Thursday, 11 June 2015

Great Gizmo's Mini Stencil set

We recently received a mini stencil set from the amazing Great Gizmo people.  I love their products, they are so creative.

We received the Meadow Kids Mini Stencil (3+) which says it is aimed at boys. Personally, I would say it is unisex as the stencils have shapes, dinosaurs and various animals in them.


This little set is great for travelling as the box is sturdy and all the items (stencils, pencils, envelopes, paper) fit neatly in two drawers.  It's a lovely use of space.

The boys were too excited to let me take pictures, they couldn't wait to open it and start drawing.
boys couldn't wait to open this!













As there is a special day for Father's coming up in a few weeks, Joshua wanted to create a card for his daddy. It was really sweet.  Even though he had spent the day at school and had a swimming lesson, he was still eager to do this with no moaning! (He usually wants to plonk himself on the sofa and watch the ipad!)

When you open the box, the contents: 

1 booklet of mini stencils (which included sea life, farm animals, wild animals, circus shapes, common shapes, letters & symbols)
5 colouring pencils
6 cards and envelopes
1 pencil sharpener
1 design booklet.

These are all laid out in two drawers: 

The boys got busy selecting their stencils.  I initially thought it would be hard to share one stencil book between two children, but the stencil pages come out easily and can be put back easily too.
I also thought, the stencils would break quite easily, as the plastic looked quite flimsy but again, I was wrong (I won't say that too often!). 

The boys spent some time creating their cards and decorating.  Choosing "which stencil would daddy like".  It was lovely seeing them work together. 

 


Joshua created a lovely card for his daddy and has put a secret message inside (even I haven't seen it). He has sealed it in the envelope and hidden it so he can give it to his daddy.  (His daddy loves sharks, has even swan with them, in case you are wondering why he has selected the shark!)
 

There will be happy faces all around when Father's Day comes.  

This stencil set is great for all children.  I was even getting involved. The stencils are great for improving writing ability, using imagination and generally being creative.  It was also lovely to see the boys communicating together to create something wonderful.

The stencil set costs £11.95 and this is a great buy for something that will keep the children entertained for hours.


Disclaimer: I was sent this product to give an honest review. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

WWF toy range from Great Gizmos

We are huge animal lovers in our household.  We love toys and games. We support the World Wide Fund for Nature ("WWF").

Combine all of that and what do you get?  Amazing WWF toy range from Great Gizmos.

We were sent two toys; a Miombo Tumble Tower, aimed at 3+ years, and a 1000 piece jigsaw, aimed at adults.  I was happy to receive something that I could play with for hours, for once! 


This game is based on the popular tower blocks falling game. BUT, it takes it one step further!


Each block is made from FSC wood from well managed forests and features patterns from Africa's Miombo woodlands including a giraffe, zebra and cheetah. There are 48 wooden blocks in each tub. I have to comment on how sturdy and well-made these blocks are. The sides and edges are smooth, so great for little (and big!) hands, no cuts or splinter worries. Even the box is beautifully made AND carries the WWF logo.

 

The aim of the game, once the tower has initially been made, is remove each piece carefully without letting the tower fall AND place the piece back on the top of the tower. A dice is thrown which determines which type of block can be selected (cheetah, giraffe, zebra, WWF panda logo or a blank piece). It really means you have to think hard for the whole game. It is loads of fun.

As it is so well made, this game will last for many years. Many years of enjoyment, whilst helping the WWF. What a winning combination!

This games retails at £21.95. It is quite pricey but you need to realise it does tick all the boxes:
  • Fun game
  • Thinking game
  • Hand/eye co-ordination
  • Balance skills
  • Supports a worthy cause
  • Long lasting
  • Well made, good quality game
  • Storage - the container it comes in, is it's storage box too and it won't break after a few games
This is a winner in our house.  Not just for the children either, I love playing it!



I love puzzles.  The larger ones give you a little grown up thinking time, whilst relaxing. This puzzle is no exception. 


I was excited to start this puzzle.  Not only because I like puzzles, but because the picture were all relating to the world's big cats (my favourite!). I knew it was a challenge, but I was eager to start. 

Puzzles are infectious. You know once you open one and start, then people tend to come out of the woodwork somehow and start helping and then it becomes a great family event! That is exactly what happened here!

 It started with just me, then within about 15 minutes there were 4 of us working on it.

The pieces are quite small, so you really have to think about the picture and refer back to it all the time. It is challenge, but with all of us doing it, it was also fun.

It did take us quite some time to get the border done.  We still aren't finished, but we have vowed that every time we get together we will all have another crack at it again.  I'll post another picture of the finished puzzle.

Even my youngest attempted to help.  He actually did better than the adults!
This puzzle is retailing at £9.95, which I  think is a great price as the puzzle is really well made and also carries the WWF logo.

There are quite a few items within the WWF range from Great Gizmos. Click here to see them.  I think the whole range is great and it's also a bonus when you get something you can enjoy which also benefits a great cause.


Disclaimer:  I was sent these products to give an honest review. All opinions and views expressed are my own.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Five Guys burgers - 5 stars!

Hands up who loves burgers and fries?  I don't think there would be many who would say 'no'!

We love burgers, we generally make our own with fresh mince, but as tasty as they are they never have the same feel as 'proper' burgers.

Well, we had the opportunity to try 'proper' (you have to say it with that added emphasis on proper!) burgers at Five Guys' new store in Ealing, West London.

Five Guys is a burger/hotdog and fries fast food franchise which first opened as a family run business in Virginia, USA.  The popularity of the food grew so quickly that franchises across America and now the UK are opening up.

We visited the newly opened Ealing branch.  The decor has obviously stuck with the recognised white and red branding.


Upon entering the branch, we walked to the back of the store and a very helpful member of staff helped us select our food choices.  As we hadn't been to a Five Guys before (but had heard that the burgers were awesome!) the staff were particularly helpful.  They gave the children the time to choose their food, without rushing them, explained the menu, recommended favourites, even suggested not ordering extra chips as it will probably be too much!. I have to say, I was totally impressed.  Service like that is extremely rare.

Along with the burger choices, their are extra toppings you can choose from (which are totally free), like jalapeno peppers, grilled onions, relish, mayo, sauce, peppers etc etc). Just to make your mouth water even more!

At the counter you can see the open kitchen. Rows and rows of their famous Five Guys buns, which are thought to be sweeter and lighter than ordinary buns.

The staff don't treat your food like rubbish, they really take pride in their preparation. It's not just about churning them out but the whole experiece of 'The' burger!


Have I whet your appetite?!  Let's get to it.....

 

We ordered two hot dogs, one with bacon, one veggie burger, one bacon and cheese burger, one oreo cookies milkshake with added chocolate and whipped cream, one oreo cookies milkshake with added chocolate, one strawberry and bacon milkshake (yes, I did write that correctly, bacon) and one oreo cookies milkshake, one little [plain] fries and one cajun fries. PHEW! The staff even cut my youngest's hot dog in half so it was easier to eat!

All the hot food comes wrapped in foil, to seal in the moisture. The fries are made using peanut oil (so if you have allergies I'm afraid this isn't an option for you), but I have to say, that way of cooking makes the fries so different from the rest.  They are delicious, not too oily, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Pure heaven!

Now, I know you are probably wondering about the strawberry and bacon milkshake....here it is;


The milkshakes are big and thick, perfect consistency. The strawberry and bacon milkshake (th at was one that I raised my eyebrow at) was my hubby's choice. He was pleasantly surprised.  I refused to try it (as I don't like bacon), but I gave in.  It was actually really nice.  The fresh strawberries was the first taste and then right at the last second, just as you swallow you got the faintest hint of crispy bacon bits. In terms of taste combinations it is similar to a salted caramel (sweet/salt flavour).


My hubby said "this is the best burger I've ever had". My children were quiet for 20 minutes whilst they were devouring their hot dog and milkshake. My veggie burger was delish. The Five Guys are definately worth Five Stars! Only warning....take some wet wipes with you.....their is so much in your burger that you are bound to get a little dirty!

 


I have to also mention the complimentary peanuts.  These are flown in all the way from the USA.  I don't know how they do it but the salted peanuts are not only salty on the outside shell but on the inside. And, its not the same kind of salted peanuts we get here, they are soooo moorish! Don't fill up on these as you will miss your burger pleasure!



It's no wonder that Five Guys has an online cult following and remarkable brand loyalty!

I totally recommend, Five Guys.  Amazing burgers and exceptional service.  We are definitely going back.


Disclaimer: We visited Five Guys, Ealing to give an honest revie . All opinions and views expressed are totally my own.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The boys are running for fun, but for a reason

We are taking part in the Color Run this year. We wanted to do it last year but didn't get our applications in time.

Some of you may be wondering what the Color Run is, it is a 5km run where every 1km a coloured powdered dye is thrown over you.  So whilst you start the race in white, you finish the 5km covered in various bright colours.

My boys are young (6 years and 3 years old). They are so excited to be taking part. They have been practising running.  Joshua (my 6 year old) even beat me on the treadmill recently, running for 30mins...whilst I only managed 27 mins!.  (note to self, tell everyone I did that on purpose!)


These little fellas managed 2.95miles!
Our Color Run outfits!



Joshua ran for 30 mins! Run Forest!

Here are a few pictures of the boys practising, I'm so proud of them.  We are even fundraising for a local charity. So, if you think they are doing an amazing thing, please dig deep and sponsor them and their little feet!

https://www.justgiving.com/Joshua-Zain5kmcolorun

Forget ironing - trying steaming, it's great

When you are a busy, ironing is the most mundane and time consuming exercise.

I generally pile my ironing up to do in one go, so my Sunday evenings are spent ironing (for about 2 long hours!).  I don't enjoy it but we have to make sure the kids have their ironed school uniforms!.

Dragging the ironing board out, unravelling the iron cord, setting the whole area up. It's all a drag. I'm getting depressed just thinking about it!  But, I got to try out the handy little Elite Travel Steamer from Amazon. This is a powerful little unit and it really put a smile on my face.


The steamer is a portable travel steamer and works within 60 seconds. This steamer works on all fabrics.  Just hold it upright and the steam removes your creases on both sides of your garment. 

Steamer and travel bag

I was using it to iron my husbands shirts (which I NEVER iron as they take too long!).  I ironed the first shirt, and thought, this can't be right, it took me about 1 minute to iron his shirt. This is mainly because the steam works directly on the creases but also, you don't have to turn the shirt over to work on the reverse, saving you time and effort!

I loved the steamer, and I think my husband loves it even more as I've ironed 3 of his shirts for next week already!  He is a happy man!

I might throw my ironing board away too.  I've already decided to take this on holiday with us.  It's the perfect size and comes with a little travel bag.

I am a big fan of this little steamer.  For such a small product, it has great results, it's steaming great! :)


Disclaimer: I was sent this product to produce an honest review.  All opinions and views are my own


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mixing up our playtime with Magic Squares

Who doesn't love playtimes? That's right, no one!

We love our play times and play dates. Theses are the little precious moments in the day where we can all be a little carefree and have some fun.

Our play dates can consist of playing family games indoors when the weather is bad or playing in the garden when we get those even more precious sunny days! Either way, are play dates involve lots of laughing, messing about and probably a few tickle sessions thrown in!

We like mixing up our play dates, nothing is ever normal in our house. E.g indoor wheelbarrow races, wheelbarrow sessions up the stairs (yes, don't ask me why I allow it!), indoor basketball etc.  You can see we like to be as crazy inside as we are outside.

When we were asked to take up the #MagicSquaresPlaydates challenge by Petits Filous, we thought, who better to demonstrate how to mix it up than our crazy kids!

Strawberry & Vanilla (left)
Raspberry & Vanilla (right)

Firstly, let me tell you about the Petits Filous new Magic Square range. These are the  new flavoured yogurt by the No.1 kids yogurt and fromage frais brand.*

This new range is available in two flavours, strawberry & vanilla and raspberry & vanilla.  Yes, two flavours in one pot.  You may have seen the dessert pots they already have and the traditional individual pots, these seem to be a blend of the two concepts.


 
 The packaging gives you an indication of what you may see inside the pot. The criss-cross design illustrates the two different flavours within each pot (vanilla being the yellow flavour and red being the strawberry/raspberry flavour).

Once opened, you can see the yogurt looks very similar to the traditional petits filous. So children won't be discouraged to eat it.  Although, when I tried one of the pots I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was.  It really felt like an adult dessert.  Smooth and creamy, with a hint of a mousse like feel to it.  Basically, it didn't taste like a normal yogurt. I'm not sure whether that was to do with the actually recipe or maybe it was because of the combination of the two flavours.  It also didn't dry out the mouth like other yogurts or fromage frais.

My children were thrilled when they saw the pots.  Their eyes lit up, and there were plenty of gasps when the lids where taken off. As I mentioned, we like to mix things up and we happened to be out on the trampoline whilst there were a few good hours of sunshine.  We were actually going to play with the water pistols whilst jumping on the trampoline (it's a game where if they don't do the right sequence of jumps, turns and bounces they get sprayed by the water pistol!) It's a hoot!


But, as we had the yogurts to taste we decided to get the Magic Squares out whilst they were on the trampoline. They were so excited.  The game was to jump on the trampoline whilst trying to eat the Magic Squares.  I was envisaging it to get super messy, but the yogurt must have been so tasty as they didn't waste a drop of it whilst bouncing!

 

The children loved the pots.  The shape is great as it means they can get a grip properly without dropping any (which is great if they are jumping on the trampoline (!) ).

They loved the taste, even my youngest who generally doesn't eat that much yogurt, polished the whole pot off!

I personally, I think the pots could be a little but smaller for kids and maybe have a larger size for adults! (or can grown ups eat two children's pots?!)

The pots are great, and have the usual goodness of Petits Filous and are a winner in our household, with the children as well as the adults!

They are in all supermarkets and are a great price. RRP £2 for 4 pots, but at the moment there are offers in most large supermarkets.



“This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous.”