A Strong Coffee

Monday, 22 September 2014

Zip Stix Challenge

zip-stix-review


Zip Stix have challenged bloggers to show off their stunts using Zip Stix. These pocket money toys are a bit like small slap bands and the idea is that you can use a launcher to perform stunts with and knock over objects. Unfortunately, I seem to have got old and lost the ability to operate such simple things. Luckily big man found it much easier than me with a little practice. Here he is showing how to use them.


They are a simple toy that my boys seem to like. There are 72 zip stix in total to collect. Just set up your stunt, place your zip stix in the launcher and press down on it to get it to roll up and fire.

zip-stix


I think these would make a great stocking filler with Christmas coming up. Big man recommends getting a pack which has cones in as he likes knocking these down.






We were given the Zip Stix pack for the purpose of this review but the opinions here are my own.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sponsored Video: Kellogg's Give a Child a Breakfast

This post has been sponsored by Kellogg's, but all thoughts are my own.

What are mornings like in your house? Weekday mornings in our house are hetic. Getting three boys fed, dressed and ready for school is easier said than done. My boys don't seem to want to stop eating after their long nights sleep. I find it shocking to learn that as many as 1 in 7 children in this country go to school hungry. How can a child concentrate and learn new things when they are so hungry? The simple answer is that they can't. Going to school hungry has a direct affect on a child's behaviour and concentration. This therefore adds to a teacher's workload making it harder for them to actually teach as they are having to manage behaviour first. (Trust me, I know, as I used to be a teacher.) It is believed that if a child arrives at school hungry just once a week, that equates to them losing 70% of a term over their Primary school education.

Kellogg's have introduced a new campaign "Breakfasts for Better Days" which means that you can help alleviate the problem of children going to school hungry. By purchasing a box of Kellogg's cereal, they will give a serving of cereal to a child in need. They will be helping school breakfast clubs and food banks such as those run by The Trussell Trust.



All you need to do to help is to look out for the "Help Give A Child Breakfast" branded packs of cereals and snacks in your supermarket. Not only will you be sending your children to school ready to learn, you will be helping less fortunate children have the same opportunity. What is your favourite Kellogg's cereal to give your children?

To find out more you can visit the Kellogg’s WebsiteFacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Christmas Grottos: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

It's that time of year again where Mother's like myself go practically insane worrying about where to book for their little ones to see Santa. It is ridiculous, the amount of hours I have put into looking into places in the past. I guess the problem is that we all want to make it special for ourselves as much as our little ones. The years when they actually believe in the magic are few and far between. Companies know this and you bet they will come up with every way possible to eek every last penny out of you. Is it worth the worry and stress? No. Is it worth researching the venue. Categorically yes. We have had some different experiences over the last few years so I thought it would be good to share the good the bad and the damn right ugly with you.

Big man was born in November 2007. He happily slept whilst being cuddled by a work colleagues of my OH by Santa. At one and two I hadn't even thought about a grotto visit. I was shocked when friends were booking grottos. We left it. Big man was none the wiser. I mean what 1 year old understands about Father Christmas?

At 3 I still wasn't into the idea. We took him to a garden centre where Santa sat in a shed. He was actually a really good Santa. He gave middle man a stocking even though we hadn't paid for him.The only problem was big man was scared of Santa. He stood there in awe unable to move. He looked so frightened in the photo they took we chose not to part with a tenner. I was actually kind of relieved that we hadn't spent lots of money on a grotto.

Then something happened. I had a third child and with it came guilt over everything. This is when I was obsessed that we must go to meet Santa even though I had quite literally just had a C-section. We chose The Watercress Line. It was nice in the fact that I could sit down. Father Christmas came through the carriages handing out presents. He needed reminding about little man. It was OK. Nothing fantastic. The boys liked it, so I suppose that is what counts.

Santa at The Watercress Line

The following year we went to Peppa Pig World. This was a lovely day. Mainly, because the park was quiet. The grotto part was fine. Lots of animated animals, but not really my thing. If you have a Peppa Pig fan and live in driving distance I would recommend this for a 3-4 year old. I just liked the pretty lights and Peppa style Santa that they put up. (Yep it doesn't take that much to please me!)

Winter wonderland at Peppa Pig World


Last year we had the very best and very worst of grottos. You can read my review on Lapland UK  as well as my top tips. You need to remortgage to go there, but if you can afford it then it is fantastic. Well if you are lucky with the weather and realistic with your expectations. It is a theatrical production where the actual meeting with Santa is just a very small part. We had a lovely time and thankfully I came away understanding why it cost so much, rather than thinking I had been ripped off.

Lapland UK


We then won some tickets to a brand new children's festival The Little Welly. We made the decision to not go and see Santa here just enjoy the festival. It was an eye opener on how a company can spin things to look good when actually they are a wash out. I have no doubt that the intentions of the organisers were to create a fantastic Christmas experience but with the wind and rain it was a muddy mess that had little atmosphere. So there is my take on the grottos I have been to. Are they worth it? Now that is a hard one. Children are believers for such a small amount of time.

So what is my advice to you?

Firstly do your research. Word of mouth tends to be the best recommendation. You may be worrying about where to go from September onwards, but your children won't. They will be happy whether they go to a winter wonderland or a garden centre.I you don't have. It is not worth spending money you don't have. Christmas is expensive enough as it is. Do you know what, I doubt your children will even care if they don't go. It is the pressure that we put on ourselves to be "perfect" parents that is the problem. Last but not least, be prepared that little ones won't be into the idea at all. Father Christmas actually commented on my top tips post saying that he had a sleeping baby surrounded by adults. Sometimes it is worth waiting.

So there is my take on grotto's. What is yours? Do you love or hate them? What is the best one you have been to?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake Kits

Turtle Power is back! With the The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film hitting UK cinemas on the 17th October, Green's Turtle-Tastic Cake kits are currently being launched in Asda.


TMNT cake kits

My boys love the teenage mutant ninja turtles and love cake so it was a great mix. The cakes come with everything you need, except an egg (and water.)

TMNT cake kit

Simply mix the cake mixture together with an egg and water and spoon into the green cases. 

child baking

Allow to cool before making up the icing. This icing is turtle green and strawberry flavoured. Then just add the rice paper eyes and mouth. I enjoyed making these as much as the kids. As it was a kit there was a lot less mess than usual!


decorating turtle cakes

These are good fun and my boys enjoyed them. Great for any teenage turtle fan or boys party.
Donatello cake




We were give 2 cake kits for the purpose of this review but the opinions here are our own.

Monday, 15 September 2014

You Could Win A Banger With Cadbury

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone.


Cadbury party game #shop #cbias

We love a competition in this house and love Cadbury chocolate. To celebrate their Win a Banger Competition, we decided to have a competition all of our own thanks to a #CollectiveBias campaign. There is no way that my boys are ever going to turn down a chance to have some chocolate and this party game is a winner. I headed off to Sainsbury's to gather my ingredients. Some squirty cream and Cadbury chocolate. I decided the Cadbury Twirl would work well. If you want to try the game too you will also need a blindfold.

Cadbury Chocolate at Sainsburys

The idea is simple. Make a cream "pie" with the squirty cream and add half a twirl to the middle.

Then blindfold your first competitor. Middle man was keen to have first go. Once blindfolded, a team mate directs them where to go to pick up the chocolate with just their mouth.

Cadbury choclate game

Big man was the winner he just dived in, middle man came a close second.

eating chocolate from cream

Little man was disqualified for refusing to wear the blindfold and then using his fingers.

picking out a twirl from cream

I may have slowed Daddy down a little by pushing the chocolate a bit deeper into the cream.

cream on face

In last place was me! It seem's I have trust issues and was worried that I was going to have my head dunked. (Possibly my own fault by being slightly evil to Daddy.)

playing a chocolate party game


We had lots of fun and it is a great party game. Maybe you could use it if you are planning Halloween party next month. The boys love it as at the end of the day everyone wins, as they get some tasty Cadbury chocolate.

If you love competitions too, with no purchase necessary, why not enter the Cadbury Win a Banger competition. The main prize is to take part in a rally to Barcelona, but there are thousands of other prizes to be won, including some yummy Cadbury chocloate. You could have a go at this game yourself. All you need to do to enter is to be over 18 and fill in your details. The hardest part is answering the question: which is your favourite bar? After a lot of deliberation I chose the Twirl, although I do love a Boost too.

Do you love a competition? Have you got any great ideas for kids party games that you can share?


Thursday, 11 September 2014

August Degustabox and Homemade Guacamole recipe

august degustabox

As you know if you are a regular reader, we enjoy having the food subscription box, Degustabox. I was a little disappointed this month that the courier had changed. This would have been problematic if we weren't in for delivery, but by luck we were so it was OK. I was happy, however, with the selection inside the box, including a new "Degustabox Fridge" Coupon. I had mixed feelings about this. I love the idea....but.....the coupon could only be redeemed at Sainsbury's or Waitrose and had a short expiry date. Making a special trip to find out it wasn't in stock would have annoyed me. A longer expiry date so I could put it in my wallet and use it when I passed a shop would have been better. As it turns out we managed to get the last packet of MOMA'S Wild Berry Bircher Museli. It was nice enough but expensive in my opinion.

Mexican Dave's Tortilla Chips: We had recieved a different flavour in a previous box so knew these would be good.

Berry White Organic Drink: Nice enough, but not something I would go out and buy.

Schartz Flavour Shots: Again different flavours of these have been in a previous Degustabox. I find these great for a quick dinner on a week night.

Fever Tree: I don't really drink ginger beer or tonic water so these aren't for me.

Lindt: I really liked that these chocolates were individually wrapped. I love Lindt chocolate so it was a winner.

Cawston Press: This kid's blend was really good. Not overly sweet. Little man wasn't as keen because of this but as a Mum that hates sugary kids drinks I think this just needs some time for him to get used too.

Brioche Pasquier: I am familiar with their brioches but these were pain au chocolat's and the au lait brioche. The boys enjoyed them.

Dr. Oetker: I thought that these edible wafer cupcakes were going to taste horrible. It is not something I would have purchased until now. They actually tasted good (like sweet rice paper) and they boys thought they were great.

If you would like to try Degustabox for yourself, I have a discount code CIFAW meaning that you recieve a £3 discount on your first order.




I have made my own salsa a number of times, but this was my first go at guacamole. it left me wondering why I had never tried it before. It is so easy to do and tastes amazing. Word of warning is that it is really rich so you won't want huge amounts of it.

For this I used:

2 small ripe avocados
Half a chili chopped
Half a clove of garlic
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
The juice of a small lime.

Scoop the flesh out of 2 ripe avocados and mash with a fork.

avacados


Finely chop the garlic and chili and mix into the avaoado

Squeeze the juice of a lime and mix.

Finely chop a handful of coriander and mix this in too.

corriander


This tastes great with Mexican Dave's tortilla chips and just as good in a fajita!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Middle Man Starts School #Powerofsoft

It seems only yesterday that I kissed big man goodbye, got into the car with my husband and headed to the hospital in a nervous but excited state ready to meet my gorgeous middle man.

Mum and newborn baby

I no longer remember the sleepless nights. Infact I don't remember much. Life has whizzed past. I blinked and middle man was starting preschool. Leaving me, off to explore, on his own. I am so glad that I wrote this on the eve of his third Birthday so that I can remember what he was like as he started pre school.

starting pre school


Blink again and today was the day that middle man started reception. School five days a week. How is that possible? My baby is at school. Little man is going to miss him terribly. They have become such good friends over the last few months. Middle man no longer sees little man as a baby, but as a playmate, because lets face it, little man is growing up so quickly too.

After a hilarious teacher home visit, I know that middle man will be just fine. He jumped out of bed full of beans this morning. He proudly told Daddy at the breakfast table that he was now a big boy and would be going to school to learn to be a vet and look after sick animals. I'm not sure that this is on the reception syllabus, but I do know that the school have 2 rabbits so hopefully he will get to see them soon.

starting reception

I will miss middle man being at home, but now it is time for him to go and make friends and learn. When you first have a newborn it feels as though the sleepless nights are endless, but blink twice and they are heading out to the big wide world one little foot at a time.

For now I need to savour the fact that he is happy to give me a kiss and cuddle at the gate. Fairy is helping to encourage Mums and Dads to make the most of those soft cuddles with their little ones while they can. I gave middle man a big cuddle when he went in this morning and I will most certainly be giving him an even bigger one when I pick him up at 3.15. Trust me there is a reason behind the saying time flys. It really does.

brothers walking to school


Here is a short video that Fairy have made showing just how precious those soft cuddles are. Has you little one started school or pre school this year? If so how are they finding it?





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