Mama OWL Blog: June 2014

Club Penguin - a safe virtual world

Monday, 30 June 2014

review post.

Online gaming can feel like a bit of a minefield where our kids are concerned. They want to be playing the latest games with their friends, but at the same time us parents are left with worries about their safety. After all, in a virtual world, all is often not what it seems, and we want to keep our children safe from harm without limiting their fun.

Disney offered us a month's trial of the snow-covered virtual playground world of Club Penguin. Club Penguin is "the #1 children's online world globally, where children meet to play games, have fun and interact in the guise of penguins. Since its beginnings in 2005, over 220 million penguin avatars have been created in 190 countries and children log in from around the world to play in six different languages.

Club Penguin is known around the globe for its unwavering commitment to providing a safe online experience that doesn't compromise creativity or fun. This month (June 19-July 1) Club Penguin is throwing a 2 week in-world football themed party in celebration of the World Cup."



H loves Club Penguin, and has played it on and off over the past couple of years. I have been happy for him to join this site having checked out the parental controls, and I really appreciate Disney's dedication to online safety. There are live moderators available around the clock, as well as filtered chat and 'ultra safe' chat. Club Penguin has a comprehensive list of safety tips for parents and kids available to read and download on their site, as well as advice for monitoring your children's internet use. Safety features are there to protect our children, but should not be used in place of our own supervision.

H enjoys playing Club Penguin, he made and named his own penguin (the names have to be approved by moderators), and with his character he explores the various different servers within the game. There are mini games to play, and lots of things that you can buy with virtual coins - that you earn by completing missions & games - such as clothing, pets (known as puffles), and even furniture for your penguin's igloo, and if you subscribe to the Club Penguin magazine you can complete challenges which reward you with codes to redeem within the game to earn even more coins to spend! I asked H what his favourite thing is about Club Penguin, and he said "because I can play it with my friends from school".


Club Penguin magazine subscriptions cost just £17.50 for six months. The magazine includes lots of fun cartoons, games, & free items, as well as opportunities to share screenshots of your penguin and gameplay which could win you coins. You can even send in your own letters, jokes, & photos.


Club Penguin's Online Safety Tips for Parents:

Just like in the real world, your child's online experiences are better when you're aware, curious, and engaged.
  • Install filters to protect your child from inappropriate websites.
  • Keep tabs on your child’s internet use. Make sure you know what sites your child visits, how much time he or she spends on them, and whom your child is communicating with.
  • Set limits for screen time to have a balance with real world connections.
  • Put the family computer in a public place in your home, such as a kitchen or family room, to encourage an open dialogue and discourage unwanted online behavior.
  • Consider not allowing your child to have any connected devices, such as a smartphone, laptop computer, or tablet, in private areas of your home, like a bedroom or bathroom.
  • Keep the conversation going. Start talking with your child at an early age about online use and continue the dialogue as your child gets older.
  • Know any passwords that your child uses, and explain that they shouldn’t be shared with friends.


We received a complimentary one month Club Penguin subscription for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 300614

Monday, 30 June 2014

Mon 30th June - Brinner

Tues 1st July - Curry

Weds 2nd July - Macaroni cheese (per A's request)

Thurs 3rd July - Goats cheese & pesto pastry slice, with peppers & tomato, and a salad

Fri 4th July - We're out for the end of season Football presentation for the Mister & J this evening

Sat 5th July - Pizza Express (from Tesco... Busy weekend, I don't fancy cooking)

Sun 6th July - We're off out for the day today so *whatever*

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

Oilatum® Daily Junior Lotion

Sunday, 29 June 2014

For whatever reason, both of my girls have been plagued with eczema-prone skin. As a baby, I remember poor A suffering from a horrible flare up on her face one Christmas, and E has several patches of it in various places - her lower back, the inner elbow area, and across her shoulders in particular.

A now has a Saturday job in a hair salon, and has found that since she started working there back in March, with the handling of chemicals and frequent hand washing, the eczema that hasn't bothered her since toddlerhood has flared up again. Likewise, with E being a regular swimmer, I find that she needs her skin to be moisturised daily, especially after a swim, to prevent her skin drying out and getting a case of the 'itchy scratchies', as we call it.

I found that E can become quite uncomfortable in the evening and especially after a bath if her skin isn't moisturised afterwards, which leads to a broken night's sleep for her and it makes for a very unhappy little girl.

To see if they could help, Oilatum sent us a bottle of their new Oilatum® Daily Junior Lotion which is specially formulated and clinically proven to moisturise & reduce the occurrence of dry skin. It contains a nourishing blend of ingredients like shea butter, and mineral oils which rehydrate and soothe the skin. The dermatologist tested formula is pH balanced and colour-free, and gentle enough to be used every day.


We've been using it after E's baths & swimming lessons, & it's now kept in her swimming bag so I can apply it afterwards. The difference is noticeable, with the instances of her skin feeling dry or uncomfortable greatly reduced. The patch on her lower back also isn't looking as 'angry' as it was.

A has been applying it to her hands after she gets in from work on a Saturday, and she agrees that her skin feels much better and believes it has reduced the discomfort she was experiencing due to the dryness. While we also have and use prescribed creams for the girls' eczema, Oilatum is convenient to keep to hand to help protect their skin against flare ups, the 200ml bottle is an ideal size to pop in a school or swimming bag.

For more information and to find out where to purchase Oilatum products, visit their website at www.oilatum.co.uk.

We received a complimentary sample of Oilatum Daily Junior Lotion for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Sports Day

Friday, 27 June 2014

This year marked L's last primary school sports day, and as he is year six it meant that he and his fellow classmates were in charge of running the various game stations and helping the teachers manage all of the events.

I kept E off of preschool and took her along with me to watch H take part (& of course to see L) as she will be there herself this time next year. She really enjoyed watching all of the games & see how everything worked, although mostly I think she just enjoyed playing on the playground equipment...


Don't be fooled by the above photo, these two promptly fell to the ground and started wrestling as soon as I took this shot! Brotherly love... Anyway, L's race day has been postponed due to the rain, but I'm looking forward to watching him take part next week when the weather looks as though it should brighten up again.

H's green team did wonderfully in all of their events and came 3rd at the end of the day. It was lovely to hear them all cheering each other on and helping each other if someone got stuck, and the year six children did a cracking job of keeping everything running smoothly. It was a real team effort & it was great to see everyone getting involved - including the parents!







Complete Family Nutrition from DK Books

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

review post.

"Food nourishes your life, not just your body" - Jane Clarke

With our ever increasing awareness around the link between well-being and our eating habits, Jane Clarke's Complete Family Nutrition from DK Books is full of expert advice, and is not only a great visual guide to healthy eating, but tells us how to harness the power of food to rectify specific health issues, such as skin & hair troubles, digestion, and how to boost energy.

The book is packed full of detail about what our bodies need, and explains everything in straightforward terms from proteins, to fibre, to fats, and vitamins. Complete Family Nutrition even includes 50 delicious, easy recipes with a healthy twist to provide inspiration and advice for busy parents who are keen to put tasty and nutritious meals on the table.


We tried out the mouth-watering Summer Berry Layered Compôte recipe for our dessert, and it was very well received by the Mister & kids. Better still, it's made up of ingredients that I always have in the fridge & cupboards, so I can whip up a tempting pudding for the kids as a treat, no problem.


This book covers all ages and stages, from infancy to puberty and pregnancy, as well as tots, teens and even old age - it really is a must-have for your kitchen library. I'm a huge fan of DK Books (especially my Family Kitchen Cookbook) and regularly refer to them for appealing, healthy recipes to give to my family.

For more information on Complete Family Nutrition, and to order your copy, visit dk.co.uk.

We received a complimentary copy of Complete Family Nutrition for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

The Prom Diaries - Class of 2014

Monday, 23 June 2014


The "big day" has been and gone - A's Class of 2014 Year 11 Prom is over.

On Thursday 19th June, the students of A's school were all busy making their final preparations, and getting ready to celebrate the end of their secondary school studies (for those not staying on) with their classmates.
That morning, A headed into town to pick up the last remaining items she needed - some false eyelashes, and a clutch to tote around her money, prom ticket, and phone. She also got herself a face mask to get her skin ready for the make up it would be subjected to that evening!

At 3:30pm we headed to The Body Beautiful where A was booked in for the Prom Package, which included nails, make up, & hair styling for just £60.

We had already been in the previous evening for A to have her nails done, she chose a beautiful teal blue with sparkles to complement her dress.
The young lady did a wonderful job, and managed A's umm-ing & ahh-ing and indecision very well, before A finally settled on what she wanted.

The day of the prom, we arrived with A's bag of tricks in hand ready for them to do their thing. A prepped her face by applying moisturiser, as well as washing and straightening her hair ready for styling - also not forgetting to wear a top that she could remove without pulling it over her head!

The same young lady that had done A's nails also applied A's prom make up. A showed her some pictures of styles that she liked and had saved on Pinterest, and she got to work. It took a while for A to get used to the false eyelashes, but the result was absolutely stunning - she did a really good job and A was delighted with it.

After the makeover it was time for hair styling, so we headed downstairs to the salon and the hairdresser worked her magic to recreate a style that A had shown her. A half-up-do with plaits and loose curls, and finally, embellished with my gorgeous Estiva Swarovski barrette from Stone Bridge Hair.

We left the salon just after 5pm which didn't give us much time to get to my in-laws house so she could change into her dress, before she had to meet her friends. We hopped into a taxi and got there in just a few minutes, dashing upstairs to get her changed.

I helped her into her absolutely stunning Alyce Paris Prom dress, which we bought online from NewYorkDress.com. The dress is beautiful, it really is a WOW dress with its sheer light blue overlay and jewel encrusted sweetheart neckline. We ordered it on a Saturday afternoon and it arrived less than a week later which I thought was fantastic. We had to pay a little extra to get it through customs, but that didn't delay it at all and the international shipping had been free.

New York Dress displayed outstanding customer service and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again or to recommend them to others. The Alyce Black Label dresses are exquisite, A had fallen in love with this dress and so this was the dress that she earned herself with all of her hard work, studying, and revision. We employed the services of talented local seamstress Alexandra to alter the dress to fit A perfectly, and she did a wonderful job - after seeing A only twice, the dress fit like a glove and looked amazing.

A looked and felt like a princess. And here she is.


She looked absolutely breathtaking, her father and I could not have been more proud. Her Grandfather D was there to wave her off when I took her to meet her friends, and was very emotional & proud when he saw his eldest granddaughter all dressed up. Her Grandmother J was unfortunately unable to be there as she was at work but she had earlier offered to lend A her pearl necklace to wear, and it looked perfect with her dress, she was delighted when I showed her the pictures afterwards.

We had very carefully chosen all of A's accessories to match her dress. Her beautiful earrings were bought from a company I found on Twitter called Treasured Treats, they looked like they had been made to match the dress and arrived very quickly after ordering. Her beige/pink pearl necklace was borrowed from her Grandmother as I said, and the Swarovski barrette was given to her by me.

We bought her pearl & crystal bracelet for just £3 from Primark and originally it was going to be used for her corsage that we would have ordered from The Floral Designer, but unfortunately we ran out of time. Her shoes were £10, also from Primark, and complemented her dress really well, and A then bought herself a white lace clutch from New Look to finish it all off.


It really was a night to remember, with a slideshow presentation of photographs of all of the students from year 7 through to year 11. There was a very tongue-in-cheek awards ceremony by the teachers which was all in good fun, and then the kids kicked off their shoes and danced all evening. There were lots of inventive ways of arriving at the Prom including a truck, and fire engines, and the usual array of various sports cars, but A and her group of friends arrived in style in a cool vintage bus, arranged by the mums of A's friends, S & L.



Before I knew it, A was home and exhausted with sore and blistered feet, but full of memories of a wonderful night and carrying her official school leavers hoodie under her arm. Standing on the road waving her off on the bus I realised that one day, in the not too distant future, we will be waving her off on adventures far beyond the golf and country club just outside town. She will be jetting off to find her way in the world, and while we will be sad to see her go and will miss her terribly - we will be so, so proud.

Meal Plan Monday 230614

Monday, 23 June 2014

Mon 23rd June - Whole butter basted roast chicken with chips and salad

Tues 24th June - Macaroni cheese with broccoli

Weds 25th June - Chicken tikka skewers with rice

Thurs 26th June - Toad in the hole with mash

Fri 27th June - Slow cooker lasagne

Sat 28th June - Pizza for the kids as the Mister & I are out at a friend's house

Sun 29th June - Roast garlic & herb chicken

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

Summer Dining - Ploughman's & Quiche Lorraine

Sunday, 22 June 2014

review post.

When the sun is shining & the temperature is on the rise, the last thing most of us want to be eating (or indeed making) is a heavy evening meal. Those comforting winter warmers aren't on the menu and finding inspiration for light, summertime meals beyond a salad or barbecue can be difficult.

One of our al fresco Summer family favourites is a traditional Ploughman's because you can make whatever you like to go with it and set it out like a buffet, so everyone is happy!

PLOUGHMAN'S

• Mashed potato
• Pickle or relish
• Cold cuts of meat (such as leftovers from a roast)
• Salad cream
• Pickled onions
• Boiled eggs
• Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, grated carrot, onion)
• Crisps or kettle chips
• Bread rolls (our favourites are cheesy baps)
• Chunks of cheese (mature cheddar is ideal)
• Quiche

spoiltpig sent us some of their smoked streaky bacon and high welfare Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs along with ingredients to make our own Quiche Lorraine, which we enjoyed with our Ploughman's dinner.


spoiltpig bacon is made using outdoor reared pork approved by Freedom Food, the only UK farm assurance scheme that focuses entirely on improving the welfare of farm animals reared for food, so you can be sure that your food comes from animals reared in the UK that have lived happy, healthy lives.


QUICHE LORRAINE

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6

For the Pastry (or you can use ready made):

175g plain flour
100g very cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk
Iced water

For the Filling:

184g pack spoiltpig smoked dry cured streaky bacon, chopped
1 tbsp oil
320ml double cream
4 Burford Brown whole eggs & 2 egg yolks
Black pepper

For the Pastry

• If you're making your pastry, put the flour, butter, egg yolk and 4 tsp cold water into a food processor and using the pulse button, process until the mixture just binds.
Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, and collect into a smooth ball.
• Roll the pastry out as thinly as you can and use to line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottomed, fluted flan tin (or a spring form tin will work just as well if you don't have a flan tin). Ease the pastry into the base and use a ball of pastry to press the pastry into the grooves of the tin.
• Trim the pastry edges so it sits slightly above the tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for at least 10 minutes.
• When ready to cook, put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200c / fan 180c / GM 6.
• Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, and bake on the hot sheet for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 4-5 minutes more until the pastry is pale golden.

For the Filling:

• Heat the oil in a frying pan & cook the spoiltpig bacon for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through but not crisp. Drain & spread over your hot pastry base.
• Add the cream, Burford Brown eggs and yolks into a large bowl with a generous pinch of black pepper, and beat together slowly until combined then give it a fast whisk for 30 seconds until frothy.
• Pour the mixture over the bacon, then sprinkle the remaining bacon on top.
• Bake for 20 minutes, you can see if the quiche is ready by checking that it has puffed up, but still has a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool a little before serving.


spoiltpig bacon is brought to you by Denhay Farms Ltd, and available to purchase from Tesco, Morrisons, and Ocado.com.
Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs are available at Waitrose, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, The Co-operative, and London outlets including Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, Harrods, and Whole Foods.
You can follow Denhay Farms on Facebook and Twitter for the latest product news and updates.


We received complimentary spoiltpig bacon and listed ingredients for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Making an Eton Mess of GCSEs #Recipe

Tuesday, 17 June 2014



What better way to celebrate the end of GCSEs than by making an Eton Mess of them! It is A's favourite dessert, and so when Tate & Lyle sent us a pack of their caster sugar to try our hand at making some meringue letters to celebrate the launch of Bake Your Dreams Come True, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for A to smash her GCSEs!

Making Eton Mess is so easy, and it tastes soooo good. We whipped up a batch of meringue using my favourite easy meringue recipe, and piped the letters GCSE on to a tray & baked them, before A gave them a good mash ready to go in our dessert.


ETON MESS
INGREDIENTS

• Meringue as per recipe, we used Tate & Lyle Caster Sugar
• Squirty cream (or you can whip some double cream)
• Strawberries
• Double cream

 METHOD

• Mash up your meringue in a bowl until you are left with chunks of varying sizes.
• Cut up your strawberries into halves or quarters depending on their size, and your own preference.
• If you're whipping your double cream, do this and set it to one side.
• Start layering the ingredients in your sundae glasses (or bowls), starting with meringue pieces, then strawberries, before pouring over some double cream.
• Add more meringue and strawberries, before topping off with squirty cream or your whipped double cream, and decorating the top with some sliced strawberries and dusting with some crumbled meringue.


 

Tate & Lyle Sugars have launched the Bake Your Dreams Come True campaign to inspire budding bakers to follow their dreams, which comes after research that reveals 40% of Brits dream of ditching their day job and starting their own business, with 20% dreaming of opening their own baking business.

There are £1million worth of prizes and rewards to be won, including a £5,000 cash reward for up to five baking entrepreneurs to provide financial support to kick start their baking business. Aspiring bakers can apply for prizes by picking up a participating pack of Tate & Lyle Baking Sugar or Lyle’s Golden Syrup Baking bottles, and submitting their pack code & baking dream at www.tasteandsmile.com/bakingdreams.


We received a complimentary bag of Tate & Lyle Sugar for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Ghanaian Chin Chin #Recipe #BigMatchPlanner

Monday, 16 June 2014


I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.


Tonight is Ghana's first Big Match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the Group G team will be taking on the USA at 11pm and in honour of this, my brother-in-law has shared with me his family recipe for Ghanaian Chin Chin, also known as Ochomo, or Croquettes in French-speaking countries.

I headed to my local Tesco Extra supermarket in Trowbridge to pick up the ingredients and other refreshments to enjoy during the matches, including a promotional 4 pack of 1.25L Diet Coke for £4 - bargain! Tesco have an entire aisle dedicated to the World Cup, decorated with England bunting and with lots of special offers including some great Coca-Cola multipack promotions, it's hard to not get into the spirit of the tournament!

Football fever is alive and well in my house right now, and yesterday we made the most of the recent good weather and enjoyed a World Cup themed barbecue for Father's Day after England's Big Match the night before - the kids got stuck in to their burgers and sausages, and had a kickabout in the garden with their Dad, cousins, and Uncle, it was lots of fun!
Chin Chin is so easy to make with only a few ingredients & just a handful of simple steps, and is an ideal snack for sharing. Beware, they're very moreish!

INGREDIENTS

• 1kg plain flour
• 150ml milk
• 2 tsp ground nutmeg
• 250g marg
• 275g granulated sugar
• Oil (for frying)

METHOD

• Add the milk & sugar to bowl and leave to absorb.
• In a separate bowl, combine the nutmeg and flour before rubbing in the margarine until it is mixed well.
• Add the milk & sugar mixture to the flour mixture and combine until you form a smooth dough.
• Knead the dough on a flat surface and cut out your desired shapes. For ours, as the dough was slightly wetter I used a teaspoon to drop small balls of the mixture into the oil for frying.
• Deep fry in hot oil, and stir continuously until the chin chin is golden brown, and then scoop them out and leave to cool on a flat surface.
Then all that's left for you to do is simply serve to your family, friends & guests along with an ice-cold glass of Coca-Cola, and enjoy as you cheer on Ghana during their Big Game tonight!

Why not check out the #CollectiveBias hashtag #BigMatchPlanner on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to find lots of inspiration for recipes, activities, party games, and everything you will need to help you get into the spirit of Brazil 2014!

Meal Plan Monday 160614

Monday, 16 June 2014

Mon 16th June - Chicken & chips

Tues 17th June - Sausage & mash

Weds 18th June - Baked potatoes & salad

Thurs 19th June - It's prom night! And a very busy afternoon & evening with clubs, so we're going to pick up a takeaway

Fri 20th June - Bacon-wrapped chicken, stuffed with goats cheese

Sat 21st June - Pasta bake

Sun 22nd June - Roast chicken

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

World Cup Fever with Bean Bag Bazaar

Sunday, 15 June 2014

review post.


The World Cup is here, and football fever has certainly hit my house hard. The Mister and J stayed up late to watch the first England match against Italy last night, and today we are celebrating Father's Day with a World Cup themed barbecue. The weather has been gorgeous all week and looks set to continue all of next week too so we'll be making the most of it out in the garden, and will enjoy getting in to the spirit of the tournament - win or lose! While A is at the prom on Thursday night we'll all be cheering England on against Uruguay and hoping they can pull off a win this time.

To help us celebrate in style, Bean Bag Bazaar sent us an England party pack (which now adorns our trampoline) along with a fantastic purple giant outdoor bazaar bean bag so we can relax in the garden in comfort. Or I will be able to when I get the kids off it... Their limited edition St George Cross Flag bazaar bean bag is just the thing for those pre & post match garden parties and barbecues, as the quality design means it is 100% waterproof (since you can never predict the British weather after all) and big enough to seat two adults comfortably. It can of course be used inside too, so for those late night matches you will have extra seating options for your guests, nobody likes sitting on the floor after all!

The bean bag arrived in two boxes such is the size of it (giant, as described!), and it was a two-person job to pour in the extra bag of 'beans' from the second box (one person holding the bazaar bag open, the other doing the pouring), it takes only a few minutes and afterwards you have a great big comfy seat to lounge on in the garden, I am quite sure that A will be making good use of it over the Summer now she has finished her GCSEs.


We'll be enjoying a traditional barbecue menu of beef burgers and sausages, along with some pork & pepper kebabs, chicken tikka fillets and sweet chilli beef skewers. There will also be salad - but how much of that will be eaten by anyone besides me remains to be seen..!
Bean Bag Bazaar have pinned & shared some brilliant World Cup party food & decorating ideas on their Pinterest board, including a great recipe for guacamole - ideal for dipping those tortillas in during the match!

Until June 27th you can share your best 'GOAL!' face with Bean Bag Bazaar for your chance to WIN an England Bazaar Bag Party Pack worth £99.99, all details can be found on the website - and for all the latest news and updates you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook. Good luck!


We received a Bazaar Bean Bag & England party pack from Bean Bag Bazaar for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Prom Face

Thursday, 12 June 2014

After years and years of hard work, months of revision, and hours spent sitting in exam halls - our eldest daughter, A, is now officially a "school leaver". Tomorrow will be her final exam.

She's been given her conditional Sixth Form place pending the results of her GCSEs, which we won't receive until August 21st, but I'm not in any doubt of her exam success such was her dedication to her studies and revision.
She drew up her own revision timetable, she attended extra early morning revision sessions before school as well as others during the school holidays, and she has tried her hardest. Whatever results lie in that envelope at the end of the Summer, her father & I know that she has done her best, and we will be proud of her. We already are proud of her.


Next week is the much anticipated year eleven prom. I'm aware there is some debate around it - that it's an "American thing" and that it's pointless and expensive and an excuse to show off, but I have to disagree.

It is what you make it. Plain and simple.

Between high street, even supermarket, offerings as well as eBay, there is absolutely no need for it to be an expensive affair. We have bought A's prom dress as a reward for her hard work. That is the dress she wanted, and she has put the work in and earned it, and so that is the dress she got. Her accessories and extras have been inexpensive as we have shopped around, & also chosen things she will get use out of for more than "just one night".

I have said, in jest, that it's expensive & I'll need to sell organs to fund it, but joking aside it has cost us very little, and has made our daughter very happy, and that is priceless. A and a group of her best friends will be travelling to the prom together on a vintage bus arranged by one of the girls' parents. None of them have "dates", it hasn't cost a fortune. In fact, the bus has been provided - gratis - by a family friend of the mum who has organised it.

I asked A exactly what going to the prom means to her. She said: "It's our last night to all be together, we can all get dressed up and have a laugh and just have fun before we all move on". Which is the essence of my point.

We have felt none of the media-hyped pressure to 'keep up with the Joneses'. We've done our own thing, as has everyone else, and the class of 2014 are looking forward to getting dolled up, letting their hair down and having a bloody good party. They have worked really hard, and they deserve a special night that they will all remember. Whether it's called a prom, or a ball, or a disco, it is the same thing. It's a celebration of the end of their school careers before they move on to the sixth form, college or an apprenticeship, and the next stage of their lives. Their very first step towards adulthood.

If that isn't worth celebrating, I don't know what is. Let them have their night, whatever they want to call it, however they choose to celebrate it - they've earned it.

Make Dad's Day with Dove Men+Care & Radox

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

review post.

The Mister is a busy man. He's self-employed and works his backside off to provide for us, and when he's not working he's busy co-managing & coaching J's U14s football team, and acting as assistant manager for the senior team at the same club now he has finally hung up his goalie gloves.

And when he's not doing all of that? He's a taxi driver, gardener, handyman, chef (on Sundays, anyway - he makes a mean roast), he's running the children around to various clubs and activities, or picking them up from the railway station at stupid o'clock at night after gigs (I'm looking at you, A...).

With everything that he does for all of us, I was pleased to be able to give him a pre-Father's Day treat, with Dove Men+Care Daily Care Duo, and black pepper & ginseng Radox Muscle Therapy bath soak.


The Dove Men+Care Daily Care Duo gift pack comprises the new 'Compressed' (meaning a carbon footprint reduction of up to 25 per cent per can) Clean Comfort Anti-Perspirant Deodorant with 48 hour odour protection and ¼ moisturiser, and Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash, with Dove's innovative MICROMOISTURE™ technology to help protect skin from dryness - perfect to go in his kit bag for a post-match shower, or just to enjoy when he gets home from a long day.

He's fond of his baths is the Mister, so he was keen to try out the Radox Muscle Therapy (RRP £2.31) and has now banned anyone else from using "his" bath soak. He really likes it, and thought it had a pleasant fragrance without being overpowering. Just the thing to soothe his aching muscles after a hard day's work or running around here, there & everywhere after the kids, and the perfect Father's Day present.


For Dads with more sensitive skin, Dove Men+Care also have a range of Sensitive+ products with a neutral fragrance, including a gentle moisturiser to soothe the skin, and specially formulated shower gel. Or if your Dad is always on the go, perhaps Radox For Men shower gel is the thing for him with its refreshing blend of fennel and sea minerals.

Dove Men+Care and Radox products are available nationwide at many major stockists including Boots and Amazon. For all of the latest product news and information, you can find both Dove Men+Care and Radox on Facebook.


We received complimentary products from Radox and Dove Men+Care for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 090614

Monday, 9 June 2014

Mon 9th June - Fajitas & nachos

Tues 10th June - Brinner

Weds 11th June - Spaghetti & meatballs

Thurs 12th June - Cottage pie

Fri 13th June - Out for a family party tonight so, whatever

Sat 14th June - Undecided what we're doing this evening so we'll be winging it...

Sun 15th June - Roast beef

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

We're going on a Scarecrow Hunt!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Last Saturday, H & I set off on a walkabout of a local village for their annual scarecrow hunt. E & L were both at birthday parties, A was at work and J had declined our invitation to come along, so the two of us bought our £2.50 trail map at the village shop and headed off on our search.


This year's theme was "nursery rhymes", as they were celebrating the village nursery school's 30th birthday. There are prizes drawn at the end of the week-long event, one for children and another for adults, and the money raised all goes to the village school & nursery. We bought some supplies from the shop to keep us going while we were on the trail, and set off with pencil & map in hand to see if we could find and guess them all.

The trail took us the scenic route around the village, through little walk ways and the school, across a field and past the nursery. Despite living nearby I think I have only ever visited this village a handful of times, I didn't realise quite how pretty it was, and how quiet! It was a really lovely stroll, and it was nice to spend some quality time with H.

 
 
 

We managed to nearly miss two of the scarecrows and had to retrace our steps to find them. Some of them were easy but a couple of others were more tricky and we had to sit and have a think about what the answer could be. I tried to encourage H to guess the answers rather than me just telling him all of them, and I gave him clues if he wasn't sure just from the scarecrow itself. Halfway through the trail is a little park which would have been ideal for a picnic had I realised - at least I'll know for next year! We stopped a few times for drinks and so H could eat some of the snacks I bought at the shop, rest stops are of course very important!


One of them raised a giggle from H, at first I didn't realised what he was laughing at until it dawned on me that he is 8 years old and "d i c k i e  birds" is obviously hilarious. I've included pictures of almost all of the scarecrows, can you have a guess at what any or all of them are?

 
 
 

The trail took us about an hour and a half to get all the way around, and next year as I said we'll definitely take a picnic if we are lucky enough to have fine weather again and make it last a little bit longer. And next year I definitely won't be wearing my flip flops, navigating the muddier field areas was an experience I'd rather not repeat!

 
 

We had really good fun & H really enjoyed it, there were several scarecrow trails in the local area in recent weeks and hopefully we'll be able to get to a couple more of them next year. For only £2.50 & the price of some snacks & drinks, the two of us had a lovely afternoon wandering around a beautiful village, and helped raise some money for a local school at the same time.

We enjoyed it so much that we went again the very next day, but this time with E and the Mister, too. You can read all about it here at the fantastic MuddyPuddles.com, as it is my very first guest post for them in my new role as a Muddy Mum! If you're thinking of getting out and about, then Muddy Puddles "equips children with everything they need for everyday outdoor adventures all year round", such as their fab waterproof PuddlePac jacket, so be sure to check out their fantastic range before you go on your own adventures in nature.
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