Halloween craft from Baker Ross – Review

Halloween is a time of year my children love, dressing up, carving pumpkins and lots of spooky crafts.  Baker Ross has a wonderful selection of children’s crafts that different and fun, in fact both my children thoroughly enjoyed this selection.

baker ross halloweenThey were keen to decorate the top hats which I think is a really fun idea as it gives them something to wear at the end of it.   We also received some brightly coloured foam skull stickers to use and along with some coloured pens the children got to work.

baker ross halloween 2The hats came in three pieces which were easy to stick together with a bit of pva glue.  Once finished they looked fun as well as scary due to the bright colours and my children proudly paraded them around the house and are keeping them ready to wear on Halloween!

baker ross halloween 3Next we had a go at the stained glass monkey decorations which were really effective.  The monkeys come with pre punched shapes that the children enjoyed popping out.  Then they cut pieces of coloured cellophane which they glued onto the back of the monkey.

baker ross halloween 4This was simpler to do than I initially thought as you didn’t have to be that neat or precise with the cutting out as once the monkey is turned over you can’t see all the cellophane shapes and just see an amazing stain glass effect.  I thought these looked really good especially held up to the light!

baker ross halloween 5The haunted houses scratch art are fabulous, I never expected them to be so easy to scratch and the sparkly silver effect that they reveal underneath is really effective.  The pack comes with pre cut black haunted house shapes in various designs along with some plastic sticks to scratch with.

baker ross halloween 6Just a gentle touch was required with the stick to uncover a wonderful sparkly silver.  I wasn’t sure this activity would be suitable for my youngest but he proved me wrong and without any assistance, created a staircase with a spider hanging down and a bat flying overhead – I was so impressed.  Miss M on the other hand was well away inspired by the designs on the front of the packet.

baker ross halloween 7We absolutely love the sparkly finished designs and will be decorating our house with these for Halloween.

All the Baker Ross Halloween inspired crafts have been fabulous and an excellent way for children to be creative, a lot of fun with some great results!

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

 

Slimfast New Starter Box and Noodles – Review

Slimfast is one weightloss plan I go back to again and again because for me it works.  I like knowing what I am going to be eating during the day, I enjoy the shakes and I like the ready packed snacks which are easy to grab on the go.

Slimfast have just relaunched their products along with a new image and some great new products which I am going to share with you and let you know what I think.

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Above you can see the newly launched 7 day starter box, a fabulous introduction into the world of Slimfast that comes with enough snacks and meal replacement products to last you a week along with recipe ideas for your evening meals.  For anyone that hasn’t tried Slimfast before this is a great way to get introduced to the various products on offer and taste a variety of flavours.  Included are a selection of ready made shakes, meal replacement bars and snacks, including crisp type snacks and chocolate bars.

Personally I love the savoury snack bags of Sour Cream and Chive Pretzels or Cheddar Cheese Bites, they are just what you need mid morning to keep you going and replace a high calorie bag of crisps that I’d usually grab!

The 3.2.1. plan allows you to have three snacks a day, two meal replacements (either a shake or meal bar) and one healthy evening meal.

 

A new product to the Slimfast range are noodle boxes!  The amazing thing about these noodle snack boxes are that all the flavours contain less than 100 calories with the Spicy Thai flavour containing just 70 calories.  These can be replaced instead of any snack and are a great alternative if you are looking forward to a savoury snack.  They come in three flavours, Chicken Tikka Masala (81 cals), Spaghetti Bolognase (76 cals) and Spicy Thai (70 cals) which is a vegetarian one.

They are made with SlimTaki® noodles which are made from konjac, the Asian root vegetable that contains virtually no calories and zero fat and sugar.  So what do they taste like?  I have to say I was very impressed, they come with a thick, rich sauce and smell delicious.  What I would never believe though is that there are just 70 calories in a box, that’s quite amazing and there is not much else you can eat for such a low amount other than a piece of fruit!
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I started the 7 day plan and find it really easy to follow.  For me to stick to a plan I have to know exactly what I’m eating so I get all my snacks and meal replacements out the night before.  You can eat other snacks instead of the ones provided and I often add a piece of fruit or low fat yoghurt into my day.  I also find it important to plan my evening meal and although there are some recipe ideas included in 7 day starter box, I did find that there are many more idea on the Slimfast website.  Knowing what I am eating is half the battle of losing weight for me and being planned helps me keep on track and get the results.

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So for my results:

I lost 6lb in 7 days – yay!!!  I do find that in the first few days of following the plan I lose a lot of water, especially if I’ve not been eating so well in the few weeks before.  I know in future weeks I can only expect to lose around 2lbs per week if I stick to the plan but that’s good for slow steady weightloss that’s maintainable.

I really enjoy the Slimfast plan as it allows me to eat food I like, a lot of the snacks feel like treats and a 600 calorie dinner at the end of the day feels quite generous.  I add plenty of vegetables and it’s easy to fill full after eating a big plateful even though it’s low calorie.

You can hear my thoughts on the Slimfast plan here in this short video:

All reviews are my own and my honest opinions and I received the products in order to write the review.

WIN Barbie™ in Rock ‘n Royals on DVD

Barbie™ in Rock ‘n Royals is the latest DVD from Barbie™ and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.  With lots of musical scenes and singing, the films sees Princess Courtney and popstar Erika get mixed up and in the wrong training camps.  Princess Courtney in pop camp and Erika in Royalty camp.  The film’s storyline is all about friendship, team working and making the most of the situation you are in, which Courtney and Erika certainly do in order to succeed and it’s down to their determination that the film comes to a happy ending.

Barbie in Rock N Royals still 1I watched this with both my children who remained glued to the screen throughout, although 4yr old Mister B loved the funny bits and repeated them out loud.  7yr old Miss M really enjoyed it and liked the sing off finale at the end.  At 1hr and 20 mins long this is the right length to keep their attention.

Barbie in Rock N Royals still 4This Barbie™ film is fun, with the traditional style princess Barbie™ but also a modern edge with the pop camp where the girls had lots of funky coloured hairstyles and groovy dance moves!

Barbie in Rock n' Royals 3D DVD pack shotTo celebrate the release of the brand new super star musical Barbie™ in Rock ‘n Royals, available now on DVD and Digital Download, we are offering 1 reader the chance to win a copy of the DVD!

Barbie® stars as Princess Courtney, a modern princess whose world is turned upside down when a mix-up sends her to Camp Pop and Erika, a famous rockstar, to Camp Royalty! Both Courtney and Erika learn to adjust to the different worlds and have fun while making new, unexpected friends. When the girls learn both camps are at risk of shutting down, they must embrace their differences, find their true voices, and come together for an epic sing-off that shows anything is possible when you dare to dream big!

For fun activities to print, create and colour in, visit BeSuper.com

A range of dolls are also available to complete the Rock ‘n Royal experience, which we all had fun reviewing here!

Barbie in Rock n Royals DVD

Don’t miss this brand-new musical adventure, Barbie™ in Rock ‘n Royals, available now on DVD and Digital Download!

©2015 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved

©2015 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

BRITA back to school hydration challenge – Results and Giveaway

Following on from my post last week about the Brita back to school hydration challenge, Miss M has now successfully used her Brita Fill & Go bottle for a whole week at school so I’m keen to share with you how she got on. #BetterWithBRITA

Brita Some of the facts Brita found out about children and how much water they drink are:

  • Almost thee quarters of parents (73%) do not know how much their children drink whilst at school
  • Two thirds (66%) do not know the recommended daily intake of fluid for children
So 7yr old Miss M went to school armed with her new bottle, it can be used with or without the internal straw, but she prefered without and just liked to tip it up.  Each day after school I asked her to show me how much water was left in the bottle and how many times she had filled it up.
brita MThe bottle holds 600ml and it’s recommended that your child drinks two of these during the school day which I do think is a lot.  I was surprised to hear that Miss M had filled her bottle two times every day last week and each day she only came back with about an inch of water in the bottle which I think is excellent – she must have been drinking at least a litre of water during the school day which even she said is much more than she usually does.
The stickers on the side of the bottle definitely helped and she was motivated by them and wanted to drink the amount of water as per the guide on the stickers.  I think talking about it with her each day also helped as it kept her focused on how much she drunk and she was eager to show me her bottle at the end of each day.
I think the Brita Fill & Go with stickers has really motivated my daughter to think about how much she is drinking and also drink more than usual.  It’s a great idea to get children motivated into keeping themselves hydrated.
For more information about the Brita Fill & Go check out their page HERE.
I have one Brita Fill & go bottle including stickers to give away to one lucky reader.  Just fill in the Gleam form below:

We received a Brita Fill & Go bottle in order to join in with this challenge

Character products from Brantano – Review

Both my children love having popular characters on their clothes, shoes and other items and Brantano have a great selection available.  With characters such as Peppa Pig, Star Wars, Frozen, Minions, Barbie, Disney Princesses and many more there really is something for everyone and they are sure to have your children’s favourite.

brantanoWith Mister B loving Spiderman right now, these Spiderman Light up trainers were sure to be a hit.  He absolutely loves them and doesn’t want to take them off.  At £24 they feel well made for character shoes, and have lots of thought about detail and easy to fasten velcro straps.

brantano 2The exciting bit for Mister B is jumping around and watching his shoes light up at the heel with a bright red flash!  They fit well and are comfortable, meaning he’s happy to wear them and they are great for walking about in for everyday wear, after school and at weekends.

brantano 3As you can see he loves his shoes and I always think it’s a good thing if a child likes their shoes as it’s so much easier to get out of the house rather than battling with them to put things on they don’t like.

Miss M is back to packed lunches at school this year so needed a new lunch box and was thrilled to pick out this Frozen one.  It’s a lunch bag style with a soft, padded carry handle and zips around to close.  It has some pretty detail on the side and on the back it has a place to write your child’s name.

brantano 4It’s a really good size so easily fits food for lunch, snack and a drink bottle inside.  It has a grey wipe clean interior that is easy to clean with a quick wipe round and it’s ready to use again the next day.  Miss M loves her Frozen themed lunchbox and it has daily use at school each week.

Why not take a look at the other character products at Brantano?

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

 

 

 

Barbie Rock ‘n Royals Doll – Review

Barbie Rock ‘n Royals is the latest Barbie movie to be released which we watched last week and it kept both children glued to the screen, so Miss M was thrilled when the Courtney Barbie doll from Mattel arrived for her to try out.  Courtney is the main star of the film, a royal princess who ends up getting mixed up when she goes to attend Camp Royalty but ends up at Camp Pop.  She embraces her time at the camp and learns to become a pop singer which is reflected in this doll, who’s outfit can be changed instantly from princess to pop star by lifting the dolls arm!

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Courtney is beautifully dressed in a pretty pink princess outfit, tiara and silver shoes and when you push her arm down her body spins around to show a rock star outfit of a glitzy pink, black and silver dress and top.  She has long bright pink hair and holds a pink microphone.  To transform her back, simply lift her arm up and she twists back.

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This Barbie doll really does feel like she’s stepped right out of the film into your living room, and Miss M loves playing with her and singing along, as she also sings clips of songs from the film as she transforms.  You can also play shorter clips of the tunes by pressing the gem button on her necklace without her transforming.  The children loved doing this and hearing the songs again and again.

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Princess Courtney Barbie has been a much loved Barbie in this house with her pretty pink hair and beautiful outfits.   She’s modern but elegant at the same time and I have to say one of my favourite Barbies of Miss M’s collection.  She certainly entertains us with her singing after school each day!!

barbie 6

Barbie Rock ‘n Royals has been a big hit with us, I think it always help bring a doll to life when she’s come from a film, as the children already feel like they know her and use their imagination to play out scenes that they remember from the film.  So as you can imagine, Courtney has been acting our her princess to pop star transformation lots of times here with us!

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

Autumn Crafts from Baker Ross

Baker Ross crafts have proved hugely popular with my children, I think partly because they are simple to do, and also because they are different to other craft sets therefore immediately engage my children’s interest.  We have been sent some Autumn crafts to try, so you can read below how we got on.

Baker Ross xWith the Rugby World Cup due to start on the 18th September (as I keep being reminded by the husband!), these cute little wooden trophy magnets, immediately caught the children’s eye.  They both eagerly sat down to decorate them, using some acrylic deco pens also from Baker Ross which are excellent for surfaces such as these.

baker ross 2Each trophy has a stick on magnet to apply to the back which the children added and then put their trophies on our fridge door.  They really enjoyed decorating these and I think they’d be a great craft for children to do and take home at birthday parties etc.

baker ross 3Next up is this rather fabulous hedgehog sewing kit.  At first glance I thought it may be a bit tricky, but it’s been cleverly designed to incorporate sewing and sticking, meaning children don’t get bored and get to see the finished result surprisingly quickly.

baker ross 4There are two pieces of felt that form the main body of the hedgehog that require sewing together for which a plastic needle is provided.  Miss M loved doing this, then she got to stuff the creature  with the wadding which was also fun.  To decorate the front, there are sticky backed felt pieces making it really simple to do and Miss M was thrilled with the finished result.  Hedgehog now goes to bed with her each night!

baker ross 6Miss M was keen to try the cross stitch kits which are a lovely selection of card animals with a selection of brightly coloured thread to stitch with.  We started with the hedgehog as Miss M wanted a friend for her sewn hedgehog above.  Although it’s was Miss M’s first attempt at cross stitch she did incredibly well.  The cardboard templates are strong and stay flat making it easy for young ones to stitch, there are also big needles included, perfect for little fingers.

baker ross 5I’m really pleased with these kits, they make sewing for children simple and it encourages them to practice and want to do more.  Miss M has started on the fox cross stitch next and I can’t wait to see them all finished.

If you want to see some more fun crafts, then we have some Halloween inspired crafts from Baker Ross coming up next week, so keep an eye out for the blog post.

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

Itty Bittys from Hallmark – Review and Giveaway

Itty Bittys are a new range of collectible plush toys from Hallmark.  Arriving in the UK in October 2015, they have already been a huge success in both America and Australia, selling out in some of the popular models.  Itty Bittys are based on popular tv and film characters that will be familiar to all, allowing you to choose your favourites to collect.  I believe these will appeal to all ages from children to adults and the UK will soon see people collecting them as they are in other parts of the world.

itty bittysFirst of all, I have to refer to the name Itty Bittys.  They are so called this due to their size being just 4 inches tall, small but such a cute size and of a shape that’s perfect to hold in your hand.  The quality of these is excellent and they are well made with a good amount of detail.  They have beans in the body of the character making them tactile to hold and also it means that they can stand up!  This really adds to the cuteness of them and a collection of these on your shelf would look great.

So onto the characters, there are lots of series of different ones, of which I received a selection.  One of the first characters that will be launching in the UK is Batman and I have to say he doesn’t disappoint – he is super cute!!  He forms part of the Superhero series which you can see below also contains Superman and Wonder Woman.

itty bittys 2There are numerous other series including Wizard of Oz, from which you can see the Lion below, Peanuts which includes Snoopy and Santa from the Rudolph range.  Other series include Disney Princesses, Frozen, Star Wars, Marvel, Muppets and much more

itty bittys 3I actually love these Itty Bittys much more than I expected too, as do my children who have been battling out which ones they each want!!  They are cute, soft, small and make a great collectible, stocking filler, small gift etc.

I have a set of Itty Bittys up for grabs for one of my readers containing a selection (may vary from my selection above) similar to the ones I received.  Retailing at around £6 each,  the lucky winner will receive an Itty Bitty bundle as soon as they are launched!

Just fill in the Gleam widget below for your chance to win.

Itty Bittys

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

BRITA back to school hydration challenge

The BRITA back to school hydration challenge is a great way of getting children to drink more water during the day, and see whether they are achieving the amount they should be or not.

This activity is to highlight the importance of children’s hydration throughout the school day with water and provides a fun way for children to learn about what they should be drinking and at what points in the day, based on official guidelines (the ruler outlines the amount of water that needs to be drunk by 1st break, lunch, 2nd break and home).

BritaWe received a Brita Fill & Go bottle to carry out this challenge along with some stickers to add to the sides of the bottle to show the amount that should be drunk during the day.  7yr old Miss M was very excited by this bottle and couldn’t wait to take on the challenge this week at school.  She loves the butterfly and flowers design of the stickers on the side and was eager to start drinking from the bottle straight away.

Brita 2The bottle will be used everyday at school with Miss M showing me how much is left in it when she gets home and telling me how many times she filled it up.

I’ll be revealing the results of her Brita back to school hydration challenge next week, so keep an eye out to see how she gets on or check out the hashtag #BetterWithBrita for updates.

We received a Brita Fill & Go bottle in order to join in with this challenge

Wedding Memories – Something Borrowed Something Blue

Thinking back to my wedding day back in 2004, it was a day a girl always dreams about.  Wearing an amazing dress, having all your friends and family around you and celebrating in style.  I absolutely loved my venue, a small hotel out in the countryside that we had exclusively just for our day.  The house had a sweeping staircase down the centre which I walked down and this led straight into the ceremony room where our guests were eagerly waiting.

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After the ceremony we went out of some double doors, down a few steps into the gardens for a glass of Pimms and some canapés.  It was great to catch up with people and share our special day.  It’s one of the few times in your life that you get all of your family and friends together in one place and spend a joyous day in their company.

I also remember the wedding breakfast fondly and everyone commented how spectacular the food was.  The trio of mini chocolate desserts was a big hit.  The room we ate in was the perfect size to see everyone and my mum had dressed the tables with all sorts of flowers, candles and petals – they looked fabulous!

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Weddings can be an expensive time, and I know when I saw the price of my venue, I had to sit down!  But I did find that a way to save money is by having your wedding on an alternative day to the traditional Saturday that most people have.  My venue offered a 25% discount off the total price if you had the wedding on a Sunday, so we did, and it saved us a lot of money – so that is my top tip if you are looking to reduce costs on your wedding day.

Some other money saving tips I’d recommend are that I got ready in the bridal suite of the venue as I was having a civil ceremony there, which meant I had no need for a wedding car.

Do your own flowers, I bought some luxury pink roses and some huge green leaves which we wrapped around the outside and then bound the stems with satin ribbon.  To me they looked gorgeous and I only held them for the ceremony and the photographs, so glad I hadn’t spent extra on specially made ones.

Also write your own invitations, I did look at printed ones but they are so expensive.  There are some really lovely luxury packs of wedding invites to buy in the shops and if you use a nice pen, and a bit of calligraphy writing, you can make them look really good with that personal hand written touch at a fraction of the price.

If you are looking for help in the form of a loan for your wedding day then why not call Chris and the rest of the personal loans team from Ocean Finance who will be happy to discuss your needs.

This post was my own views on weddings written in collaboration with Ocean Finance who compensated me with some restaurant vouchers for my time.