Saturday, 17 August 2013

Exploring Hatfield Park Farm & Play Area

We visited Hatfield Park Farm recently which is located in the grounds of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.  It is a wonderful place to take children of all ages to see the different breeds of sheep, ducks, geese, pigs, cattle, turkeys, chickens and donkeys that they have on the farm.  They also have a beautiful playground area.

Entrance was reasonable at £4.50 each per adult and £2.00 for a child ticket (0-3 go free) and for 50p you can buy one bag of feed to give to the different animals.  The animals are friendly and you can feed them at the various designated feeding points.  I would recommend getting at least two bags of feed or at least one per child as it's hard not to feed every animal you see as they come running to the feed stations as you get closer to them.

There are about four sandpits darted around the farm where the kids (and, um, adults) can play in the sand and use the toy cranes to move the sand around and build sandcastles.  This was a big hit with my little one!

When my daughter went to the farm a few months back there were four piglets which are now much bigger so it was lovely for her to see them grow into big piggies.
At the entrance to the farm there is a beautiful play and family picnic area called "Bloody Hollow" which costs £1 per child with an accompanying adult who goes free.  The jungle gym that they have is a model of Hatfield House where the kids can climb up ladders, slide down the slide and run around on the top level.

There were quite a few friends and families having picnics and birthday parties around the area as it really is beautiful and the children are kept entertained in a safe and secure environment which I love.
For those of you who love a bit of history, you can buy separate tickets to get access to Hatfield House itself which is breathtaking.  I've only been once but would love to go again as it is truly amazing inside

Alison x

Saturday is Caption Day

Wow!  I haven't done one of these in ages so I thought it was about time that I did!

Leave a caption for the photo below.  It's not really one of the funniest ones of the week but it is one of my favourites.

Alison x

1. Look at the picture.  
2. Have a think.  
3. Leave a creative caption!



Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review: Huggies DryNites Bed Mats


Potty training.  Some kids take to it like ducks to water.  Others, not so much.  Being strong willed, my daughter more or less trained herself from the age of two and only had a few accidents and thankfully left me no surprises.

She is now three and wanting to get out of her night time nappies.  This means that I need to get myself organised just in case there are any accidents at night, so with one sheet on the bed and two clean ones in the cupboard, I feel pretty much sorted on that front but the key thing is to have something to stop little night time accidents from soaking through to the mattress.

That is where Huggies DryNites Bed Mats come in.  We were sent a pack to sample and so far they have worked amazingly.

The mats are highly absorbent with a waterproof backing and very easy to stick down to the mattress.  Simply peel off the adhesive backing on the four corners (I do one at a time) and then stick into place on your child's mattress over the area that they are most likely to wet the bed.  If you get it wrong the first time, you can simply lift and replace in the correct position.

They are easy to remove and do not leave the mattress sticky where the adhesive tabs were placed.  You also don't get that funny crunching sound as you roll over it, so your little one will barely know it's there even while they sleep.

They are very absorbent but because she is physically wet, she will still wake up in when she has had an accident so we can change her bedding which literally takes a matter of minutes; stripping the bedding, taking of the bed mat, replacing it with a new one and putting on a clean sheet.  She has had four dry nights now out of seven which makes a huge difference compared to when we first started a few months ago and had a full week of bed wetting, at which point she actually asked to go back into her nappies.

I feel that these sheets have given her more confidence and that they are really helping to encourage her to get dry at night in her own time.  These may not be the cheapest solution if your child regularly wets the bed as the RRP is £5.89 for 7 bed mats but to be honest, if your child only wets the bed every other night, they will last for two weeks and cost you roughly the same as a pack of night time nappies.  I prefer these to waterproof sheets as there is less washing to do, you don't have to wait for them to dry and they can fit any size bed, so you can take them to grandparents homes, on holiday, or into your bed if need be.

The DryNites website has some excellent hints and tips on how to get your child through the bed wetting stage with minimal fuss and maximum encouragement.  You can claim a free sample too and test them out for yourself.  The bed mats are available at most major retailers such as Asda, Mothercare, Tesco, Sainsburys, Boots and are also available to buy through selected online retailers.

Alison x

Note: I was sent a pack of Huggies DryNites to sample and put through their paces.  All views are my own and not bias.

Life is too short to sweat the small stuff...

It has taken me many years to realise that life really is too short to worry about the small things.  Things that are out of your control or something that won't happen for a while, that really isn't even worth thinking about, is pointless worrying about.  That said, when other people are petty about things that directly relate to me, it makes me just slightly irritated.

We currently have a communal garden area and with that living arrangement comes a Residents Committee.  When I think of Residents Committee's, visions of pensioners or people who have nothing better to do with their time other than restrict others by enforcing ridiculous and antiquated rules or simply being petty, come to mind.   That is more or less the case here.  You can clearly see I have a bit of a rebellious side here that just wants to shout "No, damn the man! We will not stand for this!".

So, after receiving a letter from the company that 'manages' the maisonettes asking for all toys (there are probably about 3 or 4 paddling pools/blow up toys) to be packed away each and every night and on days when the gardener was around, it made me giggle.

I can understand moving things out of the way for the gardener to mow the lawn, but honestly, packing things away on the other nights, that are hardly an eye sore, is a bit petty.  We have summer for what, a whole month or month and half??  In a day and age where people should encourage children to be active and play outdoors, do these people honestly have sleepless nights worrying about the few scatterings of toys left out over night?

If I packed my one toy away (the other is a swing) then the kids that are home in the afternoon would never be able to use it because I leave at about 8.30 a.m. and only get home at about 7 p.m.  It's the kids that suffer really.  It reminds me of the quote by Queen Victoria that "little children should be seen and not heard".  Get with the times people.

Anyway, that all aside, what does worry me the most out of all of this is the hours that people have spent fretting about this and watching the children play.  Makes me feel a bit creepy to be honest.  Maybe they should be locked away during the daytime!  Wonder how the 'Committee' would react to me suggesting that to them?

A x

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review and competition: Nonabox - the UK's first subscription gift box for pregnancy and new parents


Nonabox is a fabulous new subscription service which delivers a beautiful box of luxury, personalised products for mother and baby, suitable for pregnancy and the first two years of a baby’s life, sent direct to your door.

Each box is filled with hand selected products from some of the UK’s best brands with each Nonabox tailored to different stages of a baby’s development.  Whether you’re in your second trimester and thinking about massage oils and newborn essentials or have an active one year old which needs entertaining and feeding, Nonabox has it all planned out. 

Nonabox launched one year ago in Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria and is already a hit with over 200,000 mums.  An ever-expanding list of over 1,000 UK's mums are looking forward UK Nonabox launch and to the arrival of their first purple and grey ribbon tied box. 

Containing between 7 and 10 products each Nonabox allows mum to discover product gems which are the perfect accompaniment to bringing up a baby.


The particular box that I received was for mum’s in their second trimester.  As I pulled back the grey ribbon I was giddy with anticipation of what I was about to discover in my Nonabox.  The pack focused on keeping mom feeling pretty and pampered while she was pregnant, preparing her for the birth and for afterwards, too.  


Receiving a box like this is wonderful as it exposes you to new brands and products that you may otherwise not have thought about trying.  I never used perineum massage oil but will most definitely be using it second time round, that’s for sure!

A few brands that have been included in previous boxes include Aden + Anais, Chicco, Cuini, Limo Basics, Normandie, Tommy Tippee, Pasito a Pasito and Weleda.
Making a great gift for family and friends each Nonabox is worth around £70 but is only £25 for a monthly subscription, which includes postage and package. Throughout the year Nonabox will create special themed boxes, for example, a box to celebrate the royal birth and a festive Christmas one.
The box itself is beautiful and strong too so can be kept for pregnancy and baby keepsakes, as a memory box as your child grows older or as a small toy storage box.  Basically whatever takes your fancy and it's a wonderful way to remind you of each stage of your child's development from your second trimester to two years old.
For those inquisitive souls, 'Nona' is the Roman goddess of pregnancy or one of the three Moirai in Greek mythology.  Together with Decima (goddess of childbirth) and Morta (goddess of death) controls the thread of life.

All-in-One Mum has one beautiful Nonabox to give away to one lucky reader, thanks to the wonderful Nonabox team.  The winner can pick any box that they like, from the second trimester right through to the second year of their child’s life.  Use the rafflecopter below to enter now.  All entrants must subscribe to the Nonabox newsletter.

Good luck!

Alison x

Sign up at  www.nonabox.co.uk and receive a 20% discount  off your first box.


Note: I was sent a 2nd trimester Nonabox free of charge to review and share my findings with my readers.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Guest post: How to keep your children learning and discovering during their summer holidays

School is out, but does education have to stop? No! Children may have homework for the summer, but education isn’t just words and numbers on paper. You can support your child’s education in new ways that mean they are learning without even realising it.

One of the best ways to embrace an educational opportunity is to attend a special event at a place of interest. Roman ruins are a great place to start. Vindolanda, in the North East, often has dress-up and a wide range of fun games and activities, which mean the children get to wear costumes and play, while learning about what life was like all those years ago. Other places which may run similar events include castles such as Alnwick Castle, which played a huge role as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.

Another fantastic venue for summer holiday adventures is the Zoo. If you check out your zoo’s website, you will be able to find out information about talks and exhibitions, as well as feeding displays. Edinburgh Zoo has a Sea Lion display where the Sea Lion performs several tricks, as well as takes his food. A zookeeper also talks through the animal’s habits and other quirks. Animals are a part of our world and your child is guaranteed to come home with some fabulous fun facts.

Fancy a free day out? Go rockpooling at the beach! Have a look online for information sheets that detail or outline some of the exciting wildlife you might find there, and head to the beach with some little fishing nets and spend the day observing the creatures of the sea in their natural habitat. Just make sure to check when the tide will be out. Go when the tide is in, and there might not be much to look at!

At home, there are so many things you can do to explore. For all children, painting and drawing is a lot of fun, so whip out the easel and set them away. Small children might just make splodges with finger paint, but an older child might get more out of trying to recreate something from nature or true life. This encourages attention to detail and allows them to safely venture into their creative mind.

Educational toys are a perfect technique when it comes to getting children to learn sneakily while playing. Jigsaws, puzzles, ‘grow-your-own’ experiments, crafting kits and toys that encourage your child to interact are ideal. Choose items that appeal to your child’s interests, but don’t be scared of throwing in a few new ideas to broaden their hobbies and interests.

As you can see, there are unlimited ways to get your child learning and exploring despite being away from school or nursery. Look online or in local papers to find out if there are any exciting activities in your area to do, but don’t be afraid of a day in the house playing ‘make-and-do’.

About the Author

This article was written on behalf of Galt Toys. Galt Toys have been manufacturing toys for over 175 years, and know a thing or two about toys…and having fun!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Mystery baskets...come to me!

I've been quite lucky lately with my blog, receiving foodie things to sample and review.  Yes, getting free things is nice and I do love doing reviews.  I'm a bit strange in that sometimes, even though I know it's a bit of exploitation of blogger's (although we agree to it) as journo's could be paid big bucks for doing things like this in the past, I'm happy to do it.

I like promoting brands and products that I love or feel strongly about.  For those of you who knew me before my blogging days, I'd regularly endorse products purely because I felt people should know about them and use them too.  Yes, I am strange.

Anyway, getting back to the foodie bit.  I'm a trained chef.  Worked as a chef for about five years in various places but then decided that the hours and pay were crap.  That's the only way I can put it.   Unless you have our own business or are a celebrity chef, it's crazy.  I still work long hours because that's all I know.  I love the hospitality industry, don't get me wrong, but honestly, these people are paid peanuts for the long hours worked and ridiculous abuse from patrons.

Still, I'm digressing.  The point of all of this is that I still get cold shivers down my spine at the thought of a mystery basket. What is a mystery basket, you ask?  Well, it's a magical basket of ingredients; a combination of ingredients that you have never seen before that day that you suddenly have 10 to 15 minutes (longer, if you are lucky) to conjure up a meal in your head and just go for it.   I love pressure.  I thrive on it.    It drives me, and as my mind digs deep into the vast selection of recipes and food combinations that are stored in my mind, I can almost smell and taste my creation before I've started, seeing it laid out on the plate.  You see, I told you I was strange.  Well, some people call it passion I guess?

So, watch this space.  I've recently been sent a few herbs, spices and flavour mixes to create a few tasty dishes.  I'm back in my element now and feel a bit unstoppable!  I never realised just how much I miss being a chef...

Alison x

Which method do you use?


Since getting married, buying a home, getting a cat and then having a baby, I have become more domesticated.  I get excited about new washing machines and their various spin speeds and cycles.  I know how to clean most stains from various materials.  I am no longer bothered about the chore that is hand washing, and most importantly, I take care in what cleaning products I use in my home.

I've recently discovered method; a non-toxic design led cleaning brand that have beautiful products that can be used around the home to combat dirt.  They are really unique due to their emphasis on design with the various products coming in very eye catching colours and being attractively packaged so they look gorgeous around your home.  Functional and fabulous as I like to say.

A bit of a history lesson...
Founded in 2000, method is the pioneer of planet-friendly and design-driven home, laundry and hand wash products.  Formulated with naturally derived, biodegradable ingredients, method cleaners put the hurt on dirt without doing harm to people, creatures or the planet.  method can be found in more than 40,000 retail locations throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia and over 4,000 in the UK.   And now you know.

It's safe!
method is safe to use around children and pets and surfaces cleaned with method, including high chairs and bathtubs.  You can rest happy knowing that children won't be harmed by coming into contact with the products and they also do not leave behind any toxic or harmful fumes/residues.  Well, maybe the kids do, but that's why you have method to deal with those type of situations!

Smelling fresh as a daisy
All method fragrances are free from nasty allergens and toxins.  method hand wash comes in an array of gorgeous fragrances and colours to suit you and your lifestyle.  Love!

All-in-One Mum product testing
On this occasion I've sampled the clementine daily kitchen spray, pink grapefruit multi surface spray as well as the french lavender and waterfall hand wash gels.  

My verdict on the sprays
I love the 'power' behind the nozzle.  Is that a strange thing to say?  With just a gentle pull back on the trigger, the spray squirts out powerfully over the surface that needs cleaning without having to pump it a number of times to get the desired spray effect.   Wipe straight away and it's clean.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!   

As method pay attention to the fragrance of their products I was sceptical as to whether they would be overpowering or not, but to be honest, they are delicious!  No chemical smell that you usually get from other products and my nose hairs weren't stinging either.  The gentle wafts of clementine and grapefruit were just delightful.  Perfect.  

The fact that they come in such beautiful scents means I can satisfy my crazy side and use different scents at different times of day, making and keeping me happy.  I'm a simple soul.  Both the multi surface spray and daily kitchen cleaner are made from plant-based products and bio-degradable ingredients that will break down safely in the environment.   

RRP £3.00 for 828ml bottle of multi surface spray and daily kitchen spray.

My verdict on the hand wash gels 
My hands were left clean without my skin being left with that dried out feeling.  I hate washing my hands and then being left with that squeeky, dirty, feeling and then needing to smother them in hand cream and this was definitely not the case with this wonderful hand wash gel.  method don't use parabens in their hand wash gels.  

Smelling good enough to eat, I actually looked forward to the next time I needed to wash my hands.  I almost looked forward to having dirty hands again.  They look fab in both your kitchen and bathroom.   You could use them at work too, if you have a kind boss?  

RRP £2.49 for a 354ml bottle of hand wash gel. 

Most important and the best point of all....

They work!  Hooray!  All method cleaners use powerful formula's made with naturally derived surfactants that work by dissolving and removing dirt.  Their team of green chefs (aka formulation chemists and product designers), ensure that their products are not only highly innovative, but also highly effective.

Their greenskeeping team rigorously assesses every ingredient used, so you can be completely sure of its safety. Basically, that's why method's entire product line is both people- and pet-friendly, specially formulated to put the hurt on dirt without harming a hair on you or your loved ones' heads.  

They also used recycled plastic, are vegan and cruelty free.  I like this and I'm sure you do too.

I found this fun You Tube clip on the method Facebook page which sums up who they are and what they stand for.  


Saying that it's life changing would be a bit dramatic but it's enough to make me rethink all the cleaning agents I have in my house and change everything to method.  Having a child, fur-child and husband, I want what is best for them.  The gorgeous packaging isn't half bad either.  

Where to buy
method is available at major supermarkets - Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, B&Q, Homebase, Ocado.com, Co-op and many small independents and fairly big ones like Whole Foods, or online at  www.methodproducts.co.uk

Also...

if you buy these products you'll join the ranks of these other method lovers: Stella McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt, Laura Bailey, Lauren Bush, Donna Air, Rachel Bilson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kirsty Gallacher, Erin O’Connor and me, All-in-One Mum!

Alison xx

Find out more about the method range here www.methodproducts.co.uk.

twitter: https://twitter.com/methoduk

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/methoduk

Note:  I was sent these products to use and review in my leisure.  All views are completely my own and not bias.

My latest mini project: renovations, decorations and DIY!

I’m quite happy to admit that I am one of those (sad) people that loves and is slightly addicted to Pinterest.  I am also ever so slightly fond of scrolling through the latest Ikea catalogue on my iPad or trawling through the website, going through the various room ideas and then pinning them to my Pinterest boards.  Liking, wanting, pinning.  Liking, wanting, pinning.  It’s addictive.

My latest mini project is to get my bedroom split in two by partitioning it bang down the centre, subsequently creating an extra bedroom for my yet to be conceived, second child.  This has opened up an entire Pandora’s box with regards to design ideas for my daughter’s new ‘big girl’ room, the new nursery and then the room for myself and my husband; a place where we can retreat to when both children drive us nuts.

As I scroll through various pins and web pages, my mind works at a million miles per hour.  What colour scheme?  What design style?  What paint colour for the walls?  Carpets?  Wooden floor?  Chandelier lamps vs. something more modern?  Thank goodness I’ve pinned everything that I did like, with the basis of my inspiration coming from Ikea.  I like clean lines and the Ikea style blends well with my personal ideals and style ideas.  It just works and I love the vibrancy of the colours and simplicity of the designs.

I was pointed in the direction of a funny You Tube clip about an Ikea character called Mandy and her son Luke.  It’s a spoof of “my sweet 16” done ‘Ikea style’ and takes you on a walkthrough of her home. I wish my house was that clean but jokes aside, with a few simply items around the house, it can be tidy and organised, even with kids.  Hilarious, so I had to share it! 



Watch this space for All-in-One Mum design projects and hopefully 1 x new baby on the horizon.  Also, if you are half as random as I am, you can follow Mandy at her own Twitter page to see how she is getting on, with life, and things like that.  Ha ha, ha ha ha!

Alison x



Note: This post was written in collaboration with Ikea but all views are completely my own.  I am truly fond of using both Pinterest and Ikea, on a regular basis, and am currently about to do renovations and a mini-home makeover. 
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