Mellow Mummy: December 2016 : Taking life as it comes...

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Mellow Mummy

I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of my Mellow Mummy readers. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

I've just got the finishing touches to do for our Christmas preparations.  Stocking fillers are sorted. Christmas Eve box is packed. Cranberry sauce made. Christmas Cake decorated. Sausage Rolls baked. Yule Log made...I think we just have mince pies to make and a Pantomime to go to.

Have a fab time everyone. See you in 2017!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Hug Time Poppy Trolls Review

As a child and into my teens I collected Trolls so I'm really excited to see them back on our shelves. Hug Time Poppy is an interactive troll toy featuring one of the star characters from the new Trolls Dreamworks movie; Hug Time Poppy is a fun, light-up interactive character with a strong positive message to pass on.

Holly and Lara haven't seen the Trolls movie yet but this doesn't stop Holly from really loving all the Trolls merchandise as the characters are hard not to love. Their cheeky faces, little legs and bright, soft hair are instantly recognisable.  Hug Time Poppy is a doll who speaks lots of different positive phrases (there's 25 different things to listen out for) she also plays music from the movie which I've heard is awesome - with a song in your heart you can do anything!

You can push Poppy's tummy to hear her talk or sing.  When Poppy sings her hair lights up. The lights are hidden behind a little tiara which can be removed so that you can brush her hair. Poppy comes with a brush and as I remember it, brushing a Troll's hair is very therapeutic.  When the dancing is done, Poppy often asks for a hug, and who can resist?

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Hug Time Poppy is not her hugs, but her bracelet.  When she sings, Poppy's bracelet lights up and your little Trolls fan will be super excited when they find out they can wear a matching bracelet that lights up as well. The bracelet is a good size for Holly who is 4.  When you wear the bracelet you can press the button and see it light up too - this prompts Poppy to say a phrase, sing a song or ask for a hug.  It's actually a pretty clever little piece of wireless wizardry.

Hug Time Poppy from Hasbro costs around £49.99 and is suitable for children from around age 4 upwards. She can be found in time for Christmas at Smyths or Amazon.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Portable North Pole Collectibles from John Lewis

Portable North Pole has become part of our Christmas tradition. The girls both look forward to receiving their personalised video from Santa in the run up to Christmas because it is the first indication they have of whether they have made it onto his good list, or his naughty list.  This year you can find a limited edition set of PNP collectible Christmas gifts in store and online at John Lewis.

The John Lewis Portable North Pole range includes a festive elf, their box of tricks and ideas for what your elf can get up to. There are elf ear, elf slippers, Christmas activity sets and a kit to write your letter for Santa if you haven't already. For Christmas Eve, there is a golden magic key for Father Christmas to make it into your house.

Part of the PNP collectible range is this I Believe In Santa Portable North Pole Magic Bauble Surprise. It is a fun little gift for around a fiver (it is currently £4 at John Lewis) because it can be hung on the tree, it opens up to reveal a bag of North Pole chocolate coins, and because it includes a special code that a grown-up can redeem for a personalised Portable North Pole message from Santa. Lara and Holly were most wowed by the chocolate coins (we had to remove them from inside because the bauble was too heavy to hang on the tree otherwise) but they had no idea that the bauble unlocked their special Santa message.

If you have more than one child then a PNP Magic Pass is one of the most cost effective ways of getting your hands on a selection of personalised Santa messages this Christmas. You can, of course, choose the free PNP video message but we love the extra photos, names and personalisation and the longer videos that you get with a Premium Portable North Pole purchase and the Magic Pass gives you unlimited video creations. Last year I remember Lara wanting to go back into the PNP console in early spring to see if Santa had left a message for her - he hadn't but we did receive a personalised video from Santa for Lara's birthday in June that kept her interested.

I've used my PNP Magic Pass to create two personalised video messages for the girls (strictly speaking I made 3 but I changed my mind about whether Holly was worthy of the good list or not!).  Closer to the big day I'm going to try out the personalised telephone call as we have never tried this with the girls before.  I was really glad to see some new script and content for PNP this year and the videos are as magical as ever.  I've chosen two very different videos for Lara and Holly - both are set inside the elves' workshop and feature a great big book that Santa stores for every child.  I think the girls are going to LOVE the cheeky elf tricks that happen.

You can view your PNP personalised Father Christmas videos online on the website, through the  PNP console in the smartphone/tablet app or you can even download the video file to play through your method of choice. If you've never made one before then I highly highly recommend them because both Lara and Holly have been absolutely mesmerised and transported away when they watch their video. They are really well done and feel very magical.  The PNP Magic Pass in on offer at John Lewis now for £7.99

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Winter Skincare SOS - Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream

Everyone in our house is suffering from dry skin at present; the cold weather always makes it worse and poor old Holly is suffering most. My face is crying out for hydration in a response to the dark nights and the freezing conditions but at this time of year I'm really bad about treating myself, even when it is a treat I really need. The Jojoba Company sent me a little pre-Christmas treat in the form of their awesome hydrating day cream to try and combat the winter blues.

The Jojoba Company are an Australian skincare brand who pride themselves on their natural skincare solutions. Their Hydrating Day Cream is a vegan-friendly moisturiser that is incredibly light and instantly absorbed.  It comes in a pump dispenser and is compact enough to fit into a handbag so that you can apply it throughout the day if your skin is crying out for a quick moisturising boost.

And that's exactly what it is...a boost. I love the way that my skin feels like it is bounding back in a refreshing zing every time I apply it. As the brand name suggests, the day cream features moisturising jojoba oil. Alongside this you'll find Siberian ginseng extract, green tea and olive leaf extract which all add to the boosting effect. Vitamins B and E are there to support the skin and chamomile helps your skin to feel soothed after a day out in the fresh air.

My skin is feeling quite genuinely fabulous at present (this may also be related to a change in face wash). The feeling might be explained by the fact that this Jojoba hydrating day cream has been clinically proven to help your skin increase its elastin levels by as much as 97% so it helps your skin to bounce back from stresses. I'm loving having this moisturiser with me and I can picture it being just as refreshing and rewarding in the warmer months as it is right now in the depths of winter.

You can find The Jojoba Company skincare products in Holland and Barrett.  The  hydrating day cream costs £22.99.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Foamë Children's Construction Play

Foamë is a new discovery for us -  a construction toy, a creative play toy and even a bath toy all rolled into one and Lara and Holly (and their new little friend who joins us for play three evenings a week) have taken to it instantly.  So has the cat, who likes to chew the pieces if we leave them lying around!

Foamë is effectively a set of building blocks. Shaped foam pieces that can be slotted together in all sorts of different ways. The pieces can be used in the house, on your travels or even in the bath because they have been designed to float in the bath and to dry quickly. They even come in their own special Foamë satchel which sticks to the walls of the bathroom and has holes in the bottom to allow the pieces to drain and dry naturally.

We received two different sets of Foamë construction kits to build - one themed around Creatures and the other themed around Boats.  Both sets contain all the pieces you need to make loads and loads of different designs and they come with a little booklet to give you inspiration. Some of the pieces are very clearly designed for one particular use, especially in the Creatures kit. However, in the Boats play set there are a lot more opportunities for innovation to create boats of all sizes.

I think Holly was most taken with the Creatures set. Lots of the creatures are water themed so that they enjoy being in the bath! You'll find everything from star fish to stingrays, from ducklings to polar bears! This kit contains easy-to-build projects that would be suitable for even the smallest hands. Foamë is recommended for children aged 3 upwards.

Lara enjoyed the slightly more complex projects in the Creatures kit and some of the boats too. Lara is someone who very much enjoys following the instructions whereas Holly is more into free-play. Either way, construction kits such as this are a great way of exploring the imagination and developing fine motor skills.

We were impressed by Foamë in the bath - I've been looking for a slightly more grown up bath toy for some time. I probably wouldn't recommend putting two whole sets of Foamë into the bath at the same time like Lara and Holly do because it takes up the entire bath! The pieces are enough of a distraction from hair washing for both girls and they (so far) seem happy to scoop them all up and put then in the bag at the end.

The girls have enjoyed building their own menagerie from the kits and despite the occasional gnawing from Bella the cat, they've so far proved resilient to small children and pets alike!

Foamë construction kits are available from £20 with more kits being added over time. You can find out more about Foame play sets on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Eve Box Inspiration from Poundstretcher

This year I've decided to make our first ever Christmas Eve box; it isn't something I've done before and I'm not sure if it will take off as a tradition in our house. We do very often buy the girls a new pair of pyjamas for Christmas Eve so this year we have taken it one step further and filled a big wicker basket with lots of goodies for all the family. I popped out during my lunch break over to Poundstretcher and picked up everything I needed for our family Christmas Eve box in one hit and I spent only £25.

I lined one of our old wicker baskets from the playroom with a festive blanket that we normally drape over the table at Christmas - this is the basis of our box. Then I packed it full of family treats.

The girls each get a pair of character pyjamas which only cost £4.99 each. I saw pyjamas with kids favourite characters from 12 months to 10 years. I chose a Trolls pair for Holly and a Secret Life of Pets pyjama set for Lara.

To match the pyjamas, I've included some fluffy festive snuggle socks - a pair for each of us. These were on special offer so I managed to get some animal ones for the girls and some festive coloured socks for us. They're a bit silly but they'll be nice to wear while we are opening presents on Christmas morning.

Also in our family Christmas Eve box I've put some boxes of treats - Trolls and Paw Patrol sweets for the girls and a box of Elizabeth Shaw mints for the grown ups. I've also popped in a sachet of ground coffee so that we can have a nice pick-me-up on Christmas day.

For bedtime on Christmas Eve I've included two little festive bath fizzers which only cost 79p each. The girls will enjoy this. They make a fab stocking filler idea as well.  I've added a "Santa Stop Here" sign to place in the garden and of course, I've made up a little bag of reindeer food from porridge oats and silver glitter. It should be a magical end to the evening.

Our Christmas Eve box also features a 2017 family organiser with a pen and a notepad so that we can plan our activities for the new year.  And last, but definitely not least, I've even included a little bag of treats for Bella, the cat because I wouldn't want her to miss out on the festive fun.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Scholastic 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides

Have you spotted the Scholastic 12 days of Christmas gift guides yet? 12 different themes of gift guides packed full of books from the Scholastic Books children's book range. Each day has a different theme and their gift guide contains 12 different book ideas to suit that theme or age range; the guides are packed full of Christmas gift and stocking filler ideas for your little bookworms.

So far, Scholastic have put together gift guides for:-

  • Stocking Fillers
  • Books for 0-3 years old
  • Boredem Busters
  • Books for 4-7 year olds
  • TV and Film
  • Books for 8-11 year olds.

Each gift guide contains 12 gift ideas and you'll get 20% off any of the books in the gift guide that day when you buy from Scholastic Books.  For instance, in the gift guide for 4-7 year olds you'll find a collection of Roald Dahl classics such as George's Marvellous Medicine and the Twits.  You'll also find a festive Enid Blyton Faraway Tree story and a David Walliams collection - all authors that Lara absolutely loves at present.

Every day that scholastic share one of their gift guides on their blog, you'll also find one of the books to be won on Facebook and Twitter - there are plenty of Scholastic prizes to be won.

But that's not all - don't forget that if you buy your festive books from Scholastic Books you'll also be giving back to your school or nursery with their #GiveABook festive campaign. Your nominated school get 20% of the cost of your order back in books. Additionally, Scholastic will be picking their favourite #GiveABook suggestions from Facebook, twitter and Instagram to choose a sack of £50 worth of books for your school or nursery so get sharing!

You can find the full Scholastic Children's Books gift guide here.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Casdon Christmas Gifts - Hetty Cleaning Trolley

Holly and Lara received a surprise Christmas present from Casdon, home of our favourite role-play toys. The girls were very excited to find out what was inside, so much so that I missed the opportunity to catch their faces on camera before they'd ripped off all the paper.  Who knew that my two girls could get so excited about cleaning products???

The Casdon Hetty Cleaning Trolley is a complete cleaning role play set for children of around 2-6 years old. The trolley has everything you need to pretend to be a professional cleaner! A modern style floor mop, a dustpan and brush, a broom, a pretend bottle of cleaning fluid and a bag to put all your rubbish in. The set is all branded with the Hetty imagery that we know from the Henry hoover cleaning range.  The girls just love it!

Lara who is now 7 is really too tall for using this play set but Holly who is 4 is just right for it. She can pull the trolley down the hallway complete with all its accessories. Given how rarely Holly sees me do any housework (!) I'm surprised at how well she manages this role play!!! I just wish she'd show a little more interest in genuinely cleaning up after herself!  The toy steam mop is a hit, it even comes with a replaceable cloth to place on the end of it, just like the real thing. In fact, there are so many little parts of this toy that it offers plenty of different ways to play; sweeping, mopping, brushing and scrubbing as well as tidying it all away.

For Holly, any toy that encourages her away from the TV is a good toy in my eyes! This little trolley encourages her to move around the house and explore different places that need a good clean; it's so realistic that she does actually manage to get the hard floors clean with the brush. It's good old fashioned role play and it is good to see both Lara and Holly happy to play together as part of their imaginary games.

Lara recognises the bright pink Hetty branding but I am not sure it resonates much for Holly other than a bright colour and a funny face. It's pink... and that's enough for her.

At just £14.99 in Toys R Us the Hetty cleaning trolley from Casdon is great value. It feels like a big toy and has lots of play options. I'd recommend it as a role play gift for a budding chores helper this Christmas!

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