Thursday, 29 November 2012

Win 'A Matter of Life and Death' novel for Christmas

A Matter of Life and Death... no I'm not referring to the Christmas shopping but the title of the must-have debut novel by Paul Carroll. It is a fantastic stocking filler idea for Christmas and if you are stuck for inspiration this could be the perfect alternative to socks and bubble bath for the grown ups in your life!

I'm looking forward to reading a copy but for now I'll leave you with an extract from the press release...

 "...a satirical reflection on bereavement in contemporary Britain. A witty, black comedy with a thought-provoking core. 

A Matter of Life and Death claims “Everybody should be famous for fifteen minutes. After they die” but questions whether we go too far when it comes to mourning. 

Both entertaining and shocking, this book is a perfect present for those looking to add a bit of depth to this year’s Christmas stocking."

If you would like to find out more about the story and author please visit

I am very lucky to be able to offer 3 of my readers the chance to win a signed copy of 'A Matter of Life and Death'. Entry is via the rafflecopter widget below, you just need to read this post and answer the simple question.

The competition closes 17 December and please remember to leave me a way of contacting you in the comments section for your entry to be valid.
UK only, one entry per person.

Good luck and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Microwave meals for time strapped parents

As you may already know I am a working, commuting mum with an energetic 3 year old and another baby on the way. When I'm at work our day is fairly long, by the time we are home and Squiggle is tucked up safely in bed, it is usually about 8.30 before we start to think about dinner. If I want to get my dinner down me a bit before bedtime it has to be something quick and easy! Microwave recipes, pasta and pizza often come to my rescue!

Now I'm pregnant I do worry more about what I'm eating as not all of my fall back, quick dinners are as healthy as I would like. Confession time... I just polished off a pizza and last night it was a chicken grill in a sandwich. Not exactly the diet I want to be giving my unborn child but after a long day I'll just go for the quickest thing possible. It can be hard to think of new ideas for midweek, tasty dinners so I was really taken by these videos with great fish recipes and vegetable recipes which can be cooked in the microwave.

The microwave is a great invention don't you think? It's a life saver a lot of the time and I'm not sure what I'd do without it. I find I end up with less washing up after using the microwave too which is always a big bonus. Honestly I am always so tired by the end of the day!

I really don't think I am using my microwave to it's full potential though, I would never have thought to attempt such meals as demonstrated in these videos. Time to get more adventurous... I particularly like the look of the fish dish, it looks so fresh, tasty and easy to follow. I am definitely going to try it out and will let you know how I get on.

If you are stuck in a midweek meal rut like me, have a watch for some inspiration.

Note: I was sponsored to write this post but all thoughts and views are my own and I hope you find the recipes as interesting as I did.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Broom broom beep beep! Melissa and Doug transporter toyologist review

Time to get a move on with our final box of toyologist reviews, Christmas is fast approaching and we want them to be helpful for people looking for present inspiration!

The first thing I decided to give Squiggle to play with from the box was this lovely Melissa & Doug wooden transporter. She has so many girlie toys that I was relieved to see something different!

We have been really impressed with this toy. I can't help it, I just love the look, feel and nostalgia of wooden toys. This one is really nicely made, great quality, simple and fun.

The set comes with a wooden transporter and four different coloured wooden cars. Little ones can really easily fold the truck down flat, drive the cars on to their slots, and then move it up again. My daughter has really enjoyed playing with this, we have had a fair bit of car trouble lately so she been happily playing poorly cars who need rescuing!

My husband pointed out how funny the instant girl / boy differences are. Where the boys would be having fun zooming and crashing the cars about, Squiggle straight away had them all involved in a role play game. Her toy animals were trying to get somewhere when the transporter bringing their cars tipped over. The animals turned it over and worked together to try to fix it. Amazing!!! I love simple toys that work really well and encourage little imaginations.

It's a nice chunky toy too so would suit children younger than my daughter really well. The cars are a nice size for little hands to push about.

It's been great having something different in the house, and something Daddy has enjoyed playing with her. I have also had lots of fun listening to some very creative sound effects coming from the living room!

Recommended for ages 2+ this is a great gift idea for both boys and girls and is available at Toys R Us.

If you are looking for more inspiration head over to the toyologist review blog.

Xia Xia Crab & Confetti Cottage from Find Me A Gift

The lovely very kindly sent us a Xia Xia Turks Crab and Xia Xia Confetti Cottage to review and it had been a huge hit!

The minute I saw the toys I had a feeling they would go down well with my little 3 year old girl. She has a bit of a fascination with sea creatures and loves little toys she can collect and play about with.

I had seen some of the Xia Xia range about and always wondered what they were, so it was great to get the chance to find out!

The big difference between these and other small collectible animals is that they move. The crabs are touch sensitive so when you give her claws a poke she scuttles about and changes direction when she hits an obstacle. She is great fun and the movement really helps bring the toy to life.

Another lovely feature is that you can remove her shell and there is a small character that lives inside. My daughter had great fun with this - playing at removing her shell and putting her to bed. Although small it's not too fiddly and easy for little ones to do. I believe the shells are interchangeable so I imagine it would be fun if they had more than one.

Find me a gift also sent us the play house, I wouldn't often recommend the playsets that come with toys but this is great. It has two floors and you can open different doors in the walls and roof to play with it. My little girl loved the fact that this was her little pet crab and she was looking after it. Turks the crab sleeps upstairs and her shell is kept safely downstairs while she is in her house.

The house has a carry handle so Squiggle has taken it everywhere, telling people all about her pet crab. The brilliant thing is that because the lobster is touch sensitive, when she starts carrying the case, as if by magic, Turks starts scuttling about inside her house. Squiggle took great delight in shouting into the house that she was supposed to be asleep!!

When we asked my daughter what she would like to ask Santa for the other day her answer was "a tiger, a sparkly ring and crabs!" My husband and I were totally confused about the crab request but then the penny dropped!

So Xia Xia is now high on my daughters Christmas list and I would recommend them as a great little stocking filler.

A glowing review but my honest opinion!! X

Monday, 19 November 2012

Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie – Doll review

We have been lucky enough to be sent a gorgeous Lottie Doll to review, this was the first time I had heard of Lottie or the launch company 'Arklu' and it has been a real pleasure.

Let me tell you my daughter and I have fallen a little bit in love with Lottie!

Arklu's aim in lunching this range of dolls was to steer clear of the fake looking, unrealistic dolls which currently stack the shop shelves. I have always been bothered by these dolls – and resented buying them as gifts when that's what my nieces have asked for. My daughter loves playing with things she can relate to and I really find it hard to find a doll that provides just that experience. It is even a struggle to find a doll with a nice face, but I really think the Lottie dolls fit the bill. Her motto is 'be bold, be brave, with you' which is a great sentiment isn't it? If you would like to find out about their brand values then have a read here, it's really positive and interesting... but now it's time for me to talk about the play factor!

We chose to review the 'Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie' although it was a really hard choice. She arrived beautifully presented in a stylish box. I found she had a real quality and traditional feel to her that I loved.

The doll's clothes are beautiful and really nicely made. Plus they are easy to remove and put back on again which is always what children love to do. One of the other main features we noticed was how lovely and soft her hair is, it feels a lot more natural than other toys we have.

Arklu really wanted to see how my little girl played with Lottie so we have made a little video. Please have a watch, she is continuing to bring lots of fun and the ballet lessons (with my daughter as the instructor) are going well! She has since moved on from the flying move seen in the video and is doing well at her pirouettes! I think I may have to get my little one her own ballet outfit so she can join in the training.

I would really recommend checking out the full range, I think Autumn Leaves Lottie may well be on our Christmas list. Lottie makes a fabulous gift for little girls and I am hoping they will bring out some clothing packs soon as they would be a big hit with my little girl!

I would love to hear what you think of the Lottie range? I'm sure it will have a bright future. x

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Winnie the Pooh Spin and Play Acorn Train

This is a really lovely toy for little ones. Easy to play with, simple and lots of fun. It doesn't require and batteries which is always a big plus! When you pull the train along the three characters - Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and poor old Eeyore, spin around on their carriages.

You child can also remove all the characters, swap them round, and play with them without the train. They are great quality and nice and sturdy and chunky for young ones to play with. My daughter loved playing with them and they spent lots of time discussing which was their favourite coloured seat and where they would go on their trip. They usually go to the seaside!

She has decided it is not a train however but an aeroplane (this is why they are flying in the photo!)

If you would like to see the train-plane in action watch our video! Thanks to Geoffery for sending us this to review, they are in sale for perfect Christmas pressies at Toys R Us. X


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tickle Time Elmo Toyologist Review

Do you have one of these?

We do!
"tickle me mummy"... "no stop"... "no tickle me again!!!"

We have tickle time, tickle tricks, tickle races, tickle songs and tickle rhymes.
We have tickled toesies, noses, ears, arms, backs, legs and tummies... and best of all we now have the ultimate in tickle accessories "Sesame Street Tickle Time Elmo".

This may sound strange but I have actually always wanted one of these, I held my breathe until I was the colour of... well... Elmo when I realised he was in our toyologist review box.

Finally our own Elmo!
I challenge anyone not to love him, he's the perfect size for my little poppet to cuddle and is sooo lovely and soft. He also really makes her giggle and just brings an extra bit of happiness with him into the house. I don't think it matters if your child is familiar with the character, he has enough 'cute' to outshine his celebrity status. For my daughter Elmo is the star of her favourite duck song video on youtube, for mummy he is a lifelong friend. I just love him so hands off!

You are going to love me!!
Just look at that face! When you press his tummy and feet and makes different giggle sounds and when he is really excited – does a little jiggle. It doesn't take much to get him going and his happiness is very infectious.

Fancy a giggle with Elmo? Watch our video:

Tickle Time Elmo is available at Toys R Us, hurrah and a he he ho ho ha ha!! xx

My Next Winter Wardobe

The beautiful Amy Antoinette Blog is hosting a competition for Next giving you the chance to win a £500 voucher (...drifts off into dream world). The challenge is to pick 3 items from their range and style them for winter. Happily browsing their products I found a lot to choose from but here are the items I chose. Hope you enjoy the post, it's made we want to sit by a fireplace drinking hot chocolate!

Would you like to find the details of the items I selected? Feast your eyes!..

Item one:
Quilted Single Breasted Military Coat £70

styled with:
Grey Photographic Bunny Print Foil Scarf £14
Black Rounded Porter Hat £20

Item two:

styled with:

Item three:

styled with:

What do you think? I don't think I'd mind winter one bit if I was styled like this! xx