Monday 31 August 2020

Nipper Cards: Affirmation Cards for Children - Review & Giveaway

 [AD/Gifted - We received this product for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link on this page, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.]

I've spoken briefly on the blog before about my eldest child's autism diagnosis. He is a brilliantly clever kid but can be very hard on himself and tends to focus on negatives rather than positives. When I first heard about Nipper Cards, I thought they seemed perfect for him.

Created by Nipperbout founder Janthea Brigden, Nipper Cards are a powerful and fun way to help children understand their feelings and affirm their belief in themselves.

They come in beautiful bright purple packaging and there are 52 cards, just like a regular deck of playing cards. Each card has an animal on it which corresponds to the type of card it is.

  • Transformation
  • Fear
  • Power & wisdom
  • Grace & intuition
  • Creativity
  • Joy & love of life
  • Teaching
  • Magic
  • Innocence & fun
  • Dreaming
  • Breath of life
  • Gathering & storing
  • Gentleness
Each animal then has four messages which reflect both sides of that quality. For example, the fear cards also incorporate courage as they are opposites.

You can use these card in many different ways and there are some game ideas on one of the cards included in the pack, such an Animals Families and Snap. We started with a simple Memory Game.

I laid all of the cards face down and we took turns turning them over to see if we could get two matching animal families. 

I took this time to ask C to read what was on the card that he turned over and they are just so beautiful. I think each child should have a set of these cards. On occasion, C, who is usually quite negative about himself, would say, "Oh, that's definitely me!" which really made me smile.

It wasn't your usual memory game as each card would open up a discussion for us. I would ask if he understood the question and if not, we could chat about what he thought it meant and I could explain fully. They have definitely been a positive influence on him and we have even added into our family game night for a little boost.

You can purchase your own Nipperbout Affirmation Cards from Amazon for £9.99.

Want to win a set of your own? Enter via the Gleam widget below!

  • Giveaway runs from August 31st until September 6th at 23:59
  • One winner will win one set of Nipperbout Affirmation Cards
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries

Nipperbout Affirmation Cards
Sunday 30 August 2020

Soothing the Smallest with Sudocrem x Ickle Pickles (+ giveaway!)

Every year, 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely or unwell, that's 100,000 babies every single year. These babies need to spend weeks, sometimes months in neonatal care units before they are strong enough to leave. Neonatal intensive care costs the NHS £1,500 per day and many hospitals do not have the equipment to care for extremely preterm babies. My own son was seven weeks premature and spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit then a week in the Special Care Baby Unit and I could not be more grateful for the care that we received.

My Ickle Sudocrem from SatellitePR on Vimeo.

This summer, Sudocrem and premature baby charity Ickle Pickles are teaming up to raise funds for the vital neonatal equipment premature babies so desperately need. In honour of the partnership a new, limited edition pot of 'My Ickle Sudocrem' has been created and will be sold in Boots and Tesco stores across the UK for six weeks from the 26th August. With each sale of the 'Ickle Pot', 50p will be donated to the Ickle Pickles charity. An historic event for the brand, Sudocrem have never before adapted their classic packaging for a charity campaign such as this.

A typical ventilator costs £25,000, the equivalent of 50,000 little pots. While this may sound like a lot, Sudocrem have enlisted the help of Laura Tobin, the nation's favourite weather presenter, and Georgia Jones, creator of the BUMP YouTube channel and wife to Danny Jones, to spread the word and give the campaign that extra push. Both Laura and Georgia hold the cause close to their hearts: Laura's daughter was born prematurely, as was Georgia's niece. The pair will be doing their utmost to raise awareness of how the public can get involved at home.

Laura says, "No parent should be separated from their child at such a worrying time, which is often what happens when their local hospital doesn't have the right neonatal equipment. Ickle Pickles are a fabulous charity and the more money we can raise for them, the better. It's thanks to the equipment they're fundraising for that Charlotte is the healthy, happy baby she is today."

"When Sudocrem approached me to be involved with Soothing the Smallest, I was delighted. A lot of the work I do is about raising awareness around parenting issues - the good, the bad and the messy - so the campaign was just a natural fit for me," says Georgia Jones. "I'll be doing my best to support it for the duration!"

How can you get involved?

Most importantly, buy a 'My Ickle Sudocrem' pot from your local Boots or Tesco! Every purchase means 50p to Ickle Pickles.

Who said only teddy bears have picnics?

Soothing the Smallest launches with a nationwide panda-themed picnic. Inspired by the UK's love of picnics, plus taking into account necessary precautions of lockdown, Georgia and Laura will kick it all off by launching their own panda picnic to show us how it's done. Those who want to get involved only have to pack up their picnic baskets and head out to the nearest patch of green for some relaxation - and don't forget to bring a panda too. Share the picnic on social media, tagging #soothingthesmallest and who knows? Perhaps a new record will be set for the most panda picnics held in one day! You also have the chance to win a giant panda and picnic hamper if you share your picnics on social media with #soothingthesmallest and #pandapicnic

I'm giving away 3 panda cuddly toys to help out families who don't have a panda of their very own. Laura, Georgia and Sudocrem will also be giving some away on their social media. With the aim to get as many families out there picnicking, Ickle Pickles charity founder, Rachael Marsh suggests inviting another family along for a suggested donation of £5 to the Ickle Pickles JustGiving page. Social distancing rules apply, of course!

"At Sudocrem, we take soothing families extremely seriously, which is why we're so excited about the upcoming Soothing the Smallest campaign. After all, isn't is these tiny, premature babies and their families that need our help the most?" says Nick Lang, head of OTC marketing at Sudocrem. "The aim is to raise enough over the six weeks to be able to help Ickle Pickles in a meaningful way."

"Spreading the word is easy," Nick continues. "We're asking everyone to get involved in whatever way they can. Share details of Soothing the Smallest on Instagram, visit the Sudocrem website and, most importantly, support the campaign by purchasing one of the 'My Ickle Sudocrem' pots."

To be in with a chance of winning 1 of 3 cuddly pandas, just enter via the Gleam widget below.


  • Giveaway runs from 30th August until 13th September at 23:59
  • Three winners will win one cuddly panda toy
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries

Sudocrem x Ickle Pickles Panda giveaway
Thursday 27 August 2020

The Importance of a Good Sleep Routine

[AD - This is a paid collaboration with TEMPUR®.]


The past six months or so have been really strange for us all. When lockdown restrictions came into force, we went from going to school and work to being taught at home and being put on furlough. I basically became a home educator overnight!

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I posted about our daily homeschooling through Instagram stories. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to stick to a routine because when things got back to normal, or as normal as they can be now, it would be hard to get back into the swing of things again.

I drew up and printed a timetable for the living room wall for both children so that they knew what to expect from the day. It really helped that the school teachers communicated with us each morning with a rough timetable too. We started our days with PE with Joe, releasing endorphins and getting us "pumped", as my almost eight-year-old son would say, for the rest of the day.

Having these timetables eliminated the element of surprise, reducing their stress and it is something that I was keen to stick to mostly because my son is autistic. With a routine, we could keep his day as easy as possible. The "school" day would finish around 2.00pm so they were free to play and do as they pleased until the bedtime wind down.

Again, I wanted to keep this consistent because if I didn't, getting up for school in the mornings come September would be a shock to the system if bedtimes were all over the place in the summer. I am back to work now too so there are days where they need to get up early to stay with grandparents while both my partner and I are at work.

C and E are 7 and 5 respectively, and although they are not babies, a bedtime routine was and still is really important to us. We eat dinner around 5.30pm and afterwards they will take baths. I will allow screens or TV time for one child while the other is taking their bath but afterwards, all screens are off. From past experience, they find it very hard to shut their brains off at the end of the day if they have been playing on tablets or watching TV right up until they go to bed.

They can then choose whether they would like to play with toys (LOL Surprise dolls are usually E's choice) or read a book quietly on their own (this is usually C's choice). They will then have a glass of milk before brushing their teeth and flossing.

For the time being, they are sharing a bedroom with bunk beds so we will all go upstairs, and I will read a story to the both of them before it is lights out. This brings us to around 8.30pm. 

Keeping to my own bedtime routine is important too, especially if I am working the next day. We actually purchased a new bed and mattress at the end of March, right at the beginning of lockdown, spending a lot of time deciding which base was best and consulting a mattress size guide to visualise what would fit into the space we had. We ended up settling on a divan with a tall mattress so we spent the first week or so feeling a little queasy as it was so high off the ground!

I am an avid reader, so I use the screen rule for myself too. I'll more than likely fall asleep in the middle of a chapter or drop my Kindle on my face because I've nodded off. I don't include the Kindle under the screen umbrella as I can adjust the brightness!

Not having bright screen in our faces, getting the recommended eight hours of sleep and sleeping on comfortable beds mean that we are all feeling refreshed and raring to go in the mornings.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Smoby Chef Corner Restaurant - Review

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

My children have always loved roleplay toys and as they get older, it's definitely harder to find playsets that suit. Enter the Smoby Chef Corner Restaurant.

It's targeted towards children aged 3-8 as the height can be adjusted, meaning that my 5 and 7 year olds could play easily.

When it first arrived, I was a bit taken aback by the size of it and also anxious about putting it together. The instructions state that it should take two people 1.5 hours to build, I attempted it on my own and it took 3 hours. It wasn't difficult but definitely get an extra body if you can!

The play possibilities for this restaurant are fantastic. It is just like a real restaurant with a small till area, complete with card machine, receipts and working calculator. My children love visiting restaurants so they were very excited to get to act out their own restaurant scenarios.

In the kitchen area, you are supplied with over 70 accessories from plates, cups, different types of foods, lots of pots and utensils and E especially loved that the pasta changed colour in warm water. The sink has a real water function but we had a bit of a leakage situation with that one! I love that you even have little order cards to stick up in front of the cooking area just like a busy restaurant would have.

There is an espresso machine and the hob makes real bubbling sounds when you place a pot on it! It is fully immersive and it feels like nothing has been left out. I love the addition of the carrot that can be chopped!

The little restaurant table that attaches onto the side of the kitchen is like nothing I've seen before when it comes to toy kitchens and it is nice to incorporate the two. 

C and E both spend so much time playing with the Smoby Chef Corner Restaurant, taking it in turns with who will be the customer and who will be the worker and they love building the burger or putting toppings on the pizza. It is made of plastic but is very sturdy and it means that the kids can have fun playing with it in the garden when the sun is out.

I can definitely see this being a popular toy this Christmas and I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly recommend it.

You can purchase the Smoby Chef Corner Restaurant from Argos for £150.

The Cure by Glenn Cooper - Review

The Cure by Glenn Cooper - 3/5 ★★


If you catch it, you forget everything. Your only hope is the cure...

Dr. Jamie Abbott is a Boston-based neurologist and single parent who has made a key contribution to a novel gene therapy treatment for Alzheimer's Disease. When Steadman, the principal investigator, short-circuits study safeguards, a highly contagious virus is released that wipes out the memories of its victims, leaving them hopelessly vulnerable and untethered. One of the early victims is Jamie's teenage daughter. As the virus spreads and civil order breaks down, Jamie, who possesses half of the potential cure for the pandemic, embarks on a dangerous cross-country journey.

He needs to reach his lover, Dr. Mandy Alexander, a virologist who has the other half of the cure, to save not only his daughter, but also most of mankind from the oblivion of total amnesia. Along the way, he finds a landscape littered with the best and worst of humanity. But he also finds his own inner strength to do what's needed to protect his daughter and to survive.


I was instantly attracted to this book based on the premise - a fast-spreading disease and the urge to find a cure.

The Cure opens strongly with an elderly Japanese woman called Mrs Noguchi who has Alzheimer's Disease. She is the 'Patient One' who is trying a new drug to potentially cure Alzheimer's. Her grandson visits from Japan and inadvertently spreads a virus to her which reacts with the drug, causing a new virus to form. The virus causes memory and language loss. This then spreads around the hospitals, towns and cities at a very quick pace. 

Boston-based Dr Jamie Abbott is one of the doctor's looking into this disease and ends up with half a cure. One of his colleagues based in Indianapolis has the other half. His teenage daughter and her friend contract the disease so he is eager to get to Indianapolis to save her and as much of humanity as he can.

Reading this during the coronavirus pandemic was very strange and a lot of the situations were reminiscent of that. Obviously, this disease is a lot worse with most people dying, meaning that hospitals, food shops and police stations are closed followed by electricity companies so it seems like the end of the world.

It is a slow-paced book which I struggled with; I always like to feel a sense of urgency that pushes you to read on. There are a multitude of characters which can get a little confusing and all of which you love to hate. It is an interesting premise but a bit long and a little off the mark for me.

Thank you to Aries Fiction for inviting me to view an eBook copy for review.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Cutetitos Fruititos - Review

(AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

If you haven't heard of Cutetitos Fruititos yet, they are fun little plush toys wrapped in a blanket burrito. That was the extent of my knowledge of them based on what my daughter E had told me. She would see them advertised on TV all the time so she was very excited to get her own to open!

Each Cutetito is wrapped in outer packaging then when you've opened that, you can see the blanket colour but not what animal is inside as it is wrapped in fruity printed paper, adding to the surprise element. They are essentially blind bags but the packaging is much more fun. The scents are super strong and sweet - we love a scented toy!

There are four collections: Fruity and Berry Fruity (which are both Common), Extra Fruity (which is Rare) and Super Fruity (which is Super Rare). Each collection has three different animals in it, meaning that there are twelve to collect.

Once you have opened up the Cutetitos fully, the animals have a little fruit spot which helps you determine which collection they are from. 

E basically raced through opening the three that she received. Once you take the paper off, you can see their cute little faces and then unwrap the blanket. This is fastened by Velcro so it is easy to wrap back up again. The blankets are block colour on the outside but have a fruit theme on the inside. You also get a card inside to tell you all about your new animal with information like its name and birthday.

E received Puffito who is a chinchilla from the Fruity collection, Rainbowito who is a unicorn from the Berry Collection and Goldito who is a fruit bat from the Super Fruity collection - yes - a super rare! E was beside herself with excitement about that one. Look at that smile!

Since opening, E has slept with them in her bed ever since because they have the softest fur. She absolutely loves snuggling up to them and I think the scent is actually soothing. 

Cutetitos Fruititos are available to buy from Smyths Toys for £7.99 and are perfect for children aged around 5-7 years. We will definitely be buying some more and trying to complete our collection!

Saturday 22 August 2020

I Am The Night by Ethan Cross - Review

I Am The Night by Ethan Cross - 4/5 ★★★★

Marcus Williams and Francis Ackerman Jr. are both killers. But while Williams is tortured by the deaths he has caused, Ackerman takes pleasure in his murders.

Williams is a former New York City homicide detective.

Ackerman is a serial killer.

And both men are about to become unwilling pawns in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of US government. They will be plunged deep into a hellish underworld of murderers and killers. They will find that there is more that connects them than divides them...and that their lives depend on it.

The book opens strong with a murder which grips you right from the beginning. We then learn that the murderer is Francis Ackerman Jr, a well known serial killer. We follow a few of his kills and also the story of Marcus Williams, an homicide detective who has recently lost his job. Both of these men are more similar than they seem.

There is so much that goes on in this book and it is full of action. It is a proper cat and mouse chase and there is never a dull moment. I could definitely see it as a horror/action movie. Just when you think you are at the crux of the action, something else happens that leaves you in awe. It is really well written and everything comes around full circle.

This is the first book in the Ackerman series and it is a great introduction to him. We are given a deep backstory into the complexities and intricacies of his mind and why he kills. Most thrillers I read are series' based on the police officers hunting the killers but it is interesting to see it from the other side. I will definitely be picking up the rest of the books in series!

Thank you to Aries Fiction for inviting me to view an eBook copy for review.

Monday 17 August 2020

My Book Of Feelings by Nicola Edwards | Children's Book Review

(AD/ Gifted: We received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link on this post, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.)

I think it is very important to teach children about what their feelings mean, how to express them and how to understand them. No matter what age you are, your feelings are valid.


Does playing in the snow make you happy? Maybe you worry about visiting the dentist? Use the colourful emoji spinner and mirror to put a face to your feelings!

This interactive book helps you to navigate the world of emotions with your child. Explore a range of interesting and emotive topics together and delve into what feelings really mean.


This book is aimed at children between 3-5 but I wanted to review it for my 5 and 7 year olds because I thought it would be a great learning topic. My 7 year old is autistic and does struggle with emotions so it has been wonderful to have a visual to explain them.

The book starts by explaining emotions and you can twist the emoji spinner to see what those feelings look like. It doesn't just use language like "happy" and "sad", we also have synonyms like "joyful" and "disappointed".

As you work through the book, we have pages of questions relating to different subjects such as how different types of weather or different experiences make you feel. It is packed full of questions so it is really interactive. I would ask the questions and the children would either pull a face to convey the emotion or spin the spinner to show me. I love the little mirror at the end of the book where they are able to show the emotion that they currently feel and see what it looks like.

My Book Of Feelings is part of the Montessori-inspired 'My World' range so you can also buy 'The Touch Book', 'How Many Beads?' and 'ABC Nature'.

Thank you Little Tiger for our review copy.

Saturday 15 August 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | True Story by Kate Reed Petty

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link in this post, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.)

True Story by Kate Reed Petty - 5/5 ★★★★★
After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they'll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick - a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by - will never forget.

That's just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other - some real, some invented - until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.

Oh my goodness, what a book! I am the type of person who looks at the Goodreads reviews of a book before I start it and the first review I read said that True Story is "best enjoyed by going in blind". Once I saw that, I closed Goodreads and got stuck in. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree.

The story is split into five parts.
Part one describes the backstory of a group of lacrosse players. One boy, Nick, has a bit of a thing for a girl called Haley who hangs around with them. After a party, two players (Max and Richard) drive Alice, a drunk girl, home and then brag to the group afterwards about performing a sexual act on her whilst she was passed out. Word gets around and she attempts suicide.

The rest of the book follows parts of Alice, Nick and Haley's lives in the fifteen years after that event. It is completely like nothing I have ever read before. There is a complete mix of genres and formats in there. It's written so unusually with a mix of prose, screenplays, a series of emails and interview transcripts. It is just fantastic and it makes for a very quick and easy read.

I really don't want to give too much away but the story is so deep and I honestly cannot recommend it enough. I was totally hooked throughout and the epilogue is just wonderful. I don't know how else to describe it. Amazing.

Saturday 8 August 2020

The One That Got Away by Egan Hughes - Review

(AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

The One That Got Away by Egan Hughes - 5/5 ★★★★★

Blurb: Mia thinks she has escaped her controlling ex-husband Rob. She's found herself a new home, a new boyfriend and a new life.

But when the police arrive to tell her that Rob has been found dead on his boat, things quickly fall apart. Mia is terrified she'll be suspected, however the police are keeping all options open. They know Mia had reason to hate her ex-husband, but she's not the only one. Plenty of people wanted Rob Creavy dead, not least his new wife Rachel.

What they don't know is Mia has a secret, one shes desperate to protect.

But someone else knows. Someone with very dark secrets of their own...

Review: I could not put this book down!

We are drawn in right from the beginning with an intro from the point of view of a woman who has been gaslighted by her partner.

The story is split into Part One and Part Two. Part One switches between the narratives of Mia, ex-wife of Rob Creavy and Jess, a lady who married Rob in 2015.

Mia is visited by the police and learns that Rob has been shot dead on his boat. He had threatened to kill her so she took an injunction out against him and hadn't seen him in two years. He has since gotten married to a woman named Rachel.

Rob was a keen sailor and the story that is told from Jess's point of view is heartbreaking to read. He is a piece of work and you just hate him from the start. He uses coercive control and she gives up everything for him, making her sell her house, taking her money and making her give up her friendships.

There is a massive revelation at the end of Part One that genuinely made me gasp. I didn't suspect it at all so I was eager to read on.

In Part Two, we have the same narratives but an anonymous third too. We learn that not only did Rob control his wives, but he conned a lot of people out of money too so realistically, anyone could want him dead. 

It is a fantastic whodunnit and I think I suspected everyone at one point or another. It is so well written and the epilogue was just perfect.

A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for organising this blog tour and sending me a copy to review. Don't forget to check out the blog posts of other bloggers on the tour.

The One That Got Away is available to buy now from Amazon and Waterstones.

Friday 7 August 2020

My Friends And Me by Stephanie Stansbie and Katy Halford | Children's Book Review

(Ad/Gifted: We received this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link in this post, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.)

It's so important to teach your children about the world at a young age. From different religions, different cultures to race and types of families.

My Friends And Me by Stephanie Stansbie and Katy Halford is a wonderful tool to introduce different types of families to young readers 

Jamie has lots of friends - lots of friends with different kinds of families. Kate's got two dads. Olivia's got two mums. And Jade's got her own butler!

But no matter who they are or where they live, there's one thing that all the grown ups have in common...

This warm and funny book celebrates the very special bonds in very special families.

This book is packed with beautiful images of lots of different families. There's Kate who has two dads, Olivia who has two mums that are in an interracial relationship and Lily who is very lucky because she has two of everything. Obviously because her mother and father have split up and live separately, so she splits her time between the two houses but it's spun in a positive way.

We even have a single mum and children who live in different types of homes like caravans and boats. 

My favourite part of the book has to be the pages about Ned's mum. "People used to think Ned's mum was a man. But it turns out she's a woman." The wording of that is really important. It isn't that she "used to be a man", she has always been a woman. It honestly made me happy to read.

It is such a positive and upbeat book with beautiful illustrations. C and E especially liked the annotated drawings and had me read every single one out! I would definitely recommend that everyone gets a copy for their child's bookshelf. 

Thank you Little Tiger for our review copy.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | Innocent by Erin Kinsley

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click to buy anything through a link in this post, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.)

Innocent by Erin Kinsley - 3/5 ★★★
Blurb: The pretty market town of Sterndale is a close-knit community where everyone thinks they know everyone else. But at a lavish summer wedding a local celebrity is discovered slumped in the gardens, the victim of a violent assault that leads to a murder investigation.

As the police search for answers, suspicion and paranoia build - and the lives of the locals are turned upside down. Secrets that lurk beneath the pristine fa├žade of Sterndale come to light as detectives close in on the truth...

Review: Popular TV presenter Tristan Savage, or Tristan Hart as per his stage name, is attending a wedding at a hotel with his beautiful wife Izzy and their three year old daughter Flora. During the celebrations, he is discovered unresponsive next to the pool after being hit over the head. He remains in a coma with the police trying to find out who would do such a thing and why.

Being in the public eye, everyone has their suspicions about what has happened and there are a lot of whispers around the town. Tristan has been married before and after digging into his past, the police have a few leads. At the same time though, his current wife Izzy and ex-police officer friend Aidan are both keeping a couple different secrets from the investigation.

Although there are a lot of red herrings and lots of possible suspects, I had guessed pretty early on who the attacker was but obviously wanted to read on to find out why. The story has a lot of depth and characters are well developed but it just missed the mark for me.