In and amongst our busy weekend , adventures and gallivanting, we still found time for some family time at home. On Saturday morning we had a lot of fun as we got to grips with a new game by Spy Code named “Operation: Escape Room”! We were sent it recently from Smyths Toy Store, and have had a lot of laughs and tense moments with it – it is ideal for some family fun and time together on these cold, wet days!

Escape rooms are all over right now, and are a fun thing to do (or so I hear). This game brings that experience to a child’s level and creates the thrill and problem solving vibe of an escape room, right here in to your living room! Within the box there are three challenges and each one is to be solved in order to retrieve the golden key. Once found the key takes you to the next puzzle and so on, until you get the final key, which if found in time, will stop the ticking “time bomb” (as named by Megs)! It was great to test our spy skills and problem-solving nerve with three  seemingly simple tasks (they were harder than they appear) and that are designed to make you work as a team.

Operation Escape Room is suitable for ages 6+ and both Ethan and Megan really got into it and understood exactly what they needed to do. It is a fast paced game and something you can play in just a short space of time which we really liked about it. Unlike the board games we have tried to play with in the past, where they seem to lose interest easily, this wasn’t at all like that at all- It was fast moving, fun and required some skill and problem solving skills too, which they were only too happy to demonstrate. They enjoyed the urgency of each task and the fact that they were “on a mission” to solve the problems, find the keys and free the family member that needed to escape! We played it a few times, taking turns on the tasks and they loved it every time.

How to play Operation Escape Room 

You begin by assembling the games/puzzles and then placing them around the room (the instructions are really easy to follow – as long as the kids aren’t nagging at you in the process!). After this you choose someone to wear the escape belt, and then you have to work together to free them! It requires you to collect three keys in challenges of skill, strategy and luck, before the time on the escape belt runs out.

We began with “The skill challenge” – this  tests your ability to navigate a maze. From here we went onto “The strategy challenge” which required that we complete mathematical puzzles, find patterns and solve problems to crack the code. This was by far the hardest part, and rather tense too! Finally, when we cracked the code and released the key, we moved onto “The luck challenge”, which is exactly that – luck. It leaves it all up to chance.

Completing each challenge earns one of the three keys you need to release your teammate and if found in time you can stop the timer and free them.

What we loved:

As I said we loved the fast pace and excitement that this game brought to our home. It was a lot of fun to play together and the kids were ever so giddy as they tried to get the keys! We liked how it tested their brains with puzzles, required team work and some level of energy, and we liked how it tested their motor skills too.

It’s great that the skill challenge offers players different levels of difficulty, enabling this game to grow with the kids and offer many many more moments of fun and spy missions!

What we didn’t like so much:

The only think I am not so keen about is that it is a little bit plasticy for me! This is obviously purely a personal thing, but I do worry it could easily get broken if the kids are too heavy handed in their state of urgency to free their sibling/parent/friend. It also requires batteries (2xAAA), so don’t forget these!

Operation: Escape Room is available now from Smyths Toy Store. It is £19.99 and also available for home delivery (how convenient). It would be a great gift for Christmas, a child’s birthday, or just for the fun of it on a rainy day, to keep the kids busy and having fun! It was a lot of fun and we look forward to sharing it with friends and cousins, and having many more family laughs with it too. There are so many ways to play and I think one evening I may even get them dressed up as spys, and bring out our imagination and role play skills as well as the teamwork and problem solving that this game requires.

Thank you Smyths / Spy Code for this new and fun addition to our family game cupboard!

*We were sent this game for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and pictures are our own. 

 

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Mr Smith rarely wants for anything (which is a great attribute to have), at least until we get to his wardrobe, and then I really wish he did want for more  – more stylish things! Put it this way, he is still wearing the same jacket he had when I met him over 10 years ago, and would wear all of his clothes down to threads if I didn’t intercede now and again most the time and “advise” him otherwise! I don’t like to come across as a controlling spouse, and nor is this by any means ripping on my lovely husband, but he really does have his own unique style (which includes plenty of navy blue) – being brave enough to feel totally cool wearing combo’s that most people wouldn’t dream of wearing together (especially in public!). Therefore, I do feel somewhat responsible to direct and encourage him down a slightly more stylish path and give him some pointers on how to put things together (not to mention he looks way fitter when spruced up nicely!).

Its no wonder then that I jumped at the opportunity recently to work with Jacamo menswear on a style challenge for Mr Smith! I was asked by them to pick some things from their Summer range to spruce up his look for a particular event/purpose and then to share with you all his look/our thoughts on their brand!

I instantly decided to go down the “smart casual” path; both for our upcoming holiday to Italy, and also so he could have things that generally looked a bit smarter. The things I chose, as you will see, are also very versatile for work too. I believe part of being thrifty is that when you are buying pieces for your wardrobe, it always pays to have something you can wear for various things as oppose restricted only for one purpose!

The first thing I chose for him were a pair of knee length smart black chino shorts, which come with a belt. These I felt were a must for our holiday/essential for his wardrobe, as he only had denim shorts and I liked the idea of him having something a bit more posh! They look really good on him and suit him well. He loves the feel of them and said the belt was a great bonus.

For an everyday casual look I paired them with a white Tshirt that has a logo “Keep Exploring” on it. He liked the tropical vibe of this and said that the logo transfer was smooth and soft, unlike other cheaper T shirts he has had where they tend to feel more crisp! Both of these items were from the Jacamo brand and were very reasonably priced. We were both incredibly impressed by the softness of the fabrics and the excellent fit of them. Nathan is 6 ft 3 and wears an XL on top, with 38″ bottoms – both of these items (as well as the others) fit him very well and he commented on how comfortable and cool he felt whilst wearing them. He could run, play, move and carry the kids as he desired, and didn’t feel like his clothes were restrictive or irritable. I really like this outfit on him and he is pleased with my choices.

Up next are 2 short sleeved shirts. Nathan works in an office for the NHS and so is required to dress smartly for this! The office is incredibly warm too, and so he much prefers to have short sleeved shirts, paired with his Chino’s for work! I chose for him a lovely white French Connection short sleeved shirt as this one is super smart, trendy and would do him for church and work, as well as the fact that it would also look fresh in the sun on holiday with his new shorts for a smart look for when we go our dinner. It’s a great all rounder and he loves that it has a respected brand to it, is cool and a very comfortable fit and fabric.

The next one I imagined to be a little more casual for day wear when I chose it. I thought it would also look great with his new shorts for a more “smart-cas” look for sightseeing on holiday, or tucked in to his navy chino’s for work! It was a lovely olive green/navy checked shirt by Ben Sherman and was reduced by £16, making it only £34. This one was one of his faves, as he liked the longer length of it and has found it comfortable paired with both his shorts on a weekend, and with his chino’s for work (erm wonder wear those ideas came from?!)! The various colours in it make it work with so many other things, as well as through different seasons. I think it really suits him and is very flattering!

Mr Smith certainly feels the bees knees in his new gear and I think he looks rather attractive too! We both love the amazing array of sizing, brands and styles available through Jacamo and in our small experience here would agree that their clothing is excellent quality and we cannot fault their service. Jacamo cater for bigger and taller men and Nathan has certainly seen a big positive difference in the comfort and fit of their clothing compared to some of his current pieces.

If you have a man in your life (or are a man yourself reading this) then why not check out their site and see what gems you can find to spruce up your own/their look this Autumn. Whether for holidays, work, casual, or the upcoming Christmas season, there are some fantastic things for all shapes, styles and sizes, that are priced really reasonably too – ideal for gifting or sprucing up any man’s wardrobe/look.

Black Shorts – £30  |  White T shirt – £12  |  Ben Sherman Shirt – £ 34  | French Connection shirt – £30
*Thank you to Jacamo for gifting us these items in return for this review.They are so lovely and we will most definitely be shopping with them in the future. All thoughts and images are our own!

 

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One of my biggest pet peeves as a school mum are the shoes the kids wear! Of course they need to be black and in line with their uniform code, but finding the balance between budget friendly, practical and hard wearing is an absolute nightmare! Both Ethan and Megan are very active and consequently their shoes take a lot on a daily basis – they ride either a bike or scooter to school every day, are playing on the the trim trail or football at lunch time, climbing trees and playing in the park after school and then riding home again after. They often play out most nights, and whilst I encourage them to change into play clothes and trainers, they mostly just ignore me!

It is a frustrating cycle that every new term their shoes are trashed and I am having to dish out for new ones. With 2 kids this isn’t cheap at all! I know I love a bargain, but I am not even talking about tacky cheapo shoes (thought I did give them a go and retunred them for a refund after only 2 weeks in September). No I am talking here about what I thought were good quality ones from the high street, but found that the velcro came off on the fastener after a term with Megans Clarks shoes! It is all such a big farce and is doing my head in!

For this term however (since Easter) Ethan has been testing out Treads shoes. I first noticed them on a facebook AD and was intrigued by the fact that they offer a 12 month indestructible guarantee. As a mother that feels like I am buying shoes all the time, this was like a “hallelujah” moment! Affordable shoes, that look good AND have a guarantee?? Sign me up!

I love that the company was started by a parent just like me – done in with having to buy shoes all of the time that turned out to be tat and a waste of money! He knows how kids are and what is needed in a long lasting shoe that they spend a huge chunk of their lives wearing.

Treads are constructed using a “strobel” technique where the upper is placed into a mould and the sole is then injected around it creating one unit without the need for any gluing. This not only creates a really strong bond but offers additional flexibility which is perfect for active kids like mine!

They are made from permair leather which is breathable and water resistant, have reinforced seams and heels, and are scuff proof and wipeable. They have a nifty insole for shock absorbing, and another that can be removed to increase width (together Ethan says they feel very bouncy!). The flexible fused sole makes them hard wearing, non slip and non marking.

Treads shoes came through the post in a lovely box and were delivered very quickly. They have been comfy and hard wearing as promised, and Ethan has loved them!

As a mother I am really impressed as we reach the end of the school year, that I can look at them and see there is still so much more wear left. In this same period of time Ethan’s shoes would usually be battered and I would binning them, whilst muttering to myself about how much they cost and how trashed they are in such a short space of time! They would have holes in the soles, have the coating coming off and look awful, but with his new Treads shoes, aside from being a bit dusty and a little scuff at the front, they are in immaculate condition and as you can see from the next pic, also have plenty of wear in the soles!

What’s great is that they are really affordable too, with most pairs at £35.

What Ethan has to say …

Do you like your new shoes?

Yeah – course I do! I wear them every day and they just look so nice and a bit posh don’t they? I remember when I got them and they looked so clean and shiny! 

What’s the best thing about them? 

That they feel a little bit bouncy when I walk and that I can get them on really really fast. Oh and it’s good that they’re not broken like my others isn’t it? That means I can wear them still in year 3 if my feet don’t grow! 

How do you find them to play in? 

I’ve already told you they’re really good! UGH!! I can run really fast in them and they’re a little bit good to play football in too!

Win a pair of Treads Boys Shoes 

Buying uniform is an expensive affair, and to save you the trouble of having to shop for shoes, Treads are offering one of my lucky readers the chance to win a pair of shoes from their Boys range. The competition will run for 4 weeks (finishing on the 18th August) so that you have them in plenty of time for the new school year! To enter simply follow the instructions below and I wish you lots of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Treads sent these shoes complimentary for the purpose of this post!

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I am someone that absolutely loves and very much needs my sleep (just ask Mr Smith). In recent years this has been made much harder by 3 things – Kids, a snoring husband and restless nights on a springy tat mattress! Whilst I can’t do much about the first 2, the change of our mattress to a Simba Hybrid, has made a world of difference to how well I sleep!

When we were first married I slept very well – we had at that time a lovely memory foam topped mattress that brought me sheer comfort every night, but when that reached the end of it’s life during Mr Smith’s final year at University, we could only afford to buy a cheapo one from Gumtree (of all places)! Of course there was no shopping around, no testing out, no reading reviews – it was an essential and it was cheap, so it was a done deal! After the first night we knew exactly why it was so cheap and vowed that we would never scrimp again on a mattress!

You can then only imagine how much I leapt for joy when Simba came to the rescue and asked us to review one of their Hybrid King Size mattresses. The Simba Hybrid is like no other – With a unique combination of 2,500 conical pocket springs, responsive memory foam, a “simbatex” layer, a perfectly engineered support base and a temperature control hypoallergenic airflow sleep surface, it is 5 luxurious layers designed to fit you and help you get the quality of sleep you’ve been dreaming of.

Together these 5 layers provide freshness and comfort, cool and gentle support, and it’s engineered support base has 7 different zones to ensure a perfect night’s sleep for all. The Visco memory foam moulds expertly to your body shape and it’s basically like a mattress that is tailor made for you. Whatever position you choose to sleep in, this mattress is engineered to offer optimum comfort and a fab nights sleep like never before!

Its complete luxury (and yet very affordable) and was just what our bed and lives needed!

The Mattress came in what I would consider a small box for a King size mattress!! I stood there in amazement wondering how the heck a King Size mattress had fit in there and why was it even in a box? Little did I know the surprise that Simba had in store for us!

Once you have taken it out of it’s little box, Simba needs time to settle into it’s new home. We removed all of the cellophane, laid it on the bed, and then the magic happens! The Simba Mattress begins to expand and settle – its all rather fascinating really! Within minutes you have an inviting mattress sat looking at you, and beckoning you to jump on. And then, a few hours later it is settled and ready to use, and you begin to see what all the hype is about.

100 night sleep trial and a fab warrenty

I don’t need 100 nights to tell you that this mattress is not just good, but absolutely blooming fantastic!

But if you aren’t sold by the end of this post, then know that Simba not only make a wonderful mattresses, but they offer you 100 nights to to make sure the mattress is just right for you. If then you are not 100% happy with it for any reason during the 100 day sleep trial, they will arrange a free pickup of your mattress and fully refund you the cost of your purchase – no questions asked.

I also love that Simba offer an amazing warranty too which is something else we love about them as a company. Every Simba mattress comes with a 10 year guarantee and if your mattress fails during the 10 year warranty period, they’ll exchange it for a brand new one.

Our Verdict

We have had the mattress now for almost 3 weeks and are sleeping in absolute luxury – It has turned our master bedroom into a haven of happiness!

During these last few weeks one of the biggest things we have noticed is that we barely feel one another turning over or moving around. This is because of the Simba Hybrid’s flexible zoned base and unique patented springs, that respond individually to each sleeper so that your movement doesn’t affect your partner, and as a result we are sleeping incredibly well. One night last week Nath brought Alice into the bed, and again I didn’t even feel or notice her presence as I would normally do, instead I slept right through!

The mattress is medium to firm and I love it. It offers great support for both of our backs, and I definitely have noticed a difference on my hips. They have been achy since having kids and if I walk a lot during the day, I really feel it at night. The Simba Hybrid offers instant support and on busy days especially, I can’t wait to hop (or rather crawl) into my new dreamy bed!

We are both side sleepers and I especially have noticed that once in position, I barely move all night. I sleep well, in a deep long sleep and wake up feeling way less achy and groggy than I did with our old mattress! I found after the first week my body felt better, and now 3 weeks on I have noticed I feel really rejuvenated every day. I wake up feeling rested, even if I have gone to bed late! It certainly proves to give quality sleep to us both!

So in a nutshell – We basically sleep a hundred times better on the Simba Hybrid Mattress than we were doing – even with 3 kids in the mix!

I can’t get enough of my bed now! It is optimum comfort to sleep in, so comfortable to work from (yes I am writing write now from it!) and watch movies in, and I love how you just sink into it and feel instantly happy and at ease! We both love it, and I could quite easily spend my whole day in bed. Some afternoons I have a sneaky lay on it, just because it feels THAT nice!

Sleep (and the quality of it) affects so much of our lives. If I am tired, I am grumpy – I feel sluggish and achy, and generally have a miserable day! I need my sleep and our new Simba Hybrid is ensuring that that is attained on a level I haven’t experienced in years! Having this dream of mattress means I am able to sleep wonderfully and spring out of bed in the morning ready to face whatever the kids are throwing my way! As the young people of today would say – It’s “on point”!

How about £75 off your Simba purchase? 

Simba believe that if everybody was a little more rested, the world would be a very different place. Happier, healthier, more productive and better decisions would be made. They are re-imagining every aspect of the sleep experience one bed at a time and would love to offer all of my readers a hearty £75 of their purchase of a Simba Hybrid Mattress! Simply click the link, and look forward to an amazing nights sleep for less ———-> GIVE ME £75 OFF MY SIMBA

* We are working with Simba in an affiliate partnership and were sent the Simba Hybrid complimentary in return for both a review and social media work. Thank you Simba for such luxury – All pictures are my own! 

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