Saturday, 30 July 2011

Reptile Porn!

Silent Sunday

Friday, 29 July 2011

High Tea with John Crane

The must have toy of the moment has to be the exquisite High Tea Shape Matching set by John Crane.  The beautiful cake stand with 15 miniature wooden cakes looks good enough to eat!  Each hand crafted cake is shaped and numbered and corresponds with a matching space on the cake stand.

Encouraging hand eye co-ordination, spatial awareness and early number recognition, the High Tea set is educational as well as gorgeous!  The potential for role play is great with opportunities for some very posh teddy bear tea parties.

As we are Craniacs, John Crane sent one to us here Inside the Wendy House for us to test out.  The box itself looked tantalising with a photo of the contents on the front.  Freddy was instantly intrigued by the image of the elegant delicacies.

Inside the box, the contents were carefully packaged in individual cardboard sections keeping them safe.  The cake stand screwed together easily (instructions and Allen key were included).  Each cake fitted into its space making a beautiful display.

Once made up the cake stand doesn't fit back in its box, but it will look lovely on a shelf in a little girl's bedroom.  You won't want to hide it away, it's too gorgeous!

Freddy is 2 and enjoyed playing with the little cakes, lining them up and studying the detail on them.  He said "Yummy" so the cakes must be authentic looking, even to a toddler !  Boys can enjoy tea parties and shape sorting too, he loved playing with his sister.

Big sister Kizzy is 8 and really appreciated the workmanship and enjoyed showing Freddy how to put the cakes in the correct spaces on the stand.  It will definitely help Freddy to learn about shape and space and numbers. She also helped him host a pretend tea party with his Buzz Lightyear teddy.

High Tea for Buzz Lightyear.

The John Crane High Tea Shape Matching is recommended for ages 3 and up.  You can buy it from Dillons Toyshop priced at £23.95.  It's a lovely toy that will be loved for years to come!

Hallmark Cards for Every Ocassion

Leading greeting cards company Hallmark has just introduced more choice to their already extensive card range.

Bellissima is a beautiful collection of exquisitely handcrafted cards, perfect for those looking to express simple yet meaningful messages to loved ones.

Consisting of 39 sophisticated designs adorned with intricate, unique and delicately applied attachments, they are complemented by pearl envelopes for the perfect finishing touch.  They are perfect for when you want to send something extra special including designs for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, engagements and for messages of thanks.

The range is available from £2.99 RRP from selected Hallmark stores, card shops and supermarkets.

An exclusive Vintage range, inspired by Britain's rich design history, has been launched in conjunction with Wayne Hemingway founder of the Red and Dead brand.  The twelve designs pay homage to glamorous past eras from the 50's to the 70's, following the trend for all things vintage in fashion and design.  This range proves that the past is not passé and makes this part of Britain's cultural heritage accessible to a whole new generation who will love the Rock 'n' Roll Fifties and  the Swinging Sixties imagery, with the range's cool retro graphics.

The Vintage Range is available from Tesco stores nationwide priced from £1.69 RRP.

I was sent a selection of Hallmark's cards from the new ranges.  They are all of the highest quality and the designs are diverse making sure that there will be a choice to suit everyone.  The Bellissima cards are beautifully crafted and uniquely designed with added jewels and gems to make them look really special.  The Vintage designs are really cool and funky.  The retro images are brought perfectly up to date with quirky slogans, making them the perfect card for sending to fashion conscious friends.  My family will be spoilt with their Hallmark cards this year!

Check out to discover thousands of card designs covering all occasions, including a range of personalised cards.

Make Your Own Lip Gloss with Galt

As a Tiny Toyologist, Kizzy loves testing out toys...however her favourite sort of review is anything that involves make-up!  So she was delighted to receive Galt's Make Your Own Lip Gloss from Toys R Us.

The kit contains everything needed to make three lip glosses which come in cute bottles each with an applicator. The set included easy to follow instructions for making the lip gloss.

With red and blue colourings (to make red, blue and purple glosses), pearlescent powder and a fruity flavouring, the end product was always going to be very appealing to any mini make-up fans.

Kizzy worked independently, following the step by step guide.  Everything was easy to do and she had great fun getting creative.

The finished result was three little bottles of lip gloss which fitted in a cute, drawstring, cloth bag.  Kizzy was very proud of her achievement!  The gloss itself was subtle, adding a shimmer to Kizzy's lips.  The only downside is that the taste of the lip gloss is quite unpleasant, but that didn't seem to worry Kizzy in her pursuit for luscious lips!

This is definitely a fabulous toy for keeping your girls occupied on a rainy day in the summer holidays.  Kizzy gives it a double thumbs up and says "it is fun and easy to make and the result is beautiful and perfect for makeovers!"

Follow Toys R Us on Facebox for more Toyology reviews and competitions.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Our French Family Holiday

Holidaying with an energetic, insomniac toddler; an on the go 8 year old; a 15 year old musician who can't go a day without her guitar; a 19 year old who misses her boyfriend and a highly strung 22 year old (who brings along his girlfriend) is no easy feat.  The two eldest  have flown the coop but they still won't bypass the chance of a family holiday with their younger siblings, returning to the nest ready to become one of the kids again.  Consequently our vacations are not peaceful and relaxing...but they are guaranteed to be 100% fun packed!

Over the years, we have perfected the self drive Northern French gite holiday. This works well with our family of seven, allowing enough flexibility for us to adapt to the trials and tribulations of our slightly manic but highly entertaining family life!

My brood en France!
Last year we headed off to a gite in the Northern French countryside just outside of Le Touquet.  We drove via the Channel Tunnel and were at our destination within a few hours.  No long hauls for us!  However, our destination felt very un-English and a world away from our Shropshire home. The gite which was to be our home for the week was so cute with its shuttered windows and typically French decor.

Our Gite!
I love the freedom of a holiday in France.  If the weather is kind it can be glorious, but last year it was a tad breezy with the Atlantic wind blowing in from the ocean.  But it blew away the cobwebs (and Daddy's hair too!)

The wind in our hair!
We enjoy perusing the aisles of the French supermarkets for goodies that elevate meal times to the delights of foreign cuisine.  Being vegetarian means no snails or frogs' legs for us, but France is the home of  le patisserie.  Exquisite, fancy pastries and cakes are definitely on the menu, which meant we were free to sample the delightful array of goodies on sale.

Eclairs, gateaux, tarts...yummy!
Northern France is home to several war cemeteries and  we paid our respects at one of them at Etaples.  I was amazed at how moving it was to look out onto row upon row of white, marble gravestones, each one paying tribute to a soldier who had fallen at war.  Each one someone's son, father, brother.  It was a sombre moment and I was so proud of my children's understanding and thoughtfulness, especially Kizzy who laid daisies on many of the graves.  Her childish gesture was beautiful and brought a lump to our throats.  It is only right that we should all remember those who lost their lives fighting for our country's freedom.

A Sombre Moment.
Boulogne is home to a huge Aquarium which is a must see when in France.  We went en masse and looked in on an array of sea dwelling creatures.  A day out like this is something we can all enjoy.  Seeing the wonder on our toddler's face when he experiences new things is so heart warming.  He loved looking in on the weird and wonderful fishy friends.  This grumpy trio made him giggle!  Joe's impressions of various piscine creatures had us all in stitches!

Fishy Friends x
We were glad that the owners of this set of jaws was now extinct.  We wouldn't want to meet him whilst going for a paddle!

6 in one bite!
Although we did not have access to a tropical white sandy, palm tree lined beach, we were happy with our rustic coast line.  Trees lined the sand dunes making a magical place to explore, play and pose for a few photographs.  The kids had fun thinking of entertaining ways to pose for the camera!

Forest Fun!
Boulogne has a beautiful walled town containing the cathedral.  Most people just see Boulogne as a port which they travel through en route to more exotic European destinations, but if you stop to explore you will find some amazing architecture and buildings which are reminiscent of Paris.  We lit candles in the Notre Dame Boulogne Cathedral to remember our own lost loved ones before wandering around the ramparts of the old town.

Remembering with a prayer x
Joe's girlfriend behind bars!
We may not have the most impressive location for our holidays but we love to explore, discover and have fun together as a family.  We share so much laughter and make so many memories.  Our holiday time is priceless. Whether we stay in the UK or jump across the channel,  the change of routine and the fun of being together in a new environment puts us into a real holiday mood.  We love having fun together - nothing beats those moments when we laugh until the tears stream down our faces!  We always make a memory scrapbook of our adventures, sticking in photos, drawings, funny cartoons and stories from our day.  It makes something wonderful to look back on.  I hope this year's summer scrapbook will be as full as last year's!

A Globee Full of Memories

When I attended the Christmas in July event earlier this month, I discovered a whole host of new and exciting toys and games.  One such discovery was the Globee.  They are customized, educational and fun city globes highlighting famous landmarks of the world's best loved cities.  Available as globes from 4-9" diameter or as a 6" diameter money box, and with plans for further exciting products, the range is impressive.

Each Globee is beautifully crafted giving an artistic view of favourite places, bringing back memories from your travels.  The muted colour scheme and artwork makes every Globee a lovely souvenir which is both enchanting and engaging.  Both children and adults will love a Globee of a favourite city.  There is something very appealing about spinning a globe.  Globee's city maps in globe form are very innovative.  As either an executive toy or an educational aid, a Globee will bring the magic of your favourite city to life.

The Paris Globee and booklet.
We were sent a 6" Globee of Paris to review which retails for £14.95.  It comes with a fun booklet packed with interesting facts about the city sites depicted on the globe.  The brushed silver stand made the Globee look like a real quality product.

Is this a football??
With attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysses and the River Seine depicted on the Globee, the older children enjoyed spotting places they had visited on a previous visit to the city.  My younger children spotted places they would like to visit including Notre Dame known for its famous Hunchback!  The booklet was very informative, but still fun.  Kizzy really liked the Globee and the concept of a city map on a spinning globe really captured her imagination.

Find out more or purchase your own Globee at

A City in My Hands!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Graco U'Go Stroller Review

As a Graco ambassador I've tested some amazing products over the months including the Symbio, Fusio and Nautilus.  My latest product is the U'Go which is Graco's lightweight stroller, perfect for the summer holidays...convenient, compact and comfortable.

The U'Go looks good in black and grey with white patterns embroidered onto the padded seat.  It was easy to assemble, the wheels just click into place.  It has a good sized basket underneath and a pocket attached to the back of the hood which is perfect for storing your mobile and car keys.  It has swivel wheels and a foot operated braking system.

We took our U'Go to test out on our day out to West Midlands Safari Park.  It is such a compact stroller it took up very little boot space.  It is light and easy to carry when folded with a really useful handle on the side.

Brilliant Carry Handle makes carrying it a breeze.
Its compact size takes up very little boot space.
The U'Go was a good height to push and I was able to hang my Graco Baby Bag across the handles and store a lot of our stuff underneath.

Plenty of room for our paraphenalia.
During the course of our visit to the zoo, the U'Go was tested out for comfort by Freddy and Jack (son of Helen from The Crazy Kitchen!)  They are both 2 years old and both had a sleep in the U'Go.

Jack ponders the comfort of the U'Go
Freddy fast asleep.
The U'Go must be very comfortable because both boys had a long nap, happy in the well padded seat.  The backrest reclines from 100-150 degrees.  It was easy to push the stroller and it manoeuvred well around the attractions.  The stroller is only 48cm wide making negotiating tight spaces simple.

Perfect for holidays and days out.
The best thing about the U'Go which puts it above many other strollers on the market is its ease of folding.  The one-hand fold mechanism is so effective.  I could fold it down whilst holding Freddy in my other arm.  It folds smoothly and quickly and easily.  The latch secures it so the U'Go can be carried using the carry handle.  This makes it perfect for travelling and holidaying.  It weighs just 7.9kg.

The U'Go is available from Kiddicare for £84.  It is an excellent buy and a great stroller for convenience, compactness, ease of use and comfort.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What hides beneath!

I now wear size 12 jeans.  I'm doing OK with my eating and my relationship with food is healthier than it's ever been.  I felt confident during my trip to London guest editing on Real People.  I was professionally photographed and didn't feel at all self-conscious.  I enjoyed my meals out but didn't overdo it and get greedy.

However, I had to share this photo that my daughters took of me.  It keeps it all real!  I can't get complacent because this is what lurks up my jumper!  My squidgy belly is a source of amusement to my it has been turned into a face with a belly button frown!

So while I take real joy at being consistently a size 12, I will never forget the wobbly gut that is lying in wait to expand again to fill the size 16-18 clothing that I was wearing at the beginning of this year.

This is my Mumentum post for this week...thanks to Liska for continuing to host it :)

Super Bib by Bumkins

I was sent a Super Bib to try out from  Already a hit in the US, these bibs are quite unique.  The soft, lightweight material is completely waterproof.  The designs are vibrant and do not fade in the wash...the fun, lively patterns stay bright for the life of the bib.

The bibs easily wipe or rinse clean, and they resist most stains and odours.  A pocket on the front collects crumbs, making cleaning up really simple.  The material is really flexible and moves with the child.  A thick adjustable velcro fastener makes it easy to put on and off.

Made from 100% polyester, they are free from vinyl, PVC, phthalates, BPA and lead, making them safe for baby.

I love the funky designs that are available.  I chose the design by Keith Haring who was a New York pop and graffiti artist.  His iconic imagery is just perfect for this bib.

Radiant Baby by Keith Haring
Priced at £7.99 these bibs will last and stay looking great.  Buying them when you first wean your baby will prove the most cost effective time as they will last right through the messy early months of eating, staying bright wash after wash.

Other patterns include the gorgeous Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Yellow Fish designs.

Purchase them direct from Bebemoda  or check them out on Amazon for £7.99 each.

Like Bebemoda on Facebook for up to date news and chat!

Making Music with Little Ones!

We love music Inside the Wendy House.  Freddy can't listen to a Disney Channel theme tune without leaping up and rocking out.  With their natural interest in music, toddlers are never too young to introduce to musical instruments.  Wooden Toy Shop sells the gorgeous Tidlo Musical Instrument Set by John Crane Toys.  It is a 14 piece percussion set that includes a tambourine, maracas, triangle, paddles, bells, sticks, scraper and castanets.  They are all beautifully made and each piece came individually wrapped in protective material and packaged into a good quality, strong box that can be used to store the instruments in when not in use.  It has a cloth handle for carrying around, for music on the go!

This percussion instrument set introduces children to sound, rhythm and music.  It encourages children to play together and is the perfect starter set for some creative, musical playtimes! It is recommended for ages 3 and up, but with supervision a younger child can enjoy learning about music too.  Each piece feels like such good quality and plays really nicely.  I loved the feel of the is so much nicer than the cheap plastic instruments you can buy.

Freddy and big sister Kizzy really enjoyed playing music together.  Here is a video of them in action which shows you what fun making music can be for children!

The Musical Instrument Set costs £28.79 from Wooden Toy Shop.  This is great value for money and who knows, you could be investing in a future musician!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Fit...Keep Your Food Safe

We are all too aware of the dangers of food poisoning and ingesting pesticides.  However, many of us eat fruit and vegetables that are not properly cleaned.  Research shows that an apple can have been exposed to as many as 12 types of pesticide and handled by at least 10 different people.  A rinse under the tap or a wipe on your T-Shirt will not get rid of the toxic residue or any potentially harmful bacteria such as e-coli or salmonella.

We all know that outbreaks of food poisoning can be fatal but what can be done to protect our families?  Water alone is not sufficient.

Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash provides a solution to this problem.  Made of natural ingredients, it removes pesticides and bacteria leaving no smell or after taste.

Available in both a spray or a wash, Fit cleans away 98% of pesticides, waxes and bacteria.  It can extend the shelf life of organic produce by removing bacteria that causes deterioration. It is completely natural and certified vegan.  Simply spray it onto your produce, rub and rinse or soak and rinse.

I was sent a bottle of each variety of Fit to try out.  I used it on some cabbage.  I soaked it with a solution of Fit and after swishing it around, rinsed it with water.  The cabbage felt really clean.  I tasted some straight afterwards and there was no taste.  Nor did it smell any different.  I also washed salad leaves with it, again they were not tainted in any way.

Apples can be cleaned using the spray.  I rubbed the spray over and rinsed it under the tap and felt confident that it was safe for my children to eat.  It is no more time consuming to use the Fit wash than to rinse with water, so you are getting safer food without any extra effort.

Kitchen hygiene is so important, it is great to have an all-natural product that can help keep my family safe!

As TV hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley (Watchdog, Secret Tourist) says:
 “Washing your salads with Fit helps to remove dangerous pesticides and bacteria that water alone cannot."


350ml Fit spray: £4.99
950ml Fit wash soak (can be used as sprayer refill): £5.99

You can buy Fit direct from good!

I do love a family day out.  It beats a romantic meal for two or a night out anytime!  I love seeing the kids having fun and experiencing new things.  So this weekend we headed off for West Midlands Safari Park.  It was a particularly exciting day because I was also meeting up with the lovely ladies behind The Crazy Kitchen and The Boy and Me!

The award winning West Midlands Safari Park is in Bewdley.  It boasts a 4 mile long, 100 acre drive through safari where you can get up close and personal with a host of wild animals.  It also has a funfair with 26 rides and attractions, a Discovery Trail and the new walk through Lemur Woods.

There are cafes, kiosks and shops that cater for all your needs while you are there.  There are also picnic benches and plenty of grassy spots for relaxing.

When we arrived we went through the drive through admissions' booth for our tickets which was really efficient.  Adult admission is £13.99, children cost £11.99 and under 3's are free.  Each paid for ticket includes a free return ticket for another visit making it excellent value for money! You can also buy animal food to feed the deer and antelopes.  Once you have driven through the gates you are free to enter the safari or park up and go into the rest of the exhibits.  We headed for the drive through safari.

Drive through admissions booth
Animal food at the ready!
The drive through takes approximately one and a quarter hours, but during busy times this can take a lot longer.  A rogue giraffe in the middle of the road can slow down proceedings considerably!

You can come face to face with some of the world's most amazing animals in the open enclosures.  Some come right up to your car looking for food, others brazenly walk down the middle of the road with no regard for the cars!  The kids absolutely loved seeing the animals in such close quarters.

After our encounter with the animals we parked up and entered the Lost City Plaza.   The arcade is full of shops and places to grab some food.  It leads into the Discovery Trail where you can experience a variety of talks, encounters and shows.  We saw a Reptile Encounter featuring some very large snakes!

We went to the Explorers cafe for lunch.  The hot food was a bit school dinnery and the choice was limited for us as vegetarians, but it was OK.  When I go again, I think I'll bring food from home because there are a lot of nice spots to sit on the grass for a picnic, and the car park is close enough so you wouldn't have to lug a picnic basket around all day.

West Midlands Safari Park includes an amusement park for which you need to purchase wristbands for unlimited rides.  Individual tickets (£6 for 3)  can be purchased but at £10.99 for children and £11.50 for adults, the wristbands are better value for money if you are going to hit the rides in a big way.  Our kids did just that!  The price of the rides does make the day a lot more expensive, especially if buying for all the family.

There are 26 rides and attractions and the queues were quite short meaning our children really made the most of their wrist bands.  With rides for all ages including flumes, dodgems and roller coasters there is something to suit all levels of adrenaline junkie!

Pirate Ship
Rhino Coaster
It would have been nice if there were some rides for toddlers that were free to use.  A wristband for tiny tots costs £7.99.  My son had one go on a ride before bursting into tears and refusing to go on any more.  Toddlers are temperamental little creatures and their behaviour can be unpredictable.  £7.99 is a lot of money to lose if your child doesn't want to go on the rides.  As under threes get into the zoo for free, maybe they should get a few rides for free too.

Help Me Mummy!
We spent a whole day at West Midlands Safari Park.  The kids had a fabulous time and Kizzy certainly had good value from her wristband.  The return ticket is a really nice touch and we're planning a return visit later in the year.

For more details visit  You can also book tickets online and save £1 per ticket!

*I received 2 adult admission tickets in order to do this review.*


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