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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Enjoy Drinking Water with Stur - the Liquid Water Enhancer

Love Water Naturally


Especially in the hot weather, it is so important for us all to keep ourselves hydrated. Although water is one of the best drinks for us, sometimes we want something with a bit more flavour and appeal. Many squashes and soft drinks are filled with nasty chemicals such as artificial flavours, colours and sweeteners. Others are packed with sugar, which is increasingly known to be something we should avoid. In an age where we are getting more conscious of what we should consume, our drink choices have been limited when looking for something natural and beneficial to our health.

Thankfully, there is a new product on the market to make drinking water far more pleasurable and even better for us. STUR Liquid Water Enhancer is all natural, GMO free, contains virtually zero calories, is naturally sweetened and also contains over 100% of our RDA of Vitamin C. It comes in a range of sophisticated flavours - coconut, fruit, tea and exotics.

Each handy 38ml size bottle contains enough for up to 30 servings. It is small enough to pop in a pocket, gym bag or handbag for adding to a glass or bottle of still or sparkling water when out and about to make a refreshing drink.

water, drinks, coconut water


I was sent some to try out from the coconut range: Coconut Water Original, Coconut + Pineapple and Coconut + Lime. Each is a concentrated squirt-in liquid made using creamy coconut and purified water with natural fruit flavours and stevia extract.

Stur, liquid water enhancer


The Coconut + Lime flavour is my favourite. The mild taste is wonderfully tropical with the taste of coconut and a hint of lime. The drink is naturally rich in electrolytes so is good for when exercising. It is natural tasting with the light flavour of coconut water, which I actually prefer to the real thing. I added it to both plain water and fizzy Sodastream water to make a lovely summery drink. It can also be added to cocktails.

drink, natural, coconut


At £2.99 a bottle it is a fraction of the cost of traditional coconut water drinks and is so much nicer and better for you than squash or pop. I'm glad I've discovered this brand, which ticks all my boxes for what I want out of a soft drink - natural, sugar free, artificial additive free and with a lovely, grown-up flavour.

Find out more about the Stur range and buy online at www.sturdrinks.eu.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Jurassic World Books from Centum

On its opening day, Ian and I went on a daytime date to the cinema, while the kids were at school and oblivious to what we were up to, to watch Jurassic World in amazing D-Box 3D. With the moving chairs, rumbling and shifting in synchronisation to the action, I felt like I was in the heart of the movie surrounded by those incredible Velociraptors and the rest of the prehistoric reptilian cast. Though of course, having the utterly gorgeous Chris Pratt in larger than life 3D was what really sold the film for me. Seriously, he could be my alpha male any day!

Not surprisingly, Jurassic World has broken box office records and has incredibly paid for itself in the first weekend of opening. Clearly we can not get enough of this amazing dinosaur franchise (nor the adorable Chris Pratt!) Adults and children alike are mesmerised by the idea of dinosaurs, and the thought of a theme park like Jurassic World would make lots of childhood dreams come true. Sadly, although Ian told me that he heard on the radio that scientists have worked out the theory for creating a dinosaur embryo from a bird's egg by switching on and off the genes for specific traits, the ethical implications mean that we probably won't be buying our tickets for a real live Jurassic World anytime soon.

However, there is plenty of great merchandise available to keep us all happily entertained while we wait for the rebirth of the dinosaur.

Freddy was sent some great Jurassic World Books from Centum.

Jurassic World - The Dino Experience Activity Book 
£4.99

With over 50 pages of puzzles, games, colouring, doodling and stickering, this book is great fun for junior dino-fans. Kids can find out all about dinosaurs with some fascinating facts and colour illustrations and will be kept occupied for hours filling in the pages.

The book is set out as if it is a souvenir from Jurassic World itself, complete with a resort map. It makes this activity book a bit different as kids can imagine they are experiencing a week at the theme park as they complete each page. The book contains over 190 stickers to use in the book. There is also a push out 3D model of a T-Rex tail to make. (You can complete the model T-Rex using the model parts from four books in the series).

This is a great book for a rainy day or to entertain children during the long summer holidays.

Jurassic World, Centum


Jurassic World - The Ultimate Quiz Book 
£4.99

There are forty challenging quizzes in this book, which challenge older kids' dinosaur expertise to the max. It tests kids on whether they could fend off a T-Rex attack? Asks if they can identify fossils? And checks if they know their dinosaurs?  All this and more is tested within the pages of this exciting quiz book.

There are species quizzes to test knowledge of each different dinosaur along with general knowledge tests, questions on the prehistoric eras, the animals' lives and their extinction plus questions about the film itself. The quizzes are nicely presented with illustrations throughout. As an added bonus there is also a push out 3D model of a T-Rex head to make.

Jurassic World, Centum


Other titles in the series include a Poster Book, Mega Sticker Book, a junior novel and a paperback picture book, which features high quality movie stills from the film.

Find the books in supermarkets, toy shops, gift shops, garden centres and other major retailers.






Tuesday, 23 June 2015

What About Breakfast at Greggs?

According to a recent survey, The 2015 Greggs Breakfast Report, the perfect breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee at 7.40am. However, not everybody follows such a morning routine and breakfast is rapidly becoming one of the most versatile and adaptable of meals.

Only half of the 5000 Brits surveyed admitted to eating breakfast at home in the morning with 39% saying they just didn't have time for it. When it comes to professionals, 15% say they eat breakfast at their desk, with a third of them using the time to multitask and check their emails. 1 in 7 people simply have a cup of coffee in the morning and two thirds admit they couldn't function without their caffeine fix. 22% buy a cup of takeaway coffee on the go each day with young professionals consuming an average of 130 shop bought cups of takeaway coffee a year.

The way that we are enjoying breakfast is definitely changing. We are finding new ways to fit our morning meal in around our busy lives, making the time we have work for us in the most efficient way.

Greggs have a breakfast range available for people who eat on the go, which includes omelette baguettes and rolls, porridge, pain au chocolat, muffins and fruit and oatie cookies. They also have fresh coffee and bottled fairtrade orange juice.  I was sent a voucher to try out breakfast Greggs style.

Greggs


The new Fruit and Oatie Cookie is a delicious oat biscuit with sultanas and raisins with a gently spiced flavour. With a soft, crumbly texture, it goes perfectly with a coffee for a quick breakfast on the go.

The creamy pots of porridge come in original, golden syrup and new red berry flavours. You just need to add water to make a pot of hot porridge. It is a good option for anyone grabbing something to eat at their desk at work, looking for something hot and satisfying.

The pastries at Greggs are perfect to pick up for an indulgent grab and go morning treat. The pain au chocolat are soft, light and buttery for an indulgent breakfast.

The omelette breakfast roll and baguette are made using Good Egg Awarded Free Range and Cage Free eggs served in a crusty baguette or a soft roll with a choice of sauces. It is nice to see vegetarian options on the menu at Greggs (we don't all crave bacon butties you know!!)

My mornings always start with a coffee. Greggs sell their own coffee blend of slow roasted mild Arabica and rich Robusta beans, which is 100% fairtrade. So however you have it, from black to latte, you can get your morning cuppa to start your day.

Not only is Greggs range very impressive, it is also really reasonable ...much cheaper than the big name high street coffee shops. If you are someone who buys a coffee and a breakfast snack on the way to work or after the school run you could save £££'s over the course of the week!

Breakfast is served until 11am Monday to Sunday, so you can even enjoy a leisurely weekend breakfast. See the whole range online at www.greggs.co.uk/menu/breakfast-range or pop into your local Greggs.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Interplay Wire Craft Rings Review

Here Inside the Wendy House, we are big fans of the Interplay brand, which encourages creativity in children through their exciting and innovative activity kits.

The latest one we received to review was the My Style Craft Design & Make Wire Craft Rings set, containing instructions and materials to create eight fashion rings. My daughter Kezia and her best friend Georgia are my enthusiastic testers when it comes to anything crafty like this, so I put them to work independently to create some fun, fashionable jewellery. At 12 they are well over the recommended 8+ that this kit is aimed at.

jewellery, craft kit


The set included three lengths of jewellery wire in varying thicknesses - two silver, one purple, a pink handled pair of pliers, a ring forming tool and a bag of assorted beads, as well as a fully illustrated step by step instruction manual. All you need in addition to the contents is a pair of scissors or wire cutters to cut the wire and a ruler to measure lengths.

Interplay


The instructions really are very comprehensive and clear, but unfortunately the procedures were just too complicated for the girls to manage. They struggled to work out how to make even the easiest ring design look like a piece of jewellery and not just a twisted length of wire. So I stepped in to assist and have to admit that I found myself wishing I was an experienced and highly skilled jewellery maker and not just a slightly cack-handed mum, because I really wanted to impress the girls! Alas this was not to be.

interplay, wire ring making


Mastering the spiral and loop making using the pliers was very fiddly and we were just not very good at it. Try as we might we could not turn a length of wire into the elaborately twisted, bejewelled, knotted, twirled and intricately designed rings illustrated in the manual.  I'm sure that someone with more dexterity and jewellery making flair could create something beautiful from the lengths of wire and beads - but sadly on this occasion we weren't up for the job.

Interplay


Although this review is not as positive as other Interplay sets we have tested, that is not to say that the kit itself was in any way substandard. The wire is good quality and the tools are reusable, so can be used not just for this activity but for any other future jewellery making crafts. They will be a great addition to a craft box. The instructions are well described with step by step detail and clear illustrations. Our problem was our inability to translate them into the skills required to create something that looked like the expected end result. The rings we made were just not really something you'd want to wear.

For anyone with a real artistic flair and with good dexterity when working with intricate detail, this would be a great starter set for jewellery making, teaching skills and knowledge for the design and creation of bespoke pieces.

To balance out our issues with our lack of skills, I have looked at reviews for this kit on Amazon and some are very positive. Here is one:

"The instructions are great and we really felt like we were learning how to be professional jewellery makers. Hours and hours of play from just one box." 

And this is a stock image of what you could make with a bit of skill using the kit.

Interplay


At £7.99 this is a great price for a set that can make eight rings. You can find it online at:  www.interplayuk.com/mystyle/wire-craft-rings


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Brantano - shoe shopping with expert fitting

When it comes to their feet, it is really important to make sure that children wear comfortable, well fitting shoes. Little feet need room to grow in order to promote healthy development. Children's feet can have growth spurts, which can be hard to predict so regular measuring to check their foot sizing is really important. Ill fitting footwear can cause the child discomfort in the short term and may lead to foot problems or deformities in their adult lives.

Today, we took Freddy to Brantano in Telford so he could try out their free expert fitting service and get a brand new pair of shoes for school in order to review the experience and service.  

shoes


Brantano have conveniently situated out of town branches in retail parks, where the shoes are displayed on the shelves in pairs allowing shoppers the freedom to select them and try them on immediately at their leisure. No waiting for assistants to find the ones you need. Shoes are arranged in sizes making it easy to see exactly what is available in your or your child's size.

Brantano stock top brands such as Startrite, Clarks and Hush Puppies. as well as Skittles, US Brass and Blox. They have an extensive range to suit all budgets and tastes, with many styles on sale.

shoes, back to school


Firstly, Freddy had his feet measured by a trained member of staff using a specially designed foot gauge to measure the length, width and depth of his feet. Staff are trained to be expert fitters for all shoes across the brands, and the lady who saw to Freddy was very friendly and made him feel at ease. As a mum, knowing I am getting Freddy shoes in the correct size is really reassuring as his foot health is very important to me (having lived with a bunion myself, I know the damage that ill fitting shoes can do!)

Brantano, shoes


We were given a kids' fitting guide, a Back to School brochure, an "I'm a Brantano Kid" sticker, a certificate to tell us his foot size and a reminder card to remind us to get his feet remeasured for free in three months time (with no obligation to buy shoes if his foot size hasn't changed). I thought this was a really nice touch.

Armed with the knowledge that he was an 11F with an average depth, we were shown to the relevant shelf where we were free to browse the pairs of boys' shoes in his size. As he doesn't have a wide foot or anything out of the ordinary with his sizing, we had the pick of most styles available.

Brantano


Freddy had his eye on all the funky trainers from Adidas, Nike and Skechers as well as character pairs featuring Skylanders, Angry Birds, TMNT and Minions. Unfortunately for him, they aren't really suitable for school uniform so we headed to the more appropriate footwear on the shelves!

shoes, trainers


Freddy then moved his attention to the boys' school shoe range. There were dozens of pairs in a range of brands, materials and styles, all in his size. It was so convenient to try on pair after pair without having to rely on asking a member of staff to fetch them from the stock room. Having both shoes available allowed us to see exactly how they looked as a pair and how they felt to walk in. This gave us the opportunity to try as many pairs as we needed to find Freddy's perfect shoe.

Bonus features such as scuff resistant uppers, one touch fastening, anti-microbial treatments, easy clean outers and flexisoles mean you can find a shoe that can keep up with the demands of even the most demanding schoolboy.

Freddy tried on lots of pairs and eventually chose a pair of velcro fastening, black leather school shoes from Buckle My Shoe, which cost £32. As soon as we had settled on the pair that Freddy liked, the lady who had measured his feet came to check the fitting, feeling for his toes and checking around the shoe for the width fitting.

Brantano


The final check was the walk as he strutted his stuff with the Brantano aisle as his catwalk. We were assured that his shoes were indeed a good fit and he looked really smart in his comfy new footwear.

Brantano, school shoes


The Brantano experience suited us really well. We really appreciated the staffs' help when we needed assistance with the measuring and the checking of the shoes that we chose for Freddy. But we also liked being free to work our way through the pairs on the shelf in our own time without having to ask for a particular size or waiting for someone to fetch a matching shoe. This makes Brantano a more streamlined and fun shoe shopping experience that suited my family perfectly.

Freddy is going to look so smart with his new school shoes on Monday. I've put the reminder card on my fridge to jog my memory to take him back in September for another fitting to make sure that he always has shoes that fit his growing feet.

Brantano


You can find out more about Brantano and view the great range of school shoes available to suit all budgets and tastes at www.brantano.co.uk


“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity”.

Happy Father's Day to my Children's Daddy

Once upon a time I was a single parent with a 3 year old son and a new baby girl. Although being a 22 year old with two kids wasn't easy, being a mum defined me, giving me something to live for and to strive for. I didn't need any one else aside from my son and my daughter. With two terrible failed relationships behind me, the part of me that could love or trust again was more than a little broken. I focused all my effort and energy into doing the best for my children. Building a life for us and protecting them from the hurt I had endured.

I could never have known that I would be sharing my life with someone again so soon. That within a year someone would take my wounded heart and fix it. Someone who would teach me how to live and how to love.

You came along. My best friend for so many years. Offering me the unconditional support and friendship that had been missing from my previous relationships. Opening my eyes to how it felt to be respected, cherished and  loved. It was inevitable that our friendship would become something more and I knew that you were an honest, decent, trustworthy man with a good heart - a man that I could let into my children's lives.

So you became the father figure that they had never had. A man that they could love and trust, who would never let them down. Who would put their needs first. Who would love their mum and never hurt her.

Over the next few years we saw the arrival of a daughter. We got married and welcomed another little girl and a son into our family. We built a home and saw our love grow deeper and deeper, as we shared our lives together.

Today is Father's Day.

On this day I need to let you know just how amazing a man you are. What you have given me can never be quantified. Because you have given me myself. You made me whole and gave me the chance to be the best person I could ever be, But more than that, you gave my children the very best dad that they could ever wish for. Literally.

I have never known a dad like you. Nothing is too much trouble for you when it comes to your family. The things you have done for all five of our children goes so far beyond the call of duty. You are selfless. You are kind, fair, respectful and supportive. You love unconditionally, with all of your heart. You have fun with them, enjoying their company and time spent together. You give them the tools to be better people and let them see how a real man behaves. They are so lucky to have you.

If I could have known what life my two eldest children would enjoy thanks to me being with you, that scared 22 year old girl that I was, would have never wasted a tear , felt any regret or sorrow or feared for our futures. Everything bad that I had endured up to that point in my life was worth my suffering. Because my journey led me to you. Has led me to where we are now, with five miraculous children and a wonderful life together.

Thank you for allowing me to give my children a dad like you. It has been the very best gift I could ever have given to them. The best gift for a mother to give to her children. A role model, a hero, a shoulder to cry on and someone to trust. A strong pair of arms to hold them and the knowledge that they will always have someone who puts their needs above their own.

I only have to look at my incredible, successful, confident and loving older kids to know that your parenting has influenced their lives in such a positive way. You gave them a love that transcended biology, allowing them to rewrite the futures they may have otherwise had. Our three younger children are just as wonderful, knowing nothing but the unconditional love of two parents who are very much in love with each other. The five of them are as close as siblings can be and fill us with such pride and joy everyday.

We did this together Ian, but I am forever grateful to you. You gave me the chance to live this life and to give our children all the things that they need to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. That is a true blessing.

family, fatherhood

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse Recipe

My dairy free chocolate mousse recipe was always a firm family favourite here Inside the Wendy House. But now, I have tweaked the recipe further to make a fully vegan and cruelty free chocolate mousse, using whipped up Aquafaba.

Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas or beans.  The stuff we usually pour down the sink! I use the aquafaba liquid from a strained can of chickpeas in water as the base for my mousse. When whisked with an electric whisk, the Aquafaba froths up to form a white, peaked, meringue-like mixture. The resulting mousse is less dense and lighter than when made with eggs, with a deliciously bubbly texture.

vegan, recipe, aquafaba


Vegan Chocolate Mousse 


Ingredients (makes four small ramekin dish portions)


Aquafaba from one can of drained chickpeas in water
100g of  vegan dark chocolate (I used Beech's 55% dark chocolate)
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (to sweeten if required)

Method

Melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium power. Use short bursts until thoroughly melted.
Allow to cool a little.
Whisk the aquafaba until thick meringue-like peaks form.
Add whisked aquafaba into the melted chocolate and fold with a metal spoon.
Fold in maple syrup.
Pour into bowls and put in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.
Serve with a rosette of soya cream on top and decorate with a strawberry.

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