stranger things

On set of Stranger Things at the Netflix Christmas event.

Now that Christmas and New Year has been well and truly celebrated and is all packed up and put away we can start turning our eye to the new year, new goals and what to watch on the telebox of an evening whilst the evenings are cold, dark and miserable.

Luckily Netflix has it covered with a huge selection to choose from and some very exciting stuff coming up.

Whats on Netflix for kids

A Series of Unfortunate Events

a series of unfortunate events

Firstly, just before Christmas Netflix sent us through a book to read, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – The Bad Beginning. I passed it to Alice who was between novel 3 and 4 of the Harry Potter series and she devoured it in a couple of sittings. She loved it and when I told her that Netflix were showing the series in January she was very excited. In fact we all are and it’s going to be one we all watch together.

Look out for A Series of Unfortunate Events on 13th January.

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2

If you have a fan of Voltron at home then they will be delighted to hear that a second series is coming up on Netflix, watch out for the next 13 episodes as of January 20th.

Trollhunters

trollhunters

From 23/12 there are 13 hours to watch. Here’s the lowdown –

From the master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes a tale of two worlds set to collide in the epic saga DreamWorks Trollhunters. When ordinary teenager Jim Lake Jr. stumbles upon a mystical amulet on his way to school one morning, he inadvertently discovers an extraordinary secret civilization of mighty trolls beneath his small town of Arcadia. Strong-willed and seeking adventure but wholly unprepared for the responsibilities thrust upon him, Jim is forced to take on the exalted mantle of Trollhunter, sworn to protect the good trolls from powerful enemies bent on revenge. The first human ever to hold the honor, Jim abruptly goes from fighting his way through the daily mayhem of high school to joining a war that has raged for centuries, a conflict that now threatens all of mankind and troll-kind alike. Accompanied by his closest human friends and a few key troll allies, the courageous fifteen-year-old must plunge headlong into a fantastical world of astonishing creatures, glorious cities, and fierce enemies desperate to destroy him. Suddenly destined to play a crucial role in an ancient battle of good and evil with stakes that couldn’t be higher, Jim is determined to save the world — right after gym class.

Whats on Netflix for adults

January is the perfect month for cosying up on the sofa with a mug of tea and a some good films. Netflix have some great movies and series to watch out for including:-

Coin Heist
Out on 06/01/17. An exciting film about four teens that hatch a daring plan to raise $10,000,000 when a crisis threatens to destroy their high school. Their first step is to break into the US Mint. 

Clinical

13/01/17 – A pretty female psychiatrist who, when treating a patient who has been horribly disfigured in an accident, is plagued by her own flashbacks to a terrifying attack

Have a great January

We are members of the Netflix Stream Team and receive free Netflix programming for the purposes of sharing reviews with our readers. 

moana film review

Two days into our Christmas holiday break I took the twins to see Moana the new Disney movie. I had watched the trailers at another recent movie trip and it looked good, plus who doesn’t like a Disney film?

Following the box office success of Frozen I was curious to see how Moana could possibly come even close to that success, after all Frozen is still as big today as it was when it first appeared.

The setting for the latest story is in the south Pacific, so the backdrop is breathtaking. We are taken onto an island, Motunui where a Polynesian tribe live and introduced to the chief’s daughter Moana who we first meet as a delightful toddler learning the tribe’s history from her grandmother as she tells their history in story form.

In the beginning, when there was only ocean, Te Fiti, an island goddess, emerged. Te Fiti’s heart, a small pounamu stone, possessed the power to create life and raise islands. But it also attracted monsters who tried to steal it for its creative power. It was stolen by the demigod Maui, who planned to give it to humanity as a gift. Upon removing the stone, Te Fiti was enveloped in darkness. As Maui made his escape, he was attacked by the lava demon Te K?, causing the heart to become lost in the ocean along with his magical fishhook.

Moana the toddler, searching for shells by the edge of the sea, is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart which her grandmother keeps safe for her. A few years later the fish becomes scarce, the vegetation starts to perish and the coconuts begin to spoil, Moana is urged by her dying grandmother to leave the island and reunite Te Fiti with her heart, by doing this she will save her tribe’s future.

Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demi God, in the hope of saving her people.

Moana the princess

moana film review

‘Im not a princess, I’m the chief’s daughter!’

Thank you Disney for finally creating a princess that isn’t waifer thin, white skinned and just sitting around waiting for her prince to come. Moana is a feisty, intelligent young girl who plays a great role in the day to day running of the island, learning everything from her father for the day she will one day take over. Moana has thick calves and a body that represents far more young girls out there. Moana is also trying to find her place in the world and the story focuses on her search to discover who she is.

‘The Gods aren’t the ones who make you Maui, you are!’

Her search takes her on a fabulous journey across the ocean with the demi God Maui and together they learn a lot from each other. For once there is no love interest at all, simply a story between two characters who meet, get to know one another and become great friends.

Moana meets many challenges and difficulties on her journey to restore Te Fiti with her heart but she is strong and determined, showing viewers that it can be done even if it takes a couple of times to achieve your goal.

Maui the demi God

moana film reveiw

The male main character also steps away from the usual Disney characters, Maui is huge, he is also covered in tattoos which tell his life story. He has made a huge mistake in the past, at first he doesn’t want to admit it and justifies his wrong saying it was done to help others, however, we watch him come to terms with the fact and then put the past right with Moana’s help.

I really enjoyed this film and hope it gives the twins the knowledge that they don’t need a man in their life. They don’t have to stay home, behave and wait for a man to appear but they can grow and discover themselves. They can experience life by themselves before thinking of marriage and princes. Having spent the past five years watching the girls play marriage I really hope this gives them another role play, a better role play to follow.

right car for family

Choosing a car was easy when you only had you to think about, wasn’t it? You could pick the cutest-looking vehicle, or the one that was lowest, fastest and most powerful… but now you’ve got tiny humans to protect and transport safely.

Affordability

When you’re looking for a new car for your family, one of the most important factors is whether you can afford it. Because ultimately, if you can’t afford it, it’s not going to be good for your family. That’s why companies like motor finance 4U have a car finance calculator on their websites, to help you work out the costs of the repayments.
However, you should also make sure that you take into account the running costs of the car – things like insurance, tax and petrol to name a few.

Safety Features

For a family car, safety is probably one of your primary concerns.

Always take a look at the Euro NCAP safety rating – you can find this on most car reviews or the Euro NCAP safety ratings. Make sure that you check the individual ratings too, as they are broken down into adult, child and pedestrian. Of course you should look at adult and child, but make sure that you take into account the pedestrian safety rating too. You’re going to be driving around schools, so it makes sense to have a good rating for pedestrians too.

Most cars have both active and passive safety features, but they do vary from brand to brand. Look for Electronic Stability Control, or ESC, which automatically reduces engine power if it detects that the car is about to lose power. According to Which?, studies have shown that ESC could prevent up to a third of all road accidents. Other active safety features to look for include automatic braking systems, lane keeping technology and visibility aids, to name a few.

Passive safety features include airbags, seatbelts and body shell.

Family Friendly Features

Family cars these days really know who their target audience is. They’re producing cars that have features that are more geared towards families.
Things to think about:

Obviously the first thing to consider is whether you can fit everyone in comfortably. Sliding seats make it easy to adjust the back seat space but it’s always worth checking. If you can, pick a car with high seats, so their little faces can see the outside as it whizzes past.

Fitting a child seat can be tricky if the door doesn’t open wide enough. Bring one along when you view a car to see how easy it is to get in there.

The boot is an important aspect of the family car. Whether it’s the weekly shop, pushchairs or a new climbing frame, the car needs to be able to handle that, as well as a few kids that are along for the ride. Check that the boot is a decent shape, and that there isn’t a loading lip (or there’s the option to raise the boot floor).

Similarly, storage space in the car is a key thing to look for in a new car, because it’ll cut down on family life clutter.

Dark interiors hide spills and stains that come with kids and cars. Leather is wipe-able, making it the practical choice.

Use

The way you’ll use a family car will determine the type of car that will be best for you and your family. The first and most obvious thing to think about is how many passengers you’ll have. If you have or want more than three kids and you have pets, then an SUV or even a minivan might be suitable.

The second is to think about where you will do most of your driving. If you live and drive mostly in a city, then you’ll need a relatively small car, but if you do a lot of motorway miles, you should consider something large and comfortable.

Parking is an important factor. If you’ve decided that you’ll need a big car, your next consideration should be whether you’ve got space to park the vehicle.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your kids, ordering takeout can be a bit of a challenge. When kids have a menu full of options in front of them, some of their go-to favourites may be fish & chips, hamburgers, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets, which makes it even more challenging to steer them in another direction. While it’s ok to let your children splurge on this food once in a while, make sure you consider the healthier items on the menu and encourage your kids to try new things on a daily basis.

Below are just a few tips to follow when ordering takeaway for your family:

Chinese

chinese food

While most Chinese dishes include a high amount of vegetables, having them deep-fried and surrounded by noodles isn’t always the healthiest way to eat them. Since noodles can weigh in at nearly 200 calories per cup, be sure to consume them in moderation. Better yet, replace the noodles with a side of brown rice or tofu.

If your kids love dumplings, remember that Chinese takeout menus may serve them in many different ways. Wonton soup, for example, contains a few steamed dumplings and soup is considered to be more filling, which will prevent your family from overeating before the main entree. And, according to LiveStrong, a cup of wonton soup contains a high amount of vitamin B6, Niacin, B12, and pantothenic acid. Just keep in mind of the amount of sodium you might be consuming.

Pizza

pizza

Believe it or not, pizza can be a healthy meal when made with the right ingredients and when eaten in moderation. While you don’t have to forgo the cheese to make a pizza healthy for your kids, it’s important to know how to best utilise the pizza’s canvas. Rather than adding sausage, pepperoni, or bacon to a pizza, consider choosing leaner meats like grilled chicken and loading up on the veggies, including mushrooms, peppers, red onions, spinach, and artichoke hearts.

Building a healthy pizza is much easier than it sounds. Hungry House has an enormous range of takeout menus to choose from, including some of the best and healthiest pizza restaurants in your area. Whether you search by rating or price range, pizza restaurants today are much more accommodating to those with special diet requests.

Indian

indian

From deep fried samosas to rich paneer, Indian food has become incredibly popular in recent years because of its creative use of spices. If you haven’t noticed already, many vegetarians tend to veer towards Indian cuisine as meat is not often used in many of this cuisine’s dishes, but this doesn’t make ALL Indian takeout food healthy. Dishes that are prepared with lentils and chickpeas provide the protein growing kids need and are on the healthier side as these foods aren’t typically prepared with high amounts of oil and butter. Instead, Indian food is often prepared with a variety of spices to produce unique and delicious flavour combinations.

Turmeric, for example, can be found in many Indian dishes and is known to have health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to WebMd. In addition, Tandoori items on Indian takeout menus are often found to be lean because they are cooked in traditional clay ovens called Tandoor. Meats like Tandoori chicken or shrimp retain more nutrients because of the way these dishes are prepared.

If You Don’t Know, Ask!

As it can be difficult to judge how some takeout dishes are prepared, don’t hesitate to request details from the person who is taking your order. In general, try to avoid ordering deep-fried foods and overly processed meats with all of your meals and replace them with hearty sides of steamed vegetables, fruits, or brown rice.

While having family meals shouldn’t always be a task of choosing the healthiest foods, be sure to keep in mind the nutrients your kids (and yourself!) are getting from what you eat.

sunpat on toast

Fuel Your Dreams with Sun-Pat

Do you have a dream that you wish with all your heart to come true? Well now you can make that dream come true because Sun-Pat have this incredible competition where two winners will receive the chance to be what they dreamed of being for the day.

You have until 16th November to enter and it’s really easy …

Sun-Pat is offering two people the chance to experience their dream for a day alongside Olympic hero Adam Peaty or TV presenter Helen Skelton, with eight runner-up prizes of a year’s supply of Sun-Pat Peanut Butter and a £1,000 donation to a local group of their choice to ensure our future stars are equipped to achieve their own dreams.

To enter, simply tell us what you’ve always dreamed of doing. It could be anything from becoming a pilot to winning your own gold medal. You can even share a photo to support your entry.

Entries can be made below using the entry form or on the Sun-Pat social media pages by clicking on the icons below. Entries made via Facebook must be posted on the Sun-Pat Facebook page in the form of a comment on our pinned competition post, entries via Twitter or Instagram must include #SunPatDreams.

Making dreams come true

sun-pat peanut butter

Life has been hectic as you can probably guess since my last post. It was the day we opened our hearts and the front door to Tommy and his family. Firstly I want to let you know that everything is going really well but secondly I must inform you that life has been taken up a notch and hectic doesn’t quite cover it!

The reason behind all of this massive change is a dream, it’s Tommy’s dream and as his mother I feel it’s my job to do as much as I can to help him achieve it.

My boy was born in 1988. As a child he was never interested in school, hated homework but he had a dream, of working in the family hotel. He went into the catering trade and trained to be a chef and has since worked in the family hotels as a chef running the kitchen, the staff and looking after the guests and their appetites. The boy did very well and has worked with grand chefs and even been featured on Italian television.

But something was missing.

The desire to grow, learn and be even better. The final dream is to have a place of his own but I am sure you can appreciate that in the meantime the best practise is to learn and learn and learn. To try different types of cooking, have a go at dishes you’ve never even heard and throw yourself into the culinary world.

In order to do that London was obviously the first place that came to mind and at the end of August he turned up on my doorstep ready to follow his dream.

He got a job and has been working in London ever since under a very demanding chef.

He is now cooking someone else’s menus, learning new techniques and widening his knowledge of food.

I am so proud of him. I realise we are way off the dream becoming reality but I can see we are on a very good start to getting there.

 

Sun-Pat Peanut Butter

chicken satay recipe

One product that Tommy has used in his recipes in London is Sun-Pat Peanut Butter, he had never heard of peanut butter before as it’s not something you find in Italy. Chef uses it in his secret Chicken Satay recipe and I have since been searching on Pinterest for Peanut butter recipes to see if I can make one at home. I watched him taste it for the first time in his life and saw his expression as he noted the delicacies of the spread. I saw him already thinking about where and how he could use the peanut butter in his cooking and as I let his thoughts wander, I prepared a piece of toast and gave it to him, straight.

He liked it and when he found out how I and his uncles would devour a jar after school he laughed and popped some more bread in the toaster for second helpings.

I am loving having my boy home again and I love watching him fuel his dreams and follow his heart into his future.

Disclosure: this post is a collaboration with Sun-Pat. All opinions are my own.