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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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Product Review: Flexibath from Whitestep

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Product Reviews | Posted on 25-04-2012

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Baby baths are notorious for being bulky and difficult to store out of the way, especially if space is limited. We bought one before Little Man was born and finding somewhere to keep it when not in use was a bit of a nightmare, especially in a small flat. But when your baby is small its not really a good idea to put them in a big bath of water, with baby baths being a much safer option.

If you’re short on space, or if you’re looking for a portable bath you can take on holidays or when staying at family or friends, a Flexibath might just be what you need.

The Flexibath is the size of a traditional baby bath – perhaps even a little bigger – and provides a good sized and easy to use bath for newborns and babies. (It holds 39 litres of water when full.) The beauty of it is then when you’re finished you simply drain it using the plug in the base – a plug designed to be difficult for children to pull out – and fold it flat.
Just like that! There’s even a handy clip on the top to hold it flat so it can be slid conveniently under a bed or chest of drawers, or propped up in the corner of a bathroom until next time. It also fits easily into a suitcase for holidays and takes up minimal room in the car for overnight stays.

I was sent a Flexibath to test out with my 18 month old Little Man, as the bath is sold as suitable for use from birth to 4 years. If your child is happy to just sit in the bath then yes, I am sure you’ll fit a child of 2 years or more in there without a problem. Unfortunately my Little Man is more of a “walk around and wriggle about” kind of bather, so keeping him happy in this was a little tricky… and wet!

But do not fear! If you buy a Flexibath for your newborn – and I only wish I had when Little Man was born – it doesn’t become obsolete as soon as your child gets too big or starts moving around. The Flexibath makes a great toy box, or could be used for laundry. We even used ours to store books in until our Tidybooks Bookcase turned up, and it holds 100 plastic ball pit balls with ease. Away from using it for your children I think it would make an attractive colourful planter for your garden, and the transparent one with turquoise trim which we were sent to review could even be fashioned into a mini greenhouse to protect your seedlings during Britain’s dubious weather. A multitude of uses for a brilliant and ingenious product!

Flexibaths are available now from Whitestep but I have one to give away to a lucky SussexMummy reader. All you need to do is click here and fill in your details to be entered into the draw.  The competition closes on Friday May 4th at 8pm so get clicking!!

Product Review: Tidy Books Bookcase

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Product Launch | Posted on 23-04-2012

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Well it was only a matter of time before my book buying for my Little Man habit got out of control and we needed a better storage solution! Books have previously been piled in the lounge with his toys or in boxes upstairs but they’ve never been very tidy or easy to access for him without causing chaos. How’s this for tidy and accessible:

 

Whilst this is only a fraction of his books there is still loads of room for more on the shelves. With them being nice and deep you can put taller ones towards the back and smaller ones at the front. I love the fact that the books are facing the front so Little Man can see which one appeals and then get it out himself without scattering books across the room.

The bookcase comes flat packed and is so easy to build with the help of the included Alan key and a screwdriver – I managed to build it fully myself even with Little Man “helping” by moving the screws around. The panels on the front with the alphabet on are reversible, so you can have those parts plain and use it for other things when its been outgrown by your little one. The bookcase tilts back against the wall and attaching it is very important to avoid tipping it over – Little Man does try and reach the top shelf the best he can!

I guess the key question is does it work? Well I built it and propped it up against the lounge wall and put a few books on just to test out if the larger ones fit. It didn’t take Little Man long to do this:

That is Little Man reading his favourite “In The Night Garden” book. I can only apologise for the lack of trousers – not uncommon for him at the moment!

A brilliant piece of furniture that would look at home in any child’s bedroom or, as we have it at the moment, in the lounge.

Want to win your own?

Tidy Books Bookcases come in a variety of colours and finishes, and you can win your very own now by clicking here. Competition closes May 11th 2012.

 

 

Mothers Day Gift Guide

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 02-03-2012

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Mothers Day is just over a fortnight away – March 18th if you’re curious – so if you’re looking for something a bit different for you own Mum or your Mother In Law, or you want some inspiration for what to drop hints about for yourself, take a look at this lovely lot. You’re bound to find something to suit!

Hotel Chocolate
You can’t go wrong with a nice box of chocolates, and The Jewellery Box from Hotel Chocolat is a guaranteed hit. The box contains 10 individually wrapped chocolates – which were delicious by the way – and when they’re all gone it leaves a stylish box with mirrored lid that is perfect for storing your own treasures in. You can buy this gorgeous box from the Hotel Chocolat website.

So…? Perfume
For a slightly longer lasting gift how about a bottle of the classic So…? Perfume or a Body Spray? So…? has been around for years and its range gets larger every season. The Original So…? fragrance combines tangerine and orange blossom with vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli and has been a favourite in my house for a long time.  It is available in a 75ml body spray, a 100ml eau de toilette, or a choice of two gift sets from the So…? website.

Pinky Knits
If you’re after something a bit different for a Mum who enjoys crafts why not try a Pinky Knits Kit? Launched this year at Top Drawer the Pinky Knits Kit allows you to knit without using needles. In fact all you need are your fingers! Casting on is simple following the instructions on the side and then you work the wool to create a knitted “noodle”. This “noodle” can then be transformed into anything your imagination can come up with! There are instructions for making a snood or a coil twist scarf, but the “noodle” can easily be turned into a hat, a cushion cover, or even a bag! Pinky Knits Kits come in a range of colours and can be found online at their website.

Mama Baby Bliss
The Little Bag Of Mama Bliss is the ideal gift for Mums celebrating their first Mothers Day. The bag contains some “Ooh” Relaxing Bath Soak which as well as providing some much needed chilling out for Mum also aids post-natal healing with its calendula, aloe vera and  geranium. There is also a tube of “Aah” Soothing Mummy Baby balm which is perfect for soothing sore nipples or chapped skin. I use this on my eczema and its amazing, and my Mum is also using it on some flaky skin caused by an operation she had last year and its working a treat for both of us. Finally there is an “Uplifting Bliss Stick” which gives Mums a little boost when applied to pulse points. The Little Bag Of Mama Bliss can be found at the Mama Baby Bliss website a long with hints and tips for creating a blissful mama this Mothers Day.

 

Keep Calm For Mums
Parenthood can be difficult and at the end of a long day Mums can often be left feeling fraught and reaching for the nearest bottle. If you need a helping hand to get your through those days get yourself a copy of “Keep Calm For Mums” from Summersdale Publishing. This lovely pink book is packed with witty and uplifting quotes which are sure to bring a smile to your face and get your through even the most nightmarish day. “Keep Calm For Mums” is available from all good bookshops, or direct from Summersdale.

Stockwell Ceramics
Stockwell Ceramics is based in Cornwall and they produce a range of buttons, pendants, brooches and earrings made from beautifully coloured ceramic. You might have spotted their items in the V&A in London, or The Natural History Museum. As well as their standard range they often create bespoke commissions, but I think my favourite of their items is this lovely bird brooch. You can view their range now at their website.

Period Features
If you’re looking for a gift with a slightly more classical look to it you’d be best going to Period Features. Period Features primarily sources products for period homes, such as wallpaper, furnishings and heritage paints. However they also do a range of classic items like napkins and feather dusters. I particularly like the French Soaps and the traditionally packaged bath salts. The soaps are traditionally hand made and look beautiful as a decoration as well as in use. The bath salts look exactly as you would expect in their period paper packets. Period Features can be found in Leek, Staffordshire or online.

TeaJay Tea
Every Mum I know loves a good cup of tea. I know I certainly do. Whilst I am typically more like to reach for my usual brand of tea, I do occasionally fancy something a bit different. Why not send your Mum some TeaJay Tea to try? Their teas are inspired by music so are all named after songs. They have a wide range of herbal, fruit and Rooibos to choose from which make ideal teas all year round – they can all be made into delicious ice teas during the summer months. I rather enjoyed the Corazon De Melon which is delicious mix of honey, melon and guava with a hint of strawberry. TeaJays tea can be bought in varying quantities at their website.

Honey Tree
Honey Tree are bespoke stationers who create personalised stationary, invitations, labels and sell unique artwork from their online store. For Mothers Day they have a lovely range of labels for those Mums who enjoy making jams and preserves, or their own drinks. Labels can have just an image on or text too are designed by you so you are getting exactly what you want. The quality is great and ordering couldn’t be simpler.

Limited Edition Prints are also available, and these make a lovely gift. There is a wide range available and they come either mounted or framed and mounted and are signed too. You will find prints that are kitchen and garden themed that any Mum would be proud to hang. I am a big fan of the Fork & Spoon print which I think would look great in the kitchen, or the range of Heart prints would be a great way to show your Mum just how much you care. You can view the full range of prints, and the array of labels at the Honey Tree website.

Wood And Willow
Wood And Willow is a small family run business and #SBS winner who sells items to “Make Your House A Home”.  They sell a beautiful range of gifts for both the house and garden, and also feature a lovely selection of UK Handmade items. You will be spoilt for choice on the Wood And Willow website when it comes to buying something for your Mum, or at other times of the year, but my favourites include the Heart Shaped Frame Trio and the Red Gingham Apron Set. The frame trio is off-white in colour and would be ideal for photos of Mum, Dad and Baby. The Apron Set comprises an apron, oven glove and quilted pot stand. It comes direct from France to add a little French chic to your kitchen. The Wood And Willow website can be found here.

Boots
If your Mum is in need of a little pampering and you’re thinking a nice gift set is the way to go then you can’t go wrong in Boots where there is a great range from Champney’s on offer.  My picks are the “Indulgence Oriental Opulence Travel Collection” and the “Best Of Spa” sets which both contain handy sized products including bath soaks, shower gels and hand creams. If you’re after a gift for a Soon-To-Be-Mum how about the “Extracts Fairtrade Mini Body Butter Collection” which will be perfect for keeping bump nice and soft, and includes a Cocoa Butter which is good for helping prevent stretch marks. A full range of Boots Gift Sets can be found in store, or online.

Gumigem
How about a gift that’s both for Mum and for their little one? Jewellery wearing is generally a nightmare when you have a small child so most Mums forgo their collection until their children are older. With Gumigem you don’t need to! The stylish necklaces feature what look like solid stone pendants so are fashionable, but the “stone” is actually made from the same material as most traditional teethers. This means you can look stylish whilst your baby can safely chew on your necklace during times of teething, and if they do pull hard on it the safety catch at the back releases meaning no more strangling Mum! The necklaces come in four shapes and a range of beautiful colours, and are even worn by celebrity Mums like Denise Van Outen and Michelle Heaton. The full range can be viewed here but if you want to buy a Gumigem this Mothers Day I sell them with prices starting at £10, so get in touch for details!

Curvety
If you’re after clothing for that slightly curvier figure take a trip to the Curvety website. They stock a range of glamorous and fashionable clothing to dress your beautiful curves in style. From dresses, trousers and skirts to an amazing Bridal range as well as the all important shoes Curvety covers everything you could possibly want. In addition to their vast clothing range they also sell accessories including the gorgeous necklace you see below, which would look great on any woman, regardless of size. The full Curvety range can be found online.

The Old Bag Company
Perhaps a new bag is in order for Mum this year, but you want to get her something a little different. What about the “Sophie Canvas Bag” from the Old Bag Company? The bag comes with an array of pockets to store all Mum’s bits and pieces and has a waterproof liner in case of any spills. It’s machine washable and inside every bag is a message from the Old Bag Company children (who all the bags are named after) so you know you’re getting the genuine article. Available in six colour choices this bag is perfect as a handbag, shopper, beach bag, hand luggage or funky work bag. This bag, and the rest of the spotty and stripey range, can be found at the Old Bag Company website.

Swanky Maison
If you want to get your Mum something totally different whilst supporting new and up-and-coming UK designers head over to Swanky Maison. Swanky Maison is an online boutique that sells gifts and items for the home that have been designed and made here in the UK. The range of items on there is mind-blowing – I was on there for hours pouring over the gorgeous things – and I defy anyone to not find something they love. One of my favourite designers on there is ‘Red Brick Glass’. Based in Dorset, Wendy the founder of ‘Red Brick Glass’ creates a stunning array of glass items using a her kiln, finishing them all by hand and packaging them beautifully. I adore these glass lanterns, available in a set of three, with their delicate butterfly print on them which are fired in the kiln to ensure they won’t scratch off. I think these would look pretty in the garden, as centre pieces at a spring wedding, or just around the bath when Mum has that much deserved relaxing soak. ‘Red Brick Glass’ and a host of other talented designers can be found on the Swanky Maison e-boutique website.

Tesco Nail Varnish
If your children are just reaching an age where they understand the significance of Mothers Day and perhaps want to spend “their” money on a present for Mummy then Tesco might just have the answer. Their “All About Nails” range is perfectly priced at just 99p per bottle and they have large number of colours available from the brights to the on-trend pastels, and whilst the price is cheap the quality is fabulous. So come on Dads, why not nip out to the supermarket with your children this weekend and grab Mum a present they can buy themselves? ‘All About Nails’ is available now from your local Tesco store.

Yankee Candle
A Housewarmer candle from Yankee Candle is a gift that Mum, and the rest of the family, can enjoy for up to 150 hours. Presented in a large glass jar with glass lid this is an epic candle that will also make a lovely decorative feature in any room of the house. When it comes to scented candles I prefer something subtle to provide a nice background smell as opposed to something overpowering, so for me the ideal Yankee Candle would be the Vanilla Satin – a gentle classic fragrance. This fragrance, and others, is available in several sized candles from small tea-lights to the mighty large glass jars from the Yankee Candle website.

Afternoon Tea
She’s probably spent years slaving over your tea, and now she can have a fantastic time unwinding with a different type of tea, scones, and a selection of scrumptious cakes on her tea for two experience. Whether you opt for afternoon tea at Harrods or you whisk her away to any of 20 elegant rural locations across the UK, she’ll simply love this traditional treat. Tea For Two days out are available from the Buy-A-Gift website.

Celebrate World Book Day With Autumn Publishing’s New Range

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Competition, Product Reviews | Posted on 01-03-2012

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For an almost 17 month old Little Boy my son owns an alarming number of books. We are keen for books to pay a big part in his life, as well as the inevitable geeky toys and gadgetry. I’m always on the look out for good quality board books for him, or books for the future which I store in a box in the office. This World Book Day I would like to point you all in the direction of Autumn Publishing, and their new range of books where you’ll find something for children from 12months to 8years.

12 months +
Ideal first books are buggy books – board books which come with an elasticated strap and loop which can be fixed to a pram, a car seat or even the side of a cot. In association with Fisher Price, Autumn Publishing have two great buggy books which are beautifully sized for little hands. “My 123 Buggy Book” explores the world of animals with each of the pages showing a different number of animals. “My Animal Friends Book” contains more brightly coloured animal pictures from the usual birds and elephants to the less commonly used iguana. I love these buggy books because it means we can continue my Little Man’s love of books on the go!

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger for your little one to read whilst at home there is also a range of bigger Fisher Price books available, all containing the same characters from the board books. Four titles are available in this mini-series. “Roar” – which explores the noises animals make, “Where Do You Live?” – which as the title suggests looks at animals natural habitats, “4 Fluffy Ducks” – which looks at counting again, and “My First Colours” – which encourages counting and colour recognition. Unlike normal books this series has a shaped top which I think makes them more appealing and holdable to young children. As soon as this range left the box my Little Man was sat on the floor flipping through the pages – a bookworm in the making!

3 years +
For slightly older children Fisher Price returns once more with an amazing series of educational books that look great fun. The idea is to make learning fun, and I personally can’t wait until my Little Man is old enough to use these. A series of six titles are available and each contains progress charts, stickers and fun brightly coloured activities to encourage your child to learn, but also to enjoy themselves at the same time. Each book contains the same 5 characters – Maggie, Eddie, Sarah-Lynn, Sonya-Lee and Michael as they join your child in the world of learning. Titles include “Colours & Shapes”, “Numbers”, “Letters”, “Phonics”,  “Writing” and “Tell The Time”. These titles would make a great gift to set your little one on the road to learning.

For fun activities the “Fluffy Friends” range provides colouring in, puzzles and each book comes with over 100 stickers. Each book in the series follows the same pattern and design centred around a different animal – Kittens, Bunnies, Puppies and Ponies.

I have a complete set of these books to give away to one lucky reader!! For a chance to win all you need to do is tweet the following:

“I Want To #WinFluffyFriends With @AutPublishing and @SussexMummy”

The competition will close at 8pm on Friday March 9th and the lucky winner will be notified as soon as possible after that.

6 years +
These two books are perfect for your little one who has just started school.

“My First Atlas” helps them explore the countries of the world by telling them fascinating facts and providing brightly coloured detailed pictures. You learn about animals, industry, history, geography, weather and population in a fun and easy to read form. Each page also has a small globe at the top to show you where in world that country is!

“My First Encyclopaedia” introduces them to the the world around them. There are sections on history, the human body, space, the weather and so much more. The information is laid out in a clean and interesting manner to ensure your child’s attention is kept, and it will give them a great head start on topics they’ll cover in much greater detail later on.

Both titles include a special eight page section on the UK so they can learn more about the country in which they live, its history, its residents and its geography.

All the books featured above are available direct from the Autumn Publishing website and range in price from £2.99 to £6.99

Have a great World Book Day!!