Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Our weekend in pictures...


There's nothing more glorious that England in the summer - do you agree? There is nowhere I'd rather be on a sunny day than sitting by the sea in England watching the world go by. Fish'n'chips, ice-cream, sand in your shoes...what's not to love?

We had a lovely time just spending quality time as a family. Do you know where we spent our weekend?





Monday, 28 May 2012

Meal Planning Monday (28th May 2012)

Hello out there, how are you all on this fine sunny Monday morning?  Hope you all had a lovely weekend and managed to enjoy the gorgeous weather. I hear it's on the turn for the end of this week - just in time for Jubilee and bank holidays, typical. 

I should imagine there are lots of BBQ's on the meal plans this week? I haven't managed to fire ours up once yet! We've just been away for a few days and I was planning to have one tonight but Mr M is going out for a curry with his friends tonight. Curry? In this weather? Maniacs!

This week is as rubbish as last in terms of meal planning as we've only got four nights to plan with, are ridiculously busy and are basically going to wing it! It looks a bit like this,

Pizza 
Chicken, rice and vegetables
Some form of eggy dinner as I have a glut!
Spaghetti bolognese

Inspiring stuff huh?

I am going to be searching for good recipes for camping this week though so if you know of any good ones, leave me a comment below. I'm looking for things with few ingredients, that can be cooked on two rings!

As ever, the linky is below so do join in. If this is your first time coming across this post, all you have to do is write a blog post and submit your link to the linky tool below. If you haven't got a blog - you can still join in, just leave a comment!

Look forward to hearing about what you are all up to this week.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bad Blogger


Hello, hello. Is there anyone still out there?

I'm sorry for the radio silence - I feel like I have been such a bad blogger recently, and I'm afraid it's probably not going to get much better in the near future. I'm feeling awful for not keeping up with my blog but the truth is that real life has just got in the way, but that can't be an entirely bad  thing can it?

Recently my life has been a whirlwind of birthdays, day-trips, work, school, social events, lunches with friends and holidays. It's all good, I'm not complaining in the slightest but it does mean that things are slipping and I'm feeling a little like things are out of my control. Blogging is just one area, my house is also suffering as I've just not been here to keep on top of things.  

I'm stressed to the point of wanting to hide under my duvet at the thought of everything I need to accomplish in the next four days, so please forgive me if I go a bit AWOL. I am reading your blogs and will try and blog regularly myself but I'm afraid it's kind of having to take a bit of a backseat at the moment.

I've just arrived back from the South Coast and should be doing laundry, getting school lunches ready, ironing clothes for the morning and packing school bags instead of sitting here but the fact that I hadn't blogged since Tuesday was eating away at me. Someone tell me I'm not alone in these feelings?!

Tell me happy things oh dear friends and I promise that I'll be back tomorrow with #mealplanningmonday and hopefully some photos of what I have been up to recently!

Till then,

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Elderflower & Lemon Victoria Sponge (Jubilee Bake Off)

I was asked recently by Forman and Field if I would like to take part in a Jubilee Bake Off. I said yes before really thinking it through and before I knew it a box of goodies had landed on my doorstep. To start with I was quite overwhelmed - what was I going to cook?! Whilst I am quite confident in the kitchen I'm not terribly inventive and so this worried me. However I came up with an idea, after brainstorming many others, and felt that a Victoria Sponge was the safest and best bet for me, especially as I have a tried and tested "never fails" recipe. The difference however with this sponge is that the sponge is flavoured with lemon and elderflower and the cake is sandwiched with handmade lemon curd and elderflower buttercream.

Forman and Field sent me a box which contained the following;

Dove's Farm Flour (a general purpose white flour milled from English wheat grown by organic farmers to Ethical Trade standards)

Longman's Unsalted Farm Butter (proper butter from a family run dairy farm in Somerset)

Forman & Field Lemon Curd (handmade lemon curd with a good hit of lemon zest)

Creme Anglaise (homemade, made daily to order with lots of fresh Bourbon vanilla)

Elderflower Liqueur (made in small batches with hand-picked elderflowers by Bramley and Gage in South Devon)

Original Beans CRU Virunga 70% Dark Chocolate (a new chocolate producer that is becoming the choice of tops chefs, chocolatiers and restaurants)

Mulled Pears (from the Forman & Field kitchens, poached in mulled red wine syrup)

I realise in comparison to the other entries by Victoria Sponge is going to look a bit dull (especially due to my awful photography...) however I don't think you can resist a good piece of cake and a cup of tea and this would be perfect for a thoroughly British afternoon tea!





Elderflower & Lemon Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

For the cake;
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
2tbsp milk
2 tbsp elderflower liqueur (or cordial if you prefer)

For the filling;
100g butter, softened
140 icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp elderflower liqueur (or to taste)
jar of lemon curd
icing sugar for sifting over the cake


Method

Preheat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottom with non-stick baking parchment.

Put the softened butter and caster sugar in a bowl (or mixer) and beat together well.   Add two of the eggs, the elderflower liqueur, lemon zest and half the flour.  Beat well to combine.  Add the last two eggs along with the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the milk.  Beat again to combine the ingredients. If the mixture is a little stiff you make like to add a little lemon juice.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, leveling off with a spatula or spoon.  Place the tins in the oven and bake for around 25 minutes until golden and the sides of the sponge have come away from the side of the tin slightly. The cake is ready when the sponge springs back with you press it lightly. Leave the cake to completely cool in the tins.

To make the filling;  beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in the icing sugar and elderflower liqueur.  Spread the butter cream over the top of one of the sponges and spread the lemon curd over the other sponge.  Sandwich the two halves together and dust a little icing sugar over the top.

I served myself up some cake with a decent dollop of the creme anglaise. Mr M is not a fan of any kind of cream so he refrained. I thought about adding a bit of the elderflower liqueur to the creme anglaise but changed my mind in case it curdled. Wish I had have tried it now!

What do you think to my creation? What would you have done with your box of goodies?  

If you want to see what the rest of the team have been up to follow the #formansjubileebakeoff hashtag on Twitter.




Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sponsored Video: The Cube by Electrolux Pop-up Restaurant at the Royal Festival Hall


Pop-up restaurants seem to be all the rage these days and new ones are springing (or popping?) up everywhere! If you're not familiar with the concept, a pop-up restaurant is basically a supper club or a temporary restaurant. They are trendy and in demand and often disappear just as quickly as they turn up! 

I've not made it to a pop-up restaurant as yet but maybe it is something I should be adding it to my Bucket List. The latest one to catch my eye is one I was alerted to recently, The Cube by Electrolux at the Royal Festival Hall in London.  I was sent the video below so that I could see the latest pop-up for myself;



The Cube has been travelling Europe with stays in places such as Brussels and Milan, and has now landed in London where it opens on June 1st 2012 and will stay on the rooftop of the Royal Festival Hall until the end of September 2012. It's a totally unique dining experience, seating eighteen people around one table overlooking the river and includes unique sound and light concepts.  Tickets cost £175 per person for lunch, £215 per person for dinner.  Bookings are now being taken - call 0207 288 6450 to find out more.

Pretty cool, huh? I think The Cube might be a little out of my price range right now but I'd imagine that sitting up there on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall being served some top nosh would be quite an experience!


This post is sponsored however all the words and opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

50 Shades of Grey


I've very nearly finished the Fifty Shades trilogy - you know the books I am talking about right? The ones that have been labelled "mom-porn" and in some form of puritan-hysteria, have been banned from libraries in America.  Despite the hype surrounding these books, I had read pretty mixed reviews so approached the books with some trepidation.

If you don't know the background, the Fifty Shades books were originally written as Twilight fan-fiction. Okay, that's probably enough to send most people running for the hills... However the slightly, erm, racy nature of them seemed to upset the Twihards and apparently the works were pulled as fan-fiction, rehashed and published as books in their own right with two new characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

Did I enjoy the books? I did actually, once I got past the basic writing that it is - the style is more suited to young adult fiction and the terms she uses do get a bit repetitive. I wish I could count how many times the author uses the phrase "cocked his head to one side". In fact I may Google it in a minute. Then there was the constant use of "holy hell" "holy cow" and "holy f**k" or basically any other word that can be prefixed by "holy".  I quite enjoyed the storyline though, which kept me interested all the way through the trilogy and whilst in the first book I really didn't like Christian Grey at all, I found myself very fond of him in the second and third books as his character opened up and developed. Anastasia Steele? I'm afraid I didn't warm to her too much and I got a bit fed up of all the "inner goddess" stuff.

What about the "mom-porn" I hear you ask? Yes it was quite detailed and graphic, there is a lot of sex in the books, but it's not particularly out-there in terms of erotic fiction. There's nothing particularly untoward other than the pleasure they get out of doing the business to  the music of Thomas Tallis. 


As with all popular books these days, there's going to be a movie and due to the content of the book I can't imagine it's going to be less than an 18Cert - bah, you keep you're rubbish Breaking Dawn sex scene Twihards! (Must find out if there is a collective name for Fifty Shades fans...). There's been muchos discussion about who should play the main characters with the obvious ones being Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. I mean clearly they'd work well in those characters due to the Twilight-factor and actually I think Kristen Stewart would be a great choice for the role of Ana. I'm afraid in my head though, as much as I love Robert Pattinson (and I do...) I imagined Christian to be a bit better looking, although they do the look the part on that picture above, I have to say and Kristen Stewart is just what I imagine Ana to look like.

I've heard it bandied around that Christian Bale could be in the running. NO NO NO. I can't stand that man. Seeing as the actor who has to play Christian Grey is going to spend a good chunk of the film on the job, I'm going to go for the people I'd most like to see naked right now. Which would be Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling. Not at the same time. Ooh...

 

Totally gratuitous. See. I can turn any blogpost around to being about nice-looking men.

Clearly I have too much time on my hands as I've also thought about who else should be cast. Now I'm not saying these people can act or would be any good but in my head this is what the characters look like. Bah. Films always ruin things for me.


Ana and Christian


Kate and Jose


Elliot and Mia


Carrick and Grace


Jack and Leila

Mrs Jones and Taylor

Carla and Ray

Elena and Dr Flynn

Ethan and Gia

What do you think to my casting? Those are the closest I could find to match the visual images in my strange little head.

All-in-all, it was enjoyable easy reading, light entertainment. It was Twilight fan-fic so it was never going to be high-brow!

Have you read the Fifty Shades trilogy? What were your thoughts and please, do tell me who you think should be cast in the main parts.  I'd love to hear who your Christian would be!


Monday, 21 May 2012

Product Review: Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot Plus Cutting Board

You'll know from previous posts that I am quite fond of Joseph Joseph products as I have reviewed a couple of them in the past for www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk. (You can read those posts here and here).

When Find Me A Gift contacted me again asking if I'd like to try another product, I asked for the Chop2Pot Plus Cutting Board as I knew it was something Mr M liked the look of and he often complains I don't get anything for him. Men, huh.
The Chop2Pot does what it says - it's a chopping board which folds to make transferring your food to your pot easier. I can't be the only one that sends diced onion cascading all over the hob?  It nearly always results in burnt fingers as no matter how many times I do it, I can never stop myself trying to pick up the rogue mushrooms.

When the board it is flat, it provides a durable cutting surface. A little squeeze of the handle and board folds to form a chute. This means no more food all over the hob and hopefully it will all just end up in the pan where it should be! One of the greatest things? It's also dishwasher safe which is a MUST for me.


As with all the Joseph Joseph products I have tested, this is not just practical, it's also stylish and well-made.

We really like this product, it's made a nice addition to the kitchen and at £13 it's a reasonable price. I think something like this would make a great present for someone who loves to cook.  All I need now is another one for when this one is in the dishwasher!

With thanks to Find Me A Gift.

Meal Planning Monday (21st May 2012)

A very quick hello from me - I am in the middle of the biggest ever clean, purge and declutter at home and up to my eyeballs in STUFF. This means I haven't even thought about meal planning yet and still have to get to the supermarket today!  

Eep.  

To this end, I will have to return to this post and update it later but I just thought for all you keen meal planners I'd get the Linky up!

I'll be back later, but in the meantime, get linking your meal planning blog posts!



Saturday, 19 May 2012

Listography - Top 5 things I love about kids

I haven't taken part in Kate Takes 5's Listography for a while but I'm sitting here on a miserable Saturday afternoon with no motivation to do anything other than blog.

This week Kate is asking us to list our top five things that we love about kids. Holy hell. FIVE things? That's a tough one...(these are mainly specific to my children by the way).

1. They don't feel the cold

I don't know if it's just my children but they are never cold. They're happy to play outside on even the coldest, wettest and windiest day. I think they are mad but clearly they are having a great time and the fact that it's ZERO degrees out there doesn't matter a jot.

2. They have no sense of fashion

And they just don't care! I love how my daughter can wear a floral dress, spotty tights and a stripy cardigan and think that she looks great - and if she doesn't? Who gives a stuff! 

3. They don't bear a grudge

Ever. I could give them the biggest telling off that the world has ever witnessed and they'd still come back for a cuddle moments later.  They move on very quickly and never hold anything against me.

4. It's easy to make them laugh

My children are so easy to bring round from a grump - be it tiredness, stroppiness or something that's upset them. A tickle under the chin, a funny rhyme, a terrible joke - they find everything funny.

5. You can make them excited about anything

Even doing the washing up. Or sorting the laundry. The most boring of chores can be turned into a game, adventure or competition and they have so much enthusiasm for the mundane.

If you want to join in with this Listography, check out Kate's blog and the other submissions.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Pushy parenting

Image Credit: http://www.cathywilcox.com.au/

Are you a pushy parent when it comes to your children's education?

I'm going to have to put my hands up and say that I've realised recently that I guess I am to a degree. I'm not entirely proud of it but I am certainly not going to apologise for it either. I'd like to think that rather than actually pushing my children, I am pushing for them.

I had a situation recently at school with my eldest where I felt that she was no longer progressing in her reading at school. At parents evening a few months ago, her teacher had mentioned she wouldn't move her again this year, which initially I was fine with but as time went gone on I started to feel it was a shame that she was being essentially "held back" with no real justification. 

My daughter is bright - she's not the brightest by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not going to tell you she is a child genius or anything but she is a really good reader and one or two reading age years ahead of herself. She can read her school books standing on her head with her eyes closed and they were no longer captivating her or holding her attention like I believe books should. What's more, I could feel my attention was slipping from her because she didn't need my help and it's a shame because she loves to learn. Seriously. Her idea of fun is a spelling test with mummy or a sheet of sums with grandma.

So I intervened by speaking with the head and subsequently, after careful assessment, it has been decided that she is more than capable of the next reading level and comprehension work and so has been moved up.  She brought her first higher level book home last night and whilst it's still relatively easy for her to read, the structure and content are more detailed and advanced, giving her something to think about and something we can talk about and work on together. She was so much more enthusiastic about it.

I initially felt wrong for raising it as an issue, like I was making a mountain out of a molehill but now I feel justified.  I'm sure her class teacher is probably gunning for me right now and I really don't want to be labelled a pushy parent but on the other hand I do want my children to be able to reach their full potential, and be given the opportunities to do so. If it means I have to get involved in what is going on at school, then I will do so. 

I'm of the belief that if my children fail in their education, I cannot purely blame the school as I have some level of control and input into what happens so it's my job to keep an eye on the ball. I don't believe that when it comes to your children's education that the buck stops with the school.

So I will continue to push - but not to my children's detriment, only for things that will benefit them and obviously their happiness comes first.. I mean, my daughter doesn't really like sport so I'm hardly going to push her into joining the girls football team...but she loves swimming and is good at it, has amazing confidence and therefore I will push for her, to make sure she gets the best teaching and is not overlooked.

Would you consider yourself a pushy parent? Would you/do you intervene with your children's education and learning? Would love to hear your views.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Introducing my new blogging venture...

... www.notesfrombritain.com



You might have seen me mention on Twitter a month or so ago that I had been setting up a new blog and was having some minor Wordpress-stress (!) well here it is. Nothing revolutionary I'm afraid but something I just felt like doing!

Notes From Britain is somewhere I am going to write about Beautiful Britain - the places, people, instituions...whatever takes my fancy really and I hope that some of you might find it interesting. It's a blog that allows me to be creative and I'm doing it just for my own pleasure which hopefully means I don't need to worry about statistics, page rank, no-follow etc as I've been finding recently that all the discussion around blogging has been sucking the fun out of actually doing it. My new blog has no commitments, it will be updated as and when, hopefully at least once or twice a week.

I realise anything on the new site could have been used on this one but I feel it fits better on a new platform so please do join me over there. You can follow the new blog on Twitter and Facebook as well - links are on the blog.

Clearly this blog will continue at the same rate - this is an extra blog (like I need more stuff to do...) rather than a replacement.

I hope you like the new blog, I'm a bit nervous about putting it out there so comments and feedback would be welcome!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Meal Planning Monday (14th May 2012)

Late again, I know. I've got intermittent Broadband today which is being a right royal pain in the rear-end. but it's working for the moment so I thought I'd just hope on quickly and get the meal planning post done.

Hope you all had a good weekend and managed to enjoy some sunshine. We took Clementine out for the first time ever which was quite exciting. We went to a local country park, had a picnic and just relaxed. The children played frisbee, scatch and football, Mr M flew a kite and I read Fifty Shades of Grey on my Kindle. A blissful today.

This week is a busy one with me socialising on 4 out of 7 nights. Ouch. I'm not looking forward to all these late nights I can tell you.  It means that this week's meal plan is an easy one - no time or energy for being too enthusiastic or original!

Chicken fajitas
Pizza
Macaroni cheese
Spaghetti bolognese
and a curry of some sort

Told you it was basic.

So, what have you got planned? Link up your meal planning blog post below!

(Sorry it's brief, but want to get this posted before my Broadband connection disappears into the ether again...)



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Random thoughts from Mrs M...

It's Sunday, and I'm whacked. I've also got a really busy week coming up. I mean, nothing too taxing but some serious socialising going on which whilst rather pleasant, doesn't sit well with my liking of being somewhat of a hermit. (I also want to finish reading the Fifty Shades trilogy...but more on that another time).

In the interests of light entertainment I was perusing You Tube and came across a video of Pans People. You remember them right? This video made me want to be part of Pans People so I felt duty bound to share it here with you.



I could also go for one of those dresses (which are quite clearly underwear).


And there was Legs & Co




Sadly, I am too young to remember either Pans People or Legs & Co and I feel rather short-changed. We never had any of this in 1989.

Do you remember Pans People? If you don't want to admit to being that old, just leave an anonymous comment. I also realise that these videos are probably completely against the rules of feminism so I expect a public backlash at any moment.

In other news, whilst watching a Pans People video I caught sight of a lady in a mask.



Holy mackerel!


What is it? And more importantly, where do I get one from? (Other than 1973).


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Food advice for family car journeys


If you're going on a lengthy car journey, you're probably going to need to stop for toilet breaks, leg stretching and letting off steam. But, perhaps most importantly, you will need to think about what to eat on the way: food will not only keep the children in the back seat satisfied, it will break up the monotony of the journey too.

Decide beforehand whether you're going to stop at a restaurant/motorway services for lunch, or bring your own food and have a picnic en route.

If you have the time for a picnic, or if you plan to eat in the car without stopping, here are some tips about the sorts of food to bring on your journey.

Thirst quenchers

Canned drinks are not a good idea as they are easily spilled and often high in caffeine. Having an excitable child in the back of a car is not conducive to a relaxing journey!

Drinks with lids are a must for avoiding spillages. Water is ideal, but if your children find this unappealing, add a bit of squash beforehand. Alternatively, take fruit juice or low-sugar drinks in cartons - this allows you to regulate how much they drink so you can cut down on the number of toilet stops.

Snack away

Our recommendations for picnic-style family snacks are fuss-free and not too messy, so are particularly great for toddlers and young children.

1. Main food items

It is important to take food that will really fill you up, so take plenty of sandwiches, quiches and tarts. Other options, such as tortilla wraps or pitta pockets, are a less messy option for eating in the car and could make a pleasant change.

2. Healthy snacks

Dish out snacks gradually over the course of the journey, to stave off boredom, and reward good behaviour in the back seat. There are many healthy options, so snacking doesn’t have to mean sugar.

• Fruit – Berries, cherries and grapes are ideal and don’t leave much to put in the bin. For older children, take pre-cut pieces in a sealed Tupperware container with a plastic fork.

• Vegetable sticks – Celery, cucumber and carrot sticks are especially good for car journeys. Cherry tomatoes are tasty, but can squirt juice. For older children, add a dip if you fancy.

• Sticks of yoghurt – the types that comes in tubes, such as Petits Filous or Frubes Fromage Frais, are brilliantly mess-free.

Take a cool bag to keep your healthy snacks fresh, and make sure it is easy to reach in the car.

3. Dry snacks

• Pre-packed – Mini sausages, Peperami, and individually wrapped cheeses, such as Babybel, are great ready-to-eat snacks. Popcorn or breadsticks are also easy to eat on the move.

• Build your own – Give the children some oatcakes or rice cakes, with slice of cheese and ham, and let them build their own lunch.

• Dried fruits – kids often love mini packs, and don’t forget the sweet, yoghurt-coated varieties.

• Home-made – If you have the time, making your own food for the road can be a great idea. In particular, flapjacks, cakes and mini muffins will be a welcome sweet treat.

Eating on the move

Whether you’re taking a few nibbles or a meals worth of food, pack fresh food in disposable cling film or plastic bags, or leak-proof Tupperware. You can even reuse plastic takeaway boxes if you want to save a few pennies.

It’s a good idea to keep wet wipes and kitchen roll close by, in case of mucky hands and spillages.

A plastic carrier bag makes a handy bin for food leftovers and rubbish, and to wrap up dirty Tupperware.

Plastic cutlery and paper plates are also useful, especially if you’re stopping for a picnic. If you do stop, don’t forget the all important picnic blanket.

Making sure your family has enough food for the trip will take the stress out of your car journey. And having car insurance to suit your needs will also put your mind at ease.

Author Bio:

Tara: 
Tara Nathanson writes for Sainsbury’s Money Matters blog  on a range of topics including car insurance, car safety and other motoring topics. In her spare time she likes going to the cinema and doing yoga and Zumba classes, and at weekends she likes hanging out with her six-year-old son.


**This is a guest post I have accepted from Sainburys as part of being a member of their Family Blogger Network. I have received no payment or any other kind of remuneration for this article**


Friday, 11 May 2012

Barclaycard Amazing May Deals

We all know times are tough at the moment and if you're looking to switch or perhaps take out a new credit card then why not have a look at the great top deals that Barclaycard have to offer right now. 

I've had a Barclaycard myself for a few years now, I love their online facility and I've even managed to snag myself tickets to some great events purely because I've been a Barclaycard holder. Now obviously I wouldn't advise anyone to go and get themsevles into unneccesary debt but sometimes there are times when you need a bit of extra help or in my case, like the extra security that paying by credit card offers you.  Maybe you've got existing credit card debt? In which case a good deal on a balance transfer could help you out no end.

Currently there are four top deals available - but you need to move fast. These great deals will close to new applications at midnight on 31st May 2012.

 

  • Market leading 22 month 0% BT offer is now even stronger with the introduction of a brand new £30 discount on the transfer fee (for transfers over £2,500)
  • New 15 / 15 deal - 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, an extra month improvement from the current 14 / 14 offer.
  •  The low BT fee card (fee of 1.6%) is extended to 17 months duration, increased from 16 months
  • A completely new, 0% interest on all purchases for the first three months with Barclaycard Initial, a product designed for those customers who are new to credit 


David Chan, chief executive of Barclaycard Consumer Europe said:

 

“We’re very excited to be offering even better value and such a huge amount of choice to new customers; from those wanting to manage their money better, to those who are seeking to build a credit history.”
 


I often look out for a good deal on balance transfers as I've not always been very good at paying off my bill in full and I think that the 22 month balance transfer with £30 off the transfer fee is a great offer. In fact I don't think I've ever seen a card that has had 0% interest for so long!  

 

"Those looking to manage their balances can now receive money off the transfer fee on the Barclaycard Platinum card, with which they can enjoy 22 months 0% interest on balance transfers. New customers moving over £2,500 will now receive £30 off the fee. The card comes with a variable APR of 17.9% and new cardholders will all benefit from 0% on the first three months of purchases." 

I'm fortunate enough at the moment that my credit card debt is relatively low - and already with Barclaycard but if I were in a position to do so, that's the offer that I would be taking advantage of right now.


If you want to know more about Barclaycard and these top deals, full details can by obtained by visiting their website to find out more.

 

Sponsored Post

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Giveaway Competition - Win a £30 Argos Gift Card



Attention readers! Argos is giving you the chance to win a £30 gift voucher to spend on whatever your heart desires.  

Whether you need an update of your wardrobe for summer, a few new items to spruce up your kitchen or you fancy getting a little treat for the kids – this is the perfect chance to win a guilt-free indulgence.

Argos has a wide range of… well, pretty much everything! For you, there’s endless make up choices. For the kids, there’s hot wheels, Toy Story characters, and everything in-between. Or perhaps you want to put it towards a sat-nav in preparation for those summer holiday adventures?


The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received. The winner will be notified within 28 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available. This competition is open to UK entrants only.

How to Enter

To be in with a chance of winning a £30 gift voucher to spend at Argos, all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me what you would spend your £30 on! Please also drop a quick email to hello@athomewithmrsm.com so that I am able to contact the winner.

After the giveaway as ended your email address will be deleted and not used for any other purposes. The prize will be sent direct from the PR company. 

This giveaway will close on Friday 18th May 2012 at 8.00pm and the winner will be chose at random. 

Good luck!


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Festivals - the family way!

Since we bought Clementine we've been thinking that attending more festivals with our two little terrors is something we might like to do.  I asked a lovely friend who has her own blog at Mama Sunshine to write a guest post for me about her experience of attending festivals with children.  Without further ado, I shall hand you over to Mama Sunshine...

One of the highlights of our family’s year is going to a music festival. We literally start getting excited from January onwards, when we start to make crazy bets with our friends about who will be headlining next year’s festival.  I think this year I was hoping for the Rolling Stones, Orbital, Stevie Wonder and the Stone Roses all at once! But to be honest, I don’t really care that much about which bands are playing, because when you go to a festival with a child, you see it through their eyes and it is less about music and more about having fun.

Image Credit: Guardian.co.uk

My children are aged 7 and 2 and have been going to festivals ever since they were babies. Our days of going to Glastonbury are long gone and our family friendly festival of choice is Camp Bestival  (insert link here). This takes place at Lulworth Castle in Dorset. There has been a massive increase in the family friendly festival market over the past couple of years, but Camp Bestival is the Big Daddy. Over the past 3 years, we have seen the heavyweight, headline acts of

Mr Tumble 
(he works the crowd in an amazing way- and we had a fabulous time singing “If You’re Happy and you know it!” with 10,000 people.)
Zingzillas
The Gruffalo

And my daughter has developed a love of  Blondie and Madness and had to be woken up especially to dance along!

Image Credit: Virtual Festivals

We also had a wonderful time learning to ballroom dance in a sparkly tent, with a live band. I danced the tango with my then 5 year old and a 5 month old baby in a sling and were very proud when all 3 of us won rosettes! Another highlight was the silent disco, where you and your children don microphones, choose your favourite music by switching channels and sing your socks off. There is also a soft play, amazing food, children’s loos, circus skills, jousting, a park and an amazing fireworks display which was so beautiful, it literally brought me to tears. Last year there was a medieval theme and the Camp Bestival Team managed to project a medieval adventure onto the castle, with music and fireworks.

The whole family got dressed up for the occasion. I was a medieval wench, my husband was a monk, my daughter was a princess and my one year old son was a very tiny knight, complete with chain-mail and sword. This year there is a Silly Olympics/ 70s disco theme, so we are currently brainstorming costume ideas. There’s loads for older kids and teenagers too.

Of course, there are absolutely loads of festivals available, which cater for different age groups, budgets and musical interests. Two smaller festivals which I think sound really exciting are the Deer Shed Festival in Harrogate, which is excellent value and  sounds very relaxed with a great line up, and the Just So Festival in Derbyshire, which is less focussed upon music, but has an emphasis on storytelling and creativity.

Image Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

If you are a festival novice, the most important items you need to bring are suncream, ear defenders, fairy wings, waterproofs and a huge smile. Oh and a little wagon, which allows your little ones to sleep while you watch a couple of cheeky bands at night. Our wagon is wooden, painted with stars and festooned with flashing LED lights, which looks great but also stops drunken parents from stepping on your precious little ones.

There is loads of great advice on festivalkidz.co.uk about the range of festivals which are out there, as well as what to pack and survival tips. If you are thinking about going to a festival, don’t think anymore, just book your tickets and start counting the days!

Thanks Mama Sunshine! I'm hoping to go to Camp Bestival myself this year so have picked up a few handy hints - especially the ear defenders and fairy wings.

Do check out Mama Sunshine's blog, she's relatively new to the world of blogging but she's very cool and guess what, she's also a campervan owner!