Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A new range of Wooden Toys by George Home at Asda!

We really love wooden toys here, Millie has got lots of play food for her kitchen and the pieces she plays with the most are wooden. Both of my children have got fantastic imaginations, and I think this is why I love wooden toys so much. They give them more of an opportunity to create their own games.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when I heard that George Home at Asda have released a new wooden toy range! 

Chester and Millie were sent the 2 in 1 wooden play shop & Cafe, along with the Wooden Cake Stand and Wooden Toy Cash Register to review.


When the play shop & Cafe arrived I needed to put it together, which I expected. It came with easy to follow instructions and took me just over an hour to do. I probably could of done it in a shorter time but I wanted to get it right, so took my time. Something I picked up on whilst building was the really good quality of the materials. It has clearly been built to last. I also loved the fact that it came with casters, which made it quick and easy to convert between a shop and a cafe, and great for when I am vacuuming!

Both the Cake Stand and the Cash Register were sent pre made, so it was just a case of unboxing and unwrapping the packaging.


Needless to say both Children have loved playing with all three items. They have really used their imaginations to create different scenarios and situations. My favourite one so far was when Chester was the shopkeeper and he asked Millie for her address for delivery. Her reply involved handing Chester the dress that she was wearing! 


The Play Shop & Cafe has got some opportunities to write with chalk, Both sides of the shop sign above the shop/cafe, on the front of the Shop and then it has a specials board which hangs on the side of the unit and can be removed and placed somewhere else. My only grip with this great idea, is that it actually came with no chalk! It would of been nice to have seen maybe 2 or 3 coloured chalk sticks included. 


Chester is in Year 1 at School so Maths is a key part of his learning. His teacher has said that counting money can be one of the best ways to help them with their maths. So the Cash Register has been a great learning tool for Chester, who is very particular that you are given the right change! Millie just tells us that everything is '£1 please' and still gives us change from 50p! It comes with plenty of paper notes and wooden coins. The wooden coins only print their denomination on one side though and this confused Chester at times when he could not see an actual number. 

The cake stand is absolutely delightful, I have to admit I may even get more enjoyment out of this one than the kids! It is a lovely, well made stand that comes with 8 wooden treats. A selection of slices of cake, cookies and cupcakes. Millie and I have had many an Afternoon Tea over the last couple of weeks! Millie's favourite is clearly the pink cupcake, which she spent many an hour forcing me to 'eat'! 

I can honestly see these toys being well used for years to come in our house. I also think that they are strong and robust enough to withstand all of that playing! They are well build and in my opinion great value for Money. The Shop/Cafe is £35, the Cake Stand is £12 and the Cash Register is £10. All of the items can be found online here and you will also find a selection in store. I already have my eye on the Wooden Pram for Millie, which I saw in our local Asda last week! 

Do you prefer Wooden toys like me? I would love to know your thoughts. 

House of Fraser Childrens Winter Party Wear

Chester and Millie have much better social lives than Craig and I. But whilst I wish that I did have a better social life, I am really happy that they are happy and have lots of friends to have social lives with!

With Winter coming up their Social calendar is looking pretty busy. House of Fraser have got a really big Winter Party wear range for Children. Chester and Millie have kindly been sent an outfit each to kit them out during this seasons parties.

Every year at Chester's School they throw a party to welcome the reception class children, it's the year one children and parents responsibility for organising the party, so as a year one pupil Chester is one of the hosting children! The party was last Saturday and as you can imagine he was very excited to be involved in such a large party!

Chester is a very active boy as you know, so its almost certain that he will be spending lots of his time running around with his friends. This Desigual Antigua Shirt with a hood and sneaker print on the front,  pared with some Howick Chino Trousers in Blue, is the perfect, comfortable, smart casual look for Chester. The whole outfit came to a grand total of £74.80, knowing that he will get lots of use out of this really good quality outfit, I think its a good investment.


Millie has been invited to her friends 3rd birthday party the first weekend of November, it's a soft play party. She will no doubt have other friends parties and the Childrens Centre Christmas party to attend as well.

As you know Millie almost always wears dresses or skirts. She can be persuaded to wear leggings under her long top or dress, but she would never entertain the idea of wearing trousers or Jeans. She is the ultimate girly girl! So I was looking for something girly, smart and practical. I wanted something that was flexible, allowing her, for instance, to climb at a soft play party. But I still wanted it to look worthy of a party! I think I made the right choice when I chose this Uttam Printed Bow Dress along with this Pumpkin Patch Crochet Cardigan. I will add red winter tights if it is too cold. Millies outfit came to £43.00. Again knowing how much use she will get out of it, a really good investment.

Both of the children are attending a Christmas party the nearer to Christmas, where they will get to play Christmas themed party games and meet Father Christmas! This has been organised by one of the mums at Chester's School, I think it's such a lovely thing to do and shows real community spirit! Needless to say they will be wearing their outfits, as they will want to look their best when meeting the Man in Red!

Do you find that your Children have a better social life than you?!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

So the other day I told you about some yummy Betty Crocker baking kits that we have been reviewing. Well today I am going to tell you about some baking I did using some other Betty Crocker products as well as other products to make some really amazing cupcakes!

It was a really quick and easy bake, and they went down a treat! So much so that the demands for me to make them again is high!

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:


Betty Crocker Devil Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
Vegetable Oil
Water
Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Icing
Carnation Caramel tin
2 Diam bars cut into smallish pieces


Method:

Follow the Betty Crocker Devil Food Cake Mix instructions.

Once the cakes have cooled, use a knife to cut a deep circle into the cakes, using a teaspoon fill the hole with a spoonful of caramel. Cut a thin layer from the top of the circle you have taken out of the cake and place that back on top of the cupcakes.


Put the Chocolate Fudge Icing into a piping bag with a large star nozzle, then pipe onto the tops of the cakes.


Finally garnish each cupcake with a small chunk of Diam!



What do you think?!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Our week in Pictures 19th - 25th October 2014

The week before half term and Autumn was definitly starting to show its face!

This meant that we had an excuse for a lovely Roast Dinner on Sunday! I love comforting Roast dinners at this time of year!


Whilst I was cooking the Roast, Chester and Craig had lots of fun building a Lego Dinosaur! 


Millie and I had lots of fun playing games this week, she is really into Orchard Toys games at the moment, Shopping List is her current favourite!


Of course a week for me would not be complete without some kind of baking! Here is a teaser of some cakes I made last week, look out for the finished product on the blog this week!


I couldn't believe it when I spotted this book in Sainsburys this week! My greatest reading memories as a child come from reading the Mrs Pepperpot books! So I have tucked this one away ready for a Book Advent I am doing this year (more on that soon). Can not wait to introduce the children to Mrs Pepperpot! 


Sadly the week has ended on a low for us, as Millie is poorly. She started with a very high temperature and complaining of a headache and it has now developed into a full blown cold, poor little mite.


 In between all of this we had Chester's Harvest Festival, But sadly, I was too far away to get a good picture of just Chester to share with you all! It was a lovely service, all of the children did a fantastic job!

How has your week been? Are you looking forward to Half Term?!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Lego City Coast Guard Review

Recently, Chester was sent the Lego City Coast Guard set to review from Suppose.com. He is a big Lego Fan, especially Lego City at the moment. The Lego OCD in me wants to set up a room specifically for all of the Lego City sets that he has built! But then I have to remember that he is just 6 years old and loves to use his imagination, build, knockdown and rebuild all of the time!

I have been using Suppose over the last few weeks. Basically, you type in what you are looking for and they find the best price for that item. As someone who will search for hours to find the best possible deal, I am finding it to be a great help, especially with Christmas coming up!


Chester couldn't wait to get into this Lego City set. He has a couple of the smaller Coast Guard sets so this was a great addition to his collection.

He is 6 years old now and Lego building is one of the very few things that he will actually sit still for!

As you know, he is a very independant child, he likes to take charge and complete things all by himself. Lego is no exception.

This particular set is recommended for ages 5-12, as always the instruction booklet did a really great job to break down the instructions into bite sized chunks with pictures to follow.

In total the whole set took Chester (with no help from me) 30 minutes to make, it kept him interested the whole time, he especially liked the fact he needed to stick some stickers onto the set! But more importantly now that it is made it creates hours of imaginative play!


The set did come with some spare parts, always a bonus when you are dealing with such small pieces. It even came with a Red hard hat as an alternative to the recommended blue hard hats, Chester loved that he had the choice of hat colours for his Coast Guards!

Suppose have found The Lego City Coast Guard set  on sale for just £7.98 which is a great discount off of its usual £14.99!

Do your children love Lego? Do they have a favourite set or do they just enjoy creating their own ideas?


Friday, 24 October 2014

Betty Crocker Review.

Ah Betty Crocker. You are always there for me when I need to bake but am lacking in time/ingredients! I always have a tub of Chocolate Fudge Icing in my cupboards for those moments when only Betty Crocker will do!

But there are a few things in the Betty Crocker range that I am yet to try.

Last week I was sent a lovely bundle of Betty Crocker Baking items, meaning I could try a few of those things that I was yet to try!


We started off with the White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. The children wanted an after School treat, so I thought I would whip up a batch for us to try! The were so easy to make, we simply added water, mixed together, placed balls of the dough onto lined baking trays and popped them in the oven for 12 minutes! The hardest part was actually the waiting for them to cool down!


They were delicious, and certainly didn't last long here!

On Sunday, it was a cold, wet and windy day. So I decided only a traditional Chicken Roast would do!

But of course, we couldnt have a Roast Dinner and not finish it off with a pudding, could we?

I was all out of puddings, so I reached for the Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix! Again, it was super simple to make, the only ingredients I needed to add were eggs, oil and water. Store Cupboard ingredients to me. I lined 2 cake pans, mixed the ingredients together with the mix. Split the cake mix between the 2 tins and baked for just under 30 minutes.

Betty Crocker have just brought out a new icing product. Vanilla Icing with Rainbow Sprinkles! How cool is that?! I bet I will have lots of situations (especially with the Children) where this product will come in very handy! Starting with last Sunday!

I used the Vanilla Icing to fill and coat our Carrot Cake, then I used the sprinkles to decorate, I even had some sprinkles left over for next time as there were so many!


The Carrot Cake went down a treat, everyone asked for more, but I was mean and made them wait until tea time for seconds!

The Betty Crocker range is available in most Supermarkets. You can find out more about the range here.

Keep an eye on my blog over the next few days as I have got a recipe for Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes to share with you too!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Every Carpet needs a Rug Doctor clean!

Now lets be honest not many people enjoy housework, (although after watching the programme Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, I think more people than I thought seem to enjoy it), but what people really do enjoy is seeing their house look clean. I won't say tidy, because lets face it, with Children in the house it is never really going to be tidy!

One thing I especially hate is the vacuuming, in fact, I hate it so much that Craig has to do it! Our carpets were new when we moved in 8 years ago. Stupidly, we thought it was a good idea to have cream carpets. We had brought a brand new house and wanted to keep that 'new' look. So we decided on cream carpets. Its one of my biggest regrets to be honest, almost up there with my regret that we only went for a 2 bed and not a 3 bed!

So as you can imagine, keeping Cream carpets looking cream when they are 8 years old and we have 2 young children in the house is a bit of a nightmare! But sometimes buying new ones is just not top of the priority list!

But then I heard about Rug Doctor. It is a carpet cleaner that you can hire! What a good idea! I would have no room to store a carpet cleaner, so the fact it can be hired is great.

The way Rug Doctor works is as follows....

It injects your carpets with a mix of Rug Doctor cleaning detergent and hot water, this is so that it can get in deep and loosen the dirt.

Rug Doctor's unique vibrating brush has an oscillating motion. The brush gets deep down - in between the fibres of the carpet pile - to really work at loosening tough ground-in dirt and grime. At the same time, it leaves the carpet pile fluffed up and raised.

Finally it powerfully extracts the the dirt and excessive moisture, meaning 80% of the cleaning fluid is extracted and the drying time of the carpet is less than 2 hours!

This all sounded great, but would it work on our old Cream carpets? Well we spent some time finding out, and I have to say I am AMAZED by the results.

We thought we would start with a small, well used room in our house. The cloakroom! Craig gets told of daily for not taking his shoes off when he gets home, being a Mechanic and MOT tester for years, you can imagine the dirt, grease and grime on his shoes!

We Craig vacuumed the carpet first, and then he followed the instructions that are printed on the Rug Doctor machine itself, they are fairly easy to follow. You only need to go over an area once, and in a straight line. This was the result whilst Craig pulled the rug doctor over the first line! I was amazed!


Our downstairs hallway is laminate and our front room is wooden flooring, so no need to use the rug doctor there. But next on the list was the stairs and landing, again, high footfall areas that really needed some care and attention!

The rug doctor machine is designed to go right up to the edges so for the most we only had to use the main machine. But for the stairs we did use the upholstery tool for each stair. The big plus for this was that the hose was very long, meaning we could leave the Rug Doctor machine at the bottom of the stairs and get on with the cleaning without having to lug it further up the stairs, like we Craig has to with the vacuum. Our tiny annoyance with the upholstery tool is that is just didn't have as much power as the actual machine itself (understandable) so it did take a few goings over and a bit more time than the rest of our carpets!


You could see the results immediately, although I must say, that once the carpets had fully dried  they looked even better!

So all in all we cleaned the cloakroom, stairs, landing, main bathroom, en suite and the childrens bedroom. The dirt that came out turned my stomach....


But made me realise that cleaning our carpets is a must, the results were fantastic, it felt like we were walking on brand new carpet!

The Rug Doctor is available to hire from a variety of hardware stores and supermarkets. In our area its Asda, Morrisons and Homebase. The cost of hiring starts from just over £30 for 24 hours. I would say that 24 hours would be enough to clean an average sized 2 bedroomed house like ours, but I think I would feel more happy hiring for 48 hours, as we wouldn't feel as rushed.

You can also buy the detergent in different size bottles depending on the size of the space you are intending to clean, and additional products, such as stain removers, are available too.

You can find out more about Rug Doctor on their website.

The Rug Doctor gets a big thumbs up from us, and is now on our yearly (if not 6 monthly) to do list. I thought that vacuuming was enough, but after using the Rug Doctor I know that it is not. I can not count how many people I have already recommended this to, we now feel happy to welcome people into our home, rather than embarrassed and apologetic about the state of our carpets!