Recently we were sent a selection of tea from teapigs who are a green and ethical company, with a massive range of good quality teas. All their teas are real whole leaf teas and come in special “tea temples” which give you the same convenience a tea bag would, but allow enough room for the whole tea leaves to infuse.
We made some delicious iced tea with these, and I will share with you the easy method how to make iced tea.
The people at teapigs wanted us to explore how their teas could be used in different ways, especially as ingredients for iced teas and cocktails. In the Summer when we get sunny days, iced tea is so refreshing. I love iced tea but for some reason it had never occurred to me to have a go at making it myself! It’s a great alternative to drinking juice or lemonade on hot days, as it’s all natural and less than 3 calories per cup! It has been really handy to just make a jug and keep it available in the fridge, and that also works out a lot cheaper than buying ready made bottles of iced tea from the newsagents.
As you can see above, the method of making iced tea is pretty simple:
How to make iced tea
Place your tea temples / tea bags into a jug or glass, one per person
Cover with hot water
Leave to brew for 3 minutes
Top with cold water and ice
Sweeten if you like, with elderflower cordial or honey
Garnish with fresh fruit
Have a look here to see all the teas which are recommended for iced tea. My favourite is the super fruits.
If you fancy making some iced tea of your own, I am happy to say teapigs have given me a code to treat my readers to 15% off* at www.teapigs.co.uk using the code BLOGGERS12
(*enter code at checkout. discount does not apply to 80g matcha tins or gifts and cheeky deals as these are already discounted)
Over the Bank Holiday with the weather being so nice for a change, we really wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before – somewhere outdoors, and preferably near the sea. My husband said he fancied seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, so we checked the journey time, which was only 2 hours from London (a little less than I would have guessed) and decided to set off the next morning for our day out in Dover.
When choosing a day out, I normally look carefully and try to choose somewhere with loads of children’s activities and features to keep the little ones entertained, but this trip was quite refreshing because it was more back to basics, and had no all singing all dancing flashing lights and entertainment for the boys, just sun, sea, and fresh air – and they absolutely loved it. It felt like a great adventure for them, and I’m thinking we should do this kind of trip more!
We set off in the morning and enjoyed the drive down as it was such a sunny day, and there’s lots of countryside and scenery to enjoy en-route so the 2 hours drive went pretty quick. As we approached Dover we could see the sea in the distance, and drove past the ports which the boys found really exciting seeing all the ferries coming and going.
There was a massive queue of traffic to get into the car park for the White Cliffs, so we decided to go along the road a little to St Margaret’s Bay, a small village nearby, where we could stop and have some lunch and go along to South Foreland Lighthouse
Here are the boys having lunch at the tea room at the Pines Gardens at St Margaret’s Bay. The lunch was lovely. The bread of the cheese baguettes was so nice and soft.
We didn’t have a chance to go into the gardens themselves as we wanted to get on towards the lighthouse but we did have a quick look at the fish pond just outside.
The next task was to try and find somewhere to park where we did not have too far to get to the lighthouse. Some of the information we had found suggested walking directly from St Margaret’s Bay for a one mile walk compared to a 2 mile walk if you go along the cliff edge from the Visitor Centre at the White Cliffs. One mile sounds okay, but we soon noticed the path was pretty uneven and hilly, and with two kids to push in a buggy, it didn’t look like it was going to be ideal. Luckily we managed to find somewhere a bit nearer. There is a road called Lighthouse Road which is marked as having no access to the lighthouse, but if you go down it then you can park much closer with only a small footpath to go down. This is definitely a much easier option for families with small children.
The boys were really excited to get going!
Lovely to be out in the countryside surrounded by so much greenery and open space.
So very soon we arrived at South Foreland Lighthouse, which is a National Trust property. It is right by the sea and you have amazing views while walking around nearby the lighthouse.
My little one looking out over the sea. You can see loads of ships coming out, and see all the way over to France. It was very relaxing to sit and look out and feel the sea breeze.
To go up to the top of the lighthouse there’s a charge of 5 pounds per adult. We did this but to be honest that may not have been worth it for us on this occasion, because we didn’t stay up there too long. It was not easy keeping an eye on the little ones up there and I worry they will end up throwing themselves off the balcony! For those with slightly older children, you can go on a tour where they will tell you all about the working of the lighthouse as you go up. The guides were friendly and seemed willing to tailor this to however much level of detail will be suitable for your family and the age groups you have with you.
The boys were mainly happier just exploring and running around in the area outside. There is a little boat which children can get inside and play about on, which they loved especially the 3 year old. They also have kites freely available for any visitors to borrow and use. They are just kept outside the shop in a little treasure chest and you just help yourself!
I love kites! Seeing them flying in the blue sky on a sunny day is just such a nice sight, but somehow I had not actually taken the boys to fly kites before! They were really excited to have a go, and after a few attempts, we managed to get it going.
We also took the chance to have a cup of tea and some scones and cakes while we were there. It came with proper china crockery which is a nice touch! The boys had Victoria Sponge cake which they enjoyed.
We still hadn’t been to see the White Cliffs by this point, and it was starting to get a bit late. We couldn’t go without seeing those as its a major landmark! So we went back over and by that time the car park situation was much better.
It’s a beautiful view! I love these pics my husband took of my 4 year old at the cliffs.
Soon it was time to start heading back home, but we had a great day. I would definitely recommend the area for any families wanting to get away from the city for a bit and have some fresh air and countryside. This was pretty different from the usual “seaside” experience which we have done before. Much quieter, really peaceful and a bit rural.
We are thinking of going camping soon and this day out really gave me a taste for doing the more simple, natural and back to basics kind of activities with the kids, so I’m now starting to think of all the different areas we could explore within the UK.
Linking up to:
Carcraft want to know what the nations favourite driving song is, and they are running a poll to find out! You can find out more here and why not join in by tweeting your favourite with #carcraftsingalongsongs or posting on their Facebook page.
We love listening to the radio in the car, especially on a nice sunny day, driving along and listening to Kiss FM or Capital is quite relaxing. If we can get the kids to sleep in the back then its like quality time for me and their dad. I like a lot of the songs which are out at the moment, some of my favourites are Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”, any Bruno Mars songs, or Pitbull and Christina Aguilera “Feel This Moment.” My 4 year old even has his favourite songs to listen to in the car too, he loves Will. I. Am and Britney “Scream & Shout.”
But what we also really like is listening to some of the old skool stuff, when they have the Kisstory hour on Kiss it’s always fun to listen and remember the songs. My husband would probably pick his favourite as “No Diggity” by Blackstreet but as for me, my ultimate favourite has to be TLC. It’s not an easy choice cos there are a lot of songs I love listening to in the car, but I have been a TLC fan for years and I feel they have stood the test of time!
When I hear them come on the radio it always boosts my mood so for my ultimate driving song to make me happy in the car, I am going to vote for TLC – Waterfalls because this is such a classic song of theirs.
Here’s the video – go on, have a listen, bring back some memories! 😀
I have been rewarded with vouchers for sharing this Campaign from Carcraft.
Recently BundleBean sent me a brilliant BundleBean Go! to try out. This is a really versatile item that can be used in so many ways. The primary use for me was as a foot muff for the buggy and also as a picnic blanket or play mat for in the garden, but it can also be used on car seats, baby carriers or as a cover for babies in a bike seat!
We were sent the blue spot design, which I love as it is nice and bright and cheerful. They also have it in pink spots, plain black, or red stars.
One side of the BundleBean has the design on it and is a lovely soft fleecy material, and the other side is waterproof. It is reversible, although the recommended way is with the waterproof on the outside but I found it works fine both ways as it does not make a difference to the way the attachment works.
Here you can see it put on the buggy both ways:
It is attached simply by using velcro around the back of the buggy. There are two velcro strips which can be made into loops and attached to the buggy frame, or they can simply be attached to each other to hold the BundleBean in place. The 2nd method is what I did and found it so easy, especially compared to foot muffs I have had in the past which you have to thread all the buggy straps through and take some effort to put on and off.
The BundleBean is really convenient and easy and that is what I liked the most about it. Especially with the changing weather we have at the moment, you don’t know what to expect so its handy to be able to just put the footmuff on or off in one minute without any faffing around at all. If you wanted to quickly change it from the buggy to the car seat or the baby carrier, this can be done really easily and quickly.
It is also very small and not bulky at all, so fits easily in the basket of the buggy and is really easy to just fold up and take out with you.
It has a pocked on the front, which comes in handy for keeping essential bits and pieces, as demonstrated here by our cuddly dinosaur 😀
One of the features I was most interested in is that it can be used as a picnic blanket. We love a good picnic, so that seems so handy! I do love that you don’t have to take a million different things out with you, but can use this same one to serve different purposes.
Here’s my little one relaxing on the BundleBean and having some snacks and a drink. What is really good with the design is that with one side being waterproof, if it has been slightly damp on the grass then the fleece side stays totally dry for the child to sit on, so it’s ideal for changeable weather.
When using it as a picnic mat I did wish it was slightly bigger, but it is a good size for one baby or toddler to sit on. It would be ideal for a young baby to lie on out in the garden or park while the rest of the family are eating their picnic!
The BundleBean Go! is a really clever product that can be used in so many ways. It is very well made and looks like a good quality item that will last. I would definitely recommend it to any parent.
Save The Children are starting a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of malnutrition on education:
The information displayed here is really saddening. Education is perhaps an aspect we might not have considered immediately, when thinking of malnutrition, but so many children are suffering due to this and it is affecting their ability to read and learn. Save The Children are publishing a new report today, entitled Food for Thought showing the massive impact that nutrition is having on so many children’s education worldwide. Together with Britmums and many of their bloggers, I have joined them to try and raise awareness of this issue.
Access to education and the ability to read makes a massive difference in any child’s life, and it is so wrong that children are missing out on this opportunity because they do not have enough food to eat to keep their brains and bodies nourished ready to learn. There is enough food for everyone, if only it was distributed fairly. When I think how much food we buy without thinking, and how much sometimes gets wasted, I feel so ashamed to think of these children and to think of the mother’s worrying about when and where they will next find food for their child.
Here are some case studies I would like to share from Save The Children. This is the story of Kasturi, aged 8 from India:
Kasturi is the youngest daughter of Srinivas and Lakshmi, who worked as agricultural labourers in Andhra Pradesh until Lakshmi became pregnant with twins and Srinivas found it impossible to find work. They moved to town with their eldest daughter, Sangeeta, and Lakshmi gave birth to twins, one of whom died after ten months. While Lakshmi was pregnant and when Kasturi was small, the family struggled to make ends meet and couldn’t afford to buy nutritious food. While Sangeeta is doing well at school, Kasturi is struggling.
Chandra Kala, Kasturi’s teacher
“I’ve been Kasturi’s teacher for two years now. Her learning’s very slow and there’s been no major improvement. She has difficulty writing but can identify alphabets and pictures.
Even though she’s in Class 3 now, Kasturi still struggles with words and maths. She can’t even keep up with the class 2 students.
Sangeeta was one of our bright students in the primary school. She was very active and still is. I hear a lot of good things about her from her teachers in High School.
A lack of proper food usually hampers children’s ability to grasp things and slows down the pace of learning. There are a lot of children like Kasturi.”
Srinivas, Kasturi’s father
“We went through a very bad phase in life. We had very little to eat and there were times when we were hungry for days. I felt very sad as I couldn’t provide for my pregnant wife.”
Lakshmi, Kasturi’s mother
“I use to breastfeed my children but my milk wasn’t enough for both of them [the twins]. We didn’t have enough food then.”
This is the story of Nyagol, a mother of 6 in South Sudan
All of Nyaguol’s six children, except the youngest two, are enrolled at the primary school in their village. However, they’re often too hungry and sick to go to attend, or too weak to concentrate on their lessons. Floods, drought and ongoing inter-communal violence have led to severe food shortages in the area. Often the family goes for days without food. Last year, Nyaguol’s youngest daughter, two- year-old Nyakuoth, was given peanut paste as part of Save the Children’s nutrition programme. Although she’s stronger now, Nyaguol is worried that lack of food is hampering her development. Nyaguol is a member of Save the Children’s Mother to Mother Support Group in Ukau village. The group received childcare training, for example, about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first six months, how to introduce complementary foods, and about good health and hygiene practices. Their role is to pass on this information to other women in their community.
Nyaguol story in her own words
Our main problem here is insecurity. Last year there were also floods and drought, so people don’t have enough food. Whenever you want to go to find food you’re worried because of the fighting. People are just running here and there and aren’t able to find enough food for their children to survive. This has been a problem for very many years. Each year we hope it will be better but each year there are problems.
All of our crops were swept away in last year’s floods, so we have nothing. All I can do is try to earn a bit of money and then go and buy enough sorghum in the market to feed my children for one day. We mainly eat sorghum. We don’t have a mill to grind it so we grind it by hand and give it to the children.
There’s no way to make any money here unless you have a net and can catch fish in the river to sell at market. But when you put your net in the river you don’t know what you’ll be able to catch. You don’t know what there will be to eat tomorrow. You just hope there’ll be some way to feed your children.
My mind runs mad thinking about what my children are going to eat today and what they’ll eat tomorrow because I have nowhere to go and get food for my children. I can’t go very far to find work because it’s not safe and I’m worried that I might be killed while I’m collecting firewood.
This really is food for thought for all of us, and a reality check for some of the small things we may worry about. Not to know whether or not the children will be able to eat is such a heartbreaking situation.
Please join the Britmums #foodforthought Twitter chat on Tuesday 28th May 2013 from 1-2pm (full details here) marking the launch of Save the Children’s latest report on child nutrition and education. We will be talking about the importance of nutrition for education and learning to read.
Also please click here to sign the Save the Children petition, to show your support for this cause. The petition is to urge the G8 leaders to tackle this issue, in the hope that we could be the generation to stop this hunger crisis.
Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell is locally known as Bunny Park. We went for a day out recently as it is quite near to us and free to enter.
It’s a large park with animals to see, a playground for the children, a maze to explore, a cafe to buy ice cream and lots of greenery all around.
The animals we noticed first were the monkeys, and my younger two were especially interested in those. There are also exotic birds and some more animals that we didn’t have time to see like the bunnies and goats, and there is a reptile house with butterflies which I think you may have to pay a small amount to go in.
Then they were very eager to move onto the playground. There is quite a variety of equipment, not so much for very young toddlers as some of the equipment is a little high up to climb, but my littler ones were fine with some help.
After the playground, we moved on to the maze which was probably my boys favourite thing. They had not been in a real maze before, but were very eager to try it out.
It’s a great place to let the toddlers run around, and really fun for them following all the path ways around and chasing each other.
When you reach the end there is a small tower with stairs, so you can go up and look out over the rest of the maze. There’s my oldest at the top, as he reached there before me!
Here they are all, hiding underneath the tower. (It’s raised a bit off the ground)
Its a lovely free day out for anyone not too far away. You don’t feel as though you are in the middle of the city, you get a bit of a rural feel and an escape from the usual hustle and bustle of life and with all the different features like the maze and the animals, it is more exciting than just your average park.
There is a car park next door which is also free to use. Make sure you come out of the car park and turn left, to take you directly into the main area of the park. The first time we went, we entered from the car park itself but that is a really long way round to get to where most of the exciting bits are. There is another playground at that end, and if you have more time to take a stroll and explore, then it would be worth having a look around that side too.
I was given the chance to choose a personalised poster from Paper Themes to review. They have quite a wide variety of designs for occasions like weddings and births and some just to be personalised with your families details or memories.
I chose the Around the world poster which is a world map, personalised with mine and my husbands names and the date of our marriage. I love maps, I just find them quite fascinating to look out. We have a giant set of world map wall stickers in the kids playroom too so I thought it would be nice for me and my husband to have one of our own.
The poster is a brownish old world map kind of colour, and comes with the map left all in plain white because the concept is that you can mark off each country as you visit, so that over time you fill in more and more. This is quite a novelty and fun concept, which did appeal to me because we always fondly remember the trips we have been on in the past, and for the last few years having the kids quite close together, we have not had much opportunity to travel, so we are looking forward to next time we will get a chance to go somewhere exciting, and we often think of the places we would like to go.
I coloured in the countries we have already visited together (America, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia – and the UK since we live here). There are others we have been to separately but I’ve not included those since its supposed to be our travels as a couple or a family. I have to admit, I love colouring in – I find it quite relaxing and I always sneak the chance to do a bit in the kids colouring books, so I quite liked this aspect of it. I coloured it with pencil crayon, which did not show up quite as well as I had hoped so I’m not sure if felt tips would have been better. The texture of the poster is a bit shiny, so it’s hard to know what medium would have been best really.
The poster is 297 x 420mm (which is the size of an A3 sheet) and comes unframed. The thickness is like a thick paper, it shouldn’t tear or rip but it’s not extremely thick. It should be fine in any frame. The price on the website is currently at £25, which seems to be standard for all of their personalised posters.
I have now bought a frame for it, so here you can see how it looks on the wall:
When ordered, the poster comes rolled up and carefully wrapped in tissue, very nicely presented. I see these as being an ideal gift item for those who you want something a bit quirky and different.
Now we are just looking forward to filling in a few more countries on the map! 🙂
Baker Ross recently set a challenge to design a pair of foam glasses. This is the kind of thing my boys love to do so we decided to take part. Here’s my 4 year old’s finished design of silly decorated glasses. It’s a simple 5 or 10 minute craft which can suit all ages and can be personalised how ever you like!
Mr Z went for for an “eyes” theme for his silly decorated glasses, with so many googly eyes stuck onto it, to match with it being glasses. Here’s some pics of all the boys enjoying decorating their foam glasses and pictures.
Some suggest materials that you could use are:
You could even turn your foam glasses into a mask or use them for a creative disguise!
Matilda Mae, the beautiful baby daughter of Jennie from Edspire, sadly died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on February 2nd 2013, at 9 months old.
This is such a tragic loss, and I wish there was more that any of us could do to help. The least we can do is to show our support for the Lullaby Trust who are working to make the future brighter for more babies by funding research into SIDS.
Tots100 are running an auction in memory of Matilda Mae to raise money for the Lullaby trust. You can read more about it here. The auction is anticipated to raise more than £3,500 for the charity.
The listings can be found here. All prizes are brand new and will be sent direct to winners and due to volume of prizes, new listings were still being added yesterday so there are still lots of chances to grab a bargain. Listings will be ending tomorrow and each day for the next few days so please do have a look before it ends.
Matilda Mae was such a beautiful little girl and clearly so loved and cherished. Jennie I am so so sorry for your loss.
Father’s Day is not too long off now – This year it will be on Sunday June 16th, so time to start helping the kids think of ways to spoil their Dad and hopefully our Father’s Day gift guide can help with that!
We have reviewed quite a few Father’s Day items recently, and also still have some great Father’s Day competitions running, so I have gathered them all together for you in a handy guide to make life easier – With a few extra ideas of my own thrown in.
Gifts for Dads with a young baby
A teething necklace for Dad to wear, to help him spend some quality time bonding. Have a look here for details about this from Gumigem, and our competition
Bibs or clothing with “Dad” slogans to dress up baby for the occasion! Funky Giraffe have Father’s Day bibs available, see our review and give away here.
Another personalised clothes suggestion, Mothercare have bodysuits with “Daddy I love you, love from <name>” from £6 which is quite reasonable. Have a look here.
Personalised gifts always have the extra thoughtful touch. What about a personalised photobook customised exactly how you would like it, for the children to read with their Dad at bedtime? We reviewed love2read personalised books here, and also have a giveaway here
Or you could make Dad the main character of a story. We also reviewed a personalised book from Its Your Story, all about a zoo adventure with Dad! Have a look here for more details and to see our thoughts. You can get 20% off by using the code DADDYCOOL
You could also get a phone cover or mug printed with a picture of Dad and the kids.
There are quite a few companies that will print your Instagram pics into magnets, could be a cool idea if Dad is into his Instagram, especially if there are some nice pics of him and the kids. One company is picpack but there are various ones, so google it and see 🙂
There are loads more little personalised gifts around like chocolates, lighters, pens, mugs and many more.
A really good quality Jumper or hooded cardigan. I recently posted the Cashmirino Look book, who are doing clothes for Dads as well as children. It’s definitely at the luxury end with the mens items over £300 each but they do look very nice, if you have the money to splash!
Cufflinks – La Jewellery have some lovely ones with “I love Dad” on in a very subtle design, so it has the message on it but it’s something he could still realistically wear in the office. See our giveaway and more details here
Food & Drink Related Gifts
For the tea loving Dads, what about a tea subscription – different teas through the postbox each month! LoveTea is offering a variety of gift subscriptions on their luxury teas. Look here for our review, and you can use the code PLAYROOM40 for 40% discount!
Baker Days do personalised cakes with pictures or messages on, which we have tried before and are very nice! We had one before for anniversary. They also fit through the letterbox which could be handy if Dad is working away or anything like that.
A family meal out is always nice; Quality time for all the family.
Ideas on a Budget
Home-made gifts done by the children: They could make him the usual card or painting, or even try something a bit different like painting on rocks to make a paper weight or decoration for him. We made some of these before here, not for any occasion, but you could encourage the children to paint the word Dad on it, or paint a small picture of Dad if they are old enough.
Any painting or picture can be made a bit more special by framing it. They have some extra deep frames very cheap in Ikea if you need to accomodate kid’s masterpieces with bits and pieces stuck onto it (pasta, pom poms and all the usual!) There are some for £3.50 which is pretty good (It’s called Ribba frame) as I have seen this idea elsewhere a lot more expensive!
Making a special picture out of babies hand or footprints. There are loads of ideas for this on Pinterest, so you can tailor it to whatever Dad is into and make a really cute keep sake. This could be a good idea for the front of a card too.
After all that, If you are still unsure, then there is always the trusty gift certificate. Amazon is a good choice, because they have such a wide range!
Our Father’s Day Competitions
Make sure you don’t miss out on any! We have the following competitions running, all closing in time for Father’s Day:
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