Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Our Weekend Box - what was inside

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a code for a free Weekend Box!

 Weekend Box is a new fortnightly creative activity box for young children aged 4 - 6 years old. My little girl is only 3 but she still had fun doing the various activities with mummy's help.

There are 4 weekend box club characters, which you can see in the photo above - Wooster, Hattie, Oswald and Sammy. Each of them have different themed activities.

Here's what was inside our free weekend box:

It was an exciting thing for G to receive through the post and upon opening it there were exciting little parcels to be unwrapped. A different colour for each themed activity/character.

  • Green for Hattie 
  • Red for Wooster 
  • Yellow for Oswald 
  • Blue for Sammy
 Underneath the parcels there was a piece of A4 red card, a kite template, a board game board drawn out on a piece of A5 card, four instruction cards, colour coded to go with the little parcels, a small envelope with a strip of 4 small stickers and one larger sticker and a poster.

There was also a brochure in the weekend box advertising natural clothing.

There are four activities for your child to do and you can obviously spread these out during the weekend or do over a couple of weekends, or during the holidays.

Here are the activities we received:

Kite Project 

This was the green packet, Hattie the Hedgehogs activity, containing the thread, a wooden peg and 2 straws.
The Kite Template obviously was also for this activity!

All you needed to provide yourself for this was a plastic bag and sellotape. A brightly coloured one is a preferable choice to make it look nicer.

G was able to help cut out the template, help draw round it and help cut out the kite. She also helped position and stick on the straws (one of which i had to replace as she cut one of them up into pieces :) ) and then mummy had to take over and do the fiddly bit with the thread.
 Once finished G loved playing with this and spent ages running round with it just inside the house!

Popcorn 'Cupcakes'

This was the red packet, Wooster the rabbits activity. It contained a little bag of spice mix and a bag of popcorn kernels. We needed to provide a little bit of icing sugar and honey and optional dried fruit.

G doesn't like popcorn herself but really enjoyed seeing the popcorn pop. It's something she's never witnessed before and she found it funny and exciting.

Besides needing an adults help with the popcorn because of the danger of a cooker, this activity was straight forward.

Peg Butterflies

This was the blue packet and Sammy the Squirrels activity. It contained 2 wooden pegs, 2 sparkly pipe cleaners and some sticky tabs. The red card was to use in this activity.

You had to draw out the shape of two butterflies on the card, cut them out, decorate and stick on & decorate the pegs for bodies and attach the pipe cleaners for antennae.

This is another simple activity and good to do mostly by themselves if older than G. She did really well with cutting and was able to stick the pegs by herself. She did all the decorating and had a go at trying to attach the pipe cleaners herself. She curled them up by herself on one of the butterflies.


This was the yellow parcel, Oswalds activity and contained a tiny dice and 4 tiny buttons for counters.
 I thought this was ok for just 2 children or a parent and child to play but considering the small piece of card and tiny dice and tiny buttons it would have been much too fiddly in my opinion for 4 people, especially children to play.

There was the option to flip the paper board over and add your own board game options to the board on the other side which left blank spaces to be written in.
Although I though this wasn't the best out of the four parcels I thought it was great for inspiration to think up and create your own board game. It reminded me of when I was younger and made and amazing rain forest game with my best friend at the time.

The poster included in the box was to collect your stickers from each weekend box. There is one included in each box you receive and after collecting 5 you send in your poster and get a special surprise in your next weekend box.
The strip of smaller stickers included were to place on the instruction cards after completing each activity which was a nice touch, especially as all young children love stickers. Well I know mine does! Your child can also colour in the back of the box when they've finished all their activities, to keep as a certificate.

Weekend boxes come at a usual price of £7.50 a fortnight and there is an option to pause your boxes for one or two months. If you'd like to try one out for FREE you can use my code: ADELE17286
Or you can use my link hereYou can then invite your friends and get 50% off your next box!

I think weekend box is a brilliant idea if you are on a comfortable income and need some inspiration on what to do with your children in your spare time together. I think they would be particularly useful during wet weather or long holidays. If you don't get stuck for ideas they could also just be a helping hand with some fun activities and saving you time sending the materials you need straight to your door.
It's also great to give your child a surprise through the post every now and then!

Let me know what you think if you try them out and what activities you receive!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Wicked Wednesdays - "Photo girls"

A couple of weeks ago we went on yet another visit to lovely Bramhall Park. We went with G's auntie and her younger two cousins. My sister got some nice autumnal photo's of the E and G amongst all the yellow, orange and red leaves ....eventually.

She asked them to come and have a photo on the tree stump......

'Come and have a photo girl's '

Not sure who they thought was going to take their photo from over there.....

A few photo's later they figured it out.....


What's on a 3 Year old's Christmas List

www.birdsparty.com Free prinatble

So just in case Father Christmas is keeping up with the times I thought I'd publish G's list on the internet.

I'm pretty sure a huge amount of girls are asking for Frozen merchandise for the majority of their Christmas list, but a stand out important item G seems to be asking for is a long black felt tip pen.

A long black felt tip pen.

That is funny enough on it's own besides the fact she owns a million of the evil house ruining creations that are felt tip pens. People, very generous people at that, have brought her a large amount of colouring books and felt tips over the past year or two and she really needs no more for now and probably ever again.

She's also asked for a purple version of this tacky plastic supposed frog thing on a spring (kind of thing that comes out of a cracker that parents hate and young children love, see this post by brummymummyof2 for further examples) that her dad gave her a while back. I told her 'I don't know where they come from' and 'I don't think they have the in the shops'.

G tells me 'Father Christmas will be able to get it, don't worry mummy'.

That's not the only important job/problem mummy Mr Christmas will be having this year. G wants probably the most in demand Christmas present of the year.

Elsa snow glow 

This is probably mummy's fault by watching a video of it (which G saw) thinking it was amazing before

1. checking the price and
2. seeing that it was out of stock everywhere as it's this years Buzz Lightyear of Christmas toys.

I am having frightening visions of having somehow grabbed hold of one in the shop (not sure where the money will have come from) and then someone trying to grab it out my hands. Fighting over a doll as a grown woman.
I'm sure it won't come to that. I am thinking possibly G's very kind nana and grandad may be taking that problem out of my hands.

So here is G's list, typed up as I don't have a scanner and I wrote the original anyway (in crayon though) as unsurprisingly at 3 she can't write full on letters yet. A page scrawled full of o's, e's and scribble is more her thing.

Dear Father Christmas,

I'd really like 'some toys' for Christmas 'and toys for your children too'.

  • An Elsa costume
  • An Elsa doll (Elsa snow glow)
  • An Anna Doll
  • A big long black felt tip pen (now changed to a novelty christmas gingerbread pen spotted in the coop this evening that's surely going to be broken by my not overly gentle 3 year old within the first half hour of use).
  • A Fuzzy felt set (ok this is mummy's input, she's enjoyed playing with bits I've cut out before and I know she'd love one).
  • Frozen bedding (mummy's input again as she needs an extra bedding set but I know she loves Frozen ....2 birds ....)
  • A Hobby horse
  • A new make up set to use on her hairstyling/make up doll
  • Bubble Machine
  • Purple tacky springing frog thing.
  • A cot to put her dolly's in
  • Big version of snakes and ladders 
  • Room on the Broom Sound book

 Love from G....

We put G's list in an envelope and sent it off to the man himself*....

I've seen that lots of companies now who have set up their own personalised letter from Santa service at a price. It's a lovely idea but for those of you who'd rather not pay for the man in red to respond, if you send your child's Christmas list to the address pictured below....

....with your address details inside obviously, by December the 6th, Royal Mail Father Christmas will send your child a letter back for free.**

Or you can of course create your own.....

        ....that wouldn't even cost you a stamp, unless you go the extra mile to post it to your own house for your child to see it come through the letterbox.....

I didn't opt for that. It can arrive by magic just like Santa himself.

The List

What have your children asked for this Christmas? Anything out of the ordinary?

* Read as to Royal Mail
**Well for the price of a 2nd class stamp

Saturday, 15 November 2014

COMPETITION: The Owl and the Pussycat & The Further adventures of the owl and the pussycat GIVEAWAY.

So here it is! My first competition!

I'm so exited to be running it and having a lovely prize to give away.

Yesterday I posted my review of The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear and The Further Adventures of The Owl and The pussycat by Julia Donaldson, published by Puffin and both illustrated by the very talented Charlotte Voake.
They would make a lovely Christmas gift and if you want to know why please check out my reviews of each book. 

Thanks to Penguin I have a set of these wonderful books up for grabs and all you have to do is enter below!

The blog comment and following on twitter are mandatory** but the other entries are optional. The more you have, the more likely you are to win :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is open to UK entrants only, sorry.
** Anyone who hasn't done both the mandatory entries will not be counted in the competition,

The Further Adventures of The Owl and The Pussycat by Julia Donaldson & Charlotte Voake - Review

So I've been super lucky this week and along side the new publication of the owl and the pussy cat I am also reviewing The Further Adventures of The Owl and The Pussycat by Julia Donaldson.

This book again is beautifully illustrated by Charlotte Voake who brings the story and it's characters to life.

I'll let the pictures do the talking....

 Julia continues where Lear's poem leaves off, in a mix of her own charming style that has been so successful and Edward Lear's original poetic techniques. She introduces characters and places from Lear's other work's into her story. I think this is a lovely idea, although if anything, I would say as an adult reading this book it helps if you are familiar with Edward Lear and his works, otherwise you might feel she is introducing too much nonsense. From a view of a child who the book is actually aimed at I'm sure the more nonsense the better and other Lear devotee's I'm sure would approve too.

The book has been well received, being shortlisted for both the spec savers national book awards and the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal. It has an RRP of £7.99 but can also be found at the cheaper price of £5.99 at the Book Depository.

We received a paperback copy of the book complete with the CD. My 3 year old has a bit of a thing about CD's that come with books so she had this straight on and plonked herself on my knee to listen and read* along. The CD, in which the story is narrated by Julia herself, does go at quite a fast pace so to enjoy the pictures it's best read by an adult (or the child themselves if at reading age). However it's a great addition along side the book and expands the experience and enjoyment of the book.

Reading along with the CD for a second time.

This book, along side The Owl and The Pussycat, would make a lovely Christmas gift and for those of you lucky people reading who have joined me on my new blogging journey, I have a set to give away here.

Family Fever

*read through viewing the pictures 
** This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own. I was however given a copy of the book to review by The Bigshot. 

The Owl and The Pussy Cat by Edward Lear & Charlotte Voake Review

'The Owl and the pussycat went to sea,
in a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey and plenty of money
wrapped up in a five pound note.....'

The Owl and the pussy cat, a well known classic nursery rhyme by the wonderful Edward Lear was a favourite of mine as a child. I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of both the latest edition of the poem, published by Puffin, as well as The Further Adventures of The Owl and The Pussycat by Julia Donaldson! The latter of which I'll be reviewing in a separate post

Wonderfully illustrated

This edition has brought the poem to life once more for a new generation of children to enjoy (and for us older ones to continue to enjoy). It has been beautifully illustrated by the talented Charlotte Voake, who's artwork brings a magical feeling to the books.
Obviously the way a book is illustrated has a particular importance in books for young children, it allows children to see the story through their own eyes when they haven't learnt to read yet. When choosing books for G, the way it's illustrated strongly influences whether I'm going to buy it or not. I do love lovely pictures!

Beautifully detailed

Beloved children's author Julia Donaldson has written a foreword for this edition, introducing new readers to the world of Edward Lear. I think this is a lovely touch and will bring the attention of her young fans to a wonderful old classic.

This hardback copy has a RRP of £10.99 but can be found at a lower price's at various retailers including the price of £7.69 at The Book Depository.

I think that this publication of the poem, along side The Further Adventures of The Owl and The Pussycat, would make a lovely Christmas gift. They are beautiful books to be treasured for years to come and we were excited ourselves to receive them through the post! They are my Young Children's book of the fortnight recommendations.

For those of you lovely people who have joined me on my new blogging journey I am giving a set away of these lovely books here!

Family Fever

* This is not a sponsored post. We were however given a copy of the books to review by The Big Shot. All views are my own.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Throwback Thursday - Helping at the Animal Sanctuary

 Here I am socialising with the residents at Wilmslow animal sanctuary.

These are photo's from a couple of times I went to help out in 2010. The first time I cleaned out the chicken coops as well as socialising with the cats. The next time my sister and nephew came and the time after my brother.

During the visits with my family the animal sanctuary had been helping us out with a neglected cat (Theo) we had rescued. They are a wonderful organisation who are funded by donations. My sister started donating there on my first visit and continued for a few years.


If you live in the area and are looking to get a pet please consider a visit to the sanctuary. If you are lucky enough to have some spare pennies you are considering donating to a charity and you're an animal lover, this might be the one for you.

I was hoping to help at the sanctuary again however it hasn't worked out. If it was easy to get to I'd be there every week!

Have you ever volunteered anywhere? Where would you if just for the day?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Crustless caramelised onion & spinach Quiche

It's been ages since I've done a homemade quiche so a few weeks ago I tried one out using generally what I already had in, but also my favourite quiche ingredients when buying any from the shop.
They are relatively straight forward to make and generally a good people pleaser, so fingers crossed it would go down well with my little fussy eater!

I opted for caramelised onion and spinach quiche. I have to be honest I'm not overly keen on the flavour of cooked Spinach but I love it raw so I used dried frozen spinach and a few fresh leaves on top.
I did cheat a bit to save time and used pre-made pastry but I am including a recipe for short crust pastry if you'd like to make it yourself.



For the short crust pastry:
  • 100g butter
  • 200g flour
  • 2tbsp water

For the Filling:
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 1 carton of single cream
  • 115ml semi skimmed milk
  • 200g grated mild or medium cheddar cheese 
  • 1 small white onion
  • Half a bag of frozen spinach
  • Approx 10 cherry tomatoes
  • Small amount of veg oil (for onions)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (for onions)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for onions)
  • Seasoning (I used salt, pepper and ground garlic)

  • Preheat oven to 200oc
  • Make the short crust pastry
  • Roll out and fit to dish. Blind bake for 10 minutes.
  • Thinly slice the onions and fry them gently in small amount of veg oil. When they start to soften add sugar and salt. Heat until softened and gently browned.
  • Whisk the eggs, cream and milk together.
  • Dry off spinach between pieces of kitchen towel.
  • Grate cheese and add to mixture. We also sprinkled some on the base.
  • Slice cherry tomatoes and arrange on pastry base.
  • Add spinach and onions into the quiche dish.
  • Add the egg mixture to the dish.
  • Cook for 40 minutes at 180oc

We had our warm with salad, it was lovely and it was a hit with my fussy eater too!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Our new additions to the family - G's first pets

We had some new additions to our little family last month.

Say hello to the imaginatively named Gracie and Fluffy (originally named Floppy). Sadly I'm yet to get a good photo yet. I have to be honest I haven't really tried as I always have something else I need to be doing but when I do try they don't stay still very long! Either that or I'm trying to teach G how to handle them properly and not walk round with one like she's carrying a teddy. :)

G's nana and granddad very kindly brought them for her including the cage and run and all that goes with these little furry creatures. It wasn't a random purchase, there is a reason behind it.

G loves animals and being around people. We have a cat, Bella, who I've had since I was 21, however all G ever see's off her is a furry blur scarpering off into the distance. Bella is not a fan of loud fast moving humans.......so any young children. Since G was mobile Bella has kept her distance, as an excited baby squealing and trying to grab her tail was not an activity that appealed to her. This was a shame for G as she loved her and in fact her first proper word was cat! It also means that G herself does not really have a pet and while this is not a necessity for child there are other factors involved.

Since myself and her father split up over 2 years ago it has just been me and G. For significant reasons I will not go into on this blog, she rarely see's her father and at points this affects her. Especially when nosy little rats (just the one) from down the road come peering in the door when we are trying to leave the house, asking 'Where's her father? Why isn't he here?'. Then your at the time two year old starts thinking about it too from then on and asks a couple of days later, with tears in her eyes 'Daddy loves me doesn't he?' 'He'll see me soon won't he?'
It crushes me.

 I am her best friend but I also know that sometimes she gets lonely and longs for other children to be round the house. She actually said the other day she wanted "a baby sister and a baby brother mummy. That's what I'd like". This breaks my heart and I'd love to give her a sibling but obviously that isn't possible at all right now and not just because I'm not currently in a relationship.
Luckily she has nursery 3 afternoons a week at the moment and I try and arrange social activities where she'll be around other children as often as I can but that can depend on money and also my health too. I know what she really wants is a little friend who can be there all the time.

G absolutely loves dogs and they are the kind of pet that is suited to her. Energetic and happy to play and run and cuddle up and chat to. There is a family down the road with two beautiful dogs who she loves to say hello to and invented her own imaginary dogs a couple of months ago ( Malic, Gracie, Floppy and Lil lac - the names 3 year old's come up with?!) who she tells me stories about. I would love to get her a puppy as a companion, to grow up with her, but financially this is not possible yet. It really gets to me that there are such important things I can't provide for her. Some factors that are out of my control and many others I am on the path to try and correct but the light at the tunnel seems a long way away at the moment. When I have succeeded in my first step then I will have hope and that hope will propel me the rest of the way or at least keep me clinging on through more tough times to come before my and therefore our, lives are back on track.

Her nana knows of my frustrations and worries and being such a kind and considerate person brought two little friends of her own into G's life.

Having them is a big learning journey for G. Learning to be gentle enough, how to handle them, learning that they need quiet. It is good for her to learn these lessons.
She did first try to excitedly show them her toys and would chat to them like a younger sibling. She also tried to throw and shake a ball for them like you would for a dog. It was hard to tell her you can't do that with a guinea pig as it scares them but she loves to have them on her knee as a little friend when she gets to have a DVD on or to look at herself in the mirror when holding one and sing to them. She also likes to choose and give them their gnawing sticks. Attaching them to the cage herself.
It's still early days and she will get more used to handling them and will soon be old enough to get them out herself. They have made the house less empty.

If looked after properly and made to feel safe, guinea pigs can be very friendly animals once they have settled in/got to know you. Fluffy in particular is quite laid back and is G's favourite. She does however have a problem with liking to nibble on fingers as she will eat anything in front of her but I'm hoping we can get round that somehow. Gracie is the more timid of the two but is inquisitive and will make a racket if she thinks there is food about that's not being given to her. We will be getting them out in the morning to have a little run and for G to have some more bonding time with them.

 Does your children have their own pets? How important is the role of a pet in your household?

Liebster Award

Last week I was nominated by Helen from Thinkfitfoodfamily for the Leibster Award. I've linked to a post of hers so please take a look and have a read of the rest of her site too.
 I agree with her points in this post that state of mind really affects your habits. I'd love to try out hypnosis myself if I had the money.

The Leibster awards is aimed at new and small blogs with a small following with a hope of boosting your exposure I think!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:
  • Post 11 random facts about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to do the same
  • Let the bloggers you have nominated know they have been nominated

So 11 facts about myself. I'm going to keep them light hearted:

  • I have a degree in Physiology from the University of Liverpool

  • I've been clubbing in my pj's - for charity 

  • I've jumped on a train with a friend from Liverpool to London with next to no belongings including almost no money. A tube, a taxi, some busking and a ferry and a day later ended up in a cold snowy Le Harve. This was again for charity, we had taken part in a jail break with our universitys RAG society). 

In Le Harve

  • My guilty TV pleasures are Hollyoaks and The Vampire Diaries. They were my favourites a few years ago. They are only guilty pleasures now as I've started to feel very old at 28 and thinking maybe I'm too old to be watching them?
  • I also love Breaking Bad. Who doesn't?
  • I love live music although the last 'gigs' I went to were Linkin Park when I was pregnant and Will Young near the end of 2011. If anyone would like to send me tickets for John Legend's Summer Tour I'd be more than happy to accept them ;)
  • If things worked out in the future I'd love to give G a sibling.
  • If I won the lottery besides the obvious things I'd open my own animal sanctuary.
  • I have lived in Stockport, Plymouth, Liverpool, and Leeds at different points in my life.
  • I think if I'd not become long term unwell I my career would have been one in fundraising (as in organising events). I started participating in fundraising events at a young age and it was not long before I was organising my own. I was co-head of such events at my high school at 17 and at university I joined in with several events and had many ambitions for the years to come including going to Africa but sadly life had other not so grande plans for me. 

My answers to Helen's Questions:

1. What was your first pet?  Officially a guinea pig called Sparky and a Rabbit called Holly. They were brought together. Unofficially a tiny fish caught from a pond at Bramhall Park that we named after a tree hugging protester that had been in the news at the time - Swampy. It didn't last long. I think either a cat or a bird got him :/ The fish that is. Not the man.

2. Where did you go on your favourite holiday? I've not been on loads due to lack of money but I'm very grateful for all the ones I have been on. I loved the two times I went abroad once to Paris and once to Cap Salut in Spain. Europe is lovely and so relaxed as well. I'd love a holiday home in Spain. However I think probably one of our family holidays in a caravan down in Paignton would probably have been the best. Devon is my home away from home. 

3. As a child, what did you want to be when you were older? So many things a vet, a journalist, a dancer..... most my mother tried to put me off one way or another :( If I hadn't become un well I imagine I would have gone into a professional fundraising role or teaching rather than my current direction.

4. What’s your favourite sport/ exercise? I enjoy aerobics and circuit training. I did used to enjoy running besides being self conscious. Same goes for swimming if I wasn't so self conscious I'd go a lot more.

5. What was the last good book you read? I'm still reading another great title by Jodi Picoult. Nineteen Minutes. I find it hard to find the time after becoming a single mum but I do love to read. 

6. Tell us your celebrity crush. Adam Levine and Ian Sommerhalder.

7. What’s your favourite thing in your make-up box right now? I haven't worn much make up at all the past couple of years but I always rely on a black kohl eye pencil and a black mascara.

8. Which of your posts have you most enjoyed writing? I've no idea actually! Topic wise probably my Autumn post. My Llandudno post is a contender as I had lots of good photo's for it and I enjoy doing review like posts. I think my favourites are yet to come to be honest as I'm only just coming out of my shell writing wise and I have nineteen posts in my draft section after this is published! 

9. What is one thing you would definitely put on a bucket list? If he was still alive ...going to see MJ on tour! I would say travelling - vague but that's my answer. Or at least going abroad with my lg. It may be something many people manage every year but it will be a while before I'm in the position to be able to afford it.  

10. What’s the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery? Cry ....tears of happiness and relief! I'd need to start playing first! It being £2 now has really put me off!

11. What have you had for dinner today? Very boring pasta and sauce with grated cheese. My little girl has been very unwell the past few days and I've had no sleep. I'm not overly well and I'm giving out 8 doses of antibiotics a day at the moment. (The guinea pigs are on them too!)

My Questions for those nominated:
  1. What blog do you read most often?
  2. If you could live anywhere else in the world besides where you are, where would it be and why?
  3. Who is your current favourite musician/band?
  4. What career path did you imagine yourself having when you were younger?
  5. If Father Christmas was real what would you ask for?
  6. Have you ever done anything on impulse for charity?
  7. What are your guilty pleasures on tv or elsewhere?
  8. What's your favourite product you use on your hair?
  9. Would you ever consider going vegetarian?
  10. What are you looking forward to this Christmas?
  11. What's your favourite childhood memory?

I nominate the following people:

I look forward to reading your posts if you take part and if you tweet me the link I will share your post via my twitter.