Monday, 27 February 2012

Zhu Zhu Pets Zhu-fari Play Set

A few years ago, I can remember the only toy the girls is Beansy's class played with were ZhuZhu pets.  I remember thinking myself lucky that as I had two boys who were only interested in soldiers, star wars and lego that I had got the long straw as all the annoying squeaking was by passing our house.

How wrong was I?!  This was a trend that is set to stay and with the introduction of the Kung Zhu range which was quite clearly aimed at boys, my boys are also well and truly hooked.  

Pixie got her first Zhu Zhu last year and I have to admit that they do all play nicely together and so when we were asked to review the latest range Zhu Zhu Pets Safari I knew it was going to be a hit in our house.

We were sent a play set and Wharton the mouse to review and the kids immediately went and got the rest of the zhu zhu family to join in the fun.  It was very easy to assemble and like all play sets, it gives you the option to link up to other play sets which means that you can create all sorts of play adventures.  In our opinion, it really is better to have this linked up to other sets as it means the pets can really explore.  

 The kids commented:

"This is really good but why is it only babies that can go down the slide and on the monkey swing?" 

This is true.  Half of the playset is only suitable for zhu zhu babies which of course is a great marketing ploy by the company for you to buy more product - this actually really annoys me (and lots of other parents I know and I really think that companies should do their research into what parents really want as it puts parents of buying from these brands).

Fortunately we had some babies that were able to participate in the play and the kids have spent a long time with their pets in the jungle play set.

S.A.M Results:

Value for money:  8/10
Playability: 8/10
Durability: 7/10 (feels flimsy but has actually lasted very well with my 3!)

Peace and Love


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Marking out your territory

I was talking to a friend today who has just started potty training her little one and it reminded me of a very funny event that happened when I was potty training BoBo.  He was two years old in the July and with Pixie due in the October, I wanted to get him into pants before the baby arrived so I didn't have two in nappies.

Well, that was the plan!!!!

I think you "know" when the time is right and poor BoBo wasn't ready until the October half term which was the week before my due date.  Still, being the ever optimist that I am, I persevered and the boy cracked it within four days.  I never bother with nappies at night as I strongly believe that when they are ready, they can go through the night as well.

I had the Pixie on the 30th October and of course the weeks preceding her birth were full of visitors and a 5th birthday party for our Beansey.  Still, the BoBo did us proud, using the loo and telling us when he needed to go.  He was a superstar!

My cheeky 2 year old around the time of the "poo incident"

Until, one day, I went upstairs.  He was in Pixie's nursery and was climbing into her cot.  I was peeping through the door and I thought to myself "ah, the wee laddie is going for a snooze" (bearing in mind he was just 2 and a bit) but no, he then pulled his trousers and pants off.

Then, squatted down and curled one out.

I was gobsmacked and quickly went into his room and pretended to put something away.  When I then went into his sisters room and asked "what on earth THAT was?" He proceeded to tell me "Mummy, naughty Pixie did that".

Surely a case of sibling jealousy.  Either that or marking his territory!  

You decide.

Peace and Love



Impulsive.  Yes, that could be my middle name.

As if I haven't got enough on my plate with the business and the kids.

I woke up yesterday morning and decided to paint our bedroom.   Consequently, I dropped the boys at school and Pixie at pre school and ambled to B+Q.  I have a bit of a passion for chalky white paints and got a lovely white with hint of powder blue.  It is gorgeous!

It also means that the house is upside down as I am airing.  The walls are now finished and looking lovely.

Next step, the woodwork, celing and possibly the floorboards?!!

Anyone else with me on the impulsive front?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Monday, 20 February 2012

February Half Term 2012

So, another week has been and gone.

My babies went back to school today and whilst I enjoyed the tidy house, my goodness, it was quiet.

I really enjoy having them at home as genuinely feel that I get to know them that little bit better.  

Everyone is relaxed, no timetable or agenda and we just enjoy hanging out together.  We did some lovely things everyday including a James Bond Workshop, a bike ride in the park, visited the lovely Tamsyn, went horse racing and the icing on the cake was Beansey's rugby team winning  5 out of 5 games at the curtain raiser cup on the Saturday.

It really was a lovely, relaxing week - I love you my darlings.

Bring on Easter please!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Thomson Al Fresco - Young Writer of the Year competition 2012

Al Fresco Holidays have launched a young travel writer competition and are looking for aspiring writers in two age categories - aged 10 and under and aged 11 and over.  All your budding travel journalists need to do, is write about a special holiday they have been on, in no more than 300 words.   Here are some ideas to get the creativity flowing:

1) Where they went
2) What they did
3) Why is was so great
4) Did they try any new experiences
5) Who did they go with

In true journalistic fashion, pictures would make the article come alive!!

This is a great opportunity, as not only will your child get to practise their spelling and creative writing skills, but they will also be in with a chance to win their families holiday in 2012.

Yes, you read that correctly, the winner of the competition will win a 7 day holiday for the whole family to a fun filled Al Fresco holiday park of YOUR choice plus up to £500 travel expenses.   How awesome would that be?!

Al Fresco holidays provide luxury mobile homes in holiday parcs throughout Europe and as they are geared towards families, there is of course plenty to do for all ages both in and around the sites.  The children will make new friends around the pool or in the kids club whilst the grown ups can partake in a spa treatment of three (*ahem*).

As much as we love a dip in the pool, for us as a family we love the beach and enjoy nothing more than lazying around, swimming and building sandcastles with items found whilst beach combing.  We had a truly magical time in France last year and are planning on going back again this Summer.

I'll definitely be showing this to my three children, can you imagine how great it would be to win your families holiday this year?!

Peace and Love

S.AM. xx

Friday, 17 February 2012

Keeping House. I'm talking cleaning!

Growing up, I was a messy so and so.  I blame the mother, she did everything for us kids and although she will argue the toss now, she really did do the lot - washing, cleaning, cooking, ironing, making beds every day, putting clothes away, you get my drift.  We tidied and polished our rooms when we were older for a bit of pocket money, but really, I was clueless when it came to "keeping house".  Consequently, when I left home and bought my own flat, I didn't have a clue.   My first flatmate was one of my best friends Pinky, she was from a similar background and the flat was either uber tidy or uber messy.  

We had an amazing time in that flat but the extent of our cooking was putting the kettle on for a pot noodle.  If we wanted "proper" food, we would head back to our respective parents or eat out!

We didn't really clean, every Saturday morning we would spend a few hours cleaning the flat (it was a duplex) top to bottom and then pretty much exist for the rest of the week.  The truth of the matter is, it didn't really *need* proper cleaning every day, we were rarely home!!!

2 years ago in a tuk tuk somewhere in and the Pinky, still misbehaving! 

Fast forward twelve years and I am living in a Victorian 4 bedroom, 3 storey 2 bathroom household with 3 children and a husband.  We are in and out several times a day and I am now having to clean on a more regular basis.  I struggle to keep on top of it all but as with everything, I use the best tools in order to a) make it easier for me and b) multi-task.

One of my "things" is having clean floors.  We have wooden floors throughout the open plan downstairs and limestone in the kitchen.  When vileda contacted me to see if I wanted to try out their new range, well who was I to argue? 

They kindly sent me a super mucio 3D mop and bucket which was a new one on me, I have always used string mops so was keen to see the comparison.  The mop was awesome, it was much bigger than my traditional string vileda and the bucket was strong with a handy place to hang the mop once I had finished cleaning.  

                            Very impressive, I don't see myself going back to string mops any time soon.

We are lucky enough to have two bathrooms and to be honest, HAW and I never use the kids one.  We have the whole top floor to ourselves which is handy given the state the kids bathroom gets into.  I have always said that someone should invent a mop and bucket system for bathrooms and vileda are 50% of the way there with their bath magic system.  This is basically a sponge on a stick which meant I could get to the top tiles really easily.  Despite this, I was really disappointed with the "system" to clean.  I had filled the sink with water and then had to stand on the bath to go over the tiles as they were dripping water.  As soon as vileda come up with a mini bucket solution, I will be a convert.  As it stands at the moment, it didn't make my life easier as it took far longer to clean the tiles.

lovely sparkly clean kids bathroom (well for 20 mins perhaps?)
So, to conclude, cleaning and I have had a love/hate relationship over the years.  I love a tidy, clean house but I hate housework.

Now where did I put that mop?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Disclaimer: I was sent a selection of vileda products to try out - as you can see, there is room for some improvement but overall my experience was good!

Star Wars, Episode 1 "The Phantom Menace" in 3D imax

My brother is 18 months younger than me.  We grew up close in age, playing with the same friends on the street and consequently, he was aware of the things I was into and vice versa.  He spent the best part of his childhood being obsessed with Star Wars (what boy of the 70s wasn't) and some would argue, like most boys of that era, he still is!!    I loved the films, the battle of good vs evil, the relationships and romance and I think that all kids today should watch the films, they really are very good.

In fact, one of the first films that H.A.W and I saw was Star Wars Episode 1 which confused the hell out of me, I couldn't work out who was who and what was what.  He on the other had loved it and was saying "oh look, so and so is really so and so".  

For those of you NOT aware, in the 70s the films released were Episodes 4, 5 and 6.  George Lucas then released episodes 1, 2 and 3.  So out of synch.  Purist fans will say that the first three episodes are poor compared to the last three and whilst I have to agree that I prefer the "Star Wars" of my generation, the kids actually really, really like the first three in the saga.  Confused?! 

Star Wars is a massive hit in our household.  The boys who are 8 and 5 are obsessed.  They love Star Wars lego, have light sabers and mini figures and they watch one of the film DVD's at least once a week.  

We always used to say it is such a shame they couldn't experience the whole saga on the big screen (same as Harry Potter, as they are just the right age for it now) as the battles are totally epic on the big screen rather than a 40 inch television.  We consoled ourselves with the fact that they, at least could share the magic and memories that we both have.

Rewind a few weeks ago, I was upstairs, putting washing away when I heard a shriek from downstairs "Mum, Mum, Star Wars is in 3D",  further investigation lead us to find out that Lucas Films have indeed remastered Episode 1, The Phantom menace into 3D.

As a half term treat, I took them to the imax yesterday,  it was the first time we have been there and it was an experience that none of us will forget.  The film is absolutely amazing in 3D.  You can quite literally, "feel the force" and it totally changes how the film is viewed.   The kids were mesmerised from the beginning (even 3 year old Pixie) and are really hoping that the rest of the films are converted to 3D.

Here's the official trailer:

Despite the fact my kids have seen the film numerous times, to see it on the big screen and in 3D added a whole new dimension.  We were all totally captivated and I am so glad that they are getting to experience one of the greatest film sagas of all time on the big screen.

Peace and Love


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

An important woman in my life

The lovely blogger Kate on thin ice has asked for 90 bloggers to blog about "an important woman in their lives" in order to support Breakthrough for Breast Cancer and to help raise awareness but the challenge is to do this in just 90 words.  If you want to join in and support breakthrough for breast cancer, please follow the links.

Without a shadow of a doubt, there is one very special lady who has helped to shape my life, that is of course, my mum.  

I know she reads my blog (but why no comments eh?!) so here are 90 words (when I could write an essay, also could be the same for my dad!) about my lovely mum:

"Patient, all encompassing love, hugs and kisses, encouraging, supportive, lots of “I love yous”, always at the end of the phone, hard working, non judgemental, an amazing Nanny, happy memories to be treasured for life, funny times, sad times, supportive and engaging, a rock when I need anchoring, a wonderful daughter to your wonderful parents, solid is a crisis, a life force to be reckoned with, an inspiring mum, lots of time to listen and play, love and kisses, always there, always caring, always loving"

Love always

S.A.M xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

In the Blink of an Eye.....

In a heartbeat, the life as my friend Tamsyn who blogs at Manic Mum's Blog changed.  Her lovely husband Alex suffered a very serious head trauma that resulted in 2 brain bleeds.  Tamsyn was told to prepare for the worst.

However, Alex pulled through.  He is now blind.

They have left their rural life in France to come back to the UK as Alex lost the ability to understand French and by being back on "home soil" his recovery will be quicker.  We are talking years though.

Tamsyn is back, she has 4 young children to look after and they have quite literally left everything in France bar their clothes.  The children do not have any toys, they are unsettled and Tamsyn is struggling, she is going through the plethora of emotions from anger to sadness and feels "at sea".

I blogged in January about £1 is all we need in the hope that you would sacrifice your morning coffee or evening glass of wine and find it in your hearts to donate just £1 to the rehabilitation fund.

The beautiful Alyson Andrew has also pledged to help and all profits from her Mothers Day Mini Canvas is being donated to the family.

BUT we still need your help.  This is not a registered charity but a fund to help an amazing family survive.  This is for the bare essentials, to make their lives a little easier as they wait for Alex to recuperate.

You can donate HERE or DM me direct if you would like to get involved in any fundraising initiatives.

Peace and Love


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Super Amazing Mum Loves............Accessories Direct

every fashionista worth her manolos, knows that accessories can make or break an outfit.  I think I actually spend longer looking for accessories than I do for the outfit and I have a serious, SERIOUS obsession with vintage jewellery.    Whilst putting together an outfit is fairly straight forward, choosing or in fact finding the accessories to complement the outfit takes me just as long!

My favourite accessories of late, have to be my feather and net hat and Louis Vuitton Leopard Print Scarf, which, with a slash of red lipstick, adds instant glamour to any outfit.

I had coveted the scarf for a LONG time and was overjoyed when HAW got it for me a few Christmases ago - yes it is pricey (don't ask) but I have worn it pretty much every day for the last 4 years.  Definitely worth the money - it is a real investment piece.  

Handbags are another accessory that I have a love affair with and I was delighted to receive a Kate Benjamin for Accessories Direct leather, tan tote to review.  

This retails at just £150 which for an exclusive design is an absolute bargain.  It arrived in a beautiful dust bag that oozed quality and the smell of the leather was (and still is) very intoxicating.  You can tell this is a quality bag made from a fine hide.  I have been using this for a few weeks now and am finding it to be a great size with a handy external zipper and mobile phone pocket on the inside.  

It is beautifully made and the leather is incredibly soft.  

I hadn't heard of accessories direct before, but have just emailed H.A.W my wish list.  There are some breath taking accessories in the collection and to have them all under one brand makes it very accessible.  I am really hoping that H.A.W reads this blog post as I *need* these earrings for an awards do in March!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Monday, 6 February 2012

Something I love

“I am sharing an image of something I love with Love All Blogs and Albelli”  

L.A.B have prompted us to post of picture of something we love.  Now I could have gone for the obvious and posted a picture of the family, but of course, I adore every single one of them, so instead, I have gone for a picture of London.  I blogged a while ago about how much I love my town of birth and with us hosting the Olympics this year, I am expecting to fall even more in love with our great City.

I love the diversity of the people, the places and shops and I am so proud to be a Londoner born and bred.

If you want to link up, please use the badge below:

LAB and Albelli

Peace and Love

S.A.M. xx

Our Snowy Weekend

On Saturday, both football and rugby were cancelled due to frozen pitches and the threat of snow, so all day long, the kids were saying "why isn't it snowing yet?" and "mum, mum where is the snow?".  I had a client viewing on Saturday evening and by the time I had finished the viewing, the landscape was white.    The kids of course were in bed, so I was *really* looking forward to them waking up to a white landscape.

Beansey was first up, shrieking (as only he can) "it's snowed, it has really, REALLY snowed!" and it didn't take long before all three of them were jumping all over us wanting to go outside.  We made them wait until 8am (sorry neighbours!) and all of them ran into the garden for a snowball fight and snowman building extravaganza.  

  After two hours of play in the garden, we came in for hot chocolate and bacon sarnies.  I had put a loin of pork in the oven with roasted apples and we then headed to the park to try out the new sledges.  We bumped into some friends and had a huge snowball fight followed by lots of sledging (muddy!).  

One of the best things about the boys loving their rugby is the actual club itself!  We arranged to meet some rugby friends at the club to watch the Wales/Ireland game and the children had a ball with two pitches worth of virgin snow.  It is such a safe environment for them to play in - reminds me of being a child myself as they really do have the freedom to run and run as it is totally enclosed and private, it was lovely to see children from 3 upwards all playing together regardless of age.  I love how the older kids look after the little ones.  

It was a fabulous, family, fun filled day with friends (that's a lot of F's!) and the kids were very sad this morning to not have woken up to another flurry!  

Did you have a lovely weekend in the snow?  What did you all do?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Madonna at the 2012 Superbowl

Last year's Superbowl was watched by 111,000,000 MILLION people Worldwide making it the highest watched programme in US history, it is the most expensive programme to advertise in globally and the half time ceremonies are a massive highlight.  It's no wonder then that this event is called "Superbowl Sunday" in the US.

So it wasn't a surprise that Madonna was quoted  before hand as saying "I have to put on the greatest performance during the greatest show on earth" and boy did she NOT disappoint!  I have just watched it back as couldn't stay awake last night and she is beyond sensational.

What I love about Madonna is her ability to keep things fresh, she is constantly evolving as an artist and by mixing it up she remains as inspirational now as she was to me all those years ago in the 80s!

Here's the video from last night - Madonna at her best?!   What do you think??

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Friday, 3 February 2012

Davina for Next - Week 4

Well last week saw me suffering so how did I fare this week?!

I have been on fire is the answer to that!

As part of the Next Blogger Network I was lucky enough to be picked as a Davina for Next blogger and despite going to Sri Lanka and feeling ill last week, I have manged to lose 6lbs in weight!

Just to clarify, I was using Monday as my weigh in day (Monday just gone, had lost 5lbs) but have decided to switch this to a Friday as it means if I over indulge at the weekend, then I have the rest of the week to make up for it.  Anyway, this morning after my run, I hopped on the scales and have lost another 1lb since Monday! 

Total weight lose so far: 6lbs.

So, what has inspired this change?  Firstly, I am listening to my slimpod from thinking slimmer which I will be blogging about monthly from next month,  despite being a sceptic and not sticking to this once before, I have tweaked things slightly and it has made a huge difference.  Some very strange things have been happening and I'll update you of that very soon!

Secondly, Davina and Next sent me her latest DVD for 2012 "ultimate target" which is absolutely amazing!

I have used a fitness DVD at home before, instead preferring to go to the Gym or for a run, but this really is an inspirational DVD.  It targets key areas such as "bingo wings" and "bikini bum" as well as 15 minutes of hell I mean fun with an abs specific section.  Throw in a cardio workout and a boot camp section and you have a great all round fitness DVD.  

The only negative for me is that I am doing it at home in a cramped space - I need company (so if any London/Surrey PT's want to take up the challenge of keeping me on track, please do get in contact!!).

What has shocked me more than anything, is that I am struggling. I used to workout 4x a week and eat what I want within reason, but then health issues got in the way and I broke my toe in training.  I have all sorts of hormonal issues related to my Thyroid which means that although weight loss is possible, it is going to be slow.  Still, as long as it is going in the right direction, I am happy to go with it.

How are you all doing on your fitness plans?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx