Review: Easybelts Velcro Fastner

Easybelts velcro fastnerI was being driven mad, Buddy had been toilet trained relatively young and took to it right away. The issue came with his trousers. He had sprouted so much he had a tiny waist yet he needed bigger trousers cause he was so tall.  His trousers were falling down so I resorted to get him some belts. Friends had suggested the double D type belts as they were easier for the children to use. We tried this and despite Buddy being able to use them, sometimes it was a bit hit or miss.  I happened to notice a company called Easybelts on Twitter, I think we were both participating in a Twitter party, and I saw that it was a belt with a velcro fastner. Immediately, I went online to investigate. What a fabulous idea. Easy velcro fastening belts for children or people who don’t have the dexterity in their hands to enable them to fasten pin and buckle belts easily.

I ordered a belt for Buddy and on using it, he has commented on how he managed it well. Instead of the usual fastner, the Easybelts come with a velcro fastner for ease of use. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours, we went for black so that he can use the belt with his nursery trousers, but I think I might get him a more fun colourful one for leisure time.

The fastening is so easy and there have been no mad panics when going to the toilet from then on. He can manage it all on his own too, so even at school nursery he doesn’t need to ask for any help.

I love this product, I have to say, I contacted Kay at Easybelts to ask her if she minded if I did this review for her, and she said no absolutely, I’d be over the moon. And I’ll even give you some belts to give away. So lucky readers, have a go and see if you can win one of the four belts we have on offer in this competition.

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For more information about Easybelts, visit their website.

Disclaimer: I have written this review for no payment or product for us. Easybelts are supplying the prizes for the competition.

Take No More Campaign: Impact of burglary on Children

There was a report released last week by Victim Support and ADT that looked at the impact of burglary on children who live in the house that has been burgled. I was not overly surprised to hear that the children had trouble sleeping afterwards, but when that starts to affect their entire lives including their school work, you do worry don’t you.

Often the burglars don’t think of the impact of what they are doing, they don’t see the fact that it is somebody’s house or the fact those people might be so traumatised following the break in that it will affect them really badly.

Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own home, it’s what you long for isn’t it, that your children will safe and loved at home. But then if someone violates that, what do you do? How do you react? when you yourself are going through the same emotional turmoil as your children. They are less able to articulate what is happening to them or disclose their true feelings, perhaps due to age, etc.

Here is a video of how it affected Sheree and her family

I can completely empathise with this, as a teenager, our house was entered by a local youth and I felt violated, I couldn’t believe someone who come into my family home and root around our things. There were lots of things that went through my head: What has he touched, what has he taken, why did he do it? I was so upset, I didn’t really like the house after that. Now that was with knowing who had done it and why they had done it, imagine all those questions when you don’t have any answers. absolutely awful.

It is absolutely awful for anyone to experience, I am still paranoid about it and it was over twenty years ago for me!

The Take No More campaign, launched last week by Victim Support and ADT, aims to step change the way society thinks of and responds to burglary. The campaign will highlight the unacceptable levels of burglary, the impact it has on victims and will call for tougher sentences for burglars who target homes where children live.

Disclaimer: We are part of the Marketiers 4DC Parenting Broadcast Blogger Network. We have not received any payment for this post.

Review: How to Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers’

How to catch a star

I was introduced to How to catch a Star by an artist friend, Kirsty. We were looking for a style for our new education materials and Kirsty said she liked Oliver Jeffers’ style and as soon as she showed me, I completely agreed. I love the representation of his illustrations, so simple yet effective. It seemed after that, every time I looked for another illustration, they were all from Oliver Jeffers’.

We then purchased the book, How to catch a star, if you haven’t read it it’s about a boy who loved stars very much. Every night he watched the stars from his window and wished he had one of his very own…

This year celebrates 10 years wince How to Catch a Star was first published. It was adored immediately, launching the now celebrated author and illustrator, Oliver Jeffers, who has gone on to win the New York Times Best Illustrated Books Award, Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Irish Book of the Year and The Blue Peter Book of the Year.

This story is full of beautiful illustrations and the enchanting story has won the hearts of children all over the world. Perfect for children aged 2-7, it is a warm, poignant and humorous celebration of joyful ingenuity and the belief that anything is possible. And let’s face it, it is if you put your mind to it ;)

Needless to say, we love this book and even gifted it to a special little lady (you know who you are) who’s mummy is in the stars. Beautiful book, well written and the illustrations are captivating. Thank you Oliver Jeffers’ and thank you Kirsty for the introduction.

This anniversary hard back copy is out on the 27 March, and is available from Amazon for £12.99.

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Meal Planning Monday – 17th March 2014

Meal Planning Monday

It’s almost the first official day of spring (20th March) and for some of the UK it’s been gorgeous weather. Our daffodils are out in Scotland, which given that this time last year, we had snow. I’m very impressed. We won’t be rushing to get the BBQ out yet, but it won’t be far off.

As part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, this is our meal plan for the week:

Monday – left overs, Grim had curry & I had a Brids Eye fish burger that was in the freezer

Tuesday – Lemon sole with green beans and a butter sauce with boiled potatoes

Wednesday – Baked Salmon, veg and potatoes

Thursday – Feta and spinach frittata with wild garlic (from my foraging course I went on, what a lovely idea)

Friday – Sweet potato, spinach and chick pea curry

Saturday – Pollack and paprika chowder

Sunday – Chicken Curry, homemade naan bread and rice

We link up with Mrs M for the Meal Planning Monday.

 

Meal Planning Monday – Budget Meal Plan From the Freezer!

On a budgetI know it’s not Monday today, but we have been doing this week’s Meal Plan from our freezer. There are two reasons for this: I’m trying to run down my freezer so that I can defrost it; and I have just invested in a cleaner, so I need to find the pennies somewhere to pay for that and it’s from my weekly housekeeping budget that this has got to come from.

Inside my freezer

So here is our budget meal plan from the freezer as part of Meal Planning Monday post by Mrs M:

Monday: Chicken Pasta – I had a bit of creme fraiche left over from last weekend and seem to have four random breasts of chicken in the freezer, that I’ve obviously bought then decided not to cook all of it so I have used one tonight in this meal.

Tuesday: Cod & Paprika Chowder – I have to say this was as yummy as it was when I made it last week and froze the remainder. We had it with bread and butter and it was so tasty.

Wednesday: Ragu – This is the last of this month’s freezer fill of our Ragu, we had it with macaroni as I’d forgotten to get spaghetti. But do you know what I think it was so much more tasty. I have to be honest, spaghetti is my least favourite pasta, but I LOVE ragu!

Thursday: Baked potatoes with chicken curry and boy was it tasty. We had a little bit of thai red curry left over and it went perfectly.

Friday: Grim is out tonight, think I’ll eat something with the boys. I am thinking homemade pizza and putting stilton (that I have a massive lump in the freezer) on my section :)

Saturday: We are looking for a recipe to have with our haddock, hmmmmm, not sure what yet, maybe fish burgers in buns – If you have any recipes, then let me know, I’d love to try them!

Sunday: This is going to be the exception, we are going to go to the butcher on Saturday and get a joint of beef and have the full works. I am going to buy extra and slice it thinly when cold and freeze it until next week when Grim can have it in his sandwiches.

Meal Planning Monday

 

Review: I am Lost App & Website

I am lost website

I am Lost is a revolutionary App and Website that helps reunite people with things that are lost. It’s aimed at parents as they are usually the ones that have the issue of randomly losing prize possessions, but you could use it for anything, including school uniforms.

I love this idea, friends of mine have always been so careful to look after ‘Dug’, ‘Benji’, ‘Sookie’ or whatever your child’s prize possessions happen to be called. Children have a sixth sense when it comes to these comforters that our children look to to help them sleep, get through their first day at nursery or just watching a movie on TV.

I follow a Facebook page that looks at Lost and Found Teddies, that’s sole purpose is to reunite people with lost toys. Now you don’t need to worry, just tag your toy with one of these little labels and use biro to write on your unique code and people can look up website, put in your code and find the person who has lost it so that you can return it.

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I am lost tag

As a Mother, I know how Bubbles would feel if he lost CatCat, who he now takes to bed every evening and seeks it out if it’s not in his bed. Buddy is the same with his star muslins, I now only have 2, so I’ve popped these little tags on them both and it’s less stress to get him to grow out of the need for his comforter.

These packs do cost, but if you are saving a broken heart for your child, I think it’s well worth it. They also have stamps so that you can ink things up rather than using tags.  For some items this will work better.

Gail Porter recently launched the coding system saying “Having a daughter, I seem to constantly be searching for lost items. To be fair though, she totally takes after me. I wish I had the I am Lost app years ago. It would have saved me an absolute fortune!!” And there are plenty of parents who will feel exactly the same.

To find out more, or order your I am Lost pack, visit their website

 

BOOK BREAK – the new online book show series – Episode 2

Today at lunch time (12.30 GMT) there is an opportunity to log on to the second of the monthly Book Break where author Alexandra Heminsley is joined by F.R.Tallis, Charlotte Mendelson and Emily Gravett for a special on how authors tap into readers’ psyche and share their tips for budding authors…

In this episode, anchored by author Alexandra Heminsley (Running Like a Girl), we are joined by three new talented authors…
Frank Tallis is a former clinical psychologist and author of such supernatural thrillers as The Voices and The Sleep Room – he knows exactly how to send a shiver down readers’ spines!
Author of the Man Booker Prize longlisted, Almost English, Charlotte Mendelson likes to play upon strong human emotions to bring about extreme reactions in her characters.
And last but not least is the uniquely talented author and illustrator of the acclaimed Wolves and Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears, as well as recently released Bear and Hare Go Fishing, Emily Gravett; who will be sharing her tricks for hooking young readers.

We’ll also take a step inside Jeffrey Archer’s Writer’s Room, in his Majorcan home, aptly named Writer’s Block. Nicola Lathey, one of the authors of Small Talk, shares with us some of her top tips for boosting your child’s speech and language development through reading. And author Annie Murray will face our quick fire questions.

To join us, visit http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/book-break-the-new-online-book-show-series-episode-2 at 12.30pm 7/3/14

Recipe: How to make Stuffed Vine Leaves

stuffed vine leavesRecently whilst chatting to the owner of our nursery, Thalia and I got to chatting about food. She too has a real love of food, growing things in the nursery garden and adding them to the food for the children. Really nice message for the children. Thalia grew up in Egypt and I think it was her mum who had a Cypriot background. She is a gem of a find in terms of knowledge of food, oh and childcare :) Here’s Thalia’s recipe of how to make stuffed vine leaves.

Recipe:

Ingredients

1 pack of vine leaves (I bought mine on Ebay but you can also get them in Tesco, they are in brine, so need to soak for a few hours before you start, changing the water a few times and moving them around to remove the salt from the brine).

For the stuffing:
500g beef mince
100g rice (washed thoroughly)
2 onions, finely chopped
olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil, oregano & coriander
egg

For the sauce:
1 egg
lemon juice
cornflour

Method:

  1. Soak the vine leaves for a few hours to get rid of the salt
  2. Combine all of the stuffing ingredients and use your hands to really give it a good mix together, combining all of the ingredients
  3. Get a large stock pot put beside your working space for making up the vine leaves
  4. vine leaf flat vine leaf flat close upLay your vine leaves out flat on a board and take a small amount of the stuffing and put into middle part of the leaf then fold in the sides and roll it up, making sure that the end of the leaf is underneath and start to line them all up in the pot. You want them to be right in beside each other so that they don’t unravel when cooking. It’s also important not to overfill each of the leaves. Thalia was using a ball of mince about the side of a 50p then making it into a small sausage shape before rolling up.
  5. Once you have used up all of the vine leaves, put a plate upside down on top to weigh them down and cover with cold water & cook on a low heat for a couple of hours. You will need to keep checking on it to add more water so that they are always completely covered.
  6. Stuffed vine leaves cookingOnce cooked, removed the vine leaves into trays. Keeping the water that they have been cooking in
  7. The water should be heated through – whilst you are waiting, separate an egg and beat the yolk and have juice of one lemon on the side too – you want to add tiny bits of each, alternating them and keen whisking so that it doesn’t curdle and once you have added all of the egg and as much of the lemon as you like (this is for taste), mix a little cornflour with water, then add into water to thicken sauce slightly. Pour this over your vine leaves and serve immediately.

I made a large batch as you can see so I put them in freezer and then heated them through before serving, this worked well for us too.

Thank you Thalia, can’t wait for my next cookery lesson :)

 

Meal Planning Monday – 24th February 2014

Meal Planning Monday

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, we are going for some new recipes, I got a book from my good friend Sarah at Christmas time called Home at 7, Dinner at 8 and it’s got some real gems in there. If you are someone like me who loves to cook good wholesome food but never seems to get round to it, this book is for you. I’ll let you know which of the recipes are from it:

Monday – Cod & Paprika Chowder, this is from the cookbook and it’s a lovely take on a chowder. Good wholesome food. This would also work well with Monkfish or Hake as they too are meaty fish, so might change it up a little for variation.

Tuesday – Chicken Taglietelle – This is a new recipe that I concocted one night that Grim was at the rugby. It’s absolutely delicious. If you want the recipe, let me know and I’ll post it for you.

Wednesday – Another one from the cookbook is Squid, Chorizo, Feta and Chickpea Salad. The picture of this in the book is absolutely fabulous and I’m really looking forward to it. The thing is that although I love seafood and especially squid it is not something I have ever tried to cook before. I know from experts that the key is to not overcook it, it’s a challenge :)

Thursday – I am heading out tonight for a Psychic night in aid of Breast Cancer Care so we need something quick and easy. I am going to make a massive vat of macaroni cheese, the boys love this and so do we so it’ll be a winner

Friday – We still have some venison chilli left in the freezer so we are going to have baked potatoes and chilli and cheese. Yummy

Saturday – Our special Ragu recipe. We have this once a week and as we all eat together on a Saturday and I know the boys will eat Ragu without any fuss, this is the perfect Saturday night in.

Sunday – Grim is away overnight in Liverpool, so I’ve invited Grandma and Grandad round for tea to see the boys and have time with them. I saw that there was a lovely pork joint on offer in Lidl later this week, so I’ll go and pick it up as I know they like pork.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.