Casual Cooking cook book

I’m always looking for different ideas to introduce Monkey to new foods and keeping our family healthy.  We recently received the Casual Cooking cook book – Go On, It’s Healthy and I decided to look at an alternative snack and pudding idea.

Casual Cooking cook book

The Casual Cooking cook book, Go On, It’s Healthy contains a host of recipes for every meal of the day, as well as snacks, and I hope to introduce all of us to some new ingredients in the moths to come.  I’m pretty sure none of us have ever tried quinoa before.

But I thought I’d start with an ingredient I know we all like – apples.  But apples with a twist. Monkey always comes home from school absolutely starving and I’m in need of some new snack ideas – Apple and Cinnamon Crisps seemed like a great choice.

The recipe is really easy to follow and you only need lightly salted water, apples (Braeburn or Gala) and a pinch of cinnamon.  Slice the apples finely and remove the pips, dip into the salted water (to avoid discolouration), pat dry and put on a wire cooling rack.  Bake in the oven at 110 deg C for between 1.5-2 hours, then sprinkle with cinnamon and voila!

A simple and easy snack to make and the Apple and Cinnamon Crisps went down well with everyone.  Very tasty.

Next up I decided to try the Raspberry and Watermelon Sorbet.  I love sorbet but it’s not something I’ve ever tried to make at home, and Monkey has never eaten it either.  We all love raspberries, but watermelon isn’t something I would normally have at home.  I never know how to make it more ‘interesting’.  Time to change that.

Again the recipe was really easy to follow, it does take 8 hours before you have the sorbet ready to serve, but it’s worth the effort and again, it got a big thumbs up here.

Priced at £9.99 I think Casual Cooking – Go On, It’s Healthy is a great addition to my bookshelf.

disclaimer:  I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.


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The Alphabet Photography Project Q is for Quick #alphabetphoto

Week 17 of PODcast‘s linky The Alphabet Photography Project and this week we are up to Q.  Last year I picked Quiet, not something I get much of these days!  I was looking through more old photographs with a mind to pick a Quality piece of Spanish stonework, when I saw this photo.  The quality isn’t the best, it was taken on an old compact camera 6 years ago.  The Alphabet Photography Project Q is for Quick, and trust me, I had to be quick to get this Red Squirrel on film at all!

The Alphabet Photography Project Q is for Quick

This was taken on one of my numerous visits to The Alhambra of Granada, in Spain.  It’s one of my favourite places to visit, I could visit a hundred times and still never tire of the architecture.  It’s a wonderful place to explore, absorb and just admire.

I was walking through the gardens of Generalife when I spotted this Red Squirrel, the first time I have ever seen one.  I was speechless, I’ve grown up seeing Grey Squirrels all the time, but a Red Squirrel, that was something special.  What a beautiful little creature he is, and quick, very quick!  In a shot he was off.


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Dino Time DVD – review

You may have noticed that I’ve got a giveaway live at the moment to win a Dino Time DVD.  Well Monkey and I have been catching up with the action ourselves and any dinosaur fan is going to love it.  The film is released in cinemas on 22nd May and the Dino Time DVD comes out on 1st June.

Dino Time

We follow Ernie, his kid sister Julia and his best friend Max as they end up in the land of the dinosaurs.  Max’s Dad is a bit of an inventor and he has a time machine in his garage, it’s never worked until the children mess around and oops, they end up landing in the nest of a T-Rex called Tyra.  Luckily for them, she thinks they are her children.  As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve actually swapped places with her real egg, which is now sitting in the garage.

The Dino Time DVD lasts for 86 minutes and is rated PG.

Ernie, Julia and Max get into all sorts of adventures as they try to find the key to the time machine so they can return home.  Back in the present day Max’s Dad tries to make a new time machine with the help of Ernie’s Mum so they can rescue them.  But they have their own problem as Tyra’s real baby hatches.

Tyra appears to be a lovable T-Rex, she looks after the orphan dinosaurs and rules over the Upper Valley.  The baddies of the film are the Sarco Brothers, who rule the Lower Valley and want to  depose Tyra and take over.  Needless to say there are some scarier moments as the children try to help Tyra in her battles and Monkey wasn’t too keen on this part.

But there’s a good message in the story, the children have the opportunity to get away, and back to their real-time, but decide to stay and help Tyra in a moment of need.

I won’t ruin the end for you, but this is a great film and I’m sure we’ll be watching it on repeat for a while yet!

disclaimer:  we were sent this DVD in exchange for an honest review

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Summer crafts with Baker Ross

Every so often we get a surprise crafting delivery to keep Monkey occupied and we’ve been having some fun with summer crafts from Baker Ross over the last few weeks.

Summer crafts with Baker Ross

Monkey spotted the Turtle Water Squirters straight away.  He’s been fascinated with turtles since we saw some in an aquarium.  Now, these are clearly meant for the bath or paddling pool, but Monkey has decided that at the moment his turtles prefer dry land!

Summer crafts with Baker Ross and the Turtles priced at £2.25 for a pack of six, were an instant hit.  I think we’ll be having lots of fun with them in the months ahead.

Next up from our summer crafts with Baker Ross delivery – a classic game that I can remember from my own childhood.  We received a set of Star Hero Colour-In Biff Bats.

Summer crafts with Baker Ross

Monkey decided that he would start the colouring in process on a couple of the Super Heroes but then it was down to Mummy to finish them.  The Biff Bats come in packs of 4 for £2.50 and would be a great for an activity in the summer.  Kids can colour in their bats and then have a competition to see who can bounce their ball the longest.  Great for hand eye coordination.

The Mermaid Cushion Sewing Kits come in a pack of 2 for £4.70, they come complete with instructions, and even self adhesive felt pieces so no glue is needed.  The needles are large, plastic with blunt ends, so easy for younger children to manipulate.  Monkey delegated the sewing part of this activity to me, although I think he could easily have managed it himself. We then stuffed our mermaid with the wadding provided and Monkey decorated her.  A simple activity, that looks really good when finished.

Monkey decided to combine the Animal Glasses Card Blanks (£2.75 for a pack of 12) and Gnome Foam sticker set (120 for £ 2.99) to create his own take on glasses.  The foam stickers from Baker Ross always go down well here and I’m sure these latest one will be appearing in lots of his pictures and paintings over the summer months.

Monkey has quite a collection of money boxes so I thought he would want to decorate the Boat Ceramic Coin Banks (set of 4 for £4.96) as presents for friends – but no!  They apparently have to be added to his collection!  We used the porcelain pens (pack of 5 for £8.99) provided plus some glitter ones from our Christmas crafts to decorate the boats. Once the masterpieces were complete I followed the instructions on the pens to ‘bake’ the boats in the oven.  I think I might be tempted to use this sort of activity for a birthday party in the future.

We had lots of fun thanks to our summer crafts with Baker Ross and as always I can thoroughly recommend the company for crafting activity sets to keep the kids amused.

disclaimer:  we were sent the sets mentioned in exchange for an honest review

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The B&W Photography Project Week 43 #bwphotoproject

The B&W Photography Project Week 43 with PODCast and this week I’m going back in time, to a walk around Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire.  This shot was taken in August 2009, a month before Daddy P and I got married.

The B&W Photography Project Week 43

We’d enjoyed walking through the rooms inside the castle and then decided to go for a walk around the lake.  Considering it was August it wasn’t the warmest of days, but it was fairly quiet and we enjoyed a peaceful afternoon strolling through the grounds.

Somewhere we must revisit with Monkey at some point.

Of course Daddy P was rather more interested on something that was happening next to Eastnor Castle.  It appears to be home to a Land Rover Experience Centre right next door. I remember him drooling over the various models in the car park and comparing them to his.  It’s only when you look back at photos that you realise how many years have passed and Santa still hasn’t bought him a ticket for one of these courses – oops!

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Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 030515

Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 030515

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Project 365 2015 Week 18

Joining in with TheBoyAndMe and her linky Project 365. A Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year! Project 365 2015 Week 18 Days 116-122.

Sunday 26th April – Day 116

Project 365 2015 Week 18

As I’d been at BlogCamp yesterday, I wanted a lazy day at home with Monkey today.  He’s been saving his pennies for a Backhoe loader he’d seen in our local toy shop.  He went to work with Daddy P yesterday and did some job, earning the last of what he needed.  So off we all went into town, one (more) construction toy purchased, and then we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Costa, before heading to the garden centre.  We bought compost for our seedlings and I persuaded Daddy P that I really needed a couple more clematis for the garden!

Monday 27th April – Day 117

Project 365 2015 Week 18

We’re off to Spain after half term to see Granny Gramps and Monkey has finally taken an interest in learning the language!  So over breakfast he challenged me to write some things down for him to practice.

I went off to sewing, finished the wash bag I’d made for Monkey and started sewing together my new top.  Thankfully my teacher was on hand to pin-up the alterations needed to make it fit me.  The pattern size was huge.

Tuesday 28th April – Day 118

Project 365 2015 Week 18

The ongoing internet connection saga continued.  I won’t bore you all with the finer details but this problem has been going on for soooooo long, not being able to video call my parents, and loss of connection for minutes, hours, days.  Today was the final straw, tears were shed and finally we have a new router coming.  Really, it could be the router? No! Surely not, the thing we suggested was the issue months ago.  Sighs and picks up a glass of wine.

On a happier note, I received an email offering me sponsorship for Britmums from a brand I love.  Can’t wait to share news on that with you all soon.

Monkey had his class photo taken at school, thankfully his war wounds had cleared in time.

Wednesday 29th April – Day 119

Project 365 2015 Week 18

So our new router arrived and surprise, surprise, for the first time in 2 years I can actually video chat with my parents without any issues and we’ve had an internet connection all afternoon!!  Woop Woop! My Jado Chi session went well and Monkey came home from school in a good mood.

He wanted to do a jigsaw puzzle so we got his Bigjigs Farm puzzle out and he started reliving memories from our holiday at Coombe Mill.

Thursday 30th April – Day 120

Project 365 2015 Week 18

I joined Monkey on his school trip to Wendover Woods, the weather was kind to us and the children had a wonderful time.  I think they’d have all spent the whole day den building given half a chance and Monkey was in heaven – sticks a plenty!  We were both shattered by the time we got home.

Friday 1st May – Day 121Project 365 2015 Week 18

My little music maker decided to serenade me as I got dressed this morning.  Not quite as tuneful as his Uncle, but I live in home that the musical genes are hiding there somewhere! I spent the day trying out some new recipes for Apple Crisps and Raspberry Sorbet and being generally domesticated – that won’t last.  Monkey came out of school raring to go – Mummy it’s the weekend!

Saturday 2nd May – Day 122

Project 365 2015 Week 18

Monkey and I drove up to Derbyshire to spend the day with my best friend.  My car is out of action until next week so I had to borrow Daddy P’s ‘tank’ AKA Land Rover – I’m not keen on it, but we got there in one piece.  After lunch we went for a walk in the country, Monkey adores his Auntie A, and I love watching them together.  My friend, who has never wanted children, has a special bond with Monkey.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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Travelling with kids

Have you heard that there’s a royal baby due?  Well in fact he or she is overdue, but that’s babies for you, unpredictable even before they’ve left the womb. Of course once they’ve arrived the fun really begins and the highs and lows of travelling with kids soon dawns on you.

Travelling with kids

From those first tentatives trips out in the car – travelling with kids – have I strapped the car seat in ok?  Thankfully a relative lent us their Isofix base – godsend.  What will I do if he wakes up and I’m stuck in traffic?  Have I got the baby car seat mirror set up properly?

Seems so long ago now that Monkey ever sat in a baby seat.  Of course, when you fly abroad you might have the stress of hiring a car seat – will it be ok, will it be comfy, can I figure out how the straps actually work?

Travelling with kids

Then before you know it, they are growing up and wanting to know exactly how many minutes it will be before they arrive at the airport, beach, theme park, etc, etc, etc!  I no longer need to think about a plentiful supply of nappies and baby milk.  Now I’m in the realms of full on in-car entertainment!

Webuyanycar are looking at the best car seats, and family cars this year and alongside that they’ve asked me for my tips on travelling with kids.

Travelling with kids

I’m often driving along with my 5 year old Monkey, so I have to plan ahead, that’s a given.

He always has snacks and a drink to hand.

I long ago gave up any rights to listening to my CD’s in the car, he has a whole host of kids CD’s and will make his selection before we start the journey.  He much prefers going on long journeys in Daddy P’s car, as he has a multi disc player, my poor old car, doesn’t have the same high-tech choices unfortunately.

Monkey still loves to travel with his favourite teddy, no long journey is possible with Teddy or Mr Tickles accompanying us.  Yes, they do travel overseas too!

Games are becoming a new feature on our trips out in the car.  Harder for an only child in the back of a car, but the old classics don’t need anything other than imagination – eye spy is always a winner.  We also count bridges, tractors (this is my son after all) and animal spotting kept Monkey and his school chums entertained on a school trip yesterday.

I’m not one for handing over gadgets easily, but I know others swear by iPads, DS and the like to keep their kids amused in the car.  I’m sure I’m living on borrowed time, but we will remain a car journey gadget free family for a while longer.

In car DVD players can be another excellent idea for keeping children entertained.  Not something I’ve tried as yet, but know my brother always recommended them when he was out and about with his three children.

What would you suggest to make travelling with kids easier?

disclaimer:  this is a collaborative post

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Heroes of the City YouTube channel – review and giveaway

You may remember that the team at Heroes of the City were my BritMums 2014 sponsor. Monkey loves watching the series both on our series one DVD and via the Heroes of the City YouTube channel, where he can keep up to date with all the action from Paulie, Fiona and their friends.

Heroes of the City YouTube channel

The Heroes of the City YouTube Heroes of the City YouTube channel is full of fun to keep children aged from 2-6 years entertained.  Monkey used to watch the episodes on the laptop but he’s much happier now he can take ownership of the iPad mini.

Featuring 6 hours of episodes, you get to meet Paulie Police car, his best friend Fiona the Fire Engine and much to Monkey’s delight there is also a Tractor called Troy.  There is a great message across all the films about friendship and working together to find solutions to problems.  Children also learn about patience – Calamity Crow is always causing chaos!

There are also crafting videos and activities to be found on the Heroes of the City YouTube channel, for added entertainment.

As I’ve already said, Monkey loves Heroes of the City and has done from the first time we came across them.  I’m really pleased today that I can offer one lucky reader a prize bundle of Heroes of the City Goodies – like those shown below.

Heroes of the City YouTube channel

The prize bundle will consist of: one t-shirt (choose from size/age: XS/2-4, S/4-6, M/6-8,  L/10-12 or  XL 14-16 years), a DVD from episodes from series 2 and a die-cast model of one of the Heroes of the City characters (may vary from one shown).

For your chance to win this Heroes of the City prize bundle, please complete the gleam form below.  Good luck!

Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The prize bundle will consist of: one t-shirt (choose from size/age: XS/2-4, S/4-6, M/6-8,  L/10-12 or  XL 14-16 years), a DVD from episodes from series 2 and a die-cast model of one of the Heroes of the City characters (may vary from one shown).

The giveaway will close on 10th June 2015 at midnight.

Heroes of the City prize bundle

disclaimer:  we were sent a goodie bag in exchange for an honest opinion.

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Stretch and Match Geoboard – a review for Bundle Bear Toys

Stretch and Match Geoboard

We’re always on the look out for new things to try and share with you all and when a local Toy Shop offered us the opportunity to work with them, we jumped at the chance.  Bundle Bear Toys has been a local online retailer for some time now, and recently opened a toy shop in Brackley, Northants.  The first item I’m going to share with you is the Stretch and Match Geoboard from Melissa & Doug.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

The Stretch and Match Geoboard is aimed at children aged 5 years and over, so perfect for Monkey.  It works on colour recognition, hand eye coordination and manual dexterity as well as sizes and shapes.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

The set comprises a play board which doubles up as storage, 8 double-sided picture cards (including a blank dry wipe card for your own creations) and 32 elasticated bands in two sizes and various colours.

The various cards have a star grading system to give some guidance on difficulty.  You decide on the picture you want to make and slot it into the wooden frame facing the side with the plastic peg framework.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

Each picture card has guidelines to follow which are colour coded and the pattern changes depending on the size of band required.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

I was a little dubious about whether this would hold Monkey’s attention until I got it out of the box and really looked at it.  It’s a great game for keeping kids concentrating as they really need to think about where to place the bands on the different pegs to match the picture card properly.

Can you spot the deliberate mistakes on both wings?

Stretch and Match Geoboard

Clearly the Stretch and Match Geoboard was beyond the capabilities of this mother!  Time to hand it over to the professional member of the team.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

He soon grasped the idea of the game, and we had a great game of spot the mistakes as he wove the bands around the correct pegs.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

The set certainly kept him engaged.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

There are a number of different themed cards but the transport ones have been the biggest hits here.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

Monkey did mange to snap one of the elasticated band the first time he stretched it, but luckily you seem to get more bands than you need on any one picture, so it hasn’t ruined the fun.

Of course, Monkey loves doing his own thing too, and that’s fine.  He was soon away adding all sorts of bands to his picture, making strange shapes.  He was happy and it added another dimension to the set.

Stretch and Match Geoboard

Stretch and Match Geoboard is a bit different from anything else we have.  I’m not sure it’s the sort of activity that will grab him for a few years, but just now, he’s enjoying it.

You can see what else Bundle Bear Toys stock on their Bundle Bear, and watch this space for a bit of Magic coming soon in our next review.

disclaimer: we were sent this set in exchange for an honest review




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