Mama OWL Blog: 2013

#50Books2013 - The #50Books2014 Edition

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Let me start by saying a massive thank you to everyone who has taken part in, tweeted and shared reviews for #50Books2013.

I've enjoyed reading your reviews and hope that you have managed to complete as many books as you were able to - remember, it's a personal challenge so the only person you have to answer to is yourself. Read more than 50? Fantastic! Less than 50? Fantastic!

We all know how life runs away with you at times and the weeks fly by faster than you know, until you realise it has been three weeks or more since you even turned a page.

For that reason - because it happens to me an awful lot lately and I don't feel able to do the linky justice knowing how much I am already committed to for the new year - I am handing over the reins of this linky for #50Books2014 to the lovely Sarah at Ups & Downs, Smiles & Frowns. Please remember to tweet her at @Ooserzoo with your review links every month and to use the hashtag on twitter so we can all keep up to date with how we are all doing. I'll be posting reviews and joining in as I when I can!

Remember - You can join in with the linky on Twitter using the new hashtag for the new year #50Books2014 to tell us about your recent reads and share reviews. If you would like to take part, you can find out all the information here about how to get started.

Happy new year everyone, and happy reading!

Meal Plan Monday 301213

Monday, 30 December 2013

In all honesty - this is really just a post to say that we don't really have much of a meal plan in effect, and are essentially just eating Christmas leftovers and whatever else we have in the cupboards, fridges and freezer in order to start fresh next week.

We had a lovely family Christmas and are really enjoying the break from the sheer madness that is our usual daily routine. We're just going with the flow and doing whatever we fancy right now, and loving every minute of it. It's so nice to have a rest from running around and always being on the go, I'm glad to have another week of it.

So have a very happy new year, and I'll 'see' you next week!

Christmas Dinner Pinwheels

Saturday, 28 December 2013

And so the Christmas leftovers menu comes in to full effect - turkey sandwiches, turkey curry and the like. If you're like us, we enjoy a selection of cold cuts of meat with some mashed potatoes, cheeses and that sort of thing so leftovers here can go a long way. But - if you want something a little different, you might just give this a go.

I had some jus-rol pastry sheets stashed in my freezer 'just in case' (as you do) and I knew that they would be perfect for making some post-Christmas pasties! However as I was getting everything out, I decided that I didn't really fancy the stodge of a pasty and fancied something that could be served with mash & cold meat, or enjoyed on its own straight out of the fridge.

I ended up with Christmas Dinner Pinwheels. The simplest thing ever, but effective & tasty and it meant no food waste. All you need is -

  • Pastry sheets
  • Leftover turkey
  • Leftover veggies & mashed potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce (if desired, or maybe bread sauce)

I rolled out the pastry sheets on the table, and spread a layer of cranberry sauce on one and left the other plain, before adding sliced up turkey to both.
Mash up the veggies and potatoes together, and fry off quickly to warm through and make a sort of 'bubble & squeak', before adding it on top of the pastry sheets.
Roll them up as tight as you can before slicing into round 'pinwheel' shapes.
Place them on their sides in an ovenproof dish and bake in a preheated oven (on about 200c) until the pastry is nicely browned (about 20 minutes or so).

They are so tasty and the ones that didn't get demolished straight out of the oven were enjoyed the next day, and not a single morsel of our Christmas dinner was thrown away. Ours included turkey, stuffing, sausage, bacon, sprouts, cabbage, leek and carrots and were thoroughly enjoyed by all of us.

Had Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Too?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Well that's it for another year. The post-Christmas clear up has started... Or not, if you're in my house - we're pretty much still knee-deep in toys and bin bags full of wrapping paper and it looks like a toy store has vomited all over my living room (and up the stairs... across the landing... in the bedrooms... you get the idea - not because there's a lot, but because there are 5 kids).

However, as promised the children were not "spoiled" or overwhelmed and we had a really lovely, quiet Christmas in which we spent time all together at home as a family, and the kids were delighted with their gifts.
I did everything I wanted to do and saw almost everyone I wanted to see - with the exception of 3 people who unfortunately cannot have visitors right now, but I know they know that I love them dearly & that they are always in my thoughts. If you could keep them in yours too, I would be grateful.

Saving for Christmas 2014 started in November (when I finished paying for this one), and I have already made a start on the preparations for next year buying up things in the sales. You can never be too prepared!

No food has been wasted, no gift has gone unloved and while there is no such thing as perfect - this was pretty darn close. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, no matter where you were or who you spent it with.

Joyeux Noël!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A fun way for the kids to get involved and celebrate the arrival of the festive season is to let them make their own Christmas crackers, and Rosetta Stone kindly sent this fantastic cracker-making kit so we could do just that.

The kit provided enough to make ten crackers in two fun designs of Father Christmas & a snowman (all we needed was some glue, a pair of scissors and some sticky tape), and also included hats and jokes to place inside. It was a really fun activity and H, A & E sat with me around the table and we got 'cracking' (sorry - that was inexcusable, I blame my exposure to the cracker jokes).

The kit also came with full instructions as well as a sheet of unusual words from different languages to add to the crackers, I wonder - do you know what Yupienalle means? A great conversation starter!

We'll also be trialling the Rosetta Stone French language course in preparation for our family holiday in the Summer.

The course provides an interactive online studio including games and live chat assistance with native speakers in which to learn your chosen language, we can't wait to give it a try and see how much we can learn before we set off - currently my level is at 'Bonjour' & that won't get me very far!

So Joyeux Noël from us - we hope you have a lovely time however you spend it and whoever you spend it with. Au Revoir!

We received a complimentary cracker making kitThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Little Grippers for Sporty Nippers

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

In a house full of sporty kids, the opportunity to test Little Grippers was one not to be missed. While L of course doesn't need socks for tae kwon-do, they are brilliant for J & H for football & rugby. We received a pair each for the two of them, red in medium (sz 3-6) for H and black in large (sz 7-11) for J.
They are also available in white, navy & royal blue and are priced at £9 a pair.

Little Grippers is an award-winning British brand founded in January 2013, having invented an innovative solution that can be applied to a range of children’s garments to ensure they stay on! Applied robotically, the patented ‘Stay On Technology’ provides 100% natural, hypoallergenic, seam-free, long-lasting grip that’s suitable for children from birth through to their teens. Little Grippers is a family-run brand run by a parentpreneur team: Rachel & Adrien Pettiford.
True to size and a comfortable fit, these socks are designed to "Stay Up for the entire tournament" and I am pleased to say that they do exactly that. H played his last rugby matches of 2013 at the weekend and they stayed up throughout, even over the top of his thermal leggings. The socks were absolutely caked in mud when he got back (since it was chucking it down with rain the entire time!) but they have washed very well, with the colour and shape intact.

Little Grippers feature everything you could want in a sports sock - elasticated ankle & foot support, micro venting, flat toe seam with padded sole and a contoured fit. H says that they are comfortable to wear, and he liked that he didn't have to stop & pull them up like his other rugby socks (thanks to the clever hypoallergenic strip around the top of the sock).

For more information as well as the latest news and offers, check out their website, facebook page or follow them on twitter @LittleGrippers.

We received complimentary Little Grippers sports socks for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 161213

Monday, 16 December 2013

Monday 16th December - Baked potatoes & coronation chicken

Tuesday 17th December - Brinner*

Wednesday 18th December - Bacon cheeseburgers & chips with salad

Thursday 19th December - Toad in the hole with mash & veg

Friday 20th December - Spicy beef fajitas

Saturday 21st December - Deli pizza

Sunday 22nd December - Roast chicken

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = breakfast for dinner

Smells Like Christmas Spirit

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Nothing conjures up the image of Christmas in your mind quite like the rich, warming scent of mulled wine and cinnamon.
My house smells very festive at this time of year with our baking of gingerbread, candy cane cookies and mince pies.
If you walk through my door in December, you basically get Christmas to the face. BAM.

However - I can't stand around baking all day (as much as I would love to) and so I'm rather thrilled that Air Wick have devised this clever little gel Crystal’Air aroma diffuser in the delightful fragrance of mulled wine and cinnamon apple. It is DIVINE.

The perfume from the coloured, scented gel is released gradually and lasts approximately 4-6 weeks. I have it upstairs in my bedroom, and while the fragrance is strong it is not overpowering.
I notice the scent as soon as I get halfway up the staircase, it really is quite lovely and makes the house feel rather welcoming and festive. The little glass disc (put it up out of the way of little fingers!) is also recyclable.

Air Wick offer a wide variety of air freshener products including candles, sprays and the classic plug-in as well as gel diffusers and sprays, available in a range of scents.

We received a complimentary Air Wick Crystal’Air for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

{Christmas Bucket List} Our Top 10 Festive Family Films

Thursday, 12 December 2013

After we had finished putting up our decorations on December 1st we sat and enjoyed The Grinch together by the light of the tree (as per our Christmas Bucket List). Every year, it is a tradition in our house that the Elves bring a DVD on Christmas Eve that we watch after enjoying our snowman soup & opening the "Elf Gifts" (pyjamas).

In previous years we have enjoyed Arthur ChristmasInkheart, Mr Popper's Penguins and the Harry Potter complete boxset, although currently I'm The Elves are undecided as to what to bring this year!

There are so many festive films to enjoy that you might wonder where to start, and so I give you our own personal top 10 family Christmas film favourites, in order of the year they were released.

  1. Home Alone (1990).
  2. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992).
  3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
  4. The Santa Clause (1994).
  5. Miracle on 34th Street (1994).
  6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).
  7. Elf (2003).
  8. The Polar Express (2004).
  9. Arthur Christmas (2011).
  10. The Rise of the Guardians (2012).

The Grinch still makes me laugh so much despite having seen it more times than I care to remember, Jim Carrey is brilliant as the character and I don't think anyone can pull off that silly humour quite like him. Do you have any favourite festive films?

{Christmas Bucket List} #theGallery : That Festive Feeling

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Our festive preparations are in full swing at Chez Owl. The decs are up, the wreath is on the door, the lights are twinkling and the meals are planned. I still have more wrapping than I care to think about to do (and actually a little bit more shopping) but we are sticking to our Christmas Bucket List and are well on our way to being ready for Christmas 2013.

The boys have taken part in their Christmas play at school ('The Birth of The King', set entirely to Elvis songs with the Angel Gabriel dressed up as The King himself - genius!) in which L was behind the scenes and in charge of the lighting and H was a part of the choir, and E performed her nativity play in the role of one of the three Kings, and a very fine King she was (we laugh in the face of gender stereotypes!).

We have been watching Christmas movies, and E has made some lovely decorations that now adorn the Christmas trees in our home. My favourite has to be the beautiful fairy that she made, that is now sitting proudly atop the girls bedroom tree. I think she is beautiful and E is so proud.
This is the first year that she has really understood Christmas and I'm so excited for her, I'm looking forward to making wonderful memories (and I plan on hanging on to this fairy for as long as she lasts!).

I have linked this post with #theGallery at The Sticky Fingers Blog.

Household Energy Use

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The evolution of energy consumption through the decades
Be smarter with your consumption and choose the right energy tariff.

A Christmas Wreath Review

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

December is here, the Christmas decs are up and my front door was looking a little bare and unloved next to the twinkly lights in my window, so I was delighted to be given this beautiful Christmas holly wreath to review by local business The Floral Designer at Westdale Park.

I visited the shop and looked at the wreaths that were being made up to order, and I chose my favourite features from the others and ordered mine to be made to my personal specifications.

The next day it was ready for me to pick up, and I am absolutely delighted with it. It is fresh, beautifully made and exactly how I wanted it. It adds the perfect festive touch to the outside of our home, and we'll also be purchasing wreaths to lay at the graves of family this Christmas to remember them.

Also available are bulbs (ideal for Christmas gifts), holly balls, candles and more at prices to suit every pocket. If you are in the BA15 area, please check out The Floral Designer's facebook page for offers and availability and to place your order.

We received a complimentary Christmas wreath for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Things that make you go VROOM!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

In late November we celebrated H's 8th birthday. All year he had been begging for a swimming party (although we all know how I feel about hosting children's birthday parties!), so when the time came I dutifully called up the pool to ask about rates and rules etc.
We found out that there has to be one adult to every two under-8s physically in the pool for the duration of the party, as H is one of the oldest in the year, I figured that this would put parents off and so we encouraged him to think of something else and told him we'd have a pool party next year.

One afternoon H brought home a copy of Primary Times in his schoolbag and spotted an advert for a Go-Kart Party, so he asked if I would find out about them. I emailed and got a prompt reply from Gaynor & Mark who gave me all the relevant information and pricing, and the Mister & I agreed on a Go-Kart party for 12 for early December at a cost of £165 and got it all booked up.

The Go-Kart party offers a full experience with optional extras of medals, party bags and catering and is suitable for kids between the ages of 4 & 10 years. We opted for medals for our guests, and everything else was included (venue hire, invitations, certificates & a trophy for the birthday boy).

Lunch Boxes from Delights UK (food not included!)It was lovely & straightforward to book & pay and we did it all online via BACS and email which meant that all I had to do on the day of the party was get us there, and enjoy the day.
The Mister & I got up and finished packing H's Cars 2 party bags, sent for us to review from Delights UK, with Cars themed favour packs (consisting of Maze Puzzles, Disc Shooters, Siren Whistles and Mini Flags), gummi sweets & cake pops that I had made to save having to cut a cake, and lunch boxes ready to hand out to his guests after the party (as we had opted not to hire a party room).
The lunch boxes are really sturdy and had plenty of space for the potato snack, wrap, cheese, drink, cucumber batons & mini roll that we put in. We then got H, L & E ready & off we went!

Cars 2 themed Party bags and favours
Mark & Gaynor were there setting everything up when we arrived, and all we had to do was hand out name labels for the kids. Everyone then went into the hall and they sat the kids down and explained how it all worked and away they went! The party was action-packed and engaging from start to finish, the kids were all included and there was no waiting around for turns as they were too busy cheering on their friends, leading the countdowns to the end of the races and waving flags.
Mark & Gaynor were fun, patient and simply lovely with the children, speaking to them individually and keeping them involved at every moment.

Everyone was included and made to feel a part of the activities even when they weren't racing, I honestly cannot praise them enough.
The children each received a (high quality, not plastic!) medal & personalised certificate at the end of the party and H received his trophy and completed a victory lap around the track on his own, my boys haven't stopped talking about it since we got home!

Home-made cake popsIt was a wonderful party experience and I had some lovely comments from parents & the kids as they were leaving, everyone said how much fun it was and what a good time they had had. At school H's friends have told him that it was the best party they've ever been to!
The party was a huge success and I wouldn't hesitate to book them again, it's no wonder that they were shortlisted as a regional finalist for the NetMums Best Party Entertainer award. They really made H's day special and I would highly recommend them, it was absolutely worth every single penny.

We received complimentary Cars 2 themed partyware from Delights UK for review purposes. The Go-Kart Party was paid for out of my own pocket in its entirety. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 091213

Monday, 9 December 2013

Monday 9th December - Cheese & broccoli pasta bake

Tuesday 10th December - Brinner*

Wednesday 11th December - Bolognese

Thursday 12th December - Fish pie

Friday 13th December - Fajitas

Saturday 14th December - Sausage & mash

Sunday 15th December - Roast lamb

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = breakfast for dinner

A Tween Christmas Gift Guide

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Shopping for five kids for Christmas is a taxing task in more ways than one. I must say that choosing things for E has been much easier than shopping for teenagers, and then there are the tweens. L has very specific likes & dislikes and picking things for him has been relatively easy. Poor H on the other hand still has a good chunk of his budget left & I really need to step it up.

I've had a look around the 'net and wanted to share my findings with a Christmas gift guide especially for a tween boy, for anyone else who might be struggling to find that perfect gift. H is 8 and mad about the outdoors, vehicles and construction so these gifts are ideal for him.

Under £10

Boots have a great selection of toys for under a tenner as well as offering 3 for 2 mix & match across a wide range of products. This NERF Firestrike Elite Blaster is just £8 and would be very well received by H who thoroughly enjoys NERF battles with his brothers & sisters (I say battles - more him sneaking up on them and catching them unarmed & unawares!). This NERF toy is suitable for ages 8+ & comes with 3 elite darts.

I also love this classic Connect 4 game from Boots, it was a favourite of mine as a kid and H is very much into playing games as a family so this would be a winner for him and at £9.99 it's a bargain, too. Suitable for two players, aged 6 & up.

Under £30

The Meccano Pro Toolbox from Debenhams is suitable for age 6+ & includes 8 buildable models (tools & building instructions for 3 models) with an engine to make your creations move. H is very hands-on & loves to create, so this set would provide endless fun and possibilities, all contained within a handy storage case. It currently has 20% off & is available for just £22.40, and you could save even more by checking for promotions.

Flair Micro Chargers Time Track from Debenhams also looks like it
would appeal to H, with a track that you can reconfigure into multiple formations and four lane race action meaning he can play it with his siblings or friends.
At the moment it has a massive 40% off & is just £21.60. Suitable for age 6 years +. have the LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™ Shredder's Dragon Bike for £25, and with a discount code available for first orders there is potential for more savings. A big fan of TMNT and a collector of LEGO this 198pc set ticks all the boxes for H, and is suitable for ages 6-12 years.

Under £50

Amazon have the LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power for £46.66 and there is also free delivery available. H loves to learn and the capabilities for this ePad are limitless, with expansion available through downloading apps, music, books, videos and more or by purchasing additional gaming cartridges. This is a great - and safe - electronic learning tablet for kids, with downloads available from the pre-approved library.

An enjoyer of the great outdoors (whatever the weather), H loves nothing more than to zip around on his scooter. His has seen better days, and I have heard him mention the JD Bug Pro Scooter before when perusing the Christmas toy catalogues. At £49.95 from Amazon it's very reasonably priced and has great reviews. Suitable for age 7+ it's said to be good for learning tricks on as well as being sturdy & durable.

All prices & offers are correct at time of publishing.
This is a featured publication.

Storage solutions for children’s bedrooms

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Decorating any room in the home poses challenges but no more so than children’s bedrooms. Aside from building a practical space that manages to be both fun and safe to use, you also have to consider how you’ll tackle the issue of storage.
Kids are known for coming with a large number of accessories and for those trying to find practical storage solutions, these tips might help.

Hang it on the walls
From shelving units for books to hammocks for cuddly toys, there are plenty of ways to wall-mount storage in your kid’s bedroom. For a unique option, fix square storage frames to the walls and slide plastic boxes or drawers into them for a neat yet attractive storage. Make sure they’re not overfilled or placed at the wrong height to reduce the risk of accidents from falling boxes though.

Make the most of floor space
Kid’s bedrooms need clear access points with uncluttered floors but that doesn’t mean a certain amount of floor space can’t be dedicated to storage. You’ll want your kids to have the biggest play area possible in their bedrooms so invest in under-bed storage boxes that make the most of lost space.
If you don’t like being able to see these boxes as you enter then room then consider other bedroom furniture solutions such as divan or cabin beds. For older children, bunk beds above desks or sofa beds are a stylish yet practical solution that usually comes with a few key storage options.

Opt for mobility
Remember that not all storage units have to be fixed in position. If you’re after a flexible solution then go for something which offers mobility by choosing a storage unit with wheels. These are available in varying sizes to match different bedrooms and can be either plain or decorated depending on your preference.

Separate the bedroom
For those with more space at their disposal, separating the bedroom into distinct areas is a great way to give storage options an extra purpose. By placing storage units projecting out from a wall across the centre of the floor, you can give your child’s bedroom distinct sleeping and playing areas.
Remember not to cut too far across the bedroom when doing this though or you’ll make the room feel cramped and cluttered rather than large and open.

Make storage into a feature wall
Another great option for innovative storage ideas is to transform one wall into a dedicated storage area – making it a feature of the room at the same time. This can be done in numerous ways but the easiest is through the use of a large bookcase or perhaps two or more smaller units placed alongside one another. Fill this with everything from books, DVDs and CDs to games, toys and photos to give your child a functional yet fun bedroom design.

If you’re looking for more inspirational ideas on how to add storage to your child’s bedroom then this fantastic post on Channel 4 – 25 Storage Ideas For Kids’ Rooms – is a great place to start.

This is a featured post.

LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Review

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

ePads are the latest thing for little kids - while my big kids are playing apps on their smartphones & tablets, their little sister is using her own electronic learning tablet to create, learn and explore in her own way.

The LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power (winner of the 2013 Educational Toy of the Year and People's Choice award for toys) comes with 9 apps, 4gb memory and lots of fab features including a camera & video recording capabilities. My favourite feature has to be the rechargeable battery pack and adaptor - no more endless replacing of batteries!

E is able to write & draw on the 5" touch screen with the included (and attached!) stylus, and we are able to expand its capabilities by buying game cartridges as well as downloading games, eBooks, videos, music & apps from the pre-approved library. You can tilt and shake for motion-based play as well as customise and care for your own pet, or create masterpieces in the Art Studio.

We were lucky enough to be offered the LeapPad Power 2 to review from ASDA along with two games, LeapFrog Disney Princess (for reading) & LeapFrog Cars2 (for mathematics) and I can honestly say that E absolutely loves it. She carries it around in her little backpack (along with the adaptor in case she needs to recharge!) and will sit and play on it for ages.
At mealtimes she takes great delight in playing music while we're sat around the table, and happily sings along as she eats her dinner, urging us all to join in with the song (we don't, generally, as we're not the Von Trapps but she does give it her best shot, bless her heart).
It's educational as well as fun, and E has thoroughly enjoyed giving this ePad a road test. For Christmas we have bought E some accessories and games to go with it, including a proper carry case for her to store her games and to keep the tablet safe.

For the latest prices and availability of the LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power, visit

We received a complimentary LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power & games for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Meal Plan Monday 021213

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday 2nd December - Cottage pie

Tuesday 3rd December - Brinner*

Wednesday 4th December - Cheese & tomato pasta bake

Thursday 5th December - Toad in the hole

Friday 6th December - Homemade chicken curry with rice

Saturday 7th December - Bolognese

Sunday 8th December - Roast

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = breakfast for dinner

#funee - Mussmash

Saturday, 30 November 2013

So... If you're going to nip out for half hour to grab your Christmas presents that you've reserved (to save time), make sure that you hide all of the colouring pens before you leave.

I made my reservations online, we waited until evening so it would be quiet and we could be even quicker. The Mister even waited in the car. I dashed into the shop, grabbed everything I needed and we dropped it off at the in-laws before heading home.

Walking back out to the car, my phone dings. I am greeted with this.

I immediately call teen and ask (a) what on Earth has happened, and (b) why is E crying?

Through hysterical laughter, teen tells me that E has drawn on her own face and that she is crying because she doesn't want A to clean it off, due to her irrational fear of flannels. Not joking.

About 10 minutes later when I get in the door, I finished off scrubbing E's face and asked her why she had done it (because she has never done anything like that before, the others all did but E is far too sensible for that sort of thing, she's secretly 40 years old I think), and this is what happened next -

E: "L telled me to draw a mussmash"

He told you to draw a what?

E: "Mussmash"


E: "Yes, moustache. On my face"

(to L) Did you tell your sister to draw a moustache on her face?

L: (smirks, tries not to, fails miserably) "Yes"

Why did you do that? She's three, she'll do anything you tell her to!

L: (considers this, face lights up) "What, like a servant?!"

(realising where this is going) No! Not like a servant!

L: (ponders) "So... Like a monkey?"


Lord, give me strength. And if you can't give me strength... Give me gin.

Wot So Funee? 

Win a £60 Amazon Voucher

Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas is just around the corner and the vast majority of us are busy shopping ready to celebrate the big day. I was invited by Barclaycard Freedom Rewards to take their 60 second survey to find out my shopping style and see if it was accurate.

Barclaycard and Brunel University have created this survey based on research which identifies four new shopper tribes: Bargain Hunter Gatherer, Profit Prophet, Screen Saver and High Street Pounder.

Which one am I?



You're an expert at collecting the best tools, voucher codes and loyalty cards to make your budget go as far as possible, week in, week out. While the kids are doing their homework, you're doing yours - grabbing the best savings for your family. Key facts about you:
  • You're most likely to be female, married or living with your partner and living in the north of the UK.
  • You lot are busy. Two thirds of you cleverly juggle your home, work and financial life.
  • You're not easily tempted by big discounts, only 35% of you have ever bought a non-essential item you didn't need because of a special offer.
  • Home really is where the heart is - 42% of you selflessly save your loyalty card points up for treats for the family.
  • You're certainly not one to rush into Christmas shopping. You'll bide your time and wait until the right price comes up - meaning you'll likely strike the final week before Christmas.
  • Bargain hunting's in your blood. Once you smell a bargain, the hunt is on - two thirds of you regularly shop around different stores and websites to get the best deal before settling on a purchase.

So - is it accurate?

Yes indeed! Aside from the fact that I reside down in the Westcountry, the rest of it is pretty spot on.

What about you, what's your shopping style? If you fancy taking the quiz and letting me know your answer in a blog comment, you could be in with a chance to win yourself a £60 Amazon voucher!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner has been drawn - Debbie Davies from her Facebook entry. Congratulations! Thank you to everyone for your entries.

#theGallery : November

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

How to sum up November in just one photo...

Rather than one of the many photos of the kids & their sporting activities I currently have from November, I chose this one. Because after a morning or an afternoon (or an entire day) out in the chilly Autumn air, there is nothing quite like coming home to a nice steaming mug of whatever takes your fancy.

This is one of my favourite indulgences - coffee & cream, with maltesers. Yum. This is my November.

I have linked this post with #theGallery at The Sticky Fingers Blog.

Christmas Meal Plan 2013

Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas is coming ladies & gents, and with only a month to go it means that it's time for my Christmas Meal Plan, detailing all of the delicious goodies we are going to eat to celebrate the festive season. As we like to keep to our traditions, our meal plan for this Christmas is much the same as last year's & the year before with only a couple of minor tweaks to the menu. We will be marking the first day of Advent by 'decking the halls' on December 1st, so we will be decorating our home and setting up the Christmas tree together before we settle down to watch a nice festive family film and enjoy a delicious mug of snowman soup.

I've been storing away goodies to decorate our home-made Gingerbread houses with. I have a fab simple and delicious Gingerbread man recipe that I use every year. On Christmas Eve I set up the dining table with bowls of sweets and icing and we let the kids decorate their house however they want, and then we'll all share it over Christmas and break off bits as and when we fancy.

Now that the meals are planned I can write our grocery list, so as soon as the Christmas delivery slots are available I can order my shopping and have it delivered to my door. This will also mean less food waste, which of course can only be a good thing.

Right, now on with our Christmas 2013 Meal Plan -

Tuesday 24th December {Christmas Eve}
Breakfast - Pancakes & waffles with various toppings (syrups, sauces, chocolate chips, fruit & cream etc)
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps (potato chips) and fruit.
Dinner - Chicken enchiladas, quesadillas & cheesy nachos.
Dessert will be home-made mince pies or waffles & ice cream, and after decorating our Gingerbread houses, before bedtime we will all enjoy Candy Cane Cookies with our snowman soup.

Wednesday 25th December {Christmas Day}
Breakfast - Pain au chocolat, crepes, and croissants with jam.
Lunch - Roast Turkey crown served with sprouts, leek, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, swede, two potato mash, cauliflower and accompanied by pigs in blankets, onion rings, sausage meat & stuffing and cranberry sauce, topped off with thick turkey gravy. Dessert will be New York Cheesecake.
Dinner - Leftovers (meaning, everything we had for lunch, in the form of a sandwich) and probably an abundance of chocolates and treats.

Thursday 26th December {Boxing Day}
Breakfast - Eggs & bacon, with sausages, hash browns, baked beans, fried onions, tomatoes and toast. Possibly a little bubble & squeak too depending on what is leftover from Christmas Day.
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps and fruit.
Dinner - Ploughmans - mashed potatoes, cold meats and salad, and maybe some home-made pasties with Christmas dinner leftovers.

What festive fare will you be enjoying this year?

Meal Plan Monday 251113

Monday, 25 November 2013

We're freezer-diving this week, to save money and free up space before Christmas. My shopping bill is about £30 less than normal because of this, so I've saved a bit of money as well. Our Christmas Meal Plan is going to be posted later today, one month to go!

Monday 25th November - It's H's 8th birthday today, so whatever he chooses (I am willing to bet that it will be McDonalds)

Tuesday 26th November - Brinner*

Wednesday 27th November - Garlic & herb chicken

Thursday 28th November - Fish pie

Friday 29th November - Pizza

Saturday 30th November - Lasagne

Sunday 1st December - Roast Pork & applesauce, to enjoy after we deck the halls ready for Christmas!

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = breakfast for dinner

Scooby-Doo! Adventures - The Mystery Map

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The kids are big fans of Scooby-Doo, H even has a giant Scooby teddy that was given to him by his Auntie which now sits pride of place next to his pillow on his bed.

The appeal of Scooby-Doo never seems to wane, I remember watching the cartoons when I was a kid myself and all five of my children have grown up enjoying tales of Mystery Inc - Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne & Velma - as they take the Mystery Machine on their epic adventures, in the television cartoons as well as the hugely popular live-action movies.

Continuing on from the success of the various formats, Warner Bros are proud to bring you Scooby and the gang in an all-new original puppet movie adventure in Scooby-Doo! Adventures - The Mystery Map.

"Get ready to experience the world famous Scooby-Doo! and Crew like never before in this all-new original puppet movie! What begins as a routine night for the Gang which includes the slobbering sleuth and Shaggy eating a triple extra-large Scooby snack pizza, becomes a mad dash to find the frightening Phantom Parrot with a map to pirate Gnarlybeard's hidden treasure.
Scooby sniffs out the map's clues, which lead him right to a spooky pirate ship. Ruh-roh! What will Gnarlybeard be willing to do to protect his booty? The whole family will love casting off on this mysterious, fun-filled voyage again and again."

The Verdict

In all honesty, I am a purist and will always prefer Scooby & crew in their original cartoon format. With that said - I think that this is a good movie for kids, and that it is a fun new twist on Scooby's adventures. It was very much enjoyed by E in particular, and L & H also liked watching it, and have watched it many times since. Scooby-Doo can dooby doo no wrong in our house, in any format!

Scooby-Doo! Adventures - The Mystery Map DVD is rated U (suitable for all) and has a running time of approx 43 minutes. It is available online and in-store from a variety of retailers, priced at around £7.

We received a complimentary DVD for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Get Christmas Wrapped Up

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Wrapping gifts for five children as well as my (huge) family is no mean feat. There are many evenings spent cutting up tape into strips and having it stuck to fingers, noses (I only have one, by the way. I have the Mister use his also), tabletops etc so it is in easy grabbing distance when you're trying to hold down the paper of whatever it is you're wrapping up.

You end up needing about twenty hands, and you will inevitably run out of tape at the most inopportune time - which means putting everything down, finding the roll of tape that is now buried under mountains of festive paper, locating the scissors to cut the strips, not to mention the twenty minutes it ends up taking to find the end of the tape.

Sound familiar?

Scotch® have a solution, and having given it a go myself I can vouch for how quite simply brilliant it is. Scotch Pop-Up Tape Handband Dispenser - pre-cut tape strips from a one-handed dispensing device, that can be attached to your hand or wrist. Refill packs are also available, containing 3 pads of 75 strips.

No rummaging around the floor, no cutting zillions of strips, it is all done for you. Always immediately to hand, with a refillable dispenser (that is available in several colours) & no cutting required, you need never struggle to wrap gifts again!

The Scotch Pop-Up Tape Handband Dispenser is available in-store and online from a variety of retailers which are listed on the Scotch UK website.

We received a complimentary Handband dispenser for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Shovelling Snow during a Blizzard

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Or, "cleaning when you have young children" as it is also known.

There is always something that needs doing in our house - laundry to be washed/dried/put away (I would actually pay someone to put it away, I despise that job), the dishwasher to be loaded or unloaded, countertops to be wiped, toys to be picked up, hoovering to be done.
Cleaning up behind six people (as well as myself and the dog) feels like a full time job some days, it is never ending. While the kids do help out around the house to earn their pocket money, I do the lion's share of the housework.

And also the lion's share of the nagging, to get the kids to do their chores.

Wilko offered me the opportunity to review some cleaning products from their extensive range - available both in store and online - and I was happy to oblige.

Frankly, anything that can help me keep this place in order is A-OK with me.

I absolutely love anti-bac wipes, it must be said. They're great for grabbing and giving something a quick swizz, they are basically household wet wipes! And all parents know that there is almost no job that wet wipes can't do. The "cheerio germs" wipes have a pleasant lemon smell which isn't at all overpowering, and are handy for a wipe-down of a countertop or even the floor if there's been a spill.

The kids had a great time stealing all of the scouring pads, much to my dismay. As they are a pack of 20, E discovered that they also make great building bricks. I'm still finding them around the house.

I did however put her & H to work as my helpers to really give them a good road testing and I must say, they did a grand job getting the tablecloth super-duper sparkly.

The "heaven scent" vanilla & ylang flower room fragrance is really quite lovely (not too strong), and it has been great for freshening up the downstairs loo & utility room... & the boys' room.

If you have boys, I am sure that you understand.

Wilko offer a good selection of very reasonably priced products for keeping your home at its best, with the room fragrance just 90p & the 20-pack of scourers only £1, keeping the house in order doesn't have to cost the Earth.

In fact, with your savings you might even be able to afford a maid to do it for you! Or just up the kids' pocket money... Remember - it's not called bribery, it's 'positive reinforcement'.

We received complimentary cleaning products for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.
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