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Monday, 31 October 2011

Introducing Sevi



John Crane Ltd has just announced an exciting partnership with Italian wooden toy company Sevi.  John Crane will be distributors for Sevi in the UK, bringing the charming toys to our favourite retailers at great prices!

Sevi has been committed to producing quality, beautifully designed hand crafted wooden toys for almost two centuries!  From their humble beginnings where handmade masterpieces delighted market goers in Italy, Sevi has grown to become a brand that is known and loved internationally.  They still adhere to the founding principles and values, caring for design, detail, dynamic creativity and professional service.

Sevi produce some of the cutest, most beautifully designed wooden toys, games and decorations!  They embrace the unique warmth of wood allowing children to play in a natural way with creativity and imagination.

For children who love playing with cars and trucks...



For children who enjoy role play...


 For toddlers learning to walk with their pull along toys...
For Christmas Time...
For Birthday Celebrations...
For budding rock stars...
Sevi toys look gorgeous making them a perfect fit with the John Crane brand.  Follow John Crane on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on all the latest news!

Read more blog posts about Sevi on the Blog Match linky.

Happy Halloween...However You Celebrate!

I can't believe how quickly October has flown by.  It seems the children only just started back at school and already we're celebrating Halloween!  It'll be Christmas in a blink of an eye!  Already the shops are playing Christmas tunes...seriously the Disney Store was in full Chrimbo mode on Saturday...they seem to be bypassing Autumn altogether and going straight for the Winter celebrations.  It all goes too fast! 

That is one of the reasons why I like to punctuate the year with celebrations.  It's a chance to pause for thought and have some family fun.  It allows reflection and gives a chance to take stock and regroup before marching onto the next event on the calendar!

Halloween is one of my favourite celebrations.  Not only is it a day that pays homage to one of my favourite things...that is Horror, it is also the Pagan Sabbat celebration of Samhain.  This is a time to remember and honour our ancestors and lost loved ones, when the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest.  I'll be lighting a candle in my window for those who I have lost.

While the kids are at school, I've decorated the house with ghoulish decorations.  I have a Green Lentil Bake cooking which will be served with baked eggs and lovingly renamed as Eyeballs in Sludge!  We'll be baking some scary goodies using my Aldi Halloween bakeware.

Yesterday the girls designed and carved their pumpkins.  I let them loose to do what they wanted.  I totally loved their finished result...a warning about the dangers of alcohol.  The before/after pumpkin display tells a moral tale of excess!  I love the puking pumpkin after having too much to drink at the Halloween party.  My girls do make me laugh!


We love an excuse to dress up in our Halloween Outfits.  I always buy Halloween stuff in the sales and have a glut of fab things which the kids (and Ian) enjoy dressing up in.


However you choose to enjoy October 31st, I hope you have fun!  We certainly do :)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mumentum Update for October

I'm still thinking myself slim with my Slimpods!  I still marvel at the power of the 10 minute MP3 to quell my compulsion to eat all day long and stop me from yoyo-ing my weight like Renee Zellweger between Bridget Jones films.  I'll be forever grateful for accepting the offer to trial Thinking Slimmer, I'm not trying to be dramatic but it has turned my life around.  My size 12's are feeling more comfortable and I feel like I'm in control of the choices I make.

I have another photoshoot for a health and fitness magazine coming up, following on from the Sun article, which will be exciting!  This one is with Ian and it will be the first time we've had a professional photograph taken together.  We didn't even get professional pics taken when we got married.  So this will be fabulous for us!

I also started a trial of the Mutu System last week, to try and sort out my weak stomach muscles following pregnancy number 5.  I started with great vigour, taking my before shots, measuring myself and setting goals.  I printed out my How To guide and began the first phase of daily core exercises.  The gentle exercises included a "pelvic scoop".  Sadly for me...my spine did not take too kindly to being moved in this way and I put my back out! #fail

I contacted Wendy, the creator of the Mutu System, who chatted to me about the spinal injury my body has learned to live with over the years, since giving birth to Ella back in 1996!  My body has compensated for the weakness so I am generally pain free...until I roll my lower spine.  That is why pilates and yoga have never agreed with me.  All that pelvic tilting really upsets my back causing pain, stiffness and nerve pain down my leg.  And that was the result of me just doing the breathing exercises in phase one!  But Wendy was brilliant and helped me to work out a way of working around my problem whilst continuing with the Mutu System.  I think my stomach muscles feel better already just by contracting them and holding them tighter in everyday situations.  I will get a flat tummy yet!

I also decided to part company with all the size 16 and 18 clothes which are languishing in my wardrobe...I definitely won't be needing them again. I finally have the confidence to accept that.  I can't believe how huge they look.  It wasn't that long ago that these were my favourite pair of jeans!  It is nice to have something to gauge my weightloss against...it was very motivating!

diet

I want to shift another stone and tone up my tummy, thighs and my arms...that is my goal for Christmas!

Check out thinkingslimmer.com and mutusystem.com for full details of these products.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Silent Sunday







Octonauts Puzzle from Ravensburger


Here is another Ravensburger Puzzle that will delight the older pre-school fans of the CBeebies show The Octonauts.  Featuring three scenes, the graded puzzles have 25, 36 and 49 pieces respectively.  Your child can progress, tackling more difficult puzzles as their skills develop.

Doing puzzles aids children's concentration and patience, developing observational skills.  Communication skills can grow as children discuss the pictures.  Having scenes from The Octonauts will really help fire up their imagination.  

Made to the high quality standards of Ravensburger, the steel cut pieces are printed onto sturdy recycled  card.  The pictures are colourful and bright starring all the characters from the show that children love.  The linen finish stops glare and the pieces interlock with a perfect fit.

Check out Ravensburger.com for other fabulous puzzles for all ages and abilities.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Meet the Annoying Monsters

The Annoying Monsters found their way to Earth after being expelled from Planet Boggus by Queen Griselda, who found them just too annoying.  So now they've arrived and all they want to do is meet people and annoy them!  


They burp, scream, giggle, fart, snore and repeat everything you say...these cute, cuddly characters really are annoyingly fun.  You simply activate one of their sensors by tickling, touching or squeezing them to set them off.  They are loud, outrageous, aggravating and very funny!

We received Bothersome Boris and Irritating Ethel, two monsters from the range to review.  Each monster has his own biography giving you a background to your new friend.  Bothersome Boris thinks everything is a laugh and never means to cause bother, even though he causes it aplenty.  Irritating Ethel is as sweet as sugar but annoys the other monsters by trying to kiss and them and making them run away.


A button on their hand allows you to record a message which is then repeated back to you in an annoying monster voice.  That proved a fun feature with my kids making them say all kinds of nonsense!  If you stop playing with them they start snoring very loudly!  A jab in the eye illicits a blood curdling screech, a tickle on the foot has them laughing and jumping around and a poke to the guts expels wind from either end with a burp or a fart!!  This is toilet humour at its best (so not for those likely to be offended by such rudeness!!)

Annoying Monsters are set to be a big hit with children and the young at heart this year!  Children will love the cuddly creatures and will laugh at their outrageous antics.  Grown-ups with a certain sense of humour will find them hilarious!


Marketed by Mint Toys they cost under £20.  Available from Amazon and other stockists.

Check out www.annoyingmonsters.com for games, painting activities, stories, competitions and Annoying Monster fun.  My kids love this site...it really is a lot of fun!  

A Home for my HexBugs!

One of the most innovative toys on the market has to be the Hexbug!  Little micro robotic creatures that move around in a haphazard fashion on their vibrating rubbery legs, look so much like cockroaches scurrying around it is quite intriguing!
You can have one Nano Hexbug running free or you can collect a whole swarm of the different coloured bugs.  You can even give them their own habitat. The options are endless!

We were sent some Hexbug samples to try out following our Hexbug Bedbugs Sleepover at London Zoo.   The bugs, who arrived in their individual test tube style cases, combine science, nature, gadgetry and fun.  Colourful, appealing and entertaining, they include a replaceable battery and are ready to explore!  Each HexBug contains a code so you can register and play online.


We were delighted when we were offered a home for our Hexbugs by find-me-a-gift.co.uk who sent us a Hex Bug Spiral Starter Set to review.  It's a great Christmas present idea for older children.  Adults are equally enthralled by the bugs!  They would make a good executive toy, my husband would love one of these sat on his desk at work!!
The perfect habitat for the cyber creepy crawlies to scurry about in, the series of spiral ramps and gates provides a very entertaining addition to your Hexbug Collection.  The set comes ready to build, with the bits fitting together easily.  One Hexbug Nano is included so you can play straight away.  It's fun with one, but chaos as you add more Hexbugs!

I really like the habitat.  Letting Hexbugs loose on the laminate invariably ends up with a few escaping under the sofa or the fridge who then need to be retrieved (or they will continue to crawl around until the batteries run out!!)  Containing them inside a purpose built habitat maximizes the fun as you watch them flip, scurry and negotiate obstacles in their random fashion.  You can add to the starter set and expand the Hexbug Habitat.  You could have a whole Nano Nation at your command!



Find Me A Gift sells a huge range of gifts for all occasions for men, women and kids.  From funny gifts to personalised gifts to the traditional to the outright ridiculous!  Whoever you're shopping for, you will find something that fits!

Other reasons to shop at Find Me A Gift include:

  • 30 day money-back guarantee
  • Low-price guarantee
  • Loyalty points discount off future orders
  • Huge range of unique gifts
  • Excellent customer service
  • Next day delivery available



The Hexbug Spiral Starter Set costs £20.99 which includes one Hexbug Nano.  

Competition Time...Win A Gorgeous Pink Lining Bag!

I have reviewed our gorgeous new Pink Lining Toddler Overnight Bag and we absolutely adore it!  Well now, thanks to the lovely people at Pink Lining, I have one to give away to one of my readers.

Toodlepip
Pyjama Party

It's easy to enter...follow my blog and then just leave me a comment telling me whether you would like to win the Toodlepip  Bag or the Pyjama Party Bag.  Then fill out the rafflecopter entry form to say you did it!  There are bonus entries avaialble too...just see the Rafflecopter form and click "I Did This!" for each one you complete!


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Disney Universe on the PS3

Disney Universe is a fun packed 1-4 player action adventure video game, where Disney worlds and characters mix it up for the first time!  Mischief and Mayhem reigns, as players suit up in one of over 40 iconic character costumes.  Play as Jack Sparrow, Sulley, Nemo, Stitch, Tron or Mickey Mouse...or as my favourite Goofy!


You face challenges in six legendary Disney worlds based on the most popular Disney and Pixar movies including The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc and Wall-E.  You can team-up with friends to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and collect gold coins.  Or you can compete against each other if you are the more competitive type!

Available for PS3, XBox 360 and Wii for kids aged 7 and over, this is a great family game from Disney Interactive Studios.
Exciting Worlds

Gorgeous Artwork
We've been testing Disney Universe prior to its release on October 28th.   The children loved being able to change the characters outfits.  It reminded us a lot of Little Big Planet which is a favourite co-op game in our family.  The levels are big enough to be a challenge, but not too large that the kids get frustrated.  The problems that need solving are well pitched for the target audience and the fun of the combat has the children giggling (especially when they hit each other's characters!)  2 year old Freddy loved watching his sisters in action, the visuals are really stunning, featuring so much Disney fun!


.
This is a good game that will entertain all the family.  Perfect for Christmas for your Disney fans.  You can buy it from tomorrow from Amazion for £32.99 for the PS3.  (Other formats also available!)  

The Gallery...Faces

Faces
Tara's Gallery theme this week is "Faces".  

Faces tell a story.  Our facial features, made when flesh, bones and skin combine, make us recognisable as the unique individuals we are. Every emotion is reflected in our face.  Each time we laugh, smile or frown, it shows in the lines on our face, until eventually those moments become etched forever, preserving our memories, writing our story for everyone to see.  

My Nan, Joan, was born in 1910.  She grew into s beautiful young lady with her whole life ahead of her.  A life that was to span 98 years.  98 years of love, laughter, tears, sorrow, suffering, joy, experience, pain, adventure, friendship and family.  


Every moment of my Nan's amazing life was written onto her face over the years.  Her face would light up with the joy of her great-grandchildren.  Her face shone with the light of love.  Her face shared jokes and funny stories.  Her face showed every tear she had ever shed.  Her face told a million tales and  I remember each one as I recall her face.  Her beautiful face.



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My Toddler Is High Maintenance

Freddy is my fifth child.  I thought I'd seen it all as far as parenting is concerned.  I believed my attachment parenting ideology worked perfectly well and that fifth time round would be a breeze.  The girls became independent, confident toddlers with good routines very quickly.  Not so with Fred!!

At 27 months old, Freddy still sleeps in my bed waking a few times every night.  He is the lightest sleeper, constantly twitching and fidgeting.  He still breast feeds and looks at me incredulously if I suggest that he might like milk from a cup instead!

He hardly eats during the day and has little interest in food, unless he is having a growth spurt whereby he'll eat constantly all day.  His lack of good and consistent dining makes going to restaurants a nightmare.  The lure of dinner is not enough to convince him to sit still.  He just wants to run around all the time at breakneck speed.  So many times at hotels, Ian has taken him to run around outside while the girls and I eat dinner in peace. Yesterday I took the family to the Cafe at Morisson's for lunch and Freddy rolled around  on the floor and ran up and down the aisles.  You simply cannot contain him, he is a ball of energy that needs to be expelled or he will meltdown.  I bumped into an old friend who viewed my attempt at toddler taming with great hilarity and a few sympathetic "...and at your age too!" looks as I chased after my boy for the twentieth time.  How I'd love to adopt the European eating out mentality and enjoy a relaxed dining experience with my children!  Maybe in a few years it will happen.

My biggest issue with Freddy's way of doing things is his hatred of clothing.  He is a child with the same taste in clothing as Tarzan.  Bear chest, bear legs and shoeless wearing nothing but his nappy (Oh yes he will not potty train either.  Every effort I've made in this direction has been met with derision and the unused potty being thrown over the safety gate in disgust!)  Freddy literally screams when you dress him which is so stressful and upsetting.  Neither cajoling or a firm hand makes any difference...he likes being nude!  When he does go down the clothing route, he wants to wear one of his older sisters' item of clothing.  Many times, Kizzy has brought Freddy downstairs resplendent in one of her dresses.  Oh dear!  I'm all for gender neutral parenting, but my boy in a pink frock is not suitable attire for the school run.

For all his high maintenance behaviour, Freddy remains a constant source of utter delight to everyone who loves him.  He is bright, chatty, loving, funny and really quite adorable.  He is a unique character and a real individual.  I know from experience that he will grow out of all these quirks.  One day he will surprise me and sleep through the night!  He will self wean and potty train in his own time.  His energy levels will settle down to the point where he can sit through a meal without feeling the need to sprint around.

But until that point, I will continue to relish every moment of my high maintenance toddler.  I really wouldn't have it any other way, because to change even the slightest thing about him would be a crime.

Oxo Good Grips Grinders and Shakers

I've reviewed baby and toddler products from the Oxo Brand before (Oxo Tots for Bath Time, Snacking and Feeding) and have been impressed by their quality, innovation, stylish design and functionality.  So I was very excited to test out something from their kitchen range to see if I would be equally impressed.

I chose the Oxo Good Grips Salt and Pepper Grinders to try.  My husband is a big fan of ground pepper, but other mills we have had in the past have been messy, ineffective and inconsistent. I had high hopes that Oxo would give me a better experience!

With its brushed stainless steel accents and clear acrylic body, each Grinder looks very contemporary,  sleek and stylish. They are functional in the kitchen but still look elegant when brought to the table.  The soft, non-slip grip makes them very comfortable to use and secure to hold.  They feel good in your hand with their ergonomically designed shape.

Stylish
Practical
They are sold ready filled with peppercorns or rock salt which I thought was a nice touch, transforming them into a great gift idea.  The Grinders are adjustable by turning the top where there are settings from coarse to fine grind, depending on your requirements. A plentiful flow of finely ground or coarsely ground salt or pepper is produced according to the setting.  I prefer finer pepper, Ian likes his much coarser and so this suited us both equally!

The non-corrosive, ceramic grinder won't absorb flavours or odours, and is positioned on the top of the Grinder so it won't make a mess when put it down. No more salt and pepper spills on the table.  The Grinder sits flat on its base and you simply turn it to grind your salt and pepper onto food.  It is a simple idea, but makes much more sense!  It makes it really easy to refill too.  These are really faultlessly designed.  Easy to use, effective and they do exactly what you want them to do!

I think these would make a really nice gift...practical yet stylish.  They will season Christmas Dinner to perfection!! 

They are available from Amazon, Lakeland and other good stockists RRP £20.43 each. 

A Girl For All Time

Matilda Marchmont is a 13 year old girl who lives in the court of Henry VIII in the Tudor times.  She is the fictional inspiration behind A Girl For All Time, a beautifully crafted historical doll.  Created as an alternative to the dolls available on the market, they offer young girls aged 8-11, a doll which allows them to feel grown-up without pushing them too quickly into the world of adulthood.


Matilda is 16" high and looks like a porcelain doll, although she is actually made from high quality vinyl so she can be played with.  Her extra long hair can be brushed and styled.  

She comes authentically dressed in a hand sewn Tudor court dress of luxurious grey velvet with a plum kirtle, Tudor underwear and petticoat and a pearl trimmed headdress.  Matilda also wears the key to the secret trunk in which she stores her treasures, adding to her back story!  Other outfits are available to purchase separately including a Velvet Cloak, a Masked Ball Gown and a Night Shift.

 With a price tag of £89.99, she's more of an investment than a doll to be played with by a little one.  But as a collectible, set to become a family heirloom, Matilda is a unique and original historical doll.

Much more affordable are the accompanying books.  We were sent the novel Matilda's Secret which tells the story of  Matilda as she is drawn into the world of intrigue and mortal danger in the court of Henry VIII.


The novel encourages an interest in history and introduces young girls to an exciting era in England's past.  Written as a diary, it explores Tudor Times from the point of view of young Matilda.  The 180 page novel includes beautiful illustrations.  RRP £6.99.

There is also a Keepsake and Secrets Book which brings the past to life with a series of activities and  things to do.  Tudor themed fun allows you to explore the past. RRP £14.99.


To buy any of the products or to find out more visit the website www.agirlforalltime.com.




Introducing Mu Cheese!


Mu Cheese is a brand new cheese that has launched in Tesco stores nationwide.  Whether you are a fan of Mu-ssaka, Mu-caroni Cheese. Mu-gherita Pizza or a Plough-Mu's Lunch, this new fun and tasty cheese will leave you asking for more! 


Available in blocks or as handy sliced or grated packs, Mu cheese is sourced from the UK and Ireland and is made from the milk of well fed cows. The Mu Cheese is available as Mild, Medium and Mature Cheddar or Mild, Medium and Mature Lighter Cheese which have 30% less fat!

All varieties are perfect for cheese loving families, are convenient and good value for money.  

We were sent some Mature Mu to sample.  I was impressed with the delicious, rich flavour and texture.  The low fat version was very good and it didn't feel any less indulgent.  My children favour the stronger flavour of Cheddar and Mu did not disappoint!  We all enjoyed eating Mu as a jacket spud filling, grated on Fajitas and melted in a toastie. It was good all ways!

The eye catching packaging design is fabulous and fun!  You will definitely spot Mu down the cheese aisle at Tesco, so why not give it a try!  

The Mu range is priced from £2.49.

It's Rastamouse!


Rastamouse is a skateboarding, reggae playing, super cool mouse with a laid back vibe.  He's the leader of the all mouse Easy Crew and he is "Irie Man!"  With his friends Zoomer and Scratchy they are the funkiest kids TV secret agent, crime fighting characters, who solve mysteries and have adventures in Mouseland.  

The characters have been brought to life by Character with 9" plush toys complete with music and sounds from the show.  Rastamouse wears his Rasta Tam and sports his dreadlocks and speaks phrases with Jamaican Patois or sings the Easy Crew song when his tummy is pressed.  

We were sent a Rastamouse Toy and DVD from UKMums.tv so we could try him ourselves.  




The first thing Freddy wanted to do was get his skateboard out from under his arm.  It comes stitched to his body, but a quick snip with scissors and Rastamouse was skateboarding!  Pressing his tummy makes him say one of his phrases such as "Irie Man!" or "Wagwam!" which did make the kids giggle!  Freddy loved making him ride on the skateboard and was most intrigued by his long tail.


The DVD "Da Crucial Plan & Other Adventures" includes six episodes:

  • Da Crucial Plan
  • Bakin' An Breakin'
  • Mice Camera Action
  • Da Rhymin' Teef
  • Pie Without Cheese
  • Toots Re-Routes
Freddy and Kizzy settled down to watch Rastamouse accompanied by their new toy.  From the Rasta-Style opening credits with the motto "make a bad ting good" they were hooked!  When the 'Prez' Wensley Dale calls them in to solve crimes, the Easy Crew spring into action (albeit in a laid back way!)  The stop-frame animation has a retro feel rather than being high tech which adds to the charm.  The stories show how people can get on and solve problems through understanding, love and respect.  It teaches right from wrong and helps wrong doers redeem themselves for their mistakes rather than resorting to punishment.  There is an ethos of forgiveness which is quite heart warming.


I love the cultural references and the fact that us adults can enjoy Rastamouse alongside our children.  The storytelling, humour and the energy are infectious.  The music, colour, language, rhythm and rhyme are engaging.  


Some criticism was levelled against Rastamouse for being racist, and stereotyping the Afro-Caribbean way of life, but this debate is no different to the kerfuffle that exploded when Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies first said "Eh-Oh".  You only need to look at how successful and much loved that show has proved itself to be over the years. Personally I think it is a really positive thing to represent different cultures in our multi-cultural society.  The characters are good role models, doing right and promoting good!   It has gained a cult status with some because of the cultural inferences to the Rasta way of life, but this is a fun CBeebies show with pre-school entertainment at its heart!

Rastamouse (and the other 9" plush characters) are available to buy for £12.99 from Character-Online.
"Da Crucial Plan" is available on DVD for £8.49 at Amazon.
They would make a great gift for any Rastamouse fans!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Pink Lining for Toddlers

Pink Lining was established in 2001 and has become a brand synonymous with the 'yummy mummy' lifestyle, adding their stylish and inspiring designs to practical and functional changing bags.  Distinctive fabrics and the trade mark shocking pink lining, make the brand immediately identifiable.

But the brand goes beyond changing bags.  Just check out this gorgeous Overnight Bag for trendy toddlers!
The Red Buses fabric is contrasted with the navy trim and strong double handles.  The zip-up pocket on the front features a delightful dinosaur appliquĂ© patch and a "Toodlepip" slogan.  It is a perfect pocket for keeping little bits and bobs safe.


A separate zip up bag in the same gorgeous design is included inside with its own carry handle.


The water resistant lining is a natural colour with the Pink Lining label sewn in with pink thread!  The inside zippered compartment is another useful feature.  Studs on the bottom protect the fabric when the  bag is put on the floor.

This gorgeous bag is perfect for overnight stays away with your toddler.  It is funky, spacious and practical....Pink Lining put the 'fun' into functionality!!

A girls' Pyjama Party design is also available.  Both are available to buy online at www.pinklining.co.uk for just £30.  They would make a great present for a toddler who travels!  Freddy's is perfect for overnight hotel stays keeping his essentials well packed, accessible and safe.  We love it!!

I'll be giving away one of these gorgeous Overnight Bags very soon thanks to the lovely people at Pink Lining...so keep your eyes open!

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