Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wedding styling

Next are running another amazing styling competition, this time with The Rock and Roll Bride blog... the challenge? To style wedding outfits using the Next range – ohhhhh I've had so much fun!!

As life rolls on and getting to the point now that I'm no longer the bridesmaid and my little girl is! I've styled outfits for us both where she is the gorgeous bridesmaid, and me a very happy guest. I've based it on a monochrome wedding theme as it's a big style trend at the moment and is so eye-catching. Plus even my 87 year old Nan agrees it is now fine to wear black to a wedding! I hope you like my choices, I am so in love with the dresses I have chosen.

All together the outfits for the two of us come to £190, well within the challenge budget of £500, I might have to head back to the Next site and pick out a suit for the other half with the rest of the (imaginary) money!

Here are the links to my chosen products in case anybody wants to locate them, Emily x

Girl's pumps:
Bridesmaid Dress:

Black and White Dress:
Clutch Bag:

We're part of the Toyologist team!

Well it's official! I'm delighted and proud to announce that I have been selected as a Toys R Us Toyologist. I'm one of 24 lucky families who, over the next few months, will be playing with and reviewing lots of toys. I'm part of the purple team which means I'll be reviewing toys for babies and toddlers age 0-36 months.

I'm hoping to write some helpful reviews to give everyone plenty of ideas in the run up to Christmas, so I hope you pop back and have a read! I'll be posting them here but also on the Toyologist Toy Box blog – there you'll find all the other reviews throughout the 3 age categories.

I'm so excited to get started and can't wait to be part of the community and share some fun reviews with everyone.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

People pedal power

Well we did it, this weekend we took part in our local Sky Ride. We cycled up to the start point and I was worried I'd be tired before I got there but I didn't do too badly! It almost looked like we wouldn't make it as there was a problem with my inner husband zoomed to the shops for a new one and replaced it but it still went flat. Luckily my mum saved the day and leant me her much nicer bike (a specialized) yey!

When we got to the start point we picked up some bright yellow bibs and set off. I meant to get a photo of us looking so fetching but completely forgot, sorry! A few of the main roads around the City Centre of Milton Keynes had been closed off and a route set out so we had lots of fun pedalling along the dual carriageways. My daughter thought it was a race track and was over the moon to be on the back of daddy's bike for a change so she could actually win for once! We stopped at the bike cafe for a drink and a snack to put all those calories back on, and relaxed on a friendly atmosphere while Squiggle tried a spot of tennis and honked the horn of a penny farthing.

It was a really lovely morning out and I would recommend looking up your nearest event and joining in. I bet there could be some really spectacular routes in some towns and cities!

Enjoying the bike cafe

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cranking up the fun with my little monkey

Squiggle and I are putting together our plea to become Toyologists... we love playing with toys... and talking about playing with toys... and so we would love the chance to review for Toys R Us for a few months! Here's our review for our application.

At the weekend while I was trying to decide which toy to write about and recommend, my daughter came up with the inspiration. She shouted "lets make a monkey jungle!!!" pretty much as soon as she'd got out of bed. So that is what we did (and why she is still in her pyjamas in the photos).

I thought it was the perfect choice, the monkey jungle she is referring to is 'Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin Monkeys' by Learning Resources. It's a fantastic toy which really has it all – great for fun, imagination, cognitive skills, and has a bit of engineering thrown in. My mother-in-law had an old school version of this (by a different make) which she had kept safe since the 70s and which my daughter had really taken to. Ever since we had all been on the look out for something similar for her, and hurrah we finally found this in Toys R Us.

It is basically a really fun and different construction toy - it comes with various pieces you build up to make your very own twisting, turning jungle. You start with some flat green pieces which slot together a bit like a jigsaw. You then build up from there adding cogs, building trees with the parts, palm trees, monkey vines and cranks. Squiggle finds some of the parts a little hard to put together but she is a good bit younger than the recommended age and it's fun to do together. She is quickly learning and as she gets older she'll keep finding fun from it in different ways.

You can follow the instructions or make up your own jungle, it's great because what she creates is different every time and then brings fun throughout the day. She makes up stories about the monkeys nesting on the trees, getting stuck on vines and being chased by crocodiles. Like most children she seems to really love monkeys, they really bring out her cheeky side when she's playing.

It is great seeing her mind at work as she realises how all the cogs go together, and her imagination in full flow as she decides what game to play.

When we've had people round to play it has been a bug hit with both boys and girls, from ages ranging from 2 to 6 (and some 30 odd year old daddies). I have been asked by so many people where we got it from as it's not something most people have seen - that makes it a great gift idea!!

I think this is a top, great value toy which will really stimulate your little ones, as well as bringing them lots of joy. We've almost had it a year now and it is standing the test of time, getting played with more rather than less as the months roll on! Monkey-tastic!!

Want to know a little more? Why not which our mini movie! x

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

On your bikes for sky ride

I've just been hearing all about Sky Ride, a fantastic initiative which involves Britain's streets and parks being turned into safe traffic free cycle routes. It's such a wonderful idea and a great family day out so I really wanted to help promote it. As one of 17 nationwide events, my local sky ride is coming to Milton Keynes this Sunday the 26th August, so if you live in the area why not come and join in? They really want to inspire the nation to get out on two wheels so I'm planning to strap my little girl in her bike seat and give it a go! We quite often go on bike rides as a family, it's such a lovely thing to do together, outdoors... and it's free (we like that!).

If you want to find out more take a look at the website here and register for free.

Now just wish me luck, I am the opposite of speedy and normally have my daughter shouting faster faster faster in the back seat!!

Sky Ride

Monday, 20 August 2012

Partying hard at sunny Lollibop!

At the final hour on Friday I managed to win us a family ticket to Lollibop in Regents Park. I was sooo chuffed, I was desperate to take Squiggle, she loves a good party!

We had a fantastic day, she wasn't going to let us do anything until she got her face painted, there were lovely choices of designs but I suggested a nice small butterfly on the cheek as it was so hot (mean mummy). She was happy with that though and we had a delighted and excited little girl.

She is dinosaur mad at the moment, her favourite being the stegosaurus and they had an amazing kind of human puppet one there. This was one of my highlights, S got to feed her favourite dino a fern which was amazing and something I never thought I'd be able to arrange!!

Another fantastic moment was Mr Maker, she had been really looking forward to seeing him, and when he came out her face just lit up so much I almost burst :) so lovely when you see your little ones that happy!

The arts and crafts were great too, the lady helping S was fab and really let her work things out for herself while she was making her bird puppet. She named him 'flappy' and was VERY pleased with herself. She also enjoyed the B&Q tent painting her piece of wood and getting covered in glitter. Daddy took it off to dry before she was quite finished... he had to fetch it back as she was so particular that it needed one more splodge of yellow, so funny!

The festival was full if things to do, for quite a mix of ages... she rode a bike round a track, did yogo with the Waybaloo, read a story with them too, stroked a very realistic polar bear, danced with a cat, had a go at swing ball and tug of war, and watched some cooking.

My only shock of the day is that I'd given her £2 to get an ice cream. I said she could use it to buy a balloon if she preferred... Oh what planet am I living on? It was £6!! And then the lovely ballerina balloon spent the rest of the day bashing daddy and passers by on the head. He almost took out a whole queue of ice cream buyers.

Just as we were completely pooped Squiggle announced that she'd forgotten to see the Zingzillas. We only had to wait 10 minutes and they were on the main stage. The perfect end to it all for her!

Thanks for giving my little girl a great day Lollibop! X

Monday, 13 August 2012

I'm Not Scared – my perfect summer read

I'm writing this review as part of the Tots 100 summer reading challenge in association with Tesco in which they are rounding up some of our favourite summer reads. I love reading but life is so manic I hardly get a chance to sit down with a book, so I'm going to make sure I pick one from the list and make some time to do so.

I'm delighted to share one of my favourite books with you but I've never reviewed an actual grown up book before so I hope I do it justice!

It took me a while to narrow down my perfect summer read to just one book... I was all ready to write an enthusiastic post on 'The Poisonwood Bible' (an awesome book). It's good and thick and certainly lasted me a summer, but as I know it's not for everyone I decided that didn't really qualify as a summer read... maybe not what people are looking for whilst relaxing on the beach!

The book I have chosen is one I loved and one I think really anyone would enjoy – 'I'm Not Scared' by Niccolo Ammaniti. Set in Italy during a brutal and scorching summer, the story follows 9 year old Michele, his gang of friends, and their childhood antics. The writing sets the scenes so perfectly you feel as though you have been there running through the wheat fields yourself. It captures all the different childhood relationships really well and took me back to my long summers running through fields with all the local kids. All much more innocent, we imagined and invented our dramas and mysteries... Michele's however, soon become all too real.

As Michele tells the story you're with him all the way, and the group's childhood dares and adventures soon lead him to a discovery that sets his world spiralling around him (I don't want to give any more of the story line than that away!). You're soon swept in to a absorbing mystery that will keep you hooked until the end.

I just loved reading this book and as soon as I had finished I tried to get everyone I knew to give it a go! It is so easy to read and completely sucks you in. I didn't want to put it down and, although I'm a pretty slow reader I finished it quickly. It's not too long, so if like me you don't often get time to read, it's not at all daunting to start! Well told, charming, intriguing, exciting and sad, it's a perfect little tale which has it all for a summer's day on the deck chair.

If you do read it I'd love to know what you think... and I'd love to hear from anyone who's read it already? I hope my post tempts you to read it, I'm no great writer myself, which I think is why I love reading what other people have written so much, I just find it amazing!

I'm looking forward to reading the Tots 100 round up and getting some new ideas and inspired for my next read.

Tots100 Parent Blogger Book Club

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Salcey Forest - fun above the tree tops

Last weekend we spent the morning at Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire, I had never been before but had it recommended to me as a nice place to take kiddies for a walk.

It really was lovely, Squiggle got her wellies on and went on a puddle hunt. It didn't disappoint - there were muddy puddles galore and lots of trails to explore. She had lots of fun following the pink signs on elephant walk until we found the treetop walkway. This is something we don't get at our local woods! S loves any kind of bridge/ pathway she can run along so this was a huge hit! It gently slopes up and up until you are above the treetops with a fantastic view. We were hoping to spot a squirrel down below and we did! We also discovered tadpoles, pond skaters and water boatmen in one of the ponds. We really had such an enjoyable family walk!

We then headed back to the parking area for our picnic as there is a lovely wooden playground full of things to climb. There is also a cafe there in case you don't pack anything or it rains!

Entry is free but it's £3 to park for the day which was great value we felt.

All in all a great time for a budget morning out in the fresh air!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Support your country at the Olympics and you could win a fantastic Lumix!

This competition has now closed. selected number 1 which means Gemma Mills you are the lucky winner, congratulations I'll be in touch!

Has anyone noticed quite a big and very exciting sporting event going on at the moment??!! My family (like most of us) are completely gripped, it's such an exciting time and so inspiring to see all our athletes doing so well!

So if like me you are feeling all over excited, why not head over to facebook and have a go at the great fun Panasonic Flag Tag app. You can take a photo or select a fun one from your archives and then chose which flag you want to use to decorate your face.... and no mess! My girl loved seeing her picture decorated with the Union Jack. It's great fun for all the family to have a go, what do you think of ours?!

And what's even more exciting? If you have a go and come back and share your creation you'll be in with a chance to win a fantastic Olympic themed Panasonic Lumix camera here on my blog.

If you would like to enter just head over to the app, create you flag tag image, then simply come back and leave a link to your image in the comments below. You can find the app here:

I'll pick a winner at random from all the valid comments after the closing date, please remember to leave a way for me to contact you (twitter handle, email etc.).

If you'd like to follow my blog or follow me on twitter you'll be the first to hear about the winner and any new competitions. It won't get you any extra entries but it will put a smile on my patriotic face!

Good luck and have fun, I can't wait to see the photos!

The details:
Competition closes 9th of September 2012 (just after the Paralympics).

Winner chosen at random and details passed on to promoting company.

The promoting company will send out the prize to the winner in the next 2 weeks following the closing date.

Non-UK entrants may enter but for postage reasons will receive a same value Amazon voucher instead. UK residents will receive the camera.

One entry per person.

The pictures will appear on the giant screen next to the Olympic stadium in Stratford

Monday, 6 August 2012

Organix 'Veg & Oat Bars' review

We are huge fans of Organix snacks in our house, my daughter's favourites have to be the fruit bars, so I was really interested to find out what their new savoury versions were like.

It's a great idea, I never leave the house unless armed with some kind of snack (bribe) but I don't always want to be giving S something sweet - the savoury options are a lot more limited! Organix very kindly sent us two boxes of their Veg & Oat bars to sample and here is what we thought...

First up was tomato and carrot:

Squiggle recognised the packaging straight away and was very excited, I explained to her what flavour they were and she said "yum I like carrots"... Her review was... "They taste nice, they taste like tomatoes, the smell like tomatoes, I like tomatoes..."

And that pretty much sums it up! She did like them but she also said I could have the other half. She does quite like sharing food with mummy, but she would NEVER share her fruit bars!! I had some too and they do have quite a strong tomato flavour. I think she would have liked them even more when she was younger and was a real fan if those strong flavours, she is almost 3 now and knows what she likes!

Our second box were sweetcorn and red pepper flavour:

Again these are both flavours that she loves so she was excited and these went down even better. The texture and quality of the bars is up to the Organix brand's usual high standards and of course they have the no junk promise to put your mind at ease!! I think the bars are well worth a try, some kids will love them. I remember being at the earlier stages with squiggle when I was trying to avoid sweet treats, I would have stocked up on these. In bribery terms I have to confess I'll probably still reach for the Organix carrot cake bars instead. She really enjoyed the savoury bars but she begs and pleas for the fruit ones!

Has anyone else tried them? I'd love to hear what your little ones thought? Well worth a try I'd say!

Please not we were sent these to review but my thoughts are my own.