Creative Play

Gemma of My Mills Baby has challenged bloggers in association with Toyella to share the story behind an image of their children at creative play.

I have so many great memories of my children playing creatively, be it at home or out and about. They mostly go into their own imaginative world together using toys to make up their own stories or re-enact their favourite scenes from games, books or films. They build props out of bricks or lego and use teddies, playmobil people, moshi monsters, angry birds or other figures as the characters in their story. Meanwhile us adults are blanked out and we have to break in if we wish to communicate to the boys.

Difficult to choose just one photo, however with Halloween fast approaching I have decided to share a picture from this time last year. The boys are in costume enacting their own scary story, trapped in the spider web. Son1 is even pretending to eat bugs like a spider would. I don’t remember what happened next, but I am sure it would have been along the lines of being rescued by some of their toys.


So how do your children play creatively?

ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition hosted by My Mills Baby and sponsored by Toyella.

More crafting fun including a giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember my earlier reviews of docrafts kits. I’ve had fun making Christmas decorations and a Roald Dahl decoupage card previously. I have now received four more free products from docrafts to review.

crafting supplies

They are:-
Papermania Bare Basics – Kraft Gift Tags & Jute (contains 20) – RRP £2.50
Papermania Bare Basics – White Mini Cards & Envelopes (contains 3) – RRP £2.50
Papermania Chalk Craft – Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags (contains 10) – RRP £2.75
Papermania Chalk Craft – Chalkboard Stickers (contains 24) – RRP £3

My son is attending a joint birthday party for two of his school friends. So I decided to try two of the kits out to make a couple of attractive gift tags to label the birthday presents.

For the first one, using Kraft Gift Tags & Jute, I simply stuck some Ben 10 stickers onto the tag and threaded a length of the jute through the hole and wrote a message on the reverse. Great for the Ben 10 present inside.

Kraft Gift Tags & Jute

For the second one, using Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags, I grabbed some gold ribbon from my craft stash, tore it in half lengthways to make it thinner and threaded it through the hole and wrote part of the message in blue chalk on the chalkboard. I find chalk is quite clumsy to write with, so my writing was quite large for the size of the tag. This meant I didn’t have room to write all the message, so I wrote the rest on the reverse. I finished it off with a smiley sticker.

Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags

By now I had quite got into the theme of parcel labelling, so I decided to make a gift card using the White Mini Cards & Envelopes. These were a great size at 10.5 x 7cm. I stuck a selection of elephant stickers on both the card and envelope.

White Mini Cards & Envelopes

And finally I have a great plan for the Chalkboard Stickers. I’m going to make some lemon curd, but I need to get some jars first, so I will blog the recipe after it is made. Meanwhile I have prepared a sticker for one of the jars to show you.

Chalkboard Stickers

So I’ve used these all in very simple ways. But they could be incorporated into more ambitious projects. I’d love to hear what you would do with them?

These products are all brand new additions to the range and will be available in November from docrafts stockists.

These are all great basic crafting supplies. I was very impressed with the quality and I consider them mostly to be very good value. Although the White Mini Cards & Envelopes are slightly overpriced in my opinion, equating to 83p each.

The docrafts website has loads of creative inspiration for crafting projects, plus a wide range of products for sale. It also has a busy crafting forum. Do take a look.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway one of each of these four products courtesy of docrafts to one lucky winners.  A lovely prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here. Currently I have one open worldwide to win 1 of 3 copies of the book “Micah Seven Five” – a murder mystery.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A kids’ ski holiday wardrobe

Mark Warner are challenging bloggers to showcase their favourite kids’ ski holiday wardrobe. This challenge is in association with Polarn O. Pyret.

Neither I nor my boys have ever been ski-ing, so I took a look at the Polarn O. Pyret website to see what winter outerwear was in their range. And I was so impressed that I chose my whole wardrobe from Polarn O. Pyret. First up are the ski coat and trousers which I selected to keep the boys warm and dry. These are also padded, so may help with bumps if they fall over. And the reflective stripes will help keep them visible in the dark, post ski-ing. Then I’ve chosen matching thermal long johns and top as a base layer for extra warmth in the cold temperatures in the snow. And I know from my personal experience that ears hurt if they get very cold, so I chose a cosy balaclava hat. Also a pair of gloves to keep fingers warm. Now I don’t know if ski-boots come in kids sizes, but I couldn’t resist these wellies, as they match the balaclava perfectly. Polarn O. Pyret don’t stock ski-boots, but perhaps I should go and check some other stores.

So what would you choose?

Kids Ski Holiday Wardrobe

Kids Padded Ski Trousers
£70 –

Kids Padded Ski Coat
£95 –

Striped Thermal Kids Long Johns
£18 –

Striped Thermal Kids Top
£18 –

PO.P Stripe Kids Balaclava
£14 –

Winter Kids Gloves
£22 –

PO.P Classic Kids Wellies
£22 –

Mallzee – the personal stylist in your pocket

Like fashion shopping online and have an iPhone? Then you’ll love Mallzee. It is an app which is available free on iTunes and has over 2 million products from 100 big name fashion brands like ASOS, Topshop, River Island and Miss Selfridge. A fashion mall in your pocket! No need to spend ages going from website to website searching for that perfect item or best bargain. Fantastic for a busy lifestyle, as you can browse whenever you have a spare few minutes. Also works on iPad or iPod touch.


Swipe left to never see again


Swipe right to save

And Mallzee has just launched a new version. It now has functionality to share your fashion finds with friends. Also there is more menswear and some brand new fashion brands.

Super new features include:
– A totally interactive homepage full of cutting edge style inspiration from top fashion bloggers and stylists.
– Unique Style Feeds allowing users to create specific product searches. Simply set your requirements and watch the options roll in- even when you’re not using the app.
– Price drop alerts ensuring you never miss a bargain again. Simply save a product to be instantly notified if it drops in price.
– In-app clothes sharing via What’s App, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail allowing you to get a valuable second opinion from the friends who really matter.
– Speedier swiping to remove or save fashion finds.

So give it a whirl. It’s free to download. And don’t forget to tell me about your great fashion finds.

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the Mallzee Blogger Competition in association with and London College of Fashion.

Messy Kids

Both my boys can be very messy sometimes. We supposedly have a house rule to tidy up one toy before getting another out, but it is always ignored and the mess spreads from the playroom and their bedrooms to the rest of the house. And also I try to encourage them to put dirty clothes in the basket and to help clear the table after meals, but no it is usually me who ends up doing all that.

Toys everywhere

Toys everywhere!

And what about eating. Will they use knives and forks? Not if they can help it. So fingers get really sticky. Where do they wipe those sticky fingers? On napkins or kitchen roll – no of course not. They wipe them on their clothes. I’ve resorted to trying to insist they wear aprons at mealtimes at home. They tell me it is not cool to wear an apron, so I let them off if they have friends round. I’d quite happily ditch the aprons if they would use a napkin. I thought we would have left the messy eating phase behind years ago after we got past weaning.

Messy eating

Uh oh that sleeve is going to wipe across the side plate

Good job he wore an apron to eat

Good job he wore an apron to eat

They like to help bake sometimes which is great. But a big sigh from me afterwards as I try to clear up all the extra mess. Similar story when we have crafting sessions. I love their creativity, but it is hoover and cloth out for me to deal with the debris. And if they use bath crayons, it is me who has to clean it off.

Messy cooking

Messy cooking

Messy cooking

More messy cooking

Messy craft

Messy craft

Drawing on the bath

Drawing on the bath

Another niggle is why do they use non-washable pens at school. We have school shirts with black lines which don’t wash out.

And I hate these rainy autumn days right now as it means extra cleaning in the hall from all the leaves and pine needles etc that get walked into the house.  Thank goodness they do usually remember to take shoes off in the hall.

So tell me what mess your kids make?

Two Little Fleas


Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the “Messy Kids” Bloggers’ Competition hosted by Jen of The Mad House and sponsored by Two Little Fleas.

Fish pie

Britmums have challenged bloggers in partnership with the Potato Council to share their Maris Piper potato recipes. Potatoes are naturally fat free as well as a source of fibre and potassium and perfect for family-friendly meals. And Maris Piper is a great all-rounder for chips, roast potatoes or mash

Fish pie is always a favourite in our household. I vary which fish to include. Here is my recipe for a fish pie using salmon and Maris Piper potatoes, which has a lovely fluffy mash topping. A great meal for a healthy smile especially as salmon is a good source of vitamin D, which is critical to your oral health.

fish pie

Fish Pie

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

1kg Maris Piper potatoes
270g salmon
50g frozen sweetcorn
50g frozen peas
25g margarine
25g wholemeal flour
300ml milk
6 peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground bayleaf
1 shallot
knob of butter
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp pesto
30g grated cheddar


Preheat fan oven to 180 degree.
Peel and chop the potatoes.
Peel shallot.
Put potatoes in a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil.
Cook until potatoes are soft enough to mash.
Drain the potatoes.
Add knob of butter and tbsp of milk and then mash the potatoes.
Meanwhile add salmon, 300ml milk, peppercorns, bayleaf and shallot to another saucepan and gently heat for about 10 minutes.
Once salmon is cooked, lift out with a slotted spoon.
Remove skin and flake the fish.
Strain and reserve the liquor, discarding the peppercorns. (I usually save the shallot to eat with my portion).
Meanwhile melt the margarine in a jug in the microwave.
Stir in the flour.
Gradually stir in the liquor.
Return to the microwave and cook on high power.
Stir at 1 minute intervals until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the pesto.
Meanwhile put peas and sweetcorn in an ovenproof dish.
Add the flaked salmon.
Stir in the sauce.
Cover with the mashed potato.
Sprinkle grated cheddar on the top.
Cook for about 20 minutes in pre-heated oven (180 degree for fan oven)
Serve and enjoy.

fish pie

This post is an entry for the #FluffyMarisPiper Linky Challenge sponsored by Potato Council. Learn more at

And I’m also entering it into the Simply Health Healthy Smile competition. See which foods to eat and which to avoid for a healthy smile here.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Link up your recipe of the week

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Those little #MorningWin moments

I’m participating in the Britmums belVita #MorningWin Challenge.  This Challenge is in partnership with belVita Breakfast biscuits, which I received three packets free to try. I also received a surprise Costa giftcard, so I can buy a nice coffee to have with my belVita. It is the second time I have participated in a Britmums belVita challenge, having done their #MorningStories challenge earlier this year.

belVita breakfast

I have three types of early morning routine. The first is when I’m working early shift and leave home at 6:15am without time for breakfast, before the rest of the household is awake. So belVita would be great for me to take eat when I arrive at work. The second is when I have to get the boys to the bus-stop on time, otherwise they will miss their school buses. Usually we are in a big rush on these mornings, so again belVita could come in handy. And the third is at weekends when I can enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast.

So my #MorningWin moments on my early starts are finding the traffic not quite as bad as anticipated in the bottleneck parts of the journey. Perhaps arriving at the office early enough to nip into the nearby petrol station to fill up before work rather than after when I’m again in a rush for school pick-up. And then in the office finding a spare five minutes to grab breakfast, rather than suddenly realising it is lunchtime without having eaten. Or at the right time of the year, seeing some fantastic sunrises.

And my #MorningWin times on other days come when I’m back home after getting the boys on to the bus. First is not finding something that they have forgotten to take to school. And next is after getting through the chores quickly and having time to sit down and check my emails.

But my best #MorningWin moments are on days when there is no rush. The pleasure of being able to have a lie-in and maybe a long soak in the bath.


belVita are proven to slowly release carbohydrates over four hours as part of a balanced breakfast. They contain at least five wholegrains, are rich in cereals, are a source of fibre and contain a selection of vitamins. They are recommended to be eaten as part of a balanced breakfast, along with a portion of fruit, a portion of dairy and a drink. We followed this guideline, but again like last time, I felt hungry much sooner than 4 hours. But it is just me, as they do satisfy the boys.


The three flavours we received this time were apricot, choc chips and hazelnuts. They are new additions to the belVita range. We all agreed that they were very tasty. I’ll certainly be looking out for these in the supermarket.

Son1 also spotted that there are now 3 biscuits in each pack compared to 4 previously. But on checking the box, the packs are the same weight, so the biscuits must be larger.

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation Charity Campaign

Dettol Baby Blanket

Rachel Stevens, celebrity mum of two and new ambassador of Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser, launched the Dettol Baby Blanket Donation charity campaign, by donating the first blanket to the cause.

Dettol Baby Blanket

The Dettol Baby Blanket Donation aims to promote the dangers of bacteria on blankets and highlight the shortage of baby blankets available to infants born to disadvantaged families.

Dettol and Rachel are encouraging mums across the UK to “keep the memories, not the bacteria” by donating a blanket via Freepost and sharing their special recollections and photographs of their babies’ blanket on social media. Once collected, the baby blankets will be hygienically washed with Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser before being re-distributed by Dettol to families in need. Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser has also pledged to donate £1 for every blanket collected to children’s medical research charity, Sparks, to raise much needed funds for UK families with children who are affected by serious illness or disability.


Every minute of every day, approximately 50 babies are born into poverty and will experience conditions lacking basic essentials including hygienically clean blankets. Poor hygiene conditions can contribute to illnesses such as diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.

Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol – on washed blankets donated by volunteer mums – show that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40°C wash with a third of the washed blankets harbouring coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces. Dettol is hoping to raise awareness of this research as well as donate much needed funds to support children’s health.

Let me #sharethememories of the baby blankets that kept my boys warm and cosy when they were tiny. My mum gave them to me saying that she had made them when she was expecting me, so they have stood the test of time. They were beautiful designs and I passed them onto my sister who is still using them. Here are a couple of photos of son1 as a baby with the blankets.

son1 baby blanket

son1 baby blanket

Blanket donations will be collected until the end of December. Memories can be shared on Twitter with @DettolBlanket #sharethememories or on Dettol’s Mission for Health Facebook page. For full details on how to donate please visit

Blankets can be donated via Freepost (no stamp required) to:
Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
The Hay Loft
Balcombe Place Stables
RH17 6AZ

Disclosure. I will be receiving free Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser after my post is published. All opinions are my own.


I love the idea of upcycling however I am not very skilled at DIY. So when I saw the upcycling competition being run by Claireabellemakes in association with Able Skills, I initially was stumped as to what to blog about. Claire has made a Metallic Desk Tidy which visually reminded me of the Desk Tidy I made as a child for my dad out of loo roll tubes. He used it for years. None of my current craft projects are upcycled, although the boys sometimes make models from old junk. I have kept some tiles, with the idea of using them in a mosaic, but that is unstarted.

junk modelling

Then I had a great idea to show you photos of the extra shelves in my wardrobe and cupboard. I use these for shoe storage and cd’s respectively. Please excuse the mess in the cupboard. It is in the boxroom and is where I hide anything I don’t know where else to put. The shelves are home-made from pieces of chipboard I think. I admit I didn’t make them myself. They were already in the house when we moved in.

shoe storage

cd storage

But I am on the lookout for something old and unloved that I can upcycle into a planter for my garden. Maybe an old bath perhaps. I was very taken by the idea of using old boats as flowerbeds that I saw in the summer and blogged about here. In our garden at our previous home, we used old railway sleepers to edge the flower beds.

Micah Seven Five – book review and giveaway (open worldwide)

I received a free copy of the book “Micah Seven Five” by Howard Robinson in Kindle format to review. This book is published by Inspired Quill.

Micah Seven Five

This book is a murder mystery with a twist as it also follows the issues going on in the personal life of the investigating police officer Detective Inspector Jack Munday.  An unnamed corpse is dumped outside a local charity shop in a bin bag amongst the charity bag donations. I really enjoyed reading this but I don’t want to give the plot away, so won’t say too much.

Set in the capital shortly after the Lloyd’s insurance crash, Micah Seven Five follows Detective Jack Munday’s hunt for a killer among the corrupt elite. Far from innocent himself, however, Munday must confront his own demons if he is to have any chance of finding his man. As he struggles to separate his ever-entangled professional and personal lives, he uncovers the terrible past of an unlikely group of acquaintances. Aimed primarily at lovers of crime fiction, Micah Seven Five takes a long hard look at the nature of friendship, and the motivations that blow it apart.

It is the second book by Howard Robinson. To find out more about the author you may visit his corner of the internet at

Although the boys have read a few e-books, this is the first time I’ve read an e-book rather than a paper copy. I borrowed my other half’s ipad and found it very simple to download onto the Kindle app. It is also very easy to bookmark the page you’ve read up to. Initially it took me a couple of days to work out where I had stored it on Kindle, resorting to re-downloading each time I wished to read a few more pages. But then the penny dropped. I had only been looking at the titles stored on Cloud. A quick click and I found my e-book on the book shelf.

And best of all, I could zoom to a large font and clearly read the book. I was really struggling last month to read the paperbacks I took on holiday. I’ve always been short-sighted, but I’m now starting to lose my near vision. I need to decide whether the way forward is reading glasses in addition to continuing to wear my contact lenses or to give up with lenses and swap to bi-focal glasses.

Micah Seven Five

This book is available on Amazon at £7.99 in paperback or £3.55 for the Kindle edition. Well worth a read in my opinion.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of this book to one lucky winner plus e-book versions to two more winners. So three prize winners in total. This giveaway is open worldwide, but only UK residents may win the paperback copy. Anyone may win the e-book versions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter. And come back and tweet about the giveaway every day for more chances to win!

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.