Monday 31 December 2018

A photo every day for a year! Week 52 of #Project365

Here we are at the end of the year! This has been my 4th year of taking part in Project 365 where you share a photo every day in a weekly blog post. I managed to share a photo for every day this year! Some were not the best photos but they were photos none the less.

Here is the last week and a bit in photos of 2018! I will carrying on again in 2019. It is such a fun way to record the every day moments.

356/365 - 22nd December
Packing for our secret holiday away over Christmas. It felt like I had been planning it for months.

357/365 - 23rd December
My dad and his partner Sarah. It was so lovely spending time with them over Christmas as well has having Christmas in a hotel.

358/365 - 24th December
Christmas Eve means new pj's.

359/365 - 25th December
A Christmas lunch which I didn't have to cook! There was no dishes to wash either!

360/365 - 26th December
Our last evening away and we were shattered! 4 days of eating too much, drinking too much and walking too much had broken us. We were in bed by half past nine. lol

361/365 - 27th December
Back home and more Christmas presents to open!

362/365 - 28th December
Friends! This is now her favourite t-shirt. She got it from Primark on Boxing day.

363/365 - 29th December
My dad bought his partner shares in a racehorse. It was running on Saturday and it was actually on the TV. It's called Getaway Trump. It ran well and came 2nd!

364/365 - 30th December
Ellie bought these ridiculous glasses on boxing day and has worn them since add the hat to the mix that my dads partner got her makes her look like a crazy person. lol

365/365 - 31st December
Sleepy head. I had to wake the kids up today. They had a bit of a lie in.

Our weekly meal plan. 31st Dec - 6th Jan! #MealPlanningMonday

It's nearly 2019! Happy new year to you all! I had a week off meal planning last week because as we went away for Christmas I had no idea what we'd be eating but we ate well. Huge breakfasts every morning and massive meals every evening. 

The kids are still off school this week with them breaking up for Christmas so late. Yay! We still have some baking to do which we never got around to before Christmas so we will be doing that and to be honest we don't have much else planned for this week.

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - A party tea!
Tuesday - A Christmas dinner. It was nice not to cook on Christmas day but I did miss it so we're having another Christmas dinner today!
Wednesday - Leftovers from the dinner we had on Tuesday. 
Thursday - Sandwiches and whatever we have baked.
Friday - Pizza. We might make our own.
Saturday - Curry & rice.
Sunday - Chicken casserole.

Sunday 30 December 2018

I nearly managed a video every week!

At the beginning of the year I set myself a little challenge to upload one video a week to my YouTube channel. I did great until the end of October. I filmed a few videos to go with blog posts which is great but then I never got around to publishing those blog posts. They will be coming soon so technically I haven't failed my little challenge. hehehe

My most viewed video of the year was Opening the Project MC2 Ultimate Makeover Bag with nearly six thousand views! Wow! Ellie loves to watch toy videos so I have a feeling a lot of children did the same and watched this. lol

I do have my favourite videos though. One's that the girls and I will look back on in years to come with fond memories! I already look at them now and see how much the girls have grown.

The snow days we had in March were lovely. It was nice for the girls to have a few unexpected days off school.

We have had some fab days out. Alnwick Castle, Amble, shopping at Newcastle, Ashington Fayre, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea but my favourite trip out was close to home and didn't cost us a penny. We had a walk around the Queen Elizabeth II Country Park.

The video which took the longest to film was Pug Painting! Becky got a painting by numbers set for Christmas and it took a good few hours to finish, over a couple of days but she got there in the end! I thought it would be fun to record then speed it up. I loved the end result.

The Smoothie Challenge was a lot to fun to film. The girls came up with the idea of doing it. They had seen other people doing it on YouTube and wanted in on the fun.

 In total I uploaded more than 70 videos throughout 2018 which I am quite shocked at. It is way more than I thought I did. Some just appeared on Youtube, some just on my blog and some both.

Here's a peek at our year!

More presents! #MySundayPhoto

There was no way I could manage to take all the kids presents with us when we went away over Christmas so they had a 2nd round of opening pressies when we got back. They had no idea they had more presents so they were a huge surprise. There was a lot of screeching and whooping. I have two very happy girls!

The lovely Darren who is the host of My Sunday Photo has decided to call an end to the linky. I would just like to say thank you to him for running it for over 5 years and taking the time to comment on every photo! It is very much appreciated! 

Saturday 29 December 2018

A family Christmas away!

Christmas is all about family and this year we had a real family Christmas with my dad and his partner Sarah in a hotel just outside of Leeds. I have had to keep it a secret until we got back just so no one knew that our house was empty.

I was stressing about getting the bus with 3 suitcases and being late for the train so my lovely friends husband took us to Newcastle train station on Sunday morning. Phew! We were early for the train but it gave us chance to get something to eat and find the platform. The journey there was straightforward and in no time we were at the hotel where we would be spending Christmas!

It was so nice to see my dad and Sarah. The last time I saw them was in August and that was only for a few hours. I was so excited to spend some quality time together. 

We had a mooch around the hotel and unpacked a little, went off to have mince pies and a coffee and some bucks fizz. hehehe Soon after was the evening meal. There was so much to choose from. Ellie had two bowls of the most amazing tomato and basil soup and about 16 breadbuns, Becky had the chicken and mushroom pie along with Stu and I had the roast pork with a ton of veg! I think the kids both had about 3 helpings of desserts!

We spent the evening watching that nights entertainment, a singer. He was hilarious. He kept picking on the kids in a good way which had Becky cringing.

I did not sleep well the first night. The bed was hard and the room was stuffy which could have been fixed by opening the window! Doh! The breakfast sorted me out though. I had a full English, the kids had cereal, toast, bacon and eggs. We made total pigs of ourselves. We spent the day shopping and we went and visited my dad's & Sarah's home in Scunthorpe which was about an hour away. I have never been before so it was nice to see where they lived! 

We had another lovely meal and a few drinks while watching that nights entertainment. The singer wasn't great but we had a right giggle taking the mick out of her which is so wrong, I know. 

The stockings were left in the girls bedroom and on Christmas morning they were knocking on our bedroom door at about 7am. We looked through their stockings and then went for breakfast which the kids rushed through because they wanted to get back to the room and open their presents.

We had Christmas lunch at about half past 12 and it was OK. Not amazing but at least I didn't have to cook it and do the dishes. It was a great excuse for Ellie to wear another dress. I swear she wore a different one for every meal. lol 

After a big lunch we all decided that we needed time to relax and went to our rooms. Stu of course fell asleep and the girls and I watched TV.

We showered and got changed for dinner which was a buffet tea! 

Afterwards was bingo and a disco. The kids loved this. They were requesting songs and even got up and danced. My dad did too which was hilarious to watch. Kings Of Leon, Sex on Fire is not what I imagined him dancing too. It's one of his favourite songs. It was the best evening.

On Boxing day we went shopping to Harrogate. We picked ourselves up a few bargains and my dad treated the kids to some things from Primark. We all ended up back in the hotel having an afternoon nap. We were shattered! Ellie and I slept for a good 3 hours. Oops. 

We were still shattered by the evening. A few days of lots of food, drink, early mornings and late nights broke us and we were back up in our rooms by half past nine.

It was a fantastic break away. I have a whole blog post coming about our journey by train to the hotel and home. It's a bit of a rant. People are so rude when they get on a train and I have another blog post about the hotel it's self.

It was amazing to spend time with my dad. The kids got to know their Grandad a lot more. He saw a different side to them. The funny, cheeky and cute side that I see. We are already planning to spend next Christmas with him.

My favourite reviews of 2018!

I am very lucky to be sent things now and again free of charge to review and write about on my blog. I think it's a great way to try out new things that I might not usually buy.

Over the past year I have reviewed quite a few things and these are my favourites.

ChewyMoon is a revolutionary, healthy, subscription snack box for children from the age of 3. They help to provide healthy snacks and guilt-free after school treats for growing children...Their snacks are all natural, created by nutritionists and approved by kids.

We love these boxes. Ellie is a big fan and they are fantastic for snacking on. Everything is healthy, tasty and fun.

Whip up delicious treats with this peacock food mixer from Fearne By Swan. Its 1500 Watt output makes short work of combining ingredients, and with 4 accessories to choose from, you’ll always have the perfect tools for your culinary creations. The dough tool is specially designed to create the perfect loaf every time. You’ll always achieve the ideal consistency too, thanks to the pulse function, as it delivers short bursts of power until your mix is just right. It also has a direct drive motor which is really hardwearing and incredibly quiet, so you’ll have no trouble preparing heavier mixtures.

I have used this at least once a month since receiving it. It is a fantastic gadget which I couldn't live without now! I just wish I had a big enough kitchen to keep it out all of the time.

March - Baking a rainbow cake.

We used a a Bakedin Rainbow Cake Mix to make the rainbow cake. To be honest it was a bit of a fail. It looked nothing like the photo on the box but we had fun and it did taste good.

April - Glam Goo Deluxe Slime Pack.

Make slime fashionable with Glam Goo! Customize and decorate your slime then store and carry it in your cool fashion accessories!

Ellie loves Glam Goo so much. We were first introduced to it through my blog and she has since got more for Christmas which I paid for myself. It is fantastic fun and nearly mess free. It is great for slime lovers who don't want to mess about making slime from scratch!

May - Natural World - Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo & Conditioner.

Created with the finest natural superfood ingredients from across the world, Natural World is the award-winning affordable luxury hair care brand on the market created in Soho, London. This shampoo and conditioner are infused with precious certified organic Argan Oil and an uplifting blend of 4 essential oils (Rosemary, Lemongrass, Orange and Ylang Ylang).

This is one of those things that if I hadn't of been sent to review it would have passed me by. Since trying it I have continued to use it and have since bought more of it myself. I still love both the shampoo and the conditioner and the bottles seem to last for such a long time.

June - The 'No More Worries' Kit.

The 'No More Worries' Kit is the perfect way to express your feelings and give your worries away. 

This was wonderful for Ellie. I think it really helped the the transition to secondary school. She wrote down her feelings and the prompt cards really helped. Ellie still uses the worry plaque and it has really helped lessen her worries.

July - Calypso Sun Care products

Calypso understands that applying sun cream on children can be a difficult task and therefore, it has developed an exciting new formula to make the sun application process more fun for kids. We tried two of these products. The Kids Coloured Spray and the Kids roll on Coloured Sun Lotion.

I really loved these products. With them being coloured they were fun and so easy to put on Ellie who usually hates sun cream being applied. I will be buying them next summer!

August - The Thermos Floral Upright Lunch Bag

Made to last all year, these lunch kits boast closed cell insulation and have PVC free, food-safe linings. Spacious and perfect for sandwiches, snacks and a drink, each lunch kid also comes with a 10g ice pack for extended cooling, meaning no more soggy sandwiches and soft fruit. Each lunch kit has a padded handle for easy carrying, and is BPA Free.

Ellie is still using this lunch bag now! She doesn't use it every day but it is still used at least a few times a week. It still looks nearly as good as new!

September - A Tesalate beach towel

Tesalate is an Australian company selling an innovative beach towel. As well as being fantastic for the beach because sand does not stick to it, it's perfect for yoga, picnics and any outdoor activity. It is compact and light so it is great for travellers and it would make a great gift.

The vibrant beach towels are made from a cutting-edge fabric technology. Apart from its sand repellent feature, the towels are made with AbsorbLite fabric. It rapidly dries compared to regular ones and can absorb at least 1 (33 oz.) litre's of water. 

I love this towel. I still haven't used it on the beach but I have used to dry myself plenty of times after a shower or bath. It is so absorbent and takes no time at all to dry.

October - What’s That Smell game.

This is a fab game from WowWee where taking a sniff makes you a winner. It’s the new the scratch & sniff party game that stinks! Guess the scents correctly to win or suffer the stinky consequences!

This is such a fun game and I still chuckle about the evening we had playing it.

November - The Book of Everyone!

When I had the chance to review The Book of Everyone I jumped at the chance. It is such a clever idea. You can create a beautifully designed book about anyone with a few taps of your keyboard. The book is aimed book aimed specifically at the person receiving it.

I gave my dad this for his birthday just before Christmas. He is so hard to buy for so getting him something that really pleases him is a challenge but he absolutely loved it. Hooray!

December - Reese’s Christmas Collection!

Reese's may be our favourite chocolate ever so when we were sent a box of their Christmas collection we were over the moon! 

I am always so grateful for the things I am sent to review. As a family we love trying things we may not buy and sometimes things we have never even heard of! 

Friday 28 December 2018

This week my Word of the Week is: Secret! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

We have been on holiday for Christmas and I had to keep it a secret! I didn't want to let anyone know that we were away until we had got back home. It would be our luck that we say we are away and then get our house burgled. 

On Saturday the 16th of June my dad rang me and asked if we wanted to go on holiday with him and his partner over Christmas. Last year they went away and stayed in a hotel and had a fab time. I initially said no. I knew we couldn't afford it but he said if we pay the travel costs he'd pay for the hotel and the breakfast & evening meal was included. I then said yes but it all depended on whether Stu could get time off work.

Stu works in retail so asking for time off over Christmas is a big no, no but technically he only needed one day off. We would leave on the 23rd of December (Sunday) and come back on the 27th (yesterday). The way it fell he only needed the Monday off but that was a big ask with it being Christmas eve. Amazingly his boss said yes as long as he makes his hours up which he will be, over the weekend working two 10 hour shifts! Eek!

As soon as we got the news that Stu could have the time off work my dad booked the Britannia Leeds Bradford Airport Hotel & Spa for us!

I told the kids and they were beyond excited. We have never been on a family holiday before so there was that, the excitement of Christmas and the excitement of seeing their Grandad and Sarah his partner.

In October I was on Trainline every day checking if the train times were confirmed and the prices had dropped. I had been listening to the money man Martyn Lewis about how to get cheap train tickets and bought two single trips as well as the Family Rail Card. I paid £33 each way for the four of us plus the 75 pence admin fee and £2.50 x2 to have them posted out to us. I could have collected them on the day at the station but I wanted them with me, in my hands when we left our house.

It was so strange not doing the food shop and planning what we were eating. All I did was fill the freezer with party food. We had a takeaway the night before we went away and another one last night. Fingers crossed I should be getting a food delivery today from Tesco!

As well as wrapping presents in the run up to Christmas I was packing suitcases too. My dad came up to visit in August and brought up three massive suitcases for us. I was convinced we would only need two. hahaha, no chance. There was one just filled with presents! The kids had their smaller presents and stockings when we went away and yesterday they came home to find a Santa sack full of presents in their beds when they got home. It's like they've had two Christmasses!

I am bound to have a couple of more blog posts about our Christmas over the next week or so. I have so many photos and stories to tell. We had a fantastic time and I loved spending time with my dad and his partner Sarah.

I have been very sneaky over the past few months and especially the last few days. I said we were having a meal out on the 23rd for my dad's birthday, Christmas lunch out and another meal out which technically wasn't a lie, I just failed to mention that we were in a hotel. I hope you can forgive me for fibbing but I was only keeping it a secret to keep our house safe!

Keeping my big mouth shut, especially on social media has been torture, especially when I wanted to tweet the train company and say they are idiots for selling more tickets than they had seats but it was totally worth it and nice to take a break!

Thursday 27 December 2018

Toys that I wanted for Christmas but never got...

Did you children get all they asked for over Christmas? My girls did well apart from Becky still wanting an iPhone. They still actually have a few presents to open this afternoon which they don't know about. It's going to be such a big surprise!

This blog post was prompted by Becky saying she's never going to get an iPhone for Christmas. Well, she's not unless she buys one herself. hehehe They are too expensive for us to buy. Anyway, it got me thinking about all the things I wanted for Christmas as a child and never got. They weren't as expensive as an iPhone though. hehehe

A Furby.

I think this was my most wanted present which I never got. I was about 17 years old when they were first released but I still wanted one. I'd had a Tamagotchi virtual pet the year before and the only reason I didn't have it anymore was because my mother had left it in a pocket while she was looking after it and it ended up in the washing machine. They were not waterproof. 

Mr Frosty.

Mr Frosty was the thing of dreams in the 80's. We all wanted this little fella because it meant we could make slush puppy drinks to our heart's content. I think my mother didn't by me one because she knew the mess and chaos I'd create. I was daft enough to by Ellie one a few years ago for Christmas. It was the Olaf slush maker. I'd say near enough the same as Mr Frosty. It was useless! It did not crush ice.

Fisher-Price Tape Recorder.

This battery-operated tape player was also a recorder with a built in microphone. The player was sold with a cassette tape with sounds on one side and blank on other side to allow you to record your own sounds. I could have made so much noise with this and I bet that's why I never received one.

Cabbage patch kid doll.

I remember being at primary school and someone had brought a doll in to play Jesus in the school nativity play. I fell in love with that Cabbage Patch kid doll there and then. Looking back now they were the ugliest looking things but all my friends seemed to have one or some even more than one....

Sylvanian Families

I can remember a friend of mine had lots of the little Sylvanian Families figures. I had none. I had a lot of Barbie dolls and clothes for them. Whenever I was faced with the choice of buying Sylvanian Families or Barbie dolls I choose the Barbie's in hope I would get Sylvanian Families for Christmas. I never did.

A Sega mega drive...

My brother had one. I loved it when he would let me play but it was his and didn't we all know it! I asked for one for Christmas for a few years. I didn't get one. I was told we already have one, yes but my brother would either hide all the games or the controllers from me when he wasn't in. All I wanted to do in life was play Sonic the Hedgehog.

What toys did you want that you never got?

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Christmas leftover Recipes.

I love Christmas dinner but I also love all the leftovers too! I always cook far too much so we are always eating the leftovers for days. Here is a few ideas on what to do with your leftovers!

Bubble and squeak is one of the tastiest ways to use up mashed potato and leftover veg. It is so simple to make too!

This turkey Thai green curry is a great way of using up leftover cooked turkey after Christmas.

Pan-fried Turkey, Brie and Cranberry Sandwich.

Sweet cranberry jam pairs perfectly with melting brie and your leftover turkey. 

This healthy dish will be on the table in 15 minutes!

This turkey Jambalaya recipe is a traditional Creole dish using rice that brings a taste of Louisiana to your dining room

Use up leftover Christmas cake with these boozy sundaes, drizzled with a toffee sauce and topped with leftover nuts. 

These fudgy, spiced brownies are great served chilled as a festive afternoon treat, or warm for dessert with ice cream and a lovely caramel sauce.

What will you be doing with your leftovers?