Any Way To Stay At Home - Wanting to work from home, crafting and parenting
Hi, I'm a parenting and lifestyle blogger. I write about days out with my little boy, crafting, spa days, holidays and more. My blog follows my dream of becoming a Stay at Home Mum, the reasons behind it and all the joys of trying to work with a toddler.
Disclosure – We have been gifted a fabulous box of Toy Story 4 goodies from shopDisney to celebrate Toy Story 4 hitting the cinemas. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.
Our amazing bundle of Toy Story 4 Toys from shopDisney
I’m not sure I even know where to start with this. The first Toy Story was released in 1995 when I was 11 years old. It’s magic is something I have grown up with and now with Toy Story 4 soon hitting the cinema screens I am getting ready to share the excitement with L.
I had already started getting L prepared by watching ALL of the Toy Story films and shorts
We’ve watched all the current films together and he loves the characters and is totally swept away by the magic of toys being alive and only pretending to be toys. He loves the adventures they get up to and he watches the same story I am but gets something so very different from it. It’s a delight to watch.
That little face!
We are very excited to go to the cinema to watch Toy Story 4 when it’s released.
I don’t think he could believe he had his very own Woody Toy
You can only imagine his excitement when he got home to find the biggest box of toys from shopDisney. He rummaged through with glee, so excited to have his very own Buzz, Woody, Rex and Lotso. Desperate to play with them and start creating his own stories.
I am the dominant predator!!!!
After the excitement of the day getting him into bed was an issue. Even Buzz Lightyear pjs didn’t help, pretty certain he thinks he may actually be Buzz now. But eventually off to sleep he fell, surrounded by his new friends.
Bedtime was a very exciting affair
But what happens when the kids sleep, or leave the house, or are simply out of eyesight in Toy Story? Well the toys get on with their daily business don’t they and new toys in a new house are bound to get lost.
Eventually he fell asleep
We heard L when he woke up. Buzz, where’s Buzz? Muuuuummmmy! Rex was in my bed and now he isn’t. MUUUUUUMMMMMMMY!
Buzz had hidden in our room
Without even the slightest hint from us he careers into our room, yelling about his new guys were real, they’ve come to life and gotten lost and we must help him find them. So that’s what we did, at 6am. All our own fault.
Rex had helped himself to a snack
Buzz was hiding in our room. Rex and Woody had been hunting for snacks in the kitchen, Rex had actually found something to chomp on, much to L’s amusement. The only worrying one was Lotso who had climbed up the telescope and L was a bit concerned he was trying to find where he had come from and wanted to leave. But we explained he was probably just looking at the stars like we do, and a big, super cuddly, strawberry scented bear could only be happy being cuddled by a little boy. L was happy with that and thinks that’s why Lotso is good now, because he has a child to love him, which is why he was sad in the film.
He looked high and low
It’s been lovely watching him play so nicely with the toys and lovely watching him leap head first into the magic of it all. These are his toys and he adores them. The fact they are more than capable of getting up to mischief when his back is turned makes them even more fun.
L was a little worried Lotso was looking for a way out
We still sometimes move them around at night or when he is at school, just to see if he notices. Which he always does, normally rolling his eyes and gently telling them off for being so silly.
In a world first, Edinburgh based Pickering’s Gin, have created a gin that has been specifically developed to be enjoyed at altitude. The gin is available to drink onboard on all short haul flights and through the High Life shop as part of a trio pack.
Distilled at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Distillery, the unique 10-botanical gin celebrates the very best of British flora and fauna – juniper, rose petals and heather- alongside signature Pickering’s botanicals of lime, lemon, cardamom and cinnamon. The resulting spirit is the product of close collaboration, working together to ensure that flavour is maximised in the air, but tastes just as good on the ground.
Central to the flavour profile of the Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin is the addition of lemon myrtle. In contrast to other classic acidic citrus fruits, lemon myrtle imparts natural sweetness alongside the bold citrus flavour to the gin. This adds a fresh taste without the bitter edge, balancing with the sweet floral notes of heather and rose to deliver an enhanced sweetness and depth of flavour that is missing in many commercial gins when consumed at altitude.
Explaining the science behind this latest ‘gin-novation’, one of the world’s leading flavour scientists Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory commented: “At 30,000 feet, low air pressure and lack of humidity supress our taste receptors and alter our sense of smell. Our perception of sweet and salt are somewhat muted whereas our ability to identify spices and bitter flavours are seemingly left unchanged. Surprisingly, our ears play a part in how we perceive taste too. Background noise such as the hum of the engines can render many people unable to detect salty or sugary flavours effectively.”
Head Distiller and Co-founder Matt Gammell said: “To banish so-called airplane ‘taste blindness’, we have carefully designed a botanical flavour profile that enhances what you lack when you’re soaring in the sky.
“As a distiller, developing a gin on the ground and then trialling it in the sky at different altitudes was a fascinating process. We trialled multiple iterations of the recipe in the air until we were confident that it would taste as good in the sky as it did on the ground.”
Tasting Notes at 30,000ft:
A naturally balanced sweet and spiced gin with a beautiful note of juniper and citrus from the lemon myrtle paired alongside the heather and rose petal. This is balanced against the sweet spice of cinnamon and cardamom to give a lovely flavoursome gin.
Tasting Notes at 10,000ft and below:
A complex and beautifully classic gin with a bouquet of bold, floral juniper and zesty, sweet, lemon myrtle citrus. Delicate hints of rose and Scottish heather, warming cardamom and cinnamon spice.
Marcus Pickering, Co-Founder and Head of Export: “Five years ago when we established our small distillery in the centre of Edinburgh, it was all about local. While our local community in Edinburgh and Scotland is still extremely important to us, we now have the capacity for growth and export. Given our drive to take Pickering’s Gin into new markets, we are absolutely delighted to be working with an airline that gets us there – British Airways. It is an absolute dream to partner with such iconic brand. In my view, their focus on sourcing the best possible products and delivering the best experience for their passengers is unsurpassed.”
Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin is available to drink on board all economy flights under 4 hours from 1st May. Served with a Schweppes 1783 and slice of lemon over ice, it will be offered as BA’s premium G&T serve on board for the remainder of their Centenary.
Passengers will also be able to buy the Centenary Gin as part of a limited-edition triple ‘Gin Flight’ miniature gift pack, sold on board on all long haul and non-EU flights through the High Life Shop.
British Airways will be releasing a series of ‘centenary editions’ in partnership with British brands during its milestone year. Jude Winstanley, British Airways’ Head of Ground Products, said: “We have searched the length of the country to find some of the best British brands to partner with for our centenary. We are delighted these limited-edition products will be available to customers on board this summer.”
Disclosure – I received a miniature to try and it is yummy. This is a collaborative post.
For my birthday a couple of years ago I was given a great book ‘Calm’ and a journal from my friends. To help me find some calm in my life and to de-stress a little. I have been writing in my journal everyday since and on Wednesday’s (or late on a Tuesday) I go through the daily highlights I’ve written down and pick out my 10 favourites.
It’s been a busy week. We’ve done lots of nice things and I’ve been pretty positive and managed to get a lot of jobs sorted out but my anxiety is through the roof at the moment.
Here are my top ten moments from the last week:
1 – In desperation to not go to bed L set up a mini photo shoot with all is toys. It was the cutest thing and he took some good pictures. It was really sweet, if a bit frustrating at the time.
2- L had another dress down day at school and was so excited to go we actually left early enough to get a quick walk through the fields. It was a great way for me to start the day.
3 – Husb went to the pub after work on Friday so L and I dropped him off in our jammies. It was quite excited for L getting to go in the car in his pj’s. It worked out nicely for me too as he had to walk home past the chinese, happy days!
4 – L and cuddled up on the sofa Saturday morning and caught up with some of the highlights from the TT. I love that he’s starting to enjoy watching the racing as it’s something we can share together and with a racetrack so close to us it’s a good day out.
5- We had our carport removed on Sunday ready for the extension. Things are really happening now and it feels good to making some physical steps forward, ones that I can actually see.
6 – L and I had a happy morning making slime. The perfect way to keep him busy and out of the way of the guys taking the carport down. It’s unusual I can offer him anything fun enough to distract him from building work!
7 – We had a lovely time at a birthday party for some of L’s friends. It took him a while to warm up and get into it but in the end he had a fabulous time.
8 – We had our annual trip to Open Farm Sunday. I love it and our local farm makes a massive deal out of it. We had a lovely look round at all the farm equipment, had a go on the tombola, bought some pasties, saw the animals, grabbed some free milk, yogurts and even an umbrella! It was generally a lovely afternoon.
9 – As if an afternoon at the farm wasn’t enough L got ot catch up with his best friend, see some old friends from his nursery and even caught up with some school friends who hadn’t been at the party earlier that day. Not like his mum at all that one, he’s a right social butterfly!
10 – Our builder came over for a meeting to discuss a few final bits. We signed contracts and settled on a start date of 24th June!! It’s happening and I can’t quite believe it.
I’m really glad I write down a few positives from each day and then go back through them each week. It helps keep me focused, calm and therefore happy. It is also a great way to keep a note of the things we’ve done.
I’m linking up with #BloggerClubUK just because I love them.
ttec’s Bubbles Kids On-Ear Headphones are a perfect present for kids ahead of the summer holidays and I’ve got a pair to giveaway.
With a built-in volume limiter and maximum sound isolation, the headphones are designed to completely envelope the ear for comfort and ensure children are listening safely. An easily adjustable headband and soft ear cushions, mean the headphones are lightweight and comfortable to be used for longer periods of time. ttec’s Bubbles kids headphones come with a 5-year warranty.
Over the last couple of years we’ve tried plenty of ways to keep the kid entertained on long journeys and a fail safe is always his tablet, but I don’t want to hear it in the background and I’m certain no one else does! On the flip side, he does actually want to be able to listen to what he’s doing.
We’ve tried various headsets, stretchy headbands weren’t a hit, but a comfortable pair of wired headphones has really does the trick. I love the bright colours of the ttec’s Bubbles and the fact they have a volume limiter is brilliant!
You could win a headset for yourself by entering my competition.
Not a lucky winner? Find out more about the ttec Bubbles Kids On-Ear Headphones and buy at www.amazon.co.uk
To enter simply enter your details into the Gleam app below.
One of Norfolk’s leading family attractions, Amazona Zoo in Cromer, is giving dads a special treat with a free entry ticket on Father’s Day (Sunday 16th June 2019) to celebrate their special day with their family.
Amazona Zoo is a great day out where families can learn about a varied and fascinating selection of animals native to South America. Home to over 200 tropical animals, including jaguars, pumas, ocelots, monkeys, snakes, caimans, flamingos, tapirs and Tic-Tac the toucan, the zoo is committed to helping visitors discover nature and providing education on conservation issues set within 15 acres on the north Norfolk coast.
Amazona Zoo, Cromer 2018. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.
As well as the wide variety of animals, the zoo also has a well-equipped indoor play area Jungle Tumbles, and an extensive outdoor area Rainforest Springs where children can play on the two large outdoor jumping pillows and discover the tarantula spider house and a cute South American guinea pig village.
A lakeside café, which is open from 10.30am, provides a wide range of hot and cold snacks, meals and drinks. The well-stocked gift shop sells a variety of toys, games, stationery, jewellery, confectionary and books, so you can treat your dad to a nice lunch and some gifts!
What Animals and Birds can you see?
There are at least four ‘feed the animal’ events a day, with jaguar and pumas on alternate days.
Four species of tarantulas in their Spider House
South American guinea pigs in the Guinea Pig Village
A Toucan called Tic-Tac
Feline Forest – Pumas, Jaguar and Ocelot
Tropical House: Entering from the Capuchin walkway, visitors will encounter the Currasow and the Piping Guan. After the bridge, see the Spectacled Caiman and spot the Red-tailed Catfish or the Black Pacu. Follow the path into the shadows to find the Iguanas, the Anaconda and the Boa Constrictors.
South American Wildfowl: See native migratory species such as Greylag Geese and Mallard, as well as Chiloe Wigeon, Brazilian Teal, Coscoroba Swan and the iridescent Comb Duck.
Birds of Prey: Red-legged Seriema are South America’s nearest relation to birds, known in the rest of the world as cranes. Striated Caracara, also known as Johnny Rook, are found predominantly in the Falkland Islands and small islands off Tierra del Fuego. Once abundant in numbers there are approximately only 500 pairs left in the Falklands.
Capybara: This is the world’s largest rodent. It is an excellent swimmer, with eyes, nostrils and ears set in alignment across the top of the head.
Brazilian Tapir: One of the largest of three species to be found in South America, this one has the widest distribution. Its closest relatives are the rhinoceros and the horse.
Amazon Parrots, Macaws and a Toucan
Squirrel Monkeys: This small monkey of Central and South America lives in troops of up to 30-40 animals from mangrove swamps to 3,000 feet above sea level.
Geoffrey’s Spider Monkeys: This species is distributed throughout Central America, from Mexico to Panama.
Ring-tailed Coati & American River Otters
Marmosets Capuchin Monkeys
Mara: the Patagonian Hare
The Rhea: the greater Rhea is one of South America’s largest birds
Collared Peccary: Also known as the Javelina or the Musk Hog, this is the smallest of the peccary species.
Amazona Zoo, Cromer 2018. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.
For more information visit www.amazonazoo.co.uk, call 01263 510741 or follow @AmazonaZoo on twitter and AmazonaZoo on Facebook. #FathersGoFree
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post but I have received no payment, I am only sharing as I thought it may be of interest. I have worked with Amazona in the past.
Here’s the latest instalment in my series of posts all about what makes our lives here at home tick. This week is all about my plans for the Summer holidays, they are fast approaching and I’ve been starting to plan.
The first full week of the Summer Holidays L will be spending at Barracudas in Norwich. He went for a couple of days at Easter and is booked for four days over the summer.
It’s great for me as it means I can still go to work that week and it’s great for L too. He loved it at Easter and is looking forward to getting to do more this time round. He’s going with his best friend again so that will be a lot of fun.
Catching up with friends
It can be hard during term time to actually catch up with friends for any length of time.
After school time is limited as L is tired and we still need to eat and have a bath and do homework, so time is just genuinely pushed after school. Weekends are filled with birthday parties and family and plans, so I’m really looking forward to some days out with people.
Hopefully I’ll get to spend some time with my sister and have a catch up with my aunt who I rarely see. We’d love to go for lunch with L’s key worker from Nursery. Then there are all of L’s school friends, so there will certainly be day trips with them and maybe even his old nursery chums.
Everytime I look through our plans for the break I see a whole heap of annual leave being taken but no plans to actually go anywhere and I’d really like to.
I don’t know if it will happen or not. But I would really like to get away for a few days. Camping, a hotel, near or far I don’t care but I would like a little holiday this year.
I might just take L camping one night, just the two of us up near the coast or we might end up working out how to get away as a family, but this year is already half done and we haven’t got any holiday plans, we’ve only had a quick break in London. With everything that’s happened I could just do with a real break.
I’ve actually planned in some lazy days. Just to do nothing other than relax.
It’s nice meeting up with people and going on adventures but we are all exhausted and it’s good to have some down time.
If I’m honest though I’ve just really missed my son and I’ve struggled with the new dynamics school has bought. Whilst I’ve loved the routine and watching him blossom and learn, I’ve missed him. Plain and simple. So with 5 of the 6 weeks just being us two, I’ve made sure to block out some days to just enjoy the time together.
It won’t look like this for much longer
I can’t deny that having the building work done over the Summer Holidays is going to be a massive impact. We’ve already removed the carport and will be starting work on the 24th of this month.
If I’m honest I think the summer will be stressful, messy and quite likely push me to my limits.
L is super excited though, he can’t wait to see the diggers and watch the building work happen.
However much I didn’t want the building to be a feature of the summer break there is no denying that it will be the biggest part of our summer!
I’m linking up with #TwinklyTuesday and #StayClassyMama
I don’t have to pack a lunch for L yet, he gets free school meals because he’s still little. So when it came to sending him off to Barracudas Activity Day Camps over Easter I was thrown!
He needed enough for a full day, it needed to be tasty, filling and ok out of the fridge. Two snacks, at least, plus lunch. I dropped him off at 9am and didn’t have to pick him up until 4.30pm. That’s a lot of time and a lot of food. Not even taking into account all the running around they would be doing.
It had to be healthy too, a little treat was ok but I wanted him to actually eat well obviously. So I went for carrot sticks, fruit, wraps, a bit of cheese and other things he could pick at. I popped a Penguin Bar in as well as they were always my favourite lunchtime treat. It’s hard to get the balance right between healthy, fun and tasty.
I may have gone overboard
Thankfully Shaken Udder havd re-launched their Kids range of milkshakes with a delicious improved recipe which is tastier and smoother than ever and under 5% sugar. Perfect!
It comes in Chocolate and Strawberry flavours and it was a struggle to keep them in the house long enough for them to make it to his lunchbox. They are delicious and we’ve been fans of Shaken Udder for a while so everyone wanted them.
I found husb snaffling one from the cupboard and I’d had to try one as well obviously! Then there was the constant badgering from the child who seemed to sense them the moment he walked into the house.
They are Gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and have no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, importantly they’re also school approved as a lunchbox-friendly drink and can be stored out if the fridge, great for long days of playing.
I’d obviously sent L to camp with a massive bottle of water but I liked the idea of packing a milkshake as it’s a guaranteed win, he loves them, they’re quite filling in their own right, packed with lots of essential nutrients and vitamins including vitamin B12, a great source of calcium and protein, and, they are definitely, 100% a treat in the boy’s eyes. A major mummy win.
I’ve certainly learnt some lunch box lessons, things he likes and doesn’t, but I’ll for sure be packing more Shaken Udder Milkshakes when he returns this summer.
They do adult milkshakes as well, these are some I’ve had before, yummmmm
Disclosure – we were gifted some milkshakes in return for an honest review, all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.
I’m hoping I’m not the only parent to have found that adding Ketchup to seemingly any meal makes it so down far more easily!
I’m fully aware it’s not always the best choice though. I try hard to think about what I’m feeding L and keep it healthy as well as fun but it’s not always that easy.
The reduced sugar, more natural, no added salt options have a tendency to not taste as good, be far more expensive or just plain hard to find. I’ll be honest, I’m not going to traipse round multiple shops to get my groceries done.
Real Good Ketchup have found a way to help with a range of ketchup that has 100% natural ingredients, only using naturally-occurring sugars and has 78% less salt than regular ketchups.
It’s yummy too, actually tasting like tomatoes but still keeping that sweet hint that kids love. It’s so good it’s been school approved.
It comes in two flavours: original Real Good Tomato Ketchup and Smokey BBQ. Both have been a hit in our house, especially the Smokey BBQ. That went down a treat with the barbecue we enjoyed one sunny weekend, let’s hope there’s more of those to come.
It hasn’t just been barbecues though, it’s literally been popped in the fridge and used for all the meals I’d normally use ketchup on. Tonight the kid had mini chicken kievs, potato wedges and sweetcorn, with of course, a big dollop of ketchup. No guilt there and an empty plate, winner!
The kid is good with his food but often asks for ketchup, in fact he likes it on most meals, even a roast the heathen. I at least don’t have to feel bad about saying yes now and I can be more generous with his portion size, having the choice of flavours is helpful too.
Real Good Tomato Ketchup is available in a BPA free 100% recyclable easy squeeze bottle, RRP £2.20 for 315g and can be found in The Co-op Free From aisle, Morrisons Health & Wellness fixture and Wholefoods market.
The 285g Real Good Tomato and Smokey BBQ Ketchups in glass bottles are exclusively available from Ocado, RRP £2.49.
Well that’s one week of the final half term of school done and dusted, only five weeks of school left. If you’re a working parent like me you’ll already be planning for the long six week break of summer.
I’m ridiculously lucky at my work and have been able to book most of the break off as annual leave. I’ve had to rope the inlaws in for a few days and obviously my husband can take time off as well. However, despite that I’ve still had one week left to cover and only having one week makes me one of the lucky ones! Most of my friends are at their wits end trying to make it all work.
It’s not only physically being present for the kid either. It’s trying to make sure he has some fun and fun can be flipping expensive!
I think got we’ve two days of fun arranged so far but that’s it. Thanks to the building work we’ll be having done the garden and lazy pajama days aren’t going to be the easy fix they’d normally be either.
For myself and my friend, whose son goes with L, it’s been a real gamechanger. Barracudas Activity Day Camps are open for work friendly hours, unlike a lot of other groups and sessions local to us. So not only have we been able to save our annual leave we’ve not had to mess around changing when we start and finish. In my case I’ve actually been able to pick up some overtime as well so I’m actually making money by being able to send him.
Mainly though, I just know he’s having the best time. He’ll be running and playing all day long, he loved the bouncy castle time and adored the electric Go Karts. The foam fencing was another big hit, not to mention getting to hang out with his bestie all day long with no annoying parents around and getting to make new friends. This will be a week’s worth of fun I wouldn’t be able to get for him anywhere else.
I’ve been recommending Barracudas to anyone who’ll listen to me, it’s great for the children and parents alike and has taken away so much stress from my summer plans it’s unreal. Just knowing I’ve got it all covered is amazing.
Top 5 reasons it’s perfect for parents
Run times, a standard day is 8.30am to 5.30 pm with the ability to extend those sessions if needed.
Flexibility, you can book a few days, a full week or a selection of days over the holidays. It’s entirely up to you.
Peace of mind, the staff are all lovely and have all necessary checks and qualifications. The camps are all Ofsted rated as well so you can easily check your camp’s score.
Getting to hear all about their day! It’s the best thing picking them up and seeing the happiness and finding out everything they got up to.
Value for money, with prices starting at £36 a day you get excellent care, for a full day, activities that cost well in excess of that and happy, happy children.
Top 5 reasons it’s perfect for kids
Brilliant range of activities, with over 80 different things to choose from and well organised sessions there’s not a chance they’ll get bored.
Theme days at the end of each week are really good fun and something to look forward to.
Time away from mum and dad, I’m sure it’s his favourite part, feeling grown up and hanging out with his mates doing fun stuff without me.
Making new friends. I’m still really pleased L gets to go with his best mate as it stops a lot of the nerves but he made so many little friends over Easter I know he’ll do the same this summer.
Billy Barracuda! Enough said really. Billy is the perfect mascot and seems to get into a lot of mischief with the kids.
If you want to know more about Barracudas and how I’m working with them you can read my other posts or head to their website.