Loving the laundry – Ecover a review

I have piles…and I mean laundry piles before I get an interesting comments? There are six of us in the house and the laundry fairy strangely doesn’t work when I’m not about. I swear my children think that there is such a thing as they just use the clean stuff and chuck it in a pile when it is dirty. Anyway, I love things that make life easy, 30 minute washes are my saving grace when most of the stuff is just worn a couple of times and isn’t really dirty. Another saving grace is a good washing powder or detergent, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a free sample of the Ecover with the most recent Britmums challenge but I thought I would join in and see what all the fuss is about, so I popped to the shop and bought some.

I do my laundry daily, generally I split the washes into whites, coloureds and dark’s. I quite enjoy doing laundry. In the summer my clothes air dry and in the winter I have some airers upstairs. I do have a dryer which I reserve for desperate measures, solely because of the cost of using it. I need a detergent that will work first time and not take colour out of my coloureds but equally get my whites white. I love that Ecover is not harsh on the children’s skin and it has a nice smell to it as well, it also goes a long way. This was my first experience of using Ecover, I have always stuck to the big brand names but we enjoyed using it and would definitely recommend it. I was surprised it worked as well as it did, I guess I am used to environmentally friendly products being more of a compromise but this wasn’t. Here is my daughter showing everyone how simple it is to get the job done. Take the challenge too and see what you think of Ecover!

“This post is an entry for BritMums #EcoverLaundry Challenge, sponsored by Ecover..” 

Messy Meatball Madness

Finding interesting new recipes is always hard work. We have recently started meal planning in an attempt to lower our monthly spend on food and its a challenge in itself. So when I heard that Britmums were challenging us bloggers to create a delicious recipe with beef, pork or lamb I felt I had to have a go.

If you also want to take part there is still quite a while left to apply and whats more the first 100 bloggers to sign up to take part in the #HealthyRedMeat and you’ll receive a £10 Tesco voucher to buy red meat. Plus you’ll be eligible for prizes when you write about it on your blog. The #HealthyRedMeat, challenge is sponsored by the Meat Advisory Panel, meat is often overlooked in children’s diets, but can be versatile providing a range of nutrients such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and potassium. In fact including a small portion of red meat in a child’s diet once a week can fill nutrition gaps and maintain good health.

 

Anyway, the recipe got a massive thumbs up from the children, what’s more they asked for seconds! So I think we will be making this again. Thanks Britmums for the suggestion to try something new too.

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #HealthyRedMeat, sponsored by the Meat Advisory Panel.”

 

 

 

I just love a bit of Vintage

I adore vintage and especially English vintage. In my opinion there is nothing more elegant than the fashions and styles from the 1930’s and 40’s, as you all know I love the era and often go to events all done up with victory rolls and retro fashions.

Here is a recent photo from one of the events I went to, the dress is reproduction. I don’t own many authentic pieces from the era but when I find one I treasure it. I’m always on the look out for sellers that sell quality  items from this period and I think I have found a really nice seller with great ratings on Etsy called ELFeelgoodsVintage they are based in Belfast, Northern Ireland but ship to the UK.

One of my favourite items on her list of items is a lovely brooch, I wear brooches quite often, they are great to jazz up an otherwise quite plain outfit. This would also work on holding together a gaping outfit or could be added to a hair flower as a little sparkle. The quality is often better on vintage items as they weren’t mass produced as things are now and have so far stood the test of time!

I also love her crockery, you can’t beat a cup of tea in a proper china cup and no house is complete without a good set of cups and saucers. I love the set she has here. They look really pretty and would also make great table decor for any wedding or party. I just love Etsy and seem to spend a fortune on there. But be sure to take a look at the lovely vintage things she is selling.

 

 

Painting with light

Oh I love a good old meet up with ‘likeminded’ folks, last night I went a superb meet of some local photographers all keen to try out some painting with light, we waved fairly lights, my new v.24 lightwand, wire wool in a whisk (very effective) and a flame torch. I thought I would share some of my results.IMG_830a6 (Large)

This photo was taken using wire wool pushed into a whisk. Its very good at giving off lots of sparks, to get an image like this you will need:-

1. Steel wood – from any hardware shop, make sure you get grade 0000, 000, 00 or 0 as the grades above are not as good at giving off sparks.
2. A whisk – yes, seriously! You can usually pick these up for  a £1 from the cheap shop, it will get broken so don’t use an expensive one!
3. A metal chain – I used a toilet chain, you just need to be able to link the end of the whisk to it.
4. A tripod – As you will be doing long exposures, and a self timer.5. A lighter or a 9V battery – to light the wool with.
5. A powerful torch – to lightpaint the building
6. Safety goggles and clothes you are not really worried about!
7. Patience!

This was taken with two exposures – the first lit the building and the second for the wire wool. The were put together in Photoshop using layers, and this is the result.

Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
Aperture: f.8
ISO: 100
Focus: Manual Focus Get someone to stand with a torch so you can prefocus your camera, then remember to turn off the autofocus!
Tripod

Choose a point to pivot on and then spin the chain around in a circle, this will give you a 3D orb shape, the sparks do go everywhere so make sure your eyes are protected and always remember to check there are no sparks on the area you have been working at that could ignite after you have left. Its also wise to find a quiet place to do it, it does attract attention and sometimes even the police!

I have uploaded a nice image of light painting to a new site called Million Eyez, this is free to use and enables your blog posts to be livened up by superb images from all over the world. Feel free to use mine on there. It’s a great site, be sure to check it out.

 

 

 

All children get sick, unfortunately so do us adults sometimes! This half term always seems one that is a bit blighted in this household, with the cold winter weather and central heating kicking in, the children always seem to end up with some lurgy. Well, this holiday didn’t disappoint! I managed to have two children off at the end of term, both were wrapped up on the sofa. In our house you seem to get lots of cuddles from the animals, I think they see a warm cosy spot and just want to snuggle up; other people would say they can probably detect a fever and go and give their own hugs to the children.

I asked the children what their favourite thing to do and they came in this order…

  • watch movies
  • play with the cat
  • have a nice warm drink
  • sleep
  • relax
  • do some crafts

My children usually curl up on the sofa and watch film, that combined with a nice hot chocolate does the trick. Although mine are a bit older my daughter still enjoyed the book  in the sample pack and the Vicks First Defence nasal spray was helpful too in making her less blocked up. We got the Christmas presents out and looked through what we had still left to do, I got Mr W doing some soldering on his Christmas tree bug and Miss E was attempting to knit. It took their minds off how they were feeling – after that we watched Paper Planes together. Thanks #VicksTricks for giving us some ideas, although my magic tricks are not up to the ones on your YouTube!

If you’d also like some ideas for when your children feel ill a great link from Vicks is here.

 

 

My Geek box unboxing

My son had no idea what to ask for for Christmas, he wants a trampoline but at the moment they don’t have the right size in stock. We had read some reviews on subscription boxes and he is a real fan of general geekiness so I said I would do a 6-month subscription as part of his present. We weren’t too sure which one to go for as there are quite a few out there, initially he was keen on Loot Crate but then we realised it is an American product and we really wanted something UK based as I always seem to get charged extra duty, regardless of the price of the item! Anyway, we haven’t been disappointed – we got the first box just before Christmas; with the second one arriving yesterday. He was super excited to see it when he got home from school, but I was cruel and made him wait until I could film him opening it for a review on here.

 

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Well, the result? He loved it, he has recently taken up free running so the t-shirt definitely hit the spot, the Captain America book looks ace, and co-incidentally we were watching the movie tonight so he will enjoy looking at that tomorrow, and he is over the moon with the other bits that also came in the box. It has been a total hit, in his words ‘I can’t wait for next month’s box’.

Confessions of a summer parent

Every parents knows the sound of the ‘I’m bored mum’ moan from a child who has simply run out of things to do a couple of days into the summer holiday. I had to have a chuckle when I saw the BritMums competition for parenting tips over the summer. If you want to enter too, hurry as it ends really soon. Details can be found here.

Now, I’m a seasoned parent, I have four busy children, who I try to keep active and who love the Summer outdoors weather, but mine still get bored. In the past few years I have found a novel way of keeping them busy, just as we get them to write a list for Christmas I do the same thing with the Summer – a ‘what I’d like to do over the Summer’ list. I suggest a couple of paid for things and other things that are free. Below are a few of the things we did last Summer.

Learn a new sport – Free

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Both my girls dance in a majorette troupe and my youngest wanted to learn the mace which is done by the girl in the front of the troupe. Usually it’s done by much older girls but with the help of her sister she managed it.

 

 

 

 

Check local shops for activities days – Free

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Last year our local pet store ran activity days for children, they were totally free and helped the children understand what it takes to care for an animal and what to feed it. Not everything costs money and these days were superb, I am always surprised that more people don’t do the free things!

 

Find a local splash park – Free

IMG_9394These are popping up all over and are just perfect for a hot and sunny day. Pack the sun cream, a towel and your cossie, and just have fun. Again – they are usually free and if you take a picnic you can stretch it to the best part of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry picking – Inexpensive

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My children love strawberry picking – this year they want to see if there is anywhere where we can pick raspberries. I love this activity, and if you are feeling adventurous you can try your hand at jam making!

 

 

 

 

 

So, what’s on the list this year…

All the children have written lists again and here is Eleanor (aged 8) list. Here is the list in case you can’t work out her spellings!

  • Legoland
  • Strawberry picking
  • Bounce – trampoline park
  • Make a music video
  • Bingo
  • Go shopping with her sister (could be expensive!)
  • Caterpillars
  • Local library book challenge

For expensive things I always use my supermarket vouchers or look for offers online. As a consequence I rarely pay full price for anything!

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Best of all enjoy your Summer and make some great memories, after all they are not young for long.

This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor

Banishing those bathroom blues

I have just found the most amazing competition to enter from Tile Mountain. The prize is amazing – £1750 worth of vouchers.

1st Prize – £1,000 Worth Of Vouchers!
2nd Prize – £500 Worth Of Vouchers!
3rd Prize – £250 Worth Of Vouchers!

IMG_0359Now, my hubby only just revamped our smaller bathroom the children use; he has done a lovely job, we have a tubby tub (roll top bath) and it is beautiful, he has even added LED lighting that changes colour. Our main bathroom is en-suite and was done a few years ago; it is all mirrors and black. Unusual for a bathroom, so our plumbers said anyway!

Anyway, so in summary I’m happy with our bathrooms so when I saw this competition I desperately wanted to enter and help one of my best friends. We met at my first proper job about 20 years ago and have been firm friends since, we have children a similar age, and I actually introduced her (on a blind date) to the father of her children (I’m not sure she thanks me for all of that, but two lovely children were born from it!) There is no sob story or that silly teak-jerking music they play when they start a sob story on x-factor! It is simply a case of being a busy working mum of two, who struggles to get everything done. Her name is Barb and she has two lovely children called Lauren (16) and Fred (11); the bathroom was done about 15 years ago but like most things has suffered with the march of time (don’t I know that well too!)

Below are some photos from my friends bathroom, her comment to me was she was shocked at how shabby it looked on the photos, I think that you tend not to notice when you live with something but it is in a very sorry state. So I wrote this rhyme about it…

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My friends bathroom is in a sorry state;
it’s in desperate need of being up to date
The grout is black and full of mold;
the windows leaky and lets in the cold
It’s a desperate dash when you need the loo;
you don’t even stay long when u need a number 2!
The taps are old and are always dripping;
the walls are damp and they need stripping
You don’t go in there unless you are desperate;
we really need the help of a bathroom expert
So please dream bathroom hear our plea;
Turn a nightmare to a daydream and make it a lush place to be!

Now, I’m pretty rubbish at putting things together, but both my friend and I really like Victorian styled tiles; in fact when I rang and told her about the competition the thing she talked about were the old fashioned brick bevelled tiles. She also currently collects blue and white porcelain so I was made up when I found some nice blue and white retro tiles on the TileMountain site that could be combined with the brick tiles in some fashion, or used as a separate idea. Anyway, there is a great choice on the site so I am sure we would be able to make a choice depending on the suite chosen.

So I have put together the pinterest mood board based around this idea of a slightly retro bathroom suite and tiles to match.  – here is our jointly chosen Pinterest board

Follow anna’s board Banish those bathroom blues inspiration on Pinterest.

We have also included a few fun hacks as well for making the bathroom more individual, and a great place to be.

This is my entry to win on behalf of my friend for Tile Mountain bloggers competition.

A perfect Easter garden party

This is a great bloggers competition – Debenhams are offering two lucky bloggers the chance to win £250 each. To win, all you you need to do is work with your little ones on a blog post to tell us what their must-haves are for their perfect Easter garden party, using the huge range we have available at Debenhams. The competition link is here if you want to enter, but hurry it closes on 13th March 2016.

My children love Easter, its a combination of chocolate, and time off school so we are currently in the pre-Easter egg-citement at the moment in the house. Photo is of my younger three children jumping for joy at the end of term. I’m guessing Easter will get a similar reaction!

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When I mentioned this competition it made them realise quite how close Easter actually is. I got them looking at the range of outdoor garden toys and it actually got them out in the garden playing with things they hadn’t thought about since the end of the Autumn time. From the website they chose

The perfect Easter party

Ah! we love parties, and especially Easter parties!  Hopefully the weather will be reasonable by Easter so we wouldn’t need to hold it all indoors and more importantly so the house doesn’t get too trashed! So what would we need…

  •  Invitations (of course!) and some friends!
  • Plastic Eggs to fill with sweets
  • Bags or boxes collect the eggs in
  • Pens, and stickers for decorating the bags
  • Sweets to put in the eggs
  • Prizes
  • Invitations
  • Some helping hands to decorate the garden and do some suitable food

However, with all good parties there are other things to do in the garden, this is where Debenhams comes in as they have a superb range of outdoor garden toys to choose from. My son’s number one choice was this, a trampoline.

1. Plum – 14ft Whirlwind Trampoline and 3G Enclosure

My children enjoy our trampoline almost the whole year, I have in fact seen them on it in the snow! They adore it and I have to say it is the item that has had the most use of all of our play equipment. My younger son is superb on it and I have signed him up for lessons now. When we have parties we always do craft activities and while some are doing that others are on the trampoline or climbing frame. I usually put flags around it or bunting to make it look more festive. Photo left is of my son loving it.missymoo_2012-05-25 (1) (Large)

 

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2. DC Comics Batman vs Superman Space Hopper

These are a firm favourite, I would do a space hopper race, buy a couple of get some of the children to bring theirs. A lot of my children’s friends also have them. Organise a race and log the best times the children arrive at!

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3. Intex 8′ Easy Set Pool

This is another firm favourite with the children, obviously Easter might be a bit chilly but it could be set up and used for fish a duck which is a great game, again this could be a timed fun activity.

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3. Re:Creation Fuze Bike Bubbler

No party is complete without bubbles, kids just love them, especially against a bright blue sky.

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4. Mookie Hula hoop

Again a great activity, they can be used conventionally or for other games such as throwing or jumping in. 171060696299

 

5. Swingball Classic

As a family we just love this game, it lives on and on and I remember many happy-a-day playing it with my parents on holiday. Our children beg for it to be set up in the summer, but why not get it out early!

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A moodboard of ideas for the perfect Easter party – via pinterest
Follow anna’s board A perfect Easter party with Debenhams on Pinterest.
No party is complete without a cake!

We had a go at making this cake we found on pinterest, my girls loved having a go and it tasted as delicious as it looked. Then we tried brownies with crème eggs, this was equally as successful!

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2886417This is my entry for the Debenhams Easter bloggers competition.