Thursday, 21 September 2017

Back to School, Finally!


Well it happened, our extended holiday ended and the kids went back to school on Monday. I don't who was most nervous, me or the kids!
Star had a bit of a wobble because she didn't know where she was going for registration. She was calmer when we gave her coping strategies, first she had to find fellow classmates and find out where they were going, then if that failed she had to go to the school reception and ask. Of course, as soon as she arrived at school she met up with classmates and went in happily.

Boo was really excited because she loves her school friends and couldn't wait to see them again. Not only that but they were going to be in a brand new school building! What was there not to be excited about!

The Little Man was just not wanting to go. He claimed school was boring and he wasn't interested in meeting up with his little friends again. Of course, that changed as soon as he reached the playground. He's been really happy all week. Soon he'll be moving to the new school building with Boo. It must be really quiet in his school with all of the years four to six missing.

So the first week back has gone really well. Well, apart from the uniforms. I really need to stock up on some more jumpers, but when you have three kids and you have to buy the special (much more expensive) jumpers with the badges on, it's a big spend. Not only that, I normally spread the cost by buying some early and some later, but they are for the new school and were only released for sale a couple of weeks ago.

I hope they continue to enjoy their school week, we are already in a firm routine which was no trouble at all. I think we all strive on routine so it's working out well for everyone.





The Reading Residence


Half Price Books for Autumn!

I love to read, it helps to relax me and I can't resist being taking into other worlds, other lives and imaginations. I've just finished re-reading Philip Pulman's Dark Materials trilogy, I love the books which are aimed at young adults but are incredible stories that I've enjoyed too. Maybe you've seen the film, The Golden Compass? This is based on the first book in the series, Northern Lights. Why have I been re-reading them? Well, because the books were published 22 years ago, but now there is a brand new succession to the series beginning with 'La Belle Savauge' which will be released next month. I, for one, am truly excited and you can pre-order this book now at Waterstones for half price.

Don't forget that you can also get cash back for Waterstone's purchases from TopCashback.


Book of Dust, Philip Pullman


Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK 
ISBN: 9780385604413 
Number of pages: 560 
Weight: 866 g 
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 46 mm

If you want to read the older books too they are also on the half price offer, you can buy them all separately for £5.99 or buy a hardback volume of all three books for just £11.99.


If Philip Pullman is not your cup of tea then how about the Booker Prize 2017 shortlisted book 'Autumn' by Ali Smith? A story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves. 
This is also in the sale at just £6.99 for a paperback copy.

Ali Smith, Autumn

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9780241973318 
Number of pages: 272 
Weight: 193 g 
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 17 mm


Maybe you are already stocking up on your Christmas presents? I am, I like to get in early it seems like less of an expense and you can grab some great bargains. Books make great presents and I have to buy a copy of the Guinness World Records for my kids each year. You can grab this years copy for just £10, that's half price!

Guinness World Records

Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 17 Publisher: Guinness World Records Limited 
ISBN: 9781910561713 
Number of pages: 256 
Dimensions: 303 x 226 x 20 


Perhaps you'd like to try some new recipe's this Autumn. I don't usually associate Jamie Oliver's recipes as quick and easy but his new books states otherwise. 
Each recipe has been tried and tested (and tested again!) to ensure the book is packed with no-fuss, budget-friendly dishes that you can rustle up, any day of the week. With over 130 recipes, and chapters on Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Veg, Salads, Pasta, Rice & Noodles and Sweet Things, there's plenty of quick and easy recipe inspiration to choose from.
You can get this new hardback book from Jamie Oliver for just  £13! That's another half price bargain!

Jamie Oliver cookbook

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9780718187729 
Number of pages: 320 
Weight: 1198 g 
Dimensions: 254 x 196 x 29 mm


You can find many more books in the Sale at Waterstones, why not take a browse at their Books of the Month.

Here are a few more bargains you may be interested in, click the book to find out more.
£12.99
 £.749
£7.49
£5.99

£8.99
£11.99





Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which if you click they won't cost you anything but they may help me build up my book fund.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Ed Place - The Home Education Resource

Sometimes kids need a little extra help with their learning at home. Sometimes parents choose to educate their children at home. I've done both.
When my eldest daughter was young she did the last three years of her education at home. We did have help with tutors and I really don't know what I would have done without them. Back then the internet was fairly new and their was little in the way of home education resources online.

When Star was in her halo brace and couldn't go to school she had a year of home education. Again, I had help from a professional tutor, but this time we found lots of helpful resources online.
Then there is Boo, who has had a little trouble catching up with her peers and I've been giving her that little extra push with online activities to help her improve, and it's worked.

Today I'd like to tell you about a new program that I've found EdPlace. It's a comprehensive educational resource that's available 24/7. All content has been written and checked by teachers with over five years experience. It is 100% national curriculum aligned and prices start from just £10 per month for one subject and £15 a month for all subjects. You can even trial the program with full access for fourteen days for just £1.


EdPlace is the most accessible online educational tool in the UK. They believe every parent should have access to quality educational support that effectively helps their child succeed. As parent champions, their mission is to become the most trusted partner for parents with the biggest impact on their child’s education. They do this by providing parents access to the best educational tools, technology, resources and teachers. They cover English, Maths and Science across the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 to 4 (age 5-16). They see big opportunities to help parents by blending the best online tools with leading resources created by their teachers.

Once you sign up to EdPlace you are assigned topics for your child based on their year and their progress will be adapted to their progression.You can keep check on how well your child is doing through the parent dashboard. There are also fun and customisable  rewards to keep your child motivated.

What do you think? Does your child need a little extra help at home with their school subjects. I know as they get older the homework increases, do they really need more work on top of that? I do believe that if a child wants to improve on their school work, at whatever age, if there is someway of making the learning fun and rewarding they will do it. Then there is always the problem of revision, EdPlace can help with that too.

Also, you can get up to £10.50 cashback at TopCashback, and £10 off any subscription with the code 10FREE



Disclosure; This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Great British Bake Off - Cottage Loaf

I'm really getting into the Great British Bake Off now, despite the missing Mary, Mel and Sue. It's all about the baking after all.
This week was bread week and I love baking bread...but I've not done so for a long time. The signature task was to bake tea cakes, something I've never tried before but I may try one day as I do like a nice toasted tea cake with my cuppa. The technical challenge was a cottage loaf, again I've not made one before but I do remember making a mini one many many years ago at school. Finally, the show stopper was a bread sculpture, yes, like I'd have the time, or energy for that!

So, I went for the cottage loaf. I love making bread kneading by hand but with my hands giving me so much trouble lately, it was good to have two little helpers to hand, Star and Boo, who each took turns with the kneading.

The recipe I used was a basic white loaf recipe.

Ingredients

500g bread flour
25g butter
1tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1tsp dried yeast
320 ml of warm water

Method:

rub the butter into the flour
add the sugar, salt and yeast,
mix in the water a little at a time until you have a firm dough
knead the dough for 10 mins and leave in a bowl covered with cling film, or a tea towel for about 1 hour
knead the dough again and shape into two rounds, one slightly bigger than the other
Put the smaller mound on top of the larger one and push two fingers all the way through both rounds from the middle of the top round.
leave to prove, covered lightly, for a further 30 mins.
Bake at 180 C for 40 mins, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.


cottage loaf





















Saturday, 16 September 2017

My Sunday Photo

































I love receiving flowers and these were delivered yesterday. The lilies have yet to bloom but it's still a beautiful bouquet. They are a lovely addition to my home especially as the summer days are ending and Autumn is creeping in.

I really miss having flowers in my garden. In my last home we had lots both in the front and back garden. We have lived here four years now but nothing has grown for us. We have some plants in the front, but no flowers, and nothing at all out the back. The soil is terrible so I bought some pots of plants, but even those have refused to grow. Maybe next year will be different.

I pin My Sunday Photo pics I visit on my Pinterest Board. Please let me know if you wish your photo to be removed.



Photalife

Sunday Snap



Thursday, 14 September 2017

Word of the Week - News



We've had good news and bad news this week, which would you like to hear first?

Okay, let's start with the bad news.

Last Friday I ended up in A&E and discovered that my condition is progressing much faster than I would like. Roll on my time to visit my consultant where I'm going to ask for treatment to stop it progressing further. You can read the full story on my post here. The pain is still pretty bad every-time I stand up, but hasn't woken me up for the past few nights so I guess that's not too bad.

So, although I've been feeling pretty rough this week we have also had some good news!

Our car was fixed and returned, yeah, I did miss Bernard while he was gone. I'm still waiting to hear if I can drive, I'm dreading it if they say no, but I do have my special controls and I never drive when not feeling well, so fingers tightly crossed. In the meantime I have to rely on hubby, but we are still having trouble with my back seat driving, I need to realise he's not a bad driver and I don't need to act like a driving instructor.

But that's not the best good news.

I haven't mentioned it too much (probably worried I would jinx it) but my daughter, Star, had genetic testing earlier this year in May. We knew we would have to wait four months for the results but it's been a hell of  a long four months. The geneticist has spotted some familiar signs of a really rare condition called Loeys Dietz Syndrome. It's a nasty condition which comes with a dodgy heart and can be a killer. At first I fretted like crazy, but then I read some more about the condition and there is only one person in the UK with it, so I figured that Star would be okay. Well, the results came back and she doesn't have it! How fantastic is that!
Not only that but she doesn't have any other indicators of heart related conditions like EDS type IV or Marfan Syndrome. There is a chance that these may develop later in life as she does have so many indicators, in particular for Marfan Syndrome, but they realise this and will check her yearly from now on. Just for peace of mind.

Next month Star goes to see her neurological surgeon to see how her neck is. I am feeling quite confident about this because she seems just fine and rarely complains of neck pain any more. Thankfully they are also keeping a check on her for this and again she will be having yearly check ups.

The only problem at the moment seems to be the stomach one, but we are working hard on that one and she sees a specialist nurse every six weeks. We'll get to the bottom of it I'm sure. (there is a joke there somewhere but I'm not willing to share it!!!)

I'm focusing on the good news this week and hopefully, in just a couple of weeks time, I will have some better news on my health.

Oh, and I've worked out how to dictate my blog posts if my hands do give up, so don't worry, you won't be getting rid of me that easy :)

The Reading Residence


The Weekend Box with Snazaroo Face Paints

Many moons ago, when my older kids were young I was a professional Face Painter. I say professional, I mean, I used to get paid to go to fetes and parties and face paint loads of kids with whatever they wanted. I had a huge kit of face paints and printed cards for the kids to choose what they wanted. I remember one party when all the little 4 year old's decided they wanted to be tigers, except for one little boy, he wanted to be a dinosaur!

This week we tried out a new Weekend Box special complete with Snazaroo Face Paints!

weekend box logo


My Little Man is a big fan of The Weekend Box, he received his first back in 2014 when he couldn't wait to get started so he was photographed in his pyjamas. We also reviewed a Chinese New Year Box where we made fortune cookies long before the bakers on the Great British Bake Off. We even gave the Mini Weekend Box a whirl last year.

The box came with two mini sets of face paints which Snazaroo are introducing.

First, let me give you some information on the mini sets.

Mini Theme Pack Information


Snazaroo, the nation’s leading face paint brand, launches it’s first ever Mini Theme Pack range, combining favourite face paint colours into handy palettes to help turn little monsters into little fairies in no time at all.

Priced at just £2.99, the bite size packs come with everything parents need to recreate looks at home: three colours, a brush, a sponge and an easy to follow 3-step guide. At a compact 10cm by 11cm, they’re perfect for every occasion, helping to transform playtime into a magical world for children no matter where they are.

With five vibrant themes – Summer, Carnival, Halloween, Christmas and Easter – kids are covered all year round. The colourful summer packs include a fun Festive Mask (made up of bright pink, white and royal blue) and a Jester (featuring grass green, white and purple).

A touch of water is required to use the paints. All Snazaroo products are hassle-free to wash off and are suitable for sensitive skin types, while the face paints are fragrance-free and specially-formulated to be gentle on the skin.

snazaroo logo - paint a smile

We had a  Tiger kit and a birthday party face stamp kit. 



I love the idea of a stamp kit. It saves so much time and the kids are still happy. You just dampen the colour, press the stamp into it and then press it on the child's face. If you've ever face painted a room full of kids at a party you will understand how time consuming it is, now you don't have to hire someone to do it for you, just use stamps instead! They are so easy the kids can do it themselves.
It's also better for younger children. Although the paints are safe to use it's best not to use too much on children under 3 years.

The Tiger kit came with three colours, a brush and a sponge. There is also a guide on how to paint a tiger on a child's face. On the Snazaroo website there are plenty of guides and videos to show you how to face paint, and they are so easy to follow in just three steps!

My little man, like that little boy in the tiger party, wanted something different. So we looked through the guides and he chose a bear.

I used the green paint from the party kit and the white and black from the tiger kit and this is what we came up with. 

Using just a small amount of paint and water I helped my little boy become a grizzly bear!

a little boy with face paints to make him look like a bear

Snazaroo face paints are made in the UK and are skin friendly, paraben free and are made from premium cosmetic ingredients to be gentle on children's skin. Because Snazaroo face paints are water based they are easy to wash off. I remember that face paints where difficult to get off, involving lots of scrubbing and washing. Not these ones though. I removed my son's grizzly bear with a single baby wipe! There was no residue left behind either. 

Once upon a time I face painted my daughter as a black cat and even after we'd spent an age washing it off, her face still looked 'stained.' It's good to know that Snazaroo face paints are easy washable. 

I think £2.99 is a very reasonable price to pay for a small face painting kit. They are small with just a few colours but with a little imagination you can create lots of lovely designs on your child's face. I find face painting fun, so we both have fun together. 

Star, my 12 yr old daughter, has sensory issues with smell, she refuses to be face painted herself but also gets distressed when she is near a child with face paint because of the smell. She was fine with these face paints though because there was no odour at all. 

I think the little man will have lots more fun with these kits of face paint and I would consider buying more in the future...it will soon be halloween! 



Disclosure; I was sent The Weekend Box with Snazaroo face paints for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.




Family Fever

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

King Pong - Review and Give Away



We've been trying out this new game from Drumond Park, King Pong. My kids love games that they can all play together and especially ones that give them lots of giggles. I think King Pong is going to be a favourite.

Assembling the Game

Before you play you have to put the cube together. This is quite a simple task although it does help having two people to put the top on so all corners slot in together at the same time. As I was on my own at the time I did manage it myself but I could see how it would have been easier with two. You start with the base, assemble the trays, attach the two parts of the pyramid in the middle, plug in the window holders in each corner, slot in the windows and then place the lid on top. The balls are then placed into the trays ready for playing. The game comes with full illustrated instructions. If you are playing with only two players then you can block off the other two corners with the extra pieces provided. Similarly, you can block off just one side if you have three only three players.

The Rules

The rules of the game are quite simple. Using one hand only, bounce the balls into the cube through the holes in the window or the lid. The balls have to bounce in, and you cannot bounce them through any other players window.

Playing the Game

The starter shouts King Pong, or ready, steady, go, or 3, 2, 1, go...we tried them all and everyone at once starts bouncing their balls into the cube.
The object of the game is to empty your tray of all balls. If a ball drops on the floor the player who threw it must immediately go and pick it up before returning to the game. As you play you will get many balls coming back out into your tray, you need to get them all back in as soon as you can.


Winning

The aim of the game is to get rid of all your balls by bouncing them into the unit faster than they roll back out into your tray. When your tray is empty you close your pivoting door and if you are first to do so then you have won. 

Verdict

We found the game lots of fun and very energetic. You need to play on a hard surface so that the balls will bounce, but the balls do fly around a lot so be careful of losing them under the sofa, the tv cabinet, the coffee table or wherever. Because of the rule of picking up a ball as soon as it's dropped we found that they don't get lost because they are retrieved straight away. 
The girls, aged 10 and 12 picked it up really quickly and managed to get a lot of balls bouncing in and soon starting getting tactical. The Little Man, aged 7, had a little more difficulty so I can see why the game is rated 8+ years. He still had lots of fun though, and we found that we made a good team with me bouncing and him running around to pick the balls up.

And if you want a few laughs and ideas on how to handicap top players or enhance your game, take a look at this! Pimp My Pong, King Pong

Take a look at our little video and then see how you could win the game for yourself in our latest give away.




For more information and stockists please visit www.drumondpark.com

Now it's your chance to win a copy of this fabulous game, RRP £24.99. It would make a great Christmas Present!
Just a few little rules of entry:

Terms and Conditions

1. UK only (sorry)
2. Giveaway closes  10th October 2017
3. Entries will be validated according to the rules of entry
4. There is 1 prize of a King Pong game
5. The data of anyone that enters won’t be passed on to any third parties or used for any unsolicited marketing communications.
6. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook or any other social media.
7. The winner will be randomly chosen, and will be shown on this post, with further notifications may be shared on social media.
8. The winner will be notified via email, and will need to respond within 4 weeks otherwise a further winner will be drawn.
9. Prize will be sent out after receiving e-mail details via the supplier.
10.If the prize is not available an alternative may be sent of the same value.




a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: We were sent a game of King Pong for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.



Family Fever

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Keep on Hoping, Keep on Wishing but Most of all Keep on Believing

Last week I went to A&E because I really thought there was something wrong with  my heart. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest, crushing me and making it hard for me to breathe. I called my GP but I was told to go straight to A&E. I was given a red card on entry which meant I was seen straight away. They put me on a ECG monitor and checked me over. Then I was to wait to see a Doctor. As I was waiting over two hours I figured that they'd worked out that I was not having a heart attack.

I saw the Doctor and after lots of questions and further examination, and a consult with someone higher up the decision was that my pain was due to my condition, Stiff Person Syndrome. There was nothing they could do for me and I had to see my consultant for treatment. They couldn't contact my consultant so that's up to me, but I have an appointment in two weeks so I'm not sure they will see me any sooner.

For now I just have to deal with it an accept that this pain is yet another one I am going to have to get used to.

I also have been getting pain in my arms and hands, getting dressed has been really awkward. Again, I've been told it's due to my SPS which is progressing. I was affected from my waist down, now it's from my neck down. No, from my head down because I also get triginemal neuralgia which is another symptom of SPS and affects my face.

My first reaction to the news was to panic. I sobbed. I don't want it to progress so soon, I knew it would eventually but it's not even been two years yet. A lot of people with my condition (which is not a lot really because it's so rare) have died within three years. The positive side to this news (for me anyway) was that they were not diagnosed in time and did not receive the right treatment. I'm extremely lucky to have been diagnosed so quick, and there are treatments available, so I'm still hopeful. What I am worried about it my consultants lack of concern, he didn't even follow up to see how my last treatment (in June) went. I'm going to have to be firm with him when I see him next. I can no longer wait six months between appointments, if he's too busy to fit me in then I will see someone else.

So after my self pity, (I really don't want to lose my hands and arms, if my legs don't want to get better I'll deal with that but I can't lose my upper limbs, I just can't) I've decided that I'm going to bring out my fighting spirit. I've researched all the treatments that might work and I want to try them until I find one that does work. Of course, I would have to get the rarest form of an extremely rare condition, which means my consultant will have fight for the treatments, but I'm determined not to give in.

I also need to be pro-active. I have let my diet slip again and I do get lazy. Activity causes me pain, but if it's the only way to keep my body doing what I want it to do then I need to be more active. I will walk more, I'm thinking of getting some of those comfortable crutches that support the arm so they don't feel all the stress of holding me up. I have a friend who is great with alternative medication and although she's been having a rough time this year with her own issues, I think she's ready to start advising me again now. I am also in contact with other sufferers which helps a lot.

Sometimes I think that, you, my readers, get fed up of me harping on about my condition. But, this is my place and sometimes I just need to share. It makes me feel better, writing things down can be so cathartic and sharing my story may help someone else in the future. I know that reading another sufferers story as helped me, she's into her 16th year and it's been really rough for her, but now she has found the right treatment that works for her and is enjoying life again.

Just a couple of weeks ago my wish would have been to walk again. Now, that's just a dream, a bonus. My wish now is that I can stop this condition from continuing it's progression.


























One thing is for sure, I won't give up. I haven't tried half the treatments that are available yet, and as much as I despise the thought of being on medication for the rest of my life, if it gives me more life then I will take it. I have children who need me. My husband needs me. And I don't want them to be my carers I want to be the best I can and the only way to do that is to fight this illness and not let it get the better of me. It won't win, I will! 




School Runs and Shopping Trolleys


Debs Random Writings






Photo by crabtree on Unsplash
Photo by Alex Cagwin on Unsplash

My Sunday Photo 10th September 2017

An old fashioned yellow bike with a basket of yellow flowers outside a shop painted yellow


































This is a photo that Boo took for me when we were in Stratford-on-Avon last week. I loved the idea of a yellow bike with a basket of yellow flowers outside a yellow shop. It was quite eye catching.

And I know I've posted this before but here are some lovely flowers that my hubby snapped for me because I'd forgotten my phone when we went to the park. It's sad to think that summer is nearly over. I need flowers in my garden for next summer.

a flower bed of red, white and pink flowers




I pin My Sunday Photo pics I visit on my Pinterest Board. Please let me know if you wish your photo to be removed.



Photalife

Sunday Snap



Saturday, 9 September 2017

Biscuits, biscuits and biscuits.

I'm a big fan of The Great British Bake Off and bake along with it every year. This year it changed channels and I forgot it was on last week! I did manage to catch it on catch-up tv though but it was too late to bake along. This week again I missed it when it was on, it's just not a good time for me, but I recorded it to watch at leisure. I have to say, I'm enjoying the new show despite no Mary or Mel and Sue. After all, it's about the baking really. The only thing I would say is that it seems a lot more rushed as they have to fit everything in for the adverts. One good thing about catch-up or recording, you don't have to watch the adverts :)

This week it was biscuit week and for a long time now I've wanted to make Bourbons, but I guess I just didn't feel like it, so I handed the challenge over to the kids.

Star went for the cream challenge and she made a softer cookie dough for her biscuits and piped them into rounds before I cooked them for her. Then she filled them with chocolate butter cream. I think they turned out pretty good, even though they were not all exactly the same.

chocolate cream swirl biscuits




























Boo just wanted to do her own thing so she made a biscuit dough she could roll and cut out shapes from. She wanted to do different sized hearts but I couldn't find my pack of heart cutters, so she just chose shapes from the box. This is just a small selection of them after she'd piped icing on them.

biscuit shapes decorated with piped icing


































When I told the Little Man of the options he said he wanted to make a game. Mmmm a bit adventurous for a seven year old I think! Of course his favourite game at the moment is Mine Craft so he wanted to make Mine Craft biscuits. They had to be square to represent the blocks on Mine Craft. Then he decorated them himself, the middle biscuit is the player and the little ones around it are dirt blocks. I can't really explain it any clearer.

chocolate square biscuits with piped designs





































They had loads of fun with their baking and decorating, it was a great way to while away an afternoon. The biscuits all tasted pretty good too, especially as I just winged the recipe.

Next week it's bread week and I've been meaning to bake some bread for a while now so fingers crossed it will be me baking...although the kids will probably want to make some too!

If you want to see what other bloggers have been baking this week then please check out the GBBO blogger linky over on Mummy Mishaps blog.


Mummy Mishaps


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 me...is 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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