Friday, 23 June 2017

Day out at the Royal Three Counties


Thanks to the Royal Three Counties for the tickets.
I think it would be fair to call myself a country girl. Having grown up and living in Herefordshire for nearly all my life. So deep within my heart is a love for all things rural. When I've been away I have missed the smells and the sights of the lush green countryside. For most of my childhood there was one rural event that was clearly marked on my calendar as marking the beginning of summer and that was the Royal Three Counties show.
   
Both myself and my hubby loved visiting the show as children, seeing all the stands, tasting all the foods and meeting all the animals. So we could hardly deprive the kids of something we both had enjoyed so much.


A lot has changed since we visited the Royal Three Counties as children. The most significant being that it is now on a weekend rather than mid week. When I was at school, so many children attended the show that the school used to shut for the three days! You'd never have that happen now. There is also a lot more shopping stand than before. However the main attractions for us remain. Tractors, Food and animals!
It was a blazing hot show this year and we probably did a lot more sitting around than we have done before. But it gave us chance to picnic and enjoy some of the great spectacles in the main area.
The farm machinery was a hit with both the boys and we literally had to prise the youngest away from some of them. That night he said he wanted a tractor for Christmas 'not a toy, a real one with keys please'. I'm not sure Santa will be able to fit that in his sack.
 
Is it worth a visit?
I would recommend that you visit the Royal Three Counties at least once. It's a great opportunity for the kids to get up close to the rural farming community and there is definitely enough to keep you all occupied for the whole day. The only downside for us was that we were defeated by the heat and had to give in after four hours. Back to the car laden with fresh strawberries and cherries and lots of pictures of tractors.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Butoonies review

This is a review post for Craft Yourself Silly*

Are you in need of some ideas to keep the kids occupied though the summer holidays? My youngest who is four is still quite easily amused, give him the paddling pool and he'll stay in it all summer given the chance. My eldest who is eight is quite different and once the allotted half and hour of screen time is up, I can often hear his lament of boredom echoing around the house.




























So when we were asked to try out these new Buttoon-ies craft kits made by Craft Yourself Silly I thought they would be perfect for my eldest. He loves lego and small world imgenary play and these little characters would be perfect for that.

So we sat down together one afternoon, whilst the youngest was busy watering the garden. (Another one of his favourite summer activities). I must admit I'm glad I did sit with him and not just give him the packs as they are quite tricky to make, even for skilled lego building hands such as his.













If your child has had no experience threading before I would recommend that they have ago trying that skill first as they might find it very frustrating watching the thread bend away from the button hole as my eldest did.

He nearly gave up all together but with some help and a division of the jobs, he read the instructions, sorted the buttons into size order and directed me whilst I did the threading. We soon had our first little character created. Both kids love this little chap and he has since been involved in some great adventures.


















So what if he didn't make it all by himself, I much prefer something we can do together and his sense of achievement in the task was not diminished. He's looking forward to building some more with me soon. I just need to get some pot plants for the youngest to water!

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I was asked to review these Buttoon-ies in exchange for my honest opinion. You can find out more in my advertising and disclosure policy.

100 hashtags for creative bloggers

I've being hearing a lot recently on twitter about how engagement is really low on Instagram and lots of people are struggling to keep or gain new followers. At the moment I can't agree. I have been working really hard to grow my following and I think it's down to me upping my game with my hashtag use.





























I've been setting myself Instagram goals in my monthly stats roundups and this month I set myself the task of getting to 1000 followers. Not a big ask, some of you may think but until recently I had really struggled to gain any new followers.
Since I started noting my stats my followers have grown from
781 followers in March
803 followers in April
977 followers in May
and I've already smashed my target for June by hitting 1041 when I checked this morning. That's a gain of 260 new followers in three months.

You may not be all about the numbers game but for me, with wanting to make more income from my blogging you do have to try and increase your followers.

So that's when I started to focus on my hashtag use. I have three main areas that I cover on my blog and in my Instagram feed. Crafts, Lifestyle and Parenting. So I thought it would be helpful to break it down into three posts with a stronger focus on each of these three areas.

In my 100 hashtags for creative bloggers I have covered, general crafts, art and design, sewing, fabric design and paper crafts. These are my main interests in the creative world and should hopefully offer you some new hashtag choices. Obviously the more niche your creative pursuits are there will be a whole host of hashtags just for them but the general crafts ones should be helpful to all creative bloggers.



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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Pink Banana Smoothie recipe

Summer time is smoothie time for me and the kids. I am a smoothie fan all year round, but can find it hard to tempt the kids with any of the green smoothies I like for a boost in the colder months. However as soon as the abundance of summer fruit starts to arrive they love to start their day with one.




























Pink banana smoothie is currently one of our favourites. Creamy, beautifully pink so the youngest loves it and like a glass full of summer energy a great way to begin the day.

To make the Pink Banana Smoothie you will need:

Serves 2
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 8 Strawberries at room temperature for maximum flavour
  • 150ml chilled apple juice.


















  1. Wash and hull the strawberries.
  2. Add them to the smoothie maker jug.
  3. Peel and slice the bananas and add to the jug.
  4. Measure the apple juice and add.
  5. Blitz for a couple of minutes until thick, pink and creamy.
  6. Serve straight away.

For really hot days try using frozen strawberries to keep the smoothie really cold and add a tablespoon of maple syrup to increase the sweetness.
Or for an extra hearty smoothie, when you don't have time to sit down for breakfast. Add a handful of gluten free porridge oats for slow release energy throughout the morning.


















Have you got a good smoothie recipe? Please share them below.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Glamping essentials*

This post includes reviews and sponsored content*
For us this year the Summer holidays are all about the staycation. With little budget to spend on holidaying we are going to make the most of being at home and the surrounding countryside. But not going abroad for the holidays doesn't mean we have to miss out on having a luxurious time does it? 
If you have missed the glamping trend it is basically camping on an upgrade. Gone are the drab canvas frame tents and sleeping on a rubber roll out mat of my childhood and in are brightly coloured tents, luxury airbeds and gorgeous food and accessories. Find out what kind of camper you are in this great camping guide*

It was my birthday earlier this month and we decided to have a glamping weekend to celebrate. The weather has been glorious and that helps set the mood for this kind of event. Glamping can happen in your own back garden or if your hitting the festivals this year there is no need to slum it.
We put up tents and beach shelters and made them super comfy for relaxing with tasselled throws and handmade patchwork floor pillows. If you haven't already got yourself a tent then I would recommend you check out Halfords great range of tents. The tables were decorated with cut flowers from my garden in enamel jugs.
What is glamping without a fire? This Gardeco Swedish Torch is a great addition to the glamping essentials, we were sent one to review and both myself and hubby rated it for being, portable, convenient, instant and clean. There was no messing around digging a fire pit, looking for wood or dusty ashes filling the sky. It lit quickly with the aid of a pre inserted fire lighter and burned for a good three hours. Perfect for watching the sun go down and relaxing with a glass of wine. I'd love to take one of these for a beach party as I think a fire adds such great atmosphere.
As the sun finally set and the heat died down to embers I whipped out my final glamping essential. I hate having cold feet and after spending all day in flip flops my toes are the first to feel the chill on a summers night. I was so pleased I had been sent these Heat Holders. They kept my toes comfy and snug and meant I could enjoy the cool summer evening still cosy.

For more glamping inspiration check out my Pinterest board.


Have you got any great glamping ideas? Please share them in the comments as I'd love to do more over the summer.

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I was sent the Gardeco Swedish torch from the Chiminea shop and the Heat Holders in exchange for my honest review. You can find out more in my advertising and disclosure policy.  
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Summer style

Review for me and i

Summer seems to have finally arrived! So I have started to have a move around of my clothes. I don't have a lot of storage space so I tend to have a summer and a winter wardrobe. After packing up all my wooly jumpers and leggings, I got out my summer clothes. Sadly they are looking a bit tired and to be fair I don't have half as much clothes for the summer as I do in the winter. My look could definitely do with an update.


















So I was delighted when I was contacted my me and i and asked if I would do a review of not only something for me but something for my youngest as well! I jumped at the chance and quickly went to their website to look over my choices.










In the end I picked out the Circle dots perfect dress. Perhaps not in colours I would normally pick, it's a bright combo of pinks and orange, but I wanted something that screamed summer for me. Hopefully I will soon be sporting more of a tan too, which will compliment the colours.


















When it arrived I hung it on a hanger by my wardrobe and was concerned about it's shape, but once on I was delighted. It has a great combination of a loose top, which just seemed to skim over me and kept me feeling cool on a warm day. Then with the ruched side panels I could play around with the length and it had a great fit on my bum. Which quoting my husband is my best asset. Cool and fitted all in one. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this dress. It'll definitely be in my suitcase for the hols, but also for garden parties and nights out as it could be easily dressed up with killer heels and a jacket.

What about my youngest?
Not to be left out, I picked him out a really cute sharks t-shirt. I love how me and I kids clothes are on the whole pretty much unisex and the choice was great. The fun prints and bright colours meant I could have just about picked anything and it would have been fab for the summer. He loved the snorkling sharks and I loved the 95% cotton 5% elastane mix which meant it's cool and comfy for lond summer days.


















me and i.
me and i are Swedish designed clothes for babies, children and women. They use high quality soft materials and manufacture them responsibly in Portugal and Turkey. They create clothes with colour and playful designs.

Me - shoes next, watch Accurist, heart earrings accessorize
Youngest - jeans sainsburys, trainers clarks.

I was sent the dress and t-shirt from me and i in exchange for my honest review. You can read more in my advertising and disclosure policy.

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dylon Dye Pod review

Review for Dylon*

As a Textiles teacher I am familiar with dyeing stuff. Tie dye being one of the staple activities at Key Stage three. Ask me to describe the process to you and I will recall buckets of dye, stained hands, stained floors and work surfaces. Basically dye on everything you don't want to dye. I have never attempted to home dye anything in machine before as I was terrified that forevermore everything would come out of it a funny shade.



So when this new method of machine dyeing popped through my door the other week I was hopeful. The Dylon dye pod promised to machine dye safely, cleanly and leave no residue in my machine. Winner.




I am sure that everyone has a few off white towels in their house. You know the kind? Good quality cotton towels that are still in great condition but now look a little more grey than they should do. I thought these would be perfect for bringing some new dye love to.



The process of dyeing the towels was easy. You weigh the dry fabric, one dye pod should do 600g of fabric. My towels were slightly over. Then put the damp fabric in the machine drum along with the pod with all the wrappers removed. Pop it on a 40c cotton wash and watch the magic happen! Then you run another wash with the pod removed and detergent added. I assume this is to clean the machine and remove any excess dye.



















I was amazed by the colour when I pulled them from the machine.


Don't they look fab! I am really please with the results and my machine is clean too! I will definitely do this again with more towels. Who want's boring off white towels anyway. I also have my eye on the youngest vests which never seem to get back to white. Keep your eyes out for a very colourful family in the future!

I was sent this Dylon dye pod in exchange for my honest review. You can read more in my advertising and disclosure policy.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

I sea Bacon review

Review post for I Sea Bacon*

Bacon is probably one of the only things I miss about being a vegetarian. I haven't eaten meat for over thirty years but sometimes the smell of bacon makes my mouth water. Don't get me wrong I have no desire to start eating meat again, but sometimes I do want to eat something smoky, crunchy and a little bit salty.





























I was recently sent a pack of I Sea Bacon to review. I have already tried the I sea pasta and so was familiar with the concept. Basically it's seaweed, that you can eat as a vegetarian alternative to bacon. As a concept I wasn't convinced, I opened the packet and had a sniff. It smelt a lot more like seaweed than bacon.


















On the pack there were suggestions of how you could use it. Fry for crisp style 'bacon', rehydrate for use in salads or eat 'jerky' style. So I broke off a bit and chewed. It tasted like licking a rock in a tidal pool. As far from bacon as you could possibly get.


















Not to be put off I heated my pan with oil as I was hoping to have my 'bacon' snack for lunch while the kids were at school.
The trick to cooking it is to get the oil nice and hot and only cook briefly, once the leaves turn green take them out as they will burn quickly.


















Piled up on my plate it didn't look much different than when it had come out of the packet apart from the fact it was now green. But I couldn't believe the difference frying had made. It was now, smoky, crunchy and a little bit salty. It was almost like bacon! The change was miraculous. For bacon eaters I'm sure there would be no comparison, but for me it would be the perfect addition to a sandwich or topping a salad for a little 'bacon' hit.

I was sent a sample of I Sea Bacon to try in exchange for my honest review. You can read more in my advertising and disclosure policy.

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Five great herbs to grow at home

Do you love to use fresh herbs in your cooking, but find the price of them too expensive? Even if you only have a small windowsill or a few pots outside I have five great herbs that you should grow at home. My kids love gardening with me and even with their 'help' we have managed to successfully grow these five in our garden. Some are in pots and some in the ground but they would all survive in pots if needed. There is nothing better than fresh herbs to lift a dish, plus they are great for lots of other uses around the home.





























1. Mint.

Best kept in a pot as it is so easy to grow it will spread around your garden if you plant it out. I love mint so much we have two varieties, sweet mint and pepper mint outside my kitchen door. I love using mint in pea soup, mixed with cucumber and sparkling water for a summer cooler and chopped and sprinkled over strawberries.



















2. Bay.
So simple to grow. I had a bay tree at our old house and was sad to leave it. So before we moved I took green cuttings of it. Sniped off a couple of inches, removed some of the leaves, ducked them in rooting liquid and potted them up. We've been in out house for four years now and I have two splendid bay tree, which would have cost me a fortune if I'd bought them from the garden centre.
Bay is great fresh or dried for cooking. I also love using it in flower arrangements and when I make wreaths.



















3. Chives.

My children are not onion fans and often spend ages picking onion out of dishes I've cooked them even if I have chopped them really small. Yet, they love chives. I regularly find them chomping on them in the garden or smell their breath and know the chive patch has been attacked. They have a mild onion flavour and are great in cheese sandwiches and potato salad.




4. Oregano

This is probably my most frequently used herb, it reminds me of Greece and I use it so much in my cooking as I love Mediterranean food. Best to have it planted somewhere where it gets a lot of sun as this helps bring out the flavour more.



















5. Lavender
Not only is it lovely to look at with beautiful purple flowers, it smells amazing when brushing past it. Plant in near a path to get wafts of scent every time. I like to pick and dry it for lavender bags in the cupboards and drawers. I have also used it to make lavender sugar and shortbread.


Do you have any recommendations for other herbs I should try and grow?

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