Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Green Chain: a Blog for Charity

PriceMinister have launched a fab campaign - The Green Chain- for bloggers to raise money for charity. If you take part in their eco interview, they will donate £10 to one of three great environmental charities - Surfers Against Sewage, Trees for Cities and the Young People's Trust for the Environment

If you tweet or join the Green Chain Facebook page as well as blogging, PriceMinister will donate an extra £1 for each. 

You can read all about The Green Chain and how to take part here

And now for my interview... read to the end to see if I've tagged you!
Turning the heating down by just one degree in your house saves 240kg of CO2 a year. It would take eight trees to soak up this amount of CO2! Are you currently doing anything to make your home eco-friendly?

Our house is a new build so it is already quite eco-friendly.  However after visiting the Ideal Home Show and interviewing George Clarke, we are looking into the possibility of having solar panels installed.  We buy appliances that are more energy efficient.  We have double glazing, good insulation and we only use our heating very minimally...that's what Slankets are for!!

Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface, now they only cover 2%. How are you reducing your use of paper?

Non-paper billing makes so much sense in the internet enabled virtual world!  As does reading magazine and newspaper articles online.  I am notorious for re-using gift bags for birthdays and Christmas's a bit of a standing joke amongst my friends and family.  I've opted out of postal junk mail where possible and we recycle any paper waste that is created.

At PriceMinister we believe that trading second hand items online is a great way to extend the life span of products. Have you ever thought of buying or selling second hand items on or off line?

I have dallied with Ebay and car boot sales as both a buyer and seller.  I wholeheartedly agree with trading in second hand items.  One man's rubbish is another man's treasure.  This reminds me...I have a garage full of Freddy's outgrown baby things...I must get onto selling them soon!

One of the biggest environmental challenges we face is Freshwater Shortages. Are you taking measures to reduce your water consumption?

With a new house we have the toilets with the half flush option.  The two little ones share a bath together which they love.  I have been known to go for the dry shampoo or over sink fringe wash instead of the full works!  We have reduced our laundry usage by simply wearing clothing twice if it's still fresh and clean.  We never use a hose pipe in our garden.  Ian washes the car when it rains so it gets rinsed off by nature for free!

How do you choose the produce that goes into your shopping basket? 

Being a family of vegetarians we already have a diet that is generally more environmentally friendly.  We try to buy local, if not British, produce where possible.  We recycle all our waste cans, glass jars and cardboard packaging, and try to avoid the excessively plastic packed products.  I only ever buy Free Range Eggs.  This year I'm trying to do a bit of "growing my own" in pots in the can't get more local than that!

What is your favourite green space near home? 

Ellesmere is a beautiful area of North Shropshire where we love to go walking.  There is a central lake or mere surrounded by woodland.  Hundreds of birds flock to the mere and it is a fabulous haven for wildlife.

Which charity will you support and why?

I would like to support the Young People's Trust for the Environment. Educating young people about environmental issues will hopefully raise awareness in the next generation to take steps towards protecting our planet.

Please give us the url of a fellow blogger (or bloggers) you would like us to contact to raise an extra £10.

SAHM Loving it
Mummy From the Heart
Little Green Blog

*When your post is online contact to confirm your participation and we will donate £10 to the charity of your choice!*

Outdoor Fun...Our Toyology Review

Geoffrey is once again on the look out for lucky families who will go on to become this year's Toyologists.  In order to be considered we have been asked to submit a review of a toy or game.  So along with my "Tiny Testers" a.k.a. Freddy 2, and Kizzy 8, we are testing out our brand new Pack Away Sand and Water Table which is perfect for Outdoor Fun.

The Pack Away Sand and Water Table consists of a brightly coloured, plastic, foldable table with areas for both sand and water play.  It includes a selection of ten toys which are perfect for moulding sand models, digging or for pouring water.
The self-assembly toy was really easy to put together. The four legs slotted into the base and it was ready to go!  Daddy was particularly impressed with the design.  The table is quite compact and a good size for toddlers like Freddy to use, however 8 year old big sister Kizzy was quite happy to play with him too.  There was plenty of room for both of them to splash and dig, but I don't think it would accommodate more than two little ones at a time.

 The table has a lid that fits on which means you can leave it out overnight with the accessories stored inside and keep it clean.  The plughole makes it easy to empty the water out. The table can be folded in half and clipped together for storage.

We were very impressed with this toy and it was great for outdoor play, where the mess doesn't matter.  If you were using it indoors I'd recommend a large splash mat underneath it!  There is a little water seepage through the central holes, which may cause a problem if kept indoors overnight.

Our only negative point is that the water wheel was too stiff to turn, but Freddy still enjoyed pouring water through it so it wasn't really a problem to him.

Here is Kizzy's video that she made about the Sand and Water Table.  She said "Even though I'm a little bit old, it was great fun playing with my little brother.  We pretended that we were making 'sludge pies' and it was really messy and fun!"

This is a video of Freddy and Kizzy playing with the Sand and Water Table in the shade of the gazebo.  By the end it gets very messy!!

The Play Table is available from Tesco both online and in store and is currently on sale for £20.  It is a good purchase as it contains everything your little ones need to play...just add sand (available for £2.87 a bag) and water!

This toy really is a great addition to the garden.  Freddy loves it and it will provide him with hours of outdoor fun this summer!  Big sister Kizzy also enjoys playing with him!  We give it a BIG THUMBS UP Inside the Wendy House!!

Ella's Kitchen's Eco-Friendly Lunch Bags

Ella's Kitchen, the organic baby and toddler food company is doing its bit to protect our planet with the launch of new eco-friendly lunch bags made from waste food pouches.  Ella's Kitchen is establishing itself as an industry trendsetter by "upcycling" waste into these fun and funky lunch boxes, which are perfect for days out with your baby.  I was sent one and think it is fabulous...I've always loved the package designs of Ella's Kitchen's pouches and to see them used in this way is simply brilliant!

Ella's Mum, Alison Lindley says:

"We believe in 'giving stuff back' which means doing whatever we can to help protect the world we live and play in.  Our upcycling programme with TerraCycle turns waste packaging into affordable, eco-friendly new products for mums and dads."

For a limited period, Ella's Kitchen is offering a FREE cool, eco-friendly lunchbag to 500 Mums and Dads who sign up to become a Friend of Ella's via the website every month!

You can also sign up to the TerraCycle campaign which is one of Ella's Kitchen's ways of "giving stuff back".  Not only will it help our planet, it can also help raise valuable funds for your favourite charities, kids' groups and schools.  It is an inspirational idea and will also educate kids into thinking of new fun ways to recycle.  Families, nurseries, schools and toddler groups can have fun whilst doing their bit for the environment, by collecting and returning waste baby food pouches, earning 2p for charity for each one sent.  The free programme even covers postage costs with downloadable Royal Mail labels to send collected pouches to Terracycle.

As well as their own packaging, Ella's Kitchen has extended its programme so consumers can send any brand of baby food pouch to the scheme.  This will divert the whole category of waste baby food pouches from landfill.

As ever, it is great to see Ella's Kitchen doing what it does best.  This company really is "Good in every sense!"

Friday, 29 April 2011

CLOSED** Win a Personalised Father's Day Canvas by Lucy's Locket

The very lovely and talented Alyson from Lucy's Locket has offered readers of Inside the Wendy House the chance to win a beautiful Personalised Father's Day Mini Canvas. Available from Not On the High Street they sell for £35 for a thin framed and £42.50 for a thick framed 8" by 8" bespoke canvas print.  They are a stunning and unique work of timeless art and will make the most wonderful gift for Father's Day!

Alyson is offering a personalised thick framed canvas print to one lucky entrant!

"A personalised Fathers Day mini canvas is such a beautiful and elegant way to recall all those small details that are so easily forgotten about the most special relationship.  It's the perfect, thoughtful gift to give your dad and sure to adored. Utterly unique and completely custom."
This is an incredible opportunity to win one of Alyson's gorgeous handcrafted artworks in time for Father's Day.  It can be personalised with song lyrics, words from a poignant quote, funny family sayings or with what he means to you. The canvas background and font colours can be chosen to match any colour scheme. 

To be in with a chance simply do any or all of these steps. (maximum 4 entries):
Tweet "I've entered to win a @LucysLocket personalised canvas with @AlysonsBlog and @wendymcd83  at" and leave me a comment with your Twitter id. (1 entry)
Follow @alysonsblog and @lucyslocket on Twitter and leave me a comment to tell me you've done so. (1 entry)
Follow my blog through GFC and/or Networked Blogs and tell me you've done so. (1 entry)
Follow Alyson's Blog (it's one of my favourite blogs!) and tell me you've done so. (1 entry)

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.
The competition closes on May 20th and is open to UK residents only.
If you don't not despair! Alyson is offering her mini canvases at a bargain price of £30 for a thin canvas and £35 for a thick canvas through her website.  To qualify for this offer simply enter the competition and follow and visit  Lucy's Locket  on Twitter and tell her I sent you to claim your discounted canvas. Eligibility will be checked.  Offer closes on May 31st 2011.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

John Crane's Lilliputiens 10 Little Indians Review

John Crane's Lilliputiens range is a collection of stimulating, heart warmingly attractive and completely safe toys.  They have a common theme of wonder...the magic of hidden surprises, the stirrings of curiosity...every plaything is a voyage of discovery.  Soft materials and disarming characters will captivate and challenge a child's inquisitive spirit.
We were sent the very beautiful Wigwam and Ten Little Indians for Freddy to try out.  I was instantly enthralled by the wonderful workmanship, attention to detail and fabulous play value of the ten little characters, their colourful wigwam home and accessories. The wigwam can be opened and closed  Each Indian is numbered with a 1 to 10 on their chest making them ideal for counting games or songs.  They are a lovely size for little hands and everything is made of a soft material that is very tactile. The Little Indians are all different, some are boys, some are girls, there are two babies in papooses and a chief in his headdress.  Freddy enjoyed studying them and making them walk!

Here is a video of the toys in action!


The Wigwam and Indians are suitable from 9 months +.  The potential for pretend play will grow with your child.  The characters are so appealing and the numbers add the extra dimension of learning to count and order.

They are available from Amazon at £40.60 and will provide many years of play for your little one.  It would be perfect as a nursery toy.  A Noah's Ark and a Nativity Set are also available.

Labyrinthitis is not fun :(

I've had a 48 hour internet hiatus!  The culprit behind my inability to do anything is the hideousness that is Labyrinthitis.  This is my second attack and it is horrendous :(

I was sat happily typing away catching up with everything I'd put off over my exhausting, but fabulous birthday/Easter weekend when suddenly the world began to spin violently.  Had I not been tee-total, I'd have thought I'd been hitting the sauce big style.  It was like a combination of being paralytic and seasick.  I stupidly stood up and ended up face down on the laminate.  I literally crawled to the downstairs loo where I was horrendously sick.  It was a miracle that I actually managed to throw up in the toilet, it was spinning around and was a moving target in my addled brain.  Puking offered no relief, so I crawled back and collapsed on the living room floor.

I have never felt so helpless.  Poor Freddy was grabbing my hand and saying "Come on Mummy" but I couldn't even lift my head or open my eyes.  His response to having his Mummy lying on the floor was to put toys on my head and poke me!  Bless him.  He also took the opportunity to decorate my living room wall with green crayon...the little opportunist that he is!

I managed to speed dial Ian and made some unintelligible noises down the phone that alerted him enough to know he had to get himself back from work in record time. When he got home an hour later I was still face down on the laminate with Freddy sitting next to me...he'd gone into protective mode after realising that the poking wasn't working.  I was freezing cold, sweaty and a pathetic heap of uselessness that poor Ian had to drag up onto the sofa.  I stayed there, eyes shut, world spinning for the rest of the day.

The really horrible symptoms lasted for a second day.  Today I'm up and on the laptop but I have to keep stopping.  Concentrating is hard and makes my head swim.  I keep dropping things and misjudging things because the world doesn't look quite right.  I keep having to put my head down and recalibrate the world around me!  This post has taken me over 2 hours to write because the keyboard won't stay still!!!

Last time I had this I was signed off work for a week.  I hope it goes away again soon...thank you to the Royal Family for giving us a Bank Holiday tomorrow!  I need my husband home to look after Freddy.  Poor little man is still in his pyjamas because I couldn't co-ordinate getting him dressed this morning.  He's not complaining though bless his little heart. At least he's not having to sit on guard over my collapsed body anymore.

I hope I stop looking like a drunkard staggering around soon and I can once again co-ordinate putting toothpaste on my toothbrush!  We take so many things for granted...I'll be so grateful for the world when it stops spinning!


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Designing T-Shirts with Dylon

We've been having fun with Dylon's products Inside the Wendy House.  First we made a brilliant pair of Flamingo Pink Denim Cut-Off Shorts using Dylon's Hand Dye.  Then, using a selection of Dylon's craft products, Ella and Kizzy made personalised T-shirts.


The products were fun and easy to use.  Kizzy was a bit messy but everything washed off her hands, her clothes and the table easily with soap and water!  I possibly should have had her in an apron and put down plastic sheeting first!!  I am one of those haphazard mums when it comes to craft products!!

The paints were lovely to use and went on smoothly and easily.  The colours were vibrant.  Kizzy loved the 3D paints which added an element of fun to the proceedings!

The dyes are fixed using a hot iron for 1-2 minutes, and the fabric remains soft. 

It's a lovely idea to let your child get creative and design their own T-shirt.  Kizzy is very proud of her creation.  (The T-shirts were from Primark.  Ella's cost £1 and Kizzy's was £1.90.)

The craft materials were supplied by Dylon.

Movie Meme...Horror

Hannah has finally unleashed the greatest genre into the Blogosphere with this week's theme for Metal Mummy's Movie Meme....Horror!

I could write pages about my love of horror films.  From the psychological to the supernatural to the slasher to the downright nasty...horror films encompass the same thrills as a scary ass roller coaster.  The increased heart rate, the adrenalin and the gut churning thrills are all very similar!

The film I am choosing isn't necessarily the best in terms of story, effects or acting.  However, it is the film that saw the rise of one of the most iconic horror characters and the subsequent inspiration for the naming of my baby boy.  Yes, predictably maybe, but my choice is "A Nightmare on Elm Street".

Released in 1984, I was 15 and it made such an impression on me.  The character of Freddy Krueger was pure genius...he personified the terror of nightmares with an added dash of comedy, which served to make him all the more sinister!

He stalked the teenagers of Elm Street in their sleep, wreaking revenge on the parents who had burned him alive in his boiler house for being a child killer.

I saw it at the cinema back in 1984.  My friends and I were literally huddled together screaming and laughing and loving every minute of this film.  The part where Freddy's tongue comes out of the telephone had us squirming in disgust at a time in our lives when we were just discovering boys and snogging!!  Wes Craven pitched this film perfectly to the intended audience.  We empathized with Nancy as she tried to make the disbelieving adults help her and her friends who were being picked off one by one by Krueger.  It was just horror gold!

Johnny Depp makes an early appearance as one of the teens who meets a gruesome end at the razor fingered hands of Freddy Krueger.  Robert Englund played the lead brilliantly with the perfect blend of terror and humour.  The iconic gloves, hat and jumper make him instantly recognisable.  The NOES franchise produced a series of excellent sequels.  The third one was my favourite "Dream Warriors" which was released in 1987.  I liked how the story was padded out with more background on Krueger whilst remaining true to the original. The character was embellished allowing a degree of humanity without ruining his horror credentials!

To this day, I still don't like having my wardrobe door open when I go to bed...not even a case Freddy Krueger decides to come through while I'm asleep!  The spectral killer is certainly the stuff of nightmares...and I for one, love it!!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Get Patriotic with Snazaroo

We were sent a set of Snazaroo Union Jack Face Paints to review for IzziWiizi Kids.  The set is enough to paint 10 faces in readiness for the Royal Wedding celebrations.  Kizzy was my willing model.

The paints went on really well and the colours were vibrant.  They dried quickly giving Kizzy a fabulous Union Jack face!  When it came to removing the facepaint, Kizzy used a baby wipe followed by a quick rinse with warm water to remove the residue.  It cleaned off easily and left no irritation. 

The Snazaroo Union Jack Face Painting Kit is available to buy online for £3.99.

Listography...5 Things I'd Change About My Wedding

This week, with the upcoming Royal nuptials imminent, Kate has got us thinking back to our own weddings.  We have been challenged to come up with five things we would like to change about our own "perfect day"!

Casting my mind back 14 years to May 16th 1997, I recall my wedding day with a mixture of emotions!  I was finally tying the knot with my Mr.Right.  Our 9 year old son Joe was best man and 6 year old Megan was the maid of honour.  Ella was a year old and was my cute, little bridesmaid alongside my nieces.

It sounds idyllic, but unfortunately Megan had broken her arm the week before in a flower picking related injury (don't ask!), and Ella had the onset of chicken pox and slept throughout the service instead of displaying her new found walking skills by toddling in with me clutching the bride teddy bear we had bought her for the occasion!   However, we were not to be perturbed.  Our ceremony was in a register's office followed by a reception at a local hotel.  We had flouted all the official advice given to us by the Master of Ceremonies and had a relaxed and informal reception with a top table full of kids who all gave speeches, held up artwork, sang or delivered a prayer.  We had a black, burgundy and cream colour scheme.  It was very "us" and was brilliant!

But there are things I would love to change!

1: My Outfit

I chose my outfit to reflect me and my personality. The see through black lace skirt and high heeled DM's were really cool, but in hindsight I wish I'd had an amazing dress and girl shoes.  You only have one wedding (hopefully!) and it's an excuse to go all out with something extravagant and exquisite...I missed my opportunity.

2: My Alcohol Consumption
In my pre-tee-total days, I could knock back the booze!  Red wine at lunch, Budweiser by the bucketful and copious dark rum and diet cokes took their toll.  I was completely as drunk as a skunk which resulted in various consequences:

  • I thought that filling my handbag up with Dim Sun from the evening buffet was a sensible idea.  I was saving it for later...but a load of squashed chinese dumplings mixed in with my make-up, house keys, purse and camera was not my best plan!
  • I snogged by best friend's boyfriend ( another inappropriate alcohol related snogging incident that my husband had to remove me from.  Seriously, the man is a saint for putting up with my drunken misadventures!)  In my defence he was a bit of a man tart.
  • I was virtually paralytic by the end of the evening and so dehydrated that I was crawling around the floor and trying to drink a bottle of mouthwash in the hotel honeymoon suite.
  • I was way too ill to even contemplate the complimentary breakfast the next morning.
  • The alcohol poisoning made me ill for the first week of my marriage.
3: My Photo Venue
We had some photos taken in a park behind the register's office.  It looked OK but there was a bunch of drunkards with cans of Special Brew heckling us and an assortment of used condoms littered about the stone wall.  Classy!! 

4: Ian's Hair Do

I adore Ian but in hindsight, a pony tail and ear-ring combo is not the best look for a man in a suit.  I loved his long hair at the time, but I have to say, I think he looks much better now he wears it short!

5: My Guest List
You try and do the right thing by everyone at a wedding and I invited a bunch of people who I didn't really want there and who obviously did not really care about my wedding.  I ended up having to change table settings because certain people were not happy about where they were put, and they refused to socialise with anybody else.  When I think of how much money was spent per head on guests who didn't enter into the spirit of my day, I could spit nails!  Due to the costs and restriction on numbers at the Register's Office, I had to not invite some good friends to the service in favour of others who didn't even speak to me during the day.  
I would be less bitter if any of them had reciprocated my generosity and invited me to their subsequent weddings!  If I could do it all again I would not be a slave to wedding politics and would instead have invited people that I wanted to surround myself with, who would have enriched my day.  

Sunday, 24 April 2011

My Easter Photo Challenge

Every year we challenge our children to win their Easter Eggs by taking part in a series of physical and mental challenges.  This year with 3 twenty somethings, 2 teenagers and an 8 year old, we set them a Virtual Photo Treasure Hunt.  Splitting into two teams and armed with a camera, they had to take photos based on 20 prompts.
Meg, Kizzy and Joe's girlfriend Jade.
My nephew Tom, Joe and Ella.
The kids rose to the challenge brilliantly and completed the 20 photos with great imagination, ingenuity and with differing interpretations. Here is a selection of their photos.

They earned their Easter Eggs and enjoyed them all the more for working so hard to get them! I love the way the kids work together in teams with a bit of healthy competition thrown in for good measure.

Today was a wonderful day, not only was it our Easter celebration it was also my birthday.  Having all my children home along with my nephew Tom, made it a really special weekend. 

My lovely husband continued to honour my love of horror with a hand made Zombie card and the latest Wes Craven Blu Ray.  He also gave me a huge Easter lucky am I!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Connect With Your Baby

On Thursday April 21st  I attended the Graco Press Event in London along with my fellow ambassadors and the new Fusio testers. It was wonderful to put faces to the names and eventually meet my virtual friends in person!  It was an interesting and informative meeting that focused on the interaction of parents with their babies. Experts Emma Kenny and Suzanne Zeedyk gave entertaining and thought provoking presentations.
psychologist, TV, Emma Kenny, Connect with Baby, Graco
Psychologist Emma Kenny
Babies are born connected.  They thrive when given the stimuli of attentive, loving parents who communicate with them from birth.  Many years ago, all babies were proudly wheeled around in the high Silvercross prams facing their parent or Nanny.  Over the years, efficiency and engineering took priority over the designs of products for the nursery industry, and pushchairs became the efficient, forward-facing, swivel wheeled  creations we see today.  But in striving for this design, we are neglecting the element of interaction between parent and child.

In the first three years of the baby's life, its brain grows at its most rapid rate.  Interaction plays an enormous part in its growth and development.  Babies are born connected to others.  A newborn baby will instinctively try to mimic us and will respond to familiar stimuli from the womb.  The baby can differentiate between voices and recognise music that was listened to in-utero.  Babies respond to attention and this love and nurturing helps form neural pathways in the brain, helping the baby to make sense of its environment.

It is this interaction that is at the forefront of Graco's latest pushchair designs.  The Fusio and the Symbio both have the rearward facing feature, allowing babies and toddlers to enjoy communicating with their parents when out and about.  Mum and Dad can chat to, sing with and have eye contact with their precious little ones.  This reduces baby's stress levels in the face of life's hectic environments and helps them feel safe and content.   This aids their mental and emotional development and helps the neural pathways develop. It also releases Oxytocin into the bloodstream which is the "feel good" hormone which will help our babies feel happy! Giving our babies this start in life can help them become more confident as they grow up.

Image courtesy of
21-04-11 ©Sam Friedrich
tel: 07977 482 272
I am proud to be an ambassador for Graco, a company at the forefront of innovative designs which help secure the bond between parent and child during these all too important formative years.  Giving children the best start in life, may give rise to the next generation being more secure, loving, empathic, happy and well rounded.  It certainly wouldn't hurt to try and make the world a better place!!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Birthday Ella

I can hardly believe that it was a whole 15 years ago that I first met my beautiful daughter Ella.  She was born in the early hours of a Monday morning back in 1996 following a roast dinner at my mum's house on a Sunday afternoon.

Ella's birth was quick and easy, although the midwife did not believe that I was in labour and left us in a room without a bed and did not check on us at all. It was only when I started to push that the midwife actually decided to believe that her birth was imminent!  My 9lb bundle of beautifulness entered the world. (A bit of a shock given that baby 1 weighed 7lb 1oz and baby 2 weighed 7lb 6oz!)

Ella came at a difficult time in my life.  My sister died when I was 2 months pregnant and the two events were difficult to separate in my mind.  I felt a mixture of joy, hope, guilt and fear carrying my baby.  It was only when Ella was safely home that I was able to relax.  She helped me to heal.  I gave her my sister's names as her middle names in honour of the auntie she never met.

She was such a contented little soul who smiled within her first week.  The Health Visitor who witnessed her gorgeous gummy grins, was amazed that such a little baby was so responsive to being cooed at.  Her lovely nature and easy going temperament continued, making her an infant who could stop shoppers in Asda at a hundred paces by making eye contact and flashing her smile.  She really was a joyous little soul, and a blessing to us all.

Over the years Ella has delighted me, amazed me, made me proud and brought me such joy.  Her incredible musical talent has enriched our lives.  Our house is always filled with her singing, guitar and piano playing.  She has an amazing empathy and warmth for others that is a delightful gift.  She is incredibly bright, has a wicked sense of humour and shares my passion for horror films!  She is a wonderful daughter.  I simply adore her.

Ella's birthday party was a great afternoon.  Teenagers descended for a garden party and they had a great time consuming vast quantities of pizza, doughnuts and ice lollies!  Thank goodness the sun was shining, I can't imagine having them all in my house.  They are a great bunch of this day and age when teenagers are branded as all being anti-social hooligans with ASBO's, it made me proud that Ella has picked such a lovely bunch of kids as her friends.

*So happy birthday to my gorgeous daughter.  I love you so very much and I burst with pride when I think that I had a hand in creating someone as wonderful as you!*

This is my entry into Cafe Bebe's Flashback Friday!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Burnham Beeches Nostalgia

I've returned to my homeland!  Well that is I'm back in the land of my youth aka "Down South".  I'm off to London tomorrow to attend the Graco Press Event as a brand ambassador.  En route we stopped off at a place where both my husband and I spent many an hour as children.

Burnham Beeches is a woodland just a few miles outside of Slough.  In spite of its proximity to the grey town of my birth, Burnham Beeches is a beautiful wooded oasis.  I played here as a child and loved clambouring over fallen trees, jumping over streams and finding the famous giant ants that live there!  It was lovely introducing Freddy and Kizzy to these delights.

It has changed a lot in the last 30 years.  There is now an eco friendly cafe and information centre which has made it more of a tourist attraction.  But we headed off the beaten track to the playground of our youth.

Eco Freindly Toilet Block!

Ian used to live just round the corner from Burnham Beeches and my family went every Sunday for a walk around the woods.  We wondered if our paths had ever crossed before we officially met aged 11 in secondary school!  He would have been the kid on the Chopper doing stunts.  I would have been the little girl slightly embarrassed by her parents, who used to take cut up oranges to bait the giant ants!  My mum used to wear open toed sandals and would scream as the ants crawled over her bare feet!

The Ants' Nest

It was lovely to see Kizzy and Freddy enjoying the woodland walk.  It was a lovely sunny day and it broke the journey up perfectly.  Kizzy was terrified of the giant ants and their big nests and was convinced that they were crawling up her trouser legs...but apart from that, it was a fabulous touch of nostalgia for both me and Ian.

The Gallery...My Blog

This week Tara is asking for pictures that represent our blog.
The obvious choice for this would be my banner photograph of Freddy and I.  It was taken at the Good Food Show at the start of my blogging journey.  I'd won the tickets in a blog comp and was using the opportunity to make a video for my Graco Symbio Advocacy Competition showcasing the Symbio's Flip-Over handle in crowded places! 

It was the beginning of a fabulous roller coaster of a journey.  My blog quickly became something that gave me a connection to other like minded people.  It gave me validation that I was doing something beyond being a mum, without having to compromise the way I wanted to parent my children.  It gave me a sense of self and a forum for me to document my life.  To say I love my blog is not an understatement!

I'm sitting here in a hotel room now.  Tomorrow I'm off to London to attend a Graco Press Event as one of their Brand Ambassadors.  I'm accessing my blog through my wi-fi dongle.  This is me and my blog!

This picture is my entry to The Gallery! 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Kent's Kitchen

Kent's Kitchen is an online stockist of quality, authentic food kits for foodies who want amazing food but don't have the time to make it from scratch.  Healthy, delicious ingredients are sourced and combined to give homecooks a shortcut to create gourmet meals quickly and easily. Just add a few components and you 'll be serving up culinary creations that are sure to impress.

I was given the opportunity to try out some products from Kent's Kitchen.  They have a great range of meal kits and risotto mixes, as well as gravies, stocks, sauces,  rubs and marinades.  I picked a Korma Meal Kit and a Wild Mushroom Risotto Mix.

The Korma Meal Kit comprised of a pot of curry paste, a pot of curry spice and a pot of garlic infused oil. All you need to do is add coconut milk, vegetables and chick peas to make an authentic vegetarian curry that generously serves two. It retails at £2.50. I love the presentation of the product.

The Risotto Mix contains a blend of gourmet ingredients including Arborio rice which cooks up into a delicious, rich, flavoursome risotto.  Just add water and a knob of butter.  For an extra special meal you can add cooked mushrooms. One pack is enough for two generous starters.  It retails at £2.40.

I love the idea of being able to make gourmet quality meal without the fuss!  My foodie daughter Meg is home from university over Easter which gave me the perfect opportunity to make us a delicious risotto for lunch.  It was as simple as melting a knob of butter, coating the rice, gradually adding 600ml of warm water until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is softened.  We added cooked mushrooms before serving.

The result was a deliciously flavoured risotto with a deep mushroom flavour and a peppery kick.  Megan who  enjoys good food said it was as good as risottos she has had in restaurants.  It served us both easily with a generous portion each.  I was really impressed that we had such a tasty, hearty lunch for just £2.40!

Kent's Kitchen stocks eleven different meal kits for Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines.  The Risotto is available in five flavours which includes the wild mushroom and a vegetable variety which are both suitable for vegetarians.

Check out the website for more information on the company and the complete range of products which are available to purchase direct.  Postage and Packing is free on orders over £20 so you can stock up on  their delicious handmade and homemade products.  Everything is made, mixed, packed and labelled by hand.  You won't find any artificial additives, preservatives, flavourings or colourings. Kent's Kitchen can change the way you cook offering shortcuts to culinary magic.

Kent's Kitchen have a Facebook page too...pop across and say hello!!


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