Tuesday 31 March 2015

Hotpoint HULT 943 Washing Machine Review with Co-Operative Electrical

Sometimes I get to review great things, and I've been very lucky lately. The Co-operative Electrical and Hotpoint have had a large part in that because they offered me a washing machine for review. My 9 year old Hotpoint Ultima is still in fair working order, but at over 10,000 washes it has served me spectacularly well and will likely be reaching the end of it's days soon. A brand new replacement Hotpoint machine is a real treat.

Hotpoint HULT 943 Washing Machine Review with Co-Operative Electrical

A month ago we took delivery of a Hotpoint HULT 943 Washing Machine. Priced at £299.99 (usual price £379.99), the Hotpoint HULT 943 washing machine has a huge 9kg capacity, 1400 rpm spin speed, A grade wash performance, and a brilliant energy efficiency A+++ rating.

Friday 27 March 2015

Kano Computer Kit Giveaway

As promised, I am delighted to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win your very own Kano Computer Kit. We adore ours, I haven't ever seen my 6 year old so keen to 'play' with something ever, and he's learning incredibly valuable skills as he plays.

Designed with children in mind, the Kano kit contains everything you need to get started in the world of coding and computer programming - you can be the one making the games and apps., and not just playing with them.

Included in the kit are a Raspberry Pi, cables, a case, a keyboard with mousepad, a speaker and two incredibly clear instruction manuals to guide you along. First task is to build your own computer, and then you start to learn how to adapt games by changing parts of the code. The system has several pre-installed apps. and games using the Python programming language, including Snake, Pong and Minecraft.

UK schoolchildren are currently behind a lot of the rest of the world when it comes to computer skills. We teach our children to use Word, and Windows, but what we really need are for them to be able to understand how and why computers work, and we need people who will be able to write new applications and programs in the future.

You can see our full review of the Kano Computer Kit in this post...

For your chance to win your own Kano Computer Kit worth £119.99, please enter using the Gleam form below. The giveaway will end on Sunday 26th April at midnight, after which no more entries will be accepted. Full terms and conditions are shown on the Gleam form. UK entries only.

If you are new to Gleam and not sure how to use it, then Superlucky Di has
a great, easy-to-follow guide here...

For all of my other giveaways, please see my giveaways page...

Kano Computer Kit Giveaway

Thursday 26 March 2015

The Kano Kit Review - Raspberry Pi Computing For Beginners

It's a rare day that something comes for review and you have a feeling it's going to be awesome, but it's even better. The Kano Computer Kit is easier, clearer, more exciting, more fun and far more beautiful than I had anticipated.

The Kano Computer Kit review - Raspberry Pi Computing for beginners
The Kano Computer Kit review - what's in the box

At the heart of the Kano Kit is the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a marvellous thing. The most basic of basic computers, yet still more powerful that the average home computer was until the turn of the century. Because it's so basic, it can be used to introduce anyone to actual computing and programming, and it's incredibly cheap.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Geronimo Festival Family Ticket Giveaway

The Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park in Cheshire on May 23-25 will be the North West's biggest children's festival this year, we'll be there as Ambassadors, and I'm delighted today to be able to offer a family day ticket admitting up to 4 people as a prize for one of my readers.

Geronimo Festival Family Day Ticket Giveaway
Included with your entry are an absolute host of activities for children of all ages, from the 2 year olds up to the 12 year olds. Bubble-shows, baby ballet, petting zoo and cookie decorating might enthrall your little one while their older sibling has a turn on the den-making or zip wires.

Monday 23 March 2015

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks DVD review and giveaway

Monday 23rd March saw the release of a brand new movie from My Little Pony Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks. Rainbow Rocks is a full length animated feature film which chronicles the tale of the Equestria Girls and their attempt to break into the pop music world.

My youngest two are big fans of My Little Pony, but they hadn't seen Equestria Girls before, however they knew all about it!! It's unusual as it's a feature length movie, and I wasn't certain if it would hold their attention for the full 88 minutes - but it did and they really enjoyed it!

Minion Party Bags and Supplies

By now we should have had a 5th birthday party and I should be posting pictures of all the delicious party food the little darlings ate, but I've had flu. I've been very poorly and we've had to postpone our youngest little minion's birthday. However fear not, because the party will go ahead. I have it on good authority that by next weekend I should be all better and raring to go - if a little battered and sore, and a few lbs lighter than I was on Mother's Day!

Despicable Me Minions Party Supplies Review

We've been sent some great Minion Party Supplies from Party Bags & Supplies. My youngest is a HUGE fan of minions, and I've written about them a few times. We were lucky enough to go to a preview showing of Despicable Me 2, we've reviewed a brilliant Toys R Us Ultimate Minion, and we even made a minion from LEGO. By Friday we should have also made a minion cake, so watch this space for instructions....

Sunday 22 March 2015

eFRAME Custom Frames Review

And what happens when there's an unwanted alien object in your parcel....

I was asked if I'd like to review eFrame, an online service who can supply frames in any size or style that suits, custom designed or ready made. I chose one of my favourite photos of 6 of our children on the way to preview SeaLife, Manchester, back in May 2013. It's not beautifully lit, it's not even properly in focus, but it was a great day out and a rare photo of most of the older ones together.

eFRAME Custom Frames Review

The website was super-easy to use, even though I haven't ever ordered a frame online. All of the options are on one scrollable page, and as you go down you see examples and explanations for everything, and your preview image is there throughout, so any adjustments you make are shown instantly.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

100 Family Adventures with the Meek Family - book review

100 Family Adventures is a thick book full of fabulous activities that families can do together in any different situation or with any level of ability that you can think of. It has ideas for in the house, in the garden, on the beach or anywhere families can play.

100 Family Adventures with the Meek Family - book review

We really haven't got up to much the last couple of years, which is a real shame as our older children all went camping every couple of weeks throughout their childhoods, so it feels the little two miss out on that. Camping might be something for later in the year, but what can we get up to right now?

Tuesday 17 March 2015

What would you save in a fire?

If the very worst happened, or seemed to be happening, and your home was at risk from fire, what would you save first? I think it's safe to assume that anything living would feature at the very top of that list, my children and partner safe, the pets would be next.

What would you save in a fire? Children and pets first

I spoke a couple of years ago about what I would save in a fire, in this post here, and events over the last 2 years have altered my opinion a little. Having a partner develop a life-threatening condition like Meningitis, and then suddenly losing one of our children with no warning, has shown me exactly what is important.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Seven months after losing Elspeth

This is a late post, but I am obviously aware it is Mother's Day, and I didn't want my update post to be a dampener for anyone. All the Mums out there deserve as lovely a day as I've had. I had a lie in, cards, croissant and Danish pastry in bed, and I came downstairs to a beautiful vase of flowers and a pile of presents big enough to match my last birthday. I didn't even have to cook all day. I love our kids...they're ace.

There have been a few tears today, just a few. It is 7 months since we lost Elspeth, and it's beginning to feel like it might be a long while now. That's double-edged because you don't want it to be a long time and you don't want to forget anything, but at the same time you want to run away as far as possible, and time is one way to achieve distance. Time is however making more sense now. We're starting to be able to plan things in the future and life isn't jumping up and surprising us so much. Less time is spent aimlessly most days. Life is more organised.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Swizzels Spring Selection Sweets Bucket Giveaway

We've just reviewed the Swizzels Matlow Spring Selection sweet tub and now I have an opportunity for you to win one of your own. Swizzels have very kindly offered one of these huge buckets full of sweets as a prize for one of my readers.

Swizzels Spring Selection Sweets Bucket Giveaway

Filled with Fruity Pops, Double Lollies, Parma Violets, Fizzers and lots more, these buckets are brilliant for Easter Sunday treasure hunts and have plenty of sweets to keep the whole family happy all Easter.

Swizzels Spring Selection Sweets Bucket competition

Swizzels Spring Selection Tub and Weekly Hamper Giveaway

This Spring, Swizzels Matlow have released a brand new Swizzels Spring Selection tub full of all your favourites - Love Hearts, Parma Violets, Drumstick Lorries, Double Lollies and more. We have the awful job of reviewing the Spring Selection...

Swizzels Spring Selection Tub and Weekly Hamper Giveaway

The tub weighs 750g and it has a HUGE amount of Swizzels Matlow favourites inside...

Swizzels Spring Selection Bucket Review contents of tub

Friday 13 March 2015

Chemist Direct Review

Getting the chance to review an online Chemist was a job I nearly turned down until I considered it properly. I always need stuff from the Chemist, my teenagers always want stuff from the Chemist, and it's always a pain in the neck to go to the Chemist. An online option surely is a brilliant thing.

Chemist Direct Review

My 15 year old daughter helped me with this review, in fact she could barely contain her excitement, so I let her look at the website first. She was using her mobile phone and found it very easy to navigate around the site. Within minutes she was sending me screenshots and links to products that she wanted - and she was very sensible! She even ordered items for the other teenagers too.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Personalising T-shirts with buytshirtsonline

It's always great for children to be able to explore their own creativity and make something fabulous, and in my experience if it's something they can wear it's even better. When they are small they like to make masks and hats, and as they get older the opportunities for expressing your own individuality and creating your own clothes really open up.

T Shirt decorating and personalising with the two youngest children

buytshirtsonline sent a us T-shirt Kit so that my 2 younger children could let their inner artist escape and get creative, designing their own personalised t-shirts. The boys chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and LEGO transfers for their t-shirts, and when they came they were delighted!

buytshirtsonline t-shirt kit with fabric pens

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza Night

We're big fans of Dr Oetker frozen Pizza here, and I'm meant to be telling you about their new Limited Edition Pizza Pollo Arrabiata with chicken and spicy Roquito sauce, but I haven't been able to find any in the 4 supermarkets I've tried near me, so I guess it's popular enough already...

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza Review

What I did manage to pick up is a fairly usual order for us - Pizza Pepperoni-Salami for the carnivores and Pizza Mozzarella for the vegetarians. At only £2.50 per pizza (and on offer at £1.50 in Tesco last weekend), you really can't beat the Pizza Ristorante from Dr Oetker.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

New Ambassadorships

We're really lucky in that we get to work with some amazing companies, and try out lots of exciting new things, sometimes before they're even in the shops. Sometimes I work with a company once, and other times I have an ongoing relationship. Today I can tell you about two new Ambassadorships for the coming 12 months.

The Brick Castle are Ambassadors for LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SeaLife, Manchester

Today I'm delighted to announce that we will be spending the next year as Ambassadors for LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester and it's neighbour at Barton Square in the Trafford Centre, SeaLife, Manchester.

Monday 9 March 2015

A Monster's Moved In! Children's storybook review.

A Monster's Moved In! is  a children's story book written by Timothy Knapman and illustrated by Loretta Schauer. It's now one of my favourite books ever, and is a brilliant book to read with your children on a rainy afternoon. Hilarious and with a fantastic twist at the end..

A Monster's Moved In! by Timothy Knapman children's book review age 3-7

A Monster's Moved In! tells the story of a young boy named Barnaby who is stuck indoors on a rainy day. He doesn't have anyone to play with until he builds a den and a monster moves in....

Friday 6 March 2015

A Different Way To Learn About Religion

I'm not religious. I don't have a firm belief in a God, although I tend to label myself as somewhere between Agnostic and Atheist. I do however think it's really important that my children learn about people's religions and how to respect them. These are important life skills. Today my 6 year old learnt a lot about the Christian religion, today he took part in a mock Church wedding.

A different way to learn about Christianity

Thursday 5 March 2015

Transformers Prime: Darkest Hour DVD review and giveaway

The Transformers have been around a long time, they're something my children have all enjoyed, from my youngest now at 4, to my oldest who is now 21. They've changed a little over time, but the basic good v's evil storylines are the same, and the Autobots are still there to protect the human race from the Decepticons.

In traditional Transformer style this DVD sees Megatron and the Decepticons capturing 3 of the Autobots and holding them to ransom until the Autobots hand over the Omega Keys - ancient relics that give the holder ultimate power over Cybertron. Naturally a fight ensues and all manner of excitement and battling ensues.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Bee Good Honey & Wild Water Mint 3-in-1 Cleansing Water review

Honey is made of magic, you know that, right? It has properties beyond any other natural or manufactured product. Pure honey will never, ever go bad. It will last forever and be not only edible, but useful. Bee Good are a UK company who work with bees to create some really nice skincare products using honey, beeswax and propolis (a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds and sap etc).

Bee Good Honey & Wild Water Mint 3-in-1 Cleansing Water packaging box

Bee Good have a really strong ethical philosophy, and their products are very kind to you and the environment, and the bees who produce them are carefully looked after. Bee Good don't use synthetic colours, mineral oil, silicone, SLS and SLES or parabens in any of their skincare products. Bee Good do not test on animals.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Noodle Kids cookery book

Noodle kids is a brand new cookery book out this February. Written by Jonathan Sawyer and published by Quarry Books, it features 50 recipes to cook with your children from all around the world. Noodle Kids is different at first glance because it really puts the children in charge and lets them lead the cooking. I like that.

Noodle Kids pasta cookery book review

Noodle Kids recipe book review by Jonathon Sawyer

The Sawyer children are almost as much a part of this book as their Dad, and although Noodle Kids has 50 recipes, it's actually just as useful for the suggestions and examples of how to get children interested in joining in - choosing ingredients, getting their hands dirty, and losing any fear and nerves about food and cooking.

Monday 2 March 2015

The New LEGO Speed Champions Overview

The new LEGO Speed Champions sets are out now, and we think they're a really great range, which actually offer good value for money and great playability for kids, as well as being perfect for the display shelf. We've reviewed the 3 Hybrid Supercars, and here's a look at the full range of 7 sets....

In the lower price bracket we've 4 basic car sets at £12.99. Each has the vehicle, driver and a small accessory - chequered flag, trophy, barrier, fantastic little 2 part orange cones which really work far better than they have a right to. 

LEGO Speed Champions sets review and overview

Sunday 1 March 2015

What makes a Super Mum?

Mother's Day is almost upon us, and Interflora will have one of their busiest days of the year delivering flowers and brightening the day of thousands of Mums. Parenting is the hardest job in the world, so every parent has to be at least a bit super, but what do children think makes you a Super Mum? My little boys were asked by Interflora what they thought were the things that make a Mum super?