Win a Haven Holiday

Fancying winning a 3 night weekend or 4 night Midweek break with Haven Holidays?    I thought you might............ All you have to do is share a picture of one of your Haven holidays saying why you think nothing beats a holiday by the seaside using through Haven’s Facebook app before 14 April 2013. Then Rory the Tiger will choose a winner and they can either have a 3 night weekend or 4 night Midweek break in a Deluxe caravan for up to six people before October 2013 (but this excludes July and August). Now I know that I am lucky to actually live by the sea, so I am biased, but I also know that nothing beats a seaside holiday.  There is something about the sea that makes me and the rest of the family relax and feel grounded.  The boys adore the sea.  They never seem to feel the cold of the water until they get out!  They love digging and making sandcastles and honestly nothing beats fish and chips out of the paper at the seaside. When I was growing up even though we lived by the sea, most of our family holidays were taken in our touring caravan at the great British seaside resorts.  In fact look at the photos my brother found of one of our holidays! holiday I love the fact that no matter how hot it was my Grandad would be fully dressed! I love reliving my holidays of past with my children, so why not enter and see if you can win a seaside holiday. For full terms and conditions please see the Haven Facebook app page
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For Better or Worse

MadDad and I have been together over 19 years and have been through many ups and downs, but how well do we actually know each other.  I like to think that we know each other pretty well, but Osbornes Solicitors asked us to put our knowledge of each other to the test with their new app For Better or Worse. scan0012 So We put the app to the test and I was pleased to say that MadDad kew quite a lot about me.  OK he didn't remember what I wore to our first date, but then neither did I!  However, he knows just how I like my tea and so he should has for the last eighteen years he has brought me a cup of tea in bed in the morning.  He knows my shoe size and my favorite food.  So as I far as I am concerned he knows all the major and important information. How did I do in comparison?   Well I am pleased to say that I too did OK.  Again, I can not remember a lot of the firsts. First date clothing, first words, first live band................... I have no idea, but then neither did he.  These things really do not matter in our relationship.  What matters is the present and the future.  What matters is that we continue to respect, love and cherish each other and that we put effort into making our marriage work. But he has never forgot an anniversary or a birthday and I know that my man is a keeper. So what about your that special someone?  How would they fair?  Why not give the app a go.  It made for some fun conversation and reminiscing in The Mad House. You can play on Osbournes Facebook page, or on the Osbornes website. 3.
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Homemade Birthday Cards

We are a family that loves making and receiving homemade cards.   However, I am aware the boys are getting older and I want to keep their enthusiasm for the homemade and very amateur cards.  So I thought I would share with you the cards I made for Maxi this year. Eight candle birthday card. 8 candle card Materials
  • Paper Straws
  • Card
  • Bakers twine (from Papermash)
  • Yellow and orange pen
  • Washi tape
  • Glue
  1. Firstly I cut the straws to length
  2. Then cut a small amount of backers twine and glue in the straw to make it look like a wick
  3. Then glue the straws to the card.
  4. I then used the pens to make the flames
  5. Finally I ripped off some washi tape and wrote happy birthday on it
You could make it look more professional by layering and matting a happy birthday stamp or even print happy birthday and print it off and use that. Bunting Birthday Card bunting eight   Materials
  • Washi tape
  • bakers twine
  • Card
  • Scissors
Method Card making doesn't get much easier than this!
  1. Make bunting flags equally spaced on the twine using the washi tape by foling it over on each other.
  2. Then cut a triange shape to the bunting using scissors
  3. Stick on to the card with tape at the rear of each side.
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Keeping children entertained on car journeys

We have just come back from London, which for us is a five hour car journey each way.  We used to put portable DVD players in the car for these length of journeys, but at the moment we are working on reducing screen time, so we left them at home. entertaining I also am a great planner and in the boot of the car I have travel packs for journeys.  If you have ever been unlucky enough to have a flat tire or a breakdown with children in the car, you will understand just how much of a lifesaver having something they can do in the car is.
With this in mind I have we have activity packs in the boot of the car.  I have folders with everything they could need for a specific activity.  So if there is puzzle books, then I will make sure there is a couple of pens of different colours and also a highlighter for the wordsearches and a small dictionary for crosswords.
I tend to save all the crayons and pencils you get in restaurants and also all the little sticker packs and gift packs you get with children’s magazines.    The pound shop is also a perfect place to get things for this too.
Other things you could include in the packs are:
      • dot to dot books
      • puzzle books - maze, crosswords, word searches
      • Maths or english books
      • sticker books
      • Mess free painting
      • Plasticine
      • Small pots of playdough and a tray
      • Travel games such as battleship, connect four
      • A pack of cards
We also have other games that we play, that do not need anything at all and the boys current favorite is "I am thinking of..............".  This involves them thinking of something ie a country and then we have to ask questions to try and figure out what it might be.  I have learnt that their geography and knowledge of flags is way better than mine! How do you keep your children entertained on car journeys?
This is an entry in to the Tots100 Jolly Journeys competition in conjunction with Travel Supermarket.  Take a look at their UK car hire , as this is where they will be displaying some of the best tips they receive.
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Eggs decorated with washi tape

This is one of those craft activities that you can do whilst mindlessly watching the TV.  Sometimes on an evening when I spend time with MadDad I have the urge to craft, but it needs to be be something that I can do whilst chatting about our day and perhaps watching TV or listening to music.  These masking (washi) tape eggs really fitted the bill. washi eggts   To make it even easier you could use polystyrene eggs rather than blown eggs and then you wouldn't worry about pressing too hard either.  All I did was place strips of tape length way on the eggs from heat to point and kept going over lapping each time. They would look lovely hunt onto a branch as an Easter tree too, however, mine make me happy in one of my many cake stands and dishes. washi tape eggs
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Pom Pom Bunnies and Chicks

We have a thing for Pom Poms and have made lots of things with them preciously including pom pom bunting.  However, with Easter on the way we decided to try our hand at Pom Pom Bunnies and Pom Pom Chicks.  It was also the ideal opportunity to let Maxi lose with the glue gun. pom pom bunnies Materials
      • Yarn
      • Pom Pom Maker
      • Felt - yellow for the chicks, pink and white for the bunnies
      • Glue - we used the glue gun, but also fabric glue
      • Small beads for eyes
Method - Bunnies
  1. Make two pom poms using white wool.  One smaller than the other.  We used a clover pom pom maker.
  2. In white felt cut out a small heart for the bunnies feet and two ear shapes for each ear.
  3. In pink felt cut out a smaller Inner ear and also a tiny triangle for the bunny's nose
  4. Using a glue gun, stick the smaller pom pom on top of the large one
  5. Using fabric glue stick the pink inner ear on to the white ears and allow to dry
  6. Using fabric glue stick the eyes and nose on to the smaller pom pom and then the ears to the rear of the pom pom.
  7. The stick the heart to the bottom of the bunny with the pint facing the rear.
There is a super tutorial at maedchenmitherz. pom pom chicks Method - Chicks
  1. Make a largeish pom pom in yellow wool for the chick's body
  2. In yellow felt cut out two shapes for the chicks wings and one for the chicks tail feathers.  Also cut a small triangle for the chicks beak - in future ones I will make this orange to stand out more.
  3. Stick the wings and tail to the pom pom using a glue gun.
  4. Stick the eyes and beak on using fabric glue
bunny collageWe have also been making pom pom bunny bunting over on A Thrifty Mum.  
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Smartie Birthday Cake

It has become something of a tradition that Maxi always has a chocolate smartie cake for his birthday.  This year I decided to try and do something a little more eye catching.  I love baking, but find icing larger cakes something of a chore.  So this cake is very forgiving. cake   Cake Ingredients 
  • 6 oz of butter or marg
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 5 oz of self raising flour
  • 1 oz of coco powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • half teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
Method.  Cream together the marg/butter and sugar.  Then add the rest of the ingredients in and mix well! Put in two 7 inch cake tins (I line the tins with parchment and grease) and place in to a preheated oven of 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  You can tell if the cakes are cooked if when you press the top it gives slightly but springs back. Remove from oven and leave for 2 minutes before removing from tins and placing on to a wire rack to cool. inside cake Icing Ingredients:
  • 1 block of butter (250gm of 10 oz)
  • 450 grams icing sugar
  • 50 gms of coco powder
  • half teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
Method Soften the butter in a mixer before adding the other ingredients.  Make sure you start mixing very slowly so you do not get icing sugar everywhere.  If your mixer does not have a splatter guard then cover with a tea towel. cake 1 Assembling the cake Sandwich together your two cakes with icing and then apply the remaining icing around and on top of the cake.  You are going to use the using around the cake to stick the chocolate fingers to the cake, so make sure you have enough at the sides. I applied the fingers and then refrigerated the cake overnight, before covering the top with smarties the following day.  
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How to make a Pinecone Owl and other pinecone crafts

Maggie at Red Ted Art (who has a new craft book out) hosts a regular Google + Hangout and this weeks was all about Pinecone crafts.  Mini has been studying nocturnal animals this week, so we decided to make a pinecone owl. This is one of those crafts that you can adjust dependent on the age of your child yu cutting out all the felt (or foam) and allowing them to glue it or they can cut it out and glue it too.  I made templates for the boys to draw around on the felt with a soft pencil and they cut out the felt themselves. pinecone owls Materials
  • Pine-cones
  • Felt (or craft foam) in yellow, brown and orange
  • googly eyes
  • Glue gun or glue (Maxi uses a glue gun, but mini uses craft PVA)
felt for owl Method
  1. Cut out in yellow a figure of eight shape for the base of the eyes larger than your googly eyes and stick the eyes to it.
  2. Then using orange felt or foam cut out a small triangle for the beak and curves with points which are the owls feet.
  3. You cut out a square in brown for the owls hat - approximately 2 inches in size, but this depends on your pine cone.
  4. Cut two triangles for the owls wings
  Other Pinecone crafts I have done over the years include:

pinecone garland

Pinecone and heart garland


 Pinecone bird feeders 

pinecone doorPinecone door decoration

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If only I had know…………..

        • me and baby boysThat time truly flies and people were not exaggerating when they said "they grow up so fast"
        • That life really does change when you look at that tiny bundle and suddenly realise you are responsible for another human being
        • That one so small can create so much poo
        • That irony is not lost on babies
        • That boys WILL wee on you as soon as you remove their nappy
        • That no matter what colour you dress your child in, people will always think they are of the opposite sex
        • That second hand is not second best
        • That it will take 30 minutes more than you allowed to get out of the house
        • That babies smelled so good after a bath
        • That sleep is for the weak
        • That colic does get better
        • That cold tea is all I will drink for months and to invest in a thermos cup
        • That LEGO is a weapon
        • That poo could be such a funny word to toddlers and boys of all ages
        • That it is OK to get angry
        • That I will never again be able to go to the toilet in peace
        • That I would know The Hungary Caterpillar off by heart
        • That I would cry on their first day at Preschool
        • That DVD's do not wear out though repetitive play even if you wish they would
        • That nativities are so emotional
        • That is it perfectly acceptable to get sick of cooking and preparing meals
        • That it is natural to live in constant fear of something bad happening to your child
        • That it is not acceptable to fancy one of the presenters of CBebbies
        • Daytime naps for Mummy as well as baby are totally acceptable
        • That the odd jar of baby food and bit of salt will not harm your child
        • That saying no to homework is OK
        • That the cleaning can wait
        • That it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help
        • That weetabix dries like concrete, so wipe it up quickly
        • That when people are starring at your whilst your child is having a tantrum are actually thinking "oh no, poor woman" rather than "gosh what a crap mother"
        • That I would be a better parent for having some me time
        • That being a parent is the hardest, but most rewarding job in the world
This post is my entry into the Aptaclub ‘If Only I’d Known…’ competition  
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Spring Manifesto – 2013

Firstly back to my Winter Manifesto and how I have fared.  I am really pleased to say that I pretty much have ticked everything off bar joining the local WI.  I have tried and rang them twice, but they have not got back to me.  I have finished Mini's quilt (blog post to come) and love my weekly craft lessons.  They are a real highlight of the week for me. minis quilt So onward and upwards, what do I want to do achieve over this spring:
      • Sew some seeds for the raised beds.  MadDad is the green fingered one, but I do love plotting and planning with him
      • Get on my bike.  I still haven't felt able and I really want to join the boys on theirs this spring
      • Take more photographs with all of us in.  I need to make a conscious effort to get in the picture.  I have even bought a remote control for the camera
      • Take the boys to park after school now the weather is improving
      • Sort out the conservatory/playroom.  The train table is about to collapse and we need to find some new storage for board games and a coffee table on a very tight budget.
      • Keep sewing and book some more day courses
What are your plans for this spring?
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