‘Amazing’ Magazine review and give-away!

6 Apr

amazing cover.jpgRecently we were asked to review an educational magazine for children aged 7+.

I had my reservations about this because because I have purchased ‘educational’ magazines before and they have never really interested my children, despite both being avid readers.

I was pleasantly surprised when our Amazing magazines arrived. They have a very ‘comic’ book feel about them and the cover is very bright, colourful and captivating with a horrible history feel about them.

I instantly liked the issues that I was sent. They are easy to read and full of useful facts, puzzles and even recipes.

Amazing inside.jpg

The content of these magazines is based around the national curriculum and includes English, Maths, Science, Arts and Humanities, along with many other subjects. I really liked the section on Personal Development which included information on Special Educational Needs. This subject is explained in very simple terms that children can understand and I think reading this would really encourage greater understanding among children and their peers. I’m so glad to see this included.

Of course the real testers were Lily and Thomas (now 9 and 7 years). I gave them a magazine each and they read them cover to cover in bed that night. Thomas wanted to jump out of bed there and then and make a catapult as suggested in his magazine! We have since made this and it works great (video to follow!)

Amazing.JPG

I asked Lily for her own review of this magazine and this is what she told me:

“This Amazing magazine is awesome! From Roman Gladiators to Chariot Races, from Latin to a Roman word search. There are puzzling anagrams and poetry. i like page 26 because of the real ‘Roman Life Rap’. It’s fun to read but also educational. The step by step instructions for building a catapult have really come in handy!”

By Lily Dixon aged 9, nearly 10!

We have 10 free copies of Amazing magazine to give away! To be in with a chance of winning, please email me at tracydixon244@gmail.com. The first 10 readers to get in touch will be sent a copy direct from the publishers.

If you love the magazine as much as us, subscriptions can be purchased with a discount of 10% by using the discount code WOW10. Check out the Amazing website for details.

 

Win Christmas at Coombe Mill Farm

21 Oct

We want to win Christmas at the lovely Coombe Mill Farm! We have never had the chance to visit and we think Christmas would be the perfect time. This video explains why. Thanks to my lovely daughter Lily for the voice-over.

Our video entry: Christmas at Coombe Mill Farm #CoombeMillXmas

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting

12 Oct

book cover

Like no other Green Parenting book I have ever read, The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is more like an Encyclopedia for the eco-conscious.

From real nappies, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and vaccines to green travel and the green home – there are so many subjects covered in this book.

Each issue is tackled with a science-based approach and is backed up with hard facts and well-balanced advice.

The book covers all the essentials and is a great reference for both new or existing parents. The author tackles some previous so-called ‘expert’ advice and gives you proven facts to enable you to make your own decisions.

I really wish I had this book when I was pregnant. It would have made all those decisions such as which nappy to use so much easier! There is a great section on ‘Green Birth’ which would be very empowering if you are considering a birth outside of a hospital setting. Again, it is backed up with evidence, research, facts and figures.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would like to make greener choices for their family. It would also make a great gift for a new parent.

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

17 Sep

book cover

We were recently sent a copy of a new book which is due to be released in October. The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting is a refreshing change from some of the ‘preachy’ parenting books that we find on the shelves. The book gives ideas and inspiration for raising your child in an eco way.

It is delivered in a fun and practical way, yet is still backed up with research and ideas for further reading. It is humorous, colorful and imaginative and very easy to read. It includes information on natural play, an eco-friendly home and garden, foraging, tips to avoid screen time, making greener choices for your family and many more.

It gives ideas for small or large changes that you can make and recognises that you don’t need to implement all of them to make a difference. There are simple projects such as making bird feeders or designing a bog garden.

This book confirms that you don’t need to be perfect to be a green parent, you just need to get outside, have fun and get muddy!

book spread

Teaching children budgeting and money saving

17 Sep

At 9 and 6 years, our children are now at an age where they have some concept of ‘earning money’. We recently introduced pocket-money, in return for small jobs around the house. They help with dusting, vacuuming  and generally keeping the place tidy. It is still a struggle getting them to ‘muck in’ but the chance to earn some pennies has definitely been an incentive.

They are very good at saving their money rather than spending it. We have always tried to encourage them that it is better to save up for something special rather than spend money for the sake of it.

Budgeting is one of the many things that our children need to learn on the road to adulthood. Here are some painless ways in which we can do this.

Teach them the value of money. Talk about how much things cost, even things like holidays. Also talk about how you have to work hard for money and how you need to save just as hard to be able to pay for nice things.

Show children how to earn money. Giving them the chance to do simple chores in return for pocket-money is a good introduction. We have a poster which shows how much each job pays. They know that the bigger, more difficult jobs will pay more money.

Let them make decisions regarding their money. I say this hesitantly but they need to do this to some extent to be able to learn the consequences. If they blow all their pocket-money on sweets it is going to take them a long time to save up for that DVD that they wanted.

Have a fun place to save. Thomas has a Star Wars R2D2 Talking Moneybank
which makes noises every time you put pennies in. He loves it and every time he has money it always goes in here. You could also make your own piggy banks or decorate ready-made ones as we did.

blank pigs

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9

 

Thomas' "Super Pig" design. I'm still finding glitter in the carpet!

Thomas’ “Super Pig” design. I’m still finding glitter in the carpet!

The bonus with these piggy banks is that they were decorated with bits and pieces that we had around the house. Another money-saving lesson there!

 

 

Silly Yak ready to roll, gluten free pastry

7 Sep

I just HAD to tell you about this fantastic pastry. I have always hated making gluten free pastry, it is such a difficult process – whenever I attempt it it crumbles, breaks and basically falls to pieces. I don’t really see the fun in that! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover Silly Yak’s ready-to-roll pastry which is available in Tescos.

ready to roll

pastie collage

It rolls really easily, no cracks or breaks and actually feels really glutinous!

I have only tried one recipe so far. Being a cornish lass it just had to be pasties. I have not had a lot of experience making them so excuse the amateur look of them. The children (who can be fairly tough food critics), told me they were amazing. We recently bought them some non-gluten free pasties from a well know pasty maker and they told me mine were far better. Now that’s a good endorsement for Silly Yak pastry if ever I heard one!

At £1.75 for a 400g block I think the pastry is a really good price. This makes a change as you normally pay a huge premium for anything labelled ‘free from’. Silly Yak say they are looking at expanding their range to other gluten free pastries so watch this space! You can see their list of stockists here.

group pasties

Hotel review: Horn of Plenty – award winning hotel in Devon

5 Sep

outside-day

It is not often that we review somewhere without a couple of noisy children in tow but on this rare weekend we were child free (thank you mum!). We thought we had better make the most of it and booked a night away at The Horn of Plenty, near  Tavistock in Devon.

A beautiful, independently owned hotel, the Horn of Plenty boasts many awards on their website. Too many to mention on here but do pop over to their awards page to see for yourself. It is a 4 star hotel with two AA rosettes and a multitude of excellent reviews. Here’s another one to add to the collection.

The hotel has 16 rooms with 4 located in the main house and the remainder in the converted Coach House. We stayed in one of the Coach House rooms which are described as being more contemporary in design. Ours was certainly very modern and furnished to an excellent standard. It was a huge room and had all the little luxuries that make a visit special. Molton Brown toiletries, super soft bath robe, slippers, mini bar, very comfortable bed, TV, hot drinks etc.

Bedroom

Our room had a sweet little terraced area where you could sit outside and watch the sheep in the neighbouring field. We sat out here after our evening meal and watched the many bats swooping around catching their supper.

Terrace

The luxurious bathroom was perfect for a long bath and the chance to indulge in a complimentary copy of Country Living Magazine.

bathroom

After being given a few moments to settle in one of the staff brought us some very complimentary Panacotta. This was such a nice touch and gave the hotel a really welcoming and individual feel.

Pannacotta

That evening we visited the fine dining restaurant in the main house that looks out over the Tamar Valley. We had a table with the most amazing views. You can see for miles and it really is breathtaking.

Table view

Now for the food….. ooh the food! Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The dishes were inventive, full of flavour and fresh ingredients but were also works of art. Look at this beautiful Duck liver parfait with damsons and wild offerings.

Liver parfait

My starter was a Cornish crab and crayfish salad with curry spiced mayonnaise and alphonso mango.

crab salad

For main course we both chose the Pan roasted South Coast John Dory & butter poached lobster with vintage carrots, nasturtium & Nepalese pepper.

main

Now for my favourite part of the meal – pudding! I chose the Variations of Garden Mint and Valrhona bitter chocolate delice.  Nick had the Kaffir lime parfait, strawberries, watermelon & basil.

tracys pud

nicks pudding

My pudding was the most amazing I have ever eaten. The combination of the mint and bitter chocolate was just divine!

The cheeseboard was a perfect combination of flavours and came with picked celery and a ginger jelly. Very yummy!

We are both quite critical about food when eating out but we couldn’t fault our meal at all. Everything was delicious, and we were served by friendly, caring staff who went out of their way to please. They were very knowledgeable about the food and the menu. As a coeliac they advised me on my gluten free options and most of the menu was naturally gluten free or could be easily adapted.  The menu also included complimentary canapés,  espresso sized cheese soup and petit fours. Quite a feast!

Finally, as a green parent I am always interested in whether an establishment has an environmental policy. The Horn of Plenty have put a lot of time and resources into developing theirs which you can see here.  They have a fantastic kitchen garden which could easily supply their kitchens. This did look quite overgrown and neglected on our visit, it would be great to see this revamped and fully stocked.

The perfect romantic destination in Devon – we would highly recommend it if you feel the need to temporarily escape from the hectic world of work and parenting. If you can’t arrange childcare, do not fear – children are welcome too!