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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: Healthy Snacks From Special K

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 14-02-2013

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As parents we are endlessly trying to encourage our children to eat healthily. Whether eat be at meal times or snack times we are keen for them to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and less biscuits and crisps – apart from the occasional treat of course! Unfortunately as parents who are often running around after our children we tend to be less concerned with our own diets. When there’s a million and one things to do we often grab food on the go and are probably more likely to grab something we shouldn’t than a healthier alternative.

When I want a snack, either during the day or when I’m relaxing in the evenings, you are more likely to find me going for a packet of crisps – more often than not a large packet – or a chocolate biscuit, than an apple or banana. Something fast and full of instant energy, which is certainly handy with a toddler in the house. Sadly this is not the healthiest thing I could eat. The team at Special K have come up with a solution however to satisfy my salted snack cravings, and my sweet tooth too.

Special K Cracker Crisps
These crisps are a far cry from that brand I usually buy, but I am thrilled, and a little surprised, to admit they taste better! “Healthy” crisps tend to be a little bit bland, or often taste like you are chewing cardboard. I’ve tried a few in  my time and found none that I like so I was keen to test out these cracker crisps. The serving suggestion is 21 crisps, and in that you’ll find a mere 95 calories (based on Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavour). Now these crisps are rather addictive, and I can confess that limiting myself to just 21 was basically impossible. The great thing was that even if I ate half the box (who, me?) it was infinitely better for me that eating half a share size bag of traditional crisps. These crisps from Special K are delicious and I recommend all three flavours, though my absolute favourites are the Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar. Perfect for eating with lunch, a mid afternoon snack, and they go rather well with that much needed glass of wine in the evenings when the kids have finally gone to bed.

Special K Biscuit Moments
Biscuit Moments are twin packs of biscuits with a fruit filling and a vanilla drizzle on top. At 98 or 99 calories each depending on flavour they are again a very healthy alternative to raiding the biscuit barrel. Once again I was surprised at how tasty they were for something so much better for you than a bar of chocolate, but despite this I wasn’t entirely satisfied. I could easily have eaten 2, and I fear that would have defeated the purpose. They were light and tasty, but a little too light for me. Maybe you could have one of these and then just the one chocolate biscuit as opposed to four or five. Don’t get me wrong they are yummy, but I personally would need something else. I suggest you try them and decide for yourselves.

The new ranges from Special K are available now from your local supermarket.

Product Review: Oxo Cookie Jar

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 06-11-2012

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There has been a lot of baking going on in my kitchen these last few weeks. What with Little Man’s Birthday, Halloween and my general love of baking there have been cakes and biscuits all over the place! Cakes tend to get eaten pretty quickly in this house but when I bake biscuits I tend to do them in bulk so there’s enough to last about a week. The problem I’ve found however is that they don’t stay fresh for that long in a tin so we invariably end up throwing some out which is a shame. At least we did until we discovered the Oxo Cookie Jar.

The Oxo Cookie Jar has the traditional cookie jar shape to it – rounded with a flat base and back and the opening angled forwards – but has a very special lid. As you can see above the lid has a large button on it. Pushing that button down secures the lid but also makes the jar airtight. To open the jar your just release the button and use the large round handle to remove the lid.

The jar has a capacity of 2.8 litres which is A LOT of cookies, so ideal for me and my bulk baking. Biscuits which I’ve baked and stored in here have been as fresh as the day I made them a full week later. I’m sure they would remain fresh for several more days to come if my husband and Little Man didn’t eat them all!

At £13 its clearly not the cheapest cookie jar on the market but its the best one I’ve found. It has pride of place in my kitchen and Little Man knows where to find his biscuits. He’s even managed to figure out how to open the jar himself, its that easy to operate.

You can find out more about this jar and the other items in the POP range here, as well as locating your local stockist.

Halloween Party Ideas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-10-2012

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October Half Term is upon us which signals Halloween is just a few days away. If you’re planning on throwing a party this Wednesday night for your children, or perhaps next weekend, here are a few ideas for some great value items to help make your party nice and spooky!

Here is our party table:

There are loads of Halloween decorations and party items available now in most high street stores, but everything you see on this table is from either Wilkinsons or Asda and all cost less than £4 each. Halloween is fast becoming another expensive event for parents, and with Christmas just around the corner money might be a little tight already. You don’t have to break the bank though the provide a fun and spooky themed night for your little ghouls.

Lets start in Wilkinsons should we?

This black cupcake stand in made from cardboard and is bought flat packed. It’s simple to put together and if you’re careful can be taken apart and stored till next year. We made small cupcakes and could fit 24 on here which is a great capacity for something which costs just £3.

I love these holders. Here we’ve just used them as decoration, but you can sit a cupcake in them or I even popped an empty muffin case in there and used it for a few sweets. A silicone case would be perfect, especially if you can get them in a Halloween colour. These metal holders are just £1 each so you can pop a few on your table, or use them as goodie bag fillers.

What child doesn’t like biscuits? With this pack of four cutters you can make your own creepy cookies and get the children involved in decorating them. This pack of four includes a bat, a ghost, a skeleton and a cat shape and is a bargainous £1. Again these can be washed and put away until next year.

Silicone bake ware is a big trend at the moment and I use it a lot at home. Its so easy to clean and getting the cakes out when baked is much simpler then in a metal tin. This cake mould features six individual moulds – 2 bats, 2 pumpkins and 2 ghosts – so you can make little cakes for everyone instead of one large cake or the traditional cupcakes. I think this would also be great for making individual jellies. You can get jelly in a wide range of colours and flavours and they’ll set quickly in the fridge inside the moulds. This cake mould is £4.

A full selection of party decorations, treats and costumes can be found now at your local Wilkinsons store and online.

Heading over to Asda, here are a few bits to pop into your trolley this week.

No party is complete without something to eat and drink from. Save on washing up and worrying about breakages with paper plates, bowls and cups from Asda. Bright orange featuring black bats these sets are great for eating or drinking out of, as well as holding sweets and treats on the table. You can also get a matching wipe clean table cloth to protect your table. Prices start from just £1.

Sweets are essential at Halloween, either for your own party, or for the trick or treaters who come to your door. The Fangs and Bats come in plastic reusable screw top jars, and the striped Wands in multi-packs. All start from £2 a pack.

If you don’t have time to make biscuits you can buy some gingerbread shapes from Asda. These graveyard ghouls come feature pumpkins, bats and skulls, and are a bit of hit with my Little Man. A box of 18 is just £1.

Dressing up is a great part of Halloween, especially if you’re out trick or treating. If you want something a little more subtle, and a lot cheaper than a full blown costume, try one of these great spooky tshirts. A steal at just £2.50 each.

Check out the huge range of Halloween decorations, sweets, treats and costumes in store and online now.

Also on the table are Ella’s Kitchen Munchy Biccies in Cinnamon & Orange flavour, ideal for your younger guests.

All the homemade cakes and cupcakes you see were made using a huge pack of decorations, recipe books, aprons and supplies sent from Ladbrokes. We had a lot of fun making the cakes in skull covered cases and finishing them off with coloured icing, sugar shapes and sugar sparkles. Once the kids have finally gone to bed and you’ve got your feet up, why not take a look at the new spooky promotions and Halloween slot games available on the Ladbrokes website.

 

Book Review: “Biscuit” by Miranda Gore Browne

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information, Product Launch | Posted on 20-04-2012

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Sussex based Miranda Gore Browne will be instantly recognisable after making her way into the last three of the first series of “The Great British Bake Off.” Coming a fantastic third overall Miranda was mostly remembered for her exquisitely hand decorated biscuits that looked far too beautiful to eat, and for keeping Mel and Sue well fed as they repeatedly stole her ingredients before she’d even used them! Miranda has been busy doing baking demonstrations and working with Squires Kitchen, The National Trust, and West Dean College. Now she is back with her first book, the aptly entitled “Biscuit”.

 

“Biscuit” contains over 100 recipes for biscuits – who knew there were so many? – and has handy hints and tips for decorating them and presenting them as gifts. Classics make an appearance such as the Bourbon and Jammy Dodger, and there are also exciting new recipes straight from Miranda’s own kitchen. My personal favourites include “Fruity Little Teds” which are destined to be a big hit with Little Man, “Jam Roly Poly Biscuits” which look just like slices of the sponge based dessert we all know and love, and “Pesto & Pine Nut Pieces” which are mouthwatering and delicious – and this comes from someone who hates pesto!

On Wednesday of this week I attended a demonstration which Miranda was doing in the epic Waterstones on Piccadilly.  Watching her in action as she whipped up with ease a large batch of “Double Chocolate Chunk Biscuits” and a batch of “Pesto & Pine Nut Pieces” was hugely inspiring and needless to say had the entire room salivating as the smells wafted from the oven. As plates were passed around I nervously tried the pesto based biscuit and was instantly won over – it was delicious. I have since been out to the shops this morning to buy some ingredients and hopefully I’ll get a batch baked this weekend. I will also be doing the “Fruity Little Teds” for Little Man. Top tips were also dished out and I think everyone went away planning a trip out to buy a small ice cream scoop for creating perfectly identical biscuits, and I imagine they all have at least one log of biscuit dough stashed in their freezer already. I know I will do soon!

For me “Biscuit” is a must have book for all parents and all biscuit fans. There are recipes for all occasions and some even claim to be vaguely healthy! You can buy “Biscuit” now from all good booksellers – and I highly recommend that you do! You can also find Miranda on Twitter @MirandaBakes.

John Lewis Opens First Store In Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Launch | Posted on 04-04-2012

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Retail giant John Lewis is opening its first ever store in Sussex on Thursday with a “John Lewis At Home” store on the Portfield Way Retail Park, just outside Chichester. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview on Tuesday and take a tour around the new store with branch manager Claire.


Boasting 40,000 square feet of selling space over two floors this new store has a wide range of products you’d commonly find within their bigger shops. There is a large selection of home décor and furnishing, as well as an extensive kitchen and lighting section.

Downstairs you will find the Click & Collect Service which makes shopping even easier – you just order the item and collect it from store the next day, and the only selection of Olympic Merchandising outside of a London branch. Perfect if you want to grab yourself a piece of memorabilia for this summers event without having to fight your way into the capital.

Jubilee fever has also struck with a number of Union Jack emblazoned products throughout the store from cushions to deck chairs and food gifts – I can highly recommend the Emma Bridgewater Biscuit Barrel!

Upstairs you will find a comprehensive electrical and gadgetry department which includes the brand new iPad and a number of TV’s – ideal distraction for the men! You will also find a small but well stocked baby section to pick up a few nursery essentials for your little ones, including cots, toys and a bedding.

The familiar John Lewis cafe is also upstairs where they’ll be selling a range of drinks, snacks and light lunches, as well as children’s lunch boxes. A supply of high chairs is ready and waiting! Customer toilets can also be found nearby along with spacious baby changing facilities, and a feeding room – something which is rare even on the high street!

One of my favourite “trends” on offer in John Lewis At Home is the ‘Playnation’ range. Here is the foyer of the new store, decked out in the range.


Can you believe that colourful book display is actually wallpaper? I love it and definitely want some for our home office!!

The ‘Playnation’ range is beautifully bright and encompasses a huge selection of products from table ware to garden items, home decor to office organisation. The mix of wood and colour looks brilliant and I can imagine several pieces finding a place in my home soon. Here are a few of my personal favourites:

This Tiffin Box would be great on family picnics this summer with four handy compartments for your lunch time favourites.

Office storage needn’t be dull with this brightly coloured unit featuring six large deep drawers.

Every cook and baker needs a good set of measuring spoons and I love this set of four – colourful additions to any kitchen.


Summer trips to the beach or just sitting in the garden will be stylish and comfortable for your little ones in this traditional deck chair.

John Lewis At Home opens on Thursday April 5th and with the extended Easter weekend it’s sure to be a busy one – I suggest you start queuing now!!

Alternative Easter Gift’s For Under 5’s

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-03-2012

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Despite temperatures being almost Caribbean at the moment it is in fact only Spring, which means Easter is approaching. A two week break for the children from school and a glut of chocolate beckons. What about the little children though? Giant chocolate eggs aren’t ideal so I’ve come up with a list of none chocolate based gift ideas for the smaller children in your life.

Biscuit Village
Okay so this might not be an entirely healthier alternative to chocolate eggs, but seriously – how cute are these biscuits?

 

15 assorted shaped biscuits decorated in with Royal Icing in flower, chick, rabbit and egg designs. Great for sharing with the children –  if you don’t eat them all yourself . The biscuits themselves are nice and plain in flavour, but the addition of the intricate decoration makes them a stunning visual feast. If you’re after something smaller you can also buy a lovely set of three chicks. Check out the Biscuit Village Easter Range, and their other biscuits for every occasion here.

Green Baby
You should all be aware by now what a big fan I am of clothes, especially for my Little Man. He has tonnes of gorgeous clothing, and if I had the finances, and thought Daddy wouldn’t think me crazy, I’d buy him to much more. One of my favourite online stores for clothes is Green Baby, who do a brilliant range of organic clothes. They are fantastic quality and long lasting, and seem to cope with the rough and tumble nature of my Little Man, and the necessary endless washing. My two favourite items from their current Spring/Summer Range are below – one for the girls and one for the boys.
This denim pinnie is so cute. I love the detailing on it – especially the tiny pockets on the front. It is a perfect year round outfit for any little girl, and is available now from the Green Baby website from birth to 5 years.
This hooded cardigan makes an ideal jacket for this season. Its fully lined so is great for the cooler spring days or for summer evenings. Its available in red or blue stripe, and from birth to 2 years from the website.

Green Baby also has a new product out – the Reversi-T. This t-shirt can be turned inside out and back to front so can be worn an amazing 4 different ways – 4 t-shirts in 1! You can see the Reversi-T in action here – much easier than trying to explain it – and take a look at the current range. There are some brilliant new designs due out soon this summer which will prove very popular, especially for those sporty children. Reversi-T’s are available in a range of designs for boys and girls in sizes 2 to 11 years.

TP Toys
Toys are brilliant, but keeping children active whilst playing is also important. I am a big fan of this trampoline from TP Toys, which is designed for children from 1 year plus.
Its neat and compact design is one of its main appeals. With a press of the button on the front you can fold down the handle so the trampoline can be easily put away when not in use. It can also be used indoors or out, making it a great toy whatever the weather. My Little Man is still getting to grips with this. Standing on it is not a problem. Its just a little difficult explaining the idea of bouncing to him. Apparently my demonstration using his Makka Pakka was not sufficient. The Bubble Bouncer can be bought direct from TP Toys at their website, where you’ll also find a range of larger outdoor trampolines for older children.

Leapfrog
If you’re looking for a something a little more educational this Easter then Leapfrog are sure to have the answer. As you all know my Little Man is a lover of books and merrily flicks through pages looking at the pictures… admittedly the book is often upside down AND back to front but the idea is there. We read books to him but he’d rather just look at the pictures, so when I saw this product I was immediately interested.
The Tag Reading system from Leapfrog is brilliant. Your child is given a handheld device – the little green creature in the image above – which they can hold against a page in one of the special Tag books. The book then comes to life, with the device reading the text on the page to your little one, or talking about a certain image depending on where you child touches. When you set up the device using a USB cable and your computer you even get to personalise it, so it always greets you child by name, something my Little Man found very entertaining. The only problem I’ve found with the Tag Junior Book Pal is that the on/off button is rather prominent. This will be great for independent reading with the books, but at the moment my Little Man mainly turns it on and off and on again. I’m thinking a supply of batteries will be needed!! The Tag Reading system starts at 12 months with the Junior Book Pal and moves on to the Tag Pen from age 4. A huge range of books, educational packs and carry cases are also available. The full Tag range can be found at your nearest toy store and on the Leapfrog website.

WOW Toys
I think its great to buy British toys, and WOW do a fabulous range from 18 months plus. They have some new designs out, and here are two of my favourites.
“Whizz Around Amy” is a cool motorbike and side-car which comes with a girl called Annabelle, a bouquet of flowers, Ted the Teddy Bear and Tilly the kitten. The characters can all ride in the bike and side-car or sit on the sidelines whilst Amy whizzes about. The bike makes impressive engine noises and the wheels are very responsive for easy whizzing about. Great for all action girls!
“Ryans Road Trip” is all ready for this summers ‘staycation’. Equipped with truck, trailer, tent, camp fire, dog, Dad and son, this is a camping trip that’s ready for anything. Everything fits together so that the truck can set off on its adventures with tent in tow on the handy trailer, or the truck can nip out on its own leaving the trailer at the camp site. I think every summer holiday needs one of these!

Both toys require no batteries – brilliant news – and can be found on the Wow Toys website.

JellyBox
Now Easter is all about eggs I know, but the Easter Bunny is a popular character and I think this little chap would make a great one!
Available in beige, pink or blue this would make the perfect 1st Easter gift for any newborn. Beautifully soft and cuddly this lovely rabbit comes in a lovely reusable box with magnetic fastening, which would make a great memory box. He is also machine washable which any parent will tell you is essential! If you fancy spoiling your little one with a JellyBox bunny this Easter I can exclusively offer you 15% off between now and Easter Monday with code SUM01 which you can use at the checkout on the JellyBox website.