Win a SONY NWZ-A15 and MDR-1A headphones!

a15A while back I reviewed the Sony NWZ-A15 portable music player and I found it was great. Sony have kindly offered to provide another player and a set of headphones to one lucky reader, worth over £300, so without further ado, I give you the COMPETITION:

Follow me and tag me on instagram ( my username is daddacoo1 with a “1” not an “l”, don’t ask) with a picture of your favourite album cover and the hashtag  #HighResVIP.

The winner will be picked at random by our resident 3 year old.

GOOD LUCK

 

Terms and conditions

  • Competition is open to residents of the UK mainland only.
  • One entry per person
  • Prize is provided by Sony UK
  • Closes at midnight on Friday 29th May

Finishing a good book

The boy is a starter but not really a finisher. His bed side table has 31 (I counted them the other night in a fit of pique) books on it, all with bookmarks at various stages, all waxed lyrical about at various points. This doesn’t stop him standing at the book cases downstairs well after lights out, scouring them for something interesting to read.

I used to be just the opposite when I was little. I had an almost obsessive need to finish any book that I started reading, even if it wasn’t very good (I think the worst book I read as a kid was The Sword of Shannara, truly epically terrible). And so I’d sometimes drag a book on for over a week- that was a long time for even a three or four hundred page book back in the days that didn’t have wall to wall kids telly and a computer that had to be hooked up to the main TV- if I didn’t get on with it.

Today things are a little bit different. I start a lot of books, some I lose interest in and give up, some I put down for a bit because life gets too hectic and subsequently get distracted by something else and very occasionally I get a book or series that I read right through. I’ve just finished several million words worth of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. It’s taken me about a year, which is woeful, but I’ve fitted a few other books in during it. I’m now at a bit of a loss; when you’ve read so much by one author, trying to read someone else is quite difficult, so I’m in a bit of a hiatus and considering going back to catch up with some Joe Abercrombie. I never did manage to finish The Heroes and I’ve got Red Country sitting around somewhere too. I love his stuff but had to unfollow him on twitter a while ago as he seemed very up himself and very needy. It’s always a shame when an author who’s work you like doesn’t come across as likeable.

downloadI did have a moment of excitement yesterday when the boy asked me if I had any Terry Pratchett he could read. Do I? I scoffed, knowing full well I have every Discworld book (from Guards!Guards! onwards they’re all in hardback too), as well as the pre Discworld stuff and Good Omens. I picked out the first of his YA Discworld novels, the Wee Free Men and gave it over to him (complete with the £4 off WHSmith sticker still stuck to the dust jacket) and left him to it.

Fingers crossed eh?

Me? I’m off to read Neil Perryman’s sequel to Adventures with the Wife in Space, which is about Blake’s 7…

Father’s Day Crafts Your Kids (And Dads!) Will Love

Father’s Day is fast approaching, as is that difficult decision of what to buy Dad. He is probably a bit fed up of receiving novelty socks and ties every year, but we all know how hard men are to buy for! However, your dad is special and this is an opportunity to show him how much you care. Why not surprise him this year with a unique and thoughtful handmade present, which he can treasure for years to come? A present the kids will enjoy making as much as dad will enjoy receiving.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s no excuse for not having the materials – around the UK there are plenty of craft stores with everything you need to get started.

Handmade Card

More often than not cards are expensive and generic, so opt for both the cheaper and more thoughtful option and make your own! Not only will this mean so much more to dad it can be designed however you wish. Choose the image – whether this is a drawing or photos – and then why not add on embellishments to turn it into a 3D card? Include your own message, taking this opportunity to let dad know how much you love him. A short and simple message or a personal poem works well.

Cake

The kids will love getting messy in the kitchen, whilst they learn to create a beautiful tasty cake that all the family can enjoy! Pick dad’s favourite sweet treat, whether that is a simple cupcake or something a bit more adventurous. Perhaps theme it around his favourite hobby or simply tell him in icing that he is “The Best Dad”! Finish it off by decorating with a tasty topping to create the cake of his dreams – perfect for a dad with a sweet tooth.

Thoughtful Present

However easy or complex the present is that the kids create and however much or little input you decide to have, it is the thought that counts. Your present can also be thoughtful! This could be a handmade frame to place a photo of dad and the kids or a painting of the family. A medal or crown to make daddy king for the day so he feels extra special, or a gift emblazoned with a personal message just for dad.

 

Useful Present

Kids will love cutting, gluing and sticking to create the perfect present, but why not use this time to create something that dad can also use on a daily basis? This might be a key ring so that he never loses his keys around the house again or a desk organiser that he can use at work. It will also be a great talking point in the office and opportunity to show off his wonderful kids.

Wrapping paper

You have created an original present for dad, so why not present it in your own unique packaging as well? Sit the kids down with a large piece of paper and let them draw, paint or colour as they wish. Not only will it keep them busy and quiet for a few hours so you can get on with your chores, the wrapping will be as thoughtful and personal as the present.

Practical ways to reduce your food waste

We could fill nine Wembley Stadiums every year with the amount of food we waste. That’s a shocking statistic to swallow. According to the Love Food Hate Waste organisation this adds up to 7 million tonnes, 4.4 million of which could have been eaten.

Okay then, you say, so how do I stop wasting food and throwing away so much at the end of the week?

Well, you could kick start your new ‘reduce food waste convictions’ by first avoiding those buy-one-get-one-free offers – and if the offer really is just too good (sometimes they are) and you have a big enough freezer, pick it up to keep on ice until you can eat it.

One of the main causes of food waste is buying too much of what we don’t have time to eat, before its Use By date, this leads us to another way of reducing what you throw away: learn what food labels actually mean.

Many of us throw away food before it has gone bad because we look at the Best Before date, which is actually just a guide on how long the food will stay fresh for. Display Until is another date that we don’t need to worry about; it’s simply there for shop staff. However it is important that you take note of the Use By dates on food, this is an indicator of when the food is safe to eat until, eating food after that date is a risk to your health.

Take a look at this interactive guide from the guys at ao.com, which goes into more detail about food labelling and what you can and can’t eat after certain dates. Knowledge is power – and more money in the bank.

Investing in some Pyrex is another great way of reducing food waste, most recipes out there are made with four people in mind so if there’s just one of you in the kitchen, popping the leftover portions into tubs to freeze for future consumption should make you feel better about eating alone. Just make sure you do eat them, you usually have at least a month after freezing a meal to eat it.

Talking of doing things alone, if you don’t have someone to go food shopping with who can keep you in check when it comes to picking up reduced bags of doughnuts, always ensure you eat a filling meal before you leave the house.

Yeah, you’ve heard it all before but shopping when hungry is an easy way to enter dangerous territory and a messy road to food wastage. Apparently you also shouldn’t shop for clothes while hungry, but if you’ve just eaten a big meal you’ll never fit in those skinny jeans in Topshop.

Once you’ve got your shopping home another easy and practical way to reduce your food waste is to store it in the right places. Sounds simple right? You’d be surprised what you’re doing wrong when it comes to keeping food fresh. Here’s a guide that details where to place food items in the fridge and here’s a breakdown on where fruit and veg should go. Apples should be stored away from other fruit? Who knew? You do.

So now you’re wise beyond your years when it comes to reducing food wastage it’s time to get out there, implement these practical tactics and share your knowledge on how to save money (and the world) with everyone you know.