Mellow Mummy : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Lovably Me Wooden Jigsaw Review

Earlier this month I was introduced to the beautiful online children's gift boutique, Lovably Me who asked for our Mellow Mummy feedback on their gift ideas for kids. Lovably Me stock some gorgeous kids wall stickers, room decor and nursery decorations but my girls were most taken with the range of toys and games for children from birth to 8 years and upwards.

One of the brands of toys that really stood out to me when browsing Lovably Me was Vilac.  Vilac make traditional wooden toys such as role play food, dominoes, musical instruments and games.  We tried out this traditional wooden Vilac Pirate Puzzle which is suitable for children from about 4-7 years old.

Lara and Holly are both jigsaw addicts.  I haven't counted recently but I suspect the number of puzzles we own is approaching the three-figure mark and they all get regular use.  This Pirate Puzzle is one of the most advanced we own and I'm glad we've found a jigsaw puzzle that can challenge Lara but which is still fun.  The pieces on this Vilac jigsaw are quite small and the picture features several subtly different ships which Lara had to put quite some thought into in order to get it right.

Despite the challenge of the puzzle, Lara has already been back to it again so at least I know she doesn't feel defeated.

The Vilac Pirate Puzzle costs £15 from Lovably Me and comes in a fun, pirate-shaped presentation box which can be used for storing the puzzle pieces.  I think it would make a perfect gift for any pirate-mad (or puzzle-mad) child.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Lara and Holly Test Out the New Little Chef Menu

If, like us, you are hitting the roads for a few days away over half-term then you're likely to spot a Little Chef restaurant on your travels.  We got a chance to try out the brand new Little Chef menu which features lots of dishes you might not have expected such as Bockwurst hot dogs and a very yummy-sounding sirloin steak and red onion sandwich.

Last weekend we visited Little Chef at Wisley South on the A3 near Guildford.  Inside, this Little Chef has a mixture of sit-down restaurant and cafe-style sofas and bars for if you simply want to pop in for a cake and a hot drink.  There is even a takeaway area.  But, when we're travelling as a family we usually like to take a long, leisurely break so we sat down in a booth and relaxed to enjoy out lunch.

The girls each ordered a main meal and a drink from the children's menu which was filled with classic children's favourites such as macaroni cheese, pizza, chicken goujons and of course, a Little Chef breakfast.  The children's menu offers a main course and a pudding for only £4.98.  Lara chose an awesome pancake option for pudding which included a classic Little Chef thick pancake with pots of chocolate sprinkles, chocolate drops and chocolate sauce for you to make your own pancake creation!

Mr. B. and I were both spoilt for choice on the new menu.  Mr. B. went for the all-time Little Chef classic, an Olympic Breakfast with all of the cooked breakfast trimmings you could ask for.  I chose a breakfast burger and oh my goodness, did it hit the spot.  I have clear memories of a bad burger experience at a Little Chef restaurant many many moons ago and this burger thankfully blew all those memories away - it was a thick, meaty burger made with crumbly real beef mince packed into a slightly sweet cob roll and topped with bacon and egg.  Healthy?  No - but perfect after a late night  with friends the day before!

The food quality at Little Chef Wisley South exceeded my expectations (although I did wish that my girls had got a little more adventurous than fish fingers and chips!).  I thought the customer service was a bit slow with staff struggling to meet the demand but, as I always find at Little Chef, the chef themselves really impressed.  The cooking area is open to view and I could see a single member of staff meeting the demands of the full lunch time rush.

To finish, Mr. B. and I shared one of the new pancake stacks piled high with fresh banana and toffee sauce.  Unfortunately, we noticed too late that ours didn't come with the expected ice-cream.  I think that chef maybe was a little too under pressure!

Our Little Chef adventure was never going to push any culinary boundaries but I think the food was good for a roadside experience and bettered my expectations. I felt the restaurant itself could have done with an extra member of staff to keep on top of the orders, and keeping tables and floors clean.

You can find out if there is a Little Chef on your half-term travels using their restaurant finder.

Disclosure: We were sent a contribution towards out meal.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

ASDA George Home Wooden Toys - A Wooden Kitchen Review

There is nothing that my girls enjoy more than pretending to cook me dinner! Despite the fact that they join me in the kitchen most days to cook their own food, there is something magical about kitchen role play that ignites the imagination of almost all children. This beautiful ASDA wooden play kitchen from George Home is such a neat little role play area that my two girls can enjoy together away from the hustle and bustle of our main kitchen!

ASDA have a fairly impressive range of wooden toys now, our enormous doll's house has pride of place in the playroom and now this red and cream kitchen has become our number-one played toy with both Holly and Lara finding many hours of entertainment from cooking, washing up and storing their wooden food supplies in their own mini kitchen. Yes, there are sturdier wooden toy kitchens available, and yes, there are bigger, grander designs to be found but at just £40 this wooden kitchen really is fantastic value for money.

When Lara was two Lara was given a plastic kitchen which, soon after her baby sister was born, succumbed to the pressures of childhood - it wasn't built to last. In contrast, this ASDA wooden kitchen would take some serious effort to destroy and so I expect it to withstand the Holly test - this is where wooden toys really come into their own because they last so much longer.

Our toy kitchen came as flat pack and it took Mr. B. a good hour to build it but, towards the end he discovered that one of the pieces was incorrect and that meant we has to improvise - it means we have a screw-hole on display which we probably shouldn't and that we can't use the dinky little red and white gingham curtain over the "window". I would say that the incorrect piece and the ever so slightly wonky MDF doors are a reflection of the price of the ASDA George wooden play kitchen BUT I still think it presents great value for money. With a drawer, cupboard, microwave, hob, sink and oven as well as moving dials and hanging space for utensils, this play kitchen has all of the basics I'd look for in a play kitchen, plus more.

The kitchen comes with a set of wooden kitchen utensils for use in your role play games. My girls also happen to have a set of metal pots and pans which work perfectly with the kitchen and Holly loves putting on her chef's hat and apron to cook me up "carrot stew" or "omelette" for my dinner.

Disclosure: We were sent the wooden kitchen for the purposes of our review.
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