Wednesday 21 September 2016

What I've Won - August 2016

I honestly cannot believe that we are another month into 2016. I'm already planning Christmas and I can still remember last Christmas like it was yesterday - can time slow down please? Speaking of Christmas, now is when I really try my hardest to win bits that I can include in with Christmas gifts. I usually have a budget when it comes to giving gifts and anything that I win can be added in as extra. I don't want to be completely cheap!

Anyway, as we are now well into September (sorry this post is so late!), here's what I won last month.

1) Babyblooms pregnancy milestone cards (RRP £10.00) from My Petit Canard
I entered these to send to Jenna at Chic Geek Diary. I've known about her pregnancy from the start so I'd been trying to win her baby bits. They are absolutely beautiful.

2) Um Bongo goodies from Um Bongo
I won these in a simple comment giveaway on Facebook. I wasn't sure what I'd receive but C loves the cups and keyrings and now that I'm writing this, I realise that I haven't yet spent the vouchers! I haven't had Um Bongo since I was a kid!

3) Suicide Squad t-shirt and temporary tattoos (£20.00) from Empire Cinemas
 Harley Quinn is my favourite ever comic book character so I was desperate to win some merchandise from the Suicide Squad movie. Empire Cinemas were hosting quite a few Suicide Squad giveaways on their Twitter page so I was over the moon to win. I wasn't sure what kind of t-shirt they'd send and expected that it would be a men's one that I'd have to give to Chris. Imagine my delight when it was a Harley Quinn one and in my size too! I can't say I'll use the temporary tattoos myself but C will like them.

4) Disney Infinity figure (RRP £6.99) from Mega Mag
 Mega Mag were giving random prizes away for about a week on Twitter and I won one! I will be giving this as a gift.

5) Harley Quinn Funko Pop (RRP £9.99) from UK Film Reviews
After winning the Suicide Squad items above, winning this was just amazing! I've recently started collecting Funko Pops so she's fitting in nicely. This was a really low entry Facebook giveaway that I actually found via Instagram. The company had promoted it on there under the #competition hashtag. I had been spending quite a bit of time looking on there for low entry comps (and quickly scrolling past the *ahem* adult images) and it seems to be paying off.

6) Suicide Squad hat and playing cards (RRP £20.00) from LA Muscle
This was another Facebook one that I found through Instagram. It was low entry and there were five winners!

7) Babymel snack pouch and Sophie the Giraffe keyring from Babymel
 Babymel hosted a lucky dip giveaway through Woobox on Facebook. There were 50 winners and to be honest, I'd forgotten I'd entered until I got the winning email! I didn't know what I'd be receiving but the little keyring is cute and the snack sack will be great for when we are out with the kids.
8) Personalised book (RRP £9.99) from I Just Love It
I won this on Instagram in a simple follow, like and comment giveaway. I'm not going to post a pic as I'm giving it as a gift - sorry!

9) 3 month American candy subscription (RRP £20.97) from A Taste of the States
 I absolutely love American candy so this is such a brilliant win! I'm really excited to receive my first box. They run tons of competitions on Facebook so check them out.

10) A pack of XXX Mints (RRP £1.49) from XXX Mints
 XXX Mints were giving away so many of their packs of mints throughout the 2016 Olympics. All you had to do was comment on any of their posts with your support messages for Team GB.

11) Rose gold bracelet (RRP £15.00) from Jon Richard
 I have been entering Jon Richard giveaways on Facebook and Twitter for ages and couldn't believe it when I finally won. I'm saving it for when Chris and I get married as it will match my dress beautifully.

12) Miffy dinner set (RRP £18.50) from Miffy UK
 Miffy had a Twitter party and as much as I worry I'll be wasting time for nothing - I won! E absolutely loves Miffy so it was time well spent.
13) Pregnancy milestone cards (£13.95) from The Bump Company
 Yep - I won more! I will be gifting these :)

14) Elsa print (RRP £17.50) from Looby Doo Letters
 This was a giveaway that was being run over both Facebook and Instagram. You could choose any Disney Princess and the print is actually made up of little butterflies. Of course I had to choose Elsa as E loves her!

15) Tealight holder from Aldiss
 I love winning homewares and I love having candles around the house. This was a Twitter follow and retweet win. I really like that it's a natural colour so I can put it anywhere.

16) Lily O'Briens chocolate hamper (RRP £32.70) from Attachment Mummy
 I am a massive chocoholic so this is amazing! I have to admit that there isn't much of it left. It's dangerous being left at home with me! I'd never actually tried Lily O'Briens before but it's delicious and I'll definitely buy it again.

17) Gold bow (RRP £3.00) from Marylin's Crafts
 As you all probably know I am forever buying E bows. This was a flash giveaway being run on Facebook which meant it was super low entry!
18) Craft glitter (RRP £14.00) from Trimcraft
I won this on Instagram in one of their Win It Wednesday giveaways. All I had to do was leave a comment saying what I'd use them for. 
19) Fake tan (RRP £12.48) from Make Believe
This was another Instagram comment win. I'm not a big wearer of fake tan but my sister is so I've gifted these to her!
20) Thomas the Tank Engine scooter (RRP £19.99) from Thomas & Friends magazine
 This was a surprise win that turned up. I'd entered it from Thomas & Friends magazine via a postcard in C's name. How amazing!
21) Cupcake toppers (RRP £5.00) from Lemonade Occasions
 I won these just in time for E's birthday! They are super cute and perfect for a little princess. 
22) A handmade oilcloth bib/apron (RRP £6.00) from Dolly and Beau
 I won this from an Instagram store in a loop giveaway. It's not yet arrived but it will be perfect for E when she's painting.
23) Flower girl dress (RRP £49.99) from Roco Clothing
 This was another Instagram comment win. I couldn't believe my luck! I'm getting a little ahead of myself as Chris and I aren't even engaged yet so I got it in a few sizes up - haha!
24) Crocs Finding Dory bundle (RRP £142.93) from Rock N Roller Baby
 Oh my goodness, what an amazing prize bundle! The kids (especially E) are obsessed with their new Dory Crocs and the Vue cinema cards are worth £50!
25) Brief Encounters boxset (RRP £12.99) from Noctis Mag
 I loved watching this series on ITV on Monday nights and I knew when it ended that I wanted a copy of it all on DVD. Totally chuffed that I managed to win it!
26) Friyay t-shirt (RRP £15.50) from Lennie & Co
 I've been a follower of Lennie & Co on Instagram for a while now but hadn't yet bought any of their items. I was so thrilled to win this and I might actually buy some matching ones for me and E!
27) Date night box (RRP £30.00) from Just Us Box
 I am so excited to receive this! Chris and I find it hard to have proper date nights with two little ones so I can't wait to try it out.
28) Cowshed skincare bundle (RRP £25.00) from Glossybox
 Another Instagram win! This was a comment and tag a friend one. I am not big on my skincare but I really need to start so this is a lovely one.
29) Doodle Girl book (RRP £5.99) from Toppsta
 Hooray - a Toppsta win! Usually I win C books so E was pleased that this one was for her. It has a pull out page to colour in which she really enjoyed.
30) Mint Chocolate tea (RRP £4.25) from Jollybrew
 I love my tea so to find a mint choc flavour is amazing! They included an additional Earl Grey bag too which was so lovely!
31) Gruffalo game (RRP £9.99) from Suburban Mum
C has loved the Gruffalo from a young age and I've really wanted to get him playing more games so this will be perfect for him. He'll really enjoy it.
32) Lion Guard mask from Disney Junior
 I won this in one of the tea parties that Disney Junior host on Facebook every Tuesday. It may just be a cardboard mask but the kids love it!

So, in August 2016 I won 32 prizes worth £554.19 and because I love comparisons - in August 2015 it was 24 prizes worth £229.29 and 5 prizes worth £119.82 in August 2014 so we're going in the right direction!

Did you win anything nice last month?
Monday 19 September 2016

E is Two!

Two weeks ago my littlest baby turned two. Two years old. I can't quite believe it. C turned two after E was born and he seemed so grown up. E still feels like my little baby and so much smaller than C was then which is ridiculous. She definitely isn't a baby though! She's so feisty, cheeky and never stops talking.

Her second birthday fell on C's first day at preschool. Usually I would have wrapped all of her presents the night before and set them out on the sofa, ready for her to open in the morning. I still wrapped the gifts but hid them in the kitchen instead. I didn't think we'd have enough time to open them before we set off to preschool and I worried that C would want to stay home and play with E's new toys too. C was only in from 9-10.30 so my thoughts were that we'd just open them when we got back. I felt a bit guilty, as though C's first day took preference when really they were both equally as important but at the age of 2 she didn't really know any different.

After we collected C we took the kids round to Chris's mums house. A lot of the family were there, she got lots of presents, cards and money, it was a sunny day and my mum in law got the bouncy castle out. It was like a little birthday party for E! She had the best time and it meant that we didn't get home to open gifts until around 5pm. We had some party food, just the four of us, and she conked out by 7pm! It was a very impromptu day but it turned out to be a fantastic one. 

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Friday 16 September 2016

Little Dish Pots & Pies - Review

As a busy mum of two I can be partial to feeding my children a child-tailored ready meal, especially when we've had a busy day out. We loved Little Dish's previous range so I was so excited to hear that they were launching a Pots & Pies range too.

I was so excited to try these new flavours out with the kids. E, at 2, is the perfect age especially as these are aimed at children aged 1+. The range comprises of some truly traditional meals:
  • Mild Beef Chilli
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Mild Chicken Curry
  • Chicken Pie
  • Fish Pie
  • Veg Ravioli
  • Pasta Bolognese
  • Cottage Pie
  • Chicken & Veg Risotto
  • Beef Lasagne
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
Firstly, the portion sizes are the recommended ones for toddlers. I sometimes worry I'm giving too much at dinner time but these completely eliminate the stress. Each meal is low in salt, contains no added sugar and has at least 1 of your 5 a day.

They can be cooked in either the microwave or oven. I don't have a microwave so, oven it was! They only take 25 minutes to cook that way. When I pierced the film before placing them in, the scent of the meals were absolutely beautiful so I had high hopes for them. When plating them I obviously had to have a little taste and to be honest, they really do taste just like a homecooked meal. The Spaghetti & Meatballs was probably my favourite! I'm usually wary of the meat in ready meals but I enjoyed it and the children did too.

E took a real liking to the Mild Beef Curry - probably because she loves rice! I find rice can be hard to get right but this was cooked perfectly. I couldn't fault it! She enjoyed the inside of the little sleeves too - how cute!

There are a few dishes in the range that we haven't had a chance to try yet but I am so pleased with how delicious, nutricious, quick and easy they are so we will definitely continue buying them in the future.

The Little Dish Pots & Pies range can be found at Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Co-op and Booths and they retail at £2.30 per meal.

(I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.)


Thursday 15 September 2016

TMNT Half-Shell Heroes Squeeze Em's - Review

C loves his typical preschool shows and characters but as he gets a bit older, he is showing more of an interest in superheroes and characters that would typically be for an older audience - one of these being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Flair have recently brought out the Half-Shell Heroes Squeeze Em's and C was so excited to get one. Michelangelo was the Turtle that we received and the kids took an instant shine to him. You press his tummy, his eyes and tongue pop out and he says a phrase. The longer you hold the tummy in, the higher the pitch is. C especially likes holding it in as long as he can - possibly to wind mummy up! Both C and E are always laughing at him burping and saying "Pepperoni!" - you can't have a TMNT toy that doesn't reference their love of pizza! He even comes with two nunchucks. You can see some more of his phrases in the video below.

The figure itself is quite large (9 inches tall) and very well made. The sturdy plastic means it's great for little hands and is very durable too - just what you need with young children. The tummy part is a little softer so that you can hold it in easily. In saying that, E who has just turned two, does struggle a bit but I think she'll pick it up the more she tries. 

The Half-Shell Heroes range is designed specifically for little ones aged roughly between 2-4 years old. Both of my children are in this age range and as I mentioned above, they love it. I think it would make a fantastic Christmas gift. The TMNT Half-Shell Heroes Squeeze Em's can be purchased from leading retailers at a price of £24.99.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 

Tuesday 13 September 2016

C's First Week at Preschool

Back in April, I wrote about C being accepted into our first choice of preschool. We had a feeler session before the summer where he got to have a play in the room and outside area and see what it was all about. He absolutely loved it and all summer he was constantly asking, "Can I go to school today?" so last Sunday he was super excited to go bed knowing that the following day, he'd finally be going.

His preschool staggered start dates as they wanted to get the older children in and settled because they find that the younger children seem more at ease when they come in after. C was to start on the first day as he would be one of the oldest in the class. He was set to do 9.00-10.30 on Monday and Tuesday, 9.00-11.30 on Wednesday and Thursday then Friday onwards would be a full day of 9.00-12.15.

On Monday morning, we woke him at 7. He loves his sleep so he wasn't for getting up until I mentioned school. He bounced out of bed excitedly and couldn't wait to get his uniform on. When we brought him to school, I fully expected to be in tears but I surprised myself, probably because of how calm and collected C was. We had a little Welcome Pack to fill in with C over the summer, one of the activities was getting him to recognise his symbol for where he was supposed to hang his coat. He spotted it right away and hung his coat and schoolbag up. They had everyones symbols Velcro-ed onto the door and as they walked in, they had to choose theirs and put it in a little pouch (sort of like a sign in system). C took his and looked at us for reassurance which made me feel a little sad but once he put it in and said goodbye, he walked in happily with his teacher.

As he was only in for a short time, Chris and I took a walk to get a hot chocolate and by the time we walked back it was time to collect C. E was being very grumpy and refusing to talk to us as she missed him so much! Apparently he had settled in really quickly and the teacher asked if we'd like to leave him a little longer the following day. He came out with a massive smile on his face and couldn't wait to go back the next day.

The second day was equally as good and we were told upon collecting him that he was doing so well that he was ready for full days already. I couldn't believe it. Again, he came out beaming and told me that he'd played with some Peppa Pig toys and had toast and milk. He had tons of pictures that he had drawn for me too - my mother in law warned me to get a massive box for them all! The rest of the first full week went as well as the first two. He was telling me the names of some of his friends but also let me know that the teacher had told him off for running in the classroom!

We go to my parents on a Saturday so he didn't really miss preschool then but he woke at 6.30 on Sunday morning crying his eyes out because he wanted to go. Yesterday, he had a great day and I was so proud that he was taking to school so well.

When I picked him up today, the teacher obviously saw me but called every other child out to their parents before C so I knew he'd done something naughty. We made it 7 days without anything happening which, to be honest, was pretty good going for him. C isn't a naughty child but he can get frustrated and can blow his top quite easily. She told me that C had got a little worked up today and that he was in the Quiet Room. He had destroyed another boy's sandcastle when they were playing in the sandpit. She had asked him to say sorry but he refused and threw a proper kicking and screaming tantrum including throwing sand at other children. I was absolutely mortified when she was telling me. C told her that she had made him upset and angry which she said was good because he was able to communicate his feelings with her. 

When she brought him out to me, he threw his arms around me and sobbed his heart out and told me he wanted to play outside, obviously because he knew he didn't get to finish his outside time. On the walk home, I explained that he needs to listen and do what the teachers say and also be nice to others. He didn't like being taken away from his friends and toys and that would happen again if he was naughty. He calmed down lots and told me that he would be good tomorrow.

Now, understandably, I am worrying about what tomorrow will bring but I'm hoping that he sticks to his promise!

Friday 9 September 2016

Peppa's Alphaphonics Campervan - Review

I have introduced phonics to C in the past by flash cards and paper but with him starting preschool at the beginning of September, I was eager to get him back into learning again. We were given the opportunity to review the Peppa's Alphaphonics Campervan and it was perfect timing. C has loved Peppa Pig since he was little so I knew it would be an instant hit as he'd recognise the characters that he loves.

The Campervan has a slider at the top where you can choose to play one of 8 games such as Try & Spell, What's the Letter?, Find the Letter and Copy Me.

When you have the pointer on the first picture on the slider, you can press any button on the keyboard which has a letter and picture of an item beginning with that letter. When pressed, you will hear, for example, "D is for Dinosaur, rarrr!" and similar sounds for the rest of the letters. We started off with pressing all of these as it got C used to what was on the campervan in full. It was also great for encouraging him to remember the sounds and focus on his concentration.

The second task gives you the phonetic sound of the letters and a word that begins with the letter - "kuh as in kiss". I found that having C press these and copy the sounds for himself helped him recognise letters and words and he was able to remember these himself the next time he played.

The next few games are a little bit more difficult
. Peppa asks you to find a word in one of them so C really had think and pay attention to what we'd learned before. If Peppa asked him to find the van, he had to remember the sound that the word started with then the letter. Finding the first letter of words was probably the hardest for C. I had him repeat what the game asked, specifically sounding the first letter then trying to have him work it out on his own.

    I won't lie, C found some of these a little tough to begin with as generally, he expects these types of button-pressing toys to just play music or say phrases. It took me to sit with him and explain what to do but once I'd told him once, he took to it like a duck to water. Some of them he still does struggle with, especially spelling the full words, and needs help with but I think it's a great introduction to phonics. 

    I love that the campervan has a music button to play the familiar Peppa Pig theme song as it makes it a bit more "fun" rather than just all about learning. There is a repeat button too which C uses quite a lot but it's a great way for me to see that he is really concentrating. The only downsides that I feel the campervan has are, although there is a volume button it is still quite loud on the lowest setting. There also isn't an off switch so if another toy falls on top of it in the toy box, it can be set off then Peppa will repeatedly ask you to pick a button until she realises that it isn't happening and then it goes off on it's own.

    All in all, I think that the Peppa's Alphaphonics Campervan is a great toy especially for getting children ready for school. It's recommended for children aged 3 years+ and it retails at £19.99  

    (We received this item for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)