Our Carcraft Lego Challenge

14:54 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Earlier this month we were sent a Lego kit by Carcraft and invited to come up with a story featuring it. We received the Lego High Speed Police Chase set.

Lego High Speed Police Car Chase

As soon as Red Rose Daddy saw the challenge he identified it as one that his Explorer Scout group would be interested in taking part in so I decided that they could have the brief. These are teenagers who are aged 14-18. None of them would ordinarily play with Lego but Ian thought it would be a good task for them. I set them the challenge of making a video showing a crime story and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

What came back was definitely entertaining and, apparently the product of a really fun evening. Ian says he will definitely be taking Lego to their meetings again as they worked well as a team and really enjoyed themselves with their creations.

I think that the final video owes a little to Breaking Bad and a few other police dramas. Hopefully you can follow the story through all the silliness.

A few of Ian's Explorer Scouts have already started on their driving journey and are thinking about their first cars already. They could do far worse than checking out Carcraft and their huge range of used cars. I just hope they drive better than the Police car in their video!

This is our entry into the Carcraft Lego Challenge.

Our Zack and Quack Party with Nick Jr and UKMums.tv

12:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We were very excited to be chosen as Zack and Quack Party Hosts with Nick Jr and UkMums.tv and I thought I would tell you what we got up to during our party.

Zack and Quack sent a huge box of party supplies including loads of junk modelling ideas and kit. Bud's eyes lit up when he saw this as he loves nothing more than getting the craft supplies out and creating.

We invited a few friends round for our party and got busy with the boxes, The children decided to make a project all together and quickly decided on a car. The oldest child at our party was five so I was really impressed with what they came up with and it was wonderful to see them working together as a team with no arguing or fighting.

Our Zack and Quack party junk modelled car

After the busy building time it was time to sit down and watch the double bill of Zack and Quack on Nick Jr. Zack and Quack is all about Zack and his best friend Quack, who live in an amazing pop up cardboard world. Zack uses papercraft creatively to solve any problems he comes across. The children tucked into their party food during the show and were utterly engrossed by Zack and Quack. I've never heard a party go so quiet! The favourite episode was the Dinosaur one but they also loved Zack's car creation, which Bud said was just like their model.

Watching Zack and Quack quietly!

After the show finished the children went back to their crafting and had fun decorating biscuits too and everyone was delighted to go home with a fab Nick Jr goodie bag.

Decorating biscuits at our Zack and Quack party

Zack and Quack is shown on Nick Jr on Friday afternoons at 4:30pm and you can find out all about it, and watch clips online at the Nick Jr Zack and Quack page. We've added it to our planner and haven't missed an episode!

Thanks to Nick Jr and UKMums.tv for supplying our party supplies.

Customise a Scooter with Handlebar Heroes

23:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last month I attended the annual Toy Fair in London, it was great to meet lots of my favourite toy brands and, also, see some companies that I hadn't come across before. One of these was Handlebar Heroes who provide the perfect way for children to funk up their bicycle or scooter - with the addition of a friendly horse's head!

As soon as I saw the horses, unicorns and dragons adorning the Handlebar Heroes stand I knew I had found a product that Bud would love. He loves animals and horses are amongst his favourites. The dragons are a new product coming soon but horses and unicorns are avaiilable in their website shop.

Handlebar Heroes Scooter Horse Head Fudge

The lovely Handlebar Heroes people gave me a horse to take home to Bud and find out what he thought of it. We received Fudge, a brown horse, with a white shock of hair. The Handlebar Hero is supplied flat, in a plastic bag, for home assembly. In addition to the main horse's head you also receive the eyes, a shock of white hair for the front of the mane, and three nose bands, with clips, so you can choose your favourite. We were warned during our chat of a few common mistakes that people make when assembling a Handlebar Hero:
  • Both eyes go in, the directions might only show one but you repeat for the other, apparently some people didn't work that one out!
  • The logo faces outwards at the back of the horse
  • Follow the instructions and assembly is quite straightforward!
I had to assemble our horse in a hurry as we were going out and Bud decided he must scoot and he must have his horse on there! I did find it a little tricky to assemble, mainly working out how it attaches to the main scooter stem. I did find it a little fiddly but managed it easily once I worked out how to thread the holes. I was really amazed by the design actually. The horse is made from foam and, if you're anything like me you'll me amazed at the ingenuity of the design and how, with just two press studs, two pins and a plastic tube, you can assemble a horse's head! This video shows the assembly much better than I could describe it. I'd really recommend you watch this before assembling, unless you like the challenge of working it out for yourself like me. I had the biggest grin after I got past the initial confusion with the design, the assembly was a pleasure and so clever.

I found it quite straightforward to attach the Handlebar Hero to Bud's scooter. It's worth pointing out though that, if you are attaching it to a bicycle, you need to ensure that the handlebars have a solid stem, and no gap in between it and the top bar. There's a video on the website to show this too, if you are struggling.

Assembly of Fudge Horse Scooter Head Handlebar Heroes

Bud loves his Handlebar Hero. He's been completely delighted with it since he first saw it. There are small things which make it great - the foam is water resistant so you can leave it attached and keep your scooter or bike outside. When Bud's scooter falls forward, instead of his horse taking a nose dive and squashing it's face, the head falls forward and lies flat on the floor looking upwards. Great design. At £9:95 they are pocket money prices really. We've had a few comments out and about asking us where we have got our Handlebar Hero from and saying how great they look. You only need to buy one as you can transfer it between scooter and bike if needed. Sadly Bud's bike has the wrong type of handlebars for this so his stays on his scooter. Handlebar Heroes will soon be selling shields to hang on your wall, meaning that children who are especially attached to their new friend can take the head off their bike and scooter and hang it on their wall instead of trying to take their scooter to bed with them.

Bud loves his Handlebar Hero Fudge Scooter Head

I'd definitely recommend Handlebar Heroes. The new dragons coming soon are absolutely fantastic, and the range offers something for all children with the horses, jousters and unicorns. You can even buy mini Handlebar Heroes, scaled down versions of the full size heads, which can be clipped elsewhere on your bike or scooter, on to bags or coats. They are super cute. 

The full size Handlebar Heroes start at £9:95, with the minis starting at £3:50. I think this is a reasonable price for a quirky customisation and one that children can really bond with and enjoy. You get free delivery if you buy two big heroes, or spend £18 too!

Disclaimer: We received this item in exchange for an honest review

The Ella's Kitchen Mini Incredible Edible Forest

17:57 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week I was invited to an event with Ella's Kitchen, we couldn't attend but I wanted to share the details of it with you. Ella's Kitchen have created the world's first toddler sized edible forest, made entirely of organic fruit and vegetables!

The edible forest has been created to launch Ella's Kitchen's new range of toddler meals. This will have six recipes which all feature at least five different fruits and vegetables! This video shows off the forest perfectly.

The edible forest was created by food artist Prudence Staite and features over 600 kilograms of fruit and vegetables, it took six people more than 460 hours to create! The forest stands at 1.8 metres high, perfectly scaled for toddlers, and aims to show them that food is fun, promoting sensory experiences with food for little ones should help them to eat their veggies! The forest enables little ones to help themselves with 23 different types of fruit and vegetables, from leek palm trees and bell pepper flowers to carrot hedgehogs!

Ella's Dad, Paul Lindley says:
“At Ella’s Kitchen, we think fruit and vegetables are healthy, delicious and most importantly, fun! That’s why we wanted to create an incredible edible experience designed to excite little ones’ senses and encourage them to try a whole host of yummy different tastes and textures. 
Our edible forest captures the excitement and adventure of discovering delicious new flavours, and we hope the mini taste explorers who visit the edible forest enjoy their scrummy healthy eating journey."

Sadly it's too late to check out the edible forest at the fantastic Horniman Museum but you can visit the Ella's Kitchen website for more information on their products..

The Andrex Washlets Word Challenge

23:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week Tots100 challenged me and Craig from A Day in the Dad's Life to take part in the Andrex Washlets Word Challenge. This involved us each taking sixty seconds to describe words to the other without using a list of 'forbidden' words, via the medium of Google+ hangout. Much more tricky than it sounds! Here's our video so you can see how we got on.

There is a serious message behind the challenge, in a recent survey of 2000 people Andrex Washlets found that 74% of them shy away from discussing difficult subjects, in fact they would rather discuss mental health or sex than their bathroom habits!

I'm not sure if women are better communicators than men. We talk a lot more but I think men get to the point more quickly. Craig and I scored the same so maybe that bears out in our challenge. At home Red Rose Daddy is a man of few words but does make his point effectively when he feels strongly about something, whereas I never shut up.

Who communicates best in your house?

Read With Me Scout from LeapFrog - A Review

16:22 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're huge fans of LeapFrog toys in our house. Ever since Bud was a baby we've been regular purchasers and the children have received several LeapFrog gifts too. Both Bud and Little Miss have a 'My Pal Scout' and they have been cherished toys. Recently we spotted 'Read With Me Scout' in a toy shop and we discussed getting it for LM's second birthday so, when LeapFrog contacted us to see if we would like to review him we jumped at the chance.

Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog

Read With Me Scout is a toy aimed at children aged two to five. He arrives with five accompanying books and aims to inspire and entertain young readers. He's an interactive toy which 'reads' the chosen book alongside your child. He has two modes, 'Story Time' where Scout reads the book and requires your child to interact with him - by patting his head at the end of each page - and 'Sleepy Time' which will read the story straight through and then play eight minutes of lullaby music. The perfect way to soothe your child off to sleep. You select the mode you require using the sliding switch on Scout's collar, then choose your book using one of the five numbered buttons, Each of these is coloured according to the colour of the title band on the same number book. A great way of promoting number recognition in the younger end of the intended age range.

Close up Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog

The five books all promote a particular area of learning, as follows:
Book 1 - Green - Let's Go Camping! - The Pattern Book, with rhymes, refrains and repetitions
Book 2 - Purple - Let's Find Scout's Toy! - The Narrative Book, with sequences, characters and settings
Book 3 - Blue - Let's Have a Party! - The Concept Book, with concepts to classify and label new information
Book 4 - Orange - Let's Cheer Up Eli! - The Rhyming Book, learning about the sounds of language and building phonlogical awareness
Book 5 - Red - Let's Learn About the Weather! - The Learn-About Book, revealing the word through reading and reinforcing that print carries meaning.

Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog Accompanying Books

The books are really lovely. We have the LeapFrog Tag Junior at home already and Bud is quite familiar with the concept and appearance of LeapFrog books, he took to them straight away and has been asking me to read them to him as well as Scout. The more active Story Time mode is great as he can follow Scout's instructions and really feels like he is reading the book alongside Scout. Scout constantly asks questions of him and it is really funny to listen to him chatting away to the little green dog. Bud has also discovered that he and Scout can 'read' to Little Miss with Scout and 'you sit there and I tell you a story with Scout' has become a regular occurrence in our house.

In addition to the controls on Scout's collar he has five other sensors - the star on his head, a heart on his cheek, a musical note and a bone on his paws and a spot on his back to pat. When in Story Time mode these all generate interactive comments, or music from Scout. I really loved the songs, all of them have some educational content, whether it's learning the colours of the books or talking about feelings, your child can learn while being entertained. In Sleepy Time mode only the paws work, one says goodnight and the other plays lullabies.

If I could find any fault with Read With Me Scout it is that you are limited to the five books that are supplied with the toy, it would be great if he was PC compatible like many of LeapFrog's range, enabling you to download extra content. That said, the five books supplied are great and I think they will keep children, especially those at the younger end of the intended age range, entertained for a long time.

Bud and Little Miss Playing With Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog

I really like LeapFrog's attention to promoting early literacy and I feel that Read With Me Scout sits really well in their range. It's great for two and three year olds, who might be ready to move on from My Pal Scout, and provides a really effective bridge between those younger toys and the more advanced options like the LeapReader and the LeapPad. Bud is loving this toy at the moment, I was quite surprised by this as I wondered if it might be slightly young for him, at nearly four, but the novelty of being able to go and entertain himself, or his sister, with a book is great. I'm really hoping to foster a passion for reading in my children and I can completely find a place for this toy in promoting those aims. Little Miss, at eighteen months, is already very interested in Read With Me Scout and I'm sure she will enjoy playing with him, and reading with him for a long time to come.  Scout enables a child to take ownership of their decision to sit and read a book, and to understand that it is a way to entertain themselves without relying on an adult to make sense of the words, I think that's a very valuable thing for children to learn as they start their literacy journey.

With an RRP of £29:99 I think that Read With Me Scout (or Read With Me Violet, his purple friend) is an excellent toy, especially if you were considering it for a child at the younger end of the age range. We are really enjoying it and I think both of my children will continue to do so.

Disclosure: We received this in exchange for an honest review.
We're going on an adventure

#SilentSunday #MySundayPhoto 23/2/14

20:38 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments


We're Going on a Barny Bear Hunt!

20:02 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

It seems like forever since we have managed to get outside into the fresh air, the relentless bad weather, coughs and colds have left us in full hibernation mode. One of our favourite indoor activities is sharing books together and a current favourite is 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen. Bud has been asking to go on a bear hunt for a while so this morning, we decided to ignore the drizzle and go and see if we could find any bears in our local country park.

LM and Bud ready for a bear hunt!

We took bread for the ducks, geese and swans that we knew we would see and headed off. As you can see from the above photo, LM was very tired and she was asleep almost before we left the garden! Bud scooted and walked with us down the big hill to the Lodges. Sadly it wasn't a beautifiul day, it was grey and drizzly, but it was lovely to get outside in the fresh air and blow away some cobwebs. We very quickly met some of the obstacles we were familiar with from the book though!

Crompton Lodges Bear Hunt

We walked for a while but didn't spot any bears so we decided to go and feed the birds. The ducks, swans and geese are quite well mannered but seemed hungry so we quickly managed to get rid of the bread we had taken down with us. Bud decided to ask our feathered friends if they had seen any bears but none of them could give us any tips.

Asking the bears if they have seen any bears!

After feeding the birds we decided to head away from the water and see if we had any more success. Then, suddenly, bears everywhere! Not big, ferocious, furry bears but small, silver foil wrapped tasty treats! Barny bears.

These bears were hiding in flowers, up trees and on logs. As soon as Bud spotted the first one he found it easy to spot the others and took great delight in stashing his finds in his rucksack. He's been very interested in photography recently and decided he wanted to take his camera with us 'to photograph the bears' but instead of taking his working camera he decided to take a toy as his Kiddizoom is 'too noisy; and he needed a quiet camera to avoid frightening the bears!

Photographing the bears on our bear hunt!

All the searching we had done was hungry work and we all needed a snack. Bud was very happy to try out the Barny cake bars that we had found. We've been sent a box each of the two new flavours in the range - Strawberry and Apple, to add to milk and chocolate. The bars are in a teddy bear shape, protected in their packaging by a cardboard sleeve which makes them great for lunchboxes. They don't contain any artificial colours or preservatives so they are a sweet treat with no nasties.

Trying Yummy Barny Strawberry Cake Bars

The cakes have been a huge hit with Bud and he says the hidden centre is 'like jam' and 'very yummy.' They are definitely the sort of snack I would give to my children as a treat. We really enjoyed our 'little adventure' with Barny and I think we'll be buying them for our treat cupboard in future.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Winter Little Adventures Challenge’ sponsored by Barny, individually wrapped bear-shaped sponges with a hidden filling. Find out more about Barny here

Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle - Review and Giveaway

22:38 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We love receiving books to review and recently had a very exciting delivery from Campbell Books, a newly relaunched imprint of Macmillan Children's Books. Inspired by, and featuring, the books of Rod Campbell (the writer of Dear Zoo and the Buster series of books) they publish books aimed at the youngest readers, pre-school children, with a view to giving them and their parents the perfect books to stimulate their imaginations and help them to learn.

We received 'Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle' which is described as 'a Counting Sound Book'. Axel Scheffler is immediately familiar as the illustrator of books like 'The Gruffalo' and 'Stick Man' with Julia Donaldson. We're huge fans of his artwork so I was sure that Bud would enjoy it.

Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle from Campbell Books Cover

The large board book is aimed at children aged three and over and features a sound bar along one side with six different sounds to press. As you read through the book you will see square symbols which match the illustrations on the sound bar and tell your child when to press each sound.

This book is essentially a number poem, and rythmically takes you through the jungle talking about each group of animals. I love to read rhyming books aloud and Bud and Little Miss always enjoy the rhythm of the words. I often find that Bud very quickly memorises books like this and can often hear him chanting the numbers to himself when he's playing.

It really is a beautifully illustrated book and each of the ten pages is packed with lively detail. The final double page recaps all of the animals and invites children to use the sound buttons or make their own noises for each one. The sound buttons are great fun, especially the monkey button as it plays a little theme tune for the whole book.

Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle from Campbell Books Close Up Detail

We have really enjoyed Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle. It's a really fun, engaging book which is a huge hit with Bud as he loves animals so much. He loves to look at the book on his own, and to have it read to him and, with the sound symbols, he can even show it to his little sister and press the correct buttons going through the book.

Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle from Campbell Books Reading with Daddy

If jungle animals aren't your favourite then there is also a Noisy Farm book to investigate.  I'm very impressed with out first experience of Campbell Books and we are looking forward to seeing what else is coming from the imprint this year.

Axel Scheffler's Noisy Jungle is available from all good book sellers, including  Amazon.

I've teamed up with them to give away five copies of this terrific book to my readers. To enter simply complete the rafflecopter widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a variety of additional optional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Win Tickets to the Baby and Toddler Show Manchester or Bluewater

17:59 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

The Baby and Toddler Show will take place in Manchester from 7th - 9th March 2014. The North West Show takes place at EventCity, next to the Trafford Centre. The show will then take place at Glow, Bluewater from 25th - 27th April 2014.

Offering everything a new parent needs, the show features over 150 brands, many of whom will be offering special show prices and discounts. The show is bump and baby friendly and features pushchair friendly access and baby changing facilities. There will be free expert advice workshops which will cover every aspect of parenting and aim to answer any concerns.

If you'd like to book tickets you can do so online at the Baby and Toddler Show website, The show have kindly offered me the following discount codes to my readers.

To save 33% on Bluewater tickets quote BWB31 at checkout
To save 25% on Manchester tickets quote NWB31 at chedckout

The Baby and Toddler Show have put together a fab video which shows the Autumn show in Manchester from last year:

I've teamed up with the Baby and Toddler Show to offer one of my readers the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the show, either in Manchester or at Bluewater. To enter. please complete the Rafflecopter widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock the opportunity to add additional optional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Spin 2 Win with Magazine.co.uk

11:52 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're huge fans of magazines in our house and Bud's favourite pocket money treat is choosing one of his favourite character magazines to enjoy. They are generally packed with fun, educational activities, stories, stickers and puzzles so I know that he is learning as well as enjoying them. When Magazines.co.uk got in touch to tell me about their fab new Spin 2 Win competition I knew I had to have a go, and tell you all about it!

Run through their Facebook page you will get five opportunities to win one of a great range of prizes. You simply spin to win. Prizes available include four Kindle Fires and money off vouchers ranging from £5 to £50 off magazine subscriptions.

Magazine.co.uk have a really broad selection of subscriptions available and I have my eye on the DC Super Friends magazine which we reviewed the launch issue of last year. Bud really enjoyed it but we've struggled to find it in our local shops so a subscription would be the perfect answer to that. Their range included women's, men's, children's and a variety of specific interest magazines. Why not take your opportunity to spin to win now on Facebook now?

Spin 2 Win with Magazines.co.uk

Disclaimer: I received a gift from Magazine.co.uk in exchange for sharing this promotion with you.

Valentine's Fun at Build a Bear

17:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last night, Bud, Little Miss and I headed to the intu Trafford Centre for a very important appointment. Build a Bear had invited us to celebrate Valentine's Day by going to choose a bear for each of the children and we were very excited!

Build a Bear Valentines Day

Bud has been talking about Build a Bear Workshop for ages, I think it is something he has heard about at nursery as he didn't really know what it was when I asked him more about it. When I told him we were on out way though he was delighted.

Upon arrival at the store at our designated time we were warmly greeted and introduced to Molly, who would be our guide through the process of building our bears. She asked the children's names and got them stickers to make sure she didn't forget them. We'd been asked to choose from the Valentine's range which is shown above, and very quickly Bud selected the pink elephant, while we went for the Pink Hearts Hello Kitty. I'm not entirely sure if this is officially a Valentine's bear but Molly told us that it was a limited edition and, with her all over hearts print, she is a perfect gift for a loved one.

Choices made we taken over to choose our hearts, sounds or scents. There is a wide selection of sound effects which are placed into the paw of your new friend. Bud went for one which says six different phrases and has very much enjoyed making his elephant talk. We decided to get a scented disc for LM's Kitty and choose strawberry from the five available. Bud operated the machine with our sales assistant to fill up both of  the toys.You can choose your level of filling and we went for medium for both. Then comes the heart ceremony. This is a special moment when the animal's heart is inserted and you bring it to life. Bud loved following all of the instructions with his heart and I was enlisted to carry out LM's as she was too busy trying to escape with her Kitty!

Building our bears at Build a Bear Workshop Scent Panel Heart Ceremony Stuffing

For the first three months of 2014 Build a Bear UK have teamed up with the Starlight Foundation and, for every photo of your new friend shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with #shareukbabwwishes, £1 will be donated to the charity You can also buy a limited edition purple satin heart for £1 which will be donated to the charity.

Both of our new friends had issues with their back stitching when the time came to fasten up the backs. This was quickly resolved by the sales assistant whisking them away to hand stitch them instead, while we browsed for clothing and accessories. We were slightly overwhelmed at this point! There are rails and rails of costumes, clothes, shoes and accessories for your bear. You can even get roller skates! The first thing Bud chose was a pair of red wellington boots, which reminded me very much of Paddington Bear's. I was rather taken by the Thor outfit, which was my favourite in their range of superhero costumes but, when Bud spotted a Woody from Toy Story outfit that was it. We were sold! We chose a really girly outfit for LM's new Kitty - a beautiful sparkly dress and glittery pink shoes. Both new friends even got a pair of underwear each.

Choosing clothes and accessories and registering our bears at Build a Bear Workshop

From there we went on to complete their birth certificates, this included naming them which was quite difficult, Bud just couldn't think of a name for his elephant and, in the end, came up with the name Joey. We weren't very imaginative naming LM's Kitty... Kitty! As soon as these were completed our animals came back to us, securely stitched. All that remained was to dress them up in our outfit choices and pop them in their boxes to take home.

We had a really lovely time at Build a Bear Workshop and the staff looked after us brilliantly. The animals we chose and their clothes and accessories are really excellent quality and I think we may be returning soon to buy additions to our animals' wardrobes. It is expensive compared to buying a pre-made bear but the choice available, and the amazing range of additional items to buy, plus the personalisation of the experience and how well we were looked after, mean that I am sure we will be back to Build a Bear to choose new pets at some point in the future. The clothes and accessories can be bought at pocket money prices so it needn't be an expensive shopping trip each time. I can totally understand why so many children that I know love shopping here so much. Thanks to Build a Bear Workshop Trafford Centre for looking after us so well, we had a lovely time!

Pink Elephant Hearts Hello Kitty Build a Bear Sparkly Dress Woody Outfit

Have you been to Build a Bear?

Disclaimer: We attended Build a Bear Workshop as their guests and were not asked to pay for our selections. All opinions are honest and unbiased.

We're going on an adventure

Celebrating Chinese New Year with hungryhouse

14:16 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I love Chinese New Year and we always try to do something to celebrate, even if it's something as simple as cooking a Chinese meal at home. When hungryhouse got in touch to ask if they could help us out with our celebration I didn't hesitate to say yes!

We were offered the opportunity to order something to make our celebration a bit more interesting, I really wanted to get Bud interested in the festival so I decided to get a picture book to share with him and Little Miss. I chose Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift the Flap book. This is a fab book with lots of engagement for Bud, he loves lifting up the flaps to see what lies beneath. It's a really colourful book and explains well all the different preparations that a family needs to make to celebrate the new year. We've very much enjoyed it together and it's been in constant rotation in our reading pile recently. Next I decided to start thinking about traditional Chinese toys and chose some Jianzi shuttlecocks to see what we made of them. Unfortunately this game, a sort of badminton played with the feet is definitely not an indoor game so Red Rose Daddy has decided to take them off to his Explorer Scouts meeting and see how they get on with the game! We also ordered some Chinese paper yoyos which Bud has really enjoyed playing with. 

Fun celebrating Chinese New Year

I really wanted to include Little Miss in the celebration so I ordered a Cheongsam for her. Sadly she has found it a little bit uncomfortable so her dolly is now wearing it. It's a shame as I loved the colours and print on the dress!

So, fun over, it was time to order food! Our first attempt took place last Saturday when, sadly, the hungryhouse website went down and stayed down until we gave up and raided the freezer. We decided to order last night and this time the whole process went very smoothly. I am assured by hungryhouse that Saturday's outage was a very rare occurence.

It was simple to register with the hungryhouse site and then log in, upon doing so I was presented with a list of takeaways, five of which offered Chinese food. The first on the list was one we have tried before but we decided to go for somewhere new. We ordered a mixed starter and two main course, alongside fried rice and noodles. It was really simple and straightforward to select what we wanted with the menu separated into starters, mains and sides, with the mains further divided by their main ingredient. The only thing I wasn't sure on was whether the main courses were supplied with a side dish or not as the website didn't say, I assumed not. Upon placing our order I received an email saying our order was pending, then a further one a few minutes later saying it was confirmed and our food would arrive at around 18:40, five minutes before that time our food arrived, well packaged and piping hot! The food was really excellent, definitely a cut above our usual Chinese takeaway haunt.

Yummy Chinese Food via hungryhouse

I'd definitely use hungryhouse again and I'm really pleased to find a new takeaway that we will definitely order from again. Little Miss got in on the action with a new found love of noodles too, she snaffled a few then shouted for more!

Finally Bud learned how to say happy new year in Cantonese.

We were supplied with a voucher for hungryhouse and Amazon for our celebration, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Win with Kaspersky Lab on Safer Internet Day

13:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today is Safer Internet Day and, as Bud gets older and shows more and more interest in using our various devices, keeping him safe online is something I've really started to think about.

Kaspersky Lab have carried out a study recently and the results are surprising:

  • 27% of parents believe their children have been exposed to some kind of online risk (by accessing inappropriate content or experiencing cyber bullying) in the last year
  • 22% of those parents admit to taking no action to govern their child's internet usage, on any device.
David Emm, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab says 
'Regardless of how their children are accessing the internet, parents must remain vigilant, supervise their internet use and consider parental control technologies. However, as a parent myself, I find these statistics particularly worrying when you consider the increasing number of children using connected smartphones today. After all, when children use mobile devices to access the web, they are using the same internet, with the same risks – yet parents are often not as aware of the dangers.
There is a common misconception that smartphones and tablets don’t need the same level of protection as a PC, but with such a high percentage of parents not having a clear view of their children’s online activity, this way of thinking needs to change. The internet is an incredible resource, both for social use and in an educational capacity. But in the same way as we would teach our children to cross the road safely, we must teach them to be aware of, and respect, the dangers of the internet. Just because a threat is out of sight, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep it front of mind.'
To help parents and their children to stay safe online David Emm has come up with the following tips:

  • Smartphones feature parental control, if you aren't sure where to find them then ask them to be demonstrated when you purchase the handset. Companies have a duty to ensure parents are aware of these and asking will create demand for the service.
  • Ensure that in-app purchasing is protected so your child can't rack up a huge bill with expensive add-ons
  • Install security software to ensure inappropriate content is filtered out
  • Ensure your children can ask about anything they see or experience online which doesn't feel right to them, if they know they can talk about it without being told off they won't be afraid to share their concerns with you
  • Cyber bullying is even more of an issue with smartphones as children tend to have them with them all day long and use them away from parental supervision more. Encourage your children to talk to you if they are feeling threatened, certain apps and websites can be blocked to protect them further.
  • Look for sites that help you to use the internet safely - http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ - is a good example. By reading together you might be able to pre-empt issues before they become a real problem.
I definitely think I have a lot to think about before Bud and LM start to use their own devices, they are still at the age where all internet access is supervised but, like anything else, I want to teach my children to use the internet safely.

Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device

I've teamed up with Kaspersky Lab to offer one of my readers the opportunity to win a copy of their multi-device version of Kaspersky Internet Security which allows you to protect all of your family's devices - be they PCs, Macs, Tablets or Smartphones - on one single license.

To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a variety of optional, additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Celebrate Valentine's Day with Home Bargains

23:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I make no secret of my affection for Home Bargains, we have a branch near our home which I frequent regularly and I've found some terrific items in there over the years. From gardening, through health and beauty, to toys and food, there's always something to catch the eye and spend your pennies on! When Home Bargains got in touch to offer me the opportunity to review some of their Valentine's Day gifts I was really pleased to accept.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with Home Bargains

Home Bargains always have a great range to support holidays throughout the year and Valentine's Day is no exception. My local store currently has a large display with everything you could need to celebrate with your loved one. I was sent a selection of the range and received a teddy bear, chocolate rose, a net of foil covered heart-shaped chocolates, two crackers and a mini heart frying pan. They are all inexpensive items, with the most expensive item - the bear costing just £1:99 - clearly showing that you can celebrate on a budget!

Home Bargains Valentine's Teddy Bear and heart shaped frying pan

The first two items we looked at were the teddy bear and the heart shaped frying pan. The teddy bear is a lovely little chap with his red gingham ribbon and red gingham heart. He's beautifully soft and snuggly and is the perfect size to tuck into a gift bag. Little Miss is very taken with our new little bear and has stashed him in her toy pram, a position of high favour! He is lovely quality and a really sweet little gift, an absolute bargain at £1:99!

I've seen heart shaped frying pans on many online retailers and some of them cost a lot of money! The Home Bargains version is just £1:49 and comes packaged in red cardboard. I'm not sure it's actually something you would buy as a gift, you'd probably buy it and cook eggs, or pancakes in it as a surprise for your loved one. The pan is non stick and also has a heart embossed in the base of it which will add a little extra detail. I think that it is a really sweet way of making aValentine's Day breakfast very special. 

Home Bargains Valentine's Day Heart Shaped and Rose Chocolates

Our next two items were both sweet treats - a chocolate rose (79p) and a net of red foil covered chocolate hearts. Both of them show the Home Bargains Valentine's range packaging beautifully with their cute little messages. The rose is a hollow chocolate and, at first glance, you might take it as a fabric rose. It's presented in a plastic tube, just like a single red rose should be and you simply detach the rose's head and unwrap the foil to get to the chocolate. The net of chocolate hearts reminds me of the gold coins you get at Christmas, its a fun Valentine's take on that idea. The hearts are about the size of a ten pence coin and there are around twenty in each bag. You could share them with your loved one, or even use them to decorate a cake or a dessert, or just keep them all for yourself! 

Home Bargains Valentine's Day Kiss and Tell Crackers

The last item is really fun, two cardboard 'Kiss and Tell' crackers which contain a red paper hat, IOU coupon and some red foil hearts. If you were clever you could gently remove the coupon and fill it out before you give it to your loved one to pull the cracker. These are just 79p, and will add a touch of fun to your Valentine's Day.

I'm very impressed with the budget range of Valentine's gifts. I think that the teddy bear and chocolates would be great gifts for teenagers to buy for that special someone, just a sweet little way to say they are thinking of them. You could purchase any of these gifts and add them on to your Valentine's gift, or just pop a couple of them in a cute gift bag, perfect if you don't usually buy gifts or don't have much to spend. I've already spotted that there is a wider range in store, along side a selection of cards too. Home Bargains is definitely worth checking out this Valentine's Day!

We were sent these items in exchange for an honest review.

Kick A Bad Habit and Save Money!

12:26 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're always looking to save money and, with home improvements and a holiday being planned this year, it seems likely that we will have to find a few more areas to cut back in. Sometimes it can be really easy to make a few cuts in some areas and, without really noticing, save a few pennies. I've recently been lucky enough to win a fab new coffee machine which even steams the milk and I'm already noticing that I am spending much less in Costa and Starbucks.

When Leeds Building Society got in touch to tell me about their 'Kick My Habits' campaign I was really intrigued. It invites you to examine how much you spend on eight key areas:
  • Takeaways
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Partying
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Lunches out
  • Technology
  • Evenings out
You simply input your average weekly spend on the above categories and the handy tool calculates your potential saving, if you cut out your bad habits. Obviously no-one is going to cut out all of their bad habits at one go, we all need to have some pleasure but it's an interesting way to see just how your expenditure mounts up. My main vice is lunches out, I probably spend around £10 per week on those but I do try to make use of special offers and money off coupons where possible to try and keep that as low as I can. Having two small children means that we don't get to go out and party, or anything at all really, so that's an easy saving for us. My average expenditure was £44 a week, which surprised me somewhat! I think I'll definitely be looking at ways to make that a little lower, even if I don't manage to save the full £2288 that the tool says would be in my bank account if I reduced it to zero.

Why not click below to have a look at what you spend, and see how much you can save. I'd love to hear if you plan on making any changes as a result!

Kick My Habits Interactive Tool from Leeds Building Society

Kick My Habits in collaboration with Leeds Building Society

Mighty Moments with Plum Baby

22:39 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Little Miss is a real livewire at the moment, she turned seventeen months old today and is a bundle of energy, dashing around the house playing with anything she can get her hands on. I'm always impressed by the length of time she will sit and enjoy a task, she has much more focus and attention than her brother ever did at that age! Today we were at her grandparents' house and she had so much fun building towers with Grandma. I love how excited and pleased with herself she is when we praise her for her cleverness!

I'm sharing this video as part of the #MightyMoments challenge which has just been launched by Plum Baby, in conjunction with the Tots 100. Plum Baby have launched 'Mighty 4' which is a brand new organic snack for toddlers - even those fussy eaters - and is the first snack to include all of the four food groups of fruit, vegetables, dairy and ancient grains. With three delicious flavour combinations - Blackberry, quinoa, carrot and Greek-style yogurt, Sweet potato, blueberry, millet and Greek-style yogurt and Kale, strawberry, amaranth and Greek-style yogurt (all 12m+) - they sound really tasty. I'm sure LM would enjoy them.

To celebrate the launch, Plum Baby are planning to make a film showing your toddlers' Mighty Moments. Whether they are displaying their skills - like my girl's tower building - charging around, singing, dancing or doing anything else, from waking up to falling asleep, Plum want to see your toddlers' shine. For full details of how to enter, and to confirm your participation, please see the competition page at Tots 100.The first 50 bloggers to fill out the form there will receive a small gift from Plum for taking part. There are some fantastic prizes to be won, including the chance for your child to be the star of the Plum Baby #MightyMoments campaign film, and £200 of Early Learning Centre/Mothercare vouchers for the best video. You can also 'like' the Plum Baby Facebook Page to keep up to date with all of  their news.

Brought to you in collaboration with Tots 100 and Plum Baby.

We are Zack and Quack Party Hosts!

12:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

You may have noticed a bright new badge blinking away on my sidebar. I'm really excited to tell you that I've teamed up with UKMums.TV to host a Zack & Quack party tomorrow, Friday 7th February. The party will also take place on Twitter, follow @UKMumsTV@NickJRUK and @RedRoseMummy and #zackandquack between 3:45pm and 5:45pm to join in the party and have a chance to win some great prizes!


Zack & Quack is a brand new show premiering on Nick JR on Friday 7th February at 4:30pm. Nick Jr is available on Sky channel  165, Virgin channel 715, through BT Vision and on TalkTalk channel 318. The show takes place in a magical cardboard pop up world which Zack uses creatively to solve any problems he comes across. The premiere will feature two episodes - Pop Up Speedway then Pop a Saurus Rex. I know Bud will be really excited to see cardboard dinosaurs in the second one!

It sounds like Zack & Quack will offer a really unique approach to crafting with children and I'm hoping that it is going to give us lots of new and different ideas for creative play. It should offer some ways to play and make with paper and cardboard that we haven't come across before.

We've received a huge box full of craft supplies to get junk modelling and crafting during the party and have been saving our empty pots and tubes to help us out with this. We're sure we will have lots of fun during the party and I really hope we see you there too!

Friday 7th February 2014
3:45 - 5:45pm
Find out more here

Dear Matilda Mae

22:14 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Dear Matilda Mae

I can't believe a year has passed since we got the most unexpected news. News that took the breath from my body. Forcing me to sit. That brought tears, and grief. For a baby I had never met but one that I felt that I knew. A beautiful blog baby whose life was shared with the world by her amazing Mummy.

I knew you before you were born Matilda Mae. You were your parent's miracle baby and I discovered your Mummy's blog as you became Matilda, I still remember reading the post in which your Mummy announced that your name would be Matilda Mae. Her writing, her anticipation and excitement for your arrival were shared with the world. When I stepped away from the blogging community then found my way back, your story was one I was keen to see and I was delighted by the photos your Mummy posted of her brown-eyed girl. We all embarked on the friendly Graco Evo competition and it was an opportunity for me to really chat with your Mummy, yes, much of it was about red changing bags and footmuffs but, again, I felt like I got to know you even more.

Then, that night. A year ago. The impossible news that that you were gone. An ache in so many hearts for your loss. There's been so much I have wanted to say to your Mummy since that moment, so many tweets and messages deleted as I can't find the words. I want you to know that your Mummy has taken my breath away this year Matilda Mae, she is an inspiration to me and to so many others. Even in the face of your unimaginable loss she has fought and worked to make your life important, not just to everyone who knew you even a small amount, but to the wider world and, hopefully, to the mummies and daddies who may never know your name but will benefit from your legacy - through Bliss and the Lullaby Trust. She is a phenomenon, a force of nature. I wish she didn't have to be.

Baby Tilda, we've seen you in every star, every bubble and every rainbow this year. We've splashed in the rain on your Welly Walk and supported bloggers leaping from a plane, screaming your name. Your name has moved mountains this year baby girl. 

I've just been outside and the stars are shining so brightly for you tonight. I often turn to music to express my feelings when I can't find the words. There's a song which often makes me think of you and your beautiful family and I've heard two versions of it today, I think you might have sent them.

Sleep well beautiful star of the sea. You are truly loved and dearly missed


Letters for Matilda Mae