H just had her third birthday, and between two of us we got her a decent Hama Beads set – a large tub of beads (the Maxi ones) and a starter set which The Entertainer had at half price (£9!).
Shaun’s Hama Beads Clown
Hama Beads are a simple concept. You’ve a clear base you put the beads on to create pictures – and once you’ve finished and it’s done, simply get a hot iron to it and press down (using a sheet of paper provided) for a few seconds – and wait for it to cool.
Once cooled, you can check it has set properly and peel it away – leaving a colourful beaded pattern in whichever shape you chose!
Hama Beads heart by me
Packs come with some stands too – so if you wanted you could have your creation stand up. We had a rainy, stormy Saturday so got the kits out – and found that rather than supervising H, we were all hooked and making our own creations (especially Shaun).
The best bit of all? It was something we could all sit down and do together – and we enjoyed ourselves. The maxi beads are suitable for children aged 3 years and up, the midi beads from 5 years (they’re a bit smaller) and then regular Hama Beads are suitable from age 7. I spotted Ikea do similar kits as well, though in the smallest size (and I’ve no idea what kind of quality they are, or indeed if they’ll mix with Hama Beads)
We have a bit of a Ben & Holly fan here at home, just a bit (quite a lot, actually). When we had the opportunity to review the new app from P2 Games, we jumped at the chance. So far we’re really liking it too – as while a lot of these games have a similar theme (win games, collect stickers, play on the sticker book afterwards), there’s some additional variations which we think are fab.
You choose to play as Ben or Holly, though so far we’ve not noticed any difference in who you choose to play with, other than your child gets to choose a favourite.
You have four games to choose from :
Collecting Stars Throwing Sticks Hiding Sweeping the leaves
All of the games are pretty self-explanatory – but here’s where we like it that little bit more – you have an option to choose an Easy or Hard game – and while H does love playing the other games that are similar, levels of difficulty help make this a bit more challenging (though to be fair, right now she seems to love cleaning Scoop on the Bob The Builder game, and we’re finding it difficult to get her to play any other game in that app!) – and means it wont get too easy too quickly.
Collecting Stars is straightforward enough, you move Ben or Holly and avoid the bees and butterflies, otherwise you’ll lose a life Throwing Sticks was a bit more difficult – we’ve not been able to complete this on the Easy level yet! I’m not quite working out how to throw the stick in other directions, but that helps make this more challenging! Hiding is a simple variant of Whack A Mole – without moles and without whacking – just tap the screen when Ben and Holly appear and don’t hit the other animals otherwise you’ll lose a life! Sweeping the leaves is another simple one – move the leaves to the corners of the screen and don’t let Gaston mess them up while you’re doing it!
Another nice touch, the option to play again. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember that option on the other games.
Would we change anything on this game? Right now we’re loving it – it’s straightforward and uncomplicated and has the option of being a little more difficult. Like the Peppa Pig game you can make the stickers in the Sticker Book larger or smaller, and there’s a good selection of stickers to collect, so your book wont be complete for a long time which keeps you coming back to play more times. H did wonder why Daisy and Poppy weren’t together, but there’s the toddler way of thinking in action there, rather than a criticism!
I like that you use the pincer grasp to make the stickers larger or smaller, as while H has always been good at it, a little practice never does any harm!
So yes, in summary, I’m finding this good, it’s got different features to ones we’re used to in previous games while still similar.
You can buy the Ben and Holly game at the App Store for £1.99
we received a review code for this app – all opinions are our own
Being asked to review a salad is an excellent thing – while I love my chocolate and pizza and food which isn’t always the best for you, you can’t beat a nice fresh salad made with all the best ingredients – so I headed to my local Asda to pick up some ingredients to follow one of Good Natured‘s tasty recipes.
However, I was left disappointed. Our Asda didn’t have anything from the range in stock – at all.
This meant we couldn’t really follow any of the recipes, however, that didn’t stop us having a fabulous salad – the potatoes were really fluffy and light and had a great taste to them – the aubergines were really nice and tasty too, the tomatoes were pretty damn fine as well. For afters we had some of the Succulent Strawberries with vanilla ice cream which were beyond delicious – they tasted so fresh, like they’d been picked that day – and it’s rare I’ll taste a strawberry quite so good.
We were both impressed that each label had where and when they were picked – and are pesticide free. Good Natured use only natural predators (good bugs) to control pests (bad bugs) and disease, so you can be assured that the range is grown in tune with mother nature, completely pesticide residue free.
In conclusion, I wish my local Asda had stocked more of the brand so I could have reviewed this more accurately, though the food we did try was good, tasty and fresh. I’d definitely buy this brand again, especially the strawberries. I often try to buy my fruit on good deals, but I’d be willing to pay full price for these, they’re that good.
I was provided with a gift token to purchase the items for review – all opinions are my own
It’s also worth mentioning that from 30 July until 31 August, two lucky winners have the chance to win a luxury Glamping holiday for the family at one of the Feather Down Farms – see packs for further details!
There’s a fantastic group over on Facebook, Apps for Parents where we’ll find out about a lot of games which are free – which is always the best time to try one out – or being reviewed. A few days ago we were alerted to ‘Tap A Tune’ which is essentially a tuneful Whack A Mole, done gently. Or at least, is so far…
I decided rather than attempt to explain it, I’d put up a YouTube video of H playing it – after all, that’s how you know if something is any good (other than trying it out for free).
Here’s H’s rendition of ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ for the very first time. I love the iPad is so easy to pick up and use, and I love that this game is so quick to play – anything that encourages her to learn about music is a good thing.
You can pick up ‘Tap A Tune’ for free at the App Store for a limited time – hurry! Thanks to Mags for the tip!
From the moment I knew I was having a baby I started buying Miffy books. There’s some traditions which have to be repeated, and Miffy is one of them. My mum and dad went to Holland in the last ten years or so, and my dad bought me something Miffy related – he lost it, but the one thing I’ll remember him saying in relation to it was “you always loved Miffy when you were little” – and he’s right, I did.
The first Miffy book was written back in 1955 by Dick Bruna. Obviously Dick Bruna is now so much more better known and has his own museum in Utrecht (next year’s holiday, maybe…?) but back then who could have predicted that Miffy would be so universally loved, translated and still available for children to read?
There’s so many books to choose from – with only a handful still in print, though a lot can be bought at a reasonable price in second-hand stores or online.
There’s only one Miffy book I find difficult to read. ‘Dear Grandma Bunny’ – which deals with Grandma Bunny’s death (a feature on books about death will happen when I can get through one of the books without crying) – but only because it deals with death and it’s something H will experience at some point. I got this while pregnant and made it to page two before I had to close it in floods of tears – be warned. Though the cover gives you a good enough idea.
Other than that, there’s so many Miffy books to choose from. The Book People had a box set of fifteen or sixteen books you could get at a bargain price, but I just missed out so bought them all individually – then started to collect further Dick Bruna books – so now we have a few Boris and Barbara ones, Poppy Pig and some learning books, as well as some based on the tv series that we’ve picked up at car boot sales.
I recommended ‘Miffy and the New Baby’ to a friend yesterday, as she felt a lot of the baby books out there at the moment start with the elder child resentful of the new addition – which in Miffy world just does not happen. Almost every book has a positive slant (there’s always exceptions); in this book Miffy is shouting hurrah, drawing the new baby a picture and looking forward to meeting it, then showering it with cuddles, and it’s all very nice and positive.
The latest addition to the Miffy library hasn’t yet received an English translation – Nijntje is Stout (Miffy is Naughty) – she steals a sweet! Then feels huge guilt at her terrible deed and confesses all, so even when Miffy is bad she’s quite good really. Kind of…
There’s also the very cute small Miffy’s Birthday Book which has a simple story/rhyme about a birthday, which we’ve given as a gift a few times to H’s friends – it’s small and cute and you can even write the name of the recipient in the front. It’s also a lot smaller than the regular Miffy books and it’s a different story to ‘Miffy’s Birthday’ too.
There are also some different books – Miffy The Artist was released in conjunction with the Tate in 2008 and is a story about Miffy discovering art. You can usually pick this one up quite cheaply on Amazon and Ebay.
There’s a Miffy at the Zoo pop-up book which was another I bought before H was born. It was actually for her cousin, but he already had it, so we kept it.
The thing which stands out the most for me with all these books is Dick Bruna’s wonderful pictures, and use of simple colours and fonts. There’s a shop in York which sells Dick Bruna artwork postcards – every time I go back I pick up a handful, put them in a picture frame (a nice colourful Ikea one) and make a picture for H’s bedroom. I love the simplicity.
Of course, Miffy is more than just books now – we’ve got a tabard, t-shirts, jingly ball toys, a Miffy and a Stuffy the dog toy or two… it’s never-ending – though not as in-your-face as some other toys out there.
We love what Dick Bruna has created, so just wanted to do a little Miffy tribute.
Thank you Dick Bruna, from a mother and her daughter, both growing up with your creations.
H was in her baby bath for a long time beyond when she should have been though there’s a reason. She’s a tall girl, but we live in a house with a bigger-than-usual bathtub; It’s HUGE. You could fit two people in there comfortably – which is nice and all that, but when you’re trying not to use too much water, or occasionally need to just have your child have a quick bath, or indeed, your child has an irrational fear of showers, then the Flexibath would be what I’d recommend.
I’ve called this review Part One, as Part Two will come in a little over a month when we’ve had our second holiday for this year – in another holiday home with just a shower – and have had a chance to try it out properly in a much smaller space.
H is tall, as I’ve previously said. She’s almost three and well over a metre tall, so regular baby baths are too small for her, and quite frankly, would you want to take a baby bath with you on holiday anyway?
This is where the Flexibath works – it folds down flat, and has a handy hook which keeps the bath flat – perfect for storing in the car, plus it doesn’t take up very much space. My biggest concern was whether it would be too small for H. At a guess I’d say we’ll get a years use out of it (hopefully a little bit more) – so I’m hoping that by the time she’s four this irrational fear of showers will have passed.
You know what the best thing is though? Once your child outgrows the bathtub, the Flexibath can be used as a toy storage container! I think it’s fab – and I can’t wait to give it a proper test out.
Check out the Flexibath – it retails for £29.99
We have been sent a Flexibath for review – all opinions are our own.
I like to think I’m good at finding things or thinking about things to do with H, especially now she’s older and more aware of everything, and wanting to do something All The Time. Occasionally we’ll relax in front of the tv or read a book – and occasionally we’ll do crafty things together.
However, there’s only so many times I can do the same things and I need inspiration. Step in ‘Frugal & Fun – Enjoying School Holidays – The Thrifty Way’ – a book by Cass Bailey, Jen Walshaw and Becky Goddard-Hill who make up the Frugal and Fun website (as well as their own blogs).
The book is geared very much towards the summer of 2012 – the World Cup, the Jubilee, the Olympics – and loads of crafts and ideas you can do with your children. Having said that, the crafts and ideas aren’t exclusive to this time of year – you can make medals at any time – it just fits in with now. There’s also lots of tips for organising your life which is good – I could do with a bit of that for my own things.
I really like the homemade craft box – it’s like a step on from the Treasure Box a lot of us made when our little ones were babies, with plenty of craft items in it. I suspect this is something I need to get organised with – as I have several boxes with crafty things rather than one big one! Two other fantastic ideas are the Wish-book (where everyone writes down something they want to do and make a nice book out of it), and the Boredom Jar which I know we’ll need in a year or so from now, where you write things on pieces of card and pick them out on a day when you’re bored for a nice activity to do.
There’s some excellent ideas, and especially when a lot of us have less money to spend, it’s a fun book which will give you plenty of ideas, and best of all it doesn’t break the bank at only £2.99 from the Amazon Kindle store is aimed at 3-10 year olds and is 150 pages!
So I’m approached to review some chocolate – of COURSE I’m going to accept! We came across the Choka Blok brand last Christmas when I picked up some of their peanut butter ice cream – for that exact reason – wouldn’t you? It was delicious, but as we don’t get to Tesco very often (it involves a long-ish drive), we didn’t have an opportunity to buy more.
ChokaBlok bars – attacked by a toddler
We were sent four bars and a gift box and I’ve had to hold back, ration myself and sensibly eat one bar every few days (so as to keep in with my Thinking Slimmer SlimPod and eating less sugary things).
Oh boy. They’re good. We’re talking thick chocolate with plenty of chocolatey toppings. You know when you have chocolate and it looks like it should be too much and you’ll have a sugar overload? That’s what this looks like, but actually it felt like just the right amount – and it felt like a proper treat too.
There’s four kinds of chocolate you can get
Cookie Crumb Mon-Star
Reach for the stars in every bite. The perfect combination of smooth and creamy white chocolate with a swirl of milk chocolate, loaded with crunchy shortcake biscuit balls, and finished off with dark cookie crumbs and milk chocolate stars.
Gold Digger Dynamite
Set your taste buds alight with this explosive treat. Chok-full of milk chocolate caramel cups and chunks of sweet honeycomb surrounded by milk and white chocolate, swirled together in a chunky blok.
The Chocolate Extremist
Indulge your inner chocoholic with The Chocolate Extremist. Not for the faint hearted, this chocolate blok is crammed with smooth milk chocolate swirled with rich dark chocolate, crunchy brownie pieces and milk chocolate malty balls. The Rocky Road of Love
A blok for true romantics, the ChokaBlok chefs have created a divine mix of milk chocolate loaded with dark chocolate hearts, crunchy shortcake biscuit balls and mini marshmallows finished with a drizzle of dark chocolate.
ChokaBlok Gift Box
The ChokaBlok chefs introduce the perfect gift for that someone you love, even if that person is you. A bite-size selection of mini bloks has been created from a combination of our favourite ChokaBlok bloks. Each blok is hand topped with sweet treats and has a soft mouth-watering centre. Once you’ve tasted the best in mini bloks, it might just be time to treat yourself to the full-size ones.
ChokaBlok chocolate bloks and gift boxes are now available at Tesco stores (RRP £1.59 for the bloks and £3.99 for the gift box) – and for chocolate this good it’s not breaking the bank either. Give them a try! We’ll definitely be buying more.
We were sent the chocolate to review, all opinions are our own.
Quite frankly, if you don’t watch Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, then you are missing out – it’s one of those rare cartoons that as an adult, I find myself laughing along to as well, so given that it’s now coming to the stage, and – and this is the best bit of all – there’s an unplanned JELLY FLOOD! (I’m dying to see how they do this) – how could you possibly miss this?
The Little Kingdom – where everyone is very, very small – is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy princess who is still learning how to do magic properly and sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things. Ben doesn’t have wings like Holly but he flies on the back of Gaston the Ladybird.
In this exciting new musical adventure, Ben and Holly have fun and games helping Gaston clean up his messy cave; they go on a trip to The Big World with tooth-fairy Nanny Plum; and still have time to plan a surprise for King Elf’s birthday party, complete with an unplanned jelly flood.
Packed full of games, songs and laughter, this is an enchanting and magical visit to the Little Kingdom, live on stage for the very first time. This beautiful story of elves, princesses and childhood innocence will delight all the family.
Tickets are on sale now for all 2012 dates, with some 2013 announced – read on! We’ve bought our tickets for Wimbledon, and can’t wait.
Okkiobe are a new family-run online store, who have some lovely handmade gifts as well as stocking some lovely brands.
I’m a sucker for handmade things – and this was my immediate attraction when I looked at their site – and there’s some lovely colours and fabrics being used. In addition to this, I’ve not heard of anyone doing NHS Red Health Record Book Covers – ours is so tatty, so I jumped at the chance to try one to see how lovely it looks (and to help preserve ours for as long as possible!) –
It arrived the following day, lovingly wrapped in tissue paper and well packaged – and I love it! It’ll keep the book safe and tidy and I love how each case is unique, due to it being handmade by Corrina – wife of Jerome – who are Okkiobe.
The online store has some really lovely things to buy – from brands I’m aware of (like the excellent Pixie & Punk), to ones I haven’t heard of but would definitely think about buying like Babymoov who do some really cool changing bags.
If you like handmade and different baby gifts, go and check out Okkiobe – there’s some great products and they’d make unique presents for many occasions.
I received the book cover to review, all opinions are my own
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