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31.10.12

Bigsby, The Interactive Story Buddy {Review}

When Hallmark asked if I would review something for Halloween I said yes. I'm not really a fan of Halloween but I thought maybe an exciting new product from a brand I trust could change my mind or maybe help me see the appeal of it. I didn't know what the product was until it arrived at my house.
One Saturday the doorbell went and a big box was delivered. I opened it and saw a friendly monster staring up at me.
As I removed this monster from the box I noticed he was sat infront of a book and there was a label telling me that he responds when I read his book.
Before I had the chance to look at him properly he was taken from my hands and away for the boys to inspect him. Harry growled and roared and Charles kept asking who he was.

Once I finally got to have a proper look I loved what I saw but was dubious as to whether or not it would work.
Whilst reading the story, there are particular phrases which will trigger a response from Bigsby.
These phrases are highlighted in red in the book.

These phrases don't only trigger one response, but up to four, meaning each time you read the story or say the certain phrase Bigsby won't necessarily repeat what he has just said.
"Bigsby bashful" or "Bigsby wanna hide" are two reponses to "Bigsby was an extremely shy guy".
This is great to make his character seem more real and to make the story a little more personal and interactive.

Bigsby comes with one book but there are two others to collect.
Bigsby was launched in time for Halloween, however, I feel he is a perfect gift for Christmas and isn't specifically tailored to sold at Halloween only.
If we didn't have Bigsby to review then it would definitely be on Charles' Christmas list, instead we will be placing the additional two books (Bigsby's Borrowed Shoes and  Bigsby's Big News) on his list to add to our collection.

Bigsby is aimed at girls and boys aged 3+ although Harry, at 15 months, absolutely loves him! I've lost count of the many times Bigsby has been thrust into my hands followed by "ta! ta! Mama! ta", then closely followed by the book being thrown at my arm as Harry then climbs onto my lap for me to read to him.

Bigsby, and the additional books, are available to buy via the Hallmark website. Bigsby and one book costs £19.99. Additional books are £5.99 each.

Although I don't have an iphone or ipad I am informed that there is a downloadable app suitable for use on to accompany Bigsby. The free app includes a short animated story that can be played loud through the app's internal narrator or recorded by a loved one to add a personal touch to the tale. The app also includes child-friendly puzzles and an interactive game that lets your child play with Bigsby, just like in the book!

(please excuse the dirty school bag Bigsby is sat near)

 
 
We were sent a Bigsby Interactive Story Buddy for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.

30.10.12

Kelly's of Cornwall {Competition}

I am giving away 5 tubs of Kelly's of Cornwall Ice Cream for one lucky reader. To be in with the chance of winning simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please make sure you fill in the form correctly. Any incorrect entries will not be included in the final draw.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
http://www.kellysofcornwall.co.uk/wp-content/themes/basetheme/images/kellys-logo.png
Cornwall’s leading ice cream producer, Kelly’s, is launching a nationwide search to find the ultimate home-made pudding recipe to serve with Kelly’s ice cream.

Do you make the most sumptuous sticky toffee pudding? Have you got the best bread and butter pudding recipe in the county? Then this is your chance to don an apron, bring out the rolling pin and bake for the opportunity to represent Kelly’s of Cornwall online pudding campaign.


The lucky winner will be honoured on the Kelly’s of Cornwall website with their recipe professionally made and photographed. What’s more, the lucky winner will also be treated to a year’s supply of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream.  For ten runner’s up, there is a month’s supply of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream up for grabs.

 
TO ENTER: just submit a photo of your chosen pudding with a detailed description of the recipe, including the flavour of Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream it matches perfectly with.  Enter online via the entry form on the Kelly's of Cornwall website.  You must upload a picture of the finished pudding and a reason to why your pudding is oh-so-perfect with Kelly’s ice cream.  The deadline for entries is 2nd November 2012.
Members of Kelly’s judging committee will then judge all entries and one winner and ten runners up will be selected, and announced on 9th November 2012 – National Pudding Day.


The Kelly’s of Cornwall range available in supermarkets includes:Clotted Cream Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Clotted Cream  & Golden Syrup Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Clotted Cream  & Honeycomb Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Clotted Cream  & Strawberry Ice Cream 1 litre·     
 Clotted Cream & Blackcurrant Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Clotted Cream & Chocolate Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Cornish Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream 1 litre·      
Cornish Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream 2 litre
 
RRP of £3.99 for a 1 litre pack.

Babymule Change Bag {Review}

One of our main requirements for our trip to London was travelling light.
We were only going for 2 nights so really didn't have too much to take. Normally we would take a suitcase, fill it with a variety of clothes (even if it is just for a 2 night stay) take a weeks worth of nappies and lots of other things we could really do without.
Whilst writing my list of things we needed to take I kept reminding myself that if we forgot anything or ended up needing anything we hadn't considered then we could buy it there.
As it happens we needed to buy a cup for Harry and almost needed new clothes due to him spilling a glass of orange juice all over himself (thankfully my husband was able to dry him off using a hairdryer!)

Although we have a mini suitcase we weighed up our pro's and con's of taking it and with 2 boys, a pushchair (which we initially didn't want to take but then realised would be useful) various tubes and bus journeys it would be far too fiddly. We were also planning on babywearing and felt that bending over slightly to pull a little suitcase would be too much hassle.

We were very kindly sent a Babymule for our trip.
Claire Fuller dreamed up the Babymule concept in 2008 when she couldn’t quite find a change bag that lived up to her high expectations. The market seemed saturated with attractive messenger bags and peppered with backpack styles; but nothing that combined the good looks of the messenger with the functionality of the backpack. It was a simple as that; a challenge to develop the concept of the most transferable, useful, beautiful, organised and super-functional baby changing bag.

Babymule launched at the Baby Show in Earls Court in October 2010. With a second child on the way it was a very busy time for 'team Babymule'.
 I instantly fell in love with the Baby Mule and could see just how practical it was for our trip.
With various different compartments we were able to fit in:
  • A spare outfit for Charles
  • A spare outfit for Harry
  • A spare outfit for my husband
  • A spare outfit for me (plus a spare pair of shoes, of course)
  • Nightclothes for the boys and for me
  • Toiletries
  • 10 nappies
  • Wipes
  • Phone chargers
  • Camera chargers
  • Make up bag
Had you told me that I would be able to fit all of this into a change bag I wouldn't have believed you. But, we were able to and we even had room to spare!
Now, this may give the impression that the bag is big and bulky, but far from it.
The bag, if not as full as we made it, is suitable enough to just pop a couple of nappies, wipes and whatever else you would pop into a change bag.
You don't even have to worry about a change mat, there's one included!
As well as:
  • a bottle warmer/cooler
  • changing pouch for nappies and wipes (this can also be used as a cool bag)
  • wipe clean dirty bag
These items are all kept safe within the bag by using poppers to attach them into each compartment. The
The bag also boasts many pockets within each compartment to keep little items safe. I use these pockets for my mobile, purse, lipstick and for Harrys teething gel.

The bag has many ways to carry, either as a backpack, messenger, as a satchel or it can be clipped to the buggy. The straps are hidden away in zip compartments, the one right at the back being my favourite as it is so discreet!
It's perfect for babywearing which is a major plus for us. 

We feel we couldn't have done the journey to London without this bag. It was ideal and so easy to transport and especially to keep all of our bits and pieces in.
Although I didn't get any photos of us using it in London (*slap hands*) I have taken a photo of us using it on the way to preschool. After the basket ripped off the bottom of the pushchair this is ideal to hang from the bar for our short journey. I can keep Charles bookbag in there, cardigan (in case he needs it) as well as a nappy and wipes in case we need it for Harry, my purse, keys, phone and a bottle of drink each for the boys. As well as a bag of apples for our snack contribution.
It's also ideal for the walk home in case Charles makes something we need to somehow transport back!

Another plus to the BabyMule is that it is suitable for mums and dads. My husband felt perfectly comfortable walking around London with a "slightly flowery" bag. He didn't feel it was too feminine. It's available in a range of beautiful colours as well as plain black.
It also isn't an obvious change bag so can be used in a number of situations. 
Uses include:
  • Change bag
  • Overnight/weekend bag
  • Gym bag
  • Swim bag
  • Picnic bag
  • Or even just an everyday bag!
The BabyMule costs £84-£90 (website price October 2012) which is very reasonable considering the many uses, the amount of pockets and compartments, as well as it being incredibly well made....this may seem like a silly thing to add but in the past 3 years I have gone through many changebags because they just weren't made well enough.

We really wish we had one of these bags sooner and highly recommend it.

 
BabyMule on our bed in London
 
 
 
 We were sent a BabyMule for our London trip and to review.

28.10.12

The Colours of Autumn

The walk to preschool has changed somewhat. Last time we were coatless and I was wearing sandals, now we are wearing boots, and thick coats. Harry warmly tucked up within the foot muff that accompanies his pram.
Autumn seems to have smacked us in the face really. One minute it wasn't here, and the next, bam! The leaves are falling from the trees, the wind is blowing so strong that it seems days with my hair in a ponytail are much more frequent!
The walk to preschool has changed so much. The lanes once full of tree's with lush green leaves is now a muddy mess, covered in beautiful orange, red, yellow and brown leaves mixed with the few tree's with green leaves remaining.

I do love Autumn. I love the colours, something Charles is noticing everyday.
"Everything is so beautiful now mummy, just look at all those beautiful trees"
I love that he takes in our surroundings and is aware of the changes around him.

These are some photos I snapped on the way back from dropping him off at preschool on Thursday. I planned to edit them but felt that in doing so I was taking away the true colours that I spotted.
The photos aren't amazing, it's hard to take one when Harry doesn't want me to stop pushing him, but they show the wide range of colours there for our viewing pleasure.















26.10.12

The Engagement {Flashback Friday}

Although we'd only been together a few months my [then] boyfriend constantly told me he would marry me.
We decided, and this annoys me now as I don't "get" planned engagements, to get engaged on December 27th, our 1 year anniversary.

We were laying in bed one morning, I can't remember the date but I know it was October, and with no plans for the following day we decided to head to Norwich to look for rings! Our reasoning for looking two months in advance was that they might need to order one in which can sometimes take ages, especially with us planning to get engaged so close to Christmas, and also it might have taken us a while to find one.
Anyway, we said we wouldn't be buying, we would only be looking.

So off we went to Norwich. We went to the Mall first to look at the jewellery shops there. I remember us standing outside one, we'd been looking at the rings and then my [then] boyfriend looked at me and said "should we buy the ring today?".
I can still feel those butterflies 9 years on. It was such a romantic moment, despite being stood outside a shop in a busy mall.
Although I had no real idea of what I wanted, other than that being gold, we had a lot to choose from...at least that's what we thought.
I didn't want to get a ring that only I liked.
It was important to me that my [then] boyfriend loved it too. That it was special for both of us.
We realised that we seemed to keep going for ring with a diamond set into a square frame. (goodness knows what the technical term is for that!)

We looked around a lot of jewellers and found rings that were ok, but not perfect.
We had no budget in mind, well, if my [then] boyfriend did he didn't let on to me, although whether the budget be £100 or £1000, it didn't matter to me.

Towards the end of the day, it was now dark, we went to H Samuel. They were getting ready to close. We looked in the window and saw around 4 or 5 rings and asked to look at them.
I tried one on and it was perfect! We ended up buying it.
The lady who served us recognised my husbands voice and name (once he handed over his card) from the radio so he left happy. (He used to get recognised a lot back then)

We'd clearly said we were going to wait until December 27th and when we got back to my [then] boyfriends flat we looked at the ring one more time and then he placed it on top of the cupboards in the kitchen.
He got it down again for me to have a look at. And then put it away again.
A final time he got it back down from the top of the cupboard. We took it out of the box and he said I could try it on again.
We were sat on the floor of his lounge.
He then kept winding me up, going to put it on my finger and then taking it off, and then started saying "should we just do it [get engaged] now?" I said it was up to him and then he teased me more.
Again pretending he was going to put the ring on and then taking it off.
My heart was racing.
He kept saying "I'm going to do it now....no I'm not" and laughing.
Then.....
He did it.
"Will you marry me?"
 Immediately I said yes. And he put the ring on my finger.
We kissed.

We then phoned our parents and as instructed by my new-mother-in-law-to-be we headed straight out to [what was then called] Safeway and bought a bottle of champagne.
We then went home and celebrated.
I didn't get any photos of the day but below is a photo of the ring, taken in Tenerife 2004. The photo at the bottom is from our engagement meal with my [then] boyfriends dad, his partner, my sister-in-law-to-be and her boyfriend.

Although it may not sound like the most romantic of proposals in that there were no candles, there was no sunset, no romantic music in the background, it was personal and if we were to go back, I would do it all the same again. 

 
Little did I know that in less than two months time our plans would be at risk and big decisions would need to be made....

This week there is NO THEME. Next week the theme is *HALLOWEEN* Link up a spoooooooooky post, maybe you've experienced a ghost? Seen a psychic? Been on a ghost hunt? Or you have tales of Trick or treating when you were younger or just with your children.
Remember a flashback can be from any time whether it be yesterday, last week, last month, last year or yesteryear! It can be a flashback of your own, your children, your partner or your friends. And if you don't want to write a post, then just link up a photo with a date. If you don't have time to write a new post, no problem simply link up a post you have already posted.
Make sure you check out my lovely co-hosts post too.

laurensflashbackbadge1

23.10.12

A 999 Call.

Saturday was pretty much an average Saturday, with the exception of my husband going to work in the afternoon rather than the morning due to a schedule change at the radio station.
The boys eat separate to us most nights and as they had both been a bit over-excited in the afternoon I decided to give them an early dinner so they would be put to bed as my husband walked in the door at around 6 o clock.
So just before 5 I placed four sausages under the grill. The tray was a bit mucky so I placed a piece of tin foil over the rack so as to not add to the muck already there.
I remained in the kitchen the whole time, watching the sausages as the boys chased after each other in the lounge. As it came time to turn the sausages I pulled out the tray, turned them carefully and placed them back under the grill.
And then....they exploded, and spat and shot oily fat all over the top of the grill.
I'd obviously seen sausages and other oily fatty foods doing this before so I didn't panic at first as I saw spark like flames shooting from the top of the grill.
I kept watching and noticed that the top of the grill had now just become one giant flame. And as the sausages still spat the flames were getting bigger and were spreading out from the grill and reaching up towards the cupboard above the grill. The tin foil was curling up at the corners and melting away.
The fat that had leaked from the sausages onto the grill was now also alight.
My heart started racing and I went a big light headed.
What the heck should I do?!

I tried calling my husband but he had just left the radio station and was on his way home. I tried to call my mum but she didn't answer.
I dialled 999.
I pressed the call button and then instantly hit the red button to end the call.
Was I over-reacting?
Did I really need a fire engine pulling up outside my house just for sausages?

I kept watching the flames.
I kept watching as the flames poured up towards the cupboard, unsure as to whether or not the contents of the cupboard were now also starting to burn, or were at any moment about to shoot into flames too.
I looked at the pin board which is attached to the side of the oven/cupboard. I noticed all the letters and receipts and vouchers at home on the notice board. Each one now looking like it would be the next victim to a fire.

I knew I had to call 999.
I knew I couldn't wait until my husband got home.
I knew I had to risk over-reacting just in case.
I dialled 999, pressed call and this time the call connected.
We were told to go outside and that the fire brigade were on their way.
Calmly I grabbed the boys and took them outside. I was proud that they knew nothing of what was going on.
Charles was confused but I calmly told him that he would get to see a fire engine soon because our grill was being silly and was on fire.
We initially stood out the front but then I decided to move us into the garden, I could see the grill from there too. As we went into the garden I looked through the kitchen window and I saw the fire get smaller and go out.
It flickered with a big flame once more and then stopped.
Just as it stopped the fire engine pulled up.
I burst into tears. A fireman came and stood with me and the boys and another went in and inspected the grill and the cupboard above.
Thankfully the flames hadn't caused any damage to the contents of the cupboard.

My house was full of smoke so they went round and opened the doors and windows and instructed me to do the same upstairs. Charles reluctantly stayed downstairs and one of the fireman played with him.
As I came downstairs I was informed of something important. Something I hadn't completely noticed.
Our lack of fire alarm going off.
We had one upstairs which was taken down due to a broken bracket.
The one downstairs, we assumed worked.
Unfortunately, again due to a broken bracket, it had been sellotaped up but the sellotape was covering the area which detects smoke.

It was an awful moment and I felt terribly embarrassed.
The firemen couldn't have been any nicer. They calmed me down and then put in two new fire alarms for us. Even unscrewing a base unit in our lounge to then put up another one.

We are also considering a home fire safety check as well as the training on what to do in particular situations.
The fire alarms they have put it are guaranteed for 10 years. After 10 years you simply pull them down, bin them and then buy some more.
Simple.

Charles turned down the opportunity to go in the fire engine and to try on one of the helmets. He did choose to lift my dress up in front of the firemen though.

I was really glad that I phoned them in the end. They reassured me that it's always best to ring, than to leave it before it was too late.
Every week we will be performing the check on the fire alarm to make sure it's working.
And in the future, I will never hesitate when it comes to calling 999.

22.10.12

Garden Games: Giant Dominoes {Review}

At the beginning of October we were kindly sent a box of Giant Dominoes from GardenGames.co.uk.
I did expect them to be slightly larger than they are but they are the perfect size for small hands.
They come in a lovely wooden box which has a rope handle, so they are easy to transport from garden to house and house to garden. There is a sliding lid which unfortunately snapped in half but it was easy to get on and off before it snapped.

Of course the weather has been rather rubbish since we recieved the Dominoes so we've only been able to use them inside. This is an advantage of the Dominoes, they are suitable for inside and outside use.
The Giant Dominoes are made from pine and are really great solid quality.
As you can see from the photos below the spots on the Dominoes do scratch but this is easily rectified by using nail varnish or similar.

Charles very quickly worked out how to play, although we didn't compete, but it was a great way to encourage him to count the spots and to search for another domino with the same number of spots and the same colours. So from that point of view the Giant Dominoes are fantastic.

He was really excited when daddy came along and showed him how to line them all up and then knock them all down. And then with the discovery of building a tower these soon became the favourite toy!

The Giant Dominoes cost £31.99 and are available to buy via the Garden Games website.
 
We were sent the Giant Dominoes for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.

A Day at the Farm

Back in July we visited one of my favourite places in this area. Wroxham Barns. I have happy memories of going there with my mum, dad and brother when I was younger.
My mum used to hire out a craft space and sell her lovely glass painting and ceramic plates and my brother and I would spend almost all day in the Junior Farm. The staff got to know us and we would be allowed to help out where we could.

We took Charles a couple of time in the past but this was the first time Harry went. Annoyingly my SD card only had 14 photos available so I was limited in the photos I could take.

We all got to bottle feed a lamb which was fantastic as always. I was teamed up with Harry and Charles was teamed up with my husband. Both boys did a fantastic job at keeping the bottle still and making it easy for the orphan lamb to have his/her milk.
The boys also enjoyed feeding the goats, cows, donkeys and sheep. I was the only one who chickened out and couldn't quite bring myself to have my hand slobbered on.

We had a lovely day although with prices going up and changes to the layout we didn't enjoy it as much as hoped.