We are Dora in the City Party Hosts!

16:37 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

On Monday 3rd November I will be joining with a number of other bloggers and UKMumsTV to host a Twitter party to celebrate the UK Premiere of the brand new Nick JR television show, Dora and Friends: Into the City!

Dora and Friends Party

The party takes place this Monday, 3rd November from 4pm until 6pm to coincide with the premiere of the new show at 5pm on Nick JR. To take part in the party follow me (@RedRoseMummy), @UKMumsTV and @NickJrUK and tweet using the hashtag #DoraandFriends. There will be lots of news about the new show and prizes to be won so add the date to your diary now!

Dora and Friends Party

Dora and Friends sees Dora grown up and living in Playa Verde, a big city. Aimed with a magic charm bracelet and a smartphone, complete with map app, she has everything she needs to go off on amazing adventures and to help people along the way.

We've received a big box of party supplies and we're going to be joining in the fun with a few friends here. We're really looking forward to bashing the piñata, decorating cakes and having lots of fun together during the party.

Remember to join in the fun on Monday!

Disclosure: We received the party supplies to host the party

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Half Term Fun

14:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

So half term in full swing and I''m sure many of you have been out and about having fun with your families. Ours has been relatively quiet although we did enjoy a fantastic hour or so at the Lowry Theatre on Tuesday.

We had some lovely family fun days linked up with #WHWH last week. I'm so pleased Nottingham Comic Convention was a success as one of the organisers is a great blogging friend. Mummy of Two's Little Mr A looks like he had the time of his life! I love the photo of him with  Yoda and the Speeder Bike.

Shannonagains is a real #WHWH regular and I always enjoy her posts. She manages to find some really quirky exhibitions and events in London to write about and I'm always keen to read. Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace is a fascinating, free street art gallery in St James' Park which explores the battlefields of the First World War and there modern day appearance. Definitely worth checking out if you have a free hour or two in London.

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?

Emily Brown and The Thing on Stage

11:58 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Yesterday we went off to the Lowry Theatre in Salford to see one of their half term plays. Emily Brown and the Thing is based on the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton. While we don't have this book in our collection we do have 'Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency' and Emily and Stanleys adventures are a favourite of Bud's so we were keen to see the show.

Emily Brown and The Thing

Emily Brown and the Thing is the latest production from Tall Stories. A touring theatre company who have been staging a wide range of children's shows including Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale.

The story sees Emily Brown and her old grey rabbit Stanley, struggling to sleep after a day full of adventures. Every time they are just about to drop off they are disturbed by an upset 'Thing' who can't sleep. Emily and Stanley set off on a range of missions to help the Thing to feel better but, perhaps there is an underlying cause for his sleeplessness?

A vivid mix of music, acting and puppetry tells the story with the cast of three displaying masses of energy and really engaging their audience. Emily Brown is played by Anna Wheatley and ably supported by Sam Donovan as Stanley (my favourite) and Chris Gunter as The Thing. Anna Wheatley really captures Emily Brown's much loved character and I think few fans of the book would be disappointed by her portrayal. I was a little unclear as to how Stanley and the Thing would be portrayed but the way in which acting and puppetry is combined is brilliant, really seamless and made the production even more fascinating for my four year old.

The show was a real hit with the children in the audience, there were a few scary bits, one of which made LM almost jump off my knee but the recommended age of 3+ is spot on. Bud loved the show and has requested the book.. He was utterly entranced by it and hasn't stopped talking about it since!

If you'd like to see Emily Brown and the Thing you can see it at The Lowry until 2nd November then on dates across the UK until December. check out the tour dates (click 'book now').

Emily Brown and the Thing is part of the Salford and Trafford Family Arts Festival which is on across the area until 2nd November. There are masses of different activities across various arts venues and museums. check out the Family Festival listings to find out more.

Meet the Cussons Mum & Me Midwife

13:49 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last Friday I headed out towards Manchester Airport to the offices of PZ Cussons for a very special afternoon with the team behind the Cussons Mum & Me range. I was rather excited as I've used this range ever since I was pregnant with LM, with both children and for myself. I'm definitely a Cussons mum.

Kerry Evans Cussons Mum & Me Midwife

We were invited there to meet a very special lady. Cussons Mum & Me have teamed up with Wellbeing of Women to sponsor a midwife in her PhD studies and the first recipient of the £60000 sponsorship has been announced and was there to meet us. Kerry Evans is a midwife in Nottingham and we were able to spend some time talking to her about her career and her studies. She came to midwifery after having her own children and found that her interest grew in clinical research. Until recently it has been difficult for midwifes to choose  a clinical research route - where they can continue to practice and to study at the same time - so Kerry is something of a pioneer. Kerry plans to research the management of anxiety in pregnancy and I think it's a fabulous idea that she will be able to work with real mums as she does this. It was great to talk to her about her career and lots of birth stories were shared around the table, while we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea

As already mentioned, Cussons Mum & Me products have been used regularly in our home since they launched over two years ago. There are three ranges of products under the name - Bump, Baby and New Mum and we received some lovely products from across the ranges. Many of which we use already but also some new and exciting items to try. I really love the Baby Bath to Comfort Snuffles. I used it all last winter with both of my children and found that the menthol really helped their snuffly noses. It comes highly recommended from us.

Cussons Mum & Me range

Cussons Mum & Me have  active Facebook and Twitter follow them for updates on their #VoiceofMums campaign, product news and giveaways.

Preparing for Pregnancy

11:45 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

If you're planning a baby, or have even started to try to conceive then there's a few ways that you can smooth the process and make sure you are fully prepared to start your pregnancy journey.

1. Make sure you take your folic acid - an obvious one really but anyone who is considering a baby should be taking a folic acid supplement every day. Studies have proven that folic acid significantly reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects and it might be possible to get a prescription for it from your GP, alternatively you can buy them at pharmacies and in supermarkets.

2, Keep up your exercise regime - it's much easier to adjust a regular exercise routine for pregnancy than it is to start anew when you get pregnant. Obviously gentle exercise is best and things like swimming and aqua aerobics can be really good.

3. Schedule any medical treatment you may need - medical treatment is more complicated in pregnancy so, if you have any treatment planned make sure you can fit it in before that line turns blue. This applies to cosmetic treatment, like those for acne scarring, too. If you're taking medication routinely you should discuss this with your GP before falling pregnant as your prescription may need to be changed or adjusted.

4. Watch your diet - losing weight before getting pregnant might sound a little mad but it's a good idea to try and make sure you are following a healthy diet. Watching your alcohol and caffeine intake is a good idea too. Drink plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated.

5. Stop smoking! Goes without saying really. Smoking during pregnancy has a number of increased risks associated with it, best to stop before you think about a baby. This applies to both parents, not just mummy!

6 Bin the pill - if you're using the contraceptive pill then stop taking it as soon as you decide you would like a baby. It can take a few months for the hormones to clear your system, although it happens much more quickly for some women.

7. Talk - make sure you and your partner have the same expectations and feelings about a possible pregnancy. You will also need to discuss finances,, future childcare, maternity and paternity leave and your home.

Did you prepare for pregnancy? Do you have any tips for those who are? I'd love to hear them below.

Partnered Post

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Half Term Next Week

10:31 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're actually on half term this week. Bud gets two weeks for his first school holiday so we're enjoying a quiet, home based week to allow him to recharge a bit, prior to a few days out next week.

Apologies for the unscheduled break last week, although I was secretly pleased to see how many of you missed my little linky, real life got in the way and I just didn't have the time to post. Sorry again.

I'm going to tell you about a little 'What's Happening' of our own. Next week we will be going to see 'Emily Brown and the Thing' at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester, as part of the Salford and Trafford Family Arts Festival 2014. The event sees partners including Manchester United Museum, IWM North, SEALIFE Manchester, MediaCity UK, intu Trafford Centre, Ordsall Hall, Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Salford Community Sport (amongst others) will be staging a range of events from book readings to ghostly happenings, all culminating in the Big Family Play Date on Saturday 1st November!

In addition to Emily Brown and the Thing the Lowry will also be staging Stomp, the sensational, all action musical hit Great for older children!

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?

Win a Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll

13:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Yesterday LM and I gave our thoughts on Myra, the Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll who is the latest addition to our Mooshka Doll collection. LM has loved playing 'Ring a Ring O' Rosie' with her new dolly and I love how beautiful she looks and how soft she is. LM has found it easy to make Myra's music play and she's become a real favourite since she arrived, and has also sparked new interest for LM in her other Mooshka dolls She likes to have all three out to play with together.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rose Doll

I've teamed up with Zapf Creation to offer one of my readers the chance to win a Sing Around the Rosie Doll of their very own. There are three dolls in the range so you will receive Myra (like us), Niva or Lera It would make a wonderful gift for a little lady in your life and I'm sure the beautiful packaging and dolly inside would be a real treat on Christmas morning!

To enter the giveaway please complete the Gleam widget below Zapf Creation are keen to promote the fantastic Mooshka UK Facebook Page so 'liking' that is compulsory as is the blog post comment The Facebook page is well worth checking out for their regular fantastic Mooshka news and giveaways!

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 

Abney & Teal Magazine

09:37 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud and LM are big fans of Abney & Teal and we often watch it on cBeebies as part of their wind down time. It's shown daily at 5:50pm and is the perfect, relaxing watch before the bedtime routine begins. Both of my children also love the wide range of children's magazines on the market, a new magazine is Bud's favourite treat, so receiving a copy of the brand new Abney & Teal Magazine from DJ Murphy publisher was perfect for him.

Abney & Teal Magazine

For those not in the know, Abney & Teal shows the adventures of two rag doll best friends who 'live in the park on an island'. They share their home with several friends including Toby Dog, Bop and Neep and his turnip family.

Abney & Teal Magazine

The magazine reflects the show really well with the same beautiful artwork and whimsical quality. Music is a massive part of Abney & Teal so I was pleased to see that this theme continues through the magazine, including in the free cover-mounted gift which was a small mandolin (just like Toby Dog's) and a whistle (like Teal's).

Abney & Teal Magazine

The content of the magazine includes games, puzzles, stories and other activities. You will also find a sheet of colourful stickers to complete the magazine's 'sticker pages' with.

Abney & Teal Magazine

My two have loved investigating the Abney & Teal magazine and, as a parent, I'm confident that their enjoyment of it is helping them to learn as the magazine helps to develop Early Years Learning.

At just £2:99 the monthly magazine is a great treat for little ones and is available from all major retail outlets The first issue is on sale on 23rd October.

Disclosure: We received a copy of the magazine to help with this post.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll - Myra

15:53 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We love the Mooshka dolls from Zapf Creation and LM is starting to develop her own little collection of these beautiful, soft dollies, each with their own individual personality. Recently LM's collection has seen a new arrival when she received one of the new Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie dolls, in this case, Myra. We have Sonia and Ina from the standard Mooshka dolls range so it was lovely to add another dolly to the collection.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll - Myra

The Sing Around the Rosie Mooshka Dolls are very special because, if you hold the hearts on both of their hands, they play 'Ring A Ring o' Roses'  and, as you are already holding both hands, your little one can actually play the game with their doll too. The tune is quite pleasant (unlike many that toys play) and, as soon as you let go of either heart it will stop playing and will start at the beginning again if you hold the hands once more. I really like that it stops when the hands are released as that means your child won't wander off and leave the doll playing music. Much better than those that never seem to stop! The holding hands feature is really nice as the Mooshka doll story tells that they are paper dolls which came to life and were connected by holding hands, you can join the original dolls by connecting their hands up to each other.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll - Myra

These Mooshka dolls are a little different to the standard dolls. They are  larger and they, obviously, have a battery pack inside them so they aren't quite so soft. This means that they aren't machine washable like the original dolls. They feature the same beautiful clothing and little design features which make them a real favourite with LM. She loves to explore the different dolls and the textures that they have. The doll is beautifully presented as usual, in a gift box.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll - Myra - compared with standard Mooshka Dolll

 When we first received the doll and I realised how she was operated - by holding both hands - I was concerned that LM wouldn't be able to do it herself. She's just over two and it I thought she might not grasp it. I needn't have worried. I showed her how the music plays and now I can regularly find her dancing around with her doll.

Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie Doll - Myra - Heart on hand#

With an RRP of £24:99 I think that Sing Around the Rosie Myra is a beautiful dolly who's music is a unique and fun addition. She's a must have for little girls like LM who love the Mooshka range and she's already getting a lot of love here. She would make the perfect gift for any little girl this Christmas.

LM loves her Mooshka Dolls

Check out our other Mooshka Doll reviews:

...and check back soon for your chance to win a Mooshka doll!

To find out more about the Mooshka dolls visit their beautiful website or 'like' their Facebook page.

You can buy the Mooshka Sing Around the Rosie dolls from all usual stockists including Amazon.

Disclosure: We received the doll for review purposes. Contains affiliate link.

Big Energy Saving Week (#BESW14) with British Gas

12:52 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This week is #BESW14, Big Energy Saving Week (20-24th October) and British Gas have teamed up with Netmums to help busy families to save energy as Autumn turns into Winter. Throughout this week British Gas and Netmums will be focusing on different rooms in the house and offering tips and suggestions for how you can save energy, and money, in each one.

I was invited to ask a British Gas Engineer a question about energy saving and decided to ask what was the single easiest way to save energy. His answer was:
Making sure the settings on the central heating system are in line with each other. For example if you have a room thermostat, the boiler thermostat (usually a dial on the boiler with a pic of the radiator next to it or on a digital display on the boiler) should be set to around maximum through winter. (Though with young children in the property probably best set a little lower to avoid the radiators becoming extremely hot and potential burn hazards)

Radiator Control

I've been thinking about saving energy in our home. I think we are pretty good as a rule but, as I'm  home with LM most days I know that there are ways in which we can improve. During the day we tend to spend most of our time in the lounge and kitchen. Here are my tips for energy saving there:
  • Our house is pretty gloomy during the day so we usually have at least one light on. I tend to use the lower wattage lamp as this allows enough light but uses less power than our overhead lighting.
  • I ensure that we all wear socks in the house, bare feet is a really quick way to make you feel really cold. Keeping socks or tights on means that this is less likely to happen. Both children are now wearing vests as a cozy extra layer to help keep them warm
  • All of us reach for a jumper or hoodie when we start to feel cold. The heating doesn't go on if the cold person has less than three layers on!
  • I use my slow cooker to cook the evening meal quite often, it's a low energy device and I think that the scent of the cooking meal makes the house feel warmer. That's probably psychological more than scientific though!

Cozy socks

I decided to ask a few of my blogger friends how they save energy in their homes and they were quick to respond with some fab tips:
  • Eileen at ET Speaks From Home suggests using radiator reflecting panels to stop heat loss through the walls.
  • Mary at Over 40 and a Mum to One has switched to LED lighting where possible in her home. 
  • Angela at The Life of Spicers has turned down her thermostat by one degree and keeps doors closed to keep heat in rooms.
  • Jenny at The Brick Castle uses her air fryer instead of her oven, especially when cooking in smaller quantities. You don't need to wait for these to get to temperature and they often cook more quickly than conventional ovens.
  • Anna from In the Playroom suggests getting walls and lofts insulated. There are government grants available to help with this for those who are eligible.
  • Tina at The Soup Dragon Says uses any leftover boiled water from the kettle to fill hot water bottles in winter, or to speed up boiling vegetables throughout the year.
  • Jen at My Mummy's Pennies suggests using extra blankets and encouraging little children to share bath water.
  • Kel at Writings, Ramblings and Reviews suggests really thinking about which cycle you need for your washing machine. Can you use quick wash or a cooler temperature?
It's so important to save energy, especially at this time of year, and remember you can always put those extra pennies saved towards a Christmas treat! Hopefully there are some useful tips here for you. How will you be saving energy in #BESW14?


British Gas have launched the Hive Active Heating Control system which allows you to control your heating and hot water from wherever you are. Great if your plans change and you don't need your heating to turn on with the timer you have previously set. They estimate that it could save you up to £150 from your energy bills per year! No more heating an empty home and it even has frost protection.

I've teamed up with British Gas to give away a Hive system, worth £199, to one of my lucky readers. To enter simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

This is a Netmum's sponsored review.To find out more click the button: 

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 

Sonny Angel Ladurée Collection #BigReveal and Giveaway

09:57 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Have you heard of Sonny Angels? For those not in the know they are a range of collectable little dolls from Japan which have been around for the last ten years. The dolls are sold in themed collections and arrive packaged in cardboard so you cant't see which doll you have got. Each purchase is a big surprise!

Their collectable nature means that they are popular with all ages. In our house LM adores them but, as she's just two she isn't allowed to play with them. I think I definitely have a future Sonny Angel collector on my hands though! My Sonny Angels live on the bookcase out of reach.

Sonny Angel Ladurée Collection

For their tenth anniversary collection Sonny Angel have teamed up with Ladurée - the legendary French patisserie - to produce twelve new Angels. Six of them wearing the Ladurée trademark macarons and the other six wearing some beautifully crafted pattiserie creations! As will all Sonny Angel collections there is one that is super secret and you'll never see it unless you're exceptionally lucky enough to receive it!

If you saw the #bigreveal over on Twitter earlier you will have seen that I opened our Ladurée Sonny Angel to reveal the Macaron Menthe Glaciale Sonny Angel. This one is super cute and I love the teal green macaron on his head. He's a lovely addition to my little collection.

Sonny Angel Ladurée Collection Macaron Menthe Glaciale

The Sonny Angel Ladurée Collction dolls have an RRP of £13 and can be purchased from Kind Toys.

If you'd love to add a Ladurée Sonny Angel to your collection, or use it to start your Sonny Angel collection then enter my giveaway below.

The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 

Our Autumn #VitaPicnic

20:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

The weeks have been running away from us recently with school and then busy weekends so we have been in need of some time to reconnect a little. Recently Vita Coco Kids sent us a fantastic picnic hamper and invited us to get out and share our Autumn #VitaPicnic so this was a great opportunity to go and spend some time as a family.

#VitaPicnic Hamper

I've written many times before about the Country Park that lies within walking distance of our house.. We love to take a walk to feed the ducks and play on the park there and, as we've not had the chance to visit for a while, we decided to take our picnic there. The Country Park is based around a set of mill lodges and has walking and cycling trails, a centre which runs children's activities in the school holidays and weekends, playgrounds and lots of wildlife. We are very lucky to have it within just ten minutes walk of our home.

#VitaPicnic at Crompton Lodges

With Bud on his scooter and LM on her new toddlebike, we soon found the perfect spot for a little picnic. It was a bit too wet to use our lovely picnic blanket on the floor but it made a great tablecloth instead! Bud and LM loved trying out the two flavours of Vita Coco Kids (Apple and Blackcurrant and Mango and Pineapple) with the Apple and Blackcurrant being the favourite. I had to try them myself and found them really pleasant, refreshing with a lovely fruity flavour. I think I will definitely be picking some more of these up in our next supermarket shop.

Trying out Vita Coco Drinks at our #VitaPicnic

It was rather windy so after our picnic was completed we walked over to feed the ducks, geese and swans. They seemed rather hungry and were very pleased to see us. LM hasn't really fed them properly herself before and cried when the bread ran out! There's a real range of waterfowl on the various lakes and the children loved saying hello to this years cygnets who we've seen lots of this year.They are now almost the same size as their parents but still have brown, fluffy feathers instead of the snow white of the mature swans.

As the weather was growing cooler we decided to head home after feeding our feathered friends but we all loved spending some time outdoors in one of our favourite spots and I'm sure our picnic basket will get lots more use in the future!

Disclosure: We received a picnic hamper from Vita Coco Kids to help with this post. 

Autumn Birthday Gift Suggestions for Ladies

13:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We have a couple of birthdays coming up in the next month or so and I'm a bit lacking in inspiration! I always find it so hard to think of birthday gifts when my thoughts have firmly turned towards... Christmas!

Still my lovely Sister in Law and friend have birthdays on the way so I've been trawling for ideas online and making a couple of sneaky purchases too. I'm not going to show you what we've bought but .hopefully below will give you some ideas if you're searching for gift ideas for ladies in their 30s and 40s. I'm sure some of them will work for Christmas gifts too.

1. Knitwear - Wool Overs are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year and I've been browsing their range of Chunky Knit Cardigans. They are all made from pure lamsbwool or British wool and even have a  multi-buy option, if you're looking for more than one gift! I really love this belted cardigan, how warm and snuggly would that be for the autumn weather?

Wool Overs Chunky Knit Cardigan

It's available in five colours too, I love the red. It's the perfect festive colour to make you smile when out Christmas shopping.

2. Console Games or eBook Vouchers - My friend loves her Nintendo 3DS for her bus commute and is often found playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf or similar so I'll definitely be checking out new 3DS Games for her. I usually browse the supermarket sites like Tesco first and often find some fab bargains! My Sister in Law loves to read so a gift voucher to allow her to add some new titles to her eReader is always a popular gift.

3. Pampering - A spa day is always a great way to spend time with loved ones. Getting away for a bit of pampering, child free is the perfect treat. I love one of our local hotel's spas and was treated to a day there last year. I'm going to give them a call to see if they have any tempting offers on at the moment. A treatment or two, time in the spa pool and lunch would be lovely to relax in the run up to Christmas. If you can't make time to get out for a spa day, why not choose some of their favourite, indulgent products as a gift?

Spa Day

4. Theatre Tickets - If your friend or relative enjoys the theatre then tickets for a show are always a popular gift. Check out what's on in your local town or city and get booking Have an early dinner (there are loads of restaurants with fab pre-theatre bargain menus) and have a girls' night out. You could even fit in a cocktail or two after the show!

5. Her Favourite Things - Sometimes it can be really hard for busy women to get some time for themselves, whether they are busy at work or with their children. I often like to collect a few of their favourite things together in a pretty box or basket to make a really thoughtful gift. The contents will differ for everyone but you could include their favourite chocolates, wine, magazine, a paperback book, their favourite lipstick or hand cream, you can include anything you think they would love. It's sure to be popular, I'd love it if someone did that for me! There are lots of suggestions online to make your basket look lovely,  check out this post from Camp Clem for suggestions.

Hopefully there are some really useful ideas for you here? Do you have any suggestions to add?

Brand Contribution Included

Train Fun with Bigjigs #PlayPatrol

14:12 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud loves trains. They are a real passion for him and have been a huge part of his play since he was around 18 months old. We're actually newer to wooden railway than a lot of families though as Bud only acquired his first sets last Christmas where, quite luckily, he acquired a decent sized collection quite quickly. They are a 'go to' toy for him now and one that he can while away a few hours playing with at any time.

Bigjigs Rail Supplies Train

Bud's #PlayPatrol delivery for September saw him receive a brand new engine to add to his collection of trains. He received the Supplies Train which has a bright red engine with 3 goods trucks - a tank, a logging wagon and a coal truck. The train is presented on two piece of track too, which means that you get the added bonus of a couple of additions to your track collection too. The train is the usual excellent Bigjigs quality and beautifully painted with lots of eye catching detail. The tanker rotates on it's axle, the logs on the logging truck can be removed and stacked over and over again, and the coal truck tips to either side. Really fun interactive details.

Bigjigs Rail Supplies Train

The train's arrival got Bud really excited as he's got quite a hodge podge collection of rolling stock. He was delighted to have a 'proper' train to play with and quickly got to work making up a route for it. Bud received the Bigjigs Railway Station in a previous #PlayPatrol delivery and that always forms the heart of his tracks now..

Bigjigs Rail Supplies Train

Bigjigs challenged Bud to have fun with his train this month and this is simply not a problem for him. Over the past ten months of owning wooden train sets he has spent many hours building tracks and interacting with them. As a parent it's fab to see his play stimulating him and encouraging him in various areas of learning. Building the track layout improves his mathematics skills and works on his sense of spatial awareness. As soon as his layout is complete he begins to play imaginatively and role plays, talking about where each train is going and who or what it is picking up. Trains call at the station and Bud says 'all aboard' and the train pulls away again. It's really interesting to see his knowledge of how the train network runs - stopping at signals, level crossings, stations etc - which has been gathered from books, real life train journeys and watching TV.

Bigjigs Rail Supplies Train

At just £10:99 for this train - remember it includes an engine and three trucks and two pieces of track - I think this is excellent value. Bud has had such fun with it since it arrived and I think we may well be adding to his collection at Christmas. Wooden railway is amazing fun and Bigjjgs Rail have a truly excellent range.

Disclosure: We received the train as part of our #PlayPatrol delivery.

Win a Halloween Party Kit with The Party Company

10:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Halloween is fast approaching and lots of people's thoughts will be turning towards how they will be celebrating the evening. Will you be going trick or treating around the neighbours or hosting a Halloween party for the children in your life?

We're going to be at a Halloween party this year - fancy dress of course - and I've been checking out The Party Company's range. They have everything you need to help your Halloween party table look fantastic.

I've teamed up with The Party Company to offer one of my readers the chance to win a fantastic Halloween party pack. This includes:
  • Party Cups
  • Party Plates
  • Tablecover
  • Spooky garlands x 2
  • A cupcake kit
Win a Halloween Party Kit with The Party Company

Why not check out The Party Company to see their fantastic Halloween range?

For the chance to win the party kit, with delivery before Halloween please complete the Rafflecopter widget below. 

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My #MorningWin with belVita Breakfast Crunchy Biscuits

22:22 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud has now almost completed his first full half term in school, which has meant some significant changes to our morning routine. He did go to morning nursery last year but that was a much more relaxed affair and it didn't really matter if he was a bit late sometimes, having to ensure that we are ready to leave the house by 8:35 every morning, to arrive at school in time for the gate to Reception opening by 8:55 has taken rather more planning than the nursery run ever did.

My #MorningWin with belVita Breakfast Crunchy Biscuits

Most mornings Bud gets up at 7:30am to eat breakfast and get dressed. We tend to go through his 'words' in the morning too as it can be difficult for him to muster enough enthusiasm in the evenings. He's raring to go in the mornings. Into this I also have to factor LM. When we were on the nursery run she had a few nursery runs in her PJs a week - it's quite easy to bundle her up in her coat and a blanket and no-one can see what is underneath! This term I've been trying to make sure that she is dressed for the school run. We also got in to bad habits of dropping LM off at Grandma's on the way to nursery, this term, apart from on Wednesdays when LM, Grandma and I go to Toddler Group, I've been trying to ensure that she comes to school with us.

My #MorningWin this term has been that, thus far, Bud has arrived to school before the bell every single day. LM has been dressed for school on every single occasion apart from once when she was unwell, and that same morning was the only non-Wednesday morning that she was dropped off at Grandma's!


We've been sent some of the new range of belVita Breakfast Crunchy Biscuits to try out. I must admit that my morning winning doesn't always extend to getting breakfast myself until I get home from school. Breakfast biscuits are a great way for me to eat breakfast on the go though and I often find myself reaching for them with a cup of coffee in the downtime I get after getting home in the morning.

My #MorningWin with belVita Breakfast Biscuits

There are three new flavours in the crunchy range - Choc Chips, Apricot and Hazelnuts. I've enjoyed them all but my favourite is the Apricot. There are real pieces of apricot in the biscuits and they add a lovely chewy texture to them. The box contains packs of three biscuits and, for every two I ate LM managed to snaffle one! Her favourite is the Choc Chips of course.

My #MorningWin with belVita Breakfast Crunchy Biscuits

We've really enjoyed trying the new belVita Breakfast Crunchy biscuits. They do have a real crunch to them and I really like the texture. I definitely think they have a place in my morning routine..

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

Disclosure: We received samples of the range to help with this post.

Win With Q Pootle 5: The Great Space Race and Other Adventures on DVD

12:23 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Are your children fans of Q Pootle 5? Bud loves adventures of Q Pootle 5, Oopsy, Eddi, Stella, Ray, Groobe, Planet Dave  and Bud-D and their life on Okidoki at the edge of space.  We've recently been watching  Q Pootle 5:  The Great Space Race and Other Adventures on DVD and Bud and LM have been really enjoying watching it.

 Q Pootle 5 ;  The Great Space Race and Other Adventures on DVD

The Q Pootle 5 series is based on a range of books written by the rather brilliant Nick Butterworth. I love that the animation really reflects the brilliant artwork. The voice acting is really good with Ed Gaughan as Pootle and Joanna Page playing Oopsy, amongst others.

You can hear Ed and Joanna talking about their characters here:

One of the features of the show is a few brilliant sounds and you can sing along with Eddi's 'Rocket Sprockets' in this clip, which forms one of the extras available on the DVD.

The DVD contains 13 episodes as follows:
1. The Great Space Race
2. Pootle s House Guest
3. Groobie's Spacewash
4. A Day With Ray
5. The Biggest Picture Ever
6. Maurice
7. Rocket Bird Oopsy
8. Flower Power
9. Hitting The High Note
10. The Singing Valley
11. Runaway Rocket
12. Eddi's Hat
13. It Came From Outer Space

It's really excellent value with the DVD currently available for just £7:00 on Amazon. It would make a fantastic Christmas gift for any Q Pootle 5 fan.

I have one DVD to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. To enter please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options.

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What's Happened? What's Happening? - It's Nearly Half Term

11:52 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Wow,this term has flown by. Bud's first half term as a 'proper' schoolboy is nearly over and, despite a few bumps in the road, it's gone well and he's settled in really nicely. We're having a weekend away at the coast with family this weekend and Bud and LM are very excited. We're also planning a few days out over half term. Bud gets two weeks this time so he should have time to rest and relax before the Christmas half term.

Last week saw two lovely holidays linked up - Hollybobbs went to Greece with Mark Warner and a big group of other bloggers. The break looked like an idyllic few days of rest and relaxation and the perfect way to spend a few days in September. Mummy Melton shared her family holiday in Ireland.It looks like they had gorgeous weather in County Wexford and the beaches look fabulous.

I think my favourite post of last week was probably the most unusual one I've had linked up. Shannonagains shared a day at a sewage pumping station! Yes, you did read that correctly. The stunning Victorian architecture combined with a Steampunk 'convivial' made for a fascinating post and one that you should definitely head over and read.

What's Happening saw a brilliant 'What to Do in October' post from A Family Day Out with events happening all over the country there are some fab ideas for planning your October outings. Its definitely worth checking out.

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?

Science4You Creativity Cubes

11:46 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

If you have seen my previous review you will have seen what we thought of the Science4You Colour and Pet Turtle. The second of our Science4You toys was a box of Creativity Cubes. This is a set of twelve cubes with six printed themes across the sides of the cubes. First impressions were of brightly coloured cubes but I wasn't sure how engaging Bud would find them. I was pleasantly surprised.

Science4You Creativity Cubes

Open up the box and you will see the twelve cubes alongside a twenty-eight page instruction book. The inclusion of the book makes the cubes come alive as it explains the six different designs and the ways in which they can be used.
The six designs are as follows:

  • Two different sets of facial features
  • A maze
  • Three different orange and white pictures
The best way to show you the various combinations is from this page of the excellent instruction booklet:

Science4You Creativity Cubes

The most basic way to play with the blocks is in the manner of a jigsaw, you place the twelve blocks in the correct position to create one of the images shown above. This is quite straightforward until you factor in the various patterns which can be quite similar on each side of the cube. It too a little while longer than a standard puzzle but Bud was soon able to complete the images himself. Bud's favourite one here was the maze, I think because it was the easiest but, with a little encouragement, he was soon making the more complex puzzles too.

Bud's favourite way to play with the blocks has been to create smaller designs using the shapes, as suggested later on in the instruction book. It's been interesting to watch him think outside of the box and create the different patterns. Some of the suggestions are for faces with three sections and, at first, Bud was selecting the top part of the head first. He quickly realised that, if he wanted to build the face as a tower, he needed to place the shoulders section first and adjusted how he built it accordingly. Problem solving skills in action.

Science4You Creativity Cubes

Some of the designs are quite complex, especially those involving the orange and white sections and Bud needed help to attempt these, it was a really fun activity for us to work on together though. There are a few pages of maze puzzles at the back of the booklet and Bud hasn't been able to attempt any apart from the simplest. This again has allowed for a discussion between us on how the paths need to continue from one block to another to allow the pattern to be connected up. I think as his understanding increases he will be able to attempt the more difficult maps.

Science4You Creativity Cubes

We've had the Creativity Cubes for a few weeks now and they have been played with frequently. Bud really loves the challenge of creating the puzzles and I'm aware of how well they are challenging him both scientifically and mathematically.  At just £6:99 they are an absolute bargain and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a way to stimulate problem solving and mathematical skills in children aged around three to seven. We would highly recommend them.

The box is light and sturdy so I think that this is quite a portable toy, you don't need a lot of room to play with them and I can imagine this keeping children entertained on train journeys and on holiday.

The Creativity Cubes can be purchased from Science4You's Web Store or their Amazon Store. If the Creativity Cubes aren't for you then check out the rest of their range, it is excellent value, with lots of fun science-based toys for children to enjoy.

Disclosure: We received the Creativity Cubes for review purposes. 

Science4You Colour and Pet Turtle

09:15 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud and LM are so inquisitive and interested in the world and sometimes it's hard to remember that this curiosity is forming an interest in the world around them and the building blocks of their future science education. As always with young children it's important to make the most of learning through play opportunities and we have recently been sent some toys from the Science4You range for younger childen, Science Junior, to try out.

Science4You Colour and Pet Turtle

First up we have the Colour and Pet Turtle. This is from a range  of three toys - you can also get a dolphin and a puppy - and in the pack you receive a soft turtle and four washable felt tip pens.The idea is that your child can colour in the toy, wash it in the washing machine to remove the colouring, then colour it in again. Bud is rather fond of turtles, I think partly because he knows that I have 'issues' with turtles and tortoises (as regular readers will be aware), so he was very pleased to receive this.'Ernie' as he has been named, I think this is in homage to the large turtle at the Sea Life Centre in Manchester, has been played with quite a few times since he arrived.

Science4You Colour and Pet Turtle

The turtle measures around 15cm long and is white with printed on markings - perfect for colouring in all of the different features. The felt tip pens do a good job of this although Bud did state that he though that there should be a brown pen as turtles are green and brown. That said, however, he has enjoyed colouring in using the green, blue, orange and purple pens supplied. The toy is age 3+ and I think that's correct. LM has tried to muscle in on the colouring in which led to an unfortunate incident with the blue pen and a pair of pink tights. The markers really are washable, I'm happy to say!

Science4You Colour and Pet Turtle

All in all this is a fun little toy, it's a good outlet for creativity and I've been interested to see Bud using different actions with the pen than he would normally. He's picking the turtle up to colour it in and using different angles as a result which is all great for improving those fine motor skills and the muscles used for writing. This is a great rainy day activity and the ability to wash it feels like it's a new toy over and over again, very clever really. I'm not quite sure what we will do if and when the pens run out but I'm sure it's possible to buy replacement washable markers in the shops, I couldn't see any on the Science4You website.

We took the opportunity to talk about turtles while Bud was colouring in and he asked lots of questions (some of which needed Google to help me answer them) all about how turtles live, what they eat etc. He did know some of the answers from Sea Life visits but was very keen to learn more.

At £9:99 I think this is a reasonable price for a toy that, by definition, can be reused over and over again. It has engaged Bud's attention and concentration on several occasions now and we think that it would make a fantastic gift for any child aged around three to six.

The Colour and Pet Turtle is available from Science4You Toys and from their Amazon store.  

Disclosure: We received the Turtle for review purposes.