Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Thanks a bundle...

Just a quick post to let you know that we have been chosen as Bundle Bean Brand Ambassadors! We can't wait to receive our parcel and get started and we will also have a discount code to share with you very soon! 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Just to appdate you...

Honey is still at the age where a turn on Mummy's iPad is a real treat. She absolutely loves iPlayer Kids and is a pro at exploring CBeebies Playtime Island, so when KidoLand got in touch to offer her a 6 month subscription, her answer was a resounding (and very polite) WOW, YES PLEASE! 

I downloaded the app and sorted out the settings (3-4 age group selected,repetitive background music = OFF) then handed the iPad to Honey. She immediately started to navigate her way around the user friendly interface, exploring different sections and excitedly showing us what she had found. There are countless nursery rhymes and educational songs, games to help little ones practise their colours, shapes, letter formation and more, as well as stories which the children can either read to themselves or hear read aloud by a narrator.

Mummy likes...
  • Age appropriate content for 1-5 years. Content can be narrowed down for younger children.
  • Well organised content, making it easy for children to navigate between games, stories and songs independently. 
  • No ads so I don't hear "please get this off Mummy" every 5 minutes. 
  • Playlist creator to keep all Honey's favourites together.
  • Downloadable content for car journeys, camping trips or other non wifi situations (no wifi, whoooo?) 

Mummy says...
  • The music over the top off the 'read to me' stories is a bit loud. Having said that, this didn't bother Honey.
  • This is an American app so some of the vocabulary and the accent used reflects this.
The app itself is free, but you can choose from a menu of subscriptions which gives you access to the full content. Download the app from the Apple, Google or Amazon app stores and get in touch if you'd like Honey to give you a tutorial!

* Although we were kindly gifted a 6 month KidoLand subscription for the purposes of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Honey wears... Flamingo jumpsuit by Next

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Brummy Mummy...

If you were a teen in the 1990's, chances are you went to The Clothes Show Live at least once. It was the best! Cheap clothes, crazy fashion shows and loads of opportunities to take selfies with pop stars and models, way before selfies were a thing! Fast forward to 2017 and The Clothes Show's target audience is now mid-late thirties and a large proportion have started families and haven't got time to browse 342 colours of hair mascara and try out 25 different kinds of hair straighteners! 

What Mums do have time for however, is baby stuff. Buggies, carriers and cots. Baby clothes, car seats and bibs. Weaning equipment, bubble bath and toys. All this and much, much more can be found under one roof at The Baby Show held at The NEC in Birmingham. Well played NEC, well played!

You still get fashion shows, though the models are now pushing buggies and rocking the latest in maternity wear rather than roller skating down the catwalk in hot pants (that was a good year). There are still plenty of famous faces to see on stage but these days, they're telling their birth stories and giving weaning advice rather than taking part in dance mat and karaoke competitions (also a great year). Perhaps most importantly, you can still shop! We spotted some great offers from some brilliant brands and picked up everything on our list and inevitably, more! 

One of the highlights for us was getting to see Cheltenham's very own Suzanne there with her fabulous brand Nom Nom Kids. I felt like Biggie (Trolls) and wanted to shout out "I KNOW HER!" The stand looked amazing and the Nom Nom ladies fitted right in amongst some huge brands and easily held their own.

Another highlight were the amazing feeding and changing areas sponsored by Aldi. When Ace needed changing, I headed over to the changing village where I was swiftly asked what size nappy I needed then showed to a fully stocked changing table. There was no rush and there was even a nappy bin and a sink for why you'd finished! The feeding area was equally as fantastic, with a range of free baby food and drink (including snacks) and plenty of seating for big and little people. Ace also loved the V-Tech play area and had a good boogie to all the toy sounds!

If you're thinking of going along, the last day is tomorrow so you need to act fast! My top tips would be:
- If you book tickets online, you will either need to print them at home or head to the ticket office to have them printed when you arrive (you may have to queue).
- If you just fancy popping along for the end of the day, you can get in for £5 after 3pm.
- Wear your baby if you can as some areas got very crowded and therefore buggies had difficulty getting through.
- If you're planning a big purchase, consider using the Emma's Diary shop and drop service.
- Take advantage of the free changing area. It's so clean and the tables are the perfect height. There are loads of tables so you won't have to queue for long, if at all!
- Head to the Tesco area for a free goody bag containing fab items for baby and you. There was a queue each time they were on offer, but the contents are worth waiting a few minutes for if you're not in a rush!
- Parking is expensive but there is a free shuttle bus to and from the car park and you can either pay on the day or book your parking online if you book before midnight tonight.     
- If you're looking to try different types of bottles but don't want to spend a fortune, both Mam and Nuby are offering a free bottle and dummy if you sign up to their mailing list.

Ace and I had a lovely day and I'd definitely go again, even though I didn't get my photo taken with any pop stars!

Ace wears... Pink top by Make Your Marque

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Melody Mamas...

I love Glee, High School Musical, Pitch Perfect, Smash, in fact any programme or film with singing and dancing has me hooked. I also love karaoke, I LOVE it! I'm a huge fan of belting out a pop song in a pub over a dodgy backing track, it's just the best thing ever! What I didn't expect to do though, was to join a choir. Other people singing with me? No microphone? Really? 

I should say at this point that I can hold a tune but I am by no means 'a singer' but having been assured that it didn't matter, I decided to go along and see what Melody Mamas was all about.

Held on a Monday afternoon at St Paul's Church in Cheltenham, Melody Mamas is run as part of Miniature Music, by Frankie who has two children of her own and wanted to offer other mums the chance to sing together without having to worry about childcare.

So far, we've learnt a few warm ups and begun to tackle a range of different songs, even including some harmonies and if I do say so myself, we sound pretty good! We have even had some press coverage!

The children have been amazing so far, the age range spans from a few weeks old up to pre school age and they have played together brilliantly. Mums are nearby to supply snacks, drinks and cuddles as required and can rest assured that nobody will mind if their child is a bit noisy or needs changing/feeding in the middle of a song.

You can find out more about Melody Mamas by visiting the Miniature Music Facebook page. See you at regionals!

Honey wears... Biker boots by Clarks Shoes

Monday, 24 April 2017

Pop goes the Maman...

Cheltenham Maman HQ has done it again! She's brought a fabulous event to our very own town. Maman Goes Pop is a pop up market rounding up Instagram's finest, local offerings and housing them all under one roof. Taking place at The Wilson all week, head along to take part in a range of activities (online booking essential) or to purchase some gorgeous gifts or a treat for yourself. 

We went along and joined a fabulous story session with The Little Top ladies, which both the Mummy and the teacher in me were super impressed with! Dressing up - check! Craft - check! Story making - check! Digging deeper - check! Honey and Ace both had a great time.

I also browsed the gorgeous stalls and have come away with a list of wants that I am now scaling down until I'm left only with needs... you can guess how that's going! 

Honey wears... Striped dinosaur top by Mini Boden
Ace wears... 'Super' sweatshirt by Next

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Wild Thing...

Ace was one last Sunday so we decided to have a day trip to The Cotswold Wildlife Park. We left way too early as I'd checked the Sat Nav on a Monday morning which added another half an hour to the journey, but it turned out to be for the best as Ace slept all the way there and for an extra 20 minutes while we had a drive around Lechlade!

We paid online the night before (you save £1 per ticket), gave our reference number when we got to the gate and then we were quickly ushered into a space in the large, free car park. We stuck around the Walled Garden area at first so it would be easy for later arrivals to find us and there was loads to keep us occupied. Honey was mesmerised by the penguins being fed and Ace fell in love with a little monkey (finally, a pet I'd actually consider). Spot the sloth was fun in the tropical house and all the children stood watching the giant fish in the wishing pond for ages!

Once everyone had arrived, we set off into the main park. The play area was a huge hit with all the children (ages ranged from 6 months to 12 years) so we spent quite a long time there while some of the group had a train ride or took a walk around the reptile house. 

We had lunch at the onsite cafe which offered huge portions of homemade deliciousness such as lasagne, Chilli con carne and soup and all at reasonable prices. The huge windows allowed us to watch the train as it passed and overlook the farm area so Honey could plan what to look at next. Ace enjoyed eating my chips and lasagne and conducted his own, impromptu cake smash after we sung Happy Birthday to him!

Ace had a great time meeting goats and climbing their rocks in the farmyard, he put his welly walking practise to very good use here! We were lucky to find the train unexpectedly open and rushed to make the last ride of the day. Honey absolutely loved seeing all the animals as we drove round and had to be reminded to sit down quite a few times as she was so excited! After the train, Honey was particularly interested in seeing the lions and giraffes close up so we followed the path round to their homes and also caught up with some of the others in our group.

By that time we had been there for around 6 hours and people had started to head home. We didn't all leave at the same time so we had to make a couple of trips to the car to hand over party bags and cupcake favours but I suppose the only alternative would have been to have carried them round all day which would have been really annoying! 

I'm yet to find the perfect kids birthday celebration solution, we've had small parties at home, bigger parties in the garden and a huge party in a local hall but I think this one was the best so far as people could choose to do their own thing then come back to the group and crucially, it took very little organising on my part! 

Honey wears... Rainbow wellies (preloved, brand unknown)
Ace wears...Dinosaur wellies by Next

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Have your cake and eat it...

Look at Ace's amazing  birthday cupcakes! 

We bought them from the fabulous Yippee Gluten Free, who are based in Abbeymead, Gloucester. Jen said she had great fun making the dinosaur decorations but I reckon Ace and his friends had way more fun eating them! 

Have a look at Yippee Gluten Free's Facebook page for more examples of Jen's awesome cakes, as well as her yummy savoury products, or follow them on Twitter to find out which food festivals they'll be attending and who stocks their products! 

Honey wears... Grey circles top by Gap Kids
Ace wears... 'Boy' top by Make Your Marque

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Baby Prints...

When Honey was tiny, we were kindly given some handprint kits to do at home. Unfortunately I was a bit scared to press down on her teeny, tiny, wriggly little hands and feet so the results were cute but nothing to write home about! I found Babyprints on Instagram in late 2016 and was amazed to see the level of detail achieved in their prints, so I was super excited when Honey and Ace were invited along!

We were warmly welcomed into the Babyprints office where Victoria explained that the process would be quick and painless for the children and showed Honey the special clay she would use. Both children were happy to let Victoria press down on their hands gently, yet with purpose and that was their part done! Easy! 

But here's where the work starts. After a few days drying, Victoria can begin casting, cleaning and picking out the details of your little one's hand or foot.  Then comes mounting, framing and annotating your prints and finally, securely packing them ready for you to collect! I was updated regularly throughout the creation process (which is estimated at 2-3 weeks) around and offered a sneaky peek of the finished article. 

The results are amazing! Each print is a truly individual work of art and an amazing reminder of a precious time in your little one's life. Here are our prints in their new home! Honey loves showing people 'what she made' and has tried to claim them for her bedroom but we're waiting until it's had a revamp so we can show them off properly. You can find The Babyprints Cheltenham contact information on their Facebook page or website along with plenty more examples of Vic's beautiful work.

*Although we were kindly gifted our Babyprints experience, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Pink tunic by Gap Kids
Ace wears... Dinosaur bib by Funky Giraffe
Photo credits to Oobaloos Photography and Babyprints Cheltenham

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Kito Baby...

One of my lovely neighbours has recently started her own business making and selling a beautiful range of teething jewellery. Kito Baby offers teething jewellery and accessories made from 100% non toxic, BPA free silicone beads, complete with a choice of gorgeous cord colours and breakaway clasps (just incase little hands get a bit overexcited)!

The range includes necklaces and keyrings named after the creator's daughter and her little friends but you can also request a custom order if you can't quite decide on something from the Etsy shop. This week, they have also launched a Mother's Day treat box and a teething survival kit which are sure to be big hits!

What stands Kito Baby apart from the rest, is the support it offers to Urafiki. Urafiki is a small but very special charity, supporting the education of precious children in Kenya. £1 from every Kito Baby sale goes towards enrolling children in school, feeding them and providing them with clothing. Such a generous gesture, especially from a brand new, small business.

After much deliberation, we chose to purchase 'Tilly' and were super impressed with the quality of the necklace, the eco friendly packaging and the overall presentation of our order.

We are really looking forward to seeing what's next for Kito Baby and wish them all the best with their new venture.

Ace chews... Tilly necklace by Kito Baby

Monday, 6 March 2017

Mummy and Me...

One of my wishes for Honey and Ace's first few years was to have loads of photographs to look back on. When I had to buy a new phone with a larger memory even though I had thousands of photos backed up on our various computers and hard drives, I knew I was on track to achieve my goal! The only problem is, that I have taken most of them so I'm not in them, does anyone else have the same problem?

If you're furiously nodding in agreement, then a Mummy and Me shoot at the Oobaloos studio is what you need! Sheryl works hard to achieve a series of beautiful photographs which perfectly encapsulate the love between a Mother and her child/children.

Dressed in neutral, comfy clothes, Honey and Ace took it in turns to crawl all over the studio while Sheryl moved around, using the natural light to capture their cheeky poses and smiles.

Then came the challenge of getting them to stay vaguely near each other while they had some pictures taken together (cue cries of 'reset' and 'stop climbing on your sister'). I love this shot because it shows how they so often are at home, playing separately but wanting to be near each other, it makes my heart burst!

After that, we all piled in and played 'catch Ace before he crawls off the edge', resulting in some gorgeous shots that sum up how we spend most of our mornings at home!

A quick costume change (into pyjamas, which Honey thought was really funny as it was 9:30am) for some storytelling and our 20 minute session was up. It doesn't sound long but I can assure you, it was perfect for those with the attention span of a 11 month old or a three year old and their wrangler Mummy!

I can't recommend Sheryl enough, she has provided us with so many treasured memories over the last few years and I'm sure she will be there to capture many more as Honey and Ace grow up! If you're still undecided about booking in, here's a short interview Honey and I conducted to help you get to know the lady behind the lens!

How did you come up with the idea for the Mummy and Me package?

Since I opened my Essence Studio I have been trying to work out the best uses for it. I'm not a big fan of plain backgrounds and flash lights, I always lean towards finding natural light. I designed my setup to be neutral, natural looking and not forced.

I asked a photographer friend to come and model with her 1 year old to see how it looked and was super pleased with the outcome (see Facebook post above). Non cheesy, natural engagement and connection. Perfect for my style so I designed the Mummy and Me package in time for Mother's Day.

The sessions are short and sweet. I shoot really fast as I know little ones have a teeny tiny attention span. I want to get the goods before the bottom lip and bribery comes in!

Haha, I totally know what you mean! Where would be your dream photography location?

My dream photography location is to actually shoot a family on a beautiful, sandy beach. I have photography friends all over the world and I get so jealous. Our nearest beach is Weston Super Mud. Need I say more?!

That would be amazing, if we ever win the lottery, we will definitely fly you out to far flung places to be our official holiday photographer! What's your favourite colour?

My favourite colour is purple.

Honey whole heartedly approves of that and says that purple looks nice next to pink! What's your favourite food?

My favourite food is bacon.

Honey is unsure about this one but Mummy now fancies a bacon sandwich! Do you like biscuits?

I love ginger nut biscuits.

Yum! What's your favourite flower?

My favourite flowers are gerberas. I had these in my wedding bouquet.

I've just shown Honey a picture of some gerberas online and she has pronounced them 'the most beautiful flowers in the whole world' and agrees that they're perfect for a wedding! What's next for Oobaloos?

World domination my friend. I adore shooting weddings all summer and catching up with my family shoots in spring and autumn. The female portraiture in The Essence Studio is new for me this year so I will be working hard on getting that nice and established.

So there you have it, watch out world, Sheryl is coming to get you! You can follow Ooobaloos in Instagram or head over to the Oobaloos Facebook page to book your session or to book one for someone else as a wonderful Mother's Day treat. I promise, you won't regret it! 

*Although we were very kindly gifted the Mummy and Me photoshoot experience, all thoughts and opinions in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Pink tunic by Gap Kids
Ace wears... Grey chinos by Next

Photo credits to Sheryl Fish of Oobaloos Photography

Pink Pear Bear

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Get the Party Started...

Planning a kids party? Imagine not having to trail round Poundland and wait for eBay deliveries which may or may not arrive in time (250 pink striped wedding sweet bags, i'm talking about you). If you're nodding now, why not take a look at Amberoos Party Supplies? Based in Northampton but able to courier to any mainland UK address, they offer a wide range of children's hampers, giftsparty decorations, tableware and pre filled party bags. Prices range from just £1 per small bag up to £15 for a children's wedding activity pack (amazing idea, my daughter was given one at her Aunt and Uncle's wedding and felt very special as well as being kept occupied for ages). 

I was particularly interested in the party bags and boxes, I always seem to end up with a drawer full of leftover bubbles and bouncy balls and I really don't cope well with clutter! The bags and boxes come in a wide range of colours and contain a variety of party favours which can be tailored to your theme and age group. 

Every single thing that came out of the bags made Honey say "wow", "awesome" or (randomly) "this is even better than a bonfire"... Glitter tattoos, stickers and punch balloons went down particularly well and she was so excited when she realised that one of the boxes had "everything I need to be a pirate!" Ace loved the noisy toys and wandered round proudly clutching them for ages.

I was impressed to find some party favours that the recipients will be able to use again and again, things like character pencils, erasers, a cute, travel sized colouring book containing its own wax crayons and tiny musical instruments. Both the bags and boxes are spacious enough for you to add the all important slice of cake and are sturdy enough to be reused e.g. for storing puzzles until they're ready for recycling (mini environmental five)!

So whether it's your first, eighth or twentieth kids party, why not give yourself (at least) one less thing to think about and let Amberoo's do it for you! Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates.

*Although we were given a range of party bag samples, into order to be able to write a review, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Ballerina pyjamas by Gap Kids
Ace wears... Lumberjack shirt vest by Gap Kids