June Round Up Post

This month we have been to try out lots of different things. There have been quite a few food and drink products this month and some books too, as well as an app and a great new labelling idea.

Mabel’s Labels

labelling for schoolMabel’s Labels are a new idea in labelling. Their Write Away labels are really easy to use and you can have your label say whatever you want it to.  This is perfect if you need to change what you write, for example if you need to write in the name of your child’s class or their school or their scout troop.  The other good thing is that you can use them to label things for other family members if needs me without having to get custom labels made.

Basically you write on the name; peel off the white label to revealing a sticky transparent flap that you stick over your writing; then you just peel off the sticker and place where you want it.  We’ve used them this week to label H’s wellies up for a school trip and a water bottle too and they seem to cope well with sticking to different materials.  There’s also an iron on version for clothes and that works in a similar way: you write your name; put the sticker in place; iron over it (using the reusable silicon sheet over the label).

Toca Life: City

toca bocaToca Boca are one of our favourite app makers.  They make lovely fun apps for children.  They tend to be quite creative and H often giggles away at the creations he makes.  We’ve been playing Toca Boca: Town over the last week or two and H has been loving it.  Toca Life: City is Toca Boca’s follow up to Toca Boca: Town and it’s their most customizable and detailed app to date, with features including:

  • 4 locations to explore: loft apartment, shopping mall, hair salon and food park
  • 28 characters that are customizable in 3.1 million different ways!
  • 51 hairstyles to test, 37 colours to choose from and 59 different clothes to try on
  • 7 different food stands at the food park

So as you can see there is an enormous range of different combinations to play around with, which means that your child can enjoy this app for a long time.  H keeps coming back to his Toca Boca apps and I can see that this will be happening with this one too.  From a parental point of view I love that there is no  third-party advertising and there are no in-app purchases.  There’s no need for the app to cause any stress either as there are no time limits and no high scores, which take out a lot of the problem areas.  You can find out more on the trailer:

The Beach Book

beach activitiesLooking for activities to do around the water, The Beach Book has a great range of suggestions for things to do on the beach, but also by the shores of a lake or the banks of the river.  Worth having a read of before you plan your summer holiday activities.  This is a really lovely book.

Project Dad

project dad book


This book from Parragon is packed full of projects, indoors or out, to do together.  Obviously, they don’t have to be with dad, they could be with grandad or uncle or mum, but I’m loving the ideas in this one.  You can make a shadow puppet theatre or a kite, you might want to build an outdoor shelter or a catapult game.  Project Dad has lots of fun ideas.

Bangkok Street Noodles

Bangkok Street NoodlesBangkok Street Noodles are one of those tastes of the orient: they are tasty, quick and available when you need food.  I love the idea of being able to do the same at home with minimal effort.  I got these from the chilled aisle at Morrisons.  They are really simple to prepare: just microwave.  Very tasty and fresh too – we were impressed.  We have healthy appetites and found one pack was great for one person for a light meal like lunch, but I’d need to pair it up with a side dish for a main meal.

Heinz Baked Beans With 50% Less Sugar

low salt sugar beans

There’s been a move towards lower salt foods and now Heinz are leading the way towards lower sugar foods too.  Their new beans have less salt and sugar (no artificial sweeteners either), but there isn’t really a noticeable difference in taste.  It’s got to be a good thing to eat a little less salt and sugar in our diet, but sometimes food companies don’t help us achieve this, so it’s good to see big firms like Heinz taking it seriously.

Imune Nuture

Imune NurtureThis is a new drink for children.  Each 200ml pouch is packed with optimum daily amounts of vitamins for children aged two to five years. Including Wellmune WGP 100% natural beta glucan is a clever ingredient designed to strengthen key immune cells. Vitamins B6, B9, B12, C, D, and zinc contribute to the normal function of the immune system, Calcium and Vitamin D provide power for the normal growth and development of strong bones, and Vitamin B5 supports brain development.  They come in a handy pouch which is light and easy to carry around.  We found it made life easy in terms of getting everything in the fridge too in hot weather.  I have to admit we did struggle a little with the cap.  It’s a sports style one which you have to press down to get the drink out, which makes it near impossible to spill, but we did find it a bit tricky to get the liquid out at times.

Make A Bar

make a chocolate barWe have been trying out the Make-a-Bar Chocolate Factory.  This is a handy little kit that lets you make a bar of chocolate for yourself or to give as a gift.  Inside the kit were:

  • some templates to use as a guide
  • a mould
  • 3 sachets of different types of chocolate – dark, milk and white chocolate

monstersH didn’t want to try one of the templates and preferred to create his own picture.  As you can see it’s a rather complex picture of H’s very own Spiderman adventure. Whilst it’s fun to create your own design, you’d be better off going for something much simpler.  But, H is nothing if not ambitious, so we had a go.

spiderman in chocolateHere’s the finished mould.  As you can see the finer details didn’t translate well,but I think you can make out the three main characters.

We had fun with this kit and it’s a nice pack to have in the rainy day box for those days when you are bored, but can’t go out.  I also think it’s a nice way to make a little present with a personal touch for someone, especially if they like chocolate.  H also enjoyed getting to eat some of the left over chocolate.

Sick of Flies

fitted flyscreen on a windowI love having windows and doors open in the summer letting the fresh air flow through the house. Everything is a lot fresher that way and it keeps the house cool in hot weather. One of the biggest downsides though is that flies get in. This is a pain in the neck for us as we have catfood down in the kitchen and I am always having to throw away catfood because flies have laid their eggs in it. In our area food waste isn’t to go in the normal black bin bags and it’s collected separately, so depending on the time of the week, you could easily have your food waste container crawling with maggots. Don’t even get me started on the irritating noise they make.  I think you can see why I hate flies in the house.
I’d not really thought about how I could deal with keeping flies out before. The only things I was aware of were those fly screen curtains: you know the coloured material strip kind and the more industrial metal types that professional kitchens use. I wasn’t sure either were the right thing for my home. So when DIY Flyscreens got in touch, I was interested to read about their product. They sent me a code and I tried the order process out. It was really easy to do and within a few days are screen was with us.

We decided to order a screen for the study window. This is the room I spend most of my day in as it’s where I’m writing this.  It’s a room that can get hot and stuffy in the summer because it’s south-facing and has a big window.  I loved the idea of being able to sit at my desk and have a breeze come in to cool me down without bringing any unwelcome insects with it.  Another benefit that I could see is that I think it will discourage my cats from jumping up onto the open window and worrying me half to death that they are going to fall (just to be clear DIY Flyscreens don’t guarantee it will stop bigger animals like that, but I think the screen will put them off jumping up because they will be able to see it.

fly screen as it arrives in postAs you can see the screen looks like a uPVC window frame when it arrives through the post.  The instructions for installation are on the website and do not come with the flyscreen.  This was fine for us as we were putting up the screen in the study with easy access to the computer, but you’d need to be able to access the instructions on a more mobile device elsewhere in the house. The screen was pretty easy to fit.  You slot it together.  Check it is the right size.  Remove the adhesive strips and attach it to your window frame.  You can then adjust how far you want the screen to open and how quickly you want it to retract.  We wished we’d done this process while the frame was still on the ground as it took a little while to adjust, which is a bit challenging when you are standing on you tippy toes to turn the knob.

cat and flyscreenThis is a quality, bespoke product which is made to fit your window, so it’s one to use for key windows or doors.  It does a really effective job and seems robust to keep flies out of my home for many years to come.  Another plus point is that it blends in well with my existing white window frames.  You wouldn’t really notice it was there when the window is closed as it blends in. I’m very happy with the quality, fit and service of this product.  I have a discount code for a flyscreen for readers, you can get a 10% discount with the code: RXGB0W36X0.

Week 26 of 2015

my birthday cardsFor the last three years I’ve celebrated my birthday at BritMums.  This year I decided not to go and I spent the weekend at home with the family. It was quite a quiet birthday compared to recent years, but a pleasant one.  We went out for lunch as a family and chilled out at home.

b and d reversalFather’s Day was quite low key in our house too.  Mr Nine to Three Thirty got a card addressed to ‘Baddy’.  H still reverses his ‘b’s and ‘d’s sometimes.

scrape on carOn Monday things started to go wrong.  I went to a supermarket and parked in their carpark.  Over the years I have parked there umpteen times, but on that day I got it horribly wrong and ended up squeezed up against a pillar.  Panic set in and I couldn’t work out how to get it out without causing major damage.  Luckily the store staff were great and the kind lady got the local bobbies on their bikes to come and help.  One reversed it out for me and I don’t think anyone could have done a better job, but the damage was already done.  Felt like a complete fool though.

Tuesday didn’t go much better.  The car went in for its service and MOT.  I had a phone call in the afternoon to say that the car would need its brake disks and pads replacing to pass its MOT. I thought we’d had the brakes done at Christmas when we had our horrible Boxing Day breakdown, but a check of the paperwork revealed we had the front ones done and this was the rear ones.  More expense.   I’d arranged a delivery for Tuesday because it was the perfect day for me to wait in, as I would be without a car.  Sadly John Lewis failed to turn up and had cancelled our order (system error apparently). They arranged express delivery, but for a much less convenient time. Wasn’t very happy.

poppy petalsThankfully things did seem to improve towards the end of the week.  I did a couple of quite challenging inversions in my yoga class including a handstand, so I felt quite proud of myself.  My Instagram follower count edged over the 5000 mark, which was very nice to see.  It was very hectic though and I didn’t take many photos.  The ones I did take were of flowers in my garden and a friend’s.  Loving this poppy with its wonderful colours.