Heat Holders Give-Away

With the colder months drawing closer, I’ve a lovely, cosy give-away for you to keep you snug! Heat Holders socks will keep your toes warm, and I’ve three pairs up for grabs.

Here’s a little information about Heat Holders:

As far as it is known, and has ever been tested, these socks are the warmest thermal socks in the world, with a proven 2.34 tog rating.

Heat Holders are seven times warmer than normal cotton socks and are designed to keep toes toasty warm no matter what the weather brings. With different styles available making them perfect for all the family, these socks are sure to keep the cold at bay and now come in a variety of beautiful colours to ensure that your feet are both warm and stylish when out and about in the chilly weather!

The sock’s unique long looped thermal pile, soft brushed inner and advanced insulating yarn are all designed to make sure that your feet will stay really warm and comfortable. Available in sizes for men (6-11), women (4-8) and children (9-1 1⁄2 and 2-5), the whole family will be toasty warm!

Heat Holders are available for the great RRP of £10 (£5.99 for children’s socks). They can be located in various high street retailers as well as purchased through Heat Holders.

Other products in the Heat Holders range are hats, gloves, underwear, leggings and tights.

You can find Heat Holders on Twitter @HeatHolderSocks and Facebook.

4-8 Light Pink

I do now have 3 pairs of original Heat Holders to give away to 3 of my readers. The give-away is open to UK entrants only, enter by using the rafflecopter below, and it closes 19th October 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

In The Garden With Daddy

As Boo had had her first full week of school, we decided to keep last weekend low-key, thinking she’d be tired. I have to say, if she was tired, she hid it very well! We spent Saturday in the garden, and then just popped to the local shops on Sunday for a few bits and bobs, and pottered about the house and garden. On Sunday afternoon, I was ironing (I’d love to say I was doing something more interesting, but it is what it is!), when I heard riotous laughter and shrieks coming from the garden. It turns out Daddy was playing horsey and football with them, and they seemed to enjoy it….

garden play 1

garden play

garden play 3

garden play 4

I love seeing them playing with the Husband, especially with things that I’m just no good at! And the squeals of glee coming from them were just precious. No amount of toys are any substitute for Daddy time in the garden.

We tend to have more interesting outings of a weekend, but as it often turns out, even the ordinary can be heaps of fun for kids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 19/9/14

Thank you so much for continuing to share and to link up – I love to find out about everyone’s weeks in this way, love it!

If you’re new here, Word of the Week is a nice and simple weekly linky, with everyone welcome to pop by and share. You reflect back on the past week and sum it up in one word. Then share your word with us in a blog post, with as little or as much explanation as you like. I comment on and tweet out every post, and it’s a friendly place, so come join in! All that I ask is that if you link up, you link back to me, and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and comment on their words, please.

My word of the week this week is:

proud

OK, yes, this could be my word every week, I suppose, as I’m always proud of my children. But this week, I’ve felt it all the more keenly.

I’m getting used to the new school run morning routine, and I’m impressed with how well the kids have adapted to it and get ready quickly each day. There’s no arguments or struggles, we just get to it. So far, and I know it’s still early days, Boo has been quite content to get to school and every day has happily strolled into her classroom without a backward glance. She comes out cheery each afternoon and she actually tells me what she’s been doing, too, though she informs me she’s not ‘learning’ just playing, a real disappointment to her! She’s adjusted so well, and today will be the first day that she brings homework home to do, which will be a textless book, library book, tricky word book and some phonics work – I cannot tell you how excited she is by this prospect! Oh, to bottle this enthusiasm for homework and remind her of it when she’s 13!

I’m finding myself really enjoying and adjusting to my days spent with Little Man. He’s taken to this one to one time so well, and he’s suddenly got a social life with 2 classes and a playgroup each week, which he’s not had before, as I used Boo’s non preschool days for time for the three of us to get out together or play at home. He is blossoming already, which clearly makes me feel a bad mum as he must have been itching for this before. He’s now been to 4 classes and 1 playgroup session and the change that I can already see in him when we’re out, the way that he’s interacting with the children around him and joining in with the activities, is just huge. Last week he stuck right by me, but this week, he’s getting involved. I was used to taking Boo to these things, who simply leapt right into everything she did, so this has been a change for me. Of course, I can see that as he is relaxing into these new environments and situations, he’s also becoming more mischievous – he’s the child trying to work out how to open all the doors or mess with the equipment wherever we go! It makes me so proud of him all the same as I can see him flourishing.

So separately they are making me proud, and then it seems I’d no need to worry about their close bond weakening with Boo at school, as together they are just brilliant. They’ve come back from school each night this week and gone straight out into the garden. As I ready dinner, I can hear them playing in their make believe world together, or in fits of laughter as they jump and dive on the trampoline. They get on so well, they make me so proud.

I’m also quite proud of myself as I am, I think and hope, striking a better balance between life and blogging. I work in fairly well-defined slots of time now, and outside of that, I’m all about the kids and home. Prior to this, I sort of drifted from one thing to the other, and it was all a little fluid, which often meant I wasn’t fully concentrating on one or the other! But since Boo started school, I’m getting a routine in place and it’s working. I’m fitting in more with the kids and I’m a week ahead on scheduling posts. Fingers crossed it continues!

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share.

The Reading Residence



Linky opens at 6.30am Friday, to midnight on Sunday.

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Boo’s Dream Home

When Boo was invited to draw her dream home, though she’s very talented at her crafting and drawing, she is only 4, and I wasn’t sure she could quite grasp it. I mentioned it to her, and she said she wanted to do it, and that she had ideas. OK, let’s go for it then, as I was intrigued to see what she’d come up with.

And so the box of goodies arrived…

Draw your Dream Home

Boo was excited! We popped Little Man down for his nap (he’s a craft fanatic, too, but he may have got in Boo’s way a little!), and she told me exactly what her dream home would be like. I helped her draw some of it to get her started, and then she took over…

Boo drawing her dream home

She drew it all out as she wanted it, and then went to town with the crafting supplies, rolling up tissue paper, adding pom poms and of course, glitter, lots of glitter! So I present to you, Boo’s Dream Home….

Boo's dream home

I love it! Let me talk you through it. She was very clear that she’d want it to be in the forest, and liked the idea of it being shaped like a fairy’s house. I popped that mound there for her and a couple of windows, and then it was all her. She added a spider climbing up a drainpipe, extra windows, including her face looking out of one of them, and you see that one at the top left coloured in? That’s Little Man’s room with the blind down as he’s napping. We then have the sun, a flower, a couple of trees and the most sparkly butterfly you’ve ever seen! She then realised that she’d need swings, of course! She drew one in and then worried that her brother wouldn’t be able to go on it, and so she added another one, with a baby seat in it for him. Then she glittered the house – you can never have too much, can you?! And there you have it. The Dream.

I think it’s wonderful that she’s at an age where materialism doesn’t affect her. Maybe in a couple of years it’ll be all about toys, cinema rooms, swimming pools and skate ramps, but for now? Now it’s just about being in the forest with flowers, swings and butterflies…

What would your dream home be like?

Written in collaboration with Principality Building Society.

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My Garden in September

September already, and the changing season is clear to see when I look out into my garden.

The leaves on my tree and acer are turning a beautiful burnt orange colour, and the bright splashes of colour are starting to dwindle.

Garden September tree

Garden September acer

My Japanese anemone’s still going strong..

japanese anemone

I love the vibrant colours of my sedum…

sedum

and my dahlias are just starting to flower…

dahlia

These absolutely stunning dianthus chianti double have been flowering for over a month now and are just so pretty..

dianthus chianti double

And I have had one, just one, of my gladioli flower…

gladioli

I’ve been busy out there recently, cutting back my cut-flower patch, ready for reorganising and replanting some of my perennials. As I wrote earlier this year, I could see that some things needed moving about come autumn, so now’s the time. I’ve moved my peony, taken a hydrangea out of it’s pot, and added some new plants and cuttings onto the flower patch area, too. It means there’ll be year round interest there now, and I’m already looking forward to sprinkling my seeds in and around the perennials next spring, ready to re-create another cut-flower area.

Garden September, cut flower patch

Next job is to plant in my latest bulbs delivery, which will probably be in the pots, though I’ll scatter some throughout the garden, too. And I’m still waiting on some fairy roses for the front garden, which I’m a tad too excited about! There should be another peony with that delivery, too, which will go in the patch photographed above. So, it’s all go, with plenty to do with the cooler weather moving in, so that I can get the garden the way that I’d like it to last through the winter months when I can do very little out there. I want it to be ready to burst forth with colour and life next spring.

How about you? How’s your garden growing?

Manneskjur

Storytime Magazine Review & Give-Away

Last week a new national magazine launched for parents and their children to read and enjoy together. Storytime is packed with stories and tales for us parents to sit down and read with our kids. I like reading with Boo, and she is always eager to listen to new stories, so I suspected she’d enjoy a copy of this.

If you read my post last week, you’ll also be aware of Save the Children’s Read On. Get On. campaign, encouraging every parent to spend just ten minutes a day reading with their children. It’s something I feel passionately about, as I’m sure do many parents. Ten minutes is little to ask, yet reaps huge rewards. Apart from improving their literacy and prospects, it’s simply a pleasure to sit and snuggle down each day.

storytime magazine

A little about Storytime:

Storytime is a monthly magazine for kids filled with classic tales to read, love, share and treasure.

Every issue is packed with beautifully illustrated stories, including fairy tales, myths and legends, folk tales, fables, poems and rhymes, and stories from around the world. You’ll remember some of them from your own childhood and you can discover exciting new stories together too.

Plus, in every magazine, there’s an extract from a much-loved children’s book, story-inspired puzzles and activities, and top tips from our education and reading expert.

In the first edition, we have:
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Fairy Bride
The Hare and the Tortoise
Perseus and Medusa
The Owl and the Pussy-cat
Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
PLUS puzzles, activities and a game

My first thoughts on flicking through were very positive. There are no adverts, and the pledge is that there never will be, the pages feel thick and of a good quality and the illustrations and range of stories are brilliant.

Storytime magazine pages

As Boo had been at school all week, I’d planned to sit down at the weekend, and read one or two of the stories to her, and then pick and choose some through the week. It didn’t quite pan out like that, though, as she had me read every tale to her in the one sitting!

Reading Storytime

So, it’d be fair to say that Storytime has gone down well here! She enjoyed every story, particularly The Fairy Bride. We read about Perseus, which led to plenty of discussion as she’s not heard any myths before. It did then have her asking for a Greek Myths book when we were in a bookshop later that day, so I like how it’s given her a new taster of something which has really appealed to her and has her wanting to learn more.

Boo enjoyed every single page of this magazine. I have bought her the odd magazine here and there before, but we’ve not read it cover to cover like this before, and they all end up in the recycling box. These magazines are keepers, I feel, as the stories can be re-read and referred back to. They are great tales to enjoy, and at the same time, I feel like we’re expanding her general knowledge with the classic nature of these. With a good mix of fables, myths, fairy tales, poetry and folklore, we’re also reading a huge variety in just one magazine. We have chosen to take out a subscription, and we plan to keep each copy, so they’ll be re-read over and over, just as her books are. When Little Man’s that bit older, he’ll then be able to enjoy them, too. I also know that Boo will adore having post once a month to be excited about when she returns home from school. As you’ll have gathered, Storytime gets a big thumbs up from us!

You can find out more about Storytime on their website, including a preview of this month’s issue. It’s stocked in WHSmiths, Tesco, Sainsburys Morrisons, Waitrose and local newsagents. Of course, you could always just subscribe, as we’ve now done. Subscribers currently save 25% on the cover price and receive a free collector’s magazine file.

And for one of my lucky readers, I have a prize of a 3 months (so 3 issues) subscription to Storytime up for grabs. To enter, use the rafflecopter below, open to UK residents only, closes 6th October 2014. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? What appeals to you about Storytime?

Disclosure: We received a free copy of Storytime for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own. 

Introducing Pipsticks!

As it’s Wednesday, that means it’s a Bring Back Paper day on the blog today. As such, I’ve decided to bring you 2 new papery delights today. The first, which I’ll tell you all about in just a moment is about a new sticker club (and I have a coupon code!) then do be sure to pop by later today as I’ll also be sharing with you details of a brand new children’s magazine.

So, you want to hear all about this sticker club then? OK, I’m delighted to be telling you about Pipsticks today. Founded by mum of three Maureen Vazquez, Pipsticks is a sticker club subscription service. It’s about bringing exciting post to our little ones once a month, and you know how I feel about the joys of happy mail! And, whilst I’d say that Pipsticks is aimed at children, as a sticker-fan myself, I can see these also being useful and popular with fellow snail-mailers and #PostCircle members.

The Pipsticks are sent monthly, and arrive in rather colourful and funky packaging….

Pipsticks The Reading ResidenceLovely to receive such pretty and welcoming looking post, and Boo was eager to dive in…

Pipsticks The Reading Residence

Each month, there will be 15 sheets of stickers, a postcard and some paper…

Pipsticks contents

Sets are suitable for boys and girls, and the stickers are easily manageable for little hands. Boo got busy sticking on her postcard to send to her friend…

Boo Pipsticks creating

And Little Man loved choosing and selecting his stickers, too!

Little Man and Pipsticks

It kept them both happy and busy for a while!

Pipsticks The Reading Residence

The children really like stickers, and these provided them with a great variety to play and create with. Boo loved the postcard, and was so excited to go and post it to her friend. We’ve also made a bookmark for her since, covering some card with a stickers collage. Little Man, as you can tell by his happy little face there, always enjoys stickering, and will actually sit and do it for a while (not many things hold his attention!). The quality of the stickers is really good, as we didn’t have a single torn one, and they peeled away easily from their backs, which helps as the kids can get frustrated when they can’t peel them off for themselves.

You can read more about the Pipsticks story here. Subscription prices start from $15, plus $3 for international shipping – you can find out more here.

Personally, I think with my two being quite young, that the $18 monthly is too much to justify on stickers. That said, they really enjoyed having their post and they are great stickers, so it might be something I treat them to as one-off now and then. And as a treat for myself, well, that would be well worth it…..!

Do you like the look of Pipsticks and want to try them yourself? Well, I’m delighted to say that I’ve got a coupon code for you. You will receive your first month free on any Club or Family subscription if you enter the code READING at checkout. Enjoy!

What do you think?

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Pied a Terre Reed Diffusers – Review & Giveaway

We gave our living room a makeover last month, and alongside the new wallpaper and decor, I wanted to add a little relaxing ambience.

Our living room is a child-free, toy-free zone of an evening. It’s our place to unwind and relax, whether that’s with a film, snuggling up with a book or catching up on my snail-mailing, it’s my me-time, or our ‘us-time’. To give it a calm, welcoming and cosy feel, you’ll always find we have candles and reed diffusers in there, and I love selecting the different scents – as do the children actually, they’re very happy sniffing about in a candle shop!

So handily timed with this makeover, we were recently sent a trio of mini reed diffusers to try out from the Pied a Terre collection at House of Fraser….

mini diffusers

Pied a terre set of 3 mini diffusers. Fragrances are Iris & Vetiver, Plum & Black Amber and Fig Leaf & Cassis.

Iris & Vetiver: A classic feminine floriental with a heart of iris, rose and jasmine, highlighted by top notes of bergamot and pink pepper. A sensual base of moss, vetiver and sweet amber completes the fragrance.

Plum & Black Amber: A heavenly fruitly rich plum laced with sensual black amber and dark musk accords.

Fig Leaf & Cassis: Green leafy fig accords entwine with fruity cassis and redcurrant. A base of white cedar and a hint of creamy coconut adds depth.

Reed diffusers continuously scent your home by releasing fragrance absorbed through the natural reeds. Volume: 50ml. Lasts up to 2 months.

I was excited to open this package, as it felt so luxurious and just for us – a lot of things that arrive here are for the kids! I liked the feeling of indulgence. The little jars are quite weighty and a lovely shape. In fact, I’m already thinking about how I can up-cycle them when they run out. And I like the reeds being black, as I feel it gives them a sophisticated look, tying in with the black ribbon round the neck of the jar, too.

We’ve started off with the Plum and Black Amber, though I’ve opened them all to try them out. I think this will be my favourite, followed by the Fig Leaf & Cassis, and then the Iris and Vetiver. I tend to favour fruity fragrances to floral in the house, though I think I’ll need to try them all out with the reeds for a few days before fully deciding. A difficult task..!

Plum and Black Amber reed diffuser

I do buy reed diffusers regularly for the living room, and have found brands do vary a lot both in terms of scent and longevity. Now, these claim to last for 2 months, which would impress me if they do so. So far, we’ve had this one out for a little over a week, which in other cases I’ve already noted a fading strength in the aroma, whereas these are just as fresh as they were when I first opened them..so far, so good!

Now, House of Fraser have offered me one set of these mini diffusers to give away to one of my lucky readers, too – wahoo! To be in with a chance of winning, simply use the rafflecopter below. Open to UK entrants only, closes 13th October 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which scent appeals to you the most?

Disclosure: We received the diffusers FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own.

We're going on an adventure

The Blog Lowdown – The Adventures of Jack Jack

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m pleased to be bringing you the lovely Kate from The Adventures of Jack Jack

Please Introduce yourself:
Hello, my name is Kate and I am a first time Mummy to my beautiful son Jack and he is the focus of my blog. We love messy, sensory and small world play, creativity and exploring new places. When I am not being Mummy I am a Titanic nerd and big bang theory, most haunted and chocolate and banana toasty obsessive.

When did you start blogging?
I started my blog December 2011 but I didn’t start to actually blog until the summer of 2013.

Tell us a little about your blog
My blog is about the adventures of my 2 year old son Jack and our life as a family of 3, we feature craft ideas, days out, recipes and reviews.

Who designed your blog?
I myself have designed the layout of my blog using wordpress templates and widgets.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
The post that has received the most comments (that wasn’t a competition) was my views on the rights and wrongs of parenting. Many readers seem to agree with me that our judgemental view of different parenting techniques is wrong and we should be working together, not against each other.
Jack has had a lot of fans in the form of online and real life friends who follow his adventures via the blog and enjoy reading updates about his latest craft or day out.

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
After clicking publish I use twitter, facebook and google + as well as blogger groups to promote the post. The most successful by far is twitter however I have noticed google search engine has been sending a lot of readers my way since reviewing our toddle pod and my hubby’s review of socialites e cigarette.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
I love linkys, they are such a fab way of discovering new blogs and expanding your readers. I regularly join in with Tried & tested (Family fever), Country kids (Coombe mill) and Silent Sunday (Cosmic girlie) to name a few.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
I don’t really have specific days but if Jack is clingy or ill then I am playing catch up for the rest of the week. He is starting nursery soon so I will have some time to focus on the blog and hopefully get more done.

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
Blogging has allowed me to be part of a wonderfully supportive community and has given me much more confidence. It has also given me the opportunity to be involved in some exciting projects and to try out some fabulous products.

5 great tips for bloggersMy Top Tips for Bloggers:
Tip 1: I use google translate to check my posts by sound rather than sight alone. Listening to it rather than just reading reveals a lot more than you would think.
Tip 2: I keep a notebook with me at all times to jot down ideas or reminders. Too many times my early morning call of nature has been joined by an idea, only to be forgotten when it’s time to get up.
Tip 3: Take photos at every opportunity, they might fit with a review or post or become part of a linky post.
Tip 4: Make the titles of your post tantalising to entice readers to your post but keep it relevant.
Tip 5: Use pictures and smaller paragraphs to break up walls of text. Too much text in one go can make readers switch off and become bored, pictures can make you want to read on to find out the story behind them.

My Social Media Links:
You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram

The adventures of JackJack

Thanks very much, Kate. Ooh, I’ve never tried Google translate before – interesting tip to try, thanks!

If you’ve any questions for Kate, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. Next week, we will be hearing from Claudine from In the Moment Mum, so be sure to pop by for that on Tuesday morning. You can catch up the previous posts from other bloggers here, too, if you’ve missed them.

If you’d like to feature on The Blog Lowdown, just email me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com to get involved.

To ensure you don’t miss any blogger posts, you can now sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll always include The Blog Lowdown round up in those.

Other posts you might like:

How to Write a Brilliant ‘About Me’ Page

My 20 Top Tips for Bloggers

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

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