Friday, 17 April 2015

Pink Lining Rucksack - Review

Navy.  I love navy. I love the Pink Lining Navy Bows range.  Specifically I love the Cream Bows on Navy Rucksack

Pink Lining Rucksack

Now of course we all know that Pink Lining are synonymous with covetable changing bags however this no changing bag!  Nope my gorgeous new rucksack is part of the "On the Go" range designed for women and families on the go, which means it belongs to ME not the kids!

Ok so that doesn't mean I don't use it in place of a changing bag - at 17 months Amy doesn't need a changing bag per se but she does still need plenty of stuff carrying about - nappies, wipes, a change of clothes, drink, snacks, toys. . . you know the score.  So my Pink Lining rucksack is absolutely my "go to" bag on day out, it's plenty big enough to stick all the things I need for the kids in plus some bits for me - purse, camera etc.

However I also like to use it when I'm out and about on my own - for example on my recent trip to London  it was ideal for a change of clothes, my DSLR camera, some snacks, a book and such like (the tech space was looking decidedly empty and I do feel the need to fill it with a shiny new iPad if anyone fancies treating me?! haha).

I've been using my bag for a couple of months now - out on an adventure with the children or on my own and I really can't fault it.

What I love about it: 
* Hands free! My bag sits comfortably on my back allowing me to forget about it while I have my hands free to deal with three little ones! 
* It's navy 
* It's so pretty 
* The size is great - not big and bulky but big enough to get loads in
* The straps are padded and comfortable, even fully loaded it hasn't ever felt uncomfortable 
* There's a padded space in the back for your laptop / tablet etc
* The front zip pocket is ideal for sticking your mobile in and any other bits you need to keep accessible whilst you're out and about
* The straps are adjustable
* The coating means it's water resistant so can cope with getting caught in a bit of a shower
* Even after several months of use it still looks like new

What I'm not so keen on: 
Nothing - I flipping love it, even Dave doesn't mind carrying it for me at times!

*Disclaimer - I was sent the Pink Lining rucksack free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own*

Through the porthole - #BostikBloggers

This month's #BostikBloggers theme is "Ocean" . . . it took me a little while to think of a suitable craft as everything that came to mind was more seaside than ocean. 

However here we are with our "Through the porthole" craft activity. 

When we first sat down I talked to Ben and Chloe about portholes, we discussed if they knew what they were and we talked about boats under the water and what sort of thing they might see. 

What we used: 
A paper plate (or polystyrene in our case as it's what we had to hand) 
Blue or green cellophane
Sealife Stickers 
Bostik Blu Glue 
Acrylic Paint

What we did: 
1. Cut out the inside of a paper plate to make your porthole (this was a job for Mummy)

2. Cut your cellophane to size

2. Paint the porthole with acrylic paint (you can use any paint really but acrylic gives a nicer finish and as we were using a polystyrene plate it just went on more evenly)

3. Decorate your "sea" with fish and other underwater creatures 

4. Use your porthole to check how your sea looks - are there any gaps which need filling?

5. Attach your sea to the edge of the porthole using glue (We really liked Bostik Blu Glue - it made it very easy for Ben to see where he had glued and also stuck very quickly).  Make sure you press down all around the plate to ensure the cellophane has stuck.

6. Display your porthole with the help of some Blu Tack or pegs.

Keep an eye out for our next #BostikBloggers post in May! 


You can see our previous #BostikBloggers post here: 
* Simple Chinese Dragons
* Valentines Craft

*Disclaimer - Our box of crafting goodies was provided to us free of charge by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostick Craft Bloggers Club*

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Melissa & Doug wooden food sets from House of Fraser - Review

Aunty Custard bought Ben and Chloe a fabulous Ikea kitchen for their birthdays last Summer.  Because the playroom at that point was non-existent she waited until Christmas to give it to them.  Since then I've been on the look out for some play food for them.  A good friend of mine has a lovely bowl of felt salad which Chloe always enjoys playing with and I'm a big fan of wood when it comes to play food - plastic really doesn't do the business for this one does it?  

I was thrilled to discover a couple of sets of gorgeous Melissa & Doug play food on the  House of Fraser website and ordered both the "Wooden Sandwich Making Set" and the "Wooden Cutting Food".  Although we've not had any other Melissa & Doug toys I've heard good things about them and high hopes for these sets.

I'm sure you can imagine Ben and Chloe were particularly excited to see these beautiful wooden crates of food appear on my kitchen work surface.  They were less impressed when they were informed that they wouldn't be able to play with them until the playroom was spotless . . . this took a couple of days before they had eventually got it up to scratch!

Ben was straight in there making sandwiches whereas Chloe preferred to have a go at chopping up some fruit and vegetables.  I loved listening to their conversations about what they were making. 

What we love about them: 
* The gorgeous wooden crates are perfect for storing the food when not in use (and they happen to fit beautifully into our Ikea play kitchen!) 
* The foods are easily identifiable
* That majority of the foods included are all really healthy options 
* The provide lots of opportunity for role play and general conversation around food
* They're great for fine motor skills - practicing cutting and fitting the pieces back together again 
* Fitting the pieces back together also works on problem solving skills - they're like a 3D jigsaw
* You can see they are made to last 
* There's hours of play opportunities for all ages - all three of my children are really interested in them at the moment
* The sets also give way to some potential writing opportunities for example shopping lists and menus
* At less than £15 a set they're great value

What we're not so keen on: 
* I very quickly found myself with bits of wooden food scattered all over the playroom - with so many parts to the sets they can easily get lost 
* Being wooden they are obviously not as easy to clean as plastic toys which can generally be shoved in the dishwasher

Since Ben and Chloe started playing with the wooden food they have returned to it time and time again, with each other, with friends and independently.  I'm really pleased with the Melissa & Doug sets, I will certainly look out for more of their toys and wouldn't hesitate to hit the House of Fraser website next time I'm on the look out for new ideas! 

*Disclaimer - We were sent the Melissa & Doug sets free of charge from House of Fraser for the purposes of writing this post.  All thoughts and opinions remain my own*

Pippa Pig Holiday Mumbassador - Easter

Somehow Ben and Chloe have pretty much circumnavigated the whole Peppa Pig thing and really they're now probably too old to be bothered.  They know who she is but we've never really watched it so they skipped the whole obsessive phase that so many little ones seem to go through (that's not to say we didn't have obsessive phases with other characters namely Postman Pat and Peter Rabbit!)  

When I was offered the opportunity to be an official Peppa Pig Holiday Mumbassador I knew just the girl who would love me for it!  My god daughter Erin (who has featured on my blog several times before) has been a big Peppa Pig fan for quite a while, in fact I bought her a Peppa Pig Play Set for her birthday last September. 

So this Easter Erin received a bundle of Peppa Pig goodies to see her through the holidays.  Needless to say I scored lots of Godmother points there - who wouldn't love two bonus Easter eggs!  Her Mummy was pretty pleased with two new Peppa Pig DVDs too as they were planning some long drives over the Easter break and these were guaranteed to keep Erin happy in the back of the car while they got those miles covered.  The colour and sticker activities were great for keeping on hand whilst they've been out and about too.

Erin will receive a second parcel of goodies at half term and a third in the Summer holidays!  Lucky little lady!


*Disclaimer - I was sent the bundle of Peppa Pig goodies free of charge for the purposes of writing this post*

Internet Tips for Parents

*This is a collaborative guest post* 
One of the biggest fears for parents in recent years has been the safety of their children online.  It seems like not a day goes by without the latest horror story of nasty individuals or organisations using the internet to groom and exploit vulnerable people and children, so it is natural to feel anxious.  To help you and your family fee protected, we've gathered some top tips for staying safe online. 

1. Have the conversation early 
Though it is the most difficult step, and the most ignored, talking openly with your children about internet safety measures is crucial.  Installing controls and limits on internet use without explanation or compromise means that children are likely to try to find a way around them, pushing the problem to a place where you can't see it.  Help children understand your concerns by helping them identify red flags - perhaps emphasising that strangers should not be adding young people on social networks and that it is an odd thing to do.  Having an open dialogue helps you establish what behaviour is expected and prevents your children from viewing your measures as draconian.

2. Install anti-virus software and parental controls 
This is the bread and butter of internet safety, protecting you and your family from a wide variety of scams and hacks, protecting your children from accidentally stumbling across inappropriate sites.  Make sure you do your research to find the best antivirus program for you, and don't let your children set it up for you! 

3. Keep computers in communal areas
It may make them grumble and, according to them, all their friends are allowed, but children should not be accessing the internet in the privacy of their own bedrooms.  Keep laptops and family computers in the living room or study where there is likely to be people coming in an out.  This reduces the risk of children being able to hide their online activity, and reminds them to stick to family-friendly content.

4. Keep a sneaky eye out 
If you feel that your child may be at risk or is behaving inappropriately on social media, a good tactic to monitor their public activity is to make a Facebook page for the family pet.  Keep it humorous and light - much of the time, children are will to accept a friend request from Buster the dog even if they won't accept one from Mum.  Do not attempt to spy on your child's private activity, such as emails or personal messages, unless you have strong suspicions that they may be at risk.  This is a betrayal of trust so your child will not feel able to come to you if they find themselves in a tricky situation.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Is life just #betterwithcake?

Show me a person who doesn't love a bit of cake and I'll show you a liar!

Cake has so many different purposes - from celebratory cakes for birthdays, weddings and christenings to comforting cakes after a bad day or conversational cake and coffee dates (of which I am a big fan!)  I must admit that I agree with Mr Kipling, pretty much everything is indeed #betterwithcake! 

We have been testing this theory out over the course of the Easter holidays.  I say "we" when what I really mean is everyone but me as actually dieting really isn't better with cake . . . dieting with cake just doesn't really work (or at least not in the quantities I like to consume my cake!) 

Dave has proven that coming home from work is better with cake . . . 

Amy and Chloe know that picnics in the sunshine are better with cake . . . 


And Ben knows that hanging out with his mates in the park is better with cake . . . 

Basically even the best adventure can be improved with the addition of cake but Mummy prefers her cake in peace and quiet when all the children have gone to bed and she's doing all her work.  Blogging is definitely #betterwithcake!

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge, sponsored by Mr Kipling.  Learn more at

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