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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: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-09-2013

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Wherever possible I try and buy food in bulk so that I can batch cook it and store it in the freezer for when I have no time to cook. This works great with things like mince which I can make into pasta sauce or cottage pie, or for making large quantities of stews or hot pots with steak, or for soups. I quite often bulk buy things like sausages when they are on offer and portion those up and pop them in the freezer. I had been using rather flimsy freezer bags that you fasten with a knot but they tend to split and leak which makes a bit of a mess. I also sometimes find bags with meat in at the back of the freezer and wonder how long its been in there. Bit like a black hole at times.

When I was offered a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer to review I thought it could well be the answer to my problems. The FoodSaver vacuum packs you food for you – whether dry or wet – and keeps it airtight. It is designed to keep you food fresher for longer – up to 3 years in some cases – so less need for worrying about how long something’s been lurking in your freezer. Its a self contained unit which reduces the likelihood of you losing bits, and despite being fairly large and weighty it fits neatly in my kitchen cupboard so its not out on display all the time.
FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer From Lakeland Website

Now as you can see here the machine looks pretty easy to use. You place your food into a bag, place the opened end inside the sealer, press the sides down, and it sucks the air out, sealing the open end in the process. You get a small supply of bags with the machine, but my favourite feature is the roll you are also sent. Stored in the back of the machine is a 3 metre roll of bags, but it is currently just one long bag. Using the included cutting facility, you can make bags the size you want, simply by sealing one end before popping your food in the other. That way you aren’t wasting a huge bag for something small, and if you want to store something large you can.

It genuinely is very easy to use and we’ve vacuum sealed lots of meat which is now stashed away – labelled – in my freezer. Obviously I can’t really comment on the idea of it staying fresh for 3 years, but anything we’ve eaten that has been frozen in one of these bags has tasted fine. You do end up with some slightly odd shaped parcels in your freezer but they are usually fairly easy to squash in so it isn’t taking up additional space. The replacements bags and rolls are a little pricey – a comment I’ve seen on other reviews I’ve read – but the quality of them is very high and there is no danger of leaks or splits.

Here’s a pack of sausages which we vacuum sealed using the FoodSaver. Like I said, a slightly odd shaped packet, but taking up much less room then in their original packaging and portioned ready for me to just take them out when I want them.

You can also use the FoodSaver to store items in your fridge and even your cupboards. Fresh fruit stored in FoodSaver bags will last up to twice as long as if it was just put straight into the fridge, and cheese can last for up to eight months as opposed to a couple of weeks. If you are a keen baker who makes huge batches of biscuits you can put those in FoodSaver bags too and they will last for up to six weeks!

I’ve only used my FoodSaver for freezing items so far, but I think I’ll be testing out the fruit storage. We get lots of snacking fruit for Little Man – strawberries, blueberries, grapes, that style of thing – and whilst he eats them pretty efficiently things like the strawberries do tend to deteriorate really quickly and we do end up wasting them. I think it would be a good idea to use the FoodSaver on those particularly, to help them last that bit longer.

FoodSavers and their accessories are available to buy from Lakeland, Amazon and Argos, though models do vary from store to store. We were sent the Food Saver V1040-IUK (RRP £59.99) for review.

 

 

Guest Post: Top Tips For Storing Away Your Kiddie Clutter

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 22-09-2013

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Kids can be great to have around – they often bring out your more youthful and fun side. However, they’re also quite messy. Whether it’s toys, clothes, books or shoes, there’s always clutter in a family home.

I know the feeling. I can’t make it from the kitchen to the living room without tripping over a jigsaw puzzle.

If you’re fed up of your adult space looking more like a day care centre, you need to get clever with your storage. There are some fairly simple ways to ensure your kids have everything they need, without it being strewn all over the floor.

Modular shelving

Instead of the usual bookshelf, why not create a modular unit that’s specifically designed for your little one’s bedroom? Whether it’s to hold toys, books or other bits and bobs – it will ensure that everything has a place.

Window seat

Clever storage solutions use the space you already have. I’ve got a gorgeous bay sash window in my living room, so as well as being the perfect place to relax, it also stores anyway anything I don’t want to see. Just lift up the padding for a secret junk hideaway.

School lockers

Upcycling is the next big interior design craze, so why not give their bedroom an edge with some repurposed school lockers. They’ll look really cool, add to the design and mean that they’ve got somewhere to stash their textbooks at the weekend.

Colour-coded bins

While those rectangular plastic boxes are good for storing things away, they’re not particularly attractive. Instead of the usual clear ones, why not find some coloured bins – like the rubber ones for the garden. You’ll be able to use the colours as a way to organise what goes where too.

Living in a house full of messy kids can sometimes be an absolute nightmare, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. To ensure that you don’t lose your marbles the next time you stand on a toy in bare feet – provide your kids with plenty of storage.

Remember, storage doesn’t have to be unattractive. Use your imagination and get creative!

Sources:

 

http://www.news.com.au/realestate/experts/storage-solutions-for-kids8217-clutter/story-fncv4n6s-1226684139001

http://seattletimes.com/html/homesrealestate/2021696686_hrehomework01xml.html

Review: Portable Laundry Bag from Brabantia

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 04-04-2013

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Since becoming a parent – and also a product reviewer – I find myself getting weirdly excited about the strangest things. You’ll all no doubt recall my maddening enthusiasm for a washing line last year, well this year I’m continuing the washing theme by getting a little carried away with a laundry bag. Yes, a LAUNDRY BAG. Clearly I need help.
Its so pretty. *Ahem* Anyway, the team at Brabantia have done it again with this functional yet fun laundry bag. It has a round opening at the top to toss in your laundry. Whats a bit genius about this bag however is that the top folds out so the round opening forms a handle which you can either carry with your hand or wear over your shoulder.
It has a capacity of 55 litres and once full that equates a standard 10 kg load in your washing machine. We are using ours as somewhere to put dirty towels which previously used to fill our existing laundry baskets. Now once this is full I know I have a full load for my washing machine. I can just carry the bag downstairs and load the machine up. So easy and so convenient. What’s more the bag looks nice. Available in a range of colours – Pansy Purple which you see here, Caribbean Blue, Lipstick Red, Lemon Yellow and Grey – the bag will brighten up the corner of any room, or in our case, in the hall upstairs.


As well as be a stylish laundry bag, you could also use it to store your children’s toys in. One of these would look great in their bedroom or play room filled with soft toys and teddy bears. 

 

You can find the full range of Laundry Bags on the Brabantia website.
 

Creating Space and Style with Clever Home Storage

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Information | Posted on 02-11-2012

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The other day I visited a friend who’d recently bought a new home. The flat was lovely – bright with clean white walls making it feel much bigger than a one bedroom apartment had any right to be. When I paid my compliments, my friend raised her eyebrows. “No storage though,” she said, “and I can’t face another trip to IKEA.” This is the war cry I’ve heard time and again (about storage, people’s opinions are mixed about IKEA) – our homes are just not big enough. Whether it’s a one bedroom flat or six bedroom house, how we tackle our storage requirements can really impact our enjoyment of the spaces we live in.

There are ways we can maximise our storage, however:

1. Disguise storage spaces

Obviously we could buy large boxes – crates even – to dump our belongings into, but then the problem of space would be the boxes or crates themselves – we don’t want our storage to be unsightly or become a feature of a room. Good storage should be practically invisible. Looking for unused spaces above and below eye line can help – most extra space will be “out of sight” e.g. full-length hanging storage on the backs of doors, or gaps under sofas or beds. Consider storage you can sit on: such as chests with cushions on top. Beds with built-in drawers are great too, as are kids play tables with storage bins underneath. In wardrobes and storage furniture, look for height with sliding doors to maximise space, and floor to ceiling bookshelves where possible.

2. Look for unused opportunities

There are many areas in your home that might be useful for storing things such as garage’s, attics and under the stairs. Consider the risks, however. For example, most of us have unused attic space but if its difficult to get into, it won’t be much help for heavier items. Basements are also another area, but consider damp and pests that could ruin possessions, especially organic items like books or clothes. The best places for storage are temperature regulated areas, free of rats, mice and insects – on ground level.

(Tip: alcoves and bay windows can be transformed to increase storage spaces too).

3. Maximise space

Much of the space in the upper part of each kitchen unit is completely wasted. Buy dividers, stacking boxes and mini shelves to help use this space better. Clothes rails, hanging shelves, and shoe racks can help in the bedroom too. In your bathroom, consider a mobile unit with pull-out baskets to sit under your sink.

4. Self storage

People often think that a rented storage space has to be room-sized, but options are much more flexible. Smaller wardrobe sized lockers are now available which are great to store smaller amount of items, such as overspill from a room or two. Use off site storage to keep your home uncluttered once you’ve maxed out all logical storage space to increase spaciousness and style.

Drew Davies writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. To help declutter a room, Big Yellow has a range or storage rooms and lockers (wardrobe sized from 9 sq ft). For more information see their website or blog

 

Product Review: Pack Mate Ottoman

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 31-10-2012

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If your lounge is anything like mine its probably hidden somewhere beneath a mountain of children’s toys and their associated “stuff”. Clutter and chaos is normal part of everyday life in our house, but at the end of the day or when people visit, I don’t like my house looking like the local toy shop. The next problem is that I hate house work. I don’t want to spend hours at the end of the day packing toys up, and if people visit at a moments notice I sometimes just don’t have the time. Some storage for children’s toys doesn’t work well in a lounge, especially if you’re trying to keep it somewhere for adults too, but the new Ottomans from Pack Mate are brilliant.

Supplied flat packed but with very simple construction the Faux Leather or Faux Suede Ottoman’s come in three sizes. The smallest is designed to fit at the end of a single bed, but also looks great in the lounge. It holds a lot of toys and books, and also makes a great spare seat. Little Man likes to sit on it whilst he’s watching TV!

You can also get the Ottoman in two bigger sizes, designed to fit at the end of double or king sized beds. If you do want to use the Ottoman somewhere else, I also found it great to use in the corner of my bedroom to store some of my shoes in.

Ottomans are the new addition to the already essential Pack Mate range. Their Vacuum Storage Bags are indispensable when it comes to packing duvets and pillows not in use away somewhere compact and clean. They are also great for packing away outgrown baby and maternity clothes, just in case! Travel Roll Bags are perfect for holidays – you don’t need a vacuum either, you simply fill it up, zip it closed, roll out any air and pop it in your suitcase. Ideal if you tend to try and cram a little too much in your case!

For more details on the Pack Mate range, including stockists, head over to their website. You can also find them on Twitter @Pack_Mate.

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!!

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!!