Thursday, 8 December 2016

Gentleman's Gift Guide

At Christmas time it's always the men that I struggle the most to buy gifts for. In my opinion women are so much easier to buy something for, perfume, clothes, handbags, flowers or just something pretty it's so easy to walk into a shop and just get it right (this may be because I am a woman I can relate to what I think I would love) but when it comes to shopping for men I think a lot of people take longer to buy presents so I've put together a Gentlemen's Gift Guide with a range of products I've found on the Chums website which would make great gifts this Christmas for an older man in your life. (Father in laws to be are the hardest to buy for by the way especially when you've already got them Ivor the engine mug or noggin the nog t'shirt in previous years!)

Remember to look for things that your recipient likes such as gardening, maybe some new garden tools would be a good idea or a tool bag, you can also get some novelty gifts such as a mug that says head gardener. Look back at conversations you've had with them over the time you've known them, Michaels dad loved the Ivor the engine mug we got him a few Christmas' ago because he loved Ivor when he was little. It doesn't have to be a huge generous gift, the thought is what counts when it comes to a present so always remember that! A new watch is a great idea for a Christmas present especially if they don't have one. Favourite alcohol and a special glass could be a great option too as well as some nice aftershave - Christmas is a great time to gift someone something new to try but if they're a little set in their ways with what they like then stick to their favourite! All of the photos below are items I've found on the Chums website! Who knew they had such a lot to offer?
Dvd classics are a great choice and will be loved over the christmas/new year period when we're being lazy eating all the Christmas leftovers. I found lots of options on Chums website and here are the two that I liked best. Who doesn't love Fawlty Towers? Also sweets such as a classic retro collection are a lovely gift for those with a sweet tooth or for chocolate lovers check out this huge collection!
Dressing gowns are a great present - Michaels just been converted, he's always said no to dressing gowns but now is loving being warm in the morning so I would 100% suggest others to try convert their dads/partners too. Slippers are always a great option for an older man - my Dad loved slippers, Christmas was always when he would get a new pair and these ones look so comfortable. A nice knitted jumper to wear on Christmas day would be lovely too or a chunky knitted cardigan. Scarf and gloves will be loved at this time of year too!
I've gone for great priced items on this gift guide but some other options if you're looking to really splash out on a gift for an older man this Christmas include things like experience days, sporting events such as football match or cricket.

Mary-Kate, x

Disclosure: collaborative post

 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

7 Easy Tips To Help You Save Money This Christmas

7 Easy Tips To Help You Save Money This Christmas

Lots of families find it very hard to make ends meet, as low wages make it difficult for many people to get by. These people struggle before each and every Christmas, as they all want to have proper holidays, but buy gifts to their children and to enjoy a nice meal with their friends and family. The latest survey from Morrison's shows that the average family spends about £165 in December on top of their regular expenses. However, you can still have fun without spending this extra money. All you need to do is follow the below expert tips to save this Christmas without increasing your debt burden.
1. Trim the list of Christmas gifts
You can discuss the presents topic with your friends and family members, and agree to cut down on the regular gift exchange. Some of your friends are going to agree to give up this habit or to set a price limit for these gifts. It is also possible to go for a "children only" rule. A Secret Santa, which implies tossing all names of people in your group in a hat and drawing one name per person. This is how each of you is going to buy one single present. If you also set a maximum limit for the gift, you're going to save a lot of money.
 
2. Use vouchers to the full
 
According to a survey of the Gift Cards and Vouchers Association, lots of gift vouchers are left unspent each year, totaling a whooping £240m wasted. Keep track of all vouchers around your home, and use your loyalty card rewards. If you are like most people, you should have at least one Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury's Nectar or Boots Advantage. In addition, you could save even more money by using these points before Christmas, when all retailers run promotions to attract shoppers.
3. Go for discount supermarkets instead of your usual ones...
 
Festive dinners can cost you a lot of money. You can cut down these costs by doing your shopping at Aldi or Lidl. These German supermarkets have a good selection of festive foods at affordable prices. Besides, the quality of some of these delicacies has been perceived as being superior to more expensive brands.
4. ... but hold your horses, buy only want you need
 
When you are a host, you are tempted to spoil your guest by offering them a wide range of foods. If you are like most people, you probably overestimate the amount of food one can eat before feeling full. You can avoid wasting food by calculating the right portions to offer your guests. You can use the portion calculator on lovefoodhatewaste.com. If you estimate you are going to have a two-hour party, this calculator will tell you that you must prepare seven party food nibbles for each person. The website gives you examples of foods, so you can easily add them to your shopping list.
5. You don't need that much alcohol to survive Christmas
 
Festive periods are often associated with huge amounts of drinks that can easily add up to a small fortune. By using a cost comparison website such as Quaffers' Offers (quaffersoffers.co.uk), you can find out where to go to get the best prices for the wines you want to buy.
6. Take a look on eBay
This doesn't mean you should go on eBay to buy presents, but rather to get rid of things you don't need anymore. Most of us have piles of unnecessary stuff around our house. You could generate a bit of cash by putting them up on eBay for sale. You'll need to work a little for the money, as you'd have to take photos of your items and upload them, and then ship the sold items to the buyers. If you can't be bothered doing so much work, you can always consider alternative ways to make some extra money for holidays. You could sell books on Amazon or list your stuff on local internet forums. You may be able to find buyers in your area, people who wouldn't mind coming to your house to pick up their items.
7. Learn how to save money on Twitter
 
All you need to do is type in "money saving" and you're going to find lots of accounts sharing tips and tricks to help you cut your costs and save money. @wowfreestuffwow and @moneymagpie are two good examples. Big retailers may also tweet their promotions, so it's worth watching their accounts closely.

 
*Please note that this is a collaborative post*

Friday, 2 December 2016

Wynsors Kids Christmas Project number 1 - DIY advent calendar

Wynsors very kindly sent us a box of goodies this week including some arts and craft bits as well as some Christmas treats to get us in the Christmas mood now it's December! *I know I keep saying 'it's December!' - I cannot promise not to do this for the rest of 2016...* We were also sent a pair of slippers for each child and they're delighted with their first slippers. Daddy has since requested a pair of slippers too. You could probably guess without looking at the photo below what slippers Oliver picked - obviously Star Wars! Isabelle went for her favourite which is Paw Patrol - she just loves Skye at the moment.
We're going to do another few arts and crafts Christmas posts leading up to Christmas with this great little bundle from Wynsors but the children were so keen to make something today that we decided to do something little.

Isabelle has multiple allergies which makes Christmas advent calendars a little tricky - Grandma has got her a moo free one which she loves (So much that actually the sneaky little lady helped herself to not one but two chocolates today!!!) but yesterday at Beavers with Oliver they gave me a brilliant idea for allergy children and crafts around Christmas time to help them feel involved because having allergies can be isolating at times. They were making their own advent calendars! Why hadn't I thought of this before?
Luckily it just so happens egg boxes were included in the parcel from Wynsors so I was able to make one for Isabelle this afternoon using some sweets we already had in the cupboard. I wrapped the jelly babies in cling film so they had a wrapper on them. I had two little helpers but they kept trying to eat the sweets!

So now Isabelle can open one bit each day to get a sweetie after he dinner. Here's the cute slippers we were sent from Wynsors, the children are both delighted with them and are looking forward to having warm feet at home this winter!




I've never heard of Wynsors before so after a quick google I found that they were established in 1956 and have since grown from a handful of small high street stores to a leading UK family footwear retailer. I was really looking forward to seeing the slippers in person and finding out if they're as good as they look - they're a fantastic price actually. Star Wars are £9 and Paw Patrol are £9 too. Both children think they're very comfortable and I have to say they are made to a high standard, I'm confident these will be safe for my children to have on their feet. I think that they would make a great addition to a Christmas eve box!

I'm looking forward to publishing more craft posts using the bits included in the box so watch this space! 

Mary-Kate, x

*please note that we were sent this box including the slippers for the purpose of this post. All views are my own*

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Toddler Christmas Gift Guide 2016

So it's December already huh? Where did 2016 actually go - it went so fast for our family! Now it's December I will get very christmasy - I like to keep the magic of Christmas time special by not starting in November because then it starts to drag out, we have a small house so if we had Christmas tree up already we wouldn't have much space for anything else. I thought I'd do a Christmas gift guide for toddlers as it can be hard to decide what to buy for them, I am going to also do a wishlist for Isabelle but within this toddler gift guide its all things that we currently own and would recommend to another parent for their child. It's good to get recommendations from others when looking at toys because you want to know you're buying the right thing and not wasting your money.

Isabelle is 2 years old but these are suitable for all toddlers and I'm sure they would love them.

1. Classic Tiny Tears doll - really impressed Isabelle, it's the perfect size and perfect weight for her to carry. She loves brushing the hair which with her other babies she isn't able to do. She loves the features of the doll too  - she was so shocked when her doll had her first wee! You can read more about what we think when we do our full review this week!
2. Thomas the tank engine glowing musical Thomas - Isabelle loves trains and this cuddly train is perfect size for her to take out with us and cuddle. It isn't just a soft toy as its musical with the Thomas theme tune and more - you can read our review *here!
3.Justin's House Playset - We love love this! It's really well built with cute, figures of Justin and Robert the robot. You can read our full review *here!.
4. Twirlywoos - who doesn't love this programme on cbeebies! Bring the stories to life with this gorgeous soft cuddly Twirlywoo you can read what we think *here.

5.SmarTrike - these are great. Kids love them and you get to places quicker than them walking! Result. Isabelle loves the pink colour of hers.
6. Books and who better than a Julia Donaldson one? We all love the Gruffalo - he's ever so popular but don't forget to look at the others by her, like this one; 'what the ladybird heard next', its a follow on from 'what the ladybird heard' and both of my children love them.
7. A personalised apron to do arts and crafts like this one from My 1st Years, Isabelle was given it as a present for her first birthday by Michaels cousin and she's still using it and loving it now.
8.Little Tikes cosy coupe - obviously every child loves these cars and you can get some cute designs. Oliver had a police car and Isabelle has a cute pink/blue one.
9. Sofia the first range of toys is so gorgeous, Isabelle's favourite is this camera which is perfect size for her and she likes to take it on days out incase she needs to take some photos. You can read more about the range we were sent here!
10. My first JCB - stacking JCB is a great toy to encourage children to learn numbers and shapes. Isabelle loves anything related to diggers, dumper trucks ect so this was a very popular toy for her. It's brightly coloured and well made. Our full review will be published later so I'll link here when it is live!
11. In The Night Garden range - there's some very cute items to pick from. Why not have the bath toys in your toddlers stocking? They would be perfect. You can see what we think here!
12. Crayola - our favourite. They're always good quality products which are washable = parenting win because toddlers can be unpredictable. These pip-squeaks are Isabelle's favourite as they're perfect size for her small hands and the colours are lovely.
I could go on and on about what to get your toddler this Christmas but I hope this has given you a few ideas!

Mary-Kate, x

*please note, we may have been sent some of these items for previous reviews but they were not sent to us for this gift guide - we just like them so they were included!*

Thomas The Tank Engine - Glowing musical Thomas.


Thomas the Tank engine isn’t just for boys!

Oliver loved Thomas the tank engine but so does his little sister Isabelle. It upsets me when people think that little girls shouldn’t like it because it’s a ‘boys’ thing. No way, Thomas is cool and Isabelle agrees – that’s why when she was sent this gorgeous Large glowing musical Thomas from one of our favourite’s Golden Bear Toys she was delighted. The best toys are often character toys because they learn a lot from them, they also show you how they’ve been listening and paying attention when they’re acting out scenes from the TV shows or books that you’ve read to them.

When Thomas arrived he was greeted with the biggest of cuddles, which made Isabelle realise just how cuddly Thomas is before she quickly moved on to find out all his features. She soon realized that to make Thomas say fun phrases. She needed to press the black funnel and then to hear the iconic theme tune that everyone loves you squeeze the blue dome ontop of Thomas! That’s one theme tune that I can listen to all day and not be irritated. It was easy for my toddler to find out how to work this soft cuddly musical toy and she loved how when the tune plays, Thomas cheeks softly glow. Make sure you turn the lights off to appreciate how cute it is in the dark!

Thomas is made from super soft fabric and at 23cm long it’s the perfect size for a toddler to cuddle, suitable from 10 months+ although if you were having a Thomas themed nursery it would fit beautifully in the corner of the room. RRP is £24.99 which is slightly more than I would like to pay for it but having said that it is Thomas, it is lovely and it is really sweet. Isabelle seems to love it so maybe I would after all. You can easily replace batteries if you need to but it will arrive with some to begin with.

Mary-Kate, x

*Please note that we were sent this item for free in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.*

This was our month... November 2016

November went so quickly, we're December now! How did that happen? Time seems to be flying past really fast and I want a pause button. Here's just some of what we got up to in November.

Oliver you got player of the match at football for the second time and you were so happy! We're really proud of you and how hard you're trying at school. You got your star in class too which is great!... Some kids say you shouldn't wear your football boots because they're yellow it means they're for girls - they're not. They're boys  (not sure if you get boy/girl football boots anyway, think they're for everyone!) and I'm sure Troy Deeney would love them too. I'm proud that although you've been teased you've continued to wear them - there may have been tears but you've continued! Life is full of things we need to stand up and say 'no, I'm better than that!'. Oh and p.s I love your yellow boots. I'm tempted to tweet Troy Deeney to see what he thinks of them too. Maybe I will.


Isabelle we went for lots of walks in the woods but the end of November has seen you spending more time in your pushchair on school runs wrapped up in your footmuff because it's got oh so cold really quickly - I'm making the most out of the bugaboo as I know this is our last year of using it. I love you being so snuggly warm in it.

I went to Blogfest in London and learnt lots of things from very cool people which has inspired me to keep blogging. I love having this blog, somewhere to go back to over the years to read all my mummy memories.

I took Isabelle to Craft Tub near Grandmas house and she painted a frog. It was so sweet how she decided actually she wanted a multi-coloured frog and she didn't care what anyone else had to say about the matter. Good for you!

She also painted some Christmas decorations which Grandma paid for! Which was very exciting. A tree for cousin Harry, Rudolf for Grandad/grandma and a gingerbread man for us to keep for our tree! I got the tree out of the loft the other day by the way - it wont be up for a few more weeks yet!

Oliver had a remembrance service at the church with Beavers which he enjoyed being part of. Now he is invested in beavers which he is very excited about! I've started helping at Beavers every week with Oliver and it's lovely to watch the kids try new things. I want Oliver to get more confidence and I genuinely think Beavers is a fantastic place for confidence to grow.

We went to the LEGO preview event of the new London store and it was amazing! You can read about it here! *click* It was amazing...

Isabelle did lots of ballet - she loves her Baby Ballet classes with Anna!

Myself and Michael tried square sausages and these reminded me so much of my dad. I miss him. More every year. I wish he was here so I could buy him some random 'dad' gifts this Christmas.  

Oliver really impressed me when he offered to carry Isabelle's toy pushchair back from the village even though kids from his school saw him! That made me so proud. They've been calling him a baby for items he has had in his packed lunch but I was so proud of him yesterday because he said to me "Don't let yesterday take up too much of today" I'm going to remember that mummy - we have a sign that says that hanging in our house. Bless him!

I gave Isabelle her first hair blow dried experience and you hated it at the time but LOVED your hair afterwards and couldn't stop looking at yourself smiling. it was so soft and looked even more blonde. You looked beautiful. You always do.

I was sent some gorgeous confetti and reviewed it here *click*... our wedding really isn't far away now! Scary stuff. Remember how I was going to be a size 12 by our wedding? Nah me neither. I left Inspired Personal Health and Fitness this month, it wasn't working for me and what they had promised in a year to get healthy didn't happen! It's such a shame as with the correct support it could have been amazing. However I was always left injured which is not what you want from semi-personal training. Anyway onwards and upwards!

We got sent lots of cool toys to review this month all of which will be up on the blog soon in time for Christmas shopping.

Both kids put Christmas jumpers on for Willows farm bloggers event which was amazing! We met Santa and both kids had an amazing time.

We went to the village Christmas light switch on.


We've had a really busy month and I can't wait to write about what we got up to in December 2016 - the last month of the year! The year before we get married... we get married soon! I've said that... I'm rambling... eek!

Happy December!

Mary-Kate, x


 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Interactive Musical Chickedy by Golden Bear Toys

 
Back in the summer we reviewed some cool flying twirlywoos which the children loved and I thought were pretty cool too – they fly really high and reminded me of a toy I had when I was little, you can check them out here flying twirlywoos review for our full review of them.

As we were so impressed with the first twirlywoo toy we reviewed, we were delighted to be sent an Interactive Musical Chickedy by Golden Bear toys as Twirlywoos is still one of our favourite things to watch on TV and Isabelle has barely let go of it since it arrived, we’ve taken Chickedy on the school run many a times and it’s always a conversation starter “oh, that’s the cbeebies programme” or one of the children trying to touch it whilst Isabelle clings on …“my precious”... Super-soft and cuddly it’s ideal for little ones who will have hours of fun with their new friend. Perfect size for a toddler cuddle. Press Chickedy’s left hand to hear fun phrases and dance along to two tunes from the show when the right hand is gently squeezed.




The buttons within the hands are ideal size for toddlers to be able to use themselves which is great from a parents point of view and a toddlers too as they love to be independent don’t they?
Approx 23cm sitting it’s a great size too.

Their tummies feature soft glowing lights in pretty rainbow colours with a satin cloud which looks great in the dark! The bendy arms make it possible to act out different poses from the show and children love this feature. Brightly coloured, good quality material and fantastic interactive features means this toy gets a massive thumbs up from us. Suitable for children aged 10 months and over.
 
Isabelle has a select few ‘chosen ones’ toys which get taken up to bed with her every night and this interactive musical Twirly Woo has made the shortlist! She then loves to get up in the morning to press the button and start the day with a twirlywoo dance!

RRP is £24.99.

You can find more of the Twirlywoo range here
Twirlywoos collection
 

*Please note that we were sent this item for free of charge for the purpose of this review*