Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Baby Secrets Review

I am really excited to tell you about Baby Secrets, the seriously cute little baby doll collectables from Zapf Creation who have a very exciting secret to reveal. Zoey loves them and I can see why as they are just the kind of toy I would have wanted as a child. We were lucky enough to have been sent a selection of Baby Secrets single packs which have been the source of much excitement, especially when it came to revealing their secrets.



The Big Baby Secrets Reveal

These little baby collectables come with their own baby bath which you fill with water and then dip the baby in to reveal whether they are a boy or a girl by the colour their nappy changes to. Pink for girl and blue for a boy. Zoey couldn't wait to see the magic happen with her Baby Secret dolls, check out the clip below to see the first reveal and just how excited Zoey and her twin Zachary were throughout the whole process.



The colour does fade after a little while so you can refill the baby bath and reveal again and again. Zoey decided to take her babies into the bath last night and had lots of fun with them all.



Baby Secrets also comes with a birth certificate which you have to fill in with the baby's name, gender, date of birth and parent's name. This is a really nice touch as it lets your child personalise their new arrival, Zoey and her brothers had a lot of fun coming up with names for her babies. Filling in the certificate was also great writing, spelling and phonics practice for Zoey who carefully sounded out all the words and wrote them as neatly as she could.

Get Collecting

Baby Secrets are available to purchase from the usual toy retailers including Smyths Toys and Argos. Prices start at £2.99 for a single pack which includes a baby, bath, birth certificate and collectors guide so makes a perfect pocket money toy for fans. There are fifty little babies to collect which are divided into Common, Rare, Ultra-Rare and Limited Edition groups.


All the babies have different and exciting characters with big personalities which range from painter baby complete with a paintbrush to party baby with a sash and a party hat and the Limited Edition Furry hat baby which Zoey is desperate to get her hands on.

Our Verdict

We love Baby Secrets, the surprise element is fun and the babies and baths themselves are well made and of good quality. They are a nice size for popping in a bag or pocket when out and about without being too small that you risk losing them in the car or down the back of a sofa which happens quite a lot with my kids' toys. Zoey's Baby Secrets have already been on a lot of adventures with her and I am sure there are much more to come especially as her collection grows. 

*Disclaimer: I received a selection of Baby Secrets dolls in exchange for a review. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased.

Monday, 19 February 2018

SMASHERS Review, Rebuild & Giveaway

Throw! Smash! Surprise! - that's what Smashers from Zuru, the newest collectables to hit the stores is all about. My three love the little red Smashballs that each contains one of over a hundred wacky sports characters inside. We were lucky enough to have been sent this selection of Smashers to review and the excitement when the kids set sight on them was immense.


We were sent Team Bus which includes two limited edition Smashers along with a Smashers Sports Triple pack and single pack.



What are Smashers

Smashers are basically a plastic ball, made up of six pieces that slot together which you have to physically ‘smash’ to get to the sports-themed collectable character inside.


The “shattered” ball then doubles up as a bit of a puzzle as kids (or their parents) try to put it back together into a ball.

Meet Champ Gold Trophy, Zachary's very special Ultra Rare Smasher

Be warned though there is a knack to getting the ball back to its original shape. It took me a while to figure it out and the kids have yet to get to grips with it so needless to say they have been keeping me busy reassembling them. My top tip is to start and end with a piece that has the Smashers logo on it. I put together a quick how-to rebuild video which will hopefully help.



I do love the fact that they are more than just a collectable though and there is the added challenge of the puzzle ball. It is quite satisfying once you figure it out, I just need to get the kids to start doing the rebuild for themselves now.




The SMASHERS Range 

There are different types of Smashers including Game Changers, Ball Stars, Bad Sports, Not So Fast Food, Limited Edition, Hard Hitters, Team X-Treme, Super Rare and Smash Gear. Zachary started off well with a Super Rare Champ - Gold Trophy Smasher in his first one. The excitement was immense.


The Smashers Football Team Bus has gone down a storm here. It opens up into a smashers football field which allows you to shoot Smashers at the goal. The boys, in particular, have been spending a lot of time playing with this. As a parent who spends a lot of time picking up toys and finding safe places to store them so they don't get eaten by the dog or vacuum cleaner, this is a very useful toy as the kids can keep up to 50 of their Smashers safely contained inside it when not in use.


SMASHERS Online

The fun doesn't stop once you smash the ball though as there is a whole Smashers World online to explore which is packed full of information on all the Smashers, downloadable posters and colouring sheets, activities including Create your own License and more. There is also a YouTube channel and an app to download along with a Smashers World Facebook page so plenty of fun to be had for Smashers fans.

Where to Buy

The Smashers range is available to buy from all the usual toy retailers including ArgosThe Entertainer and Smyths Toys. With prices starting at £1.99 for the Smashers Sports Single pack they make a great pocket money toy.

Giveaway Time!

The good news is I have an awesome SMASHERS giveaway, the prize includes a Smashers 8pk worth £9.99 and a Smashers Football Tin worth £7.99.


Entry is easy, just follow the instructions below. Giveaway ends on the 5th March at 12am. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Hello Canvas HD Metal Review

Like most people these days I have thousands of fabulous photo memories captured in digital format that I keep meaning to turn into physical prints to hang on the wall. Therefore I was super excited when Hello Canvas contacted asked if I would be interested in doing a review. Hello Canvas are the largest website for canvas prints in the UK and offer a number of different products including Canvas Print, HD Metal Print, Photo on Wood, Floating Frame, Phone Case and more.

Picking the Product & Picture

When it came to picking my product of choice I narrowed it down to the Photo on Wood and HD Metal Print options. To help me decide between the two I headed over to the Hello Canvas site, selected the product and used the Create functionality to upload a photo and get a preview of what the end result would look like. This is a really useful tool which also allows you to specify the size, orientation, colour effects and filters along with giving you the option to zoom in or out so you can get your picture just how you want it.



In the end I opted for a Metal HD Print, which perfectly suits the modern look and feel of our lounge with it's crisp, sharp colours that really bring a picture to life. I spent quite a bit of time choosing my photo, previewing various ones on the site before eventually settling on a favourite from our visit to Walt Disney World in Florida last summer. It now hangs in our lounge and makes me smile every time I look at it.


What is a HD Metal Print

HD Metal consists of a thin aluminium plate with a special coating on top. A unique technique is used to apply the photo or image onto it which results in a razor-sharp, ultra strong photo quality. In fact HD Metal is what top photographers and galleries use for their prints. I was also interested to learn that the material is scratch-resistant and waterproof so can be used outdoor too.

There are two different finishes to choose from, high-gloss and matt. The high-gloss version is the successor of plexiglass prints however it is lighter, stronger, cheaper and has vibrant colours while the matt version is the successor for dibond, aluminium and forex prints. We opted for the matt finish as I planned on hanging it by a window so didn't want too much reflection which I felt the gloss may have.

Hanging is simple as the HD Metal comes with a free hanging system and spacer for the wall so it goes up quickly and easily.



I love the spacer which makes the print stand out from the wall and casts a shadow below it which really adds to the overall effect.


The smaller sizes have an option to choose a table stand rather than a wall hanger if preferred. 



Ordering is Easy

The Hello Canvas site is really easy to use which makes ordering a very easy process. Delivery is quick, standard delivery is within 4 working days of payment and there is also an option to select express delivery at an extra cost. The print arrived very well packaged and marked fragile so there is no need to worry about the risk of damaged while it is en route to you. 

My Verdict

I love my HD Metal Print and I am already looking through my photos to pick the next one. I quite like the idea of getting a Photo on Wood of my three children, I just need to sift through the millions of photos of them first. 

The quality of the print I received speaks for itself, it is a great price and you can be confident that you will get a wonderful product which will take pride of place on your wall. 

*Disclaimer: I received a HD Metal Print for review. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dairy Free Chicken & Mushroom Puff Pie

If you are looking for a dairy free chicken and mushroom pie that is still creamy and full of flavour, then I have just the recipe for you. I made this as a special treat for my hubby's birthday dinner last night and it went down a storm with everyone including my occasionally fussy kids who cleared their plates in record time. I have a feeling I will be getting requests for this one again.

Dairy Free Chicken & Mushroom Puff Pie



Ingredients: 
4 Chicken Breasts chopped into bitesize pieces
Pack of Smoked Back Bacon (7 slices) 
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 leak trimmed and sliced in rings (could use an onion if preferred)
8 mushrooms sliced (add more or less depending on taste)
thyme
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml chicken stock (I use 2 oxo cubes to make up my stock)
200ml soya milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
500g puff pastry (I used a ready rolled sheet)
1 egg, beaten

Method:
1. Heat oil in frying pan and add chicken. Cook until golden and then remove from pan and set aside. 
2. Cut up bacon slices into bitesize pieces and fry up in pan until crisp. Add the mushrooms, leeks and thyme and fry on a high heat for 3-5 minutes until the leek starts to soften and colour. 
3. Tip the flour into the pan and stir for a minute coating the bacon and veg. Remove from heat, gradually stir or whisk in the stock followed by the milk and then add the chicken back in. 
4. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 30 mins. 
5. Transfer into a pie dish and allow to cool. You can also make the pie contents up in advance and store in a bowl or container covered with cling film in the fridge until ready to assemble your pie. 
6. Preheat the oven at 220C / 200C fan or gas mark 7. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface. Cut strips the width of your pie rim. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the beaten egg around the rim of the pie to fix the pastry and then place the pastry strips around the rim. Brush this pastry with egg before carefully laying the rest of the pastry over the top of the pie. Top tip is to roll the pastry around a rolling pin and then unrolling it over the top of your pie. Cut off the excess pastry and then make indents the whole way around the edge of the pie with your thumb while scoring with a knife between each indent. You can use the excess pastry to decorate your pie or let the kids get creative and have some fun personalising it. Brush with the beaten egg and with a sharp knife cut a criss-cross vent in the centre of the pie. 
7. Bake in the oven for 30mins or until the pastry has turned a dark golden brown and has risen. 
8. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetable side, we opted for green beans with some extra chicken gravy. Yummy Scrummy! 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Earl of Sandwich Disneyland Paris

Set in an awesome location in Disney Village, next to the PanoraMagique on the lake with spectacular views is the wonderful Earl of Sandwich Disneyland Paris. We visited it for lunch during our trip before Christmas and I was massively impressed. It has both indoor and outdoor dining and is the perfect place to refuel and relax while visiting the parks. The food is fantastic, nutritious and tasty with a wonderful selection that will please all appetites, big and small.



The Sandwich Charter

There is an interesting story behind the restaurants name, The Earl of Sandwich, which explains the origin of one of the worlds most famous dishes. In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, invented the meal that changed dining forever. As the story goes, he was playing cards and did not want to leave the gaming table to eat. He asked for a serving of roast beef to be placed between two slices of bread so he could eat with his hands. Thus, the Sandwich was born. I love how they honour this with a picture of the Earl and the Sandwich Charter hanging on the wall in the restaurant.



The Menu

The menu at Earl of Sandwich will definitely not disappoint, it serves up freshly-baked, artisan bread and the finest ingredients for its hot sandwiches, hand-tossed salads and wraps, and delicious desserts. It is also the perfect place to head to for breakfast before you hit the park which it serves until 11am daily with a variety of breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit yogurt parfaits and muffins on offer.


Ordering is Easy

The ordering process is painless with easy to read menu boards displaying all options available unlike some places that have limited options on display and a small amount of full menu cards available to peruse.


Everything looked and sounded so delicious it was hard to choose but in the end we opted for hotdogs for the kids, a Double Cannonball Sandwich for Chris, a Thai Chicken Salad for me and a selection of delicious desserts. You can double up on any of the sandwiches, so perfect for those who have built up an appetite at the parks.



I have a dairy allergy which I mentioned while ordering and this was dealt with without fuss by the cashier who immediately checked the salad's ingredients lists, confirmed my selection didn't contain dairy but rather than hand me a ready made one, took the extra step to ensure there had been no cross contamination and requested a fresh salad was made by the kitchen which I really appreciated. As it was a special allergy request we were given a buzzer to alert us when the food was ready but this didn't take long.

Bon App├ętit

We couldn't wait to dig in when the food arrived, the hot sandwiches were wrapped in foil to keep them warm and my salad was marked allergy so points immediately for packing. 


My Thai Salad with it's fresh field greens, grilled chicken, Chinese cabbage mix, sweet chilli sauce, wonton strips and a Thai peanut dressing was my favourite meal all trip. I loved the chilli heat and wonton croutons, as did the kids who are far too good at stealing my food.



The Double Cannonball Sandwich was a big hit with Chris with it's seriously meaty meatballs, there is no arguing how yummilicious this looked.


The kids loved their hotdogs and couldn't wait to get started on their desserts including a chocolate  pudding, brownie pudding and a fruit cup.


The desserts looked amazing and were given a massive thumbs up from my three who thoroughly enjoyed every last bite.



Our Verdict

The quality of food on offer in Earl of Sandwich speaks for itself with lots of choice available, the location is fantastic and the restaurant itself is well laid out with plenty of seating and I bet the outdoors area is awesome in the warmer weather when you can dine al fresco. The ordering process was straightforward and the staff dealt really well with my allergy requirement. All five of us loved our food and would return again without hesitation. A special mention to the staff as well who were friendly and helpful. 

The Earl of Sandwich is open daily from 8.30am - 11.30pm, check out the menu here. If you are heading to Disneyland Paris make sure you pop in, you won't be disappointed I promise.