Easy Peasy Cheesey Waffle Pizzas - #AfterSchoolChefs

20:44 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Since Bud started school nearly a month ago I've noticed a drastic difference in his appetite at home. He arrives back in the afternoon starving! And he wants food, right now! It can be hard trying to come up with inventive, healthy options for a ravenous four year old, who can also be a fussy eater, that can be cooked in the time needed to assuage his hunger but I think I may have an answer.

Bud after his first day at school

Bud is never happier than when he is helping in the kitchen. He loves assisting with food preparation and is always very proud of himself when we eat something he has had a hand in getting ready. My idea for a quick and easy after school tea lets your children help you to create it and then enjoy the fruits of their labour afterwards. A few titbits from the preparation and concentrating on preparing might help to distract from Bud's 'rumbly tumbly' too!

Easy Peasy Cheesy Waffle Pizzas

These are one of those great snacks or teas that can use up anything in the fridge. The only essentials are the waffles, and the cheese. You can tailor your Waffle Pizzas to what your children like and what needs using up.

For our Easy Peasy Cheesy Waffle Pizzas we used:
(Makes 4)

4 Bird's Eye Potato Waffles
4 slices of thin ham, shredded.
2 tbsps of Bird's Eye Frozen Sweetcorn
1/2 pepper diced
100g Grated Cheese

Easy Peasy Cheesey Waffle Pizzas - #AfterSchoolChefs


1. Cook the potato waffles according to the instructions.

2. Sprinkle your toppings on each waffle.

3. Top with grated cheese

Easy Peasy Cheesey Waffle Pizzas - #AfterSchoolChefs

4. Place under a hot grill until the cheese melts and bubbles.

Easy Peasy Cheesey Waffle Pizzas - #AfterSchoolChefs

Serve one waffle pizza as a snack or two with baked beans as a yummy tea!

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page http://bit.ly/afterschoolchefs

Disclosure: We received Bird's Eye vouchers to help with this post

Philips Hangout and My Den Competition

14:43 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Den building is an evergreen activity in our house. Bud loves to enlist his Daddy's help in building a den in whichever room takes his fancy. Weekends see them off creating some rather elaborate creations to hide out in, read books and play games. Lighting is always crucial, you can't have fun in your den if it's too dark! Philips Lighting have sent us the perfect lighting solution - a SoftPal Sully from the Philips Disney Monsters Inc range.

Den Building fun

Philips have launched a competition to find the best den builders using whichever tools you have to hand - blankets, cushions, pegs, boxes etc. Video it, take a photo or even draw a den and post it via Twitter or Philips Facebook using the hashtag #MyDen to enter the competition. Read the terms and conditions here: http://philips.to/1olsVqR. There are lots of fantastic prizes up for grabs!

Some of our favourite den building materials include blankets, a clothes horse, Bud's bookcases and ropes (you can tell Red Rose Daddy is a Scout Leader). You can even buy den building kits though now, if you don't spend your spare time building bivouacs like Ian does! Snacks, books and favourite toys are always essential when taking up residence in your den. Sometimes even little Sisters are invited in!

Den Building fun

Bud's  SoftPal Sully new is a perfect light for in a den. He's cordless so you can remove him from his charging stand and put him in the den with you, without worrying about trailing leads. He has an LED light inside which means that he doesn't get hot and your child can simply squeeze or tilt him to turn him on and off. He would make the perfect nightlight for a little one too. If his light starts to fade simply pop Sully back on his charging station.

Philips SoftPal Sully

I think den building is a great learning activity for children, allowing them to explore cause and effect, construction on a larger scale than that afforded by the usual construction toys and creativity too. It's also lots of fun and allows children to create a space that is truly their own.

Philips  SoftPal Sully

On Tuesday 30th September at 11:00am, I will be taking part in a live Google+ Hangout discussing den building and lighting. The hangout will be led by Britmums and will feature a number of bloggers and Lighting Designer, Tim Meaker who will be sharing lots of tips and ideas for den building and creatively using lighting to make your children's bedrooms more inspiring. You can watch LIVE on the BritMums G+ page (www.google.com/+BritMums) and message them your questions and comments.

The G+ hangout is sponsored by Philips Lighting and highlights their Philips and Disney Imaginative Lighting range, that children can use in their rooms…or dens. The Disney-themed lights were designed to inspire your little heroes’ creativity, projecting a world of light around them, lighting up their dens and play spaces.

I hope you will be able to watch the hangout!

Disclosure: We received the SoftPal Sully to help with this post

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Autumn Arrives

12:14 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Brrrr, there's a real nip in the air here and the coats are on for the morning school run here. We're ploughing on with the days out though and went to Southport Air Show on Sunday. I wasn't expecting sunburn in September but my face definitely showed the after effects of a glorious day by the coast on Monday!

Last week saw some fabulous events linked up, I'd love to feature them all! I'm actually going to choose the more 'grown up' events though and share Juggle Mum's account of the 40th birthday treat to end them all! Nadine's husband treated her to afternoon tea on board the Orient Express and they both looked fabulous, while enjoying some stunning Mad Hatter's Tea Party themed treats. It looks a completely wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Happy Birthday Nadine!

My second choice is Shannonagains' (great name!) write up of the blogger meet up at Benihana. This is one of those that make me wish I could live nearer to London as Benihana has been on my 'to eat' list for quite a while! It was a family friendly event but I think this would be a great place for a big, grown up night out too. Have I mentioned how much I love Japanese food lately? They definitely need to open a Benihana up North, it would be a fantastic addition to the Manchester restaurant scene.

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, holiday or days out plans, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Plan Toys Mini Golf Single Set from Great Gizmos

20:25 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're huge fans of wooden toys in our house and have quite a collection. I like the tactile, educational benefits of them and the children enjoy playing with them very much. Recently we received the Mini Golf Single Set from Plan Toys, as sold by Great Gizmos. We have a few Plan Toys here and I'm always impressed with their innovative designs and quality so I was interested to see what their take on a golf set would be.

Plan Toys Mini Golf Single Set from Great Gizmos

The set arrives in a long thin box which opens to reveal a cotton drawstring bag, wooden golf club. two tracks to hit your golf ball over, a hole, with flag (which pops into a small hole on this) and a wooden ball. Every piece is beautifully decorated and the golf club shows the Plan Toys branding.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie - Combat Warrior Raphael

17:56 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud is a huge TMNT fan. He loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they are all he wants for Christmas this year. His favourite turtle changes by the day but recently he has been loving Raphael so it was very timely when we received Combat Warrior Raphael from Flair's range of toys released in conjunction with the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie which was out this Summer.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie - Combat Warrior Raphael

What We Did On Our Holiday

11:17 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This week sees the release of a brand new British comedy. Starring the rather fantastic David Tennant alongside Rosamund Pike and Billy Connolly, 'What We Did On Our Holiday' is the new film from the creators of the BBC's hit family comedy Outnumbered.

The film sees Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) road tripping to Scotland to celebrate Doug's father Gordi's (Billy Connolly) birthday, accompanied by their three gorgeous, and very funny children. Described as 'funny, honest and uplifting' the film sounds like the perfect anecdote to the 'back to school blues'.

What's Happened? What's Happening? - September Fun

10:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

September continues and it seems that everyone is back at school now, and most of the brand new reception children have started too. Now Bud is in school we're really keen to make the most of our time together by planning fun things to do every weekend. We aren't necessarily booking full days out in but are planning a few, alongside trips to the cinema and swimming and time at home to rest. I'm sure there will be lots of fun activities in the run up to Christmas (am I allowed to say that word now the children are back at school?) too.

Last week the back to school WHWH did really well with some fabulous events linked up. This is Life had fun in the snow at Chill Factore this is one of our favorite local spots for fun together. We're Going on an Adventure took the whole family off to York Races, can you believe I used to live five minutes walk away from York Racecourse but I've never been? Special mention for an adorable photo of one of my favourite blog babies in her Beco Solelil back carry too! The Adventures of Jack Jack went to RAF Coningsby, which happens to be one of my Dad's favourite places. He's aeroplane crazy and regularly visits and has loved seeing the Three Lancasters this Summer so I'll be sending him the link to this post. I'd love to visit some day, it's definitely on our list.

What's Happening? is rather quiet at the moment, I guess people aren't planning so much at the moment. I'm hoping this will pick up in the run up to Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, Clearly Bex shared details of the cBeebies Christmas Panto ticket ballot. We've applied and I have my fingers very tightly crossed! Manchester Mummy shared details of the forthcoming Ramsbottom Festival, this is local to us but I always seem to forget about it. With appearances from The Levellers and Soul II Soul I really wish I could make it this year!

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, holiday or days out plans, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Mike the Knight - Journey to Dragon Mountain at Warwick Castle

14:56 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last Saturday we got up very early and headed down the M6 towards Warwick for a very exciting day out! We're a house full of Mike the Knight fans so were already excited about Mike the Knight - Journey to Dragon Mountain - the opportunity to go and see a special screening of Mike's first feature-length adventure, meet Mike and one of the dragons and explore Warwick Castle was too good to be missed!

Mike the Knight logo

We arrived to be welcomed by a Mike the Knight themed tea party with jam tarts to enjoy and then went in to see the film. Journey to Dragon Mountain lasts around an hour and I think it kept the whole audience interested. Bud was glued to it as were most of the other children, and the grown ups too!

Mike the Knight Journey to Dragon Mountain

Glendragon is in danger! When the King returns from faraway lands, he discovers that the Vikings have stolen a treasured crystal jewel from the dragon of Dragon Mountain. It is the King’s mission to return the jewel and Mike’s job to help him. The King, Mike and Evie form “Team Family Glendragon” and soon find themselves on an epic quest filled with dangerous obstacles from meddlesome gargoyles to giant dragons!

We all really enjoyed the film. I'm a bit of an Alexander Armstrong fan and I love that he voices the often absent King of Glendragon. It was great to see him feature so much in Journey to Dragon Mountain and for Mike and Evie to go off on an adventure with him for a change. Bud's favourites Squirt and Sparkie have a big role to play with Squirt in particular having his own plotline and happy ending. The Vikings and Gargoyle (my favourite) also appear throughout, our only disappointment was that Trollee and his family were nowhere to be seen!

Mike the Knight Journey to Dragon Mountain

After our special screening we went into the Castle grounds and had the opportunity to meet Mike the Knight, Evie and one of the dragons! If you visit Warwick Castle over the next two weekends and you're brave enough to pose for a selfie with the giant dragon you could win some great prizes! Simply upload the photo on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #DragonSelfie to be in with a chance of winning! Bud loved meeting Mike but LM was less impressed, here's our #DragonSelfie.

Mike the Knight #DragonSelfie at Warwick Castle

In addition to Mike's appearances you can also try your hand at various knightly activities including:
Galahad’s Gallop
Jester Zone
Build Glendragon Castle
The Blacksmith’s Horse Shy
Colour and Craft Tent
Target Test
Sparkie and Squirt's Egg Hunt
Evie's Wizard Workshop

These were so much fun and both LM and Bud really enjoyed taking part in the activities. Our favourite was Galahad's Gallop where you could race hobby horses in pairs. Bud was delighted to beat his Daddy!

Warwick Castle Mike the Knight activities

As the day progressed we watched some of the scheduled activities around the Castle, including an exceptional Birds of Prey demonstration and the awe inspiring Trebuchet demonstration. The latter was my favourite part of the day and the whole experience really engaged the audience while educating too.

Warwick Castle Trebuchet Demonstration

Warwick Castle is a fantastic day out and we really enjoyed our day with Mike the Knight there. I think Journey to Dragon Mountain is a must buy for any little Mike and Evie fans and I can imagine it will find it's way into a lot of stockings this Christmas. It'is available from all usual stockists and Amazon where it is currently just £5).

Disclosure: We were invited to visit Warwick Castle as the guests of the Mike the Knight team and supplied with free entry and a goodie bag.

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Schleich Dinosaurs

21:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud loves Dinosaurs. At four and a half he knows endless facts about them and his dinosaur books and toys occupy a fair amount of his playtime. When the opportunity came for us to review some amazing dinosaurs from Schleich's new range we were very excited!

Schleich Dinosaurs

We received seven dinosaurs from the range and they arrived on Bud's first day of school! He was so happy to see them, they were the icing on the cake that day. As he pulled each dinosaur from the parcel he was able to name most of them straight away. The box contained:

Schleich Dinosaurs

Bud recognised all of the dinosaurs apart from Therizinosaurus and Quetzalcoatlus (he just called this one a Pterodactyl, which allowed us to talk about pterasaurs being the name for flying lizards, not dinosaurs, again). He was slightly confused by the presence of two T-Rex dinosaurs but quickly decided that one was the Mummy and the other was the Daddy. We went to look up the 'new' dinosaurs in his big book and find out whether they are meat-eaters or plant-eaters which is always Bud's first question about an unfamiliar dinosaur. We found out that Therizinosaurus is thought to have been omniverous and Quetzalcoatlus ate fish, in case you are wondering!

Schleich Dinosaurs

I loved the opportunity to expand Bud's dino knowledge with the inclusion of less well known dinosaurs into the range. We probably would never have come across Therizinosaurus and Quetzalcoatlus without Schleich making models of them and it's always exciting to discover a new dinosaur (or pterasaur) together.

Schleich Dinosaurs

Since the dinosaurs arrived they have been used in the sand pit, water table and inside the house. Using them in sand gives the opportunity to make great dinoaur footprints! They are sturdy and up to small hands exploring them and playing actively with them. These are great, some have moving jaws and limbs. They are incredibly tactile and Bud has really enjoyed exploring them and talking about the sharp teeth, claws, colour of the skin and the size of the dinosaurs. They are a great toy to support a child's interest in dinosaurs and one that really helps them to learn. Bud has great fun making up stories featuring his dinosaurs and they lend themselves brilliantly to imaginative play.

Schleich Dinosaurs

Schleich make amazing models and these dinosaurs are no exception. They are exceptionally detailed and beautifully coloured. Those that Bud knew were easy to recognise as the models are so good. They are more expensive than a lot of the dinosaur toys you will see in the shops but, for a dinosaur enthusiast, I think it is well worth paying for them. They are available for pocket money prices though, it's just that pocket money will buy one dinosaur, rather than a bag of lesser lizards. These are real heirloom toys. I can imagine putting them away in the attic and getting them out for my grandchildren in the future. Dinosaurs are a timeless toy and these definitely match that.

Bud has been completely delighted by his new dinosaurs and says that they are his favourite toy quite frequently. He's had to be dissuaded from taking any number of them to bed with him on several occasions. I can't recommend them highly enough for any little dinosaur fan.

Schleich Dinosaurs are suitable for children aged from three years upwards and are available from all usual stockists, including Amazon.

Disclosure: We received the dinosaurs for review purposes

Mummy of Two

cBeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge - Review and Giveaway

13:50 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're huge fans of cBeebies in our house and the fun, yellow Squidge mascots are a definite hit. Golden Bear Toys have launched a new range of cBeebies Bugs toys and we received Sweet Dreams with Squidge for LM to try out recently.

Golden Bear Toys cBeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge

The cBeebies Bedtime Song is an institution in homes across the country as parents use the 'Bedtime Hour' to settle their children a part of the evening routine. This makes the idea of Sweet Dreams with Squidge inspired. The toy is in the familiar shape of Squidge, complete with night cap ready for bed. He's quite large and, as well as his facial features, has a stars pattern on his bottom right. Pressing the largest of these stars plays the full cBeebies Bedtime Song, accompanied by slowly flashing lights at his base. Press the star again and the music will stop.

Golden Bear Toys cBeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge

The music plays quite loudly but this isn't a toy that goes on and on, it plays through once and then stops. Sweet Dreams with Squidge is now an essential part of LM's bedtime routine. We kiss and cuddle her and place her in her cot, we then switch on her nightlight and press the star to set Squidge off playing, say goodnight and leave the room. On most nights one play through is enough and she will go to sleep after the song finishes but, but on other evenings, she will press the star herself to play the song a few times before she is ready to go to sleep. Before we had Sweet Dreams with Squidge she would probably have started crying at this stage but now she is quite happy to use the toy as part of her self-settling routine. 

The tune is quite loud when it plays but I don't think this matters as it does play for a short period. Sometimes we will hear it in the middle of the night and it's a sign that she has woken up, found Squidge and then drifted off again. Obviously this routine won't work for every child but, for LM, who has always been an excellent sleeper, it works brilliantly. We did have a few problems settling her for a while over the Summer but a new nightlight and Sweet Dreams with Squidge mean those are a thing of the past.

Golden Bear Toys cBeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge
Aaaah Squidge!

cBeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge is aimed at children aged ten months upwards, which I think is a perfect age range for the toy. It's the sort of age when bedtime routines can really become established and you could use Squidge as part of it. He requires three AAA batteries which are included. The RRP is £19:99 which I think is good value for money for an excellent toy. LM loves Squidge and will not be without him at bedtime now, he's a definite hit here.


Sweet Dreams with Squidge is available from all usual stockists and Amazon.

I've teamed up with Golden Bear Toys to offer one of my readers the chance to win a cBeebies Squidge for the little one in their life. To enter, simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

cBeebies Sweet Dream with Squidge
We're going on an adventure

Growing Up with #PowerOfSoft

14:03 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We've had some big milestones in our family over the last couple of weeks. First of all Bud started Reception. He's sailed through the first week and a half and had a wonderful time making new friends and getting to know his teachers. All of my worries about him going to the toilet, eating his lunch and getting changed for PE seem to have been assuaged so far, with no real issues at all. I'm a very proud Mummy!

Three days after Bud started school LM turned two. My beautiful, funny, bundle of energy is now a proper toddler. It seems like the baby days are over and I'm very sad about it. She had a wonderful birthday packed with visits from friends and family and some wonderful gifts, it was lovely to watch her bouncing on her trampoline with her cousins and having a fantastic time. I very much see the child she will be in the future at the moment. She's determined, strong, energetic and stubborn as a mule. Incredibly entertaining and her speech is developing so quickly at the moment which makes her very funny company.

No matter how much my children grow and advance they will always be my babies. I only have to look into their eyes to see those (not so) tiny babies looking back at me. I've always done everything I can to look after my children in every way and we've always used Fairy to wash their clothes with. I remember the mountains of washing before each of their arrivals and the softness of the freshly laundered clothes. Dressing them in their tiny sleepsuits and vests and inhaling their baby scents was always lovely.

Fairy have a new campaign which aims to help parents to treasure every second of life with their babies and the softest cuddles you'll ever have with them. I've never been one to wish away the days, no 'I can't wait until they are sitting/weaning/crawling/walking etc', I was always happy to enjoy them at whichever stage they were at. Sometimes, especially when it's hard - a reminder of how quickly they grow is so valuable.

In association with Fairy.

Winter is Coming - Preparing Your Car, Home and Children for Winter

12:56 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Yes, the children are back in school and Winter is coming. Not in a Game of Thrones way but a real, frost on the ground, cold mornings and time to dig out the hats and scarves and woolly jumpers way. I know most people don't want to think about that in the September sunshine but it's never too early to be prepared so you're not caught unawares by a surprise cold snap.

Preparing Your Car, Home and Children for Winter

1. The Car - Make sure your breakdown cover is fully up to date and your car has had it's most recent service. It's always a good idea to take your precious wheels to a recommended service provider - you don't want to leave your BMW in the wrong hands! Ensure your tyres are sound and check your tyre pressure regularly too. Stock up on anti-freeze and de-icer before it gets cold and stocks run low. Pop a snow shovel, blankets, rope and ice scraper into the boot, along with a few snacks and sealed drinks if you think you might have to travel in bad weather with little ones. It's very easy for cars to get stuck in traffic jams with sudden snowfall and you want to make sure you can keep everyone warm and as happy as you can. It goes without saying that you should avoid driving if the weather is really bad but, if it's unavoidable, a few simple preparations can really help.

2. The Home - Get your boiler serviced! There's nothing worse than the cold weather hitting, turning on your boiler and nothing happening. Ours failed in the depths of winter a couple of years ago and the temperatures dived quickly. It wasn't fun trying to maintain the heat in Bud's room enough for him to sleep in. It's a good idea to stock up on a few tinned items  more than you would normally have in. Yes, a lot of people live in easy walking distance of the shops but it's no fun going out in the snow to run errands if you don't have to, especially with toddlers in tow. A loaf of bread in the freezer and some extra tins of soup and beans might make the difference between you staying warm and cozy indoors and dragging your children through the snow. Make sure torches have working batteries and that you have a supply of candles in case of power cuts.

It's always a good idea to try and prepare the garden too - bring in any pots, toys and garden furniture you can to avoid weather damage and consider make sure you have a good snow shovel for clearing paths. Remember to keep an eye on elderly neighbours, or those with young babies who might struggle to get out. During Bud's first Winter our lovely neighbour used to call regularly and see if I needed anything, it was very welcome.

3. The Children - Make sure you buy winter coats, hats and gloves as soon as you can, again these will start to sell out quite quickly if the weather gets cold fast. Layering is key, especially for children who are going to school, pop a vest and t-shirt under their school uniform for the walk to school, they can take their jumper off if school is warm. Wellies and boots are a must, they should be able to wear them to school then switch to school shoes when they arrive, and back again at home time. We've always had all in one snow suits for our toddlers, both Bud and Little Miss, and these keep the little ones very warm and look very cute.

Preparing Your Car, Home and Children for Winter - Bud Sledging

Buy a sledge! When it snows the world and his wife will all want one. We broke ours the Winter before last and ordered a new on in preparation for last Winter but only got a sprinkling of snow! It can be easier to drag toddlers through snowy streets on a sledge than to try and get about with the pushchair and they will think it is super fun. Why not put together an emergency 'bad weather box' containing a DVD, hot chocolate, a couple of jigsaw puzzles and easy crafts stashed for if the weather gets really bad and they can't go out to play in the snow? No-one wants to be trapped in a house with bored, grumpy children!

Make sure the medicine cupboard is well stocked with Paracetamol syrup, plasters and bruise soothers ready for winter colds and falls on ice and snow. Above all, remember to get out in the snow with your children and enjoy it! Children from babies upwards can experience the snow safely if they are dressed appropriately and don't spend too much time out there and you can bring the snow indoors if it gets too cold outside!

Partnered Post. Contains affiliate link.

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Back to School

09:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

WHWH took an unscheduled break last week. With Bud starting school, LM's second birthday preparation and then my laptop coming down with a nasty infestation, the end of last week was a write off. I missed my little linky though and I'm determined to keep it going. So, with the children back to school and lots of exciting Summers at an end, here goes!

I'm hoping you all have your back to school outings ready to link up, or your recaps of the Summer -whether you went away or just had day trips I would love to see what you have been up to. If you haven't got a recent post, why not share your favourite ever blog event, or a day out that you loved and wrote up a while ago? I'd love to see a bumper linkup this week on What's Happened, for LM and I to read over the next week or so.

Have you been writing about holiday plans or anything coming up? I know a few of you might be starting to think about planning days out for Halloween or Christmas. If you're writing about your planned outings or holidays please link up to What's Happening?

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Bigjigs #PlayPatrol - The Importance of Jigsaws

16:10 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Jigsaws are a reliable old faithful in our house and, since Bud started taking an interest in them as a toddler we have amassed quite a collection. When our very exciting Play Patrol parcel arrived this month we were really excited to see two puzzles from the extensive Bigjigs range of puzzles, one for Agent Bud and one for Agent LM.

Jigsaws are the type of toy that every child should have the ability to play with and enjoy. They are great for developing key skills and improving them over time. Focused activity which has a clear end - the completion of the puzzle - allows a child to sit at a task and work through it, challenging their abilities and with a clear sense of achievement when the puzzle is completed.

There are two clear areas which jigsaw puzzles can help with - physical skills, and cognitive development.

Physically children benefit from picking up the pieces of the  puzzle, holding them against various sections of it and turning them to fit. They then use their hand eye coordination to ensure that the piece is lined up correctly with the interlocking pieces before pressing it into place. As children get older and puzzle pieces get smaller their fine motor skills come into play as they hold pieces between two fingers, these are the building blocks for handwriting skills.

Cognitively there are a range of skills enhanced by puzzles, from simple shape recognition beginning with toddler puzzles, through to the more complex shapes in more advanced puzzles Beginning to talk about corners and straight sides too. Memory skills are developed by the picking up and putting down of pieces and the realisation that a previously discarded piece may now fit. Problem solving is at the root of any puzzle. How do you get that pile of pieces to look like the picture on the box?

With older children you can encourage them to follow certain processes to make completing the puzzle easier - connecting all of the edges up to build a frame for the puzzle before completing the inner section. Bud refuses to do this though and just fits pieces where he can.

Another essential skill for jigsaw completion is patience and tenacity. As long as the puzzle is appopriate for the child's skill levels then they should be able to work through it, encouraging them to focus on the task and know that they can do it with concentration and working through it.


Bigjigs First Farm Puzzles

Lately Agent LM has been really taking an interest in puzzles and I had actually identified a couple on the Bigjigs site that I liked the look of so her being sent the Bigjigs First Farm Puzzles was very timely. This is a set of four, four piece puzzles themed around a different farm animal for each one. The four puzzles all have different shaped pieces, which is great for young children to share. The sheep is four triangles, the pig four squares, horse four 'jigsaw' pieces and cow four curved shapes. All of the puzzles are completed by fitting the four pieces into a wooden board with a recess for the pieces which shows a line drawn image of that on the puzzle for reference.

Bigjigs First Farm Puzzles

I wasn't really sure if LM would know what to do with the puzzles as she hasn't really had anything other than the peg puzzles to play with before but she took to it straight away. Her big brother got involved helping her to complete them but, as soon as she saw what to do she understood how to play with them quite quickly. It was nice to see them sharing the puzzles and playing together with them as, at first she watched him fit the pieces into the boards and then copied him and did it by herself. I'm amazed at how much she has loved these, she has played with them on a daily basis since she received them and often cries when they are put away. They have been a huge, huge hit here. They are really good quality with beauitiful designs and nicely finished edges and, at £11:99 for all four represent excellent value for money.

Bigjigs First Farm Puzzles


Bigjigs Dinosaur Floor Puzzle in 48 pieces

Agent Bud received the Bigjigs Dinosaur Floor Puzzle in 48 pieces, the perfect job for my little dino obsessive. When I spotted that the puzzles was 48 pieces I was a little unsure what Bud would make of it. Prior to this he has a range of puzzles and he had never attempted more than 35 pieces solo, although he can complete those puzzles competently. We just haven't got around to getting him any bigger puzzles yet. I chose LM's nap time and we got to work on the puzzle. I was hands off but his interest was piqued straight away by the dinosaurs pictured and he got to work talking about them all and discussing which were close to each other. The puzzle includes a drawn image of the jigsaw with all of the names of the different dinosaurs on it, perfect for me when Bud asks 'what type of dinosaur is this one I am building Mummy?', having that to refer to easily was fantastic. 

Bigjigs Dinosaur Floor Puzzle in 48 pieces

The pieces of this puzzle are all solid wood. They are really chunky and perfect for smaller hands. Another thing I noticed was that they are very easy to fit together, sometimes Bud can get frustrated with jigsaws if he can't line up the pieces effectively, these slotted together brilliantly. I didn't really have to help Bud with any of the puzzle beyond making  a few suggestions for what the next piece might look like when he needed it and I was impressed with how well he handled this jigsaw. It's the usual high Bigjigs quality, if I had any complaint it would be for the box, which has a hinged lid so it's quite easy for it to fall open if you hold it the wrong way. The box is nice and sturdy though and should last well (a pet hate of mine is flimsy jigsaw and games boxes). The puzzle took Bud around an hour to complete, with a few breaks to do other things and the design and subject kept him really interested. I love how educational the puzzle is, it features the names of three geological periods and the dinosaurs are associated with each one. It's great and builds into a really good sized puzzle.

Bigjigs Dinosaur Floor Puzzle in 48 pieces

At £14:49 this is a really high quality puzzle and I'd recommend it highly, if 48 pieces isn't the right number for you then the same design is also available in 24, 96 and 192 pieces, a very clever idea!

Bigjigs tasked us with sharing our toys this month and jigsaws really are the perfect toy for this. Bud and Little Miss worked together on her puzzles and since then she has shared them with her cousins and us too. Bud will enlist the help of cousins and grandparents on his puzzle and, as his is so big, it's great for two people to work on at the same time. They are definitely made for sharing!

To keep up to date with everything Bigjigs follow them on Twitter or Facebook and look out for #PlayPatrol across social media to see what the other agents have been up to!

Disclosure: We received these puzzles for review purposes.

Mummy of Two

Milkshake! Stars DVD - Review and Giveaway

18:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Milkshake!, for the uninitiated, is Channel 5's Kids' Zone, featuring some of our very favourite shows including Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends and Jelly Jamm. It can be seen every morning on Channel 5 and we regularly tune into see so many of our favourite characters' adventures.

Milkshake! Stars  is a brand new DVD released by Abbey Home Media. The DVD has a running time of 149 minutes so it's great value for money and features fifteen exciting episodes from many Milkshake! favourites.

Milkshake! Stars DVD

We've watched this DVD a few times recently and Bud's favourite is Fiery Flynn from Thomas & Friends and Pontypandy Pioneers from Fireman Sam. LM loves Bananas in Pyjamas and has enjoyed watching The Submarine. It's been an good introduction to a couple of series that we are less familiar with too, and Pip Ahoy! and Toby's Travelling Circus have been hits here too.

Milkshake! Stars is released on Monday 8th September and is available from all usual stockists, including Amazon.

The stars of Milkshake! have set off on tour and will be appearing at venues across the country until June 2015. With a lineup including Little Princess, Chloe from Chloe's Closet, the Bananas in Pyjamas, Tommy and Tallulah from Tickety Toc, Bello from Jelly Jamm and two of the Milkshake! presenters at each show, and much, much more, it's a must for any Milkshake! fans.

Milkshake! Party Party Live

To find out more about the show, including tour dates and ticket booking information please visit Milkshake TV.

I've teamed up with the Milkshake! team to offer one  of my lucky readers the chance to win their very own Milkshake! Stars DVD. To enter please complete the Gleam widget below, the blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Milkshake! Stars DVD

Innocent Alphabet Champions - H

16:26 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

If you caught yesterday's post you will know that Bud started school today. It's also the day we have been chosen to be innocent Alphabet Champions, with the letter H.


This year, innocent are running an on pack promotion so that everyone can receive their own name in magnets. This is fab as we all know that kids often don’t have enough magnets to spell their full names but now they can. All the details are on the packs, but it’s super easy. Once you’ve collected 6 (or more) barcodes you just need to send it over to the guys at innocent Towers, and they’ll send you out three names. What’s more, on the innocent website you can also take part in a really fun ‘design your own innocent alphabet’ competition. Find out more at www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/alphabet.

We set out thinking about the letter H  and tried to come up with some words to fit in with the back to school theme. There aren't any fruits beginning with 'H', that we can think of, but there are lots of H words for school.

Bud went to school Happy this morning, and was excited to get going in Reception. Although I was rather sad to leave him behind!

Innocent Alphabet Champions H

He finished school happy too, full of tales of new friends, his teacher, what he did and what he ate for his lunch. Lunch didn't stop him being the second of our letter H words - Hungry!

Innocent Alphabet Champions H

And the best time of any school day? When LM and I waited at the school gates to see Bud's smiley face again for Hometime!

Innocent Alphabet Champions H

Innocent Alphabet Champions H

Bud had a wonderful first day at school, he finished bright and happy, if a little tired and he wants to go again tomorrow, I don't think I can ask for any more than that!

Innocent sent us a lovey box of treats for taking part in this challenge, including enough vouchers to keep us in Innocent for Kids Smoothies for quite some time! They are the perfect post-school treat and I think they will be very popular with Bud in the forthcoming weeks. They also sent me my blog name in magnets, which is the coolest thing ever! 

Innocent Alphabet Champions H

Remember to check out www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/alphabet to get your names in magnets.

Disclosure: We received a gift from Innocent for taking part in their challenge.