Mellow Mummy: April 2015 : Taking life as it comes...

Thursday 30 April 2015

The Merlin Pass Summer Sale #MyMerlinSummer

Summer is knocking on our door and there’s no better time to start planning your summer activities for the family. Have you started thinking about how you might fill the school holidays? What about fun summer weekends or half-term days out?

A Merlin Annual Pass gives you access to 31 worlds of fun, and for not just the summer months, as the pass will last you an entire year. This year the Summer Sale means that you could access all that’s on offer for less.

If it's theme parks that you’re into, then look no further as your Merlin Annual Pass will gain you entry into the UK’s biggest and best, including Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and THORPE PARK Resort.

Did you know that if you’re planning to visit one of the theme parks more than twice as a family, that you’re better off getting a Merlin Annual Pass in the Summer Sale?

If it’s London days out that you're after, then you’ve got loads available. How about a trip to Madame Tussauds, followed by the London Dungeon and even a once round on the London Eye? And not forgetting the London Aquarium, which is a family favourite for everyone!

Our personal favourite Merlin attraction is Alton Towers Resort where my two girls LOVE CBeebies Land.

If you live further afield there is also plenty to do, as your Merlin Annual Pass will gain you access into 11 SEA LIFE centres across the country, plus landmarks such as the Blackpool Tower.

The Merlin Annual Pass Summer Sale in on now for a limited time only, so don’t miss out on this amazing value for a whole 12 months of fun. Prices start from £109 per person.

Visit to purchase your pass and find out more about what's on offer.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Kids Craft Activity Sets from Yellow Moon

Yellow Moon sent the girls a bumper box of kids craft activity sets to fill the weekends with fun.

We love Yellow Moon craft sets because they are great time fillers for if the girls get a bit restless at the weekend while I'm cooking or if we have jobs to do that they can't join in with - each pack usually contains 4 to 6 sets of the same, or similar activity. This means that both girls get a chance to try out a craft together and that they can have a couple of tries to get things just perfect. It also means that when we have friends over to play, I can lift out one of these craft sets for them all to enjoy. The sets also make great gifts for friends and family.

Lara and Holly both enjoyed making these brightly coloured stained glass beach huts in the days after we got back from a short break to the seaside in Dorset. I think these would make a wonderful summer holiday activity. The kits contain the delicate black paper outlines and a selection of sheets of coloured cellophane which you can cut and stick into place and then hang with the ribbons provided.  The set contains 6 beach huts in a range of designs.

This weekend we made these brightly coloured pot-plant gnome stakes which are designed to catch the sunlight through their coloured segments.  We used porcelain paint pens to colour in the plastic because we didn't have any glass pens or glass paint available - it seemed to work quite well.  Holly particularly enjoyed this activity and wanted to place her gnomes in the garden to look after our chilli plants!

And tonight the girls have been making these!  These little finger puppets are great examples of quick craft activities that can occupy the girls for a few minutes.  I just needed a little bit of space while cooking the dinner tonight so I sat the girls down with one of these alien finger puppet sets each and they set to sticking all the pieces together, really helping one another with their creations.  It was a great show of teamwork.

Don't forget that you can earn between 5% and 20% cashback for your school on most Yellow Moon purchases.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Cooking with Kids :: Chicken Satay Recipe

Ever since I was a little younger than Lara is now, chicken satay has been one of my favourite meals.  In our house, chicken satay with rice and an oriental salad (gado gado) is probably our number one family meal that we all enjoy together.  These days the girls can help me out with a few of the main elements of the meal.

We like to serve our chicken satay with fluffy basmati rice (ideally cooked in a Rice Cooker to make it extra fluffy and to make sure that the whole house fills with the yummy smell of rice in the build up to dinner time).  I make a sweet and hot peanut dipping sauce to accompany the satay and serve the whole meal with prawn crackers.


3 large chicken breasts
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce or ketchap manis
2 cloves of garlic
1 inches of ginger root
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour

For the sauce
2 heaped tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
180ml of tap water
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey

For the salad
2 carrots
half a cucumber
200g beansprouts
a handful of cashew nuts
3-4 hard-boiled eggs


1. Peel and roughly chop the ginger and garlic.  Dice the chicken into pieces no bigger than 1 inch cubes.  Place the chicken pieces with the ginger, garlic, turmeric, five spice powder, oil, soy sauce and cornflour into a large mixing bowl and mix well to coat.  Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to marinate.  Holly loves messy jobs like this (and beware, turmeric and oil have a tendency of staining EVERYTHING) but her big sister isn't so keen.

2. You can make the sauce well ahead of time.  Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until the peanut butter melts into the water.  It will look like it is separated.  Keep stirring and within a couple of minutes it will miraculously thicken.  Once it does this, take it off the heat and pour straight into small dipping bowls to cool.

3. I also like to prepare the salad in advance because it gives me more time to concentrate on other things later.  You can serve the salad hot or cold.  Chop the carrot into batons and steam over a pan of hot water until just softened.  Place the beansprouts into the boiling water you used for steaming the carrots and keep them there for a maximum of one minute before draining them.  Chop the cucumber into batons around the same size as the carrots and then mix all the vegetables together.  Sprinkle on the cashew nuts (you may wish to toast them first) and  pieces of boiled egg.  Sometimes we also sprinkle on slices of fresh red chilli, or fresh corriander.  You can also make this salad with green beans.

4. Place the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers.  We currently use small metal kebab skewers but the traditionalist in me prefers to use bamboo skewers (you can buy big bags of these in your local supermarket) because I love the smell of the bamboo as it warms (aka burns) under the grill.

5. Grill the satay kebabs for around 10-15 minutes, turning frequently to ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve your satay with steamed basmati rice and prawn crackers for dipping into the peanut sauce (this is our favourite part of the whole meal).

Monday 27 April 2015

Leapfrog LeapTV - Disney Sofia The First Children's Console Game Review

The LeapTV from Leapfrog is an educational learning console that turns your TV into an interactive gaming experience for little people.  I will admit that we don't very often use our LeapTV because, until now, Holly had really been too small to play on it and when her big sister did so, she really wanted to join in but we've recently discovered Sofia the First for LeapTV which is a game suitable from age 3 upwards and, as Holly's co-ordination, learning and understanding is improving, she is able to join in.

Sofia the First, Picnic Games on LeapTV features the Disney trainee princess taking on lots of training challenges in preparation for a grand royal picnic.  Your child has to use the hand-held controller to navigate through the gardens to find picnic challenges to play such as growing and arranging magical flowers for the table decorations to flying Sofia's magical horse, Minimus.

Some of the games practice very basic phonics skills which is perfect for Holly who has recently grasped the concepts of letter sounds and can recognise her first simple letter shapes.  The growing game encourages your child to select one letter shape over another based on the sound and Holly feels very proud when she gets it right.  The flying game encourages hand-eye co-ordination and it is really interesting to see the different levels of skill between Lara (nearly 6) and Holly (nearly 3) as they play with the interactive controller.  Holly has to concentrate very hard to get the characters on the screen to do what she intends them to do but she really does understand the concept of cause and effect.

I like this game (I wouldn't play it myself!!!) for Holly as the language is clear and the instructions easy to follow.  My one concern is that there is quite a lot of time at the start-up of the game where we have to sit and wait for the game to be ready to play.  Additionally, as each mini-game loads up it seems to take FOREVER for the game to load.  This is a big problem for someone as small as Holly who simply doesn't understand the delay and quickly loses interest.

That said, for a slightly older child such as Lara, there is a lot to get out of this game.  Many of the mini-games that use numbers, letters or vocabulary are quite easy for Lara now but she enjoys the challenge of completing them so that she can earn medals (and there are lots of medals to earn).  Lara can see and explore all of the more in-depth parts of the game such as collecting gems and hunting for horseshoes.  This is the secret which causes them to come back to a game over and over again.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Leapfrog Blogger Panel and was sent the LeapTV game to review.  All opinions are my own.


Sunday 26 April 2015

Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival

Yesterday we took the girls to Wembley Arena to see Disney on Ice, Magical Ice Festival.  We've seen a few Disney on Ice performances in the past but I have to say I think this was our favourite to date.

75% of the show had very little to do with a Magical Ice Festival at all, but we didn't mind one bit.  The show featured some really nice long performances from The Little Mermaind, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast and, of course, Frozen.

We all really enjoyed the show, not just the girls.  Mr. B. and I most like the impressive group dances which feature amazing outfits, perfectly-choreographed ice dance routines and lots of people on the rink at any one time all dancing to a well-known Disney song.  The girls, of course, most enjoyed "Let it Go" which was one of the final masterpieces of the show featuring a sparkly snowflake centre-piece, fireworks and snow falling from the ceiling.

The show is popular with both boys and girls and there were lots of people dressed up as Olaf, Elsa and Anna.

If you've never been to a Disney on Ice performance before then I really recommend this one which features lots of stunning group dances and Frozen sing-along songs.  Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival is appearing across the UK in Cardiff from the 29th April - 3rd May, Nottingham from the 7th-10th May and Leeds from the 13th - 17th May. Click here for ticket details and show times. Tickets are on sale NOW.

Friday 24 April 2015

Ozeri WeightMaster II Bathroom Scales Review

Since I started running last spring I have lost two stone but when I injured myself at Christmas, I found that my weight plateaued and furthermore, ever since I ran my half marathon in March, some of the bad habits have crept back in and my weight has started to creep up.  This week I've decided to do something about it and I have a new set of bathroom scales to help me keep track of my progress and to monitor my BMI.

I am a big fan of Ozeri's kitchen equipment and have used their kitchen scales in the past but this is the first time that I've tried their bathroom scales.  The Ozeri WeightMaster II is a digital bathroom scale which can measure your weight (cough... mass) and calculate your BMI.  It can also maintain user profiles so that you can monitor your own weight over time.

Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight, the fact that the WeightMaster II can maintain a history of weight measurements means that you can track your progress.  You program in upto 8 different user profiles and from then on, when you step on the scale, it recognises you... measures you... then tells you how things have changed in the last 1, 3, 7 and 30 measurements.

Mr. B. and I have struggled a bit with the automatic user profile recognition.  Although we are different heights, we have quite similar weights at present and so the WeightMaster seems to umm and aaah when I step on the scale and will cycle through the user profiles before making a decision.  Mr. B. doesn't use the scales very often so I can't tell if he is having the same problem but in the short term, I deleted his profile (mwah ha ha) and this sped things up a bit and reduced the confusion.

One of the features I really like about the Ozeri WeightMaster II is that the display will turn green or red depending on whether you have lost or gained weight since your last measurement.  Ordinarily I only measure once per week but to test out the scales I have been trying them several times a day to learn how my body weight fluctuates throughout the day - its very interesting to see the times of day when it tends to turn red, compared to green and really goes to show why, if you are tracking your weight, you should always measure at the same time of day and week to get a good comparison.

I think that the immediate BMI calculation is a great idea as, really, this is more important than overall weight.  Again, because Mr. B. and are are different heights, it is interesting to see that currently he is officially classed as "overweight" based on his BMI result but as I am taller, I am classed as "healthy".

The Ozeri WeightMaster II scales can be switched from kg to lbs easily.  It comes in either white or black and is on offer at Amazon at present so costs around £30 (plus postage) from Amazon.  At present the Ozerio Touch II scale is on offer for £35 on Amazon and this model includes Body Fat, Hydration and Muscle/Bone Mass.


Thursday 23 April 2015

Cooking with Kids :: Honey Mustard Chicken and Sweetcorn Tagliatelle Recipe

On nights like tonight, I'm definitely in "the zone" when it comes to cooking dinner.  Both girls were absolutely shattered after their days at nursery and school and could barely stay awake and Mr. B. was busy preparing to go out for the evening so I wanted to get dinner done quickly and with no fuss.  I cooked this meal as I knew that it would perk both of the girls up as it is one of their favourite dishes.

Honey Mustard Chicken and Sweetcorn Tagliatelle - Serves 2-3 people
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes

200g dried tagliatelle
1 pouch Green Giant Express Sweetcorn
2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 dessert spoon clear honey
1 dessert spoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1. Boil the pasta according to the instructions.
2. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and fry until browned - this will take around 5 minutes.
3. With about 1 minute to spare, cook the Green Giant sweetcorn pouch in the microwave, according to the instructions.
4. Sprinkle the chilli powder and lemon juice into the frying pan with the chicken. Stir in the mustard and honey until well coated.
5. To serve, sprinkle the chicken and cooked sweetcorn over the pasta.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Disney On Ice Magical Ice Festival Preview

This weekend we are taking the girls to Wembley Arena for a very special even - the 2015 Disney on Ice extravaganza which features Anna and Elsa from Frozen.  The latest Disney on Ice live show is the Magical Ice Festival - lots of icy fun with all of the magic, drama and theatre of Disney set on ice to add a magical feel and to make the Frozen story really come to life.

Lara and Holly are massive fans of the hit movie, Frozen and they are very much looking forward to dressing up in their own Anna and Elsa dresses for a magical evening at Wembley.  We have attended a couple of Disney on Ice shows and always find them truly breathtaking - the girls get totally swept away in the music and glamour and like to clap along and sing when they know the words.

The Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival features lots of other favourite Disney characters as well as Frozen.  Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse guide fans through a wintery wonderland where they encounter Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Disney’s Tangled and the loyal enchanted servants from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

But I think that the special guest appearances of Anna and Elsa from Frozen are really going to steal the show. We are looking forward to a journey up the North Mountain with Olaf the snowman, Kristoff and his cuddly reindeer Sven.  If it is anything as good as the Disney on Ice retelling of Tangled in previous years, then I know it's going to be awesome.

Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival is appearing across the UK in London from the 23rd to 26th April, Cardiff from the 29th April - 3rd May, Nottingham from the 7th-10th May and Leeds from the 13th - 17th May. Click here for ticket details and show times. Tickets are on sale NOW.

Monday 20 April 2015

Allergy Awareness Week - Spring Cleaning Tips

This week is Allergy Awareness Week and Time4Sleep have asked me to share my top tips for spring cleaning as a way of reducing allergens in and around the house.  This is particularly well timed because Lara seems to have, in the last month, shown the first signs of developing spring allergies. 

Lara has always had sensitive skin and we've made attempts to reduce her exposure to dust around the house as well as trying to always use skincare products without known allergens.  But more recently Lara has been showing signs of airborne allergies with a consistent sniffle so it is time to start investigating the causes.  We're starting by giving the house a spring clean so here are my top tips for spring cleaning to reduce allergens in the house.

1. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner

If you suffer from allergies, you should invest money in a vacuum cleaner that can remove as much of the dirt from your floors and upholstery as possible.  Many allergy-specific vacuum cleaners will additionally filter the air from the cleaner to reduce allergens in the air around your house.  I have experimented with a water-filter vacuum before and found this to leave the house feeling very clean (but I killed it by trying to suck up water from the now-infamous tap incident).  Currently I'm using a Dyson Animal which passes the air through HEPA filters before releasing it back into your house.  Vacuum cleaners like this don't come cheap, but they do make a big difference in the home.

Time4sleep have done a little research into the places in the UK most at risk of dust mites, and have some tips on how to tackle dust mites.

2. A little an often
Try and keep on top of cleaning jobs such as dusting, sweeping and wiping down surfaces.  If you clean one small area regularly, it won't feel like such a chore as if you save it all up for the weekend and the house will feel generally cleaner, preventing build up of allergens such as those found in household dust.  Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

3. Use natural cleaning products
We like to try and use eco-friendly cleaning products where possible (and where they actually get the job done). Apart from having a lower impact on the environment than many household chemicals, natural cleaning products are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.  Using natural cleaning products doesn't have to mean that you resort to vinegar and lemon juice (though they are very effective in my experience) - many supermarkets now stock cleaning products with high natural content and you can find natural cleaning products online, for instance at

4. Dry bedding outside (but not when pollen is high!)
We wash the girls bedding regularly to try and keep on top of allergens.  Until now, I had always felt that, when the weather was good enough to dry the bedding outside on the washing line, this was preferable to tumble-drying or hanging indoors because it got them fresh air and away from the indoors dust.  Now that Lara is showing signs of potential hayfever, I'll have to keep an eye on this as pollen from outdoors could make things worse!

5. Throw Away Old Newspapers
Newspapers can harbour mould spores so make sure you put old papers out for recycling regularly rather than letting them collect inside the house.

6. Wash Soft Toys Regularly
We always experience tears when the girls favourite cuddly toys have to go through the wash but regularly washing (washable) soft toys along with your bedding on a high-temperature wash is a good way of killing and preventing dust mites.

For more advice on allergen avoidance in the house, visit Allergy UK.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Little Tikes Jelly Bean Ride-On Racer Review

Very occasionally, a new toy will arrive in our lives and become such an integral part of our daily life that I barely even notice it is there.  The Little Tikes Jelly Bean Racer was sent to us for review a couple of months ago now and from the very moment that I unpacked it, Holly has been riding it around the house.  Every evening when we get home from work, every night before bed, every morning before breakfast Holly can be seen shooting from room to room. At first it seemed a bit strange to watch her sit down on this ride-on just to travel two metres into the next room but now it has become such a common sight that it no longer feels strange.

Ever since Holly turned 1 (she is about to turn 3) we have been trying to find a ride-on toy that would work well on the floors inside the house.  We had a good quality ride-on for use in the garden but we have always wanted an indoor option for Holly who has a lot of energy inside the house that we like to harness.  To date, we had tried a number of options but they all either struggled on carpet, or else tipped over too easily.  The Little Tikes Jelly Bean ride-on has worked perfectly for us - it is as usable for Holly on our carpets as it is on laminates or tiles and it seems very stable indeed.

The Little Tikes Jelly Bean Ride-On Racer is available from Online4Baby for £58.95.  It comes in red or pink.  We like it because it is so simple - it isn't trying to be anything other than a fun ride-on toy.  There are no compartments to hide things in and no electric pieces to make noises.  Holly just loves rushing around the house on it.  The Jelly Bean has two thick handles for your little one to grab on to and a nice flat, thick seat area.  There are four wheels which provide a good level of stability and it is sturdy enough and strong enough to use both indoors and outdoors.

The Little Tikes Jelly Bean Racer does look a bit like a jelly bean!  I love the fact that it isn't branded or emblazened with TV characters and so Holly can enjoy it for what it is... a means of moving from A to B.  Fast.  It is suitable for small people from about 1 year old to around 3 years old (I think Holly has a good year's worth of use ahead of her!).

I think this is a great first ride-on toy and I just wish we had discovered it when Holly was younger and not wasted our money on other alternatives.  If there is one slight downside, it is that the steering is very direct (point yourself in the direction you want to go) and Holly still finds that she needs to stand up, manouvre the ride-on and then sit back down again...I don't think she needs to, just that she hasn't found the steering to come naturally and when you are only ever travelling between rooms of the house, there isn't much need for steering.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Netflix Easter Holidays Choices #StreamTeam

Despite having to work for quite a bit of the Easter holidays, we have managed to find some time to relax and chill out (and my, don't we need it).  Right now, we're really enjoying our Netflix subscription - all four of us.

The girls can easily get stuck in a rut when it comes to television and will quite happily watch the same thing AGAIN and AGAIN so we like to encourage them to try something new at least once a week (more for our own sanity than anything).  We particularly like to use the Apple TV interface to Netflix where the children can browse the catalogue using just the images of the characters.  

This is how we discovered Oggy and the cockroaches which has become a new favourite.  Oggy and his friends are cats who are plagued by a gang of cockroaches.  This is traditional slapstick cartoon mayhem with some quite extreme accidents and tricks which make the girls roll around the room in laughter.  There is no talk, just music and sound effects so the comedy is timeless.

New on Netflix this Easter for children is Disney's Wreck it Ralph; a great idea for a rainy afternoon or just for a bit of a calm-down period after a busy day out.  Wreck it Ralph gets awesome reviews from both adults and children and Netflix.

Having recently finished our Breaking Bad marathon, Mr. B. and I have yet to be tempted in by any of the other series' we have sampled.  We are still trying to settle in to Netflix original prequel, Better Call Saul but there are a few new arrivals on Netflix this April which may tempt us instead...

Friday 10 April 2015

Cooking with Kids :: Turkey Pitta Pockets with Tortilla Chips

With the change in weather, we have fancied a few lighter meals in the evenings.  Last night the girls helped me make healthy turkey pitta pockets served with an array of crunchy salads and Manomasa premium tortilla chips. It was such a quick meal to prepare, very summery and both the girls could get involved.


500g lean turkey mince
Ground black pepper
5-6 thinly sliced spring onions
1/4 teaspoon mild chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon tomato puree

Approx. 6 pitta bread, cut into two pieces

Lots of raw salad vegetables such as grated carrot, tomato, cucumber, celery, crispy iceberg lettuce, raisins
Grated cheese
1 bag Mamomasa Tomatillo Salsa Tortilla Chips


  • In a big mixing bowl, squish together the turkey mince, black pepper, spring onions, chilli powder and tomato puree.  Lara hates getting her finger dirty, but Holly loved kitchen activities like this!
  • Form the turkey mix into about 10 small patties and flatten them slightly to less than 1 inch thick.
  • Heat a large non-stick frying pan.  You can cook these with or without oil - they will take longer to cook without oil.
  • Fry for about 4 minutes on each side.  Check one of them is cooked all the way through before serving.

  • Lightly grill the pitta bread before serving.
  • The best way to serve this meal is to place the tortilla chips, cheese and salad in bowls in the middle of the table so that your children can help themselves.  Give everyone a pitta pocket and a turkey patty and then let them loose on the crispy bits.


Manomasa premium tortilla chips come in a range of shapes and sizes with some exciting flavours (which you really can taste).  Our family favourites were the Green Lemon and Pink Peppercorn traditional tortilla chips which we all LOVED.  You can find Manomasa chips in Waitrose, Whole Foods and independent delis.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Training for a 5k Race For Life #RaceForLife

It is around 100 days until Lara and I run a 5 kilometre Race for Life to raise vital funds to support Cancer Research UK.  Our fundraising is off to a good start, with 30% of our £500 target raised already.  Our fundraising will really kick off in the next few weeks and there are lots of fundraising ideas and support packs available through Cancer Research UK online to help us.

Lara had been running with me almost every weekend, just for 1-2km each time, and often very stop-start.  With our Race for Life approaching, I am keen to try and teach her to run the distance.  About 10 months ago I went through the same thing myself.  I used the NHS Couch to 5k scheme to help me go from nothing, to running for a full 30 minutes without stopping.  It took me 7 weeks, running three times a week to be able to run 5km without a break and at the time it took me nearly 39 minutes to complete the distance.

Race for Life do have a series of 5k training plans available for whether you are planning on walking, jogging or running your Race for Life.  I have decided to teach Lara using my own interpretation of the couch-to-5k scheme because we really only get a chance to run together at the weekends and because she is 5, she can't reasonably go for a run without me during the week!!!

Next weekend I am completing my Run England "Leadership in Running Fitness" course so training Lara up is good practice for my new coaching skills.

This past weekend I hoped to teach Lara to run in short repeats.  To push your body even when your brain is telling you to stop.  This is a phenomenally hard skill to learn, whatever your age but it is very hard to explain and to justify to a 5 year old.  We jogged for 3 minutes, and then walked for 90 seconds.  We did this over and over again for around 4.2 kilometres.  We held hands, we talked and giggled.  I showed Lara some of my favourite countryside running routes (it always surprises me how quickly we can be in the middle of the country given that we live in a fairly built up town).  Yes she did pester me every time those 3 minute stretches were beginning to drag but when we reached the end of each interval we had a nice rest and a chat.  I loved it.  She loved it.  I can't wait to do it again.

This weekend I intend to vary the intervals a bit.  Maybe 8 minutes jogging, 3 minutes walking?  That's a harder test of your body and brain's ability to keep on running.  I'm sure Lara will take it all in her stride.  I think she has a lot of energy and can probably run a lot faster than me once she has mastered the art of will-power and has learned to pace herself.  I don't think it will be too long before she can jog the full 5km race distance with me - a massive achievement for a 5 year old.

I have set up a JustGiving charity donation website for myself and Lara which took a matter of minutes to do.  We would LOVE it if you could sponsor us to complete our 5k challenge, whatever you can afford.  

Maybe you fancy joining the Pink Army this summer?  If you fancy joining in with the Race For Life challenge yourself then I have a £2 discount code off the cost of entry to any 2015 Race for Life.  Just quote RFLMel when entering the race online.  if you do join up, please leave me a comment below to let me know when and where you will be running - it'd be great to give each other support.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

#VanishGoldForWhites - The Bed Linen Challenge

This month, the members of the Vanish Blogger's Club were challenged to keep white bed linen looking as good as new with Vanish Gold for Whites.

Until the challenge started, I had never owned white bed linen... ever.  With two little people, and a black cat in the house, white bed linen had never crossed my mind.  But I tell you what, these crisp pure white pillowcases, sheet and duvet cover look incredibly smart and I've really enjoyed sleeping in them. It feels relaxing, luxurious and a bit decadent.

The girls, obviously, saw the white bed linen as a bit of a challenge and, no sooner had I put the sheets on, they clambered, naked, into our bed.  Cheeky.  The cat, who until a month ago had spent all of her days hidden underneath the bed, has decided that she also cannot resist the lure and has taken up residency on top of the bed.  I haven't really got a hope of keeping these clean, have I?

Thankfully, Vanish Gold for Whites promises to help me in my challenge to keep the bed linen looking as good as new.  Using the powder you can it place it directly into the drawer of the washing machine with your normal wash to help retain the as-new sparkle.

Vanish Gold for Whites can, under the right conditions, make your whites upto 3 shades whiter (as I showed last month with my grey-to-white shirt).  I've been experimenting a bit with some of my older white products such as manky tea-towels and my favourite white bath towels.  The white bath towels were a wedding present which seemed like a good idea at the time but over the past 7 years the towels, despite being washed alone, have lost some of their true whiteness.  I'm glad to have been able to restore some of their original brightness using Vanish Gold for Whites in the wash for the past few laundry runs.

The most dramatic changes have been on my manky tea-towels.  I won't share the pictures here because they are, despite their new lease of life, still very manky. But now they are definitely more white than they are gungy grey!

I'm looking forward to the ongoing challenge of keeping this bed linen clean - it'll be worth it for that feeling of crisp white fresh bed-linen during the summer.  I think the girls have already understood the magic of that feeling!

Monday 6 April 2015

Anna Lou of London

Anna Lou of London first contacted me to introduce me to their range of jewellery gifts for fashionable Mums back in early March, in the run up to Mother's day.  At the time, I scoffed a little and thought "pah, what's the likelihood of me getting anything like this for Mother's day?"  Anna Lou sent me a little gift of my own for mother's day and I loved it.  Loved it so much in fact that Mr. B. could obviously tell how taken I was with it and he took it upon himself to buy me a little Anna Lou addition as a wedding anniversary present.  Maybe I shouldn't have scoffed at the thought?!

My favourite pieces from the jewellery collection at Anna Lou of London are the bracelets.  I've been on the lookout for a set of striking bracelets for well over a year and until now I had never seen anything which quite captured my mellow, casual mood while still feeling special.  When I saw these brightly coloured stacking enameled bangles I knew they would be perfect, and so it seems, did Mr. B.

Enamel stacking bangles from Anna Lou of London

Each bangle is about 5mm thick with a golden trim.  There are a series of bold bright colours available at any one time to collect.  Each bangle costs £32.  I love the gentle jangle of them on my wrist and I like the idea of building on my collection, depending on my mood.  A new bracelet for the stack will make a great gift for me on several special occasions over the coming years!

I am also very taken with this Chevron bangle which can also be stacked in different blocks of colours.  There are currently about 8 different colours available - from brights to pastels as well as muted dark colours to choose from.  The Chevron bangle features a 14kt golden vermeil enamel with a button clasp.  I think its beautiful... the only problem being that I'm going to need more!  Each Chevron bangle costs £45.

So far I've worn my Anna Lou of London pieces at work (both smart and casual) and out for dinner as well as just pootling around the house.

For fashion and jewellery inspiration, you can find Anna Lou at

Sunday 5 April 2015

Ideas for Peppa Pig Easter Holiday Fun

Today has been a lovely day.  The girls have, of course, gone to bed on a massive sugar high but Easter Sunday was a wonderful day for exploring, egg-hunting and enjoying a family roast with the girls' Grandparents.  Our Easter Egg Hunt this morning saw the girls discovering their Peppa Pig Easter Eggs hidden inside a mini-green house!

Tomorrow we have a quiet day planned and I'm sure we'll get up to some Easter crafts and just chill out in front of the television.  As a working family, our Easter Holiday can't span the whole two week school break so we have to make the most of the mellow family days when we get a chance.  We have a short break planned later in the school holidays but for now we will enjoy the Bank Holiday and relax... we don't often get a chance to relax!

If, like my two girls, your children are still eager to prolong the Easter activities then you can find some fun Peppa Pig themed craft activities for the school holidays that can be downloaded and printed from the Peppa Pig website.  Right now there are Easter activities such as an Easter hat, Peppa Pig bunting and egg painting as well as puzzle games to play and competitions to enter. During the half-term holidays and the long summer-holiday there will be lots more fun family activity ideas to be found, all with a Peppa theme.

On the Peppa Pig website you can also find out whether Peppa will be visiting anywhere near you during the Easter holidays.  As Peppa Pig holiday bloggers we were sent a sample of product ideas for the Easter holidays - how about this small travel activity colouring set which can slip into your changing bag?


Or this fun summer sticker book which Holly absolutely adored (in fact, she played quietly with me and stuck in every sticker studiously for about an hour... anyone who has ever met Holly knows this is unheard of).

Of course, some of our lazy Easter Monday will probably be spent chilling out in front of the TV.  It is a good job we have a stock of Peppa DVDs to watch throughout the holidays too!

Our little Peppa fan will turn three soon and we have a very special Peppa Pig treat planned for her birthday!

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