Tuesday 30 April 2019

Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set *Review*

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When Alfie was about 2 he was bought a wooden kitchen, I thought he would love it and pictured him playing with it as Daddy was cooking,sadly it didn't really happen and he didn't show a great deal of interest in it. However, jump forward to Elarna who is now 4 and it's the most used toy of hers. She is one for role play and her kitchen is an integral part of her imaginative play. When she was kindly sent this lovely Casdon Morphy Richards kitchen play set (RRP £12.99) I knew it was going to be well used. 

This realistic role play set comprises of a red silver collection which includes: 

- A toaster
- A kettle
- A coffee machine 
- Cups and plates
- Some food items
- Cutlery 

First impressions were good, it's all very plasticky but I knew that Elarna wound love it. The coffee maker you can add water to it for it to drip through into the coffee pot, the toaster actually 'toasts' and then pops up and the kettle has a working level gauge indicator so all of the items are very interactive. 

Having the items in red was great for us as it matched the toy kitchen, I'm not aware that it's available in any other colours which is a bit of a shame. I love watching Elarna role play, I can't tell you how many times she filled the coffee machine up and watched it drip into the coffee pot.We had endless 'cuppas'!! 

What did we like about it?

- The cost! For £12.99 this price is fantastic, for what is included and the playability it is excellent value

- The items are robust and can certainly withstands alot of play, they have been outside and dropped on the floor and still as good as new

- I love that these types of toys encourage imagination and independent play, it's wonderful watching little minds develop and how they work with little games of working in a restaurant, being a chef or working in a cafe......so cute 

- It's a good little set for teaching life skills, things like safety and what we use each item for and if things are cooked, served hot/cold, watch out for burning etc

Anything we weren't so keen on?

- Mostly we totally loved it, however the food pieces do seem a little flimsy and pointless, I think a few more little items like milk, tea and coffee etc might have been a nice added touch

- Having a few more colour choices would be good, not all children would like it in red I'm sure

Overall, a fantastic little kitchen set with endless possibilities of story telling and role play. The items are a perfect fit in our wooden kitchen and really do replicate the real things but on a smaller scale,  I wouldn't hesitate to get more from the Casdon range to enhance Elarna's playing. 

Available from leading retailers both in shops and online. Recommended retail price is an affordable £12.99 as mention above, which, in my opinion is a great price for the item. 

Are your children into role play or imaginative play? What is their favourite items to play with?

* Please note we were kindly sent the items free of charge in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

Top Tips for Heating your Home

Ad {collaborative content} I know, I know it seems crazy to be talking about heating your house when we're nearly into May but actually we've had a few chilly nights and mornings which has made it hard to get out of bed! It is however, lovely to see some lighter mornings rather than dark and dreary! My husband won't let me turn the central heating back on though! 

Here are some tips for keeping the house warm and when the weather takes a dip for the worse. 

- Make sure your central heating is working and fully functioning. You may of course need new central heating installation or a new central heating boiler if your current system is not working 

- I always find keeping lots of throws and fleeces around the house is a cosy alternative when the evenings are a bit chilly, I do love a fleecy throw! 

- Check the sealant around your windows, ineffective or broken seals really can make a big difference to the warmth of your house. 

- If you have vents around your windows close them when it is cold, I'm always amazed how much cold air I can feel coming through them when they aren't shut.

Have you got any further tips for keeping your home warm?

Sunday 28 April 2019

Garden Renovations - Tips!

Ad {collaborative content} We....I say we, my husband is in the process of doing a few renovations to our garden. Since we moved into our house 3 years ago he has been itching to sort our grass out which for some reason is lumpy and bumpy with random holes in it. He has worked very hard on certain things within in the garden prior to this such as building a greenhouse (ahhh yes tomatoes aplenty in Summer!), we also have an amazing pizza oven and nice BBQ and seating area now and a lovely flower bed that takes centre stage in Summer when in it's in full bloom. He's worked super hard and at times we did consider some garden maintenance companies to come and advise us but for the moment he is plodding on and has recently just re-turfed one side of our garden and then will do the other side later in the year. So with the weather (hopefully) warming up I'm going to share a few tips with you that myself and my husband have learnt along the way over the last couple of years when it comes to gardening!

- First up, listen to your elders. My husbands in laws are very much into gardening and have a stunning garden that reflects this, we often speak to them and ask for advice over what we should be planting or doing with our garden, they have helped us loads. 

- Before starting any big job within the garden, clear the area you are working in, if this happens to be a large job consider getting some garden clearance quotes to bring in a company to help with this. 

- Consider hiring a rotavator to help with preparing the soil when laying turf, my husband had decided to try and do it by hand but it turned out to be a much bigger job than anticipated and hiring a heavy duty rotavator for the day definitely helped. Getting some garden quotes may help with hiring equipment and similar things like this.

- Accept help! We were lucky to have the in laws on hand when we did the lawn and it was so good as they helped my husband out to ensure that we have a great looking lawn

- Set a budget, even if this means having to do things in a chunks it's better to do this than over spend. It's also helpful to have a timeline in mind of your priorities and the ultimate end game.

- Finally, enjoy your garden! There is nothing nicer than sitting outside on a warm summers day and taking in what your garden has to offer. 

Has anyone else got any further tips?

Friday 26 April 2019

Top Tips when Choosing Windows

Ad {collaborative} Windows, the soul of your home letting the outside in and keeping the inside in! There are so many diverse choices when it comes to choosing windows that are right for your home. For me the bigger the better, I love being able to enjoy our garden and flooding our home with light and keeping a fresh and airy feeling throughout. I work in a room without a window and it's like working in a box, the feeling of coming home and enjoying the outside is a blessing. In this post I have compiled a few tips about how to bring light into your home using windows.

- If purchasing new windows set your budget, make sure you have your window prices in mind. There is a huge variety in costing and it really does depend what you are looking for, discussing with the company that you are dealing with beforehand will enable you to know what you can be looking at.

- Have a reasonable idea what sort of windows you are looking for, are you looking for upvc windows or triple glazed windows or something entirely different?

- Where are you going to have the windows? Are they in the optimal location to maximise the light and make the space worthwhile?

- What sort of locks do the windows have? One huge issue that I have with our current windows is the lack of safety features on them, the kids can literally open them and they go as wide as wide can be, we have had to give them very stern safety talks so they know not to open them all the way. 

- Once the windows are installed, keep them clean! This is a mammoth task in my house as I often have sticky hand prints on the windows but I do try my best to clean them weekly and we have a window cleaner that keeps them looking spick and span from the outside!

- Enjoy your windows, they truly are a way of making the most of your house and garden and are a delightful way of making the illusion of more space and keeping things fresh and bright. 

Has anyone else got any more suggestions on how to make the most of windows? 

Top Tips when Moving House!

Ad {collaborative} Selling up and moving house can be daunting and one of the most stressful times of a persons life. From the moment you start looking at houses, to putting the offer in to then the legal process it can be a time consuming and anxious time. There are things you can do to help with this and being organised is key. I have compiled a few tips to help you with moving and hopefully this will make the process a little smoother and stress free.

- Invest in using a reputable removal company with a decent removal van I can't tell you how handy it is to have a decent company that you can put your trust in to safely and efficiently move you homely goods and possessions and ensure they get to their new destination safely!

- Label all your boxes, I categorised per room and wrote on each box a short description of what was in the box and which rooms I wanted to guys to put them in when unloading, it was helpful when it came to unpacking!

- Try and have everything packed ready for when your removal guys turn up.....I was still packing items as they turned up at the crack of dawn.....oops!

- Go with the flow and try not to stress too much, remember the removal companies have helped hundreds of people move and they are the professionals!

- If you're only moving a small amount of items and perhaps don't need a whole removal lorry then maybe a man with a van might be more handy for this kind of thing! We have used this kind of service when we bought a sofa from my sister in law and had a man with a van bring it to us from London! Was really useful. 

Have you got any other tips to share?

Thursday 25 April 2019

Beautiful Destinations to Visit in 2019

6 Most Beautiful Travel Destinations to Visit in 2019
{Ad} If you are looking for the most exciting and beautiful travel destinations to explore this year, well you have just landed on the right page. Although there is no fixed definition of beauty in broader terms, for a wander luster, a beautiful destination is one with awe-inspiring landscapes, immense nature, rich cultures, and impressive architecture.  In case you are running short of money to fund your holiday, just take advantage of cash loan. Do not let anything come between you and your vacation. It's also worth thinking about hiring a vehicle when travelling to these amazing destinations, we love been able to explore when we are on holiday and been able to hire a car when abroad is a huge bonus. Somewhere like rental centre Crete can help you out with a car to get out and about and fully immerse yourself in what Crete has to offer.
It is indeed impossible to identify the most beautiful travel destinations on one page. However, here is a short list based on the reviews and recommendations by experts and travelers.
Koh Poda island – Thailand
Located in the Krabi Province, Koh Poda island is the largest of a group of four islands. Surrounded by beautiful clear waters, it is like a paradise with white sands and turquoise blue waters. Explore the island once you reach here and relax at some shady spots or go for a swim. Do not forget to take some pictures of the really beautiful island which is not too crowded. The entire beach is covered with palm and pine trees, and every inch of it makes for a stunning tropical getaway. Explore the coral reef that is loaded with a variety of sea life.
St. Lucia island - Eastern Caribbean
St. Lucia island nation is home to volcanic beaches, fishing villages, and reef-diving sites. Of all the Caribbean islands, this is indeed the most well-known. It is well famous for its luxury resorts and secluded beaches with postcard-perfect views. You can hike on the trails in the interior rainforests and stop at the gorgeous waterfalls. Despite being small, it boasts of geographic and cultural riches. The geologic wonder is impossibly photogenic and dotted with hidden beaches and old plantations.

Chefchaouen village

MoroccoYou are sure to get instantly captivated by the blue-hued mountain village of Chefchaouen, which is located in northwest Morocco. What is striking about the village are the blue-washed buildings and the leather and weaving workshops on its cobbled lanes. It is one of the most picturesque towns of the country that lures tourists from near and far. Other highlights include Chefchouen Ethnographic Museum, the red-walled Kasbah and a fortress and dungeon.

Santorini island – Greece

Santorini is forever shaping its rugged landscape, and the crescent-shaped volcanic island is indeed one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. The iconic whitewashed houses clinging to the cliffs are the deity of the island.  You can enjoy legendary sunsets from here or stroll across those black-pebble and red-sand beaches.

Bryce Canyon National Park – USA
Located in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon is best known for abundant crimson-colored hoodoos, the tall spires of rock jutting out from the landscape and in different colors at different heights. The sprawling reserves boast of an expansive Bryce Amphitheater that is located below the Rim Trail hiking path. Visit the Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point at the right viewing times. Explore the park to familiarize yourself with this special place.

4. Na Pali Coast, KauaiHawaii
The 17 miles of Na Pali Coast is defined by extraordinary natural beauty. The rugged terrain in Hawaii boasts of emerald-tinted cliffs with razor-sharp ridges that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The lush valley floor is dotted with beautiful beaches and cascading waterfalls. One can hike along the coast or run through the Na Pali Coast park on the Kalalau Trail. Although one can explore the Napali Coast in so many ways, the best views can be enjoyed via air or by sea. Take guided kayaking trips and raft tours under the right conditions.

The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice *Review*

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We are huge Disney fans, well I say a collective 'we' but it is mostly myself and Elarna! There is nothing we like more than cuddling up on the sofa together watching Beauty and the Beast, Frozen or Moana....to name but a few! Back in November I treated us all to tickets to our first Disney on Ice show which we absolutely loved and as soon as it had finished I was already waiting for the next show to be announced! In a stroke of fate we were very kindly offered tickets to the Spring show that is currently touring, this particular tour is called The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice and I actually managed to keep it secret from the kids until about a week before we went so the excitement was very much there on the day. I do have to apologise for the quality of some of the images it was really hard to get decent images in certain lights on my phone!

The previous show we went to was in Nottingham at the Ice Arena, however this show was at the NEC in Birmingham, I believe they don't always go to the same arena's, however if I am totally honest we much preferred Nottingham as a venue, much less stressful and far more organised but this is no reflection on Disney on Ice but the venue itself. There is loads of merchandise on sale with varying prices but we didn't purchase anything at this show. However I did remember to take the slush cups that I had purchased at the previous show and brilliantly we were able to get these filled free of charge which was fantastic.

Elarna was ridiculously excited for the show and Alfie was much more excited for this show as making an appearance was The Lion King, Nemo and Toy Story. We had great seats overlooking the ice and once seated we could not wait for the show to start.

We started off with meeting Mickey and Minnie to introduce the show and whip the crowd into a frenzy. It was clear from the audience that everyone was so excited for the show to start. We have the promise of lots of our Disney friends will be making appearances. 

The Pride Lands were our next stop, Alfie was absolutely delighted at this as he loves The Lion King, it is one of his favourite films. As soon as the recognisable music came on he was transfixed and clearly enjoyed it. This section was colourful, energetic and a great to start to the show.

We then had a visit from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which was another new addition to the show, this was a sweet section and a nice addition. We loved watching the Seven Dwarves!

The show then continued with a vibrant and exuberant display full of energy from Aladdin and friends. Then we had a trip to the bottom of the ocean with Ariel and her sea creature buddies. I completely love The Little Mermaid so this part of the show I thoroughly enjoyed. The costumes and skating as well as the tricks were mesmerising.

There was also an appearance from Rapunzel but I don't seem to have any pictures or remember if it was before or after the interval! Oops! We love Rapunzel aswell, never mind, it will be a surprise if you're booked to see the show. 

Just before the interval we had all the Princes and Princesses take to the ice for a fabulous show dance. Elarna was beside herself with seeing all her favourite's....although she was slightly disappointed that Moana didn't make an appearance at this show, and that she could see Mulan in the show dance but she didn't have her own section within the show. However, that's the wonderful world of Disney, there are so many characters that each show is going to have different characters and this is what keeps it fresh.

After the interval we said hello to Dory and her friends, ahhhh we love Nemo and Dory and this was a brilliant part of the show, the music isn't as well known but it was still a marvelous few minutes. We also had a bit of a cowboy dance with Woody and his mates but I sadly didn't have any decent pictures to share. It was super high energy and a real toe tapper, the kids loved it, especially the toy soldiers! 

Finally, it was time to end with a spectacular visit to Arandel and see what Ana and Elsa were getting up to. I think for myself and Elarna this was what we were both looking forward to, we loved it back in November and it didn't disappoint once again. With real snow, lighting effects and drama this is an epic end to the show. I couldn't help but sing along!

Not only did we have the show stopping songs from Ana and Elsa, Olaf also took centre stage with a gorgeous, bright and sunny routine that was a real feast for the eyes, it really puts it in perspective the amount of time, endurance and dedication these amazing performers must put into the show. 

So overall, what did we love? 

- All round family fun, you simply cannot beat a bit of Disney magic wherever you are

- Full of so many wonderful songs and dance routines, what is not to love

- The joy and smiles that come from your kids when watching it is truly marvellous

- Twice a year there is different Disney on Ice shows so there is generally always something new to see 

- Professional, slick and vibrant this is an unmissable show

Anything we weren't so keen on?

- The venue! The NEC we just felt let us down a bit, we paid for fast track parking but ended up parking in the wrong bit, then we had to queue for our tickets when we should have entered further up the queue, no reflection on the show itself more the venue but it wasn't a great start, we much preferred the Nottingham Ice Arena

- Tickets are not the cheapest but then these things generally aren't but you won't be disappointed with the show

Overall, a fun filled family day out. We love Disney on Ice and can highly recommend if you're looking for a family trip out. The children adore it and looking around at all the kids faces in the audience it's clear to see they are in the happy place. I love that the show isn't too long, including the interval it's about 90 minutes which is perfect for small children to just keep the interest. There is plenty of surprises and different elements to entertain children and adults alike and we can't wait for the next Disney on Ice!

Just a final note, many of the children dress up, Alfie wasn't fussed but Elarna just her new Belle dress which is a Disney shop online purchase for anyone wondering, it's beautiful but sheds so much glitter......Daddy looked like a disco ball after having her on his knee for most of the show haha. 

* Please note we were kindly gifted tickets for the experience, all thoughts and opinions are my own and I will always be truthful when it comes to reviewing. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

Tyre Care

I've not long had my car serviced and I'm always amazed at just how worn my tyres can become over the space of a year. I remember when I was younger and just learning to drive my Dad always used to make sure I kept an eye on my tyres, monitored the tyre pressures and checked then frequently. When I did need to purchase new tyres to always use a reputable dealer, did you know at certain dealers such as Headley Tyres in Newbury which you can even buy online.  So with that in mind I have compiled a post about the top tips when it comes to tyre care.

- Check to make sure that your tyres aren't bald, treads on tyres help with grip on the road and if these are worn or wearing down breaking distance increases and it can be quite unsafe, also failing to replace tyres when they are too worn can actually result in being fined if pulled over!

- Tyres take alot of pounding and it's important to check your tyres over for any foreign objects or slow punctures for example. I once remember we checked our tyres and we had a slow puncture due to a nail embedded in the tyre which we wouldn't have known about until too late but as we checked we were able to take it to a garage and have it repaired. Headley Tyres in Newbury even have a state of the art drive through centre for all of your auto and tyre needs!

- Make sure you check the tyre pressures regularly, my husband always does this frequently as not only is goof for fuel economy but the handling and performance of the car relies on the tyre pressures being at the correct level. 

- Take the opportunity to wash your car and clean the wheels frequently, this is a good excuse to check the tyres out for wear and tear and identifying any hazards, also there is nothing nicer than a clean and shiny car!

- Get acquainted with the labelling on tyres, did you know there are lots of different symbols and letters on tyres which all mean different things such as weather conditions and the tyre age!

Can you think of any other tips?

Thursday 11 April 2019

Fashion Trends with JD Williams

SS19 Fashion Trends
We're heading into warmer weather....hopefully, and with the really warm weather just around the corner, it is time to go out and update my spring and summer wardrobe. So, today, I thought we would take a look at this year’s main trends.
Online retailers tend to be a week or two ahead of the fashion curve, so I took a look at JD Williams site. It is huge, so you can get a good feel for which of the catwalk trends have made their way into the mainstream. Here are the ones that caught my eye.

Jumpsuits have turned into boilersuits
It took a while, but jumpsuits were very big, last year, a lot of women were wearing them. This year, the boilersuit look is taking over. People are loving this crossover look that combines style with utilitarian details like big pockets on the chest and belts. They are selling so fast that even the large retailers cannot keep up with demand.
For evenings out, glamorous flowing jumpsuits are still easy to pick up. Try to choose something that looks good with a jacket or shawl, so you are ready for slightly chillier evenings. Also, bear in mind your summer holiday, potentially you can pack you jumpsuit or boilersuit. They are the perfect all-in-one outfit.
The all in denim look
Denim boilersuits are especially popular. They fit in well with another big SS19 trend, top to toe denim. For the first time in many years it is easy to pick up denim shirts as well as jeans and jackets. Stars like Kendall Jenner made this way of dressing popular last autumn and it has re-emerged for the spring. For cooler days, layered denim is ideal. Just be sure to choose a denim blouse that has sleeves that are wide enough to be rolled up when the sun finally comes out.

Neutral tones
This winter has been all about whites. A trend that has given way to neutral tones, a colour palette that should work for most of you. As the weather warms up you can expect the colours to do the same. It will be interesting to see if the shocking neons and bright yellow clothes that are appearing on catwalks, at the moment, will make their way into the shops.
Tie-dyed clothing
It has been a while since the tie-dyed look was fashionable. But, it certainly is right now. If you want to know how to wear what is a tricky print, just read this article.

Transparent raincoats
Another big trend for the spring is transparent patterned raincoats. They look fantastic and are practical too.

Crafty clothes
The craft movement has grown and grown, so it's no surprise to see clothing designers being inspired by it. Keep an eye out for crocheted dresses and coats. Tailored lace blouses and net dresses, which are designed to be worn over other clothes, are another interesting trend.
More fashion style articles by me
I do not write about fashion very often and when I do it is mostly about children’s clothing. If you would like to read some of those articles, just click here and enjoy a few of them.

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Monday 8 April 2019

Fuzzikins Bedtime Bunnies!! *Review*

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With Easter around the corner the arrival of these cute little fuzzikins bedtime bunnies in the Blogging Beautifully household were well received. This cutesy little set contains 3 fuzzy bunnies, felt tip pens and an assortment of felt accessories that your child can use to personalise the bunnies and then play with.

With three different sized bunnies, naturally we had Mummy Bunny, Daddy Bunny and Baby Bunny! Using the felt tips included the child can decorate and draw on the bunnies to their hearts content and then they can actually be washed and recoloured which is a nice added feature.

Included in the set are :

- 3 x fuzzy bunnies
- 3 x felt tip pens
- 1 x practice colouring sheet
- 3 x Bunny Beds
- A selection of fuzzy accessories

Very little assistance is needed to help with the bunnies, Elarna was more than happy to colour them in by herself and set them up in their little beds, I did need to give some help sticking the little felt accessories on and tried a little bit of colouring in but other than that she was perfectly happy to solo play. She's very good at creating little stories and I do love watching her imagination grow.

What did we love?

- Really cute little toy and a would make a nice Easter gift

- Reasonable price of £9.99 (RRP), available from leading retailers

- We love the idea that the bunnies are washable allowing them to be redecorated

- A simple toy with lots of role playing features and encourages the child to use their imagination

Anything we weren't so keen on?

- Some more felt tip colour options would have been nice, we weren't sure if we could use any other brand as they it may have spoilt the bunnies

- The felt tips may stain so just be cautious about where they are used, best to read the instructions before hand!

They are very similar to Sylvanian Families which Elarna loves so they have been in a hit in our house, they really are so cute, they would make a really nice alternative Easter gift or part of an Easter hamper. I'll leave you with a few more pictures of Elarna playing with them!

Overall we really liked Fuzzikins Bedtime Bunnies, it's a lovely little set and there are more available in the rage. Available from leading retailers, perfect for Easter and would make a lovely gift for a child age 3+.

* Please note we were kindly sent the item free of charge in exchange for an honest opinion, all thoughts are my own.