Wednesday 27 September 2017

Weekend Box with Snazaroo - Review

If you haven't heard of Weekend Box, it is a fornightly subscription box for children filled with items that are fun, educational, engaging and stimulating. They recently teamed up with face paint company Snazaroo to include their items in the Weekend Box. 

I have heard of Snazaroo before but had never actually tried their face paints so I was really excited to give them a go. When the box arrived through the letterbox, I loved that it was so brightly decorated and addressed to my son. He's five and is delighted when he gets post with his name on it.

Inside we found two mini Snazaroo face painting sets - a tiger set and stamper set. There was also some information on entering their Monthly Competition by submitting photographs of your creations. I really like the additional "Meet the Gang" imagery inside, the children enjoyed this little touch - I think my daughter is definitely Hattie and son is Oswald!

My three year old daughter E was desperate to be painted as a tiger so of course, she had to go first. The tiger set has only three steps so even a beginner like myself can follow it easily. You get three different colours: yellow, black and white; a brush and a sponge. All you need to do to use the paints is dip either the sponge or brush in some water and you're ready to go. 

I covered E's face in the yellow first, brushed a little white paint around her nose then used the black for her tiger nose, whiskers and stripes. I don't think I did too bad a job!

C was a little less eager but for a child who has sensory processing issues, I wasn't surprised. He did, however, let me do the stampers on each of his cheeks - a smiley face on one and music notes on the other. He kept them on for a full five minutes whereas E was happy enough to wear hers all night!

After a wash with soap and water, all traces of the paints were removed easily and it didn't seem to irritate either child's skin. They are fragrance and paraben free and are suitable for sensitive skin.

We have had tons of fun with our Snazaroo paints and, if anything, it's made me want to practice my skills a bit more and buy a few other sets!

The Weekend Box that we received is priced at £2.99 which is very affordable and makes for a fun, bonding afternoon between you and your little ones. 

(We received this box for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 
Tuesday 26 September 2017

Plastic vs Glass Greenhouses - which should you choose?

Greenhouses are perfect garden furniture for horticulturists as they allow them to make the most of the seasons, experiment with growing more exotic plants and grow more tender vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes.
There is a range of different glazing options for greenhouses and they all have advantages and disadvantages when compared. The right glazing for your greenhouse will be determined by your requirements, personal preferences, climate and budget.
Together with The Plastic People, retailers of polycarbonate sheets, we look at the pros and cons of creating a greenhouse from plastic or glass:

Fitting a greenhouse

With gardeners keen to grow their own produce in their backyards, greenhouses remain in high demand. Customers first face two choices when they decide that they would like a greenhouse – to build or to buy. Although buying a ready-built greenhouse can save time and energy, purchasing the parts from a supplier and assembling it yourself could save you hundreds of pounds.
Experts at Gardeners World estimate that building your own greenhouse would only take up one weekend too. There are plenty of tutorials online to guide you into building a greenhouse but it consists of five main steps:
  • Ensuring you have a level foundation
  • Assemble each section and attach loosely with clips and bolts
  • Fitting the door runners, the door and any automatic window openers or vents
  • Lining the glazing bars with foam glazing tape or rubber strips to act as a seal. Fit the roof first with glass or polycarbonate sheets and then the wall panes
  • Tighten all the bolts, starting from the top of the fixture
If this sort of DIY is not up your street, alternatively, you can buy one from a garden retailer.

Pros and cons of a glass greenhouse

Gardeners who greatly value the aesthetics of their garden tend to go for glass greenhouses as it gives the ‘traditional’ look. Research by gardeners at The Telegraph found that, compared to twin-wall polycarbonate sheets, glass had a 2-3% higher light transmission. However, this is because the light scatters as it passes through the twin-wall and manages to reach areas that light penetrating through glass cannot which could be advantageous.
One negative of glass is durability. If your greenhouse is in the flight path of any birds or footballs, you could find yourself replacing the panes regularly. Glass is very fragile as a material and can become damaged off a small bump.

Pros and cons of a plastic greenhouse

There are many advantages of introducing polycarbonate panes to your greenhouse. Some polycarbonate sheets, like the ones sold by The Plastic People, were found to be 200x stronger than glass yet half of its weight. This makes the material easier to use and more durable. Due to its hardwearing properties, polycarbonate does not need replacing as much as glass and has been found to be a longer lasting alternative for traditional glass panes. Upon testing (vigorously with a hammer), the plastic sheets were found to be shatter-resistant which is perfect for any mishaps that may occur in assembly or in the garden.
Polycarbonate sheets also filter out nearly all the harmful UV rays that you may become exposed to when gardening in the greenhouse, allowing you to harvest your crop without the fear of sunburn.
If thermal insulation is important to you and key to the growth of your plants, glass is the slightly favourable option. A single sheet of polycarbonate has 0.1 less ‘R’ value (measurement of thermal insulation) than a sheet of horticultural glass. However, this can be solved with a twin-wall polycarbonate panel which assists with useful light diffusion as mentioned.
If twin-wall polycarbonate is your panel of choice, it must be sealed properly as the flutes within the wall can attract moisture, mould and insects – proper assembly would prevent this from occurring.
At one time, a negative property of polycarbonate sheets was clouding over time. However, technological advancements have prevented this from occurring and the sheets remain clear all year round.

So, it appears that polycarbonate sheets could be the new glass when it comes to greenhouse panes. Boasting durability, shatter resistance and light diffusion in all the right places, it is ready to take on any challenge that the UK weather has to offer.


(This is a sponsored post.)
Monday 25 September 2017

Fuzzy Felts from John Adams - Review

Do you remember Fuzzy Felts? These little sets have been around since 1950 so I'm sure almost everyone had a set at some point. John Adams still produce them and I was so excited to introduce my children to the wonder of Fuzzy Felts.

As soon as the box arrived it was like nostalgia hit me smack, bang in the face. I remember having a set (or two!) as a child some 20-odd years ago and after bringing our new set to my parents house, my 15 year old sister gasped and exclaimed, "Remember those?! I loved mine!"

We received the My House Fuzzy Felt set but there are 15 different sets to choose from Dinosaurs to On The Farm to Little Princess. Inside the box you get one A4 Fuzz-Felt board and four sheets of felt pieces. 

Before you begin, you do need to remove the felt pieces from the sheets. I'd advise doing this before getting your children excited about playing. My daughter wasn't particularly happy about having to wait on me getting it set up. They were easy to remove and although I did worry that I'd accidentally rip some, it didn't happen. The felt sheets are four different colours so we had a range of different shapes and colours to use on our board. For example, we had lots of flowers in white, red, blue and green and some shapes only came in the one colour such as the slide and fences.

E was so excited to get creating a picture and as she is only three (the sets are recommended for ages 3-6), I loved that the set comes with a prompt sheet to give you some ideas of the type of picture to make. I gave her a bit of help when it came to making the actual house as you need to use a range of rectangles and triangles to create it and I knew that she wouldn't be able to see the finished picture in her head before she started.

Once the house was ready, she had tons of fun adding the curtains, windows and doors before making a start on the "outside". The set comes with everything you can think of. E was able to put a fence around the house, a pond with swans swimming, trees, a boy going down the slide and a woman watering a plant.

It has been so much fun for me rediscovering Fuzzy Felts but also seeing the excitement of my children and being able to encourage their creativity. I loved that the premise hasn't changed. The felt pieces are still in their traditional silhouette style and I love that even 60 years on, it hasn't been updated. It's still just as a fun as ever! The set comes with over 100 pieces so no matter how many times you play, you can always create different scenes.

The Fuzzy Felt sets are from John Adams and are available to buy from all good retailers at a price of around £10.00.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 
Wednesday 20 September 2017

E, you are three!

Two weeks ago my darling daughter E turned three. I know I say this every time I write an update on the children but time has honestly flown by and I can't believe that she's officially not a baby anymore. I think it's a bit more bittersweet because although I'm loving watching her grow up, it's hard because she is my last baby.

For the first two years of her life we co-slept and absolutely loved it but now she successfully falls asleep herself in her own bed, we've potty trained and she doesn't take a bottle or dummy anymore. Nope, I definitely can't get away with calling her my baby but I'll still do it anyway!

Personality-wise, she is amazing. When she was born, her older brother C was just turning two and I remember thinking, "He is just so funny. No other kid is going to compare." Then E came along. She is forever pulling funny faces, putting on accents to make us laugh and even the lines she comes out with have us in stitches.

Chris and I make an effort not to push gender stereotypical toys on our children and we let them play with what they like. E is a massive girly girl in the sense that she is obsessed with Disney Princesses and loves to do her hair and make up in front of a mirror. As much as she likes donning a dress, she is happiest in a pair of trainers and leggings or jeans, and pretending to be Wonder Woman or Maria Hill to her brother's Nick Fury. Yep, she's a Marvel and DC Comics lover too.

She is very much a diva and can throw a tantrum like no other. I see her huffy face 85% of the day and I've lost count of how many times she told me that she's not my friend anymore. She can be a grump but she is very cuddly and always tells us that she loves us. She and her brother are constantly fighting and bickering but I know that she loves him really and her little eyes light up when he gets out of school and she can't wait to speak to him. E is very into her family. She will always be asking to visit her grandparents and having a cousin who is four months older than her is fantastic. They are like two little old ladies when they get together and it's adorable to watch them interact. They'll always be swapping shoes and holding hands.

E has a brilliant imagination and can keep herself occupied quite easily. Even on car journeys, she'll give each of her hands little personas and make them have conversations. She won't really sit still long enough to read a story which is something that I want to try and work on with her but she has a great vocubulary, understands everything and can speak well. I just want to encourage her a bit more before she starts nursery next September.

I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Barbie Dreamtopia Styling Head - Review

My three year old daughter E is a bit of an all-rounder. She loves superheroes, Star Wars and sci-fi but I can always find her posing and doing her 'make up' in front of a mirror, wanting to wear a princess dress and playing with my hair as it's "so long and pretty."

The Barbie Dreamtopia Styling Head from Flair is perfect to encourage budding stylists like E. E discovered Barbie by playing with my old dolls at her grandparents house then she finally got her first one for her birthday last week. As soon as she opened out the Styling Head, she instantly recognised the Barbie branding and couldn't wait to get playing.

The set comes with the Barbie Styling Head, six hair barrettes (clips), eight pop-in gems, four hair ties and a hairbrush.

The two things that caught E's eye automatically were Barbie's sparkly top and beautiful rainbow coloured hair - I think they added a bit of excitement. Everyone knows that rainbow hair is much better than regular hair!

E got straight in with the brushing but because the base is hollow, E had to make sure that she held it down or vigorous brushing could topple it over. The barrettes each have a little hole that the pop-in gems can be inserted into. These are great to explore a number of colour combinations and E was able to put them in by herself, but did need help taking them out when she wanted to change them. Putting the barrettes into Barbie's hair and closing them was also something that she could do independently.

Hair ties and three year olds don't mix. I've been trying to teach her but I think she's a little bit young for that aspect, but I had a similar styling head when I was young so I am more than happy to get involved and help with that.

E has been having so much fun over the last week or so changing up Barbie's hairstyle. It's great for letting her imagination run wild and having her get creative with hairstyles. I may have also been practicing some hair tutorials on it when she's asleep!

The Barbie Dreamtopia Styling Head retails at £19.99 and is available to buy from Very. There is also a larger Barbie Deluxe Colour Specialist Styling Head in the range where you can decorate Barbie's nails as well as doing her hair.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
Monday 11 September 2017

What I've Won - August 2017

We are now well into September so I am back with a new What I Won installment - this time for August 2017. This month has been pretty decent, I've put a bit more effort into Instagram giveaways and it seems to be paying off.

1) Marshmallow bars (RRP £8.10) from Mallow and Marsh
Mallow and Marsh run giveaways on Twitter every Monday and it was one of the comps that I was desperate to win. After years of trying, I finally won! They are delicious too - especially the raspberry.

2) Bottle of white Rioja (RRP £10.99) from Rioja Wines
Who doesn't love an alcohol win?! Rioja Wines run quite a lot of these on Twitter too. I've yet to try it yet - maybe this weekend.

3) Box of Pip Organic juice (RRP £4.49) from Pip Organic
I won a box of Pip Organic juice on Instagram in a like and comment giveaway. After I won, they informed me that they cannot ship to Northern Ireland so I sent them to my friend Jenna for her son to enjoy.
4) Mum and Baby headbands (RRP £16.00) from Lamb and Bear
Alex from Lamb and Bear is actually a blogger who has her own clothing range. She had a new range released last month and a Twitter party to coincide with the launch. I originally was joining in in more of a "support another blogger" type stance but I ended up purchasing the flamingo leggings that E is wearing in the above photograph, then I ended up winning the matching mum and baby headbands!

5) Caudalie Beauty Elixir (RRP £32.00) from Bath and Unwind
I won this in a simple like and comment giveaway on Instagram. I've heard such amazing things about it.

6) Summer Vibes t-shirt (RRP £15.00) from Awesome Merch
This was a really low entry Twitter win with maybe about 20 entries? It's definitely worth taking the time to search for your own comps.

7) Book (RRP £11.60) from Quercus Books
This was yet another like and comment giveaway on Instagram. I used to read a lot before I had the children and I'm trying to get back into it. This sounds great!

8) Kids t-shirt (RRP £30.00) from Vida Kids PR
I absolutely love this tee but I wasn't sure of the size as it wasn't stated in the competition post. It arrived and it's age 8 so I'll have to squirrel it away for three years!

9) Bath bomb (RRP £4.25) from Amazebomb
This was a win courtesy of my friend Jenna. She won the comp but she tagged me and another friend so we all won! I haven't used it yet but it smells amazing.
10) Ragdoll (RRP £5.00) from Little Lucy Willow
Yep - another Instagram like and comment win. It's super cute and E loves her!

11) Moana costume (RRP £10.99) from Rubies UK
My kids both absolutely adore dressing up so I always enter Rubies comps when I see them on social media. E has loved Moana since we got it on DVD so she'll be thrilled when this arrives.
12) Bamboo muslin squares (RRP £22.69) from Abosca Ireland
I was so chuffed with this Instagram like and comment win as I'm going to gift it. The muslins are super soft!

13) Jelly Belly goodies and £20 Wilko gift card from Jelly Belly
Jelly Belly is another regular competition that I enter weekly and finally managed to win on Twitter! I'm pretty sure it is the Jelly Belly air fresheners that I've won which will be great for Chris's car.
14) £150 People Tree voucher from We Shop Social
I couldn't believe it when I won this on Instagram. I never buy myself new clothes since I had kids so it's lovely to treat myself with wins like this. They have a beautiful range.
15) Box of frozen cocktails (RRP £7.49) from Ice and Easy
I won these in an Instagram giveaway too! Surprisingly, they are still in my freezer and haven't been tasted yet. They look great!

16) Jake and the Never Land Pirates plush and inflatable sword (RRP £13.00) from Disney Junior
Almost every Tuesday, I take part in the Disney Junior Tea Party on Facebook. I was lucky enough to win this little Jake prize. The kids love the show!
17) Soul Food Collective snacks (RRP £6.87) from Soul Food Collective
I won a few bags of snacks in this Twitter giveaway. I love a food win!
18) Smurfs Blu-ray and book (RRP £41.99) from Sony Pictures
Both children love the Smurfs and I am so impressed with the book - it's amazing!
19) Town and Country book (RRP £8.99) from Book Bairn
C and E are massive bookworms so any book win - I'm happy with. This a little turnaround search and find book. I'm sure they'll love it!
20) Tutu dress (RRP £19.00) from houseapop
I won this gorgeous tutu dress in an Instagram like and comment giveaway. Apologies for the rubbish photograph - it's much more beautiful in real life.

21) Taste Inc voucher (RRP £2.99) from Taste Inc
Phew - another Instagram like and comment win. This is just a little voucher for a free pack of their chilled chicken snacks.

22) Hamper of selfie goodies (RRP £314.52) from Hot UK Deals
Holy. Crap. This was an Instagram like and comment win too and I wouldn't let myself believe it until it arrived. How bloody amazing!

23) Bundle of goodies (RRP £15.50) from Jackson Reece
Jackson Reece are another company running regular giveaways (every Friday). With two little ones, these will be so handy.
24) Ben 10 action figure (RRP £9.99) from UK Mums TV
C is a big fan of Ben 10 and has quite a few of their toys from older ranges. He will absolutely adore this!

In August 2017, I won 24 prizes worth a total of £781.45!

I always do a comparison so for the same month in previous years:
August 2016 - 32 prizes worth £554.19
August 2015 - 24 prizes worth £229.29
August 2014 - 5 prizes worth £119.82

Did you win anything nice last month?

Sunday 10 September 2017

From Engagement to Wedding Rings...

Your fiancĂ© has popped the question and now all you’re looking forward to is the big special day and wearing your wedding ring to symbolise the love you have for one another.
With everyone having specific tastes when it comes to wedding essentials, it’s only natural that you want to have a say in what wedding ring you will be wearing to represent your long-lasting marriage. With so many different types of cut, colour, clarity and carat to choose from, it can be a daunting task before the big day arrives. Together with Angelic Diamonds, specialist retailers in solitaire engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings, we provide you with the definitive need-to-knows when it comes to choosing a ring that looks perfect on your finger:

Wedding rings: diamond cut

Your diamond ring is made up of the four C’s; cut, colour, clarity and carat. Cut is the most important feature when it comes to your ring - this is because it has the greatest influence on the diamond’s sparkle, meaning the better the cut, the more the diamond will sparkle on your wedding day.
Your diamond ring can still appear dull, regardless of it having the best clarity and colour grade. The only thing that keeps a diamond from looking dull is its cut.
Everybody wants their wedding ring to sparkle and this comes down to its light performance. So, the perfect ring with an ideal diamond cut will not be too shallow or too deep, and it will allow light to pass through it so that it reflects evenly throughout the diamond.

Wedding rings: colour

When deciding on the ultimate wedding ring, take the colour into consideration. The eye detects sparkle from the diamond cut first, and then detects the colour of the diamond second.
Wedding rings can be expensive and can limit the type of rings you can pick. Choose a near colourless diamond grade between G-H. Colour will not be detected by the naked eye, which will make you and your diamond look perfect on the day, and in the photos. Colour in diamonds appears as a pale yellow, so if this is evident anywhere in the ring you are thinking about buying, we would recommend avoiding it.

Wedding rings: clarity

In a diamond ring, there can often be small imperfections that are regularly referred to as inclusions. The less inclusions in the ring, the better the clarity, which means your wedding ring will shine bright no matter where you are.
It’s not a big deal if there are some imperfections visible – they won’t be seen easily when you’ve got it on your finger. By purchasing an SI (slightly included) quality diamond, you’re able to buy something visually stunning, without having to pay the cost of a diamond that contains no inclusions and no imperfections.

Wedding rings: carat

Many brides believe that the carat of your wedding ring refers to the diamond’s size, and not its weight. This isn’t the case – so try to keep this in mind when choosing the ideal ring for your wedding.
When it comes to your wedding ring, the cut will change how the carat weight looks. You need to be able to get a good balance of both and this will not only guarantee the turning of heads on your wedding day, but also give you the shine that makes it sparkle.

Extra tips that are good to know

Other factors to consider when trying to pick the perfect ring for your wedding are as follows:
  • If carat weight is important to you, consider a diamond with a good cut, with an SI1-SI2 clarity and an I or J colour grade.
  • Keep in mind that based on the size of your finger, the larger the diamond will appear.
  • Not all ring fittings will fit all diamond carats and shapes, so it’s important to consider what type of diamond shape you’d like before choosing its design. 
     Hope these tips help!
    (This is a sponsored post.)
Friday 8 September 2017

Twirlywoos Fun Sounds Big Red Boat & Great BigHoo Review

As a mum of two aged 5 and under, CBeebies has been a staple in our house. The children both have their favourite shows to watch on the channel with one of those being Twirlywoos. I actually remember seeing the first advertisements for this new show and both C and E quickly fell in love with it. The characters are lovable, it's educational and hilariously funny - everything you can ask for from a TV show.

With every TV show, comes character merchandise. The majority of toys in our house are character related and Golden Bear Toys have a lovely range of Twirlywoos toys for fans of the show. We received the Fun Sounds Big Red Boat and Fun Sounds Great BigHoo to test out.

E was beside herself with excitement and couldn't wait to get playing. Both toys are small enough for the hands of small children and, if your children are anything like mine, the fact that they makes noises is the selling point.

The detail of the Big Red Boat is perfect and exactly what it's like on the TV show. If you roll the wheels along the floor you can hear ocean sounds or push down on the boat mast to hear three different boat sounds. The stickers with the Twirlywoos characters in the window are a very nice touch.

Fun Sounds Great BigHoo was a massive hit with both C and E. He is their favourite Twirlywoos character and this soft toy is great for cuddles. If you squeeze his belly, he makes six different sounds.

The Big Red Boat is suitable for children aged 18 months+ while the Great BigHoo is for ages 10 months+. My two children are 3 and 5 and still absolutely love playing with them together so I feel that they are toys that will last and be enjoyed for a long time.

You can purchased both toys from all major retailers at a price of £14.99 for the Fun Sounds Big Red Boat and £14.99 for Fun Sounds Great BigHoo. Youcan find out more about the Twirlywoos range of toys at the Golden Bear Toys website or you can keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Mokuru Desk Toy; the new fidget spinner? | Review & Giveaway

If you're a parent - or maybe even if you're not - the fidget spinner craze earlier this year will not have passed you by. C owns two fidget spinners himself and if you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that we are currently awaiting an ASD assessment for C, so they have been a great help to keep his hands occupied when he is sitting down.

I first heard of the MOKURU desk toy when I saw them with the fidget spinners in our local Smyths Toys store but I didn't really study the packaging to see what exactly they were. They've come from Japan and are said to test your creativity and help dexterity. It's made from beech wood so it's very light and at 9cm long, it is the perfect size to fit comfortably in your hand.

It took us a little while to get to grips with how to use it and to be honest, we are still learning! Each end of the MOKURU has a rubber circle so when you stand it up and tap against one side you are able to flip it across the table. This is a good starter task but when you have mastered that, you can keep trying new techniques to keeping your mind active and focused.

We've been watching some YouTube videos of MOKURU whizzes and we are nowhere near that stage yet - it's amazing what you can do with this tiny little toy if you really put your mind to it and concentrate. Aside from the tips and flips, C has liked to spin it on the table when it's on its side. He gets really excited with flappy arms and straightened out legs so you can tell that he's really enjoying it.

The MOKURU comes in seven different colours; genbu, byakko, seiryu, kirin, suzaku, inazuma and, the one we've been testing out, matcha. They are available to buy for £9.99 from all major retailers and are suitable for ages 3+.

I have two of these nifty little toys up for grabs so if you want to win one for yourself, just enter via the Gleam widget below. The MOKURU that is sent will be at random, I cannot specify colour.

  • Two winners will win one MOKURU desk toy of a random colour
  • The giveaway will run from 8th September until 22nd September
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries
MOKURU Desk Toy giveaway
(We received a MOKURU for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)