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Sunday, 29 June 2014



x Jo x

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Picnic In A Poppy Field....

We were lucky enough that a friend found this beautiful poppy field on her way to work. Its been created to commemorate the first world war. As soon as I saw her photos on Facebook, I just knew that I had to take the boys.

So last weekend we packed a picnic, picked Daddy up from work and made our way there. Its right by the road and when you get close you can see it in the distance a magnificent sea of red. And its just as breathtaking up close.

We ate our picnic lunch at the side of the field while enjoying the sight if the flowers bobbing their heads in the wind. After lunch the boys enjoyed listening to Daddy read a story, Penguin by Polly Dunbar, a current favourite.

We talked about how they grow and make seeds. We even picked a few seed heads to dry out. So we can grow them in our garden next year as a memory.

x Jo x

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

What have we been up to.....

Firstly I'm so sorry for the un-announced blog break. I'm not sure what happened really just insanely busy with real life LOL! One of the main things taking up my time was Joseph's (5 1/2) School carnival float. A fellow mum & I spent many hours making the giant orange rocket for our Wallace & Gromit float. Most of our time was spent making the frame from cardboard & corrugated plastic. I then sewed the 'tent' at home, which was hard going due to the size & weight of the fabric! It took me nearly an hour just to iron the thing! The Gromit was made by a very clever couple in their garage, its great to have our own school Gromit.

I also had our costumes to source & make. Joseph was dressed a Wallace (painting the rocket), Daniel (4) was Shaun The Sheep & I was Paella the Bake-O-Lite lady. We had lots of fun on carnival day & were blessed with good weather, we are looking forward to doing it all over again next year!

At half term we had a lovely weekend away at Butlins. I think the boys enjoyed getting to see the Skyline Gang again most of all & also having a go on their new helter-skelter. Why not take a look our post form our holiday at Butlins last year.

The boys did brave the then freezing outside paddling pool, I expect it has been lovely this week though!

We've also had the go ahead on our loft conversion from the planning people so the last week, has seen our back garden & much of the house taken over by builders! Goodness knows how many cups of tea I have made, that is until they all switched to squash as it was just too hot working upon our roof all day!

I will write more posts on the loft conversion as it progresses & as we get to decorate it as our bedroom. Once its all done our old bedroom will be coming the family room, somewhere for all the toys & a sofa bed for when Nanny stays. For more instant updates follow me on Instagram...

x Jo x

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Friday, 9 May 2014

Melt In The Middle Meatballs & Our Bank Holiday Weekend - #MorrisonsMum

Armed with my Bank Holiday Slimming World Menu Plan, I headed off to the big Morrisons at Cribs Causeway. I could have gone to my more local one but as its a little on the small side I decided to treat myself & go a bit further so I could take a look at their home range etc.. That ended up backfiring on me, as I was so busy choosing what food to buy I ran out of time to have a good look at the extras!

On arriving at the store The first thing I noticed was lots of 'I'm Cheaper' banners & signs letting me know how much they had reduced over 1000, products by. Many of these are products that i would buy on a weekly basis & it brings Morrisons pricing more in-line with the budget supermarkets, whilst still offering the wide range & great service. I was impressed with their 3 for £1.50 veg & 3 for £10 meat deals. I did however find a couple of products I didn't buy as I know I can get them cheaper elsewhere; these were Pepsi Max & own brand fruit & fibre.

This was after I'd put away the chilled & frozen bits!

I bought lots of superfree foods to see me through the weeked & found some great new Highlights flavours! I also managed to buy everything I needed for my menu plan, except Warburtons Squarish Wraps, which I substituted for Warburtons Pitta Halves (only 75p).

On Saturday he boys had great fun decorating their own mini pizzas (50p each), they used veg & ham to make a face, adding some extra cheese on top. I made one for Daddy (smart price cheese & tom £1), and my own using a Warburtons Pitta (8 syns for both halfs + HEA of cheese on top). They were delicious!

On Sunday I made:

Melt In The Middle Meatballs - Slimming World Friendly


400g Extra Lean Minced Beef (3 for £10)
1 Medium Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1 tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
1 Large Egg White
65g Of Reduced Fat Mozzarella (1/2 a ball)  cut in to cubes
200ml Passata
400g Chopped Tomatoes
3 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 tbsp Sweetener (Granulated)
1 Pepper
100g Mushrooms
2 Beef OXO cubes
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


Blend or finely chop 1/2 of onion & 1 garlic clove. Add to a bowl with mince, 1 tsp herbs, & beaten egg white. Mix well, I find using my fingers works best & often use latex gloves when doing so. Form in to approximately 12-14 balls each one around a piece of mozzarella. They can be chilled at this stage if you would like to finish cooking them later. Spray a frying pan with frylight & seal 5-6 meatballs at a time on all sides.

For the sauce, chop the onion & garlic. Fry in a pan using frylight, once softened add, sliced mushrooms & pepper for another 2-3 mins. Add remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, & turn down to medium putting the meatballs on top of the sauce. Cook for around 10 minutes, then turn over & cook for a further 10 mins.

Serve with spaghetti or pasta.

This made enough for all 4 of us and cost £7.02p for the meal which works out at £1.75 each, bargain!Its great to prove that eating healthy/dieting doesn't have to cost the earth.

This went down well with everyone after we'd spent the afternoon at Ashton Court Miniature Railway, having lots of fun & fresh air!

On Monday we had a roast chicken (3 for £10), with lots of veg, including roast parsnips (daddy's favourites). All cooked using fry light so my only syns were for gravy & a Yorkshire pudding (Morrisons MSavers 2syns each).

 I also decided to treat myself & make a slimming world cheese cake for dessert, Its the first time I've tried a low syn option  (5.5 syns a slice) it was nice however I want 100% happy with the base so I will tweak it & try it again. Once happy I will share the recipe!

I've loved being a #MorrisonsMum & will be doing my shopping there more often. We had a lovely bank holiday weekend, with thanks to Brit Mums & Morrisons. I was given £80 of shopping vouchers so I could write this post however all opinions are my own.

x Jo x

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Bank Holiday Slimming World Menu Plan - #MorrisonsMum

Even though I'm at target with Slimming World I'm currently trying to loose the 6lb I put on over Easter! I find sticking to plan harder at the weekends, when everyone is home, so a Bank Holiday weekend is even worse.
I'm so excited to be chosen as a #MorrisonsMum this weekend. So while planning what I would buy, it occurred to me that the best way to stay on plan would be to make a full meal plan. I've planned dinners before (not as often as I should) but not every meal. So here is what I have come up with for the weekend, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 3 days on Slimming Worlds extra easy plan.


B: Cooked breakfast, bacon (fat removed), WW sausages,  mushrooms, tomatoes, egg, beans, 1 piece toast (1 syn & 1/2 HEB)
L: Chicken Salad
D: Pizza- squarish wrap pizza for me, cheese & tomato for the boys & Daddy. Add extra toppings. (8 syns & HEA)
S: Alpen Light Bar (1/2 HEB) High Lights Hot Chocolate (2 syns) Muller Light & fruit.


B: Wholemeal toast with Marmite (HEB & 2 syns)
L: Bachelors pasta & sauce with extra veg.
D: Melt in the middle meatballs & spaghetti (HEA)
S: 10 x Malteasers (5 syns) Alpen Light Bar (3 syns) Muller Light & fruit.


B: Omlette - Pepper, tomato, onion & cheese (HEA)
L: Ham salad sandwich, with ex-light mayo (HEB & 1/2 syn)
D: Roast - Potatos, veg, 1 x yorkshire (frozen) & gravy. (2 syns)
P: Slimming World friendly cheesecake (4 syns at a guess)
S: High Lights Hot Chocolate (2 syns) & fruit.

That should leave me with a few extra syns if I need them! I will of course be buying some extras for the boys and Daddy. Check back after the weekend to find out how I got on as a #MorrisonsMum, and whether I stuck to plan....

x Jo x

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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fossil Hunting On The Jurassic Coast

When I was younger, I had several camping holidays/weekends away with my mum down on the Jurassic coast in Dorset. We spent most days on the beach searching for fossils & I have so many happy memories. So mum & I wanted to take the boys, now they are a little bit older, and can walk a bit further on their own. I cant believe Daniel is almost 4, where has that time gone??

I'm not brave enough to camp with the boys yet, maybe for a night when daddy is with us... So we opted to stay in a static caravan, with all the things we would need to make things easier. There are several holiday parks in the area, but we decided to opt for West Bay. As a child we stayed in either the Lyme or Charmouth areas, but decided on West Bay after seeing it on the popular Broadchurch drama.

The holiday park there is run by Parkdean, however we booked ours through West Bay Caravan Hire who hire out several privately owned caravans. Booking through them worked out cheaper & even more so as we didn't have to purchase entertainment passes. They offered a great service answering my questions very promptly, & our deposit was returned within the week. Its great to know exactly which caravan you are booking & see pictures of that exact van, we could also enter form 2pm which is earlier than any other holiday I've been on.
The famous east cliff at West Bay in the background

In the end we didn't end up spending that much time in West Bay! We went exploring on the first day and the working harbour is picture perfect. To the west there are a couple of pebbly coves however we couldn't walk along any further presumably due to cliff falls. The beach to the east has lots of fine shingle with sand at the waters edge.

We spent our 1st full day at Charmouth, we headed down the east beach (stonebarrow) as this was always the beast for finding fossils in the past. Go on a falling tide as that way you are among the first to see what fossils have uncovered. It is also important to know the tides as the beach is often cut off at high tide. Neither mum or I ever had any success splitting rocks with a hammer & chisel, as even when we found fossils they would be broken or the flattened variety's. Its worth noting that hammering at the cliffs is not permitted & is also dangerous. The best fossils are found lying on the beach.
The view to the east at Charmouth

Along this beach amongst the sand (the black sand is a good place to look) shiny fools gold (pyrite) ammonites can be found. Trace ammonites can also be spotted on the pebbles. We were lucky enough to find one near perfect ammonite & one tiny one that was a little squashed. We also found several belemnite fragments. Other fossils can be found on this beach but these two are the most popular. When I was a child I was lucky enough to find a fossil sharks tooth & my mum found an Ichthyosaur vertebrae. Like these I often find the best fossils are the ones you find when your not really looking!
Pyrite Ammonites

After our day on the beach, we took time to visit the Charmouth Heritage Centre. Its a fantastic free visitor centre with lots of fossils & information. The boys really enjoyed brushing sand away to find fossils & the 2 fish tanks set up to show the sea life found in the rock pools. If you haven't been fossil hunting before take a visit first so you know what to look for, they also offer guided walks (for a fee).

On the second day we enjoyed the playground on the holiday park & then had an early lunch in the caravan. In the afternoon we decided to visit Seatown, just to the east of Charmouth. Its down a small country lane & has a car park (£2 a day) & a popular pub The Anchor. When we visited they were in the process of renovating the pub, but we were still able to enjoy a lovely ice cream as they are still running a small kiosk.

We headed to the west beach & were lucky straight away finding a rock with traces of ammonites in it. We found several others as we walked further up the beach, we also found several belamite fragments when looking through the shingle. We had a lovely afternoon and found the small pebbles easy to walk on and so much cleaner than sand. Please tell me I'm not the only one who's not keen on sand?? At low tide there are some areas of fine shingle & sand.

In fact we enjoyed our afternoon on Seatown beach so much we went again the next day! Again on the west beach we walked further up the beach,carrying Daniel some of the way, before we made 'camp'. One of the things the boys love to do is make a marker so they can tell how much the tide has changed. We used a big stick & held it upright with a few stones. It's a great way of showing the boys how much the sea moves when the tide goes out. We found lots more fossils that day, Trace ammonites, ammonite fragments, belemnite fragments, crinoid fragments & fossil shells

After a picnic lunch Joseph & I walked further up the beach to see what we could find at low tide. Even though we found lots of pyrite we were unlucky in finding a pyrite ammonite at Seatown. We did however find the belemnite bed which had been exposed. It was great to show Joseph how the sea washes the rock away & the belemnites end up on the beach. Its amazing how many there are in each rock.
Belemite bed at Seatown

On the last day of our holiday, after we had packed, we headed to Lyme-Regis. There are several museums to visit there, but as we only had a couple of hours we had a look in a few of the fossil shops. We enjoyed a local pasty for lunch sat on the sea front. We were talking about how unlikely it would be to find a fossil on that part of the beach with so many people there etc, and on our way back to the car park we found one on the last metre of the beach!

Ammonite fund at Lyme Regis

It was a great holiday, with some lovely new memories created for us all!

x Jo x

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Messy Play & Crafting

We have been having a great Easter holidays so far, its been so nice having the nice dry weather. We have held 2 group messy play sessions, been catching up with friends and attended a Gromit model making session. The boys had great fun learning to make a Gromit, with George from Ardman animations. I was hoping that Joseph (5) would be able to make his own but he did need lots of help, so I ended up making most of both!

On Monday we held an Easter themed group messy play session, where we made bunny grass cups, and Easter bonnets/hats. To make the hats cut a strip of card to fit your child's head then cut out and staple on some bunny ears on top.

I didn't get chance to share the Easter bonnets I made the boys last year, I was inspired to make Joseph's angry bird hat by this chick hat I found on pintrest.

Back to the messy play session.... We had an easter sensory box with rainbow rice in the base, & in the other box I used cooked seed pearl tapioca. I was hoping the tapioca would be like water beads but its more sticky, but still lots of fun.

In one of our pools we had cornflakes and fake flowers. In the other pool we had lots of pom poms and we painted and labeled egg boxes so the children could match the colours, they also had the option to use child's chopsticks for some fine motor practice.

We also had a table set out with Easter colouring sheets (lots on my easter pintrest board) and play dough and laminated play dough mats.The kids had lots of my funky crayon miss-shapes to colour with...

On the floor we had a large sheet of paper for painting, using brushes & stamps. We also used a potato masher as i'd seen on pinteset it maks a great egg shape! The other tip I found on pintrest is to use a sponge in the bowl it applies an even coat of paint to the stamp to make it easier to get a good print.

It was a very busy and fun session, so much so I didn't get chance to take many pictures!

If your looking for more Easter fun take a look at these posts from last year...

E is for Easter... Last years Easter round up!
Paper Plate Lamb/Sheep (pic is right at the bottom of the post)

The second messy play session we held was Lego Movie themed & I promise to share all the details soon. We are going away for the second week of the holidays, down in Dorset, fossil hunting. So I will apologise now if I go AWOL until after The Easter weekend & hope you all have a lovely Easter whatever your up to. 

x Jo x

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Easter Bunny Grass Cup

I'm busy getting ready for another couple of group messy play sessions I'm holding this Easter holidays. One of the crafts we will be making is these cute Bunny Cups that are great on their own but even better with grass hair!

Daniel (3.5) helped me make this test/example bunny, if you'd like to make one too here are the instructions.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Beach Fun, Driftwood & A Dinosaur Small World.

While Nanny was up staying with us we decided to check out another small local beach. I really love that on a small quite beach like this Joseph(5) and Daniel (3.5) are now old enough to explore a bit on their own.  We had lots of fun finding sea glass, interesting rocks and driftwood. There was still quite a bit of water draining off the land so there were a few streams under the rocks. Daniel found one that went between some larger rocks that he was using to sail some driftwood.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Lego Junior - Review

The boys were thrilled when they found out that they had been selected to be Lego Junior product testers. When I say the boys I mean all 3 of them... Joseph (5), Daniel (3.5), & Daddy! We were sent the Police Station set (10675) to test out. It has an age range of 4-7, which is a little lower than most standard Lego sets, as its been designed to be easier to build.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Shells - Rock Pool Small World

I decided to swap around our sensory box the week before half term, we decided that a beach theme would be good, but as I'd just cleaned I didn't want anything as messy as our last beach small world! So we got out all of our shells. Most of our shells we have collected during various beach trips. But I bought the big 2 at a car boot sale a few weeks back for 50p! Then we used a blue ice cream tub filled with some water to make a rock pool. We decided that our Playmobil people, that came with the swimming pool that Joseph got from Santa for Christmas, would be perfect as they have their costumes on ready for paddling!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Couple of weeks ago, before I was having to be 100% on plan with slimming world & possibly (at least part) of the reason I put 4lbs on, I decided it was about time I made the boys a pineapple upside down cake. I last baked this when we were at our old 1 bed house before the boys were born, at least 7 years ago. It an old recipe that I cooked in food technology class at school, so credit goes to my teacher (sorry I cant remember your name) & my mum for keeping the recipe.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Rice & Tubes - Adding another dimension to the sensory box

So when I saw an amazing sensory box from Frugal Fun For Boys on my Facebook feed I pinned it immediately. While I was pinning it the boys caught sight and wanted one of their own. A couple of hours later I decided to have a look around to see if we had enough bits to make a more basic quick DIY version.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Westward Ho! Storm Damage - Beach Exploring

We have just come back from a 1/2 term trip to visit my Mum in North Devon. We arrived on Sunday and it was such a lovely day we had a quick lunch & headed straight out for a walk on the beach. Westward Ho! was always our favourite beach when I was a child, I remember many happy days building sand castles, body boarding & rock pooling . Both my Dad & Gran worked on a holiday camp their as well. We last visited North Devon back in August when Mum & I took the boys rock pooling. I can't believe how much difference 6 months makes to a beach. I know we have had some of the worst storms in years but neither mum or I have ever seen Westward Ho! beach like this!