Christmas ideas for children: Mibo books (review)

Monday, 15 September 2014

As mentioned previously, I love to support small businesses; cafes, artists, shops, ...anything and everything! So when I got an email asking if I wanted to look at the brand spanking new kid's books by a local range of books, of course I was going to say yes!

Button Books is an exciting range of design led children's books that include round cornered board books, wipe clean flash cards and picture books with pop up animals to make.  They combine beautiful illustrations with high production values AND innovative ideas- two massive thumbs up in my opinion.  I have a few books already that fit into this vein also; the baby lit books and an illustrative nature book of poems- both of which Ophelia adores.  Ophelia really loves reading; as well as nature, sound effects, bright colours and touching stuff (so a typical toddler then!) so I always want books that support her enjoyment.

 The Mibo series of books (The Jungle Crew, The Polar Pack and The Safari Set), fit into all of the above in one way of another! The first thing I noticed when I opened these books was how really very well made they are; the texture of the pages just ooze good quality and whilst this might get forgotten by the littles in our life, I'm sure i'm not the only Mum that is always reassured by some extra thick pages whilst their child pretends the page is a Wobble board?! I also love interactive, multi-purpose books and so the little animals to make with each book are an added bonus for me-I love a good 3D educational toy, me! Now is probably an appropriate time to mention that these books are aimed at 4-7 year olds, however Ophelia is only 1 and already loves them. 

So now for the important part, what did Ophelia think?! Well, it was clear very quickly that she loved the bright, bold illustrations (and the fact they were animal related!)- her eyes clocked them and she had her hands all over them, fingering through the pages within seconds! She loves animals and so got quite excited simply leafing through the pages and pointing at the animals then doing an impression (i'm slightly concerned she wants to be a lion when she grows up by the way!). 
She also really loves repetition and rhythm, and these books create great rhymes to withstand a young child's attention- I can imagine this will be even better as she gets older.  I can imagine these books being long standing favourites for different reasons as she grows up; following a story with the help of role play, inspiration, crafting and educating about different animals and regions.

I can imagine these books would make the perfect gift for Birthdays or Christmas, appealing to both kids and adults alike!

  You can buy them:
 Button books

Review: Eisberg non alcoholic Rose wine

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Recently, Callum and I shared a bottle of Pinot which we both instantly regretted; two small glasses later and Callum was in a state of constant confusion and I don't remember going to bed (fully clothed).  Needless to say, after our regularly 5am wake up and it being a school night, we soon vowed not to live so crazily any time soon!

So it was pretty perfect timing when an email aeroplaned from outer space to my awfully managed inbox with the promise of alcohol free wine.  I'll be honest, my initial thought was intrigued, I've always wondered what it would taste like; would it taste the same? would it taste like schloer?! Well, there is only one way to find out!

Eisberg alcohol free rose wine
  Eisberg alcohol free wine is made basically in the same way as alcoholic Rose, except at the end of the process the alcohol is taken out- the idea being that you still keep true to the taste it should be.  I can totally see this or should I say, taste this, in the final product- there was a dash of that familiar fruity Rose taste.  What I liked, is that this wasn't overly sweet- I used to drink Rose wine a lot in my early 20s but found more than one glass far too sweet for my liking.  There are many things I liked about this drink, but i'll start with the oddest one shall I?! I liked the fact it wasn't too easy to drink (i.e. "down in onnnnne"), which in my eyes makes it the perfect non alcoholic replacement when the designated driver, i'm very guilty of gulping down soft drinks so fast! Another plus point of this beauty is that it contains a mere 35 calories per small glass and only 0.05% alcohol- which means you can go and eat a whole pizza instead!

I like the simplistic but clear design of the label; it is nice and discrete for times if you're not drinking alcohol but you don't want to draw attention to it.  The colour of the drink (not well displayed by my awful photography!) is very similar to those pale pink roses (which are usually my favourite).   The one thing I would say, is that if you want a drink that tastes the same as your favourite glass of Rose this is not going to cut it but it is a great tasting competitor for non alcoholic beers/schloer.   You can get it from all good supermarkets for about half the price of normal wine!

Now, go and buy some pizza!
I was kindly gifted the wine but all views my own!

Life in Brighton: A family dinner date at Brighton Pizza Express

Saturday, 30 August 2014

On Thursday the three of us headed Pizza express on Jubilee Street (Brighton), to have a post work meal treat! I hadn't been to Pizza Express in YEARS! I thought it had been ten years but Callum informs me apparently we went when we first started going out (so actually about 6 years ago!).  My lasting memory of Pizza Express is going with my friend and her daughter, and I would always order the same salad without fail! We had a fab time, the staff were pretty attentive without being in your face, the decor was appealing (Ophelia was especially inamoured with the big photographic portraits on the walls and the bright bunting) and the food portions were lovely and generous (so much so that I had half my pizza for lunch the next day!). 
I had  the classic dough balls for starter- just as good as I remember! Callum went for cheesy garlic bread- both were a nice intro to the night! A friend bought round the shop-bought-pizza-express version of the garlic bread a few weeks ago and I remember thinking how amazing it was, and this trip re-reminded me how good it is! The cheese was mozerella which is already a win in my book, Ophelia particularly enjoyed this rolled into small balls. 

Both of us enjoyed our pizzas, I personally feel they are on the salty side of salty, but then this is coming from the girl that puts no salt in or on her food, so probably have salty sensitivity or summat [that's totally a thang, right?!].  For you crazy, next day, cold pizza types (FYI as a side note, be prepared to be judged if you carry a take out box of pizza to work the next day). it is just as good, if not, even better when eaten next day.  I went for the Romana Emilia (goats cheese, rocket, mushrooms and garlic) and I loved it, especially as it's like no pizza I have had before and this always grabs my attention in a pizza!  I am also a big fan of thin, rusticesque pizza and this was definitely in that vein- nice and crispy outside but soft on the inside (like me ;). 

Ophelia mostly just stole shared our food so we aren't able to comment on kids menu etc, but the staff were good at finding space for the pram, bringing a high chair and crayons and appeared to have a good awareness about risk (e.g. candle/water/hot food proximity), needs and entertainment.  Ophelia is at the stage where she constantly requests to "down" (i.e. walk), so sitting still is not at all in her remit, thankfully there is a great outdoor space covered in artificial grass which was great at burning some energy (and avoiding tantrums!) in between courses whilst still being in view of the table.

Have you been to Pizza express recently or either of the ones in Brighton? What's your favourite chain restaurant?  

LIFE: The week that I was off work

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Monday: Started with me finishing my "temporary mum" status with this beaut:
 Tuesday: My cold appeared today, typically of course! Callum's Mum joined us to go to Shoreham park, which Ophelia took great pleasure in chasing the dogs around the park (><), she really does love dogs that kid! We then walked into Shoreham to go to the new cafe- it was okay but nothing amazing.

Tom foolery cafe, Shoreham Wednesday: Callum and I dropped Ophelia at Nursery and then headed to our favourite part of Hove for cake and coffee. I mean, there isn't a better way to start the day is there?! I could TOTALLY get used to this way of life!  We then headed home before heading to the Cinema to see Guardians of the Galaxy-it was good, light hearted, classic fun! Really wish I hadn't cancelled my Cineworld so efficiently! 

Thursday: We headed to Shoreham again, to the same park, again.  Ophelia was in her element charging across the length of the field to get to the playground.  We blew some bubbles and went on the swings before heading home.  

Friday: We walked the 6 mile round trip to town (via a free-Waitrose-coffee-pit-stop and a walk along the beach) to collect my pottery from the painting pottery cafe which I did bloody yonks ago at the Brighton blogger event (I talked about it here).  It is conviniently on the same road as Street Diner, which we happened to arrive at perfectly on the dot for 11:30am.  This is what we got:
Trolls Pantry at Street Diner, Brighton
Trolls' pantry burger; It was genuinely (by far), the best burger I have ever tasted! We originally planned to walk home and then eat it sitting down ready for coma, however we simply couldn't await it's tasty tasty alure any longer.  Warning; this aint a pretty eat, so maybe sit yourself in a quiet, secluded spot when you try it ;).  

Honeycomb cakes' blueberry cheesecake brownies was so divine I really can't find the words! The perfect balance of gooey, rich chocolate, with the cheesecake for decidance but blueberries just take the edge off it! 

Deadgood Burrito at Street diner, Brighton
Deadgood burrito pulled pork; was soooooo soft, morish, great mix of flavours (although I did bite into the whole chilli at one point which I did not enjoy!) that left me feeling like I wanted another- I definitely prefer it to the chicken one I had at the Brighton blogger event (#BrightonOTB).

After demolishing our cake with coffee at home, we headed out to my Mum's suprise 60th at The Thistle hotel, Brighton.  It was lovely to catch up with everyone and cheer my Mum up-she of course cried! This is what I wore:

Dress and necklace; ASOS. 

Saturday: I actually did twenty minutes on the exercise bike today- I cannot tell you how happy and energised it makes me!  I wish I had this much time and energy all time time, I would love to be a lady who lunches on cake and then exercsies all afternoon! I followed this up by making some protein balls for the first time, I definitely put too much peanut butter in but at least I know for next time! They're rediculously easy to do!

I also made some more sensory bottles and items for Ophelia to play with, which she adores and finds hysterical! Only probem is, I made the mistake of putting lots of bell inside one of them and then letting her eat the other one!

 How have your weeks been? Any ideas how to win the lottery so I can avoid working?!

P.S Thank you for your comments on the last post, muchos love to you all!

I'm linking up with Hannah's weekly:

Train yourself to see the good in every situation...

Saturday, 23 August 2014


These two quotes sum up the past week perfectly.  I know I start a lot of my posts moaning or reporting about the latest hurdle to overcome in this existance that is, life; but this is not about a moan, this is about getting through life and getting over those hurdles.  I promise not to use anymore cliche terms about rollercoasters and turning positives into negatives, I just want to use this space to acknowledge how sometimes, shit really does happen but it doesn't have to be as shit as you think it is.  
The week started off well in that I was off for the week as annual leave, however it very quickly became apparent that bad luck comes in at least threes, and by Tuesday afternoon I was practically in tears feeling exhausted by the constant battle that is, life and the nail in the possibly literal coffin came on Friday.  Friday was my Mum's suprise 60th party that my Sister organised for her, "great" I thought, a positive end to the week; except I got a phone call Friday afternoon from my Sister to inform me that our terminally ill Uncle had become seriously unwell and was currently being kept alive simply by a machine on ICU. 
 Instead of capitulating under the compounding feeling of life suckiness (that's totally a word, right?!), instead it seemed to galvernise me.  No longer was I stressing over Callum having potentially broken his arm or the fact we could be homeless 3 days before Christmas.  Instead, I was focusing on the 'now'. and making sure my Mum was 'okay' and supported, was my priority- nothing else in the future mattered, all that mattered was the now and our togetherness as family and friends.  This mental distance has made a world of difference in the last 24 hours; I have been quite mindful, staying in the moment and not worrying about the ifs and buts, and finally having time to do some crafting (which I'm always too tired to do when working full time)- which in turn always makes me feel 100 % better!  It has reminded me of the wonder and power of humanity and the deep footprints that some people make.  
 At Mum's party, there were a lot of people who haven't seen me for 20 years, all from various different aspects of my life; yet each one of them said how I had not changed one bit and how positive and chatty I am.  It got me thinking about the etchings that you make on people and the ones they make on you, how long those last like tattoos on your psyche. What do I want my etching to be? What do you think yours would be? What do you want yours to be? 

Yarnbombing in my home town

Saturday, 9 August 2014

It's no secret that I have a dislike for my home town (Worthing), and I try to avoid going there as much as possible.  I'm not really sure why, I had a perfectly fine childhood etc, I think for me, it's what going back to my home town represents.  We're in the process of looking to buy a house at the moment and whilst I know Worthing is better value for money, I simpy cannot consider throwing down permanent roots there. 

I feel like it would be going backwards and I dread the thought of bumping into THOSE people; you know, the ones where you have to actually suddenly become really interested in your surroundings to avoid eye contact? Those people that are sitting on your facebook list but you have absolutely no interest in their lives and don't particularly want them knowing much about yours, but you know that you risk causing an uproar if you delete them.  I also hate the fact that it all the businesses I tend to like, inevitably end up failing there and everytime one closes, I lose more faith in what the town stands for.  Thankfully, I know a few people trying to make independent businesses successful there again, and I really hope it sticks this time rather than another empty shop or another shitty cheap shop. 

Anywho, enough of a rant.  Today I'm actually talking about something positive I discovered on my recent visit; yarn bomb.

I've mentioned my love for yarn bombing before on this blog, and Worthing have had a fair amount of yarn bombing involvement-their independent knit shop is just great for creating stuff to help the community.  This recent spat of bombing has been created roadside in front of a disused building site and quite frankly it cheers the place up ten fold!   I also love it because it ties in with the WWI remembrance stuff going on at the moment, which Worthing are also heavily involved in.

Here are some of my favourite bits of the yarn bombing;

  There were also some really amazing knitted birds and a spider web in the tree!

It's got me all inspired to get my knitting out again, I've just got to find a way to not be so tired that I have to squint through one eye?!

Have you seen any yarnbombing in your local area?

Life lately: healthy eating ahoy....NAAAAAT

Sunday, 27 July 2014

If it's low calorie meals you're after, it's probably best to look away now!  It seems like this last week has most involved eating terribly!!!!

It all started with Ophelia's Birthday which kicked off in style with a picnic in the park; sausages, sausage rolls, cake. crips ....basically carbs, processed meat and refined sugar as far as your eyes could see!

The next day it was her actual real Birthday; cue EVEN more cake in the form of genuinely the sickliest cake i've ever made/tried! I genunely couldn't even eat a whole slice. I KNOW.   Actually, in fact, that day I even had cake in two different forms!

Enough about the food though (it's actually making me feel a bit sick-nothing to do with the hangover!), we talk Ophelia to Washbrooks farm and it was fabulous! It was a ridiculously hot day (as it constantly seems to be at the mo) so perfect to clamber around the excellent outdoor playground and fields of animals.  Is this not the single most heart melting sight ever?!

After laughing at a cockrell that kept screaming in a pig's face and the pig looking immensely pissed off, we went to their tea rooms (with outdoor space) for cake, iced coffee and ice cream.  There was even two soft play rooms for those rainy days, but we ran out of time to go in there, plus it was such a nice day it seemed silly to be inside.

 We headed home to put together Ophelia's rocking horse and watch her untenable excitement when she walked in to see it! She has since decided that she likes attempting to climb it, the result of which, is never happiness!

I found the rest of the week excruciatingly hot, I've basically been living in my pants (not even a bra!)- I really am not keen on this whole, sun being out thing.  This has led to a diet high in these ...

 and these...

A lot of the week was tainted by Callum and Ophelia picking up a bug, but this is all by the by. 

Saturday saw us have Callum's Mum and Al over to help us with lots of stuff at the house, Ophelia was evidently still struggling though because she was ultra clingy and didn't fancy me putting her down (even to go to the toilet)...but heck she gives good cuddles so i'll let her off. The boys sorted a lot of the garden (back and front) including the butler sink which i'm excited to get to work on.  They also brought along a mahosive pine bookshelf and nailed up a frankly gorgeous shelving unit.  The dining room now looks so much better as a result.

Saturday evening we went to a wedding reception in our home town of Worthing, at the Dome cinema.  We had a great time and in no-way did we have horrendous hangovers this morning (even though they served sausage baps at the Wedding!), thank goodness for staying at Grandad and Nana's is all I can say!! Mum cooked us up the mother of all cooked breakfasts which definitely eased the pain somewhat! Ophelia also helped by sleeping in until 7am which was much appreciated! She's such a delightful little monkey, she has laughed so much this week and its just been amazing to spend time around her.  Some of my favourite things from this week include; her bouts of absolute hysterical laugher for no foreseeable reason, the way she gestures for you to walk her round the room by putting her arms in the air (this is also what she does when she wants to get out of something), her crazed rocking on her horse, her delight in climbing all over her Dad and general cheeky look when she wants to do something naughty!

As i'm sure you can imagine, today has involved a lot of coke, pizza and basically doing as little as possible!

How has your week been?