Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Interplay Secret Fairy Door

Another month and another in our series of reviews for Interplay UK. This month it's Mini's turn to review, and she chose the Secret Fairy Door set.

As an old skool parent, I am so very aware of the effect of social media, multi channel TV and gaming on my very much interested and modern children. I much prefer a toy that can encourage imaginative play.

So far I've found Interplay are experts on this type of toy, and can encourage imaginations whilst still keeping our hard to please generation of kids happy.

Mini asked specifically to try out the Fairy Door after seeing similar on TV in woodland in the school holidays. At 8, nearly 9, she is on the cusp of toys with fairies and dolls going out of popularity but is still happy to get caught up in wonder and make believe.

The set arrived with easy to use bits and bobs which meant that, once it was unwrapped from the box, she was easily able to fit it all together.

She loved the stickers to go on the wall- although we've put these away for now as her room is in the middle of a much needed redecoration- and liked that she could put little bits of personal importance, like a pound coin she has from her savings that she kept trying to hide from her brother in the tree too.

 She adored the fairy and made up little stories for her and the tiny but highly detailed hedgehog straight away. The story book included is also a very good extra, the illustrations are just superb and add to the stories a younger child could make up.

The attention to detail on such a purse friendly product was great. from the backing of the tree showing a little cottage interior to the fairy herself, it was very nice to see such effort go into the toy.

Even the key for the door had a little heart design molded in. I liked that there were two keys as being quite small its usually the first thing to go missing and end up up the vacuum, so now I have a spare "fairy key of magic" as Mini has called it o my key-chain.

Despite having to take up residence by the wall, we did try out the sticky pads and fund them very strong and yet they did come off easily with a little persuasion. She's now dying for her room to be finished so the door can go up properly with it's stickers.

For around £19.99, this is a great addition to any child's Christmas stocking, its big enough to place a few coins in and perhaps a child sized necklace, or just the little characters it comes with. Its definitely a great addition to our imaginative play toys. 

The Secret Fairy Door from Interplay is suitable for age 4 and over.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Christmas Preview: Lush Winter 2015

Last night I got treated to the heady scents and vibrant sights of Lush and their Winter 2015 collection....

I'm a recent Lush convert, by association of moving to a town where there is a store and my son being overwhelmed by love for their bath bombs shaped like robots.

So, when Unique Young Mum asked if I'd like to be her plus one for their event I was very pleased to come along.

I think the great thing about Lush, certainly my local Lush, is the staff and how much they appear to love their jobs and the merchandise they sell. There is nothing these girls and guys don't know about their products. They are also great at telling you what works for certain skin types too, which is handy with my sensitive skin and Littlest and his range of allergies. Yes, even soaps can cause him to have flare ups and he loves being able to go in store and asking if it's OK for him to use in the bath.

The range is just eye popping, with every colour accounted for, the smells are amazing, from earthy hues to flowery scents. If you love something subtle, or like a strong perfume, flowers in the bath or a coating of skin and environment friendly glitter, Lush has you covered.

I personally love the gift boxes they currently have for Christmas. Even something as simple as the box is seen as an excuse to go to town. One box doubles as a musical merry go round which you could use again and again without anyone realising it held soaps. There were kid friendly boxes with clowns which can be mixed up. I also liked the soap canon, a Lush nod to the traditional Christmas cracker.

They also sell a great range of cosmetics, and hair care too, all of which is not tested on animals, and is as natural as can be.

Lush also encourages customers to bring back empty cartons to refill rather than buying a new one and throwing the old tub.

I think if you have a family member of any age and you aren't sure what to buy them, Lush is the answer. Its so nice to receive some artisan bathroom goods, but Lush just looks as impressive as you're going to find and they look so good you almost don't want to plonk them in the bath!

They have prices to suit all budgets, and the staff are happy to help you decide if you get stuck.

I really enjoyed seeing the new range for Christmas, and now have a rather epic list of must haves!

You can find more from Lush at their website

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Laughing Cow Mini Cravings Cheese

Finding snacks for lunchboxes and curbing boredom can be a minefield- not only do you have to consider a picky child eater but also the never ending lists of foods that school's ban parent's from providing. One thing which never seems to find its way onto the banned list is cheese, and Mini and Littlest have been trying a new range of Laughing Cow Cheese, Mini Cravings.

I lose count of how many times I have to come up with a new option for lunchboxes- Mini gets bored easily so often expects something different each day. Littlest is easier to provide for in terms of he will happily each whatever is given, but his allergies are always a consideration.

Both of them, happily, love cheese, but I'm not a massive fan of certain shaped and molded cheese, I would prefer them to have a big lump from the cheese block but both of them prefer anything in a handy wrapper.

Laughing Cow Mini Cravings certainly make everyone happy. 

They are tiny little packages of flavor rich cheese, each with an individual twist, and each not taking up much room, so you can add a few different varieties to a lunchbox.

Each packet contains 24 Mini Cravings in 3 different varieties, and there is something to please even the most fussiest of eater. They are a good source of much needed calcium and not filled full of sugar and salt- something we are now all aware of when making choices of what we feed the kids.

Mini's favorite was the Ham and Herb variety, which had a subtle taste of what she felt was cheesy bacon- combining two of her preferred savory foods in one handy square. Littlest meanwhile could not get enough of the Smoked Cheese version.

They are versatile too, tasting great on toast at breakfast time, and the small helping was just enough for younger chef wannabes to pick one for their toast with less mess than giving them a whole tub to spread on.

I found a few of them went great stirred into pasta too, creating a really tasty and light coating- especially if  you chose a few versions and add some chopped ham and peppers to the mix.

At 14 calories they are great for snacking on a diet too.

I think these are great for Mum's as they are small but perfectly formed, and pack a punch. They would make easy finger foods too for on the go.

At £2 for 24 they are purse friendly too.

Mini Cravings from the Laughing Cow are available from most supermarkets.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Interplay Wood Worx Kit

Littlest is a typical boy who likes to get hands on with his toys these days. At 7 years old, it can be quite hard to find the right toy that isn't too easy or too hard. Interplay asked him to pick a kit to try out and he decided to have a go at a Wood Worx kit.

If there is a toy which will make Littlest step away from his laptop, it is a dinosaur based toy, even better if he can get hands on and make it himself.

The Wood Worx kit from Interplay is very solid, and so user friendly. Some kits are just too fiddly for his age, and end up causing tears and the odd tantrum. They also end with me covered in glue trying to show how easy it is whilst not making it look easy at all.

The set he tried took a couple of days in the holiday (handy when the weather was utterly awful), but not due to difficulty. He got everything out the box, had a quick look at the booklet, and off he went.

We're currently trying to instill a sense of independence in Littlest- he has just started Year 3 in Juniors, but has just also turned 7, making him the second youngest in his year, so he does tend to still cling to the last days of co-dependence. He also has the bossy madam that is Mini too, s it was lovely for him to take a box of parts and paints and produce a toy almost entirely alone (until Mini saw the paint aspect and designated herself artist for some of it).

The sense of pride he had in himself after fitting the model together was great, he had thought he'd need help but not at all. The instructions were very simple, step by step, and being that the chunky model was pretty easy without the booklet made making the model a doddle.

There was plenty of paint in the box, as well as stickers for the face- although Littlest decided to forego these and make a freestyle "happy" dinosaur instead of a scary one. The set of course allows you to really get creative and choose for yourself.

It does take a little while to glue solid enough to paint over, but obviously you can't expect the glue to be super strength toxic stuff in a kids set and in fact it added to the fun factor as it wasn't all done and complete in a few hours- we stretched it out for several.

Mums will be pleased to hear that the paint is fully washable- Littlest got quite a bit on his clothes, hands and my glass table, and it washed off with a baby wipe from the table and a normal wash for the clothes.

The only thing I would suggest is a bit extra glue as we ran out (but that's probably down to the liberal application of it by a heavy handed Littlest).

At £9.99, it's such a cheap way of getting a start in crafts and independent play, the price tag would suggest it would be flimsy but not at all.

We love the Wood Worx T-Rex, and you can see all the sets available at the Interplay website.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: Stamptastic

Like most busy Mums, Lazy Girl finds the annual back to school uniform labeling task a boring chore. Stamptastic feels her pain and so suggested their Stamp kit....

Every year, without fail, I buy sew on or iron on labels for school uniform. After all, we know our little cherubs can, and will, happily leave a sweater, or an entire PE kit, where so ever they can. They then, in the case of my pair, forget where that was and chaos ensues.

Having a name on their uniform may not make them absent minded child proof, but makes the schools job easier when it's time to hand the items back. It can also make light work of searching in the lost property bin, something I seem to do on a weekly basis in term time.

However, despite my sewing the labels on, the Brats end up knocking these off, or fraying them, and,  despite iron on labels sounding easy, they tend to stick to the iron, the ironing board and in one awful, scar inducing incident, to my finger. Yet they do not stay stuck to the actual item of clothing they are intended for.

This means that, without fail, by he end of the first term, I usually revert back to a biro.

I had heard about Stamptastic, but hadn't tried them myself, purely because I was going with the "old methods are best" approach, forgetting the calamity that is sewing on labels you know will last no longer than a term.

We tried two stamps, one for each child, a stamp pad and a white fabric pen.

Ordering the stamps was a piece of cake, the website is very simple, very quick to use and within 2 minutes my order was made. The kids liked picking which icon they could have with their name, with Mini choosing a Butterfly and Littlest going for a paw print. There are a number of little icons to chose from to suit most junior school ages, and for the teens they can simply go without one and just have their name.
There are several fonts to pick from too, and if like my children your name is quite long, you can resize to fit the length.

You can pay via PayPal too, which I find I prefer online just for the security aspect of  using the net to pay for things.

In a few days, I received a well packaged parcel, ready to go and very user friendly.

I had thought that the amount of uniform my two have would mean the stamp pad of ink would run out halfway through. I have so much uniform, as the school has winter and summer variations, as well as having winter and summer PE Kit, and swimming kits too. With my two constantly losing uniform (or having it pinched as with one of Littlest's shirts last year after swimming- everyone else came back in a shirt, by the time he got to the stage of putting his on there were no shirts left in the changing room, and we never got the worn once item back), we always buy extra when it's easy to buy cheaply from the supermarkets.

I stamped well over 50 items, and the pad barely looks like it has a dent in it. Its just the right size for the stamp pad too so you don't end up using too much and smudging the name on the label.

The white pen was also handy for some labels which had big logos and writing on them, as well as inside shoes and trainers that tend to have darker insoles. You simply shake it and dab it on. Leaving to dry for a few minutes means you can carry on stamping until its ready and then stamp straight over it.

It was so simple, and the result is really pleasing and clear or the child to look at it and know it's their stop, skirt or PE Kit. It also meant no sewing, no achy hands (I have arthritis in my fingers so sewing can be a right pain to that), and no burning my fingers either.

Of course, like most things they will no doubt fade after several washes, but for ease of use and being as stress free as they are, Stamptastic can't be beaten. Bearing in mind most Infant and Junior age kids will grow out of uniform after a year, so the fading wont matter too much.

You can buy Stamptastic stamps, ink pads and white pens, as well as other innovative items such as birthday and Christmas gift tag stamps at their website. The standard name strips are perspex and durable, and cost £10 each, whilst the white pen costs £4.99 and the ink pad £12.00.

£12.00 may seem a little on the expensive side but it's worth remembering this is not the same ink as you can buy in stationers, or that we got in sets as kids. Compared to name tags that are cheaper, the stamp sets will last for much longer and the fact it takes an annoying task and makes it take less than half the time I think its well worth it.

We can't recommend them enough.