Monday, 30 March 2015

Ribbit DVD Review

Fun new animated family film RIBBIT is out to own on DVD and 3D Blu-ray from today, featuring the voice talents of TIM CURRY (Legend) and SEAN ASTIN (The Lord of The Rings). 

Ribbit, film, kids film

Ribbit is a frog with a serious identity crisis. Unlike other frogs, he hates hopping and he hates water! Along with his best friend, Sandy the flying squirrel, he embarks on a soul-searching journey of discovery, encountering a variety of colourful characters – both friend and foe – along the way.

When Ribbit is hypnotised, he starts to believe that he isn't actually a frog at all, but a handsome prince trapped inside an amphibian's body. He sets off on a mission to kiss a human princess to break the spell, but the adventure that he has hopped into may just make him realise who he really is inside and help him discover his rightful place in the world.

Ribbit is the reject in the Amazon Rainforest, the creature who has always knew he was different from everybody else, so you immediately root for him as the underdog. The film is filled with action and adventure, plenty of laughs and some danger! The story is ultimately a tale of friendship, self discovery and being true to yourself.

The film is colourful, the Amazon setting is lush and the characters are quirky. Freddy enjoyed it!  It's a great family film to watch together and we all thought it was cute that Sean Astin's real life daughter Ali was the voice of the princess - a bit of a family affair!

RIBBIT disc information:

Running Time: 81 minutes approx.

RRP: DVD from £10 / 3D Blu-ray from £13

Certificate: PG

Special Features: “Magical Moment” Music Video: Az Yet & Jaclyn Victor

Making of Ribbit

Copyright line: ©2014 KRU INTERNATIONAL SDN BHD. All Rights Reserved. ©2014 Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK.

Magic Tattoos Review

Like many kids his age, Freddy absolutely loves temporary tattoos. He will happily create a 'sleeve' covering his arm in cool designs.  So he was pretty excited to receive a pack of 24 new tattoos to try out. However, when he found out that these were no ordinary tattoos, the excitement levels rose considerably. For these were Action themed Magic Tattoos from Tobar!

Magic Tattoos work with the free Magic Tatts app from the App Store or Google Play, which brings the designs to life.  Each of the eight designs comes with its own sound effects and animation. Skeleton warriors, fierce ogres, T-Rex dinosaurs, ferocious sharks, battle robots, terrifying tarantulas, hissing cobras and hairy gorillas burst into life when you look at them through your smartphone, using augmented reality technology.. Freddy thought it was pretty awesome to have the fully animated characters move across his arm. I was pretty impressed too!

magic tatts app, augmented reality

The effect can stop working as well when the tattoos start to wear off, so it is best to enjoy them straight away. On the sheet, the designs spring to life instantly, so we kept a set unused for Freddy to play with using the app whenever he wanted.

They would be great for impressing guests at a birthday party.  They apply really well and they look impressive with a clear, colourful end result. They last well and if undamaged will still work for a couple of days.

You can get Magic Tattoos in Action and Fantasy packs of 24 for £4.00.

They are innovative, fun and affordable novelties that kids will love.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Climbing on to the property ladder

When it comes to the property market, Ian and I have been pretty lucky. We got on the property ladder at just the right time, moving from Hampshire to Shropshire, where house prices were still within our reach. For the cost of a one bed flat down south, we upgraded to a family home with a garden in the Midlands. Pretty quickly, the value of our three bedroomed semi-detached home, more than doubled. A well timed move allowed us to purchase a brand new four bed detached house with a manageable mortgage. We have been here now for almost ten years.

house building, building site

The current economic climate and the uncertainty of Ian's employment has meant that we can't realistically contemplate moving again anytime soon, but we are pretty settled and the kids are happy here. We love the rural setting of where we live and we are within easy reach of our favourite city Manchester, where my girls live. The journey to Northampton, where my son and his family live, isn't too bad and we have got used to being long distance grandparents to our grandson Ted, making the journey down for special occasions and visits.

When it comes to my grown-up children, I can't imagine that they will have such an easy route to becoming homeowners as we did. House prices are much higher now and the amount of money needed for a deposit puts buying out of easy reach. The high cost of renting eats up the majority of their wages, leaving little left to be saved. However, more and more schemes appear to be springing up to help young people make the step towards home ownership. With a bit of effort, buying your first home is still achievable and I hope that one day they will be able to start the job of house hunting. Whether they are looking for a property for sale in Wiltshire, Northamptonshire, Manchester or even here in Shropshire, I hope they manage to find their place in the world where they will be just as happy as we are in our family home. Having to strive to get somewhere will definitely make them appreciate what they have got in the long term.

While I still might dream of owning a country house in view of Salisbury Plain with a big kitchen equipped with an island and a range cooker, a music room for Ian and a granny annexe for my parents,  I am happy to hold out until such a time that my six numbers come up on the Lotto. (just imagine if that actually happened - I could also sort out the kids with their first homes - how amazing would that be!?) In the meantime I will enjoy living here in our own little castle filled with love and laughter, and remember just how lucky we are to be in the position we are in. After all, there's no place like home.

Breakfast or Tea with the Easter Bunny at Wyevale Garden Centres

This Easter, if you are looking for something wonderfully seasonal to do with the family, check out the Wyevale Garden Centre's Breakfast or Tea with the Easter Bunny event.  

Breakfast and Tea sessions are being held until the 5th April, with breakfast starting at 9 am and tea at 4 pm. Sessions last for approximately 90 minutes.

Suitable for boys and girls aged between 2 and 10, children get to meet the Easter Bunny in the restaurant. They also get to enjoy a meal, decorate an Easter biscuit and receive a cute, cuddly toy and a Lindt chocolate bunny!

We were invited to pop along to enjoy a delicious breakfast and some Easter fun at our local garden centre in Bridgemere. 

Wyevale Garden centre

We were met in the restaurant and showed to our reserved table, which had been laid out ready for our breakfast.  The kids had an activity sheet and crayons to keep them busy, while Ian and I enjoyed a cup of freshly brewed filter coffee.

Wyevale Garden Centre

We ordered vegetarian breakfasts, which were served to our table with hot buttered toast.  The children had hash browns, scrambled eggs and beans, while we had fried eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, beans, fried bread and tomato.  The food was well cooked and presented, and was lovely.

Wyevale Garden centre

After they had eaten, the children had to shout for the Easter Bunny who then appeared  at the door much to their delight.  The Easter Bunny went around every table to greet families and pose for photographs. The bunny was very obliging, hugging little ones and doing selfies with the older kids.

Easter, Wyevale

Freddy and Kezia were able to pick a cuddly toy from a basket, which was filled with cute, wide eyed farm animal toys.  Freddy fell in love with the yellow duckling, giving him lots of cuddles.


Every child was then given a plate with a yummy, shortbread biscuit along with a tube of icing and a pot containing sprinkles, marshmallows and chocolate buttons. Freddy and Kezia enjoyed decorating their biscuits.

Easter, Wyevale

They were also given a box so that the biscuits could be taken home and enjoyed later. I thought this was a very nice touch, keeping their decorated creations safe and secure.

Easter, biscuits, Wyevale

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny costs £9.99 per child to include the food, drink, soft toy, chocolate bunny, activity sheet and biscuit decorating.  Adults having a full English breakfast with coffee or tea pay £7.99, or can have a Danish pastry and a coffee for £3.99.

Tea compromises of a hot kids' meal and a drink or a picnic option, along with all the other fun stuff enjoyed at breakfast, for £9.99.  Adults can enjoy a lovely afternoon tea of filled rolls, cake squares, clotted cream and jam scone along with tea or coffee for £7.99, or a slice of cake and a drink for £3.99.

We were really impressed with the quality and the value of the event.  The atmosphere was relaxed, the staff were all very friendly and efficient and the food was great.  The toys and the Lindt chocolate bunnies were lovely gifts to take home.

Book events online on the Wyevale website.

Times and dates may vary by centre.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

What Fred Said About Jesus and the Crucifixion

So Freddy just said to his dad:

"Did you know that Jesus drowned on the cross?" 

Sadly, this was not a case of my child getting the wrong end of the stick.


He was able to go into graphic detail about how crucifixion kills you, including the fact that your lungs fill with fluid because you are unable to breathe properly, which causes drowning from the inside. He also explained how whipping someone with a rope whip, made with shards of bones attached, rips flesh and skin from the bones and that this is a very painful way to die.

It was the local reverend who explained the graphic horrors of crucifixion to my 5 year old during the annual Easter church service. I thought they'd be hearing a child friendly version of the Easter story, not a certificate 18 one.

I had hoped that the words would wash over him, in one ear and out the other, but Freddy, with his sponge-like thirst for knowledge, had taken in every detail of what was said. He just loves facts! He'll happily tell you about it in the same way he will tell you about magnets or the water cycle or whatever else he has just learned from Nina and the Neurons.

Even though he doesn't seem upset by what he heard, I am trying to counteract it with stories of Easter bunnies, fluffy chicks, chocolate eggs and bright yellow daffodils. After all, I don't want him thinking about executions while tucking into his Creme Eggs this year.


It's a Bing Thing! - New Bing DVD now available

For the first time, much to the delight of my son Freddy, Bing is available on DVD.  Bing is a cute little black rabbit, who has adventures with his carer Flop and his friends Coco, Charlie, Pando and Sula.  Based on the books by Ted Dewan, Bing celebrates the noisy, joyful messy reality of being a small child.

Bing, CBeebies

Freddy watches a Bing on BBC iPlayer every night before bed.  He loves the storytelling and each episode comes with an important message, teaching children social skills about friendship, sharing and taking turns. Each story ends with the reassuring "It's a Bing thing!" message.

BING will be available on DVD for the very first time on March 30th, and fans can enjoy the following episodes:

Swing, Bye Bye, Ducks, Growing, Hide & Seek, Lost, Frog, Bake, Atchoo! and VooVoo.

Filled with gentle humour, energy, wonder and everyday dramas, that little ones and their parents will recognise, the stories are told from Bing's perspective.

The DVD also contains a ‘Grow With Bing’ height chart – a perfect addition to the play room so you can see how your little one grows!

Cert. U 
RRP: £9.99

Friday, 27 March 2015

Shared Parental Leave - what it means to me

From April 2015, parents get a greater choice in how they take their time off work following the birth or adoption of a child with Shared Parental Leave.  Juggling employment with new parenthood can prove to be a very trying time for both mums and dads, and until now there has been very little flexibility when it came to taking leave from work.

There are expected to be as many as 285,000 working couples that will be eligible to share leave from April 2015.  Under the new rules, mums will still take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.  For example, this means they could opt to both have 25 weeks each at the same time, or mum can take 44 weeks while dad shares the first 6 weeks of childcare. The arrangement is totally flexible to suit the individual needs of each eligible family.

In our family, we enjoy very traditional roles. Ian is the main breadwinner and I stay at home with the children, fully funded by his paycheck.  I have never returned to a job following maternity leave after the birth of my children, preferring to be a full time mother for as long as possible with each one of my children. I count myself to be very fortunate that we have had this luxury as a family. Although stay at home mums are not recognised or supported by this government, I still believe that my role is exceptionally worthwhile to the wellbeing of my children. It's my family's choice and this works for us.

However, for my own adult children the new Shared Parental leave guidelines have much more relevance.  For example, my eldest son became a father for the first time in December 2012. After an emergency C-section, his fiancee had a slow recovery post-partum.  The basic two weeks paternity leave seemed woefully inadequate for him, as he helped in the care of both his baby son and his partner. She then had to be thrust back into the full time care of her baby, just a fortnight after a traumatic birth and major surgery, while my son reluctantly returned to work. My son is a very hands on dad and to be deprived of the early weeks of childcare was quite hard on him. He, like many other men, would have relished the opportunity to spend more time with his baby during those precious first weeks, and missed being there for his fiancee when she needed him most. The flexibility of SPL may have smoothed their transition into parenthood, providing extra support in those crucial early days.

My eldest daughter is a career woman, who in the future, may find the new SPL guidelines very relevant when she starts a family. Depending on her and her future partner's situation at the time, they could divide up the responsibility of childcare, so both can give equal attention to their role as parents and to their careers. Given that in up to a third of families, the woman is the higher wage earner, SPL can make economical sense, allowing the woman to pursue her career whilst the man cares for their child. It allows for a more modern, 21st century approach to parenting, freeing women from the notion that they should automatically become the primary care givers after giving birth. 

So, there is definitely a value to the new SPL guidelines, giving parents much more flexibility and the ability to make decisions on their work / life balance. Men have the opportunity to be more involved in raising their children during that first year. Career women can avoid potentially harmful long career breaks without resorting to expensive childcare for the first year. This equality in the home may lead to more equality in the workplace, as parental leave becomes the norm for both men and women.

SPL would never have worked for me, as I strongly believe in my right to be a full time mum which includes breastfeeding my babies for the first year of their lives - something that only I could do. So, although it would have been lovely to have had my husband home with me after my babies were born, my role is a stay at home mum, whilst his is working to support us. Maybe one day the government will come up with some legislation in support of families like us.

You can find out more about SPL and check your eligibility at


Food Saving Tips and Menu Planning Love Food Hate Waste

I have taken part in the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which aims to raise awareness to encourage families to stop wasting food. Reducing food waste will have both an economical and an environmental impact, making it really important to both our pockets and the planet.

There are lots of ways that we can make the fresh foods we buy last longer by using savvy storage ideas, and there are loads of ideas for family meals that will utilise leftover vegetables and fresh produce, so nothing goes to waste at the end of the week.


Menu planning really is a great way to manage feeding the family.  Having a range of meals in your repertoire and buying ingredients that can be used to make several different dishes, sees that nothing goes to waste.  It saves money, and being well organised, can save valuable time and effort too.

With some careful planning, today's waste can become tomorrow's ingredients.  Sauces, cooked vegetables, excess pasta or extra sausages can be incorporated into the next day's dinner. Any leftover meals can easily be boxed up and frozen ready to be reheated.  Much cheaper, nicer and healthier than buying ready meals!

menu, vegetarian

Here is a recipe that I make at the end of the week, which uses up any vegetables I have left over.  It also uses a cheese sauce made using any bits of cheese left in the fridge.  It is adaptable and versatile and is really tasty!


Find out more on the website at

24 Hour Spring Clean Challenge

Spring cleaning is a task I love and loathe in equal measure.  I love it because it is a sign of new beginnings, a clean and tidy house ready for the start of the spring season after the cold and dark winter months. A fresh start with a new uncluttered outlook and shiny, new disposition. But I also hate it, simply because of the enormity of the challenge.  Where do you even begin?  Where do you find the motivation to get up and start the monumental task?

This year, I have been challenged to take on the 24 hour Spring Clean Challenge.  The gauntlet has been laid to see if I can clean my house from top to bottom in just one day.  I love a good challenge, so this is exactly the motivation I need to get on my rubber gloves and blitz every room from my bedroom to the bathroom. They sent me the cleaning products I'd need, plus some wine to celebrate once the job was done.


Spring cleaning has a great hidden benefit too.  It burns calories!  So not only does my house get a good deep clean - I get a good work-out! Plus, if you get a good mood boosting playlist together, you can have some fun and get some moves a-busting while you do the dusting!  I blasted out a bit of Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell to get me in the mood for some hardcore cleaning action.

The Spring Cleaning Schedule

9.00 - Get prepared with a good breakfast to give you all the energy you need for the challenge ahead.

ROOM 1 - The Kitchen

9.30 - For many people, the oven is the most dreaded and the messiest household chore, but you can make light work of it by using a specialist oven cleaning product such as Oven Pride.  You simply place the shelves and trays into the bags provided with the product and then spread the remaining product around the inside of the oven. (Making sure you wear protective gloves!)  This is then left until the next morning.

When it comes to oven cleaning, I actually feel a little bit smug!  As vegetarians, we don't get any dripping animal fat or meat spatter and so my oven stays pretty clean, glass door and this job isn't the worst task for me at all.

oven cleaning

10.00 - Start the surface deep clean. Using an antibacterial spray wipe over all the surfaces and under all the appliances.  Making all the work surfaces germ-free clean helps keep the family safe from a whole range of nasty bacteria.

cleaning, spring clean

10.15 - Spray the sink, taps and draining board with antibacterial spray and Limelite, being sure to clean all the crevices.  Finish by pouring some bleach down the drain for a hygienically clean sink. Don't forget to clean the draining rack, they get really mucky!

spring cleaning

10.30 - Using Erase Away magic erasers, erase all those dirty finger marks and smudges from the cupboard doors and appliances.  They work remarkably well and I even managed to shift some stubborn marks from the hob!

spring cleaning

11.00 - It's time for a coffee and a healthy snack to restore energy levels.

11.15 - Now it's time to tackle the cupboards.  Chuck out long forgotten items that have been lurking in the depths of the cupboards. Make sure the items with the shortest dates are most accessible. Move the smallest things to the front. Donate any unwanted tins and packets to the local food bank.  Clean the shelves as you go, using anti-bacterial spray. It's so nice to have well organised, easily managed cupboards in the kitchen. Using plastic containers to store all the fiddly, little bits and bobs makes it easier to manage the contents!


ROOM 2  - The Bathroom

11.45 - Get ready to don those rubber gloves!  Spray the shower, bath, sink and plug with Limelite spray to remove limescale and prevent future build up.  Use antibacterial spray on all the other surfaces and finish with a good squirt of bleach around the toilet bowl. Throw out and recycle all those empty bottles of shower gel and cans of hairspray and check your make-up bag for any cosmetics that you've not used for months.  Make-up harbours germs and shouldn't be kept for too long.

cleaning, toilet

The Limelite Active Gel and the spray clean incredibly well.  I was very impressed that the gel shifted the build up from around the taps and the plug.  I used the spray on my glass shower door and also on the shower head and both came up really clean.

spring cleaning, bathroom

12.15 - Time for a well deserved lunch break!

ROOM 3 - The Living Room

1.15 - You're half way there  - but now it's time to tackle what's under the sofa.  I once found half a slightly fossilised crumpet under mine, along with various pieces of LEGO, toy cars and some rogue Smarties!  I use a long handled broom to reach right under the couch.

I have a leather sofa and have found that baby wipes do an excellent job of cleaning it. If you have a fabric sofa, you can hoover it and plump up the cushions. Give the TV stand and the DVD player, Sky+ Box, games consoles etc a good dusting. They attract so much dust!

spring cleaning

The Hallway

1.45 - Get the kids involved by challenging them to remove marks from the walls using an Erase Away eraser. They love to help, and if pointed in the right direction can be pretty useful for the task in hand.

ROOM 4 - The Bedroom

2.00 - The biggest challenge in  my bedroom is my wardrobe.  It's stuffed with clothing in sizes 12 through to 18, with some items that haven't seen the light of day since before the millennium!  Spring cleaning is a great opportunity for a brutal clear out.  If you haven't worn in it 12 months, you are unlikely to ever wear it!  So chuck it out...and donate it to the local charity shop.  They benefit from your generous donation and your wardrobe no longer resembles the entrance to Narnia!

3.00 - Take a's almost over!

3.15 - Vacuum all carpets and floorspace.  Shift the furniture to get underneath and eliminate all those dust bunnies that have been gathering.  Use the vacuum cleaner hose in the corners of the ceiling to get rid of any lurking cobwebs. You can't keep making the excuse that you are nurturing them for next Halloween!

3.45 - Dust the remaining furniture and freshen up any non-wood surfaces with anti-bacterial spray. Give the light switches and door handles a quick clean too, they can get so mucky!

4.15 -  With your house looking clean and tidy, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You will have burned an estimated 800 calories so why not treat yourself to a glass of wine and a takeaway (after all your oven is out of action until you finish cleaning it by wiping away the Oven Pride and rinsing the shelves at 9.00 in the morning, completing the 24 hour spring clean challenge!)

spring cleaning

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NEW Low Sugar Oat Cheerios

NEW Low Sugar Oat Cheerios, have just 1.4g of sugar per serving, are rich in fibre and are made with 98% wholegrain. They give families the opportunity to maintain the balance between a great tasting breakfast and a healthier way to start the day.

Nestle, cereals

Freddy is a big fan of Cheerios so he was our first test subject.  I didn't tell him they were new, and just gave him a bowlful in his favourite bowl just like I always do.  Immediately he looked suspicious and asked why were they all white!  Then he tried a few spoonfuls and said that they weren't quite as tasty as his usual three colour Cheerios, but they were OK.  We compromised by adding a handful of regular Cheerios to the bowl, and he yummied them all up.

breakfast, cereals

For me, this is a success story.  Freddy is the boy who hates change and likes exactly what he likes. I happily adopt compromises that will mean he is still getting all the taste and crunch, but with less sugar in half of what he consumed. I will never make mealtimes a battlefield, and when a happy compromise can be reached, I think it moves things forward for the better with everyone still smiling. The wholegrain goodness and lower sugar recipe provides a good start to the day for my little boy.

Ian, on the other hand, always complains about the sweetness of cereals, so the Low Sugar Oat Cheerios were perfect for him.  As oats are such a superfood, packed with slow release energy, these cereals make a great start to the day.  They are quick and convenient and they retain the element of fun with their tasty 'O' format.

It is good that Nestle are responding to the new guidelines on sugar, allowing us all to continue enjoying our favourite cereals in a healthier way.

Find Nestle cereals in the cereal aisle of supermarkets.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Importance of Vitamin D to Young People

My eldest daughter has recently suffered from some frightening episodes of extreme heart palpitations.  At first she thought it could be panic attacks, but as she is not an anxious person, this seemed unlikely. The GP sent her for a barage of tests including 24 hour heart monitoring and extensive blood tests. The blood test results showed that she was extremely deficient in vitamin D and a heart arrhythmia was diagnosed.

Some recent research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is a factor in cardiovascular disease and many young adults, because of their lifestyles are becoming at risk of the deficiency and its associated health risks. Thankfully, after a strong dose of Vitamin D supplements over the course of a few months, my daughter's condition was reversed with no lasting side effects, and she is now back to full health. It was a very scary time for us all and I'm so glad that no long term damage has been done.

Her condition made me very aware of the need for the correct RDA of vitamins and minerals in our diets. I do a lot of research to make sure that my family have nutritious and well balanced meals. Being vegetarian makes me work harder to provide all the necessary food groups and we, on a whole, eat extremely well. But, after my eldest daughter's experience, I want to feel completely confident that my younger children are getting all the nutrients they need, especially when it comes to vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is found in fortified cereals, dairy products and milk alternatives, eggs and mushrooms (these are just the vegetarian sources). It is also made in the body through exposure to the sun, making it dubbed 'the sunshine vitamin'.

Children used to play out in the sunshine all day long when I was a child, but nowadays, children spend much more time in the home. If they do go outside, we sensibly and quite rightly slather sunblock over them to protect their skin from the harmful UV rays, but in doing so, we also prevent them from producing vitamin D in their bodies. Facial make-up now comes with its own SPF so adults are also minimising their vitamin D production by being sun safe.  It is a catch 22 situation! The British weather allows vitamin D production from April through to September, meaning during the other months when we may go sun cream free, we simply don't get enough sunlight anyway.

Vitamin D is essential for the growth of strong bones and teeth. Under 5's are the group that are at most risk of vitamin D insufficiency with the average child getting just 27% of their RDA.  This can lead to health issues including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and even rickets.

One way to ensure that children get the right daily dose of vitamin D is through giving them an age appropriate supplement. Multi-vitamins often contain all the necessary vitamins a child needs or you can use a specific vitamin D product according to your child's age, such as KID_D_VIT from Health Plus, which contains 400iu of vitamin D3 in each daily dose.

vitamin d deficiency, vitamin d in kids

  • Vitamin D is crucial for the proper absorption of Calcium and Potassium.
  • Aids the formation of healthy bones and teeth.
  • Helps to maintain proper neuro-muscular function
  • Recommended by The Chief Medical Officer and The Department of Health, for all young children upwards
  • It is suitable for children aged 5 and up.
At just £3.45 for a bottle of sixty tablets it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.  I've been sent a bottle to try and intend on giving them to Kezia and Freddy as part of their daily routine.

Managing your money with Nutmeg

Being an adult is a complicated business where we have to face up to grown up responsibilities such as having to do self-assessments for the Inland Revenue, trying to find the best broadband provider whilst living in a rural area, finding the best mortgage for our personal situation and negotiating the best deal on our car insurance. Another area that we have to tackle is how to best manage our finances.  Let's face facts: life is expensive. These days being a parent comes with a massive financial burden. It has been estimated that it can cost a staggering  £227,266 to raise a child to adulthood (according to the Centre of Economic and Business Research) making it vitally important that we make the most of our savings. Managing money can be a minefield, which is why we need to make sure we do our research before making any long term decisions. offers a financial solution to investors offering a simple way to manage savings online. It provides a effective way to create a professional portfolio that can help people make the most of their savings.

Nutmeg is an investment company that has reinvented the wealth management industry, with an aim of making it accessible to everyone, giving complete transparency and peace of mind. With a team of talented, dedicated individuals, they aim to create an intuitive service that is an example of how investing should be. Nutmeg can help you set up your portfolio in under 10 minutes; you can create as many funds as you like and you can top up, transfer or withdraw whenever you like. They regularly rebalance your portfolio, selecting from a diverse, global range of assets, to ensure you have the best chance of staying on track.

To set up a professional portfolio, all you have to do is tell Nutmeg’s team about your financial situation, how much you want to invest, your time frame and your attitude to risk. With this information, Nutmeg build and manage a portfolio for you, diversifying your investments. Their experienced investment team monitors your portfolio, adjusting the asset allocation and rebalancing every month.  In this way, they aim to produce the best return, at low cost, for the risk level you choose.

finances, savings, investments

You can start with as little as £1,000 per fund (plus minimum monthly contributions of £50 for portfolios below £5,000) and set up as many funds as you like — whether you are investing for your children's university fees, saving for a deposit on a new home or just saving for a rainy day— each with their own time frames and risks. You can open a Nutmeg ISA, start a Nutmeg personal pension (min investment £5,000) and transfer your ISAs and personal pension pots from other providers, consolidating your investments to suit your financial needs.

You have access to an online, jargon-free overview of your investments whenever you like, so you’ll always know exactly how they’re performing and how much you’re paying.  You can then sit back and relax while the investment experts constantly monitor and rebalance your portfolio to keep it on track with your goals.

The cost of choosing Nutmeg to manage your investments is similar to the cost of doing it yourself, and avoids many of the fees charged by primary alternatives, making it a good value service.
Nutmeg charges a simple fee of between 0.3 and 1.0%, which is based on the value of your investment, which gives you:

Professional discretionary investment management
Free withdrawals on a weekly schedule
24/7 access to an online account
Regular rebalancing to keep your funds on track
Live chat, phone, and email support

As with all investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.  This post has been written in association with Nutmeg.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The End of the World is Nigh - What Fred Said

Mishearing grown-up conversations can definitely have its consequences.

This morning Freddy nervously asked me what was going to happen after the Zombie Apocalypse on Friday morning.  I had to explain that there was going to be an ECLIPSE not an APOCALYPSE!!  I think he was actually a little disappointed.

Unless of course he knows something we don't!

what Fred said
The Zombies are Coming

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Gorgeous Colouring and Activity Books from Buster Books

If you are looking for a healthier, longer lasting and all together more thoughtful gift idea for the children this Easter, Buster Books has an absolutely gorgeous range of art and activity books for all ages.  Inspiring creativity, unleashing artistic talents and occupying children's time in a productive way, seems to me a much nicer way of celebrating Easter than by overindulging in chocolate eggs! They are also perfect for keeping kids occupied during school holidays or when April showers lead to wet weekends.

I have received a selection of new titles coming soon from Buster Books and each one is stunning.  I love Buster Books, as they take colouring, drawing and stickering to a new level of gorgeousness. With a range of different styles and themes, they have a title that will appeal to everyone, young and old.  The quality of the paper and of the designs is superior to most colouring books found on the market. Children can create masterpieces that can be framed and treasured or have fun completing the educational activities.

The Amazing Creative Colouring Book

Featuring complex, geometric designs, this book is perfect for building creative imaginations. Children can lose themselves in the patterns, which include retro prints, repeating kaleidoscopic motifs and designs taken from nature.  Such intricate colouring in can be very therapeutic and relaxing for both children and adults.

Publication date: 2/4/2015
Price: £5.00

Buster Books

The Dinosaur Colouring Book

Featuring fun facts and cartoon style pictures, this is a must for dinosaur fans.  There are illustrations of monster fish and giant insects alongside the Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor and Stegosaurus.  The phonetic pronunciation of the tricky names are included so children can learn the names of the dinosaurs too.

Publication Date: 16/4/2015
Price: £5.00

Buster Books

The Fashion Through Time Colouring Book

For fashion lovers, or those with an interest in the history of clothes, this book is a look back at the fashions through the ages from the Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, right up through the roaring 20's, the swinging 60's to the present date.  The intricate pictures are detailed giving a glimpse into the lives of people throughout history and around the world, focusing on what they wore and the accessories they had. It's a lovely book for older children and is also educational, inspiring an interest in fashion and design.

Publication Date: 16/4/2015
Price: £5.00

buster Books

The Pirate Colouring Book

Ahoy me hearties!  Grab your crayons or pencils and dive right into the seven seas with this colouring book that is bursting with pirates, treasure maps, shipwrecks and hidden treasure.  The detailed, cartoon style pictures are perfect for little pirates to enjoy as they follow the adventures of the band of swashbuckling pirates. There is a lot of funny detail hidden within the pages and each spread tells a story, so it is a great prompt to get little ones talking and thinking creatively.

Publication Date: 19/3/2015
Price: £5.00

Buster Books,

The Puzzle Activity Book

There are hours of fun to be had within the pages of this activity book!  There are mazes, objects to find, dot to dots, spot the differences and puzzles to solve.  The illustrations are detailed, fun and kid friendly.  Children can practice their penmanship and their mathematical skills as they solve the puzzles by matching shapes, counting and following mazes.  It's lots of fun and excellently presented to keep little ones happily entertained.  It's a good way to get reluctant readers and writers engaged as they have to read instructions and use their pen to complete tasks.  This is perfect for my 5 year old Freddy, challenging him in a fun way.

Publication Date: 9/4/2015
Price: £5.00

Buster Books

The Original Sticker By Numbers Book - Animals

By matching coloured stickers to their numbers, children can complete the beautifully illustrated animal pictures within the pages of this book.  From tropical birds to underwater scenes, the mosaic effect creates some lovely works of art.  The white spaces are numbered to correspond to a certain colour of sticker, making it simple to do.  There are over 3500 stickers, so even when the pictures are completed there will still be some stickers left for a bit of freestyle designing of your own.  The finished pictures are all so colourful and detailed, children will get a real sense of achievement through this activity.

Price: £6.99

Buster Books

The Tracing Paper Colouring Book

This is a stunning colouring book with an artistic twist. In addition to the colouring pages, it also contains 20 tracing paper pages, which can be used to create stunning stained glass effect designs. Some of the tracing paper comes ready printed with simple designs that can be completed by tracing patterns from the book or adding your own embellishments. The rest of the tracing paper is blank so children can come up with their own complete designs, or trace and colour favourite images from the book.  The tracing paper is very thick and high quality, and it is perforated for ease of removal. Once done, the tracing paper pictures can be stuck on a window pane to give a stained glass effect.

Publication date: 16/4/2015
Price: £9.99

Buster Books

You can visit to see their entire range.  You can also follow @BusterBooks on Twitter and Instagram and find them over on Facebook too.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Fairytale - A True Story

The infamous, true story of the Cottingley fairies inspired a media circus back in 1917. Cousins Elsie and Frances claimed to have discovered fairies living in a meadow and took photographs showing the winged creatures as they played with them. The girls' claims catapult the family into fame as the imagination of the public is well and truly captured by the images. The family face a barrage of scrutiny from sceptical journalists and curious members of the public, and celebrities such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini become involved in the magical mystery.

This 1997 film is loosely based on the true life story and boasts a star studded cast including Peter O'Toole, Harvey Keitel, Paul McGann and Bill Nighy.

film review, DVD

The issue of whether the photos are real or faked, challenges the beliefs of all involved. Some want to believe with all their hearts, others stringently attempt to disprove their authenticity, steadfastly refusing to publicly acknowledge the existence of fairies.

In the aftermath of World War I, both girls have suffered personal tragedies in their lives, but their imagination, innocence and sense of wonder leads them into this incredible journey.  The time is right for the world to want to believe in magic and to recapture its innocence.

 In the real life version of events, the photos are renounced as fakes, but the film is more open minded to the fairies' existence and to life's mysteries. This allows a real sense of wonder and magic to be brought into the storytelling.

This film is beautifully shot and the gentle story and excellent acting go together to produce an enchanting family movie. It also makes the viewer think about whether perhaps there is more to the world than meets the eye, and makes us question to what extent our cynicism prevent us from finding out about it. As grown-ups we lose our ability to truly believe. This film reminds us that perhaps we should remember how to make the impossible possible again.

This lovely film is available on DVD on March 23rd 2015 courtesy of Icon Film Distribution, rated certificate U.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Breakfast in Bed for Mum this Mother's Day

If you are planning on treating your mum to a well deserved breakfast in bed this Mother's Day, then Roberts Bakery has some advice on making the perfect boiled egg, served with soft and fluffy toasted soldiers. A soft boiled egg with a dippy yolk and perfectly cut toasted soldiers with butter is such a classic breakfast choice.  

soft boiled egg

Roberts Bakery sent us a loaf of their Soft and Fluffy white bread along with some breakfast goodies so we could have a trial run for making our own breakfast in bed.  Freshly made toast in a rack, a deliciously soft boiled free range egg and a cup of tea (black no sugar for me!) would make a great start to the day.  It definitely makes a change to my usual breakfast choice, which is a green kale and spinach smoothie!

soft boiled egg, toast

You can make a breakfast tray more inviting by popping on a vase containing a single bloom and don't forget to bring mum her Mother's Day cards and gifts so she can open them in bed.  Sunday promises to bring a relaxing lie-in for many lucky mums this weekend - I just hope I'm going to be one of them!

What better way of showing your mum how much you care this Sunday!

Fairytale - Story of the Seven Dwarves Film Review

We received a review copy of Fairytale - Story of the Seven Dwarves from Signature Entertainment. Last night, we sat down down to watch it together.

DVD, film review

From the moment it begun, Freddy was riveted as it contained many of the things he loves in movies: catchy songs, toe-tapping dancing, fun characters and slapstick visual humour.  It brings together the stars of lots of our favourite fairytales as they come together for Princess Rose aka Sleeping Beauty's 18th birthday.  The kids loved picking out characters such as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf from the party guests.

Bobo, the youngest and clumsiest dwarf accidentally causes Sleeping Beauty to prick her finger, unleashing the curse and sending the kingdom into an icy slumber.  The dwarves must then embark on the adventure of a lifetime and find her one true love Jack, of the beanstalk fame, so he can break the wicked Snow Queen Dellamorta's spell. Unfortunately, he is being held captive by the Snow Queen's terrifying dragon.

Although we all hold Disney as the beacon of animated films, I think there is plenty of room in the marketplace for studios that do things a little differently.  I really liked the slightly quirky animated characterisation of the cast, and enjoyed the way the dwarves were not Disney replicas but were brand new characters in their own right.  We loved the visual humour and non-stop gags, and the portrayal of the princesses as typical teen girls was refreshing. Snow White is really quite foxy, which was an interesting twist! The original songs added an element of fun to the film and were quite catchy. Some of the jokes were definitely thrown in with a knowing wink to the grown-ups, which allows adults to enjoy a private titter as the little ones giggle at the more obvious comedic moments.

There were scenes that delivered some mild peril that got Freddy really engrossed in the dwarves' adventures.  He also loved Burner the tap dancing dragon and thought Bobo was really funny!  Dellamorta, who was often seen coming creepily out of her mirror and who spoke with a rather sinister voice, made a very passable villain.

The film delivered its fairytale ending with a good dose of romance.

It's not often that Freddy sits and watches a whole film without being distracted by something else, but this movie absolutely engaged him for the entire duration.

Fairytale-Story of the Seven Dwarves is out on March 16th on DVD.  It is 84 minutes long and is rated a PG.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

We Made a Volcano using Kitchen Science

We love having fun with science. Freddy wants to be a scientist when he grows up and judging by his inquiring mind and constant questioning, I think he might just become one.  He loves doing experiments, testing things out and exploring the properties of objects.

science experiments,

We were sent a Kitchen Science Kit from 4M Kidz Labs featuring six specially designed experiments using things found in the kitchen. Children learn to generate electricity using lemon; launch a rocket using baking soda and vinegar; make rock candy using sugar; write with invisible ink; build a bubbly lava volcano and become a detective studying fingerprints.

experiments, kids science

The kit contains full step by step instructions and all the things needed to turn everyday things found in the kitchen into a science experiment.  The instruction booklet also includes the facts behind the experiment, teaching kids about the chemical reactions involved.  There are also some fun trivia facts about the subject. This kit will inspire youngsters, making science fun, relevant and interesting.

Freddy decided that he wanted to try out the volcano experiment first, which uses the reaction between baking soda and vinegar to create a simulated molten lava eruption.  Big sister Kezia helped him follow the instructions and do the experiment safely.


The plastic volcano has an indentation in the top into which you put two teaspoons of baking soda, a few drops of washing up liquid and some red food colouring.

volcano experiment

Then you add some vinegar and watch as the volcano erupts.  It works because the chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide gas that escapes as bubbles creating the lava effect.  If you wash the volcano after use, you can recreate this experiment again and again.  It's a bit messy, but it's lots of fun.

kids science

The 4M Kidz Labs Kitchen Science set is suitable for kids aged 5 and up and costs £11.95.  You can find out more at the Great Gizmos website at:

Weekly Review Round Up - with Bacofoil and The Happy Egg Company

The Non-Stick Kitchen Foil from Bacofoil is a great product when it comes to cooking sticky or messy foods.  When lining a baking tray with the foil, there is no need to use any additional oil or butter, making cooking healthier.  Food just lifts away easily.  There is no need to scrub any sticky mess from the baking tray, so washing up is easier too.

foil, healthy cooking

Simply use the dull side next to food for easy, non-stick cooking. Use it for grilling, roasting, baking and freezing.  It comes in 5m and 10m lengths (300mm wide) and is fully recyclable and made in Britain. You can it in all good supermarkets for about £2.80 for 10m.

I cooked up some Chick Pea Scotch Eggs and they did not stick at all. I was able to cook them without oil making them healthier and lower in fat.  I usually lose the bottom layer of breadcrumbs so I was very pleased that they turned out so well.

non-stick foil

Being part of The Happy Egg Company's #happyeggtastemakers campaign, I was delighted to receive a signed copy of Totally Chocolate by Eric Lanlard featuring '60 deliciously seductive recipes'.  With Easter coming up, and with it the promise of lots of chocolate, receiving this recipe book was well timed!

I saw Eric Lanlard in action at an event a few years ago and he demonstrated making Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I got to sample one and it was utterly delicious.  This man knows how to bake! 

chocolate recipes

He has made a recipe especially for the Happy Egg Company for Peanut Butter and Chocolate Egg Cups which you can see below.  I love the combination of peanut butter and dark chocolate so may be giving this a try over Easter.

Easter, Eric Lanlard


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