Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bambino Merino Baby Sleeping Bag

We have just had the most cosy night's sleep we have ever had. We have been using the Bambino Merino sleeping bag for around a week now. After many months of Baby Craftiness throwing off just about any blanket that had the pleasure of covering him, we have found this fantastic sleeping bag! His behaviour reminded me of some gadget that selected what was soft enough; "nope", "nope", "far too rough." He could be described as something akin to the Princess in 'The Princess and the Pea,' with the way he shuffled around in the night.

As a breastfeeding, co-sleeping mum I had become used to having to wear very thick pyjamas when the weather turned cold, as any blanket put over us would be promptly kicked off. I must add at this point, for safety we always used a cellular blanket (never, ever a duvet) and my head is always much lower than Baby Craftiness' head. We also take no drugs or alcohol.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the page the Merino sleeping bag comes in a handy little bag, in case you want to take it when you are travelling or baby stays with grandma. We took the sleeping bag out of the bag and put it on Baby. Despite being in a foul mood due to having a cold, he seemed to enjoy the sensation of the softness against his skin. It made me want to cuddle him even more, he seemed all warm and cosy; like a little teddy bear. I think the photos speak for themselves on how contented he was whilst wearing. 'Hmmm, now what are the best options for layering me up?' thinks Baby Craftiness. There are a few options for layering with the Bambino Merino sleeping bag, depending upon room temperature.

I love the fact that you don't need to fuss around worrying about TOG's, as the merino wool lining naturally regulates baby's body temperature.

Because Baby Craftiness is in the bed with me, he is quite warm as he cuddles me throughout the night, so he didn't need anything underneath. He was blissful in it. He didn't stir at all like he usually does when he is kicking blankets off him. It's really hard to convey just how soft the sleeping bag is. It's one of those products which you feel gleeful in owning, because it feels such high quality. It's reassuring to know that it doesn't just feel high quality it IS high quality, composed of 100% merino wool. That's right 100% merino wool; not a single synthetic fibre in sight. Because of the fact that it is 100% natural fibres, it means there is less chance of baby overheating and sweating. So I wasn't surprised to find that it had won Practical Parenting Best Buy Award. It proved to me how soft it was, because Baby will usually find a way to rip most clothes off him.

I also loved the colour on him, as it made him look like a proper little boy.

And that rounds it up , I am trying to rack my brains on what negatives there are for this product. I really can't think of any. If you think it's slightly pricey at £49.95, rest assured it is worth every penny. If you buy cheaper alternatives, you will end up donating them to charity as in my experience they have been useless. This will last Baby until he is two years of age, so I deem this a BEST BUY!

Available from http://www.bambinomerino.com

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Robeez Busy Cars baby shoes - ocean blue

If you have ever wanted to give your baby a touch of luxury - then you should try Robeez shoes! A few years ago I would have thought all baby shoes were useless. I could be guaranteed to encounter the following problems:
a) shoes falling off.
b) shoes being a bad fit.
c) shoes making their feet hot and sweaty.
d) shoes being run of the mill design.

I was more than happy when I discovered that Robeez caused no such problems. I was in wonderment that such a shoe existed.

So how did I discover Robeez shoes?

I was enticed by an email detailing all of the luxurious and intricate little designs. This is quite unusual as boys clothes and shoes tend to be very boring; nothing worth writing home about. Aside from the fact that they had beautiful designs and looked really well-made, I liked the fact that they were meant to be good for foot development.

However, lots of shoes look good in adverts. Did they live up to my expectations??

They arrived in a lovely little case which made them seem high-quality instantly. It was like a treasure being encased in a treasure chest. Then I realised that the design was just as immaculate as it appeared on the website. The stitching was all impeccable and the little cars on the shoes looked so eye-catching that I had to inspect the shoes for at least a few minutes before I put them on my son.

The ultimate test came next.....

Would Baby Craftiness keep them on? He absolutely hates anything that goes on his head or feet. Within a few seconds he has usually ripped them off in disgust. Admittedly he did have a little tug at these shoes because he seemed fascinated with the design. What little baby wouldn't want to touch something that seemed so much fun? All those mini cars racing about the shoes. Not only that, but I think Baby Craftiness liked the softness of the shoes. Just what you can expect from premium leather.

So after letting Baby Craftiness have a five minute play with the shoes, I distracted him with a toy and slipped the shoes on him. They were so easy to get on him. Some booties and shoes we have had in the past have been a huge struggle to get on. On the other hand, some booties are very easy to get on and equally as easy to fall off. It's all about getting the balance right and Robeez certainly seem to have achieved that. They achieve this by putting elastic within the shoe around the ankle, so that you never end up losing a shoe on your travels.

Here is Baby Craftiness investigating the detail on his shoes. He appears to love them. "Who knew I could be such a stylish baby?" he said.

Here's another photo of Baby posing on Nanny Craftiness' lap.

It's all very well and good being fashionable; but above all when you are a baby you mainly just want comfort. As a parent you are soon made aware if anything is in the slightest bit uncomfortable for your child . It was almost as if Baby had forgotten about them on our travels out and about, which I feel was a good indicator of the comfort levels.

As I mentioned previously, booties and shoes usually make my children's feet very hot and sweaty but upon removing the shoes from Baby they seemed just as cool as when I put his feet in. There was also plenty of toe-space, so I feel the sizing is very accurate.

It is very reassuring to read on the Robeez website that 'The best shoe mimics bare feet, by supporting - not constricting tiny growing feet.' If this is their goal, we can be very safe in the knowledge that our children's feet are being taken good care of.

And whether your baby is kicking, crawling, cruising or just amusing; these shoes are great as they have a textured suede sole to prevent slipping. I notice this helped when Baby was crawling as he seemed to have quite a lot of grip with the shoes on.

Verdict: We absolutely loved the shoes!

You can take one last admiring glance at the shoes if you like.....

If you think these shoes look good you can check out http://www.robeez.co.uk/
You will find some equally gorgeous girls designs.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Bonsai Barber

If you are not familiar with the characters Mr Stickle, Charlotte the Starlet and Reg Wedge then you won't be aware of the fun to be had in 'Bonsai Barber.' This week we were lucky enough to have been able to reiterate the theme of the importance of '5-a-day' when we were asked to review the Wii game 'Bonsai Barber.'

Bonsai Barber is a fun-filled game which you download off the Wii shop channel for 1000 points. 1000 points equates to £7.00.

The village barber has retired and the village residents have been patiently (or impatiently as the case may be) awaiting the arrival of a new barber. Sometimes life can be a little bit bleak; sometimes it's the little things that please you most. So imagine my glee when I learnt that I would get to transform these little creature's hair. This motley lot (deemed as the village residents) want their hair cutting and they want it cutting now. The aim of the game is to keep your daily clients happy, you get 5 fruity or veggie clients a day. Perform 5 haircuts a day and try and aim for 5 stars and you will receive letters of thanks and gifts. Keep them waiting, miss a day or make a mess of their hair and you will receive angry letters posted to your Wii message board.

This game is for anyone who had childhood dreams of hacking away at peoples hair for a living. As I think about my childhood and remember my sisters wonky fringe after I gave her a 'trim', I realise this game must be made for people like me. After downloading the game, I was somewhat doubtful whether a Wii game that revolved pointing and clicking to remove hair would hold any appeal for me. I should not have worried, as the only sounds of boredom coming from the room were from Master Craftiness waiting for me to get off the Wii to let him have a go.

There is something very calming and gratifying about this game. Removing the hair needs a steady hand and the ability to choose the right tools - all very important I can tell you. So far this review has been based all on my opinion rather than my son's, and that is because it is a tad addictive and doesn't just appeal to children.

The characters of the game require precision handling. Much the same as in real life, some customers are harder to please than others. With some customers you will have to grit your teeth whilst they moan and groan because you are too slow or not doing it to their liking.
Here is a pic of Master Craftiness engrossed in the game. You only have 5 clients a day and so this usually takes around half-an-hour. Master Craftiness took his role as barber so seriously however, that we found him arising at 6am to make sure his clients were tended to. This was something that we had to put a stop to though as he was getting too tired. So he now tends to his clients after school. They seem to be very happy with this arrangement. Although some clients seem grouchy no matter what you do for them - tut tut!

Above is a completed hairstyle. This client was a very happy customer. I believe this is the pyramid hairstyle and if you would like Master Craftiness to give you a similar styling it will only cost you £150! We also had a very unusual customer in named Strawbinski. Aside from the fact that he is a very awkward customer because he insists on having his hair cut whilst being upside down. He is rather odd in the way that he likes to have his hair cut in the shape of underpants. I know there is such a thing as client confidentiality, but I must tell you, if he ever comes in to your shop then you must try and give him a wide berth. He's rather odd. None the less, it is quite gratifying when you achieve the more complex styles. Our tips for this design would be:
  1. Water the hair to make it grow more evenly.
  2. Use the clippers around the edges.
  3. Use the scissors to chop away at remaining twigs.
  4. Smash at the gong when you have finished with the hammer.
  5. Have some fruit to give you the energy to deal with any further awkward customers.

Sometimes you get additional obstacles to work with. Sometimes it rains which makes clients hair grow very fast, that's very bad if you have just finished cutting it. If you see a cloud, you have to chop through it with the scissors to disperse it. You also have to be careful not to hurt any flying birds that lurk about.

Quite unlike a normal barber shop, when these quirky characters want their hair dyed, you have to paint them with a paintbrush from various colours of pots of paint. If you are an arty kind of person this is quite enjoyable.
Lastly, there is nothing more satisfying in a job than when you get contented customers. Our most happiest include the Cherry Twins (pictured above). It's always a pleasure tending to them.

To further the realism in the game, keep your appointments in order with your 'appointment book' and view the latest styles in the 'styling book.'
As I type, Master Craftiness is busy building up his client base by making sure each and every client is happy and that he achieves a 5 star rating for each and every hair cut. The good thing about this game too, is because you only have 5 customers a day it means that your children wont be glued to a computer all day long. They have just the right amount of time to build up some good hand-eye co-ordination, which is certainly a factor in this game where you need to direct the Wii-mote in the right position in order to correctly cut the hair.

Phew, just realised how much I have written; so as you can see we are quite passionate about this game. It has given us so much fun. We can step in to our own little parallel universe in this game.

Our rating - 9/10 A very unique game which allows your creative abilities to flow. Very addictive for adults and children alike. A novel way to obtain your 5-a-day.

Friday, 16 October 2009


Here in the land of Sweet Craftiness, we have once again been trying our hand at being creative and crafty. This week we have been testing out a new medium which we have never used before. The name?? PlayMais.

I'll tell you a little about the product before I go in to what we thought of it. PlayMais is a natural toy produced from cornstarch and coloured with natural dyestuff. PlayMais is an instructive and creative toy. It comes in various size packages:
  • Medium which contains around 100 pieces.
  • X Medium which contains 250 pieces.
  • Large containing 500 pieces.
  • Extra large which contains 1000 pieces.

What I like about PlayMais is that it is much akin to homemade salt-dough in the way that it is biodegradable, harmless and does not contain toxic ingredients.

It promotes the development of your child in different ways:
  • encouraging creativity
  • enveloping them in a little fantasy world where they can make kingdoms or fairy-filled lands.
  • grasping their imagination and encouraging them to think exactly what they need to do to get a certain shape or achieve a certain texture.
  • the activity boosts their self-esteem as children can't wait to show off their creations.
The package we had was the medium box which contained 100 pieces. It also contained a little mat which you wet to dab the pieces of PlayMais on to so that they become damp and sticky. We tipped the box contents on to the table (see photo above) and on first inspection the PlayMais looked and felt a little like corn puffs. My son dropped a piece in to a glass of water and it fizzled away to nothing. That is why it is vitally important to make sure that you just dab them on to something damp as if you get them too wet they become too sticky to work with or dissolve.

We looked at the little booklet that came with the PlayMais. There were lots of nice ideas such as castles, trees, cows, elephants, crocodiles and much more. We opted to make something quite small; as we only had the medium box we didn't have enough to make anything too extravagant. We decided that it would be good if Master Craftiness used his imagination to make something so he started off with a little snail.

He done this by flattening two red pieces and winding them into the round shape and then flattening down some brown PlayMais to form the body. To make the antennae we had to use a scissors to get them straight and thin. We then ripped two little blue dots to form the eyes. Da-daaaaa! Here's the snail!

At this point Master Craftiness was really enjoying himself, so he asked if we could work on something together. (I think he just knows how much fun I have with his crafty toys).
So we flattened and we moulded, we shaped and we ripped, we cut and we stuck and here's what we came up with:

A boy and a dinosaur. The dinosaur is just going through the magical arch which will take him to a wonderland...........
And that was the wonderful thing about this PlayMais as it really sparked our imagination. I ended up telling Master Craftiness a story about a very friendly dinosaur. A dinosaur who liked taking little boys to magical faraway lands where all of their greatest wishes would come true. He could fly if he wanted to...
The Playmais is great fun, Master Craftiness loved the fact that his hands would turn various colours, depending on which colour he picked up. He even learned a new technique by rubbing his hands on the Playmais and then touching another colour, he would achieve a marbled sort of effect.

For our dinosaur model, we squished and cut a lot of the shapes with scissors to get more defined shape. We also found that to obtain more intricate detailing it was best to use a pen.

Although with PlayMais it would be a bit difficult to reuse to make fresh models, you could use it to rip up and make some sort of collage, add to photo frames, greetings card etc. The options are endless really. This retails at £7.99 but for us the fun isn't going to end there. We intend to print out the pictures of our model and make a story book with the photos.

Our verdict:

A really fun product which leaves children (and adults, ha, ha!) feeling really proud of themselves when they have finished. I would go as far as to say that PlayMais could start targeting adults with this product as there is so much potential for it to be made in to wonderful things. If I had one criticism it would be that the instruction booklet could be made clearer as my son found it very hard to follow. However, you didn't really need to follow instructions as it was so easy to form things by yourself. I think next time round we will be trying the 'African Jungle' PlayMais pack and we can't wait!

Available from www.johnlewis.co.uk

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Halloween planner

Half-term is nearly upon us and so that means so is Halloween. If you want to give your kids an action-packed Halloween follow our party planner:

TIP: Why not have the party the night before Halloween so that friends that usually go Trick or Treating are able to come.

11.00am Spooky craft - Make Funny Runny Honeycomb and Crunchy Toffee Apples - recipes from 'Make,Bake and Celebrate with Polly & Jago.' Have spooky fun making 'Bouncing Bats' out of wool and card. Project featured in 'Custard and Crayons with Polly & Jago.' Books available from http://www.centralbooks.co.uk/
12.00pm Make the house look spooky by bringing out the 'anatomically correct skeleton' which is not only great for Halloween but for educational purposes too. Available from http://www.brightminds.co.uk/12.15pm Bring out the balloons and decorations - We are using the gruesome 3D hanging decoration, bat strings, black crepe streamer, spider balloons, glitter Halloween cut outs and witch and cat balloons. All available from http://www.partypieces.co.uk/12.30pm Put out tableware – using ‘Gruesome Party’ design including cups, table cover, plates, lids, straws and napkins. Available from http://www.partypieces.co.uk/
2.30pm-Prepare party bags - We are using 'Gruesome loot bags' from http://www.partypieces.co.uk/ We are then filling them with stretchy spiders, plastic fangs, chocolate spiders, stretchy skeletons and scary finger monsters from http://www.partypieces.co.uk/

We are also going to be filling them with Cadbury's Trick or Treat biscuit bags and Cadbury's Halloween Mallows.

What's even better is that if you are a biscuit fan, if you purchase any promotional pack of Cadbury's chocolate digestives, you can log on to www.cadburybiscuitsmug.com to claim a FREE PERSONALISED MUG!! Upload your photos and before long you will be sitting staring at a your favourite pic whilst having a lovely cuppa.

3.00pm Fill party bags with sweets - Fill party bags with sweets from http://www.aquarterof.co.uk/ Take your pick from strawberry flavoured Dracula fangs, fruity and chewy scary spiders, Jelly Skeletons or Giant Rats or the particularly gruesome Squirting Skulls – gums with oozy, juicy centres which spurt out as you bite into them. From £1.83 a quarter (250g), these sweets are terribly tasty. And, if you want to indulge in a veritable spooky Halloween feast, choose one of A Quarter Of’s Halloween Boxes of Horribly Tasty Treats which are filled to the brim with all kinds of sinister, yet delicious, sweets.4.00pm Halloween hair with ColourFX – Make your Halloween party an event to remember by using ColourFX to create that finishing touch to any costume. Whether your little ones want to be a scary Clown, a Vicious Vampire or a Wicked Witch this October 31st, ColourFX can create hair colours to match any Halloween characters. The easy application of either a spray (£3.49) or a gel (£2.99) makes life easy for parents who need a simple hair solution to complete their children’s costume. The budget hair products are available in a wide selection of colours; try Groovy Green for The Hulk, Radical Red for your little devil, Wicked White for a skeleton or even Party Purple for a wacky wizard, ColourFX has the colour for you! The gels are great for moulding hair into horns or spikes. Available at Claire’s Accessories or log onto http://www.colourfx.eu/5.00pm – Fill the table with delicious snacks such as Aldi’s Scary Fairy Cakes and Aldi’s Milk Chocolate Halloweenies6.00pm Guests arrive – Scare guests by using the ‘Remote Control Tarantula’ (£24.99). Make it crawl backwards and forwards. Available from http://www.brightminds.co.uk/6.10 Guests go off to play
7.00pm Guests eat
7.10pm Give out candy to all the trick or treaters - Poundland do a fantastic range of items. http://www.poundland.co.uk/pages/offers/halloween_split.aspx
7.30pm Guests play ‘Pin the nose on the Pumpkin’ and Halloween pass the parcel.
7.00pm Halloween Sky Lanterns At around a metre tall these are a must have scary treat for your Halloween party. Sky Lanterns are the party accessory everybody is talking about this year. If you are looking to add that magical touch to your event, but are concerned about the costs spiralling out of control, nothing can be more spectacular yet affordable. http://www.skylanternsonline.co.uk/
8.30pm Hand out ‘Witches Brew’ – hand out a spooky twist on hot chocolate – idea from http://www.partypieces.co.uk/pages/cm/cm.asp?sCCPage=party%20ideas_halloween%20party&cookie_test=1

Make sure you can distinguish which cup is yours by using Creepy Creatures glass markers
. These are great to make sure you don't swap germs. They are great because they stick to any smooth surface with suction pads and make any cup or glass look extra spooky.For stockists
0r call 01299 250480

8.50pm Guests leave
9.00pm Spooky bath time fun - Retire to bed after bathing the kids with spooky bath potions. Make it a Halloween bath-time to remember. Your children can create their own hubble bubble bath potions and watch in amazement as the water fizzes into red, yellow or blue as you swirl a Tinti Bathwater Colour Tablet (£2.99 for a 3 pack) into the water. There is also a selection of spooky coloured Tinti Bath Foams (£3.75) available in red or green to transform your little lovelies in to the Incredible Hulk or a cheeky little devil. Tinti Bath Pops (£2.99 for a 3 pack) add extra spook. As kids hear the bath water crackle and pop. Get ready for some extra splash time fun as you add the coloured crystals to water and see them fizz and hear them crackle. Don’t worry about sensitive skin as Tinti contains no preservatives or SLS, is bio-degradable, and free from all know allergenic fragrances. All products are soap-free and dermatologically tested providing 100% good clean fun! It leaves no residue, and will not stain your skin, hair or bathroom! Available from http://www.tinti.co.uk/

9.30pm Get rid of the monsters – After all the spooky fun ensure your little monsters get a good night’s sleep by squirting ‘Anti-Monster Spray’ (£6.99). Spray this super duper lavender spray which instantly gets rid of monsters, ghosts and spiders and ensures a fabulous night sleep. Available from http://www.brightminds.co.uk/

Have a spooky Halloween!