Baking with our new bowl from House of Fraser

With the recent start of the new GBBO series, baking season is in full swing. We love baking in our house and it’s great to be inspired watching the brilliant bakers… Even if that isn’t so great for our waistlines! The kids love baking too, especially Monkey, so it is often a family affair in our house. Which is why I was super excited to receive this gorgeous new bowl from House of Fraser recently and couldn’t wait to try it out. 20160826_092723

The design is gorgeous, with a real country kitchen feel. Apparently Hubs’ Nana had a similar one growing up, and I’m sure mine did too actually so it conjures up lots of memories of yummy smells and delicious food. I’m sure I saw a very similar one in the Bake Off tent recently too!

The kids and I put it to the test with a simple biscuit recipe from the Queen of Bake Off herself, Mary Berry. As LM is mainly in a play and explore mode she had her own little bowl of ingredients to,  erm,  have fun with, while Monkey and I got on with the serious baking in our gorgeous new bowl. PhotoGrid_1473080336913

The bowl was perfect and once the dough was ready I rolled it out and the kids helped make some biscuits in the shape of stars and, um, stormtroopers. Haha, probably not quite the shape Mary Berry had in mind when creating this recipe! PhotoGrid_1473080736068

Once they had baked it was time to decorate with simple water icing and sprinkles. I was pleasantly surprised how LM did with the sprinkles actually and some actually made their way into the biscuits! By this point Monkey was far more interested in eating the ingredients than helping any more!PhotoGrid_1473081094949

I love baking with the kids but it can seriously stress me out at times too trying to actually end up with something edible by the end haha. Hence keeping it simple with the recipe, but don’t be fooled by the seemingly perfect serene images, I was definitely irritable by the end. The clean up too, argh! 20160902_104008

One of my favourite things about our new bowl though is that it can be washed in the dishwasher! Hooray! That is such a must for me these days. Even though Monkey had basically licked it clean it went in the dishwasher with all the other bits meaning I could give the kitchen itself a good clean up without leaving the kids to their own devices for too long.

Thanks House of Fraser, our new bowl is the perfect addition to our kitchen!

Disclosure: we received this bowl foc in exchange for this review, however all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.

Finding Dory competition with Crocs

I think you’d have to be sleeping under a rock to not be aware if the recent release of Finding Dory, my Monkey is hugely excited about it! So I am thrilled to be able to share the following competition with you all thanks to Crocs.

Celebrate the long-awaited release of Finding Dory with Crocs!

#FindYourFun with Finding Dory prizes, courtesy of Crocs

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To celebrate the launch of Disney’s Finding Dory film, Crocs are offering one lucky family the chance to win two pairs of children’s Crocs from the Finding Dory range, as well as a family ticket to see the film with all the family at a participating Vue Cinema. The winning family will also receive a Tsum Tsum soft toy of Dory herself as well as a variety of Crocs merchandise (including a duffel bag, notebook and pen).202881-4AX_390

The fantastic Crocs Finding Dory range, includes the fun and quirky Kids’ CrocsLights Finding Dory™ Clog, which light up with every step to ensure your little one makes a splash! The Crocs iconic Croslite™ foam construction offers little ones’ feet plenty of comfort and cushion too. Check out the entire collection of splashy Dory styles here.

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize package – two pairs of Finding Dory Crocs, Crocs merchandise (including a duffel bag, notebook and pen), Finding Dory Tsum Tsum, as well as a family ticket to Finding Dory at any Vue Cinema – all you have to do is answer the following question:

What is Dory’s famous catch phrase?

  1. Just keep going
  2. Just keep forgetting
  3. Just keep swimming

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition open to UK residents only. The winner will be contacted within 48 hours of the competition ending. Details will then be passed to Crocs who will send out the above items. 

Both images above courtesy of Crocs. 

To learn more about Crocs visit www.crocs.co.uk

Get social with Crocs and #FindYourFun

www.facebook.com/crocsunitedkingdom, www.twitter.com/crocs_uk, https://www.instagram.com/crocseu, www.pinterest.com/crocseu

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Best of Worst

Sunshine on a rainy day with Trespass

I have a new love. My new raincoat from Trespass, the Stormcloud Women’s waterproof jacket. It surprises me as I honestly never thought I would find a raincoat that I like as much as this one.PhotoGrid_1460982487665

I am pear-shaped, meaning my bottom and thighs are approximately 2 sizes larger than my top half. My top half is currently a 12, but my lower half is a size 16. This makes buying any item of clothing for my whole body incredibly difficult. With coats, it means that in order for the bottom to fit, the top section is usually incredibly baggy and unflattering. My previous rain coat I have had for around 10 years and it has been around the world with me, but it is so unflattering and makes me look huge. I have wanted a new raincoat for ages but honestly didn’t know where to start or whether to bother as any I’ve tried have been the same.

20160407_182211I am so glad that Trespass got in touch and invited me to look at their ladies waterproof range as I was so impressed. There were a couple I was tempted by but the shape of the Stormcloud jacket looked to be exactly what I was after. Long enough to keep me nice and dry, but still flattering. I have still had to order a large size for it to fit around my bottom, but the difference is that this coat gives me some shape. It has pull-cords at the waist which I can adjust to fit me and it means that for once I have a raincoat that doesn’t look like I am wearing a tent!It also has what I am calling a ducks tail. A little extra length at the back which I think is very flattering but also useful for sitting on soggy park benches with the kids. I always hate my legs as I feel they are huge but actually think the curved tail to this coat is so flattering that I think it even makes my legs look ok!

The other reason I am surprised how much I love this coat because of the colour. I have never bought a yellow coat before and not sure I would have been brave enough too. But the shape of this coat is what attracted me to it, so after some encouragement from hubs (who loves yellow) I decide to be brave and go for it. It is so bright and colourful and I have been complimented on the colour so many times already. I do feel it draws people’s attention (which isn’t always ideal for an introvert like me) but so far only in a nice way. It makes such a change from a black or blue coat and brightens up the most miserable of days. I had already bought LM a lovely yellow raincoat and it is sweet to be matching!20160407_182223

Features wise it has everything you could want of a rain coat. It is quite thin but that is what I wanted for the spring/summer. I have a winter coat but at this time of year it is too hot so this is perfect as it keeps me dry and helps keep out any cool breezes without making me feel too hot. The hood is perfect, not too big or too small as some can be. It also has an attachment at the back to tie it and make it smaller if need be. I have quite a big head and a lot of hair so for me it is perfect as it is but I do think that could be handy.PhotoGrid_1460984562674

The pockets are huge which is brilliant. I always wind up carrying so much stuff around with me, tissues, half eaten chewy bars, mittens, house keys, my phone and I can even fit one of LM’s drinks bottles which is very handy as we do sometimes go for a stroll without the big buggy and means I don’t have to take a bag. The material of the coat has a lovely texture and isn’t overly plasticky or shiny as some waterproof material can be. Monkey gave it a big seal of approval when he needed a piggy back at the end of a long walk, shouting in my ear “Your coat isn’t slippy! I’m not slipping! Yes! You did it Mummy! Your new coat is lovely and not slippy!” haha definitely the most important feature in his mind.

My one criticism of the coat is the sizing. I have had to buy an XL. I am not at my slimmest at the moment but my lower half is a size 16. Is that really Extra Large? I know labels on clothes don’t really matter and it’s how it fits that matters but if the sizes are as simple as 8 (extra small) 10 (small) 12 (medium) 14 (large) 16 (extra large) can we not just use the numbers rather than labelling the sizes as large or small? Doesn’t do much for the self-image and what if you are larger than a 16? That is the only criticism I can make though and is probably as much a criticism of the entire clothing industry as this particular coat and hardly a reason not to buy it.

So there we have it, my new lovely coat from Trespass, I honestly love it and would recommend it to anyone… In fact I think my best friend is going to get one as she is so impressed too.

I received this coat from Trespass for the purpose of the review however all thoughts, words and images are my own.

We're going on an adventureBest of Worst

Gardening with the Poundland Charlie Dimmock range

We love spending time outside with the kiddies, and not just on days out, but also out in our garden. Some readers may remember that we had a project a couple of years ago to completely renovate our garden. We have been so pleased with the results and spend so much time out there.

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It doesn’t usually look as tidy as this, normally there are toys everywhere but we are getting ready for my birthday bbq this weekend!

It takes maintenance though so there is a lot of time spent gardening which so far the kids love being a part of. So when Poundland got in touch about their new range of gardening tools, the Charlie Dimmock range, I was immediately intrigued. To be honest I was surprised initially as Poundland is not the first place I would think of to buy gardening tools, but the selection they have looked great. We chose a few things we thought we could put to good use and test out then got out in the garden.

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Monkey loves digging and his grandparents recently bought him a plant with his name so he and Daddy set to planting.PhotoGrid_1461244669904

Monkey and I then did some necessary, but let’s face it, unexciting weeding together.PhotoGrid_1461245017185

Even LM got involved and did some digging with her big brother.PhotoGrid_1461244750282

So how did the products do? Pretty good actually considering the price of them. The gloves are a good size and definitely do the job of protecting your hands from the dirt and prickles. The stitching on them isn’t amazing so I can see they probably won’t last you years and years, but then I don’t expect anything I can buy for a pound to last that long and spending £1 on a pair of gloves every now and then wouldn’t be too much of a hardship.

The scoops were really good for digging loose soil and will be very useful for all sorts of things. The brush is just what we needed for cleaning the weeds in the block paving. We had previously bought one from a leading diy chain for around £5 which snapped in two. This much cheaper version is already doing better than that one.

The trowel and other tools do what they say on the tin. As with the gloves the quality may not be amazing, the trowel is a bit bendy in hard earth or when digging vigourously, but again, for the price you really can’t complain and they do the job. There are a couple of bits that we are yet to try out but they see, to be of a similar standard and no doubt they will come in useful.

On the whole I am really impressed with the Charlie Dimmock gardening range from Poundland and am pleasantly surprised. I will definitely consider Poundland next time we need some gardening supplies.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallWe're going on an adventureLife Unexpected

The Fitbit Charge HR – a review

I have been intrigued by fitness trackers for a while but had never taken the plunge and wasn’t really sure what they would do for me and my lifestyle. When Fitbit asked if I would like to try out and review their new Fitbit Charge HR, I thought it was time I gave it a go, especially with my aim of getting fitter and healthier this year.

The Fitbit Charge HR

The Charge HR is the latest fitness tracker from Fitbit and what distinguishes it from its peers is the fact that it has a continuous heart rate monitor, making it more accurate in tracking your activity. In general it monitors your heart rate every 5s and when you set it for exercise it monitors every second. It comes in a variety of cool colours, and can be used to track steps taken, calories burned, steps climbed, your heart rate and how well you sleep.

Opening the box

20160202_121754I was so excited when the box arrived and couldn’t wait to give my new Fitbit Charge HR a go, but with the kids running riot it had to wait until nap time so I could concentrate fully. Once I did, I have to admit to being a bit confused and frustrated at times. There were no real instructions in the box other than a card telling you to go to the website to set it up. So I got my laptop (thinking I could charge the Fitbit at the same time) and went to the website given. Where I was told to download the app first. So I got my phone too and downloaded the app and started the registration progress. This irritated slightly as if you have to do it on the app why not just send me to the app rather than tell me to go to a website which then sends me to the app?

Anyway then I was filling in all my details etc but the app couldn’t find the Fitbit because it had no power…so I started charging it using my laptop. It struggled to find the Fitbit whilst it was charging so had to unplug a few times. Then it wanted to update the firmware on the Fitbit but wouldn’t do that while the tracker was charging. But the app also wouldn’t let me continue until this was done. So I have to admit I got mightily frustrated at the inability to just get it sorted. I could have been charging the band while the kids were around so it was ready to go, but I know from other trackers that some come with at least a partial charge, and you plug them in to your laptop at the right time in the setup process.

So basically, it would have been much more helpful if there were some simple instructions in the box. eg. 1 – charge your Fitbit, 2 – download the app on your mobile device and follow the instructions from that point on. It may sound obvious to some but as mentioned I know other trackers come charged and with set up via a computer so I think it would be sensible to let you know that this isn’t the case.

One other thing I struggled with was knowing how to wear the band. Again this may sound incredibly daft and obvious to some, but I was confused. I know some bands are designed so you wear them with the screen on the inside of your wrist but I don’t know if all trackers are designed this way? So I didn’t know which way round it should go on my arm. I also wasn’t sure whether it should go on your non dominant arm or whether it didn’t matter. As it turns out you can set it to whichever arm you prefer – but again simple instructions about this in the box would have helped me work this out as I didn’t know if it would work as well the way I was wearing it. Some googling resulted in me finding the full manual online which was really helpful. I am not suggesting they send this out with every one but I would have thought the basics such as how to wear it may be worth including, or at least a link to follow to find the information. (A later note to this is that when hubs linked it up to his phone to have a go with it, the app did show how you should wear it, but because I had so many problems with the set up and charging the band, my app never got to this point and it still didn’t mention which arm etc.)

How it feels 

The Fitbit Charge HR sits on your wrist like a watch and to me it feels ever so slightly plasticky on my skin. Though it wasn’t uncomfortable I definitely needed to give my wrist a break at times (as Fitbit recommends anyway) and I didn’t like sleeping with it on (to track my sleep) as it would often have ended up in an uncomfortable position by the morning. This is just personal preference though and I sleep pretty well anyway so the daytime tracking is more useful to me. It is as adjustable as a watch strap which is good and even though it was the small band, both Hubs and I were able to wear it. On the whole though it just feels like you have a watch on so is pretty innocuous as you go about your day to day activities!

Wearing my fitbit on the pre-school run

Wearing my fitbit on the pre-school run, as you can see, Monkey approves haha

Screenshot_2016-02-08-21-46-53How it works

There is definitely something very cool about fitness trackers and being able to keep an eye on your activity levels throughout the day. It is very satisfying to see that step counter go up and it definitely motivates you to move more on your less active days. The button on the side of the Charge HR makes it very easy to scroll through all of your statistics and a simple flick of the wrist lets you know what time it is, very handy.

The app is also really clear and easy to use and as you can see from this screenshot, it is easy to check at a glance what you have done so far. I also found the band very quick to sync with the app which I really liked.

 

Comparisons to other trackers

There are a couple of things I have noticed, in comparison to other fitness trackers, which I thought worth mentioning here as it is difficult to talk about what this does and what I do and don’t like about it, without explaining my point of reference. My husband has the Microsoft Band which he has been using for quite some time and I have recently purchased a fairly basic Polar Loop band. There are obviously lots of other brands and types of tracker out there but I can only compare the ones I have seen and used. They are in quite different price brackets too which is worth bearing in mind when you read the following points as the Microsoft Band retails at around £200.00, the Charge HR around £100.00 and the Polar Loop around £40.00 (all prices approximate depending on where you purchase them from!).

Screenshot_2016-02-16-20-38-50In many ways the trackers are similar and do the same jobs, but there are differences good and bad, and differences which are neither good or bad I guess and would just come down to personal preference really!

For example each of the trackers seem to measure your sleep in a slightly different way, but essentially they all do the same job, by showing you how much sleep you have. The Microsoft Band is probably the most comprehensive showing your light sleep, deep sleep and the amount of times you woke up. The Polar Loop shows you your restful sleep and restless sleep though what it defines as restless sleep is actually awake time. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor like the Microsoft Band or the Charge HR do so I guess it is inevitably less accurate in that respect. The Charge HR is similar to the Microsoft Band and when worn at the same time gives very similar results, showing awake time, restful sleep and restless sleep.

Wearing two bands on one wrist but getting different numbers of steps!

Wearing two bands on one wrist but getting different numbers of steps!

The difference in step counting between the three trackers is interesting too. The Charge HR always seems to register that we have done more steps than either the Microsoft Band or the Polar Loop, even when both are worn right next to each other on the same wrist which we have found fascinating. It is difficult to tell which is the most accurate, although I believe the Charge HR is (not just because it says we have done more lol) as we have both felt at times that our respective bands don’t always track steps accurately when we are pushing the buggy or a trolley as our arms are obviously not moving very much. Whereas the Charge HR does seem to register steps on these occasions which is obviously a big plus and so hopefully that and the combination of the heart rate monitor means that it is the most accurate of the three.

At the end of the day I don’t think any step counter is going to be accurate all the time but does it actually matter? In general you will only be wearing one band and as logas you are comparing the number of steps according to that tracker then you will still get a feel of whether you are doing more or less than normal etc. So even if the numbers are a bit out it doesn’t really matter.

You can set goals on each of the bands and what I love about the Charge HR is that you can set the goal that is right for you. It is automatically set to 10,000 which I think works as a good base line, but if that is unachievable for you (hubs has his Microsoft Band set to 6,000 as being in the office all week he rarely reaches even that let alone 10,000) you can set it lower, or if that is too easy for you then you can set it higher. The Polar Loop in comparison only has set targets and the lowest is 12,000, a target I hardly ever achieve, which isn’t very motivating. Achievable limits are so much more motivating, you want to push yourself a bit but setting a target you will never reach is just daft I find.

The battery life of the Charge HR seems to be really good nd it definitely lasts longer than either of our other bands. It also only takes an hour or two to recharge which is great and gives your wrist a rest from wearing it all the time.

The Charge HR is splashproof, as is the Microsoft Band, but that is it. The Polar Loop on the other hand is waterproof and suitable for swimming. It is possible to add swimming as an activity on the Fitbit app, but that seems to be a fairly inaccurate way of measuring the activity as it obviously can’t really tell how much effort you are putting in to it unless you have a different tracker to measure the swimming and add that information to your Fitbit app… but that does seem a bit daft!

It also only recognises certain activities – this seems to be the same with the other trackers in our house too as they haven’t figured out what we are doing when we use the exercise bike, Cycling outside they understand because they can use the GPS tracking.Inside though when you aren’t moving and your arms are static… nothing is registered. It is again possible to add it as an activity, but it is a shame it doesn’t have a way of recognising it.

The Microsoft Band has a number of other functions too which is what makes it’s higher price point worthwhile, as it can be fully linked to your phone and can give you alerts etc. The Charge HR does have a degree of this functionality too though and can buzz and alert you when you have a phone call, and can also give you a silent alarm, which would be very handy for getting up in the mornings (if you don’t have small children who already wake you up at an ungodly hour!)

Conclusion

There is no doubt in my mind that wearing a tracker on your wrist makes you move more than you would otherwise. So many times I have walked a slightly longer route to take more steps. I move faster to bring my heart rate up and I walk instead of taking the car to the local shops, especially on days where I haven’t moved as much. There’s something about competing against yourself, and I know of others who compete against each other too to see how many steps they take and that definitely adds  a level of fun. So it really is possible that wearing a band will improve your fitness.

PhotoGrid_1455655060484Regarding the Charge HR itself, I really like the funky colour as it makes it look a bit different. I also like the display and the fact that the button you use to see all of your stats is very obvious and easy to use (some trackers the buttons are a bit more temperamental or more hidden). The graphics are easy to make out and I love that with a flick of the wrist you can see the time at a glance – it really makes the Fitbit Charge HR feel equal parts watch and tracker, and I do love efficiency! The other functionality and connecting it to your phone too really adds to that.

 

I really like that the Charge HR monitors your heart rate and I do feel this helps with the accuracy of its tracking. I imagine this to be very very useful when you are exercising frequently too. It is really cool to know when your heart rate is in the fat burning zone, and for the really fit out there it can show you when you are in peak burn. A great way to see how your hard work is paying off.. or push yourself to work that bit harder.

Monitoring your sleep is fascinating. I am a good sleeper and tend to have large chunks of the night when I am in deep sleep. My husband on the other hand sleeps terribly, and this explains why he is so tired all the time and we are making some changes to see if it helps him (reducing caffeine late in the day, eliminating light in the bedroom etc.) and being able to track his sleep makes it easy to see whether these changes make any difference.

I have mentioned above a few niggles with setting up the Fitbit Charge HR, but they were easily sorted or are personal preference. The one real negative for it though in my opinion is that it is not waterproof. It is splashproof… but I can’t wear it to go swimming. As I try to swim twice a week this is a real bug bear for me. You can add it as an activity via the app but it seems to just be an estimation of what you have done unless you are measuring exactly how far you have swum etc… which is a faff. So a large amount of my activity isn’t registered by the tracker. If you don’t swim for exercise though this obviously wouldn’t be a problem so again it really is a matter of personal preference.

On the whole I think fitness trackers are great and I do love the Fitbit Charge HR, I just wish it was waterproof! Please make a properly waterproof one next time Fitbit!

Disclosure: I received the Fitbit Charge HR in return for publishing this review. All opinions and photographs are my own. 

And then the fun began...MummascribblesWe're going on an adventureBest of Worst

Our Christmas Tree from Pines and Needles

It’s December, which means that Christmas preparations are in full swing in our house. Are they in yours? The presents are all bought and I’ve written most of the Christmas cards now. We also have our tree and decorations up, and well, what a magnificent tree it is!20151206_192806

This beauty came courtesy of Pines and Needles. A wonderful eco-friendly Christmas Tree company, who would you believe, deliver them right to your door. Now I know there is something lovely about choosing your tree yourself but when you have small kids any shopping trip can be hard work and trying to squeeze a tree into your car in between car seats and all the other paraphernalia… well that can escalate it to nightmare.

This is our second year receiving a fabulous tree from Pines and Needles and we have been so impressed with the quality of everything. Last year we had our tree up from 1st December and it lasted well past Christmas without looking dry. The Nordman Fir is our favourite as it doesn’t drop anywhere near as many needles as a traditional tree but still looks and smells fantastic. They are also very competitively priced in my opinion too and we would easily spend the same amount on a tree in our local garden centre.

20151205_171816It isn’t just trees either as Pines and Needles sell lots of other lovely bits too. The tree stand they provided us with is by far the best and easiest tree stand I have ever used, and the mat is oh so handy as I do have a tendency to spill water when watering the tree! Plus it adds a bit of extra traction on our hard floor making the tree very firm on the ground.

I am a little in love with the garland they sent too, I’ve never had a garland made from a real tree before and it is amazing. It just looks gorgeous on our mantelpiece but also has rope attached very firmly so you could hang it if you wish.20151205_175947

Finally they also sent these gorgeous mini trees for the kiddies which are oh so cute and will be planted in the garden come spring.

mini trees

So if you love the idea of a real tree but don’t want the hassle of going and getting one then I cannot recommend Pines and Needles enough. As a little bonus I have a discount code for you to use too.

By using STAY15 at the checkout you would get the following:

Free 10″ Decorated Wreath
Free Holly
Free Mistletoe
Free Mini Tree

Why not give their delivery service a go this year?

We're going on an adventureMummascribbles

About Time – a Film Review

Now, I am no film critic and have never attempted a film review before, but somehow I felt compelled to write about this film. True in my uni days I studied film and television but don’t worry this review is not going to worry about the mise en scene or whether this film fits with the directors usual style, blah blah blah. I just wanted to share my thoughts on what is one of my new all time favourite films.

imagesAbout Time is  from Screenwriter/Director Richard Curtis, well-known for classics such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually. Somehow though I feel this film has unjustly slipped under the radar and is not as well-known as it ought to be. But perhaps I am not the best judge of this as I last went to the cinema over 3 years ago and this apparently came out in 2013 – so I clearly behind the times. The fact that it hasn’t come to my attention until now though is why I feel it can’t be anywhere near as widely known as his previous titles, which is odd because in my opinion this film is every bit as good, if not better.

Starring Domhnall Gleeson (you may recognise him as Bill Weasley from Harry Potter, though much to hubs surprise and hilarity I could not place him at all!) and Rachel McAdams in the lead roles, Domhnall’s character, Tim, and his father (played by Bill Nighy) have the ability to travel back in time within their own lifetime. So far so cliché right? But I feel that this film is some of Richard Curtis’ best writing. Full of wonderful British humour and hilarious characters it is so lovely to watch.

Whether he is travelling back in time a few moments to avoid making a prat of himself or travelling back years to try and improve his sister’s happiness the results aren’t always what he expects and much comedy, and at times, sadness ensues. And that is where the writing is so brilliant as interspersed amongst the laugh out loud moments there are some beautiful pearls of wisdom.

I watched this film on a day where I was feeling really mopey and sorry for myself. Fed up of the mundane monotony that is the SAHM life sometimes. What this film did was remind me to see the magic in the mundane. I thought about what I would change if I could go back in time and I don’t think I would change a thing (though being able to stop making a prat of myself would be quite handy). It made me stop being mardy and look around and take pleasure in the moment and recognise how incredibly lucky I am to have my lovely ordinary life.

Yes it sounds cheesy but this film lifted my spirits. Touching, heart warming, tender, sad at times and uproariously funny at others. A real feel-good film, all I can say is watch it, watch it now. It is on netflix so if you have it then there is no excuse.

Family Fever

Toys from House of Fraser

I have been fortunate enough in the past to review some gorgeous children’s clothes from House of Fraser. When they got in touch recently and asked if we would like to reveiw something from their wonderful selection of children’s toys, well I couldnt say no could I?

I really enjoyed browsing checking out the huge variety of toys and games they have to offer but couldn’t resist when I came across this awesome remote control Fireman Sam fire engine. I just knew Monkey would love it, and I wasn’t wrong.

fire engine 1

As soon as he saw it he was so so excited and couldn’t wait to try it out. Watching the absolute glee on his face as he chased it round and round the room turning the steering wheel was absolutely priceless. As you can tell I struggled to get a non blurry photo as both he and the fire engine were moving so fast at all times but it was so fun to see him so happy!

fire engine 2

I have to admit it is probably the noisiest toy we own, and even on its “mute” mode it has the ability to shout “Great Fires of London” at the touch of a button! But it is worth it to see him so happy. He tells everyone he meets about his new fire engine toy and every time he sees it I swear it is like the first time again”oh wow my fire engine!!” So cute.

It really is such a great fun toy, definitely one to bear in mind for Christmas, and just one of so many available from House of Fraser

We're going on an adventure#ToddlerApprovedTuesday

JoJo Maman Bébé Maternity Dress Review & Giveaway

I loved JoJo Maman Bébé  maternity clothes when I was pregnant so when they got in touch and asked if I would like to review a gorgeous maternity dress and run a giveaway, I couldn’t resist! No, I am not pregnant, but I do have a very lovely friend who is and who was willing to model one of their gorgeous dresses for me.WP_20150625_20_37_21_Pro

They have such a lovely range and my friend chose this gorgeous flowery dress. The flowers are so bright and cheerful and it is such a flattering fit too.

jojo maman bebe

It is such a lovely comfy, lightweight material and is so comfortable to wear (yes I may have tried it on too) which is just what you want when you are pregnant – especially in this heat! I feel for all you Mummies-to-be out there I really do!

Now onto the bit you have all been waiting for, a wonderful giveaway! JoJo Maman Bébé are offering one lucky winner the chance to choose a gorgeous dress from their fabulous range of maternity dresses.

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Our Family Day in London with the Samsung Galaxy S6

If you follow me on social media you may have seen that I was hugely excited last week to be given the opportunity by Three Mobile to review the brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. In addition to letting me put the S6 through it’s paces for a few days, Three Mobile also very kindly gave us a day out in London where we visited the Natural History Museum and their wonderful “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition.

The Samsung Galaxy S6

WP_20150618_11_50_36_Pro (3)A little bit about the phone first. It is really slim and light though a bit longer than my current phone. I tend to carry my phone in my pocket and I was concerned it wouldn’t fit, but actually, although taller than my current Nokia, it is slimmer so fit a little better if anything, result!

It runs on Android, and being a Windows Phone user this did take a bit of getting used to but is much more user-friendly than the last time I used Android (we are talking a few years ago now) and I soon got to grips with it. I also found the phone very fast which is nice as being nearly 2 years old my phone can be a bit sluggish!

The best thing about the S6 though has got to be the cameras. Yes, plural, because both front and back cameras are very impressive. The back camera is a whopping 16megapixel and the front is a lovely 5megapixel. I love a good family selfie so it nice to be able to take a quality shot with the front camera for a change. To show you the difference here is a couple of selfies taken with the front camera on my current phone compared with the front camera on the S6. I have no make up on so apologies but you can see the difference. The third shot has “beauty mode” switched on which kindly smooths your skin out for you – definite improvement I think! :)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Front Camera

I also loved the speed of the cameras. It loads super fast even when the screen is timed out, and, best of all it takes the photo almost instantly when you press the shutter. Kids move around seriously fast and I often find with my current phone that by the time it has focussed and taken the shot, I have missed the moment. This happened a lot less with the S6 which is a HUGE plus in my books.

That’s about as technical as I am going to get as I am not that technical! So that you can see for yourself how great the cameras are, here is our day at the Natural History Museum.

Our day at the Natural History Museum

We set off on the train to London first thing in the morning. Monkey was so excited to be on a really fast train and loved every second of the journey, especially the tunnels.

on the train 1

We had hoped LM may nap on the train but it would seem she was too excited too as was not remotely in the mood to nap. We had a lot of fun keeping her entertained instead.

On the train 2

Getting around London on the tube with two tots, a buggy and our bags was interesting. The tube was absolutely packed, and we were squeezed in like sardines! Monkey was such a good boy but LM was not a fan…. though she was charming everyone by making sneaky grabs for people’s jumpers and sunglasses etc! Thankfully everyone she chose to grab was friendly and in a good mood.

We finally arrived at the Natural History Museum which is such an impressive building, and after a cheeky selfie (though I really need to have a bit more practice with my selfie stick) we headed inside to see the huge Brontosaurus.

natural history museum

We were concerned Monkey may be a bit wary of the dinosaur but he loved it and decided it was smiling hehe. We just had time for a quick cup of tea and slice of cake before heading out to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition.

Sensational Butterflies

In the grounds of the Museum is a tropical tent housing lots of beautiful butterflies who are free to fly and roam as they please. As you go through you follow the trail which charts the life cycle of the butterfly, from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly, while all the way you are surrounded by butterflies fluttering past.

Butterflies 1

Unfortunately Monkey had a full on freak out about the butterflies. He found them really scary flying so close to us and one landed on my back which really set him off. LM seemed to love watching them flutter past though! I managed to get some gorgeous shots but we did have to rush through a bit to get the screaming, clinging mess of a toddler out of the tent :/

Butterflies 1

It was such a shame as it was a wonderful exhibition and lovely to see the butterflies up close and learn more about these gorgeous insects, but that’s kids for you, always unpredictable. I was glad that the camera was so fast to load and at taking photos, I would have liked a bit more time in there to play with manual mode – but was dead impressed with the shots captured with the auto focus.

The Museum

After calming Monkey down we headed back into the museum for more of an explore.

in the museum

Sadly the queue to see the dinosaur zone was massive so we went for a walk around the mammals instead. Monkey had a few initial jitters about the stuffed Lions and Bears but once he realised they wouldn’t move he relaxed and he loved it – he even told the Polar Bear that he loved him… bless him, such a softy.

in the museum 2

We had a great time wandering around and looking at all of the animals, skeletons and the other models. Monkey loved this big rotating earth and I love this picture of the two of us, again I am just so impressed with the photos we took on the S6.

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LM dozed off on our walk round (thank goodness) then we headed for some lunch. The service and speed in the restaurant were great considering it was a busy Saturday but it was pricey and the food wasn’t very good quality. We were hungry though so scoffed it down. Hubs had fun taking photos of the four of us in the huge mirrors in the restaurant.

20150620_131353

After lunch we checked on the queue for the dinosaurs again but it was even more massive so after a bit of a wander in the museum we headed outside to the ice cream van we had seen earlier – only to find that they had turned the ice cream machine off! We couldn’t believe it! We had promised Monkey an ice cream by this point and as the afternoon was getting on we decided to make our way back to the station. We found an ice cream along the way then had another hot and busy journey on the tube back to Kings Cross where we got the train home.

journey home

It was a long day and very tiring but so much fun too and I am proud of us for stepping out of our comfort zone and taking the kids on the train and tube on such a busy day. It proves we can do it, though I am not sure we will do it again in a hurry.

I loved giving the S6 a real test out and it has really got me thinking about what phone I am going to go for next. I’ve always loved the Windows Phone OS but I found Android to be really user-friendly and the cameras are just amazing on the S6. I use my phone largely as a camera since becoming a blogger so it really is important to have a good one. There are things about the Windows phone OS that I would miss on the move to Android…. but not as much as I thought, so I may have been converted as the camera is such a big temptation.

I really cannot fault the Samsung Galaxy S6 at all as it was so fast and just so easy to use and I think the pictures speak for themselves. I was using it all day, taking tonnes of photos and a few videos, and the battery lasted well until we got home which I did find impressive. I think I will be hard pressed to find a better option when it is time to upgrade my phone in a few months’ time!

Is your phone your main camera? Are you a lover of Android, Windows, or Apple?

I was loaned the Samsung Galaxy S6 for a few days and Three Mobile gave us tickets to London and entry to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition for the purpose of this review. All opinions and images are entirely my own.

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