New Year, New Baby?

No, no and no!  Certainly not mine but I am highly excited that not one but three very good friends will be welcoming tiny bundles of joy in 2015.  Ones that I can coo over, spoil with cuddles and hand back when they start to cry.  Two will become first time mums and are a little daunted at the prospect of baby shopping, something I remember all too fondly!

I made huge mistakes and wasted an awful lot of money when I was pregnant with Imogen on clothes she never wore and equipment that we simply didn’t need and just so that others can learn from my mistakes here’s my baby shopping dos and don’ts.

  • Do remember that there is very little that is essential for a newborn.  Nappies, a handful of vests and babygros, bedding, a cot and a car seat should be plenty to see you through the first couple of weeks.
  • Don’t snub hand me downs or second hand items.  Very few consider second hand when buying for baby which means that there are some real bargains to be hand.  Check with friends and family if they are willing to pass on, sell or even loan anything that you need.  Local NCT sales are also full of bargains.  The only things you do need to buy new are mattresses and car seats.
  • Do your research.  Especially when buying high value items such as prams and car seats.  Check online reviews, try the car seat out in your car and if you see a mum with the pushchair you have your eye on, ask her about it.
  • Don’t overbuy clothes.  You’ll often be gifted with lots of cute newborn outfits and remember that babies grow quickly, really quickly usually before they’ve worn an outfit twice!
  • Do compare prices.  Trawl websites as well as the shops for the best price on everything you buy.  Special offers on pushchairs and prams as well as hitting the sales and clever use of promotional codes and money off vouchers could save you a fortune.
  • Do sign up to the big retailers baby clubs.  Tesco as well as the other big supermarkets and Boots have them and you’ll be sent useful money off vouchers and there’s usually a practical free welcome gift too.
  • Do ask advise from friends and family.  Write your list with a good mum friend or even your own Mum they’ll be able to offer advise on what is essential and possibly what you should be looking to spend as well.

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The Netflix Christmas Survival Guide

Christmas is most definitely a stressful time and with only two more sleeps until the big day it’s now that the cracks begin to show.  Children are over excited and if yours are anything like mine, a little worried that they haven’t made it onto the overweight, judgmental one’s all important good list.  Last minute panic took over our house this afternoon as the festive food shop was done for the impending arrival of the hungry masses and we soon realised our small kitchen and equally small fridge just isn’t big enough to store it all.  Presents are still to be wrapped and some even to be collected, fingers crossed that Click and Collect is all is makes out to be.

A midst all of the panic an awesome early Christmas pressie arrived form Netflix containing everything I needed to get me through Christmas.  Included were batteries, sellotape, healthy, chocolate free snack for the kiddywinks as well as nurofen and some delicious Jo Malone bath goodies.

Netflix Christmas Survival

Netflix also have the Christmas viewing sorted with their Ultimate Survival Guide and there’s something for everyone!

Ultimately your children will get bored with their hoards of new toys and normally I’ll hear “I’m bored” at around lunch time on Boxing Day.  Cleverly I’ve been saving the new Netflix original series of All Hail King Julien for this very moment.

All Hail King Julien

“King Julien is back and shaking his booty harder than ever! Discover the wild world of Madagascar as the king takes on the jungle’s craziest adventures in this comedy series. With his loyal sidekicks Maurice and Mort, they meet a whole new cast of colorful animals, including ambitious head of security Clover and the villainous Foosa. No one can stop this king from ruling with an iron fist…in the air…wavin’ like he just doesn’t care.”

I’ve also been saving another Netflix Original for myself to watch over the festive break, Marco Polo.

Marco Polo

 

I’m also keen to start watching House, M.D starring Hugh Laurie.  It’s something I haven’t got around to yet this year but with a whole 12 days off work I’m looking forward to squeezing it in.  What are you watching this Christmas?

House, MD

 

 

Peter Rabbit Treehouse Review

Peter Rabbit has always been popular in our house but interest was raised when the TV series hit CBeebies.  Back at Easter Vivid sent Joseph a gorgeous Peter Rabbit plush toy and it’s still a massive favourite of his.  Last week Vivid treated Imogen and Joseph to an early Christmas, a Peter Rabbit Treehouse Playset!

Peter Rabbit Treehouse

The Treehouse comes with an exclusive Peter Rabbit figure who is carrying his trademark satchel and clutching a book in his paw.  The treehouse has lots of lovely features including a working lift, secret slide, telescope and bucket pulley.

Peter Rabbit Treehouse

 

There is also a planning table which flips over to reveal a secret map!  Joseph loves taking Peter on a whole host of adventures, keeping lookout on the hunt for radishes from the to floor with his telescope, zooming down the slide and fetching and carrying supplies with the bucket.

Peter Rabbit Treehouse

My favourite thing about the treehouse is that it doesn’t need batteries and therefore doesn’t light up or make a sound, because of this the kiddywinks have had to rely on their imaginations to create their own stories whilst playing with it, awesome!

Peter Rabbit Treehouse

The treehouse is well made and has already withstood an awful lot of play, the trap door has been opened and closed literally thousands of times!  At the moment the Peter Rabbit Treehouse Playset is priced at £19.99 on Amazon which i think is great value for money, however the RR is £29.99 and for that I would really have liked to have seen at least one more figure included.  They are available to purchase separately at around £3.99 each.

 

Joseph’s #HalfShellHeroes Christmas Surprise

Joseph had an awesome surprise in the post yesterday, his very own Christmas card from the Half Shell Heroes and a bauble filled with a Splinter figure from Flair’s awesome new TMNT range.

#HalfShellHeroes

Flair’s new range is a little different as it’s aimed at the younger audience (between 2 and 5) and you’ve no idea how much is excites my little “Ninja Tortoise” fan, especially as the recently released movie he was desperate to see came with a 12 certificate!

Half Shell Heroes

The collection is already extensive but I predict that it will grow rapidly.  All of the figures are brightly coloured and chunky, ideal for smaller hands.  There are a multitude of vehicles including the larger Shell Raisers, an awesome Super Sewer playset as well as mega, talking and standard figures in a twin pack.

Half Shell Heroes Super Sewer

Prices vary between £7.99 and £59.99 and UKMums.TV are a Half-Shell Heroes Advent competition where they’ll be giving away a fabulous prize every day during December, Turtle Power!

Staying in really is the new going out

November has been a cold month and with the expense of Christmas just around the corner we’ve been doing an awful lot of staying in and saving those all important pennies.  The latest issue of Glamour magazine told their readers to get cosy with home comforts and curl up in their favourite dressing gown with a cuppa and most importantly watch Netflix!  Even Supermodel Claudia Schiffer admits to enjoying a family night in watching TV box sets and even sneaks in a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad once the kids have gone to bed, just like me!

With cinema ticket prices increased by more than house prices (an amazing 2333% over fourty years) cosying up with a Netflix subscription and a homemade snack like a pizza topped to your liking or freshly popped popcorn could save you a small fortune!

Over the past few weeks we’ve mainly been watching a LOT of Christmas films.  Imogen tells me it’s so that Joseph can learn the “true meaning of Christmas, although I’m not quite sure he’ll get that from Disney’s the Search for Santa Paws!

Santa Paws

As well as the commencement of the re watching of Breaking Bad, Tony and I both watched and enjoyed Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher and whilst it’s not really my thing, Tony indulged in the second part in the Hunger Games film series Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Jack ReacherCatching Fire

 

Ravensburger Santa’s Rooftop Scramble Review

At six Imogen is starting to get into board games in a big way and loves nothing more than our family Friday nights with a game or two followed by a good film.  With Christmas creeping up upon us quickly Ravensburger treated us to Santa’s Rooftop Scramble to full a festive family night.  Santa’s Rooftops Scramble is suitable for everyone aged 5 and over and for between 2 and 6 players.

Santa's Rooftop Scramble

Setting up the game for the first time does take a little time as there are present counters to push out, a spinner to assemble as well as rooftops and cards to put into place.  I would also recommend sitting down to read the instructions for a couple of minutes before you sit down to play with your children.

Santa's Rooftop Scramble

The aim of the game is to have your Santa deliver all of his presents first and the game begins which each player being dealt 5 letter to Santa cards.  Each of these cards has a picture and name of the child, their house number and the toy they want for Christmas.  Firstly your Santa will need to collect all of the present for the children on his list.  This is done with the spinner, if you land on one of the toys you need collect a toy token.  Once all of your toys are safely in your Santa’s sack you can head to the board.

Santa's Rooftop Scramble

Once on the board you need to land on the house number that matches those on your list to be able to deliver your present.  There are various obstacles along the way which may hinder your progress but it’s not all bad as some will help you out a lot!  Both Imogen and Joseph loves this as it adds a real element of surprise and means that really anyone can get ahead and ultimately win.

Santa's Rooftop Scramble

On occasion we’ve adapted the game to make it slightly shorter or a easier either by reducing the amount of letters each Santa has or starting with each Santa’s present already in place.  We’ve played Santa’s Rooftop Scramble a lot recently and I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of both Imogen and Joseph’s favourites.  Imogen has quickly become a true professional Santa and more often than not will win hands down!  We’ll definitely be playing the game more in the run up to Christmas as well as introducing the rest of the family to it after a spot of Christmas day lunch.

Santa’s Rooftop Scramble is available from Amazon and other toy retailers priced between £15 and £20.

 

Christmas at Poundland

It’s been over two years since I became an ambassador for Poundland and it’s no secret that I love the place especially at the most expensive time of year, Christmas. This Christmas Poundland have set me three challenges.  To create one look from there Christmas ranges, get crafty and creative something festive and stock up of stocking fillers and to do it all for under £30!

This year most of the kiddywinks stocking fillers have come from Poundland that I have stashed away during the year, complete bargains including Disney Cars Squinkies for Joseph and Polly Pocket blind bags for Imogen.  My most recent haul included this impressive bundle of Disney Frozen goodies which includes a hair wrap, shimmer lip balm, a 5 ring set, Anna and Elsa bath sponges and a colouring pencil set all for a pound each!

Poundland Disney Frozen Range

In Joseph’s stocking this year will be a Disney Toy Story 3 hardback book and two Microblox festive characters, Santa and a Snowman.

Poundland Stocking Fillers

They’ll also have one each of these lovely Nestle festive figures, both a pound each a massive 50% saving compared to the supermarket’s price of £1.50.

Milkybar Snowy OwlSmarties Robin

My second challenge was to get decorating using one of the many different Christmas themes available from Poundland.  I decided to decorate our hall as it always seems get neglected at Christmas and lacks a little sparkle.  I chose the Cosy Christmas range as the base colours of blue, cream and read with a splash of grey fitted in well with the colour scheme.

Poundland Cosy Christmas

I picked our the Merry Christmas felt banner, wood and felt Noel letter decoration, star lanterns and hanging felt decorations as well pack of 10 baubles.  I filled an old glass jar with the baubles and a set of LED battery operated lights and I think it makes a really nice feature.

Poundland Cosy Christmas

I also decided to have a little bit of fun with some soft toys, a snow blanket, a couple of icicle drapes and some more LED batteries operated lights……

Poundland Sliding Penguins

…. and created a wintery slide for our new plush friends!

Penguin Banister Slide

The last of my challenges wasn’t the easiest as I’m not a particularly crafty person.  After some time spend on Pinterest I decided that I’d attempt to make a photo frame wreath.  Armed with a white ornate photo frame, some pretty ribbon baubles (again from the Cosy Christmas range), a spool of festive trim and a couple of left over baubles from my bauble jam jar I got to it.

Poundland ChristmasAfter removing the glass and the back from the photo frame I simply threaded the baubles with the ribbon and blu tacked them into the position, trimmed off the excess ribbon and added a large bow to finish.

Photo Frame WreathI spent a total of £28 topping up the kiddywinks stockings and fully decorating my hall leaving me a couple of pounds to get a chocolate mould from the infamous Jane Asher baking range and to try out Poundland’s new Make Up gallery range, the Gorgeous Flawless foundation is awesome and a steal at just a pound!

If you’re searching for Christmas inspiration then there’s some great, easy to make gift ideas on the Poundland Youtube channel.

The Top Tech Toys this Christmas

Unsurprisingly tech toys have some of the top spots on what’s predicted to be the biggest selling toys this Christmas, whether it’s wearable technology, virtual pets or the latest games console here’s my top picks of the newest tech toys on the market this year.

Xeno is a cute interactive baby monster with amazing animatronics that really bring him to life!  With over 50 different expressions he will interact with you, other Xenos and will his dedicated free app!

Xeno

Xeno has an RRP of £79.99 and you can read our full review here.

Teksta have a lovely range of robotic pets and the Teksta T-Rex is hotly tipped to be a favourite in Christmas stockings this year.  He’ll respond to your voice, and you can control him with your hand movements.  Feed T-Rex his bone, watch him crunch, munch and spit it out followed by an almighty burp!

Teskta T-Rex

There are also various puppies and a kitten (you can see our review of her here) available in the Teksta range and they are priced at £59.99.

The Kurio has the be ultimate table for children and new for 2014 are the Kurio Phone, Kurio Tab, Kurio XL and Kurio Pocket.

Kurio XL

Kurio XL

With a whole host of parental as well as time management controls they have to be the safest tablets on the market for children.  With a range of sizes from the 4″ pocket to the family sized 10″ XL the Kurio has a tablet suitable for everyone!  The new Kurio Phone is first Smartphone especially made with children in mind, it’s stacked with safety features such as Geofencing, Ichaper Mobile Chaperone technology allowing parents to remotely manage the phone’s usage and amazing In Case of Emergency features.

Kurio Pocket                                                            Kurio Phone

Kurio Pocket                                                                                               Kurio Phone

Kurio Tab

 Kurio Tab

Prices range from £79.99 for the Kurio Pocket to £169.99 for the Kurio XL and they are available from Toys R Us and Argos as well as other online retailers.  You can find out more about the range and find the right Kurio for you on their website www.kurioworld.com

Another of my favourite tech toys is the SparkUp Magical Book Reader.  With SparkUp you can record your voice reading ANY book a camera will scan the pages of the book as you do this.  Then when your child wishes to hear you read the book, they just clip SparkUp to the book and press play.  If they skip a page then SparkUp will cleverly do so too!

SparkUp Magical Book Reader

The RRP of The SparkUp Magical Book Reader is £39.99, however it currently has an amazing 58% off at the bargain price of £16.99 on Amazon.

November’s New Blue Nose Friends

Imogen has built up a fair collection of the cute and cuddly Blue Nose Friends and is determined to collect them all so she was ecstatic when the new characters released for November arrived for her to review.

The new Blue Nose Friends are Scamp the Gerbil, Sasha the Silk Moth, Blanche the White Stoat and Hugo the Killer Whale and they bring the total collection up to an impressive 143! Each of the friends is ultra soft and cuddly with their trademark blue nose and patchwork detail but each has their own personality.

November 2014 Blue Nose Friends

Scamp is a daredevil gerbil who leaps into the unknown… but when evening comes he prefers to snuggle with friends.

Scamp

Sasha… the beautiful silk moth who weaves mystery wherever she goes… follow her and you’ll soon be in a spin.

Sasha

Blanche…the pure white stoat who loves to keep things clean… but she always has time for friends.

Blanche

Hugo… the happy orca who loves to leap and laugh, make him smile and he’ll create a big splash for you.

Hugo

Imogen’s favourite of the four is Sasha the Silk Moth who is special edition and has beautiful pearly wings and Joseph, who has a slight sea creature obsession, has claimed Hugo as his own.  At just £5.00 each the Blue Nose Friends make great stocking fillers and are available from the Carte Blanche shop online.

Playmobil Advent Calendars

There are now only 11 sleeps until the 1st of December and the start of advent.  Imogen and Joseph are already counting down the days until they can officially start their Christmas countdown and this year they’ll be doing it with Playmobil.

Playmobil have sent them one of their new for 2014 advent calendars “Santa’s Workshop” and they can’t wait to get stuck in!

Playmobil Santa's Workshop

Behind each of the 24 doors is a different Playmobil surprise which will ultimately create an awesome Santa’s Workshop scene complete with Santa, elves, a reindeer, sleigh, lots of gifts and other accessories.

Santa's Workshop Advent Calander

There’s also the added bonus of a memory game once all of the doors have been opened and pieces revealed!

Other new Playmobil advents this year are Unicorn Fairyland and Dragon’s Treasure as well as the classic Police and Pony Farm.

Playmobil Unicorn Fairyland AdventPlaymobil Dragon's Treasure

 

The entire range is available from Playmobil priced at £18.99.

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