A Strong Coffee

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Turning 8 and 12

You may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet here recently. Juggling two Birthdays, preparations for Christmas and teaching have left me with no time to blog. This weekend I feel that I am slowly coming out of the other side. Let’s hope I haven’t spoken too soon.

I still can’t believe that my baby is now 8. He plays on being the youngest and the cutest, but let’s face facts. The cute card is starting to run out the bigger he gets. He is the most smiley and upbeat boy. He still skips when he is happy. Being a third child is really starting to show. It’s like he is growing up faster than his brothers did. There wasn’t a long list of toys for his birthday. He just wanted a new bike with gears. 

For his party he chose a gaming party. I think we can safely say that the party host regretted his previous nights partying when left in charge of 10 demanding  8 year old boys.

5 days later it was birthday time again for my eldest. He managed to guilt trip me into making him a Rubik’s cube cake when I really didn’t have the time. He seemed happy with his wonky cake cube.

We took a few friends karting, which was an eye opener for us. At primary school, everyone knows each other. Now we were meeting his new friends who we knew nothing about. Luckily it turns out that our boy is a pretty good judge of character. Yes they were a bit boystorous to start but kids at that age get that way when they were excited. Now we have a rest for a couple of months until it is middle mans turn

I know everyone says that they grow so fast but it really is true. Next year is about making memories with them. We’ve ditched loads of physical presents this year for Christmas in order to spend quality time with them. I wasn’t sure how it would go down with them, but they are really happy with it. They know that they need for nothing. With the exception of Lego, cubes and computer games they really aren’t bothered with toys anymore. They want to eat adult meals out, try new experiences and, to my delight, ride rollercoasters at the theme parks. So whilst part of me yearns for the little boys with a big pile of presents, I think I am happier with my big boys who I can spend fun times with instead.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

[AD] Top Tips For Visiting Waddesdon Manor This Christmas

Last weekend we decided to get into the Christmas spirit at little bit early with a trip to Waddesdon Manor.

Waddesdon Manor

We first visited last year at Halloween. We had a lovely afternoon and the boys were keen to go back as they liked the playground and trails we had done. I was keen to go as I wanted to see the gardens all lit up. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Here are my top tips to make sure you get the most out of your day.

Top Tips For Visiting Waddesdon Manor This Christmas

Exploring Waddesdon Manor At Christmas

Time it right.

If you want to be there to see everything lit up then I would suggest to visit after lunch if you have children. This way you can have a wander around the Christmas stalls before going around the light trails when it is dark. As I mentioned earlier, my boys like their playground and you could take your children there whilst it is still light.

The car park does get busy as it is a popular event and to ease things there is a one way system in place.

Do the children's light trail first.

This is a lovely trail which showcases the artwork of local schools. It is worth doing and really lovely but doesn’t have the music shows that the winter tail does.

Children's Light Trail At Waddesdon

Watch Lights in Motion.

Make sure you stop off at lights in motion located in The Stables area. I loved this display as did the boys. We caught the end of one of the shows so waited a see minutes for it to start again. Absolutely beautiful.

Lights In Motion At Waddesdon

Letters to Father Christmas

If you have little ones that believe then you can write a letter to Father Christmas for a small charge. We didn’t do this as my boys are too old now, but it would have been lovely when they were younge

Take the winter light trail before you leave.

Winter Light Trail Waddesdon

Make sure you take the winter light trail before you leave. It was beautiful, had interactive smoke displays which the boys loves. And lots of balls flashing to music.

Winter Light Trail

We had a lovely afternoon at Waddesdon and would recommend it if you are nearby and want to get that festive feeling.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

[AD] See The World Through Others' Eyes Review

If, like me, you have kids that love STEM then you may have found them asking for "See The World Through Others' Eyes" on their Christmas list.

 See The World Through Others' Eyes 

We have been sent the kit ourselves so you can see what it is all about. Below is a short video that we have made.

Basically it is a set of plastic glasses and a lot of different lenses that can be changed and combined (much as the optician) to see like a number of different animals. I should add that as I have a slight squint, I sometimes didn't see the same results as my children as for some of the animals it requires you to look through both lenses equally. Not a fault of the product, but worth bearing in mind if you have a child with a lazy eye.

Seeing the world like an elephant!

The booklet contains a grid with the lens combinations for a number of creatures. It also has a paragraph on each animal with facts about their site and some pictures to demonstrate what you should see. Here is a sort video of what is in the box.

My boys think this toy is aimed at the 6-8 category for anyone with a keen interest in science.

For more information on Brainstorm toys, please visit their website.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

[AD] Super Stocking Fillers from Rubik's

With Christmas approaching, Rubik's have your stocking fillers sorted, with some great puzzles and games.

Rubik's Stocking Filler Ideas

Sometimes in life, your children surprise you and do something that you never could. Yes my 11 year old is Rubik's cube made and given some time can solve any cube that comes his way. You can imagine his excitement when we were offered a Rubik's bundle to review. He has even given me the information on which cube is easiest to solve. (None if you are me!)

A new survey has revealed a third of all parents would choose the Rubik’s Cube as a stocking filler for kids this Christmas. The survey, which had 2,000 respondents, also included chocolate and stationery as top stocking solutions.

When it comes to beginners, the Rubik's 2x2 and Edge are the way to go.

Rubik's Edge

The Rubik’s Edge (RRP £9.99) is a great introduction to the new Rubik’s range. Whilst I haven't managed to solve it yet, it is an easier puzzle to get the kids hooked on. The cube is a single layer puzzle with nine cubes in the square. Turn, twist and rotate it to find the 192 possible permutations. The cube can shape shift and you can also turn the edge pieces.

Rubik's Edge

Rubik's 2x2

This is a deceptive cube. It looks easy. It is not! According to my son it is easier than the 3x3 but is still a challenging puzzle and may be a good starting cube.

Rubik's 3x3

Gone are the days when you could peel off the stickers to complete this cube. (*Cough* not that I ever did that!) My son spent weeks learning to solve this cube and can how do it in 20-30 seconds.(Apparently he needs to be even faster to hit a world record!)

He loves telling me that there are 43 quintillion combinations as that number is too big for me to comprehend. He even got his skills mentioned in his end of year report, as he impressed the class with in the Year 6 talent show.

Rubik's Orbit

My son describes this puzzle as the 2x2 remade. The Rubik’s Orbit (RRP £14.99) is a puzzle with a twist! The aim is to solve all six sides of the 360 rings to have a matching colour all the way around. . My son says that the colours are swapped around from how they appear on other cubes so this made it challenging at first. He can now solve it easily.

Rubik's Orbit

If you need help solving it?  My son has made a tutorial on how to solve Rubik's Orbit that you can follow.

Rubik's Match

Rubik’s Match (RRP £4.99) is a good card game that gets you thinking! You need to race to make the pattern you are given on your challenge card.

Rubik's Cage

This is a game for 2-6 players. The aim is to get three in a row like tic tac toe, but you can
Drop it. Twist it. Flip it. in order to Win it! The Rubik’s Cage (RRP £19.99) is a fast-paced, fun game of strategy. The aim is to get three cubes in a row, but is not as easy as it sounds!

Rubik's Cage

What stocking filler ideas do you have?

Disclosure: We were gifted these items for review

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

[AD] Shaun the Sheep Farmageddon Glow Run At Alice Holt

Last night we took part in the Shaun The Sheep Farmageddon Glow Run At Alice Holt thanks to Forestry England.

Farmageddon bus

My boys are getting on the old side for the forest glow trails now, however, when they were younger it was a great way to get them on a walk. I still have fond memories of doing the Stick Man Trail a few years ago.The trails are free of charge, but you can purchase a trail pack which includes a Shaun the sheep hat, a uv light and clue sheet.

The Glow Runs do come at a fee as they are specially organised night runs. I had never done an organised run before so didn't know what to expect. I just thought it would be fun to do after as a family we completed the couch to 5K this year.

Meeting Shaun the sheep

On arrival we were given our numbers and could decorate a Shaun hat. In theory this was a lovely idea, but in practice the paints got everywhere and running in a sheep hat was pretty impossible.
There was a warm up with Shaun at 6.45pm with the run (not race) starting at 7pm.

The course was very dark and you did need a torch with you. There were lit up pictures along the way as well as guides showing you the route. Running in a dark forest was enjoyable, but there was a killer hill that most people chose to walk up!

The race was 3K and at the end the kids got some glow in the dark Lu-la ears, wooly socks and water.
It was a fun race, even though I hadn't factored how cold it would be waiting to run on an October evening!

Shaun the sheep glow run 

Have you tried one of the Glow Trails or Runs yet?

Disclosure: We were given tickets to the glow run in return for this post.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Recipes For A Bonfire Night Gathering #Cookblogshare #43

If you are throwing a bonfire night party you will wow your guests with these delicious, seasonal recipes.

#CookBlogShare has long been one of my favourite weekly cooking linkies. If you love cooking then it is a great place to share recipes and ideas as well as commenting on each others tasty posts.

There are three lovely regular hosts Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie, Jacqui at Recipes Made Easy and Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes There are also some guest hosts and this week sees my turn.

If you are new to this link party please take a moment to read the guidelines below.  Joining in is simple and you are welcome to share your old and new recipes.

Last weeks link up was over at Lost in Food. There were lots of lovely recipes shared, and with bonfire night on the way, I think that these recipes would be perfect if you are having some friends over. Also check out these healthy stuffed jacket potatoes which would go down well.

Sticky Sausage Traybake

This sticky sausage traybake from Michelle and Lesley from Lost In Food would be the perfect dish for a Bonfire Night Party. Pop it in the oven, enjoy the fireworks and then tuck into some deliciously sweet and sticky sausages.

Sticky Sausage Traybake From Lost In Food

Easy Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkins aren't just for Jack O Lanterns. This easy pumpkin soup recipe

Easy Pumpkin Soup From Taste Botanical

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

If you are looking for a seasonal dessert then you cant go wrong with this no bake pumpkin cheesecake. Donna uses tinned pumpkin puree for this recipe to save the hassle of scooping out the middle.

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake From Donna Dundas

I also have some bonfire night recipes of my own that you may want to check out. Who can resist toffee apples or bonfire cupcakes?

Bonfire Cupcakes

Thanks for sharing your recipes at #cookblogshare

#Cookblogshare Week 43

Want to join in with Cook Blog Share this week? Here is how:
Link up your recipe, sweet or savoury, or any foodie post to the #CookBlogShare link party.  Just click the blue Add your link button below and follow the instructions.

Include this party’s link in your post (so everyone else can find it).

Add the #CookBlogShare badge to your post (see the code below).
Cook Blog Share

Please comment on at least two other recipes.

You can also post your recipes on the Cook Blog Share Facebook Page. I’ll visit all the blogs participating in the link party and share your recipes across all the major social media channels.

If you tweet a link to your recipe to me, @astrongcoffee1 using #CookBlogShare I will retweet it. Please use #cookblogshare when sharing your recipes on Instagram.

Next week's Cookblogshare will be over at Easy Peasy Foodie.

For GDPR purposes, please make note that by joining in you are giving the #CookBlogShare hosts permission to use your pictures in a round up and on social media, if your recipe is selected to be featured! Thank you for sharing your recipes with #CookBlogShare! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, 10 October 2019

[AD] Bank Attack Giveaway

You may remember that last week we reviewed a new fast paced game from John Adams called Bank Attack.

Bank Attack from John Adams

I love that it doesn't take long to play and is one that all our family can enjoy.

With Christmas on its way, it would be a great game for tweens and teens that can often be so hard to but for.

With 2-4 players, you can work together to break into the vault. Just stay calm and don't let the pressure force you into making a mistake.

I am pleased to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win their own game of Bank Attack.
Just complete the Gleam giveaway below.

Good Luck!

  Bank Attack Game