Saturday, 22 September 2018

Parent Alert! How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online - Book review!

My girls spend time online most evenings. We have a rule that their are no electronics upstairs and that I am free to check what they are doing online any time. I think that I am quite savvy when it comes to everything online but there is things that I don't know and haven't thought about. I was recently sent a fantastic book to have a look at and it has really clued me up about everything online!

In summer 2017, TV presenters, best friends and mums Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams posted a video exposing the dangers of children's locations being identified on ‘Snap Map’, a feature on SnapChat. Their video attracted 26 million views in just three days. 

Inspired by this the reaction from other concerned parents, and constantly worried about what their own teenagers were getting up to online, Nadia and Kaye teamed up with international security expert Will Geddes to write Parent Alert!​ How To Keep Your Kids Safe OnlineA comprehensive, go-to guide for parents and carers on the greatest digital dangers facing children online today.

The front cover of the book Parent Alert! How to keep your kids safe online featuring Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams.

What makes this book so unique is the no-nonsense, Q&A approach. For each topic, Nadia and Kaye describe real-life scenarios and ask the questions all parents face, and Will provides the answers, with jargon-free advice.

Each chapter provides easy-to-follow advice to help parents prevent problems their children may fall victim to online. Alongside these are clear action plans to resolve issues which may have already arisen, including tips on how to recognise the warnings signs if something is wrong, and when to seek professional help.

The contents of Parent Alert! How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online book

Sixteen chapters cover the crucial areas all parents of teens and tweens as well as younger children should be aware of including social media and the social networks and platforms your child is using, cyberbullying and trolls, sexting and nude selfies, online grooming, cyberstalking and tracking, cyber-crime, and other modern online threats.

I really think that as soon as a child becomes able to use the internet parents should be made to buy this book. It really is full of information and guidance. It was a real eye opener! 

Two pages from Parent Alert! How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online. The first page showing dangers when you take a photo and the 2nd about how to create a strong password.

There is plenty of hints and tips. Things like how to avoid oversharing when you take a photo or use a webcam and how to create strong passwords which I already knew but there was a lot of things which I didn't know about. How to spot fake apps, monitor what apps are being downloaded and how to set up a secure wi-fi connection.

An extract from the book Parent Alert! How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online. About how to avoid trolls when running a youtube channel.

The book is more than just stating facts. The facts are put into scenarios and questions are answered in a way that you can relate to. Nothing is too technical and everything is put in simple terms.

I found this book so interesting and very useful. I will be keeping it nearby so I can refer to it in the future when I have a point to prove about being safe online.

As a parent it is worrying how much danger there is online but after just skimming through this book I feel like I am more aware of these dangers and I am prepared to deal with it. Becky has been reading this book too and as a 16 year old it is really opened her eyes too about the dangers online. It has got us chatting about social media and how to use it safely.

If you have a tween or a teen I would highly recommend buying this. You can buy it from Amazon, Waterstones and most of the places where you would normally find books.

I was sent this book free of charge in exchange for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 21 September 2018

This week my Word of the Week is: Helping. #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

A picture of the word helping

The kids have had a good week at school. On Wednesday Ellie even went back to school to help with the year 6 open evening. I think the school likes to show off the year 7's and how well they have settled in to the kids who will be starting next year. Ellie was helping to sell the drinks and sweets. She had fantastic fun and was rewarded with cake. lol 

I was so proud of her to offer her time like this. Things like this are really boosting her confidence. I would have never imagined her doing anything like this while she was at Primary school. I really feel like secondary school is changing her for the better.

Becky has been doing revision for a couple of months in preparation for her GCSE's and it's only the last couple of weeks that we have found something which really seems to be helping her. It is a website called Seneca

A screen shot showing the Seneca website which is a tool to revise for GCSE's

She can choose the subjects she is studying from the exact exam board so she is not learning things she doesn't need to know. It's a mixture of facts which she is writing notes about, videos and questions. It is fun for her to use and information seems to be sinking in. 

We ended up on the phone to Sky and the council during the week asking for help and advice. Next door has erected some radio antennas. I don't know what they use them for and I don't really care but since they went up our internet speed has been dropping every evening. There is no point approaching them because even the lads mother asked him to take them down and he said no, they're OK. Stu overheard them when he was bringing the washing in.

Sky were a great help and said that the antennas are probably interfering with the wi-fi & told us to contact the council. We did via their online service but when we had the high winds on Wednesday one of the poles had moved and was nearly on the phone cable (their's not ours) so we rang the council. They said they need planning permission for the height that they are at least and in the wind it was a safety issue...They are sending someone out to assess the situation but goodness knows how long that will take. I am waiting for it to move onto the phone cable and then I will ring BT. I am sure they don't want their cables ripping down. 

I had a message from the lovely Sass who blogs at Thinking Out Loud during the week which really made me think about how I blog. 

Sass is blind and uses a screen reader to read blogs. I have got into a bad habit of putting a lot of full stops after a sentence and it turns out a screen reader will read every full stop out loud which is so annoying to her and I had no idea. I felt so bad. It's one of those things that I have never thought about. I also haven't been putting image descriptions into the alt text box when I upload a picture. The image description helps blind people who use screen readers get a visual description of what is going on in each of the pictures.

From now on I am going to make a conscious effort to not use full stops as much and add description to images so my blog accessible to everyone. 

Word of the Week linky button

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Jean-Christophe Novelli Goes Gold! #BeBoldGoGold

Each week in the UK and Ireland, more than 30 children are diagnosed with cancer. Two out of ten children will not survive their disease.

Renowned celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has whipped up a delicious gold-themed cupcake recipe to raise awareness and money as part of a leading cancer charity’s #BeBoldGoGold campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month which is happening now! 

3 different gold cupcakes

The French chef, whose young son Valentino was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer at just eight weeks old hopes lots of people will get involved and have a go at baking the quick and easy recipe.

Jean-Christophe’s golden honey and lemon cupcakes reflect the gold theme of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with supporters also being encouraged to wear a gold ribbon and help spread the word that cancer affects everyone, even children....


2 eggs
125g self-raising flour
125g margarine
25g runny honey
75g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

Honey filling (optional)
75g sugar
55g runny honey
110g double cream
1tbsp butter

Honey buttercream
125g soft butter
175g icing sugar
25g runny honey

How to make...

Runny honey filling.
Place the honey and sugar in a small pan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is melted.
Allow the mixture to bubble gently without stirring for a few minutes until the mixture becomes caramel coloured.
Take off the heat and stir in the cream then the butter.
Let this mixture cool before putting it in the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Lay 10 metallic gold cupcake cases in a 12 hole muffin tin.
Put all the ingredients for the cupcakes in a bowl and beat together, ideally with an electric mixer, until combined and soft.
Divide the mixture between the 10 cases.
Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden and springy to touch.

Carefully beat the icing sugar and soft butter together until soft and creamy (this is easier with an electric mixer but the icing sugar can create a huge cloud of sugar dust, so beware!)
Add the honey and beat until combined.

Assembling the cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes are cool cut a hole in the middle and fill the hole with the runny honey filling. Top the cupcakes with buttercream.

To decorate:

Rose piping:

A cupcake with Rose piping

Use a piping bag with a large star nozzle filled with buttercream. Start piping from the centre of the cupcake and spiral outwards finishing on the edge. Finish with a puff of edible gold glitter.

Gold sprinkles:

A cupcake with Gold sprinkles

Spread the buttercream on to the cupcake using a butter knife then sprinkle gold crunch sprinkles on top. 

Smiley face:

an emoji cupcake with a smiley face

To make the gold dome, roll out caramel coloured sugarpaste and cut out a large circle. Gently lay the circle over a foam dome and allow to dry overnight. To make the face, pipe white dots using royal icing, cut out eyes and a mouth using circle cutters and black and white sugarpaste.

You can donate online or Text GOLD to 70700 to donate £3.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Our visit to Alnwick Castle - Part 2

I started writing about our visit to Alnwick Castle and soon realised there was just too much to fit into one blog post....It was such a great day out with so much to see and do....

After seeing Harry Potter and Dumbledore we headed over to the Fusilier museum where you can explore the history of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Discover what it’s like to be a soldier, put on the uniform, fire a Vickers machine gun or march with the band!

When we went into the museum Ellie was given a clipboard with a list of things to find.....It kept her busy and give Becky, Stu and myself to have a really good look at everything. It was all so interesting. I do love a bit of history...The displays tell the stories of soldiers and their families, from recruitment to veterans and remembrance.

We then decided to eat our packed lunch....There was plenty of grass to sit on and benches dotted about....Of course the girls and my fella had to find the steepest hill to sit on. Going up wasn't too bad but I feared for my life coming

We had a good look at the cannons on the gun terrace....The views were stunning! I really loved the set up photo frames in honour of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown who created the stunning views around the castle and River Aln for the 1st Duke of Northumberland.....

We had a quick look in the Castle Museum and the Constable's Tower but to be honest it was so full of people it was hard to see anything and it was so cramped. It felt quite claustrophobic....

Ellie was starting to get a bit sick by now of looking at historical things so we decided to go for and ice cream and a look around the gift shop. Ellie had set her heart on a broomstick from the gift shop she had seen kids walking around with them and I imagined these being about £10. I had been dreading this. You know what gift shops are like. Things are usually overpriced but I was really surprised. The broomsticks cost less than £3!

We had a good look around and I could have easily bought one of everything. They had a lot of Harry Potter related things which were being sold for great prices. I wish I had more In the end I only ended up buying some fancy jams and some of the Bertie Bott's Every Flavour jelly beans...

We had time for a quick peek in the Downton Abbey section and even though I am not a fan it was so interesting and the carriage in their was just beautiful! 

As we were about to leave we realised we had not looked in the State rooms....We didn't have to wait for a time slot and got straight in....Wow! I was blown away with how beautiful they were...Photography is not permitted within the state rooms so do have a look on the website to see what they look like. They looked like something out of a fairy tale. I think the library was my favourite of the rooms but the drawing room came a close second....I spent a good few minutes just looking at the ceiling! Ellie said when she grows up she will live in a house like this!

It was an amazing day out and now we have paid it is free to go back.....I think we will have to! There was plenty of things which we never got around to doing like the 'On Location' Film Tour, Broomstick training and the crafts when Ellie had her grumpy moment....hehehe

Have you visited Alnwick Castle before? What was your favourite part? If you haven't would you like to visit?

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

L.O.L Surprise! Pearl Playset - Review.

Ellie is forever watching videos on You Tube of kids opening L.O.L dolls and although she had never had any of her own she loved them....I have seen reviews for the L.O.L Surprise! Pearl Playset and it looked like a lot of fun but it was too expensive at nearly £30 to just to buy for no occasion so she had to wait for her birthday....

Ellie had set her heart on a green one which was a bit of a nightmare to track down....I did manage to find one in Asda. Phew! Now they only seem to sell the pink one's....

L.O.L. Surprise offers more unboxing surprises with the L.O.L. Surprise Pearl Surprise. Discover shimmery, pearl surprises inside with rare, limited-edition dolls and accessories!

Product Features: 

Limited-edition Doll and Lil Sister
6 pearl surprise balls
1 shell-shaped doll stand
Glitter case becomes purse, storage case and bath playset
Recommended for ages 6+

The first layer has 6 balls to open which included two outfits for the doll. Ellie had great fun opening these....She half knew what to expect but it was all still a surprise for her...

The second layer is a seashell fizz that you drop into water to dissolve. It was huge!! It is advised not to put it in the bath but to use the case the set came in....

The biggest excitement came when it came to putting the fizzer in the water....Wow! Even I was impressed! It certainly did fizz! Some of it went onto the floor and when I was cleaning it up it did leave a pink tint on our laminate flooring....I think if it had been left for longer it may have stained it....That explains why they say don't put it into the bath....

Inside the fizzer there is a seashell container that has a Lol doll and a lil sister doll.....They were very cute.

For the price you pay (nearly £30) it does seem expensive when you see what you are left with, a couple of little dolls, outfits and a seashell but I would say it is well worth the price just for the experience and the excitement it creates....Ellie loved it and it really made her birthday special....

Monday, 17 September 2018

This is what we're eating this week. #MealPlanningMonday

Last weeks meal plan went really well....We ate just about everything! We did have a bit of a hiccup mid week when I realised the mince was off...It shouldn't have been. The use by date was the next day.....Stu took it back and got it replaced. Phew! The roast dinner was moved to today. We had a lazy day yesterday. 

The last few weeks we have had a fair few takeaways. They have all been treats for going back to school and birthdays but we're done with them now. No more....We are back to saving a bit of money....

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Roast chicken dinner....
Tuesday - Prawn noodle stir fry....
Wednesday - Fish fingers, chips and beans....
ThursdayWhatever's in the fridge mini frittatas with spaghetti hoops....
Friday - Pizza....
SaturdayBacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf & onion rings.
Sunday - Cottage pie....

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Another birthday and lots of food. Week 37 of #Project365

The kids have had their first full week back at school and they have both settled in well....I feel like we are back in the swing of things...When Friday came around we were still tired and ready for the weekend but not as tired as last

Now for a photo for every day....

251/365 - 8th September
Domino's for tea! We were supposed to have a day out for the start of Becky's birthday celebrations but after the first few days of school we wanted a lazy weekend. I let Becky choose the takeaway. Of course she had to go for the most expensive. 

252/365 - 9th September
I finished wrapping the last of Becky's birthday presents which I had bought on Sunday and put them out for her to open the next day....

253/365 - 10th September
My girl turned 16! She had a fab birthday despite having to go to school.

254/365 - 11th September
Angel Delight is such a treat. I was a bit surprised when I made the chocolate one. It was mint chocolate flavour! I'd never tried it before. It was good!

255/365 - 12th September
Stu went out to get a couple of things from Asda and saw this on sale for £1.50. He knows I like a novelty mug and what's better than a pineapple one! 

256/365 - 13th September
Ellie always plays with her food and this is what she created with an after school snack. lol

257/365 - 14th September
I got the shopping delivered early just so I could have some fresh danish pastries for breakfast. 

The Sunshine Blogger Award...

I was nominated for the The Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely Donna from Life as Mrs Jones. There is a lot of rules and ways to do this tag but I am just choosing to answer the questions Donna set for me....I love tags but I hate thinking of questions to ask other people....

What is your favourite TV programme, either old or new?
I watch so much TV....I think my favourite old TV show would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer and my favourite show at the moment is Hollyoaks....Usually it would be The Walking Dead but it's not on at the moment.

What pets do you have? If you don’t have any, what would you like?
We don't have any pets but I am really fancying a cat....We can't get one at the moment as we rent but maybe in the future. 

What’s your favourite dinner? Both to cook, and to eat out/takeaway.
My favourite dinner to cook is Spaghetti bolognese because I know it's the one meals that the kids will never complain about. To eat it will have to be a picky buffet tea. Where I cook a lot of random picky bits and we just help ourselves and my favourite takeaway is pizza!!

What is your favourite cake flavour?
Carrot cake! 

Name the last film you watched?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. I watched it during the week while the kids were at school....

What was the last book you read?
The last one of the Fifty Shades of Grey books....It has been so long since I read a book....I prefer to read blogs now.

Who is your celeb crush?
Robbie Williams! I have always loved him. He is someone that gets better with age.

Name 3 places you would like to visit on holiday?
Disney World, Florida. Tokyo, Japan and London. I have never been and want to even if it's just for a weekend.

If you could change your name, what it be and why would you want to change your name?
I always wanted to be called Joanne when I was a kid....I think it was because it was such a popular name when I was young.....

If you could emigrate, where would it be and why?
It would be to America. I have no idea where in America but I would love to live there....

What’s your favourite Disney film?
It is so hard to choose just one. It is a toss up between The Lion Kind and Finding Nemo or it could be Beauty and the Beast.....I can't decide.

Friday, 14 September 2018

When my girls are happy, I am happy! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

When my girls are happy, I am happy....We have had a fab week with both of my girls being in the best of moods....

On Sunday I needed to go and get Becky her birthday cake and wanted to pick up a couple of more things for her....I didn't want to go alone because I wouldn't be able to carry everything so we did something new and left the kids home alone. Eek! They are 11 & Becky was a day off being 16 and it was only for an hour or so. I wasn't happy about it. Stu & I left the girls playing on the xbox and when we got home they were still on the xbox. lol They hadn't moved. It's not something we will be doing all the time but it did make our shopping trip easier.

We were supposed to be having a day out on Saturday but after the first week at school the kids wanted a lazy weekend so we did just that. Becky's birthday was on Monday....She opened her cards and some of her presents on the morning then had to go to school. Hmmf. I still think kids should be allowed their birthday off school. hehehe 

When she came home she opened the rest, we had McDonalds for tea and of course cake. She was very happy with all of her presents and the xbox credit. I have told her to spend it wisely not just on rubbish for Minecraft. 

Last week Ellie had a shaky start to secondary school....She had a blister because of new shoes which ruined her first week and her timetable was a little messed up but this week her blister has gone, she got a printed version of her timetable from a teacher and is finding her way around the school OK. She is so happy in school which is wonderful to see....She did have an issue with a girl who used to bully her in primary school but she went straight to a teacher and got it sorted before I even knew anything about it....She also stood up to her for the first time and told her to go away. I was so proud. Secondary school seems to have given her so much confidence! 

It makes me so happy when my girls come in from school and tell me all about their day....They are so happy to be in the same school again. They are getting on better, they have so much in common again and it makes everyone happier...

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Greek organic herbal teas from Shelgo Tea!

I do love to support companies based in the North East and this one is a little bit more special to me because it is my friend Yiota and her partner who run it! 

Shelgo Tea specialise in Greek organic herbal teas....Yiota is a Greek native who moved to the UK over 13 years ago and it is something she is quite the expert in.

 They only use the highest quality loose leaf teas, use as much biodegradable packaging as they can and ensure that no pesticides, preservatives or flavourings have come into contact with their products during any stage of production.

Their Products:

Herbal Teas: From the organic sideritis scardica (aka Greek mountain tea) to the wild-picked Greek dandelion, they sell nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich loose leaf teas that pack a healthy punch.

All of the 100% loose leaf herbal teas sold by Shelgo Tea are naturally caffeine-free, additive-free and where possible organic. Most of the teas stocked are sourced from the mountains of Greece, including sideritis scardica, which is prized as a cure-all in its homeland but is relatively unheard of in the UK.

Accessories: The Shelgo Tea teaware selection includes the Thermos Infuser.

It is an all-in-one infuser, teapot and thermos. It can brew up to 500ml of hot tea at once and will keep your drink hot or cold for over 12 hours!

Gift Packs: The perfect gift for any tea lover—yourself included! Our gift packs combine synergistic herbs to help you Detox, Relax, or Feel Energised.

Honey: Coming soon!

Everything is from Shelgo teas is organic, everything is Greek, and everything is carefully packed by hand....

Every tea sold comes with an extensive guide covering everything from brewing tips and recipes, to health benefits and side effects.....

The teas can be shipped all across Europe from the base in the United Kingdom. Orders to UK addresses should arrive within 7 working days, but customers outside the UK may need to wait for up to 14 days. 

I have an exclusive offer for you! If you use the code "northumberlandmam” in the coupon code box you will get 15% off your order....

I was not paid or received anything to write this blog post.....I did it because the owner is a friend and it's nice to be nice.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Our visit to Alnwick Castle. Part 1.

A few years ago we visited Alnwick Garden and had a great day out and we have been meaning to go back to visit the castle since....

Alnwick Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in England. Home to the Duke of Northumberland's family, the Percys, for over 700 years, it has witnessed drama, intrigue, tragedy and romance. From stunning art collections and sumptuous State Rooms to medieval crafts and Harry Potter inspired magic.....

Alnwick Castle is open daily between until the 28th October and you can get in from 10am each day....We arrived around half past ten....We didn't have to go and pay because I booked online

Ticket Prices

When you pay for the day you can visit free for a year, you also save 10% when you buy online more than 24 hours in advance....

Castle Adult - £14.40 (£16.00 at the gate)
Castle Concession - £11.70 (£13.00 at the gate)
Castle Child (5-16yrs) - £7.65 (£8.50 at the gate)
Castle Child (4yrs and under)- Free
Castle Family (2 adults and up to 4 children)- £39.60 (£44.00 at the gate)

Walking through the gate there was Broomstick training to the right. The professors will use their unique skills to teach every class the basics of mastering a broomstick. Learn to mount and dismount, corner and manoeuvre, and accelerate and decelerate. The sessions last about 25 minutes and are free. You book a time slot when you get there. Unfortunately when we got there the only sessions left were for after we had to leave. It was an extremely busy day though. It just gives us another reason to go back for another visit!

We decided to head to the Artisans Courtyard where there is plenty going on....The first thing we saw was Dragon's Quest....Like the broomstick training you get a ticket for a time slot but luckily for us we got there while there was no queue and the door was just opening so got ushered straight in! 

Are you brave enough to enter the Dragon's Lair? Join forces with Harry Hotspur and the Dragon Catcher to battle mystical forces, conquer challenging obstacles and come face to face with a terrifying dragon. Will you stand your ground or quake with fear when you come face-to-face with Northumberland’s most fearsome beast?

It is a walk through experience mostly in the dark. There is scary and a really freaky mirrored walkway....There is a no photo policy in there. I would have loved to have got one of the dragon....Ellie is 11 and is usually fearless but it scared her a little and there was a little boy who cried all the way around....It is not for little one's. My teen and fella loved it though....

Also in the Artisans Courtyard there is Medieval Crafts. A different craft is available to try and take home each day, Costumes which you can wear while in the courtyard....You can be transformed into a noble knight or a brave princess. It was great to see all the little girls choosing to be knights and some boys being princesses....There was also games and various displays to see. Hidden away in the corner was a little room with lots of little animals and creepy crawlies to see....The kids loved these. 

We didn't have a great time in this part of the castle....It wasn't the castle's fault...Despite me telling Ellie not to go running down a hill she did and fell over.....She didn't hurt herself, she just gave herself a fright and was embarrassed more than anything....It put her into a foul mood which lasted about an hour so. She wasn't in a joining in type of mood....Grr!

We decided to stop off for a coffee in the cafe and it was lovely....All the seating is in a courtyard outside and there were plenty of empty seats considering how many people were visiting but at the same time plenty of people sat eating....The food looked amazing but we had taken a packed lunch which I instantly regretted as nothing seemed over priced. There were pizza's, giant Yorkshire puddings filled with meat and veg and I could have really went for some fish & chips from the Stables Fryery. They smelled amazing!!!

When we visited it was Wizarding week and it was fantastic to see so many people dressed up as characters from Harry Potter...Visitors and the staff. When we had finished our coffee's we came across Harry Potter himself & a Dumbledore putting on a talk....It was so much fun! They did a bit of magic and were so funny with it.....

I think I will leave it here for now as this blog post is long enough....There will be a part two coming soon!