Saturday, 31 August 2013

STAR STRIKERS Saturday School - sheffield

STAR STRIKERS Saturday School  - sheffield 
(not to be confused by others with a similar name)


My little boy (almost 5) has just got back into wanting to go to Football. So after he got disheartened with Sheffield Wednesday's Saturday Session - too many older children, the young ones didn't get a look in. I went hunting for another......

My August Spending diary

August 2013

Hmmm August has not got off to a good start, the past 3 days have gone by in a bit of a haze which is why I am starting afresh from today (call it cheating?  I call it being creative lol).

Mid month is going to either be super challenging or super easy as I'm off to my mums for a week with the kids.

Things can only get better eh!!

4th - less then £5 on groceries.
5th - *** no spend day ***
6th - £2 - tea and a brekkie sandwich before work (but I was very good, I had cereal for my dinner).   made £12 on selling bits.
7th -£45 on mens toys (a large aluminuum case to keep our hundreds of DVD's in.
8th - 60p (ish) on milk for work........which i then left there after one cup of tea...... grrrrrr.
9th -  *** no spend day ***
10th - approx £30 which includes a 'get the bits tesco didn't deliver' shop and a couple of extra bits.
11th - baddd day... £10 on day out + £4 bus fare.  £46 (trainers for me and DS1), £6 (pants for DS1).£3 misc.
12th - £80 on a new cabinet for front room (we've needed one for ages and this one is normally around £200).  50p on milk for work.  £3 on vitamin c tablets.
13th - £15 #tuesdaytakeaway
14th - £3 in poundland, £2 for lunch.
15th - ????.
16th - ????.
17th - ????.
18th - ????.
19th - ????.
20th - ????.
21st - ????.
22nd - ????.
23rd - ????.
24th - ????.
25th - ????.
26th - approx £50
27th - £5
28th - £5
29th - *** no spend day ***
30th - approx £30  however...... made £120 in sales :)
31st  - approx £70

Verdict........... That was an ATROCIOUS!!!  month.  Spent far too much and saved not nearly enough.  I WILL do better in September.

Cross Stitch Crazy Review, november 2013 issue 182

Ohhh yayyy Mr Postie made me very happy today - he brought me the new Cross Stitch Crazy and........ it has a Christmas Theme http://eemoticons.net

Blog A Day in September - explained

This was a fantastic idea (that I discovered on 28th August ... so rather late) started by Yummy Mummy In Training. The idea being that every day in August there is a prompt of what to blog about - use them or make up your own (or leave it if you have your own post for that day planned out)

Yummy Mummy In Training is not going to have time to run it again in September so I offered to take it on .....so after refreshing my brain from her fantastic ideas and scouring the internet for events happening in September, or useful facts about days (and a lot of ideas from America) here are my ideas

They may sound strange or cryptic, you may think they don't/ can't apply to you (I am sure they will)....more will be revealed nearer the day.

Would love your comments............if someone comes up with an idea I like I may well substitute one of the ones below......

1) Who am I?    update here
2) Back to School  update here
3) A strange fact  update here
4) favourite film  update here
5) Teachers' day - share your teacher memories  update here
6) National Read a Book day - share your favourite book  update here
7) Neither Rain Nor Snow day - Whether the Weather be Good..... or whether the weather be bad  update here
8) Grandparents Day - Share a Grandparents story update here
9) A song that reminds you of a special time  update here
10) swap Ideas day   update here
11) rememberance - one photo to paint 1000 words  update here
12) desert island dreams  update here
13) Positive thinking day update here
14) Cakes....cakes and more cakes  update here
15) Make a hat day update here
16) National Heroes Day (Saint Kitts and Nevis) - Heroes (real or not.... you decide)  update here
17) My Favourite Painting  update here
18) My quiet place  update here
19) Talk Like A Pirate Day - write a pirate story, review pirate things, share a pirate experience, use the website and comment on your experience...... really anything goes.  update here
20) Share a recipe  update here
21) Creative Kids  sorry no update for this one as was too busy to get creative - but you could check out the Raspberry and White Chocolate flapjacks we made here.
22) 1st day of Autumn - Autumn Days  update here
23) My Favourite Place  update here
24) My Toy Memories  update here 
25) 3 months until Christmas - do you celebrate it? How prepared are you? Do you have any traditions you will be keeping?  update here
26) Poetry corner  update here
27) Forget me not  update here
28) your 5 rules to live by  update here
29) My goals for October  update here
30) My most memorable September memory  update here

If you are taking part please leave your blog website and twitter handle (if you have one) so I can follow you.

(please note this post was tabbed for the month of September and has now been put into a post so I can utilise another tab).

Nibble Nibble.... Crunch Crunch.....my Walkers Mighty Lights Review, in association with Tots100

As a family that enjoy Walkers crisps (who doesn't enjoy a ham sandwich with cheese and onion crisps squashed into it for their picnic??)  Me and the boys were really pleased to be invited to review Walkers Mighty Lights, a paid review through Tots100.

Getting back from my holiday (a weeks after the email notification) I was off to the shops to get my weekly shopping, picked up the multipack of crisps we normally get ...... and promptly put them back remembering that any day now our parcel was due to test and excited about the new flavours and textures a new type would bring.

My kids would eagerly await the posties arrival wondering if today was parcel day..... but sadly not - another delve into the stash to retrieve those poor forgotten crisp flavours that no-one really enjoys but somehow seem to find their way into the house.

Watching everyone's reviews go live I was growing more concerned that my parcel was lost in the post (I am sure my postie enjoys crisps as much as everyone else).  I tried to contact Tots100 through various methods eventually being told mine were in the '2nd batch' to be posted.
   I attempted to ask how this was going to affect the 2nd September deadline for reviews to be submitted  but unfortunately no responses have been forthcoming.


So apologies Walkers - My review should be in this space but sadly the only information I can pass onto readers is what I have been told 


"With 30% less fat than standard crisps, Mighty Lights are perfect for kids' lunchboxes. They are tasty, ridged crisps that come in three flavours - roast chicken, cheese and onion and lightly salted. All the flavours are suitable for vegetarians, and are available in shops nationwide. They're made from real potatoes with no artificial colours of preservatives-  and they're a source of fibre. "
As a mum it is important to me to know what is in the snacks I am feeding my children, I am pleased that walkers clearly answer some important questions on their website:


Are Walkers Mighty Lights suitable for vegetarians?Yes, all our Walkers Mighty Lights products are suitable for vegetarians. Take a look at our product pages for more information. 
Are Walkers Mighty Lights gluten free?None of our Walkers Mighty Lights flavours contain gluten as an added ingredient; however they are made in a factory that handles gluten, wheat and barley. You can contact our Consumer Services team free on 0800 274 777 or 1800 509 408 if you would like more information. You can also email them.
 Are there nuts or sesame seeds in Walkers Mighty Lights?None of our Walkers Mighty Lights flavours contain nuts or sesame seeds, and we do not handle either in our factory.
 If you would like to find out more for yourself I am informed they are available in supermarkets priced from as little as £1 for a multipack (6 packs)

With the new school year around the corner I may just have to get some myself to try for the healthy lunchbox as it's always tricky to know what to put in it.

Please check out their website at  www.walkersmightylights.co.uk 

Should my product arrive I will be happy to amend this review.

 UPDATE............ 4th September 2013

Well after a bit of negative publicity tots100 eventually contacted Walkers and seems my postie munching suspicions were correct.

The lovely people at Walkers immediately apologised and sent some more.

I tried the original ones in my sandwich (ham salad) yesterday and must say I was quite impressed not greasy at all and had a lovely crunch. With 30% less fat they are also better for a mummy trying to loose the baby weight then normal crisps.

 Will let you know what the kids think tomorrow when I spend more then 5 minutes with them :)

 Ohhh and will put some more mouthwatering pics on too......


  




We've now had a chance to try all the flavours and my favourite is definitely the Roast Chicken, with Cheese and Onion in second place and lightly salted coming in last.

Ben (almost 5) on the other hand prefers the cheese and onion the best..... unfortunately lightly salted comes in last for him too.  In his words it has a "strange flavour".  

Noah (2 and a half) actually ranks lightly salted first, tho he is a human dustbin and will eat anything lol.

................... saying that I asked them what they wanted with their samdwiches today (8th September) and BOTH asked for the ready (lightly) salted ones!!

I'd love to see Mighty Lights in salt and vinegar flavour or even better bring back the roast turkey and stuffing  for slimming mummy's in time for Christmas - they were amazing as a normal crisp flavour.

cross-stitch update

31/8/13
My cross-stitch is really taking a back seat at the moment (silly blogging and twitter addiction) but after looking at the latest issue of Cross Stitch Crazy (review here) I fear I may have to pic up a needle and start the Christmas cards....... Sorrrrrryyy London Underground you are to be confined to a cupboard for a couple of months.

Friday, 30 August 2013

archived post from Challenges

Ok so not QUITE a challenge but this is my weekend to-do-list ..... which seems a bit of a challenge because I am getting sooo little done lately and MUST get back to my routines for when Ben starts school next week and to get September off to a good start.

Filing - this hasn't been done for over a month so have a HUGE stack to get through.
sort out the Thomas bits (as should have a £120 sale fingers crossed) and list the bits that are as yet unlisted.
sort out the rest of the sale box and get listed on preloved
check my survey sites, complete any I can.
tidy my e-mail inbox
dedicate 2 hours to cross-stitch - London Underground is feeling neglected.
Try and sort/ date some more baby photo's - order another 6 months worth for albums.
next weeks meal plan.

All regular flylady jobs

Friday - Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room & Stairs

Clear and wipe the work tops
Wipe hob
Hoover or clean the floors
Wipe cupboard fronts/ drawers/kickboards, etc
Clear tables
Empty all bins
clear stairs
sort 'junk' boxes

Saturday - Bathroom, Master Bedroom & Landing

Hoover or clean floors
Give toilet a good scrub
Clean sinks, bath, shower, etc
Wash bath mats, shower curtains, etc
Hoover bits of floor you can see
Strip, wash & replace bedding
Hoover mattress and wipe bed frame
Collect all washing from around the house
Sort out a box from underneath the bed or drawer, etc

Sunday - Children's Bedrooms

Strip, wash & replace bedding
Floor Clearance
Hoover/ sweep any floor that you can see
Sort out a toy box or 2

Easy Banana Cake Recipe

mmm made this today with my little ones and it really was soooo easy.....

I've annotated below where I made changes.......


Ingredients

Serves : 10

125g butter
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
190g self raising flour
60ml milk

Directions

Prep: 10min
Cook: 35min
Ready in: 45min

Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Melt butter, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat. I blitzed the bitter in the microwave then added it to the sugar and vanilla in the mixing bowl

Remove from heat and add the mashed bananas, mix well.

Add the egg, mix well.

Stir in the flour

Add the milk.

Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle with a tablespoon of demerara sugar to give a crunch topping if liked.  Be careful how much demerara sugar you sprinkle on tho because mine burnt really quickly.
Personally the muffins I made with some of the mixture that I didn't put the sugar on tasted just as nice.


Bake at 150 C fan oven (or 170 C regular, Gas mark 3) for 35 mins, until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool and enjoy!


Monday, 26 August 2013

Meal Plan - W/C 26/8/13


Monday:
Lunch:  picnic
Tea: Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon.


Tuesday:
Lunch:  salad, new potatoes, ham, cheese
Tea: Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon (leftovers).


Wednesday:
Lunch:  salad, new potatoes, ham, cheese
Tea: fried eggs on toast

Thursday:
Lunch:  tin spaghetti and sausages
Tea: leftover surprise (this is whatever frozen leftovers silver tray I pick out at random to defrost the night before)

Friday:
Lunch:  salad, new potatoes, ham, cheese
Tea: Lasagna

Saturday:
Lunch:  leftover lasagna and salad
Tea: corned beef hash

Sunday
Lunch:  leftover corned beef hash and salad
Tea: Roast Chicken.


well the week started off so well, however we went out on Friday and bought a proper toastie maker (as opposed to the George Foreman), so Ben wanted 'triangle sandwiches' for tea (and mummy fancied them too),  lasagna scrapped (mince frozen) I made ben and me a round of triangle toasties and Noah (who has gone on bread strike) pasta.

Saturday therefore became picnic in town as we went to the open air cinema and left over pasta for tea.

Sunday we went out again so lunch was (bad mummy) a pack of M&M's while out and crisps when we got home.   roast Chicken became chicken pie as I found some pastry lurking at the back of the freezer.

Next weeks shopping bill should be cheap tho as lots to eat up that didn't get used this week YAY.

Fairytale adventure at Tutbury Castle (Stafford)

Encouraged by a sunny bank holiday Monday and a friends Facebook photos from yesterday we followed in their footsteps, packed a picnic and set off for Tutbury Castle.

"This gorgeous 11th century Royal Castle will have actors in glittering costume to greet visitors in the grounds from the pages of your favourite nursery rhyme and bedtime story – no matter how old you are this will be an enchanting event. "  (from their event page)

Set in lovely Stafford countryside Tutbury is a little village just 13 minutes on the train (well a jazzed up shed on wheels) from Derby.  apologies to those who drive, this blogger doesn't so you will find (unless I have been on holiday with a chauffer - lol) my trips are on the Train.

There is a co-op at this 2 platform station for any forgotten picnic essentials. Turn right and you can smell the coffee factory and see the nestle building that produces it, walk a bit more and you come to a tiny 1 appliance fire station.

Further up the road is a park with a castle play area for the little ones and what appeared to be a more adventurous play area for older children.

  

Leaving the park keep right and follow the road to the castle.....whose bright idea was it to build these on hills :)

The castle itself is quite a way up the path and on busy days like this you have to contend with vehicles on some very narrow stretches.

My advice if you are driving is to arrive early, as we queued (an hour and a half after it opened) I heard them announce the car parks were now closed as they were full. by the erratic parking I think many people parked on the surrounding streets, although there is a car park on the other side of the village.

The ticket office was not very badly organised, but could have been better - we queued a long time (even tho pre-booked) to be told eventually by queue walkers just to show the paperwork to someone else for a new ticket. Then queue again to get a stamped hand.   Perhaps 2 queues would be the way forward?

The toilets (3 outside, 3 inside) simply couldn't cope with the volume of people, they need to consider hiring portaloos for events.

The organisation however was fantastic.

The entrance was awash with characters saying hello as we entered, not sure what happened to Micky and minnie mouse as we never saw them again.

The characters we met were friendly and interacted brilliantly with the children and each other. shrek guarding his cave (the south tower) brilliantly monitored (with Puss and Prince Charming) how many people were going up down to keep everyone safe and how prince Charming perfected walking backwards down the stairs while holding small children's hands was a mystery to me - I struggled to remain upright going forwards.

    


The pirate (captain jack or his mate) was fab. We watched him calm children, talk, and have pretend sward fights while we ate or picnic with a stunning view of the village and castle.


Huge thanks to merlin who was desperate for a drink after his show (we saw you come out the bar ;) ) who could see my little ones were queuing for the stocks while older children without parents pushed in and my husband helped them and came over for photos with mine when they had gone.


I thought the donkey rides and archery were hugely overpriced and wouldn't let my children join then, i didn't look at the other activity (fairground rides, face painting) prices so cannot comment on those.




Cost
Entry on an event day like this would set you back £6 an adult, £4 (5-12yr and OAP's) and free for children under 5.
We used a voucher code which got 4 adults in for a reduced price of £9.
There was also a groupon earlier in the year for reduced entry.

Would I go again?
Just to see the castle?......no.  As far as a ruin goes this is pretty degraded and there are better castles to visit.
On an event day?...possibly depending what it was and how it was priced.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Nene Valley Railway

Nene Valley Railway

"The NVR is a standard gauge railway, which runs for seven and a half miles between Yarwell Junction and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire"  (from their website)

The railway basis its main headquarters at Wansford station in Peterborough which on a long journey with 2 small boys makes an ideal spot to stop for a cup of tea and a sandwich.


Directions:

Turn off the A1 at the new Stibbington fly over, which is 1 mile south of the A1 / A47 interchange and 4 miles north of the end of the A1(M). Look for the large brown "Nene Valley Railway" signs on both the A1 and A47.
Note: Avoid Wansford village on the opposite side of the A1.
Parking: Free
Sat Nav: PE8 6LR



View Larger Map

As you pull into the car park you have a well contained small play area to let small legs run around in while you can get simple food, ice lollies or a drink from the cafe.    You could also use the picnic benches for your own picnic.

There are disabled and child friendly toilet facilities on hand which were kept clean and well stocked.

The shop is nicely stocked with Thomas the tank and Peter's engine books as well as a few gifty bits (mugs, keyrings etc) at sensible prices.

One of the un-used engines has an open cab that the children can climb aboard and 'drive'.


You can watch 'Thomas' the little blue engine pull his coaches into the station and also post him a letter in the special blue Thomas postbox.  For an additional cost you can board the train to any of the other stations on the route.

  


The Stations
Yarwell StationYarwell Junction station is the gateway to Northamptonshire and walks to the villages of Nassington and Yarwell.
Ferry MeadowsFerry Meadows station is the gateway to the Nene Country Park. 
Orton Mere StationOrton Mere Station is an ideal point to either join the train or stop off at whilst travelling 
Peterborough (Nene Valley) StationPeterborough Nene Valley Station is the eastern terminus of the Nene Valley Railway.

It hosts many special occasions throughout the year which have surcharges attached to them.

Cost
Free to use the car park, facilities and playground.
Additional costs to go on the platform and train.
Additional costs for special occasions.

Would I go again?
As a stop-off point to break up a long journey? yes.  The cafe was reasonably priced and facilities well kept.

For a special event?  Thomas with his face on looks very scary and I'm not sure the children would react well to him so probably not.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

London: Choccywoccydoodah shop, Hamleys, London Transport Museum

On another rather wet day remind me why I wanted to go to London........ohhh that's right......... Hamleys and the Choccywoccydoodah shop!!!!

Choccywoccydoodah
   

The Choccywoccy shop is like chocolate cake heaven!!  The London store is located right on the corner of Fouberts Place in Carnaby.

Store Opening Hours

Mon - Sat 10 am to 7 pm
Sunday 12pm - 6pm
from the minute you look in the windows at the cakes to seeing them close up to the smell that hits you when you walk in you can see why this team produce cakes for the stars.
the flagship hamleys store is on Regent Street...and it's HUGE.... we are talking 7 floors of toys!!!!


Hamleys Regent Street Opening Times...

DAY
OPEN
CLOSE
Monday
10:00
21:00
Tuesday
10:00
21:00
Wednesday
10:00
21:00
Thursday
10:00
21:00
Friday
10:00
21:00
Saturday
09:30
21:00
Sunday
12:00
18:00
*We will be open 11:00 - 20:00 on Monday 26th August 2013.

My oldest loved the lego statues on the top floor, but I was extremely cross with their pricing (or lack of).  They had the small bagged minifigures for sale (normally retailing at £1.99)... both the gold (series 10) and green (newly released series 11) with 1 price tag on (£3).  I said he could have a couple of the new ones and we went to pay..... to be told the green were in fact £4 each - DOUBLE RRP!!!  I asked why they were priced at £3 and was told that only applied to the gold ones, I did not recieve any apology or offer to double check the prices and left confident they were going to do nothing about it.
  
   



The London Transport Museum lost points with me on entry. The buying tickets process was so slow and not due to the volume of people (although it was busy) but because the staff themselves were slow to carry out their processes.
Once through the doors there is a stamping activity for the children where they had to find the stamps (hole punchers) by following the map around - the green circles on the below floor plan show their locations.  There are also other carded activities you can pick up for older children to complete.
The museum itself is really well organised.  You start off on the top floor in the 1800's and work your way through the ages into the future.  It is very wheelchair/ buggy friendly with lifts to all floors as well as stairs.
Level 2



Mezzanine and Level 1



Level 0 


The exhibits are very hands on, allowing you to climb aboard and take a seat, or look out the top on most of the vehicles.  The ground floor hosts a childrens play area with a wooden rail set and plenty of toy vehicles where they can sit in the driving seat and drive or sail along the streets, rails and water of London.

Opening times

Museum

Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-18:00 (Last admission 17:15)
Friday 11:00-18:00 (Last admission 17:15)

Museum shop

Sunday - Tuesday 10:00 - 18:30
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:00 - 19:00
Friday 11:00 - 19:00

Upper Deck café bar

Sunday - Tuesday 10:00 - 18:30
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:00 - 19:00
Friday 11:00 - 19:00

Cost
Adults £15, Concessions (senior citizens, students (on presentation of a valid student ID card) and those in receipt of state benefit assistance): £11.50 and children under 16 are free.
Your tickets are valid for 12 months so if you live locally it is really good investment.  
London do a brilliant offer in conjunction with National Rail to offer 2 for 1 entry and this venue is no exception.  On presentation of a voucher which can be printed from the link or picked up at the train station makes it fantastic value for money.
Would I return?
If I lived locally then yes it's great value for money for a trip out.




Friday, 23 August 2013

Giraffe Spotting in Colchester and Colchester Zoo


What a fantastic idea!!!  From the other end of a computer I have watched my friends, and famous artists participate in Colchester Zoo's Stand Tall trail.

One 7.5 metre high giraffe!
Twenty nine 2.5 metre giraffes!
Eighty two 1.3 metre school giraffes!

Stand Tall for Giraffes is a huge public art event to celebrate the 50th birthday of Colchester Zoo! Stand Tall is raising funds for conservation through Colchester Zoo's charity Action for the Wild and will raise money for the charity's global conservation fund. (from the website)

The giraffes were all decorated by school children and famous artists then placed around Colchester and surrouding areas to form the Stand Tall trail . What a fantastic way to get children walking.... mine happily went around the town centre 'spotting' the giraffes.

    

    

We didn't have the time to find all 112 but you do...... between the 31st August and 8th September the Giraffes have arranged to meet up at the zoo for their farewell tour before being auctioned off.


What better way to end the trail then with a trip to the zoo itself.......



The zoo has over  260 species to see, within 60 acres.  It is well worth a visit - we were only there for 4 hours on a very busy day and only managed to see half of it, I wished we lived closer as we would certainly buy a season ticket - we'd need one!!!   With over  40 daily displays, an undercover soft play area, 4 adventure play areas, The Lost Madagascar Express road train and much more it is the place to go to keep kids entertained while learning plenty about the world around them!





Thursday, 22 August 2013

Clacton Air Show

Despite the rain Clacton managed to pull off a lovely air show again.

"2013 celebrates 22 years of the annual Clacton Air Show. The event organised by Tendring District Council, is a well established FREE event on theEssex Sunshine Coast.
Our award winning seafronts and greensward are transformed over the two days into a fun filled events site and viewing area.  Impressive aerobatic displays take to the skies whilst a whole host of exhibition, trade stands, food court and on-site entertainment are available at ground level."  (from the event website)

The RAF Red Arrows were splendid - just as I remembered they were as a kid.

  


Fortunately (?) a lot of the war planes couldn't fly at very last minute due to the weather conditions at Duxford, which meant the Air Ambulance got to display after it had been called out on an earlier shout and missed it's slot.

Apologies for not remembering the other performer, you were all excellent and made my boy's day.

The stalls were tightly packed and very busy, and although my boy's and their cousin enjoyed the pokemon adventure stall I may have lost the will to live waiting for them to finish the never ending battles.
  


Cost:
FREE!!!

Would I go again?
definitely.