Sunday, 29 November 2015

10 of the best cookie recipes!

Everyone loves a cookie, right? The beauty of them is that there are a multitude of flavours available - definitely something to suit everyone!

They can be dressed up as a thoughtful Christmas gift, shared with those you love or just simply dunked in milk after a long day at school (or work!)

Coffee and biscuits

Here's my list of favourites, enough to last you all winter!

Hazelnut cookies

Cranberry & orange cookies

Florentine biscuits

Butterscotch cookies

Have a go yourself... get the kids involved! They'll be some lucky teachers and classroom assistants this Christmas!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Starting high school... one term in!

There are hundreds of blog posts about preparing your child for the transition from primary school to high school... I even wrote one too! There's so much advice out there and, of course, every child is different.

So, I hope by reading this 'starting Year 7 plus one term' post will help your family as they go through this in 2016 and will continue to help us as a family! I'll be honest with you as well, so that you may feel a little more 'normal' than you think you are!

  1. There will be tears... yours and theirs! Try to teach your child when to keep the tears in and when to let them out! (This goes for you too, Year 7 Mum!)
  2. Homework will probably be a shock - our primary school does issue homework, but quite haphazardly to be honest. Our high school homework is issued through the week and it all (on average 4 pieces for Year 7) is due in on the following Monday. Doing it as it gets set is easier then leaving it all until Sunday... and you get weekends free to have 'homework-free' fun!
  3. Weedle out the 'sick' days. Unless there's evidently a sickness/diarrhoea bug, high temperature or other obvious reason to show they are ill, we've encouraged our child to go to school. This may seem harsh, but if high school is to prepare them for life, we need to learn to just 'get on with it'. A quick phone call to school after they have left will put your mind at rest so if they are ill during the day, school will know that maybe they aren't 100% and so will arrange to contact you to collect your (now) sick child!
  4. Teach them to be organised. Get uniforms out and bags ready the night before - it saves time in the morning and so they can have that extra 5 minutes in bed, so long as their belongings are ready and waiting by the kitchen door! There's nothing worse than looking for one shoe when you really need to be out of the door 6 minutes ago!
  5. Your child will learn that friends from primary school may suddenly turn into someone that they don't particularly like... even becoming increasingly negative towards them. (Your child will also do this, but not see it them self!) Teach them to make new friends - if there's someone sat on their own, encourage them to say 'hello'. They may also just have lost a friend and need a new one, just as much as your child,
And, there you go. Sounds easy? It will be in the end... good luck! 


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Magical Microwave Meringues!

There's a tale to be told one day about 30 eggs, me and a kitchen full of 'mistakes'! I love meringues but hate (HATE) making them... so when I came across this recipe for microwave meringues (no whisk, just 2 ingredients) I just didn't quite believe it.

So we had a challenge. My daughter made 'traditional' meringue and I made the microwave version to see which worked best. If I hadn't made the microwave ones myself, I would never have believed that they would work.

Here's the video to see for yourself...

And my final result...

They're definitely more of a 'rugged' version than the piped shop-bought meringues but they taste delicious and there's the added bonus of no stress while making them! My daughter's traditional version turned out to be a flop... literally - and so she wouldn't let me post a photo!

So just add fruit and cream to your liking and enjoy - tasty meringue in less than 15 minutes!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Helping your child stay happy and safe – Childline 0800 1111

Every summer, millions of children in Wales & the UK are looking towards the start of a new school term in September. For many, this change happens without any ups and downs but for some, it’s a really difficult time. Childline has many, many resources available to families to help with any problems they may encounter.

I only became aware of the extent of the resources available on their website following a routine visit they made to my daughter’s primary school. To be honest, I had never looked at their website before – why would I? My children are happy, safe and part of a loving family. We have ‘moments’ like all families, but nothing to be of concern.

At the school visit, the Childline representatives gave each child a pack called ‘My Buddy Kit’. The front and back pages give information, and the middle inside pages are filled in by the children. Here they can state what makes them feel happy and safe – places, people and things. I’m glad to say that her dad and I do feature on this list!

My daughter is actually looking forward to her transition to high school. Not all children from our local primary school go to the same secondary school – it’s about a 50/50 split. So she’s looking forward to moving up with friends and also the opportunity to meet new friends. There will be some familiar faces due to the small community that we live in.

So, if there’s anything worrying you or your child, or even if you think there’s a problem brewing, have a look around the Childline website for help. There’s also games to play and things to create – you can create an account and have your own private ‘locker’ space.

Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Flipping good fun on Pancake Day!

Pancake day...Pancake Tuesday... Shrove Tuesday. Whatever you may call it, it's the day of the year when pancakes are eaten in households all over the UK!

The celebratory eating of pancakes is usually confined to just one day of the year, but I  must confess, we sneak a couple of extra Pancake days (not necessarily Tuesday!) into our yearly calendar!

Here's my age-old recipe that I use time and time again... similar to Delia's but in my opinion, easier!

10 fl oz semi-skimmed milk
4 oz plain flour
2 eggs
Lard, for frying


  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large jug or mixing bowl. Whisk with a hand whisk for about 2 minutes. I don't sieve the flour as the whisking incorporates enough air to give the pancake 'bubbles'!
  2. Heat a knob of lard in a frying pan until just smoking. Add a ladle of the pancake mix to the pan, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan and then cook until the pancake loosens from the bottom of the pan. Flip(!) and cook the other side for a few more seconds.
  3. Serve warm with a filling of your choice. I stick to lemon & sugar but there are all sorts of crazy options out there!
  4. You can keep the mix in the fridge for a day... but ours never lasts that long! Enjoy!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Half term begins... and it's raining!

My children started their half term holidays today... and it's raining! We managed a quick dash to our local library in between showers and chose some good reads for the week. We also have the facility to borrow DVD's from the library too and so we chose 'Maleficent' this time; for a very reasonable sum of £1.55, you can borrow a DVD for up to 7 days... that's at least 4 viewings of a great family film! Just need to stock up on popcorn!

Tonight's tea was my eldest's choice - Macaroni Pasticcio. Ours might not look as good as the picture but so long as everyone enjoys, that's all that matters!

Hope you are all enjoying the start to the half term break - I just hope the rain leaves us along for a couple of days!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Fantastic... Mr Fox!

As a child (and an adult!) I loved reading - mostly Enid Blyton, but my other favourite author was/is Roald Dahl. My children are now at the age where they are studying books at school, not just reading for fun. There's nothing wrong with reading for the sake of it, or course, but reading, understanding and analysing books and stories is a skill which will help them in years to come.

Twinkl is a great website aimed at both school staff and parents with loads of resources suitable for all levels of primary education. Some resources require a subscription although there are lots of free resources available too.

My son (7) is currently studying 'Fantastic Mr Fox' - one of my favourite Roald Dahl books! So, as I know the book pretty much inside out, I thought it would be easy to help him along the way... but do I really have time to design worksheets, word searches and reading comprehension questions? In a word, NO! After a quick look on Twinkl, I was pleased to find a whole range of 'Fantastic Mr Fox' specific resources - everything from writing frames and colouring sheets to word searches and character profile sheets!

That saved me a fair few hours design time! So a quick download and print has given me lots of activities to complete with my son. He's a great reader but needs something that grabs his attention and at the moment, Roald Dahl seems to have done that! I need to keep him on track and I'm sure that the Twinkl resouces will do just that!

Watch this space for updates... next task - the human body for a 10 year old!

PS.. if anyone is interested in a paid subscription, message me via Facebook here and I can send you the link for membership! x

Monday, 26 January 2015

Why I am a perfect parent (and how you can be too!)

Put simply anyone can be a perfect parent and here's how. I am a perfect parent because I know that my children are NOT perfect! We as a family have good days and not so good days . We have more good days and have learned how to turn each day into a good day, well at least part of it!

Rule one

Rule two
Don't make promises that you can't keep.

Rule three
We don't keep secrets but you can keep surprises.

Rule four
Eat as a family around the dining table as often as possible.

Rule five
Ban electronics for a set time each day - talk!

And that's it!

Family values

Friday, 23 January 2015

Going back in time.... A house made of history!

Apart from the resident spiders that seem to dwell in our roof spaces, I love living in an old house. It's a 4 storey Victorian terraced house and as we work our way through the renovations, we find all sorts of bits and bobs that relate to our house's former life.

Both of my children are studying the Victorian age at school and so they are able to take some of the findings in to school to talk about them with their classmates.

We've found Victorian servant's bell wires, vintage light fittings and switches and, more recently, newspapers from the 60's stashed away in one of the loft spaces. So, being a nosey-parker, I read the newspapers from 1962! It was humorous to see the out look on life was quite different then. These are the pieces that amused me the most! Apologies for the creases.... the papers are pretty old!

1960's newspaper
'Some women, of course, don't realise that housework is as simple as ABC'
1960's newspaper
Love the 'Free Time' drawer - that's the 'junk' drawer in my house!
1960's newspaper
I didn't realise the Channel Tunnel was planned in the 1960's!

Regarding the MP's 'wage scandal' (bottom right picture, above), £1,750 in 1962 is approximately £33,000 in today's money. If they could see into the future, no wonder they were having a moan as nowadays, the average wage of an MP stands at about £74,000!! Scandalous indeed!

So, back to the normal household stuff! As we are updating things around the house, we have covered old fireplaces and bricked up chimneys and so have left behind little treasures of our own. We put together a time capsule and hidden it in the basement for a future finder to enjoy. We included a newspaper, letters from my children, drawings and a couple of small toys and trinkets which represents our children's lives in the early 2000's.

We've also allowed out children to draw on the insides of plaster-boarded internal walls - so one day, another family will hopefully have the joy of discovering our lives! Or maybe they will just think that we are crazy!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Blue Monday? Fix it with Sugru!

Sugru is a cool, mouldable 'glue' that turns into rubber making fixing, modifying or even making things easy and fun for everyone. The patented silicone technology is unique. Out of the pack, Sugru feels like play-dough, and it's that easy to use too. It bonds to almost any other material and cures just by exposing it to air. Its durable cured properties mean it'll stay strong and securely bonded anywhere from the freezer to a steamy hot shower, from the home to the great outdoors. Sounds hard to believe but it's true!

Findings from a recent poll on have revealed that the most feel good DIY projects are those that involve organising and sorting your stuff. So far so boring? Not when you’re given a helping hand by a few tiny friends….

Almost a quarter of those who took part in the online poll voted for one of last year's most popular projects - Sugru + Lego = perfect cable holders - as the ideal way to help banish the blues this January.

The simple but ingenious idea came from a fan in Germany and soon snowballed into one of Sugru's most shared pieces of content of all time reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
So, if you missed it first time around - here's a guide to how you can organise your cables at home or at work. Proven to help turn that frown upside down!

Did you know, it's also International Lego Day next week (28 January) and Sugru is offering free shipping all week so you can start planning your own project

You can also check out some other feel good projects here to help keep yourself entertained this winter.

As a Lego-loving family with a list of things to fix, I'm sure we'll be using lots of Sugru in the coming months and years!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Winter Health - eat well, sleep well, be well!

Christmas is over and we're starting the New Year - complete with resolutions (achievable and not-so-achievable!). Here's some helpful ways to hopefully dodge the coughs, colds and bugs that seem to be around at this time of year!

Healthy raspberries
  1. Eat fruit. Fruits, especially berries such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries and blackberries are naturally high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids and antioxidants. These all help to boost your immunity levels. Other good sources include broccoli, apricots, peppers and kiwi fruits.
  2. Vitamin D3. Our main source of vitamin D is the sun and so as the days are shorter in the winter, our levels can go down. Vitamin D is vital to ensure adequate absorption of calcium for our bones but it also plays a crucial role in the normal functioning of the immune system. Many of us can become deficient in vitamin D over the winter because even when outdoors with some skin exposed, very little vitamin D is produced due to the angle of the sun during the winter months. A daily dose of vitamin D3 can therefore help to fortify the immune system through the colder months.
  3. Echinacea. This is a fabulous herb which 'modulates' the immune system, which simply means that it helps to teach it what to do, thereby rebalancing it, meaning it can function better. Echinacea is also a powerful lymphatic cleanser; it stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection.
  4. Zinc. This is essential for the immune system and healing. Enjoy seafood and nuts and seeds, especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 
  5. Honey. Manuka honey has great health benefits. Enjoy this delicious tasting food and stay healthy.
  6. Stay active. When it's cold outside, it's difficult to get out there and do some exercise but try to! Research has shown that exercise is another way to help your immunity.
  7. Bin it! Don't leave dirty tissues or hankies lying around - it can also spread your cold. When you cough, sneeze or blow your nose the secretions that end up in your hanky or tissue are teeming with the virus that's making you sick. These viruses can survive for some time once they leave your body, so when you leave a tissue for someone else to pick up, you are actually leaving a little virus bomb to go and infect someone else's hands. So throw away any used tissues and wash your hands straight away.
  8. Sleep well. Your immune system helps you to fight off common infections, Poor sleep and insomnia can affect our immune system so make sure you get plenty of rest.
  9. Vitamin C. There is considerable evidence that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays a vital role in many immune mechanisms. Infection rapidly depletes the normal levels of vitamin C. Remember that bugs stay active on surfaces so avoid touching too many public places such as escalator rails or cash point surfaces.
So, with these few tips you *should* be able to ward off the dreaded colds which are still lurking, waiting to catch you out!