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Friday, 17 October 2014

How to prepare children for when the clocks go back

The nights are getting longer and at 2am on October 26th the clocks will be going back, This extra hour can often affect the delicate sleeping patterns of pre-school children and for many parents this will mean that rather than enjoying an extra hour in bed, they will be woken up by children getting up even earlier than normal. I still remember 4 am wake ups after the clocks going back with my eldest son!

Putting children to bed can be hard enough without the complication of having the clocks change twice a year. Children often don’t understand why it gets light earlier in the morning and why they have to go to bed at a different time.  It can all become very confusing!

This video discusses bedtime routine research findings, conducted on behalf of In the Night Garden. Sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, Mandy Gurney talks about the importance of wind down time and bedtime routines and the simple changes you can implement in the run up to the clocks changing so your children can be prepared. 


           


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Food Review - Healthy Treats from 9bar

9bar

When you need an energy boost, a 9bar really does the trick.  The wholefood bars are packed full of good stuff, like nuts, seeds and dried fruits, to deliver a great tasting and nutritious snack. I received a delicious hamper containing some of their Breakfast Bars as well as some handy things to help me out on a busy morning!

hamper, breakfast bars


Among the goodies were some Cashew and Cocoa, Almond and Raspberry, Peanut and Raisin and Apricot and Srawberry breakfast bars, as well as a Fruity mixed seed bar and a Pumpkin bar to try out.

healthy bars


The bars are really nutritionally dense, containing vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and have absolutely no nasties in them.  They are approved by the Vegetarian Society and the Coeliac Society.  Their complex carbohydrates make 9bars an excellent source of energy to get you through the day, which is so much much healthier for you than grabbing a sweet snack that is high is bad fat and refined sugars.

vegetarian


I thought the bars were all delicious.  I love seeds so to have pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, poppy and sesame seeds all packed into one bar was a real treat.  Hemp seeds are a real superfood, containing all the essential amino acids, including the nine that are the building blocks for good health (giving 9bar its name!)  The bars are naturally sweetened with cane sugar and honey, and are packed with fibre and complex carbohydrates from their all natural ingredients.

The Almond and Raspberry Breakfast Bar reminded me of Bakewell Tart giving me a cakey fix in a healthy format!  The Cashew and Cocoa has crunchy nuts and choc chips, for a choccy fix.  The fruity Apricot and Strawberry is packed full of fruit pieces and the Peanut and Raisin has a lovely nutty crunch. The Fruity bar had a carob topping which was quite indulgent and  I loved the simplicity of the Pumpkin bar with its seedy, flapjack-like texture.

9bars are really filling and if used as part of a balanced diet provide a great energy boosting treat, with lots of nutritional benefits.  They are chewy and very satisfying to chomp on.  If you are in a rush in the mornings, 9bar is a great way to grab a nutritious, energy-boosting snack on the go.

You can find them in Holland and Barrett, independent health food shops and in the Free From or Wholefood sections in major supermarkets.  You can also buy them online at the 9bar Shop.

If you want tips, news and even the chance of free samples, you can sign up for the fun 9bar newsletter at www.9bar.com/subscribe




Anti-Aging Skincare - Edition Edelweiss by SIIN

When I hear the word 'Edelweiss' my mind conjures up images of delicate white flowers, snow capped mountains and singing nuns!  Nowadays, hearing that word also brings the beautiful Austrian Edition Edelweiss skincare range from siin to mind. The innovative anti-aging products harness the powerful antibacterial,antiseptic and antioxidant effects of the Edelweiss plant, to create a luxurious, full facial experience.

I received a beautiful limited edition gift box containing a 30ml Milky Cleansing gel and a 30ml 24 hr Essence Cream so I could try it for myself.

I am not usually a slave to a beauty regime.  I generally use a natural, vegetable soap on my face and splash with cold water.  At 45, I probably should be thinking more about moisturising, but hate the feeling of greasy, congested skin.  I'm also quite sensitive and experience tightness when using some products.  So I was actually quite excited to try such a luxury, grown-up product!  Now the cold weather is upon us, I have noticed my skin feeling quite dry, so it was the perfect time to test out the Edition Edelweiss products.

SIIN Edition Edelweiss


The Edelweiss Milky Cleansing gives deep pore cleansing and nutrient rich regeneration to the face and neck.  The active ingredients relaxes stressed skin, making it feel revitalised, hydrated and cleansed.  It contains Edelweiss extract, rose oil, Goji berry with vitamins C, A and B and Ginseng root extract.  The gel turns creamy and milky when a little water is added and feels really luxurious when massaged into the skin.  It has a lovely, natural scent and is a pleasure to use.  It is great for removing make-up and leaves skin glowing.

The 24 hr Essence Cream is an intensive day and night cream that moisturises, neutralises free radicals and protects the skin.  It contains Edelweiss extract, Aloe Vera, Olive Leaf extract, wheatgerm extract and Jojoba oil.  The rich cream is easily absorbed with no greasiness, leaving skin silky and smooth to the touch. 

Benefits include:

Extensive and long-lasting hydration
Neutralises damaging free radicals
Enhances collagen production
Reduction of wrinkles
Aromatherapy stimulates the skin and indulges the senses

SIIN Edition Edelweiss


These products really do feel lovely to use, the quality shines through.  The 24 hr Essence Cream is a great base for make-up and my complexion looked brighter (certainly not as dull as usual!) after using both products.  My skin did not feel at all tight and I definitely felt more radiant.  I really liked the fact that the day and night cream felt so light on the skin, but was so hydrating and enriching.  They are very gentle on the skin and the scent really is lovely.  I feel thoroughly pampered when using them.

siin is a premium brand.  The products are paraben and paraffin free and not tested on animals.  The natural plant extracts have many properties that can help slow down the visible effects of aging on the skin.  They carry a money back guarantee as the company is so confident in the quality of their products.  

Because of the quality, the products do carry a higher price tag than many beauty products found on the high street.  The set I received retails at £52.90.  If you want to treat yourself to some top quality beauty products, or if you want to pop it on your Christmas list this year, you can find the Essence Edelweiss products at www.siinlife.co.uk.

SIIN Edition Edelweiss

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Watch Sky Movies and Sky Sports for less with TalkTalk

From this October, TalkTalk TV homes can watch Sky Sports and Sky Movies for better than half price* at just £20 a month, for three months.  This will give families access to exciting blockbuster films and more of the Barclays Premier League matches that matter, right through the festive season. This should keep the whole family happy and entertained, whether they are sports fans or film buffs.

Thi pecial offer gives homes access to Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4, F1 and Sky Sports 5, home of European football. This brings live coverage of the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League Football, Formula One and Rugby Union into your home. Customers can also enjoy 11 Sky Movies Channels, including Sky Disney and Sky Superheroes a well as having access to hundreds of blockbuster movies on demand.  Perfect for a family film night or a cosy romantic movie for two.

George Fairbairn


TalkTalk's better than half price Boost allows cash conscious customers the chance to try these premium channels for three whole months at a bargain price,  After that, customers can dip in and out of the channels they love from month to month without any ongoing commitment. It's TV you will be glued to and not stuck with!

This offer builds on the recent deal between Sky and TalkTalk bringing the best of Sky entertainment to TalkTalk’s TV customers. Earlier this year, TalkTalk added seven Sky channels, including Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Sports News HQ and 100s of hours of on demand Sky entertainment content, to its Plus TV package.  In addition to the Sky packages, TalkTalk homes can add Boosts for hit US and UK entertainment and favourite kids channels and on demand content to their package at the touch of a button.  You can create your perfect package from one month to the next.

TalkTalk’s Essentials TV is half price for six months at £4.25, then £8.50, plus line rental. And Plus TV is just £9.25 a month for six months, then £18.50 a month, plus line rental. TalkTalk’s Plus TV package includes seven great Sky entertainment channels and a free YouView box, usually £299.

*TalkTalk has combined Sky Movies and Sky Sports Boosts saving homes up to £25 a month. Usually TalkTalk homes can access Sky Sports Boost for £30 a month and its Sky Movie Boost for £15 a month, on a month by month basis with no ongoing commitment. 




Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Celebrate National Chocolate Week with Guylian

This week is National Chocolate Week, a celebration of all things chocolatey, culminating in The Chocolate Show at London's Olympia.  

To celebrate, Guylian sent me some delicious Belgian chocolates to enjoy.  The iconic shaped seahorses and shells have a marbled chocolate coating encasing a rich hazelnut praline. 

National Chocolate Week


Guylian Seahorses are my daughter Kizzy's favourite boxed chocolate so she was delighted to be my chief chocolate tester.  She loves the shapes, she loves the mix of two types of chocolate and she loves the smooth, nutty centre. She can do some serious damage to a box of Guylian.  I did intend to use the chocolates in a recipe, maybe a Guylian Brownie. But Kizzy had other ideas and approached the chocolates as a purist, wanting to eat them just as they are.

chocolate, national chocolate week


Each Guylian chocolate is beautifully crafted and looks quite exquisite. They taste lovely with the signature roasted hazelnut praline filling and the creamy marbled Belgian chocolate coating.  The milk and white and dark and white chocolate marbling looks really effective.  Guylian have introduced caramel, crunchy biscuit, vanilla and milk truffle flavours, giving more choice to the range.

guylian seahorse, chocolate


The Guylian Seahorses come in 2, 4, 16 and 32 piece boxes.  They are perfect for gifting, or for treating yourself!  So why not enjoy some delicious Guylian chocolates this week...after all it is National Chocolate Week!




Family film night and why mums need more than one pair of hands!

Family film night is always a lot of fun here Inside the Wendy House.  We snuggle up on the sofa, grab some popcorn and immerse ourselves in 55" of TV pleasure.  This Extraordinary Portrait by George Fairbairn is a fun representation of our film nights, which is very much a part of what defines us as a family. In this image we are pretending to watch a horror film (although obviously 5 year old Freddy does NOT watch horror films in real life) and we are reacting in typical fashion from Ian's abject fear to  Ella's super brave smirk.  It was lots of fun and we got to totally overact, reliving the moment when we watched The Conjuring for the first time!  I told Fred to pretend he was watching Scooby Doo, for an age appropriate scare.

extraordinary portraits by George Fairbairn
Family Film Night - Extraordinary Portraits by George Fairbairn

This next image depicts me at the centre of the family, interacting with Ian and the three youngest kids while blogging all about it on my trusty laptop!  Each family member's personality is allowed to shine through.  Ian is the ever attentive family man looking after my red wine needs!  Ella is entertaining us with her singing and guitar playing.  Freddy is enjoying a sword fight with me, harnessing his inner ninja.  Kizzy is being her usual fashionista self, doing my nails!  (Incidentally, Kizzy also did my hair and make-up for the shoot.)  I love how the spirit of who we are as a family has been captured in such a cool, unique and funky way, portraying the many hats a mum has to wear within the family dynamic.

Six Arms - Extraordinary Portraits by George Fairbairn
Six Arms - Extraordinary Portraits by George Fairbairn

These pictures are amazing.  I intend to have canvases made to hang on our living room wall.  They will make some great pieces of artwork that we will treasure forever!

Here you can read all about our bespoke family photography experience with George Fairbairn.

And you can find out more about George and his Extraordinary Potrraits at: www.portraitsbygeorge.co.uk/extraordinary-portrait-photographer

A Seasonal Spread with Brioche Pasquier

Brioche Pasquier and Tots 100 have laid down a seasonal challenge to bloggers to create an autumnal family feast with a French flair using some lovely Brioche Pasquier goodies. I love their range of delicious French bakery products, as they bring back memories of wonderful family holidays spent in France where we have enjoyed breakfasting on croissants, brioche and pain au lait.  The products are authentic and made to traditional recipes.  

Brioche Pasquier also have a lovely kid friendly brioche, called Pitch, which comes in individually wrapped portions, and are filled with delicious fillings or studded with choc chips.  They are great for eating on the go, as a snack or for popping into lunch boxes.

Pitch, brioche


With a brioche loaf and some Milk Chocolate Pitch, the kids and I set about preparing  a family feast of seasonal ingredients that we could enjoy together.  The Pitch, as well as being a great snacking product, also makes a great base for a Chocolate Brioche Pudding.  We sliced the brioche and arranged them in a pyrex dish before pouring over a chocolate custard made with eggs, sugar, single cream, milk and cocoa.  We sprinkled dark chocolate chips over the top and it was then baked in the oven at GM 4 until set.

brioche pudding


Our main course consisted of some wonderfully French baked Camembert cheeses to make an indulgent cheesy fondue.  You simply remove the plastic wrapper and put the cheese back into its wooden base and bake for about 20 minutes at GM5.  One of the cheeses had garlic cloves pushed into the skin to add a bit of a kick of flavour. 

camembert, brioche


Baked Camembert is one of the children's favourite meals.  It is a really fun experience, using wooden skewers to pick up the bite size chunks of food and dip them in the molten cheese.

To dip in the gooey cheese we served boiled baby potatoes, Quorn sausage pieces, veggie meatballs, carrot sticks, French stick and oven toasted squares of Brioche.

Autumn, family feast, French


It's a very interactive and sociable way to enjoy a seasonal feast.  It's a great way to get Freddy, who can be quite fussy, eating as he cannot resist the lure of the cheese or the fun of stabbing his food.  He loves it!

French, brioche, feast


Having Mason jars of apple juice, really added to the seasonal feel of our very French autumnal family feast.  Ian and I may have uncorked a nice bottle of French red wine to go with our meal to add to our theme!

This meal would work brilliantly well as an al fresco dining experience if you get some nice autumn afternoons, but right now with this cold, wet and windy weather, we chose to dine indoors in the warm!

juice, mason jar


The oven toasted Brioche squares were a great accompaniment to the Camembert. Being cut them toasted, they held their shape and structure enough to make perfect dippers. The slightly sweet taste of the bread was delicious when eaten with the creamy cheese.  

baked camembert, fondue


The warm Chocolate Brioche Pudding ended the meal.  Kizzy was not a fan as the wobbly consistency put her straight off.  So she had an intact Milk Chocolate Pitch instead!  However, Ian and I enjoyed some served with vanilla ice cream.  It was a very chocolatey, comforting and warming dessert.

bread and butter pudding


All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our Seasonal feast with a French flavour. It is a lovely way of eating together as it is so much fun and so hands on.  The Pasquier Brioche products were the inspiration behind the menu and they really are great kitchen staples for snacking or for using as a part of a meal.

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