Num Noms Collectables {Review}

If your kids are anything like mine, they love little figurines, and will happily bankrupt you on all the collectables in the world. New to the small world collectables market recently is Num Noms, a collection of dessert themed stack’em style toys that kids are sure to love – I know my 4 & 6 year olds had them out the packet before I could properly photograph them!Num Noms

We were sent the series one Num Noms in both a deluxe* and starter* kit.

The deluxe Num Noms set has 6 Nums, 2 motorised Noms, a spoon, a cupcake lines and a collector’s menu.Num Noms

The beauty of these Num Noms and what makes them different from for example Shopkins is that they can be mixed and matched, so that you can put for example stack Pinkie Lemonade onto Caramelly Go-Go and pop them into the cone. There are probably thousands of combinations. There are also some motorised Noms, which are like little vibrating balls of energy. They make an incredible racket on a wooden floor for something so small! The kids love it. I’m not so sure about the downstairs neighbours though!

Ridiculously cute #numnom races #review #bloggerlife

A video posted by Luschka (@luschkavo) on

Read more: Num Noms Collectables {Review}

New: Go Jetters Magazine {Review}

Today is launch day for the new Go Jetters Magazine from Immediate Media. We were sent a pre-release of the magazine so that we could tell you about it, which you can find out more about in the video below… but for those who like the highlights, read on!

Go JettersGo Jetters is a magazine for children around 4 years old. If you haven’t seen the Cbeebies show, Go Jetters are aliens who visit different landmarks in different countries, learning about them as they go.

In the first issue the chosen landmark is The Eiffel Tower – on the first page you meet the Go Jetters – then a story where they set course for Paris with a few stops along the way (or not), like Niagara Falls and so on. There’s everything you expect from a children’s magazine: sticker pages, colouring, spot the difference, matching activities and more.Read more: New: Go Jetters Magazine {Review}

Shopping With Trolley Bags {Review}

I love little things that make life easier. In the years before paid – for shopping bags, we’d always have a bag of bags in the kitchen, to be used for clearing out the car, taking out small bits of rubbish, or for general carrying purposes. Of course now, whenever I take a bag out of the bag of bags, I think “eek! that’s a 5p bag / 10p bag! should I really be using it for this!

I’ve tried various reusable shopping bags, but the Trolley Bags we’ve been trying recently are really fab, and they tick all the boxes, especially for larger families who do bigger shopping trips.

Trolley Bags Read more: Shopping With Trolley Bags {Review}

Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag {Review}

Summer is coming! As I write this, the sun is shining brightly, though there’s still a chill in the air. Soon though, soon, the weather will be balmy – or as balmy as it gets here in the UK – and we’ll be heading out to sleep under canvas. Read on to find out why the Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag is a must-have for young campers this summer.

The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag for kids comes in either a panda or dragon design. We received the panda free in exchange for our review, and if you watch this video, you’ll see just how much the children loved it.

[youtube 52PmIf5HbCQ]Read more: Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag {Review}

Plasticine Softeez {Review}

Like most children, mine developed an early love affair with playdoh. Like most parents, I did not. It was a substance that came into our house proudly as a set of single colours, but left it shamefacedly, hidden in a bin, an odd brown colour. Eventually I gave up the pretence of perfect parenthood, and banned it.

But children… children really have that whole ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ thing down, don’t they? A few weeks ago Ameli called me over to show me what she’d been crafting, and she had turned my entire brand new pack of blu-tack into a sad, monochrome blue fish tank with remarkable sea creatures inside a punch bowl! So I promised her some plasticine… one day.

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Well, one day came sooner than I expected because we were sent not one, but three two of Plasticine Softeez to review just days after the sad fish bowl experience.

You can watch the whole unboxing and the fun they had with it on the video here, but for the highlights, read on!

[youtube wZ02F-OFLoY]

Read more: Plasticine Softeez {Review}

Cleaning, Chores & The Hetty Cleaning Trolley

The summer holidays are over, and even families not going back to school, are heading back to our ‘term time’ routines. Or at least this one is! We might not have a daily school run, but many of our extracurricular activities and clubs run on a term-time timetable, so it forces us into that kind of schedule. That means that things like cleaning and domestic activities need to fall into a routine too, to make sure that they are actually done.

81Mb0U1jK1L._SL1500_ 81HFb9AouXL._SL1500_Another thing I like to do at this time of year is a bit of de-cluttering, clearing out, packing away of things that we won’t be using over the winter months. Our house is small, and we don’t have a private garden, so it’s essential to my mental well being that we have space around us.

Of course, with a five and a three year old, I don’t feel the need to do every little thing myself, and getting them involved in household ‘chores’ is important – as is cleaning up after themselves.

While the children really can use general house hold cleaning equipment – a broom, a brush and shovel, or a mop or duster – when we were sent the Casdon Hetty Cleaning trolley for review, I was quite pleased that they took a sense of ownership over their tasks.

They certainly view them as ‘real’ cleaning equipment. Recently they were sitting eating crackers on the sofa – which they aren’t allowed to do, because of course, the crackers tipped over and ended up down the back of the cushions! I helped them take the cushions off, and they had to clean up the mess themselves, so off they trotted to their cleaning trolley, and grabbed the brush and shovel for the sofa and the broom for the floor.

The Casdon Hetty Cleaning trolley comes with a brush, shovel, broom, mop, and a spray bottle, all with specific hanging space within the trolley. The trolley stands up on it’s own, and is is wheeled, so small people can move it around.  The mop has a slightly longer handle than the broom, and comes with a wipe for washing the floor. (We’ve found wet wipes fit in well, and since they are wet they do provide actual cleaning ability.)Casdon

The Casdon Hetty Cleaning Trolley comes with stickers to decorate your equipment, but aside from that it’s all pretty quick and easy to put together. The kids helped their dad and they quickly built all the parts.

The only problem I have with this trolley set is a pretty obvious one: it is painfully pink, and there’s really no need for that. The “boy” version called Henry is red. Much nicer!

All in all for the RRP of £15 (At the time of writing it’s £10.99 on Amazon*) it’s pretty good value, and makes a nice addition to the play kitchen. We used this printable chore chart from Tinyme to make up our own chores, which the kids can do with their cleaning trolley, which helps me a little around the house, but more importantly, gets them involved with the business of a hygienic lifestyle from a young age – which is as important as learning to be a doctor or scientist or whatever other ambition they may have for their future.

New! Dora & Friends Range of Toys

You know when you have one of those days where you just can’t wait for bed time to come? Yeah, I have those too. A couple of weeks ago we were having one of those when the postman  rang the doorbell. He had a large parcel for us and we were excited to open it!

Inside we found the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment, and the whole tone of the day changed! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy toys every time you have a rough day – that would be terrible, actually – but in this instance it was perfect!

It looks like Dora is having a makeover on Nickelodeon as new friends are being introduced – I’ve only ever seen the episodes with Dora and Boots and Backpack, but in these new episodes, Dora’s friendship group has expanded to include some other girls.

One of these is Alana, and in our big box of Dora fun, we received the new 8″ Dora doll and the new Alana doll. We also received two different versions of Dora’s well-known charm bracelet, and a mobile phone.

BHT51-nickelodeon-dora-and-friends-dora-talk-and-play-smartphone-d-1

This new range of toys from Fisher-Price launches today around the UK and includes 5 different ‘friends’ dolls. These dolls are actually quite beautiful. They have those weird big eyes that look really creepy on some dolls, but because of the oversized heads, they seem to fit really nicely here.

Despite the big eyes and head, they actually look pretty, and not creepy or weird at all. The arms and legs are poseable, which means she can stand or sit or ‘walk’. The ah-ma-zing thing about these dolls, however, is the hair. It is so soft, I honestly thought it might be real hair at first. My daughters have spent hours brushing Dora and Alana’s hair.
Dora and Friends Alana

This series of dolls is a lot more grown up than the pre-school series. I do find that a little bit sad as I don’t want my girls to grow up in the same ways just yet, but it would definitely make Dora appeal to a wider age range in general. While the girls are dressed like characters from the new series, they just look like little girls dressed up for an adventure.

Each doll comes with a charm which can be interchanged and added to the Magic Charms Bracelet. I’m not crazy about the design of these as the joint for connecting the charm to the bracelet is underneath each charm meaning they stand up perpendicular to the arm, making them look easy to knock off and subsequently lose. That said, we haven’t actually lost any yet, so maybe they are sturdier than they look.

Each doll also comes with removable clothes and shoes. This is great for normal kids. For mine it means we have two naked dolls roaming around the house, and four missing shoes. This is a flaw in my children though, not of the dolls.

At £10.99 RRP I think the Dora and Friends dolls are really good value for money. They are quite beautiful.

Dora and Friends CharmsThe Magic Charms Bracelet (£9.99) consists of a chain link plastic bracelet, with 5 charms containing the girls’ pictures, almost like lockets without the cover bit. In between those are the special adventure charms that are like the ones on the show. There’s a backpack, star, horse and loads of other things.

The final toy in our box was the Dora Smartphone. My 3 year old loves this and walks around the house having conversations with anyone and everyone on her phone. It’s a ‘touch screen’ phone which plays incoming calls and voicemails from Dora and her friends when pressed. Kids can pretend to take photos and use the Map App with the phone, which looks just like the one from the show.  The phone plays ringtones, bilingual phrases and songs.

Here’s a short video review from YouTube if you’d like to see more:

[youtube goaAVnkdx6I]

We were sent these Dora and Friends toys from Nickelodeon and Fisher-Price to review. Thoughts are our own. 

Brain Factor Picture Quiz Cards For Kids

We were recently sent a ‘book’ or ‘fan’ from the Brain Factor range for review with my 3 year old, Aviya. Brain Factor Picture Quiz Cards are a pack of rectangular cards, fastened together on the bottom left so that the cards open up as a fan. Each page has 3 questions on it, with the answers on the next page – when you reach the end of the fan, flip it over and work your way through again, with new questions.

There are 4 different quiz book style ‘fan’ sets for children aged 3-4, 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7 years old with activities relevant to each age range. We went for the 3-4 age range for our just turned 3 year old, and it seems to be pretty well suited for her age. The ‘categories’ of the questions are either number and pattern games, shape and letter sound recognition, mixed up stories and rhyming words and basic general knowledge. The other ages have different targets.

I am sure that these are useful for learning something cognitive, and perhaps some analytical skills, but I wouldn’t use them specifically as a learning tool – though they claim that they help boost a child’s confidence by developing the key Early Years learning skills (for the 3 -4 year old ones, obviously) but really they’re a bit of fun, a good way to kill a about 15 minutes or so at a time (before she gets distracted) and they are great to have in your handbag for the wait at the dentist, or while you’re on the phone to Child Tax Credits – I have first hand experience here!

Brain Factor

The Brain Factor fans have been adapted for the UK with guidance from a group of teachers, from the French originals which are available in over 25 countries and have sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

They are portable, convenient and educational, and they are different from most other things you’d carry with you to keep children entertained. The fans are designed to encourage children to explore the world around them and learn through play.

Brain Factor Fun

There are about 300 questions on these cards, which means it will take you a while to work your way through them, which probably means you can go through them more than once. Smalls will get to know the answers in time, but by then they’ll be able to move on to the next set, which means for the amount of time a Brain Factor Picture Quiz Fan should last makes it pretty good value for money.

Brain Factor Picture Quiz Fans are available from Amazon*, Waterstones and Blackwells with an RRP of £6.99

If you’d like to see them in action, here’s a little video for you:

[youtube tzMYgDdzJe4]

Getting Crafty With Meadow Kids Mini Stencils

We recently received a Great Gizmos Mini Stencils set from Meadow Kids to review with my 5 and 3 year old girls. While this set is billed as ‘for girls’ which is evident from the over abundance of pink in the packaging, they are suitable for anyone who likes fairies, flowers, butterflies, dresses, crowns, shoes and other frilly and generally ‘girly’ things. stencils

The Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Mini Stencils set comes in a self contained box, which opens up as two drawers. In the drawers are 12 x stencil sheets with over 150 stencil shapes, 20 x sheets of framed paper (A6? If that’s a size), 6 x small sized colouring pencils, 1 x pencil sharpener, and a selection of blank cards and envelopes.

The stencil sheets and paper come in two spiral bound booklets, which is great because the stencil sheets can be left in the book and used that way, or removed and returned as needed – which I did the first few times, then decided they could live quite comfortably in the drawers without my interference!

The stencils are very thin, which initially I thought would see them break really easily, or they’d just be a pain to work with, but I was surprised by how solid they are. They are quite durable.

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls In Action

I also thought the small size of the sheets would make them hard to hold onto while drawing the outlines, but the stencils all have a matt-style finish, which means they grip plain white paper pretty well and don’t slide around the page much.

I like that the kids can use the framed pages for practice or for adding to the envelopes, and obviously the card and envelopes are ideal for getting kids sending ‘letters’ to family and friends, which my two thought was a great plan.

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls Sample A

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls can make an artist out of me yet 😉

If you’re not excited by the pink set, there’s also a ‘for everyone‘ set and a blue set, both of which have over 170 stencil shapes, along with all the other bits. But thefor girls’ set is certainly good for most things girly girls like!

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Memories With PhotoBox Canvases

I love photographs and pictures, and normally when I move into our out of a house, my pictures are the first and the last things to go up or come down. To me, pictures make a home.  Like many families, when I had Ameli, I was still getting maternity pay, and we filled the house with baby photos, but when it came round to Aviya, it’s taken us almost two years to get more than a handful of pictures of her in the house. It’s not that we love her any less, it’s just that we haven’t had the same money to do the same professional photo shoots, and choose our beautiful box framed photos, you  know?

When I was offered a PhotoBox review I grabbed it with both hands because I had really been conscious of the fact that Aviya would be able to notice the lack of baby photos of herself around the house. Which led to the next realisation that I have very few photos of both girls. Together. Both  looking at the camera, or both at least looking in the same direction. I also realised that most of my pictures of them were snaps, really. iPhone pictures while out and about, so a large canvas wasn’t going to work due to the pixelation of the images.

Honestly, the hardest part of the whole process was just choosing a few photographs!

In the end I settled on three canvas prints – one of the girls having fun together, and one that I think reflects their individual characters perfectly:

The Text has been to the pictures. It's not on the canvases.

The Text has been added to the pictures. It’s not on the canvases.

And I paid £7 each for these canvases for the Father’s Day sale, which I was so very pleased with (that ends tonight, by the way 11 June 2014)

They are so beautiful.

Photobox Canvases:

  • Really easy to design
  • Super fast delivery
  • Beautiful quality, even the low quality images

For the two individual pictures I used photos from my ‘real’ camera, but the one of the girls together I actually pulled off Facebook. The quality of that one isn’t great – they did warn me when I uploaded it, but I thought I’d go for it anyway. If you walk past it, or look at it from normal person height, you can’t even see the pixelation, but if you look closely you can, so I guess it’s personal choice. I still love the picture and I’m glad I used it. No one really gets that close to it!

Uploading the images was easy peasy, choose your preferences and pay. The only problem I had with these is the postage cost, but much as I love PhotoBox, that’s always the case and often puts me off buying smaller items. In this sale though, I decided to go for it anyway, and I’m really glad I did.

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