Online bingo – what’s your guilty pleasure?

Children are hard work and we all need time to sit back and relax. If not there’s a chance we may be found rocking in a corner!

I used to take long baths, reading whole books and generally pleasing myself for granted. Of course I wouldn’t change it for the world but sometimes I’d like to indulge. If I say my guilty pleasure is a particularly raucous episode of Jeremy Kyle you may laugh. But for some a little low brow entertainment is just the ticket for mind- numbing relief. Now it’s not for everyone but if your secret passion is online bingo then take a look at The GameVillage.

Of course this is sponsored – it’s Christmas and I’m sorry!

Children’s first aid kit

I’ve found that small boys are very good at falling down, tumbling over things and banging into any objects that happen to be in their way.

So, in my house a first aid box is a must! I need something compact, easy to use and filled with all the basics. In light of this I was asked to review the Childerns’s first aid kit from Premier Healthcare and Hygiene Ltd and what a great little kit it is.FIRSTAIDKIT

It has its own zip up carrier it works perfectly for the endless camping trips and bike rides my boys take. You can pop it in the car, in a bag or leave it in a drawer at home.

The cute little plasters have been met with calls of ‘mummy I need another one’ because he was rather taken with the Sealife themes!
On a practical note it has burn cream, alcohol-free wipes and dressings, tape and even an eye bath so means I feel I have all the basics sewn up. For £4.60 it’s a great basic buy to give you piece of mind and keep the tears at bay.

Slimming World – an undercover food frenzy. Without the food.

So, I’ve joined Slimming World.

In itself a great move and let me tell you, despite epic portions of pasta and jacket potatoes the size of Scottish Fishermen’s hands – I’ve lost 6lb in my first week. To be fair my first week did follow a week in which I retained water like a camel but 6lbs none the less.

At my first meeting, sitting on my hard red plastic chair worshipping at the parapet of healthy eating I realised the truth – we were all obsessed with food. Eating it; not eating it, buying it, storing it – particularly in secret places. One woman kept Curly Wurlys under her jumpers in the chest of drawers.

Our esteemed leader is not exactly ‘trim’ but after begrudgingly handing over my cash she talked about losing 5 stones. Fair play I thought, you’re on your way. She followed up with how she’s struggled this week due to Bonfire night.

Come on people – seriously, Bonfire night? Jacket potatoes are the staple of any Slimming World aficionado so don’t blame Bonfire night! Now smuggling sausages and toffee apples under your virtuous spud might be to blame but not the night itself.

In addition to tales of food hoarding, buying, eating and dreaming we were treated to an in depth analysis of one woman’s ‘hormones’. Apparently she’d not lost any weight for a month because of them. I wanted to ask whether they’d been scurrying around at night hoovering chocolate and lard up then, in some kind of umbilical miracle, suctioned the whole lot onto her arse. I didn’t, it was my first week and what did I know.

I also discovered a whole new world of food. ‘Quark, fat free and delicious’, apparently. It sounded more like a cult-inspired mantra than something I really wanted to eat but I’ve duly bought some and it’s sitting in the fridge until I decide what to do with it. Maybe lace it with rum, cream and Nutella and make a cheesecake, no, no, no!

When a lonely man piped up that he’d lost 3.5lbs this week there was an embittered silence. Our leader said: “So what have you done this week to get such a great loss Mike?”

“I followed the plan” he announced, naively expecting this to be a logical and correct answer. No mention of hormones, Bonfire night or even the good grace to invent a sickness bug which could have led to such a shedding.

Curly Wurly woman visibly shuddered and I realised this is not the time to celebrate.

The weigh-in queue is always busy and slow because even the hint of a heavy necklace can take you into the next stone and further from that shiny half a stone sticker. Jeans are a no-no for weigh-in day and boots need to be easily removable. Only a fool would wear a coat.

We were a bunch of kindred spirits, in love with food but not our fat bums. I’m hoping for 3lbs next week – mind you I’m feeling a little hormonal and I’m going to a Christening Sunday – but they’ll understand.

Nib Nibs. From Yorkshire with love

I love a snack and if it involves cheese in any form then I’m as happy as a pig in, well, cheese. So when I was sent some Nib Nibs savoury snacks to try I was more than willing.

Arthur also loves a cheese straw and devours them with the same gusto I have – must be genetic! So we were looking forward to sampling these little cheesy Devils.

We were sent: Roasted Salt and Pepper Jumbo Peanuts, Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws, exceptional Cheddar Cheese and Cheeky Onion Straws and Exeptional Cheddar and Spicy Chilli Straws.

cheddarchilliMade in North Yorkshire, this little bites of loveliness were, quite simply delicious. They are made with ‘oodles of British produce’ and by people who take pride in their products.

In perfect resealable pots they are built to last, but I’m afraid they didn’t! I pulled off the seal of the cheddar and spicy chilli and that was it. They were cheesy without being over powering, hint of zing on the tongue and a nice crunch too.

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Arthur loved the cheddar cheese straws: ” mummy these are nicer than peanut butter sandwiches.” Praise indeed from a peanut butter afficiondo! Little beasts of cheesiness, packing a punch of taste which beats most snacks hands down.cheddarcheese

The salt and pepper peanuts were so moorish and I managed to polish them off during a epidsode of Lewis! I did share them with Arthur’s dad who gave them the thumbs up.
I’ll confess I didn’t get to try the cheese and cheesy onion straws as they found their way into Arthur’s daddy’s lunchbox. But I’m told they were crunchy tasty and the box was empty!

Delicious savoury snacks, and a great alternative to crips. Well-made, local and a hit with children and adults. Good work Nib Nibs!

Baby vs career #sponsored

Looking after babies can be a difficult job, especially when you have a career as well that you don’t want to jeopardize. What to do? You shouldn’t feel the need to have to choose between your family and your job; you need to learn to juggle. See below for some tips.
Gumtree infographic baby versus career
Gumtree infographic baby versus career is an infographic that was produced by Gumtree

The Real Halloween at Holt Hall

On a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon we heading off to Holt Hall for the Fairy Trust’s Real Halloween event.

Even in the carpark I’d already fallen in love with the magical oaks and golden carpet of Autumn leaves…and then the fun began.

An authentic Halloween experience which weaved the beauty of nature through mystical moments and good old fashioned fun. We kicked off with egg and spoon inspired conker races – daddy vs Arthur. I was Arthur’s ‘Halloween helper’ but we did go a little off piste!

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Next Arthur chose a beautiful spider and web to be painted by the lovely ladies in one of the many tents. Arthur was keen to boogie along to the bands playing on the grass – they were fantastic and we stood and watched for ages against the backdrop of the beautiful Holt Hall.

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After a pit stop at the Elf Tavern for mulled apple juice we wandered around the other stall and tents and watched the fantastically dresses witches and elves and slightly scary ogres!halloween6

Then it was into the woods for wizard training where Arthur learned about wizards and how they work their magic through a love and understanding of nature. We learned about Ravens and the powers of the Beech tree – wonderful memories apparently. We collected feathers, leaves and made our own wizard’s pouch.

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It was great fun and a wonderful way of introducing the power of nature and the importance of looking after the countryside.

The whole day culminated in a magnificent lantern parade where huge owls, bats and foxes were lit up and carried through the woods accompanied by drums and punctuated by amazing fire artists swirling through the dark.halloween8

We’d already stopped off in the lantern making tent so Arthur was all ready and he absolutely loved it.

 

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Every time we passed another lantern placed on the floor he shouted:”look mummy the fairies left another one!’.

The whole day was magical and full mystical charm. It brought home the beauty of the places we have around us and had the right level of spookiness to get me in the mood for Halloween fun.

I would highly recommend the Real Halloween as a family day out. Great parking, easy to wander round plenty of loos and even a baby changing tent. Quite a feat to make a well- organised event seem effortlessly untouched but they managed it. I’ll definitely be back.

If you’ve not heard of The Fairy Trust check out the fantastic work they do to protect our meadows and woodlands and how you can help

Reeva Steenkamp

How dare she go to the toilet at night.  Some might say she’s asked for it.

To nip out in the dead of night – surely one of the main risks would be being brutally shot four times through a locked door. Surely one of the obvious outcomes is death.

#hernameisreevasteenkamp has been trending on Twitter because, collectively, the above is not a truth we want to bear. Yet, amidst the media frenzy of a case driven by publicity and fame the undertone is, quietly, just this.

Pistorius has not been subjected to the full force of his actions – simply replacing guilt with a sense of entitlement and this is what has turned my stomach. For God’s sake, who in their right minds ploughs four bullets through a locked door without shouting out first? But she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

And yet, this action seems to have been accepted, maybe not as reasonable, as he has been found guilty of culpable homicide, but as somehow understandable.  A distasteful sense of pity for this man, rich with power and money, and a manipulation of Reeva’s actions into something somehow ‘wrong’.

Simon Jenkins wrote in The Guardian this week that Pistorius’ life had been ruined and, in a wider context, to look at prison and reform. He referred to Reeva, not once, by name, simply ‘girlfriend’. Preferring to focus on the impact this will have on him and countless other men’s lives.

Each week two women die in the UK as a result of domestic violence.

I suspect after his short and expertly planned prison stay, Pistorius will write a book and become an after dinner speaker – maybe he’ll even return to the track. Let’s not pretend he’ll be treated the same as other prisoners.

Reform can only happen when the true extent of your actions are faced, head on in all their bloody brutal truth. Without reform we are left with punishment and why on earth should he escape that.

#hernameisreevasteenkamp

Win a magical BeWILDerwood book bundle

As the nights draw in there’s nothing quite like curling up with your little people and losing yourselves in a magical world of make believe.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Bewilderwood. How the place just makes me feel happy and every time we’ve been Arthur has had an amazing time. The place is filled with wonder and adventure and this is no coincidence. Born out of the books by Tom Blofeld, Bewilderwood is more than a place of fun and adventure. It’s a magical haven of Boggles and Twiggles and more adventure than you can shake a den-making stick at.

bookbewilder1  bookbewilder2  bookbewilder3

You could spend winter afternoons and rainy Sunday’s reading all about Boggles and Twiggles with this fantastic book bundle. With beautiful illustrations and stories to capture your heart – I’m willing to bet they will become a family favourite.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s happening at Bewilderwood this Halloween half term lantern-parade-slide1

The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade
Thursday 23rd October – Sunday 2nd November
October half term is one of the most exciting times of the year at
BeWILDerwood, a truly visual and sensory celebration of the beauty and
mystery of the BeWILDerwood story. A full day experience the whole
family can enjoy, The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade is even bigger
and even better this year.
Enjoy daily performances of the BeWILDerbats story, stay snug and warm
by the fires and spend quality time creating luminous lanterns in the
‘Big Hat’. As dusk settles over the wood prepare to experience the park in a
spectacular new light. Join together at the bonfire and begin the
Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade, weaving majestically through the
light and laser-lit woodland, dropping in to sneak a peek at familiar
BeWILDerwood characters in their storybook setting.
Don’t forget to visit the fantastic new Sky Maze set high in the
treetop canopy. Stretching nearly half a kilometre and reaching over 8
metres in height, the newest addition to the park takes adventure and
playtime to magnificent new heights. Visit us for October half term
and spend endless hours with family and friends, climbing and sliding,
exploring and building, in a world with more than a little sprinkling
of magic.
For further information, opening times and prices visit bewilderwood.co.uk

 

Apple and blackberry scone cake

I’ve just made the most delicious apple and blackberry scone cake. I’m very excited as not only was it easy but it is absolutely blooming delish!

I can’t take the credit for the recipe unfortunately – it comes courtesy of Prima’s recipe booklet from September. But clearly I sprinkled a little of my own magic in there too.

blackberries

300g self raising flour sieved
150g butter ( I used stork and it worked a treat)
50g light brown granulated sugar
2 beaten eggs
4fl oz milk
1 apple thinly sliced
Zest of an orange.
Blackberries – sorry can’t remember the amount but a good handful, think it was about 300g and some for the top.

Mix flour and fat until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add sugar, beaten eggs, zest and milk and gentle stir until just mixed. I used a metal spoon as I think it helps.

Put half in a greased cake tin then sprinkle most of the blackberries on top. Add the rest of the cake mixture on top. Then arrange the sliced apple annd the rest of the blackberries.

Bake at 180  for about 50 mins but I did keep an eye for the last ten minutes. Should be golden round the edges, well risen but may still have a bit of softness because of the fruit. Sprinkle with extra sugar if you want, I didn’t and didn’t really miss it.

Leave to cool then chow down! Rather gorgeous with a blob of creme fraich. Yum tiddly yum yum!

BelVita Breakfast Breakthroughs!

We are not good at mornings in our house. On a work and nursery morning the air is filled with great big buckets of panic as I run round like a wild banshee making sure teeth have been cleaned and that I don’t forget my lap top.It goes with out saying that breakfast is always quick and often spilled!

Usually it’s porridge or Shredded Wheat with fruit and yoghurt for Arthur and well, nothing but strong coffee for me. So when we were asked to review the new BelVita Breakfast biscuits and take part in the #Morningwin campaign,it seemed like a great chance to shave a few minutes of mornings and allow me to have breakfast too!

So here’s how BelVita saved breakfast time:

On Monday I didn’t get out of bed until 7.45 – we leave about ten past eight. So breakfast was the rather delicious apricot flavour with a banana for Arthur and a travel cup of molten strong coffee for me.

Tuesday Arthur had porridge and I bunged the chocolate chip flavour in my bag. At 10am my colleague made me a cuppa and I found the little packet of perfectly wrapped heaven in my bag!
They tasted indulgent and naughty but still have whole grains and slow release carbs to keep me going.

Fast forward to Friday and Arthur had a massive paddy before our play date at the park. No time for breakfast for either of us, but while running round like a mad child in the park he managed to polish off a packet of the hazelnut biscuits. To be fair I did as well and I was just sitting on the bench gossiping! PENDAISIES2

My favourite were definitely the apricot ones, they tasted real and had proper apricot bits in. I also love the fact they come in handy three biscuit packets so you don’t over do it and know exactly what you’re having. As, while they are a good slow release biscuit, they are still biscuits so I didn’t want to go crazy!

I also used the choc chip ones as ‘treats for Arthur, he loved them and they were a healthier alternative to a normal biscuit. All in all, great flavours and really helpful when you’re not exactly an early riser!

* This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK.