#BigMatchPlanner Twitter Party, 10th of June, 2014 at 1pm

Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about how to prepare for the big match with Coke from Tesco!  On Tuesday the 10th of June at 1pm BST, please join us for the #BigMatchPlanner Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing your fun FIFA World Cup plans and giving you a chance to win prizes! #BigMatchPlanner-Twitter-Party-6-10 With two football mad boys and a football mad husband, I know that they are going to be glued to the TV over the Fifa World Cup, so I am either going to have to join them or be a little sad Jen all on my own, although I am planning on getting some crafting done during some of the games! coke floats I have always had a thing for Coca Cola and the boys enjoy the occasional coke float (everything in moderation), we are going to be be celebrating the World Cup with a coke in The Mad House and I would love for you to join me in celebrating at the #BigMatchPlanner Twitter Party. Join me and RSVP for the #BigMatchPlanner Twitter Party on SoFabChats!   DATE: Tuesday, the 10th of June, 2014 TIME: 1-2pm BST PRIZES: 5 - £60 Tesco Gift Cards EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 - £30 Tesco Gift Cards HOSTS: @mum_themadhouse, @keepupjonesfamily and @cherry_o GUEST HOSTS: @kiddycharts and @Jessies_kitchen RULES: #BigMatchPlanner Official Rules RSVP & PARTY GRID: #BigMatchPlanner Twitter Party Page How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats! TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party - sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page! TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page! TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible! TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win! TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that options checked when you RSVP for the party! TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns - they are slower paced and easier to follow! TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend! Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!    
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Win a break at Center Parcs

We fell in love with Center Parcs when we visited Whinfell earlier in the year.  It was a perfect family holiday and had something for everyone in the family. Center Parcs are currently giving people the opportunity to win a break a the Center Parcs Village of their choice with the #wincpbreak competition which they are running on twitter and the Center Parcs facebook page. How to Enter For people that have been to Center Parc's previously share a photo on either twitter or facebook using the #wincpbreak hashtag of what you would be doing if you were at Center Parcs today. If you haven't visited Center Parcs don't worry you can enter too, just share a photo of you and your family spending time together using #wincpbreak hashtag on either twitter or facebook. Make sure you use the #wincpbreak hashtag on and tweet it to @centerparcsuk. Center Parcs will be taking over Waterloo train station from Monday 9th to Friday 13th June and any of the photos submitted with the hashtag #wincpbreak could be used on the largest indoor motion screen in the UK. At 40 metres long and 3 metres wide, it will showcase the photos while highlighting the variety of activities available at our Center Parcs Villages. The small print: To find out more visit the competition website.  The closing date for the competition is midday on Friday, 13th June and once the competition has closed, two winners will be selected at random from all the entries received. My Entry: It has been really hard to choose just one photo from our fantastic break.  We all loved it for different reasons.  The boys adore the activities and for them it would be the high ropes.  MadDad loved the setting and the  fact that we could do activities as a family.  Me, well I loved the spa and taking time out on my own. mini center parcs So we put our heads together as a family and decided this snap of Mini in the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise.  We all had a blast in the pool.  There is something very something really special about riding the rapids and going outside on an evening in the water, plus I have water babies and we had to fight to get them to leave. CenterParcs Family Blog Club Disclosure: We are Center Parcs family bloggers
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My Kitchen Shelves #Shelfie

I love my kitchen.  It is eight years old and starting to show it's age now.  I am sure that the quality of kitchens they put in new houses is not very good at all, but the one thing it lacks is storage and display space.  So last year MadDad bought me these fab shelves from Ikea. shelfie I have something of a passion for kitchenalia and love everything on my shelves.  I live in a house surrounded by males who would quite happily live in a white box with only essential items around and play football in the house.  My shelf is my rebellion against it all and against them taking over my domain! Top shelf (left to right)  
  • Camila Prada storage jar and salt and pepper pots.  These are too cute to put in a cupboard and I adore Camilla's work which is all handcrafted in England.
  • Yellow and black mugs from Asda
  • Print from Wink Designs
  • Orla Kiely storage tins
  • Cup from Bread and Jam
  • Bowls from Ikea
  • Paper straws (ebay)
  • Storage tins from Orla Kiely
Bottom Shelf (left to right)
  • Milk bottles from Dotcomgiftshop
  • Teapot from Amazon
  • Vintage mint sauce jug
  • Avoca Jug
  • Ikea Bowls
  • Another mug from Bread and Jam
  • Bisto Tin
  • Another Camilla Prada creature
  • Loom bands - got to keep it real!
  • Mason Cash Bowl
  • Rolling pin from Anthropology
Hooks
  • Enamel cups and teapot from Paperchase
As you can probably tell from my shelves I am a Mid Century girl, but according to the Victoria Plumb quiz I am more elegant!  There is still time for you to enter too, take a look at the Tots100 to find out more.
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Why process art is important for kids

Sometimes it is really easy for us to fix a finished idea in our head when crafting and creating with our kids, especially in this Pinterest age.  I can be be guilty of this too and it was one of the reasons that I stopped doing tutorials when the boys were younger as their idea of the finished product was often not the same as mine. Why process art is important for kids Even now and my boys are nine and eight this month I feel that it is important to just allow them to create sometimes and to let them go with the flow. So when we were sent our craft kit for the Tots100 Bostik Craft Club (You can buy similar kits to this from online suppliers such as Craft Merrily and Yellow Moon, I decided to just pop it all out on the table and let the boys create with no expectations of outcome at all. This project was all about the focus being on the process not the outcome.  I wanted to encourage the boys to create, develop and explore their own creative ideas.  I wanted their artwork to be a reflection of their interpretation and ideas. I think that at eight and nine it is just as important to not always have a preconceived notion about what the end result ‘should’ look like and to learn to just enjoy the making and creating.

What is process art?

  Art activities tend to be process oriented  rather than product oriented like crafts.  It engages feelings and imaginations and uses basic supplies and often open ended instructions. It is  all about the  journey, not the destination.  The end product is not the principal focus of the activity. There really is not right or wrong way to produce the artwork.  Perfect for children of all ages.

Why process art is important

  Children learn through play and open-ended activities. It allows them the chance to explore the world around them, ask questions, and see how things work. Process art fits in with how children learn because it allows them room to be themselves, make their own decisions engage their imagination and feelings and just create! Children enjoy both the product and the process of art, but process allows children to experience the joy of creativity without the focus on the end product. Children who experience process art are engaging in a learning process and it encourages the following skills:
  1. Thinking skills (cognitive behaviours)
  2. Cause and effect
  3. Observation skills
  4. Self expression
  5. Coordination
  6. Spatial thinking
  7. Expressing feelings
  8. Social interaction in a noncompetitive environment
  9. Decision making
  10. Problem solving
  11. The ability to experiment
  12. Communication
Why process art is important for kids collage I have lots of posts about process art and simple arts and crafts for families on this pinterest board including this fab post on the benefits of arts and crafts for kids, this post from Twodaloo on process art in early childhood  and fun a day's post on process art. Follow Jen Walshaw's board Simple drawing and art for Families and Kids on Pinterest. bostic
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Fathers Day Ideas

Before I was a mother I never understood the meaning of mother's day, well that isnt quite true it was before my boys started making me things.  Yes Mothers Day and Fathers Day might be cheesy, but it is wonderful too.  The joy of getting something homemade from your children is irreplaceable oh and the lie in is brilliant too. homemade Dad Mug perfect for fathers day A Personlised Mug MadDad works in and out of an office and we decided to make him a mug this year.  I love making things with the boys that mean something to him and also that the boys can remember making in the years to come. to read the full how to then click here. kid made fathers day bookmarks recycling art Book Marks These book marks are made from using children's artwork.  They are simple to make and are a great way of recycling the ever present supply of children's artwork.  You can use either a laminator or even contact paper if you do not have a laminator. kid made fathers day cards Cards Kid made cards really send my heart a flutter and these were made back in 2010 and I still love them.  Want to make them with your kids, then check out how my kid made Father's Day card post. Men can be difficult to make and buy for, but I know that MadDad will love the following items. Aluminum Print great gifts for fathers day This photo of all of us that Mini picked was taken on our trip to Florida last year and although I wanted one with just the boys in Mini insisted that I was in the picture too.  Quite right.  This is an aluminium print from Albelli and it has has a smooth, matte finish that does not reflect light, so when you look at your print you see your photo and not your reflection.  The profile is also much smaller so they hang closer to the wall.  Even better you can hang them outdoors too.  How cool is that!
  • UV and weather resistant, suitable for indoor and outdoor
  • Invisible suspension
  • Matte finish, so no mirroring
  • Contemporary, industrial look
  • Your photo extends to the edges
We were massively impressed with the finish and quality of the Aluminium print and certainly will look in to getting one again. You still have time to get one of these in time for Father's Day if you order before 5th June. A Hamper For really difficult to buy men then a Hamper is a great solution.  Hampergifts have a fab selection with something for everyone from a continental bear hamper to a flapjack one. In fact when MadDad and I were looking through the selection and came across the Glenlivet 12 yr & Cuban Cigars hamper we looked at each other and said together that my Dad would have loved that hamper.  My dad was a real lover of both Whiskey and Cigars.  He used to really cherish the best things in his life.  He would rather go without the mediocre to have the quality things less often. When Maxi was born I bought MadDad a cuban cigar and he smoked it in memory of my Dad.  He pasted his love of good whiskey to me and my brother and his love of a good cigar on to my husband. Looking for more ideas then take a look ay my Father's Day Pinterest board Follow Jen Walshaw's board Fathers Day on Pinterest.
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The Small Stuff – May

May has been a long month, or so it seems to me. It has been filled with two Bank Holidays the first which was full of sunshine, gardening and laughter, the other rain, but also so much joy and laughter too.  It has also been a month filled with #SmallStuff

This month we took the puppy on holiday to Sand le Mere with us.  It is wonderful to be able to take your dog on a holiday as we found out.  it makes for lots of family walks and talks along the way.  It means that you look out for family and gof friendly places and trust me there are out there.

We have had lots of board games and book reading.  I started and finished a couple of books including The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, which I loved, The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly, Oh Charlie Parker how I have missed you and also Eleanor & Park.  There is something about YA Fiction that I love.  The boys have been engrossed in Stew, a magazine for curious kids and it even got Maxi reading, which is a great thing (review and competition to win a subscription to come). May small stuff We have also had a lot of movie nights over the holiday as the caravan had a DVD player and have watched The Hunger Games part one and two, Frankenstein and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Maxi loved the Hunger Games and really got the story and we all loved The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. May has also brought a wonderful family christening, a celebration of family in all its imperfect glory. Colour throughout may has been from a loom band obsession (the boys not me), a new rug to review, some fab tea towels from a blogging buddy, diy letter bands in gold and craft projects on the Cricut Explore including a spring themed party and Father's Day Mugs. Mini got his first serious haircut that MadDad didn't approve of (it was always going to happen at some point) and the two tramlines did it! There were tears from me due to a wonderful handmade shawl from a dear friend to wear when going for my infusions at the hospital. and even better I get to come home to great quality tea. Maxi was allowed to use the BIG camera and documented a weekend in the garden. Oh and to top off a fantastic month I took a step in to the unknown and got in front of the camera rather than behind it, more on this to follow.
The Mad House
  So now it is your turn.  Come and share with me your small stuff.  The little things that make a big difference.
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Mini’s favorite way to spend a sunny day outside is …….

We have been talking a lot this week about our favorite way to spend the day together as a family.  This is Mini's (aged 7) and is also an entry  to the MAD Blog Awards Kid Blog of the Year, in collaboration with Vita Coco Kids naturally fruit-flavoured coconut water.
My favorite way to spend a sunny day outside is with my friends.  I am lucky to be best friends with three brothers who live on the same road as us and we play together a lot. We all like to go to Theme Park's together.  They are much more fun of you have a group of friends with you to laugh and stop you being scared.   We all went to FlamingoLand at Easter and it was lots of fun.  It is a theme park and a zoo and has the world's steepest roller coaster made from steel in a zoo there called the Mumbo Jumbo and I went on it (the zoo bit is very important apparently)! I like that there are lots of animals too, including my favorite animals Tigers. In March three Sumatran tiger babies (called cubs) were born and they will be soon allowed in to the main enclosure. I want to go back and see them. I hope I can adopt one and give it a name too. I put together this comic on Mummy's Ipad to show you how much fun we had. I also like playing football, cricket and walking the day too. I like to do things I haven't done before like archery.  We are going to see the T20 cricket tomorrow and I am excited.  I wish my friends could come too, but they are on holiday in Malta where it is always sunny, but they don't grow coconut's there.  I also like having ice cream on a sunny day, my favorite flavour is mint choc chip.
My FAVOURITE way to spend a sunny day outside is My FAVOURITE way to spend a sunny day outside is 2 All of this is Mini's own work (I just changed any spelling mistakes).  If you fancy making the comic's I have a blog post about using them as a way to encourage boys to write.  We use the POW Comic Strip App, which both of the boys have used at school and is £1.99 to download.  
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Let’s talk tea

I am a simple soul I think.  I do not crave expensive diamonds or flash cars.  Instead I have things in my life that make me happy there and then.  I have learned over the years that the small stuff is what keeps me ticking over. I was recently invited to Twinings and this really made my heart sing.  Anyone who knows me will understand why.  I love tea.  I am a tea monster, but I am something of an old fashioned tea drinker as I still use loose leaf tea (my granddad did and so did my parents). Then something rather serendipitous happened and Sage asked to review their Tea Maker by Heston. Oh be still my beating heart, great quality loose leaf tea from twinings and The Sage Tea Maker.

So let's talk tea................

Tea There is something about a pot of tea which cries out to be a social event.  A pot means drinks all round and my boys love tea too.   Tea is my go to drink.  I am quite happy to take it white, black, with lemon, but no sugar for me please.  I have even been converted to green tea and love the new Twinings new Green Tea with Salted Caramel Apple.  I love iced tea in the summer and green tea makes fab ice tea, especially served with mint. I start my day with a cup of English breakfast tea in a thermos mug, which MadDad brings to me in bed as he leaves for work at 6.30am and I end my day with a cup of calamine tea before bed.  My whole day can be timed by which type of tea I am drinking.  If I am feeling in need of a hug in a mug then a homemade chai latte is my drink of choice. Tea for me is an affordable luxury and I like to buy the best I can afford.  I have also put the tea tasters subscription on my wish list for my birthday later in the year.

The Tea Maker

Sage tea maker review I am in love with my Tea Maker for someone who likes tea it is a must.  It takes all the guess work out of making sure the water is the right temperature for the specific blend of tea and also makes sure that you do not over brew your tea. Even better you can set a time for it to come on and it keeps your brew warm for up to an hour after you make it. Don't want to make loose leaf tea in it, don't worry you can use it as a kettle and specify the temperature of the water or even add a tea bag into the strainer.  No more bitter green tea for me! It is really hard to put in to words just how much I love my tea maker.  It makes good tea great and everyone who sees it wow's over it.  I have to admit that I am something of a tea nerd or would that be geek and used to use a removable strainer and timer when making tea previous to receiving the tea maker.  I hated returning to a teapot to find the tea all strewed and bitter. Taking tea is a family experience for us and even though I adore my tea maker I have been decanting the tea in to teapot to take to the table, but I know that we will drink a whole teapot full in one setting.  During the day when I am making tea for me I make enough for two mugfulls and it is a joy to return for my second cup and to find it as good as the first. What to know more about making the perfect cup of tea, then take a look at Heston's video below and #TalkTeawithHeston.  You can also find out more about Sage on their facebook page and chat to them about all things tea on twitter. #TalkTeaWithHeston
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Our Perfect Family Day Out

This week is half term in the UK and typically this has meant rain, rain and more rain.  Which to start with wasn't too bad.  We have been spending our week at Sand Le Mere Holiday Village, but eventually even the rain got to us, well more specifically me and Mini and I developed a chest infection and Mini tonsillitis.  You could tell that Mini wasnt well as he didnt even want to go swimming in the fantastic swimming pool. The mads meet woody and jessie In addition to being half term, it is also National Family Week this week.  In celebration of this Kidsunlimited asked me to tell you about our perfect family day out. As we have had some great days out recently I thought that this would be fun to do.
Our Perfect Family Day Out
5
 
Ingredients
  • Good weather
  • Alvin the dog
  • Exercise
  • A delicious picnic lunch
  • Fun
  • Adventure
  • Excitement
  • The great outdoors
  • Water
  • A super dinner
Instructions
  1. To make the Mad House perfect Family Day out take our fun loving family of five, including Alvin the dog.
  2. Mix in some good weather, great food and adventure and stir.
  3. Add in some excitement, learning and fun.
  4. Place into a family car and drive for no more than 50 miles
  5. Stopping somewhere picturesque along the way for a delicious picnic and for the children and dog to let off some steam
  6. Then drive to destination and continue the fun!
As a family we love adventure and excitement, but also love doing things together as a family.  We understand that experiences bring more enjoyment that things and we want to make the most of our time together as a family. It has been really difficult to put together a perfect family day out that suits us all and over the weekend you will find out what the boys would choose. For me it would involve dropping off Alvin at the groomers so he could be pampered whilst we were out. Someone preparing a luxury picnic for us to take out with us (I think that even Mum's deserve a rest), a day out visiting Leeds or York (both are doable for us on a day trip) with a fab family meal in a restaurant on our return. What would be your perfect family day out? 3.  
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Father Day Mugs

homemade Dad Mug perfect for fathers day We love giving homemade personalised gifts here in The Mad House and we have been busy pinning personalised and monogrammed mugs for ages.  Mini decided that these would make a great Fathers Day mug for MadDad (don't panic Father's day isn't till the 15th June this year).  These are so simple to make and if you do not have a Cricut Explore then do not despair as you could either use letter stickers or even print some out on your printer and cut them out. Materials:
Top tip - Do not use sharpies.  I know there are a lot of pins on pinterest using sharpies, but I tried it and they do come off in the dishwasher.  Using porcelain paint pens makes all the difference as we are still using and dishwashing things that we used these pens on three years later.
How to make vinyl template using the Cricut Explore   how to personalised mug with cricut explore

How to make Dad mugs

 
  1. As I said above, do not worry if you do not have one of these fab cutting machines, you can use paper or scrapbooking stickers.
  2. Position them on to the mugs.
  3. As this was something the boys were doing we kept things really simple and use gold dots to create the negative space for the letters and then they coloured in the stencil one with silver porcelain pen.
  4. I think that monograms would look fab with black chevrons or stripes and we are planning those for teacher gifts.
  5. Once the paint has dried then carefully peel away the stencils and fix the mugs in a non preheated oven as per instructions, this will make them dishwasher safe.
  6. Dont forget to get your child to pop their name and the date on the underside of the mug.
Dad mug collage 3.
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