We bought Violet a Baby Annabell doll for her Birthday in January and she absolutely loves her. I think she’s still a bit young for the whole ‘Mam’s & Dad’s’ imaginative role play yet, but she loves to take care of her dolly.
After the first few days of playing with Baby Annabell, Violet started asking for accessories for her. Mama, where’s her dress? Where’s her hair band? Where’s her potty? So I was over the moon when I was asked if I’d like to try out and review some of the brand new accessory range for Baby Annabell.
I chose the potty training set as I thought this would be the best option for Violet; and I was right!
The RRP of the set is £12.99 (doll sold separately) and it comes with a cute little pink potty and some other ‘pretendy’ accessories including powder bottle, wipes and nappies.
As soon as it was opened, Violet undressed baby Annabell with some urgency shouting “Don’t wee in your knickers Annabell!”. She then plonked her on the potty and told her to get to it! I showed Violet that Baby Annabell will wee if you press the button (heart) on her tummy and sure enough the water she had just taken from her bottle came trickling out into the potty!
Violet absolutely loves playing with this and it makes a great addition to the Annabell collection we will no doubt be collecting over the years to come. I love how much she’s now starting to use her imagination whilst playing on her own- I’m not so sure she’ll have this much interest in potty training once her brother starts later in the year though!
Does your little one have a favourite dolly?
Mother Hermit xx
‘We were sent the Baby Annabell Potty Training Set in exchange for this review. All photo’s, views and opinions are that of my own’
Well this is a slightly different one for me as we were sent something to review for our two pooches; Lola & Lily! I can’t tell you how excited they were when I told them! I really can’t, I don’t speak yappy dog language sober!
Anyway, we were sent an awesome Pawsomebox (see what I did there?!) in December but unfortunately both ladies have been a bit poorly at different times, and a bit naughty ( I had to get a professional carpet booked in, that’s all I’m saying!), so I hid the box from them for a while. As things are settling down slightly I decided to bring it out and see what they thought.
How Does It Work?
Firstly you complete a full profile on your pet, what size they are, whether they have long or short hair, how old they are, that kind of thing, so the guys at Pawsomebox can pick the best suited treats and toys etc. for your lovable pooch.
Secondly you choose which subscription plan you would prefer. They offer 12 months, 6 months, 3 months and 1 months subscriptions, all of which you can suspend at any time.
And that’s it.
What’s In The Box?
6 products suited to the answers you provided on your dog’s profile as well as a selection of delicious treats, toys, accessories and hygiene products.
This is what was in the box I received…
I have to say I was pretty impressed with the contents. You also get the ‘Paw Notes’ leaflet which is full of facts and stories for you to have a read of. This one even has a recipe and instructions to make your own salt dough Christmas decorations using your pets paws!
Festive Poop Bags
3 Packs of Different Treats
Our Lily and Lola have never really been a fan of toys since they were pups so they weren’t too impressed by them. Apart from a few sniffs they wouldn’t go anywhere near them so they’ve ended up the kids toys now- great eh? More noisy toys! They weren’t so fussy with the treats though. Their favourites are definitely the Trixie Rice Balls!
I love the idea of Pawsomebox as there are so many different subscription boxes available these days, it’s nice to have one for our pets too!
We love to take our own snacks for the kids when we go out and about and are always looking for alternatives to our usual tupperware in a carrier bag so when I was asked to review the Bibetta Lunch Bags I couldn’t refuse.
The lunch bags are made from neoprene which ensures that the contents stay at the right temperature and they’re also stretchy so you can fit allsorts in. They come in four different colours and patterns, Turquoise Birds, Pink Butterflies, Green Owls and Blue Fish. I chose the pink one for Violet- she loves testing out products for me! The bag is much bigger than I was expecting and Violet has been testing it to the max by filling it with every toy she can find- it passed! The colour is beautiful, bright and bold and the butterfly pattern is really cute. There’s also a little butterfly name tag attached which makes it perfect if you’re going to take it anywhere it might get lost or mixed up with other bags. They can even be put in the washing machine which is an absolute bonus-well for me it is, Violet loves to be messy!
These lunch bags are usually £9.99 each however they are currently on sale for £4.99 which is a bargain. You can purchase them from the Bibetta website here and you can also like them on Facebook.
Mother Hermit xx
I was sent this lunch bag in exchange for this review. All views and opinions are that of my own.
It’s definitely true in my experience that after having kids date nights with your other half become a thing of the past. By the time it gets to the end of the day we’re both so tired I end up curling up with a glass of wine in front of a good box set and G sits on his PS4- that’s just our way of relaxing! We do try to make time for dates but as we’re so tired our planning doesn’t go very far and we end up sitting in front of the telly and most likely falling asleep. It’s nice when we do get to go out for a date but as our one babysitter is my younger sister we don’t like to ask her loads. So when I came across Just Us Box I had to see what it was all about.
“We are on a mission to help you disconnect from your screens and re-connect with your partner with a monthly date night subscription box so you can spend some quality time together… just us!”
Ok, how amazing does that sound?! So basically you get a ‘date night’ box sent to you monthly which includes everything you need to have the perfect date night with your special someone. And it really does include everything you need. I received the July box with the theme of ‘Let’s Go Stargazing’ which is the perfect date, especially for us busy parents, being able to have a nice date in your own home or back garden once the little ones are (finally!) in bed is just what we need.
The July box contains a large selection of things to make your date amazing- you can see everything in the photo below, hot chocolate with disposable cups, Haribo sweets, a small torch, UV nail polish, a creative pack to make ‘The Kepler Telescope’ and a picnic blanket. It also includes a ‘date plan’, a list of activities, an envelope of ‘Stargazing Challenges’ and a list of conversation starters. You’d think that the conversation starter list would only be useful for first dates and such but to be honest when G and I are alone without the kids these days we tend to really struggle to have any kind of conversation which isn’t about the kids- until we’re a wee bit tipsy that is! There’s even some suggestions of stargazing themed music for you to play whilst having your date.
We haven’t actually managed to use our Stargazing box yet as I want to be able to use it properly outside in the garden one night and the weather has been terrible with wind and rain recently so we’re saving it. But I think this is honestly an amazing idea and is totally perfect for me & G as now that we have two kids we’ve lost all sense of making time for ‘Just Us’ and it really is an important thing to do.
So Just Us Box is a monthly subscription and each month you will receive your date night box with a different theme. Each box then contains everything you need to create the perfect date and everything relates to the theme chosen. If you like the sound of it but you’re unsure of whether it’s something you would use every month, head on over to their website where you also have the option of ordering a ‘trial box’. This is exactly what you think, a one off box, which is smaller than a usual monthly one, for you to try out to see whether you like it or not and this costs just £18. I have a code for you to get 10% off at the checkout too which you’ll find below and the August box is ‘Indian Summer’ which you can order up until tomorrow- so get in quick!You can keep up with the Just Us team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram– keep an eye out for hints for the themes for the boxes in the coming months!
Mother Hermit xx
Have you tried something like this before? What do you think of it?
I was kindly sent this trial box for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are that of my own.
I’ve been looking forward to today for weeks, since I was asked by the guys at Thaikhun in the Metrocentre if I’d like to visit with my family to try out their new menu, specifically the new children’s menu. Obviously that was an easy yes, especially as the kids were invited too- although Billy at 5.5 months is a good eater, he’s not quite at the point where he’s interested too much in finger food but Violet has an amazing appetite and I knew she’d be perfect to give the new menu a go!
When we arrived we were shown straight to our booth and Violet was given crayons, a colouring page and a pot of vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrot and peppers) all within about 30 seconds- perfect start! The lovely lady then took our drinks order, gave us a menu each and explained the new children’s menu to us. She also informed us that each kids meal comes with a pot of creepy crawlies and asked if we wanted some for Violet! Obviously she was nodding her head and saying yes please before we’d even realised what the lady had said! Creepy crawlies? Like- to eat?! Yep. Pretty quickly our drinks were brought over along with a basket of prawn crackers and a sweet chilli dip and we were given a pot of the said crawlies which Violet wasn’t phased by in the slightest and as soon as I opened the pot she looked at me so innocently and said “Mama I eat them?”. She then went on to shovel them into her mouth and even started dipping her vegetable sticks into them- I was amazed at how adventurous my little madam was and I totally loved it! I had one too and they weren’t bad at all- but i’ll eat anything and have the nickname of ‘dustbin’ so don’t take my word for it.
We decided to go for a starter and a main because we’ve never really had thai food apart from the occasional red or green curry so we wanted to try a few savoury dishes. It took us a while to choose because everything sounds so good but G settled on Gai Satay to start (Grilled Chicken Skewers) followed by Khao Moo Daeng Moo Grob (Barbequed Pork on Rice) and I chose the Goong Choop Pang Tord (Tempura Prawns) followed by the Ped Phad Prik Pao (Roast Duck with Chilli Paste). On the children’s menu you can either choose from Phad Thai, Fried Chicken with Jasmine Rice or you can make your own dish by choosing either Jasmine Rice or Noodles with Grilled Chicken, Pork or Mixed Vegetables and then a sauce of no nuts Satay, sweet BBQ or a slightly spicy Green Curry. We chose noodles, grilled chicken and BBQ sauce for Violet. They also get a drink and a mini milk ice lolly included and we were given the option of when we would like her meal to come and as she was already preoccupied with creepy crawlies, vegetables and colouring we chose to have hers brought with our mains.
The restaurant itself is absolutely fantastic and is exactly how I would imagine an authentic eatery in Bangkok to look like. Once we’d placed our order we found ourselves just staring around taking the whole place in and we loved the open kitchen! From where we were sitting we could see straight into the kitchen area and see the chefs at work and the aromas really do make your mouth water.
It wasn’t long before our starters arrived and they were oh so good! The Tempura Prawns were huge, really meaty (as meaty as seafood can be!), fresh and delicious and the batter had the perfect crisp to it. Violet pinched one off me and I have to admit I was pretty gutted as I wanted to eat them all, but again it was lovely to see her be so adventurous with her food. G’s Chicken Skewers were gorgeous too, obviously I pinched a cheeky bite- the best part though was the Satay sauce- it was sooo tasty and had so much flavour, when they came to clear the plates we asked if we could keep the bowl on the table for the rest of the meal.
Again we didn’t have to wait long for our mains which as expected all looked and smelled amazing. Violet’s meal came on a tray, like a school dinner tray, with everything in separate parts, which is perfect for her as she likes to have everything like that rather than it already mixed together. She dug in rather quickly and by the time we had finished our mains had put a good dent in it and finally gave up with an exclamation of “Oh I really enjoyed that!”- high praise indeed. Obviously she managed to eat her strawberry mini milk though. G’s didn’t last long either, it was inhaled rather quickly as was mine. Everything was cooked beautifully, made with really fresh ingredients and the flavours were like nothing we’ve had before.
We were so stuffed by the end of it we couldn’t even contemplate having a dessert but we’re already planning on going back and we’ll have to try one. I can’t fault anything about our experience at Thaikhun today, the staff were all very friendly and the food was amazing, Violet absolutely loved it and even took her leftover creepy crawlies home for supper! This is totally somewhere you need to try with the kids!
Thanks for having us guys!
Mother Hermit xx
We were very kindly invited for this complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are that of my own.
Okay I’m guessing by now you get how much I LOVE food?! So imagine how excited I was to be invited to The Kingslodge Inn in Durham to try their new menu! Very excited. Another perfect excuse for a date night for me and G too so we headed over there with rumbling tummies on Wednesday evening.
The Kingslodge Inn is in Durham City Centre but you honestly wouldn’t think so as it’s hidden away in beautiful quiet woodland, yet it’s only a few minutes walk from the train station and shops. The building itself is so pretty, with outdoor seating and gardens all around the property and it also has quite a good size car park.
As soon as we walked through the entrance to the restaurant we were greeted by a lovely lady who took our names and then showed us to our table. Whilst we were settling in she gave us a menu, told us the specials for the day and explained that food and drink orders were to be ordered and paid for at the bar. The inside matches the outside perfectly. The decor is that of a traditional inn, with photographs of local landmarks making you feel very comfortable. I can only imagine how gorgeous the 23 rooms upstairs are.
The menu had me stumped. I couldn’t decide what I wanted because there was so much to choose from and everything sounded gorgeous. G went for the Black Pudding topped with Poached Egg, Bacon pieces and Peppercorn sauce to start and I chose the Portobello Mushrooms (stuffed with Blue cheese and bacon lardons). I have to say that the presentation of these starters was beautiful and not what we were expecting at all. The Portobello Mushrooms were cooked perfectly, smothered in melted blue cheese but not too much to overpower the flavour of the other elements and the bacon lardons added a crunch to the dish. With G’s starter, the Black pudding was delicious and he too loved the crunch of the crisp bacon pieces. The perfectly cooked, runny yolked poached egg and peppercorn sauce worked so well with the dish and the portions of both starters were very reasonable- they’d be perfect for a light lunch!
When it came to picking the mains it was an easy decision for G- The Kingslodge Burger. As I mentioned previously in my NinjaBurger post, he has to try the burgers wherever we go. I have to admit though that I was being a bit nosy whilst we were browsing the menu to choose (because I couldn’t decide!) and noticed that a gentleman at the table across from us had ordered The Kingslodge Curry of the day which was Thai Red and it looked incredible! It didn’t disappoint. The portion size was absolutely huge, my photo doesn’t do it justice, that bowl of curry was very deep! I’m not complaining at all because it was amazing, packed full of flavour, creamy and coconutty with just the right amount of kick. The chicken was succulent and the mixture of green vegetables were very fresh and crunchy and complimented the curry perfectly. The hand cut chips, rice and naan breads were all gorgeous too and were the perfect accompaniment to the dish. I couldn’t eat it all but I gave it a good go- to be fair there wasn’t much left, I’m not one for wasting food. G’s burger was inhaled rather quickly with nothing but good comments to follow. He said that the Aberdeen Angus steak mince was so tasty, the bun was really fresh and that the coleslaw was amazing. High praise indeed from the burger connoisseur himself.
Now by this point we were both ready to burst but the way the desserts were flying out of the kitchen we just had to try one. G opted for the Sticky Toffee Sundae- layers of Sticky Toffee Pudding, ice cream and topped off with Chantilly cream and a wafer. It looked incredible and didn’t last very long so that’s more praise from him. I opted for the Double Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream, which we were later told had just been made fresh that morning and oh you could tell. It was to die for. The brownie was served warm which made it even more gooey and the extra drizzle of chocolate sauce on top didn’t hurt. I took my time with it simply because it was so beautiful, it’s not something you can rush. Alongside the chocolatey goodness was the creamiest vanilla ice cream. It’s fair to say that there was nothing left of dessert!
This was a lovely date night for us in a beautiful place with incredible food and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to unbutton my jeans in the car on the way home because I was so full! We’re already planning to go back with our daughter as it’s a family friendly place and she needs to sample the children’s menu. It’s also dog friendly but there’s no way our Lola would sit quietly whilst we enjoyed a pint- she’s far too lively for that!
I honestly cannot fault The Kingslodge Inn at all, everything was perfect from the friendliness of the staff, the relaxing atmosphere and the perfect food. We can’t wait to go back and try some more dishes from the menu.
If you fancy a look too you can find their special offers on the website here.
Mother Hermit xx
We were invited along to The Kingslodge Inn for a complimentary three-course meal in return for this review. All views, opinions and photographs are that of my own.
Last night I was invited to the launch of Ninja Burger at late night bar No28 in Newcastle City Centre to test out their menu. Good excuse for a date night for me and G, so with the sister at home babysitting, we headed over to find out what it was all about.
We’ve never been to No28 before but we both fell in love with the place as soon as we went inside. Armed with our complimentary glass of fizz we took a seat and admired the place whilst we waited for the food to be dished up. The atmosphere of the bar is so relaxed and the decor is really quirky- we were sat next to a tree!
It wasn’t long before the first batch of sliders were revealed and they looked amazing! The thing about Ninja Burger is that they use fantastic local ingredients- the beef is prepared by Charlotte’s Butchery in Gosforth and the butter enriched Brioche buns are from the Geordie Bakers in Kingston Park. The burgers are cooked ‘sous vide’ (under pressure) where they are placed in a water bath for 95 hours or more (crazy right?!) at a regulated temperature of 55.6 degrees and the chicken is brined for that extra succulence and marinated in buttermilk and fried in popcorn crust. I kid you not- actual popcorn crust!
Now as far as cooking methods go, they clearly have it down to a tee because what we tasted was absolute PERFECTION. Everytime we go out for food G is guaranteed to get a burger but after sampling the sliders, and a full size one once all the photo’s had been snapped by everyone, he declared that these were the best burgers he’d ever tasted. I have to agree. The beef was ridiculously tender and juicy and packed full of flavour and the sauces, especially the mustard, worked so well and complimented it perfectly. The Brioche buns were so fresh too, no microwaved rubbish like you get elsewhere!
The chicken was just as succulent as the beef which we were really surprised at because we both usually find chicken burgers to be quite dry. As you can see by the photo’s I wasn’t lying about the popcorn coating- it was so so good and again works ridiculously well, giving the burger just the right amount of crunch.
After our menu tasting and a few glasses of fizz we had a bit of entertainment in the form of eating challenges. The first one was a heat challenge made up of chicken goujons laced with Ghost Chilli’s but none of the lads seemed too bothered by it- not even the chilli shot they were given at the end! The second challenge was to see who could eat the most full size burgers within 3 minutes (ended up being 4 because everyone was too busy watching the lads struggle!). I have to give a shout to the bloke with the microphone though- he totally made the entertainment and had everyone laughing.
Ninja Burger will have a permanent home at No28 and also cater for events and local pop-ups. As you can see by the photo above there are also options on the menu to suit vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. It was a great night and we thoroughly enjoyed it- perfect date night for us! We will be back for Ninja Burgers and drinks at this fantastic venue- I can’t wait to try the Dirty Fries!
Cake! Since being pregnant with my son I seem to have developed some kind of obsession with all things cake! So when the guys at BakerDays tweeted me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their Letterbox cakes, I clearly said yes! Come on, who’d say no to cake?!
The following week I received my cake through the post and I have to admit that I got a tad excited! It literally is a ‘letterbox cake’ because it’s just 5″ diameter, it fits perfectly through the letterbox! I actually had company at the time so I hid the box- no way was I sharing my cake! When I managed to get rid of the company I opened the box to find a gorgeous little tin (keeps the cake from being damaged as well as a nice little tin to keep), card and even a party horn, balloons and candles- very nice touch indeed. You could smell the utter sweetness of the cake through the tin, I was literally drooling a bit by this point and I hadn’t even opened it!
Upon opening I was greeted with this beautiful little cake! It’s really easy to remove it from the tin too as there’s a paper tab to pull up to help gently lift the cake out in one piece. I was really impressed with the design too- I went for a ‘Keep Calm’ motto as we didn’t have any special occasions coming up and I really liked this one. There are absolutely loads of designs you can choose from, which can all be personalised or you can design your own with a photo and if you place your order before 2pm you can have it the very next day!
It didn’t take long before the cake was cut into- myself and my daughter just couldn’t resist that sweet cakey smell! The sponge itself was very moist and covered in delicious vanilla buttercream- even on the bottom to help the cake stop sticking to the base- extra points from me, the more buttercream the better! The icing was very sweet, but not too sweet, it wasn’t sickly and was just the right amount for the size of the cake. We managed to save a small piece for G too and he said the same- it really was gorgeous.
The letterbox cake costs £14.99 and serves around 3-4 people but I suppose that depends what kind of mood you’re in because I could have easily eaten the full thing to myself! I do think that they make a great gifts and I would definitely send them to my friends and family for occasions if they don’t live local- who wouldn’t want to get home and find a cake amongst those bills?!
A couple of weeks ago whilst doing the usual ‘scrolling through Twitter’ routine, I noticed a message pop through asking if I’d be willing to receive some snacks for my toddler to review. Of course I said yes- nothing like a treat for my girl- but I’m typing the review because if my toddler V wrote it, whilst being very amusing with a lot of ufwdyugHJLGVFIYLGEIYRG8E9YYUG- I don’t think we’d get much sense out of it! Although she did do all of the taste testing- I couldn’t get a look in!
A few days after the email exchange the postman appeared at the door with a huge red box! I was a bit confused if I’m honest, you know that flash of panic, ‘Ohhh no, I’ve been doing that drunken online shopping again?!’, then I noticed the Ella’s Kitchen logo! I’ve heard of Ella’s Kitchen before but it’s not something I’ve ever bought or had an opportunity to try so I was a little excited for my V. She was napping when it arrived (we don’t get our post until 2pm, how lame is that?!), so I quickly opened it to take a photo and have a peek at the contents because I knew once she was up and noticed it the box would be upside down!
The first thing I noticed was the colours- super bright colours- I love them! When V got her chance to have a peek the next morning she gave a huge squeal of delight- and then demanded ‘Crisps!’. That’s because the little packets look exactly like crisps packets and she’s a massive crisp fiend! At first I told her no- no way are you having crisps for breakfast- but then I noticed that the blue packet was fruit- Raspberries and Peaches- so I thought what the hell, it’s a nice treat for her anyway. I’m not going to lie, the whole packet was inhaled within 5 minutes. I wasn’t sure she’d like the other flavours but that was a bit silly of me because there’s not much our V doesn’t like. I gave her a pack of the Carrot and Lentil Sticks for her snack the other day and didn’t tell her the flavour. Half way through the pack she turned to me and said “Mammy, these carrot sticks, they’re tasty!”- so they obviously taste exactly how they should! We took a pack of the Cheese and Leeks Crunchy Wheels in her backpack to playgroup last week where she shared them out with her friends- every single one of the kids loved them! Her definite favourite has to be the Parsnips and Poppy Seeds Savoury Biccies. Both packs of those were gone pretty quickly and she keeps asking for more (I keep forgetting to look out for them when we go shopping).
I am very impressed with these Ella’s Kitchen snacks and will be buying them for my kids in future- when I remember to put them on my shopping list that is! There were a couple of helpful leaflets on weaning too- definitely my next thing to try as we’ll be starting to wean our little baby B soon!
Mother Hermit xx
Disclaimer; I was very kindly sent this box of Ella’s Kitchen snacks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are that of my own and my toddler!