The Snowman and The Snowdog Soft Toy – Review

I remember growing up watching the Raymond Briggs film, The Snowman each Christmas, and now my children get to watch both the original along with it’s sequel.  Released 30 years after the original, The Snowman and The Snowdog is a great traditional film which will be shown on Channel 4 this Christmas that we’ll be sure to watch.  It is a very festive easy to watch movie, that all the family can sit down and enjoy and kids across all ages will love.

snowdog2As part of the new range of associated gifts available this year, I’m taking part in the 12 Days of Christmas with The Snowman and The Snowdog blog tour, which showcases the various items available from books, dvd’s to Thornton chocolate gifts.

I received The Snowdog soft toy to try out and I have to say he is super soft, making him really tactile for little ones.  Available now from Amazon and all good independents, he retails for an rrp of £9.99.

snowdogThe Snowdog is suitable from birth and along with his soft, squishy, white body he has a textured patch on each side.  He also has odd, patterned socks for ears, that little ones will love to touch and cling on to.  Mister B has already taken ownership of him in our house and is a regular at bedtime.  I’ve told Mister B all about the film and he can’t wait to watch it now and see his little snowdog on the screen – a perfect accompaniment and keepsake for the film.

snowdog3Here’s a taster video of The Snowman and The Snowdog film being shown this Christmas on Channel 4 – keep an eye out, we will be and look forward to cosying up on the sofa to watch it:

The blog tour continues at http://madhousefamilyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/ tomorrow so make sure you pop by to find out about another of The Snowman and The Snowdog gifts.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the snowdog soft toy in order to write the review and take part in the blog tour.

 

Wallcreate Canvas Review and Giveaway

Everyone loves turning their photos into canvasses to adorn their walls, so when Wallcreate contacted me to try out one of their canvas prints, I was keen to see what they were like.  Having spent the previous weekend at our local National Trust property, I knew I had a picture of the children looking over the estuary that would be good to turn into a canvas for my wall.

canvasThe canvas is 40x30cm printed onto high quality canvas cotton with a 2cm wooden frame.  What I like about Wallcreate is the variety of options they offer you during the ordering service, from the different sizes of canvas, choice of 2 frame depths, choice of colour of the edge of the frame and various effects you can add to your picture.

I’m really pleased with my canvas, it was hard to get a good photo to show you with all these dark days we are having but the picture is clear, just as in the original photograph.  These canvasses are great if you have a photo you want to treasure and have on display or they also make a great gift to give to someone.

Wallcreate have kindly offered one of my readers the chance of winning their own 40x30cm canvas – simply enter my giveaway below:

wallcreate

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

Kitchen Appliance Wishlist

With a view to moving house in the near future, I’m always on the lookout for items I’d love in my new kitchen.  I love the colour silver, therefore stainless steel and grey coloured appliances always appeal to me, and being neutral means you can brighten up the kitchen with other cheaper accessories.

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One must have for my future kitchen is a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Medallion Silver, perfect for all the baking I love to do, but also a stylish piece to sit on the worktop.

 

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Something I’ve always desired in the corner of my kitchen is a large American Fridgefreezer with lots of shelves and storage inside.  A water cooler dispenser on the outside would be great too, so that I can pour a glass of chilled water whenever I like.

 

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A toaster is something that my family use on a daily basis so needs to stay out on the work surfaces at all times.  Therefore I want one that looks good but also can do four pieces of toast at a time.  I like this Russell Hobbs model with it’s stylish looks and additional features.

 

 

z3Finally an absolute essential for my new kitchen is a dishwasher.  I’ve never owned one, well other than the husband, but I need something much more efficient.  I get fed up seeing piles of dirty dishes on the side waiting to be washed and with a dishwasher I can hide them away.  I like the clean, sleek lines of this Miele dishwasher which would fit seamlessly into any kitchen.

 

What appliances do you desire to own in your kitchen?

 

This is a collaboration post

Our Family Halloween Weekend 2014

This year the children were very excited about Halloween and couldn’t wait to celebrate.  Miss M was keen to dress up although Mister B just wanted to wear his scary hat.  Miss M wanted a new outfit so we set off to Tesco and she picked a sparkly black and silver dress and mask.  She also added some coloured hair clips with coloured strands hanging from them to spook her hair up a bit.

halloween 1We then headed home to carve our pumpkins that I’d bought a couple of weeks earlier (after previous years experience of not being able to buy within a few days of Halloween itself!).  Having left it a little late in the day to carve them, I decided to let the ever eager Miss M carve one and daddy do the other while I turned the insides into a delicious, warming soup!  Daddy carved a Spiderman face for Mister B and Miss M attempted her first pumpkin face.

halloween 2The evening was soon upon us and the children were eager to go trick or treating.  We met up with a few neighbours and followed the children up the road and around the block, only knocking on doors with a pumpkin in sight!  I have to say I was quite surprised by their haul, it’ll certainly keep them filled up with sweet treats for a few weeks, although Mister B, bless him, chose an orange from one house which he declared his favourite thing from his trick or treating haul and ate it straightaway!

halloween 8The next day we decided to continue the Halloween theme and visit our local National Trust property, Saltram House to do their pumpkin trail around the grounds.  The children love running around in the fresh air and with the added excitement of finding the pumpkins it kept them more than occupied.

halloween 3I love all the views from Saltram across the estuary, you are so close to the city centre yet feel so far away!

halloween 4Once the trail was complete and the children had handed in their clipboards we headed into the gardens of the wonderful Saltram House.  I just adore the exterior of the building and always have to stand and admire it each time I visit.

halloween 6The gardens still had a lot of the traditional garden games on the lawn which the children love and can play endlessly which is fabulous.  Such simple, classic games but so much fun, we played skittles, croquet, quoits and then they practising goal shooting in the football net.

halloween 5It was then time for some refreshments and instead of heading to the usual cafe we decided to try the new Edwardian cafe that opened this year to the side of the lawn for some tea and cake!  In vintage style with white linen table cloths, flowers and proper teapots, cups and saucers, it felt much more elegant and refined than the traditional cafe.  Miss M was loving it and so impressed that she got to pour her hot chocolate from a teapot and drink it from a proper little cup and saucer.  They also enjoyed a large shortbread biscuit each covered in chocolate toppings!

halloween 7All in all a fabulously pleasant and enjoyable Halloween weekend had by all the family!

e-cloth General Purpose and Kitchen Cloths – Review

With a busy household and two messy children to clean up after, I’m always on the look out for ways to make it easier and quicker.  I’d heard of e-cloths but never tried them before, always a little sceptical at the concept of just using water rather than adding cleaning products.  I was sent the general purpose e-cloth and the kitchen cleaning e-cloth packs to try out.

e-clothThe Kitchen pack consists of two cloths, a highly absorbent cleaning cloth for surfaces and appliances, and a glass & polishing cloth.  The cleaning cloth is really thick and soft with an additional scouring pocket on one side which is really useful for putting your fingers in to scrub stubborn marks.  I have to say I was really impressed with the amount of dirt and crumbs the cleaning cloth picked up in one wipe.  In particular with my two little messy eaters, I can often find a table full of toast or Weetabix crumbs which take several wipes to gather up the bits, but the e-cloth just picked up every last bit in one wipe, meaning I could clean up a lot quicker.  This being the same for spills too, the cloth is so absorbent I could mop up a spill a lot quicker, and believe me we get spills daily in this house!

I like the addition of the buffing cloth, to give things an extra shine, which I found useful on my oven, hob, extractor fan, and taps – a quick, easy way to finish things off and leave the kitchen looking really clean!

e cloth 2The general purpose cloth is much like the kitchen cloth in it’s soft, thick quality and high absorbency.  What I like is that the cloths are colour coded and labeled so you can ensure you keep the same cloths to the same areas and not mix a kitchen surface cloth with somewhere a little dirtier.  I have used the general use cloth to clean windowsills, they absorb a lot of the morning condensation that we get on ours in this cold weather as well as dirty marks on door frames and just generally around the house.

The e-cloths have definitely made a change from the normal cloths I use, an improvement that definitely makes housework quicker and easier.  An added bonus is that these cloths can be washed upto 300 times meaning that they last a lot longer than a sponge cloth too!

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

Threadsmiths Water & Dirt Repellent T-shirt – Review

Threadsmiths is a clothing technology company based in Australia that have created a rather new and interesting patented nanotechnology that can make fabric both water proof and dirt proof.  Sounds amazing, so I couldn’t wait to see what it was really like.

threadsmiths 2They have produced a line of T-shirts currently only available in adult sizes, so we received an XS for Miss M to try out.  They are plain white, but a high quality cotton and feel surprisingly normal.  I guess I was expecting them to feel a little different but they don’t, just a nice, soft, quality breathable cotton.

The nanotechnology in this T-shirt helps to minimise the surface area for water and dirt to stick to, resulting in it beading up and rolling off of the fabric.

threadsmithsWe couldn’t wait to put it to the test so went into the garden to see how wet and dirty we could make Miss M’s T-shirt.  We started by throwing some water over her but no matter how much we poured, the water just beaded up and rolled off.  All that got wet was her arm, but the T-shirt remained bone dry!  We then tried a couple of sauces on the top, but like the water they just rolled off, or required a little water and light rub of your fingers to brush it off.

You can watch us in action here:

I found the resistance to liquid and dirt to be quite impressive, better than I expected.  I see this as a potentially fabulous technology particularly in something like baby or children’s clothing.  Can you imagine all the drink spills, milk from the cereal bowl and toothpaste spills just rolling off their clothes, this is certainly something I’d like to see more of within fabrics.

Will the protection last on the T-shirt?  Obviously I haven’t had it long enough to tell, although Threadsmiths claim that the T-shirts are fully machine washable and to maintain the water repellency it is advised to tumble dry the T-shirts every few washes.

This T-shirt has certainly responded to liquids and dirt very differently to any other clothing we own and with a children’s T-shirt coming soon from Threadsmiths, it is definitely something to look out for in the future!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the T-shirt in order to write the review.

Frozen Princess Elsa Dress Up Costume – Review

Frozen is the hit Disney film has created a huge buzz among young girls this year and Miss M is no exception,  so when I heard that Otley Run Fancy Dress have added a selection of children’s Frozen costumes to their website I was eager to check them out.

Miss M has decided on a Frozen theme for her 7th birthday so this dress is the perfect outfit for her to wear!

elsa 4As you can see this dress is a gorgeous blue satin full length skirt with a sequin bodice and silver detail along the waistline and top.  There is a detachable Elsa badge in the centre.  There are chiffon style sleeves and the most gorgeous full length attached chiffon cape covered in glimmery snowflakes.

elsa 2I’ve seen a few versions of the Elsa dress around recently and would definitely say this is the best quality of the ones I’ve found.  Miss M adores the flowing cape, even though it’s attached, it really does make the costume stand out from the others.

We found the sizing of this particular dress to be on the small size and found the size up to be best fitting for Miss M and I can honestly say she loves it.  She can’t wait to show her friends at her birthday party in 7 weeks time!

elsa 3This is the sort of outfit I would expect to receive if I ordered from a fancy dress company and would certainly not be let down.  It has been a hit with both me and my daughter therefore I’d definitely recommend, although I’d suggest going a size up if you want this to last.

This dress up costume totally represents Princess Elsa from Frozen which is what most young girls are looking for right now.  I’d recommend this for any Frozen fan wanting to dress up as their idol and be the princesss of their dreams!

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

Read with Biff, Chip & Kipper App – Review

Biff, Chip and Kipper, the characters from the much loved, popular reading scheme for children have been turned into apps by Gazoob, a leading designer of children’s educational and games apps. The apps feature six levels of reading and phonics books and with 48 books in total, there is plenty to keep your little ones occupied either on their own or reading aloud with you.

biff kipperThe app is easy to use and it didn’t take my 4yr old long to work out what to press to get to where he wanted to be.  He loved just listening to stories and repeated each sentence after hearing them.  There are also some fun little activities at the end and one to find a certain object hidden on each page throughout the book.  I liked the questions at the end to check the child’s understanding of what he had read or listened to.  Mister B loved the spot the difference puzzles too!

Each level has 8 books, 4 reading stories and 4 phonics books.  The phonics books are brilliant for Mister B who is just learning his sounds.  He could practice, trace the letters and see words beginning with that letter.  There are plenty of activities to keep him interested but I found it best to sit down with him doing these to ensure he knew what he was learning about and what he had to do on each page.

I think the app really helps parents to encourage children to practice and reinforce what they’ve learnt at school in a fun way.

biff kip chipperMiss M is 6 and a confident reader but she enjoyed reading the books from the higher levels by herself before bed.  I wasn’t sure she’d be keen but the Biff, Chip and Kipper books really seemed to appeal to her.  The stories are fun and easygoing with a widespread appeal and certainly kept her quiet!

biff kip chipper 2The apps are available for iPhone and iPad from the App Store, Android from Google Play and the Windows Store.

You can see a trailer about the apps here:

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

 

Mister B’s 4th Birthday

A couple of weeks ago my dear Mister B celebrated his 4th birthday.  He was so excited, although had been quite specific in his requests for his special day.  He only wanted a few friends round at home, for dancing, pass the parcel and musical statues so that’s exactly what we did.

3After opening his presents early in the morning, we then walked big sister, Miss M to school.  Usually being a little shy and reluctant to talk to strangers, he had a new found courage now that he is 4 and told everyone we saw along the way that he is now 4! lol

In the afternoon Daddy took him to the aquarium while I prepped for the party, and he proudly told the receptionist that he was 4 meaning Daddy had to buy a membership card for him.  They then picked Miss M up from school and came home eagerly awaiting his friends to arrive.

Amazingly they all bought him Spiderman toys which he thought was hilarious, but incredibly pleased with them.  We played various games to music and then I suggested my favourite party game to calm them down, Sleeping Lions.  To my surprise they all cheered and told me how much they loved that game, and before I said anything more they were all laid down on the floor with their eyes shut… and their was silence!!

I then sat them down for some party food followed by singing Happy Birthday and blowing the candles on his Spiderman cake!  Mister B was thrilled with his cake (even though mummy cheated and bought the cake! Shhh!).

Blake 4For the next week Mister B has proudly told everyone, everywhere that he is 4, from the cashiers in the supermarkets, to teachers at the school, and anyone, anywhere that I happen to chat to!   On the Saturday, Nanny & Grandad kindly took us to Prezzo to celebrate his birthday where he enjoyed pizza followed by chocolate ice cream.  Then he opened his presents from them and as you can see in the above picture, his favourite present believe it or not was a Spiderman cushion!  He has been so cute and lays his head on this everynight.  Aw my baby boy is growing up, and whenever I’ve called him my little baby or little boy over the last two weeks, he turns round and says “I’m not your baby, I’m 4!!”

Barbie Malibu House – Review

Barbie Malibu House from Mattel has to be every little girls dream house to for their Barbie dolls to live in and it certainly brought a huge grin to Miss M’s face when she received this to review.

barbieThe Barbie Malibu House comes in a large box but only partially built so does require some self assembly to put it all together and additional stickers to finish the decor.  This will require an adult and took me a good half hour to get it all finished.  Personally I would pre build this if it was a gift so that the child receiving it could play with it immediately and no messing around on the morning of a birthday or Xmas.

barbie 1Once built the Barbie Malibu House consists of a fold out house which on one side is the front of the Malibu house with large opening double front doors and on the reverse is the inside of the house built on two levels with a spiral staircase to get between floors.  The staircase has a cyclindrical fish tank down the centre making it very stylish and a very clever mechanism that you stand a doll in, pull down a lever on the side of the house and the doll moves upstairs by herself!  You can also do the reverse to come down again.

barbie 2The house also folds around into square shape to close it up for easy storage and clips shut.  We do prefer to leave it open though against a wall so we can leave all the furniture set up and it’s always accessible to play with.

The house is split into six areas plus the staircase with upstairs having a tv lounge, bedroom and bathroom, and downstairs a kitchen, hallway and sitting area.  I have to say I was quite impressed with the amount of accessories and furniture that are included with this house, much more than I expected making it a complete toy ready to play with.  The only thing you need to add is a doll.  Everything you see in the pictures below comes as part of the Barbie Malibu House, the only thing we have added are the dolls!

barbie 3The modern sitting area upstairs includes a rather funky circular chair and a tv screen which if you wish you can simply slot a smartphone into it and play a video for Barbie and your child to watch!  My children were quite fascinated by this and we did watch some short Barbie clips on there but I wouldn’t leave my phone in their unsupervised.  This would be perfect though if you have an old phone that you no longer use and you weren’t worried what happened to it.

barbie 4The bathroom contains a toilet with lift up seat and a vanity unit sink area, the bedroom has a reversible bed that when lifted up converts to a wardrobe and shower.  The bed comes with two plastic pillows and a fabric duvet cover.  In the kitchen there is a full width kitchen unit containing an oven, hob, sink and fridge.  The oven and fridge open so that you can put things inside.

barbie 5Included in the house are a sofa, coffee table, bubble chair, taller table, 2 chairs, lamp, tablet, phone, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cutlery, various drink cups, plates, pizza, bowl of popcorn, vase of flowers and much more!!  Both tables have a pretty looking design on top as does the kitchen worktop.  It wasn’t until we began to play that I realised a rather ingenious design concept with them is that there are small indents that match the bottom of all the plates, cups, bottles, kettle etc which enables them to fit together so that you can’t knock anything off!  I was really impressed with this as I remember as a child spending much time trying to stand little items on a table for my dolls.  Here if you knock over a table all the items stay attached – perfect!

barbie 6The imaginative play potential with this Barbie house is fantastic.  Both of my children got stuck in straight away taking the dolls on adventures and inviting them over for tea.  They loved knocking on the large front door and letting the guest dolls in for a party.  What I like about the Barbie Malibu House is that it is quite wide, which easily allows more than one child to play at a time.

barbie 8Although the Barbie house is plastic, it does feel strong and durable, and the accessories are a softer plastic meaning they are unlikely to break.  I think this is an amazing house that will provide hours of fun and be a dream toy for most young girls.  With the special lift to get up the stairs, the double sided bed/wardrobe and all of the pretty accessories, there is so much to play with and do, which along with their imagination will give hours of playtime.

barbie 7I think the Barbie Malibu House would be the perfect toy for any young Barbie fan, it really does help to bring your dolls adventures to life and has lots of pretty features that make it a dream house for your dolls to live in.  I know this would have been at the top of my Christmas list many, many years ago!

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