Thursday 30 June 2016

10 Everyday Household Items That Are Actually Really Dangerous For Kids.

When you have kids you put up stair gates and lock the cupboard under the sink. You move the Paracetamol to the wall cupboard in the bathroom and put all the knives in a high drawer. You do everything you can to protect them, but sometimes the obvious escapes us...

1. Multivitamins and Minerals.
Too much of a good thing is bad for you. Lots of delicious chewy colourful animal-shaped multivitamins can do your child more harm than good. Take in too many vitamins and minerals and your body will try to dispose of the excess, but a few do not simply flush out. Iron is especially dangerous because children can't process iron like adults can, and we aren't very good at it. The excess iron doesn't go anywhere, it stays in their bodies and poisons them. Keep iron tablets and syrup with your dangerous medicines locked away, and not on the bedside cabinet. A 24lb (10.8kg) toddler only needs to swallow 2 iron tablets to have taken too many, and 8 iron tablets is a severely toxic dose.

Instead: Do a simple scientific experiment with your older kids to find out 'how much iron is in their breakfast cereal?'

Letts Wild About Workbooks released today! Review And Giveaway

Letts are incredibly well known for their workbooks and revision guides. They produce educational workbooks suitable right throughout a child's school life, and today have added more titles to their Wild About range of workbooks for children in Key Stage 1 and 2. To celebrate, one of my readers can win a set of five Letts Wild About workbooks tailored to the age of their child.

With 3 teenagers here who have just completed GCSE's, AS levels and A Levels, we are well aware of Letts and have a library full of their revision guides. This is the first time that we've looked at Letts Workbooks for younger children.

The Wild About Workbooks are designed to engage your child and encourage them to work through activities while learning about their natural world. We were sent Wild About English: Grammar & Punctuation, and Wild About Maths: Times Tables for my 6 and 7 year old boys.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

100 Facts: Butterflies And Moths from Miles Kelly Review And Giveaway (2 Winners).

We've reviewed a few books for Miles Kelly before, and they're generally very bright and colourful fact books absolutely crammed with the kind of information that children not only find useful, but also find interesting.  The bestselling 100 Facts series is massive, and the latest addition is Butterflies And Moths by Steve Parker.

These factual books are full of 100 pieces of information grouped into topics, in this case including 'Clever Caterpillars' and 'Growing Up'. The contents page is really clear, and even my 6 year old chose to stop and look at it to see what was ahead.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Paper Aliens and Paper Robots - awesome model books for kids (age 7+)

Paper Aliens by Jennifer Bryan and Paper Robots by Alexander Gwynne are two amazing large format paperback books which are full of press out characters for your child (and you) to make. Suitable for children aged around 8+, once you have made your models, the books also include games to play with the robots and aliens, even having press out cards at the back of the books for extra gameplay.

Although these books have a recommended age of around 8+, both my 6 and 7 year old boys did a fine job of making the models, with only a minimum of help. They weren't the only ones who got excited by the models though...

Thursday 23 June 2016

Inside Out - an emotional Family Movie - now showing on NOW TV Movies.

I've spent 22 years raising children and I've always particularly loved movie night. Movies tell a whole story. They draw you into a fantasy world and your children can experience events and emotions in a secure and limited way, where you know it'll mostly all turn out okay in the end.

A NOW TV Movie Pass gives you access to 1000 movies at any time you choose. You can even take a look and have a 14 day free trial at the moment. There is something for everyone, including some of the latest blockbusters, and one of the newest films to hit their list is the Oscar-winning Disney Pixar animated tale, Inside Out.

Inside Out is different to the majority of children's films. It does turn out okay in the end, but the journey you travel through the story shows children how the different emotions affect the inner person, and what happens outwardly when our emotions take over. It's actually a very mature theme, and not one you'd usually find in a children's film.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Little Tikes Riga Swing Set From ASDA Review

Some review items are far more exciting than others, and the Little Tikes Riga Swing Set is incredibly exciting! My boys spend a lot of time playing outside, but the only large equipment they've ever had has been passed down from their big siblings, and they have never owned a swing aside from an old baby swing.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Striped Hama Beads Review and Bundle Giveaway!

I've been a parent for the last 22 years and yet have only just had my first personal experience of using Hama. Small beads which you can form into pictures using pegboards, and then iron to keep your creation forever.

We've had Hama creations in our house for years, but my youngest 2 boys hadn't used them until we were sent a bundle of Hama Beads to review...including lots of the new Striped Hama Beads.

Bricktastic - The Manchester Central LEGO Show - Ticket Giveaway!

On 2nd and 3rd July a very special event is coming to Manchester Central. Bricktastic is one of the UK's biggest LEGO events and promises to be pretty awesome! See, Play And Learn With LEGO - and by buying a ticket or spending at the event you'll support Fairy Bricks, providing LEGO for children in hospital in the Northwest UK.

SEE - Over 50 of the UK's top LEGO builders will be displaying their builds, including Bright Bricks, the UK's only certified LEGO Professional, who will be there with some of the models from their touring show 'Bricks In Motion'.

PLAY - Brick pits, a giant mosaic and builds to take home as souvenirs

LEARN - What can you make with LEGO? Find out what other people are making, including some amazing mechanical and motor driven LEGO robots, get hints and tips from some of the best, find out what's new in the world of LEGO, and put those skills into action.

Monday 20 June 2016

The NINJA Complete Kitchen System with NUTRI NINJA Review (BL682UK)

I was VERY excited when I was asked if I wanted to take a look at a NUTRI NINJA kitchen blender, even more so when it arrived and it was the NINJA Complete Kitchen System with NUTRI NINJA (with Auto IQ). At 1500w and with a swathe of accessories, it is capable of so much more than your average blender.

The system arrives in a huge box containing all of the parts in smaller boxes. It's like Christmas. The metal blades are incredibly sharp, and arrive the same way as they store, safely inside the pitcher, cup and bowl.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Stickibox Children's Cardboard Car Kit Giveaway

A couple of days ago we reviewed the Stickibox Cardboard Car Kit, and our children love it. There really aren't many things that are better at bringing out the laughter and imagination in children than a cardboard box vehicle. Today I have the chance for one of my readers to win one of their own.

Easy to put together and your child can personalise their box however they want. Stickibox take it all to the next level with turning wheels and reg plates, lights and a steering wheel. You can see our full review of the Stickibox Car Kit here...

Friday 17 June 2016

Mister Chef Kitchen Equipment Review

Mister Chef are a brand new company selling kitchen equipment in the UK. Their range is varied and very modern. They specialise in silicone bakeware and some of the more gadgety equipment for kitchen, baking and sugarcraft. They recently sent us a bundle of products to take a look...

The first product that caught my eye was a little gadget that I didn't recognise at all! Looking like a little single axle car, with whirling blades inside. Luckily it was listed as a Garlic Chopper.

Stickibox Cardboard Car Kit Review And Discount Code

We love a good cardboard box car here, but somehow they are always missing something. Stickibox hope to fill that gap by supplying Cardboard Car Kits for the young explorer in your house. Luckily we have just the chap living here, and we've been sent a Cardboard Car Kit for review.

The box arrived and along the edge is a sticker with a message from the creators, Pip and Kerry:
"Each Stickibox Kit enables a child to express their creativity and helps support key developmental skills. Once built, this simple box can transport your child on a journey of adventure.
Build, Design and Jump Inside."
I like that. It's a nice ethos. Open your box, and you find, unsurprisingly, a box! Flat-packed and really simple to construct.

Thursday 16 June 2016

22 Month Smiles...

Yeah, okay, I'm a day late. I'm not even sure how that exactly happened, but I was really stunned when I realised today was not the 15th. It's got to be a good sign. It's also an indicator of just how busy we are at the moment - we're getting out more. It's definitely a good sign.

Life is becoming more normal, we've had some amazingly successful trips out this last month and one of the big differences is we've begun to 'last the day', rather than wanting to go home after an hour to the safety of our own surroundings.

I've always known life has to carry on, it has to be good for the little boys. They have a right to enjoy the things the big kids had. My teenagers have to be teenagers, they have to do normal teenage stuff. Sitting down and giving in would be so easy at so many points, but then what? Nothing. You can't lie down and give in, you have the rest of forever to consider.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

LEGO CITY Airport Air Show review set 60103

There are some amazing new LEGO sets this Spring, and one of the ones we were most excited about was the LEGO CITY Airport Air Show. Comprising a huge hangar, 3 planes, service car, tool wagon and an impressive 6 minifigures, it's a collectible for enthusiasts and a play set that really promises value.

This is a £69.99 set, and the box is impressively huge.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

The Wedding Planners Budgeting Guide

This post is written by Michael Todt...

Wedding Planners Budgeting Guide

Who’d want to be a father-in-law these days, huh? The costs of weddings have soared in recent years, and with venue, contractors and planners alike looking to capitalise on our innate desires to make this once-in-a-lifetime occasion as special as possible, budgets tend to go through the roof. In fact, some recent research suggests that the average cost of a UK wedding is now an eye-watering £24,000!

According to Martin Lewis, possibly the most trusted consumer champion in the UK, one of the biggest causes of divorce is debt and financial worries. So while you don’t want to sacrifice too much for your big day, you also don’t want to leave yourself financially crippled in the future as a result of it. I remember our big day very well. I also remember all the stresses of planning it! But it was all worth it in the end, and we managed to keep the budget down to what we found acceptable. I thought that, based on our experience, I’d share a few tips which I picked up along the way…

You Wouldn't Want To Be A Shakespearean Actor. Children's Book Review.

I love the fact that my 6 and 7 year old boys want to read all kinds of different books, and now that they are becoming competent independent readers a whole world is open to them. "You Wouldn't Want To Be...." is a series of books detailing the kinds of historical jobs that you probably wouldn't have wanted, mixing humour and history and really giving an insight into the lives of people in the past.

You Wouldn't Want To Be a Shakespearean Actor is written by Jacqueline Morley and illustrated really fittingly by David Antram. It shows us the less-than-glamorous side of treading the boards back in the 16th Century.  For starters actors nowadays might complain about costumes, but they have it easy..

Star Wars Activity And Model Books From Egmont Books for Father's Day

This Father’s Day Egmont Books have treated the Dad of our house to some of their great new Star Wars mini-build books. They are exactly the type of the kind of gift he would buy for the boys – partly because he wanted to have a play and a look at them himself…

We've been sent Star Wars: Battle Stations: Activity Book and AT-AT Model and Smuggler's Starship: Activity Book and Millennium Falcon Model. We chose to give my partner the Battle Stations AT-AT model book for his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and we will be giving him the Smuggler's Starship Millennium Falcon book on Father's Day this Sunday.

Monday 13 June 2016

Heck Foods Meat Free Vegetarian Range Review

Heck are well known mainly for their incredibly special meat sausages, so it was a real surprise to me to discover they have launched a vegetarian range. Knowing how much care and effort Heck take over their meat products, and their reputation for real food with excellent quality ingredients, it was something I was very excited to try, as were my family - veggie and non-veggie.

There are 3 products in the Heck Meat-Free Vegetarian range:

Super Greens - Veggie meatballs made from made from quinoa, spinach, kale and ginger.

Nuts About Cheese - Veggie sausages made from cashews, two cheeses, flax and chia seeds, and a dash of chilli.

Gourmet Goat's Cheese - Veggie burgers made from quinoa, goat's cheese and caramelised onions.

Regular readers may remember I don't really enjoy cooked cheese, so for reasons of fairness the rest of my family insisted they also sampled the products.

Heck Super Greens are the only one of the 3 products that are vegan. 9 balls in a pack with an rrp of £3. They have a quite solid consistency and are quite dense, and drier when raw than I anticipated.

Very similar in texture, shape and size to Falafel, they are mainly chick pea and quinoa, but the taste is very different indeed. These are more herby, not spicy at all, but very strong tasting. It was also evident straightaway that they are a little heavy on the Coriander (always a risky move).

Considering the density they cook very nicely, with a crispy shell and are soft, but not mushy inside.

We nibbled on them the first time to test them, but I think because they are so strongly flavoured, you don't need any more than 1 or 2, and a couple of my family really don't care for Coriander, so they struggled with them.

I've since used the Super Greens Balls in a burger bun and in a wrap with salad, which works much better and makes a nice alternative to a sandwich or burger. Good, but don't overdo them by attempting too many at once or you'll spoil it, and if you aren't a fan of Coriander then approach with caution.

Heck Nuts About Cheese Sausages are a nut and cheese sausage that otherwise has more subtle flavours. Sold in packs of 4 with an rrp of £3. These are the most 'realistic' looking vegetarian sausages I've ever used, and have a thin skin which means frying them results in a lovely glossy golden sausage.

The ends do escape a little during cooking as the cheese melts and the sausage contents heat and expand, but there is no excess fat to escape and they keep their shape nicely. They're great for adding to recipes because they do keep shape better than a lot of other 'real food' veggie sausages, even when chopped.

The Nuts About Cheese Sausages were deemed 'very cheesy', so I avoided. The general consensus is that the cheese taste is rich and delicious, and these sausages were very different to any usual sausage whether vegetarian or not, but different in a good way. When I cooked them again I had no trouble emptying the plate, although my little boys didn't like them for being 'too weird'. Definitely worth a try, especially if you like cheese.

Heck Gourmet Goat's Cheese Burgers were the stunner of the show. Two burgers per pack with an rrp of £3. Not as cheesy as you'd think, I even had half and was very impressed. Mainly quinoa, but with a large proportion of nuts, they have a fresh, nutty taste above any other flavour.

They may fall apart a little during cooking, but give you a crispy, delicious burger with a lovely texture. Fabulous in a bun, but maybe a bit risky on a barbeque, cook them in a pan or on a tray. I cannot imagine any vegetarian being disappointed by these.

These burgers are now my partner's favourite burger ever. He adores them. He isn't vegetarian, but says he'd rather have these than any other burger he's ever tasted. I honestly could have served them up 3 times over and they'd have been eaten. DEFINITELY worth trying.

In all it's a very impressive range of products that doesn't disappoint. You can taste the quality, the ingredients all have a clear role and add to the overall effect, in the case of the balls maybe overdoing the Coriander, but in the burgers hitting perfect spot on. Full of flavour and each unique in it's market, they are a tastier and more decadent product than your everyday burger, banger or ball. 

The entire Heck Meat-Free range is Vegetarian Society Approved and gluten-free, and available online from Heck or from selected branches of Waitrose. 

We were sent our Heck Vegetarian Products for review. 

Num Noms Ice Cream Cupcakes Recipe (Cooking With Kids).

We've reviewed Num Noms before, children's scented collectible toys that are designed to look like Cupcakes and Ice Creams, and we thought it would be a fun idea to try and recreate them for real. I think we may have cracked it...

Num Noms all have a particular smell, and there are tons of different flavours (my review of the Num Noms Cupcake Party Pack). We actually bought several flavours of ice cream to try and recreate them, some were more successful than others!

Sunday 12 June 2016

Kinetic Sand Build Crash'em Cars Review

We've been sent the Kinetic Sand Build Crash'em Cars for review. Initially I couldn't believe they'd stay together at all, but the kinetic sand holds so well that the cars have to really crash to break, and you don't have sand flying everywhere, it mainly stays on the enclosed playsurface.

Inside the box we have a selection of printed cut cards to make a scoreboard and ramps to add to the scenery, 2 sets of car moulds, an instruction leaflet and 2 colours of Kinetic Sand.

A visit to London with Skylanders Imaginators!

During half term 3 of my boys and I were treated to a trip to London and an awesome event to preview Skylanders Imaginators, which will be released this October. Gaming is a big thing in my house, and Skylanders has been a favourite for several years, so this really was a treat and a half.

We even got some smiles at 6.30am in an almost empty Piccadilly Station, Manchester. Our own personal Turbo-boy was naturally already raring to go...

Friday 10 June 2016

Littlest Pet Shop: Lights, Camera, Fashion DVD Review and Giveaway

It's been a while since their last outing, but Blythe and her gang of pet pals are back when Littlest Pet Shop: Lights, Camera, Fashion struts onto DVD and Digital Download on 13th June. Fashion is now the order of the day, and all of the cattiness that competition brings out in some people...and animals...

We reviewed the last Littlest Pet Shop DVD release, Lights, Camera, Mongoose!, and since then Blythe really has proven herself as the trendy teen and talented fashion designer. She has managed to keep her ability to talk to the pets a secret, and enters them into a ‘Terriers and Tiaras’ talent show.

Children's Celebrity Drawing Quiz (Just For Fun).

I love children's artwork, I've examples from the past 10 years all over the walls, noticeboards and fridge in my house. The way children draw people is fascinating to me, and I spent a lot of time looking at that rather than actually studying when I was at college doing Child Language Acquisition.

I've even gone so far as to have one of my children's drawings embroidered onto a bag, and I've posted my children's pictures on my blog regularly with a huge degree of pride and a big smile.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Family Lunch at Bill's Restaurant, Trafford Centre, Manchester

I'd heard great things about Bill's, so when we were given the opportunity to review I was really pleased. The Trafford Centre want the children's opinions about the food there, so on this occasion it was my 6 year old who was giving his view. He was really on form...thankfully when we arrived they offered to seat us in a booth...

The Children's Menu was easy for my Year 1 boy to read himself. Full of recogniseable food that children will know and understand - children aren't often as keen on surprises when they eat as adults are, so this was great. He was especially impressed that dessert was Chocolate Brownie AND Ice Cream.

Father's Day Gift Guide 2016

Father's Day this year falls on Sunday June 19th - so you still have more than 10 days to choose that perfect gift. Here are a selection of my favourites from what's on offer this year...

Memories are precious to Dads, and they can be emotional, hilarious or just make him proud. Cheerz have an awesome range of gifts including their letterbox sized Cheerz Box which starts at £16 for 30 beautifully packaged prints delivered. We also reviewed their Retro Magnets at £17.50 for 12 awesome magnetic prints delivered to your door. Our Cheerz photogifts review is here...

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Loony Quest: The Lost City Expansion Game Review (age 8+)

We've been playing Loony Quest for a couple of months now, and this very different 'board game' has proven a massive hit in our house. Just as much fun for my 7 year old as it is for the teenagers and adults, it plays through levels like a platform video game, beating the bad guys and collecting bonus points as you try and survive to the end. All the best video games have expansions to give you a little bit more, and so does Loony Quest.

We've been sent the Loony Quest: The Lost City Expansion. This is an add-on pack, so you need the original game (here's our Loony Quest Game Review) in order to play the Lost City levels.