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Sunday 29 September 2013

Review: Pinkabella activity books

Parragon have launched a range of activity books, aimed at those little girls who just love pink. Miss E will gladly admit to you that pink is her favourite colour and I know she will go mad for these books.

We were sent copies of Pinkabella loves drawing and Pinkabella dress-up to try out. Miss E took a liking to the drawing one as she considers herself the artist of the family and Miss M liked the look of the sticker dress-up as she has a really great sense of style and loves to fashion new outfits.

The books are good quality and you can tell they are a premium brand. The cover is glossy and both come with little extras - the drawing one has tons of sweet little heart shaped erasers and the dress up has a pack of 3D bows with diamontes. My girls loved these little bits but really - what do you do with 20 tiny erasers? However it is obvious I do not have the imagination of a 6 year old as the girls used them as sweets in their pretend shop.

The pages inside are on good quality paper and both feature a lot of colour. With the dress-up book the stickers are easy to remove and Miss M enjoyed sticking them on to make outfits. It is a shame the other book did not have any stickers but the pages and the prompts they give for drawing are good - fill the shoe rack, draw some yummy cakes, decorate the biscuits etc.

I would say these books are suitable from about age 4 upwards and it is useful if you can read, so that you can find out what the task is, but saying that it does not matter if the child can't as I'm sure they would still have fun sticking and drawing.

These books have an RRP of £6.00 each. However I noticed they are selling on Amazon for anything upwards of £1.99 so there is a bargain to be had!

There are some free colouring and activity pages to try out here - http://www.parragon.com/pinkabella/uk.html

Disclosure: We were sent these 2 books free of charge for the purpose of this review, I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Excited about plastic storage boxes

I kid you not, when I received my delivery from the PlasticBoxShop.co.uk I did a little silent whoop. I love storage solutions, the idea of having a house that is completely tidy and organised is a really appealing one to me.

When I was offered the chance to choose a few different products from the Plastic Box Shop I was like a kid in the candy store and I did not know what to look at first. Should I streamline with kids playroom and make it look all beautiful and coordinated, should I organise the dumping ground of a storage cupboard that we have upstairs or should I move my crafting products from the old and broken box that it currently sits in? Oh decisions, decisions.

Not knowing what the quality of the boxes was from the Plastic Box Shop I decided to do a bit of all three tasks and then if I like what was sent to em I could order some more and finish all the jobs.

First task - the girls playroom -
Their playroom is full of boxes with all kinds of toys in and it works OK but it is not pretty and matching like I'd desire it to be, so I ordered a pink plastic rattan look basket to see if they might make my shelves look a bit better.

The new plastic rattan box is on the bottom left and I like it, it is not as deep as some plastic boxes but it certainly looks more stylish (in a kids playroom type of way!). It retails at £3.84 inc VAT for this large size and there are other colours and sizes available. The plastic is sturdy enough to hold the toys.

Task two - Large storage cupboard -
Luckily I have a cupboard upstairs that is as deep as the length of a bed and it is super useful but you know how it can get, it is so easy to just dump things in there and then all of a sudden it is a terrible mess. I forgot to take a picture of the mess it was looking but I have to say that the 5 pack of 32 litre plastic boxes with lids that I ordered have certainly paved the way to a more organised cupboard.

I really like these boxes as the clips on the side are sturdy and the boxes feel as if they will really last. It is a false economy I find to buy those £4 boxes from the discount type stores as they never last.  This 5 pack including lists cost £28.80 inc VAT and that works out to £5.76 a box which is a great price given the quality of the box, far better than you might pay for a comparable tough box in one of the well known DIY stores.

Third task - organise my craft materials -
I really enjoy making cards and over the years I've used a variety of boxes but last year I streamlined all my materials and tried to get things down to one small box but what I had not achieved was a box small enough to have a lid on and to store under the coffee table. I now have!

I used one of the 5 pack of boxes from above for the main bulk of my materials and then I ordered a small 13 compartment craft organiser box made by Wham.  I know Wham products to be of a good quality so I was pleased to see them available for sale and this box is just £2.52 inc VAT which is a real bargain.

I also ordered an A4 size plastic box to store paper or card blanks in and this is £2.34 inc VAT and lastly a larger Wham A3 sized box for my bigger card and paper stock. This is available with a host of brightly coloured lids and can therefore suit your style. The cost for this larger box is £5.40 inc VAT and that includes the lid.

I'm really pleased that my paper box and 13 compartment box both fit in my large box and now I just have all the products neat in 2 boxes and importantly my paper will no longer have curled corners as the A3 box is protecting it properly.

I found the communication and delivery from the Plastic Box Shop really good. The products were packaged well to ensure there were no breakages and I would happily purchase from them again. if you purchase more than £60 then your delivery is free and if under it is £5.95 for a 24 hour service, which is very fair. There are fees to return goods though so I'd say make sure you are keen on the item before you buy it!

Disclosure: I was provided with these boxes free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 27 September 2013

Review: The Big Wedding DVD

Last Sunday my husband and I sat down for a quiet evening in, we put on The Big Wedding and got the snacks out. Some time together and a good movie was just what we needed - sadly he ended up in bed before the film finished as it did not manage to keep him engaged.

The Big Wedding has a really strong cast, with Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amands Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams and I therefore expected great things from it and don't get me wrong it is a watch-able movie but just not fabulous like I expected.

Without spoiling too much of the film I'll say that Don and Ellie (De Niro and Keaton) have to pretend that they are still married. Divorced many years ago, they are now thrown back together to offer a 'good front' to their adopted sons birth mother who decides to fly halfway across the world for his wedding day. Don's current girlfriend has to move out and Ellie moves back in but not without any issues.

The film focuses on the wider family and the wedding weekend, you get a glimpse into all their lives and learn a few home truths from the past which spark some consequences for the future.

The film is billed as 'an uproarious romantic comedy' and I have to say that is a real overstatement. I hardly laughed during the film and whilst there are a few sex scenes it is nor massively romantic, except perhaps a couple of fleeting moments. The performances are good though, as you would expect from such established actors and this means the film is watch-able.

Take a peek at the trailer and see what you think -

The Big Wedding is out on DVD/ Blu-Ray from 14th October, you can pre-order on Amazon for £10.00

Certificate:   15
Run time:     89 minutes

Thursday 26 September 2013

Five Of The Best Ready To Roll Icing Decoration Ideas

Image Credit
If you’re a true baking enthusiast then every time you make a cake you’ll want it to be not only delicious but also visually delightful. The first bite is with the eye, so it’s important to make sure that the decorations on your new creation are appealing and well-crafted. Probably the best medium for decorating is ready-to-roll icing. Its uses extend far beyond acting as a tasty layer covering your sponge or fruit cake.

If you fancy adding some wonderful ready-to-roll icing decorations to your cake then here are some ideas to spark your imagination.

1.      Beautiful Bows. A great decorative idea for ready-to-roll icing is crafting ribbons and bows. These can be used for all kinds of cakes, no matter what the occasion. From a simple sash-style ribbon that fits snugly around your cake, to an intricate bow like in this amazing towel cake.

2.      Shiny, Happy People. Because ready-to-roll icing holds its shape well, and comes in an assortment of colours, it’s perfect for making intricate models. Creating simple animals is straightforward enough but why not make tiny people to decorate a cake? You can use the icing to make everything from their clothes to their hair. This street party cake should give you an idea of what can be achieved. But the options are endless. It’s perfectly possible to create eye-catching scenes on top of your cake to tie in with any occasion.

3.      Delicate Little Flower. Small flowers can be a beautiful decoration on a cake and ready-to-roll icing is a great medium to make your designs a reality. From intricate hand-sculpted roses topping off a cupcake to simple flowers like these daisies, it’s easy to create a floral flourish for any cake.

4.      Frightening Fondant. With Halloween just around the corner make sure you use ready-to-roll icing to decorate your Halloween-themed cakes and biscuits. Thanks to a wide colour palette you can easily make jack o’lanterns and pumpkins to top a cake, or create some eerie ghosts and monster designs on top of biscuits and cookies.

5.      Frills and Lace. If you’re baking a wedding cake then ready-to-roll icing is ideal for creating a beautiful lace applique to bring the cake to life. Simply press some icing into a pre-made applique mould and you’ll have a wonderful addition to your multi-tiered masterpiece.

What are you waiting for? Grab some icing and get crafting, let your imagination take you where it will and make your next cake amazing with some ready-to-roll icing decorations.   

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Review: Star Paws Sticker Books

What is it with kids and stickers, they just seem to go crazy for them? Especially when it includes incredibly cute (and yes silly) looking animals it seems to be even more popular.

I have not come across the STAR PAWS series  (from Macmillan Children's Books) before but having now looked at them I just know that my 6 year old twin girls are going to adore them and how useful will they be when we need to take a 2 hour car journey to Nanny's in a couple of weeks?

These are really good quality sticker books that retail at £3.99 each. There are 16 glossy pages of cute animals (all sorts - bears, hamsters, kittens, dogs, ducks, owls, monkeys, squirrels - oh yes they are all there!) ready for you to adorn with stickers and make them look as crazy as possible.

You get 8 full pages (these are big books, at just over A4 size) of glossy stickers and there is all sorts - kilts, perfume, food accessories, shoes, hats, pants, dresses, everything your child could desire for dressing up their animals. The sticker pages are perforated to come straight out the book (very clever) and remove form the backing paper easily, both my girls could do it themselves. Then the stickers also seem to peel off the page OK if you want to use them again somewhere else, although they are not advertised as reusable.

Four new titles have just been launched to add to the collections already available - you can now purchase - Christmas, Shopping, Amazing Jobs and even Knights - proving these are not just aimed at little girls.

There are loads of different titles available and some good prices available on Amazon I noticed. Check them out for super and inexpensive Christmas gifts,

Disclosure: We received review copies of these sticker books.I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Review: Space inspired metallic nail polish from BD at Tesco

I was super happy to receive some sample nail polishes from the BD range at Tesco this last week. I have a bit of a love/ hate relationship with nail polish and sometimes I'm very into it and re-do my nails each week and other times I just can't be bothered.

Once of the joys of having moved to the countryside is that I have some time on my hands at the moment, so why not sit down and paint my nails? When my samples arrived I thought they were so gorgeous that I started to try them out straight away -

I ended up with a hand of different coloured nails and then went on the school run with just one hand done and after a comment or two about how nice they were I did the other hand to match. I can't say I normally go out with multi coloured nails - but why not, I'm not that old yet!

My favourite colours were the Space Sparkle and Moondust, they look much more metallic in real-life than they do in my photo. The polish went on well and I just needed two coats for a good coverage. I didn't use any base or top coat and thus I did find I got some chipping after a couple of days but then I was busy with housework and such. I really liked the fact that the polish is very quick drying.

I found the colours came off easily when I used a remover soaked cotton wool ball and held it on the nail for 30 seconds and then wiped, I was pleased that there was not any staining even from the darkest colours and with a wipe all the sparkle came off too.

My Mum was here as well and she liked the Space sparkle too, so that just shows it has appeal for many ages.

My 6 year old twin girls have also tried out most of the colours over the weekend and I will for sure be wearing Moondust this Friday for the MAD blog awards.

These nail polish retail for £5.00 for a 11ml bottle. I think the little square bottles and holographic tops are very cute and the price is just right. You can order online or buy at Tesco stores across the country.

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of nail polishes for the purpose of their review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Monday 9 September 2013

Review - Hedrin Protect & Go

I have to say that I dread head lice coming into our house. It is such a major pain in the bum to have to try and comb them all out of the girls hair, this is when I would not mind them being a bit more tomboyish and having short hair. Then you have the added problem that because we are a cuddly family I sometimes end up with them too!

In his first few years at school JJ managed to avoid catching head lice at all, that was the joy of having a boy who was not into close up games and had very short hair but within a short time of the girls starting they were both home with heads fully infected and then I found JJ and I had it too and all whilst we were away on holiday, just what we needed.

I have come to accept that the girls will probably come home with head lice at these once an academic year, in the past I have found that whatever I do they tend to still catch them as someone in the class will have them and you can bet your life my girls will have been cosying up with them!

My hope is that this year will be different, we have been sent a bottle of Hedrin Protect and Go to trial. Basically I need to use this spray at least twice a week or after every wash if I fancy) on the kids hair and it is clinically proven to break the life cycle and kill off the head lice before an infection can be established. Sounds good doesn't it and as Hedrin is a brand I trust and have used before I'll happily give this a go.

The spray is particularly good for times when infection might be a problem such as the beginning of school term (yes we have been using it for 2 or 3 weeks now in readiness!), sleepover parties and following an 'outbreak' letter being sent home from school.

I have to say I like the scent of the spray, it is mango and orange and has conditioning properties, the girls just think it is their new detangler. The bottle is large and looks as if it will last quite some time, it is easy to spray and has a lock on the spray too. After use (on wet or dry hair) the girls hair looks nice and shiny but not greasy, which is another plus point,

Priced from £4.29 for 120ml, Hedrin Protect & Go is available from Boots, pharmacies and leading retailers nationwide.  It is skin friendly and contains no known asthma triggers.  You can find more information at www.hedrin.co.uk  or like 'Once a Week, Take a Peek on facebook.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Hedrin Protect and Go for the purposes of this review. I have not been instrcted what to write and I remain honest.

Review: The Ladies Book of Baking (Parragon)

I've had this cook book a couple of months now and I wanted to try out a few recipes before I posted about it. I now feel I'm at a point where I can say to you, yes it is a good book, go out and buy it. When I came home with it in June my twin girls took one look and decided it was a perfect book for them - they are little ladies after all!

The book has a number of sections - afternoon tea, family bakes, beautiful biscuits, perfect pastries and pies and special moments. There are lots of little extras like tips about how to display your bakes, labels you can photocopy and use for gifts and how to make the perfect cup of tea. In total there are 51 recipes including classics like carrot cake, coffee cake and madelines but there are also some really interesting new bakes like Christmas macaroons.

I found the recipe for brownies to be fabulous, these were a massive hit with my family.

The first recipe we tried out was the classic vanilla frosted cupcakes, I can say that the recipe is sound, the cakes come out well. It is clear and easy to follow with a comprehensive ingredients list and numbered method. I like the fact it tells you how many the recipe will serve and both preparation and cook time. This was you can make an educated decision if you have the time to tackle that recipe. Here are my little ladies making a batch each.

They had fun cooking but to be honest this is the best bit for them with any baking -

The Ladies Book of Baking is published by Parragon books and you can find it on Amazon for just £7.69 including postage, that is a great deal.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Review: Lego Lunchboxes

JJ has been Lego mad since as early as I can remember, first it was Duplo and then it quickly developed to little Lego as he calls it, so as soon as he saw that Lego were producing storage products he wanted some, at first he got some large Lego brick storage boxes for sorting all his Lego pieces into and more recently he has been hassling me that he needs (not wants but needs you understand) a Lego lunchbox.

He will be super pleased when he finds out that Store have sent him one, but he won't find that out for a while as I have squirrelled it away for Christmas, yes I'm a mean Mummy! Before storing it away I had to give it a good run and see how good it is, so I enjoyed my pink Lego brick pack lunch when I was out and about last week.

The Lego lunchboxes come in a range of colours and I received one for each of my children, so I have a yellow, red and light pink, they are all good strong colours. The plastic feels sturdy and is dishwasher safe, which is really important to me. The lid lifts straight off from the bottom and you have to hold onto the bottom quite tight to do this, I think my kids will all be OK with this but it might be a bit tough for a younger child as there hands are not as big. I did find it loosened a little after the first use and run through the dishwasher though, which was good, I hasten to add that it was still a good fit and wont be falling off any time soon though.

The dimensions for the Lego lunchbox are 7.5cm x 10cm x 20cm. They fit nicely inside the kids lunchbags that we use and they are big enough to fit a sandwich and snacks inside. Or if you are one of these super mums and you do the fashionable Bento lunches then they would make fabulous boxes for those as you can buy additional small Lego bricks for storing snacks like nuts, veg sticks and raisins. These will definitely have to be my next purchase, they are too cute!

At Store the Lego lunch box retails for £9.00, the larger mini-box for £3.00 and the smallest mini-box for £2.00. There is also a fabulous matching Lego head drinking bottle which is £9.00 as well.

I do like my Lego lunchboxes as I know the kids will be thrilled and I suspect their friends will be a little envious but at the end of the day it has to be said they are just a plastic box and you are paying for the Lego design.

If you fancy ordering a Lego lunchbox or anything else for that matter from Store then why not use the code CUST-2364 for free delivery.

Disclosure: I received 3 lunchboxes for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 6 September 2013

Review 3M Command Damage-Free Hanging

We have just moved house and this means a whole ton of rehanging things and that is not my idea of heaven if I’m honest. We arrived at the new house on 30th July and within a week all the boxes were gone and the house was looking shipshape. But here I am now 6 weeks in and my walls are still practically bare. I detest trying to hang pictures, especially large ones.

I get all worried that the nail will go into a pipe or electric cable and then I’ll have trouble. I don’t have one of these gadgets to check and I don’t want to go out and buy one. I also don’t like using a drill for the bigger mirrors and pictures. Luckily my brother will be up in a week or so and I’ll get him to do all the heavy jobs for me.

3M have come to my rescue for the small jobs, and the best bit is there is no hammer nor nails involved. They have a range of hooks and picture hanging strips that can be stuck to the wall and they do not fall off! It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? And I have to say if I just saw them in the shops I’d be dubious but let me assure you they really do work.

We first used command strips about three years ago when JJ had a hot wheels track on his wall. This wall mounted car track stayed firm even when played with by my rough 3 year olds and when we decided to remove it about two years later, true to their promise there was not even a tiny amount of damage to the walls, they still looked as good as the day they had been plastered and painted two years before.

After my move 3M sent me some new products to try out and I am so pleased they did. They have sorted out a number of problems for me. I have the keys hung up so I know where they are and they are out of reach of the children. I bought myself a notice board earlier this week and literally the minute I walked in the door I was able to put up one of my small clear mini hooks and hang it without it looking unsightly. I know that if I had to go to the shed for the hammer and a nail this would have taken me days.

Easy to use hooks
Nothing could be simpler than using these hooks. You literally take one out the packet and tear off a strip. The instructions tell you which side to remove the cover first and you stick the strip to the hook. You then remove the other side and stick your hook to the wall. Wait an hour for the adhesive to really adhere and there you go, start to use your hook and it looks great. I really like the fact that these hooks come with clear sticky strips, I have only seen white previously.

What I really like
*  It is really clear on the front of each packet what weight the product can hold safely
*  You can place the strips on most wall surfaces as long as they are clean
*  You can buy water resistant hooks and strips too, so even on tiles in a humid bathroom the strips hold fast
*  With the hooks you get at least 2 extra strips in each pack, so if you make a mistake or want to take something down and move it you have the option to do so
*  You can buy further packs of strips, without having to replace the hooks
*  There is a wide selection of hooks, you do not have to be satisfied with white or clear plastic there are metal finishes too
*  and of course they are super easy to apply and even to take off too, leaving a damage-free wall!

Picture hanging
I was sent picture hanging strips, which are like two pieces of sticky backed Velcro that you attach one directly to the picture frame and the other one to the wall. There are also products available to hang pictures with a sawtooth fitting and those hung with a wire.

I like the fact that you can use more than 1 pair of large strips to hold bigger/ heaver pictures or mirrors:
1 Set = 1.8Kg (4lbs)
2 Sets = 3.6Kg (8lbs)
4 Sets = 7.2Kg (16lbs)

Take a look at this quick demo video, it shows you how you can hang a picture and remove the strips easily. They show you far better than I ever could -

There is a really wide selection of Command damage-free hanging products available, go and take a peek on their website and you can purchase direct there as well or I have seen them in many major retailers and supermarkets.

Disclosure: I received a selection of hooks and wall hangers for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Review – All Stars kids DVD

Last week my kids were sent the All Stars DVD to review and I can honestly tell you it has been on numerous times in our house. It has also been watched by quite a few kids, we have had some friends over and they have all sat down to watch this whilst Miss M showed them her street dance moves!

All Stars is a sweet story about a group of unlikely kids coming together to try and save their local youth club. They all join up for a street dance crew for various reasons – from trying to impress a girl, to dancing because they love it to being part of a gang. There is nothing particularly complex about this storyline and that makes it really good for my 6 year old girls but we had kids from ages 5 through to 10 watch this and they all seemed to enjoy it.

What I liked about All Stars is that it does not appear to just be marketed at girls, there are both male and female lead characters and they are all strong and learn something along their journey to come together as a slick dance act. The music and dancing in the film was enough to get me toe tapping and wishing I could do some of their moves, it sort of reminded me of a kids version of one of the ‘Step Up’ films.

I felt it was well acted and the characters are likable and go on a journey. There is a good message in it for the kids watching and that makes it a hit with me. Take a peek at the trailer -

Starring: Theo Stevenson, Akai Osei-Mansfield, Ashey Jensen, Fleur Houdijk and many more
Certificate:  U
Run time: 106 minutes 
DVD Extras: loads available such as funny on the set scenes, dancing with Akai, BMXing with Keelan, Dancing with Sapney etc

All Stars is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now and you can purchase it from Amazon for just £10 for the DVD

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