Back to School with Smiggle

If you’re a bit of a stationery fiend like me who can spend happy hours online poring over pretty flamingo print notebooks and such like then you probably enjoy the stationery part of back to school shopping too.

Needless to say I was very excited to be invited to Smiggle (where a smile meets a giggle) to try their products and see their back to school range for 2016 called ‘sidekicks’.  I’m happy to report that school stationery has moved on from maths ruler sets and mustard coloured rule lined books. 20160825_083700

Filled with bright neon colour, the store is instantly recognisable. The shelves are filled with loads of  fun things that kids will love like lunch packs and fold-down drinks bottles, key rings, glitter pens, lip balm, and fluffy pencil cases and backpacks. Scented pencils and rubbers add to the cool factor with scents like candy floss. Cola was my personal favourite.

At the back of the shop there is a trying station set up where you can try out some of the pens and pencils to see which ones you like (perfect for finding that perfect ‘write’ of a pen) and the staff demonstrated one of the creepy crawly starfish toys that ‘climbed’ down the wall and lit up too. I felt welcome to pick up all the stuff and didn’t feel like I had to keep telling Beg not to touch everything because the store is set up for kids to be able to have a good look.  At the front of the shop there is a post box to post your entry into the design your own backpack competition. If your entry is chosen as the winner Smiggle will make your back pack for you-how exciting is that?

I really loved all the products, everything had a good quality feel to it and there were lots of things within pocket money budget (lots under £3).

I had an exclusive preview of the Spikeys 2 range. These are collectable ‘Smiggurines’ there are 12 to collect. They are £7. each and all come in the same packaging so you don’t know which one you are getting. I love that element of excitement and I think kids will too. If you ever have doubles you can take your Spikey to any Smiggle shop and trade with any of the 3 on the trade table. There is also a mega mystery one even the staff don’t know what character it is. So lucky you if you find that one! I had a goodie bag given to me with freebies in and I had the ‘Kong’ Spikey.

Smiggle do a different back to school range each year, and you just know it’ll be the one all the kids will be talking about. For 2016 it’s the ‘sidekicks’ range. Five cute characters -a penguin, puppy, cat, dog and dinosaur, and each has lunch packs, drinks bottles, pencil cases and more.

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I was fortunate enough to win a £200. gift card.20160825_100107 I was so excited and me and Beg had a massive shopping spree which was so, so fun. I’ve never done anything like that before so I was really made up. So we got a fair few bits and pieces (there is some left on the gift card honestly!) and since getting them all home I’m really impressed with the quality of them.

 

My favourite thing we got was this trolley case. The hot air balloon design is so pretty and it will fit all Beg’s things in for future holidays. It can be worn as a back pack-which is great for getting around airports- but also has an extendable handle and wheels that light up when they move. It’s so cool! It’s priced at £42.

Beg’s favourite thing was the spy pen (£4.00). Normal biro one end, but the other end is a white marker that doesn’t show up until you shine the UV light onto the page. She has been writing secret messages all weekend!

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Smiggle has really impressed me and it’s really geared up to what kids will love. Loads of products to choose from and really funky and bright designs.

 

Check out my first you tube video of me ‘unboxing’ the freebie goodie bag here.

*Disclaimer: I received free products for this review, though all views are honest, and my own. *

Check out Smiggle for yourself!

 

 

Baby Products Top 5

Baby products review. The best things and more useless things plus what not to buy.

A round up review of my best and worst baby buys.

  1. Top of the list definitely has to be the BEDNEST. I hired this from the NCT. The moses basket or crib is one of the more bulky baby items but is used for such a short time so when I saw an advert for the hire of this bedside crib I thought it was perfect. £79 for 6 months or as long as you need it or until they grow out of it whichever comes first. Both sides of this crib drop down and the height is adjustable so it can sit alongside any parent bed. The sides are mesh which aides airflow and you can adjust it so it is tilted. Absolute Godsend for us with babba’s silent reflux. The Bednest is delivered to your home on a day you specify and sent with brand new sides (that are material), brand new mattress and 2 new cotton fitted sheets. I can’t exaggerate enough how easy it is to assemble it basically pops up which also makes it great for travelling. Then when you want to send it back you just keep the box it came in and email them and they arrange a courier collection. I have just extended my rental period – for free! You can buy them also if you would wish to. Far and away the best bit of baby gear ever.
    Rent here: http://www.bednest.com/
  2. The MOBY WRAP. Bought this one in advance this time around as it was so useful with my first baby. It’s basically a long stretch of fabric that you tie around you in a certain way to carry the baby on you and once you have you tubed it and tied it once it’s really easy. I’m a BIG fan of the Moby wrap. It keeps newborn babba close which is lush in those early days and it makes you hand free so you can make a cuppa. Another absolute Godsend for silent reflux as my baby needed to be kept upright so he basically lived in my Moby wrap for the first 3 months. There’s loads of colours, I grabbed mine on Amazon for about £40. Don’t be lured by the cheap imitations, I’ve tried a couple of them and they had too much give in them.
  3. ‘Sterling Baby’ SWADDLE blanket. I picked this up in TK Maxx on a random pregnancy induced shopping spree. Well I have used it every night. Baby kept waking himself up flinging his arms out with that newborn baby reflex that makes them look like they think they’re falling. Wrapped him in this and hey presto….sleep. It’s lovely and soft and has Velcro tabs. I’m sure you can buy these in a lot of places. Super cute too.
  4. The MAXI COSI PEBBLE car seat deserves a mention in the top 5. Easy to use with their family fix base which you can also use for the next stage up car seat, the Pearl. It has a reclined position that I just haven’t found in other brands of car seat. Also top company who fixed our 6 year old family fix isofix base free of charge so we could continue to use it with baby number 2. Big thumbs up Maxi Cosi.
  5. Lastly the FISHER PRICE BOUNCER CHAIR. Really vibrant bright colours, lovely positioned seat for baby, foldable so great for travelling (or moving house) and rocks easily with no dreadful squeaking. My baby is 5 months old and I think he will have a few more months usage out of this still. Great buy.

The not-so-good:

  1. The GRO-HUSH baby calmer. Gro Hush Baby CalmerCan Gro really let me down? One of my most trusted brands when it comes to baby stuff I thought it seemed a bit far fetched but bought it to try anyway (there’s a reason there’s money in products that claim to help a baby stop crying)! I really like this little gadget, even if it is on the not-so-good list. It’s a hand held device with a soft cushion on one side that plays 3 different types of white noise; heart sounds, rain and waves. It is designed to be held against baby’s ear i.e. sound levels have been checked. It comes in a very useful little case so you can pop it in your bag. The instructions do say to continue regularly using at first to allow baby to get used to it but it didn’t really work for us. To be fair, my baby had pain so wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill unsettled, he actually needed medication so I would still suggest this product but wouldn’t necessarily recommend.
  2. Mothercare’s own brand spotty BABY BOUNCER chair. Husband bought this one due to the more upright position compared with other baby bouncer chairs but it was too small and so we only got about 3 months use out of it.

    The left picture is Mothercare’s own brand spotty chair compared with the Fisher Price chair on the right picture. It was only a tenner so good for the price but probably better off buying a bigger one to begin with.

  3. Large SWADDLE MUSLINS. These were a part of my TK Maxx shopping spree. I got them thinking they would be good to swaddle baby in the hotter summer months, being rather clever thinking ahead to his size, however, he just pulls them apart. They are very useful though after a bath for drying baby.
  4. MEDELA SWING ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP. Ooh controversial! I was a massive Medela fan until I tried the Ardo. It’s just more comfortable, quieter and I would totally recommend it.

Things I didn’t buy:

  1. DOUBLE PUMPING BRA I made my own one of these by cutting holes in an old sports bra and it worked a treat! Double pumping every 3hrs round the clock went from being a hassle to time for a cuppa and texting marathon. I measured up by eye whereabouts the funnels would go, marked with a sharpie and cut. No hemming and it held in place brilliantly.
  2. A new PRAM. Don’t get sucked into it! The amount of times I’ve seen a mum at soft play wince every time a sticky toddler runs past the limited edition print of the new pram. It’s just not worth it. I chose to buy 2nd hand from a friend and it’s fab. Babba has hardly used it as he is generally carried anyway.
  3. ELECTRIC STERILISER another pretty non essential item in the early days if you are breastfeeding due to the lack of use it will probably get. I have a cold water steriliser which works well and sterilises in 15mins with the milton solution. I’ve never personally used an electric one and would think it’s probably more to do with personal preference. There’s always the old boil in a pan of water technique to make one less baby item to buy.

Hope this helps you not buy most things twice like we have along the way! Have you bought any of these things for your baby? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Vegan Supper Club

A review post of Nourish Supper Club.

Last night I went all Gwyneth Paltrow and ate an entirely plant-based meal.

 

I went along to a Supper Club in a community cafe in Caerphilly (I just tried to spell that phonetically and really can’t, google Caerphilly castle-it’s impressive). The venue was the former town library which was upgraded and relocated and now it is used as a community cafe which is also hired out. Which I thought was a really fab idea. I went along with my friend from church whose daughter & friend are the genius chef/creator people behind it. It’s called Nourish Supper Club and has been a sell out success. A superb 3 course meal with no gluten, dairy or grains, using all fresh seasonal ingredients all for £23 per person. Deal. Considering I’d had McDonald’s for lunch I was excited at the prospect of some real food.

“…organic produce direct from local farms…”

 

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Sweet Green Juice – parsley, lettuce, spinach, celery & apple.

 

So not knowing what to expect at all I was pleasantly surprised when we went in to be greeted with a restaurant set up. We were shown to our table which had our places set out and the menu on the table and a flower centrepiece. Our hostess said we had an extra seat in case I needed room for the baby which was really thoughtful and I just loved that. I had actually managed to get a night off but there were other babba’s brought along which was great. There was definitely a lovely ambience created, with lovely mellow music playing. We had a quick gander at the menu and got on with the important business of having a good natter. We both had the sweet green juice which was lovely (you wouldn’t know there was no sugar in it).

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Soul soup & nettle pesto.

For starters we had soul soup. I am from this point forward going to call all soup I eat soul soup because I think it’s that great a description for soup. It was warm and green and I instantly assumed I knew how it would taste so I was surprised at the variety of flavour in it. There were at least 3 different levels of flavour. The pesto was really earthy and full. I’ve never had fresh pesto before so that was a treat for me and the raw dehydrated pumpkin and sesame seed crackers added that bit of texture. The info on the menu said the food is dehydrated at 42 degrees and this preserves the nutrients in the food.

 

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Summer Abundance Platter.

 

The main course was a Summer Abundance Platter which was a flatbread, 2 falafel, green salad, cucumber, tahini, and carrot hummus. The quality of the ingredients really shone through in this plate (the lettuce was honestly, really delicious) but what impressed me the most was the inventiveness of the dish overall. The cucumber was pickled which gave another tangent of flavour and it just wasn’t boring in the least. Already I was surprisingly full but had been looking forward to the pudding all week!

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Strawberry cheesecake with mascarpone cream and warm wild mint & rose tea.

 

I wasn’t disappointed in the pudding. With no added sugar or sweeteners I expected it to be a good imitation of a dessert but it was so much more than that. It was a gooey strawberry sweet loveliness in my dairy free mouth and I enjoyed every morsel. I think every table went a bit quiet on that course. Or perhaps I was just in my own world. Who knows. Anyway I liked the pudding the best.

We came home feeling full and relaxed and knowing each other just a little bit better and it was a really lovely evening. I felt like I had been privileged to have tried and been invited into a way of healthfulness I had never considered before (entirely plant based food) and it was nice for me to go out for a meal and not feel like the awkward customer “Is there milk in this?” . Ellie and Nicola worked really hard to serve everyone and made sure everyone enjoyed themselves and it worked so well. I will definitely be recommending Nourish Supper Club to people. If you know how to say Caerphilly because you live anywhere nearby you can find the Nourish Supper Club page on facebook if you would like to book in for the next one in September.

I’ve linked up with…

Cuddle Fairy