Geomag Review And Giveaway

I would say the toys that always go the distance and have been pasted down and much loved are anything that involves construction. From Lego to Mechano they have been favourites with both the boys and girls and have all stood the test of time.

The benefits of constructions toys are endless and here are just a few reasons I love them as much as the children:

Enabling Creativity – Construction toys allow children to build and create with no limit to their imagination and what they can create.

Improves Gross And Fine Motor Skills – Moving around and manipulating small pieces all help with building their large and smaller muscles in a fun way.

Building Hand-Eye Coordination – Moving pieces into place, lining things up and connecting pieces are all great ways to work their hand-eye coordination.

Nurturing Problem Solving Skills – Thinking through what they initially want to create and then over coming hurdles that they come across along the way is a great starting block for building problem solving skills that will be essential in later life.

Working Together – Construction play is so versatile in many ways and as well as being great for solo play it is the perfect way to get children to put their heads together and work as a team to create something special.

With all of this in mind I was really happy when Geomag offered me two sets to try out with the children. The Panels and Mechanics set compromises of brightly coloured, transparent panels that can be joined together with with its magnetic steel spheres and rods.

This invisible magnetic force allows mechanical movement and allows any of the structures you build to move and rotate.

Geomag is aimed at children aged 5+ so I know it would be absolutely perfect for Frankie who has just turned six and is passionate about creating all types of buildings and structures at the moment.

Frankie’s eyes lit up when he saw the boxes full to the brim with all the shiny pieces and he was itching to get started.

He started simply by creating lines and triangles to get his confidence with them and then once he realised the potential of both the Geomag and himself then he was away!

It wasn’t long before the rest of the children took and interest and joined in with the fun…much to my delight as it is usually a real struggle to get my eldest son interested in anything that isn’t aimed at online gaming!

Unknowingly as well as all the above benefits I have already mentioned, Geomag hits all the STEM needs which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Who wouldn’t enjoy a toy that allows the children to explore all of these important elements in a fun way.

If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy as much as mine have then below I have the chance for you to win a Geomag Panel set of your own worth £89.99

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Ten

Running behind with this series once again – but hey ‘better late than never’.

It was a pretty big one for me work wise and was a little hard to really concentrate on the smaller things when there were so many exciting things taking place, so this is exactly where I will start.

Working With Kids: By this I don’t mean having to go out of the house everyday and leave the kids, I am in fact lucky enough to take my little ones along with me for a large part of the work I do and this saw Izzy taking to the ice with some of the stars from Disney On Ice and little Oscar get a special screening of the new Peter Rabbit movie.
They always say never work with kids and animals and although it can be pretty stressful at times I am very grateful to be able to do just this.

Loving My City: A lot of my work takes me into London on a weekly basis and normally involves me flitting from one place to the next and not really stopping to take it all in. After the Peter Rabbit screening I had a few hours with Oscar and we took this chance to wander around town taking it all in; from the beautiful architecture to the eclectic groups of people.
London has so much to offer and I really need to slow down and make the most of it when I get the chance.

Oscar Writing His Name: This is a proud moment, mixed in with a little Mum guilt too if I’m honest.
The more children I have obviously the more limited my time is to spend with each of the children and with the older ones having homework to complete I sadly devote a lot of learning time to them a poor little Oscar gets a little left out.
So the other day whist he was writing his Grandad’s birthday card with Izzy, she came in showing me how well he had done with writing his name without any help from her.
I was over the moon that he had done it and a little guilty that there had been little input from me! So its a big thank you again to his fantastic nursery and a big kick up the bum for me to set some time aside to work with him.

Paper Plate Peacock Fan BostikBloggers

The theme for this months Bostik Bloggers challenge was birds and flight and to be honest it left me a little stumped for a while and everything that came into my head involved hand painting and I wasn’t feeling up for the mess that this always creates!

I then thought I could revolve the craft around one on my favourite birds…the majestic peacock and here’s how we got on.

Paper Plate Peacock Fan

What you will need:

Small paper plate
Blue foam sheet
Green crepe paper
Blue tissue paper
Yellow foam sheet
Blue feather
Two googley eyes
Wooden stick
Glue
Scissors
Sellotape

Firstly take the green crepe paper and cut around 14 small circles to cover the edge of the plate. Then take the blue tissue paper and cut a large circle to create the body and finally the blue foam and cut a smaller circle to make the head.

Once the circles are complete then the the yellow foam and cut a small triangle to make the beak and cut the top of the feather to make it a little shorter to be a good fit.

Next take the paper plate and put it onto the table with the back facing upwards and attach the wooden stick with a couple of pieces of sellotape.

Next take the green circles and cover the outer edge of the plate to form the feathers.

Once all the feathers are in place put the tissue paper circle at the bottom of the plate to make the body and then the foam circle above to create the head.

Now that the main part is complete glue the beak into the centre of the head with the eyes just above this and the feather in the centre of the head.

The last thing to do now is to cut small sections of the blue tissue paper and scrunch into little balls and attach them to the centre of the feathers with a little glue.

And there you have it, your very own peacock fan!

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

* we were given this game for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Two

This time of year is never my friend! I get depressed by the weather, long for brighter and longer days and generally spend the whole of January and February wishing away the minutes until the start of spring.

I am however hoping that this new series of ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I started last week is going to bring a bit of joy to the next few gloomy months ahead.

This week I have picked a couple of my favourite moments that have involved things I don’t get time to enjoy as often as I would like.

One On One Time: With five children this is certainly something I don’t get the chance to do as often as I would like so I cherish them everytime I get the chance.
We took a trip to Southbank to an event where Frankie got to meet some of his favourite characters from the Cartoon Network show – We Bare Bears and we both sampled delicious coffee that had been expertly poured and topped with incredible latte art.
Aside from having to take some pics whilst I was there we spent the rest of the morning completely screen free, talking about all those radom things that run through the mind of a six year and and really just enjoying each other.

Healthy Changes On Track: For those of you that are followers of my blog you will know that the past few years have gained an ever expanding waistline with my change in career.
Its something I’ve been battling with for a long time now and this week I feel that I’ve finally broken the cycle and things have got back on track.
There have been no faddy diets, I’ve just cut out the rubbish and reduced my portion sizes, I have got back into all the exercises I love such as spinning and kickboxing and have been feeling and seeing the benefits both physically and mentally.

Getting An Insight Into School Life: When your children set off to school they spend over half their day in the care of somebody else and we have very little insight into what they get up to; and if your children are anything like mine they aren’t to free with letting you know what they do either.
At the beginning of the week I wasn’t to excited about the thought of having a meeting at the school, but was pleasantly surprised when we got the chance to join the children in the classroom to see what they get up to during their working day.
It was so lovely to see Frankie interacting with his peers, thumbing through textbooks and asking questions on things he was coming across and seeing how much he has come on during his short time at school.

Camp Bestival-The Best Christmas Present EVER

When it comes to Christmas presents I always have a bit of a dilemma with myself. The children compile lists of plastic toys that I know will be discarded before Boxing Day, and every part of me wants to fulfil their wishes…however the sensible side of me thinks all that money would be better spent on experiences that will last a lifetime rather than faddy toys that will last for minutes.

If we look back over our year then one of the experiences that sticks in all our minds the most is certainly Camp Bestival – the family festival that has to be seen to be believed.

This year sees fantastic musical acts taking to the stage such as Rick Astley, Clean Bandit an Simple Minds. Regulars to the festival are Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom will be returning to amuse the children…well and the adults too!

One of the shows that my little ones are most excited to see though is Dinosaur World Live that looks absolutely outstanding.

This really is the kind of gift that I would love to find nestled under the tree on Christmas Day and if it sounds like something your family would love to receive to then there is a great promotion running until 11th December.

If you book your tickets before this time you will receive a whole host of fantastic stocking fillers such as nautical tattoos to go with this years ‘Sets Sail’ theme, character stickers, a hand illustrated Christmas card and a limited edition sew on patch.

If you would like to spread the cost then you can still sign up to the 30 week payment plan and still receive all your goodies!

Take a little look at just a few of the reasons we love Camp Bestival so much:

Scree Free, Quality Time: This for me has to come top of my list as it is something that is so lacking when we are at home. Its a chance to put away those phones, leave the iPads alone and just enjoy spending time together talking, laughing, playing and having fun.
My lot spend a huge time arguing and fighting when we are at home, and don’t get me wrong it is never an argument free trip but we are certainly more drawn together as a family and that bond gets a little tighter.

Good Food: As a family we are often drawn to places with our bellies and I can assure you if you are a foodie like me then Camp Bestival won’t fail to stimulate your taste buds.
From ice cream covered waffles to juicy burgers, scucculent corn on the cob to crispy chips every palate will be catered for and every belly filled.
Th little ones can also get more hands on and prepare their own food which was a big hit for mine last year.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors: The whole trip involves being outside which can seem a little daunting but there is actually nothing better.
From enjoying the hustle and bustle of the main festival to simply chilling out round the tent or hiding away in our favourite place – The Dingly Dell there is a whole host of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Late Nights: As a Mum of five bedtimes are pretty strict in this house for the sake of everyones sanity to be honest. Camp Bestival allows us to kick these rules aside and just let them all stay up until they drop. They love being up until way after dark, huddled up in their trailer listening to music and watching Mum and Dad’s silly dancing.
The last night has to be the favourite though with is spectacular firework display that is simply not to be missed.

Learning New Skills And Using Their Imaginations: Camp Bestival isn’t just about the music and acts on stage, it holds so much more and really allows the children how to build skills by trying things they may not have come across before such a circus skills, woodwork and cooking and bundles of activities that allow them to use their imagination and just LET KIDS BE KIDS!

I hope this has given you a little snippet of just some of the fun Camp Bestival can bring and has you wanting to experience it for yourselves next year!

Festive Fun At The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is always top of the list of the places my youngest two want to visit. The museum gives the children the chance to explore the history of the London transport system in a fun and hands-on way and is the only museum I have ever visited that I have to literally drag them out of kicking and screaming!

This weekend we had a very early start to experience their festive fun event before it opened to the public.

We walked into the museum and were hit with the sound of Christmas tunes that lead us to the beautiful Santa’s grotto tucked behind a huge London bus.

Snow covered branches were delicately drapped with pretty fairy lights and the little snow covered path lead you into the scandinavian inspired grotto full of sheepskin throws, cosy cushions and plenty of toys play with.

Inside the grotto we enjoyed a story time session with one of Santa’s super friendly elves whilst outside there was a crafting session taking place where we tried our hand at making some origami tree decorations they weren’t as easy as they looked!

After doing a little exploring of the museum and learning some interesting facts about bus tickets from the very knowledgeable staff we had worked up a bit of an appetite and made our way to have a scrumptious hot chocolate and some absolutey delicious waffles they I was extremely impressed with.

It was time to get our craft on again, this time by creating a candle light holder that Frankie really went to town with the decor on!

The highlight of the morning though was just about to happen when Santa made his way into the museum to greet the children.

He had a good chat with each and every child and asked my terrors if they thought they were on the ‘good list’. I admired the confidence in their answers but a few sideways looks were thrown my way in fear of me interrupting!

After all the christmassy excitement we spent a good while enjoying the museum and as usual had a pretty hard time getting the boys to leave, especially as we passed through the gift shop that was hugely tempting…even for me.

From beautiful train sets to london buses in many different guises to pretty snow globes and the most amazing tree decorations there is something for everyone and is a far cry from your usual museum gift shop.

The whole morning was the perfect mix of festive cheer, good food and automotive fun. I loved that it wasn’t your usual structured visit to Santa and instead he was wandering around and the children were free to go and say hi whenenver they were ready.

If you are still looking for somewhere for a Santa visit this year then this comes highly recommended from us.

*We were asked along to this event for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Opening My Eyes To Organic Living With Arla Foods

How long does it take you to get your weekly shop?

If you are anything like me my list varies very little from week to week and it’s just a grab and go, to get in and out as quickly as possible with items such as bread, eggs and milk being staples that I probably haven’t changed in years.

I’m sure that many of you are with me on this, and it wasn’t until I visited Cockhaise Farm in Sussex last week, really shifted my thoughts on the way I shop and opened my eyes up to organic, free range products.

Arriving to this beautiful farm and sitting sipping coffee on the patio could have transported you into a scene from the ‘Darling Buds Of May’ which always seemed like such an idyllic way to bring up a family although in reality I know that a farmers life is a tough one and I was here to learn exactly what goes into our everyday milk that most of us doesn’t give a second thought when buying.

Dan talked us thorough how he came to become an organic dairy farmer and his passion for his product and his herd was clear to see from the very first moment.
Dan’s dairy farm is very much a family business and the love for their animals really made it feel as if they were part of the family too.

This farm follows the ruling of organic farming by making the welfare of the animals and the environment a top priority, not using any artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients and fewer pesticides.

Instead the cows are allowed to graze freely as much as possible in fields full of chemical free, clover rich fields.

We got the chance to see how happy they were by going to visit the fields that honed the most adorable calves…I’m not sure what they made of a group of bloggers armed with cameras and phones galore!

From the young and happy calves we made our way to see a field full of pregnant cows and got to experience first-hand the first few fumbling steps of a calf that has literally just been born.

I was chatting to Dan’s father at the time who is also a retired organic dairy farmer who said that the birth of a calf is always special no matter how many time you experience it.

From here we made our way into the milking sheds that weren’t operational at the time but it was still amazing to see.

We had now been shown the milking process from the very beginning and it was now time to see how the beautiful product could be used and we were treated to a cookery demonstration from Ben a local chef who’s passion for organic products was just as great as Dan’s.

The demonstration was all set up in a barn with a fabulous hay barrel backdrop where Matt worked his magic on showing us how to create a Sussex smokey scotch egg that had an alternative filling of mashed potato and smoked haddock rather than the usual sausage meat, and a delectable vanilla creme brûlée that I could have sampled more than one of!

If you like the sound of these delicious recipes I have left them below for you to try yourself at home.

From the vibrancy of the colours of the egg yolks to the rich creaminess of the milk it is without a doubt there are not only benefits to the way organic food is produced but it also comes through in the product itself tenfold.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

• 200ml Double Cream
• 100ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 50g sugar
• 1 vanilla pod

  1. Preheat the water bath to 80C or if using the oven 140C/120 Fan.
  2. Warm the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a small saucepan to 60C.
  3. In a large bowl wish together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the warm cream and milk into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into individual shallow jars and screw on the lids very tightly.
  6. Place the jars in the water bath to cook for 60 mins then remove from the water with tongs and cool on ice.
  7. Alternatively place in oven for 20-22 mins until just set.
  8. Once set sprinkle the surface with sugar and brûlée with a blowtorch.Allow the sugar to set for 5 mins before serving.

Sussex Smokey Scotch Eggs

• 4 medium organic eggs
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep frying
• Salt and pepper for seasoning
• 1 pint Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 250g natural smoked haddock
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g potatoes for mashing
• 1 bunch of finely chopped dill
• 119g High Weald smoked cheddar chopped or grated
• 1 banana shallot
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 leek
• 1 stick of celery
• 1/2 carrot
• 3oz butter
• 3oz plain flour
• 330g flour
• 1 organic medium egg
• 200ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 300g or packet of breadcrumbs

1.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

2.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

3.Remove haddock and save both for later

4. Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

5.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

6.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

7.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

8. Remove haddock and save both later.

9.Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

10.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

11.Peel the boiled eggs and dust in seasoned flour.

12.When the casing mixture is cool delete the into 4 portions and wrap around wash egg enclosing it completely. Chill for at least one hour to ensure it keeps its shape.

13.In the meantime prepare your station to breadcrumb the eggs.

14.You will need three shallow trays, one for the seasoned flour, one for the beaten egg and one for the breadcrumbs.

15.Firstly take the encased eggs one. Y one and put into the seasoned flour, making sure it is well coated.

16.Shake off any access flour and pass the food into the beaten egg, again making sure it is well coated.

17.Shake off any access and finally pass the food into the breadcrumbs again making sure it’s well coated.

18.Tap the food firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs are well attached and remove the crumbs into a clean plate or tray.

19.Now deep fry the completed eggs at 160C until golden brown.

*collaborated post

My Mini Pop Artists At Warhol Croydon

Research from the International Child Art Foundation has found that a child that is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property – key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twentieth century.

This is why exposing my litttle ones to as much art and culture as possible is of great importance to us as a family.

By this I don’t mean sitting in front of text books flicking through endless pages of text, but actually getting out and exploring which for me is a far more interesting way of gaining knowledge.

This weekend we took a trip into Croydon to explore the Warhol Croydon exhibition that has been bought to the streets of Croydon by the award winning RISE Gallery.

The street exhibition has been inspired by the life and works of Andy Warhol who was a leading artist in the 1960’s pop art movement.

A group of extremely talented artists have come together to create twelve instillations taken from the inspiration of his work and placed across the whole town centre.

There are plenty of free guided walks that you can book online to take part in or go it alone like we did.

The tour took us from the bustling high street full of shoppers to super quiet derelict buildings, from high rise offices to beautiful gardens and the quirky streets of Surrey Street Market.

We stopped and took time to take in each piece and the children really loved telling me their thoughts…some not so complementary and some hilarious.

It’s wonderful to see what others see when looking at the same piece of art and there is nothing thing better than seeing things through a child’s eyes.

The tour took us some time as I didn’t follow the route as marked out which from experience I would suggest doing.

With the tour complete we headed off to the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centre to take part in the Andy Warhol themed session that allowed Oscar and Frankie to become Mini pop artists for the afternoon.

We are familiar with Whitgift Weeenies Kids Club sessions that are put on throughout the year and are completely free to take part in.

The sessions can be anything from animal handling to art sessions and are suitable for children aged 3-10.

This session saw the children trying their hand at printing by carving out a picture into a foam board, covering it  with as much and as many different colours as they like and then creating their own Pop Art style masterpiece.

The friendly staff were at hand to help out where needed yet allowing the children free reign to really bring out their creative side.
Cleaned up and art in hand we finished off our jam packed day at RISEgallery they at the moment is homing some pieces of original artwork by Andy Warhol himself.

It certainly wasn’t a stuffy gallery that didn’t want enquisitive children around, we were infact all warmly welcomed, shown around the gallery and even had a chat about the art work that the boys had created.

The exhibition is on until the end of the month and there is still time to book in for this Sunday’s Wennies Kids Club session, so get yourself booked in as it’s something not to be missed!
*collaborated post

Fit To Dance With Disney On Ice And Ashley Banjo

Last week I got to have a few hours on my own with Oscar to visit Danceworks in West London to take part in a ‘Fit To Dance’ workshop with some lovely performers from Disney On Ice and the dishy Ashley Banjo!

Oscar skipped his way along Oxford Street telling me how excited he was about going to sing and dance until he was confronted with a room full of strangers and his thoughts of being star of the show soon dwindled.

Luckily enough the super friendly skaters made all the children feel at ease and after warming up and a little to much participation from me he soon soon got into the swing of things and was happy to join in independently.

‘Fit To Dance’ is a way to encourage children to dance through the use of story telling which in turn helps them to use their imagination and improve their fitness levels in a fun way.

They got together in a group to chose the story they would like to recreate through dance and each picked a character at be throughout the performance.

With characters named and a story plot in place the children were running, jumping, twirling and whirling around the hall to their hearts content.

After a few practice runs they donned their fancy dress and showed the audience their work.

Oscar was extremely happy with himself and still had a pretty big treat to come.

Fed and watered the children all gathered by the door to await the arrival of two very special guests…Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Their eyes literally lit up and such excitement filled the room.

They all got the chance to meet the cuddly pair and it was certainly a very special treat.

We couldn’t let the afternoon pass without getting a snap of Ashley Banjo too which certainly made my girls very jealous when we arrived home.

The ‘Fit To Dance’ program is available online and is certainly worth taking a look at and trying out at home for yourself.

With Disney On Ice’s Passport To Adventure currently on tour this would really be the perfect way to get yourself ready in the the run up to the show.