Christmas Present Time with Tickety Toc

10:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Tomorrow, Saturday 30th November 2013, at 12:30pm the Tickety Toc Christmas special will air on Nick Jr. Tickety Toc features the adventures of Tommy and Tallulah in Tickety Town, the world behind the clock. It's a CGI animation show with fun stories and exciting adventures. The theme tune is really catchy and you will find yourself singing it long after the show finishes.

Tickety Tock Christmas Special

In the Christmas Special...
It’s Christmas Eve, and as Tickety Town prepares for Christmas, a shock crash landing by Santa throws everything into turmoil! The reindeers have caught a chill, Santa’s sleigh is broken and all the presents are spread across Tickety Town! But our inseparable heroes, Tommy and Tallulah, come to the rescue with a plan to save Christmas as they gather up all the presents and use McCoggins’ balloon to deliver them to everyone in Tickety Town. But what will happen when a huge storm blows them off course and pops their balloon? Luckily their faithful friend, Pufferty the Puppy Dog Train is on hand to help and combined with some Magic Christmas Sparkle Dust he believes he can fly, but will it be enough to save Christmas in Tickety Town?
We are big fans of Tickety Toc and really enjoy watching the show together. Christmas Present Time is a really engaging mixture of the Tickety Toc characters that we are familiar with - Bud is a hug Pufferty fan - with the addition of a very clumsy Santa and his reindeer. The show is 23 minutes long which is just right for pre-school children and Bud, who is already excited about Christmas, loved that Father Christmas was in Tickety Town. Usual episodes run for around 10 minutes so it is around twice as long.

Tickety Toc Christmas Present Time

Christmas Present Time is packed with Christmas references, from a snow-covered Tickety Town to Christmas wreaths and a big focus on presents, of course. The usual race to accomplish a task before Chime Time is to deliver the presents on time but I don't want to give anymore of the story away. You will have to watch to find out if the twins, their friends and Santa can get all of the gifts delivered before Christmas Chime Time.

If you're a fan of Tickety Toc you can like them on Facebook There will be a Twitter Party taking place immediately following the broadcast of Christmas Present Time, on Saturday 30th November 1-2pm. To join the party follow @TicketyTocUK

I'd love to know if you and your families are Tickety Toc fans too, and what you think of Christmas Present Time after it airs.

Disclaimer: I received a small gift in exchange for this post

Our Big Bloggers Night In

11:06 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Saturday morning saw Jenny from The Brick Castle and I setting off from the North-West headed for Lichfield where we and eight other bloggers were converging on Eileen from ET Speaks From Home's house. From the South and East Coasts, via London and Oxfordshire there were some fairly epic journeys made but we all arrived by late afternoon, ready to chat and spend time together.

This was the first meet up of a group that I started on Facebook early this year. I was in another, larger group with these ladies but a fit of pique saw me hit that 'create group' button on Facebook and add in twelve others who I enjoyed chatting to. A year ago we weren't friends. I was aware of a couple of the others as bloggers, some of our number didn't even have blogs then. We're a really good mix of newer, and more experienced bloggers and our little community has flourished since that fateful day.

We've been there for each other through crisis and celebration. We've supported each other through technical issues and tears. There have been illnesses and injuries, both to our number and their families. Children have started walking and talking, started nursery and school, we've had elation and disappointment. We've asked and received advice, disagreed on many things but most of all we have laughed together. It's my favourite corner of the internet, my first port of call when I log on to Facebook. These ladies are my friends, in every sense of the word. I was so excited to meet them.

I'm sure we all had a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension prior to the event but we needn't have been worried. We had a wonderful evening where we talked and talked, played games, exchanged Secret Santa gifts, all fueled by Domino's Pizza, some very tasty snacks and more than a few drinks. We then got up at a ridiculously early hour to head to Frankie and Benny's, for a much needed and very tasty cooked breakfast before the epic return journeys commenced.

L-R: Tina, Eileen, Me, Angela, Fiona, Mary, Tami, Zoe, Jenny and Anna

I had a wonderful time meeting my girls, it was further proof that the friendships we make online are strong and real. I just can't wait until we do it again when, hopefully the three who couldn't make it this time (Kelly, Laura and Anthea  will be there too. I'll be returning to this weekend to share some of the lovely treats we received with you in a few future blog posts.

Christmas Party Style with F&F at Tesco

20:14 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently I was offered £50 of Florence & Fred at Tesco vouchers and challenged to come up with a Christmas Party look for Bud and Little Miss. Of course I immediately replied 'yes' and scooted off to the Clothing at Tesco Kids' Partywear section to start shopping.

We're big fans of Tesco children's wear and both Bud and Little Miss regularly wear their clothes. I especially like their boys range which is often more bright and colourful than other stores on the high street. I decided that I would like an outfit for the children to wear on Christmas Day. We spend our day between both sets of our parents' homes so we need festive, but comfortable clothes to wear when we're eating our Christmas dinner and getting down on the floor to play with new toys.

First of all I started to look for an outfit for Bud. I'd actually been in Tesco a couple of days before and spotted some fab Christmas jumpers and I really loved the idea of getting one for Bud to wear. F&F have a few different styles but the blue reindeer jumper took my eye and, as Bud really suits this colour, it was an easy choice. I think he might wear this for a couple of parties in the run up to the big day too, to ensure he gets enough wear from it. I decided not to go for his usual jeans and spotted these relaxed, grey chinos that would look perfect with the blue sweater. The three pack of long sleeved t-shirts is perfect for the winter months and I really liked the muted palette of grey, khaki and burgundy.

Boy Christmas party clothes F&F Tesco Reindeer Christmas Jumper

When my thoughts turned to Little Miss, the first decision I had to make was what style of clothes to go for. F&F have a gorgeous range of party dresses which I looked at but I was grabbed by this beautiful two piece outfit made up of a pale pink cotton blouse and beige tweed shorts. I love the shorts over tights look on little girls and, as Little Miss is likely to be walking properly by Christmas, I thought this would allow her to move around freely and comfortably. The shorts have a gold shimmery thread running through the fabric which offers a touch of shimmer and sparkle for Christmas Day. I found this gorgeous fur gilet which will keep her snug and warm and matches the outfit really well too, and some tights which co-ordinate too. We were one pound short of our £50 voucher so I added this bargain long sleeved vest which has 'I Heart Santa' written all over it - a fun festive layer for Christmas day.

We had a big trying on session today and the clothes look wonderful. Bud was very excited by his Reindeer jumper and Little Miss looked so sweet in her outfit. The fur gilet is beautifully soft and finished off the outfit perfectly. I'm so impressed with both outfits and amazed to buy all of these items for a smudge over £50. All of the items are the excellent quality I am accustomed to when purchasing from F&F at Tesco. The only problem I had was trying to get Bud to take off the reindeer sweater.

Baby girl and small boy modelling their Christmas Party F&F Style Clothes Christmas

This is our entry into the F&F Tesco Children's Party Wear Competition. We received a £50 voucher to put together outfits for the children's Christmas party. One winner will receive a £200 voucher to spend on the F&F range.

The Magic Elf Door - A Review

00:43 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last year on the first of December we received our visit from our Christmas elf, Merry. He got up to a great deal of fun and excitement over the next three and a half weeks and Bud loved seeing what he got up to. He was a little too young to fully understand what was going with Merry last Christmas but, this year Bud is extremely excited about Christmas already and I think that Merry's antics will be thrilling for him. He's due to arrive on Sunday, with our advent calendars but we've been wondering if he will come back already and, when the lovely people at The Magic Door Store got in touch to see if we would like to review one of their Elf Doors I knew it would be the perfect way to get the excitement building in the run up to Merry's arrival.

Merry Elf Christmas Shelf magic Door

Our bright red door arrived securely packaged in its cardboard box and I was delighted to see we had received the festive red colour and that we'd also been sent a cute little wreath to hang on the door. Each door is accompanied by a bottle of sparkly magic dust which can be made us of to leave an elvish trail behind or to simply look decorative in its own right.

Magic Elf Door Red Wooden Shelf Christmas The Elf door is beautifully made. The doors remind me of the Georgian villas I used to stroll past in my university days in Bloomsbury, London. I very much like that it isn't a 'cutesy' door as I think that it means that the door can be used for years to come, even when the children are much bigger. I definitely think that our door will add to the magic of 'Elf on the Shelf' this year as Bud will be able to identify Merry's 'home' and will love seeing how the door changes each day in the run up to Merry's arrival. I have a few ideas of how to build the excitement, like leaving glittery footprints one night,and adding the Christmas wreath another. I think he might leave some sweets behind one night perhaps, and maybe some empty 'milk bottles' another. If you have any ideas or suggestions I'd love to hear them. Each door attaches to the wall using blu-tack which is enough to fix it securely. It isn't a toy so children shouldn't be allowed to play with it.

Magic Elf Door Red Christmas Wreath Magic dust

The Magic Door Store sells a range of Elf and Fairy Doors and accessories, with prices starting at £20 for the doors. That may sound expensive but I can envisage using the door for many, many years to come so it does represent value for money. You can also buy the Christmas wreath, presents and a stocking and a pillar box, to add to the magic of your door. I really like the staging of various doors shown on the website and they have given me lots of ideas for ours. Ours is firmly affixed at the top of our stairs and I can't wait for Bud and Little Miss to see it tomorrow in preparation for Merry's arrival.

If you'd like to find out more about the Magic Door Store you can 'like' them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. They will be exhibiting at Belgravia Christmas Sunday on Sunday 1st December 2013, 12 - 5pm, if you would like to see the doors in person.

Disclaimer: We received a Magic Elf Door in return for an honest review.

Christmas Shopping with Rakuten's Play.Com

00:24 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Christmas shopping is really starting to gather momentum in our house and we're finding that our list is, thankfully, getting smaller by the day. As Bud is now three and a half he really understands Christmas this year and is already starting to get excited about it so I'm keen to complete the shopping as soon as I can which will leave our December weekends free to enjoy the build up and get out to for Christmas activities and outings with the children.As I'm at home during the day with the children I turn to online shopping rather a lot and have my trusted retailers that I tend to turn to straight away. I used to order a lot from Rakuten's but it is a good few years since my last order, so many that my old login details wouldn't work and I had to create a new account. They offered me some of their SuperPoints to go shopping on their site and I was happy to put them to good use.

After logging in I was surprised to see that Rakuten's have stopped selling their own range of products. Every item now sold on their website is fulfilled through merchants in their marketplace facility We always make a list of what to buy for various relatives and I was pleasantly surprised by the range Rakuten's offered to match up with my list. First point of call was clothing. I have a couple of brothers-in-law who enjoy t-shirts associated with particular TV shows and the range offered by Rakuten's is extensive. You can find t-shirts for all of the main cult shows of the moment - Doctor Who, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory to name but a few - most of them aren't official but there are some seriously witty and entertaining designs and I was happy to snap up a couple. I also added two truly epic bags to my order which I can't show you as their future recipients do read this blog.

Play.Com Christmas Shopping

From there onwards I moved onto the toy section where products at opposite ends of the spectrum - Nerf and wooden baby toys - were soon popped into my basket. I then moved onto gifts which has a, frankly, epic range of fun gifts, ranging from stocking fillers up to more expensive presents. My final item was a particular book that I know Red Rose Daddy has on his list.

Whenever you select an item it is immediately clear which merchants sell it and the prices offered by each one. Alongside this information the feedback score for the merchant is presented to help with deciding which seller to use. You can add products from a variety of different merchants to your basket but only have to check out once which was great, and saved a lot of time. All of the prices shown include free delivery and, when this is taken into consideration, I think that they are competitive against the sites who would be regarded as their main rivals. The SuperPoints scheme means that, for every pound spent on the site you receive one point, these can then be used against future orders.

I was really impressed with the ease of use of the site and the way that, essentially, Rakuten's positions itself in its own niche in a crowded market. I think I'll definitely be checking the site out when I'm shopping online in future and I'll be back to look at their 'daily deals' in the run up to Christmas too.

Disclaimer: I  was supplied with Rakuten SuperPoints to try out, and write about, my shopping experience there. All opinions are honest and my own.

Red Rose Mummy Christmas

Tell Me a Story: 250 Great Books for Kids

15:54 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I've recently been chatting to Grace Sandford, the author of 'Tell Me a Story: 250 Great Books for Kids', which is a book that recommend fifty great books across five age groups - from birth to early teens.

Tell Me a Story by Grace Sandford book

Grace is, above all, a mum and draws upon her experiences to form the bedrock of the book. She clearly has a passion for books and this shines through as you read. Each age group is broken down into lists, so in birth to two the categories include 'clever concept books' and 'perfect bedtime stories', whereas the early teens section includes 'must-read classics' and 'contemporary classics'.

The author is American so there are certain books that you may not be familiar but, having read through a few descriptions I might have to go hunting for them. It's refreshing to see a real mixture of books from victorian classics to brand new releases included and I was pleased to see how many of the books in the first two categories that we have accumulated already. I was a little surprised to see that 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' is recommended for age 3-5 year olds but the author's explanation for each title being included explains everything.

We love books and I think I will certainly refer back to this title in the future, especially as Bud and Little Miss get bigger and I am looking for ideas for more challenging reading material, or new series to get engrossed in. I think the paperback version of the book would make a more unusual gift for new parents who may not have a clue where to get started in selecting books for their little ones.

Tell Me a Story is available in paperback and for the Amazon Kindle and, if you're speedy, you can purchase it for the Kindle free of charge before the end of tomorrow, 21st November 2013. I would really recommend that you do.

Naty Eco Disposable Nappies - Review and Giveaway

23:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Little Miss wears disposable nappies and I do get concerned about the environmental impact of using them. I really liked the idea of using cloth nappies but never found myself in a position to set up with re-usables. Naty nappies are an eco alternative, to both traditional disposables and offer the same environmental impact as washable nappies.

Naty Eco Disposable Nappies Size 4

I've used Naty nappies before, with both children, but haven't tried them since Little Miss become more active and started cruising with the furniture and toddling more independently. I often find that a brand of nappies which works perfectly well for an infant may not work so well once your little one is on the move. We were sent a packet of 27 size 4 Naty nappies for Little Miss.

Naty nappies are:
  • Authentically green, they are made from 70% biodegradable, renewable and natural materials.
  • They contain a natural GM free cornstarch leakage barrier, which is as effective as plastic, yet allows baby’s skin to breathe, reducing the likelihood of nappy rash. It also keeps harmful bacteria and pathogens out.
  • Industry tests show they perform on a par with the leading brands in leak protection and dryness.
  • They are made from FSC and SSNC certified wood pulp.
  • They have a unique drainage system which reduces the need for high levels of Super Absorbent Polymer chemicals currently used in standard disposable nappies
  • They are recommended by Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association and are 100% chlorine and fragrance free.
  • They are at the same recommended retail price as the leading brands and are available from selected Tesco, Sainsbury, Boots, Mothercare, Waitrose stores and Ocado nationwide.
  • They can back up all their eco credentials (unlike some other high street brands claiming to be green).

Naty Disposable Nappies, size 4

We're now almost through our pack of Naty nappies and I'm pleased and impressed with the results. Little Miss is very active, constantly toddling and climbing and we've experienced no leakages. The nappies are absorbent and effective. She can suffer nappy rash from time to time and we've only had one instance of this using Naty, which has coincided with a heavy cold. The biodegradable plastic used feels soft and comfortable against my girl's skin and the elastic around the legs stretches gently but hugs to stop leakage. I'm very pleased with the nappies and confident in using them.

If you are interested to find out more about Naty, you can do so here.

I've teamed up with Naty to giveaway a week's supply of eco disposable nappies to one lucky winner. To be in with a chance of winning please complete the Rafflecopter widget below. The blog post comment is mandatory then there is the opportunity for you to receive bonus entries too. Please read the terms and conditions at the bottom. One winner will be selected who will win a week's supply of nappies in their choice of size.

Naty eco disposable nappies Size 1

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My Joules Christmas Wish List

13:40 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I've been searching through an awful lot of online retailers to tick off items on my Christmas shopping list recently. I love trawling through to find the perfect gifts for all of my loved ones, especially when it means I get time to look at my favourite online stores.

I've recently been browsing through and have found some beautiful gifts that I know would be just right.

For Red Rose Daddy:

Ian loves v-neck sweaters for work and this Retford V-Neck Sweater is the perfect colour for him as he loves blue. He could team it with a Hewney Shirt, Westby gloves and hat to look smart, and stay warm whether on the commute or at weekends.

Joules for Men Hewney Shirt Westby Gloves, hat and Retford Sweater

For Bud and Little Miss:

I really love Joules' childrenswear, their clothes are stylish, practical and are that little bit different from the usual high street ranges. This Kitty dress is wonderful and Little Miss would look amazing in it. It is dungaree style so will be perfect to layer over thick tights and a long sleeved t-shirt, like these Mirin tops, to keep her warm in winter. The gorgeous SlipsockG and SnapG slipper socks and gloves will keep her warm and toasty on the coldest of days.

Joules Kitty Dress Mirin t-shirts, Slipsock slipper socks and snap gloves for baby girl

As we've been redoing Bud's bedroom recently I've been browsing the Joules range of nightwear and Joules range of duvet covers. This Circus Duvet Cover set would provide a real pop of colour in his room, and the brightly coloured Raiden pyjamas and Roban dressing gown would make bedtime a super stylish affair. I'm a huge fan of Joules' wellies and this new 'Scary Fish' print pattern would be a big hit with Bud.

Joules Circus Duvet Cover set, Raiden pyjamas, Roban Dressing Gown and Scary Fish wellies for boys

And for me...

I couldn't resist picking out a few items that I love from the Joules range, just in case someone reading wants to know what I would like. I'm a huge fan of their dresses and this Leila dress would be perfect for staying comfortable, but stylish on Christmas day and all through the rest of the year. I love this beautiful Richmond Leather tote bag, it is a good size to ensure I can carry everything I need and looks great too. I think most mums find a cosy dressing gown really useful and the Rita robe, and navy slippersocks would keep me warm on winter mornings, or when I'm curled up on the sofa in the evening.

Joules Women Leila Dress Richmond Tote Rita Dressing gown and slipper socks

Are you a fan of Joules? Will you be visiting them for any Christmas shopping?

Brought to you in collaboration with Joules

Red Rose Mummy Christmas

Running the Gauntlet on the Nursery Run

10:03 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

8:20 dawns and Bud, Little Miss and I don our protective gear (coats, hats, gloves) and prepare to embark. Until September this year I was blissfully unaware of the daily struggle and drama parents and carers have to go through to get their children to nursery or school. Our nursery run takes around twenty minutes.We walk along local streets. I'd love to say that it was a pleasant walk, where Bud and I can chat about what will happen at nursery on the way there, and what he has been up to when we're on our way home. I'd love to but I can't.

Our twenty minute walk increasingly feels like a military assault course. Firstly there is the dog mess which carpets the pavements in our area. I have to check the wheels of the pram every time I get home. Thankfully we haven't had an incident for a while but a few weeks ago I had the fun job of attempting to clean Bud's shoe on the way to nursery without wipes or tissues. A great start to the day. I think our council have been cleaning the pavements recently, and we've had a bit more rain which has helped, still, I'd rather our council tax could be spent on essential services rather than cleaning up after lazy, irresponsible dog owners.

So, once we've safely navigated the deposits, the next obstacle is a huge building site which, in the council's wisdom has been created by the decision to dig up one of the green spaces in our area. This is probably another rant in itself but this was a favourite spot for children to play football and had many mature trees, all wiped out in favour of some new houses. The site office is across the street we have to walk down so a mass of mud, sand, building rubble and mess lies strewn across the pavements, great to push the pram over. There always seems to be some kind of plant vehicle leaving or entering the site just as we're walking past too.

We can usually arrive at nursery in one piece but that's when the fun really starts for me and LM. We walk past a primary school which starts slightly later than nursery so on our way home we hit the peak of drop-off time there. I can only assume that the average parent driving their children to school leaves their brain at home when they lock the front door as the way people park is, frankly, appalling. The roads around the school are narrow and on both sides are no parking at any time. Apparently that means 'no parking, except for me' to any parents taking their children there. Last week we were subjected to a car parked on the pavement across the street from the school. Not just two wheels, all four wheels were on the pavement. It was impossible to get past with the pushchair so I ended up crossing the street and trying to navigate against the flow of children trying to get into school. So much fun. This morning there was a car parked on the corner of the school driveway. I can only assume that the person driving had looked carefully to find the most inconvenient spot to leave their vehicle and parked accordingly. 

Added to this, our journey home takes us down a street which is being dug up, and the 'diversion' for pedestrians has clearly been constructed by someone with no sense of how people walk on pavements as it is virtually impossible for me to get the pram through it, which forces us into the road. The icing on the cake is that this will contribute further to the appalling condition of the pavements in our area which are so rutted and in such a poor state that I often get the pram wheels stuck. The final battle is with our neighbour, who has enormous hedges and still parks his car half on the pavement, leaving around a foot of space to get through. The pushchair is significantly wider than that so we're onto the road again.

I genuinely feel like it is a daily battle to get my children to and from nursery safely. It shouldn't be this hard, just a little consideration for others would greatly improve everyone's lives, well apart from those who might have to pick up a bit more dog poo or walk their children a little further to nursery but, hey, it's the greater good. The best part is that I get home at 9:05 and have to leave again at 11:15 to start it all again.

Back to the Moon for Good at the National Space Centre

00:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A few weeks ago we received a very exciting invitation, to visit somewhere that has been high on our 'to see' list for some time. The National Space Centre in Leicester is the home of the UK's largest planetarium, six exhibition galleries and an iconic rocket tower. It's a fascinating place, needless to say, my very speedy reply was 'yes, we'll be there.'

National Space Centre Leicester

We were invited along to the National Space Centre to see the world premiere of 'Back to the Moon for Good.' This is a film created to promote the Google Lunar xPrize which has been organised to encourage teams of scientists and explorers to look to the moon again, to push boundaries in exploration. The last lunar landing was before I was born but this hasn't stopped me growing up with an abiding fascination for space. I'm something of a science fiction nerd and I've always been interested in the space programme, following avidly during the Space Shuttle programme's development, through Mir and then the International Space Station, with the numerous exploratory rovers along the way. I've often wondered why no-one has returned to the moon, favouring orbiting the planet in space shuttles and stations instead, it seems that the Moon simply fell out of fashion. I think it's sad. Every child who first becomes interested in space looks up at our nearest neighbour and wonders what it is like up there, I don't think the average three year old, like Bud who is currently obsessed by space, wonders what it would be like to orbit the earth on the International Space Station.

Back to the Moon for Good Google xPrize Planetarium Film

Google have sponsored the largest incentivised prize in history. Privately funded teams will compete to land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface, then navigate it 500 metres on the surface whilst beaming back images, video and data back to the control centre back on Earth. It is amazing to think that the teams who successfully land on the moon will be the first to do so in more than forty years. The film is narrated by Tim Allen (yes, Buzz Lightyear is, very appropriately, on board) and features a 24 minute journey through the Apollo programmes and into the present day. Showcasing the teams who are competing against each other, it was wonderful to see the passion for both the Moon and exploration, demonstrated by them. The Planetarium dome is the perfect setting for the film, it is expansive and beautiful in the full 360 degrees setting.  If you don't get the chance to see it in a planetarium it will be available to all in 2D format through the website later.

Back to the Moon for Good Google xPrize Film at the National Space Centre Leicester Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium

We had plenty of time to explore the National Space Centre on our day there and I was very impressed. I do worry that Bud and Little Miss may not enjoy experiences like this, although both are very accustomed to visiting museums and galleries already. I'm often anxious to see if children of their age will be accommodated. I'm happy to say that we had a wonderful day. Bud was utterly enthralled by the exhibitions and galleries and it is clear that pre-school children have been thought about just as much as their older peers. There are dressing up stations, craft activities and life-size landing modules for children of all ages to explore, some of these are especially good for little children. I was so pleased that Bud managed to find some understanding of most of the installations, with help from us to explain it in three year old-friendly terms. With spaces themed around the planets, exploring the universe, going into space, orbiting earth, space now and the interactive Tranquillity Base, there is an exhibition for every interest.

Fun at the National Space Centre Leicester

It was especially lovely to meet up with some blogger friends and spend time with them and their children. Bud and Clearly Bex' Lewis got to become good friends over the Summer when they were still living in Lancashire but, now they have moved back to the Midlands, we don't get the opportunity to see them as often. The boys loved exploring the galleries together when they were reunited for the day, with the most exciting part being a 'real life rock from the Moon' on display in the Rocket Tower.

More fun at the National Space Centre Leicester

We had a really great day at the National Space Centre and it is somewhere I would love to revisit in the future. It was very easy to spend a full day there. I'd urge anyone with an interest in space, no matter how old they are, to try to check out 'Back to the Moon for Good', especially if you can see it in a Planetarium. We were enthralled by it, and the opening is incredible. Upon leaving the planetarium I immediately wanted to go and find out lots more about the prize. We were treated to a panel featuring the makers of the film and those participating in the prize and I think the whole room was fascinated, and excited, to learn that the first teams could be landing on the moon in 2015. I'll be following the Google xPrize avidly now, I'm a little disappointed that there isn't a British team to root for (although a team from the Isle of Man has merged with an Israeli team apparently) so I'm going to pick a team or two and follow their progress over the next couple of years. I'd urge anyone interested to do the same. I'm hoping my little stargazer will be as interested as I am.

Small Boy stargazing at the National Space Centre Leicester

Disclaimer: We attended the National Space Centre as their guests and received free admission, refreshments, lunch and a gift. All opinions are honest and my own.

Win Stargazing for Dummies with Forest Holidays

14:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I've always loved looking at the stars and used to long for a telescope in my childhood. I never got one though. Have you ever fancied yourself as a stargazer? Well if you and your family want to experience the delights of our universe in all its glory then you’ll need to find a truly dark location away from the glow of town or city lights.

Stargazing in the forest

That’s where Forest Holidays comes in, with eight sites across the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland via Sherwood Forest, their beautiful forest locations offer the inky darkness you’ll need for a night spent gazing at the stars. They have also produced their own month-by-month star charts for you and your family to download for free, with kits lists on what you’ll need to get started, your first five constellations to spot and some fascinating facts for young astronomers. These look really great and I can't wait to get out into the countryside and start using them with Bud.

January Sky Stargazing Chart

To help get you started Forest Holidays has given me two copies of ‘Stargazing for Dummies’ by astronomer Steve Owens to give away. All you have to do is answer the question below using the comments section (compulsory) then complete the Rafflecopter widget . The two closest guesses will be sent a copy of the book.

Stargazing for Dummies by Steve Owens

Best of luck and happy stargazing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Christmas Decorating - Inside and Outside

11:37 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

November is here already and my thoughts are turning to making sure our home is ready for the festive season and will look the very best it can in December. I love browsing online for beautiful decorations, both for our tree and our rooms, but this year my thoughts have turned to the outside of our home and I'm seriously considering buying something to make our front garden look magical too.

We have a square yard which is lined with hedges so we can't really have anything at floor level. Well, we could but no-one would see it which renders having it slightly pointless. I've been thinking about lights for the outside of our home, like these fantastic LED Icicle Lights from the Christmas Lighting range at White Stores. I think a two or three chains of these around our eaves or the canopy for our front door would look really festive.

White Stores Icicle Lights for Outdoors

Christmas decorations have moved on so much in the last few years and it is wonderful to see how people decorate their homes. I'd love to be able to go for something really dramatic in our front garden, like one of these LED Blossom Trees. The largest of these is 2.5 metres tall so would be a striking addition to any home, or garden and would make a wonderful alternative to a more traditional Christmas tree. I think they would work really well in a retail or gallery setting, especially somewhere with a very stylised design where a striking lighting installation would offer the Christmas feeling without compromising their aesthetic.

LED Light Christmas Tree

Of course, when you have small children around then they are usually a little less keen on sleek, modern design and rather more in favour of light up penguins, Father Christmases and reindeer. That's probably exactly as it should be. I think, whatever we decide to opt for, it will be great to add that touch of sparkle to the outside of our home this Christmas.

Do you decorate the outside of your home at Christmas? I'd love to know what you have planned for this year.

Brought to you in collaboration with White Stores.

Remembrance with Arthur Price and the Royal British Legion Women's Section

16:21 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Remembrance Sunday is an important day in our year. Red Rose Daddy is an Explorer Scout leader so the Sunday nearest to the 11th of November finds him on parade with his scouts and us in the crowd at our local war memorial joining with our local community to remember the fallen. I've written about my experiences before in this post - Remembrance - and it's one that I am most proud of.

When we were offered the opportunity to review a couple of items from Arthur Price's range of Remembrance items, sold in aid of the Royal British Legion Women's Section, I was keen to do so. The range, called 'Remember' is the first non-tableware range from Arthur Price since 2010 and offers a selection of items, each printed with a specially designed poppy print. Arthur Price have teamed up with Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen to create the range and it includes a tablet cover, tote bag, umbrella, mug and notebook.

Remenmbrance Range from Arthur Price and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen

I was sent the mug and umbrella and I've been very pleased with both items. They both feature the all over poppy print which I really like. It reminds me of the Arts and Crafts movement, and designers like William Morris and the amazing wallpapers they created. The design is carried around the mug and on to the handle with an accent of poppies inside the mug, as well as the word 'Remember'. I'm fairly fussy about mugs and I like one. It's a nice shape and feels good in my hand. It's especially good for a cup of herbal tea as the bright white inside makes the colour stand out well.

Arthur Price and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen Remembrance Mug

The umbrella is a ladies umbrella. It's a good size which easily covers me and Bud when we are out for a walk. The canopy measures 24" which is perfect for us. I was really impressed by the automatic mechanism for opening the umbrella. A square silver button sits on the handle and with one press, opens up the umbrella. No shaking or flicking to ensure it is properly opened, it just pops up. Great for when you are caught in a sudden shower. The umbrella features the same vibrant poppy print as the mug, with accents from the Arthur Price logo and that of the Royal British Legion Women's Section.

Arthur Price and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen Remembrance Ladies Umbrella

A proportion of the sales of all of the items will go towards the Royal British Legion Women's Section. This is a membership organisation for women which serves the serving, and ex-serving military community. Formed in 1921 the organisation continues to support thousands of men, women and children in the Armed Forces community through scholarships, annuities, family welfare breaks and direct grants. You can find out more information on their About Us page.

Please visit the Arthur Price website for more information on their range of products.

Disclosure: I was sent these items for review purposes and to publicise the charity campaign 

Baking With Kids and Pyrex Flexi Twist

11:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud loves to bake and it's a great fun way to while away an afternoon. Lot's of baking supplies for children can be more toy-like than for serious baking so when Pyrex sent us a couple of items from their fab Flexi Twist for Kids range, the most difficult decision was which to use first and what to bake.

The Pyrex Flexi Twist for Kids range is a bright, colourful range featuring numbers, Happy Birthday and circus themed designs. Every item has the reassuring Pyrex quality, with high grade silicone which can withstand temperatures of up to 240°C. All of the products are Bisphenol-free too which is reassuring for parents.

Pyrex Flexi Twist for Kids Moulds Cake Silicone Bakeware Children

We were sent the Numbers Cake Tray and the Circus Moulds Set. The Numbers Cake Tray is a large mould which has the numbers from 1-10 embossed in it. It makes a large, shallow cake which is perfect for tea parties. The Circus moulds feature a lion, clown and an elephant.

Bud is rather obsessed by muffins at the moment and these are his favourite thing to bake so we decided to give our usual muffin cases a rest and use the Circus moulds to make some larger muffins instead. We used a simple muffin recipe and Bud got busy stirring the mix. We half filled the moulds with our muffin mix then added the all important chocolate chips. I stood them in a baking tray to ensure that they were secure in the oven.

Pyrex Flexi Twist for Kids Circus Moulds Baking Bakeware Silicone

After twenty minutes our muffins were ready and we were very pleased with the results. They were shiny and glossy and looked very tempting. After a few minutes cooling in the moulds we simply turned them upside down and out they popped. You can see a textured area on each side of the mould, this is so you can firmly grip it and then twist it to remove it if needed, I had lightly greased the moulds so we didn't need to at all.

I was really impressed by how clear the detail was that each mould had embossed on to the muffin. They looked great, especially the clown mould and the fun design means that you don't need icing. If you do decide to ice then your children could follow the lines of the design to make it look really great.

Pyrex Flexi Twist for Kids Circus Moulds Finished Muffins Silicone Bakeware baking children

All we had left to do was taste them and we really weren't disappointed. The Pyrex Flexi Twist for Kids range gets a big thumbs up from us.

Three of my friends have also been reviewing the range, head over to ET Speaks From Home, In the Playroom and The Brick Castle to find out what they made of it.

Pyrex is a trademark of Corning Inc, used by permission.

If you would like to know more, please visit their:


Disclosure: We were sent these items for review purposes, all opinions are my own. 

Ideas for Christmas: Toys for Boys

01:17 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Building a healthy list of toys and gifts for your boy’s Christmas stash sooner rather than later will help you to stay organised, within budget and calm. Leaving things to the last minute, to make way for another payday or two, may seem like a sensible option, but as Christmas draws nearer the madness of Christmas shopping only intensifies!

Perhaps they’ve already given you a few ideas of what they’d like from Father Christmas this year, or maybe you’ve picked up on some things that he’s mentioned over the past few weeks. Making a start now will ensure that you can cross off some of those things on his list without overspending.

If he wants a big present, such as a bike or a tablet, make sure that you factor this into your budget so that any other presents don’t cost as much. Be wise with what you’re spending, shop around and keep an eye on the bargains!

The toy market for boys is massive and can be incredibly overwhelming. Here are a few ideas that may be up your little lad’s street.


Has your little one seen the advert on TV for the latest Imaginext Castle? Perhaps he loves playing with his knights and dragons, pretending to save the kingdom from an evil force. Whether the castle is his thing or he prefers other playsets, such as those incorporating superheroes or pirates, playsets and figures are a great addition to Santa’s stash.

Computer Games

Perfect for any rainy day, computer games have their place in most homes. Whatever console you all play, a new game or two for Christmas would go down a storm.

Outdoor Toys

Whether it’s a new football and pair of football boots or a shiny new scooter, outdoor toys are a must for most boys. Of course, the weather at this time of year doesn’t always allow play outside, but Christmas is a still perfect time to buy some new bits and pieces. Playing outside also helps to boost their energy levels too, while encouraging plenty of exercise – essential for growing boys! Wrap them up warm and encourage them to play out on the milder days of winter.


There’s nothing better than sitting down with your children to read a story or to listen as they read it to you. No matter how old they are, books are a great addition to any present pile. Sticker and activity books are usually a hit, too.

By planning your Christmas gift list now, you will be able to organise your spending and make sure that everything is ready (affordably so) by the time the big day arrives

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