Friday, 27 November 2015

Giving thanks on Black Friday

So yesterday was Thanksgiving, but as I'm not American I don't feel the need to mark this day with pumpkin pie, turkey or general gluttony. Equally the phenomenon of Black Friday appears to have been adopted over here, but if I didn't need it already I'm certainly not going to risk a stampede to buy  a larger TV. Anyway, I still think it's a good practice to give thanks and I have plenty to be thankful for so here is my rundown of just the last week.

There are so many people I want to thank, so here's the thanks:

Titia - thank you for taking Big Boy to school this week when Baby Boy was ill and I was feeling pretty rotten too. You're a lovely Mum friend.

My sister - Thank you for driving over an hour to come and take care of the boys so that me and Hubbie could go out for the evening to watch Stewart Lee and Bridget Christie.

Soraya - thank you for the reassuring and supportive chat on the way to work. Despite getting disconnected repeatedly you made the time to keep calling me back and I felt so much better for it.

Neo - thank you for snuggling up to me on the sofa and letting me hold your warm paws. It's comforting when my boys won't let me hold their hands.

Hubbie - thank you for getting us tickets to go to some great gigs next year. It's the most fun going out with you.  

And then there are the things that I give thanks for, so here's the giving:

  • I give thanks that I have my health and am able to give blood so I do. When I received a thank you email for giving blood this week I was so surprised as I honestly wasn't expecting it. 
  • I give thanks that my children have shelter and warm clothes so I donated to Unicef so that Syrian children can have warm clothes too. 
  • I give thanks that I have a home and a bed to sleep in so I gave to Crisis to enable people in need to eat a hot meal and have some basic care needs met. 
  • I give thanks that we have food to eat so I gave to the food bank donation point in Waitrose. 
  • I give thanks that my children are loved and cared for so I donated shoe boxes to Romanian orphans containing gloves, hats, soft toys and sweets. 
  • I give thanks we can keep and feed our pet so I donated dog food and treats to a shelter for abandoned dogs.
We are very fortunate and have so much to be thankful for.

I hope I never forget that.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Me and my new best mate Sandi

I've got so much to say about the Mumsnet Blogest where spent all of Saturday, but I'm far too exhausted to do it justice right now. I'll tell you more later in the week when I've caught my breath.

For now here is my highlight of the day - there were a few options so it was hard to choose to be honest.

Lovely, lovely Sandi Toksvig

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How am I supposed to live without Woolworths ?

It's taken a few years, but I have finally had to accept that Woolworths is gone. I know I am possibly the last person on Earth to accept this, but I only just managed to get used to HMV being gone then they reopened in Croydon and I thought I was imagining it. I spent many hours (and pounds) in HMV over the years, but Woolworths holds a special place in my heart.

I always bought Easter eggs from Woolies and took my youngest sister with me. She had to promise not to look inside the bag and find out which one she was getting. It was a tradition.  

It was where Dylon dyes came from during my dressmaking stage in the 80's - in fact I didn't even know what I'd need them for, but I'd buy an amazing peacock blue and decide what to dye later. 

Pretty much all the household items I had in my first flat were from Woolies - my laundry basket, hanging rack for socks, dish drainer and bathroom bin. As these items fell apart one by one I had to work out where to find replacements for them. Ikea doesn't have the same homely feel really. 

I remember going to Woolworths to buy Chad Valley toys, Ladybird clothes for children. Selection boxes for Christmas. Multipacks of Christmas cards. Tinsel, baubles, card holders and random things for celebrations you didn't know you needed. 

When I ran out of teaspoons once I just went into Woolies in Croydon (the largest store) and bought a pack of 8 of them. They always had whatever I needed from interfacing to fix hems to needle and thread for repairs. I also bought dressmakers chalk and buttons. 

I really don't want to have to find a haberdashers whenever I need a small item like that as the only one I know is in John Lewis on Oxford Street and that's a long way to travel for some bias binding or a thimble.

So why am I feeling the loss of Woolworths so keenly right now - you may well ask.

Well, my oven gloves have gone. The years of cake baking and biscuit making have taken their toll. Just as I prepare for my big Christmas bake session I've had to admit that I burn myself when I use them to take things out of the oven. These well used and loved oven gloves were from Woolies and I look at them forlornly wishing I didn't have to plod around the internet to find new ones.

Oh why oh why did you have to go Woolworths ? Even your online presence can't replace these - or anything else I used to rely on you for. It's taken a few years, but I'm now living in a home where there are pretty much no remaining memories of you Woolies. I will always remember you. Fondly.

I'm off to trawl the internet for double oven gloves. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Snap, bang, wallop what a picture.

I've not shared a week of photos for a while and it's been so hectic lately I knew I'd have some fun ones to show you.

It's been my ambition to read Harry Potter to Big Boy since we took him to The Warner Bros Studio Tour. Then when I was waiting to meet a friend at Waterloo Station I spotted this beauty in the window of Foyles Bookshop. I'm putting it on his Christmas list and hoping we can start reading it before too long.

Neo has been sleeping on Big Boy's bed for a while now and he is so settled when he's there that we thought we'd have a bit of fun with him. While he snoozed away we carefully placed (very light) toys on him to see what would wake him or make him go all 'Buckaroo.'

Both the boys are obsessed with anything to do with the fire service so I wasn't at all surprised to find them playing while dressed like this.

Now this week wasn't just about everyone else and I went to a book reading by Robert Newman in London. It was pretty low key and there was wine so I had a bit of a natter with him afterwards.

It's not often me and Hubbie get to have a night out together so when we were invited to the opening of a club we decided to go. It wasn't a late one, but it was nice to have an excuse to dress up and have some grown up time. 

Then - of course - it's back to normal. And yay to that. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Get ahead of Father Christmas: Double DVD giveaway

I don't know about you, but I pretty much have all the presents my sons will ever need, but I keep seeing things I know they'd love. It's far too tempting to overspend so being generous and all that I've got not one, but two giveaways for you. Wow, Father Christmas has got some competition !!

When it comes to lovely bits for the Christmas Eve box you can't beat a great Christmas movie for the kids to watch the night before the big day. Hasbro have released Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale, a  DVD featuring 8 episodes that will delight smaller family members.

The DVD features the following collection of eight delightful stories:-

Peter Rabbit’s Christmas Tale - When Mr. Bouncer gets too sick to make the important holiday supply delivery, Peter and Benjamin take it upon themselves to brave a blizzard (and Mr. Tod) to get the job done and meet a new friend along the way.

The Tale of the Uninvited Badger - When Tommy Brock decides he's had enough of the cold, he takes shelter by the fire inside the Bouncer's Burrow. It's up to Peter and his friends to devise a way of getting the grumpy badger out and to make sure he doesn't come back!

The Tale of the Runaway Rabbit - Peter is left to babysit Cotton-tail but can't resist an exciting event at the Squirrel camp. He brings his sleeping sister along but soon must rescue her when she wakes up and crawls away

The Tale of the Stolen Firewood - When Peter, Lily and Benjamin go out to collect firewood, they soon find that not one but three predators are after some too. Can the rabbits stage a series of daring raids to retrieve it?

The Tale of the Grumpy Owl - When Old Brown takes Peter's Journal, Peter must choose between saving his most precious possession and saving a friend.

The Tale of the Lucky Four-Leaf Clover - When Benjamin finds a four-leaf clover, Peter tricks him into thinking it brings good luck. It's harmless fun until Peter's prank accidentally leads Lily into Mr. Tod's dangerous clutches!

The Tale of the Big Move - When Lily's father decides to move the family out of the Lake District, Peter comes up with a clever, but dangerous, plan to change Dr. Bobtail's mind.

The Tale of the Greedy Fox - When Peter tells an impulsive lie, which leads Jemima Puddle-Duck into Mr. Tod's clutches, he must act fast to stop her from becoming the fox's dinner!

For more information visit

Of course let's not forget the older members of the family and if they are fans of Transformers they will love Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters.

This features all 13 episodes of the complete season three including the full length movie Predacons Rising.

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Battle for Darkmount
This explosive season begins immediately following the shocking cliffhanger of the monstrous war on earth between the Autobots and Decepticons. An heroic Optimus Prime sacrificed his own safety to ensure the escape of his army, but the Autobot base has been thrown into ruin. Now the only chance of survival is for the Autobots and humans to work together to defeat a common foe, protect their homelands and overthrow Megatron’s tyrannous regime once and for all.

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Race for Salvation
In this volume, the Decepticons battle the Autobots for control of fossilized Predacon bones. The Decepticons plan to use the bones to clone a nation of savage Predacons and unleash fear and terror onto the earth. Will the Autobots be able to defeat their arch rivals in time and save our planet?

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Predacons Rising
The Autobots hit a whole army of problems when Megatron and his Decepticons destroy their base, scattering the team and when Shockwave becomes the brand new Decepticon weapon will it prove too much for the Autobots to face?
With one more powerful weapon against them is this the time that Optimus Prime and the gang will fail to save the Autobots? Will this be the end for planet Earth?

There are lots of ways you can win either or both DVDs in time for Christmas: 

  • Tweet about the giveaway
  • Share the giveaway on Facebook

If you'd like to enter to win both you will need to complete a separate entry for each DVD.

Please leave a comment below to let me know how you've entered the comp and which DVD you'd like.

The winners will be drawn on 1st Dec so winners should receive the DVDs in time for Christmas.

Good luck :)

Please note: DVDs can only be posted within the UK.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Confessions of a milk monitor

When I was in primary school we still had free milk - before it was 'snatched' from us. I didn't really have a taste for it so I volunteered to be milk monitor. That way I was responsible for giving it out to the other children and no one would notice that I wasn't drinking it myself. I can only explain my early dislike of milk because I'd seen how it was left out so by the time it came to the classroom it was warm and I really didn't want to drink it. As an adult I continue to have this uneasy relationship with milk and really only have it in tea or porridge. Then I found out a few weeks ago that I am perilously low on Vitamin D that helps the body retain calcium and leads to poor bones, teeth and nails. I had wondered why my nails were peeling and my teeth were so porous and now I know why.

So, my mission was to find ways to increase my intake of vitamin D and to build up my calcium stores. The nice folks at Cravendale asked us to try some of their filtered milk and comment on what we thought of it. I've known about it for years as friend of mine have always bought it, but we'd never tried it before. Despite my own attitudes to milk I've always encouraged everyone else in my family to drink it and we get through a lot.

Breakfast milk

In the morning I put out a variety of cereals for the boys to choose from and they love to pour their own milk. This can get messy, but I try to park my neat freak tendencies so as not to discourage the boys. I try to vary my own breakfast so I will sometimes make porridge for myself using had skimmed milk and half water. When we bought Cravendale and put it out the boys were fascinated by the different bottle and wolfed down the cereal as usual. So far so good. The test for me was if they would notice any difference when it was in a glass as a drink.

After school milk 

Baby Boy still has a bottle when he wakes up and when he goes to bed. I'm trying to encourage him to use a cup now so I give both the boys both a special cup that they like with a biscuit or a cake as an after school treat. Big Boy has to have a bendy straw with his Minions cup and Baby Boy likes his sippy cup. They both loved the fresh taste of Cravendale and I was more than happy that it keeps for a long time and I don't have to keep checking if it is ok for them to drink.

I'm even trying to drink more milk on it's own to break the associations I have with the stuff I had in school. Cravendale is nothing like those small glass bottles. It's fresher, lasts longer and could make me want to join the boys for a glass of milk and a biscuit. Why not - there is plenty to go round.

Lots of milk

 This post is an entry for BritMums #MilkDrinkersMilk Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale linking to the Cravendale Twitter account

Friday, 6 November 2015

Babysteps scratch off calendar - a review

I took they boys to meet their new baby cousin last week and they were fascinated by him. He is - and I accept I may be biased here - absolutely gorgeous. I was talking to my sister about how she is managing and I remembered random facts that had helped me when I was expecting Big Boy. I asked everyone questions all the time about everything. I read lots of books and checked the internet all the time. Anything I wasn't sure about I would check then ask someone who had children already to confirm what I'd found out was correct.

It's difficult enough when you're having your first baby with myriad things you don't know you don't know. I would have loved something that gave me bite sized chunks of information before he'd arrived. That way I wouldn't have been in permanent panic mode about any little thing that someone mentioned in passing.

Splash Brands have created the Babysteps calendar to help explain the stages of pregnancy in daily facts that you scratch off as pregnancy processes. I would have given this to my sis if I'd known about it in time. Now I do know it's going to be a gift for the next friend who tells me they are pregnant. It's presented beautifully in a hexagonal box and has some really nice (gender neutral) images on it. Starting from 5 weeks and with scratch off panels starting at 9 weeks the calendar contains 236 facts, tips and trivia about the different stages of pregnancy. It's pretty large so you won't forget it's there !
You can find out more about Splash Brands here

and you can buy it on Amazon: Amazon

Disclosure: We were sent a Babysteps scratch-off calendar to review 

Monday, 2 November 2015

A clutter-free zone - for how long though ?

The great declutter of 2015 continues. It's picked up since I watched a programme about obsessive compulsive cleaners and hoarders. I fall somewhere between the two. I have far too much stuff and I aspire to a clean and tidy home. Not in that minimalist way that indicates no-one lives there or where you wonder how on earth they have such clean lines when kids live there. I mean I am constantly making lists of all the things that need tidying, cleaning and sorting. Except I often find I'm so overwhelmed by how much needs to be done that I just put it off until another day and sit down with a cup of tea and a programme that I've recorded for later.

Except last weekend when I decided to take a different approach. Just do one room and finish it. I know it's pretty radical isn't it ? Well the first one was the kids' playroom and while I found it arduous sitting on the floor sorting through boxes of small cars, plastic toys from McDonalds and those 'gifts' you get on the front of magazines it was worth it for the end result. 

Decluttered (not for long)
Of course now I don't want the children to actually play in there - they'll only mess it up. And here we come to the crux of my problem with decluttering - it's always temporary. I throw out papers and more come through the letterbox. I give away toys and the boys get given more. I donate clothes and then go against my own plans by getting more because they look cute or like something I threw out earlier that I now have to have. It's a never-ending carousel really. The main thing is once I've actually made somewhere look like home instead of Steptoe's Yard I want it to stay that way for more than an hour. The only way to ensure this is to make sure that none of the boys go into the room or touch anything. 

As a friend once wrote on the toilet wall (relax, it was allowed, it was a freedom of expression thing) when he was training with the military, 

"No plan survives contact with the enemy."

Getting Big Boy into good habits early.