Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas Gift Guide - Personal Planner Review

I was very excited when I was contacted by the lovely people at personal planner, especially as they were already on my Christmas list.

See there's that word, LIST, I love a list, at home I have a kitchen blackboard for meal planning, a hall blackboard for the kids activities, I have to do lists, shopping lists and task lists for the house! Give me a spreadsheet and I'm a happy girl. I sometimes think that all the organisational skills I used at work have manifested themselves into my home now that I'm a sahm.

So as soon as I had 5 minutes without children (well as soon as they were all asleep) I was logged on to and creating my new book. It's dead easy, step by step you are guided through choosing all the different options, front cover, back cover, page colour, personalising the pages with lists etc, adding birthdays and special dates, then choosing your back sections. You can have future years displayed, lined or squared paper, even music sheets, maps or colouring pages. I, like many of my mummy friends, chose the colouring pages. What can I say the kid in me was excited at the option to have something to colour in! 

I chose the large size as it's the same dimensions as Termites baby health record book so will sit nicely in my changing bag. I also love photo gifts so the obvious choice was to have my two current favourite pictures as the front and back cover. 

You even get to choose what colour elastic you want, to hold your book closed. Inside there's a sheet to put your details in case the planner gets lost and a plastic pocket for storage of paper etc, although mine is used for my pen.

For my weekly lists I have, Preschool, To Do, List of the Week and Idea of the week. I love that I have enough space to list my household chores, appointments, activities, and blog ideas each day plus have special lists as well! It's like an organising junkies dream.

The planner took around ten minutes to create, I didn't add birthdays as I like to write everything myself, plus I have alarms in my phone for everyone's birthday. Delivery took less than a week and my planner arrived at my door in a lovely box. 

I love this planner and I think it would make a great gift for anyone but mums especially will appreciate how helpful it is for family life. The photos are nice and clear and the pages are lovely quality thick paper.

I'm sad to say both my husband and children have had their mits on MY book Termite as you can see 'needed' to colour one of my pictures. And I shan't go into the display of vandalism that was my husband SCRAWLING a telephone number across Christmas week!! 

I can't think of any negatives to this it really does tick all my boxes, and box ticking,as you may have guessed, is one of my favourite things!

If you'd like to win a personal planner those lovely folks have given me a digital code that one of you lucky lot can redeem against any size planner. Simply fill out the raffle copter options below and a winner will be drawn on 8th December. Please be sure to fill out all your entries correctly, as incomplete entries can't be included in the draw. 

Personal Planner sent this item to review free of charge but all opinions are our own. 

Competition T and C's apply.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Brilliant Baby Wipes

I've just removed my makeup with a baby wipe (yes my Clarins lady would be itching to smack my hand for this sacrilidge but they were handy and efficient) it's probably the tenth thing I've cleaned today with them! They are so versatile and easy to use, always to hand and I've got packets in almost every room and in the car.

Pampers Sensitive Maximum Care wipes

Today's uses have been

  • Dusting the tv unit
  • Cleaning the baby sick from the arm of the sofa
  • Claning the baby sick from my t shirt before the school run (hanging head in shame but I know you've all done it!)
  • Wiping pasta sauce from  The Golden Child's face and hands
  • Cleaning Pasta Sauce off a Sweatshirt!
  • Taking the mucky hand prints off the light switches
  • Cleaning peanut's school boots
  • Cleaning the whiteboard

So I'm starting a meme to see how many different uses we can find for baby wipes I'm tagging

Kate from Family Fever
Chantelle from Mama Mummy Mum

Let's post our blog links on twitter when we've listed with #wonderfulwipes and see what we come up with. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Results Are In

Nursery Trader Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards

We recently took part in the testing for Nursery Trader  Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards and the results are in.

We tested two categories, Disposable Nappies and British Design and Made. My most favourite items to test were Tots Bots 

  I was however very surprised at the differences between the different disposables. I will be writing a review of the items we tested very soon.

Ive really enjoyed taking part in the testing but cant imagine the work that has gone on behind the scenes coordinating deliveries and results and compiling data from around 100 testers, phew I'm exhausted just thinking about it

The Perils and Pitfalls of Property

A short while ago Spartacus and I found a bargain property for sale locally, after much discussion we decided that as part of our pension fund it would be a great investment and so we put in an offer. This was quickly accepted but at no point during our dealings with the estate agent did they mention any serious structural problems. One week and £380 later we were informed that we wouldn't be given a mortgage because of a host of issues, no fitted bathroom and no fitted kitchen along with some structural issues. Out of pocket but thankfully armed with the knowledge that we had not bought a money pit, we were cross to find out that we had been the fourth set of buyers to employ a surveyor and infact the estate agent knew the results of the previous 3 survey which had all said the same.


This whole situation left us feeling a little angry but on discussion with other home buyers we feel like we have had a lucky escape, at least our surveyor found the faults. Some people have been affected terribly by surveyors negligence, not discovering until properties have been bought that there are serious problems that need fixing, dry rot and subsidence can be costly and worse still dangerous if left unresolved. We ourselves have had a 'drive by survey' during a recent remortgage.A practice which it seems is more common than you would think, this practice means valuations are being placed on property's based on age and surrounding area, unfortunately this method can't possibly highlight any areas for concern for example older electrics or evidence of copper piping or inadequate cavity wall ties.

In our experience and in my humble and non professional opinion, if you find yourself looking at property to buy always use an independent chartered surveyor, a list of which can be found on RICS

Sponsored post

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Christmas Crafting

This morning saw the eagerly awaited arrival of our Godmother, and she came bearing gifts from Hobby Craft. The thing I love the most about this situation is she is fully prepared to roll up her sleeves and oversee the crafting chaos.

The kids had lots of fun painting money boxes.

Then they moved on to spoon puppets

and that's where it started to spiral...., you see when kids (well certainly my kids) hear the word puppet they think of puppet shows. Peanut suggested she might use a box to 'build a stage'. No finer words could be said to Mummy and the Godmother! Soon enough there was cutting and sticking and box rearrangement happening 

Within half an hour we had cut rectangles from the front and back of a medium box then stuck it onto another to form a base, mummy's sewing box scraps and sewing machine had been put to use to make curtains and Peanut was using some old packaging to make 'snowy hills'. 

And then there was the show

Friday, 22 November 2013

A to Z of Me

 This super Meme has been doing the rounds and the lovely Chantelle from Mama Mummy Mum tagged me in it. So here is a list of things you may not know about me.....

A - Adverts, I hate watching them especially cash til pay day adverts.

B - Blackberries, one of my favourite fruits

C - Children, my 3 little monkeys make me very happy

D - Dog Poo, or rather dog poo in the street, oh this makes me angry  if you can't pick it up YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE A DOG

E - Eggs, I like mine poached in tomatoes

F - Friends, I care a lot and worry a lot about my close friends, it's the born worrier in me. They are referred to as my 'urban family' 

G - Grandparents, we grew up very close to our Nana so I place real importance on my monkeys spending time with their grandparents.

H - Holidays, oh how I love going on holiday, I love looking for them, booking them, planning them, packing for them.... Just about everything about them makes me smile

I - Ice cream, I have recently discovered a quick and easy recipe for home made ice cream and it's delicious, I don't think I can eat shop bought again! 

J - Jelly on the plate, you know the song my kids have all loved this long especially the last verse. 

K - Keys, or rather lost keys. I can never remember where I put mine it drives Spartacus bonkers.

L - Love, just one word but I think we should all share a bit more love, just tell someone you love them or something you love about them, it makes a real difference in someone's day.

M - mammy, mamma, maaaaaaaaaam, all variations on what I hear all day.... And I love every single way my kids address me! 

N - Nighttime Kisses, you know the ones you sneak late at night when you are on your way to bed, the one when you do that final check and tuck the kids in and pop a kiss on their sleeping heads? That's one of my favourite things.

O - Octanouts, Barnacles, Kwazi and Peso (yes I'm typing this with the tune in my head) this is my sons favourite show at the moment. 

P - Prejudice, I really just don't understand prejudice, how boring would the world be if we weren't all different and unique. Everyone one of us deserves to be treated with respect and equality.

Q - Quiet Time, something we try to encourage very day.... We don't always succeed but it's important to try.

R - Red, my favourite colour. 

S - Seaside, I love spending time at the sea side, even in the winter there is something renewing and energising about sea air.

T - Tea, yes I'm a tea drinker I love it.

U - Umbrella I miss mine, I hate that there is no real solution to staying dry with a pushchair 

V - Vintage, oh 50's dresses and glamour how I would love to have the time and figure to be a glamorous 50's housewife 

W - Welly boots, I never imagined I would appreciate anything as much as I do my Wellies! Such a lifesaver on the school run.

X  - Xylophone, perhaps the best and worst toy we own, lovely when played with nicely but oh my the headache when it's just bashed.

Y - Yassu, this is how they say hello in my favourite place, Crete

Z - ZZZZZZZZ's something I would like more of.

So now to find out more about....

Colette from We're Going on an Adventure

"We're going on an adventure . . . "

Meet Smelf

Smelf is our 'Elf On The Shelf'

If you've not heard of this idea before basically it's some fun for the grown ups, and a tool to bribe your children.

A tradition started in America The Elf works for Santa and comes to stay in December watching over the children and reporting back! 

The elf also gets into mischief, or does things in the night .... So perhaps the kids will wake up and find the elf has hidden in their school shoes or made some muffins, basically you grown ups just move the elf about doing anything you want.

I'm looking forward to having some fun with 'Smelf' this December and I shall be reporting back to keep you all updated. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Joie Juva Travel System

I've said it before and I'm sure I will say it again 'I am a pramaholic' so I like to keep my eyes peeled for good deals. Argos is one of my favourite places to find special offers and they have lots of travel systems and pushchairs available .

The Joie Juva retails at £99.99  and is advertised a full travel system suitable from birth

Pushchair features:
  • Weight 5.35kg.
  • Suitable from birth to 4 years.
  • Suitable for children up to 15kg.
  • Multi recline positions.
  • Forward seat.
  • 5 point harness.
  • Lockable front swivel wheels.
  • Handle height 99cm.
  • Dual wheel suspension.
  • Linked brakes.
  • Adjustable leg rest.
Pushchair folding specifications:
  • 1 hand flat fold.
  • Freestanding when folded.
  • Folded size L97, W46, D28cm.
Pushchair accessories included:
  • Raincover.
  • Shopping basket.
  • Bumper bar.
  • Detachable hood.
Infant carrier features:
  • Group 0 plus.
  • Suitable for birth to 13kg.
  • Rear facing.
  • For use with 3 point seat belts.
  • Side impact protection.
  • 3 point harness.
  • Harness sleeves, quick release buckle 
  • Hood
  • Weight 2.13kg.

So what are you getting for your money 

  • Pushchair
  • Car seat
  • Rain cover
  • Instruction books

The car seat is a stage 0 suitable from birth to 13kgs it fits into cars using the car seat belt or with a base which is sold separately. It comes in black and has a hood and 3 point harness, it also attaches to the pushchair making it easy not to disturb a sleeping baby whilst transferring them from car to pushchair. 

The pushchair is again black and has four  wheels, the front wheels swivel, a foot operated brake. It has a single handle a retractable hood and a fully reclining seat with 5 point harness.

I'm not normally a fan of this style of pushchair, I'm always concerned that a lightweight pushchair won't be sturdy enough for us, but I have to say it offers great value for money, and comes with a host of great features.

The pushchair  was easy to assemble, all that needed doing was to click the wheels on, then attach the hood and the belly bar. 

The recline is easy to use there's a toggle at the back to slide down adjusting the seat back to the desired angle and you simply pull apart the strings and the toggle slides back up returning the seat to its upright position.

Attaching the car seat is a little more complex, first you click the car seat into place on the bumper bar with baby facing parent, you then un-hook the pushchair straps and  slide part of  the pushchair strap through the belt loops of the car seat. I found this quite fiddly and it didn't fit with the ease of use that the rest of the pushchair boasts.

The pushchair folds really easily with the squeeze of a button on the handle and, brilliantly, the folded pushchair is reasonably small and stands independently. It's so easy you can fold with one hand and the whole thing is very light meaning its easy to carry making this a great public transport pushchair.

The rain cover fastens around the handles and above the wheels to ensure a secure fit and provides lots of space although it doesn't cover all the back panel so my concern would be if the seat were fully reclined then then heavy rain could wet through the back panel.

There is  a reasonably sized basket under the seat and the break is easy to operate and passes my 'flip flop' test!

What we love 

The price is great
The fold is easy and neat
Its lightweight
The recline means baby can sleep comfortably
The brake is good and is easy to operate
The push is smooth 

Areas for improvement

In our opinion both the car seat and pushchair could do with more padding, we've added a really thick footmuff to offer more comfort as there isn't much cushioning. This is the one thing I think could offer a touch of luxury to a great budget pram. 

The car seat has only a 3 point harness and I prefer 5point.

The hood on the car seat is not very structured and is either on or off with no degrees of recline.

I like an adjustable pushchair handle but I'm really grasping at straws here the pushchair may not be dripping with modern design and on trend style, but it looks good, does what it's built for and is a brilliant budget buy. 

Overall I would give this pushchair 7/10.

This is a collaborative post in association with Argos

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Travelling with 3 children

We've just returned from a lovely weekend in Dublin but man alive have I picked up some tips for easier and less stressful travelling. We enjoy travelling and we've been on a lot of family holidays but this was our first trip as a family of 5. 

This is what we had to get through the airports...,

1 pushchair
2 adults 
3 children
4 pieces of hand luggage
5 lots of hats, scarves, and gloves. 

I won't lie it was a stressful, tiring and sweat inducing experience! So here's what I learned .....

Travel as light as possible
packing and unpacking on the way out and back is time consuming and a pain so make a list and take only the bare minimum

Keep hand luggage to the minimum 
There really is no easy way to carry a baby, hold the hands of two toddlers, carry two suitcases one baby bag and a rucksack, and get up the airplane steps and along a teeny aisle with only 4 hands between you. So my honest tip would be to pack in hand luggage only what you need for the journey and check the rest in, even if you need to pay.  If you can say goodbye to it before the stress of security I promise you are in for a much smoother experience which in my humble opinion is worth the €40.

Prepare for security checks

Taking off the coats of two toddlers, folding a two part pushchair, separating iPads from other luggage, emptying pockets and then trying to remove knee length boots whilst holding a baby (because in my wisdom I'd sent the husband through X-ray with the eldest two!) and then doing it all in reverse is stressful enough but add an audience of similarly harassed people and unsympathetic security staff and you have a fully flustering situation. Next time I will be wearing shoes that don't need to be removed, I will have empty pockets and I will have had the kids remove their coats  before there are hundreds of people looking at us in impatience! 

Think about your pushchair

Ryan air ask for you to leave your pushchair at the front steps of the plane, this means folding a pushchair whilst holding a baby and hand luggage and stopping toddlers wandering off onto the runway. With a two part pushchair this is a nightmare so my advice is find a pushchair with an easy fold. We loved our Baby Jogger City Mini and missed it so much during this trip that we have come home and ordered a new one!!

Leave Plenty of Time

Leave Early , get to the airport with time to spare, it's not ideal to keep toddlers in an airport longer than necessary but as you can see you need plenty of time to do everything and the last thing you need is a frantic dash down the departure terminal with toddlers and a pram!

Most of all try to enjoy yourself 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Ozeri kitchen scales review

I'm a bit of fan of baking,  even more now that I've succumbed to watching The Great British Bake Off! But I'm also a list checker and rule follower so I like to ensure I follow a recipe accurately when it comes to baking cakes. This to me means three things, I need good scales, lots of bowls so everything is ready to go, and a timer so I'm spot on.  Well no one wants a soggy bottom or a mushy muffin do they? 

So with the husbands 40th birthday looming I set to work in the kitchen using my new Ozeri kitchen scales, now these boast the ability to weigh in various units and also have a timer. So I was excited to see if I could throw away my dodgy mechanical scales and old kitchen timer... 

These scales are easy to use, everything is fairly clear and a unit change from ounces to grammes, pounds or kilogrammes is a simple push of a button, and resetting to zero is another button. They weigh up to 12lb and switch themselves off after 3 minutes so no fear of me running the batteries down because of my mummy brain!

In no time at all we had our ingredients weighed and ready for action very soon we would be looking at a beautiful Bero Recipe chocolate cake..

The scales are large enough to hold most bowl sizes and still enable a good view of the screen, yet small enough that they don't take up loads of space in the cupboard.

The instructions are easy to follow and so the timer was easy to set with just a couple of buttons and it can count up or down, with an audible, visible or combined alarm. Overall I have no bad points to mention, these are great value scales and do exactly what they are supposed to with the benefit of also having an in built timer.

I'm quite impressed and will be looking at investing in other Ozeri products, I especially have my eye on their beautiful looking cookware. You can fins Ozeri on Facebook

Back to the cake, I can tell you it tasted fabulous but after allowing a 3 and 4 year  old decorate it, well I won't be winning star baker! But there was a lot of pride here in monkey towers!

Ozeri kindly sent us these scales to review but the opinions in this post are all those of Family Monkeyfeet.