21 February 2018

Review: Dinosaur Lotto from Orchard Toys

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Orchard Toys have recently released a whole host of new games and jigsaws to the market and Harlow has been lucky enough to receive one to review. Harlow was sent the Dinosaur Lotto game and couldn’t wait to get stuck in when it arrived through the door.


Dinosaur Lotto is a simple fun dinosaur themed matching and memory game which is sure to capture the imaginations of little ones. It’s suitable for ages 3-7 and has two ways to play. You get 4 double-sided jigged boards, 24 item cards and an instructions sheet with the game. It really is a lovely game which players will grasp quickly and the aim is to take it in turns to turn over the colourful dinosaur cards and be the first to fill their dinosaur board with matching pictures.


Like I said there are two ways to play, with the jigged boards having both illustrated and blank sides for simple or more challenging gameplay. This means that both younger and older players can play at the same time by choosing which side of the board they want to suit their needs. So the illustrated side of the board has photos of the items you need to fill your board whereas the blank side doesn’t. The illustrated side is obviously easier to fill however in order to fill the blank side you need to look at the dinosaur picture provided (at the top of the board) and guess what cards match the picture. It’s a great challenge for older children. My son is 8 and he stilled enjoyed doing this with his little sister. He’s competitive so of course wants to win!


As well as being a great game it’s also a brilliant way for children to find and identify dinosaurs as there’s a wide variety of characters to spot and discuss. Not forgetting how colourful this game is as well which will help reinforce recognition for the younger players. Harlow’s quite good at her colours but sometimes gets them mixed up. This game has been perfect for swatting up on her skills especially when I ask her to look for the green dinosaur or the purple dinosaur etc.


What I really love about this game is that it takes seconds to set up and play but also seconds to put away. It’s great for bringing out to have some one to one time or to play as a family. It’s also a really handy size for taking on trips and holidays too. When we next go up North I’ll be packing this in the suitcase to take with us along with a few of the other portable Orchard Toys games.


Overall a perfect family fun game which I’d highly recommend. Dinosaur Lotto retails for £7.50 so won’t break the bank and it’s fab for those dino mad kids in your life. As an extra little bonus Orchard Toys have a lovely section on their website entitled Things to do. If you click in there you’ll be able to find some free fun fact sheets on dinosaurs. It’s a great way for some extra home education and learning.

We were sent this game in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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12 February 2018

Experiences Not to Miss When Travelling Abroad with Kids

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As a family we love our little holidays away from the front door and some of the best have been abroad. We also love experiencing new and wonderful things and what better way to do this than when you’re travelling. It’s something to look forward to and definitely something the kids will talk about for years to come.

One of the best experiences I had abroad as a child was spending the whole day with family on a gorgeous beach, swimming and snorkelling in the water. It was so care free and fun. I remember seeing lots of little fish and exploring the different caves along the coastline. So if you’re looking for something different for your family to experience when travelling abroad please do read on for my suggestions.


Camel Rides
On a recent trip to Lanzarote I noticed quite a large sort of Camel Ranch on the way to our hotel in Puerto del Carmen. My son got very excited when he saw it and so I investigated further at the hotel. Turns out it was a Camel Safari tour which took you on a stroll through desert terrain so you could enjoy the mountain views. It’s suitable for children aged 7+ and they can either ride single seater or two seater if they prefer to be beside a parent. It’s a lovely idea and the Camels all look well cared for. We never managed to go on our recent trip sadly but at least I know it’s there and we’ll definitely be going next time.

Snorkelling and Freediving
One thing I highly recommend doing with the kids abroad is snorkelling or freediving. Snorkelling of course is simply obtaining a mask and snorkel and floating on top of the water (preferably near a reef) to see what you can spot down below. Freediving is basically donning a mask and flippers, holding your breath and diving under the water without any breathing equipment. It’s a good way for kids to practice their breath holding skills (hands up who else did this in the bath as a child!) and of course see some beautiful wildlife under the sea in it’s natural habitat. Make sure you're equipped for your adventure by checking out Simply Scuba. There’s lots of lovely places to snorkel and freedive all over the world from Egypt to the Canary Islands. I’ve personally snorkelled in Egypt with my Dad and the creatures we sighted were amazing. I think the octopus had to be my fav.

Swim with Dolphins
If your children are slightly older then why not book a trip to Mexico to swim with the dolphins or even visit the Whale Sharks out in the open ocean. It’s a great thing to have on the bucket list and your kids will love it. There’s something so beautiful about being up close and personal with animals of the deep so I highly recommend. I swam with dolphins when I was in early pregnancy with my daughter and they could totally tell she was in there. Fascinating to watch.

Climb a Mountain
This might be hard for younger children however Calamorro mountain in Benalmadena has lovely cable cars that travel all the way up to the top. This means children of any age can go and enjoy the mountain and you can take in the great views. At the very top they even have a birds of prey display during certain times which is beautiful to watch. Especially the vultures! Those birds are so big when you see them up close. My son’s favourite part was when one of the little birds of prey was bobbing about and landing on people’s heads. Very hilarious as you can imagine.

The Beach
Sounds simple but you can’t go abroad with the kids and not visit a lovely beach. One of the best beaches we’ve visited as a family has to be the one in Caleta de Fuste in Fuertaventura. It’s super family friendly with the waters being calm and full of little fish. A top tip is to take some crackers/biscuits along with you from your hotel so you can feed the fish. The splashing and commotion they make when you throw some crumbled crackers in will have the kids delighted. My two personally loved it and kept them occupied for ages.


This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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Review: The Grown Up Chocolate Company

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Last week I was lucky enough to be sent some tasty chocolates from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. I couldn't possibly have said no so of course agreed to do a review of their scrumptious goodies. I was sent a box full of their treats and honestly couldn't wait to tuck in.

So why the name The Grown Up Chocolate Company. Well the idea behind the Grown Up Chocolate bars is that they are reminiscent of the bars we all ate as children, but re imagined for Grown Ups only. I wish I could have kept mine for the grown ups only however the kids had other ideas! The chocolates are super tasty though and use only the highest quality ingredients with 41% of pure cocoa solids - an exceptionally high ratio compared to the market standard of 18%.


I received a few different flavours to try; crunchy crispy toffee trilogy chocolate bar, crunchy praline wonder bar, superb salted peanut caramel bar, very naughty nutty nougat and glorious coconut hocus pocus chocolate bar. I also received a couple of boxes of their chocolate cups; heavenly whole hazelnut praline cups and perfectly buttery peanutty chocolate cups. I think my favourite had to be the chocolate bars with the salted peanut caramel. Oh my goodness these were amazing!! I tried my hardest to share with the other half but sneaked a few of these to myself.

In each chocolate bar box (around 70g) you get 2 snack sized bars and in the chocolate cups boxes (around 80g) you get 6 cups to enjoy. I would say share but they're so delicious there's hardly going to be any chance of sharing on the cards. The individual bars and cups boxes retail for £2.25 however The Grown Up Chocolate Company have lots of offers on their site to choose from. For example you can purchase 10 bars for £20.09 or even 100 bars for £165. They would make excellent wedding favours and if you purchase 100 that works out at £1.65 per bar box which is fantastic.


What I really love about The Grown Up Chocolate Company though is that you can make your very own personalised chocolate bars from a wealth of ingredients. Things such as mango cubes, nutmeg, fig & port, poppy seeds etc. There really is loads of choice and how awesome would it be to give this as a gift! Totally understand if you kept it for yourself though as they're so tasty.

Everyone in our house (including the kids) loved the chocolates I was sent from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. They must have been devoured in less than a week, that's how heavenly they were to eat. If we hadn't eaten them too quickly I would have popped a few in my hand bag as an emergency snack stash for when I was working in the office. It's always handy to have a piece of chocolate on hand when you're stressed out with spreadsheets.


Overall 100% amazingly moreish bite sized pieces of chocolate that'll leave you wanting more. Highly recommend if you fancy something different to the old boring chocolate bar you have in the cupboard and also recommend as giving to someone as a gift. Say like Mother's Day (hint hint). They'll be talking about it for weeks afterwards.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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10 February 2018

Things to Consider When Building Your Own Summer House

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A few years ago now the other half and I decided to have a little summer house built in the garden. Our garden is on 2 levels so we thought putting a summer house of some sort in would make better use of the space. It was either that or try and level out the whole garden which I'm not sure would have worked.

We'd never done anything like this before and didn't realise the amount of time and effort you need to put in when building from scratch! I've seen a lot of people start to build their own summer houses recently so I thought I'd write this post to help those embarking on their own summer house project. Do read on then for my tips on things to consider when building your own summer house.


North, South, East, West
You guessed it. Which way will your summer house be facing? Depending on your garden and the size you'll need to consider what way your summer house will face. We get the sun at the bottom of our garden in the afternoon and evenings (when the sun is setting) so it didn't matter too much where we placed ours. We've also got stairs going down to the bottom level where our summer house is so there was only one way it could face. If you have more options than us (hopefully) then choose wisely.

Materials
What will your summer house be built from? Will you go for a weathering timber such as cedar or maybe something cheaper that you can paint and weather seal? We personally went for cedar, yes it's more expensive than some other timbers however we haven't had to do a thing to it and it's still going strong 6 years on.

Doors
What style of door(s) will you choose to have on your summer house. Some people quite like the double patio door style while others prefer bifold doors. We actually have a lovely set of bifold doors on our summer house and they're fabulous for opening right up in the heat of summer. Getting a price couldn't be easier either with a bifold door quote so definitely have a think about it.

Usage of Summer House
You'll also need to think about why you're building this summer house. Is it going to be a garden room to chill in, an office/work space, a chill out zone for the kids and their friends, your own pub or perhaps a gym or even a beauty therapy business? Ours was a chill out zone but is now a gym which is quite handy although I haven't used it for a while, whoops.

Interior
Depending on your choice of usage you'll need to consider how you're going to decorate the interior. I went for a forest feature wall at the back using wallpaper and the rest of the walls are skimmed and painted so it looks like any room in a house. My parents have a summer house and they've left the wood exposed in theirs so it looks like a log cabin. It's really nice and quite an effective look I think. You'll also need to think about the type of furniture you'll have. Will it be modern, hand made, all wood etc.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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7 February 2018

Review & Giveaway: Titanic for Children and My Perfect Puppy Books

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Carlton Books have some new releases on the shelf soon which have excited the kids no end. Logan and Harlow were lucky enough to receive a book each to review with Logan getting The Story of the Titanic for Children and Harlow getting My Perfect Puppy AR.

As you'll have seen from our previous reviews Carlton offer a wide variety of Augmented Reality books for children and My Perfect Puppy AR is an excellent new addition for young readers. With technology such a big part of our world now combing tech with books is a genius idea. My daughter loves her stories at bed time but adding the AR is an extra delight to book reading and interacting.


So with the My Perfect Puppy book and accompanying app (which can be downloaded from the app store), children can take care of their very own Augmented Reality pup. All the fun with no mess. Each page of this book is bursting with cute puppy photos and all the info you'll need to know how to care and look after your new friend. To make things more exciting there are 13 special interactive pages so loads to get involved with.

It's simple and easy to use as well. You download the free app, point your phone or tablet's camera at the book and say hello to your new virtual friend! There's so much you can do. You get to name your puppy, feed it, play with it and teach it new tricks and commands. You can even taken photos and save them in the My Perfect Puppy Hall of Fame.


Harlow personally loved this book and found it fabulously amusing to be able to interact with a virtual puppy using her iPad. It was easy to do and scanning each interactive page was no issue. I think her favourite was getting her Puppy (named Pup) to play the piano and fetch. She also loved choosing accessories for her puppy to make him look pretty.

Next up is Logan's book - The Story of the Titanic for Children. As most of you will know Logan is a collector of facts and loves to share his acquired knowledge with the world. So this titanic book is perfect for him. This paperback has 48 eye catching pages which are full of facts, photos and illustrations sure to ignite your little ones imagination. The titanic is of course a very famous ship and this book helps to teach your little one the great history surrounding the legend.


Logan was particularly fascinated by the stories of the children on board and also couldn't believe how big the iceberg was that sunk the ship. He found it incredible how most of an iceberg is submerged underwater and only a tiny portion is seen from the surface. Another snippet to fill him with joy was the youngest survivor of the titanic who was 7 weeks old at the time but lived to 2009 (the year Logan was born) at the ripe old age of 97.

So if your little one is into history, facts, boats, ships, the sea etc then this book is definitely for them. The Story of the Titanic for Children will satisfy even the most curious minds. Carlton Books of course have lots of other fabulous reads on their website for children so do go and take a look.

Luckily for all you readers I also have a copy of each book to give away. So simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below as always and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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5 February 2018

What the Husband Really Wants for Valentine's Day

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I'm lucky that I can mostly read the other half like a book and usually know what kind of gifts and surprises he's after on special occasions such as birthday's, Christmas, anniversaries etc. So with Valentine's Day coming up in just over a week I thought I'd put a little gift guide together with the things I think he would quite appreciate and like to receive.

I've gathered together a few different gifts with a variety of prices which I'm sure will suit a lot of men out there. Read on to see what I've selected.


New Trainers
If your hubby is a child of the 90's then they're probably still in love with trainers as a daily footwear choice. My other half loves a good set of trainers and the brighter, bolder and funkier they are the better. I usually pick from the Nike website as there's always a sale on and they tend to have a good selection to choose from. There's even some Nike Jordans for as little as £69.

Personalised Watch
The other half is a mad watch collector but he currently doesn't have any personalised watches in his possession. I find this strange because he absolutely loves watches so I would have thought he'd have a personalised one by now. I'm never too sure about personalised gifts as I worry I'll mess it up or get something wrong however GiftsOnline4U let you check it all before ordering and have some amazing engraved gifts for men to choose from. So if your man doesn't wear a watch you can always get him a hip flask, whisky glasses, work tools, pocket tools etc. There's something to suit everyone. I chose a watch though as he'll love it and the one I choose has an unusual face (see photo above) with a lovely leather strap. The engraving on the back is clear and perfect. I went for "time will always tell how much I love you..." soppy I know but very true. You can pick up a personalised wrist watch for as little as £40 so definitely not going to break the bank but it's such a lovely personal gift to give. One that will be cherished and well thought of for years to come.

A Gadget
There's never normally an occasion goes by where I cannot purchase some sort of gadget for the other half as a present. I always try to get him something different and quirky and that's why this discovery channel smart phone telescope is perfect. He's constantly on that iPhone of his so I'm sure he'll love trying out this little beauty. And when he's not using it I'll be stealing it to nosey in on the neighbours, haha. This is of course a cheeky joke (or is it!).

Slogan Tee
I love buying my other half a good slogan t-shirt and I always find funny ones from Weird Fish. They have plenty to choose from online but if you're anywhere near the Livingston Designer Outlet they also have a shop in there with t-shirts from as little as £10. Quite the bargain if you ask me. If you do a quick search online you'll also find many a slogan tee to choose from as well. I believe Amazon have a good few for a decent price as I bought a couple of them for Christmas presents last year.

Beard Grooming Products
If you haven't already noticed from my photos and Instagram feed then my other half has a beard. He loves using beard products on it daily such as beard oil, balm, combs, conditioner etc so getting him a set of beard grooming products will go down a treat. I love the beard oil from ishga as it smells amazing and you get a massive bottle for £45. There are loads of other fab beard companies out there though so do shop around to find the perfect gift.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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3 February 2018

How to Make Your Home Look More Expensive on a Budget

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If you're like me and you love making your home look fancy and expensive but don't want to spend a fortune then this post is for you. I'm going to share with you my tips on how to make your home look more expensive on a budget. It's really simple and anyone can do it, you just have to know how.

The last rooms we decorated and freshened up in our home was the kids rooms and it's now time for my bedroom to get a little makeover. It's been the same for the past maybe 6 years or longer and it's about time I changed it. So here's a few of the things I'm going to do to make it look fabulous with very little money.


Furniture
We do currently have matching furniture for the bedroom but we've had it for ages. It would be really nice to get something new and exciting so I'm going to look at some second hand stores, outlet stores and any end of line discounts in furniture stores. You just never know what you can pick up and I'll also have a nosey online to see if there's any good bargains on there to be had. It really doesn't have to cost a fortune to have nice furniture. I could always be really thrifty and give my current bedroom furniture a new makeover with a lick of paint. The options are endless and it saves waste.

Accessories
I think having the right accessories around your home is definitely key to making it look more opulent and loved. Things like matching cushions, luxurious throws, scented candles or reed diffusers, paintings and prints for your wall. All the little details make such a difference but you can pick up some gorgeous accessories very cheaply from high street stores as well as online. If you're like me and you love a good candle as well do a quick search online for a Yankee candle sale as there's always plenty to be found and they make your home smell amazing.

Paint
A fresh lick of paint on the walls will instantly add the luxury feel to any home. Keeping the walls light and crisp can lend to an air of sophistication and also allows for rotation of furnishings and colour. Like I said my bedroom currently needs a make over and it's a rich mustard/yellow at the moment. I've grown sick of it though as I can't do much else with it so I'm going to go for possibly a light grey or white walls next. It just leaves so much room for adding detail and colour in elsewhere.

Flowers
I haven't bought fresh flowers for ages but 2018 is going to be the year I start and they won't just be for the living room or kitchen either. Instead I'll spread them around the home and have smaller arrangements throughout the one living space so it adds to the sophisticated look. It's kind of like what hotels and stately homes do. Fresh flowers also add some much needed colour and draw the eye, they also don't cost the earth so are quite practical.

Less is More
Clutter and mess definitely don't scream luxury so try and keep your space as tidy as possible. I know it's harder when you have kids but good storage can definitely help. Ikea have loads of different storage solutions so start there as they're very cost effective. I haven't had a look around Ikea myself for ages but we do need more storage ideas for our house so I must take a trip soon.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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