We love reading books to the kids whenever we get the chance. Every night is story night, where we all gather on the sofa and get lost in a good book.

It has been proven that regular reading time with children has many benefits to parent and child. Snuggling down with a good book builds the unique bonds between families, especially as children get older and they choose to spend more time running and playing than sitting on your lap for a cuddle. Reading to babies as well as toddler and older children improves vocabulary skills. A newborn baby will look at strong black and white images (you can buy bold B&W books for infants on Amazon) and listen to the words you say. So if the book has no words, make up a simple story to go with the pictures. The fundaments of language are picked up from an early age by reading to kids, letter recognition and basic reading is fast forward too, great help for pre-schoolers.

The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home

incredible intergalactic journey home

Personalising books has become increasingly popular recently, allowing parents to tweak stories to feature their children. The fab team at LostMyName have a new and exciting book available for children (and adults) of all ages to enjoy. The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home, tells the tale of your child and their friend called Hubble on a secret trip in outer space, until a meteor throws them off course and they have to find they way back home to planet earth.  Of course, the 2 characters meet an array of animals, aliens and sea creatures on their mission back home and even see an iconic British landmark too. The book takes the characters all the way home, finishing with a superb satellite photograph of their actual home!


We made the book for Ivy, and she loved the story from the very beginning right through to the end. She loves seeing her name spelt out in stars and knows exactly where to point to show us which house is ours. It’s incredible to not only be able to personalise a book with your child’s name but to also include an aerial photograph of their home. The whole side of our town can be seen in the photograph too, so we had great fun looking at the roads we knew and even some of our friends houses too.

dscn4696The book is a large size and is easy to hold with big clear pictures to goggle over. There is even a bit in the story where we have to turn the book length ways which was a nice surprise. The illustrations are nice and bright, and the text is a decent size too. The book even has some of the text printed in fun ways, such as the letters bouncing all over the page!


The order process is quick and simple, with just a few fields to type into and a number of customisable “boiler-plate” dedications to go inside the front page. Once we’d placed our order, we were able to track online at each stage of production using our own unique code.

Negatives? We can’t genuinely think of any – books are a big part of life at the Newhouse Family. Well written, eye catching and exciting. A wonderful book to cherish forever, and the whole family can enjoy.

The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home is written by David Cadji-Newby and Pedro Serapicos and costs £19.99. And available from the LostMyName website. Postage is FREE and the book arrived well packaged and secure! We love free shipping at The Newhouse Family.

Ivy reading

The Self Sufficiency Manual book review

The Self Sufficiency Manual: A Complete, Practical Guide to Living Off the Land has been my regular nightly reading since my dad got it for me for Christmas.  This year we have made it our mission to live more self sufficiently. Despite living very frugally already by no longer buying nappies, baby wipes and even toilet paper, growing some of our own food and recycling and reusing what we can, we have come to the realisation that we really can do so much more to stop relying on heavily mass produced goods. As we approach the end of January my garden has already seen plenty of action. We have been clearing up the small growing space that we have, preparing our vegetable beds and sorting our seeds out ready for planting. I’ve even been able to get a few seedlings started off ready for planting out when the time is right.

the self sufficiency manual

The Self Sufficiency Manual by Alison Candlin, is the compete practical guide for beginners and those who are way more experienced than myself at living the self sufficient lifestyle. The book is more than just a gardening guide and contains the ins-and-outs of growing most well known (and many slightly less known) vegetables, fruits and herbs. There is information on what seasonal jobs there are to undertake, water and energy conservation, animal husbandry, preserving your food and even gathering food and fuel from the wild. Oh and trimming your bush. Literally of course.

We have a small back garden and an even smaller front garden. Sadly our back garden is mostly shaded by the house, but the front is a complete sun trap. We have decided to utilise every inch of space to efficiently and effectively grow enough food to feed our family of 5 as much as we possibly can. I am looking forward to this journey, and to see how we cope and adapt to this (rather fun) challenge. The drawing board is full of ideas, and some of which are a little bizarre. Who knew a kitchen sink made such a great planter for carrots!? At least it makes our neighbours’ kids’ laugh on the school run.

The Self Sufficiency Manual has clear easy to follow text, colourful eye catching photographs and diagrams throughout. From organising different sized plots of land to pruning and training a grape vine, this book clearly explains it all with it’s clear diagrams. The book contains a lot of written text but is divided up into easy-to-digest chunks of information that does not require you to read the book from front-to-back. You can simply pick up the book and flick to the bits you need.

the self sufficiciency manual

Stepping out of the garden and into the house, The Self Sufficiency Manual is packed with tasty recipes too. So after harvesting the fruits of your labours, you can cook up some yummy dishes to impress your family and friends over the dining table. There is a large section too on preserving your food from freezing, to dehydrating and even canning, so nothing need go to waste and you can enjoy your harvests all year round.

Animal husbandry is made exciting with useful sections on chicken keeping, milking your goats and even bee keeping, if any of those things float your boat (or ‘rock your barn’ I should say). We keep just 4 free-range chickens that produce enough eggs for my family to enjoy and I feel no need to keep any other animals. Not only do we just not have the space (and while my neighbours withstand a lot of our madness, I think a goat would tip them over the edge) we gave up eating meat and dairy (except for our lush eggs) last year. But for those who would like to expand their self sufficiency skills beyond the veggie patch there is plenty of information about keeping animals to certainly get you going to some degree.

Don’t expect to read the book and walk away as a fully impressive farmer (and my farming ancestors would chuckle at calling what we do ‘farming’) but as far as life-manuals go, this book really has caught my eye and kept me up way past my bedtime on many, many occasions. A well written book, for people of all ages and levels of their self sufficient journey. It certainly contains enough information within its 256 pages to get your journey into self sufficiency off to a cracking start. Oh and there is even a whole section dedicated to building your own composting toilet.
The Self Sufficiency Manual: A Complete, Practical Guide to Living Off the Land by Alison Candlin is £14.99 on Amazon, and the ISBN # is 978-1408156551.

me and margo