November 2012 | Mum In The Madhouse

November 2012

Amateur astronomy from your loft

You are one of 7 billion humans on earth – the densest planet in a 4.6 billion year old solar system. You are in a galaxy spanning around 110,000 light years, in a universe containing an estimated 9 sextillion stars. With the right technology you could see over 142,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometres into space. Humans have been practicing forms of astronomy for centuries, but the developments we have made from the 19th Century onwards have been particularly illuminating, and we now know more than ever before about the universe.

It’s no wonder that people are so fascinated with what lies beyond our humble planet. The most exciting part is that star gazing is now a pastime that is available to everybody with a desire to learn more about our solar system.

Not only is amateur astronomy a fascinating hobby, it’s also a great way to spend time with your kids and bring what they learn in school to life. To make stargazing a truly rewarding experience, you’ll need a telescope and a good place to spot the stars. While there are plenty of stargazing spots in the great outdoors, having your very own indoor observatory is even more convenient.

If you have a loft , this can be the perfect place to set up. Not only is it convenient to star gaze in the comfort of your own home, but it is also a good way to make the most of your loft and save it from becoming a dumping ground and a wasted space. It’s common for lofts to go unused, and this is one way to ensure you’re getting value out of every room in your house.

However, you might need to do some renovating to ensure it’s the perfect stargazing space you’re after. If you have a sky light, or are thinking about adding one for star gazing, it may help you to get more use out of your loft as an additional room during the day too. You might want to consider making it a bit more comfortable with some seats, a carpet and maybe even a lick of paint.

Budgeting for this project may take a bit of planning. Whether you save up to pay for your loft-turned-observatory, or look into whether a loan may help you cover the costs, it’s best to sort out the budget ahead of time.

In addition to stargazing among the comforts of your own home, you’ll probably have an Internet connection handy and can easily find out what you’re looking at. This will also allow you to check if there is anything particular to look out for that night. Sites like are great for finding out what’s happening each night in theUK, and you get the satisfaction of understanding what you’re looking at and learning how to find different planets, stars and other phenomenon.

Some exciting sights to see from your loft over the rest of 2012 include a lunar eclipse in late November, Jupiter reaching its closest point to the Earth in early December and the Geminids Meteor Shower in mid-December. So, get your telescope at the ready and head up to the loft for some magical views of the night sky.

Amateur astronomy from your loft Read More »

Top toys for 6 and 7 year old boys

Maxi and Mini have both loved this play set and we have had hours of fun challenging each other with our own cup competitions. It is great as it packs up relatively small and is easy to play. Mini has had hours of fun just role playing with the characters and I have proven that I can beat both the boys at football! This is a great gift for any football made boy or girl and a really great value gift.

Wappy Dog (£25)

Wappy Dog is a game for the Nintendo DS and it has been a huge hit with Mini. Our Wappy Dog is called Ninja, which is a much better name, as I keep calling it yappy dog! So what is it. Well it is an interactive game with its own character dog. You feed it, pet, it, look after it, but you also play games with it. For a family without a dog it is great as it doesn’t cost anything once bought and it doesn’t need feeding with real food or taking for walks in the dark weather! Mini specifically loves playing rock, paper, scissors and fruit catch with his Wappy Dog.

Angry Birds Trilogy for Nintendo DS (£37)

Angry birds are taking over the world or so it seems. This is the perfect game for maxi, who has loved it. It is such a simple concept but captures his imagination and he just loves it as will many children of his age. Oh and Maddad has been know to play on it when he is in bed! It has Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio, it didn’t take long for Maxi and MadDad to be hooked on the straightforward yet satisfying game lay that defines Angry Birds. There are 19 episodes, each with an exclusive new level that will keep you interested and ready for more.

LEGO Darth Vader and Storm Trouper Torches (£15 each)

What is it about boys and torches? These have been a MASSIVE hit in The Mad House. They are ingenious and for two Star Wars and LEGO mad boys these are great presents. They have been left on a lot and we are still on our original set of batteries after 4 weeks, but you do have to buy your own as they do not come with them. Darth Vader’s light saber is removable and also lights up perfect for role play with evil Jedi teddies!

On the Wish List

This year the boys have also asked for the following for Christmas:

Guinness book of Records 2013

Skylander Giants for Wii

New Bikes (20 inch as both of them has grown so much)

Jaffa Cakes – Mini!

Top toys for 6 and 7 year old boys Read More »

Free cash for doing what you would normally do online

I am all for passive income! So the thought of getting paid for doing what I do online anyway was a no brainer for me. So when the Tots100 were looking for people to take part in their Christmas Swagbucks challenge I jumped at the chance to be part of it.

What is Swagbucks?
Swagbucks is a site that basically rewards users for spending time online. With this site you accrue a virtual currency for doing the things that you might normally do online – using search, watching videos, chatting, playing games, doing polls and surveys etc etc – and you earn from doing it.

Swagbucks has been running in the US since 2007 and is one of the country’s top 100 trafficked websites. Since 2007, the company has paid out more than $26m in rewards to its members – and now Swagbucks is available in the UK!

What is the challenge?
The competition is simple, whichever blogger earns the most Swagbucks by 5pm on December 14, 2012 will win a fabulous £250 gift card.
So I can earn these virtual pennies in a couple of ways, by searching the internet, spending time online, doing little quizzes and playing games and I can appeal to my friends, family, loved ones, blog readers etc to sign up and have a go themselves.

getbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)

All you need to do is click this code: and follow the easy instructions – Please

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Perfect Christmas Gifts for people who have it all!

We are a pretty small family and do not but a lot of presents, but sometimes it can be really hard to know what to by for people. So I thought I would let you know some of my ideas of things for people that are really hard to buy for. Some of these things I have been asked to review, others I have purchased myself and really loved.

UGG Slippers

Yes these are expensive at £100, but……. they are perfect for the woman who has everything and would love to have warm toasty feet. My MIL would love these, but I am not for giving up the pair I got for review and I am not a slipper person. These are the most substantial slippers I have ever tried and are very warm and cosy. I am all about value and would hope that the cost per wear on these slippers was similar to others on the market nad that I would get years worth of wear from them.

Personalised Heart Bracelet

Personalised jewelry is a great gift for a woman, especially when it is as stylish and easy to wear as this personalised heart bracelet from Treat Her. It is £89.99 and will fit any size of wrist as it is elasticated and made of silver. You can have both sides of the heart personalised, so makes a great present for any mum or grandparent, without being twee.

Handcrafted Christmas Stocking

I am a big advocate of hand crafted British made products and when Kelly decided to open Petit Fromage, I knew her products would be exceptional. She is currently producing the most wonderful handmade Christmas products including bunting, table runners and the most beautiful, stylish and unique Christmas Stockings from £20.00

The Tweetie Tag Necklace

Oh how I adore this unique and made to order necklace from Victoria Wallop, which you can buy though We Shop. Victoria’s jewelry is handcrafted and totally unique to you. It can be customised to include a hashtag and perfect for any social media addicts. A must have #justsaying

Interflora Hamper

Often when you buy a hamper you are left in June with some part of it that just isnt what you want to eat. Well this isn’t the case with the Silent Night Hamper from Interflora which is £80. How do I know, well we were sent it to review and were going to pass it on to our inlaws, but the boys found it first and have already started to make their way though the treats. I love the fact that it comes in a traditional wicker basket that I can recycle. The perfect pre Christmas gift.

Bunny and Toad Stool Night Light

I love a bit of kitsch and I adore Dotcomgiftshop and when I saw the Toad Stool nightlight (£3.95) and Bunny Nightlight (£4.95) then I just had to have them. So I treated myself to them to brighten up my desk and they really do. Both the boys love them and now want there own!

Orla Keirly Bag from Zalando

I am a big OK fan and was asked to try Zalando and what can I say apart from they are the perfect match. The bag is divine and the service from Zalando is second to none. Not only do they have free delivery, they also have free returns too, which I tried out. Their customer service team were helpful, courteous and timely, which is what you need when you are buying online. I love the amount of choice that you have with Zalando and I even purchased my fab yellow converse from them.

Yankee Candles

Oh what can I say about Yankee Candles. They smell divine, last for hours and are just wonderful. I have been delighted with the ones that I was sent and have purchased them in the past as gifts. You really can not go wrong with a Yankee Candle as there is a scent for everyone.

Neals Yard

I am really funny about what I put on my skin and when my good friend Louise from Panacea Health and Beauty suggested I give Neals Yard a try, I know that she would know what she is talking about and I have been loving this brand ever since. So what can I say other than I am a convert to Neals Yard.

Perfect Christmas Gifts for people who have it all! Read More »

#savvyspender Twitter Party 28 November 7.30pm to 8.30pm

I would like to invite you to a great Twitter Party being hosted by me and the amazing Penny Golightly, on 28th November between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, all about shopping habits and family treats.

We would love to hear about how you stick to a budget, choose appropriate family rewards, spend your money wisely and if your shopping habits have changed recently compared to previous years.

I know how hard it can be to budget well in the current financial climate and talk a lot about saving money on my other blog A Thrifty Mum. But we really want to hear from you and I hope that together we can share some brilliant top tips that will help us all. Even though I often write about family money saving I still have a lot to learn and I love getting new tips and ideas.

And as if sharing your knowledge and learning new ways of saving money wasn’t enough to tempt you to join in, there’s even going to be prizes!

The party’s being sponsored by Barclaycard and their Freedom Rewards credit card. This new reward card is potentially very useful for organised spenders who pay their balance off every month, as you earn points on everything you spend, that you can then redeem in a range of high street stores (check out!

I’d love you to spread the word for us a little – more people joining in with #savvyspender means more money saving tips for us all.

See you there

#savvyspender Twitter Party 28 November 7.30pm to 8.30pm Read More »