Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 - A year on Raisie Bay

Today's post is a little self indulgent as I look over the year 2016. The year started a little crazy and I needed to remind myself of how life has changed for me and look at all the things I have done.

January 1st 2016. I woke up with pins and needles which wouldn't go away. As the day wore on they got worse and spread to other parts of my body. By the end of the day I was in a hospital bed paralysed from the neck down. This was the start of my journey with Transverse Myelitis.

In February I came fighting back with positivity. Despite losing my mobility and then losing my car I was determined that I was going to face everything full on. I was unable to get around much but we had a fun day at home when we played Popcorn Olympics.

By March it was apparent that I wasn't getting out much, I posted on my blog a lot more than I would usually have time for. I also started coming to terms with my disability. I think up until this point I'd been sure that my recovery was going to be quick. Now, it was time to think about how I was going to cope in the future.

In April I realised I'd become a little obsessed with the trees at the bottom of my garden. I was watching them to catch the changes between winter and spring. I guess not being very mobile meant I spent more time looking at these trees during the first months of this year than I had done in the previous 2 years of living here.

Also in April I was watching a weekly drama, The A Word. As a parent of two autistic children I was intrigued by the drama and how it portrayed a family dealing with autism for the first time. I wrote several posts about the drama and compared it to my experiences. 

May was a busy month. It was also the month that I first ventured out on my own when I went to Blog Camp Birmingham 2016. I also looked at why I blogged, it's always good to do this, especially if you have been doing it for a while and are not sure where you are going. It's also a good thing to do when you are just starting out so you can look back and see if you are still doing what you set out to do or if you have taken a different turn. My blog has gone around in circles but my Blog Manifesto that I wrote in May is still how I feel about it all. 

I also found out in May that I'd become a finalist in the MAD blog awards of 2016. I really have no idea how I've made it to the finals three times, I must have some really lovely readers who vote for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

One of my favourite posts of may was when I decided that I was going to add a lot more kindness in my life. Paying back acts of kindness, or even paying it forward, it's always such an rewarding thing to do. I also started a twelve and a half week course on personal development, or more accurately personal values development. I really enjoyed The Activation Game and would highly recommend it to anyone,

In June we managed to go on holiday to Blackpool. I'd booked a holiday at a Haven holiday camp in Devon last year before I got sick. I knew that I wouldn't make it so I rang them and they suggested that rather than cancel I could book another campsite that was easier to get to and was  relatively flat for my wheelchair. So we chose Blackpool. It was a great break but a very different experience. Looking back I don't know how we did it, but we did and we had a lovely break away. We also got to see Blackpool Circus at the Tower which is a great bonus, and they are wheelchair friendly.

Of course June was also the time of the referendum when we voted on whether our Country should stay or leave the European Union. We were a country divided on the whole debate and many friends and family argued over their opinions. The decision was made and a new word, Brexit, was added to the dictionary.

Then July comes along and the weather brightens up, well apart from school sports day when it's almost guaranteed to rain..well it has done for us for the past three years. This year the end of school for the summer was a little more special for us as it was Star's last year in primary school.
At then end of July it's Boo's birthday and this year she was nine. I normally do wonderfully executed parties with every little detail thought of, but this year it was different as I was disabled. I had no idea how I would cope with a lot of young excited children running around. I decided to keep it small and let Boo invite just a few friends to do some arts and crafts and enjoy the food and cake. It went really well and more importantly, Boo had a fantastic day.

Summer time, and in July we did, well, not a lot. I was still immobile and finding it difficult to come to terms with it. We had no transport of our own and public transport was a nightmare. We did have a fabulous day out at Hatton Adventure Farm though, to test out their new Water World feature.   Also, in August we have both The Little Man and Stars birthday's. The Little Man had a Minecraft Birthday party. Being the youngest I knew that his guests would be accompanied by a parent so I didn't mind inviting a few more as I wouldn't be in sole charge of them. I managed a few Minecraft themed activities. The photo booth was a big success as was his Sword in the Cake. I think he enjoyed his birthday.

Star doesn't like birthday parties so we did the same thing we do every year and take her to Pizza Hut and Build a Bear. She also spent some time at her new secondary school which she loved and she was so excited about attending in September.

September was really busy so brace yourself... First up I got my new car and had to learn how to drive using my hands rather than my feet. It was pretty terrifying at first but I soon got used to it. September was also Transverse Myelitis Awareness Month so I was giving a lot of thought to my condition and how it was affecting me and my family. At one point I became worried that my being disabled now would ruin my kid's childhood so I gave it some thought and came up with Ten Steps to Giving Your Kids a Happy Childhood. There are many ways you can make childhood happy and it's the simple things that they remember most.

Although it started in August, September was the Great British Bake Off week, and I have to admit I'm totally addicted and have to bake along with the show every week. This is my bread week effort which I was really pleased with. 

Also in September it was the MAD blog awards in which I was a finalist...thank you again.
I was concerned because I knew I couldn't make it to London and the awards by myself so I asked my partner to come with me, and he was then invited to join in the celebrations too. I was so grateful for this because although it looks like I'm managing to cope, I'm a very good actress and would probably fall apart if it wasn't for my partner's support. Anyway, we made it, the awards were fantastic and I got to meet Helen Lederer, who was lovely. Unfortunately I didn't win, but I never expect to, there are far too many excellent blogs out there. It's a fabulous experience though. 

So September was a full and exciting month. Along with all the ups I did get down thinking about how my life had changed because of my condition. If you are interested in reading more you can find all my posts under the Transverse Myelitis tab at the top of this page.

October was busy on Raisie Bay because I took part in Blogtober where you were asked to write a blog post each day on a pre-chosen category. I didn't manage every single day but I do have 34 posts for October! If you want to check out one of my Blogtober posts how about this one...One Thing I Can't Live Without.

At half term we had a fantastic day out at Brick Live. We got to meet up with some lovely bloggers while there and also had the premier viewing of the Lego Scooby Doo Haunted Hollywood movie.

Onto November and first up we were having some problems with Star at her new school. She was being bullied by some boys in her year. They hadn't hurt her but where threatening to do so and she was really scared. We managed to talk to the school and eventually the problem was solved. Within just a few weeks she was really happy again and enjoying school. 

I also got to review the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies cookbooks which I loved, my favourite recipe was the Night Terror Torte which was absolutely delicious. I also made these adorable Toe Nail Dusted Sweet Cakes.

Then at the end of November it's my birthday and although I did receive a few really nice presents and cards the day was overshadowed a bit by a bigger event..I got married! It was the most amazing day and I hadn't felt so happy in such a long time. I even walked down the aisle with the help of my brother. 

Then along came December and suddenly the year felt as though it had flown by. I'd had so much to get used to this year and as the anniversary of my illness approaches I've started to feel very low. At first I thought it would take weeks to get better, then I resigned myself to months. Now, I've had to accept that it's going to take years, one year has passed already. To stop myself from feeling low I look back at all the things I've achieved this year and that's what this post has been about. My blog is my tool for recording my life and although it doesn't contain every little detail, it does give me a perspective on what I've done and where I've been. To me it seems like I've climbed mountains, and I can hold on to that and hope that one day I'll be able to do even more. 

Thank you for reading this far and for sharing my year with me. I'd like to leave you with one more post, our Christmas day out visiting Hatton's Winter Wonderland. We had such a lovely day and we also had a lovely Christmas.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year. Life always has it's ups and downs but you only get one chance at it so be the very best you can. Smile as much as possible and offer your kindness to others, be happy. xxx 

I'm desperate for just a few more subsrcibers on my You Tube channel to make it up to 100, I'd love to have you on board. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas Through the Years

As it's Christmas I've been looking back and choosing some Christmas photos from my collections.
To start off, here is one from this year and our visit to Father Christmas at Hatton Adventure World.

I realise that my babies are growing up and it won't be long before visits with Father Christmas are a thing of the past. I do hope the girls keep the magic up a bit longer for the Little Man though, he's only six.

Going back a year to 2015, here is another photo with Father Christmas.

This one was taken at a Breakfast with Santa event, so it was still morning time. The girls were still quite believers too, and that was only a year ago.

Back a bit further to 2014 and this was the Little Man's first Nativity play in Reception Class.

I think he makes a really good sheperd, don't you? Nativity plays are also fast becoming a thing of the past. In fact the little man was just singing this year and didn't actually take part in the nativity, that was for the younger children.

Now, back to 2013, and it was rather a strange Christmas with Star being in hospital just before and then having her first operation and the halo fitted for the first time. We had a very special Christmas Angel that year. I have a collage of pics from that Christmas to share.

It was also the first Christmas that we spent in our new house. So, a very mixed up year for us, especially as I'd lived in the old house for 24 years. 

Back to 2012 and we are at the German Christmas Markets in the City Centre.

I've not taken the kids back there for a while, it's way too crowded, too cold and the kids don't really enjoy walking around market stalls. If it was full of rides like this I think they would be interested, but for the last few years they have only had the carousel, the big wheel and the ice skating rink. It doesn't help either that it's all separated now after they close down a walk through area and you have to walk all the way around to get to the other attractions. I have been there myself though, up until this year I have met up with friends for a bit of browsing and a cup of Gluehwine. Unfortunately, I would not feel comfortable in those crowds in my wheelchair. 

Next it's back to 2011 and we are back in the old house.

A very excited Boo was showing the Little Man how his toy worked. I don't think he looks too impressed does he? He got his own back later by trying out his brand new skill of walking with Boo's new pushchair. 

Six Christmas' ago and back in 2010 it was The Little Man's very first Christmas.

He was our very special Christmas Pudding, look he's even pointing to his name ;) I know, he doesn't look too happy, would you if everyone was joking about eating you up?

Before The Little Man there were the two girls. 

Way back in 2009 amongst a sea of gifts and wrapping paper. 

I could keep going back, but for now I'm going to leave you with an even older photo. This one is back in 1983. 

Christmas is a time for memories and I've been indulging myself with this post. Way back in 1983 I had these two very special people in my life, my Mum and my Nan. They were messing around in this photo as they very rarely drank and the cork was still in the bottle! They knew how to make Christmas special though, it was always a real event with lots of food, fun and much family, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, grandchildren...all day long people would come in and out of our house, bringing presents and good wishes. I lost my Nan in 1996 and my Mum died Christmas Day 2008. I miss them both so very much, especially at this time of year. I only hope that my children will grow up with as many happy memories as me. 


Out - Word of the Week

This week we have been out quite lot which is why it's my word of the week.

It's been really quite an exciting week and not just because it's nearly Christmas.

We'll start on Monday. My husband had an important driving lesson that he really didn't want to miss, but the younger kids were still at school and had a family afternoon where parents could join them for a Christmas decoration making session. I really didn't want to let them down but I can't go out without Graham, so I had a dilemma.

I solved it by getting Graham to get me to the school before his lesson. Then I managed to spend the afternoon with the kids. Afterwards we had half hour left before the end of Graham's lesson so he could fetch us so I decided that we would do it by ourselves. With the help of the Little Man we managed to get my wheelchair to the car. Then with the help of Boo, I managed to get the wheelchair in the boot of the car and we went home! I felt so independent. I know I had the help of the kids but it still felt like a huge achievement for me. I'd not been out without an adult's help before.

Then on Tuesday morning, bright and early at 8am (Well not so bright but you know what I mean) Graham had his driving test. He'd managed to get a cancellation and told him to go ahead and book it as the kids would have broken up from school by then. Wrong! The kids didn't break up until Tuesday afternoon so I had to get them to school, on my own!! I got them up, dressed and ready for school and then packed them in the car. Now, it may have been easy getting the wheelchair in the boot the day before but getting it out is another story. Not only that, I would have been alone getting back to the car and wouldn't have been able to get the wheelchair back in the boot by myself. So, plan B. I parked as close to the school as possible. Then when Joseph's little friend tapped on the car window to say hello I opened the window and asked his mum to take Joseph down with her. Of course she agreed. Every single morning I see them go past the car so I knew this would work, but back up would have been to get Boo to take him down, which would have meant her being late, but it would have been her first time late since September. The problem is, the Little Man's school entrance is not visible from the road, no matter where you park. For Boo it was easier as her school entrance was in plain view, so I could just watch her go in from the car. Another accomplishment for me. The first time this year I'd taken the kids to school by myself. It was also the last time this year!

Now, let's get on to the exciting bit! As I said, Graham had abandoned me and the kids in favour of a driving test! Well, it was okay, because he PASSED! So now he can drive us around instead. This is such good news because we are often unable to get anywhere because I'm not well enough to drive. Also, I can only drive for short periods because of the pain it causes me. Also, it frees me up to take my full dosage of medication which I don't at the moment as it would prevent me from driving. 

So, for the rest of the week Graham has been going out every day getting used to the car and, well, just because he can. Today we are off visiting family, dropping off cards and presents and Graham will be driving us. He can also go  and pick the Turkey hamper up so I don't have to. It's going to make such a difference having someone else driving other than me. 

As always I'm linking up to Jocelyn's Word of the Week linky and would like to wish all my readers and anyone from the #wotw linky, a very merry Christmas!

The Reading Residence

Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Sunday Photo 17th December

Can you believe that this time next week it will be Christmas Day!
We got into the Christmas spirit properly today with a trip to Cadbury World and the photo here is of the Santa Show which the kids loved.

We did the tour and learnt all about the history of chocolate and how the Cadbury brothers set up their factory and housing estate in Bournville, Birmingham. It's not a new story for us as we live less than two minutes away from Bournville. I did learn something new in the factory tour though, and that was how they fill their chocolates. I might have a go myself one day now I've seen it done.

We had a fabulous day at Cadbury World and I spent a fair bit of money in the shop stocking up on Christmas treats for all the family. When we left we spent a little time listening to the Bournville Carrilon which was playing Christmas songs.

We arrived home pretty shattered but after dinner we had another Christmas treat. The local church always put on a Christmas Carol service on the hill, with hot chocolate and brownies. Last year it was freezing cold but this year it was really quite mild, you could definitely tell the difference. I call it a carol service but our local church is anything but ordinary and their band with drums, keyboard and electric guitars were there and they projected the words onto the side of a block of flats, so it wasn't quite like you would imagine a carol service to be. In fact it's a real community experience and there were lots of locals there.

So now we approach the final week until it's Christmas and we will be busy for a few more days while I finish wrapping up presents and organizing the shopping. Then when the two youngest finally break up from school we will be kicking back and chilling out for the rest of the week.

Merry Christmas Everyone x


Sunday Snap

Friday, 16 December 2016

Timetable - Word of the Week

Phew, what a week and it's not over yet. My calendar has been scribbled on, covering every little space, and I've had to keep a time table just to keep track of everything. Why has it been so busy? Well, it's the first time I've had three kids in two different schools at Christmas time.

Star has had two concerts and a school trip as well as Christmas dinner and Christmas jumper day. Boo and the Little Man have had assemblies, Christmas jumper days, school trips, cinema day and they still have workshops with the parents for making decorations and Christmas parties to go. Star finishes school tomorrow at twelve and the other two finish at two, but still have to go in all day next Monday and half day on Tuesday.

At home I've been drowning in wrapping paper as I wrap up my Christmas gifts. I've braved the stores to finish off my Christmas Shopping, had a very nice breakfast in a trendy cafe, had a brief visit with my niece on her nineteenth birthday, had a visit to the G.P. Surgery and written a six page report for my eldest son. Oh, and I've written and posted most of my Christmas cards as well as my Thank You cards for my wedding gifts.

And tomorrow we have a trip to Cadbury World to look forward too!

My head has literally been spinning with it all and I can't wait for school to finish now and the chance to sit back and relax. Trust me, the latter half of next week will be spent on the sofa with hot chocolate watching Christmas movies all day...with probably a bit of Christmas baking going on when I feel like it.

I do feel a sense of achievement though. I'm still waiting on a couple of parcels but apart from the food my Christmas shopping is done and dusted. I've got my turkey hamper ordered for delivery on Christmas Eve and the rest of the food shopping is booked for delivery. I'm hoping to get out one day next week to get some special food and drink treats for us all.

I'm struggling to find it just yet but I think I will be in full Christmas spirit very soon. Then it will be onwards and upwards to 2017, which will hopefully be a better year.

Are you excited for Christmas yet?

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Ora Snowflakes

When I was sent a pack of Ora Kitchen Towels I  instantly fell in love with them, not only are they soft and absorbent and as good as any kitchen towel on the market, they are also round! Why has no-one thought of this before? They come in a stack of cones and are easily picked off with one hand, no more tearing a sheet off.

The kids were fascinated by these round kitchen towels so we came up with some fun activities for them. These are two activities which tie together to make:

Pretty Snowflakes

First we decided to colour our Ora kitchen towels, but we wanted them quite light and pastel like.

 1.Take a sheet of Ora and open it flat

2. About 10cm from the centre of the sheet draw a circle with a felt pen or marker, it doesn't have to be perfect.

3. Fold the Ora in half and then in half again, then in half once more.

4. Put water in a glass until the bottom of the folded sheet just touches it. 

Wait until the water seeps through the sheet to reach the outer edge.

Take out of the water and leave to dry.

The kids loved watching the water make the colour run to the edges of the paper sheet, and we all loved the lovely pastel effect it left behind.

Part Two:

  1. When the sheets are dry fold them in half and then in half again, then in half once more.
  2. Snip little shapes out of the sides of your folded sheets
  3. Open it back out to see your pretty snowflake pattern.
  4. Hang it on the tree or stick it to a window for a Christmas decoration if you wish.

We had such fun making these snowflakes. I want to share a little video with you. I have three You Tube obsessed kids and they went into full YouTube mode while I was recording. The problem was having all three kids at the same time so the background noise was terrible and I had to cut the video down to less than half the time and add some music. Also, Daddy insisted on having some sports program on the TV in the background! So, please watch (it's only 5 mins) and enjoy our very unprofessional You Tube tutorial.

Disclosure: I was sent a pack of Ora to use but I was not asked to write anything. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Ora Kitchen Towels are available to purchase from Tesco stores and retail at around £1.90. You can also buy plastic bases for your towels in different colours.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Truth About Wood Windows

My current home is a new build and I have PVC-U windows which seem to be fitted as standard these days. When we moved in I loved how white and clean they looked. The double glazing kept the house warm and the heating bills went down. In my old house I had wooden windows and although they were sturdy they were not double glazed and the house was definitely colder. It's the price you pay with wooden windows, or is it?

One thing I did like about my windows was that if they started to look a bit grubby and a good clean wasn't working, then a fresh lick of paint would have them looking like new even though they'd been there for over thirty years.

Mostly we don't give a lot of consideration to the windows in our homes, so long as they are sturdy and they keep the cold out, let the fresh air in, then they are doing their job. Are you happy with the windows in your home? Are you thinking of changing them, what would you base your choice on?

The Wood Window Alliance believes that we don't spend enough time thinking about which type of windows add the most value to our homes and how best to maintain them. With this in mind they have created a Myth Buster Fact Sheet about modern windows.

MYTH: If you want double-glazing, you have to have PVC-U windows
TRUTH: People often assume that double-glazed windows have to have PVC-U frames, believing wrongly that wood window frames are only for single glazed windows. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All Wood Window Alliance (WWA) members’ windows are double or triple glazed. So you can still have beautiful wood windows that are energy efficient and will keep your home warm and draught-free.

MYTH: Wood will rot quickly, whereas PVC-U windows will last the test of time and won’t discolour
TRUTH: Plastic degrades, whereas Wood Window Alliance-standard windows have an estimated service life of around 60 years* – that’s twice the life of PVC-U windows. Plastic windows can become discoloured and brittle as a result of exposure to the sun and unlike wood framed windows, they can’t be repaired. In fact, once you maintain and repaint wood windows, their lifespan starts all over again. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that well-maintained, good quality timber windows can last a century or more.

MYTH: PVC-U adds value to your property
TRUTH: If you have a period home or a home in a conservation area, ugly PVC-U windows could actually devalue it by as much as £20,000! A national survey of estate agents by English Heritage found unsympathetic replacement of windows and doors – particularly plastic and PVC-U – to be the single biggest threat to property values in conservation areas. Separate research also suggests PVC-U windows can decrease a house’s value and often dissuades prospective buyers from making an offer.

MYTH: Wood windows are simply too expensive, I can’t afford them
TRUTH: Because wood windows can last up to 60 years and can be maintained and re-painted, unlike plastic windows, they actually work out less expensive over their lifespan. Due to timber’s inherent strength, triple-glazing is more cost-effective with wood windows than with other materials. And don’t forget the value that beautiful wood windows can add to your house, particularly if you’re considering selling. Wood windows are a worthwhile investment.

MYTH: Redecorating wood windows is hard work
TRUTH: Wood Window Alliance members’ windows come ready-painted from the factory to save you time. They won’t need redecorating for 8-10 years. And even then, it’s an easy job – just a light sand down, wipe clean and one or two top coats. You won’t need to re-paint the tricky bits as it’s only the faces of the windows that get weathered.

MYTH: You need to strip your windows completely to change the colour
TRUTH: With wood windows, if you want to change the colour to complement a new design scheme, you can (unlike PVC-u). All you have to do is sand them down with a fine sandpaper and repaint – simple!

MYTH: Wood windows aren’t energy efficient, so it’s hard to save on bills
TRUTH: Wood has a very low thermal conductivity, which means it is a good insulator. But the energy efficiency of a window actually has little to do with the frame material and is mostly affected by the specification of the glazing unit, so well-designed windows have similar thermal efficiencies across the board, whatever material the frames are made from.

MYTH: Wood windows are less secure than PVC-U double glazing
TRUTH: That’s just not the case. Members of the Wood Window Alliance offer windows that comply with the new Part Q Building security standards of the building regulations. Members can also offer enhanced security windows that comply with Secured ByDesign - the official UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of 'designing out crime'. It promotes the use of security standards for a wide range of applications and products, including wood windows.

*by Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh

For further information about The Wood Window Alliance, 


Disclosure; This post was brought to you in collaboration with The Wood Window Alliance

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas, A Very Peculiar History

Christmas, A Very Peculiar History written by Fiona Mc Donald, created and designed by David Salariya. From Boolino Books at £7.99.

Don't be deceived by this little book, it is rammed full of facts and stories about Christmas. They are all in enticing little snippets so young people can learn without getting bogged down with information. It is written in different fonts and the pages are decorated with illustrations and borders and the whole book appears to be written by a very jolly man in a red suit with a big white beard....but who is he?
Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Pere Noel, Weihnachtsmann to name a few of the present bringers on Christmas Day.

Where do we get the tradition of Yule Logs from? Why do we give presents? What is the story behind mistletoe at Christmas Time. Why is Christmas Day on 25th December? You'll find the answers to these and many many more Christmas related questions.

There is a detailed stories of the twelve days of Christmas and the tradition of the Yule Log. It tells of the story of Jesus and of the development of the Gregorian Calendar.

You will also find fun questions and answers, strange but true lists and even a recipe for a delicious Yule Log...I have to give this a try! There are Christmas poems and songs as well as short stories.

In fact it would be difficult to find a book so packed with Christmas! It would make a lovely gift for someone who is Christmas obsessed, or any inquisitive child or adult.

Here are  a few snippets;

A Christmas Riddle

When is a plum not a plum?
When it's a sugarplum!
That was the old name for shiny little balls of transparent boiled sugar - the ancestors of today's boiled sweeties. Shy? Perhaps because they were suspended by stalk-like threads to cool and solidify. 
Advent Calendars 
Advent calendars were invented in Germany. The oldest known, cut and painted by hand, was made in 1851. Before this, pious families hung up little holy pictures, day by day, or marked time from 1st to 24th December by chalking a line on the wall. By around 1903, cheap colour printing made it possible to mass-produce advent calendars, and became very popular. Opening little windows to reveal hidden pictures fascinated children and adults.
Kissing under the mistletoe was a peculiarly English tradition. But on New Year's Eve in Austria, there was a similar custom. A mysterious masked figure, an ugly old man, sat under a pine-tree branch in dark corners of country inns. He wore a wreath of mistletoe. When a pretty girl passed, he jumped up and imprinted a rough kiss. When midnight struck, he was driven out into the snow to die (or pretend to,) as a symbol of the old year.
The book is Hardback and consists of 191 pages. It is pocket size so would make a perfect stocking filler gift.

 Disclosure: I am a Boolino Book reviewer and was sent a copy of this book free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

My Sunday Photo 10th December 2016

I know I shared a wedding photo with you only last week but I have a couple more I'd like to share of our big day.

The Little Man with the ring cushion hand made for us by my lovely friend. He was so delighted to play a part in the wedding.


Sunday Snap

Festive Menu at Table Table

I was asked if I'd like to try the festive menu at a Table Table restaurant, never the type to turn down a free lunch how could I resist. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch so here is my review.

Our closest Table Table restaurant was a gastro pub, the Ridgacre in West Bromwich. As the kids all had an inset day at school they were able to come with us so we had a lovely family day. The kids were so excited choosing their meals that the waitress taking our order, should have been in a real tiz, but she calmly wrote everything down and read it back to us. Then me and the hubby chose our food from the festive menu.
I chose Garlic and Herb Breaded Mushrooms with BBQ sauce, a Roast Turkey dinner (of course!) and Mince Pie Ice Cream. Hubs chose Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Festive Steak and a Christmas Brownie.

Then the kids settled down with the activities provided, all based on 'We're Going On a Bear Hunt.'

Any parent knows that activities like this are a life saver while waiting for food.

The starters arrived fairly quickly. The kids had all chosen garlic bread starters which came with slices of cucumber. They said it was the best garlic bread ever!

My starter was delicious, the crispy coating on the mushrooms was delicately flavoured with garlic and herbs and the BBQ sauce was really tasty.

Garlic and Herb Breaded Mushrooms with BBQ sauce

I had been really looking forward to my main course, I really love Christmas dinner and I could eat it all year. I didn't even consider anything else on the menu, it was turkey dinner or nothing for me. I really wasn't disappointed with my plate full of delight. As well as the roast turkey I was served stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts, yorkshire pudding a pig in blanket, gravy and a side of cauliflower cheese. It was MASSIVE!

Roast Turkey Dinner

By  the time I'd wolfed down as much as I could, I wasn't sure I could manage dessert, but I was intrigued as to what mince pie ice cream would be like. One of my favourite ice creams is rum and raisin and this dish was quite similar in texture having the fruit mixed in the ice cream. It was truly delicious, and I'm not ashamed to say I ate it all! I now know what I'll be doing with my left over mincemeat after I've made all my mince pies, it will be going into my ice cream.

Mince Pie Ice Cream

Hubby really enjoyed his meal too. He loved the Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup which came served with a swirl of cream and brown bread. The he was served the Festive Steak main which was topped with mushrooms, bacon and a Malbec sauce and served with chips. It looked amazing and he loves the mushroom and sauce, but he did complain that there was some inedible gristle in his steak, however, it wasn't bad enough to express his complaint to the restaurant. His Christmas Brownie dessert was served warm with Mince Pie Ice Cream and chocolate sauce. 

The festive menu at Table Table costs £12.49 for two courses and £16.49 for three. The portions are large and you will leave feeling well fed.
Other options include starters of Prawn Cocktail and Pork Pate, for mains you can also choose Grilled Salmon with a Festive Prawn Sauce, a Festive Burger or Red Pepper, Butternut Squash and Feta Tart.
Then for dessert you can also choose from Christmas Pudding or Lemon Cheesecake. 
The Children's Festive menu,  which costs £6.99, consists of Roast Turkey Dinner, Christmas Pudding or Ice Cream. 

My three decided against the festive menu and went with the regular kids meals where there is lots to choose from. After their garlic bread starters my three chose different meals, Star had Chicken Poppers with chips and beans, Boo had Spaghetti Bolognese and the Little Man had Burger and chips. They all chose ice cream for dessert.

We give praise to our lovely waitress Samantha who really took care of us while we dined. She was especially talented in deciphering the requests of three excited children all calling out what they wanted at the same time. 

We had a really good dining experience and will definitely be returning in the future. I may even squeeze in another Christmas dinner, or is that just too greedy? 

What would you fancy from the menu, would you opt for the traditional Turkey dinner like me or go for something else? 

Disclosure: I was sent a voucher for food in return for my review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Prices are correct at the time this post is published but may vary at different venues. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Where Does Milk Come From?

Does your child know where milk comes from? I'm happy to say that all mine do, we often talk about where our food stuff comes from and we've been to plenty of farms and talked about what comes from which animal.

However, according to research from Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons with children aged 4 to 8 years, over one in ten boys believe that milk comes straight from supermarkets. A fifth of five year olds believe that chocolate is made with eggs and a third of children believe that a cow's diet consists of sandwiches and pizza.

Now I believe my children to be quite food savvy, but when I asked the Little Man how chocolate was made he gave me the ingredients you would put in a cake, milk, flour, eggs, and apparently this is quite common among young children. We will be learning much more about chocolate next week when we visit Cadbury World.

The research by Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons has been followed up with a video by foodie mum of two Giovanna Fletcher designed to show families about food provenance, in particular where the milk comes from to make Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons.

Do you think it's important for children to know where their food comes from?

Disclosure: I may have been bribed with chocolate to feature this post, but don't tell the kids shhh!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Stocking Filler Gifts

I know, I'm a bit late, you've probably got all your Christmas shopping done by now. But just in case you were stuck for some ideas I've put this list together of some fabulous Stocking fillers!

Girls Gifts

Claire's have a fabulous offer on at the moment where you can buy 3 items and get 3 items free! They make great stocking fillers.

Here's a few ideas I'd pick for my girls.

  1. Zowie Plus Lock Diary £8
  2. TY Beanie Boo Small Mac Mouse Toy £7
  3. Cut out Pink and Silver Glitter Heart Lip Gloss Set £5.50
  4. Kids Purple Fox Jewellery £5.50
  5. Disney Frozen Blue Crystal Jewellery set £6
  6. Black Cat Umbrella £10

Pokemon Fans

Pokemon is really popular again right now. Geek box have some great value gifts that any kid or adult fan would like.
  1. Pokemon plush key ring £4.99
  2. Pikachu Evolve Mug £7.99 (2 for £12)
  3. Pokemon Mega Maxi Poster 61cm x 91.5 cm £4.99
  4. Pokemon T-shirt £12.99
  5. Pokemon Ash Mug £7.99

Foodie Gifts

Always a favourite, lovely food items suitable for anyone. 

Personalised Gifts

I love personalised gifts, I've ordered a few for my family members and you can always find some fabulous offers at this time of the year too.
  1. Crystal frame with photo from £14.98
  2. Hanging ornaments from £3.98
  3. cardboard photo Jigsaw Puzzles from £4.98
  4. Magic Mugs from £4.98
  5. Photo Stone Slate from £9.98

I really hope you have enjoyed my gift list. All prices were correct at the time of posting this on my blog. Links are affiliate links but I've not been paid to bring you this gift guide.

    Monday, 5 December 2016

    Enchanted Christmas at Hatton

    We are big fans of Hatton Adventure World and have visited a few times now. We went to see Father Christmas back in 2014 and were thrilled to be able to visit again this year.

    Hatton's Enchanted Christmas Kingdom is open every weekend until Christmas and 19th - 23rd December, so there is still plenty of time to fit in a visit.

    As well as the fabulous grotto you can still visit the animals and play on the fairground rides as well as many of the other activities. If you get cold there is entertainment in the soft play area or fabulous shows in the family theatre.

    Also for Christmas there are some lovely Craft markets which are open until late with hot food and roasted chestnuts readily available.

    In fact you can be sure of a true Christmas Experience to remember at Hatton, it really is worth a visit.

    Hatton's Enchanted Christmas Kingdom Grotto

    A little Poem

    Three children wait, sitting patiently on sacks of reindeer food.
    They had to wait their turn so not to appear rude.

    Soon they would visit the reindeers at play,
    Which ones would they see today.
    Maybe Dancer, Prancer, Dasher or Vixen,
    Or it could be Cupid, Comet, Donner or Blitzen?

    Blitzen was their favourite by far, 
    He was the friendliest and loved a  stroke through the bar.

    To Dickensian time they were transported back
    on entering the grotto that was dark and black
    The house of Scrooge and Marley made them shrug,
    While Mum called out Bah humbug!

    Then although the photo is not clear,
    There was a shop full of beer,
    We believed that the point of it
    was to help parents get into the Christmas Spirit!

    Then from past to future they were transported
    To see some  shiny robot elf hybrid
    In the Christmas workshop making toys
    For all the nice girls and boys

    This glowing machine was making festive delights for everyone,
    Candy Canes, Stars and Gingerbread Men are now done.

    They viewed the flight path for Father Christmas' Sleigh, 
    It won't be long before he's on his way.

    Behind closed doors would you dare to believe
    Was a ton of gifts to be delivered on Christmas Eve.

    Back in the present they viewed some snowy scenes,
    This friendly elf was wrapped up warm it seems.
    It must be cold because around the bend.....

    ......They saw a waddle of penguins to friend.

    Then it was time to meet the big man himself.
    (No mention of the elf on the shelf)

    They were a little shy at first
    Then the Little Man Fit to burst
    Said "Are you the real Santa Claus?
    I think you are of course!"

    Then Father Christmas pulled out his Naughty or Nice book,
    He opened it up and for their names he did look
    If the children were found on the list called Nice
    Then they would get a lovely surprise

    They were found on the Nice list by the Big Man who
    Gave each child a golden key which unlocked a door to.... 

    The happy children chose their toys with ease
    And paid for them with their golden keys.

    We had a lovely experience and the kids were so excited. After visiting the grotto they went to let off some of their excitement in the park.

    When it got too cold we went into the arts and crafts tent to write letters to Father Christmas and make Christmas cards and decorations. The kids loved it in there and I was happy to get warm again and have a coffee and mince pie.

    The day was a big hit with the kids, they loved it all. We will definitely be looking forward to our next visit to Hatton Adventure World.

    Disclosure: we were sent tickets to visit Hatton's Enchanted Christmas Kingdom for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

    Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit this useful?

    I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

    I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

    This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

    My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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