#Freerangesummer in France

We have continued our #freerangesummer this week in France thanks to Thompson Alfesco at La Croix du Vieux Pont in Picardy. It is the first time we have experienced a French campsite and we are all loving it.  We have spent the days exploring the local area and visiting lots of chateaux where the children can run and play to their hearts content. The park is also a great place to allow the children some freedom too.  We have set them boundaries and times and let them off to explore and play.  We have also brought my niece and it is wonderful to watch the three of them bond and play together.  They have had lots of fun  and freedom and we think this is a super family holiday. France Collage Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
The Mad House
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Top 5 back to school tips

It is nearly back to school time in England and it has been and passed for my Scottish friends, but I want to share my top 5 back to school tips with you.  These are my tips for making the transition back to school easier for everyone. back to school top tips
  1. Start moving bedtime gradually back to a school night time.  My boys go to bed between 7.30 and 8.00 pm on a school night, but have been going back to school much later during the holidays, especially this week as we are in France on holiday.  By bringing it back to their normal time over the next week or so, they will not lay in bed awake the night before school and their body will be accustom to the correct bedtime.
  2. Make getting your things out the night before a MUST for everyone in the house.  Starting the new school year organised goes a long way.  I try to set expectations for all of us that first week and stick with them.
  3. Don't be a martyr.   Why sit for hours stitching on labels, when you can stamp them or even better get one of the children to stamp them.  I love Stamptastic and the ones I stamped last year still look ace.  Involve everyone on getting things organised for back to school.  If you hate the shoe shopping then get your partner to do it for you.
  4. If you child is going on school lunch, get a different packed lunch bag, I love these from Pink Lining as not all the children's classmates will have them making them easier for your children to spot.  Also stock up the freezer with homemade baked goods such as these fab banana muffins (which go frozen in to the lunchboxes).  Saving you time the first few days of the new term.
  5. Make a chart with what needs doing my each child each morning.  I find that making sure the boys know what they need to do and in what order makes my life easier.   With the added joy of a puppy dog walking will be making its way on to that chart!
What do you do to make going back to school easier for the whole family? The Mad House
   
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#whatmattersmost with John Lewis

John Lewis have asked me to find the item I own that matters most to me to help celebrate the launch of their first ever TV advert for Insurance. So I had a long look round my house and actually realised that things are not what is important to me.  I remember the heartache and hard work it was emptying Mum's house after she died and I brought some of her things home with me, but for me the things that matter most are the things that we use all the time.  I try not to keep things fo0r best.  I adore the fact that I use my mums old rolling pin to make my pastry just as she would.  I find that the items that matter the most to me are the things that bring my family together, so I decided that my item would be my teapot. Tea is a drink to be shared.  A pot of tea is a social experience.   There is nothing in this world that can not be solved by a cup of tea. I start my day with a cup of tea brought up to me in bed by MadDad and my boys have also caught the tea bug off me.  We love the whole experience of making tea in a pot.  They love pouring in the milk, offering sugar and then pouring their tea.  It is a time when we all relax and take time to enjoy each others company and chat together.  It slows us down.  We have to be patient and wait for the tea to brew. I am not a tea bag girl and inherited my Grandad's love of tea leaves and I think this is why I have a thing for tea pots.  Loose leaf tea is much nicer from a teapot, so we have pots of various size ranging from a single person pot to our family teapot which holds four good mugfulls.  This is my favorite teapot of all.  I think that it is due to the fact that we use it as a family.  It is too big for two or three people, we all need to be having a cup or two to warrant its use.  So it is the family teapot. To celebrate the fab advert John Lewis have launched a competition on Vine to find out #whatmattersmost to people.  You can find out more about the compeition here http://whatmatters.johnlewis-insurance.com/competition/.  You need to share your vine video with the hashtag #whatmattersmost for the possibility to win a weekly prize of a Canon SLR and the grand prize £1000 John Lewis vouchers. 3.
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Win 4 tickets to the Fruit Shoot Skills Awards on 7th September 2013

This summer, leading children’s soft drink brand Robinsons Fruit Shoot, in association with Nickelodeon, launched Get Your Skills On, a campaign designed to give kids the chance to give kids the chance to learn the latest cool skills ranging from street dance to free style basketball to urban percussion. With the help of the Fruit Shoot Skills Crew, a seven-strong troupe of record breakers and skilled performers, Fruit Shoot scoured the nation in search of Britain’s most skilled kids. Skills_Awards_Large3-460x286 To celebrate the nation’s talent, Fruit Shoot and Nickelodeon will be hosting the star studded Fruit Shoot Skills Awards on 7th September 2013 and we have four tickets to give away! Held at IndigO2, the awards will be hosted by none other than Olympian Tom Daley and headlined by X Factor stars Union J. With live music performances from Britain’s Got Talent stars The Luminites and Nickelodeon star Brad Kavanagh, the award ceremony promises to be action-packed and will be broadcast on Nickelodeon at 5 pm on Sunday 8th, September. AF_044_Peter_Andre_Fruit_Shoots_Bham Some of the biggest names in film, TV and sport are also set to present the awards for seven skills-based categories. Not only that, but the Skills Crew will be demonstrating some of the active skills that form the award categories including free-running and street dance. Find out more at www.fruitshoot.co.uk All you have to do to be in with a chance of attending the Fruit Shoot Skills Awards is answer the following question: Question: Who will be hosting this year’s Fruit Shoot Skills Awards? a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Back to school Blog Linky – Stationery

back to school blog linky
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You can not have a back to school linky without talking about stationery.  Even as an adult my favorite part of back to school is new stationery!  My boys are not allowed to take stationery and pens to school, but it doesn't mean that I have failed to introduce them to the joys of new stationery and the joyous first blank page of a new note book.  Mini and I recently went back to school stationery shopping at Asda (you can see more pictures of our adventure on my Google+ page) where we got some handwriting pens, pencils, highlighters, ruler and pencil case.  The boys are going to keep these at home for their homework.
baclk to school personalised notebooks
We recently went on our road trip with Cass and the Mini Frugals and I decided to have a go at making personalised notebooks fo0r us and I used school exercise books.  I have lots and lots of Washi tape and thought that this was a great way of using some of it.
Method:
  1. On a sheet of white paper I laid strips of washi tape ion my chosen colour options.
  2. I then used my Cricut Mini to cut out the letters, but you could use a scalpel to cut them out.
  3. I added some glue to the rear of them and stuck them in the centre of the notebook.
The children loved them and I think it is great to have your own personalised notebook to record your feels on.  This would make a great way of personalising books, files and all sorts of other back to school stationery too.
Stationery Memories
As a child there was nothing I loved more than back to school stationery. I adored getting my pencil case ready and I remember having one that zipped up round the outside and held my pens, pencils and also my maths instrument set too.  I was never one of those girls that had an eraser collection, but remember looking at them longingly when the other girls got all theirs out!
I used to cover my exercise books with wallpaper or wrapping paper and then cover them with clear sticky back plastic contact paper to ensure they kept clean.  I remember looking at scientific calculators thinking that I would never learn to use all the buttons and the astonishment when I started to actually get what each one was for.
Oh and the joy of finding just the right nib for my fountain pen as we had to write in ink at my school.  I used to try to tear up my blotting paper so that it was all the same size and it used to annoy me when it was all different sizes.  Will my children even know what blotting paper is?
Oh yes, I still love September and stationery to this day.  How about you?
The Mad House
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#Freerangesummer and an Epic Visit to Kielder Forest

We spent a fabulous couple of days at Kielder Forest staying at Leaplish water park last weekend and I have to say that it was AMAZING. I promise a full review and update of our #EpicKielder adventure, but in the meantime I will leave you with some images. keilder It was a weekend filled with skimming stones, walking, new adventures, lots of fresh air and Mini falling asleep before dinner (which is unheard of). As you are reading this we will be off to France to experience Thompson Alfresco and a week of sunshine (hopefully). I hope you have had a great week and feel free to link up any summer posts. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
The Mad House
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TEFAL ingenio – A need, want, must have moment

ingenio

 Look the handle comes off so fast I couldn't catch it on camera!

Back in July as part of the Tefal Innovators project I was invited to London to take a look at the new Tefal products that were going to be hitting our shelves.  This is where I was introduced to the Tefal Optigrill (which we now use regularly) and also where I had a need, want, must have moment. Let me introduce to you TEFAL Ingenio, which is a set of pans which I am hoping will revolutionise my kitchen.  I am currently waiting to buy a full set and once I do I will let you know how I get on with them.  But first let me tell you why I really must have these pans. They have a detachable handle
  • This turns a pan in to a cake tin
  • This turn the pan in an oven dish
  • This turns the pan in to a serving dish
  • This makes them easier to store
  • This makes them harder to knock off the cooker
ingenioset330 Other Features:
  • Refrigerator to hon to oven to table
  • They have glass lids and plastic lids so you can store things in them
  • Titanium non-stick coating is extremely resistant and can be used with metal utensils (except whisks and knives)

  • Thermo-Spot heat indicator let’s you know when pan has reached optimal cooking temperature
  • Dishwasher and oven safe

The real benefit for me is that this pan set would mean that I could clear clutter from my kitchen.  I would not need tupperware, cake tins, pyrex  and oven dishes.  I would even get rid of my steamer and collender if I bought the steamer and draining attachment.

The Tefal Innovation Panelists

Disclosure: I was invited expenses paid to a blogger day in London and received a couple of Ingenio pans   
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Back to School Blog Linky

back to school blog linky

Can you believe that my scottish friends children have already gone back to school?  Here in England we have three more weeks, so I thought it might be a good idea to host a blog linky for all things back to school from school uniform reviews to first day photo's.

I would love you to join in and each week I will do a back to school post along with a round up including my favorite posts from the week before.

I am going to start things off by showing you how I record the boys first day at school:

Maxi

Maxi2

Mini

Mini1

The Mad House
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Crafting our Dream Car #DreamCarCraft

Carcraft are challenging people to craft their dream car to be in with the chance to win £50 worth of Amazon vouchers. craft your car It is really simple to enter all you have to do is: 1. Help your child (or children) craft their dream car. 2. Take a photo – there is room for more creativity here! 3. Finally, tweet us your photo at @Carcraft with the hashtag #DreamCarCraft. But get your skates on as it ends on Friday.  To find our more take a look at the craft your dream car terms and conditions. Today has been one of those days where we have all played hokey cokey with the weather (in, out, in, out, in, out) so we took the opportunity to work on our car when it was raining.   This is Mini's, it has speical wheels so it can go faster and it is make from rock for when you might get hungry whilst on long journeys!   3.
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#Freerangesummer – The next installment

Can you believe that it is less than 4 weeks until the children go back to school, much sooner than that for my fiends in Scotland.   Time really does fly when you are having fun.  I appreciate that not everyone is as lucky as me to be able to take the summer off work (pretty much) and spend time with their children, but I do think that it certainly polarises opinion of long school holidays. free range summer Last week was filled with lots of fun at Butlins with Dairy of a Frugal Family and believe it or not, it allowed for lots of free range parenting and provided me with the perfect place to allow the boys a little extra freedom.  I let them get their dinner and drinks on their own, go to the games room on their own and also spend time with the Frugal's  without me watching over my shoulder. We also managed to find some outdoor spaces to play in the most unlikely of settings.  The top image is a woodland service area just off the M25, the perfect spot to allow the children to let off some stream and go to the loo and the tree climbing took place on the edge of the car park at our Premier Inn hotel in Berkshire.  Just goes to show you that outdoor play and adventure is never far away and that children can play anywhere given the chance. Alvin is also proving to be an excellent competition for our #freerangesummer and we are all benefiting for dog walking adventures. What have you been up to this week?  I would love for you to link up. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
The Mad House
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/" title="The Mad House" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/free-range-summer.jpg" alt="The Mad House" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Why not grab my badge if you are enjoying my #freerangesummer posts.  
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