I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn – a book review

We had a lovely delivery of paperback picture books from Maverick Arts Publishing recently.  I’ll be sharing them with you over the next few days.  First up is the 26 page book I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn by Rachel Lyon.

I Wish I'd Been Born a Unicorn

We meet Mucky, a funny brown horse who is a bit pongy – having a good bath really isn’t his thing. I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn is told in rhyme with lovely illustrations by Andrea Ringli.  Mucky feel lonely, and sad that he doesn’t seem to have friends.  He believes life would be different if he was a Unicorn.  An Owl tries to explain to Mucky that true friends don’t care about appearances but only in how each other feel.

But Owl decides to help Mucky become a Unicorn, he flies around the farmyard asking some of the animals to help him.  A miracle happens and Mucky is transformed, if only temporarily.

I Wish I'd Been Born a Unicorn

We follow Mucky and his reaction to the change in his appearance and then his sadness when he goes back to his normal self.  But true friends rally round and he soon discovers that the Owl really was very wise.

This is a lovely tale with a nice underlying message, priced at £6.99 we give this book a big thumbs up.

disclaimer:  we were sent this book in exchange for an honest review

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The Alphabet Photography Project W and X #alphabetphoto

Week 24 of PODcast‘s linky The Alphabet Photography Project. I missed last week as I was holed up in bed with a virus so it’s a double whammy for my today – W and X.  But what to pick for either of them!!  Tricky.

The Alphabet Photography Project W is Waterfall

The Alphabet Photography Project

This isn’t the best photograph ever taken, but for Daddy P this is actually not bad.  He did actually manage to get both Monkey and I in the shot, although I’ve had to crop like mad to get to this.  He has no idea what a zoom lens is for, bless him.

But here we are, a photo of me and my son next to the waterfall at Stowe Gardens taken earlier this year.  Monkey looks really happy to be posing for a shot doesn’t he!  Stowe Gardens has become a favourite again since we rejoined the National Trust.  There’s always a different part of the gardens to explore.  Monkey had discovered the waterfall on a previous walk with me and was eager to show Daddy when we visited together, not so eager to have his photo taken!

The Alphabet Photography Project X is for Xenodochium (a guesthouse for receiving strangers)  I can’t wait to see what everyone else picks for this!

The Alphabet Photography Project

This is Monkey entering the Hotel Medes II reception in L’Estartit last month.  A guesthouse for receiving strangers – a Xenodochium.  This photo is really precious to me.

Our trip to Costa Brava last month was the first time Monkey had experienced a holiday that didn’t involve going to Granny and Gramps.  He’s stayed in a hotel overnight once in his little life, but this was the nearest he’s been to a real holiday.  It’s the sacrifice we’ve had to make for me to stay at home with him.  No stay away holidays.  I was so worried about how he would cope with the whole experience, but this photo sums it up.  He loved it, he felt secure, safe, he let go of my hand and was happy to explore.  Happy to be somewhere strange, happy to be on holiday.

The Hotel Medes II was perfect for us, we weren’t there much, but it was a small, family friendly hotel, and just right for Monkey’s first holiday trip.

There were so many wonderful things about the trip we went on, but the effect it had on Monkey was priceless.  This photo represents a little boy who is growing up; becoming more independent, trying new things without automatically shying away.  A little boy who made a special friendship with another boy with a similar temperament.  A son who left my side and ran off with a group of friends to have fun in a play ground.  A Monkey who was confident enough to walk into a hotel lobby by himself. A little explorer who absolutely loved every minute of his holiday and wants to go back; preferably tomorrow!

I am so very lucky to get to do some amazing things through the blog, I never take any of it for granted.  It’s worth all the working til the early hours trying to write-up posts.  When you get to see your child blossom in front of your eyes; having the time of his life, it’s just wonderful. He won’t ever forget the time he spent in the Costa Brava, he made his own memories and I have the blog to thank for that.  Wonderful things do happen.

 

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Toot the Tiny Tugboat

Toot The Tiny Tugboat

Have your kids been watching the new kid on the block on Milkshake TV this week? We were lucky enough to get a preview of the episodes that have been shown on Monday and Tuesday this week, and are looking forward to see what’s in store for the helpful little Tugboat for the rest of the week.

You may be aware of the Toot and Pop! written by Sebastien Braun. Toot the Tiny Tugboat is an animated series based on this book, aimed at children aged 4-7 years.

Monkey loves the episodes we’ve watched; he loves boats and as he has his own tugboat he connected with Toot straight away.  Monkey knows that a tugboat has a very responsible job and Toot the Tiny Tugboat shows us this through each programme.  But Toot is new to his work in the harbour, he has lots to learn and gets easily distracted.  But he always makes things right in the end.

Over the weeks ahead we’ll all get to meet Pop the Ocean Liner, Paula the Trawler, Lenny the Lighthouse, Bryan the Ferry (those of us of a certain age are going to giggle every time he appears) and Marg the Barge.

We met Paula the Trawler on Monday when Toot had to be big and brave and overcome his fears of an imaginary sea monster to rescue his friend stranded in a storm.  Monkey really enjoyed this episode. We’re also looking forward to Thursday and seeing how Toot will handle some unwelcome geese who visit the harbour.

Toot the Tiny Tugboat is a charming series for younger viewers, he’s certainly got a fan in this house.

You can catch Toot The Tiny Tugboat on Milkshake TV, Channel 5 weekdays at 6.35am

disclaimer:  we were sent a preview disc in exchange for an honest review

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CaseApp – review and giveaway

CaseApp

I was recently asked if I’d like review the CaseApp on-line service for personalised cases for phones and skins for phones, iPads, MacBooks, iPods and certain laptops .  With Daddy P’s birthday later this week a great birthday present idea came to mind!

Daddy P is quite heavy-handed so I decided that a case for his iPhone 5 would be a better idea than a skin, I then noticed that for his series of phone there was an option for an Extra Protection Tough Case for £19.00.  That’s the one for us!

I decided to use a favourite photo from our recent trip to L’Estartit.

CaseApp

As I knew Daddy P likes this photo too.  I could have put together a collage of photos, added text, and clip art but I decided to just go for the one photo.  I selected gloss as the finish option and placed my order.  Simple as that.

Delivery was prompt and I couldn’t wait to see the result.

The silicone protection case fits on the phone first and then you snap the photo cover over the top.  I chose the gloss option which doesn’t come out so well when trying to take a photo of it – but it looks fab.  Daddy P is going to love it.

If you prefer to have a pre-designed case cover rather than your own, then CaseApp have this option covered too.  Just visit their website for more information on prices and the products covered.

Disclaimer:  we were sent a free code in order to order and review this product.  Our comments remain our own honest opinions

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CaseApp have very kindly offered one reader the chance to personalise their own case or skin – worth up to £22.  Check the website for compatibility.  Complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win a voucher code for this case/skin.  Good luck!

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Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 10th November 2014 at midnight.

 Win a personalised phone cover or skin with CaseApp

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Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

Do your kids love Toy Story and the various characters?  We love the film in this house so were rather exited when someone landed at our house recently!  To Infinity and Oxfordshire to would seem with the Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear!

Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

Aimed at children aged 3 years and over the Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear has plenty to keep fans occupied. He has space wings with mega blasters and used 3 x AAA batteries – but don’t fear, these are included.  Happy Mummy alert. Buzz stands at 12″/30cms tall.

Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

Monkey was smitten from the off.  His friend S has a Buzz as does little E, Monkey couldn’t quite believe that he now has a Buzz Lightyear all of his own.  With wings and mega blasters too Mummy!!

Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

The Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear has 3 different play modes – Space Ranger Mode, Flight Mode and Battle Mode.  For Space Ranger Mode – press the oblong coloured buttons on the front of Buzz to hear various phrases and the red button on his back for the sounds.  There are over 75 to discover!

Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

To start Flight Mode, press the round red button on the front of Buzz, which activates his wings.

Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

Then, like Space Ranger Mode, press the oblong buttons on his chest for phrases, and the red button on his back for flying sounds.

For Battle Mode, press the round red button on Buzz’s chest again to activate the Mega-blasters.  Press the phrase buttons and then the sounds button which also light the mega-blasters.Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear

The Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear has so much going on that any young fan will be captivated for ages.  Monkey loves to just sit with him, changing from Space Ranger, to Flight and up to Battle Mode and just listening to all the different phrases and sounds.

Action Armour Buzz is ready to travel to infinity and beyond with space-rangers-in-training around the world!

As you would expect from a Mattel toy, the Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear is made of robust plastic.  I can’t see any parts that are likely to snap off with exuberant Space Ranger play time.  It’s going to last, there are so many phrases to keep little ones surprised.  Yes at £49.99 it’s not cheap, but I’m sure any Toy Story fan is going to love this toy. I’m absolutely sure that this new version of Buzz Lightyear will be arriving under numerous Christmas trees this December.

The Toy Story 12” Action Armour Buzz Lightyear can be found at various retailers – including Amazon (see my affiliate link below – it’s currently on special offer too), ToysRUs and Smyths Toys

disclaimer:  we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review

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Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross – Halloween and Christmas

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

We love it when a package arrives from Baker Ross, we always know that crafting fun is hidden inside.  We recently received a whole host of goodies so we could do some Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks making some things in preparation for Christmas, but also some that would work just as well for Halloween.  Monkey loved making the Butterfly Stained Glass Effect decorations we made in the Summer, so I knew the Owl versions would go down well.  I also think they’d work quite well for Halloween?

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

All you need to get going with the Owl Stained Glass Effect Decorations is a pair of scissors and some glue.  Pop out the cut-through sections, cut the various stained glass effect paper and glue.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

It was really interesting to watch this difference with how Monkey tackled this task.  Back in the summer it was a case of stick any colour as quickly as possible, don’t think about shapes, just stick it!  This time around, he really thought about colours and where to put them.  I helped him to cut the cellophane squares to the right size, but he was in control of the rest of the making.  It was great to watch.  We’ll be hanging our owls up for a bit of a hooting Halloween.

Next up and we were back to a Christmas themed craft idea making some character boxes.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

Monkey loves these craft boxes – you may remember he made some for Easter too.  He knew exactly what he needed to do and set to the task with glee.

He managed most of the work on these craft boxes by himself, although we both struggled to get the noses to stick.  Lots of glue and a bit of Mummy thumb pressure required.  He’s really pleased with the results.

I decided that it was time for me to have some craft time, we’d received some Ceramic House Tea Light Holders and some LED Tealights.  It was my time to have some fun and the first time I’d used Porcelain and Glass Pens.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

The pens are really easy to use and I was pleased with my first attempt.  It’s going to look fab at Christmas with the LED tea light too.  This gave me another flash of inspiration, you  may remember I reviewed some new desserts recently – I had saved the glass containers.

A little something for Halloween with a LED tealight.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

Next up was time for some sticking – Self Adhesive Pom Poms and Bow Glitter Foam Stickers.  The original idea was to decorate our Stocking Cards, but Monkey decided that he wanted to save those for another day.  Time to get out some foam shaped bugs and dinosaurs instead.

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

The Self Adhesive Pom Poms come in lots of colours.  Stick the self adhesive disc to your required surface – card, foam etc and then stick the pom-pom to it.  You do need to be quite firm when pressing the pom-pom down onto the disc to get it to stick, but they do look great and add a different dimension to crafts.  We’ll be making good use of them.  The Bow Glitter Foam Stickers are self adhesive.  We’ll be using them to decorate Christmas wrapping paper, as well as our Stocking Cards soon.  Monkey loved this ‘Count Bugular’, and we even used the cut out bits to make evil eyes!

Watch out on Instagram for what we do with these soon …..

Seasonal crafting with Baker Ross

For lots of Seasonal crafting ideas why not pop over to the Baker Ross website – they have some wonderful ideas to keep the kids entertained, especially with Half Term and Halloween coming up.

disclaimer:  we were sent these items in exchange for an honest review

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Time for a change

As you know we recently moved Monkey from a toddler bed to a big boy single bed.  He loves the change and has taken to his new bed really well. It’s made me wonder if it’s time for a change in our bedroom.  We have a big wooden kingsize bed frame with drawers.

Time for a change

The bed frame is a bit battered, we probably should have changed it when I moved in but it never quite happened.  It’s not my taste particularly, it’s impossible to move, making spring cleaning etc a major event in our bedroom.  I know a lot of people like having drawers on their beds; I’m really not fussed.  We have a large airing cupboard already, so I have plenty of storage space for bedding and towels.  Two of our drawers can’t be opened anyway because our bedside tables butt right up to the bed.  For me, it just doesn’t work.

time for a change

I’d love something like this Hampton bed, sturdy, but without the drawers.  I’d also like to move away from antique pine and change our bedroom furniture to oak.  Did you know that Carpetright sell beds as well as carpets?  I have to be totally honest, I had no idea.  But when I started surfing around and found out, I had a look around the site and was really impressed.  Not only did I find this lovely Hampton bed, they have a whole host of options available in bed frames or divans.

Part of me has always quite fancied a metal bed frame – that’s my childhood of watching the Walton’s and Little House on the Prairie coming through!

tome for a change

I do like this idea, it would mean a total revamp in our bedroom, but perhaps its time for a change and a move away from wood totally. We need something sold – Daddy P is over 17 stone, but I’ve always been a fan of this style of bed.  I’m sure I’d be winding my LED light string around the frame too.

What’s your ideal bed style?  Are you a bed frame or a divan person?  Drawers or not?  How do you feel about your home in general?  Do you like to live in a show home?  (not sure that’s possible with kids!) or do you feel like you are constantly just passing through on the way to school, shopping, swimming or football lessons?  Carpetright are running The House Proud Survey at the moment, you could win a £250 voucher for Virgin’s Chrome Collection of experience days by taking part!

disclaimer:  featured post.

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Project Brabham – get involved! #ProjectBrabham

It’s no secret here that I’m a big motor racing fan.  It’s a love I share with my Dad and brother and Monkey is getting better at recognising Formula One teams on the TV during the grand prix shows.

There are certain names that are synonymous with racing, Brabham is certainly one of them.  My Dad remembers the days when Sir Jack Brabham raced himself.

Project Brabham

Jack Brabham 1966 F1 World Champion (credit LAT Photographic www.latphoto.co.uk)

I certainly remember the Brabham F1 team as I was a fan of Nelson Piquet’s in the late 70’s-80’s.  I’m also aware of David Brabham (Jack’s son) who also raced in various formula including Formula One before moving on to Touring Cars, GT racing and then the American Le Mans series.  He has also won the 24 hour race at Le Mans.

Project Brabham

David Brabham Le Mans Winner 2009 (credit Peugeot Sport)

When I heard recently that the Brabham name would be making a comeback in the world of motor sport, I was interested to find our more – and you can get involved too with #ProjectBrabham:

The exciting new journey begins with Project Brabham, where the motorsport community can become a key part of the team and shape its future through crowdfunding. The first to back Brabham Racing’s vision will get exclusive rewards only available through this first phase, while a variety of packages enable people to get involved for as little as one pound.

Project Brabham

Project Brabham Launched To Bring Iconic Team Back To Racing

If you love motor sport, then surely David Brabham;s idea of Project Brabham is a team worth backing.  The crowdfunding goal is to raise £250,000 by 1st November; they need just over £50,000 to reach their target.  There are ‘perk’ packages available for fixed prices, starting from just £1.  But you can also just make a contribution of an amount of your choosing.  If you have a motor racing fan at home then some of the packages would make a great Christmas present.

The team intends to race in 2015 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours race.  The aim for the future is to bring Brabham back to Formula One.

So what do you get for your contribution?  Well, you can find full details on the Project Brabham crowd funding website or via the main Brabham website.

Brabham-Digital portal will give fans, drivers and engineers unrivalled access to the inner workings and allow genuine contribution to the team’s development.
The first to back Brabham Racing’s vision will get exclusive rewards only available through this first phase.
Openness and transparency will be at the core of the Brabham Racing team. Giving fans unrivalled behind-the-scenes access will provide a greater racing experience, incredible insight and knowledge about the team and the wider sport, while Brabham also plans to inspire drivers and engineers across the globe.

Project Brabham really is something to get excited about.  I’m really looking forward to watching the team develop and to seeing the Brabham name in motor racing once more. Even better that they are based not far from me!

If you’d like to follow the journey of Project Brabham who not follow them on Twitter and Facebook too.  But if you want to really be involved, then pop over to Project Brabham now.

disclaimer:  I will receive my own Project Brabham perk package in exchange for this post. But my comments are my own honest opinions.

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Treat time for two

Monkey and I were recently sent a couple of parcels – treat time for two!

Treat time for two

As some of you know I’ve started a sewing machine course recently (just need to buy my own machine!!), and am a keen cross stitcher. But my sewing box for the last few years has been a plastic box.  I was definitely in need of an upgrade!  So this lovely Sewing Box is just what I needed. Treat time for me!

As you can see I’ve fitted lots of cottons and accessories in the removable plastic tray and still have plenty of space to fill in the box itself.  My loose pins now have a home at last. For £24.99 it’s reasonably priced and the quality of the finish is good.  I’m one happy seamstress.  Presents for Men (who also supply gifts for women and children!) also offer a Sewing Machine bag to match – so if Santa decides to bring me a sewing machine of my own, maybe he’ll bring me this bag too!

Now, you may well have noticed that the blog was deathly quiet last week – I can’t remember a time when I posted nothing on the blog for a whole week.  Unfortunately I had a really nasty virus which totally wiped me out for the week and then Monkey got a tummy bug to add to the drama.  It meant that by today we were definitely in need of treat time for two.  We snuggled up on the sofa together this afternoon and watched Rio 2 on DVD for the first time.

Treat time for two

Having not watched the first Rio film, I was hoping that that wouldn’t matter.  Luckily I was right, Rio 2 is a good, entertaining watch either way.  I have a bit of a thing for Macaws as we had a couple at home when we were small.  So seeing an animated film that features them kept me hooked from the start.  We meet Blu (who we learn as the film goes on, must have been reared in captivity in Rio 1), his wife Jewel (who came from the Amazon originally) and their children Carla, Tiago and Bia.  They live in a sanctuary in Rio, believing that they are the last of their kind.  That is until a news report informs the world that Blue Macaws have been spotted deep within the Amazon rain forest.  So starts the adventure as the family decide to find the rest of their species.

It’s a lovely film, and having seen Monkey’s reaction, I think we’ll need to see if Rio is on TV over the Christmas holidays.

After the last week I think we really did deserve some treat time for two!

disclaimer:  we were sent these items in exchange for an honest review.

 

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The best new film releases for Christmas 2014

As Christmas approaches, what better gift to give your family than the delightful escapism of cinema?  Whether you’ll all be huddled around a 72 inch wide 1080 HD projector screen or squinting at a wall-mounted LCD as you peel the potatoes for the roast, make sure you have a great selection of new DVD releases to bring the magic of cinema to your household throughout the festive season.

The Action Movie

Put that old Die Hard VHS out to pasture and invest in something fresh for your Christmas Eve action. The Edge of Tomorrow is a futuristic, face-melting Hollywood blockbuster, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt providing the star heft. Cruise plays Major William Cage, a green-as-they-come army PR officer who has yet to see a day of combat until he is hurled into a devastating alien invasion and killed, almost instantly. Fortunately for Cage, he is resuscitated and must live, die, and repeat in a compellingly brutal time loop. Like its time-warping predecessors Groundhog DaySource Code and Looper, as long as you don’t think too hard about it, you’ll be left breathless by this one.

The best new film releases for Christmas 2014

Image by BagoGames, used under the Creative Commons license

The Family Movie

Haunting, beautiful, and utterly commandeered by Angelina Jolie’s razor-sharp cheekbones from the off, Maleficent offers up a live action treat guaranteed to enthrall children and stun adults in equal measure. The back story to Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty animation, Maleficent follows the ‘real’ story of its shadowy, conflicted villain, and shows there’s more than one side to every story. A bickering turn from the three fairy godmothers and a shape-shifting raven are doled out as comic relief, but go easy on the port or you’ll be a weeping wreck by its ending.

The Big Animation

You don’t even need to have seen How to Train your Dragon to be swept skyward by its sequel, one of the most thrilling and touching animations since Toy Story 3. In a world inhabited by vikings and dragons, it follows the story of (now angsty teen) Hiccup, as he comes to terms with his future role as leader of the village of Berk, and the terrifying discovery he makes as he expands his horizons. But while the plot is compelling, the real reason you’ll keep watching is for Hiccup’s clumsy, wide-eyed dragon Toothless, who is about as threatening as a box of kittens and twice as cute.

Forget waiting for the TV guide to yield something substantial, ditch the adverts, plug-in the DVD player and take back control of your screen this Christmas. Your family will thank you for it.

What DVD’s have you got your eye on for the Christmas period?

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post

Author Bio: Karen Knowles is a mum of three beautiful but demanding(!) girls. She loves taking her family on day trips to the beach, long walks in the woods and eating out for hearty food.

 

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