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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: Oxo Twist Top Water Bottle

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 31-10-2013

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Is it just us that seems to own every sippy cup out there, or is it a normal thing? Every time we open Little Man’s cupboard in the kitchen where we store his cups and bowls and plates at least one sippy cups jumps out at us. The reason for our deluge of cups? Finding one that works consistently and reliably is a nightmare. Who knew it could be so hard to create a cup that your child can drink from without spilling it, or chewing the straw off, or that is permanently open to the elements, or leaks in your handbag. Apparently its rocket science, but thankfully someone seems to have achieved the seemingly impossible. And about time too.
oxo tot twist top water bottle in aquaOxo Tot have created this, the Twist Top Water Bottle, seen here in Aqua. A simply designed bottle which is easy to hold for young children either by the indentation round the bottle or the loop on the lid. A decent length straw reaches right the way to the bottom so no juice or water gets wasted – the number we have that don’t do this is alarming – and a simple twist of the lid folds the straw away. This is both hygienic AND ensures the spill proof nature of the lid. Even with it open you can shake it upside down – as children tend to do – or knock it over – as Little Man does hourly – and nothing comes out. Not one drop.
I love this bottle as it does what it claims and it does what I need it to do. Little Man loves it because he can carry it round easily and it always dispenses his favourite juice. Even Daddy commented the other day that this was a good cup and wanted to know where we got it from and should we get a spare. For Daddy to notice and comment on something like a sippy cup must mean its pretty much brilliant.
The Twist Top Water Bottle from Oxo Tot is priced at £8 and is available in Aqua, Green and Raspberry. It has a capacity of 300ml and is dishwasher friendly – always a bonus for us.

Camping Kit: Footwear

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping | Posted on 13-08-2013

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Its only a few weeks till we head up to Cumbria to visit The Quiet Site for four nights. I’m remaining eternally optimistic that the weather will hold out, or at the very least remain reasonably warm. As well as making sure we have all the necessary kit for our camping adventure, I also need to make sure we have all the right clothing. Lots of lightweight clothing, waterproofs in case of sudden downpours, and comfortable footwear. Whilst Daddy and I have trainers, hiking boots and wellies, Little Man only really has wellies which are suitable for all terrains. Whilst we’re clearly not about to start hiking the hills of Cumbria, we may well go on a few walks and some lightweight footwear that is suitable for wet or dry conditions would be a bonus. Off to an internet search engine I go, and I found these cute little sandals on the Jelly Egg website.
JellyEgg Keen Kids SandalsThese infant shoes from Keen look ideal for stomping around the countryside and for any trips to the coast we manage whilst we’re up there. The Quiet Site is very close to Ullswater so no doubt there’ll be some splashing around done there by the Little Man. The soles look pretty sturdy so should cope well with the kind of terrain we’re likely to take him on, but should also work fine on trips into towns and villages.

Now I come to think about it Daddy has been muttering that the shoes he currently walks to work in are getting a but tatty and in need of replacement. He’s awful when it comes to buying shoes so maybe it’d be quicker for him and more painless for me if I just get him a pair of these whilst I’m buying Little Man’s?
These boots are waterproof, breathable, and designed for comfort and stability. Whilst Daddy doesn’t tend to fall over much – there was ONE time he did and it was hysterical – he does walk about three miles a day in all weathers so these look perfect for him. Maybe I’ll just forward him the details and let him spend the money eh?

A Family Trip To The Cinema

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-07-2013

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Last weekend we went to the cinema with Little Man for the first time. He’s watched movies at home before with Tangled, Monsters Inc, any Toy Story movie and currently Despicable Me being amongst his favourites. What he tend to do though when watching films at home is wander about, play with toys, and more often than not fast forward the dull bits and watch his favourite sections. In Toy Story for example he tends to focus on any bits with Buzz or Zurg in. Going to the cinema was going to be an entirely different proposition for him. Not only would he not being to skip bits, but he’d have to sit still and stay fairly quiet. We were also at the end of week 2 of potty training. It was going to be an experience, that’s for sure.

We arrived at the cinema in good time so that Little Man would have chance to get used to the place. We’d told him that we were going to see “Monsters University” which had the same characters in as “Monsters Inc”. We took his Mike and Sulley toys with us, as well as his new Munchkin Monsters Click Lock cup. We told him we’d be seeing a movie on a really big TV which he thought was very exciting indeed. After collecting our tickets and buying some all important snacks for the movie we went inside and settled into seats on the front row. We wanted to make sure we could have a speedy getaway in case of toilet trips or if it all became too much for him. You could collect a booster seat from the lobby for little ones to sit on but we’d taken our new BoostaPak from Trunki. This seemed an ideal opportunity to test out its uses outside of the car. It fit perfectly in the seat and stopped it from closing on Little Man as he merrily climbed aboard and settled into his special chair. Needless to say the sight of the “really big TV” got him even more excited, even though nothing was showing. Try as we might to take his photo in the seat it was impossible, but I did get this shot of his little friends.

mike wazowski james p sullivan munchkin cup monsters university trunki boostapak

He didn’t seem at all concerned when the lights dimmed and the TV came on, despite the volume and he happily watched the trailers and adverts whilst munching on his popcorn and drinking his Monster juice. When the film eventually started – I think 30 minutes of adverts before a children’s movie is insane – he instantly recognised Mike. “Monsters University” is a prequel to “Monsters Inc” and shows the early lives of Mike and Sulley and how they meet and come to work together. Its full of great comedy moments, and whilst the plot is hardly the work of genius this is a children’s film after all. I loved it. Little Man and Daddy did enjoy what bits they saw. Like I said, Little Man is currently potty training – and doing VERY well – so about 30 minutes after the actual movie had started let us know he needed to go. Daddy took him and they came back about ten minutes later. Apparently after weeing Little Man had spent five minutes running up and down the lobby. You wont be surprised to hear that ten minutes later he claimed to need to go again, and spent ten minutes running up and down the lobby. Upon his third trip to the toilet Daddy decided it’d be easier to just stay outside! “Monsters University” is a great family movie, but perhaps not one to watch if you’re potty training!

I am a huge fan of the Munchkin Monsters range too. We have the click lock cup which is perfect for dark cinemas as it doesn’t leak, as well as the toddler feeding set which comprises a bowl, sectioned plate and fork and spoon. We use the sectioned plate daily. Its great at lunch time to put Little Man’s sandwiches in one section, a pile of fruit in the other, and usually a small pile of toddler crisps or rice cakes in the third. We also use it at breakfast with brioche rolls, blueberries and grapes. The rubber rim on the base of both the plate and the bowl is ideal for toddlers as it stops it from sliding about – very important for enthusiastic eaters!

“Monsters University” is showing at cinemas nationwide now and you can find the Munchkin Monsters range in store now.

I was provided with a voucher for cinema tickets and the Munchkin Monsters range for the purposes of this review.

A Place To Enjoy My Garden

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Reviews | Posted on 26-07-2013

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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 and vegetables are being grown in bed, pots and baskets – basically anywhere I can squeeze them in. There’s also a nice little shed to store all our bits and pieces in at the bottom corner. We have two water butts to help save water, though these have run dry in the last few weeks. Our tortoise Oscar has his own raised enclosure which includes plants which he’s allowed to eat. And then there’s Little Man’s things. A sand pit picnic bench, a play house, and a multitude of toys are scattered everywhere in between. Its a very busy garden and one which I like to spend some time in when the weather allows. About eighty percent of our garden enjoys sunshine, some of it for most of the day and other parts are more dappled. Down our left hand side however there is a strip running along the fence which gets very little sun in the summer, and none at all during the winter months. Complete shade does not allow the most interesting of plant growing, though I do have few token Hosta’s just to brighten it up a little. This stretch of the garden has seen little to no work done to it since we moved in back in 2011 so I thought it was about time I did something to it.

It struck me that this would be the ideal place to sit and look at my garden, what with the all the plant action going on on the other side. Its also where Little Man’s sand pit picnic table is, so sitting near there seemed sensible. It would also provide me with a nice shaded spot to rest during the summer when I’m pottering around out there, or somewhere to sit and watch Little Man attempt – and more often than not succeed – in wearing his Daddy out. Whilst we have a couple of small deckchairs a bench seemed a more permanent feature, and would also provide us with more outdoor seating when friends and family visit. I spent ages looking at benches online and in local garden centres, and had decided that I wanted a companion seat. A nice two seater bench with integrated table to put a much deserved cup of tea on, or an evening glass of wine. There was a huge choice out there and it was all getting a bit overwhelming to be honest, but luckily for me the team at Garden XL got in touch after reading my gardening feature in association with Brit Mums. Garden XL have a great selection of garden furniture of all types, and it was there I found my perfect companion seat.

The Bracken Outdoors Kent Companion Seat is made from durable hardwood and features two well sized seats and a table which has two shelves. There is a hole in the table to put a parasol in – something I’m now trying to choose – and the seats are angled slightly so you’re facing in to each other, making it a very sociable seat. Daddy and Little Man set to building it whilst I was taking part in the #MMSkyDive last weekend, but thankfully they took some photos and told me all about their experience.
contents of companion seat box and screws and instructionsThe enormous box contained all the pieces of wood needed to make the seat. Daddy was VERY pleased that there were so few pieces as he’d been worried that he would have to fasten every slat on for the table and seats individually. Not ideal when you’re being “helped” by a toddler. As you can see the screws were all provided too, along with Alan keys to fasten them with. The instructions were incredibly simple, with just three steps needed. In fact the instructions were SO easy that Little Man could follow them.

little man building bench

Obviously under careful supervision from Daddy at ALL times.

In no time at all they’d completed the companion seat, and I am thrilled with it. Best to mention that Daddy did fasten the table to the seat incorrectly the first time so they were angled apart, but that’s just him being a bit daft.

completed companion seat from garden xl

Now clearly the seat isn’t going to live in the centre of the grass, but we need to get some paving flags laid before we can put it in its final position. For now it is in fact sat on the garden path. I am pleased to announce that several cups of tea have been enjoyed from the comfort of the bench, and Little Man rather enjoys sitting there to eat his afternoon chocolate biscuits. And being the ingenious boy that he is, he also found a way to utilise both the seat AND the empty box it came it.

car ramp made from cardboard box

Who knew this would make the perfect ramp for his cars? Believe me this is hours of fun, and with a bit of help from me I can still sit down and enjoy a cup of tea whilst he’s playing.

You can find this gorgeous companion seat on the Garden XL website now, along with lots of other items of garden furniture as well as barbecues, wellington boots, and other products for outdoor life. You can also find them on Twitter @GardenXL.

Fun In The Pool This Summer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 19-07-2013

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Little Man loves to go swimming. Every Sunday morning he and Daddy go to the pool in our village for Toddler Splash, which is a one hour session where parents and toddlers can swim. Its not a swimming lesson, just a open session where the pool is nice and shallow and there’s no lanes, just lots of fun toys and floats. Whilst Little Man can’t actually swim yet he loves the water, whether being in it or occasionally being dunked underneath it. He just wears swimming shorts – and a swim nappy of course – but we can’t seem to get him to wear armbands. I’ve wondered about floats or something like that, so maybe I’ll take a look at swimming aids from Zoggs. There’s quite a selection available on their website as well as the foyer of our local pool.

When he’s a bit bigger and a more confident swimmer I might look at other “toys” he can use in the pool. I really like the look of the Zoggs Dive Sticks. They look great for practicing swimming under water and would make a great game for Little Man and some of his friends. I think the friendly looking faces and bright colours will make them very appealing, and they look to be a great size for little hands to grabs under the water.

What games do you play with your children in the swimming pool?

Foodie: #Schwartz2in1 Range

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie | Posted on 08-07-2013

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In our house weekday meal times have to provide quick and easy food that’s also nutritious and tasty. When you’re looking after a two year old all day you don’t have much time to create a meal from scratch, as much as I’d like to, so those meals are usually saved for the weekend. Monday to Friday I rely on my range of dishes that I know everyone will enjoy and that wont take an age to cook. After a while though the same old meals get a bit tedious, so I do like to keep my eyes open for new things to try. The Schwartz 2 in 1 range looks ideal for me and my family.

We were sent the Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping to try, as well as the Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes which we haven’t got around to testing yet. The pasta and cheesy crumb topping mix sounded an ideal midweek meal for my busy family. The packet had two sections to it – one was sauce for in the pasta bake, and the other a cheese and herb topping to sprinkle over the bake before grilling. What I liked about the mix was the simplicity with which is was made and that the ingredients were all likely to be found in your kitchen at home without having to go and get anything fancy or unusual. Here’s what I needed to make my dish:

Ingredients for Schwartz 2 in 1 pasta bake recipe

As you can see it was all items which you’d find normally in my house: pasta, chopped tomatoes, a pepper, some cheese, chicken breasts and some water, as well as the Schwartz packet mix.

It took about 20 minutes to put the recipe together following the simple instructions. It smelt delicious whilst making it so I was really looking forward to trying it out once it was ready. After putting the pasta bake together it was just a case of sprinkling the cheesy crumb topping over it along with some grated cheese and popping it under the grill for a few minutes. In the end it looked like this:

#Schwartz2in1 Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Cheesy Crumb Topping

The packet mix made a generous amount, so there was enough to feed myself, my husband and Little Man, and have a small amount leftover for another time. On the whole I enjoyed the dish. It was really tasty and looked great. The herb flavour was a little bit too strong for my husband and Little Man who weren’t too keen on it at all, but I thought it was delicious.

Sadly I doubt we’ll be buying this particular 2 in 1 mix again, but I have high hopes for the Roast Chicken and Crispy Potatoes packet which we’ll be trying out soon.

“This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz. Find out more about the new 2in1 mixes here

Review: Argos Outdoor Toys

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 03-05-2013

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Hurrah!! Sunny weather!! At last!! I’ve been waiting to write this review until the weather was decent enough. Promoting outdoor toys during snow, rain and ice seemed slightly foolish! So here we go.

Little Man has been spending far too much time indoors recently, what with it being so cold and wet all the time. I’m afraid I’m not one of those parents that puts waterproofs and wellies on and goes out in all conditions. I’d much rather wait for dry weather, and ideally warmth too. I want to make sure he spends as much of the summer outside in the garden, either at home or when he visits his grandparents, so I was thrilled when Argos got in touch asking if I’d like to review some of their outdoor items. We chose 2 – one for at home, and one for at his grandparents, where the garden is considerably bigger.

First up was the Plum Products Sand & Picnic Table. Little Man loves to play in sand and we wanted to get him a sandpit this summer. This one from Plum seemed ideal, as it has a removable top. It can be used as a sandpit, but with the top on its a normal picnic table for eating at, or doing colouring or playing outside. I liked the fact that Little Man can sit at it to play, though he does tend to stand next to it anyway. It was pretty easy to build, and Little Man enjoyed helping Daddy. Do excuse the hats and coats in these photos – it wasn’t quite as warm as it is now when I made Daddy build this!
Now Grandma and Grandad have an altogether bigger garden. Its a big like a field really. Little Man already has a wooden playhouse down there along with a sand and water table and a picnic table – we’re down there at least once a week so its not totally insane for them to have all this! With so much space available it seemed logical to add on more large outdoor toy into the mix.

Also from Plum Products this is an 8 foot trampoline with enclosure. The ladder you can see was part of an extra accessories kit which Grandad bought that included a cover for when Little Man isn’t visiting. Now the trampoline was a little trickier to build, but I suspect the cold weather didn’t help. The instructions were easy for Daddy and Grandad to follow but as you can imagine fitting the surface of the trampoline became easier as they got the knack. The enclosure was very important for me as theoretically Little Man is too small for this trampoline at the moment at just 2 and a half. However he has been using it under close adult supervision for over a month now and he’s absolutely fine in there. He bounces a little bit, but more often then not he just runs laps and then throws himself down. We’ve put a few plastic balls in there with him for more fun. If we are outdoors at his grandparents house we can pretty much just pop him in there, zip up the entrance and leave him to it. Hours of fun, and a bit of rare peace for his parents.

These two items and many more great outdoor toys are available now from Argos, including a brilliant range of bouncy castles, playhouses, and sports toys. Plus if you shop at Argos at the moment you get a £10 voucher if you spend £100 and a £5 voucher if you spend £50. A great time to get down there today and get some outdoor toys for the lovely Bank Holiday weekend ahead.

Review: New From Munchkin

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 18-03-2013

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Munchkin is a brand I’ve featured a few times on my website. They produce consistently quality products, and these two additions to their range are no exception.

Tug Along Boat
I seem to review a lot of bath toys, but its a great fun time of day, and in our house its Daddy’s job and a lovely opportunity for father son bonding. Daddy has been saying for a while that Little Man needed a boat for the bath, something I’m surprised in hindsight that we’ve got this far without. When Munchkin offered us this Tug Along Boat to review I couldn’t say no.
This brightly coloured boat comes with a red raft which attaches to the back or can be used independently. The boat itself has holes in the top to collect water which can then be poured out through the wheel at the front. The green handle is a great size for both children and adults alike so everyone can get involved with the water play. Beneath the handle you can see through to where the water collects and its made to look like a glass bottomed boat, giving a great view of some fish. The boat comes with two water squirting crew members – a penguin and a seal – who man the craft and also add an extra fun dimension. Little Man loves playing with this boat at bath time. He steers it around the bath with the handle and pours lots of water out past the wheel. Water squirters are always popular so these are much loved too – just remember to take cover if you’re in the bathroom with him!!

Click Lock Bento Mealtime Set
This mini version of a Bento Box is incredibly cute and functional. We like to go on picnics when the weather allows or if we’re out at a zoo or theme park, and Little Man will be heading off to preschool in September (Eeek!) so some kind of lunch box was going to be needed. This is perfect.
The box comes with three compartments – a main area for sandwiches or something savoury, and then two smaller compartments for fruit, vegetables or even yogurt. Each compartment has its own lid, and the two smallest ones have removable inserts for easy cleaning. Fitted into the main lid are a toddler sized fork and spoon, and there is a space on the base to write your child’s name. This Bento box is part of the popular Click Lock range, so once you hear the click upon securing the lid, you know its fastened and nothing will be escaping. I am a big fan of this and can see it getting lots of use for years to come – I just wish they did one in my size!!

You can find these, and the rest of the Munchkin range online.

 

Review: Photo Cufflinks From Ring Jewellery, Brighton

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 27-12-2012

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Little Man was very sneaky this Christmas, and managed to get Daddy a rather special gift. Okay so he had a little help from Mummy, but Daddy was very impressed with what he got to unwrap on Christmas morning. The wonderful Ring Jewellery in Brighton sent Daddy some new cufflinks to wear to work. But they weren’t any cufflinks. They were very special and very personal cufflinks.

This is one of Daddy’s favourite pictures of Little Man, which was taken on a recent holiday to the New Forest we all took in September.

It was a totally impromptu shot, but I think Little Man looks great and when Ring Jewellery contacted us, it became the ideal photo for them to use to make a very special gift for Daddy this Christmas. Here’s the finished cufflinks.

You simply provide Ring Jewellery with your image and decide whether you want the cufflinks to be round or square, or silver or gold. We went for a round silver style and I think you’ll agree they look brilliant.

Now Daddy isn’t the only person with his own set of personal cufflinks. Celebrity clients include Mark Ronson, Theo Walcott and Graham Norton, so he’s in pretty good company.

If you live in the Brighton area head into their shop to find out more about their bespoke pieces, or check out their website. You can also find them on Twitter @RingJewellers.

Product Review: Acrylic Photo Block from Bags Of Love

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 06-08-2012

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If you’re anything like me your mobile phone is probably full of photos of your children. I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t taken a photo of Little Man – more often than not in a comedy sleep pose – since he was born. Most of them are for my own amusement and not good enough to be shown around, but once in a while you get a really great shot that you want the world to see. If you’re looking to display a photo that brings back great memories, or maybe a shot of you children gettting into the Olympic spirit this summer, you’d do well to check out the beautiful gifts from Bags Of Love. Here’s what they did for me.

I took this photo on my mobile phone a couple of weeks ago. We were at the garden centre enjoying tea and cake in the cafe. Little Man was – as usual – sat on Daddy’s knee, so I took a photo. This photo:

Now I love this photo. Little Man is both looking at the camera AND smiling which is rare, and most importantly so is Daddy. I wanted to put a copy of this on display, but I was looking for something a little different than a simple photo in a frame. Bags Of Love transformed it into an Acrylic Photo Block in less than 24 hours, and it now looks like this:

Their photo blocks come in three sizes – A5, A6 and A7 – and are self standing and more importantly unbreakable. If I put a photo in a frame on display on a shelf in our house Little Man would be over there straight away picking it up, carrying it around and inevitably dropping it. This is much sturdier and safe for him to pick up and hold. The photo was printed on the back on the acrylic block and the depth of the block makes the image brighter and clearer, and now has pride of place on my kitchen window sill. Little Man loves it, and gives it a little wave whenever he wanders into the kitchen.

Acrylic Photo Blocks are just one of the great range of photo gifts available from Bags Of Love. Head over there now to check out their great selection, perfect for gifts or just to preserve that special photo.