We spent the weekend having a secret garden adventure with Energizer and the Secret Life of Pets. Energizer have teamed up with the film Secret Life of Pets which comes out on DVD in December, with your chance to win your very own soft toy. Duke from the film came with us on our outdoor adventure, and here is what we got up too.
We started in our own secret garden popping on our Energizer head torches, we set out into the dark to hunt for some of our prickly residents. The boy loves hedgehogs, so we decided to see if we could find evidence of any night-time visitors. We have a hedgehog house cited at the back of the garden under the trampoline. We couldn’t find any evidence of our secret garden friend, so we left his home alone in the hope he would return soon.
There are lots of other smaller creatures in the garden that like to come out at night. We saw spiders, some moths and a few daddy-long-legs who were attracted by the lights. Energizer has a great range of torches. We took our Energizer Impact rubber torch, perfect for those night-time adventures. We listened out for the sounds of nocturnal animals. The only activity we heard was the rustle of bushes as our cat Magic ran out to find out what we were up too.
At the weekend there were plenty of bonfire and firework parties happening around us. We turned off Energizer Lantern and enjoyed watching the fireworks for a while before the night sky came back into view. I love looking up at the stars, and the boy was telling us all the new things he has been learning at school. His topic this term is planets and he loves to share his knowledge with us.
Finally the boy wanted to check out the local park, we have spent lots of time there in the summer hunting virtual reality creatures, this time we were looking for the real thing. Our Energizer headlight means that we can light our way and still have our hands free. We wrapped up warm and set off to see what we could find. Duke came with us, and he certainly had enough fur to keep him warm, as it turned a bit chilly. The boy set of looking, while Dad and I brought up the rear. The park is near the sea so we could hear the sound of the water lapping on the stones, and the odd noise from a seagull. We spotted a lone jogger in the darkness complete with head torch, before setting off home. Time to warm up with a hot chocolate, and a real fire.
The clocks may have gone back and the evenings are dark. We had fun getting out in the fresh air, which meant we all slept well. The boy wants us to make more hedgehog hotels so that we can help his favourite secret garden creatures and maybe even invest in a night vision camera so we can film our night-time visitors.
You can win your very own Secret Life of Pets character ,when you buy Energizer batteries, enter online for your chance to win Max, Duke, Gidget or Snowball. You can also go out this weekend and see if you can find any secret garden surprises in your local area.
Disclaimer Thanks to Energizer for sending us a selection of goodies to promote our secret garden adventure. All words remain our own and have not been altered.
Open Goaaal! is a great new outdoor football goal, with a difference. No more lost balls, or trips round to next door to beg for your ball back. Yes that’s right, the people at Open Goaaal have found a solution, a net that spans your whole garden. Available from the Open Goaaal website a standard goal costs RRP £134.99, or the large is available for £149.99.
I have been very surprised at what a brilliant invention Open Goaaal is, I have frinds who have goals in their gardens and get fed up or having to retrieve balls. The boy likes nothing better than a good kick about with Dad Dragon in the back garden at weekends, and it turns out after playing for two hours last weekend isn’t too bad as a goalie!
The Open Goaaal is not suitable for all gardens so before you all rush off to buy one some measuring is required. The minimum size for the standard Open Goaaal is 6.3m, with a maximum of 8.3m. Now I have to say I had measured our garden twice, and after reading the instructions realised the goal is actually 4.75m wide, so if you do have a rectangle garden and can secure the posts of the Open Goaaal to existing fence posts then you might be able to fit the Open Goal neatly across a garden. ( Check out the website as they have pictures in their assembly video)
The Open Goal comes in one very neatly packed box, with very comprehensive instructions which go into great detail on how to install the goal. The box also comes with all the tools you will need, a heavy duty mallet, and a rather unique spirit level( you will need to use your own tape measure) I would advise that you read the instructions thoroughly and check out the video too. there is even a helpline number if you get stuck, luckily our Open Goaaal went up smoothly with no problems.
Have a look at our fun time-lapse video which shows us putting up our Open Goaaal!
I was always told to “measure twice and cut once” and this could be the open goal motto, as making accurate measurements on the ground and double checking meant we had no problems installing the Open Goaaal in less that the two hours recommended in the manual. I would go into detail, but basically the system has two very tall poles, which need marking out then with a system of bungees, and ropes you install the Open Goaaal net which cleverly has a football goal mounted in the middle of a finer net. This gives the appearance of a goal with no posts.
There are trouble shooting sections in the manual which cleverly detail each example of a problem and tells you which bungee or rope to adjust. I found that by taking each step slowly none of these were needed and in total I think our goal took around an hour for two adults and one child to construct.
What is super cleaver about the Open Goaaal is that at the end of a football session you can simply unclip the four bottom pegs of the goal and the whole thing neatly slides to one side so that you can have you garden back. We have installed our goal across the bottom of the garden and once pulled back it is hardly visible from the house. For the purpose of mowing you just lift the net and the Open Goal simply hooks up out of the way, this is also useful to stop foxes from nibbling the Open Goal!
I have been surprised already how much use the boy has got from his Open Goaaal, and I think that every football mad, or boy filled household should have one. The Open Goaaal has been a super addition to our outside activities and the boy enjoyed running around inventing timed activities and pretending he is taking part in world record breaking footballing events.
For more information on where to buy your Open Goaaal, instillation or just a huge list of other people who agree that Open Goaaal is fantastic visit the website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Now for the exciting part, as I have the chance for one lucky reader to win an Open Goaaal to install in their garden. This is my best and most exciting prize to date, with a RRP of £134.99, this summer you could be enjoying peaceful days in the garden without the constant apologies to next door for flying balls! Simply follow the instructions on the Gleam app below, and don’t forget to check the the T&C’s.
Disclaimer: we were sent an Open Goaaal! for the purpose of review, our oppinions are our own and have not been altered.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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This month I have been completing a different Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle. Delphinium Cottage is number nine in the cottage collection of 1,000 piece puzzles, available for RRP £11.99.
Delphinium cottage like all the other Ravensburger puzzles that I have completed, features the softclick interlocking puzzle pieces which lock together to form a seamless picture, with great colours and amazing details. The picture for the Delphinium cottage is made up of a mixture of photographic images and some hand drawn parts, with sweet birds and colourful flowers as well as the cottage and its cheeky family of Labrador dogs.
I enjoyed this months puzzle challenge, and found it took me between 3 and 4 hours to complete. I thought from my first look at the puzzle pieces that it would be difficult to finish, as there seemed to be vast amounts of grey and white pieces. It was easy to pick out the bright colours of the flowers to complete first, and once the outside words and border was complete the rest of the puzzle fitted swiftly together.
There are 8 other cottage collection puzzles available from Ravensburger and feature bright pretty country cottages with roses, birds and butterfly’s. The boy enjoyed helping me with a few pieces and at age 9 was pretty good at finding the right places. The Delphinium cottage would make a perfect gift, and certainly brightened up my rainy Sunday afternoon. I only wish my cottage garden looked this good!
Below is an affiliate link to buy Delphinium Cottage from Ravensburger, or catch up with them online on Facebook, and Twitter.
Disclaimer: I was sent the Delphinium cottage to review, the opinions remain my own and have not been altered.
Pumpaloons is the latest game we have been sent by Drumond Park. Pumpaloons is a game for two players aged 4+ and has an RRP of £19.99.
When I told the boy that Drumond Park were sending us Pumpaloons to review, I have to say he was not impressed. I think the reply I had was something like “I have seen those on TV and they don’t look very good” Well its been an interesting week since they arrived as the Pumpaloons have now become the boys best friends.
The Pumpaloons box contains two hand/foot pumps with the attachments to blow up the Pumpaloons, and of course the Pumpaloons themselves. The Pumpaloons are about 3ft high inflatable figures with a solid sand filled base and smiley faces! The game itself is simple. You have a race with your friend or in this case Mum/Dad to pump up your figure to full height before you opponent. I did think the boy would find limited appeal with this game, but have been proved wrong, as he has enjoyed finding other games to play with his new Pumpaloon friends.
Pumpaloons is a great game to encourage coordination, you can choose to pump with your foot, hand and the boy even tried using his bottom. We have enjoyed looking at how the pump works. There is science involved in how the air is sucked in and blown out of the small pump. Once pumped up there is a paddling pool type valve so you can enjoy using the Pumpaloons like the boy has for other games around the house.
The first new game he devised was an obstacle course with the Pumpaloons being the final task in a string of different ball throwing, water pistol shooting, tasks. Dad M and the boy enjoyed a few races, with trampolining bonus levels! The Pumpaloons have had wrestling matches across the living room floor, races, and are now waiting on the sofa for the return of the boy from school. Yesterday the Pumpaloons became criminals, dressed in the boys clothes were duly arrested before breaking out from maximum security jail.
I can see there will be lots of summer fun with the Pumpaloons, They will be making a visit to the beach with us for another obstacle race, and as the weather warms up I can see a paddling pool Pumpaloon game idea forming too.
Pumpaloons can be bought from all the main toy stores as well as online retailers, and we think will make a great addition to the outdoor game collection.
If you would like to invent your own fun Pumpaloon game, then why not enter my giveaway below, I would also love to see instagram pictures of you having some outdoor fun with your kids this summer.
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.
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.
Did you know its National Insect week? the perfect time to go out for a bug hunt with the Bug Safari from my Living world.
The set contains, all the tools for a trainee bug hunter or entomologist.
Field lens also known as a loupe you can get close and admire the insects without disturbing them, this little magnification lens is perfect for looking closely at your subjects.
Bug Tongs, these look a little like a large pair of scissors, but have a pot on the end, perfect for capturing your bugs for closer examination.
Magnifying pot, as the name suggests this great little pot means you can look close up at the insects you find.
Tweezers, these can be used for larger insects like beetles, but be careful not to hurt them or pick them up by the wings.
Paint Brush, and this indeed looks a little odd in the kit. The accompanying book explains that instead of using it for painting, you can use it to sweep delicate insects into your magnifying pot or bug tongs.
Finally the set includes a guide on insects, what to look for, how to use each item in your bug safari kit, and even some useful websites for you to find more information.
So with our Safari Kit, camera, the boy and I set off round the garden to see what we could find. I had spotted some small black beetles earlier in the day sunning themselves on the roses so we decided that was a good place to start.
We struck gold with our first insect. We found a tiny cricket sitting just waiting to be caught in our bug tongs. Once safely transferred to the Magnifying pot we were able to see this fascinating little creature in great detail. The boy was very excited about using the field lens, as he said it worked extra well for him as a glasses wearer. He could move it to the right distance for him to see the cricket in great detail. We looked at the bands on the crickets antenna, his mouth parts and even his eye colour, before returning him safely to finish sunning himself on the flowers.
Next the strawberry patch where you can guarantee to find woodlice, and ants. the boy was able to look at these easily without disturbing the frantic movements. The boy has already put the lens on a lanyard so he can explore the garden for insects without having to carry it. He loved the tongs although they did need a bit of getting used to, and the magnification pot is perfect for having a 360 degree view of your bugs.
The boy said he enjoys this set, and I am sure the little field lens will get plenty of use. The boy also said he enjoyed hunting for bugs, and looking at them in detail. While I think the Bug Safari is a little expensive for the contents at RRP £9.99, I think the tools are well made and will be useful for school projects in the future.
If you want to find out more about National Insect week have a look online at this website, and don’t forget to pop your insects safely back where you found them!
Disclaimer were sent this set for the purpose of review the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.
This week F is for… Flowers, and I have lots of different ones to choose from. I love the Alliums which I could never get to survive in my last garden but thrive in the flower bed outside my kitchen window. There is one flower in my garden that looks at its best this month and that is the rose. Apparently the last owner didn’t like them, but with more than 30 in the garden when we moved in he didn’t dislike them that much. I bought a few special ones with me, including one very dear rose who’s name I can’t remember. This particular rose was always know as Nan’s rose as I grew up, and grew in her front garden as a shrub rose. I spent many hours searching garden centres to find one for my own garden and finally 2 years came across a local grower who not only identified it but found one for me. I chose to buy it as a climbing rose to grow through my cherry tree and this will be the first year it has had a chance to flower properly.
I was inseparable from my Nan as a young girl, and spent all of my summers, holidays and weekends with my Nan. She was very much-loved by all the family, but will always be part of who I am. My only regret is that she never got to see who I am now, and meet my cheeky little boy who has something of her mischievous twinkle in his eye. So here is Nan’s Rose, climbing through the cherry tree for everyone to see. The smell is divine, and I smile every time I walk past.
I am trying desperately to reduce, reuse and recycle and one of our recycling Eco successes is reusing the pallets that our roof tiles arrived on. I hate throwing anything away, and am a terrible hoarder, but with some great sites like freecycle and ragging all our old textiles through the cubs I do think it is getting easier to be a little more Eco.
So this week I wanted to share with you our pallet recycling, runner bean growing, raised bed. Simply disassemble the pallet and then using the pieces cut to size my other half made this great raised bed. With the addition of a liner, some packaging to add drainage, compost, canes, and plants I am pleased with the patio sized veg garden.
If you have been inspired by the letter E, why not join in with PODcast alphabet photo challenge or have a look at our photos so far:
The half term was the perfect excuse to get out in the garden and check on the progress of our fruit and veg. I had hoped that we would be planting a few more vegetables but once again my seed growing skills have failed me.
The strawberry’s are looking pretty good, and if I can get to them before the woodlice then we will be having a bumper crop. The fruit on the red currant, blackcurrant and blackberry bushes are also looking good, and now I will need to start thinking about making room in the freezer for a bumper harvest.
I have planted out our latest delivery of plants from Potter and Rest who sent us some lovely herbs and an unusual plant called a Stevia. This is a new plant for me and although I had heard of the name I hadn’t realised that the plant could be grown in the UK. Now confession time! I re-potted the stevia and it was looking very happy, but then Dad M decided it needed watering and I think he drowned it! I will have to go out and replace it now as I had planned to try and make a sugar syrup with the leaves, it is supposed to make a good substitute for sugar.
The flowers in the garden are looking quite magical, my rhododendrons are just finishing and the poppy’s and lilies’ are about to start flowering. The garlic and onions that the boy planed earlier in the year with his new Twigz tools are looking very healthy and we will be trying out some recipe’s soon.
The boy enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline which we have pulled out to clear and mend as the trees around it were getting a bit overgrown. As usual the trampoline will get a lot of use in the coming months, and the boy loves to make up new games, now the holes in the net will need mending, but this garden toy has been by far our best investment.
It was great getting out in the fresh air, and I hope the weather lasts so we can enjoy our green garden space more over the coming months.
I spotted a fun linky last week over at PODcast and missed out on the letter A, yes this is an #alphabetphoto linky, and it looked like everyone was having so much fun finding pictures, not all of which were obvious that I thought I would have a go.
So here are my pictures for the letter B
B is for Box, I am rather pleased with how my little box chicken has turned out this year. After a little hair cut with my Fiskars multi tool he is looking a little bit like a chicken, and there are plenty of other B’s in the garden, with bud’s and Bugs.
Thanks to PODcast for a fun linky, hopefully see you next week.
Country Craft is a blogger challenge to make something crafty with a 100cm x 100cm square of fabric from the new collection available from Hilary’s Blinds. The fabric choice was from Bird Parade, Calluna, Wild Poppies and Patina. I chose Calluna as I had already had an idea of what I wanted to make. When the piece of fabric arrived I was surprised how big the 100cm square was, ok I knew the size but it still looked huge! I realised there was much more than I needed for the first craft idea I had, had. I set about thinking of something different to make, the Calluna fabric pattern was inspired by the textures of moorland heather and with this in mind I decided I would make something useful for the garden.
Here is my step by step guide to making a gardening apron, and kneeler.
For the apron you will need the following:
5 pieces of fabric cut to the following sizes, Body 55cm x 22cm, Pocket 60cm x 18cm, waist band 56cm x 10cm, 2 x ties 10cm by the length needed to tie between 65cm – 75cm each.
Bias Binding, I made mine by following this you tube video, it was easy to follow and I had some scrap fabric, you will also need a bias binding tool which folds the material while you iron it flat. Alternatively you can purchase bias binding from most needlework stores.
Sewing machine, cotton, needle, pins, scissors, sewing machine, ruler, fabric chalk or pencil, chop stick or knitting needle.
After cutting the material you start by sewing bias binding across the top of the pocket, simply pin and stitch the bias binding straight across the top. The next step is to pin the pocket to the front of the body piece of fabric. The pocket is slightly longer, allowing you to make small pleats in 2 of the pockets. I wanted 6 pockets and marked the fabric with chalk at the following intervals from left to right. 10cm, 12cm, 10cm, 12cm, 6cm, 6cm with two small pleats in the two larger pockets. You can mark the pockets out at whatever sizes you like and this apron could also be useful around the house so design to suit your tools.
Once you have pinned the pocket stitch along the marked lines making sure you double stitch the top of each pocket well as this will get the most wear. Next I rounded the two bottom corners by using a glass as a template. Trim and then edge the whole outside of the fabric with your bias binding excluding the top edge where we will be fitting the waistband.
Once stitched you will need to make the two ties, take the two pieces of fabric. Fold each in half with the pattern inside and stitch 5mm from the edge down one short and the long side making a tube. Once stitched each of the ties will need to be turned in the right way and using a chop stick or knitting needle poke out the corners and iron flat. I stitched my ends at a slight angle as this looks nice but is not essential.
Once you have both ties, pin and stitch them to the top either side of the body fabric. I again made a small pleat to each, and double stitched with a cross pattern as this will take the weight of any tools you use the apron for.
Next to add the waistband, you will need to iron a 5mm hem around the edge of fabric, then fold and iron. This will neaten up all the edges as you attach this over the top of the body fabric and over to the back. Double check that all the edges meet as at this point you can shorten the fabric. I found that I did needed to re iron a couple of times to make sure that the waistband covered all my edges and fitted neatly.
Once stitched in place, simply finish off any loose cotton and you will have this great and versatile apron. I am forever having to wander back to the shed for things I have forgotten so I know this will prove a very useful addition to my gardening basket. I still had plenty of fabric left so decided to make a kneeler to match.
For the Kneeler you will need
Foam, I bought mine from Dunelm Mill, for £3.80 and this dictated the size of my kneeler. Mine was 56cm x 50cm and I cut it in half to make it double height.
Piece of fabric a little bigger than your foam size.
Piece of oil cloth or PVC fabric big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your foam. I bought some PVC fabric usually used for a table-cloth. It cost £5 for 1/2 metre.
pins, cotton, sewing machine, scissors, ruler and a marker pen.
This project proved a little more difficult than the apron and if I did it again I would have made it a little differently. I cut the PVC big enough to cover the bottom and sides of my foam. Then pin each of the four corners in place to fit. Stitch each of these, and I double stitched as they will get some wear. Then turn the PVC inside out, pin and stitch the fabric again inside out to the top of the PVC on three sides, leaving a gap big enough to turn out and fit your foam through.
I made a handle for my kneeler and this was made by cutting a rectangle of left over PVC fabric and stitching the same way you made the ties for the apron. Simply twist and stitch into place on one of the sides. Once you have wrestled the foam back into the kneeler. (This was tricky as I hate the feel of foam, its like nails down a chalk board. not something I plan on doing again in a hurry!) Then you will need to hand sew up the remaining seam, I found this tricky as the PVC is quite tough to sew so you may need a very sharp needle.
Once complete I am very happy with the kneeler as it is much thicker than my shop bought one. Backing the kneeler with PVC means it is wipe able and will not soak up any moisture from the ground.
I still had a few scraps of fabric left from my project and I decided I didn’t want these to go to waste. So with a little bit of chopping I had just enough material to make a string of bunting for my summer-house! This is the most simple way to brighten up a dull corner.
For the Bunting
You will need fabric scraps, bias binding, pins cotton, knitting needle or chop stick, and scissors.
Simply cut triangles using a template to make them all the same. I like an odd number so for a 7 string of bunting you will need 14 triangles. The Calluna material has a lovely gradient pattern so with some careful cutting I was able to get lighter and darker pieces and use these alternatively along the row. You could use old scraps of fabric or even cut up some old clothes.
Stitch the v shape and trim, turn in the right way, then iron and pin inside your bias binding. Check you have both the front and back tucked in the bias binding then stitch.
I was amazed how far I managed to make the fabric stretch and If I had purchased the fabric as well as the few extra bits needed for this project the cost would still have been less than £15 for all 3 items. I don’t have a fancy sewing machine either so anyone should be able to make these items on any machine.
So here are my finished crafts, and I am very pleased with the results as I will be able to use these in the garden this summer. The bunting is a little bit of fun and matches my summer-house beautifully making it a place I will enjoy sitting in for my well deserved cuppa!
This is my entry into the Hillary’s Blinds Country Crafts competition.