Sunday, 29 November 2015

WOW Toys Farm Yard Advent Calendar - Review

I've been looking for farm animals suitable for Bear to play with as he is now very good at doing grunting noises like pigs make and loves hearing the noises of the other animals. They all seem to be for 3+ years so when I first saw the WOW toys advent Farm Yard calendar I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.

picture of front of the advent calendar box

It's suitable for ages 1 - 5 and as I had previously reviewed one of their pocket money toys, the Christmas play time friends, I knew the quality of the toys would be good. You can read my review here.

They are described as being free from all nasties. No PVC, phthalates, toxic paint, cadmium, batteries or small parts and so are safe to be chewed, nibbled, hugged and loved! I knew Bear would definitely give them the taste test.

picture of the no nasties list on the side of the advent calendar box

I did hesitate because of the price, at £25 I thought it was a bit expensive (although it works out at only just over £1 for each toy). I didn't want to buy one and it not be suitable for Bear so I waited and was lucky to grab one at half price on a daily deals at Amazon.

It was decided that because Bear is so little and doesn't understand time he could open them all on one day.

Bear has books with lift up flaps so he understands that if you lift a flap there is something underneath. He couldn't wait to get started.

picture of a toddler looking at the advent calendar

Mummy and daddy came to see him open his first advent calendar. There were a lot of awwws and ooohs!

He loved it. From the first toy, a horse he wouldn't let go of, all through to the last toy, a pig, which brought the obligatory grunting noises!

picture of a toddler opening the first window, number 15!
Bear thought he would start with window number 15. He wasn't disappointed!

picture of a toddler looking at the horse he just found

picture of a toddler taking out toy number 2
Bear loved the horse and wouldn't put it down so getting the second toy was a bit tricky.

picture of a toddler looking at the horse and teddybear he just found

Bear wouldn't change a thing he loved it all and just to see his little face everytime he found another toy was worth every penny of the £12.49 I paid.

What did I think?

I liked that each toy was named although Bear is too young to appreciate it.

Picture of a pig toy and window with the name Pamela

All the animals and people have the same sized base so they all fit into the tractor or the horse. I don't understand why one of the toys is a teddy bear, Bear seemed to like it though! Maybe it was put in there just for us.

The top layer that has the numbered windows isn't stuck down anywhere so it is possible to see the next toy just by lifting it slightly, which Bear did lots. The only other negative was the Christmas tree. It comes in 3 parts the base on day 7, the tree on day 8 and a star to top it on day 9. If Bear was only opening one window a day he would have been bemused and disappointed on day 7. He did love putting them together and taking them apart though.

picture of contents of the advent calendar
Animals, people, a tractor and a teddy bear!

Final verdict. 

I would definitely buy another of these because they are really well made and fun, a great alternative to chocolate. If Bear was older I would also have a couple of standby items for the days when the toys are boring, for example the tree base but saying that all the parts are displayed clearly on the side of the box.

side of box illustrating contents

Bear loved it and now wants the Wonderland and Town advent calendar! Who told him about them?

Do you buy toy advent calendars? Which is your favourite?

Merry Christmas!


Friday, 27 November 2015

10 Fun Christmas Party Food Ideas

I'm not a cook, I'm definitely not a baker so these are just some fun ideas from around the web. A lot of these fun Christmas party food ideas do not need any cooking skills so Merry Christmas and Happy Eating!

10 Fun Christmas Party Food Ideas

1. Christmas Hats from Sweet Simple Stuff 

10-Fun-Christmas-Party-Food-Ideas-3-marshmallows-covered-in-chocolate-look-like-Christmas -op-hats


Thursday, 26 November 2015

A Cardiff Garden in November

November in Cardiff brings the threat of frost. It doesn't always arrive but a chill is in the air. The garden is starting to look unloved as we spend more time indoors and the days get shorter.

There are a few flowers refusing to give in to winter and a few that start their flowering now.

The seed heads, berries and hips give most of the colour and interest. A few of the plants are promising us a show later, like the camellias and pine tree.

Picture of purple aubretia through railings
Aubretia flowering through railings

Picture of yellow Jasmine flowers
Winter Jasmine just starting to flower

Picture of pink hydrangea flower
Hydrangea still flowering although the blooms are now small

Picture of purple pansy flower
Pansy just starting to flower

Picture of pink sea thrift flower
Lonely single Sea Thrift flower

Picture of yellow rose bud
Rose still in bud and flowering.

Multiple Seedheads of coneflowers
Coneflower seedheads

picture of faded hydrangea and discarded clay pots
Faded Hydrangea flower and discarded clay pots I need to tidy away

Brown flowerhead of hydrangea that was white in summer and pink in autumn
Hydrangea Pirymidalis. White then pink and now brown, but still beautiful.

Lots and lots of seed heads, like pom poms
Pom Pom like seed heads of Anenome

Brown seed head with glossy black seeds of agapanthus

bright red hips of wild rose
Red rose hips

white downy feather resting on sage leaves
Sage with downy feather

green leaves with white spots of laurel
Laurel stays looking good with promise of red berries to come

fresh green new leaves of Arum Lily
New leaves of Arum Lily that will get hit when the frosts come

pine needles and little buds of new cones
Our Christmas tree in a pot with new cones budding.

glossy green leaves and big fat green buds
Glossy leaves of camellia will stay throughout winter and in spring the buds will open to reveal pink flowers

tiny green leaves and small red berries
Cotoneaster berries already food for wildlife!

long hedge with brown leaves
The Beech hedge will keep its brown leaves for most of the winter

Tree branches against a blue sky with just a few clouds
The Oak's  have lost almost all of their leaves.

A pair of plastic green clogs, a watering can and a pot saucer.
My summer gardening clogs are full of leaves and mud. I must put them away.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

How to Keep Your Toddler Safe at Home

Accidents are the main cause of death in children under 5. Every year about 500,000 children under
the age of 5 go to hospital because of an accident in the home according to the NHS website.

There are some people who decide right at the beginning that they are not going to move things and are going to teach their baby not to touch certain things. Well good luck to you. After 3 weeks of Bear hitting the gas fire with anything he could find, because he liked the noise, I gave in and bought a fire guard even though we never have the fire on.

I only have Bear 3 days a week so some of my solutions are temporary, like the cover on the glass unit. If he lived with us I couldn't be bothered to put the board on and off all the time so I would move the unit or change the doors.

toddler in room with gate across doorway and board at glass furniture

The main causes of accidents of this age group are;

  • Lack of supervision
  • Falls
  • Fire
  • Choking
  • Burns and scalds
  • Poisoning
  • Drowning

So how do you keep your toddler safe at home?

1. Supervision

I know in a perfect world you would never take your eye off your toddler for a second but we all get distracted and we have to get on with caring for other children or cooking or other essential chores. We know we can't watch them 24 hours a day so make your home safe. Follow the advice below. Don't forget when in other peoples homes you will have to supervise. Assume their house will not be safe. Be especially careful with visitors handbags, many people keep all sorts of drugs and other dangerous things in them.

picture of gate in doorway

Have you thought about a playpen? Or use a gate on one room.

2. Falls

Toddlers are explorers, they will climb and at some point they will fall. We have to keep them safe and make sure that if they fall it is not from a height.

The greatest risks are;

Stairs. Use stairgates. One at the bottom and before they can escape their cot, one at the top.

Windows. Make sure all upstairs windows cannot be opened by toddlers.

Balcony's. If you have  a balcony keep the doors to it locked. Ensure any railings are intact and that a toddler cannot squeeze between them. Remember toddlers are like cats, they can squeeze between things that look too small!

TV's and Furniture. Toddlers have been killed by pulling heavy furniture including TV's onto them, Secure these to the walls.

Highchairs. Always use the harness to secure them, don't rely just on the tray.

3. Fire

If you have a fire buy a fireguard. Whatever one you like, I bought an old fashioned one from Mothercare. There are some really pretty ones too.

Smoke Alarm. Make sure you have them fitted and that they work. If you live in the UK you may be eligible for free smoke alarms from the fire service.

Matches etc Keep these out of reach, always!

picture of fire with guard

4. Choking/Suffocation

Blind cords. Shorten them with a cleet or tie them up high. Babies and toddlers die by being caught in the cords. It is possible to buy wands instead of cords and we have that in his bedroom.

Don't use cot bumpers or attach anything to the cot that a baby could get trapped in

Toys and small things. Keep small object including peanuts away from small children

Food. There have been reports recently of children choking on grapes and other small fruit. Be aware and cut them into quarters.

Nappy bags. Everyone knows that plastic bags are dangerous for children but so are nappy bags, keep these away and out of reach.

5. Burns and Scalds

If using an oven that the toddler can reach then keep them out of the kitchen. If that is not possible then confine them eg a playpen if the kitchen is big enough or their high chair.

We have a built in double oven that is quite high. We try to use only the top oven when Bear is with us as he cannot reach it...yet.

Always use saucepans on the hob with the handles facing away from the front.

Tea and coffee is always left at the back of the kitchen work surface or put onto the mantel piece until it is cooled, nothing with hot (or cold!) liquid in it is put within Bears reach. Our kettle is pushed to the back of the work surface too.

cup of fruit tea on mantelpiece

Bath. Fill with  cold water first, then add the hot. Children have been scalded by jumping into the bath before its ready. Always use a bath thermometer too.

Radiators can get very hot. Ensure those in play rooms have covers or are turned down.

6. Poisoning

We have cupboards in our bathroom and downstairs toilet where we keep all our nasty's eg bleach, limescale remover. At the moment Bear has no access to these cupboards. The door on the down stairs toilet when opened blocks the under sink cupboard but I know when he is older I will have to put locks on the doors or move the cleaners. There are purpose made locks and although I haven't tried it the Lindam xtra guard gets great reviews.

All our medicines are kept in a wall cupboard that he cannot reach.

It is so easy for children to poison themselves, especially toddlers who will not eat your lovingly prepared food but will drink bleach and eat toilet blocks. Make sure they are locked away or out of reach. Ensure that all spray cleaners are turned off and lids are securely replaced.

7. Drowning

A child can drown in just a couple of centimetres of water. Ensure ponds, pools etc are not accessible by children. Fence them off and if you can't them empty them.

8. Other dangers


We do not use socket covers. They have been reported and tested as dangerous. We either have appliances plugged in or they are left just as they are. Bear has shown no interest in them at all. He does like light switches though.


Get a new mattress for every baby. A cot that conforms to safety standards. Do not use bumpers or give pillows and soft toys to babies in their cot. They do not need them.

Baby sleeping bags are great. Ensure they fit and are not too big. They keep babies warm without them overheating and they can't suffocate by pulling them over their head.


Toddlers heads are at table height. They seem to bang their head on anything and everything. We have moved things around a bit but  one thing we haven't moved is the table in the kitchen, it is in the correct place for meals but just where Bear can bang his head. We didn't want to stick anything to the furniture and ruin it so have just pushed pipe lagging on. I know as soon as he realises it can be easily removed it will be used as a weapon of mass destruction but until then!

table with pipe lagging on edge

Glass in furniture

We have Billy units from Ikea, they have safety glass that if broken will shatter into tiny squares (like a cars windscreen) but I still do not want Bear hitting it and breaking it or diving head first into it. We have put up hardboard. It suits us as it can be quickly removed and stored behind the door. You could use safety film but when I searched it had mixed reviews.

glass furniture with hardboard covering it

First Aid

Everyone caring for babies and small children should have a basic idea of what to do in the case of an accident. Do you know what to do if a child is choking, cut or burnt?

Please read up on this so you know what to do and don't have to look it up after the event.

Lots more advice at ROSPA.

What safety tips have I missed?


Friday, 20 November 2015

Baby Clinic, Tots Club and MMR Side Effects

It's been a strange week. We had a few things planned, Berry Hill Farm on Monday to order our Christmas chicken. Baby clinic on Tuesday to get Bear weighed and measured. Tots club on Wednesday.

We started on Monday with the happiest, hungriest toddler ever and over the weekend he had given mummy and daddy their first kiss, on the nose (so cute!).

toddler sat on chair holding a sock
Bear sat patiently for me to take his photo and then put his sock on.

He was eating everything put in front of him not typical for Bear who is a fussy eater to say the least. He also handed back his fork and didn't throw it or food on the floor.

toddler in highchair happily stirring cup with spoon

He was so happy too. A little ray of sunshine. I really didn't want him to go home!

Then on Tuesday we were taking Bear to baby clinic to see the Health Visitor because we had failed to get to see her last week but the toddler that was brought to us was not the same one as yesterday. He wouldn't nap in the morning, he wouldn't eat or drink anything. Everything upset him and made him have a tantrum. Even his favourite cup and spoon only kept him happy for a minute.

toddler sat on floor with cup, spoon and pearl barley
Bears first encounter with pearl barley.

Bear wanted to go out but the weather was appalling. Rain and really windy, the tail end of storm Barney so going to the park was out. I put him in his all-in-one and wellies and went into the garden. He loved it! He loved the wind and rain but mostly stirring dirty water with a brush. It was the first time he had been happy all day.

toddler in snow suit smiling holding brush

After lunch we went to see the Health Visitor. 8 babies in front of us, oh no! I could have done without this as he was so grumpy.

toddler looking through glass balustrade

toddler holding one wellie and wearing the other
Bear likes to wear his wellies on his hands and feet

Grandad and I took it in turns to follow him around the waiting room. He walked over to one mummy and baby and picked up a blanket that they had dropped on the floor and gave it to the mummy! Then gave himself a round of applause. How cute is that?

Eventually it was our turn and I tried to put Bear down so he could be measured. Bear was not going to cooperate at all. He refused to wave, or clap or talk. He just screamed everytime I put him down, Nanny's boy. We thought he may be teething but we knew it was more than that. When he is well he only wants Grandad, when he's poorly he wants Nanny.

We managed to measure his length and weigh him. The Health Visitor was happy with everything so off we went. We decided that if he fell asleep in the car on the way home we'd carry on so he could nap. His eyes looked heavy and tired but he was fighting sleep so we drove around, after 25 minutes he was still wide awake so we headed for home. Just as we were almost home he fell asleep. So another 30 minute drive around the lanes of North Cardiff.

They are lovely lanes, through a couple of small villages and quiet although this day they were full of flood water and debris from the trees blown down in the bad winds. So over a few pot holes and some Daktari* driving we got home.

On Wednesday Bear was so poorly! He was so hot although Mummy had taken his temperature and it was normal. We thought we'd wait and see what he was like after his breakfast but it was soon obvious he was ill and Mummy text me to ask me to give him Calpol. We only give Calpol when he really needs it and after about 40 minutes his temperature started to come down. He didn't eat breakfast but went to sleep for his morning nap quite easily.

I talk to Mummy via email and while he was napping she suggested it may have something to do with his jabs. I checked the piece of paper the nurse gave us last week, rash, lumps in throat and so I googled it.

The NHS website stated;

About a week to 11 days after the MMR injection, some children get a very mild form of measles. This includes a rash, high temperature, loss of appetite and a general feeling of being unwell for about two or three days.

Definitely MMR side effects.

We decided to go to tots club anyway because he wasn't infectious. He hasn't been for ages because we would rather be outside but now the winter is here we are going each week.

Toddler playing with toy saucepan and fries

We turned up an hour late, I'd got the times wrong. Silly me. So we only had 20 minutes but Bear loved it!

Toddler playing with toy saucepan and concentrating hard

Toddler holding toy saucepan and fries and crouching
Bear loved the saucepan and fries!

So a mixed week, from perfect toddler to unhappy sad toddler. I know his jabs are important but I wish they didn't make him feel so bad. Lets hope next week he's full of beans again!

Did your little one have any side effects from their jabs?

*Daktari. Very, very old TV series set in Africa and at the beginning of every episode the Jeep drives through flood water very fast so it sprays up really high on both sides.


Monday, 16 November 2015

5 Lies We Should Tell Our Children

5 Lies We Should Tell Our Children 

Surely telling lies is bad? I'm not talking about white lies or malicious lies, I'm talking about lies that are good for our children. Fantasy. Magic. Stories. 

Some of the most precious moments in childhood are those filled with wonder and belief. I think it's harder in this day and age of the internet and 24 hour TV but I think it's a duty of all parents and grandparents to lie to their children.

Bear is only 11 months old but I have already started to lie to him. Here is my list of lies I will tell Bear before he is too old.


Best Christmas Jumpers Ever

Everyone loves a Christmas jumper don't they? Here'a a selection I love. Available now.


red with fairisle sleeves, reindeer with red nose
George at Asda  0-12 months £7*
pink with reindeer and pink nose
Peacocks 0-24 Months £8*


white with reindeer and big red nose
Mothercare light up! 6 months -7 years £13 -£15* reduced size 2-3 years £10
white fluffy with reindeer and fluffy red nose
Matalan 12 months - 5 years £12*
blue with just legs of Santa down chimney and writing Ho Ho Ho
Tesco Boys 3 months - 6 years £10-£12


blue with Santa wearing red fairisle sun glasses
Next Boys 3-16 years £14-£19
Blue and white with penguin skiing down hill
Peacocks Boys 7-14 years £10-£14*
red with snowman wearing sun glasses and written just chillin
Tesco Boys 5-14 years £10-£13*

I know it's a sweatshirt but it's got Elsa on it!

Elsa print on sweatshirt
George at Asda Sweatshirt 9-10 years (other sizes sold out) £9*
Fairisle cardigan with puddings
Next Girls 3-16 years £18-23
White with snowman and pom poms
John Lewis Girls 2-12 years £20-£22*


Blue fairisle jumper
ASOS men £38 Now £26.50

Grey with red Micky Mouse made out of stars
Disney Store Mens £29.95 Now reduced £14.97
Black jumper with grinning Christma baubles
Peacocks Mens £24*


Black jumper with white dots and Christmas trees
George at Asda £14*
Cream Jumper with This Girl Loves Christmas written on it
New Look Ladies £14.99
green jumper with Micky Mouse on it
Peacocks Ladies reduced! £10

*OH NO! As at 12th December 10 of the best Christmas jumpers are out of stock!! Next year remember to buy early. Merry Christmas

What is your favourite Christmas jumper?

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