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A day at Bude beach – Country Kids

At the beginning of the week, I was lucky enough to enjoy a short break in Devon with my friend Andrea from All You Need Is Love And Cake and our little girls. We had a lovely time, albeit it being way too short, and made use of the great weather by spending an entire day at Bude beach in Cornwall.

Equipped with a bucket, two crab nets, a crab line, some stinky herring in one bag and a picnic in the other, we made our way down to Summerleaze beach – ready for our big beach adventure. Amy and Sophie were instantly in their element. They ran along the beach, climbed dunes, collected stones and watched the sea gulls pick up the rest of their sandwiches. It was utter bliss.

Andrea and I sat in the sun while the girls happily entertained themselves and I loved every second of it. Having grown up by the sea, being by the seaside always makes me happy and reminds me of my childhood: the salty air, the slight breeze, the sea gulls cheekily dancing in the sky and the waves crashing against the shore. There’s no better place to be and refuel for the weeks to come!

We discovered rock pools, unsuccessfully attempted to catch some crabs for the girls and quickly made our way into town for some dry clothes and ice-cream when poor Sophie ended up bum first in one of the rock pools. We quickly raced back to a different part of the beach though and continued our adventure.

The girls sorted stones by size, threw them in the water and discovered something that I had never seen before: limpets, sea snails that cling extremely tightly onto the surface that they live on in order to protect themselves from being washed away with the tide. Never seen a limpet? No, but I promise that I’m neither terribly uneducated, nor have I hidden under a rock for the best part of my life. I’ve simply grown up on the coast of the Baltic Sea, a mediterranean sea that doesn’t have tidal movements, so no limpets.

But enough of our little marine biology class, here are some photos that I took of the girls while they were exploring the beach. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Bude beach 1

Bude beach 2

Bude beach 3

Bude beach 4 sea gullBude beach 5

BUde beach 6Bude beach 7bude beach 8bude beach 9bude beach 11bude beach 13bude beach 12bude beach 14
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Parents: How to Pack For Sports Tour Matches

sports tours for children- rugby toursOn tour with your kids this year? truly admire your support! Are you prepared for a multitude of match fixtures? It can be stressful, so it’s important to be fully equipped for the matches to come. Here are a few tips from parents who’ve been on the mini junior rugby tour trail.

Sports Kit

Seeing as you’re hitting the road so your kid can play with their team, you probably should pack their kit first. Many parents are given the responsibility of their children’s sports uniform, so this needs to be prepared before it’s time to go. Know that everything important is packed and double-check that you have everything they need.

Towels!

The great thing about towels is that they are multi-purpose. Sure, your kids will need something to dry off with after the team shower but they can also be sat on or dipped in cold water for cooling hot brows on a sweltering day.

Umbrellas, Blankets, and Chairs

Okay, you’re going to be sat outside in all kinds of weather. Make sure you know what to expect. Outdoor umbrellas can be used as shelter from the rain and the sun. Blankets are fine for sitting on, but if you’d prefer to kick back in comfort, bring a camping chair or two with you. For the cold games, bring a generous sized thermos. You may be able to fill this at catering stations, if you run out of hot tea.

Hydration

Don’t rely on the match organisers to provide your kids with H2O. It’s worth filling large bottles with water before you leave. You’ll need them for the journey anyway and it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Rations

picnic for sports tour

Watching matches is hungry work and the food on-site tends to be pricy. Bring your own grub to enjoy and keep it healthy. A cooler can be filled with all sorts of tasty snacks. You certainly don’t want to have a car full of children hyped up on sugar (what’s the good of a sports match, after all, if they’re not completely worn out afterwards?).

Entertainment

You may be taking young siblings along for the ride, so make sure that they have plenty of entertainment to keep them going. We’re talking hand-held consoles, portable DVD players, books, or outdoor games. You could also give the younger ones an inexpensive camera to take pictures of the match for you.

Pack for Longevity

If you’re hotel hopping, be sure to pack enough toiletries and clothes to keep you going, whatever the weather. You may want to pack some laundry detergent, as some hotels offer clothes washing facilities.

Do your research before you leave. There should be interesting sites and activities to enjoy in the local area, whether it’s a water park or a historically important building. Make the most of your travels; otherwise you’ll go crazy with the incessant matches!

This is a promotional post with images from Ludovic and totoro_friend.

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Last minute Mother’s Day gifts with Bespoke Offers

bespoke offers for mother's day

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m a little disorganised and end up forgetting birthdays or occasions like Mother’s Day until the very last minute. Not good, I know, and that is why it probably serves me right that finding a present with only a little of time left to go shopping takes it out of me like a marathon and a half. I mean let’s be honest, there’s nothing more stressful than rushing into town with no idea what to buy and only an hour of time on your hands.

Well, my dear friends, there is hope and as I love being the bearer of great news, I’m even going to share it with you. The saviour of all your problems is a little website called Bespoke Offers.

Bespoke offers allows you to buy great deals at discounted prices. Simply choose your interests in a drop down menu and select your location to receive local deals tailored to you. Offers range from meals and days out to spa treatments, jewellery, chocolates and more. There really is something for everyone and with specifically set up pages for occasions like Mother’s Day, finding the perfect gift is made even easier.

I have recently bought one of their restaurant deals for a review, but I will tell you more about that very soon. Until then, check out fab deals in your area. You might find a real gem for Mother’s Day or someone’s birthday or, if you are a really nice person, a surprise treat – just because you want to make someone smile!

I was kindly offered the chance to review Bespoke Offers. I have purchased the deal myself to be able to write about the purchasing process, but will be refunded.

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Date night: My “just-the-two-of-us” wishlist

Hi! I’m Katie and Carolin has very kindly let me share this post with you today. So, that’s my outfit all sorted, now I just need to wait for that offer to babysit… hint, hint…

date-night outfit

It’s not very often we manage to escape from the rugrats. But, when their grandparents kindly offer to babysit, it’s nice to remind my other half why he fell for me in the first place. And, it’s lovely to be able to dress up. Here are just a few of the pieces on my date night wishlist:

The classic wrap dress

There’s something about the bird print wrap dress from La Redoute’s Mademoiselle R label that is just impossibly romantic. It has more than a hint of 1940s styling, a cute bird print and an incredibly flattering silhouette. I can just imagine dining alfresco in this on a warm summer evening.

The sexy slingback

Bright, beautiful, and, I have to admit, a bit on the pricey side, the coral cut-out sandals by Charlotte Olympia would look beautiful teamed with that navy wrap dress. And, I could always justify them on that old price-per-wear argument because I’d keep them in my wardrobe for season-upon-season.

The classic clutch

Not only are these envelope clutch bags beautiful, they’re a bargain price. From Lilies and Dreams, the style comes in six colours, which are incredibly on-trend as they’re in this season’s Lego-brick primary shades. I can’t decide whether to go for yellow, orange, blue, red, or classic tan. But, given that they’re on offer at £9 perhaps I can get all of them. They can be carried as a clutch or with the detachable gold chain strap.

The stay-put lipstick

Red may be classic, but the latest trend for lips, as seen on the runways of the London and New York spring/summer 14 fashion shows was orange. I’m a fan of Illamasqua’s lippies as they’ve got staying power, so you won’t be leaving most of yours on your wine glass. The brand’s “flare” shade is the perfect on-trend hue. I’ll be wearing it as I would my red lipstick and keeping the rest of my look simple.

The pretty necklace

I usually love wearing statement necklaces with just about everything. But, for date night, I’ve decided to opt for something a little more delicate. And, what could be better than this necklace designed in the shape of a love letter. It’s cute, very kitsch and it will do the talking for me if I forget to tell my other half this at the end of the night.

What would you wear for a date night?

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How To Manage Technology And Children In Your Household

how to manage your child's use of technologyDespite all our quibbles, complaints and frustrations, technology is a God-send most of the time. It’s hard to imagine what the world was like in those murky pre-smartphone days, or just how we occupied our time in tedious queues and waiting rooms! While we all love our tech and home broadband, when it comes to our families, we need to exercise a little more caution. To help you manage your kids’ use of technology at home in a practical and helpful way, here are a few essential tips:

Set times for internet use

Home broadband is really useful – from downloading movies to watching documentaries and tutorials to help with homework and school projects. Virgin Media fibre optic broadband is a great service, with reliable and high download speeds. To ensure your kids can enjoy the benefits without using it excessively, it’s helpful to set fixed times when they can use the internet. This will also help cut down on endless hours of online procrastination when they’re supposed to be doing their homework.
Balanced use

We’ve all been in those exasperating situations where you’ve reached the end of your tether from a day of screaming, crying and nagging children, and there’s nothing more tempting than the thought of an hour or two of peace and quiet while the little one is sat in front of a popular cartoon. There’s nothing wrong with children enjoying a little TV, but try to avoid using technology as a babysitter in difficult situations. As well as reaching for their favourite show every time, mix things up by giving them creative ways to occupy themselves too. A giant sheet of bubble wrap will keep little feet content for hours!

Keep things open

As your children get older and more aware of technology, it won’t be quite so simple for you to manage how they use it, and your relationship will depend on being able to talk to each other about it in an open and honest way. It’s best to start this early, by exploring websites and new devices together, and discussing the potential dangers and problems you can face online. It’s not just about the negatives though. Try sharing fun activities with technology too, to show a positive side to it.

Chores for tech!

This is a bit of a mean one, but is particularly effective on older kids who don’t want a fixed timetable on when they can and cannot use their mobile phone or laptop. A simple solution to controlling their technology access is to keep control of the home’s wireless password or home broadband password. Change it regularly – a new password every week will both keep your network secure and the kids on their toes! To get the new password, your children must complete an agreed number of chores, such as cleaning their room, or taking the rubbish out.

So there are our tips on managing your children’s use or tech. Hopefully that will help keep them happy and safe whilst enjoying the great benefits of technology.  What are your top tips?

This is a promotional post with an image from Shirley Binn. 

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Homemade coffee syrup

How to make homemade coffee syrupsIt’s almost Mother’s Day and if your mum, like most, is a coffee addict, then why not make her some homemade syrups to add to her morning coffee? She can be reminded of just how sweet you are every time she sips it!

Popular coffee syrup flavours include hazelnut, caramel and vanilla. They are so simple to make that you could create a nice little set for the perfect gift and even design your own labels to go with them!

Here are some ideas:

Caramel Syrup:

  • In a small pot heat 500ML of water and 500grams of sugar on a medium heat.
  • Don’t stop stirring the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Now add in 250grams of caramel, which you can either buy for a shop or if you are feeling fancy you can make your own
  • Stir continuously until there are know lumps in the mixture
  • Once done pour into your dispenser and put to the side.
  • Simple!

Vanilla Syrup

  • In a small pot heat 500ML of water and 500grams of sugar on a medium heat.
  • Don’t stop stirring the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Now add in 1/2-1 teaspoon of clear vanilla extract
  • Stir until well mixed
  • Once done pour into your dispenser and put to the side.

Hazelnut Syrup

  • In a small pot heat 500ML of water and 500grams of sugar on a medium heat.
  • Don’t stop stirring the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Now add in 1/2-1 teaspoon of organic hazelnut extract
  • Stir until well mixed
  • Once done pour into your dispenser and put to the side.

These recipes are pretty simple but work a treat! You can swap ingredients like vanilla extract for fresh raspberries or strawberries and add them to milkshakes for the kids.

Label designs could include quirky names for the syrup, or To: / From: designs! Check out Pinterest for lots of free printables.

Does anyone else have homemade gift or coffee syrup ideas?

This is a guest post with an image from Harold Hoyer.

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Cheap Back Garden Decoration Ideas

A back garden is a fantastic addition to any home, and with summer slowly approaching, it’s their time to shine. However, if your garden is looking slightly more ‘drab’ than ‘fab’, the idea of spending lots of time soaking up the sun out there probably won’t be very appealing.

If you don’t have the funds to make big, drastic changes to your garden, it’s well worth looking into little things you can do that will have a big impact. We’ve put together a list of some great ideas to transform your garden whilst sticking to a strict budget.

Give everything a tidy (and keep it that way!)

tidy your garden

The best way to improve your garden’s appeal is to remove all clutter and mess and to aim to keep things organised. Banish tools and toys to the shed when they’re not being used and keep your lawn tidy by mowing it regularly. Get rid of weeds too as these can make even the nicest gardens look a little scruffy, as can a patio that needs a good dust. The bonus of keeping it clear and uncluttered is that it won’t cost you a penny, too.

Use quirky decorative accessories

You can get really great accessories really cheaply from places like The Range, and even online stores like EBay can have some hidden gems too. Shop around to find lovely pieces, including things like Buddha statues, funky plant pots and different coloured stones to add fantastic little details to your garden. This will showcase your personality and you can easily find cheap things instead of more expensive options. Keep things bright to add a playful, fun appeal, or use neutral, warm colours for a trendy modern feel.

Get the lighting right for maximum effect

Lighting is the easiest and most effective way to create an atmosphere in any space and the garden is no exception. There are loads of really interesting garden lighting options you can take advantage of, like candles in old mason jars, plates of tea lights, fairy lights and solar lights. Solar lights in particular are great as they are child and pet friendly and won’t use up any of your electricity bill either. You could invest in some solar path lights to lead the way to your quiet spot in your garden and position candles around your seating area for a really lovely effect. You can get solar lights really cheaply too from Lights 4 Fun.

Improve your furniture with textiles

garden furniture

If you aren’t a huge fan of your garden furniture but can’t afford to update them at the moment, a great way to instantly improve their appearance is to cover them (or at least accessorise them) with things like throws, blankets and cushions. Draping a large, soft throw over old garden chairs and sofas will transform their appearance and bring them bang up to date. Use bright, colourful floral textiles like this flowery cushion to keep things feminine and fresh too. IKEA ones are great too as they’re so purse-friendly!

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Chicken salad with mango and avocado

chicken salad with mango and avocado recipe

Salad is not really my thing. I like it as a side, but it doesn’t really satisfy me as a main meal (I think I’m missing my carbs), but when I pushed my trolley along the aisles of my local supermarket yesterday, I picked up some mango and avocado and thought “Hm, this could be quite nice in a salad with chicken” and it was as I found out later that day. Amy wasn’t to keen on the mango in the salad as to her fruit should not be mixed with vegetables, but she happily ate the rest of it and really liked the dressing – which ironically had mango juice in it!

If you want to know how to make our chicken salad with mango and avocado, read on for the full recipe.

Chicken Salad with mango and avocado

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts, diced
1 pack of mixed salad (we used rocket, lambs lettuce and ruby chard)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
chilli flakes, salt and pepper for seasoning

For the dressing:

2 tbsp grape seed oil
2 tbsp mild mustard
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
6 tbsp mango juice
chilli flakes, salt, pepper for seasoning

Method:

1. Arrange your salad, mango and avocado in a salad bowl.

2. Fry your chicken and season with chilli flakes, salt and pepper before arranging it on top your salad, mango and avocado.

3. For the dressing, stir grape seed oil, mustard, sweet chilli sauce and mango together in a small bowl and season with chilli flakes, salt and pepper.

4. Drizzle over the salad and serve while the chicken is still warm.

I hope you enjoy this simple chicken salad with mango and avocado. I’ll be linking it up with Recipe of the Week, Tasty TuesdayAll Things Pretty and the Parenting Pin It Party. Make sure to check those out for more tasty recipes and DIY posts.


ohsoamelia

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3 Of The Best Mother’s Day Marzipan Recipes

marzipan cakes for mother's day

Aren’t mums great? We bet that it was good old Mum who gave you the baking bug back when you were a little one. Memories of measuring out flour, helping to mix ingredients, and of course licking the spoon, are a common thread that binds most cake makers together. As it’s Mother’s Day soon we thought we’d offer you three of the best mother’s day marzipan recipes. Why marzipan you ask? Well it is a major ingredient of our first choice, which is a traditional Mother’s Day recipe.

Simnel Cake

marzipan simnel cake

Although the Simnel cake has strong ties to Easter, its origins are intimately tied to Monther’s Day. It was a traditional cake baked by servant girls to take home on Mothering Sunday. A Simnel cake is also a classic marzipan recipe. With marzipan making up the filling and the topping you’ll get an incredibly almondy cake, just perfect for sharing with Mum over a cup of tea.

Classic Fruit Cake
marzipan covered fruit cake

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the best, and it really doesn’t come much simpler than a marzipan covered fruit cake. If you get this recipe right it can be one of the most enjoyable to rustle up, and also to eat. Getting the sponge moist and sticky, loaded with fruit and spice, is a fine art and many are the dry fruit cake we’ve consumed over the years! And if you want to make it even more enjoyable add some brandy to the mix to give it a bit of kick. The ideal treat for after a Mothering Sunday roast dinner.

Vintage Flower Cake

marzipan vintage cake

Nothing says I love you like flowers, so why not bake a flowery cake to go with the sumptuous bouquet you bought for Mum. With a fruit cake at its core a layer of marzipan traps the moisture in and adds its delightful almond taste to this beautiful cake. Of course what really sets this cake off is the delicately modelled flowers on top. It’ll take a bit of practice but with the right tools you’ll be able to make some icing roses that Mum will love.

There’s nothing particularly difficult about any of these cakes (well, except for those flowers) but baking isn’t a competitive sport. When you bake one of these marzipan cakes for your Mum this Mother’s Day you’re pouring all your love into creating something for her from scratch, and sharing with her the love of cake and baking that she probably fostered in you as a child. And that says “I love you” much more than a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates.

 This is a promotional post with images from Jeremy Tarling, Cake Central and Renshaw.

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The personal nature of child sponsorship

All over the world, disease, hunger, war and abuse threaten the lives of children, as well as environmental disasters that strip them of their homes and their loved ones.

Child sponsorship can help lift a child out of poverty and despair. By showing them that someone cares, and giving them the tools to succeed, child sponsorship can and does make a real difference to children and communities in the developing world.

Child sponsorship is also inexpensive. Just 50 pence a day can support community projects that are necessary to improving children’s quality of life. Various charities such as Plan UK run child sponsorship programmes all over the world, and the results are truly outstanding.

child sponsorship

Unlike other forms of charity, child sponsorship is personal. Due to this, it is of even more benefit to the child due to the psychological impact made by someone many miles away caring about their well-being. This emotional connection motivates and inspires children to make something from themselves, helping them to resist the onslaught of depression in difficult circumstances.

Letters, photos and gifts all help a sponsor to create a powerful bond with their sponsored child. As well as this, such a commitment means that sponsors get to see the impact their contributions have made directly from their sponsored child. The encouragement, hope and even love that these children receive transforms them, and can save their lives.

As well as this, such support lifts up the whole community, through projects such as well renovation, improved nutrition and healthcare, education resources and agricultural tools. All of this is necessary so that not only can children grow up strong and healthy, but so that their community as a whole can develop and become independent from poverty.

However, child sponsorship does not only benefit the sponsored child. Once a sponsor contributes to a child’s life in this way, an entirely new world is opened up to them. Sponsors learn about the importance of their contributions as well as learning what life in a developing country is really like. This experience often has an enormous impact, encouraging sponsors to get their friends and families involved in sponsorship, thus helping even more children and more communities.

Child sponsorship is not about a short-term hand-out. Instead, it is about ongoing support to children and their communities, allowing such communities to flourish to the point at which they no longer need outside support. Sustainable development is one of the best ways of ensuring that children in developing countries do not face poverty for the rest of their lives.

To learn more about child sponsorship and the impact it has on a child’s daily life please visit Plan UK at www.plan-uk.org/sponsor-a-child.

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