Friday, 21 October 2016

When life gets in the way

I'm busy over here, juggling work, family, parenting, college work and life.  Sometimes something has to give.

I'll be back soon.  Promise.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Christmas chocolate offer in the Co-op

I spotted a great chocolate offer in my local Co-op food store at the weekend.  Ok, so it is massively early for Christmas, but this is a good offer:






So for £10 you get a Galaxy advent calendar, Maltesers and Friends selection box (213g), Mars and Friends selection box (181g), massive box of peanut M&Ms (365g) and a big bag of Celebrations (490g).  Yum!  I checked and the nearest prices I could find for these individually are:

Galaxy advent calendar: £2 (Wilko)
Celebrations: £3.50 (Tesco)
Peanut M&Ms: £3 (Tesco)
Mars and Friends selection box: £2.50
Maltesers selection box: £3


So buying these seperately costs £14, and together costs £10.  The question is, will they last until Christmas?

This deal is on at Co-op Food stores until 11th October.  It was selling fast in my local store, so get there soon if you want to buy.

Monday, 3 October 2016

The Wrapper reusable sandwich wrap and giveaway

I recently discovered The Wrapper on Twitter.  It's an absolutely fab reusable sandwich wrapper, which keeps sandwiches fresh and also unfolds into a plate.  It's used daily in our house, and has also helped to reduce the amount of cling film and single use plastic sandwich bags we throw away.


 The Wrapper is made from a thin fabric in a choice of designs, and is lined with wipe cleanable plastic.  The Wrapper literally wraps around your sandwich and the adjustable white velcro holds it all together.  There's a handy fabric label to write a name on which is ideal for schools or day out picnics, and the whole thing is slim and virtually weightless, just like a sandwich wrapper should be.


The product is made in Scotland, the majority by inmates at Kilmarnock prison.  I really love that this means it's not shipped half way around the world, and also that prison inmates get something to keep them busy, and learn a skill which will hopefully help rehabilitate them.


 Most of all though, I love that this is such a great product.  We have a Union Jack design, which our son loves, especially as we did so well in the Olympics this summer. 


 The colours are really vibrant and it looks great.  You can find out more at the company's website or follow The Wrapper on Twitter at @the_wrapper_


For one lucky reader, I'm giving away your choice of The Wrapper worth £6.99.  You could go for a Scotty Dog design, or maybe tartan or one from the kids' range - the choice is yours!  Complete one or more of the Rafflecopter options below to enter.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS AND CONDITIONS
  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be sent to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 3 October 2016 until 23:59 on 15th October 2016.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There is one prize and one winner will be chosen. The prize is one The Wrapper reusable sandwich wrapper chosen from the company's website.  There is no cash alternative. In the unlikely event that the prize becomes unavailable an alternative may be offered.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 22nd October 2016 and asked to confirm their address and choice of Wrapper within four days.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • Winner's details will be handled by Me add three for the sole purpose of sending the prize.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Me add three’s decision is final.
Competitions at ThePrizeFinder

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Gymnastics is #MySundayPhoto

Toddler girl absolutely loves gymnastics, she looks forward to her hour long pre-school class every week.

The class is lovely and relaxed, with a 10 minute warm up to songs using actions, like 'elephants have wrinkles', about 20 minutes on circuit one, 20 minutes on another circuit and a 10 minute cool down which always ends with twinkle twinkle little star.


Apart from the trampoline (show me a kid who doesn't love a trampoline!), these high bars are one of her favourite pieces of equipment.  She loves to grab the bar and swing herself back and forth.  She can also nearly reach the bar with her feet when she holds on!

I really enjoy our sessions too, and it's great to see her gaining confidence and getting better every week.  It won't be long before she moves up to the school age class!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Clearing out and growing up

I've spent the last few weeks clearing out the last of our baby stuff.  With toddler girl heading to school next year and our son nearly eight, we no longer need the buggy and travel cot we've been storing for so long.

A few bits we've given away, and a few we've sold.  Our son's old workbench that our daughter inherited ended up on eBay, and I must admit to feeling a bit sad to see it go.


Both the kids have played with it, but I think it's because it was such a big part of both their rooms and now it's not there.  The person who bought and collected it said it was for his grandson, which helped let it go.  I'm glad it's gone to a good home, and we now have a bit of space for the birthdays and Christmas coming up.

And yet, and yet, I'm not sure when our kids got so grown up.  How is it possible that days can pass by slowly, but the years have just melted away?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

New football boots are #MySundayPhoto

Our son has played football for a long time, but has only recently joined a local side.  With lots of his friends, he's started playing in matches at the weekend.

We were hanging on getting his some proper football boots until his birthday, but this weekend he was nearly not allowed to play in his trainers.  Off we went to a local sports shop and let him choose his very first pair of football boots.


As soon as we got home he had to try them out at the park, he couldn't wait to get there.  Now they've taken pride of place in his bedroom, right in his eye-line as he lies in bed and next to his beloved new football.

Is there anything better than new football boots when you're a young lad?  I'd love to know if you think there is!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Late summer sunshine in the garden

Earlier this year we had our garden completely updated and overhauled.  It was long overdue, and I've been glad all spring and summer that we had it done.  I just love it.  The addition of a pizza oven and lovely social table and chairs has meant lots of time outdoors this summer, and for the first time not at the park but at the back of our house.

The seasons have really changed this week and the weather's gone from very hot to quite chilly and autumnal today.  But the garden looks great whatever the weather.  I took this picture earlier in the week when it was sunny, but not boiling hot.  This border is on the slightly shadier side of the garden, and the plants have grown so nicely.


I love the wooden sleepers too, and the horizontal lines of the fence.  I can't wait to see what it all looks like next summer, when it's had even more time to mature.

What's your garden looking like this summer?  Leave a comment, I'd love to know.

Friday, 9 September 2016

A more grown up, updated bedroom

It's been a clearing out few weeks.  After returning from the bliss and space of Cornwall a few weeks ago, our house felt unbearably cluttered.  Rooms filled with stuff, lots of it not even ours.

Our son's room in particular didn't have enough storage and had books absolutely everywhere.  And I mean everywhere!  So an update was in order.

We ordered a massive new tall and thin bookcase for the end of his bed, the biggest Lego head we could get to store lots and lots of Lego and some lovely bucket drawer type shelves for cars, games and other general stuff.  Two shelves complete the room, which are ideal for the many football trophies he has!

It all came from Argos, and came in at  about £170.  It has really smartened the room up, given us lots more storage, and looks more grown up and just right for a nearly eight year old.


What do you think?


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Testing out HECK 97% pork sausages

Sausages are fab aren't they?  Our kids both love them, but the quality can vary so much that I'm really picky about those I give them.


I always choose good quality sausages with a very high percentage of pork in.  So we were all pleased to try out Heck's 97% pork sausages.


These sausages look great in the packet; they're a good colour and look really meaty. They're dairy and gluten free too, so ideal if there are any allergies in the family.  

I love that HECK is a small independent firm, and use fresh ingredients (fresh herbs always taste better!).  It leads to a very farmers market feel to these, but with the consistency you'd expect from a brand stocked by supermarkets.


I always grill sausages, I love the charred marks it makes on them and it allows any fat to drain off, making them as lean as possible.  As you can see from my picture these are lean sausages, but still very moist and tasty looking.  


And the verdict from us?  These taste like old-fashioned sausages, the type you had when you were younger when only pork sausages existed with no extra flavours or artisan-ness added.  These are a classic, tasty, meaty sausage that are top quality and deliver great banger-ability.

I highly recommend these with some fried onions, mash and tasty gravy, or as our kids like them, with chips and beans.  It's a classic, isn't it?!


Have you tried HECK sausages?  I'd love to know what you thought of them.

You can find out more about HECK food on its website at www.heckfood.co.uk, or follow HECK on Twitter @heckfood and Instagram @heckfooduk.


Disclaimer: HECK sent us a box of products to try, but all words and thoughts are my own.







Monday, 5 September 2016

The steady beat of school days

Today, the steady beat of school days started again.  Our son was ready to go back, and was really excited to see so many of his friends in one place again this morning.

I am ready for the routine again, I think.  It's been a relief over the summer not to have daily reading, weekly homework and busy weekends filled with parties.  But now, the routine of the days, clothes, expectations are welcome.

Work will again settle into a busy day and week filling pattern, the dates from school will fill our calendar and once again I'll look forward to swimming on Saturdays which always marks the start of the weekend. 

With everything labelled, even the pencil case, the days leading to autumn and Christmas have started again.  We're ready.




Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Teddy and Lanny the owl

Last week we visited the rather wonderful Lanhydrock National Trust property in Cornwall.  It was a lovely day, so we decided to do a garden trail with the kids.  It was lovely walking around in the beautiful weather looking for clues and answering their puzzles sheets.

At the end of the trail each of them chose a small prize.  Toddler girl opted for a yo yo, and our son went for a small cuddly owl which he called Lanny after the property.

Later that day I went in our son's bedroom and saw he'd snuggled his new owl up with his much loved old Teddy. 


I thought this was so cute, and really shows what a caring lad he is.  What do you think?

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Lunch at Boston Tea Party, Stratford upon Avon

We were recently lucky enough to win a meal for four at the Boston Tea Party restaurant.  BTP has restaurants around the UK, and our nearest is Stratford upon Avon.  We love Stratford and regularly go, so this was a lovely prize for us.


The restaurant is quite centrally located in the shopping area of Stratford, very close to Shakespeare's house.  It doesn't look very big from the outside, although the two floors inside are really spacious with lots of relaxed seating.  The ground floor is light and airy, and the top floor very much quieter.

The bar area where you order food is spacious too, and we were served quickly and very politely.


We went for lunch, and had a really good sized meals.  Husband went for the ultimate burger, and I had a veggie burger.  Both were served with fresh hot fries and coleslaw.


Our kids went for macaroni cheese and a sausage bap with chips.  They always share half each because they always want each others' meal!


All the food was fresh and served really quickly.  It was a really lovely pitstop lunch, and the BTP cafe had a very relaxed vibe, despite being quite busy.  I love the Boston Tea Party's ethos too - to be a modern indendent cafe serving good things in great spaces.  Our visit definitely mirrored this vision!

You cand find out more about Boston Tea Party on its website, or you can follow them on Twitter.

Let me know if you visit a Boston Tea Party cafe, I'd love to hear about the other restaurants.



Thursday, 18 August 2016

Holiday hamper for teacher gift

At the end of the summer term, a few parents got together and contributed some money to put towards a gift for our son's teacher.  The idea was to create a holiday hamper from all of us which we thought would be better than lots of boxes of chocolates.

I love doing things like this and was happy to volunteer to pull it all together.  I wrapped it all in celophane with a nice ribbon too, but typically I forgot to take a picture of it finished!


The contents of the holiday hamper, all themed white and blue where:
  • Blue beach towel with red detail, Wilko.  This is underneath the contents propping it all up.
  • Blue with white polka dot beach bag, White Stuff
  • Blue detail sarong, Accessorize
  • Blue detail flip flops, Accessorize
  • Nivea sun cream and after sun, Wilkos
  • Travel guide (we had sneakily found out where she was holidaying this summer!), WHSmith 
  • Plastic basket weave type stationery storage box, Wilkos

The whole thing cost about £40, but I think looks really effective.  What do you think?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Beansprout and cashew salad with HECK Super Greens veggie meatballs

Fresh zingy salads really hit the spot on warm summer evenings, and this beansprout and cashew nut salad with nutty fresh dressing is no exception. It goes perfectly with HECK's veggie Super Greens meatballs made with Quinoa, spinach, kale and ginger.

The salad is easy to make, and can be done in the 25 minutes or so the HECK Super Greens meatballs take to cook.  My salad 'recipe' makes loads, easily enough for two nights for two or three people with a lunch box thrown in for good measure too.


Ingredients

HECK Super Greens veggie meatballs, available from Waitrose


Salad

Two carrots, washed and cut into finger length strips
Half a cucumber, washed, middle scooped out and cut into finger length strips
One red pepper, washed, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
Pack of babycorn, washed and cut into two or four strips lengthways
Half a red cabbage, shredded and washed
One red chilli, de-seed if you like it mild
Good handful of coriander
Medium sized bag of fresh beansprouts

Small bag of cashew nuts

Salad dressing (I have used this combination for ages, and think it originates from Jamie Oliver)

Two tablespoons sesame oil
Two tablespoons soy sauce
One tablespoon runny honey
One lemon

Method

Heat the oven to 190 degrees C, and put the HECK Super Greens veggie meatballs in to cook for about 25 mins.  Don't forget to turn them over half way through cooking.


Prep all the salad as above, and put into a large bowl.  The cashews can go in raw, but I like to dry toast them in a frying pan for a few minutes on each side.  Watch them closely as they can catch.


Once the salad is in the bowl and nicely mixed, make the dressing simply by mixing the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Give it a really good mix or shake if it's in a sealable container.  Put everything in bowls ready for everyone to help themselves. 


Fill your plate and drizzle the dressing over everything - yum.




The HECK vegetarian Super Greens veggie meatballs really set this salad off, and provide a filling and healthy protein source.  I love that they're Vegetarian Society approved and taste great.  The kale flavour comes through in a really good way and the chickpea base with quinoa keeps them really moist.  It's a great contrast to the crunchy zingy salad.






Let me know if you make this recipe or try HECK Super Green meatballs.  What did you think?

Disclaimer: I was gifted the HECK Super Greens veggie meatballs to try, but all words and thoughts are my own.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Family first aid kit challenge with Vidisan and giveaway

Bausch and Lomb, the eyecare experts are running a family first aid kit challenge at the moment.  The challenge has been created to highlight how families are often not fully prepared for those daily healthcare family emergencies.

To take part in the challenge, I sent off a picture of our first aid kit and Bausch and Lomb provided analysis of the contents with suggestions for improvements.  As part of the challenge, Bausch and Lomb has also provided two top notch St. John Ambulance first aid kits stocke with Bausch and Lomb's Vidisan natural eye drop to relieve sore and irritated eyes.  Enter at the end of this post!

Our current first aid kit looks something like this:


Before I even sent this picture off, I realised that our first aid kit was old... very very old.  The Centimde minor antiseptic cream expired in 2009.  Eek!  Bausch and Lomb's experts gave some feedback too:

“It looks like you have a child or children in the house so try and keep a thermometer. Knowing your child’s temperature can be so useful if for example you need to call a doctor. And the plaster tape is so useful for keeping dressings in place, although if your skin is sensitive you might be better off having one the skin sensitive white light-weight tapes (e.g. Micropore). Some more plasters and dressings would be great too –for all the family.  Maybe you keep painkillers somewhere else? Hopefully not in the bathroom cabinet! However, a paediatric and adult painkillers could be useful. And remember to check the dates on all your medicines and replace them when they go out of date. Think about your eyes too. An eye pad could be useful if you were to scratch your eye in the garden. Eyes are often troubled by dryness, soreness and irritation so consider an eye drop like Vidisan which you can keep handy in your first aid kit as it’s proven to calm and soothe irritated eyes from daily causes of irritations.”


I think it's time for a bit of a first aid kit overhaul!  And we definitely need some eye drops, both husband and toddler girl suffer from hayfever at this time of year, and chlorine from swimming every weeks seems to irritate their eyes too.  Both of them can often be seen rubbing away at their eyes - often making it much worse!


Vidisan is a natural eye drop to relieve sore and irritated eyes for the whole family.  These eye drops ingredients to calm and soothe irritated eyes from the every day causes of irritation that happen to us all, young or old - wind, dust, pollution, cigarette smoke (blurgh), chlorine from swimming pools and pollen.

It's great that Vidisan can be used at any age, and it's suitable for both toddler girl and husband. We'll definitely be taking it on our next holiday, it's a great size for taking out and about and protecting from eye irritation in the pool and on the beach and will hopefully stop some of that eye rubbing.

Win your own St John Ambulance first aid kit

Here's your chance to win one of two brand new and top notch first aid kit from St John Ambulance and stocked with a bottle of Vidisan each.  The first aid kit comes in a great strong portable carrier with reflective strip and contains the essentials for any household.  It would be great to take on holiday or keep one in a house and one in a caravan.  These are brand new, but don't forget (like me) to check use by dates regularly!  You can read more about this ace first aid kit here.



a Rafflecopter giveaway
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be sent to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 15 August 2016 until 23:59 on 10th September 2016.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There are two prizes and two winners will be chosen. Each prize is a St John Ambulance first aid kit with Vidisan bottle as pictured. There is no cash alternative. In the unlikely event that the prize becomes unavailable an alternative may be offered.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 17th September 2016 and asked to confirm their delivery address within 48 hours.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • Winner's details will be handled by Me add three for the sole purpose of sending the prize.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Me add three’s decision is final.
Competitions at ThePrizeFinder

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Echinacea white swan is My Sunday Photo


My favourite flower in the garden at the moment is this lovely echinacea 'White Swan'.  The flowers evolve over the course of a few weeks to go from looking a bit like a large daisy, to the beautiful upright dart like flowers that are standing to attention.


The bees absolutely love the orange centre, and everytime I look at our collection of six or eight of these plants there are aways four or five bees buzzing around them collecting nectar.

I hope our plants will thicken up over the next year or two to form a proper large clump - I love them.

What's growing in your garden this week?

Photalife


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Win a back to school goodybag from Fruitypot

After my review of Fruitypot and Jellysqueeze, the nice Fruitypot family are giving one lucky reader the chance to win a back to school goody bag full of fruity prizes.


You can win a Jellysqueeze drawstring bag, water bottle, Fruitypot lunch box, pen, post it notes and a selection of Fruitypot and Jellysqueeze.


To enter, simply complete one or more of the Rafflecopter options below.  Competition ends on 27th August, so be quick.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS AND CONDITIONS
  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be sent to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 10 August 2016 until 23:59 on 27 August 2016.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There is one prize.  The prize is a back to school pack from Fruitypot and Jelllysqueeze which consists of a drawstring bag, water bottle, lunchbox, post it notes, pen and a selection of Fruitypot and Jellysqueeze.  There is no cash alternative. In the unlikely event that the prize becomes unavailable an alternative may be offered.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 2nd September 2016 and asked to confirm their delivery address within 48 hours.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • Winner's details will be passed to Fruitypot's PR team, so the prize can be sent.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Me add three’s decision is final.
Competitions at ThePrizeFinder

Monday, 8 August 2016

Summer fruit fun with the Fruitypot Famiy

We've been big fans of Fruitypot for a while in our house. Our kids love the fruity goodness, and I love how easy they are and how much they love them!


In my kitchen at the moment I have mandarin oranges in jelly, and peach and pear in fruit juice.  Our son loves the mandarin, and toddler girl happily munches her way through a peach and pear pot (and slurps the juice).

All single Fruitypots come with a handy spoon, so they're great for lunchboxes and picnics.  The lids are very secure but easy enough for our seven year old to remove himself, which makes them ideal for school lunchboxes.


I love that both these pots are suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs and don't contain any added sugar, colours, flavourings or preservatives.  Winner!


The best thing about these little pots of loveliness though, is that the kids love them.  Maybe other kids consider an apple or a banana an acceptable pudding after dinner, but mine will rarely let me get away with fruit alone.  Not with Fruitypot, which they'll both happily accept as a snack or dessert - no biscuits required!


The Fruitypot family also contains the handy squeezable jelly pouch, JellySqueeze.  These pouches of jelly are made with fruit juice and again contain no artificial colours, preservatives, artificial sweeteners or added sugars.  Our kids absolutely love them, and were very happy to find JellySqueeze and ice cream as a dessert option at Center Parcs recently!


Fruitypots are available in seven different variants. In fruit juice there is: pineapple, peach and pear, apple, and mandarin.  In jelly: peach, tropical and mandarin.  Fruitypot is available to buy in Asda.
Jelly Squeeze comes in strawberry and orange flavours and is available from Amazon and Ocado.  My local Farmfoods store stocks both very regularly too, and at 3 for £1 is a bargain!

You can find out more at the Fruitypot website or follow Fruitypot family on Twitter or Facebook.

Let me know what you think of Jellysqueeze and Fruitypot - which flavour would you try?

Disclaimer: I was asked by the Fruitypot family to blog my thoughts about these products and was offered a competition prize for a lucky reader as thanks.  All words and thoughts are my own.