Month: September 2016

Laughing and Learning with LeapFrog

I love a good toy- (even the noisy ones!) and was recently asked if I would like to try out some new LeapFrog ones with the kids. Now with Billy being only 7 months, we hadn’t really thought about buying him any toys just yet as I remember going slightly overboard when Violet was that age and can still picture the confused look on her little face as if to say “What on earth am I supposed to do with these woman?!” I really went THAT overboard and was clearly buying the wrong ones for her because Billy hasn’t stopped playing with this one toy since the day it arrived!

Scout

Scout’s Count & Colours Band

This is the one I was sent for Billy. How cute is the little dog Scout?! It’s aimed at ages 6-24 months and the curriculum taught from the toy is counting, as you can see by the numbers on each instrument. Obviously Billy is a little bit young to be learning to count yet but I love that he will grow up playing with this toy, not even realising that he’ll be learning and most likely counting to 5 in no time!

“Rock out with piano-pup Scout, and get jamming on skills like cause and effect, counting, colours and more.”

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As soon as Billy saw the toy he grabbed for it, obviously those bright colours were all too tempting for him. As soon as I switched it on and the music began to play that was it, he was hooked. He couldn’t sit up on his own quite steady enough then so liked to have it on his lap in the bouncy chair and constantly played with all of the buttons to try to figure out what to do to make the music start again- don’t worry though as theirs a button to turn the volume down! You can also choose between three different modes, music, colours or numbers. On the music one you can press the different instruments to find out what they are and what they sound like as well as playing along to different tunes. On the colour mode it tells you the colour of each instrument depending on the one you press and on the number mode it tells you which number is written on the top of each instrument depending on which one you press. I think this is fantastic as the toy will last years and will help Billy to learn his colours and numbers whilst he is playing. We’ve had this for around 4 weeks now and it’s the first toy he grabs, especially as he’s now sitting up on his own. Violet enjoys sitting playing with it too when Billy’s not looking!

Melody The Musical Turtle

Melody the Musical Turtle™

This is the one we were sent for Violet. It’s aimed at ages 2-5 years and again the curriculum taught from the toy is counting. It’s also a fantastic one to help your little one learn the colours.

“Race the music to find numbers and colours, repeat patterns and create turtle-rific tunes in 10 snappy, light-up activities.”

This one is absolutely perfect for Violet. She may only be two but she already knows her numbers and colours and can often get a bit bored of the usual games played to help her remember these. Melody however is totally different; again there are 3 different settings to choose from and the first is music. You can choose how many players are taking part and then you have to follow the colours by pressing each one which lights up as quickly as possible to find out the song behind the pattern. It will then play the song and finish by your little one having to press all of the lit up buttons as quickly as possible to switch them all off. The next one is a challenge setting in which you again select the number of players and then play a memory game by following the pattern of lights and remembering which number was lit up. This one’s a bit tricky for Violet just yet but this means the toy will last her a long time! The last setting is numbers. Again you choose the number of players and then find the number or colour Melody tells you to find and press it as quickly as possible. It’s very exciting for a toddler!

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I really do think that both of these toys from LeapFrog are fantastic and perfect for my two. I love that they will grow with these toys are learn more and more from them as they get older. Now I need to have a look at the rest of the range for Christmas!! 🙂

Have you tried any LeapFrog products for your children before? What do you think of them?

Mother Hermit xx

I was very kindly sent these two toys for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are that of my own.

Heading Back to Work

When I went on maternity leave with my daughter I had every intention of returning to work part time after I’d spent a good nine to twelve months off with my baby. Having spent those first few months together, practically just my daughter and I alone every day, the idea of going back to work just didn’t appeal to me at all and quite honestly started to get me really down. I decided to forget all about it for a couple more months and told work that I’d be taking the full twelve months leave I was entitled to. As I spent more and more time with my daughter, watching her grow into the beautiful little character she was becoming, work became even further from my mind.

After having a good conversation with my partner and working out our finances, both if I returned part time and if I didn’t return at all, it turned out that after travel and childcare costs, working at that time just wouldn’t be worth it. The thought of working to pay for childcare, someone else spending all of that time with my child and the thought that I might miss important milestones in her life, just didn’t sit well with me at all. So the decision was made and although we would probably struggle financially some months, I handed my notice in to terminate my working contract altogether.

Now, I don’t think in any way at all deciding to be a full time, stay at home mother is an easy option. I’ve seen a lot of people spout their opinions on social media that being a stay at home parent is ‘lazy’ and how people just do it for benefits. I understand that sometimes this can be the case but not always and it’s unfair to be judged like that. We weren’t entitled to any benefits at all because my partner had a wage which was ‘adequate’ in the eyes of the benefit system, to cover the three of us. Lazy though? Really? Whenever anyone has the audacity to ask me “What do you do all day?!” I like to answer by simply sticking two fingers up in their face. They’ve clearly not spent an hour with a toddler in full tantrum mode, never mind a day! Some days are harder than others and when I think of my old job sometimes I’d prefer to be back there in the office talking to angry customers than feeling the wrath of my toddler in said full tantrum mode!

By the time my daughter was sixteen months old I began toying with the idea of looking for part time work to enable me to have a few hours out of the house child free, having something for myself and to help contribute to the household income to take a little pressure off my partner. Typically, when I had decided to go for it and apply, I found out that I was pregnant again with baby number two, our son, and work was once again the last thing on my mind as I focussed on raising my daughter, preparing her for being a big sister and enjoying my pregnancy!

Now my son is six months old and my partner has the flexibility to work from home, it made sense to start looking again, especially to get some pennies in for, dare I say it, Christmas! On a usual weekly trip to our local supermarket a couple of weeks ago I noticed a sign advertising numerous part time opportunities and I decided to go for it! Being called for an interview was a bit of a shock if I’m honest, even though I’d applied I wasn’t expecting to be asked in, but the interview itself was a bit of a breeze. I’ve never been so relaxed for a job interview and the hour of adult conversation without my kids being involved was amazing and I actually enjoyed it- even though I was being interviewed for a job! I walked home afterwards and didn’t get very far before I received a phone call offering me the job- hurrah indeed!

I haven’t started yet and have a few more days before training but I’m excited, which kind of makes me feel a bit bad. It’s not that I’m looking forward to having the time away from my kids- okay well maybe a little- but the feeling of having something for me, being able to do four 4 hour shifts each week where I’m known as Vanessa and not Mama is quite appealing to me. I’m sure my kids won’t mind too much when it comes to the bit of extra money I’ll have to spend on them anyway!

Mother Hermit xx

This post first appeared on www.meetothermums.com

My Autumn Kitchen Wishlist

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ve probably realised by now that I’m a massive lover of cooking and eating food. I’m also a huge fan of gadgets and as my kitchen is my favourite room in the house I love to buy new bits and pieces and gadgets for it and being a busy mammy I want things that will make the food-prep routine just that bit easier! Recently I’ve found loads of new things I’d like to try and as the dark nights are drawing in and the casserole and soup season is creeping up I thought I’d put together a wishlist of what I’m after- well wishing for! (Massive hints if the other half is reading this!)

Joseph Joseph Dot Water Bottle

Joseph Joseph Dot Hydration-Tracking Water Bottle, 600 ml - Green
Image Taken from Joseph Joseph website

Okay so this first one isn’t exactly a ‘cooking gadget’ but it is an amazing gadget. I’m in love with all things Joseph Joseph so it’s difficult to choose just one thing but when I noticed this one I fell in love all over again! As I’ve just returned from my holidays (about 3stone heavier) I’m wanting to get back into the healthy lifestyle, eating better, exercising more and the all important making sure I drink enough water each day. I’m totally rubbish at this part. I always lose track of how much I’ve drank and usually don’t drink enough. This Dot Water Bottle has a hydration counting lid which enables you to keep track of your daily hydration goals as it displays a new dot every time you refill so you can keep track of how much you’ve drank. Pretty amazing right? And what’s even better is that is comes in 4 gorgeous colours and only costs £10.00! I NEED one! You can grab yours here.

Kitchen Craft Cast Iron Book Stand (Lakeland)

Kitchen Craft Cast Iron Book Stand
Image Taken from http://www.lakeland.co.uk/

I’ve been looking for a kitchen book stand for months and haven’t actually found one that I knew for sure I wanted until I came across this gorgeous cast iron one in Lakeland last week. I absolutely love to cook but I don’t usually follow recipes, I alter everything- except my Mam’s recipes. This would be perfect in my kitchen so I could stand all of my Mam’s old recipe books on whilst I’m cooking. As all of her recipes were handwritten I’m usually too scared to have them out incase I ruin them by splashing ingredients all over them. This one is £24.99 too which I think is a total bargain- you can find it here.

Panasonic Combination Microwave

Microwave Oven NN-DS596B
Image Taken from Panasonic Website

Okay, why do I not already have one of these?! These little beauties really are the future. As I mentioned before I’ll be starting my healthy eating from next week and these combination microwaves would be absolutely perfect to accompany me on that journey!

“Experience fresh gourmet meals with minimal effort thanks to the Panasonic Steam Combination Oven. The oven boasts Turbo Steam, a healthy way to cook food while preserving vitamins, and Panacrunch which evenly cooks food to perfection, making it perfect for low-fat grilling. Cooking fresh and healthy food has never been so simple.”

You can understand from this quote taken from the Panasonic website why I need one of these, yes? It sounds amazing and they look gorgeous, it would fit in my kitchen perfectly. The turbo steam technology sounds fantastic as I always steam my vegetables but can sometimes forget about them and steam them just a bit too much. Not only does that result in me eating mushy veg for me dinner (great for the baby who’s currently weaning, not so great for me- I have teeth), but it also worries me that all of the goodness has been sucked out of it by that point. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of Panacrunch but it sounds good doesn’t it? Obviously you don’t have to be on any kind of diet to have one of these beauts in your kitchen but knowing that you can cook a meal without all of the usual unhealthy cooking methods being involved is brilliant, especially as a mother, it would give me that bit extra peace of mind knowing how healthily (and quickly!) their dinner has been prepared. You can find all of the Panasonic Combination Microwaves here.

Morphy Richards (48280) Fastbake Breadmaker

Image Taken from Amazon.co.uk

Now I had a breadmaker years and years ago when I was around 18 or 19 and moved out for the first time. Obviously making bread wasn’t really what I had on my mind at that time so it never got used and eventually got thrown away. I try not to eat too much bread these days as it all sits around my middle- but I’m just too addicted and have to give in to a slice or two every now and again. My Mam has always been amazing at making bread and bread loaves and I’m now starting to get the itch for it. Memories of waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh bread, I want those memories for my kids too. This one came up on my recommended items whilst I was browsing on Amazon.co.uk. I was surprised to see that it can bake a loaf of bread in under 1 hour which is a bonus for busy parents and it’s only £59.28 on Amazon at the moment instead of £119.99! You can find it here.

Tefal Easy Soup Maker (Lakeland)

Tefal® Easy Soup Maker
Image Taken from Lakeland Website

Another one I found on Lakeland is the Tefal Easy Soup Maker. I have an addiction to soup, honestly, it can be the hottest day of the year and at the end of the day all I’ll want to do is snuggle in front of the television with a mug of hot soup- homemade is best. Which is why I totally NEED this soup maker. I love to make soup from scratch but I always end up making a huge pan of it and no one else eats it so I have to freeze it all then eventually throw it away when Gareth buys a pizza which is the size of the moon and we need to make more room in the freezer! That’s why this one is totally perfect as all you need to do is chop your ingredients, fill the maker, choose the settings you wish (chunky, smooth etc) and then set it away. You then have soup and according to the reviews I’ve read this will make about 2 decent sized mug fulls- couldn’t be more perfect for me, especially with the autumn coming. Another bonus is it’s only £52.39 and you can find it on Lakeland here.

So there you have it, that’s my kitchen wishlist for autumn- I could go on forever but I’ll leave it at those 5 for now 🙂

Mother Hermit xx

 

*This is a collaborative post*

 

 

 

 

 

GroCycle; GroKids Pack Review

Getting your kids to eat vegetables can be rather impossible sometimes- for some anyway. I appear to have a rather strange toddler who would choose veg and salad over sweets and chips any day; can’t complain really though! I eat loads of fruit and vegetables so this helps massively- your kids like to eat what you eat- but I also think that having an allotment, seeing everything grow from scratch and having Grandad pop in every week with bags and bags of fresh produce from said allotment helps massively in encouraging Violet to eat these kinds of things. Obviously not everyone has an allotment or has the room to grow their own fruit and veg in their gardens at home though, and this is exactly why I thought that the GroCycle GroKids pack sounded like an amazing idea and I just had to try it out!

The GroCycle Grokids pack is a full kit which enables you and your little ones to grow your own Oyster Mushrooms on your kitchen windowsill! The grow kit contains the coffee waste of 100 cups of coffee which is the food to help your mushrooms grow- how amazing is that?! The booklet included has full instructions on how to get started, fun facts and puzzles and a recipe for you to try with the pack of dried mushrooms which are enclosed for you to get cooking straight away.

Violet was happy enough to do the colouring and puzzles within the booklet but as she’s only two, she had no idea why I was trying to encourage her to look in ‘a bag of mud’ as she put it LOL, so I got to the growing on my own! First I had to cut out the panel on the front of the box, cut a cross in the front of the plastic bag and then leave it to soak in a bowl of water overnight. As you can see by the photo I had to weigh it down as it was floating around at the top.

The next day I took the bag out of the water, left it for a few minutes to drain and then returned it to the box and stood it on our kitchen windowsill. Now for the waiting. I have no patience at all and Violet’s is even worse- they didn’t automatically shoot out as she’d expected so apart from the twice daily water spray they needed, the mushrooms were forgotten about.

You don’t really need much patience for this grow kit though! Every morning it became a daily thing to check on the mushrooms and how well they had grown overnight. Violet was amazed to see the changes everyday and after a few days you could see the growth taking place. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen by day 7 the mushrooms had started to stage a takeover!

Day 7

After day 7 it all got a bit crazy! Everytime we went into the kitchen they had grown even more. There seemed to be more mushrooms coming and they were just getting bigger and bigger. After a few days they were massive and it looked like the box was about to topple over- that was it- time to harvest! Violet couldn’t wait to eat some and we ended up using them all pretty quickly by putting them into all our meals- her favourite was definitely the bolognese we made with them.

Hang on though, that’s not the end, as once you’ve harvested your first crop, you can leave the kit for 2 weeks and then soak the bag overnight and start again for another mushroom load! Have a look on their Facebook and Twitter and you can see how others have been getting on with their packs!

You can now purchase a GroKids pack from the GroCycle website here. They are £19 each which in all honesty I feel is a bit on the expensive side for my little one as she is only two and didn’t really understand it, although she did enjoy watching them grow. However for older children (and adults- I loved it!) I feel that this is definitely worth the money as they can learn so much from it and get around 2-3 harvests from the kit.

Happy Growing!

Mother Hermit xx