Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Gallery: Summer

I haven't joined in with The Gallery for ages but I do like seeing the prompts and responses to it. When I saw the prompt this week I knew I had to join in. I'm still writing up lots of my Summer posts but I've wanted to share this photo for ages.

We've had a busy Summer, full of holidays, days out and fun. Bud starts school in a week (sob!) and we wanted to make these last few weeks before losing him to school days memorable. This photo was taken on our first holiday of the Summer at Bluestone Wales. It's a selfie snapped on a tractor ride. It's not the most glamorous shot, I certainly don't look my best, but it shows us doing what we do best - getting out and about as a family and enjoying being together. I love it and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Summer Selfie - The Gallery

Head over to Sticky Fingers to see the photos that others have linked up showing their Summer. Which photo would represent yours?

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Smooth Operators — Using Blenders to Encourage Children to Eat Healthier

Leafy greens less than popular at the dinner table these days? Get your kids to eat their five-a-day by sneaking them fruit and vegetables in a form that resembles a milkshake from a fast food chain. Often associated with post-Pilates meal substitutes or tropical locales, smoothies are somewhat undervalued when it comes to nourishing the younger members of your family. Notoriously picky about foods that grow in the ground, kids are more likely to warm to the ice-cream colours that occur and to mixing ingredients and foods when berry meets blender.

For a dose of antioxidants, whip up a raspberry red smoothie complimented by blueberries and strawberries. Kids tend to gravitate toward the colour when it’s used in ice pops and candy, so they may naturally associate this smoothie with a treat! Berries are easy to find year-round; once the season has passed, most supermarkets will carry frozen varieties. One cup of your favourite berries, one small banana and a cup of vanilla yoghurt will serve at least two. Blend in half a cup of milk or less until you reach your desired consistency.

Kids drinking smoothies

 If summer fruits aren’t exactly the hardest sell, challenge yourself—and your daring little ones—to a ‘green machine’ packed with superfoods. One banana, 5 ounces green grapes, half an apple and a cup of vanilla yoghurt will keep them from guessing the main ingredient: 2 ounces of fresh spinach leaves! If the result is too thick, add a bit of milk to your blended green drink. Boys in particular will like its Ninja Turtle tones, and it contains some of the nutrients most needed by the short set.

Overall, sweetness is key when catering to kids; bananas help conceal more vegetable tastes, and vanilla yoghurt is preferable to plain. And if all else fails, reach for the peanut butter: Blended with a banana and milk, it’s sure to please any cheeky monkey!

Image by kartfamily, used under Creative Commons licence.
Collaborative Post

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Miniland Pair Game

We've been fans of Miniland for a little while and I like their bright, chunky toys and commitment to educational toys so when we were offered the opportunity for Bud to review one of their educational games in the run up to him starting school in September it was easy to accept. When we received the Miniland Pair Game I was unsure what Bud would make of it, we've had numerous card pairs games which haven't engaged him at all, I hoped this game would be different.

Miniland Pair Game

As soon as the game arrived I knew it was different. This is so much more than a pack of cards to match. The box is large, and inside contains a hinged game board, twelve game cards and twelve covers for the holes in the game board.

Miniland Pair Game

Game play is simple. Place a card in the game board, close the cover. Put the covers on and you are ready to go. Bud grasped the concept very quickly and got excited choosing which board he wanted to play first. Inevitably my little animal crazy boy went for the animals boards first and we got through each of them quite quickly. Bud grasped the game well and immediately understood what he had to do. Turn taking is a little problematic, he struggles a little with waiting for his go so we are trying to play games that require this at the moment and the Pair Game is perfect for this.

Miniland Pair Game

The twelve game cards included offer a range of difficulty level. Some are simple pair matching, like the animals you can see in the photos but six of them require more complicated processes to match the pairs. There are more complex patterns, where you really have to concentrate to see which two match, one where you match an item to it's silhouette, and one that I'm still a bit unsure of with die sides and images on it. I can't quite work out the pairs on this one!

Miniland Pair Game

Every component of the game is high quality, the covers sit nicely on the board and are easy to lift and remove. The box has it's own carry handle and it closes securely, making it a great game to take on holiday or on sleepovers.

Playing the Miniland Pair Game

We're really enjoying the Pair Game. It's exploring and introducing mathematical concepts to Bud - counting, matching and memory skills are needed and it's interesting to watch him play and improve his ability level with practice. Turn taking is something that will be necessary at school and it's really helping him to learn that he has his go and waits for everyone else to go before having his next turn. The beauty of this game is that you don't actually need more than one player. Bud has sat and played this on his own just as much as he has with someone else since it arrived.

If you'd like to keep up with all of Miniland's news then check out their brand new Miniland Educational UK Facebook Page, I'm told they have some fantastic giveaways planned there! To find out where to buy the Miniland Range, check out Where to Buy.

Discosure: We received the game for review purposes.

Mummy of Two

What's Happened? What's Happening - Summer Days

I'm well aware that I haven't got around to sharing all of the wonderful posts linked up to #WHWH last week. I do value every post that is linked and I will be getting around them all soon.

I've had a quick scoot through the posts I haven't had the time to read properly so far and I must admit I'm looking forward to getting an hour to sit and catch up on them all. Hopefully tomorrow.

I've seen a coupe of write ups for the blogger event at Eureka in Halifax promoting Little Live Pets, from Hollybobbs and Six Degrees of Harmony, we would love to have had the opportunity to meet up with local bloggers and visit Eureka for the first time. I think we're definitely going to make time to visit this fantastic, child-friendly museum soon. Have you ever been? We were at Blists Hill Victorian Town with friends instead of Eureka and had a great day out. Another post I'm excited to read is Jibber Jabber UK's account of their recent trip to Cardiff Bay for the Doctor Who Experience. We visited the former attraction in Cardiff when Bud was a baby and I really want to read about the new Doctor Who Experience.

What's Happening featured 100 Years of Magic again with Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy getting excited about it coming to her hometown. I'd really love to see the show buy Bud isn't really a Disney fan so I might have to wait for LM to get a bit bigger and cross my fingers for a little Disney girl.

Normal service will resume this week for #WHWH.

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Summer Holiday Fun with Friends

Last week we headed down to the Midlands for a few days of family fun. More on the first two days later but Friday evening saw us heading over to stay with ClearlyBex and family. Our boys are great friends and I knew we'd have a lot of fun together. Saturday dawned and we headed out for the day to somewhere that we last visited when Bud was just four months old. Almost exactly four years later we headed back to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge to explore.

Blists Hill is very close to where Bex and her family so a short drive saw us arriving there, parking and changing some money in the bank for the full Victorian experience. There was a Meccano exhibition in full swing (did you know that Meccano was a Victorian invention?) and the boys headed into there straight away. There were some fantastic creations there, with the children particularly taken by a ferris wheel that could be turned using a small handle. Both boys were given their very own small Meccano set to take home too, it was a really great way to introduce children to this classic construction toy.

Blists Hill Victorian Town Meccano Exhibition

From there we headed down the main street, Bud was looking for animals as always, and we popped into some of the shops to look around too. The boys enjoyed spending 1 1/2d on two ounces of sweets at the well stocked sweet shop and all of the children enjoyed meeting Casey the Shire Horse too. Everything at Blists Hill attempts to be authentic so you won't see much electronic equipment, there's not even much of a mobile phone signal to reduce the authenticity! 

Blists Hill Victorian Town Shire Horse

Lunch was bought from the Victorian fish and chip shop and eaten in the pub beer garden, this was really lovely and we all enjoyed sharing fish and chips from paper. The chip shop sells fish and chips or chips, an easy decision to make! The next place we explored was the Victorian fairground with a ride on the self-powered wooden swings for Bud and Lewis and a ride on the Carousel for me, Bex and the girls. 

Blists Hill Victorian Town Carousel and Boat Swings

The next attraction was something Ian and I have really fond memories of. We went on this when Bud was four months old and, despite it being pitch black in there for a time, and a few loud bangs, he fell asleep! He managed to stay awake for this ride though. There is an additional charge for the train ride which I do find irritating. An awful lot of the enjoyment of Blists Hill requires spending money and it isn't a cheap place to visit in the first place. I think charging the £2 each per adult, and £1 per children is unacceptable really. 

Last time we visited the Incline Railway Lift was being worked upon and we couldn't use it. This time we got a chance though and it was fun to take the lift up and down the steep hill. Bex showed us a walk we hadn't seen on our first visit which took us to a huge canal incline which has been unusued for over a century. It's still in exceptional condition though!

With treats from the bakery and exploring everything else we missed we headed off to Ironbrige town to have our photo taken on the Ironbridge again. It was fun to recreate the last time we were there and you can see how much Bud has grown!

Family Photo on the Ironbridge

The Ironbridge area is a World Heritage Site and contains ten museums in the area. If you live close enough to visit regularly then you can buy an annual family pass which allows you to visit each museum as often as you like. We will definitely be back in the future.

We've been trying out some fab BN biscuits from McVitie's and took them along on a day out to try out. They are available in two flavours - chocolate and raspberry - and are a crunchy, chewy treat. 

McVitie's BN Biscuits

The big smiley face makes them a big hit with children and mine have enjoyed munching them very much. I think I will be buying them in future.

McVitie's have asked me to share my tips for Summer fun so here are my tips for enjoying a day out with friends.

1. Agree on a place to visit which everyone can enjoy - museums, theme parks and sites like Blists Hill are perfect for this as they will suit children at a range of ages.

2. Set a group budget - there's nothing worse than one family flashing the cash and your children complaining because money is a bit tighter. This was inescapable on our day out as Blists Hill doesn't have a cash machine so we had to pool resources!

3. Take lots of breaks - if you have younger children this is especially important as they can get tired easily, a few points to rest and relax will sustain them.

4. Take snacks - you might want to eat lunch out as we did but little ones need constant fuelling. The BN biscuits are perfect for this as they come in a cardboard sleeve which will help to protect them from being bashed in a bag or under the pushchair.

5. Manage expectations - the Blists Hill bank is perfect for this. The boys knew that they could spend the 'old pennies' they had and that would be it. This saves whiny children asking for more and helps little ones to learn about budgets too.

6. Plan your day - there are bound to be different things that different people in the group want to do. Make sure that if you do one thing for one child then, next time, another child gets to choose. Consider splitting into two groups and meeting up later if that would work better.

7. Have fun!

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at

What's Happened? What's Happening?
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