Fruit Shoot Easy Squeezy Smooth Jams

We’ve been carrying out some taste-testing here, sampling the new Robinsons Fruit Shoot easy squeezy smooth jams…

Fruit Shoot jam

They’re made with 30% less sugar than standard jams, and there are no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. They come in easy to use squeezy bottles.

There are three different flavours, which Boo likes choosing from at lunchtimes now! There is Apple & Blackcurrant, Orange and Strawberry & Summer Fruits.

fruit shoot jams

As they are smooth and squeezy, they do come out of the bottle easily, which makes sandwich making nice and fast (I’m not the only one that has kids haranguing me for their food at lunchtime, am I?!)

fruit shoot easy squeezy jam

This also means that they can be a little runny, so after my first lesson in this, with jam leaking on the kids!, I used a lot less the second time, and all was well. Which is also rather handy, as it means it’ll all last longer, too. We’ve had jam sandwiches and jam on toast with it so far, and our next plan will be using it as a topping on some ice cream, rather than syrup. They do taste nice, and Boo’s quote is that they’re ‘delicious’, and she tells me that she likes all three of them. Little Man favoured the Strawberry & Summer Fruits flavour of the three, as he wasn’t as interested in the others (to be honest, he has days where he won’t eat any sandwiches, so next week, this could all be a different story!) Personally, I think the flavours are good, particularly the Apple and Blackcurrant, but I like bits in my jam, though I know plenty don’t, and my kids certainly seem to prefer these. I do like the squeezy jam method, as I hate getting margarine in the jam off my knife when I’m spreading, so this prevents that minor irritation!

The verdict? - they’re fast to serve up, have less sugar than standard jams and taste good. Yes, we will get these again. Oh, and as an extra bonus with this product, the sound of the jam being squeezed out is hilarious to the kids. Not something you get with most other food types, so a real asset….!

What do you think of them?

Disclosure: We received the jams FOC, but all words and opinions remain my own

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We're going on an adventure

The Blog Lowdown – Little Bohemian Butterfly

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m delighted to be hosting Little Bohemian Butterfly….

Please Introduce yourself:
I am Little Bo of Little Bohemian Butterfly.

When did you start blogging?
I have blogged on different accounts for about 5 years. My latest blog has been established since January 2014. This blog has to be my favourite by far because creativity is my passion and I enjoy sharing it with the world.

Tell us a little about your blog
The original idea behind my blog was to record my creative journey for the year of 2014, to look back at the end of the year and say, hey I did all of that. It is like an online diary/journey of my creativity but I know already it will continue long past the end of the year. My blog covers projects that many can do, upcycling, recycling, revamping, DIY, small craft projects and tutorials but above all it is to show how creative you can be with scraps of material or an old glass jar and a peg or two and inspire people to get crafting.

Who designed your blog?
I did.
I wanted a neutral base to enable me to showcase my photographs, especially when they are bright and bold. It takes me ages to do a blog post because I manipulate all my photographs first and then upload everything. I feel it works though, I love my quirky text on photographs.
I chose the font for the blog that best represents me, I love the fonts and this was a very important aspect for me. Posts need to be crisp and clear but also fresh and striking.
I also created the pages to help guide viewers to specific posts under areas that may interest them and it also works that it keeps all posts in rotation.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
The most popular post I did was the Pretty Nostalgic subscription feature, I admit I felt this was one of my best posts. The tutorials come a very close second and the crocheting and redesign of furniture is very popular too. My most popular page is Little Bo, people are clearly keen to know more about me LOL.

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
I haven’t overly shouted about my posts. I have my blog linked to Instagram and Pinterest and use G+ and Twitter to share posts. Not one platform is more successful at the moment as I seem to get traffic from everywhere.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
This isn’t something I have done as yet.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
I have no idea because everyday is different. Some days I can have up to 300 views whether or not I have blogged and others only 10 views. It is nice to receive traffic and comments but the blog isnt about that for me.

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
It has helped me express myself artistically and provides a sense of achievement
It encourages me with presentation and writing articles/posts
I have found lots of lovely creative people through blogging.

My Top 5 Tips for Bloggers:
1. Write about your knowledge, if people believe you know your stuff you will become an authority within your field and people will be genuinely interested in your posts and advice.
2. Tutorials. Everyone loves a good tutorial
3. Feature creatives or professionals within your field on your blog, offer diversity of people and subjects.
4. Good photography is a must.
5. Keep to your theme. I write a creative blog and try to cover this theme, people read my creative blog for creative inspiration that is what interests them. Luckily creativity comes in all forms.

My Social Media Links:
You can find me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SoundCloud & Google+

little bohemian butterfly

Thanks very much, Little Bo! It’s great to be featuring such a creative blogger, and good to know the blog will keep on going into next year, too!

If you’ve any questions for Little Bo, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. Next week, we will be hearing from Kriss at Over There to Here, 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:

My 20 Top Tips for Bloggers

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

10 Tips to Get your Blogging Mojo Back

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Ozeri Pedometer – Review

Now, I’m not one for going to the gym, though I enjoyed it for a while back in my pre-kids days. And of an evening, after they’ve gone to bed, well, that’s when you’ll find me here blogging and all that that entails, or flopping on the sofa watching TV. But that’s not to say that I feel unfit, as the kids keep me very busy all day, running around after them. I was curious to find out exactly how much running about I do do each day, so I got myself an Ozeri pedometer

ozeri pedometer

I remember someone telling me that we should walk 10,000 steps per day. I did check that this wasn’t just a random and inaccurate recollection, and it turns out that there is indeed an NHS challenge to walk 10,000 steps per day, as it’s suggested that level will improve your health. Apparently, the average person walks 3000-4000 per day.

It’s a handy sized thing, and easy to get going with. As you can see it’s small so it’s not cumbersome in any way to carry about, but it’s also not tiny, so you won’t lose it!

ozeri pedometer size

It tells me both my steps and calories burned. It actually does make a difference to my behaviour and has nudged me into moving more on the days where I haven’t stepped enough! At the weekends, I walk a lot, as we tend to be off out on day trips that have us doing a lot of walking, so I reach my 10,000 then. Week days vary so much, so this has me conscious of those days, and if I’ve done very few steps, I find myself strolling round the garden, and going up and down the stairs a few extra times! I do worry that I may become obsessed!

Product Pluses:
It’s small, lightweight, and easy to carry around (it does also come with a cord to hang it round your neck, though I just pop mine in my pocket).
It’s simple to set up, with very clear instructions on how to do so.
It has a one year warranty.
It contains a lot of information – steps, distance, average speed, calories burned, and it records this over 7 days for you to look back on.
It made me move more!

Product Niggles:
It gains time daily. Not loads, and it doesn’t cause me a problem, as I’m using it out of curiosity really, but it could do with being addressed, I think.
The first day that I used it, I put it in my pocket, as it suggested. However, my jeans front pocket is obviously too snug a place for it to be, as when I came to look at it on the evening, eager to see how my first day had gone!, it had stopped itself as the buttons were obviously being pressed in my pocket. Perhaps a lock button?

Overall, from my point of view, the product does as I want it to do – prompt me into being more conscious about my fitness levels and it has had me moving more. Have you tried one of these?

Disclosure: I received this product FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own

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One Proud Mummy

It’s actually happened. My little girl has now left pre-school, and primary school is beckoning her. I wrote recently about how I feel about it, and not much has changed, to be honest. But her readiness for school, her enthusiasm for it all to begin, that keeps me smiling and keeps me proud.

It was her Leaver’s Assembly on Friday afternoon. The Husband managed to get the afternoon off work, and my mum came and watched Little Man, so that we could go along and watch our daughter perform. And perform she did, dancing the Tango (don’t ask – it was somewhat random, what with the footballers, the strong men and the ballerinas!). She made us so proud. She’s been practising the dance for weeks now, and took her rehearsals very seriously. Here’s a photo (sorry it’s grainy, just a phone shot from the back of the room) of her taking to the stage, about to throw her moves…

boo tango

And then add to how proud we were seeing her up there on stage, the folder and transition documents that we received, detailing all that she’s been up to over the past year. The words ‘friendly’, ‘confident’ and ‘energy’ jumped out most frequently, which I think are great attributes in a 4 year old (there is absolutely no bias here, obviously!) and it seems she’s already competent in most of the key learning areas that she needs to reach next year, so I’d say she’s well set up and ready to go.

Sad though this end of an era makes me, it also makes me one proud mummy. And for that, my gorgeous girl, I thank you.

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 photo 93142f35-6d39-479f-b3de-d94dbca68162_zps58499252.jpg

I Love It, But Will The Kids?

I’ve loved history for as long as I can really remember. I distinctly recall sitting in my friend’s bedroom when we were around 9 or 10, and working on our Henry 8th project for school, and we could have chosen any topic in the whole world to present on, but we went for history. It carried through to my GCSE’s, ‘A’ levels, and I had a place to read History at Warwick University, though I didn’t end up taking them up on it, but that’s a whole other story…!

My parents are not very interested in the subject, so I know it wasn’t their influence that had me hooked. But I would like to think that maybe, just maybe, one of my pair will share my enthusiasm for the subject, one day. And until they really grasp what it’s all about, we’ll be going out and about exploring, having adventures, surrounded by beautiful sites, brimming with history…

tattershall Castle 4

tattershall Castle

Tattershall Castle 1

Tattershall Castle 3

Tattershall Castle 2

Belton House 4

Belton House

Belton House 1

Belton House 3

Belton House 2

On our recent trip to Lincolnshire, we took in Tattershall Castle, Lincoln Cathedral and Castle, Gunby Hall and Belton House. These photos are from Tattershall Castle and Belton House. The kids are probably oblivious to the history surrounding them, but it’s the excitement that I see in their faces as they run from room to room and career around the grounds and gardens that makes the trips feel magical, and I’m sure that all of the history is seeping in somewhere!

How about you? What passions are you hoping your kids will share with you?

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 18/7/14

Thank you so much for continuing to share and to link up, and thanks for all of the well wishes last week. The kids are both healing well, though Little Man’s still very cautious about his foot, liking to have a dressing on it daily (I doubt he needs it now, but he wants it!). He’s had 2 more accidents since then, but he’s OK!

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. 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.

My word of the week this week is:

dawn

I’ve seen dawn every single day for the last week, and on some lucky occasions, it’s been even earlier that the kids have risen. Our long weekend was lovely, though I think the latest ‘lie in’ we had was until 6.10am, and our earliest start was 4.30am, though Boo did at least just crawl into our bed at that time, and not run about, though her wriggling and bored sighs ensured we didn’t get back to sleep. Since then, it’s been largely Little Man awake at the crack of dawn, though of course, this rouses Boo. Needless to say, I’m feeling a tad tired, especially with the post-break catch up with everything, but at least it’s been sunny to brighten my mood and thudding headache!

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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Wash Away CMV

It’s pretty rare that I share straightforward press releases on the blog, but when this one landed in my inbox, I knew I’d be sharing it with you. It’s important, it matters, and I’d like to help get the message out about CMV and join in with their Wash Away CMV campaign….

Celebrities Kimberley Walsh and Rufus Hound are amongst hundreds of people who have posted a “handie’ on social media, to show their support for the www.cmvaction.org.uk Wash Away CMV campaign. But the charity is hoping people throughout the UK will join in the campaign too.

Only 14% of women aged 18 – 44 know about the deadly CMV virus, which is more common than Down’s Syndrome, Toxoplasmosis, Spina Bifida or Rubella, according to a survey of over 1,000 British women recently published by CMV Action.

Congenital CMV is one of the main causes of children being born with birth defects in the UK but pregnant women are not routinely told about it, nor the simple steps they can take to protect themselves.

CMV Chair and parent of a CMV child, Caroline Star, takes up the story: “CMV can have devastating effects on an unborn foetus including profound deafness, cerebral palsy and even stillbirth, and yet most women of childbearing age have no idea what it is. However, there are some simple steps women can take to avoid catching CMV when pregnant and it doesn’t take long to arm women with this knowledge”.

CMV Action wants to educate women about the virus and a range of preventative measures – washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water during pregnancy, especially after changing a young child’s nappy or clearing up after meals, is paramount. The CMV virus is easily killed by soap and water but remains alive outside the body for as long as 15 minutes.

Pregnant women are more at risk because, if they catch the virus, it can cause a number of birth defects in their developing baby. CMV is the most common infection at birth. Around 1 in 1000 babies born in the UK will be damaged by CMV – that’s nearly 1000 babies every year. As CMV is unheard of, it is a common misconception that it is rare. It is, in fact, more common than Down’s Syndrome, Toxoplasmosis, Spina Bifida and Rubella.

CMV is a “stealth virus” which works by evading the immune system, so developing a vaccine has not been easy. However, international experts and government representatives are now positive it can be done. Once you catch it, you have it in your body for life but it doesn’t protect you from catching a different strain of the virus. The virus is spread through saliva, nasal discharge, and other bodily fluids, yet with awareness and simple precautions, a pregnant woman can greatly reduce the risk to herself and her unborn child.

Kimberley Walsh’s friend, Lisa, has a son, Christian, who was diagnosed with Congenital Cytomegalovirus shortly after being born, which has left him profoundly deaf and autistic. Commenting on her decision to become a Patron of CMV Action, Kimberley Walsh said: “For me, it’s personal, especially now being pregnant myself. The CMV virus affected my friend’s son, which means he has permanent disabilities. I have always wanted to do something for Christian and particularly the charity CMV Action, set up to support families affected by CMV and to raise awareness of the CMV virus. Congenital CMV is one of the main causes of children being born with birth defects in the UK but pregnant women are not routinely told about it, nor the simple steps they can take to protect themselves.”

CMV ACTION WEBSITE CMV ACTION TWITTER CMV ACTION FACEBOOK

I’ve joined the campaign, and you can also help spread the word. Simply write “Wash Away CMV” on your hand, take a photo and share it on your Blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, by using @cmvactionuk or #washaawayCMV when uploading the image, It’s a simple but effective way to get across the hand washing message to everyone, but especially women planning a pregnancy.

Wash Away CMV

I didn’t even know about this – did you? Please help raise awareness and get those handies tweeted.

My Garden in July

I have been really enjoying pottering about in the garden this summer. The work that I began last year is bearing fruit, as I have splashes of colour all around me, and more importantly I feel, I have scents wafting at me from all directions. Here’s a little peek at what’s happening out there at the moment…

my garden July

My sweet peas are doing really well – I’ve cut loads of them this month..

sweet peas

My cut flower patch is looking rather lush! I’m getting fresh flowers from it all of the time now, which is exactly what I’d hoped for.

cut flower patch in July

Amongst the flowers are these gorgeous poppies..

poppy

Marigolds…

marigold
And I love these cerinthe…

cerinthe

Then elsewhere in the garden, we have…

asiatic lillies

pots July

verbascum

clematis

And to my rose love…

rose

Harlow Carr Rose

Harlow Carr Rose Bloom

white rose bush

white rose

As I wrote about last month, I’m still in the midst of scribbling furiously away in my gardening journal, noting down changes I want to make come autumn when I can move things around more freely. And I might have just ordered some new plants, too (*whistles innocently*). OK, but I clearly needed a winter-flowering honeysuckle, and it was at a bargain price, and I needed a fair few bulbs ready for spring, I fell totally in love with a peony called ‘Sorbet’, and I obviously had to make my front bit of garden into something of a rose garden…didn’t I? Actually, I’ve never shared my front garden – it should be called small area, really, not garden as it’s merely a bed underneath my window, but I figure it’s a good space for The Fairy rose, so I’ve ordered 3 in different colours and I cannot wait! I’ll update you, of course, when everything arrives…

Until then, how’s your garden growing?

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Manneskjur

Dragon Loves Penguin by Debi Gliori – Review

We recently received a gorgeous new picture book from Bloomsbury Publishing…

dragon loves penguinDragon Loves Penguin by Debi Gliori
It’s bedtime in the land of ice and snow.
“Night, night,” says Bib’s mummy.
“Sleep tight,” says Bib’s daddy.
But Bib has a better plan.
“Please,” says Bib, “can I have a story? The one about dragons.”

And so begins the heartwarming tale of a dragon in need of an egg and an abandoned egg in need of a mummy. It seems like the perfect fit, but what happens when that egg hatches and the little baby doesn’t look like all the other dragons (in fact, he looks remarkably like a penguin)? Of course, his mummy loves him no matter what. But the other babies aren’t so sure. Little do they know that being different can be good and soon their little feathered friend is saving the day.

If you’ve read any of Debi Gliori’s books before, you will immediately recognise her voice and style running through this. I hadn’t paid much attention to the fact the she was the author, until I’d read it, and it gave me that warm, cuddly feeling that put me in mind of No Matter What and Stormy Weather, and then I realised that it was another of her books!

As always, the illustrations are beautiful and sweet…

dragon loves penguin 1

dragon loves penguin 2

Boo enjoys this book, so much so that she chose it as one of only two she took on our recent weekend away. With love, acceptance and resilience at it’s heart, it’s a story of the very best type of mothers, and childhoods to be proud of. And I do love that little penguin…!

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for sending us a copy to review.

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