Name A Star: Review and Giveaway 

Do you get stuck with gift ideas? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes! I love thoughtful presents; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with something that really fits the bill. So when I found about naming your very own star, I was excited to discover such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything (I bet they don’t have their very own star!), anyone with an interest in stargazing or who loves the outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different! 

Naming star, own star, star name registry, gift ideas, outdoors, stargazing

Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!

I was sent an extra bright star gift set to review. This lovely set includes my very own star, which I not only got to name but was also able to choose which constellation I wanted it in too, an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.

Star Naming Registry Uk, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors, Living Life Our Way

I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.

If you would like the chance to win your own star naming, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 10th April 2017. Open to UK residents only. Winner will be able to name their star and will receive Bright Star Naming certificate (enveloped version). Other T&Cs apply.

Star Naming Registry UK, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors

*Disclosure: I was gifted the Extra Bright Star free for the purpose of this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fun Party Venues Ideas

As signs of Spring start to appear all around and the sun begins to make an appearance, there is no doubt that many of us are now looking ahead to summer; busy booking holidays, festival line-ups announced and summer events organised. Whilst I don’t personally have a do to arrange myself this year (although my 40th appears to be coming round rather quickly – only a couple of years before I will be organising that! Eek!) a few of my friends are already in the throes of summer party planning around London. 

River Thames, London, Big Ben, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
Stock image

If you are one of the many people looking to get your party on this summer, Venueseekers is a handy site for finding places to hold an event in and around the capital. See their website for more info: Party Venues London. And here are just a few of their fun venue ideas in central London to inspire you and get you started…

River Thames, London, St Pauls Cathedral, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
Stock Image

Madison: This award-winning New York style restaurant and bar overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral. It holds 120 people (seated) up to 900 (standing).

Oxo Tower: Floor two of the famous OXO tower is a brilliant place to hold events in the summer, with riverside balconies and stunning panaromic views of the Thames from inside too. It can hold functions for anywhere between 50- 400 people, with the adjacent gallery offering additional space for larger parties.

The Artillery Gardens: If you are looking for somewhere to host a larger function, this venue holds up to 2000 people and is very cool, it even has a funfair! Well worth checking out. 

If you are looking for somewhere near London but a little more suburban, here are a few other ideas…

St Michaels Manor, St Albans, Hertfordshire, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
St Michaels Manor (Credit: Jenny Murray)

St Michaels Manor: Set in the heart of historic St Albans, surrounded by pretty parkland and next to a lake view, this lovely manor hotel is popular for weddings and other functions. It is a short, direct non-stop train route into London and is situated not too far from the St Albans City station so is ideal for those travelling from further afield. 

Four Seasons Hampshire: Set in the countryside with amazing views over Dogmersfield Park but yet highly accessible from London, this lovely venue has ample natural daylight flooding the indoor spaces and an outdoor terrace that can be used for functions too.

Do you have a summer party venue recommendation? Leave in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Competition

When bakerdays tweeted me asking if I would like to review their letterbox gift cake I was quite excited! Admittedly, I am not a particularly big fan of cake generally (I know, I know… it’s weird) but I was really intrigued by the concept of a cake that can literally be delivered straight through the letterbox. Would that really work?! I had to find out. And I knew that Squiggle would jump at the chance to share some cake with me too!

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

The website is very user-friendly and there is a massive selection of designs to choose from for all different occasions, including options to personalise with text or an image. I spent ages trying to pick my favourite design because there are so many great choices! 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

I finally settled on this design with my own personal message that I knew would make Squiggle giggle…

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

There were a selection of sponges to choose from too. I really like the fact that all of the designs in their entire range can be ordered as a gluten-free or dairy-free option, rather than there being a restricted selection of choices, as is often the case. It is worth noting that the dairy-free option is not vegan, as it does contain eggs. 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

Whilst we avoid gluten as much as we can, medically we do not need to be strict about it, so I decided on the dairy-free option instead. We do generally try to eat as closely to vegan as we can manage anyway but, apart from anything else, I was keen to test how the dairy-free version tasted! 

The cake didn’t take long to arrive and, as promised, it plopped through my letterbox without fuss. The box landed face down and I must say I felt a slight wave of anticipation, as well as excitement, as I picked it up to check the contents! 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, review

I need not have worried; the cake comes very well packaged, secured in a cake tin, inside the cardboard box. It also has plastic packaging to keep it fresh and well protected within the tin itself. It even has thoughtful instructions on how to remove it carefully without damage!

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

The cake itself was delicious! The sponge was light and fluffy, with a lovely buttery filling (which incidently is on the bottom of the cake as opposed to in the middle, due to the letterbox design!) and the icing was soft and tasty. Squiggle was very impressed too; she declared “thank you for sending the cake, I love it!” 

We demolished it pretty quickly, but the 5″ letterbox size is easily big enough for 3 or 4 generous portions, as it suggests. We really enjoyed it.

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasions, gift, review, dairy free cake, gluten free cake

I like the novelty factor of getting a cake delivered directly through the letterbox, it was nicely presented and it was yummy too! So I think a letterbox cake would make a great unique gift for Valentines Day, or any other occasion.

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

For more information about bakerdays…

Websitewww.bakerdays.com

Facebookfacebook.com/bakerdays

Twitter: @bakerdays

Last but not least; to be in with a chance to win a 5″ letterbox gift cake in your choice of design, enter my giveaway via the rafflecopter app below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends at midnight on 8th February 2017. Open to UK residents only. Prize will be sent out by 1st class Royal Mail. Other T&Cs apply. (See rafflecopter for details).


*Disclosure: bakerdays sent me a free letterbox cake for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Strawberry The Cat’s Halloween by Squiggle

This is Strawberry the Cat. She is going shopping.
This is Strawberry the Cat. She is going shopping.
Wait a minute! What is Strawberry looking at on the shelf?
Wait a minute! What is Strawberry looking at on the shelf?
Strawberry found a pumpkin!
Strawberry found a pumpkin!
Strawberry puts the pumpkin in the shopping trolley and carries on looking around the supermarket.
Strawberry puts the pumpkin in the shopping trolley and carries on looking around the supermarket.
Now Strawberry is stretching up high to reach something else. What has she got?
Now Strawberry is stretching up high to reach something else. What has she got?
Strawberry has found some pumpkin party blowers to put in the trolley.
Strawberry has found some pumpkin party blowers to put in the trolley.
Strawberry's daddy is picking her up, I wonder why?
Strawberry’s daddy is picking her up, I wonder why?
Ah, there are halloween costumes!
Ah, there are halloween costumes!
Look there is a big and small pumpkin costume!
Look there is a big and small pumpkin costume!
Strawberry chooses the pumpkin costume that is the right size for her.
Strawberry chooses the pumpkin costume that is the right size for her.
Strawberry then goes home and blows her pumpkin party blower...
Strawberry then goes home and blows her pumpkin party blower…
...and puts on her pumpkin costume for Halloween.
…and puts on her pumpkin costume for Halloween.

Easter at Mead Open Farm

Having always found Mead Open Farm to be relatively quiet, even at weekends and holidays, and having found Willows somewhat less crowded than we had expected last weekend (previously we have always found Willows to be the busier of these two farms), we found we were in for a HUGE shock when we arrived at Mead Open Farm this afternoon. The car park was literally covering most of a massive field, one that we had never even experienced the need to ever use for parking on any previous visit, it looked PACKED. Caught in the unenviable position of choosing a meltdown over change of plans or meltdown from over-stimulation we decided the latter was preferable and proceeded as planned.

 

Luckily we had not been here during their Easter event specifically before so Squiggle held absolutely no expectation as to what it might be like, which did make the unexpected volume of people abit easier to manage. We decided to totally ignore the schedule of events and go with the flow, but we did manage to find the Easter Bunny for a cuddle and wandered over to the marquee to do an Easter hunt, which Squiggle really enjoyed. I did have a look at the schedule of activities earlier this evening, after we got home, and there seemed to be some nice Easter activities going on (more real animal encounter type activities than Willows but less in the way of shows) although I think at least some of the activities are regular ones, not exclusively for Easter, so I don’t feel we missed out on much.

 

The new natural play area has just opened so was very popular, both with Squiggle and clearly also with the majority of other children there today too. It has a great selection of equipment and is well designed to cater for a range of ages. Squiggle was happy she got to play for a while and was clearly very impressed with it but it was much too busy for her to fully make the most of it. We look forward to returning soon in term time though for a quieter play, as it is certainly worth revisiting.

 

Here are some photos of today…

image
Easter bunny

 

The aim of the Easter hunt was to find 5 letters hidden in ‘Hoppy’s Hamlet’ and work out what Easter-related word they make (which Squiggle worked out independently) to claim a prize (a chocolate bunny lolly)…

Easter Hunt
Easter Hunt

 

The brand new natural play area…

image
New play area
image
New play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the animals we saw today…

image
Feeding sheep
image
Lambs
image
Baby bunnies

 

All things considered we are glad we went, it was worth the crowds for, and Squiggle had an absolutely wonderful time. A good Easter day out!

 

For more information about Mead Open Farm in general (although I have noticed that they don’t detail event schedules/ specific timings of activities on their website, which is a shame) see their website www.meadopenfarm.co.uk

Easter at Willows

Today we went to Willows Farm for their Easter event. We were hesitant to go over the weekend in the middle of the Easter holidays as we know how busy it gets on weekdays during this popular event but Squiggle loves Willows (especially at Easter!) so we braved it anyway. And actually it wasn’t quite as packed as we might have imagined and all went smoothly so we are very glad we did, it was a lovely afternoon.

 

There were various Easter events and activities going on, as well as the usual facilities they have available, so a family could certainly easily fill an entire day there. There was far more to do than is possible to fit in just a few hours but we were prepared for that and prioritised the Easter events, having been a few weeks ago to enjoy the regular facilities anyway. They do however schedule shows and activities to be on twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, so it is entirely possible to only go for half a day and still make the most of what is on offer for Easter. The schedule is well organised to provide a natural flow to the visit at a reasonable pace for a young child without it becoming too much. We left just before closing feeling very happy with our visit indeed!

 

The farm itself is decorated in a spring/ Easter theme with lots of pretty displays throughout…

Easter
Easter hay bales
wpid-20140413_135441.jpg
Easter displays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Easter egg hunt in the Easter Gardens….

wpid-20140413_151335.jpg
Collect a basket and find five different colour Easter eggs
wpid-20140413_151519.jpg
Search for the eggs hidden around the Easter Garden
wpid-20140413_151646.jpg
Keep searching!
wpid-20140413_152152.jpg
Once all five colour eggs have been collected they can be exchanged for five small chocolate eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were several different shows, including ‘Scarecrow and Friends’ (a lovely introduction to some of the farm animals via a simple game of guess the clues with some basic information about the animals and an action song at the end), ‘Bunny Hop’ (action songs with the Easter bunny on stage) and ‘Singalong with Curly’ (action songs with Curly the pig on stage)…

wpid-20140413_142536.jpg
Scarecrow and Friends
Bunny Hop
Bunny Hop
wpid-20140413_160738.jpg
Singalong with Curly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even sheep racing…

wpid-20140413_154038.jpg
Sheepstakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Squiggles favourite, cuddles from the characters…

wpid-20140413_163427.jpg
Meeting the Easter bunny
wpid-20140413_164824.jpg
Cuddles with Woolly sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also found time to fit in a couple of the regular activities including looking at the animals (there are lots of newborns and young babies to see at this time of year of course!), holding a guinea pig, sand and funfair rides…

wpid-20140413_140356.jpg
Funfair rides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-20140413_155502.jpg
Baby goat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-20140413_155141.jpg
Guinea pig handling

Pancake Day

We made gluten free, dairy free, soya free and egg free pancakes for dinner, to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. This was partly based on family diet restrictions (both mine and Squiggle’s) and partly because we decided to rise to the challenge of using what we had available in the kitchen without taking a trip to a supermarket!

image

1. 250g gluten free flour
2. 600ml alternative dairy free milk (we used almond milk)
3. Egg replacer
4. Mix together
5. Fry in sunflower oil or alternative (we used rapeseed oil)
6. Flip or toss the pancakes

And here is Squiggle enjoying the finished product….

image

For more free from pancake recipes see the BBC good food website www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2920662/egg-dairy-and-glutenfree-pancakeshttps://livinglifeourway.files.wordpress.com/