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The Sweetly Inspiring Stories of the Love Monster

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As much as we try to plan ahead, life can throw curveballs that leave us overwhelmed which can be hard to control or understand. It becomes easy to feel anxious and freak out. A few months ago, none of us would have imagined a world where hugging a close friend or family member would feel like a luxury from a past life, yet here we are.


Life has changed in ways that no one thought was possible and even now as things begin to ease many of us are still feeling anxious and worried. So trying to manage those emotions can be pretty tough for an adult let alone a child. It is so important to be supportive when speaking to our children, and reassure that their thoughts and feelings are okay. 

My daughter had a particular tough time with all the sudden changes, not seeing the people she loved or even going out in the car. As parents our priority was to make her feel at ease so we would always  make sure that we were as open and honest as we could be. Eventually she spoke about her feelings and said that she felt sad and trapped because the pandemic is stopping her from doing everything she loved. 


And even though it might seem impossible when they have setbacks, being mindful, supportive and finding ways to show them that it happens to many of us can change the way they deal with those emotions. We have been learning all about the sweetly inspiring stories of the Love Monster who is a slightly hairy monster trying really hard to fit it. But it turns out, it can be hard to fit in when you're a googly-eyed monster. 

But the Love Monster surrounds himself with a group of friends who help him follow his heart and encourage him to try not overthink all the different life lesson they learn on their big adventures. The Love Monster is a delightful character who provides a great role model when it comes to learning about emotional and social development. We love these inspiring stories as they are a really great way to encourage young readers to take a positive approach when life is not going their way. 

The Love Monster Books

The Love Monster books have been written by Rachel Bright and are full of bright and colourful illustrations which are great for children. The are very realistic, and you can see that attention to detail was really important for the illustrator. As well as the bright pictures my daughter really liked the style of writing and the size of the font - these books are perfect for little one who are beginning to recognise letters and words. The Love Monster and the Perfect Present was our favourite book. Everyone in Cutesville was excited for the most special day of the year: Present Day. Love Monster goes on a hunt for the perfect gift for his special someone, but as it turns out, finding the perfect gift is not easy. And the only thing worse than a not-perfect present is no present at all. But Love Monster soon comes up with the idea for the best gift ever. 


The wonderfully warm and witty best-selling books by Rachel Bright are a great way to introduce emotions to your child. By teaching them the importance of kindness, empathy, compassion and teach them ways to deal with feeling a certain way. With each day brings a new adventure and the Love Monster is always very excited to join in, but often finds that by trying too hard to follow with his overthinking head rather than his heart. Something that many children can empathise with. 

The Love Monster Follows His Big Heart onto Cbeebies!

I sat with my daughter and watched a few Love Monster adventures. My daughter really loved watching the Hot Hot Day episode where the Love Monster volunteers to help Book Cub with her fro-yo van while she popped out to get more cups. But after Bad Idea Puppy encourages him to give out extra fro-yo, he gets carried away and accidentally breaks the fro-yo machine, causing a big mess. When Book Cub returns, she is upset, but Love Monster apologises and together they clean everything up. Throughout the episode my daughter made consistent references to the Love Monster and his feelings about whether he should do what he is told not to do - a great episode for a discussion on that life lesson.


We also watched Plant a Seed Day where the Love Monster needed a little patience for the seeds he planted to grow. In this episode the Love Monster begins to get worried as he sees his friends plant growing, but he has to learn that some things take time. This episode is a great talking point for children in understanding the importance of patience. The Love Monster is available every weekday on Cbeebies or you catch up on the BBC iplayer here.

Love Monster Activities

However the fun didn't stop there. We were kindly set over some fun Love Monster activities to do together. The first we did was similar to one of the episodes that we watched together and needing a little patience with planting some seeds. My daughter really enjoyed decorating the pit, soaking the cotton wall and planting the cress seeds. We have been planting a few seeds during the pandemic but it was really interesting to let her take the lead and remember all the things that we needed to do when planting them.



Afterwards we both sat at the dining room table and did some of the puzzles and coloured in some pretty pictures of the Love Monster and his friends. We then finished our day by making some fro-yo pops which are perfect for a healthy snack on a hot day. They were really simple and easy to make and we added some blueberries to ours - we kind of have a thing about blueberries in our house, in that we try and put them in everything. 



We all loved learning all about the Love Monster who is kind and so caring, but it is quite refreshing to see characters like this develop and grow as they learn life lessons. Just like children. The Love Monster is going to be a great learning resource to help children talk about their emotion, understand that feeling certain ways is okay and figure out ways to deal with those emotions.

For a chance to win a set of two Love Monster Books why don't you head over to our Instagram page to enter our latest giveaway. All you need to do is click the link and follow the instructions. Good Luck. 


**We have been kindly gifted these products but as always my words and opinions are my own. Images are subject to copyright, please seek permission before using.**

Our Family Holiday 2020: North Yorkshire, Darley

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With many of us resigned to the fact that we won't be able to head abroad this summer due to the pandemic causing travel havoc, most of us are booking staycations. 


The UK is surrounded by many beautiful, historic and fascinating places that we all should be choosing to go on staycations. One of our favourite places to book a staycation is in the Yorkshire Dales. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, beautiful waterfalls, heritage and sheep - what more could you want.


We booked a cottage in the village of Darley in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire. It is not an area we have been to before but it was so good to disconnect, walk in the hills, dip our feet in fresh cold water and just take a breath. We all couldn't wait to get away so we packed the car and got on the road straightaway. Despite the bumper to bumper traffic we arrived at the cottage in good time to get all settled and organise our week ahead. 



The self-catered cottage included a family room, a double room and a single room which is ideal for a family of six.  My daughter was really happy with her single room because it had a dressing table with a huge mirror, my parents enjoyed their en-suite family room with a double bed and single bed. However we pulled the short straw and got the double room that could barely squeeze in a double bed. The downstairs was more than ample for us with a good size kitchen and dining room, a washing machine, a dishwasher and the cottage was surrounded by beautiful gardens that both our daughter and puppy loved.



Exploring Yorkshire

Mother Shipton's was the first place on our list to explore. However due to the social distancing measures all admissions needed to be booked online in advance. The time slot sessions were for pre-booked car admissions only that allowed us 2.5 hours to explore the attraction.



Mother Shipton’s is beloved landmark in Knaresborough and one of the oldest tourist attractions in England, opening back in 1630! With a picturesque mile-long walk along the River Nidd you will make so many discoveries and learn so much about Mother Shipton. It was a great day out for all the family and Winston loved the walk and all the attention from other visitors. An intriguing and quirky place that children will love. 


We then headed to Pateley Bridge a place full of tranquil charms that is nestled in the heart of Nidderdale. With friendly residents, cafes, bakeries and the cutest little shops you will feel so welcomed. If you do ever find yourself in this adorable village then you must go and visit Kendall's Butchers that was full of fresh meat, cooked ham and delicious pies. Every visit they would send us away with cooked meat for the puppy which was so kind. 


Just across the road is The Oldest Sweet Shop in England which is a truly magical and memorable experience. With row upon row of glass jars filled with handmade traditional sweets weighed out by the quarter of a pound into old fashioned scales. Smell the aroma of sweets as you marvel at the old building dating back to the 1600's with its original features, fixtures and fittings.

Rock climbing at Brimham Rocks

As we were in Nidderdale we knew that there Brimham Rocks was one place that we really wanted to visit. We had seen some amazing photos online and knew that our little rock climber would love to adventure to a place like this. There is no entrance fee but you do pay for parking. As you would expect from the National Trust they were very clean and tidy, apart from some dog poo near the entrance that my daughter just HAD to step in. 



We decided to go on a little mystery tour that led us to find Harmby Waterfall tucked away next to a bungalow surrounded by beautiful gardens and rose bushes. The path quickly descends into the woods of Harmby Gill before crossing the stream a wooden gate gives closer access to the waterfall. It was a great find. 



We were half way through the week and we were all feeling refreshed. But it was time for more adventures. The Druid's Temple located near Leighton Reservoir with the surrounding moorland and landscape was perfect for our next adventure. Within the woodland there are a number of other standing stones, and the site is of particular appeal to walkers, families and bird watchers. We discovered this place a couple of years ago by chance and ever since there it has become a favourite place to stop for a cup of tea and slice of cake. 





A picturesque riverside village 

With such beautiful weather that we decided pack a picnic and to go the Strid at Bolton Abbey. But that was booking online too. We thought as it was a woodland walk we wouldn't need to but they were charging £10 for two hours that were not transferrable between the Bolton Estate car parks! I refused to pay that! Last year was £6 and could be transfer them between the car parks. 


We then decided to go further afield and came across a cute little village of Burnsall situated on the banks of the River Wharfe. This picturesque riverside village in Lower Wharfedale downstream of Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. Situated by an ancient packhorse bridge crossing a bend in the meandering River Wharfe, the village makes an excellent location for exploring the unspoiled countryside. Perfect place to eat ice cream! We ended our day at The Hoffman Lime Kiln a wonderful place to discover the industrial heritage along the self guided tour. We made a cup of tea in their car park before setting off on the walk, but afterwards I managed to get behind the wheel in my parents huge car to practise parking.



The weather is always unpredictable and changed to bright and sunny to doom and gloomy. But that never stops us and fwe came across Hackfall Wood a beautiful landscape open to all near Masham, with lakes, waterfalls, follies and paths to explore stretching along the banks of the River Ure. There is something about the wild splendour of Hackfall Woods that simply inspires creativity. It really made us feel like an explorer discovering a lost civilisation. My daughter said she felt like Dora the Explorer.



It was our last day and there was gorgeous sunshine. One last trip to Pateley Bridge then to Heben Suspension Bridge over River Wharfe. A very nice and peaceful walk along the side of the river. The view around the bridge are simply breath taking, with plenty of wildlife and trees surrounding making it the perfect place to picnic. After an hour or so splashing around it was time to make a move.


Our last stop high on Ilkley Moor was the Cow and Calf Rocks which are a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulders. The rocks are made of millstone grit, a variety of sandstone, and are so named because one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf. According to local legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy, and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. The enemy, it is rumoured, was his angry wife. But who knows? It is a pretty exciting story to tell the little lady who couldn't wait to go rock climbing with her Daddy. 


So there you have it! All the details to our little staycation in North Yorkshire. It was so good to disconnect from the world take some time for ourselves, relax and not worry about everything around us. We have created some of the best memories that we will cherish forever. 

Surviving The Summer Holidays During a Pandemic

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The pandemic has made prioritising certain things a challenge. Most of us had to work from home, attend appointments on our own, experience the joys of home schooling as well as doing household chores, running errands or constantly doing the laundry. Those months became really overwhelming and would often leave me feeling completely exhausted. It was tough. Thankfully the lockdown is easing up just as we say goodbye to the school year and welcome the summer holidays - and we couldn't be happier.



Understandably most of us are not quite sure what to expect and feel pretty anxious about the thought of keeping our little ones busy and entertained over the next six weeks. Even if some places are opening back up, we will likely still be socially distancing and wearing mask. So how do we survive the summer holidays during a pandemic?

Book a Staycation, You Deserve It!

With many of us resigned to the fact that we won't be able to head abroad this summer due to the pandemic causing travel havoc, most of us are booking staycations. And if you made it through home schooling, you deserved a little break. We enjoyed our staycation to North Yorkshire

Sometimes we overlook some of the beautiful, historic and fascinating places that surround us waiting to be discovered. Honestly, we should all be booking more staycations. Spend time together making special plans for activities each day of your staycation, not forgetting that most attractions will need to be booked in advanced

Maintain a Routine. 

If home schooling your children has taught you anything, you will know the importance of maintaining a routine. By keeping some kind of structure to your days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes will help keep children happy and healthy. For the summer, involve your children in the process of creating their schedule for the day. It will make them feel as if they are in control and are likely to stick to their schedule. Every day after breakfast my daughter will write a list of five activities she wants to do during the day - it is such a great way to keep her focused and engaged

Embrace the Boredom.

Embrace boredom? Yep, absolutely. As many of us had to home school our children the cries of “I’m bored” are like a recurring parental nightmare on a constant loop. Boredom in children is common and something that every parent, teacher and sane adult wants to avoid. But allow them to be bored now and again, believe it or not - it's actually good for them. Boredom in children is essential for their mental and emotional development; by allowing them to bored actually encourages their imagination and creativity. Go on, give it a try!


Relax and Unwind.

With everything that is going on in the world, most of us feel out of sorts and way more stressed than usual. When you're feeling overwhelmed, take the time to take a minute, breath, and focus as this can really help you deal with difficult emotions and worries. During this pandemic relaxation techniques have really help my anxiety - breathing techniques, meditation, reading and blogging are the best ways to keep those feeling in check. So relax and unwind - its the summer holidays. 

Stay Connected.

Our day to day life has really changed, but we all have adapted to our new normal. Staying connected with friends and family was so important for us to keep going and now that the restrictions are slowly easing we will continue to stay connected with family and friends. Try schedule a socially distanced 'bring your own' picnic, go walking in the park or make a virtual play date with your own friends, or perhaps your child's school friends. 


Adventure Outdoors.

As long as you follow the social distancing rules and mask wearing, having playdates with families who are on the same page when it comes to the safety rules can be a welcoming break. If you're unsure that things are safe at the moment, then go to open spaces and adventure outdoors. We have found of the best little spots that enable us to explore, but was safe enough for us to feel at ease and comfortable. 

Appreciate the Little Things.

Farms, theme parks, zoos and soft play areas are all wonderful. But there are times that children may just want to spend time with you. Over the past few months we have had the best time relishing in all the moments we have made during this lockdown. The lockdown baking, crafts, spending time in the garden playing games. Simple childhood fun.

How will you survive the summer holidays?

Syn Free Crispy Baked Oven Chips

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Everyone loves chips! Whether you are having them together with a steak or served up as a staple side dish for many a meal. Is it really possible to make crispy, fluffy chips at home, without using a deep fat fryer? I'm happy to tell you that with a little prep and patience you can. And if you’re looking for the healthier alternative these baked oven chips are an absolute must!


These crispy baked oven chips are so simple and easy to master. It really all comes down to the right ingredients. They have become a bit of a staple in our house that seem to get better each time we make them. These crispy baked oven chips are great with a skinny burger, juicy honey and mustard pork loins or with a Mexican burritos. The best thing about this crispy baked oven chip recipe is that you can experiment with the seasonings. 


When it comes to creating crispy and fluffy chips it's all about the potato. Maris Piper potatoes have golden skin and creamy white flesh with a fluffy texture. This makes it a versatile all rounder, great for chips and roast potatoes, but also good for mash and wedges. I have always used Maris Piper potatoes for the particular slimming world recipe. The result is beautifully fluffy chips with plenty of little crispy bits.

To make these syn free crispy baked oven chips you will need : 

900g medium sized Maris Piper potatoes
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp of onion powder
Low calorie cooking spray
Crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Peel the potatoes using a potato peeler and remove any blemishes then slice lengthwise into thick rectangular chips, you could even use a potato cutter to get your chips all the same length and thickness. 

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil then carefully add the chips into the pan and cook for 4 minutes. It's really important to not overcook your chips as you will end up with soggy chips. 

3. Drain and set aside. Then using a clean kitchen towel place spread your chips on one half, fold over the other half and rub the chips dry.

4. Once towel dried place them into a separate bowl and use the low calories spray to coat your chips. Sprinkle paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper all over. You can either place a towel or cling film over the top of your bowl and give it a little shake to help coat your chips evenly adding some low calorie spray when needed. 

5. To perfect our syn free crispy baked oven chips we have used a number of different tools and found that a deep set glass rectangular  Pyrex dish is best. Transfer the chips to your dish or tray spread your chips out evenly, making sure to use greaseproof paper or non-stick foil. Then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turning occasionally until golden brown on all sides. 

Once ready you can serve them up with a range of different foods depending on the taste combinations you are going for. Don't forget to experiment with flavours. Why not try garlic and herb, toasted cumin seeds or even chili flakes to really bring out the flavour. 

Don't forget to pin me for a Fakeaway Friday


Creative Play with Chalkola + Giveaway

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Home schooling has been an adventure and hasn't come without it's challenges. We struggled with a routine and getting a good balance of learning, following the curriculum as much as we could without it becoming overwhelming. But children are so resilient and some are really great when it comes to adapting to changes and somewhere along the way we found our feet. 

The best way to keep my little one engaged with her learning was to make it fun, nobody wanted to be staring at a computer screen for hours. The more creative the better. We've had so much fun along the way with our home schooling adventure that they will become some of the most cherished memories we will have. But as we are coming towards the end of the school year it seems to be getting harder and harder to think of creative ideas that are going to keep her interested and engaged.


We love getting the craft box out and with home schooling it has been one of the best ways to keep my daughter focused with her learning. But let's be honest most of us don't have the time or energy to go full on paint, glue sticks, sequins and glitter every single day. But that doesn't mean that we don't want to be creative. We are always happy to welcome new creative ways to capture her interests and keep her learning as fun as possible. 






































So lucky enough for us Chalkola was kind enough to send us this fun chalk board and chalk marker set to help us unleash a little creativity. We have been doing lots of pictures, create a sign and opened a Sylvanian gift shop and written lots of notes to loved ones. It has been such a fun way to get creative, keep focused and have lots of fun. We received a wooden chalkboard easel and a box of  21 chalk markers including some metallic ones from Chalkola and we couldn’t wait to enjoy some creative play. 

Chalk Markers

This chalk marker set comes in a bundle of 21 pens made up of chunky chalk pens and some metallic pens. There was a pack of 15 chunky chalk pens in the bundle with a 6mm reversible tip enabling you to choose from a round tips or a chisel tip for those who are like calligraphy. We really liked the size of these markers as they were big enough to allow little hands to hold them and give my daughter the ability to have more control. We received a good selection of colours that were really bright and bold including dark green, candy pink, red and dessert green. My daughter loved all these bright colours and she quickly learned that she needed to do a lot of pen shaking to get them to colour on the board. 

These chalks are non-toxic, xylene-free and odour free, quick drying and long lasting. We all know that little ones can get messy so it's great to know that these chalks can be cleaned up quickly and washed out of clothes. Yay no stains. They are suitable from ages three and up so adults can have just as much fun as the little ones. 


As a part of this bundle pack we also received 6 slim metallic markers from the metallic series that had 4.5mm bullet tip with a good range of colours to choose from including silver, gold, green and red. These will be great to use with the chalkboard for celebrations and holidays you can grab these in packs of 10 too. 

The Chalkola Chalk Board

The chalkboard is stylish and very aesthetically pleasing so it will be great to use for sign post for parties, celebrations and you could even use it as a countdown to Christmas. The chalkboard is a really good size for little hands and it was be used laying down on a table, on their laps and when stood upright. However we did find that when using this way as you apply a little pressure it would  always move or fall over - so we prefer to use our chalkboard when it's on a flat surface.  


The chalkboard is so easy to set up and there is no need for any instructions or screwdrivers! The legs are attached to the board by a small gold chain for easy assembling and the legs just pop out. At the bottom of the board there is a place where you can put a couple of your chalk pens which is really handy. The board itself is really smooth meaning that the chalk pens can glide across the board. The chalks are really bright and bold and looks amazing against the sheen on the chalkboard creating some wonderful art. 

More Than Just Chalk Markers

What makes these chalks even better is that you can use them on non porous surfaces as they can be removed with a wet wipe cloth. You could use them on food labels, leave notes on mirrors or windows, mark on ceramics, plastics, jars, mugs, and any other non-porous surface you can find. Just make sure that you don't add them to a porous surface as they could leave a mark that will be difficult to remove.

We really loved this chalkboard and the beautiful bright marker bundle. They are such a great way to unleash a little creativity without the mess. They really are more that just chalk markers! We have been using this chalkboard to create lots of pretty pictures, draw rainbows on our windows to show support for the NHS and for our home schooling for things like spellings, words of the day and sums. You could even take them along for long car journeys to keep little ones occupied. Have you ever used these Chalkola markers before? If so, what do you think?


You can use our discount code to get 10% off on the Chalkola website by entering 'KELLYANNE10' at the checkout.

Or you can get 10% over on Amazon with the code 'CHALKOLA10'. 

However if you fancy your chance at winning a set of 21 chalk markers yourself why not enter our giveaway! 

All you need to do is click the link below and follow the instructions. 

GOOD LUCK. 



**We have been kindly gifted these products from Chalkola but as always my words and opinions are my own. Images are subject to copyright, please seek permission before using.**

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