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Monday, 24 April 2017

Aquabeads Frozen Playset | Review

Lily adores playing with Aquabeads and creating a variety of different designs using the ready-to-use templates for inspiration. On Sunday afternoons she enjoys creating her own designs using her imagination, which requires some concentration and patience but overall she enjoys the entire process. When the opportunity to review the Aquabeads Frozen Playset arose of course I said, yes please! Lily was incredibly pleased when the package arrived and couldn't wait to get stuck in.


What is it?

An arts and crafts product suitable from the age of four. Create designs of popular characters from Frozen using beads which stick together with water.

Aquabeads Frozen Playset


First impressions:

The Aquabeads Frozen Playset is very visually pleasing to the eye, boasting the blue colours associated with Disney's Frozen along with an image of Anna and Elsa. It also showcases what is inside the packaging and an example of what can be created. Lily really impressed and couldn't wait to get the box open.

What is in the box: 

aquabeads frozen playset

  • Bead palette
  • Design Table with layout tray
  • Sprayer
  • Bead pen
  • Double-sided template sheets x 2
  • A variety of coloured solid beads and jewel beads
aquabeads frozen bead set


Assembly:

Although I know the beads will get mixed up, I initially set up the bead palette for Lily. The template tray is simple to use with the design table and align before using the bean pen to drop and position individual beads.

Lily and the Frozen aquabeads


The Lowdown:
  • Aquabeads are an innovation bead art set which allows for the design of template designs or unique creations
  • Keep the Frozen character design to collect or give away as a gift
  • The beads adhere together using a spray mist of water; usually take 1 hour to dry before the otherside can be spray-misted. No mess!
  • The Aquabeads promote creativity whilst helping fine-tune motor skills and dexterity and stimulate imagination
  • Aquabeads playsets are great for independent and group play
Frozen aquabeads playset bead palette

How we got on:


Pros -  Just uses water - no heat, no irons, thereby reducing the amount of adult supevision. The bead palette stores and separates the colours of solid and jewel beads. Good selection of coloured beads to create the Disney Frozen images. Putting the beads into mouths is deterred by the use of a safe bittering agent. It is a good idea to wash hands following playing with the Aquabeads to avoid the transfer of the bittering agent. The instruction leaflet also includes information on repairing a broken and/or bent design which is very useful.



Frozen Aquabeads playset bead palette and tray

Improvements - the bead pen can be a bit temperamental and can drop the bead as it is being lifted away from the palette. The bead palette could house the design/layout tray so everything could be kept together. I'm not convinced of the benefit of holding the layout tray upright (see first image) as the beads could simply drop off and scatter away if they haven't adhered sufficiently. Our playset didn't include the number of yellow Aquabeads which were displayed on the front of the box; as you can see from the photos we only had 4 beads. Lily also found that there weren't enough of the white beads to complete the remaining templates (particularly Elsa) once Olaf was complete, so overall more beads would be appreciated to reflect the image on the box.


Olaf Frozen playset Aquabeads


Price and Where to buy:

Aquabeads Frozen playset is available from £16.99 and can be purchased in a variety of stores and online, including Smyths Toys.

Would we recommend?

We certainly would recommend this bead crafting set for anyone who enjoys Frozen especially and already has existing Aquabead sets. My daughter Lily really enjoys creating the characters and it gets her imagination going to see what else she can create. I'm happy that there is a storage box of sorts for the beads rather than my previous set up of using IKEA plastic sandwich bags. If you have an existing Aquabeads set which can contain everything then you could combine everything to store together. I would recommend overalls to be worn as the water-soluble beads can transfer dye or start to stick to clothing or the floor if they roll away.

Does your child enjoy playing with Aquabeads?

Top tip: Play with the Aquabeads on a lipped tray to prevent the little bead rolling away!

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter Rocky Road Recipe

I loooove rocky road. The squidgier the better. Dry rocky road is not my cup of tea, that is a variation of chocolate refridgerater cake surely! Although, if offered some choc fridge cake with a cup of tea I would most likely accept.

I have recently tried my hand at making marshmallows from scratch. To make them "Easter-y" I swirled through some Wilton food colouring gel; daffodil yellow looked way better than the violet which was darker than I remembered. A good friend reminded me about rocky road, so here I am, showing you my Easter rocky road recipe. What makes them Easter-y? Cadbury Mini Eggs and my homemade Easter marshmallow of course.

I ended up looking up my own recipe from way back when. 4 years ago I decided to try making rocky road to take to said good friend's son's party. I even filmed the recipe for my YouTube channel Sophie and Lily. It did make me smile to listen to my young daughter's noises and squeals. Lily is now five years old, can't believe it!


Making Rocky Road
Melt,stir, crush...

making rocky road
Combine extra ingredients, mix and pour into a pan to set

Rocky Road

Easter Rocky Road

Warning: This is seriously addictive (I wonder why!) so do what I did and give at least half to some friends. Save yourself!

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Dolmio #thankgoodness Challenge

dolmio thank goodness challenge

If you know me in actual life you will know that I have two children who are complete polar opposites when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables. Lily, my eldest, is a fruit bat and calls herself 'broccoli girl' whereas Alexander won't entertain the idea of any fruit or vegetables. He is served fruit and vegetables each day and has got as far as licking a piece or putting it in his mouth but no further.

I try my hardest to incorporate the veggies into his diet, ironically he is partial to an Ella's Kitchen pouch but of late he has been announcing particular flavours as 'ding-ding' (disgusting). Hidden veg sauces take a bit of preparation ahead of time and sometimes mid-week meals require little thought and planning. I usually have big ideas then forget to take the crucial ingredient such as the hidden veggie sauce out of the freezer.

When I received an email asking whether I'd like to participate in the Dolmio #thankgoodness challenge I thought, why not?

what is in a jar of dolmio bolognese sauce


A Tesco's delivery slot for a Monday morning was organised and I was even more impressed that the driver let me know that he was in the area so he could deliver the shopping earlier, result! I unpackaged several bags full of ingredients and had a quick think of some meal ideas on the spot. Take a look at the Tesco Grocery Haul vlog from my YouTube channel, Sophie and Lily:



In reality I made none of those ideas. I suppose I changed my mind as I wanted to try new meals which could also be whipped up with minimal effort. Meals that are ideal for a mid-week supper but don't scrimp on taste or nutrition. And if there is an alternative way for my salad-dodger to eat his greens and enjoy the meal as well then I'm all for it!

The first of two meals I made was Mediterranean Chicken Traybake. I love a roasted traybake. Chop veg and meat, bung in a tray with some oil and seasoning and cook. Bob's your Uncle. I decided to adopt this principle but pour the jar of Dolmio Bolognese over the top of the diced veggies and spiced chicken then sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Step 1: Season the chicken
mediterranean chicken traybake
Ingredients: half a courgette, handful of mushrooms, a red pepper, half a small aubergine, 4 chicken breasts, 1 tbsp paprika, 2 cloves of garlic diced, 1 jar Dolmio Bolognese, grated cheese.
1st step: Place chicken breasts in an overproof dish and sprinkle evenly with paprika and garlic


Step 2: Prep veggies

med chicken traybake step 2
Step 2: Dice half a courgette, handful of mushrooms, a red pepper, half a small aubergine and add to the dish
Step 3: Pour over the Dolmio Bolognese and top with grated cheese. Bake at 180 deg C for 30 mins

cover veg and chicken with dolmio bolognese and top with cheese
Step 3: Pour the jar of Dolmio Bolognese evenly over the chicken and veggies and top with grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg. C for 30 mins or until the chicken is cooked through

Recipe vlog and verdict from Lily:



The result:

I served the Mediterranean chicken traybake with wholewheat spaghetti and broccoli. Me, Lily and Rob loved it and Alex picked away at the veggies. A few made it near his mouth so that is a promising result for us anyway! It certainly was delicious and the additional garlic on the chicken made the flavours really stand out. Next time I would add some chorizo for extra Mediterranean flavours.



lily and dinner

dolmio chicken traybake with spaghetti

Rob even had leftovers for his lunch the next day which he was pretty happy about. It certainly made a tasty change from soup!

leftovers

So, overall it was decided that this meal should definitely be cooked again. Big thumbs up all round from us!

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmiowww.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.”
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Alex and Riley | Living Arrows

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possibly because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"


We had a big family get-together over the weekend which involved sunshine, kite flying, cider and lemonade, sticky fingers, lots of baby wipes and melting chocolate Easter eggs.

For almost twenty years we have visited The Dolphin Hotel in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, to celebrate birthdays and Mother's Day. This weekend involved cake to celebrate my dad's recent big birthday too and we also had relatives over from the States which was excellent timing. The weather was amazing and Alexander enjoyed watching the ducks on the river, just like how I did when I was little.

It was lovely to see everyone and my Grandma (90) met Freyja for the first time and despite being fairly blind she could definitely see that Freyja had chubby legs!

The photos I'm sharing from that day capture Alexander with his cousin Riley who is about 1 year younger than Alex. Typical Alexander in blogger mode, taking plenty of photos! 

say cheese says alex
Say cheese!

Lets have a see!
Show me, show me!


Hope you have a great week everyone and I'm looking forward to the next Living Arrows to see any Easter pics :)

Living Arrows
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Friday, 7 April 2017

Flymo Mighti-Mo | Review

Here on the South Coast we certainly have enjoyed some excellent weather which rounded off the month of March really well and provided a positive start to the month of April.

With all the recent sunshine, like many others, we head outdoors. The New Forest, country parks, the beach... we truly are blessed to live where we do. However for the lazy afternoons and after school times, the garden is a great place to have fun and chill out so this is the ideal time to start getting it ready for the Spring and Summer months.

Did you know that Sunday 9th April has officially been named "First Cut Sunday" by the makers of Flymo? Research suggests that the Sunday before the Easter weekend is the most popular time for the lawnmowers to be retrieved from the shed for the first cut of the year. It totally makes sense to me to prepare the garden for the long-weekend in anticipation of good weather (please be good weather, please!). There is no point cutting wet grass or grass which has barely started to grow this year so in light of the dry, fair weather we have had I am pleased to say that our lawn has been cut for the first time this year! And what a difference using the Flymo Mighti-Mo has made...

What is it?

The Mighti-Mo by Flymo is a cordless, battery-powered compact wheeled lawnmower which claims to be capable of cutting up to 250m2 on one charge.

Flymo Mighti-Mo

First Impressions:

The box wasn't as big and heavy as I thought it was going to be and the images and unique selling points are clear on the box which displays bright illustrations and photographs. I was rather intrigued to see the image of the Mighti-Mo being lifted, almost effortlessly. I definitely wanted to see if it was compact and as nifty as it was made out to be.

What is in the box:
  • 1 Mighti-Mo lawnmower with grass box
  • 40V Lithium battery
  • Battery charger
  • Instructions

Mighti-Mo packaging
Images of the Flymo Mighti-Mo

Assembly:

The box contained the handle and grass collector in pieces so securing everything together was straightforward. The battery needed to be charged which was very simple. The steel blade was already secured and ready to go.

The Lowdown:
  • Powered by a 40V Lithium Ion battery - which provides the ability to cut a lawn the size of approximately the area of a full size tennis court on a single charge
  • The battery takes 120 mins for a full re-charge and can only be used in the mower with the isolation key. Absense of the isolation key disables the mower so it is quite safe
  • Cordless to provide extra freedom
  • 30 cm cutting deck
  • Single handle cutting height adjustment for simple changes of cutting height ranging from 25mm up to 65mm
  • Generous 30 litre grass box
  • Compact and low-weight; handles are quick and easy to fold down to store the mower and with battery the Mighti-Mo weighs only 9.9kg
  • Manoeuvrable -  the Mighti-Mow is a wheeled mower with a convenient carry handle which is ideal for trasnporting to and from the lawn 

Flymo Mighti Mo charging the battery
3 green lights = fully charged

How we got on:

Assembly was easy enough and fairly straight-forward if you are one to not really read instruction leaflets. My young son got very excited seeing a "new car" appear in the kitchen!
I charged the battery before it's first use and was surprised at how quickly it took to reach full charge. No overnight charges will be required and no waiting for lengthy charges in between mows.
unpacking the Flymo Mighti Mo
The battery and battery charger

Since I was using the Mighti-Mo for the first mow of the year (a week before the suggested "First Cut Sunday", but you know the saying, make hay whilst the sun shines!), I chose the longest cutting height of 65mm which raised the mower significantly. I liked watching it grow in front of my eyes and for a little mower it definitely appeared even more robust.

cutting length handle
A simple Pull and Slide motion adjusts the cutting length

The Mighti-Mo guzzled the grass which had just started to grow on our unruly lawn and I could see the difference immediately. It even faired well on much thicker areas of grass which are self-seeded and not the typical garden lawn variety. I did wait a few more days to give it another once over as suggested in the instruction leaflet and I will continue to mow twice a week throughout the growing season to maintain a nice, manageable lawn.


Flymo mighti mo ready to go

I found it lightweight to push around and fairly manoeuvrable. The cutting reach allowed the mower to trim the grass growing near the frame of the wooden swing but obviously further tools would be needed to maintain the grass because the weight of the swing means I am not going to be relocating it to mow the lawn.

Flymo mighti mo cutting the lawn

Pros - The Flymo Mighti-Mo is compact making it ideal for small gardens and small storage spaces as the handle can be folded down. It is lightweight so I don't strain myself lifting it up and over the threshold of our shed to store it. As it is a cordless mower I don't worry about wires draping around the lawn and having to feed the cord through an open window to reach a plugsocket. This makes it a lot safer and I don't have to worry about the kids suddenly joining me in the garden as I can keep doors closed rather than ajar to allow a cord to run through. No more extension cords too!
The battery charges super quickly and from a safety point of view I know that the mower cannot be started without the isolation key. The charger and battery are kept inside rather than in the shed, again this helps with security and appropriate storage will promote the use of the mower over many years. 

flymo mighti mo
As you can see, there is a variety of lengths and varieties of grass to tackle and around the pond and swing

Improvements - some of the instructions seemed to not read particularly well to me and me and my husband found the battery compartment of the mower really difficult to access without potentially bending fingernails. I expect it makes sure it is doubly secure though. Perhaps a formulaic access could be an improvement, such as press this button, hold and lift.


instructions flymo mighti mo
Example page of the instructions

Price and Where to Buy:

The Mighti-Mo 300 Li mower has an RRP £199.99 of and is available from numerous stores including Argos.

Would we recommend?

Yes, we certainly would recommend the Flymo Mighti-Mo, whether you have a big or small lawnspace. The recharagable battery and lightweight body makes it ideal for any space. I haven't tested the claims that it can mow the space of a tennis court with a fully charged battery, but I could do some maths and work it out for our garden's dimensions. I'm sure I will be pleasantly surprised!

from my eyes mighti mo
From where I stand: The Flymo Mighti-Mo























The Flymo Mighti-Mo will certainly help keep our garden looking far tidier, ready for the holidays.

Thank you for reading!
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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

What Freyja Wore

Welcome back to What Freyja wore.

 I'd love to say that I captured cute, smiley shots of her in this outfit but I seemed to just catch a great big yawn, an "add you own caption" image and one of her going to town sucking her hand. But, they are real life shots so they will do :)

 The Yawn

what freyja wore

 Handknitted white cardigan / grey marl long-sleeved dress, Next / coral leggings, Tu at Sainsbury's / pink floral socks, John Lewis

The "add your own caption"

"Oh mummy, I don't think I have quite filled my tummy, chop chop!"

what freyja wore

And finally, 
Sucking her hand, having fallen to the side on the sofa

what freyja wore

Thanks for stopping by :)

I've linked up with:
ALS
This Mama Life />
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

smarTrike Pirate Ship | Living Arrows

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possibly because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"


I didn't manage to post yesterday, but what I did manage to do is assemble a smarTrike for Alexander. I took him to the park to meet some friends and he didn't want to play on anything whatsoever but he took an instant liking to his friend's smarTrike. It was a bit difficult parting him from it to get home!

When we got back I uncovered the unopened, unused smarTrike which was purchased way back in 2012. It was intended for Lily of course, but for the most part we haven't lived anywhere with the space to store it inside so it has moved with us to a different house and remained unused. Until Monday that is. I'm not sure what generation the smarTrike is, but regardless, Alexander was pretty chuffed with it (even though the school run was interesting with counter-steering!).

However, he also found that the box was just as fun as a pirate ship!

Alexander's smart trike pirate ship

Smart Trike pirate ship Alexander

Thanks for stopping by!


Living Arrows
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