family

I'm not the only one, am I? Who cooks dinner on a two-weekly rotation? I'm not a confident cook. I make nice dinners, but there isn't a huge amount of variety. I feel uncomfortable trying new recipes. And even if you have everything you need, it is always tougher and takes longer than expected. Recently, in an effort to add variety to our family dinners, I have been trying out the Hello Fresh family meals. And I wanted to share how we got on.

Husband and I are acually already big fans of Hello Fresh. We normally get a box every other week. Husband loves cooking but gets stuck for ideas. The weekdays are so busy, that it feels easier to cook the same things over and over. But I want my children to try new things and to expand their tastes. So I'm trying to be more adventurous. And that's where the Hello Fresh family box comes in.

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After about six weeks of anticipation, Halloween came and went in a flash. Moozles went as a skeleton bride and Dubz was an evil jester. The kids had a great time picking out their costumes (which I got from Sainsburys during their 25% off deal, as usual). And they enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood looking spooky. I love how you see lots of lovely decorations and so many friendly faces. Halloween feels like such a community event when you're a parent.

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Ever since I was diagnosed with a severe Vitamin D deficiency two years ago, I have been extra vigilant about my children taking their vitamins. While a healthy diet is important, a multivitamin offers protection in getting any vitamins or minerals that are missed. And a vitamin with added Vitamin D and Calcium is essential to children and adults. That's why Bassetts Vitamins are encouraging families to take their vitamins so they can stay healthy and get outside this autumn and winter. They want us to have fun and enjoy #nodulldays.

The Department of Health recommends that everyone should be taking a supplement that has 10 micrograms of Vitamin D (during autumn and winter). The best way to get Vitamind D is through lovely sunshine. But did you know that in the UK, we are unable to make Vitamind D from the sun from October to March? And since Calcium and Vitamind D are important for healthy teeth and bones, you need a supplement.

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Everyone knows how Americans love Halloween. Besides the dressing up and trick-or-treating, we go crazy for pumpkins. And not just buying our pumpkins at the local Tesco, but going to a pumpkin patch. Sadly, the UK is a bit behind on the pumpkin patch bandwagon. It has improved in the last five years, but it still has a ways to go.

Today we visited Garsons Farm in Esher. It is an amazing pick-your-own farm, and we normally visit twice a year (in the summer for various fruit and vegetables and in October for a pumpkin). We normally visit a week before Halloween rather than just two days before. There wasn't a huge array of pumpkins today but we found one good one in the field. There were loads of lovely pumpkins in the shop so we got one and some ornamental gourds.

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All parents care about keeping their families safe. But it can be so tough figuring out how to do that, that sometimes nothing is done. This was the case for us for many years. We locked the door and hoped for the best. But four years ago, after spending a couple of nights at my in-laws', we returned home to find that our home had been burgled. I cannot describe how scary and uneasy we felt. Even though the burglars were long gone, the safety of our home had been destroyed.

After the burglary, I had nightmares for months. My home no longer felt safe. Every time we went away, I would wonder if the house had been burgled again. Luckily the children were small at the time and had no idea what happened. Husband and I discussed what to do but were never able to agree on how to best keep our home safe and secure. When Maplin sent me the Arlo Pro 1 Wire-Free HD Security System, I had a feeling that this would be the solution we had been needing.

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I can't believe that four years ago I threw caution to the wind and started a blog. I actually spent a few days deciding upon a name, but on the 20th October 2013, I published my first post. I wasn't sure how to introduce myself or my blog, so I just rambled on as per usual. Not much has changed.

I remember being equally scared that no one would read the blog and that people would actually read it. It's a funny thing, putting your heart and mind out into the world. In one way, you want to share your thoughts. Perhaps someone, somewhere, feels alone. Perhaps someone needs a laugh. Maybe you want to share your adventures. Perhaps someone wants ideas for a fun outing or a family-friendly restaurant.

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A couple of weeks ago, we were surprised with a sunny, warm weekend day. We were determined to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. We remembered that a few months ago we had gotten a family membership to the Historic Royal Palaces. We had only used it once so decided to visit Hampton Court Palace again.

If you're not familiar with Hampton Court Palace, it is the former residence of Henry VIII. It is incredibly beautiful and grand. But if you have young children, you may want to skip the palace itself and just enjoy the stunning grounds. We did go inside the palace, but only for about 20 minutes. The sunshine was calling us.

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Who hasn't heard of the famous, and very wealthy, Phileas Fogg and his plan to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days?! Jules Verne's acclaimed novel was written over 100 years ago, and is just as exciting today. Around The World In Eighty Days is brought to life (and adapted) by Laura Eason and is currently touring the UK in a live show.

The show starts off in Victorian London and follows Pileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout as they try to travel around the world within 80 days to win a bet. There are eight actors who play over 125 characters and they transport the audience on exciting adventures as they travel on trains, boats and even on a elephant.

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I don't want my children to become slaves to technology. There's nothing like an old-fashioned pen and paper. But then again, I am raising modern kids, and modern kids love electronics. So when the lovely folks from Leapfrog offered us the LeapStart system, I was intrigued. I'm always interested in ways to foster my children's love of learning.

Dubz loves school. He loves learning to read and write, though it is not something that comes easily to him. But he is always happy to give it his best. Long-term readers might remember that Dubz had speech and language delays due to glue ear, which means that he's only been speaking for about two years. Dubz will be five an a half next month, and I really wanted to give him a little help with his reading.

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While our family outings are normally in London and Surrey, sometimes we go farther afield. Last month we ventured to Oxfordshire to visit Blenheim Palace. Not only is it the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is truly magnificent.

When you drive into Blenheim Palace, you can't help but feel awe of this fantastic palace and the lake and grounds. And when you enter the palace grounds, this feeling does not go away. As an American, I did not grow up visiting palaces and stately homes. And to be honest, my children are probably not that impressed since we have visited so many. But I can't help but be dazzled by beautiful architecture and landscaped gardens. It is a glimpse of a decadent time.

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