Mama OWL Blog: November 2013

#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"

Moustache?

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?"

Sigh.

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 A BARGAIN

HUNTER GATHERER

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.

The Chocolate Lover's Gift Guide

Thursday, 21 November 2013

I am a massive chocolate fan, hand me a box of chocs and I will be your friend for life. Or until the chocolates run out (I'm not great at sharing either, it should be known). My favourite types of chocolate are mint, orange and dark. Though to be fair I'd not say no to any other type - unless it contained whole nuts, in which case we'd have to have a conversation.

This Christmas you can treat your family & friends to a selection of delicious festive chocolates from Tesco, created by the master chocolatiers behind Hotel Chocolat & Harrods, providing affordable luxury for all.

There is something to suit every budget - these Gingerbread Stars come in a square presentation box and would make a lovely gift or stocking filler. Made of milk chocolate and topped with caramelised biscuit & ginger crumble and white chocolate, priced at £4 they are perfect for a teacher's present.

A good chunky size with eight in a box, the Gingerbread stars were well received by my kids who are always keen to try out sweet treats (and found me sharing chocolate quite a novelty!). Ginger really says 'Christmas' to me so these are just perfect for the festive season, as well as easy on the wallet.

Also available are Raspberry Brownie Buttons - dark chocolate buttons with a white chocolate swirl, topped with brownie chunks and freeze-dried raspberry pieces, also priced at £4.

If you're looking to buy something a little more special, you could consider the Chokablok Cherry Merry Christmas, which not only looks fabulous it smells AMAZING too.

Cherry Merry Christmas is a black forest gateau flavoured dark chocolate slab presented in a Christmas tree shape and decorated with a white chocolate swirl, topped with dried cherries and brownie pieces.


Priced at £5, Chokablok is also available in Santastic Cinnamon (another spice that makes me think of Christmas!) and Christmas Pudding flavours. A fab gift idea for friends, or for a teenager who perhaps might prefer a more grown-up chocolate gift instead of a selection box.

The Chokablok Cherry Merry Christmas was delicious, a very rich dark chocolate and flavoursome toppings that really feel like a treat in addition to the mouthwatering aroma.

I'm hoping to find the Santastic Cinnamon one under the tree this year - Mister, if you're reading this... I don't think I could have given you a bigger hint. Thanks. Love you!


All products are available in Tesco stores nationwide & online at tesco.com.


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

#theGallery : Nature

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

It doesn't matter how cold it is outside, looking through the window at Autumn sunshine streaming through brilliantly coloured leaves makes you feel warm and snug.

However - standing out in it and watching football is another matter entirely and I was grateful of the extra layers, hat, coat and wellies I had put on to brave the elements. Moments like these, captured on a local school's playing field (though admittedly it looks a bit like a prison fence... the students may well argue that it is) are what will keep me warm through Winter, memories of warm colours and beautiful crisp sunshine.


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

Meal Plan Monday 181113

Monday, 18 November 2013


Monday 18th November - Brinner*

Tuesday 19th November - Homemade curry

Wednesday 20th November - Baked potatoes

Thursday 21st November - Cheese & tomato pasta bake

Friday 22nd November - Chicken enchiladas & nachos

Saturday 23rd November - Fish pie

Sunday 24th November - Roast

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

Revising for GCSEs

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Anything you want to know about my teenage daughter you could probably find out just by looking at her desk.

You've got the Kerrang posters of Asking Alexandria, a mug - we'll gloss over the fact that she's left it on her desk instead of putting it in the dishwasher - that previously held her coffee (a habit she's unfortunately picked up from me... the coffee drinking that is, not leaving the cup out), her school tie, earphones, her trademark hat. A folder full of revision notes tucked down the back, photographs of family, and a bucket full of stationery & supplies.

From that - she loves her family, music & coffee, and she is a good student.

And this here is the space in which she revises for her upcoming GCSEs. The desk may look a bit haphazard to the untrained eye, but she knows where everything is and has everything she needs to hand.
Pencils, pens & a wirebound notebook to make revision notes and memos, post-its for bookmarking important pages in her revision guides & soon to stick to her wall behind the desk (we've said she can create a "revision mind map" to help her organise it all) as well as extras like Pritt Stick for coursework projects & white labels to organise her folders.

Shoplet.co.uk kindly sent us a sample pack of office supplies that are proving invaluable for A's revision & GCSE preparation, and she is all set for next Summer's examinations.
We've given her a quiet space to work and study, and the rest is now up to her, with us supporting her along the way.

Wish her luck!



We received a complimentary sample pack of office supplies for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Sport in the Autumn Sunshine

Saturday, 16 November 2013

We're fast approaching the cold, long Winter months now so moments like these are something to hang on to and remember when the frost sets in.

Last Sunday the weather was glorious. Chilly, but the sun was beating down and two of my boys were in their element out on the fields playing football and training for rugby.

E came along in the afternoon to see J play football, and she played in the trees next to the pitch, collecting leaves and scooting along the paths with H.


At rugby, two minutes silence was observed at 11am and the club had organised a bugler to play 'The Last Post' on the clubhouse balcony while the children all stood together up & down the playing fields, and at football that afternoon the teams held a two minute silence before kick off to honour and remember our war heroes.




H was chosen as captain for tomorrow's rugby match, and J's football team went on to win their match 5-3.

It was beautiful day spent outside in the Autumn sunshine, and absolutely one to remember.

I've linked this post with #CountryKids at Coombe Mill and #MagicMoments at The Oliver's Madhouse.

Make Your Own Wall Art

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I could spend hours on Pinterest, oohing and ahhing over all of the cool ideas for personalised wall and canvas art. One of my favourite things though, are the personalised prints with name and birth details. I saw these online years ago and just loved them, and made my own for the children. Admittedly, only the girls have theirs framed and on the wall of their bedroom currently - but I have made some for the boys, I've just not printed or framed them yet! #RubbishMum

circus theme wall artI think they make a beautiful addition to a child's bedroom, but I hate how expensive they can be and I wanted to share how easy it is to make your own. There are so many different ways to design your own personalised wall art - you can go for a simple image with name & date of birth, or just text with all birth details. You can choose to match the theme of your child's bedroom (like this circus themed design I made for my nephew), or simply to match the colours... Use a full name, or just the initial. You can print and frame your design, or have it printed on to a canvas, the choices are endless.

Have a quick google for free fonts and you will find literally hundreds to choose from. If you want circus themed fonts for your design, or wild west fonts, space fonts or farm fonts - there are loads available for free at the click of a mouse.

Likewise, if you're looking for free clipart for your design, just google it! Obviously you must only use certain images with permission but there are many sites available to download free or very reasonably priced graphics.

wall art for teenagers
You don't have to go with cutesy themes for a new baby's nursery either, a funky font for an edgier design to go on the wall in a teen or tween's room is perfectly achievable too and would look great on a canvas. You could even make them to give away as home-made gifts, something to consider with Christmas coming up.

I use Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 to create my designs, but you can easily make basic designs in Microsoft Works Word Processor and I find are best printed at A4 size. I then purchase my frames either online (eBay, if you want to look for a bulk purchase for gifts perhaps) or in-store at places like Wilkos, where you can choose from a wide selection of good quality & inexpensive frames.

personalised wall art

You can then choose to print your design either at home on your own printer using photo paper (if you want a nice glossy finish) or regular A4, or you can upload it to an online printing company such as Photobox or Snapfish to have printed and then posted to you. Double check all of your dimensions & the preview before printing, you don't want to send something off to print only to have it come back with half of the image missing. Trust me, I have done this before, it's infuriating!

You can create all kinds of designs for any occasion or purpose, including your own cards for birthdays or Mother's/Father's Day. You could print your designs on mousepads, tea towels, t-shirts, tote bags - the possibilities are endless.

You might also like to try out Tagxedo to create your own word cloud art, there is a handy tutorial here if you need it.

Will you be creating your own homemade gifts for Christmas this year?

Christmas Bucket List

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

After the success of my #AutumnBucketList (I even created a board on Pinterest to keep track of all of our activities), I decided to create a Christmas Bucket List to keep a running record of all the lovely things we plan to do over the festive period.

As well as fun things for us to do & enjoy together as a family, I really want to give to charities locally too. The Salvation Army in Trowbridge, Wiltshire is accepting donations of (new) toys, games and books for children up to age 16 as well as financial donations.
I'm going to take my kids to choose something each for them to donate, so that they can fully realise for themselves the importance of giving and helping people. We don't have much, but we are much better off than many, I honestly cannot bear the thought of children waking up to nothing on Christmas morning and I hope that this will help someone in some way.

We'll also be making a donation to a local food bank, because frankly nobody should be going hungry in this country in this day and age and if there is anything I can do to help, then I want to do it. I don't think I could sit at our dining table on Christmas Day with a clear conscience knowing that people in my community will be going hungry if I had done nothing at all.

Will you be writing a Christmas Bucket List?


Meal Plan Monday 111113

Monday, 11 November 2013


Monday 11th November - Brinner*

Tuesday 12th November - Farmer's Pie

Wednesday 13th November - BBQ Crock Pot Chicken

Thursday 14th November - Toad in the hole

Friday 15th November - Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken breasts with roasted vegetables

Saturday 16th November - Spaghetti bolognese

Sunday 17th November - Roast

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

My Little Pony - Call of the Cutie

Friday, 8 November 2013

We... Er... E thoroughly enjoyed reviewing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Welcome to Ponyville on DVD, and so we were delighted to be given the opportunity to watch the brand new release of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Call of the Cutie.

Call of the Cutie follows Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo on their mission to discover their unique talents and gain their 'cutie marks' (the special marks that appear on a pony’s flank once they've found their life's purpose).

The ponies decide to found a secret society – “The Cutie Mark Crusaders”. Their quest takes them on a fun-filled journey, learning valuable lessons about friendship & working together along the way.

With a running time of 1 hr & 50 mins and featuring 5 episodes as well as other special features, Call of the Cutie will make a great stocking filler for any My Little Pony fans this Christmas. E really enjoyed the stories and found this DVD engaging and entertaining, she has been adding to her list for weeks now so I imagine come Christmas Day I'll be overrun with MLP!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Call of the Cutie is available now from Clearvision and other good retailers priced at £8.99, certified U.

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

Autumn Leaf Rolling

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Let me start by saying that I can take absolutely no credit for this whatsoever, this was entirely H's idea.

I came downstairs one morning to find H & E sitting quietly at the table together playing play-doh. H goes to clay club after school one afternoon every week, and one of the things they had learned was leaf rolling. He had gone out to the back garden and picked some leaves, then brought them in and had shown E how to make her own leaf art.

He went through it step by step with her, and these were the results.
They had set up the table with their wooden boards, shape cutters and tools and were having a great time. I definitely need to either make or buy some more play-doh for them because they spent ages sitting together making things and I'd really like to encourage more of that creativity.

...And the fact that they were sitting almost silently the entire time has nothing to do with it.

Try it yourself, Autumn leaf rolling!

Making Family Laundry Less of a Chore

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hotpoint Family Washing Machine
As a family of seven, we generate a fair amount of laundry.

Between the Mister's work clothes, four sets of school uniform including PE kits, five kids worth of general clothing (one of those being a teenage girl...), two adults, household laundry (towels, bedding), swimming kits several times weekly and two - soon to be three - lots of sports kit (plus the occasional whole team kit wash) it sometimes feels like all I do is unload and reload the washing machine.

It's no surprise that my old 6kg washing machine gave up the ghost after numerous repairs, it just wasn't up to the job. The search was on for a machine that could withstand our household workload, and after having a browse I found a Hotpoint washing machine available at Argos online here. It ticked all the boxes, perfect for the busy family, with an 8kg capacity and it even includes an anti-stain cycle which is ideal for my rugby & football playing sons (and husband...).

Hotpoint Ultima WMUD843P
The Hotpoint Ultima WMUD843P also features a child lock, a 30 minute quick wash cycle for those last minute school-trousers-that-missed-the-wash moments at 6.30am, a bed & bath cycle, and a handy delayed start feature that means I can set it to begin whenever I need it to - so if I have to go out, I can leave the dishwasher on and also set the washing machine to start when the dishes have finished, meaning a more efficient use of my time. When I get home, the dishes and the laundry are done and I can go about my business without any waiting around.

I have been putting the washing machine through its paces and I am delighted. It is quiet, efficient and the results have been better than I could have hoped for. The bed & bath cycle is perfect for freshening up a duvet, and makes light work of the bath towels.
The anti-stain wash did the trick for the U13s football team kit that the Mister brought home (without any intention of washing it himself... he's a giver) and they have come out mud-free & practically gleaming.

The interactive digital display makes it simple to set up meaning even the big kids will be able to put their own washing on without too much trouble, I can create my own wash cycle meaning that they can do it with the simple push of a button and hopefully no "Muuuummmm... Which one do I need to put it on?".

Though to be honest, I'm not holding my breath for that last bit.


This is a featured post in association with ArgosThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

{Autumn Bucket List} Carve a Pumpkin (or five)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Let me start by saying - carving pumpkins is bloody hard work! The kids start out well but I always end up being the one to scrape out the majority of the flesh & seeds which results in severe arm ache.

We do enjoy our pumpkin carving though. Every year the kids look at pictures online & choose a design that they want on their pumpkin and I then draw them on (an artist I am not) before the Mister & I carve them out. The kids also help by prodding holes around the design to aid the process!
This year L chose Mr Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas, E asked for a spider and H decided on a spooky face. Earlier in the week E attended her friend's Halloween party and we carved a Jack O'Lantern and H designed his own Frankenstein face.

Last year the kids chose King Boo from Mario Kart, an owl (naturally), a ghost and a skeleton face for their pumpkin carving designs. We were short two kids this year as J was out trick or treating with his friends and A was on holiday in the Canary Islands with her Grandmother for the week, as well as having a visit from the Winter lurg it meant that our Halloween was a lot quieter than anticipated but it was still a nice evening in the end.

We got dressed up (okay, the kids did), made some toffee apples, answered the door to the few groups of ToTers that we did get, and watched Monster House before bedtime. All in all, it was a lovely family Halloween at home.

#50Books2013 - October Round-Up

Monday, 4 November 2013


You may have noticed that the #50Books2013 October round-up is a bit late... That's because October was frankly a shocking month on many counts and I haven't even looked at a book never mind picked one up to read it.
We've sadly suffered a loss in the family, and been dealing with illness as well as trying to support some dear friends & family through difficult times and everything has fallen a bit by the wayside. L has started tae kwon-do so I am hoping that on a Tuesday evening when he is training I will be able to sneak in some reading time during that hour.

There is absolutely no bloody way I am going to manage 50 books by the end of the year at this rate, I'll be impressed if I manage it by the end of next year at my current pace. I'm still reading The Mortal Instruments series and I will also be reading & reviewing The Mistletoe Bride & other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse.

I haven't been around to visit blogs that have taken part, I'm so sorry - but please please leave your links here and I will get round and visit you all, as I said last month, part of my #AutumnBucketList is to find more time to read again, and I am determined to so I would love to find out what you have been reading and add some more titles to my reading list.

You can 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 recent book review to share please link up below, you don't have to be an active part of #50Books2013 to share. As always, thank you for taking part in this challenge with me. You can email or tweet your reviews to me by 25th November to be included in the next round-up please.

Thanks to everyone for taking part and supporting this linky - despite my rubbishness! See you next later this month!

Meal Plan Monday 041113

Monday, 4 November 2013


Monday 4th November - Brinner*

Tuesday 5th November - Sausage & bacon rolls and fried onions or baked potatoes with barbecue baked beans with toasted marshmallows for dessert

Wednesday 6th November - Beef stew

Thursday 7th November - Spaghetti bolognese & homemade garlic, herb & parmesan baguettes

Friday 8th November - Enchiladas

Saturday 9th November - Homemade pasties with mashed potatoes & salad

Sunday 10th November - Roast lamb

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

{Autumn Bucket List} Make Toffee Apples

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Toffee apples are the ultimate Autumn treat. It might well be tooth decay on a stick, but as long as you practice good dental hygiene, the odd treat here and there isn't going to hurt in my humble opinion - besides, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Though I do recommend licking these rather than biting them...

These couldn't be easier to make, and they're great to enjoy on bonfire night.

All you need is the following:

6 apples
Lolly sticks (or forks will do)
A shop-bought 400g pack of original toffee sweets (Werthers are ideal)
2 tablespoons of milk (or water)
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

  1. Put your apples in a colander and pour over some boiling water to enable the toffee to stick more easily to the skin.
  2. Insert the lolly sticks (or forks) in to your apples, and place them on a silicon baking sheet (or if like me you couldn't find yours, a silicon cake mould will do!). I would recommend the silicon rather than greaseproof paper, as it often sticks whereas it peels straight off the silicon.
  3. Combine the toffee, milk/water and vanilla in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring, until it has melted and is smooth.
  4. When your toffee is ready, dip the apples in one by one, coating them thoroughly before placing them back on the silicon to set.
We decorated ours with some melted white chocolate and sprinkles & I have it on good authority that they tasted great... since I didn't actually get one.

Do you have any favourite bonfire night treats?
I have linked this post with #MagicMoments at The Oliver's Madhouse.

All for one & Onesies for all!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The nights are drawing in, the air is getting chillier and it's very much the season for snuggling up in your cosiest PJs on the sofa of an evening, or for staying comfy on a lazy Sunday afternoon at home.

All five of my kids love onesies, it is without doubt their pyjama of choice. Some styles are basically like wearing a giant hooded jumper, and they all love nothing more than zipping themselves into their jimjams and burrowing under the duvet (only for me and their Dad to have to drag them out the next day). My tweens and teens would happily hibernate right now if they could get away with it.

Debenhams have a wide range of styles and designs of kids onesies and pyjamas to suit all ages & tastes. H loves the 'Cut the Rope' game on his tablet and was thrilled with this vibrant design, and a typically girly girl E loved the pretty pink edging on her 'SLEEP' onesie from bluezoo, which I am hoping will subliminally deliver that very message to her...

A big fan of the hoodie, L has had to be bribed out of his bluezoo black skull printed onesie, he'd go to school in it if we let him (we don't, despite his pleading). He and H enjoy spending Saturday mornings exploring the Skylands in their jimjams, & very comfy they look too. J declined to be photographed in his bluezoo geo print jersey onesie but I can assure you, it is the ideal attire for sprawling across the beanbag in his room to play XBOX in.

The children are delighted with their onesies, all of them are comfortable to wear and have washed very well, without fading or losing their shape (an issue I have had with others in the past). I'm quite tempted to treat myself to a onesie this year, the Mister might even get his dressing gown back!

Are you a onesie-wearer or do you prefer the more traditional style of pyjamas?

The children received complimentary onesies from Debenhams for review purposesThe views shared are our own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Bonfire Night Bangers

Friday, 1 November 2013

It's not bonfire night without fried onions!I have fond memories of bonfire night from my childhood... Huge bonfires, magnificent firework displays, little gloved hands clutching sparklers tight, and tucking into delicious sausage & bacon rolls on a crisp Autumn night.

It's a tradition I've carried on with my family, every year we have a special themed dinner for Guy Fawkes night. The kids love having sausage & bacon rolls, stuffed full of fried onions and slathered in their favourite sauces. They're best enjoyed in front of a roaring bonfire, you might even enjoy toasting some marshmallows for dessert!

We were sent some spoiltpig sausages & Denhay smoked streaky bacon to try out ahead of the big night to celebrate British Sausage Week (4th-11th November 2013).

Along with Eat 17 chilli bacon jam (which is my new favourite and tastes absolutely AMAZING), Tracklements spicy tomato sauce & spiced honey mustard, we had all of the necessary ingredients to create some mouthwatering delights.

We opted for our traditional sausage & bacon rolls, with a dollop of chilli bacon jam. The spoiltpig pork & herb sausages are my favourite, and I reluctantly shared them with the Mister & kids who enjoyed them just as much as I did!

Alternatively, spoiltpig sausages are ideal for a warming winter casserole. Simply brown them in a pan before slicing up and adding to your slow cooker with your favourite vegetables and gravy, and you've got a filling meal to come home to after a busy day - you could even stir in a spoonful of chilli bacon jam to give it a bit of a kick!

Denhay Farms are running a competition this week over on their Facebook page asking fans to submit their sausage recipes (with a photo) to win a fab hamper of sausages & bacon and a casserole dish as well as Tracklements ketchup and mustard.
The recipes will be added to their Facebook album and on Denhay’s website, get yours in now!

What's your favourite sausage recipe? What are your plans for bonfire night?

We received a complimentary spoiltpig Bonfire Night Banger Box for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.
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