Friday, 28 February 2014

The Baby & Toddler Show at Bluewater in Kent ~ Ticket Giveaway

The Baby and Toddler Show returns to Glow, Bluewater in Kent on 25-27 April 2014. Easily accessible from London, Essex, Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

With over 150 top brands, the Baby & Toddler Show is ideal for those with young families and those who are about to become parents for the first time. It's an opportunity to have a proper look at all of the larger equipment you might otherwise not be able to try out, and make a better informed decision about where to spend your money.

Prices on buggies and pushchairs, car seats and furniture are guaranteed to be the best, so you can be confident you won't be disappointed when you get home, and all the big names will be on display including  Quinny, Silver Cross, Cosatto, Bugaboo and Mamas&Papas.

As well as browsing and buying, there will be experts at the show giving advice on every aspect of those vital first years, with various workshops including Sleeping, Feeding and First Aid.

For a taster of the Baby & Toddler Show, take a look at this video...


Tickets can be booked via the Baby & Toddler Show website. They have kindly also given me a discount code that you can use for 33% off the South East Bluewater in Kent show when you buy tickets online - BWB31

The Baby & Toddler Show have also given me a pair of tickets for the 
Glow, Bluewater show to give away to one of my readers.

Entry is by rafflecopter form below. The first question is mandatory and will open up extra tasks by which you can gain additional entries. Entry will close at midnight on 30th March. For 25% off the Manchester Show tickets use NWB31


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Winter Little Adventure with Barny Snacks

With two parents who can't walk more than a few hundred yards we knew our Barny Winter Little Adventure Challenge might have to take place close to home, so I wanted to make it exciting and different. I waited for snow, but it never came, so plan B was to go out and explore our everyday in a different way - at night!

Two excited boys put on their warm coats and got their torches 
and went on a treasure hunt in the dark.


As we set off down the path the torches spotted something we see every day, 
but never notice. 
Dried plant stems from last year all lying down neatly in rows.


Our boring fence was very different in the dark and the boys spent a while 
making different shadows on the building next door.


On the grass we found a branch which had blown down in the wind.


An inspection hatch. The boys have never paid it any attention before and wondered 
what could be down there? I think it might not be as exciting as they imagine! 


Then we found Holly branches.


Lots of Holly - and lots of Magnolias and other plants.


And the branches from a willow tree which caught in our hair 
and gave the boys a scare! 


And then, something shiny in the distance.
 Treasure!


The treasure was swiftly investigated by my 3 year old 
while his big brother shone the torch!

 

Wahey! Treasure collected, time to go back indoors and reap the reward!


The Barny snacks were an excellent snack for adventurers and have a hidden fruit filling which the boys agreed was extra tasty. We even let the teenagers have one each too because we're kind. The rest will be perfect for packed lunches.


Barny are available from supermarkets nationwide in multipacks of 5 individually wrapped bears with 4 different varieties - Milk and Chocolate, and new Apple and Strawberry, all.with an RRP of £1.69.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Winter Little Adventures Challenge’ sponsored by Barny, individually wrapped bear-shaped sponges with a hidden filling. Find out more about Barny here

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

We were sent our 2 packets of Barny for our review adventure.

Hotel Chocolat gifts for Mother's Day ~ Giveaway

Hotel Chocolat recently contacted me and asked if I'd like to give away something from their Mother's Day range of gifts to a deserving blogger. I could think of no-one more deserving than Anna from In The Playroom.

Anna has 3 children under 6, one of whom has Autism and global developmental delay, yet she still manages to blog and give advice and help to anyone who needs it. I have no idea where she finds the time - although I'm well aware she doesn't get much sleep! She never complains or moans and has so much patience for everyone, she's a star. Her boys are absolutely adorable with the cheekiest grins, but a little small yet to buy her anything for Mother's Day, so she gets my gift.

It was a hard choice to pick from all of the gifts available...


The Cocoa Juvenate Beauty Gifts look amazing and I can imagine the smell is divine.....


The Chocolate Hazlenut Spread would be a perfect thing to put on pancakes next Tuesday
 to really treat yourself....
 

The 'For My Mum' Pocket Selection of chocolates is a great gift. 
I'm hoping at least one of my children sees this (hint, hint)...


In the end I chose the H Box 'For My Mum' selection because it just looks so pretty and with chocolates including Salted Caramel Cheesecake and Strawberry & Rose Truffle, what's not to like?
I know Anna's boys go to bed at a decent hour, and her husband often works into the evening, so she can sit and enjoy these in peace and quiet.

Hotel Chocolat offered me the chance to have a H Box 'For My Mum' selection for myself, but I've had lots of nice things (mainly Lego) recently, so I've decided to give them away to one of my readers.

Entry is by rafflecopter below. The competition will end at midnight on Friday March 21st in order that the chocolates can be delivered by Hotel Chocolat in time for Mother's Day. The first question is mandatory and answering that as a comment on this post will open up additional tasks for extra entries into the competition.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mothers out there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

LEGO Mixels - Proper Pocket Money Toys

I proudly announced my affiliation with LEGO earlier today, and my first job is to show you a brand new range of pocket money priced toys which will be released this Saturday 1st March - LEGO Mixels.

Familiar from the LEGO Mixels TV series on Cartoon Network, series 1 has 9 unique characters which are part of the 3 different tribes: Infernites, Cragsters and Electroids. All of the characters are in named bags with up to 70 pieces of LEGO in each, including some new and (as yet) unique elements. Aimed at the 6+ market mainly because of the delicate finger skills and strength required to put them together, they retail at only £3 each.


41507 ZAPTOR is the 'super-charged adrenaline junkie' of the Electroids.
A living lightening rod!

 


I couldn't wait for my 5 1/2 year old to come home, so I opened this one with my nearly 4 year old. 


He's very good at LEGO, having had a lot of practice already and was 'almost' able to complete the build himself.

Lego Mixels 41507 Zaptor character

Lego Mixels 41500 Flain bag

 

41500 FLAIN is the adventurous leader of the Infernites.
"The Smart One"

 


My no.3 boy had no issues with this build, although it did stretch him. The characters use some quite fiddly building techniques in order to fit so much into such a small model.

Mixels Lego 41500 Flain figure

Lego Mixels Pack 41504 Seismo

 

SEISMO 41504 is the quiet, shy Cragster who can cause an earthquake with a stamp of his feet. 

 



I think this was the easiest build of the 3, and my son's favourite. He was really impressed with the way you build the characters torso and head, and then make the feet and attach them. This use of ball joints gives a really poseable figure.

Lego Model 41504 Seismo Mixels Figure

Each group of 3 from a tribe can be put together into 1 larger model to make a new character - as shown on the back of the pack - or just mix it up and make your own.


For the collector there are lots of rarer elements in these sets, including eyes, teeth and ball joints, so they offer a lot to a wide range of LEGO enthusiasts, not just to younger fans. 

Lego Mixels figures uniques

Overall I'm really incredibly impressed. They're brilliant as a LEGO Mixels TV related toy, they're affordable for children with their pocket money and make a great value LEGO set in their own right. 


The elements included are interesting and can be used to enhance anyone's collection of parts. The fact that the characters can be combined into a larger build is brilliant and encourages creativity and imagination. 

For more inspiration go to LEGO.com/Mixels for more information, instructions and ideas on how to build your characters into different models!


We were sent our LEGO to review as part of our role as LEGO Family Bloggers.

We're Lego Family Bloggers!!



I'm absolutely delighted to finally be able to share the news with you that we've been picked to blog for our favourite brand - Lego!

We found out on a Friday, the day before our Lego Simpson's House arrived, so that weekend while we were building we were even more happy in the knowledge that for the next 12 months we'll be sent Lego to review. It really is our dream job, and not something I could have imagined 12 months ago. It's so exciting, there has already been much discussion about what they might send us, and everyone has their own favourites, so I can't wait to open that first box and get stuck in.

I have my shiny new badge over there in my side bar >>> and later today I''ll publish our first review as official Lego Family Bloggers with some exciting news about a new pocket money priced Lego product that's out this weekend. If this was a social media status there would be soooooo many grinning faces!

I've got more Lego posts in the pipeline already, including a review of one of the latest DVD's and some amazing custom Lego modular builds which were brought around to our house last week for us to take a look at.

Job is a goodun! 




Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Vol Au Vent Recipe - Pidy Pastry Cases Review

I was recently given the opportunity to try a couple of items from the Pidy Pastry Cases range. I was sent the Zakouskis and Spoonettes.


Pidy Pastry Cases are a store cupboard item that don't need to be refrigerated or frozen. They're available in bulk and work out very cheaply per item, so they're ideal for catering for parties or get togethers.

 I decided to use my Zakouskis to make a savoury mini vol au vent with a filling I use very often when entertaining, usually in filo pastry parcels.

 


Ingredients

I'm suggesting quantities for 12 cases, but adapt them to taste. If you really like one of the ingredients then increase the quantity.

12 Pidy Zakouskis (mini vol au vent cases)
Spinach, 1 handful fresh or 1 cube frozen, chopped
1/2 Red Onion, chopped finely
1 clove Garlic, crushed
50g Feta Cheese, cut into small cubes
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to season
A little oil

Method

Fry the garlic and red onion in the oil over a low heat until slightly soft.
Add the spinach and heat for a few minutes to remove excess water (or the pastry cases will go soggy). Keep the mixture moving so that it doesn't burn.


Remove from the heat and add the seasonings and finely cubed Feta cheese.
Spoon the mixture into the cases.
Place in a warm oven for 6 minutes to heat through.
Eat.


For the rest of the mini vol au vents I used slightly sweetened whipped double cream, yellow plum and apple.


They worked very well and although the pastry was a little dry, they went well with the sweet and savoury fillings and made a nice bite sized snack or canape. 

The spoons I thought would be best suited to a sweet filling.


As I had the fruit already I added a little chocolate sauce.


I'll be honest, I actually don't think this worked as well as I'd hoped. I should have tried a spoon beforehand as they have a very slightly savoury taste, so I think they'd have been better suited to the vol au vent filling or a nice creamy mushroom filling. If you wanted a sweet, the texture is very much a wafer, and I think that they'd perhaps go very well with a strongly flavoured ice cream or mousse with a nutty, mint or dark chocolate taste.

I was however impressed with the fact that even after 30 minutes wait because I'd been distracted by a child and their emergency, the spoons hadn't gone soft at all and were still incredibly crisp. I didn't like the taste so much as the pastries, but my family ate them all, so they weren't a failure.



Zakouskis are currently available on Amazon for less than £11 for 96 with free postage. Spoonettes are currently available on Amazon at £8 for 24.


Thanks to food PR and marketing agency CLIP Creative and PR for the samples.

Who are better talkers - men or women? The Andrex Washlets Challenge.

When Tots 100 asked for people to take part in a game of Taboo live online I didn't apply at first because I thought maybe asking someone recovering from a brain injury to participate may be a weeny bit unfair on my partner, but as they had a severe shortage of male victims, sorry, volunteers, I asked him and he was happy to do it, so let battle commence....


I think we did really well! We aren't going to win a prize but we put up an effort we can be proud of. It was loads of fun and this sort of game is brilliant for exercising your brain, we should probably play it more often. Only maybe not on camera next time....

The point of the exercise is to highlight the fact that in a survey of 2000 British folk by Andrex, 47% of people shy away from talking about difficult subjects, with women more likely to discuss difficult or embarrassing topics, and everyone happier to talk about mental health and sex than toilet habits.

It often seems with small children that we discuss what comes out of their bodies as often as we talk about what goes in, but as soon as they aren't toddlers any more it becomes far more embarrassing and is left in private behind the toilet door.

I think in our house the grown ups have gone way past being embarrassed, and the teenagers have had to put up with the two little ones pooing on the carpet and sharing every detail of their last visit, so we're probably a bit less bothered than most families. In fact the males and females are all pretty unflustered, but even so, I'm not certain I could rely on them to tell me if they thought there was an issue.

Gut health is an indicator of a huge range of problems, from the commonplace food poisoning, dehydration or Threadworms to Appendicitis, Crohn's and Bowel Cancer. It is something we shouldn't be afraid or embarrassed to talk about - we do all have to go to the loo after all...

Thanks to Andrex Washlets and Tots 100 for giving us the laugh! 


Monday, 24 February 2014

A Star Wars Birthday Theme with Perfect Party UK

It can be a nightmare deciding what to do for an older child's birthday, but for our younger ones we usually have a party at home with pass-the-parcel and musical bumps and all those other old favourites.

The youngest member of our family is 4 in March and Perfect Party UK have given me the opportunity to review some items for his birthday party. He's a huge fan of Star Wars (he even named his Build-A-Bear 'Star Wars'), so it was an obvious choice for the theme.


I didn't know what I was going to be sent, and I must say I was really surprised when the postman handed me a huge cardboard envelope and a smaller parcel. I had no idea what was going to be in it...


Wow! His favourite character is Yoda, it's as if they knew - he's going to be ecstatic!!! 
A 'life size' Yoda is perfect for a 4 year old.

Also in the parcel are all the tablewares I'll need for his party.


16 plates, napkins and cups, and a brilliant tablecloth.



Perfect Party UK have also put together a great Pinterest board full of inspiration for our Star Wars party - which can be found here.

Perfect Party UK sent me my items, but if I'd paid then they would have cost the following prices:

Star Wars 23cm plate x 8 = £2.40 (£4.80 for 16)
Star Wars Cups x 8 = £1.78 (£3.56 for 16)
Star Wars Napkins x 16 = £2.39
Star Wars Table Cover = £3.01
Yoda = £13.79

I'm really delighted with everything in the package and the prices are excellent. I can't wait for his party - awesome it will be!



Saturday, 22 February 2014

Pancake Possibilities with Warburtons ~ Pancake Inspiration.

I was asked by Warburtons if I would like to receive a Magic Pancake Kit and obviously I accepted, not having a clue what was going to be in it....but it sounded great.


When the kit arrived I felt like the Pied Piper carrying a huge colourful box, all of my children were intrigued to see the contents. We weren't disappointed, it was amazing...


Warburtons have developed a full sensory fun packed pancake kit to give us some new ideas ahead of Pancake Day. It even had Maple Syrup room mist spray...Mmmm....


Tummies rumbling, we thought we'd give some of their ideas a try. The Pancake Possibilities Wheel has 7 possible outcomes and all of the ingredients necessary to try them were included in the box.

1. Chilli Jam & Lime
2. Granola & Shaved Coconut
3. Dried Banana & Cinnamon 
4. Chocolate & Popping Candy
5. Feta Cheese and Mint Leaves
6. Marmite & Mascarpone
7. Pancetta & Pistachio

The first spin was for my partner - Pancetta & Pistachio. I chopped the nuts and stirred them into the frying pan with pancetta just before it was ready to serve.


It was a hit! And it was my turn... Feta Cheese & Mint Leaves. I chopped the mint and added it to the Feta.


It was gorgeous! It had a lovely fresh taste and went really well with the slightly sweet taste of the Warburtons Pancakes.

Next up was Chilli Jam and Lime. I wasn't sure what to make of this one at all...


Again, it was gorgeous. It had a Thai feel to it and actually was my favourite. Very different to anything I've ever tried with pancakes before.

The last we tried today wasn't actually picked by the spinner, but it totally had to be done. Chocolate and Popping Candy - Willy Wonka would be proud.


This was great. The popping candy was a brilliant touch, and delighted everyone - I melted the chocolate and heated enough pancakes so that we could all have a try.

With only a couple of pancakes left and everyone satisfied we left the Dried Banana & Cinnamon and Granola & Shaved Coconut for another day - and I didn't have any requests to try the Marmite & Mascarpone - no-one was brave enough!


My 5 and 3 year olds had a request for supper before bed though....the last 2 Warburtons Pancakes.....with butter.....


If this hasn't given you enough inspiration or you have a pancake combination that's too gorgeous to keep to yourself, drop by Warburtons Facebook page to discover more pancake possibilities and you can also share and vote for your favourite creations...