Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Indoor play with House of Fraser

The weather has well and truly turned, the weekends are now cold and frequently wet.  It's getting harder and harder to get outside and enjoy the fresh air which can make for some long weekends! 

House of Fraser recently offered me the opportunity to choose some new indoor toys for Ben, Chloe and Amy to make the long, wet weekends more bearable. 
House of Fraser isn't somewhere I would normally think of for toys - for me it immediately makes me think of nice handbags, high end cosmetics and gorgeous clothing ranges.  So I was really impressed to discover an enormous range of toys to suit all ages.  

Lego Juinors Turtle Lair (£18) 
Like most boys of his age Ben is currently obsessed with Lego and will spend hours tinkering away with those brightly coloured little bricks.  It made perfect sense to look straight to the Lego for his new toy and he was absolutely thrilled when it arrived.  He had it built quite quickly following the instructions and spent a long time playing with it.  He has since integrated it into his growing collection of Lego and its doing a great job of keeping him occupied!

Lego juniors turtles

duplo (various prices)
Chloe is still a bit young for joining in on the Lego fun but has recently discovered the joy of duplo so when I saw the Ariel Undersea Castle I thought it was a great choice for her. (It's currently out of stock on the House of Fraser website.) She was really pleased with the little Ariel and Flounder characters and Ben quickly built the castle up for her.  They have played with it together quite a bit which has been lovely to watch.  Beyond just building with the blocks there has been lots of imaginative play and adding voices to the characters. 

duplo ariel

Tomy Do Re Mi Dolphin Bath Toys (£13, currently on offer at £10.40)
Whilst bath toys are probably not strictly an "indoor toy" in terms of keeping the little people occupied on a miserable, wet day I just couldn't resist them! Amy adores her bath and we've not had any new bath toys in ages so I thought these would be a real treat.  I wasn't wrong - they were a big hit with all three children! Amy just enjoyed holding them (and eating them) whereas Ben and Chloe really enjoyed the colour matching element and also trying to fasten them all together. 

Tomy bath toys

 I'm really impressed with the selection of toys on the House of Fraser website and will definitely be bearing it mind for future purchases! 

*Disclaimer - We were sent these toys free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions are my own*

Tried & Tested Tuesday

Welcome to Tried & Tested Tuesday! It means such a lot to us to have so many lovely people who join us almost every single week and, alongside those, new faces linking up.  One of the things we love most is how many different people with such very different blogs link up, meaning we are introduced to a fabulous variety of different products, days out and anything else that pops up!  We do our best to visit you all each week, but of course we can’t promise to get round everyone especially as the linky gets more and more popular! – Apologies to those of you we didn't get too last week - one of us has still been poorly and the other has been desperately trying to maintain some semblance of normality through the building work!

 If you’re new to this linky then welcome along! You can find out more about it and how to join in here. If you’re a regular then welcome to you too! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – lets face it, that’s what makes linkys work. Each week, as you know, we like to feature two of our favourite reviews from the previous week.

This week we have loved:

Tried & Tested featured blogger - Ghostwriter Mummy

Frugi Explorer coat from Ghostwriter Mummy - We are both big fans of Frugi already and this coat is packed with features, we're especially impressed with the reflective stars now that the nights are darker!

The Christmas Boutique from Rambling Through Parenthood - who doesn't love a good selection of Christmas decorations? We loved that these were a bit different too.

 If you link up please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment as well as a couple of others if you can – we know that people really, really appreciate the feedback! We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional posts will be deleted out of fairness). We do our best to visit each post and leave a comment, as well as tweeting from @FamilyFever and @Lollinski but as we’ve mentioned we can’t promise to get round everyone every week. We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too!
We're going on an adventure

Monday, 24 November 2014

Frugi #GiftofGiving dress - Review

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely surprise in the post . . . 

My good friend Danni from It started with a Squish had chosen Amy a beautiful Frugi dress as part of their #GiftofGiving project. 

Frugi Bella dress
The gorgeous Frugi Bella dress

Now Danni knows me well enough to know that I don't do pink at all so her choice was perfect.  In a bright, cheery red with a super cute hedgehog print and spots - what's not to love?  The completely seasonally appropriate 100% organic cotton cord is just gorgeous for Autumn / Winter.  The pretty gathers on the sleeves and turquoise neck detailing are adorable.  With poppers to the back it's easy to get on and off (which believe me is a big selling point when it comes to dressing Amy at the moment!)  The shape of the dress is gorgeous - roomy and comfortable for little ones but super stylish too.

All I need now is some gorgeous tights to go with it!  (I love the Little Twinkle Toe tights Frugi have styled it with on the website actually!)

Amy models her gorgeous Frugi dress

At the moment Amy isn't quite up and about on her feet yet, despite preferring to stand whenever she can.  As she's generally crawling about on her knees I rarely put her in a dress  as I think they can be a bit restrictive for crawlers.  I'm looking forward to seeing her wearing this dress more and more as she starts walking.  I know it will look even cuter when she's toddling around in it! 


*We were gifted this dress as part of the #GiftofGiving project for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions are my own*

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Lovably Me - Review & Giveaway

A little while ago I was invited to explore the family run, boutique children's gift store www.lovablyme.co.uk - the company is still in its infancy having launched at the end of last year but is doing well at getting itself out there. Stocking high quality children's products from toys to interiors its definitely worth a look when you're gift shopping! 

It took me quite a while to make a decision about what to order but in the end I settled on the Vilac Magnetic Board & Magnets (£22) for Chloe and the Ballerina Mouse for Amy (£17)

Vilac Magnetic Board & Magnets 
Chloe was really excited when she opened this parcel and was keen to get stuck in but I hid it away!  What really appealed to me about this product was that it was completely portable - the magnets are stored within the box and the lid provides a magnetic surface for making pictures on.  Ideal for keeping Chloe busy in the car or perhaps when we're out for tea.  We used it tonight while we were having a meal out and it was ideal for keeping them occupied while they waited for their food.  They enjoyed choosing a card and then making the image themselves.  It reminds me of Fuzzy Felts but easier to work with! With a range of shapes & also bits and pieces to make farm animals there's plenty to talk about and explore.  I can see Chloe (and Ben) going back to this again and again.
Vilac Magnetic Board and Magnets

Ballerina Mouse
Ballerina Mouse
Ballerina Mouse
There's something infinitely appealing about this super cute little mouse. She's so pretty and I love her long arms and legs. I can imagine her being dragged about the house by her paw for years to come.  She's sweet and girly without being overly so. Of course the fact she can be machine washed is a big plus (I do wonder why anyone ever makes cuddly toys for babies that can't be washed!)  Amy was keen to make friends and give her little Ballerina Mouse a good old smooch! 

Amy's new best friend

I'm really pleased to be able to offer you the chance to win a £25 voucher to spend with Lovably Me.  As always just crack on and complete as many of the Rafflecopter options as you would like - please make sure they are completed accurately to avoid disqualification. 

*Disclaimer - We were sent these items free of charge for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions are my own*
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Orchard Toys Penguin Clock Face - Review

Once or twice now Ben has asked me to teach him to tell the time.  Aunty Nic bought him a green watch for his birthday which he was very excited about but as yet it remains safely in his drawer ready for when he can actually tell the time!  (Of course the downside of teaching him to tell the time will be that I can't pretend it's bedtime when it's not! Not that I do that you understand . . . )

Children are first introduced to telling the time at school in Year 1 - essentially just o'clock and then moving on to half past.  With this in mind I've had my eyes peeled for a clock we could work with at home to give him a bit of a headstart while he's keen. 

The Orchard Toys Penguin Clock Face fits the bill perfectly. 

Orchard Toys - Penguin Clock Face

What we love about it: 
* The magnetic strip allows it to be attached to the fridge which means it's always there for a quick two minute practice whilst making a brew!
* Its clearly labelled with hours and minutes 
* O'clock, half past and quarters are written on to show they are said differently
* We do love penguins in our house so that's an added bonus!
* At less than £5 it's great value!

What we're not so keen on: 
* Nothing! It's fabulous! 

Since I introduced the Penguin Clock Face to Ben yesterday he has already learned o'clock, half past, quarter past and quarter to! 

*Disclaimer - We were sent this Penguin Clock Face free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions are my own*

Friday, 21 November 2014

Oxford Reading Tree App from Gazoob - Review

In the last month or so Ben's reading has come on in leaps and bounds.  He has discovered that he can read and is obsessively reading everything.  He's constantly sounding things out and reading things to his sisters.  One of the things I love most is that he will try and read literally anything with words on, he's not confined to the reading books he brings home from school. 

Of course this love of reading is something Dave and I are keen to foster in all our children and so we are doing everything we can to encourage him and keep him enjoying reading.  With this in mind, when we were asked to review the Oxford Reading Tree app from Gazoob we were happy to oblige.
We weren't sure which level we should download for Ben - it wasn't immediately clear if the levels on the app correlated with the levels on the Oxford Reading Tree books.  In the end we decided to just invest in the whole lot on the basis that it would actually be great for Chloe too.  (Chloe has just started to bring home her very first reading books.)

Basically the app offers a range of levelled Oxford Reading Tree texts with the option to have it read to you, or for you to read it yourself and then check your answers.  Ben was being a bit lazy at first and just liked to have it read the words for him until we pointed out that perhaps he could be practicing and testing himself! 
Ben really likes the occasional animation or sound effect on some of the pages and of course reading on his tablet adds a certain novelty value.

Although there are some games and puzzles I expected there would be more.  More games to encourage reading of high frequency words, phonics, sentence building and perhaps even some comprehension activities.  Perhaps I was expecting too much?  I just felt that in terms of buying the books to read on his tablet I'd rather he just read a "proper" book in his hands.  There wasn't enough added value to my mind.  I think Gazoob are missing a trick with this to be honest.  

Overall I think the app is a good investment but I'm hoping there will be some more added extras in future updates!
*Disclaimer - We downloaded the app free of charge for the purpose of review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own*

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