Wednesday, April 1

Easter Gift Guide 2015 - Easter Egg Alternatives

I don't know about your children but mine get too many Easter eggs so it's rather nice to find an alternative to give as presents. 
I've been looking around this year to see what other options are around and there are some rather lovely alternatives available.
Personalised Egg Cups:
A break away from the normal chocolate eggs, a gift which can be enjoyed all year round by children of all ages.
These personalised Easter Egg cups feature a Easter chick or Easter bunny (the choice is yours) and can have your child's name added to the top of the design (up to 12 characters per egg cup).
Both Emmy and Harry love soft boiled eggs with marmite toast soldiers for breakfast - a great way to start the day.
Priced at £6.99 each and available from
Chocolate Flip-Flops:
Yes you read that correctly, chocolate flip-flops!!  OK they may not be real chocolate as that would just be silly but just look at these:
I'll be honest, I would be over the moon to receive these - chocolate you can enjoy at any time, guilt free and calorie too!  These are available from for £22
Perfect for the hotter weather we have been promised or ready for the summer holidays and beach trips.
Peter Rabbit Plush Toys:
Nothing says Easter more than the Easter Bunny and Peter Rabbit is hugely loved by both Emmy and Harry.  It is currently one of their much loved TV shows, one which is guaranteed to keep Harry entertained and still (a winner in my books) and one I actually enjoy watching too. 
Peter Rabbit brings back fond memories of my childhood and having just taken part in the Happy Feaster blog tour with Ladybird books and the Happy Foodie to make our Peter Rabbit inspired Carrot soup with cheesy rabbit bread dippers this plush toy was warmly welcomed into the family by Harry who has taken to sleeping with it in his bed.
This 6" cuddly plush rabbit comes priced £6.99 and is from You can choose from Peter, Lily Bobtail, Benjamin Bunny and also Cotton tail.  As you can probably imagine Emmy is keen for us to add the others to our collection, and I actually have to agree as they are just adorable!
We love to bake in our house and the children have already started putting in their orders of what we will make this Easter with Easter birds nests high on their list.  This year we are also planning to make our own hotcross buns, Easter cakes and I have been drooling over cream egg cheesecake recipes I saw last year - even though the children don't like cheesecake or cream eggs (that's a bonus obviously as it means more for me!)
With 2 Easter egg hunts planned over the bank holiday weekend we will have to get 'cracking' soon and start preparing.
Aldi have some baking accessories available in their SpecialBuys while stocks last - including Measuring Jug/Kitchen Scales (£6.99) and silicone bakeware - silicone bakeware is available in 8 different shapes and colours (£3.49)
The measuring jug has a digital display and can measure in ml, oz and cups - very useful for measuring oil, flour, milk and water quantities when baking.
There is nothing more exciting to Emmy than stationary, she is currently obsessed with drawing and it's the one thing she will do daily and happily for hours at a time so she was over the moon with a wonderful delivery we received last week from Smiggle.
The children were each sent a lovely and vibrant backpack each along with matching lunchbox and drinks flask as well as some fantastic stationary.
The backpacks are a wonderful size for either School or for taking out and about with picnics inside.
They each have a very large inside padded main section for school books, change of clothes, lunch boxes (or even clothes for a weekend away).  They have a extra pocket in the main compartment to keep books flat or valuables from falling to the bottom of the bag.  There are lots of zipped pockets and compartments to this bag meaning you will be able to easily find things and they wont all fall to the bottom of the bag - they is a compartment for everything! and also a side netting compartment for a drinks bottle.
The lunchboxes are both different - Emmy's pink cat design has two compartments (top and bottom) so you can easily separate puddings in one section to stop fruit from being bruised, or to help ensure children each their sandwiches first of course!  Harry's is a one compartment lunch box which is perfect for when he starts pre-school soon, as although he will be doing mornings only to start I may eventually change to a full day so I am able to get more done (time will tell on that one).
The drinks bottles are large in size so although heavy if fully filled they will last all day, adding them into the netted compartments of the bags means you don't have to keep carrying them around.  They also feature a safety catch which you push up to stop them accidently opening.
Both children love the twist up crayons too, as do I as it means there isn't the constant breaking you get with normal crayons, they are also easier for Harry to hold and to draw with - they come in 24 colours so a shade for every thing you want to draw.
Available from
Scavenger Hunt:
This is a very fun game which can be played indoors and outdoors and the difficulty level can be adapted depending on who is playing.
Basically a treasure hunt for young children - you have 2 sets of indoor cards and 2 sets of outdoor cards.
Give the children cards and they have to hunt the house or garden for that object - a perfect way to burn off some energy and get away from the TV - either give the children a card to and set them hunting or you can get a little competitive and set them off on a search for the same item, competing to find it first!
Emmy and Harry both really enjoyed this game (although I did end up with a pile of found objects in the kitchen once they had finished).
Rather handy to bring out when you are trying want to cook dinner and they want to play games.
Available from Cheatwell Games
They also have lots of other after dinner games and trivia games available.
Science & Play - Chocolate Treats:

A kit for budding pastry chefs who would like to make delicious chocolate creations, including a Spring-themed sheep – plus, a mould for kids to make their own Easter egg!
The set includes an illustrated manual, muffin mix, paper cake cases, biscuit cutters, a spoon, a pastry syringe, gel food colouring, coloured sugar decorations and a practical chocolate melter.
This set stimulates manual skills and creativity and is aimed at both boys and girls.
Suitable for children aged 8 years and above
RRP £19.99

Mapped Helix:
I am loving this Color'Peps Flex Box from Maped Helix - such a clever design and one I wish I had when I was younger.  A storage box containing colouring pencils. 

This unique design stores the pencils then when you are using them you take off the lid and push down the concertinaed middle which clips down into place and you then have a easy storage pot for easy access to your pencils.

Once finished push in the two catches on the side and pull upwards, put the lid on and pop into your school bag!

"This is a collaborative post"
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Tuesday, March 31

What do CBeebies Alex, Mr Yipadee, Elsa & the Easter Bunny have in common?

With our Easter holidays already in full swing we headed off to a very special children's event at one of our local playcentres Cheeky Monkey's in Cheshunt.
I do love a local event for various reasons: obviously only being less than 15 minutes drive from my house is a massive bonus but it means also the kids aren't too tired from travelling to enjoy themselves,  it does also mean as they are familiar with their surroundings they are more likely to join in and not be shy.

Mine are regulars at Cheeky Monkey's and we even took Emmy there for her 1st and 2nd birthday days out.  It's a small venue but one I'm happy to let the children go off and enjoy/explore alone as I can see every part of the soft play centre while I enjoy my cuppa.  With bigger centres the children tend to want me to squeeze through the tunnels and whizz down the slides with them but here they are comfortable enough to go and explore and play alone.
Today was very special we were not only going for a play but also to see Mr Yipadee,  CBeebies Alex and Elsa too.

(The answer to the above question is: A great day out for kids this Easter!)

I hadn't told the kids so they were surprised to see the soft play blocked off when we arrived and everyone gathered around a makeshift dancefloor.
Mr Yipadee, incase you've not heard of him yet is a children's muscian who is number 1 in the iTunes charts for children.   He sings all the well known children's songs with a funny difference,  to get a better idea do check out his free app here.
His music is intended to promote positive thinking and self-confidence among children and he performs at children's parties and play centres all over England.
After the show began the children warmed to him very quickly, and not just my children, all the children.  There were fits of giggles all round and lots of dancing.
Our party was a Princess and Pirates party....well it seems that Alex may not have got the memo on this one much to the children's hysterical laughter...

Now I must admit it does actually suit him and I may be jealous he looks better in a dress than I do! 
Together they fully entertained the children with songs, Mr Yipadee kept having to be told off by Alex for getting the words of the songs wrong over and over again with the children in fits of giggles when they were singing 'Frozen' songs, "Let it blow" had Emmy almost doubled over and instead of "Do you wanna build a snowman" there was a rendition of "Do you wanna pick your nose".
All was OK though as Elsa came in to take over.  All the little girls especially were amazing they were meeting Elsa and she was teaching them her very special dance moves.
A video posted by Clare Nicholas (@emmysmummy1) on

With it being an Easter Tour there was of course a special appearance by the Easter Bunny who came with a basket full of chocolate - he instantly became Harry's new best friend as you can imagine!
If you are able to catch one of these Easter Tours I can highly recommend it, it is not only great fun for the children but also for the parents as they can watch their children interact and join in due to the smaller venues, unlike big arena and stage tours.  Mr Yipadee, Alex and Elsa all stayed until every child had had photographs taken and signed autographs for everyone.

A huge thank you as we had a great time.

This tour will be visiting the following venues over the Easter period so do try to see if they are near to you.
30-Mar 10:00: Wolverhampton-Jungle Boogie
30-Mar 13:15: Worcester-Cheeky Monkeys
30-Mar 17:00: Northampton-Hullabaloo
31-Mar 10:00: Chelmsford-Mace Playce
31-Mar 13:00: Cheshunt-Cheeky Monkeys
31-Mar 16:30: Saffron Walden-Tumble Downs
04-Apr 11:00: Dumfries-Mabie Farm Park
04-Apr 13:00: Dumfries-Mabie Farm Park
04-Apr 16:00: Dumfries-Mabie Farm Park
06-Apr 11:00: Preston-Avenham Park
06-Apr 14:00: Preston-Avenham Park
07-Apr 10:00: Queensferry-Wizz Kidz
07-Apr 16:30: Chester-Funky Town
08-Apr 10:00: Warrington-Giddy Kidz
08-Apr 13:15: Wigan-Run & Jumo
08-Apr 16:30: Tarleton-Jollies Play Barn
09-Apr 10:00: Leigh-Toyfields
09-Apr 13:15: Chorley-Clown Around
09-Apr 16:30: St Helens-Playdays
10-Apr 10:00: Oldham-Tower Of Fun
10-Apr 13:15: Cheadle-Funtime Kids
10-Apr 16:30: Hyde-Slide & Seek

Sunday, March 29

Planning For Our Summer Wardrobes

With the promise of a warm Easter on the way (of course I will believe it when I see it!) and Summer hopefully fast approaching that means a very good excuse to not only revamp my dreary looking wardrobe but to add a splash of colour into the children's too.
Me loosing weight leaves a perfect excuse to search out new clothes and new styles (spurred on by my new dress I brought for last weekend, it would appear that figure hugging bodycon dresses actually make me look ok....who would have thought I would ever say that?)
This Summer I am determined to not live in trousers as I usually do but to brave baring my legs to the world and donning dresses and shorts for a change. 
Of course I will need to invest in some first and of course some fake tan or I'll not only scare away the sun but all who come close to my milk bottle white legs!
Browsing online for clothes for me I managed to yet again become distracted by children's clothes - does anyone else do that? I find it very hard to resist - usually it's girls pretty dresses but just recently boys clothes are becoming more exciting, I'm guessing it may have been this way for a little while but I always found baby boy clothes to be dreary and dull, they were more exciting when Harry reached toddler sized clothes and beyond.
My latest distraction come from who have some very adorable and fashionable clothes for boys and girls.
These are just a few of the clothes I am currently eyeing up for them both:

I can't decide which bits I have to get but top of list are the butterfly shorts for Emmy and the Union Jack swimmers for Harry.
I actually surprised myself by picking out pretty cool tones and shades for Emmy's clothes - these would be perfect for summer and can also be teamed with her favourite hot pink sandals and cardigans.
That's the kids sorted so I guess the next window shop has to be for me - I've a little more weight to lose before I get my Summer wardrobe though so it will have to wait a little while.
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Reward Cards Can Help To Save Money

With the Easter holidays now here for us (and almost here for other schools) that means the summer holidays are approaching way too quickly.
That can obviously be an expensive time for all, whether it means added childcare costs, time off of work or just the days outs and holidays, having the kids at home for 6 weeks can get expensive.
I've been taking a look this week at reward credit cards to see if these can help to save money.
There are various different ones around which of course and depending on the type will depend on the rewards available.
Here are a few options available :
TSB Avios Card:  Collect points which can be redeemed against flights,  hotels,  holidays and days outs.   You can collect 1 Avios point for every £1 with the American Express card and 1 point for every £5 with the MasterCard.
Santander 123 Credit Card: Earning monthly cashback on your everyday spending. 3% cashback on fuel, National Rail and TFL, 2% cashback at department stores and 1% cashback at supermarkets.
M&S Credit Card: Comes with £5 worth of M&S points and earn M&S points when you shop.
Tesco Credit Card: Earn Tesco clubcard points when you shop
These are only a few of the options available - the list is endless and you will need to look around to find one which is best suited to your usage - Martin Lewis has a very good write up which helps to explain the in's and out's and to help you better understand your options.
Of course as with all credit cards it is best to pay off the balance monthly as paying only the minimum each month will take longer to clear the balance and obviously interest will be added monthly at various rates depending of which card you have.

Used sensibly though this can be a good way of getting extra rewards for buying things you normally would anyway.
Also remember to get reward cards for supermarkets and to use them, it's amazing how quickly the rewards start coming in.

I use my Tesco reward card all the time and exchange the vouchers for days out or meals, only last month I exchanged ours for Pizza Express vouchers and took 7 of us out for a family meal for which I only had to pay for the drinks!
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Review: Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves DVD

A host of everyone’s favourite childhood characters come together with hilarious results in FAIRYTALE: STORY OF THE SEVEN DWARVES which was released on DVD on March 16th, 2015

In this film you will find faiytale favourites: Red Riding Hood, The Snow Queen, The Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Jack & the Beanstalk.

When Bobo, the youngest of the infamous seven dwarves, accidentally pricks Sleeping Beauty with a needle which sends the kingdom into a century-long slumber, he and the other six dwarves must embark on the adventure of a lifetime – to find her one true love and undo the Snow Queen’s wicked spell! 

A mix up of everyone’s favourite fairy tales and a story for young and old alike, this adventure has everything from tap-dancing dragons to brave little dwarves, a romance between Sleeping Beauty and Jack (of ‘the Beanstalk’ fame), non-stop gags, and toe-tapping songs. Love Shrek? Then you’ll be Enchanted by FAIRYTALE: STORY OF THE SEVEN DWARVES – the mother of all family films!

The movie gripped both Emmy and Harry who had great fun naming all the characters they knew from their much loved fairytales - it mixes all of the fairytales using parts from all tales combining them into a brand new twist which see's the Snow Queen putting a magic spell on Jack which makes him fall in love with her instead of Sleeping Beauty - thankfully the quick thinking Dwarves manage to break this spell before he makes the fatal mistake of kissing the Queen.

Harry spend a whole day walking around saying "must prick finger, must prick finger" after watching this film.

A lovely film for all ages (adults includes)
Cert: PG
Running time: 84 minutes long

Disclaimer:  We received a copy of this movie for the purpose of this post.
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