Sunday, 30 June 2013

We Met Mike the Knight at Warwick Castle

Yesterday we were lucky enough to be invited to the first of the Mike the Knight weekends at Warwick Castle.  We were blessed with glorious sunshine, and it was the perfect day for Freddy, my own little knight in training, to learn all about Mike the Knight's chivalrous code with the motto "Be a Knight, Do it Right!"

The setting for the event is just perfect.  Warwick Castle is a fabulous Merlin attraction which is easily accessible from junction 15 of the M40.  It is a great family day out with lots to see and do including live combat shows featuring the Warwick Warriors, the Flight of the Eagles show, the Kingmaker exhibition and actor led tours of the State Rooms and Great Hall.  Families can have fun in the Castle Courtyard and explore the ancient Towers and Ramparts or enjoy wandering around the beautiful grounds beside the river.

During the special Mike the Knight weekends there are also a range of medieval missions for pre-schoolers to embark on.  (These activities are all free of charge and included in the Warwick Castle entry price.) They can practice their archery skills with Mike's Target Test.  Jump on a trusty steed and race in Gallahad's Gallop. Go on a voyage of discovery with Sparkie and Squirt in the Dragon Egg Hunt.  Build a wall for the Glendragon Castle. Make a Mr Cuddles in the Colour and Craft Tent. Cast a magical spell at Evie's Workshop and even get their faces painted with a special Medieval Mike the Knight design.  Each task is rewarded with a sticker and when the missions are completed, the little knights receive a small gift for their hard work.  Little ones will learn a whole host of chivalrous lessons such as listening skills, good manners and helpfulness along the way.


Freddy had an excellent time taking part in all the activities, helped by his big sisters.  They met up with their cousins, Addy and Dyl, who were also attending the event with their family.  Together they embarked on  the quest to find the dragon eggs which lead us around the grounds of the castle.  They loved it!  We visited the Mill, the Peacock Gardens and the Birds of Prey before ending our adventure at the top of the Mound.  It was a great way to explore and discover new things.  Freddy was slightly disappointed not to see a real live dragon hatching from the final egg, but we explained to him that it had flown away!

In front of the castle is a brilliant sand sculpture depicting Warwick Castle, Glendragon and Buckingham Palace.  The 5m x 6m structure weighs in at over 30 tonnes and brings a taste of the seaside to Warwick.  There is also a sandpit for children to try to create their own sandcastle and enter a competition to create Britain's Ultimate Sandcastle.  Kids can also get to meet and greet Mike the Knight himself and have their photo taken with the CBeebies favourite.  The queues to see Mike can get quite long, but at the end of the day we didn't have to wait too long at all.

Warwick Castle

We really had a wonderful day.  There was so much for us all to do, and it was lovely to see Freddy join in with all the fun activities on offer. He is so much more confident these days and loves seizing every opportunity to have fun!

The next Mike the Knight weekend is the 6th and 7th July.  

A new series of Mike the Knight is due to air this summer on CBeebies.

Find out more about Warwick Castle at

Keep up to date with Glendragon news on Mike the Knight's Facebook page or visit the website at or follow Mike the Knight on Twitter @MiketheKnightUK

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Win Outdoor Toys from Wilko #giveaway

It's nearly the summer holidays and we are looking forward to six weeks of fun in the rain sun!  One way of keeping the kids entertained out of doors is to invest in some fun outdoor toys.  Wilko stock a great value range of toys and we were sent some to review.

  • Wilko Play Stunt Kite Nylon Multi-Coloured £4.00
  • Wilko Play Boom Bat Set Multi-Coloured £4.00
  • Wilko Play Gardening Set  £4.00
  • Wilko Play Magic Bubble Accessories Multi-Coloured x 26 £4.00
  • Wilko Play Cricket Set Multi-Coloured £4.00
  • Wilko Play Catch 'Em Out Game £4.00

The toys are all colourful and fun with lots of kid appeal.  Freddy particularly loved the Magic Bubble jar that has loads of different shaped and sized bubble wands as well as a pot of bubble mixture. He loves blowing bubbles, then chasing them and popping them or watching them float to the sky.  The Boom Bat Set will help future Wimbledon champions hone their bat and ball skills!  The satisfying "boom" noise when the soft ball hits the colourful bats made Freddy laugh everytime!  The cricket set is a lovely colourful set complete with wicket and stumps to transform your back garden into a mini version of Lords!  Budding gardeners will love to grow their own using the gardening set or little ones could even use them in the sandpit to dig and build.  It comes with three tools and pots for gardening fun. The Catch 'Em Game is a lot of fun as you try to catch the ball on the velcro catchers.  Grown-ups seem to like this game a lot too, so it's definitely one to entertain the guests after a barbecue. We can't wait to try out the kite next time we go to the beach.

You can win your own box of fabulous, outdoor toys in this giveaway!


Simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below to be in with a chance of winning.  UK only.  Giveaway closes on midnight on the 10th July 2013.  See the full range of Wilko outddor toys here.

summer, outdoor, prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 28 June 2013

Who Can Resist A Cute Bunny?

Like most people, I can regularly be found cooing over the latest cute animal photos on the internet.  There aren't many things in the world that can reduce a grown adult into a slushy mess like a cute little puppy, kitten or bunny can.

This video for Ibis Hotels shows a bunch of cuddly little rabbits finding out just how soft the Ibis beds are.  Even these fluffy bunnies want to take a nap in them and are drifting off to sleep.  It is very sweet and guaranteed to make you say "awwww!"

Sponsored video posted on behalf of SpreadItFast.

Cheap and Easy Tips For Being Eco-Friendly At Home

I always try to do my bit to be green.  I am a committed recycler, my family all have a vegetarian diet where a lot of what I cook is made from scratch and I use a lot of eco-friendly products in my home.  So I was very interested in this campaign with Andrex Eco.

Andrex Eco is working with eco-designer Oliver Heath to educate Brits about the little things we can do to help us live sustainably.  A recent survey showed that 48% of us want to be more eco-friendly but don't know how, so this campaign offers top tips making being eco-friendly cheap, easy and fun!

We have been challenged by Andrex Eco to adopt Oliver's tips that make eco-living easy in the home.  We were also sent some eco-friendly products to help us on our way.

green living

Here are Oliver's tips and how we have adopted them into our lives:

1:  Switch to low energy LED light bulbs that last for 50,000 hours!  That will definitely save money on the electricity bills.  All our bulbs have been switched to the low energy kind that last for 15,000 hours.  I love not having to change them all the time or having them blow out like old bulbs used to!

2:  Fit draught excluders to doors and windows ready for winter and prevent 15% of your home's heat loss.  As we are in a new build home, it is all double glazed and insulated so we don't get draughts.

3:  Start a compost heap for green waste, kitchen waste and cardboard.  By next year you'll have fertiliser to feed your flowers, fruit and vegetables in the garden.  Growing your own is a green activity that will save you money too.  We have started to grow fruit and vegetables this year so rather than using our Green Bin we will get our own little composter and have a go at making our own fertiliser for next year.

4:  Buy Better!  It's simple to switch your buying habits and purchase products that contain recycled material or that are recyclable.  Products like Andrex Eco toilet roll are great quality but made to be more environmentally friendly.  It is soft and strong, made from 90% recycled fibre and 10% natural bamboo.  Buying products like this can make a big difference!


5:  Cut down on the hot water you use and you will save three ways - by lowering your water bills, and the cost to heat and dispose of it.  Using a Shower Timer is a fun way to save water and energy costs.  the kids will love the challenge of a 2 minute shower!  I turn the water off when I lather the shampoo in my hair or when I'm shaving my legs.  It saves water and also maximizes the use of shampoo and shaving gel as it's not just being instantly washed down the drain.

save water

6:  Make the most of natural light by opening your curtains and keeping window sills free from clutter.  Not only is natural light free, it is also psychologically uplifting.  Since making over our bedroom and switching heavy, dark curtains for blinds, I have loved the effect of natural sunlight in my bedroom.  Changing dull, matt paintwork for golden, gloss has also made our room feel lighter and airier.

7:  Plants look good and keep your home healthy by absorbing CO2 and toxins.  Ferns, ivy and spider plants are great.

8:  Don't forget to recycle bathroom recyclables like loo roll tubes, shampoo bottles and deodorant tins.  Keep a recycling bin in the bathroom so no-one forgets.  We have installed this green pedal bin so nothing ends up being disposed of in the wrong place.


9:  Source vintage or upcycled furniture and accessories for your home rather than buying new.  Pre-loved items can add such character and are unique. Search charity shops or antique fairs for bargains. Look out for eco-friendly gifts such as this beautiful vintage tea-cup candle made with eco-soy wax from Jasmine Orchard Styling.  Using candles is such a lovely thing to do and they are a free source of both heat and light.

eco-friendly gift

10:  Share things you no longer want or need.  Try Freecycle or other online communities to pass on unwanted things or donate to charity shops.  Use libraries to borrow books instead of buying them. Join communities where you can share skills, products or services.  Sharing things has a real feel good factor and can save money too.  If you want to make a little extra cash look out for local For Sale Mart pages on Facebook or try Music Magpie or Ebay.  Keeping things that are still useful away from landfill is so important!


We have enjoyed following Oliver's tips, especially using the two minute shower timer which is shaped like a frog!  It really appeals to the children.  The Andrex-Eco toilet paper really is an excellent buy.  The quality you expect from Andrex with the added bonus of knowing you are buying a more environmentally friendly product.

Here are a few of my own tips for being eco-friendly:

Take re-usable cloth bags to the supermarket instead of using their plastic bags.

If you do use supermarket carrier bags be sure to re-use them at home as bin bags.

Install a Hippo Water Saver in the cistern of your toilet and save water everytime you flush.

Use refillable tubs and drinks bottles for the kids' lunchboxes instead of buying individually packaged portions of food or cartons of drink.  It saves cash too!

Invest in Eco-Cloths which allow you to clean with just water.  For tough jobs use a vinegar/water solution.

Grow your own salad leaves and herbs in a tub outside the kitchen. So easy to do!

It really isn't that difficult to go green.  With kerbside recycling there is absolutely no excuse not to recycle green waste, glass, tin, paper and plastic.

Collect rainwater in a butt for watering outdoor plants on those rare dry summer days.

If you read magazines, pass them on to friends and family to read too.  Many doctor's/dentists surgeries will be grateful to have them in their waiting rooms.

Teach the kids from a young age to recycle and save energy and water where they can. Show them that it can be fun!  They are tomorrow's adults.  Lessons they learn while they are young will become good habits for the future!

Shwartz - What's For Dinner Tonight?

Britmums has challenged bloggers to cook up a meal using the new Schwartz 2in1 seasonings.  The twin sachets contain flavourings for a main dish along with seasoning for a complementary dish or a topping. Each of the five packs include an easy to make recipe so you can try a new dish or transform a family favourite with ease.

We were sent two to try as part of the challenge:

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping: A blend of herbs and spices for chicken pasta with a cheesy topping.

Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes: Roast chicken seasoning, with garlic and thyme, accompanied by a special seasoning to create perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes.

My family are all vegetarian, so I was pleased to see that in spite of their meaty titles, the seasonings were suitable for veggies.  So I used them in my own way to add some extra oomph to some of my own recipes.

Here is what I had for dinner tonight:

Quorn Chicken and Mushroom Pasta Bake with Cheesy Crumb Topping



1 pack of Quorn fillets defrosted and sliced
150g sliced mushrooms
400g carton of chopped tomatoes
5 fl oz water
Schwartz Meditteranean pasta seasoning

1 pack of fusilli pasta

grated cheese
Schwartz Garlic and Herb crumb


Put the pasta on to cook according to instructions.

Fry the sliced Quorn and mushrooms in a frying pan.

Add the tomatoes and the seasoning mixed with water and heat through.

Stir in the cooked, drained pasta.

Put into a ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over grated cheese and crumb topping.

Cook in an oven at GM6 for about 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

“This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz. Find out more about the new 2in1 mixes here

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Reading as part of the Bedtime Routine

Fairy Non-Bio, with the help of Timmy Time, have come together to discuss the importance of reading to your little ones at bed time to help them sleep.

According to new research commissioned by Fairy, 8 out of 10 mums read to their children every night at bedtime.  The survey of 1,000 UK mums (with children aged up to seven) took an in-depth look at bedtime routines.  Whilst dads are playing a much bigger role in parenting, this research uncovered that bedtime is still mostly the woman's domain. (Although in my house Daddy is solely in charge of bed times and gets Freddy off to bed every night.  He still enjoys sharing a book with him at bedtime though!)

reading, books

Working Mums Make Bedtime Work

61% of working mums said that they have to rush through the routine in order to get their child into bed on time, but that bedtime reading remains a priority for them. In fact, 16% of mums would shorten bath time in order to have time to read with the average amount of time spent reading to their children being 11 minutes.

Reading clearly plays a key role in establishing successful bedtime routines and is helpful when settling down children for the night. Other reasons given for reading to kids at bedtime include aiding their development, encouraging an interest in books and bonding with children.

Bedtime Routine: Successful or Stressful?

35% of parents said that their child tends to settle down quickly and easily most nights, with a further 43% saying this is the case 3 or 4 nights of the week.  Unfortunately, bedtime isn't always easy and some parents struggle with the nightly routine. 1% of mums find this part of the day is stressful, and 2% admit to dreading bedtime.

Finding the right bedtime routine that works for both parent and child is important and incorporating reading is a great way of helping children to settle.  Snuggling up under a blanket and sharing a good book is a lovely, calming way to end the day.

Fairy's Timmy Time on pack promotion

Fairy knows how important reading is - it is an important step in a child’s development, boosting speech and vocabulary and teaching essential literacy skills.

To encourage parents to read to their children, Fairy has renewed the partnership with Timmy Time, which includes an on-pack promotion offering a free bedtime book with every purchase of Fairy Non Bio or Fabric Softener.  The colourful paperbacks featuring  Timmy's Bedtime Tales are perfect for reading together.

You and your little one can share the exciting adventures of Timmy, the little lamb with a lot to learn! 

sleep, bedtime

For more information on Fairy visit or for more information on Fairy partnership with Timmy Time please visit

The Fairy range is proud to have been reviewed by Allergy UK and awarded their British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval.

We have been sent some Fairy Gel and Timmy Time books from Fairy.

Harper Collins Books for Summer

There is nothing like enjoying a good book while enjoying the summer sunshine outside.  Reading in the garden, by the pool or on the beach is such a wonderfully relaxing thing to do.  It is something I like to encourage my children to do too and they are never too young to enjoy a good story book.  Harper Collins has lots of lovely new releases for the summer months and here are two titles, perfect for youngsters to read alone or share with a grown-up.

Ruff and the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day

Meet Ruff, a rather busy but very lonely little dog.  That is until one eventful day when Ruff is working in his garden.  He discovers that someone else lives there too.  They then meet another creature looking for friendship.  Ruff, Hubble and Lottie are no longer alone!  This is a delightful and charming tale of friendship which paves the way to further fun-filled adventures featuring Ruff and his new friends!

RRP £6.99 PB
Published July 4th 2013

children's books

Beauty and the Beast

This classic fairy tale is brought back to life by Michael Morpurgo's brilliant way with words and new talent Loretta Schauer's loveable illustrations.

Kind hearted Belle agrees to live with the beast in return for her father's life, but soon sees through his fearsome exterior as she discovers his kind and gentle ways and they fall in love.  Belle returns home to ask her wise father's permission to marry the beast, promising to return to the palace in one week, but her plans are thwarted by her jealous sisters.  Their trickery keeps Belle from the beast and breaks his heart. When she finally returns he is as still as death.  Will true love be enough to save him?

This story of love, danger and heartbreak is beautifully written for confident readers in this lovely new edition of a much loved tale.  The ending shows forgiveness and the triumph of love, and shows children that beauty is more than skin deep.  It is a lovely tale to share.

RRP £6.99 PB
Published June 2013

Michael Morpurgo

We were sent preview copies for review.  

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Allergen Free Eating For Wellbeing

The food that we consume has a big impact on our health and wellbeing.  This is especially so if you suffer from food allergies or intolerances, but even for those of us who don't, some foods can cause bloating or affect our complexions or energy levels. Eating organic food that is additive and preservative free, which does not contain the common allergens nut, dairy and gluten, can help revamp our diets and improve our wellbeing.

Ilumi is a company that has been cooking up organic, nut, gluten and dairy free meals for over a decade.  Their products are 100% safe for those with allergies.  But this doesn't mean they are bland.  They supply a great range of sauces, soups, gravies and meal ideas, conveniently served in microwaveable pouches or trays.  They don't need to be refrigerated as they are pressure cooked in their packs, naturally preserving them.  This makes them ideal for popping into your bag to eat away from home, ensuring that what you eat it is completely safe.  Just microwave and they are ready to enjoy.

We are lucky not to suffer from food allergies in our family, but as vegetarians we are very aware of what we eat.  Ilumi do a range of veggie friendly meals which are very convenient and offer something a bit different and much healthier to the usual ready meal options available in supermarkets. They also make sauces to make cooking from scratch easier.  Vegetable and Chickpea Jalfrezi, Tomato and Red Pepper Soup, Spanish Style Rice and Vegetables and Morrocan Style Vegetable Tagine are a selection of their vegetarian offerings and I was sent some to try.

allergies, food intolerances

Each packet has the ingredients clearly labelled so you know exactly what has gone into the product.  The allergy information is also clearly labelled along with the nutritional values of the dish.  It is a very clear and foolproof labelling system and a model I would love to see adopted by big brands.

The dishes can be heated in a microwave or put into a pan on a hob.  I have been enjoying them at lunchtime.  The Spanish Style Rice and Vegetables comes in at under 300 calories for a quick, easy and healthy lunch.  My serving up technique is a bit lacking and I have to admit it looked a bit unappetising in its plastic tub, but it did taste good! It had a lovely rich smoky flavour from the paprika.  And it is nutritious, made with all good stuff!  It is also very filling and satisfying, so great if you are watching your weight.

allergy free

The Sweet Chilli Stiry Fry Sauce worked brilliantly with Quorn giving a sticky, sweet and sour stir fry.  The Tomato and Red Pepper soup was lovely, with a hint of smokiness. And the Vegetable and Chickpea Jalfrezi was nicely spicy and had nice pieces of butternut squash in it. Perfect served with rice.

I am impressed to find a company offering something a bit different to make life easier for those with allergies or for those of us who just want to eat better.

For a quick healthy meal at home or at the office, Ilumi is a great option. Much better than the high salt, high fat ready meals that fill the aisles of supermarkets. And the range is far more imaginative and well made.  For allergy sufferers, Ilumi offers a 100% safe, allergen free alternative that is easy to carry in your bag when not eating at home.


Prices are between £1.00 and £2.75 which is excellent value for what you are getting.  At the moment they have a great offer online where if you spend £20 or more they give you a massive £10 off! Plus it's free delivery.

Find out more and shop online at

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Make Sure Your Kids Are Seen with GLOWkids

Clothing which is practical, funky, looks cool and which can help keep children safer is an excellent concept. GLOWkids ticks all those boxes.  With a range of cool tees featuring high-visibility designs, parents can keep the kids looking stylish while making sure they are seen.  

The bright, eye-catching designs on the front and back of the t-shirt make the child much easier to spot and keep an eye on when out and about.  When darkness falls, the design makes the child much more visible as the reflective, high viz image really comes into its own.  This is really important for road safety. The T-shirts are much more practical and far cooler to wear than a high visibilty tabard, and are more distinctive than simply wearing brightly coloured clothing.  In fact a child will be more than happy to wear a T-shirt from GLOWkids as they feature fun designs and look great!

Freddy was sent a GLOWkids T-Shirt featuring a high visibility snake design.  He absolutely loved the picture and he looked fabulous wearing it.  The image really did stand out and is very distinctive.  Having the picture on both sides of the T-shirt is a great idea when trying to spot your child in a crowd of kids.  It catches your eye allowing you to easily spot your child in a soft play area or in the park and keep better track of where they are at all times.

safety, tshirt

The quality of the t-shirt is good and the sizing is generous.  I really liked the fun design which is printed using highly visible inks for maximum visibility.  There is a range of different designs which will appeal to boys and girls. You can spot the t-shirt easily, even from a distance.  Being able to keep an eye on your child, and knowing that they are visible from a road safety point of view is invaluable.

GLOWkids also sell hoodies in a range of designs for kids aged 3 to 13.

The cost of Freddy's T-shirt in age 3-4 is £12.00.  A small price to pay for something with the potential to keep him safer and keep him seen.

Find out more online at

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Men In My Life

Yesterday, my baby grandson Ted had his Naming Day, a day where we came together to celebrate this new little man in our lives.  He is a lucky little boy with lots of people who love him from both sides of his family.  Both of his paternal great grandparents were there which made the day really special bringing four generations of his family together.  We had a lovely day which reminded me just how blessed I am to be surrounded by people that I love so very much. 

Seeing my own sons Freddy and Joseph together makes me so proud.  Joe always wanted a baby brother when he was younger, but instead got three younger sisters.  He was a fabulous big brother to them all, but he always hoped for another boy in the family.  It wasn't until the year that Joe left home to live with his girlfriend Jade, that Freddy came along.  But although they have never lived together, the brotherly bond is just as strong.


Now Joe has a son of his own, a new generation of McDonald men has begun.  Seeing Ian , Joe and Ted together is wonderful.  It makes us so proud that our son is now such a great dad to his boy.  Joe now understands what it is like to be a parent, and understands just how much we have always loved him.  It tightens the bond between us all.



 The best part of the day for me, was seeing my own 80 year old dad with his grandson and great grandson.  Baby Ted has been given my dad's name Stanley as his second name, which is such an honour for my dad.  It is also Joe's middle name so it is a lovely family tradition.  

Initially my dad was nervous about being there because he suffers terribly with arthritis in his legs.  But thankfully, he changed his mind when my in-laws offered to drive him down with them, saving him the two hour drive.  It was still a long day for my dad, but we looked after him, keeping him comfortable!  He was glad to have been a part of Ted's special day and relished being surrounded by his family.  Due to the distance, he doesn't get to see Joe very often, but it means the world to them both when they get together.  Beautiful memories were made which will last forever.


My family means everything to me and these Magic Moments are what makes my life worthwhile.

Win 1 of 3 Albelli Photo Books

I have reviewed Albelli's photo books and I am always so impressed with them.  I love seeing my precious  photos displayed in such a lovely way, allowing me to re-live memories every time I flick through the glossy pages.


Thanks to Albelli, I am giving away three photo books to three lucky readers of Inside the Wendy House.  All you need to do to enter the prize draw  is fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below.

The competition ends at midnight on 3rd July 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Your prize entitles you to a 24 page, medium landscape photo book valued at £15.95 plus £3.99 P&P (total value £19.94). The voucher code for the prize will be valid for 3 months from receipt. This voucher code cannot be combined with other offers. To claim your prize, enter the promotion code at checkout and the associated amount will automatically be deducted from your purchase. Costs will vary based on any additional pages or features such as lay flat and gloss that are added to your book. If you are unable to enter your promotion code, please contact our customer service team prior to ordering. Offer only valid at, no substitutions, transfer rights or cash equivalents will be given. We reserve the right to modify or discontinue promotions at any time.

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Summer Mocktail with POM Wonderful

We were sent some POM Wonderful pomegranate juice to try and have been enjoying some POM Wonderful mocktail recipes using the delicious and wonderfully nutritious fruit juice.   Pomegranate has been hailed as a superfood, rich in antioxidants and vitamins. The juice is rich and fruity and works really well as a base for some thirst quenching summer drinks.  It is really yummy simply mixed with ginger ale or lemonade and is great for both adults and children to enjoy. Kizzy absolutely loves it!


We have been trying it out in some great recipes from the POM Cocktails website.  Here is a recipe for an Apple and Ginger POM mocktail which will be simply perfect when served at a summer garden party or barbecue.  It can be made alcoholic if you prefer a drink with a bit more of a kick!

Apple and Ginger POM Mocktail



50ml POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
50ml ginger ale
Quarter fresh apple
1 nail of ginger
2 lime wedges

Glassware: Collins or highball

Garnish: Apple Fan


  • Shake the ginger, apple and lime in a shaker
  • Add POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and shake with ice
  • Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with ginger ale
  • Garnish with an apple fan
  • For an alcoholic version this recipe works great with Whiskey.

This cocktail is the perfect summer refresher!

POM Wonderful is available in the chilled fruit juice aisle of supermarkets RRP £3.56 a bottle.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

21 Day Almond Snacking Challenge

Most days, I enjoy a mid morning or an afternoon snack.  In the past, this could have meant indulging in crisps or biscuits, but I try to avoid these unhealthy snacks.  It's a slippery slope for me, leading to sugar and salt cravings and unnecessary binges!  

When I was challenged to take part in the 21 day Snack Happy challenge with California Almonds, I was interested to see if whether switching to snacking on almonds would make a difference to my overall diet and wellbeing.  I love nibbling on nuts, so the prospect of switching to snacking on almonds everyday was an appealing one.  Not only are they tasty they are a good source of protein, high in fibre and contain calcium, vitamin E and other essential nutrients.  A handful of 23 almonds has just 138 calories, and eating them actually helps reduce cravings for salty or fatty foods.  

  So for three weeks I have enjoyed eating a portion of almonds a day.  They provide a sustained burst of energy and a host of nutritional benefits, and by eating them daily I have not been tempted to choose less healthy snack choices.


I really enjoyed having the little snack packs of almonds available when hunger struck.  The crunchy almonds  are very satisfying and a handful takes a while to eat maintaining the pleasure of munching.  They really do fill you up until the next meal. It is nice knowing that they are delivering a boost of energy and nutrients to my body, rather than the empty calories supplied by sugary snacks.  It is a guilt-free pleasure!

As a vegetarian, eating nuts is a great way of getting extra, essential nutrients into my diet.  Snacking on almonds is definitely a habit that I will continue. Almonds can also be incorporated into meals adding crunch to breakfast cereal or making a nutty topping for salads or curries. 

Disclaimer: California Almonds has asked me to take part in the Snack Happy Challenge. They have provided me with all I need to complete the challenge. For more information about healthy snacking please visit

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What's In My Handbag?

Once upon a time I had a designer handbag that was small and elegant.  It carried my Estee Lauder lipstick, tickets for the latest music venue that I was heading to and my pretty, little purse containing enough money to keep me in drinks all night and then get a taxi home.

Then I had kids!

My handbag was quickly replaced with an over stuffed baby bag filled with nappies, wipes, changes of clothes, toys, snacks, drinks etc. etc.  The little front pocket held my car keys, my credit card, my old mobile phone and a packet of emergency paracetamol.

These days, I have at last managed to evolve beyond the baby bag.  I now have a big, mummy style handbag with loads of room inside to accommodate everything I need as a mum with kiddies in tow.   I only just recently started using my current bag so it isn't as yet filled with all the junk I accumulated in my last bag such as serviettes and sauce sachets picked up at cafes and coffee shops, tonnes of receipts, leaflets picked up in shops, out of date grocery coupons, half eaten packets of sweets, broken biros and old McDonald's toys!

So, just what do I have in my handbag today??



Next Black and Cream Tote Bag
Car keys
House keys
Four keyrings of Freddy
Trolley token keyring
Samsung S3
Next Sunglasses
Nintendo 3DS plus Kid Icarus game (to keep Freddy entertained while grocery shopping!)
Euro Lottery ticket (matching 3 numbers plus a lucky star worth £9.60!)
Cadbury's buttons
Boots Time Delay Lip Gloss
Bad Gal Eye Liner
Leather Purse containing credit card, bank card, store cards, loyalty cards, Driver's Licence, family photos and about £20 cash.
Starbucks comments card (I've already started picking up junk!)

What is really surprising is the value of the contents that I carry around.  Although I don't have a designer bag or expensive taste, my bag plus its contents would cost me in excess of £650 to replace!  And as for my keyrings of Freddy and my family photos...well they are just priceless!

This is my entry is the What's in Your Handbag? competition.

My Vegetarian Cooked Breakfast

We love a good veggie fry-up here Inside the Wendy House!  It makes the perfect breakfast (or brunch if you have a lie-in).  This weekend I was treated by the lovely folk at McCain to the ingredients for the perfect fry-up, and Kizzy did the honours of making me a wonderful Full English, vegetarian style!

With McCain Hash Browns, Quorn sausages and bacon slices, fried mushrooms, baked beans, fried eggs, tomato sauce and buttered toast on the menu, we had everything we needed for the ultimate veggie breakfast.

McCain have recently improved their Hash Browns so they are now even better.  The chunky, crispy, golden hash browns have a tasty new recipe with added onion and seasonings so they are full of flavour.  They are a great addition to any fry-up and are just the thing to mop up egg yolk or baked bean juice!  They take just 20 minutes to cook from frozen so are quick and easy to prepare.  They are an essential addition to the line-up of my perfect fry-up.

Quorn, McCain

Kizzy did a brilliant job making the breakfast and was very proud of the end result.  Everything was absolutely delicious.  The only thing that went wrong was when we realised that the sausages had been put in the oven to keep warm, and had been forgotten about when the cooked breakfast was served!  So we had them later.  But that didn't deter from the fabulous fry up that Kizzy served me.  DELICIOUS!

McCain, Quorn

McCain Hash Browns are available in all major retail outlets priced at £1.65 RRP for a 700g bag.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Gardening with Grandad #KidsGrowWild


This Father's Day, we invited my parents around for a celebratory lunch with the family.  During their visit, we shamelessly took advantage of my dad's horticultural talents and sent him into the garden with grandson Freddy to plant up some seeds using our gardening starter set received as part of the Brit Mums #KidsGrowWild campaign in conjunction with  It was a delight to see 4 year old Freddy and 80 year old Grandad cultivating their green fingers and having some outdoor fun together.  


With the addition of a bag of compost and a few pots, they were ready to get planting the Pansies, the mixed flowers and the Sunflowers, hoping for a pretty display of colour that will attract the bees into our garden over the summer months.
Freddy loved the feel of the soil and enjoyed scooping it into the pots with his hands, the trowel and while wearing his gardening gloves.  He explored the colours, textures and smell of the soil as he worked. It is such a wonderful, multi-sensory activity.


Once the pots were full, they were ready to plant the seeds. Grandad told Freddy all about the different seeds and how they will grow.  Freddy was taking in all the facts about flowers and what colour, shape and size they will be.  Freddy really wants the pansies to be light blue...we shall find out when they grow!


We had potted up some sunflower seeds into a small pot the week before, and they were now little seedlings ready to be planted in the big pots.  Grandad showed Freddy how to gently prick out the seedlings. He told him all about the roots and showed him how to make a hole in the soil with his thumb to gently plant the seedling in.  freddy was amazed to hear that sunflowers can grow even taller than Grandad!



Once all the seeds and seedlings were planted up in their pots, Freddy watered them using rain water we had collected in a bucket in the garden.  Freddy loves watering plants and his new watering can was a big hit.


He finished up by using the plant labels so he could remember what was planted in each pot!  


Freddy was so attached to his new gardening gloves he wore them for the rest of the afternoon! 


It was so lovely to see Freddy spend some quality time with his Grandad doing something together out of doors.  My dad loves gardening and if can pass on some of his enthusiasm and knowledge to his grandchildren it is time well spent!  They had a wonderful time pottering about, happy in each other's company.

After doing the gardening with Grandad, we all sat down to watch Dr Suess's The Lorax which is all about the importance of plants and growing seeds.  Freddy's favourite song is "Let It Grow!" which seemed very appropriate!


 “This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge”

Monday, 17 June 2013

Changing Rooms - a Budget Bedroom Makeover

My bedroom had become a dark and dreary place.  (I mean this literally and not as a metaphorical reference to the state of my love life!)  The dull, dark brown paintwork, accessories and soft furnishings combined with years of clutter had made, what should have been my sanctuary and oasis, into an energy sapping room.  The matt paint on the walls had become chalky and had hand prints and marks on it adding to the dull and unattractive effect.  The mix and match bed linen was drab and I had no incentive to buy new as sleep time had become something that was merely functional as the bedroom was no longer a place to take pleasure in.

It was definitely time for a change!

Firstly, the paintwork needed to be changed!  Instead of the flat, matt, dark brown, we opted for a Crown Silk Emulsion in Pale Gold.  It was on special offer at just £19.99 for a 5 litre tin, which was £15 off the full price in Homebase!  Bargain!  The colour is quite neutral, but has a subtle golden sheen that adds warmth and just a hint of opulence to the room.


decorating, painting

Ian is brilliant when it comes to DIY.  He gets straight into a job and keeps going until it is completed.  He painted over the hideous brown, which took four coats!  His top tip for painting walls is to buy a cheap roll of masking tape to mask up the edges.  This gives a super straight and neat edge without any effort at all, giving a great finish to the job.  He also doesn't wash the roller and brushes out at the end of the day.  He simply wraps them in clingfilm overnight and they are ready to use straight away again next morning.

The paintwork immediately lightened the room and made it look brighter and much bigger.  We got rid of the trio of drab brown canvases and replaced them with a pretty, shabby chic inspired piece of wall art. (£9.99 from B & M).  I really love the delicate rose design, it is so pretty.


Our ceiling light had a thick, faux velvet covered, dark brown lamp shade.  We replaced it with an open weave lamp shade that cast pretty shadows on the ceiling and diffused the light rather than blocking it out. (£3.99 from B & M)

I was impressed with the bargains on offer at B & M if you are prepared to look.  Definitely worth a visit for some super cheap and really lovely bedroom accessories.

lighting, bedroom

We chose the Tuscany Duvet cover and Oxford style pillowcases from the Dunelm Mill duvet range , which are a classy way to turn a tired bed into something much more sophisticated.  The pattern is stylish and appeals to both masculine and feminine tastes. The golden accents of the champagne coloured background have a silky sheen that complements the new paintwork beautifully and the golden applique stitching adds to the overall effect.  It ties together the new golden theme of the room perfectly.

Dunelm mill

The quality of the fabric is excellent and quite opulent!  The duvet cover is thick, heavy and looks much more luxurious than the £24.99 price tag suggests.  The pillowcases are £5.99 each. (Currently this range and other selected bedding  is on sale at 20% off! Another great bargain!)  I have purchased myself a second cover in Gold Grenada with gold applique flowers and sequin detail, so I never have to go back to my old, tired duvet covers!

bedroom makeover

The Dunelm Mill Roman Blinds in golden Biscuit colour are a great alternative to the floor length, heavy, dark brown curtains that have hung at our windows for years.  They are blackout blinds so will keep the light out when needed, but look light and attractive during the day.  Swapping the heavy curtains for the blinds gave the effect of making the room even more spacious, bright and airy. The wallspace around the window opened up making the newly dressed windows a feature of the room. They let the light flood in. They cost just £21.59 each and they are a really easy and great value way to revamp your window dressings.

roman blinds, window dressing

My utilitarian shelf unit had blue, plastic boxes in each of the spaces.  I changed them all for wicker baskets of varying shapes and sizes to create a more natural and attractive look.


It is amazing how quickly we transformed our dingy bedroom into something that looks stylish and so lovely. It was all done on a tight budget and over just a couple of days.


I love the finished room which is brighter, more spacious and so much more inviting!  It goes to show that with just a little effort, you can transform your living space into something much more appealing.  Just a lick of paint can make the room feel like new. Adding a new duvet cover and window dressings can completely change the look, the feel and the ambience of a bedroom. I am delighted that I at last have a bedroom to be proud of!  It's gone from drab to fab!!


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