Saturday 26 May 2018

Posh Paws Chewbacca Collection

Unless you live on another planet, I'm sure you're all well aware that yesterday, 25th May, the new Star Wars movie 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' was released in cinemas. The movie tells the tale of the time that young Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian.

To celebrate the release of the movie, Posh Paws have brought out a new range of Chewbacca (and other Star Wars characters) soft toys. C has been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember so he was delighted to see the new range for himself.

We received:

Chewbacca plays a strong part in the Solo: A Star Wars Story movie, something which my two children are excited about as I think they see Chewie like a big cuddly teddy bear. Posh Paws have really knocked it out of the park with these toys as they are so soft and fluffy.

The 10 inch Chewbacca was instantly stolen by E, just for the cuddle factor. She may only be three years old, but having a brother and father who are so into Star Wars means that she knows the craic and shouted out "CHEWBACCA!" before snatching him and not letting anyone else get a look in.

The 8 inch plush toys of Chewbacca and Yoda are definitely C's favourites. He likes that they are that little bit smaller so he can cuddle them in bed or take them in the car on school run. Additionally, he's been making the two of them interact together in imaginative play. The fur on this 8 inch Chewbacca and the 10 inch one are very different, but still just as snuggly. 

The bag clips are great to add a bit of character and personality to your belongings and C couldn't choose which one he wanted to attach to his bag - so both Chewbacca and R2D2 have a new home. I think these would usually go on the zip but for some strange reason, C's schoolbag doesn't have a loop to attach them to on the zip so we've had to improvise.

The Posh Paws plush collection are all suitable for children aged 2+ and can be found in the characters shown here and also Stormtrooper, Porgs and Darth Vader.

On Friday 1st June, come join in with the #PoshPawsStarWars Twitter frenzy over at UKMumsTV at 1pm where we will be discussing Star Wars, the new movie, this fab range of plush toys and you can even win some for yourself!

You can find out more about the range at the Posh Paws website and 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.)
Thursday 24 May 2018

Pretend Play with the Casdon Deluxe Hetty Cleaning Trolley

We are massive fans of the Casdon brand and my youngest child, three year old E, plays with her toy washine machine and Henry Hoover on a daily basis. She loves pretend play and will always act like she's "mummy" by cleaning up her wooden kitchen, getting into her cosy coupe and telling me, "I'm just off to the shops!"

E was delighted to get her hands on the Casdon Deluxe Hetty Cleaning Trolley set - anything pink and she is in love! It is available in the red Henry style too.

The set contains:
  • Trolley
  • Mop and bucket
  • Long-handled brush
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Toy detergent and spray bottles
  • Cloth
  • Paper bag

The trolley is super easy to put together - I built it and placed the stickers on the bucket, dustpan and bottles in less than 10 minutes which was great as E was very impatient and couldn't wait to get playing. 

The handheld vacuum really works, you just need to insert 3 AA batteries (not included). This is definitely E's favourite item in the set because I think she feels like she's properly helping mummy out, even though it is low suction.

It was absolutely adorable to see her pushing the little trolley around on it's wheels, coming to something which she imagined was dirty then choosing which item to clean it up with. I think it's a great little set to encourage your little one's imaginations but also to get them to like doing some real cleaning.

We have been playing with this set for just over two weeks now and I honestly thought that the cloth and paper bag wouldn't last long. With two children aged five and under, they can be quite rough, so I anticipated the cloth getting dirty beyond belief and the paper bag being ripped to shreds. They have surprised me though and they are still going strong! Although it is made of plastic, it's relatively sturdy and has coped well with my two!

The spray and detergent bottle don't actually work but I'm quite glad about that. E is happy enough pretending that she's spraying then wiping with the cloth. I just know that if I could really fill it, she'd make a huge mess!

I like that every item has it's own place so it is quite compact and can be tidied away in the corner nicely. E has even become a bit meticulous and has to have everything in its place, not choosing another cleaning item until she's put the one she's been using in its rightful place - the Cleaning Trolley is definitely doing its job and teaching her things!

The Casdon Deluxe Cleaning Trolley (both Hetty and Henry styles) retails at £25.00 and can be found at all good retailers, including Amazon. You can find out more at the Casdon website and you can keep up to date with the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 
Thursday 17 May 2018

Name Labels & End of Year Teacher Gifts from Stickerscape

This year is a big year for both of my children. My eldest child, C, will be finishing his first year (Primary 1) of "big school" in June, then my youngest, E, will be starting nursery at the school in September. These occasions require two necessities - an end of year gift for C's teacher and some name labels for E's clothing and belongings. Stickerscape came to my rescue.

I have been a fan of Stickerscape for quite a while now and C even had a personalised Makka Pakka wall sticker from them in his bedroom when he was a tot. I was so excited to see them keep up with the unicorn trend and introduce unicorn themed wall stickers, window stickers and name labels. The name labels had to be first choice for E starting nursery. She is obsessed with unicorns, has an abundance of unicorn toys and even socks and t-shirts with glittery ones emblazoned on them.

The unicorn name labels come in either iron on or stick on style and we received both to try out. Both of the sets have bright yellow, purple, pink, green and blue background colours. I opted for medium size for the stick on ones and beside the name you have a little unicorn themed motif, whether it be a an actual unicorn, rainbow or even a fairy castle. The mini ones that I chose for the iron on labels are a little smaller with the full name across one line (as opposed to two with the medium size) and a cute motif such as hearts, flowers or stars at the side. E loved pointing out each one and telling what they were. She couldn't wait to get them on her clothes and bag!

The stick on ones are really simple to apply, literally peel it off, ensure you are sticking it on a clean, dry surface and hey presto! We've had ours on E's schoolbag for around a week now and it's still well attached. I will be sticking them to her lunchbag and juice cup before she starts too.

The iron on ones were just as easy to attach into her little leggings. Like the stickers, these peel off too but are a little harder to remove, you place it where you want to iron it in (I went for the label) and place the iron sheet over the top - this comes with the iron on set. I put the iron over it for a matter of seconds and it was firmly stuck down - simple! Watch my video below to see it in real time.

I am the type of person who would probably prefer either a stick on label, which aren't great when it comes to clothing as they'll come off after a wash, or a good old fashioned permanent marker because I thought the iron on ones were a bit of a faff. This is totally not the case and I've been converted. They attach in seconds and are much prettier and more recognisable for E who can't yet read so she'll be able to tell which items are hers.

As well as stickers and labels, Stickerscape also have a fantastic range of teacher gifts. I really struggle with what to buy for teachers as I'm sure they have a plethora of "Best Teacher" mugs and I strive to buy something a little bit different, that they maybe wouldn't receive from anyone else. Stickerscape stock gift ideas such as bottle bags, pencil cases and notebooks - some with nice quotes and others can be personalised. 

I opted for a lovely canvas tote bag with "Essential Teacher Stuff" printed on it and "*may contain biscuits" at the bottom. I shied away from a personalised item because I know C's teacher is getting married during the summer so getting her current maiden name on a item wouldn't be worthwhile as she'd get no use out of it, and it would be a bit strange to get her something with her soon-to-be married name.

The bag comes in lots of different colours but I played it safe with a monochrome option. It measures 30 x 30 x 19cm so is relatively spacious. I love that it's a practical item that I hope she will get a lot of use out of rather than just sitting around getting looked at. The handles seem very sturdy so great for carrying lots of books and folders.

All these items are available to buy from the Stickerscape website. The name labels retail from between £7.95 to £16.00, depending on the type and amount of labels you need and the Canvas Tote Bag is £11.95. You can keep up to date with Stickerscape on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(I received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
Thursday 10 May 2018

Planning Our First Family Break Away

I know this might sound surprising but Chris and I have been together for a little over eight years and we have never been away anywhere together, whether that be abroad or staying in the UK. When we first met we were both always working then we had children and then it just never happened. It's definitely one of the things we wished we'd done before children.

That said, we don't have regrets. We don't think that the children stopped us from travelling places but I do think it makes it a little harder when you have a family. We have had occasions in the past where we probably could have gone away but then there has been an unexpected bill or more school uniforms to buy and it's just been a little difficult. I am a very anxious person since having my eldest so travelling with young babies or toddlers kind of gives me the fear! Now that C and E are almost 6 and 4, I know (or hope!) that it would be easy plus I feel that because they are a little older, wherever we go would have a lot more things that are suited to them and their ages.

We live up in Northern Ireland so whilst it would be easy to pack up the car, jump in and drive to Dublin, Donegal, or wherever we fancied, I would love a change of scenery. After following so many fellow bloggers that are based on the mainland and seeing their beautiful Instagram photographs of the areas in which they live, I've mentally compiled a list of some places I'd love to see. London for the tourist sites and the Natural History Museum and the Jurassic Coast are my top two but I know the children would adore Legoland Windsor. Of course, having to cross a large body of water to get there is bound to hike the price up as realistically we'd want to take the car so that involves paying to take it on the ferry then driving to our destination.

I've written before about how I never want to pay full price for anything. If I can find a bargain or way to get something cheaper, I'll find it! I think our biggest cost will probably be where to stay but Groupon have some great savings on UK hotels which could shave a bit off our budget. I don't want to be completely obsessive with money, I will obviously spend what we have to on attractions, I definitely won't choose not to take the children somewhere whilst we're in the vicinity just because I'm worried about how much it costs. If we have travelled that far, I want to make the most of it but wherever I can save, you bet I'm gonna do it!

With the joys of the Internet, it's so easy these days to have a quick search for ways to get cheaper attraction tickets or even read some blog posts from people who have been to these places and will happily share their tips on how to save money. Being able to plan and doing this research has calmed my anxiety and made me realise that travelling with children won't be scary and definitely isn't unrealistic. I'm really excited to push myself out of my comfort zone, try not to worry about what could go wrong and make some lovely memories with my family.

Do you have any tips for travelling as a family or saving money when doing so?
(This is a sponsored post.) 
Tuesday 8 May 2018

Finding a Bargain Summer Wardrobe with LatestDeals

I love a good bargain. If you have been a long time reader of Mum of a Premature Baby, you'll know that my biggest hobby is entering competitions. It's great way to win some nice things that either save you money or luxuries that you probably wouldn't ever treat yourself to. With Chris having a steady income with his job and me only being freelance (so my income can vary massively), I try my best to find bargains and save money where we can. I will always shop around and do online searches to see where I can get things cheaper or try and use voucher codes when I do buy something.

Ever since I became a parent, I fell in love with children's clothing. I love browsing in stores and can't resist picking something up for at least one of the kids every time we go out. Shopping for myself, on the other hand, is completely different. I feel so guilty even thinking about buying clothing for myself because I imagine all the cute and lovely things I could buy for C and E. I think I still wear clothes that I had from before they were born! With summer on the horizon, I'm quickly realising that I can't continue to wear the chunky knit sweaters and abundance of black clothing when the sunshine is out so I have been on the hunt for pretty but affordable summer dresses.

LatestDeals have been a godsend! They have a section specifically for cheap dresses where they compile and link through to retailers who have offers on. As a parent to two young children, I don't really have the time to browse through 20 different sites, then categories just to find something that I might possibly be interested in. LatestDeals pull up the image of the item, price and website that it can be found at all in a matter of seconds. A dream come true for a busy mum like me! You can even sort it by the most recent deals that have been added or the most popular ones. 

I was definitely surprised by some of the prices being shown to me for such beautiful dresses at reputable retailers, it isn't cheap tat. Even as a self-confessed bargain hunter, I don't think I could have found such great deals on my own. I think I'll have a dress for every occasion at this rate! Although they are bargains, I'll probably end up spending more because the deals are too good to pass up - oops! It doesn't count if it's on sale, right?

Are you a bargain hunter too? Share your tips with me!

(This is a sponsored post.) 
Friday 4 May 2018

Getting the Garden Ready for Summer

If you've looked outside recently, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we're in the middle of winter but really, it won't be long before schools have broken up, we (hopefully) have better weather and can spend our time outdoors during the summer. 

We unfortunately don't have a garden but I'm currently helping my mum do hers up so we can spend most of the summer there. She has a great space so there is lots of potential. Although there is a conservatory protruding out into the garden, there is still a patio space and grass area. 

Maximising space
For as long as I can remember, there have been huge trees at the bottom of the garden. Over the years they have become overgrown and unsightly so one thing we have done is completely cut them down. Once they are cleared away, we will have lots more space to work with, only needing a little bit of help to get some grass growing in their place or maybe having flower beds to add a bit of colour. 

Deciding on grass
One decision that has yet to be made, is whether to keep the natural grass which will need maintained a lot or go for an artificial option. 

Artificial grass is becoming really popular these days and doesn't look cheap and plastic - it can look quite natural! It's also perfect because the change in weather where we live won't affect it like it would natural grass. It will keep its gorgeous green colour. 

The best thing about having a garden in the summer is the entertaining so the first thing on the list is getting a barbecue. In past years we would have opted for disposable barbecues when the notion took our fancy but of course, having a permanent barbecue feature is worth investing in and is a lot better because you can't recycle the disposables.

Seating area
You can't play host and entertain without having a place for everyone to sit. I am loving teak garden furniture at the moment. It is a beautiful light shade which is perfect for sunny outdoor days. I do think that any darker shades of wood take away from that summery feel. It can be quite lightweight too so easy to fold up and store if we do get showers! 

A place for children
Of course, my five and three year olds will be enjoying playing in the outdoor space so while we will have the furniture set and barbecue, there needs to be enough to keep them entertained too. 

We have opted to buy bits like football nets, golf and rounders sets but also on our list are a new swing and slide set, a swimming pool for those hopefully hot days and we already have an abundance of ride ons. 

We have been speaking to a landscape gardener that we came across, James from PumaLandscaping about designing it and I hope that by the end of it all, it will be a sanctuary that everyone would enjoy spending time in. 

What things do you do to help get your garden 'summer ready'? 
(This is a sponsored post.)