christmas gifts

Christmas Gift Guide for Women

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My last Christmas gift guide this year is full of ideas of gifts for women. One of my favourite things to look for when it comes to women's gifts, is items that force a woman to spend a bit of time doing something she enjoys for herself. I know myself that I tend to think about everyone elses needs before my own and definitely don't look after myself as much as I should. With that in mind here are some nice gift ideas for the women in your life. I hope you find some inspiration right here.


7th Heaven are a company that produce a huge range of beauty masks. They have masks for face, feet and hair to make you feel pampered and cared for on a low budget. I love the hair masks. I am someone who has always dyed their own hair at home and that comes with a price. My hair isn't in the healthiest condition. I have recently stopped bleaching and have gone for a darker colour and have tried a few of the hair masks to try and treat my poor hair and it is feeling much stronger and smoother. I am working my way through the face masks too and I am really enjoying spending a little me time popping on a face mask and watching a film whenever the kids are away. They have put together a lovely hamper of products with 10 different masks, two bath bombs and a sponge in a lovely wicker basket. This is available to buy at Morrison's and Ocado and is under £10. You can also buy the masks separately to create your own personalised hampers for your loved ones.



Guylian are one of my all-time favourite chocolate brands. Their chocolates both look and taste delicious and they feel like a luxury when you eat them. If you know a chocolate lover then I would definitely recommend gifting them some of these amazing Belgian Chocolates. Guylian is available to buy at most supermarkets.


This super cool Star Wars iridescent Stormtrooper Vacuum Flask from Paladone would make a fab gift especially in this horrific cold weather we are having. I was so sad mine didn't arrive in time for my trip to Iceland this month as I had visions of myself being very pleased with myself out in the snow on one of our many day trips, whipping out my nice hot flask of tea. I know I will use it a lot this Winter with the kids still wanting to leave the house sometimes. It has a 500ml capacity and a screw on lid. I love it, it is pretty , it is Star Wars and it would make a great gift.


I love the look of this game as will every Disney fan. It includes 4 kazoos and a stack of cards containing names of Disney songs. One team member plays a tune using the kazoo, whilst the other team members guess the name of the song. Each card has an 'easy' song and a 'difficult' song. Not only will this be out for us all to play over christmas but I am taking it along on a girly weekend away soon which I think will be hilarious. The game would make a great, fun gift for any Disney fans this Christmas and is available to buy at Paladone.


I have done so many cool things this year including attending festivals and gigs, holidays and weekend breaks and who doesn't love to take photos to remember those moments and look back on. Trying to fit a group of people in a selfie however is not an easy task! The Selfie Clip is a wide angle phone lens which helps you to fit a larger group of people in a selfie or for panoramic shots so people can see what is going on behind you. The kit contains the selfie clip, lens cap and storage bag so you can safely carry it anywhere. It would make a really cool gift or stocking filler and is available to buy from Paladone.


Permanent markers come in handy for so many things like labelling, colouring or crafting. If you are buying a gift for a creative type. These BIC permanent markers come in a pack of 36 different colours with a storage case to keep them together. Last year we even used markers to make our own Christmas decorations and to decorate parcels etc. There are so many possibilities and BIC are a very good quality brand so you know they are going to last. They are available to buy at most good stationery retailers and over on Amazon.

I hope this has helped some of you. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

christmas gifts

Christmas Gift Guide For Men

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I find all of the men in my life pretty difficult to buy for. They all seem to buy what they want, when they want leaving no clues as to what they might want and don't particularly need anything. It is so frustrating at times but I have been working with a few companies lately who have really helped with some gift ideas for me to share.


This was probably one of the best for me as most of the men in both of our families quite like football and TOFFS sells a range of retro football shirts for every team you could imagine. It isn't exclusive to the big premiership teams like most football memorabilia is and so I was torn as to which football team shirt to choose and who would appreciate the shirt the most. This is a Nottingham Forest 1950's retro football shirt. I can't believe I never realised that this was a thing and I am going to one by one, purchase one of these for all of the men in my family!


There are so many awesome Star Wars gifts around these days and with the brand new film being released so soon, I couldn't think of a better time to buy them all! I love Star Wars as I grew up watching the original films with my Dad then watched the three prequel movies in the cinema when they were released and I was so happy to take my own kids to watch the Force Awakens when that was released in cinemas. It is safe to say, we are a Star Wars loving family and so Star Wars gifts are always gratefully received. This Chewbacca collectible soft toy from Posh Paws International is amazing! You can find a range of Star Wars plush toys at Toys R Us or Very amongst other toy retailers.


Sheaffer are a luxury pen brand and they have released some special edition Star Wars pens. Available both as roller ball pens or fountain pens, they come in a few different designs representing some much loved Star Wars characters including Yoda, R2-D2 and Darth Vader. They would make great stocking fillers for the men in your lives. The full range can be found on Amazon and most stationery stores.
Othello takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master! It's the internationally acclaimed two player strategy game. Trap and capture your opponent by placing your disks on the board. ''Sandwich'' at least one of your opponent's pieces to turn their disk to your colour... but look out, your opponent will do the same to you. The lead can change with the flip of a disk in this classic fast-paced strategy game. A great christmas gift idea for board game lovers. Available at Argos and other toy retailers.

christmas 2017

Christmas Gift Guide for Children

Monday, November 27, 2017

This year, more than ever, I am struggling when it comes to gifts for the children. Having three of them means we have a lot of 'stuff' already. So my aim this year is to buy either practical gifts or small items that will bring plenty of entertainment rather than big bulky playsets. Here I am hoping these gift ideas will help those of you who are also struggling. Many of these items have been sent for review or have been received as gifts at conferences throughout this year.


When it comes to useful gifts, fun bedroom furniture is always a great gift. This bean bag from Room to Grow has been amazing. All of the kids love it and it is so handy. It can be used in their room for reading or playing or we often have it in the living room for the kids to sit on when we have visitors etc. It is lovely and comfortable and we do occasionally have arguments over who gets to sit on it, but it has been so useful and looks really nice with the red/white/blue colour scheme in the boys' room.


I came across this Liquid Lava Putty from Addo back at Blog On in September. They let me take a few different ones to try out with the kids. It is not something I had ever considered before but the kids are a bit older and more sensible now and it is a very good quality putty rather than drippy slime that gets stuck in carpets and on furniture. They have a few different types as you can see from the picture, some glow in the dark, one changes colour and there are metallic effect ones. This is just a small selection of the range. I have seen them in Entertainer stores and online already. I think they would make a great gift and will entertain most children. 


I remember playing Top Trumps with my younger brother back when we were kids and we would have hours of fun. There are so many different editions of the game now to suit the tastes of everyone. Whatever your child has an interest in you are sure to find a Top Trump pack for them to enjoy. I received this DC Superhero Girls pack of Top Trump cards in my Blog On goody bag and was so pleased that I was lucky enough to get this one. Gracie is a huge DC Superhero Girls fan and I think she will love the game. I will be popping it in her Christmas stocking and will challenge her to a game Christmas Day. Top Trumps can be found at Amazon and in most toy retailers.


There are so many games you can play with a pack of playing cards and what better way to enjoy them than with a special pack of playing cards. I love these Harry Potter themed playing cards from Find Me A Gift. Each suit is based on each Hogwarts house, Griffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. They are a great quality set of cards and come in a tin (which makes me so happy as I get so fed up of ripped card boxes!). To be honest this would make a great gift for both kids and adults alike especially if they are big Harry Potter fans.


In a house full of superhero fans I thought this Design your own superhero comic book would go down a treat. From Find Me A Gift, this kit contains everything you need to create your own superhero and storyline. With easy to follow steps and stencils to help with ideas, the kids will love to create their own superhero stories.


The boys love playing with cars at the moment, especially remote controlled ones. This wall climbing remote control car uses vacuum suction to stick to walls or ceilings ready to drive around the room. I love that it is something a bit different for car loving kids. They will love showing their friends the cool trick their new remote control car can do! It is available to buy at Find Me A Gift.


We love the Bic stationery range and have so many bits already, not that you can ever have too much! They have just released a new Star Wars range and with the new film arriving early in December, I thought it would make a great gift for young Star Wars fans. It is both fun and practical. I can think of no better way to finish off your homework than with some cool stationery and there is everything you could possibly need in this range. The magic pens are brilliant too! You colour in using the felt tips and can erase patterns into the colour using the 'magic pens' the kids think they are awesome! The range is available to buy at most stationery retailers and online at Amazon.



I love this Large talking DC Superfriends Harley Quinn plush. Harley Quinn is one of my favourite DC characters and so the girls love her too. She is such a cool and quirky character and the plush toy is quite big at 29cm tall. She has a few different phrases and laughing/shrieking sounds bound to entertain young fans. The plush has one of Harley Quinn's most iconic outfits which will be recognisable for most fans. It would make a great gift for any young superhero/supervillain fans. Also available in the collection is The Joker, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. These plush toys are available on Amazon or in most toy retailers.


I loved baby-wearing with my younger two and Elsie loves playing with babies. A doll baby carrier is a nice and small gift that doesn't take up lots of room but optimises how they can play with the toys they already have! I absolutely love this Ergobaby doll carrier. It is exactly like normal sized versions so they can carry them just like you would a normal baby and doesn't it look so cute! All of the kids have tried it out for size and it is easily tightened/loosened to fit your child perfectly and can be used for front or back carries. It would make a lovely gift for any child that loves playing with baby dolls or could even be used with their favourite teddies! Elsie is wearing the Ergobaby 'Keith Haring-Black' Doll Carrier and it also comes in different designs and colours. You can find this baby carrier along with different designs on Amazon.

Cinderella At The Belgrade Theatre Coventry

Sunday, November 26, 2017


I love a good pantomime and have taken Gracie a few times. We were invited to the press evening at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry to watch this years pantomime performance of Cinderella. This time I took Gracie, Zach and Elsie to see what they all thought about it. 

If you somehow don't know the story of Cinderella, It is the story of a girl who lives with her cruel stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. She is treated as a serving girl by them. When the Prince is forced to marry, a ball is thrown inviting all the fair maidens in the land in the hopes the Prince will find someone to marry. With the help of her Fairy Godmother Cinderella manages to attend the ball in a beautiful gown and glass slippers but must leave by midnight. She meets the prince and they dance but at midnight she must flee and leaves behind a glass slipper. The prince must then track down the woman whose foot fits the glass slipper in order to marry her. Of course it doesn't run smoothly and is a great choice of story for a fun packed pantomime!

Everything about the production was brilliant. The set was breathtaking, the carriage that took Cinderella to the ball was beautiful and you could see the amazement on all the children's faces watching cinderella in the huge moving carriage. It was really magical. There was plenty of humour for both children and adults alike. You could definitely attend without children and still have a great evening! One of the great things about cinderella is you get two pantomime dames rather than one. Iain Lauchlan, who also wrote and directed the show, and Greg Powrie were great as Dyspepsia and Listeria, the awful stepsisters. The kids loved Buttons, played by Craig Hollingsworth and I have to say I can't fault a single member of the cast. 


The kids loved the show and have not stopped talking about it. They thoroughly enjoyed the show and all of the characters and it was lovely seeing them enjoy themselves. I love the atmosphere at the Belgrade Theatre and we will definitely be back in 2018 to watch Sleeping Beauty. 

Cinderella is running at The Belgrade Theatre Coventry Wednesday 22 November 2017- Saturday 13 January 2018. 

Christmas toys

Review: Real Working Buddies Mr Dusty

Friday, November 24, 2017


With Christmas coming up it is the perfect time to talk about toys. The last few weeks we have been testing out the Real Working Buddies Mr Dusty by Jakks Pacific. His slogan is 'Eat it up, Sweet it up & Dump it out' and that is exactly what he does! Mr Dusty is suitable for use on hardwood floors and carpets which is great as it can be so disappointing having an exciting new toy that can only be used in certain rooms.

holidays

Top Tips For Visiting Iceland #Ad

Friday, November 24, 2017


Iceland has always been a destination on my bucket list and last weekend I finally managed to visit for a long weekend. There are so many things to do and see whilst over there and it can be difficult to pack it all in on a short break. It is essential to plan most of your time ahead of your trip and I will share some tips here for those of you planning a visit.


  • Take plenty of clothes. I would definitely recommend wearing layers. It can be quite cold especially in winter but it can get quite sunny and if you are walking a lot you can get quite warm if you are in less windy areas such as Reykjavic city centre. You will be thankful to be able to add or remove layers as needed.
  • Take a good pair of warm shoes. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and waterproof. Many people recommend walking shoes but I wore an old trusty pair of black boots and they were perfect for me, teamed with a thick pair of socks each day.
  • Book your excursions before you go. We booked our excursions at the same time as our trip so when we arrived we only had to pay for food and drinks and all of our transport to and from excursions was arranged before we arrived. It also meant we had a daily plan to fit in all the places we wanted to visit. Apparently the Blue Lagoon can become fully booked so it is advised to book that as far in advance as you can.
  • If you are aiming to see the Northern Lights I would advise booking that for early on in your holiday. Most companies have a policy that if you fail to see the lights on your trip they will take you back out the following day to try again until you see them (or go home). As it is a late night trip it can easily be arranged for another evening if you miss out the first time.
  • Food is expensive wherever you go in Iceland so be prepared to spend a fair amount each day on food. Perhaps take some snacks in your case to reduce spending as much whilst there. Most of our spending money went on food and we spent between £25-£70 on a meal for two depending where we chose to eat. We tried to limit eating out to one meal a day when we could but when we were travelling around a lot on trips we got quite hungry and couldn't help ourselves!

  • Visit a Geothermal bath. We visited two different types. One at Fontana Wellness Spa and we also visited the Blue Lagoon. They were both very different but both lovely. If I had to choose though the Blue Lagoon was definitely my favourite (No walking around in the cold in a swimsuit was a bonus!)
  • If you are visiting Geothermal baths, treat your hair with plenty of conditioner. This includes men too (hair and beards). The silica tends to dry your hair out and it is recommended to pop plenty of conditioner in to be left in while you bathe in the water. My hair was like straw by the time I got home though it was nothing a deep conditioning mask couldn't help.
  • If you can, visit in Winter. The whole time we were there, there was snow covering every surface. It definitely made everything look even more beautiful as it glittered and glistened in the sun. November, December and January are the recommended months to visit for snow.

You can book or plan your own Iceland break, click here to see what offers are available at Holiday Gems.

*This was posted in collaboration with Holiday Gems. 

Batman

Review: Imaginext BatBot Xtreme

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I will often say that one of the best buys I have ever made for Zach is his Imaginext Batman collection of toys. He started collecting them when he was just two and now has a fair few playsets and whereas he gets bored of a lot of his other toys, whenever I go in his bedroom he has his Imaginext toys out to play with. They are so versatile and they all do cool things like shoot and make noises and have hidden entries and all you would expect from a superhero hideout. You can also collect all of the figures from the DC Universe and so they can use them to make their own stories with their heroes, vigilantes, villains etc.

review

Review: Star Wars Timeline

Monday, November 13, 2017


Last month, as part of the blogger board game club, we reviewed Timeline: British History. We really enjoyed that game and were pleased to find we had another version of Timeline to review this month. This months game is Timeline Star Wars Edition. The game contains 110 cards depicting different events in the original Star Wars trilogy. Your aim is to put the cards in order of which events happened first so you have to try and decide which event happens when, just like in other Timeline games. Of course what makes it difficult is that each card has the same picture both front and back, with just one side numbered. You can't look at the number until you have placed the card where you think it fits on the timeline. Will you get them all right?

Review: Feisty Pets

Thursday, November 09, 2017



Earlier this year, I came across Feisty Pets at Blog On and knew that I had to have one! Feisty Pets are definitely one of the funniest toys I have come across in a long time. At first glance they look like your average cute cuddly animals, all fluffy with big bright eyes, then with a small squeeze at the back of it's head, it looks like a demonic animal. 

I was so excited to show the kids as they have managed to avoid all advertisements for them somehow and I knew it would make them jump the first time they saw them. My Dad came over last weekend and I knew he would find it just as fun as me so he became my photographer to snap some photos of the kids seeing them for the first time. The pictures really make me smile. Zach and Gracie jumped at first then immediately found themselves in a fit of giggles over them. Elsie on the other hand was not impressed by them at all she found them genuinely scary! It has taken her over a week to pluck up the courage to go near them again.



I have to say, every adult that has visited since we received them have thought they are really funny and declared there is someone they need to buy one for as a gift. It is definitely a fun novelty gift for both children and adults. There are a range of different animal characters to choose from. We received Princess Pottymouth, the ginger cat and Karl the Snarl, a polar bear.

Feisty Pets can be found online at Amazon and at Smyths Toy Superstores. 

Children and Healthy Eating #Ad

Monday, November 06, 2017


As parents we put so much pressure on ourselves to do things 'right', though sometimes there are situations where we feel out of our depth. I think all parents at some point worry about their child's eating habits and whether or not they are receiving the correct amount of vitamins and minerals. There are things you can do to help though. 

If the problem is that your child is a fussy eater, there are a few options you can try to ease your mind. One that I often use is hiding things like vegetables by finely chopping them and adding them to a meal that your child does like. My kids love Hotpot, this is simply minced beef, potatoes, carrots and peas in gravy. Sometimes I will pop in a few extra ingredients and not mention it to them as I find the more you try to force a child to eat something, the more they rebel. Green beans are a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, iron and potassium. My kids hate green beans but if chopped small enough in a meal like their favourite Hotpot, they mistake them for peas and don't bat an eyelid!

Of course it depends what your child avoids on what vitamins and minerals they will be lacking. If you are vegetarian/vegan or your child simply dislikes meat products, they may not be getting enough Vitamin B12 or perhaps even iron unless they eat lots of leafy green vegetables. A trick I was once told by my midwife was to drink orange juice whilst eating any iron rich foods to help absorption and so I often offer a small glass of orange juice when the kids are eating red meats. If your child doesn't eat dairy they may lack calcium which is needed for strong bones. There are so many different vitamins that support your child in different ways. Omega-3 DHA is proven to support normal brain function and vision. Vitamin D is essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children, plus maintains normal teeth. As you can see it is obviously important to maintain healthy levels of these vitamins. 

As you can see it is quite complex and you need to look into which vitamins you think your children are not getting enough of. My kids eat lots of fruit and vegetables so I don't tend to worry about vitamin C and they eat a fair amount of meat. Gracie isn't a very big fan of meat and so we have to create nice meaty meals with sauces to encourage her to eat it like bolognese, meatballs, pasta dishes etc. as if we were to make a roast dinner she would eat everything but leave the meat to the side. You definitely start to learn your child's funny habits once you take notice and can find ways to encourage them eating what they usually wouldn't.

As well as encouraging healthy eating to the best of my ability, I do also give my children multivitamins. I like to feel safe in the knowledge that they are not lacking anything and that they won't have any horrible side effects from not getting enough of a certain vitamin. My main worry with my children is calcium so I make sure that the vitamins they take contain a calcium supplement to help with healthy bone growth. Haliborange is the UK's number one children's supplement brand*. They are so proud of their softies range that they are sure your children will love the taste, and if they don't, they'll give you your money back (T&Cs apply-see website).  The range features a whole of host of different combinations of essential vitamins and minerals to help support children’s health and wellbeing at every stage – from age one month to their teenage years.

*This post is in association with Haliborange. 
Vitamin A: helps support normal vision, Vitamin C: helps support the immune system, Vitamin D: essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children, Vitamin B12: contributes to normal energy release.

Vitamin supplements are not a replacement for a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle

competitions

Review & Giveaway: The Children's Meditations 'In My Heart'

Thursday, November 02, 2017


I have spoken many times about how I use meditation to try and ease my anxiety when it is at it's worst. What I hadn't thought about was trying to use a similar method with Gracie as she is so like me in so many ways, including her habit of overthinking and worrying about everything. I recently received an email about a book called 'The Children's Meditations In My Heart' by Gitte Winter Graugaard. 

The book contains four short stories for sharing together. All children, no matter what age, delight in hearing about their parents love for them. The children's meditations in my heart is a collection of meditations focus on the love you already share in your family. They give you a language full of symbols of love, and strengthen your child's sense of belonging, self-love, gratefulness and empathy.


What I love about the book is that it is very supportive. It begins with a detailed guide explaining how to get the best experience from using the book and how exactly it helps your child. I have been using it with Gracie recently and so far I have really enjoyed the time, just the two of us, with her lying down listening carefully whilst I read to her. She already seems chirpier and more content in herself and I am hoping if we keep it up it will have some great long term affects on her anxiety. Gracie herself has told me that she really likes the book too and looks forward to the reading time as much as I do. It is recommended you find somewhere quiet to take part. We like to wait until the younger two are in bed and she will lay on the sofa and close her eyes while she listens.

I feel like it is such a special, personal book and I hope that it becomes something she will treasure and remember. It would make a lovely gift for any parent or child. 

I am pleased to say Gitte Winter Graugaard has been kind enough to offer two signed copies of the book for me to giveaway to you lucky readers. For your chance to win please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK only. The competition will end 23/11/2017 at 12am. All entrants must complete the mandatory entry on the rafflecopter form. Those who don't will have all entries removed. All winning entries will be verified to ensure the entry has been completed correctly. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. two winners will each receive one signed copy of The Children's Meditations In My Heart book. No alternative prize will be offered.  Allow up to 28 days for delivery.


Now available in the UK “The Children’s Meditations In my Heart” is available from www.amazon.co.uk priced £14.95 for a hard copy, £4.97 for a kindle copy, and £5.09 for a pdf download from www.roomforreflection.com.

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