20 May 2012

Breathe Some Fresh Air Into The Home This Summer

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This summer, you can bring the colours of your favourite season indoors, and all it takes is a little creativity and minimal effort. If you want your home to reflect the festive tones and breezy mood of the sunniest time of year, here’s how you can make it happen.

Bring life into the home. Summer is the perfect time to bring even more life into your home with freshly cut flowers from time to time. Place them on the kitchen or dining room table or in another common area where the entire family will be able to enjoy them. Also, if you have potted plants, remember to move them closer to windows or farther away, depending on their sunlight needs.

Set the scene with new decor. You don’t have to do a complete furniture overhaul to make it look like you redecorated. One easy way to give your home a summer face-lift is to buy sheer or floral print curtains or drapes from Achica Living. You can also think of creative, free ways to decorate, such as bringing home seashells from your next beach trip to place on shelves or the coffee table. Even still, a brightly coloured blanket stylishly draped over your couch can make the whole room pop.



Pop open a can of paint. One of the most instantaneous ways to liven up a home for summer is to paint the walls a brighter colour. Choose a vibrant yellow or serene light green for your walls, and you’ll be reminded of the blooming foliage all day long. Lighter colours also make your home cooler, which is key if you don’t have central air conditioning. And if you don’t have time to paint an entire room or two, you could at least freshen up the trim and moulding that lines the walls for a little home decor pick-me-up.

Use your family photos for inspiration. Summer is also a time for family holidays, so why not bring some of those memories back with you? If you took plenty of family photos, place them in some summer-inspired picture frames from Achica. Or if you’re in the mood for something unique, you can have your photos screen-printed on cotton cloth that you can use to sew pillowcases for throw pillows. You can also create collages, drink coasters, and a plethora of other decor items using your photos.

Get busy with the garden. Because not all home decor should take place inside, you should also make sure that your garden looks well-kept and welcoming to visitors. Take the time to plant a few extra seeds so that you can continuously have something in bloom, and pull up all those pesky weeds that impede plant growth. You may also want to apply a layer of mulch to protect them from aphids.

You can create most of the things you need for these tips, but don’t forget to also shop around for the best deals on decor and summer items to make your home feel inviting all season long.
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15 May 2012

Review: Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike

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Logan is obsessed with anything that has wheels and when he reached the age of 2 we decided it would be a good idea to purchase a little balance bike for him so that he could get outside more and learn to keep his balance and eventually progress on to a big bike when he's older. As luck would have it the lovely people from Chicco offered Logan their Red Bullet Balance Bike to test and review for them. We were thrilled to say the least.

When the bike arrived it wasn't built so my other half had to assemble it but it was so easy I think even Logan could have managed it. Instructions are provided but all the other half had to do was put the wheels, seat and handle bars on. It took all of 10 minutes at the most and the bike was ready to go. The other half did build the bike at night when Logan was in his bed as we've learnt before children don't like to be kept waiting for toys even if they only take 10 minutes. That's a life time for a little boy!


This little balance bike is a striking metallic red and looks like a mini bmx which we think is pretty cool. It has the Chicco logo at the front and 'chicco red-bullet' on either side of the frame and it looks quite good, not overly tacky like some bikes can be. The first brillaint thing the other half and I noticed about this bike is that it's so light weight. I think it weighs around 2.7kgs to be exact but that feels like nothing in your hands. Perfect for when your child gets bored and wants off the bike - I do have to say this has never really happened to us yet. Logan wants to stay on the bike, it's only when we have to go home he takes a tantrum and we have to carry him and the bike home!!


The seat is fully adjustable so can grow with your child and we found that this bike is good for taller children like Logan. He's only 2 and this bike is suggested for kids aged 3-5 years but since Logan is as tall and maybe a bit taller than some 3 year olds it's perfect for him. I've seen some balance bikes which look tiny in comparison that don't have adjustable seats which Logan wouldn't be able to use but this one from Chicco is perfect. The handle bars have nice grips on each end with little nobbly bits for extra grip too, and the wheels aren't tyres! They're made of some sort of hard foam type stuff which is actually really good as we don't have to worry about getting a puncture if Logan happens to ride over anything sharp.


Logan has had great fun on this balance bike and can ride it quite well. He hasn't gone really fast on it yet as I think he's still a little unsure of his balance but he's definitely getting there and sure as hell doesn't want to get off anyway! When the weathers rubbish he'll ride the bike up and down our hall so it has been used quite a bit with all the rain recently.

You can purchase your child their very own Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike from Amazon for RRP £34.99.

Overall this is a fantastic balance bike which the other half and I just can't fault. It's light weight so easy enough for us to carry and easy enough for Logan to pick up and put down on his own. The price is very reasonable and one of the cheapest compared to other bikes but that doesn't mean a lack in quality. Logan loves it and that's what counts for us, he goes back to his bike time and time again and never seems to be bored of it.

Mummies rating - 10/10
Logan's rating - 10/10

Please visit www.chicco.co.uk for more products and information.
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13 May 2012

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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11 May 2012

Fashion Friday #15

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Helmet: Halfords
Zippy Cardigan: TU at Sainsburys
Trousers: Next
Shoes: Clarks
Balance Bike: Chicco

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9 May 2012

Review: Disney Cars Bath Time Fun

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My son is a big fan of bath times and an even bigger fan of Disney Cars so when the lovely people from H&A asked if my son would like to test out their new Disney Cars bath products I jumped at the chance. We can never have enough Cars toys in our house so I couldn't wait to give them to Logan to try out. We were lucky enough to be sent the Lightning McQueen Wash Buddy, Build your own bath time Cars and the Lightning McQueen Bath & Shower Gel.

"H&A specialises in producing high quality and creative children’s toiletries under license for a number of high profile properties. Based in York, H&A has been operational for over 20 years. The company also has a variety of other major licenses including Ben 10, Disney Princess, Disney Fairies, Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo and Disney Minnie Mouse."

Lightning McQueen Wash Buddy
This brilliant bath toy looks exactly like Lightning McQueen and is basically a sponge which has been made from water friendly soft fabrics to help encourage your child to wash and play all at the same time. It's about the size of my hand so the perfect size for little ones and I often use this wash buddy to pretend it's driving over Logan but secretly I'm actually managing to get his face and body washed without any tantrums as it's just a big game to my son. When I do this my son also wants a shot at driving the wash buddy over his arms and legs so it really is good at encouraging children to wash and also helping them to learn how to at the same time. RRP £4.00 Available in Boots & Asda from May.


Build your own bath time Cars
These are great! They remind me of the toys you would get from a kinder egg that you have to build. Same concept but these bath time cars are much bigger, made from foam and can float on water. I don't think a child would be able to build these themselves, well certainly not a 2 year old but with an adults help it's easy. You can either build Lightning McQueen or Mater and you get lots of extra foam shapes to play with including a piston cup, word phrases, checkered finish line, 95 symbol (lightning mcqueen's number) etc. RRP £3.00 and available from Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Lightning McQueen Bath & Shower Gel
I'm always a little sceptical about bath and shower gels with cartoon characters on them but this one isn't too bad. It smells lovely but I do feel you need a good squish to get a decent amount of bubbles and then the bubbles don't last that long which is a shame. It has been dermatologically tested though which is good to hear and I'm assured it's mild and gentle enough to be used every day and for all ages. I've been using this every other day for my son (aged 2) and it seems fine for his skin. He does get quite dry skin but this bath and shower gel hasn't affected that in any way i.e. his skin hasn’t got any worse or any better after using this bath and shower gel. You get a 500ml bottle for RRP £2.00 and it's available from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Superdrug and Asda.

Overall these are some lovely bath products. I'd definitely recommend the Lightning McQueen Wash Buddy, he's supper and well worth £4.00. I wasn't so fussed for the bath and shower gel but I thought the build your own bath time cars were a fab idea. They would make a great unusual gift too.

Mummies rating - 8/10
Logan's rating - 9/10

Please visit www.handa-uk.com for more products and information.
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Review: Comvita Manuka Honey & Snack Bars

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With the seasons all over the place this year and after just having had hailstones last week (in May!!) it's no wonder some people are feeling a bit run down including myself and the other half. The natural health experts Comvita know about feeling great so they've sent me a few of their products to try out. Comvita suggest just a few simple changes and additions to your diet can make a world of difference, and we've all heard that from the doctors so maybe it's time we gave it a try...

Studies show that people who eat breakfast report being in a better mood and having more energy throughout the day so what better way to perk yourself up than by having some Comvita UMF® 10+ Manuka Honey. This honey is made from the unique nectar of wild flowers of the native New Zealand manuka bush. It is one of the most highly prized honeys in the world. Manuka honey is a natural source of carbohydrate, fruit sugars, fructose and glucose, which all play an important role in preventing fatigue. When compared to other sources of sugar, honey keeps blood sugar levels constant, so if you need a sugar fix in your tea why not switch to a teaspoon of manuka? It's really quite tasty and my other half also puts it in his coffee which smells delicious (I've never tried it myself as don't like coffee but it smells good!). Some people also recommend spreading this honey on warm toast or putting a drizzle over your porridge. I'm sure it would taste good over some yogurt as well, yum!

The Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka Honey costs £10.49 for 250g but it does go a long way. The tub that the honey is stored in is also made of plastic instead of glass and it has a square shape which is very handy for spooning out every last drop of honey. No waste here! My other half is a major honey freak and quite hard to please but he really enjoyed the taste of this stuff and would happily purchase in future.

Comvita also sent me a sample of their new Manuka Honey Bars called ‘Energy’ and 'Boost'. The Energy bar contains "five super foods: Manuka Honey UMF®5+, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and cinnamon. All of which are nutrient-rich and packed full of antioxidants. Honey is primarily made up of glucose and fructose which provide the body with energy throughout the day. Each bar includes no less that 10% UMF® Manuka Honey 5+ (about one teaspoon). This special honey contains a unique phyto-chemical - an additional ‘active’ agent with antibacterial qualities effective against stomach complaints and used as a natural pre-biotic. Anecdotally it has also been shown to help combat sore throats, improve immunity and aid absorption of nutrients."
The ‘Boost’ bar contains "all the same five super foods as the Energy bar plus the added anti-oxidant benefits of broccoli powder, with one bar containing the equivalent of 50g of broccoli. Scientists now believe broccoli is the most potent source of Glucoraphanin, a naturally occurring compound that actually kick starts our body’s antioxidant defence enzymes and helps keep them working for much longer than normal antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E."

Both bars were extremely tasty and for someone who isn't a huge fan of honey (i.e. me) I really enjoyed them. My other half who is a huge fan of honey thought these bars were the best thing since sliced bread so there you go. The Energy bar tasted a lot sweeter than the Boost bar so I'd probably recommend that to people who aren't really into their honey but I would eat them both in future. The bars did look like bird food when you opened the wrapper (just being honest!) but don't let that put you off. The taste definitely compensates for looks. The bars cost RRP £1.79 each.
Comvita products are available from selected Boots, Holland & Barrett and all good pharmacies and health food stores or visit www.comvita.co.uk to buy online. For further information call 0800 652 3468.

Overall some lovely honey food products and ones which I would happily buy in future. The price for the Manuka honey is fair as this is often expensive but I feel the price for the snack bars is just a bit of the expensive side. Maybe is they had been around £1.10 to £1.25 it wouldn't have been so bad as I didn't feel there was much eating in them!

Mummies rating - 6/10
Other Half's rating - 9/10

Please visit www.comvita.co.uk for more products and information. You can also see what Comvita get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you.
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8 May 2012

“BORED” Children at risk of missing out on EPIC Family STORIES

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One in three kids find their grandparents’ old stories “boring” – and would rather play computer games or talk to their friends on the phone, it emerged today. And many parents (42%) admit that although they try, their children often “tune out” when personal and family stories are discussed at the dinner table or at family gatherings, putting them at risk of being forgotten forever.

The research marks the launch of Nation of Storytellers (www.nationofstorytellers.com), an initiative by Blurb, the creative publishing platform, to encourage people across the UK to share and record their stories for the benefit of their families and generations to come.

The Nation of Storytellers research report also found only 18 per cent of children regularly sit down with their parents or nan and granddad to listen to stories about the “old days”.  The research carried out among 2000 parents with children under 19, showed that most families feel strongly (68%) that such stories are of great personal significance and should be documented for future generations, yet only 2 in 10 (19%) are currently planning to do so, leaving them at threat of being lost forever.

Eileen Gittins, CEO and founder of Blurb, who commissioned the report said: “Our families are the guardians of the some of the richest stories never told. Unless these personal histories are captured in some shareable form, our children and their children will never understand nor appreciate the contributions our relations made to events both large and small. Great Britain, in particular was at the epicenter of some the most seismic events of the 21st century; in my own family we have the American clan and the British clan and our grandfathers on both sides served in WW1. Knowing that really brings that chapter in history to life in a very personal and meaningful way."


Britons have experienced a number of significant historical events in the past 100 years: from the sinking of the Titanic to the raising of the Mary Rose; from two World Wars to mass peace protests; from Royal coronations to the departure of the “ten pound poms” to Australia. Many families are also guardians of specialist skills, such as rural crafts like thatching and dry stone walling, or have memories of adventures from the past, all of which are at risk of being forgotten.

Gittins continued, "Blurb launched the Nation of Storytellers campaign to uncover and document these fascinating stories. We all have great stories to share, and using services like Blurb, it’s so affordable and simple to preserve them in an elegant, timeless way.”

Liz Fraser, parenting expert, says “With so many things now competing for our children’s attention – whether that’s computer games, mobiles or watching TV – it’s really important that as parents we carve out some time to properly engage with them about our family stories and history. Much of the trick is turning these family narratives into compelling stories and even physical books, so kids are as excited about what Grandad did in the “old days” as they are when hearing the latest Harry Potter or other favourite books at bedtime.”

Liz continued, “It’s also hugely important to provide our children, and even ourselves, with the knowledge of who we are, where we came from and what our ancestors did, so that we can help instil a sense of identity and pride, which we hope will then aid in future development.”

Nation of Storytellers is a campaign to uncover treasured stories from across Britain, which will be turned into a beautiful book so they are never forgotten.  People with stories to share can visit www.nationofstorytellers.com and submit a short synopsis. The judging panel will then select twenty of the most inspiring stories for publication. Each winner will receive five copies of the final collection of stories to share with family and friends, as well as a voucher worth £250 to make books of their own in the future. Entries close on 31 May 2012. The book will be published in September 2012.

Blurb makes it easy for anyone to design, publish, market and sell professional-quality books. With its free bookmaking tools, no matter what your skill level you can make a book or ebook, with prices starting at £1.75.
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Review: Abigail The Interactive Story Buddy

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Well a bunny should be for life and not just for Easter, so I'm glad to say Logan still loves his little Abigail Interactive Story Buddy he kindly received from Hallmark to test and review. My son is more into his books now than ever, constantly shoving a book in Mummy or Daddies face at every given opportunity so to have a companion to read along with is great.

Basically an interactive story buddy is just what it says it should be. A cuddly friendly toy who interacts at different points in the story book along the way. There are several different story buddies to choose from and each one comes with it's own special story book. Ofcourse there are other books you can purchase for each individual story buddy but you get one book to start with. When you read the book allowed there are certain key sentences which are highlighted in colour and your story buddy will react to them. For example in Abigail bunnies book you say "Abigail loved doing grown-up things!" and she responds by saying "Grown-ups have all the fun!". It's all very clever and quite cute although some family members found it rather creepy! Each to their own though. To start Abigail all you have to do is press the little on/off switch under her ear and your away.


Abigail is dressed from head to toe in pink with what looks like a gymnasts outfit and her story is entitled "Abigail and The Balance Beam" so you pretty much know the theme before you've started reading. My son really enjoyed having story time with Abigail bunny and although she is aimed at girls along with her book my son is only 2 so doesn't really care or know the difference. A story is a story to him and if the talking soft toy wants to read along then fantastic as far as he's concerned. The books themselves are quite long so maybe not suited to younger children as Logan did lose interest a few times but I have to say the interactive story buddy did help hold his attention and draw him back in. Waiting for Abigail bunny to speak definitely kept him interested most of the time.

At the start of the year we tested out Cooper the Bear, who is also an interactive story buddy, and one of the major problems I had was getting Cooper to speak back when he was supposed to. I didn't know what I was doing wrong. I was speaking clearly and within a good distance but it just didn't work too well for us. I think it may possibly have been my Scottish accent! I'm delighted to say Abigail was completely different. Almost every time she responded when she was supposed to and only on the odd occasion she didn't, mostly because I wasn't facing her or speaking directly to her which was my fault.


I'm sure Abigail or any of the story buddies would make a great and unusual present for any little boy or girl and they can be purchased from all Hallmark stores or online at www.hallmark.co.uk for RRP £19.99.

Overall myself and my son are really happy with Abigail bunny and apart from the odd time she doesn't respond it makes story time much more exciting. The story buddies are priced fairly I feel as you get the toy plus a book for only £19.99, some cuddly toys on their own without any technology cost £10-£15!

Mummies rating - 8/10
Logan's rating - 9/10

Please visit www.hallmark.co.uk for more products and information. You can also see what Hallmark get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you.
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Trendy Toddler Tuesday

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I'm quickly joining in with the Trendy Toddler Tuesday link up before the day ends. Here is my little star at a family wedding recently. Doesn't he look dapper in his cute waistcoat and tie.


The waistcoat, tie and shirt all came as one piece from Debenhams (£17.00). The black trousers are from Next (£7.00) and the boots are from Clarks (£18.00). Everything was purchased in the sale so a right wee bargain and we've got a few weddings this year so I'm sure he'll get the use from this outfit.



Why not take part in the Trendy Toddler Tuesday yourself over at Mummy's Busy World.

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Emma-Jane 830 Deluxe Nursing Vest from BoobieMilk

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BoobieMilk is a brilliant business centred around expectant and breastfeeding mums. It's the brain child of Karen McCully who provides in-home nursing bra fitting services in and around Sevenoaks, Kent as well as selling products from her website up and down the UK. These products include some lovely maternity and breastfeeding underwear, breastfeeding vests, breastfeeding accessories and much more.


With my love of breastfeeding so apparent, Karen asked if I would like to review one of her products that she currently offers on her website. Ofcourse I kindly agreed and she sent me the very fancy Emma-Jane 830 Deluxe Nursing Vest in black to try out.


First impressions were really good. The nursing vest came with it's own hanger and was protected in a plastic bag to keep the dust and dirt off it. When I laid my hands on it to take it out of the bag I could feel the "deluxe" quality immediately. I'm told it has a much higher cotton content (87% cotton, 13% elastane) than some of the other Emma-Jane nursing vests so that's why it feels incredibly soft to the touch. This vest is also quite thick and has a great stretch to it which means it doesn't sag after you've put it on. I really hate it when you put on a vest top and if you haven't put it on carefully you get a big saggy stretched part in the tummy or back! Not a good look but fear not, you won't get this with the 830 Nursing Vest.


This nursing vest comes in three different sizes at the moment; 10/12, 14/16 & 18/20. I was sent 2 sizes to try out as I'm a size 12 in highstreet stores but I found the size 14/16 most comfortable and probably because of the great stretch this vest has it fitted better than the smaller size. So maybe if you're a size 8/10 I would go for the 10/12 in this vest, and if you're a 12 like me then go for the 14/16.


What makes this nursing vest so unique is that it has a hidden shelf support which means you can use this vest as a bra and top in one. It's straps even have adjusters just like a bra would. I'd say my breasts are on the larger side (DD to E) and this nursing vest gave me great support, it held my breasts firmly but comfortably in one place (where they were meant to be and not at my knees!) which was fantastic. It also meant my back didn't feel like it had as much pressure put on it as sometimes a bra can be uncomfortable. To be honest I'll probably be wearing this vest quite a lot in future even though I'm not breastfeeding as it's so damn comfy!


Now onto the breastfeeding part. It's so very simple even your granny could do it. Simply unclip the top at the strap, pull down and hey presto - boob is ready for baby. How much easier could it get! And to top it off your mummy tummy is conveniently covered and pulled in a bit with the great stretch in this vest. I'd quite like to point out that most of your breast is covered too as the hidden shelf support has a circle cut out where your breast would sit and when your baby is latched on no one will be able to see your breast as it'll still be covered. You can't get any better than that can you!


The Emma-Jane 830 Deluxe Nursing Vest is ideal for all weathers too as it can be worn on it's own on mild days but if it feels a bit cold you could always add another layer without fear of sweating to death.


All in all this is a fab nursing vest and I haven't managed to find fault with it at all. Even the price of RRP £25.00 is quite reasonable and even better at £18.00 which BoobieMilk is currently selling it for. It comes in the basic black or white colours but that's all you need as you could always throw a shirt over the top or once of those lovely lacey tops which are all the rage at the moment. There's plenty of options but I would highly recommend this as part of your breastfeeding essentials.


Mummies rating - 10/10

Please visit www.boobiemilk.co.uk for more products and information. You can also see what Boobiemilk get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you.
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