2/11/2016

Wicked Uncle - Review & Competition


A few weeks ago a friend linked me to a blogger request over on twitter. Wicked Uncle wanted to work with bloggers and the first few people to reply to their tweet would be chosen. I was on my way to playgroup with Noah at the time but thankfully replied in the nick of time. By working with Wicked Uncle I was given a £40 voucher to spend on their site in return for this review.

In case you didn't know Wicked Uncle are an online store which specialise in children's presents. The site offers a wide range of different toys and gifts which are all listed in different categories; by gender, by age, by type, what's popular and what's new. I loved this about Wicked Uncle because it made my shopping experience easy and enjoyable. I was able to find what I wanted to buy for Noah in a matter of minutes and this rarely happens to me when shopping online. I also found that there was plenty of variety on offer and everything was competitively priced too. I must add that delivery was very reasonably priced and it was delivered quickly and without a hitch.



Before even browsing the website I knew I wanted to choose educational toys for Noah. Like most two year old's he hasn't got the greatest attention span but recently he's started showing an interest in learning. With this in mind I thought I would opt for some puzzles and maybe something to do with colours and numbers.


First I chose the Nesting & Sorting Garage and Cars which is priced at £22.50. I instantly knew Noah would adore this as it ticks all the boxes for him; numbers, colours and cars! With this set you receive 7 coloured and numbered wooden cars in all different sizes which match up to the 7 coloured, numbered and different sized cardboard garages. There are so many different ways to play and learn with these toys from stacking, to counting, learning colours, playing hide and seek, mix and match and lots of imaginative play. 


The next item I chose was the Vehicle Sound Blocks which cost £12.95 and also from Melissa & Doug, a brand we know and love. Noah has a great love for vehicles and the sounds they make so I just had to go for this. The toy consists of two large wooden blocks with vehicle pictures on all six sides. Once you match up the two pictures and place in the caddy a vehicle sound plays. Noah doesn't have much patience so the fact that these blocks make a noise when correctly aligned makes him concentrate for longer. These blocks aren't just lots of fun but they are great for education purposes too.


Last but certainly not least we have the Chunky Dinosaur Puzzle at just £8.95. Noah has a new found love for Dinosaurs and has recently become very good at puzzles so I thought this would make a great addition to our collection. The chunky pieces are easy to handle and put into place and I love how bright and colourful it is.

All three items did cost me more than the £40 voucher which was provided but I loved them all so much I didn't mind putting a little bit extra towards it.







Noah has really enjoyed playing with each toy as you can see by the photo's above. Each one keeps him entertained and interested and I can see us both having countless hours of fun with them. 


I'm really impressed with Wicked Uncle on all fronts and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending them to a friend or making a purchase with them again in the future. 

We've enjoyed these toys so much I've decided to run a competition out my own pocket. How would you like to win the Melissa & Doug Dinosaur puzzle which is featured in this review? To enter all you need to do is use the Gleam form below. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other competitions.



Melissa & Doug Wooden Dinosaur Puzzle

t&c-

1. 1 prize to 1 winner.
2. Prize supplied by myself.
3. Competition ends 21/03/16

4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

5 savings you can make by moving to a bigger home




With our renovation work coming to an end, I can’t help but think back to when we were first looking at properties to buy. The excitement, but also the worries. Although taking on a bigger place is scary, there are plenty of reasons why you should; here are a few of mine…


1. Save on rent money
One of the main reasons I wanted Nick and I to buy our own place was that I hated the thought of all the money we had spent on rent with nothing to show for it. There’s some-thing comforting about knowing that every piece of furniture we add and every payment we make on our mortgage is going towards our family home, rather than just a roof over our heads. Think of it more like an investment in your family!
2. Save on stress
I’m so glad we moved when we did. If getting out of the renting game was one of the main reasons for moving, the ability to provide a stable and happy home for Noah to grow up in was definitely the other. Was it easy moving into a home that needed renovation with our little boy? Of course not, but was it worth it? Completely. By choosing to move to a bigger home in anticipation of a growing family, you take all that inevitable stress away. You know that in a few years’ time, you won’t be the one desperate to move, but with money tighter, your family larger and your commitments far greater. If you have the opportunity to do it now, go for it!
3. Save on value
We bought a home that needed work because we could see its potential. It also meant that we could add value ourselves though, instead of buying somewhere that had already had its value increased by the previous owner.

It was a big decision, but we knew that adding the value ourselves would mean a little pot of extra money if we came to sell it on in future. Plus, all the interior furnishings are ours any-way, so we haven’t lost anything there. It’s definitely worth looking into this side of the buying process though, as not all projects are good ones! You can read more on this here.
4. Save through earning
We moved because we wanted to create a home for Noah and for our future, but don’t think that moving to a bigger place has to be used for a family right away. You can easily buy a property with the potential to be a great family home, but rent out one or two of the rooms in the mean time.

This can be a great source of income, but it’s always best to consult a professional first, and there are plenty of Leeds estate agents that can give you the sound financial advice in this area of expertise.


I hope I’ve given you guys something to think about. Are you thinking of moving to a bigger home? Let me know your thoughts!

2/10/2016

5 things you need to know when renovating


If you follow my blog you will already know that Nick and I were fortunate enough to buy our first home recently. After years and years of renting it was such relief to finally be able to get out feet on the property ladder. Renting left such a bitter taste in my mouth as it seemed like we were throwing our money down the drain, where as now we have a mortgage we are paying into something, our future.

Buying our first home was a huge deal but as if that wasn't hard enough the house we fell in love with and decided to buy needed a lot of work. By a lot of work I mean it needed stripping back to bare bricks. It was one long process but now being at the other side of our renovation I decided to share a few things I learned a long the way.


1. Be realistic
If like us you have a big job on your hands make sure you keep in mind not only a reasonable time frame but also a reasonable cost. With realistic plans in mind you won't be disappointed at any stage. 

2. Upcycle Upcyle Upcyle 
With a new house you often want to buy new furniture but don't throw away your old bits and pieces as they can easily be revamped with a lick of paint. Many of the furnishings in our house are family hand me downs or charity shop finds that we have up cycled by simply sanding and repainting white.

3. Don't stress
Our renovation took 5 long months and while the work was being done we lived with relatives. Noah wasn't even one at the time and the whole thing was so stressful. We needed to go and do the work and people had to watch Noah for us, it was a hard time. In hindsight I wish I hadn't of stressed so much, it took time but we go there in the end and the outcome is so worth it.

4. Bargain hunt 
Once we had paid for everything we needed for the renovation there wasn't much money left over to play with. We had to really bargain hunt and got some great deals by doing so, a next to new 4 piece bathroom suite for under £500 for example! 


5. Enlist your family and friends
The people closest to you will probably be over the moon for you when you buy your property and will want to help out where they can. Don't be shy to ask for help! If you have any plumbers, kitchen fitters or electricians in the family get them on board as you will save a small fortune. Our Granddad helped us create a garden space for next to nothing and the video below shares some great tips.





- This is a PR Collaboration

2/09/2016

My Bucket-List Travel Dreams



With our Spanish holiday lingering on the horizon and the terrible weather we’ve been experiencing, I’ve found myself suffering from a serious case of wanderlust recently. I’m so excited for when Noah gets a little older and we can take him to different places. Once of the things that’s so important to me as a mother is to fill his childhood with happy memories, but there are a few things of my own that I want to do too. Nick and I took a four-year break from travelling, so here are just a few things on my bucket list for the future…


Go skiing in the Swiss Alps
I want to try new things on my holidays, and as Noah grows older I want to give him a variety of experiences. I’ve always wanted to stay in a log cabin surrounded by snow-capped mountains, with nothing to worry about but putting more logs on an open fire. Grindelwald, Switzerland, in particular is one of the most picturesque resorts for this - a quaint little village, it looks like something straight out of a postcard. Fingers crossed I won’t have to wait too long to head over to the slopes.


Take a romantic break in Italy
Nick and I have never been hugely romantic - Valentine’s Day is just a another day to us most of the time. I’d like to make more time for us in future trips though, and the thought of a long weekend in an Italian stone cottage sounds like the perfect treat. Will we head for cosmopolitan Milan, or head out for the evening with a pair of Rome opera tickets in hand? We haven’t decided yet, but I’m sure it will be the romantic break we need.


Dance to the Cuban beat
Cuba looks to me like one of the most unusual cities on earth; stuck in a 1950s time warp, the colourful buildings, mis-matched architecture and retro cars look like such fun, and a great place for Noah to explore. Given that it’s the birthplace of some of the most exciting Latin American dancing, it would be rude not to join in! Fingers crossed I will remember to take some heels for the trip.


See the Northern Lights
I think this one is probably on a lot of people’s bucket lists. Most people tend to think about staying in Iceland and taking a few days to go on a tour though. There are actually a lot more options for seeing the Northern Lights, as well as many more natural beauties to take in along the way. For one, I think Noah would love a trip to Alaska where we can go around the National Parks before heading out to see the Lights. Or we might be less adventurous and take a cruise around Scandinavia. I guess it will depend on how brave we’re feeling at the time!


I hope this has given you some inspiration for your own travels. Do you have any bucket list trips planned?

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Harness Backpack - Competition


Another favourite brand of ours has got to be Little Tikes. They have been around for years and I'm always looking forward to the new products they release, the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe Harness Backback being one of them. 

As small children set off for their first adventure make sure they are well prepared with the brand new Cozy Coupe Backpack Harness £14.99. The Backpack allows little ones to keep all their precious things together and features a removable strap, so you can hold on to them as they grow in confidence. The colourful Cozy Backpack even features a name tag with emergency contact details on, perfect for nursery or school trips.


More details-

Padded and extra-long adjustable shoulder straps to grow with your child
Remove the tether and it becomes a mini-backpack

Secure easy to attach swivel clip that will prevent tether strap tangles
Fun Cozy Coupe printed face on front of backpack
Generous room to store toys and snacks on-the-go



How would you like to get your hands on one? To enter all you need to do is use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other blog competitions

a Rafflecopter giveaway

t&c-

1. 1 prize to 1 winner.
2. Prize supplied directly from the PR.
3. Competition ends 15/03/16
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.