As we approach Christmas I am excited for Alice to have her first Christmas where she is actually aware that something is happening. Because of this increased awareness of gifts, (and things that are hers) that comes with being almost 18 months old, I have been way more thoughtful about her gifts and what she will love! With this, I have had a lot of joy in choosing for her things she can play with and enjoy, all whilst building her confidence and skills.

At the top of the list has always been a Playmobil Noah’s ark, followed closely by a little toddler bike, and then a doll or something similar since she has taken a shine to Megan’s! I think all of these things will be so lovely for her and are things that grow with her and will be used for a good couple of years! The Doll and playmobil are very straightforward, however when it comes to a bike suitable for her age I have wondered, which would be most suitable?!

We have been excited to review with her (and then hide away before the kids get home) the Toddlebike2, and have found it to be a lovely little toy for toddlers with great benefits.

Toddlebike 2

The Toddlebike2 is a unique pre-balance bike for ages 18 – 36 months and will certainly make a great Christmas or birthday gift for the little tots in your life. Available in 3 lovely colours (red, pink, blue) it is fun looking and there is something for everyone. They are really reasonably priced too at £23.95 which I think is brilliant.

Whilst Alice already has a scuttlebug she has inherited (and I only bring this up as I am sure many will think they have no need for this as well), the Toddlebike2 is a lot different, as it is specifically designed to be more like a real bike and give the child their first cycling experience. I absolutely love it for its simplicity, and that it promotes balance, is light weight and easy to clean. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and over all terrains so gives them lots of practice! It fills the gap from the baby ride on toys they have outgrown to the age when they can handle a balance bike or scooter.

As I said one of its great features (aside from being a pre-balance bike) is that it is super light (like under 1kg light) and so can hang on the buggy when out and about, be easily carried to the park, or the best part for Alice – she can easily manouver it and move it around the house when she isn’t on it too (goodbye frustrated tot). It really has been thought about from the perspective of little one and you can see how well it fits into their life. She loved riding it, carrying and pushing it.

When Alice first saw it she shouted some delightful gabble at it and then was itching to have a go! She sat on it and grinned, and then began shuffling around the room! She struggled a little to get her leg over the cross bar, but it doesn’t phase me because with practice I know she will tackle it – I just see it as promoting her problem solving skills!

I loved after we had been out on it, I could so easily wipe it clean and when she wanted to walk, we could easily carry it!

She has had lots of fun both inside and out trialling this, and has found great delight in her new toy bike! I loved watching her toddle along with it across the village green, and chatter away as she went. As it hung on the buggy she would periodically turn to check it was still there, and give it a reassuring pat, and then as we walked she kept pointing at it and smiling! Yes it’s safe to say it gets the thumbs up from Alice, and me… she loved being on it…so much so that she wailed a little when it went away for Christmas!

I am really pleased to have discovered the Toddlebike2 as it is perfect for kids around Alice’s age and a little older too. It has great benefits; promoting balance, steering and confidence and is something that will teach her all of the skills she needs as she grows into a preschooler and towards a balance bike. For now though I look forward to getting it out again on Christmas morning, seeing everyone’s excitement (especially hers), and for it to become a daily part of her life to have fun on and master!

If you are looking for a fun and yet practical gift that will last a good year or 2 for your tot, then give them a Toddlebike2 this Christmas! Hours of fun and adventure await for them in their little world whatever the weather!!

 

Family Fever
 *We were sent the Toddlebike2 for the purpose of this review! All thoughts and pictures are my own.
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We were excited to recently receive a box of goodies from Hallmark, to celebrate the launch of their new Frozen range of itty bittys. Super soft and beautiful, these little plush toys are the latest to join the Disney Family of itty bittys at Hallmark and will make for great stocking fillers, baby gifts or just general gifts for little ones who love Frozen. Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Sven are all there and they are really cute.

Alice (our 16m old tot) found them great to lob across the room which I was a little surprised by! I loved how she could easily handle them, and in my mind had imagined that they would be great for her for Christmas, however whilst in this throwing stage I think we will hold off on that one! Megan on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed playing with them and found them adorable…she’s 5 and instantly recognised the characters in mini form and loved them, they are great to snuggle and great to play make believe role play games with. Small enough for little hands to grab and to fit into hand bags, and big enough to win children’s hearts!

Aside form the 4 cute little members of the Frozen crew, there was also a challenge to “Build a Snowman” with everything we needed to do so! It was such a fun experience and the kids were really excited about it. We made the snowmen last week, and despite my huge lack of baking skills, we all found it to be a rather fun, messy, and overall very creative frozen adventure that produced some tasty after school delights.

How to make Snowman Cupcakes

I am not the best when it comes to baking and such, but these were pretty straightforward and looked really cute. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, and we decided they would be great for parties, or to give out to people over the festive season.

For the cupcakes you will need: 

1 egg
45ml of water
10ml Vegetable oil
10g of soft margarine for the icing  (we actually just made up our own butter cream icing so we had lots!)
1 Frozen cup cake kit

  1. Pre-heat the over to 180c (Gas mark 4)
  2. Place the cupcake cases in a bun tray
  3. Empty the sponge mix into a mixing bowl and add the egg, water and oil. Using a whisk, mix to make a runny batter
  4. Using a teaspoon divide the mixture evenly between the bun cases
  5. Bake the cupcakes for 10 – 12 mins until firm to the touch and golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  6. Make up the butter cream icing
  7. Add some to the top of each bun before adding a marshmallow snowman….

For the Marshmallow Snowman you will need:

Large Marshmallows
Mikado Chocolate Sticks
Mini Marshmallows
Orange Tic Tacs
Black Icing Pen

  1. Using Clean scissors, Trim about 1/4 of the bottom from half of the marshmallows and compress to make them smaller (to create a smaller top for the head).
  2. Depending on the length of the chocolate sticks, break them to the desired length for the arms.
  3. Squash the white mini marshmallows til they’re flat – these form Olaf’s large tooth.
  4. To assemble – use icing to stick the 2 marshmallows together (we just used one big one and drew a face). Pole 2 sticks into each side for arms. Press in the tic tac for the nose, and dot on eyes and mouth with the black icing pen. Then stick on (with icing) the tooth!
  5. Admire your creation!

They were so much fun to do and simple once we got into it. Afterwards the kids decided to make a couple of extra Olaf’s for their hot chocolates – because some things are worth melting for!

*Frozen itty bittys are available through Hallmark. We were sent these things for the purpose of this post and thank Hallmark for that. All pictures and opinions are my own.

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Driving was always a fun and pleasurable thing for me back in the day… I just loved cars and I loved being behind the wheel cruising along to my tunes! And then the kids come along, and suddenly driving becomes a whole new test and minefield; from fitting car seats, loading up the boot and trying to get anywhere on time, all whilst trying to avoid a break down from all of the nagging and whining in my ears on journey’s longer than 5 minutes! It’s then you realise you have suddenly been flung from cool to “Hi my car is filled with tat, tiny humans, has stale rice cakes down the seats and who knows what crushed in to the carpets”. Life is never the same again, no more cool cars, and before you know it… mid 30’s driving an MPV!

But thanks to Kia there is a way to keep cool for that bit longer – meet the All-New Kia Stonic – designed for new parents and those of us who are not yet ready to grow up!

To celebrate the launch of the All-New Kia Stonic Urban Crossover, Kia is hosting a new test drive initiative introduced to help dads-to- be practise for the transition to fatherhood, covering everything from the drive to the hospital to the dreaded first car seat fitting. And whilst not a dad myself (Obvs) I was invited along on Thursday to Ringways Leeds to test drive the New Kia Stonic, and found it to be a beaut of a little car!

I was so nervous to drive a brand new car, but it was great to drive. A I pulled out of the dealership, I suddenly remembered what life behind the wheel of a cool clean car, minus messy kiddies feels like, and it was such a treat!

 The Kia Stonic in my opinion is both stylish and practical. It is packed with lots of tech and comes in an array of bright colours. I love the stop start button (looked a bit blonde asking where the keys were!) and the seats are comfortable and heated. The steering wheel was slick and easy to manoeuvre, and also heated for those cold mornings! The reverse camera system with dynamic lines made it all the more easier to park and reverse, and I loved that the interior throughout has a real sporty feel. Another amazing feature is that whether apple or android, you can sync your tunes/sat nav for all of the rare times your’e not enduring the sound of nursery rhymes on repeat!!! It does have built in sat nav too, which of course is mint, and car seats are easily fitted in the back with ample room.

Being tall I found the steering wheel a little squashed, at least until I realised you can move it up and down (ha) and in and out too (novel)… this ensured that it was in prime position for optimum comfort. Overall I just loved driving it, it was easy, smooth, very comfortable and made me feel cool again!

Prior to driving the Stonic, I took part in a speed challenge around the show room where I collected various baby items to lob in a not so stylish nappy bag, and then was challenged to fit the car seat, before taking it on a test drove through the city to the LGI hospital! I found the car seat easy to fit (and of course nailed it now im an expert), and loved the driving challeng too. Breaking was excellent, the seats were comfortable, and I loved that on the mirrors there are warning lights if you get too close, or try to switch lanes too soon! The boot isn’t massive but certainly ample for a pram and a few bags…

This car would be brilliant for young, first time parents that want something cool, stylish and yet practical too. It is pimped out with extras, and lovely to drive, so for those of us who want to drive something fun for a little longer too this certainly ticks the boxes on that one! I think a family with one or 2 kids would find this a prefect sized car to drive in style and comfort, and being a crossover it has that SUV feel with out being too big or hard to manoeuvre.

With my growing tribe of kids, it unfortunately isn’t even a consideration for us (though I do like the Kia sorento – hello 7 seater life). I did think whilst driving it though that it would be an excellent 2nd car for dads who commute, but then might also need to use their car for the odd kids thing too, because like I say, a car seat fits in easily and its still cool and sporty. It was a 1 litre but very nippy and powerful (even with 3 adults in) and I found it generally to be a lovely easy car to drive.

Its mid range in cost and like all Kia’s it comes with a 7 year warranty which is absolutely amazing. It means that you can certainly have reliability and peace of mind when driving with your little ones! The All-New Kia Stonic is the company’s first offering in Europe’s booming small crossover market and is available now at Ringways Leeds Kia (or your local Kia dealership). Contact them now for a test drive!

*Sponsored post

 

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Living in the countryside our lifestyle has naturally changed to having way more country walks, and lots of plans for wintry beach walks too. I love being outdoors with the kids, but I hate been cold! I therefore have felt a need for more practical and yet still stylish clothing. I like to have things that I can wear easily from a trip around town to a country walk, to on the school run. I need to feel stylish, but most importantly comfortable and warm!

There are 2 things I love to have in abundance in my wardrobe at this time of year; Checked shirts and Knitwear! Both feel cosy, practical, comfortable and are very versatile to make up so many outfit options. One thing I have been lacking on though it the latter – Knitwear. I find it a bit of a struggle to find a jumper that fits well, is warm (but doesn’t look frumpy) or isn’t too itchy, is long enough in the arms, and doesn’t have too many embellishments! I know that sounds like a long list, but I feel like a good jumper is a bit of an investment and needs to be right!

I was super excited when Saltrock sent me this lovely pink number as it is a great addition to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe and best of all… it ticks all of the boxes for both style and my lifestyle.

My Favourite things…

First up I love that is jumper (like many of their others) is on sale! It is £20 down from £50 and feels lovely quality!

I am wearing a size 12 and my favourite things about it are that its thick and warm but not itchy. It does contain wool, which obviously helps but is also blended with Nylon and Acrylic. I like that fact as it helps me when washing it (I tend to shrink pure wool!!!). The pattern adds practical detail that makes it a little bit different to a plain jumper, and I love the colour – I feel like its a good one for my skin tones, and great to go with black or blue jeans. Its not too light to get obviously dirty when playing with the kids, but is light enough to brighten up life on cool days.

Its relaxed fit means that it is easy to wear and comfortable. I have worn it as seen over my Zara denim shirt, and also with jeans and a long sleeved grey tee for a snugly bonfire night! It goes great with everything, and especially great with my maroon scarf. I love that I can wear it with all of my jeans and black shinnies, with boots, wellies or pumps!

I also love small things like its high neckline – I can’t stand gaping in necklines, especially when you’re trying to keep warm, and this one is just right… especially to wear with shirts as I do often with my jumpers! I also like the cuffs and long sleeves. I find a lot of jumpers too short in the arm which makes me feel chilly, but these fit well, keep me warm and are nice and snug around my wrists.

Saltrock is the original British beach lifestyle brand known for quality, style & affordability. Their clothes are designed for everyone who loves to get outside & have fun, and I am glad to have discovered them. They have some lovely things for all the family that are both comfortable and stylish for life outdoors. Their clothing is practical, easy to care for, and especially with the sale – really quite affordable. The only downside to this jumper is the logo on the bottom left, but honestly, I think that’s just me. I have had loads of compliments on it and when I wear the baby carrier, my scarf or coat, you don’t even see it anyway. I have loved wearing this out and about and chilling around the house too, because most importantly its a cosy and comfortable number and is a great addition to my wardrobe!

*Thankyou to Saltrock for sending me this lovely jumper for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and images are my own. 

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