Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Half Term Hygge With Plusnet


I know some of you have already had half term and are now back to school but this week our children are home and, thanks to Plusnet, we're spending some of the not-so-nice days cosying up hygge style!

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

For those of you who don't already know, hygge is a Danish word (pronounced "H-O-O-G-A") which is all about getting together, being cosy and content, sharing experiences and appreciating everyday life by making the ordinary special. Catching up over a cuppa or relaxing by a fire when it's raining outside are just a couple of examples of hygge.

So what kind of hygge family activities could you do this half term (or even on weekends if half term is over for you)? Here's a few ideas we got from our Plusnet Half Term Hygge box:

Build a fort...

Building forts or dens is something our children love to do. Over the years we've had everything from massive forts that completely take over the whole lounge to small forts that fit nicely behind the sofa. 

This time they were looking to build a cosy haven that fitted with the hygge theme so they used my clothes horse and the stand for Z's baby bath. It was quite a snug little fort but they loved it, even Z was invited to join them for a while and judging by her squeals of excitement she loved it too! The fairy lights and flag banner added to the lovely hygge atmosphere they had created.

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

Make some sweet treats...

Baking and eating yummy treats is always a favourite rainy-day activity in our house and it's also perfect for the hygge way of life. For me nothing is more cosy than snuggling on the sofa with my loved ones, some delicious baked goods and a hot chocolate.

We followed Plusnet's Danish Butter Biscuit recipe:

Danish Butter Biscuit Recipe

We made some without sprinkles because there are a couple of fussy bunnies in our family who like everything plain. The finished result may not look perfect but they tasted amazing! 

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

Then it was time for hot chocolate and to give it the hygge touch we sprinkled marshmallows on top. Yummy.

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

Family film night...

This is another activity that involves snuggling on the sofa, making it perfect for Half Term Hygge. 

We decided to watch Trolls because we hadn't managed to catch it at the cinema and were looking forward to watching it. Before we settled down to watch the film we popped some corn and covered it in icing sugar to give it a lovely sweet taste.

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

Afterwards we all rated the film on this fun family film night poster. The V Family gave Trolls three 5 stars, one 4½ stars and one 3½ stars (T was being a little harsh I think but then it probably isn't a film aimed at teenage boys). Obviously Z is a little young to be rating films at the moment although she did seem to enjoy all the colours!

Plusnet #HalfTermHygge

What kind of hygge family activities do you enjoy? I'd love to hear from you if you try out any of the above so please do let me know.


This post was written in collaboration with Plusnet.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Dining Area Conversion


Dining Area Conversion

You may remember my posts a while back about moving house because our current home didn't fit our needs as an expanding family. Well after much consideration and number crunching we've decided that adjusting our house will be much more cost-effective (not to mention less of an upheaval) so we're turning our three bedroom house into a four bedroom house!

Our house already has an open plan extension which contains a dining area and a small area that we use as an office. The plan is to add a couple of extra walls and a door so that the dining area becomes bedroom number four and the office will be a hallway from the back door to the lounge.

It does mean we'll have to clear out some of our furniture as obviously we won't have as much space once everything has to be moved into the lounge but to be perfectly honest some of our furniture is old and tatty anyway so it'll be a good excuse to get rid of it.

T is going to move into the new bedroom and N will then move into T's old room which she's super excited about because it's bigger than the room she's currently sharing with E. E will be staying where she is but will be able to have her clothes and toys in her own room instead of having them in our room (this tells you how overcrowded we are at the moment). Z will be staying in our room until she's old enough to share with E.

So we have lots of changes ahead and although I'm a little unsure about how it's all going to work out, I'm looking forward to it too. I'm planning on taking photos of the new room as it takes shape so I'll be able to post it here on V Family Fun as a permanent reminder for us all to look back on.

Have you added another bedroom to your property? I'd love to hear about your experiences.


Friday, 17 February 2017

Mila And Pheebs Stationery Box For Kids


Today I'm sharing my thoughts on the product that led to my first EVER YouTube video!

I recently ordered a one-off box from Mila and Pheebs which is a company that sells kids stationery, activities and most importantly subscription boxes. These kind of boxes are really popular at the moment and I must admit I find them rather difficult to resist. 

I bought the Somewhere Over The Rainbow box for my girls who are as crazy about stationery as I am. This is when I decided to do a quick unboxing video (I'm a huge fan of unboxing videos) as I had been meaning to take the leap into becoming a YouTube star blogger, ahem.

So without further ado, here it is: 


As you can see there were loads of lovely bits and pieces for my girls to get creative with. 

Mila & Pheebs

I particularly liked the pretty information sheet stuck to the lid of the box because it gives you the wow factor as soon as you open it.

Mila & Pheebs

The rainbow and unicorn theme was perfect for my girly girls who loved all the bright colourful items. Since I've been a mum I always look at the quality of things (totally sounding like my own mum there) and I'm pleased to tell you that the quality was good, I don't think E has managed to break anything... yet! 

Mila & Pheebs

There were loads of activities included in the box which kept the girls busy for a long time. 

Mila & Pheebs

The heart stickers were a massive hit, I'm still finding them stuck in random places like the gecko vivarium and Z's changing station. They make the house look more sparkly though so I don't really mind.

Mila & Pheebs

Overall I was really pleased with the box I ordered, I definitely think there will be more of these in our future. It'd be a great idea to have a few stashed away for rainy day activities.

Mila & Pheebs

Mila and Pheebs also offer a subscription service for their boxes as well as the one-off kind, I believe you can sign up for a rolling service, 3 months, 6 months or even a whole year (imagine receiving one of these lovely boxes every single month for a year)! Pop over to the website and you'll find all the information you need about their subscription services and relevant costs.

Are you a subscription box addict? Have you ever bought a box from Mila and Pheebs? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Book Review - The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick


THE BOOK

The Boy Most Likely To



















Genre: Teens | YA
Publisher: Egmont Publishing
Publication Date: 9 June 2016

"Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the drinks cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard . . ."

MY REVIEW

I really enjoyed My Life Next Door by this author (review on Me, My Books and I) so I just couldn't resist finding out if I'd feel the same about The Boy Most Likely To which is a companion read.

Getting to know Tim a little bit better at the beginning of the book was an eye-opener, it was clear that he had made some bad life choices. He had an attitude which I'm sure would irritate me in real life but in a book I absolutely love characters with sass, they're so much fun to read.

I liked catching up with the characters from My Life Next Door, it kind of felt like an update from old friends. Alice's household was still crazy and reminded me of the big-family madness in my own home.

The chemistry between Tim and Alice was exciting to read, I didn't care that I could see where it was headed because I was enjoying the journey to get to that point. Then came a shocking announcement that I knew would complicate the journey. I'm fairly sure I gasped out loud as I read it but I'm not entirely sure because I was so caught up in the moment!

The complication caused a mixture of emotional, dramatic and sometimes even funny scenes. This was a twist that I really hadn't expected but thoroughly enjoyed.

The Boy Most Likely To took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and surprises. A wonderful read.

5 Stars
5 Stars














CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR


BUY THE BOOK



Thank you to the publisher for approving my NetGalley request for this eBook in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Tasty But Easy Meals With Cirio


Longstanding V Family Fun readers will know that when I'm cooking I like things to be simple. I'm certainly not Masterchef material (I have four children, the easy option is always the way I'm going to go.). 

However, I do want our meals to be tasty so I'm regularly on the lookout for products that are not only simple to use but yummy as well.

Enter Cirio and their fabulous range of tomato and bean products! They recently sent me a selection of goodies to try out...

Cirio

So what did this kitchen amateur think?

These products are so easy to use yet taste delicious. They genuinely tasted like I had spent ages preparing fresh tomatoes and beans to add to our meals when in reality I had simply popped open a can/unscrewed a lid/cut the corner off a carton. 

We created Mr V's Hot Chilli using Cirio finely chopped tomatoes with chilli and cannellini beans...

Mr V's Hot Chilli with Cirio

The kids took over the kitchen to make pizzas with Cirio's flavoured passata...

Pizza with Cirio

The rest of the passata went to good use as E loves pasta dishes for lunch...

Pasta with Cirio

We added the Cirio chopped tomatoes to this mince and mash meal...

Mince and Mash with Cirio

I love how easy these products make it to create tasty meals for my family. They're a bit of a lifesaver to be honest because as long as I have Cirio in the cupboard I'm able to put something together quickly and easily. Perfect when I have a hungry teenager on my hands.

Over the coming weeks I'll be sharing the recipes for the above meals and more so watch this space!

Do you use Cirio products? Do you like to make cooking simple? I'd love to hear from you.


I received the above products for review purposes. I am always honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own or that of my family.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Small Human Company Baby Food Pouches


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have seen that we recently started weaning Z (how quickly time is going).

I discovered The Small Human Co on Instagram and was intrigued by their upcoming launch of baby food pouches. I'd never used this kind of reusable pouch before but wanted to try so when I saw that they were offering a free set of pouches if you signed up before the launch date I couldn't resist.

Baby Food Pouches

When the launch date came around, as promised, I received a code for a free pack of 8 reusable pouches from Amazon. I'm already an Amazon Prime member so next day delivery was free too, bonus! 

The next day I received this lovely printed box, I'm always impressed by pretty packaging so this was a great start for me. 

Baby Food Pouches

The pouches are bright and colourful. They're bigger than I expected, another good thing, and I like the fact that there are two spare lids - losing or breaking lids often results in having to throw away a perfectly good product so this makes me happy. 

Baby Food Pouches

There is also a handy little booklet included which contains meal ideas and recipes to help you get started.

Baby Food Pouches

On the back of each pouch is a nice big area to write down the details of what's inside and reminders that they're safe to use in the dishwasher and freezer but not in the microwave.

Baby Food Pouches

The first thing I did before using them was rinse them out, this is made easy by the shape of the pouches, they have a curved top which means no water (or later on, food) will collect in the corners. I struggled a bit to open the bottom of each pouch with wet hands so I had to use dry hands to open them.

Next I put the lids on so the baby food wouldn't come out of the top as I poured it in - this sounds obvious but is definitely something I would do if I wasn't concentrating (still blaming baby brain)! 

On this particular occasion I was making roasted sweet potato which can be quite thick so unfortunately I wasn't able to pour it into the bottom of the pouches, I had to spoon it in which ended up being a little bit messy. 

Baby Food Pouches

You do have to be careful not to overfill them otherwise the baby food will squidge out when you're sealing the bottom. This only happened to me once but it was something I didn't want to repeat.

I left the bottoms of the pouches open (and upright) to cool before sealing them and putting them in the freezer for future use. The seal is very good although I did find them a little tough to squeeze completely shut, I guess this is to ensure the food doesn't leak out so it's tough for a good reason.

Baby Food Pouches

They are easy to use and store so I can see that I'll get a lot of use out of them as we progress through our weaning journey.

Have you used baby food pouches? I'd love to know what you think.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Book Review - Those Summer Nights by Mandy Baggot


THE BOOK


Those Summer Nights



















Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 27 May 2016

"Imogen Charlton is sorted. Dead-beat husband? History. Dream job? Application sent. But then her impulsive brother, Harry, spends every last penny on a Greek restaurant in Corfu, and is determined to run it himself. It’s up to Imogen to bring him to his senses.

When sexy millionaire Panos Dimitriou offers to buy back his family taverna, Imogen wonders if all her prayers have been answered (and all her fantasies about to come true). But Harry won’t budge, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Bright pink bougainvillea tumbling over whitewashed walls, endless blue skies, the sparkling Mediterranean; it’s hard not to fall for Corfu. And that’s not all Imogen is falling for…

As the sparks of passion fly between Imogen and Panos, is Imogen having second thoughts on selling the restaurant? And will she have to choose between love and a new dream?"

MY REVIEW


I love Mandy Baggot's writing (my previous reviews can be found on Me, My Books and I) so I was really looking forward to getting round to this book. Did it live up to my high expectations though?

Of course it did!

The warm characters, that I have come to associate with Mandy's books, quickly pulled me into the storyline and made me keen to find out more about them. For some reason Harry was a favourite of mine, his enthusiasm made me giggle and I loved where his heart was, even when his head was running away with him. Genuine is a word that springs to mind when I think of Harry.

At this point I was looking forward to the first meeting of the two sides and had lots of questions swirling around in my head. Would they clash? Would they hit it off? Would there be some sort of foul play?

I became thoroughly caught up in the events happening before me, often I'd think the storyline was heading one way but then it would unexpectedly switch directions. It certainly kept me on my toes.

The sexual tension was palpable and exciting, just the heated kind of atmosphere I'm looking for in a romantic book.

This was a warm read that left me dreaming of beautiful beaches and delicious Greek food. Another winner from Mandy Baggot!

5 Stars
5 Stars














CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



Thank you to the publisher for approving my NetGalley request for this eBook in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Back On The Weight Loss Train


If you're a regular reader you might remember my previous posts about weight loss. Well now they're back - two weeks ago I decided to jump back on the weight loss train.

After having Z I'm heavier than I've ever been so my start weight is higher than it was after my previous pregnancies. I now have approx 4 stone to lose! 

I'm taking it one step at a time though and setting myself 7lb goals because this seems much more achievable and far less daunting.

Once again I have decided to lose weight using the MyFitnessPal app to keep an eye on my calorie intake and the Runkeeper app to track my walks (although I'm considering a Fitbit for this side of things in the future). 

The past two weeks haven't been easy but I've stuck with it and now I'm starting to get into a comfortable routine. This leads me to my very first weight loss update for 2017, my total weight loss so far is: 

Weight Loss

This means I reached my first goal in just two weeks, I couldn't be more proud! 

If any of you are also trying to lose weight or feel inspired to jump on board with me then please leave a comment below. These things are always easier when you have support.


Friday, 3 February 2017

Sharing the Book Love


I recently came up with a fun way to find a new read and share the book love...

#shareaparagraph

How do I join in?

It's simple. If you're currently reading a book that you're enjoying then share the book love on Instagram or Twitter by taking a photo of any paragraph in that book and sharing it using the hashtag #shareaparagraph 

Don't forget to include the title of the book and author so others know what they're reading.

Those Summer Nights by Mandy Baggot #shareaparagraph

How does this help other readers?

This idea lets readers into a part of the book that the blurb doesn't share. It gives you a feel for the authors writing and sometimes it might just intrigue you enough to make you want to know more! It's a different way to find your next read.

How does this help authors and/or the publishing industry?

Having been a book blogger for around 5 or 6 years I know just how important word-of-mouth is to the industry. A personal recommendation is always going to grab someones attention more than a recommendation from someone trying to sell you the book, am I right? 

That's why I love the idea of #shareaparagraph so much - it's fun but it also gets the books out there to a wider audience.


I'll be following the #shareaparagraph hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and will be liking or retweeting any photos shared. 

It would be really great to get as many readers as possible involved in this, we could build a little paragraph-sharing bookish community!


Talk of the Town
Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Trying To Holiday In The UK


Today's subject is something I feel very strongly about... 

Trying to holiday in the UK

More specifically, trying to holiday in the UK as a family of six during the school holidays.  

I know this is a subject that has been brought up time and time again but I just have to share our recent experience of trying to plan a family Holiday in the UK because to be perfectly honest it was a bit of a shocker.

Firstly let me tell you that T and N have both had 100% attendance at school for the past few years, they both work exceptionally hard and as a result have achieved some fantastic results. This is something we're all proud of.

Last year I was going through a pretty naff pregnancy which meant we weren't able to take the children away so this year we wanted to do something special, a treat for the younger ones and a reward for the older ones for working so hard at school. 

Now we don't have loads of spare money, I stay at home to look after the family while hubby works as hard as he can to provide for us all. We're okay but we're not particularly well off either so we always need to have a clear budget in mind when we're planning anything big like a holiday. This is why, when we began our search for holidays in the UK, we were so shocked to see that our budget didn't even come close to covering it. The reason for this was purely because we were looking for a break during the school holidays.

Our children were suggesting all sorts of places they'd like to go: tree houses, Butlins, hotels, Alton Towers, Bluestone, boat trips, Center Parcs etc etc. but none of these were affordable on the dates we were able to go. As a quick comparison we looked at Disneyland Paris and it worked out to be around the same price as Butlins! I mean, really??

I accept that it's a busy time for holidays but is it really necessary to increase the price by so much? The most sickening part is that the prices aren't even just doubled, they're MORE than doubled simply because of the date. Does the holiday home miraculously evolve into a state-of-the-art luxury accommodation during the school holidays? Do they go in and stock all the cupboards with complimentary M&S food and drink as a treat for the school holidays? Do they provide you with a personal butler for the week? No, you'll be experiencing exactly the same holiday as someone who stays there the week before the school holidays start. Yet you'll be paying so much more. Doesn't exactly sound fair does it! 

I'll give you an example. One particular resort charged approx £300 for a holiday home the week before the school summer holidays started, the following week (the first week of the summer holidays) the exact same accommodation increased in price to approx £1500!!! What the *insert swear words of choice here*???

So essentially we are being punished for not wanting to take our children out of school for a holiday. I know many parents do, and I completely understand why they do, because the fine for taking them out of school is significantly less than the ridiculous price increases for holidaying during the school break. 

I believe children deserve a treat after a long school year but this situation is making it incredibly difficult for parents to reward their children for all their hard work and it puts us under even more pressure both financially and emotionally.

Someone who has the power to make a change needs to address this problem and put a stop to the unacceptable overpricing of school holiday breaks. It just isn't fair on our children - they either have to miss out on some of their education or miss out on a holiday and personally I don't want my children to miss out on either. Why should they?

In the meantime if anyone knows of anywhere that doesn't increase their prices by an extortionate amount during the school holidays (I'm well aware this is a long shot) please send me the details. 

I'd love to know what you think about this subject so please feel free to leave a comment below.