Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

The Smiggle Craze

A couple of months ago Oscar came home from School telling me that some of his friends had scented pencils from Smiggle and asked if he could have some too. I went online and ordered him a packet which he was thrilled about! He then took them into school. They actually smell really nice.

Since then we have visited Smiggle quite a lot. To be honest I get it, I love stationary and the different boys and girls ranges in Smiggle are lovely. I may even buy a few bits for myself. When you walk in the stores the staff are always so welcoming and the whole store is full of brightly coloured, sparkly stationary that every little boy and girl (and Mummy) would love!

Last weekend I got an email in my inbox telling me there was 20% so sat with Oscar to pick a few bits which turned into more scented pencils, a pencil case, boxing pens and scented highlighters. All of their stuff is reasonably priced too and with the sale on it was even better.

Then this week we went to St Albans to meet my friend for lunch and walked past Smiggle on the way to the restaurant, of course Oscar clocked it. On our way back past we ended up going in to the store and emerging a quarter of an hour later with yet another pencil case, water bottle, scented felt tips, pens and a wallet that Archie chose.

We are now well into the Smiggle craze and there are a few more bits Oscar wants to go back and get next week with his Easter money. I’m going to grab myself a sparkly notepad as well!

My Top Toys & Games To Take On Your Travels

With the holidays in full swing and only a couple of months until the Summer holidays I thought I wad write about the top toys and games that the boys love to take on our travels. From a long car journey in the UK for a few nights away or a flight abroad, when you have children keeping them entertained is crucial to a peaceful journey.

Archie is three so keeping him entertained is obviously a little harder at the moment then Oscar who is eight. So here are my top 10 toys and games to take on your travels……

Both the boys love arts and crafts and the Crayola Colour Wonder colouring books are great. They are completely mess free so great for in the car or on an aeroplane so they don’t accidentally get any pen anywhere. I also take them into restaurants on holiday for entertaining them at the table whilst waiting for our meals. Smyths Toys stock the books that come complete with the ‘magic’ pens and have an RRP of £6.49. I always keep a few of the books in the cupboard so I always have one when needed.

An obvious one is Lego. I always buy a couple of little boxes of Lego and Duplo before we go away. They are great for getting the boys to sit quietly in the shade for half an hour and build something.

Great-Nanny brought Archie a Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet which is fantastic. The tablet is £129.99 and comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee, 1 year of Fire For Kids Unlimited app download and a Kid-Proof Case, available in Blue, Pink and Yellow. For the money its a great deal and we have downloaded so many different apps. On my profile on it I have also downloaded Netfilx and some movies for Archie on Amazon Video. He loves it and plays little educational games on it, watches episodes of his favourite programmes and he likes having something like that of his own when Oscar is playing on his Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch is a great gaming console. We got it for Oscar for Christmas. It can be used at home in the playroom TV using the docking/charging station or as a handheld when out and about. The controls also detach from the device and using the inbuilt stand you can play against a friend using the device as a screen. He absolutely loves it and as he has never been into using an Ipad or a tablet likes to use his ‘screen’ time playing games like Mario Kart and Super Mario. The Switch is £279.99 and the games are around £40 each.

For an Easter gift Archie got the Masha and the Bear playhouse playset. He loves the programme and watches it on Netflix and we saw a TV advert for the playhouse and Archie really wanted it. He never asks for anything so we got it for him. Why it is on this list is because its nice and small and all fits inside it self and closes so you can take it on your travels. I didn’t know this when I ordered it but its brilliant and fits in my handbag!

Last year I brought some fantastic car road tape from We Are Kidly and stuck some on the aeroplane tray so Archie could play with his cars. I also used it on the sun lounger and on our hotel room floor. It comes off easily leaving no marks behind and the air hostess on the plane couldn’t believe how long it kept Archie entertained and what a genius idea it was. It is £11 for a roll and as well as road they also do a train track tape.

We love Orchard Toys and have tons of their games but they also sell different mini travel games for toddlers which are great. Archie loves playing games and doing puzzles so have mini versions to take away with you is a great idea. Oscar will join in too even if it is a bit easy/young for him.

Orchard Toys Animal Match Mini/Travel Game Orchard Toys Llamas in Pyjamas Mini / Travel GameOrchard Toys Little Bug Bingo Mini / Travel Game

When it comes to games Oscar loves Cluedo and Monopoly and games like that. But recently he has fallen in love with Top Trumps. We have a few sets of cards now, sports cars, predators and dinosaurs. They are the perfect size to fit in your bag and we take them to Nanny and Grandad’s on the weekend so they can play too. It is the perfect family travel game.

I hope you have found this useful and it’s given you a few ideas of how to keep your children entertained whilst traveling! Happy holidays!

All New PJ Masks Series 2 on Disney Jnr & Competition

Both Oscar and Archie love PJ Masks, in fact Archie’s 3rd birthday had a PJ Masks theme. They watch the episodes over and over again, but now the PJ Masks Series 2 is only less than a week away from bursting on to your screen and we have been lucky enough to preview the first two episodes! The boys loved them and they have watched them over and over again. Il be pleased when it’s on TV on Wednesday so I can reclaim my laptop.

The new series will be airing on Disney Junior this Wednesday the 28th March at 4.30pm with each new episode airing weekly after that on a Wednesday at 4.45pm. We can’t wait to see the rest of the series! It is not to be missed!

Episode 1, Moonfizzle Balls sees Lunagirl putting people in a trance with her Moonfizzle balls. The PJ Masks have to find and collect all of the balls but with Owlette and Gecko ending up in a trance too its up to Catboy to save the day.

Episode 2, Soccer Ninjalinos is where the Ninjalinos plan to splat the whole city. Can the PJ Masks save the city from the Night Ninja and the Ninjalinos?!

We were also kindly sent some PJ Masks goodies. Some party supplies to have our viewing party, a Catboy and Gecko mask each to wear and play, a blind bag with a PJ Masks figure in it to add to their collection, a 60 pc glow in the dark puzzle which Oscar really enjoyed doing as he’s really into puzzles at the moment and a carry along art set and stamp and sticker set where both the boys sat and drew some great PJ Masks pictures, using the pens, paints, stickers and stamps.

To watch the new episodes in comfort we were also sent an inflatable chair to sit in and the most amazing Catboy car shaped duvet which looks fantastic. As Archie has a double bed we gave it to his best friend Roman who absolutely loves his new bedding!

We love the PJ Masks party supplies, in fact Archie’s 3rd Birthday was PJ Masks themed and I brought lots of the party range. It’s fantastic. It is Archie’s favourite TV show.

I have also been given an amazing PJ Masks bundle to give away to one of my lovely readers. It includes an Owlette mask, Gecko plush toy, a selection of the party range and blind toy bag. Simply enter below to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck! And don’t forget to tune in on Wednesday at 4.30 on Disney Jnr.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

This post is in collaboration with PJ Masks UK

#Blogmas Day 2: Our Family Christmas Traditions

Our Christmas traditions start for us on the 1st of December when Oscar gets home from school and the fairies have brought our Christmas decorations. Our Christmas tree and decorations have always gone up on the 1st of December. When I was little my brother and I always woke up on the 1st to our tree and decorations and I can still remember just how amazing and magical that was and wanted to do the same for our boys. In their bedrooms they have snow globes and Christmas duvets and their stocking ready for the end of their beds on Christmas Eve.

When they wake up on the 1st the boys wake up and our two naughty Elves, Eddie and Ernie are back to stay with us until Christmas Eve and get up to lots of mischief. They bring Oscar and Archie a letter and come through the Elf door which must never be touched as the secret door leads back to Father Christmas so they can let him know how they are behaving. They always bring the boys their advent calender’s too. They each get a chocolate one and a toy one too.

On Monday we are going to see the big man himself at the Harrods Grotto. I always rush to book this in September/October as soon as I get my ‘You can book now’ email. We have been every Christmas since Oscar was born and I love getting the family photo taken every year. After we have been in the grotto Oscar and Archie always get to pick a Christmas tree decoration each and I always buy the Harrods Christmas Bear decoration too. We then walk around to Pizza Express for dinner. The boys love it and we get to see all of the Christmas lights around London on the drive home. Again this is something we did as children, going into London at Christmas to a big department store grotto.

We always put together and decorate a gingerbread house (I buy a kit) nearer to Christmas for everyone to enjoy on Christmas day. I buy loads of sweets and icing and we have great fun in the kitchen making our masterpiece. Its a really cheap and fun activity to do with the kids!

This year I have started a new tradition, a backwards advent. As Oscar is old enough to understand about charity and realises how lucky he is each day of advent we put something in our box each day, whether it be a toy, toiletries or food and on Christmas Eve we will take it to a food bank or charity collection for another family to enjoy at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we always go to Oscar and Archie’s godparents house and they make pork baps and we sing carols around the piano and the children all play and have a great time. They always have a fantastic 10 ft tree and its just such a lovely house full of Christmas cheer. This is why Oscar wanted to start playing the piano as our friends children had lessons and would play a song each. As Oscar has been having lessons this year he has been practising ‘Jingle Bells’ ready to play for everyone this year. He is really excited! We then go home, the boys bath and get into their pyjamas and then we leave a mince pie and a glass of milk for Father Christmas on their plates they made at a pottery cafe and a carrot outside for Rudolph and then off to bed.

Please comment and share with me your family Christmas traditions!

Merry Christmas!

 

Oscar’s Airfix Quick Build #QuickBuildTimeChallenge

Recently we were chosen to take part in Airfix’s #QuickBuildTimeChallenge. Oscar was super excited when our package arrived. Inside was a Airfix Quickbuild Hawk and a Lamborghini along with a stopwatch to see how long it took Oscar to build them. Previously when I think or Airfix models I thought of hows of building and glue and paint but not with the Quickbuild kits they are great for younger children that are old enough to want to build their own model independently.

The Quickbuild kits are for children aged 5 and over, Oscar is six so I was interested to see how he would get on building on his own and with the stop watch I have timed him which will give you a better idea of how easy they are and how long they really take…..

The pre-coloured pieces simply snap together, without glue or paints, to build an impressive model which can then be decorated with the included self-adhesive stickers. Plane models also come with their own display stand to show off your handiwork! The whole Quick Build range is manufactured in the UK and features some of the most iconic aircraft and vehicles ever constructed.

The instructions are easy to follow and Oscar has had great fun building them. He know wants to collect and build them all. There are 12 different models currently in the range and at only £12.99 they would make fantastic gifts. I have ordered a couple more to go in Oscar’s Christmas stocking.

Overall I am really impressed with the Airfix Quick Build range and it was nice to watch Oscar follow the instructions and build something all on his own. He was really proud of himself and they now have pride of place on his window sill in his bedroom.

 

 

Disclaimer: We were sent the above mentioned Airfix Quickbuild kits for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and my own and they are great!

SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix Review

With Christmas less than a month away and with your little ones writing their Christmas wish list for Father Christmas I know as a parent thinking of present ideas for grandparents and other family members often leaves me confused. I don’t want Oscar and Archie inundated with toys, I like them to get books or fun and educational toys too. SmartMax is the perfect present as they are award-winning magnetic construction system which allows children of all ages the chance to be creative, to learn and to explore the fascinating world of magnetism and most importantly, to have fun. So when we were asked to review the SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix I was really excited to see what the boys thought.

We were kindly sent The Playground XL play set and The Power Vehicles Mix play set. Firstly we got out The Playground XL which is a 46 piece set and straight away I loved that both Oscar and Archie could play with it together easily. Obviously having such a big age gap between the boys means that not many toys are great for them to play together with but all the pieces of the set were big enough for Archie who is almost two to play with as all the parts are bigger than 3cm and thereby don’t fit a child’s throat. The pieces are also great for building fine motor skills.

Archie was fascinated with the magnets sticking together, it made him laugh so much. Oscar sat and copied the playground on the front of the box and put it together easily without any help at all. They then sat for ages rolling the magnetic ball through with Archie catching it at the bottom. When Archie went to bed, Oscar sat and built different models with the pieces, allowing him to use his imagination and get creative. You can also purchase other SmartMax sets to your collection to build all sorts of fun creations!

The Playground XL set is absolutely fantastic and would make a fantastic gift this Christmas for all ages to enjoy!

The second set we were sent was the Power Vehicles Max. This set was perfect for Oscar as he loves cars! In terms of building them it was better for him as it challenged him a bit more then free play building. The set has 26 pieces in the box and once again all the pieces are big enough for Archie to use as well and are specifically designed for handling by children as young as one as they learn about the effects of magnetic attraction and repulsion. The coloured guide book is so easy to follow and Oscar had great fun sitting with Grandad and building the vehicles last weekend. Archie then enjoyed playing with the vehicles and pushing them around. Oscar quite liked that he had built something for Archie to play with, he was really proud which was so sweet.

The magnets are strong enough to carry up to 60 times their weight, so the building possibilities are endless. This set also helps improve visual thinking as you have to follow the instructions. You can build a bulldozer, a fire truck, a forklift, a tow truck, a pick-up truck or a van with this set. They are then fun toys to play with too.

The boys absolutely love their SmartMax sets and your children will love them this Christmas! It is great to have a toy that they can learn and have great fun with too. It is also a toy that will last as Archie has years of play left with them. Archie also walks around with two pieces and a magnetic ball and pretends its a microphone. I asked Oscar what he thought of the sets and he said “they are so much fun and fantastic!”

Disclaimer: We were sent the SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix to review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

Our Day At The Epson EcoTank #PrintingDory Event

Yesterday we went into London to the Epson #printingdory event to get hands on with the new EcoTank printer range at The Disney Store on Oxford Street. As Oscar broke up from school on Friday for the Summer he got to come along too and was so excited. We drove into London, parked up and walked round to the store and was shown upstairs to where the event was being held. When the lift doors opened we were greeted by a gorgeous brunch and drinks and Oscar was drawn straight to the photo booth basket of all of the characters in the new Finding Dory film which is released on the 29th July and we can’t wait to go and see it!

We were then given a short presentation from Leonie and Neil from Epson and Bobbi from Disney. So what are the new EcoTank printers all about? Epson’s new EcoTank range of printers features revolutionary refillable ink tank technology that offers an unbeatable combination of convenience and value for homes, home offices and small offices. You can now print without cartridges at a very low cost. Research showed that most people use around 70 ink cartridges over a two year period when using an old printer but now thanks to the Eco Tank way of printing when you buy a new EcoTank printer it comes with two years worth of ink which is up to 11,000 pages in black and colour! It truly is a printing revelation. When you finally run low you simply buy the additional ink bottles and refill your EcoTanks inside your printer.

I am someone who uses a printer a lot. From printing off boarding passes to photos to update our picture wall in our lounge and it is so annoying when your in the middle of printing and suddenly one of the colour cartridges becomes low and the rest of your printing is not as clear as when you started. I love that with the new Eco Tank printers you can just top up what ever colour is needed using the individual bottles. I did have a good look at the printer and the bottles and refilling the EcoTanks looks so simple and easy to do. I can’t wait to have our new printer delivered to try it for myself!

The EcoTank printers have a wide range of connectivity options making it so easy to print anything from your laptop, tablet device or smart phone using Wi-Fi with auto-setup, Wi-Fi Direct and Ethernet. These are combined with the simplicity of email print and the ability to print from your Android and iOS phones and tablets using Epson’s free iPrint app. EcoTank printers also support AirPrint. I often use the email function on my printer so whatever I need is ready for me to grab when I get home.

We then sat down and took part in lots of Finding Dory arts and crafts that Epson have put together with Disney which will keep your little ones entertained over the Summer holidays. Oscar loves doing art and crafts and it hardly costs a thing and we can spend hours making different things and spending quality time together. Research showed that most families over the Summer holidays will spend a whopping £1500 on days outs and activities. Epson have made some great and easy to make printable art and crafts activities and we made Squirt the turtle, some photo booth props and a pretty collage. There is also pop up cards, origami Dory and many more things to choose from.

We had a really lovely day and the boys enjoyed it so much! I can’t wait to get started using our new EcoTank printer and I will write another post so you know how we got on with it. Thanks Disney and Epson for a really special day!

Make Travelling With Kids Easier With Boswells & Co, Oxford

Travelling with children on the school holidays can go one of two ways; it goes absolutely swimmingly or is a complete nightmare. The key to it going swimmingly is usually keeping your little cherubs entertained. We have travelled quite a bit with the boys this year and on both occasions that we flew abroad over the Summer they were amazing! (Phew!)

Before we took our 7 hour flight to Canada in August we were kindly asked by Boswells & Co if we would like to review some of their wonderful travel toys to help keep Oscar entertained. I am only publishing my review now as half term is now upon us and for travelling success I recommend these toys greatly!

We were kindly sent the Dinosaur version of the Top Trumps game which Oscar loved. A. because he is obsessed by dinosaurs and b. because it  helps him to learn to read higher numbers when working out his Top Trump scores. He is really into playing games and the Top Trumps are ideal to play anywhere as the pack fits in any bag easily and we played it on the plane and in our hotel room too. They are also great fun and will last for quite a few years as the game is great for children and adults alike.

We were also sent a packet of 16 colouring pens and a Magic Animal picture book both by Galt which again are both small enough to slide into my travel bag and the pens are washable too so it didn’t matter if Oscar accidentally got any pen on his clothes when he was colouring on the plane. Oscar loves colouring and I always buy a big colouring book when we go away and by the end of the fortnight he has completely finished it. It is great for keeping children entertained when travelling or when they need some quiet time under the umbrella by the pool. The Magic Animals book is really clever and has 24 hidden pictures of animals that you scratch off with a coin and then can colour in. Oscar found this great fun and as the pages are initially blank found it absolutely mind boggling and magical. The other kids in the hotel loved it too. These books would also make great gifts or stocking fillers.


Last but not least we were sent a wonderful CD called ‘On the move‘ by my first CD. Obviously we didn’t get to take it to Canada with us but it has been a permanent fixture in our car on the school run ever since. It has 23 fun sing along songs on it like chitty chitty bang bang and going to the zoo and for only £5 is a real bargain. Both Oscar and Archie enjoy it and Oscar loves having a sing along on the way to school. The CD is suitable from birth and your little ones will love it!

You can order online or pick up in store and get yourselves sorted for the next time you travel with your children. Boswells & Co have a great website full of amazing things. As you can see you don’t have to spend a fortune to make travelling so much easier and a lot more fun for children. It made our lives a lot easier too! Thank you Boswells!

Happy Travelling!

Disclaimer: We were sent the above mentioned travel toys for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are completely honest and my own.

 

Halloween Arts & Crafts From Baker Ross

Halloween is just over a week away and as Oscar has had a two week half term we have had great fun making Halloween arts and crafts ready to decorate the house next week ready for Halloween.


Baker Ross have a wide range of fantastic art and craft activities ready for Halloween and will keep your little ones entertained over the school holidays. Firstly we made some spider weaving place mats that come in a pack of 4 for £4.48 and we had great fun making them. As always with Baker Ross products the step by step instructions are easy to follow and after I showed Oscar how to weave he got it quite easily and as he had never done it before he was determined to learn to do it right. After he had weaved the different coloured ribbons he stuck on the eyes and mouth and the backing to cover the ribbons. They look really good and instead of using them as place mats Oscar wanted to hang them around the house.


 
We then made Bat hand print decorations where we decorated the bats with stickers and then drew around Oscar’s hands and cut out the hand prints and attached them as the bat wings. There were four different coloured bats within the packet that are only £3.49 or they come in a larger pack of 16. They have ribbons so you can hang them up and we decorated a picture by the front door with them, so when we get trick or treaters they will see them.

  

The Day of the Dead key rings/bag hangers were quite challenging for Oscar as I had to teach him how to sew with the plastic needle. After practising making the first two key rings, the third one was much easier for him and he was really proud of himself that he had learnt how to do it. We then stuffed the skulls and decorated them.  Again he wanted to use them as decorations and using the key ring hung them off the light switches. For the pack that has three key rings inside it is £3.75 and you can also get larger packets too.


Last but not least Oscar made Halloween Mosaic wands, he had his friend Lauren over for a play date and they made them together. They used the coloured sticker mosaic squares to bring the wands to life. As well as using them as Halloween wands they did a Halloween puppet show for us using them which was a fab idea. For a packet of four wands it is £3.96. They really enjoyed making them and were easy for them to do on their own to have some quiet time on a play date. Perfect!

  

Disclaimer: We were sent the above arts and crafts for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

Ideas To Make Halloween Frightfully Fun!

With less than two weeks to Halloween and half term too I have some frightfully fun ideas for you and your children to have a fun time. I started making Halloween arts and crafts with Oscar last week and they are perfect for keeping children entertained too. You can pick up all sorts of fun activities. We made our own spooky wands.

Over the last few years since Oscar has understood Halloween I have picked up some decorations for the house. We even make a Halloween haunted gingerbread house. We love carving our pumpkins and last year we got a template off the internet and made Mickey Mouse, I was surprised how well it turned out. Oscar’s school has a pumpkin competition at their annual fireworks display and Oscar loves to enter and takes it very seriously. 🙂

This year as Halloween is on a Saturday Oscar has one of his friends coming over for a Halloween tea and then we are going trick or treating down our road. I have been looking on the internet for some fun Halloween inspired meal ideas and am going to make them a vegetable and houmous skeleton, witches fingers hot dogs and oranges filled with jelly to look like mini pumpkins.

Obviously the best part of Halloween is dressing up. I love seeing all on the wonderful costumes the children wear for trick or treating and they all always look like they are having great fun! Last year Oscar was Mike from Monsters Inc which we got from The Disney Store who have a great range of Halloween costumes and decorations. The quality of the costumes is always amazing and Oscar has a few costumes from them and they have lasted for ages and are in great condition still for me to keep for Archie to use in a couple of years. This year Oscar wants to be Darth Vadar and I am taking him in to our local Disney Store tomorrow to surprise him and get it for him. At the moment (8/10/15 until 4/11/15) there is 25% off and £1 delivery on selected costumes. I am also going to get him a R2-D2 trick or treat bag.
R2-D2 Trick Or Treat Bag

Darth Vader Light-Up Costume For Kids

For girls they have the most gorgeous Disneyland Paris Minnie Mouse dress, I wouldn’t mind it in an adult size :).  They have the perfect costume for every little boy or girl. They even have a Mike Monsters Inc outfit for babies, which will be perfect for Archie to wear on his first Halloween.

Disneyland Paris Halloween Minnie Mouse Ears          Disneyland Paris Minnie Mouse Halloween Costume For Kids

I hope you all have a lovely and fun Halloween and I would love you to share your photos of your little ones all dressed up with me. You can share them with me on twitter tagging me @mummyszone or on my Instagram tagging me @mummyszone. #Halloween Check out the full range of fantastic Halloween costumes from the Disney Store HERE.

Disclaimer: We were kindly sent a voucher for the Disney Store to get Oscar a Halloween outfit.