Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Limited edition Yellow Stokke Xplory now available as an additional fabric set!


I'm back on home turf - more than a little jaded and with so much to do. My work pile is so high that I don't really know where to begin and as it is school sports day in a about half an hour I thought that I would try to squeeze this in instead.

You will all be very pleased to know that my trip to Norway was relatively un-eventful. No airport traumas to report, though I have realised then when travelling alone I do have a tendency to dawdle somewhat.

On the way out from Heathrow - I was once again the last one to board but that was the complete fault of the Chanel Bag that was calling me to buy it. I didn't succumb, if you are interested. We are in the midst of a credit crunch and that would have taken a lot of soup dinners to pay for it!

I'm feeling totally summery today and I thought that I would share this bit of hot Stokke® news that I picked up on my travels.

I drooled over their Limited Edition Yellow Xplory® when it launched a few months ago and the hot news is that you can now buy the Yellow fabrics as an additional fabric set, without having to buy the complete stroller.

This is great news for all of the total Stokke nuts out there. Many of them already know that it's simple to update your Xplory® in a snap by picking up an additional fabric set but now with the last few yellows available - what on earth is stopping you?

The fabrics are really easy to change and if you are feeling adventurous why not go in for a bit of mix and match for the truly unique Xplory experience.

Xplory fabric sets are £155 in the UK and the cool forest accessories kits are £96 if you feel like going for a patterned look. (See Stokke for retailers and prices in the rest of the world)


Friday, 26 June 2009

Yes I am blonde - Travel trauma's part 1

It's been whirl-wind of a couple of days. I got up at 3am yesterday catch my flight to Holland.
A very hot and sunny day met me in Amsterdam, my flight was a bit late and I knew that the meeting that I was supposed to be at had already started.

The meeting was at a lovely boutique hotel called Hotel Arena, the meeting was in full flow when I got there breakfast had already finished so I just sat down, grabbed a coffee and got out my mac.

These team meetings are always hard going. The team is based across Holland and the UK, so we don't get together very often and when we do - there is so much to get through.
By the time we broke for lunch I was starving but I still had some finishing touches to put to my presentation and loads of press emails that needed answering.
The afternoon went really quickly and my presentation on how as a brand we should be using social media was really well received - even though most of my colleagues thought that I was talking a foreign language!
By the time the meeting wrapped we only had ten minutes until we were being picked up by cab to go on to our guided walk of the city.

I quickly checked in and dropped off my bag. The hotel room was stunning. Set out over two floors, with bathroom and study downstairs and a spiral staircase leading up to the bed room. Two large flat screen TV's and full wireless access.

I was gutted that (1), my hubby wasn't here and (2), that all I had time to do was dump my bag and run.

The idea of the tour was great - as we usually fly in to wherever. Have our meeting and then leave without actually seeing outside of the hotel. But in reality, most of us had been up since 3am and I hadn't eaten a thing.

When we sat down to dinner it was 8pm and by the time we got back to our hotel it was 12.30am. It was in the taxi back that we heard about poor Michael Jackson.

I ordered a room call for 3am to get back to the airport, giving me enough time to make my 7am flight home.

I was so tired when I got up. It was quite possible that I had just a little too much wine last night and I really could have done with a full twelve hours sleep. I shared a taxi with one of the guys, who didn't look any better than me.

It was at this point that I realised that I had been looking my flight times to Norway - and not home from Holland. My flight wasn't till 9.40am!

What an idiot - I could have had a decent sleep and I felt really rough. Who ever said that PR was glam?
When my flight was finally called I got up to make my way to the gate. I went around the corner, following the signs for gate H.
Next sign: Gate H - walking time 45minutes. I looked at my watch. It was 9.15am.
What a nightmare. I had been at the airport for five hours and now I was looking at missing my plane. Around the next corner was another passport control. I had already been through one but this one was heaving, there must have been at least a couple of hundred people waiting. At this point panic started to set in! I pushed to the front of the queue making excuses for being so rubbish and got through quite quickly.
Next sign: Gate H 30 minute walk. Time to takeoff 15 mins.....

What makes it even worse is that I have a problem with my legs. I broke both of them badly a number of years ago. One of them is fused at the ankle and I can't run and they were killing me. Coupled with the fact that I had been made to walk around Amsterdam for two hours and I hadn't had any sleep. it wasn't looking good.

I was moving as fast as I could - then there was another security check.......

Laptop out, jacket off, liquids out. Laptop away, jacket in bag (by this time I was more than a tad hot).

Next sign: Gate H 15 minutes. Take off 5 mins.....

I got to the gate bang on 9.40am, and then I had a huge flight of stairs to get down. All I could hear was can passenger.. please come to Gate H - you are holding up the plane. No shit.....

They were just about to pull the steps but I had made it. The whole plane full of people were staring at me and shaking their heads.

I can't believe how big that airport is! There is no way on earth that we would have made it if we had been with the children. So please take note: If you are traveling from Amsterdam back to the UK - give yourself an hour to get to the gate!

All in all it was a totally blonde day. Lets hope that Sunday's trip to HQ in Norway goes a little better.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

My first good pressie under £10

Here we go with the first of my under £10 gift ideas. I thought that it was only right to start here are as I found this lovely company at bubble this week.

As you know we have an overriding theme of bunnies, owls and pandas here at mummy tips - so I was quite literally beside myself when I clapped eyes on these cute little paper panda balloons (yes I know that I really should get out more).
I got talking to the lady on the stand, she was lovely and very interesting. I told her of my plight for gifts and whilst talking to her it suddenly dawned on me - that with three children in classes of 30, the majority of which have a birthday party each year I am 3 x 30 x £10 each =£900 on birthday pressies in just one year.
OMG - we are no longer going to the opening of an envelope. Our party attendence will be strictly monitored as will the gifts.

So I am happy to report that the paper panda ballon is a bargain at £2, given along with the lovely owl notebook at £3.50, packaged in a nice reusable box - is quite frankly job done.

The paper balloons are available in other styles and are made from bright, crisp environmentally friendly paper. It comes flat and you simply blow in the small hole to inflate.
The plain paper notebook has a matt finish cover with a pattern on the inside of the sleeve too. 64 pages 17cm x 13.5cm

All available from the lovely online boutique Petra Bose, they have lots of other beautiful gifts if you have more budget to play with - including some really nice Owl canvasses that DinoBoy has fallen in love with (why do I get the feeling that I know where the money from his M&S shoot next week is going?!)
Standard delivery is £3.95 but to be fair I would buy for more than one party at a time - and they take PayPal, which I do think is a bonus. I always have money hanging around in there from ebay stuff that I have sold - so to me it doesn't really feel like I am paying for anything at all.
Like free stuff and yo can't beat that!

Mummy Tip of the Day


#Tip of the Day
Do not try and do 10 things at once - or your pizza may end up looking like this......Not good.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I Got Tagged!

Thanks for all the fantastic feedback that I had from yesterday's post on that truly fantastic iPhone app. I even got a follow and a DM from the apps developer on Twitter. My kids were soo impressed. I was like the best mum in the world - well for at least a couple of minutes anyway. I have promised to post a vid on You Tube of FunnyGirl in full Smack Talk action - but you will of course hear about that in due course.

So I have to say a Very Big thank you to New Mummy for giving me my first ever tag. If I had a badge - it would be hers!

So here are the rules...

1. Mention the person/s that tagged you
2. Complete the list of 8's
3. Tag 8 other bloggers

Here goes...

1. New Mummy - check out her story of life as a new mum

Here are my 8's

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To

1. Seeing my hubby's first womenswear collection
2. DinoBoy's first modeling job for M&S
3. Seeing the next issue of Annabel Karmel's Bookazine (FunnyGirl) is on the cover
4. My teenage son, StarBoy going off to uni (and not cause I want to use his room for my clothes)
5. The continued growth of my blog
6. Getting on the plane to Thailand for our yearly trip (not till January though)
7. The children's sports day
8. The summer sun (we can hope)

8 Thing's I did yesterday

1. Got a train to London
2. Met up with my online / blogger / Twitter buddies for the first time
3. Carried my macbook to London and back without switching it on
4. Spent too long playing Yum Yum on my iPhone (which is why I didn't switch my mac on)
5. Nearly peed my pants laughing at FunnyGirl conversing with Smack Talk on my iPhone
6. Ate hubby's very delicious Dim Sum for tea
7. Bought a pair of jeans for my hubby to customise for my pal sophie4sophie
8. Fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow

8 Things I Wish I Could Do

1. Wear high heels
2. Run
3. Make dumplings like my hubby
4. Bake
5. Make a few Million
6. Move to Thailand
7. Have a pet Duck
8. Have kids that love to tidy

8 Favorite Fruits.

1. Gooseberrys
2. Rhubarb
3. Satsumas
4. Grapes
5. Apples
6. Bananas (but only native Thai)
7. Watermelon (ditto)
8. Raspberrys

8 Places I Would Love To Travel To

1. Sanrio World in Tokyo
2. Vietnam
3. China
4. Singapore
5. New York
6. Australia
7. Niagra Falls
8. Brazil

8 Places I Have Lived

1. Shropshire
2. London
3. Leicester
4. Market Harborough

Boy that sounds dull.... but I have lived in London 3 times!

8 Blogs I'm Tagging

1. A Little Kindness - please pass and add on.
2. DulwichMum - she brightens my day, especially with her Friday ES mag updates!
3. Home Office Mum - In a position not unlike my own.
4. Babycchino - I love a product blog, not many good UK specific ones like this.
5. Living With Kids - Liz is fab at what she does and well worth a follow.
6. Baby not included - Apart from her sound insights we are both obsessed with our rankings!
7. Juicy Tots - as a fellow child of the 70's we favor the same sweets and interests.
8. Being a mummy - Her blog is a great read.

That's you lot!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Smack Talk - simply the Best iPhone App ever!


Back from my day out at bubble. It was really good to meet up with my fellow Tweeters. We had an avid discussion over lunch that was strangely fluid.
You do get strangely used to speaking in 140 characters or less.
I had planned to post on all the lovely things that I had seen at the show today - but I got completely side tracked by something that has made me chuckle more than I have for a long time.

FunnyGirl, is funny by nature - hence her tag.
For Father's Day, her lucky dad had a new iPhone, FunnyGirl and I bought it to cheer ourselves up after that dreadful train journey we took a couple of weeks ago and we had to hand it straight over as we are both rubbish at keeping secrets.

So by the time Father's Day arrived, hubby had quite naturally amassed an impressive arsenal of games and apps.
What I encountered though has me laughing at the thought of it.
I came into my bedroom - arms full of stuff to put away and there was FunnyGirl lying on my bed having a full on conversation with the said iPhone. Well when I say she was talking to the phone - she was really conversing with a guinea pig.
Ok, you may say - but is that funny? Well yes, when what you say is repeated back to you faster, squeekier, with perfect lip sink and coming from a cute furry guinea gig!

Every time the guinea pig spoke she was laughing so hard that it had us all laughing too. If the guinea pig isn't for you there is a very cute kitten, a puppy and a manic Chihuahua that frankly is not quite right.

If you have an iPhone and you have children - you have to get this app. It's only 59p from iTunes and it works in every language. It will have you and the kids and everyone else howling for hours.
It is called Smack Talk - available from iTunes or you can get more info from the developers site.
When you have tried it and are hooked you may want to join his Twitter group!
Enjoy!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The big Mummy Tweet Up!


Good evening people. I am chomping at the bit to begin my budget toy feature but as I am going to bubble tomorrow I thought that it would probably better for the old creative flow if I got that out of my system first.

I'm really looking to seeing next years collections from some of my favorite labels including No Added Sugar, Green Baby, Mitty James, Their Nibs, and of course Joules (as FunnyGirl and ModelGirl are two of their in house models)!

Of course they are just the UK based labels - which we do of course like to support. There are lots of people standing for the first time at this show - so hopefully it will be a good one.

After a morning's work I am meeting up with some fellow Twitter / Mummy bloggers for lunch. Our group excitement is at a far higher level than that generally expected of ladies of our age. Non the less we are all left wondering quite how we will know who is who! (not a dissimilar feeling to a blind date... I would imagine).
At least Sophie4Sophie (yes her of the fab dressses) fame will be very easy to spot, thanks to her much loved, infamous limited edition Stokke® Xplory®!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Britain's Next Top Model and Sticker Fun


This week has without a doubt been the week of DinoBoy! He has for a long time been jealous of the money that the girls ability to make money but at 8 he has been too lazy to do anything about it.

A few weeks ago he asked me if I would help him to earn some money - as he wanted to boost his bank balance. In truth it was dwindling thanks to the Victorian Owl and Giant Turtle shell that are now taking pride of place in his bedroom.
So I called the girls agent - put his paperwork in place and he got a call for the M&S casting the following week. They saw over 130 boys at the casting and DinoBoy walked it. We were surprised but thrilled for him. 
Then this week, ModelGirl was called in for a back to school campaign. Her agent mentioned to the client that they should see FunnyGirl and DinoBoy too - as they would be with me after school anyway. They weren't convinced but he went along anyway.
The casting went well. FunnyGirl was funny and ModelGirl did what she does best. DinoBoy was just himself really.
So when the phone call came the following day - I was shocked beyond belief at who they had chosen. Yep DinoBoy! It seems that the little fella really is Britain's Next Top Model!


So moving swiftly on to something fun and funky. 
As you know I am doing a big search for good pressies for kids under £10. I have some great things that I know will have you full of inspiration but before I get my bargain head on I had to show you this.

It's a really nifty bit of kit, that will bring you hours of interrupted fun (well it would me anyway). The Sticker Kit from Cox & Cox allows you to turn anything into a sticker - and I do mean anything. Fabric, flowers, photographs and sketches. You can use them to personalise just about anything and it comes with 7m of removable adhesive tape.
£25 from the delightful site Cox & Cox 

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Help I need a birthday gift and fast.....

It has to be said that there is a certain amount of competitive parenting that goes around these parts and never does it rear it's ugly head as much as around party season!

My dilemma today comes in the form of a friends daughter's birthday. The said girl is turning 8. She is one of the last birthday's in DinoBoy's class - which means by this point I have totally and utterly exhausted the ideas pile in my brain. The situation is not at all helped by the closing down of our beloved Woolies.
Not a place on my general shopping radar - but for birthday toys it was all our little town had - and now that is gone we are left with a smackering of adult designer wear stores, a couple of kitchen shops and not much else.

To add to my problem - the party is today. Straight from school and I haven't so much as left the house, which is limiting my options even further.

Is it OK to do money in a card - or is that a weak willed - I can't be bothered to shop for you statement? I know that DinoBoy would choose cash any day of the week. So that he can buy more complete rubbish of his choice. Which to be honest does seem a bit more appealing than getting a whole load of rubbish that you don't want.

Case in point - on Sunday he bought a Victorian shell from a Giant Tortoise at the car boot sale (?). This now sits next to his Victorian stuffed Owl.......

ModelGirl on the other hand, would be happy with anything that involved her making stuff - but I know that not all parents (including me to be fair) like messy stuff that they have to clean up.

Then, if you do go down the money route - how much do you give? Is £5 OK or should it be £10? I know without the aid of a Woolies that you certainly couldn't buy a half decent present for under £10 around here.
I welcome your feelings and feedback on this. I am going to try and put together a quality kids gift feature with £10 as my budget. Obviously todays party problem still remains but lets see if we can't help some of you out in the future.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Exclusive Sophie4Sophie meets byyanto and Stokke....


It was a funny old day yesterday. I'm so busy at work that I find it pretty hard to sit back and relax at any point of the day. My 9am to 3.30pm hours seem so short and I try to pack in as much as possible before I hear the familiar screams of the three amigo's disembarking from the school bus and bringing our small village back to life.

Post out here in cow land is slap dash to say the least. It has been known for our postman not even to arrive at the post office to collect the important Special Deliveries that we poor country folk have paid over the odds to get to our important (media) destinations on time.

That for sure is another post entirely - but please feel free to remind me at some point using the key words, This Morning, Nappies, before 9am delivery, no London stockists and in the shit.

Sure you get the gist.... Anyway, I'm trying not to moan and today I had absolutely nothing to moan about (apart from the fact that our BT broadband seems to be on slow time).

I was up to my eye balls in this and that today when a lovely surprise arrived with our smiling postman Terry (to be fair, he was actually smiling today, perhaps because I opened the door for him - but who knows). I was greeted by a beautifully packaged surprise.

I wasn't expecting anything and ripped the package apart with gleeful anticipation. A dress! How fantastic. Not for me, obviously. People don't make dresses and send them to you in beautifully packaged parcels when you're a grown up (they should), but this was for #OriginalXploryGirl (aka FunnyGirl).

She bounded in from school...
"What's that? Is it for me?" She asked as she was already stripped and half way into the said new dress. Which is - as I am sure you will agree, fantastic.

Designed and created by my Twitter friend Sophie4Sophie using the simple #Stokke Circles pink fabric to create a truly one off piece that had #OriginalXploryGirl and #ModelGirl engaged in quite a scuffle.

The dress is styled in the pic with a pair of unique customised jeans from @byyanto - I am sure you will agree that it is a classic one off outfit that takes some beating.
Sophie4Sophie designs are available from Juicy Tots and The Hedgepig. Exclusive customised jeans byyanto available to order. Kids sizes £40, adult sizes £70. Each pair is unique, limited edition, numbered and available to order in skinny or straight style. To order email the man himself on yanto@byyanto.com

All feedback gratefully received - as usual and #OriginalXploryGirl would like it to be known that her fee for this shoot went to pay for watering the potatoes on her potato hill (stay tuned!).



Not quite Fathers Day


Things seem to have gone a bit crazy here over the last few days. I've been working so hard by day that I haven't had five minutes to blog.
I am calling this my official lunch break - and if the phone stops ringing for a couple of minutes I might actually be able to get this post live!

I did have some big grand plan to do a whole week of gift ideas for fathers day this week - but that hasn't really fallen into place. I've been searching around for funky and exciting stuff that the kids could actually buy for Mr MummyTips without me having to open my purse. Alas, as far as we got was a giant Toblerone - and to be fair they have been wanting to chomp their way through that. Their view is that daddy will thank them as he is once again watching his waistline.

Of course I may have had more of an investment in finding some value gifts if I hadn't already been and bought him a new iPhone. FunnyGirl and I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, the day before they announced the new one as it happens and in our inability to keep a secret for more than five minutes we had to hand it straight over. So fathers day is done and dusted in our house, all except for the battle over giant Toblerone that is.

As you know, my crew all have their little collections. DinoBoy and his owls, ModelGirl and her bunnies and FunnyGirl and her pandas. Her bedroom is infact like a mad Chinese breeding centre these days but whilst she keeps it tidy I don't complain.

I was looking around for a light summer coat for ModelGirl as to her utter disgust her very expensive silver Oilily mac that she bought with her own hard earned cash has moved into the hand-me-down realm. When I came across this very cute little number. Yes I am aware that it isn't remotely like a coat but you know how easy it is to get side tracked.

Not just cute but hand knitted too this little rucksack is just the right size for carrying your essentials (though to be fair FunnyGirl would have to engage in a major downsizing exercise if she wanted to fit all her stuff in).
Made from 100% cotton  £30 from Elias & Grace, who do incidentally have some rather nice coats too!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

It is so much easier for boys.....


I know that it isn't very right on to complain about stuff like this - but recent events have forced my hand. 
I have two boys and two girls and I come from a family of two boys and two girls. As a child my elder brothers excelled at swimming, rugby and at the private grammar school that they both attended on full scholarship.
My sister was next in line. A classic under achiever with middle child syndrome. She took up dance because it was something that I did (even though I am seven years her junior), we were in the same classes - so that didn't last long.
She swam, as we all did - our father was a swimming coach so that activity was non negotiable. Where my brothers and I had promise, she simply swam because it was something that she was expected to do.

Now all of these years later I am starting to see startling similarities with my own brood. That is discounting my eldest boy, as he has gone through his life not really being interested in sport or anything other than sitting in front of one electronic game or other. But then he truly is a child of the Playstation generation.
DinoBoy is next in line. He is a funny boy - and by that I mean people laugh at him. Not in a mean way, he is just one of those kids that make you smile. The joker in the pack.
At nearly nine, he already has his black Karate belt and has since moved on to trampolining, gymnastics and swimming. He is also very bright. He studies Kumon maths and is working a good few school years ahead of his peers but he doesn't put any effort into anything that he does. Just like my brothers before him.

Then there is ModelGirl, she as her name suggests is a model and has been since she was just a couple of weeks old. She is very pretty and exceptionally gifted in front of a camera. She listens to direction from the photographer and she delivers. Usually in the first couple of frames which gets her re booked as they don't need to book so long in the studio - saving time and money.
Back in the real world she is really lacking in confidence. She has been doing ballet since she was two and joins DinoBoy at gymnastics, trampolining, swimming and Kumon.
She struggles a bit at school, which was why we embarked on the Kumon program and she has worked really hard - it doesn't come naturally to her so we are really proud that she will be collecting a Bronze award at the summer prize giving. That is a big deal for her.
DinoBoy who cruises through his work will waltz in and pick up a Gold.

Which is where I pick up the story. Dino and Model were both in a trampolining competition a few weeks ago. Dino won his group - granted there was only him in the group so he came away with the medal. Model, being a girl was in a group of 20. She was really good in the first round but then her nerves got the better of her and didn't do so well in her second round.
She tried really hard though. Much harder than Dino, and she was the one that deserved a medal not him.

DinoBoy has now decided that he would like to start earning some money. It really riles him that ModelGirl has a very healthy bank balance. He doesn't comprehend how hard she has worked to get it. 
We called her agency and they took him onto their books without hesitation. This week he had his first casting. A real biggie - a job for M&S. They were seeing kids all day. He was number 125, so he came away thinking that he wouldn't hear from them again.
The email came yesterday afternoon - he has the job! Whilst I am really proud of him, I feel really sorry for ModelGirl.
Being a boy, things just seem happen for him - that don't happen for her.

I'm sure this is a topic I will return to time and time again! I would love to hear what you think about any similar happenings with your kids.

ModelGirl and DinoBoy pictured...

Friday, 12 June 2009

Kidz Talent Quest 2009 - open for entry now


The long summer hols will soon be upon us and if you like me are struggling with ideas of how to fill those long summer days and you have a little star or two on your hands then you really should have a look at this.


Talent Quest 2009 will be taking to venues across the UK to seek out talented young singers, actresses, models and actors.

They have some fantastic prizes on offer in each of the categories including holidays, photoshoots, agency representation and concert tickets.

It costs £5 to enter but a large portion of that entry fee goes to one of the two charities that they are supporting.

Heats are being held around the UK, culminating in a grand London final at the end of the summer.

The competition is open to all children aged between 5 and 17 years.

This competition has now closed.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Posh Baby Pantlet combo fromTwisted Twee

I have a fab find for you guys today. The only downside is that they are only available in sizes up to two years - well the tops are anyway. There is an adult side to their webstore with lots of grown up things to make you smile (including the classic range of Portrait Pants) but they deserve a post all to themselves. 

So - I was struggling to find a cool and funky T shirt as a pressie for a little bambino that I know and then I found these.

I don't know about you but during the summer I always failed miserably in getting clothes to stay on my four (DinoBoy especially always had a thing for being naked) yet I always needed to get them looking respectable enough to leave the house.
Here is the answer - dressed but not really dressed!

The Posh Pantlet Combo comes courtesy of a company called TwistedTwee. Don't stop at the pant page though because they have lots of things for kids of all ages. The sleepyhead embroidered pillows are another great buy at £15.
There are quite a few designs in the Pant Combo range include Shakespeare, Tea, Best in Show and Car. Available in sizes from birth to 2 years in five different stylishly quaint colours. £25 each http://www.twistedtwee.co.uk/posh-pant-combos-c-16.html




Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Retro Owl Clock - perfect for DinoBoy!


DinoBoy has been a busy bee today. He has just got home from a busy casting for M&S in London. In his absence I have been cruising around on the web looking for a clock for his room.
I have been surprisingly slow off the mark in realising that if they know what time it is in the morning then they are less likely to get up at 5am!
Doh - I have four kids and I have only just worked this one out. Still never mind I am on the case now.
If you're a regular on my blog you'll know that DinoBoy is owl mad. His collecting began after his adopted grandpa bought an Eagle Owl chick. Hobnob the owl totally bonded with him. So much so that he starts tweeting and rolling his eyes whenever he comes near. Incase you wondered this isn't usual behavior for an owl - he totally wants to attack everyone else who goes anywhere near him!
So when I came across this clock I knew that it would be completely at home amongst the 100+ owls that sit in his room.
This funky little hand painted retro number is available exclusively through a fab little site that I stumbled across on Twitter called www.hunkydoryhome.co.uk
They have a really good range of home stuff on their site - not just for kids either.
The owl clock is £49.95

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

If you are learning to ride buy an Islabike



Along with our love of manky toys goes our family love of cycling. When we are at our fittest and when time allows we have been known to roam over 50 miles a week around our beautiful countryside with the kids in tow.
DinoBoy is however not a natural cyclist. Being the eldest of our young three he had his two little sisters looking up to him, waiting eagerly to see how he got on once those dreaded training wheels came off.
On the said day we drove out to a local country park - a large open space - we were excited, eager, full of anticipation. 
ModelGal and FunnyGal were trailered up on the back of hubby's bike - box of sandwiches to keep them happy on our seven mile ride. DinoBoy can't contain himself any longer, "Come on mum, lets go" he shouts and he starts to ride all alone.
Feel the scene.... Reservoir, large green open space, a few trees far to the left, a wooden bollard far to the right. We are safe - there are no dangers DinoBoy is free of his wheels - he is feeling the wind in his ears...
"Muuuuummmmmm" he screams as he careers towards the trees (yes the ones about half a mile to the left), I peddle faster but not fast enough I reach out just as DB goes right over his handle bars and into the tree. I skid and fall, hubby and the girls are screaming DinoBoy and I are in a heap beneath the tree. 
"That didn't go too well did it mum?" asked ModelGal.

And no it didn't. Poor DinoBoy's bike was as mashed as his pride and after that we went out and bought him a set of decent wheels with good breaks. So finally getting to the product bit.. What we bought him was an IslaBike.
Designed by Isla Rowntree, who has more cycling championships to her name than I'm sure she cares to remember. Islabikes really are designed with kids in mind. They are light, easy to manouvre and have breaks that small hands can easily operate (this is what drew us to them!)
As Isla has a racing history, she really knows what she is doing and offers a full customisation service at time of purchase.
Hang on you may say... I just want my little one to ride to school in the morning.. Well that may be but on an Isla he will be doing it safely whilst boosting his cool.
So the moral of the story is. If you like your kids and you don't want them to die whilst careering headlong into a tree on a bike that they cannot control - then visit http://www.islabikes.co.uk
They have a great selection of bikes from the very basic (but super cool) Rohan balance bike(2+) £99.99 to the super sexy Luath 700 large (13+) £449.99, a top of the range touring/ triathlon bike, with something suitable for every age in between.
Another great service that they offer is a buy back scheme. As parents they appreciate that your bambino's can grow at a rate of knots. With this in mind they offer a buy back service as  a part exchange against a bigger model.
What more could you ask for? (except for less trees when you are learning of course!)

I want a Sophie the Giraffe..well I really want a pet duck but DH says NO!

Any one of my children will confirm that I have a bit of a thing for retro toys and scabby hairless stuffed things from days gone by. I purchase whenever I can on our regular Sunday car boot outings, trying to make the kids love them.
So bad has it become that the girls now spot the said dog eared and well loved item, point but don't touch (they don't know where it's been) before saying that I have to buy it as it's too ugly for anyone else to love.
I do like to point out to them that it isn't a very nice thing to say and I do hope that no one ever says it to them!
Anyway I digress - as my todays offering is not scabby or dog eared but simply a fantastic toy that has stood the test of time.
Born in France in 1961, Sophie the Giraffe quickly became a 'must have' baby buy. It was designed to stimulate the senses and to soothe sore teething gums.
Since it was launched over 10 million little Sophies have been sold and 6 out of every 10 French babies own one.
Made from flexible, renewable, natural rubber and non-toxic paint, it's a safe and all natural teething aid.
Oddly for this fast paced world that we live in, every single is made by hand. 
I love the retro design, Sophie fits right in with my collection of odd balls and childhood memories. It's one of those products that makes perfect sense, that you would want to treasure forever.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Stunning Le Tour De Force from Little Fashion Gallery


It being a very grim and grey Sunday morning here I thought that I would try and bring you all a touch of fun and glamour. Especially after the horrid week that I have had!

I'm always on the look out for things that are individual and they don't really get any better than this. I have totally fallen in love with these head pieces from Le Tour De Force. I really wish that I'd come across them last year when they were all being christened - the white Daisy design would have looked stunning on both of the girls, and it would have been something that they could keep forever - it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it!

Le Tour De Force are an innovative kitsch British label better known for their equally eccentric adult pieces. They have designed this children's collection exclusively for the online mecca for all that is kiddie cool -  Little Fashion Gallery.

The children's pieces are priced at around 70 euros, so they are more of a special occasion buy but please... they are just so cute.

Or if you're not the wallflower type and you think that you can carry one off yourself have a look at the grown up stuff here http://letourdeforce.bigcartel.com/


Friday, 5 June 2009

Cool Cardboard Eco Dolls House

I seem to be really drawn to these cardboard contraptions at the moment. I have all of these grand ideas about pulling out the big box of 'stuff' that lives in the cupboard in our playroom and sticking, pasting and painting to our hearts content.
Ok so I obviously never actually get to put my grand plan into action. That may be something to do with the fact that I have four children, a husband, two cats, one dog, one very full time business to run, no cleaner, quite a big house to clean and a gymnastics club to run buy hey we can all dream of a perfect life where we have time to be creative for fun.

I just love this dolls house. The girls and I have been searching for one for a while. It is - along with an old Silver Cross dolls pram the main thing that we search for every sunday as we religiously hunt at the car boot sale. But it has to be said that I am a tad fussy. I want an old 60's or 70's style one - not one of the new soulless moc Georgian ones that are all over the place.
So in the absence of my dream dolls house - I think that this one comes in a pretty good second.

I'm thinking Barbara Hulaniki wall paper in the lounge and a think shag pile carpet in the bedrooms - oh the joy!

Anyway you can play at your own 60 minute makeover for the very good sum of £26.95. It is made from recycled cardboard and open fronted for easy access.

It measures 75 x 38 x 74cm from ECOutlet

Stylish kids clothes from www.thehedgepig.com

The lovely weather here in the UK has made me start thinking about new summer clothes for the girls as all of a sudden it seems that Biba doesn't have anything that fits. Still on the positive side a growing girls means new clothes - so it isn't all bad if you love to shop like we do!

This dress from www.thehedgepig.co.uk has caught my eye. It is so cute, the only downside is that the sizes don't go big enough for my lot.

Designed by Plastisock it has a bright funky black and white apple field print and is simple but perfect. It's the kind of piece that can be dressed up or down and looks equally as good as a dress or over jeans or leggings.

Made from 100% cotton all Plastisock pieces are made to the strict Oekotex standard which means that they are free from any of the nasty chemicals that seem to surround everything these days.

The dress is available in sizes from baby to 4 years from £22.99

Whilst you are checking out the dress have a good look around the rest of the site. www.thehedgepig.co.uk have a fantastic collection of bright and funky kids clothes that will make your little one stand out from the crowd. They stock a great range of labels including Urban Elk, Smafolk, minymo and my other fav Sophie4Sophie.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A not funny thing happened on the way to the Annabel Karmel shoot

So here I was thinking that I was going to have a really nice day out with little Betty today. 
Being my fourth child I do feel guilty that we don't actually spend a lot of quality one on one time together, but in a big family with a business to run and kids to run around after it is pretty hard to have one on one time with anyone.
Today Betty had been booked to film a video to promote Annabel Karmel's new Cook it Together cookbook from Dorling Kindersley - well she had kind of been booked. Annabel called me to see if one of the girls could do it. Biba being the eldest (and the most experienced model) has done so much for her - so she was everyones obvious choice - but she has her SATS this week...
Betty didn't need asking twice on the stand in front and off we went to the filming. 
Morning started out OK, we were in a bit of a rush to get to the station but then that is pretty normal. We were on the fast train that should have got us into London in an hour but as we were passing through Bedford station the train felt kind of funny. Like it was going to de-rail or something equally not nice, a bang some thuds, shake, shake. Then there were the breaks and a very strong burning smell as the driver administered an emergency stop.
We now know that a man had jumped in front of the train - it was moving pretty fast at the time as it hadn't stopped at the station.
We all sat there - the full train of people, all with somewhere to go - for nearly three hours till the track was cleared and a new driver was brought in to take us to London.

So please excuse my lack of products today but I have been lacking in motivation. 
Nothing a good nights sleep and a glass of wine won't cure. 
I will be back on schedule tomorrow.
And we did get to the shoot in the end. 
Annabel waited for us (thanks) and they made the scrummiest fruity chicken curry - that me and Liz the naughty make-up artist tucked right into! Yum Yum. 
Annabel Karmel's Cook it Together Cookbook from Dorling Kindersley is out now £7.99

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