Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Getting into the Halloween Spirit...

I'm not really one for anything where I feel I "have" to celebrate. Christmas is a bit of a chore for me and Halloween is certainly not something I would ever normally bother with. However, "normally" doesn't really come into it anymore, since I have two children who love any excuse for a party! Rather than go trick-or-treating (which is more than I could bear) we took the children over to my brother's house on Sunday for some good old fashioned party games. I thought I'd share some of those ideas here as the games were really easy to organise and we did have loads of fun!

1. Pumpkin carving competition! Asda are selling two pumpkins for £3, so I dutifully bought two plus two pumpkin carving kits (which were £1 each). My sister in law and hubby carved a pumpkin out each in record time and then we had a judging session to see whose was the best. After a few tears and tantrums (mine) we decided that the two pumpkins were "equally good". It was just easier.
Hello Jack

Pumpkin carving tool.
2. Hide the mini skeletons. These are £1 for eight in a packet, what money well spent it was. My brother and I hid them around his house and the children ran round hysterically looking for them.  A few broke in the ongoing struggle, more tantrums.

It's funny, last night when I was in bed, I saw a weird glow coming from my dressing table, upon closer inspection I realised it was the skeletons! Yes they are even glow in the dark.

3. Disco dancing competition/musical statues/general exercise. Put together some Halloween related tracks, e.g. Thriller, Monster Mash, erm, a few more, and come up with new dance moves everyone has to copy. Happy days.

4. A variation on find the skeleton, buy some eye ball choccies (again from Asda) hide around the house and give each child their own bucket or bag to collect their looty in. Perfecto!

This bag was from Your Design, who personalised it for them, it would be great for Halloween parties and trick for treating, I'm going to keep it for years!

So my Halloween ideas are not very imaginative, what do you do in your family for Halloween?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Take time out with online bingo

 Image by chacrebleu 

 Being at home with the kids is great if you can manage it; fitting in work from home alongside being a great mum. But that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a break from the routine every now and then, whatever form that break may be.

Of course, it’s not always practical to go out and have time away from the kids – you have to arrange for someone else to look after them and if that’s not your partner or a friend, it probably means booking and paying for a babysitter. If you can take time out without leaving the children in someone else’s care, it gives you a chance to have a breather and then be refreshed to carry on being mum for the rest of the day. And there are lots of times during the day to do that. When they’re watching their favourite programme, do you have to watch it with them? What about when they’re having a nap? That time doesn’t have to always be taken up with chores. Fortunately for many of us at home today, we are never alone thanks to the Internet. It gives us a link to the outside world and a vast choice of entertainment that our mothers and their mothers could never have dreamt of. You can down tools at any time and find something to interest you on the Internet, whether it’s the news, gossip, shopping or gaming.

Now, while you may not see the value of games like Candy Crush Saga or Farmville, there are some games that, though simple, can be great value entertainment. Online bingo has become the game of choice for many people who just want something easy and entertaining to distract them for a few minutes, with the added incentive that they just might win an amazing amount of money while playing it! Since the game went online, it’s undergone a renaissance and is now really popular with hundreds of sites to choose from, each of them offering a wide selection of games and prizes. It’s so easy to start playing too.

You can play Costa Bingo’s online bingo now, whatever time it is and wherever you are. All you need to do is sign up and choose a game. You don’t even need to pay to play as there’ s a no-deposit bonus to take advantage of when you first sign up, and if you like what you find, you can then put down an initial deposit and the site will give you a 200% bonus – trebling your original amount. However small an amount you put in, an initial deposit and bonus will go a long way in bingo games – most of them are only pennies to play, and there are lots of free games on the schedules too. At Costa, you can even join in a weekly free game called Costa Crazy, which has a guaranteed £10,000 jackpot. Who’s not going to want to buy a ticket for that one?! Even if you don’t feel you have time to sit and play bingo, you can still buy a ticket for any game you’re interested in and it will play through automatically at the allotted time. Any wins you have will be automatically credited to your account, so you might get a nice surprise the next time you login. Playing bingo on a regular basis may not be right for you, but for a way to take five, it’s always a handy option!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Eco Stationery Review!

So after mulling over the spelling of stationery/stationary I think I've hit upon the correct one! I'm a big fan of nice stationery, but normally go for something very functional rather than girly, no need for all that fuss. Therefore I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review some fab eco stationery from Memo Etc. Memo etc sent me some lovely items from their new website's collection with many items from the Remarkable range. Many of the products are made from recycled material, which I love the idea of including a ruler and biodegradable pens! What's not to like?

Here's a piccy of the lovely looty...

Lovely Lot from Memo Etc
In my pack were lots of lovely notebooks with the covers made from recycled leather, a pencil case made from recycled tyres, the ruler and crayons as mentioned above and various other lovely bits and pieces. We all waded straight in, desperate to get what we each felt we needed!

Here's Son 1 using his leather notebook...
Leather notebook fun
He really loved the idea of having something so posh to draw his angry bird pictures in - it also kept him quiet for quite a while so we were all winners.

I was really impressed with the range - I thought the items were amazing quality and I really liked the fact that they had been recycled as it meant they were environmentally friendly which is something I think we should all be conscious of. I get so sick of all the packaging I seem to end up recycling each week so it was nice to think that something can be made from things like leather that we wouldn't naturally associate with recycling.

Overall I was really pleased with my lovely set and so were my boys! Winner!

These items were sent to me for free for the purpose of review but all thoughts are my own.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Awesome Competition - Best Driving Views!

Sometimes when we're driving about the Yorkshire countryside, I come across a view that I think is truly breathtaking. I sometimes see other people have pulled over to the side of the road with their cameras to get a better view. Once my parents did that and then submitted their photo to the local news station as they often put up viewers' photos during the weather, but it never got aired (!). A few years ago, I got a great shot of Mont St Michel in Brittany/Normandy when we were driving along, here is it...

Mont St Michel, Normandy/Brittany
I was actually really pleased with this photo as it can be hard to get good clear shots when you're driving. Mont St Michel is one of my most favourite places in France, it has to be one of the most atmospheric places in the world. Monks are singing, nuns are praying, it's mega steep, it really has everything. You can even get marooned on there by the tide if you go at the wrong time of day, awesome. It also has some nice restaurants so you can have a relaxing meal and take in the view. Happy days.

Anyway, if you have any good driving views, why not enter this fab competition with Carcraft? They are looking for great photos of driving views, but hurry, it ends today! Here is how you enter.

There are three methods to enter. You will get one entry per method, and you can enter using all three methods to get three entries. So if you do use all three methods, you will have a higher chance of winning!
• Email us your photo to marketing@carcraft.co.uk
• Tweet us your photo with the hashtag #VROOMwithaview
• Post your photo on your blog/website with a link back to the Carcraft website
Enter today! :)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

New Shopping Addiction Alert

Like many women, I enjoy sticking to my "mainstay" of shopping haunts. For me it will always be Oasis, Karen Millen, Baukjen, LK Bennett with a bit of M&S and Primark thrown in for good measure. Occasionally if I've enough time I'll pop into Zara or H&M. But most of the time those places make me feel old, and I can't stand going anywhere that people choose to go to in a group. It's a bad sign. Online shopping has become my "go to" activity these days, mainly because like most mothers, I cannot ever go into real shops. Occasionally I get time off for good behaviour when hubby takes one for the team and goes to visit someone leaving me free to Shhhhhhooooopppp. Happy days. Anyway, back to internet shopping, I've a new one for you today called Spy Love Buy. Heard of it? No me neither, but I could have said that same about Baukjen a few years ago and now it is one of my fav shops ever.  This winter, as ever, I'm looking for the perfect boots. Last winter I happened upon some awesome Tamaris ones in a local shoe shop. Naturally I've not looked after them properly and now they are ruined. This winter I'm not only after some ankle boots but also some reddy brown longer boots, they have to be shiny and horse riding looking. It's difficult to explain.

So anyway, back to Spy Love Buy (I'm liking the name), I spotted these.
Browny boots £37.95
They just about hit the mark, if only they were SLIGHTLY redder I would be happy.

Then I spotted these, to the untrained eye they might look very similar to the first pair, but there are subtle differences...

More browny boots £37.95

Still, they aren't quite reddy brown and shiny enough for me. Will I ever find my perfect boot?


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Perfect birthday with Baukjen's Jessica Dress and a Heart Swarovski Necklace

So the moment has arrived, I'm officially old! Yes, 35! I can't really complain as I had a lovely weekend away with my friend Emma (who blogs over at www.hertfordshiremummy.com) at the Savoo Saveup event in London. We had a great time with the Savoo gang at the amazing Soho Hotel where we actually saw Jason Statham who is apparently dead famous, 

I took some lovely photos which I will post at a later date, but the best part of the weekend was meeting all the other bloggers and getting some great savvy shopper tips as well.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to be given this perfecto Jessica dress by Baukjen by my mum. I can honestly say it is by far the nicest thing in my wardrobe and  plan to wear that for years. 

At £89.99 it's a compete bargain, then the other day Baukjen did a 43% off day! Complete bargain! I actually ended up buying myself thus jumper in lipstick pink, I love it...

I'm wearing it right now! It's angora and it looks absolutely gorgeous, though I'm not sure I'd spend £109 on it -but it was a great price with 43% off.

Anyway, this is the beautiful heart my hubby bought me. At first I thought it wasn't delicate enough but it actually looks really divine and goes well with the Jessica dress too..

So there you have it! Three beautiful items, one birthday, happy days!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I love London....

Although I've heard countless times from people who live in London, "I hate London, I want to leave!". To me, it's heaven. It's probably because I don't live there, or live near anywhere even remotely like it, but like the little Englander I am, I look forward to a visit there for months. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is I like about it; it isn't really the shopping - most of the shops in London I can go to in Leeds, I do like the boutiques but never really sure if they're my kind of thing; the sights are pretty amazing, but I think I've seen most things now a couple of times, and it's very hard on the feet; I'm not sure it's the nightlife, as a knackered mother I've very rarely got the energy to stay up past 10:30 anyway. I think it's the general atmosphere. The promise of excitement, the different languages and nationalities. It makes me feel, well, alive.
Big Ben - from a recent trip to London!

So far, we have never actually taken the boys with us on a trip to London. It's about two hours on the train from Leeds so it's not ridiculously far, but somehow I see London as our tranquil (!) oasis away from everyday life. Would taking the boys eat into that? I don't know, maybe. Anyway, if we were to take them, there's no way I could cope staying with them in a hotel, it would be just too depressing. Listening to the sounds of people having loads of fun while we're stuck in some (probably small) hotel room watching cbeebies until it's coming out of our ears. I think what we'd do is stay in one of these short stay apartments London and probably go for a week. Looking at the prices they are actually a LOT cheaper than staying in a hotel, give you far more room and are also away from the really noisy areas that hotels tend to be in. In terms of things to do in London, here are my favs:
1. Boat ride on the Thames - can be done really cheaply if you get the Thames Clipper, just a couple of pounds.
2.A walking tour between Westminster, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, time it for the changing of the guard, again, free!
3. Have a cocktail in Raymond Blanc's restaurant overlooking Covent Garden, there's a little side door and some stairs up to it, and you can sit on the balcony and have a lovely view.
4. The royal parks are free and lovely (great for children too) - St James' Park, Regents Park, Hyde Park and the one next to Buckingham Palace (Green Park?) - pick up some bits in M&S and have a picnic there.
5. Borough Market - walk round when it's lunchtime, try loads of samples and enjoy! Near one of the entrances there is also the Monmouth Coffee Company which always has REALLY long queues. We've never braved it but there must be something AWESOME about that place? Nearby we went to a hot chocolate place and had some chilli hot chocolate. It was great for a winter's day.

What are your top tips for a fun day or night in London?



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