Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

Well that's it everyone, 2012 is over, another etch on the circle of life.

This evening we have not been out celebrating, singing the night away, instead opting once again for the quietness of our house.

Instead of drinking the night away I have been spending the evening looking through the years photos, sorting out the favourites from the thousands and thousands I have taken this year.

As I flicked through the months I came across photos which reminded me of friends who have moved away, friends who haven't, people and places we have seen and should try to see more of.

2012 was not all that bad, we had some fun times, and some rain... well a lot of rain!

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and I hope, for those that 2012 was not so kind too, that the new year brings happiness and health, for those who had a great year last, lets hope the next is even better!

For me, well I just hope that I get more moments like this.

Happy New Year

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The greatest gift of all...

Well Christmas eve in the morning, the year coming to an end.

The season of goodwill, joy, happiness and here I sit knowing I should not be at my laptop, listening to my children squabbling as their emotions run high and exhaustion breaks, but should be amongst them wiping tears and creating smiles...

Christmas, I love it, yet hate it all at the same time, the stress the upset, the tears.

The joy the peace and the smiles.

When it goes well, when everything is right, it is perfect, but text book Christmas' are not easy to pull off are they?

Yesterday me and Chloe went off into town to pick up some last minute stocking fillers, we walked around and around for about 4 hours, we returned with a tiny selection of nothing much, we ponded and thought and picked up and put back, so many gifts, I looked over the selections on display and longed for a money tree to enable me to purchase the shinny gifts that lit up Chloes eyes, instead we came away with token gestures side tracking around the beautiful impressive gifts and selecting the small token items instead as our budget couldn't stretch, each shop we entered added another stone of guilt to my shoulders, as Chloe excitedly ran over to this and that, quietly clocking the never never of riches.

But her non expectations and smile of happiness as we picked out £1 items for her brothers melted my heart, the true gifts are not measured by their price tag.

In the midst of everyone busily rushing around the town centre, amongst the shops selling their wears hoping to attract the money from peoples pockets, the over priced bright coloured boxes sitting in the windows telling us without spending our money on these things we somehow are not giving, amongst this, without the spending the true Christmas Spirit is there.

We rushed around and stood in a que, a lady behind us flustered on her phone, explaining she could not find the Game shop, explaining to the person on the other end of the phone that she would maybe have to leave the one gift she had braved the ques for, the gift she knew would be expected and the one without which would lead to disappointment, she put down the phone and was obviously stressed, I knew which shop she was after, I knew it had recently moved, so I turned and explained to her the new location, she couldn't follow my directions, passed the Santa, turn left... She explained she didn't come into this shopping centre very often and studied my eyes as she tried to clock the route.

The que was shollowing and our turn had come, I paid for our items and was bustled out of the shop in the flow of manic buyers, I could have just walked on not sparing any more thought, but instead I stopped by the door and waited, a few minutes later the lady appeared and the smile on her face when she saw me stood there was magical, I walked her to the new located store and we parted our ways as she wished me a Merry Christmas.

A little later we entered the other shopping centre and saw a sign 'Free Gift Wrapping Today'
Amongst the cash machines and stores taking more money than any other day of the year, were a set of people with smiles on their faces offering to wrap our gifts for free, with a mince pie too.

A Balloon artist entertaining the children making huge reindeer and funny hats, smiling, joking. People exchanging good will wishes meant with meaning, and no money passing hands at all.

Tomorrow we are off to my Grandparents, I'll be cooking up a pre Christmas, Christmas lunch.

Spending time with my Gran and Granddad, whos health means they won't be able to get to anywhere else to celebrate this year, giving them our presence instead of presents hoping that it entails smiles and happiness and all that is wonderful about the season with not so much stress and tears.

Then Christmas day, after Santa has been,  bearing all the gifts that my children constantly ask for, hoping they are happy with their selections, even if the pile is missing elements of their wish list, we are off to spend the day with my parents,Taking the time to be with those we love and are thankful for, hoping the day passes without the fluster of tired tears and greedy demands, hoping that for once, for this one day we all can sit around and be genuinely happy amongst those who mean the most.

And it is because of this, I am now shutting my laptop. I will not be posting again here until the new year, I am off to ensure I am not half tracked, with one hand on my laptop as I nod and hush my children, no I want to give fully with the one gift I can - my time.

To everyone who has made this Year a good one I wish you all a VERY merry Christmas and I hope that 2013 brings whatever we all wish for.

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Designated Driver - Free drinks!

The other day I saw a notice from my local council stating that through South Derbyshire pubs had agreed to offer free drinks to Designated Drivers over the festive period. I thought wow what a great idea, as a non drinking family myself and my partner are often called upon to fetch and carry as the designated drivers around Christmas and I think this scheme is fantastic to encourage people to not drink whilst driving this Christmas which really will save lives.

Then I noticed that Britmums were also highlighting this fantastic campaign in their #FestivePlaylist linky sponsored by CocaCola who have an interactive Pubfinder to help you find your local pub which is offering 2 for 1 drinks of CocaCola, DietCoke  and Coke Zero

To get everyone in the festive spirit they are asking bloggers to list their top 5 tunes to keep everyone smiling this season, be they driving or not, they have asked bloggers to link to youtube videos of the songs or even sing them yourself - however I am tone death and a simply awful singer - but my other half is rather good and loves to sing, infact he has an account on a singing website SingSnap and has recorded a fair few fun loving easy listening tunes which I always want to humm along too, so I am picking out my favourites of his recordings to share with you, there not especially festive as I only just noticed this competition and only have half an hour to meet the deadline so no time to get him to sing designated songs- but I hope you enjoy the selection anyway!

So without further ado here is my Top 5 tracks sung by my other half!

A Little Bit of Soul -  Showaddywaddy

Such a fun song which you just can't help jig along too, it isn't specially festive but certainly a happy tune which fits the mood!

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms

A brilliant festive fun song

If I can Dream - Elvis Presley

A lovely tune, with such great words which are quite fitting for the holiday period.

I Just Can't Stop Loving You - Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson songs are always great to listen to, fit in with any mood, perfect for listening whilst driving home for Christmas to a loved one

Pray - Take That

I had to add a Take That song in somewhere and this is the only one I could find that Darren has saved in his recording list!

I hope you enjoyed the tunes. Check out everyone elses favourite songs on the Britmums Linky and remember to stay safe this festive period, designated a driver and enjoy the free drinks.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Perfect Pet Stocking Blogger Challenge

If you are a pet loving household then you will probably know that animals are as much part of the family as anyone else, and so come Christmas Morning they too await their Stocking filled with goodies.

There are so many great pet products around filling a stocking for a much loved pet can be a great present for the owner too.

I have been having a look around the G.J.W. Titmus website which is dedicated to offering a great range of pet supplies, and I noticed they have an amazing Blogger challenge where they are asking bloggers to pick out £200 worth of products to make up the best pet stocking ever and one lucky blogger will then win their choices!

So I set about finding out all the must have items that I know Jackson would love and maybe if you are thinking of last minute gift ideas for a dog owner then these might help inspire you too!

Jackson, like most dogs, loves to go for a long walks, so the first set of items I have picked to put in his stocking are all the things which make for a comfier walking experience for him and me!

Company of Animals non Pull Harness - I picked out the harness as a perfect stocking filler because Jackson is an awful puller, and because he is so very strong it means unless we are going into the fields where he can be let off his lead he is left home, a harness which stops pulling would change the whole walking experience and mean me and him could go out much more! Priced at £12.25 this would be a bargain if it helped improve our walks!

Flexi comfort Dog Lead - I don't have a flexi lead for Jackson currently and I think it would enable us to enjoy walks around the park, where he is unable to be let off his lead, but still allow him abit of freedom to follow the children! this Flexi Lead is suitable for large sized dogs and priced at £20.99

Next up I picked out a Canac Nylon Collar and Lead I love the Nylon collars and Jackson is in need of a new one, these are perfect for when we are going over the field and the flexi lead and harness can stay at home, easy to put on, comfortable and strong these are a real must have for all dog owners. Collar is priced at £7.15 and the lead £5.60

Obviously with winter now upon us and the weather cold, wet and horrible us humans always make sure we put our coat and waterproofs on when we head out the door, with Jackson having short fur I guess he must feel the cold too, so I picked out a Timberwolf Extreme Wax coat which is made from quality waxed cotton to give protection from the cold and wet. Available in several sizes for large dogs like Jackson it is priced at £18.99 and looks great too.

And finally the must have dog walking essential stocking fillers are of course poo bags! I found this ingenious torch with doggie bags inside, which is a great idea for the darker evenings and I think this would make a fantastic stocking filler for any dog owner priced at just £2.99 I also picked out a refill pack of 60 bags priced at £2.49 there really is no need for leaving mess behind when your out with your dog, these bio degradable bags fit over your hand like a glove enabling you to quickly and easily clean up any mess, with tie handled to conveniently fasten the bag once you have done.

For my next set of products I focused on Jacksons other favourite pass times - eating, sleeping and playing!

Jackson normally sleeps on the sofa or on our beds, which is fine but it would be great if he had his own bed so I picked out this luxury Faux suede bed, this is a really nice cosy looking bed is made from stain resistant heavy duty faux suede with thermal polyester fibre filling to make sure your dog is super cosy! Pried at £65.99 this is more of a luxury item but one which I am certain any dog would appreciate!

I then picked out two lovely Animal instinct soft toys, there are several designs available at  G.J.W Titmuss but I like the look of the walrus and the penguin most, with their winters theme these really would make great stocking fillers! Jackson is not a chewer and so looks after his toys and he loves nothing better than a soft teddy to snuggle and play with and not only are these animals great designs but they are made from top quality materials and include a squeaker to add extra entertainment and are a great price at £7.49 each.

Then of course no Christmas stocking would be complete with out some treats! The range of dog food and treats was huge and I enjoyed looking through all the categories, G.J.W Titmuss have a great selection of bumper sized boxers of treats with huge discounts compared to the recommended retail price upto 20% off top brands such as Pedigree Markies when you buy the 12.5kg box.

They also have a great selection of Storage boxes perfect for keeping food fresh and I piked out a 15kg box which would be perfect to keep Jacksons Food safe and make sure it always tastes fresh!

I loved the range of pet food from the top branded names such as James Wellbeloved, IAMS, Chappie and many many more all available in several sizes from complete dry food to wet food and mixer, their is something to suit everyone however I thought Jackson would like a bit of variety in his Christmas stocking so I picked out the following fab treats.

Pointer Marrowbone 2kg pack These tasty oven baked snacks with soft beef flavoured centres are Jacksons favourite and great value at just £4.70 for 2kg these would fill up any stocking!
The Super 15inch Rawhide bone would make a fantastic stocking filler, a huge bone which is sure to bring a smile to any dog and last a good while too! Priced at £6.99
Pedigree Schmackos These are another of Jacksons favourites and are currently on Special offer 2 packs of 20 for just £3 so a must have extra this Christmas!
Christmas GoodBoy Selection pack Was my final yummy treat - with all the yummy festive goodies this is a great choice for your pooch with choccy drops, beef biscuit bones and crunchy snowballs this is perfect to give when all the children are munching on their selection boxes!

The total of all these amazing products came to just below £200 and I know if I was to find this little lot on Christmas morning I would be thrilled not to mention how excited Jackson would be!

If you have a pet, be it a dog, cat horse or rabbit, do take a look over at G.J.W Titmus as they have lots of special offers and a huge range, and if you are a blogger why not check out the Christmas Blogger Challenge and join in with your Perfect Pet Stocking!

Amazing Animation Software for Kids!

We were recently sent the amazing Zu3D to take a look at.

You may not have heard about Zu3D, but if you have children I'd say from about 8 and over then this may just be the perfect gift idea, often Tweens are really hard to buy for, and find things which interest them, but Zu3D is simply amazing!

If your children have ever seen films such as Wallace and Gromit or Fantastic Mr Fox then they will have seen some fine stop motion animation in action, and Zu3D enables them to create their own master pieces with ease!

We were sent the Zu3D animation kit, which contains everything you need to get creating great movies. Included in the kit is a USB  HD web camera which is on a sturdy bendable stand, a mini set with a Jungle back drop, a green screen sheet, some plasticine and the latest Zu3D software.

The creators of Zu3D have managed to create software which is so easy to use children instantly seem to know how to navigate around and within minutes Chloe, my 9 year old, was happily creating movies all by herself!

We did try the plasticine which was supplied but Chloe was frustrated with her models bending and moving when she didn't want them too, so opted to use her Sylvanian Family toys instead and this worked brilliantly, they are sturdy and stay where you put them. However Dad has loved making plasticine models and animating them and I am sure it will be something Chloe will progress onto.

 Zu3D really does allow you to get to grips with the way the professionals use Stop Motion techniques when crating animations and there is no limit to how great your end film can become other than your imagination.

The simple explanation for how it works is that you position your models in front of the green screen, or any backdrop you desire, then capture a photo using the Zu3D software, then move your models fractionally, capture another picture and continue doing so to create your animation.

The Zu3D software has such a user friendly interface showing you the timeline of your captured images, allowing you to play your movie whenever you want to check its working, add text, sounds and effects to enhance the film and really set your imagination free.

There are so many features in this great software, as you get more advanced at creating movies you can expand your creative skills by using the green screen to  cut out the backdrop and add in your own background videos or photos, there are also drawing tools to bring your animation to life with your own art work,  and the ability to have unlimited layers, speed up and slow down your film and really learn all the fundamentals of animation, making this software not only great fun but educational too!

We are all really impressed with Zu3D it has been an instant success with all three of my children, although Mikey at 5 years old needs more help to create his animations he still can get a acceptable end result, Chloe however has really taken too it and I feel we could have the next great animator in our misdt!

If you still don't believe me, then take a look at this film which Chloe single handily created in her first run through using this software!

Then go and take a look at the Zu3D website and see all the great packages they have on offer, the full animation kit, like the one we received, costs £59.99 but there are cheaper alternatives, such as just purchasing the software alone for £39.99 if you already have a webcam to use and don't feel you need the backdrops and plasticine.

The minimum computer specifications required to run the software can be found here we installed it with no trouble at all and it runs very smoothly on our XP based machine.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Silent Sunday

The Hobbit - Puzzle Review

Being part of the Ravensburger puzzle club this year has seen us receiving some really lovely jigsaw puzzles and has provided us with a new puzzle each month to try out really igniting the childrens love for puzzles.

the hobbit new film jigsaw puzzle gift

This month we have been sent The Hobbit Puzzle; A middle earth adventure, which is official merchandise to match the new film released  yesterday 14th December 2012.

I must admit I am abit in the dark about the new film, but have heard it mentioned a few times, so I went off to have a google and find out what the fuss is about.

The Hobbit, an unexpected journey, is the first film in a new trilogy from J.R.R Tolkien set in the Middle Earth some 60 years before Lord of the Rings following the journey of the title character Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit. The film sees him partaking on an adventure through Middle Earth to try to protect the Dwarf Kingdom, as they battle Orcs, Sourcers, Deadly Wargs and of course meet goblins, one of which is Gollum and changes Bilbos life forever.

Now we are big fans of Lord of the Rings and my eldest loves all three films so the characters are already familiar to us. With the popularity of Lord of the Rings to go by I am sure this trilogy following The Hobbit  will be hugely popular.

Gandalf the Grey in the Hobbit film december 2012 jigsaw

The Ravensburger Hobbit Jigsaw puzzle has a interesting picture showcasing some of the characters from the new film, the familiar faces include Gandalf the Grey and Bilbo Baggins amongst others all in action packed poses ready for battle.

The jigsaw is aged 8 plus and has 200 pieces with a completed size of 49 x 36cm

The puzzle pieces are great quality yet because of the detail in the picture they are all rather dark and it is therefore a slightly more difficult puzzle to complete than other 200 piece puzzles in the Ravensburger range and took Jake, my 10 year old, a few hours to complete spread over a couple of days.

The Hobbit film 2012 gift ideas

With the almost guaranteed popularity of the new trilogy I am sure any fan would appreciate this Jigsaw, even if you have no intentions of going to see the films in the cinema this puzzle would be a warm welcome to alot of young teens who are already fans of Lord of the Rings.

Look out for this puzzle at Amazon now priced around £8 Which is a great price for this popular themed puzzle.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Something you want... something you need...

Making sure the pile of presents on Christmas day fits the illusion we all have of brightly coloured boxes wrapped with love and care spreading out from under the tree can be a bit of a daunting task.

My budget is always rather tight and I try hard to avoid the need to buy big boxes of goods which come New Year no one will want or use.

I heard someone once say the best way to shop for your Christmas gifts is to buy something from each of the following categories; something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read, and using this for the whole family means a good selection of things is waiting on Christmas morning and you'll still be happy with the selection come the New Year.

So when I was contacted by Barratts asking if I'd like to trial out ordering shoes online via their website, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to fill my 'something you need' section by refreshing everyones Wellington Boots because if we get the snowy weather in January we'll all be prepared, but Wellington boots are a real 'need' item for dog owners and families who like to be outdoors!

Jackson was rather impressed with the selection, and thought it meant walking time, but I am wrapping this lot up for Christmas day, so instead he just sat and got into the shots for this review!

For my youngest I picked out the bright green ToyStory Wellington Boots.

These funky wellies have the familiar characters from Toy Story movie Woody and Buzz on them and are available in infant sizes 6 to 11

My son is a size 11 and these don't look over sized at all compared to his other shoes, although I am yet to try them on him, my first impressions is that these are great quality and I was impressed with their £9 price tag

For my eldest son I choose the traditional green wellington

As a fashion conscious 10 year old, he is not really kean on the bright character wellies anymore, however these wellies are perfect, good quality sturdy wellies which are practical and match with any outfit, perfect for long walks through the woods all through the year. Available in Junior size 3 to 6 again great price at just £9.60

For my daughter I picked out some bright flowery pink patterned wellies from the ladies selection as she is now a size 3 and most of the ladies wellies start at size 3 and go upto size 9

These wellies are lovely, although they do look a little on the large size, I am sure they will be fine worn with thick socks! They have adjustable straps on the side and a low 2cm heel they are Priced £12.50 available in sizes 3 to 9 but have low stock in lots of the sizes so be quick if you want some of these this Christmas.

Then I treated myself picking out a pair of funky black flower pattern wellies

I have rather large feet - size 9 so its not always easy to find nice patterned wellies.

These are great and I can't wait to get out walking Jackson in them, I am sending these to Santa to open on Christmas Day but I did try these on and they are a large size 9 but perfectly comfortable, the top opening is large but can be adjusted with the side straps a little, and it gives you plenty of movement for wearing jeans and thick socks! Priced at £15 in sizes 3 to 9

I found it very easy to navigate the Barratts website, they have a great selection of wellington boots, and lots of other shoes for all occasions, there is sure to be something for everyone this year as a must have Christmas gift. Every step of ordering online went smoothly I created a new account and paid via paypal, I then received email updates about the delivery.

If you are still not sure, right now there is a 30% off sale - which meant for all 4 pairs of Wellington Boots above I paid just £32.27 The discount is on EVERY product even ones which are already in a sale meaning you can find some real bargains.

The 30% off sale is available online now by entering the special offer code : CRACKER at the checkout also enter code FREEDEL to get free delivery on your order.

Last order day is Wednesday the 19th December for UK mainland orders so there is still time to browse the website and pick out some fantastic bargains!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ikea Soft Toys - Great stocking Fillers

There is always so much to think about at Christmas and making sure you have the main presents sorted is all good, but often the most enjoyable things about Christmas day is opening the stocking fillers and its always great to put in a soft toy, finding cute toys which your children might not have sen on the high streets is great, as they really could have come from Santa Claus himself.

Ikea have a great range of soft toys which fit the bill perfectly for Christmas gifts.

The beautifully designed woodland animals in the Vandring range really are lovely, with bears, owls rabbits and little hedgehogs ranging from just £2 they all are perfect stocking fillers, great quality and very cute!

Then there is the Klappar Cirkus range, which includes glove puppets and traditional circus soft toys, again many are priced below £5 which is unbelievable value for the quality of the toys, the designs in the Klappar Cirkus range are quirky, original but have that traditional feel to them as well, which really does set them apart form other soft toys available.

We were asked if we would like to review a couple of toys from the range and highlight Ikeas SoftToy campaign, which pledges to give 1 Euro to their favourite childrens charities UNICEF and Save The Children for every purchase in their Soft Toy range.

We were sent Vandring Igelkott, who is a small approx 15cm tall Hedgehog clutching a strawberry, he is a very cute little thing so very soft and squidgy and when you squeeze his strawberry he squeaks! Priced at just £2 he is great quality and very lovable for all ages.

There is also a book in the Vandring series called The Hedgehog leaves home, so purchasing the two would make a lovely gift.

 Then we were sent Klapper Cirkus snake puppet, this snake is just so much fun, with his cheeky smile, and top hat, he is the ring master to all the shows!

Not only is he a great size - approx 130cm long, he is bright and colourful and he was instantly loved by all three of my children ,and has been pulled and tugged at many times as they argue over who gets to play with him!

He has a hand opening under his head, which is big enough for an adults hand but easy enough for a smaller child to manage as well,

Once you have placed your hand inside you can open and close his mouth and make him entertain your audience! Priced at £6 he is a lovely toy, great quality, fun, promotes endless imaginative role play games for all ages. I really do love him!

So if you are still looking for that extra special gift from Santa then do take a minute to look at the IKEA range of toys as I'm certain you will find something you like.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Team work to create our entry into #TeamSkylanders

When I saw the message on the Tots100 website about them joining forces with Skylanders to recruit bloggers to the #TeamSkylanders  I knew it would be something my three would love.

For those of you who don't yet know what Skylanders are, it is the top selling video game of 2012, and its easy to see why, Skylanders is completely different to other video games as it has real toy characters which come to life on screen via the magic portal of power.

skylander spyro dragon characterThe game is set in a mystical world - The Skylands and the Skylanders are protectors against all that is bad - Kaos!

We are huge Skylander fans, after being introduced to them last January after Jakes 10th birthday where we brought him the Sklanders Spyro Adventure pack and since it has been one of the most loved and played games, the great thing is that all three children can play it together, Mikey my youngest at 5 years old can join in with Jake whos 10 with ease, it is neither too babyish nor too difficult, Chloe also loves to join in, which is unusual as shes not interested in any other games, however when Skylanders is mentioned they all happily play together. Each having their own Skylanders and they love swapping them around and continuing their adventures in the Skylands.

skylander wrecking ball character

There are loads of Sklyander character ranging from the familiar Spyro the dragon to new and imaginative characters, some cute looking ones and some more fearsome!

Each Character is classed into one of 8 element groups such as Earth, Fire, Magic and Undead amongst others, and depending on which element the characters are from depends on what special abilities that character possesses.  Collecting new characters brings a whole new dimension to the gaming fun.

So when we read that Tots100 were asking for bloggers to design a new Skylander character it sparked instant interest, Chloe being the artist of the family grabbed the pencils, whilst the boys shouted out ideas about all the wonderful things their Sklyander would be able to do,scribbling down ideas about what they would look like and where they would fit in the Skylands world.

They scribbled and doodled and chatted away for ages, until they had brainstormed their way to come up with this friendly looking character, Acorn.

He is a rather cute looking hedgehog character, from the Earth element. who carried a backpack, where he stores his acorns whilst running around the Skylands.

When he munches on an acorn his special powers are unlocked and he grows bigger and his arms extend.

When he's travelling around the skylands, if he wants to gain speed and get through smaller gaps, he can also roll into a ball protected by his spikes, he is a deceivingly strong character compared to his innocent looks and can also hurtle acorns at his enemies if he doesn't want to get close enough to spike them!

I'm rather impressed with Acorn and think he really would make a fantastic addition to the Skylands, I loved the way the childrens imaginations came to life when confronted with the task of designing a new character, I loved how their team work combined thinking through every concept, really teaming together to bring each others ideas about his looks, movement and abilities to life on the paper.
All the ideas about Acorn and the pictures here are the childrens own work and they are all rather proud of him, and now we will firmly cross our fingers that those at TeamSkyland like him too!

If you are a member of the Tots100 and have some Skylander loving children, or even if you have not  yet learnt of their wonderment, but think your children would love to experience the game themselves why not grab your art supplies and unleash your childrens creative potential and get involved too.

All the details about the competition can be found here  Those picked to join #TeamSkylanders will be lucky enough to receive the new version of the game Skylanders Giants and help provide their views on new Characters and products through the next few months.

Closing date is Monday 17th  December - Tweet your entry to @tots100 with the hashtag #TeamSkylanders  - Good Luck!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wagg MMM's - Tasty Treats

Regular readers here may have noticed a few weeks back a shiny new badge appeared on the side bar - one which I was very pleased to place, as we were asked to become Wagg Official Reviewers.

We love Wagg dog food and it has been the regular complete food that Jackson enjoys so when we received the email from the team at Wagg addressed to Jackson from their Top Dog Dalton we were thrilled.

Our first review mission was to try out the brand new dog treats Wagg MMM's  tasty dog biscuits. They are so brand new that you probably haven't heard of them.

As dog owners its always hard to know how to reward our dogs without hindering their health, human food, as much as they love it, isn't ideal for a dogs digestive system, and its important to ensure the treats you feed your pet are healthy and tasty.

The people at Wagg really do know their stuff when it comes to dog food and the tasty handy sized bones are perfect. They are small ( about 3cm in length) but crunchy and take a good few comps to eat each one, which means they help to keep dogs teeth clean, they have added vitamins A and E to help support your dogs immune system and added yeast to aid digestion, but no added sugar to ensure these are a great choice from an owners point of view - but from a dogs point of view all that matters is how tasty they are and these seem very tasty!

Jackson our boxer dog was sent the three brand new flavours of Wagg mmms to try out, Chicken, Salmon and Liver, and he loved all three, the feeding guide on the pack suggests between 4 and 7 treats per day for large dogs,  when we fed this amount no tummy upsets were caused at all and they really do seem satisfying enough to give as a one off for just being good, or giving 2 or 3 together as a bit of an afternoon snack. The handy size also means these are perfect for popping in your pocket when your out and about on walks to help with recall and other positive behaviours.

The boxes contain loads of mmm bones, 400g worth, however I forgot to count them and now well each box is over half empty!

Jackson loved all three flavours but we set him up a trial to see which he picked out as his favourite - take a minute to watch his video below, because even if I do say so myself, he is rather cute!

You can find out more about Wagg foods and the great Mmms treats on Waggs website here, or why not pop over to say hello to the Wagg team on their facebook page and be sure to keep your eyes out for the Wagg mmms in supermarkets near you now.

Also kep your eyes out in your local Asda, Morrisons and Poundland if you want to buy some Wagg mmm's to try yourself!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Lottie Doll - Great girls Gifts

We were asked by the makers of Lottie Doll if we'd like to take a look at this new range of Fashion dolls, alternatives to the other dolls on the market such as Bratz, Barbie and Monster High Dolls.

Lottie fashion doll for 9 year old girl

Lottie is smaller than the other fashion dolls standing at just 7 inches tall, she is pretty and has heaps of personality, no adult tones to her clothes, no make up or tattoos just heaps of childhood focused fun, she has joints in her knees and jointed shoulders giving her plenty of flexibility, although her elbows don't bend, but this doesn't effect play at all and her clothes are easy to get on and off.

non sexy young girl fashion doll Lottie and biscuit the beagle barbie alternative

Her distinguished features are her beautiful soft hair which can be brushed or tied up, her lovely clothes which are very normal to what most young girls could visualise themselves wearing and the fun imaginative world in which she lives with emphasis on being active.

There are 6 different Lotties in the range, and 3 accessory packs we were sent Autumn Leaves Lottie and Biscuit the Beagle accessories. Other Lotties include Festival Lottie, Pony club Lottie and Snow Queen Lottie amongst others so there is bound to be a Lottie who fits with your daughters personality perfectly.

These dolls really are lovely toys, unlike the fantasy world in Monster High, or the adult themed Barbies, Lottie is very much a real child, and as which she is instantly familiar and friendly, the fact she is smaller than some other dolls means she is easily packed into a pocket or bag and is perfectly child sized, her clothes are great quality, although the little beagle decor on her jumper which attached via Velcro fell off shortly after getting her out of the box, all other clothes have withstood plenty of dress changes. Autumn Leaves Lotties comes with her outdoor outfit consisting of a coat, hat and scarf  and brown bots which all remove separately, then she has a green top, brown skirt and stripy tights again they all remove if you wish.

Lottie and Biscuit the beagle fashion doll set based on real girl body sizeAutumn Leaves Lottie and Biscuit could almost be based on Chloe herself, with the same blond hair and body shape - infact Lottie dolls have been specially created as a scaled body of a 9 year old, and with the same tomboyish attitude to being outdoors yet still wanting to look stylish Lottie really does mimic all Chloes personalities.

Which is probably the reason why Chloe took to her so much, although she  is in some ways getting abit old for playing dolls, and has never been overly interested with any of the other fashion dolls,  she was impressed with Lottie and when I suggested we should pass her along to my two nieces aged 5 and 6, she refused, and Lottie has been sat pride of place on her bedroom shelf and does get brought down to play more often than I first thought she would and my 5 year old son has been caught playing with her too whenever his sister doesn't notice!

Lottie doll girl accesory pack barbie alternative dog

Biscuit the beagle accessory pack adds instantly to the play value, giving a reason for Lottie to put her coat, hat and scarf on, as they set off out for a walk.

Biscuit comes with everything you need to recreated a home setting too, with a dogs bed, a bowl even a shoulder bag for Lottie to carry him in, a lead and a coat, I would definitely recommend purchasing Biscuit to go with any of the Lottie Dolls as this set is just so much fun not to menton totally cute!

Overall we love Lottie, she is pretty, fun and will give any child hours of imaginative play enjoyment - what more could you want.

Lottie retails at £16.99 and accessories packs just £7.99 this is great value.

If you want to find out more about Lottie she has her own great website with plenty of fun and games or you can catch up with her team on Facebook.

heres our video review of Lottie where Chloe is playing with her.

If you are struggling to think what to get a young girl this Christmas then do take a minute to look at the fantastic range of Lotties as I'm sure they would be a hit in any girls Christmas Stocking this year.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Silent Sunday

PetPlan Veterinary Awards 2013

Anyone with a pet will know how much heartache is caused when they become ill, and everyone will appreciate the hard work that vets put into caring for our beloved furry family memebrs, be they dogs, cats, rabbits guinea pig, birds or reptiles, each pet is important to their owner and each animal is lovingly cared for daily by the vets in our community.

I have been very lucky in terms of pets ill health, Dennis our previous dog was always very healthy and managed to avoid the vet practise apart from his immunisations, for the majority of his life, even when he was hit by a car he soon bounced back to full health, but the love and care that was shown by our vet when he did get ill at the end of his life and the sensitivity of our thoughts and feelings was invaluable.

Now we have Jackson to keep us on our toes, and thankfully he too has managed to avoid any vet visits so far, but knowing you have the care their when needed is vitally important.

PetPlan - the pet insurance specialists, are running their 14th annual Veterinary Awards. Petplan has worked closely with the veterinary profession for over 35 years and hosts these independent industry awards to recognise the hard work and dedication of veterinary staff across the country, which care for our animals.

If you would like to nominate your veterinary practise to be concidered for one of these awards there are several catergories you can choose from which include:
  • Practice of the Year
  • Vet of the Year
  • Vet Nurse of the Year
  • Practice Manager of the Year
  • Support Staff of the Year
Voting is quick and easy and can be completed online at

And everyone who nominates their favourite vet gets included in the draw to win one of three weekend escapes, which includes two nights accommodation at a pet friendly hotel in the UK.

Why not take a look at this great video, and nominate your vet as a thank you for their care online today - nominations end on 31st January 2013

This is a sponsoed post

Putting up the Christmas Lights!

There is only 18 more days to go until Christmas, and although I am still not at all organised present side of things the house is beginning to feel very festive!

I love Christmas, decorating the tree, arranging Christmas ornaments, lighting festive scented candles, snuggling around the fire listening to Christmas tunes.

But every year no matter how nicely I put away the decorations from the previous year, things look alot more tatty on bringing them out of the loft. And our Christmas lights always cause a headache as we fiddle and twiddle with the bulbs before giving up and residing ourselves to the fact we will have to look for some new ones. But I was saved from the daunting task of untangling the old lights when I was contacted by the people at Notcutts asking if I would like to review some of their festive lights

Notcutts are a family owned group of garden centres renowned for their excellence in quality gardening products, as well as their 19 centres, they sell their great range of products online and they currently have some super Christmas offers.

We picked out a traditional set of  white chaser lights, which are the perfect addition to every home at Christmas, these lights come in a sturdy tub which is great as it may just help us pack the lights away safety this year.

The cable is good quality green cable approx 18.5 meters in length with 200 low voltage, ultra bright bulbs, there is 5 metres from the plug to the first bulb which gives you plenty of versatility to position the lights wherever you require.

These lights also have a memory control with 8 different sequences, steady on, slow glow, chasing, and my favourite Twinkle they really are very pretty Christmas lights! Currently half price just £19.99

Also in the Christmas section Notcutts have some beautiful decorations including pre lit garlands, standing Santas, Christmas trees and village scenes. Do take a look at their website - it really will get you in the festive spirit!
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