Wednesday, 19 December 2012

REVIEW: ParamountZone Popcorn Maker

I recently had the opportunity to review a popcorn maker from a brilliant gift website Paramount Zone. (with thanks to Fuel My Blog)

As a celiac (aka a poor unfortunate soul unable to eat gluten) popcorn is a popular snack in our home. We often grab for the ready made packets of popcorn but was extremely excited to be given the opportunity to put a popcorn machine to the test!

When the machine arrived I couldn't believe how compact it was. Perfect from a storage point of view as my cupboards are stuffed with pots, pans and other kitchen gadgets. Because its not huge it's also portable meaning that we'll be able to take it around to friends houses when we have gatherings and parties!

Unlike methods where you make popcorn in a pan you don't have to use oil. The machine uses hot air to pop the kernels. We was really impressed with this feature as it meant the popcorn wasn't greasy.

Also unlike microwave popcorn this popcorn maker evenly cooks the popcorn, no burning and almost every single kernel popped!!

Another impressive feature with this gadget is how super quick it is! It takes just 2 and a half minutes to create 17 cups of popcorn!!

Here's a further summary of what we thought:
• Nice and compact. Easy to store.
• Clear instructions and easy to use.

• Produces a non greasy (healthy sans butter) snack, suitable for celiacs.
• Great novelty factor for family film nights.
• Easy to clean.
• Good value for money (RRP: £24.99 but currently available for £12.99)
• Great gift idea suitable for most recipients.

• Possibly more of a novelty item. Potentially a kitchen gadget that will find its way to the back of the cupboards with all the others??
• The popcorn cartons are cardboard and won't last too long. BUT you can buy more from the Paramount Zone website for just £1.99 for 5)

At the moment (as new parents) date nights are pretty much on hold at the moment, so film nights are a common occurrence in our home as its a lovely way to spend some time together when the little one is (finally) in bed! And you can't have film night without popcorn (and now we really feel we're at the cinema with the authentic popcorn boxes that come with machine!!) Awesome!

Checkout ParamountZone's website. It is the perfect place to buy  Birthday and Christmas gifts! With FREE P&P and a brilliant filter to select the perfect gift the site is user friendly and makes finding a gift even for the most awkward person so much easier!!

I received this item free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Baby Arts and Crafts: Jesus in a footprint manger!

Today I have a Christmas craft project you can make with your little one!! And all you need is some card, poster paint, some tissue paper, a scrap of shiny gold paper and a metallic pen and you can make this Christmas card:

This card starts life by printing your little ones cutey footprint onto some card. Next using some brown tissue paper/card glue too strips to create the legs if the manger. Once you've done that glue some pieces of yellow tissue paper to create some straw. The baby Jesus was made from some scraps of card and brown tissue paper. Here's a close up:

Finally cut a large star out of gold paper and write a sentiment and draw some stars with a gold metallic pen.

A very inexpensive card with a lot if sentimental value!

REVIEW: Bibee Maternity and Breastfeeding Dress

Bibee Dresses

Throughout my pregnancy I struggled to find suitable clothes (especially for work) The thought of having Xander and starting to wear my usual clothes was something I looked forward to immensely! What I hadn't considered was the complication of finding suitable clothes for breastfeeding.

Up until now I have resorted to wearing baggy vests and my maternity tops, as although there are many breastfeeding tops of the market I find many of these unflattering and very casual.

When I came across Bibee Dresses on twitter I was excited by the whole concept of their designs! Finally a company that offer stylish designs for both the pregnant and breastfeeding mummy!!

I was lucky enough to meet the lovely folks from Bibee Dresses at The Baby Show at Earls Court: where they were launching their wonderful dresses:

And whilst there was offered the opportunity to review one of the dresses, bibs and long sleeve tops!! An offer i couldn't refuse! I opted for a navy dress, navy v lily pink bib and cream top.

What is a Bibee Dress?
There are different components to a Bibee Dress:
• The dress (which are available in black, navy or eggplant)
• The bibs (which are available in a range of plain or decorative designs and round or v neck)
• The long sleeve T-shirts (available in black or cream)

How to wear a Bibee dress:
1) Select your dress:

2)Team with a bib:

3)Add sleeves if you wish:

4)Mix and match!

5)Specially designed for breastfeeding here's how they work:

(All you have to do is undo three side buttons to release one side of the bib, you can then discreetly feed your baby. Buttons are on both sides allowing discrete and easy access to both breasts!)

The Bibee website is fantastic! It has an interactive feature where you're able to dress a model and see what different combinations of dresses, bibs and sleeves look like, ensuring you get the perfect look for you! Not only that there is extensive sizing guidance in there (which is something I know I was always concerned with during the pregnancy stage especially)

I've love wearing my Bibee Dress with boots to the mummy and baby groups we go to and I've received lots of compliments from all the other yummy mummy's and guess what I'll be wearing to an up and coming Christmas do (dressed up with heels, of course!)

Due to the insufficient range of breastfeeding clothes on the market prior to discovering Bibee Dress I have refrained from breastfeeding in public. Opting to express and bottle feed whilst out and about. However now having Bibee Dress in my wardrobe I think I'll be more brave second time around and would give public breastfeeding a go!

The great thing about Bibee Dresses is that you can wear them throughout your whole mummy experience from bump to baby! You can dress them up or dress them down, so they suit all sorts of occasions! It would have been perfect to have worn this to work whilst I was pregnant and equally ideal to wear to more formal occasions too! I wholeheartedly recommend Bibee Dresses to expectant and breast feeding mums!

I received the Bibee Dress free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

REVIEW: Give the gift of a clean house!

When I first became a mum I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of jobs around the house there was and how little time there actually is in any single day to do them! Pretty much everyone I spoke to gave me the same advice: cleaning can wait, just spend time with your baby.

Well, that's been my mantra for the past 4 months and I'm ashamed to say I have really neglected my house in that time! Of course i've kept tidy the visible bits of the house, it's all those little jobs that I've put to one side - cleaning inside the kitchen cupboards, scrubbing the lime scale off the shower cubicle. Every time I go to tackle one of these little jobs motherhood gets in the way and it gets put on the back burner for another day!

But today all that's changed! I have been given the exciting opportunity to review a Cleaning Gift Voucher (thanks to Fuel My Blog) The concepts simple, you buy a friend/ family member some vouchers from the website for a denomination of your choice and the recipient then selects a service from the site! (there's an extensive range of options from cleaning, oven cleaning, odd jobs)

I was given a £45 voucher and selected the option of a cleaner for 3 hours.

So today's the day! Instead of one cleaner arriving three turned up (2 trained cleaners and one who is undergoing training) and instead of doing three hours they're doing 90 minutes (which suits me fine as I'm off out Christmas shopping after they leave!) But lucky me I currently have one cleaner in my bathroom giving it a deep clean, one in my ensuite and another cleaning through my kitchen, including the cupboards!! All this being done whilst I'm playing with Xander and blogging!!! I could get use to this!

When the cleaners left I had a good look around my house and was pleasantly surprised by the high standard that the cleaners achieved in such a short period of time!!! I could never have achieved all of this in such a short space of time, I can start with a clean slate and keep up the cleanliness! Plus now my house is sparkling in time for Christmas!

The only minor criticism I have about the overall service is the language barrier that occurred between the cleaners and myself. It took a while to communicate with them and get across what I would like done. But all three cleaners were polite and hardworking!

If you ask any busy mum what they want for Christmas I would imagine most if not all would say TIME, give me TIME!! This is exactly what these vouchers offer! Although you'd have to be careful not to offend anyone by giving one of these vouchers as a gift!!

But you don't have to buy one of these vouchers as a gift, it's a perfect opportunity to arrange to have a cleaner as a one off in your own home without a weekly commitment.

I also think that one of these vouchers would be the perfect gift to give a mum to be at a baby shower! Those first few weeks are so insanely busy that a cleaner would be the perfect gift! I've already told hubby when I have baby number two I'm most definately buying the voucher for a cleaner 2 hours a week for 4 weeks to make those first few weeks a little more manageable!

You are able to purchase the vouchers directly from the Cleaning Gift Vouchers website. It's the perfet last minute gift as the voucher can instantly be emailed to you to print off and place in a card!

We received this voucher free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

REVIEW: My 1st Years Snowman

When Xander was born we received lots of wonderful gifts, but my favourite by far was two items from our good friends Andy and Suzanne:

These were purchased from a company called My 1st years. A website selling literally the most beautiful personalised gift items for little ones for all occasions.

Those of you who follow me on twitter (@craftythinker) will know that I'm absolutely obsessed with christmas! And keen to mark Xander's first Christmas with some super special presents, so I was delighted when My 1st Years offered to send one of their personalised cuddly snowmen for us to review!

It arrived (as all My 1st Years gifts) in a beautiful keepsake gift box:

And just look how gorgeous this snowman is:

He's super soft and really snuggly! His jumper has been personalised with Xander's name! With embroidered facial features there are no loose parts to be concerned with and perfectly safe for your little one to play with!! I can't wait to give this to Xander this Christmas and imagine he will become a regular visitor each Christmas in our house!!

My 1st Years slogan is 'Made with love' and anyone receiving a gift from My 1st years will understand why. Each item we've received from them has been beautifully made and so personal to the recipient which makes each item so unique! With each item beautifully packaged in a stunning gift box they make the most special gifts for little people!! There's still time to order for Christmas. Click here to access their website!

We received this item free of charge for the purpose of this review all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

REVIEW: Snow Boots From Tiny Feet Hampers

When Tiny Feet Hampers showed a pic of their super cute snow booties I instantly tweeted back asking what sizes they were available in and the price.

They instantly came back to me saying that you can buy them in sizes 6-12 month, 12-18 month and 18-24 month and available at the bargain price of £2.50 + £2.50 P&P! I was even more excited by the fact that Sarah from Tiny Feet Hampers offered to send us a pair free of charge to review!!

They arrived beautifully wrapped in polythene and gift ribbon:

With the super chilly weather these have been perfect for Xander to wear! They're beautifully made and look how super cute they are on:

Tiny Feet Hampers website is most definitely one you want saved in your favourites. The one stop shop for gift baskets for baby showers, new babies, christenings and birthdays! Get your orders in before the 19th December to ensure christmas delivery!!!

We received these booties free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views expressed are my own.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

REVIEW: Christmas Keepsake Box from Inspiration4U

Anyone who knows me will know that I'm completely sentimental. I keep absolutely everything: cards, gift tags, letters, postcards and pretty much everything else! Anything that has a memory attached I keep!

I already have a memory box for Xander where I have stored away his scan pics, new baby cards, hospital wristbands, newspapers from the day he was born, his first outfit, bits from the Olympics and lots of other bits which I'm sure he'll consider junk in years to come.

I was therefore delighted when Inspirations4u offered to send a Personalised Handmade First Christmas Memory Box to review for Xander:

I'm a massive fan of anything handmade and just think that the reindeer on this box is so cute!!

I love the personalised nature of this box. It makes it so special and perfect to store all Xander's first Christmas memorabilia. I've already popped his Memories Made letter from Santa in there for safe keeping!

I think one of these boxes would be the perfect christmas gift for a small baby. It's not to late to order in time for Christmas. You can order through their website and you'll have to email with the baby's name.

All Items are handmade to order so please allow up to 7 days for dispatch, Inspiration4u have informed me that as long as you get your order in before the 16th December it should be with you in time for Christmas!

We recieved this item free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

REVIEW: Slug and Snails Boy Tights

Slugs and Snails is the original boys tights company, set up by a mum who living on a chilly hill on the West Coast of Ireland recognised a gap in the market for a product that could keep little boys snug and warm. The result a complete range of tights in masculine fun designs and bright, bold colours!

The lovely folks at Slugs and Snails offered us a pair of Hampton design tights for us to wear and I couldn't wait to put Xander in them. Admittedly hubby was a little sceptical of the concept of boys in tights, but once he saw how fab they looked on he was won around!

The hampton design are baby blue with a fun sailboat design. We found the colours within the design made it very easy to match the tights up with tops we had in Xander's wardrobe.

I first put Xander in his tights when he was feeling unwell. I could tell straight away how comfy and warm he was. Exactly what you want for your little one, especially when feeling under the weather.

The other outcome I liked about these tights was the flexibility Xander had in them. After just a day of wearing them Xander became more aware of his feet and began to put his feet together and lift them up to play with them!!

To summarise - pros and cons:

Heres some of the pros of Slug and Snails boy tights (some identified by the company and some myself):
•No more lost or odd socks.
•Warm legs and snuggly toes.
•Flexible yarn and generous sizing allowing room for nappies and chubby legs
•Soft non-slip text on the soles, ideal for wooden or ceramic floors.
•Funky designs loved by little ones.
•Unlike many girls tights the design doesn't stop at the knee meaning you can wear them without trousers and you can easily couple the tights with a top/ jumper.
•The perfect potty training emergency outfit, just pop a pair in your bag and you have trousers and socks ready to wear with minimal fuss.
•Beautiful packaging ideal for gifts and baby showers.
•A possible stocking filler gift.
•Fair price, cheaper than most trousers.
•Nice and quick to select outfits for baby. Pair of tights and a top, hey presto! Perfect for when you're on the go!
•A warm but fairly thin layer which is perfect to put on baby underneath a chunky snow suit.
•Perfect if like Xander he was born in summer and friends and family brought clothes for the baby in larger sizes but they were summer designs (such a shorts/ romper suits) you can just pop a pair of tights on underneath)
•Unisex designs (although marketed for boys the designs could be ideal for parents keen not to dress their little one in the stereotypical colours/ designs.
•Ideal when babies are in the in-between stages of clothes (I.e when 0-3 month is too small and 3-6 month is too big, isn't that so annoying!)
•Some positive comments from some of the mums at Xander's baby group (two little boys there are regular tight wearers but their mums hadn't heard of Slugs and Snails and wore plain grey/ navy blue tights) they were delighted to discover they existed!

•We had a couple of comments from family members who were less keen on the concept of boys in tights. I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

However we're completely sold on these tights and will certainly be buying more pairs in the months and years to come!

We received these tights free of charge for the purpose of this review. Views expressed are my own.