Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pokémon Art - A crafty afternoon; poké-style!



In the summer, we reviewed the fantastic Nintendo 3DS/2DS game - Pokemon Art Academy. Nintendo recently sent the children a boxful of Pokemon arts & crafts so we got crafty poké-style!!

They sent an amazing Fennekin soft toy along with the craft goodies so the girls set to work, drawing the cute but quite temperamental Pokémon - careful of those fiery ears!


Didn't they do well!!! The Pokémon Art Academy game is brilliant, if you haven't read our review yet.  Highly recommended!

Do you have wardrobe envy over your babies' clothes?


If might sound like a silly thing to say, but sometimes I do look at my children's wardrobes and think.... "wow!". They are not spoilt my any means, but they are certainly better dressed than I am! I am still wearing my comfy clothes from when I was pregnant and although I have obviously added to my wardrobe since I gave birth, it's basic, to say the least.

I'm not alone in that realisation either,  according to an interesting survey commissioned by Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure, more than seven in ten mothers feel that their babies are better dressed than they are.

Children's fashions are so trendy these days; I sometimes see a beautiful outfit for my daughter and think, " I want one!" Some tots wear designer labels just like celeb baby North, the daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kayne West. Mine don't, but they could probably open a small clothing outlet between them!

The survey also shows that 73% of new mums think that their babies have better wardrobes than them, as they spend almost half the amount on themselves when they've had a baby. I'm the same, if I do have any spare pennies, it will always go on the children before myself.

Mums said that they spent an average of 64% less time getting ready in the morning after having a baby. Well, yes - it's not just you anymore; plus there's the exhaustion and that fact that just going for a wee alone takes military planning!

Seven in ten new mums  (76%) admit to being bored of wearing the same outfits several times a week, whilst nearly a third (28%)  said that they lacked inspiration on what to wear after having a baby.

The most hated clothing items for mums were:
  • Tight clothing (41%)
  • Buttons (18%)
  • Unnatural fabrics (14%)
  • Scratchy textures (13%)
  • Zips (7%)
Of course, their are more pressing issues going on when you've just had a baby, but I really do think it's important that new mums don't feel like they've lost their identity; feeling great about YOU is vital. YOU are AMAZING after all.
As a result of the survey, the researchers commissioned celebrity stylist and new mum Grace Woodward; a former judge on the TV show Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model, to compile 'Pram Glam' - a post-pregnancy style guide for new mums.

The guide offers practical and stylish wardrobe ideas and quick and easy fashion tips, giving new mums some fashion inspiration without requiring them to worry about their wardrobe or investing in impractical or expensive clothing.

Grace said, "Having had my little boy six months ago, I have struggled with the overhaul my wardrobe needed to help me look and feel great. I've compiled these style tips as I want mums to give themselves some attention too, so that they can celebrate their bodies and this new chapter in their lives. After all, there's nothing more beautiful that self-confidence and the joy that comes from being a new mum."

This actually made me feel a little teary. Grace is absolutely right;  I have a copy of the style guide and it's made me realise that stylish doesn't have to mean expensive and practical doesn't have to mean frumpy, either!

Michelle Kimber, brand manager for Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure, said: " Our research shows that mums can lack inspiration and feel that they have no time for themselves once baby arrives. We know that mums want more information and advice about dressing post-baby and that's why we have teamed up with Grace Woodward to help mums get their style mojo back and feel as great about their new look as they do with their new, exciting life."

The style guide can be downloaded from www.persilandcomfort.co.uk


*I was sent a copy of the style guide and some lovely Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary giveaway!



I grew up watching Ghostbusters, so I am more than a little bit excited (and feeling rather old) to be bringing you this celebratory giveaway courtesy of  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

To celebrate the special 30th anniversary Blu-ray™ release of Ghostbusters, I’ve teamed up with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to give one lucky winner a Ghostbuster’s poster and key ring courtesy of Pyramid, and a copy of the Blu-ray! 



From September 1 fans will be able to own the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray™ and a two-disc Blu-ray box set, which includes the Ghostbusters II 25th Anniversary Edition, debuting on Blu-ray.  Both films have been fully restored and remastered in 4K and will be presented in high definition on Blu-ray from those 4K sources. 


Both the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters I & II Blu-rays come loaded with exclusive bonus materials, including revealing conversations with director Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes from Ghostbusters II and more. The Ghostbusters anniversary edition features the original music video of the Oscar® nominated song “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., while Ghostbusters II includes the original music video for “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown. 

In addition, Ghostbusters will contain all previously released legacy content, commentary and an interactive Slimer Mode, offering fans a picture-in-picture graphical viewing experience.



The Blu-ray™ Anniversary Editions of GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS I & II are available now



GHOSTBUSTERS has been restored and remastered in 4K and will be returning to cinemas for one day only across the UK on October 28th.
 
To be in with a chance of winning with super duper prize, simply answer the following question and then complete the Rafflecopter widget below.

According to the text in this post, Ghostbusters II  includes the original music video for “On Our Own” by who?

Preventing Cyber-Crime - Work & Play #BYOD



As a parent, I tend to worry mostly about my children's online safety. All of our many gadgets, whether android or IOS have some form of anti-virus or security on board. We make sure we are well educated on all the latest information and advice on keeping our children safe, but what about work?

Hubby spends a lot of time on the iPad for both work and play activities (when he can prise it off the 6 year old whose likely to be playing Minecraft, that is). To be able to relax at the end of the evening with a 'toy' that lets you play games, watch movies and stay in touch with friends and family is a godsend. When that 'toy' becomes a godsend at work you know you are onto a winner; especially when it allows you to work from home or at least with more flexible hours.

Lots of companies are starting to use 'Bring Your Own Device' strategies for various reasons - let's face it; most of us upgrade our  smartphones/tablets as soon as out contracts allow us to so they are probably a lot more advanced than the average IT dept. We like our personal laptops and know how to use them, so it's no wonder many employee's like using their own devices for work.

Not only that, it allows for flexible working, which is brilliant; especially for working parents. A happy employee is a productive employee, right?

Security is a worry though as it's not just your own information that you have to protect - it's your business or workplace's sensitive information too. What is your phone or tablet was stolen? What if you left it on the tube when running late? What if your device was hacked? It's scary stuff, but Dell have created this fantastic infographic that explains how easy it is to keep your employers (and your own) information safe and sound.

What do you think? Do you BYOD?



Sunday, 14 September 2014

We are Lottie ambassadors! Our review and a very special giveaway!


We have a shiny new badge on the blog as we recently became very proud Lottie ambassadors. To celebrate this and Lottie's second anniversary, we have an exciting competition for you all; plus our very first Lottie doll review.


If you've not seen Lottie before, allow me to introduce her to you. 
"Lottie celebrated her two year anniversary last month, having made her appearance in 2012 as the first ever ‘pro-girl’ doll. 

Designed for girls aged 3 - 9, Lottie was developed with scientific expertise from leading British academics, alongside consumer research, to address parental concerns over negative body image, an increased perception of premature sexualisation, as well as a desire for a return to good old-fashioned creative and imaginative play."
I absolutely love that Lottie looks like a little girl - she has a healthy, child-like body rather than that of a unrealistic, sexualised figure. She wears age appropriate clothing too - no revealing clothing, high heels or make-up.    

The Year 1 range evoked an international debate over the issues Lottie aimed to address, resulting in approval and praise from parents, professionals and campaigners. Unsurprisingly, Lottie has won various awards and has become a best-seller in over eight countries across the globe.
"In 2013, Arklu, the company behind the Lottie brand, took the original ideals a step further, with the introduction of their year two range of dolls that, not only enjoy a fuller lifestyle of mixed and varied activities, but wholly embrace the motto ‘Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You’.
Taking on-board feedback from consumers and retailers, Arklu set about designing a range of dolls that continue to encompass the core principles they had originally set out to achieve whilst embracing new ones.  They subsequently created a set of six female dolls which defy conventional gender stereotypes by exploring inspiring, empowering and adventurous themes."
 The year 1 range featured six dolls:

Pony Flag Race
Spring Celebration Ballet
English Country Garden
Branksea Festival
Autumn Leaves
Snow Queen 

Little One fell in love with Pony Flag Race Lottie as soon as she first set eyes on her. Being a huge animal lover herself; Little One immediately imagined herself riding her prized pony, winning rosettes for her races.

When she arrived; there was an instant connection and the beautiful box that Lottie arrived in told us that we were in for a real treat.  
Upon opening the box, Little One gasped as she saw Lottie in 'the flesh' for the very first time.


"Wow! there's a flag... and a riding hat.... and.... what's that?? A rosette? How cool!!"

As soon as Lottie was out of the box, Little One was playing. They enjoyed friendly conversation, and Little One quickly decided that she had to check out every little detail of Lottie's outfit. Off came her gilet and boots and Little One complimented her pretty purple shirt. 



"Oooh that's where the rosette goes!" 
 
 Lottie is  quite a small doll, measuring at 7" (18cm) she is the ONLY doll of this size currently on the market, making her very easy to carry about and pack to take out on adventures. Her hair is super shiny and very similar to Little One's own hair - something she commented on herself.

"Aw you have dark hair like mine - it's very lovely. Mine's lovely too."

This was amazing to hear her say, as I do worry about how my girl's see themselves. This is another reason why I love the principles and ideals that Lottie encompasses. She promotes a positive body image and encourages girls to become empowered and believe in themselves.

Lottie is quite a flexible girl - her arms, legs and head move and twist which Little One seems to be rather taken with. I guess it makes her seem more realistic?

Little One says that she loves Lottie's eyes as they are "big and happy" and her arms can go round and round like hers *Cue Little One almost taking off with her 'helicopter arms'!*


She can stand independently which thrilled Little One as she was able to "be brave" and stand on the fence outside, then successfully maneuvered the steep beams that she need to cross in order to reach the pony stables.

 "Isn't she brave, mummy!" 

Little One absolutely adores Lottie and it's so lovely to see how she plays and interacts with her. She talks to her like she is her best friend and she hugs her tight before bed.  



If you'd like to find out more about Lottie and the range available, you can find her on the Lottie website, Facebook and Twitter.

Lottie dolls are £16.99 and accessory packs are £7.99.


WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN!

To be in with a chance of winning two LOTTIE dolls and two accessory sets from the existing range, simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and conditions are stated on the widget
     

    Thursday, 11 September 2014

    Degustabox August + Brioche Bread Pudding recipe


    *Review*

    I say it every month, and I'll say it again... each month Degustabox gets better and better. I had an extra item in my box again this month as I've reviewed all items from both the alcohol and alcohol-free boxes, but both variations contained so much value.

    If you don't know what Degustabox is yet, have a read of my first review post - they provide food & drink lovers like myself, a box of surprises each month, and I for one, LOVE it!

    Here's what was in this month's box:

    Depending on which box you received, you would have had EITHER the Caribbean Twist alcoholic drink OR the Fever Tree mixers.

    I thought the box had a perfect mix of food, drink and treats and each product excited me rather a lot :) I do love trying new things, which is why I'm such a Degustabox fan.
    • Caribbean Twist -Strawberry Daiquiri - Sweet but not overly so. A real treat on a Friday night in front of the telly or to enjoy over ice with friends. We really enjoyed this and will be buying again.
    • Lindt Hello - I'd bought the chocolate bars from this range, and always appreciated the cuteness of these tins of chocs when I saw them in the supermarket, but never had the privilege of trying them until now. What a treat to find these in the box! They are delicious, which was expected from a superior brand such as Lindt but also very moreish! You have been warned! ;)
    • Berry White fruit drinks - We received a rather tropical sounding 'Peach & Goji Berry' flavour and it tasted amazing! Berry White drinks combine carefully balanced exotic superfruits and healthy extracts to bring you a refreshing taste sensation like you'd never tasted before. We loved this and will definitely be buying some more.
    •  Mexican Dave's Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips - thanks to Degustabox, we are no stranger to Mexican Dave. He's a good friend now, and our snack cupboard often houses some of his yummy tortilla chips. They taste great; just as good as more expensive brands and at £1 a pack, they tick all of our boxes!! Mmmmm!!
    • Fever Tree Mixers x2 - Hubby and I really like 'special' drinks. By that I mean drinks that feel special; grown-up if you like. Hubby in particular is a big fan on tonic water and he says that Fever Tree tonic water is the best that he has ever tasted.  These stylish, award winning range of tonic waters and other mixers are made with the highest quality natural ingredients sourced from small specialist producers around the world. They are the choice of mixer in 7 out of the top 10 restaurants in the world. We liked them so much that we tracked some down in Sainsbury's and bought some more - do try some if you can! 
    • Dr. Oetker Edible Cupcake Cases -  I recently reviewed these rather funky edible cupcake cases, so I was very pleased to find a pack in the Degustabox. They work really well when baking with children or with little one's in mind - kids find it fascinating that they can actually eat the case too! I don't like rice paper so I wasn't quite so keen, but they are really cool and perfect for parties!
    • Brioche Pasquier - This is a brand that we are very familiar with, especially after we got together for the Race For Life this year. We received Pains au chocolat and Pains au lait which are both fabulous. I have seen the new Croissants au Buerre in the shops too, so I'll be buying those for my breakfasts very soon! I used the Pains au lait in my recipe this month, so scroll down for more yummies!!
    • Cawston Press Kids Blends - Degustabox introduced us to the scrumptious Cawston Press fizzy drinks earlier this year so I was delighted to discover Kids Blends, which is  gorgeous pressed juice and mixed with 40% water for a lighter, but not-from-concentrate, artificial junk-free  juice drink. The kids loved it; which is good enough for me!
    • Schwartz Flavour Shots - Mexican Fajitas and Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken - We absolutely love Schwartz Flavour Shots in this house. They help you to create a delicious, healthy family meal without any fuss. I was thrilled to find two new flavours to try in this month's Degustabox. We have already tried the Spanish Smoked Paprika Chicken flavour shot and I can reveal that it is GORGEOUS! The whole family enjoyed it.
    • Not shown - Moma! Bircher Museli - As Degustabox like their subscribers to have the opportunity to try all sort of new foodie products, they have introduced full-price vouchers for any chilled or frozen products that they want you to try. I must admit, as this month's voucher was limited to Sainsbury's and Waitrose, it meant that so far, I haven't managed to locate the product at all. However, the voucher is good until the end of the month, so all is not lost!
    As you can see, this has been another fantastic box full of really exciting foodie products. I really, really like Degustabox and hope you do too! If you'd like to try it for yourselves, you can save £3 off your first box by entering this code:  FEP13

    As always, I come up with a recipe using at least one product from the current month's box. As I have been craving bread pudding, I decided to make some using Brioche Pasquier Pains Au Lait instead of regular bread. The result was really quite something! The recipe below is based on one from Baking Mad which is rather lovely, but I've tweaked it over time and use olive oil as a short cut to melting butter!

     INGREDIENTS
    •  1 pack of  Brioche Pasquier Pains Au Lait, torn into small pieces.
    • 350g dried mixed fruit (or any dried fruit you like!)
    • Zest of 1 orange and juice of half.
    • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
    • 1 tsp Mixed spice
    • 1 tsp Cinnamon 
    • 75g  Muscavado sugar, I prefer dark but light is fine too
    • 2 eggs, whisked
    • About 200ml milk  
    • 3 tsp Olive oil
    • 3 tbsp Demerara sugar
     METHOD
    • Add the brioche, fruit, orange, spices and muscavado sugar to a large bowl.
    • Mix  with your hands or wooden spoon.
    • Add the eggs and combine well.
    • Add the milk and set aside for 20 minutes or so until the mixture and soaked up all of the milk. If it seems a little dry, add a little more milk - it should be gloriously sloppy (but not swimming in milk).
    • Once soaked, add the olive oil and mix through with your hands. This will give you a change to squish all the brioche and ensure it's soaked throughly.
    • Place in a lined and greased baking tin (or small roasting tin) and sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
    • Bake in preheated oven (180C) for about an hour.
    • Cut into squares and either serve warm or save until tomorrow (I prefer it cold and a day old!)
     Don't forget to Check out Degustabox on Facebook and Twitter!


    Wednesday, 10 September 2014

    App of the month: Polagram - breathe new life into your smartphone photos!

    *Review*

    This summer certainly was a beauty - my phone is absolutely crammed full of snapshots of our days together as well as precious photos of the children as babies; first days at school, milestones and achievements - such proud moments that I will cherish forever.

    I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I always mean to get them printed and at the back of my mind I know that there is a risk that I might lose all of my precious photos if my phone was to break down, yet I still never get round to it.

    Image © Polagram
    My app of the month is Polagram; a fantastic way to easily and quickly print your smartphone photos. Simply take your photo, upload it to Polagram and they will print your photos and send them directly to your door.

    This has also given me a fantastic way to easily send real photos to family and friends without having to print them myself and remember to go to the post office to post them. Admittedly, it might only save me minutes and a walk to the post office, but it's so lovely to look through the snapshots we've taken that month, select the best ones and then have them arrive at the door a few days later.



    The lovely people from Polagram told me that many of their users use the prints to decorate their homes for special occasions such as a wedding or a birthday.  I loved that idea so much that I decided that I don't have to wait for a special occasion; and have started popping photos inside the shelves in my kitchen - that way, every time I cook, I see my precious babies and can't help but smile.

    You can also print and send posters, cases and photobooks via the app which is super easy to use - simply choose your product; size/style of your print and then upload your images from your phone (iPhone and Android), Facebook or Instagram. Prints are just 29p each and you can edit and adjust them before printing too!

    It was so easy to use and as the prints are dispatched the next day, Monday to Friday; you won't have to wait very long for your order (other products take a little bit longer). The prints are great quality - I was thrilled with mine! There is an extra cost for shipping, which varies dependent on products ordered, but it's low, from £1.69 for prints to £3.90 for larger items such as photobooks and posters.

    I absolutely love this app and I will be using it regularly to send prints to relatives across the pond, especially as there are no extra shipping charges for overseas deliveries!

    For more information visit http://www.polagr.am or watch this short video to see how it works!
     


    I was given a code in order to receive some free prints so that I could review the app. All opinions remain 100% honest as always.
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