Saturday, 1 December 2012

Review: Melissa and Doug Puppet Theatre from

Squeals of delight could be heard all round my house yesterday.  The introduction of a beautiful puppet theatre caused somewhat of a stir.  For months we have been looking for a good quality puppet theatre, my little boy has become transfixed with the one in his playgroup and so I was unsure whether any puppet theatre we introduced would live up to the one he is already familiar with.
But the quick and simple answer to that is that it exceeded his expectations and more......

We knew as soon as we took the pieces out of the box that this was going to be a great quality item.  Each item that needed assembling was strong, weighty and felt very durable.  It seemed like a long wait when we were so excited, but the whole of assembly time took around 30 minutes (less time if you haven't got an eager 4-year old helper).

Even the pieces laying unassembled on the floor caused excitement; they were so vibrant and dramatic that you could almost imagine you were part of some West-end stage show.  The top part of the puppet theatre is so extravagantly shaped (carved or cut) out of wood that it adds real character to the puppet theatre and makes it outstanding to look at.

The completed puppet theatre looked astounding and really had 'wow' factor.  It will transform any child's bedroom to look a place of imagination and delight.  With this in a child's bedroom there is tons of potential for creative play; you don't even have to use it just as a puppet theatre either - you could turn it in to a shop front, a post office etc.

The puppet theatre is mainly made of wood, but at the sides you have black pieces of fabric hanging off the wooden frame which makes the inside of the puppet theatre feel den-like.  Which is a great thing because whilst doing a puppet show your child can feel hidden if they so wish, allowing them to get whisked away in a world of imaginative play.   To children their performance will seem more believable, if they think they are putting on a squeaky voice and you can't see them.  They will think that you really believe a wolf is about to eat Little Red Riding Hood.  The look on my son's face whilst playing is priceless!

The size of the puppet theatre is fantastic too; it's around 4 feet high and 2 feet wide.  It's the perfect size for children to stand behind and also they can even house a little stool behind there if they are doing a lengthier performance.  You do need to think about where you will house the puppet theatre before purchasing though as it doesn't fold down.

As with all Melissa and Doug products every last detail is thought of; from the luscious velvety curtains, clock with moveable hands and blackboard for advertising upcoming shows there is  something to please the most fussy of children.  

The clock also has dual-purpose as it is a great tool for teaching children time-telling and the chalk board can also be used for general drawing.

I left my son for five minutes and was thoroughly overwhelmed when I came back in and he had made up his own performance, he'd even thought of music.  See what you think....

Now for the good news! One of my favourite websites stocks this puppet theatre and usually it is priced at £69.99, but at the moment it is on offer for £59.99!  What a bargain!  I would snap it up at that price.  I am so pleased with this puppet theatre; I know it will give us years of fun.  And because of the great quality of the puppet theatre it is the kind of item that can be passed on to future generations...

Now have lots of fantastic products and they have kindly provided a prize for one of my lucky readers to win.  You can win a Mudpuppy Finger Puppet set. You can choose which pack you would like.  

Now to enter just follow the rafflecopter steps below.  Good luck!

Entrants can choose which design they would like to win.
Our T&C for competitions are as below – please confirm  that you are able to collect the entries and provide us with email addresses of all entrants
  • There is no cash alternative.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • Prizes will be despatch 48 hours after the winners are selected.
  • Competition winners are not expected to pay for delivery.
  • GreatGifts4kids will collate the entrants, randomly choose the winner/s and notify the winner/s via email.
  • Personal details, including the email addresses of entrants will not be shared with any other organisations.
  • Ends 14th December

Friday, 23 November 2012

Review: Zumba Fitness Core (Wii)

From the minute you put Zumba Fitness Core on you will feel enlivened and invigorated by the fantastic selection of music; all the songs are amazingly upbeat and will make you feel glad to be alive.

I have to admit I haven't done any fitness related things for around 4 years; I used to have a treadmill and go on it daily but since having my youngest child that's a thing of the past. I'm afraid I lacked motivation; that was until I got my hands on this game....

'Zumba' for those of you who are as clueless as I was up until a few weeks ago, is described as a Latin and International dance fitness programme.  The choreography incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, mambo, merengue, soca, martial arts, Bollywood and belly dancing.  I first became aware of Zumba through Facebook when I heard my friends raving about classes they had attended so I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.

 The first day I received the game I was dressed in my usual clothes of a long-sleeved top, jeans and boots; I turned the game on just to see what it was like, not intending to play it there and then, but the music was so addictive I had to get up and dance straight away.  Amazingly, because the music was so upbeat and involving it didn't feel like I was doing any strenuous fitness regime; that was until the sweat started to pour off me.  But still that didn't put me off because the great thing about dancing is that it doesn't feel like work; it's just so enjoyable.  Eventually I had to get changed in to a shorts and t-shirt as I was enjoying myself so much and I spent 20 minutes on it before I totally wore myself out.  (I know, I know! I need to improve my fitness,  but not too bad for a first attempt).

I find the game totally empowering; it makes you feel like you are some amazing dancer! Not only are you doing a great form of exercise but you are learning to dance too.  My personal favourite was the Bob Marley 'Jammin' song.

A feature I liked about the game was that the small screen on the bottom left told you whether you were performing the moves correctly, so the more moves you done correctly, the higher your overall score at the end.  It was nice having a goal to aim for and seeing your dance performance improve with practice.

The Zumba Fitness Core game is fantastic for me as the 40 new routines aim specifically to sculpt your abs; since having babies that has been my most problematic area, so it will be great to see in a few months time just how this game helps me.  At the moment I am showing no signs of boring of the game, I feel I am growing in proficiency with my dancing and so this spurs me on to do harder routines.

I love music and it's the music that keeps me inspired and upbeat when playing this game; with hits from Enrique Iglesias, Don Omar, Sean Paul, Bob Marley, Tiesto and much more there is something that will appeal to everyone.  The fitness instructors in the game that guide you through the dance moves are all based on real-life celebrity Zumba instructors, so I'm sure a lot of their real-life vibrancy has been captured in this Wii game.

With over 30 different dance styles to pick up it will take a long while to bore of this game.  Since getting the game I have played around 3 times a week (I do have to battle with my 10 year old son for use of the Xbox otherwise it would probably be more).

At the moment I am still working with the low-intensity routines, but each time I play this game I feel that much more adept.

So if you are looking for a fun way to exercise then this game is for you.

For more information please visit 

Next’s Dress For Christmas Competition

I love Christmas, it's one of my favourite times of the year.  Not much can beat the look of excitement on the children's faces for me.  I try and capture as many photos of them as I can at this time of year as it's at this time when I seem to see the childhood magic instilled in their eyes; the look that shows me that they still believe......

In order to get the most perfect photos, I always like to ensure they have a good festive wardrobe.  I always purchase their clothes every year from Next as they have such a wonderful variety.  These are usually my requirements for the clothes:
  • Must contain some red
  • Must be warm and snugly
  • Must be cute
So the first thing that caught my eye this year from was this red all in one suit.  It was the perfect fit for my four year old, and more importantly on freezing cold days it keeps him as snug as a bug in a rug.  The fact that it covers all the legs and is so padded keeps him ultra cosy and the fur around the hood keeps the cold air from his head.  Priced at around £26-£28 I thought this competitively priced for how cute it looks and how well it fits its purpose.

Red Padded All-In-One £26-£28

To accompany the snugly all-in-one suit I chose the Reindeer Fairisle Pattern Trapper.  In the Next catalogue you will find this in the women's section, but once I laid my eyes on this hat I had to have it for him.  I think you'll agree it goes superbly well with the red all-in-one.  It adds a festive feel to the whole outfit.  It just goes to prove what a unisex hat it is; it can be worn by boys or girls.

Reindeer Fairisle Pattern Trapper £9.50 - £11.50

Since I purchased this Reindeer trapper for him it's no exaggeration to say that we get comments daily on what a lovely hat it is.  The knitted reindeers add a traditional festive feel and the faux fur features add warmth to the hat.  The fact that the hat is so long keeps my sons ears lovely and warm too, so I don't need to worry about the cold wind blowing in his ears.

The hat has lovely detailing  and always attracts lots of comments.  Today has been a particularly windy day and my son made me laugh as the baubly bits on the hat were flying out behind him; he reminded me of Pippy Longstocking.

Ahh just how cute does this outfit look on him?

Next up was this gorgeous 'I heart Santa' top.  I liked this top because of the fact that the heart was composed of a fairisle design and yet the top also managed to maintain a modern feel by using the word 'cool' and placing a heart instead of the word 'love'; which is what we do in today's tech-friendly society.  The top is made of 60% cotton and 40% viscose so it is slightly warmer than just cotton alone.  The heart part of the top is slightly raised and has the feel that the heart has been sewed  or stuck on the top.

Long Sleeve I Heart Santa Crew Neck £7-£8

The top had a really nice fit and is perfect for lounging about in over the Christmas period as it is so comfortable.

For smart Christmas Day wear I had to look no further than these stunning tartan shirts, I loved them so much I couldn't resist purchasing one for my four year old and ten year old.  Don't they look great in matching shirts?  This is what they will be wearing on Christmas Day.

Red Tartan Shirt £9-£10 

Red Cord Chinos £9-£10

No Christmas is complete without a frosty looking reindeer jumper; this one looked the part and was also really comfy (not itchy like some jumpers can be). So we had no problem with my son wearing it as you can see!

Reindeer Fairisle Pattern Sweater  £14 - £15

Boys love monsters and when you are trying to get them to stay warm, there's no better option than to dress them as a little monster.  So adorable.....
Faux Fur Monster Hat £8-9

That's the kids sorted, but for myself I have created my own Pinterest board of what I would love to wear over the festive period.

And of course we couldn't leave out my husband so here's his Pinterest board

That's us sorted for Christmas thanks to Next!  Anyway, we are entering this blog post in to the the wonderful Northern Mum's competition.  The challenge was to illustrate how you would style your family for Christmas day.  You can find more information on this challenge by clicking here

I thoroughly enjoyed entering - thank you Jane!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Fairtrade Big Bake Fair Challenge: Fairtrade Cinnamon and Raisin Cake

 This weekend we joined in the Big Fair Bake Challenge. Baking with Fairtrade ingredients is one easy way for everyone to make a difference to millions of people who desperately need a better deal from trade.  Without a fair price for the crops they grow, many farmers struggle to support their families.  Fairtrade offers farmers and workers the safety net of a fair price today and a little extra to invest in projects which benefit the whole community, such as clean water, education and health care.

The Big Fair Bake is part of the year-long Take-a-Step campaign, which aims to get the UK to take a total of 1.5 million steps for Fairtrade in 2012, a step for every farmer and worker in the Fairtrade system.  A step can be small, like switching your tea to Fairtrade or baking with Fairtrade ingredients or a larger one like holding an event.  Every single one counts, because together they lead to life-changing projects in developing countries.

As part of the campaign, Tots100 invited bloggers to develop a baking creation inspired by one (or more) of the following Fairtrade certified ingredients:

Chocolate (or Cocoa powder)
Brazil Nuts


 I supported the Fairtrade cause by baking my creation; which is Fairtrade Cinnamon and Raisin Cake.  This is a thoroughly gorgeous cake that is very moist and tasty.  The cinnamon and raisins work perfectly together and it is the perfect cake to accompany a cup of Fairtrade tea.

To make the cake you will need:

1/2 teaspoon of Fairtrade ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons of Fairtrade caster sugar
4 tablespoons of Fairtrade brown sugar

110g butter
55g  Fairtrade raisins
pinch salt
125g plain flour
130ml soured cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 4.  Grease a 20cm round tin.

Step 2: In a bowl mix together the Fairtrade ground cinnamon, Fairtrade caster sugar and Fairtrade brown sugar; set aside.

Step 3: In a separate bowl cream together the butter and 4 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar (that you mixed in step 2).  Keep mixing until light and fluffy.  Then beat in the egg, soured cream and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.  Then add in to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Step 4:  Spread half of the batter in the greased tin and then tip on the raisins.  Sprinkle half of the remaining cinnamon sugar on the raisins and then add the rest of the batter, ensuring that all the raisins are covered with the cake batter.  When all of the batter is in the tin, scatter the remaining cinnamon sugar on the top of the cake.

Step 5:  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 6 : Enjoy with a cup of Fairtrade tea!

 The cake is simply delicious!  It is perfectly moist with a delicious sugary cinnamon crust!  The raisins adding just the perfect blend of fruitiness.

It's a nice feeling to think that we are supporting the Fairtrade cause in some small way as well.

My little boy enjoying the cake!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tilda Kids Rice

Have you tried Tilda Kids rice yet?  You should! They have a delicious range of rices which are perfect for teaming up with a wide range of meals!  They combine lots of vegetables and are really tasty.  

Recently we discovered that Tilda Kids were running a story competition where children had to write an adventure story about Tilli and her friends.  In case you are wondering who Tilli is, she's the elephant which graces the packs of Tilda Kids rice.  This story competition certainly provided "food for thought" for my oldest son and it was a lovely activity as we sat down together and discussed possible story plots.  In the end he decided upon writing about the children trying to cook a lovely meal for Tilli, to repay her for her kindness in always providing them with lovely meals.

Here's his story:

Tilli had made so many delicious meals for the children that they decided that it was time to do something nice for Tilli. What better way to repay her kindness than to cook her a tasty dish! Of course the children were too young to do real cooking with hot ovens by themselves so they gathered together some of the things that they knew Tilli loved to eat and began to make her a meal that didn’t need cooking. Being an elephant this was what she liked best anyway.
So the children found some grass and leaves that were healthy for Tilli and helped Tilli learn to laugh and grow and play. For they realised that it wasn’t just important for them to eat good foods but Tilli needed to eat good elephant foods too.
When Tilli saw what trouble the children had gone to for her she was so pleased and said that she would create more tasty Tilda dishes for the children tomorrow. Everyone was happy!
And so we sent off the email with his story and a few weeks later we were absolutely thrilled to receive an email informing us that he won!  The prize was a wonderful family pass to a zoo of our choice!!  We will be blogging about our special zoo adventure in a few weeks time, so keep your eyes peeled!
In the meantime the lovely PR lady who I passed a few emails back and forth with asked me whether I had seen the new ebook available from  I had a look and thought it was brilliant, so I thought it was worth writing a little blog post about.  
The e-book is called 'Grow with Tilli & Friends' and it's a recipe and activity book.  You can visit and print one off, and there's activities suitable for everyone in there.  The book is lovely and colourful and contains tons of fun ideas, so it might even be worth you laminating the book so that you can keep it in good condition for the amount of times you will want to use it.
What I liked about the book was that it featured recipes that I hadn't necessarily come across before; have you ever heard of a rice cake before?  I haven't but I intend making one this weekend.  Things like the dot-to-dot pages were also a great hit with my sons and I loved the pages with songs on for the children to sing too.
One of the pages featured a recipe called 'Kiddy Korma' and it went down a treat with everyone, the Tilda Kids 'Mild & Sweet Curry rice' providing the perfect accompaniment with the delicate blend of vegetables.
Yum! Kiddy Korma!

The recipe used lots of fresh fruit and veg like carrots, peas, onions and apples which made the korma naturally sweet; it was delicious!

Here's a close-up!

My little boy thoroughly enjoyed doing some of the yoga moves featured in the booklet, and we are planning on making the 'Fruity Rice' for breakfast tomorrow!

I was so impressed with the e-book that I thought it would be fun to make a little video of my youngest son (my oldest son was too camera shy) partaking in some of the activities.  Have a look and see what you think .......

To download your copy of the book please visit

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My very own Superhero! #kodakavengers


Super Heroes always capture children’s imagination…and these days adults aren’t immune either...........

Crash!  Pow! Bang! Whack!  I have a big superhero fan in my house, and if I had a pound for each time he wanted to get changed in to a different superhero costume I would be a very rich woman by now!  In our collection at the moment is Spiderman, Superman and Batman; we also have some Incredible Hulk fists which proclaim something along the lines of "Don't make me angry, you won't like me when I get angry" every time you swing them.  Which actually results in the fists getting swung around a lot more!

Anyway, when I read about this challenge from Britmums and Kodak I was only too eager to take part.  It actually gave us a lovely activity for the weekend, although we did have some difference of opinion.  My three year old insisted that under no circumstances was there going to be any elastic or string passing through the holes of the masks, he seemed to think that it would ruin them by passing string through.  So we had to go with the hand-held option.

Anyway, before that we had other things to worry about; clearly I have printer problems as this Incredible Hulk mask came out BLUE!!!!  Much to the disgust of my three year old!  Although after much persuasion he started to think it was really cool!  

I actually think a blue Incredible Hulk looks quite good!   This was the best superhero pose my little one could do what with insisting that he had to hold the mask on.

My little boy loved using these masks; it was the next best thing to the costumes for him, and we now have Captain America, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk costumes on his Christmas list for Santa.

Awww!  What a sweet Captain America!

Lastly we have a rather spooky looking Iron Man!

And of course we couldn't blog about superheroes and not include a pic of the Spiderman costume!  I'll even let you in to a little secret - Spiderman's favourite food seems to be chocolate biscuits!

Yum! Yum! Chocolate biscuits!

And so we had a fun afternoon perusing these masks, even if my printer did turn the Incredible Hulk blue!

This is a post for the #kodakavengers Linky Challenge – if you take part you could win £500 or one of 3 Kodak Hero 7.1 All-in-One printers plus Marvel’s Avengers Assemble on DVD.
The Linky celebrates the power of Super Heroes as well as the DVD and Blu-ray release of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble on 17th September, along withfree printables for creating your own Super Hero adventure at home from Kodak. 

This Linky is sponsored by Kodak, which has created free Marvel’s Avengers Assemble printables you can print at home, including character masks, posters and party packs including invitations to create your own Avengers themed party! Plus with Kodak you can print as much as you like without worrying about the cost of ink. With the lowest total ink replacement costs in the UK you can replace all your inks for under £23*.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Challenge from Britmums

There's nothing better than something to inspire your creativity and this weekend it was all about Kellogg's Rice Krispies.  I'm sure you will have seen the new boxes from Kellogg's, they feature a plain Snap, Crackle and Pop which are ready for your child to colour in, this is a great chance to showcase your child's artistic abilities.  

Even better is that if you unleash your child's creativity with this wonderful box and blog about it you can take part in the #ColourMeInRK Linky sponsored by Kellogg's.  Take part and you can win £500 cash or a years supply of Rice Krispies!  

Here's our #ColourMeINRK day:

 My three year old son had already coloured in one box before we knew about this challenge, but he was more than happy to partake in some colouring of the box once again.

We started off with making some chocolate Rice Krispie Cakes but I forgot to take pictures of the finished result.  Here's my son enjoying the mixing!

Next we moved on to making a new Rice Krispie character out of a wooden spoon. Here's a photo of the decision making on whether the character needed sparkly gems on his head.  We wanted him to be a superhero so we decided on a big sparkly square.

The concentration.....

 "Wow!  Look I haven't got a mouth, but my creator seems very pleased!"

Welcome Mr Creak; he used to be able to Snap, Crackle and Pop, but now he is old and wooden and is only able to creak.

Now on to the colouring.  More concentration needed.

Our finished box with lots of sparkly gems.....

A close-up:
What a lot of fun with just some crayons and a cereal box!!