Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Luck Uglies - Book review and giveaway

The Princess has been busy reading The Luck Uglies, written by Paul Durham and published by Harper Collins.  Aimed at 9+ years, she found it had a few tricky words but she enjoyed the story.  

"The Luck Uglies is an imaginative book with adventurous characters!  My favourite characters are Constable Boil, Harmless and Rye because they make a good team.  Together Rye and Harmless save the village and the book has a good ending, where Rye, Folly and Quinn each receive a magical item.  I would recommend the book to children aged 9-11, it has some difficult words but an awesome adventure in it.  The good thing is I learnt loads of new words, like momentum, contributed and unscrupulous!"

At almost 9, The Princess is a confident reader and often reads books aimed at 9+ years.  She did find this book quite challenging as not only does it contain difficult words, it also includes many fictional words, such as Bog Noblins and cackle fruit!  The book does have a glossary to look these words up.  Learning so many new words should help to improve the vocabulary in her own writing too.  Although she enjoyed the story, I think if she read it again in a couple of years she would be able to understand a lot more, therefore I'd personally recommend it for ages 11+.

I have one copy of The Luck Uglies to give away, enter via the rafflecopter form below!   

Luck Uglies was a name whispered around the docks and darkest taverns, places the law dare not tread…

Rye has grown up hearing the legend of the Luck Uglies – notorious deadly outlaws who once stalked the streets. Now they have faded to ghosts and rumours and Rye isn’t sure they ever existed. Then on the night of the Black Moon, a mysterious stranger known only as Harmless, steps from the shadows to save Rye’s life and Rye learns that sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Carrot Cake Cookies and the All-Bran Challenge!

I've been a fan of Kellogg's Bran Flakes for a while, so I was looking forward to trying some new All-Bran varieties as part of the 5 day All-Bran New Challenge.  The idea of the challenge is that after 5 days you should feel a difference in your digestive wellbeing, with less bloating, enabling you to feel better about the way your tummy looks and also better about the way your tummy feels on the inside.

My favourite had to be the Chocolate Wheats, and the kids loved them too.  The pack was devoured in a couple of days and we've been buying it since.  The Golden Crunch was nice too, with a sweet flavour and didn't turn soggy too quickly.  I'm not really a fan of fruit in cereal, so we used some of the Red Berry Crunch in our baking instead!
It can be a struggle to get The Pickle to eat healthy foods and he wont touch vegetables - but he loves carrot cake!  He enjoys baking, so I try and pack fruit and veg into cakes, along with oats and nuts, but as little sugar as possible.  The Pickle decided he'd like to make 'Carrot Cake Cookies' and we added some of the All-Bran for extra flavour and extra crunch! 

The Pickle's guide to making Carrot Cake Cookies

1.  Mix 150g butter with just a few spoonfuls of sugar (must resist the temptation to eat a spoonful of sugar and make sure it all ends up in the bowl...)

2.  Add one egg (see how many pieces of shell fall in when you break it - it's fun watching mum try and pick them all out!)  

3.  Grate one carrot and one apple (must resist the temptation to eat the apple and make sure it all ends up in the bowl...)

4.  Give it a mix (again, try and keep the mixture in the bowl...)

5.  Best. Bit. Ever.  Wrap some walnut halves in a piece of foil and bash them with a spoon (this process can take a good half hour.  Mum could probably do it much quicker but a job as fun as this needs doing properly!)

6.  Add 150g plain flour, a few cup fulls of porridge oats and a few handfuls of Red Berry Crunch (or why not tip the remainder of the box in?  And pick out a few berries to eat while you're there)

7.  Add a little bit of vanilla essence, some ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg (ask if you can try some of the nutmeg and sulk when mum says no!)

8.  Mix again.  (Get bored and ask mum to take over)

9.  Grease a baking tray.  (Look interested again.  Grease the worktop too.  And your hands.  And hair) 

10.  Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray and press down slightly with a spoon. (Don't hit them repeatedly.  The walnuts should definitely be crushed by now)

11.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  (Ask if they're ready yet at one minute intervals.  If you can wait that long)

12.  Ta-daa!  Carrot Cake Cookies!

Since converting to Bran Flakes a few months ago as part of a healthier lifestyle, I have felt slightly more energised.  90 to 95 per cent of the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin is made in the gut and eating fibre everyday is a simple remedy for happy tums!  Fibre is important in a child's diet too and The Princess and The Pickle enjoy stealing my All-Bran for breakfast (especially my Chocolate Wheats!!)

This post is an entry for the Real Mums of All-Bran Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Our day at Exbury Gardens

We've had a great start to the summer holidays, with gorgeous weather and fun days out.  On Saturday we visited Exbury Gardens, one of Hampshire's top attractions, in the New Forest.  We played hide and seek between the trees and The Princess and The Pickle loved all the stepping stones and bridges over the ponds.  

We really enjoyed the steam train ride (although The Pickle wasn't so keen on the dark tunnel!)  When the train stopped at the next station the conductor gave an informative and entertaining talk about the history of the gardens.  The Princess was invited to wave the flag for the train to set off again.  We also spotted lots of sculptures along the way.

One of the highlights was the Sundial Garden, with so many colourful flowers attracting lots of butterflies and bees.  The seat under the wisteria gave some welcome shade on a very hot day and we watched the children admire the flowers for a while.  I think The Princess must have taken a photo of every different flower she saw (as did I!)

Towards the end of the day we came back to the new play area just by the entrance, where The Princess and The Pickle had fun on the slide, swing, climbing frame and playhouse.  After all that playing we needed to cool down with cold drinks and ice lollies!  Mr Eddy's Tea Rooms were immaculately clean, light and airy.

We were really surprised how quiet the gardens were, considering it was such a sunny day in the school holidays.  This may be because the 'peak' season for some of Exbury's flowers has now passed, but it still makes a wonderful day out and I'd definitely recommend it to other families.  

We were sent a family pass to review this attraction.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Year in Photos - Week 30

20th - 26th July

1.  The day of the show - The Princess did a fantastic job on stage.
2.  Building a transformer, apparently!
3.  Messy!
4.  I spy tomatoes... we've counted 8 so far.
5.  Jumping across the wobbly bridge.  We spent a lovely afternoon at the park with friends.
6.  Crazy golf vs crazy football.  Crazy kids!
7.  Fun at Exbury!  We spent the day at Exbury Gardens - looking at the flowers, spotting wildlife and playing at the park.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall