Super Loop Bands – Review

myStyle Super Loop Bands from Interplay is a fun bracelet making kit for children.  This kit contains 125 silicone loops in five colours, enough to make five complete bracelets, There are five metal ‘S’ clasps and a comprehensive instruction manual to guide you through joining the loops.

superloops 1Miss M was thrilled when she saw the set and couldn’t wait to get started.  She has seen many of these types of bands around on friends and in the shops and was eager to try them.  I followed the step by step instructions to start her off and actually found it really simple.  You literally just squeeze a loop to flatten and link through another loop.  The bracelet simply fastens using an ‘S’ clip although being stretchy you can just stretch it on and off your wrist.  The loops are quite thick and a really good quality, they look superior to other brands I’ve seen.

superloops 2It didn’t take Miss M long to get the hang of it and soon she was happily sitting there creating the bracelets herself.  She was keen to make one for her little brother Mister B, and they sat together picking out the coloured loops to use.  Each bracelet requires 20-25 loops and this Super Loops set contains enough to make 5 good quality bracelets.

superloops 3

We’ve really enjoyed the myStyle Super Loop Bands from Interplay, it has kept Miss M occupied and she had lots of fun making the bands.  I think this is a great little craft set for young girls, something they can do independently, something they can wear after and something they can give to friends.  My two children wear their bracelets everyday and so they have been a big hit with us!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and the Super Loops kit was sent to us in order to write the review.

Revolution Bar – New Menu Review

Revolution Vodka Bars are renowned for a great place to go in the evenings for drinks and cocktails with friends, but not somewhere I’d really thought of going for food.  My local Revolution Bar in Plymouth has just been through a large refurbishment and are now serving a new menu which I was asked to go along and try.

We visited on a Wednesday lunchtime and my first impressions were the amazing décor, in fact I loved it.  It was totally in the style that I love with lots of interesting features, different displays, fresh plants, various seating styles from silver cafe style chairs & tables to sofas, bar stools and some large, comfy booths which we chose to sit in.

revolution 1We were welcomed when we entered the bar and once we had chosen our seats, someone immediately came over to take our drinks order.  In fact we were consistently attended to at the table which I wasn’t expecting but a nice touch.

The new menu is fairly extensive with a large range of dishes.  It has an American feel to it with burgers, salads, pizzas and lots of Mexican inspired dishes.  There are lots of interesting ingredients across the menu that make the dishes sound fresh and modern including a hint of vodka in some dishes.

Nachos are a huge favourite of mine so we opted for a sharing Nachos dish to start and we certainly weren’t disappointed.  We received a huge bowl full of crisp corn chips layered with cheese and jalapeños, topped with generous portions sour cream, guacamole and vodka salsa.  This was truly one of the most delicious bowls of Nachos we have ever had and something we will definitely be back for, perfect dish to share in n the afternoon with a glass of wine or two!

revolution 2For mains I chose the Big Easy Bean Burrito, a wrap filled with kidney beans, sweet potato, guacamole, cheese, spicy red rice, mayo, Roquito peppers and vodka salsa.  This was tasty, filling, and well presented on the plate, a very enjoyable dish.  My husband had the Moroccan burger, served with chips and coleslaw.  The chips were excellent, nice and hot with a good crunch.  My husband enjoyed the burger and was full by the end.  He said as much as he would like to have it again, there were many other dishes he’d like to try on the menu so would give something else a try next time.  The pizzas look very tempting with their stone baked bases and interesting selection of toppings.

revolution 3Although we were both quite full, I was determined to try something off the dessert menu, and opted for the cheesecake.  The most enormous slice of baked cheesecake arrived with cream on one side and a berry coulis on the other.  This was good, very creamy and rich with a crunchy base, we both had a taste but unfortunately were a little defeated and couldn’t quite finish it all!

revolution 5We found all of the portions at Revolution to be very generous in size and exceptionally tasty.  The food all tastes fresh and is served hot (not lukewarm like bar food often tends to be by the time it arrives!).  There is an excellent selection on the menu with lots of delicious looking dishes to try.  We found the service to be of a high standard with attentive staff who helped create a perfect relaxing atmosphere to enjoy during the daytime.

Both of us were impressed with both the surrounds and the food of Revolution, with it previously being a bar that we wouldn’t have thought of going to for a relaxing lunch.  It’s only across the road from the town centre so ideal to pop over too for a break from shopping or a lunch with the girls!  It is definitely on the list to go to again, I’m looking forward to sharing another bowl of the deliciously tasty Nachos over a glass of wine in the near future!!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and our meal was complimentary at Revolution in order to write the review.

Hello Kitty Mandala Designer – Review

Hello Kitty Mandala Designer from Ravensburger is a stencil kit aimed at children aged 6+, to create Hello Kitty mandala designs.  It comes in a small pink box that clips shut and I was impressed that this holds the stencil template, paper squares, the pen and colouring pencils.  This makes it a great little kit for taking out with you or away on holiday.

hk mandala 1

The stencil works by ensuring an arrow is matched on the circle stencil to the arrow on the frame and draw through the stencil a couple of images of your choice.  Then turn the stencil by either 1, 2 or 4 arrows forward and repeat your image.  By the time the stencil has come full circle you will have a complete circular image of designs.

hk mandala 2

Miss M who is 6, is the perfect age to start creating these designs.  She needed some initial pointers as to turning the stencil in even increments but once she got the hang of it she sat quite happily creating designs on her own.  She even added some freehand drawing to her designs to finish them off before colouring them in.

hk mandala 3

Initially the set looks fairly basic, but it’s amazing how many different designs you can come up with and how intricate you can make them.  There’s lots more potential to get creative as Miss M gets a bit older and more confident at using the stencil.  Here are a few of the simple designs she came up with:

hk mandala 4

I think it’s really nice that you can create not only your own designs, but you then have something to colour in.  You can use the finished designs for lots of things, maybe add them to a homemade birthday card, cut them out and hang them up along a piece of string as some bunting or just have fun with them.

The Hello Kitty Mandala has really kept Miss M occupied on her own and I think it’s a great little set that she can easily pop in her bag and take with her.  The plastic case and stencil are well made and the pen and coloured pencils that are included are also of a good quality.  This would make a lovely gift for a girl and something that can be used again and again.  All you need to do is cut some little squares of paper up to fit underneath the stencil and you can make endless designs.

hk mandala 5

We’ve really enjoyed trying out the Hello Kitty Mandala and think it’s a fun way to stencil.  It’s keeps a child occupied on their own and the designs don’t take too long to do, which keeps them motivated to see the finished result.

If you’d like to hear more about the Hello Kitty Mandala as well as other Mandala and craft kits from Ravensburger, then why not join their twitter party on Wednesday 28th May from 1pm – 2.40pm.  Use the hashtag #Getcrafty and make sure to follow @Ravensburgerpc who will be hosting. See you there!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the Hello Kitty Mandala in order to write the review.

V8 V Fusion Fruit and Vegetable Juice – Review

V8 V Fusion is the new drink that contains two of your five a day.  One 250ml glass full contains one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables. With no artificial flavours, colours, preservatives or additives, just 100% fruit and vegetable juice this is a great way to get some extra nutrients during the day, these being a particularly excellent source of vitamin C.

V8 V-Fusion juices are full of fruit flavours and combine the perfect blend of 100% natural fruit and vegetables. There’s never been an easier – or tastier – way to enjoy your five-a-day.

 

V8

V8 Fusion is available in two variants, we tried the Passion fruit, Mango & Carrot juice which we found to be refreshing and enjoyable to drink.  You’d never think that one glass full contained both a portion of fruit and a portion of vegetable.  The juice was quite light to drink, not heavy as I expected and this makes the perfect way to boost your nutrient content in the day and sneak in some extra portions of your five a day. 

Also available is Raspberry & Beetroot which I think sounds really nice and one I would be intrigued to try.  Why not try V8 Fusion yourself and give yourself that daily fruit and veg boost?

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the V8 juice in order to write the review.

Horrid Henry’s Wedding – Early Reader Book Review

Horrid Henry’s Wedding is a classic tale of naughty Henry getting up to his usual antics and mischief.  In this story by Francesca Simon, Henry’s family are invited to Prissy Polly and Pimply Paul’s wedding and Horrid Henry is a pageboy!

Horrid Henry wedding book orion early readerThe day doesn’t start well with it pouring of rain, then Horrid Henry trips in a muddy puddle which covers his pageboy outfit before losing the rings in the church.  It’s never ending with Horrid Henry as usual but his constant antics are what keep children entertained.  Miss M enjoyed reading this and was amazed at all the things Henry got up to.  The book is an Orion red Early Reader which is perfect for her current reading ability and the writing is interspersed with plenty of colour pictures which helps maintain her interest and motivation to carry on reading.

Horrid Henry wedding book orionWe enjoyed this book and have already read it several times.  I would definitely recommend the Orion Early Reader series for young readers, they never fail to disappoint, are of a high quality and always full of colour illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the book in order to write the review.

 

Hallmark Interactive Gifts – Review

Hallmark is a brand I’ve always liked for greetings cards, they have great designs and are of a good quality so I was pleased to try out some of their new interactive gifts aimed at children.  We received the Until We Hug Again teddy bear along with two interactive storybooks, All Aboard and Fairy Grandmother.

hall4The Interactive story books come complete with batteries.  They are operated by an on/off button on the top of each one and they work by reacting to certain lines you say within the book.  Each page highlights the last line in a different colour and this is to prompt you to read this line clearly as the book will respond and often ask the child a question as to what to do next.  You need to make sure your child responds clearly and quite quickly to enable the book to keep interacting.

All Aboard is a book about a train journey to Celebration city with Connor the conductor.  Connor interacts with you, getting you to make decisions about which way to go, or to point out where something is.  The book usually gives you two options and depending on your answer will respond accordingly.  Unfortunately a cow gets stuck on the track but with your help, you can get the cow to move to allow the train to continue it’s journey.

hallmark 1Mister B who is 3 loved being able to talk to the book and make decisions for Connor.  It’s a really entertaining idea and totally different to any other book we have seen.

Miss M who is 6 was really excited about reading A day at Fairy Grandmother’s.  The brightly coloured illustrations immediately caught her eye and she actually did quite well at reading the story herself.  The story follows your adventure as you visit the Fairy Grandmother at her castle and get to choose what to eat and help her look for her lost wand in her garden full of delightful sweet treats where you even come across a friendly dragon.

hallmark  2Both of these Hallmark interactive books would make excellent gifts for children.  We have been really impressed with them, they really engage the children in the storyline and it’s a really unusual and different concept for a character in a book to respond to things you say and ask questions.  My children both enjoyed the interaction and couldn’t wait to hear what was said next.  The books are a good, large size too being just slightly bigger than A4, and all pages are full colour with bold interesting pictures, plenty to look at and talk about.

 

The Until We Hug Again bear is a fantastic idea, a great gift and would be really special if you ever had to be apart from a little one, whether it’s just for the weekend or longer.  The bear was an instant hit with Miss M who hasn’t stopped cuddling him.  The quality of the bear is really good, it’s well made and feels lovely and soft to touch.  Standing at around 11 inches it’s a good size too.

hallmark 3The bear has the ability to record a message that can be played by pressing the heart on the bear’s tummy.  To record a message you simply press the record button on the foot and say your message.  This will then play back each time the heart is pressed and a new message can be recorded at any time.  If you want to save the message you have recorded you simply slide a switch in the battery compartment to lock it.

I recorded a message for Miss M to tell her I love her and wishing her a good nights sleep.  She takes it to bed each night for cuddles and can listen to my voice whenever she wants.  She has really taken to this bear and it has come everywhere with us.  A truly special gift for a child, ideal for parents or grandparents to give to a child close to them.

We’ve really enjoyed all these Hallmark interactive gifts. As you can see below the Until We Hug Again teddy has had trips to the park and the children enjoyed listening to Nanny reading them the interactive books and she was just as impressed with them too!

hallmark 4If you are looking for a special gift for a child then why not check out Hallmark?

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the Hallmark gifts in order to write the review.

 

Mornings with belVita

Mornings for me are early, hectic, with everything in the house demanding my attention from the curtains wanting opening, the kitchen blinds being pulled up, the pack lunch boxes filled up, the children wanting bowls of cereals, drinks of milk, clothes for school, the list goes on, then I on the other hand need to get washed and dressed for work leaving me little time for breakfast.

I normally eat on the go, a mouthful of cereal, open a curtain, another mouthful, pack the lunch boxes, another spoonful, wipe down the table…  you get the gist, it’s the only way I can get out the house by 7.45 in the morning, without getting up ridiculously early.  These days I never set an alarm, I’m usually woken to a three year old saying “Mummy, please change me” *filled pull-up alert!!*.

Anything to save time for me is a bonus and belVita have come up with just that.  A selection of slow release breakfast biscuits made with 5 wholegrains.  They come in individually wrapped packs containing several biscuits to see you through the morning with a slow release of carbohydrates to get your day off to a good start.

belvita 2 I tried the plain belVita biscuits in Milk & Cereals and Fruit & Fibre varieties and I can verify that both are truly delicious.  I had already been a fan of the Milk & Cereals variety but have now widened my choices.  These both come in wrapped packs of four biscuits which is plenty to keep you going through the morning, they are crunchy, tasty and very moreish.

There is also a new variety of belVita called Yogurt Crunch with consist of two biscuits sandwiched together with a creamy live yogurt filling.  The biscuits are cocoa flavoured which immediately caught my eye being a bit of a chocolate fan, but I have to be honest and say I wasn’t overly keen on these.  Something about the overall flavour just didn’t do it for me, although the husband enjoyed them.

Belvita 1All the belVita biscuits are rich in cereals, a great source of fibre, made from wholegrains and contain vitamins B1 & E along with magnesium and iron.  The yogurt ones benefit from calcium also.

These are perfect for an on the go breakfast along with a piece of fruit and a drink, in fact if I’m a bit pushed for time in the morning, I just throw a pack into my bag along with an apple to take to work and eat them at my desk, I can spread them out across the morning and it sees me through till lunch.

belvita 3I would definitely recommend belVita biscuits for a quick breakfast, they are handy to have in the cupboard and can be eaten on the go.  I do however enjoy my Weetabix when I manage the time so being organised is a key thing in the mornings. 

Some of my tips for a smooth running morning are preparation the night before:

  • Make the pack lunches the night before so that it only takes 5 mins in the morning to take them out the fridge and put them in the relevant boxes.
  • Lay out all the morning clothes so once everyone’s washed they know where to find their clothes and what they are wearing.
  • Ensure school/work bags are ready, have everything in them to take in the morning.
  • Get the cereal bowls and spoons out so that it is just a cast of pouring the cereal and milk in the morning.
  • Keep a pack of belVita in your bag – you never know when you might need it! 😉

 

This post is an entry for the #MorningStories Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast.  Learn more at www.facebook.com/belvitaUK

 

Fun at Bathtime with Bathtime Buddies

Making bathtimes fun for the children is essential for me, it can often be a drag getting them up to the bath, but if you have some fun things lined up, they soon relax and enjoy being in the bath and actually want to stay in there, despite initially asking me to wash them quickly so they can get straight out.

I use many things to make bathtime more fun and Bathtime Buddies have a great range of accessories to help engage children in bathtime fun.  We received a few products to help make our bathtimes more fun, from Foam Alphabet Letters to Squirting Ducks and squirty Soapy Foam.

Bathtime 1The children’s eyes lit up when they saw the goodies, “Can we have them in the bath tonight”, they chorused as they eagerly checked them out.

bath 4They had great fun squirting water out of the ducks at each other and also used them to aim at foam shapes we have on the wall.  They also found if you squirted the alphabet letter they would drop down off the tiles which they found an exciting activity.  Miss M liked writing things with the letters such as their names and other random little words.  For Mister B who’s 3, I found them useful to get him to recognise his letters and practice the sounds.

bath 3By far the children’s favourite was the Soapy Foam which they played with endlessly.  They were fascinated by the huge volumes of foam that I squirted into their hands and then used it in a variety of ways from filling pots, to covering themselves or making swirly patterns with it using their fingers.  They love the texture of it and can sit for ages running it through their fingers.  Why not give them a handful while you are washing their hair?

Bath 1The children also like to sing in the bath and that can help extend the time they sit in the bath which particularly helps when I am detangling Miss M’s unruly curls with lots of conditioner!  I can never predict what song that will be and usually it is one of their own creations especially with Mister B who loves to make up silly rhymes although he went a little camera shy when I tried to capture him in action.  Miss M did a little tune which I’ve shared with you below:

Bathtime Buddies have come up with their own bathtime song, a verse and chorus and we’ve made up a couple of extra verses, so feel free to use them if you want to sing the song with your children in the bath.

You can listen to the Bathtime Buddies song here:

 Verse 1
Hey, Hey! The day is over
and it is time for bed.
First you must have a bath,
before you can rest your head.

Pre-Chorus
All of your friends are here to help you
wash all the days dirt and grime away.
Play with the ducks, “SQUIRT!”
Or Soapy Foam shapes, “SHAPES!”
Let’s see what else you can create, “YAY!”

Chorus x 4
Hey, Hey! Let’s go and play.
Let’s go and play with The Bathtime Buddies.
Learning is fun when it’s me and you!

Our Verse 2
Little squirty ducks,
can be so much fun.
Can you hit the targets
one by one?

Our Verse 3
Make Foamy Soap shapes
and balls of snow,
Or cover yourselves
from head to toe.

Our Verse 4
With the foam letters
you can write your name
Find the letters A-Z
or have a spelling game.

I think having fun in the bath is a great way to get children to enjoy the experience and make life easier for you, the adult.  There are so many ways to make bathtime fun, from coloured bubble bath, foamy soap, bath fizzers to all the little toys and accessories available.

Bath 2On Thursday 15th May 2014, H&A along with tots100 are having a twitter party at 1-2pm, there will be prizes for the best tweets so why not come along and join in using hashtag #KidsBathtimeFun.  Also remember to follow @tots100 and @BathtimeBuddies.

What fun things do you play or sing to keep your kids occupied in the bath?

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received we received some bathtime buddies products in order to write this post.

Shopping with Morrisons

Morrisons supermarket entered a new battle of the prices last weekend with over 2000 products being made lower.  This was just in time for the May Bank Holiday and to get some feedback from families across the country, we were sent £80 of vouchers to try out the new lower priced Morrisons.

I do shop at Morrisons for a medium sized shop most weeks, purely because it is quite convenient to get to and does have some good offers although I do feel the choice can sometimes be limited.

As soon as I arrived at Morrisons last weekend I could see lots of yellow “I’m cheaper” posters, banners, balloons etc, so it was sure to catch everyone’s eye and I found particular items that had been reduced were clearly flagged on the shelves.

morrisons 1I’ve always found some good prices on the fruit and vegetables at Morrisons and was pleased this time to find things like a pack of three peppers for 99p, vine ripened tomatoes 69p, bags of apples and pears for 99p each and a whole cucumber for just 49p.  I also found a large box of nice looking strawberries for £3 which I though was good value for strawberries and a nice treat for Bank Holiday weekend.

I easily filled a trolley with plenty of fruit and veg, as well as some other items to make a few meals over the weekend including some nice lunches.  I also bought some weekly essentials such as washing up liquid, loo roll and some white wine.  Being Bank Holiday, I picked up a bottle of prosecco for a treat, which was on offer for just £6 instead of £12!!

Here’s just some of my Morrisons shopping:

Morrisons shopFor our family meal on Sunday we decided to have Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Puff Pastry tarts.   The children aren’t too keen on roasted vegetables, so I adapted their versions to include chicken which they love, although I don’t eat myself due to being vegetarian.

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Puff Pastry Tarts
to serve 4

1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
2 courgettes
2 red peppers
2 red onions
8 vine cherry tomatoes
8 teaspoons of green pesto
1 and half balls of Mozzarella cheese

1. Slice/chop the courgettes/peppers/onions into chunky pieces and roast in the oven with a light drizzle of oil until softened and roasted
2. Unroll the pastry sheet and cut into 4 rectangles
3. Spread 2 generous teaspoons of pesto across each piece
4. Lightly score a rectangle approx half inch from the edge
5. Layer the roasted vegetables on top of the pesto
6. Add slices of mozzarella on top of the vegetables, then top with halved cherry tomatoes
7. Oven cook until the pastry is risen and golden and the cheese is sizzling

morrisons roasted vegI served this with a green salad of leaves, cucumber and black pepper dressing and I’d estimate the total per portion to cost around £1.40.   Personally for me, this meal is lush, the pesto makes it so tasty and I really enjoy eating it.  Being simple to make and adapt to different peoples tastebuds, this makes it a great Bank Holiday meal that requires little effort!

morrisons veg tartOn Bank Holiday Monday itself, the husband was working, so I decided to go with the children up to my parents house and take lunch that I’d bought from Morrisons.

The bakery from Morrisons is something I’ve always thought was rather good, the smell gets me everytime, fresh bread, pastries, you name it, carbohydrates are my downfall!!  We came home with a bargainous 80p tiger loaf on our initial shop!!

On BH Monday we picked up some cheese scones and a delightful honey and sunflower loaf for lunch and took up some cheeses, ham, salad and crisps to my parents.  We also picked up a fresh cream chocolate sponge that was at the cheaper price of £1.  I also took up some fresh strawberries and raspberries from to decorate it along with some other Morrisons bakery cakes.

morrisons 2We served 6 with this fresh cream chocolate sponge and fruit, working out around 25p per portion!!

I laid out a buffet style lunch that we all enjoyed including fresh breads, cheeses, salad, houmous, crisps, dips and cakes.  It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  I also bought some ice lollies as afternoon snacks for the children.

We really enjoyed shopping at Morrisons and did notice some of our usual items at a lower price.  I will still continue to purchase here on a weekly basis, although would like to see an increased range of some lines, my favourite Twinings tea had a discontinued sign up by it, the store I go to doesn’t stock Warburtons wraps and no other wholemeal varieties and I was a little disappointed to see that the only “I’m cheaper” signs on the eggs were for the caged variety! Poor chucks!!

Overall Morrisons will still feature in our weekly shopping, they do offer competitive prices  and have a good selection of weekly offers that are worth shopping there for.  Not to mention great house wine and a fabulous bakery!!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received we received voucher  in order shop at Morrisons and write the review.

Postman Pat Singing and Dancing Showbiz Pat – Review

Postman Pat Showbiz Pat has been released by Character Options in light of the first ever Postman Pat film “Postman Pat: The Movie” which will be in cinemas nationwide from 23rd May 2014.  In the film Pat auditions for an X factor style singing competition but finds that in his absence from work the postal deliveries do not run very smoothly.

Showbiz postman patPostman Pat Showbiz Pat stands at 41cm high and requires 3AA batteries to sing and dance.  Showbiz Pat has had a makeover from his usual postal costume and comes complete with a glittery blue suit, microphone and dark glasses.  He definitely looks the part and my children were both eager to meet him when he arrived.  Aimed at ages 3+, Mister B who is 3yrs, is the perfect age to enjoy Postman Pat in action.

showbiz pat 2Postman Pat’s main feature is his singing and dancing in which he performs to 3 different songs including the Special Delivery Service theme tune and Please Mr Postman song.  The songs are activated by pressing his left hand, a simple enough thing for 3yr olds to do.  Mister B has played with Postman Pat over and over and I have to say the Special Delivery Service song is stuck in my head now.  The children not only like listening to him but also have a little dance when I’m not looking!

showiz pat 3We like Postman Pat, the groovy, glitzy Pat has really brought him into the future.  I remember watching endless episodes of Pat with my brother during my childhood many years ago and now 30+ years later my children are enjoying the same.  They’ve seen the trailer for the new Postman Pat movie in the cinema and have already requested to watch it when it comes out, so the Showbiz Postman Pat just reinforces their interest and brings him to life for them.  It’s a slight shame he’s not cuddly too as they’d love to take him to bed but he’s a little too fragile for that!

Here’s a clip of Postman Pat showbiz performing for us – why not take a look?

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the toys in order to write the review.