Friday, 26 August 2016

Mothercare identifies parents’ bear-necessities for holiday packing

As some of us are yet to go on a holiday abroad or local Mothercare suggested few things to bear in mind when travelling with little ones.

"With new research from Mothercare finding that 69%* of parents say their kid’s favourite cuddly toy is a must-pack holiday item, a parenting expert from Mothercare offers advice on how to ensure your beloved bear comes home with you safe and sound.

Liz Day, Parenting Consultant for Mothercare, comments: “As well as keeping children calm and entertained during the journey, home comforts such as a favourite cuddly toy can often help little ones settle better into new locations as parents unpack and start to relax. Here’s my advice on how to keep their favourite friend safe and make sure the bear makes the return journey home with you”.

1. Tag your cuddly toy using the same safety ID bracelet or wristband as you use to keep your child safe – matching their favourite bear will encourage your little one to keep the tag on at all times. Include a return address and your phone number so your invaluable bear finds its way back to its little owner if it gets lost

2. Buy two of your child’s favourite cuddly toy and secretly pack one in your suitcase when you go away. If your tot’s toy does manage to escape, it’s really useful if it can miraculously reappear when you get back to your holiday accommodation

3. When on the beach, tie a brightly coloured ribbon to your tot’s favourite fluffy friend so they don’t go missing in the sand

4. When travelling, keep bear safely in your hand luggage or pop them in an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey

As well as your child’s favourite cuddly toy, the other top four items parents say are essential to pack for family holidays are*:

o Sunhat (84%)

o Sunshade (66%)

o Armbands/ pool floats (55%)

o Travel cot (53%)

*A survey of 1,670 parents with children under the age of 3 from the Mothercare CRM database, June/July".

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

From Baddesley Clinton to Packwood House

Last weekend we decided to spend some family time on a fresh air for that we picked to beautiful and local places- Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House.

Our first stop was National Trust's Baddesley Clinton (a moated manor house, located near the historic town of Warwick, Warwickshire). We were absolutely mesmerised by domesticated ducks and ducklings, one very kind gentleman gave me his bag of seeds for ducks and me and L had so much fun feeding and even stroking ducks. 


We have also visited the manor house, gardens and enjoyed fantastic vegetable patch with quirky scarecrows. 

As we wanted to visit 2nd venue before L's nap we rushed to Packwood House ( Tudor manor house, park and garden located near Lapworth, Warwickshire), thankfully it is situated just few minutes away from Baddesley Clinton. 

Absolutely stunning garden with lake and enormous hedges of different shapes, just perfect! We have managed to visit the house and the garden briefly but it is definitely one of those places where you want to spend at least half a day.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Review: Wicked Uncle Pegboard Mosaics

As L is getting older I try to introduce more educational toys which will help her learn colours, numbers, new words. When I came across Pegboard mosaics sold at Wicked Uncle (£22.95), I knew it's just what L needs. 
"We are a really cool online toy & gift shop who aim to look after the uncles, aunts, godparents and grandparents of the world who need to send cool presents to kids". 
Fantacolor Junior pegboard mosaics toy consists of a transparent pegboard board with large sections for coloured plastic pegs, a plastic case with handle which works as a stand for the pegboard, storage for pegs and 8 patterns for the pegboard. 

The toy arrived within a week (standard delivery, but you can choose express delivery or collection on person) of me ordering it from the website in a nicely presented wrapping paper (£2.95 extra) with my daughter's favourite ponies and a little message in the corner (free, you can also add a greeting card for £1.95).

As L is so excited about her new toy she had a chance to show it off to her aunties and cousin, and it seems to be entertaining for both adults and child. One of the aunties mentioned that she always notes what toys I buy and where I buy them as this gives her an idea what L likes. 
Wicked Uncle website also divides toys into categories for girls, boys or all and by age preference which helps adults like L's aunty or even us parents to find the best age appropriate toy.


I personally like this pegboard mosaics for few reasons: it looks durable, educational, due to the the size it cannot be a choking hazard and can be easily found in L 's toy box, can be carried as a case storing all patterns and pegs, repetitiveness of basic colours on each pattern provided helps to learn colours quicker.
Having mentioned all these positives there is just one minor flaw- the back of the pegboard which stores the patters is not protected enough from clumsy little hands. Within first few minutes of using the toy L worked out where the patterns are and how to take them out. Knowing how clever L is and what she can do with paper I would recommend taking all the patterns out leaving just one to use, that way you can leave little one to play knowing that the toy and a child will be safe. 

Disclaimer: I was sent the item mentioned above for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Review: Yutaka Korean Kimchi

As some of you may know I was brought up in a different country- Russia where some if not most traditions or views differ. I remember big celebrations and table full of traditional and foreign dishes, one of them was my favourite "Korean Carrot" salad. I have read conflict information regarding it's origin, but even if it's not an authentic Korean salad it has a very interesting flavour I like so much.
When I was offered to review Kimchi (RRP £2.75 available for Sainsburys) I couldn't resist but to say "Yes"!

"Kimchi has long been recognised as a super food in the Far East and was recently ranked as one of the world’s five healthiest foods. It’s packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals and boasts a wealth of anti-oxidants. What’s more, it is bursting with flavonoids and probiotics, which help to slow down aging, maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and strengthen the immune system. And with only 13 calories per 100g, what’s not to like?"

In simple terms Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish, it's recipe is based on fermented cabbage, garlic, chilli, carrot, radish, salt and ginger.

It is recommended to have as a side with rice, noodles, BBQ, pizzas, tacos, salads and much more. 

I must admit I was a little bit greedy and kept the whole jar (215g) for myself, but of course only after my dear husband said that he is happy for me to have it all. 

As I'm very into salads at the moment I have mixed Kimchi with my lettuce, cucumber and BBQ'd sausage salad, with lettuce and rice salad and with lettuce and ham wrap. I can't explain what it tastes of as to me it seems really spicy, I can feel the texture of cabbage but you cannot taste it. 

Having said that it worked really well if not made my lunch more exciting and tasty, with it's overpowering, crunchy flavour, Kimchi is just perfect for those who like to spice up their meal. 

Disclaimer: I was sent the item mentioned above for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Battle with the weight: update 5

Since my last update I had a little progress, yay! I didn't manage to go on a treadmill yet but I have found something that motivates me, believe it or not it's a salad. 
I found that I don't feel full when eating salad I made, but if I buy a pre-packed salad it goes well and keeps me full for a while. It is of course not the cheapest of options as the price vary so much, you can buy salad for less than £2 in Aldi or over £3 in Boots, depending on where you shop and how much you are willing to spend.

I normally go through reduced section first to see if there are any reduced salads there and if not will buy the one that I fancy more which is Caesar salad. Since I have discovered a new love for salads, Ceasar is by far one of my favourites. When I see that I can't afford to spend a lot on salads I would by Ceasar salad dressing and make my own salad that works as well as it gives a flavour.

I have noticed a slight difference, my tummy looks less bloated, I feel motivated, my spirits are high as I see that it works for me.

I really hope this is a little start to something bigger, better! I have so much work clothes I need to fit into and this is my aim now!

How are you getting on?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Review: Union Jack Frog Tadpole balance bike

As a person who has never been able to ride a bike it was very important for me to make sure that L can do it. We have tried different ride on toys and I was convinced it's time to move on to something cooler- balance bike!

In the past few weeks we have been testing Union Jack Frog Tadpole balance bike (£100) kindly loaned by Frog Bikes.

"We are a small British company dedicated to making cycling fun for children. We believe that the lighter the bike, the easier it is for children to learn to ride, and to enjoy it more as they progress. Many kids' bikes on the market weigh nearly as much as the child!"
For those who don't know what balance bike is- it's essentially a bike but with no pedals which teaches the importance of balance to a child. 
I have seen balance bike once before in the park, it was a very sweet scene- a little boy on a tiny bike, at that time I thought that it's another fancy toy for little people, but hearing about the progress of other kids I do see it's positives.

Now to the features:
- suitable for 2-3 year old riders
- it's a lightweight, aluminium frame bike at 4.17kg or 9.2lbs (it's doesn't feel that way though when you carry it, to me it seemed equal to carrying a heavy shopping bag, and seemed certainly too heavy for my daughter to carry it, but was fine lifting it slightly), having said that it's easy to manoeuvre 

- handlebars have very soft grips with the right width for little hands 
- hand brake is perfectly reachable for little people and a real brake hidden above the rear

- rubber 12" wheels with spikes 
- Frog Tadpole balance bike has a turn limiter, it makes turning very smooth 

- the seat can be adjusted depending on your child's height and progress with the balance bike (we haven't actually tried this feature for 2 reasons, firstly, the height adjusted by the shop staff was perfect for L and secondly, we didn't have any leaflets attached with the bike so only found out about the features when looked up online)
- Frog Tadpole balance bike comes in the variety of colours (we were provided with Union Jack design but if you buy one you can certainly pick the one suitable to your child).

L has been testing the balance bike every other day for 2 weeks which is of course nowhere near to be enough to feel the bike and to get used to it. We have tried the bike on the tarmac and grass, in both cases L would ask me to hold handlebars or seat for security reasons. 
She did try it herself but once felt the weight of the bike and need for stability L opted for safer option- to use mummy. On week 1 I was holding on to the handlebars and on week 2 I re-assured and showed her that I am holding on to the seat or handlebar but in fact didn't, it felt that we are almost there, but L lost interest too quickly. I think if we had few more weeks we could have seen some progress with the balance bike.

I have spoken to other mums with toddlers of the similar age, almost every other boy or girl went from the stage of no interest to showing some brilliant skills in a skateboarding park! Balance bike is certainly an interesting product and of course only parents can decide if they see it as a potentially useful product or an expensive toy. 

Disclaimer: I was loaned  Union Jack Frog Tadpole balance bike for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions are my own.

Friday, 12 August 2016

University Games- Seagull Splat game giveaway

"Now that summer is in full swing, keep the whole family entertained whether you’re on holiday or at home with the range of boredom busting games from University Games.

Seagull Splat is the mischievous and hilarious children’s game that will have kids screaming with laughter. Are you lucky enough to dodge the poop? You may end up pooped out if you aren’t! For 2-4 players. RRP £19.99, available at Amazon, Toys R Us, Tesco and Argos".

Would you like to be in a chance of winning one for your family? Please enter the Rafflecopter form below:

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Days Out: Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace

Last Sunday  (courtesy of my lovely husband) we have visited Countryfile Live show, which was a big hit and brought lots of happy moments to my little L.
"Enjoy a major new live event celebrating the very best of the British countryside".

The show started at 9:30am, we decided to arrive a little bit later just after 10 am allowing enough time for L to mess around and then have a nap and not to arrive at the peak time. 

Countryfile Live show had all sorts if activities going on, we didn't manage to see it all but the ones we have visited are as follows:

- Co-op tent where we have treated ourselves to free berries, cheese, salmon sandwich, flapjack and ice-cream. L was mesmerised by sensory tube and played with a jumbo puzzle which had some interesting facts about fish.

- toy tractor ride ons/ball pool zone for kids was a massive success, there was a bit of a queue to ride little tractors but once L was on one she didn't want to go anywhere else.

- farm animals zone was by far our favourite spot. We have seen little piglets, ducks, cows, incredibly cute bunnies and chicks which we were allowed to have. 
Even though it was well fun to hold tiny chicks it did break my heart to see through how many hands they had to go through.

-we have peeked at horses show and tent with birds and ferrets but there just wasn't enough space for everyone. 

I remember seeing Tractor bouncy castle, tepees, messy zone for kids, sushi wrap stall, funfair traditional rides and more.

As you can see we did lots of child friendly activities, which we all enjoyed and probably would enjoy next year. Having mentioned all positives and things we did the show was lacking something for me and my family: changing facilities, there seemed to be too many food stalls in comparison to activities and zones where you can eat the food you just bought ( not to mentioned the steep price for the tickets), not enough space in tents for parents with pushchairs and it seemed too chaotic at times. 

Would we go again?! Oh yes, next time stopping by Blenheim Palace too!

The post in written in collaboration with guest poster- my other half.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Review: SnoozeShade Plus Deluxe

Whilst we have enjoyed few sunny days we had this summer, it seemed unbearable at times, I could see that L would struggle to walk for long on the heat but yet won't go in the pushchair. Eventually when she does get into the pushchair the only I would use SnoozeShade (£34.99) our new sunshade cover. 

The moment it arrived I didn't hesitate to put it on a pushchair and to go on a little adventure with L to test the sunshade. 

Main features:
- it fits most single pushchairs due to elastic hem along the outer edges

- suitable for babies from 6 months+  who can sit unaided 

- protects from UV rays

- plastic poppers  are almost magnetic and are attached to an elastic fabric and not only stretch to fit your pushchair but click together within seconds.

- metallic grey colour works like a car vizor and reflects the sun and heat 

- different methods of using the Snoozeshade (net fabric can be fully or partly zipped to protect little one from UV rays/insects adding even more shade; a "peek-a-boo" zip allows mum or dad to check on a child at any time; second layer of fabric works as a blackout blind that can be clipped partly or fully)

- bottom pocket which I have recently discovered can not only hold light items like sunglasses but be used as a storage for the SnoozeShade "layers"

-additional poppers at the bottom and top allow you to either attach one of the layers or fold and attach at the bottom, the latter I wouldn't recommend though as have recently ripped net fabric due to clipping it to the bottom and only noticed that it's dragging on the floor when was too late, to avoid disappointment I would recommend to "store"  layers in the bottom pocket.

 I wasn't able to test both modes together as L would refuse to be fully zipped if only by her own wish and unfortunately didn't sleep in it yet. Having said that it was a great help in the heat as L would sit in a pushchair relaxed enjoying her water and snack, occasionally allowing to close one or both layers. 

SnoozeShade provided great coverage for when I would forget to re-apply sun cream as it fully shaded L's head and arms, something to bear in mind this would depend on the size of the hood of the pushchair.

What so you use to protect your little one form sun?

Disclaimer: I was sent the item mentioned above for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 5 August 2016

HappyCalc space themed maths puzzle giveaway

Since L was about 18 months I started to encourage her to learn numbers in a fun way, I would hold her with one arm and with other prepare her breakfast whilst counting how many spoons of porridge I put in her bowl. It seems to do the trick, she would repeat the words or noises how I call it and next time would shout out the one she remembers. I cannot wait until she can write the numbers as I have some more fun activities for her.

Today I have an exciting giveaway for boys and girls ready to learn maths in a fun way and like a bit of a challenge- a recently launched HappyCalc space themed maths puzzle worth $39.

"HappyCalc is a new unique puzzle that teaches kids their numbers from 1 to 10 in a fun and engaging way. The puzzle is especially designed to reduce rote learning and encourage kids to think critically about maths. It is suitable for 4 to 6 year old in a gorgeous space theme. The puzzle is outstanding quality with 138 pieces to test those little brains". 

HappyCalc maths puzzle can also be purchased via Twitter @funcometdotcom and Facebook

To be in a chance of winning complete the Rafflecopter form below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!