School lunchbox Tips with #HartleysYourLunchbox

Its time to start thinking about the school lunch boxes, and I have been thinking about trying something new for the boys lunches. I am lucky that he like a big variety of different foods, but over the last few weeks of term decided that he didn’t like having sandwiches any more. This made lunches a little tricky as I find I get stuck in the rut of the same things each day.

Our school have a no nut policy which is fine, but the boy does love peanut butter so that is ruled out. So I decided over the holidays to try out a few easy school lunch ideas. My first thought is to try lots of easy to eat foods, cucumber and tomatoes always go down well. I also found chopped peppers and gherkins with cubes of cheese went down well.

Wraps have been a great compromise as they are less bready than a sandwich but I can still sneak in a few bits of lettuce with plenty of chicken. I found wraps are great for picnics and I could make them the night before so there would be no mad panic in the mornings before school. I like to add in some dairy and have found a frozen tube yoghurt keep the rest of the food cool, and is defrosted before lunchtime.

school lunch

I always add fruit, and this makes a great colourful lunch. Adding a pot of Hartley’s Jelly is a little treat. With the no added sugar option you don’t have to worry about too much sugar. This summer Hartley’s are offering you the chance to collect 12 of the special edition green lids from their jelly pots. In return you will receive a free Hartley’s Lunchbox and stickers, perfect to personalise your back to school lunches.

My final back to school lunchbox tip would be to make your lunches personal to your child. Mine loves sushi, so loves a pot of rice and fish. Sometimes I even send in a small amount of tortilla chips and a pot of salsa. I have found the boys taste has changed over the years at school, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

This post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Hartley’s Jelly

Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 – Review

Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 is a great way to capture and animate your own films and movies. With more emphasis being put on IT as a subject in schools and the introduction of coding as part of the national curriculum from September 2014, getting children used to using software and creating their own animations is a great way to help them at home. Honestech Stopmotion Studio is available from Currys for RRP £59.99, but is on offer with £10 discount so is down to £49.99, also available online.

The boy and I were excited to try out this software, as we have made a few stop start animations in the past including this fun Lego one. The software was super easy to install from the disc, and once registered online we were set to go. You will have to have your own video camera (webcam or Camcorder) and microphone to use this software, but interestingly it also supports the use of some DSLR cameras. We used a web camera, and found this easy to set up as the software instantly recognised it.

honestech annimation studio

The Honestech Stopmotion Studio comes with a quick set up guide, which I found very useful, but most of the functions of the software were easy enough to work out. Encouraging the boy to think of a story and find some props, he decided to produce an animation with Kermit the frog. We looked at how to capture the images, and then moved onto the sound and adding music. The boy found the auto capture easy to use as the sound alerts you to when the next picture will be taken and has an onscreen countdown. You can also set how many seconds you would like between each shot which is useful.

screen shot of software

We tried using the green screen function with limited success, and I think this would have worked better if we had a plain coloured background rather than replacing the carpet colour. The boy liked the record function and you are able to move the sound file to the frame where you want it to start. The only thing I found frustrating was that you have no control over the music or recorded volume. It was good that you could add both though as you could add in your own sound effects. Like all software I would save often to avoid loosing vital work Like I did, but on a second attempt I found the Stopmotion studio had saved all the recorded files so they hadn’t been lost.

We loved the onion skin effect which allows you to line up each of the frames you take. There is also a function where you can add in your own images as backgrounds. You have all sorts of fine adjustments with this software like frame speed, contrast and brightness. It was also easy to change the frame order and even flip images. With the addition of text, subtitles it would be easy to produce professional looking stories in full HD.

Here is the boys little film, and for something that took less than an hour to make I think it was good fun. Hopefully it will inspire the boy to try something a little more complicated next time.

Overall the Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 has to be the easiest to pick up software we have tried. It was super easy to publish directly to your you tube account, or save as HD quality films on your computer. There are even setting for ipad/ipod which would come in useful for kids who have these gadgets! This software is defiantly something the boy easily managed to pick up on his own, and once you have a good filming area set up endless hours of storytelling.

Both the boy and I give Honestech Stopmotion Studio a big thumbs up, and look forward to testing out our animation skills over the half term holidays. I can see many hours of fun making more of our fun Lego inspired films. I’m thinking of a star wars epic or maybe something with our new lego fencer? The possibilities are endless.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of the Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 for your children to try animation for themselves then why not enter my gleam giveaway below.


Disclaimer we were sent this software for review the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Terms & Conditions:
The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • It is mandatory to leave a comment in the post comment section answering the question specified. Other tasks completed will gain additional entries. The winner will be checked to make sure they have both left a comment and completed the task for the winning entry.
  • Winner will be drawn by randomly after the competition closes at 23:59 on Wednesday 4th March 2015
  • The winner will be sent an  e-mail to the e-mail address left at time of entry. The winner will need to reply to the e-mail within 7 days of the notification. Every effort will be made to contact the winner, but if no response is made within the 7 days a new winner will be chosen.
  • The prize details are stated at the top of the giveaway, and no alternatives will be offered.
  • The prize will be posted by the promoter, unfortunately I cannot be held responsible or replace missing parcels. Please contact me if there is a problem.
  • Please alow 28 days from notification for your prize to be sent out.
  • This competition is listed at: Win competitions at and SuperLucky


#MorningWin Challenge

I have already confessed that “I don’t do Mornings” I really don’t, and my family know that. But the one thing that makes my mornings just that little bit more bearable is getting ready the night before.

I hate the whole shouting at the boy to hurry up, so planning what is needed the night before, is the only way we get out of the door even remotely on time. First I check the homework, and the school bag, to make sure no letters have appeared that need action. Next is there any extra kit, is it swimming? Yes I have had to run home before now for the trunks and towel. Is it PE, yes another bag. Has the boy got his reading book, and diary? Have I remembered to fill it in? I wont have time for scribbles in the morning.

Next the uniform, Has he got clean trousers? Shirt, jumper, did he remember to even bring the jumper home? There are so many things to remember I would have no chance in the morning of getting them all sorted in time. So with the clock clucking 8am (yes our clock clucks) its time to grab my clothes, sort out my life and collect the boy ready for the off.

Most mornings he is busy telling me all about the latest app, school club or what his friends are doing that day, which is great! But there is hair to comb, socks which seem to go missing, and shoes. Even the coat is an effort. Someday I have to repeat to myself, stay calm… Once out of the house, the battle is over we are on our way. No turning back, well unless we have missing trunks.

Before the boy arrived life was easier, quieter and somehow less colourful. As much as I HATE mornings, I wouldn’t change them for the world and especially the ten minute walk to school before I hand the boy over for the day. Those ten minutes are ours, and our time to be friends #MorningWin.

#winmorning with belvita

Belvita biscuits are a quick and easy start to the day, especially if you are having something on the run to school. The boy loves the new belvita Crunchy biscuits and chooses them as an after school snack. Even Dad has discovered the new Crunchy Hazelnut biscuits and says they are pretty good at filling him up till tea time!

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at Belvita



Keeping warm on the school run

Damart’s thermal range is celebrating a 60th year of production and I was sent a Thermolactyl Cardigan to try, with a definite chill in the air on the school run this week the cardigan arrived just in time. Layers are the key to keeping warm and this cardigan with its batwing sleeves is a great way to keep warm and stylish at the same time.

I will confess this time last year I thought thermal clothing was for wimps and Grannies, but that all changed when the snow arrived. I am now the proud owner of two thermal vests and was very happy to wear them on the icy school run. Now that I work from home, I will need something easy and warm as I have no plans to run the heating all day! The Cardigan is beautifully soft to the touch and is wearable over the top of a neutral top. I have been wearing it now for a couple of days and it defiantly has a extra warmth to it. Investing in a few thermal items of clothing is defiantly would be my advice for everyone who has to stand in the playground on a cold winters afternoon, because I can guarantee my boy will be the last one out!


As part of Damart’s celebrations you have the chance to win an amazing Icelandic adventure. Just don’t forget to pack your thermals if you win!

When is a day off not a day off?

When is a day off not a day off?

When it’s because your teacher is on strike!

I have mixed feelings about teachers going on strike, I have good friends who are teachers, and I feel that a good teacher would always have their pupils learning at the heart of what they do. I can’t help feel that maybe this is all being blown out of proportion. Ok so they have the right to strike, and everyone should have the right to voice their opinions. But hasn’t the time for striking and it making any point whatsoever  long gone. I know you are fighting for pensions and pay, but welcome to the world most of us live in. I feel sorry for those of you who are about to retire, to have pensions cut at this point is never good. But when I get to retirement age, will I get a state pension? Have I had a pay rise in the last 8 years of working? and can I have a day where I say to my boss I’m not working today?

I have found it very difficult to explain the reasons why the boy wont be going to school tomorrow. I have explained the reasons behind why his teacher is striking, yet all his friends will be in school. I have told him if he thinks it isn’t fair, or has any questions then he should go and ask his teacher. I don’t think I have the right to answer on this persons behalf, and if he feels strongly enough to strike then a few questions from an 8-year-old are ok, aren’t they?

I can forgive just one day, however tempted I am to send a letter into the school saying if this happens again there will be a fine of £60! after all if I wasn’t at home I would have to pay childcare. So my last question, should I take him into school for his lunchtime clubs? as the teacher for this club will be there!


That’s My Hero

I think we all have our own Hero’s growing up, whether they are family members or sporting stars. I know that mine was, and always will be my Nan, she was a big part of my family life and I have lots of very happy memories of summers spent in her garden or playing in the park.

So when I saw this competition with Tots 100 and Money Supermarket to find your Child’s Hero I though it would be a great question to ask the boy. I did wonder who he would choose, maybe a family member, maybe a friend maybe even his fencing teacher? I wasn’t really prepared for the answer!

So tonight I asked the question “Who is your Super Hero?” The answer was very clearly “Miss B” with no hesitation it was quite clear that he had though long and hard about it. Now this is a shock to me for one reason I didn’t think that he got on with his temporary teacher. His class has had a rocky start to the year with their permanent teacher being in hospital for a major operation. I didn’t think that they had realised how lucky they were to have just one teacher in place for the last 8 weeks! Clearly I was about to be proven wrong.

So here she is in all her super hero glory, and this is what the boy says…

Miss Super B

Miss B has secret powers and is able to fight crime and send children flying to Mrs A (The Head) just by clicking her fingers. She can speak 15 different languages “That’s my lucky number” She can tidy up so quick if you blink you miss it, as all the things fly back into place. She can breath in space and lives in Cornwall!
With her sonic click, objects can knock baddies out and sends them to prison. Miss B has lots of mysterious things, that nobody knows. If you think there is no end to her talents you are wrong she will have more hidden! Her clothes never get dirty and she always wears her hidden outfit. She can defeat criminals even if she is in the swimming pool, and everyone will be “flabbergasted!”
She knows the answer to every sum even the hardest sum in the world, and I like her!

In the picture you can see Miss Super B in the classroom sending a sonic message to Mrs A because she has spotted someone in the playground being naughty.
There is a shelf to hold the class dancing clown, and she is just about to tidy up using her sonic click.

I know that we all hope as parents that our child’s teacher will spark their imagination, and encourage them to learn. So I think that all the lovely things the boy said about Miss B are high praise indeed. Coming from a 7-year-old who I know is not always the most cooperative child, and who has had his fair share of being sent to Mrs A!

This post is an entry into the Tots100 MoneySupermarket That’s My Hero competition.

You can enter to, and the details can be found here

Who is your Hero?