Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sand Pit Fun with Wickey!


Children love to play with sand, especially my lot! All of them have adored playing in or with a sand pit at nursery, play groups and at home. Sand is great for sensory play (I'll have a post next week about that) and used with other things too, it can provide numerous activities that younger children (and older ones) will enjoy.

We have been testing out a really cool sand pit from Wickey. It retails at just £69.66 (reduced from £90.16) which is incredible value, in my opinion.

It is essentially a very strong sand box that has a substantial wooden cover; this cleverly flips out into a bench. The bench/cover is made out of chunky wooden boards which make it very sturdy. Quickly and easily, the 'Sand pit Flip' converts into a 'sit-in' style sand pit where the kids can build sandcastles, or bury their feet like my children do!  The Flip sand pit is made from "green KDI impregnated treated wood" so you do not need to treat the wood yourself.

Perfect for a picnic and for sand play.... Feel the sand between your toes as you sit and enjoy the views from the bench.

The cover keeps most of the rain out of the sand and stops leaves and bit & pieces from being blown into it by the wind. It opens and closes really easily so the kids can play whenever they want to.

The black sheet you can see underneath the sand pit is actually Safe Sand Foil before we fitted it properly. This is sold separately to the sand pit (£6.11 for this size) and keeps worms, roots and grass from getting into the sand.

The sand pit is gorgeous to look at too - it would make a wonderful play feature in any garden. The hinges are excellent quality and they make transforming the 'cover' into a bench a breeze.

These green corner protectors ensure that the children don't hurt themselves on the corners of the sand pit if they were to fall over. These are just £5.70 for 4 which is a bargain. They are easy to attach to the sand pit and double up as little feet for the benches.

The children absolutely love this sand pit - they've been playing in it every day since it arrive (well, when it wasn't raining anyway!) and they have enjoyed numerous activities including a lovely picnic whilst sat in the sand.

The girls love the feeling on sand on their feet and Baby Girl especially enjoys making prints and shapes in the sand using her hands.

This is an exceptional sand pit and I'd certainly recommend Wickey and their products to anyone is is looking to include outdoor toys or climbing apparatus in their garden.

I'll be back next week with some sand play ideas!

Beauty products of the month - Sheer Cover Studio™ Introductory Kit


I have discovered the perfect make up for me - for every day really, but absolutely ideal for a special wedding that is coming up in the near future.

Sheer Cover Studio's latest launch is a professional mineral make up range that leads the way in the mineral make up revolution  with it's superior Trueshade Technology®. 

Trueshade Technology® has been developed to automatically adjust to match every skin tone without the need for blending. It works with the skin to create the perfect colour match - its light-reflecting minerals contain special optical filters that pick up your true skin tone and reflect it to ensure a perfect colour.

Whats more, the exclusive soft-focus minerals 'float' on the skin and diffuse the light, deflecting it away from flaws and blurring out imperfections to create a smooth, luminous, airbrushed glow.

I have been trying out the Sheer Cover Studio™ Introductory Kit (£29.95) for around a month now, and each time I apply it, the results never fail to take my breath away. Not only does it make my skin look great, it also leaves a natural finish; so light, almost like you're not wearing make up at all. It's super gentle on my sensitive skin and I totally LOVE it!

What's in the kit?

The kit is available in 4 shades; light, medium, tan and dark. I have very fair skin so I chose the light option. As well as the most amazing products, the kit contains a step by step instruction booklet that will help you create a flawless complexion every time.

It contains:

Sheer Cover Studio™ Perfect Shade® Mineral Foundation which is AMAZING! It contains 100% natural light-reflecting minerals and soothing botanicals such as green tea, Bisabolol and Zinc for a more radiant, well-balanced complexion. It's completely natural-looking and provides all-over coverage. 

There's also a natural SPF in there, for the ultimate complexion protection - all without any added oils, perfumes, dyes or talc. It's Paraben-free, allergy and dermatologist tested so it's a great choice for those of us with sensitive skin.  This ultra-light make-up instantly hides any imperfections without 'caking' the skin - something I personally have never found in a foundation before.

You can also mix a little mineral foundation with your favourite moisturiser to create a tinted moisturiser that perfectly matches your skin tone.

 Sheer Cover Studio™ Conceal & Brighten Trio - an absolute must-have for every make up bag. It can be worn alone or under the Sheer Cover Studio™ Perfect Shade® Mineral Foundation. This fabulous duo concealer swiftly camouflages blemishes including scars, hyper-pigmentation and even tattoos! The brightener glides onto the skin; highlighting eyes, brows, cheekbones and the Cupid's bow resulting in a beautiful dewy and luminous complexion. This is enriched with jojoba to provide moisture; preventing the skin from drying out.

Sheer Cover Studio™ Lengthening Mascara and Lash Extending Fibers - well, what can I say about these products other than "WOW!!!!" These finish off the look perfectly with full, voluminous lashes that take hardly any effort to achieve.

Sheer Cover's ground-breaking lash-lengthening technology allows you to achieve the long, plentiful lashes that you may have thought was impossible (I certainly did!). To apply the fibers you add one coat of mascara and then apply the fibers over it whilst still wet and then finish with another coat of mascara. The result is super-long lashes that look like falsies! Just stunning!

Sheer Cover Studio™ Sun-Kissed Bronzing Minerals is a gorgeous, illuminating pressed powder that gives the perfect balance between shimmer and sun-kissed colour. It contains light-reflective minerals that add just a hint of shimmering colour and a natural looking glow.

Use to highlight, contour and add a healthy sun-kissed glow to any skin tone. It blends beautifully and can be lightly swept on our built up for darker skin tones.

The Sheer Cover Studio™ Makeup Brushes complete this stunning kit, making it ideal for those who are new to Sheer Cover and mineral make-up. These are used by celeb make-up artists and help to achieve those flawless looks we see on our screens.

The foundation, concealer and bronzer brushes each have soft, all-natural bristles and are ideal for applying Sheer Cover Studio™ products. 

Check out these before and after images:

I love the results. It covers redness, spots and dark circles and creates beautiful, long and natural lashes - LOVE IT!

Find out more at

Friday, 29 August 2014

Back to School and ready for lunch with Stuck On You


I can't believe its 'back to school' next week! I don't know about you, but the summer has gone by far too quickly for my liking! We are almost ready - the uniforms are labelled and today saw the last of the new shoes bought.

The children are allowed to bring a water bottle everyday to drink in class and the eldest children bring a packed lunch everyday. Lunchboxes are a big deal these days. Gone are the favourite characters because they are 'embarrassing' apparently but plain ones are not exciting enough.

 I have always had a soft spot for personalised items and I think in the case of school items, this is ideal. This is one of the reasons that I love products from Stuck On You.

"Stuck on You was created in 1995 by a Mum for her son who needed labels for nursery and now, over 19 years later, they have a huge range of personalised labels and gifts and sell to hundreds of countries over the world."
We were sent one of Stuck On You's Value Lunch Packs (£29.99) which consists of a personalised lunch box and a 500ml personalised drinks bottle and I'm so impressed with the quality. This is an absolute bargain too, as the lunchbox is £18.99 to buy on it's own and the drinks bottle is £15.99.

You can select the colour of the lunchbox from red, navy or pink; the design from 36 different images or name only and of course, the name(s) of your choice. The drinks bottle comes in white and can have a different design to the lunchbox if you wish (but same name).

We chose the Sweetie Pie design, which is super-cute images of children playing on swings, unicorns and rainbows.

The lunchbox is a good size (Approx 230 x 95 x 200mm) which appeals to me because I detest having to fight with a lunch box to get everything to fit. The exterior is made from a durable poly canvas and has a water repellent lining that is easy to wipe clean.

I really like the reinforced handle that is lovely and soft for little hands to hold and the insulated lining keeps everything fresh and cool. The silver  lining is a hit with my daughter too as she thinks it's 'special' - I guess she's right!

The zip fastening is high in quality and importantly, it's easy to open and close. I particularly like the pocket at the front that closes with a little magnet - the perfect place to pop in a note or napkin.

The designs are well printed and look beautiful. I can't wait to see it in use!

The drinks bottle is also excellent - it's a full 500ml size so there should be enough water to last all day. It is spill proof, BPA free, and would actually make a really lovely present for someone.

I love that the are made from food grade stainless steel rather than plastic because they last longer but also the plasticy taste you get from some plastic bottles is really quite unpleasant.

It's so much easier for children to recognise their property if it has their name on so hopefully this will mean I no longer need to replace bottles every other week because they've been lost or accidentally taken home by other child.

The lid pops up, which is a great improvement on our last lidded water bottle which my daughter could not open and was too shy to ask someone for help. This resulted in a very thirsty little girl by home time. I opted for lidless bottles after that, but then it's difficult to keep them clean and germ-free.

It's also very easy to drink from so it's perfect for younger school age children. Stuck On you, have so many fabulous products, not just for school but for every day - pop over and see what you think: - I'm loving the Little Kids labels!

That's us all set for the first day of term! Are you ready?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Homemade Thursday - Bread and school dinners

I have been lazy this week - it's been so full-on at home recently that I've just let making stuff slide a little. However,  I have been cooking and baking a fair bit this week.

GBBO last week had a bread theme so I had a go at Ciabatta for the first time. Although it was an uber faff, I was really happy with the results and the kids LOVED it.

I also tested out a recipe from a sample school meals menu  - Lamb meatballs which has loads of hidden veg in the sauce. I'd be pleased if my children are going to be offered meals of this standard, nutritionally! But I'm still a big fan of the packed lunch! It's rather lovely for a family dinner idea too!

...and finally, I made a family tea using a recipe from one of my favourite food bloggers - Jenny from Mummy Mishaps. Her Pizza Stuffed Bread caught my eye last week and we all needed an evening of comfort food, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Now, mine doesn't looks as pretty as Jenny's. but it tasted amazing! Everyone enjoyed it, and my fussy eaters asked if I can make it again very soon!

I'd love to see  your homemade/handmade posts. I will feature my favourites next time!

If you would like to link up anything 'homemade' that you've blogged/pinned/instagrammed then please do so at the bottom of the post! 

It can be an old post or something new.... it's all about sharing ideas and inspiring each other!

i would love you forever if you would either grab my button (below) or text link back to me. I will then share these on social media. 

Homemade Thursday

You can link up anytime between now and 31st August 2014 and then the next Homemade Thursday linky will open on the 4th September.

To read more about Homemade Thursday please look here.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Free school meals for all primary school children aged 4 to 7 and my #SchoolMealMemories

I think when most people think about their #SchoolMealMemories, they think of unappealing stodge and lumpy semolina and 'frogspawn' (Tapioca). I used to quite enjoy school dinners when I had them, but I do have horrid memories of lumpy desserts and a vile tasting 'stuff' that was apparently meant to be Ratatouille.

School meals aren't like that anymore, and although I've always preferred a packed lunch for my children, apparently only 1% of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards of school meals these days, which is quite surprising!.

I have a primary school age child, so this September she, along with all other children in reception, year 1 and year 2 will be entitled to free school meals. She is eager to give them a try so I was interested to find out just what sort of things she will be eating.

The Department for Education are currently raising awareness on the launch of free school meals, so, if you don't know what this initiative is about you can find out more information on the policy at

According to The Children's Food Trust, their example of a new spring/summer lunch menus for primary schools ​mee​t​​s ​the current and revised school food standards, best practice guidance and recommended typical portion sizes.

It has also been nutritionally analysed against the nutrient framework to ensure it meets primary school children’s nutritional requirements.

This weekend, I decided to test out one of the recipes from the example menu - Lamb Meatballs (obviously reduced to make 5/6 portions rather than 25!)

Allergy information:

Recipe type:

Number of portions this recipe makes:
25 primary servings (135g)

Preparation time:
30 minutes

Cooking time:
1 hour 30 minutes

Recipe adapted from:
Colham Manor Primary School

1.5kg lean lamb mince
5g (5tsp) mixed dried herbs
25ml olive oil
150g onions, peeled and diced
100g leeks, trimmed and diced
30g celery, diced
160g red pepper,deseeded and sliced
100g courgettes, sliced
50g tomato purée
120g carrots, peeled and sliced
120g canned chopped tomatoes
300ml water
5g (5tsp Dried oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
2. In a large bowl, mix the minced lamb with the dried mixed herbs. Shape the mixture into balls, approximately 2 per 60g of meat, and place on a baking tray.
3. Bake the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes until just starting to brown,then transfer to an ovenproof baking dish and set aside.
4.Heat the oil in a large pan,fry the onions, leeks, celery, pepper and courgettes until soft.
5.Add the tomato purée and stir well. Then add the carrots, canned tomatoes, water and dried oregano and stir well. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer until all the vegetables are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
6.In a food processor or with a stick blender, blend the vegetable and tomato mixture until smooth.
7.Pour the vegetable and tomato sauce over the meatballs to generously cover them.Cover the dish with tin foil and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling hot.

It went down well with 3 out of my 4 children, so I'd say that was a success and I thought it was delicious (and very healthy with the amount of veg that was squeezed into that sauce!)

I'm feeling a lot more confident about the new school meals now and I will be interested to see what my daughter thinks when she goes back to school in the next week or so.

One of the things I remember most about school meals was the enjoyment of being able to choose my own meals and feeling rather grown up in doing so; I'm hoping my daughter will feel that way as well, and if the food she is offered is healthy too, then that will make me happy to boot.

What are your #SchoolMealMemories? 
How do you feel about the new policy on free school meals for 4-7 year olds?
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