Are you sitting comfortably including giveaway?

I’ve received a very attractive cushion, free to review from Evans Lichfield. It was a surprise as to which one they would choose from their wide selection and I was delighted to receive a gorgeous pheasant design from their country range.

Evans Lichfield Pheasant Cushion

It is very comfortable and now I’m just wondering where they have installed a secret camera here, as it compliments my lounge furniture beautifully.

This cushion measures 43cm by 33 cm and has a nice tartan pattern on the reverse for when you fancy a change of style. The fabric is dry-clean only and it has been handmade in England. The current RRP for this design of cushion is £19.99 and you may check Evans Lichfield website for stockists. A great value item in my opinion to purchase either for yourself or as a gift.

Evans Lichfield Pheasant Cushion

You may also purchase matching fabric in a 140cm width in this design if you fancy making your own home furnishings. The design is also available in canvas wall art, tea towels and tote bags.

Evans Lichfield is a British family run home furnishings business that has been going since 1988. They work with a host of in-house artists as well as British artists to create their designs, with a host of products available including cushions, canvas wall-art and fabric-by-the-metre. You can view their whole collection on their website. There are loads of lovely designs for lounges and bedrooms.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a pheasant cushion courtesy of Evans Lichfield to one lucky winner.comper friendly badge

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear how you use cushions to enhance your home.

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

Cheesy Chicken Breasts plus Primula cheese giveaway

Hope some of you have enjoyed trying out my Primula Summer side dish recipes that I posted last month.

And now it is time to share another Primula recipe along with a giveaway.

The boys love shop-bought chicken kievs, so I’ve been experimenting with my own stuffed chicken breast recipes. Not only have I tried with homemade garlic butter, but also with homemade pesto and now with Primula.

Cheesy Chicken Breasts

Cheesy Chicken Breasts

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
Approx 40g tube of Primula with Ham

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Cut a slot in each chicken breast.
Squeeze Primula into each slot.
Wrap each chicken breast individually in foil.
Place on a baking tray and cook for 25-35 minutes.
Serve with your choice of vegetables and enjoy.

Cheesy Chicken Breasts

A very simple tasty meal which the boys gave the thumbs up for.

A 150g tube of Primula cheese currently retails at £1.45 at Tesco for all flavours which I believe is a fairly consistent price with other cheese spreads. It contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

And if you wish to see more Primula recipes, you may check out my Easter or Christmas recipes.

Primula cheese

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 5 tubes of Primula Cheese to 2 lucky winners. Each winner will receive 1 tube of each of the following flavours – Primula original, light, with chives, with prawn and with ham.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your ideas for a recipe using Primula.

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Disclosure.  Although I have received free Primula products previously, I did not receive any for this particular post. All opinions are my own.

Where’s Wally – book review and giveaway

Where’s Wally is a favourite in my household. There is even a picture on the ceiling to occupy the boys’ attention when visiting the dentist. So we were very pleased to receive a selection of Where’s Wally books by Martin Handford free to review.

Where's Wally

The books we received were as follows:-
Where’s Wally? In Outer Space: Activity Book – available on Amazon, currently priced on Amazon at the RRP £5.99
Where’s Wally? Across Lands: Activity Book – available on Amazon, currently priced on Amazon at the RRP £5.99
Where’s Wally? The Colouring Book – available on Amazon, currently priced on Amazon at £4.99 compared to a RRP of £8.99

Son1 chose the Across Lands activity book whilst son2 chose the In Outer Space activity book. They preferred these over the colouring book as they are more into drawing their own pictures than colouring in. But you never know, I may give the colouring a go myself, as I hear it is all the rage for adults these days.

Where's Wally

Son1 has started his book and is having great fun whilst son2 is saving his for our summer holiday. These lovely 24 page children’s activity books are published by Walker books and are packed with loads to do, plus include 100+ stickers. Meanwhile the colouring book has almost 3 times as many pages, so would certainly keep any child very busy. They will all be great for long car journeys and for rainy summer days. I can definitely recommend all 3 books.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of all 3 Where’s Wally books to one lucky winner.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite books.

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

Mumsnet Book Club review – The Fire Child by S. K. Tremayne

I have received another book from the Mumsnet Book Club free to review. It is The Fire Child by S.K Tremayne.

The Fire Child

This is what it says inside the front cover.

It only took six words to shatter her dreams…

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

I was really pleased to receive this book as I had seen so many great reviews of S.K. Tremayne’s debut novel The Ice Twins. Even the cover image gets you wondering. And it didn’t let me down. A really gripping read with a great pace and an unexpected ending.

Rachel is newly married to wealthy lawyer David and is starting to discover her new home, Carnhallow which has been in David’s family for generations along with several old Cornish mines, one of which David’s first wife Nina tragically died in. Carnhallow is huge with 2 wings, cellars and 18 bedrooms. Rachel is also getting to know her new family, Jamie her stepson and David’s mother Juliet who is suffering from the first signs of dementia and living in a self-contained adjoining apartment. Plus there is Cassie, the live-in help.

Jamie tells Rachel of his dreams. First he has seen a hare and Rachel with blood on her hands. A couple of weeks later in dreadful weather, Rachel is driving home and hits an animal. She gets out and picks up the animal which dies in her hands. It is a hare. This is the first of Jamie’s scary predictions to come true. Some of what Jamie says about his mother starts Rachel researching Nina’s death. Everything starts spiralling onward. Are they haunted by Nina’s ghost or is Nina really dead at all? You’ll have to read it to find out more.

The Fire Child is by S.K Tremayne and is published by Harper Collins. The hardback edition is currently on sale on Amazon for £6.00 compared to an RRP of £12.99. It is also available in kindle format and will be released in paperback early next year. I highly recommend this book.

I have previously read the following books from the Mumsnet Book Club.
Noonday by Pat Barker
Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Coming Home by Annabel Kantaria
Fallout by Sadie Jones
Falling by Emma Kavanagh
The Girl Who Just Appeared by Jonathan Harvey

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

What Makes Children Smile

Research has revealed it’s still the simple pleasures in life that make our children smile. Forget technology – pulling silly faces (44%), reading stories (28%) and playing hide and seek (27%) remain the best and simplest ways of putting a smile on a child’s face, said the survey of 1,000 parents and children.

The research commissioned by Wrigley’s Extra®, spoke to children and their parents about what makes them smile to mark the launch of its own storybook, The Lost Smile.

Joseph Coelho, author of The Lost Smile said: “It’s so exciting to hear from the research that a simple bedtime story is still so meaningful to children. Children give smiles so easily and yet as grown-ups, the pressures of modern life can stop the smiles from happening. This book is a simple nudge to parents to smile. You smile and the world smiles back. So it’s critical that we protect those smiles.”

The monies raised from sale of the book will go towards Wrigley’s Extra Smile Back Project which aims to protect children’s smiles by donating money for every pack of Wrigley’s Extra and every storybook sold to its chosen charity partner, Action for Children. This will fund the creation of oral healthcare workshops for families across the UK, benefitting more than 10,000 children and 5,000 parents in its first year.

The Lost Smile

So when I was offered the chance to review a free copy of The Lost Smile, I knew it was only right for me to read it out loud to both the boys as a bedtime story, and watch them smile too. I do make sure they have regular check-ups at the dentist, but for information on how to protect your family’s smiles and how you can support the Smile Back Project through the purchase of The Lost Smile, visit www.smileback.wrigley.co.uk.

This is what it says on the back cover.

Kyle’s family have lost their smiles.
Kyle decides to find them.
Using a magnifying glass, a toothbrush
and a pair of sunglasses he begins his search.

Join Kyle as he uncovers giggles,
brushes up grins and learns
how to make the world smile.

This book certainly got us smiling and I recommend you buy a copy. But I have to say unlike in the survey, lack of technology can remove the boys smiles. I certainly get some cross faces from them both, if I say they have had enough screen-time. However a story soon makes them forget and their smiles return.

The Lost Smile

The Lost Smile can be purchased online currently at £4.99 and all funds raised through its sale will go towards supporting the work of Action for Children and the Oral Health Foundation. A nice read in my opinion, plus the bonus of supporting good causes. There will be a minimum £1 donation per book.

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite books.

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

Glitter Jelly including giveaway

Ask children what their favourite food is and one of the answers is likely to be wibbly wobbly jelly. So I was pleased to be offered some free glitter jelly to review from Hartley’s.

Hartley's Glitter Jelly

In addition to 2 packs of mixed berry glitter Jelly, I also received a jelly mould, some party hats, wands and ribbons.

I hadn’t come across glitter jelly before, so I was intrigued as to how glittery it would look. I decided to use one pack to make a fruity jelly using fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. When I made up the jelly, I was surprised to find that it was also blue. I should have guessed from the packet. I’ve never seen a blue jelly before, but the boys were delighted by the colour.

Hartley's Glitter Jelly

It tasted very pleasant and I think I’ll use the other packet to make a mousse,

And in answer to how glittery it is, well it looks like lots of tiny bubbles within the jelly.

Yummy Hartley's Jelly

Hartley’s glitter jelly also comes in two other flavours – strawberry and raspberry and is available from most supermarkets. It is currently priced at around 75p for a 100g packet, so slightly more than a traditional packet of cube jelly. But definitely worth a buy.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a jelly party pack courtesy of Hartley’s to 1 lucky winner. The pack will comprise of 2 sachets of jelly, a jelly mould, 2 wands and 2 party hats.comper friendly badge

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what jelly recipes you make.

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

Confessions of a Summer Parent

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take part in #The GoodStuff Challenge. This challenge is in partnership with Anchor, so I received a free Anchor Cheddar voucher and a free Anchor Spreadable voucher.

The long school summer holiday is quickly looming, so I’m going to share some of my confessions of how I plan to get through it.

Since I work full-time, I will only be able to take part of the period on leave, so will cover the remainder by the boys spend some time staying in their grandparents caravan and the rest at holiday club.

I have negotiated a few days to work at home plus there are the days that I’m on night shift, so for these I will let the boys have much more screen time than their usual allowance, in order that it is quiet enough for me to either work or get enough sleep. It is great that they are now old enough for this option..

on the trampoline

We will hopefully have some proper days out, but in-between, I tend to let them entertain themselves in the garden on the trampoline or with water toys, while I get on with chores.

Also we often visit one of the local playgrounds. Whilst they play, I’m usually on my phone catching up on email.

at the park

I used to look for children’s colouring competitions and have those printed out ready for a rainy day, but unlikely to bother this summer. Although the boys still love doing their own drawing, colouring is apparently now boring.

And this summer, I’m going to add a new confession. Once I’ve used my vouchers to purchase some Anchor, I’m going to ask the boys to make some cheese sandwiches for either a picnic or we could make a den in the garden and eat them in the den.

So how do you get through the long summer holiday?

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor and mentions vouchers I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

Robert Hood by John Hickling

I have received a free e-copy of the book “Champagne & Lemonade” by John Hickling to review. This is a collection of short stories, which is published today.

Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling

Here is the book blurb.

Champagne & Lemonade is a delightful collection of eclectic short stories, taking readers on a journey to different times and places, meeting a sparkling cast of well-drawn characters. 
Nibble the fish is desperate to escape his boring old pond.
A new breed of super hero has been born and his name is Bob Cheesecake.
Dumpton Hospital’s staff have a somewhat unconventional approach to looking after their patients.
Robert Hood is on a mission to save modern England.
And just who is the vampire terrorising the neighbourhood from his home at 113A Greenstone Street?
From the quixotic to the poignant, John A. D. Hickling’s wild and whimsical tales fizz with fun and are sure to entertain almost everyone!

I’ve read the other stories but my review focuses on the story of Robert Hood. I’m going to start by naming some of the other characters – John Prince the Prime Minister, Ian Sheriff the MP of Nottingham and his niece Marion, Robert’s mates Adam Dale and Bill Scarlett, big guy Donald Little and vicar Frank Tuck. Have you guessed yet? Yes it is a modern story set in 2015 based on the classic Robin Hood.

John Prince has abolished the benefits system and locked up the Royal Family. No one could stand up to Prince and those that tried quickly disappeared. If you didn’t join his army, you soon became homeless, while the rich got richer. You know what’s coming don’t you? Yes, Robert Hood, an ex-Marine living in Nottingham, who cared about his fellow men.

I found this a refreshing take on a classic and really enjoyed it. Even though a short story, all the characters were well developed.


Here’s a very short extract from Robert Hood to tempt you.

Modern life was in danger of being cast back to the dark ages under the corrupt leadership of the Prime Minister John Prince.

With his job gone and the dire situation England was in he found himself wondering where his destiny would now lie. He didn’t realize that soon England’s destiny would be in his hands. This man was Robert Hood.


About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing July 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com or find John on Facebook.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling

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

Capture the Flag

We had great fun last weekend playing “Capture The Flag”. This is an outdoor team game based on the game played at Camp Half-Blood in “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief “by Rick Riordan. Son1 has played this game at school previously although with different rules. However it was totally new to son2, so before we started, he read out what we needed to do.

Capture The Flag

Ideally you need 8 or people divided into two teams. We had to make do with the 4 of us, topped up with cuddly toys. You also need 2 flags and a big open space divided into 2 territories. The object of the game is to capture the opposing team’s flag, but if you are tagged in the opposition’s territory, you get put in their prison and can only be freed by a teammate tagging you. Quite challenging with our limited numbers.

IMG_5048

Capture The Flag

Son2 came up with the additional idea of team names so the boys team was the Awesome Ozzies and mum and dad’s team was the Poseidon Pirates.

IMG_5046 IMG_5047
We positioned our flags in secret locations within our territory and then the game began. Dad was quickly captured and sent to the boys’ trampoline prison. Mum did manage to rescue him once but he soon ended up back there again and this time son2 was on patrol.

IMG_5042

Meanwhile mum had guessed that son1 was guarding the area where their flag was hidden, but every time she tried to sneak up for a look, she was foiled by the gravel crunching underfoot. The boys were more concerned with guarding Dad and their own flag than coming to search our territory apart from tiny border taunts. This was looking like stalemate with Mum getting exhausted from running back and forth numerous times between the front garden where son1 was and the back garden where son2 and an imprisoned Dad were.

Capture The Flag
So Mum valiantly succeeded in rescuing Dad, then drawing son2 to tag her instead leaving Dad free to run. Actually a very welcome rest for a tired Mum. Within 2 minutes, Dad had done a deal and son1 returned triumphantly with both flags.

IMG_5045

The Percy Jackson series of books are written by Rick Riordan and published by Puffin. The latest book in the series is The Hidden Oracle which is book1 of The Trials of Apollo and it is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.49 in hardback compared to an RRP of £12.99. It is also available in Kindle format. Son1 is looking forward to receiving a free copy of this Percy Jackson book.

How about trying out a game of Capture The Flag yourself or some of the fun activities on the website of the author Rick Riordan.

trials of apollo

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of The Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle and a Capture The Flag t-shirt to 1 lucky winner.comper friendly badge

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite books or outdoor games.

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Disclosure. This post mentions a book that I will be sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Reflecting on 3+ years of chemotherapy plus giveaway

As I finally begin to count down the very last week of son1’s chemotherapy, I’ve been reflecting back over all the necessary medical nasties that he has had to endure over the last 3+ years. The most traumatic for him was the psychological impact of repeated failures on cannula insertion. Poor boy was like a pin cushion and he still had to go through this occasionally after his port implant, if multiple drugs needed to be administered intravenously at the same time. He developed a phobia against everyone who worked at the hospital, be they doctor, nurse or even cleaner, as he associated them all with wanting to hurt him.

My cheeky chap now

My cheeky chap now sporting the latest fashion trend – wear a cushion on your head!

Whilst at the hospital on Monday, we went to collect his latest Beads of Courage from the play specialist. But as usual he refused to go in the playroom. I had to get them for him. Although a fantastic room for the children, it has too many negative associations of being attached to a drip when there as an in-patient for him.

He will shortly be going on a waiting list to have his port removed, probably in the autumn. And although this is a huge bonus in terms of less risk of possible infection, plus he will be able to start participating in contact sports, I do worry how he will cope with needles in the future, especially as I know that all his vaccinations since babyhood need to be repeated next year.

And he does amazingly well with swallowing pills. I know I couldn’t swallow a pill at his age, but he soon worked out that the liquid medication was much worse.  On average he now takes about 40 pills a week and he is so looking forward to that reducing to 4 pills in a week’s time once chemotherapy finishes.

When he needed his first blood transfusion, we discovered that he is allergic to platelets, so the poor poppet was itching away whilst waiting for anti-histamine to take effect.

Brotherly cuddles

Brotherly cuddles back in August 2013 when son1 was just starting to lose his hair

Also there are all the side effects he has to cope with. Hair loss is the one that everyone else saw. When he was hairless, strangers would stop me in the street and ask how he was doing. Thank you so much for your concern. It was very touching. He hates having his hair cut now, again psychological. But as a mum, I’ve seen all the other side effects – pain, sickness, constipation, loss of appetite, over-eating, mood swings and lack of concentration. Of course we were offered more medication like strong painkillers, anti-sickness pills and a vile tasting Movicol laxative drink.

Life will certainly be simpler once I can buy over-the-counter remedies for him without having to consult with the hospital as to what is suitable or not for everyday ailments like hayfever and veruccas. The same applies to some foods. If it is a bio yogurt, back on the supermarket shelf it currently goes.


The first thing to throw out will be the big box of Movicol sachets. I’m sure when next needed we can find something more pleasant, if tummy massage doesn’t do the trick.

Perhaps Docusol Paediatric Solution which is indicated for the effective and gentle relief of constipation in children and babies over six months.  It is a strawberry flavoured liquid oral solution containing docusate sodium.  Docusate sodium acts as a dual action constipation treatment that helps to makes stools softer and easier to pass by increasing absorption of water and fats and also acts as a gentle stimulant.

I did giggle when I watched the Docusol ‘Make a Nappy Happy’ campaign. Take a look at their fun video.

Docusol Paediatric Solution is available in 125ml bottles, currently retailing at £7.99 from pharmacies. It is reputed to get to work within one to three days.
Win Docusol Travel Changing Mat

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a baby travel changing mat courtesy of Docusol to 2 lucky winners.comper friendly badge

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

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Disclosure.  Although I am hosting this giveaway, I have not received any products.  All opinions are my own.