Wednesday 31 October 2012

Frightfully Frugal Party

Today we had a birthday party for the Big One. He is 8 on Friday. I still blame the fireworks and trick or treaters for my waters breaking! But I digress.

Somehow, rather by accident than careful planning, we managed to give him a frightfully (Halloween themed) frugal birthday party. Not that I am complaining. All the more pennies for keeping my wine level stable.

We decided to hold his birthday party in a local wood, The Spinney, which with lottery funding and continued donations, has been turned into 5.5 acres of woodland adventure park. It is easily big enough to contain and entertain 24 children to the point of exhaustion. The only disadvantages are connected to our climate and a birthday in late Autumn. But, a wood in Autumn is pretty fantastic and even if it did rain (for a little while) the kids didn't care and parents were cosy in a shelter.

Cost of venue: a donation to keep this community project going.

I made up a treasure hunt game where the kids had to find letters I had hidden around the wood to spell out a word.

Cost: 10p for card to write letters on. An hour of my time to draw treasure maps.

I cooked sausages at home, bought rolls and ketchup, bought crisps and decorated oranges for our picnic in the woods. They demolished the lot. I also asked parents to bring flasks of hot water so we could all have hot chocolate, tea and coffee to keep warm.

Cost: £13 for the food.

I boiled a couple of eggs, peeled them and coloured them to look like eyeballs.  We then played an eyeball and spoon relay race over a wobbly bridge and through a ditch.

Cost: 2 eggs so about 50p

I was instructed by the birthday boy, to make a cake to resemble a pumpkin. I did as I was instructed and believe I achieved a passing resemblance.

Cost: About £7 in ingredients plus £1 for the marvelous plastic spiders, cockroaches and bats.

I then made some party favours, inspired by a photo I found on the interwebulator. Lollipop ghosts.

Cost: £2.49. £1 for a bag of lollies and £1.49 for googly eyes. I had the fabric and wool already.

Looking at the faces of everyone, and the muddy knees and sticky fingers, I think it was a success which just confirms my belief that you really don't need to spend a fortune on a birthday party.

Now what is frightful is the blatant drive-by trick or treating, but that is another blog spot.

Right, I need a well earned drink.

Joining in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Tuesday 30 October 2012

I'd Rather - 365project Week 43

I'd rather be out with my camera than stuck at home cleaning and cooking.

Five Go Blogging 365project Week 43

I'd rather peek at you than sing with you.
I'd rather it was sunny than misty.
I'd rather swing than slide.
I'd rather reuse fabric scraps than throw them away.
I'd rather see a beach full of stones than a couple on my windowsill.
I'd rather create art with buttons than sew them on a shirt.
I'd rather play with the mist spray than do the shopping.

What would you rather?

I missed joining in with The Boy and Me this week but please pop over to see the other 365project bloggers and their photos.

You can also see my photos in all their glory on the 365project site.
TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Monday 29 October 2012


It was a dark dark night. Lit only by the glow of the computer screen, they ooh'd and ahhh'd over Asda's awesome range of fancy dress costumes, screaming excitedly about how to scare everyone in the street on Halloween.

They haunted the letterbox day and night, terrorising the postman by snatching every piece of junk mail that dared peep through, until a loud piercing 'DING DONG' rang out through the house. The Postman handed over a mysterious parcel that made no sound when shaken vigorously, except a slightly eerie crinkling which could have been the ghost of Halloween past.

Furiously shredding the packaging as they went, they wrestled the parcel to the ground to discover a decimated Skeleton and Witch, previously sat upon by a giant Troll. Eager to breathe life back into the costumes, they filled them with their own bodies. Within seconds the Skeleton was daring the witch to a fright off!

Asda Skeleton Costume

Asda Skeleton Costume

Asda Witch Costume

Asda Witch Costume

But that was not the end of the story. You cannot call a witch a witch until she is suitably adorned with a cobweb or two, or a skeleton a skeleton without bony white hands. Fortunately, a amicable parent was on hand to facilitate the final transformation.

Asda Face Paints

Asda hand paints

Meanwhile, not to be left out a slightly less terrifying Lion emerged from the body of a toddler.

Asda Face Paints

When the haunting was over and the Skeleton, Witch and Lion retired to haunt another house, a boy wrote a story ...

A skeleton kept scaring the children away
A skeleton kept scaring the children away.

Day and day the skeleton frightened children, hour by hour
Day and day the skeleton frightened children, hour by hour

Soon the skeleton woke up to a day when children weren't children, They were ghosts.
Soon the skeleton woke up to a day when children weren't children, They were ghosts.

He ran and ran until he came to this house.
He ran and ran until he came to this house.

It wasn't an ordinary house. It was a skeleton house. He hated it and he promised he wouldn't scare children again.
It wasn't an ordinary house. It was a skeleton house. He hated it and he promised he wouldn't scare children again.
  ...and a girl and a toddler coloured and scribbled like they were possessed.

Crayola colouring frenzy

Do you think I have a budding children's horror author on my hands? Do show your appreciation for this newly discovered talent and leave him a comment. It will make his Halloween! Thank you x

Disclosure: Asda very kindly provided the skeleton and witch costumes, face paints and a Crayola colouring set for us to review.

Friday 26 October 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

And what Caption Day wouldn't be complete without a child doing something mildly amusing only to be made completely hilarious just by the addition of a witty caption supplied by you.

On your marks, get set, CAPTION!

For more frivolous funnies, Mammasaurus is where it's at.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Bookaholics Anonymous

Hello. My name is Alison and I am a bookaholic. But I don't want help. At least not in the sense of wanting to break the habit. What I do need help with is finding an extra hour in the day please. *looks around hopefully*. Right then.

I have a stack, about 3ft tall, of books competing with each other to be my next book. Then I happen to glance at the books in the charity shop, or the window of WHSmith, or read the culture section and my stack grows by an inch or two, thereby nudging the top contender down the pile again while I get my fix of my latest book crush.

Not only do I have a 3ft(ish) stack of books to read, but I also have a kindle. In my kindle, nestling in it's hard drive, is another virtual stack of books sitting patiently, waiting for the moment I click on them and get drawn into their world. This stack is probably only a virtual 12 inches tall but the fight for attention is just as vicious.

And now I have children who also appreciate the virtues of the printed page. Or am I projecting my addiction onto them? Possibly. I buy them books too.

Vintage Thomas The Tank Engine Books

This collection was a charity shop find. Fortunately the Wee One loves Thomas so I was absolutely justified in spending £1.20 on this classic vintage collection and it was genuinely for him and not at all to satisfy my addiction within an addiction, for classic hard back Ladybird books.

Remember that hour I said I needed to find? I think I need to find an extra half hour on top of that to read to the Wee One too.

So where exactly is this time to be found?

*reads a book on time management*

Joining in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Sunday 21 October 2012

365project Week 42

We've had a quiet week here at FiveGoBlogging Towers.
At first there was a slight ringing in the ears courtesy of The Detonators last Saturday night but as the week progressed I regained my sense of hearing and picked up on a few sounds.

Five Go Blogging 365project week 42

The sound of the Princess hissing 'yessssss' as she fist pumps, celebrating her success at balancing.
The tweet of birds, or was that screech of iron gates.
The pat pat pat of soft rain on fragile leaves.
The delicate bristling of a dried Alium cartwheeling.
The squeak of wet wellies on a slide.
The sigh of wool along a crochet needle, and the ensuing muttering of a dropped stitch.
The smacking of chocolately lips.

I hope your week has been as quiet* as mine.

*If it is possible to be quiet with three children in the house

Joining in with The Boy and Me.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

The Spinney

Saturday 20 October 2012

Saturday is Caption day

I was so tempted to post a picture of me in lycra (not), but I resisted and instead you have this one. Taken last weekend in Burghley Park.

Make of that what you will!

For more frivolous funnies, Mammasaurus is where it's at.

Thursday 18 October 2012

The Shreddies

No this is not a shameless plug for a well known brand of cereal (other cereal brands are available).
This is where I get on the scales and dust off the tape measure to see how my 30 Day Shred programme is working out.

For anyone who hasn't heard of it, the programme was devised by Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame, where you workout for 20 minutes a day for 30 days to lose up to 20lbs (combined with a healthy diet *cough*).

I started my *dons a cheesy American accent* journey 7 days ago. I missed one day due to dancing like a loon to a local band (but seeing as it counts as exercise I'm bagging those calories burned) but otherwise I've stuck to it. And now there is a lovely support group on twitter comprising of:


I HAVE to stick with it or else feel the shame of my shreddie buddies!

So here are the results from my first week!

weightloss chart

Note the absence of labels on the left hand scales. No this is not cheating. I just have no desire to tell the world the how heavy I am or how rotund! For my weight I have lost 1.5kg this week. When the line hits the bottom of that scale then I have hit my target and I have given myself to Christmas to do it. Yes, this is more than 30 days but I can still keep up the good work.

I have measured myself almost all over and so far I haven't found where those 1.5kg have come off. No change in my rotundness that I can fathom!

I bet you can't wait for my next instalment now. I know, 6 days to wait!

In the meantime GO SHREDDIES!

Wednesday 17 October 2012


This is me, more than 40 years ago pushing a pram.

Pushing a pram, c1969

Today, like most days, I was pushing a pram. This time with my own child in it.

It's a cliche I know but where the bloody hell did those 40-something years go? I only feel, ooh let's say, 25.

I don't feel old enough to be responsible for the welfare of three children who look to me for guidance, support, comfort and food. I may creak a bit more; I may need glasses to read small print; I may need anti-wrinkle cream; I may need caffeine in the mornings. But I don't feel as old as I am.

Is this normal? At what point do you feel your age (perhaps with the exception of immediately after my workout today)? Should I have done more, achieved more, seen more by now? Is that why I don't believe I can possibly be 40-something? Should I be more successful, with a more expensive handbag and shoes? Maybe.

Should I be happy that my children are thriving? Should I be grateful everyday for the love of my husband? Should I go out there and grab life with both hands and enjoy the ride? Should I stop worrying about my age?


Joining in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

365project Week 41

I went searching for colour this week.

Five Go Blogging 365project week 41

The leaves may no longer be green but we injected a little grass green shades into a work of art/messy paint play project.
The once vibrant yellow sunflowers are wilting but revealing the beautiful patterns of their seeds.
Red telephone boxes and post boxes against the pale sandstone of Stamford.
Green, orange and yellow autumn bounty in their crates looked plastic perfect.
Brilliant yellow leaves against a blue sky cheered me through the cold wind.
The reds of the foalen leaves matched the Wee One's coat perfectly.
And a colourful saturday night dancing/moshing to a local band called The Detonators.

Have I mentioned that I love Autumn? ;-)

I am too late to join in with The Boy and Me but do pop over and have a look at how some others have photographed their weeks.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Monday 15 October 2012


Too fast, a blur
Too slow, a wobble
Too cool
Too funny
Too. Much. Fun.

This is what we got up to yesterday afternoon on Lion's Bridge in Burghley Park.
We were laughing so loud, that Mrs Miranda Rock, owner of Burghley House, and family popped out to see what we were up to. (She did pop out. And nipped across the bridge. But I doubt our shrieks of laughter reached the East wing).

Five Go Scooting

Saturday 13 October 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

In the week when I start an exercise program and a diet, I buy the kids cakes.
I am mad.
It was pure torture. Right up to the bit when all the icing had been licked off and the cake was deemed to be yuk and left abandoned on the plate. Right there in front of me. I swear it was winking at me.
He was right though. The cake was a bit yuk.

Ice cream cupcake

Got a caption for this photo? Then please relieve yourself of it in my comments box.

You may now proceed in an orderly manner in the direction of Mammasaurus.

Thursday 11 October 2012

The Dos and Don'ts of the 30 Day Shred

scales and tape measure

Much like Stressy Mummy, I have joined the bandwagon, the one where you insert a DVD and then vomit, also known as 30 Day Shred.

This, after precisely one day of shredding, is what I have learned.

  • DO NOT attempt to undertake any form of exercise with a child at home. They will either laugh at you, insist on being picked up, or scream demanding Thomas on the telly. Any of these situations is somewhat off putting.
  • DO get prepared with hand weights before hitting the play button. Running into the kitchen and pulling cans onto your head looking for two equally sized tins of soup during the workout does not help to maintain momentum.
  • DO NOT attempt to empty the dishwasher immediately after your workout and place crockery into top cupboards. Weak arm wobble and a stack of plates above your head to not make best bedfellows.
  • DO ensure you are positioned an arms length away from hanging lampshades before attempting windmill arm exercises. Delicate, fragile light fittings may not withstand violent swatting by uncoordinated limbs.
  • DO NOT wear your everyday bra if more than an A cup whilst skipping/butt kicking/star jumping. You do not need to provide further ammunition for the children laughing at you from the sofa, or two black eyes.
  • DO leave at least one hour between eating and exercising. *boak*
  • DO NOT do this at night with the lights on and the curtains open. You are not a floor show.
  • DO use hand weights for the floor strength exercises, rather than a toddler. They are less likely to wriggle.
  • DO NOT take a before and after photo after one day of exercise. You will not have developed a six pack in 20 minutes. #impatient
  • DO stick with it and do it again tomorrow because it will make you feel better, fitter, and more deserving of a reward biscuit. What?
I have measured and weighed myself (no witnesses so you will have to take my word for it) and will chart my progress every 7 days.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

50 Shades of Yellow

I have a little talisman.

Baltic Amber Ring

It was bought in Poland when I lived there and I wore it on a silver chain around my neck for a few years. If it wasn't on my chain I had it in my pocket, or my purse. I am amazed I haven't lost it.

Even in the coldest of weather it still feels warm. I love the softness of it, the tactile curves of this piece of amber that has been made from many smaller pieces. It can be milky white or black and fifty shades of yellow in between.

When I got married I stopped carrying it around with me. I had no need for it, but I kept it tucked away in my jewellery box. I rediscovered it recently, picked it up and was reminded how much I loved holding it. I popped it into my pocket. I then found something I could use to attach it to my keyring so it is with me most of the time. I don't need a talisman at the moment but I am warmed by it's familiarity and colour.

My little piece of prehistoric sunshine.

Joining in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Sunday 7 October 2012

365Project Week 40

Week 40!
That makes my photography project officially middle aged.
Starting to show signs of wear and tear. A little creaky first thing in the morning and difficult to switch off in the evening. But definitely aging gracefully.

This week my project can be summed up in a linear fashion.

Five Go Blogging 365project week 40  

The cool graphics on the cafe window.
Long strips of iron, passionately woven into a striking gate, throwing shadows on the path.
The clever barista weaving trails of coffee though the foam.
The sharp knife cutting the veins into my pastry leaves.
Lessons in geometry to build a Lego pyramid.
How to get two swings to reach the top of their arc simultaneously, move to create the right angle where both are in shot, get two children to smile AND press the shutter at just the right moment.
And my good old fashioned king of rulers.

Time is a linear path and I am on the cusp of week 41 of 52. Follow my daily snapshots here.

Joining in with The Boy and Me.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

Burghley House