haunted House

    Pumpkin Carving in the Events (closes at 4pm)

    Pumpkin Hunt

    Pumpkin Carving Competition judged at 4.15pm

    Along with all the usual Hatton activities

    ADULT - £16.95

    CHILD - £16.95 

    UNDER 2 - Free

     

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    Hill Top Farm - Leamington Spa

    Between Saturday 19th October to Thursday 31th October (stock permitting) their pumpkin field will be open for you to pick your own pumpkin.

    The field will be open between 10am-4pm each day and they are taking people down to the pumpkin patch via tractor rides every 30 minutes.  You can then select your pumpkin and take it home with you to carve!
     

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    Planters Garden Centre - Tamworth

    The Pumpkin Paddock returns for 2019! This Halloween event includes lots of family fun such as pumpkin picking, carving, games and more! It is not really pumpkin picking like at pick your own locations but it is a great location and very child friendly.

    Every £5 child ticket includes picking a pumpkin, which you can pick from the paddock area, carving it and being able to take it home. Anybody not wishing to take home a pumpkin can purchase an adult ticket for £1.50.

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    Essington Farm - Wolverhampton

    PYO is open again on the 12th October 2019. 🎃 Go and pick your own perfect pumpkin from all different shapes and sizes. This is farm so always best to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, especially if it has been raining.

    Top Tip from Essington Farm :Remember, if you keep the stalk on your pumpkin it will easily last until November!!

    We will be updating this listing throughout October, so do let us know if you find a great pumpkin patch! 

    And finally ......

    Once you have carved your pumpkin up and created a Halloween masterpiece, the best thing to do then is make some delicious pumpkin soup! 

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  3. Whats on in Birmingham theatres this Autumn / Winter?

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    Last weekend we went to see the AMAZING 9 to 5 Musical at the Alexandra Theatre. It has finished its run now in Birmingham but it is travelling round the UK. I didn't actually know the story or many of the songs but it was a couple of hours of sheer entertainment. to 5 the Musical tells the story of three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, will the women manage to reform their office - or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?

    We got an unexpected surprise when we found star of the show, Louise Redknapp outside the stage door on the way home, so it would have been rude not to say hello! 

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    In addition to 9 to 5 in Birmingham last week, the cast of the fairest panto in the land came together for the first time in costume to officially launch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which plays at Birmingham Hippodrome from Saturday 21 December 2019 - Sunday 2 February 2020.

    The spectacular production will feature Lesley Joseph as the Wicked Queen, Matt Slack as Muddles, Joe McElderry as The Spirit in the Mirror, Faye Brookes as Snow White, Flawless as The Wicked Queen’s Men, Doreen Tipton as The Lady in Waiting, Andrew Ryan as Nanny Annie Aspirin and Jac Yarrow as The Prince.

    Matt Slack, Andrew Ryan, Faye Brookes, Lesley Joseph, Joe McElderry, Jac Ya

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Saturday 21 December 2019 - Sunday 2 February 2020. Book now to secure the best seats, or you won’t be able to look yourself in the mirror! To book visit birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000 (4.5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge). 

     

    In November and December The Old Rep brings Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Snow Queen to The Old Rep stage.

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    This adaptation of the magical adventure follows inseparable friends Kai and Gerda.  When the heartless Snow Queen steals Kai to help rebuild her broken treasure, can Gerda rescue him in time before she plunges the world into an eternal winter? With the help of an unlikely band of companions, Gerda travels to the Kingdom of Ice to confront the Snow Queen and rescue her friend.

    From the creative team behind last year’s Pinocchio, comes a seasonal adventure for the entire family. We loved Pinocchio last year and can't wait to see what the creative team have in store for The Snow Queen.

    Have you booked anything for theatreland this winter? 

  4. Tesalate : Sand Free Beach Towel Review

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    Beach towels take up valuable packing space in your holiday cases, so I was thrilled when Tesalate asked us to do a review for their beach towels. We have seen many of these "compact, sand free" towels advertised online and were delighted at the opportunity to try one for ourselves! 

    Tesalate started with humble beginnings when two friends---Volkan Ozbek and Jacky Lam went on a beach outing in Sydney a few years ago. Carrying a sand-laden beach towel at the end of the day inspired them to make a beach towel that not only functioned better but looked terrific, too. Having sand "everywhere" actually puts me off from going to the beach so the thought of having a towel that repells it, was already a plus point for me.

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    What are my choices?

    There are countless striking designs to choose from on their website, however we chose the "Is This Love" design. Each towel is double sided and the reverse side always has Tesalate’s signature black & white triangle pattern, so you get two looks for the price of one (winning so far)

    The sales blurb said "Tesalate beach towels are ultra compact, super absorbent, dry rapidly and are insatiably vibrant. Sand doesn't stick to them, even when wet. All our towels are made from our exclusive AbsorbLite fabric and are full beach towel sized"

    This seemed the perfect solution for my teenager daughter who was going away with school for 4 days with only cabin luggage allowance (!!). Or a mom who insists on filling the cases with everything except the kitchen sink (according to my husband).

    Where can I buy one?

    The towels retail at £49 and can be purchased directly from their website. All orders have free shipping, which is amazing really considering the towels are coming from Austrailia and you get fully tracking updates of their journey. £49 may be considered expensive for a towel that you use once a year on your summer holiday but the Tesalate towel is so much more!

    They advertise the key features as:

    • Sand free. Leave the beach at the beach.
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    • Full sized beach towel: 160cm x 80cm / 63 x 31 inches.
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    • Ultra absorbent; over 1 litre of water.
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    • Rapid-drying. Half the time of a regular beach towel.
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    • Compact when rolled. Fits in your bag.

    But we see the extra benefits of using it such as a yoga mat or for all year round school swimming events .... although the sand free element won't get as much use in these locations I suspect. 

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    Is it really sand free?

    The towel is a great size and we did the "sand test" to check out the fabric of the Tesalate towel, which means that the sand doesn't stick like it does to traditional towels. I think I expected the sand to magically filter through the towel but it actually doesn't attach itself to it in the first place. Obviously a few grains do remain but better than taking half the beach back to your hotel or apartment! 

    Is it better than a regular towel?

    For travelling - absolutely!

    It is compact without being flimsy and has great absorbancy. While we didn't time how long it took to dry, it seemed to dry much quicker than a regular towel. To  be honest, I personally love being enveloped in a big fluffy towel when I get out of the bath or shower at home but that isn't the purpose of the Tesalate towel, it is designed for being out and about. 

    Also because it is a great size, you can actually scoop two children into the same towel! Bonus!

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    What happens if you don't like it?

    We are all different and what one person loves, another doesn't (that is what makes the world go round after all) but the folk at Tesalate want you to be entirely happy. They really want you to love your Tesalate however if you don't you can return it for free. They will even pay for return shipping!!

    We were gifted our Tesalate towel and in all honesty, if I hadn't had the chance to review one first, I am not sure I would have purchased one. However having now experienced not only the quality of the product but the fantastic customer service and I would forgo another holiday outfit and spend the money on another Tesalate!