Friday, 29 July 2011

Trunki Yondi




I was delighted to visit the Trunki stand at Christmas in July and chat with them about their exciting products. I am already a fan of their suitcases, such an ingenious design and there seems to be endless options for a ride on. Children really are spoilt for choice!

The lovely people at Trunki sent a Yondi for Beastie to try out. This is a comfy head hugger and travel chum in one. It is designed so that you can help your child get the most out of nap time with this unique shaped pillow that can be squeezed just like their favourite cuddly. They range from XSmall to Large, so cater for children of all ages.

We were given the Small size for 1-4 years old which is recommended for children travelling in a forward facing child seat.
They are double sided for summer and winter use, one side is furry and the other is just material. The circular pillow at the top is designed to stop sleepy heads from rolling, whilst the neck support prevents heads falling forwards. Finally there are magnets at the bottom that keep the two parts together providing support for little chins!

This product is ideal for everyday use, you don't need to be going on holiday or travelling far to put this invention to good use. I know that I have turned round many a time on a short journey to see my son has fallen asleep (as they generally do) with his head slumped to the side.

I noticed them for the first time in Sainsbury's last week along with their entire range and thought they were very reasonably priced at £12.50.

Beastie demonstrates how to use one (sort of) on one car journey. We haven't been on a long journey since we have had it and I know it will be invaluable when we do. I also know it will be great on a flight, so it will be put to good use then, if nothing else by me!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Yondi range and all the other fantastic products Trunki offer then take a look here.







Nb. I was kindly sent a Yondi to review. I have shared the experience and expressed views that are entirely my own.

Monday, 25 July 2011

MUMenTUM - Thinking Slimmer 2 weeks on



It has been two weeks now since I started my Thinking Slimmer journey. Where has the time gone? In a weeks time I will have completed the required twenty one days. I have honestly found it so easy to listen to the slimpod every night, seeing as it only last for ten minutes, there really is not excuse not to listen to it. Even at half past midnight at the weekend I was plugging in my earphones.

I will admit a couple of nights I have thought it won't harm to give it a miss, with the usual excuse being it's late. However as I have got into bed I have realised that ten minutes won't make much difference and continued the course.

Now as for weight loss, I haven't lost any. I am not sure the reason why, whether it is because it is not working on me or whether I am one of those people where it will take time. I strongly suspect it's the latter, why would it be any different, it's me! What I have noticed is that I have changed my attitude with food slightly. Nothing significant like a burning desire to crunch on raw celery or my mouth watering over the thought of broccoli for dinner, hell will freeze over before that happens. There have been more subtle changes being that I am eating less rubbish, we have biscuits to hand and yet I choose not to eat them. I also do occasionally savour the taste of what I am eating, my subconscious clearly has tapped into that nugget of information ingrained by Trevor.

What I also think is important with the slimpod is the need to keep listening to it. What keeps me focused is the fact I have come so far already and it would be a shame to let the routine slip at this point. If I don't succeed in losing any weight then I won't deem it ineffective. If I can change my attitude to food alone then even if I am not slimmer I will at least be Thinking Healthier. The process might take a little longer before I reap any benefits but I am by no means disheartened. I didn't think the journey would be that straight forward, for me at least.

In seven days I will be moving onto the bonus slimpod, designed to keep the weight off and maintain the thought processes learnt. Maybe some more changes will occur throughout this week and I will have more to tell you next week...

Friday, 22 July 2011

Introducing a guest post from Lilly Von Pink

I applied to join in with the BritMums guest post match up and was paired with the very lovely Lilly Von Pink. I think you will agree Lilly is inspirational running three businesses whilst being a Mum. What a stylish lady to boot!

Lilly Von Pink blogs at www.lillyvonpink.blogspot.com. She is a 27 year old married Mummy of one who set up her own business back in 2008 so she could be a stay at home Mum and bring up her son. Here is her story and some hints on how to do the same. Over to you Lilly...

A Vintage Mumpreneur


In February 2008 I had my son Dylan and was enjoying being at home with him on my maternity leave and the thought of going back to work was so far from my mind.

But we all know how quickly it ends and I made the decision to leave, I had been toying with the idea of starting my own business as I have always made my own clothes and been a crafter. So I decided to just do it and the hours and distance were too much so I took a part time job while I worked out my next move and to keep the money coming in.

So my first move was working out what my business was going to be, so I went with something I was into and worked around my skills. I'm really into the 1950's vintage rockabilly look and one of my main skills is seeing and jewellery design so Lilly Von Pink was born. I have always made stuff for myself and my boy so I used that as my starting point.



Important steps:

When I started my first step was making prototypes of my designs and see what worked and what changes could be made.

*Tip - Give them to family and friends to test and give you feedback

Second start small, I sold my items on the likes of Ebay, Etsy and Folksy (the last two are perfect for hand made goods).

Next test the market: I used the likes of Facebook to see how people reacted to my products and maybe a few sales.

Now it's time to get serious and seek advice.

  • Draw up a business plan
  • Look at www.businesslink.gov.uk for help and advice with aspects of business
  • Check out the local council (there's a lot of funding for women and business)

I received help from the Prince's Trust (they have an age limit) and my local council runs a course to help you build business plans and have lots of contacts for you to use when setting up all for free.

  • Meet with the bank and open a business account
  • Sort a book keeping method out (important for filing taxes)
  • Register with HM Revenue and Customs as self employed
  • And the fun part , picking your business came about from my vintage persona, being I am my own brand and I am my business.
  • Three years on I now have three businesses which are evolving all the time, there has been many ups and downs and lessons learnt along the way but I couldn't be happier.



A wiggle and a wink
Love

Lilly Von Pink x

Lilly's Links

Pin up & rockabilly inspired goods for the glamour girl in us all

Retro and rockabilly clothing for your little hell Kats & Kittens

Vintage Pamper Parties for glamorous girls

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Play Day 3rd August




Did you know Wednesday 3rd of August 2011 is the National Day for Play? The idea behind Play Day is, that according to recent findings, we don't take our children to play outside as much as we used to when we were younger.

Savlon undertook some research about outdoor play which revealed some shocking results:

  • 42% of children have never made a daisy chain
  • 32% have never climbed a tree
  • a quarter of children have never rolled down a hill
  • a third of children have never played hopscotch
  • 1 in 10 children have never ridden a bike

These really are such sad statistics and a sign of our times now. Times have changed so much from when  we were small but that is no reason not to get out there and enjoy these simple childhood adventures. I think these figures should be a reminder to everyone to get outdoors, even just for a little while.

You can look here to see what is going on in your local area or for more information on how to host your own event visit Play Day. The venue or size of the event doesn't matter, it's simply about encouraging children to experience and enjoy outdoor play. Events are already being planned up and down the country, from Jubilee style street parties to backyard play dates.


I am teaming up with Not Yet a Yummy Mummy to host a Play Day in Richmond Park. So if you live local (or not so local like me) and would like to join us then feel to tweet us @mummyandbeastie and @NotYetaYummyMum or you can email us at mummyandbeastie@live.co.uk and notyetayummymummy@gmail.com. 

We would love to see you and your little ones, the more the merrier!


Monday, 18 July 2011

Bob's Big Build Event



I heard about this event today and will be so thrilled if we are lucky enough to receive some tickets. It will certainly be a day jam packed with activities and one to remember.

If your little ones love Bob the Builder then this fun extravaganza is not to be missed! Register now to get building with Bob this August Bank Holiday. The event is at the O2 Live Quarter in London on Saturday the 27th of August and is FREE for families to attend. There will be nine different activity zones to make for a perfect family day out.

The day will include activities such as digging for dinosaurs, building soft brick walls and whizzing around a scooter track to name but a few. Any boys (or girls) dream!

There will also be the opportunity to see Bob's new feature length DVD special 'The Big Dino Dig' as well as a live Bob the Builder theatrical show. Bob himself will also be making an appearance along with Wendy to meet their eager fans.

To register you need to visit www.bobthebuilder.com/bigbuild. Tickets to the event are limited so you need to register early to avoid disappointment.

Good luck and maybe we will see you there (if we're lucky)...

VTech Digi-Fun workshops for kids



I was kindly given the opportunity to sign up and attend one of these fantastic workshops, there was just one small problem, that being my son is too young to qualify. I am finding more and more now that two is between ages and although he is not quite old enough for some activities he is too old to be classed with babies...

However, what I would like to do is tell everyone about it so that if it's suitable, you can book up and attend the sessions at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum of Childhood. If the mere mention of it sounds like something you and your family would love to take part in, then you must read what it has to offer below:





V&A Museum of Childhood launch VTech Digi-Fun workshops for kids

This summer the V&A has teamed up with the number one manufacturer of children's electronic learning toys, VTech, to offer a truly unique series of workshops which will introduce children to the exciting possibilities of the digital word in a fun and engaging way.

Ideal for children ages 4-9 years old; the Digi-Fun workshops are running every Saturday over the school summer holidays at 2pm from the 23rd July to the 27th August. These free sessions each last one hour and will give kids the opportunity to explore, invent and create with the very latest kid-friendly technology.

Bringing the digital revolution to a new generation...

One of the workshop highlights will include an exclusive preview of the VTech InnoTab, the first ever Tablet computer for kids, which will be in shops from September (available at some workshops). Budding Bailey's will also have the chance to get hands on with the Kidizoom range of digital cameras and videocams.

As part of the sessions children will learn how to take pictures, film, and edit their own footage as they embark on an adventure around the museum to find a bunch of mischievous toys that have decided to have a bit of holiday fun!

So if you're looking for family fun activities to keep both kids (and adults!) entertained this summer holiday, sign up for a Digi-Fun workshop and get down to one of London's best tourist attractions for kids. As well as the workshops, there's also plenty to explore in the museum itself...the collection of childhood related objects and artefacts spans the 1600s to the present day and includes toys, clothing, furniture, art and photography.

Vtech Digi-Fun Family Workshops, Saturdays, 23, 30 July and 6, 12, 20, 27 August 2011 1400 - 1500.

So if you're looking for family fun you can book by visiting www.vam.ac.uk

For more information visit the the VTech Facebook page here.



Sunday, 17 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dance Star Mickey

Beastie and I were very excited to review Dance Star Mickey. Ok, well it was just me who eagerly anticipated his arrival but he was worth waiting for. We both squealed when we unwrapped the box and took him out. I couldn't get him out of his packaging quick enough but as usual toys are designed to simply not take apart from their packaging. Eventually we freed him and the fun commenced...

In case you aren't aware of what he is all about you can see the official YouTube link showing street dance group Flawless having a battle of the bands style dance-off with Mickey himself.




Before I knew it Beastie had found a new friend and they were inseparable for the rest of the day. He treated him very much like a new puppy (poor Mickey) and took him everywhere. Now Mickey isn't your average cuddly friend, he's decidedly 'uncuddly' but then that's because he has a very important function, he dances (amongst other things). We were impressed to see he can work his way across the room, turn, wave his arms around, clap his hands, move his head and talk/sing along with the music. There are six different tunes, for some variation and Mickey even moonwalks!

He was very much missed overnight and here is their reunion the following morning...




The only negative aspects to Mickey are that he is quite noisy and clunky when he moves around. However this is understandable, he has a lot going on to keep him going and perform all his moves. Although he is pretty robust I wonder how he will fare with a heavy handed toddler. He is grabbed mainly by his ears and arms and I am not sure if they are up to this rough treatment, but so far he has managed to survive. He has even hugged him so tight that you could hear the motors wurring as the arms and legs couldn't move, again no harm. He even warns you that lying down is not a good idea!

Mickey is a great interactive toy and has provided lots of fun this week and I expect he will remain a hit for some time to come. He is great for encouraging children to dance along to the moves and it's an added bonus that he is interactive depending on what button is pressed, if Mickey is left standing, he will let you know.

Beastie demonstrates some of his moves along with Mickey. Some of the tunes are really good and some are to say the least, annoying but then you have to expect that with children's toys. When anything is on repeat it will start to drive you crazy. Having said all that, it's a toy and that's what kids want.







Our verdict? We think he is a whole lot of fun and is a toy that can be brought out again and again and still be great entertainment.

Dance Star Mickey is available from Fisher Price and if you want to find out more about him you can visit the interactive site here.





Nb. I was kindly sent Dance Star Mickey to review. I have shared the experience and expressed views that are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

MUMenTUM - Thinking Slimmer


I have been waiting to do this post for Monday's linky as I wanted to get started on my slimpod from Thinking Slimmer. I have been so excited to get started on what seems to be a revolutionary product. We all read about gimmicks from time to time and you read testimonials on websites revealing how good their products are and I always think they sound too good to be true. Now in this instance I might have thought the same had it not been from the fantastic feedback I have heard word of mouth through blogging and predominantly twitter.

I have admitted that I am not someone who can diet easily, my willpower is pretty pathetic and I will have a good week and then that will be it, all good intentions down the pan. This is where the slimpod got me interested. Now if it's possible to change the way I think about food then it might unlock the secret to keeping some unwanted weight off and help me make better food choices. I have a tendency to eat quite quickly, I can't even blame it on my son as I used to eat quickly before I had him. I know it's bad for digestion and more importantly I don't think I am savouring the taste and really enjoying what I am eating. Practically inhaling food is never a good idea but yet I continue...

So finally I am all geared up for 21 days of using the slimpod. After a lovely chat with Sasha from Thinking Slimmer outlining my goals and expectations it was suggested that I try the Drop a dress size slimpod. I like the fact that the slimpod's are just ten minutes long, this means that realistically you can find time to listen to it every day without it becoming difficult.

Last night was the first night I embarked on my Thinking Slimmer journey. I hadn't thought it through properly by installing it on my iPhone as it could easily be disrupted by a text message or twitter. However it's on there now and last night I listened to it uninterrupted. My son didn't even wander in for his daily bed hop so I was very grateful for that. The recording is straight forward and extremely easy to listen to. Trevor the voice behind it has a soothing voice and one that puts you at ease. I have listened to hypnosis downloads before and the voice can really make or break whether you listen further.

Now I am on day two so it's very early days but you have heard it from the start and how I mean to go on. Along with the slimpod you receive a handbook to document how you are doing and a contract to sign and stick on your fridge! (don't worry it's not binding, only to yourself).

This is the start of a 21 day experiment for me and I can't wait to see what effect it might have on me. After that there is a bonus slimpod for maintaining the weight loss for a further few weeks. Once that is finished then my relationship with food should have changed for good. If I feel myself getting into old habits, all I need to do is listen to the original Slimpod again. I am looking forward to the journey!







Sunday, 10 July 2011

Worries for the future

I feel my heart feels heavy at the moment with worrying about the future. I know that I am very lucky in many respects, I have a loving husband, a wonderful son and supportive family. We have jobs and we make ends meet, our home is nice and we don't go without food. I know that there are so many people less fortunate, I know this.

What is worrying me right now is what does our future hold? At the moment I feel our hands our tied financially and of course this has a bearing on our lives and I feel our happiness. Take just earlier, I popped out of the flat to take the bin out.  I was immediately struck by how warm it was outside and how lovely it must be to sit out in the garden, at this time of the day, just relaxing letting the world go by. I walked down the road thinking how nice it is to be outdoors in the summer, seeing as we spend so much of our time indoors during the winter months. Unlike other countries, our outdoor living is comparatively short lived.

I have these terrible guilty feelings lately, for Beastie. Before he came along my priorities and outlook were different. I felt that we could change most aspects of our lives if we so wanted to. I have upped sticks and moved a few times around the country and have never been afraid of embracing change, I like change. What has struck me now though is that although we would dearly love to move, we are financially unable to. Every now and then I have a brain wave about how we can get out it but it always ends up with the same conclusion, we can't.

My worries are centred around what kind of childhood we can offer Beastie. I don't expect a long sweeping garden complete with a tree house (although that would be nice), I would just like some outdoor space with some sunlight and a place for him to run about and let off steam, mess about with a sand pit and water table and career round in his car, if he so wishes. Our childhoods mould who we are and I am aware of that lately. At the moment it feels like we might be living here for many more years, something which we never banked on when the market was at it's peak when we bought. We were lucky to get a mortgage when we did but it feels like a mill around our neck now. The fact we didn't choose a house will always niggle away at me. Quite simply we were living the lifestyle that suited us then, not really thinking ahead to when two become three.

Now the babyhood stage has passed we are faced with much more, a small person is being guided by my husband and I. We decide what he sees and experiences and I wonder whether he is experiencing what he should. I dread him having memories of being confined to a flat and even worse having no real memories of outdoor fun (at home) when he was little. It doesn't help the fact that I don't like the area that we live in and I don't always feel comfortable visiting some of the local parks and even walking around the area surrounding us. I worry what life will be like when Beastie is a teenager and what living in this area will be like then, times have already changed so much from when I was little, it's scary.

I guess we always think the grass is greener on the other side, that's part of human nature. If we didn't want to try and better our lives and look forward to new things then life would become a little dull and samey. I wonder whether we are ever truly happy when we reach our longed for goals?

What I have concluded is that something needs to change in our lives, I know that much. More than anything I need to make a concerted effort to take Beastie out more, to try and enjoy as much as the great outdoors can offer us. We need to focus on getting more financially secure (even though it feels like an uphill struggle) and look to the future with a positive outlook. It's just remaining optimistic and a glass 'half full' type of approach, something that's not always the easiest thing to do.

Nb. This is in no way meant to make anybody think that I don't know how lucky I am, compared to all the problems around the world, my problems fade into insignificance. It is just an account of my worries at the moment.

Silent Sunday...



Silent Sunday

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Becoming a grown up on the London Underground

This week I had another trip to London to attend Christmas in July and it was to be the second time getting the tube on my own. To seasoned Londoners, this statement probably seems absurd and ridiculous, I mean how difficult can it be? Well with me anything can happen. Now I am not a dappy person by nature (at least I hope people don't label me as that) but give me a bit of pressure and I can make some down right stupid decisions. Really stupid moves, that I possibly wouldn't tell people about. I have made some silly moves on car journeys and have ended up driving through city centres that I didn't mean to head to. Stressed was not the word.

I used to work in London and got the train to Marylebone every day. What I did manage to successfully pull off was dodging tube rides. I had a half hour walk to work from the station and for me this was perfect to avoid the tube, get exercise and save me money. The obvious choice indeed but it just put off the inevitable, I had always told people I don't 'do' the tube but I always knew it might catch up with me one day. Face your fears is the best policy isn't it?

This particular trip to London would involve the tube, no avoiding it, including one change. I had braved the tube a couple of months earlier and successfully got myself on the right tube and got from A to B smoothly, I knew then that I had made a fuss about nothing. I never used to be particularly wimpy but for some reason I have never wanted to embrace the tube.

I have got flights on my own and found them to be no problem, I think the fact that it is quite a controlled environment at an airport makes it easier. You just need to find your check in desk on the screen, check in, drop off your bags and take yourself off to departures. It involves a lot of queuing and although I hate waiting in line, it gives me plenty of time to figure out whether I might have made an error or not, a potentially massive error. Nothing horrendous like the wrong flight, that couldn't happen.

So I left home positive about my day but had that slight unease like you get just before an interview, I then got the train and marched on down to the underground. Took the horrific escalators (see this post), followed the crowds (looking like I knew where I was going) and jumped on the Bakerloo line and then knew to change for the Metropolitan line, easy peasy. That was until I got distracted when I had to squeeze in the doorway and face someones armpit whilst being acutely aware that the man in front of me was looking at my chest. The tube stopped and as I stood wedged in I realised just as it was moving away that I had indeed missed my stop. Damn. Well there is nothing like cocking up to make you sort your act and and properly work out how the tubes work, it's really not rocket science is it. I have annoyed myself by being so ignorant about it, always relying on people to drag me in the right direction. I eventually made it to Kings Cross after retracing my moves on the tube and having to ask someone *ahem* which train I needed to get from Baker Street. It wasn't clear and I didn't want to look bewildered and make myself a target for whatever.


After a great day in London and having met Not Yet a Yummy Mummy on arrival at the station I managed to avoid being lost (on my own), I headed off for the return journey. I knew where I was heading, I walked briskly with the crowds, making swift turns here and there until I had arrived at the correct platform. Even after reading it was the correct platform, once the train arrived I got on looked around and suddenly thought 'no this is the wrong one' and got straight off. I wasn't going to make a blunder this time and thought it better to be safe than sorry and you don't get much time to think as it is. Fortunately most people had got on the train so no one would have seen what a fool I was. So I reassessed the situation only to see that this particular train had my stop en route, as did every train! So six minutes later I got on the train along with the other fifty million people that had just descended on the platform. I knew I should have got the earlier train...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Christmas in July

I was very fortunate to be able to attend this event at the Camden Centre in London. The title of the event in itself sounds rather exciting, you don't even have to be a kid! This is an annual event attended by journalists, members of the toy trade and bloggers. It is a chance for suppliers to showcase their new products in plenty of time for them to appear in Christmas toy features.

It took me a little while to decide whether or not to take my two year old son along. I was torn between wanting him to see all the toys for himself and road test them and then realising the practicalities of taking a toddler on the tube, alone. I can just about take myself on the tube (I have improved considerably) and thought the whole experience would not bode well. I also knew that the excitement of all the toys would probably be too much and he wouldn't understand the concept of 'moving onto the next stand'. It was fantastic to see so many children there but for me I know I made the right decision in the end.


Once again it was an opportunity to catch up with some lovely Mummy bloggers I have met and have a get together much sooner than I thought following CyberMummy.

UKMums.tv were there and recruited a few bloggers to be on their panel to choose their top toys for this Christmas. They were given different categories in which to make their choices and you can see the final verdict for the MUMS Choice winners over on their site here. Below is the board for MUMS Choice where a few of the blog headers were displayed.



It was a very busy morning, walking round visiting all the stands and seeing first hand what exciting toys will be on offer this Christmas. There were lots of exciting developments with Thomas the Tank Engine promoting their new DVD and I could see their range has expanded somewhat. It was great to see the Smurf's are making a come back too! I could go into great detail about all the toys but I would be here all day and quite frankly bore you, so my favourite toys of the day are shown below.

In particular one of the leading brands that caught my attention was VTech. I am already a fan of their range of products as it is and was pleased to see they had some great new toys on display. The two girls on the stand were very easy to talk to and enthusiastic about the new products, with some great demonstrations! I particularly liked the Kidizoom camera, featuring functions such as video recording and a swivel camera, perfect for kids taking pictures of themselves. The camera was also extremely robust, perfect for butter fingers!

The VTech Toot-Toot Driver Garage was very interactive and is aimed at children from 12 months onwards. You can collect six different vehicles, the usual fire engine, ambulance etc with corresponding sirens/horns. What makes the garage clever is that is recognises the vehicles, letting little ones match the vehicle with the sounds, which of course is great for them to learn independently.

The Kidiminiz interactive pets were great fun. You can clap you hands to make them sing and dance as well as placing two together so they can communicate. They also serve a function as an alarm clock so this was an all round great multi functional product.


Kidizoom Twist

Kidiminiz Bunny: Pink/PinkKidiminiz Puppy: Green/Lime











Above shows the Kidizoom Twist Camera, Toot-Toot Driver Garage and the Kidminiz pets.

Now for me, the range from Bladez Toyz was the most innovative of the day. As a kid I loved all things girly but I did also have a large collection of corgi cars where I would spend hours making make shift car parks etc. Also having a little boy who is mad on cars this stand was always going catch my eye.

The Pump and Play inflatable remote controlled vehicles were fantastic. What made them so great was the fact they were inflatable, they were even whizzing around my feet and bashed into a few legs but no harm was done due to no solid edges! They are so robust that you can even drive them off a table and the unit underneath bares no damage. They are designed to be handled with less care than an ordinary remote controlled vehicle that can get damaged so easily. I also liked the fact they have considered girls when designing this toy and you can see that the Piggy and Puppy would be equally as attractive to a girl (if not the cars).

Being presented with a 5th birthday edition Trunki was a fantastic highlight and end to the day. Beastie already has a Tiger Trunki that has been on holiday with us already and quite frankly was a life saver at the airport. If there is one travelling essential you don't have for your child, I would suggest one of these. Now he has a lime green one to choose from too (spoilt boy) which will come in very handy for number two (no I'm not pregnant). So thank you very much Trunki and for all the surprise goodies inside. Take a look at what else Trunki are bringing out soon, their range just keeps getting better and better. I particularly love The Gruffalo range, too cute.