31 January 2013

MAM Snack Box


One thing I get sick of is picking snacks up from the floor after Charlie has tipped his bowl up. It's a serious pet hate of mine. I mean with all these baby companies around surely one of them could invent something to stop a child from reaching into the bowl and throwing all their food onto the floor. Well now MAM have.

The MAM Snack Box is really exactly what the name suggests. A bowl to put snacks in but it has the added extra advantage of having 2 lids. The main 'big' lid which you use to fill up with snacks or when cleaning it and the 'small' lid which only has enough room for a baby to fit in their small hand in, which in turn, prevents spills. The small lid can also be attached to the base of the bowl to create a little handle for toddlers who are on the go.


I thought we would drop it in at the deep end for our first use and take it out with us on a day out. I like to keep snacks with us like orange segments or raisins but usually I would put them in a tub and when I opened it they would fly out all over the floor. Using the Snack Box was a lot easier, it has a small opening on the top which stops food from falling out and both Thomas and Charlie could fit their hands in easily to get something out.

I found the Snack Box super easy to use and even simpler to clean, no fiddly little bits and as with all MAM products, they are BPA free.

You can purchase the MAM Snack Box from their online shop for £5.99

24 January 2013

HelloCanvas Review and Giveaway


When HelloCanvas.co.uk challenged me to test the quality of their canvas's I was up and ready for the challenge. I searched my photos and after some deliberation went for one that had loads of bright colours. It was an image of Thomas and Charlie pulling faces at the camera. As they are the main point, quite focused in on them, and with the canvas being a large size (20 x 28 inch) I wanted to see whether the canvas would show the definition in the boys faces as good as the photo is on screen.

I emailed the photo across to them on Friday and no less than an hour later did I get a confirmation of the canvas being shipped and 3 days later, on Monday, it arrived. Not bad at all considering it came from the Netherlands and on a weekend too. With sheer anticipation I opened the packaging and was so shocked at the results. 


The colours, the definition, the quality, just perfect!

I love how the colours on the boys clothing stands out so much, they are so bright and how the expressions on Thomas and Charlie's faces are so distinctive. I'm astounded at the quality and clarity of the canvas.

With the photo being blown up so much, I wasn't expecting it to come out so impressive. We don't have an all singing, all dancing DSLR, just a standard digital, a Panasonic Lumix 16mp camera which is good enough for what I use them for but for a big canvas and using a photo which has quite a lot of detail too, I really wasn't expecting it to be this good.

To purchase a canvas at this size (20 x 28 inch) will set you back £39 but I would say that is a reasonable price for the quality and level of service you get.


Don't believe me? Then judge for yourself. HelloCanvas are offering my lovely followers the chance to win a free 20x28 inch canvas. All you need to do is enter our competition below.

As normal once you have completed the mandatory entries, a round of optional extras will open, you do not have to complete any of these, they are just if you would like some extra chances.

Note: When commenting please leave your real name, if your Google one is different, as if I cannot find your comment I will not be able to accept your entries.

19 January 2013

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!


Guess what all? It's snowing. Yey! 

I think every child loves this time of year when it snows and they get to actually go out and play. It's weird really as usually in the cold whether I would have both boys inside wrapped up but the slightest bit of snow and everyone's out playing. 

Thomas is loving the snow whereas Charlie was a bit apprehensive since it's his first time being out in it. Last year he was only 3 month old so hasn't really seen the snow properly until now. 


Eventually, they were both out in the street playing. Thomas was making tracks whilst Charlie was just trying to work out what it was. We couldn't stay out too long as Charlie kept taking his mittens off so his hands were freezing but still we were out for a good half hour. 

As you can imagine, it wasn't long till we were having a snowball fight. Thomas has a great aim and kept getting me but me being mummy meant I kept purposely accidently missing him.


I hope this snow will stay around for a little while longer so the boys get to have a little more fun outdoors but I'm dreading the ice on the Monday morning walk to school.

Recipe: Simple Vanilla Biscuits

We love baking. Not only for the goodies at the end but because it's a great way to spend time together, just me and Thomas.

Since we made some super yummy biscuits, today I'm going to show you how me made them.

16 January 2013

Cloggs - Wedge Quilted Boots


If you love footwear that has stylish designer connotations yet are affordable then look no further than Cloggs. They have recently brought out their Signature Range. This is a range of shoes and boots that are right on trend, which all the celebs are loving too.

I'm sure a lover of footwear, especially boots. I always buy wedge boots as I find them comfortable and practical but still stylish. The Wedge Quilted boots from Cloggs are no exception here too.

These boots are bang on trend the with quilted material. This is extremely popular this season. The details on these boots make them stand out form the rest. Having a comfortable wedge heel, a triple buckle feature, a side zip fastening and a faux fur cuff, to keep you warm especially at this time of year with all the snow we are currently getting.


The boots I was sent look great. The wedge is the perfect size, not too small but not too high either, just right and easy to walk in. They have a very solid tread on the sole making them anti-slip. A must for this snowy weather at the moment and for me too as I'm so clumsy.

Made from thick quilted material and having a faux fur cuff makes them very warm and comfortable indeed. The fact that they also have a small zip on the side too meaning you can get them on with ease is also a great feature. It also means that when I wear them with my skinny jeans I can easily sort the bottom of the jeans out through the zip opening to make sure I feel comfortable.

I would definitely buy from Cloggs again. Not only was delivery super speedy but also they have great customer service too, helping every step of the way.

At only £39.99 the boots are well worth their money and you can purchase them here.

You can follow Cloggs on Facebook and on Twitter.

15 January 2013

Colgate ProClinical A1500 Electric Toothbrush


I've always had problems with my teeth. When I was younger I suffered with calcium deficiency meaning that my baby teeth went bad. Nowadays I'm very self conscious about them, even when I smile I try to keep my mouth shut. Regularly cleaning my teeth, especially after greasy foods to the point where I would make them bleed. 

When I heard of Colgate's new electric toothbrush, the Proclinical A1500, I immediately wanted to try it. Apparently it automatically adjusts itself for different parts of your mouth. Was this really true? Could a toothbrush know what it was actually brushing and when to change? Was it really worth it's £169.99 price tag? Well I put it to the test.

Opening the box, you get all the usual things, the toothbrush, charger, one brush head and you also get a case to put it in, after all it is expensive so you would want to protect it.

Colgate say "Thanks to its unique smart sensors, the brush automatically adjusts to engage different speeds and cleaning actions based on the position it is held in your mouth.  The result is a superior clean for teeth and gums."


It has three speeds:
1. Mid speed massaging strokes for the gumline
2. Slower side to side strokes for the teeth surface
3. Fast up and down strokes for molars

The toothbrush features a sonic wave cleaning action that delivers up to 32,500 strokes per minute, effectively reducing five times more plaque along the gumline. It also has an auto or manual selection mode and an LED display which is clear and easy to read. 

A handy 2 minute timer lets you know when you've cleaned your teeth for the recommended amount of time but it also has a 30 second pacer. This goes in quarters and lets you know when it's time to move onto another part of your mouth. It cleans deep in between teeth and polishes teeth surfaces but most importantly it improves gum health.



Having used this toothbrush for a while now I can clearly see the difference between this and a manual toothbrush but not only that, my gum no longer bleed because I'm brushing them too much because the toothbrush lets me know once I've brushed enough. Not only that but the 'Deep Clean' option gives a very thorough clean and makes my mouth gleam.

The fact that I can select which mode I want if I'm concentrating on a certain part of my mouth is great too. We had fish and chips the other day and usually I'd be scrubbing at my teeth for ages to get the greasy feeling to go but this toothbrush did it with no problem at all.

I can honestly say that it has made a difference with my teeth cleaning routine and my gums are probably the healthiest they've ever been. I still think the £169.99 price tag is expensive for a toothbrush but for me personally, I would pay it because it gives me peace of mind that I don't need to clean my teeth every few hours and really does clean as good as Colgate says it does.

Dinosaur Train InterAction Figures



Thomas love the Dinosaur Train cartoon. Whenever it's on all I hear is him singing along with them, he loves the Dinosaurs A-Z song. Thomas is in fact obsessed with dinosaurs regularly asking me which one is which. I'm never too sure, with there being so many, as the Dinosaurs A-Z song show, so usually have to end up looking online to find out which can take ages.

When TOMY contacted me to ask if we would like to review their brand new Dinosaur Train InterAction Figures I couldn't reply quick enough with a big fat yes! Within 24 hours they were at our house and getting tried out by Thomas and me.


We received 6 characters, Buddy, Morris, Boris, Tiny, Tank and Ned. Each character has a range of sentences they say but the best bit is that they actually talk to each other. When you press the button on the top of one of them, that character will say something, another of the characters will then reply as if they are having a proper conversation. They will laugh together, roar together and if you leave them for a few minutes without playing with them, they will even snore.

The figures not only talk and interact but have moving parts too which make sounds. Some have moving mouths/jaws which make 'eating' sounds. Tiny has moving wings which make flapping sounds and Morris has a moving tail which makes whipping sounds. Boris, the biggest of them all, has an added extra feature. If you push his tail down towards the floor, his head raises up, his mouth opens and he lets out a massive 'ROAR!'



The thing I love most about these figures is that they teach children about dinosaurs through play. Explaining what each one is called, their weights, wing span, sizes and even their eating habits. Children Thomas's age obviously don't know the difference between herbivores, carnivores or piscivores so the toys make funny references to these such as, 'I'm a fishavore... I mean a piscivore' This is a great way to teach small children the differences between species and what type of food they eat. 

Each dinosaur has a wide range of different things to say, some of them being shown in the demonstration video below. Give it a quick view to see them in action. As you will notice in the video, they chat a lot to each other have roaring contests as well as explaining things about themselves.




I think brightly coloured toys always stand out to children and these are no exception. The bright oranges, vivid blues and colourful greens make them so pleasing on the eye. The quality of the dinosaurs is of a very high standard. Usually Thomas grabs dinosaurs by the tail and eventually the plastic wears down and cracks or snaps but the tail on the biggest of the dinosaurs Boris, for example, has been fitted with a rubber end meaning no matter how much Thomas waggles it around, it won't be snapping off. You can see that every effort has been made to ensuring a long safe toy life. Not only quality in the making of the dinosaurs but also in the details on them. They have been made so realistic and like you'd imagine a dinosaur to be. 

From what I have seen so far, the dinosaur toys seem totally safe for younger children to play with. No small parts, no pieces looking flimsy and the battery compartment is screwed shut so cannot be opened by a child.

If you have never heard the Dinosaurs A-Z song then here's your chance. The video just below is full length version of the song. It names a dinosaur for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet and has a catchy chorus throughout. Be warned though, this will get stuck in your head and you will end up singing it whilst out shopping in the supermarket like I do.



The Dinosaur Train InterAction figures will be available from all good retailers from February 2013 with more characters and playsets due out later this year.
The RRP are as follows:

  • Tiny £14.99 
  • Buddy £14.99 
  • Tank £19.99
  • Morris £19.99
  • Ned £19.99
  • Boris £29.99



You've Never Had Lasagne!!!


We were walking around the supermarket last week. Getting all our weekly groceries when we stopped upon the fresh ready meals. I was quite in the mood for a curry for tea but really wasn't in the cooking mood so was thinking of just buying one. Well Simon doesn't like curry so he was looking for something else. 
Hotpot, shepherds pie and then lasagne. 'I've never had lasagne before' I heard from my husband. What?! You've never had lasagne before?! How? Why?

Simon explained that because his mum didn't like pasta, they never had it and so he's never tried lasagne. He didn't even know what was in it. I was gob smacked and so took it upon myself to get all the ingredients and make my own to show him how nice they can be. 

Now before you start thinking that this is gunna be a work of art recipe, all home made, it's not. No I didn't make the red or white sauces and no I didn't mince the beef myself but I added the flavours, the oomph and the love. 


Note: We were in Asda at the time which is why it's all their products
As you can see in the picture, these are all the ingredients I used. Making home made food doesn't have to mean cooking from scratch, it can be adding your own spices, your own flavourings and doing your own take on dishes. 

A lasagne may look hard to make but it's actually quite simple. Just follow these simple steps and your done.

1. Fry the mince on a medium heat until browned and then drain off excess grease.  
2. Pour the red sauce into a bowl and add the cooked mince. At this point you can add any extras you want to. We went for finely chopped onions, mushrooms and peppers (orange peppers - read my tip at the bottom of this post) and mix together.  
3. The pasta sheets need boiling to soften. We went for fresh pasta sheets so they only needed a few minutes. Dried pasta will need longer.  
4. Now this is where we layer it up. Start by putting a big spoonful of the mince mixture into an oven dish and spread it out.  You then add a pasta sheet over the top of the mince and then a small layer of white sauce.  Keep layering it up in this order until the oven dish is nearly full and the white sauce is at the top.  
5. Finish with a sprinkle of grated cheese and place in the oven on about 180c for about 40 minutes, until the top has gone golden brown.  
6. Serve with seasonal veg or any you happen to get you hands on. This time we went for peas, carrots, sweetcorn and new potatoes.  

That's it! Lasagne made simple.  

I must admit that for my first ever attempt at lasagne, it was pretty darn good. Even the ever fussy Simon, my husband, enjoyed it and it will definitely be on our dinner table again.



Tip
Orange peppers are always supplied in the pack of three traffic light peppers pack but most of the time these are thrown away due to people not liking their taste. Did you know that orange peppers contain only 30 calories and 0 fat. They also contain 190% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, 2g of fibre in each one and are full of antioxidants. They are in fact the best peppers you can get. Dishes like this are a great way to slip in orange peppers as the taste is not so prominent when mixed with everything else.

11 January 2013

YBike Extreme and Pewi


YBike have a set of balance bikes made especially for young children. All YBike products have been engineered with safety in mind and designed to help develop balance, co-ordination and self confidence in young kids.

Studies conducted at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa showed if kids ride on a YBike over a 2 week period they showed up to 700% improvement in some cases in various tests of their balance and co-ordination skills.

I first found YBike accidentally when I was browsing the Internet looking for a balance bike for Thomas. I noticed their designs were different to ordinary balance bikes and they had more funky colours and different sizes depending on the age of the child. I realised they had a Facebook page and so gave them a 'like'. I entered a competition on their page to win a YBike Pewi, never thinking I was gunna win but to my amazement, I did. From there I got conversing to the YBike Facebook page a lot. They share a lot of creative tips when it comes to playing and interacting with children so it's a great page to be on. 

The lovely people at YBike not only sent us the Pewi which I won but also agreed to let us review the Extreme. We got the Pewi in blue and the Extreme in orange.


The YBike Extreme is made for children 3 years plus and can take a weight of up to 25kg. When we first took it out of the box, I was amazed at how simple it is to put together. 6 screws and that's it. I did get a little flustered when it came to reading the instructions which actually did not happen as they were in a foreign language but to be honest, the pictures in the booklet showed everything which needed doing to put it together anyways. 

Thomas was so excited to have a go and straight away we went outside and he had a go. At first, as you'd imagine, he was a bit weary of trying to balance and so just sat on it and walked with it but after a few minutes he was off. Not quite both feet off the floor but still kinda scooting around and having a blast.



I actually do see how the YBike cane help with balance and motor skills as it made Thomas steady himself and try to centre the YBike before he was ready to go which is great as usually he would be on a bike which has stabilisers so they would be doing all the balancing for him. 


The YBike Pewi is recommended for children aged between 12 to 36 months, has a maximum weight load of 20kg and is classed as the baby bike. This bike and walking-buddy teaches important motor skills such as balance, co-ordination and body in space awareness. The specially designed swivel castor wheels ensure a quiet smooth ride that is suitable for indoor and outdoor play and the non marking rubber wheels will not damage or mark floors. 


The YBike Pewi can be used two ways. As a walking buddy when your child is just learning to walk, it will help stabilise them and give them something to grip onto as they are taking their first steps and then as an actual glider when they can control themselves more and learn to push themselves around on it.



Using both the Ybike Extreme and Pewi I have certainly noticed a difference in the boys. Charlie seems to be able to use the Pewi and glide around the room, even taking his feet off the floor letting the bike do the work in turn giving him more confidence. With Thomas, the Extreme has given him more balance. He is aware of his surroundings and the fact that the Extreme needs to be straight up and balanced before he can go. 

The Ybike range is vastly growing though, at the moment they have 4 products available in the UK. The Original YBike suitable for 2-4 years, the Extreme suitable for 3 years+, the Pewi suitable for 12-36 months and Glider, this is a scooter and is suitable for 2.5-8 years. Coming soon though they have the Kicker, the Trike and the Explorer, all of which I can imagine being as popular as the others. 

The Ybike range can be purchased from their website here. The Extreme retails at £59.99 and the Pewi retails at £34.99.

9 January 2013

Colgate Children's Oral Care


For as long as I can remember I've always instilled into my boys how important it is to brush their teeth. I think all parents should do this, even when your children are babies, use a soft brush and gently rub your babies gums to get them used to it. 

I love the look of amazement n Charlie's face when he watches me brushing my teeth and then trying to copy afterwards by brushing his own. Ok, he's only 16 month old so can do them properly himself but its great to see that he is trying and is learning how to do them. It's the same with Thomas although he's been more of an excuses type. Always trying to think of ways to get out of it. Thomas has always found brushing his teeth a bit of a chore and so sometimes we have arguments and bribes just to get him to brush his teeth. 

This all changed though when Colgate sent us out a selection of their products suitable for children. Straight away Thomas was intrigued by the Design It battery powered toothbrush. I showed him how to switch it on (a simple click on/off button). At first he was very apprehensive, he didn't want to put it in his mouth so started by brushing his teeth with it switched off. After a bit he turned it on a found that it was in fact quite fun. Thomas actually liked using the toothbrush and over the next few days I noticed him actually wanting to go brush his teeth just so he could use his new toothbrush. 



The Design It toothbrush comes with a whole range of stickers so you can personalise it yourself. This is also great for young children as it means that they get to choose how it looks and have some control which in turns means they are more likely to use it. The only one thing about it is that most of the stickers are very dark or dull. Not really a big issue but when the toothbrush is already dark blue they do become a bit lost. I think it would benefit from some bold brightly coloured stickers which will stand out more but that is me just being picky. 


For Charlie we were sent a children's toothbrush called Smiles, ideal for small mouths. He was actually petrified of the electric toothbrush and won't go near it. His toothbrush has a small handle and a small head, the perfect size for him. The toothbrush has multi-height bristles which thoroughly clean teeth of all sizes. We were also sent a tube of children's toothpaste suitable for 0-3 years. Both boys like the flavour of the toothpaste. Most normal ones have a very strong, minty taste so having a children's one means it's mild yet still has all the cleaning ability. Colgate have created this range especially to look after children's precious  teeth. 


One thing that does play on my mind is, how do I know if their teeth are fully clean? Well Colgate now have a solution for this. They have brought out a pre-wash called Plax Magic. A blue mouth wash which children use before brushing their teeth. It tints the teeth and plax a bright blue colour which helps children to learn where they need to brush. You can then check you child's teeth to make sure that they have got everywhere. Any tooth not cleaned properly will still be blue so you can then make sure they learn to clean each tooth. 

I think Colgate children's products are great for promoting healthy teeth and they have though of ways to make brushing teeth fun with the stickers on your toothbrush and blue mouthwash. The biggest change I've noticed is the fact that Thomas actually likes brushing his teeth, which means Colgate are doing their job perfectly!

You can purchase all these Colgate products in most leading supermarkets.


Colgate can be followed/liked on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Munchkin Click Lock Cups


We are always on the lookout for new cups for the boys. It's hard sometimes as with Thomas been older he likes to use big boy cups but usually Charlie will end up tipping all the juice out so we are always looking for cups suitable for older children too. Plus the fact that some cups come with valves and fiddly bits that I get confused with and some bits even breaking after being washed as they are not very durable. 


The Munchkin Click Lock range has a few different varieties. From a small sized cups with a soft spout and handles to a big insulated cup with a straw. The Click Lock part I found quite interesting. It has, as you'd imagine from the name, a Click Lock opening and closing mechanism giving the bottle an 100% guaranteed spill proof seal.

We went for two, the 10oz Click Lock spill proof cup and the 9oz Click Lock Insulated flip straw cup. Both are bright and boldly coloured, the latter with a cute  design on it too. 

The first was the 10oz Click Lock spill proof cup for Charlie. He has never got on with bottles that have handles, he hates them so this one is great for him. Instead of handles, it goes in at the middle making it easy for him to grip. The soft spout is perfect for transition from bottle to cup, it's non spill and it holds 10oz of juice so is perfect for outings as it's a good size. 


The second we chose was the 9oz Click Lock Insulated flip straw cup for Thomas. This seemed like a perfect option. It has a straw instead of a spout so is suitable for older children. The straw can be tucked in and closed so as to make it non spill. This is great as it means I can put the bottle in my bag and not worry about leakages. 

I found both bottles simple to use, take apart and loved the Click Lock too and the boys enjoy using them too.

You can purchase Munchkin cups and bottles from Tesco, Asda, Argos, Boots, Morrisons, Mothercare, Kiddicare and many more places too.

Munchkin can be followed on Facebook and on Twitter.

If you want to check out our other Munchkin reviews then click here for the bath toy range and here for the feeding range.

7 January 2013

The Realities of Parenting


When you first find out your pregnant all sorts run through your head. Boy or girl, names, products but also what your baby will be like and we all know... He/she will be perfect of course!

Everyone says how hard parenting is but that's them, I will be great and my child will be perfect. Here are the 4 stages of perfectness. 

Stage 1
9 month pregnant, you feel a ping and a little twinge, pop to the hospital, your in labour, a few pushes and oooh out pops your baby. I don't have a clue why people say labour is so hard. Me and my perfect baby!


Stage 2
Sleeping through the night. So easy! My baby sleeps from 8pm straight through, no bottle feeds or anything. Doesn't wake till 9am and I wake feeling as fresh as a daisy. Me and my perfect baby!


Stage 3
Weaning your baby. No fuss at all. My baby eats anything and everything for their plate, makes no mess. I bet they'll be using cutlery by 12 month old. Me and my perfect baby.

Stage 4
Tantrums, what tantrums. My child won't paddy, they'll sit perfectly, neat and tidy, no screaming or shouting, no throwing and biting, just a great child doing as they are told. Awwww my perfect child.


None of that is true. None of it at all! If for a minute any of the above does happen, assume your child is plotting and get ready for war!
Reality usually goes something like this:

Stage 1
40 weeks pregnant, no sign of baby
41 weeks pregnant, have a sweep, still no sign of baby
42 weeks pregnant, you start getting twinges at 1am, try to brush them off as you need sleep. By 4am you are screaming and wailing as though your in an exorcism. Your waters burst all over your carpet, you get to hospital and find your 5cm dilated and then for hours nothing happens apart from you screaming in pain. Gas and air, a drop in BP, an epidural and 5 hours later and still no sign of baby. Eventually your baby decides to move but gets stuck coming out. After pushing and pushing (and nearly kicking the midwife across the room) you have to be cut down below... Eeek! Your baby is born and you have to be stitched up. Your baby poops this black stuff that is like tar and is impossible to clean and you can't pee for a week as the stitches sting so much. Never again we say, till the next time your broody.

Stage 2
Go to sleep, after an hour your baby wakes for a bottle, you warm the bottle, feed your baby, change their nappy if it needs doing, clean their sick, changes your pyjamas after they've threw up on you, get mad a you pyjama top as you can't find which way it goes because your bedroom is pitch black, get you baby back to sleep, finally start drifting off, panic as the movement monitors alarm goes off, realise its just cos your baby has rolled off the sensor pad, don't sleep for the rest of the night as your worried the alarm will go off again. Wake at 7am as that's when your baby decides that its giggle time and you look like death.

Stage 3
Rule 1 - do not get cream carpets
Rule 2 - do not wear nice clothing
Rule 3 - prepare for a food fight
Babies make a mess, not just a bit of dinner but they will throw the whole dish on the floor, on themselves or on you! Baby food is usually orange and stains so I would say to stay with the retro 60's style furniture and it should blend in well. Treats are a must as a bribe 'eat your dinner and you can have a sweet' also works with tantrums too (see below).

Stage 4
the terrible two's is totally wrong. Kids don't just stick with one year. From the moment they can walk and talk that's it! Get me this, get me that, now, Now, NOW! And that's just in the supermarket, in front of everyone, especially to embarrass you. Screaming, crocodile tears, slamming doors, get ready for it as there is no stopping a strop when its in full swing.



These are just the stages we have passed or are going through and I'm sure there's loads more to come.

No child is ever perfect all of the time and even after everything they do I still wouldn't have them any other way.

Let's Get Social Sunday