Have a #ToyellaChristmas

Christmas is fast approaching and ‘My Mills Baby‘ and Toyella are running a superb bloggers competition to win £150 worth of toy vouchers this Christmas, all you have to do is show your child doing creative play. But hurry if you want to enter as it closes on the 25th October.


All my children have loved creative play, dressing up, cutting and sticking, colouring, cooking. My youngest Eleanor just loves the Autumn time, this is her at the end of school the other day playing in the leaves. I’m always on the lookout for things for the children to do that don’t cost a great deal, and my children always seem at their happiest with a pile of paper and some pens. Often I look on Pinterest for inspiration, I checked out Autumn crafts and saw this brilliant idea pinned on the left. The children loved the idea so after school we collected some leaves from the playground. We chose a few nice ones which we brought home, I already had googly eyes so then it was over to the girls imagination for the rest.


The girls spent an hour of so doing it together and ended up with a bird, pumpkin, bee and spider. The girls loved doing it and it is a virtually free activity, which makes it even more fun!



































ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

‘This is Anna’s entry to the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition’





My favourite Christmas Experience

They say it’s the simple things in life that give the most pleasure. I have to say my favourite thing at Christmas is seeing the children open their presents, it might be clichéd but it’s just the look on their faces when they receive something they really want. Or alternatively something they really ‘DON’T’ want – a favourite memory was a couple of years ago when a friend had given my youngest daughter Eleanor her gift. Now our children are pretty good at not opening things early, but we do have a ‘family tradition’ of opening one present on Christmas Eve.

This is supposed to get them in the mood and provide something for them to play with on the day before Christmas. Normally I supervise this event and make sure they open something that will provide some playtime, but this year I was too distracted doing something else and I forgot to direct the children to the right presents. So Eleanor ended up opening the gift my friend had bought her which was in fact clothing. Now I am not sure if you can remember receiving clothing as a child, but it isn’t fun, and her look said it all. I adore this photo, her face says it all and amazingly I was armed with the camera to capture the full horror on her face. When my friend saw it she did laugh as she too can remember receiving clothing and not being impressed either!

eleanorFor most year my plans work and they open something that gives them some happiness, and in fact the clothing was lovely – just not quite what she was expecting to open!

Another one of our traditions is that we always do thank you cards in front of the tree every year to send out to our friends, these get great fun to look back on, here are the last few years worth! Eldest is Matthew who is soon to be 14, then Charlotte who is 11, William is 9 and Eleanor will soon be 7!

2010 2011 2012 2013 thankyou thanks copy

















































This is my entry to win a day trip to Lapland in the Transun bloggers competition, which closes on 21/10/14. To enter the competition, write a blog post about your favourite Christmas traditions or memories and tweet with #TransunXMAS – simple!






The best bits of Autumn with Sykes Cottages

Sykes cottages are running a bloggers competition to find the best bits we all love about Autumn, for me it is a great time for photography, from the colours of the leaves to the photo opportunites for the children to play in them. The sun is low in the sky and when it is shining it creates a beautiful golden glow that is unmistakebly Autumn. But our best bit has to be November the 5th as we as a family love firework night, the children always get so excited about it, we often have to visit several displays and have parked up and watched random ones before. My photo is from Lyme Regis firework event, again the children were very excited about the whole thing. My in-laws live there so it is nice they can see their excitement too. We always get the children sparklers and in fact last night I let the children do some early as we had friends round for the evening, We leave the fireworks to the professionals though!


We all love the Autumn time

A time for fireworks, Halloween and having fun

Throwing leaves and conker trees

Chilly hands and in an Autumn breeze

Misty mornings and walks to school

Damp school shoes from the Fall

Puddles and falling leaves are the clues

As well as sparklers, bonfires, clock changes and orange hues

We so all love the Autumn time


by Charlotte (age 11) and mum!


This is our blog post for Sykes cottages competition, why not enter too, the details are here.

Style a shed from Tiger Sheds and made.com

Shoffice style

When I saw that Tiger Sheds and made.com were offering bloggers the chance to win some made.com shopping vouchers I thought it was the ideal opportunity to decide what I would like to do with one of our sheds. Currently its just a toy store, mostly of things the children have grown out of. We have suggested converting it before but the loft took priority, this has now been made into a teenagers den, with gaming consoles etc. So when asked what I would like to do with the shed, my answer would be to convert it to a shoffice – my friend has one and I have alwayls been envious of her being able to separate her work from home life. My office is currently part of the living room, it makes it look really messy especially when I am busy, so this would enable me to close the door on work and separate the two! If you need a great quality shed then take a look at the Tiger Sheds website, they do great garden sheds and log cabins, storage and metal Sheds as well as summerhouses, wooden playhouses,  and Garages and much more. They offer reasonable prices plus FREE UK Delivery. Why don’t you enter too, but hurry it closes on the 2nd November.

Follow anna’s board Style a Shed on Pinterest.

I have chosen clean lines (as I don’t have the option of that in the house – having 4 children) and I just love the feature wall wallpaper, its funky and different. I love the idea of the photos which span the whole wall too, as I am a photographer so I have no lack of photos to hang. I hanker after minimalist but know that realistically its not really possible, so storage would be a great solution to keep it tidy and organised. I would love to win as it would mean my idea of a shoffice could come one step closer to reality.

I’d love to have my office in my shed;

A chance to organise and to get myself ahead

As I get so very busy near Christmas;

No time for unfinished business

All I need is a nice tiger shed;

Which would make me want to plough ahead

Superb interiors and photos on the wall

I could pop my feet up and take a conference call

So tiger sheds please make my dreams come true…

With an office separate from my living space

No sight of work not even a trace!

Easy peasy gooey Rolo chocolate fudge brownies

When I saw @AOatHome were running a food bloggers competition I felt I had to get the girls in the kitchen baking. All you have to do is come up with a great looking recipe and then tweet your link with the hashtag #aoshowstopper. Charlotte is 11 and Eleanor is 6, both of them love chocolate and brownies are a simple and great looking treat for any guest. We decided to add Rolos to them to give them a nice gooeyness to the centre. I always dislike complicated methods or recipes that have really obscure ingredients that you need Google to help you understand, with us simplicity is key. Now you have a couple of options when making brownies; if like me you are always in a rush and are trying to do 100 things at once you have the option to cheat slightly. I always have a packet of brownie mix in the cupboard as a standby mixture for when guests turn up or the children want to do some ad-hoc cooking. Or if you prefer you can make them from scratch, whichever you choose, it is a straightforward recipe and one that you are bound to have the ingredients for. We added Rolos to our mix, but if you have Smarties or m&m’s you could try them instead!

photoIngredients – The non-lazy version!

  • 1 packet of Rolos
  • 125g butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g brown sugar
  • A small amount of fudge (optional)


Weight the butter out and melt so it is easier to mix, break and melt the chocolate too. If you microwave them be sure not to overheat and burn the chocolate as it is easy to do. Tip the plain flour and cocoa powder into a bowl trying to make sure there are no lumpy bits. Add the eggs and the brown sugar and whisk until creamy, add the butter and chocolate from the first bowl. Pour the mixture into a brownie tin and bake for 10 minutes at 180ºC, then carefully take out and add the Rolos and finely cut fudge (optional) to the mixture while it is part baked. Now bake for a further 5 minutes which will make the Rolos melt slightly.

There we go easy chocolate brownies that look and taste just perfect!



This is my entry to the @AOatHome food bloggers competition’

An awesome new Bubblegum flavour from Angel Delight #AngelDelightMoments

When I noticed that BritMums were running a competiton #AngelDelightMoments to try out a new flavour of Angel Delight I just had to take part. I always remember my mum making lovely set puddings with Angel Delight when I was a child, it was a lovely treat and one I always looked forward to having. In those days (the 1970’s) the flavours were a bit more limited, I remember always getting the strawberry flavour and occasionally the chocolate one. But now things have changed and Angel delight has come up with the funky new Bubblegum flavour. As soon as I saw the competition I headed for the nearest supermarket, only to find they didn’t stock the new flavour. Luckily in the post the next day came my sample pack as I was one of the lucky 100 to receive a couple of free sachets of the new bubblegum flavour, a superb dessert bowl and straw.

IMG_7308aI asked my daughter Charlotte (age 11) what she wanted to do with the sachet. She suggested making cookies, I was a bit surprised as I have never tried baking with Angel Delight before but thought I would take on the challenge.

I used a standard recipe for cookies and added the Angel Delight and a tiny amount of pink food colouring.


  • 190g plain flour
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 50g butter (soft)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 sachet of Angel Delight


My daughter mixed all the ingredients together making sure the butter was super soft, we added milk to get the mixture to the right consistency for cookies and then laid them onto a greased baking sheet and baked at 180°C for 15 minutes. We baked them and cooled them – then we tasted them. WOW! Yummy Scrummy!



“This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments Linky Challenge”


Making a meal out of Kikkoman Soy Sauce

I never lay claim to being a good cook, but I am experimental with new ingredients, so when I saw that Kikkoman were running a bloggers competition to find a superb recipe using their soy sauce the challenge was set. If you want to take the challenge too, please check out their blog.

It is no secret – I love chicken, and chicken cooks very nicely in the slow cooker, so I decided that my creation would be a slow cooked chicken dish. I also love the flavour of sweet and sour sauces. Now I realise that oriental cooking wasn’t required for this challenge, but I thought I could get an extra tangy flavour by cooking the chicken slowly in crushed garlic, the Kikkoman Soy Sauce, honey and a small amount of tomato sauce.


IMG_2931Ingredients (I never weigh ingredients so quantities could vary depending upon your preferences)

  • 4 chicken breasts, or legs/thighs depending upon preference
  • 1 cup of Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup of runny honey
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • a teaspoon of basil



Slow cooking is such an easy art and it is ideal for a busy family as it is such a low effort cooking method. Certainly using a slow cooker to cook chicken is a great idea as the meat cooks slowly which allows it to retain its flavour.

My method for this dish was incredibly straightforward. First you add the chicken to the bottom of the dish, combine the other ingredients and pour over. Slow cook on low power for 6 hours. I just combined it with ‘boil in the bag rice’, but equally you could use spaghetti. Simple – you have a lovely warming meal which has the amazing flavour of Kikkoman’s finest soy sauce, My 4 children and husband loved it and gave it the thumbs up!

We will be having this creation again!


The Real Effect – stunning jewellery at affordable prices

We all love a bit of glitz, and The Real Effect are certainly able to provide that. For over 20 years they have provided stunning hand crafted jewellery using tried and tested methods. The craftsmanship is just stunning making their silver creations sit alongside CZ gems, crystal and glass but with the look that is much more pricey than the price tag. I have looked at their website in awe of the creations which for me rival real diamonds that you dare not wear for fear of loosing them.


My first item I have chosen is the cat pendant, I love this and I know my daughter would also be trying to borrow this as it is super cute, kitsch and just a little different. I like the modern styling to the cat and the glitziness to its body.


laaaOne of my other favourites is this flower ring, I love red and the colour looks beautiful combined with the CZ stones around the edge. I could definitely see this on my finger!

So I will dedicate this rhyme to The Real Effect



‘Oh how I love the gems at The Real Effect;


For allowing me to wear sparkles that I select.


From cubic zirconias to gemstones a-many;


There’s no need to pay top dollar for any.


There’s heaps of great choice on the website for you;


So click here and browse and make sure you look too.


So, make it a sparkly Christmas this year;


And add to your list to bring you good cheer.’

This is Slummy Mummy’s (anna) entry into The Real Effect bloggers competition.

Getting some LA style

I just love clothes and when I saw that Lavish Alice were running a bloggers competition to win £100 worth of style I felt I had to enter. All you have to do is choose 3 items from their range (which is very easy) and enter here – so here is my choice, which is just perfect for the Christmas office party or going out and seeing friends.

The Black Scuba Grid midi dress looks like a great cut and would be very flattering and the Black suede effect shoes are a steal at just £10, I especially love them as they have the ankle strap. The Jewel Fan earrings are stunning as they add just a hint of sparkle to the outfit.


This is my entry to The Lavish Alice bloggers competition – More information and t&c’s can be found here.

Long lost family and #Flying100 Family Holiday Challenge

BritMums have just opened up a fabulous competition to win £1000 worth of Thomas Cook vouchers towards your next break so I felt I just had to enter. My most treasured holiday memory and future dream destination was easy to pick, it has to be Australia as back in 2010 we all travelled there after me deciding to trace my dad. I made the decison to find him on New years day, he left my mum and me when I was only 2 months old, so he was an unknown to me; just a name. I had thought most of my life that I wasn’t very interested in tracing him, as to be honest I was a little scared of what I might find. But after completing my own family, my curiosity had got the better of me and I decided to attempt to find him.

The only information I knew was that he was brought up in Cambridge and had a younger brother, I also knew his name. I thought the younger brother may still be local but had an inkling that my dad may well have emigrated because when I was little my mum tried to trace him and had no success. I began with birth records and managed to find records for my dad and his brother, I then traced my uncle to an address in Cambridge. I turned up on the doorstep unannounced, it was very emotional. Below is me and my ‘new’ uncle, Charlie. Its fast approaching my five year anniversary of booking my tickets to fly over and meet my dad, siblings and step mum for the first time in Western Australia.

Me and uncle

My uncle confirmed that my dad had gone to Australia to live and now had 6 other children ranging in age from 14 to 24 (I was 38 at the time). He showed me photos and welcomed me into the family, I couldn’t believe my luck, I had always wanted siblings (I’m an only child) and now I have 6. I went home mega excited with the news, I was overjoyed to discover the possibility of finding all of them. The other piece of information that my uncle had given me was that my eldest sister worked for a radio station in Western Australia. If there was ever a person to be on Facebook then its a 24 year old who works in the media.

I tentatively typed in her name (which is unusual) into Facebook and up came her along with all my siblings and step-mum as her friends. Now for the difficult part, what do i say? I decided to assume she had no knowledge of me so I wrote…’I think you are my half-sister’. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep so I crept downstairs in the middle of the night to check to see if there was a reply. In my inbox the message read ‘we have always known about you but not known enough to contact you’… ‘I have called dad and told him and he is overjoyed you have made contact with us after all these years’. WOW, they all knew about me. Then when morning came I had friend’s requests from my step mum Sue. She said she welcomed me and my family as her own and that we should definitely plan a visit. This was the start of February, and by the 14th Feb I had booked flights for all of us to go over.

The journey was a long one but well worth the wait, my dad travelled to meet us and it was amazing. I was treated as one of the family. I am so lucky to have found my siblings and my dad after 38 years of not knowing, and secretly wishing I did. Me and my family (6 of us) travelled 21 hours to see them on the other side of the world, it was incredible, we had not travelled further than Europe with the children before but they were fantastic. We viewed it as an adventure and it definately was, below are some of the many precious images from our travels.

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Not only did we meet family but the children lived alongside my family for almost a month. My photographs of our time with them are often looked at in amazement that we actually did go all that way. Three years later we talk often online and my dad texts me regularly and is now on social media too, mainly to keep in touch with me!

IMG_0095a (Large)

These are definately photos I thought I would never see. Above – my children and their new grandad… and Below – our family and my sister’s family when we met at Disneyland Paris in September.

IMG_0093a (Large)

So, how would I spend the money if I won? Easy, I would love to go again and if I won this money I could afford to go to my brothers wedding in December and also spend some time with my dad as its his 70th birthday soon and it would be the best surprise ever to see everyone again. Obviously it would cost more than £1000 but it would certainly help us out in making the decision to travel there!

This post is an entry for the #Flying100 Family Holiday Challenge, celebrating how flying allows us to make memories and ‘be there’, in association with #Flying100. Find out more at http://bit.ly/flying100