Friday, 27 September 2013

The Mighty Tasty Mighty Lights Crisps from Walkers - Review

We are all fans of crips in our home so I was more than happy to review Walkers Mightly Lights.
Available in three flavours, Cheese and Onion, Roast Chicken and Lightly Salted they contain 30% less fat and no artificial colours or preservatives.

Mighty Lights are ridged crips and are more healthy than regular crips but with all the flavour.


So what did my family make of them?

Dad: I like the ridges in them, they are really nice, in fact I prefer them to usual Walkers crisps.
Eldest Daughter: The ridges are too close together and they are too crunchy, but the flavour is really nice. 
No1 Son: They taste just like regular crisps, you can't tell they have less fat.

          Star: I like the Cheese and Onion ones best, they feel good on your tongue.
Boo: Can I have another packet please mum?
Little Man: I can't eat any more...*passes me an empty packet* (he normally does this with regular crsips but there is always half the packet left)

I was surprised that these were low fat crisps, usually that means they are not as crunchy and taste nothing like regular crisps. Not so with these Mighty Lights, they have a perfect crispy crunch and taste delicious. Personally I'm not a fan of ridged crisps but I would buy these again. The littlies love crisps but I don't buy them every day but they are great for that occasional treat and I like that they are a more healthy option.

I was sent three multi packs of Walkers Mighty Lights for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are made by myself and my family.







Mad Blog Awards 2013, Oh yes, I was there!

On Friday 20th September I was lucky enough to be one of the finalists attending the MAD Blog Awards. I am still amazed that I made it to the finals, that people actually nominated and voted for my blog. If you did, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The day came at the end of a totally manic week. We actually moved house on the day before the awards. I'd hardly slept all week with the stress of the move, I'd barely had time to feel anxious about the awards, or even travelling to London by myself. On the morning I grabbed my bag that had been packed before we moved and kept safely so it didn't get lost and jumped in my rented car. The plan was to return the car and then jump the train to London, but I forgot my mobile and had to go back home to fetch it barely making my train on time. I was so tired I actually slept on the train and I never sleep on public transport. Finally I arrived in London and promptly got lost on my way to the hotel. When I arrived I was hot, sweaty and stressed. The receptionist at the hotel was charming and coped very well with my tired and frazzled brain and incoherent babbling.

After freshening up I met my lovely friend Steph from Steph's Two Girls. When then got ready together and were soon on our way to the Royal Kensington Garden Hotel for the awards. The evening started with champagne and the meeting of many lovely bloggers. It's always a lovely experience meeting a blogger that you have been reading, you feel like you kind of know them already.

I'd been gifted my dress by Boden, I'd chosen a lovely navy blue embroidered dress.



We then sat down for a delicious three course meal with lots of wine. I was sat by Monika from Mum on the Brink and Ruth from Geek Mummy. I'd seen these ladies before but not had the chance to speak to them properly. They are both really lovely ladies. I was also lucky enough to share my table with Lexi from MammyWoo who walked away with not one but two awards, including Blog of the Year! The Outstanding Blogger Award left us with not a dry eye in the house. All finalists were brought to the stage and emotions were high, they were all winners but it was Jennie from Edspire who walked away with the trophy. The presenter for the evening was Dr Ranj, best known for his role in CBeebies Get Well Soon.



After the awards we were treated to music and dancing and a rather crazy chef called Mozzerella to keep us entertained. There was also a surf board challenge for anyone brave enough to take a go.



It was a truly magical evening and I consider myself so lucky to have been able to attend. Many thanks to MAD Blog Awards and Parent Dish, and all who made this evening so special.






Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Why We Are Moving

This week we are moving home, from a tiny three bedroomed house which has never been modernised, to a lovely brand new five bedroom house with three bathrooms.

Twenty four years ago I moved into my home with my two year old son and baby daughter. The house seemed huge back then, we'd just moved from a one bedroomed flat. After a few years I was fed up of the toilet being outside and the tiny kitchen but a little work brought the toilet indoors and a few little changes to the kitchen made it a little more usable. When my children were eight and nine their dad decide to go and make himself a new life elsewhere and for a while we were alone. The house was fine, even though the kitchen was still a bit small.

Then I met my current partner and after he moved in we decided to have children together. I'd always wanted more children so I was really happy. It didn't happen straight away, in fact it took more than two years before I got pregnant with my third child.

By this time Eldest Daughter was sixteen and I imagined she would be leaving home for university, or falling in love and leaving the nest at some point. No1 son, then eighteen, was at a college that offered supported living from nineteen. I knew that my baby would be sharing a room with us for a while but I figured that even if the older ones didn't move out we could split our huge bedroom into two smaller ones.

After Star was born we decided to try for one more and soon I was expecting Boo. The eldest were still at home but it was ok, we still had our fallback plan of splitting one room into two.

No1 son missed out on a residential place at college. Eldest Daughter had other problems which meant she would at home for a while longer. The fallback plan looked more and more likely. Then I had a little surprise in the form of The Little Man. Not part of my plan but still a very gorgeous addition so I'm not complaining.

The house seemed to shrink around us. It had never been huge but now it was feeling smaller and smaller as seven of us were cramped inside. This was not my plan and soon we were all becoming a little depressed about our situation. There just wasn't room for the littlies to grow, not  enough space for any of us really.

Then we were offered the chance to move to a brand new five bedroomed house. So new that if you look it up on Google maps this is what you would see.



We were supposed to have been moving  in July but the date was pushed back to early August. Then it was pushed back again to late August. Then we were supposed to have moved on 9th September but the water supply was not sorted. So now we are moving on 18th September and we can't wait!

being built

almost ready


Monday, 16 September 2013

Local Festival...what a difference a year makes!

Every year we have a local festival on our Square (which is actually round, but it has four corners...no, I can't work it out either!) Last year we had a sunny fun day as these pics show:


Just one year later and it was a different story as rain stopped play. Most activities couldn't go ahead and it was too windy for the bouncy castles. We still had 'center stage' with various acts and there was a marquee with cakes, activities and face painting. There was one little train ride which the littlies enjoyed and Boo was face painted as a pink cat:


It was quite sad really that the weather was so bad. We had been looking forward to seeing local residents for the last time at the festival but as you can imagine the turnout was pretty poor. Maybe we will make a special trip back again next year if the weather is nice.

So what do you do when your festival is a washout? You bring on a singing monkey!



Sunday, 15 September 2013

The New Pan in My Life

Say hello to the new pan in my life, this is the Ozeri Green Earth Pan (20cm)


Sexy isn't he? In fact I love the green colour so much I've decided on a green theme for my new kitchen. (Did I tell you I was moving house next week?)

So what is the first thing I did when I received my lovely new pan? Well, I cooked something green in it of course.




Ok, not totally green but this is my giant falafel burger, and very tasty it was too. Falafel burgers are really easy to make, just add chickpeas, garlic, chilli and parsley to your blender and wizz to a thick paste. Then shape into a burger and fry until slightly golden and cooked through.

Besides the lovely green colour the Ozeri Green Earth pan has many other advantages. 
  • It's a good sturdy pan although not too heavy. 
  • It's ultra non-stick and you only need a small amount of oil
  • It has a scratch free ceramic coating
  • It has a bakelight heat resistant handle
and it's green! No not just in colour, the Green Earth Pan is one of the world's first frying pans to achieve non-stick perfection while remaining absolutely free of PTFE, PFOA and other harmful chemicals.
What does that mean? Well, basically that no harmful toxins will be released into the environment while using this pan, even at high temperatures. 

Of course, you may think that frying your food is unhealthy but if you need to fry why not do it with a pan that requires a tiny amount of oil. I cooked sweetcorn fritters which usually need a fair amount of oil to stop them sticking in a regular pan. I have to leave them on kitchen paper to drain after cooking. However, with this pan I was able to cook them with a lot less oil and there was no need for draining. They tasted better too. They also cooked quicker because the Green Earth pan is a better conductor of heat and can cook quicker than most pans. So you can turn your heat down too. 

You can purchase the Ozeri Green Earth pan from Amazon for £24.95, that's a 38% saving on it's regular price. 

Now, pancakes anyone?

Disclaimer: I have received an Ozeri Green Earth pan for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own, so is the falafel burger!


Thursday, 12 September 2013

My Big Night In

I do have nights out occasionally, but as a mother of five a night in is usually the best option, much less stress, much cheaper and just as much fun.

So what would I do with £750 to plan a big night in? This is my entry into Little Stuffs Blogger competition in association with Two Little Fleas.

I'm moving into my new house next week and currently we have a small tv, so I'd love to treat the whole family to a bigger television so we could spend our night in watching some great movies.

42 tv from John Lewis £469

So what would our viewing choice be? It would have to be our family favourite, Toy Story!
Toy Story box set around £19.95

Of course there would be food involved. In our new home we have a lovely big dining room which is something we've not had before, so first up I'd love to buy some new tablewear.

I love this mexican style Cabo range from John Lewis. I'd spend around £130 on this.

Cabo range dining set, John Lewis 

I love to cook so I'd be happy to make the food. We'd have Chicken and Mango Salad.



Ingredients

250g pack cherry tomatoes, sliced or quartered
2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeƱos
small handful coriander, roughly chopped
juice 1 lime, plus halves to serve
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cooked chicken breasts, torn into bite-sized shreds
2 Little Gem lettuces, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 ripe mango, stoned, peeled and diced
handful tortilla chips, broken up a little

Method

Put the cherry tomatoes, jalapeƱos, coriander, lime juice, onion and oil in a large bowl with some seasoning.
Pop the remaining ingredients, except the tortilla chips, on top of the dressing. Gently mix the salad together to coat.
Sprinkle the tortilla chips over the top and serve immediately with lime halves.


Of course I would have to make a cake too, this one would fit the menu

Dulce Le Leche Cake with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Finally, with the kids tucked up snug in bed I'd settle in front of my new tv and watch some of my favourite programs like The Walking Dead, or Under The Dome. My big night in wouldn't be finished just yet though. I have the perfect ending right here.


Champagne and chocolates from John Lewis

All this and food comes to £750, lots for the whole family to enjoy. In fact, we might never go out again :)

Andy and Mike's Tick Tock Time Machine

Is your child a fan of Cbeebies? I know my three are even though the older two are no longer pre-school age, they still like to watch along with their little brother sometimes. They are big fans of Andy Day and in October we are all off to see his live show, Tick Tock Time Machine. We are all really excited, yes, even mummy ;)
I'd just like to share a press release about the show so you can see where they are performing. I'm not being paid to do this, just sharing :)




Andy & Mike’s… Tick Tock Time Machine Tours into the Future!

Written by Andy Day, Mike James & Iain Lauchlan
Directed by Iain Lauchlan
Music & Lyrics by Jamie Ledwith

BAFTA nominated children’s presenter, Andy Day (CBeebies) and his comedy partner Mike James, have revealed plans to continue touring through autumn/winter 2013. The dynamic duo teamed-up with ‘Tweenies’ creator Iain Lauchlan to produce this family-friendly adventure (suitable for ages 3+), which sees Andy and Mike whisked on a time-travel adventure; think ‘Bill and Ted’ crossed-with ‘Back to The Future’. The show has received wide acclaim since debuting at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year and is due to enjoy a third-leg, performing at a further 11 venues across the UK from 29 Sept ’13.  Find the full UK tour schedule at: www.andyandmike.com 

'A cut above most other children’s shows out there’
THE SCOTSMAN

'so much here for everyone... elaborate set... fun audience participation... one of the liveliest hours you'll have'
«««« - THE LIST

Andy & Mike’s adventures begin when they stumble across a mysterious machine locked away in the garden of their ‘Fun Pad’ many years before by their great, great, great Grandfather Wally Bum…  Met by the machine’s guardian, they are sent on a time-travel quest.   The intrepid duo must collect items from both the past and future, whilst avoid being trapped in the mists of time forever.  Will they make it?   One thing’s certain… they haven’t a chance without the audience’s help!

'Highly energetic and amusing, a more entertaining children's show is hard to find.'
THE PRIMARY TIMES

Together, the star of the recently BAFTA nominated Andy’s Wild Adventures (CBeebies) alongside his co-star Mike, combine their trademark style of humour, wit and infectious energy, with an irrepressible sense of fun. Providing audiences with a performance that will have them longing to travel back in time to see it all over again.

Running time:                  60mins
Show website:                   www.andyandmike.com
Follow on Facebook:           www.facebook.com/andyandmikes
Follow on Twitter:            @andyandmike

Disclaimer: This is not a paid or sponsored post.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Proud Mummy Moment

I so wanted to join up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements over on Ethan's Escapades blog, but with everything going on at the moment, achievements was not something that sprang to mind.

Then straight after replacing Stars neck collar after doing her physio (which we have to do five times a day) the telephone rang and it was a call for No1Son (Which I had to take because I am his carer) and right on cue the Little Man demands to be taken for a wee wee.

So, phone under chin I'm thinking I can do this, pop him on the loo while still taking as nothing is happening, but to my surprise the Little Man rushed off to the toilet himself, pulled down his own clothes, climbed onto the toilet and well you don't need to know the rest. I was so proud of him. He turned three last month and I started toilet training him about three months before his birthday. He picked it up straight away and within just a couple of days he was able to go out without a nappy. We even went all the way to Blackpool without any mishaps, I can't remember the girls being so good and I thought boys were supposed to be worse?

Even better, he's also dry at night. I was a bit wary of leaving his nappy off seeing as he still wakes for a drink in the night, but after two weeks of dry nappies I just didn't buy any more. He will wake up and ask to go to the toilet if he needs. What a clever little boy, I am so proud of him.

So despite my whole life being upside down at the moment I have something to call an amazing achievement and it's all down to the Little Man.




Ethans Escapades

Friday, 6 September 2013

Blackpool

Back in June I was one of the chosen winners of the Blackpool Ambassador competition with Tots100 and Visit Blackpool.

We've been to Blackpool several times before but I've never stayed overnight until now. I was really excited to hear that we would be staying at the beautiful Brek Apartments. Also included in the prize were Resort Passes for all the family.

The Brek Apartments are about 3 miles out from the seaside of Blackpool. The train station is just across the road and the bus stops outside. Great for us as we do not have our own transport. We arrived at 1.30pm in the lovely village of Poulton-Le-Fylde and were able to drop our cases off at the Brek Apartment office until they were ready for us to enter our apartment. We had time to go into Blackpool but Star was having a wobble about going back on the train and we didn't want a meltdown so we took the time to explore Poulton-Le-Fylde.

Our apartment was beautifully luxurious and the girls loved the idea of the bedrooms being downstairs while the living area was up in the loft. I thought that black and silver would be a manly colour scheme but it really wasn't, it was very welcoming. In fact I fell in love with the silvery wallpaper in the living room as well as the gorgeous light fitting. The beds were cosy and there were plenty of bedclothes. The bathroom hosted a jacuzzi bath and a separate shower cubicle.


on our first evening we were treated to a trip to the Tower Circus. Something else very new to me as I've not been to a circus before. We couldn't take photo's inside so I've borrowed some from the website. It was a truly entertaining evening, even the Little Man who normally can't sit still for five minutes was totally mesmerised. We all loved Mr BooBoo and Mookey who entertained us between acts. We were treated to some really thrilling acts which culminated in a spectacular water feature. It was my favourite part of the trip.


The next morning we were up bright and early to take advantage of our resort passes. These represent great value for money and can be used in nine attractions in Blackpool.

  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach
  • Nickolodeon Land
  • Blackpool Tower Eye
  • Blackpool Dungeon
  • Sea Life Blackpool
  • Madam Tussauds
  • Blackpool Zoo
  • Blackpool Model village
  • Sandcastle Waterpark
We had to rule out the Pleasure Beach, Nickolodeon Land and Waterpark because of Star's neck. Star was afraid to go to the top of the tower and both girls were scared of the Dungeon. We still had loads to choose from though.

First up was Blackpool Zoo. We bought a bus pass from the local shop for just £9 which covered us all for the whole day. The zoo is really big and there is something going on all the time. We managed time to see the talk about the elephants because that's what Star wanted to see most. Boo loved the giraffes and penguins and the little man could relate to the cheeky monkeys.



We had hoped to visit the Model Village after the zoo but Star can only walk for a certain amount of time and she was getting tired, so we took the bus back to Blackpool. 
Next up we visited the Sea Life centre. The girls enjoyed feeling a star fish and loved the rays and sea horses. Boo was a little scared of the big sharks they have there. Thanks to the film, Finding Nemo, the girls were most excited by finding the tanks of Nemos and Dorys!




We were feeling tired by now but Madam Tussauds was close by so we went in there. I'm so glad we did because everyone enjoyed the experience, even the Little Man (who had missed the entire sea life centre as he was asleep in his buggy.) They have some really great celebrities in there and the girls were amazed at how life like they were. How many celebs can you spot in my little collage? 







By the time we left it was early evening but it was still warm and sunny so we crossed the road and let the littlies play on the beach for a while.




On the evening we went to the Tower Ballroom for a meal but all they had were hot dogs. We were a bit disappointed as it had been such a busy day and we were looking forward to some nice food. There was some mix-up and everyone was in a bit of tiz because The Script had pulled out of turning on Blackpool Illuminations. Well, they got Gary Barlow instead, a good swap I'd say. (ahem, showing my age now)

Of course I can't leave you without some photo's of the amazing Blackpool Tower in the evening.




Our trip to Blackpool was a prize offered by Visit Blackpool in a competition run by Tots100. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I would like to thank Beth for arranging everything for us, and the very lovely Sarah and Darren at Brek Apartments. 
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Update on Stars Neck

It's been almost five weeks since Star hurt her neck. To me I see no improvement at all and she is still in pain. The hospital decided against intervention such as traction or manipulation and I'm glad because it would have been so distressing for her. However, I'm really concerned that she's not improving.

Today we went back to the hospital, we've been going weekly since she came home. She saw a dr that we have not seen before, he looked at her for about five seconds and then said ok, we'll see her in 6 weeks. He didn't even ask if she felt any better or if I had any concerns.

Next we went to see the orthotics nurse who fitted her with a new collar. This one is a torticollis collar and is meant to correct the neck back into it's normal position. It doesn't. Within half hour of wearing it Stars neck was bending right down again and she'd slipped right out of the support. Now if she sits up straight she can stay in the support, but she's 8 years old and there is no way I can keep her sitting straight all day.

Her old collar gave her support but it wasn't correcting her neck. Five times a day we have been removing the collar and doing physio with her. It hurts her, but mostly because the collar is causing her neck to be stiff. That's why we have to keep exercising.

After the collar fitting we went to see the physiotherapist who was the most concerned of everyone we saw today. She doesn't see much improvement either and is worried that the new collar is not suitable for Star. She has told me to give it a try but to call her if I am worried. We go back for physiotherapy every week until Star is well again. It may be some time.

The bus journey home reminded me of the time before she had the first collar, she cried in pain at every bump, break and corner. I'll definitely be using her old collar for journeys in the future.

Tonight for the first time in over a week I had to give her codeine at bedtime to ease her pain. She'd had paracetamol earlier but it didn't help. The codeine works but now she'll be nauseous in the morning.

Soon Star will be going back to school. A new school in a new area with none of her friends there to support her. I am so worried for her.






Sunday, 1 September 2013

Hearts and Minds for Autism

Today I'd like to tell you about a fantastic charity, Hearts and Minds.

Hearts And Minds Challenge is a young dynamic, innovative and passionate organisation formed in 2010 which is bringing positive change into the lives of those affected by autism. We are putting together a range of services which includes awareness raising,  education support, advocacy, counselling,  transition planning and advice for families upon receiving diagnosis as well as our Facebook support group. Our Mission is to raise the quality of life of individuals and their families affected by autism by ensuring the highest standards in education, care and support leading to employment and equality of living opportunities. We are currently running a fundraising campaign to raise £1 million so we can open a Centre of Education for Autism
Yes, they are planning a new school in Manchester which specialises in education for autistic children, how wonderful. If this happens, and I'm sure it will, then hopefully there will be more schools set up around the country. As a mother of two autistic children I am fully aware of how difficult it is for them in the current school system. Mainstream school can be a difficult and scary place for a child with autism, but then they can be out of place in a special school. I know that neither of my two children have special educational needs, the needs of an autistic child can be varied and different to any other disability and schools find it difficult to meet their needs.

Hearts and Minds are fundraising by asking for donations and setting up special events. There is another way that you can get involved though and that is by collecting old mobile phones. You can find all the details on their phone challenge site. By collecting old mobiles you can also be rewarded with gifts like ipads and laptops. Anyone can collect phones for these, you do not have to have an autistic child. The collections can also be made by schools.

I recently took part in the challenge to collect old mobiles and traded them in for a shiny new laptop for Star. It arrived just as she was admitted to hospital so she had something to smile about at least.




 After we have moved house I'm going to start collecting again to help this fantastic charity and I do hope that my post has inspired you to do the same.

Do spend a moment to check out Hearts and Minds on Facebook and  as @handmchallenge on Twitter too.

I'm linking this post to Pink Oddy's Motivational Monday whose topic is education. A school for autism is a fantastic idea and I hope Heart and Minds are able to reach their goal.


Motivational Monday



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