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Friday, 30 August 2013

Free Soft Play with Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins

Although I try to give my kids a good balanced diet, I still like giving them vitamins to support their health and give their diets a nutritional boost.  Bassetts Soft and Chewy Vitamins are great for little ones because even the most reluctant eater will be happy to eat the child friendly pastille. They come in fruity flavours and have a chewy texture that children will enjoy.  Freddy has tried both the Strawberry and Orange flavours and loves taking his vitamin supplement after breakfast.

Children will be even happier to take their vitamins at the moment, because of an on-pack promotion that gives free entry to one of 200 soft play centres, worth up to £6, with every packet.  Soft play is guaranteed high-energy entertainment, whatever the weather which allows kids to burn off excess energy and have fun and get exercise, while mums can keep an eye on them with a cup of coffee.  As a recent survey found that three quarters of British mums enjoy treating their children to a soft play day, this promotion is a win-win for everyone!

soft play

All you need to do is visit the website and enter the unique code and a few details, and they will email you a voucher.  Take the voucher and the original label into your chosen venue and the kids can enjoy a fun soft play session for free.  You can redeem two vouchers per seven days and they are valid until 31/05/14.  It's a great promotion and I will be taking Freddy along to our local Wacky Warehouse using the voucher codes on the packs that we were sent to try.  A perfect end to the summer holidays!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Diet Chef Diary - Week 3

Today something really nice happened-someone noticed that I had lost weight!  It is such a boost to your self esteem when you know someone has noticed the results of all the hard work you have put into dieting.  I was so pleased.

I have lost another 3 lbs, bringing the total to 10lbs lost in three weeks on the Diet Chef plan.  I feel better and more confident and I feel like I am back on track with healthy eating.

Ian has noticed a difference in my attitude to food.  We have been away for a weekend and had a meal out in a restaurant since starting my Diet Chef plan.  Usually, these are the sort of events that would see me either getting upset because I would be worried about what I could eat, or I would simply go off the rails and stuff my face with whatever I could eat and then feel guilty about it afterwards.  This time was different.  I chose healthy options from the menus, drank water and actually left food on my plate when I was full. I didn't feel the need to eat between meals and had no desire for junk food or anything sweet. I feel that the diet plan has re-educated my system and seeing results has strengthened my resolve.  It was really easy to pick up on the Diet Chef meals on my return home.

There is no magic formula to the Diet Chef meals.  They are simply, good, well prepared ready meals that are calorie counted and portion controlled.  They are quick and easy to prepare and take away all the stress and anxiety that can accompany a diet.  It is a great way to kickstart a diet, providing structure with varied and enjoyable meals.

I have really enjoyed having my meals for the week all pre-planned and ready to eat.  The rest of the family still need feeding which means I am still cooking for them.  But as my meals are already prepared, I don't need to then cook something separately for myself too.  It makes juggling being a mum and a dieter much easier.

I haven't eaten the snacks as I just don't want to eat anything sweet like a cereal bar or biscuits.  I find that stopping the sugary foods takes away the cravings I used to have.  Going cold turkey on the sweet treats works for me and I don't see any benefit from eating between meals if I'm not hungry.  This has meant that on some days my calorie count may have been a little low but I've added vegetables or rice to my main meals to make sure I stay within the realms of healthy dieting.

Overall, I still really like the Diet Chef concept and the food is good and doesn't contain any nasty additives. Once the plan is over, I will continue to eat meals taking the portion size and calorie content of the Diet Chef meals as a basis for what I prepare. With my hunger and cravings under control, I think I will be able to continue on a 1200-1500 calorie a day eating plan for another few weeks.  This opportunity came at a perfect time for me, when I was feeling a bit low, fat and frumpy.  Now I'm well on the way to feeling fabulous!

I definitely feel more confident and am excited at the prospect of slimming down, looking better and feeling healthier.

At the moment you can sign up to a month's plan for just £4.64 a day, which provides all meals and a snack for each day of the week, delivered free to your door. Find out more at dietchef.co.uk.

Diet Chef



Wednesday, 28 August 2013

#Win Some Back to School Goodies from Wilko

With the kids staring school next week, we've been buying spanking new, shiny stationery for them.  Nothing beats starting the new term with a cool pencil case filled with fabulous stationery!

Wilko's have sent us some of their new range of stationery, from their Friendly Fairy and Galaxy Gang collections, so Kizzy and Freddy can start September in style.

Wilkos

The Galaxy Gang will appeal to space mad kids with the fun rocket, space and robot design.  I adore the rocket pencil case which is fabulous and it is well made and good quality.  The chunky felt tips are great for little hands and the mini art pack is packed with paints and other arty bits and bobs for creative kids. the stationery set is great value and includes a pen, pencil, ruler, rubber and sharpener.

The price of the Galaxy Gang stationery is really affordable.

Rocket Pencil Case £2.50
Mini Art Pack £1.75
Chunky Felts £1.00
Stationery Set £1.00

Wilkos

The Friendly Fairy range features a cute fairy, love hearts, flowers and stars in pretty pastels and pinks. The A5 notebook will be great for taking notes.  The pencil case is a barrel design with a shiny, satin finish. 

Barrel pencil case £2.00
A5 Notebook £1.50
Chunky Pencils £0.90
Stationery Set £1.00

Wilko's have also sent me a selection of their fantastic stationery to give away to one lucky winner.  To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry form and let me know in a comment what is your favourite of the two designs.  Do you like the Friendly Fairy or the Galaxy Gang?  And also follow @LoveWilko on Twitter and keep up with all the latest Wilko's chat!  Giveaway closes at midnight on September 5th 2013.  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Belvita for Busy Mornings

The last week of the summer holidays is here. Every minute of everyday is made up of precious moments, before my little Freddy starts school, and I do not want to miss out on them.  This time is so special to me. On September 4th my baby boy begins his school career and my life will no longer revolve around being a stay at home mum to my pre-schooler.  It's a time for big changes, both exciting and scary in equal measure.

We've had a really busy and enjoyable summer holiday so far, doing lots of fun stuff which has involved some early starts. When the routine goes out of the window, getting the kids up in the morning isn't always easy.  We simply don't get the luxury of a leisurely breakfast when pushed for time and skipping breakfast is never a good idea.  It's during days like this when I swear by breakfast on the go in the car.  It saves time and avoids the stress of rushing around or running late.  With my grown-up girls as well as Freddy to get ready, mornings can be pretty hectic!

I received a fantastic Summer Holidays On The Go Kit from Belvita to help me cope with the remaining days of the holidays, so not a moment is wasted on those early morning starts.  With a diary to keep me organised, a book of ideas for days out, a picnic rug and a cute Cath Kidston bag to carry everything I need, days out will be much easier to contend with.

Cath Kidston

My On The Go Kit also included some new Belvita Breakfast Duo Crunch with Apricot and Live Yogurt.  The tasty wholemeal biscuit sandwiches are generously filled with a creamy yogurt and fruity jam filling.  They contain added vitamins and minerals and are a source of slow release carbohydrates, releasing energy continuously over 4 hours.

Belvita

Grabbing the individual foil portion packs of Belvita biscuits and throwing them into my bag  provides a good start to the mornings along with a piece of fruit and a drink, and can easily be enjoyed on the go. With grown-up kids, this is an ideal solution to the rush of mornings.

The biscuits are tasty and the moist filling makes them really palatable and easy to eat.  My girls happily munched on them and I was happy to know they were getting nutrients and energy for the whole morning. This keeps them going until lunchtime so we can enjoy thrilling days out together, and get out of the house quickly and effortlessly.  Our latest day out to the Chill Factore in Manchester was fuelled by a Belvita breakfast!

Manchester


The Belvita Breakfast Apricot and Live Yogurt Duo Crunch Biscuits are available in major supermarkets with an RRP of £2.79 for a 5 portion pack.  

Saturday, 24 August 2013

What Fred Said! #SaidItSaturday

This bloghop from New Mum Online celebrates the wonderful things that our little ones say, so we never forget them!  Freddy is now 4 and says so many wonderful and funny things that I just had to link up.


My favourite thing this week was actually something that I thought was really clever.  My spatial awareness is utterly useless and so I was very impressed when Fred asked me:

"When we are upstairs do we walk on the downstairs ceiling?"

I thought that was pretty smart of my boy!

Other than that, He has decided to use the word 'accidentally' instead of 'actually' in his sentences.  Even when you correct him, he tells us that he thinks it sounds better that way!

He is a big fan of Austin and Ally on the Disney Channel and keeps telling us that he sounds like Austin before breaking into his rendition of Oxygen from Teen Beach Movie with lyrics that go:
"I wanna to be the ocean to your shore, I wanna be the moo noo a na naw." (Who needs real words when you are 4!!)  He actually loves music and growing up in a house where his older siblings play their tunes has influenced his tastes.  He is, as I type this, singing "Nodiggity!"  Other favourites include Hoody Allen, The Killers, Walk the Moon and Passenger.  I love hearing him singing out loud with no inhibitions.

Some of Fred's language has verged on colourful.  For example Freddy shouted out something that sounded like "Penis Shitness!"  We're not entirely sure what he meant to say or if indeed 'penis shitness' was his intended comment, but needless to say we all struggled to keep a straight face!

But my favourite Freddy-ism of all time has to be when he was telling me how he thought his sisters looked:

"Ella is beautiful, Megan is gorgeous and Kizzy is fabulous" he said.
So I asked, "What's Mummy then?"
"Mummy is fattiness!" he replied.
I really shouldn't have asked!




Disney's Planes Remote Controlled Driving Dusty

Freddy was sent a Disney's Planes 1:24 Remote Controlled Driving Dusty toy from Character Online. For a boy who adores all things Disney this was a toy that brought a huge amount of excitement!

The 1:24 model of the big-hearted, fast-flying crop duster Dusty from the new Disney film Planes, looks absolutely brilliant.  The animation lends itself perfectly to the creation of quality merchandise that looks totally like the film counterparts.  Dusty is full of character and the design of the model is very detailed.

First and foremost for anyone considering buying one, the RC Dusty does NOT fly.  It drives around the floor controlled by the RC handset.  This did not worry Freddy at all and he loved being able to drive Dusty around.  In the film, Dusty is afraid of heights, so his lack of flying is not at all out of character!

The handset is very user friendly for small hands.  There are two levers, one for backwards and forwards and one for left and right. There is also an on/off switch.  The RC handset also makes engine and plane sounds as you play with Dusty.

Planes, Dusty

Freddy very quickly got to grips with the controls and had Dusty going back and forth and going around corners.  The propeller spins around as the plane whizzes along which is a nice touch and the wings dip as it takes corners.  The plane is robust and is surviving crashing into the sofa, door and wall under the control of my 4 year old. He has tested the durability of this toy quite extensively so far!

                         

I would have liked to have seen a speed limiter which would give little ones more control over the plane, because once it gets going, Dusty really does drive fast.  There would be fewer crashes if Freddy had more time to stop or turn Dusty.  But saying that Freddy thought it was hilarious to zoom Dusty around at high speed!

RC driving plane "Dusty" is equipped with a dual-channel wireless RC handset and full turbo function. He comes with sound and body drift. The plane is available in a 27 and 40 Mhz frequency. 1/24 scale model. Remote (3x 1.5V LR03 AAA) Plane (3x 1.5V LR6 AA). Not included. For ages 4 and over. RRP £49.99.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Join the Something Special Twitter Party!

Golden Bear will be launching the full new collection of Something Special toys this autumn. The exciting new Mr Tumble toys and accessories, inspired by the hit CBeebies show will be a hit with any little fans!

Something Special features the much loved presenter Justin Fletcher, together with his alter-ego Mr Tumble. The show encourages children to explore the world around them and incorporates the use of Makaton, a recognised form of communication using signs and symbols, as well as rhymes and songs, to encourage and develop language in a fun and exciting way.

In autumn 2013 the full new collection of toys will be available for all to enjoy and will include some wonderful new products. New additions to the range include the Something Special Mr Tumble Textured Spotty Bag and the Aunt Polly Tea Party Puzzle, which comes with eight brightly coloured chunky pieces..

Also new for 2013 is the Mr Tumble Interactive Toy with special features including a light up nose, opening waistcoat and spotty bag. Children can also press Mr Tumble’s hand to hear fun phrases and sounds. The Mr Tumble Soft Toy interacts by responding to the child with a series of Mr Tumble noises and recognisable phrases. The Mr Tumble Pick ‘N’ Match pairs game and Mr Tumble Stick-on Felts will also be available.

Each toy in Golden Bear’s Something Special range comes in packaging with Makaton signs that relate to the product. If they wish to, parents can also use these signs with their children to further enhance the toy and the Something Special experience.

Stockists of Something Special toys includes Tesco.com.


On Thursday 12th September,  UKMums.tv will be hosting a Something Special Twitter Party and everyone is invited to join in the fun!  We are very excited to be taking part! 

The Twitter Party will begin at 4pm with myself and other bloggers hosting and live tweeting our very own Something Special parties, and there will be lots of freebies up for grabs on Twitter until 6pm.

Simply follow @ukmumstv and join in using the hashtag #somethingspecialparty. 

You can find out more by visiting www.evolutioncomps.co.uk/somethingspecial



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Why We Love Paultons Park

We visited Paultons Park when Freddy was a toddler and he had a lovely time exploring Peppa Pig World.  Now he is a big boy (a whole four years old), I was keen to let him experience everything that Paultons Park had to offer.  I was very pleased to receive some complimentary tickets to visit again.

The traffic getting into the park was quite horrific and I was concerned that the park would be absolutely heaving.  However, once we made it through the gates the crowds quickly dispersed as the park is spacious with lots of open areas.  We made the decision to leave Peppa Pig World until later in the day as we know that 75 minute queues for the seven themed rides are commonplace at peak times.  It is a very popular attraction!  Instead we explored the other areas of the park to see what was on offer.  Within minutes Freddy was riding on the mini rollercoaster 'The Stinger' which had a 0.9m height restriction.  This ride was quickly followed by Kontiki, Jumping Bean, Pirate Ship, Viking Boats and Teacups, each with no more than a 10-15 minute wait.  Then came the thrilling Wave Runner and River Ride which appealed to both the little ones and the older kids.  So many rides were open to Freddy, I was very impressed that he got to do so much.  With a child over 0.9m, it really does make sense to enjoy the other rides on offer and leave Peppa Pig World until it quietens down.

theme park

Walking around the park allowed us to look at the themed gardens, the Wind in the Willows display, the aviaries and animal enclosures and the Land of Dinosaurs which were all very enjoyable to an inquisitive 4 year old.  Freddy's  favourite part of the park was  the Water Kingdom.  We had packed his swimsuit, suncream and a towel so he could enjoy the water play park with its jets, fountains and tipping buckets.  We were able to watch him as he safely played in the fully enclosed area.  It was a perfect way to cool off and let off steam.  There is also a Muddy Puddles area in Peppa Pig World for the younger children to enjoy the water.  I think these wet play zones are absolutely brilliant for the kids.


Once he was dried off, we headed to Peppa Pig World.  The queues had gone down to 30 minutes so Freddy chose his two favourite rides to go on.  He picked Peppa's Big Balloon Ride and George's Dinosaur Adventure.  While he was queuing he missed meeting Peppa, George, Suzy Sheep and Zoe Zebra, which was a shame.  However he loved his rides and enjoyed being in the beautifully themed land.  Afterwards he had a quick play in George's Spaceship Playzone, a big soft play area with a huge slide to whizz down.  The whole area is a delightful place filled with colour and music and is magical to any little Peppa fans.

Paultons Park

The new 4D cinema is a nice addition to the attractions. We liked the 20's styling of the waiting area.  The film playing is The Curse of Skull Rock, an Aardmann-esque style animation featuring pirates, skeletons and treasure.  With water jets, moving chairs, blasts of air and bubbles, you are fully immersed in the story.  Some little ones were not too impressed and were crying, so maybe it's not suitable for the faint hearted little ones.

What I really like about Paultons Park is the fact that there are so many little play areas and activities for younger children dotted around the park, so even when the older kids are on a big ride, it is easy to entertain younger kids in the same vicinity. These are in addition to the dedicated Peppa Pig World.  The restaurants and kiosks were good.  The prices were OK and there were vegetarian options for both adults and kids.  That always pleases me!  There are plenty of benches to relax on, and lots of undercover seating.  It's really well thought out and caters to the needs of families really well.  Everything was looking clean, neat, tidy and well kept and there are a lot of improvements planned for the future.  

Paultons Park

We were there all day and didn't get to do everything. The park closed at 5.30pm, it would have been nice to see the opening times extended a bit more in the summer holidays.  We would have loved another couple of hours to do the rest of the rides.

We were definitely and genuinely impressed.  Paultons Park is without a doubt our favourite theme park in the south for families.  It beats Thorpe Park and Chessington hands down . We visited both this summer and apart from the Sealife Centre at Chessington, we were very underwhelmed and disappointed. Thorpe Park may have some extreme rides for teens, but it is really lacking in activities for little ones, and Chessington was looking old and tired and felt overcrowded.  Its height restrictions were also much higher meaning that Freddy couldn't even go on the new Zufari ride.  I'm all for safety but I found them excessive in comparison to other theme parks.

I would recommend Paultons Park to families with children that are very young as they will love the Peppa Pig World, and also for families like ours with a mixed age range, as there is something for everyone to enjoy.  Freddy had an awesome day and his big sisters loved it too!


If you want to visit, why not make a short break of it and take advantage of the offer to get a 2nd day in the park for free!  Breaks start at £42 pppn and include breakfast and 2 days for the price of 1!  You can find out more here: Official Peppa Pig World Short Breaks.

Fun Sorting with Plan Toys

Plan Toys Fun Sorting is a beautifully made wooden toy that challenges children aged 3 and up to sort and turn coloured rings to get them down a centre rod.  The rod has bumps on that  correspond with cut out sections on the rings, so children have to twist them to match the shapes.  It helps develop dexterity, co-ordination, colour and shape recognition.  The centre rod is adjustable and can be turned to angle it,  making it more challenging for older kids.

Freddy was sent one to try.  The toy is very tactile and invites exploration.  Freddy recognised the aim of the game and enjoyed matching up the correct rings and aligning them to go past the bumps, twisting them where necessary.  He spotted that each of the rings had a different shaped hole with a different number of cut out sections and was able to find various ways of putting the rings onto the rod.  He had fun experimenting with shape and space.




This toy is one of those things that you just have to pick up and have a go with.  It looks good sat on the shelf in his room and is something he will pick up and have a play with when he spots it.  It's a bit like one of those fancy executive toys which while away the time and occupy your hands and mind in a quiet moment.  It is simple, but absorbing.

You can buy the Fun Sorting toy from Amazon for £13.99.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Grow Your Own - Eat Your Own!

I've been attempting to Grow My Own fresh garden produce this year after being challenged by Ice and The Organic Gardening Catalogue who kindly supplied some seeds to help get my project going.  I have got to the point where I have been able to reap what I sow and this week I was ready to see some of my produce go from pot to plate!

I was ridiculously excited when I dug down into the soil surrounding my potato plants.  As my hand plunged into the warm soil my fingers touched the first potato I have ever grown.  I actually squealed!  I pulled out potato after wonderful potato.  Their pale skin was flawless.  They were perfect little potatoes.  Grown by me in my own little garden.


It was lovely seeing an end result and we had a really good crop.  I couldn't think of anything to do with them that would be better than simply boiling them in their skins.  They were lovely and the children were happy to eat our home grown produce with their dinner.



My salad continues to grow.  Picking the leaves when they are young makes for tender, fresh and tasty accompaniments to my meals.  The assorted lettuces and the rocket add colour, texture and flavour to meals and sandwiches.  The variety of colours and shapes adds interest.  I even found a couple of radishes that had survived the caterpillars!




I never anticipated how good it would feel to grow my own produce.  To pick it and eat it!  I am definitely converted to growing my own!  Although we didn't get huge amounts of produce, we all enjoyed eating what we grew.  It added variety to our diet and the kids got to try some new things.


I have proved that you can do it even though you don't have a big garden.  You can use pots and troughs and grow bags effectively in a small space.  Recruiting the kids to help sow the seeds and pick the crops really helps them to learn about gardening, nature, where their food comes from and gives them an appreciation of the environment.  It has been a really enjoyable challenge and I will definitely be giving it a go again next year!

My Diet Chef Update

It's been a couple of weeks since I started my Diet Chef plan.  28 days worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks were delivered to my door ready to eat over 4 weeks.  The plan is so simple.  It is totally fuss free.  You simply enjoy the portion controlled, calorie counted meals, adding some vegetables or salad to bulk them out. I have not felt hungry and I haven't got bored as the range is quite extensive, even for a vegetarian like myself.

I really like not having to think about what I eat.  It takes away the situation where I get frustrated with diet food and decide to go without or just eat something inappropriate instead.  I do understand about healthy eating and the calorie content of food, but when I'm on a diet all my knowledge goes out of the window as I feel deprived and resentful.  With Diet Chef I feel like someone else is doing the thinking and the counting for me, and all I have to do is eat it.  That really works for me.

By doing this plan, I have reminded myself what it feels like to feel both hungry and full.  I am getting back in touch with my body and recognising its needs rather than blindly over-indulging myself.  So even after the plan is over, I will be in a better place to continue eating healthily and not to excess.

I am finding the portions of the veggie options plenty enough once veggies have been added to the plate. The Spelt Risotto is an interesting dish made with spelt grains which has a creamy sauce and contains whole button mushrooms.  The spelt retains its bite giving a better texture. It is only 280 calories and is so filling and tastes indulgent.

Diet Chef

The granola is great with a little low fat yogurt and a handful of fresh berries.  The granola is 196 calories for 40g and contains linseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. It makes a nice start to the day.

Diet Chef

The soups are lovely and the portion size is ample.  The Minestrone is packed with vegetables and contains pasta and is still just 123 calories.  It makes a hearty and filling lunch.

The cost of £6.43 a day for all the supplied meals and a snacks delivered in a hamper to your door, is more or less the same price as eating out at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant for lunch. And it's better for you.  There is nothing further that you need to buy and there are no meetings or membership fees to pay for.


The best thing about the Diet Chef plan is that after 2 weeks I have lost 7 lbs with minimum effort!!

Find out more at www.dietchef.co.uk

Fit for a Royal Baby!

Asda have some new babywear fit for the little prince in your life.  The 'Born In 2013' short sleeved bodysuit is just £4. The 'King in Training' 4 piece outfit with a babygrow, bodysuit, gloves and a crown design hat is just £7.  Great value babywear that you don't need to be royalty to afford!

asdaasda

You can keep your little ones clothing clean, safe and soft with Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure which are available in limited edition royal baby packs to celebrate the arrival of Prince George.


They have also released a guide on how to raise your baby like a Royal, because all babies should feel like a prince or princess.  It is written by royal etiquette expert Jean Broke Smith.

Here are a couple of excerpts that I particularly liked.

First Portraits

"As we all know, once your little one arrives into the world people will be snapping away with their cameras and iPhones. So now is the time to decide whether you want your baby to be public-facing or not. Should you choose to, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all provide valuable outlets to share your baby’s photos with close family and relatives, particularly those you see less often if they live far away. If you’d rather shy away from the public, set some rules with friends and family from the get go and ensure photography is strictly limited to the confines of a private photo album."

Hand Me Downs

"Babies usually grow very rapidly during the first year so hand-me-downs can prove rather fruitful, especially if they have a momentous story or historic moment attached to them. Take a photo of your baby and frame it next to the original clothing owner. Family history is of huge importance to royalty."


With all the celebrations surrounding the birth of the royal baby, you may want to enjoy the occasion with a nice cup of tea sipped from a commemorative porcelain mug from Asda!

George






Friday, 16 August 2013

LEGO Friends Dolphin Cruiser Review

We have been fans of LEGO forever!  Ever since my first son was born in 1988, we have loved the brand.  I love how LEGO allows children to be creative but also how the sets can build into a specific toy which increases the play value.  I am so pleased that the range has grown and developed over the years, appealing to a wider audience of children and catering to different ages and all their differing tastes.

LEGO Friends is a range of LEGO designed to appeal to young girls who love things that are feminine, who enjoy hanging out with their friends and having fun.  I think the 'girly' LEGO Friends range is a welcome addition to the brand as it can be enjoyed by children who may not like the traditional and often quite masculine image of LEGO.  The creativity and skills used are the same, but the theme has appeal to those who might prefer their toys that bit girlier.  I love the little characters who are more doll-like than the traditional LEGO men.  They suit the theme very well.

We were sent a LEGO Friends Dolphin Cruiser to try out, which is aimed at ages 7 - 12 years.  Kizzy, being a 10 year old girl, is in the target market for this toy and was very interested in building the cruiser, helped by big sister Ella who is 17 and has never grown out of her love of LEGO and 4 year old Freddy. The last LEGO they built together was the Spongebob Squarepants Krusty Krab set so this was very different!

lego

This is quite a big set but I was very impressed to see that the parts were bagged up into five individual packs which each corresponded to a section of the full colour instruction booklets.  This made it much easier to tackle the building project, one step at a time.  The booklets were very easy to follow, showing you what bricks were needed and where they needed to be put.  There were 104 separate stages in constructing the model, each one being simple to follow, so it was never a daunting task.  The job was made easier by the inclusion of the LEGO tool which makes taking bits off less fiddly, so if you make a mistake you can quickly rectify it.

LEGO


The model took about two hours to build in total.  I was impressed with how sturdy and solid the finished boat was.  The attention to detail is brilliant.  The boat features a captain's deck, a waterslide, kitchen, living room, bedroom with two beds, bathroom and sun deck.  Accessories include a jet-ski with water-skis, two dolphins and a bucket of fish to feed them, sonar, furniture including a corner sofa and sun loungers, various items of food and glasses, plus some hair styling items for the bathroom.  The roof of the boat lifts off so you can play with the rooms below deck, and it fits back on easily.  It's a very clever design.

The people can be mixed and matched, swapping the interchangeable hair and body parts.  The Dolphin Cruiser came with Mia, Maya and Andrew.

Lego


The LEGO Friends sets are all compatible so you can make a whole interconnected world and collect all the characters. The Dolphin Cruiser makes a great stand alone toy with lots of play value.  Although it is a girl-orientated design, the construction was no different to building any other LEGO toy and it did not patronise girls with the instructions.  It was a proper hardcore LEGO building experience!

lego

Kizzy thinks the finished LEGO Friends Dolphin Cruiser will look good on a shelf in her bedroom (next to the Krusty Krab!)  However Freddy is intent on playing with all the little people, putting them to bed and making them use the toilet! She may have a fight on her hands.  Suffice it to say, the LEGO Friends Dolphin Cruiser did not disappoint.  It is a lovely addition to our LEGO collection.

This would make a perfect present for creative kids - and for those who like to plan ahead, there are only 130 days until Christmas!

It is available to purchase for £59.99.  You can find it along with the other sets in the range at the LEGO Friends website where you can buy them direct from their online LEGO shop.


Win Tickets to See Tom Daley, The Luminites and Union J at the Nickleodeon Fruit Shoot Skills Awards

The Nickelodeon Fruit Shoot Skills Awards are back! And this year they'll be hosted by Olympian Tom Daley who'll be joined on stage by some of the UK's biggest stars including headliners and X Factor finalists Union J, Brad Kavanagh from 'House of Anubis' and BGT's singing group The Luminites live from London's IndigO2 at the 02 in Greenwich, London on Saturday 7th September.

The show is already SOLD OUT but I have four tickets to the Nickolodeon Fruit Shoot Skills Awards to giveaway to one very lucky reader!



The awards honour kids from across the UK who demonstrate seriously impressive skills in fields such as street dancing, skateboarding, BMXing, ball skills and scootering. Nickelodeon's Fruit Shoot Skills Awards 2013 will be even bigger and better with kids being honoured in seven categories. Nominees for the awards were selected by a panel of top experts who travelled across the country to find the UK’s most skilled kids. The individual awards will be presented by some of the biggest names in sport, film and television, alongside live music performances.  It promises to be an exciting event showcasing some fresh new talented youngsters alongside some amazing live performances from established acts.

You will be very popular if you win the tickets and your family gets to be there in person to see the Skills, the Stars and of course the Slime! 

The show is being televised on Sunday 8th September at 5pm so even if you're not lucky enough to win you can enjoy the show.


Nominees for all of the awards can be seen and voted for online at nick.co.uk/fruitshootskills until 31st August.  So don't forget to vote for your favourites!

Last Admission: 1:30pm, Show Starts: 2:00pm
Age Recommendation 6 -15 years
All children must be accompanied by at least one adult.

To win the tickets to this amazing event simply fill out the Rafflecopter Entry Form below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Due to the time constraints, the winner will have 3 days to respond their email.  Every effort will be made to make contact with the winner during this time.  If contact is not made I reserve the right to redraw a winner.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Thursday, 15 August 2013

BBC launches CBeebies Playtime app

The BBC today launched CBeebies Playtime, a mobile app for the BBC’s youngest audience and their parents, available for free on Android, iOS and Kindle Fire devices in the UK. The app features four fun games based on some of the most-loved CBeebies shows, all designed to aid child development in a safe and secure offline environment.

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to visit the CBeebies HQ at Media City in Salford, to be among the first people to have a go at using the new app!   CBeebies presenter Cat joined the kids as they played with the app on various devices.  My Tiny Tester Freddy loved the new app instantly and was able to play straight away, setting up his profile and playing on all the games.  The app is very user friendly for little people and bags of fun!

CBeebies app


CBeebies Playtime is the perfect companion for young children, allowing them to play along with favourite characters whenever and wherever they want, including the Alphablocks, Octonauts, Tree Fu Tom and Something Special’s Mr Tumble. Parents can also join in the fun through the dedicated ‘Grown-ups’ area. Here they can record special messages for their little ones, find out about each game’s learning benefits, and access useful tips to help their children get the most from the app.

BBC

Profiles can be created for up to four children, allowing them to collect CBeebies bugs as rewards for their progress, and listen to messages left by their parents. Each profile features a hot air balloon that children can personalise, which transports them into the CBeebies Playtime world where they can choose to play one of four games.  The balloon can be made into a variety of shapes and decorated in a variety of patterns.  You can even take a 'selfie' and use the photograph to decorate the balloon!

cbeebies app

Alphablocks Word Magic

Alphablocks Word Magic helps young children develop confidence in reading and writing by learning how to spell a range of words. They simply tap on a picture of an everyday object and spell it out by choosing the right Alphablocks, in the correct order. The words get progressively more difficult as the game goes on.  It is a great game for early readers and writers and will be perfect to help Freddy as he starts school in September.
  
Octonauts Cadet Training

Little ones get to help the Octonauts in a variety of missions to rescue sea creatures who have gotten themselves into trouble. Shaking the device to remove rubble and calling out to lost Orcas are just some of the ways children can help them out. It develops listening skills and teamwork, as the Octonauts guide players through a series of underwater adventures, as well as finding out more about the world around them. It also gives kids a host of fun facts about the underwater animals they help which is a nice feature.

Something Special Paint Pop

Play along with Mr Tumble and his friends, who need some help decorating their clothes and accessories. Children can colour them in by tapping the screen to pop paint bubbles as they pass over the items. This game is suitable for all children, including those with special needs, allowing them to have fun and develop confidence.  Freddy had some fun with this game and enjoyed decorating bow ties and welly boots with the paint bubbles!

Tree Fu Tom Chuckleberry Chase

It's harvest festival day after the Mushas have stolen all of the chuckleberries. Children can cast the super speed spell with Tree Fu Tom and help him race through Treetopolis to catch the Mushas and save the day. The game allows children to practice fine motor skills as they tilt the device to catch the berries and avoid obstacles in their path.  It is a quick paced, action packed game for little Tree Fu Tom fans.


Freddy loved the app.  It had the right balance of educational content and fun gaming action to keep him enthralled and entertained.  The app has the same quality and visual appeal of the TV shows that little ones love and even the youngest CBeebies fan will recognise the characters.

CBeebies app

I love that the app doesn't need the internet to play it, which means it will be brilliant on car journeys or when out shopping.  I know it is completely safe and as it is absolutely free we can put it onto all our devices without the fear of running up any unexpected bills.

I think this app is a brilliant new addition to the CBeebies brand joining the TV shows, the radio station and the website to entertain our little ones!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

How Would You Spend £20K?

We all dream of a financial windfall finding its way into our lives.  Who hasn't fantasised about matching six balls on the lottery?  I know I have!  Everytime I've bought a ticket for the Euromillions rollover I've thought long and hard about who I'd help out and how I'd treat my family.  The £2 stake buys me a few days of wishful thinking until the draw dashes my hopes again until next time.  But the dreaming is still fun!

Britmums have teamed up with the National Lottery and are asking bloggers what they would do if they had £20,000 to spend in the #Spend20K challenge, which is the same amount as the new guaranteed prize in the National Lottery raffle draw.  That's some raffle prize...the most I've ever won in a raffle before was a bottle of wine so £20K would be quite an improvement on that!

£20,000 would be a great lump sum to enjoy.  Forget doing sensible things like buying a new car or paying a lump sum off of my mortgage, this cash would be for something just for us.  Something fun.

Something I really want to do but could never justify doing financially, is to renew my vows with Ian. I want to celebrate our relationship, our love and our family. We are happier now than we have ever been and I'd simply adore standing up and declaring my love for the man I married 16 years ago.  At the time of my wedding I still suffered with my mental health issues and although it was a wonderful day, it wasn't everything it could have been.  I wasn't the best version of myself and I'd love to do it all again now with me being in such a better place.



Organising a second wedding without the pressure and expectations that came with the first, would be such fun.  We don't like anything too fancy or frivolous. The guest list would be small and intimate, made up of all my favourite people.  The venue would be somewhere beautiful, and definitely not the impersonal registrar's office where we first got wed. The menu would be a glorious vegetarian feast and my wedding cake would be something totally indulgent from Choccywoccydoodah or The English Cheesecake Company (or both...after all I have a 20K budget to play with)!  At my first wedding I wore Doc Martens and a black lace skirt.  This time I would go sophisticated and feminine in a proper, pretty dress and girl shoes!  I'd buy outfits for my nearest and dearest and they would all look gorgeous.  I'd hire a funky photographer to capture some quirky shots for the photo album.

I'd follow the wedding with a night or two at Alton Towers Hotel for all my family (which is where Ian and I had our actual honeymoon back in 1997) and we'd all ride The Smiler and go on Nemesis Sub Terra the next day.  How very perfect...how very us!!

I'd better keep playing the Lotto so I can turn this dream into a reality.


This post is an entry for BritMums #Spend20K Challenge sponsored by The National Lottery, with more ways to win more money on the new Lotto game. Find out more about new Lotto, which starts in October, here – www.national-lottery.co.uk


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Taste of the Tropics - Rachel's Low Fat Mango Yogurt

Rachel’s have introduced a vibrant new flavour, which brings a real taste of the exotic to their low fat range -Rachel’s new Low Fat Mango Yogurt - a blissful combination of succulent organic mangoes and Rachel's thick, creamy indulgent yogurt.

Known as “the king of fruits” mango is rich in nutrients, perfect for those seeking a healthy breakfast option or afternoon snack  without compromising on taste. Plus, as a certified Organic brand by the Soil Association, you can be sure that all Rachel’s yogurts contain no colourings, artificial flavourings, preservatives or sweeteners.

Enjoy Rachel’s latest flavour on its own or as an ingredient in recipes. For a quick and easy Mango Lassi, simply blend with milk and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Rachel’s low fat mango yogurt will be available from Waitrose and Ocado at £1.75 for a 450g pot.

Here is a great recipe using Rachel's low fat Mango Yogurt:

Mango & Raspberry Crumble Muffins

Rachels Yogurt


Ingredients:

For the crumble: 
75g plain flour
65g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar

For the muffins: 
360g plain flour
370g caster sugar
1tsp salt
1 ½tsp baking powder
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
380g Rachel’s low fat mango yogurt
2 eggs
Vanilla extract
70g unsalted butter, melted
250g raspberries

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 and line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.

2. Begin by making the crumble, add all ingredients to a bowl  and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, place to one side.

3. To make the muffins place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and  mix together.

4. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and beat until smooth

5. Add the melted butter and whisk well.

6. Fold in the raspberries.

7. Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them almost to the top before generously sprinkling the muffins with the crumble mixture

8. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and bounce back when pressed. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before removing onto a cooling rack.

I've been sent some vouchers so I can try Rachel's Mango Yogurt for myself!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Some Back To School Essentials

This year I have three children to get ready for going back to school.  So we have already been busy buying uniforms, school bags, lunch boxes and stationery.  We have also been sent some Back To School goodies to try out.


STABILO have a brilliant range of back to school stationery to get the kids excited about September.  We were sent some and my kids were genuinely delighted.  

STABILO's EASYoriginal pen is an ergonomically designed rollerball pen with a special grip meaning little hands can hold it correctly and comfortably.   It comes especially designed for either left or right handed children and comes in a variety of colours. RRP £6.99

The HB, triangular design, ergonomic pencil is perfect for Freddy.  The non-slip grip moulds make the pencil easy to grip, whilst keeping the hand relaxed. to prevent tiring. They come in left and right handed versions for an ergonomic writing experience. These pencils will be invaluable to Freddy who will be starting school in September and is learning to write.  He definitely held them better than he can a regular pencil and they are chunkier too.  The grip moulds are positioned perfectly for his little fingers. There is also a name tag on the pencil so they won't get lost.  I am very impressed by them and hope Freddy will soon using them to write his letters!  RRP £2.99 for two.


Ella was quick to lay claim to the STABILO point 88 fine liners which are available in 25 different colours.  They are perfect for jazzing up school work and have a long cap-off time to keep them from drying out. They have a hexagonal design and a metal enclosed tip. The Colour Parade set, that we were sent, comes in brilliant packaging which opens up to make a stand-up display for easy use.  They are great for school, college and beyond.  RRP £24.48



STABILO also have a great online resource for parents and teachers providing activity sheets for early writers featuring Dock the Mouse.  It is completey free to use and download. It includes an excellent Early Writers Activity Sheet Creator for creating your own worksheets. This is going to be extremely useful with Freddy staring school in September.  You can find this excellent free resource at http://www.stabilo.com/pages-uk/pages/teach.php.  

Asda has sent us some of their Back To School range.  They stock a huge range of top branded products such as these Crayola washable felt pens and coloured Pritt Sticks at great prices.

Asda

They also have lots of own brand products from pens, pencils, pencil cases, rulers, geometry sets, calculators, folders and note books.  There are loads of different designs available to suit children's tastes such as the very fashionable and cute owl design. Asda stocks everything your child needs for school in a one stop shop (including a huge range of school uniform items too!)


Asda

Back To School also unfortunately means the return of the dreaded headlice.  So I was pleased to receive a bottle of Hedrin Protect & Go to use.  It is a fuss free spray that can be applied twice a week to protect  your child from infestation or used at times when the risk is increased such as a sleepover.  Simply spray in the hair and it dries naturally leaving hair looking healthy and conditioned. The conditioning spray smells fruity with an orange and mango scent.  Prevention is definitely better than cure! It is recommended for children aged 4 - 11 due to them having greater levels of close physical contact with friends.  It's skin friendly and contains no known asthma triggers. At £4.29 for 120 ml, it is available from Boots, pharmacies and leading retailers nationwide.


headlice


While I'm preparing for the new school term September, I'm making sure that I enjoy every second of the summer holidays.  I hope you are enjoying having the kids home too!


The Mad House

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Clash of Knights! at Beeston Castle

Last month we discovered the wonderful English Heritage site, Beeston Castle.  It is a great place for a family day out and we enjoyed exploring the remains of the historical castle and walking through the beautiful wooded areas.  Today, Beeston Castle took on a completely different atmosphere as it played host to the adrenalin fuelled event Clash of Knights!


English heritage

Clash of Knights! allowed us to step into England's past and experience the excitement of Medieval combat up close, as four teams of knights battled it out to become the champions in the ultimate tournament of historical combat.  A recreated "Crest Melee" saw the knights meet head-on in a contest of skill and strength as they attempted to knock crests from the opposing captain's helmets, armed with shields and clubs.

Beeston Castle

Living history encampments, performances of period music and a class for little knights in training gave us plenty to do.  Freddy's favourite colour is blue, so we allied ourselves with the Blue Team of knights from the North.  We got to meet them, try out their weapons and armour and cheer them on in battle.  Freddy was kitted out in the team T-shirt and had a flag to wave to show his support for the Blues. He absolutely loved it! We all learned a lot about the Anglo Norman period of English history and discovered what life as a knight was really like.  All the knights were very knowledgeable and passionate about what they did.

As well as enjoying the event, we were able to climb up the hill to the ruins of Beeston Castle, which is a lovely walk with glorious views across the surrounding countryside.  Freddy was armed with his wooden replica of a Great Sword and looked like he was ready to lay siege to the castle as he charged up the hill. The history of the place really came to life for him today.  That is the real beauty of these English Heritage events.  They give children an insight into the rich history of our country, bringing it to life in a way that history books simply can't do.  The sights, sounds, energy and excitement of a Medieval tournament were perfectly delivered in a thoroughly entertaining way.

Beeston castle

Freddy's choice of team to support was spot on, because after some very thrilling, testosterone fuelled battles, the Blue Knights of the North emerged victorious!  We had another great day at Beeston Castle.

                           

Beeston Castle is one of over 400 historic sites run by English Heritage.  They put on hundreds of action packed events throughout the year including Nature Trails, Knight Schools and combat reconstructions. Members of English Heritage receive free entry to the sites for themselves and up to six accompanying children under 19, making it a great value way to keep the family entertained.  Annual single adult membership is £48.

Find out more at www.english-heritage.org.uk/


We received a Media Pass so we could attend a Clash of Knights event being held at Beeston Castle on August 10th and 11th.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I have been paid expenses and supplied with a product sample for this review but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post. 


                                               

Friday, 9 August 2013

Mobile by Sainsbury's for Affordable Bundles and Double Nectar Points

We received a lovely surprise through the post from Sainsbury's to celebrate the launch of Mobile by Sainsbury's, their new mobile network service in partnership with Vodafone.  A beautiful wicker basket packed with some lovely goodies and a PAYG Blackberry Curve mobile phone was delivered to our door.  


The PAYG 30 day bundles are designed for people who use their phone everyday and provide call time, texts and data usage. You just pick the package that best suits your needs. I think the £10 bundle would be a great introductory plan for Kizzy to have with her first mobile phone.

     £10 Bundle: 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 250MB of data
     £15 Bundle: 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data
£20 Bundle: 800 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data

Sainsbury's new competitive Pay-As-You-Go price plan has the bonus of offering double Nectar Points on groceries and fuel when purchasing one of their bundles.  This can add up to £180 worth of Nectar Points a year for a family of four!  (If they each switch to the £10 bundle, link their mobile numbers to the household Nectar card and spend the UK weekly average on food and fuel per week.)  £180 of Nectar Points can be exchanged for a spa day, a family day out or even for eighteen DVDs!

Sainsbury's

The bundles are affordable, very simple and designed for families to keep things easy with no nasty surprises at the end of the month.  You know exactly what you're paying for. If your bundle runs out, you pay 10p per text, 20p per min for UK calls and 50p a day for 25MB data.  

For customers that want a simple price plan to use infrequently there is also the option of the basic price plan with calls at 8p per minute, 4p per text and a data price of 50p per day (for up to 25MB). It also offers double Nectar points on the value of top-ups.

Whatever price plan is chosen, you will be able to top up your Mobile by Sainsbury’s balance for as little as £5.  You can conveniently top up at your local Sainsbury's store when doing your weekly shop.

Blackberry

Mobile by Sainsbury’s also provides a handy ‘Borrow a Pound’ service. This offers customers £1 worth of credit for those unforeseen situations where you need to make an urgent or emergency call. The credit used, and a 10p fee, will be deducted from the next top-up.  This is reassuring when you have young teenagers who go out on their own and could end up out of credit.

Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM cards will be available in all Sainsbury’s stores with over 250 of those stores stocking a range of handsets. Sainsbury’s is also trialling dedicated in-store phone shops in six stores. A range of handsets will be available in store, ranging from the affordable Nokia 100 at £12 to the Samsung Galaxy Fame Android smartphone at £115.

A combination of the simple price plans, double Nectar points, a reliable network, highly competitive rates and the convenience of topping up handsets on the weekly grocery shop will help make customers lives easier.

Find out more at www.mobilebysainsburys.co.uk

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