the girl with a brave heartI absolutely love it when Barefoot Books send us one of their books to review because I know I’m going to be reading a beautiful story with gorgeous illustrations in it and The Girl with a Brave Heart is no exception.

This story is a tale from Tehran by Rita Jahanforuz who is also a well known and highly respected singer in Israel. she tells the story of Shiraz who doesn’t think of herself as brave at all but one day she drops her ball of wool from the balcony and has to muster all her courage to go and retrieve it. Her ball of wool lands in a neighbour’s garden and the old lady turns out to be a very unusual person indeed.

My girls were gripped to the story line and as I put it away and kissed them goodnight they asked if we could read the same story the following evening too which shows just how much they enjoyed it.

This book also carries a message to young readers, one of being a nice person, a kind person and these qualities will one day be repaid whereas if you choose to be a spiteful and selfish character this may also come back on you.

The hardback version of The Girl with a Brave Heart retails at £10.99 or you can choose the paperback for £5.99

Barefoot Books is the brainchild of Nancy Traversy and Tessa Strickland who started in 1992, they were young mothers with four children between them. They wanted to create meaningful, creative careers where they could make a difference in the world, while also keeping their children at the centre of their lives. For over twenty years, they have created bright, colourful books for children that combine beautiful artwork with captivating storytelling. “Our books capture the imagination, spark curiosity, inspire creativity and instill a respect for cultural, social and ecological diversity.”

Disclosure: Barefoot Books sent me a copy of The girl with a brave heart. they didn’t ask me to review it, I did because we loved it so much

Snowdon Been2BooksShortly after we were all back in our homes having descended quite gloriously from Snowdon back in March and having made such a phenomenal racket we were contacted by Been2Books, an online book making facility that preserves the memories of your travels and days out.

Unlike normal photo books, Been 2 Books also have included pre-designed pages with photos and written text, in our case of Snowdon.

You can write your own title on the cover and then upload photographs on 10 of the 32 pages. The other 18 pages are the pre-designed ones I mentioned. Been2Books can be used for sports events, tourist attractions, public events and of course travel including cities and destinations throughout the UK and Europe.

If you like writing – look out for the opportunity at the bottom of this page and create some books for them ;)

This means that when you return from a fabulous holiday, event or attraction you can upload your photos to the site and make your very own souvenir of your experience including useful facts and info that are nice to look back on and make for an interesting album to show family and friends.

Snowdon Been2Books

I think it’s a fantastic idea and having my Snowdon book here to flick through and show people, not only does it bring the day back to me and the experience but it’s a beautiful book to leave on your coffee table with it’s hi gloss laminated cover

If you have climbed Snowdon (well done fellow climber! Tough going isn’t it?) Been2Books are donating 10% of their online profits from sales of Snowdon to Llanberis Mountain Rescue PDF.

Snowdon Been2Books

Lastly I must mention Been2 are currently advertising on Gumtree for freelance writers/photographers to produce books for them. As parents you know what you want in a souvenir book, so who better to produce a book? Anybody interested, send an email to info@been2.net for more information.

RedTed Art craft bookAren’t we just the cleverest people on the planet?

Ok well maybe not that clever but look what we made, some Juggling Chooks from Maggy’s recently published Red Ted Art book and some felt strawberries too.

Maggy asked me to have a look at her book and review it for her and you know what it’s like reviewing something for a friend, it could be very awkward indeed but as soon as the book turned up I let the girls turn the pages and watched them closely.

They stopped on a number of pages “Can we do this one mummy?’ and would go back to the book again and again for a quick peek. In fact there are so many ideas in there you’ll be blown away and they are all laid out over two pages with lots of beautiful  photographs and Very. Clear. Instructions. Which makes it easy for parents like me to get organised for a crafting session.

One of Maggy’s own top tips for crafting is Get organised. If you have everything to hand before you start you’ll cope marvellously, another tip of hers is ‘Step Back’ and let the kids get on with it. This is a tricky one for me but well worth forcing yourself as my girls surprise me again and again with their curiosity.

Red Ted Art craft book

Juggling Chooks

I will admit to being the major crafter on this one as there was cutting (precision cutting you understand) and sewing and I haven’t yet brought myself to let the twins loose with needles yet. I made them over a few days rather than all at once. I cut the fabric and the felt bits one day, pinned them together another, sewed them up another and stuffed and finished them on the last day.

red ted art craft book

Then I let the girls loose with them and tried to teach them to juggle, it was a lot of fun and of course when my Chooks are no longer required they can sit pretty in the bedroom waiting for their next turn of play

The cost to make them was minimal, I used an old summer dress of the twins they’d outgrown and a pair of pyjamas (penguins – er mine) The felt was scraps leftover from a previous crafting project, cotton and needle I had and I used pinto beans left over from the Bags of Happiness and stuffing leftover from my KISS cushion to fill them with.

juggling chooks

I have some felt strawberries to sew up and then some dolly pegs to use to make princesses and fairies with. Then we want to make the long giraffe, a stone family and oh so much more.

felt strawberries

Have a look at her book on Amazon or try and win one over at Red Ted Art it’s dead easy to enter and you won’t regret it if you’re the winner I promise

felt strawberries Red Ted Art

If you are on the lookout for crafts for kids then do please take a look at this fabulous 100 crafts for kids post, that should offer some inspiration!

Knackered Mother's Wine ClubI’m in it! No honestly I am. I drink wine and I’m knackered, so that means I am in it. Are you?

I *watch it claim to fame coming up* actually met Knackered Mother a few years back, we were invited to a vlogging camp by BritMums in London and we sat next to one another, one more clueless than the other and we talked wine as it was one of our common denominators – apart from being knackered, that was the other.

Anyway Helen and I chatted, I told her about setting up a wine bar in the hotel in Italy with my ex and having to taste every bottle of wine Italy could throw at me, for research purposes you know and she told me she used to buy wine for a major British supermarket, so she won that chat hands down but how goddamn cool is that? Helen’s street cred shot up a billion points with that nugget of info.

Anyway, via Twitter or Facebook we’ve kept in touch. She reprimanded me when I wrote about our stay in Sandy Balls as she was close by – a missed opportunity to drink more wine together and recently I received a copy of her brand new book.

The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club

Now you’re all going to say, oh but she’s your friend so your bound to say the book’s good which is true BUT let me tell you this. It’s awesome!

For example answer these questions

  • Do you – Frequently panic in the wine aisle and end up reaching for the same old thing. Every. Single. Time?
  • Simply pick the bottle with the nicest looking label?
  • Always choose the second cheapest wine on the wine menu?
  • Feel it may be time to extend your wine horizons beyond Pinot Grigio?

If you answered yes to the above then this book is for you too

Because life’s too short to drink bad wine

That’s KM’s quote above by the way and she does write very well indeed, in fact you must bookmark her homonymous blog with the same name Knackered Mother’s Wine Club because every week she gives the white in the fridge and the red in the rack and all the info a KM needs to know. It’s insanely easy and she knows what she’s talking about.

So without giving too much of the book away because it really does deserve to be on your bookshelf I have discovered there’s more to wine than just Italy – yes we all know I am Italy obsessed but since reading I have tried a Falanghina from Puglia and a Nero’d’Avola from Sicily – yes I know they’re both Italian but they were KM’s suggestions, next up is a Viognier from Chile and a Garnacha from Spain.

I can honestly say the Chardonnay from New Zealand was delicious, I think I may have even tweeted her that one. Helen has had this amazing shopping list drawn up and I copied it onto my shopping list. Colour/Where from?/grape made from/why choose it?

Simples, she gives the country ie Italy (not that I’m pushing Italian wine or anything here) the region Campania and off you go to the supermarket and search.

First up it’s amazing to find myself actually looking at what’s in the bottle, I’ve discovered an entire new world to explore and secondly, I’m starting to enjoy shopping for wine rather than head for the 3 x £10 or on special this week. which however are not to be knocked because as Helen says in her book (which you really must get) sometimes they put some fabulous wines on special and of course if you recognise them you can stock your wine shelves up and make the most of the bargain.

So, have I convinced you? I hope so, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t buy it. It’s on sale for RRP £12.99 but right now Amazon is offering it for £8.44 with Free Super Saver Delivery get in there!

PS Tonight from 8 – 9pm @knackeredmutha will be on Twitter doing a Q&A with @TescoWines, come and check it out

The Hope Factory - Lavanya SankaranAt the beginning of the year I joined Mama Owl’s 50 book club challenge, now we all know I’ll never get 50 books read this year as much as I would like to, but I have completed my first book this year.

I had to put JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy to one side as the Good Housekeeping panel sent me The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran to read and there was a deadline for it.

I loved it.

I love the way Lavanya tells her story, based in India and by doing so she reveals what it’s actually like to live there from two different points of view. A fascinating story including ambition, greed and love. There is corruption, there are lies and there is love but underlying it all are two dreams, one of a man and one of a woman and the story follows how they will do anything to keep that dream alive and obtain it.

An uplifting story, a fascinating tale that makes me want to pack a bag and go to India right now but instead I’ll settle for a curry at dinner tonight.

I’d thoroughly recommend this book, Lavanya Sankaran has a beautiful way with words and before you know it you’ll be captured in her web.

Published by Tinder Press and available at Headline or Amazon

#TeamHonk

I cancelled my hen party and instead I am trekking Snowdon with #TeamHonk on 2nd March for Comic Relief, if you can please sponsor me, click on the image below it will take you to my Red Nose Just Giving page. All donations go into the #TeamHonk pot – thank you xx