Mellow Mummy: May 2013 : Taking life as it comes...

Friday 31 May 2013

Adopt A Hive with Disney's The Hive Toys by Mookie

The number of wild bees in the UK is on a dramatic decline and, while I've blogged about small things we can do as Mums to help out (by carefully selecting our cosmetics products) I will admit that it hadn't really crossed my mind what it means for our children. As many as 20% of children in the UK have never seen a bee! Wowzers.

Disney's The Hive toys have clubbed together with Adopt-A-Hive to try and increase awareness in children and parents about the plight of UK bees and to raise awareness of little things we can all do to try and help save our bees. The campaign also wants to help highlight why bees are good! While many parents and kids would naturally shy away from bees there are plenty of reasons why we should care about their decline - and its not just about the honey!!!

Disney's The Hive Playset

To celebrate the campaign with Adopt-a-Hive Mookie have launched a range of Disney's The Hive toys with an on-pack promotion to win great prizes all through the summer such as the chance for your children to adopt a hive of their own! The campaign website also features lots of fascinating bee facts, honey recipes suitable for children (over 12 months), jokes, activities and some fab gardening tips for kids to help encourage bees into the garden.

Lara is a MASSIVE The Hive fan and was over-the-moon when she tried out this The Hive Playset, one of the range of promotional products. The playset has 3 different modes of play. When it is fully closed it is shaped just like Honeybee Hive from the popular TV show; The hive characters can buzz in and out of the flappy doors. You can open it up and watch the bees slide down the hanging rails as if they were flying and you can peer in through the windows and doors. When it is fully open the characters can play inside each of their rooms including a groovy honey-making room! The playset comes with 4 characters and a number of chairs, window boxes and other accessories.

Disney's The Hive Playset Open

Lara often struggles with her attention span when she plays with her dolls houses but I think that the fact this playset is linked to a TV programme she enjoys actually helps her imagination as she plays with it for longer and likes to try and re-enact stories that she remembers. The set is obviously designed to encourage you to buy more characters and accessories and I think it would probably benefit from a few more pieces. I like the fact that The Hive packs away neatly and compactly at the end of the day!

Tuesday 28 May 2013

AudioGO Audio Books Review

Next week we are off on our travels across France. We had the chance to try out an audio book download from AudioGO and I thought this would make the perfect holiday treat for Lara.

AudioGO stock a large range of audio books and series, many of which are available for instant download.  An audio book is ideal for us to take on holiday because it doesn't take up any space in our suitcase!  I downloaded our book direct to my PC and then transferred the files onto my ipod so that Lara will be able to listen to the story from her headphones while we are on the move or once we get to our destination.

We chose to download "A Dinosaur called Minerva" by Tessa Krailing which currently costs £5.49 to download.  I had the files downloaded and ready to play within minutes.  AudioGO also sell a CD version of the story (Lara calls them CDStories... all one word!).

I played Lara the first chapter of the audio book late on Saturday night when she needed some calming down time.  I was really impressed at how quietly and attentively she sat and listened to the story, far more soothing than when I read to her!  The story is narrated by Una Stubbs which offers a different voice and accent than Lara is used to, which I really feel adds some value - it is nice to know it isn't always my voice she associates with story time.

For Lara, this Audio book has proven to be a fascinating change and she is really looking forward to hearing the rest of the chapters when we go on holiday - I think she will enjoy the novelty!

AudioGO have quite a number of audio books for children, many of which are well known characters such as Charley Bear, In the Night Garden and even Henry's Cat!

Monday 27 May 2013

Little Tikes Role Play at ASDA

Little Tikes are well known for their simple, chunky outdoor toys for preschool children but who knew they also make a fab range of indoor toys for preschoolers too? ASDA have teamed up with Little Tikes to launch a new and exclusive range of kids toys for toddlers and preschoolers and they all look AMAZING.

Lara and Holly have been trying out this Little Tikes Doctors Set which is perfect for both of them right now as Holly is just discovering how to mimic others around her and Lara's imagination runs wild every day so role play toys suit them both.

The Little Tikes Doctors Set from ASDA has all the qualities that I expect from Little Tikes. The set features about 10 doctors tools inside a big plastic box which has a transparent window so you can see all the pieces inside. It is the most comprehensive doctors kit that I've ever set eyes on... with a toy scalpel, tweezers and calipers alongside the more traditional pieces. It is also the best quality that I've tried - Lara's received a similar set for her second birthday and many of the pieces broke within a couple of weeks. To me, the difference that Little Tikes toys show is in the build, I expect these to last considerably longer as they simply aren't constructed in the same way.

The Little Tikes range at ASDA features a number of other role play toys such as a cash register, laundry set and vacuum cleaner as well as DIY toys which are all characteristically bright and bold. There is also a massive range of more traditional baby toys such as a wooden shape sorter, baby walker, rattles, stackers and push alongs.

Holly has this fun monkey high chair toy also by Little Tikes at ASDA. He sticks to the tray of a high chair to provide entertainment during meal times... these days Holly gets all the entertainment she needs from the food on her plate but in the early days when we wanted her to sit with us even though she wasn't weaning, this toy would have been good fun. The monkey spins and rattles and has a small mirror on one of his feet. It isn't the kind of toy I would have expected from Little Tikes but, just like the doctors set, it has the same great qualities - well shaped, brightly coloured and very sturdily built.

These Little Tikes toys are available exclusively at ASDA.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Fisher Price Apptivity IPad Case Review

When Mr. B. gave me an iPad for our anniversary in March, he made me promise that I wouldn't let the girls loose on it like I have done with my iPod. The trouble with that promise is that there are so many great learning and fun apps for children that I simply can't resist letting both Lara and Holly play on the iPad so this protective Apptivity case from Fisher Price for the iPad seemed like the perfect way to let Holly play with my piece of tech without the risk!

The Fisher Price Apptivity case is a very sturdy and thick rubberised case that fits over the whole of your iPad.  It is secure because it is locked shut with two fasteners on the back.  There is a big handle with brightly coloured rattles so even when the iPad isn't in it, Holly still finds a little bit of entertainment in it.  I like the fact that when it is inside the case my iPad is protected at the corners from Holly dropping it on the floor but the screen is still unprotected from serious damage.

The screen does have a thin flexible protective covering which prevents sticky fingers and scratchy fingernails and unpleasant bodily fluids from getting anywhere near the screen.  There is also a harder strip along one end of the screen protector which I assume is meant to prevent your child from being able to press the button on the ipad... though I'm not sure why you would want to do this as it would also mean that you couldn't press it either.  I do find it a bit frustrating that once in the case, I don't have access to the volume control or the power button.  I also found the screen functions harder to use once behind the screen.  However, when I am consciously using the iPad for Holly then I think it is worth my investment in time to slip it into the Apptivity case for her, and then take it out again afterwards for me.

I first downloaded an app for Holly when she was about 2 months old - The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Lets Count app.  It is a really bright and bold app which plays music, shows bright dancing animals and teaches first numbers.  Holly has been fascinated with it on the small screen of the iPad but now she can see it on the larger screen she can't stop smiling.

Even Lara still enjoys some of the free apps from Fisher Price.  The Laugh & Learn Puppy Play app features some short musical videos with the Fisher Price Puppy and his friends which introduces first letters as well as bright and fun stories with big bold graphics.

The other app that Holly keeps going back to is the Fisher Price Roly Poly app which is also free to download.  It can be integrated into some of Fisher Price's toys but it is just as fun on the iPad.  Little Fisher Price animals float and bounce around the screen and they react to the way that your child moves the tablet, moving left and right and adding new animals when they touch the screen.

And so, by 12 months old Holly is tech-happy (what more do you expect when both parents write software for a living?) and put her in front of any screen now (not just a tablet), she tries to swipe it and interact with it!

Anywayup Bird Cup Review

You probably know how much of a fan I was of the Cow Cup by Anywayup - well now I think I may have found a new favourite!  The Bird Cup.

The Bird Cup by Anywayup is a trainer cup with a screw-on lid (a welcome relief after having accidentally twanged pull-off lids across the kitchen on way too many occasions recently). The design of the cup looks reminiscent of a bird - to me it feels a bit penguiny! It is bold, fun and recognisable.

The Bird Cup features the same innovative no-leak valve in the spout as the Cow Cup and now that Holly is used to using a cup she finds it very easy to drink from it. Holly has always been a TOTAL minx when it comes to drinking from a cup (she has an annoying habit of filling her mouth full of drink and then spitting it out all over the place) but things have improved since we started using the Bird Cup.

The handles are a good size for Holly and they are easy for me to grab too when she is showing signs that she might throw it overboard.  The cup has a 210ml capacity so I can use it for her milk, as well as for a drink at mealtimes.  So far I have had no problem with leakage in my changing bag or at home and I think the screw-top lid really helps here.

The Bird Cup is available in blue, pink or green.


Monday 20 May 2013

Cooking with Kids :: Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala with Flora #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community and so Lara and I made this scrumptious healthy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe together as part of a sponsored post and shopper insights study for their client - Flora.

Healthy & Tasty Chicken Tikka Masala With Flora
Healthy & Tasty Chicken Tikka Masala With Flora

Lara and I love to cook curry together but it has been a while because last time we cooked curry together, I made it too spicy and brought both of my girls to tears! This healthy version of a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from the Flora website tempted me because it was a reasonably mild curry and sounded easy for us to cook together as a family. I will admit that I have never cooked a Tikka Masala before so it was a first for all of us!  It was another first in the Mellow Kitchen because, on this occasion, Holly joined me for the first time in the Funpod and it was great fun to see her exploring the different smells, tastes and textures (there are some awesome photos of her trying out the lime on my G+ page!)

Preparing for our Flora curry
Preparing for our Flora curry

Holly picking fresh coriander for the Flora chicken tikka masala
Holly picking fresh coriander for the Flora chicken tikka masala
I won't repeat the whole of the recipe here but so that you can get an idea of what went into our curry, here is the list of ingredients for our family of 4.

3 chicken breasts
Chopped root ginger
Chopped garlic
Chilli powder
Black Pepper
Fresh Corriander leaf
Lime juice
50ml Flora Cuisine (or Flora Buttery if you prefer)
1 onion
1 red chilli (for Mummy and Daddy only... I wasn't going to make that mistake again)
Ground turmeric
Chicken stock
Elmlea single
Basmati rice

Cooking curry with Flora Cuisine
Cooking curry with Flora Cuisine

To me, cooking a curry with Flora cuisine feels very much like cooking with traditional ghee (but I have no idea where I would buy ghee locally) because Flora Cuisine is very runny and more or less liquid. Usually I would cook the chicken in butter before creating a curry sauce as the buttery flavour and richness really makes a curry - oil never makes a particularly tasty curry. I found the flavour of the curry cooked with Flora Cuisine to be just as satisfying but with 70% less saturated fat than butter (and even 45% less than olive oil) it is a healthier start to the recipe for our family.

Mixing the chicken marinade
Mixing the chicken marinade

The chicken was marinated in most of the spices before cooking. We fried it off in the Flora Cuisine together and then fried the onion and turmeric which gives it the vibrant colour (Lara LOVES 'yellow chicken'). We added home-made chicken stock and Elmlea (a low-fat cream alternative) and cooked it all through before garnishing with fresh corriander and slivers of red chilli for the grown-ups.  We served our tasty and healthy Chicken Tikka Masala with plain steamed Basmati rice and a chopped cucumber and tomato salad.

The curry was very mild and wasn't awfully authentic (I'm sure a chicken tikka masala usually has something to give it a vibrant orange colour) but it was perfect for a family meal as it was very light.  I have NEVER seen Holly eat a meal with quite so much enthusiasm... every single atom was consumed.

Chicken Tikka Masala - My favourite!
Chicken Tikka Masala - My favourite!

This is such a simple chicken curry to cook and all of the ingredients are distinct and easy for young children to identify. Lara and I had great fun shopping for the ingredients together (Lara had to smell all of the herbs until she had found the corriander) and to see both girls enjoying such an english classic curry puts a smile on my face.

Cooking curry with Flora Cuisine
Flora Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala With Basmati Rice

Sunday 19 May 2013

Hevea Natural Rubber Bath Toy Review

Holly LOVES bath time but she is at an age where EVERYTHING goes in her mouth so this fish shaped squidy bath toy from Hevea is perfect for her because it is made from 100% natural rubber latex and is free from anything that I wouldn't want her chewing on such as BPA or PVC.

Hevea's range of natural rubber bath toys features Polly the fish, Fred the frog and Alfie the duck. Each toy is made from sustainably produced raw rubber (rubber... in case you didn't know, comes from the sap of a tree). There are no added colours and all of the packaging has been produced responsibly with eco babies in mind.

Hevea's approach to baby products is very appealing from an eco parenting view - their range includes dummies and teethers and Hevea will even recycle old rubber soothers if you return them to Hevea.

When we first tried Polly the fish, I was a little disappointed. I understand and respect the reasons why there are no squeaky noises and no bright colours but I struggled to see the fun element in the bath toy. Holly, however, seems to love it. I think the gentle undulations and textured areas on the surface feel nice to her fingers and to her gyms when she chews it in the bath.

The rubber toy is naturally squidgy and boyant. To me, one of the most fantastic elements of the bath toy is that because it doesn't need to be filled with air, there is no need for a hole at the bottom so nowhere for gunk to build up and nowhere to drip cold water if you forget to empty the toys of water after a bath.

You can buy the complete set of natural rubber bath toys by Hevea for around £20.

Friday 17 May 2013

The Playroom - A Clock From Red Candy

The total re-invention of our box-room as a playroom is coming on well.  OK, it's coming on slowly.  I get approximately 1 hour a week to spend on painting the walls so it is some weeks away from being ready to reveal to you but I've been collecting ideas and inspiration on a Pinterest board I can share and I've discovered a few fantastic items that I just HAD to have in the new room.

The Nuby green paper lampshade was bought within seconds of me seeing the photo on Pinterest!  And this clock from Red Candy, likewise!  Red Candy is a website full of shiny red things for the home; they asked me to take a look through their products to see what took my fancy and despite being wildly tempted by some bright red toilet paper, I couldn't help but be drawn to their collection of clocks as I really wanted a clock on the wall of the play room to help the girls learn to tell the time and to provide a centre-piece for the wall.

All of their clocks were awesome.  In fact, across the entire website, there aren't many things I don't want!  Red Candy isn't just about red things.  OK, there are a lot of red things... housewares for the kitchen, living room and dining room... but there are all sorts of other non-red things too!  I had just purchased some wall stickers for the playroom but I tell you what, the range of childrens wall sticker AND grown-up wall stickers on Red Candy is pretty damn awesome.  I could quite happily decorate about 10 different styles of playroom from their range.

Anyway... the olive green P:ip wall clock from Koziol was the perfect thing to come and live in the new playroom.  The natural green colour will work well with the nature and wildlife theme that I'm planning and the tiny animal shapes are very cute and will co-ordinate well.  I love this clock, not only because it is huuuuuge (but not heavy because it is plastic) but because it is quirky.  The clock isn't traditional in any sense but because the numbers are clearly legible, I can use it to help teach Lara to tell the time.

The P:ip clock takes AA batteries and has a simple wall fastening that requires a wall hook.  For me, it is perfect.

You can follow Red Candy on facebook and twitter.

Note: RedCandy contributed to the cost of the clock for the purposes of my review but I would happily have paid full price!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Letterbox - Ready Set School! Preschool Learning Review

Letterbox represent everything I stand for as a parent when it comes to toys for my girls.  Traditional toys, a focus on learning but with fun at the heart.  Simples.

Letterbox sent Lara this fabulous Ready Set School! set to get her in the mood for her start at school this September.  It is an enormous box packed choc-full of preschool fun and Lara can't get enough of it.

When I first read that the Ready Set School cost £30 I was a bit surprised but when it arrived and I saw quite how many different exercises and activities there are for preschool learners I was VERY impressed.  The set features (among other things) a board to help your child learn to tie their own shoelaces, stackable crayons, a huuuuge pile of printed activity sheets, sticker exercises and about 5 different wipe-off notebooks, each with a different learning theme.

Lara loves the challenge of the shoe laces (it is way beyond her right now, but she'll get there) and is always a fiend when it comes to stickers.  I've been so surprised at how long her attention is held doing activities that to me are so obviously "learning" as opposed to "play" and it makes me realise how ready she is to start school.

Lara has most enjoyed the dot-to-dot puzzles because she feels proud that she can now follow the numbers around the page.  I still need to help Lara read the instructions on most of the printed activity sheets, but once I've set her in the right direction she will spend a lot of time and effort getting it right.  I recently loved watching her think really hard about what moods to allocate to each of the different characters on a page, it showed such a great level of analysis and reasoning.

I've always loved watching Lara learn.  It explains humanity to me when I see knowledge unfold in front of her.  I will never cease to enjoy seeing her challenged and this Ready Set School set is a great way of me sharing her new explorations into the world of school with her.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Pin It Forward - #PinitForwardUK

Yay - Pinterest has launched in the UK! If you've never heard of Pinterest then you need to get yourself a Pinterest account... like... now! But be warned, Pinterest can be highly addictive!

Pinterest is an online place where you can browse ideas and collect thoughts and inspiration. It is a visual feast and is packed full of ideas for families, fashion, DIY and pretty much anything you can think of. If you can find it on the internet, you can find it on Pinterest... just in a slightly groovier fashion!

Pinterest is like a virtual pin board. I use it to browse for ideas of fun craft and creative ideas to do with my girls. I have recently started using it to collect pictures of outfits for my two girls so that I know what sorts of clothes to look out for online. I also collect decorating inspiration for the future when I'm feeling adventurous enough to decorate my house. In fact, most of the products and ideas I've used when decorating our playroom have come from images that I found on Pinterest.

The board I most enjoy pinning ideas to is my "Birthday Cake Ideas" pin board - Pinterest is like cake-heaven and is certainly packed full of brilliant recipes from around the world (not just for cake!). My new-found passion for cake decorating is entirely fuelled by Pinterest and because each pin not only captures the image, but also captures the link to the webpage it originally came from, I've been able to go back and visit the recipes and step-by-step instructions.

As part of the UK launch I'd like to introduce you to a fab UK pinner - Transatlantic Blonde who pins at I've followed her online for quite some time now and her "Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful" board is inspiration for one of my own board - "Make me scrumptious". Here's an example of her pins...

If only for the fact that you can find lots of silly pictures of cats you should come and join Pinterest. You can follow me on pinterest ( and if you don't yet have an account then you can register here.

Pin It Forward UK 2013

Monday 13 May 2013

Hobbycraft Kids Craft and Inspiration - A Fuzzy Felt Flashback

Fuzzy Felt.  Woah, this brings back memories!  And My Little Pony Fuzzy Felt at that.  I feel like I'm reliving my own childhood through Lara and I tell you what, it feels good to know that Lara still gets the same amount of pleasure from the simple things in life.  Lara was sent a set of My Little Pony Fuzzy Felt from the home craft specialists, Hobbycraft who wanted to show her quite how impressive their range of children's creative activities is - and its not just cutting and sticking!  Lara has really enjoyed sitting quietly creating simple scenes from her Fuzzy Felt which comes with LOADS of scenery pieces as well as a few special My Little Pony character which you stick onto the backing board to make a scene and can peel and re-stick until your heart's content.

But Lara does love her craft activities - we have an entire room of our house dedicated to the girls' craft equipment.  Lara, being totally into all things 'princess' was very impressed by the Crayola Color Wonder Disney Princess Glitter Paper and Markers which look like they are colourless markers until the point at which you use them on the page - then they magically bring colour to the page.  To be honest, I wasn't very impressed.  The pens are billed as mess-free because the ink won't mark hands or clothes but to me it means you are limited on colours and creativity... plus the glittery parts of the paper rubbed off all over Lara'a hands and clothes instead!

The biggest hit in our family from Hobbycraft's range of kids activities was this set of 4 Hello Kitty jigsaws.  We LOVE jigsaws in the Mellow household as they take a lot of concentration (aka quiet time) and bring an amazing sense of achievement when completed.  Hobbycraft have a really wide range of children's character jigsaws across a wide age range of capabilities.

Sunday 12 May 2013

The Original Didicar Review

The Didicar is great fun - just the kind of thing that has brought our family together over the last couple of months.  The Didicar is a unique ride-on toy suitable for family members of all ages and we LOVE it.

The Didicar has no motor or batteries and doesn't require any fuel but you also don't need to pedal or push.  Lift your feet up onto the car and then simply turn the steering wheel from left to right to get it to move.

Within minutes of unpacking the Didicar, Lara had instinctively grasped the steering (it is just as easy to move backwards as forwards) and was manouvring her way through the hallway and around the dining table.  It works really well on our hard laminate floors (although with heavier riders such as Daddy, it does scuff the floor a little!) but outside on the patio and pavement it is awesome.

The Didicar is suitable from about 3 years right up to adulthood (maximum capacity is 120kg) and we have tried riders of all ages on it over the past few weeks.  This is Lara's cousin enjoying herself... Lara's grandparents (and of course parents) have even tried it out both inside and outside the house and ever time it brings smiles to everyones faces because it is so easy to use and great fun to ride.  I think Lara finds it very liberating because she has been really struggling with her balance bike recently and so she enjoys the power and independence that she feels from being able to pootle around on the Didicar... I think she feels that she is really driving!

You can buy the Didicar online and through a small number of childrens toy retailers for around £50.  It comes in 5 different colours and you can even buy sticker packs to personalise your Didicar.

I can quite honestly say that the Didicar is one of the most fun toys that Lara has ever owned and I expect us to get many years of entertainment from it.

Didicar Walk 'n Ride Review

This is a guest review by Jo Anderson who is a first-time mum to the very beautiful Amélie who recently turned one. Amélie has been testing out the Didicar Walk 'n Ride.

didicar walker didicar ride on

We found the Didicar Walk 'n Ride really easy to assemble and Amélie was interested in playing with it straight away which was a good start! Initially Amélie really enjoyed using it as a walker but the handles are quite low compared to conventional walkers which makes it harder to push as Amélie had to stoop a little, she tends to walk alongside it one handed rather than push it in front of her.

The big handles are really good hold for gripping on tight and the seat is a nice height for a first ride-on, as some other makes are far too big for her at the moment. The Walk 'n Ride is good on multiple surfaces, we used it on tiles, carpet and grass and it worked really well on all.

posing with the didicar walk n ride

We liked that the wheels were multidirectional rather than fixed, which makes it much more manoeuvrable than conventional walkers . It is occasionally a little unstable when being used as a walker but I guess this is because it needs to be thinner than most walkers in order to be a ride-on as well as walker.

Overall we enjoyed using the Didicar Walk 'n Ride. Amélie is now walking well on her own so has quickly lost interest in it as a walker but she has started sitting on it and loves it if we hold her on and whizz her round so I think it will get a lot more use as she grows older - I can't wait for her to get the hang of using her feet to pull herself along.

climbing onto the didicar walk n ride

The Didicar Walk 'n Ride costs around £34.95 and is available in Green, Blue, Purple and Pink. It is suitable from around 12 months to 3 years old.

Friday 10 May 2013

Woolly and Tig Toy Review

Both Lara and Holly adore the CBeebies show, Woolly and Tig. I think Holly most enjoys watching a little girl who she looks up to but Lara, who is a little older than I picture Tig to be, most enjoys the parts that feature the cuddly spider, Woolly.

Lara, Holly and I were each sent a cuddly Woolly of our own to snuggle.

Holly's Wooly Soft Toy is the perfect size for her to play with. He has a little scarf which you can tie (which for safety doesn't fully come off so I'm more than happy to let Holly play with it). Woolly instantly was awarded a place in Holly's nursery!

Lara's poseable Woolly is a great combination of a simple comforting soft toy but with legs that can be posed into different positions. He also plays a series of classic Woolly phrases when you press his head. Lara LOVES this, especially before she goes to bed... I think she really does find it quite comforting. There are no batteries to replace but the box calculates that you'd have to use it more or less full time for 6 months to wear the in-built batteries out!

My absolute favourite is the Jumbo Woolly Snuggle Friend. He is a bit big for Lara to take to bed with her but he does like to sit on the bed when I read her a bedtime story.  I properly love him - who minds what the girls think!

Lara was also sent a game to play.  The Woolly and Tig Pich N Match Pairs game is a card came - you can play it like matching pairs or Lara also likes to play it like snap.  Each pair of cards features Woolly the spider posed to represent a different mood - happy, unwell, proud, cold, loving etc.  The cards all have the word for the mood written in the bottom corner and because they are all quite short simple words, Lara has really enjoyed the challenge of trying to read the words herself.

Check out some of the other toys in the new Woolly and Tig range.


Wednesday 8 May 2013

Corolle Dolls Stroller Review - Costcutters UK

Costcutters UK asked my girls to review their range of role play products.  As a supplier of toys and educational materials to schools and nurseries, Costcutters UK is able to offer some attractive prices on fun stuff for preschoolers.

You may have seen my blog posts over the past couple of months about Rosie, the Corolle doll and so I thought I would encourage the girls role play with a pushchair for Rosie.  The Corolle stroller available at Costcutters is perfectly sized for Rosie the doll because it is the same brand but the buggy is designed to fit any doll (or indeed cuddly toy!) up to about 43cm tall.

The Corolle buggy has a light pink fabric with a small floral print.  The buckle is a simple fabric strap which is sewn in place and can't be moved.  I was pretty impressed by the fact that the buggy folds and collapses very much like a full-sized umbrella pushchair and the mechanism seems quite sturdy.

The buggy was an instant hit with both girls (and Rosie seemed to like it too!).  I was really surprised how quickly Holly took to it, pushing the buggy all around the living room - it really encourages her to walk around the house.

My only disappointment with the Corolle stroller is that the fabric very quickly come away from the hem on one side of the seat unit - it is still quite a delicate item, despite being designed for children.  The Corrolle dolls buggy costs £21.54 from Costcutters UK (including vat).

Tuesday 7 May 2013

ASDA Baby Event - In Store Now

The ASDA Baby and Toddler Event is back!  If you've never been to ASDA or browsed online during one of their Baby Events then you probably don't know about some of the bargains that can be found.

Discounts can be found on ASDA's own Little Angels baby range and on big name baby brands such as Pampers, Tommee Tippee and Bright Starts. Here are a selection of bargains you can find at ASDA right now:-

  • Tommee Tippee Explora Baby Food, £10.00
  • Graco Teatime Garden Friends High Chair, £27.00
  • Red Kite Sleep Tight Travel Cot, £25
  • Pampers Baby Dry Mega Pack, £12
  • Little Angels Baby Wipes Single packs of wipes £0.78 or 4 for £3

I highly recommend the ASDA Baby and Toddler event for stocking up on summer toys, holiday and travel equipment and summery baby clothing - for me it is a perfect time of your for buying baby clothes and toys for my plans over the summer.

The ASDA Baby and Toddler Event is on now until the end of the 12th of May and there are hundreds of offers across playtime products, clothing, food and baby changing products.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Bovonni Girls Dresses

I always like to choose a special outfit for the girls when it comes to a party.  Today was Holly's first birthday party and my two girls looked absolutely stunning in their handmade dresses from Bovonni.

Holly's dress is beautifully tailored and came with a matching bib which helped protect her dress during dinner (unfortunately I forgot to put it back on Holly when it came to the vibrant green Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake and juicy strawberries... oops).  To me the little additions such as the matching bib and socks make a big difference to the outfit.  Holly even let me put the stretchy matching headband on her and she looked totally scrumptious - I wanted to eat her all up.

Lara's outfit is made with the same cotton fabric and comprises a pair of spotty knickerbocker shorts and a floating strappy top.  The shorts and top are really practical for Lara who likes to run riot around the garden.

The outfits are both handmade in the UK by Yvonne at Bovonni and there are a few things that immediately stand out to me.  Firstly, no more than 20 of any one dress is ever made so these really are special items of clothing that you won't see all their friends wearing.  Secondly, the items are clearly handmade - there is just something different about the way they are constructed that shows that someone spent time and effort putting it together.  As someone who has made vain attempts in the past to make clothes for the girls, I really value this.

There is no reason why these beautiful items from Bovonni have to be reserved for special occasions but I just KNEW that they would be perfect for Holly's spring birthday.  The girls both felt so comfortable in their outfits and enjoyed the day immensely while looking so gorgeous that I simply couldn't take a bad photo of them if they tried!

You know, when I first started planning Holly's birthday party I very nearly popped out to our nearest big shopping centre to buy the girls a party dress each but I'm so glad that these Bovonni dresses came into our lives because there is something quite special about an item of clothing that has had this amount of thought and effort put into it, and which has not been constructed en-masse at the other side of the planet.

Thank you Yvonne for making my little girls look like little girls... if only for one day!  Yvonne at Bovonni hand makes clothing for little girls and baby girls clothing of all sorts of shapes, styles and colours.

Jo Jingles children's music CD and DVD review

I had heard a lot about Jo Jingles from some of my friends and family but had never heard any of the Jo Jingles songs or attended a class.  One of the things I have most missed when going back to work after maternity leave (both times) is my weekly music class with the girls and I was really excited to be able to review the Jo Jingle music CD and DVD because I knew it would give me a good opportunity to continue singing and playing with my girls at the weekends, even though we now don't have the time to go to classes together.

Jo Jingles is a music, singing and movement scheme suitable for children from 3 months old to 5 years old so both of my girls get to join in.  When we first watched the Music is Fun With Jo Jingles DVD together as a family, both Holly and Lara sat in total awe with great big smiles on their face.  The DVD has 17 different songs to sing along with, most with actions performed by classes of children; Lara and Holly both enjoyed the songs that they recognised such as "The Wheels on the Bus", "No More Monkies Jumping On The Bed" and "Wind the Bobbin Up" but there were several tracks which none of us had heard before but which I have noticed Lara singing in the car since!

The DVD isn't awfully high quality (as an ex media studies student, maybe I'm overly critical?) but the important thing is the music and the actions and these come across well.  Mr. B. seemed a bit disappointed with the 'quality' of some of the adult singing but actually I found that even some of the classics such as "Wind the Bobbin Up" were sung with enthusiasm and given a bit more pizazz than I had heard before - very jolly -and they certainly encouraged all of us girls to get up and bop around the living room.

We were also sent a copy of the Jo Jingles Favourites 5 CD which I am pretty certain will be accompanying us on our long road trip to France this summer.  Many of the 21 children's music tracks from the DVD are on the CD along with the "Say Hello", "Good Morning" and "Say Goodbye" tracks which I assume to be the way in which the Jo jingles classes start and end.  I remember when Lara was first born I searched high and low for a music CD with good quality singing of fun renditions of children's songs and never found anything I really liked but this CD is fab - just a shame it took me so long to find!  Lara's favourite song from the CD right now is "Polly put the Kettle on".

I'm not a naturally musical mum so it is great to have a CD or DVD to help me encourage an enjoyment of music and singing in both my girls and I'm glad that they have found Jo Jingles so fun.  Holly even now has a Jo Jingles doll sitting watching over her in the nursery!!!

Check out the Jo Jingles site to see if there are any classes near you.

Saturday 4 May 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake

Tomorrow we are celebrating Holly's first birthday with a big family meal.  Its a shame to spoil the surprise for them but I just couldn't resist posting a picture of Holly's first birthday cake - The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The cake is a very rich, very sweet sponge made with 8 eggs.  I made it in a tiny round tin (Lara's cake tin!) and a retro tin with a hole in the middle.  The head is coated with marzipan and fondant icing.  The body is decorated with a green buttercream and lots of different shades of green sprinkles of various shapes and sizes.

Friday 3 May 2013

Lego Friends at MiniWardrobe (and a photo of my daughter looking gorgeous)

This is Lara.  This is Lara looking "beautiful".

I asked Lara to pose in her brand new Lego Friends T-Shirt from MiniWardrobe and this is her interpretation of the term "beautiful".  Hmmm.

Kidding aside, I think Lara does look beautiful.  She is always most gorgeous when she is happy and this new top made her incredibly happy.  In fact, the morning after this photo was taken, I discovered Lara furtling through the dirty linen basket to try and find her Lego Friends T-shirt so that she could wear it again! 

This is now Lara's absolute favourite top which is rather awesome timing.  A little under two years ago, Lara reviewed a Diesel top from Mini Wardrobe which was so well-loved that, as she approaches her 4th birthday, has only just been packed away in the loft.  Lara loved that top so much that she wore it right up until she was physically unable to squeeze her way into it.  A good quality top like that is made to last and it certainly did well... well enough that Holly should be able to wear it too.

The Lego Friends T-Shirt is just as good quality - one of the very best T-shirts I've seen her in.  The stretchy cotton fabric is thick and well constructed so that it stretches but doesn't warp.  Lara first discovered Lego Friends earlier this month on our first trip of the year to Legoland - now she is totally obsessed!

The Lego Friends T-Shirt is part of the Lego clothing range available from Mini Wardrobe.  The clothes for both girls and boys are all very fashionable and in fact I think I'd quite like to wear some of them - the Lego Ninjago clothing all looks awesome.

Mini Wardrobe pride themselves on their fair and honest prices - they feature some very well known brands alongside some smaller, more exclusive clothing brands.  All of their clothing is stocked at prices which are not only attractive to us but which also offer manufacturers and designers a higher sum per item they sell than if they were to sell through most high street retailers, or discount sites.

Thursday 2 May 2013

P&G and Asda Clean Water Campaign Update

I recently blogged about the P&G and Asda Clean Water Campaign in which P&G are donating a days clean drinking water to those children who need it for every stickered P&G product bought from ASDA until the 8th of May.  Products bought after this will still contribute to the total money raised (but they might not have stickers on them!)

P&G's nifty sachets of water cleansing cleverness can convert 10 litres of dirty wanter into clean, drinking water and through P&G's 'Childrens Safe Drinking Water Campaign' the sachets are distributed to children and families who would otherwise have to risk the possibility of disease from unsafe water.

P&G sent me some survey results which showed that here in the UK, over a third of all respondents said that the one thing on the planet they could never live without was their tablet or smartphone. When I read this, I nearly fell of my chair - imagine trying to live without clean water?!?  Imagine having to walk for miles and back again several times a day for water that is thick with mud and harboring potentially deadly diseases.  For me, when I run the tap on a warm summers day and see the water come out of my tap white and limey, I  get upset and put-off and yet I know that me and my family are so lucky to have safe water on-demand.

Look out for th P&G and Asda Clean Water Campaign so any purchases you make over the weekend could make a difference.
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