Let’s get pampered!

Pampering afternoon for us is a chance to relax, have a chat and feel good about ourselves. There is tea, coffee and biscuits, and lots of activities to choose from, or you can just sit and have a natter – the choice is yours!

This time, the foot spa was the number one activity choice, being enjoyed by the men as well as the ladies! These two were both first time foot spa users, and have both said they will be coming back for more!!

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Henna continues to be popular too – what initially was a one off activity has turned into a firm favourite, and it would now be sorely missed! This month we tried some more traditional mehndi designs which went down well!

Here is Fiona sporting her design (and newly painted nails!), along with a close up.

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Nail painting, head massage, and a general natter took care of the rest of the afternoon!

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If you would like to join us, keep an eye out for our newsletter, we hold Pampering Afternoons once a month, and are adaptable to all!

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Spooky sweets – Our Halloween happenings!

Sweet making is always a popular session, just as our blog posts on sweet making are always our most popular blog posts!

So this year, we thought we’d have a go at making a few spooky themed treats, given our session was so close to Halloween. This sort of evolved the session into a cake decorating/sweet making session, but it was still hugely enjoyable, and we got to have a go at some new skills, such as making and rolling out royal icing. Here’s some pictures of what we recreated along with instructions of how to make them yourself. (I know its a little late now for this year, but those who are keen can bookmark ready for next year!)

  1. Spooky ghost cakes

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As we don’t have an oven at our base, we used premade fairy cakes. For these ghost cakes, we used an additional cake, cut into four, and placed a quarter on the top of each cake (held on by a blob of writing icing) to give some height to the cake.

Next we made the icing. For this we used some white marshmallows (we bought bags of white and pink, so had to ‘suffer’ eating the pink ones! – One bag using just the white ones should ice 10-12 cakes) and melted them in the microwave. we then added icing sugar, continuing to add it until the mixture was a stiff, unsticky, rollable texture. We rolled it out, using extra icing sugar to stop the icing sticking to the rolling pin/board and cut out circles. You could use a round cookie cutter, but as we didn’t have this we used the top of the pint glass. Then place the circle over the cake and mould into a suitable ghost shape. (if the icing won’t stick to the cake itself, moisten the edges on the underside). Finally draw on an appropriately spooky face using writing icing, or an edible food marker if you have one!

2. Graveyard Cakes

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These were super easy to make. Again we used pre-made cakes, chocolate ones this time. we cut a slit in the cake and stuck in a biscuit shaped suitably for a headstone. Then we melted some dark chocolate to spread ontop of the cake. We also used this to help ‘glue’ the headstone in place. Finally, we used some writing icing to add features. We were low on time, but you could also crush Oreo’s or similar and sprinkle on the top to make it look more like dirt.

3. Truffles – Eyeballs and Mummys!

This is a great example of one recipe creating two different look truffles – both these eyeballs and mummy truffles! The difference is in the decoration.

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To make these truffles:

For the filling: 1 packet of ginger nuts, about 75-100g cream cheese. Crush the ginger nuts into crumbs. You can do this in a food processor, but we like to put the biscuits into a strong ziplock bag and bash them into crumbs with a rolling pin! This is definitely our favourite part! Next, mix in the cream cheese, so you get a consistency that is rollable and not too sticky. Roll into balls and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Next, melt 200g of white chocolate. Roll the balls into the melted chocolate and pop into the fridge to set.

Now, to decorate in the two different ways:

For the mummies: Drizzle leftover melted white chocolate over the truffle and ice two small red eyes.

For the eyeballs: add a Smartie for the iris, and ice on a pupil and veins using writing icing.

We had some other ideas planned, but ran out of time, so we’ll have to do more next year!

I have to include some pictures too of the fun we were having making these!

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Well done Fiona!

Here at Integrate Adventures, we are very proud of everyone’s achievements, and were delighted that Fiona wanted to share her success at completing her silver arts award with us by having it presented here! Here is Fiona with her certificate!

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Fiona has worked very hard to get this award, part of which included taking the lead and running several arts and craft sessions for us. These included Origami, card making ,scrapbooking and jewellery making. Here are a few pictures from the sessions she ran for us.

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We celebrated with a drop in arts and crafts session of our own, making Hama Beads, Bracelets and Scratch Art, and enjoyed some  lovely cake and a glass of Shloer! Fiona has worked really hard on this, not only running the sessions with us, but also creating her own portfolio of art work. We know Fiona loves to learn and challenge herself so we look forward to hearing all about whatever her next adventure is!

Sweet Making – Some Tasty Recipes!

One of our popular activities this month was our sweet making session. This month we did a couple of old favourite recipes like sugar mice and peppermint creams, did some seasonal Easter nests, and tried some new recipes – Oreo truffles and Raspberry Ruffle Squares. I apologise for the poor photographs – as ever I get pulled into the activity and forget about taking them! Anyway, I thought I would share the recipes here – these are all no-bake recipes – the only facilities required are hot water, and a fridge (if you want them to set quicker!)

Raspberry Ruffle Bars

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Ingredients – makes approx. 20 squares

  • 170g (6oz) dessicated coconut
  • 1 packet raspberry jelly crystals
  • 60g (2oz) icing sugar
  • 1 small tin condensed milk
  • 1 large bar plain chocolate

Mix together the coconut, icing sugar, jelly crystals and condensed milk in a bowl.

Cover a tray with greaseproof paper and spread out the mixture into a rectangle shape until it is about 1cm thick.

Put the tray in the fridge for about half an hour until it is set.

When it is set, melt the bar of dark chocolate (in a bowl over hot water) and spread thinly over the raspberry mixture.

Put back in the fridge for half an hour until it is set, then cut into squares using a sharp knife.

Sugar Mice

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(unfortunately this poor mouse got a bit flattened, but he still tasted good! )

Ingredients

  • Icing Sugar
  • Pink Food Colouring
  • A few drops of water
  • Silver Balls
  • Chocolate Buttons
  • Strawberry Laces

Mix together some Icing sugar, food colouring and a couple of drops of water in a bowl. Vary level of water and icing sugar so you get something with the consistency of playdough.

Mould into the shape of a mouse (or any shape you would like your mouse to be!)

Decorate with silver balls for eyes, Chocolate buttons for ears, and a strawberry lace for a tail.

Pop in the fridge to set.

Easter Nests

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Ingredients – Makes approx. 18 nests

  • 6 shredded wheat
  • I large bar of milk chocolate
  • Paper Cases
  • Mini Eggs

Break up the shredded wheat into small pieces (to look like nest material) in a large bowl.

In another bowl melt the chocolate over hot water.

Mix together the melted chocolate and the shredded wheat and spoon into paper cases.

Add eggs to each nest and chill in the fridge to set.

Oreo truffles

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(The less messy ones got eaten before I could take a picture! These were definitely a favourite!)

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Oreo Cookies
  • 75g Cream Cheese
  • 1 large bar Milk chocolate
  • Cocoa Powder

Turn the Oreo biscuits into medium sized crumbs. This could be done in a food processor, but our preferred method was to put some in a ziplock bag, and bash the bag with a large metal spoon – far more fun and with less washing up!

Mix together the crumbs and the cream cheese in a bowl, then roll the mixture into small, heaped teaspoon sized balls.

Put these on a tray covered in greaseproof paper and pop them in the fridge (or freezer if you want them quicker – are running out of fridge space like we were!) until set.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Coat the balls in the meted chocolate. We found this easiest by dropping the ball in, then  using two metal forks to roll the ball around ,and then lifting out, allowing excess chocolate to drain off, and popping back on the tray.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder and place back in the fridge to set.

Peppermint Creams

Last but not least, the classic peppermint creams. I recommend spacing them out more than we did – or they do merge into one giant caterpillar like peppermint cream – like this one.

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Ingredients

  • Icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • Peppermint essence
  • A few drops of water (if needed)

Mix together the peppermint essence (the amount you add is dependent on how strong you like them!), the egg white and the icing sugar. Add a couple of drops of water if necessary. Again, you are looking for a playdough like consistency.

Roll the mixture into small balls. Spread balls out on a tray covered in greaseproof paper. Press down on top of each one with a fork.

Chill to set. You could half dip these in melted chocolate if you wanted to, but we figured we’d had enough chocolate already for one day!

So there are our recipes! We had lots of fun making these, and everyone loved having a box of treats to take home with them (minus the ones that had already been eaten!

We will definitely have another sweet making session soon, when we’ll be on the lookout for more new recipes, so if you have any tried and tested favourites, do share them with us!

Spring is in the air…

 Ok, so spring might not actually be in the air (for us we’ve had a day of rain!), but it felt like it today on our trip to the farm, as we met some of the recently born animals (along with a few older friends!)

Here are a few pictures of some of the furry friends we met today!

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There was some serious “aww”-ing at these newly born lambs and chicks snuggled up under heat lamps (which in today’s weather was definitely a good option!)

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Some of our group got up close and personal and even got to handle the baby chicks!

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And, being that it was also a working dairy farm, we couldn’t not have a look at the new calves! They were definitely interested only in if we had any food or not!

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We also got to learn lots of things about farm life and the animals. We decided we didn’t fancy having to be up for the 5am milking, and couldn’t believe cows only sleep for around 20 minutes a day! We all like to sleep for much longer than that!

We had a look at the machinery used to milk the cows and learnt all about the food that milk goes into, such as yoghurt, cheese, and (my favourite) ice cream!

Horsing around!

Today we braved the chilly weather and headed out for a trip to Penny Farm, near Blackpool.

Penny Farm is a world horse welfare centre, which helps to take in neglected and abused horses, along with those whose owners can no longer look after them, and help them to get better again, and in many cases, find a new home once they are better.

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Inside they have a small café (and I’ve been told the scones were good!) and visitors room, and then outside there are lots of different horses to see. Each of them also comes with some of their background story, and the hopes and plans for their future.

We loved meeting them all, even though some of them, like this one were more interested in the fact it was lunchtime!

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Here are some of the more friendly faces that we met!

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Sporting Action!

One thing we like to do is get active! And with the weather recently not helping us enjoy the outdoors (ice, hail, rain and snow are not our favourite walking conditions!) we’ve been taking part in a bit of indoor sport.

One example of this is Badminton. We’ve been playing for a few months now after someone from the group suggested giving it a go, and we really enjoy it. As I (Sam) play a bit in a social club, we had enough basic knowledge to give it a go!

It has been really great to see everyone giving this a go, and abilities have come on hugely! We’ve been able to have some really good rallies and our serving is really good now! If it wasn’t for the net in the way I think we’d be giving Team England a run for their money!

OK, so maybe we aren’t quite that good (yet!), but the most important thing is we’re getting out and active, and having a good time doing it! Here are a couple of pictures of us in action:

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We are looking at playing every month, so do come and join in if you would like to give it a go!

Oh no you didn’t! OH YES WE DID!

That’s right, Panto fever hit us here as we went on a trip to the local pantomime to get us all in the Christmas spirit. This year, we had the classic tale of Snow White.

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As ever, the Pantomime included all the essential elements of a pantomime beyond just telling the story – that includes custard pies, a water spraying tree, silly songs and lots of audience participation.

One of our favourite moments was taking part in the singing of ‘The Grand Old Duke Of York’. I already can’t remember how this fitted into the story of Snow White, but I remember all the roars of laughter at standing up when they were ‘up’, sitting down when they were ‘down’, and bobbing when they were ‘neither up nor down’! It took a bit of practice, but we all got there in the end!

It has also really got us in the festive spirit! It runs until 3rd January, so if you like a Panto it’s worth popping along to see it!