01 Mar

Project 365 – Week 9

Sunday 22nd February. As all good Brownies and Guides know, it’s Thinking Day. I got mixed up and thought H had a party, so I didn’t put us down for it, which is a shame as they had a lovely craft day – instead we had a lie-in and a fairly lazy day. I’ve been told that H’s school do an Easter Bonnet parade every year, so I made a start on hers with plenty of time as I usually leave these things until the last minute. I fully expect the parade not to happen, now I’ve actually started doing it.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 23rd February. Another week at work (which flew by, btw), I found two new Original Source types on my trip to Superdrug at Clapham Junction. I have always had this terrible addiction to things that smell a certain way. I also have a terrible addiction to buying anything Original Source put out if it’s vaguely quirky. Liquorice will do just nicely.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday 25th February. We were tired. H was super-tired and I was tired too. Swimming lessons were back on, and Swimmy came with us too for one last photo (hurrah!).


Wednesday 26th February. This ended up being an exhaustingly horrible day. H came home from school, her mouth clamped shut. Her latest wobbly tooth was at the point of no return, but she was terrified it would hurt, so refused to open her mouth or talk to me for an hour. Cue me going from concerned parent to extremely worried parent, and back to “what do I do now?!” parent. She wouldn’t eat anything, hadn’t eaten most of her school lunch and was shattered thanks to having no food. In the end I cuddled her until she fell asleep and pulled the damn tooth out myself – it took a milisecond, it was about to come out anyway. When she woke up I showed her the tooth, and we celebrated by being able to talk again. She was rewarded with a Princess DisGrace book by Lou Kuenzler. On my to-do list is a list of books she’s enjoying as she’s moving more into longer paperbacks, which we’ve found suitable for a five year old.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 26th February. My late day at work – but also the day I have a lunch break. I popped into Tiger Stores to add more bits to H’s Easter Bonnet. At first I thought about having the little eggs hanging down from the middle grass basket, but after thinking about it, we should celebrate her Australian side and have them hanging down from the bottom of the bonnet. H thinks this is brilliant too. Phew.


A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 27th February. The sun came out! Now I’m not one for avoiding going outdoors, but with my back and all the aches and pains I tend to keep myself warm. Having said that, it was 8 or 9 degrees and sunny, and we all need some Vitamin D, so I got the outdoor chalks out (the Hungry Caterpillar ones we were sent to review), and drew a windy road around our back yard. The sun wasn’t out for long, but long enough to have a play, and for H to sit on it and get blue lines all over her clothes! Anyway, I chased her around the yard while she screamed giggly panicked screams in case I caught her. Every time I did she’d collapse in a fit of giggles. Got my little girl back after Wednesday’s hiccup, phew.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 28th February. Lawks, it’s March tomorrow. This is officially the longest I’ve managed Project 365. H had a superhero party today so we got her dressed in all the H&M bits we’ve picked up, so she could be Batgirl. She felt cool and I thought she looked cool, and it was perfect wear for a soft play party. Afterwards she insisted on getting her guitar out, and posed like this. I need to sort her some guitar lessons for summer term I think – she’s a natural!


A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

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28 Feb

Home : Boov Pop! App Review

If you have been to the cinema lately you may have seen a trailer for the new Dreamworks film. Home. In short, some aliens called Boov come to earth hide from their enemies, to make it their new home. Home : Boov Pop! is based on the animation, and we were given an early preview.

Home : Boov Pop

Home : Boov Pop has been developed and published by Behaviour Interactive and is exclusively available in the App Store now. An Android version is set to follow soon.

The game has in-app purchases, something you’re warned about immediately, which I appreciated as they’re often hidden away. I’ve had a play with H, we tried to load it up on her 1st Gen iPad, but it won’t work – so it’s on my mini. The game is free, so you wouldn’t be out of pocket, mind and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Each level has coloured balloons you have to pop, and you’re set a target on each level. Combinations of balloons can help improve your score, and you aren’t limited to a grid – if you can make a circle, go for it. You may find obstacles along the way to make it a bit trickier.

Home : Boov Pop game

I’ve been playing ‘Frozen – Free Fall’ for the last year, which follows a similar path – and the fact I’ve played for so long makes me think that Home : Boov Pop will be one we’ll be using a long time too. There are obstacles in the way, rainbow balloons so you can change colour, and most importantly of all, things which H wants to play (she wasn’t keen on the Frozen game).

The animation ‘Home’ is based on the book ‘The True Meaning of Smekday’ which we don’t own, though reading about it I think it’s around H’s reading level and we’ll be investigating further.

We’ve only had a short preview on Home : Boov Pop, so we’re not very high level-wise, it’s straightforward, fun, colourful and full of praise at the end of each level.

Home : Boov Pop Tip & Oh

I remember from the Home trailer how they travel around the world, and from pictures I’ve seen the game has elements of this in there – right now I’d say give it a go! It’s free, disable the add-on’s and enjoy!

Home’s Official Website – it’s out in cinemas from March 27th 2015.

We were provided with a code which gave us a one-day preview of the game. All opinions are our own.

27 Feb

A Healthy Me – February

I like February – I wish every month could be like it, as it goes so quickly. It’s a month which feels a bit like a Tuesday or Thursday – kind of non-days? But of course that means the time has crept up and I need to do my monthly update.

Health-wise it was rubbish. I had no time off sick from work, but had really awful aches which stopped me sleeping. Eventually my Osteopath got something going again and I’ve had a week of blissful sleep every night which has been long-overdue. My only explanation is that maybe all those muscles are going where they should be since I got pregnant (which was over five and a half years ago) and something went wrong the first time. That or it’s a c-section issue (funny how these sort of things only seem to happen to women who’ve had them – I’ve met many).

Things have turned a corner anyway. I’m not taking any painkillers any more, still no caffeine since November, just water (and wine at weekends). The post-Christmas ‘eat up all the food we hadn’t touched’ commenced, and I still didn’t put on any weight. So let’s go through each part…

Food. I am still eating apple and pineapple every morning for breakfast, although I’ve started feeling hungrier afterwards so have had the occasional pack of Belvita biscuits to keep me going. Osteo says my drainage around my back looks much better, and I can definitely feel no pain or strain there, it seems to have transferred to the front!!

Swimming/gym. Okay, hands up. I’ve been rubbish. I have been to the gym though, although got so tired again and had a lack of energy that fell by the wayside. My gym must love me, getting their fees for so little time. I’m going to swim next Tuesday when H has her lesson though, I’m determined. I did run for a bus today and wasn’t out of breath, so I’m definitely getting exercise somewhere.

Weight. Still 13 stone 2, not 15 stone 2 as I said last month. Pleased with that as I haven’t gained anything which is a relief.

Cholesterol spots. I haven’t seen any movement in them, but I need to get a photo.

Vitamins – every morning I take a multivitamin and Vitamin D, and I’m definitely feeling better for it.

I need to start thinking about ways to treat the dark shadows under my eyes, but I’m not ready to go on a detox. I’d be interested to find out what has caused it.

March is set to be a fairly quiet month as well which is good – we need it! I’m starting to feel like I’m recharging my batteries, things are improving which is a good thing. I’m feeling positive, plus I’m doing Karin Joyce’s ‘Embrace Happy‘ every day over at her Facebook group – as like Karin says, ‘not every day is good, but there is good in every day’

26 Feb

Win The Higgidy Cookbook and a Higgidy Apron!

It has been a long time since we’ve had a giveaway on here – a very long time. But we have a few lined up, which time nicely with Mum Friendly being about to turn four. Here’s the first one – a fabulous Higgidy giveaway, and you can win a copy of the Higgidy Cookbook and a Higgidy Apron. Read on to find out more!

higgidy giveawayTo help you celebrate Pie Week this year, fabulous West Sussex based piemakers Higgidy are giving away some exciting prizes to help you make delicious pies in your very own kitchen. All you need to do is enter below for a chance to win a copy of The Higgidy Cookbook, featuring 100 recipes for pies and more, and a Higgidy apron. What better excuse is there to cook up a storm in the kitchen and impress your friends and family with your pie baking skills? And, in case you don’t feel like cooking, they’ve also popped in some vouchers, so you can pick up some of their delicious pies from the supermarket to enjoy at home.

Higgidy believe there is nothing better than homemade, which is why they bake their pies in small batches, fill them with ingredients just like you would use in your kitchen at home and finish every one by hand.

Oh, and did you know there’s a new Higgidy Pie in stores now? The new Hand Pulled Pork and Sweet Potato Pie. We were sent four to try, and I nobly passed them on to Shaun and H (being vegetarian for over 30 years meant I wasn’t going to try them!) who both found them most enjoyable. So maybe if you win you’d fancy trying out those ones? Just enter via Rafflecopter below. Ends on the 8th March 2015.

Terms and Conditions
By taking part in this competition all participants will be deemed to have accepted and be bound by these terms and conditions:

  • This prize draw is only open to residents of the UK.
  • Each winner will receive a pack containing a copy of The Higgidy Cookbook, an apron and four Higgidy pie vouchers. Higgidy accepts no responsibility for any costs associated with the prize and not specifically included in the prize.
  • The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and is not redeemable for cash or other prizes.
  • Higgidy retains the right to substitute the prize, or any of its contents, with another prize of similar value in the event the original prize offered is not available.
  • The winners names may be promoted on Higgidy’s website or social media websites.
  • No purchase necessary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 Feb

Project 365 – Week 8

Sunday 15th February. After a busy Saturday it was decided to have an easier Sunday, mainly as H has a cold, I was catching it and Shaun is one of those lucky people who sleeps. The morning started with H laid out on the settee reading her Maps book. As luck would have it, maps is one of the topics for school next year so she’s already got plenty of books to cover it.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 16th Feb. My new phone arrived! I was very excited about it, and after a lot of deliberating stuck with EE. I was going to switch to Three, but unfortunately the 4G coverage around here works in EE’s favour. I love Three’s tariffs, and it’s something I’d still consider the next time my renewal is up. So the phone. I like it, but I don’t love it. It’s a Samsung Galaxy A3 and the camera doesn’t have a macro setting. This makes me sad as I was hoping it would – I suspect the A5 will though, but it’s too big for me. It does the job, and I have space on my phone to put things on which is progress anyway.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday 17th Feb. Feisty. H was told to get off the iPad as she’d been on for a while, so she stomped off upstairs, left this note outside her bedroom door and was “very cross” with Shaun and I. I felt like the note lost a bit of the impact by being on a Miffy notepad, but I liked her fighting spirit. Obviously we all talked about it and she calmed down, and we have new iPad rules in place again.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday Feb 18th. In my past life as a non-parent I went to thousands of gigs and took photos of the bands for my own use. They live on my longest-standing (and much neglected) website  & blog Sweetfoolthemouth, and they’re only a small selection as I don’t have time to scan these days. Some of those photos caught the eye of the Beautiful Noise documentary maker Eric Green who asked to use them. Anyway, five of my photos make it onto the documentary (3 x My Bloody Valentine, 1 x Lush, 1 x The Telescopes), so I bought the DVD – which arrived from the US in a matter of days! We watched it on Saturday night.

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Thursday Feb 19th. We lost lots of H’s toys a year or so ago, and I was convinced they were under the stairs. In the last week I’ve found them – including her old Kidzoom camera (which she loves as it has games on it…) – Shaun put batteries in and that was it, she was off making in-flight entertainment films which seem to be showing the entire plane all her toys.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 20th Feb. I did not take a photo today. I did, however, take a film. See, at work if I get in first I have one thing I do to start the day off (other than get a fork for my breakfast and a cup of steaming hot water to drink) – but only if nobody else is in. Joe who sits opposite me blagged a Tardis full of Dr Who music – the incidental music (so we’re talking Delia Darbyshire here) – though they’re still unplayed in the office. The Tardis itself is fab though, and always makes me smile. See?

A video posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 21st Feb. We went to Sutton Empire to watch Big Hero 6 – which we enjoyed a lot although I had to hold back the tears several times with the theme of loss running through the film. Afterwards we headed to Waterstones as H wanted to buy ‘My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat’ which came out last month, as she’s read the other two books in the series. Waterstones had it on a half price deal when bought with another book, and by the time she went to bed last night she’d read the whole thing. She loves those books!

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18 Feb

Mummy Pig Gifts for Mother’s Day

When we went to Peppa Pig World, one of our most favourite things in the shop was the range of things for grown-ups. Actually, almost all of my friends who have been have said exactly the same – they’re brilliant, funny and different – and what better excuse to get some Mummy Pig gifts with Mother’s Day on the horizon (15th March, in case you weren’t sure).

The Mummy Pig gifts range in price and size – and are the kind of thing your child might want to choose you, rather than something you’d choose yourself, if that makes sense? H chose Shaun a few bits from the Peppa Pig World shop and he still wears and uses them – because they have a bit more meaning to a random present bought by me on H’s behalf. You know that they’ve been chosen.

mummy pig gifts - pyjamas

Asda have some Mummy Pig pyjamas which at £13 don’t break the bank and look quite fun! Available in sizes 8-22.

There are also some ‘Mum in a Million’ slippers again available from Asda, fits sizes 3-8 and has a RRP of £6.

mummy pig gifts - slippers

How about some matching ‘Mum in a Million’ socks? Again, Asda has them, with a RRP of £2.50.

mummy pig gifts - socks

There are some books and a weeble character available too, although I don’t think they’re quite as much Mummy Pig gifts for mummies as for your little ones! They’re available from all good bookstores and toy stores.

Speaking from experience, and from having spoken to many of my mum friends after they’ve been to Peppa Pig world, someone always comes back with a keyring or a pair of socks, so actually having the Peppa range available for Mother’s Day is a good idea.

You can order the Peppa nightwear range online from Asda.com or find them in-store in the George clothing section.

Peppa Pig – The Golden Boots is in all cinemas now for half term – the perfect chance to take your littlest ones to the cinema for the first time!

14 Feb

Project 365 Week 7

Another week which has flown by. We have a visitor…

Sunday February 8th. We went to Banstead Woods, trying to get there before it got too cold, as it was such a lovely day. It was nice to breathe again and not feel like you’re walking alongside pollution.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday February 9th. School and Rainbows again – the last one before half term. I was pleased as H chose Oliver as her reading book at school which is great as we’ve recently seen the film. Having said that, she still has it a WEEK later – she likes it!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday February 10th. Officially a busy day, Parents Evening at school, H’s swimming lesson not long after that and my pilates lesson after that. Our Morphy Richards Soup Maker broke last week, I bought a new one and this soup is the result – the blob on top is some Coyo Dairy-Free coconut yoghurt. Yum!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday February 11th. I told H’s teacher about her dislike of school (even though she doesn’t) and H was a bit embarrassed. So I suggested she does a kind of ‘you’re my favourite teacher’ card, which evolved into a Valentine’s Day card. The best cards are the ones you get to pick glue from your fingers while making, you know.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday February 12th. So I picked H up from the childminders after school, to find she’s been given Swimmy, the class toy frog. FOR HALF TERM! Normally the children get Swimmy for a week, but this will be two weeks!! TWO. Uuuuh! H is delighted of course, and I’m proud of her for getting it – so much for us getting an easy Half Term! Mind, one part of her home learning was to learn the highlighted words to spell – and she only had one word highlighted which she knew anyway. This and the Valentine’s card are not connected in any way, apparently!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 13th February. An inset day, and I booked the day off as holiday from work. A lie in didn’t happen as H woke when Shaun left, though I managed to just lie in bed and not sleep, though H insisted on chatting to me. I’m not a beauty blogger but I do buy beauty products, and have recently found the Benefit Boi-ing concealer covers the dark shadows under my eyes AND the cholesterol spots, which lifts my confidence too.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 14th February. We took Swimmy to the Farmers Market, then stopped in Carshalton Park on the way home. I love taking photos of The Grotto in all seasons – around this time last year it was flooded and we had a mini-stream running through Carshalton which was weird. It took months to drain as well. Anyway, today The Grotto was just muddy. I love it in all seasons – and love this picture.

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12 Feb

Alphabites – Create Your Own Monsterbet!

We’re big fans in this house of Bear’s Alphabites cereal, they’re regularly bought as H’s breakfast option – having letters in her cereal as well as it being healthy is ideal for us! Alphabites have got a great goody or four in packs at the moment – read on to find out about the Monsterbet – and why not try making one too!


Monsterbet? What’s that then? You’re probably wondering. Or you may have worked it out – a different monster with a letter from the alphabet making up his name is the easy answer – and you can find four monsterbet magnets inside all packs of Bear’s Alphabites cereal at the moment.

bears monsterbet magnets

Here’s the advert – we spotted it on tv tonight!

We were really happy to get a box of both types of Alphabites cereals, as well as some crafty bits to make our own monsterbet. H being as particular as she is, decided her monster would begin with H – and was called Herrumph – except I asked her to spell it, so we now have Hiuimghi which is pronounced the same way (never argue with a five year old). We had lots of fun making the monster – and this isn’t just a bloggers thing – you can do it too – head over here to the Monsterbet page – two winners are announced every month, and there’s lots of goodies to try to win!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Alphabites cereals have been reviewed by us in the past – over here – I love the fact they’re a healthy breakfast option and aren’t overloaded with sugar. The Bear site says: “Alphabites are a delicious healthy breakfast cereal with no refined sugar, salt, or any other nonsense. Grrr. Instead of refined sugars, we use coconut blossom nectar which contains twice the calcium of milk, and has a naturally low GI.”

Alphabites Monsterbet

Add to that the Monsterbet magnets (and each monster also has a little speech bubble type magnet that goes with it which is pretty cute), and Bear have definitely put the fun back into breakfast again – with added spelling and plenty of creativity if you choose! Of course, there’s plenty of Monster facts on the back of each pack as well!

Alphabites can be found in all good stores, including Waitrose, Ocado, Wholefoods, Holland and Barrett, Planet Organic and many more.

Bear Alphabites

We were sent two boxes of Bear Alphabites and some crafty bits, as well as the Monster poster for our Monsterbet entry – all opinions are our own! 

08 Feb

Introducing Glitterbelle!

Glitterbelle is a princess, and she has a set of books that Parragon have just made available. We’ve been sent two of them, and H took to them immediately.

glitterbelle books

Glitterbelle is a sparkly glittery princess, and H loved the books straight away – while Glitterbelle isn’t too girly and has some attitude, she does a lot of normal stuff. We were sent ‘Glitterbelle Me and You’ which for a five year old is possibly the best thing ever – it’s a diary with fields that need to be filled in. For H there are all kinds of things, wishes, dreams, what you want to be when you grow up, secrets, best friends, loves, favourites and more. Every night when we get in from school she sneaks into a corner with a pencil and fills in things in her Glitterbelle book – which is top secret! We’ve been told we may be allowed to see what she’s written, but it’s a diary and I’m being very good and respecting her privacy.

glitterbelle diary

In turn, she’s been writing things down in each section. Okay, I had to have a little peep just to make sure she had, but also to see exactly what is asked in there. She loves that it’s ‘her’ little book of secrets where she can write what she wants, and I love how it’s adding to her creative side.

The other book we received was Glitterbelle Dazzling Dress Up, which is lots of stickers you can decorate and dress up Glitterbelle and her friends with – again, perfect for H when she wants to get creative. There are also 30 nail stickers included which are saved for half term.

Glitterbelle sticker book

Parragon has a Glitterbelle mini-site, as well as a free e-book you can download when you enter a code from the main story books. While I’m not a fan of girly princess things, this sits nicely in between – normal things that appeal to young girls without being too princessy.

The Glitterbelle books are targeted at 5-8 year olds. The mini site can be found here.

We received both copies for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

08 Feb

Project 365 Week 6

A busy, cold week it was. February too.

Sunday February 1st. We went to the Peppa Pig premiere at Leicester Square. We’re lucky we can get there by tube from Morden really easily, so arrived ten minutes before they were letting anyone in – not that I realised. So while we stood outside freezing, actually we timed it perfectly as we were warm inside fairly quickly in the end. We bumped into Jenny from the Gingerbread House while we were there, so all sat together which was really nice. Afterwards we went on the London Eye and the London Aquarium (using our Merlin passes), finishing it with tea at Pizza Express – using the 40% off voucher. Result!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday Feb 2nd. Back to work. Back to Rainbows. I was bought a lovely bunch of flowers from a client at work which made it home in one piece – that never happens at work, and it was the perfect excuse to put them in the vase I inherited from my Grannie (via my mum). I love the vase and remember it from my Grannie’s well (she died in 1985).

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday 3rd Feb. We had snow. It settled, but had gone by 10am. I guess that’s our quota this year? It may have been possible to build a slightly larger snowman had I not been at work. It wasn’t to be – instead I took photos of the snow on the tracks and marvelled that my train arrived on time.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday 4th Feb. I love Wednesdays now, as we’re not rushing around any more; that’s Monday and Tuesday instead; so we made a monster as we’re reviewing some Bear Nibbles. H obviously based it around the letter H, and got glue all over her hands just so she could peel it off. Her favourite crafty pastime. 

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 5th Feb. My un-self conscious daughter. I plait her hair into two smaller plaits at the front to keep the shorter wispy bits out of her face, then wind it into the bigger plaits at the back. This didn’t work today, and she spent most of the day at school with four plaits in her hair. Luckily nobody seems to think this is odd. Maybe we’ll start a trend.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 6th Feb. Around Carshalton and Wallington are loads of sewer vents. When we lived in Wallington there was one at the end of our road, and I had no idea what it was. I love them, they’re so interesting. We have one at Wrythe Green near where we live now, and I’ve always tried to get a decent shot of it alongside H. This is the latest attempt. We were walking to the Post Office to get a letter to Australia in time for her not-quite-cousin’s birthday. Expect photos of sewer vents from time to time. I *may* have a lot of them logged in Google Maps because I’m really sad like that. Cough. 

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 7th Feb. Lazy day, although we headed into Wallington and had lunch at Caffe Nero – a place I lived in when I was on maternity leave. While there, H was happy Tottenham had beat Arsenal 2-1, as well as being even happier her current favourite footballer Harry Kane had scored both goals. We finally have a Gareth Bale replacement for her football love. Phew.

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