Our Back To School Favourites

AD - This post contains PR samples and review products.

It's back to school is in a matter of days and if you are anything like me then you'll still be scrambling to get everything sorted. I like to think that it will all come together when it's ready. That said, I hope this blog post will give me the nudge that I need to be more prepared, and maybe it will introduce you to a couple of new bits and pieces.

First, on my list are the new BIC Gelocity quick drying pens - RRP £6.49 for a pack of 3. They have been my first port of call as they are ideal for making back to school lists. Noah has also been practicing his handwriting with them and likes how there are so many different colours to choose from. They also dry super quick and are suitable for both lefties and righties. You can buy them at Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Ryman or online at Amazon.

We are all delighted with this personalised art set from I Just Love It. It retails at £29.99 and contains everything needed to become a little artist. In fact, inside are an impressive 63 pieces; coloured pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, paint, a ruler, paintbrush, eraser, and sharpener. I had it personalised with both of their initials and I'm sure they'll use it for years to come.

I adore books and thankfully, so do Noah and Ava. We have our day to day picture books, bedtime books and themed books for events like Christmas and Halloween. Then we have books which are designed to help children through different stages in their lives, like Mummy having a new baby, potty training, going to school and so on. I won these two books in a competition a while back and they've been perfect for Noah and Ava with school and nursery coming up. The sticker book is from Galt and the board book is from Campbell books. I'm not sure on the RRPs but I'm sure you'll find them on Amazon for a great price.

My kids are constantly eating so these Squeezie fruit snacks from Del Monte made our list in a heartbeat. These pouches are 100% real fruit, great for lunchboxes and after school treats. They are great for snacking on during long journeys, enjoying as a refreshing fruit burst or added to cereal or porridge in the morning. They come in in three fantastic flavours, Apple, Strawberry & Banana, Apple & Mango,and Apple, Strawberry & Blueberry. They also contain no preservatives, no added sugar and one pouch is 1 of their 5 a day. You can buy Del Monte Squeezies from ASDA for just 50p a pouch.

Next, we have two essentials that are a must-have for school, for days out, for picnics at the park - lunch boxes! These personalised lunch boxes are from The Gift Experience and cost £12.99 each. There are a variety of different designs and colours to choose and can be personalised with up to 15 characters. They are a great size and fit right into lunch bags.

Name labels are essential for every parent when their child is starting nursery or going to school. These stick-on and iron-on name labels are from Stickerscape and I received them last week as part of a Peppa Pig back to school collaboration. I've already labeled half a dozen things ready for their big days and they seem like they are such great quality.

Noah and Ava are milk fiends, even more so if it's milkshake! Shaken Udder sent us half a dozen of their school-approved kids milkshakes, to pop into their lunch boxes, or to enjoy after school and they've already guzzled most of them. They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and come in two yummy flavours, strawberry and chocolate. Find out more about them here.

Last but not least, I have a toy that we reviewed a while back, one that is so fantastic that I just have to mention it again. The Super Sorting Pie is from Learning Resources and is one of the kid's favourite toys, however, it's not just lots of fun, there are lots of benefits to it too. It's great for shape, number, and colour sorting, for building hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and much more. The grippers have really helped Noah build the muscles in his hands, which are needed for writing and they also use them in his school. Read our review of the Super Sorting Pie here.

What's your favourite item on this list? Are you ready for back to school?

Getting Ready For Back To School With Peppa Pig - #PeppaBackToSchool

AD - We were sent these products for the purpose of this post.

We've almost made it, it's almost time for the kids to go back to school! Woohoo! I'm saying that in jest of course. We've had a fantastic summer and really enjoyed the quality time together, without school or nursery getting in the way. This time next week Noah will be back in school and at the same time, I'll be starting the nursery admission process for Ava. With two big changes on the horizon, I was delighted to receive a huge bundle of Peppa Pig goodies to help prepare the kids for the next stage in their lives and to enjoy in the lead up to it.

The first two products are two essentials needed for both school and nursery, a lunch bag and a drinks bottle. The Peppa Pig lunch bag retails at £9.99 and is available at CDS (The Range), John Lewis, Amazon and at Peppa Pig World. The matching Peppa Pig drinks bottle retails at £4.99 and can be ordered online at Amazon or at Peppa Pig World. I adore the design and colours on them, they make a change from being just bright pink. Noah and Ava have been sharing the since they arrived, though I think Ava has claimed them! She's really taken a shine to the lunch bag in particular.

Next, we have the Count with Peppa toy and Peppa Pig memory game, two fantastic products. We reviewed the Count With Peppa Toy a few months ago which you can read here. It's a fun, engaging, interactive learning toy and the Noah and Ava play with it all the time. It retails at £19.99 and is available online at Argos. The Peppa Pig Memory game, on the other hand, was new to us and the kids really enjoy playing it together. It costs just £3.99 and can be bought online or instore at Smyths. 

Another back to school essential has got to be name labels. We received a couple of sheets of iron and stick-on labels for both Noah and Ava and they are just the ticket for labeling everything, from, water bottles and lunch boxes, through to school pumps and sweaters. Stickerscape name labels come in an array of different designs, are superb quality and prices start at £7.95. I've already stuck half a dozen on their drinks bottles, next up is the iron in uniform labels.

The My First Peppa Pig Activity Calendar was something that really caught Noah's eye and was one of the first things we opened. It's a large plastic calendar which can be hung up, or propped up on a shelf. It's a great resource for teaching children about dates, seasons, weather, temperatures, and so on. We filled ours out together and now it's now proudly on display in our kitchen. The Peppa Pig calendar costs £8.99 and is available on Amazon.

Wellkid Peppa Pig Multivitamins were a nice addition to our box of back to school goodies and brought a smile to my face. He has quite a balanced diet but I do like to include vitamins as extra support to his nutritional needs. Noah tends to have his daily vitamin after a hearty breakfast before he starts his day. You can purchase these vitamins from Holland and Barrett for £7.95.

Last, but certainly not least is the Peppa Pig stationary set and the Peppa Pig pencil case which retails at £1.50 and £3.00 and both are available from Asda. Together, they make a great back to school bundle and one that doesn't break the bank either. Noah has used them quite a few times over the past couple of days, practicing his writing and doodling some sketches.

Are you ready for back to school? Which do you like the look of the most?

Visiting The Bricklive Paw Patrol Brick Trail in Blackburn

AD - This is a collaborative post.

August is an expensive time of year, the kids are off school and want to be out and about, spending money, here there and everywhere. To try and cut down on costs I like to look out for free days out and activities and I know many other parents do too.

The World’s first Paw Patrol brick trail is a free activity, brought and presented to you by BRICKLIVE in different venues around Blackburn town centre. I think it's a great idea for all the family. Young children will enjoy finding their favourite Paw Patrol characters, whereas older kids will like being in charge of the search and deciphering the clues.

There are three trail maps to choose from; A Paw Patrol quiz and map of the locations, a brick trail map quiz, and a pamphlet of riddles to help find the six mischievous kittens hidden in Blackburn Market. You could tackle them all on the same day, or spread them out over the week and take your time.

The pup models range in sizes from 75cm to 120cm high and the trail also features the Paw Patrol Lookout Tower which stands at 2m tall. There are lots of other Paw Patrol characters to find but I won't spoil the surprise for you. Each of the 21 models has a fun facts sheet and if you scan the QR codes you’ll be in for an extra treat.

Collect trail maps and quizzes from the Ask Me Point in the Mall and in various shops and locations in the town centre. Once finished, return the completed forms to the Ask me Point for your chance to win £100 in high street vouchers.

Bring the family to Brickburn town centre between Friday 23rd of August and 1 st of September to take part. We visited today and had a fantastic time. It probably took us around two hours to complete as there was lots of walking involved, it was great! Visit Blackburn BID for more information.

My Sunday Photo - 33/52

Helping Your Child Transition from Nursery to Big School

AD - This is a PR collaboration.

The move from nursery school to big school is a significant change in your child’s life, and they need to be prepared for the size of that change. That is why I’ve teamed with a Nursery School in London to take you through some things you can do to help them feel prepared. 

Prepare Them For A New Environment

Big school means new school, and that means a new building filled with new people. That can be daunting for a child. A way you can help is to make sure that you both pay a visit to the school before term starts, get into the classroom and meet the teacher. It will make the first day feel much less intimidating if they have already been there before and met their teacher. 

Start A Morning Routine

Even before they start at school, try to build a sense of routine into your child’s morning;. That means coming down at a certain time for breakfast, getting changed and being ready for the day. It’s the kind of routine they’ll need to get used to, so start bringing it into your home a little before they start. You should also make sure your lunchtime is at the same time of day that it would be at school, so then they will get used to their mealtimes being at that time. 

Encourage Independence 

Moving to big school does mean that your child will be spending less time with you. This can be tough for both child and parent, but it is something you should prepare for nonetheless. Set up playdates with kids who will be their classmates, where you perhaps leave them in the care of another parent for a couple of hours. If they’re used to being away from you every now and again, then the time spent away from you at school won’t be as much of a shock.

FlipaZoo World Toys - Review & Giveaway

AD - I was sent these products for the purpose of this review.

FlipaZoo World from Character Options, offers a range of different toys, from soft, cuddly ones, to plastic playsets, each designed to inspire imagination with their unique features. Noah and Ava recently received a couple of toys from the range for the purpose of this review.

Our review bundle featured three different products; a 16" FlipaZoo Plush - RRP £16.99, an 8" FlipaZoo Plush - RRP £9.99, and a FlipaZoo Pod Playset -£9.99. All three products were very eyecatching and appealing and the kids couldn't wait to get their hands on them.

Noah opted for the 16" plush and as you can see it's that huge that he almost couldn't get his arms around it. The large FlipaZoo plushes are available in 6 different designs, well, 12 if you could the animal they flip into! Ours is the elephant plush which switches into a tiger, both of which look so cute and loveable. 

Next, we have the 8" plush which was more suitable for Ava's little hands. Just like the larger version, these are available in a couple of different varieties. Ours is a panda, which flips into a dragon, much to Ava's delight! It didn't take her long to figure out how to flip the animal over and she gets a real sense of achievement when he does. The FlipaZoo soft toys are suitable from birth and I think they are fantastic for building hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

We then have the FlipaZoo Micro Playset and I won't lie in saying I was very underwhelmed when I saw it in and out of its packaging. I thought it wasn't worth the money and that the kids wouldn't be interested, however, I was wrong! These playsets are so fun and very unique. They flip over to reveal another side and feature poppable, interactive features with different textures. The figure which is included also flips over and changes to a different animal. It turned out to be a huge hit with both kids who kept squabbling over it but eventually agreed to share. I think the sensory elements here are great and I would be happy to buy the kids more to expand their collection.

Noah and Ava have loved their introduction to the world of FlipaZoo and I think some of these toys will be on their Christmas list this year. Visit Character Online to order or see the full range of FlipaZoo World products.

How would you like to win a FlipaZoo plush? To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other blog and social media competitions.

FlipaZoo Plush Soft Toy

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who win the prize mentioned above.
2. Winners details will be shared with the PR to arrange delivery of the prize. 
3. Competition ends 08/09/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only

Usbourne That's Not My Flamingo Book & Soft Toy From Rainbow Designs - Review

AD - I was sent these product for the purpose of this review.

Books played an important part in my childhood. I have many fond memories, all revolving around books. I have vivid memories of my Mum reading me stories, over and over, it's all I ever wanted to do. I remember learning to read and being able to read the stories to myself. I also dabbled in writing short stories in school too. Books have always meant a lot to me and I always wanted them to mean something to my children too, so they can reap the many benefits. Thankfully, they do and both of them have adored books from a very young age.

'That’s not my…' books are a favourite of theirs, a range that is enjoyed by youngsters of all ages. There are over 50 books in the collection, some of which we already own, including; That’s Not My frog, truck, unicorn, witch, lamb, pirate and many more. I like to keep a lookout for new releases from the range, to add to our collection so I was delighted to get our hands on That's not my Flamingo gift set. As you can see, Ava was too!

The story starts on the cover, following through to double pages, made from sturdy board. Just like the rest of the stories from the series the tiny mouse in the book is looking for someone, in particular, this time, his flamingo! Designed with tots in mind they are not only are colourful, bright and engaging but they are robust and hard-wearing, perfect for little hands. The touchy-feely parts in the story are fantastic for their senses and tend to be my children's favourite part.

Just when you think it can't get any better, Rainbow Designs release a range of That's not my... soft toys to accompany the books! We, of course, received the flamingo plush with the book and it's so lovely. It's just like the illustration, a great size and it's super soft and cuddly too. Ava really enjoys looking through the book with the flamingo in the crook of her arm. It's like the story has come to life!

That's not my... soft toys cost £9.99 each, the books, £6.99 each and the full range can be seen on the Rainbow Designs website. I'm currently giving away this set over on Instagram. You'll have to enter quickly as it won't be open for long. Good luck!

How To Make Handmade Fashion Jewellery From Recycled Glass

 AD - This is a PR collaboration.

Glass has the unique dual property, extremely useful in protecting the environment and significantly reducing waste: it can be used many times for the packaging of a product and recycled - if worn or broken - unlimited times. Thus, we could virtually eliminate glass packaging waste by generalizing the reuse and recycling of glass bottles and jars. Recycled glass is a beautiful material that has gained ground in the field of jewelry. So many times, you have bought jewelry made from recycled glass without you even knowing it. But why buy them since you can make them with your own hands?

Fusing Recycled Glass
Fusing is a technique of processing glass in special ovens, where the glass is heated from 590 to 850 degrees Celsius in order to obtain the desired texture, shade, and shape.

Historically the fusing technique dates back to around 2000 BC. Archaeological finds of glass testify that the Egyptians were the first to develop glass melting techniques. References are also made to the Romans as the earliest connoisseurs of the fusing process. The fusing technique pre-existed for about 2000 years until it evolved into the blown-glass technique.

Blown Glass Technique
The fusing technique is the casting of the glass in special molds and the process is carried out in a special closed oven. We can predict with relative accuracy the desired result through mathematical formulas and special curves of the glass at different temperatures. We plan the oven and all the stages through which the glass needs to pass, and after 24 hours, we can open it and see the result of our works of art. In the fusing technique, the first basic processes are performed outside the oven.

Cut the glass to the desired shape with a unique cutting diamond or special wheels, and then depending on the type of object, we choose whether to pierce the glass or whether to grind it. In the oven, we can also, if the glasses are compatible with each other, make a composition of more than one piece of glass and become a body with each other during baking. In this way, we can create reliefs and colors that emphasize the second dimension.

The blown glass technique is a process that takes place faster because the craftsmen work the glass masses by hand. The craftsman heats a glass mass in a special oven reaching 1300 degrees Celsius. It then handles the glass mass with the special metal blow tube. It starts shaping the group by rotating the tube, oscillating it, and intervening with other special tools for the final formation. At the same time, it can blow inside the glass mass and create the necessary vacuum. A skilled craftsman is able to give any shape and shape to the glass by rotating the tube, swinging it, and controlling the temperature of the glass mass while blowing.

Of course, there are other glass processing techniques, but certainly, these two are the most common, and their use is more common in the manufacture of handmade jewelry. A company that deals with creative recycling and, more specifically, with the creation of handmade jewelry from recyclable glass is the company Minimis, making beautiful and elaborate products for women and men while respecting and protecting the planet. Discover these exceptional products that will complete and give another feeling to your look and will make you stand out among the crowd.

Our £50 Shop At PoundToy - Review & Giveaway

AD - I was gifted a £50 voucher to use on the website for the purpose of this review.

PoundToy is the place to go to purchase high quality, branded character toys and games for children of all ages. Their online shop has an impressive range of toys, games, puzzles, crafts, and more, all at incredible prices. It's the perfect place for pocket money treats for your children, pass the parcel presents, stocking fillers, and so much more.

As the blog title suggests, I was gifted a £50 voucher to spend at PoundToy. I was already familiar with the brand, having used their website before so I was more than happy to collaborate. With it being the summer holidays it couldn't have come at a better time, especially as it's been raining and we are spending more time indoors. So, without further ado, here is our £50 haul from PoundToy.

Before I started shopping I had a clear idea in mind of what type of products I wanted to buy for the kids, items which will keep them busy during the summer holidays. I headed straight to the craft supplies section first, choosing the Crayola Froze Colour Wonder Set - £4.00, WWE Carry Along Colouring Set - £1.00, Play-Doh Starter Pack - £7.99 and x2 Mighty Marks Markers 50p each. Play-Doh and colouring books always work a treat when I need 5 minutes of peace and they are great to enjoy together too. 

Next, we have a little mish-mash of different types of products; x2 painting aprons - £1.00 each, x2 softballs - £1.00 each, and x2 glitter goo - £1.00 each. The aprons are going to be perfect for a lot of the craft activities I have in mind for the next couple of weeks. The glitter goo is something that I know they'll love but I'm praying they don't smash it into the carpet. I chose the softballs for them to practice catching and throwing, without hurting anyone or breaking a window. All this came to just £6.00!

I then opted for the Paint & Glitter Your Own Piggy Bank - £3.00, a pack of Baff Bombs - £4.00, and a Bubble Buddies Bubble Machine - £6.00. These are all things that I knew the kids would like and things we could open up on different days. I bought the piggy bank set for Ava, although its aimed at children from 5 years of age she'll be a dab hand with it under my supervision. They've already opened the bubble machine and I think it will end up being a permanent feature in our home.

You cannot buy enough snacks and drinks during when you have children, so when I spotted that PoundToy had a couple in stock they went straight into my virtual basket. In went in x1 Despicabe Me Kinder Surprise - £3.00 and x2 boxes of Minions Appy Kids Co drinks - £1.50 each. We reviewed Appy Kids Co drinks a few years ago and they went down really well with Noah at the time. I like that they contain zero sugar and the kids love the fruity taste and the familiar characters on the front. The Kinder Eggs? Who doesn't love them? I hope the kids share! The total here was another bargain at just £6.00.

Last, but by no means least, we have the WWE Pint Size Heroes blind bags. I ordered 6 of them, costing £2.00 each (reduced from £4.99.) WWE and blind bags are two of his all-time favourite things and literally screamed when he saw them in the box! He opened all of them within seconds and was delighted with the wrestlers he found inside. He's already told me that he wants more for his birthday. These cost £12.00 in total, worth every penny they rounded up out total spend to exactly £50.00.

I was blown away with how many products we managed to get with the £50.00 voucher, it went a very long way. I managed to buy everything I had in mind, and more and I was very impressed with how many different toys and games they had on their website. I'll definitely be making a purchase again in the future!

How would you like to win a £25.00 spend at PoundToy? To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other blog and social media competitions.

£25 to spend at PoundToy

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who win the prize mentioned above. Winner can choose the set.
2. Winners details will be shared with the PR to arrange delivery of the prize. 
3. Competition ends 01/09/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only