Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Busy weeks full of sun { Our Ordinary Moments }

 I haven't been sharing our ordinary moments lately, not because we haven't had much to share but because life has been busy, school starting back has made life busier, our days at home are enjoyed more and we're making an effort to get outside more. It all adds up and time for sitting down to write becomes limited to very late nights or juggling a toddler and typing. I'm trying to get myself back into the flow by typically cramming a whole post into the 10 minutes I get to enjoy my morning coffee! 

Last week was honestly the busiest we've been in a while! We started the week with a entire house clean, we wanted to be on top of housework since my mum would be around for the whole week and being able to drop everything and spend time with her was going to be a priority, it's the first time we've had someone they can spend real time with in almost a year. Actually since the last time we saw her! 

The rest of the week was spent preparing for Avery's birthday, baking together and of course all the celebrating that goes along with it. I will be sharing more about Avery turning 2 during the week. 

We also managed a morning park trip to one of the favourite parks for my three, we rarely go as it gets very busy in the afternoon and becomes a bit of a nightmare to keep track of three children when they are all different ages. They loved getting to roam around pretty much as they pleased and I can see early park trips becoming our thing this summer. 

How was your week and your bank holiday? 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Changing up cooking with Stasher bags from SaveMoneyCutCarbon {Review}

 * AD - The items featured have been gifted for an honest review. *

*All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. *

The kitchen is one of the biggest areas that cause waste in any house. There is waste everywhere in various forms which means it's a great place to cut down on the waste we don't really need. This month I am working with SaveMoneyCutCarbon to explore Stasher Bags to help cut down on kitchen waste in different ways.

I am sure you are asking yourself 'what is a Stasher Bag?' well they are a range of silicone bags designed to cover lots of jobs that we commonly have single use waste from. Stasher bags are a self sealing bag made from platinum silicone which won't degrade over time. Making them a great replacement for various kitchen stapes that end up in the bin after one or two uses. 

Another very important feature is that all the Stasher bags are food safe, they have met the US, Canadian and EU food safety standards which include any dyes use in the bags to give some their bright colours! Not only are they food safe, they are free from BPA, BPS, latex, lead and phthalates. You can add them into your kitchen without having to worry about how many times they are used, when they will need replaced or that they contain something you shouldn't be using with food. 

All of the Stasher bags have a very unique set of uses, they are all dishwasher and microwave safe, they are oven safe up to 200oC and can be use for Sous Vide up to 200oC. They can also be used in the fridge and the freezer to store food. They can be used for a whole host of uses from cooking and storing food to holding beauty items.

Stasher Bags come in many sizes, shapes and even some colours , as you can see above. Each size and shape has more than one purpose and use. I am going to start with the smallest bag we received in our box from SaveMoneyCutCarbon and work my way up to the biggest. 

The smallest bag we received isn't actually the smallest stasher bag available, that is the pocket bag which holds 45ml. We did get the net size up which is the Stasher snack bag, it can hold an impressive 290ml and is the perfect size for snacks when your on the go. However it has many more uses, we have used it to store blueberries in our fridge when their punnet broke. The Stasher Snack bag was just the right size to fit all the blueberries inside and saved a whole lot of room in our fridge too! 

The uses don't end with food, I have even tested out a great little hack from SaveMoneyCutCarbon. You see the Snack Stasher Bag is the perfect size to fit your phone inside, if like me you have a phone that isn't waterproof then this is great news. I am a mum of three children, who I am more often than not, the sole carer for when we are out on day trips. When we go to places near water I am regularly having to run off after my children without thinking about where my phone is, I've had several close calls with the ocean last summer when I remembered just in time! The prospect of being able to take snacks in our stasher bag to the beach and wipe out the inside when the snacks are gone to protect my phone is one I am rather excited about! Plus it will even keep the sand at bay.

The next size up in the Stasher range is their Sandwich Stasher bags, which hold 445ml and comes in three colour options, clear, aqua and rose. While I could show you a simple sandwich inside this bag they have many more uses than being for a sandwich. I found that this was just the right size for two portions of chicken to marinade in the fridge before being cooked in the oven. 

Taking another step up in the sizes you get to the Stand Up Stasher Bag which can hold 1.6 litres and is designed with deeper bottom to help it stand up. This bag is perfect for cooking with for families or for storing food inside. I have mostly used it along with the Sandwich Bag for cooking in the oven with. As you can see I was able to fit a good few portions of chicken inside while adding enough peppers into the bag. There was still plenty of room for cooking or adding more in.

 The Stasher Bags can be closed using their Pinch Lock seal to go in the fridge and once the marinade has done it's work you need to unseal the bags, put them in an oven tray and they can go in the oven. I put both bags in together, I did realise after a short time that they needed to be facing the other edges of the tray so they didn't lean on each other. Otherwise it went really smoothly! 

I've added in a photo to show the after cooking and the meal that was part of the result from the cooking with both Stasher Bags. I think the only down side to cooking with the stasher bags in the oven is that they do discolour depending on what you use in them. I was expecting discolouring as I used a yellow satay marinade with one set of chicken and it has stuck around, the other marinade I used didn't discolour nearly as much. It won't however effect the use at all.

I did also use this Stand Up Stasher Bag to store left over portions of pasta in our fridge for 2 days while we made our way through them for easy lunches over Easter. It was really handy to be able to see what was inside and not to have to bother with the lids of containers, I also discovered after this that you can write on the bags! I will certainly be doing that with leftovers from now on using a whiteboard marker. What a handy hack for storing left overs. 

The biggest and final Stasher Bag is the Half Gallon Bag which holds 1.9 litres. This bag has not been used for food in any way in our house, it can of course be used for food but we've had fun playing with this one instead. We first used it to create a water sensory bag for Avery to play with, we've all seen the Instagram posts with children playing with small toys, glitter and coloured water, if your attempt ever went anything like mine the whole house got covered in water! With the Pinch Lock Seal on Stasher Bags you can let your little one enjoy the fun of a sensory bag without fear of it popping. We put some small toys inside our bag along with some water and yellow food colouring. Avery loved getting to splat, play and put it on his head before letting go and watching it plop down on his high chair.  Although I do advise not looking away so they get the opportunity to sit on it, like Avery did.

We also found the the Half Gallon Stasher Bag is perfect for fitting an A5 piece of paper inside. Which brings up the other baby safe play, Stasher Bag art! Honestly all my children are now asking to make their own version with different colours. You just pop a piece of paper in the bag, add several dots or blobs of child safe poster paint onto the paper in the bag, carefully lay it down to let the air escape and close the seal. Now you can hand it over to your little on to get artsy without any of the mess. The clean up is even super easy with a good rinse and your hand inside the bag you can remove all the paint before washing it as normal. 

All of the bags can be used for so much more than what I have included, they can be storage for liquids while traveling, they an protect your valuable paperwork if you'll be somewhere wet or for easy access at airports. They would make grab and go bags for busy schedules, sort several bags for different topics or outings and keep them stocked up so that in a hurry you can grab one, add it to your bag or backpack and you haven't forgot anything. The only real limit to the uses of a Stasher bag is your needs and your imagination. I know they will be used as part of our every day lives now, we've cut out plastic sandwich bags, storage bags for picnics, cling film, make up bags (which we only used for traveling) as well as being able to ditch our reusable straw container that never quite seems clean again. I'm excited to see what other ways we can use the Stasher Bags over time. 

I highly recommend Stasher Bags, I can see them becoming a must have kitchen staple for every household. They offer a huge range of value in their uses and they help to ditch all manner of single use items that we don't really need. 

You can purchase all the Stasher Bags at SaveMoneyCutCarbon using the links:

Have you ever heard of Stasher Bags? 
Which was your favourite use we tried?

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Finding their way through play with the Playmobil 1.2.3 Play System {AD - Review}

  * AD - The items featured have been gifted for an honest review. *

*All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. *

Children are constantly learning, from babies they learn the basics on movement, their body, environments, food, eating and so much more. When they become toddlers they suddenly become more aware of their own feelings as well as the entire world around them. They start to explore that world not only outside but through their play too. Throughout toddlerhood and into early childhood they will mimic and learn through play, as a parent it isn't always easy to know what children need and at what stages their play will adapt and grow. Which is why I am really excited to be sharing the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system with you. 

PLAYMOBILⓇ is an award winning, classic range of small world toys that is celebrating it's 30th birthday this year. It's known all around the world and has an extensive collections of small world toys that allow children to play, create and imagine all kinds of adventures. They can become pirates, princesses, astronauts, deep sea divers and so much more. The PLAYMOBILⓇ toy system is built to be perfect for children aged 4 to 12 years. To celebrate their birthday they are adding to their selection with the new additions to the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system which is for toddlers and pre-school aged children from 1 1/2 to 4 years. 

The PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is designed to not only help smaller children learn through play and discover the world around them, but also to help parents understand the different stages of early play easier. The new range includes the classic PLAYMOBILⓇ style toys and sets with 3 specific stages. Each stage of play is matched with toys and sets that are suitable for children starting to use small world play and is designed to aid in children's development in the first years of life . As you move up through the stages into new sets they will build upon those used in the stage before, by stage 3 your child will have created a whole small world they can play with and explore.

PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 Stage 1 - Easy Start

The first stage in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is called Easy Start, this stage includes beginner sets of one simple figure and one object or animal that goes with them. We received the police Offier with Dog set you can see above. The aims of learning in this stage centre around language skills, learning new names, sounds and how to recognise those things both in play and in the real world. As you can see the stage one set also includes more information on this 1.2.3 play system and it's stages on the back which will help introduce and guide parents to how the system works as a whole.

Avery doesn't talk yet, he's quite behind when it comes to language skills, however that didn't matter all that much when it came to exploring the Early Start set. He immediately picked up both the Police Offier and the dog to explore each before facing them towards one another and making a whole selection of sounds. 

After a short period of time his play changed and he moved the figures around, knocking the dog into the Police Officer figure to push him over and laughing while he made the dogs face touch the figures stomach area. He was playing with the figures how we see owners play with their dogs on the grass when we take picnics at the park. He was exploring this connection we had seen through his play!

PLAYMOBILⓇ Stage 2 - First Challenge 

The second stage in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is called First Challenge, this stage still uses the new language skills from the Easy Start stage but builds on them to include some fine motor skills. Through this stage children will be learning about functions and cause and effect while starting to understand how the toys can move or play in new ways. We received the Dog Train Car Set in the First Challenge stage. This set includes a woman figure, a little girl figure and a dog car with a pull ring that attaches to the dog car.

You can see the box shows the symbol from the previous set along with the addition of a fine motor skills symbol. These symbols carry throughout the whole range and mean that you know what skills your child needs to be working on or already have for this First Challenge stage of play. The back of the box is similar to the Easy Start stage and shows the idea behind each stage and what they help children to achieve with those sets. 

Avery was smitten from the beginning with the little dog car, he was fascinated by it's shape and the fact it moved! He very quickly got to work exploring how all the pieces of the set could fit together, move or be used. I think this set is around where Avery's play is currently set, even with the language skill delay. He was happily sat exploring the toys individually and together. He also enjoyed making the car move at different speeds and in different directions which was exploring cause and effect. However he didn't ty to change the play in any way other than seeing if the woman figure would fit inside the ring to pull the car along. There isn't much interaction between the figures or many sounds used.


PLAYMOBILⓇ Stage 3 - Little Expert

The final stage in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is called Little Expert, this stage focuses on more complex play with more functions, cause and effect explorations as well as social skills being used more to begin their first role playing. We received the My Take Along Preschool set which is a carry along set with a preschool building that has a swing, stairs, slide and merry-go-round that attach on. The set also includes two chairs, a sofa, a table, 2 building blocks, a preschool teacher, a boy figure and a girl figure. The set has many moving parts, places where figures can move like the slide or up the stairs that add a new element of figure movement and play to this skill set. Preparing for when they are ready to use the set as whole role playing toy.

Just like with the previous boxes in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system you can see the symbols that show what children will work on and learn through playing with the My Take Along Preschool set. This Little Expert stage of toys will use the same language and fine motor skills from the previous stages but will build upon those for more complex play and also add on social skills as they start to create their own role playing games with the set. 

As with the previous sets the same guide to each of the the three stages in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is on the back. This set also shows you two other play sets that would work well with the My Take Along Preschool from different stages in the range. This gives you ideas on ways to add on to this set or where to progress up to this set with similar toys in the earlier stage.

Now this set is the final stage in the 1.2.3 play system which is past where Avery is, as I mentioned he is around the First Challenge stage. It didn't stop him from exploring the set a little before deciding that he loved the slide. He didn't really branch out from using the figures on the slide, he did use lots of sounds and make each figure take their turn before adding in the Dog Train Car from the previous set and making them all take turns again. 

Scarlet on the other hand, dove straight in to this preschool set, she loved using all the features of the My Take Along Prechool. After a quick exploration of what each part did and how it worked together with the figures or other pieces from the set she was ready to play. She began just how any day at preschool does, at the door ready to say good morning. She made good use of the opening and locking door to let one figure at a time come inside and be greeted by the teacher figure before going off to play in different ways inside. This very closely mirrors how her own mornings go when she is at nursery. Over a long period of time she just happily played all through the day, right up to when the day ended and they all exited out the door before it was locked behind them. 

My overall thoughts on PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3

As a parent I am very impressed with the whole range, it takes the same fun PLAYMOBILⓇ toys that my eldest child plays with now and allows both the younger two children to learn and play with the same type of toys. The whole play system has been well thought out with each piece selected for a specific purpose and for the right stage of learning. 

Previously I would have seen these toys as one whole set with additional sets that add onto the bigger piece. Which is understandable, as for older children this is how many toy systems work. However the unique guidance added by the new packaging in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is invaluable. I now know the purpose seen by the creators in how the whole play system should be used to help develop the skills of toddlers and preschool children. 

Th addition of numbers, stages and how each will match up to skills our small children are learning in a huge resource for parents entering into small world play with their first, second or even third or fourth child. Not only is this system great for parents, it is perfect for anyone who is buying gifts for children they know. Being able to give a family member a toy with a system using stages and numbers means that they don't have to worry about if the toys is good for the child's stage of development. They can find the number that matches that stage in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system and choose from that range of play sets available. 

Which in turn brings me onto the pricing of the range, I was impressed with just how well priced the whole PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system is. Each stage has a similar price braket across that stage for all the sets. This means there is something available for all budgets from smaller sets, that can be used even after a child progresses onto the other stages, up to more from the Little Expert stage for bigger events like birthday's and Christmas gifts.

The Easy Start range which we had the Police Officer with Dog set is £4.99, the bigger sets in this stage can go up to £9.99.

The First Challenge range has a slightly more varied price, the Dog Train Car set is £9.99 but the range can go up to £19.99 for the bigger sets included in this stage. 

The Little Expert range also has a varied price range beginning at £24.99 up to £49.99. The My Take Along Preschool is £39.99.

There is a selection of additional sets available to match the real world based play in the sets we received. However there is also a range of water based play sets in the PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 play system along with a fantasy Fairy based range available to expand their interests and role play experiences.

The whole PLAYMOBILⓇ 1.2.3 Play System is available on the PLAYMOBILⓇ website and at most toy stores. 
Friday, 2 April 2021

What I read in February & March 2021 {Monthly Book Round-up}

 I kind of missed February's book update and I think I was just putting it off altogether. I didn't enjoy the two books I read in February as much as I had hoped I would. Things perked up quite a bit by the end of March. 


A fair skinned hand holing up a stack of two books against a white background. The Bottom book is a pale blue/ green colour with a drawn pink flower on the left side followed by Carole Matthews in darker green writing, followed by Million Love Songs in script writing in white. There is a small angled Eiffel tower drawing on the right end. The Top book is blue and balck toned with a woman's face looking down with black hair covering the side of her face and subtle make up on, in the left corner The text down the spine reads Gabrielle Zevin with All These Things I've done below in white and red writing.

 I kind of missed February's book update and I think I was just putting it off altogether. I didn't enjoy the two books I read in February as much as I had hoped I would. I drew out the reading process and struggled to just pick them up and get reading so I put it off. I hate leave a book unfinished though so I persevered.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin - ★☆☆

A fair skined hand holding up a book with the cover facing forward on a white background. The cover is in blue and black tones. It features a woman's face with black hair and subtle make up looking down with a New York skyline faded out behind the image. The text reads ALL THESE in white witing ontop of THINGS in red writing with I'VE DONE in the right hand below in white.

The first book I read was All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin. A novel set in a dystopian earth in 2082, a time when chocolate and coffee are more illegal than alcohol, water is so rare it is rationed out and life is so very different from now. The narrative is through the main character Anya, a teenage girl and middle child of the former boss of New York's most notorious crime family. Her dad was the one who ran the now illegal chocolate business but he was killed because of it, in front of Anya and her younger sister. Anya is now responsible for her younger sister Natty and her older brother Leo. Their legal guardian is a grandmother, kept alive only by machines after her mother was killed by association to their father. 

Anya falls in love with the new kid at school, a boy who turns out to be the son of the newly appointed assistant DA and ends up in a tangle that is so much more complicated than a typical teenage love story. 

This story summary had me hooked. The general points of the entire book really captured my imagination and while there had been a few points I really did enjoy the book as a whole was disappointing. The first several chapters summed up the world as it is in the timeline, the connections and eventually we got to the point where it felt like we had started to get to the story we saw the brief description of in the blurb. After this initial drawn out back story things got a little exciting and perked up however it died down pretty quickly and things felt drawn out and boring. 

The ending picked up again with an exciting cliff hanger and the events leading up to it got rather exciting. This is the first book in a trilogy and as much as I hate being left on a cliffhanger, I won't find out the rest of this story because I won't pick up the second book. If the other books are similar I think they would have made a much better and more exciting book as one than drawn out to cover all three. 

Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews - ★★

The second book I read during February was Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews. It follows Ruby Brown, who has just split with her husband who'd been cheated on her. She's starting from scratch and is ready for a change with her very own granny annex, a new job as a waitress and a determination to be different and take chances with her life. She wants fun and isn't looking to get into another serious relationship. 

She meets two very different men, Mason Soames who is a free spirit, bold and knows what he wants and how to get it. The problem is, he's her boss. Mason presents the opportunity to give her everything she is looking for or so she thinks. The other is Joe Edwards her new diving instructor and a father of two and divorcee who is kind, handsome and easy to talk to. He offers up something that Ruby is sure she doesn't want. Who will be the perfect man for Ruby and what will happen in the process?

So I liked this book, it was okay but it really wasn't all the exciting. I wasn't enticed to keep reading in the way I prefer a book to suck me in. If I put this one down I had to push myself to pick it up again. It is a feel good romance and the story flows along with a few unexpected turns I didn't see coming.  I even had to stop a few times to think 'wait, what?' which I appreciated. However I did struggle to get through this one and it just wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be.


In March I felt like I needed to get myself out of a rut and enjoy reading again, the two books during February had me feeling a little out of love. I decided to go with a book I picked up when doing our shopping at the very end of February. 

The Second Child by Caroline Bond - ★★

A fair skinned hand is holding up a book against a cream coloured background. The book has a white crumpled paper texture cover with The Second Child written in foiled blue text. An image of a girls silouette on a swing hangs from the letters in child. The bottom reads Caroline Bond in black script text. The right side has small text saying " Utterly Compelling" Amanda Brooke. The right side also has text saying " Spellbounding" Carol Mason.

The first book I read in March was The Second Child by Caroline Bond. It follows the story woven between two families who are left aimlessly stumbling through a huge life event that none of them even considered coming. Two daughters who'd been switched after birth before ever leaving the hospital with their families. One of which was completely healthy while the other was a child with complex disabilities. 

The narration is told through each of the main characters, mostly staying in the present and moving forward as if the reader is experiencing the whole strange affair themselves but from several points of view and mind sets. It cycles through the events from at least two different characters views. The book begins with the views of Sarah (the mother), Phil (the father) who are the parents of Lauren (the child with RTS) and her older brother. We see the events leading up to and surrounding the discovery that Lauren isn't their child through the eyes of Sarah and Phil. The stories line up with the reality of what this event means to them, their lives and indeed their relationship. 

After a while there is new points of view when you meet the other family a few chapters in. The story flows in a very organic and natural way after that to run through each heartbreaking part of this tale of two girls unknowingly brought together after being separated from their biological parents for 15 years. Each character will follow their own inner turmoil as they all came to terms with this new life. 

I honestly got hooked from the first page, I kept the book on my bedside table and would sit up later into the night than I planned every time I picked it up. It's a story that I don't think any mother could put down without knowing the ending.

 The Second Child brings forward a true motherly fear that I know at least I have experienced during the days when I was in hospital and they took my baby anywhere for any reason. It was totally irrational and I knew that but I still felt the fear and so I can really resonate with the feelings of  story. It took me along for the ride and I laughed, I cried, I was scared and I really felt for every character. 

I was however very disappointed with the ending, I was so disappointed I actually shouted at the book as if it would magically change to the outcome I wanted for all the characters. It didn't take away from the book or the story in any way but I didn't like it. 

The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper - ★★

The second book I picked up in March was The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper. This is the story of three women, Nicole, Lisa and Samantha who have been friends since they went to school. 20 years ago they decided to go on a long 5 day hike in the wilderness to prove that they could come back as strong women. Their hike begins with a bit of an incident with another hiker and not far into their hike it becomes clear they aren't alone in the wilderness like they thought they'd been. This one interaction at the beginning of their journey will not only change the course of the hike they hoped for but it will also change their friendship and their lives going forward. 

After 20 years apart from the end of their initial hike the three estranged friends agree to take the hike again. To retrace their own footsteps in an unforgiving trail of wilderness that keeps dragging them back to a past they weren't all ready to relive. 

This book doesn't follow along using chapters, there is no headings at the beginning of each new section. It does however let you follow the views and sections as each character. You see their own stories, their inner monologues of their present lives and the flashbacks of the past they've been running from for the last 20 years. The character changes that are marked instead of chapters bring us forward and back in the story to allow each character to share their experiences of that particular part of the trail. It uses the trail not as a distance the characters cover but more as a timeline of events and pieces to the puzzle of what happened that changed every one of their lives. 

The experience of reading The Geography of Friendship by piecing together each little bit of information to create these two overlapping timelines of past and present is unique. By piecing together the truly terrifying possibility of something that could really happen in an isolated wilderness that is far removed from society and the real world let my imagination wonder to many places and outcomes. It allowed me to consider terrible scenarios of just what was bad enough that it tore three seemingly unbreakable best friends apart. 

At the time I started reading this particular book this was a fear, one that probably all women around the world would consider when heading out into a wilderness for an extended time. However that changed not too far into this read when the news and media brought forward the very real crime against Sarah Everard's who was taken from london and murdered. It brought forward just how close to a reality the events inside this book can be. It brought to life the whole experience in a really terrifying way for me. 

There followed many times during this harrowing story when I had to stop myself from reading. I had to put the book down and breathe deep breaths to calm my quickening heart rate when my fear started to match those of Nicole Lisa and Samantha. For me this did add onto the reading experience in a way but it also forced me to stop myself getting sucked into the story in a way I usually love. Which is why one day I know I will come back and reread this book from a different perspective and without quite so much raw and realness associated with it's events. 

It was an incredible read all the same. 

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - ★★

My final book of March was one with the longest title I have ever read, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. This also opened up a new sub genre of science fiction to me, it is the first space based science fiction I have read. 

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet follows the crew of the Wayfarer and their newest crew member, Rosmary Harper. Rosemary is a human who began her life on Mars and has stayed there until now. She left home after a huge event in her family that she wanted nothing to do with. She is trying to out run her past and hide it from everyone around her. She has joined the inter species crew of aliens and humans onboard the small space tunneling ship called the Wayfarer. The other members onboard quickly become more than colleagues with such friendly companions as Sissix, Kizzy, Jenks, Ashby, Dr Cook, Ohan and Corbin there wasn't really any other way it was going to go. Plus she has the help and ear of Lovey, the ships AI.

The Wayfarer crew take on a hug long haul job that is further than any of them have ever gone before. It also comes with a whole host of dangers as they will enter into an open end of space where a war has been raging on for centuries. It is in this end of space where the leaders of the galaxy are trying to broker a new kind of peace that will allow them access to resources but the peace is a very fragile alliance. They will spend a huge amount of time together on the journey. The small ship will leave them with nowhere to hide and the journey will take it's toll in ways they couldn't have imagined. 

I loved this book. It was an incredible read, I was hooked and I stayed hooked throughout. I struggled each night to put this down and sleep! Getting lost inside this galaxy was wonderful, full of species, solar systems and planets was a pleasure. The wayfarer crew had several species from the galaxy onboard, each with their own pasts, customs, traditions and even languages or ways of communicating. Throughout the book you learn more about each custom, abilities and the ways of live all the species have and use. 

The book flows well, it has a natural edge to the way each piece of information is given. Rosemary is new to the world outside mars having never left and it is the character of Rosemary that the reader is experiencing the book through. The information given about each species, their habits and more is told through stories and retelling of the lives of those on the Wayfarer. We learn through the interaction Rosemary has with the other crew members and from the places they stop along their journey. This natural ebb and flow to the story allows the narrative to jump between characters every now and then without it sticking out or feeling awkward. 

The journey of this crew of course isn't easy sailing, it is full of unexpected events that catch you as much unaware as those of the characters within it's pages. I was caught of guard at each and every twist and I loved it!  I was able to feel like I was aboard the Wayfarer and a part of their crew during every page, that is a true testament to the ability of Becky Chambers has to create a whole galaxy of worlds you instantly feel a part of. 

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is also the first book in a series so the connection to this galaxy doesn't have to end when the pages run out. 

I think March really helped me to find my way back to loving books even more than those I read back in January, I am now finding my way to books I wouldn't have read before and enjoying the experience they are bring along. I am very excited to see what books April will have in store for me, especially since I am already starting book 2 of the month! 

Let me know below what was your favourite read of March?
Friday, 26 March 2021

The perfect eco-friendly light bulb moments with Save Money Cut Carbon { AD - Review }

 * AD - The items featured have been gifted for an honest review. *

*All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. *

We have been slowly making changes in our lives to be more eco friendly as a family for several years now. It's been building as a small passion inside me since and this year I shared how I'm challenging myself to make more eco swaps in 2021. Which is why I am so excited to be working with SaveMoneyCutCarbon throughout the year to share with you ways you can be more eco-friendly. 

One of the first swaps I was ever aware of that was more environmentally friendly was light bulbs, you know the spiral shaped bulbs we all had in our house at one point or another? Well much has changed in the world of eco light bulbs since then. SaveMoneyCutCarbon have just opened their online light store on their site. It features some of the best rated LED light bulbs available and offers more than just products with advice and inspiration on the best LED lights for the right places in your home. 

When it comes to taking the first steps into making eco-friendly swaps I think a great place to start is with small items that will last a long time, just like LED light bulbs. All the LED bulbs featured in this post last 1500 hours which is 15 times longer than a filament bulb! That is a real benefit, buying one light bulb that will last so much longer would not only save you money but cuts back on how many light bulbs are sent to landfill every year. 

It's not the only benefit that comes with changing bulbs either, by changing to an LED bulb you can save money by using much less electricity to run and it saves you time. Yes really, you can save time thanks to the immediate on and off with an LED Light, there is no waiting around while the bulb warms up and gets brighter. Plus you won't need to change it as often, which saves even more time.

I was really surprised when the LED light bulbs first arrived, The selection of bulbs and fitting options available is huge! You can see above that we received a large selection of products including bulbs with E22, E27 and bayonet fittings. The bulbs ranged in size from small to very large and featured bulbs in several styles, ranges and shapes. 

My absolute favourite has been the Osram Vintage 1906 LED Filament Smoke Big Globe which has an E27 fitting. This Vintage style bulb feature a smoke glass effect with a coiled LED filament inside. It is also a dimmable and has a wattage of 5w. This bulb is really large at almost double the length of a standard bulb size, it makes for a beautiful feature light. It would be perfect in a living room, dining room or even a hall, I decided to put it up as a feature in our bedroom paired with a low hung light fitting which allows the light to hang over my bedside table. You can see above it makes quite the statement and with the dimmable feature it make for a perfect reading light since it has a warm white light it is relaxing and calming, just what you need if you read late at night in bed like me.

We also received another Vintage style bulb from the Osram range which is the Vintage 1906 LED Filament Candle in Gold. This Vintage bulb features a beautiful spiral glass design which is unique and would be perfect for more decorative style light fittings like chandeliers or open/ glass wall sconces or fittings. You can see the unique design on the bulb above as well as the extra warm light it gives off, great for a warming atmosphere in a room. This bulb features a wattage of 2.5W and is energy rated as  A++ making it really cost effective to run too. What is not to love?

The smallest LED bulb was the Osram Parathom LED Filament bulb which had an E14 fitting and gives off a warm white light. The wattage is 4w and this also features an A++ engery rating. I was surprised by just how small this bulb is, you can see it compared to my hand in the photo above. The small size makes this better for smaller lights that give a nice decorative look while still giving off a good glow of light when being used, it would be great for small desk spaces or places where you don't want the lights to be a feature but still be functional. 

The final Osram light bulb was the Parathom LED Filament Bulb which is around the same size a normal light bulb, it also looks almost the same as a normal filament bulb with the same shape, opaqueness and would be the perfect first switch for anyone who is nervous about how LED lights might look in your home for the first time. I like a warm white tone to a light that is used in various rooms around the house which is where this bulb would be perfect, halls, living room, dinning room or even in bedrooms. This 4W bulb is also energy rated as A++. 

We also received a Philips Scene Switch 3 step dim bulb which is the final E22 fitting but has a very unique feature, this bulb will turn your normal light switches into a dimmable light! You won't need ant extra fancy equipment to be installed, the dim feature is accessed by turning off and on your normal light switch, This particular light bulb was more difficult to photograph to show the change in light temperate and brightness but you can see the change above with the first setting being at 100% brightness on the right, at 40% in the middle and at 10%  to the left. This bulb is a 2w, 4w and 8w with an energy rating of A+ and gives off a warm white glow which grows warmer when dimmed down. This bulb would be perfect in a living room. 

One last bulb was included in our box from SaveMoneyCutCarbon, it featured a bayonet fitting which is what most of our built in lights use. This was a Philips CorePro LED bulb in frosted, this is the bulb I instantly think of when someone says LED bulb lighting, It features a more white opaque look than that of a filament style light bulb. This is a 8W bulb with a warm white light and is perfect for any room in the home. 

The final product was not so much a bulb as an entire light fitting. That is the LEDvance battery powered Linear Cabinet Light which is 200mm long and features a sensor to detect both light and movement. This easy to install cabinet light comes with everything you need including the magnetic strip, wall plugs and screws as well as easy to follow photo instructions on the pack. 

To install the LEDvance Linear Cabinet Light you remove the magnetic strip from the back and install by either screwing in the plugs and screws or pealing off the sticking back from the strip and pushing onto the underside of your cabinet. Once attached you can place the light over the magnet connecting it to the metal panel built in to the underside of the light. 

I love how quick and easy this was to install while still allowing me to get easy access when the battery needs changed again. I also really like that this light is more of a bright white light as this is the perfect kind of light tone you want in a kitchen where you will cooking and baking. 

You can purchase all the lights featured from SaveMoneyCutCarbon: Vintage LED Filament Smoke Big Globe £22.95Vintage LED Filament Candle in Gold £3.45Osram Parathom LED Filament Bulb £3.45Osram Parathom LED Filament Bulb E27 £1.45, Philips CorePro LED bulb in frosted £2.75 and LEDvance battery powered Linear Cabinet Light £16.80 

Do you use LED lighting in your home? 

If you do I'd love to know what your favourite bulb was?

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Making the most of the smallest things { Our Ordinary Moments }

 It's been a strange few weeks, life has been half normal since Dylan's birthday at the start of the month. However I've felt like the rest of us are in this suspended limbo waiting for normal life to fully begin again. 

We've been trying to help ourselves out of this strange feeling by making the most of everything we are doing. Dylan's birthday balloons stayed up a whole week, which probably doesn't sound strange for anyone else but every night after a birthday in our house Simon goes around popping balloons because he hates them. Our arch lasted 7 times as long as we usually expect it to and so we made the best of it. 

We had a full on photo session with each child having a turn to play in the middle of the arch on my bed. It was simple, we stayed at home and they had an absolute blast. They played for 2 hours! My phone is full of wonderful photos of smiling children and it helped me to see we can enjoy all the small things a little bit more. Something we've all been realising this last year. 

What are your favourite small things that you try to make the most out of? 

Friday, 12 March 2021

Our Favourite Books - Postman Bear & Hide and Seek Pig by Julia Donaldson

 Bedtime stories are a huge part of our daily routine, it's the steady constant at every bedtime that helps us all calm down after any kind of day. Some days the stories are long, some days they are short and some days there is just more than one. Usually the days with more than one story are short books made mostly for younger children but that are so well loved we still enjoy them now. This month involved two of those books. 

A girl is sat on a wooden floor in front of a white wall. She has a black dress with glittery stars and planets all over it.  The girl has blonde hair and blue eyes, she is smiling at the camera with her hands held out near her shoulders. She has a book floating above each hand, one reads Hide and Seek Pig with a pig sneaking illustration on the left, the right side has a book that says Postman Bear in red and has an image of a bear holding letters on. Above each book is the same book open. It shows images from inside the book with the left showing a washing line with colourful clothing and the pig stood beside it. the right book shows the bear walking through grass with a letter in his hand and a crow behind him. Above these again is the same pages as the book is more closed over. Above this the same book is closed showing the back with the blerb just out of focus. All the books are surrounded by tiny white glitter like diamond and circle shapes to look like magic.

The most loved books in our bookcase during February have been Postman Bear & Hide and Seek Pig by Julia Donaldson and  illustrated by Axel Scheffler. They come from the same set of books called Tales from Acorn Wood and are of course little lift the flap books that children all adore. Both Postman Bear & Hide and Seek Pig are short books with just one sentence on each page. This makes them perfect for toddlers and older children as they don't need to keep their attention for long. Having a shorter book as a favourite has let Avery get more involved with our bedtime reading this last month. 

A book sits on a white surface. The cover says Postman Bear in large red lettering. Below it says "a lift-the-flap book" in the same red. An illustration of a bear holding up letters as he walks along a path with a few green plants around and an orange oval as the background. The bottom has text that reads "The Creators of THE GRUFFALO" Underneath reads Julia Donaldson to the left with Axel Scheffler to the right.

Out of the two I think the most loved is Postman Bear, the story follows bear as he prepares for his birthday and invites his friends to a special birthday party. Throughout the book you meet Bear and his three friends, find out where they live and read along as Bear prepares for a party. Each page includes it's own lift the flap from letters to open through to doors to peek behind. 

A book sits on a white surface. The cover says "Hide and Seek Pig" in large green lettering. Below it says "a lift-the-flap book" in the same green. An illustration of a pig wearing yellow dress with flowers all over under a white apron while sneaking past a green bush to the left of the pig. A white hen is peeking out from the left of the bush. The ground beneath them is grassy with a green oval as a background behind the image. The bottom has text that reads "The Creators of THE GRUFFALO" Underneath reads Julia Donaldson to the left with Axel Scheffler to the right.

Hide and Seek Pig follows along a different story, we read along with Pig as she plays a game of hide and seek with Hen. Hen is really good at hide and seek, we meet many other animals along the way, all peeking out or seen through various objects in Acorn Wood. Pig looks for Hen everywhere, it's only when Pig goes to have their picnic that she finds Hen hiding inside. Just like Postman Bear each page has a lift the flap to open. 

An up close photo of a frog wearing brown trousers, a  shirt with green and red check lines under a green vest jacket is holding a letter that reads Bear.An up close photo of a frog wearing brown trousers, a  shirt with green and red check lines under a green vest jacket is holding an open letter that reads "come to my party".

These books are lovely board books with firm pages and nice thick flaps to lift up. They have a little area to put your finger in to open the flap easily, this also means that you have to look for the flap well to find it as it sits flush with the page. It really helps to add a bit more to the book for toddlers and younger children.

An up close image of a book open on a page with the illustration of a animals in an orchard full of fallen apples. to the left stands an orange squirrel wearing brown shorts, a white half length sleeve top and a green necktie, beside a brown rabbit wearing a green pinafore with white polkadots on and a white t-shirt underneath. A big pail of red and yellow apples sit in the middle, to the right stands a pig in a yellow dres with red flowers all over and a white apron over the top. Just in front of the pig stands a crow wearing a red shirt with blue overalls. Below the image reads " Maybe Hen's behind this pail. Can you see a furry tail?"

We have long been fans of Julia Donaldson and are also huge fans of Axel Scheffler as an illustrator (and author too) so having these board books created by the wonderful duo is great. All our other books by the two are for older children and have proper paper pages which just aren't appropriate for a one year old. Axel Scheffler has brought his unique illustration into the two stories and brought each character to life in the way we know and love. His use of bright bold colours, shapes to create detail and textures really add to the books in the Tales from Acorn Wood series. 

If your searching for books that are perfect for starting to read together with you baby or books for more independent reading for toddlers then these will be perfect. They age well, children continue to love them after the toddler years and the idea of a lift the flap book remains exciting long after they leave their first years of life. My 8 year old still loves both Postman Bear & Hide and Seek Pig. He's often found reading them to his younger siblings now. 

You can purchase Postman Bear for £4.99 and Hide and Seek Pig for £6.99

What have been your favourite books at bedtime recently?

Thursday, 11 March 2021

8 years of you - An open letter to my eldest son

 Dear Dylan,

I say this every year as I sit down close to your birthday to type out my thoughts to you as I reflect on another year with you, however this year I think more than ever I truly appreciate the year we've had together. It's not been an easy one that's for sure. Life has changed this year, as I typed up your last letter the world was doing good and now it's all changed. We spent most of this year at home, we've just celebrated your birthday without friends or family and made the best of it we could. I can't quite believe a whole year has now past and we've had 8 years of you in our lives, brightening our days and sharing your world with us.

You've been a superstar, you've learnt at home for 6 months out of the year and your doing all we can ask, we've played, grown, changed and stuck together. Watching each day as you've changed, learnt and been amazed by science experiments that we usually wouldn't see has been wonderful, a small perk to the stress of juggling learning at home with everything else. 

This year we've saw you protect both Scarlet and Avery, teach them, play together and grow your bond more than ever before. When you see something cool you immediately want them to see, you look for them when your down and together you seem so much happier. Your the best big brother they could wish for! 

Your also becoming so independent, you just go off and get what you need, when you want it, no more asking for small tasks to be done by us and it's such a huge milestone for me to watch you grow into a fully independent boy, embarrassed by us fussing or trying to help. A bittersweet realization that you won't need us in the same ways anymore.

We can still see your personality changing, your love of books still growing as you enter the world of novel reading and the true feeling of getting lost in a great book is sparking inside you. Right now your enjoying reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid but our book case is ever expanding to meet your changing interests and needs.

I can't wait to see how you change over the next year, how your taste in books grows with you, if you still find your imagination that never flails and what you will be like. Will you still adore Pokémon like you do now? Will you still be kind, thoughtful and considerate of others? I hope you will, I hope we see more and more of your strong and independent personality that is caring and kind. I hope your still excited by magic potions made of food colouring and water that make you believe your magically strong or wise or invisible because I hope you hold onto your wonderful imagination forever.

Love Mummy


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