Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Product Review: Just Dance 3


In the past you may have heard me wax lyrical about the game Just Dance (sheesh, was that really nearly two years ago?!) If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have certainly heard about my love for these games. It's safe to say I am a fan, being the proud owner of Just Dance 1, Just Dance 2 and now Just Dance 3 and let me tell you, these games just keep getting better and better.

I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek at Just Dance 3 on the Ubisoft stand at the Cybermummy event in London back in June so I knew in advance I was going to love this. What's not to love? Great dance moves, fab music and even lyrics to singalong to - if you've got enough breath left of course.


Up to 4 people can dance at the same time, or you can just have a go on your own. It's amazing fun if there are a few of you (especially if there is wine involved), the "Dance Crew" feature is particularity hilarious and with being able to compare your scores, it can all get a bit competitive! Watch this link to see how awesome it is with 4 players. Every time I play I am determined to beat my last score. I quite often have a blast on my own when I need a little bit of exercise, because if you get really into it YOU SWEAT BIG-TIME. Three tracks and I'm worn out! This is where the "Just Sweat" feature comes into play - there is a free session or a 7 day challenge to take part in.  

New for Just Dance 3 is the concept of "Mojo". The more you go for it, the more points you get - you are awards stars at the end of each song which go towards your Mojo total which in turn unlocks "rewards" - new dances and playlists. I love the concept of unlockable rewards and think this is a great new feature.

With 49 songs (51 if you have the Special Edition with two extra Katy Perry tracks) there is a something on there for everyone and I defy you not to have fun when playing this game. There's varying degrees of difficulty, some I really struggle with, others I take to like a fish in water. My personal favourite from the new game is Teenage Dream and I've pretty much perfected it.


Then there is Price Tag by Jessie J, which I'm not great at but I love


This one KILLS me but it's still one of my most-practiced routines


My nemesis? Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado but I refuse to be beaten.


I hope Ubisoft Just Dance don't stop here, I have a whole host of songs in my head that would be perfect for this game!

If you haven't tried any of the Just Dance games yet, then get this. You will love it. It's the perfect time of year for a dancing game, I've already got two party nights planned in December that involve this game. It would also be a great Christmas gift! If I didn't already own it, I'd love to find something like this in my stocking!  

Thanks to Ubisoft for sending me this fab game to review!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sausages with oregano, mushrooms & olives

Note: I blogged this recipe and then? Then I lost the freaking photo that accompanies it. I'm sure it will turn up and some point and I'll add it in then, or else, I'll pap it next time I make it!  

You know when you cook something that you're not quite sure you're going to like and then when you do it's a success? Yep, this was one of those times!

I was a bit worried about this as there's so much that could go potentially wrong - well, not really, it's quite simple but it could wrong in terms of Mr M absolitely hating it! It was fine though, more than fine, we both really enjoyed it and it will probably become a regular in the house of M. I was shocked that he ate up the olives without complaining!

This recipe serves 4.

Sausages with Oregano, Mushrooms and Olives

Ingredients

450g pack reduced-fat sausages
1tsp sunflower oil
2tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
400g can chopped tomatoes
200ml beef stock
100g pitted black olives in brine
500g park mushrooms, thickly sliced

Method

Using kitchen scissors, cut the sausages into small meatball-sized pieces. Heat a large pan and fry the sausage pieces in the oil for about 5 minutes until golden brown all over.

Add in the oregano and garlic and fry for a further minute before tipping in the tomatoes, beef stock, olives and mushrooms.

Simmer for fifteen minutes until the sausages are cooked all the way through and the sauce has started to reduce a little.

I served this with a pile of mashed potato and it was yum!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Life changes when you have kids


Guest post by: Tamsin McCahill
Everyone told you about the sleepless nights. You knew there’d be a bit of crying. But what about the biceps of steel you’ve developed from the endless rocking? The dubious stains on every item of clothing you own? The unsolicited advice you now have to endure from well-meaning people on buses? 

But one of the biggest (and most overlooked) changes starting a family can bring is the impact it has on your personal finances. 

First off, there’s the all the kit you need to buy. Even if you don’t fork out on the latest ergonomically designed highchair, essentials like cots, car seats and sterilisers can make a huge dent in your savings. No wonder then that a baby, according to the Guardian, is thought to cost its parents more than £9,000 in its first year alone.

Then there’s the small problem of managing the mortgage while you’re on maternity leave or if one of you decides to go part time. 

And if all that’s left you sobbing into your organic hemp nursing shawl, look away now. Even when your overdraft has made it through their babyhood, the cost of raising a child to 21 is now believed to be as high as £210,000 .Ouch.

Bearing in mind the huge financial burden involved in raising children, it’s no wonder that many parents take steps to ensure their family is protected into the future. So what should you do? Here are our top five tips for new parents.

1.     Start saving for the future
It can be a good idea to start putting small amounts of money aside each month, whether that’s into your Child Trust Fund (if your child was born before January 2nd, 2011), a savings account or even a junior ISA - the tax-free children’s savings account launched this year.

2.     Don’t overspend on baby costs
It’s natural to want everything to be perfect when you’re a new parent, but make sure you come up with a budget and stick to it before costs spiral out of control. Always accept hand-me-downs and look out for second hand shops for bargains.

3.     Find out about benefits
Even if you plan to carry on working, you’re more than likely to be able to claim child benefit as most families resident in the UK are entitled to it. You can get extra help if anyone in the family has a disability and you may be entitled to child tax credits, too.

4.     Prepare a will
The only way to ensure your money will pass to the right people after you die is to have a will written up.  It’s also a way of setting in stone who you would like to care for your children if you die while they’re still young. You could write your own but it’s advisable to ask a solicitor to help you draw one up.

5.     Take out adequate life insurance
Could your family survive financially without you? Even if you’re not the main breadwinner, consider the impact your death would have on the family, for instance in childcare costs. Having adequate life insurance in place will protect your partner from financial burden should the worst happen.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Meal Planning Monday (28th November 2011)

Here I am! Criminally late but forgive me, I have been buried under a sticky mass of wrapping paper and sellotape all day. Yes, the Great Christmas Present Wrapping Mission of 2011 has commenced.

I've not planned yet, am doing an online order tonight so will update then but please do add your plans to the Linky below and I'll post an update this evening!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Meme: Most visited websites

I have been tagged by Fay at Glass Half Full on a meme. As the title above suggests, it's all about the websites I visit the most. I'm a bit of a nosy beggar so this kind of meme really appeals to me - I like to see what other people get up to on the internet, although nobody appears to be admitting to any of the, erm, less salubrious websites out there.

So, obviously there are the usual's like Twitter and Facebook that get a daily hourly visit so I won't talk much about those, instead sharing a couple of my other favourites.

IMDB - I could seriously waste half of my life on this website. I'm such a film and TV geek, and as soon as I've watched a film I look it up on IMDB, in fact I often do it whilst I am watching the film. How sad is that?

The Dibb - I am a Disney holiday planning geek of massive proportions, even when I'm not actually going on a Disney holiday anytime soon and this website is THE BOMB in terms of trip planning. It's full of information and the forums are jam-packed with very knowledgeable people and I like nosing at other peoples holiday pictures. So there.


BBC Good Food - For general day-to-day inspiration, I'm not sure this website can be beaten. It's my fallback and I use it constantly.

The Daily Mail - So shoot me. I love it for the celebrity stories (yes, I am indeed that shallow) and for the general gossip and it's an incredibly bad week if I haven't read something that has made me want to throttle Liz Jones. Honestly, it's like picking a scab.

Rightmove - I probably look at Rightmove about 5-6 times a week, honest. Looking at dream homes, spying on people I know and planning for a holiday home. Cannot get enough of looking at houses, it's a problem.

So there you have it, all my dirty little website secrets. 

I won't tag anyone as not sure who has done this and who hasn't but feel free to pick this meme up and run with it - if you do, come back and let me know so I can have a peek at yours.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Giveaway: Zumba Fitness 2 for Nintendo Wii

Earlier this year I reviewed Zumba Fitness for the Wii and now I am back with a giveaway for the latest offering - Zumba Fitness 2.

Three million players and counting have already discovered the exhilarating way to sculpt, tone and party yourself into shape with the first Zumba Fitness – Now Zumba Fitness 2 takes the party to the next level!

The Zumba® Fitness video games are inspired by the international phenomenon of the Zumba® dance-fitness program, which pairs easy-to-follow choreographies with contagious international rhythms to create an exhilarating fitness-party.


Zumba Fitness 2 now features:

  • 32 electrifying new routines and music tracks, including hits from today’s hottest artists including Pitbull, Nicole Scherzinger and Yolanda Be Cool & DCup
  • 3D celebrity Zumba instructors Tanya Beardsley, Gina Grant and Bet
  • Revamped tutorial mode that lets you learn at your own pace by breaking down the core dance styles into the basic steps
  • 20 different dance styles with new additions like Axe, Indian, Latin Pop, Bellydance and Pasodoble 
  • 5 stunning and dynamic environments from a Miami Yacht to a LA nightclub
  • A new video cueing system makes the choreography easier to follow for new players.

How to win...


To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Zumba Fitness 2 on Nintendo Wii all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what is your favourite workout trackPlease also send a quick email to hello@athomewithmrsm.com so that I am able to contact the winner.   

For an extra entry, tweet as follows:

I've entered to win Zumba Fitness 2 on Nintendo Wii with @madamding http://bit.ly/ueK9N3

After the giveaway has ended your email address will be deleted and not used for any other purpose.  The prize will be sent direct from the PR company.  This giveaway is one entry per person and open to people in the UK only. Sorry!

The giveaway closes on Sunday 27th November 2011 at 8.00pm and the winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck, and in the meantime, if you can't wait that long - you can pre-order the game at Amazon here http://www.amazon.co.uk/505-Games-Zumba-Fitness-Wii/dp/B0060FVEHM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321449083&sr=8-1

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Giveaway: Grease on Kinect for Xbox 360

 
Did anyone catch Grease on TV at the weekend? I decided to it was time to introduce my almost-six-year-old to the wonder that is Grease and she loved it. Okay, what she really loved was the dancing and singing but I think that's my favorite part too!  I'm here today to tell you that 505 Games have just announced the retail release of an all-singing, all-dancing new video game Grease.

Grease brings the 50’s back to life and straight to your living room where players can turn up their style and release their inner rock ‘n roller!



Grease combines the movies’ timeless music and memorable choreography with motion sensor technology to deliver the ultimate singing and dancing experience. With fifteen tracks from the original film and five extra bonus classic rock ‘n roll tracks, two singers and two dancers may compete at any one time and a total of eight players can compete in Party Mode. Grease is definitely a guaranteed party-starter.


Take a look at the trailer here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQMngJKECsA&feature=channel_video_title

How to win...

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Grease on Kinect for Xbox 360 all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me the name of your favourite song from the Grease moviePlease also send a quick email to hello@athomewithmrsm.com so that I am able to contact the winner.   

For an extra entry, tweet as follows:

I've entered to win Grease on Kinect for Xbox 360 with @madamding http://bit.ly/sLjmyE

After the giveaway has ended your email address will be deleted and not used for any other purpose.  The prize will be sent direct from the PR company.  This giveaway is one entry per person and open to people in the UK only. Sorry!

The giveaway closes on Sunday 27th November 2011 at 8.00pm and the winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck, and in the meantime, for more information on the game visit the official website
http://www.greasethegame.com/

love & kisses

Mrs M x

Monday, 21 November 2011

Meal Planning Monday (21st November 2011)

Hey there!

Sorry I've been a bit quiet on the blog in the past week, real life has been getting in the way which is of course very rude!

In terms of meal planning, things haven't gone too badly recently. I haven't always started the week of well but it seems to have come together anyhow. There is a plan this week you'll be pleased to hear and it looks a little something like this.

Toad-in-the-Hole
Creamy Salmon Pasta
One Pan Pilau
Pizza (well for Mr M, I am eating out...)
A Nacho type dish of some sort!

I'm also feeling the need for chilli so I might incorporate that in somewhere and I definitely want to do some baking and/or Christmas prep this week. It's just trying to fit all this in at the moment!

The Linky is below so please do join in!
love & kisses
Mrs M x


Friday, 18 November 2011

Cookbook Reviews

You know how I love to review a cookbook don't you? I've done plenty of them on here because as sad as it is, I love to read a cookbook. I've actually stopped counting "the collection" now but it's still growing... 

I was recently sent two books to review from Harper Collins.  One about preserves, and one about cakes - two of my favourite kitchen endeavours!

Preserves
by Jill Nice

Described as a "beginner's guide to making jams and jellies, chutneys and pickles, sauces and ketchups, syrups and alcoholic sips", this book is an easy-to-use guide full of ideas for making preserves from all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

The book is detailed and for the absolute beginner, the starts with the history behind preserving and the different types of preserving you can do - jam, conserves, curds, chutneys, relishes, pickles, spiced fruits, fruits in alcohol, sauces and ketchups, before leading onto a section on the key ingredients used in preserving. It wasn't until reading this section that I became aware you could use tinned fruit and vegetables as well as frozen and dried to make preserves! 


There's some handy information on what can go wrong and also some safety information (sounds weird, but these preserves can get REALLY hot).  Then of course there are the recipes which are divided into sections like vegetables, fruit and herbs.

Recipes that stand out to me as something I want to give a go - the Sweet Beetroot Pickle as I always end up with too much beetroot each year, Apple & Ginger Jam - purely because I've never tried this flavour before and the Bitter Lemon Chutney which set my tongue tingling merely at the name! There is also a Cranberry Chutney which I think I am going to make this weekend as it sounds perfect for Christmas and says to leave for a month before eating. I'll be reporting back on that one very soon!


The book is attractive and a small, handy size. There are no photographs in the book (but there are some illustrations scattered around) and whilst this is normally a bugbear of mine in a cookbook I don't really feel that a book on preserving needs photos. This would be a useful book to keep on your kitchen shelf, particularly if you "grow-you-own" and may occasionally be faced with a glut of courgettes or something!

Preserves by Jill Nice is published by Harper Collins with a RRP of £14.99. It is available to buy at Amazon.


Cake Angels 
by Julia Thomas

The second book I was sent was Cake Angels which is a book full of gluten, wheat and dairy free cakes. I actually have no need to cook for a specific diet as fortunately nobody in the family has an allergy or intolerance but I can see that this might be a handy book to have around if you need to whip something up for guests or when cooking for something like a school fete.

Julia Thomas launched her own bespoke baking service Cake Angels, the "free from" artisan bakery where she sends delicious cakes using an overnight courier. This book houses all her favourite recipes and aims to show the reader just how easy is to bake gloriously moist and delicious dairy, wheat and gluten free cakes.


There is a key ingredient section at the start which I think is a must for anyone who has never baked "free from" goods before. The recipes vary from classics like Victoria Sandwich, Chocolate Fudge Cake and Carrot Cake to the slightly more adventurous like Orange & Pomegranate Cake and Le Fraisier.  My own favourites are the Traditional Cherry & Almond and the Black Forest Brownies.


The book has good images with a nice introduction to each recipe. The ingredients list and method are clear and detailed.  There are a few items of ingredients that I wouldn't know where to start looking for but I'm sure are probably readily available in supermarkets or health food shops.  If you have anyone in the family or a friend with an allergy or intolerance this would make a lovely Christmas gift.

Cake Angels by Jill Thomas is published by Harper Collins with a RRP of £16.99 and is available to buy at Amazon

love & kisses 
Mrs M x

Friday Foody Round Up #2

Following on from last months inaugural Friday Foody Round Up, here I am with the second edition. It's only a quick one though, I've not been sent masses in terms of food recently - which isn't always such a bad thing, I should really be on a detox to pave the way for all the bad stuff I am going to eat over the festive period.  

Here is what I have been trying this month.

Fenland Celery


I'm lying actually, because I haven't been trying it at all, Mr M has. The thing is, I don't like celery. It's one of the very very few foods that I don't like. I can eat it cooked in something as long as it is chopped finely but I could never eat it raw. Mr M on the other hand who tends to be somewhat of a salad-dodger, loves celery. For him, it's right up there next to carrots (it's all about the crunch) so when this arrived he was more than happy to sample it.  Fenland Celery is exclusively available in Waitrose whilst in season from October to December and is 100% English grown. I'd like to say that we cooked something exotic with it but in reality it was munched down with a big tub of dip and thoroughly enjoyed! You can find out more about Fenland Celery here and check out the Love Celery website for more information and recipes.

Banane Du Brésil Liqueur 


If anyone offers to send me alcohol, I very unlikely to refuse to try it *hic* so when the nice people at Firebox offered me a bottle of this liqueur, having seen Holly on the Great British Bake Off talking about how hard it is to find banana liqueur, why would I refuse it?!   Banane du Brésil is a blend of macerated bananas (apparently that's not as evil as it sounds - they've just been soaked in copious amounts of booze) and concentrated banana extract and Cognac for an extra kick.  You can drink it straight over crushed ice but as I have decided Christmas 2011 is all going to be about cocktails this will definitely be mixed with something like ice cream especially as banana flavoured cocktails are one of my favourite things.  The Banane Du Brésil Liqueur is available from Firebox.com and retails at £19.99.

Beetroot


Back in September I was asked if I'd like to receive some beetroot samples as part of a "So You Think You Know Beetroot" challenge aimed at promoting the fact that beetroot is an extremely versatile ingredient. I love beetroot and as anyone who grows vegetables might know, it grows quite well and it can be hard to know what to do with a surplus other than pickling it.  I've been a bit slack and whilst I have cooked with beetroot recently I've not yet got the recipes up but watch this space they are coming soon. Beetroot is highly versatile, probably more than you knew. If you check out the Love Beetroot website you'll see some really good recipe ideas - it's not often thought of as an ingredient to cakes for instance and it's an incredibly health vegetable!

WeightWatchers Hot Chocolate

A nice PR lady sent me some sachets of WeightWatchers Hot Chocolate. I'm not entirely sure what she's trying to imply - should I be offended? Only kidding! I'm a fan of hot chocolate and well, sometimes a fan of loosing weight so I was happy to try these out. I like the convenience of sachets as they're handy to keep in my bag for work. Coming in mint, chocolate and caramel flavour, the hot chocolate sachets are tasty and as all you need to do is add water - very quick to make yourself up a mug!  They are only 40 calories and if you're doing the ProPoints scheme, they are just 1 point. Perfect if you need a quick chocolate fix!

And that there is my Friday Foody Round Up for November!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Do you let your children watch the news?

It's never occurred to me to turn off the news whilst my children are around. For the most part, they're not paying any attention to it and it goes over their heads. Well that's the way it has been for the past few years. Now they are getting older (4 and 5) I'm more aware that it's just not appropriate for them as whilst they used to ignore it, I've noticed they are paying more and more attention.

I was and remain surprised that the 6'o'clock news is so sensationalist and graphic. After all 6pm isn't that late in the scheme of things and I imagine the majority of children up and down the country haven't yet gone to bed. I don't see why that news bulletin can't be toned down a little and leave the graphic stuff until 10pm. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to shelter my children and I will talk to them about new stories - they know that bad things happen but recently at tea-time we've been treated to Colonel Gaddafi's bleeding corpse being paraded on TV (which is a whole other rant, the Gaddafi coverage was particularly alarming as his dead body was everywhere you looked - we cover naked breasts on the front of a magazine, but a gruesome image of a dead man is fine to plaster over newspapers sitting next to children's magazines in the local Co-op) and the burning carnage of the M5 crash. Alongside this we get treated to child abductions, rapes, gun crimes, murders...all of which are the stuff of nightmares. Last night my 5 year old woke up crying at 3am because she'd had a dream about a "bad lady putting her in a van".   My children understand about war. We watched the service at The Cenotaph and talked about it. They don't need to see someone's head being blown off to appreciate the horrors of war. Come to think of it, neither do I.

Now I know it's my place, as the parent, to censor watch my children watch, and I do. Since I've noticed my almost-6-year-old paying more and more attention to the news and asking me questions about war and murder, the TV gets turned off or switched over to something more pleasant like Jake & The Neverland Pirates BUT sometimes my children want to watch the news and I'd like them to be able to learn about what is going on in the world, just without too many gory details.  

Whilst I think it's good to have an understanding of what goes on, I also want to protect their innocence. After all, they are little children for such a short time, there's plenty of time to become more aware about the nastiness of life. 

I'm not saying that there isn't a "safe" option for children, there is - Newsround is a good option for children and one I will probably encourage as they get older, but even looking at the website today, the first picture is of someone smoking (they're talking about the suggestion that smoking should be banned in cars). My children are oblivious to smoking, seriously, so it would become another can of worms.

I don't want to overly protect and shelter my children but I would like to switch the TV on at 6pm and not be presented with gruesome deaths. I understand that news reports are aimed at adults but so early in the evening, I'd like my news to come with a spoonful of sugar. Is that too much to ask?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 14 November 2011

Meal Planning Monday (14th November 2011)

Flippin' 'eck it's Monday again. Scary stuff. Even scarier is that we are mid-way through November. WHAT?! This time next month my children will be preparing to break up from school for the Christmas break.

I'm going to be honest, this week I've not meal planned. I know, I know. This means two things a) We'll eat rubbish all week and b) it will cost us loads more than it should.  All I know is that Friday I am eating out with friends before going to see Breaking Dawn at the cinema. Oh yes. And tomorrow I am today I am eating at Pizza Express on an all day shopping trip. So really I only need to sort out three meals this week.

The Linky is below, let me know what you've planned this week. I'm just off to look at the blog posts from last weel.
Happy eating!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The tracks of my (tweenage) years part III

It's Sunday night, I'm a little bored and procrastinating (I should DEFINITELY be playing catching up for NaNoWriMo but right now, I just can't be bothered) so I thought I'd carry on from previous blog posts I did in June and July (really? that long ago?) where I was telling you about tracks of my childhood. The first one I did was songs from when I was about 5 years old circa 1984 and the second one circa 1988

Part III is bringing us to the early nineties (circa 1992) and what I will call my tweenage years. I wasn't a teenager until the summer of 1992. I went on a particularly memorable holiday to Ireland with my cousins that summer and there are many songs that take me right back. At this point in my life I wasn't quite sure what I liked - there were very distinct groups at school, not helped by it being non-uniform and therefore very easy to see what your persuasion was.  I, as I do now, fell somewhere in the middle, liking all types of music from the very naff to the uber cool. Generally, it's on the naff side of the scale though as we all well know. 

I'm going to avoid the usual "I Will Always Love You", "Stay" "November Rain" and "End of the Road". They were BIG songs for me that year but I'll pick some different ones.

Was Not Was - Shake Your Head - Now I was always aware this was the delectable Kim Basinger singing, but Ozzy Osbourne? Nope. I didn't know that before tonight!

Madonna - This Used To Be My Playground - This songs always makes me feel a little emotional. I have no idea why as I can't stand Madonna.


Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit - You know those "school disco" albums they do? This would be THE song on it if I had to compile one.


Patty Smyth & Don Henley - Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough - Had completely forgotten about this song until tonight, probably haven't heard it in nearly 20 years and yet, I still remember every word?

Genesis - Jesus He Knows Me - Phil Collins, what else can you say.


En Vogue - Free Your Mind - Arguably one of the best girl groups, ever. Fact. And one of the best songs to sing along to in your bedroom with a mean face on.


Jade - Don't Walk Away - I'm pretty sure I had a dance routine to go with this.


Swing Out Sister - Am I The Same Girl - I loved Corinne Drewery and I still adore this song.


Ugly Kid Joe - Everything About You - Waynes World, Waynes World, Party Time, Excellent. THE film of the year.

Any of those songs mean anything to you? 

What were you listening to in 1992?

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Playground and childhood games of old


An office game of "Knock Down Ginger" has prompted this blog post... (yes, we do act like children at work). It made us consider a few questions -  what has happened to the games of our youth?

Is British Bulldog still banned in schools? Do children still have conker fights in the playground? Do girls still go to school with pockets full of elastics? Does anyone remember how to play Cats Cradle? Is Knock and Run terribly frowned upon and why was it sometimes called Knock Down Ginger? Did anyone else play aye yaki 123 or was that just me? Is "nix" a term that is still commonly used today?

I did some quick research into the above and an article on the BBC told me that 29% of 653 school staff surveyed by the Associate of Teachers and Lecturers said that British Bulldog had been banned from school, 14% said there was a ban on conkers and 9% said no to leapfrog. According to Wikipedia as recent as 2008, in attempt to prevent childhood obesity, the schools were being encouraged to bring back playground games such as these however most are still very risk averse.

With regard to Knock and Run, apparently according to Wikipedia, "victims of this prank are not likely to call the police, but if they decide to, the doorbell ditcher can face charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace, though in the United Kingdom trespass is a civil matter and not a criminal matter so the police will not compile a case for a victim." Apparently there are many different names for this practice, depending where you live in the world. This year were shot at by a man in Kentucky so it's probably not advisable to teach your children this game...

I'm sure everyone must have a name for a truce sign, you know, crossed fingers when you are playing a game. It was commonly used at my school when you needed to stop for some reason and we called it "nix". I'm led to believe that what you call it depends on where you live. My boss told me he called it "barley" and I laughed at him as it seemed so airy-fairy but according to Wikipedia this used to be prevalent in Scotland, the Lake District, Wales and of course the West Midlands where we live. So that told me. Other commonly used terms were crosses, cree, bars, scribs, squibs, keppies, locks, peas, finns and pax. None of which I'd ever heard before today.

All this talk of playground games made me think of the some of the rhymes we used to sing, which looking back now were highly inappropriate for girls of 7 or 8 to be singing, like this one

When Susie was a baby, a baby, a baby Susie was - she went a cry, cry, cry,cry 
When Susie was a toddler, a toddler Susie was - she went a scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble
When Susie was a child, a child Susie was - she went a whyyyyyy? whyyyyyy? whyyyyy? whyyyy?
When Susie was a teenager, a teenager Susie was - she went a ooh, ahh, I lost my bra, I left my knickers in me boyfriend's car

When Susie was a married, a married Susie was - she went a aahh, unnnnggggghh, aaaahhhhh, unnnnnngggggh
When Susie was a mother, a mother Susie was - she went a bake, bake, bake, bake

When Susie was a grandma, a grandma Susie was - she went a knit, knit, knit, knit
When Susie was a skeleton a skeleton Susie was - she went a
(silence)

Sheesh. With role models like Susie it's a wonder any of us got very far in life! 

It seems that many of the games and rhymes we grew up with might be slowly dieing a death which is quite sad is it not? I tried to teach my daughter Oranges and Lemons the other day and couldn't even remember the words so I'm off to look that up immediately and next year, I shall be reinstating conker fights - even if it's only in my own house!

Do you remember any of these games? Did you have different names for these activities at school? What crazy rhymes did you sing?  Would love to hear from you!

love & kisses
Mrs M x