Category Archives: family

Snappertime

We were invited to take a look at the Snappertime website for fun screen-free activities for the boys to try during the school holiday. And we also received a free welcome pack when we registered on the site.

I registered one joint account for the boys but with hindsight, it would be better to register each child individually. The boys and I had a quick browse around some of the challenges which are spread across five categories, namely Super Science, Great Outdoors, Tasty Tasks, Arty Farty and Super Hero. And they had fun designing their Doodlebot. We then waited for the welcome pack to arrive so that we could get started on challenges, but disappointingly it took ages, over 5 weeks. By this time, the boys had cooled off somewhat.

Snappertime

The welcome pack comprised the following goodies:-
A selection of Snappertime Challenge cards
Stickers
Certificate
Pencil
Fridge Magnet
Snacks

Son1 opted to try the Soap Ships Challenge detailed on one of the cards in the welcome pack. This was very simple. He cut out a small house shape from card, added a cocktail stick mast and a small black sail, since son1 said it was a pirate ship for their pirate Doodlebot. The challenge didn’t say how to fix the mast to the boat, so we used blu-tack. Then he launched his boat in the water tray and was amazed how quickly it sailed with the addition of a drop of washing-up liquid. He did discover that it easily sank when pushed under the water, but if he waited for it to dry, he could then sail it again.

Snappertime Soap Ships Challenge

Meanwhile son2 being a huge Doctor Who fan, chose the Time Lord Challenge. This was to design his very own papier mâché planet. The first step of printing the template sounded simple, but it was not sized to fit a page, so I had to mess around with my print settings to get a copy that son2 was happy with. He then sketched out his design, telling me that pink was sand etc. The challenge suggested using PVA glue when making the papier mâché, but I knew we didn’t have enough, so I showed son2 how to make his own paste from flour and water instead. He loved the messiness of this phase which took several days as we let it dry overnight between layers. And finally he painted it to match his design. He didn’t bother with the suggestion of adding a planetary ring.

Snappertime Doctor Who planet

Both of these are from the Super Science category. Afterwards we uploaded photos of their projects for them to earn a DoodleCoin each. And once you have 8 coins, you can claim a free reward. There is a great selection of rewards to choose from, some of which are worth upto £25, most are for free, although a few request £5 postage.

Snappertime

I would definitely recommend you sign your children up for this fab website with its great freebies. So much fun.

I’d love to hear what screen-free activities your children enjoy.

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Disclosure.  This post mentions some goodies I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Learning Success plus giveaway

Son1 has had memory and concentration issues and is very slow with his schoolwork since undergoing chemotherapy, but is very bright at maths. He also has to attend an extra handwriting lesson weekly, plus use an ergonomic pen and occasionally has one-to-one sessions with the special needs teacher. Meanwhile son2 seems to take everything absolutely literally and have some social difficulties. So I was quite interested to find out more when Learning Success approached me to test out their Learning System for free.

Learning Success System

When I read their blog, I found out that the Learning Success System is a simple method parents can use to help children overcome learning difficulties. It simplifies the process and enables a parent to work at home with their child.

They say that the Learning Success System is:
• Convenient for both children and parents
• Minimizes high costs of learning centres
• Uses cutting edge neuroscience research

Their learning strategy is divided into three parts.

Strategy 1 – Calm the emotions
Strategy 2 – Incorporate the Body
Strategy 3 – Build up the Fundamental Skills of Learning

Statistics show that at least 20% of children suffer with some sort of learning difficulty. This could be with reading, writing or maths. Learning Success offer analysis of what symptoms your child exhibits.

Once I signed up, I received daily emails with exercise suggestions. I also had access to the Learning Success System portal where I can find the full range of exercises and can sort by type. There are member forums where I can seek expert advice or interact with other parents. It also focusses on what you need to do as a parent, such as praising your child for effort.

The boys were quite engrossed in some of the on-screen exercises like tapping where each smiley appeared or shouting out what a picture would be when it starts as a dotted outline and gradually more appears. Some of the other exercises do additionally require you to source the materials, so I adapted a letters memory game to be based on numbers and used playing cards. You start with 2 pairs face down and see how many turns it takes to find the matching pairs. Then you gradually add an extra pair every round. The boys loved taking turns at this and we went upto 13 pairs.

Memory number game

Memory number game

It is too early for me to identify any difference in my sons but I shall continue doing some of the exercises with them. I haven’t managed to get into a routine with this yet.

The Learning System is currently available for either a one-off payment of $297 or 12 monthly payments of $49 with a 90 day money back guarantee. The monthly payment option can be cancelled at any time. I’ve checked the exchange rate and these figures equate to about £230 or £38 at present, so quite expensive in my opinion. But for some, it may be a well worth while investment and really make a difference to a member of your family.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway access to the Learning Success System portal to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.
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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 top learning tips.

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

Boggle – National Board Games Week

Did you know that 8th-14th May is National Board Games Week 2017? For the second year running, Pork Farms have been hosting National Board Games Championships in micropubs across Britain with the grand final to be held at BeerheadZ Grantham on May 13th. Contestants have been battling it out at Boggle, Taboo, Monopoly, Jenga and Trivial Pursuit 2000s.

And families can get involved from home by downloading a free printable pack from Pork Farms website to help them plan a board games activity night, and then share a photo of their evening on social media for the chance to win a stack of board games and a year’s supply of Pork Farms pork pies.

We love playing games as a family, so we were very pleased to be offered the chance to choose one of the five Hasbro games for free. We opted for Boggle.

Boggle
We had great fun playing this. We adapted the rules slightly so that the boys could score for all their words, whilst the adults had to stick to the proper rule of only scoring for those words that nobody else spotted.

Playing Boggle

The boys loved shaking the letters too.

Such a quick fun game. You can opt for a set number of rounds or first to a pre-specified number of points.

Playing Boggle

A dictionary was required to verify some of the more dubious word suggestions.

Playing Boggle

I’ve always loved the taking part element and remember fun time spent one lunchtime every week at my first job playing board games. One of my colleagues owned enough games to fill a whole wardrobe sized cupboard and would bring a different selection into the office each time. I think that was my first introduction to Taboo, one of the games mentioned above.

Both boys belong to Chess Club at school and son1 has qualified for the county Megafinal again.

Is there a game you would like to play? I’ve got Ticket To Ride on my games wishlist after trying it out at a café last year.

And I’m looking forward to attending the Board Games Championship Bloggers Event on May 6th. Watch out for my post on that afterwards.

I’d love to hear your favourite board games or your best memories of playing games. Son1 likes the Harry Potter version of Cluedo best whilst the Doctor Who board game is son2’s favourite.

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

Turning tears into smiles

Britmums have challenged bloggers to participate in the #TearsIntoSmiles Campaign. I received two free packets of Elastoplast plasters and a garden ring toss set. We already have a quoits set and the boys have come up with the idea that they can both play simultaneously now.

Elastoplast challenge

Regular readers of my blog will know that son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2013 and was on chemotherapy for over 3 years which he completed last summer. During that period he had a weekly blood test for which we tried to numb the pain sensation by applying Emla cream an hour in advance. We then had to talk soothingly to him whilst he removed the large sticky dressing holding it in place. He would never let anyone else take it off. So by the time the blood test was completed, he had had enough of anything adhesive and my brave boy would always refuse a plaster.

But at least now son1 has finished chemotherapy and had his portacath removed, we can enjoy outdoor play so much more, without the worry of bumps and tumbles. So he now can join in with his classmates playing rugby and he has done his Bikeability. He’s slowly building his stamina back up again.

Playing Quoits

Meanwhile son2 is usually distracted by a picture on a plaster whenever there is a scrape or a cut. Luckily we didn’t need any first aid on this occasion, but he likes the look of the Star Wars pack. Both my boys are keen Star Wars fans. However he has declared that we can give the Frozen pack to my niece. I wish there had been pictures on plasters when I was a child. What a clever innovative step forwards.

Elastoplast challenge

So my top tip for happy outdoor play in the event of tears, besides remembering to pack the plasters and rest of my mini first aid kit in my bag before we head out for some fun is distraction. This could be pointing out nice things nearby, telling a fun tale, singing a song, promising a treat or finding something your child will want from your bag like a biscuit or toy. Don’t forget to follow through if you make a promise. Hugs and cuddles used to be good too, but sadly the boys are now getting to the stage of rebuffing me, if I try to give them a hug.

I’d love to hear how you turn tears into smiles?

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the Britmums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast http://campaigns.elastoplast.net/plastermoments/uk. This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

When it was my turn for baking and serving at the teahouse, I decided to make a couple of Lemon Drizzle Cakes as half of my contribution.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

200g margarine
200g caster sugar
2 lemons
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
milk to mix (optional)
75g granulated sugar

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 deg C.
Line a 21 x 8cm loaf tin.
Grate the zest from the lemons.
Cream margarine and caster sugar together.
Mix in lemon zest.
Beat the eggs in a jug.
Gradually beat in the egg.
Fold in the flour.
The mixture should be a dropping consistency. If it is too stiff, add a little milk to mix.
Spoon into prepared tin.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 45-50 minutes.
Test with a skewer. It will come out clean when the cake is ready.
Leave in tin.
Meanwhile squeeze the lemons.
Mix granulated sugar into lemon juice.
Make lots of holes in top of cake with a skewer.
Gradually pour over the warm cake.
Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle is one of my favourite cakes. I’d love to hear your favourite?

Lemon Drizzle Cake

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Chewy Moon snack box review and giveaway

I have received a free sample Chewy Moon healthy snack box via Talk To Mums. The box size is designed to fit through your letterbox.

Chewy Moon snacks

These boxes are aimed at children from age 3 upwards and son2 was really excited when he saw the pug on the outside of the box. Even though he is fairly dog-phobic, he has recently started asking if we can get a pug. Whilst son1 who is equally wary round dogs wants a labrador. But no need for them to argue over breeds, as a puppy is not on the agenda since I work full-time.

These boxes contain 5 individual snack portions along with some fun activities and a page of nutrition facts. Our activitites were a pop-out frog, a short comic story and facts about ants.

Chewy Moon snacks

The 5 snacks we received were:-
Snacko Italiano (Tuscany cashews and baked cheese)
Happy BBQ (smokey almonds and coconut chips)
Crazy Crunch (smoothie bites)
Cherry Cola (cola raisins, cherry, cranberry)
Freaky Fruits (blackcurrant drops, apricot sticks, cherry cubes, peach cubes, raspberry strips)

Chewy Moon snacks

Son1 chose the Snacko Italiano first whilst son2 opted for the Cherry Cola. He did insist that son1 give him the empty Snacko Italiano pug box afterwards though. Son1 loved the pieces of toasted cheese, but only liked the Italian herby cashews. He let me try a couple of the cashews and I thought they were delicious. Meanwhile son2 quickly scoffed the Cherry Cola.

Chewy Moon snacks

The next time son2 selected Freaky Fruits whilst son1 went for Crazy Crunch. Once again son2’s snack vanished very quickly and he gave both a resounding thumbs up. Although son1 is a huge smoothie fan, he wasn’t convinced by the Crazy Crunch flavour, so offered them to the rest of us. We all enjoyed them but none of us guessed the flavour correctly which was blueberry and red beet.

Chewy Moon snacks

And to avoid arguments, I got the fifth pack, the Happy BBQ, which was right up my street, as I love almonds and coconut. Very yummy indeed.

Chewy Moon snacks

These packs are ideal for an after school snack. But if your children attend a school that has a nut-free policy like my boys’ school, then you wouldn’t be able to send either Snacko Italiano or Happy BBQ in as a playground snack. However there is a “no nuts” option when ordering.

You get to rate the snacks, to build up a profile of which your child does and doesn’t like for future boxes. Each box currently costs £4.93 including 98p P&P, but you can get your first box free. You select between fruit box, variety box or savoury box and you can order for multiple children. The boxes are delivered weekly and you may cancel your subscription at any time. A competitive price in my opinion.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a month’s Chewy Moon subscription of 4 boxes to one lucky winner. What a tasty prize.
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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 favourite snack ideas.

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

Tea and Biscuits Bingo giveaway

Did you know that this month over 100 years ago the Oreo biscuit went on sale in American shops. In the USA the Oreo is the no.1 biscuit and it is rapidly becoming more popular in the UK. Our all time UK favourites, according to biscuit studies, are the bourbon, the chocolate digestive and the custard cream. Those are 3 of the favourites in our household, so we were very pleased to receive a large free box of Family Circle Biscuits including all three, along with 4 boxes of Twinings English Breakfast tea and a Family Bingo game.

tea, biscuits and bingo

It’s always nice to take some time out for tea and biscuits in this rainy, cold British weather. And we had great fun playing bingo, with son2 being the overall winner.

tea, biscuits and bingo

tea, biscuits and bingo

I’m hosting a giveaway to win a vintage inspired prize bundle which consists of:

· A box of Traditional English Breakfast tea from Twinings
· A large box of the nation’s favourite biscuits from Family Circle
· A family game of bingo

tea, biscuits and bingo giveaway

These prizes are supplied by http://bingo.paddypower.com
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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 what you like to do indoors on a cold rainy day or your favourite type of biscuit?

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Disclosure.  This post mentions products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Trying out daily contact lenses

I’m shortsighted and about this time last year, I swapped my monthly contact lenses for a pair of varifocal glasses. I had previously worn contact lenses since my teens, so it was a very odd experience to adjust to the glasses. But my near vision had started deteriorating and this seemed the best plan.

However there are still occasions when I would prefer to be wearing lenses rather than glasses so I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to try Crystal Hydro daily contact lenses for free.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

The package was delivered very promptly after I provided my prescription details. The lenses were safely packed in a jiffy envelope which fitted through my letterbox and the parcel tape clearly indicated that the package contained contact lenses.

The lenses are individually sealed in a saline solution in boxes of 30. I am very familiar with how to insert a lens into the eye, but if you did wish to read the instructions, you would have to remove all the lenses from the box, as they are written inside.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

I have now trialled the lenses for over a week and have been very happy with them. They are comfortable to wear all day long, no problems with dry eyes and I love how when you take them out, you just throw them away. No more bother with cleaning and storing overnight. And the photos below show them in my eyes. You wouldn’t know I was wearing them if I hadn’t told you.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

Due to my eyesight, I did have to wear reading glasses whilst using the computer, but this is just me. However it was fantastic to be able to go out for a run in the rain again without wearing glasses which I would have had to continually attempt to wipe dry. Daily lenses are definitely the way forward for me, in conjunction with glasses.

These lenses have a diameter of 14.2mm and a base curve of 8.5mm. They also have UVA and UVB protection.

The current RRP is £9.25 for a box of 30 Crystal Hydro daily contact lenses. An amazing price in my opinion, especially as you don’t need to purchase any solution either. I’ve never found lenses at this price ever and I’ve been wearing them since my teens.

I’d be interested to hear your views regarding contact lenses.

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

My Cupcake Toppers – the easy way to an artistic cake

Although I love baking, I’m not very artistic when it comes to cakes for special occasions, so the answer seems to be cake toppers. I was therefore very pleased to be offered a free £15 voucher to spend at My Cupcake Toppers.

I had a browse round the site and there is something for everyone and every occasion. And if you require something bespoke, they also offer a design your own cake toppers service.

My Cupcake Toppers - Minecraft

Initially I was planning to choose some Harry Potter themed cake toppers, but I then suggested that son1 have a look round the site too and we ended up swapping to Minecraft. Even so, there were three different Minecraft ranges to choose from, so he opted for Minecraft Blocks.

Having chosen the theme, the next thing to select was the finish. Son1 left that up to me.

So I added the following items to my basket, which totalled a very reasonable £14.10.
1 7.5″ edible icing disc
1 set of 30 x 1.5″ precut premium rice paper
2 sets of 12 x 2.13″ precut premium rice paper

The checkout process was reasonably straight-forward apart from a system glitch which wiped out the shipping options, but Anna at My Cupcake Toppers soon resolved that for me. Checkout has functionality for you to add a note to your order, so I was able to request the large cake topper in the diamond design from Minecraft Blocks.

The toppers arrived the very next day, packed in a cardboard backed envelope. You can’t get quicker service than that.

Minecraft cake topper

So I used the edible icing disc on a large celebration cake. It was simple to cut out and apply using a few drops of water. The boys thought it looked fantastic. Also as far as I could see all the large toppers are circular. It would be nice if a few square options could be added to the range.

My Cupcake Toppers Minecraft Cake

For the rice paper toppers, I made iced cupcakes. I used the smaller ones on fairy cake size and the larger ones on muffin size. I’ve specifically avoided using butter in the recipes below, due to one child’s intolerance. If you wish to adapt the recipes to use butter, please note that you will probably wish to reduce the icing sugar to butter ratio.

My Cupcake Toppers Minecraft Cakes

My Cupcake Toppers - Minecraft


Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 24 fairy cakes or 16 larger)

200g margarine
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
few drops vanilla essence

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Place cake cases in muffin trays.
Cream together margarine and caster sugar.
Beat the eggs.
Mix in the egg along with a spoonful of flour.
Sieve and fold in the rest of the flour and the baking powder.
Stir in vanilla essence.
Spoon mixture into prepared cake cases.
Cook for 20 minutes in centre of pre-heated oven.
Allow to cool before icing.


Buttercream Icing

Ingredients (sufficient for 24 large toppers)

100g margarine
400g icing sugar
few drops vanilla essence

Method

Cream margarine in mixing bowl.
Gradually sieve and mix in icing sugar, about 50g at a time.
Cream together margarine and icing sugar.
Spread on top of cupcakes.
Place rice-paper toppers on top of icing, pressing down well.
Serve and enjoy.

Minecraft cupcakes

My Cupcake Toppers - Minecraft

I did find that a couple of hours later, the rice-paper toppers don’t look quite so great as initially. Difficult to get round this, as unlikely to be able to serve immediately after icing the cakes. However all said, they are still far better than anything I could attempt to make and the children were all very pleased with the cakes. So I do recommend these toppers. Take a look at My Cupcake Toppers to find your favourite designs.

My Cupcake Toppers Minecraft Cake

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers of 10% discount off your first order at My Cupcake Toppers with code SINCERELY10

And if you live in the Glasgow or Lanarkshire area, I have some great news. You may also purchase cupcakes from sister company My Cupcake Heaven. Unfortunately for me, 100s of miles away, these are only delivered locally.

I’d love to hear about your favourite cake.

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Disclosure. I received a £15 voucher towards purchasing goods from My Cupcake Toppers. I only paid postage & packaging. All opinions are my own.

Painting with PlayColor

Bigjigs introduced Playcolor products to their range back in March of this year. It is the no mess
painting alternative and they sent me a free sample in red and gold for the boys to try out.

Play Colour

It has taken us a while to get round to trying it out, but last weekend son2 put Playcolor to the test.

Playcolor Metallic Solid Poster Paint

Son2 tested them out on his bear picture and we were both very impressed. It was easy for him to hold and use. It functions like a glue stick with a rotating mechanism and has a lid to replace after use. It dries very quickly on the paper and washes off his hands easily.

Playcolor Metallic Solid Poster Paint

So Playcolor has all of the benefits of poster paint but without any of the mess! No need for water or paintbrushes and doesn’t wrinkle the paper either. Quick drying and solvent free. The range includes paints for use on paper, cardboard, textiles, and even face paints.

A pack of 6 assorted 10g colours currently retails for £5.99. Good value in my opinion and ideal for school or home use. Suitable for age 3+.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your next purchase of Playcolor at Bigjigs with discount code: “GBPC10PC”. This offer can also be redeemed on Amazon, so long as you select Bigjigs Toys as the seller.

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