Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Big Beaver (Scouts) Postcard Swap - part 2

A month ago I wrote about finding some swaps for our Beaver Postcard Swap to mark 30 years of Beavers being recognised in Scouting.  You can find it here.  As part of this I mentioned that Stress Free Printing were doing us a huge favour and printing our postcards free of charge, as a charity (not many people know that) this meant a lot to us as stamps alone will be setting us back a few quid (around £20 by my estimate as some are going overseas).    

Not only did they print them by Kev couldn't have been more helpful.  We knew from the outset that we wanted to design our own postcard showing all the fun things our colony do,  I'm used to doing all this online but with Stress Free Print you send them your design.  I decided to use Publisher to create our design in but when I sent them the image they let me know that it wouldn't have made a good postcard as it wasn't a high enough resolution.  Fortunately Kev was on hand to let me know which programme they use (yes, if you send them your images they will put them together for you!) and kept checking that I was ok and whether I needed any more support to create the design.  It was like having my own consultant, and a virtual kick up the bum :)

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Review: Lapland Mailroom

There are plenty of Christmas websites where you can ask Santa to send your children a letter, this year Santa contacted me and asked us to return to the Lapland Mailroom, after last year I couldn't say no.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Review: The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

"Amanda was dead"
Like most (strange) 7 year olds this opening line was enough to draw Ben into The Imaginary, a world of love, loss, new starts, old endings and imagination.

Amanda, like most children has a best friend, Rudger,  She found him one day in her wardrobe and he becomes her companion, there for all her adventures, dangers and challengers.  Amanda's mother is quite accepting of Rudger, her friends less so.  You see only Amanda can see him, he doesn't exist.  At least Amanda thinks only she can see him until one day Mr Bunting arrives informing her he hunts imaginaries and knows about Rudger.  With the rumour being that Mr Bunting eats them Rudger finds himself alone and running for his imaginary life.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Christmas: Book Advent

This has become another tradition in our house. We've gathered books as we go along and add new ones each year.

Every day in December the kids open a parcel and we share that book.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Christmas Craft: Melted Snowman Biscuits

I saw these going around the internet on various sites and we had to have a go too.  I'm terrible at making dough - I've lost count of how many gingerbread men got binned as it wouldn't roll, I even burnt homemade playdough!!! So thought it best to buy some rich tea biscuits...... except I forgot and ended up hunting the internet for an easy recipe even I couldn't mess up, and it worked, the biscuits were perfect (well they could have done with more flavour but hey ho can't win 'em all).

These biscuits are perfect for cookie cutters as they do not get any bigger during the cooking process (yes I have also made GIANT cookies after forgetting this detail!)

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Christmas: Portable North Pole (PNP)

If you've never set foot in the Portable North Pole (and I cannot believe after raving about it every December I am still finding people I know who don't know about it!!) then get ready to step into Santa’s enchanted universe. A virtual gateway that reveals stories about the North Pole that now, thanks to the PNP Console and the power of the Internet, are available for all the world to share.

PNP is now in its 8th year and I've been using it for the last 7! Every year the videos get better and better with new scenarios year on year.  A few years ago you'd have never caught me spending money on a message from Santa but this is worth every penny when you see the look on your child's face.. there is a free version as well.

Friday, 27 November 2015

12 days of (Lush) Christmas

This year Lush have released their 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calender which looks amazing.  But I thought I'd create my own version of the song.......

On the twelfth day of Christmas Lush treated me to 12 Candy Mountains

Thursday, 26 November 2015

A Vintage Christmas Party for our Elderly in Sheffield

I stumbled across this lovely idea last week and contacted Sarah with an offer of help from me and my boys.  We'll be popping along to set up and support through the evening and the boys have a huge stack of cardboard ready to make some Christmas cards to take along.

Woking in the public, elderly, sector I come across those who are alone not just at Christmas but during the year. They love to talk and share their experiences, I can't contemplate how hard it must be to spend Christmas on your own with no family or friends.

If you are in Sheffield and free on the 13th December, please consider volunteering your time to help Sarah.

There are also limited spaces left for guests, so if you know of an elderly person who may be spending Christmas home alone who would like to attend please get in contact with Sarah,

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Recipe: MInce Meals

Gosh it is SOO cold.  My hands are going numb just typing this.  If you're anything like me money is getting tighter with Christmas presents, school events, Beaver events and work outings to pay for that the food shopping budget feels the cut.

I'm really lucky that the kids have discovered they like mince.  Normally I buy the stores value range but last month I found Aldi mince was better value and tasted so much nicer so whenever I'm near one of their stores I pop in and stock up.

Here's some cheap meals that can be rattled off using it that will keep everyone warm, full and the purse strings happy.  Do you have a favourite mince meal?

Shepherds/ Cottage pie.
Mince cooked up with any vegetable you like topped with mash potato.  We like to sprinkle with cheese before browning under the grill.

recipe here

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Big Beaver (Scouts) Postcard Swap

2016 sees Beaver (Scouts) 30th anniversary - 30 years of being recognised as an official Scouting unit, they have in reality been running a lot longer then that.

To celebrate the Scouting movement  is doing .... nothing.  So a group of leaders called the 1st Facebook Beaver Colony have arranged a postcard swap.  The leaders have, between them, messaged 30 other colony leaders within the group who they will send a postcard too, getting one back in return.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Body Shop at Christmas

Last week Sophie at The Body Shop in Meadowhall invited Sheffield Bloggers to a closed door event where we could try their newly launched make up range for Christmas as well as their everyday body products.

It was love at first sniff when I discovered their Glazed Apple range and even more excited when I found out the body mist and lotion had glitter in.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Only a Leader ..........

Someone brought this to my attention this week and I love it.

For all you Beaver/ Cub/ Scout/ Rainbow/ Brownie/ Guide etc leaders out there who sometimes feel unappreciated ......
          .... or when you are looking at the training manual going "I do that - I shouldn't have to prove it!  :)

Dont judge scouting til you read this....

We are only leaders - we are not experts – we are your next-door neighbours – we are not perfect we are parents just like you. We don’t have any more spare time or energy than you do, we all work full time and juggle out families and our schedules and try to keep it all together as best we can.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Christmas Craft: Paper Plate Trees

We're making this one at Beavers as part of our Christmas Craft night so thought I'd share it with you as it's so quick and easy but looks fab.

Take a paper plate and paint it green.
Tip: If you use sponges and some different shades of green then it looks more 'leafy'.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Event: The Cake and Bake Show

You may have already read my post about my trip to Manchester last week for the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, which this year had decided to co-locate with the Cake and Bake Show.   This post is all about the Cake and Bake Show element of the day, as my first visit to one of these I really enjoyed it, although it was a little smaller than I expected.

Here are my highlights.

The Great British Bake Off Live

We were lucky enough to see Flora Shedden from this years GBBO cook her Sugar Free Pistachio and Apple Cake.  She gave a brilliant demonstration and answered questions.    There were some TV's so you could see what was going on on the stage.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Event: The Ideal Home Show at Christmas

Last week my mum babysat while myself and hubby took ourselves off to Manchester for the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, which this year had decided to co-locate with the Cake and Bake Show.   With hundreds of cooking at Christmas ideas to explore of course I had to go.



There was so much to see and do, 4 different stages of talks and demonstrations that fitting it all in was going to be tight, so I had to be selective.  Here's my favourite things that grabbed my attention from the Ideal Home Show at Christmas (I'll add another post for some top pics from the Cake and Bake Show).


If like me you get bored of looking at the same pictures on your wall Spacerframe have the solution - an innovative picture framing system which uses clear acrylic pockets.   The frames are fitted with a specially formulated re-positional self-adhesive tape, giving you the flexibility of being able to move and reposition your display.  They also have a spacing tool which means you can consistently space your frames with your choice of either a 10mm or 30mm gap and enables you to ensure that your frames are always level by using the spirit level incorporated in the tool.

Spacerframe's come in a variety of sizes too.

I wasn't allowed to buy any but have definitely added them to my Christmas wish list.

Check them out here:
Twitter: @Spacerframe1

Riverco Trading

I love furniture and this kids bench was soo cute (excuse the blurry picture).  At £199 it was a little out of our budget (and may have been interesting taking home on the train).

You can find them here:
Twitter: @RiverCoUk

sorry for the blurry picture, silly auto-focus/ broken screen camera

Bus Bar

The husband spotted this and told he to pick him up when I'd finished..... no chance .... who's carry my bags.

The Bus Bar Company own and operate two 1960’s Routemaster buses which have been converted to fully functional mobile bars.  They have a fully licensed mass serving bar on the lower deck and on the upper deck there is an open top hospitality seating area.  A great idea to book for a party as they are fully licensed, insured, come with all their own equipment and have hard working reliable staff on hand to take care of your event.

Their website is:
Twitter: @RoutemasterBar


The StudyBed is amazing.  I saw this in June and tried to explain it to the hubby, but this time he could see it with his own eyes.

The StudyBed combines a full-size bed with a very large desk and converts quickly and easily in just a few seconds without the need to remove any items off the desk nor any of the bedding.

The boys are in bunk beds at the moment but what a great idea for when they are older.

Twitter: @StudyBeds

Christmas Theatre - Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Laurence was back for the Christmas show to tell us how to decorate our trees and tables in a coordinating but nontraditional way using wallpaper as a starting point.
I was sceptical but the results really worked and I came away with loads of ideas to try from snow in baubles to home-made crackers and napkin rings.

A great day out and have promised my mum she can come along with me next year.

Disclaimer:  I was offered a pair of tickets to the Ideal Home Show, Manchester in return for writing a couple of posts,  All opinions are my own, the companies mentioned are my own selection and have not been consulted about this post.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Tesco 60-Minute Roast Challenge

I love a Roast Dinner, however it's not always been that way.  Sure when I lived at home my mum cooked one every weekend but when I moved away to uni they went by the way.  I worked on a Sunday and even if I didn't there was no point making a roast just for me.  The only Roast Dinner I remember having during my time there was Christmas Day in my second year when I worked at the pub my boyfriend (now husband) worked in, it was a great community experience and a fab roast.

Then I moved in with my husband and for some reason I forgot about Sunday Dinner, we would have just 'normal' food (mainly because he worked on a Sunday).  Fast forward a couple of years and I fell pregnant with Ben, by month 3 I was having the strongest cravings for chicken to the point where I bought one on my way home one night .... then realised I didn't know where to start with cooking it.

I soon learnt, and over the next 5 years added beef and pork to my repertoire.  Lamb will always remain my favourite but my husband doesn't like it so I can't cook it :(  .

Christmas Dinner

Over the Summer our Sunday Roasts have remained, but only once every 4 weekends, the rest have been filled with salad, pizza or other 'treat' nights.  But the nights are drawing in and my urge to spend Sundays in a warm kitchen cooking a roast are slowly returning.... but life takes hold and before I know it I have half a day and no inspiration  so need quick meals I can whip up in a hurry.

To help British families make the most of their roasts this autumn, Tesco has teamed up with a selection of chefs and foodies, including TV personality and home cook Nadia Sawalha, who will share their favourite recipes and tips for creating the perfect weekend showstopper, they have also asked bloggers to get involved and attempt the 60-Minute Roast Challenge.  I was a bit apprehensive when my invitation came through as normally my roasts take about 2 hours to cook.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Review: The Nonsense Show - Eric Carle

My boys talk gobbledegook on a daily basis, they are extremely creative and have fantastic imaginations and they both love to read. Noah was really excited therefore when a book arrived for him (normally the books are afrom Penguin Random House, The Nonsense Show.  This book really made the boys laugh out loud as they read it from cover to cover and then started again.

Saturday, 31 October 2015


This year saw the return of Out Of This World to Sheffield city centre, the boys love to have their faces painted so I got the face paints and asked what they wanted.

Noah went with someone very close to his heart, someone that suits his personality down to a T .... Sadness!!

Ben wanted Iron Man, I've done this a few times now so getting a little better at it - but I always need to copy an online example to get it right.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Christmas: Advent Calendars

It's almost the first of November and that means only 4 weeks to get an Advent Calendar in.  Every year I look for one that we would all love, every year I refuse to spend too much money, and every year we tend to end up with about 4!

Here's my favourites from those I've spotted so far, please share your finds in the comments.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Ideal Home Show At Christmas, Manchester

4 months ago I was packing my day bag and heading off to Manchester for the Ideal Home Show, I was just a little (ok a lot) excited.

I had a great time, looking at homeware stalls, watching celebrities in the Ideal Super Theatre where I learnt about colour, organisation and clutter.  I came away with plenty of ideas to re-decorate my new home, I'm just waiting for the money fairy to drop by. You can find out more about the brands I saw over here.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A night in with Lush

There's few shops I enjoy going in but as you've probably gathered from my blog Lush is one of them. I can't fault the staff at Meadowhall, whenever I go in with the boys they spot the frazzled look a mile off and take the boys to investigate a bath bomb or two while I have a good look.  So I was really excited to be invited to their special VIP night to celebrate the opening of their new store (still in Meadowhall but a but further along).

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Review: Brewers Fayre

I used to love Brewers Fayre when I was living at home, we used to have one on the doorstep (and conveniently one that my sister went on to get a job at).  We moved to Sheffield and visited a couple but they gradually got taken over by another company until there are none left.
  When FrankPR asked us to try out their new Autumn menu I was, initially, disappointed at the thought of having to turn down such a great offer but then remembered we were off to Chesterfield at the weekend for Ben's Birthday and they have a lovely Brewers Fayre, Lock Keeper, which sits near the Chesterfield Canal and is only a short walk from the bus stop.

So presents opened we set off for Chesterfield, Ben had no idea what we were doing so we headed off for a little walk along the canal path before turning round and making our way to the Brewers Fayre, which is conveniently sited next door to the Premier Inn if you ever stay there.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Review: LEGO® Awesome Ideas Book

When I was little I spent hours and hours with my LEGO box building multi-coloured house after multi-coloured house.  The base was a thick green rectangle (what's happened to them now?) and then I built up the walls with any and every colour I had with some windows nice and evenly dotted around then another green block on top.  We didn't have a 'set' that I can remember so had to be creative.


Not like now, the boys have tons of sets, fire stations, police stations, train stations, numerous vehicles and a proper house, not to mention a harbour and Hulks Hellicarrier.

Sadly as the models get broken up (as they do with a 7 and 4 year old) they don't always get rebuilt, as this happens all our pieces go into storage drawers.


Then we moved house and decided that would be a perfect sort out opportunity, well we got part way, we started to bag up the sets but only managed a few.

Now the instructions are all boxed away as we are re-decorating the boys rooms and (after climbing over boxes) I was able to bring their LEGO downstairs to play with, but they were lost.  You see that's the problem with buying sets now, my boys don't have the experience of building for the fun of building.  Which was why it was perfect timing for the DK LEGO® Awesome Ideas* book to land on our doorstep.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Christmas: The list you never knew you needed....

As Christmas fast approaches it's time to look at those gifts that you've only realised you need now you know they exist.

For years people have lived a happy existence 'making do' and just muddling through life but now there are gadgets to do those jobs and we wonder just how did we ever live without them,  Or fun things to make life just the little bit more interesting.

Here's my top tips of what to buy the person who has everything....

Stainless Steel Egg Topper
or "Egg scissors" as they have become known in our house.

No more holding your egg still in the egg cup while you battle with a knife to chop the top off this little gadget will snip it off for you.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Review: Pan

Second star to the right and straight on 'till morning

 We all know the story, Peter and Tinkerbell go to London, the Darlings visit Neverland, the villainous Captain Hook must be overthrown.....
..... but do you know what happened before this?  How did Peter become a Lost Boy in Neverland?  When did Peter and Tinkerbell become friends? How do they know Captain Hook?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Reusable bags

I've been planning for a world of reusable bags for a while, I love them.  What I mean by that is I love how pretty they are and the different designs you can get..... I tend to forget that the point of them is to take them shopping with me.... oh well a great excuse to buy another one :)

With the 5p bag 'tax' now in force across England, joining Scotland and Wales, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring you my run down of reusable bags (in no particular order).

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Review: The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed

It's been 10 months since we reviewed the other Dinosaur that Pooped books and they still make an appearance on a daily basis, Noah (4) especially loves them, I often find him curled up under the covers with them in bed when he should be asleep.  He was super excited when I told him Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter has released a new one - The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed.

Lush: October haul

This week Lush launched their Halloween and Christmas goodies, there were soo many lovely new releases, including the return of some from last year, that I could justify buying them all.

Here's what I picked........

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Blogging Event: Lands' End with Joe Blogs

Friday night was like any normal night, I'd put the finishing touches to be shopping delivery, tucked the boys up in bed and put TV on, planning what to do the next day..... Lego was featuring pretty highly...... then Joe Blogs posted about an event, in Leicester and the lovely Amanda sent us an invite.  After a quick check of trains I decided to brave the journey, we quite often do Manchester (an hour away) so in reality by this was only an extra half hour - what could go wrong.

I packed a bag of spare clothes, activity books, story books, crayons and Bananagrams ready for an early departure Saturday morning..... and re-booked my shopping order.

Saturday morning the boys woke up and got ready with minimal fuss and we headed for the station, tickets purchased we dashed to buy pastry goodness for breakfast ......

But I won't bore you with details of our journey, but we made our connection and got to Oakham an hour early.  We had a little trip up and over the train bridge - it was a great view.  Then had a little wonder around the village before heading to the 'park' for a sit down, snack and drink.  We then set off for Lands' End HQ (next to their outlet centre).