Share some #LoveAtFirstLight with this French Toast Recipe

IMG_2347Everybody needs a little lift now and then and Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to share the love! I’ve got a nasty cold at the moment and in the midst of feeling supremely sorry for myself I heard a knock at the door. Imagine my delight when the delivery man (who was probably shocked at my unkempt, ill appearance) gave me a Valentine’s hamper from Co-operative food. I had no clue this was coming and the surprise (along with the contents) really lifted my spirits! It reminded me how seemingly small acts of caring can really mean a lot to the recipient. So this Valentine’s Day show whoever you love (partner, friend or just yourself!) how much you care by taking the time to enjoy a wonderful breakfast or #LoveAtFirstLight

The co-op have partnered with Fred Sireix from First Dates to help Britain share the love. Pop over to www.co-operativefood.co.uk/breakfasts to find a wondrous selection of romantic breakfast recipes. I’ve shared my favourite below.

 

frenchtoastFrench toast

Ingredients:

Strawberries
5 Loved by Us medium eggs
Nutella Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
5 tbsp caster sugar
6 slices of The Co-operative farmhouse bread
8g Loved by Us Scottish butter unsalted
70ml Semi-skimmed milk

Equipment:

Baking tray
Large bowl
Skillet
Spatula
Heart shaped cutter, knife or scissors

How to make:

Step 1 – Mix the eggs, milk and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.

Step 2 – Dip each slice of bread into the bowl, allowing it to soak up some of the mixture.

Step 3 – Melt a knob of butter over a large skillet on a medium heat and add the slices of bread. Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping when necessary before plating up.

Step 4 – Using a heart shaped cutter, knife or even clean scissors, carefully cut  the toast into heart shapes.

Step 5 – Spread Nutella on each slice of toast and top with strawberries. Layer each slice on top of the other into a mini french toast mountain and tuck (back) in.

 

Jangle App Review – The app that teaches kids money skills!

IMG_1379Towards the end of last year I was invited along to a rather lovely lunch with Dragon’s Den newcomer Sarah Willingham. Sarah has collaborated with the financial chaps at Experian to create a brand new App called Jangle aimed at demystifying finance for kids.

The idea is to help kids manage their own money by completing various tasks in exchange for financial rewards. This not only teaches children the value of waiting and saving for non-essential items but the time spent completing tasks helps them to learn the value of their own time and therefore money. At least that’s the idea but let’s take a look at it in practice.

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At the moment Jangle is only available on iPad, but it’s in the pipeline for other platforms soon. Initially Mum or Dad downloads the app and sets up an account. This account acts as the master login which is used to approve the actions of your kids.

Create a Pot

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Once you’ve set up a profile for your child hand over the iPad and they can create a ‘pot’ to save for. This can be anything at all, a day out, a game, a toy etc. Add the cost and you’ve begun your saving journey. To add further motivation an image can be added to the goal, for example if you’re saving for a Pokemon game you can upload or search online for a image of Pikachu etc.jangle3

Finally a parent has to enter the master password to approve this savings goal.

Choose Activities

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Time to earn that reward! In this section your child choosing various activities, then requests what they believe to be appropriate payment. This is a really interesting exercise as they are essentially valuing their own time and the differences for various tasks can be dramatic. Of course they may think they deserve £25 to clean their room but that doesn’t mean you agree, so each task and payment has to be approved by a parent.

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Interestingly enough this really appeared to teach my kids the value of money. If they’ve just spent an hour earning £2.50 then suddenly blowing it on sweets doesn’t seem like such a great reward.

Once an activity has been completed a parent can approve and the money earned is added to their total which can be seen to grow towards their pot.

jangle6Kids Thoughts

My kids love this app, it allows them to save for whatever they want and how quickly they receive it depends not on their nagging skills but on their own motivation and hard work. If they don’t want to complete activities they don’t, but nor do they receive the reward.

My Thoughts

I love this app because it significantly reduces the nagging from the kids and I really think it teaches them the value of their time and consequently the value of ours too.

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However… I have come to find one aspect of the app somewhat annoying and that it the need for my approval at every single step.

Pick a pot and I have to approve before my child can go any further. Pick an activity and I have to approve before they can move on and so on. Believe me this gets frustrating when they are trying to reach £32 in £1 increments and you’re just trying to get dinner on the table or your hair dried. I think it would be vastly, hugely improved if kids could pick their goals and activities which then go into an approval que. This would allow me to login later and approve/change/deny in one go.

I believe it has been set up this way so that the financial learning journey is shared between parent and child which is great, but in reality approving each step was a bit tiresome.

Despite saying all that though I still think this is a minor niggle overall as I believe the app really offers such valuable learning that having to stop and approve constantly isn’t the end of the world. Incidentally it’s way more annoying to me than the kids, they weren’t remotely bothered.

For more Info and to download Jangle visit www.experian.co.uk/consumer/jangle or the App Store

 

 

 

 

 

Drayton Manor Theme Park is riding high after a record breaking 65th Anniversary season!

ThomasCrankyDrayton Manor Theme Park is celebrating the end of a record breaking 65th anniversary season, with its biggest ever attendance numbers recorded for 2015. As an Ambassador for the park my family was there for all the big events and we had a fabulous time!

The award winning attraction based in Tamworth, Staffordshire has seen more guests visit during 2015 than any other year, with a 10 per cent increase on the previous season in 2014.

The action packed anniversary year kicked off with a £2.5 million expansion of Europe’s only Thomas Land™ back in April 2015. The park welcomed a host of new rides and attractions including Captain’s Sea Adventure, Flynn’s Fire Rescue and Toby’s Tram Express, which increased the overall rider capacity in Thomas Land to 5,130 people per hour. The exciting new Thomas Land also saw the arrival of the brand new two-storey Sodor Airport, in a traditional terminal style it has a top level balcony for VIP ‘travellers’ with not-to-be-missed views of Thomas Land and a ground level café for guests to relax during their visit.jeremyjetsflying

Following a successful summer, the much loved family attraction hit a record attendance for its Fireworks Spectacular weekend, welcoming nearly 33,000 visitors over three days at the end of October. It was a whopping 28% increase in the number of visitors compared to the previous largest fireworks attendance and also the largest firework display the park has seen in 25 years. Set to the critically acclaimed soundtrack from The War of the Worlds, visitors were dazzled by a fantastic, colourful array of explosive rockets and lights.

To top it all off, the 65th anniversary season ended with another record breaking attendance during its Magical Christmas event with a 34% increase in guests from 2014.  On Sunday 20th December, the park welcomed 45% more people than on its previous biggest day in 2014, smashing its biggest selling Magical Christmas day six times over!

Despite the park’s momentous success in 2015, it is looking forward to the coming year and there is plenty to keep existing and new visitors excited. In spring 2016, the Staffordshire based theme park will see the opening of its brand new Tamarin Trail. Guests will have the opportunity to walk through the beautiful planted gardens in the attraction, getting up close and personal with the cute and inquisitive monkeys. It will have eight new enclosures that will be housing a variety of tamarins and marmosets. There are five species so far, including the white lipped tamarin, red handed tamarin, emperor tamarin, cotton top tamarin and the common marmoset.Sumatran tigers 3

2016 will also mark the five year anniversary of the opening of the hugely popular onsite four-star Drayton Manor Hotel, which has featured Thomas & Friends™ themed rooms since its opening in 2011. The park’s onsite restaurant the Grill Inn will also celebrate its fifth anniversary this year.

CEO of Drayton Manor Theme Park, Colin Bryan, said: “Our 65th anniversary year has been a truly momentous year for the Bryan family and all of the staff here and we’re so pleased to have been able to provide so many families with lasting memories.

“We always want to go above and beyond to make sure every season is better than the last for our visitors and this year we did just that, we’re really looking forward to another fantastic year in 2016.”

To book tickets, or for more information about the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950. Reduced prices are available for tickets bought in advance. For regular updates and news about Drayton Manor Theme Park join it on Twitter www.twitter.com/Draytonmanor and Facebook www.facebook.com/DraytonManorPark