Matilda Mae, the beautiful baby daughter of Jennie from Edspire, sadly died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on February 2nd 2013, at 9 months old.
This is such a tragic loss, and I wish there was more that any of us could do to help. The least we can do is to show our support for the Lullaby Trust who are working to make the future brighter for more babies by funding research into SIDS.
Tots100 are running an auction in memory of Matilda Mae to raise money for the Lullaby trust. You can read more about it here. The auction is anticipated to raise more than £3,500 for the charity.
The listings can be found here. All prizes are brand new and will be sent direct to winners and due to volume of prizes, new listings were still being added yesterday so there are still lots of chances to grab a bargain. Listings will be ending tomorrow and each day for the next few days so please do have a look before it ends.
Matilda Mae was such a beautiful little girl and clearly so loved and cherished. Jennie I am so so sorry for your loss.
Father’s Day is not too long off now – This year it will be on Sunday June 16th, so time to start helping the kids think of ways to spoil their Dad and hopefully our Father’s Day gift guide can help with that!
We have reviewed quite a few Father’s Day items recently, and also still have some great Father’s Day competitions running, so I have gathered them all together for you in a handy guide to make life easier – With a few extra ideas of my own thrown in.
Gifts for Dads with a young baby
A teething necklace for Dad to wear, to help him spend some quality time bonding. Have a look here for details about this from Gumigem, and our competition
Bibs or clothing with “Dad” slogans to dress up baby for the occasion! Funky Giraffe have Father’s Day bibs available, see our review and give away here.
Another personalised clothes suggestion, Mothercare have bodysuits with “Daddy I love you, love from <name>” from £6 which is quite reasonable. Have a look here.
Personalised gifts always have the extra thoughtful touch. What about a personalised photobook customised exactly how you would like it, for the children to read with their Dad at bedtime? We reviewed love2read personalised books here, and also have a giveaway here
Or you could make Dad the main character of a story. We also reviewed a personalised book from Its Your Story, all about a zoo adventure with Dad! Have a look here for more details and to see our thoughts. You can get 20% off by using the code DADDYCOOL
You could also get a phone cover or mug printed with a picture of Dad and the kids.
There are quite a few companies that will print your Instagram pics into magnets, could be a cool idea if Dad is into his Instagram, especially if there are some nice pics of him and the kids. One company is picpack but there are various ones, so google it and see 🙂
There are loads more little personalised gifts around like chocolates, lighters, pens, mugs and many more.
A really good quality Jumper or hooded cardigan. I recently posted the Cashmirino Look book, who are doing clothes for Dads as well as children. It’s definitely at the luxury end with the mens items over £300 each but they do look very nice, if you have the money to splash!
Cufflinks – La Jewellery have some lovely ones with “I love Dad” on in a very subtle design, so it has the message on it but it’s something he could still realistically wear in the office. See our giveaway and more details here
Food & Drink Related Gifts
For the tea loving Dads, what about a tea subscription – different teas through the postbox each month! LoveTea is offering a variety of gift subscriptions on their luxury teas. Look here for our review, and you can use the code PLAYROOM40 for 40% discount!
Baker Days do personalised cakes with pictures or messages on, which we have tried before and are very nice! We had one before for anniversary. They also fit through the letterbox which could be handy if Dad is working away or anything like that.
A family meal out is always nice; Quality time for all the family.
Ideas on a Budget
Home-made gifts done by the children: They could make him the usual card or painting, or even try something a bit different like painting on rocks to make a paper weight or decoration for him. We made some of these before here, not for any occasion, but you could encourage the children to paint the word Dad on it, or paint a small picture of Dad if they are old enough.
Any painting or picture can be made a bit more special by framing it. They have some extra deep frames very cheap in Ikea if you need to accomodate kid’s masterpieces with bits and pieces stuck onto it (pasta, pom poms and all the usual!) There are some for £3.50 which is pretty good (It’s called Ribba frame) as I have seen this idea elsewhere a lot more expensive!
Making a special picture out of babies hand or footprints. There are loads of ideas for this on Pinterest, so you can tailor it to whatever Dad is into and make a really cute keep sake. This could be a good idea for the front of a card too.
After all that, If you are still unsure, then there is always the trusty gift certificate. Amazon is a good choice, because they have such a wide range!
Our Father’s Day Competitions
Make sure you don’t miss out on any! We have the following competitions running, all closing in time for Father’s Day:
I recently posted about Junk Modelling and I would describe this outdoors loose parts play as being another form of junk play, but on a much bigger scale. It’s basically any items or pieces that can be picked up and moved around, and used by the children however they wish. It includes any type of materials, whether big or small, natural or synthetic – so the possibilities are really endless!
It’s something I let the children do sometimes without knowing there was a name for it, so was quite interested to know there is a theory behind it. I think kids have a natural instinct in them to just start playing with things and manipulating any objects to fit in with their play. It’s lovely to watch them and see what ideas they can come up with, and observe their imagination at work!
There is a brilliant explanation and summary of loose parts play over here so I don’t think I need to repeat everything, they have a list of suitable parts (although it could be almost anything!) and some great pictures too so worth having a look.
Here are some pics of my little ones playing in the garden with the pieces of wood from some of the broken down beds, when we were redecorating the rooms recently. At the time didn’t realise its a form of “loose parts play” but thought it would be nice for them to do some construction play on a bigger than normal scale!
Started off building a house, with the 4 walls.
It quickly got bulldozed by one of his brothers in the cosy coupe! So on to Plan B!
They decided to work together to build a different kind of house – more of a platform, putting all the wooden slats on top of the old sandbox frame
Fun to stand on and balance and jump off too!
My 4 year old joined in when he came back from school, to make a slide from some of the wood balanced onto the picnic table. He makes a great pirate ship too with the picnic table, a broom and a slide 🙂
Sue from Play to Z also mentioned to me that there are some interesting videos around on loose parts play, so I did have a look and found some great examples of how this concept has been introduced in schools and the benefit its having on the children. It’s quite fascinating, when you think these days that there are so many gadgets around for children and that often we think of children growing up so quickly, but you see here in the video even Junior school age children getting so enthusiastic and showing such enjoyment playing with such low tech and basic items. It really does engage their imaginations!
Worth a look – This one is Scrapstore Playpods and is about 10 mins
Had you heard of loose parts play before? Or got any interesting examples or pics to share, would love to hear any comments 🙂
Autumn Publishers recently sent us some of their new scented range of books – Smellessence – to try out. We have had other books from Autumn Publishers in the past and found them good, so were really excited to see what these new ones were like!
We were sent the Theo story book, which was the first Scented book which was launched (I remember seeing it on Twitter at the time and thinking it looked good!) and also sent a selection of 4 of the new Splotz books – Splitz, Blossom, Bubbles and Ice.
Theo is the story of a little dog who has lost his sense of smell. The book takes you along on a stroll through the park with him while he sniffs all different things to try and get his sense of smell back. The child can smell many of the pages, with scents like honey, roses and ice cream.
The illustrations are very cute and Theo seems like a loveable dog! I liked the idea of having the book scented as it’s something different than all our other books, and adds an extra sensory dimension to the story. My boys enjoyed sniffing the pages, and the scents are quite pleasant, and definitely strong enough to notice. I would say each of the different scents are quite similar, but you can see a bit of difference particularly between the sweet honey, and the others.
My children wanted the story to go on for a bit longer! But there is another book in the range now, Theo at the seaside so we may have to give that one a try.
As for the Splotz books, the first thing my boys got excited about was the scented stickers at the back! Each book has two pages of scented stickers, when you rub them the scent is released more. They do smell quite strongly and the scents are very distinctive and quite recognisable as mint, banana, cherry and bubblegum flavours.
So before we got started reading the books, my oldest wanted to have a go with the stickers and made a little picture
He was quite interested in the scented aspect of them and kept sniffing all of them. They do smell quite nice, so I have to admit I was tempted to do the same too.
As for the stories, each book focuses on a different Splotz character and follows a similar format whereby the character needs to watch out incase they go “Splotz!” – which they all do at the end of each book, to release their scents. Each one has a different personality, whether its shy or giggly or rushing around too much.
Each of the books are written in rhyme and with a lot of repetition, so that the child starts to anticipate the catch phrases which are going to come up. Once they have read one, then they will understand the format and know what to expect with the others too, and with my children I found they were happy to listen to all of the stories because although they are similar the character and scents are different. My boys favourite character was ice, the minty scented character and my 4 year old was the one who enjoyed these books the most.
There are more varieties available too, Coco, Honey, Bluze and Mucky which we have not tried yet and I have seen there are activity sticker books out for the 4 characters which we did try, which I’m sure my boys would enjoy. The scented aspect of the books definitely added an extra element of fun and I would recommend them if you fancy something a bit new and different.
If you fancy treating the kids to some of these, Autumn Publishers have given me a code to share. Have a look here and use the code “halfterm” to get 30% off at the check out.
Love2read are a company specialising in personalised photobooks, with an emphasis on children’s reading.
We were given the opportunity to make our own and I was really pleased with how it came out. It offers a really wide range of personalisation and you have a lot of flexibility with the template, so you can make it however you would like it to be! There are not a lot of constraints at all.
The people at love2read kindly made me a unique template so that the book could be called “Our Dada” – rather than “My Dad” as that way all my children can share it and it’s more relevant to them. I have seen other variants on the website too so I am sure if you ask them for any version of what you would prefer, they would accommodate you!
Here’s my 3 and 4 year old sharing the book at bedtime!
As you can see the front cover is made up of 4 of the pictures from inside. This will be whichever pictures you choose for the first 4 pages.
You get to chose 10 pictures for the book, and also chose exactly what is written on each page. Each one starts with Our Dada.. (or whatever you have chosen, eg My Dad) then you can just fill it in!
Our Dada is great
Our Dada makes us laugh
Our Dada takes us on days out
Our Dada is strong
Our Dada goes to work every day
Our Dada goes on rides with us
Our Dada takes us to the park
Our Dada drives us in his car
Our Dada loves our Mum
Our Dada loves us.
Each one with a suitable matching picture.
As you can imagine, their Dad was quite pleased with it when he came home to see a book starting off with how great he is! It’s nice to have a such a lovely positive book for them to share and appreciate their dad. For a slightly older child to actually design and pick all the photos and words themselves would be a really touching gift for any Dad as its a way to express all their favourite things about him and let him know he is really appreciated.
Another thing I found really good about the book is that with all the sentences being so short and simple, and with the key words being repeated, it is very suitable for young children learning to read. My 4 year old is learning at the moment, and he was able to read the whole book. Seeing the family pictures inside the book kept him interested and he was able to read it without complaining that he’s getting tired of reading, which he sometimes does with other reading books. At the end the 2 main key words are repeated several times on the back page, so that children at the very start of learning to read could just pick those out and learn to recognise the couple of words.
My 3 year old gets really excited by seeing any pictures of Dada when he is out at work, so he was very interested in this and enthusiastic about having a look at all the pages. I also put in pictures of the boys with Dada, and me with Dada, and of course Dada’s car (couldn’t miss that – they all love the car!) so they all had fun spotting everyone and everything in all of the pictures.
The book is quite a small compact size so you could easily take it out with you if you need something to keep the children entertained while out and about, and each page is made from strong thick good quality paper so not likely to rip. The cover has a glossy sheen to it.
There are other varieties on the love2read website too. It would be quite nice to make a set of all different ones, and I will definitely bare it in mind for the future. It is very easy to customise and order the book on the website and it came pretty quickly so I would really recommend the company.
If you want to order for Father’s Day – their last date for orders is 10th June so don’t put it off too long!
If you like the sound of these books and would like the chance to win your own, click here for our competition post where you can enter via the rafflecopter widget!
Win a love2read personalised reading book for your child!
Make Pa the star
We recently received one of these personalised books to review, and found it great! Read the review here and have a look below for the chance to win one of your own!
We are pleased to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to create their own My dad… love2read personalised love2read book in our fabulous competition.
Dads will love being the star of the bedtime story, so love2read has come up with the perfect Father’s Day gift in the form of a unique, personalised book. Their range of books can be personalised by adding ten photos and text to the pages e.g. “My dad plays golf”, “My dad likes cars” or “My dad loves me”.
love2read’s website is full of templates, all you have to do is pick the one that you want, upload your ten digital photos and then add some simple text. There is a wide selection of templates to choose from including – My dad…, My daddy…, Our dad… and My grandad…
The books are themed around National Curriculum keywords and are designed to stimulate the child’s interest in books so that they really want to read. No software is needed, the website is easy to use and you can even save your book as you go along if you need to come back to it later.
This year, give a Father’s Day gift the whole family will treasure forever – and help your child catch the reading bug at the same time. To ensure books arrive in time for Father’s Day, orders need to be placed by midday on 10th June.
For further information and to see the range of books on offer please visit their website at: www.love2read.co.uk
You can follow love2read on Twitter and Pinterest or join them on Facebook where you will find information on how to help your child to read and activities to encourage early literacy skills.
Cashmirino is a company specialising in pure cashmere children’s clothes. They cater for babies (upto 18months), children (upto 8 years), juniors (upto 14 years) and now also Dads.
They have some really lovely things! I know my boys would like to wear the hooded cardigans; they look so soft and comfy as well as smart. I couldn’t resist having a look through the baby range too, especially as one of my best friends is expecting at the moment.
It would probably be at the top end of most people’s budget but for special occasions or special gifts where you feel like splashing out a little bit, it could be ideal.
Cashmirino have asked me to share their new SS13 Look book with you! So have a look below 🙂
#CookWithPyrex Twitter Party 10 June 10.30 – 11.30am
Pyrex is a trademark of Corning Inc, used by permission
We have some exciting news to share! After Our first party with SA Fruit, we are getting ready to host our 2nd Twitter party! This time, sponsored by Pyrex.
On Monday 10th June from 10.30-11.30am, we will be getting together on Twitter to chat about cooking convenient but healthy family meals, sharing tips and ideas, and of course giving the opportunity to win plenty of prizes!
We would love to see you all at the Twitter party! June 10th, 10.30-11.30am – Don’t forget! 😉
Competition Terms & Conditions:
1. Open to UK residents only.
2. There are four prizes to be won, each consisting of £25 worth of the Summer Pyrex collection.
3. Each of the four prizes will be won by someone participating in the #cookwithPyrex Twitter party and tweeting using the hashtag between 10:30 and 11:30 am on Monday 10th June.
4. Winners will be chosen at random from all qualifying tweets.
5. Winners will be chosen by @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy,@TheBrickCastle and @theplayroomblog.
7. The Pyrex prizes will be sent direct from the PR company, winner’s details will be passed on to them for prize fulfillment.
8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
9. Winners will be notified via Twitter DM, you must be following one of the following Twitter accounts to be notified – @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy,@TheBrickCastle and @theplayroomblog.
10. Please kindly follow our sponsor @PyrexUK too. Thank you.
Recently on Playfest we had a session on Junk Modelling. It’s not something we do all the time but the children always really enjoy it and it gave me a push to let them do it a bit more often.
We were joined by the lovely Maggy Woodly from Red Ted Art, who came to share some of her ideas with us and give us some inspiration. A week or so before that I won her new book on twitter, which I was very happy about and as you can see so was my little boy!
I have to say, none of our projects turn out looking as good as they do in the book! I’m just telling myself it’s more about the “process” and the kids enjoyment, rather than the finished results. We will keep trying!
Here’s some pics of my boys in action, creating some “masterpieces” out of our junk packaging!
Here we have a space themed rattle/shaker made by my 4 year old out of a giant lolipop packet, filled with some pulses, decorated with paint and sparkles, and fixed together with decorative star tape – tada!!
This is our rocket. It’s made out of an old chocolate milk container, covered in tissue paper and foil and painted. This is still up on the shelf in their playroom, 4yr old is very proud of it!
I think this one was a boat 🙂
More junk modelling play, with the younger 2 they were just really exploring the materials rather than having a project in mind.
Here’s some ideas of materials you can put aside to use
Any form of cardboard, cereal boxes, packaging, shoe boxes. Really big boxes can be used to make giant models which can be played in
Any form of tubes – kitchen rolls, toilet rolls
Foil sweet wrappers, or tin foil
Plastic bottles, drinks bottles, fairy liquid etc
Tubs from butter or yoghurts
Bits of felt
Junk play is good for hand eye coordination, fine motor skills – using skills like cutting with scissors, gluing and painting – and of course for developing the imagination. Their creations have the potential to become anything they wish! I love seeing the sense of pride and achievement in what they have made.
Pyrex is a brand name I have always known and trusted. I still have some of their glass cookware which I bought when I was newly married (which is 8 years now – time flies!) and that is still going strong but I was really excited when they sent us some of their other products to try out, and I hope you will be excited to hear about them too.
Pyrex kindly sent us the following Pyrex Cookware items to try out:
We were sent this in deep red and it looks great! It is something that you can easily cook in and then bring it out to serve at the table as it looks so appealing. It is a natural stoneware item and it feels such good quality, strong and well made with a nice solid feel to it.
This is from the Impressions range which is based on a vintage feel. As well as white and red, it comes in an ocean blue which sounds lovely. I really like the brightly coloured stoneware, to give a cheerful look in the kitchen.
I first tried out this roaster with a marinated baby chicken. It just fitted inside perfectly and came out delicious. Due to the high quality stoneware, the roaster keeps it heat for longer so its good for slow cooking. I left the chicken in the oven for quite long on a low gas mark, and it came out with much better results than with my normal method of roasting it on a baking tray using foil.
This stoneware could also be used for cooking so many different things like stuffed roast peppers, a big lasagne, or even for deserts a big apple crumble.
It was really easy to clean too, none of the food stuck to it or got burnt on in the oven.
The next item I tried out was the from the Pyrex Classic Glassware – Iconic Kitchen Essentials range. This is the most similar one to the Pyrex I already had, and I would agree it is a real classic as it can be used for so many things and has been loved through the generations! I remember my mum and grandma also baking in glassware like this.
This Pyrex range is made of Borosilicate Glass whereas cheaper brands may be made of Soda Lime Glass. The Borosilicate can withstand temperatures from -40°C upto 300°C and is able to safely go from the fridge to the oven, without any risks. This higher level of safety is obviously reassuring with young children around! Being able to withstand such a range of temperatures means that you are fine to cook food in advance, freeze it, then defrost it and bake in the oven. You can also marinade something in the fridge in advance, then put it straight into the oven when you are ready, without any concerns. I often do use mine straight from the fridge to the oven as that’s handy when you want to get most of the preparation work done earlier in the day.
Yesterday I cooked macaroni cheese in this glass Pyrex, as a quick and easy dinner for the children. I find these classic Pyrex really handy for any type of oven baked dinners. They are ideal for anything like shepherds pie, fish pie, or moussaka. I’ve also used these for desserts in the past, and I even serve salads in them sometimes as its such a versatile item it can be used to serve pretty much anything! These come with a lid which is really handy too.
This is much shallower than the other glass ware item and is really ideal for any kind of flan or tart. I used this to make a simple trifle, which my 4 year old helped with.
As with the previous item, it is resistant to the same wide range of heat. This range is all totally dishwasher safe too, and stain resistant, which should make it really long lasting and looking good for years.
What’s different about this range is that you can even use it to cook food by steaming it in the microwave! The lid is a unique design with an air valve, which can be open to allow you to cook or reheat the food, and closed to keep the container totally leak proof and air proof.
The bottom part of the container is made of the borosilicate glass and is fine to go in the oven, of course not with the lid. This makes it much more versatile than Tupperware, but it can still be used to freeze and store food for batch cooking. It makes it easy to cook, freeze, defrost and eat so easily all with the same one container! I can see how this is really handy, and maybe it will help me to finally get organised and do some batch cooking in advance. I keep telling myself I need to do batch cooking and meal planning!
I have to say, I am really impressed with all the Pyrex ranges – although I expected no less as I know Pyrex is a very good and reliable brand. There is a reason it’s been a household name for so many years, and that is because it’s such good quality. I was never aware of how much variety they have available though! I always tended to think of Pyrex just as the classic glassware, but the stoneware and multifunctional ranges are brilliant too.
You can find loads of recipes on the Pyrex website too, to help you out if you are lacking in a bit of inspiration about what to cook. Have a look here!
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