Monday, 31 July 2017

The Laugh Out Loud Awards 2017 #lollies

Have you heard of the Lollies? The Laugh Out Loud Awards celebrate the funniest and most engaging fiction books for children.

The 2017  shortlist has been announced and it is time to get reading and voting for your favourites!
The shortlist was decided by Michel Rosen, Katie Thistleton and Nicolette Jones. An author and former children's laureate, a childrens TV presenter and The Sunday Times Children's book editor, they certainly know what they are talking about. There are three separate award catagories; Picture Books, 6-8 years and 9-13 years. 

When looking to buy books for the boys, I always look for books that will make both them(and us) laugh. I find those are the books that get read time and time again. We were sent two of the shortlisted books and have been busy reading them at home.

Oi Dog! By Kes and Clare Grey and illustrated by Jim Fields This follow up book to Oi Frog! is another amusing read, only this time the frog makes the rules and dogs no longer sit on logs which means everybody needs a new place to sit.
With lovely bright cheeky illustrations and fun rhyming text this was a real hit with Alex who has since kept it on his bed along with his other favourite books. 

Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace 
The people of Earth are in big trouble! Luckily Hamish is here to save us, isn't he? I won't ruin the story but I will say that this book has really engaged Seb (he has read it twice). The story has a combination of adventure, comicality and a little bit of fear within it and it certainly had him hooked.  Seb says "I liked Hamish and the Never People, it was a little bit scary but really funny." 

You can find out more about The Laugh Out Loud Awards over at Scholastic. There is information about the shortlisted books, activities and much more.
Voting closes on 8th December so there is plenty of time to read and vote for your favourites. The winners will be announced in January 2018. 

** We received these books for the purpose of this post all opinions are our own**

Our Weekly Meal Plan #31

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend?
Last weeks meal plan went sell until the weekend when we ended up changing a couple of meals. We had these lovely sausages in buns in these cool hot dog boxes I picked up in Home Bargains. We got some burger boxes too, the boys loved the novelty and I loved a bit less washing up!

This week we have a few busy days and on Friday Phil and I are heading into Leeds for food and cocktails as it is his birthday, it is the first child free evening we have had in well over a year and I am looking forward to it. I have written a meal plan for this week  but it may well change depending on weather and what we get up to.

Monday Fish Pie
Tuesday Pasta in tomato and basil sauce with garlic bread (M&S meal deal)
Wednesday Sausages, mash and onion gravy plus veg
Thursday Pasta and meatballs
Friday Out
Saturday Steak and cheese burgers, chips and onion rings 
Sunday Mac n cheese with bacon 

Why not check out my previous meal plans?

Friday, 28 July 2017

Walking, Early Starts and Tantrums. Fifteen Months Old.

Barney is now fifteen months old. I last wrote an update when he turned one and there have been a few big changes recently and I want to document them.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

How to Make an Erupting Volcano at Home

Last week Seb asked if we could make a volcano and it kick started a mini volcano topic which lasted the whole weekend. I thought I would share how to make an erupting volcano at home. It is so easy and the boys really enjoy the reactions.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #30

It's officially summer, now school is out it feels like summer even if the weather isn't summery. Because we home ed life doesn't change much apart from everywhere being busier and more expensive! Phils work has a summer break so he has nearly three weeks off work starting today.

Last weeks plan was a hit. Especially the corned beef hash and pasta and meatballs, both of those always mean empty plates. Alex and I also mde a berry crumble which we served with chocolate ice cream. The boys did have the fish fingers on Friday but Phil and I opted for a takeaway once they were in bed. I am shattered at the moment as Barney is insisting on very early wake ups. I wanted comfort food so we ordered in.

Monday Carbonara
Tuesday Slow cooked chilli and jacket potatoes
Wednesday Chicken, spinach and sweet potato korma with rice for me and the boys. Phil hates coconut so is having steak and chips.
Thursday Garlic kievs, wedges and veg
Friday Slow cooked spaghetti bolognese
Saturday Steak and cheese burgers, chips and salad
Sunday Pulled pork, mash and veg

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Baby and Toddler Show Ticket Giveaway and Discount Code

Today I am giving someone the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Baby and Toddler Show. Last year we attended The Baby and Toddler Show in Manchester and it was a really fun day. I really recommend it for anyone currently expecting a baby or who has a young baby. We came away with a goody bag, lots of lovely samples and we bought some lovely items.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Summer Visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

On Monday we took advantage of the beautiful sunshine and decided to head to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It is one of my favourite places to visit with the boys, there is always something new to look at be it the art or the park itself with the changing seasons. The park also recently celebrated it's 40th anniversary.

Current artists include Zak Ove and Ai Weiwei and I have been looking forward to seeing their work. I was not disappointed. I love the Invisible Men and the sculpture park is the perfect setting for them.

The Circle of Animals was really cool too. I wasn't able to take many photos as there were several school groups also looking. We will definitely be heading back to have a better look though perhaps with a sketchbook and pencils.

The boys love this work by Dennis Oppenheim and spent ages exploring it. I think next time we go I will get them taking photos too. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #29

My goodness the weeks are flying by. I know it is a total cliche but it's true. Last week we did really well with our plan and I managed to avoid overspending on my midweek top up shop. The boys also dug up their potatoes so we have been using them in our meals. The pasta meal deal I picked up in M&S was so nice and took less than 10 minutes, I will definitely buy it again.

This week I am hoping the nice weather is back to stay so we can spend lots of time outside. The smallest is waking up at around 5.15 every day and it is exhausting so I am hoping that lots fresh air will mean more sleep! This weeks meal plan was put together by Seb, he found a meal planner pad that I have and decided he wanted to plan our dinners for the week. I think he did pretty well with just a couple of tweaks from me! My slow cooker will be working hard this week, I don't usually use it much over summer.

Monday Slow Cooker Chinese Chicken Curry with noodles
Tuesday Mac n cheese with bacon bits
Wednesday Slow Cooked Corned Beef Hash
Thursday Pasta and meatballs
Friday Fish finger sandwiches with salad
Saturday Easy Homemade pizza
Sunday Sausages and veg fritters

What will you be eating this week?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

60 Things to do in West Yorkshire This Summer

Summer is here at last and the school holidays are looming! I have compiled a list of 60 things to do in West Yorkshire this summer holidays. I could have gone on forever as there seems to be so much going on and so many lovely places to visit.  We are totally spoilt for choice.  

  • Shibden Hall and Park Explore the grade 2 listed house, enjoy the park with it's land train,  miniature railway, play area and Lake with rowing boats for hire.  We love it here and as an added bonus, parking is really cheap! The cafe does a lovely hot chocolate if you happen to visit on a rainy day. 
  • Eureka! Visit The National Childrens Museum and learn in a hands on fun way. Eureka is celebrating it's 25th birthday this year. 
  • National Coal Mining Museum Learn about the history of mining, meet the pit ponies and head 140m down for an underground tour.
  • The Room on the Broom Trail Head to Anglers Country Park in Wakefield and complete the two mile Room on the Broom Trail. 
  • Lister Park A beautiful park in Bradford that we only discovered recently. Outdoor sculptures and the home of Cartwright Hall Bradford art gallery which has a brand new Hockney gallery this summer. 
  • National Science and Media Museum Check out the fab new Wonderlab exhibition, hands on learning which we recently visited. 
  • Temple Newsam Head to Temple Newsam with a picnic,  visit Home Farm, explore the house or just enjoy the grounds.
  • Charlottes Ice Cream Parlour It isn't summer without ice cream! Head to Charlottes for delicious ice cream, animals, a lovely play area and beautiful views. 
  • Leeds City Museum Visit Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square, explore the five floors of exhibits and take part in some of the summer holiday activities
  • Royal Armouries Britains national museum of arms and armour is a great place to spend an afternoon with kids. Lots to see and do and it is free. 

  • Thornes Park Head to the park to feed the ducks, kick a football around, make use of the skate park, ride the minute railway and burn some energy in the playground.
  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park We absolutely love the sculpture park, it is a great place to have locally. This summer there are some fab new artworks to see as well as old favourites. 
  • The Hepworth I was so pleased to see The Hepworth recently be crowed Msueum of the Year. Such a great place to visit and I recommend joining the family activities they have going on throughout the summer. 
  • Roundhay Park Over 700 acres of parkland, lakes, woodland gardens and playgrounds, Roundhay park is a great place to explore with the kids. 
  • Tropical World Located inside Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to all sorts of exciting and exotic animals from meerkats and monkeys to crocodiles and snakes. 
  • Another World Adventure Centre Great activities for children and adults. I love the sound of grass sledging! You can just turn up and have a go. 
  • The Rainbow Factory A storytelling wonderland for children. The Rainbow Factory is somewhere a little bit different, telling stories through theatre,  crafts and games.
  • Leeds Donkey Sanctuary Grab a bag of carrots or apples and visit the beautiful donkeys. 
  • Bradford Industrial Museum  Displays of textile machinery, steam power, printing machinery and motor vehicles. There are various family workshops on over the summer 
  • Kirkstall Abbey Explore the abbey and find out about it's history. Check out the visitor centre for events going on. Take a look at our muddy visit
  • Abbey House Museum Located opposite Kirkstall Abbey this family friendly museum has plenty to keep you busy. Explore Victorian streets, dress up and check out the fairytale exhibition. 
  • Greenhead Park One of the largest parks in Huddersfield,  Greenhead Park has loads to offer. Two lovely play areas, a miniature railway, skate park and our favourite part, the paddling pool. 
  • Beaumont Park Huddersfields oldest park features two play areas, woodland walks and pond with waterfall and fountain. 
  • Bradford Police Museum  Located in the old police station, the museum looks into the history of policing and also has a Victorian court room. 
  • Bradford Ice Rink If you are blessed with more balance than me why not go ice skating? There are family sessions and skating aids for younger children.
  • The Wonkey Donkey Visitors Centre Visit the donkey sanctuary and visitors centre.  Maybe even adopt a donkey! 
  • Swithens Farm Head to Rothwell to visit the open farm with soft playmy cafe and farm shop.
  • Meanwood Valley Urban Farm A 24 acre farm close to Leeds City Centre. Stroke and feed the animals and enjoy the play area. You can read about our recent visit to the farm. 
  • Tolson Museum Find out the history of Huddersfield at the Tolson Museum. 
  • Wilton Park and Bagshaw Museum The park has a lovely big playground,  ducks and swans to feed, a cafe and some nice baths to walk. The museum is great for a small local museum with interesting exhibits from both local history and further afield including ancient Egypt.
  • Kirklees Light Railway A great family day out in the summer. Ride on the trains and take in the beautiful views. Have a picnic and play. Look out for special events and deals on groupon. 
  • Middleton Park Explore the ancient woodland with it's pits, play in the playground and have lunch in the cafe. 
  • Middleton Railway The worlds oldest working railway! With a variety of engines running depending on day, you can ride the train to Middleton park, have a play and ride back again. Don't forget to explore the free museum.
  • Lotherton Hall The house and gardens are open to explore with both outdoor and indoor play and activities, there is plenty to keep you busy. There are special events over summer including Edwardian weekend and Owl Day. 
  • Nostell Priory National Trust properties always offer a great day out and Nostell Priory is no exception.  Explore the parkland, enjoy the natural play area and head inside the house. We had a lovely visit last summer. 
  • Diggerland We visited Diggerland a couple of years back and the boys still talk about it now. It is such a great day for any digger loving kids and adults! 
  • RSPB Fairburn Ings  A great place to observe nature , see what you can spot.
  • Wakefield Museum  Located in Wakefield One, Wakefield Museum is small but is a fun way to spend a couple of hours and entry is free! 
  • Newmiller Dam  A lovely walk for the whole family. Feed the ducks, explore the woods and build a den
  • Oakwell Hall and Country Park. The hall dates back to 1583 and is open to visitors. As well as the house (which has connections with the Brontes) there are beautiful gardens to enjoy. The Green flag award winning country park is lovely for a walk and there is a gift shop, nature trail and great play area too.
  • Pontefract Castle Visit the castle and tour the dungeon. The castle is holding various events throughout the summer holidays. 
  • Farmer Copleys Fancy an a maize-ing maze? Pop down to Farmer Copleys where their famous corn maze is ready for action.  Alongside the maze are plenty of other family activities. And of course head into the farm shop for some tasty treats (I recommend the huge cornflake cakes). 
  • Dearne Lea Tea Rooms Yummy ice creams served at a working dairy. Go late in the day and you can watch the cows be great milked. 
  • Harewood House Visit the stunning Harewood House where this summer there are a whole host of Alice in Wonderland themed activities both inside and out. 
  • Castleford museum Become a roman for the day at Castleford Museum.With various family activities on during the holidays this is yet another free museum in our area.
  • Xscape Yorkshire Skiing, snowboarding, bowling, trampolining and so much more going on for all ages. 
  • Pugneys Watersports Centre Take advantage of dry days and head for a walk, scoot or bike ride around Pugneys lake. Drop into the pirate themed play area andtake a ride on the train. f you are feeling mone adventurous book yourself onto canoeing or windsurfing lessons. 
  • Sandal Castle Take the path from Pugneys upto the castle and admire the views. 
  • Playworld A huge four storey soft play plus a large roller skating rink. 
  • Ogden Water Nature Reserve  The perfect place for a picnic and feeding the ducks.  
  • Hemsworth Water Park and Playworld  Head to Hemsworth to enjoy the waterparks two lakes with sandy beaches, have a ride on the pedalos and enjoy the outdoor adventure playground.  
  • Adrenaline International One of Europe's largest family entertainment centres. Both a trampoline park and soft play along with a cafe for refreshments we can't wait to visit.
  • Grasshoppers Visit Tong Garden Centre and tire the little ones out in the outside play area. Giant sandpit, jumping pillow, zip wires and race tracks to drive around.  
  • Manor Heath Park and The Jungle Experience A gorgeous well maintained park with some brilliant play equipment for all. Get wet in the splash area and explore the jungle experience.
  • Leeds Industrial Museum  Explore the industry's that shaped Leeds at Armly Mills. Lots to see including a working waterwheel, factory machinery, a working 1920's cinema and restored Victorian cottages.  
  • Keighley and Worth Valley Railway With steam trains running every day over the summer a visit here will please all ages. The railway is famous for it's appearances in many TV programmes and films(including The Railway Children).
  • Thackray Medical Museum Explore the world of medicine through interactive galleries. Become a disease detective and use real medical instruments. 
  • Hardcastle Crags 400 acres of unspoilt woodland to explore and family friendly  Gibson Mill visitor centre with hands on displays. The centre is off grid making it unique in the UK. 
  • Thwaite Mills Watermill One of the last water powered mills in Britain, Thwaite Mills is nestled on an island. Explore the house, visit the engineers workshop and see the wheels in motion. 
  • Standedge Tunnel  Take a boat ride beneath the Pennines in Britain's longest, deepest, highest canal tunnel. 
Have a fantastic summer!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

bakerdays Cake Review and Giveaway!

Cake is one of my pleasures in life so when I was given the chance to receive a bakerdays cake to review, I was over the moon. I picked out a letterbox gift cake to review and it soon arrived.

bakerdays is a Nottingham based company delivering cakes all over the UK. They have a range of cakes available from cupcakes to large celebration cakes and there are both gluten free and dairy free options available. There are many many designs available for all occasions and many cakes can also be personalised. If you order by 2pm your cake can be delivered on the next day.

Firstly I want to show you how well packaged and presented a bakerdays cake is.  When you are receiving something delicate in the post packaging is so important to prevent any damage. The cake arrived in strong cardboard packaging. Importantly the box fits through a standard letterbox so your recipient doesn't have to wait in for their parcel. In fact we were out when ours arrived.

On opening the box you are greeted with a lovely cake tin, a little card, and a pack containing a few balloons, candles and a party blower. I think this is a really sweet addition to the cake. 
Inside the tin is of course your chosen bakerdays cake. I opted for a birthday design for Phil, personalised with his name and a chocolate chip sponge.  The cake is easy to remove from the tin and I am impressed with how well it travelled. It was in perfect condition.  

The letterbox cake is 5 inches and will serve 3-4 portions. There are 5 of us and we all managed to have a portion each. The cake is lovely,  the sponge is moist, rich and chocolaty. We all enjoyed it. I love that you can keep the cake tin too, it is the perfect size for utilising elsewhere in the home. 

I have been really pleased with our bakerdays cake delivery. They are the perfect treat for a loved one particularly if you are unable to be with them to celebrate a special occasion. For more information why not pop over to the bakerdays site and take a look at their amazing range.

The lovely team at bakerdays are also offering one lucky reader the chance to win a letterbox cake. Simply fill in the rafflecopter below to be in with a chance. Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

1. Open to UK residents only.

2. Entrants must be over 18.

3. All entries will be verified. 

4. Please make sure i have a way to contact you if you win.

5. Prize is one letterbox gift cake from bakerdays. No cash alternative. 

6. Prize provided by PR 

7. If I am unable to make contact with the winner within a reasonable time a new winner will be drawn. 

**We received this cake for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own**

Monday, 10 July 2017

Our weekly meal plan #28

Happy Monday Meal Planners! I hope you all got to enjoy the sunshine over the weekend, I am hoping that it is here to stay for a while.

We did okay last week. I didn'tmake lasagne yesterday because it was just too warm in my kitchen to be stood making one so I am making it tonight instead. This week's shopping is from Morrisons and Marks and Spencer.  I had over £30 on my quidco account so I converted it to an M&S voucher and got some lovely bits in the food hall. It was like free shopping!

Monday Lasagne
Tuesday Pulled chicken, sweet potato mash and veg
Wednesday M&S posh dogs with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob
Thursday Pasta in tomato and basil sauce and garlic bread
Friday Fishcakes, wedges and veg
Saturday Steak burgers, chips and salad
Sunday Salmon, mash and green beans

Monday, 3 July 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #27

Monday has rolled around again and it's time for this weeks meal plan.  We did ok last week but didn't eat the chilli so we are having that this week instead. The relentless rain meant stawberry picking was off the cards too, boo!

I can't quite believe it is July! I am hoping to spend less on food this month, some weeks I seem to spend a fortune on midweek supermarket trips. I pop in for some bread or milk and come home with all sorts of things.
Last week I did a freezer inventory. We don't have a huge freezer but I find that things get pushed to the back of it and get forgotten about quickly. This weeks meals use up all of those odds and ends. It is a bit mince heavy but at least it isn't all beef mince!

Monday Puff pastry minced beef pie with mash, veg and gravy

Tuesday Home topped pizza, garlic bread and salad

Wednesday BBQ chicken pasta

Thursday Mini pork and apple burgers/veggie sausages with potato waffles and corn in the cob

Friday Chilli and rice

Saturday Homemade turkey burgers with chips and peas

Sunday Lasagne

Why not take a look at my previous weekly meal plans?

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