Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Five cheap days out for the whole family this summer

Last week I shared some tips for finding free family days out. Summer is well under way and although it never seems to be such a large task to keep children occupied I find I'm running out of ideas after a week. This summer break I have been trying to find as many days out and family fun as we can pack in. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the cheap days out we have planned for the rest of summer break. I am hoping we will fit one of these in a week alongside the free days we have found.

1. A day trip to the beach or a forest park. Okay so technically these are free however we don't live anywhere near a beach nor a forest park so we need to factor in the cost of travel. If your in the same boat it's a good idea to plan for travel costs as part of the whole day out. On a beach trip I like to include the cost of a little chip shop stop. There's nothing quite like eating your chips along the sea front is there?

2. A trip to the cinema. Yes you have read that right a whole family trip to the cinema can be cheap! There are some cinemas in the UK which offer child friendly showings. I took Dylan to his first cinema trip to one and it was fantastic! What is really great about these showings is that they are aimed at children and have the basis that children are allowed to make noise. Lets face it, it will be a miracle if your 5 year old would sit through and entire movie in the dark. Maybe that is just mine? Either way it's worth it considering as tickets can start at just £2.50 per person, no matter what age. Bring along snacks and drinks if you want to save on concessions and you have a great day out at the cinema for £10 for a family of four! I have found the Odeon and Cineworld do these weekly showings with a couple of movies to choose from. Check your local cinema's website to see if they have child friendly screenings.

3. Take the whole family bowling. This one is perfect for later in the evening after dinner. It's a great idea for week nights after summer schemes or when one parent is still working during office hours. It's lets the whole family get out and enjoy a game of bowling. You can choose to do one or two games but remember to check your local bowling alley's website for prices and see if they have family offers on. Our local bowling alley has a special night time event where the whole place turns neon! It is worth checking if you save by booking online too. 

4. Go swimming, rock climbing or a similar activity. There is a whole manner of great places through out the UK where you and your children can get active. Everywhere from leisure centres to rock climbing centres and there are lots of trampoline parks throughout the country. Have a look online and see which facilities are near you. A simple swimming session can really fill the day up and everyone has fun splashing around in the water.

5. My final cheap day out is to visit a National Trust property or museum. Each of the National Trust properties and museums will have a different admission fee so it is worth looking into your local places. There is a full array of places to visit and to explore which are great even if you've visited before. There are some great places to go to every year and there is always something new to discover and learn. If you go regularly you could even create a treasure hunt for your children to follow together with some of their favourite spots to find. 

I hope these have been useful and that you get to enjoy the summer as much as you can without breaking the bank. 

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Project 365 Week 30 {22nd - 28th July}

Sunday 15th July {Day 196}

Monday 16th July {Day 197}

Tuesday 17th July {Day 198}

Wednesday 18th July {Day 199}

Thursday 19th July {Day 200}

Friday 20th July {Day 201}

Saturday 21st July {Day 202}

Summer is zooming by us now. We've still got so many great things we want to do and the sun is still shinning. This last week has had it's own adventures. We got out on the train to the beach which ended up freezing and we stopped for hot chocolate! We had fun at the park, movie nights, fun days at home and since it has poured all day we had a movie day at home for a nice slow Saturday.

What have you been doing this summer?

Thursday, 26 July 2018

My Quilt4Kindness Journey with Crafter's Companion for Project Linus { Part Two }

It's been a busy month for us with summer well under way but I have really loved finding time to do little pieces of my Quilt4Kindness project when I can. The Quilt4Kindness campaign is a quilt along from Crafter's Companion which is being printed in Sew Inspired for 12 months.I shared the start of this quilting journey last month

Having never heard of Project Linus and the work they do in organising and delivering hand made blankets to babies, children and young people I was eager to do my part and join in with the Quilt4Kindness campaign. They really do amazing work in giving those children who really need to know they aren't alone a comforting reminder that someone is thinking of them. To find out more about Project Linus and the Quilt4Kindness campaign check out our last post. (There is a link above)

Last month I also got the second issue of Sew Inspired with part two of the quilt along nestled in the pages. After getting though so much last month I wanted to stretch this issue out a little longer and give myself time to sit each week and  spend a little time working on the project. I've been trying to get an hour or so every Thursday evening. I am finding that some weeks I need to change over to a Friday morning since my sewing machine is pretty loud.

At night I am spending my time cutting and ironing my fabric. One of the steps this issue has been to cut out all the remaining shapes from the fabric in preparation for the next issue. With only two issues left there will be more sewing to do. It does mean that I can get on with the cutting every Thursday evening. I'm planning to share more of this journey on our Instagram stories on a Thursday evening too.

There are still two squares in this issue with two whole new patterns. One of the blocks uses the yellow colour in Sew Inspired which I am planning to use the green colour from my floral fabric, it's turning out very hard to get my hands on. Which means I have not finished this square just yet.

I did however finish the first block from this issue which is the Jacob's Ladder block. Compared to the first issue the two blocks in Sew Inspired these are more intricate with more sewing involved. I was pretty excited to try the Jacob's Ladder block, it looks lovely when it is finished and It's not something I have ever tried to make before.

Although the Jacob's Ladder block looks complicated at first glance when you get to work it really is simple. The pattern involves sewing 9 small squares to the right patterns. Four of the squares used will contain two triangles of my light blue and floral fabrics. The other five small squares are made up of four smaller squares in my light blue and pink fabrics. I really like that the directions make creating the squares so much easier. I would have been cutting each piece and sewing each one individually while the directions help to do it all in the easiest way possible.

That is it for this months Quilt4Kindness. Next Month will be a little busier with lots more of the remaining cutting to go as well as finishing the second block from issue 12. The next issue of Sew Inspired will also come out in August with the third part of the Quilt4Kindness campaign.

You can join in with the Quilt4Kindness campaign. Crafter's Companion are encouraging the readers of their magazine Sew Inspired to join in with the quilt along and to donate their finished quilt to the wonderful Project Linus and help those children who need a reminder that someone thinks of them too. You can still join in without donating of course. Grab yourself a copy of Sew Inspired and follow along with the whole campaign. The first issue is still available if you do want to join, check out our first post for the first stage of the project and what is inside Issue 11 of Sew Inspired.

Our giveaway to win one of the great Quilting Starter Kits from Crafter's Companion is still open if you want to head over and enter.

You can get your hands on Issue 12 of Sew Inspired from Crafter's Companion (£9.99) along with the special Quilting Starter Kit featured above (£34.99).

Are you joining in with the campaign?
How is your Quilt4Kindness project going?

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Five Tips For Finding Free Days Out For The Whole Family This Summer.

It's finally summer for most of the UK this week, here in Northern Ireland we are already half way through our summer break. One of our biggest needs this summer is to get the whole family out for as many days we can. Filling our days with fun and family time is fantastic in the sun and it lets us all enjoy the time together. After the first week it was very apparent we would need to find more days out that we could do with little to no money being involved and I'm pretty sure there are many other families who are looking for fun days out that don't cost very much. With that in mind I thought I would share some tips about how I have found some great days out that are free for anyone who is looking. 

Scarlet playing on the swings during A trip to the park. Free days out this summer. Us Two Plus You

1. I'm starting with the very obvious free days out which are always a go to for us. A trip to the park, we are very fortunate in the fact there are a lot of parks here in Belfast that we can visit. Take a few minutes to google your local area and see if you find any parks or play areas near you that you may not have visited before. It can help to take a quick note or list of them all and remember to screen shot some directions just in case you can't find the way.

2. Another one of our favourite days out has always been visiting local museums and although many of ours do cost an admission fee we have one or two which are free. I have found that those which are free ask for a donation, they recommend various amounts however that donation is entirely up to you. If you throw together a packed lunch and bring some drinks along then you can pack in a whole day exploring the museum with your children. It's a great educational day out too.

A picnic spread for the family. Free days out this summer. Us Two Plus You
3. Another great day out with the family is picnic days. Choose a local place that has wide open spaces like a public garden or forest park. Another great place is the beach of there is one nearby.  Take along your picnic and bring some games, bubbles, a football and other toys/ games which are easy to pack up and bring along. I usually let both Dylan and Scarlet choose one small toy or game to add to what we have already packed up. It's always a fun day out for the whole family.

4. Search for local events that are free. This time of year there are lots of family fun days happening all over the UK. You can find everything from outdoor film screenings to fun days at shopping centres and everything in between. I find making a quick calendar in a note pad of the next few weeks helps me to keep track. Once you have a calendar you can search on sites like Families Online and local event sites. One of my favourite sites for us is What's on in Belfast. When you find events jot them down on the dates and see which days you have filled up before arranging all your other events that are here all summer.

5. My final tip for finding free days out would have to be searching for local events on Facebook. In the last few months I have seen more and more local events being advertised in Facebook's events tab and it's so easy to use. The events tab is down the side of your home page on the website and once your there it allows you to modify your search after you choose when you'd like to search for an event. There are options for tomorrow, week, weekend and more, I personally use the select date function which lets me choose which dates to search for. I usually start with a search for events in a week, two weeks, 3 weeks and then fill my calendar. I'll go back and search for certain days which I have empty once I have finished the events I like the sound of. Some events listed here do have a cost associated with them but it is made clear in the descriptions.

These 5 tips have helped me to get our whole family out more this summer and let us enjoy family fun as much as we can. I bring along plenty of snacks and water along with a blanket or muslin square which we use most days to take a break when we find a nice grassy area. It means I can reduce the likely hood we will need to spend a lot of extra money when we don't need to.

I hope these are helpful for someone to get a little extra out of their summer without any cost. I will be sharing some more tips next week on cheap days that everyone will love.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Project 365 Week 29 { 15th July - 21st July }

Large cafetiere of freshly brewed coffee. Project 365 Day 196 on the 15th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Sunday 15th July {Day 196}

Dylan showing large Darth Vader holding light sabor an owlette toy inside a toy shop.  Project 365 Day 197 on the 16th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Monday 16th July {Day 197}

Dylan Playing inside an orange airplane ride.  Project 365 Day 198 on the 17th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Tuesday 17th July {Day 198}

Dylan and Simon picking heart for two build a bears before stuffing the wears with the machine.  Project 365 Day 199 on the 18th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Wednesday 18th July {Day 199}

Dylan holding Scarlet who has the end of a glasses leg in her mouth while both children smile.  Project 365 Day 200 on the 19th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Thursday 19th July {Day 200}

Dylan drinking hot chocolate in Tim Hortons. Project 365 Day 201 on the 20th July 2018 from Us Two Plus You
Friday 20th July {Day 201}

Scarlet sleeping peacefully in black and white. Project 365 Day 201 July 20th 2018 on Us Two Plus You
Saturday 21st July {Day 202}

I can't quite believe summer is half over! We have managed a few good days out filled with sun, fun and laughter. i am loving every second of us being together this summer. This week has included a relaxing Sunday at home, visiting family, our usual Mum's and Tot's and a visit to build a bear. The end of the week was mostly spent at home sorting through some more of the house. It's amazing how much stuff you can gather up over the years.

How has your week been?

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Hello I am D..

Hello,  my Mummy writes about me here on Us Two Plus you. For the last 4 years I have been known as D but that is all changing now. 

My name is Dylan, I am 5 years old. I like reading books, writing my name, Transformers, playing outside, going to the park, SuperWings, Singing songs, playing football, chasing bubbles, feeding the ducks and Disney's Planes. 
Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Why I've decided to open up and share my children's names online.

I've been writing Us Two Plus You for over four years now. Back when I first started writing I made the decision to not share any child's name on the blog. Having been through some child protection training it was something I felt very strongly about.

Recently I have found myself wondering if maybe I was wrong. For years now I have called my son D on here and I have been sharing S's life for the last year too. I've spent a lot of time editing, blurring and removing parts of photographs to avoid showing Simon's neck tattoo which contains D's name. I've edited and re-edited posts that just don't sound right with a hole lot of letters dotted here and there. However I have not been so strict on social media, considering my Instagram and Twitter accounts are used both personally and for our blog. It means that I am sharing their names quite a bit. I didn't set out with that intention but it has just some how happened. 

Over the past four years our online lives have changed, as have we and I am very aware that many bloggers choose to not share their child's name online and I am of the firm belief that this is choice each person has to make alone. I have searched online for posts from bloggers who made a this decision and decided to change it. I found very little and so I have put it off and put it off. It's been there in the back of my mind, a little niggle that keeps me wondering.

As I write this I still wonder which is really right. However once this decision is made and this post goes live it will really show us to the world. D is five and he knows that I write about him here on Us Two Plus You, he knows we use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and he knows that he is online in some form. He asks a fair bit now to write his name. His own name which he knows how to spell and recognise and I've fobbed him off. I haven't missed his disappointment in the little second straight after. He's proud. He knows what his name is, he understands that it is his and that is what we want the world to know him as. That was why we agonised over his name in the months before he was born. It's why we did the same with S and it seems absurd that now we hide it away from that very world.

What you might notice if you look back however is that we have shared his name, here and there. We shared it at Christmas inside a special personalised book, we've shared it countless times online and it's been just hidden enough for people to not realise. You see it's hard to feel so proud of a name but to be so worried of what we hear in the news. You've seen the stories and worried for the children and parents of terrible deeds. It's true that we as parents in 2018 need to be very aware of the online world and we need to protect our children as best we can. Keeping things private and being aware of what we share and where we share it is so important that there are courses on how to do it well and safely. We see it every day, notices to not share names, addresses, numbers and anything else that can identify us. 

We're careful, we don't share too much about where we live, of course we share our local area but we live in a big city with a whole lot of space and a whole lot of houses. We share photos of us all as a family and some alone. We're careful not to include any information on the school D attends nor share any child who's parents may not want to be here for the world to see. I do this even on all my personal accounts. It's important that some things stay offline.

 I'm sure as both children get older and join the real online world that they will make their own decisions on what to share and we will guide them as best we can but for now that decision is ours. Simon and I have talked for hours on how this could change things, on how we should protect them but also about what is out there. What we do share and how we share it. As it stands there is only one place that we don't actually share their names and that is here.  

It's taken us months to come to this decision and for me to get my own confidence up enough to write this post and decide that we are ready to share both our children's names with you. 

Project 365 Week 28 { 8th July - 14th July }

Sunday 8th July {Day 189}

Monday 9th July {Day 190}

Tuesday 10th July {Day 191}

Wednesday 11th July {Day 192}

Thursday 12th July {Day 193}

Friday 13th July {Day 194}

Saturday 14th July {Day 195}

Well it's been another crazy week. We've spent days at home, it's rained! I think our poor little green isle was really in need of downpour. We've been to the park, had our usual Mums and Tots, it was the 12th of July and we ventured out in the madness to see my mum who came to visit the new baby. This week also saw us visit the zoo for the very first time! Neither of the children have been before so it was a real adventure especially when you consider that I never remember going. My mum does swear that I did though. We didn't get seeing the whole zoo and missed a few animals while others where a bit rushed. We did go without Simon as the zoo is quite a bit away and we went with our Mums and Tots group. We are going back before school starts again so I will be doing a big post all about it when we do. I did forget to take a photo on Friday. I was in a hub of baby clothes which all needed sorting since we still have every item S has ever worn! I broke my phone this week which is why there has been a bit of radio silence on social media. It will continue until I get a chance to get a new one when we can.

How was your week?

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