Friday, 30 October 2015

How to Carve a Pumpkin

There's lots of time to practice carving pumpkins and this only takes about an hour.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Wow Toys Play Time Friends - Review

I was given a Wow Toy in a goody bag at a recent bloggers meet up. Being a newish granny I am completely out of the loop in toys and so I hadn't heard of Wow Toys.

On the pack it states that it is suitable for 18+months, well Bear is only 13 months so I thought I would have a peak inside without him.

Firstly there is nothing on the pack to say it's a Wow Toy. Usually brands splash their name all over.

On the front of the packet it stated "one figure and activity card inside" "2 individual characters to collect!"

So imagine my delight when I opened it and there were 2 figures! They are so cute too.

Picture of packet front with Father Christmas and a Reindeer

Picture of packet back with Father Christmas and a Rudolf

Picture of packet front with Father Christmas and a Rudolf with the figurines beside it

The figurines are really lovely. Wow Toys have thought of safety especially with young children choking so have their figures with their arms out and thumbs up! How cute is that? Father Christmas even has parcels in his sack.

Father Christmas and Rudolf figurines
The figurines are about 6 cm high and adorable.

The back of Father Christmas figurine showing presents in his sack

They are made from tough plastic and I would think they would withstand lots of playing and chewing. Their toys are described as having no PVC, toxic paint or small parts and no batteries required.

The pack has an activity card. In mine was a small card, a little creased, with colouring in on one side and dot-to-dot on the other.

Picture of the card with colouring in and dot-to-dot activity

I loved this toy and will save it for Bear when he's just a little older. I think these would be excellent to help with the development of a child's imagination.

My only disappointment was I couldn't find the Playtime Friends toys on-line. Wow Toys do sell via independent toy shops and their website has a search facility to find your local shop, so maybe they would stock them.

The bigger toys and play sets are stocked by some of the major on-line stores and a list of these is also on their website.

Searching for this toy I found that they also sold advent calendars, suitable from 1+ year and each calender has 24 themed toys. What a great idea instead of chocolate! They cost just under £25 so that's about £1 per toy. If the quality is similar to the sample I was given then I think that is excellent value.

I know a very lucky Bear who may be getting one this year. The decision now is...

Should I buy the Town, Farmyard or the Wonderland advent calendar? 

*I received this as a PR sample with no obligation to review. All opinions are honest and my own.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Baby Friendly Finger Food Recipe - 7. Eggy Bread (or French Toast)


When we think of finger foods for babies we sometimes forget the really easy old favourites and French toast, or eggy bread as we always call it is one of these.
Most of you will know how to make this as it is super easy, but for those who do not I have included instructions with pictures.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Squeeze Please Reusable Pouch - Review

Bear is becoming a bit of a fussy eater. He likes to throw his food on the floor rather than eat it and he loves eating bits of unidentified stuff off the floor.

I wistfully think "If only I could make the stuff and make it nutritious and healthy!"

So I have been trying to find ways of getting him to eat more, especially fruit, and one of these was smoothies. He loves them but they won't go through his sippy cup and any other way ends up being so messy. Hands in cups, cups flung across the room, you get the nightmare.

Toddler in highchair with empty cup and contents on his face and bib
Bear looking pleased with himself despite the mess

Then one day, when he was being particularly fussy, I gave him a pouch of pears, pears, pears. He ate it straight from the pouch! I thought pouches would be great for smoothies and looked for reusable pouches. I decided on the Squeeze Please Reusable Pouch. They were exactly what I was looking for and had good reviews too. I bought mine from Amazon and they cost £10 for a pack of 3.

The Squeeze Please reusable pouch was larger than I expected, the size is clearly described on the website but I'm not so good at imagining 28 x 15.4 x 1.4 cm! The size isn't a bad thing though. Great for little hands and space for us to help with a squeeze or to roll it up to get the last drop. They hold about 200 ml.

Squeeze Please pouches

Bear loves yoghurt and he can eat a whole one from this pouch in seconds, with no wastage. Using a spoon and bowl takes ages and he gets most of it in his hair, on his hands, his bib or his face.

They have a large hole in the spout so bits can easily go through but this does mean that if he squeezes when its not in his mouth it would go everywhere!

spout with penny next to it to show size
Large spout about 8mm across

Squeeze Please describe the pouches as reusable, portable, convenient and safe.


The pouches are zipper-sealed at the bottom so they can be filled with anything squishy like smoothies, yoghurt's and homemade purées without leaking. Even when we squeezed the pouch none came out the bottom. When filling they do not stay open without squeezing the sides so if using thick foods like yoghurt it takes it two to fill, one to hold and one to spoon the food in. I'm still looking for something that would support the pouch whilst squeezing the sides.

pouch being held open with hand
Pouch needs to be squeezed open to fill. Showing zipper seal.


Just like ready filled pouches these are easy to take out when travelling or for older children for lunch boxes. They are quite flat and use up less space than jars and cans. They are lighter to carry too. After use the pouches lie flat and can be rolled or folded.


The pouches are easy to clean. I washed them with soapy water and a babies bottle brush. I also tried putting them in the dishwasher on the top tray without rinsing first. They came out clean with just one small speck of fruit from the yoghurt inside. I'm happy to wash by hand but would recommend if putting in the dishwasher, to give a quick rinse first. These pouches are also freezer safe.


They are described as BPA-free, PVC-free, Lead-free, and Phthalate-free. They have a large choke-free cap too.

Toddler in high chair feeding from pouch with a hand helping
Bear enjoying his yoghurt with a helping hand from Grandad

I haven't tried any other reusable pouches so can't compare but I am very happy with these and compared to pre-filled pouches they are good value for money. They are ideal for smoothies and yoghurt. For younger babies they would be great for homemade purées too.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Why Are "Kids Meals" So Unhealthy and Boring?

When eating out why are children's menus always sausages, burgers, chicken nuggets or fish fingers? These are great if homemade with quality ingredients, I make sausages and burgers for Bear, but they are boring and unhealthy when someone has just taken the food from a packet and served them with peas and chips. And they charge £££. I'm not a cook but surely they could do the same as the adult meal but child sized?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

A Cardiff Garden in October

I love summer. I love the sun and the warmth. This summer in Cardiff has been cold and wet but the Autumn! It has been beautiful, sunshine and dry. Ok some days have been a bit chilly but the sunshine, it's been glorious.

The trees are changing colour, the spiders are weaving their webs. The shadows are getting longer as the sun is lower in the sky and the nights are drawing in. This is the last of the warm sunny days in Cardiff until the spring. November brings dark evenings, rain and cold.

Many of the summer flowers are are still putting on a fabulous show, The hydrangeas are at their most beautiful and I'm going to try drying some. I accidentally dried one last year by putting it in water and forgetting to top it up, it lasted all winter. I hope it works again this year.

stones piled on a stick with autumn leaves around it
Beach stones with holes in threaded onto a metal stick.

shadows on house wall
Shadows are getting longer

spiders web on fence
Spiders web

Oak leaves on grass
Oak leaves on the grass

Acer leaves red and pink
Maple is looking glorious

Red and green leaves of Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper almost all red

Virginia creeper and path covered in leaves
Virginia Creeper tumbling over the wall 

log with fungus
Log in log pile with Fungii

Passion flower
Passion flower still in full bloom

Clerodendrum bungei - Glory Flower

red snapdragon

yellow rose
Rose in full bloom
Yellow rose buds
Promise of more to come

blue sky no clouds with airplane
Beautiful blue sky no clouds, only a plane

oak tree
Oak going yellow and orange before the leaves turn brown and fall

2 pink Hydrangea flowers hanging upside down in the sun on brickwall
Hydrangea flowers cut ready to dry

2 pink Hydrangea flowers hanging upside down inside house on wall
Even if they do not dry they look beautiful

pink hydrangea flower in vase with water
In a vase hoping it will dry slowly
What is your favourite month?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Day Out at RSPB Newport Wetlands

While the weather is still sunny and mild we are trying to get out at least once a week with Bear. He is only one so lots of outdoor places are not really for him. He's happy in the local park but we like visiting different places. Not too far, so he doesn't get bored in the car, but far enough so it's a different view.

The visitor centre surrounded by the wetlands

This week we decided on Newport Wetlands, a RSPB nature reserve. It is free to park and to get in. They have a visitor centre with a little cafe and shop.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Tea and Theatre in Cardiff

When we booked our tickets for the New Theatre in Cardiff , myself, my daughter and Bears' mummy, we didn't realise that it would coincide with the Rugby World Cup quarter finals. Having our magnificent Millenium Stadium in Cardiff City centre is wonderful. It always adds a party atmosphere when an event is on. Brightening up even the dullest day.

2 pictures one of rugby ball in castle wall one of stadium behind buildings
Rugby ball in castle wall and not far away the Millenium stadium

So we arrived in plenty of time to be surrounded by France and New Zealand supporters, and a few other nationalities, although it looked mostly New Zealand supporters identified by their black coats.

Although we had left it a bit late we were lucky enough to book a table in Pettigrew's, a lovely tea room on the edge of Bute Park just a stones throw from the castle and stadium.

old wall with cafe sign
Pettigrew sign

picture of chalk board advertising Pettigrew Tea Rooms
Chalk board outside Pettigrew

window with table lamp and teapot
Window of Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Pettigrew's is a traditional cafe serving afternoon tea on vintage mismatched china. The tables and chairs are old and rickety but comfortable and wonderful to dine on. Tea is served in individual china tea pots using leaf tea and needing the little strainer provided. I had their delicious breakfast tea.
The afternoon tea is a choice of filling for the finger sandwiches and scones with cream and jam. This is followed by a piece of their homemade cake, I opted for more scones, they were warm and straight from the kitchen mmmm. If you do not want the afternoon tea they also serve snacks and soup served with fresh bread.

cake stand with sandwiches and scones and table laid
Afternoon tea

tea pot spout and cup of tea
Breakfast tea

It was a nice dry autumn day so we walked to the New Theatre through the park, passing the Castle Mews, where I once lived, but is now part of the College of Music and Drama.

We arrived early at the New Theatre but it quickly filled and before we knew it we were being seated for the show.

Empty upstairs foyer at New Theatre
Just a bit early

We had gone to see Agatha Christies A Murder Is Announced. None of us knew the plot so every twist and turn and red herring had us truly hooked.

We got it half right!

poster of A Murder is Announced
Miss Marple played by Judy Cornwall, "Daisy" from Keeping Up Appearances

I just love the plays the New Theatre put on. The sets are always so wonderful and imaginative. If you get the chance go and see one. Just be careful with the seats. The upper circle (I haven't been there for years so it may have changed) is too far away and the seats are small and hard. The boxes have restricted views. I like the circle seats best at the front if possible but if not, near the centre.

red theatre curtains
View from circle seats

I can't wait until Bear is older and we can go to see pantomimes again!

outside New Theatre with crowds
New Theatre, Cardiff

We bought our own tickets and paid for our afternoon tea, just a treat for ourselves.

Cardiff is a great city with lots to see and do. This is just one way of spending an afternoon with friends, or like me with family.


Friday, 16 October 2015

Neal's Yard Remedies - Uplifting Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Review

I was lucky enough to attend my first South Wales bloggers meetup last week and met some really lovely people. We were also gifted with an amazing goody bag and one of the gifts was a beautiful gift box from Neal's Yard Remedies

My Neal's Yard Remedies* gift from the event was a shower gel and body cream, Uplifting Jasmine & Ylang Ylang from their organic collection.

The packaging is beautiful. Not only does it look gorgeous it is eco friendly too! Certified by the World Land Trust and made from carbon balanced paper. 

Picture of box, yellow with whit flowers on the sleeve. Uplifting Jasmine & Ylang Ylang.

Inside the box is a bottle of shower gel and a luxurious jar of body cream. They both smell wonderful. Inside the lid is description of the product. It just makes you want to jump into the shower and enjoy the aromas. 

Inside Neal's Yard box showing shower gel and body cream

Drift away with Jasmine & Ylang Ylang

"Be transported to far away places with the uplifting 
aroma of jasmine and ylang ylang.
Our Egyptian night-flowering jasmine is
 picked in the cool dawn, long before the heat
 of the sun can tempt the delicate flowers into
 releasing their heady uplifting scent.

In Madagascar, our hand picked organic
 ylang ylang flowers, prized for their deeply
 relaxing exotic aroma, are lifting the spirits
 with a fair price plus a community
 premium. great news for all!" 

Jar of body cream

Bottle of shower gel

lid of body cream

I think this would make a lovely gift or just spoil yourself.  I think I may treat myself to something else. 

Have you tried any of Neal's Yard Remedies products?

*I received this as a PR sample with no obligation to review. All opinions are honest and my own. 


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Wonderful Ones - The Prequel to Terrible Twos

Bear is starting to show his personality, by which I mean he's practising tantrums. He has just turned one and is not happy to wait until he is two to show his displeasure at certain objects,

After a lovely day watching Bear have a bit of a disagreement with a toy and being bemused by his actions I came across a blog post with lovely, funny drawings. The top 4 Toddler Tantrums..And How To Handle Them by Carry On Katy.

Aha! That's what Bear's doing, he's practising for when he's two. He wants to be perfect when he's two so a full year of practise should just do it. The wonderful ones are just a dress rehearsal for the main event.

All good stories and films have prequel's, so here's mine to the Terrible Twos.

The Wonderful Ones

Being one is wonderful, so much to explore, so many words to say, so much food to throw. Excepting one thing....everything is so frustrating. Button's don't push, puzzle pieces don't fit, towers topple, gates won't open, nap time..well just nap time.

So the practising begins.

1. The Arm Lift

"I will not be picked up unless I want to be picked up".

This is subtle. Bear has been doing this for a few weeks now and has fine tuned it to perfection.
When he wants to be picked up he just raises his arms, when he doesn't, he continues to raise his arms so your hands slip up his body and up his arms and off his hands. Subtle.

2. The Climb

"I will not be put down unless I want to be put down".

When trying to put Bear down because you have been carrying him longer than you can remember or you really need two hands free, he performs the climb.

As you try to lower him towards the floor he climbs up your body until he is back in your arms, exactly where he wants to be.

3. The Arch

"I will not be put into that unless I want to be put into that".

This is in preparation for the plank. When being put into anything he doesn't want to be put into, he arches his back so that only his head and heels touch down.

4. Tears and Fists

"I will not give you that unless I want to give you that".

When he has hold of something precious, a leaf, a pair of glasses, an unknown black thing or similar and it is removed from his grasp the fists are made, the face contorts, tears are forced between the lids and a sound escapes his lips. This is practise for the tantrum.

5. The Head Shake

"I do not want to do that, I will not do that. I will do one of the above if you try to make me".

The random shaking of his head began when he was still a little baby. This progressed into a proper head shake that means "if you continue with your unreasonable requests I will implement one or all of the above".

Baby sat on floor emptying tumble dryer
Not helping to put washing into the dryer but taking wet washing out..ahh bless him xx

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Naughty or Nice? Who are The Honest Parents?

I've read a lot lately about parenting styles, well more accurately about how honest parents describe themselves in social media and the criticism from the "other side".

Naughty dads, mean mummies, swearing mummies, disgruntled dads, amazing perfect dads, perfect children, Earth mothers, nice dads, honest parenting and so on.  So who are honest? Really honest? They can't all be...can they?

Poonami, what a wonderful word to describe something every parent has encountered. Only the other day our perfect little Bear sat as we had lunch (at home thank goodness) and the noises that came from that little body were truly horrific. We looked at each other, Grandad and I, and both got up to prepare for the inevitable. 

Poonami, I think it's a great word but I'm sure it's offensive to someone. Comparing a small mishap with a terrible tragedy is sure to upset someone.

Well that's what I think parenting blogs and social media are like.

Something that makes me laugh, makes me nod my head as I empathise with the writer, is sure to offend someone. The ones that make me think "aww, how wonderful", the perfect babies, children, mothers, fathers. Well they offend people too. 

My grandson, Bear, is perfect. No, honestly he is.

"How can he be? No child is perfect."  

Well that's the point, he is because to me he is. I don't get up with him in the nights, his mummy and daddy do. I can laugh at his little tantrums, ahh bless him I cant help it. Its so cute.
Have I got photo's of him having a tantrum? Of course not, I'm not fast enough with a camera. If I had one would I publish it? Probably not, not because I don't want to be negative and of course his tantrum would be done to perfection but that's not Bear, he's a perfect baby.

I'm his grandmother and I write about all the perfect and wonderful things he does.

I don't have to do housework whilst caring for a baby alone, or work and run a home, or get up at 6am after spending most of the night cradling a crying baby, or worry about that spot on his neck or why he cries or what is wrong with him today.

I'm a grandmother. I care for him when his parents work and when he goes home I do my chores. I don't worry about that spot because that's all it is, a spot. I don't fret about why he's crying because I've had a good nights sleep and I can think rationally.

I'm his grandmother and I write about all the perfect and wonderful things he does.

But I was a mother once, who sat up all night with a child with mumps, with a child who cried for no reason. I worked full time and felt guilty that I couldn't manage work, a home and a baby. I swore under my breath when they got under my feet or when they asked for the thousandth time "why?".

If blogging had been around then would I have written "honestly" about it all, of course not! When would I have had the time? Hats off to parents who blog, good or bad. When do you find the time?

So who are the honest parent bloggers, twitterers, facebookers? Should we all be positive and only post happy, smiley photo's of us all having a great time? What about the bad days? Is it OK to write about them?

The super parents who craft and play and have super duper sparkly houses and lives. Without them what would we aspire to? They are the Mary Berry's of parenting. Never a soggy bottom. Not because they are not honest but because that's who they are and what they do.

The swearing, moaning, covered in poo and sick, tell-it-like-it-is parents. They sometimes make us laugh, or angry, or sad, or just nod in agreement. Well they're honest too.

There's a place for all of us. We write this way because it's who we are.

child putting wet washing out of basket onto floor
Bear helping by taking the just washed clothes out of the basket and onto the floor. Like I said perfect.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

toucanBox review. A Christmas Present for Children 3 - 8 years.

outside of box
Are you looking for something different for a Christmas present for a child? Something crafty? A present that would change every couple of weeks?
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