HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

We've been without a printer for a little while now so the opportunity to review the HP Envy 5540 couldn't have come at a better time, both for the day to day printing we need to do around the house and the requirements of Bud's weekly homework. The HP Envy 5540 works with HP's Instant Ink service which offers the ability to get ink delivered to your door on a monthly basis - removing the 'oh no, we've run out of ink' cries from your home.

We've been set a few challenges for our use of the printer and the first week was to set it up. This is a simple process that most printer owners will be familiar with and the helpful Envy display talks you through each stage from fresh out of the box to functioning printer. You'll need your computer or a smart device to complete set up and to register for the Instant Ink service too. I'd say the whole process took around fifteen minutes from start to finish and that included downloading drivers and signing up for Instant Ink.

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

The Instant Ink service was new to me and I was really keen to try it. We always run out of ink and end up on a mad dash to the shop to replace it in order to print that important document.The idea of having a supply sent straight to my door was very appealing! There are three levels of the scheme available and we went for the middle one. You can top up on this should you have a big printing month and you can have a free trial for the first three months. There are no annual fees and you can cancel at any time. Should you find yourself printing more or less than your scheme offers it is a simple process to switch to one of the others.

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

Something I was really surprised by on the HP Envy 5540 print menus was the option for printables. This is a really clever little facility which allows you to access HP's range of pro forma and printables. Bud loves paper planes so I was quick to print off the most recent of those, should I wish to I can schedule prints of each update as it arrives. We're looking forward to fully investigating the wide range available.

In the second week we were asked to look at quality. We had started to print by then and the printer was in daily use. Our printer was supplied with a pack of HP ColourLok paper (the recommended A4 plain paper for our printer) and, once the tray was loaded we were ready to go. There are three modes of print available - Draft, Normal and Best. Draft is great for those quick prints like when you need some instructions that you'll recycle quickly. We've been using Normal and Best the most but Draft worked very well when I needed some directions to an event and didn't want to waste my phone batteries by using the sat nav on there!

We had various example documents sent across to us and these were a great way to see the printer in action. The first thing I printed out was the documentation for our holiday in The Netherlands later this month. I was really pleased with the clarity of printing. Printing out the accommodation voucher, with very little colour on it, took only a few seconds. The holiday site brochure took a little longer but this was a high colour, more detailed document. I was able to print this on two sides to save on paper and it was interesting to see the ink drying stage before the sheet of A4 was fed back in to be printed on the other side. This was slower than single sided but is a great way to save paper.

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

The next stage was to print out some photos. I take hundreds of photos and never print any. I've been meaning to print some photos for a spare frame we have so I was looking forward to using the HP Envy for this. Photos were bright and sharp when printed on the HP Advanced Photo Paper. These are easily of a high enough standard to send to friends or to fill frames. I have a print facility on my phone which allows me to print direct to any HP printer on my network. I was so surprised at how effective this was! I had photos in just a minute with no laptop required.

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

HP asked us to test a print by smudging it using fingers or a few drops of water. I'm very happy to say that the prints passed with flying colours and both my finger tips and the cloth I used with the water saw no ink transfer. The fade test has been more difficult to carry out under the gloomy skies we had that week but I put one print out in the glorious sunshine we had today and the colours are vibrant and clear.

The next week's challenge was product design and cost savings. This printer is a very stylish creation and more importantly, it's really easy to use. The touch screen menus are intuitive and simple to navigate and you can get where you need to in just a few seconds. Need to see how much ink you have left? Just two presses will get you to a clear display.

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review Ink Display

Having the pre-installed app and ability to print from my phone is amazing. I was rushing out of the door on the school run and remembered I needed to print off a contact details form. I quickly printed the PDF from my phone while I was rushing the children into coats and shoes and it was ready for me to grab as we ran out of the door

The Instant Ink service means that we're always going to have a direct supply of ink to our door. It's the correct ink for our printer which means that we're always going to get the best results possible. The scheme offers a significant saving on buying ink on an ad hoc basis and if you have little ones who like to print you're not watching the pennies as you might be with other systems. Knowing that you are paying £3:49 per month for ink is much better than the shock of running to the shops to buy a replacement cartridge.

The final week asked us to look at convenience and our overall thoughts. I've owned a lot of printers over the past twenty or so years and I can honestly say that the HP Envy 5540 is the best. I'm delighted with the quality of the prints and the Instant Ink scheme. For a busy family like ours, where printer ink might not make it to the shopping list as often as it should, hearing that brown box drop on to the mat each month is going to be fantastic. No more 'no, Bud, you can't print that' and having to nip up to the in laws to print off those important documents for us. I'm really satisfied with everthing about the printer and it's clear that a great deal of thought has gone into the whole process. I've never been able to print from my phone before and I think that the novelty of that will take some time to wear off!

HP Envy 5540 with Instant Ink - Review

The HP Envy 5540 has an RRP of £69:99 and I think that is excellent value for money. So often we buy a printer at a bargain price and then the running costs are prohibitively expensive. Knowing that I'm only going to pay £48 a year for ink and budgeting this at a really negligible amount per month is fantastic. We would wholeheartedly recommend the printer to any family with similar printing needs to ours.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. -

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

Bubbles are so much fun and all three of my children are always delighted by them.The only way to improve on bubbles is to make them bigger, which Gazillion Bubbles have done brilliantly with their brand new Giant BubbleWand.

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

The Bubble Wand arrives in a set complete with wand, tray and Gazillion Bubbles solution. You'll need scissors to unpackage it and then the wand needs the handle attaching to it which will only take a few seconds, and then it's ready to use. To make bubbles simply pour the solution in to the try, place the wand on to the tray and lift. If your tray isn't on a flat surface (we had ours on grass) you might need to move the tray slightly to make sure the bubble solution reaches all the way around the ring on the wand.

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

It's easy to make some really big bubbles with the wand and Bud, at six, can make them well. His little sister can't quite manage it but loves chasing those made by her big brother!

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

Gazillion Bubbles Giant Bubble Wand - Review

The set is really excellent fun and, at £9:99 will be great for outdoor play this Summer. Bud and LM are already planning to take it on our holiday later this month. You can buy bottles of the bubble solution to use when your's runs out.

We were sent the BubbleWand for review purposes.

Casdon Little Shopper Supermarket Till - Review

LM is a huge fan of imaginative play and loves to pretend she is cleaning, working or shopping. Recently she was sent a Supermarket till from the Little Shopper range by Casdon. We know the Casdon range quite well and have always found their role play toys to be great for children to explore.

The Casdon Little Shopper range includes the Supermarket Till in a selection of retail-themed toys which allow children to explore all aspects of the shopping process. We own the Casdon Post Office and Sweet Shop already so a new, electronic till was the perfect accompaniment for these toys.

Casdon Little Shopper Supermarket Till - Blog Review

The Supermarket Till is really up to date and includes a chip and pin terminal with credit card, microphone, bar code reader and an electronic display which works as a calculator. It also includes a selection of play food which is perfect for setting up your own little shop.

LM has engaged with this toy brilliantly. She absolutely loves 'playing shop' and has had us all queuing up to buy our groceries from her. The microphone may well be her favourite part and she's always shouting her brother to the tills or 'clean up on aisle 3', I think her Daddy is responsible for that one!

Casdon Little Shopper Supermarket Till - Blog Review

The till has a good range of electronic sounds which are attached to each of the buttons on the keypad. There are buttons corresponding to each major food group which is brilliant for children who aren't reading yet. LM is learning her numbers at the moment and we've been practising them using the keypad. She loves being able to find each number she is asked for.

Bud has been learning about money at school this term so the plastic money included with the till has been of great interest to him. He's been using the till in a much more mathematical way to his younger sister and has been enjoying making change from the notes using the coins. A great way to reinforce learning outside the classroom.

Casdon Little Shopper Supermarket Till - Blog Review

We're huge fans of the Casdon range, they are the perfect toys for children who are curious about the world and want to understand the behaviour of adults through play. They have an excellent level of detail which allows children to feel like they are really replicating that behaviour and helps them to understand it too. The Supermarket Till is really well constructed and excellent quality. I think it's going to be played with for a long time in our house.

The Casdon Supermarket Till requires 3xAA batteries which aren't supplied. It is available from all usual stockists, priced at around £15.

For more information on the Little Shopper range visit www.casdon.co.uk

We received the till for review purposes

Win - Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door

Last week LM and I reviewed the Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door playset and it got a huge thumbs up from both of us. The lovely set is both decorative and interactive and LM loves to both play with it and talk about all of the different features. Click here to read our full review. 

I've teamed up with Interplay to offer one of my lucky readers the chance to win their own set, perfect to bring some fairy magic in to the life of their favourite little one. Once it's installed in a bedroom or playroom your fairy can take up residence, ready to delight your children.

Win - Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door Giveaway

If you haven''t seen the TV advertising for the gorgeous My Fairy Garden range then check it out below. There are five different toys in the range and I'm sure LM would love to add to our Fairy Door.

For your chance to win an Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door set please complete the Gleam widget below. Please read the terms and conditions.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door

Tall Tales at the Top of the Tower in May Half Term

Blackpool is always a popular choice for a day out in half term here. Whether it's a play on the beach (if you're lucky with the weather), or a visit to one or more of the huge range of attractions, the resort really has something for everyone. New for May half term is a great opportunity for little ones to take their grown ups along to a storytelling session in a very special location - at the top of Blackpool Tower in the Blackpool Eye!

Tall Tales at the Top of the Blackpool Tower in May Half Term

‘Tall Tales’ will welcome families to the top of The Blackpool Tower, where the little ones will meet special storytellers and explore the tale of Sydney the Seagull and his adventures around Blackpool, while admiring the views of Blackpool’s famous buildings that are part of the tales.

Tall Tales at the Top of the Tower in May Half Term - view from the Blackpool Eye

Once the adventure trail has finished, children will be challenged to make the best ever LEGO tower with the help of a Blackpool Tower building expert. They’ll then end the morning by burning off some energy in Jungle Jims adventure playground.

This extra special experience will take place on Saturday mornings throughout May and June and is perfect for young families looking for something different for the school holidays.

To really make a day of it, there are lots more activities to get involved with during a Blackpool Tower visit, such as The Blackpool Tower Circus, Dungeon, Ballroom and of course Jungle Jims adventure playground. 

Tall Tales at the Top of the Tower in May Half Term

Tickets for Tall Tales cost £19.95 per child and include one free adult per ticket. They are available online at https://www.theblackpooltower.com/

In Collaboration with Blackpool Tower

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Review

LM loves all things fairy at the moment and she can often be found skipping around the house, pretending to fly with her fairy wings. She's fascinated by the idea of fairies visiting her so, when we were sent the Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door recently, I knew it would be the perfect way to add a little magic to her bedroom.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review

The Secret Fairy Door playset arrives in a beautifully decorated box, with the fairy door clearly visible. I decided I would set it up while LM was at nursery school and surprise her with her new fairy friend when she arrived home.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review

The set is simple to unbox and included you will find the tree trunk fairy door, a key and ribbon bracelet (and a second spare key), fairy and hedgehog figurine, mushroom, a set of wall stickers, and a fairy storybook.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review House Interior

The Fairy Door is simple to put together, simply slide the cardboard interior into the rear of the tree and use the six tabs included to clip it in to place. The door on the tree trunk opens so you can see the inside and use it to store some of the smaller pieces inside. It makes a lovely little home for the fairy and hedgehog.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review Stickers

Stickers are included in the set to provide a tree background for the Fairy Door. This arrives in two pieces for the base tree, with four different sets of stickers to depict the changing seasons. I loved this idea as it offers a really helpful way to discuss the changing seasons with your child and to talk about how a train changes through the year. As it was Spring when we were setting up the Fairy Door we went for those showing the blossom and new life of a Spring tree. All of the stickers are low tack so easy to position and move around should the need arise. The stickers do increase the amount of space needed for the Fairy Door so make sure you have enough room to place it when selecting a site in your room for it.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review

Once your stickers are in place you can affix the tree house at the base of the tree sticker, to create the full Fairy Door effect. There are foam pads to make this process easier. LM's room has a tricky layout as it's so small so we placed it on a box she has in her bedroom. This makes the Fairy Door 'float' a little so I need to find a little pebble for our fairy to use as a front door step! The key for the door actually works and can be used to unlock the door, although LM refuses to wear it as the intended bracelet. I've hidden the spare key so we can still open the door should she lose it.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review Accessories Keys

The accompanying accessories are great. The box shows the fairy with a base to help her stand up but that wasn't present in our pack. It's not crucial for us as LM loves to pretend she is flying or to tuck her up inside her house with her hedgehog friend.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review Opening the door

We really loved the Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door. It's delighted LM since it arrived and she loves playing with her fairy in her little house. It's a great set which offers a real educational element with the ability to change the seasonal stickers.

Interplay My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door - Blog Review

My Fairy Garden Secret Fairy Door is aimed at children aged 4+ and retails at around £17:99..

To keep up to date with all of the My Fairy Garden news, including their own competitions and promotions, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Win Amazing Football Prizes with Barclays

Football is a current craze in our house and I couldn't be more excited. Bud, newly six years old, has been receiving football coaching in school and is loving every second of it. The sport resonates throughout our family, from my Grandad, who used to help carry the away team kit into Burnden Park (the former home of Bolton Wanderers) as this was the only way he could afford to see the game, to my Dad who refereed grass roots level football and has visited about two thirds of the nations' football ground following Bolton around the country. Both Ian and I have been football fans all of our lives so encouraging a love of the sport in our children was a given.

As you can see, we always have a football with us when we're in the park or on a day out and Bud and LM love having a kick around with us.

As a family which understands how much work goes into football, at all levels, I'm always pleased to see a company which is committed to supporting football, both at community and professional level. Since 2004 Barclays have been the title sponsor for the highest level of English football - the Barclays Premier League - but, what you may not know is that they  made a commitment to the Football Foundation charity when they became sponsors and, since then, they have invested over £40 million in creating Barclays Spaces for Sports. This has allowed the creation of over 200 sports sites, many of which are in more deprived areas. We have 8 within 10 miles of our home and it's fantastic to see my local community benefiting from this funding.

Barclays have encouraged football clubs to become involved in their community by developing employability programmes through their Barclays Premier League Works, and 17 clubs now offer support to help young people get training and become ready for work.

To celebrate their continued investment in football Barclays have created an amazing competition which will allow the chance to win one of 15 'money can't buy' football experiences. I know Bud would adore the chance to show off the Premier League trophy at school so we're definitely going to be entering that competition when it is open.

The current competition offers a lucky winner the chance to present the Barclays Premier League trophy to the champions. Whether it's your club in line to win or not this is an amazing prize, placing you right at the heart of sporting history!

If you'd like the chance to win one of these amazing prizes...

It could be you handing the trophy over to the champions! Keep checking the website for new competitions and the regular ticket giveaways too.

In collaboration with Barclays.