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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Review: Tangle Teezer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 14-09-2016

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Tangle Teezer’s have been around for ages. They are one of those things I’ve wanted to try out for a while, so when a bright and funky Lemon Sherbet teezer landed on my doormat a few weeks ago, I was very excited.

sherbetlemonCute isn’t it? I love the contrasting colours. The sharp lemon and the softer pink make this stand out from the rest, and perfectly epitomises its name. I love how compact it is. It pretty much lives in my handbag, handy for keeping my hair looking neat when I’m constantly on the run. I love the shape. It is ergonomically brilliant, fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand giving me complete control.

Banish tangles and knots with a minimum of fuss, breakage or damage with the Tangle Teezer detangling brush uniquely designed with teeth that glide through your hair leaving it soft and shiny without tugging and pulling.

Using the brush leaves my hair smooth and sleek, and I think it works very well with my short bob style. A welcome addition to my handbag.

The Salon Elite Tangle Teezer is available in a range of fun and funky colours. There’s one for everyone.

#Review: Peppa Pig Alphaphonics Campervan

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Educational Play | Posted on 13-09-2016

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When your child reaches two, there is a basic inevitability that Peppa Pig and her friends are going to take over your lives. There is clearly some magical hypnosis coming from the TV whenever it is on that just draws children in, and from then on anything Peppa Pig themed – and to be fair there’s a lot out there – becomes fascinating to them.

We watch Peppa Pig, obviously. Little Dude is 2 and a definite fan. He took his first trip to Peppa Pig World recently and loved it. We already have a few themed toys in the house, but when I was asked if I wanted to review the brand new Alphaphonics Campervan I was very interested.

campervan

Styled to look like the campervan used in their holiday episodes, this electronic toy features the letters of the alphabet next to a recognisable image. There are eight games to play which can be selected using a sliding button at the top. You can learn about the phonic sounds, spelling, matching and the alphabet. It comes with volume control – YAY! – but I’m afraid it has NO OFF SWITCH. Aimed at the over 3’s I could see this appealing to both my children. Little Dude loves the show, recognises the characters, and loves pressing buttons. Little Man, at almost 6, doesn’t really watch it anymore but loves learning and practising his phonics.

Little Dude has obviously played with it most. He likes going through the letters one at a time, pressing the buttons and either saying the word or mimicking the item in the image. His favourite is invariably the ‘D’ key and there is usually a lot of dinosaur roars to be heard. With Little Man its more about copying the phonics sounds and practising spelling some of the words. He’s like a sponge at the moment with information and learning, so I’m very pleased to let him “play” with this as he is good at listening to the instructions.

It’s a great educational fun toy. Lots of potential for learning for both Little Dude and Little Man, who both think they’re just having fun which is ideal. The sliding button at the top feels a little cheap to me and I do wonder how long it will survive with my boisterous boys. Apart from that I love it, though I do wonder who thought no off switch was a good idea. It automatically shuts off after two minutes of none usage, but surely a simple off switch would be easier? Thankfully there is volume control so you don’t have to endure the pig too loud. It is a great toy for young fans of the show, and a good starter for the phonics learning. Oink oink!

I Want A Lunchbox…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School | Posted on 30-08-2016

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With a little over a week to go before the children head back to school there is stuff everywhere. In every single shop there is some kind of back to school section overflowing with uniform, stationary, bags, lunch bags, bottles, and every manner of thing you apparently need to survive another year at school.

Now with Little Man about to make the move up into Year 1 and Little Dude about to start his time at preschool – two mornings a week to myself!!! – the list of things we actually need are pretty short. New jumpers, shirts and socks was about all Little Man needed, and Little Dude just needed a bag to take bits to preschool in. All very low maintenance, which to be honest makes a change for my two.

I’m very lucky that both the preschool and the primary school provide lunches for my boys. I hate making packed lunches. Little Man likes a very limited selection of foods that I could provide, so gets easily bored. Both of them seem happy enough when we have the occasional picnic, but if I gave them that sort of food every day they’d both be complaining in no time.

That being said, we do own a lot of lunch boxes. Little Man has a couple that he used at his original preschool, and Little Dude has one as well. In fact his new preschool “bag” is actually a cool bag but it was perfectly sized for him and has a dinosaur on so it’s a winner.  Daddy even has a lunch box that he takes to work with him. In fact the only person without a lunch box is me…

I want a lunch box! Why does everyone else get a lunch box except me?! *insert tantrum here*

Anyway…

There are SO many cute lunch boxes out there. Gone it seems are the days of plastic lunch boxes with ill fitting flasks. Nowadays its trendy looking coolbags in a vast array of shapes, designs and styles.  I’ve been resisting the urge to get myself a lunch box for ages. Until now that is.

Joules-GuineaPigBox

I mean seriously, how cute is this?

I actually have the guys at House Of Fraser to thank for this. I love Joules designs – my Little Dude’s preschool bag is actually this but in the dinosaur print – so when they asked if I’d like one I couldn’t say no. They are a great size, supremely cute and come with a handy box inside too. Now obviously I’m not heading back to school in September, but I guess I could take food to work in it maybe. Or at the very least I’m ready for my next picnic with my boys.

Good luck to everyone heading to school in September, especially those going for the first time. You’ll be great.

#Review: House Of Fraser Kitchen Linen

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 24-06-2016

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Summer is here. Try not to laugh now. Okay I know if you look outside it might not look much like summer, though the with the crazy way the weather keeps changing at the moment maybe it does. Either way its times like this that I always feel inspired to do some home decorating, or freshen things up at bit. The team at House Of Fraser sent me some new linen for my kitchen to help with this.

HouseOfFraser-Apron-SussexMummy

They have a lovely selection to choose from, and we were sent a set from the Dickins & Jones Farmers Market range. We received the apron, the tea towels and the oven gloves, which have brightened up our kitchen no end.

I love the bright floral design on each item, and it makes it feel very much like a countryside kitchen. The quality is excellent too, precisely what you’d expect from such an iconic brand. I am a particular fan of the apron. I’m not exactly the cleanest and tidiest cook or baker, so this is perfect for keeping me clean, if not the rest of the kitchen! Everything is machine washable thankfully too, something I have tested out many times so far. I’ll get better. Eventually.

The superb news is that if you dash on over to the House Of Fraser website these items are all currently in the sale!

Educational Play with Schleich

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Educational Play | Posted on 22-06-2016

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I’m a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I’m not a teacher and I don’t want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently by Schleich about receiving their new “Educational Play The Schleich Way” guide – which you can download yourself via the handy button to the right – and a selection of their animal figures to play with, I jumped at the chance.

Schleich-Animals-SussexMummy

I was a big fan of the guide, which is full of practical information and ideas for playing with your children. It was created with the help of Amanda Gummer who I’ve featured on here before, and she is wonderful at coming up with different ways of playing. We tailored some of the suggested games to make them more appropriate for Little Dude who is just 2 years old, for example asking him to bring us a certain animal and teaching him the noises that they make. We also used them with existing toys we have, for example an animal jigsaw that features an elephant, and a farm yard set had a new cow and horse to visit. As the guide suggested there is lots of potential for speech development with these toys, and as a 2 year old who is very much in the midst of finding his voice they are a tremendous addition to our existing toys. I can also see there getting dragged out into the garden if the weather ever sorts itself out and becomes consistently sunny. I can already imagine a strange zoo farm emerging on my grass!

The Schleich figures themselves are fabulous. The quality is outstanding, and the detailing on them is incredible. From the wrinkles on the elephants skin, to the marks on the horses hooves, and the prominent ribs on the cow, they are phenomenally lifelike. I can see more of these figures making their way into our playroom soon, especially now I’ve spied the impressive range of dinosaurs they do!

#Review: Shark Rocket HV320

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 09-06-2016

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I hate housework. I’m sure I’m not alone in that statement either. I can generally find a million and one things I’d rather be doing than cleaning the house, and invariably can be found doing one of them instead.

Having two young boys in the house the floor is generally chaotic. Biscuit crumbs, bread crumbs, a few dozen dinosaurs, several books and cars are scattered far and wide, therefore vacuuming is something of an assault course. I was approached recently by the team at Shark asking if I’d like to test out one of their vacuums. It was a brand I had never heard of before, so I did a little research before replying. A swift Google search and I stumbled upon several comments about how they were infinitely better than Dyson which had me intrigued. I use a Dyson myself and have always been highly impressed by it – so easy to move around and seemingly efficient. But was there something better?

Shark-RocketHV320-SussexMummy

Shark sent me a Rocket HV320 to test out. “The only Shark® stick vacuum designed to integrate the performance and cleanability of an upright and with pets in mind.” I have never used a stick vacuum before. I have long lusted after the Dyson cordless, but I have only ever used an upright so I was again intrigued as to how this would differ. The vacuum can be used with a multitude of included attachments, allowing it to be used as a stick vacuum and a handheld. It has a mini motorised brush for pet hair, a Dustaway attachment for hard floors, multiple LED lights for seeing under furniture, and can be stored either hanging on the wall or free standing.

The first test I did with the Shark was crumbs. Little Dude creates more crumbs than the rest of us put together, and not least of all with his favoured treat of a croissant. It is probably my own fault for allowing him to enjoy this treat stood at the coffee table whilst watching Bing or Twirlywoos, but the mess is insane as you can see from the before shot below. The after shot was taken following a quick vacuum with the Shark. The results, I feel, speak for themselves.

Shark-Croissant-SussexMummy

This doesn’t demonstrate the amount of crumbs that were over the table but I’m sure you can imagine. As you can see the rug looks like new, in fact I’m fairly sure it has never looked cleaner.

Next up was biscuit crumbs. Our sofas have wide arms which make them a frequent dumping ground for all manner of things, least of all drinks and snacks. Little Man arrives home from school each afternoon ravenous so snacks are dispensed almost the moment we walk back through the front door. He settles himself on the sofa with a bowl of fruit and biscuits and a drink and inevitably scatters the crumbs along the arms. Another before and after shot here, and this time I used the motorised head with the vacuum in its handheld form.

Shark-Biscuit-SussexMummy

For our final test – for now – I decided it was long time I cleaned out my car. The interior is basically an extension of the house, scattered with crumbs and stones and leaves and toys and books and all manner of chaos. Again it was time for the handheld vacuum to be used, along with the mini motorised head and the small crevice tool.

Shark-CarInterior-SussexMummy

My well battered car mats haven’t looked this clean for a very long time.

I think the photos here tell the story of the quality of the cleaning – entirely faultless. But how was using it? Well as I mentioned previously I have never used a stick vacuum before. It was a very different experience to an upright and it did take a bit of getting used to. It manouveres well however, and the heads fit neatly beneath the coffee table and the sofas. The lights, which I originally thought were a crazy feature, provided a great scope of vision beneath the furniture, allowing me to see precisely how untidy my house is!

I have a few more tests for the Shark which will be featured on the blog soon. I need to test it on the hard floors of the kitchen and bathrooms, I need to test its ability to vacuum the carpet in my bedroom which tends to be covered in my hair, and I need to use it on the stairs. But so far, I am vastly impressed with the vacuum and can well see me forgoing my Dyson entirely.

#Review: Donna from Hotter

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Fashion | Posted on 07-06-2016

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There’s a reasonable chance that I’m becoming obsessed with Hotter shoes.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a party at my local Hotter store. Not my first, and hopefully not my last, but an event I can never turn down. Hotter throw the best parties – the team are always incredibly lovely, they always bring prosecco, and then there’s shoes. What more could a girl want?

Hotter-Donna-SussexMummy

You’ll remember that at my last event I left with the fabulous – yet very practical – Ribble Boot, which I wore relentlessly throughout the autumn and winter, and which I adore. This time around I decided to go for something altogether less practical, but just as gorgeous. These sparkly silver heels are the Donna Shoe, and I love them.

I’d gone with other shoes in mind, had planned on getting the Antoinette Heels that I’d managed to resist last time. But I spied the Donna sparkly on the shelves and it was pretty much game over. Incredibly comfortable as you’d expect from Hotter, totally impractical – hardly school run appropriate, but just gorgeous.

Now sadly I haven’t had occasion to wear them yet – apart from sat in front of the TV…! – but I’m thinking I’m hugely well prepared for the work Christmas party this year. They look great with jeans so I might risk wearing them next time I go out to the pub, but I suspect that the festive season will be the best time to debut these.

Grab your own Donna Heels now in this soft silver, or one of the many other shades available.

#Review: A Day Out At Drusillas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out | Posted on 27-04-2016

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We are no strangers to Drusillas. We’ve been many times before, as featured on this blog in fact, but it’s been a couple of years since we went and decided it was high time Little Dude got his first visit under his belt. Needless to say we were thrilled at Drusillas impeccable timing at inviting us down to their East Sussex location to take a look around and see what was new.

The last time we went was a little over two years – when I was pregnant with Little Dude in fact – so we were well overdue a visit. It is a great place for a day out with the children. There’s plenty animals to see, lots of viewing areas which accommodate visitors of all ages and sizes, and the fun doesn’t stop when you’ve seen all them all. To be honest the animal areas haven’t changed at all. There’s a huge array of them and both children were fascinated. The monkeys remain amongst the favourites, and Little Man loved seeing the penguins after a term at school where he’d been learning all about Antarctica. Little Dude is cat obsessed, and any animal that isn’t a cat is apparently a “COW!” which he yells rather enthusiastically. There are apparently a lot of cows at Drusillas…

Drusillas-Penguins-SussexMummy

The play areas are brilliant. Both children went off into soft play with Daddy and were lost in there for ages. A bit of peace for me, but there was one very tired Daddy at the end. The outdoor area was briefly climbed over, but it was rather cold out despite the bright blue skies. There is a new ‘Get Wet Splash Pad’ area that is open now where there’s jets of water squirting around and your children can run around in their swimming stuff. Not keen on the idea of this when we visited, but I imagine in summer it will be fabulous. The Thomas The Tank Engine Train ride is a must do – both children were glad for the sit down, and Little Dude spent his entire journey waving from his seat, whether it be at animals, people or the occasional tree. I kid you not.

Last time we visited the Hello Kitty Secret Garden was under construction but now it’s been open for ages, so it was good to get a look in there. It consists of three rides – the Hopper Ride where you get propelled into the air and bounced back down, the Car Ride where you get to “drive” a cute cat car around along a railed track, and the Tea Cup Ride where you spin around to your hearts content in pink or blue cup. All three rides were a massive hit with my children. Despite his dramatic screams I can assure you that Little Man did enjoy all three turns on the Hopper, and it goes without saying that my cat obsessed Little Dude spent most of the time in a car going round and round the track.

DrusillasCollageSussexMummy

There are multiple quality merchandise stores selling an array of relevant, and not so relevant things to remember your visit. Little Dude came home with a Hello Kitty toy which he randomly yells “CAT!” at, and Little Man was most insistent that we got him a penguin. There may also have been plastic dinosaurs and swords bought, but they were less about the visit and more about my children’s current obsessions!

Drusillas is brilliant. We’ve been many times, and we will go many times again. There is so much to do whilst you’re there, lots to see, and the facilities are always up to standard. God bless the person that put Starbucks Coffee into the restaurant by Hello Kitty! Do make the trip – it is well worth it.

#Review: Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie | Posted on 25-03-2016

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I’m a bit of a fan of pulled pork. It’s one of those things that always seems to taste delicious when I eat it out somewhere but that I’d never try at home because it takes hours, and I doubt I’d be able to replicate the flavour anyway. When it comes to cooking at home I tend to get quick and easy food. The boys eat together, and then I eat with my husband in the evening when the children are in bed. I don’t have time to do any major cooking, so I like things that are fast to prepare, and tasty.

Santa Maria contacted me recently to see if I wanted to review one of their brand new meals kits. I’ve used meal kits in the past to make an array of Mexican dishes, so the concept was familiar. What interested me was that it was a kit to create Pulled Pork, and that it was going to take just 90 minutes to cook. I was intrigued.

PulledPork-Box

All I needed to buy was some pork and some red onions. Now, we didn’t get any red onions – inexplicably the local supermarket was out when I popped in to get some – but we did everything else that the recipe required.

PulledPork-Contents

So the box contained everything else we needed – seasoning for the pork, a bag to cook it in, seasoning for the red onions had we had any, chipotle BBQ sauce, and small tortillas.

PulledPork-Bag

I put the pork into the special bag and added the seasoning mix and some water. Bit of a shake and it looked like this… not entirely appetising but it was hardly going to look delicious at this stage! I put the bag in a dish in the oven for 90 minutes and that was it – job done. The smells coming from the kitchen we very enticing.

When it was finished cooking you simply pulled the pork apart and served it on the tortillas with some marinading red onions if you had them and the chipotle sauce.

PulledPork-Wrap

Now the tortillas were indeed mini, so we shared the eight included between the two of us and served it with sweet potato fries. The box suggests that these would make good canapes or that you could put the meat on rolls for a bigger meal.

The meal was delicious. It was an authentic pulled pork, and the only thing that let it down was the piece of pork I bought, but that was nothing to do with the meal kit. A better less fatty piece of meat would have created far more delicious pulled pork. Next time I’ll also make sure I get some onions!

Santa MariaPulled Pork Dinner Kit and Santa Maria Pulled Chicken Dinner Kit will be available in Morrisons from late November, RRP. £3.99.

Blaze and the Monster Machine’s Party Invite…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event | Posted on 14-03-2016

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We’re having a party!!

Blaze-Invite

On Wednesday 16th March between 1pm and 3pm I will be holding a party, along with a team of other bloggers, to co-incide with the HOUR LONG Blaze and the Monster Machine’s special which will be airing on Nick Jr that same afternoon. We have a huge array of fun and educational activities planned for the children at home, all of which are STEM related – science, technology, engineering and maths – and you can follow all our games via my Twitter account @SussexMummy. There’ll be images going up on my Instagram, and if you also follow @NickJrUK and the #NickJrBlaze you’ll spot lots of chat and exclusive competitions being run too.

There’ll be four main activities going on in my house that afternoon. Our Science activity will be a bit of a wet one and we might just be testing out Blaze’s swimming ability. Our Technology activity will be creative and very tasty thanks to the fabulous @KiddyliciousUK. Our Engineering Activity will be testing out Blaze’s driving skills and might also feature a few edible components. And finally our Maths Activity will see just how far we can make Blaze go.

Many of our activities are going to feature new toys from the Fisher Price Blaze and the Monster Machines range which you can find at your nearest Argos and Smyths Toys Superstore.

Please do follow the party using all the appropriate social media, and most importantly don’t forget to watch the brand new HOUR LONG special on Nick Jr too.