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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers - our review

If you are looking for a fantastic day out for all the family, Alton Towers is definitely worth considering.  Ever since the opening of CBeebies Land, which caters to pre-schoolers, Alton Towers has become the best venue for keeping everyone in our family happy.  So now while the older kids head off to the rollercoasters, there is a whole day's worth of fun in CBeebies Land for Freddy to enjoy.

From the colourful entrance to the themed rides and attractions to the amazing Big Fun Showtime area, the attention to detail is fantastic!  With character meet and greets, live shows, playground equipment, an assortment of kid friendly rides and hands-on interactive exhibits, Alton Towers have got it so right!

As Merlin annual pass holders, we go a few times a year to our favourite theme park, which is an hour's drive from home.  Having the annual pass means we can beat the queues and get into the park an hour early with access to CBeebies Land before everyone else arrives.  This was great because we were able to experience the In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, the Numtums Number Go Round, Charlie and Lola's Moonsquirters and Greendrops, Mr Bloom's Allotments and Justin's Pie-o-matic Factory while they weren't at all busy.  We then enjoyed a nice time at the Tree Fu Tom Training Camp and Nina's Science Lab before relaxing on the sun chairs to watch the Zingzilla's show and play in the Mike the Knight knights in training camp at the Big Fun Showtime area.  Freddy met Tree Fu Tom and Iggle Piggle, which was quite exciting!!

We loved a gentle wander in Mr Tumble's Sensory Garden and Freddy loved putting his hands into the imprints in the CBeebies stars walk of fame.  Everything is brilliantly branded and themed for maximum child appeal with instantly recognisable imagery and music.  We queued for one ride, which was the Get Set Go Tree Top Adventure, which was a twenty five minute wait, but there are things to see and do in the queue keeping kids entertained.  At peak time, the queues for some of the rides exceeded an hour.  I wouldn't fancy waiting that long with little ones, which is why I was glad to do them all early.

Cbeebies, theme park


As regulars of Alton Towers we recognised all the rides as being revamped versions of the old rides they had there when it was Old MacDonald's Farm.  It is a stroke of genius transforming an old tired, underused area of the park into something so popular.  For example they have converted the old tractor ride into Postman Pat's Parcel Post and the Eye Spy Riverboat Ride is now home to Upsy Daisy, Iggle Piggle et al!  A lick of paint, a spruce up and the introduction of some CBeebies characters has really given this area an incredible face lift.  Hot on the heels of Peppa Pig World and Thomas Land, CBeebies Land is bang on trend when it comes to keeping little ones happy at theme parks.

I loved how there are now lots of hands on exhibits like Nina's Science lab where kids can explore their senses and the Charlie and Lola fun house, which is just stunning and immerses kids in the vision of Lauren Child.  New facilities and some amazing design features have lifted the area, making it quite literally magical. The live shows and the interactive Mr Bloom attraction make kids feel a part of their favourite CBeebies programmes. It's like stepping into the TV!

I loved our day at Alton Towers.  As well as CBeebies Land, Freddy enjoyed the carousel, the indoor soft play area, the River Rapids and the driving school, which are other kid friendly attractions that he enjoys. Add to that the beautiful landscaped gardens and the SeaLife Centre, and he enjoyed a full and varied day out.

Freddy's verdict - "Awesome!!"




Quorn & Vegetable Satay Recipe - served with Veetee Egg Fried Rice

Veetee sent me some of their microwaveable steamed rice in a hamper and challenged me to come up with a recipe.  I made a vegetarian Quorn and Vegetable Satay, which is the perfect partner to the Veetee Egg Fried Rice.  The recipe is so quick and easy and you can be enjoying a yummy Chinese meal from scratch in about 20 minutes.  The Veetee rice is really time saving and convenient, cooking in its tray in a microwave in just 2 minutes, and is a great accompaniment to a home cooked Chinese style meal. The eggs used in the Egg Fried Rice are free-range, which is good to know, and the quality rice gives a great, light and fluffy result.

rice, convenience food


The ingredients I used were enough for a family of four, served with two trays of the Veetee Egg Fried Rice as an accompaniment.

Here is my recipe video:

                                 


Look out for the new wholegrain rice from Veetee too.  Another great cupboard staple for quick meals.

Veetee, rice

Monday, 28 July 2014

A Tiger's Tail - a film review

In the perfect formula for a family movie, you might find cute animals, characterful kids and funny situational comedy. A Tiger's Tail features all of these things!  Youngsters Billy and Koby, are dealing with the usual troubles that befall teens such as homework, girls and the local bullies.  But when a tiger cub called Luna comes into their lives, the trouble really begins!

kids movie, tiger


The tale begins at the local zoo where the local bullies humiliate Billy and steal his rucksack while he was trying to impress his love interest Doreen by the zoo's hot dog stand.  When Billy's dad finds the bag, due to the carelessness of a rather inept zoo keeper, there is an uninvited guest stowed away inside, which he inadvertently brings home.  This is the start of an adventure that sees Billy trying to keep the baby tiger hidden from his clueless parents and come up with a plan to return the cub to its pining mother.

The film uses a lot of classic, kids' film plot devices to progress the story and the moral of being rewarded for doing the right thing is cliched if not heartwarming. It has the feel of a Sunday afternoon Nick Jr movie with cute critters and kids getting into scrapes until the final mandatory happy ending.  The interaction between the family's pet Labrador and the tiger cub brings scenes that children will love and the comedic situations that come from trying to conceal a playful wild animal in the house will get the children chuckling.

Our favourite characters were Billy's goofball friend Koby, who is always doing something daft, and Billy's dad (played by the guy who played mind reading policeman Matt Partman in Heroes).  The parenting skills of Billy's parents leave a lot to be desired as they constantly dismiss and misunderstand their son's dilemmas- but it does raise a few laughs.

There is a good element of storytelling, some lovely animals and some gentle humour along with a nice soundtrack, which makes this a sweet film to keep the little ones entertained this summer. It has a nice moral message about honesty and doing the right thing and we get to see the underdogs triumph.

The Tiger's Tail is available now - find it on Amazon for £8.50.
The film is 81 Minutes long and a U certificate.

Avengers Bedroom In A Box - Room Transformations from Dulux #asifbymagic

A few weeks ago, we transformed Freddy's bedroom using the Dulux Bedroom in a Box with a Marvel Avengers theme.  To say that the end result was awesome is an understatement.  Everyone who has seen it has been super impressed and maybe just a tad envious!  The easy to hang wallpaper mural has created a fantastic feature wall with Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye in starring roles.

Dulux, BIAB


The Dulux Bedroom in a Box range doesn't just cater for fans of Marvel Avengers, they have Jungle Adventure, Sea Adventure, Peppa Pig and Disney Fairy Princess themes.So whatever your little one is into, there will be a Bedroom in a Box theme to please them.   

The concept of the Bedroom in a Box is simple:

Dulux


Take a look at the Dulux Bedroom in a Box website to see real reviews, customer quotes, videos and photographs of bedroom makeovers.  I spotted a photo of Freddy on the website, of him after he saw his new bedroom for the first time.  He was very excited knowing that his room was decked out with his favourite superheroes!

Dulux, Avengers


If you are looking for inspiration for redecorating your children's bedrooms, it's well worth taking a look at the range.  They transform kids' rooms as if by magic! You could even have the opportunity to win an annual Merlin Pass for the family by buying a Dulux Bedroom in a Box.  Another great reason to buy one!


Dulux, decorating


Find out more and order a BIAB at the Dulux Bedroom in a Box website.


"We were provided with a Bedroom in a Box for the purposes of this review by Dulux and Tots100. You can find out more about the Bedroom in a Box range on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest." 




Sunday, 27 July 2014

Love your tummy with All-Bran #realmumsallbran

Life can be hectic, fast paced and chaotic. As a parent, time is valuable and sometimes in the melee we don't take as good care of ourselves as we should.  Little things like enjoying a healthy breakfast can be forgotten in the hectic morning rush.  Getting enough fibre in your diet or eating your five a day can be overlooked in favour of rushed ready meals or late night take aways. Consequently, our health and our digestive wellbeing can suffer. We can feel gassy or bloated.  In fact 52% of 1000 women surveyed confessed to experiencing digestive complaints at least once a week. Not a recipe for feeling good.

As serotonin is mostly made in the gut, we are restricting the production of our happy hormone when we don't look after our tummies. No wonder so many of us feel below par so often. It's no surprise that we sometimes have unhappy tums.

tummy upset
A sad tummy :(

Kellogg's All-Bran and Britmums have challenged me to try the #RealMumsAllBran 5 day challenge in an effort to get a good feeling in my tummy.  The challenge also encourages us to love our tummies, flaws and all, and embrace the way we look.

All-Bran, Kelloggs, cereals


Once upon a time I had a tummy that looked like this.

teenager, sexy


Nowadays it looks a lot less like this and more like a big blob of over-handled dough.  It's no longer taut or tanned as it was in my teens.  It's pale and pasty...it's not seen the sun for years!  My days of bikini clad sunbathing on the beach have been replaced with the wearing of sensible one piece cossies and sitting in the shade. The me that was, is no more. Lots has changed over the years

My tummy and I have a longstanding love-hate relationship.  On one hand I have nothing but admiration for my tummy.  It has housed my five growing babies - my first pregnancy was in 1988, my last in 2009.  Forty five months of my life have been dedicated to producing my offspring.  That's almost four years where my tummy has been stretched to capacity, kicked, jabbed and prodded from within.  It's bound to take its toll.

My last pregnancy 'blew' my stomach muscles, which have failed to close up properly. Consequently, even if I'm a little overweight, my stomach just bulges out. It's not a good look, and can evoke questions pertaining to when I'm due.  Mortifying and no good for my confidence.

But it happened because I carried my 9lb 10oz baby to term.  It's a war wound from my last ever pregnancy. A reminder of what it was like to carry my last born son.  So how can I view it negatively?
I just have to suck in my core and keep the pounds off.  I can do that! It was definitely worth it because I have an adorable little boy because of it.

pregnancy, baby, sister
A little Kizzy with my 6 month baby belly!

Every stretch mark, every scar, every mole and every ounce of flesh that overhangs the waistband of my skinny jeans tells a story.  It's the story of motherhood...and I wouldn't have things any other way.  Carrying, birthing and raising my five beautiful children is the greatest and most rewarding achievement of my 45 years!

If ever my vanity threatens to confuse my mindset into dreaming about tummy tucks or liposuction in an attempt to recapture the taut tummy of my teens, I just have to think about my family and smile.
Maybe I'll never be a middle aged super model...but I'm a mum...a real mum...and that's good enough for me.

As for the health of my insides, I have taken the 5 day challenge, enjoying a bowl of new All-Bran every morning for my breakfast.  As a vegetarian, fibre features quite regularly in my diet from pulses, fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and nuts....but I am notorious for failing to eat a good breakfast. This challenge promised to put me on the road to good eating habits.

I remember back in the day when the only type of All-Bran available was the brown sticky kind! Now we get a choice including indulgent Golden Crunch, Red Berry Crunch and Chocolate Wheats. All-Bran is definitely a product that has come a long, long way over the years, appealing to a wider audience with more demanding and varied tastes, but still gives consumers a high fibre cereal to improve their digestive wellbeing.

The Red Berry Crunch is my favourite of the three varieties.  I enjoy it best, sprinkled over a bowl of soya yogurt or with almond milk.  The clusters are quite big, indulgent and very filling, whilst the dried strawberries add a fruity twist to the cereal.  As the cereals are fortified, I know I am getting Iron and other essential nutrients in addition to the fibre.

After five days, I definitely feel more energised in the morning and am not hungry until mid afternoon.  My body has definitely enjoyed being well fed, and taking five minutes at the start of the day for a yummy breakfast has been quite an uplifting experience.  A bit of me-time, no matter how minor is always therapeutic!

The cereals are sweetened, so depending on your personal taste, you may find that you prefer the traditional 'stick' All-Bran or the flakes.  But having the whole range to pick from gives you choice and variety.  So, whatever type of cereals you enjoy, there is no excuse for not loving your tummy with All-Bran!


                       


You can follow other real mums' stories by looking for the hashtag #RealMumsAllBran on Twitter.

This post is an entry for the Real Mums of All-Bran Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Check Out Aldi School Shop for Low Priced School Uniform

Buying school uniform for the kids can be very expensive. However, there are ways that you can cut the costs considerably.  Even if your child's school has items of compulsory uniform such as sweatshirts bearing the school logo, you can still save pounds by shopping for the other bits and bobs at Aldi this year.

low price school uniform


The prices are low, but the quality is still great with every item independently tested for durability, washability, fabric strength, comfort and quality of the stitching.  Colours are tested against fading or running and the designs are tested for practicality. So you can be assured that each item is up for the back to school challenge.

All sizes from 4-11 years are one price, so you won't end up paying more for your older or bigger kids. You can invest in clothes for them to grow into at the same low prices and future proof your school uniform with bargain buys. You could even buy a couple of spares just in case!

Here is a sample of what is on offer in store from tomorrow, July 24th:
  • Polo shirts with button front and ribbed collar are available in blue or white and priced at just £1.25.
  • Round neck sweaters in navy or red are just £1.25 each.
  • Girl's Pleated Skirts in navy, black or grey with permanent pleats are just £1.50.
  • Trousers for girls and boys in navy, black and grey with Teflon fabric protection are just £1.50.
  • Short sleeved shirts are just £1.99.
  • Scuff resistant shoes for kids' sizes 10-3 with velcro fastening are available for £6.99.

All the uniform come with name labels inside to make labeling the children's school clothing easy and ensuring their property doesn't get lost.  The clothing is all easy to launder with clear care labels to keep it looking at its best.

With prices this low, getting the kids back to school and looking smart won't be such a financially daunting prospect!!

Also in store, you'll find stationery and learning books to help the kids get ready for September.

Freddy received some new black school trousers and polo shirts from the range and I am very impressed with the quality you get for the low price tag.  The finish is good, the stitching is secure and the material, of the trousers in particular, is really nice. It'll be well worth checking out the range of Specialbuys when they appear in Aldi's School Shop tomorrow.

Keep the Kids Entertained with 50 Days of Summer

If you are looking for some inspiration this summer, for ideas to keep boredom away during the long holidays, then Roberts Bakery has some ideas for you!  In their FREE downloadable pack, there are suggestions for affordable activities to do, places to visit (including many with free admission), fun things to make and picnic friendly recipes to create.

The 50 Days of Fun downloadable pack is filled with things that the kids will love to do. Click on the image below to go to the website:

free downloadable


There is an idea for every day from July 17th, but you can pick and choose ideas for things to do from the fifty days.  Day one suggests making a scrapbook and recording all the adventures you get up to over the summer.  This will be a wonderful souvenir, and I find that keeping a summer scrapbook keeps the kids practicing their reading and writing in a fun way!

I love some of the suggestions, such as the mess free, outdoor water painting which would be a great activity to keep little ones occupied on a sunny day...and if it descended into a water fight, then that would be even more fun!

There are some great picnic sandwich ideas, some of which I tested when I enjoyed the Roberts Bakery Bloggers' Picnic earlier this year.  The Cheezy Beans refried bean sandwich idea is new one I intend to try out.  It sounds yummy!  Or how about trying the Nutty 'Nanas sandwich that I made at the bloggers' picnic? We used the Roberts Bakery 50% White & 50% Wholemeal bread, which was really good.

peanut butter and banana sandwich


You can download the two part pack at www.robertsbakery.co.uk/50-days-of-summer
It is a great resource whether you want to follow everyday or just dip into!
Roberts Bakery will be sharing the day’s top pick on facebook.com/RobertsBakeryUK and on twitter @roberts_bakery.

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