Is social media and technology affecting your family?

“Come down for tea” I hollar cheerfully up the stairs….. a minute or so goes by….

“boys, come on sweeties, it’s on the table….” more time passes and not a peep can be heard.

It’s now on the table and I’m getting a bit irritated….”Boys!!”

I’m starting to boil now…. “Right I’m going to count to 3!”

Eventually they appear, not in the least bit aware of the effect of my shouting up the stairs. I’ve now got to get myself out of the self induced strop that I’m in because day after day my voice is just not having the effect I think it should. My little boys are getting into a world of their own and that world is inhabited by the likes of YouTube stars and watching people carry out the silliest of pranks on shows they and their friends find online.

Now, I love to blog, my youngest loves to vlog for my blog and I have brought them the gadgets to watch this stuff on so really the blame lands firmly with me, I realise that but it’s all starting to get on my wick a bit.

Me and the OH do chat about the gadgets in our house and the boys use of them. We are pretty good in a few areas, we don’t have any devices at the meal table, homework is done straight away and they both do classes after school. It’s still amazes me though how they can get so into the zone watching these things on YouTube. I push for things like newsround and deadly 60 to throw in a bit of knowledge based learning but even Steve Backshaw has a bit of competition with the YouTube elite of Spencer et al.

Looking at the stats you can find for facebook, snapchat, instagram and all the other little cousins of the social media world you can see the millions of daily users and how year on year these are increasing to meet the demand of our younger generation hopping onto this online juggernaut.

I find myself dreaming of giving it all up and living on a farm away from the bustle of modern life. I see the huge pitfalls too of making this leap; money, contacts, work, school to name but a few of the basics. It’s still so tempting!

I was watching a film the other night about a family shunning the modern way of living and relying more on natural skills and intellectual educational learning and I kept thinking the same thing; there was something missing. The more I thought about it the easier it was to see, the missing link was ‘balance‘.

Technology can have so many great benefits to us and our family life, we can instantly communicate with friends and relatives on the other side of the world and keep our links with these people alive and current. On the other hand are our children’s social skills being permanently adversely affected? Are we protecting their well-being by letting them be in their rooms on social media apps that distort their communication methods into abbreviated text junk?

So, back to my thoughts about balance and what can I do to instil some balance in the way that we live our lives. We can take a moment to stop and think what we are filling our days with. We can discuss together whether this is the direction we want to continue in. Do we need to get back to basics. Not one of those political slogans but something that is right for our own families. Sitting and talking as a family, eating together at least once a day, spending time without phones, iPads or any form of devise. I’m willing to give this a go and put my other solution of wellington boots and the countryside to one side at the moment. I want us to connect.

Has technology affected the way that you and your family communicate with each other and have you seen this trend slowly change or were there certain triggers?

Let's see who has got the balance right, involve others in the discussion.Click To Tweet

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Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

This Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe is not only super delicious but super easy to make. I find layering up bakes relaxing and what’s great is that you can get this ready in advance and then pop it in the oven when you are nearly ready to have your meal. It only takes 40 minutes in the oven.

What you will need is:

1 garlic clove

5 mushrooms

2 small or 1 large aubergine

1 ball of mozzarella cheese

8 pasta sheets

1 can tinned tomatoes or passata

A couple of sprigs of basil

Grated cheddar cheese

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Crush the garlic clove and mix with the tinned tomatoes. Spread this as the first layer across your oven dish. Then place the pasta sheets, trying to close all the gaps as good as possible.

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Tear the mozarella into chunks and place over the pasta sheets.

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Place a layer of roughly 1cm thick slices of aubergine on top of the mozarella.

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Next put another layer of the pasta and cover with the remaining tinned tomatoes. Spread evenly over the pasta.

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Place the sliced mushrooms ontop of the tomatoes and cover with the second half of the mozzarella then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Season well with salt and pepper.

Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe

Cook in the middle of a pre heated oven on a medium heat for 40 minutes.

My top tip for this recipe is to get your ingredients prepared so that you Easy Aubergine Bake Recipecan layer the dish together a bit easier. Crush the garlic, cut the mushrooms and aubergines and unwrap your mozzarella. Place all of these in individual bowls and then relax and enjoy building up this tasty bake.

 

 

I’d love to hear how yours turned out and if you have any variations you’d like to share.

Share this Easy Aubergine Bake Recipe with your friends to spread the foodie loveClick To Tweet

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How we got involved with the Great British Spring Clean #GBSpringclean

We love walking down to our local river and are lucky enough to live very close to it. We heard about the Great British Spring Clean launched by Keep Britain Tidy on social media and we decided that we wanted to be part of it.

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

This is the path leading down to the river and it actually looks really clean and tidy. I thought that we wouldn’t really have that much to clear up as I know that there are groups that volunteer along the river and keep it as nice as possible.

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

The event was held over the weekend of 3rd – 5th March 2017. You could register on the website and make use of all sorts of printable resources to promote what you were going to do.

I printed off some posters there and they also had some printable certificates too which is a nice little boost for kids and adults alike.

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

To be fair it was all a little last-minute and I only got the poster on the path gate the day before the events were taking place. I thought it would be nice if there was anyone who wanted to join in with us. There would already be the 4 of us with me, my OH and the two boys. On the day it turned out that it was just us and another lady who had seen me putting the poster on the day before. She was a teacher and walked down the river most days so liked the ideas of doing her bit.

We all got really stuck into our challenge and the boys and the OH went right into the trees and bank alongside the path. To my surprise the bags were starting to fill up!

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

By the time we had finished we had four black bin liners full of rubbish. We even had a competition for who had the most unusual piece that was found. We decided that it had to be the motorcycle helmet as surely you would notice if you had left that behind!

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

In good recycling fashion my OH then sorted the rubbish into what could go in which of our bins – normal or recycling – and we got ourselves cleaned up in time to watch our beloved Bournemouth football team play in the afternoon on the TV as they were away that week.

It was a great way to spend the day and an eye opener to the amount of unnecessary rubbish left around by people, it’s hard to understand how people can just drop things and not seem to care.

Let other people see how they can get involved with this and other events. Click to tweet...Click To Tweet

You can see in the short video below Steve Backshall talking about the event and the effects of rubbish on the environment.

the great british spring clean www.myrealfairy.com

I’d love to hear if you have been involved in any environmental projects or if you do anything locally within your own community.

 

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5 Tips to help the school run go smoother! It’s all in the prep!

So, it’s morning, even though it feels like the middle of the night because surely you have only had a nano second of sleep and the bloomin alarm is shrieking at the top of its voice that you should wake up. If you are anything like me then now is the time that the skill of juggling really comes into its own. Breakfast for the family, just a cuppa for me, after all it’s still the middle of the night in my head *note to self to be a good role model and eat well* it’s on my to-do list!

So before I get side tracked then – here are my top 5 things to help the school run go better!!

The key is, to start from the beginning……

1. Change the ring-tone of your alarm! For years I had the cutest sound of my boys saying for me to wake up, I couldn’t bear to take it off for ages but as the years wore on it was so loud and high-pitched that it wasn’t waking me up the right way. So I’ve saved it to be used for other things and now gone onto a lovely gently undulating tone that lets me wake up in a more gentle way as opposed to heart thumping shock to the system! Try it, even if it’s just for a week.

2. Breakfast, aside from the fact that I am a hypocrite and can’t stomach breakfast in the morning, make sure that the kids have it and digest it properly. In our house that would mean, trying to control their urges to practice dance, gym, football, karate moves while spooning in shreddies to their mouths, jumpers, hamsters and the floor.

3. Teeth! You might have got this one sorted. I have 50% success here, one boy is glued to the bathroom doing his hair, pearly white smile and generally grooming to perfection his appearance while the other one is, well lets just say…not quite there yet. You would have seen from one of my previous posts about motherhood that I have a little trick up my sleeve for how we are currently making sure his teeth are getting cleaned.

5 tips to helping the school run go smoother www.myrealfairy.com

4. Everything has been lined up the night before, so we have; uniform, school bag, shoes, coat, drink and whichever activity they have (that they’ve told you about!) The 5  P’s are in operation here; Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I’ll leave the 6th one out, after all it’s a family blog:0

5. Then it’s in the car with a double and triple check, a final grilling of have they got everything and off to school we go. 9 times out of ten this can work, on the odd occasion for us then this will be the point that one of them tells me that it’s World Book, Children in Need, day of the peach, environment, woman, man or child day and on those days that’s when I have to whistle a happy tune, turn the radio up and think happy thoughts!

How do your days go first thing in the morning? Have you got it sussed? Have you got any tips to share?

Let see if we are alone in the dreaded prep for the school run. Tweet to share.Click To Tweet

p.s. this is how I actually feel when the school run is over…

 

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The #RockingMotherhood Tag

Thanks to Zoe from thetaleofmummyhood.com for nominating me to do the #RockingMotherhood Tag. I’ve been interested in the tag since seeing it and having to think what do I actually rock at! Bigging myself up might feel weird to do but here goes, I’m sure once I get into the swing of it there will be no stopping me! The aim of the game is to write down 10 reasons why you rock at this motherhood lark. We are thrown in at the deep end so this is great to actually do a bit of reflecting and realise what we have accomplished.

  1. I’ve always carefully thought about the decisions I make and how it will affect my boys. There were times when I wasn’t sure what to do for the best and had the whole moral dilemma going on but I gave it my best shot and it worked out.
  2. I worked hard to make sure that I could afford a home for them and put food on the table.
  3. When they cry they always have a pair of arms to wrap around them. I’ve also got great family, friends and man, so that helps too and provides even more pairs of arms!
  4. I didn’t choose to shut myself away when things were tough, I got back out there and kept it together for the sake of my boys.
  5. I love to do the lindy hop with my youngest as he learnt it for a school dance. We now do it as a way to get him through the 2 mins of teeth cleaning.
  6. I try to guide my eldest in the difficult and sometimes challenging stage of being 11 and a half. If I struggle I pass over to the safe hands of his dad. I know where my skills lie and that’s sometimes in delegation.
  7. I try and let them have their own space and encourage them to read more instead of being glued to their ipads.
  8. I encourage them to have an understanding of individual differences. Our jobs mean that they have insights into these discussions.
  9. I celebrate every occasion I can and make a big deal out of the smallest event. You gain a merit, well let’s party!
  10. I love ice cream so we get to go to the local sundae cafe very frequently!
  11. I knew that I would get into the swing of it and as I’m writing this it all boils down to the fact that I love my boys more than anything in the world. I enjoy telling them I love them every day and showing them by my actions. I’ve been described (like many mums) as a lioness when it comes to protecting them. That’s good, that’s me, the lioness.

The rules are lovely and simple

  1. Thank the blogger that tagged you and link to their blog.
  2. List 10 things you believe make you a good mother (this is just a guideline. It can be more or less than 10.)
  3. Tag 3 – 5 bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag.
  4. Grab the #RockingMotherhgood badge below and add it to your post or sidebar.
I hope you have enjoyed reading why I think I rock. I also hope it has inspired you to write down why you rock. Instead of me tagging people in, if you would like to take part then please either tweet me here or write in the comments section below and I’ll tag you in. It’s great fun and go on, it’s time to big yourself up!
Thanks to Patricia over at  whitecamellias.com who created this great tag.

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Bike rides with the Boys and testing their new Hamswan action camera

The boys and my OH love going for their bike rides whenever possible. We are so lucky to live right by the river and the river paths here are ideal for bikes with plenty of room for both the bikes and people to share quite happily. We also have the New Forest pretty close so there is even more opportunity close by. I had already worked with the lovely Sue on reviewing her companies volume limiting headphones for children here so I was pleased to have a look at their Hamswan action camera. I have been keeping an eye out for something that we could mount on the bikes to get some video footage of the boys on their bike trips.

You can see in the pics below that you don’t just get the camera you get a whole load of accessories for it.


Hamswan action camera www.myrealfairy.comThe list is pretty impressive and the photos below show you the complete package which includes:

Waterproof case, adhesive mounts, spare battery, data USB line, bicycle mount, base mount, adaptors and cable ties.

Hamswan action camera www.myrealfairy.com

The waterproof case provided  is waterproof to 98ft (30m) so it can be used for various underwater sports. In addition you have a protective case to protect the camera in wet, dirty or sandy environments. It’s pretty much designed for any environment and it gives peace of mind when you take it out in bad conditions.

Hamswan action camera www.myrealfairy.com

You can see on the side here the slots for the data transfer and the slot for the micro SD card where your video and photos will be stored. My tip is to make sure that your SD card is formatted. I wasn’t sure of what this was until the camera showed a ‘custer size wrong please format’ sign showing on the display. With a quick search of what this meant online I found loads of YouTube videos showing how you would do this and in 3 or 4 actions on the laptop I had done mine. It seems that most action cameras need to have this done as each and every video appears with an action camera. Having done that I was then good to go.

Hamswan action camera www.myrealfairy.com

It’s got a built in wi-fi mode so we linked our home wi-fi in by following the instruction in the booklet that came with it. It shows up as Hamswan and then it’s easy to connect. You also scan the QR code or search on google for the app.

Now we are not overly techi people, the OH really knows his stuff but I am a fair bit behind him so I just need a camera that I can point, press and it’s done. After reading the instructions and having a bit of a play that’s exactly what this camera can do.

Have a look here at the video that Little G did for the blog. As regular readers will know, Little G is my youngest son and is involved with the blog by ‘vlogging for his mums blog’, enjoy….

You can visit Hamswan on their Facebook page here I’m really pleased with the camera and am glad that I’ve got something to take away on holiday with us and hopefully get some footage that I wouldn’t normally have the chance to get.

If you are interested in buying one then you can through amazon here: Hamswan action camera They are currently on sale for just £54.99.

action camera www.myrealfairy.com

 

Tweet your friends if you'd like to share, Thank you!Click To Tweet

action camera www.myrealfairy.com

I was kindly sent one of these action cameras to review. The review is honest and exactly what we experienced with the camera.

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Chalkola Chalk Markers Giveaway, Review & Discount

We had lots of fun this weekend trying out these new chalk markers from Chalkola. We were pleased to review these to try out some fun crafts and get in touch with our creative side. I also have a great giveaway plus a discount code to share with you all.

chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com

We were excited to try out the brand new launch of 21 markers which has 15 chalk markers + 6 metallic markers in the pack. We also tried the jumbo markers.

chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com

First things first was reading the instructions. Big M was involved in this review as he wanted to see how these markers were used and what design project he could be involved in. I set him the task of first understanding how to use them and more importantly, what we could use them on safely. We’ve recently decorated and I didn’t want to mark things and find out that we couldn’t get it out.

chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com

The markers are only to be used on non porous surfaces such as; whiteboards, glass, plastic and windows.

The reason being that porous surfaces have small holes which can absorb the liquid chalk ink and you would then sometimes find it difficult to completely erase them. You must use a test area before starting just to make sure. I tried a small area on Big M’s bedroom door which had white satin paint on it and when we rubbed it off there was a little mark still showing through which took a bit of getting off so I was so pleased we did carry out a test. On most other surfaces you are fine and its really easy to just wipe off.

chalk markers www.myrealfairy.comTo prepare the markers we had a plain piece of paper and pushed the nib up and down about 10 times until the chalk ink was flowing smoothly. They are also odour free and non toxic so I felt safe using them around the boys.

chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com
chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com

I had a little chalk board which I had picked up at the pound shop and I wanted to use for reminder notes which I needed. Big M set about helping out to create our blog design. The colours are so vibrant on the board and the pens flowed nicely. There wasn’t any blobs of colour spilling out and it was very easy to use, easier than we thought they would be. We were so pleased with the result that we have still left it as it is, my reminder notes will stay on scraps of paper until we get another one!
chalk markers www.myrealfairy.comA bit of a grown ups idea but Big M let his cheeky side out and decorated a bottle of Prosecco I happened to have! I loved it and thought what a fab idea if you were giving a bottle as a present, very personalised and adds that little extra glam touch to something fairly normal. I thought that it would also be great to write peoples names on the side of water glasses, if you had a few people round the table at christmas or parties. It’s a funky alternative to seating plans or placecards.


chalk markers www.myrealfairy.com

These were a really good product, easy to use, they had a quality look to them and were well packaged. We had fun and now that I have them I know that they will be sneaking their way into more little touches around our home.

I have a pack of 21 markers with 15 chalk markers + 6 metallic markers to giveaway in the rafflecopter review below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to Worldwide entrants subject to Chalkola shipping countries. Prize distributed by the Chalkola. Please see my contacts page for giveaway general guidelines.

Please checkout Chalkola social media sites and website for more details and information of their other products.

Facebook: Chalkola

Twitter: ChalkolaChalk

Pinterest: Chalkola

I also have a 15% discount code which Chalkola have also offered all of my readers. Just enter the code: 15OFFSTR at the checkout

You can order and redeem your discount through their website here or on Amazon here 

I was sent the chalk markers used in this review. All comments and thoughts are honest and my own.

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When Mainy met Piers …well…sort of….

….well not really at all! However there is a little story I’d like to share with you……. Yesterday I had a slightly different thing happen to cut through the day-to-day school run, work type of thing. I got retweeted by Piers Morgan …not the biggest thing to happen I agree but to me it added some excitement, a bit of a laugh and certainly an eye-opening experience to my day.

Here’s what happened…. I like to watch Piers and Susanna on Good Morning Britain in the morning as I think  the whole ‘thing’ they have going on is pretty compelling and takes me back to the type of chemistry of Johnny and Denise on the channel 4 Big Breakfast sofa years ago (too early for some and a throw back memory for others). To be fair I think the whole team has a good balance and it suits me to have it on while I’m doing all the things I need to do to get the family ready for the day ahead. Yeah it’s sort of yelling, telling the boys to hurry up and putting my make-up on in the dark with normally tango faced horror results….normal stuff.

So, later in the day while I was scrolling through my phone, after work and waiting for my car to get sorted I came across a link to an article. It was about how Ewan McGregor had left the GMB studios where he was scheduled to be interviewed by Piers and Susanna because he found out it would be Piers interviewing him. Now apparently he then left because he disagreed with some comments Piers had made about a recent rally in America where people had flooded the streets of Washington in protest to the Trump administration. This link then took me to an article Piers had written in the daily mail in response to this.

Now, by this time I am stressing in the garage because the kids are due to come out of school in 20 mins and the garage I’m in is 15 mins away from there and my car is nowhere to be seen. I had already given the receptionist the story of how I needed the car quickly because of the kids etc but nevertheless the car is not there. I decided to read this one article so that I could divert my stress and give them another couple of minutes to produce my car and set me on my way. The article was really pretty good, a little direct and clearly taking a swipe at Ewan McGregor but it was direct and made some good points about pointing the finger and being able to debate if you feel strongly about something. It also made me smile in the ‘oh my goodness this will set the cat amongst the pigeons’ sort of way. So, because I enjoyed it I tweeted it and tagged Piers Morgan in –  just because I felt like it at the time.

I then leapt up and made another plea for my car which by sods law was being driven round to greet me just as I was starting to huff and puff at the receptionist. I didn’t think anything of the earlier tweet until I stopped outside school, amazingly still having a couple of minutes to spare and checked my phone. To my surprise Piers Morgan had decided to retweet my tweet! Now bearing in mind he has over 5 million followers it has the potential to get quite a bit of coverage. I smiled at that and though it would be a good story to tell the boys when they came out of school, a little bit of fun to add to the ‘what we all did today’ stories that we fill up our home run with.

Piers Morgan www.myrealfairy.com
When we got home I had another quick little look and realised that there were a few comments coming through that were OK and people were retweeting  which  was ok but I started to see that some were being really rude and offensive. I just stood there and was really taken aback. What was strange was the strength of either love or hate towards Piers Morgan and now me by association. Any real message was getting lost, pushed aside by people’s twitter relationship with the man himself.

When I wrote “Great and interesting read, spend 5 minutes and have a look” In my naive head I meant just that, that I thought it was interesting and  because it had fitted right in with the 5 minutes I had I tweeted words to that effect. No more – No less.

What people seemed to read into that was…. 1. I think everything Piers Morgan says is true. 2. I agree with everything Piers Morgan has said, did say and will ever say, whenever that may be. 3. I’m an awful person for reading anything that he writes.

Such an eye opener because shock, horror but I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me and I’m sure that there would be many things to disagree on. Exactly the same as my own nearest and dearest to me have different views which we can all talk about and get an understanding of even if we don’t agree.

What I did learn from this merest of delicate brushes with the wider twitter world outside of my cosseted blogger circle? Well, First and foremost I learnt that I need to think before I tweet. Secondly there are loads of people just waiting to pounce and shout their views, however mean or bitchy they come across they seem to revel in that outlet. But thirdly….. and on the flip side – look at this photo!!!

Piers Morgan www.myrealfairy.com

The one and only time I’ll see stats like that! Now it’s back to the world of being happy with 3 retweets for me!

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Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This is a great easy cranberry sauce recipe as it is so quick to make. Also it has just 3 ingredients. It couldn’t be simpler to prepare, even at short notice as it only takes 15 minutes. Super tasty and looks great too. I love it with any of my christmas roasts and it can be used with your desserts too. I enjoy putting it with mince pies and cream.

What you will need is:

12oz cranberries

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of orange juice

 

Start by washing the cranberries in cold water and drain.

Place the orange juice and sugar in a large saucepan.

Stir together and bring to the boil.

When it’s reached boiling point turn down the heat to medium and stir until the sugar is dissolved.


Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe www.myrealfairy.com

Add the cranberries and bring to a gentle simmer. You will hear and see them pop a little. Be careful of splashes so don’t get too close. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe www.myrealfairy.com

Remove from the heat.

Leave to cool until they reach room temperature.

Place in jars. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

easy cranberry sauce recipe

 

It can also be frozen. If you want to do this then pop it into a freezer bag or appropriate plastic container and freeze when cool.

Want to share this easy recipe with your friends? Go ahead and tweet away:) Thank you!Click To Tweet

 

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Thank You Christmas

Christmas – come on then we are here!

We’ve been waiting 12 whole months for you to re-appear

To shower us with festive cheer

To bring those from afar to near.

So how about it dear old Christmas

Can you make us all get on

Make the little ones giggle with the fun

I bet you can you bearded one.

Thank you christmas for visiting us

For giving reason for all this fuss

It brings us close for it’s you we discuss

Whether you come by sleigh, star or bus.

Thank you Christmas for making me think

To appreciate my loves with a wink

You really are more than just a day

You’re a hug, a boost and to you I say Hooray!

 

If you enjoyed this poem for you, tweet to share for a view or two xxxClick To Tweet

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