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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Review: LOL Sparkling Fruit Juice Drink

A few weeks back I was sent three new chidren's drinks to try out and I am happy to report that they have been a big hit in our house.

LOL is available in three flavours - Razz Bri, B Current and O Ranj. I expect you can probably guess what they actually taste of!  My husband and I were not too keen on the names thinking they looked a bit too 'street' but my 8 year old son JJ tells me they are cool, so as you would expect Heinz know what they are doing when they are pitching at the older children's market.

For years I have been lucky and JJ has had no interest in fizzy drinks but now all of a sudden he likes fizzy orange and it is therefore a great thing that the LOL O Ranj has come on the market. As this drink, which is a mix of real fruit juice (both apple and orange from concentrate) and carbonated water is a massive hit with him in the taste department and with me also as it contains no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colorings and no preservatives or caffeine.  Perfect!

Dh is in love with the Razz Bri flavour and he said that although this is marketed at kids he would happily buy that flavour as it was really tasty and appealed to him as an adult who likes to avoid caffeine and sweetners in drinks.

Ocado is the first to be selling the LOL drinks and they are on special at 79p each at the moment, the normal retail price will be 99p and whilst this is a bit more expensive than an average fizzy drink can, I think I would rather pay the difference for it to be a good treat. One that is actually providing one of my childs 5 portions of fruit a day.  More supermarktes will be stocking the product from July including a national supermarket chain so it should become easier to buy with time.

The cans are 250ml and slim in design so they look like a premium product and sit aside from all the normal fizzy drinks.

Our family would happily recommend these.

Disclaimer:  I received the drinks for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

A few weeks ago I received the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly close to review, courtesy of Warner Brothers.  I read the blurb on the back and was pretty excited, this looks like a really good film.  Here's what it said -
Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock-–encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way--he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.
Oh interesting, I thought.  I must make sure I sit and watch that without being distracted, so it stayed on the shelf for a week or two and my anticipation grew and then finally dh and I had a night in and we watched the movie and sadly for me it was a big let down.  I am not sure if I built it up to much in my head or if I am not intelligent enough for the film but it bored me.  After about an hour I was ready to turn the film off but dh said we should persist and yes it did get better and I even enjoyed the ending.  There were a couple of parts in the movie that had my heart in my throat and a tear in my eye but in general I just sat there with a feeling of 'why?'.

I can't dispute that the acting is superb, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock play the parents and do so really well but the star of the movie is the little boy Thomas Horn who plays the central character, 11 year old Oskar who has Aspergers Syndrome and sees the world in a completely different way to you or I might.

Oskar takes a very unusual journey around the 5 boroughs of New York and meets some very eclectic people on his way, including his long lost German Grandad who is a recluse and refuses to speak, this makes for some interesting interactions. But in my opinion the film just sort of goes on and on without any real sparks of interest in it.

My dh commented that the film was 'OK' but it took him  a very long time to get into it. 'Slow' was the first word that came to his mind but then he commented that the film had a sense of reality and took him back to 2001, even though much of what was going on was in the mind of one young man.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement, which is a real shame. Take a look at the trailer, it looks fab doesn't it? Maybe I need to take a second viewing.... 

This is definitely a marmite film, I have looked at loads of reviews across the web and it seems that people either love this or hate it, so I would recommend watching it and making your own mind up, we are all different after all.

Run Time:  129 minutes
Rating: 12
Main Actors: Thomas Horn, Max Von Sydow, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright & Zoe Caldwell
Director: Stephen Daldry
Screenplay Writer: Eric Roth

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the film free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Review: Love My Street Sweetheart Cottage and Cupcake Corner Play Tents

My twin girls were lucky enough to be sent two beautiful play tents from Worlds Apart and you should have heard the squeals of delight when they unpacked the large brown box. Luckily from the start they agreed that sweetheart Cottage would be Miss M's and Cupcake corner would be Miss E's, but to be honest they play together with them anyway so it really does not matter.

There are 4 beautiful tents in the Love My Street range

When I said yes to reviewing these tents my plans was for the girls to play with them outside and we could make a kitchen and seating area but there has been nothing but rain since we have had them so there has been a couple of sessions in the front room and most of the play has been in one or the other of the girls bedrooms.

The tents were very easy to assemble with plastic poles which fit together easily.  The quality printed tent cover then slides over the frame and it was a tight fit but they need to be, to ensure they sit well.  Once made up the tents look superb and are really stunning, the detailing is great and so girlie.  Our tents have now been up for over 3 weeks and they are standing the test of two near 5 year olds giving them a bashing each day. They both look brand new still.  Occasionally one of the poles will pop undone when the girls are too rough but they know how to put them together again, it is that simple.

I think that the tents would be perfect for children just slightly younger (or maybe just shorter) than mine.  Miss M is tall for her age at 117cm and struggles to stand in the cottage but it is not an issue as they play with her sitting down. The recommended age is 3 years upwards but to be honest I would have allowed my girls to use these tents from about 18 months.

The cupcake corner play tent comes with a mock cash register, bunting and some foam doughnuts and coins, it retails for £29.99 and this is by far my girls favourite.  Every little girl loves to play shop, right? The beauty of these tents is that they encourage imaginative play and that is so important for your little ones development.

Sweetheart cottage is much bigger, retailing for £39.99 and it comes with a cooker, bunting,  apron and foam baking tray, cookies and spatula. It has two roll up doors and a mesh window, which is favourite for playing peek-a-boo!

The play tents do look stunning when played with together and then you can use the velcro to attach the bunting between the different tents. I love the fact that each set is sold with a box like play toy (cash register, cooker etc) and that when the tents are taken down, everything can be packed into the box to be stored compactly and safely.  Or if your child is anything like mine then the boxes get used for anything and everything!

Ohh and a quick heads up, you are worth following Worlds apart on twitter and facebook as they are always having fabulous giveaways that you can enter to win some of their super children's products.

Disclaimer:  We were sent these 2 tents for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Monday 4 June 2012

Review: Family DVD - Journey 2 The Mysterious Island

Oh what a rainy long bank holiday weekend it has been, such a shame - we had high hopes to spend lots of time outside and to enjoy the sunshine. Oh well, the beauty of it being miserable outdoors is that it is then super to snuggle up on the sofa with all the family and watch a good movie together.

This evenings choice was from Warner Brothers - Journey 2, The Mysterious Island and I have to say we had 90 minutes of good family viewing. Milkshakes and popcorn completed the evening. From the start JJ (8 years) was taken in, he was right there with the main characters trying to uncode the message, sshhing his sisters as they chatted to me about what was going on.  I did wonder at first if it would be a bit old for my near 5 year old twins but once Sean and Hank were on their journey the girls were interested and it was so funny when they reached the Island, Miss M was shouting at the screen for them to not enter the cave. There were many moments in the film that had the girls involved and ready to jump, but in a great way. Take a look at the lizard clip -

It is fab to be able to watch a movie that had an adult enough story line that I can enjoy it, you do get a bit bored of animation after a while!  I think it helped that recently the girls have got into High School Musical and as soon as they looked at the DVD box they spotted Vanessa Hudgens. In fact the film is pretty packed with stars, such as Michael Cain, Kristin Davies, Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson and they make for a great movie with loads of adventure.

I would definitely recommend this as a good family watch, JJ commented that it was 'awesome' and the girls choice of words were 'cool' and 'great'.  Praise indeed!

We did not watch the film in 3D but I have heard from friends that it is excellent in 3D and I can well believe it.  The film is visually stunning and it is really interesting to see elephants the size of small cats and birds the size of small aeroplanes!

The film was released on 28th May and is available to buy on Amazon now for £10 for the DVD, £14.99 for the 3D blu ray triple pack.  I was also impressed that along with my DVD I get a download code so I can put the digital version on my laptop (or ipad etc if I was lucky enough to have one of those!).

Disclaimer: I received this DVD free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Review: Moxie Girlz Glitterin' Style

For weeks Miss M has been informing me that she wants a Moxie Girlz Glitterin' Style doll and like I do with most things, I have said 'yes, yes ask me at your birthday, we'll see'. So imagine the cute little whoop of delight that she let out when Miss Moxie arrived over a month before her birthday.

The 10" Moxie doll is sturdy with movable limbs, beautiful soft, long hair that you can style and a trendy outfit and that's all fab but what Miss M had been mesmerised by are the stickers and the glitter. You receive a sheet of double sided stickers that you can peel one side off and coat with brightly coloured glitter and then use the stickers to decorate the Moxie dolls hair, outfit, accessory or anywhere else you fancy.  You can imagine that my near 5 year old got quite excited and Miss Moxie was covered head to toe.

I did need to supervise Miss M playing with this toy due to her age and some of the stickers were a bit tricky to get off the backing paper, but a slightly older child would have no problem I am sure. It probably only took Miss M about an hour in total to rip the doll out of its box and to decorate all the (25 odd) stickers and to paste them about, so at first I wondered if this toy was a bit expensive at around £14.99 but then after a short break she then came back and grabbed her Moxie Girl and headed off to play with her and since then it has been played with regularly.  So unlike many craft toys that are played with once and then discarded, this toy has lasted play value and that is a winner with me.

Also I expect an older child may decorate their doll with 4 or 5 stickers and then change them another day, so it would last for a few crafty play occasions.  I was very pleased to see that the glitter comes in little applicators and you just simply snip the end off and the mess stays contained - result!  This does mean though that if you wanted to store the glitter for another day you would have to either keep the tubes upright or perhaps pop a bit of sellotape on the end.

There are various dolls available, all with different hair colour, skin tone and outfit.  I assume it was a fluke but Miss M was super impressed to receive Avery who has white blond hair, just like Miss M herself. 'We are twins mummy!'.

I can safely say that this toy has been a hit with Miss M, I have a jealous Miss E who wants one as well and it also passes the mummy test as it encourages creativity without being messy and also the clothes on the doll are not too revealing like they are on many modern girls dolls.

I am having a bit of trouble with my camera, I think it might have gone to camera heaven, so to show you what the doll is all about have a watch of this brief youtube video.

Disclaimer:  We received this doll free of charge for the purposes of this review, I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 1 June 2012

Review and Giveaway: Where's my Cupcake?

Congratulations to @xxfluffywhitexx, you are the lucky winner.  Please email or DM me your name and address for me to pass on.  Well done, Mich x

I have realised that I am a bit of a nerd. But not the cool kind of techie nerd, but a Mum who really likes kids toys and specifically Orchard Toys.  I find myself telling the kids off repeatedly for not respecting the box or reminding them that the cupcakes are not real and stop nibbling the corners.  I may just have to take the Orchard toys games into my room to keep, you know for safe keeping.

Where's my Cupcake is a brand new game that has just been added to Orchard Toys extensive range of educational games.  In young children it encourages observation, matching and counting skills and with older children it is a wonderful reminder to use manners and to encourage sharing and mutual appreciation.  All good things, I am sure you will agree.

The game is visually beautiful and as always the actual pieces are well constructed and durable.  I love that Orchard Toys products last so well.  My girls still use the pieces from the Two by Two game that  bought for JJ over 7 years ago. Orchard Toys are certainly made to last.

The premise of this game is simple, you lay out a number of cupcakes and then taking turns the children remove a cupcake from the face down pile and they see if it matches with any of the face up ones in the middle, if it does they receive those cupcakes.  The winner is the one with the most cupcakes on their plate at the end.  What is good is that if the child cannot match their cupcake they need to offer it to another player who has a matching cupcake on their plate but they must use their best manners to do this, such good practise.

It is aimed at children 3 - 9 years but I have to be honest and say I think it is best suited to the younger age range.  My 8 year old deemed it babyish and my 5 year old twins most loved using the cupcakes as part of their home cooking game! There is nothing like being versatile.

This game retails for £7.50 and I think that is a fair price.

I would happily buy this game for friends with children turning ages 3 and 4, it will be perfect fun with the family.

How do you fancy winning Where's my Cupcake?
To enter-
  • Mandatory - Leave a comment and let me know how to contact you if you are the lucky winner.
  • Optional - Tweet 'I'm in to #win a great new @OrchardToys game with @MichelleTwinMum   #giveaway' and leave me a comment to say you have done so.
  • Optional - Check out the Orchard Toys Facebook page and click like to follow all their super news and leave me a comment to say you have done so.
Terms and Conditions

  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • Open to UK and Ireland residents only
  • Giveaway closes at 12 noon on Thursday 14th June 2012
  • The winner will be contacted within 5 working days of the competition closing
  • The winner needs to contact me within a week of my announcing the winner or I will draw again
  • The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative
  • The game will be sent direct from Orchard Toys.

Disclaimer:  We received this game free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.