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FUNtastic ways to #EnjoyMoreWater this summer!

We all know that water is essential. Everyone needs water. Yet Robinson's have found 42% of children say water tastes boring!

We want to prove that water can be fun fun fun. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Summer is the perfect time for splashing about and water play, for picnics and playing. We've been busy having fun with water - both playing with it and staying hydrated with it. Here's our video showing what we've been doing to #EnjoyMoreWater....

We had a great time putting together this video but we've actually got a few more ideas for making water that bit more special with a little help from Robinson's Squash'd.

Make Water Cool

We used Robinson's Squash'd to make some cool flavoured ice lollies. Simply squeeze a tiny bit into lolly moulds, add water and freeze. A fantastic way to stay hydrated this summer.

To give your drinks a pretty and flavourful twist, you can also make some awesome ice cubes using herbs, edible flowers or pieces of fruit. It's a great opportunity to chat to the kids about the importance of only picking edible plants from the garden. Herbs like mint, coriander and basil can be used. Edible flowers like chive flowers, forget-me-nots, and rose petals also work well.

Perfect for Picnics

Miss T's favourite summertime activity is lying on a picnic blanket and watching the clouds in the sky. A great opportunity for learning about how clouds are formed and to use imagination to see what shapes you can see in the clouds. We've spotted imaginary dragons and castles and lions. 

We found Robinsons Squash'd to be the perfect picnic companion as it is such a neat little container that fits so easily in a pocket or picnic basket to stay hydrated all day! 

It's so easy for little hands to use too so the kids can help themselves to drinks without me having to supervise so closely. 

Learning fun with water

After all that cloud watching you can follow up with a fun experiment that shows the water cycle in action. My kids love to hear the amazing fact that pretty much all the water on planet earth is the very same water that's been around since dinosaur times. That's a cool fact! It just goes through the water cycle again and again. 

Using a bowl, a smaller glass to fit in the bowl, some cling film and a pebble you can make your own water cycle experiment to show how evaporation and condensation works. You start with the water in the outside bowl and the idea is that it evaporates, hits the cling film, condenses and then runs down into the glass and you end up with water in the glass which started out empty. 

Pond dipping is another water based activity with huge learning potential. Look out for free organised pond dipping sessions run by local wildlife and conservation trusts near you or print off some insect identifying sheets and head off yourselves to see what you can find. 

Silhouettes and Snow - Water play in many ways! 

Now I'm going to share with you some of my absolute favourite forms of water play. Of course there's the obvious paddling pools and water guns but my real favourites are a little more unusual and will totally blow the kids minds. 

Water Silhouettes

On a hot sunny day, set your hose to the fine mist setting. Then get the kids to lay on the patio. They can make different shapes with their bodies. Then spray a fine mist of water over them. This will cool them off and when they stand up they will see a cool silhouette shape that is left on the floor! 

It soon dries out on a hot day and you can repeat over and over. 

Yes I said snow. In summer. Yep. Snow. Whenever we are lucky enough to get a snowy winter, I save a couple of small tubs of it in the freezer and then get it out on the hottest day of the year. It doesn't last long but the short while that the kids can play with it before it melts is a fab sensory experience of the two extremes of hot weather and freezing cold snow. And seeing it out of context makes it all the more special. 

Painting with water
A simple activity that's far less messy than getting the paints out is to get some chunky paintbrushes and buckets of water and 'paint' anywhere the kids wish to in the garden...the patio, the walls of the house, the fences. 

Giant bubbles
Since I discovered that I could make my own giant bubbles, I have loved getting out in the garden and seeing just how big the bubbles will get. The secret ingredient is glycerin. So as well as using water and washing up liquid to make your bubble mixture, add in some glycerin to stop those bubbles bursting before they've grown really big. 

A home made bubble wand can be made using strings and sticks too! 

I hope you can see why we think water is fun to play with and fun to drink too with a little help from Robinsons.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons You can find out more about the challenge here. We were lucky enough to be sent some Robinsons Squash'd to try. All opinions are our own. 


Eating chocolate and staying healthy

Learning to bake has been a relatively recent discovery for me. It is only in the past couple of years that I've started to get to grips with it and produce cakes and bakes that are edible rather than total disasters. 

I have to admit that I still have my fair share of disasters but getting things to turn out well has been really satisfying - I remember managing to get madeleines to rise as they were supposed to, making chocolate pastry tarts that actually looked pretty and tasted nice, and finally managing to ice cookies properly! I hope you can hear that element of surprise in my voice because it really is a surprise when anything I cook turns out well. 

What I discovered most was how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen and learning to bake. It became my 'therapy'. Once I discovered that a kind of magic happens when you throw together eggs, sugar, butter and flour and end up with cake, it became something I did to escape and relax.

But the more I baked, the bigger my waistline was getting and a couple of months ago I decided enough was enough. I started to eat better but it meant an end to the baking. 

Whilst I'd cut out the cakes and biscuits and refined sugar treats, I still needed a sweet treat to get me through the day. I discovered cacao powder - (which for ages I had assumed was a misspelling of cocoa) and things like cacao nibs. I discovered almond flour and buckwheat flour and that amaranth seeds can be puffed liked tiny popcorn. 

Then the most beautiful cookery book caught my eye in Waitrose. It was called 'Clean Cakes' and had a stunning cover. I had a quick peek inside but the ingredients seemed even stranger than all the unusual stuff I was just getting to grips with. So I put the book down but made a mental note to look up the author and see what I could find out. 

I ended up at Henrietta Inman's website and found a wealth of recipes there which I am hoping to try out. The book went on my birthday list along with The Saffron Tales (my husband gets annoyed if I just buy them when I want them as it leaves nothing for him to give to me for my birthday) but in the meantime I just had to try out the recipe for Homemade chocolate when it popped up on Henrietta's blog. 

I just made a fifth of the quantity and used small plastic moulds that I had saved from packaging (I love keeping packaging to re-use as it can come it very handy like when I made chocolate TARDIS for the kids instead of Easter eggs one year!) 
And I was so pleased when my chocolate set that it turned out so well! 

I used the suggestions in the recipe as inspiration for the flavours using rose petals, chopped pistachio and freeze dried raspberries as one combination. Goji berry, mulberry and pumpkin seeds as another, and finally raisins, hazlenuts and whole almonds as my final flavour. They were all wonderful! 
Of course, chocolate is still chocolate and I will need to eat it in moderation (hence making a small batch to begin with) but I can feel the difference it has made by eating 'cleaner' treats like these. My weight has reduced, I have way more energy and don't get the highs and slumps that I used to with all the processed food and refined sugar that I was eating.

I'm so pleased that I have found somewhere to get inspiration for healthier alternatives to sweet treats.

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale Book Review

Paper Rocket is the brand new imprint for young adult fiction from Parragon books. The first title to be published under Paper Rocket is 'A Whole New World: A twisted tale' by Liz Braswell which takes the story of Aladdin and gives it a whole new twist.

I love the concept of this - taking a classic story and giving it a fresh lease of life. It shows that stories can fuel peoples imaginations in endless ways. 

We asked our 11 year old, J to read and review the book. Here's what he had to say:

Jafar takes over the whole city and its up to Aladdin to save the day.

Aladdin the street rat unexpectedly bumps into Princess Jasmine when she escapes from the palace. She doesn't want to get married in an arranged marriage to please her father.

Aladdin then gets put in prison because he met with Princess Jasmine. He meets an old man who leads him to a cave where the magical lamp is. It turns out that the old man is Jafar in disguise. Jafar uses the genie in the lamp to become sultan and to become most powerful sorcerer in the world. Jafar uses his wishes for evil. With Princess Jasmine leading, the street rats are rebelling against Jafar.

Will Jasmine find a way to overthrow Jafar? What will happen to the genie? 

J's review has certainly got me interested in reading it. I did make a start on the book but J being a far speedier reader than me soon overtook me. From the pages that I did read, I was really impressed with the style of writing. Not too advanced for the target age group and yet introducing interesting words and plenty of description to capture the imagination.  

This book is the first in a trilogy of twisted tales and I can't wait to see more from Paper Rocket. 

A Whole New World: A twisted tale is available from Amazon and WHSmith

 Disclosure: We were sent a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 


And the winner is...

We launched a flash giveaway just before the weekend to show our support for Nim's Fruit Crisps which we love so much. They'd made it to the shortlist for the Muddy Stiletto's award for Best Local Producer (Food and Drink category) in Kent.

Voting closed earlier today and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted for Nim's as they WON! I saw this on their twitter timeline today...

So without further ado, we also drew and verified the rafflecopter winner of our giveaway and we are delighted to announce that Janet Bagnall won the box of fruit crisps. We've contacted Janet and her Nim's crisps should be on their way soon.

Thanks so much to all who voted and all who entered. It was the first 'flash' giveaway we have run and it was a huge success so a very heartfelt thank you to everyone.


Places to visit on a road trip around the UK

Do you ever have something on your to-do list that is on there for so long that it actually becomes embarrassing to get round to doing it. Like those birthday thank you's you never got around to sending and it's been over 6 months since your birthday. That kind of thing.

Well one of mine was to write a compilation post of our road trip around the UK that we did a couple of years back. Yep you read that right, 'years' and I still haven't got around to it. But seeing a post about a road trip on one of my favourite travel blogs 'Hand Luggage Only' finally gave me the push I needed to do it.

So these are links to all our 'diary style' posts we wrote after our summer road trip, all in one place so I can find them again when I wish to. As they were written 'on-the-go' rather than in any organised form afterwards, there is not one post per day but rather a bit of a mish-mash as we went along.

  • A Doctor Who themed day - Visiting the Doctor Who experience in Cardiff and then arriving at West Usk Lighthouse in Newport
  • Our final day of our road trip which was out of this world! - where we met Tim Peake's colleagues from the Space Agency and had an amazing dinner at Heston's Hind's Head in Bray
Thinking back to it, it was tough travelling on the road for so many hours with 3 kids, but the memories we made were SO worth it. There are definitely places I would love to visit again and there are other places truly worthy of a visit which we didn't get around to visiting on this road trip. 

For example, we love Bath and Brighton but we are familiar with both of those places having lived there so they didn't get included in this road trip. 

I've always wanted to visit Scotland but that was just too far to include. I've seen photos of Fingal's caves and REALLY want to go there. 

London is always great to visit but we live pretty close to London so will have plenty of other opportunity's to go there. Some of our top things to do in London are detailed in this blog post. London RIB voyages is a must as seeing London by speedboat is just awesome and we've since visited Madame Tussauds and was really impressed by how good it is these days. 

There are so many beautiful and amazing places right on our doorstep in the UK and we'd definitely love to have another road trip like this again!  

WIN a box of Nim's Fruit Crisps in our giveaway!

We were so excited to have been selected as Nimsters by Nim's Fruit Crisps to try out their products. We absolutely ADORE these fruit crisps as they are air dried and have nothing else added to them. I'm sure we will be raving about them often on our blog.

But in more exciting news, Nim's have made it to the shortlist of the Muddly Stilettos Kent Awards in the Local producer (Food and Drink) category. Well done Nim's!

We were so pleased to hear this that we wanted to celebrate by encoouraging everyone to get involved in voting for them and entering this giveaway to win a box of Nim's fruit crisps.

This giveaway is only running for a few days as the voting ends soon so make sure you enter straight away so you don't miss out!

There's one mandatory option of voting and then complete as many of the other options as you wish. If you need any guidance on completing the rafflecopter form there is a great guide on Superlucky here. Giveaway ends 13/6/2016 and T&C's apply (see rafflecopter).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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