Smiggle opens it’s 100th UK Store

Smiggle an Australian stationery brand has hit the UK by storm over the last year or so, with it’s 100th store opening last weekend at the Drake Circus shopping centre in Plymouth.  I was invited along to take a look around and see what exciting goodies the store has to offer as although I’ve heard and seen glimpses of the store online I’ve never actually visited one in person.

The first thing you can’t fail to notice as you enter the store are the neatly lined rows of brightly coloured goods, almost so many you don’t know where to look first.  It’s like being a kid in a sweet shop as you eye up the rows of treats wondering which one to choose first.  The shop is very pleasing on the eye and although similar items are spread across the store they are displayed in a colour coded manner.

Whether you want pink, purple, blue or aqua, Smiggle has it all but not only are their products colourful, they are oozing with fun designs and unusual features that stand out from traditional stationery products.  The range of pencil cases is vast and they are packed with cute details that it’s hard to choose between them.  I thought the range of drinks bottles were particularly fun and quirky being made of squeezy silicone that can be rolled up when empty to save space!

Not only do they have lots of bright and pastel colours but they also have a vast range of blues, greens and blacks so there really is something to suit everyone’s tastes. They had a good selection of lunch bags that looked really cool and perfect for keeping your food protected ready for lunchtimes.

Something I haven’t mentioned is that a lot of the products are actually scented with fun fruity fragrances,  you can’t fail to pick up something without having a sniff, making it that much more appealing to drop into your basket to buy.  Of the more unusual products that I spotted were some fun glittery silicone digital watches that display the time when you press them and some funky headphones that kids will love.  There were also some fun animal shaped water spray fans to keep you cool in the Summer, I really liked these as did my children.

A new range to hit Smiggle shops is ‘besties’, a collection of six limited edition character pencil cases and key rings in pastel shades with cute faces.  We tried out a key ring below which was scented in strawberry and we can’t stop sniffing it!

A really different style of pencil case which will really keep you organised is the one above, a small carry style bag with a handle and zip up pocket on the back.  You can unzip three sizes to reveal a fold out section with four sides to slot all of your pens and pencils into – no more searching around in the deep depths of a traditional pencil case for your favourite pen.  We also tried the Neon scented gel pens which as you can imagine smell very fruity.  Each come in a different shade and fruit scent and they also come in a handy snap close case.  They also work incredibly well giving a really vibrant shade to write with.

Overall I’m really impressed with Smiggle, not only for the amazingly bright and scented range of products available but also the quality seems to be good, the pens are lovely to write with, the pencil cases are well thought out with lots of zips and pockets and the keyrings among other things smell delicious.

Whether you are young or a little bit older and love stationery then be sure to check out your nearest Smiggle store for a really fun stationery experience that can’t fail to make you smile with it’s bright, happy vibe.

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

HelloSkin – The Online Shop for all your Skincare Needs

HelloSkin is an online specialist skincare shop that cares about all those awkward skincare needs such as psoriasis, eczema, acne and dry skin. A team of experts carefully research all of the products available making sure they inform you what ingredients are included, what it is best used for and where best to apply it.  The website is really helpful in that you can filter options to help find suitable products, for example you can select your symptoms, the type of product you are looking for and what part of the body is suffering.

I chose a selection of products to try out that I hoped would help with various minor skin issues that I have.   I found the website easy to navigate and could pinpoint an array of products straightaway that fitted my needs.

I started with La Roche -Posay Lipikar Lait body milk from a brand I love and have used previously  Their products are always of a high quality, giving instant results and I always find them lovely to use.  Although I don’t suffer from psoriasis which this can be helpful for, I do have dry skin on my shins and upper arms which is not a good look in the Summer months.  I found this lotion to be thicker than a milk consistency but thin enough that it was absorbed instantly into the skin leaving it really smooth and soft restoring the hydration but leaving my skin silky with it’s non-greasy and non-sticky finish.

For my face I chose to try the Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub, a brand I remember using when I was younger.  The baking soda ingredient in this really appealed to me and also being a powder scrub sounded interesting.  I suffered with acne around my jawline in my late 20’s and ended up having a series of peels and laser treatment to combat the bacteria.  From then on I’ve been particularly careful to care for my skin with deep cleaning and this gentle but effective powder cleanser and exfoliator is perfect for that.  I absolutely love this – it feels great on the skin and smells gorgeous with a delicate lemon fragrance that’s exceptionally fresh.  With a small amount of powder in your hand, you mix it with water to form a paste then massage across the face.  The mixture gently fizzes and makes it’s way deep into the pores to clean and clear.  A winner with me and definitely a product I’ll be using regularly in the future.

Flexitol Heel Balm was my final product of choice and is just the thing I need for my feet particularly in the Summer months.  At home I’m always barefoot or in flip flops and outdoors I wear flip flops or sandals so my heels are always naked.  This results in dry, cracked heels as I know from experience which is not only unpleasant but exceptionally sore and painful.  Since then I’ve been cautious to regularly moisturise my feet and this Flexitol balm is ideal to use each night time.  I prefer to apply as soon as I climb into bed so that it can sink in and absorb deeply into the skin overnight.  I love this balm and have found that my heels are looking a lot healthier with this treatment which I aim to use 5-7 times a week and is a footcare regular for me now.

Overall I’ve found HelloSkin to be a really useful and user friendly website to find all of my skincare essentials for problematic skin.  Not only that, the delivery was prompt, the prices were very competitive and well worth buying online compared to instore.  All the brands are well known names that have been chosen by their experts as products suitable for various skin complaints.  If you have any aspect of your skin whether on your face or body that bothers you then check out this site for recommendations – there’s sure to be something to suit everyone!

If you do decide to order than use discount code HELLOFIONA for a 10% discount off your entire order!

You can also find HelloSkin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

This blog post is sponsored by HelloSkin, but all opinions are my own

Win a SENSSE Silicone Facial Cleansing Brush worth £90

SENSSE Silicone Facial Cleansing Brush and Exfoliator is a rechargeable cleansing and anti ageing device that looks rather stunning in its pretty pink shade and soft silicone shell so I was excited to give it a try.  Once charged is will last for up to 180 times based on a one minute usage which is pretty good going.

Inside the box you get the device, USB charging cable and what I have to say must be one of the cutest storage bags that I’ve ever seen come with a device like this.  With its rose pink sequins, copper coloured zip and fluffy pom-pom, it’s the perfect place to keep your SENSSE product clean and dry when not in use.

Now onto the product itself, this has been a revelation in the cleansing brush market for me.  Not only does it look small and sleek, the smooth silicone outer is silky soft and a joy to hold, fitting perfectly into your hand. The main side features a silicone cleansing brush featuring three different types of textures.  Simply add a few drops of your own cleansing lotion and move in circular motions across your face ensuring your skin is dampened beforehand.  When you switch it on it delivers thousands of pulsations per minute to gently remove dirt oil, makeup residue, and dry dead skin leaving your face feeling clean and rejuvenated.

The back of the SENSSE brush can be used to massage the face after moisturising especially around wrinkles and fine lines.

I found the device exceptionally user-friendly, it’s desirable to look at, it works efficiently being fully waterproof up to 1 metre, it’s a joy to hold fitting so easily and comfortably in your hand and above all gives a really good and pleasurable cleanse and massage to the face.

Some key features include:

  • Built-in Timer – The pulsation pauses every 15 seconds to remind you to move onto a new area.
  • Six different intensity levels to suit all skin types.
  • Long Battery Life – Get 180 uses per charge from internal battery that’s easily charged with included USB cable.
  • Auto Shut-Off – The device will switch off after 3 minutes of inactivity to save your battery.
  • Waterproof – You can use in the bath or shower without damaging the device.

I’ve really enjoyed using this product for a number of reasons including its ease to hold, the feel on your face is ultra soft and effective.  It’s so much gentler than other facial brushes yet just as effective.  The whole unit is ultra compact and comes with multiple speeds, more than other brushes I’ve tried and looks great sat out on your bathroom shelf.  It’s pretty, small and leaves your skin feeling clean, fresh and supple.  The massaging tool really does uplift your facial skin pushing the moisturiser deeply in to the pores to really boost healthy, supple and youthful looking skin.

Don’t just take my word for it, why not try one for yourself!

Just fill in the form below for your chance to win the SENSSE Facial brush worth £90!

Win A Sensse Silicone Facial Cleansing Brush and Exfoliator #4

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

#YourNewMcDonalds Have you seen the changes at McDonalds?

McDonald’s is at the forefront of fast food restaurants and has made some serious changes to keep ahead of the game and take it into the future with everything from digital self-service kiosks, food to your table and even tablets for customers to play on.  It’s somewhere I remember from childhood as being the place to go for chocolate milkshakes, it still is my go to choice of drink there so I was excited to be invited to check out my local store to see the changes first hand along with a tour of the kitchen.

Of course it wouldn’t be right to go behind the scenes in McDonald’s in my normal attire, so we were given a staff apron, cap and name badge to really feel like part of the family.  The first thing you can’t fail to notice when you enter the store are the Self-Service Kiosks – a large easy to read screen with a scroll bar on the left that runs through all the categories on the menu such as burgers, meals, drinks, Happy Meals etc.  Once you select a category, you then choose your option and size of item.  Dependent on what it is you can customise it, for example in a burger you can choose which sauces you have.  I think once you’ve used it a couple of times, its really user-friendly and certainly a lot easier to see your options compared to the overhead menus at the manual counters.

Table service – If you notice in the image above, hanging to the left of the kiosk are some table numbers, if you take one of these and enter the number onto the screen at the end of your order, your food will be delivered straight to your table, no waiting around and then struggling to find a seat while your food is going cold!  I was intrigued as to how quickly the staff would be able to find your number as with their new kitchen set up they aim to hand you your food within 45 seconds of it being ready.  Well the answer was quite impressive – the table numbers are installed with a tracker technology that shows the kitchen exactly what area of the restaurant you are seated at so if you change your mind and move seats, don’t worry, the kitchen will know that!

Then it was time for a tour of the kitchen which at this restaurant has been modernised and evolved to become incredibly efficient allowing a remarkably streamlined process to get the food made freshly to order and as quick as possible to the customer.  The main burger line runs down the centre of the kitchen with stations each side to make the burgers.  You then have everything you need right in front of you and starting with picking the correct type of bread roll, passing it through the toaster you move along gradually filling the burger/wrap with the right sauces and accompaniments until it is boxed, then it is then placed on a clever little conveyor belt that takes it to just behind the front counter where it is added to the rest of the order.   As a bit of fun I even got to try building a burger, which although not difficult, I’m not sure I could stand there doing that all day especially when its busy and the pressure is on to get all the burgers out timely and to the correct specifications!

One of the things I learnt about McDonald’s is the high quality of fresh ingredients they use from 100% British & Irish Beef, fresh free range eggs and responsibly sourced 100% Arabica coffee beans. Also now all of their food is freshly made to order, no more pre prepared burger boxes sitting around waiting for customers to purchase.

Moving on to the customer experience when dining, there are now stations of tablets for customers to freely use so whether you want to check social media, play games or read up on McDonald’s nutritional content there is plenty to keep you occupied.

I really enjoyed my visit to McDonald’s and was pleased to meet my local franchisee owner Dave Wynne who has worked for the chain for many years and gone on to run a large number of restaurants in the South West.  He kindly showed us round and told us many interesting facts about himself, the branch and things that McDonald’s do for the local community such as providing youth football teams with kits as well as much more.

With my tour over it was time to say goodbye but I walked away feeling like I’d really learnt a lot and saw McDonald’s as much more than just a quick stop of for food with the kids.  It really does care about its customers, the food, it’s staff and the community – all in all a company worth remembering!

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With a long journey last weekend and knowing there was a roadside McDonald’s midway, I knew it’d be a great opportunity to stop off and see what the kids thought about one of the new look stores.  They didn’t need any encouraging and refused to let me assist as they swiftly placed their orders on the digital kiosk screen themselves.

Then while we waiting for our food to be delivered to our table they busied themselves on the tablets playing various games.

When the food arrived they continued their games along with enjoying their minion themed Happy Meals – a big hit!

The whole experience was great, I loved not having to wait and stand for my food, my children got to join in the ordering process and my little boy picked carrot sticks over fries having seen the options clearly in front of him.  Then the pair of them sat silently eating their meals, a welcome bit of peace for mummy and daddy after the constant moans and groans of the car journey and the many cries of “Are we nearly there yet?”.  The new look McDonalds won them over and is somewhere we can’t wait to visit again!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and this is a sponsored post in order to write an honest review.

Scotland Yard Board Game for National Unplugging Day

This year’s National Unplugging Day is being held on Sunday 25th June 2017 and they are asking parents around the UK and beyond to pledge to #GoGadgetFree and spend the day from morning till night without any technology.  I think this will really help bring families together for some fun without glancing at their phones or tablets every five minutes!  To celebrate going gadget free we have been trying out the Scotland Yard game from Ravensburger and I have to say we spent most of last Sunday playing this, laughing, having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

Notorious criminal Mr X is on the run in Central London. Can Scotland Yard’s finest detectives track him down, or will he escape forever?

One player takes on the role of Mr X, whilst other players take on the role of detectives and work as a team to try to find him. Mr X only reveals his location every 5 moves, but the detectives can get clues as to his location by looking at his travel log, which reveals his chosen method of transport. The detectives also move around the board using taxi, bus and underground tickets, and must try to surround Mr X, and then move to his hidden location to catch him and win. But the detectives don’t always win and Mr X can escape to any of the 199 locations shown on the detailed map of Central London!

The game consists of a large quality playing board depicting the streets of London.  Between the 200 stops are taxi routes, bus routes and train lines.  Mister X has unlimited use of any of these but each of the detectives has a limited amount of tickets so has to use their method of transport between destinations wisely as they try to locate Mister X

Mister X has a board on which he records his movements but all the other players can only see is his mode of transport before he pops up on the board at certain points.  Everyone wanted to be Mister X so we took turns on each game.  You get a special cap to wear to try and hide your eyes from the board so other players can’t guess by your eyes where you are looking.

The game was faster paced than I expected and actually a lot of fun.  We all loved the game and played it over and over.  Both children and adults found the game appealing although you do need to be the recommended 8yrs plus to really get to grips with strategies when moving in order not to get caught out.  We did play a simpler version for our youngest little boy and he loved joining in on the action.

I’d really recommend this game for families as it offers something for everyone along with a bit of healthy competition between the detectives and Mister X.  The detectives can discuss tactics between each other which gets the family talking and the time soon went buy and none of us had touched any technology throughout the play.  Scotland Yard is a great game to play for National Unplugging Day with the aim to #GoGadgetFree.  Give it a try, it’s lots of fun and great to get back to good old fashioned board game family times!

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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

With Father’s Day on it’s way, this year on Sunday 18th June, it’s that time to look for gifts suitable for the father figure in your life, whether it’s for your children to give their daddy, you to give the husband, or give to your own father.  For us we aim to look for gifts that are useful and practical along with a few handmade personalised items from the kids.

Something that I’d buy either my husband or my dad would be a watch such as this Anthony James Emperor Men’s Sports Wrist Watch.  It’s a stylish design that’s practical for everyday wear.

It has a rubber strap which makes it comfortable and can easily be adjusted with the buckle.  This gives the watch an everyday look which is great for day to day wear for the man in your life. There is also some metal detail on the strap near the face which I really liked.  The face of the watch is chunky and clear to read, all in all a winner for someone like my husband!

Next up is Sugru, if you haven’t heard of it then it’s a rather ingenious mouldable glue.  It can also adhere to a multitude of surfaces such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, and most plastics and fabrics.  In just 24hrs it turns into a durable, flexible silicone rubber that stays put unless you remove it.  How fabulous is that?

For Father’s day how about buying you dad the Sugru Rebel Tech Kit, containing

  • 4 single-use packs of Sugru in Pitch Black, Snow White, Silver Grey and Classic Red
  • a booklet full of project ideas and how-to guides
  • our new Sugru Remover
  • a handy storage tin

I imagine this will keep him busy for ages fixing and creating things.  I’ve already got a few things planned that we can try with this, along with the ideas in the included booklet.   This is different, useful, interesting and fun so a great idea to get dad’s who would like something a little bit unusual.

Finally, something like a new tablet or phone case is always a popular and affordable option.  Whether you opt for personalised or a generic design it’s sure to be a gift that is practical and used daily.

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

Sharing La Famiglia at Prezzo – Family Pasta Bowl

La Famiglia is the latest addition to the menu at Prezzo, one of our favourite family haunts when looking for a restaurant that caters for all the family with food that we enjoy.  Fortunately our local Prezzo is set in a stunning waterside location so it’s always a pleasure to enjoy a meal there and we couldn’t wait to try out the latest offering that they have introduced for families.

Inside we sat down and the children were given paper menus with plenty of activities on the back that always keep them occupied although as we were visiting during lunchtime it was fairly quiet so it wasn’t long before our Garlic Bread starters arrived.  We had two pizza style breads topped with garlic and cheese.  You can have caramelised onions but we opted without to save the children picking them off!  They were thin with a perfectly baked crispness to them and plenty of cheese – we all devoured these until the plates were empty, always a winner with the whole family!

Next up was the main course, the La Famiglia Sharing Bowl, which we were really excited to try.  You have a choice of four different pasta dishes:

  • Penne Arrabiata
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Penne Alla Rusticana

We (or should I say I) opted for the Penne Arrabiata being vegetarian myself but knew everyone else would enjoy it just as much. The bonus of this option is multiple, not only do you not have to mess around waiting for people to pick their menu options, but it means it’s quicker to order so less hungry children and also no bickering when the food arrives as we all have exactly the same!  An added bonus is that the main dish works out a lot cheaper at £18.90 by sharing the family dish between four as opposed to buying four separate meals.

We served up the mains and all tucked in, it was thoroughly tasty and we all came back for seconds with each of us having as much or as little as we wanted.  This is the bonus of a sharing dish, you can serve up smaller amounts for little guests and daddy can have a bigger portion.  There really is a generous amount and by the time we had cleared the dish we were all quite full, but still had a little bit of room for dessert.

We all had ice cream which was the perfect finish to our meal, as you can see we are all rather fond of the chocolate flavour and it went down a treat!

We all really enjoyed trying out the La Famiglia sharing bowl, it certainly made the meal seem like proper family time with us all eating the same thing and serving it out of one bowl.  The kids got involved in helping themselves and we all enjoyed the same food.  We’d definitely go back again to enjoy eating out together as a family with a sharing dish – a great way to bring families together, especially fussy eating children as they watch everyone else eat the same food and tuck in the same!

This post is an entry for the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo

Air Hogs E-Charger Dragon from Spin Master

Air Hogs E-Charger Dragon from Spin Master is aimed at children ages 8+ and is a sturdy well built plane that charges in just 30 seconds allowing it to fly up to 100 yards through the sky.   The children were keen to try it out so we headed out to an open space to see how far it could fly.

The plane is easy to fly and charges really quickly.  The charger requires 3 x AA batteries and then it’s ready to go.  Once you are ready to fly you simply unfold the charging pin on the top of the charger, push it into the charging port on the underside of the plane and hold the button on the charger in for 30 seconds.  As soon as you remove the charger you can hear the power in the plane waiting to be released into the air.

We found you do need to throw it quite well into the air and let it catch the wind but when you do get a good throw – wow!!  This thing really does fly!

It was hard to film it in action because it was sunny and it flew so fast but I managed to get a couple of short clips of the plane in flight.  The children loved it when it twisted and turned through the sky and it definitely went some distance so really do make sure you are in a good open space.

We thought the power on this plane was great and really gave it a boost to fly through the sky.  Once it lands you do need to charge it up again for the next flight but for us it was a challenge to see what flight paths we could get it to do.  When it went well, it really goes for it but it is definitely set at the correct age guidelines.  My 9yr old and husband were quite able to set this off in the air, although my 6yr old struggled but being aimed at 8+, this made sense.

Overall the Air Hogs e-charger is a great gadget toy for the over 8’s that gets them running around in the fresh air chasing after the plane as well as a lot of fun watching it zooming the sky.

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

Shrinkles Mini Packs – Dinosaurs, Unicorns & Puppies

Shrinkles Mini Packs come in a variety of designs and we’ve been trying out the Dinosaur World, Magical Unicorns and Playful Puppies.  Although they’ve been around for many years they aren’t something I did as a child so I was excited to do them with my children and see what they thought about them.

Inside each mini pack are two sheets of pre drawn Shrinkles, a coloured and transparent piece of Shrinkle paper, a 4 pack of coloured pencils, some stands for the finished pieces and instructions.

It was then a case of colouring in the pre printed designs in the theme for each box.  The children enjoyed this but didn’t quite understand the concept of how much they would shrink until we’d ‘baked’ our first batch.

I was a little worried when I saw the designs curling up in the oven but if you leave them a little longer, you will then see them flatten out again.  At this point I removed them from the oven and left them to cool.  The children couldn’t believe how much they had shrunk and also were impressed how they had become solid and hard, like a 2D plastic figurine.  They then put them on stands ready to play with.

Then we had a go at making our own designs using the plain pieces of Shrinkles paper.  My daughter carefully traced the outline of a front cover of a book she is reading which came out really well.  They also tried some other designs and below you can see the best of what they made,  I think they came out really well and are now sitting as trinkets on the shelves in their bedrooms.

Overall Shrinkles has been a success.  It was something new to us that the children enjoyed trying out and had fun making.  They loved watching them shrink through the glass in the oven door, which was novel and different, resulting in finished pieces that are sturdy and will last for a little play afterwards.

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

Rocks Sparkling Elderflower Drinks

Rocks Sparkling Elderflower Drinks are part of a range of ready to drink individual bottles from Rocks.  With a gentle Elderflower flavour and sparkling texture these are perfect for Summer days whether at home in the garden or out and about on a picnic.

The drinks are primarily made with a majority of Organic ingredients and also stick to a simple list of ingredients making them uncomplicated but naturally tasty.  I just love the gentle sparkle included which for me always makes a drink a bit more fun and refreshing.

My mum is a big fan of Elderflower so we tried these new drinks together served chilled from the fridge and found them to be the perfect afternoon refreshment.  We both enjoyed the flavour and fizziness within it.  I hadn’t heard or tried Rocks drinks before now and seeing as they are locally made in Devon, I’ll be sure to look out for them again in the future.

Other interesting flavours in their ready to drink range include Sparkling Raspberry & Lime which sounds delicious, along with Sparkling Ginger & Wasabi, Sparkling Strawberry & Blackcurrant and a couple of still options.  There really is a flavour for everyone so definitely check them out if you come across them.

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