6/29/2018

Mummy & Me - June 2018



Here we are, at the end of another month! Where is the year going? It's already time for our monthly Mummy & Me post. How gorgeous has June been? Summer has only just officially started but we've had glorious sun for weeks now, we really can't complain about the weather this year! We are in our element when it's sunny so we've had lots of days out this month, we've been to Alton Towers, CBeebies Land, to the seaside,  to the Sealife Centre and to our usual spots like Towneley Park and so on. We've also spent a lot of time outside in the garden, splashing about in the paddling pool and cooling down with ice creams. I wish the weather was like this all year round! 

Anyway, here are the two photo's I've picked for this months post. The first being one of the shots that Noah took of Ava and me on a warm summer afternoon. We'd taken a walk down to a local pond, sat down to have a little rest and to play I spy and he decided he wanted to take some photographs. I think I had about 50 shots of Ava and I and then half a dozen of his feet and random blades of grass. The second photo is a silly selfie that we took after a family meal out for Nick's 32nd Birthday. I can't believe how grown up he looks in the photo!

6/28/2018

Casdon Role Play Toys - Review



Casdon is a brand which is loved throughout the country and beyond, one which has been a household name for the past 65 years. They have such an extensive range of role-play toys, so it's no surprise that their products are still used to this day and often spotted everywhere, from libraries through to playgroups. We were recently sent a bundle of their toys to review, the Little Henry Mop and Bucket, the Shopping Trolley and Play Food Set. All three toys are suitable from 3 years so be vigilant if younger siblings want to play too. 


I thought I'd start the review with the Henry Mop Bucket. Minimal assembly is required here but take note when applying the stickers as I put one on back to front, whoops! It's quite a small toy which is great for parents as it means we can store it away, nice and tidy. Ava, in particular, has taken quite a shine to it, she's always tinkering around, wearing it like a handbag. This week has been so hot so I filled it with a little cold water, sat outside in the sun and she went to town on the garden path and gave it a good clean! It was a great way to keep her cool too. Retailing at around £6.99 online, it's well worth the money. It's a fantastic toy, one which will nurture children's imaginations whilst helping them develop future life skills.



Next, we have the Play Food Set and this was the kids really couldn't wait to open this one! This of course was no surprise, the brightly coloured 44 piece set looks impressive, inviting and very exciting. The box is filled to the brim of different fruits, veg, meat, condiments and cans. I wouldn't say they are the best quality play foods I've ever come across but with a retail price of just £12.00, you really can't complain! I think the Play Food Set is not only great for encouraging role play but it's also a learning resource too. We've play shops and restaurants together but we've also used them to colour sort and have sorted them into different food groups too.



Last but not least we have the Casdon Shopping Trolley with retails at just £14.99. On opening the box I realised that I decided to give the assembly of this toy a miss and wait for my better half to do it. It was the right decision as there was a lot of bits and pieces and it required a screwdriver and hammer. It took Nick around 20 minutes to put together with a few sighs here and there, but he eventually got there! It's quite a sturdy little trolley so it was worth the time it took to put together. Included with the trolley are numerous boxes of play foods which also need to be assembled. There's also two cans of food and two pieces of fruit. 

The Trolley is the kids favourite out of the three toys that Casdon sent us to review. They've spent so much time pushing it around and filling it with the groceries that come with it and the pieces from the Food Play Set. When it comes to roleplay Noah tends to be the shopkeeper while Ava is the customer, or should I say, she comes and messes up Noah's shop and then and runs off. It's also doubling up nicely for a buggy for her dolls!


Casdon are the brand to go to when looking for role play toys, toys which nurture kids imaginations and ones which are purse friendly and won't break the bank. Head over to their website to take a look at all the other role play toys that they have available.

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

6/27/2018

3 Sporting Activities Busy Parents Will Love



If you happen to be one of the many people with a family, then it’s likely that you’re constantly looking for ways that you can improve their wellbeing. Although the approach may differ from family to family, there are some fundamentals for you to consider. For some, it may be spending quality time together on a regular basis, while for others, ensuring everyone sticks to a wholesome diet may be more of a priority. Another thing to consider when thinking about your family’s well-being is making fitness part of your lifestyle. You can get the ball rolling by leading by example and finding activities you enjoy doing. The good news is that there are many different sporting activities that you can engage with that should fit into your schedule. On that note, here are some sporting activities that you’re likely to love as a busy parent.

Yoga Classes
There are so many sporting activities that you can choose from as a busy parent, so when trying to choose one, you should think about your personal interests. If, for instance, you’re looking for an activity that will make you feel relaxed as well as help relieve some stress, then yoga classes such as the ones you can find on
www.hulahub.com may be a good fit. This fitness activity usually consists of stretching, meditating, clearing your mind and breathing, making it an exercise that is good for both the mind and the body. There are also several life-changing benefits of yoga which include living a happier life, personal growth, and improved general wellbeing.

Cycling
In addition to yoga, cycling is another sporting activity that you as a busy mum may love. There are so many health benefits associated with cycling, so, if you have specific fitness goals, it’s an ideal way to get your cardio in. Another benefit of cycling includes the fact that it’s also a form of transport so can be incorporated into the school run! It can also be relatively inexpensive and is a way of helping the environment if you choose to cycle instead of drive. Further to all of this, of course, is that it is also a way of keeping fit! You should note that if you want to build your cardiovascular fitness, it is advised that you cycle for at least 150 minutes every week.

Swimming

For the mums who enjoy the water and are looking for something a little more refreshing, swimming may be the ideal sporting activity for you. It may not be something that you can do every day, but depending on your schedule and how close your nearest swimming pool is, you may be able to swim for an hour a day after work or on weekends. Swimming is a great choice of activity because it keeps your heart rate up, builds endurance, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and tones your muscles which are all things you need as a busy and active mum.

As a parent who doesn’t have much spare time, you may find it difficult to balance your work life with kids growing up and their demands. With a little determination and time management, however, it’s possible to find time for things such as sporting activities, either on your own or with your family. On that note, hopefully, the activities mentioned above have motivated you to get up and get started!

- This is a guest post.

6/25/2018

Little Live Bizzy Bubs Cute Carrier - Review



Little Live Bizzy Bubs are the newest range to be released within the Little Live franchise. You may be familiar with the animals and bugs, but now they've created a big band of babies and they couldn't be any cuter! Introducing, Bizzy Bubs, babies on the move, looking for a Mummy or Daddy to take care of them!


When we agreed to review Bizzy Bubs we didn't know which baby we'd receive and to our delight, we were graced with Swirlee and the Cute Carrier. Swirlee is a sight for sore eyes with her bright blue hair, swirled up like an ice cream, finished with a pink ice cream hair slide. She has a nappy which resembles an ice cream cone with pink and white, melted ice cream. Her baby carrier matches her ensemble, with the pink, white and blue detailing. She also comes with a pink bottle and pacifier.


Swirlee is a sweetie pie and is full of lots of little surprises. Simply press the button on her nappy to hear her talk, coo and play peekaboo, just like a real baby! When she's tired, place her in her carrier for a rest, then you can feed her with the little bottle or give her the dummy. All of these elements are fantastic for role play and a great way to encourage little ones to use their imagination.


The kids love toys like these, anything which looks cute, moves and makes noise is always a winner with them. Noah really enjoyed looking after the Bizzy Bubs, making sure that she was fed and well rested. He also supervised when Ava decided she wanted to play too. As you can see by her face she's also a big fan of Little Live Bizzy Bubs!

We adore Swirlee, she's such a fun little toy and one which I think the kids will enjoy for years to come. There are 7 Bizzy Bubs in total, all of which have their own little personalities and do different things! I think we may need to collect them all. 


The Little Live Bizzy Bubs Carrier is suitable for children 5 years+ due to the small dummy and bottle. The set retails at £22.99 and is available online from Character Options and in most toy stores. Check out the UKMums.tv takeover from the 2nd July and for more info on the twitter party where you could win Bizzy Bubs prizes!

- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

Ways To Revamp Your Garage For Summer


Garages aren't just for storing and keeping your car safe, they can be used in a multitude of different ways. We are notorious for using ours as a storage hub, so much so that long gone are the days that we can actually fit out car in there! Honestly, walking into it you'd think you were on an episode of hoarders! Whenever we aren't sure about getting rid of something we tend to pop it into the garage for safe keeping until we know what to do with it. Then, of course, we forget all about it and years later the item is still sat there, gathering dust!


This Summer we decided that we can no longer ignore the garage and the mess that we've created, it was time to roll up our sleeves and sort it. Here are 5 ways we are revamping our garage for summer.

Clear out
First things first, we are going to get in there and recycle or throw away everything that is on it's "last legs" and that we've not used in a couple of years. I think this will free up the majority of the space in there and make the revamping process a lot easier.

Donate
Items which have life left in them I plan to donate to local charities such as the RSPCA and Pendleside Hospice. Every couple of months we tend to do this around the house so it's about time that we did the same in the garage too.

Organise
Another way to inject some order into the garage, once everything is streamlined is to organise the garage in a more functional way. Before we started using the garage as a storage space we didn't really have set places for items and just placed things where they fit. Car equipment was here there and everywhere, which was a nightmare when it came to trying to find something in particular.

Create a space
We are hoping that by having a clear out, donating and by organising the garage that we'll free up enough room to create a little man cave area for Nick. Being a Dad to two young children, he doesn't get much time to play his guitar anymore and I think that having his own space to jam out will be great for him. It would also mean my ears would get a break from the noise too! 

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share with me?

- This is a PR Collaboration.

6/22/2018

Sweet Pups Collectable Soft Toys - Review & Giveaway



If you read our reviews then you will know that we are suckers for collectables and have so many different collections on the go. This week we were introduced to one of the newest toys on the market, Sweet Pups!


Sweet Pups are a cute range of soft, plush puppies hidden inside scrumptious looking pastries. They appear to look like the most delicious croissants, macaroons and sticky buns on the outside, they also smell good enough to eat with their sweet pastry scents. But wait, they aren't edible, there's a wonderful surprise hidden inside instead! A super cute puppy!

In series 1 there are 12 adorable dog breeds to collect! From pugs and poodles through to boxers and beagles, there's a pup for everyone! Each dog has their own name and 1 of 4 sweet scents. Choosing your favourite Sweet Pup will be as difficult as deciding on which sweet treat to go for when at a wonderful patisserie!


The kids were sent a Sweet Pup each and they were both so excited when they arrived. Ava chose the yellow macaroon and Noah opted for the chocolate pastry, no squabbles there although they've both agreed to share. Ava is a little young to be able to open up the pup on her own but with a little instruction Noah opened them both up and was amazed when he discovered two puppies inside.


Inside the chocolate pastry we discovered a brown and black pooch called Sweety Peety and inside the yellow macaroon was a grey and white pup named Rex. Both are extremely cute and are just the right size for little hands. I can see the kids wanting more of them and I have to admit that the pink macaroon is next on our wishlist! 
Sweet Pups retail at £7.99 each and are available to buy online or at Claire's Accessories at the end of the month.

Now how would you like to win a Sweet Pup? To enter simply use the Gleam form below! Good luck and don't forget to 
enter my other blog competitions!

Sweet Pup Collectable Toy

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will the prize mentioned above.
2. Winners details sent to Wire PR & the prize sent directly by them. 
3. Competition ends 22/07/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

6/21/2018

7 Tips All New Fashion Photographers Need To Know


Any type of photography can be hard to master. However, there is one particular type of photography that is harder than most. This is fashion photography. That said, just like many other forms of photography, once you know what you are doing, then you can easily master it. To help you along the way, we have put together 7 tips that all new fashion photographers should make the effort to know.


Be confident
When you are at a fashion photo shoot you are going to be responsible for making sure that your models are in the right place, the right position and are just generally following direction. This means that you are going to have to give off an air of confidence, even if you are feeling nervous and anxious about the photoshoot. That way, your models will trust in you and will listen to what you have to say.

Prepare everything in advance
Fashion photoshoots move at a fast pace, which means that you are going to be rushing around just to get it done. The last thing that you are going to want is to heap more stress on yourself. This is why we think that it is a good idea to try your very best to prepare as much as you can in advance. Think about the looks that you want to create and have everything that will create that look put together. This will ensure that you feel a little less stressed about everything as the day goes on.

Take a look at posing ideas
Posing is a huge part of any fashion shoot and whilst some models may know the best ways to hold themselves, it might be a good idea to take a look at some current magazines and photo shoots that are already out there, which will give you some ideas on how you should expect your models to carry themselves and pose.

Start in a studio
Whilst some fashion photo shoots are out and about, if you are brand new to photography then you might want to think about starting off in a studio instead. A studio may not always seem like the most interesting of setting, but it is the ideal place to get used to the process. Within a studio, you will always have the right lighting, and you will have your equipment to hand. Best of all, there are plenty of studios up for rent out there, which you can hire as and when you need to use them.

Always have more light than you need
If there is one key element that every photographer should get to grips with it is lighting. Lighting is key to ensuring that your photos look the best they can and thankfully, light is something that you can control yourself. Of course, the very best light comes from natural sources, however, if these are not available then you can turn to artificial sources and still have the same impact. Just make sure that you always have more light than you need.

Move around to get different viewpoints
One thing that you will quickly realise about fashion photography is that in order to get the very best photos, you are going to need to move around and take the pictures from a number of different viewpoints. You simply cannot stand still and hope for the best, you are going to need to get up high, crouch down low and take pictures from all angles, that is the only way to ensure that you capture the best shot.

Get some help
Everyone likes to think that they can do things alone, however, when you are first starting out in fashion photography, you may find that it is worthwhile having a helping hand. It might just be to ensure that you have everything that you need, to fetch over things and perhaps to hold lights or reflectors. Believe us, you will be grateful to have them around in the long run.

If you are just starting out on your fashion photography journey, then you might want to make sure that you have the basics set out first. One of the best ways to do this is to take a photography course online. These come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, which means that you are definitely going to find one that matches in with what you need. Then, who knows what you can do? You might move on to fashion photography, wedding photography or anything else in-between.

- This is a sponsored guest post.

6/20/2018

Learning Resources Smart Scoops Math Set - Review



Learning Resources are my go-to brand when I want to buy a fun toy for the kids, one which is entertaining but educational too. My children, like most kids their age, learn best through play so their toys and activity sets are just the ticket.

When asked to choose a couple of toys for the kids to review I was so impressed by the choice and variety of products that are readily available on their website. Although there's so much to choose from, the website is very easy to use, with straightforward categories to navigate through.

After changing my mind a couple of times I chose a colour sorting food set from the New Sprouts range for Ava, which I'll be reviewing at a later date. I then let Noah choose which product that he'd like. I showed him lots of different options and after deliberating for a little while he decided to go for the Smart Scoops Math Set. I'll be honest, it wasn't the maths that attracted him to it, it was the ice creams and the prospect of being an "ice cream man!"


The Smart Scoops Math Set encourages early maths skills, in a fun, exciting and engaging way. It helps builds their sorting, patterning, and colour recognition along with basic additions and fine motor skills. It's also a great way to nurture their imagination as it's superb for role play too. 

On opening, we were both really impressed with the activity set. Just like the other Learning Resources toys that we own, it's made with such quality and you can see that a lot of thought and attention has been put into creating it.

Inside the box are; 
4 Colour bowls, 4 Cones, 20 Icecream Scoops (5 of each colour), Fine motor ice cream scooper, 23 Double-sided cards, a Spinner and a lidded container. The Smart Scoops Math Set is a very impressive playset as there are multiple ways that it can be played with. Activities such as creating Colour Patterns, Colour Sorting, Ordering, Counting, Matching Numbers, Sums, Scooping, Role Play and so much more.



There are seven activity suggestions in the instruction book which we found very helpful. The instructions can also be found online which is great to know in case you ever lose them. Noah enjoys each game but his top three activities are below, these are the ones that he plays over and over again.

Colour Sorting
Set out the bowls. Using the scooper, help the child lift the scoops out of the container and into the matching-colour bowls. Ask the child to name the colours and place the correct colour-word card in front of each bowl. To randomize colour identification, let the child twirl the spinner, name the colour it lands on, and lift that scoop out of the container and into its matching-colour bowl.

Colour Patterns
Lay out the pattern cards. Select one, and say aloud the colour pattern as you take each scoop out of the container (“yellow, green, yellow, green…”). Have the child copy the pattern, stacking the scoops on a cone in the correct order. Then, ask, “Which colour comes next in this pattern?” Have the child stack the scoop that comes next. Continue with other pattern cards.

Order Up
Time for role play! Let the child pretend to be an ice-cream server by filling your scoops?” Or, 3 order. Give a simple counting instruction: “May I have a cone with test the child’s working memory by placing an order based on a colour sequence: “Today I’d like a bowl with one red, one blue, and one green scoop.” Can the child remember and re-create your exact order? Use the pattern cards for inspiration! 


The Smart Scoops Math Set retails at just £20.00, is suitable for ages 3-7 and I cannot recommend it enough. It's probably Noah's favourite toy at the moment, he's not stopped playing with it since it arrived and I've already noticed his confidence growing when it comes to maths. It will also be a great resource for me to use in the summer holidays ahead of him starting school, one which will keep him busy too! 

- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

6/18/2018

When Life Gives You Lemons



When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or better yet, go outside in you lemon print dress and have the time of your life! I recently won a handmade dress over on Instagram, Ava looked so cute wearing it and the weather was gorgeous. It was the perfect opportunity to get out my DSLR camera and to take some photos of her. I was only snapping away for a couple of minutes, in a field next to our house but I managed to get some really sweet shots of her sitting amongst the buttercups and running up and down the little hills. I then packed the camera back inside the bag and watched her explore. She kept investigating the flowers and then she'd toddle up to the top of the small incline and then run down it as fast as she could. Sometimes her legs were going so fast that I was surprised she managed to stay upright, she had so much fun!


Just in case you were wondering, the dress is from The Cambridge Teepee Company and the bow is from Petal & Grace. If you like the look of the dress and bow then definitely pop over, have a look at their other pieces and perhaps give their page a follow!

It's the little things in life which make you the happiest. Watching my daughter run free through the flowers, with a beaming smile and without a care in the world, that's sheer bliss and I soaked up every moment.

Country Kids