Monday, 15 December 2014

Making a gift for Christmas

MadDad doesn't always have a lot of spare time.  He works really hard and also spends time with the boys, but this year inspired by Worx he spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday making the boys a pair of stilts.



He was sent a selection of power tools and then went out and bought some wood and rope and had some real fun for a couple of hours.

He was so impressed with the tools, that he went out and bought the drill himself and then a mini circular saw for his Dad for Christmas (Hope you are not reading this FIL)!

The MiniMads were delighted with their stilts (of sorts) and even took them round their friends, who now want MadDad to make them some!

Although MadDad is a mild mannered accountant by day he really enjoys tinkering when he isn't under pressure and these tools really made it a pleasure for him.

Why not have a look at making something yourself, there are some great how to videos.




 Disclosure: We were sent  a drill drivermini circular saw and sonicrafter to make the boys some stilts, we bought the materials and drill ourselves. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Our recipe for the perfect family holiday

Holidays, they are so different now we have kids to what they were like before we had kids! But as the boys are getting older I know that we would love to put a Mark Warner holiday to the test, especially as my boys are so active. 

Ingredients

One hard-working office professional Dad
One ever working Mum
One early rising sports man nine year old over achiever
One night-owl book loving eight year old

Method

Often we hope for a one pot cooking method where we could just throw all the ingredients and their clothing in to a plane and come out the other end perfectly cooked, but actually finding a holiday that suits us all is hard.

MadDad - hates sitting by a pool with a book, which I LOVE!
Maxi would spend all day every day either in or around water and is ultra competitive, even getting in your swimming costume first is a "thing"
Mini finds switching off at the end of the evening hard, but he likes to try to keep up with his brother.
Me - Well I like not having to do all the cooking, cleaning, organising and everything else that I am responsible for at home.  

EXPERIENCES BRING MORE HAPPINESS THAN THINGS

Since becoming a family we have all learned that we get longer lasting happiness by experiencing new things as a family and spending quality time together.  We love to challenge each other and have fun.  The boys are adventurous eaters and prefer to eat off the adult menu than go anywhere near a chicken nugget!


Just look at our before and after analysis

Before Children              With Children
LocationSouth AfricaHenley on Thames
TransportAirplaneCar with car seats and sick bags
LuggageA case and small bagA car stuffed full to the gills
AccommodationHotelTent
BreakfastLeisurely and taken at hotelCooked on a BBQ at 7am
Must havesGood books and sun creamBaby wipes, games, sun cream and clean loos
LunchPeople watching in a cafĂ©Sandwiches or MacDonald’s
DinnerCandlelit evening meal with husband accompanied with wineCooked on a camping stove and washed in a communal sink accompanied with lots of wine for the adults
Typical mealSeafood with sublime winesSausages and Beans
RelaxationSpa treatment or swimming in the poolWhat!
ShoppingMarkets and local delicatessensWith children, no way just the supermarket
Most eventful happeningBring photographed with baby white Bengal tigersThe children actually sleeping though the night
Best part of the holidayBeing bought diamond earrings by MadDadThe open air and relaxed time with the family
Worst part of the holidayBeing seasick on the boat to Robben islandChild being sick all over car seat
Best day tripA visit to the wine reagionA visit to Legoland

Friday, 12 December 2014

Be rewarded whilst shopping online

I want to talk to you today about a new way to be rewarded whilst shopping online with PaidShop.com. I touched on PaidShop.com on my How to have a Thrifty Christmas post, but it deserves a post in its own right.



What is PaidShop? 

PaidShop.com isn't just a cashback site, it is much more than that.  The website features flash sales, allows you to check the latest sale items with all major UK retailers and search for voucher codes for favourite shops. 

So you can use PaidShop.com to search for voucher codes to save you money on your purchase, but you can ALSO get cashback on your purchase. 

Paidshop.com actually rewards you on a number of levels:

  1. Cashback on your purchases (you get 100% of the commission)
  2. Voucher codes saving you money on your purchases
  3. Price comparison tool to help you chose the best value option
  4. Flash Sales
  5. Rewarded for life for introductions and referrals – for every friend that joins up, you earn 5% of their cash back without even lifting a finger. PaidShop.com is unique in this as it has no expiry date which means you’ll keep earning additional cash back as long as you and your friends continue using the site

It seems too good to be true, but the fact is PaidShop.com is free, so you can try PaidShop.com out for nothing and see if it works for you.

One thing I try to do is make my money work smarter and PaidShop.com is one of those ways.  It adds very little time on to a shopping experience and if there is any way I can save money, coupled by being rewarded by making essential purchases that I would buy regardless, well that is a good thing to me. 


What ways do you make your money work smarter? 


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Do you have a mad clean before Christmas


There is something about Christmas coming that makes me want to clean up the house.  It might be all the twinkly lights, but I think that it really is something to do with people coming to visit that shames me in to it! 

Incase you get that cleaning bug too then why not take a look at my posts on cleaning your oven without chemicals, cleaning your washing machine and cleaning your tumble dryer



Thanks to Ecomovers for the fab infographic 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Flash-Price - Sign up and get a FREE Hack T Shirt with an RRP of £29.99 (whilst stocks last)

One of my bugbears as a parent is clothing.  I want my boys to be boys, not minimen and also I don't want them to dress in the same things that other people do.  I also NEED their clothes to last. 
We have tried supermarket clothes and other than uniform I am going to admit that I don't really rate any of it.  In fact we tend to shop in the sales for premium clothing, but that often lasts through both the boys and then my BF's three younger boys.  I love seeing her three year old in clothes that have been worn by five (yes FIVE other boys) and they still look ace.
So, when I was informed about a new site selling premium children’s clothes at bargain prices, I was really interested.
Flash-Price are the new kids on the block and they are in their infancy, currently 9only stocking boys and men, but there are plans to stock a lot more in the future.
So to get people interested and keep them informed if you sign up for the Flash/Price Newsletter there is free Hack T Shirt with an RRP of £29.99 (whilst stocks last) as an incentive. 
Another fab offer they have at the moment is buy a pair of Urban Logik boots and get a free Beck and Hersey backpack (RRP £19.99).
Becky from Family Budgeting as reviewed the Urban Logik boots and Beck and Hersey backpack and they seen to be great value and for me value is everything.
There is also free postage in the UK for the rest of the year

Monday, 1 December 2014

Snow Dough recipe to help Frazer Bear

The boys were challenged by House of Fraser to find the perfect ending for their Frazer Bear's story.  The original nide was that they would draw the end, but alas my boys are eight and nine and had other ideas!



So this is their ending to this story and I can assure you, no bears were harmed! 

Frazer Bear put Baby Bear in the fridge................................................


He then decided to put Baby Bear in the Freezer as the fridge only was 5 degrees and not cold enough to make snow


So Frazer Bear decided to make his own snow to show Baby Bear.........


It was so much like snow you could even make snow balls with it.............



So if you want to make some snow, we decided to share the ingredients with you.  You can even make it cold by putting in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Recipe to make your own Snow Dough

  • 2 cups corn flour 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup baby oil

This is so simple to do.  The boys added the ingredients in a large bowl and mixed them together and then tickled them (like rubing in flour and butter).  The snow is ready when it is crumbly but also crunches together in your hands like real snow and your can make snowballs with it.
Note: If you are making this for a child that will pop it in their mouth then exchange the baby oil for a light coloured food oil such as grapeseed oil.
The boys have been playing with our Snow Dough for the last week and have really loved it.  It is an amazing texture and Mini decided to build an igloo and that it was Hoth
It would make an amazing base for a Frozen World for playing in and you could even add iridescent glitter. 
I am sure that this dough will keep for at least a month or so when made with Baby oil, so we will be using any of the remains to make Father Christmas footprints in on Christmas Eve.
Disclosure: House of Fraser  sent the boys some toys for Christmas in exchange for this blog post.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Lets keep warm this winter

Can you believe that ti is winter - I can not.  It is so mild out there at the moment, but it will come the colder days and frozen nights.   So I have decided to take part in the Duette Blind competition as my home could seriously do with some new blinds.

One the the things that I do as soon as it starts to get dark is close all the blinds and curtains in the house to keep the cold out and make sure we keep the warm in.

Follow Jen Walshaw's board Keeping warm this winter on Pinterest.

I have put together a Pinterest board with ways that are not only great for keeping a home warm this winter, but also look gorgeous too.

A big one for us as a family is to make sure that we are appropriately dressed at home, for me this means PJ's, dressing gowns and slouchy socks and slippers. If the boys are walking round in less than that and I have the heating on then it means we have too warm a house!

My other easy to implement tips are:

Line your curtains - if you are not handy with a sewing machine then use fleece blankets - look at how Elaine at mortgage free in three manages with fleece and shower curtain rings - totally ingenious.

Flannel bedding (or brushed cotton) I adore the feel of brushed cotton and so do the boys, so in addition to winter weight duvets we also have flannelette sheets and duvet covers for all the beds.

Hot water bottles - these are ace for making the bed warm and cosy to get in to.  If you are worried about little ones and hot water bottles then use heat packs filled with lavender, cherry stones or wheat.

Wear vests and make your kids wear them.  Layers are key for keeping warm.



 More tips for preparing your home for winter.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cleanliness is Next To Stylishness When It Comes to Blinds and Drapes

Walk around your house and look at the surfaces. Do you see dust on them? What about the drapes and curtains? You will not see dust on them, though you may notice cat or dog fur. If you beat the fabric, though, you will see plenty of dust puff into the air, unless you have washed it recently. What about your other window treatments? Whether or not you notice, they have lots of dust clinging to them, too. Usually it is quite easy to see the dust that cakes up on your blinds.



Part of maintaining a stylish or fashionable house is to also make sure that it is relatively clean. Imagine your embarrassment upon hearing a guest remark about the dust billowing from a curtain that she bumped. Or your discomfort after seeing a guest discreetly brush his finger through the dust buildup on some blinds. Even if nobody comments on the dust or dirt buildup on your window treatments, it can still be embarrassing when you notice it yourself during a visit from friends.

If you enjoy entertaining, but do not have the budget to hire a housekeeper, you will need to perform the cleaning yourself. Curtains and drapes can be challenging. The first hurdle is to get them off of the fixtures to which they are fastened. If your curtains are on a rod, this is pretty simple. If your drapes are held with up with drapery hook pins, you must carefully remove them. The next step is to decide how to clean them. One option is to take them to a dry cleaner, who will use proper cleaning techniques and return them pressed and folded and ready for hanging. This can be especially helpful if the drapes are pleated, but can also be expensive. If you choose to wash your curtains yourself, you will need to know how to iron them afterwards. If you try to hang a curtain made of a light material without ironing it, you will be disappointed by its appearance after hanging. If you try to iron pleated drapes on your own, you could be in for some frustration.

If you cover your windows with blinds, you will find that cleaning is easy if you do it weekly. In the space of one week, the buildup of dust is minor. You can use a feather duster to get between each open slat. You can also close the slats and run your vacuum cleaner wand over them. If you notice corners that remain dusty, put an old sock or glove over your hand and wipe the dust that way.



If your blinds are not wood, you can wash them if it has been a while since the last cleaning. Warm soapy water and a sponge work well. If the blinds are caked with dirt in some spots, you will need to engage in some heavy duty washing. This works best if you close and detach the blinds, then hang them in your shower from the shower rod inside of the shower curtain. Use a soft scrub brush, soap and some warm water from the shower and scrub each side down well. After rinsing, hang them outside to dry or towel dry them.

If your blinds are wood, you can use a feather duster to clean them, but do not use water. Also effective is a dryer sheet because it eliminates the static that holds the dust. Run the dryer sheet across each slat. Another option is to use a dab of liquid fabric softener on a soft brush, running it across the slats.

Clean window coverings are important to maintaining a house suitable for entertaining. Cleanliness is critical for maintaining style.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Banking with benefits

Do you open your post? Did you know that 1 million UK households do not open their bills. We have been through a period of this after I was very ill when money was non existent and I was too scared to open the envelopes as I did not know how I was going to be able to pay them.  


Thankfully we are in a much better place now and I make every effort to save as much money as I can and make my money work smarter.

One of the ways to do this is with smart current account like the 123 Current Account from Santander, which gives you cash back on bills that you pay via it.


You pay £2 a month for the account, but you it pays you cashback on bills. I worked out that annually I would get £59 back, which would be £35 profit after paying for the account.

This is making my money work smarter not harder.

Other ways to make your money work smarter include:


How do you make your money work smarter?




Sunday, 23 November 2014

20 Kids christmas gift alternatives to toys

If your house is anything like mine then your kids certainly do not need any more toys.  In fact they play with less than 10% of the toys they have and I am beginning to believe that less is more where toys are concerned.

So this year we are really cutting back on the toys front and I have been giving people ideas on alternatives that they can give to the boys rather than toys this christmas



Subscriptions:

Magazine subscriptions
Subscriptions to museums, local attractions, petting zoo, soft play, 
Money to books each month

Food Gifts

Cooking lessons
Ingredients to cook a specific meal
Sweet treats
Homemade cookies
A Jar of ingredients
Cookery book

Investments

Place money directly into a child's current account
Pay in to an investment account

Tools:

A pocket knife
Art supplies
Gardening stuff and tools
Binoculars
Magnifying glass
Microscope

Kits

Science kits, my boys love crystal making kids, weather kits
Sewing kits
Craft Kits
Art Kits

This year the boys have one large gift each and then we are providing them with an experience for each month of the year.  Keep an eye on Mum in the Mad House to find out more.




Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas Shopping with Tesco Clubcard Boost and Win

One of the things I love about Tesco is the clubcard points and if you are a regular collector then you will know that  Clubcard Boost is currently underway. For those not in the know, this means you can double up your Clubcard vouchers to make them go further and get more for your money

Clubcard Boost

The following departments are taking part in ClubCard Boost this year:

hudl2 Tablets and hudl Accessories
Toys and Bikes
Christmas trees, Lights and Decorations
Gaming
Health and Beauty Gift Sets
Phones and Accessories
Electricals
Cook, Dine and Home
Opticians
Clothing

With more departments across the store involved this year it's very easy to use your Clubcard vouchers to get that Christmas shopping off to a great start.

Tesco have challenged me to buy for my neighbour using ClubCard Boost.

Well my neighbour is my best friend and has four boys and is the thriftiest, kindest person I know.

She is the sort of person that doesn't do gifts for herself and would rather you bought for the kids.

But she is a real fitness fanatic, well with four boys from three to ten you would have to be wouldn't you!



FitBug Orb - £49.99 or less than £25 with boost

She would love this.  It  can track your steps, calories burned, distance walked  and sleep patterns then it connects to smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth® Smart technology


UP™ by Jawbone - £64.00 or £32 with Boost

Knowing G, she would prefer the UP™ by Jawbone as it is less pretentious and you do not have to even take it off for showing. This is a wristband that tracks how you sleep, move and eat, combined with an app that displays the data. Flexible, strong and water-resistant so you don't have to take it off while you shower,it is designed for constant, comfortable wear through the day and night.



The other thing that G loves is Christmas and I know she would adore this light up bear for the garden.  He is £34 or £16 using Clubcard boost.  Everyone has dear where we are, so this would really stand out!

I've teamed up with Tesco to give one of my readers the chance for a Clubcard Boost of their very own! One lucky winner will receive a nice little new year bonus of 500 Clubcard Points.

To enter the giveaway simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Win 500 Clubcard Boost

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to have a thrifty Christmas

A thrifty Christmas doesn't have to mean an austere Christmas.  In fact being thrifty and frugal during the festive season can actually make for a more meaningful Christmas for everyone involved.

How to have a Thrifty Christmas


Plan

Don't worry you have not left it to late to have Christmas on a budget.  You can accomplish this if you start planning now.

Second hand is not second best

By not buying new you can save a lot of money.  Think about what gifts you can purchase preloved and start looking for them now.  Ebay, local facebook pages, charity shops and friends can be great sources for quality second hand gifts.

Look for the best deals

Once you have a list of what you need to buy, then make sure you look for the best deal available and before you spend any money check out a cashback site such as Paidshop.com. Well actually Paidshop.com is more than a cashback site, it features flash sales, allows you to check the latest sale items with all major UK retailers, search for voucher codes for favourite shops and of course earn cashback.  In fact I signed up myself and love it.  You can sign up using my referral code here (don't worry it is free to sign up and you can save money)! 

What can you make

Homemade gifts are a wonderful way to save money and also are really well received.  I know I would rather receive something that thought has gone in to rather than just something from a shop.

Do not over shop

We do not purchase for adults such as my brother and he doesn't for us.  We made this decision when we hit adulthood,  I don't need a gift from him to know that I am loved. This also applies for food.  Menu plan and only buy what you know you will eat.

Set realistic expectations

If your kids do not expect hundreds of pounds worth of gifts then having a thrifty Christmas is much simpler.  We have christmas list rules in our home and my boys understand this and have learned not to expect more.


Give the gift of experiences

Experiences bring more happiness than things.  So why not give the gift of a number of experiences throughout the year, spreading the cost.  Such as a trip to the cinema, rock climbing or a family meal out.



Friday, 31 October 2014

Spooky Ghost Cake Pops

I love baking, but find cake pops quite daunting.  Dr Oaker sent us some ingredients to try their Spooky Ghost Cake Pops and over the weekend we will be giving them a try.




Preparation time: 2 hours plus cooling and chilling
Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 10 minutes to melt 2 lots of chocolate

Ingredients:

For the cake balls:

·  120g Dr. Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate
·  150g soft unsalted butter at room temp
·  200g Light Muscovado Sugar
·  3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
·  2 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract
·  125g Plain Flour

For the cake pops:

·  2 X 100g bags of Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks & coating the cake pops
·  Teaspoon of vegetable oil

To decorate the ghosts:

·  1 x  pack of Dr. Oetker White Regal Ice
·  Icing sugar for rolling out
·  Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops
·  Dr. Oetker Jet Black Gel Food Colour

Method:

1.     Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Grease and line an 18cm (7 inch) square cake tin
2.     To make the fudge brownie mix melt the extra dark chocolate in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until melted,  or in a heat proof bowl on a gentle heat over a bain marie. Leave to cool.
3.     Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand beater for approx. 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. If you haven’t got an electric mixer you can do this with a wooden spoon in a bowl .
4.     TIP: if you are in a rush or the butter is quite cold, the addition of a couple of tablespoons of boiling water at this stage, beaten on slow until mixed will speed up this process.
5.     Add your eggs on a slow speed about a third at a time, mixing until combined.
6.     Add your cooled chocolate stirring continuously.  Add the vanilla Extract and stir. On slow speed mix in the flour until just combined. Do not over beat. Alternatively fold in by hand.
7.     Pour the mix into your cake tin and bake for approx 40 mins. Check it with a sharp knife or metal skewer. You want this to be slightly under baked, so the knife should come out pasty, with a nice paste on the knife.
8.     Leave to cool, then turn out into a bowl and crumble with your hands to fine fudgy crumb.
9.     To make the cake balls, take a handful of fudge cake mix and squeeze together tightly - you are aiming for little balls about the size of a large walnut, approx. 30g each. If the mixture is dry, the addition of a little chocolate or vanilla butter cream will help the mixture stick
10.  Once you have all of your balls ready, dip the end of your stick into the melted chocolate chips  and push the stick into each ball, about half way in. Hold the ball to stop it splitting open when the stick goes in
11.  Once all the cake pops are ready, refrigerate them for 1-2 hours before dipping them, or pop into the freezer for 30 mins, so the balls are firm enough to hold when dipping in the coating
12.  To coat the cake pops melt Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks White Chocolate on low power in a microwave bowl until just melted -  stirring occasionally or over a bain marie on a gentle heat
13.  Plunge each cake pop into the chocolate coating until completely covered. Tap the cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess. Once all are covered, dip each cake pop again
14.  To decorate the ghosts roll out half the white regal icing into a large rectangle using plenty of icing sugar and a large plastic rolling pin. Roll fairly thinly – 2 to 3mm thick. Squeeze a little Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing onto the tops of the cake pops or brush with some melted white chocolate, to aid sticking of the sugar paste
15.  Using a cake cutter or small bowl, cut out circles of regal icing and place on each of the pops, smoothing down with your fingers to create the white sheet effect. Allow a little wavy movement by using your fingers to create smooth



If like me you find cake pops a little daunting, then there is a really great video tutorial here


Disclosure: We were sent some ingredients to make our own cake pops and I will share our results with you.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Making Jelly Monsters

How often do you tell your kids that they can not play with their food.  Well this weekend we made an exception and had a blast making Jelly (jello) Monsters with a selection of Jellies from Hartley's




Firstly we made the jelly's.  This is great fun for kids.  They cut up the blocks of jelly using scissors, measure the boiling water, mixed, added the cold water, poured into moulds and then took them outside to set.  In fact my boys at nine and wight did this all without me!

Then I let the lost with the Jelly, some icing and some sweets and they had THE best time making Jelly Monsters.


Even better, once they had finished making them they enjoyed eating them and then kept telling me they had monsters in their tummy.

So why not take a leaf out of our book and play with your food this coming weekend.

Friday, 10 October 2014

My Top money saving tips in the Bathroom

I am going to admit now that we don't buy inexpensive bathroom products due to two reasons, one the boys have both suffered with eczema and two I have an issue with SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) making me itch.



So it is important for me to make sure that our products last and I am going to admit that I learned this tip from Lizzie at Me and my shadow and it has transformed how much we spend on products and how long they last.

Did you know that in the UK we spend around £14 million on toiletries and I am going to admit again that I possibly spend a large proportion of that, so anyway to save money is good to me!

So what is this phenomenal tip that I received?

Just use less........................



Yes, really just use less and this is more important with products that contain no parabens or SLS as these are often the foaming agent,

We are programmed to only think that toiletries, especially soaps and shampoos are only doing their job is they are foaming and that we must use enough to get foam and lots of foam at that.

It works, it really does, just read the amount on the bottle and use that.  A 50p amount of shampoo is more than enough for my thick shoulder length hair.

It is amazing.  I have been making sure that the boys just use a pea sized amount of toothpaste and so are we.  It is now lasting us twice a long.  So that is a 50% saving by doing one thing.

I also make sure that we use all of the product too, which often means cutting the top of the bottle and we often get at least another three of four applications that way.

The other biggest spend for us in the bathroom is loo roll.  Kids always use far too much, it just comes off the roll to easily.  So I squash the roll making it less circular and less easy for the toilet paper to just come off the roll!

My hope is with all the savings we are making we can afford a new bathroom. I have been browsing bathroom suites for ages as we don't have a shower in the family bathroom and the biggest way to save water is to have showers and not baths and with two boys who play a lot of sport this would be a big saving for us.

 in conjunction with Bella Bathrooms


Monday, 29 September 2014

Meal plan w/c 29./09/14

I am trying to get back in to menu planning after a week of illness, so here is this week's menu plan.  Only till Thursday as we are off to London on Friday afternoon for some family fun.



Monday 

Chicken soup with dumplings (using leftover roast chicken)

Tuesday

Homemade fish, chips and mushy peas

Wednesday

Homemade pizza and garlic bread

Thursday

Baked potatoes with beans and cheese

What is on your plan for this week?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Win a goody bag of Rebel Kitchen Mylks delivered to your door.

Jump on the latest coconut “mylk” trend with this fantastic competition to win a selection of Rebel Kitchen’s nourishing, delicious and naturally dairy free drinks!




Rebel Kitchen is on a mission to make tasty, nourishing snacks available to everyone, everyday, everywhere. The range launched earlier this year and includes three delicious varieties of grown-up drinks (Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea and Chai) and three varieties of kids’ drinks (Choco, Banana and Orange Choc). All of Rebel Kitchen’s drinks are made with a base of coconut milk blended with pure spring water from Somerset. They are free from dairy, lactose and refined sugar and contain absolutely no additives, no preservatives and so, no worries!




Tempted? Enter the giveaway to win a goody bag of Rebel Kitchen Mylks delivered to your door.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Talking point - Kids and Inappropriate Selfies

Recent research by My Voucher Codes has shown that 38% of 18-24 year olds have sent an inappropriate selfie.  

Compare this to the fact that 87% of the parents asked who said that they didn't think this is something their child would do.

The sort of selfies my boys take! 


So why the disparity?

What worried me about these statistics as a Mum was that this was kids who had SENT an inappropriate selfie, not taken one or had one on their phone.  When I was growing up photographs were something that were taken on film and sent away to be processed, so there was no way you would take an inappropriate picture!  The only alternative was a polaroid camera and the film was prohibitively expensive. 

Then there was also the fact that it wasn't so easy to share pictures when I was younger, there was no facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and once the negative and image was destroyed it was gone forever.  Nothing that goes on the internet ever disappears.

How I am dealing with this as a Mum?

My boys are eight and nine and as of yet do not have mobile phones, but I feel that it is important top have an open line of communication when it comes to online safety and appropriateness. 

They already know that anything that goes on the Internet is permanent and there is no way to take anything back.  

As my work is online, I tell them that I never share anything online I wouldn't let people see, so I would never pop an image on facebook if we wouldn't be happy having it in a photo frame.

I hope by talking about this now, I prepare them for a time when they do have phones and access to online technology.

How would you handle it?


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The MiniMads perfect Hotel Kids Pack

We have stayed at a QHotel before and one of the things the boys loved was the kids packs they received on arrival.  They are currently looking for family ambassador and this is something we would love to be.



So I asked the boys how could the pack they received be better?

This is there thoughts:


  1. Backpack or gym sack style bag would be great.  You could have the hotel brand on it, perfect for keeping all the pack stuff in and also great for our stuff when traveling.
  2. Magazine. We love magazines and our favorite is the free LEGO one.  It comes for three different age groups and you could have a preschool, Junior and kids.  That way it would have age appropriate reading, activities, puzzles and colouring.
  3. Multicoloured Pencil - rather than crayons, which are hard to use for puzzles, crosswords and such.  A pencil that you change the lead in to colour with. 
  4. Pack or cards - We love cards, they could have hotel pictures on the rear.  Great for simple games such as snap or poker for teens  Or if you want to be really clever you could have Q Hotel top trump cards!
  5. Postcard and Stamp - We loved that our pack had postcards in, but mummy never has a stamp.  it would be great to be able to fill your postcard out and leave it with the receptionist to be posted. 
  6. Bath Duck - Rather than have this in the pack, they could be hidden in the room like a treasure hunt for us to find!
  7. Q Hotel Passport - A kids passport which you get stamped at the hotels you visit.  It would also be great if there was a question or a fact that you had to find about each location too. 
  8. Sports bottle/Cup - We are always thirsty and worry about spilling our water in hotels.  A leak proof cup would be a great idea 

As a parent having age appropriate packs makes such a difference.  If I had a toddler then colouring and crayons would be more appropriate, but for my boys at eight and nine these would be a waste of money. 

I also asked the boys why we would make good ambassadors
We love visiting new places and having new experiences.  We have learned that we would rather have an experience than a new toy.  
If Mummy and Daddy could take us to all of the QHotels we would tell people the best places close by for Kids by Kids. 
As parents, we love showing the boys around the wonderful county we call home.  We are blessed in the UK to have such a wonderful range of places to visit and being ambassadors would mean we could really experience the UK.  Another part of me would love to do this with the boys in a way to wean them from their reliance on technology and screen time.  I want to go back to basics and enjoy family fun without screens.  I want to switch off and enjoy life.   

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Blackpool is brilliant

Over the summer holidays me and the boys visited Blackpool.  It was my first visit in 20 years and the boys first visit.  



We had a fantastic time., in fact it blew us away and the boys are desperate to go back.  I had such preconceived ideas about what Blackpool was like and it has come a long way, in fact you could say #BlackpoolsBack



But don't just take mine and the boys word for it, take a look at 'The Kids Resort Guide', an interactive guide, written by Blackpool's biggest critics... the kids.  It shows Blackpool's top attractions through the eyes of a child. 

Why not take a look at what my boys though of Blackpool and you will see that it is ace and we had a super time and really want to visit now the illuminations are in place. 

Have you recently been anywhere that blew away your preconceived ideas? 




Thursday, 4 September 2014

The days are short but the years are long

My boys went back to school this week and I can not believe that they are in Year 4 and Year 5.  It only seems like yesterday that we were bringing each one of them home from the hospital in their car seats.




I often wish there was a manual for parenting, that there was a book I could look at or better still I could do a google search and get the answer I am looking for.  Another thing that I really wish someone would invent is a way to bottle up the memories and slow time.

I look at those boys now, who seem to be getting bigger by the moment and are currently eating for England and are bottomless and I still remember the fear and concern I had at them being able to carry their tray and cut up their food at school lunch.  I have never been concerned about learning in a typical sense, more their manners and their pastoral care.




This year Maxi is a lunchtime buddy and for 15 minutes each lunchtime he helps the reception class with their meals, carrying their tray and cutting up their food.  This makes me smile and also just reminds me of time passing.




I am really fortunate that I work from home and have since my boys were born, so I have been able to spend this time with them and some days I resent the fact that I have to send them to school, but I get them when they come home and weekends and I have learned to really grab the small stuff that makes our time together precious.

Fairy want to remind parents to make the most of their time with children by giving them an extra soft cuddle today and embracing the #PowerofSoft 




Just take a look at this video and I guarantee you will give them an extra large squeeze when you next see them.

 


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