Monday 31 March 2014

DC Super Friends Books For Young Children From Bantam Publishing Review

My 4 and 5 year old boys love DC Super Friends, so it was great to see that Bantam Publishing have released a range of DC Super Friends books aimed at youngsters aged around 5-7.

We were sent a selection of 4 books for review -

The Wipe-Clean Activity Book is a 16 page A4 book and a pen with an eraser at the end. It has various puzzles and pictures to complete and an RRP of £3.99.

Young childs book DC Super Friends drawing writing

I like this book, although I do feel it's a little bit pricey. It has very basic puzzles, most of which my 4 year old can tackle with a little help. It's only 16 pages, but they're very varied and full of activities and information, and the erasable pen works well.

The Save The Day Sticker Book is a 24 page A4 book with over 100 reusable stickers, and puzzles and pictures to complete. It has an RRP of £3.99.

Review DC Super Friends Superman The Flash Batman Green Goblin

This is a really nice book which is good value. The stickers are great and it's full of interesting puzzles and pictures and information about all of the Super Friends.

Hero Havoc and Crime Wave are both 32 page full colour First Readers with simple repetitive text and short sentences and an RRP of £3.99.

Early Reader First Book DC Super Friends Heroes

Amid the simple vocabulary they introduce some really quite tricky words, but the pictures are really clear and help the reader work out the text. It's not particularly intimidating for my 5 year old even though he can only 'read' around half of the text at the moment.

Crime Wave! is a story about the mysterious Black Manta, who steals the world's largest pearl and the Super Friends have to race in to save the day!

DC Super Heroes book for 5-7 year olds

Hero Havoc! is a story about a character named Bizarro who wants to be a Super Friend and he thinks he knows how to go about it, but it goes a bit awry...

DC Super Friends book for beginner readers

I  like these early reader books very much indeed. I've 4 boys and have found them to be far more reluctant readers than our 3 girls. They've all adored the DC Super Heroes and comic books have been a great way to encourage them to read. These books are perfect encouragement for them. My 5 year old has tackled words like Bizarro, octopus and penguin and read them by himself, which has boosted his confidence massively.

The DC Super Friends collection of books are published by Bantam Publishing, the children's range from Random House Books. Available from all good book shops.

Sunday 30 March 2014

New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles LEGO Sets for Spring 2014

On sale from Tuesday 1st April, the 4 brand new LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets look pretty cool.

Karai Bike 79118 retails at £11.99 and contains Leonardo and his long time rival Karai with a great motorbike. It's a set for the younger members of the family, age 5+ with only 88 pieces and makes a great little playset.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bike Karai Spring 2014

Mutation Chamber Unleashed 79119 retails at £19.99 and is suitable for age 6+. As well as the Mutation Chamber where you can transform your minifigures into mutants, it includes Raphael and Victor, plus the fearsome Spider Bytez figure (or the Cosmic Tomato as it was called on children's TV the other week).
LEGO Spider Bytez figure Spring 2014 Turtles
T-Rawket Sky Strike 79120 retails at £29.99 and is suitable for age 6+. It includes the turtles home-made T-Rawket with pizza shooter and ejector seat, plus backpack glider.
TMNT LEGO sets Spring 2014
The set includes 4 minifigures with their weapons and accessories - Donatello, Michelangelo, Mutated Dr O'Neill and a Kraang.

Turtles LEGO sets Spring 2014
Turtle Sub Undersea Chase 79121 is the biggest set of the 4, with an RRP of £59.99. With a suggested age range of 7+ and 5 characters - Donatello, Leonardo, 2 x Kraang and a Leatherhead figure. The Turtle Sub has a detachable mini sub and there's also a Kraang mini sub with flick missiles.
Inside the Turtle Sub is plenty of room for the turtles to hang out, and an opening hatch to release the mini sub, plus loads of other goodies.

Leonardo Blue Turtle LEGO

I know nothing much more than I've shared, but like last year's TMNT LEGO sets all 4 are suitable for younger LEGO fans with masses of playability and suggested ages of 7+ or less. There are flick fire missiles, opening hatches, space to play and sturdy builds. They're not designed to sit idle on a shelf, they're for using.

Raphael LEGO figure

The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles LEGO sets go on sale Tuesday 1st April and will all be available to buy from the official LEGO shop online.

Our LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Attack 79103 review 
Our review of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem DVD
Our review of the Karai Bike escape 79118
Our review of the T-Rawket Sky Strike 79120

Saturday 29 March 2014

Good Bubble Children's Bathtime Products Review

I do always like to support the 'little guy', especially if they're local, so an opportunity to review a start up family-run business based only a few miles from me was something I was unlikely to turn down.

Good Bubble is a brand new company making natural and fun bath products aimed at younger children aged 3+. The entire range is at least 98% natural, full of fruits and free from nasties like Sulfates, Parabens, PEG and artificial colourings. They are vegan and the ingredients derived from palm oil come from sustainable sources.

I love the ethics and the sound of it, so I was excited to try it out on my young boys.

Good Bubble have 2 product ranges - Dragon Fruit and Cloudberry. I was sent 3 products from the Dragon Fruit range - Super Bubbly Bubble Bath, Clean As A Bean Shampoo and Smoothy Softly Conditioner.

Good Bubble Dragon Fruit Children's shampoo Bubble bath

First thing was the packaging. I didn't really see anything too special, but actually in use it's great and wasn't slippy at all. The lids were easy to open and shut one-handed , incredibly handy - especially in a shampoo and conditioner.

The smell is lovely. Really fruity and fresh, quite sweet, but not too strong. My boys like the smell - they even commented on it. The bubble bath seemed runnier than other bubble baths, but makes easily the same amount of bubbles for the same quantity of bubble bath. The shampoo and conditioner I needed only a 20p sized blob for each boy to get a good covering of their entire scalp.

When it came to the shampoo and conditioner, something very odd happened. My youngest's rather long and curly hair went a bit wild! It was incredibly 'flyaway' after the first 2 washes, but actually after that it settled down and was fine. It didn't happen to my 5 year old at all. I spoke to the company at the time and was assured this is because it's so different from regular shampoo and just needed to settle. Settle it has, and both of the boys have lovely smelling, soft hair and scalp that looks and feels really healthy.

I'm really pleased with the Good Bubble products. It's nice to know that what I'm using has such good ethics and is kind to our planet and our children. It's great to think that the boys aren't building up harsh chemicals on their scalps and they smell lovely!

Good Bubble bathtime products are on sale to the general public now, with an RRP of £3.99 per bottle online and in store at Holland and Barrett, Ocado and Boots. The quality is top notch, the ingredients ethically sourced, the products are manufactured in the UK and actually you only need a very small amount of the shampoo and conditioner to be effective, so it works out brilliant value.

They're passionate about what they do, and I for one wish them well and will be watching out for them in store.

A Lost Boys Photoshoot With Added Sleet!

A few months ago Minty from Water Birth Please asked if anyone in the Northwest was interested in putting forward their little boys for a Lost Boys photoshoot with dj archer photography. A few questions later and we were certain it was the Peter Pan Lost Boys rather than the subliminal cult classic starring Keifer Sutherland and, secretly slightly disappointed,  I put our names down.

My little lads enjoy nothing more than running about with sticks, so it sounded like great fun, and luckily we were chosen, along with 2 boys we actually already knew - Grumpyishmum's sons. 

The weather here has been really sunny recently, but as soon as you plan something like this the weather invariably decides to remind us of it's power, and it really did!

First thing in the morning it was gorgeous and sunny, but by noon it was drizzling. This is Manchester, we're used to that, it didn't phase us at all. We were due to start the photoshoot at 1pm, and as we set off at 12.30am the rain started. By the time we arrived at the shoot location it was belting down. We all sat in the cars for half an hour sand eventually it relaxed, so we decided to go ahead with the shoot.

The boys got to run about with all kinds of props and really did have an excellent time, but within an hour the temperature started to drop, and the clouds came back...

There was an awful lot of 'keeping warm' between shots...

Although the boys all did spectacularly well, with one of the 'props' becoming incredibly useful for shelter, when it started hailing and sleeting the bigger ones only just coped and the little ones were done.

Even though the photographer had more shots he'd wanted to take, we just had to call it a day. Hot chocolate and biscuits weren't even enough to keep everyone going. I think there was relief all round really...

Naturally by the time we'd walked across the field to the cars it had dried up and the sun was breaking through again, but we needed to go home and get the little ones into the bath to warm up.....and then have a birthday party...however we will return - when it's a lot warmer!! 

And it was lovely to be able to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature - even if it did decide to throw everything it could at us! 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday 28 March 2014

How To Make A LEGO Benny The Spaceman Cake

We're rather proud of the LEGO cake we made for our 4 year old's birthday based on the head of Benny The 1970's Spaceman from The LEGO Movie and he loved it. It was really fairly simple and here's how we did it....

You will need a hemisphere (half a ball) cake mould or any smooth metal or Pyrex style bowl you can safely bake in, or an incredibly steady hand to shape the top cake. We used a 16cm medium hemisphere mould (3 egg cake mix) we bought from Lakeland.

You will also really struggle to colour the icing unless you get gel food colouring - I bought ours from ebay and paid about £2.50 each, but they last a long time and will save you money if you use it all as you need such a small amount compared to liquid food colouring.

The cake mix we used was your basic sponge. Using classic sponge is tastier. It's a little harder to work with and doesn't last as long, but I'd rather make something that tastes delicious, rather than using a 'construction cake' recipe.  You will need to make 3 sponges. 2 round (or square and cut them like I did), and 1 hemisphere.

Ingredients (per cake)

3 eggs
Weigh the eggs, get the same quantity of Sugar, Butter and Self-Raising Flour (it'll be somewhere around 180grams)
Teaspoon Vanilla Essence


Preheat the oven to 160c/320f/Gas Mark 3
Grease your pans and line the flat tins if you wish
Cream together the Butter and Sugar
Add the Eggs bit by bit, mixing in between
Add the Vanilla Essence
Add the Flour

Cook for around 25-30 minutes for a flat cake,  50-55 minutes for a hemisphere cake. Stab it with a skewer to test - if it comes out clean then it's done. If the top starts to burn cover it loosely with foil.

Putting together the design


The 3 Cakes
Ready to roll Icing, or make your own with icing sugar
Blue, yellow and black Food Colouring
Butter and Icing Sugar mixed together to make Buttercream
Apricot Jam


Take the 3 cakes and pile them on top of each other. Cut them to shape as below. Mine are different colours as I ran out of white sugar and changed to brown!

How to make a LEGO minifigure cake birthday

Then take them apart, then rebuild with buttercream in between, and cover with buttercream.

I was a bit over-generous, you only need a thin layer of buttercream so that the icing sticks. You can use apricot jam instead if you wish.

Make your blue icing. You'll need elbow grease to get the colour even throughout. This temporarily adds air, which makes it look slightly lighter than the end result will be.

Roll it out big enough that it'll cover the cakes completely.

Choose which side you want as the front and drape the icing over the top being careful not to pull, stretch and break it. You'll have to cut off the spare icing at the back and smooth it together as best you can. Then place it onto the surface you'll be using. Smooth the surface with clean, warm hands. Don't stretch the icing, give it a bit of love.

How to ice a LEGO minifigure head cake

If you're using a board you can ice that if you wish - we made ours red.

Cut out a template from greaseproof paper for the face. The hole in the spacesuit helmet  is larger than you might think and wraps around the face. I can't give you an exact dimension because your cake won't be exactly the same size as mine!

LEGO Benny Spaceman cake instructions

We used cocktail sticks to hold it in place, and 'dot' around the template carefully, then use a knife to cut out the gap for the face. If you press the icing slightly with the edge of a knife you can make it seem thicker than it is. Don't forget to draw a line in the blue icing to be the broken chin strap!

LEGO Birthday cake

Use the same template (or one exactly the same shape and size) to cut out  the face from yellow icing. Roll your yellow icing as thin as you dare. Cut 1mm larger than the template all round - just bigger than the template.

Carefully position your face into the gap. If you press it in then it gives the illusion it's further back, and an actual face behind the mask. The buttercream has a little bit of 'give' to it.

My partner also cut out letters freehand to spell boy no.4's name.

Then you have to make the face using black icing. A bottle top (rum) seemed around the right size to cut out the eyes. Use apricot jam mixed with a little warm water to 'glue' the icing onto the iced cake.

Our mouth stretched as we positioned it. You can avoid this by starting at one end, and if it stretches, cut a little off the other end. Once applied, you can't take it back because the black icing stains the yellow icing.

And voila, you have a Benny cake....

The back of our cake isn't incredibly neat, but it wasn't going to be on display for long before it was cut, and our 4 year doesn't care. If I'd had it out for the whole party I'd have smoothed it more.

He thought it was great, and that's what matters most....

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