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Wednesday 31 October 2012

Review & Giveaway: Pop Party 10 CD

As a child I avidly looked forward to Christmas each year as most children do. One of the presents I hoped I would receive each year and always did was the 'Now that's what I call music' compilation album. I think this series might even still be going now, they are probably on the 120th edition or something! Back in the day this really was the compilation album to receive and I treasured my music.

I am now excited that my children have a series of music compilations that they can love and appreciate as they are age appropriate for them. In the summer we got the Dance Party 2012 album and this formed much of our summer. I even wrote about how the music n that CD will provide memories for years to come.

We have just been sent the Pop Party 10 album for review and I have to admit that so far only dh and I have listened to it. This is because I am going to give it to my 9 year old JJ for Christmas. He is really getting into music now and has even asked for this album already, so it is just perfect! I am sure it will take hardly any time at all to use the lyric cards to learn all the words to this favorite tunes.

There is a good selection of 22 songs on the album -

1. Gangnam Style (?????) - Psy
2. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
3. Payphone - Maroon 5
4. Young - Tulisa
5. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
6. Boyfriend - Justin Bieber
7. Call My Name - Cheryl
8. Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself) - Ne-Yo
9. Domino - Jessie J
10. This Is Love - will.i.am, Eva Simons
11. We Are Young - Fun., Janelle MonĂ¡e
12. Chasing The Sun - The Wanted
13. Where Have You Been - Rihanna
14. Twilight - Cover Drive
15. Dance With Me Tonight - Olly Murs
16. Part Of Me - Katy Perry
17. Black Heart - Stooshe
18. Can't Say No - Conor Maynard
19. Alone Again - Alyssa Reid
20. Mama Do The Hump - Rizzle Kicks
21. Proud - JLS
22. 30 Days - The Saturdays

Whilst JJ will be thrilled with the music CD my 5 year old twin girls will be over the moon with the bonus DVD that comes with it. Not only can they listen and dance around, our lounge can be transformed into a dance studio as they copy the dance moves shown on the 13 music videos. It is a good source of entertainment to dh and I on a Sunday afternoon as they put on a 'show' for us!

Pop Party 10 is available for sale now and to celebrate you can enter to win one of ten iPod shuffles, just head over to Poppartyworld.com and enter.  You can also find out the latest news about all your favorite pop bands like One Direction over there.  The CD is available from Amazon for £8.99 with free delivery, I think that is a bargain.

One lucky reader can win a copy of this great CD!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Thursday 25 October 2012

Review: Moxie Girlz Bendy Braidz Doll

I'm pretty fussy about the dolls that come into our house.  A short while back a friend of my Mums very kindly gave my girls some Bratz dolls but I have to say these made their way to the charity shop pretty fast.  I have a real objection to little girls growing up too quickly and I do not want to give them toys that encourage them that being a brat is good.  Nor do I want them to think that make-up and short skirts are normal for little girls.

So far I've not had any objections to the Moxie Girlz dolls, this is the third doll that we have in the Moxie Girlz range and the others have been fun and are lasting well. I tend to find it is the hair that lets these sort of dolls down, my girls Barbies look like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards but the Moxie Girlz Glitterin' Style doll we have is still perfectly groomed.

There are 3 dolls to collect in this range

Miss E was my lucky twin who got to try out this Bendy Braidz doll and she was super chuffed.  Like I said while I don't want my girls to grow up too quick, I am realistic and know they are girls and want to be like mummy, so I feel it is OK to let them show some creativity in regards to hair styles and make-up.  Better to try it out on a doll than on yourself which is what Miss M has done on many occasions and still has lopsided hair to prove it!

The Bendy Braidz doll comes with rooted braids for you to weave into the Moxie Girlz hair as well as glitter gel, pom poms and hair jewels for decoration. I have to be honest and say that miss E did find it hard at age 5 to be able to plait and manipulate the hair as an older girl might but this did not detract from the fun for her, she still enjoyed herself.

It did not take long for the glitter to be used up and yes it did make it into the girls hair too but I'm glad to say it washes out fine and does not cause any problems.

This doll is recommended for children aged 3 years and older, it has an RRP of £19.99 and is available from all good supermarkets and toy retailers, the best price I found was £ 13.49 at Smyths Toys  I think that is a great bargain and well worth picking up a doll for a nice Christmas gift for a little girl.

Disclosure:  We were sent this doll for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Review: Moxie Girlz Bubble Bath Suprise Doll

My two little girls are just like any other 5 year olds and they love dolls, they don't seem to have got to the age yet where they are inseparable from their dolls, not like I was with my Sindy but they do enjoy playing with them and when Miss M got the Moxie Girlz Bubble Bath Surprise doll to try out she thought she was in heaven that the doll was allowed in the bath with her! Luckily for us Miss M hates bubbles in the bath and this is good as bubbles are not recommended for use with this doll, we don't want a mouldy doll after all!

Miss M received the pretty Sophina doll, there are 5 in this range

Miss M does love to involve water in most of her play and this is a problem much of the time, real water filled teapots in her bedroom have a habit of spilling.  So to have something that I could happily say to her, yes you can get this wet is great.  Just one problem in my house only one of my twins has one so we did try and let Barbie come in the bath too but she did not like it much!

The large detachable skirt is what allows the doll to float and that is fine until you get a couple of excited 5 year olds that start to see ho hard they can make the waves come and will Sophina stay upright.  Oh yes, I have some tough little kids!  Miss Sophina does pretty well it turns out but if you make it too choppy she will fall over and her hair gets a bit of a mess when wet!

As you can see the bubbles and dogfish attach onto her skirt for safe keeping!

Miss M's favourite part of this toy was the dogfish that she received with it, a tiny little pet for Sophina the doll that is half dog and half fish, I do have to admit it is cute.  There is also a small vial of bubbles for blowing and Miss M liked this but they were over in no time at all. Luckily we had some bubbles left over from a recent party bag and both girls were able to have super fun in the bath with Sophina, the soggy Barbie and some bubbles.

There are 5 dolls with different colour outfits that you can choose from.  I do love that dolls have become multicultural nowadays.

This product is recommend for children aged 3 years plus.  It has an RRP of £19.99 but I see you can buy it on Amazon for £16.04 currently.  I think that price is reasonable and certainly comparable to what you would pay for this size doll from any of the other popular ranges.

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

Saturday 20 October 2012

#WWBack2Best Week 3 & Spicy Courgette & Squash Soup

Hello friends,  Today is my end of week 3 weigh in and I have to be honest, it does not feel as if I have been on a diet for 3 weeks, that's a good thing, yes?

This week has been a difficult one, part of this week I was still in Ethiopia and I took a night flight back Saturday night, this resulted in me being super tried for most of the week and it is always way harder to diet when tired I find.  Sleep is so important for losing weight.

However despite the tiredness I have been pleased with the result on the scales today.  I started Weight Watchers on Friday 28th September and weighed in at 17st 8lb, in that first week I lost 1lb, I then went away to Ethiopia and did not weigh.  My weight this morning was 17st 4lb, so that is a loss of 3lb since my last weigh in and I am well pleased with that.

I intend to do my measurements tomorrow morning and to start keeping an eye on those once a month as I know from past experience that sometimes the scales do not say anything nice but the tape measure does.

One of the bonuses of having been away is that my hubbie has been cooking so I came home to some lovely homemade soups, which are always fabulous for dieting.  He does a really good mushroom soup and he has followed the Weight Watchers Pro Points receipt to make us Spicy Courgette and Squash coup on a number of occasions, this has been a real life save to me.  The recipe comes from one of the books I was sent, called Members Favourites, which retails for £8.95.

I'll share the recipe with you  as it has just 1 ProPoint per serving and a batch makes 4 servings, just perfect for a week at work.  I have mine with some crunchy ryvita and low-fat phili to ensure I feel like I've had a full meal at lunchtime.

Calorie controlled cooking oil
2 onions, chopped
500g butternut (or other) squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
2 large courgettes
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 1/2 pts vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to season

  1. Spray the pan with the calorie controlled cooking spray an heat over a medium heat.  Add the onion and soften for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the squash and courgettes, followed by the ground cumin, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from the heat. Use a hand blender to whizz until it is smooth. Season to taste and serve straight away.

See really simple, I'd recommend you give it a go. It is super cheap for us as we have been growing courgettes and squash.

This next week I am going to focus on -

  • Going to bed early and building my sleep back up.
  • Tracking all the food I eat
  • Planning my meals for the week ahead.

I expect these things to make a real difference and I'll report back next week.

I hope you are doing well, let me know how it is going and I'll come visit you.

Mich x

Disclosure:  I have received 6 months online membership and a Weight Watchers hamper for the purposes of undertaking this review of the plan and products. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 19 October 2012

What to Expect when You are Expecting released on DVD & Blu-Ray 22nd October 2012

I have a bit of a confession to make I am a pregnancy geek, I'm one of those women who read all, yes I mean ALL the books that were around at the time of my pregnancies. I could not get enough knowledge and I have to say it has been so useful to me over the last few years.  When I have met people with pregnancy related conditions I am very knowledgeable and I have been able to comfort a few mums-to-be who were worried, it is most satisfying.  I also moderated a twins forum on BabyCentre for a couple of years and again I used to receive loads of comments about how sensible and knowledgable I am, if only they really knew me, sensible would not be the word coming to mind!

Probably my favourite series of books was the 'what to expect when...' series, I had them all - covering pregnancy, the first year, the toddler years and then I have to be honest and say life got a bit busy to keep reading books!  Baby twins and a toddler will steal anyones time, especially when you still work.

It was because of my love of all things pregnancy that I was excited to hear about the new film staring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez and a whole host of other well known and up and coming Hollywood stars. The film is called 'What to expect when you are expecting' and I was super happy to review it. It reminded me of a Love Actually or Valentines Day kind of plot with the lives of 5 couples being shown and each couple has their own story to tell - the twins parents, the ones who miscarry, the adoptive parents - who get the picture. I did enjoy the film, it was a very easy watch but I have to say that if I had missed half of it I would not have worried too much.  It is easy to watch but there is nothing amazing in there, I'm sorry to say.

I think this film will generally just appeal to women, perhaps the lady who has babies on the mind and is thinking of starting a family or someone like me who has been through pregnancy and knows how special it is but is now over it.  I would not recommend the film for someone to watch whilst they are pregnant, due to the one couple miscarrying, that is just too close to home for many of us.

I did not shed any tears as I watched and I only laughed a handful of times, some of the characters are quite funny like Chris Rock and Elizabeth Banks.  In fact Elizabeth has one scene where she is a speaker at a baby exhibition and instead of presenting the glossy exterior, she breaks down and reveals just how rubbish pregnancy can be at times - so very touching and yes true.

Anna Kendrick is really moving and watchable and I did get a lump in my throat at one point. It just seems such a shame that a talent like Jennifer Lopez was just lost in this film of many plots.

Here is the official blurb about the movie -

Oh baby! Starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid and Chris Rock, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING is inspired by the best-selling book of the same name and is out to rent and own on DVD and Blu-ray and to download to own from 22nd October. This hilarious and heart-warming movie with an all-star cast follows five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood…

Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules (Diaz) and dance show star Evan (Morrison) find that their high-octane celebrity lives don’t stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy (Banks) gets a taste of her own militant-mum advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body. Photographer Holly (Lopez) is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband isn’t so keen and tries to reassure himself by attending a male support group – ‘The Dudes Group’ - where new fathers get to tell it like it really is.

The crazy, charming, hilarious WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING shows that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver quite what's expected…

Overall I think I would rate this as 6/10. I would not run from the film but I also would not be desperate to watch it.  But don't be put off by me, take a look for yourself.  Here is the trailer and you can make up your own mind -

The DVD is available to pre-order from Amazon for £9.99 and the Blu-Ray for £15.00.  The release date is 22nd October 2012 in the UK.

Run time - 110 minutes
Certificate - 12

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

Thursday 18 October 2012

A great kids haircare range from Galvin & Galvin Kids

One of my twin girls has the most ratty hair, it is bizzare really, her hair is polker straight but once wet or slept on it gets so ratty that she cries when you brush it.  Of course it's therefore really important for me to use a good detangler and to be honest I don't want to wash her hair every day so we need one that we can use on wet or dry hair.

The Organic Dubble Trubble Detangling Conditioner Spray in Cool Cucumber from Galvin & Galvin Kids is superb.  Probably the best detangler I have found yet and best of all it really does smell like cucumbers, so every time I do Miss E's hair I am reminded of summer picnics. I received the products to review without any knowledge of the kind of price they would be and I just assumed this was so good as it would be expensive but I was wrong, I happened to be in Morrison's earlier this week and I saw it is just £2.00 for a 125ml bottle and I think that is very good, certainly comparable with other similar products I buy. I notice the RRP is £2.50 so it may be that it is on special at the moment, but I'd still buy it for £2.50 anyway.

We also received a couple of 200ml tubes of the Organic Dubble Trubble 2 in 1 Shampoo & Body Wash in Bananaberry and Watermelon.  Miss E and JJ loved the Bananaberry whilst Miss M prefers the watermelon. I did not think I would like any of them as I generally do not like fruit scented toiletries but they are pleasant, the scent is not too strong and the clear gel is appealing and gives a really good foam. It also contains soothing certified organic aloe vera and moisturising glycerin.

When Daniel Jnr's own son was born he became concerned about the chemicals in children's products and started an investigation in 2000, here is what he says -
“I was always interested in what went in to baby shampoos, so in 2000, after my son was born, I began my research into ingredients in bathroom beauty products. The chemicals in haircare products today can ‘charge–up’ kids the same way sugar and junk foods can and 60% of synthetic ingredients are easily absorbed into the skin, so you can only imagine the harm it causes to children in the long run. Their delicate skins can be stripped of oil and children can often develop asthma or eczema.”

Daniel Galvin Jnr thus created this new range which is free of harsh chemicals, parabens, mineral oils and SLS. I was also pleased to see that these products have the GreenPalm sustainability badge on them and this means that they are supporting the sustainable production of palm oil to ensure that environmental impacts are minimised.

Another nice feature of the Galvin & Galvin Kids products is that they will donate £25,000 from the sale of the products (in the first 12 months) to Prince's Trust Trading Limited who will convert all taxable profits for use by the charity. A charity which helps to boast self esteem and develop transferable skills for once children enter the workplace.

Disclosure:  We are sent these 3 items free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Review: Leapster GS games console

My girls have been road testing the new Leapster GS consoles. These are designed for children 3 - 9 years, so at just 5 they are at the younger end of the spectrum but this does not matter as they were able to master their way around it in no time. It probably helps that we have an old style Leapster Explorer and also LeapPad so the girls know their way round LeapFrog products.  I would say this product is probably my favourite of the range as it is just a perfect size for their little hands.

What we like -

As per most LeapFrog products the console is available in both green and lilac colourways and the new styling is certainly an improvement. The handheld console looks much more grown-up and modern now but it is still nice and sturdy. The sylus is attached and stored easily. A great addition is the camera and video camera, this was Miss E's favourite feature, she just loved manipulating the photos that she took and drawing all over them - oh how attractive I look in some of them!

Other enhancements on the Leapster GS are the larger and higher quality screen, the new faster LF 2000 processor and 4x the internal memory (2 GB). Children can enjoy taking charge of the action with the built-in motion sensor by tilting, turning and shaking their way through the game. They can also bring the real world into their play, putting themselves right into the game with the built-in camera, video recorder and microphone.

Then the great thing for me is that LeapFrog have a real passion for educational fun, it can be hard for parents to know which apps or games are the best for their children in terms of age appropriate fun and development and I find it reassuring to know I can just turn to anything that is using the LeapFrog name and know I can trust it. I also love the fact that the product learns your child's skill level and starts to increase the level of difficulty as they get more answers correct.

Then as for variety when it comes to cartridges and apps there are so many to choose from and the price range is very wide, apps start from about £3.50 whereas games tend to be £19.99. You can get games, videos, ebooks, flash cards and music. Your kids need never be bored again!

Miss M already has her favourite game in the form of the Tangled cartridge and this came straight out of her old Leapster and into this new module which suits me fine as it has a great emphasis on letters and spelling. You have to love a manufacturer that allows you to transfer games from one device to another.

As with all LeapFrog products I have linked up the consoles to the Learning Path and I am able to track the girls progress and explore ways that I can increase their learning and set new targets. There are also suggestions for new games for me to purchase that would be developmentally appropriate. You can set up to 3 profiles on the Leapster GS and each of these can be tracked individually.

What we don't like -

The only grumble I have is the same as I have with all these kind of products - that they take 4 AA batteries and that even the best batteries only tend to last a matter of hours before they expire. I will either need to buy some rechargable batteries or an ac adapter for each as I just cannot afford to keep buying more batteries

What it comes with -

The Leapster GS comes with with 3 apps (Pet Pad, Escape of the Sillies--an exclusive LeapsterGS game and one app of your choice which you can easily download). Every Leapster GS also comes with the USB cable to connect it to your computer, a parent guide, stylus and headphone connection.

There are loads of extras you can buy for the Leapster if you so wish, such as rechargable battery pack, over 200 downloadable games, branded cartridges and my girls are now nagging me for cute little handag carriers, like these ones below. At about £11 on Amazon they might be in luck at Christmas!

The new Leapster GS is available on Amazon currently for just £50.68 and I think that is a complete steal and I would be happy to recommend it at that price. I think this will be a superb Christmas gift.
Why don't you take a look at the Leapster GS in action -

Disclosure:  We were sent two games consoles for the purposes of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.