A couple of photos from earlier in the weekend:
Linking up to:
A couple of photos from earlier in the weekend:
Linking up to:
As well as doing the usual product reviews here on the blog, I also like to get involved in testing out any new products or services. Yes, I am one of those people you see in the supermarket spotting and trying everything new rather than sticking to the same old thing. Sometimes I stick with them, and sometimes I have to go back to my tried and tested favourites!
I thought I would show you a round up of a few of the websites and products I have been working with recently. You don’t always have to be a blogger to get involved, so I will give you some details at the end of the post of how you could join up to some of the schemes if you are interested.
This is a blogger scheme. I will be working with Shoplet Office Stationary to review and show you all some of their ranges in the future. This week they sent our welcome packs with a mixture of stationary and office supplies like glue, notebook and pencils set which always comes in handy with the kids. Mr T has been busy doing some sticking with the glue stick and some pages from the next directory this morning!
This is another blogger scheme, and they have also sent their welcome gift this week- Blackhead Killer Face Masks
This comes in a pack of 10 and is quite a strong face mask. You apply it for 10 minutes and then peel off. The face mask is totally black and cleans out any impurities from the skin. Once I applied it, I could quickly feel the effect of it getting to work. It seems more gender neutral than most face masks due to the style of packaging and the black colour, so I think my husband could use these too. When Mr Z saw me with the face mask on, he said he wants to try it, but he will have to wait til he is older!
Once the mask had dried, I felt my skin had tightened up and the mask peeled off so easily once I was done with it! I have to say this is one of the best masks I have tried in terms of how cleanly and easily it peels. Once finished, my skin did feel well cleansed and felt very smooth. Although it may not be the most appealing mask in terms of packaging and colour – it does its job really well.
I will also be working with Nano-B to test our their new antibacterial toothbrushes. They are self sterilising and have nano-size particles of Gold & Silver in the bristles. I will let you all know how I get on with these over time as they have sent me a yearly supply. So far they seem great.
Febreeze from Savvycircle
They are all nice. If you want to see what they are like before choosing, there is a scratch and sniff section on the packet. I will let you know how we get on with them over time.
Anyone can join Savvy Circle via Supersavvyme so
Guinness Book of World Records for Mumsnet
If you haven’t seen me mention before, I am a Mumsnetter and have been on their talk boards for quite a few years now. Apart from being the best parenting forums around they also give us the chance to do product tests every now and then! This morning the postman brought us the new Guinness World Records for 2014. I haven’t got any of these books for the boys before but now Mr Z is getting a bit older and showed a lot of interest in it. It has a wide range of topics in it, from sports to animals and seems like it will be great to find out some random facts and fuel Mr Z’s curiosity for learning. He was really keen to find out who is the fastest runner and what is the fastest car.
Reading Scheme with Room to Grow
Room to Grow have organised a scheme for bloggers where we are each sent books for our children and then forward them on to each other, like a postal library. This is to help encourage reading and support children’s literacy, which is always a good aim.
I chose to get books for Mr Z’s age group of 5-8 as he gets through his books quickly and is always looking for more. At the moment we have Usborne Under the Sea which is a non fiction book.
Duplo with Social Soup
This project has just finished, but I thought I would tell you all about it anyway as we really loved taking part in this one. We have been testing out the Lego Duplo Number train and Lego Duplo Green Brick Box with Social Soup. I would definitely recommend these toys to any little ones who are not quite old enough for Lego. It was perfect for Mr R and Mr T (age 2 and 3) and Mr Z (5) still enjoyed playing with it too. For this project we had to let their friends test it out too and I haven’t had a negative reaction to it from any child! I loved Duplo myself as a child. I think its universally great toy for any generation or any gender.
Anyone can get involved in Social Soup whether you’re a blogger or not – so it’s worth having a look. Some other sites to try if you want to try and test new products are:
*Postbox image from freedigitalphotos.net – Image creator digitalart
Have you been trying anything interesting lately? Let me know in the comments!
As you may have guessed from my blog title, our Playroom is at the heart of our home. I love having a dedicated space for the children to play and somewhere that can be decorated in a bright and bold way to reflect the children’s character.
Little Devils Direct stock a great range of playroom furniture and kindly agreed to send over a couple of pieces for us to review. Our old bookcase had recently broken so this was ideal timing for me to replace it with a lovely pencil themed one from Little Devil’s Direct.
They have a full range of furniture to match with this design. I love the look of it as it’s so childish and fun – perfect for a playroom! Our reading corner is an essential part of the playroom and this bookcase fitted in very well. It does not take up much space at all but fits a surprisingly high amount of books on it. As the books are at quite a low level they are all accessible for the children to reach and take when they want, so I am using this book case for all the board books (and Mr R’s beloved Thomas annual collection as he has to take these out and look at all the Thomas pictures several times per day!) The bookcase fits in just next to the sofa, so it’s ideal to grab a book and snuggle up to read together with the children.
I got the boys’ dad to build the bookcase for me. He is never keen when I ask him to build, but when he opened this he was quite pleased to see that he wouldn’t need any screw drivers and it was pretty simple. He had it built very quickly and easily.
And here it is in our playroom:
The quality of the book case is really good. It feels solid and well made, and much more expensive than it actually is – only £19.95 at Little Devils Direct! (RRP is £59.95)
Little Devils Direct also sent us an extra surprise, a brand new item in the range! This is a coat stand in matching design to the bookcase.
This was even easier for my husband to put together and he had it done within only a few minutes. The coat stand is really cute and has the same bright and colourful pencil design. There are hooks at 3 height levels, making a total of 10 hooks to hang coats or bags.
Again, this is pretty sturdy. It has a wide base at the bottom so I wouldn’t worry about this toppling over.
Our playroom is at the back of the house, so it would make more sense for me to keep this coat rack in the hallway so that I can encourage the children to hang up their coat and school bags when we get home each day rather than just chucking everything. The problem for me is that I have a massive double buggy in my hall! So when I’m able to stop using that, and replace it with the coat rack in the corner then I will be quite happy! Meanwhile I have it in Mr T and Mr Z’s room so they can hang some of their clothes on it, like their hoodies and dressing gowns. It fits really well into their room and doesn’t take up much space there as it is a large enough room. The boys really like both of the new pencil themed pieces of furniture and think they look cool! I am really pleased with the quality and design and the furniture and am quite tempted to get the matching wall shelf to go above the book case once we run out of space for our books.
I’m sure some of you will remember, I have been reviewing a few things for Ozeri recently. One of them being my lovely green wok. Now I have been trying out the matching smaller frying pan, and as expected it is the same great quality. (You can see all my Ozeri reviews here)
The 8″ Green Earth Pan from Ozeri is a great handy every day frying pan, I have been getting loads of use out of it. It’s great for quick dishes like scrambled eggs or fried prawns.
The ceramic non stick coating is brilliant and makes it so easy to clean. It’s reassuring to know that all the Green Earth pans are ultra-safe with 100-Percent PTFE and PFOA Free. It is also scratch resistant, which is great as its always such a shame to see your non stick surface ruined!
Just like with the Wok, I love the bright green colour. It makes my kitchen look more cheerful and is much nicer than plain old boring black.
I would definitely recommend Ozeri Products in general, and if you are looking for a new frying pan then this would be a great choice.
I’m not normally much of a ranty person, but this week people have really been getting on my nerves! I have been moaning on Facebook earlier in the week, but I’m still annoyed so I have decided to join in with the Ranty Friday linky for the first time!
I’ve recently moved over to using my side by side buggy full time (see previous post about the difficulty of finding double buggies big enough to fit my almost 4 year old with asd), and this week I took it into Central London. It is pretty massive. For some reason people seem to behave as though you have chosen a massive buggy for the sole purpose of peeing them off!
If I did not need to push around a giant buggy and two heavy children, trust me I would not! Perhaps when people see such a big child sitting in a buggy they think it’s a “lazy child” or just “lazy parenting”. I really doubt that lazy people would drag about 50kg (combined weight of buggy and 2 kids) up and down stairs and push it around all day just for fun!
I never noticed any rudeness when I had the kids in the Phil & Teds. It seems like being much smaller, this is a more acceptable buggy in people’s eyes. It is quite rare to see big side by side buggies in some parts of Central London, whereas you see Phil & Teds on every street! Understandable, as they are so much easier to get onto buses and ours did serve us well when the boys were younger. With that buggy, I always found it easier to get it up and down stairs too. I’m used to it and I have the right technique so I don’t need help from anyone. Obviously as the boys get bigger and heavier it does get harder and harder.
With my new Out n About Double, it is harder. To be honest, with younger toddlers it would probably be okay, I am just getting to the stage now that whatever buggy I have the boys are going to be too heavy to lift so it’s not just the fault of this buggy.
My first complaint is why can’t they sort level access at more of the tube stations so that this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place! Eventually I am going to get to the frustrating stage that many wheelchair users must be at already, where I can not use the majority of tube stations at all with my kids, because of my child’s disabilities and the lack of access. (He can walk. But he can not manage stairs like that, and lack of danger awareness means it wouldn’t be safe for him to be around the train tracks without being strapped in.) The tube is a brilliant network and part of the fabric of our city – it needs to be made accessible to everyone as it’s really unfair.
My second complaint is about people’s attitudes while you are struggling with heavy buggies on the stairs. I don’t particularly expect anyone to help me – although it’s nice for people to offer, no one owes me anything and I will get on with what I need to do. BUT for goodness sake, if you are not going to offer or ask if I need a hand then don’t turn around and stare at me while I struggle with my buggy. I had a woman the other day literally swivel her head right around and stare. It is so rude!
My final complaint is one particular lady in Waitrose (and it’s not the first time I have come across rudeness in Waitrose, it’s a lovely shop – shame about the customers!!!!!). She just outright refused to move to the side a bit to let me get my buggy past, after shoving her basket right into my 3 year old’s face (to make some kind of point?? She knew she did it, cos she then said oh look my basket is in your child’s face!) I do not know what on earth is wrong with people that they think it is okay to behave like that? Manners cost nothing. Yes, my buggy is big and needs more space than average to get through – moving a couple of steps to the side would have taken her two seconds. One day she might have mobility problems herself as she gets older, and I’m sure she will be appreciate people not blocking her way on purpose, so why not treat others the same way!
And ironically after bumping into all these rude people the other day, I came home and logged on to Twitter to see that it was World Kindness Day! Hmph… Clearly some people never got the Memo!
I’m linking up to Ranty Friday on Mummy Barrow:
Wilko have some great value wooden toys for little ones. We were sent over this wooden ark to review (I will be giving one away in the Advent Competitions too, so don’t forget to come and enter!)
The ark has a few different aspects to it which gives plenty of play value and has been keeping Mr T (3) and Mr R (2) entertained. It comes with 10 animal play pieces (2x monkeys, 2x lions, 2x zebras, 2x giraffes, 2x elephants) and two people. It also has a set of stairs which you can make the animals walk up.
The side of the ark is a shape sorter so you can put the animals into the ark by matching them up with the correct space, or if you are in a hurry when tidying up you can just remove the roof and place all of the pieces inside.
All of the pieces are good quality chunky wood with brightly coloured paint. They are very cute and are the perfect size for Mr T and Mr R. As the pieces are thick they don’t fall over when you stand them up which avoids the children getting frustrated when playing.
Both the boys love boats, so as soon as they saw the Ark they were very interested! It has been quite a while now since we received this toy and they are still getting it out to play with most days which is great!
I love the look of the ark as it is so nice and bright, and wooden toys always look really appealing so it looks good on their playroom shelves too. I also like the little wooden woman character as it looks like me in hijab!
This ark is only £10 in Wilko which is a great price really as wooden toys can be quite expensive! It is a really nice toy, and as I mentioned, if you fancy this toy for your own child then do keep an eye out for the competition coming up soon!
This year, Tesco have some new really luxurious chocolates in store. The new range has been made by the same chocolatiers who work with Hotel Chocolat and Harrods and are made from the highest quality ingredients – but they are still at Tesco prices!
We were sent a couple of treats from the Tesco Christmas chocolate range to try out and review, and I was really keen to try them out. I love eating chocolate in front of the TV in the evening now and again. Especially over Christmas time with a film like Love Actually or Bridget Jones on and some of these lovely chocolates to eat, you could hardly get more relaxing! (All of our original chocolates have been eaten by now – we will buy some more though!)
The first product we opened was the Tesco Milk Chocolate Gingerbread Stars. These have an RRP of £4 but can often be found on offer at 2 for £6.
I have to say, these were my favourite. I love the look of them as they are so cute! The box is filled with these chunky milk chocolate stars all covered in gingerbread pieces and some white chocolate drizzled in there too. The gingerbread definitely added a lovely wintery flavour to the chocolate, and I found that really nice. It reminded me of Gingerbread latte, it’s not an overpowering strong ginger taste just quite a subtle christmassy gingerbread kind of effect. They are also ideal for sharing as they are all individual stars as opposed to a big bar that you have to break up.
The next item was the Tesco Chokablok Santastic Cinnamon. This tree shaped chocolate block has an RRP of £5 and is also available in Cherry or Christmas Pudding varieties.
This is a really appealing looking chocolate bar, and quite reminded me of the large chocolate slabs that you can get from Hotel Chocolat, but much more Christmassy as it has the novelty shape of a Christmas tree! This would appeal to both adults and children and is quite a large bar at 150g. The Milk chocolate is topped with caramelized biscuit crumbles, cinnamon, and gold dusted malty balls.
I found the taste of this sweeter than the gingerbread stars. I really liked it, but did prefer the stars slightly more. They would both make an ideal small Christmas gift or stocking filler though, and I am quite interested in trying the Christmas Pudding flavour of the Chokablok bars!
Which one do you like the look of? Let me know in the comments!
With the gloomy winter months fast approaching, a Winter Break sounds like a brilliant idea – whether something in a hotter climate to give some much needed sunshine, or just somewhere else in the UK for a chance to relax and recharge your batteries. I have been talking a lot about me time and relaxation lately, both here on the blog, and with my friends. I could really do with a break!
Here are some Winter Break Ideas that I have thought of:
I quite fancy taking a few days away in a luxurious countryside hotel to relax. This would be lovely for me and my husband to have a break and switch off from the pressures of life.
There are loads of countryside hotel options but I have heard about ‘Wentbridge House Hotel in West Yorkshire’ as I know some fellow bloggers who have been there for luxurious lunches (Pippa posted about it on Red Rose Mummy if you want a look!). It would be great to escape to the country, enjoy some good food and snuggle up in the luxurious bed, away from the cold outside!
That’s the Wentbridge ground in Winter – It looks like a Winter wonderland!
Christmas Shopping & West End Break
For a slightly busier break, I would consider a shopping and West End theatre break. Although it’s not far from home, staying in a hotel would add to the experience and give more of a proper break – compared to coming home from shopping and having to get the dinner ready and tend to the kids. I would definitely feel more recharged if I could just relax and order room service for once!
‘St Georges Hotel on Regent Street’ would be a good option. I love Oxford Street and Regent Street at Christmas because of the lights. It’s a magical atmosphere! It would also be ideally located for the West End. Me and my sister did go for some child free relaxation to see the Lion King in the West End not too long ago (see here for my review) and I have plans to go and see The Bodyguard later this month with my husband. You can’t beat a West End show, it’s great entertainment!
Another beautiful location to take a break would be somewhere on the Coast. I always find it’s so relaxing and calming to be near the sea, to see out into the distance and to feel the sea breeze! I grew up near the sea, so I always love it. A coastal break in Winter has a totally different feel than in the summer, without all the hustle and bustle, you can just take the chance to walk and talk in the peaceful surroundings. It would be a romantic choice for me and my husband. There are lots of places to stay on the coast but ‘Ox Pasture Hall in Scarborough’ looks like a great option, with some amazing countryside as well as the coastal views. I would want to stay in a luxury place like this to make the break more enjoyable!
I really want to get away on a couple of girlie breaks too. I went last year to Switzerland with one of my best friends, and since then I have promised my sister and my other best friend that we will go somewhere else, but we always find it so hard to get the free time to actually go for it. That should change! I really must make an effort to take the time so that we can go and spend some quality time, have some fun and relax! I do think it’s important for mums to get the chance to do this, as its almost a 24 job looking after young children. Whether babies who won’t sleep, toddler’s who won’t settle, or children with special needs who are up a lot at night – all of which my friends and I have between us. Having a laugh with friends re-energises you like nothing else! I would love to go somewhere nice and warm – shame I still need to renew my passport which all adds to the cost! But if I can get a good deal I would love to go to Dubai for lots of shopping, or to Spain, Portugal, Morocco or Turkey for some sunshine and not too long a flight.
I do actually have a short break planned for next weekend. Me and 10 of my blogging friends are having a Bloggers Night in Up North so that will be a little break and a chance to catch up with everyone.
Have you got any breaks planned? What would be your favourite from the ideas I have suggested? Let me know in the comments!
We all need some me time….
Family life can sometimes feel like a performance in a circus. You juggle your responsibilities to your partner, your children, your family, your friends, your career, and your community involvement all the while trying to appear as an entirely sane and calm individual, yearning for that extra hour in the day to fit everything in! Women are left constantly scrutinizing their choices…. should I return to work or not? How is best to facilitate a resolve to a disagreement? Do I follow my gut instinct or the advise of others? A lingering sense of uncertainty surrounds every choice made. Commonly working mothers feel on the rare occasion that you have some extra minutes in the day this time should be utilised with catching up on household chores or spending those precious extra minutes with your children. However the English idiom of “burning the candle at both ends” springs to mind. To deal with the stresses of everyday life it is important to steal away some “me time” to recharge your batteries for next onslaught. The Oxford dictionary defines “me time” as: “Time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy”. …Sounds essential doesn’t it? Luxury-spa-breaks.com has an array of relaxing and revitalizing short spa breaks and/or spa days that just may be what the doctor ordered! Just imagine how sane and calm you would return to your family and responsibilities after a nice relaxing message and a revitalising break at a wonderful spa – discover more about the range available here.
Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear by Tracey Corderoy is an ideal book for little ones in Autumn. The story is all about a Big Brown Bear who, like all brown bears, must hibernate at the start of Autumn and not wake up until Spring. This brown bear is a little bit worried that he might miss out on all the fun that the Autumn and Winter seasons have to offer, so he is not so keen to go off and hibernate. To cheer him up all his friends promise to wake him up when anything exciting happens so he won’t miss out!
I found Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear a really sweet book and the boys and I enjoyed reading it together, especially as they could relate many the things that the animals mentioned back to what they have been doing recently in Autumn too – like crunching leaves and splashing in puddles.
The language used in this book is really descriptive and lovely. That struck me straight away when reading it to the children. It starts:
Autumn was coming. Bright berries shone like jewels, leaves danced to the ground, and it was time for Big Brown Bear’s long sleep.
The moral and sentiment of the book is great too, all about going the extra distance for your friends. The animals weren’t able to wake up Big Brown Bear, so rather than shrug to themselves and say “oh well” they decided to save all the best bits of Autumn and winter for him to enjoy when he finally woke up in the Spring!
It’s a tale of friendship, and of appreciating and enjoying nature and the world around you – both things I would like my children to learn as they grow up!
The illustrations by Rachel Swirles are also very appealing, with all the gorgeous Autumn colours.
I have to say, as soon as I saw this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert it reminded me of Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear – so anyone who has enjoyed that advert, should give this book a try with their children!
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