Traidcraft Toys Fair Trade Review

Traidcraft is the UK’s leading fair trade organisation fighting poverty through trade, practising and promoting approaches to trade that help poor people in developing countries transform their lives. Traidcraft toys and products are traceable back to their producers whose stories they tell on their product pages and product packaging. This is also a way of ‘buying local’ for us as Traidcraft is based just down the road from us!

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I was offered the opportunity to review a Fair Trade product with Traidcraft, and given Joss’ birthday was coming up and she is getting very involved in roleplay I thought it would be nice for us to try out this little wooden teaset I prefer to buy wooden toys as they’re long lasting and sustainable and knowing where products have come from and that their producers are making a good living as well as working in a quality environment is so important.

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I found the site easy to navigate and enjoyable to browse, the toy arrived promptly, was packaged up securely in plastic all ready to be played with, napkins folded and lids in place and I thought that the tag that was enclosed was a great way to highlight the importance of buying fair trade and letting someone know about fair trade if that was received as a gift.

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We set up a birthday party, Joss decided that the ‘Easter Rabbit’ and Dinobob were invited!
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This is a real toddler friendly set, long lasting and made from wood this is a gift that will grow with her, the pieces are small enough to fit in little hands and the detailing is gorgeous, especially the little napkins, they were an unexpected treat as when I saw the photos online I didn’t know they’d be included, the flower shaped coasters are really well made too! As I’d hoped she chatted away to her rabbit, this photo captured the question “would you like some tea with your breakfast?”

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A happy accident, we discovered that the pieces fit with her little kitchen set perfectly too!

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This is currently priced at £20, about what I’d expect to pay for a well made handmade and hand painted toy and knowing its provenance makes this a really special gift, tackling poverty and supporting small producers rather than the big toy chains.

We're going on an adventure

Non-scary pumpkin carving with kids!

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J is really interested in Halloween this year and has been getting really excited about it. She has had her bat outfit on more than once already and has been trying to cast magic spells with her wand. Enjoying Halloween with her has been great fun so far and I wanted to find a way to make a great looking Pumpkin whilst keeping her fingers intact and not terrifying her (she’s only three!)

My solution to carving the Pumpkin safely was to do the cutting and preparing myself and enlist Joss’ help with the rest. Once the top of the pumpkin was cut off, Joss spread glue all over it and sprinkled glitter / jewels on top (and got a fair amount stuck to her hands too!) While she was decorating, I quickly scooped most of the flesh and seeds out in preparation for carving.

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Instead of carving a scary face into the pumpkin, I thought something more ‘pretty’ to go with the lovingly made lid provided by Joss would be nice. I used cookie / pastry cutters to make shapes in the pumpkin by hammering it gently into the sides with a rolling pin. Joss was able to help with this too and we chose a heart shaped design which we hammered all the way around and I used a sharp knife occassionally to help the cutter through.

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One of the nice things about this way of carving / decorating the pumpkin is that the glitter / jewels look good in the daytime and the shapes look great at night with the candlelight so you can make a display on a windowsill or as a table centrepiece that looks good throughout the day. Happy Halloween!

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Cooking with kids: Rusty’s Winter Warmer Granola

Enlist the help of your toddler to make a healthy, tasty and pure Granola that’ll give you something guilt-free to look forward to every morning.

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Ingredients:

I use about 100 grams each of the below nuts / seeds:-

Linseed – great plant source of omega 3 fats, adds a nice crunchy texture to the granola

Walnuts – omega 3 fats, can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, source of antioxidants, good for your brain

Pecans – Great source of vitamin E which is important for healthy skin

Brazil nuts – rich in mono-unsaturated fats, vitamin E

Almonds – good source of magnesium which is good for a healthy heart, potassium, vitamin E

Sunflower seeds – lots of Magnesium, vitamin E, Selenium (may be good for preventing cancers)

Pumpkin seeds – contain Zinc which is great for your immune system, mood, sleep, skin (and more)

Dried, diced papaya and / or pineapple – taste great

One large cooking apple – for binding the granola

Honey – so good for you in so many ways I can’t list them all here and anyway you need it to bind the granola together

Oats – I use quick cook oats as they’re easier to buy in a supermarket but simple rolled oats are a longer lasting energy source

How to

Slice up the large cooking apple into chunks and put in a pan with three or four tablespoons cold water. Put a lid on and give it 5-10 minutes at a low – medium heat. Have a look and give it a mix. Once it’s the texture of apple sauce take it off the heat and put it to one side while you prepare the rest of the granola.

This is where your toddler will love helping. Show her all the nuts you’ve bought for your granola and tell her what they are, what’s good for her about them and encourage her to have a taste (being mindful about allergies and choking – you know your own kids). She won’t like all of them but will hopefully like some. Eating nuts is a great habit to get children into – they’re great for snacking and keep really well. Very healthy in moderation.

Now help your toddler to pour all of the nuts into a big, strong freezer bag. Seal up the bag (be sure to squeeze the air out first) and get a rolling pin. On a large chopping board or tough surface, help your toddler to smash the nuts up with the rolling pin. Keep her fingers out of the way and be sure to make some serious noise. I personally like to make monkey noises as loudly as possible with Joss. It’s a fun way to let off some steam and smile. If the noise is too much for you or someone else at home, you could provide some monkey ear muffs for the duration. I try not to worry about the size of the nut fragments, it’s nice to have a bit of a mixture for texture and crunch.

Get a big mixing bowl and pour in 500 grams oats, the smashed up nuts, seeds and dried papaya / pineapple. Ask your toddler to give it a quick mix to make sure the nuts and seeds are evenly distributed.

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Now take the pan of cooked apple from earlier which should still be warm. Help your toddler to add 2 – 4 tablespoons of honey and mix in. You can use whatever honey you like but I really like using an orange blossom honey for the citrus taste. I add a couple of teaspoons of ground cinnamon too and then ask Joss to mix it up really well, trying to make sure the cinnamon is well combined, get your toddler to have a smell, amazing!

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Ask your toddler to spoon about half of the apple / honey / cinnamon mixture into the bowl of oats, nuts, seeds and fruit and mix it in well with a big spoon. Once she has combined as much as possible, add the rest of the apple sauce mix too and ask her to give that a good stir in. You might need to help out to ensure that everything is well mixed in. The whole mixture should end up quite stodgy and moist. If it doesn’t fit this description you can always add another tablespoon or two of honey to help it stick together.

Preheat your oven to around 140 – 160 celsius and spread the mixture out thinly onto baking trays. The last time we made it, the mixture covered 6 baking trays so we had to cook it in three goes. Put each round of baking trays into the oven for around 10 – 15 minutes, checking regularly and redistributing on the tray if necessary. A little browned is ok, but take care not to burn it. Once done, leave out for a few minutes to cool down and fully dry out. Break up gently and store in an airtight container.

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I eat Rusty’s granola with either coconut milk or natural yogurt and a little honey. You could try adding fresh fruit to it as well. This granola lasts me a month; don’t overdo it – there are a lot of nuts and seeds in this granola so probably 3 or 4 tablespoons is enough for breakfast. What a great treat on those autumn / winter mornings!

Optional: I sometimes add finely chopped, crystallised ginger before baking. Use in moderation but it’s a brilliant winter warmer!

Five Newcastle Gems for Family Days Out

Last weekend I made like a tourist and took J on an open top bus tour of our own fair city. There’s a lot to be said for taking the time to remember what you love about your surroundings, and it was lovely for Joss to take a different view of the toon landmarks that she’s growing to know and love as much as I do. As we made our way, windswept and chilly she shouted out “I’ve been to that Park” and “we go there!”

For the reasonable price of £8 per adult, and with under fives going free, you can hop on and hop off the bus along the hour long route, I highly recommend dressing warmly if you’re going to sit on the top deck, but it’s such an adventure for public transport loving little ones!

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When Travelodge Newcastle asked me about Newcastle’s hidden gems for visitors I thought back to the bus route and the things J paid particular attention to on the way.

Five Newcastle Gems for Family Days Out

I think our favourite places in town are great for visitors and local alike. Whatever the season, whatever the weather Leazes Park is perfect for a walk, wrapping up and crunching through the autumn leaves, and gathering conkers and acorns is one of my favourite things to do in town. There are some fab little eateries up there, including Red Mezze and Bar Loco for great value grazing.

We often have a walk through the park before a visit to our favourite family museum The Hancock (or Great North Museum). If your kids love history, animals or dinosaurs they’ll love the Hancock’s longstanding exhibitions, younger ones will love playing in the Mouse House playroom and we keep going month in month out because their special exhibitions are superb. At the moment there’s a great exhibition, Spineless, about invertebrates featuring new specimens, games, activities and lots of opportunities for dressing up – ladybird selfie anyone?! One of our hidden gems is Mark Toney’s Ice Cream Parlour up by Haymarket Metro, the sundaes are great value and a real old fashioned treat for kids.

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Down Northumberland Street you’ll find two of J’s favourite places to pop in and relax, The Laing Art Gallery and Newcastle City Library – both have little reading nooks and play areas for younger children and with plenty of events and heritage collections at the Library, and great value exhibitions at the Laing there’s always something to browse for all ages. As an aside, if you’re ever in town and stuck for a gift or a card both the Library and the Laing have fantastic local contributions, I’ve been known to do most of my Christmas shopping in the Laing!

Heading straight down to the Quayside (but if it’s lunchtime popping into our favourite cafe, Panis, for a quick pasta lunch!) there’s a lot to be said for taking some time out by the River Tyne.  As an aside if you’re planning on staying in Newcastle the Newcastle Central Travelodge is located at the riverside so a good place to pick up the Hop On Hop Off bus!  We’re usually pretty eager to head over the Gateshead Millenium Bridge to get to the Baltic. J likes to head straight for their children’s activity area where there’s usually a crafty activity set up, I like to browse the exhibitions and often pop back two or three times to see my favourites, this summer Fiona Tan was particularly enjoyed but there’s always something to pique my interest. Heading up onto the viewing platform gives a sublime view of the Tyne Bridge, one of my favourite landmarks, and on a nice day you get a great view of the river towards the Ouseburn.

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This completed our bus tour of the toon, we headed back to Central Station and chatted about the things we’d seen on the way home.

Do you have any favourite family haunts in Newcastle? We’d love to hear about your hidden gems!

Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Travelodge

Karcher asks: How long does it take to clean your house?

When Karcher asked me this question I could answer it no problem at all as I have a pretty tight cleaning schedule. I’ve also halved the time it takes to clean our family home since April this year because I’ve followed Marie Kondo‘s advice and more than halved the ‘stuff’ that we own!

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How long is enough?

I spend 8 hours a week on all of our general cleaning and household chores, running a tight ship where various days are earmarked for washing, clothes sorting and bathroom cleaning.

Working from home I generally use 30 minutes of my hour long lunchbreak to tackle some household tasks, washing on, hoovering, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and prepping a meal for the slowcooker, then when J is in bed I do the quieter jobs, folding and putting away clothes, making lunches for the next day and washing the pots and clearing surfaces. I find weekends are a time I try to protect as family time so less happens on a weekend and on Monday lunchtime I tend to do a bit of catching up but generally I find we have a clean and tidy home that takes a lot less effort than it did when we had double the amount of stuff!

My least favourite task is cleaning the bathroom, but it’s probably the most satisfying to see sparkling white tiles, the task I least mind is washing the dishes as I like to use the time to think, and plan ahead for the rest of the week!

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A monumental task?

Slightly harder to answer was the second question Karcher posed, how long, in hours did I think it would take to clean Mount Rushmore! What? Well my washing pile is fondly known as Mount Washmore so I guess longer than my usual hour spent washing and folding each week?!

The monumental heads of the American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were created from 1927 to 1941 by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum. They measure around 18 m (60 ft) from crown to chin – I’d guess it must have taken Karcher, who cleaned them first in 2005 200 hours?! I’ve used and loved a Karcher power cleaner but not on anything like this scale!

A spot of fun!

If you’d like to find out for yourself, watch videos of the Karcher team in action, and also challenge yourself about the other various worldwide monuments Karcher has cleaned you can check out their fun quiz and make yourself feel relieved that you have what will then seem like a rather manageable sized home to clean rather than a national treasure! Do let me know how you fared, my geography isn’t as great as I thought, so I won’t be shouting my score from the rooftops!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post all views are my own

Mental Health and BuddyBox – a hug in a box

Founded in 2011, The Blurt Foundation is a community interest company that exists to support, help and inspire people affected by depression.  BuddyBox was born out of Blurt Foundation’s belief that whilst depression can’t be treated with ‘things’ we all need to pay attention to ourselves, self care is something I’m really interested in both as someone who runs a pre/perinatal mental health support group and as someone who sometimes needs a reminder to attend to my own needs.  I generally find winter a really challenging time and I try to pay extra attention to my mental health as I know that if I don’t do the things I know that keep me healthy, like practicing mindfulness and taking the time to rest, I can get into a downward spiral.

The BuddyBox is effectively a clever care package aimed at letting a loved one know you’re thinking about them, and it’s a really kind gesture, a sometimes much-needed hug in a box.
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Mental Health and BuddyBox

If you know someone who is struggling, it can be difficult to show your support.  The new BuddyBox subscription care package makes a thoughtful gift for anyone who could do with a boost. And if you’re living with depression, buying a subscription for yourself is a great way to enjoy a little self-care.

Every month a new BuddyBox is released, a special box filled with things to help, inspire and comfort those with depression. Each box has a different theme – for example, products and tips for a good night’s sleep or items to recharge the body and mind.  I was sent the September BuddyBox to review.  I thought the contents were thoughtful, well put together and I sensed that anyone receiving this as a gift would feel nurtured by the contents.

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A monthly subscription costs £21.50 per month (there’s also a lite version, and you can buy a one off box too) and the contents of the box reflect the cost, as Blurt Foundation is a community interest company some of the proceeds from boxes support Blurt Foundation’s mental health advocacy.

In my £21.50 box I received:

– 4 postcards including a lovely one to leave in a public place as a random act of buddybox kindness :)

– Tisserand energy roller

– Cafe Direct hot chocolate

– Colouring sheets

– May the Thoughts be With You book by Charlotte Reed

– Seeds with a message

The energy roller is my favourite item in this month’s box, uplifting and an on the go item that I can take about with me I thought this was a lovely addition for pepping me up with amood boosting romatherapy oils, the quirky colouring sheets are much appreciated and a nice addition for someone thinking about buying a mindfulness colouring book who wants to give ‘grown up colouring’ a go.

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May the Thoughts Be With You is something to dip into when you need a pick me up or a reminder that you’re not alone in your feelings.

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If you’re looking for a little self-care, or want to surprise a friend with a thoughtful pick me up BuddyBox is a simple and effective idea – why not send a hug in a box? Whilst you’re browsing read more on the Blurt Foundation’s site about mental health too, lots of fab resources to be found there!

Take care x

Organic September Round Up

I’ve a bumper Organic round up this month as it’s Organic September, the month when Soil Association encourage us to make a small change in our shopping, an organic swap, to make a big difference to people, animals and the environment.

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Food

This month I’m kicking off with food, and what a great swap cereal could be, starting your day the organic way! This month I’ve been starting my day with Lizi’s Organic Granola. Sweetened with organic agave syrup, the lowest glycaemic sugar, Lizi’s Granola is everything I like in toasted oats, it’s not overly sweet like the sugary cereals I try to avoid, instead it’s really nutty and has that comforting golden toasty taste that makes for a really moreish start to the day. The addition of pistachios makes this granola sing, and packed full of nuts and seeds alongside oats you get a brilliant slow releasing energy, it’s easy to see why Lizi’s B&B customers were crazy about her granola!

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Next up Vita Coco Coconut Oil. Extra virgin, no nasty chemicals, organic, 100% raw and cold-pressed with all of it’s natural goodness this is one I’ve been meaning to try for a little while, I’ve been using coconut oil on J’s skin and in our cooking and baking for about a year now and it’s great to try an organic version. This is an easy swap for me as I really liked the quality of the oil, I was impressed because the one I’ve been buying can be a little grainy, I’m not sure why that is, but it doesn’t seem to have the same purity Vita Coco has. I’ve been using the small jar in my handbag for moisturising on the go (coconut oil is a great all rounder in this respect) and the large jar for cooking, I recently discovered Deliciously Ellas’s date and oat bars so I’ve been using Vita Coco to make afternoon snacks too, with great results!

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Beauty

Gold award winner in the free from skincare awards 2015 Skin Revivals organic facial cleansing oil from Beauty Naturals is a bit of a gem and is a product I have recommended heartily this month, priced at just £12 this really is a superb cleanser, and a brilliant price. It removed every trace of my waterproof mascara leaving a really luxe soft finish, the rosy geranium scent is really gently relaxing and the blend of oils avocado, sweet almond, sunflower, jojoba, wheatgerm and rosehip seed work a treat on my dry patches. The packaging is very simple but don’t let that put you off, what’s inside is liquid gold!

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Another oil that’s bringing love to my bathroom cabinet is Khadi Amla ayurvedic hair oil. I loved the pipette applicator, it made applying the oil really simple, I use a hair oil regularly as I have a dry scalp and they tend to smell a little boring, I loved the smell of the organic Amla oil, rich and relaxing and herbal, which I love and which is needed as this is a pre-wash treatment and Khadi recommend leaving the product in the hair for an hour or two before washing, or overnight, I found the gentle scent very relaxing. Amla is one of the world’s oldest natural hair conditioners, I didn’t know much about it so I googled and it’s apparently an Indian gooseberry, hence the green colour of the oil!

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Marili skincare has children at its heart, fun and with a wild side! Inspired by Zimbabwe’s nature and wildlife, Marili Skincare is a newcomer to the children’s organic bath and body market. The product range is SLS, paraben, petrochemical and mineral oil free, with packaging designed with a wild animal design to make bath time more fun. The Hair & Body Washes are available in Strawberry & Honey and Caramel & Honey and we used them after our weekly swim this month, the scents are appealing to children without being overpowering, I’ve also been using the Papaya Foaming Face Wash, a great foaming cleanser with neroli and papaya this would be brilliant for introducing teens to a skincare regime! The lipbalms are a lovely soft texture with a not too sweet flavour but the chocolate one is a firm fave as it’s delicious! I loved the funky packaging and Joss loved the rhyme on the hair and body wash packaging, great for singing in the shower!!

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Clothing

Boody Bamboo Eco Wear has been exclusively sourced and developed with up to 95% organic and chemical free bamboo yarn mixed with a touch of nylon and elastin to create a fabric that is soft, stretchy and wrinkle free. It’s a new to the UK Australian brand that I find really exciting. I love bamboo childrenswear but adult clothing is really hard to come by. I reviewed Boody’s scoop neck top and was blown away by the quality of the fabric.

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Seamfree, warm and soft I’ve worn it alone, and under my favourite dresses and cardigans to give an extra warm layer. I’m no fashion blogger but I am a busy working parent so this photo well captures how I’ve been wearing Boody! I love wearable wardrobe staples and I’ve added Boody leggings to my winter shopping list!

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If you’re making a switch to Organic in September I’d love to hear about what you’re up to, leave a comment, I’d love to get your ideas!

Disclaimer: Products reviewed were sent to me as samples, all views and photos are my own

Big issues: Save Syria’s Children #savesyriaschildren

In the Syrian conflicts fifth year civil war continues to devastate children’s lives, living in fear, being denied an education, hospitals destroyed and fleeing war. Refugee resettlement isn’t a new issue, this hasn’t somehow just reached fever pitch, the scenes in Calais and Hungary are simply the tip of the iceberg and the world can no longer avert its gaze.

Humanitarian Disaster

People didn’t expect and many didn’t like the picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi appearing on their newsfeeds, Aylan’s tiny body was washed up on a beach in Turkey, this beautiful little boy the same age as my daughter, sadly his photograph is the one thing that has made people pay attention and so I won’t apologise for sharing it. These are real people, real children, fleeing, it could have been my daughter, your son.

There are millions more children just like Aylan who need help; the refugee crisis isn’t going to go away and I feel we have a moral obligation to join together and act accordingly. This is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time – The U.N. estimates that 7.6 million people are internally displaced. When you also consider refugees, more than half of the Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, whether they still remain in the country or have escaped across the borders. As we have seen, the risks of the journey to the border can be as high as the risks of staying, imagine weighing this up for your children, what choice do you have, what chance do they have?

Do something

The groundswell of grassroots campaigning and organising that I have been following has heartened me (North East Solidarity with Calais Refugees for local readers but there are lots of other local groups springing up nationally), people organising collections of goods and clothing, tents and shelters, encouraging donations and organising protests, ordinary people who want to stand together and say yes, we see you, we hear you, we stand by you. People asked what real difference can we as individuals make, we can speak with one voice and say refugees are welcome, we can raise awareness and we can give our money, time and resources. When I was contacted by a group of bloggers who suggested we get together as use our blogs as a collective voice I thought this was another way I could be involved.  I love how the blogging community gets behind a cause and each other and feel privileged to be part of this.

It could have been me

I am using my blog post to say ‘it could have been me’ and am making a donation to Save the Children as well as getting involved in local community activities.

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You can make a donation by TEXTING 70008 and the word SYRIA to donate £5 (see T&Cs) or you can make a web donation

There’s lots that you could do from the comfort of your own home.

Please don’t turn a blind eye.

Do Something to help.

Anything.

Whatever you decide, don’t choose apathy

#savesyriaschildren

A jar of Seaham Seaglass

This summer Joss and I have visited the beach every week, exploring the Northumberland and Tyne and Wear coastlines and we’ve loved it!

When Think Money challenged us to fill a jam jar with our holiday memories for their Jam j-art project I had an idea that it would have a beachy theme, little did I know the treasure that would eventually come to fill our lovely kilner jar as we start to get ready for preschool!

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Our seaside visits took us to Seaham Beach, famed for its treasures – seaglass! Seaham seaglass is pretty special stuff. until almost a century ago there was a glassworks at Seaham and waste glass from the hand blown bottles was tipped into the sea, years on and polished by the sea these marine treasures can be found by keen eyed beachcombers. End of day glass is especially prized, tipped into the sea at the end of the day these pieces are multicoloured and so pretty!

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On our first trip we found a few small pieces which I blogged about at the time, and by the end of the summer we’d become a little bit addicted to the hunt and ended up with some beauties!

These are my favourites:

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Displayed in our kilner jar they’re a reminder of a summer of adventure, and as I’ve lightly oiled some of the more dense pieces to give a gorgeous glow keeping them under a lid keeps them dust free and vibrant!

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A ProjectLife tag with the date tied with some lovely ribbon from a dollypeg makes this a great memento!

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Disclaimer: Think Money provided me with the Kilner jar and a contribution towards project materials, all words and photographs are my own

#LoveNorthEast

Tutorfair – helping kids succeed

When I was doing my GCSEs I had a really hard time with Maths, given I now work with statistics and adore data this probably seems crazy but I really found it hard to follow the GCSE syllabus and consequently spent many an unhappy hour crying over my textbook knowing I would face an overly strict teacher the next day. It was the pits, I dreaded the lessons, maths coursework had me a wreck and I felt very anxious about my grades.

My saving grace early in year 10 was a Maths tutor my parents found via an ex-teacher, Jo was brilliant, she came to my parents home once a week and spent an hour building my confidence, more than that I started to see a path through the haze of numbers and algebra slowly didn’t feel like Spanish to me. Jo encouraged me to lighten up a bit, she was someone I looked up to, and unlike my teacher who didn’t have the time to show me the basics that I had picked up wrongly she started afresh and it started to ‘click’. Some of this work took place in the summer holidays where I had the mental space from school to concentrate on key skills.

My parents and I would say that this tutoring was worth every penny, I couldn’t have continued on the same path without it and although my parents weren’t rich they saw how the tutoring increased my confidence and I think this made the expense worthwhile.

Tutorfair is a website that makes tutoring accessible for all. It’s easy to use, you search by putting in your postcode and subject, and voila, it picks the best tutor near you. Fifteen years ago we were lucky to find Jo, so I think anything that opens up the possibilities and makes tutoring more accessible has to be a good thing!

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View everything from qualifications to videos of tutors, so you can get a better idea of what they are like and make the right choice for your child. Online payment makes booking easy, and if you’re not totally satisfied with your tutor after your first lesson, Tutorfair will give you your money back.

The big difference between Tutorfair and other traditional tutoring agencies is that Tutorfair gives something back – for every student who pays, Tutorfair gives free tutoring to a child can’t (the ‘fair’ bit).

Tutorfair’s Mark Maclaine really nicely illustrates the experience I had from tutoring and I would seek the same for J if she needed it. Mark talks about Comfort, Stretch and Panic Zones. In the ‘comfort’ zone, the learners are highly familiar with the situation. This includes everything they already know and tasks they can do almost without thinking. Students are comfortable here, feeling like they are in full control. But they are not learning. At the other end of the scale, in the ‘panic’ zone the situation is highly stressful or can seem dangerous to the learner. In this zone there is often a perception that the skill required for success is so far out of reach that it’s not even worth trying. Students in this zone can be overwhelmed, feeling like they have no control, and may ‘shut down’ entirely.

This was where I was when I really needed some support with my Maths. The trick to growth is to be somewhere in the middle, where the student is slightly uncomfortable but still learning. Mark hits the nail on the head when he says “a child who feels shame may find it hard to approach the teacher, but if your students are comfortable approaching you with concerns you can solve problems early on. The same thing goes for a parent. Opening up this dialogue with children helps them feel comfortable about coming to you if they ever feel overwhelmed in the future.”

With some careful support I succeeded in reaching the ideal zone for me, I was stretched and learning, but the panic lessened and I went on to improve from a predicted D grade to a B grade in my GCSEs, and I now know that there are many strands to Math, I love stats and I haven’t looked at algebra since!

Disclaimer: post in collaboration with Tutorfair