Sunday, 31 May 2015

I'm still here......

Yes, despite my best attempts to move house I am now having to unpack boxes as I go along due to still not having a completion date,

As you will know moving out has been a contentious point for us.  Our new house contracts keep being delayed and we have made both our landlord and Blundells aware ever since our notice of tenancy ending came through that we would not be out by the date given.   All along they have said that's not a problem and, up until 3 weeks ago, we were told we'd be able to stay here as long as required (long story).  Come the week of the tenancy ending and they took back this word and expected us to move out.  Well like it or not they were not making 2 small children homeless so we went .... no where... and still remain in the property  and will do until the keys for the new place come through.  We have offered to pay the landlord rent (we have tried to keep this an amicable situation all along) but as we currently have no legal contract this is impossible.

With no clear completion date I am already feeling as disorganised as can be.  My "who to contact list" is impossible to do as how can I give someone my new address or re-arrange my utilities when the papers haven't been signed yet?

So you can imagine my surprise the other week to have a voicemail left from Yorkshire Water telling
me Spark Energy had called them on my behalf (a company I had never heard of) to tell them my
husband was moving out and could I confirm that I was too.  Either way they had stopped my account with them and could they have my forwarding address to send the refund too.

ERMMM - is someone winding me up????????

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Go Dad Run 2015

Everyone knows about the pink runs that occur for breast cancer but until today I'd never heard of Go
Dad Run. This is a series of 5k runs for men and boys, helping to raise funds and awareness of Prostate Cancer UK.

This year, the 5k runs will take place in six cities across the UK, so it’s easy for anyone to get involved. They’ll be in:
Worcester - June 14th
Bristol - June 18th
Warrington - June 14th
Llangefni - June 7th
London and Cardiff will both be on Fathers Day - Sunday 21st June.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Moving House: Packing

I've touched on this subject in other posts but it really deserves to have one all of it's own.... after all I'd say a good 70% of the things you have to do is pack.

Speaking from experience there is nothing worse then bad packing.  Last time we moved we thought "how hard can this moving thing be?!".  combine that with 2 small children, parents who work 7 days a week between them and no one on the scene to babysit and actually it becomes a pretty big challange.

We bought loads of those huge re-useable bags from Tesco, Hobbycraft and other various locations and, along with lots of nappy boxes basically stuffed them to the top with books.

Then we got loads of re-usable plastic crates and filled them with anything we could find as we went along.

There was no method to the 'packing', no consideration of where it'll go the other end (I labelled a couple of boxes) in fact there was no planning went into anything.

Clothes were pretty much left on  hangers and dumped in a corner to go.

lampshades, lights, and anything to big for a box well they landed in another pile.

Then hubby told me a week before we got the keys that he couldn't get the day off work to help me move house!  But it was ok because he had around 5 friends and our neighbours to help (one who had a van).

So on the day of the move (with no one in sight) I set off with the boys to get the keys ..... and wait for someone to come and help move.  (but anyway that's another story in itself)  Lets just say moving day (which turned into moving week) was a complete and utter disaster and had me crying in many many corners.   Had the packing been done properly it would have been a far smoother operation.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Make it: Turkey Twirls

Lots of things recently have had be reaching for the past and none more so then the other day when someone mentioned those immortal words "Turkey Twizzlers".  Produced by Bernard Matthews back in 2005, when your school dinner cost 45p a day, these yummy items were removed from schools and discontinued because Jamie Oliver branded them unhealthy.
  Excitement mounted in this house when, in 2014, Bernard Matthews applied to trademark "Oliver Twists" which sounded very similar, there doesn't appear to have been any movement since unfortunately.

So it got me thinking... how hard can they really be to make? They were basically turkey (34%) and 39 other ingredients (approx) including water, pork fat, rusk, wheat starch, three sweeteners, hardened or hydrogenated vegetable oil, colourings and flavourings. OK so mine will have to be a bit healthier then them
  Obviously Turkey Twizzlers would be trademarked so Ben re-named our version "Turkey Twirls".

Friday, 22 May 2015

Lush: Brightside Bubble Bar

Do you remember Christmas when my hubby brought me some Lush treats but they'd accidentally been labelled up wrong?  Read about it here.  Well I have finally got around to trying Brightside out for myself and all the lovely stories I've heard about it were ohh so true.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tesco Orchard Review: Ice Cream - Pigs in Mud

For years I scoffed at Ben and Jerry's - seriously who pays that sort of money for ice cream I thought (can you tell I am a budgeting queen?) ....... then I tried some and my heart screamed out for more.

I don't eat a lot of ice cream and therefore when I do I treat myself to some 'posh' ice cream, unfortunately for me the kids also like it so I need to **shudders** share.   You can therefore imagine I was pretty chuffed when Tesco asked if I would like to try their ice cream range... and when I found they now did their own Limited Edition 'posh' ice cream "Pigs in Mud" why I bought us a tub.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Moving House: Books for kids

As I mentioned in my post about preparing children for a house move (here) one of the ways is to read stories with young children as a way to discuss their feelings and concerns.
My boys are HUGEEE Topsy and Tim fans so when we discovered "Topsy and Tim Move House" it was an instant addition to our collection.

Topsy and Tim: Move House (Ladybird)
Join Topsy and Tim as they prepare to move house with Mummy and Dad. In Topsy and Tim Move House, the twins are moving house but there is a lot of work to do. There are curtains to take down, toys to pack and pets to look after. It is an exciting time for Topsy and Tim, but Kitty, their cat, isn't quite so sure about the move...

But this got me thinking - what other books are there around?
Here's some of the ones we found - perhaps you have some other tried and tested suggestions?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Made In Sheffield: Marco's

I remember in March 2014 when I found out Sheffield was getting a Marco's, a family-friendly New York Italian restaurant by celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White.  Despite many many hints at my husband he didn't take the bait and over a year later I am still trying to persuade him to take me.  You see he's picky ... really picky - if there is a danger food may have any flavour to it you can be pretty confident it'll be too posh for him.  So when Marco's asked us to join them for their Share Sunday's launch I was like an over excited child (not least of all because I love roast dinners, especially one's I've not cooked myself), unfortunately for him he couldn't get time off work which meant more amazing food for me and the kids.

Marco's has taken the notion of sharing good food with friends and family from across the seas and bringing it to the UK.  They are combining great fine dining with bringing people together over a British favourite - the much loved Sunday roast.  It was a really great opportunity to talk to the kids.  Sunday Dinner at home is the only night in the week the 4 of us sit around a table.  Unfortunately this has the downside of being in the evening when daddy gets in from work so it's very much a rush job before bed.  We were in Marco's for approx an hour and a half, it was relaxed but not a slow service.

From the minute we entered I was a little concerned, although I have taken the boys to eat out many times this restaurant was something else and I was really worried about the kids getting bored and showing off.  Fortunately though Marco's was buzzing and there were plenty of children around enjoying sharing a Sunday platter with their families.   Despite a packed restaurant service was quick and pleasant leaving the boys very little time to debate their next course of mischief.  They were also given colouring pictures and pencils to keep them occupied and loved designing their own Pizzas.

Let me take you through their Sharing Platters from the beginning.......

Monday, 18 May 2015

Top Tip for Moving #4: Keep a note of things to remember

This is a great time from Big Yellow Self Storage.  Once all the memo boards have been packed up you may still need to make notes of things to remember.

Put some string through a roll of paper and hang on a hook.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Book Review: The Maloney's Magical Weatherbox.

Where you one of those kids who liked to write short stories?  So was Nigel Quinlan, as a teenager he used to mind his parents' petrol pumps, one day he decided to write a short story about ..... a phone box.  But not any old phonebox  - the one halfway down his street, next to the Post Office in his little village of Murroe in the Irish south-west.   As he grew up he worked in libraries and bookshops but his love of writing never went away, creating stories for local festivals and acts with the local drama group.   But his short story idea never went away and has now become his first novel The Maloney's Magical Weatherbox.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Moving House: Involving your children before the move

My boys are really looking forward to moving house, probably because it's to a familiar location (road we used to live on) and closer to their schools so aside from a new house nothing else will really change for them.  We've involved them along the way, making no secret of the fact we are looking for a new house and for Noah (4 years old) he's even been able to come along on viewings with us.  However it can be stressful and distressing if children are leaving their friends, schools or a home that they've always known (we've only lived here 18 months), it's a great idea to ease them in gently and keep them involved before the move.

A lot of the moving tips below are useful whether moving small distances like 2 miles up the road or longer ones, such as trekking across oceans.
  Hope they help.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Ideal Home Show (Manchester)

60's poster
It's not often an opportunity pops into my inbox and makes me eeek and rush to my manager asking for the day off (yes I have to work a real full time job and blog on the sidelines).... even more rare is for her to say "yes".... so now I can tell you the exciting news (if you've not guessed from the title of the post) .... I'm off to the Ideal Home Show in Manchester on 4th June.
 And it couldn't have come at a better time as by then I'll either be living in a new house or in a cardboard box on the street corner (depending when the contracts are completed) and will need some inspiration for making the property into our home.

1983 poster
Technically the show has been going since 1908 (formally called the Ideal Home Exhibition) based at Olympia in London.   It's always been the leader when it comes to showcasing new inventions or home improvements - the toaster and electric kettle (1920), the microwave (1947) and the electric grass mower (1970). The show has also been at the forefront of environmental concerns, unveiling the first 'energy efficient kitchen' in 1989 and in 1997 a rainforest was created and visitors could experience a tropical downpour every hour from the shelter of a tree house.    Despite changing ownership from the Daily Mail to Media 10 in 2008 it has continued to bring in the crowds.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

May: life update

EEKK moving day is getting closer..... well ok eviction day is getting closer and we are still waiting for confirmation the keys to the new house will be ready.

I'm now heading into panic mode as I have not organised any transfer of utilities or paperwork due to the above hanging uncertainties and no doubt we will be stuck with no virgin media for weeks and random gas/ electricity suppliers for a while,  due to having to arrange it at the last minute.

I KNEW this would happen - so much for my great organisational skills!  And the worst thing - I'm not in control and hubby doesn't care!

I'm really sorry to anyone I'm boring with talk of moving and packing and stressing, normal service will be resumed just as soon as it's stopped taking over my life.  I've a few reviews coming up for you over the next couple of weeks and really excited to be invited to Marco's restaurant in Sheffield on Sunday to sample their menu.  Marco Pierre White is right up there with blokes who scare me but I can't help looking up to and although he won't be there :( I have been told some fantastic thinks about his restaurant.  I've also been invited to The Ideal Home Show and having to work on my manager to give me the day off work.

Top Tip for Moving #3: Label your cables

This is a fab tip from the team at Big Yellow Storage Company that is soo simple ..........

Monday, 11 May 2015

Top Tip for Moving #2: Load the tape gun correctly

Hubby (being the man) decided it was his job to load the tape gun for sealing the moving boxes.  Of course instructions were not required, this was a simple gadget and easy peesy to load....... so why did it not appear to work very smoothly?  The tape literally stuck to the rollers and surly not how this was supposed to put together.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Microwave "Jaffa Cake" Cake

Last weekend we decided it was time for baking,.. but what.  Then inspiration hit, how about a hugeee Jaffa Cake.  So I set about seeing how other people did it.

But then I remembered I don't 'do' baking (because my oven hates cakes).  So I set about thinking ... I am positive this can be done in the microwave.

Here's how we did it (over 2 days).

Friday, 8 May 2015

Top Tip for Moving #1: Eat a good breakfast

Whether it's the day of the move or just a day of packing everything in sight it's a great idea to start with a good breakfast..... hey who am I kidding - any day is a good day to start with a full cooked breakfast.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Moving: Big Yellow Self Storage

I have to say the biggest thank you to these guys for assisting with my house move.  As we all know one of the perils of packing is ....... well ..... packing.  What boxes do you use?  How full do you fill them?  How many will you need? 
    And the ultimate test ........ will they withstand the move?!

Last time we moved we didn't exactly 'pack' we more threw things in anything we had available.  Noah was little and still in Nappies so the majority of our possessions were packed in Pampers/ Huggies boxes.  Which were really strong - but small.  They were great for moving smaller items like those cables you never use or books or socks but not really great for anything larger.  How did we overcome this?  We brought more boxes .... but not cardboard ones as hubby decided if we got lots of plastic ones we can put our stuff in them then re-use them at the new house.  Except  for one little flaw - the boxes almost all got damaged, either because they were overfull or due to being dropped/ bashed.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Moving House: Changing your address

So much to do...... so little time.....
  ....... I've made mine into a word document with my supplier and the cancellation/ change of address method that I need to use.

But I thought I'd post a basic list here........ Have I missed anything??

Last time we moved I was so busy I didn't get round to changing any addresses.  Fortunately I subscribed to the Royal Mail redirection service (fees apply).  Unfortunately for me this was rubbish and I know of at least 15 items (I know of) that they delivered to our old property that I was managed to get back.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Moving House: A quick guide.

So technically we are going to be renting again but with the really weird twist that we've been involved with the buying side of moving house too.

It's stressful but in a completely different way, I have no control over anything.  I cannot go and shout at someone when they take too long completing paperwork, I am entirely at the mercy of our friends solicitors.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Family and Friends Railcard

We love our Family and Friends Railcard, for just £30 a month you can save ££ when travelling with a child by train.

The card is designed so that up to 4 adults and 4 children (5-15) can save money, 1/3 off an adults ticket and 60% off kids - not just on the day but booking in advance too.
The savings really add up.... for example:

If me the 4 of us, 2 adults and 2 children were to go to Legoland in Manchester today the return tickets would cost £54.90.  This is reduced to £31.20 with a railcard (saving: £23.70 .... that's the card almost paid for in one go).

Now assume next month we were going to Alton Towers and staying over night.  The return tickets (if booked today) would cost Uttoxter would cost £81.60, this is taken down to £46.20 with a railcard.  (saving: £35,40)

Feeling flush we may decide to go to Chessington in the summer holiday (hey I can dream). Booking in advance, including underground trains,  we are looking at £243.90 (EEEEKKKKK) we can take this down to £138.20 using a railcard  - A saving of £105.70.  

In 3 trips this £30 card has saved us £164.80!!!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Lush: May Day

This bath bomb is so cute, resembling a badger, it also smells amazing ..... just like sherbet lemons.  And if there's one thing you know about me I'm one for re-living my childhood through sights and smells.   In addition to this though for every one of these fruity, sweet-smelling bath bombs that's sold, all the proceeds (minus the VAT) will go towards the groups behind the Votes For Animals campaign giving animals a voice this election: Animal Aid, The League Against Cruel Sports, and Save Me.   So you can relax knowing you are supporting a great cause with your purchase.