Premier League Writing Stars Competition

Earlier in the year a few of you may remember that I was lucky enough to attend the Premier League Primary Stars One Year On event which introduced me to the fabulous community project that has been set up to help develop literary skills amongst primary aged children.

After hearing the children recite the winning entries I was absolutely astounded at the time, thought and love that had gone into these entries and the look of pride that beamed from the children’s faces was a clear indicator of what an amazing initiative this is.

Last year the project reached out to over 25000 schools and brought a fun and different way to engage the children in learning, opening up a different world to so many of them who ordinarily may not have had an interest in the written word before.

This year they are back with another poetry competition that has the theme of diversity. This is a great way to get the children thinking about and celebrating everyones differences as well as similarities and why these are so important.

This subject is close to my heart as since starting school the differences and segregation that comes with Frankie’s food allergies have been hightened and I think that getting his feelings written down about this could be really cathartic for him; and reading through other entries may open his eyes to all the differences in the world and how each and everyone of these makes that person special, individual and just as important and anyone else.

They have inslisted the help of poet Joseph Coelho who has written a poem entitled ‘Beautifly Different, Wonderfully The Same’ which I’m sure you will agree is just perfect to get the childrens imaginations and creativity flowing.

Again this year they have a star studded panel comprising of former Premier Leaugefootballer – Rio Ferdinand, author – Lauren Child,  singer/songwriter – Olly Murs and Joseph Coelho himself who will have the tough job of picking winners based on a whole range of different criteria. The lucky winner will get their poem published in a limited edition book whilst there are other great prizes such a Premier League trophy school visits and author-ledwriting workshops up for grabs.

I’m sure that after reading this many of you will see just how much this project could enrich your children’s own school and if they are not already signed up to Premier League Primary Stars then all they need to do is sign up HERE.

The competition is running until 21st December 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing.

*collaborated post

Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive With Thorntons Cheeky Elf

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Thorntons Cheeky Elf academy last week for a lesson in how to keep the magic of christmas alive with the help of their new Cheeky Elf.

I didn’t know what to expect before I arrived at the Elf Academy and I was more than presently surprised when I arrived at the super christmassy venue that had been covered in candy canes and pretty decorations and was filled with super friendly elves that I joined once I had doned my elf hat and christmas jumper!

I know all to well that the magic of christmas is something special, something that should be treasured and sadly something that can be short lived once the realisation that Father Christmas is a fictional character comes to fruition.

I’m not saying that christmas isn’t just as magical without the believing – I’m 38 and still get more excited about it then the children, but that pure unadulterated innocence is something special and something I always try to keep alive for as long as I can.

We are now a camp of three non-believers and two belivers with one of those already asking a few questions, so I’m on a mission to keep the magic there for as long as possible and the Elf Academy was a perfect way to pick up some great tips from Santa’s elves themselves.

We were taught 10 tricks in total, some of which I already implement at home and a few new ones I will certainly be trying this year.

It was a really hands on workshop and we moved from station to station trying out all the tricks. We learned how to age a letter from Santa and create curvy script to look authentic, we created Santa’s footprints with the help of a stencil and fake snow, we make pretty sigh bells to jingle once the children are all in bed and with the help of some coconut shells we make the noise of the reindeers hooves which I though was a brilliant idea.

We also perfected our Santa voices using the area deep in our bellies to get a low and realistic voice…I’m not to sure how convincing mine was!

For me aside from the magic of this time of year, being able to use it to measure their behaviour perfect and we were given the tip of creating our own ‘naughty and nice’ lists the we can tick for good or bad behaviour. This one is definitely something I will be using.

If you need a hand with keeping an eye on the little ones behaviour then this is where Thornton’s Cheeky Elf can lend a hand. He can be place all over the home to keep an eye on what the children are up to and report back to Santa with the news…good or bad! And once Christmas Day is over the chocolate treat can be enjoyed by all.

I’m not really a fan of the ‘elf on the shelf’ craze so this is going to be the perfect alternate for us that tastes a lot better and requires a lot let work.

I would love to know what traditions you have as a family to keep that magic alive and if you need some help then take a look at all the Elf Academy Tips right ‘HERE’.

*collaborated post

Bringing A Colour Splash To A Bare Wall With Desenio

A few of you will know that we have recently moved and I have been really excited to be able to start a fresh and put my own stamp on it. We are lucky enough to have really high ceilings which make for a wonderfully light and airy space but on the downside it has left us with huge expanses of bare walls to fill.

The lounge for us is the hub of the home and the place we spend the most time so it was important to get this room ready first. Our sofas are a neutral cream colour as are the walls so i needed to add some colour as neutral really isn’t me.

I have been lucky enough to work with Desenio who offer a huge range of posters and prints that offer something to incorporate all tastes.

The fact that they have thousands of pieces to offer was a little overwhelming to begin with, especially as I had no idea what I was really after. But with the help of their themed sections and amazing gallery wall that allows you to choose exactly how you would like to see the pieces on the wall it wasn’t long before I had made my selection.

I went for a few motivational quotes which I hope will encourage the children to think positively by seeing them everyday, a little bit of abstract art and of course a big splash of colour with a small palm print and one of my favourite ladies – Freida Kahlo.

The prints all arrived promptly and were beautifully packaged and took no time to put into the frame and get onto the wall. The fact that you can select the frames at the same time as the prints was a massive pull for me as it saves dragging from the shops trying to get frames to fit.

If you are looking to create a gallery wall of fill a small space with something beautiful then Desenio is the place to look.

If you have been as taken with Desenio then please feel free to use the code “THEJOYOFFIVE” at the checkout which gives you 25% off posters between 27th and 29th November. This excludes frames and handpicked/collaberation posters.

Celebrating The Small Things Week Forty Five

I can’t believe there are only going to be a few more entries into this series of ‘celebrating the small things’ for this year.

It’s certainly something I’ve struggled to keep up with due to my unorganised nature but I know it’s something I’m going to love sitting and look back over for a long time to come.

This week it sees me talking about online friends, allergy free ice cream and Nativity Rocks.

Online Friends – When I first started blogging I found the whole concept of chatting to people I had never met before a little strange. Over the years this has completely changed and I have found some firm friends through the power of the internet.

I was so grateful for these relationships and especially so the other night when I attended the ASDA Christmas party.

I walked into a room of strangers and unusually felt a little intimidated by the situation until I saw a familiar face who was Shell from Shell And The Littlies who was warm and inviting and those little online encounters we had had before lead to a fantastic night!

Allergy Free Ice Cream – Frankie’s allergies have been part of his life for the past six years and to be honest he it pretty good at taking it all in his stride, but as a mother it kicks me in the stomach every time the others are free to chose delicious treats that he just isn’t allowed.

So when we took a trip to Yorica the other day my heart literally melted when he looked up at me and exclaimed “what, I can have anything!”. It may seem a small thing to many but for me this was a fantastic moment.

Nativity Rocks – I love Christmas more than the kids and Christmas movies are a huge part of gearing up to the big day for me.

So being able to go along to the preview of the new Nativity film – Nativity Rocks the other day I was absolutely over the moon! I will be talking you all about it tomorrow.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Four

It’s a bit of a eclectic mixture here today for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ and I hope it’s not just me who gets stupidly excited for the last one!

Lazy Days – Since moving we haven’t really had the chance to kick back and enjoy it. What with work and everything they come with having a large family we spend a huge amount of time out of the house, so it was lovely to be able to kick back, laze on the sofa and eat way to much!

Chessington World Of Adventures – As I’m sure many of you will know, I have been an ambassador for Chessington World Of Adventures for the past few years now. It’s a role I am extremely grateful for and being so close to it allows us to visit for full days or just take a couple of hours out and enjoy all the fun. We had a pretty relaxed day there on our last visit and I think these ones are always the best.

Christmas Sandwiches – Come the middle of November I am like a mad woman over Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwiches.

I love Christmas more than the children and to have an entire Christmas dinner all rolled up into one sandwich is my idea of heaven…please tell me I’m not alone!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty One

Well I nearly made it to a year without messing up in this series, but I got so far behind over the summer that it seems a little strange to be talking about swimming in the sea when we are approaching winter so I’ve skipped a few weeks and hope to stay on track until the end of the year.

So here we go with this weeks entry:

Apple Crumble – For me the start of autumn signifies comfort food – especially thongs such as casseroles and crumbles.

This Sunday was grey, wet and miserable but it was certainly brightened up by our first crumble of the year.

Charity Shops – I’ve not put a lot in here but last week we moved house and life has been a little chaotic to say the least. The shear logistics of moving a big family are pretty hard but now we are getting settled my attentions have been on furnishing the house.

I have a huge love of mid century furniture and I have been scouring eBay and traipsing round charity shops and have been loving every minute of it. It’s just a shame my passion is not shared with my husband!

Mrs Hinch – Those of you that are fans of Instagram will not have been able to escape all things Mrs Hinch.

Mrs Hinch has gone viral through sharing stories of cleaning her home. At first I told myself I wasn’t going to get sucked into this ridiculous cult like following she has but it’s happened and I’m loving it!

I’ve always been terrible at keeping on top of the house work and this lady has turned things around for me so what’s not to love about Mrs Hinch and her Army.

Date Nights At David Lloyd

Date nights when you become parents can be few and far between. The guilt of taking time out for yourselves coupled with the need to find childcare and the logistics of simply leaving the house can be all to much sometimes and I know that this combination leads to my partner and I having very little time to ourselves.

When you finally find the time to take a few hours out to yourselves it then plays on your mind that this time could be spent doing other actives such as following that healthy living regime that is equally as hard to fit into your busy lives.

I know that my husband and I both thrive on having busy and full lives but it can at time be a real juggling act in which things need to be sacrificed.

One way that we have been making life a little easier though is to incorporate a training session at David Lloyd Health Clubs into our ‘date nights’.

As well as killing two birds with one stone training together holds a whole host of benefits:

Quality Time Together – Simply leaving behind the stresses of work and family is a huge benefit in itself and getting lost in your workout and releasing some of those feel good endorphins is a great way to spend a few hours.

Healthy Competition – I would say that the competitive edge in both of us is pretty high and we both thrive on this. Training alongside each other and wanting to be the best can only be healthy…not to say that this doesn’t lead to one or two arguments on occasion!

Better Between The Sheets – I was talking earlier about those endorphins that are released during exercise, the natural byproduct that is created when we train. Keeping fit will make you feel better about yourselves, boost confidence and make you happier which in turn will all help once you get back home!

David Lloyd not only offer a place to work up a sweat and train together, there is also the opportunity to wind down with a swim and a dip in the hot tub followed by a relaxing steam or sauna session.

After all this you can take some time out in the DLicious cafe and have a healthy bite to eat or treat yourself to a tipple or two! I have to say that on more than one occasion I have treated myself to a refreshing gin and tonic after a hard session!

If time has been really tight and we want to grab a hour to ourselves after the school run the fantastic range of childcare at David Lloyd also allows us a have a sneaky childfree breakfast whilst we are safe in the knowledge that Oscar is having a whale of a time in their creche.

If this post has got you thinking about taking some time out with your partner and getting fit too then take a look ‘here’ at everything David Lloyd health clubs have to offer.

*collaborated post

5 Things You Should Stop Wasting Your Money On

With it being summer holidays and the purse strings being pulled to the limit I have a great guest post to show you a few ways to save some pennies.

Everyone hates the idea of simply throwing money away, yet more of us do this every day than we realise. It’s easy to assume that you’re sticking to your budget and being as frugal as possible, until you start looking at your spending habits in depth and figuring out where all your cash actually goes each month.

Most people think that the only way to positively transform their spending habits, is to avoid spending money on the things that they enjoy, like evenings out with their friends or fun trips with the family. However, we think the best thing you can do is stop wasting your money on these things first:

1. Gym Memberships

Unless you’re a professional athlete, or you’re training for a local event or marathon, there’s a good chance that you don’t really need a gym membership. The truth is that you can get all the exercise you need to be fit and healthy without paying a huge fee every month. All you need to do is invest in some weights and create a fitness regime you can follow at home.

Even walking to work instead of driving can help to make you fitter and ensure that you save money at the same time. Not only are gym memberships unnecessary, but most of us fail to use them properly too. We invest in memberships with good intentions, then simply leave them in our bags, never to be used. Don’t spend money on a gym membership that does nothing for you.

2. Utilities

There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to give up on paying for utilities altogether – unless you plan on going to live in a tent and cooking your food over an open flame. However, that doesn’t mean that you should continue paying for deals that aren’t giving you the best value for your money.

Countless people over-spend on their utilities simply because they fail to check online for better offers from other vendors. You’d be surprised how much you can save simply by investing a little bit of time into comparing your options online. Check every few months to find out whether you’re still getting the best deal for your needs.

3. Phone Lines

Let’s face it, how often do you actually use your phone line? Many homeowners today are paying anywhere between £10 and £20 a month for a home phone line that they never use, as part of a deal for broadband, phone calls and television channels. Cutting your phone out of your deal could be a great way to cut costs – particularly if you make all your calls via your smartphone anyway.

While you’re getting rid of your phone line, it’s worth thinking about whether you can save cash by abandoning your television channels too. You can find plenty to watch through cheaper streaming services like Amazon and Netflix these days.

4. Food

Like your utilities, your food is something that you can’t simply do without. However, most of us spend more than we need to on food, simply because we assume that we need more than we do. Before you go out shopping, make a list of everything you need for the meals in the week ahead. Remember to check your freezer and pantry for things that you have that you can use going forward. This will help you to avoid leaving items in your deep-freeze for months at a time.

When you’re out at the supermarket, stick to your list – no matter how tempted you might be to buy something on offer. If it helps, try eating before you go shopping so you’re less likely to stray away from the list. Remember to stay away from big-name brands too. Most of the own-brand products include exactly the same ingredients for a much lower price.

5. Excess Interest

Just like you can potentially get a better deal on your utilities by comparing your options online, you can also get a better deal on your credit card and loan balances by making sure that you search for the best offers online.

If you think that you’re over-spending on your interest payments, look at reconsolidating your loan to reduce the cost of your monthly repayments. For bigger loans like mortgages, there’s also the option to re-mortgage with a different lender if you think you can get a better deal. Just make sure that you take the fees of changing your loan into account when assessing your options.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Four

‘celebrating the small things’ is still something I’m absolutely loving writing and I’ve had so many lovely comments on these posts that it means taking the time to write them is even more special. It has also got me thinking that I would love to hear about some of your little moments that have touched you, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Flowers On The School Run – The school run is more often than not a bit of a fraught experience with trying to get the teen out of the depths of his pit, fulfilling the hundreds of different breakfast requests I get and finding shoes and glasses that go missing each and every day!

There is however a brighter side on a couple of days a week when its only Frankie that needs taking to school and we get a chance to have a little chat(often with the strangest of subjects) and without doubt he will always pick me a flower that he clings onto in his sweaty little hand, but I would take this wilted little flower over a big bouquet any day.

Supermarket Clothes – Its not that often these days that I take the time to actually head out and go to the High Street for clothes. With the ease of internet shopping I tend to lazily go for this option which isn’t really as exciting as getting out and about and trying things on.

Supermarket clothing is also something I rarely purchase but much to my excitement the other day I found some real corkers in my local Tesco store.

My swishy pink and red skirt has had so many compliments and I will certainly be checking out the clothing rails alongside my milk and bread from now on.

My Little Sister Getting Hitched – My little sister getting married is actually a really big thing and I head off to Bath with her and a group of friends to celebrate the occasion.

It was lovely to be part of this celebration with her but it was also lovely to spend some time alone with her, without my little ones trying to join in our conversations and demand our attention. It really was a carefree weekend that allowed me to relax and let my hair down and have some quality time with my little sis!

Elderflower Fields:Our Best One Yet

If you are a follower of my blog it will come of no surprise that we are all huge festival fans. The freedom, the adventure and chance to all be together is such a huge appeal to us that it keeps us wanting each and every year.

Elderflower Fields was the festival that opened our ours eyes to the fun and has had us coming back year after year and this year was the best by far.

Sleeping under canvas at the end of May can be a bit risky but a few weeks ago the weather was most definitely on our side and for the first time ever we managed to get our tent pitched in the sun with very few arguments.

One of the biggest pulls of Elderflower Fields is its laid back vibe that hits you from the minute you arrive. We took some time out round out tent to meet our neighbours for the weekend and grab a bite to eat.

It wasn’t long before the kids got itchy feet and wanted to head down to the main festival. We were pleasantly surprised when we got there as the layout had been changed around slightly and there was a lot more open space for the kids to go crazy in.

The familiar main stage was there and crowds had already started to build up taking in the atmosphere and listening to the fantastic music.

We headed off to see what activities they had put on to keep the little ones busy and saw some familiar favourites along with some new additions.

Mine always love trying their hand at the circus skills workshop, pitting their withs on the climbing wall, putting their woodwork skills to the test with the woodland tribe and using their brains in the science tent.

After a pretty full day we headed back to the tent for a quick rest before heading down to the evening festivities. Pretty hungry by now we decided it was time to fill our bellies and Elderflower Fields never disappoints when it comes to food choices.

Every taste is catered for from sumptuous fish and chips to rich ice creams, spicy vegan curries to sticky sweet crepes and so much more.

Allergies can sometimes be a bit of an issue for us at events like this but Frankies multiple allergies are always catered for without a problem.

Throughouly warn out we made our way back to bed excited for what the next day was going to hold.

Sunday is actually my favourite day of the festival as we are well settled in, have got our bearings and things are more relaxed for us.We started the day with more activities. Disc golf was certainly one we enjoyed along with slacklining and the giant zipwire.

All the activities are included in the price of your festival tickets which makes it great value for money but be mindful that many of them are prebookable before arrival or need to be booked once there as they get full up extremely quickly and due to my lack of organisation we often miss out on the popular activities. Take a look ‘here’ at some of the other great things that are on offer.

Sunday is also the day that the Sussex Family Picnic is held. This is something I’ve not heard of any other festival doing and it is certainly something that makes Elderflower Fields stand out from the rest.

The aim is to get people together and share good, local sorced food making it the biggest collective picnic I’ve ever seen.

Again the price of this is covered in the price of your tickets and all you need to do is grab your picnic blankets, get yourself into groups of twelve and have lots of fun!

We always head off into the woods after this and check out the fantastic art displays that have been put on by local schools, play in the mud kitchen, a little bit of pond dipping and made some cool clay sculptures in the Outdoor School.

There is no way we could visit and not have our face paints done by the wonderful ladies at Nam Nams Facepaints, I’ve honestly not found better face painting skills anywhere!

The last bit off fun was yet to come with the Sunday evening entertainment which is always buzzing. The stage was alive and the main field fun of dancing and laughter, marshmallows were being toasted by the bonfire and the big hay fight was taking place which mine wait all weekend for.
however this year is was slightly tainted by Frankie – the little allergy boy having a reaction to the hay and being carted of the the St Johns Ambulance who were absolutely fantastic with him.

Our last night under canvas left me reflecting on yet another fabulous weekend at Elderflower Fields. New skills have been learnt, new friendships have been forged, our family has comes that little bit closer together and everlasting memories have been made. Thank you Elderflower Fields for OUR BEST ONE YET!