Mama OWL Blog: May 2013

The Art of Naming Babies

Friday, 31 May 2013


My dearest friend K is expecting her first baby in just a few short weeks. The subject of names has come up on occasion and while 'the list' is a closely guarded secret, we've bandied about some ideas and shared thoughts on what we each do & don't like, styles we prefer (traditional, trendy, unique) and the importance of double checking initials before signing the birth certificate... While Thomas Wesley Andrew Turner sounds very nice, you absolutely must think these things through before labelling your child a T.W.A.T for the rest of their life.

Naming your baby often starts with naming 'the bump'... You get your standard cutesy nicknames - bellybean, jellybean, peanut, belly-dweller et al, and occasionally you might opt for an actual name but often not one you will ultimately choose for the baby.
When I was expecting E we referred to her as 'Betsy', which I actually really like but it simply didn't flow with our other kids names hence it not making the list. It was just a nice name that we could apply to her once we knew she was a girl. K & her partner have named her bump 'Gustav', they have no intention of actually calling the baby that but preferred not to go with the usual frou-frou nicknames like bumpy-wumpy or squiggle as that simply is not their style. 'Gustav' is exactly the sort of bump nickname I would expect K to come up with, and it's very amusing.

Choosing a name for your child is very personal, and I completely understand why people choose to wait until the birth to share it. Once the child is born and named, it is much harder for others to state their opinion on it and you are less likely to get 'the face' or the teeth sucking & suggestions of this or that instead. A real live person is already here, already named, and therefore usually much more readily accepted with that name. We chose to keep E's name to ourselves aside from a few. Really, I wish we'd kept it entirely to ourselves because a couple of those that we did tell did see fit to voice their opinion on it, whether we wanted them to or not. Which we didn't. We love E's name as much now as we did when we chose it and frankly I don't actually care what anything else thinks of it anyway.

There are many things to consider when choosing a name for your child. Firstly, remember that your child won't be a child forever - will it still suit them when they are a teenager, an adult, a pensioner? Think about potential nicknames and the inevitable shortening of names that usually happens once they get to primary school and start making friends. You may not want your little Jacob to be called Jake, but once he starts school, that will probably happen and there really isn't much you can do about it. Call them what you want at home, but their friends will usually have other ideas.

I chose Alicia (m: Of Noble Kin) simply because I loved it. I saw a movie poster for Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone and just fell in love with it, I had gone over so many others but that one was it, I just knew. Her middle name is Jai (m: Victory), it was initially going to be Jade but my mum suggested shortening it to make it more unique, and so I did.

The Mister named Joshua (m: God Is Salvation) in the end because we couldn't agree and I told him he could choose. The Mister then went with the very original Adam (m: Man, Of The Earth) for J's middle name, after himself. I actually love his name, it suits him and I really couldn't picture him as any of the other names that I originally liked. The Mister done good.

I would absolutely not be swayed when Logan (m: From The Hollow) was born. I loved the name so much and still do now, it is perfect for him. His middle name is Peter (m: Rock) to honour the Mister's late Grandfather. As things worked out, L ended up being born - 9 days late - on the anniversary of Peter's passing, which made it rather a fitting tribute.

We wanted to honour my late Great-Uncle Harry when we named Harrison (m: Son of Harry) but I didn't want to go with the more traditional Henry because it didn't flow with the names of the others, or alternatively go with just Harry on its own because I felt it was too nickname-y for my taste. We chose his middle name, David (m: Beloved) to honour my father-in-law and also my maternal Grandfather, and it is also the Mister's own middle name. He gets called Harry most of the time now, as expected.

Erica (m: Always Ruler) was named for my maternal Grandfather again, and also the Mister's Great-Uncle. Her middle names are Daisy (m: Daisy Flower, the day's eye) in honour of my maternal Great-Grandmother and Denise (m: Devotee Of Dionysos) as a tribute to the Mister's late paternal Aunt. Again, what turned out to be another fitting tribute as E arrived 10 days late on what would have been Denise's birthday.

I don't regret any of our name choices and the children carry them well, they are well suited to their monikers. Some of their nicknames that have come about over the years range from the expected to the ridiculous and include Frilly, Wish, Bogie Wan Kenobie (also - Obi Wan Kebogie), The Dave & Berry Boo. Silly nicknames come with the territory, it's almost impossible to avoid.

Some people choose not to honour family members like we did, but instead go with a theme or a particular importance in the meaning. For example if you are a sailing enthusiast, you might like to use names that have an association with water such as Calder, Ondine or Naida, or a horticulturalist might like Katniss or Heather. A website I enjoyed browsing when we were choosing names is babynames.com which allows you to search names by meaning, you can also create lists of your favourite names and search their database.

Finally, I think the most important thing to think about when selecting your baby's name is - Do YOU love it? If the answer is yes, then quite frankly sod what anyone else thinks. Go with what you love!

Though I really was serious about the initials.

How did you choose your children's names? Do you regret any of your choices now? If you could choose again, would you decide differently?


I have linked this post with Edspire to celebrate the launch of the very special Matilda Mae bag from Miatui Bags.

Turtle Power at ZSL London Zoo

Thursday, 30 May 2013

We were lucky enough to be invited along to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles event at ZSL London Zoo on Tuesday. My very first blogger event!
I have been invited to other events previously but unfortunately have never managed to attend one until now, with it being half term and my boys being big fans of the TV show it was the perfect opportunity for us.

We left in good time but unfortunately the horrendous weather meant that the spray on the motorway was like driving through a car wash, it took us over an hour longer than it should have to get there. This meant that we arrived late and missed the guided tour of the Zoo, but we were able to go round in our own time after the event.

The children immediately took off to the tables that were set up with TMNT goodies galore and got stuck in playing with them. L & H have the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV Show on series link and watch it regularly, L is quite knowledgeable on the subject of TMNT and was in his element chatting to the event organisers about the characters and show.
Their favourite playset by far was the (rather large!) Turtles Secret Sewer Lair, E had to stand on a chair next to the table in order to reach it but thoroughly enjoyed exploring all of the different levels and secret hidey-holes while the boys preferred sending the turtles off on the zip lines across the table top!

The kids had fun trying out the assorted Turtle action figures and all quickly found their own favourite character. L's favourite is bad guy Fishface, H likes Michelangelo and E chose Donatello as her own personal favourite.
They spent a good couple of hours playing, and taking part in a colouring competition as well as having their pictures taken behind the cardboard cut-outs. We enjoyed a lovely lunch together as part of the day however the kids were far too busy playing to eat very much! L really enjoyed the presentation and seeing peeks and clips of the TMNT series and the people behind the voices of the characters.

When it was time to go, we were gifted with a bag of fab TMNT goodies including the character of Shredder and a Rippin Rider vehicle amongst other things, and the children were also allowed to take an action figure of their choice from the selection that they had been playing with - which made for a nice quiet journey home as they were too busy playing for anything else!
After the event we enjoyed a stroll around ZSL London Zoo visiting all of the animals. The weather being as awful as it was meant that lots of the animals were (sensibly) hiding away but we had a lovely afternoon walking around taking it all in & visiting the ones that we could see, and we all (even me) even got to stroke a corn snake that was brought out to see everyone. As you can see, the boys were dubious at first but after a little coaxing they were convinced to have a go. It wasn't as scary as they thought! Steve Backshall would be proud!
We're certainly glad we took our raincoats and some spare clothes, they came in handy when we got back to the car so the kids weren't sitting in wet clothes. The drive home was equally as awful as the drive there thanks to the torrential rain but it didn't spoil our day one bit. We had a really lovely time and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

... Well, apart from the several minutes that the Mister & I were bickering about my appalling navigation out of Central London - but I think probably the less said about that, the better...

#50Books2013 - May Round-Up

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Welcome to the May round-up of #50Books2013, almost halfway through the year now, everyone still enjoying it? Are you making time to read or finding that you aren't managing it as much as you'd like?

I'm on book 16 now after regaining a little momentum, my weeks are getting busier & busier with clubs, classes & appointments for the kids and trying to manage it all as well as everything else I already have to do is proving a real juggling act. I am making more time in the evenings to sit & read instead of watching tv, it seems to be paying off.

Having now finished the Caster Chronicles series (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Dream Dark, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption), I can say that I honestly did really enjoy all of them. Literary masterpieces they are not, but they aren't meant to be. They are quite simply good reads, particularly for those of us who enjoy paranormal YA, and I would definitely recommend them if that's your thing.

I've also read The Watchers by Lynnie Purcell and The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen which were free downloads from my Kobo library. I was thoroughly engrossed in The Watchers and found it quite gripping with an interesting story, The Fallen Star however... I hate to say "I didn't like it", but - I thought it was haphazard & rambly and I found it rather grating in places. The constant 'describing-things-like-this', saying "sucks" a little too much and the 'whole saying thing' thing really stuck out as soon as I noticed it. It didn't flow well enough for my liking, personally.

But how has everyone else fared this month?

Shay & Family has shared her reviews on books 13-15 this month, including the intriguing Girl with a One-Track Mind by Abby Lee – fans of Belle du Jour and Bridget Jones take note. Mumturnedmom is currently reading two books, that's dedication! For her fifth challenge update she's reviewed Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck & Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose, have a look and and see what she thought.

Ups & Downs, Smiles & Frowns shares her views on the poignant Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy this month, in addition to A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen which Sarah describes as "Just WOW", a must read for lovers of cats! Soph has been Ignoring Life, One Book At A Time with Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England amongst a couple of others, as well as preparing for an exam! and is up to 27/50 in the challenge - good work!

White feathers and so much more has enjoyed eight books so far, no judgement here, for all of us to get to fifty would be amazing but remember it's simply a little push to remind us to take time to enjoy a good book! She's reviewed My Animals & Other Family by the fabulous Clare Balding as well as titles from Lorna Byrne and Michael Frayn, take a look at what she had to say about them. Last but certainly not least, Ojo's World has expressed her thoughts on her most recent reads, including the harrowing Stolen Girl by Katie Taylor and Veronica Clark. A heartbreaking but thought-provoking story.

Join in with us on Twitter using hashtag #50Books2013 and tell us about your recent reads and share reviews. If you would like to join in with us, you can find out all the information here.

If you have a review to share please link up below. As always, thank you for taking part in this challenge with me and see you all next month, at the half way point!

Meal Plan Monday 270513

Monday, 27 May 2013


Monday 27th May - Ham, egg & chips/sweet potato fries

Tuesday 28th May - Most likely some sort of takeaway on our way home from a blogger event

Wednesday 29th May - Brinner*

Thursday 30th May - Farmer's Pie

Friday 31st May - Fajitas

Saturday 1st June - Sausages & root vegetable mash

Sunday 2nd June - Roast lamb

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

Experience the nation's Thrill Capital this half term

Friday, 24 May 2013


Colossus at Thorpe Park
If you're looking for things to do with the family this half term, the nation's Thrill Capital has some unmissable offers. There's never been a better time to visit Thorpe Park and there are plenty of rides that the whole family can enjoy, including Zodiac and the Flying Fish.

Looking for something to really get the adrenaline pumping? Perhaps your kids would like to try the newly refurbished X, for an illuminated race through light & sound, or for some extreme thrills, older children (over 1.4m) are now able to brave it backwards on the Swarm!

We're currently planning our own visit to the park, A & J can't wait to try out SAW - The Ride with L & H keen to have a go on Tidal Wave, which is one of the UK's tallest log flume rides. E won't be missing out either, she'll thoroughly enjoy the Storm in a Teacup & Chief Ranger's Carousel.

Tidal Wave at Thorpe Park

Right now if you book tickets 7 days or more in advance you can save 30%, with adult tickets available from £30.24 and children from £23.52 (under 12).
Even better…If you buy a bottle of Frijj, you can benefit from 2-for-1 entry at the park! Head over to Frijj on Facebook to find out more.

Coke are also giving away 2-for-1 Thorpe Park tickets every day but once they're gone, they're gone! And if you don't fancy the drive, then travelling with South West Trains can save your family money on entry too.

Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park
If you feel like one day isn’t enough then Thorpe Park now offer over-night stays at the park in their newly opened ‘Crash Pad’ accommodation, starting from just £64 per person & includes 2 days at the park and breakfast!

For more info and to plan & book your visit, go to thorpepark.com and let the thrill ride begin!

We have received complimentary tickets for Thorpe Park for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written in my own words.

Making stains Vanish

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Vanish Stain Removal
As a mum of five, I have my work cut out for me when it comes to the washing. Not only is there usually masses (and masses... and masses...) of it but more often than not I'm also greeted with various stains, namely grass (thank you, football), make up, chocolate and a selection of things from dinner to name but a few.

Vanish offered me the opportunity to try out some of their stain-removing products with the promise of "stain removal 1st time". I was dubious. My kids know how to put things through their paces and certainly aren't afraid of a little dirt and grime, and to be honest that is exactly how I want them to be. I grew up climbing trees and racing through fields & flinging cowpats with wild abandon, I don't want my kids to be afraid of mud. What is a childhood without a little dirt, after all?

After a particularly 'busy' day at her Nanny & Grampy's plant nursery, E successfully destroyed a pair of her - quite new - pink leggings. My own fault for putting her in pale pink leggings to go to the nursery really, you would think I would know better having grown up there myself. Apparently not.


The main thing was, E had a fun day knee deep in whatever mess she could find, she jumped in some puddles, she carried some plants around. It was a good day for getting grubby. The perfect opportunity for me to try out this stain removing formula from Vanish, then!

I washed the leggings first without any stain removal agents and as you can see, the mud stains didn't budge. Next, I used the Vanish Oxi Action (the pink tub) and made a paste with a little water, putting it on the grubbiest area of the leggings and giving it a good scrub with the underside of the scoop. Then I washed it as usual with my regular detergent, and I also added a scoop of Vanish to the wash.

And the end result...


No more mud stains! An almost brand new pair of leggings has been saved, excellent news for my wallet! I've also successfully banished some grass stains from J's chinos this week with the aid of Vanish so it definitely gets a big thumbs up from me.

If you have a handy hint for stain removal, check out the Vanish Tip Exchange on Facebook, if you submit a tip you could win £100 worth of M&S vouchers.


Vanish provided me with samples of Vanish stain removal powder for the purpose of this reviewThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in my own words.

The Summer Wardrobe Sort-Out

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Spring/Summer is finally here and that means one thing...

Sorting out the children's summer wardrobes.

I try not to overfill their wardrobes and keep to what we need, otherwise I think that I would literally drown in laundry. For example, they have enough t-shirts to last them a couple of weeks, smart trousers, play trousers, smart jeans, etc... The problem with swapping everything over for the change of season is that in the UK you're never quite sure what season you're going to wake up to regardless of the time of year.

I've sorted through all of their footwear too. The boys have outgrown all but one pair of their trainers, and I'm also now looking for something suitable for warmer weather. Preferably something wipe clean... I have, however, kept all of their wellingtons lined up on the shelves in the utility room. Those are probably the only things that never get put away.

E, too, is growing like a weed and her feet are no exception. She's gone through a pair of wellies already because she has just worn them to death, and so now we are shopping for girls footwear for the summer in addition to a new pair of wellingtons for little miss puddle jumper.
I've finally finished rearranging her wardrobe and she has plenty of cardis & leggings to go with her Summer dresses, we have to be prepared for all eventualities!

While not exactly what I am looking for right now, I have had my head turned by these gorgeous Owl Slippers from John Lewis during my search. They're not in E's current size but I suppose that there's nothing to stop me getting the next size up, you know, just to be organised... Maybe for Christmas... (I can justify that, can't I?!).

As for A... Well, I've been demoted from choosing anything (clothing, footwear... I really do mean anything) for A these days, at nearly fifteen she just needs me and the Mister to input our debit card details at the checkout. The joys of teenagers. I shouldn't complain really, letting her do it herself means less work for me!

Am I the only one who dreads the big seasonal wardrobe sort out? Do you have any tips for making it quicker and easier?


This is a sponsored post.

Mess-free creative play with Playfoam

Monday, 20 May 2013


Our unpredictable weather, even during the great British Summer, means that you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep the littles entertained on rainy days.

For some, the mere thought of messy play brings them out in a cold sweat. I'm not the biggest fan I have to admit, but I have learned to love it for the sake of the kids, who absolutely adore getting stuck in and covered in who knows what. BUT - if you really can't stomach the clean up & cringe at the thought of a rainbow being smeared lovingly across your walls or modelling dough being mashed in to your carpet, then Learning Resources may have just the thing for you with all of the creativity and none of the mess.

We were sent this combo 8-pack of Playfoam in beautiful vibrant colours to try, with the promise that not only is it non-toxic and mess free, but that it also doesn't dry out. E took on the challenge of road-testing it & the results were surprising.
With a product that is designed to be sticky, that sticks together, your immediate thought is that despite its promises, it will indeed stick to the floor/table/your hands/the dog. Well, I was wrong. E gave Playfoam a good mashing, and there was absolutely no residue left on anything and no stray bits of Playfoam stuck anywhere else except to each other.

We had great fun creating all sorts of things, including a very colourful butterfly, and after over a week of being left in a tub with the lid off, it has not dried out and is in the same condition it arrived in. Well almost, the colours are of course a bit of a mash-up now that it is has been squashed and squished every which way imaginable, but that doesn't affect its quality at all. Mess-free creative play it certainly is, and something that will be enjoyed by E (and the bigger kids!) again and again.

Head over to Learning Resources Facebook page, where they are currently offering fans the chance to win one of five combo 8-packs of Playfoam, which ends on Friday 7th June 2013. Good luck!

Learning Resources provided us with a combo 8-pack of Playfoam for the purpose of this reviewThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in my own words.

Meal Plan Monday 200513

Monday, 20 May 2013


Monday 20th May - Chicken & bacon salad

Tuesday 21st May - Brinner*

Wednesday 22nd May - Honey & mustard roasted chicken with swede & carrot mash and mixed veg

Thursday 23rd May - Omelette & chips/sweet potato fries

Friday 24th May - Fajitas with lettuce wraps

Saturday 25th May - Italian shredded beef

Sunday 26th May - Roast pork

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

Meal Plan Monday 130513

Monday, 13 May 2013


Monday 13th May - Sausages with root vegetable mash

Tuesday 14th May - Honey dill chicken & salad

Wednesday 15th May - Brinner

Thursday 16th May - Courgette Bolognese

Friday 17th May - Fajitas with lettuce wraps

Saturday 18th May - Farmer's Pie

Sunday 19th May - Roast chicken

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

Happy 2nd Blogoversary Mama Owl!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy birthday to meeeeee!
Well sort of, it's my blog's two year 'blogoversary' today. Two years ago I shared my very first post. It took about six more months or so for me to start blogging beyond meal plans and recipes, but here we are and we're still going strong.

Thank you so much to my lovely readers, fellow bloggers and lovely Twitter friends who have supported me by reading, retweeting & sharing my posts. It's an honour to have been welcomed so warmly into the blogging community and I am thoroughly enjoying sharing in your lives through your blogs & tweets. Whether you're reducing me to tears of sadness or simply making me cry with laughter, I am enjoying every minute of this experience and can't wait to meet lots of you next month at Britmums.

Now, let's celebrate!

I have lots of amazing prizes to give away courtesy of some fabulous companies so enter them all and cross those fingers and you could be a lucky winner!

You do not need to have a blog to enter or leave a comment on this blog, simply use the name/URL or 'anonymous' option from the drop-down list, and please make sure that your name is in each comment if you use these options.

Please take note of the terms & conditions that apply to all competitions -
  • Competitions are open to UK residents only.
  • The giveaways end at midnight on June 1st 2013.
  • A separate comment must be left for each competition entry.
  • All entries will be verified before the winners are announced.
  • If a prize is not claimed within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn.
  • The winners will be contacted directly by the companies sponsoring the prizes.
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.


First up we have a fantastic prize of a gorgeous Lena Sheep Pillow Friend, generously sponsored by Zulily UK. Super soft and fluffy, this cute character will soon be your little one's favourite bedtime buddy.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next - another fabulous prize from Zulily UK of a £20 voucher to spend on their website!

Zulily UK is a new online store offering daily sales events on top-quality apparel, gear and other goodies for mums, babies and kids. They carry the best brands at the lowest prices, members enjoy savings of up to 90% off retail prices so sign up today and bag yourself a bargain!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The wonderful people from FreePhotoPrinting.co.uk have sponsored the fabulous prize of a personalised iPad case, so you can wrap your tablet in your own cherished family photos.
The lightweight and hard wearing cases not only look fantastic, but also help to protect your tablet from bumps, scratches and any little sticky fingers!

FreePhotoPrinting.co.uk finds the best free print deals on the web, checks them, lists all the best places to get free prints and even negotiates the occasional exclusive photo printing offer!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

There’s truly something for everyone at The Blackpool Tower, and here's your chance to win a family ticket (up to 2 adults and 2 children or 4 people) to The Blackpool Tower which gives you access to four fantastic attractions - The Blackpool Tower Eye, The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, The Blackpool Tower Circus and Jungle Jim’s Children’s Indoor Play.




Enjoy a little piece of the Mediterranean in your own home with a stunning Bougainvillea plant (13cm pot, worth £18.50) generously sponsored by RHS Gold medal winners Westdale Nurseries.

Widely believed to be the world's most versatile and colourful plant, Bougainvillea can be trained in many ways including as a hanging basket, standard or even a bonsai. Available in a vast array of stunning colours, Bougainvillea will brighten your home & be admired by all!




Good luck everyone!

Zulily Styles... Miss E!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The fabulous people at Zulily UK know a thing or two when it comes to stylish kidswear. With daily deals from top designers at the lowest prices (up to 90% off retail prices) on things for kids, babies and mums, there are some serious bargains to be had.

Zulily kindly sent some items for E to road-test from their fantastic selection of top brands.

Here E is modelling a blue long-sleeved pppPockets Fish Kingdom t-shirt, that comes with two adorable finger puppets (a pink octopus & a brightly coloured fish) which she LOVES. Clothes that she can wear and play with, such a clever idea!
In a lovely soft jersey material, it is perfect attire for being outside on a rainy Spring day, you can see her clambering through the long grass to leave some peanuts for her little chum "Mr Squirrel", who lives in the trees down the lane near Nanny & Grampy's house.

E's beautiful red polka dot raincoat is by Sugar Pink, that I purchased from Zulily during one of their events.


As I am sure you have noticed, we're huge fans of owls here, and we are so completely in love with this amazing Stephen Joseph Owl Go-Go Bag.

E is currently using it for her snacks & drinks on visits to see her Grandparents and on our days out, and also to carry around her favourite toys when we're on the go. She's looking forward to using it when she starts nursery school in September too, she's getting far too grown up for my liking!


These comfy sheepskin lined lilac mini Eskimo boots by mou-online from Zulily are a big hit with E. She's enjoyed wearing them around the house like they are slippers because they are just so cosy and warm on her feet! They're slightly too big for her at the moment, so we're hoping that they will last through to the Autumn, because they'll be perfect for keeping her wee small toeses warm on chilly Autumn days!


Keep up to date with Zulily's daily offers, news & events by subscribing to their email list and have their deals sent straight to your inbox so you don't miss out. You can also find them on facebook and twitter.

Zulily UK are also sponsoring Mama Owl's 2nd birthday celebrations which launch this Saturday (May 11th 2013) so be sure to check back for your chance to win some fantastic prizes.


Zulily UK sent us the pppPockets t-shirt, mou boots and Stephen Joseph bag for the purpose of this reviewThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in my own words.

The Weekend #theGallery

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

And what a lovely weekend it was!

Gardening, family, friends, sunshine, a Bank Holiday and a barbecue. Perfection! I think E's face says it all.


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

Bank Holiday Bouncing

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Wasn't it so nice to have a Bank Holiday where the sun actually came out! We had such a good day, the Mister got out to do some gardening, I managed to get some cleaning done while the kids raced in and out of the house to the garden and back again, it was just really nice not to have to do anything, just doing whatever we wanted all together.

The lovely Jo from Ojo's World came to visit with the family & we sat and had a cuppa while the kids played out in the garden, she even bought me this fabulous mug! Isn't it wonderful? A perfect addition to my kitchen owl family & it looks fab with my cookie jar!

Jo's boys and my brood had great fun out on our new Trampoline together having a good old bounce in the sunshine. Our previous one had seen better days but I couldn't bring myself to take it down because the kids loved it so much, so when the opportunity to review a 12ft Skyhigh Trampoline with Safety Enclosure from trampolinesshop.co.uk came up it was like fate, the children were thrilled!

The Mister admittedly was less enthused because this meant disassembling the old one, and putting up the new Trampoline (hehe) however the assembly of the Skyhigh was straightforward and he managed it alone (or rather, with a little help from H) and in just over an hour.

The Skyhigh Trampoline from Big Game Hunters consists of the Trampoline frame, springs, safety pad and Trampoline bed as well as a a spring tool, and the Enclosure (which closes using four clips rather than a zip) comprises of the netting, poles and all fixings along with instructions.

There are a wide range of accessories available to purchase separately, including Trampoline tents (a brilliant idea if ever there was one), ladders and even shoe bags, plus parts for spares and repairs. All parts of the Trampoline also come with individual warranties for added peace of mind.

I think my favourite thing about Trampolines is that as well as being a lot of fun for all ages (important for our family with teens, tweens and a toddler), they are great exercise and the children are always more than willing to get outside and have a jump on it - particularly handy if they have extra energy to burn off, too!

After our Barbecue the children bounced off their dinner before we called them all in and bathed them ready for bed. A busy but thoroughly lovely day resulting in tired and happy kids - what can be better than that!


Big Game Hunters provided us with a 12ft Skyhigh Trampoline with Enclosure for the purpose of this reviewThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in my own words.

Meal Plan Monday 060513

Monday, 6 May 2013


Monday 6th May - Barbecue (gf/wf sausages, homemade lamb burgers, smoky country style ribs served with salad)

Tuesday 7th May - Bacon wrapped meatloaf

Wednesday 8th May - Whole roasted chicken with root vegetables & cauliflower mash

Thursday 9th May - Kebabs with cauliflower rice

Friday 10th May - Paleo Spaghetti

Saturday 11th May - Stuffed & wrapped chicken breast, served with rocket salad

Sunday 12th May - Roast beef

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

The Queen of the (Sand) Castle #CountryKids

Saturday, 4 May 2013


I'm not entirely sure if she was the Queen of the castle or more like the dirty rascal by the time these little sand monkeys had finished digging and building in the sandpit.


There is nothing quite like having a good old dig in the sand. Something so simple but loved by almost all kids, even if it is actually quite hated by me because sand gets absolutely everywhere! I have learned to live with it though.

E had a really lovely afternoon building, knocking over and rebuilding sandcastles in the sunshine with two of her cousins - C & F - at Nanny & Grampy's house and I hope that they get many more opportunities to play together this Spring/Summer.


I have linked this post with Coombe Mill's #CountryKids linky.

Happy Feet

Friday, 3 May 2013

Finding shoes for teenagers can be, what can be only be described as, a mission. They need to be the right brand, the right fit, the right colour... You have to consider comfort, style, and of course for us parents, price.

I browsed the range of trainers available from Barratts Shoes looking for something for A, I knew what I liked the look of but of course, had to consult with her before I chose anything. God forbid I choose anything that she hasn't approved!

I invited her to guest-post for me to share her opinion on the American Flag Lace-up Casual Trainers that she eventually decided on, and so here are her thoughts in her own words...


"I really like the trainers because they're well padded and comfy, although I found that when they were done up all the way they were a bit tight around my ankles. The zip was rather irritating however because it kept coming undone slowly, but it didn't really make much difference to me wearing them, I hardly noticed it.

They have good grip on the soles and when I finally get off the laptop and learn to skateboard like I have been meaning to for ages, they'll be very good for holding to the grip tape on the board. So they will be will be good support for my feet and ankles. I really like the material and the pattern and they have quite a thick sole so they'll be hard wearing and I think will last quite a while."

And so I have a happy teenager, it must be a miracle! She selected this style of trainer in black, and they are also available in brown.


Barratts Shoes provided us with a pair of American Flag Lace-up Casual Trainers free of charge for the purpose of this reviewThe views shared are my daughter's own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in her own words.

The Perfect Birthday Present

Friday, 3 May 2013

I honestly cannot believe how fast the past three years have gone. One minute I have just given birth to a beautiful olive skinned, dark haired baby girl and the next thing I know she is a walking, talking, confident & intelligent little girl starting to forge her way in the world. Next year, she will be starting school. How is this even possible? She was just born!


She is a real girly girl despite the influence of her three older brothers. While she will happily run and play and kick a ball, and enjoy rough & tumble on the trampoline, more than anything she loves pink and princesses, dollies and playing 'mums'. She will spend hours playing quietly with her favourite animal family figures. She loves to imitate her home life, and one of her favourite things to do is play 'house'.


I put a lot of thought in to what to give her for her birthday. It needed to be something that she would get a lot of use out of as well as being something she would really like, & also be able to enjoy with her friends. She has plenty of toys already, so I wanted it to be something really special.
I love the range of toy kitchens from WoodenToyShop.co.uk and was delighted when they invited me to review a wooden kitchen of my choice. I selected the contemporary style John Crane Tidlo Kitchen Station, we gave it to E on her birthday and she absolutely loves it.


It is beautiful quality and the colours are bold & stunning, it really is a lovely sturdy little kitchen and will be perfect to furnish her playhouse when it arrives. It includes four hobs, a sink with mixer tap, utensils, pots and pans, a cruet set, a full oven, cupboard and side tea towel holder.

It is the perfect height for her, and there is plenty of space in the cupboard to store her play food items & accessories. She has played with the kitchen every day in the week since her birthday, I can tell that it is going to be well loved.

Now she can have her friends & cousins over for 'lunch' and play house to her little heart's content!


Wooden Toy Shop provided us with a John Crane Tidlo Kitchen Station free of charge for the purpose of this review. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and are written entirely in my own words.

Fruity Fro-Yo Lollies

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Mister & I may have been a little over zealous with our fruit purchases this week. As in, I bought strawberries, he bought strawberries, we had a bunch of blueberries, raspberries and some pineapples... It was a veritable fruit-a-palooza in my fridge.

Fruit of course doesn't last forever and while we are a family of fruit lovers, I could see that we weren't going to get through it all before it went bad... So, I used my initiative and whipped up some after-school treats for the kids.

INGREDIENTS

10 oz fruit of your choice - we used pineapple, blueberries, strawberries & raspberries
100ml fruit juice of your choice - we used apple
200g greek yoghurt - we used TOTAL


METHOD
Blend all of your ingredients all up together in a jug, and then simply pour it into your ice lolly mould before putting in the freezer for at least four hours, or overnight. I also used my miniature jelly moulds to make extra little portions to go in with the boys' packed lunches, and a larger one for A to take to school (as by lunchtime they should have defrosted enough for them to eat with a spoon!). If you feel the need, you can also sweeten them a little with a tsp of honey or agave nectar.

Quick, easy and a delicious & refreshing treat for a sunny Spring afternoon - and no unnecessary waste!

Family Days Out - Bristol Zoo Gardens

Thursday, 2 May 2013


On Sunday we packed up the car and headed to Bristol Zoo Gardens for the day as part of E's birthday celebrations (because as I mentioned before, I don't do kids parties when I can avoid doing so and would rather spend the money on a family day out). It cost us less than £50 for the tickets for all seven of us as we purchased them online in advance, and an additional £3 to park. We didn't arrive until lunchtime after some initial poor planning & general faffing about in the morning, but we got there eventually and luckily - although overcast with a bit of a chill in the breeze - the weather was in our favour. My sister L joined us, along with her partner R & daughter C.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

BZG is a really lovely family day out. The website says "At Bristol Zoo Gardens you can enjoy an amazing world of animals, and from 23 March until 8 September, dinosaurs, all within our award-winning 12 acre gardens. With over 400 species and nine animals houses under cover, it's one of the best days out in Bristol whatever the weather" and I would have to agree, all of the children (ages 15, 14, 12, 9, 7 and 3) were entertained for the entire afternoon and we didn't have one single instance of whining - which is no mean feat!

Bristol Zoo Gardens

The kids really enjoyed seeing the two lion cubs - Kamran and Ketan - playing and running around, and at certain times throughout the day you are able to watch the keepers feeding and giving talks about the animals in their houses. The kids loved watching the South American fur seal talk, L was particularly impressed by how clever and well trained they are.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

There is a big open green in the middle of the zoo, perfect for sitting to enjoy a picnic and also where the terrace theatre is located. There is a big adventure playground as well as many activities around the zoo that the kids can try out, such as measuring your 'wing span', timing how long you are able to hold your breath and even sitting inside an 'egg' (see my little hatchlings below). Right now you can also follow the Dino trail and see the lifesize animatronic dinosaurs which were a big hit with my kids.

I would highly recommend taking your own picnic (which we did) as, in my opinion, the cafe is a little overpriced although I have found that that does tend to be the case for most days out. My one real complaint would be the state of the toilets, which were rather grim and smelled awful. On the other hand, the rest of the zoo is very well maintained with beautiful gardens and the animals are clearly well cared for.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

It is nice to see the refurbishments going on and we will definitely visit again sometime to see the new Gorilla enclosure when it is complete. I think it is worth the entrance fee taking in to consideration that it is a charity and relies on donations to continue its conservation work. There are also other activities within the zoo that are charged separately (face painting, ropes course etc) so it is worth thinking about that when planning your day out.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

E thoroughly enjoyed her birthday trip to BZG as did the big kids (and the grown ups!), and we have some lovely memories of our day out together.

I've linked up this post with Mich's Reasons to be Cheerful, what are your #R2BC this week?

Just me... #TheGallery

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

I've been struggling with the theme for this week's #TheGallery post. It is 'self portrait'. For a woman who actively avoids the camera at every opportunity, choosing a photo to represent myself to actually SHOW people is very difficult.

I'm a lot of things to a lot of people. Mostly I'm a mum... But I'm also a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend. I get so caught up with daily life and things that need to be done that I often forget that I am also a woman, I am also just Julie. Just me.

I eventually chose a photograph that was taken when I was just being me. After my heart scare last year I went away for a week with my best friend to rest & recharge, leaving the Mister in charge at home. K and I had the most amazing time and I came home feeling like a new woman. It was exactly what I needed.

So here I am. Lots of things to lots of people, but here just being me.


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