A Mothers Ramblings: June 2011

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Recycling on the go - 1000 Bin Challenge

Sometimes you meet someone who changes your life for the better. For me that person was Karen from The Rubbish Diet. Karen was the one that made me feel better about myself by encouraging me to slim my bin down and recycle more and was only a tweet away to help me if I had any issues. Anyway, the other week it was announced in The Observer (What? I read it occasionally!) that "Karen of Bury St Edmunds embarrasses her kids by taking photos of municipal trash cans" and I had a sneaky suspicion that I knew what this was about!

What better way to promote recycling on the go than by taking photos of recycling bins across the country? So  the 1000 bins challenge was created... and Big Boy and I had to join in when we were out shopping this week.

1000 Bins - Big Boy doing some recycling in Central Milton Keynes

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

M&M World London - Wordless Wednesday

M&M's World in Leicester Square London where Top Ender and Big Boy went with us

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Top Ender Giggles - Memory of a Goldfish Part 2

On Fathers Day, we took our annual pilgrimage to Margate to watch the Air show that is part of the Margate Big Event. We tend to do this every year unless the weather man tells us that it is going to be super wet and the planes that we want to see won't fly. All was going well as we set up camp on the beach with some hired wind breakers and the children set to work creating sand castles and digging a big hole.
Sandcastles on the beach

About an hour after we had set up camp, Daddy looked down the beach and saw a rather ominous looking black cloud progressing towards us. We had two options; We could ride out what we hoped would be a short shower (but knew was going to be much heavier and longer) or we could leave our camp to find shelter in the town.

We decided to try to ride the storm out.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Big Boy Giggles - He's not the next Dr Doolittle then

Daddy and Big Boy were in the living room early one morning and Moses (one of our cats) was being very generous and was letting Big Boy stroke him. Making the most of the opportunity, Daddy wanted to encourage Big Boy to understand that stroking that cat was good as it was showing Moses that we loved him. It was at this point Moses started to raise his head to get under his chin scratched and Daddy said to Big Boy;

"Look, Moses is saying Hello to you! Say Hello, to Big Boy Moses."

There was a pause as Big Boy looked at Moses and then at Daddy

"Cats don't talk Daddy." he answered slowly.

Looks like Big Boy is smarter than we thought.

Big Boy looking cute

Friday, 24 June 2011

Making Chores Fun - The School Run

There is one chore that Big Boy and I tend to do five times a week, 39 weeks a year and so it can get a little repetitive. Just like tidying the garden, this is an outdoor chore and one which we even set up a Twitter account to remind us to go and do every day. I am of course talking about the School Run and if you want a reminder (or four) to do the School Run you can follow the Twitter account at School Run UK.

So what do we do to make sure that our walk to and from school each afternoon is exciting and fun? Well, lots of things. We might pretend to be Airplanes and walk up the road with our arms outstretched making Airplane noises or we might see how far we can hop! On bin day we love to use the green bins to read numbers out loud but our favourite way to make the school run fun is to spot shapes on our walk.

A SquareA Circle
A TriangleA Rectangle

It's amazing what you can see on a short walk. On our walk (the time that we took our camera) we saw a square, a circle, a triangle and a rectangle. What amazes me more is the ease at which Big Boy can name these shapes (and many others), how he is the one that spots them and how excited he is when he finds a new shape on his list. And just because I can, here is a quick video of Big Boy talking about the shapes he found.

Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/ApidtaWzRmc

Do you have as much fun as we do on a School Run?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

100 Free Things To Do in the Summer Holidays

With the Summer Holidays fast approaching we are going to need to find hundreds of things to do that will keep all the family happy and mean we don't dread the summer holidays coming! For a lot of us that includes things that are free to do or are near free and if we can factor the cost in to our weekly shop all the better. So here is a list of 100 free or near free things to do that we have tried and tested and all have been given the seal of approval as a great way to have fun and to beat the holiday boredom!

1. Go to the Park. If it's raining then put on coats and wellies and enjoy the empty park!
2. Check out your local Councils events. They normally have events planned that are free.
3. Go for a walk. It doesn't matter when you live just go for a walk!
4. Go for a picnic. If you are having sandwiches for lunch put them in a bag and off you go.
Having a Picnic

5. Go to your library. Libraries are free to join, they normally have events planned in the holidays too.
6. Go to the garden centre. Take a look at all the plants, and tools and Fish.
7. Feed the ducks. Don't feed them mouldy bread, but stale bread is fine.
8. Colouring. There is nothing wrong with crayons and paper from pound shops if you haven't got any.
9. Bike ride. If you own a bike then go for a ride, just wear the right safety equipment.
10. Chalk games. If it's in your own garden leave it for rain, or just brush it away at end of day.
11. Water fight. Take old soda bottles fill them and use as water guns.
12. Gardening. Just a few minutes work makes a big difference, pull weeds or dig over an area.
A tidy garden

13. Play with kids in the street. They are all looking for something to do too.
14. Scavenger hunt. With a list of things you need to find ask neighbours to load items to you.
15. Window shopping. Walk around shops looking at all the things that you could buy.
16. Make something new out of something old. Turn a old sweater into a pillow, jeans in to shorts etc.
17. Play restaurants. Set the table, make a menu and pretend to be servers and customers
18. Play shops. Use the things in your home, make a shop and sell things
19. Make a museum. First shoes, first curl, fossil from the garden, ancient writings...
20. Make an art gallery. Make up some art work, hang them all a room and invite everyone to visit
21. Go to a museum. See what a real museum has in it.
22. Got to an art gallery. See what a real art gallery has in it
23. Go for a ride on the bus. Sit upstairs, or the back and enjoy the ride
24. Explore a part of town you haven't been to before. Find a new park, or a specialist shop.
25. Have a sports day. Race against each other with home made medals for the winners.

An Egg and Spoon Race

26. Make a calender. It could be for summer or for the next year for Christmas gifts
27. Do some finger painting (and toes). Make flowers, or see who has biggest feet!
28. Watch a film. Spend time together watching a new or a favourite movie
29. Make up a dance routine. The summer hit or a favourite song!
30. Invent a new game. Maybe it involves rolling a dice and moving backwards!
31. Develop your psychic powers. See if you can guess what someone else is thinking of.
32. Learn a new skill (juggle anyone). There is always something new to learn.
33. Talk to a fisherman and see what he has caught. Had he had any luck? What can you learn about fish?
34. Imagination game. Pretend you are at the Zoo, or a tropical island...
35. Try to break a record. Tallest tower, longest jump, most skips...
36. Write a story. All contribute and write a story together.
37. Put on a play. Write it, rehearse and put it on for friends and family or film it.
38. Put on a concert. Practice, and put it on for friends and family.

39. Create a toy zoo. Use stuffed animals to make a zoo to visit.
40. Clean out your toys. Give old toys to others, fix broken toys give to a charity shop or women's shelter
41. Look for a four leaf clover. There has to be one somewhere right?
42. Go on a hunt for the end of a rainbow. There is going to be gold at the bottom!
43. See if you can make it rain (or sunny) by doing a rain dance.
44. Play memory games. I went to the shops or something missing.
45. Do a survey. How many people walk past your house, how many red cars in your street?
46. Draw a map. Put landmarks on, and show your home and end destination.
47. Camp in the garden. Make a den and have a nap in the garden.
48. Recreate an old photo. Pretend to be you when you were a baby or your parents.
49. Teach a skill to someone. Can you do something that nobody else can?
50. Do a service project. Maybe clean up the park or a local project.
51. Make something from rubbish. A robot, a game.

A Home Made Game, made from Rubbish!

52. Clean a car. Yours or a neighbours.
53. Offer to help a neighbour. Tidy garden, do some shopping, clean out garage/shed
54. Go bird watching. How many can you see?
55. Go on a bug hunt. What can you find?
56. Go on a butterfly hunt. How many different types can you identify?
57. Have a BBQ. Cheap BBQ from pound shop and cook some sausages and marshmallows.
58. Make Dinner. From a cookbook, from start to finish.
59. Make musical instruments. Shakers with rice, comb and paper, drums from pots and pans.
60. Make pasta necklaces/bracelets. Cheap pasta and then paint after.
61. Look for patterns in the cloud. Who can find a rabbit in a hole?
62. Have a Backwards day. wear clothes backwards, have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Eat pudding first!
63. Do some arts and crafts. Use up old things laing around, half a pack or beads etc make a picture
64. Make a daisy chain. Make several!

PippaD wearing a daisy chain

65. Make a nature scene (grass, leaves etc). Go on a nature walk first to find them.
66. Make a big picture use magazines etc. busy street or similar.
67. Write a letter. To your friend, or family or to yourself.
68. Blow bubbles. Who can blow the biggest?
69. Be a nature detective. Look for things from list.
70. Search for star constellations. Stay up late and learn which stars are which.

The sky at night

71. Take a dog for a walk. Take to the park and have a run. Throw a ball etc.
72. Get boxes from supermarket and make them in to cars/boats/planes
73. Make puppets from socks. paper eyes or felt or scraps of material.
74. Put on a puppet show. With your socks!
75. Mini golf set. Make a small course and see who can do it in best time, least hits etc
76. Play blow football. a couple of straws and a paper ball see who can score a goal.
77. Play skipping games. Can you do double dutch? make up a skip rhyme.
78. Design and run an obstacle course. time yourselves see if you can get faster by end of holidays
Big Boy on an obstacle course

79. Make a newspaper. Use news from your street, neighbours birthday, cat had kittens etc.
80. Make your own salt dough and sculptures and then pain them.
81. Check newspaper for offers at local attractions such as the Zoo and go for the day.
82. Make a scrapbook. Ticket stubs, pressed flowers, biscuit wrapper.
83. Play football or basket ball or netball. One ball so many games.
84. Play Rounders (use empty pop bottle or balled socks) who's team will win?
85. Learn some Magic Tricks. Card games, slight of hand.
86. Play Card Games. Snap, 21, bridge.
87. Do leaf and tree bark rubbing's. Can you find faces in trees? See the parts of a leaf
88. Press flowers. Learn the Latin and common names and make a book.
89. Climb a tree. Or learn to climb a tree.

A Mothers Ramblings Sitting on a Tree

90. Put pictures in a photo album. They always need doing. Write when and who in pictures
91. Play Bargain hunt in Charity shops. Who can find best bargain. Can be no spend if just looking.
92. Visit a Toy Shop and play with the toys on display. It's fun and free.
93. Make a jigsaw puzzle. Cut up a cereal box picture or a photo
94. Make a time capsule. What would you put in it. bury it in the garden.
95. Pretend travel the world. Have a meal from different parts of the world, pretend to visit the sites.
96. Do a marathon (over several days). Walk a mile a day and add it all up.
97. Make a pinata. Decorate it, fill it and then smash it!
98. Create a secret club. Handshake and secret hideout.
99. Play games with balloons, ball, tag, make them into animals, sing a song about them...

Top Ender and Big Boy with Balloons

100. Do the housework - chores can be fun!

So that is my list of 100 free things to do in the holidays, or at weekends, or after school or even when you should be at school! Oh and I just thought of another free thing to do that will keep everyone busy, keep them thinking and happy...

101. Make a list of things to do that you have thought of!

What are you planning to do this Summer Holiday?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

3 Word Gallery - The Gallery

That Tara Cain is a tricky one she is. This week for the gallery she wanted us to come up with just three words. You know to sum up our picture. So not only do we have to take a fab picture (well if we want to join in) but we have to have three words to describe the situation or the photo. Right now Tara's three words to me are "Shut Up Pippa" or possibly "Stop Complaining Pippa" or maybe even a few rude words that I wouldn't possibly know how to type seeing as how sweet and innocent I am...

Anyway. I decided to use a photo from Fathers Day when the whole family drove down to Margate to watch the airshow that is part of the Big Event that they have every Fathers Day weekend. It was a beautiful sunny day and we set up camp on the beach when this happened.

Typical British Summer.

Typical British Summer

Go see what everyone else linked up with this week, it's always fun!

The Gallery logo

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sandcastle Decorations - Wordless Wednesday

Sandcastles with home made flags

How not to dread the Summer Holidays

The Summer holidays are one of those times that can fill parents with dread. I think that most families are pleased to be able to spend more time together, but at the same time are worried that the School holidays are going to cost an arm and a leg and the carefully planned summer holiday budget is going to be thrown out of the window by the end of the first week! With this in mind I have spoken to parents in the school playground (and on Twitter and Facebook), Grandparents and a selection of  Teachers. All of them have given some fantastic ideas about how not to dread the Summer Holidays, how to make the break a great time to spend together as a family and to make some great memories. And all this whilst not going over your own personal family fun time budget!
A Family Photo of A Mothers Ramblings

The first tip is to plan early. At the moment the start of the Summer holidays for most of us here in the UK is about five weeks away, but if we can plan now we can make sure that we have some great activities planned and childcare for the entire holiday period. With this in mind try to schedule the big events you have planned so that they don't happen on consecutive days (if at all possible) and try to keep the things your family think of as "best" towards the middle end of the summer holidays, this way there is something to look forward to and also enough time to wind down again afterwards! Also if you know that you can only budget for one trip to a theme park and one trip to a local farm and tell your family when these trips are there is less pressure on you to find money for extra days out. Remember too that it is possible to have Family fun days out on a budget.

Of course it doesn't have to be big days out in the Summer Holidays that you plan in advance that your children  will look forward to. If you try to plan with friends and family, (not just your friends but also the friends of your children) you could have a whole Summer of fun planned. It might be that you arrange for your children to go to a friend's house for the day and then the next week you have them over to yours or it might be that your children would like to go and spend a couple of days with their Grandparents or their Aunt and Uncle's house. This share of childcare will allow you some time to yourself and allow your children to not get bored of your company! You could always take this a step further and decide to have a series of Summer Fun days and ask friends if they would like to join in. This way you could arrange to share cost of hire of bouncy castle, or a Children's entertainer, or the private hire of a swimming pool. This way you can have several fun days planned across the holiday for only part of the cost each time. If you also plan to have one at each friends house, you only have to clean up once too!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Colgate, The Dentist and the worst Mother ever.

Colgate sent me some products, turns out I really needed them.

I like going to the Dentists. Well, when I can afford it I like going to the Dentists. I worked a couple of summers as a Dental Assistant and learnt so much about teeth, cleaning them, repairing them, how to use that sucky thingy that really hurts if you get it caught on your tongue and just what those numbers and letters mean when they call them out (it's just a shorthand way of referencing your teeth without having to say third one on the left on the top), so I like to think I know a bit about teeth. 
Then of course I was told by my dentist that I had good teeth and so I have always believed that. This is in stark contrast to my Sister (and 12% of the adult population) who has an extreme fear of the dentist  since a dentist accidentally drilled into her nerve when she was about ten.

Colgate know though that there are some times when going to the Dentist is a little confusing and so created the Healthy Mouth Challenge, where you can go and identify any areas of concern and help you feel like I do when I go to the dentist (eg already know what the problem is and the possible solution). The toothpaste they sent was the Colgate Total Advance toothpaste, which is actually Daddy's favourite toothpaste (mine is the Colgate sensitive whitening) and it protects your teeth for 12 hours from bacteria which is pretty smart. They also sent a Colgate 360 surround toothbrush which was great because I needed a new toothbrush and this one has bristles which clean both sides of the teeth at once and a cheek and tongue cleaner.

Colgate Toothpaste and Toothbrush

It was with a little surprise though that I looked at Big Boy's teeth the other day and realised that he has a cavity. My son is three years old and has a hole in his tooth. I was shocked. I mean yes, I had a filling in a tooth when I was five or six but that was different he is three years old! All of a sudden that information that Colgate sent me about 40% of children suffering from tooth decay in their baby teeth by the time they are five came flooding back. We are part of that 40% now. We are a statistic.

Big Boys Big Cavity

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Silent Sunday

Two Snails going in opposite directions. Just like them I don't know which way is up this week!

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sainsbury's Feed your Family for £50

We received a £50 weekly shop from Sainsbury's to try out the meal plan.

When Sainsbury's asked if I would like to try a weeks worth of shopping from them as part of their Feed your family for £50 idea, I agreed because who doesn't like free shopping? Plus I was really interested to see just what they were going to send and how much of it we would (or could) eat.

My normal weekly shopping budget for food, cat food, toiletries, personal hygiene products, cleaning products, and what ever else I have forgotten is between £50 and £80. I'm not someone who has to have all brand labelled food and in order to make my budget work for me I have no qualms about shopping in a budget supermarket, or stocking up when something is on a good offer, but if I was shopping week to week instead of month on month (I might buy six cans of beans one week when I will only use one that week, but will use two the next week for example) then getting my food shop under £50 was something I was interested in.
Some of the Cold Stuff from the Sainsbury's delivery

The food arrived on a Thursday night and boy was there a lot of food. My fridge was full, my freezer was full and even my cupboards suddenly found themselves stuffed. We had the ingredients for week two which looking through was fairly normal with just a few ingredients that we hadn't had as a family before... I had already prepared Top Ender that she had to try all the new foods and Big Boy eats just about anything so I thought we might be okay.

As the meals for the next day were already planned we decided to start the week on the Saturday. I found the breakfast strange for a Saturday as to me mushrooms, fried bread, sausages and tomatoes does not make a Saturday breakfast, or a healthy breakfast either! This was a huge breakfast and much more suitable to a Sunday morning, but we pushed ahead, with a couple of additions of beans and scrambled egg (which were already in the fridge) for those who don't like tomatoes and mushrooms.

Some of the Fruit and Veggies from the Sainsbury's shop

It seemed that large meals were going to be the theme of the week as I found most of the dishes to make far too much for a family of four and ended up freezing the extra portions for a pot luck night at the end of the month. Even when it said things like use your biggest saucepan, I still found myself having to get another pan out of the cupboard to put some of the dinner into in order to cook it properly and found myself using my common sense over the quantities of ingredients the recipes were suggesting as 100g of rice per person as suggested in one recipe is way too much when 50 -75g would do most adults as part of a main meal.

Now it's fantastic that Sainsbury's are trying their best to help families get the most out of their weekly shop, and if you want to follow the meal plan for a particular week you will find all the food for meals coming out at under £50. You won't find that this includes things like puddings, drinks and snacks, but then the meals are quite big so you might find you don't need snacks or puddings and you might want to drink water instead of  a cup of tea or a glass of your favourite beverage...

Yet more from the Sainsbury's shop

There were a few things that annoyed me about the plan. Some of the dishes aren't suitable for packed lunches (really you expect me to send Tops to school with a salmon sandwich that was prepared at 7am and left in a lunch box in a cloakroom until she eats lunch five hours later?) and of course if like us you have someone who can't eat cheaper products because they are bulked out with wheat (such as sausages) then it will cost more... a lot more. Searching through Sainsbury's (I figured it had best be the same Supermarket for the additional purchases) for wheat free alternatives for Daddy to eat added an additional £18 to the weekly shop and that was before I added a couple of bottles of squash and fruit juice and the items the meal plan assumes I had in my stock cupboard!

Some things Daddy can't eat from the Sainsbury's shopSome more things Daddy can't eat from the Sainsbury's shop

Then when I went to write this post I went back to the Sainsbury's website to read through the information again and I saw this;

Screen shot from Sainsbury's website that annoyed me

See that bit about previous meals plans "...they’re no longer part of the £50 offer, so we can’t guarantee they’ll come in under this price". This annoyed me no end, yes I know that it is up to the supermarket what they put on offer and when, but how about making the meal plan cost £50 no matter when you buy it? Surely that would help out the average family (and therefore profits) as more families started shopping on a more regular basis at Sainsbury's?

Overall though I think this is a good thing, the recipes are interesting, easily adapted for dietary requirements and could easily be scaled down (or up if needs be) to suit the needs of your own family. We discovered that Top Ender likes rice, that Big Boy likes Hummus and that if we want to take a risk now and again with a new dish for dinner as long as we tell Top Ender that it is an experiment for the blog that she will willing try the meal!

Friday, 17 June 2011

On A Stick - A Review

I received a copy of the book On a Stick to review.

When Daddy and I were getting married there was only one thing that Daddy insisted on having at our evening reception and that was cheese and pineapple on sticks. You see Daddy, like me, knows that all food tastes better on a stick. When I saw the blurb for the book in my email, I had to ask if I could have a copy because I know a few stick dishes, but this book promised eighty recipes and that is a lot of meals and snacks on sticks.
On a Stick promotional shot

As is normal these days when a cookery book comes into the house, both Top Ender and Big Boy have a read through of the book and start pointing out dishes that they would like to have and make. In fact the pictures in this book made the food look so tasty that it wasn't just Top Ender and Big Boy who went through this book, but Daddy too and so even though we had already been shopping we all made our shopping lists for the ingredients we would need and headed off to the local supermarket.

We made corndogs and spiral chips and breaded mushrooms (all funnily enough on sticks) and served them for everyone to enjoy as a treat dinner.

Corn Dog and Spiral Chips on a stickMushrooms on a stick

I finally had a corn dog after years of reading about them in books and seeing them in films, everyone enjoyed them and as they were naturally gluten free even Daddy thought they were a nice once in a while treat (deep fried isn't a regular treat now is it?!). The spiral chips are something I would do again for special occasions or just as a special treat for Big Boy and Top Ender, as they took seconds to prepare using a tool I got with my Mandolin Slicer a few years back. The breaded mushrooms were fantastic and were something that Daddy has really missed since being on a gluten and wheat free diet and the recipe worked really well with the gluten free ingredients, so well that Daddy has made the mushrooms a few times since!

Yes, there are some recipes in the book that really shouldn't be on sticks, (I for one will not make meatballs and spaghetti on a stick) but the number of other recipes that caught my eye mean this quirky book isn't one to pass up the chance of getting. With easy to follow recipes and methods and great pictures this is a great book to get for the foodies that you know.

The book has an RRP of £10.99 is written by Matt Armendariz who is well known in the Food Blogging circles (Come on even I knew who he was!) and is published by Quirk Books.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Last Word Meme

Over at Him, Me & Three Heidi decided to tag me in a meme that she received in her email as she thought it would be fun. You know what? She's right! So I present to you The Last Word Meme...

The last -

Thing you ate - That would be my dinner which was Sausage pie and some Mac and Cheese from Amy's Kitchen. It was yummy and rather good for my tummy!

Sausage Pie

Text message you received - From Daddy, telling me that he wasn't dead just busy!
Film you watched - That would be Paul!
Song you listened to - Miss Mouse song from Show Me Show Me as Big Boy sang it to me.
Book you read - Friends, Lovers And Other Indiscretions by Fiona Neill
Programme you watched on TV - I'm just watching it now it's Lie To Me.
Live concert or performance - Top Ender's concert!
You cried - Today, my knee was really hurting. 

Thing you bought - A new head for Big Boy and Top Ender. Don't ask.
Thing you lost - My wallet on Saturday gone, turns out it was in the car all along.
Gift you gave - I left a little gift for Daddy on his phone.
Great bargain - Dinner out at Red Hot World Buffet the other day.

Red Hot World Buffet

Time you said "I love you" - About two seconds ago to my husband!
Time you were starstruck - Erm two weeks today when I meet Keith Allen, yes I am predicting this...
Holiday you went on - When I went to The MAD's last year!
Website you looked at - Other than my fantastic blog and that of Him, Me & Three? Well that would be the list of Mummy Bloggers at Tots 100 and I was at Glowstars and Who's the Mummy? tonight too.
Bit of good advice you received – who was it from? - "Go to bed soon" from Daddy.
Admired someone and why - There are so many people that I admire, but I am going to show my religious side again and say President Thomas S.Monson because I was reading through the talks from the 181st Annual General Conference earlier today and I was just so Molly Mormon about it all.

So who to tag? Lets go with....

The Mermaids Tail, Leicester Square - A Review

When we were in London for The Leapfrog Short Film Festival Final, we decided to hang about in London for a few hours that evening to enjoy the sunshine and to have a meal out together, something which we hadn't done since February (you know when Big Boy got his face pushed into a chocolate cake). We knew that Leicester Square was a short walk from Covent Garden and so decided that as we knew there were a few restaurants around the outside of the square we would head down there. We were undecided about going to The Mermaids Tail or one of the chain restaurants and it was only when we were in a queue for Chiquito's we decided that we would rather try The Mermaids Tail.

We were seated quickly and the restaurant wasn't busy, but had a healthy number of tables with people sitting at them. We ordered our drinks quite quickly, with a glass of squash for Big Boy and Top Ender and lemonade for Daddy and I (we do drink other drinks when we go out!) and had plenty of time to look at the menu. There was a second menu on the table which was a Two for One specials menu. Daddy and I decided to order a huge 16oz rump steak from this specials menu which meant that instead of costing £16 each it was only going to cost £8 each, this was a BIG bargain (and now you know why we thought the meals at Frankie and Benny's a week later were so expensive!). 

The Mermaids Tail 160z Rump Steak

As the steak didn't come with anything, we decided to order a side portion of fries (I don't think Daddy or I realised just how big a 16oz steak is!), but as we hadn't really eaten anything during the day we figured that we could gorge ourselves without worrying too much about it!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Dad - The Gallery

The Gallery theme this week is in honour of Fathers Day this Sunday and is therefore all about Dad's. I have so many pictures of Top Ender and Big Boy with their Daddy because he is a hands on father and I like keeping my camera in my pocket...

The Gallery logo

There are the pictures of the children sleeping on his chest when they were first born, pictures of him carrying them when they got tired, pictures of him playing with them, bathing them, changing a nappy, making them drinks, making them lunch, eating with them, creating pieces of art with them... all the things that hands on Dad's do.

Top Ender and Big Boy take after both of us, but I can see clearly the bits that they get from their Dad. They both have his eyes and they do look like him, especially when they are rolling their eyes at something silly I have done. To me and our children Daddy is everything a Dad should be and even though this isn't the best picture it's shows that Daddy isn't afraid to join in, to be the kind of Dad that he wants to be and that is why I love it.

Family Fun

I know that you will be reading this, so I just want to say on behalf of Top Ender and Big Boy (and for me too!) Thank you for being a brilliant Dad.

Something Silly - Wordless Wednesday

The Magic Tree from Something Silly

And if you want to know why this is something silly, just watch the video below, only 32 seconds but it's worth it!

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/fSrWuLa-E8s)

And yes, I know that this isn't wordless, but I would really appreciate if you could vote for A Mothers Ramblings (that's me here) in the Family Fun Section of the MAD Blog Awards (Mum and Dad Blog Awards).

Don't forget to leave a comment after you link up!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Red Hot World Buffet - A Review

What do you do when you have decided to go out for dinner, but nobody can decide on what type of meal to have? Well, if you live in Milton Keynes or the surrounding area it's quite simple you pop along to Red Hot World Buffet in the theatre district which serves Indian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and then everyone is happy!

Red Hot World Buffet

We had called ahead and placed a reservation for four, for later that evening as Daddy and I have been before and we knew that it could get busy at peak times. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation and the restaurant was quite quiet, which was quite good as my booking (and the couple in front of us) had been recorded down on the wrong day! We were seated within a few minutes after waiting at the desk where several employees were standing trying to ignore the queue forming as it wasn't their job to seat us... not a good start.

We barely had enough time to open the drinks menu before a waitress was with us to take our order, and she let us know that we could order a pitcher of a mocktail or of water if we wished, but knowing that Top Ender and Big Boy would be most happy with squash we ordered two squashes and two lemonades for Daddy and I without looking in the drinks menu. Whilst the waitress went to get our drinks we went up the the buffet to choose our food, and it was only then that we saw that other families had ordered things like fresh orange juice, or fruit shoots for their children so we knew that there were the usual favourite soft drinks available to order as well as a large selection of alcohol.

Red Hot World Buffet Instructions on a Table Mat

Monday, 13 June 2011

Frankie and Benny's - A Review

Vouchercodes.co.uk paid for our meal at Frankie and Benny's to do this review. Which was nice of them.

Going out to a restaurant with your family it is best to have a recommendation from someone else who has been there previously, which is why in part VoucherCodes.co.uk came up with the Most Wanted Fuss Free Dining Report. When they told us about the Fuss Free Dining Report, we loved the idea as it isn't just what parents think about the restaurant, but also what the children think and so after a short decision process (I read out the names of some restaurants and Daddy said Yes or No to going) we decided to go to Frankie and Benny's.

As long term readers of the blog will know, Daddy is a celiac and so going out to a restaurant with him takes a little extra planning, luckily though Frankie and Benny's have the full menu available to view on their website so before we went to the Milton Keynes restaurant we were able to check through and see what was on the menu and decide before hand what we wanted and what we thought would be gluten free. To double check though, when I called to book the table (always important as family friendly restaurants tend to get busy at peak times for Family dinner) I asked the waitress who answered for some help. This waitress was so helpful and friendly and went through the menu pointing out a few dishes that were gluten free naturally (ones that we had already picked out) and which could be adapted if we asked. The waitress did point out that as Frankie and Benny's make pasta and pizza in the kitchen that there was flour around and so there was a risk of cross-contamination but if we had a word with our server when we ordered our meal they would have a word with the kitchen to be extra careful.

Frankie and Benny's Review, pictures of food and at the restaurant

Friday, 10 June 2011

Fairy Family Fun Day at Hampton Court Palace

We got fed, and free car parking and a goody bag and I am sure something else but the best bit that we got from this day was spending time together as a Family.

During the half term Fairy invited Top Ender, Big Boy and I down to Hampton Court Palace for a Blogger sports day/ Mini Blogger Olympics, we were excited to go as I went to University just round the corner (St Mary's) and so for me it's my old stomping ground. Many a weekend was spent walking round Home Park and looking at the deer! We knew we were on for a good day when we arrived as we heard "Your Mum is cool because she blogs!" being called out to us from a rather excitable Junior Saunders who then also gave Tops and BB magic crayons (and you all call me crazy)!

The day involved, face painting (BB was a pumpkin, Tops was a Fairy), egg and spoon races and luckily for us some rather yummy food and if we had had the time, we could of gone round the house at the end of the day too. Unfortunately for us we had to get back home so that I could go to work and so that Daddy could come home from work!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Karaoke Song Meme

Carol at Dance Without Sleeping has tagged me in a karaoke song meme (I know it's something about the weather with all the meme's around at the minute) I was really pleased to be tagged in this one because I have the most perfect video to share with you all!

Now I love me a bit of Karaoke, and I have been to a few Karaoke nights in my past but this is the song that I would sing if you were to get me up say at Cybermummy...

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/fyI_iPFu1u4)

Now you don't have to sing your song, you can just link a video in if you want... but I am going to tag the following;

Karin from Cafe Bebe
Chrissie from Mediocre Mum
Sally from Who's The Mummy? and 

Making Chores Fun - Tidying the Garden

I'm a gardener who although likes to sit in a well manicured garden doesn't actually have any gardening skills... I'm not sure why but Big Boy and Top Ender love to try to help me and their gardening skills are even worse than mine. I can at least tell the difference (mostly) between a weed and a plant! Understandably Big Boy and I get bored rather quickly when its just him and I out in the garden and so making this chore fun isn't just a case of keeping him amused with small chores whilst I do the hard work, like when we do the washing it also needs to keep me happy too! 

The other week I decided that enough was enough and that I should get out into the front garden as it was having the opposite of kerb appeal to our house with a mass of weeds, dead plants and more than one pile of leaves from last Autumn...

A Tidy Front Garden

So how to make it interesting and fun for everyone? The first thing that I did was ask Baby Boy what jobs he wanted to do. He was quite interested in pulling out some weeds but more interested in chasing the leaves around the driveway and so that is what he did. With his mini broom he swept and swept the leaves whilst I timed myself to see how many weeds I could pull out in a set amount of time. It actually only took twenty minutes to make the front garden look a little more manicured and a little less erm not manicured...

The only thing that I guess we have to do now is to keep up the maintenance. Anyone got any tips on how to do that then?!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ten Things About Me - The Just Woken Up Version

I got tagged in a blog post (ages ago sorry and so decided to vlog my answers (again ages ago, like a whole month ago)... so erm watch this!

(Video can be found at http://youtu.be/2gLhpGfr5js)

I understand that there are going to be a few questions so here are the answers to the questions going through your head right now...

Yes, I am a little crazy. 
Yes, I am only wearing a Pyjama top in this video.
Yes, I did find it amusing to wave my middle finger at you for a little while.
Yes, I ramble.
Yes, I have no shame.

So tags to Emma, Vic, Sally, Jen, and the Mystery Blogger... Rachael! What you have to do is dead simple, just tell us ten things about you that we didn't already know and you can vlog it, sing it, write a poem or other stuff!

Family Fun - Wordless Wednesday

The Family having Fun on a Bouncy Castle!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Silent Sunday

Strictly No Digging

Silent Sunday

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lego Duplo Police Station - A Review

We were sent a Lego Duplo Police Station set to review as part of the Lego Duplo Experts programme we are part of.

When the Lego Duplo Police Station arrived, I am not sure who was more excited as Daddy's eyes lit up as much as Big Boy's did. I knew that the first chance they got that they would be busy building the station and the first morning that they were up early together they started building the station with Top Ender. The station itself has several ways to be built, it can be built as Daddy and Big Boy and Top Ender did or built as a tall tower, or in any way that you can imagine and you have enough bricks for!
Lego Duplo Police Station

Big Boy and Top Ender love Duplo, and they played with the set for ages creating different  imaginary worlds for the policemen and the thief to live in and it has led to some other role play games for Big Boy and I pretending to be policemen going about our investigations! The great thing about Lego Duplo is that it is sturdy stuff, it has taken some beatings from BB in the last few weeks and still looks as good as new and because it is made out of plastic I have no worries about throwing it in the sink to give it a wash when BB has got food all over the bricks!

The Lego Duplo Police Station Set is £49.99 and great fun!