Friday, 28 September 2012

More Macmillan Cakes! Luv It! Bermo's Fundraising Coffee Morning

Here's the second installment of Macmillan Coffe Morning Cupcakes (and muffins this time!).  We have....

Mallow Chrysanthemum Cupcakes
Royal Iced Macmillan Vanilla Cupcakes
Ginger & Lemon Cupcakes and Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Mango & Papaya Muffins with Mango Buttercream

I hope the event gets lots of support as Macmillan do a fantastic job supporting cancer sufferers and their families in times of need.

It's a scary thought but one in three of us will get cancer and it’s the toughest thing most of us will ever face. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or a loved one has, you’ll want a team of people in your corner supporting you every step of the way.

Macmillan Cancer support provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care.

£25.00 will pay for one hour for a Macmillan nurse to suppor
t a family affected by cancer.
£51.00 could buy a liquidiser for someone who can't eat solid food as a result of their cancer treatment.
£70.00 could help run a large Macmillan information and support centre for an hour.
£191.00 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for a day, helping people living with cancer and their families receive essential support.
£220.00 could pay for travel and accommodation for a support group member to attend a dealing with loss workshop.
£333.00 could pay for a Macmillan Grant that helps a family affected by cancer take a holiday and enjoy precious time together.

Help us to raise some funds for this great cause! Pop in for some coffee and cake this Saturday 11.00- 3.00pm, look forward to seeing you all :)

So do what the lady says!  If you're close enough, pop to Luv It! Bermo tomorrow (Saturday 29th Sept 2012) and show your support.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Artistic Designs! Brownie Meeting Plan

Welcome - introduce new members (if any).

Active Game - Hunt The Bomb
Equipment needed - alarm clock with ringing alarm or kitchen timer.

  1. The Brownies sit in a circle - eyes closed.
  2. Leader sets the alarm clock "bomb" for 3 minutes (the time can be altered depending on how quickly or slowly the clock is being found!)
  3. The alarm clock "bomb" is then hidden somewhere within the room... a couple of Leaders could walk around the room as Brownies listen VERY carefully when they need to!
  4. On the word GO, the Brownies then search the room for the "bomb" - if they find it before the alarm rings, they become the "hider" and play continues.
Time-wise, this game can last as long or as short as you need it too... changing the time before the alarm rings can depend on the age of the Brownies, size of the room and how many Brownies are present.

Craft Activity
Complete the Dangly Butterflies from last week - glue the straw down the fold (centre) of the butterfly wings and hang to dry.

Badge Work - Artist Badge 
Equipment - overalls/aprons (we use over-sized T-Shirts), paint (red, blue, yellow), paint brushes, paint trays, potatoes cut in half, thick paper/thin card, felt tipped pens, crayons, pencils, scissors, lining paper, string, dried pasta, glue, ribbon, sequins, other embellishments...
  1. Primary colours... ask the Brownies do they know the three primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and what happens when you mix them (result = purple, green, orange).
  2. Show the result of mixing the colours - if you are brave enough, paint one hand red and the other blue and see what happens when the hands are rubbed together!  MESSY WARNING!
  3. Using potato halves, print a repeating pattern on a sheet of paper (A4 size is sufficent) using 3 colours.
  4. From the list in Step 3 of the badge criteria, we chose to make a decorated bookmark and the Brownies illustrated a pre-printed Brownie Law handout.  You could laminate the bookmark and Brownie Law for the Brownies as a take-home gift.
  5. For the textured collage, each Six has a large piece of lining paper and a variety of embellishments (sequins, glitter, sand, tissue paper, beads, stickers, dried pasta, etc...) and given carte blanche on the design they want to make! Living by the sea means a beach scene is always a popular option!  Once dry, this can be displayed on the Pack noticeboard for all to see.
  6. The last point is to draw a picture of a subject agreed with the tester - we drew pictures of each other, starting with a basic face outline to help the younger Brownies.
And then, hopefully, everyone will have acheived a badge - there will be great variety in skill level as a 7 year old is very different to a 10 year old.  Often, the younger Brownies put themselves down but we always turn their negative comments into a positive.  I wouldn't want to see 24 identical pieces of work and we always talk about the fact that it'sgood to be different from each other, boosting self-esteem and self-confidence.

Active Game - Someone is Stealing My Lovely Green Apples
To get started: everyone stands in a circle. One girl walks outside saying “Someone’s stealing my apples, my lovely green apples.” 

She continues by describing someone in the circle. When that person realised it’s her, she says “Is it me?” If the answer is yes, she jumps up leaving a space and chases the first person. 

Both girls race around the circle to get to the space and sit down.  The person without a seat continues the game “Someone….etc”.

These songs are carried over from last week as we ran out of time!

Pow Wow & Close

Monday, 24 September 2012

Macmillan Coffee Morning Fundraiser - Cakes, cakes, cakes!

Just a quick "hello" today and some updated cupcake photos!  To support Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning I'm baking for 2 local coffee mornings - one takes place tomorrow and here's a selection of my contribution...

Drum roll please.... we have ginger, honey & lemon; chocolate fudge; chocolate orange; royal iced; butter iced and marshmallow chrysanthemum cupcakes!!!

I've not decided what I'll be baking for the second one at the weekend... we'll see!

Friday, 21 September 2012

"Deadly 60 Tracker" Board Game Review from Imagination

"Deadly 60"... the popular BBC children's TV show which draws the parents in too!  Wildlife presenter, Steve Backshall tracks down 60 of the world's deadliest animals and shows you what they are capable of!  The Deadly 60 Tracker board game from Imagination Games enables you, the player, to track down the animals yourself completing challenges by the roll of a die and collecting essential items for the adventure.

It's a creepy, crawly and crazy game where each player is given a ‘deadly animal’ to track down, and you must race around the board to track the animal down. With plenty of danger lurking, you have to take risks to beat off your opponents. The first player to successfully track down three Deadly 60 animals wins the game!  This really is a fun family game to play, great for the festive season or anytime throughout the year!

We've played the game a few times and it was a hit with my daughter and her friends at a sleepover last weekend.

Try to land on the blue squares to receive essential items or take a risk with the red squares... complete the challenges to be awarded item cards but fail the challenge and lose items that are necessary for your adventure!  The choice is yours, play it safe and steadily build up to your target or take a chance but beware!!!

In the game pack, there's a handy leaflet with fantastic "deadly" facts about 30 of the world's deadliest animals... a great start point for further research for inquisitive minds - on the CBBC website there are bags of information and online games that expand on the Deadly 60 games.  Have a look and you never know, one day you could be on safari with your child tracking the animals down for real!

The game is aged at 8 years old and above - this is set appropriately as my daughter was able to play this with her friends without an adult "interfering"!  Up to 6 players can take part so ideal for larger families or when you have vistors over the holiday period!

The only difficulty we had was finding the green die on the board when it decided to camoflauge itself... all part of the fun though!

There are three Deadly 60 games in the series from Imagination Games...
Deadly 60 Board Game (RRP £14.99)
Deadly 60 Ruckus Card Game  (RRP £4.99)
Deadly 60 Trivia Box (RRP £7.99) 

All available from Amazon, WH Smiths, Tesco and other good retailers- watch out for them this Christmas!

Fairtrade Chocolate Orange Muffins

Take A Step in 2012 for Fairtrade is raising the awareness of Fairtrade products and promoting their use in everyday recipes. 

As part of Fairtrade Awareness, this week I baked Fairtrade Chocolate Orange Muffins

The muffins are not over-sweet and have a great texture, mainly from the yoghut as an ingredient to reduce the amount of fat and sugar.  They are really quick and easy to make and are delicious warm from the oven! My neighbour, who needed a bit of a boost, enjoyed one with an afternoon cup of tea.

At the moment, there's a competition running on the Fairtrade website to win a KitchenAid or Fairtrade goody bag.... just bake one of the published recipes and tell them who you are baking for!  Simple... so have a browse at the recipes and good luck!

"Carol Vorderman's Mathable Junior" by Wooky Entertainment Game Review

Not every child loves Maths but with a game like "Carol Vorderman's Mathable Junior" you can make learning fun!  This game was sent to my family to review from Wooky Entertainment.  It states that the game is suitable for ages 5 and up but to be honest, with all the best will in the world, there's no way you could give this game to a small group of 5 years olds to give yourself an hour of peace and quiet!  At least one adult has to play to help the younger ones with their sums if needed!

Once we had got our heads round the instructions, the game was pretty easy to play - there are only a few simple rules to obey and so once all the children have understood those, it's pretty straightforward.

My son was pleased that he could join in with the game as he's only 5 and often has to go on someone's "team" in order to have chance of winning anything!

The aim of the game is to place your tiles onto the board adjacent to 2 tiles already place to complete a sum - either addition or subtraction.  For example, if there is already a "4" and a "6" on the board (next to each other), you could place either a "10" or a "2" in the adjacent square, with your score being the result of the sum you have just performed.  Sounds a bit complicated, but in practice it's easy to follow.  There are special squares resulting in additional rules but I won't go into that now - when playing it's obvious what to do regarding the additional rules - cross that bridge when you come to it!

The handy number line from 1-20 on the edge of the board is very helpful when working on the sums and deciding where to place the tiles - with older children and adults(!) you could use a bit of skill and strategy if there's a choice of where to put the tiles.  We played at a simple level with my youngest by just placing the tiles where he could recognise where they would go - even if there was a higher scoring spot available!

The reverse of the board had a different game to play - still number based with addition and subtraction the key to the game but with a different scoring system.   Here, you must match your tile to the spaces on the board whilst also completing equations of addition and subtraction.

When playing with my youngest child, we swayed away from the words "equations" and "subtraction" saying instead, "adds and adds" and "take aways"!  With my 8 year old, we used the correct wording and she was fine.  Also, second time round of playing there was much less confusion and no tears!

As a bi-lingual family, this game can be played in any language as the board consists of only numbers and symbols.... whether you're using "one", "un" or "uno" the game works!

The game is endorsed by Carol Vorderman - even though she has gone on to do many other things in her career, Countdown and the number's game is one of her most famous roles.  So hopefully, she will be helping to develop the next generation of mathematicians!

The adult and older child version of the game "Mathable" includes division and multiplication and is available for download and as an app for use with iPad as well as a traditional board game - when I join the iPad generation (hint hint!) this is one app I'll be downloading for sure!

An advantage of games by Wooky Entertainment is that you are able to download a PDF file of the instructions in the event (likely or unlikey!) that you may lose the instructions that come with the game!

We were sent this product for free on the understanding I would write an honest review of what I thought about the product. I received no payment and the review is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the product and I retain full editorial control and integrity

Witches & Butterflies! Brownie Meeting Plan

Welcome - introduce new members (if any).

Active Game - Witches
Equipment needed - 4/6 large hula hoops, 2 witches hats.
  1. Place the hula hoops around the room spaced well apart.  These are the "Glue Pots"!
  2. Choose two girls to be "witches".  They wear the witches hats to be easily spotted.
  3. The "witches" have to chase and catch the other girls - once caught, the girls are put into the "glue pots".
  4. Whilst in the "glue pots", the captured girls can lean out and catch passing girls who then become captured and "stuck" in the "glue".
  5. The chasing continues until they are just 2 girls running free - these then gain a point for their Six and take their turn at being the "witches".
Time-wise, this game can last as long or as short as you need it too... one tip - if the shrieking and screaming becomes too loud... play a couple of rounds in silence to give your ears a rest!

Craft Activity - Dangly Butterflies (Badge Ref. Artist)
You can find a link to this craft activity here.  We found it in a children's craft book originally (Usborne Big Book of Things to Make and Do) but since then, I came across the link so I've credited both!

This activity took longer than expected - we tried to keep it simple with just painting the butterflies, but this seemed to take the girls forever and we had to leave them until next week as they weren't dry by the end of the meeting!

The threading of the ribbon through the straws and attaching the beads was a bit tricky - the older Brownies managed and so then were able to help the younger ones - with lots of helpful praise of course!

In hindsight, controlling the amount of paint or maybe sticking to felt tipped pens would have been better for the time we had!

Active Game - Simon Says
Everyone knows how to play this - right?  Another game that can last as long as you have time for!

Ten in the Bed
Animal Fair

We didn't get round to singing the 2 songs planned as the craft activity ran over time!  But we will sing them next week - hopefully!

Pow Wow & Close

Muffins or Cupcakes.... what's the difference?

When is a cake not a cake?  When it's a muffin or course, or a cupcake, or a fairy cake, or a bun, or a ...?!

To me, a fairy cake is a small cupcake - plain sponge with just glace icing and maybe a few sprinkles on top.  A cupcake is a standard sized small cake (the ones you bake in 12's in a deep holed-baking tray) - usually plain sponge but sometimes flavoured, with an assortment of toppings to give them some va-va-voom!  And a muffin is a larger cake again with chunks of things inside... blueberries, raspberries, white chocolate, nuts, etc...

Here is the recipe that I use for my fairy cakes and cupcakes:

140g self raising flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
115g caster sugar - Fairtrade if possible, I use either Co-Op or Tate & Lyle
2 medium free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
115g butter or margarine - at the moment I'm in love with Stork Liquid but I also use  "normal" Stork, I save using the butter for the butter cream(!)

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4.  Line a 12 hole baking tin with cake cases.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix like mad for 3-5 minutes!  If I'm using Stork Liquid then I just use a wooden spoon but if I'm using solid margarine I use an electric mixer.
  4. Divide between the cake cases - for cupcakes I use an old scoop from a Cadbury's Hot Chocolate tub as a measure so they are all the same size... for fairy cakes I use a tablespoon measure.  This recipe will make 12 cupcakes or 18 fairy cakes, depending on the size of your scoop!
  5. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for about 15 minutes... I never really time my cakes to the second, I keep peeping through the glass oven door but if you have a solid oven door make sure you keep an eye on the time as if you open the oven door too soon your cakes will sink!
  6. Cool on wire rack then decorate when completey cool.

And here's the recipe I use for muffins...

250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g caster sugar - again, Fairtrade if possible
1 medium free range egg, lightly beaten
120ml semi-skimmed milk
125g plain yoghurt
1 tsp flavouring - vanilla, almond, whatever you think fits in with the "chunks" you have chosen for your muffins!
75g butter or margarine, melted and cooled (or 75g Stork Liquid)
A handful of something for the "chunks"... raspberries, chocolate chips, blueberries, fudge pieces, anything really!
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 6 (200°C, 400°F).  Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases.
  2. In one bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar.
  3. In a second bowl or jug, mix together the egg, milk, yoghurt, flavouring and melted butter/margarine.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir gently until combined - add any "chunks" and stir through gently.  The mixture will be quite lumpy but there should be no dry flour visible.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched lightly.  Cool on a wire rack.
  6. Best served warm but they will keep in a airtight container (once cooled) for a couple of days.

From the recipes, you can see that the main difference is the ratio of fats to flour... the replacement of some of the fat and 1 egg with yoghurt and milk in the muffins makes them lower in fat than the cup cake recipe.  Also, the lack of topping on a muffin reduces the additional fat and sugar levels - however, depending on the "chunks" that you add, the fat/sugar content can change considerably!  Although, muffins can be a great way to get a bit of hidden goodness into your diet... muffins bursting with blueberries, cranberries or raspberries can really give you a boost at the "2pm slump" I seem to suffer from every day!

You can also add vegetables to the mix... grated carrot, parsnip and beetroot can all be added to spice up your muffins.  Also add a teaspoon of mixed spice, ginger or nutmeg to experiment with flavours...

So have a go... enjoy experimenting and let me know any fabulous new flavours you have come up with - I'll definitely give you a "shout-out" and credit for your experimental cooking!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Total Greek Yohurt - Cheesecake with Raspberries, White Chocolate Sauce & Popcorn

I love cheesecake but usually make the chilled, no-bake version so when Total Greek Yoghurt asked me to choose a recipe from their site to make as part of their competition to launch the fantastic new range of 1,000 different recipes, I decided to give baked cheesecake a try.

I've had baked cheesecake before - usually when eating out and I haven't read the menu properly, the word "cheesecake" flashes before my eyes, I get giddy and say, "I'll have that!".  Then when it arrives, the slight disappointment hits me when I realise it's baked not chilled!  I always eat it though... never turn a dessert down!

Cheesecake with Raspberries, White Chocolate Sauce & Popcorn
This recipe from Paul Merrett is a throw back to that great dessert of the 70's - the cheesecake. Combine popcorn, raspberries and white chocolate to make a delicious update of this classic.

So anyway, making a new recipe that I haven't tried before - tricky, challenging...?  The recipe was surprisingly simple.  It takes a bit of planning as it needs to chill overnight, but the actual method is simple and well written for the most amateur of cook.  You can find the recipe here... the photo's below are of my own attempt and I'm glad to say that the finished result looked just like the professional picture!
Ingredients for Baked Cheesecake with Raspberries, White Chocolate Sauce & Popcorn

Biscuit base (Hob Nob's ... yum yum!)
Unbaked, ready for the oven

Baked, complete with statutory "crack"!

Nearly finished... raspberries, popcorn & grated chocolate

Finishing touch - white chocolate sauce :)

I did promise my neighbour a slice but unfortunately, we devoured the lot - sorry Mrs. P!  "We" being 4 of us over 2 sittings - not just me and hubbie, now that would be greedy!  But now I have an excuse to make it again!

This dessert would be a lovely end to a special meal - the calorie and fat content is quite high(!) but as a treat or a Sunday lunch dessert it's fine to spoil yourself now and again!  Just take the dog for a loooooong walk afterwards to make up for it!

You can find more recipes on the Total Greek Yoghurt website - there's a thousand ways to enjoy this 100% natural, authentic Greek taste.

Not only that, but they've launched a great new Facebook app so you don't even need to leave your social media page to get your recipe inspiration!

I have cooked with yoghurt before but was impressed to realise that Total Greek yoghurt is the only authentic Greek yoghurt on sale in the UK.  Because it is made in Greece in the traditional way it is much thicker and more robust than Greek‐styled yoghurt. As such it is much better to use in cooking and is still just as good for you. Total Greek Yoghurt is 100% natural.  And the 5 day chilled shelf life once opened is a bonus - there are so many recipes it can be used in, you won't waste a drop!

Total have hidden away 30 TOTAL recipes on 30 different food blogs across the web. Can you find them? If so, you are in with the chance of winning Paul Merrett’s Ultimate Chef’s Kit, worth over £800. On the tab you'll find clues leading to 10 of the hidden recipes and over the next few weeks, Total will be posting additional clues on their timeline to help you find the final 20. The more recipes you find, the more times your name goes into the draw and the more chances you have to win! The recipes are part of our brand new recipe collection 1000 Ways to Love your TOTAL.

Enter the competition here!
Disclosure: I was sent the ingredients for the purpose of testing out this recipe.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Big Fair Bake 2012 - Fairtrade Awareness

Baking tastes better when you share, so the Big Fair Bake is the perfect excuse to get inspired put on your pinny and bake up a treat for others; not just the friends and family we share it with, but also the farming communities who grew the ingredients.

Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas, sugar, chocolate, cotton.... to name a few products that we all use daily and by switching to Fairtrade we can all make a difference, one step at a time.

I have chosen a recipe (Chocolate Orange Muffins) from the Fairtrade website here, but also added my own twist... to devise and bake a recipe using only Fairtrade ingredients... sort of like a "Ready, Steady, Cook" for the Fairtrade industry.... the last part of the challenge is to share my culinary creations and delights and share the message of Fairtrade.

Even though I live in a small town with little choice for supermarkets, I'm lucky that the main supermarket is the Co-Operative... in 2000 they developed and launched their own label range of Fairtrade products.  The ethics behind their products is great and they stock over 250 Fairtrade products, each displaying the Fairtrade badge to make them easily recognisable.

So, the ingredients that I can choose from are.... tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas, honey, sugar, beansprouts(!), wine, blueberries, pineapple, mangoes, oranges, grapefruits and lemons..... I'm not sure where the beansprouts will come in however my son loves them in a quick stir-fry...not with fruit salad though!  But, the wine will definitely be for drinking, no questions there!!

I'm thinking along the lines of "Banana tea bread muffins", "Chocolate blueberry muffins" and "Tropical fruit salad".  These delights will be created over the next couple of days and shared with family and friends... I'll publish the recipes to share with you all secrets here!

Why don't you have a go... a simple fruit salad can provide your 5 a day and help the farmers at the source of the industry.... and everyone loves cake - Fairtrade just makes it better!

"It's A Chicken" Game Review - Paul Lamond Games

This was a great game gladly received by our family to review from Paul Lamond Games.  It is suitable for ages 5 and over - great for our family as we can all join in!
The basis of the game is to draw pictures as directed by the card chosen from the draw pile (no pun intended!) - the first to guess the picture being drawn wins the round and gets the number of points as determined by the timer (clucking chicken, noisy egg timer!).  The cards very handily have 3 sections - a picture to copy for the younger players who cannot read, a medium-difficulty picture prompted by a word and a more tricky picture again prompted by a word.  A roll of the die determines the level of difficulty - however you can play to suit the age of the players.  We've played just using the pictures as a guide to copy... but also when bedtime came and play was reduced to Mums/Dads and Grandparents, we used the difficult pictures and still had great fun!

As a helping hand, the game sheets have circles ready printed on them as a base for starting the drawing - a great help for the younger players although some shapes had one or two of the parents flummoxed - funny how our minds work differently than the children's!

Here's examples of my son's artistic creations.... apologies for the expression on his face...he had had a long day at school!

He's only 5 so right at the lower age range for this game but really enjoyed the fact that he could join in with no adult help!  Complete gaming independence here we come!

I can see this game making an appearance at family dinners as a children's favourite... from an educational point of view, it's great to encourage and develop pencil control and reading skills but still having fun at the same time!

Just a side note... you need to buy batteries separately and there aren't any pencils in the box but the little wooden pencils from blue and yellow homeware's shop work great :)  A postive note, from a "thinking ahead" point of view, there are plenty of sheets of paper with the starter shapes on them, but also on the back of the instruction there are blank templates so that you can photocopy more when required...a never-ending supply of peace and quiet (broken every now and again by the clucking of a rather loud chicken!).

Paul Lamond games are available at Smyths Toys Superstores, online or instore.  Have a look at their range of games - there's something for everyone this Christmas!

"The Big Knit" with Innocent Smoothies & Sainsburys

I'm a relatively new knitter and I'm more than 3/4 the way through a stripey scarf (started in April!)... hopefully it will be finished by the time winter sets in properly, although it's cold enough for a scarf now on the school run at 8.15 in the morning!  But, I may be scuppered in this plan as my daughter has already claimed it (or so she thinks!).

Anyway, the other day I came across this great idea from Innocent Smoothies - The Big Knit 2012.  Innocent Smoothies are appealing for knitters from across the UK to send in their hats between now and October.  These are then put onto the smoothie bottles by hand and send them off to store. Then, they're available to buy in Sainsbury's stores for three weeks from the 21st November, and for every hatted bottle sold, 25p is donated to Age UK.

Over the years there have been loads of weird and wonderful hats from all over the world. Of all the hats that are received, around 80% of them come from the people who directly benefit from Age UK's services. Over 100 Age UK/Age Concerns get behind the campaign, running knitting groups in their centres.

All of the money raised through the hats knitted by local Age UK/Age Concerns centres goes directly back to allow them to continue providing support to older people in their local community.

Proceeds from the hats will fund a range of winter initiatives including home visits, befriending and lunch clubs giving older people new skills to cope in the cold weather.

So, I thought I would have a go!  I have to finish the epic scarf as I only have 1 set of needles(!) but if I get a move on it WILL be finished soon and I can get a couple of hats knitted for the campaign in time for the closing date, to arrive by Monday 1st October 2012.

Very handily, if you follow this link, at the bottom of the page there are 2 pdf documents with knitting patterns ranging in skill level from beginners to expert and here's the address to send your knitted hats to...

So any avid knitters out there - whatever the skill level,  have a go!  Your attempts cannot look any worse than mine so good luck and share the pictures when you're done!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Tuesday Afternoon Positive Thinking!

After a busy summer business-wise, September is always a strange month of mixed feelings.... birthday happiness, work fatigue and pre-holiday excitement!  But one thing's for sure, I need a "positive thinking" boost with the back to college/school and after school activities.... my children started to train at the local Dojo a couple of months ago and today I came across the packaging for their Gi's.  Don't ask me why I kept the plastic packaging... there must have been a reason and today I *think* I know what it was!

I picked up the bag and was about to file it in the B1N (my Mum's code for bin!) when I started to read the wording on the bag.....

Too weak?
Too tired?
To busy?
Have an old injury?
Stop dreaming of what you could have been.
Stop telling the same old stories, because it changes nothing!
Get up.
Get out.
Sell your TV.
Stop being pushed about!
Stop listening to people who say you will never make it!
And be somebody!
It's your life.
Only you can say "you can't"
And you don't have to listen!

Wording courtesey of Blitz Sport.

Each of the above sentences make real sense to me so I thought I would share with you too!  OK, scrap the "Sell your TV" line... I don't think I would manage without the welcome distaction of X Factor on the weekends (sorry, my weakness - bad, I know!!).

We all have hard times sometimes and are close to giving up but perserverance does pay off!  It can also apply to more than sport - I am in my third year of learning Welsh and, at times, think I have spent an awful lot of time learning and I still couldn't hold an impromptu conversation with a stranger in the street!  But then I look at how much I DO know and the smile is back on my face!

My children have both struggled with confidence issues and the karate training is helping them to become more confident (sometimes too much!).  I'm proud of what they have achieved so far and hope that they will have a good sporting career (amateur at least!).

I'm also really proud of my husband who has just registered as an Open University student to study for a BA(Hons) degree based around language subjects, primarily Spanish.  He won't mind me telling you that he suffers from dyslexia and as an adult dyslexic who had very little support whilst at school, this is a huge step for him. 

So with me learning Welsh and my OH learning Spanish, we will be more than prepared for one of my goals in life - to travel to Patagonia in South America... Welsh and Spanish are the two languages used in this part of Argentina!  It will be a few more years yet but we've got the time to wait!

So anyway, the moral of today's post is, whatever it is, go for it!  It is better to have tried and failed and started again than to have not tried at all!

What or who are you proud of?  Share if you can and we can give each other a pat on the back!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Paul Lamond Games "QI" Board Game Review

We're a family who loves board games - for as long as I can remember, every family get-together resulted in my Nana's Trivial Pursuit being taken out of the cupboard and the epic game-playing began!  Every Christmas was marked by a party, with "bring a bottle and a board game" one of the pre-requisites.... it's still etched in my brain that my cousin was terrified of the masks worn in the "Doh Nutters" game!  Anyway, I digress...

Paul Lamond Games kindly sent us the board game "QI" - quite obviously based on the successful but very difficult BBC quiz programme of the same name!

Based on the hardest panel game in the world, the QI board game is based on the same philosophy that everything in the world is quite interesting, providing you look at at in the right way.  If you're a big fan of QI, this board game is designed just for you.  Even if you have never watched QI, you can still play the game as it's play content is not linked to the show.

The game play is based around a board with coloured and numbered squares - advancing with correct answers and possibly taking massive jumps back with incorrect answers (I am the voice of experience on this one!)  But, the twist is that the player that reaches the highest or LOWEST score on the board wins!  There is hope for me yet!
At first, the rules seemed quite complicated - with klaxons, challenges and 3 dice to contend with - but once we had had a go each, it was easy to play.  The questions are on a wide variety of subjects and are randomly chosen by throwing the 3 dice and by the colour of the square that you land on.... thousands of combinations possible.  We must be a really special family as myself and my husband both rolled on our turn and ended up with the same question..... what were the chances of that!  Having an accountant and statistician around the table, we did try to work it out, but gave up fairly quickly!

We played with 4 adult players and the game seemed to end quite quickly, so a larger board or longer game option would be constructive criticism.... but then you can always play it again as the questions would be more than likely different!  I think after a few glasses of wine, the logic behind the answers would definitely be questionable!

This game is for 3 - 6 players and suitable for ages 12 years to Adult. It's available from all good board game shops, such as Amazon.

Paul Lamond Games make a great range of games for all ages and occasions - pop over to their Facebook page here and keep upto date with new products and reviews from other bloggers.

This will definitely be a well-used game making an appearance post-dinner at our future family gatherings!  Look out for their other games....