Friday, 29 April 2011

Back to Brownies

A very busy night back at Brownies, not least because we won't meet next week as all the girls are off school (again!) for the local elections and AV voting.

The girls took part in a royal wedding challenge, and judging from the shrieks from the hall - I was in the outer area dealing with subs and other finance stuff - they had lots of fun.

We also had lots for them all to take home. Everyone there last night got a royal wedding challenge badge - we had 23 out of 26 girls there last night which was quite good as we only had 24 badges! If they had all turned up, we wouldn't have given the newbies a badge, we'd have told them they could start earning them from next week, but as we had 3 missing, we were fine.

There were also Japan badges for all the girls who helped to fundraise last term, we didn't distinguish between who had raised what, so all the girls who were with us last term got one, the newbies didn't get one as this was their first night.

On top of those, they were also receipts for the girls who had paid up their subs, five interest badges given out to four girls who had earned them over the last month, and the china most of them had painted one night last term, one of the nights when I was ill.

The china was beautiful, there were plates and mugs and they really were excellent. The YL and the two PLs took them out to the gate where the Brownies leave so that they could take them carefully straight to their parents and not give them a chance to drop them when they had so much to carry already!

So, a week off next week, then back the week after, though our numbers will be down as quite a few girls will be on a school trip. The week after that we should see the full strength 26 girls back, we're trying out 26 this term with a view of either going to 28 in September if we can manage it or back to 24 in September if we find the girls are too noisy/uncontrolled. We want to be able to give the girls individual attention and although we have a large leadership team, we want to be sure that still happens. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Even the royal wedding has a Guiding connection

Check out Hello Magazine, the Brownie in the back in the centre is Kate Middleton.

My Brownies will be doing a Royal Wedding Challenge this week - not led by me, I'm not much of a royalist, don't mind them but don't get excited by them.

Guiding has long had a royal connection: the Queen, her sister and Princess Anne were all in Guiding; Margaret and Anne as Brownies, Margaret and Elizabeth as Guides and Rangers. The current president of Girlguiding UK is the Countess of Wessex, Edward's wife. And now the newest member of the Royal family also turns out to have been a Brownie.

It's often said that Americans are more excited about our royals than we are, I found out about this picture courtesy of the Girl Scouts of America's blog!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Quilts for the Olympics

Anyone done this? Am thinking it might be a fun project for the autumn with the Brownies and start to get them excited about the Olympics...

I can't quilt, though I could ask around to find someone who could. I wouldn't be afraid of doing it as two layers sewn together round the edge, which looks acceptable. The deadline is December 2011, so plenty of time to do it after the summer.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cake Pops

Inspired in equal measures by Bakerella and Working Mum on the Verge's cupcakes, I decided to make cake pops today. I need to refine it a bit, but I am pretty pleased with them.

I took the laziest possible attitude to them, in that I didn't bake my own cake or make my own buttercream - they took long enough as to make as it was.

I managed to make 38 - if I had rolled the balls more evenly in size I might have made it to 40 but if I'd made them much smaller and ended up with lots more, the choc covering wouldn't have been enough so it's a good number.

I used:
  • 2 x Tesco madeira cakes (600g total - I would have used any un-iced cake but this was all the little Tesco near us had this morning)
  • 2/3 of a tub of Betty Crocker icing (300g - this is where I will modify next time, I think the cake is too smooth and sweet, I think a bit less icing, but that might make it too crumbly which it definitely wasn't this time, so it may not work)
  • Almost a whole pack of red Candy Melts (normal cooking choc would work fine too, and is about 1/3 of the price but I saw these at the store where I bought my lolly sticks and thought I would give them a try)
  • Lolly sticks - Hobbycraft didn't have any 4" ones in so I bought 8" ones and cut them in half - managing to slice into my ring finger on the very first cut, my wedding ring mostly protected me but I now have a plaster on and my ring on my right hand!
  • tiny little choc hearts - not a necessary part of it but they were cute
  • Crumble the cakes in food processor. Mix in the icing (can't be exact about amount, as I said, I need to work on that bit). Roll into balls, put on a baking sheet on greaseproof paper and chill for 1 hour. If the balls are crumbly, add more icing to mixture.
  • Melt a few drops of choc. Dip lolly stick in choc, then push into ball, about 90% of the way in, this definitely helps keep it on the stick when you are adding the chocolate later. Chill again for 15 mins.
  • Melt half the choc in as small based a dish as you can so that the choc is quite deep and it's easy to dip into. I microwaved for 30 secs at a time, took 90 secs total for me.
  • Dip the ball into the choc, help it go over with a small spoon if needed, try to cover all of the ball. Let excess drip off, add a heart if you want then either:
  1. put back onto the tray with the greaseproof paper, this works perfectly but does leave a straight back on the ball as the choc settles
  2. stick the stick into an oasis, I got one from Hobbycraft that fit 11 sticks, the choc drips a little but not too much if you got the excess off, and this keeps the ball round. The first is easier, the second is neater.
You'll probably find the first ones will have set as you finish the first half, melt the second batch of choc and do the remainder, return to the fridge for as long as needed. Bakerella warns to put them into an airtight box to make them last more than a couple of days.

Friday, 15 April 2011

London Olympics 2012

Not Guiding, but my family have now applied for tickets for London 2012 Olympics in the public ballot.

You have to choose what events you are interested in, what locations if there are more than one (such as in the case of football) and what dates. Then you have to say the maximum you are prepared to spend and you will only be entered into the ballot for tickets that are that much or are less.

One really nice aspect is that under 16s pay their age. So for our two kids, we would pay £13 and £8, no matter how much our adult tickets cost.

We have to wait now, find out if we have been successful, but we have applied for:
  • Cycling (track)
  • Cycling (road)
  • Tennis - at Wimbledon!
  • Football
  • Taekwondo
I reckon we should be successful with the football (as there are lots of stadia to choose from, all with thousands of seats) and the taekwondo (as it is a minority sport). Hubby really wants the track cycling and I really want to go to Wimbledon. With the road cycling, if we don't get tickets for the grandstand we may go anyway as the route is through London so there will be a lot of vantage points.

It's exciting! What it does mean is if we get tickets there will be no foreign holiday for us next year, we can't afford both plus those events are across three of only six school holiday weeks. We should be able to manage a week in the UK though, so we will get a holiday, and hey, it will be worth giving up abroad for a year to be part of London 2012, we want to be part of the Olympics in our own country.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Shelterbox and Japan

I'm much much better from my kidney infection and made it back to Brownies for the first time last night, just in time for our Japan fundraising evening.

Our girls have been working hard for weeks, not just my Brownies, but also the Rainbows that meet before us, the Guides that meet after us, and the Senior Section run by two of the Guide Guiders.

They raised loads of money by filling jam jars with change, some girls did sponsored events, lots of girls did jobs round the house for money, and the older girls ran bake sales at their schools.

Then we finished off last night with an origami evening where families came, bought the templates, and we supplied thin paper, scissors, glue and pens to make whatever they chose. We also sold drinks and home baking, ran a Guess the name of the rabbit, and one of the Senior Section Guiders made beautiful flowers out of Japanese fabric.

All those efforts together, plus parents of Brownies and Guides agreeing not to have subs refunded for a night back in March where we had to call off the meeting at short notice, added up to...


We will be sending £651.73 of that directly to Shelterbox, it will pay for one Shelterbox plus £60 left over for the charity to spend as they need. The other £152 has already gone to Shelterbox via an initiative set up by a couple of Guiders to raise money for the charity by selling badges - we bought badges for every girl and leader involved in our fundraising, a great way to say thank you but still have the money go to our chosen charity.

If you're a Guiding or Scouting leader (there's no trefoil on the badge so it is not exclusively Girlguiding) and might like to purchase the badges too (or even if you are not!), the details are in the Help Now image. If you can't click on it to make it bigger, the contact is and the badges are £2 each plus postage with all profit going to Shelterbox.
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