6 December 2019

Different Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

I don't know about you but this year seems harder than ever for picking lovely Christmas gifts for kids! All the nice toys and usual presents are great but I normally love to get something different as well. Something you wouldn't maybe first think of when you think Christmas gift. That's why I've put together a little gift guide with some more unusual ideas on things to buy the kids this Christmas.

The Cool Food School Cooking Utensils
My daughter is almost 5 years old and she has recently taken a very keen interest in helping me to cook. I really want her to get involved but a lot of the knives and peelers I use are far too sharp for her to go near so she has to stick with pouring etc which she isn't happy about of course. So when I spotted these fabulous cooking utensils from The Cool Food School I thought they were brilliant. There's a great safety food peeler which means children can help peel carrots and potatoes without the worry of their fingers getting hurt. The kiddies food kutter is also fab, it's strong enough to cut but the knife has rounded teeth so no sharp edges. I love them both and can't wait to give them to Harlow so she can finally join me in cooking the dinner. The safety food peeler and kiddies food kutter are £10 each and can be purchased online from The Cool Food School. Definitely something different and a great way to encourage independence and a love of food in the kitchen.

Living Twig Indian Stick Insect Kit
I absolutely loved keeping stick insects as a kid. Myself and my friend would hatch the eggs and go out on a hunt round our neighbourhood to find them food. They were good times and it brings back lots of happy memories. I'm glad to see you can still buy something very similar today with this cool Living Twig Indian Stick Insect Kit from Gifts For Little Hands. At only £15 it's sure to bring hours of enjoyment plus it's a great way to introduce young children to a very easy to keep pet. It'll help them learn responsibilities of looking after something which is alive and they are pretty cool. This kit comes with a little habitat to keep your new pets in so it can be used again and again.

Greener Beauty Gift Set
Something I always love to receive for my kids at Christmas time is a nice gift set. We use up shampoo, toiletries and bath bombs so quickly in our house. The kids love them but it's not always a gift people would think of giving. I love this Bobo's Bath Fun Gift Box from Greener Beauty. It has some lovely Child's Farm Shampoo, Konjac Pore Refiner and a Rainbow Waffle Bath Bomb. My kids would love this and definitely use it all at bath times. Priced at £18.00 it comes in a beautiful box with a £10 gift card to spend online at Greener Beauty. Such a nice gift to give.

Tender Leaf Toys Stacking Garden Friends
I do love a wooden toy, they always seem to be eco friendly not to mention super sturdy. It doesn't matter if they get dropped or bashed as they always seem to survive the onslaught of little hands. That's why this Tender Leaf Stacking Garden Friends toy is the perfect gift this Christmas. It comes in a drawstring bag, perfect for storage,  and is full of cute garden creatures ready to stack and play. At £20 it's a perfectly priced gift that'll last through the ages. It's the kind of toy you keep and give to your grandchildren etc. It's available to buy from the lovely Le Jeux Boutique so head over to their website and check it out.

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

5 December 2019

Conifox Magical Christmas Experience near Edinburgh

It's that time of year again! The Christmas music is pumping out of the car radio and you're desperately trying to find somewhere decent to take the kids so they can visit the big man. Have no fear, Conifox are hear to save the day with their Magical Christmas Experience. We were recently invited along to try it out for ourselves and I must say I was pretty impressed!

Conifox have teamed up with Beyond Broadway Productions again this year for bigger and better festive fun. Join Santa, Mrs Claus, Patch & Jolly the Elves, and Rupert the Reindeer for a Magical Christmas Experience. The kids get to write a letter to Santa in the Post Room before entering 5 festively themed rooms: The Enchanted Forest, Toy Factory, Mrs Claus’ Kitchen, Santa’s Sitting Room, and the all new Reindeer Flying School.

Beyond Broadway Productions are well known for their sell out productions of The Wizard of Oz, Legally Blonde and Fame, at The Kings Theatre in Edinburgh. So you're getting proper professionals here people. This ain't no school panto, this is the real deal. Sessions for the magical Christmas experience start every 15 minutes with the whole event lasting around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Every child will also receive a present from Santa.

There's plenty of dates to choose from (Sat 7th, Sun 8th, Sat 14th, Sun 15th, Sat 21st, Sun 22nd, Mon 23rd and Tues 24th) but they're sure to book up quick so get online ASAP to secure your slot. Off peak tickets from 9am to 10am cost £10 for an adult and £15 for a child. Peak ticket bookings from 10.15am to 4pm cost £12.50 for an adult, £17.50 for a child and children under 2 years old go free. Guests are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early so Santa can keep to his busy schedule.

We honestly had such a great time on our visit, the kids loved every minute and everyone was very merry and jolly. Here's a few photos to see how we got on but I'd highly recommend it.

We were invited to this experience but weren't asked to write a review. All opinions are my own.

2 December 2019

Our Dog Friendly Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel near Crieff in Perthshire

So many families like to travel with their dogs now. They are, rightly so, part of the pack and I completely understand that having two beautiful doggos myself. Lexie and Tulli aren’t getting any younger so we’ve been looking at making more fab memories with them. I want to make sure they feel included and no place does this better than the lovely Four Seasons Hotel in the beautiful Perthshire countryside. We were recently invited along for an overnight stay and everyone enjoyed themselves.

The Four Seasons Hotel is one of the best-kept secrets in The Trossachs National park. It sits with one of the most breath taking views in Scotland, that of westwards from St. Fillans across the 7 miles of Loch Earn. A long established independent hotel, The Four Seasons has recently been taken over and is facing a new era. The lovely owner, Susan, and her handsome dog Finn run a welcoming environment for owner and dog alike. We stayed as a family of 6! Two adults, two kids and two dogs, and we were given a cute little chalet for the night.

When we arrived we had a very warm welcome from Susan and Finn. She explained everything we needed to know for our stay and confirmed our restaurant reservation for the evening. We were handed our keys to our chalet which is located on the hill at the back of the hotel and proceeded to drive our car up and get settled in. There's a handy torch attached to your keys for night time, such a lovely touch.

Our chalet was very special as it had been visited and stayed in by the Beatles, all those years ago, so it was lovely to feel part of history. The chalet was compact but it had everything you would need for a family of 4 plus 2 dogs and it was of course clean. There was the main living area and master bedroom as you opened the front door, complete with TV and Beatles memorabilia. Straight ahead was a little corridor which lead to the bathroom, which had a shower/bath etc, and to the left was a cute bedroom with two smaller beds which the kids couldn't wait to get on. One was on the ground and the other floated above it. As you can imagine there was a fight for the floating bed.

There was tea and coffee facilities, plenty of storage/cupboards if you needed it for your bits and pieces and there were heaters in each room so it always felt cosy and warm when the sun went down. Susan was also very kind and left us a welcome pack in the chalet to get us acquainted with the hotel and surrounding area. The Four Seasons Hotel offer lots of different packages from Mini Moons, Hogmanay breaks as well as Christmas festivities and events. It's worth checking out their website to see everything that's on. Susan's beloved dog Finn even left a special letter for my girls to read and enjoy. It was super cute.

Being located where it is the hotel has some lovely walks to enjoy with your furry friend and there's even a newly built play park a short walk away from the chalet we stayed in. I'd definitely recommend bringing your wellies along for the walks though as it is Scotland and it most likely will rain at some point. The views are honestly amazing at The Four Seasons Hotel. Who needs a TV when you have stunning views out over Loch Earn. I could have just stared out at the loch for the whole time we were there, so peaceful and there's always something to see.

When it comes to dinner time the hotel are happy to also accommodate your dog in the restaurant, they have a dog friendly side that you can be seated in which is very handy. The same can be said for breakfast too, you can be seated in the bar area with your pooch. Don't worry if you forget your dog supplies either. There's food, bowls, blankets and bedding if you find yourself needing it.

I love that this hotel is so dog friendly and really very accommodating when it comes to your furry friend. We had a lovely stay here, our chalet was warm and the beds were comfy and there's plenty of beautiful walks in the area so no excuse not to get that much needed fresh air.

This was a gifted stay in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

30 November 2019

Christmas Gift Ideas For The Lady in Your Life

I've written a couple of gift guides so far this year but nothing for the ladies so I'm going to share some lovely ideas for what might be a nice little gift to give. Sometimes it's the simple gifts that are the most effective and welcoming at this time of year. Hopefully this will at least kick start your own ideas for the women in your life.

Happiful Magazine
I love a good magazine to cosy up with and what better way to remind your friends and loved ones to look after themselves and look out for others than with a monthly gift subscription to Happiful Magazine. Happiful contains a wide range of features, interviews, actionable advice and true stories. It's all about mental health, positivity and mindfulness. Happiful have kindly offered a 50% off 6 and 12 month subscriptions for you lovely readers. This specially-priced gift subscription can be purchased here. The discount code to use is HAPPYXMAS19 and the price is £24 (+ p&p) for 6 months or £48 (+ p&p) for 12 months. A great gift to give your loved one this Christmas.

Coulson Macleod Christmas Cards
I really do like a well thought out Christmas card and Coulson Macleod have some beautiful additions to their range to give this year. They really are super beautiful and why not make it even more special by popping a little gift voucher inside for a spa day for two! My mum and I enjoy a spa day so she would love a gift like this. Coulson Macleod have a fab range of festive cards starting at just £1.25 so definitely pop over and have a browse. They also of course have some lovely gifts available too.

Soul Analyse Bracelet
I've shared Soul Analyse on my gift guide for him however I think it deserves a spot here too as they have some lovely bracelets for women as well. Plus with mental health being such a huge thing it's always good to remind a loved one that they are enough or they are loved etc. It's such a small but powerful tool to have a little reminder on your wrists with you every day and from as little as £15 these bracelets make excellent quality gifts. They come in gorgeous gift boxes with handy drawstring pouches to store your bracelet in. I highly recommend these.

Phones Away
If your lovely lady is anything like me and maybe spends a little too much time on her phone *cough* then Phones Away is the perfect gift to give this Christmas. It's a simple gift that promotes less screen time and more family time. You receive a box with 4 simple instructions on it. Collect your phones, set a timer on one of the phones, turn all phones onto silent or airplane mode and do NOT open the box until the timer goes off. It's a very effective way of having less screen time but can you stick to it!? The box retails for £19.99 but is currently on offer at £9.99.

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

27 November 2019

Review: Mardles hugARmals - Cuddle. Scan. Interact.

My daughter absolutely loves her cuddly toys, we literally have mountains of them in our house but I always feel they have limited use. Wouldn't it be great if they could do something else as well as being super cute and hug-able? That's when I heard about a new interactive cuddly toy on the market and I couldn't wait to find out more.

Mardles hugARmals are 30cm cuddly toys with a difference! Harlow received the fabulous Unicorn to try out and of course she loved it. So what do hugARmals do? As well as being sparkly, soft and fluffy they also come to life using the free Mardles app on Apple/ Android devices. For Harlow's Unicorn you simply scan it's special hoof, after downloading the app, and it brings the Unicorn to life in digital form.

Here's some quick and easy steps to follow; 1 - got to your app store and download the free Mardles App. 2 - Open the App and point your device's camera at the badge on your character's foot to unlock your new 4D friend. 3 - Point your device at a flat surface then tap the star on screen to bring your character to life and use the controls to have fun with them.

It's very simple and easy to do plus there are some cool little features on the app. You can customise the colour of your new digital Unicorn friend using the on-screen slider or make it walk, eat, disco dance and even pirouette. Harlow loves it and finds it so easy to use the app, and once she's finished with the app she happily cuddles her Unicorn and role plays with it as well.

If you're not a Unicorn fan you can also get the hugARmals in Dragon form. I particularly love dragons and the hugARmals one is super glitzy and shiny. Being 30cm means these toys are the perfect size for little hands to play with. They are well made and quite eye catching with all their fancy colours, and I think kids love this.

As you can see from the photos my daughter loves her Unicorn hugARmal and you can get your very own from Mardles.com or Amazon. They retail for £24.99 and are definitely worth it for that extra interactivity. There's no faffing about either which I like, it's just straight forward and easy to use. It means the kids can have fun quicker!

We were sent the hugARmals Unicorn in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

19 November 2019

Dinner at The Stair Arms Hotel in Pathhead

If you're ever looking for a family friendly place to stop near Edinburgh and have a delicious meal then The Stair Arms Hotel is the perfect place for you. We visited last month with the family (and the dogs) and had a tasty evening meal, plus breakfast the next day, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The Stair Arms Hotel is a unique hotel, restaurant & bar with large garden. The hotel is conveniently located in the Midlothian countryside & 10 minutes from Edinburgh city park ‘n’ ride. Located on the main Edinburgh to Borders route the hotel began as a coaching inn in 1831. They are the ideal destination for lunch, three course meal, coffee & home baking or a cooling drink. They welcome dogs and children so it's a very friendly atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

The Stair Arms has recently been refurbished by the Ramsay family who own & manage the hotel. They have created beautiful interiors where freshly prepared, locally sourced food is served. Serving tempting menus full of delicious dishes, the chefs focus on providing the tastiest meals throughout the day. The specials adapt with the seasons and make the most of wonderful local, fresh produce.

The restaurant itself has been beautifully decorated and makes for a warm cosy inviting area to relax in. We were seated by the fire which has a little bench round it for you to warm your tootsies. The kids particularly  liked this and found it very cool. The waiting staff were all very attentive and answered any questions we had on their dishes, changing things for the kids, where the toilets were etc. Nothing was ever too much trouble so we felt right at home.

It took us a minute or two to peruse the menu and choose our meals for the evening. Everything looked so scrummy it was a hard choice. They of course have a children's menu too which both of our kids chose from. Whilst we were waiting for our dinner to arrive the lovely waitress offered us some of the chef's homemade bread which had been freshly baked that day. I'm so glad we said yes as oh my goodness it was amazing! I can't honestly describe how tasty this bread was, my mouth waters every time I think about it and I might just have to take a trip back for more. It came with two tasty dips as well just to make it even better.

Our starters arrived and again we weren't disappointed. I chose from the daily specials menu and went for the Pan Fried Scallops on pea puree served with black pudding and crispy bacon. It was fabulous, full of flavour and the scallops were cooked perfectly. The hubby also chose from the specials menu and went for the Pan Fried Local Wood Pigeon Breast served with black pudding, bacon and apple sauce. It was as equally tasty as my starter. The kids went for garlic bread each which they munched down happily.

Very impressed with our starters we couldn't wait to tuck into our mains. I opted for the Pan Fried Perthshire Venison Lion with roast beetroot, mash and a cranberry and rosemary sauce. Another fab dish which went down really well. The venison was still tender and the sauce was fragrant and satisfying. It reminded me of Christmas. The hubby chose the 8oz Aberdeen Angus Steak wrapped in Bacon served with a pumpkin puree, parsnip crisps, mushroom and madeira sauce and triple cooked chips. As you can imagine the hubby was extremely happy when his steak was brought out. Presentation was superb and everything on his plate was one delicious mouthful after another. The kids had chicken, chips and beans and sausages, chips and beans. They were very happy with theirs and had nice healthy portions.

We were all so full from our starters and mains that the hubby and I shared a pudding and the kids had ice cream. We tried the stick toffee pudding which again was amazing. The kids were happy with their different flavoured ice cream and us adults were happy chilling with full bellies.

In the morning we came down to a reserved table for breakfast which was really nice. Everything was laid out beautifully and nothing was too much bother for the staff. Harlow chose boiled eggs and toast soldiers, Logan was happy with lots of toast and the hubby tried the hearty porridge. We were all happy and well fed after such a lovely stay. We'll definitely be back to The Stair Arms Hotel for another visit soon.

This meal was gifted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

11 November 2019

Review: Pomsies Lumies - Rainbow Charged Pom-Pom Pets

My daughter absolutely loves anything to do with rainbows and unicorns so when we received some Pomsies Lumies to test out I knew she would be over the moon to have them. So what are they all about? Lumies are interactive plush pom pom pets that change colour. With a simple tap, Lumies can match any colour and even turn colours into musical beats! There's up to 1,000 possible mixes.

We've been testing out our Lumies for a while now and they really do work perfectly well. They pick up colours using their little clicking sensor button underneath them and it's simple to use. My daughter picked it up instantly and starting running around the house clicking anything that was colourful. It kept her busy for ages. If you think it's time for your Lumie to go to sleep then you simply hold and press their nose for 3 seconds. If you want to wake them up then press their nose again. All very easy for kids to understand.

Pomsies Lumies have over 100 different sounds and phrases, bold hairstyles, sparkly unicorn horns, and heart-shaped faces! Kids will honestly love them, my daughter definitely does. They are like her little friends and she plays with them constantly. They're a good handful size (Dimensions: 9L x 7W x 10H cm) as well so great for smaller hands and of course super colourful and bright. Lumies require 3x AAA batteries to work but these are included which is fab. I love a toy that comes with batteries especially if you're giving as a gift or on Christmas morning!

There's three different Lumies to collect (Sparkle Rush, Pixie Pop and Dazzle GoGo) and they come with their own little hair clip comb to keep their long flowing hair in tip top condition. As well as changing colour, which is pretty cool, these cute Lumies also have different modes to try out. There's "Let's Find Colours" - Lumies wake up craving colours so keep them happy and balanced by feeding them with colour. Listen closely and they'll react differently depending on how they feel and the colours you touch. The next mode is "Let's Mix Some Beats" - Lumies turn colours into beats. The more colours you touch the more crazy fun mixes Lumies create. There are three other modes to try as well which are more games such as "Let's Play Lumie Says" and "Let's Play Colour Chase". My daughter loved trying all of the different modes and found the Lumies very interactive and encouraging to play with.

One thing that's super exciting about these cute critters is that there's over 50 secret sounds hidden inside your Lumie! You can unlock these surprises by touching certain colours in a certain order. How exciting is that.You can discover some over on Pomsies.com so be sure to check it out.

You can find Pomsies Lumies at Smyths Toys Superstores retailing for £19.99 but they are currently reduced which means it's the perfect time to buy and store away for birthdays and Christmas. Better to be organised than miss out! My daughter really does love her Lumies and now wants to buy them for all her friends so I can see us stocking up for birthday gifts.

I was gifted this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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