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Fun Family Activity: Campfire & Marshmallows

If you read my recent post 'An honest account of a family walk with a three year old,' you'll know that sometimes Arthur can be a little monkey (well that's the polite way of putting it) but at the same time, he can also be the cutest child ever.

Last week he came down with a rather nasty cold and after deciding to keep him off nursery for a couple of mornings to get better, I asked him what he'd like to do at the weekend to cheer him up. "Can we do campfire and marshmallows, with Arthur, Mummy and Daddy? My family!" he asked excitedly. My heart melted. It sounded like the cutest idea and the answer was a resounding YES.
I did wonder where he'd got the idea from, after all it's not really your average request from a three year old. Turns out he'd seen them doing it on an episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines. I think we'd probably watched that episode about five times in a row...so really, I should have guessed!
Love that Arthur gets involved with his toy chainsaw!
Sunday is family day, so after heading out to the beach for a quick stroll (it was beautiful but far too windy to stay there long) we picked up a bag of marshmallows for toasting and went into the paddock to find the perfect log. You see, Josh had spent time planning the type of campfire we were going to make and decided on a Swedish fire log. It's one of the things I love most about him. He'll do anything for that little boy and put his all into it.
Images by smithy.1990
Anyway, back to the Swedish fire log - it's meant to be one of the most efficient camp fires you can make because it is compact, self-contained and self-feeding. You only need a single log but make sure it's as dry as possible. The next step is to make slots in the top of it, which Josh did super quickly with his chainsaw (and Arthur 'helped' with his toy version!) There's a full tutorial on making and lighting a Swedish fire log on Fresh Off The Grid, which you may find useful if you want to have a go.
Admittedly, it took us a while to light but was totally worth the wait (and freezing cold hands!) Arthur's little face was beaming when he got to taste his toasted marshmallow and although a little scared of the fire (it never hurts to be cautious) he braved having a go with help. I tried my first ever toasted marshmallow (no I didn't have a sheltered childhood, I'm just fussy) and although I don't really like the texture, toasted they're quite tasty!
We were out there for over an hour and it was just such a lovely end to our weekend. Arthur went to bed a very happy boy and we warmed up with a bowl of my Mum's homemade Moussaka for tea. Often the simplest of times can feel the most special and I feel so lucky I get to make so many wonderful memories with my boys.

Did you have a weekend well spent? I'd love to hear about it!

Meg x

3 ways to Save Money on Furnishing & Decorating your Home

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Photo by Eneida Nieves
We all know just how hard it is to buy a house these days and I have to admit, if it wasn't for my partner, it would still be completely out of the question for our family. Property prices in our local area are very high, so we've been exploring our options and looking into other, less traditional possibilities, such as self-build homes, which are often more affordable and made from sustainable materials.

It's not just the expense of buying or building a property that you have to consider though. The decorating and furnishing of your property needs to be factored into your budget too. After all, it's these personal touches that will turn a place from 'house' to 'home.'

The good news is, if you're willing to think a little outside the box and embrace sustainability, there are plenty of ways you can save money on styling your home...
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Upcycle Furniture

There's nothing wrong with collecting ideas from homeware magazines and browsing the latest furniture collections online but consider this - not everything you buy for your home needs to be new. In fact, you can save a lot of money by upcycling old furniture and giving it a new lease of life. 

Both myself and my partner share a love for vintage and rustic furniture. We find it more homely and plan to upcycle as much as possible. We've been lucky enough to receive a few pieces of furniture from family that we'll be able to do up for our future home. Most pieces just need a little TLC but we also plan to reupholster a lovely armchair we've been given, so it's more to our taste. Sure, it'll take time but it'll be worth it.

Buy Secondhand

Facebook Marketplace is the go-to site for picking up good quality, secondhand furniture, for next to nothing. It's also a great place for purchasing white goods like fridges and freezers too. There's no buying or selling fees involved and you can narrow down your search to your local area, so you won't spend a fortune on fuel either!

Did you know you can also avoid buying new and save a lot of money on bigger purchases like your kitchen? Ex Display Kitchens are a fantastic way of getting an almost new kitchen but for a more affordable price. There are companies out there that specialise in second hand kitchens and other things like bathroom suites, so it's definitely worth doing a little research. It's an ethical choice that makes financial sense too.
Photo by rawpixel.com

DIY Projects

You can save a lot of money when doing up your home by doing as much as you can yourself (or y'know roping in your family and friends to help!) I am extremely lucky that both my partner and my dad love making things and are really good at it too. Josh has so many unique ideas for furniture he wants to make for our home and I love that they'll give it a really personal touch. My dad also used to have a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom fitting business, so I'm hoping to call in a favour (or fifty) when the time comes!

Although I'm not so handy with a hammer and saw, I'm not too shabby when it comes to painting. My mum and I made a wonderful job of the tearoom we owned a couple of years ago. It was hard work but we saved ourselves so much money on a painter and decorator! I plan to do the same with our future house.

Have you got any more tips to help save money on decorating and furnishing your home? I'd love to hear them so share below or tweet me @meganjane03.

Meg x

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The Pawfection Pack Treat Box Review

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Blogger mail usually has my name on it, sometimes Arthur's but last week a brown paper wrapped parcel arrived for our lovely dog, Oby. The Pawfection Pack had kindly sent over their January Treat Box and I don't know who was more excited, Arthur or the dog!

The January Treat Box contained four full size products including a Doggy's Cuppa Detoxing Brew, Coconut, Chia & Turmeric Treats from The Dog Treat Company, a Trio of Biscuits from The Little Blue Pupcakery and Yup You Stink Hemp Treats from HOWND.

Can you guess what grabbed our attention? The Little Blue Pupcakery treats of course! The dainty Bourbon, Custard Cream and Jammy Dodger homemade dog biscuits could have easily been mistaken for the real deal. They're all made with low fat, human grade ingredients that are free from artificial colourings and additives. The biccies are such a cute idea for dog presents and I'm pleased to report Oby loved every single one!

Oby's also been enjoying the treat pots from both The Dog Treat Company and HOWND.

The Dog Treat Company Coconut, Chia & Turmeric biscuits are handbaked in Devon and said to be great for supporting dogs' immunity, aiding growth and encouraging brain and eye development. Turmeric also boasts anti-inflammatory properties. What stood out to me was the packaging, particularly the quirky dog illustration, it's brilliant!

I'd be lying if I said Oby didn't have a little bad breath from time to time so the Yup You Stink! Hemp Wellness Treats from HOWND were essentially a treat for us all. The healthy dog snacks contain dried mint and parsley (both known for their breath freshening properties), as well as organic Hemp, which is rich in healthy fats and minerals and offers a variety of natural health benefits for dogs. We love seeing him lie down next to his little treat pile, so he can take his time and enjoy them properly. He's a sweet thing.

I was really excited to see that The Pawfection Pack Treat Box also featured a Detoxing Brew from Doggy's Cuppa and I took great pleasure in making one for Oby; boiling the kettle, carefully spooning in the herbal tea, letting it steep for five minutes and then adding a splash of cold water. As you can imagine, I was somewhat disappointed when he then turned his nose up at it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't his cup of tea!

It's a shame because the Detoxing Brew is meant to be great for stimulating dogs' immune systems and promoting urinary health. I'm going to try sprinkling a little onto his dinner to see if he prefers it that way but if all else fails, it'll be sent off to my partner's parent's dogs, Narla and Tinker, to see if they fancy a cuppa instead!

All in all, I think The Pawfection Pack Treat Box was a success and contained some lovely products for Oby to enjoy. If you have money spare to treat your pet, it's a really nice idea and I like that it introduces you to new pet brands and products. The Treat Box is available monthly (from £10) and the company also offers various other subscription boxes for both dogs and cats on their website.

The Pawfection Pack have clearly put a lot of effort into sourcing quality products and taken great care in presenting their boxes. As a new business, I think this helps them stand out to pet owners like myself and I wish them all the success with their venture.

Fancy treating your dog? Get 10% off your first box using the code SCRIBBLES10 (valid until 22nd March.)

Meg x
PS - I've come to realise that when shooting blog pictures with Oby, there's very little hope of getting the exact photo you want. What's that saying? 'Never work with children and animals!'
Just kidding.

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Make Cleaning your Toddler's Teeth Fun with FOREO

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Cleaning Arthur's teeth has always been a bit of a battle and I'm not quite sure who dreads it more, me or him! You see, even though I followed the guidelines and gently introduced a toothbrush as soon as his first tooth appeared, it's always been something he's hated doing. We've had tantrums galore, I've told him his teeth will fall out (c'mon we've all said things like this to our kids at some point) and there's even been a handful of times where I've given in and settled for the quickest of brushes. But as a parent, wanting to ensure her child has good dental hygiene and a healthy smile, I've battled on and although I don't want to speak too soon, I think we've finally done it!

Over the last couple of years, I've tried everything to get him to like brushing his teeth, from standing him in front of a mirror and pulling funny faces, to singing silly songs. I've even let him have a go at brushing my teeth a few times and consequently had a toothbrush jammed into my gums more times than I wish to think about. But it's only recently he's been more willing to clean his teeth properly (without a meltdown) and I think that's partially down to him being a little older but also because he now owns a super cool toothbrush!

Introducing the FOREO ISSA mikro

If you're into your beauty products, it's likely you've come across FOREO before. They're well-known for the best-selling 'Luna' facial cleansing brush and many other hi-tech skincare products but do you know, they also design toothbrushes? Even ones for little people like the ISSA mikro!

The ISSA mikro is an electric toothbrush, designed for children age 0-5 years. It is the only toothbrush on the market that is made from medical-grade silicone and uses gentle sonic pulsations to clean children's teeth, both safely and effectively. The toothbrush has two modes, a brush mode for cleaning and a massage mode, great for soothing the gums when your little one is teething.

Unlike your average toothbrush, the ISSA mikro has flexible silicone bristles that clean your little one's teeth in a non-abrasive way, keeping both the enamel and gum tissue intact. FOREO also says that the non-drying, non-porous silicone bristles are much more hygienic and carry up to 10,000 times less bacteria than toothbrushes with nylon bristles.

The thing that surprised me most about the ISSA mikro is that the head was completely attached. How was I going to change it? After a quick read on the FOREO website, I found out that the brush does not need replacing, as it's designed to last your child up until the age of five and comes with a 10 year quality guarantee. Arthur has been using the toothbrush for just over a month so far and I'm pleased to say it looks as good as new - the same of which couldn't be said for cheaper toothbrushes we've used in the past! I'm really interested to see if the ISSA mikro does stand the test of time. At £79 it's not cheap but if it lasts as long as FOREO claims, it'll be exceptionally good value for money.

Mr Frown and Mr Smile

The Foreo ISSA mikro comes in five bright colours (Sunflower Yellow, Bubble Blue, Pearl Pink, Fuchsia and Kiwi) making it very appealing to children. But it's best feature for kids, in my opinion, is the Smile Helpers.

The ISSA mikro will show a sad face if your little one has not used their toothbrush for over twelve hours. We've called him 'Mr Frown' and it's Arthur's mission to make him happy again. Once your little one has brushed their teeth for the recommended two minutes, 'Mr Smile' as we like to call him, appears and we have both a happy Arthur and happy Mummy. Two minutes can seem like a lifetime of brushing for a child but I feel like this really helps to make it fun. It turns it into a challenge for the child and as a parent, you can be satisfied that you're brushing your child's teeth long enough.

Charging the ISSA mikro

The ISSA mikro comes with a USB charging cable but not a plug. This wasn't a problem for me, as we have plenty in the house but it's something to consider before purchasing, if you don't have one spare. A one hour charge will give you up to 480 uses of the ISSA mikro, which is pretty incredible, especially compared to my own electric toothbrush from another brand, which needs recharging nearly every day!

Tips for cleaning your toddler's teeth

1. Use gentle, circular brushing motions
Although it's important to brush teeth regularly and properly, it's worth bearing in mind that there is such thing as brushing too aggressively. If you brush your teeth or your child's teeth vigorously, it may cause damage to the enamel. This is why dentists suggest you brush using a gentle circular motion, which cleans both the teeth and gums.

2. Take great care cleaning the molars
A new dental survey from FOREO revealed that 55% of 3-5 year olds already have a filling, which really shocked me. I'm 28 and although my teeth are far from perfect, I've not yet had a filling and want to do my best to make sure Arthur avoids them as long as possible too. According to Harley Street Dentist and FOREO ambassador Dr Mark Hughes 'a good portion of time should be spent on the back molars, as this is an area where cavities often develop.'

3. Let them have a go and do a 'check up clean' yourself afterwards
There's nothing wrong with letting your children have a go at cleaning their own teeth, when they show interest. In fact, it's the only way they'll learn! Of course, they may not do it to your standards for a good while, so you'll need to do what I call a 'check up clean' afterwards. That way you can have the peace of mind that your child's teeth have been cleaned properly but you haven't stopped them showing a little independence either!

Although I've only been using the FOREO ISSA mikro on Arthur's teeth for a month and therefore can't give a definitive long-term recommendation, what I can say is that it has made the teeth cleaning process a lot more attractive and fun to him as a three year old. Challenging him to get 'Mr Smile' seems to have stopped most teeth-cleaning-related-tantrums and the brush seems to be working effectively but please keep in mind I'm speaking as a parent and not a dental expert! I think the brush itself is a great concept and whilst pricey, you may find it's justified by the more positive teeth cleaning experience it offers both you and your child, plus the longevity in design it claims to offer.

Have you got any tips for making cleaning your toddler's teeth fun? Comment below to share!

Meg x
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What's That Smell? Family Game Review

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Family nights in our household usually consist of good food, a bottle or two of Prosecco and a board game. We're a family that has fought over Monopoly, embarrassed ourselves playing Cranium and cheated at Cluedo... okay maybe that last one was just me! So when asked to try out WowWee's latest party game, 'What's That Smell?' over Christmas, it was an offer we couldn't refuse...

What's That Smell has quickly become one of the most talked about family games and once you've played it, you'll understand why! Basically, the idea is that you have to scratch and sniff the scented cards to identify the smells. Some of the scents are pleasant, some unusual and some are just downright nasty. The winner is the person who scores the most points from correctly identifying the scents, the category they come from and offering up interesting memories associated with a particular smell. Whoever wins gains the title of 'Nose-it-all' and can pick a player to endure three horrific sniffs of a stank card. I'm talking extra old toe cheese, diaper blowout, hot chunky vomit and smothered in B.O. kind of bad. I heaved at the B.O. card and it wasn't even me doing the Whiff of Shame, it was that pungent!

It's funny because even though some of the scents are probably ones you encounter every day, when it comes to actually identifying them in the game, it can become rather difficult. Particularly if you put yourselves under pressure by using the What's That Smell? app to set a time limit for each round! For the most part, we found each scent very different and even when we weren't able to identify them correctly, the hilarious wrong answers made the game even more fun to play.

The What's That Smell? app itself is a great addition to the party game. It's free to download from the App Store and can be used to set time limits for you to scratch, sniff and guess. There's also a camera feature on the app for you to capture the loser taking their 'Whiff of Shame' and you can play it back in slow-mo to see their reaction in all it's glory.

The concept of the game is simple but the technology that has been used to create the cards and accompanying app is really quite clever. I like that it was really easy to set up and you don't have to spend time reading through pages and pages of instructions to understand how to play. In fact, you can actually just download the 'What's That Smell' app and watch the instructional video, which is much quicker!

We, as a family, really enjoyed playing it (even if the B.O stank card did leave a nasty lingering scent in the living room) and it's definitely a game we'll be bringing out again at future gatherings.

What's That Smell is available to buy at:

Have you played What's That Smell before? What did you think?
Is it a game your family would enjoy playing together?

Meg x
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Getting Organised in 2019 with Danilo

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One of the things I love most about the New Year is the motivation it brings to do better. I'm not necessarily into resolutions or the whole 'New Year, New Me' thing but I do like the idea of getting organised and setting goals. I have a few things I want to do differently this year, in order to get where I want to be but it's all going to come down to being organised.

For me, getting organised often means writing things down in a diary or planner and thanks to Danilo, I've already got the tools! Just before Christmas, they kindly sent over the official Great British Bake Off 2019 Diary (which comes complete with recipes to try) and the adorable Pusheen Desk Pad. I think the latter will be so useful for daily to-do lists and little reminders that will help me stay on track. If you're looking for a new diary, calendar or desk planner for the New Year, I definitely recommend taking a look at their selection. Danilo products are all officially licensed and there are lots of fantastic designs to choose from, whatever you're into!

I feel like all aspects of my life could do with a little more organisation at present but here are just three things I want to do more of in 2019...

Date nights

Something I really want to do this year is have a few more date nights with Josh. As much as we love Arthur (to the moon and back infinite times as I tell him every day), I think it's important to have time as a couple too. Whether it's going for dinner at a country pub or heading to a spa, it's just nice to spend some quality time together.

Meal planning

Another way I'd like to get organised in 2019 is with meal planning. Cooking is something I really enjoy but can find quite time consuming. This year I'd love to learn some new recipes and work them into some sort of rolling menu so we know what we need to order in our weekly shops. I'm lucky that as me and Arthur still live with my parents, I don't have to do all of the cooking but I'd like to make sure I'm doing my fair share. Plus, when we do have our own place with Josh, I imagine I'll be doing more of the cooking, so it'd be good to get organised for then!

Copywriting work

I'm hoping 2019 is the year I get my copywriting business back up and running. Don't get me wrong, I've been getting work but I really want to take things to the next level and try and get back to where I was (at the very least) before I had Arthur and things ground to a halt.

Something I find quite difficult is working from home, when I've also got Arthur to think about and take care of. He is of course (and always has been) my priority but at the same time, I've also got to try and make a living for us. It's helped that he's started nursery a few mornings a week, as I've gained some dedicated work time. I think I've just got to create a schedule for the week days, so that there's time for work and there's time for play. We're hoping that 2019 will be the year we get our first family home, so this is a real motivator for me to get my ass into gear and really make a go of it!

If you have any organisation tips or blog posts, feel free to share them below or tweet me @meganjane03! I'm thinking of picking up a copy of 'An Edited Life' when it comes out. I feel like I could definitely learn a lesson or two from Anna! But if you have any other recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

Meg x
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