Friday, 18 April 2014

Keep Calm and Party - Ella is 18!

It seems like only yesterday that I brought my beautiful baby girl home from hospital, and now she's officially becoming an adult on the event of her eighteenth birthday next week.  Parenting a teenager can be a challenge in many ways, but it's a challenge I embrace wholeheartedly.  I love having a grown-up daughter who is great company, fun to be around and whose achievements fill me with pride!

Throwing a little party for Ella and her friends, as part of the week long celebrations for her birthday, has been helped along after receiving some brilliant partyware from The Partyware Shop.  The Keep Calm range has real popular appeal with its simple, yet eye catching design featuring the iconic phraseology. 

With plates, bowls, napkins, cups, ice cream tubs, cake cases and cake toppers, the range is perfect for teenagers and adults alike.  The bold colours make a strong statement and will make the party table look bright and colourful.

the partyware shop

We received from the Keep Calm and Party range:

Paper Cups £2.49 for 8
Paper Bowls £2.75 for 8
Paper Plates £2.75 for 8
Lunch Napkins £2.75 for 20
Treat Tubs £2.99 for 8
Cupcake Cases £3.99 for 100
Cupcake Picks £2.49 for 20

Yesterday, some of Ella's friends came over to have a lunchtime party and to watch a movie together.  

18th birthday

The meal plan consisted of veggie burgers with potato shapes, salad, carrot sticks, hummus, fruit, jellies, sweets and cupcakes.  I kept it simple but the lovely co-ordinating partyware made the table look great and elevated the food into something quite special.

the partyware shop

I particularly liked the cupcake cases and picks.  I made some Oreo and some Chocolate Truffle and Berry cupcakes in the cases, decorating some of them with a Keep Calm and Eat Cake pick!  The bowls were perfect for serving up salad, sweets and grapes in as well as using them for eating from.  The treat tubs were used to serve the jelly.

The plates, tubs and bowls were very sturdy and excellent quality, so didn't flop or bend when piled with food. The cups were also very good and were re-used several times.  The napkins were strong enough to deal with minor spills and didn't disintegrate when wet.

Overall, I think the range represents excellent value for money as it is such good quality, is quite unique and looks great.  It is nice to find a design that suits an older child's party (although I don't think Ella would have minded being served her party food up on the new Disney Frozen Deluxe Party Pack which is just £18.99 and contains everything for a party of 8 children).

Frozen birthday party

For a limited time, The Partyware Shop is offering free UK postage and packing on orders (usually £3.95) so it's a perfect time to buy.

Find out more and discover the full range of paper partyware, china and glass serveware and party accessories, games and decorations at

More Sky Entertainment from TalkTalk

TalkTalk have seven Sky channels coming to TalkTalk Plus TV: Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Sports News, Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Sky Arts 1 and Sky Arts 2, which are all in addition to the 70 Freeview channels currently available to TalkTalk's Plus TV customers. The new channels will bring TalkTalk homes some of the very best entertainment shows from Sky, including Modern Family, Elementary, The Smoke and Bones, as well as a hundred hours of on demand shows each month.  

The Sky Movies Boost is available to buy for two months at half price until 23rd April for existing customers, offering 11 Sky Movies channels and on demand films for just £7.50 a month. There are some great films coming to Sky Movies this month including The Lone Ranger, Trance, Man of Steel and Grown Ups 2.  You can catch a whole host of superhero films on the dedicated Superhero channel this month too!  Perfect for the whole family to enjoy this Easter.

Find out more about the TalkTalk services for TV, Broadband, home phone and mobile plus details of their special offers at

Proud TalkTalk Family Blogger

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

What Fred Said This Time!

what kids say

Freddy has very firm ideas when it comes to his education as this little conversation that he had with his Nana shows:

What did you do at school today?
I played.
Did you do anything else.
Yes but there was something I couldn't do.
What couldn't you do?

Freddy's view on the dawn of man:

All the cars and people used to be statues and God brought everything to life.  He made statue people into real life people and gave us real hair instead of statue hair.

I loved Freddy's attempt at pronouncing these two American holiday destinations:
Flooridor and Clarriflornia
They sound much nicer than plain old Florida and California.

Freddy is a bit of a Harry Potter fan:

I love Harry Potter because he does awesome spells to set things on fire called Incendio and hang people upside down called Levicorpus and blast things called Stupify and make people forget things called....I've forgotten what that one's called.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Spring into Summer with Next #NextKids

I am always delighted to attend the Next events which showcase kids' clothes for the following season. Today, myself, Ella, Kizzy and Freddy headed to Next's HQ in Leicester for a sneak peek at their new ranges of kids'clothes and accessories for Summer.  Unfortunately, due to the M1 being closed and a detour that saw us cover just 5 miles in an hour, we arrived horribly late.  However, we were made to feel very welcome as we were shown to the showroom to admire the latest looks.

I love Next clothes for Freddy so I really enjoyed looking at all the new styles that will be available for him this year. There are some excellent T-shirt designs about to hit the stores, featuring superheroes such as Superman, Batman and the Avengers, vintage Star Wars, The Lego Movie, Ron Burgundy, Angry Birds, bands and Plants vs Zombies (our personal favourite on account of our PvZ addiction!)  The forthcoming World Cup has inspired a range of T-shirts based on the football strips of different teams from across the world, which are really lovely.  It's nice to have a football shirt that is made from soft cotton rather than that shiny material that they are usually made from. The World Cup has also influenced some other designs including one which shows Spiderman in goal, saving the ball with his net! There are also some more traditional England t-shirts and sports' clothes, so little ones can support our team as they compete in Brazil this summer.

summer, boys clothes, NEXT

I was very impressed with the all-in-one swim suits featuring fun character costumes, transforming the wearer into a little Superman or swashbuckling pirate.  Great fun for the beach!

The kids loved browsing and picking out things they liked.  Kizzy loved the delicate floral prints and sunglasses prints in the girls' section and was pleased to see the sizes go up big enough for her to wear!  She loved the collared playsuit, perfect for fun in the sun.

summer, kids clothes, NEXT

There were some fabulous accessories and shoes for both boys and girls which will go perfectly with the outfits, from some gorgeous sparkly pumps for little girls to cool trainers for the lads.  

Next's summer lines have a style to suit every child:  preppy, smart, sporty, funky, fun loving or casual.

NEXT, summer clothes, kids

There were some lovely little boys' suit jackets, shirts and waistcoats which would be perfect for a summer wedding or special occasion, at high street prices.  A great way to save a few pounds if you have a formal function to attend with your little one this year.

boys suits, boys formalwear

After spending some time perusing the new looks from Next, we were treated to a lovely lunch at Cini.  The little ones got to make their own pizzas in the kitchens which were cooked freshly for them. Freddy and Kizzy tucked into their pizzas while Ella and I enjoyed spinach ravioli.

pizza, Italian restaurant

With some fab company and some goodies for the kids thrown in the mix, we had a  lovely time.  Thank you to Next for another lovely #NextKids event!


Saturday, 12 April 2014

Green Science Dynamo Torch Review

We were sent a 4M Green Science Dynamo Torch kit to try out from Great Gizmos.  It contains everything needed to make a working, wind-up torch and teaches children about electrical energy in the process.  It's high voltage inspiration and fun!

kids science

Comprising of a toy motor, LED lamp, gears and torch casing, cover and accessories, children aged 8 and over can create their own torch.  In doing so, they will learn how to follow instructions, improve their dexterity and gain an understanding of basic electronics.

kids science

The clear instruction sheet gives an assembly diagram and step by step guide for making the torch.  Kizzy's first look at the instructions left her a bit confused, but with Dad on hand she soon got stuck in.  Adult supervision is probably advisable unless you have an electronics whizz for a child.

science experiment, electronics

Once her Dad had pointed her in the right direction, she was able to affix the LED to the casing, install the gears, attach the handle and connect the wires to the motor.  You need a small cross head screwdriver to assemble the torch using little screws, which can prove a bit fiddly for a child.  Again, Dad was on hand to assist Kizzy.

electronics for kids

Once it is assembled, the handle can be turned which converts hand motion into electrical energy which lights up the green bulb.  Kizzy was very impressed that she had made the torch light up.

kinetic energy, light, electricity

The casing can be attached to a plastic bottle to make a unique torch from your favourite pop bottle.  A great use of recycling!  The torch makes a practical and functional emergency light for kids to use in the dark, powered by hand motion.  

electronics, torch

The instructions include fun facts about elecricity.  It explains how electric generators work and how the physical power of  winding the handle converts kinetic energy to electrical energy.  Making electricity in this way is a form of renewable energy which gives off no pollution, opening up children's minds to the concept of greener, environmentally friendly energy sources.


Freddy was very interested in the finished product and was very intrigued at how the torch worked.  That is the beauty of these children's science kits.  Kids learn so much from playing, and even from a young age this can spark a real love of science.

The Dynamo Torch set retails at £11.95.
Find out more at:

Flora's Funspiration Activity Guide for Kids

We all sometimes need a bit of inspiration when it comes to coming up with new, fun ideas for things for the kids to do.  With the Easter holidays here and the prospect of at least a few rainy days, I know I'll be trying to come up with lots of activities to keep my little ones busy.  So I was delighted to find that Flora Buttery have produced their Funspiration Activity Guide filled with simple and fun ideas for keeping children entertained.

With fifteen activities, each needing no more than five things and taking fifteen minutes to prepare, it's an essential guide for busy parents.  Featuring ideas such as cupcake baking to holding a fashion show to launching a rocket, there is so much inspiration for activities that there will never be a dull moment this Easter!

Written by Tanith Carey, award winning journalist and parenting author, the guide is perfect for when you want to spend some quality time with the kids, trying something new. There are also things that the older kids can do independently to keep them busy. Activities can be adapted for doing indoors or outdoors, so if it brightens up you can take it outside. Everything can be adapted to the age and ability of the children.

Mumsnet have challenged me to try out one of the activities with Kizzy and Freddy.

We loved a lot of the activities, especially the recipes and crafts, but the idea of the Kids on the Catwalk challenge really caught their imagination. All you need is a selection of clothing, accessories, some music and a space for the kids to strut their stuff!

Flora Funspiration

The kids decided on the theme of Summer Wear and Kizzy decided to try her hand at upcycling some old clothes, as suggested in the activity guide as something for older kids to try.  She had a pair of knee length denim shorts and a t-shirt that she she wanted to upcycle into something funky and fresh for the fashion show.

Flora funspiration guide
Take some old clothing that you want to upcycle.

Flora funspiration guide
Mark out where you want to cut down the item.

Flora funspiration guide
Carefully cut the clothing, saving the cut off pieces to use for scrunchies, wristbands etc.

Kizzy got creative and made a funky new outfit consisting of a tie-up crop top with denim sleeves, cut down shorts, hair scrunchies and wrist band! Adding a pair of shades, her outfit was complete.

Flora funspiration guide

Freddy enjoyed the accessories and posed in sunglasses and hats, harnessing his inner Romeo Beckham!! He loved delving into the pile of scarves, hats and glasses to change his look.

Flora funspiration guide

We set up a space to make a runway and put out chairs for the audience.  We played some summer tunes and the children paraded on the catwalk, with walks that they had choreographed themselves.

Flora funspiration guide

It was such a simple activity for the children to enjoy, extended to include the upcycling of the clothing, which Kizzy really enjoyed doing.  It's such a confidence boost for children to get up and perform.  Afterwards, we did a modelling session with me as the photographer snapping some lovely photos of Kizzy in her summer outfit.

Flora Funspiration Guide

We will definitely be trying out some more of the activities - next on the list is to 'Put on a Puppet Show' using odd socks to make the puppets.  I have loads of odd socks at the bottom of the airing basket that will lend themselves perfectly to becoming sock puppets!  I particularly enjoy the activities that incorporate a craft activity followed by a performance, because it keeps the kids busy, unleashes their creativity and I get to enjoy the show afterwards!

The Funspiration Activity Guide from Flora is completely free to download from the Mumsnet website:

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity”.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Fun at Little Fun Fest

Little Fun Fest was held this year on April 5th and 6th at Red House Farm.  It is a festival aimed at families with children under 10, where little ones can see stars from the telly, take part in workshops, enjoy funfair rides and watch exciting fun filled shows.  We were lucky enough to attend as VIPs and in spite of the rainy weather we had a fabulous time.  The venue itself is a lovely find, with a play area, courtyard, tea rooms and shop set in the heart of the Dunham Massey countryside.  When we first arrived we treated ourselves to a vegetarian cooked breakfast to fortify us for the day ahead!  RHF make their own tomato sauce which is incredible!  We will certainly be visiting there again soon when we're en route to Manchester to sample some more of the tea room offerings.

Clad in our raincoats and sensible footwear, we made our way to the field which housed the Big Top.  Freddy was keen to head straight for the fun fair rides and enjoyed trying out everything on offer.  He loved the swing ride, the pirate ship and the plane ride.  With all the rides being included in the price of the ticket, he could ride as often as he liked!

Little Fun FestLittle Fun Fest

Little Fun Fest

There were also go-carts, a climbing wall and pedal boats for the little ones.  Freddy loved the boats!

Little Fun Fest

He was able to learn some circus skills too.  He tried his hand at tightrope walking, stilt walking and plate spinning and had a lot of fun assisted by his big sisters.

Little Fun Fest

Little Fun Fest

There was a programme of shows running throughout the day at the Big Top and also at the Fun Barn.  Both being undercover meant the weather didn't spoil the fun.  The Big Top hosted shows from stars such as Dr Ranj and Alex Winters, alongside interactive music and dance activities from Baby Ballet, Mr Yipadee and Dene Michael from Black Lace fame  plus many more fun acts.  

Little Fun Fest

There were opportunities to meet the stars of the show and have photos taken with them.  My girls were particularly excited about meeting the everso handsome Dr Ranj!

Little Fun Fest

 They enjoyed catching up with very funny and very lovable Alex Winters too!

Little Fun Fest

 The lovely Cat Sandion from CBeebies was also there telling stories and chatting to the kids.  Fred was very happy that she said hello to him while he was playing in the play area!

Freddy loved the Starkidz Disney princesses in the Fun Barn who kept the crowds entertained all day.  He loved Anna and Elsa from Frozen.

Little Fun Fest

He also loved meeting Flynn Rider and Rapunzel from Tangled, who let him hold Pascal for the photo!  He was delighted to get a cuddle from all the lovely ladies and a handshake from Flynn!  We also saw Spiderman, the Easter Bunny, Hello Kitty, a Despicable Me Minion and the Mad Hatter wandering around.  It is so magical for children to have these experiences, immersing themselves in the excitement of the book, films and TV characters that they love.

Little Fun Fest

The Hogwart's Magic School let little ones plant magic beans and make wands under the guidance of Harry and his friends.  Kids also got to enjoy regular shows and take part in some magic!  The Ford Anglia car,  just like the one in the films, was there to look at and there were plenty of photo opportunities with the lookalike stars of the show.  My girls had a snap with Harry!

Little Fun Fest

There was some brilliant piratey fun to be had in the Fun Barn.  Freddy joined in with some singing and dancing with Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, along with Alex and Mr Yipadee.  It was high energy fun and the kids all loved getting up and doing the actions to the songs.  There were craft activities for the children to take part, storytimes and puppet shows too.

Little Fun Fest

 Red House Farm has a great play area with climbing frames, swings, playhouses and a giant sandpit.  The sandpit was Freddy's favourite thing and he spent a long time playing in it towards the end of the day while singing Let It Go from Frozen.  RHF is a great venue choice for a kids' festival.


Although we weren't blessed with sunshine, instead getting grey skies and rain, lots of the activities were undercover and with appropriate clothing we could enjoy most activities. The fields got very muddy, but the organisers ensured the safety of everyone attending by laying down straw to walk on.

Little Fun Fest

There were lots of places to eat with food ranging from burgers, chips, pizzas, wraps to crepes available on site.  Lots of veggie options were available, which is always good to see. The Little Fun Fest sweet shop had some sweet treats, and the children were able to take part in a Easter treasure hunt to find letters around the festival to make up a word.  Once they had that word they were rewarded with a bag of mini Easter eggs as a prize! 

I love the idea of having a festival for kids, allowing them to experience the fun of live entertainment and activities designed just for them.  Seeing and meeting Alex, Dr Ranj and Cat is a wonderful opportunity for CBeebies fans. They are all so lovely with the kids.  It really is a great day out for Little Funsters...even when it rains!


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