Sunday, 31 August 2014

Christmas Planning - Week 1: Front Porch / List Week

Well Christmas is well on it's way and Week One on Organized Christmas is List Week.  Yup you guessed it, this week is all about making lists, lists and lists to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Check out the printable lists on the above site (I won't be reinventing the wheel), however I will be sharing my progress and would love you to keep me on track and share your progress along with me.

I just need to find me a nice Christmas note book to keep my lists in :)

As I don't have a front porch (which is the suggested focus for the week) I will be concentrating on my front room which is a disorganised mess - mainly as it is currently the storage point for all the lego.

Cleaning/Organising Area:
Front Room and the Front Room cleaning checklist  (once mine is written I will upload to google docs or similar for you).

Christmas Preperations
Print the Holiday Grand Plan calendars for reference.
Make the following lists:
Gifts to be given, amount to spend (include family, friends, etc)  Master lists here and here  I've started and listed everything bought so far (including any savings).  I'd love to list them here but you never know who may stumble across the blog.  I'll let you know after Christmas.... tho there will be a hint in a review later on this month. ;)
Christmas card list - Decide how many cards are needed, which are we making, buying in bulk, ordering?  Master List here
Visits to make - we really don't make any so for me I can cross this straight off.
Parties/Entertaining - we really don't entertain (or go to parties), yay another I can cross this straight off.
Menus for Christmas, New Years, etc
Long-term shopping list/ perishables / decorations/ Goodies - buying in a few every week saves a big splurge just before Christmas.
Favorite Meals of Family members for freezing ahead - our freezer isn't really big enough, it will be 'business as usual in our house.
Create a Christmas planner notebook to organize all this holiday planning into.  I found a lovely 'me' notebook set in Store21 and they were reduced to £1.50.  BARGAIN.

If you want to get ahead of the game there are more printables here.

Updated 6.9.14

Friday, 29 August 2014

Here's One We Made Earlier .... a history of Children's BBC @The Lowry

As my #FlashbackFriday posts will hopefully have shown you I love living in the past.  I am convinced that children's TV past is far better then it is today, but perhaps that's my age as when I sit the boys down with some of the old programmes they find them boring (eeek how dare they!!).  So when I was told about the 'Here's One We Made Earlier' exhibition at The Lowry in Manchester I was counting down the days until I could take the boys.

This exhibition explores the story of over 90 years of BBC Children's broadcasting, from 1922, when the BBC launched Children's Hour, right up to the present multi-media moment with plenty of interactive exhibits along the way. This is something you need to keep an eye on, whilst some of the things are touchable a lot are not, however you have to spot a tiny sign before your excited children do which is not always easy.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Elmer Cross Stitch

So tonight's #WIPWednesday is actually a finished piece because it didn't take me very long.  I can't say tooo much about it in case the recipient reads my blog (I don't *think* they do but you never know).

This, to anyone who hasn't met him before, is Elmer.  He's a favourite in children's literature.  I simply LOVE his bright colours for baby cards/ pictures and it doesn't matter if you don't use the correct shades so fantastic to use up stash.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuneful Tuesday - Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice

If you haven't heard of the Ice Bucket challenge sweeping the nation this week what have you been doing?  If you haven't yet participated in it....well it's only a matter of time.

I've heard a few good excuses to get out of it (I am against animal testing and they test on animals), personally these viral crazes normally get ignored by me as they are pointless (the drinking one anyone?) but this one I didn't mind..... that was until i came down with this stupid cold/ cough/ achy bug and figured it probably isn't a good idea for me to stand in the cold and chuck water over myself right now.... I am more than happy to do it when I feel a bit better :)

My boys took up the challenge tho (but obviously with warmer water) and so has my hubby.  Hats off to Matt Damon for using toilet water to raise awareness of another fantastic cause - the lack of safe water, see for more information and as for the firefighters..........

Please feel free to share your links to your ALS Ice Bucket challenges (or whichever cause you chose to support with it) below (please note all links WILL be verified for inappropriate content).

Anyway, what could be more fitting a Tuneful Tuesday for this week then the soundtrack to many peoples videos ...... the 1989 hit, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice.

Monday, 25 August 2014

OXO with bread in it and Lucozade..... what could be better

Thought I'd have a little change from camping posts and reviews (wahooo I hear you cry), that and the fact my head is too fuzzy to think.

Everytime I feel under the weather my tried and tested cure is OXO with bread and Lucozade.

It's soo warming and you literally make it exactly the same as gravy (ok it is gravy)... 2 OXO's, a dash of mint sauce (optional) and some slices of bread.  Dip in and eat.  It's simple comfort food and quick to make when you don't want to be stood up for too long.

As for lucozade I am sure everyone will agree it tastes better when you are sick.  Don't drink tooo much tho or you'll not want to sleep at night.

Night all.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Camping Adventures ..... 2 kids, 2 adults .... no car - Tower Bar and Grill @ Alton Towers (review)

As you'll already know when we went to Alton Towers we decided to experience The Tower Bar and Grill.  This is situated right near the entrance/ exit and serves right up until 7pm.  A word of advice tho we left around 6.15pm and the place was packed, people were queueing for seats.


The menu is very simple and basic but with something for everyone and designated kids options.

I had a bacon and cheese burger with chips and it was probably one of the best burgers I've had in a long time.  Hubby had the gammon, he was rather disappointed in this (having had melt in the mouth gammon the night before) and had to find a member of staff to request a steak knife as it was too tough to cut normally.   Noah had chicken goujons and chips which he wolfed down, however Ben went for just fries.  He refused to have goujons as they "weren't chicken nuggets".  No amount of explaining would make him opt for them.  **strange child**

Silent Sunday - 24.08.14

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Camping Adventures ..... 2 kids, 2 adults .... The Star @ Cotton - pub (a review)

The Star at Cotton was our local pub to the campsite (ok it was the only pub within walking distance).  They are a family-friendly, traditional 16th century pub and restaurant with a contemporary twist situated near Alton Towers and on the very edge of the Peak District. you could tell it has been recently re-furbished to a very high standard and looked lovely and welcoming both inside and out.   The service we received was friendly and quick and the toilet facilities lovely and clean.

Camping Adventures ..... 2 kids, 2 adults .... no car - The Star @ Alton Campsite (a review)

We decided to pitch at The Star Campsite following great reviews about camping there.  In the main the campsite is fantastic, and a perfect base .... if you drive.  If you are using public transport you may struggle a little bit.

First an overview of the site....
Alton, The Star has the following facilities on or around the site for campers.

Members' and non-members' tents are welcome.  This is not the case with all Camping and Caravanning pitches so a must for checking before you book anywhere.
Grass only pitch (with or without electric) available.
Flushing toilets
Dishwashing facilities
Childrens play area
Gas cylinders - tho only refills and only large ones... none suitable for camping stoves.
Pets welcome
Public transport within 1 mile
family bathroom
Drinking water taps
Washing Machines
Ice pack freezing
Ball games (in a small designated area in the middle of the tents)

Of course caravans and trailer tents are all welcome but I can't comment on these.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Camping Adventures ..... 2 kids, 2 adults .... no car - an eating challenge

I'm back - did you miss me?  :)

If you read my packing checklist you'll realise we went away this week, just for 2 nights, in a tent - with no electric hook up - by train.

Now I knew food was going to be our biggest issue.  Obviously we can't carry too much and we have to
facilities to keep anything cold.
We took with us a single ring camping stove and a frying pan.   No we didn't take any gas, we figured just to save a bit more room on space we'd buy some there.

I'll explain a little more about the location of the campsite in another post but it is basically in  the middle of nowhere.
The 'shop' is open for a couple of hours am and pm.   You have to get a bus to anywhere which run approximately every 2 hours until 4pm then switch and change frequently.  You may end up 4-5 miles away (or further) with nothing to do and no way of getting back until 8 or 9pm.
There is 1 pub in walking distance, The Star Inn.  No takeaways, cafes or fast food vans.  Not even a corner shop.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Magic Faraway Tree - an excerpt.... (apologies in advance)

The boys and me are still plowing through our Faraway trilogy.... unfortunately I had to pass the book to daddy last night as I developed (a very childish) fit of giggles...... can you read this with a straight face?

There was a squeal of delight from Silky, a shout from Moon-Face, and a clatter of pans from Saucepan.
"We're coming, we're coming!" yelled Moon-Face.  "We've got a rope to come up by.  We shan't be long.  Is the hole big enough to squeeze through?"
 "Not yet," shouted back Jo.  "But the woodpeckers are just going to set to work again, and they'll soon have made it bigger."


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Camping Adventures ..... 2 kids, 2 adults .... no car - A packing checklist.

Please note this picture is
from a camping trip WITH a car!
Impossible I hear you cry.... and you know what that's pretty much the reaction I always receive when I mention it..... which is why I am even more determined to make it work lol.

I'm not mad or crazy, we're only planning 2 nights not a week but if we can go on a caravan holiday with a weeks worth (plus extras)  of clothes etc for 2 adults and 2 children (right from when they were babies) then I am pretty confident we can do 2 night camping.

We have the tent (bought last year on a really good offer) including airbeds (4) and sleeping bags (4).  over the last year tho the kids have got new sleeping bags (Spiderman!) which are smaller and lighter (bonus).

We made the decision to have a real 'basics' camping experience.  Personally I would have happily taken the tent up a fell (like when I was at uni) but apparently you aren't supposed to do that any more so I looked around for a 'real site'.  As we don't have electric hook up facilities we don't need an electric pitch (please don't die on me phone/ camera) and I wasn't paying for a cable just for phones and cameras, not to mention their weight.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Dubious directions from Google....

So I've been sat trying to work out what we can do over the next 2 weeks.  There are sooo many places I want to go but we can't justify the price of hotels so it looks like as many 1 day trips as possible.  This really means a maximum of 2 hours each way (anything longer than an hour gets hubby swearing).

So I wondered just how long it would take from Sheffield to Windermere, so I could go back to my uni haunts.

Last time I used google it didn't have trains on it so I was surprised earlier on to find you can now look them up on it (and it's great cause it tells you the trains destimation, vital for departure boards).  however after these directions I'm beginning to reconsider......

Friday, 15 August 2014

Flashback Friday - Slap Bands/ bracelets

So today I got a reallly exciting parcel from RNLI, and... without giving too much away right now ... it took me back to the exciting fashion accessory of the late 80's/ early 90's .... Slap bands/ bracelets.

I remember the fun we had.... until they got banned... of taking these bands made of layered, flexible stainless steel bistable spring bands sealed within a fabric cover into school and hitting them against the forearm which caused the bands to spring back into a curve and wrap around the wrist, securing the bracelet to the wearer.  Once coiled you could easily straighten it out and start again.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

London Underground update

My last London Underground update was 9th July ..

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tuneful Tuesday - Friend Like Me

One of the best Disney songs ever, performed by the fantastic Robin Williams

Well Ali Baba had them forty thieves 

Scheherezad-ie had a thousand tales 
But master you in luck 'cause up your sleeves 
You got a brand of magic never fails 
You got some power in your corner now 
Some heavy ammunition in your camp 
You got some punch, pizzazz, yahoo and how 
See all you gotta do is rub that lamp 
And I'll say 

Friday, 8 August 2014


Wow another weeks gone by and I've hardly posted anything, reason being I've been trying to get the parents and in-laws photobooks done before the voucher runs out at the end of the month.  They are big ones at 100 pages each and are covering 5 years of photos, and I will be posting a review of my latest Albelli one very soon.... hopefully next week.

Then I've been selling things, Preloved are running a competition where whoever posts the most ads gets a prize (selected high performing members) so last weekend I had a massive clearout and lists tons of stuff, I made £60 so far and lots and lots are still listed for sale, mainly on my Preloved site but also on facebook pages and a local forum group as well as Gumtree.  I may have to branch back into the world of vista street and friday ads but I've never had a great response from them in the past so am loath to waste my time.   I really want to avoid ebay (not sold on it for a year now) as theirs fees are extortionate and it's farr to easy to get scammed by people now with ebay taking their side.

If you know of any good sites please let me know - the easier it is to put an ad on the better :)

What else is on my to-do list for this weekend?   Well I need to
- pop to farm foods for some more Ben and Jerry's raspberry and chocolate frozen yogurt - at £1 a tub you can't buy cheaper and it's AMAZING.
- sit Ben down to actually fill in his Summer holiday scrapbook so far before he forgets what he's done the last 3 weeks (wow that's flown by).
- try to work out what we are going to do with our 2 weeks holiday at the end of the month.  I was hoping for a caravan holiday but we can't afford £350+ for 3 nights away - that's extortion.  Looks like it'll be a few nights in a travelodge somewhere in the UK where I can still get rooms for less then £40 a night.
- work out how much it would cost to post some of the smaller items and update the items descriptions to include this (as much as I hate having to post things).
- clear out a few more bits (maybe)

but for now I need to get breakfasts and make a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

No Doubt - Don't Speak

A trip back to 1996 this week (I was still at school), and No Doubt's "Don't Speak"

Saturday, 2 August 2014

"There's 2 Kippers mummy!"

I took the boys to Meadowhall today as I found out Kipper the dog would be at Waterstones.  This was greeted with lots of "yays" from the boys who dislike the Meadowhall crowds as much as me and can normally only be got through the doors with bribery of going to the Lego shop.

They ran to him and said "hi", some hi-fives and a picture opportunity and went away happy...........

Friday, 1 August 2014

Flashback Friday - Portland Bill

Oh come with me to the rolling sea
While the weathers calm and still.
And we'll have some fun and laughter with
The adventures of Portland Bill.

This animation aired in 1983 (as I was only born in 1982 and remember it fondly I guess it was repeats that I remember). It featured 26 x 11 minute programmes, each programme consisting of 2 x 5 min episodes.
Portland Bill is the keeper of the Trinity House lighthouse, on Guillermot Rock, he is ably assisted (or not) by red-capped Ross and goatee bearded Cromarty. Lets not forget Dogger - Bill's pet pooch.

300 picture book challenge - July Update


We are still plowing through The Enchanted Wood trilogy .......

  • The Magic Faraway Tree - 34 -50  (book 2 in trilogy)
  • Thomas -  The Spring Surprise
  • Mr Men - Mr Strong
  • Topsy and Tim: Doctor
  • Topsy and Tim: camping
  • Peppa Pig: Tooth Fairy
  • Oxford Reading Tree: The Snowman
  • Oxford Reading Tree: I can trick a tiger

23 this month  (I am counting 1 chapter as equivalent to 1 book) 

Total: 206/300