Wednesday 30 November 2011

#TheGallery: The Kitchen


Another lovely challenge from Tara with the theme of the kitchen this week. Now the kitchen is really the heart of the home and I love to spend time in there either cooking on my own or with the children. Here are a few pictures to show what a wonderful time we have there:

We love baking treats for others

Pyjama days are perfect for making cakes

Nothing like a stoneware bowl for mixing and colourful melamine for ingredients

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Car less

I have now been without my car for a fortnight whilst the garage continues to try and solve the mystery of why it won't work properly. It has made me realise how much I rely on having my own vehicle for the daily activities of myself and my children.

When I got my first full time job back in 1995 I put a deposit down on a brand new little Citroen AX as it was a 20 mile each way commute with no public transport. I still look back in fondness on this little car as it gave me the freedom to get to all my activities, socialise and visit my family all over the country.

Similar to mine photo by Randy

My next job came with a company car (for some reason an Audi A4 estate!) so I sold my own little car. I had to travel all over England visiting customers from Preston to Ipswich. I'll probably never have such a swanky car again and boy was it far too easy to whizz around the motorway network...

After switching jobs I bought myself a second hand Rover 200. Not too whizzy but it got me to and from work and round about OK. One day the head gasket blew so I used part of the proceeds of selling my flat to buy a nearly new Ford Galaxy. I'd just got married and had 3 step children and the hope of more to come so wanted a suitably sized car. 

The Galaxy was such a versatile car and I loved driving it and having the flexibility to have several passengers. Unfortunately being a petrol engine it became increasingly expensive to run and with a second baby on the way I made the decision to downsize to my current Skoda Octavia diesel. The car was an X reg 1999 model and was much more economical to run. For the last 5 and half years this car has been very reliable (one new part a year!) and has gone through the 162,000 mile mark.

Two weeks ago it started playing up and finally gave up going forwards on the main road through Kendal.. The garage have fixed a string of faults on it but it just won't behave properly. So I am having to find alternative ways of getting about.

When I lived in Hastings I had a couple of spells of being unable to drive due to having a Caesarian Section and one operation on my hand. During these intervals I was able to carry on with my normal routine (nursery, work and shopping etc.) by using the really good local bus network which wasn't too expensive to use. I am discovering that up here in a smaller town that life without your own car is a lot more restricted.

Monday 28 November 2011

Monday Review: Notalie Doll

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I was asked to review the new Notalie doll which is aimed at tween age girls like my daughter. This is what the blurb that comes with the doll says:

Who is Notalie?

Notalie is a new concept in dolls, ‘the companion doll’. Standing head and shoulders above other dolls, she measures 1 metre tall. She has a unique appearance, with the look of a bored ‘tween’. Her long arms and legs have large ‘knotty’ elbows and knees. She is a soft, plush toy which means she loves to be hugged.

Notalie lets girls be girls for longer

The sexualisation of children is very much in the news today and a phenomenon known as ‘age compression’ means that girls are growing up too fast. They are rejecting conventional dolls as early as seven years of age. Dolls are seen as babyish whilst computer games are ‘cool’. This means that girls are missing out on essential creative play which enables them to remain children for longer and to develop at a proper rate.
This is where Notalie comes in. She is carefully designed to look like the girls who will play with her and because she is so tall, she is immediately embraced as one of the gang. She’s feisty and funny and can share jewellery, hair accessories and be part of a girl’s life, whatever she is doing. She’s a true best friend.

With an 8 year old daughter who fluctuates between being a little girl and trying to be a teenager Notalie sounded perfect. I have to say my daughter was very excited to see Notalie sitting waiting for her when she came home. She was intrigued to find a doll with knots tied in her arms and legs who was almost as tall as she is.

For the first outing my daughter managed to tie Notalie round her waist and hold her in place with her jacket so that they could go scooting with her:

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Magic of Christmas with

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I was given a chance to try out for free new photo personalised Santa letter service. My five year old son is still fully believing in the magic of Christmas whilst his eight year sister is a bit more cynical about it so I decided to get a letter for him.

It is a really simple process to set-up and create one:

  1. choose which version you want (Rudolf or Santa)
  2. add to your basket and then upload a recent photograph
  3. add the personalisation (Name, gender, address, town, names of 2 friends)
  4. say who asked Santa to write
  5. age of child next year
  6. a PPS with max 120 characters for end of the letter
Once the photograph has finished uploading you position it correctly in line with the elf cutout to turn your child into one of Santa's elves. You can choose standard or express delivery which is based upon the posting date on the web site front page (current 1st December).

The letter arrived yesterday in an envelope addressed to me (marked with it's contents so you know to open it secretly!). Inside was an envelope addressed to my son with a North Pole stamp and a picture of Rudolph on the front:

Bless my boy he was so excited that Father Christmas had written to him! All the little personalised bits made it so much more convincing too as only a real Santa could know all of that information about him! This has really put us all in the Christmas mood and is a nice extra touch for your child this Christmas.

They are normally £4.50 plus postage but have given me a discount code to share with you: simply enter BECKYW20% in the discount box and you will save 20% off the full price! This code expires on 9th December so if you want to use it you'll need to be quick...

#SilentSunday: 27th November 2011

Silent Sunday

Saturday 26 November 2011

My Blipfotos

It's interesting to see which of my Blipfoto entries people have favourited (click on the thumbnails to see them properly):

  1. River Kent, Kendal - wintry sun
    26 November 2010
  2. Strange sky
    17 August 2011
  3. Junior blipmeet
    20 July 2011
  4. Through the window
    19 July 2011
  5. Grasmere
    12 July 2011
  6. Windermere from Bowness
    15 February 2011
  7. Trainee cake maker
    14 January 2011
  8. Another frosty Cumbrian wall
    07 January 2011
  9. Ascot wintry wonderland
    19 December 2010
  10. Otter in the River Kent
    03 November 2011

Friday 25 November 2011

Are you feeling Christmassy yet?

With all this unseasonal weather its been hard to start even really thinking about Christmas - plus all the chaos caused by my poorly car! This weekend however I think things might change. Last year on this date I had headed off to Derbyshire for the Single With Kids Christmas weekend at Hargate Hall. We woke on the Saturday to snow which really put us all in the right mood for a Christmas themed weekend!

A year ago
This year I've not been able to afford to go but instead I'm able to take part at my church's (St Thomas' Kendal) Advent Fair selling Usborne books. I've spent a chunk of this evening getting the Christmas bits together for my stall and my daughter is running a nail bar next to me (very enterprising at aged 8!). With Sunday being the official start of Advent this is a Christmas themed event with lots going on and things to buy.

Next Friday is the inaugural Staveley Winter Festival and from 16:00-21:30 there are things happening all over the village:

I am running an Usborne stall in the Winter Festival Market based at World of Stone (No 3 on the map). I wish I was going to be able to see all the other things going on but guess I'll just have to send my family out to enjoy themselves with the grandparents instead! If you are in the area on the 2nd December it will be well worth a visit.

On the 3rd its my family's traditional "first Saturday in December" Christmas decorating day. The kids have a fairly free rein to cover the house in our Christmas decorations. We only have room for a 3ft fake tree but it will really gets us all feeling really Christmassy!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXVII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

One of my new Kendal mummy friends asked me this week why I always came across as optimistic which is a great compliment. I think this linky has really helped me to focus on the positive whatever else is going on in my life. Another guest host this week over at Bod for Tea to let Michelle have a well earned break! Back to my own reasons and here we go:

1) My Parents

I am so lucky that my parents live close by and are able to help me out in times of need. I have now had a week with no car (it is in the garage being mended) and my parents have very nobly stepped in to drive the children to all their activities (school, swimming etc.). This has caused them lots of disruption and I am oh so grateful.

2) Proud Mummy

Both my children have now brought home certificates from school for their good behaviour recently. My daughter for her enthusiasm in class and my son for being kind and helpful:

3) Amused Mummy

I've always told my children to say thank you to bus drivers etc when you get off their vehicles. As we got off the 555 from Staveley on Wednesday my 5 year old piped up:

Thank you driver. I like you. I love you

Needless to say the male driver's face was a picture at this and I couldn't help creasing up with laughter.

Then today my son was telling Gramps about what he has been doing at school. They have a dark tent in their classroom at the minute that they use torches in. Apparently my son chose a little girl from his class to play with on his turn in the tent.

Me: what did you play?
Son: Mummies and Daddies

Oh the joys of sweet and innocent 4 & 5 year olds!

4) Spoilt Mummy

Tonight my mum took me to Fellinis in Ambleside to see an encore performance of Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary show. This was originally broadcast live from the Albert Hall to places like Fellinis and they have repeated it because it was so popular.

I'd never seen the show before and was completely blown away by the music and the singing. Current cast are fantastic and Sarah Brightman did an encore at the end accompanied by 4 very talented musical stars.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

#TheGallery: Something I'm Proud Of

Another nice challenge from Tara this week: something you are proud of

No contest of this one as I am proud of my 2 children who have coped with so much over the last two years but they are turning into wonderful kids (most of the time!).

They can be extremely loving towards each other:

They enjoy just being together:

They are learning to think of others and do their bit for charity:

Please click on the logo to see what everyone else is proud of this week!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Autumn in Cumbria

Every cloud has a silver lining and today's was that because my mum had to drive me to collect my children (due to my car being poorly) I had a chance to get photographs like this on the way:

The view on the school run

The village hall near the school

As we pulled up outside school the sun was just about to dip behind the hills

When I'd retrieved the children it was setting nicely

We had to drive close to Windermere to take the children to swimming

 What a perfect Autumn evening drive in south Cumbria - so glad I live up here!

Monday 21 November 2011

Monday Review: A Girl For All Time

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I was sent a press release last week that shocked me about the number of secondary school aged girls who are ignorant about historical events and people such as Henry the VIIIth. Now maybe my family are unusual but I was brought up with a love of history - visiting castles etc., watching documentaries and reading history both fact and fiction. I have passed this on to my children and they took up medieval re-enactment as babies:

The founder of A Girl For All Time has decided to do her bit to turn this statistic around with the launch of a range of dolls, novels and keepsake books for girls aged 8 and over. I was lucky enough to be sent one of these to review with my daughter who has just turned 8. Her reaction when she looked in the box was ecstatic (think this is her favourite review product so far!):

With the doll having an RRP of £89.99 this a gift that I hope will be passed down the generations! The attentions to detail are incredible and when you read the book (Matilda's Secret £6.99) you can match the description of her outfit:

All of her clothes can be removed and my daughter was amazed at how many layers there were. It is also possible to buy her additional outfits to go with the story (let's just say Santa has a list of all of these from my daughter!).

We have been reading the story together at bedtime. It is written as a secret journal of Matilda Marchmont sent to court by her uncle the Duke of Norfolk to help engineer the marriage of her cousin Katherine Howard to Henry the VIIIth. It is full of little details of life at court and Tudor times such as men peeing in the fireplaces and the daily routine of the Queen's maids of honour. As a history buff I know how it all ends in tragedy but hearing it from the point of view of an innocent 13 year old caught up in it all makes for gripping reading. My daughter keeps asking for "one more section" at bed time! 

I can see why this has won awards this year. As a fabulous change from a high tech Christmas this would make a marvellous gift. Just make sure your child is beyond the stage of drawing on her dolls! Yes it comes with a large price tag but if looked after well it will be a family treasure for generations to come.

There are more dolls to come in the series (Elizabethan, Restoration, Georgian, Victorian, WW2) as Matilda's descendants tell their own stories. An amazing collection for girls 8 plus or even grown ups!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Looking Back: My All Time Most Viewed Posts

It's dawned on me that it would be interesting to look at what on my blog and other sites has been popular. So from now until the end of the year I'm going to look at different areas to see what comes up. Today I'm looking at my All Time Viewed Posts (as listed by Blogger Dashboard from May 2009):

Playhouse Disney: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's...

17 Mar 2011
1,485 Pageviews

No problem guessing why this top - lots of Google hits 
Putting photographs of Steve Backshall and a VW California camper van made this an accidental hit

The YES jar - early days

18 Oct 2010
507 Pageviews
I do wonder what people are looking for when they Google this... 

Something for the Weekend

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This is a slightly different post from normal as I took up a PR offer from Tots 100 from to make a video showing how discreet their parcels are! So this will be my first ever video blog post (so apologies for my film and editing skills...).

So if you are nervous about ordering yourself or someone else something from  you can see how discreet it all is. I even had to collect my parcel from the sorting office at the Post Office and so was very relieved that there was nothing on the packaging to indicate the contents. Apparently the company uses a fake name for all credit and debit card transactions so nothing shows up on bank statements or credit card bills either. So you can be assured that only you and the company will know what you have bought.

And this is what was in the parcel... Question is dare I try it ;-)

Friday 18 November 2011

Sudocrem Competition: Sudocrem Moose

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Sudocrem have just launched Twitter & Facebook pages for a new, mystery product launching in spring 2012 and in the lead up are running a competition to name the mascot of their new product the Sudocrem Moose. To enter simply submit your chosen name for your chance to win £500 worth of Toys R Us vouchers and a personalised Santa sack.

It’s simple to enter all you have to do is ‘Like’ the new Facebook page and then enter your suggested mascot’s name. One lucky winner will be picked on the 18th December 2011 and receive their prizes shortly afterwards.

Competition Start Date – 18th November 2011

Competition Finish Date – 17th December 2011

Competition winners announced – 18th December 2011

The Prize: £500 worth of Toys R Us vouchers and a personalised, handmade Santa sack worth £150.

Back shortly I'm off to enter...

I have been entered into a prize draw for posting this.

Friday Review: Space Torch Image Projector

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The lovely people at sent us a Space Torch Image Projector to try out an review on the blog. With a daughter who is really keen on science this is a great thing to have. The torch itself is very neat and comes with 3 projector discs:

It is easy to use as you slide back the catch and pop in the disc (it will only go in one way round) and then switch on the torch. If like us you find the image is blurred then the instructions on the card say to adjust the white focus ring.

There are 3 different discs each with a set of NASA images. To switch between images on a disc you simply rotate with your thumb. Below I have put in a photograph from each one that I took from my bedroom ceiling last night!


A nebuale?

Thursday 17 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXVI ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

This week's guest host is Clare at Seasider in the City. It's been a mostly cheerful week this week so here we go:

1) School Trip

For the first time ever I managed to go on a school trip with my daughter. Until now I was either working or had her little brother to look after when ever there was one on. I struck lucky and got a trip to Manchester. The photographs from the day featured in this week's Gallery. We went to Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and Manchester Jewish Museum both well worth a visit.

One of the lovely stained glass windows

The children on the trip were all very well behaved and it was such a pleasure to spend a whole day with them. I look forward to going on another trip sometime soon!

2) Operation 3rd Bedroom

For full news on this read this post but needless to say finally getting everyone in their own bedrooms for first time is a reason for all the family to smile! The children no longer have to share and get in each other's way. I can get my daughter to bed at a much more reasonable time as I don't have to wait for my son to go to sleep. One of the strangest reasons to be cheerful is that I can now get out of bed on both sides as my bed is no longer tucked up against a wall! My daughter is now on a Hello Kitty spending frenzy and turning her room into a girls only zone: