Five years of fun!

And so, it is that time of the year again when my first born becomes another year older. I know I say it every year, but I can’t believe you’re FIVE years old!

A lot has happened in this last year, you’ve become dry at night, we’ve moved house (twice!), finished pre-school, started swimming lessons and started school!

School has been the biggest change this year, and I have to admit, I think we have both struggled with the transition. Me, because I have loathed losing my time with you, and you have struggled to adjust to the many rules that school entails. Now I know I don’t have a naughty boy, but school presented itself with a few challenges initially. It took us a while to figure it all out, but we got there in the end. I hate that everything is such a rush in the mornings and evenings, I wish we didn’t have to go to school everyday (which I guess is bad coming from a teacher!). That said, you seem to have come on leaps and bounds and are enjoying learning new things; your reading has developed so well and your handwriting is fantastic. We are still working on enjoying maths (and PE!) but we’ll get there.

You are still very much an outdoor lover, always wanting to go outside and play football, collect sticks, puddle jumping or gardening, but your new favourite activity is litter picking ! Our village is now super clean. I can’t wait to take you out into the forest in the summer and utilise all my forest school skills and teach you all sorts, especially now I have a bowsaw!

Happy birthday my gorgeous (not so) little boy, I hope you have a fantastic day and enjoy your disco party at the weekend. We are all looking forward to the next year of fun and frolics!

All my love, as always

Mummy

x x x

Review: Sacrewell Farm, Christmas Experience

“A truly magical experience for little ones.”

We haven’t visited Sacrewell for a while despite its close proximity to us; I think as its being undergoing a bit of a revamp. When L was born, I had an annual pass and spent a good chunk of my maternity leave lugging L through the play barn chasing after H!

So when we were invited to come along and try their new ‘Christmas Experience’, we jumped at the chance.  On arrival, we received a lovely welcome and were given our Father Christmas tickets and tractor ride wrist bands.  First stop was the big man himself.  A short walk past the goats, new improved outdoor play area, we came to the drive up to the old farmhouse.

The walk up was pretty, with stars hanging from the trees and there was a real Christmassy feel. The Farmhouse is adorned with sparkly lights and surrounded by Christmas trees, but the main attraction is Father Christmas’ amazing sleigh. If you pose on the sleigh and use the hashtag ‘Sacrewell Christmas’ you are entered into a prize draw to win a family annual pass!

The entrance hall to the farmhouse is lined with twinkling lights, christmas trees and gorgeous animals (reindeers, penguins, polar bears).  Mrs Claus greeted us as we entered and talks to all the children ensuring the excitement builds. She then helps each child make a bag of reindeer food, and explains how you put it out on Christmas Eve.

Its then time to enter into Father Christmas’ room.  The open fire is lit, there is a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and homemade mince pies for adults, creating a homely feel.  Father Christmas is sat next to the fire with a stool either side for children. He was such a genuine man, and made such an effort to engage with each child; asking their names and what they would like for Christmas, etc. Each child/family then has the opportunity to have their photo taken with Father Christmas (which are purchasable for an extra cost). After each child has sat with Father Christmas, he then holds out a bag which holds the ‘magic key’.  

H and L both got a key, and after leaving Father Christmas they discovered it opened a very special door indeed.  The key opened the Elves Workshop! H and L thought this was just fantastic, and even better that they were then able to choose their own toy (from a good selection). H chose a bug excavation kit and L, a puppet elephant now named ‘Ellie’.

         

Upon leaving the Elves Workshop, there is a table set out for writing letters to Father Christmas with beautiful headed paper and an array of coloured envelopes.  We chose to bring ours home to do as H and L are still a bit young and need quite a lot of help. Next up was our tractor ride. This was a nice little amble through the grounds of the farm and into neighbouring Riverford. H and L both enjoyed looking at the scenery and were quite chatty about what they were seeing.

One of the main attractions of the farm, particularly in the winter is the ‘Playbarn’. It can turn what could be a wet, cold trip out to somewhere were you can warm up and have a cup of tea. H and L have been to the play barn quite a few times and wasted no time in running straight in. After lunch we came out for a walk and found a new obstacle course which they both loved (as well as Mummy and Daddy!), we then took a walk to the outdoor play area and to see some of the animals. Despite their pleads to stay a bit longer, we were all farmed out and headed home for a rest.

All in all, a truly magical Christmas experience for H and L and I would recommend it to other parents. The play barn is fantastic, however, my only criticism would be that there were fewer animals to pet/feed than on previous visits and I think children enjoy this aspect of the farm. BUT, that said, Sacrewell are doing a great job of bringing the farm up to speed!

Price: Adult £7.00, Child £12.50, Under 2 £5. This is for the peak periods (weekends and the week before Christmas) and includes the Christmas experience.

Disclaimer: We were fortunate to have been gifted a Christmas Experience at Sacrewell; however, I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Review: The Playtown Role Play Centre, Essendine

“Absolutely amazing! The new place to go with children!”

Wow, I just don’t know where to start!! Today was the opening of ‘The Playtown Role Play Centre‘ in Essendine and it was just fantastic. We arrived eager to go in at 0930 on the dot. We were ushered in quickly and straight into the play area. L and I decided to go into the Theatre area first as it was empty and she selected a ‘Moana’ costume to wear and then found a guitar to strum. She really was in her element.Next stop was the Cafe. L enjoyed chopping the cake, vegetables and pizza and using the kitchen area too. What was so lovely to see, was the children happily sharing and enjoying themselves together even though they were complete strangers. We moved onto the Shop area next door and L was drawn to the shopping trolleys and swiftly began filling it with her shopping. Another little girl was using the till, so she kindly rung up L’s shopping for her which was just lovely.

The Fire Station was our next stop and L immediately put on the fire fighter costume  complete with water hose back pack. She decided to man the phones in the fire station before moving onto the fire engine, complete with working siren (amazing!).

Now you’d think that after all of these rooms, we’d be done, but we were barely even half way!! L decided we would go to the Doctors after this and naturally I was ‘poorly’ and needed the doctor to help me. There were plenty of Doctors dress up outfits and a reception area with telephone. I think at this point I was still in awe at how fantastic everything is. It’s like a real town but in miniature form! (although I guess thats the point!)

Next on our high street tour was the Vets followed by the Construction SiteIce Cream Van and Picnic Spot. L enjoyed bathing the animals and checking their temperatures (in the ear!), but she really loved the construction site. We set out the cones to cordon off the area, used the hammer and built a brick wall which clearly needed a drill, such fun. My favourite piece, however, was definitely the ice cream van and picnic area in the middle of the centre, such a lovely centre piece. There was even a beautiful wooden barbecue with kebabs and picnic basket. We then discovered the Postbox complete with felt letters and parcels (lovingly handmade), L enjoyed driving round on the ladybug and then dropping them in the postbox.

The Playtown Centre truly is amazing, and I’m not sure I’ve done it justice with this write up. It must have been sensory overload for L as there is just so much to see and do and it is all so beautifully laid out. Charlene has clearly put her heart and soul into this build and it is clear to see around every corner. The attention to detail is second to none; from the quality of the furniture to the gorgeous wooden toys! I can confirm we now have the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream set on our Christmas list now!

The café on site sells a delicious range of homemade cakes, biscuits and child friendly snacks as well as an array of hot and cold drinks. I had a cup of tea and L a fairy cake, a total of £2.70 for both. We were in the 0930-1100 slot and my only criticism (if you can call it that) is that we couldn’t stay longer as we were having so much fun, it really is THAT good! Well done Charlene and the team for creating a much needed place to play in our area. If you have a spare morning or afternoon, do make sure you book a visit here, you wont be disappointed!

Price: £6 per child, 1 x adult FREE.  An absolute bargain.

Disclaimer: I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Going Plastic Free….

Reducing our plastic consumption is something I’ve been considering for a little while now, and when a friend at ‘Peterborough Environment City Trust’ (PECT) mentioned that BBC Look East were looking for a family to try being plastic free for a week, I jumped at the chance.  Sadly for me, I didn’t realise that this meant being filmed LIVE on tv! Needless to say, I won’t be pursuing an acting career as a result of my tv appearance! Having watched the BBC documentary ‘Drowning in Plastic‘ a few weeks, I was absolutely horrified at the sheer scale of devastation plastic is having on our planet. Something needs to be done, and I for one am going to try my utmost to reduce our plastic contribution to landfill….

Having attempted a plastic free week, I’d say that time, I don’t think our family could manage being totally plastic free just yet.  It is astonishing just how many things we buy are wrapped in plastic: vegetables, pasta, fruit, confectionary and many many more, To become totally plastic free, the supermarket chains need to stop wrapping everything in plastic just for the ease of adding a barcode. Something else I have found strange during our plastic free week was how much recycling centres vary across the country. My parents can’t recycle half of what we can. For the UK to cut down on its plastic consumption, what can and can’t be recycled needs to be standardised across the country and the information needs to be readily available QUICKLY.

So, what can you do to reduce your plastic consumption and help our planet?

Cling film: I’m not sure how I didn’t know this, but tin foil is a recyclable provided it is mostly clean.  Next on my purchase list are some beeswax wraps.  These do come across as a little pricey, but they have longevity in them and ultimately better for the environment.  Places I am currently looking to purchase from are the ‘Beeswax Wrap Co‘ and ‘Low Tox Box‘.

Plastic bottles: whilst most of these are recyclable, a significant portion of them end up in landfill.  We love our water bottles in this house.  My current bottle has been on the go for over a year, as have the children’s’. My children love their Sistema water bottles, but they can start to get smelly despite constant washing, so once the time has come to get rid of your water bottle, these plastic ones are recyclable!

Straws: single use plastic straws are terrible.  We have reusable plastic straws in our house that we have had for over a year, which get washed in the dishwasher.  But if you are considering upgrading, there are some excellent metal ones on the market.

Takeaway coffee: whilst these cups may look recyclable, the inner coating is actually plastic! A simple solution is a reusable coffee/tea cup. I LOVE my Bodum one as it keeps my tea hot for hours! However, it can be irritating to carry around for the day. I have since found these ones which are great for travelling as they collapse!

Carrier bags: most stores now have a 5p charge for a single use carrier bag.  I am usually carrying a backpack which I use as my bag, or when supermarket shopping I use reusable bags. Try to keep a reusable bag in your handbag or car for those emergencies.

Wipes: these aren’t very environmentally friendly and should never be flushed down the toilet.  I no longer use wipes within my household, I have an army of microfibre cloths for washing dishes and cleaning with. But should I have my time again with my babies (or perhaps there will be a Raitt £3), I would love to get my hands on some reusable wipes. ‘Cheeky Wipes‘ seem to offer the best ones, and there are often some good deals to be had on second hand ones.  As we still use some wipes, I am going to stop buying them and use a face cloth which I have cut into four pieces.

Sanitary products: Whilst I realise that this may not be everyones cup of tea (no pun intended!), but I have switched from the usual tampons and towels to a ‘menstrual cup‘ and I love it.  After a bit of trial and error in the beginning, it really is great and it Is pleasing to know that I’m not contributing so much waster to landfill each month.

Moving forward as a family, I am altering the way I think about waste.  Things I would like to do:

  • Use the greengrocers and butchers more.
  • Limit the number of packaged goods we buy such as biscuits, cheese, and yoghurts.
  • Ditch cling film.
  • Halve the amount of waste that goes into my refuse bin.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to miss our tv debut, here are some awkward screenshots!

Cat

xxx

Is three still a baby?


I know, I know,  it’s a total cliche but I still can’t believe my little girl, the baby of our family has turned three. It seems such a long time ago that we celebrated your second birthday yet like its passed by in the blink of an eye at the same time.

In the last year you really have moved from baby to toddler, even though I hate to admit it. As a family, quite a bit has changed in the last 18 months, I’ve had 2 different jobs, and your brother has started school, but as ever, you seemed to have taken it all in your stride.

You have always been a terrible sleeper ever since you were tiny, however, progress has been made and you no longer co sleep although I do miss being able to cuddle you whenever I like, but I do feel slightly more rested. It was a big decision to start sleep training you, as I knew it was going to be hard. You’re still not perfect in the sleep department but I’m becoming accustomed to having a catnap in a toddler bed each night! You melt my heart every morning and evening when you give me a big cuddle and tell me you love me; it’s my favourite time of the day.

In the last 6 months, you’ve moved into big girl pants, given up your dummy, naps and stopped co sleeping, it seems my little baby girl has slipped away and become a little girl.  It still seems so alien to say I have three year old, and its going to odd now your brother is at school and its just us.

You are strong minded, fearless, confident, cheeky and downright stubborn but I wouldn’t change you for the world.

Happy birthday my little sausage

Love you lots and lots

Mummy

x x x

Forest School….

So if you already follow me on here, you’ll know I have been dabbling in a bit of Forest School. A PE teacher by trade, but I fancied upping the ante a little bit. So, in February I embarked on my Level 3 Forest School leader training.

If you’ve never heard of forest school, it is really hard to describe without sounding like a bit of woodland weirdo. But there are so many things I enjoy about forest school! The comradery that forms between children, the confidence and resilience it develops through risk, learning life skills such as making fire, tool work, building dens, there’s just so many. Forest schools education explain it well here.

Back in February I started the course and boy was I a rabbit in headlights (I still am sometimes!). The course is not for the faint hearted, it’s been a big learning curve for me and a steep one at that, but over the past 6 months I’ve come to enjoy learning new skills and practising them, but most importantly I cherish every moment outside with my children. Now H and L are regular forest schoolers as they are very lucky to have weekly session at their nursery. But they have loved going out into the woods with me and learning / trying new things. They relish the chance to collect sticks and forage for silver birch bark.

On completing the training element of the course, five of the most intense days of my teaching career to date, I was sent away to try and complete my portfolio; 61 pieces of work (yes 61!). I started off with great intentions but as usual life just got in the way and my discipline to forest school wavered. Come June, I was called back in to complete my Outdoor First Aid certificate which was absolutely fantastic. Our Dave, the instructor had great fun making us over during our casualty simulation. I was given a burn, someone else had an amputation, and there were lots of other injuries with varying degrees of severity.

Fast forward to the summer holidays and I started flapping that I was nowhere near done on the portfolio and assessment week was looming. Over the summer, I think I managed to complete between 10-12 assignments before the practical assessment. This meant working for 1-2hrs of an evening after having the children all dat. September 10th saw the start of the practical assessment and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified!

Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th – thank the lord these were revision sessions, but Dave (our instructor) definitely put us through our paces! We practised tying our knots (timber hitch, alpine butterfly, trucker hitch and a quick release knot), making and keeping a fire going for 10 minutes, boiling water in a kelly kettle, putting up shelters and using some tools; the bowsaw, billhook and sheath knives. It’s safe to say I was exhausted after day one and two BUT I had a fab time rekindling my love for forest school (ok maybe not whittling!) AND best of all having a great time with my fellow forest schoolers.

Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th – now these were the real deal, our actual assessment. My peers and I had gotten ourselves a little stressed about Wednesday as who doesn’t get a little panicked by a ‘test’. Now today was going to be a real test of not only my forest school skills but my time management. We’d been split into 3 groups, a starter, main and dessert. Throughout the day each person had to demonstrate how to use knots: putting up a shelter, making a low ropes course, making and keeping a fire going for 10mins using their own foraged materials; cut, split and whittle a tent peg, show how to clean and maintain the tools, teach another person for 5 minutes AND if that wasn’t enough, we also had to heat water in a kelly kettle in a group, make a piece of furniture and cook a course of food whilst managing a fire for TWO hours. I think it was safe to safe we were all flabbergasted at the extent of tasks for the day. I don’t think I stopped at all well apart from to eat all our delicious food. We made vegetable soup (from scratch), Gaelic mushrooms on toast, chicken and chorizo risotto and chocolate cake cooked in oranges with hot chocolate. Everything was absolutely delicious. With Wednesday and all the individual tasks out of the way, that meant only Thursday was left. Today we had to lead a session for a group of children. Easy you say, as we had all lead 6 sessions as part of our portfolio leading up to the assessment week, BUT this was Little Acorns ‘Stay and Play’ session! Now if I lived closer, I would taking my little ones to stay and play every week. Between myself, Abs, Jen, Ruth and Hannah we ran a ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ session for 2hrs. Well, what an amazing experience! It was so so different leading an already an established session and I learned a lot. Being a teacher I’m used to planning my lessons and 99% of the time they go like clockwork BUT forest school is so different. Whilst the sessions are planned, the plan isn’t the ‘be all and end all’, I enjoyed the challenge of mixing it up and going with the moment. I’m really lucky that my children attend a fantastic nursery near to where we live, one which uses a ‘planning in the moment’ system. It’s so so important to allow children to discover things and engage with what they want learn. So it’s ok to sometimes go off piste and I did just that today. I was able to work one on one with a pre schooler using a tube we’d found. We tried putting things through the tube and seeing which would come out the fastest, and rolling things down to discover which rolled the furthest. A child’s mind is like dry sponge and as adults we need feed them droplets of knowledge to allow them expand their mind and grow into well rounded individuals.

Now my assessment week is complete and date I say that I enjoyed it. If it wasn’t for all my fantastic and hopefully lifelong friends, I might not have survived the last 6 months with a smile on my face. I am astounded and excited that going into my 11th year of teaching I am doing something new AND that with a huge sense of relief, a big slap on the back I have PASSED the practical assessment of my training. Now with a kick up the bum I can begin motoring through my portfolio and finish those pesky 61 assignments!

Watch this space, who knows what the future will be for me!

Books, Bakes and my Babes

Well, its been an awfully long time since you last saw a post from me, but I think life has just been happening.  I have been beavering away trying to get through my Forest School portfolio (with A LOT of moral boosting texts from my fellow FS pals Abs, Jen and Ruth!), plodding my way through my reading challenge, new bakes, and there have been some challenges to deal with in the holidays with regards to the children’s behaviour.

BOOKS:

So far I am on track with my reading challenge.  My target for 2018 is 25 books, and I am 60% of the way through so far with about 4 months to go.  I’ve tried to branch out and read some new authors, but my favourite picks so far are:

Gail Honeyman: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I got this to see if it lived up to the hype.  It was slow to start for me as it didn’t grab me, in part because its not my usual style, but it was a fabulous read and you really feel like you are part of the story. A definite must read.

Jo Watson: Love to Hate You, Burning Moon and After the Rain. If you’ve never read Jo Watson before, they are all romance novels which are lighthearted but addictive to read.  I’d say they are relatively short as I whizzed through them, but I think I am also a fast reader.

Louise Pentland: Wilde Like Me and Wilde About the Girl. Bookworm and Theatre Mouse kindly sent me Wilde Like Me, I started this after my Spanish adult holiday (although I took a mid book break, something I don’t usually do!). What a lovely read. It took about 4/5 chapters to get into it, however once I got into it, I really enjoyed it and I was thinking about when I’d next be able to able sit down and read it! And lucky for me, no sooner had I finished it, the sequel Wilde About the Girl was released, which is beautifully written account of a turbulent year in the life of Robin Wilde; a tale of heartache, romance, family life, and happiness all rolled into one.

Whilst I may have read already read 17 books this year, I STILL have a huge (and still growing) ‘to be read‘ (TBR) pile which includes:

Terry Hayes – I Am Pilgrim; I have heard great things from this book, but I am daunted at starting it because of its length.

Jojo Moyes – Still Me; I LOVED the two previous books in this trilogy, and I watched the film after reading them, so I have high hopes for this one.

Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things; I’ve heard good things about this book and despite hoping my ever faithful bookish friends (Hayley From Home and Bookworm and Theatre Mouse) have read it, they have not. The synopsis tells me that it is a ‘charming, clever and quietly moving debut novel of endless possibilities and joyous discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us’. It’s sounds a little off the track of my usual reads but I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons from my usual traditional romance stories and favourite others. It’s on my list, so watch this space.

I’m currently reading Paige Toon – Five Years From Now as my blogger friend ‘Mummy Matters‘ suggested her as an author I might like. I’m enjoying it so far although it has quite long chapters which isn’t a problem but I have a weird OCD about not finishing a chapter. I keep track of which books I’ve read and my TBR reads on Goodreads if you fancy following me on there.

BAKES:

Like all parents, by day five of the school holidays I had already been asked for a snack 3,947 times and it was getting tedious to say the least. I knew I had to up my game as all the snacks I was giving them were full of sugar and expensive. It was then that I discovered ‘My Fussy Eater‘ on Facebook. And I haven’t looked back. Ciara’s recipes are just delicious, I originally bought the book after seeing her wonderful yoghurt bark flash up on my Facebook feed and boy it has not disappointed so far. I am a passionate believer of homemade sweet treats (and I’m in no way saying you can’t buy shop bought as I do that too for convenience!) but I know exactly what goes into a cake baked by me, no preservatives, just simple ingredients. It is great to see that Ciara’s sweet recipes are mostly healthy as they are made with coconut oil and/or peanut butter but there is butter in them too. Whilst cooking some of her recipes I discovered a new peanut butter and just how unhealthy the peanut butter we were using really was. I now cook solely with FUEL peanut butter as it contains no added sugar and no palm oil (which is great for the environment). I have also been trying to think about being environmentally with our lives and I really want to try being plastic free but I need to research a bit more before I jump in. I have seen an amazing company called ‘Global Wake Cup‘. They produce some fantastic reusable cups and bottles as well as backpacks produced from paper and best of all: 10% of all profits go to the Marine Conservation Society.

Anyway, I digress; so far, the children have been enjoying her sweet treats, in particular her: chocolate chip granola bars, cranberry cookies, chocolate chip energy bites, raspberry twists, and oaty biscuits. My husband and I have also been enjoying her savoury meals and my favourites are currently the apple, carrot and chicken balls, pesto salmon and chicken and mango burgers, although sadly the children haven’t been fans of these yet, but I won’t give up that easily!

Left to right: TL – cranberry cookie and chocolate chip energy bite. TR – carrot, apple and chicken balls. BL – strawberry quinoa bars. BR – yoghurt bark.

MY BABES:

I can safely say it’s been a tiring and challenging yet fulfilling summer holiday with the children. We appear to have reached a few milestones with L as not only has she potty trained, she also given up the dummy. Now both of these weren’t without their teething problems; the potty training seemed to go on for such a long time despite L being a really quick learner. She grasped the concept of going for a wee really quickly, however using the potty / toilet for a poo was a different story. It wasn’t until around 7-8 weeks after initially potty training did she grasp the concept. In that time, there were quite a pants thrown away and a lot of “FML” muttered under my breath when I was once again dealing with a poo in her pants. Thankfully, in the last 2-3 weeks she’s come on leaps and bounds and has been nailing it; hoorah! And the dummy, well I somewhat foolishly chose the hottest night of the decade to give that one up, but 6 weeks in and she hasn’t asked for it since about day six or seven. It has however made her night wakings that bit harder to deal with resulting in one tired Mummy.

Whilst his sister has been hitting some developmental milestones, H has been testing my patience somewhat. It often appears that he and his peers develop a universal non listening function the second the summer holidays begin and at times it has felt like a long and exhausted summer ‘break’. I often feel guilty for wishing the time away, but it has felt stressful and consuming quite a bit of the time. I have actively tried not to take them out on big days to lots of new places as I think it gets too much for both myself and the children so I tried to stick to a rule of a day out, a day in rule. For my day out rule, I think we only visited two brand new places and all the rest are frequent haunts of ours.

I think part of the problem is that all they hear is my voice ALL DAY, so I guess I can become a little overbearing and the same is definitely said for both H and L.

This September sees H begin reception and whilst I don’t feel upset in the grand scheme of things, I feel shocked that it seems to have come round really quickly. Last week, we attended his graduation ceremony for nursery and it is all so real now as I held the past 3 years of H’s nursery life in a folder.

It’s September next week and that will see me only looking after one child on my days off. It will be so strange just having L at home with me, and I think that’s what I’m most sad about. Whilst I am (almost) ready for summer to be over and our routine to be restored, I don’t want to miss anymore days with my little H. Some days he still seems so young where as other days he is totally ready; I think it will be a steep learning curve for him as he is such an active boy and really yearns to be outside so I’m a little anxious for September. I’m sure he will take it all in his stride though.

New Jojo Maman Bébé, Stamford

Today I visited the opening of the new JoJo Maman Bébé store in Stamford. It’s located on the main High Street (64 High Street, Stamford, PE9 2AW). The store is beautifully laid out with a really good selection of baby clothes, toddler clothes and maternity wear. I was on the lookout for something for my daughters birthday in October and I managed to pick up this gorgeous little dress (see below).

Our favourite Jojo pieces have always been their waterproof all in ones and braces, so it’s really pleasing there is now a store nearby.

As I was one of the first 100 customers to purchase on their opening day, I also got a lovely goody bag. My goody bag contained an Ella’s Kitchen pouch (which my 4yr old son devoured), a CD, a voucher for COOK, some lovely stretch mark cream and other pregnancy toiletries (I donated those to my pregnant friend in store (as we’re not currently planning anymore) and the best bit was the cool magnet dress up game which my daughter will love.

Why not pop in when you’re next visiting?

Review: ShooSo by Lucia

I’m very lucky to be able to call Lucia from ShooSo a friend and when she decided to put on some sewing workshops, I was instantly interested. Sadly, I couldn’t commit to the initial 5 week course but Lucia decided to do some individual workshops as well, so I immediately booked onto the ‘Zip It‘ workshop.

Myself and a fellow Mum were booked onto the ‘Zip It’ course. She had been to the previous workshop so was a dab hand at threading the machine; me, not so much! I don’t think I’ve ever threaded a machine and if I have, I was 13/14 years old in Textiles class at high school.

The reason I was attracted to this particular workshop was because I wanted a trendy bag I could use for the kids spare clothes in my backpack or a new toiletry bag. I couldn’t wait to get to started, well actually I was absolutely clueless and petrified about making a mistake!!

Thankfully, Lucia was on hand! She was so patient with me and dealt with managing my incompetence and my partner who was excelling! She put my mind at ease and helped me thread the machine myself, something that I think after another couple of goes I think I’ll have the ‘nack’.

After selecting my material and a waterproof lining, we ironed and measured the fabric, and selected a zip, and then it was time to chop it. This was really daunting as it felt like the final step before there was no turning back!

After cutting the fabric to size, we made the zips workable by chopping them down to the correct size and ‘sealing’ them. Now onto the nitty gritty, well actually I concentrated so hard on not messing up my sewing that I can’t really remember all the stages but I know it involved ‘sealing’, boxing, and some other terms I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember! Anyway, TWO hours later I had managed to make a toilet bag come spare clothes bag BY MYSELF. Lucia gave me such confidence to go with it, and was so encouraging throughout and even craftily succeeding in getting me to do EVERYTHING on my own (she should become a teacher!).

Thinking I was done after finishing my toilet bag, I was ready to go home and put my slippers on, but I’d forgotten I still had another bag to make. This time a 3D one! Again, this involved similar techniques like boxing and a new one: interfacing (stiffening the fabric with a kind of liner). I was a bit bolder with my choice of colours for this one and picked contrasting colours. Blues and mustard in my fabric but a pink zip! This one was slightly easier to make as I didn’t pick such technical things (I wanted to run before I could walk with the first one). A further hour later and I had a 3D purse type thing. I’m not sure what I’m going to use this one for, maybe a first aid bag for my rucksack??

Overall, Lucia was so attentive, very knowledgable and made me feel at ease. I’m sure I will be booking onto another course soon and who knows, maybe in the future I may even not get my Mum to do all my sewing!

Thanks Shooso, I had a fab time and will be back.

Disclaimer: I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Review: The Bakehouse Cook School

Well, where do I start! I stumbled across ‘The Bakehouse Cook School‘ whilst scrolling through Facebook one evening about a fortnight ago. To my excitement, they not only had a parent / child workshop, they even had spaces left! Fantastic I thought, and I quickly booked H and I on.  And at £32.03, it was an absolute BARGAIN (£2.03 booking fee). We were going to bake cookies, cheese straws and cake truffles, perfect!

I had been telling H for a few days about our special Mummy and H treat, and when the day came, he was really excited about doing some baking.  Both H and L often help me make cakes, cookies, etc, but I was hoping this would be a more pleasurable and less stressful experience.

Sarah and Evey gave us a lovely warm welcome when we arrived, Evey took our bags and put our containers out ready, H and I were offered a drink which was greatly appreciated. Having just run a 10k in 24 degree heat, I was a little parched (but thats a story for another day!), I had a cup of tea, H some orange juice and we both dabbled in sampling some of the very delectable snacks (what we would be making!).

After donning our aprons, it was straight down to business and we began with preparing our COOKIES.  Certainly not for the diet conscious (a WHOLE pack of butter!), we creamed our sugar and butter, then came the flour and coca powder.  H loved getting his hands stuck in and mixing it all together (something he doesn’t usually do at home, so that was a welcome change). Once it was all combined, we then rolled them into walnut sized balls.  I’ve never made cookies this way before, and it was so child friendly, so we will be definitely be doing them again. H then pressed down on each one with a fork (a little too over zealous on a few!). The mixture made a massive batch of around 25-30 cookies, great for a class birthday. We labelled our trays, and Evey popped them in the oven to bake.

Next up was the CHEESE STRAWS, now those who know me will know I dislike cheese.  I hate the smell, the texture, and the taste; but I dug deep and ploughed through. Another really simple, yet effective recipe. A sheet of pre-made puff pastry (seriously who’s got time for making that).  We laid it out on the worktop and rolled it slightly thinner, a task H very much enjoyed. Once rolled, we egg washed the whole sheet, and sprinkled with both cheddar and parmesan cheese.  I won’t lie quite a bit went in H’s mouth, but its all part of the fun.  We decided to spread half of our baking sheet with some basil pesto.  I love pesto, but there were other options, marmite (love it or hate it), red pesto or sun dried tomato pesto, all of which would have been delicious (apart from maybe the marmite, yes I’m a hater). We folded over the sheet of puff pastry and trimmed the edges. H and I then carefully sliced the pastry so we had strips, then we twisted them slightly as we lined are baking tray with them. H was then tasked with sprinkling yet more cheese over them. Off to the oven with them, next up: CAKE TRUFFLES.

This was so easy! And involved ZERO baking. A shop bought Madeira cake had already been blitzed into crumbs for us. We then melted some milk chocolate over hot water and combined the two. Once all combined, we did yet more rolling and made some cake balls. H found this difficult as the mixture was less malleable than the cookies so he was tasked with the decoration. Which, lets face it, when you’re four years old, is way more exciting! We decided to flavour our cake truffles, one vanilla and one orange, they were then covered in chopped nuts and/or sprinkles.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Evey were beavering away getting our cookies and cheese straws out of the oven and displaying them for us. There was so much food!

H and I had a blast, Evey and Sarah were so attentive throughout, nothing was too much trouble at all. We will definitely be back for another round or I might try an evening adult class. I would wholeheartedly recommend giving it a go. H was almost 4, but I would definitely consider going with my 2.5y old.

Well done Bakehouse Cook School. We had a fab time!

Disclaimer: I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x