Sunday, 30 June 2013

Project 365: Days 174 - 180

Day 174: Asleep on the landing
Day 175: Made it to his bedroom but he's asleep on the floor
Day 176: I want his eyelashes!
Day 177: Big smiles
Day 178: Lego - it's a robot :)
Day 179: School Fayre
Day 180: Kickboxing grading

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Project 365: Days 167 - 173

Day 167: Cuddles - This is Ollie with my mother and it is special as Ollie has had an 'issue' with my mother for some time so there aren't many photos of them together.  As he's getting a older he's growing out out this so hopefully there'll be plenty more photos like this one to come.

Day 168: Asleep - I spent all day in work so it's a sleeping child photo for today.  I could sit and watch my boys sleep for hours.

Day 169: Strawberries - I'm still practicing my macro shots and this is one of my strawberry plants that I've got in hanging baskets.  I'm so excited that they've flowered.

Day 170: Army - Another close up; this one of an army of figures that Ethan set up in his bedroom.

Day 171: Wine - I had a night out with the boys and got a little bit drunk on Rosé.  It was a great night.

Day 172: Trains - Another train track that Ollie got me to make for him.  I'm quite pleased with this one as it has two crossings and two bridges.

Day 173: Cake - We went shopping to Ikea and Ollie insisted on stopping in the café to have a chocolate muffin.  I can't say that I blame him.  It was very nice.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Review: Kärcher Steam Cleaner

I am the first to admit that I don't like cleaning.  I like my house to look presentable, but tend to ignore things like the skirting boards (no-one ever looks down right?) and my oven only gets cleaned when I remember (which isn't often).  I always have a massive range of cleaning products in my cupboard, most of which I hate using because they make me cough, or smell horrible.

I was recently contacted by Kärcher asking me if I would like to review one of their products, and I jumped at the chance as 1) I had always fancied trying a steam cleaner and 2) it was time for some Spring cleaning and I was hoping to make the job as painless as possible.

When the steam cleaner arrived I was ridiculously excited.  I didn't really know what to expect as I'd never used one before.  It was extremely easy to put together as only the wheels had to be attached, and after quick read of the manual I figured out all the attachments and where they went.  I received the SC 2500C and it came with:

  • a steam gun
  • detail nozzle
  • round brush
  • hand nozzle
  • hand nozzle terry cloth cover
  • 2 extension tubes
  • floor nozzle
  • terry floor cloth

When it's all put together it's very small and neat as all the attachments have a holder, making it very easy to store

 The manual contains the instructions in lots of different languages, so even though it looks a bit intimidating, only eight of the pages are in English.  I like to know what I'm doing so read all of the instructions (much to my husband's amusement) before I got started.

At first, I was really worried about the children being around when I was cleaning, but I soon realised that as long as the spray wasn't directed towards them it was harmless.  In fact, my youngest son was suffering from croup at the time, and the steam seemed to really help him. Bonus!

The first job to be done was my oven.  I have been really worried about posting these photos as I was embarrassed by my obvious domestic sluttery, but  I am putting my embarrassment to one side to show you just how good this steam cleaner is.

The photo at the top left shows my oven door before it was cleaned (I know, it's horrible. Can I just say that I do cook a lot!), and then the photo next to it show it after being cleaned with the Kärcher steam cleaner.  I never knew it could be so clean!  Look at the reflection of the cupboards above it.  I was completely amazed.  Now, we did need to put a bit of elbow grease (as if it needed any more grease!) into it.  I'd let it build up into this state so it took a bit of work to clean it off.  Of course, if you use another person to clean it (as shown in the bottom picture) then less elbow grease will be needed from you).

We have decided to steam clean the oven once a month so this doesn't happen again.  Hopefully, next time it will be a bit easier to clean.

My next task was the tiles in the bathroom.  We dump all the children's bath toys on a tiled area next to the bath, and as a result all the grouting has turned brown.  I've tried everything to get it off but nothing works, so I thought I'd give the steam cleaner a go.  You can see the result for yourself.

I used the detail nozzle and brush and it worked a dream.  Most of the stains came off and I think a few more uses will remove even more.  I've showed this photo to all my friends and family and now they all want a steam cleaner too.

These were our two main areas to clean with the steam cleaner and I am so impressed with the results.  It made light work of some of my cleaning, though  I did have to put a bit of effort in in some areas, and it removed the need for nasty chemicals and lots of scrubbing.

We did, of course, try it out on just about anything that crossed our path (hubby even managed to take some paint off our kitchen wall - the manual does warn against that!)  It cleaned up our patio doors brilliantly, made my kitchen tiles sparkle, and it was great on my leather furniture.  I used the hand nozzle with cloth cover to clean all of my furniture and it was so easy and looked great afterwards.  That's a job that normally takes me an hour so it was great to be able to get it done in ten minutes.  My faux suede dining chairs also got a bit of a freshen up.

So is there anything I would change?  Well, I think that for the price there should be more Terry cloths included as it would have been nice to have had a spare available when one was in the wash.  Also, something to wrap the power cord around would be good (the is a small compartment to put it in but I struggled to get in in there properly.

But the positives far outweigh any negatives.  It's small and lightweight making it easy to both store and carry around the house (it's also got wheels so easy to pull around after you), it's brilliant at cleaning lots of different surfaces without the need to use any chemicals, and it also helps reduce allergens around the house.

It has been independently tested by Allergy UK, who concluded that the steam cleaner removes the following:

- 99.99% of House dust mites ¹
- 99.83% of Cat allergens ¹
- 99.01% of Dog allergens ¹
- 99.37% of Pollen allergens ¹
- 100% of Fungal spores ¹

¹ Kärcher Steam Cleaner was tested according to Allergy UK protocol AUK-008SF 2011.

I would recommend this steam cleaner to anyone, but especially if you've got children and/or pets.  Now I've got one I wonder how I've managed for so long without one.

Disclaimer: I received the steam cleaner to review but all views contained in this post are my own.  I have included the press release from Kärcher below:

Join the Kärcher steam revolution!
Clean deeper without chemicals with the new steam cleaning range

For environmentally-friendly, quick and convenient cleaning, look no further than Kärcher’s new range of steam cleaners, the ideal solution to all your home cleaning needs.

Kärcher, the world’s leading cleaning specialists have expertly designed their range of steam cleaners to revolutionise home cleaning, tackling even the most stubborn of stains with professional results and abolishing the need for hours of endless scrubbing!

Kärcher’s steam cleaners can be used throughout the house and are engineered to clean deeper without chemicals, making them a natural and environmentally-friendly solution that provides a family-friendly alternative from chemical cleaners that aggravate allergies and are harmful to children.

The range of steamers are proven to cut through everyday dirt and stains to leave your surfaces sparkling in seconds, making light work of tough, baked-on oven grease, stubborn carpet stains, limescale and mould on bathroom tiles as well everyday dirt on laminate floorings.

Kärcher has a steam cleaner to suit all cleaning needs, including;

The SC 1.020 is ideal for floors, tiles, grouting, work surfaces, taps, mirrors, shower screens and much more. With an innovative new ‘lamellae’ floor tool, it cleans up to 35% more effectively than traditional bristled floor tool. RRP £129.99

Designed with two tanks, the SC 2.500C not only tackles the jobs that the SC 1.020 does but it also includes a removable and refillable tank for non-stop steam, so you can finish those hated cleaning tasks even faster. RRP £229.99.

The SC 5.800C is an evolution of the two tank design in the SC2.500, with the addition of a continuous steam flow control and  a Vapo-Hydro water function (for instant hot water), as well as a detachable steam hose allowing use of the steamer with a Kärcher steam iron. It also comes complete with a floor cleaning kit, hand tool, detail nozzle, round brush, and power nozzle. RRP £349.99.

Whatever your cleaning needs, join the steam revolution and see how Kärcher can transform the way you clean your home forever. For more information on how Kärcher’s new products can take the bore out of chores visit

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Project 365: Days 160 - 166

Day 160: Shipwreck - we went to Rhosilli Beach which is part of the National Trust coastline and had an amazing day. The weather was beautiful, we jumped over waves and checked out all the caves, and even saw an actual shipwreck. How cool is that?

Day 161: Reading - Ethan loved to read and tries to read anything and everything. He's in bed reading a Batman comic and doing the puzzles.

Day 162: Peppa Pig - we got a personalised book to review and it's now one of Ollie's favourites as he can't believe that it's actually him in the book.

Day 163: Who cares if it's raining? - my friends came for lunch and the children decided that they would like to go out to play in the rain. Ollie loved jumping on the trampoline wearing only his t-shirt.

Day 164: Monsters! - Ollie loved the Lego monster that his dad made for him and went around the housing roaring at anyone in sight.

Day 165: Girls weekend - I went on an overnight stay at a spa in Birmingham with my friends and it was amazing.  To be honest, it was more about the food, wine and gossip and less about the treatments for me.  And the food was totally amazing. This is my extremely chocolatey dessert.

Day 166: Home Sweet Home - I loved my night away and having time for myself, but I did moss my boys and it was lovely to get home and see them.  There were lots of cuddles.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Review: Personalised Peppa Pig book from Penwizard

My youngest son is following in the footsteps of his older brothers and has developed a love for all things Peppa Pig.  Over the last few years we seem to have built up quite a collection of Peppa Pig goodies, and I've even joked that the children's slightly English accent is due to them watching Peppa too much on TV.

Ollie is two and a half and at the age where everything is exciting.  He's constantly learning and becoming more and more independent, and also very assertive it showing his likes and dislikes.  He's also really hard to buy for because we've already got most things handed down from his older brothers.

So when Penwizard contacted me and asked if I would like to review one of their personalised Peppa Pig books I jumped at the chance.  I had a look on their site and found that there were four books to choose from: Swimming, Playgroup, Birthday Party and Christmas Party.  I chose the one where they go swimming as Ollie is a bit afraid of the water and I thought that reading this book might help him start to think about going swimming and having fun in the water.

The ordering process is very straightforward.  You can choose between paperback or hardback and then go on to create your own book.  Once you've chosen whether it's for a little boy or girl, you then go on and choose hairstyle, hair colour, skin colour and eye colour.  You can even add glasses.  The picture on screen changes as you choose your options so you can see exactly what your character will look like.

You can then add the name for the front cover of the book and a personalised which will appear on the first page.


The book arrived very quickly and was extremely good quality.  I chose a paperback book which has a lovely glossy cover and is a really good size (it looks about the size of an A4 piece of paper). The story follows the style of the TV programme, and I even found myself trying to read as if I were the narrator!  My child's name is used throughout the book and also it the write up on the back cover.  
Ollie absolutely loved it.  His older brothers were also really excited to see his name in the book which pleased Ollie even more.  He kept saying "that's Ollie, that's me" with a  look of pure joy on his face.  I think he's at a really good age to appreciate this book, and it will also last for some time yet.  It's more than just a book; it's something that we will treasure as it's been created especially for Ollie.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic gift for any Peppa (or George) fan and perfect for the child who's got everything.

Disclaimer: I was given the book to review but all opinions are my own.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Project 365: Days 153 - 159

Day 153: Guilty! - I caught my little one playing in the dirt.  He looked very guilty when he saw me but I was quite impressed that he'd stayed away from my plants.

Day 154: Little house - O decided that he wanted his cereal in his playhouse.  I suppose we all need some time on our own sometimes,

Day 155: Grow it - I am really pleased with how well my plants are growing. These re my tomato plants and they're looking great.

Day 156: Getting up close - I get photo envy when I look through all the amazing photos in Project 365 so I've been practising my close ups.  I have to admit that it's been taken on my phone because I can't use my camera.  I suppose that's the next thing to master.

Day 157: Train track - O will use absolutely anything as a train track and today it was his seesaw.  He spent ages running his trains up and down it.

Day 158: Say cheese! - It was a beautiful day today so O and I spent most of it in the garden.  He decided to put some sun tan lotion on himself, but most of it ended up on his nose. I wasn't allowed to wipe it off.

Day 159: Another hot and sunny day but the boys were in and out.  On one of their cooling down periods in the house they decided to build some LEGO robots.  This is the police version.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Project 365: Days 146 - 152

Day 146: Trains - We spent the day at my in-laws and the weather was so nice that we were able to sit outside for most of the day.  O spent ages playing with the Thomas train track.

Day 147: Pirate Day - we went to Tredegar House for a pirate day and to start our 50 Things adventures.  It was an amazing day and we had lots of fun.

Day 148: Fireman Sam - It rained constantly all day so I decided to get my cleaning and ironing done.  I didn't manage to take a photo until bedtime but I was glad as O decided to wear his Fireman Sam sleepsuit and he looked so cute.

Day 149: Cheese! - O loves having his photo taken at the moment and insists on me taking lots on my phone.  He also tries to take photos of me but they don't turn out so well.

Day 150: Board games - The boys got their games box out and it was great to see them playing together.  It was even nicer to see them playing these traditional games rather than being glued to a games console.

Day 151: Our visitor - Sonic's stay has been extended and we have him until the weekend.  We have to be very careful when we let him out of his hutch as he makes a beeline for all the fruit and veg that I've planted.  He does love to dig!

Day 152: Park fun - we went for a walk in our local park and the boys enjoyed running and jumping around before we stopped to have an ice-cream and look at the ducks.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

The start of our 50 Things journey

National Trust Wales  recently asked if we would like to get involved with a campaign called 50 things to do before you're 11¾  and I jumped at the chance as I thought it would give us ideas for things to do and motivate me to write about them.  After scouring the National Trust website I found the perfect place to start.  Tredegar House were holding a Pirate Day on bank holiday Monday, which I knew my boys would love, and it would give us a chance to find out more about what's involved.

So, armed with one pirate and two children, we went to find some treasure.

We'd never been to Tredegar House before and we were amazed at how beautiful it is.  It's a fabulous 17th Century mansion with amazing grounds that we couldn't wait to explore.  We were greeted by pirates on the way in and the boys were given questions to complete for the treasure hunt.  We were very excited to see all the games that were going on in the grounds, and even more pleased to see that there was a little bit of treasure (chocolate coins) for any game that they won.  Even Ollie got involved and the staff kindly gave him a coin for his efforts.  The weather was lovely and it was very relaxing watching the boys run around playing games in beautiful surroundings.  

Next we went on to the orchard where there were some 50 Things activities running.  We'd already picked up our scrapbook so we were ready to start filling them with stickers.  The boys decided to build a den and a member of staff showed them how to use all the branches that had been gathered locally to build a shelter in the wild.  They really enjoyed all the hard work and were rewarded with this fantastic den for their efforts. I think they'll be asking to build one in the garden when we get home though I might have to find a tree first.  It was great to watch them working together to get this finished.  They listened to the staff member, which was unusual enough, but the help and support they showed each other almost brought a tear to my eye.  After all, I'm more used to breaking up their fights.

Then on to the next activity which was plant it, grow it, eat it.  We're actually doing this at home at the moment but the boys wanted to grow some cress and get their sticker so it was more official in their scrapbook (obviously their mum and dad signing it off just isn't good enough).

Two activities completed and it was back to pirate fun.  They walked the plank while their father tried to soak them with wet sponges, but they soon got their own back.  They made their dad walk the plank and by the time he'd finished he was wetter than the three boys put together.  They were throwing the sponges at point blank range.  I stayed a safe distance away, making the excuse that I couldn't get my camera wet!

After playing every game, and eating as many chocolate coins as possible, we found Captain Morgan's treasure.  It was safely tucked away at the bottom of a tree and the boys were able to complete the treasure hunt questions.

Next it was time to explore the amazing house.  We went inside and gazed around us in wonder at the extravagantly designed rooms.  The room guides were fantastic and explained all about the history of the house.  I had been worried about taking the boys inside as they do like to run around but I needn't have worried.  My oldest became engrossed in a talk about the house, and my youngest two were fascinated with everything that was to be seen.  

The dining room was dressed with a table laden with food; then in another room there was a dressing up box and old fashioned games that we could actually sit and play.  This was no stuffy museum with nothing to touch.  There really was something for everyone.

After a thorough exploration we headed out into the courtyard where there were yet more games for the boys.  They had more chocolate coins and played in the pirate ship before going to make some pirate hats which was great fun.

Pirate Zac

Total concentration

Isn't this the best pirate hat you've ever seen?

We had a totally enjoyable day.  Our 50 Things adventures have started, we have played and had lots of fun, and learnt a little bit about our local history.  What more could we ask for?

And the icing on the cake was.......

A perfect end to a perfect day.

A few more photos from our day

All that's left do do know is decide which activity on the 50 Things list we should do next.  Maybe we'll make a mud pie, skim a stone, or even build a raft.  The possibilities are endless.

Find out more about National Trust Wales on the Facebook and Twitter pages.

I am linking this post up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Family Farm Holidays Cornwall