Reducing energy bills with Zenith energy saving kit – Review

I’ve never really been too concerned with my energy bills, they are never pleasant and seem to gradually creep up all the time but I was rather surprised when speaking to my parents the other day, that their bills are considerably cheaper, yet they live in a house double the size of mine.  I knew it was time to do something about it and the next day Zenith offered to send my one of their energy saving kits to try – perfect timing!

zenith energy saving 1The kit consists of an energy monitor and three handy gadgets to use around the home to help you reduce your energy consumption.

The first of these is the Energenie automatic standby shutdown lead.  This is a handy lead which allows you to cut off the power to one of your appliances rather than having it sitting in standby, ideal for tv’s.  You just plug it into the mains, plug the tv into the lead and when you put your tv into standby using the remote control, this gadget will cut the power off completely for you.  To renable power you do need to press the green button so this does need to be accessible, although my children loved pressing the green button as they are usually the ones to turn the tv on in the mornings.

We also tried the ECO Showerdrop Shower Meter, a simple little gadget that can be hung or fixed to the wall.  It requires calibrating by filling the included bag or a jug with a litre of water so it can judge how fast the water comes out of your shower.  You can then use it to prompt you when it is time to come out of the shower.  My children have just become fascinated with having showers rather than a bath so this is handy to guide them as they do love to stay under the water for rather a long time.  It’s good to get them educated from a young age about water and the environment especially with the costly water bills we have here in the South West.  My husband also was quite surprised as to how much water he was using and has reduced his shower time since using this.  For me personally, I do enjoy a bath in the evening when the children have gone to bed, one of my little luxuries that I’m not willing to give up but I do try to be conscious as to how much I fill it up each time.

The Radiator Booster was one of the energy saving gadgets that really interested me, although due to the warm weather we are currently having, we haven’t had our radiatiors on in order to try this out.  I am very much looking forward to using it in the colder months in a bid to cut down on our heating bill as we live in an Edwardian house with high ceilings and really need the heat to reach around the rooms.  By using this you can look at saving around £140 a year.  It works by sucking the hot air in and circulating it around the room using an inbuilt fan.  It sits nice and slimly on the radiator and needs to be plugged into the mains, and when in use should allow you to turn your thermostat down by up to 3 degrees!

zenith energy kitThe most interesting part of the Zenith Energy Saving kit is the Owl Micro & Wireless Energy Saving Monitor.  I had something similar a few years ago, but it was bulky and had a long wire that took up a plug socket, eventually leading me to giving it away.  This Owl Micro however is a very small, slim design and is wireless!  A great bonus, I can put it anywhere I like, move it around so I can keep an eye on whats happening etc.  It’s simple to use and just requires a few set up steps to get it going, like inputting the date, time, your electricity cost etc.

I found it interesting just keeping an eye on this throughout the day to see what things make the monitor increase.  Big things like the oven, washing machine and tumble dryer certainly made a difference, but obviously I need to use those so I have been more conscious about how long the oven is heating up before I actually put food in it and turning the tumble dryer off when things are dry, not overdrying them.  Also only leaving lights on in the evening that I really need on.

I think using and trying the Zenith Energy saving kit has been interesting and definitely made us more aware of when we switch something on.  What I’m really keen to see now, are my bills when they arrive in a couple of months, hopefully they’ll be noticeably lower than the one I had a few weeks ago.  If they are, then I’m hoping we can build on that the following quarter and reduce them even further.  If it can save you money and be better for the environment then why not try some energy saving measures today?

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and the Zenith Energy Kit was sent to us in order to write the review.

Lego Friends Olivia’s Rainbow – Book Review

Lego Friends Olivia’s Rainbow activity book from The Works is excellent value at £2.99 and comes with a small Lego kit to make to add to your collection.   My daughter Miss M who is 6yrs old has become interested in Lego over the last year and already has a collection of Lego Friends sets.  She was thrilled to see this book and couldn’t wait to get the little cat out and build it’s bed and milk bowl.

Olivias Rainbow Lego FriendsThe book is a lovely quality for an activity style book with 32 full colour pages with a multitude of activities inside.  The contents have really been thought about and I’m really impressed at all the things there are to do.  There is quite a long story called Olivia’s Rainbow which is great for slighter older children to read along with facts about characters in Heartlake City.  There’s many puzzles such as spot the difference, sudoku and quizs along with some more unusual activities such as a simple experiment with water and a mirror to make a rainbow, mixing paints to make different colours and a song to add words to and make into a tune.

Lego Friends bookMiss M has really enjoyed this book, it has given her plenty to do and a story she can read again and again.  The little Lego cat fits perfectly in with her other Lego Friend’s sets and has added to her creativity in playing with Lego.  I think this is a lovely book for a young Lego fan and the activities are fun and a bit different from others you usually see.

lego friend olivia's rainbowAll reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and the book was sent to us in order to write the review.

Design and Drill Set from Learning Resources – Review

Design and Drill Set from Learning Resources is a creative construction set where children can drill patterns and pictures onto a design board.  Aimed at children aged 3-7 years, I thought this would be perfect for my two children to try with Mister B being 3 and Miss M who is 6.  I particularly had Mister B in mind though as he’s quite fancied a drill for a while and I saw this as a great learning activity for him.

Design and drillThe set comes with an activity board, power drill (which requires 3AA batteries), 120 brightly coloured bolts, a wrench, manual screwdriver, 3 attachments for the drill/screwdriver and 20 activity cards.  The drill has 3 settings, forward, off and reverse, something Mister B grasped quickly and loved the abililty to change from drilling the bolts in, to removing them using the reverse option.

design and drill 2Mister B who is 3yrs old was immediately drawn to the Design and Drill Set when he saw the box, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the drill and got to work straight away.  The set allows children to create any design or pattern they wish with coloured bolts on the board.  There are 20 laminated design cards to copy which I think gives a fantastic amount of ideas, they certainly can’t get bored with doing the same designs over and over.

After doing a few simple patterns, Mister B spotted an X shape.  His eyes lit up “I’ve found X marks the spot” and off he started.  He loves X marks the spot and is always drawing pirate maps so this he has declared is his favourite pattern to make.

design and drill 3The Design and Drill Set is not only fun but great for developing early skills such as colour recognition, counting, patterns and motor skills.  The concentration really showed on Mister B’s face as he put each bolt in place and counted along the design card to see where to place the next bolt.

I was surprised to see 6 yr old Miss M be just as keen to have a go and she had fun creating the bigger picture designs such as a house, rocket and boat.

design and drill 5I think this Design and Drill Set has a lot of play and learning value and I have to say that I can’t believe how much my two children have been playing with this.  They use it at every opportunity when they are home and it’s always a battle as to whose turn it is!  They have done some shared designs taking a turn each to put a bolt in.

design and drill 6The bolts are bright and colourful, really engaging for young children giving them endless possibilities of what to create.  My children have enjoyed following the design cards but also made up their own patterns and done letters in their names etc.   See below some of the great designs we have made following the design cards.

design and drill 7I’m really impressed with the Design and Drill set from Learning Resources, it’s provided hours of entertainment for my children already, it’s got some great learning aspects with it, from recognition to fine motor skills and is a very well built, durable toy.  I’d recommend to this anyone with a young child as something that will last and allow your child to gain some valuable skills but is also fun and enjoyable to play with.

I think this will get highly used in this house for sometime yet, they play with it before school, after school, after bathtime in their pyjamas, it really has proved a big hit with us and is definitely one of the top toys that we have at the moment.  Why not check it out for yourself over at Learning Resources ?

design and drill 4All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and the Design & Drill Set was sent to us in order to write the review.

Yellow Mellon Children’s Clothes – Review

Yellow Mellon are a fashion forward online children’s clothing retailer and kindly offered to send my two children a complete outfit to try out.  I know my daughter Miss M can be rather fussy, so provided details of their likes and dislikes, not knowing which items of clothing would be sent.

This is what we received from Yellow Mellon,  presented beautifully in tissue wrapping, like a present waiting to be undone.

Miss M received a Minx denim jumpsuit, made from a lightweight, soft feel fabric.  It has an elasticated waist and buttons down from the top to put on.  She also received a simple, basic style vest top in bright pink to go underneath.  At £12.49 for the jumpsuit and £1.99 for the vest top, I thought this was excellent value for the whole outfit.

yellow mellon 3When I first showed her the outfit, her eyes lit up, and she said ” I love it, can I try it on now?”.  She likes to be comfortable in what she wears and tends to prefer trousers over skirts and dresses, so this outfit was right up her street!

We asked for a size 7-8, although she is only 6, as she is fairly tall and we tend to find a size up is always a better fit.  The pink vest top is a very slim fit and Miss M actually struggled a little getting it on over her head and it didn’t leave much room around her body when on.  Although it did have a soft feel and was comfortable, I would go a size up again if I was to buy one.  The jumpsuit was the perfect length, and good fit around her.  Miss M loved this outfit and found it really comfortable as all the fabric was soft and easy to wear.  It is perfect for everyday wear during the summer and I can see this being worn many more times this year.

Mister B received a smart looking, collared polo shirt by Freaky, with two buttons to undo at the top.  It features stripes in turquoise, grey, white and navy, which Mister B loved.  This seems to be of a good quality and well made.  It is a good thickness and suitable for year round wear.  It also has a smarter look, being collared so suits many occasions.  This was a very good fit and looked perfect on him.  He also tried some Jeans from the Freaky range.  These were also of a good quality and look really stylish.  They were a good fit with an adjustable waist, they were a tiny bit long so we turned them up, but they still looked as good and give him something to grow into.

yellow mellon 2He also loved his outfit and seemed perfectly comfortable in this all day.  I thought he looked smart and my first view of the outfit was that it was from a good brand and didn’t look cheap.

yellow mellon 4I think all the outfits we received were of a better quality than I expected, the clothes certainly all seem to be good value and the designs are all modern and fresh.  Both my children were absolutely thrilled with their outfits which is also important to me and when they have something that is comfortable and they are happy to wear, then, then it makes for a happy family!

yellow mellon 5Yellow Mellon are a clothing company I hadn’t really heard of before and not sure I would have ordered from before trying these clothes.  But seeing the great value isn’t a compromise on quality, then I would be more than happy to purchase from them in the future.

The company have been trading online since 2011, although have over 40 years experience in manufacturing and supplying children’s clothes.  They cover a whole range of designs for 0-13 years, from wardrobe staples to partywear and as well as their own brands, Minx for girls, Freaky for boys, and they also sell a range of character products such as Disney (Frozen, princesses etc), Ben 10, Spiderman, Thomas and Hello Kitty.

Yellow Mellon are very trend led with some of their logo t-shirts for the older ages, which I’m not so keen on, but there are plenty of other plainer items that still feel fashionable, tutu skirts, party dresses, pretty woollen bolero cardigans and lots of accessories such as hairbands and bags.  I also spotted some Disney Frozen pyjamas which I imagine would be a big hit with a lot of young girls right now!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and the clothes were sent to us in order to write the review.

Anthony and the Ants – Book Review

Anthony and the Ants from Parragon books is an amusing little story that made us giggle.  It a nice size picture book with full colour pages and and fun illustrations.

Anthony and the antsThe story follows Anthony the anteater who loves his food, but unfortunately a group of ants keep walking away with his food before he’s had time to eat it.  Anthony starts to get really fed up that this keeps happening so decides to go somewhere else to eat.  I won’t spoil what happens next but it does result in the ants and Anthony being friends and learning to share with each other.

anthony antsAnthony and the Ants is a fun book with a happy ending.  Both my children enjoyed the storyline and thought it was quite amusing.  The pictures help to set the scene for them and they giggled at the ants carrying away all the food.  This is a fun, quick to read story that we’ll enjoy many times over.

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

 

Sky Dancers Starfly Doll – Review

Sky Dancers Starfly from Character Toys is a fairy called Airabella who magically flies and twirls in the sky guided by your hand.  Aimed at ages 5+, Miss M was the perfect age to try one of these out.

StarflyMiss M’s face lit up when she saw the doll and she couldn’t wait to try this out.  You do need plenty of room to fly the doll, so we first tried this at my parents house who have a huge empty room at the moment.  The dolls comes with a base which requires batteries, you then plug the doll in the base to charge her up.  Once charged she will last 10-15 minutes in the air before requiring a recharge.

The Sky Dancer doll does seem quite plasticy and can’t be played with otherwise, but she is quite pretty in design and really appealed to Miss M.  To launch her into the air, you simply place her on the base and press the button.

starfly 1When we tried the Sky Dancer in the air, everyone got quite excited watching her whirl through the air and Miss M was keen to follow her with her hand to guide her around the room. You need to keep you arm straight out to avoid the doll coming near to your face but as you put you hand underneath her she glides higher into the air.

starfly 2The Sky Dancer is a unique toy, very different to other toys that I’ve seen and one that Miss M has absolutely loved playing, kept her active, her younger brother Mister B has been fascinated watching and my parents were impressed with seeing something a little bit different.

She can seem a little delicate when she falls sometimes, but fingers crossed she’s survived any flying into walls.  The doll is a little gimmicky, but on the whole, for the fun, novel value that we’ve had from the doll, I’d say the Sky Dancer is a good interactive toy – it’s nice to try something a bit different.  It certainly get’s a big thumbs up from Miss M who loves playing with the Sky Dancer Starfly doll.

Here’s a little video of the Sky Dancer Starfly in action:

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

Bunny Loves To Learn – Book Review

Bunny Loves to Learn is a gorgeously illustrated picture book written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Emma Foster & Deborah Melmon.  Published by Parragon, this book is a beautifully presented picture book, with full colour pages.

Bunny Loves to learnIt follows the story of a little class of bunnies and their teacher Miss Nibbler.  She brings in a box of costumes and challenges them them to dress up as people who lived a long time ago and make something from the time when they lived and tell the class about it.  After lots of busy making and decisions they finally each do a wonderful show and tell to the the class with a knight, viking, princess and an Egyptian mummy.

Bunny loves to learnxBunny Loves to Learn is a delightful little story with fabulous illustrations that we really enjoyed reading.  We found the storyline interesting and it gave us talking points with each of the costumes being made.  A great little book that we love reading over and over again and is suitable for both my children aged 3 and 6.  They have both enjoyed it

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

 

Tractor Ted Farm Show at Bowood House

Last weekend my children got to meet their favourite tractor.  I hadn’t told them in advance of where they were going but I knew they’d be excited and have a fun day!  We went to Bowood House, where Tractor Ted’s Farm show was being held and we weren’t disappointed, both in the displays and the weather – it was scorching!!

bowood 5My children ran through the gates in total amazement at all the tractors and farm machinery ahead of them, more excited than I expected to be honest but they loved it!  They’ve watched Tractor Ted’s dvd many times and have been pretty glued, and this showed through here at the show.  I half expected them to walk past but they were interested and intrigued and recognised certain vehicles that they saw.

bowood 3The children were keen to check out everything so we had a walk around, viewing different things in marquees, such as farm animals, including some mega cute baby chicks!  There were several Tractor Ted marquees, where we did some colouring, had a go on little ride on diggers and browsed around their shop – which had special prices available just for the show!

We also very briefly met up with the lovely Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One, a shame we didn’t have time to catch up for longer but there’ll be time for that next weekend at Britmums!

We took a family ride in a trailer, towed by a huge CLAAS tractor around the Bowood estate, saw some sheep being sheared and then watched some amazing JCB displays in the arena.  One of our favourite things was the Bowood Lamb National, a race between five sheep, which the children thought it was hilarious!

bowood 4 We took a look at some diggers and tractors close up and the children were allowed to jump inside to try them out – Mister B couldn’t wait to get his hands on the gear sticks!

bowood 2One thing my children had spotted was the funfair, I don’t normally like paying for them to go on these sort of rides but as we hadn’t paid to go in, and they had been so well behaved, I said they can choose two each.  Miss M, the fearless and ever daring girl that she is wanted to try the trampolines in harnesses and the mini quad bikes which she really enjoyed.  Mister B whose a bit timid and shy stuck to the bouncy slide and swings.

bowood 6Last but not least, my children had been requesting all day to have a go on Tractor Ted’s bouncy castle, so we let them have a go before the long drive home.  They loved it and it made a great end to a great day!

bowood 1

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas from Dove and Radox

With Father’s Day looming, it’s time to get shopping for a gift to give the Dad in your life.  With two young children, we only look to buy small value items that they can give to daddy.  With a daddy who has most things he needs, I try to avoid anything gimmicky or things that would end up as clutter so I try to search out for useful gifts for the children to give to daddy.  Things such as chocolate are always a winner and something that will be eaten up quickly.

Another useful idea is toiletries, something a dad will always use, not too expensive and a great idea for him to try out something new.  Dove have produced a range of gift sets, perfect to give your dad this Father’s Day.

WP_007279We were sent the Daily Care Duo to try out, a set containing a bottle of Body and Face Wash and a can of 48hour anti-perspirant deodorant.  Interestly the can is one of the new compressed can’s and looks quite small, but should last the same length of time. Handy for travel or for the gym bag!  This set is aimed at the Active and Playful Dad, well our’s does cycle to and from work each day so this will be great to use in the shower after his cycle.  These smell manly and fresh and my husband was pleased with them and would definitely use them again.  He also agreed he’d be happy to receive a gift set like this on Fathers Day.

WP_007276

We also tried the Radox Muscle Therapy bath soak.  This contains a stimulated blend including black pepper and ginseng to really help you relax.  As you run the bath, the fragrance fills the bathroom, making it the perfect environment to relax in.  Our daddy prefers showers to baths, but admitted that this is definitely relaxing and enjoyed laying down in the bath for a while – a great little treat!

 

If you are still looking for a Father’s Day gift or want to get a little extra, then why not check out one of this gift ideas from Dove or Radox.  These are great for someone that is hard to buy for, has everything he wants or if you aren’t looking to spend too much.  We’d recommend them and our daddy says he’d be more than happy to receive them on Father’s Day!

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

Let’s Bake by Cathryn Dresser – Book Review

Let’s Bake! by Cathryn Dresser, a former contestant of The Great British Bake Off, is a wonderful children’s recipe book with 52 different ideas to bake.  The book is divided into seasons with recipes suited to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter which come with step by step instructions worded in a fun and simple way.   There are also a few pages of tips and techniques at the front of the book, perfect for young bakers to learn from.

Let's bakeWhen we were flicked through the book, I can honestly say that nearly all of the recipes appealed to us, with Miss M eagerly making a list of all the things she wants to try.  The recipes are really simply written with lots of bright, clear pictures to help you see what you are trying to achieve.  Some recipes that Miss M is keen to try are the Welsh Rarebit Pinwheels, Petit Croque-monsieur Croissants and the Scrumptious Strawberry and Cream Meringues.  I want to try the Herb Soda Bread and the Easy Feta Cheese Triangles.  As you can see there is a great variety of recipes, with a mixture of sweet and savoury that have appealing flavours and ingredients to children.

lets bake 2We decided to make something sweet first that we could all share and one thing we’d all had our eye on was the Wicked Chocolate Brownies.  They were so simple to make and Miss M made them with minimal help. I just helped to measure out the ingredients, melt the chocolate while she mixed everything in a bowl and her favourite bit, which was to crack the eggs!

cath dresser 1Once out of the oven, we left them to cool and then cut them into squares. The recipe was very easy to follow and perfect for young ones who love to mix.  We were very pleased with the result which we ate when still warm and they had a lovely squidgy texture, slightly gooey in the middle.  In fact they didn’t last long at all – an indulgent chocolatey treat that we can’t wait to make again!

cath dresser 2I think Let’s Bake! by Cathryn Dresser is a really lovely book, beautifully presented with lots of content and most importantly recipes that we like and want to cook.  We will get lots of use out of this book and I think Miss M will grow up using it regularly, gaining lots of good baking skills from it.  I’d definitely recommend this for young bakers!

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