Wednesday, 28 August 2013

School stationery supplies without breaking the bank.

The last few blog post all have one common reoccurring topic - School Supplies.

From stationery to packed lunch snacks, which I guess just echos the fact  it is the last week of the summer school holidays and I've been manically thinking of all the things the children want and the essential things they really do need for their return to school.

Shopping for all the school supplies can quickly mount up, after a shopping trip for school uniform the other day my bank balance is not looking good, and I still need to tackle the shoe shop!

Jake is starting senior school in September, and so he seems to need a never ending list of things which I've never really had to worry about until now.

Remembering carting round rucksacks full to bursting with stationery, folders, notebooks, dictionary's and calculators in my own secondary school days, I have been struggling to make sure that we have everything Jake needs but I am also conscious of the fact that there were many bits and pieces which in fairness got left at the bottom of my bag, or lost within the first year. So I don't want to break the bank on things which Jake just simply won't use, will break or lose.

So how do you ensure your child has got what they need without having to spend a small fortune on the equipment?

Poundland may just have the answer, and I was excited to go and see what my local store had on offer.

I was really pleased to find the huge selection of things in store everything from felt tip pens to note pads and letter racks, all at unbelievably great value.

With my budget tight after the huge spend on uniform, coats and shoes its great to find somewhere I could buy all the stationery we needed at such a low price.

For the girls there are fun and funky leopard print themed stationery with A4 ring binders, Large Pencil cases, and mixed stationery sets.

The items quality was pleasingly much better than I have found in previous years,and in other budget stores. The A4 binder comes with lined paper, and cardboard coloured dividers, a great value item perfect for any student.

Another great item we loved was the mixed stationery set which came in the same funky leopard print design as the A4 ring binder, and notebooks. Included in the set there really is everything you need all for just £1. The 15cm ruler, eraser and pencil sharper all great quality, the eraser clear and clean not leaving horrible smudgy marks. The 4 pencils sharpened much better than I had expected and overall I think this is a great value set for school work.

Chloe also loved the set of 4 mini notepads, each a handy size, approx 10cm tall x 6cm wide perfect for keeping in your handbag, or on the kitchen sideboard to jot down all those important things to remember. Each mini book has good quality bright white plain paper.

For Anyone who is not such a fan of pink, there was plenty of other colour designs to choose from, including lots of character themed products such as moshi monsters and bin weevils, It is difficult when your children hit senior school however, not wanting to appear babyish a more neutral design is often favourite, we liked the simple blue striped range which includes a great barrel pencil case priced just £1 this is alot cheaper than  other stores, a good non offencive pattern perfect for even the most cool teen.

The quality of the pencil case is good and the material has a wipe clean surface which feels strong enough to withstand daily use, it is a great size and easily fits in a 15cm ruler and plenty of pens and pencils.

The A4 notepad also is great quality with 160 pages, the paper is bright white and both pens and pencils write on it well.

Poundland really do stock a great selection of products including leading names in stationery such as Tipex, Helix and Bic great staple items for your school pencil case.

 I really like this great value Helix maths set, it is perfect for new senior school students, containing everything they need for beginning maths, whilst not breaking the bank.  The compass although plastic, works well and the fact everything fits neatly into a small plastic container hopefully means they won't get lost so easily!

Other great essential items we found in Poundland were the ever essential sticky post it notes, a nice sized block of multi coloured sticky notes for £1 an essential for last minute memos, and a handy 9 piece pen organiser set, which included a simple black plastic pot - ideal for a desk tidy, a highlighter pen, red, blue and black ball point pens, pencils and a permanent marker - all your stationery needs in one stop.

We also loved the home&office  hole punch and stapler set. Both items and a packet of refill staples for just £1  The two items are perfect sized for keeping in a school bag or at home for any homework projects.

Of course purchasing all the school stationery for the older children meant Mikey wanted to join in too! And Poundland have so many great activity sets for younger children. Mikey picked out a Monster colouring set and he really loves it.

this simple set included several A5 printed monster designs, felt tip pens and crayons. All perfectly good quality and they have entertained Mikey for hours over several days as he keeps returning to colour another monster, he even has started drawing his own collection of monsters now.

Mikey also picked out a Bin weevil set, which included a pencil case, pencil sharpener, pen and pencil. This is a great little set, however the pencil case is rather small and the pencil doesn't easily fit in, and a 15cm ruler would certainly not fit. Fine for youngsters but not so great for anyone taking to school.

If you are still worrying about grabing the last minute homework supplies, or finishing off the long list of 'must haves' for the new school term, then do take a look at the great range in your local poundland store - or online on Poundlands website

Monday, 26 August 2013

New Walkers Mighty Lights

New Walkers Mighty Lights are delicious light ridged crisps with a mighty flavour, we were sent three packs to try and give our verdicts on.

The new Crisps boost 30% less fat than a standard potato crisp with no artificial colours or preservatives, no msg and suitable for vegetarians these crisps are a great choice for a snack or lunchbox treat for hungry children.

They are available in three flavours Roast Chicken, Cheese and Onion and Lighty Salted.

All three flavours were quickly devoured and are truly very tasty. The Cheese and Onion is always the most popular here closely followed by Roast Chicken.

My youngest who doesn't normally like strong flavoured crisps liked all the flavours of Mighty Lights.

Mighty Lights come in multipacks each individual bag contains 25g  which is just enough for a afternoon snack or to complement a tasty sandwich making up a nice meal.

Not all crisps are  unhealthy, and as part of a balanced diet these are a great source of fibre and really are a happy compromise for parents of children who love crisps and a perfect addition to school lunch boxes.

Mighty Lights are available from all good supermarkets very soon so do look out for them or take a look at the website

We were supplied the crisps in order to review and were compensated for our time but all views are our own.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Yu! Fruit Snack Review and Giveaway


I am always on the look out for healthy snacks for the children, especially when it comes to what to put into Lunch boxes for school and days out.

One of my main worries is if the children are getting enough fruit and vegetables, thankfully they do all eat well, but everyone hears of the '5 a day' rule and its not always easy to ensure children have their full quota.

Yu! is a great product helping make parents life easier as their fantastic range of products contain great tasting fruit, each bag containing one of the all important 5 a day.

I was sent a lovely selection of Yu products to try out, there are 4 delicious products to try each in a  variety of fruit flavoured.

The 100%  Jus fruit chews are available in 5 yummy flavours including strawberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, cherry and mango. These little packs of fruit are made from over 7.5 times there weight in fruit, ensuring that each bag contains one of your 5 a day.

Because they are truly 100% fruit they taste great, they are juicy and sweet and children think of them as sweets - perfect lunchbox treats.

Yu also have a range of products with a natural yogurt coating, These were my childrens favourite in the selection, available in a range of flavours including raisin, raspberry strawberry, blackcurrent and even banana. They are a great way to introduce new fruits to children.

Yu! also have a selection of fruit and cereal products, in the form of Granola snacks, which are crunchy little clusters of fruit and cereal making them a really tasty healthy snack.

There are also Yu! cereal and fruit bars, which again come in a variety of fruity flavours. These great tasting bars are covered in natural yogurt making them super scrummy and a firm favourite.

All the Yu! bars and snacks are available from Tesco, in stores or online so do add them to your shopping list. You can find out more about the great range of products on the Yu website.

Or why not tell me which you think you might like best to be in with a chance to receive your very own selection to try?

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

I have 1 selection of Yu fruit snacks to give away.
Included in the prize is a selection of Yu products, which includes:

3 x packs of the 100% JusFruit chews
2 x Fruit and Cerial Yu Bars
1 x Granola crunchy cerial and fruit bites
2 x Yoghurt covered fruit snacks

To be included in the prize draw and get a selection of Yu bars delivered straight to your door, please leave a comment in the blog post below and follow the raffle copter instructions.

Additional entries can be achieved by following Me ( @sarahdazjc ) and Yu Fruits (@YuHealthySnacks)  on Twitter and liking Yu fruits Facebook Page  -

Entry is only open to the UK and winner will be selected at random.

Closing Date is  Sunday 8th September 2013 11.59pm BST I will contact the winners after this date and request delivery information. Prize will be sent directly from Yu!Fruits. If I have not managed to contact the winner before 22nd September I will re pick the winner.

Good Luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 23 August 2013

Beautiful Back to school Stationery

Chloe is like most 10 year old girls and simply likes nothing more than a new pencil case and stationery set. I think the one thing she most  looks forward to at the start of each school year is being able to pick out a new set of school stationery.

And this year we were thrilled to be sent some lovely bits to review from Ryman Stationery.

Ryman Stationery is renowned for quality value and reliability, specialising in stationery for over 100 years they stock the very best stationery covering everything from day to day essentials to more specialist products.

It's no surprise  that the quality of the goods we were sent is second to none.

We were sent the great 'Give a hoot' owl pencil case which retails at £4.99 the zipper is one which is sure to withstand the test of time. The attention to detail is lovely, there is a beautiful owl decoration attached too which Chloe thought was great.

With a wipe clean surface this one pocket barrel pencil case is an ideal size for taking to school, it happily fits everything children need including a 15cm ruler.   The colours appeal to everyone along with the cute owl designs this really is an attractive pencil case.

We also received a Super School Stationery set, included in the set there is everything children need for taking to school or keeping at home for homework. In  the set is 6 coloured felt tip pens, a pencil, sharpener, rubber, ruler, notepad and a ball point pen. All items have the matching owl design.
 Priced at £5.99 this is a great value one stop set which is sure to make homework fun.

Also included in the Give a Hoot range is a lovely sticker pad, which contains over 200 stickers.
This handy little booklet has 12 pages full of stickers, each page contains the same set of designs, including a 'This book belongs too' name sticker and lots of lovely individual owl characters, perfect for customising your own books and folders.

We really love all the 'Give a hoot' range and have had a look at the Ryman Stationery website where you can see the full range, which includes notepads and even iphone covers all at very reasonable prices.

If you are looking for school stationery be sure to check out the fantastic range of products available at your local Ryman store, or online on their website.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Ordinary Moments

I am a huge fan of the beautiful photographs over at Mummy Daddy and Me and when I saw that they were hosting a new weekly linky called Ordinary moments I marked it on my 'must do' list.

It is after all one of the main reasons I love blogging - to capture the moments - the ordinary moments of daily life.

Why is it then the most ordinary moments I don't store here, I take photos - lots of photos, then I pick through them and post the ones I think are best.

But what if the ones which don't make the final cut are in fact the ones I most want to have stored.

The ones which might not show glistening water, or beautiful scenery they might not be technically brilliant or crystal clear and colourful, but they might just capture those moments that I really don't want to forget.

Back to School with Bostik

The one thing I remember about the end of the summer holidays was the annual trip into town to stock up with all the school stationary supplies. I loved picking out new pens and pencils, a pencil case and a folder.

But as fun as this was, come the first day at school I realised I really didn't actually need the compass or the clear plastic wallets, and I would always find myself frustrated when there was something that I had simply overlooked.

This year its all starting again for me, but this time as a parent. My eldest will be starting senior school in September and I now have the daunting task to ensure he arrives at school with everything he needs, without over spending on things he really doesn't.

So when Bostik said they would help out and send me some bits I was pleased to see they had sent things which I wouldn't automatically think to purchase as school stationary, but actually are very useful must have items.

Of course the scientific calculators, pens, pencils and a good ruler are all essentials, but  when you think about it, I remember that one of the first things we had to do in every lesson was stick in a time table, school rules, a drawn diagram or print out of some sort in just about every single lesson.

So a easy to use none messy glue stick is simply essential and something which often gets forgot leaving children shoving the important paperwork into rucksacks, screwed up underneath books never to be seen again.

The Bostik stickipen however is perfect for keeping in your pencil case, it is the size of a pen, and is used in the same way as a pen with a small tip to ensure clean simple glue application on almost any surface.

Another great feature of the stikipen is that it can be re positional if you apple the glue to your item and then leave it for a couple of minutes to go touch dry you can stick things down and then peel them and reposition them should you need too. However if you don't leave the glue to go touch dry then it forms a VERY strong bond and will not be removable.

We really love the stikipens and know they will definitely be well used.

The other items in our Bostik Back to School set were the ever essential Blu Tack. Bostik are the original Blue Tack makers and everyone everywhere will surely have fond memories of blue tack with its almost never ending uses.

But why is it a back to school essential? Well think about it - starting a new year at secondary school - what is the single most daunting part? Getting to grips with a new timetable, and what better way to ensure you know what books to pack each morning than to stick up your new timetable on your bedroom wall. and what better way to do that than with Blu Tack, and of course keeping a bit of blue tack to fiddle with may just keep children from doodling all over the new folder and pencil case!

Then there is Sew Simple - which is more for us mums than the children to use, I reviewed sew simple back in January - you can read that blog post here and it is a great way to turn up hems on trousers and attach name labels onto the school uniform without using needles and threads. Sew simple is easy to use and extremely effective, if you haven't seen it yet then do pick some up from your local supermarket next time your there!

There are other great things in the Bostik range including childrens craft supplies such as glitter pens, jumbo glue pens and stronger adhesives for all the home DIY jobs. All Bostiks items can be seen on the Bostik website and found in a multitude of shops for very reasonable prices.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Glitzi Globes Showcase Review

We received the Glitzi Globes showcase to review, and as soon as the parcel arrived I knew it was something which Chloe was going to be excited to look at.

Glitzi globe showcase box review
Glitzi Globes are customisable snowdomes which you can make yourself and the best thing is that everything you need is included in the kit  you just need to add water- so there is no disappointment once you open the box.

contents of the glitzi globe showecase set from flair plc

There are several Glitzi Globe sets available, and the idea is that you can make your own glitter domes filled with the colourful little characters and glitter pieces then turn them into rings, have them as perfect pocket toys and swop them with your friends or display them on your showcase stand.

The characters are cute and colourful and really appeal to young girls.

small characters to put in glitzi globes

We received the showcase set which included everything you need to make 4 mini domes and one mega dome, the showcase also included a plastic display stand, so as you grow your glitzi globe collection you have somewhere to display your creations.

customise your own snowdome glitter globe

The idea is a fun one, and the method to make the glitterdomes is a really simple one, which children can happily complete with minimum input from an adult.

making a snow dome with glitzi globes

the dome maker to make the little domes worked really well, you place the plastic dome into the maker add your character, glitter cube and water then close the lid press down and upon opening you will find a lovely mini dome.

The glitter comes in clever little blocks which means you don't have to worry about glitter exploding everywhere, the blocks release the glitter into the domes once you add water and give them a shake.
The domes didn't leak at all, and the only time we got glitter outside of our domes is when we Chloe reopened one of them to change the character. You just have to ensure you press firmly down to seal the domes in place and prevent leaks.

The end result is a very pretty set up which children really love, the large dome in the showcase has 3 carousel horses, which you can spin around via a spinner on the top of the globe.

The display stand is overall very pretty and something which Chloe was very proud to display as she had created her very own globes.

Priced around £19.99 for the showcase I do think this makes a great gift, and Chloe really does love the globes and has already asked for more to add to her collection, but you do have to remember they only take a few minutes to make and Chloe made the whole set within an hour, and although she has displayed it proudly in her bedroom and showed it to her friends, without buying more refills it doesn't hold much more play value, the refills are currently hard to find with large retails like Argos not currently stocking them which is important to note.

This aside I am sure that children will really love the showcase and hopefully over the coming months we will see the refills in more shops so we can build up our display. You can see the whole range on the Flair website

Here is Chloe showing you how to make a Glitzi Globe.

Friday, 16 August 2013

How would I #Spend20k ?

We're not really big spenders here, no fancy holidays, no jetting off all over the world, no massive houses or fancy cars.

We've always lived off a modest income, having never really known what its like to splash the cash, instead I have always counted the pennies.

But with that said, like everyone, sitting and discussing what we would do if we won the National Lottery has been discussed more than once, and now the Lotto is changing. On the 5th October the new rules will come in, giving players more chances to win more prizes. Not only is the £10 for 3 balls being increased to £25 and larger money prizes for 4 balls, there is also a new raffle, which will guarantee at least 50 winners of £20,000 every draw. Meaning the possibility of being the lucky ones has increased that bit and talks of what if's and dreams are become that bit stronger.

£20,000 is a lot of money so Britmums have asked bloggers to describe what they would do with it to be in with a chance of winning a love2shop voucher.

So what would I do if I had a sudden windfall? If holidays abroad aren't really our thing, and cars not really something that excites me, even fine dinning in posh restaurants doesn't tickle my taste buds.

No, for me if I won £20,000 it would not mean splashing out to spend on quick fix of happiness, as lovely as jetting all over sounds, camera in hand, off to see new exciting places, I think I'd be happier with a more lasting investment.

Last year we were lucky enough to be given an opportunity to help out a family friend and do up his old boat, we scrimped and saved and managed to do the boat up abit, made it good enough to use

Then use it we did. After spending money on it we only paid a small amount to become the owners of our very own cruiser, something with our usually tight budget we were truly overjoyed with. Compared to spending just a few nights camping (which is the only holiday we've ever been on), this was our chance to have a real family break for a fraction of the cost of a holiday abroad.

And so we set off and toured the canals all summer long - the summer with more rain than we'd seen in years! All of us cramped in a tiny little boat really meant for just 2 people, all 5 of us (and a boxer dog) some how managed to live for several weeks with just ourselves and a few select games to entertain.

Unfortunately keeping a boat, even tho it truly was part of our dream, isn't practical when its not really big enough. Not big enough for our children, not practical enough to spend more time on with no electrics, no shower, not even enough beds.

Yes, the children did complain and they moaned about not being near their friends or with their electronic gadgets.

Yet I know now that compared to being right here, at home this summer, given the choice I'd rather be on the canals, and I think they would too.

But unfortunately  we sold that little boat, as finances didn't stretch to a bigger one, in doing so we left our dreams on the side once again.

Which brings me back to  the initial question, what would I do with 20k? well, after paying off a few  debts to get them out of the way, after ensuring everyone was suitably fed and properly clothed, I'd then go and search out a bigger boat, one which we could all comfortable spend more time on.

Without the debts monthly living would be easier, paying the waterways license and mooring fees to keep a boat not so much of a strain, 20k wouldn't enable us to by an all singing, all dancing Narrowbaot, but it could certainly buy a bigger one than Misty Blue, one that may well need abit of love and care, which may not be full of mod cons and luxeries but as long as it fit our family it surely would mean that we would be able to chase our dreams that bit further.

This post is an entry for BritMums #Spend20K Challenge sponsored by The National Lottery, with more ways to win more money on the new Lotto game. Find out more about new Lotto, which starts in October, here – or read about other bloggers dreams here

Simple Pleasures

The past three weeks we have had no school runs, no early mornings, no homework battles, no forgotten letters or demands for dinner money - my favourite part of the year. The days seem to have passed by so very quickly.

The school holidays which I always look forward to have come about and are quickly approaching an end, yet this year if I'm truthful I am not enjoying them as much as years gone by.

So what have we been upto?

To be honest not much, which has resulted in bored children and stressed parents.

I have heard endless moans of 'I'm bored' and I feel guilt that we have not been further than a few miles from our front door. 

We have had days where we have been stuck inside, due to the weather, low funds or me having to get some work done, or a mixture of all three, these days pass with children busying themselves for a few hours before the boredom kicks in, then squabbles and fights erupt, the older two always seeming to make Mikey upset by their offhanded attitudes to toys and games he so enjoys, days which have ended with everyone hoping that tomorrow may be better.

Of course we have been out and about locally trying to find something to busy ourselves with, only to realise once there the expectations were far greater than what was on offer, and infact it all isn't as fun as we had hoped. Low funds mean options are limited, and finding something to entertain everyone seems to be so much harder this year.

I'm not sure if it is simply a matter of age, or a matter of circumstance, but each time I have put the effort in, and really tried to make a day pass without the stomps and complaints, without the moody glances and angry words,  my efforts are met with blank looks and forced smiles at best.

The times I fondly remember of messy crafts which would bring smiles and laughter, stories and rhymes and picnics in the park, finding joy in nothing at all, just don't seem to have the same appeal.

I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact my children are hitting that age where they are truly happiest at home in their rooms or with there friends.

It is for this reason why catching glimpses of the simple pleasures, the moments where all three are together, happy and perhaps actually enjoying spending that time with each other are moments I want to capture and hold on to for as long as I can.

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