Sunday 21 February 2016

I`m Back...Again!!

Sorry for being absent the last few months: this is going to sound like a really bad excuse but life has literally got in the way.

I`m starting to feel like I`m in control again so here I am!

Regular readers will know I started Slimming World at the start of last year and lost just over a stone. I left group in May due to financial reasons but tried to keep to plan, sadly the old ways of eating slowly crept in and by Christmas 2015 I had regained almost all of what I had lost. I think not having the weekly weigh-in`s made me a little complaisant and I was in denial of how much I had gained.

I started back up 1 week ago with my lovely friend Natalie who runs the Alderney group local to me. Natalie is an inspiration for me having lost over 4 stone and 5 dress sizes in a year and she has managed to keep it off for over a year.

First week on plan didn`t go very well. As a Valentines treat hubby secretly booked us a table at a local restaurant, it was a lovely idea but sadly there wasn`t a single thing on the menu that I could of adapted to be on plan. I think I used all my syns for the week in one meal!!!! That resulted in only half a pound loss for my first weigh-in. I was so angry and upset that I hadn`t lost more that I was actually chocking back the tears as Natalie was talking to me in front of the group. Oh well it was a blip on hopefully a successful weight loss journey and tomorrow is another day.

So far this week I have been on plan 100% and haven`t gone over my allowed syns.

I finally have the passion back to start trying new meal ideas so will be showing my creations here; let me know if you try any and like them xx

Monday 21 December 2015

Breakfast With Santa And Wyevale Garden Centres

Regular readers of this blog will know that to help celebrate Easter this year we had Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at out local Wyevale Garden Centre in Wimborne. We had a great time so were thrilled when we were asked to see what we thought of their Christmas version...Breakfast With Santa.
Sadly our local centre in Wimborne wasn`t holding this event this time so we visited our next local centre called John Brown`s in Ringwood. Click HERE to see if your local centre is participating in this event.

We arrived just as the store was opening and made our way to the restaurant. We were greeted by two very authentic looking elves who showed us to our table. The table was laid out festively with activity sheet and crayons to keep the kids occupied, a cracker each and bag of chocolate coins for each child. Also we found a lovely card written to the family from the all the staff at John Brown`s.

Then the business of calling Santa started; the children were asked to all sit together on the floor and help Santa know where he had to come to by calling him. Now Ben is usually a bit funny with loud noises but he got right in with the rest of the children and helped to call Santa. And then on cue Santa appeared to the delight of all the children.

The boys then took their seats as our breakfast was ready to be served. With this event there are a few breakfast choices for the adults; you can choose from a cooked full English breakfast with a cup of coffee or a pot of tea for £7.99 or a lighter choice of a baked pastry and a cup of coffee or pot of tea for £3.99. We chose the full English...who wouldn`t??? The kids had a mini breakfast of sausage, hash browns, scrambled eggs, beans and toast.

All of our food was delicious, I honestly can`t fault it all. Hubby especially liked the fact that the baked beans were served in a little tea cup as for some reason he hates it when the beans touch his eggs!!??

As we were eating our breakfast Santa came round to each individual table, sat down and chatted to each of the boys. He asked them if they had been good to which they replied of course!!!

Once breakfast was finished it was time to visit Santa in his grotto to receive a toy each. Whilst we were waiting for our turn the staff brought out a Christmas biscuit, icing piping bag and biscuit toppings for each child to pass the time. The boys loved decorating their biscuits. One thing that I thought was amazing was that the children sitting next to us were allergic to eggs so couldn`t have the biscuits. The girls were quite sad until one of the members of staff came back to them with a little tin of cookies from the store which didnt contain eggs. The little girls faces were a picture of happiness. A huge well done to the staff for going above and beyond to help include the little girls.

After a little while it was our turn to visit Santa in his mini grotto. Each child gets to speak to Santa then choose a toy from a large basket of unwrapped gifts. I think its a great idea to not have the presents pre wrapped as it allows the children to choose something they actually want, plus its not gender specific. I saw at least 4 girls with the same crystal exploration set Alfie had chosen. Jacob chose a Monster crafting set and Ben of course chose the only thing he needs...another car, not!!!!!

The whole experience was amazing, we will definately be coming back next year and will highly recommend anyone to give it a go. It is so worth the £9.99 per child and £7.99 per adult.

We were invited to this event free of charge by Wyevale in return for an honest review of their services.

Friday 11 December 2015

An Evening Off Dinner Duties With Table Table

With the manic run up to Christmas in full swing, why not give yourself the night off from cooking and treat the family to a lovely meal that wont break the bank? At such an expensive time of the year the idea of going out for a meal is honestly at the back of my mind, and I`m guessing most of yours too???

The guys at Table Table asked us if we fancied a family night out to try their great new Winter menu. We had been to Table Table a few times during the summer holidays and loved the food so were more than willing to try their new dishes!!!

Who are Table Table I hear you ask??

Table Table are a chain of family orientated pubs that became part of the Whitbread pub family in 2008. Their aim is to provide good quality pub food without splashing out the cash. The menus have a perfect balance of great value, tasty pub classics but also have some more interesting dishes to tempt your taste buds.

We visited our local Table Table restaurant in Holes Bay, Poole with my parents. We were served by the lovely Gillian, and from the moment we walked in nothing was too much for her; she was so friendly and even learned the names of the boys, which the boys thought was great!

The kids menu is amazing, the choices are laid out with photos so that that can choose their own dinner. My boys chose to have chicken dippers chips and beans, burger chips and beans and a hot dog with chips and tortillas....a random combo I know but that`s what Jacob wanted!!! Each child`s meal can have a dessert added to which my boys chose banana splits and a chocolate sundae. Also each child who orders receives an activity book with crayons which is a god send at keeping them occupied whilst waiting for their food to arrive.

Cool dude!!

The portion sizes for kids are huge

Ben was chuffed with his huge sundae!

Alfie being kept busy whilst waiting for his tea

I decided to push the boat out and have the Mixed Grill. Now I`m quite fussy when it comes to how my steaks are cooked, I asked for medium-rare and it was cooked perfectly. The steak melted in my mouth as did the fact the whole mixed grill was delicious.

Hubby and my mum both chose the Salmon Wellington which was served with buttered potatoes, asparagus and peas. Chris was very happy with the portion sizing and loved devoured it all. He couldn`t find a single negative with his meal.

My step-dad chose the classic Fish and Chips, which he too thoroughly enjoyed.

For pudding between us we had a After Eight mint sundae, Sticky Toffee pudding with custard and crepes. I didn`t have a pudding as was so full from my mixed grill, but did find some space to help Ben demolish his chocolate fudge sundae!!!

Value for money at Table Table is unbelievable....we had 4 adult mains, 3 desserts and 3 kids meals including desserts all for under £70!!!!

All in all we were very impressed with the new winter menu at Table Table and have no hesitation of recommending them to anyone who is looking for a value quality family meal out.

In exchange for an honest review of this restaurant I received this meal free of charge.

Thursday 3 December 2015

The Perfect Christmas Eve Box

Since having the boys the meaning of Christmas has completely changed for us.

When it was just us hubby and I were quite selfish and really spoiled each other. Now we spoil the boys rotten!!

Each year I want to create lasting memories for the boys as I have such find memories of family Christmas` from my childhood.

One thing I have been meaning to do for a fair few years now is to make a Christmas Eve box, but never got round to doing it for them. This year I have decided to make one each for the 3 boys.

Because I don`t want to take the excitement of Christmas day away from them by having a box heaving with presents I have decided to do a basic but fun box. Here is what I intend to put in them.....

1. Christmas PJ`s - Nothing compares to the feeling of new cozy pj`s and its even better if they are Christmas themed! I know some people like to buy pj sets that can be worn all year round but I love seeing all my boys in matching clothes...even though I hated it when I was younger with my sister!!

2. Christmas Themed Book - There are so many different types of Christmas themed books on the market that I didn`t know where start....I fell in love with the RNLI`s take on the Christmas story. Incorporating the amazing institute that is the RNLI the book tells the story of how they save Christmas by helping out Santa when he gets into trouble. Each book can be personalised with your childs name to make it feel even more special. To order your personalised book click HERE.

3. Christmas Film - What better way to spend Christmas eve than being all snuggled up on the sofa with a Christmas film?? We tend to watch the classic Home Alone which all 3 boys enjoy no end. In each box this year I am adding a little DVD of Christmas themed cartoons.

4. Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows- The perfect treat for any family film night...the marshmallows are a must!!

5. Reindeer Food - The boys love to sprinkle some glitter and porridge mix by the cat flap in the back door, they say its so that the Reindeer`s can pop their heads through the flap and have a snack!!

I haven`t decided what to put all the bits in yet...a decorated box or a sack. All depends on what I see in the coming few weeks before the big day!!

Do you do Christmas Eve boxes??

What do you put in them?? I`d love to hear all your suggestions xxx

 Some of the contents of my Christmas Eve box were received free of charge to be included in my box.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Learning Another Language with FlashSticks

I have always wanted my boys to learn another language but with the age differences between them I had to find a system that allowed their different reading levels to be catered for.

FlashSticks to the rescue!!

FlashSticks is a revolutionary method of learning a new language quickly and easily.

Richard, the founder of FlashSticks, wanted to learn Spanish quickly. He was taking lessons but wanted a more efficient and fun way to learn.
He found himself starting to write down the word he wanted to learn on a sticky note with a simple picture of the meaning of the word, the word in Spanish and the pronunciation underneath the picture. Different coloured notes helped him remember the gender of the word.

Being on sticky notes you could then stick the note on the actual item, the idea is that you repeatedly see the item and the language description next to it and learn to associate them together making learning quicker and more fun.

FlashSticks are available in many languages including Spanish, French and even Sign Language! There are multiple levels to each language starting at beginner right up to advanced when you are becoming fluent in your chosen language. Each pack has around 100 sticky notes to stick around your house or workplace. Click HERE to see the while range of languages available to purchase.

When I was approached to try FlashSticks I had never heard of them. After some research I was pleased to find out that the price of each pack is very reasonable with a RRP of £4.99. I have looked at many other teaching methods but was put off by the high cost of each method, the price definitely got my attention!!

After explaining how each note worked the boys were really keen to start begin with we decided to stick the notes on the wall next to the dinning table so we could go through each note during dinner.

Only after a few days of the notes being there the boys were actually starting to pick up the words and quizzing each other. Every few days I tested them and amazingly they had remembered the words! We add new words to our learning area every few days so not to over load the boys; they are loving it. I honestly cant believe how quickly they are picking up each new word...I think that the pronunciation section makes a big difference as it allows them to break the word down phonically.

The FlashStick App has been created to run in tandem with your sticky note learning path. Available on both android and ios operating systems you`ll be very unlucky to find a device that wont run the new app.

The app is FREE and is a digital version of the sticky notes; you can track your progress on the app which shows you just how much you are learning.

FlashSticks app has a unique feature of the Worlds first object use your devices camera to scan an object and the app will tell you what the object is in your chosen language.

The boys love to scan random things when we are out and about to see what the app comes up with!

I would strongly recommend this learning system to anyone looking to learn a new language whilst having fun, the price is great and the different levels available will suit everyone.

Check out the video below of he boys showing just how easy it is to learn with FlashSticks.

We were provided the starter pack in Spanish to review free of charge in exchange for an honest review of the product.