Friday, June 24, 2011

Food Friday: Choux

For Father's Day, I asked Mr Foodie what type of treat he would like me to bake. Ever so helpful, Mr Foodie couldn't make up his mind, only guideline: not chocolate again. So I decided to try my hand at something new. And I decided to try and make some choux.

Choux are one of those pastries that look really impressive and that people think they can't make. It has to be complicated, right? I mean, look at them, they're puffy and sweet and golden. It has to involve some kind of trick of the trade, some kind of big secret. Well, let me tell you something. It's really not that complicated. I was one of those people thinking: I can never make that. But I tried and it worked..

Now, because I didn't know how they would turn up, I didn't take pictures at every step of the way, I have to say I should have because the result was quite something (if I may say so myself). The only thing I would warn people about is this: If you don't have one of those fancy free standing food mixers thingies, you have to use a wooden spoon which is not really a problem in itself unless you are like me and your hands are quite delicate and you then end up with a blister from the quite heavy stirring you need to do.

So here is what you need to make some lovely, puffy, golden choux:


- 250 ml of water.
- 100 grs of butter.
- 125 grs of flour.
- 4 eggs.
- 1 pinch of salt.

How to:

- Preheat the oven at 180 C.
- In a pot, bring the water, butter and salt to the boil.
- As soon as it starts boiling, take off the heat and add all the flour in one go.
- Stir fast and furiously with a wooden spoon.
- Return to a medium heat and continue stirring with the wooden spoon until the mix dries up and comes off the sides and bottom of the pot easily (making a ball).
- Take off the heat again.
- Once cooled down, add the first egg.
- Stir until fully incorporated (it looks like it will never happen but then all of the sudden it incorporates!)
- Repeat one egg at a time.
- Once your pastry is ready, put little blobs of pastry onto a baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
- Bake for a further 5 minutes with the oven door open (it will help the steam escape and ensure that your choux don't go all floppy when you take them out).

This should be the result you get:

It is then up to you to chose what you want to fill them with. We had a few sneaky ones in the afternoon, filled with squirty cream.

The girls and myself had some more then for dessert, filled with vanilla ice cream, and covered in melted dark chocolate and grilled almonds. Yes, my favourite dessert: Profiterolles au chocolat. Yummy.
Mr Foodie not being a lover of chocolate, went for a creme patissiere filling which looked like this.
The filling has to be done at the last minute, because otherwise your choux will start soaking up the moisture from the filling and go slightly soggy.

What about you? Which filling would you go for?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Friday: Chocolate cake.

I love chocolate, good old dark, slightly bitter chocolate, none of that fancy milk stuff. And of course, I love a good chocolate cake.
For years, I have baked the same chocolate cake. I found the recipe in a book I bought when I was a child. It is a Disney recipe book. I remember spending afternoons reading the recipes and bugging my mum to bake a cake with me. I also remember one afternoon when my mum and dad were busy doing something else, taking it upon myself to bake. I believe the result was practically inedible (it was some kind of custardy thing) and the kitchen was an absolute disgrace by the time I was finished. My brother claims it is his chocolate cake recipe (although clearly the book is mine, so it is my recipe) and it is the only cake he will bake (or eat for that matter). When he was smaller, he wanted to become a pastry chef / footballer. But he would only bake that specific chocolate cake and nothing else (he was only young if that's any excuse, and he has become neither a pastry chef, nor a footballer).

However, that one recipe has stood the test of time. I baked it for Marie's birthday party and Noelie's too this year and I barely had a chance to take a bite. I also baked it for an engagement party we attended not long ago. It is very simple and not fancy at all, but it has to be said it hits the chocolate spot anytime. It also doesn't take long at all and can be decorated any way you want it (Chocolate ganache and mini smarties looked good!), or just a dusting of icing sugar.

Noelie's birthday cake.
So here is my favourite good old chocolate cake recipe:


- 125 grs of dark cooking chocolate.
- 100 grs of butter.
- 4 eggs.
- 70 grs of flour.
- 125 grs of sugar.

How to:

  • Preheat your oven at 180 C.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter.
  • Mix the eggs, flour and sugar.
  • Add the melted chocolate & butter to the batter.
  • Pour into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 min.
For a lovely twist, you can add a small cup of expresso coffee to the melted chocolate. You won't taste the coffee but it will enhance the flavour of the chocolate.

For a really decadent treat, serve warm with custard, or vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream!

 Bon appétit!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maman, what's that pretty flag for?

That was the question Marie asked when we were driving through town the other day, on our way back from collecting her much awaited passport. The flag in question was this one:

The Dublin Gay Pride is about to take place and the quays are lined with flags and it brings a nice touch of colour to the grey skies and a great sense of fun. So I explained to her what it was about. Marie knows that sometimes men love men and women love women and that's it's natural and normal and not a big deal. She has met some gay friends of ours and she absolutely adores one particular couple.

So, what could have been an awkward moment for some people was just a normal conversation between me and my 8 year old daughter.

And I felt a great sense of pride. I was proud of us and the fact that we are bringing her up to be accepting of others, regardless of any differences. And I was proud of her because she is showing signs of compassion and acceptance for other people.

Because, at the end of the day, we are all different, and we should all be proud of who we are.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A little corner of France in Ireland!

As I have mentioned in the last post, the past couple of weeks have been quite busy and slightly stressful. Since we can't go on holidays to visit my parents this year (thanks Peanut!), they have kindly offered to take Marie so that she wouldn't miss out on the fun, sun and swimming pool. I had assumed that they wanted to take her for a couple of weeks but since my dad is now retired, they decided to take her from mid July until the end of August.

I was a bit wary of letting her go for that long (selfishly I have to admit) and I also felt a bit bad that she would miss her little brother's arrival. But after talking to her and explaining to her that she wouldn't see her little brother until a while after he was born and asking her what she wanted to do, it took her the whole lot of 2 seconds to decide that she wanted to go on holidays. Newborns, as she remembers from her little sister, are 'boring' as they only 'sleep, eat, poo and cry' (her words not mine). So it was agreed that my dad would come and pick her up mid July and fly back with her. And then my mum & dad would bring her back when my mum took her holidays at the end of August.

There was only one slight problem though, her Irish passport is about to expire. In itself, it might not sound like a big problem. I mean all you need to do is fill in the form, get it signed at the garda station and send it off. Unlike last year, there are no strikes in the passport office, so you can get it back within 10 working days. Unfortunately, it's not that easy for us. Some of you know that Mr Foodie is not Marie's biological father, although he is for all intents and purposes her dad. She calls him Daddy and loves him as such. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we haven't heard from her biological father since last summer. We don't know where he is and the last known number we have is the one of his ex-girlfriend. Since we don't know where to find him, he can't sign the passport form and since he is considered as her guardian, both signatures have to be on it. I discussed it with a garda friend who explained to me that unfortunately, the only way to go was through the courts. I have had my fill of them, I have been in and out of court over Marie and I've had enough to last me a lifetime. So I'd rather stay away from them. That and the fact that by the time we realized that her passport would be out of date for the summer, the case would probably not have been heard until they come back from their summer holidays, in September. So too late for her to go.

So I looked into getting her a French passport. She is after all a French citizen hence entitled to a French passport. And it turns out that in France, only one parent's signature is required to get a passport or an ID card, no questions asked. I have to say that finding this bit of information out made me jump for joy.

Then started the process of gathering the documents needed to request it. We had to order her french birth cert twice but eventually, we got both copies within a day of each other. Then came the fact that she had to come with me. The French Embassy operates on a very French schedule. It is only open to French citizens from 9.30am to 12 pm, the afternoon being dedicated to visa requests. You can only call them between the hours of 2pm and 3pm unless you have a real emergency. And if you manage to get a hold of somebody on the phone before 2pm, they ask you to call back within the dedicated hours. So I decided to keep Marie out of school for a day, so we could both go and get the passport.

My car has refused to start since the snow last year, and I have since let the insurance policy lapse, not renewed the car tax (since it's off the road) and not bothered with getting it NCTed (that would be the equivalent of an MOT in the UK I think). On a daily basis, it's not a problem. We walk to school (10 minutes up and 10 minutes down) unless it's raining heavily when the neighbour (who also drops her son to school) gives Marie a lift. Mr Foodie is usually home by 4pm so any shopping, etc can be done after he gets home. We have been using only the one car for the past few months and it has worked for us. But on the occasions that I need to go somewhere during the day, it does take a bit of organising. So we arranged for the girls to stay over at Mr Foodie's mum & dad's so that I could drop him off at work (leaving the house before 6am) and then went on to collect Marie and drive to the embassy. I think I went there 8 times in 13 years (4 times to vote, twice for my own passport, and twice to make the girls fully fledged French citizens) and certainly had never gone there from where we live now. So the GPS went on and we made our way. Marie was slightly nervous and so was I. What if they started asking questions about her father, what would we do if they refused to issue her passport, how devastated would she be that she couldn't go on holidays etc... I had explained to her that we had to go and get her passport and that without it, she wouldn't be able to go on holidays, so she was aware of how important this was.

We got there without getting lost (which with my sense of directions is quite an achievement). And after queueing up for a bit, we got seen to. I decided to also get her an ID card. You see, an ID card is valid for 10 years and allows you to travel within the EU and it's free too. Which means that the ID card would expire after her 18th birthday, by which time, she will not be considered a minor anymore (hence sorting my visiting Papi & Mamie for holidays / passport requests problems for the next 10 years). She got fingerprinted, measured, her eye colour was noted, her picture was taken and the ID card and passport requests were sent. The girl behind the counter did ask if I had a letter or a copy of her father's ID but I quickly explained the problem and she said that it wasn't compulsory anyway. So, after we came out, we both sighed a big sigh of relief. Half of the problem was solved. All we had to do now was wait for the embassy to send me a text to let me know that the passport was ready to be collected. The girl said that if I didn't hear from them by the end of the week it meant that there were no problems with the request. I immediately called Mr Foodie to let him know how we got on, as well as my mum and dad who didn't waste any time booking the flights that very same afternoon.

A week to the day later, I received the text. Her passport had been issued, and was ready to be collected. I was extremely impressed at the speed the request had been processed, especially when you know that the passport gets printed out in France. It left Dublin on the Tuesday, the following Thursday was a bank holiday in France (and most companies would also be closed on the Friday) and the following Monday was a bank holiday in Ireland. So it really took less than 3 working days for the passport to get printed and flown back here. A weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders. All the stress and worry of the past few weeks wondering would she be able to go or not, would I need to go back to court etc just dissolved. It took a little more organising so that we could go back and collect it. Marie had to come with me, as she needed to get fingerprinted again to ensure she was really the passport holder. We went to collect it last Friday and you could see the delight on her face when we stepped out of the embassy. She too was extremely relieved and even let out a small squeal when we closed the door of the consulate. She turned around, beaming and announced proudly: 'It's official. I can go on holidays!'

It feels strange to me to see her name and picture and written below the words nationality: French. I don't know why but I have always considered her to be more Irish than French. Probably some kind of unconscious reaction to the fact that her biological father didn't want me to speak French to her. I subconsciously suppressed her Frenchness. But, in the past year (since her father vanished really), her French has come on so much that she is able to hold a conversion on the phone to my mum and dad, she speaks mainly French to her little sister and she wants to learn more. And she will. What better way to do so than go away for a few weeks and be completely immersed in the language, and the culture! So roll on the holidays! I just wish she would stop asking me everyday how many days are left until she goes...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

8 weeks to go.

Yes, 8 weeks to go. That's all that's left now until this baby comes into the world. I am secretly hoping that he will be like his sisters and make a somewhat early arrival. Marie was 5 weeks early and Noelie was 2 weeks early. So 3 weeks early sounds good enough to me.
I am very glad to say that my sciatica has eased a lot. Yes, the place looks like a bombsite most of the time because I don't bend down to pick up stuff as much as I used to. I don't hoover or wash the floors anymore either as it seemed to be triggering the sciatica (good excuse isn't it!). I have to say that Mr Foodie has more than stepped up to the mark on the whole housecleaning side of things. He is now in charge of a lot of the household chores and I have to admit that he is doing quite a good job at it too. I know I tend to be a bit demanding on the hoovering and cleanliness side of things but he does it really well (well, nearly as good as I would ;-P). Things have improved so well on the sciatica front that the physio said that she wouldn't give me another appointment, but to call if things deteriorated. The exercises she has given me have helped and I think that the fact that Peanut has moved up a bit and isn't lying on my back anymore probably has helped too.
I still feel like a whale at times. I was weighed in the hospital last week and was quite happy to discover that I was under the 63 kgs mark which I find quite reasonable and puts my weight gain at around 8 kgs so far. I know there is more weight to put on especially now that we are nearing the end. I am and never have been obsessed with my weight. I believe that you can eat anything you want as long as you eat the bad stuff in moderation. I am particularly paying attention at the amount of calcium I eat at the moment. I have had a couple of toothaches lately and I know it's from Peanut sucking the calcium out of my bones and teeth (he has to find it somewhere, doesn't he!). There is even a French saying that says 'Un enfant, une dent' (a child, a tooth).
I have been a bit tired lately, but I'm not sure if it is pregnancy related or just the running around I have done in the past weeks that has me like that. We have had a few busy and somewhat stressful weeks and I am sure that hasn't helped.
We are slowly getting ready for the arrival of baby and I am already thinking ahead about packing the hospital bag. I know it's early but apart from vests and pjs for Peanut, we have pretty much got everything we need in. The only reason we haven't got vests and PJs is because we are quite picky and we want wraparound vests that we can find in France and not here. And although PJs are widely available here too, I think the French ones are cuter. So we are going to order some soon.
Last week, I went for a checkup as I mentioned and I was also delighted to find out that this time around I haven't had as many kidney infections as I did on Noelie. It was unfortunately the bane of Noelie's pregnancy (that and the fact that she was breached, of course) and I was on antibiotics for a week after any check up. This time around I had one and I didn't need antibiotics for it so I am very pleased with that. The doctor in the hospital also gave us another scan which we really weren't expecting and it looks like Peanut is already head down, which would explain some of the weird kicks I have been receiving. I am getting kicked in the ribs and punched in the hips quite a lot and he is very, very active. Sometimes my whole belly seems to move to one side. The rib kicking is quite uncomfortable and seems to happen more in the evening, when I am sitting down. The consultant also confirmed that it was still a boy.
Marie is getting really excited and is a great help around the house. She tries to send me off for naps when she gets in from school (I wonder is she doing it for my own good or is she trying to get up to something when I'm not looking). She plays with her sister as much as she can so that Noelie is not constantly looking for my attention.
Noelie seems to understand that there is a baby in my belly and if you ask her to give her baby brother a kiss, she will come over, lift up my top and give my belly a kiss. Or blow a raspberry on it... Or slap it depending on her mood. She has also taken to try and give the baby her soother. She tries and stick in through my belly button which is quite funny. Sometimes if you ask her where the baby is, she lifts up her own top and points to it laughing. She is quite a character. And I am not too worried about how she will react to a new baby in the house. I am pretty sure that she will be ok, as she is fascinated by her big sister and tries to do the same things as her. Fingers crossed!
We don't have much running around to do in the next couple of weeks so I am hoping to recharge my batteries during this time. And I know that after that things will go really fast. Marie finishes school in a couple of weeks. We are going to see the Script in concert in 3 weeks time (I didn't know I was pregnant when I booked the tickets and I am not giving them up. That's if Mr Foodie will take me because technically these are his tickets.). We have another hospital appointment in about 3 weeks too. Then my dad is coming over to pick up Marie and whisk her away to France until the end of August. She will not be here when her little brother is born but she is old enough and she is the one who made the choice. I mean if you had to chose between 5 weeks of sunshine, swimming pools, bike rides and fun with Papi & Mamie or stay at home with a newborn that does nothing but eat, sleep, poo and cry which would you chose? Yep. We would all chose the fun option.
I have decided not to go to antenatal classes this time around. It is after all my third pregnancy and I believe I have been from one extreme to the other when it comes to giving birth. I had a completely natural birth on Marie and she was a premie and I had a c-section on Noelie since she was breached (although I did go into labour spontaneously). I am not too stressed about the birth (yet) and as they say que sera, sera. Unlike in the UK, there are no talks of birth plans here. No talks of music playing, no talks of birth pools or anything like that. Check ups etc feel more like a factory than a personalized experience. You don't get to meet the same midwife during your pregnancy, and you pretty much get whoever is there on the day. When you go in a for a check up, you hand in your chart, you hand in your little container of pee and you wait to be called out to one of the 4 or 5 consulting rooms. There you meet a consultant (never the same one) who checks your blood pressure, prods your belly and if you're lucky (like I was the last time) gives you a quick scan. If you don't have any questions, you are then sent on your merry way home until next time.
The only thing I am getting worried about is making it to the hospital on time.Marie's labour was only 5 and a bit hours. On Noelie, my waters broke (I was already in the hospital getting checked out because I felt that there was something wrong and I didn't know what it was) and I was wheeled into the operating theater very quickly after that. Apparently I was having contractions but apart from a rather uncomfortable tightening of my belly, I wasn't in pain (and that was before being given any kind of anaesthetics). So I am hoping against hope that this time, I will recognize the contractions for what they are, and that this baby will hold on long enough for us to make it into the hospital! I have already warned my neighbour that I will be calling upon her as soon as I feel something especially if Mr Foodie is in work. Let's wait and see!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Food Friday: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips Cookies

I don't have any strange food cravings since I got pregnant. I have heard of women getting strange cravings like soil, coal and other rather unedible things. I remember when I was pregnant on Noelie having a sudden craving for French Onion Soup and sending Mr Foodie out on a wild goose chase on a Saturday evening past 9pm. He never found French onion soup, despite enlisting half the staff of a couple of supermarkets to look for it. By the time, he'd gotten home, the craving had passed anyway and I settled for a ham and cheese toastie.

On Marie, I used to get cravings for peanut M&Ms and my drawer in work used to be full of packets of peanut M&Ms that colleagues used to pick up anytime they went to the shop. This time again, I have developed quite a taste for anything with peanuts and chocolate (although I wouldn't really describe it as a craving as such if that makes any sense). But if I am in a shop, and pass by something peanutey and chocolatey, well I can't resist. I believe that cravings are just signs from your body telling you that you need something. I mean chocolate is good for you (in moderation of course) and so are peanuts (they are full of whatever it is). So I just give in to my ''craving'' a couple of times a week for Snickers and M&Ms. Even in what I call my 'non pregnant' state, I believe that no food should be banned (unless you're allergic, or morally opposed to something). There is no bad food for you, it just all depends on the amount and frequency you eat it. Anyway, I digress.

So, after having a bit of a general bad mood, bit of a cow episode yesterday (I blame it on the pregnancy hormones). I decided that I needed to make amends (and give in to my craving at the same time which might just lift me up a bit too). So I made Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chips Cookies for Mr Foodie.

Here is the recipe:


- 70 grs of softened butter.
- 60 grs of caster sugar.
- 60 grs of dark brown sugar.
- 1 egg.
- 125 grs of smooth peanut butter.
- 125 grs of flour.
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder.
- 100 grs of chocolate chips.

How to:

- Preheat your oven at 160 C (fan assisted) or 180C.
- Cream together the softened butter and both sugars until the mix is light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat well.
- Once the egg has been added, add the peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
- Add the sifted flour and baking powder and mix well.
- Add the chocolate chips.
- There is no need to refrigerate the dough it can be used straight away.
- Just take as little or as much as you want (depending on how big you like your cookies)
- Shape into a ball between your hands and flatten slightly.
- Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy!

Bon appétit!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A big bed for a big girl!

Noelie turned 2 last week and received a great and practical present from my mum and dad: her first big girl bed. To be truthful, they got it when they came over at the beginning of April and it has just sat in the spare bedroom since then. There were some practical issues that needed to be sorted before we could allow Noelie to have the freedom to get up out of bed by herself!
First, we needed to get safety gates. Although she is well able to go up the stairs by herself, she doesn't really attempt to do it without somebody following her. Well she tried a couple of times but quickly realized that Maman and Daddy weren't too keen on the idea. So we wanted to get safety gates for the upstairs landing, to prevent her from attempting to go down the stairs should she manage to get up out of bed and open the bedroom door without anybody noticing. As much as she has mastered the art of going up, she is far from having mastered the going down part. She tries to copy everybody else and walk down, which considering her size and the length of her legs means that she would tumble down at the first step.
Anybody would think that getting safety gates is a common enough thing to do and as such, an easy one. Not in our experience! Firstly, our landing is wide. We could find safety gates that fit but at what we considered to be too high a price (I know, safety has no price, but seriously would you pay 150 euros + for safety gates?). So we looked into the extensions on a normal safety gate option which seemed like a good idea. After visiting a couple of Mothercare shops, we discovered that we could find the safety gate we wanted, but it seemed that none of them had the extensions in stock. Eventually, we found one shop that did have them in stock. Very happy, we purchased our safety gate and the extension, and other bits and pieces we needed and made our way home. Simple, hey! Well, no. It turns out that we were given the wrong extension, it wasn't even the same brand as the gates and wouldn't fit onto them. And on top of that, had we been able to fit the extension on, we were missing quite a few inches in length. So, we went hunting for the right extension and the right length. We went to another Mothercare shop, where they had no extensions but took back the wrong one and gave us a refund. They also said that they could order them in and we could collect them but had no idea how long the process would take. We then decided to order them ourselves on the website as it really made more sense. Simples again.

Well, guess what? Not so simples. We looked on the website and for a start, although they sell white safety gates, they only sell silver and black extensions. We went for the silver ones, that were in stock and expected the delivery within 10 working days. Everything was fine, or so we thought. A week or so later, I received a phone call informing me that the 14 cm extension wasn't in stock so they'd give us a refund and we could order it again when they were back in stock (all research and checking would have to be done by ourselves, of course). Wonderful customer service, isn't it?

A couple of days later, the delivery came with one of the extensions we'd ordered but we were still a few inches short. So the safety gate was just sitting there, under the stairs, with its too short of an extension, in other words, absolutely useless.

Eventually, we decided to put the safety gate up at the bedroom door and forget about extensions and the likes. So on Saturday, Mr Foodie plucked up the courage to put the bed together (why is it that men as much as they love putting things together, don't like reading the instructions on how to do it?) and the cot went out of the room.

This didn't seem to phase her at all. As soon as the bed was up, she wanted to go for a 'dodo' (sleep). Noelie is at a stage where she loves doing the same things as her big sister and, for the past couple of weeks, insisted on getting into her sister's bed in the morning with a book and the bedside lamp on, just like her big sister.

At bedtime, she rushed up the stairs really excited about sleeping in her big girl's bed. I know that sometimes the transition from cot to bed is not necessarily and easy one, but I have to admit that we were more nervous than she was. All through the evening, we kept listening out for a thump, indicating that she'd fallen out of bed, despite the barrier. We went up a few times too, to make sure that she was OK (something that we haven't had to do in ages!). But the night went without a hitch or thump. My main worry wasn't really nighttime, it was more nap time. What if she didn't want to sleep and kept getting out of bed? But that too went without a hitch.

The second night took a little more work. We had put Noelie to bed slightly later than usual, and Marie followed closely. After a few minutes, Marie shouted from the landing that Noelie kept getting out of bed and coming into her bed, and that she'd like to sleep now please so could somebody come up and put her in her own bed and make sure that she stayed there. So I went up and settled both girls back into their respective beds. I calmly told Noelie that it was time to go asleep in her own big girl bed and so she did. And so far, there has been no nap time or bedtime escapes.

The cot is now on the landing, ready to be put into our room for the arrival of Peanut in 9 (or less) weeks time. And she hasn't as much as taken a look at it on her way to her big girl's bed. We are very lucky that she has taken to it like a duck to water and that she was ready for it. It is quite an emotional thing for parents, seeing their baby make the transition from cot to bed. She looks so small in such a big thing. But I can't help but wonder, are we, parents, making more of a big deal about it than it really is for our children?

What do you think? How was the transition from cot to bed for you?

Angelina Ballerina Pop Star Girls review

A while ago, HIT entertainment, the company behind such famous names as Barney, Bob the Builder and Thomas and Friends just to name a few, sent me the new Angelina Ballerina Pop Star Girls to review.

Noelie was in the midst of a terrible Cbeebies obsession and trying to get her to watch anything that wasn't Cbeebies related was a nightmare. Marie, being 8, thought that the DVD was for babies as she is more into the likes of Disney Channel right now. But eventually, I won the battle and managed to get them to sit down long enough to watch the 5 episodes. And something miraculous happened, they both really loved it.

For those of you who are not familiar with Angelina (or those just vaguely familiar with her, like I was), she is a little mouse whose goal in life is to become a prima ballerina. She works hard at it and, even though, sometimes, things don't go according to plan, she always learns from her mistakes. The cartoon is based on the very popular books written by Katherine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig and the little mouse was given an excellent CGI treatment for this exclusive 5 episodes DVD.

In this DVD, Angelina finds out that there is more than just classical music and ballet. She discovers hip hop, folk, rock and rediscovers the pleasure of lullabies.

I have to say that since discovering Angelina Ballerina, it has become a daily request from Noelie who loves dancing and singing to it. Marie has also taken to it (I think she identifies with Angelina as she loves to dance and she is also a big sister, just like the little mouse!).

Angelina Ballerina Pop Star Girls DVD is available from all major retailers and from at a cost of £12.99 and runs for 60 minutes.

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