I love it when I receive things for ME to review so when I was asked to be a Shoe Zone Mummy blogger then I was happy to help. There are certain types of shoe that every woman should have in her wardrobe. Like a good pair of jeans, there are certain shoes which are staple items. Since having children, I admit I seem to spend 95% of my time wearing trainers now a days but it doesn’t stop me loving shoes! When Shoe Zone asked me to choose a pair of shoes to review, I decided I needed to start building my collection and the perfect pair to start with are these beautiful and simple nude patent wedges.
These are the type of shoes which can be worn with everything and anything, I honestly don’t know how I coped for so long without a pair of shoes like this in my collection!
What do I love about these shoes:
1. They can be worn with absolutely everything, a true wardrobe staple which every woman needs in her shoe collection.
2. They are extremely comfortable. I’d say they are true to size, I am a size 7 in most shoes and these in a size 7 fit me really well. They feel great to wear which is always a bonus as I simply don’t believe in crippling myself for the sake of a pair of shoes, no matter how pretty they are
3. The wedge heel makes these shoes so wearable. I’m tall anyway so I don’t particularly need skyscraper heels in my life (although I do own a couple of pairs) and wedges just feel so much more stable whilst still giving the elegant feel and look of heels. Ideal when trying to cope with two toddlers out and about
4. Quality – now I have to admit, when I saw the price of these shoes (£14.99), I was pretty dubious about what quality they would be but to my surprise they look and feel really well made. Of course I’ve only had them a couple of weeks but from my experience of them so far I’m expecting them to last quite a while.
So, overall am I impressed with these shoes? Definitely yes!
You can never have enough vegetarian recipe books! That is so true for this household, I love recipe books and my collection is huge. When I was contacted to see if I’d like to review a new vegetarian cook book, well of course I said yes
tibits restaurants were originally launched as a family business over 10 years ago in Switzerland by three brothers, Reto, Christian and Daniel Frei, together with Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, of Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. Now, due to popular demand, tibits has brought out its first collection of recipes, enabling existing fans and those new to the concept alike, to try out the recipes at home for the first time.
These innovative recipes showcase the taste, beauty, and nutrition of produce that’s fresh all year round: the tender young asparagus of spring, the plump juicy berries of summer; the succulent courgettes and butternut squash of autumn, the comforting roots of winter.
tibits at home: stylish vegetarian cuisine is a sumptuous cookbook, split into four seasonal sections, containing 50 recipes that will delight all loyal tibits fans, as well as those who are new to the brand. 80 per cent of tibits’ menu is vegan and many of the recipes in the book are also vegan – good news for the rapidly increasing number of vegans in the UK. In addition, many recipes cater for those on gluten-free and nut-free diets.
Tibits At Home have very kindly allowed me to share a couple of their delicious recipes with you.
tabouli middle-eastern style
If you love fresh parsley and mint, this is for you!
120 g bulgur
250 ml water
2 tsp fine sea salt
150 g baby spinach leaves
50 g fresh mint
40 g fresh coriander (cilantro)
30 g broad leaf parsley
400 g tomatoes
1.5 lemons (juice)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1-2 tbsp chilli oil
Freshly ground white pepper
1 Cook the bulgur in salted water for about 8 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Put into a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2 Pluck the mint and parsley leaves from the stems, wash and chop finely.
3 Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem ends and chop into 1 cm dice.
4 Mix the sauce ingredients and season with pepper.
5 Break up the bulgur with a fork. Add the tomatoes, spinach and herbs and mix carefully. Add the sauce and mix again.
Tabouli is a wonderfully refreshing and nutritious summer dish. We have used bulgur (parboiled and dried durum wheat) instead of the traditional couscous.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
We absolutely loved this recipe in the Brown household and it is now a regular feature on our menu. I tend to serve the tabouli with falafel, pitta bread and sour cream for a more substantial meal and I probably use a dash more chilli oil than the recipe says but we like a little heat
Another recipe which I attempted is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth (I have a bit of a baking obsession at the moment).
Chocolate and coconut macaroons
A sweet delight for grown-ups and children alike!
160 g caster sugar
5 g vanilla sugar
100 g dark chocolate
(45 per cent cocoa content, minimum)
160 g coconut flakes
1 Preheat the oven to 150º C.
2 Mix the caster sugar, with the vanilla sugar. Finely grate the chocolate.
3 Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites until very stiff while drizzling the sugar into the mixture.
4 Carefully fold the chocolate and coconut flakes into the whipped egg white.
5 Spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe small macaroons onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Alternatively, make small heaps of batter with two wet teaspoons. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing the macaroons from the paper.
Tip: for a more intense chocolate flavour, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (water bath). Leave to cool at room temperature, before folding into the beaten egg whites.
Makes 30-40 macaroons
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Now I had visions of creating beautifully piped little macaroons with this recipe but I had a little difficulty piping anything out of the piping bag as the mixture was too solid and so my macaroons were more splodges than anything else BUT they did taste absolutely delicious despite not being the prettiest thing I have ever created. I opted to use melted chocolate as I am a complete chocoholic. These went down a treat with the whole family and will definitely be making another appearance in my baking list.
So what did I think of the book? Well I admit when I initially flicked through the book I was a little disappointed. Some of the recipes are things I wouldn’t try (I’m not a huge fan of tofu) but once I started trying out recipes I was surprised at just how good they were. I found that a recipe that didn’t necessarily sound exciting at first glance was actually delicious and bursting with subtle flavours. I regularly use this recipe book nowadays so yes it’s passed the Brown household test
You can buy a copy of tibits at home from amazon or through tibits website
We are huge fans of the Gruffalo in this house, in fact MissB is a little obsessed with anything Gruffalo related. You can only imagine how excited she was when we received this fabulous Gruffalo umbrella to review from Briers.
Now we think this umbrella is fab! It’s the perfect size for a child, has a great Gruffalo design on it which MissB adores and it’s great at keeping the rain off and bringing smiles to a rainy day
The umbrella has a sturdy plastic handle and a nice and safe rounded end so it won’t become a lethal weapon in the hands of a toddler MissB at age 3 can easily put the umbrella up and down by herself which she is extremely proud of.
I think this umbrella is an absolute bargain at £9.99 and for the amount of smiles it has given I’d definitely recommend one for any Gruffalo fan. In fact go and check out the rest of Briers Gruffalo range, they have some great products for any Gruffalo lover!
We are big fans of Orchard Toys in the Brown household. We have a few of their games already which are played with all the time and whenever we go to birthday parties I usually buy an Orchard Toys game as a present. When they sent us their latest game Pirate Shapes to review, we were more than happy to help
Pirate Shapes is a game for aged 2.5+ and for 2-4 players. The game consists of 4 playing cards with 6 removable shapes in each one. The cards feature pirate scenes which are a huge hit with my two children. We have a thing about pirates in this household with MasterB having to wear an eyepatch for two hours a day to correct his squint
The game itself is simple enough for young children to play, you place all the shapes upside down in the centre and take it in turns to turn one over. If it is a piece that belongs on your playing card then you put it in the correct place, if it isn’t then you turn it back over and the next player has a turn. First to complete their playing card wins.
This game is great for a number of reasons, it teaches shapes, matching colours and also teaches about memory. If you see another player turn over a piece you need then you need to remember where it is so you can turn it over next time. Of course, as with most Orchard Toys games, you don’t have to play in exactly that way and you can make up your own games around the cards. MissB and MasterB love just sitting and completing them all like a jigsaw
Pirate Shapes sells for £9.50 which I think is great value considering how many hours MissB and MasterB sit playing with it together. Any game that gets my children playing happily together and is educational at the same time always gets a big thumbs up from us
MissB is developing a serious shoe addiction and her collection is starting to overtake mine however her favourite wellies had developed a hole and it was so hard persuading her that they needed to go in the bin. Luckily Jelly Egg offered me a pair of boots for her to review at the perfect moment and so she has been distracted from her wellie loss by a pair of gorgeous pink croc boots
Looking through Jelly Eggs website, I was spoilt for choice at their huge selection of shoes available but I eventually narrowed it down to this pair of croc boots simply on the basis that MissB is getting more obsessed with anything pink by the day
It goes without saying that from the minute MissB saw them, we’ve been struggling to get them off her feet! We’ve finally reached the terms that they can be worn outside only after much persuasion. Unfortunately the boots arrived just after the foot of snow we had in the back yard had melted but we’ve still had plenty of mud and puddles to test them out in. Needless to say they aren’t quite as pink and sparkly now I’m sure they will be restored to their lovely pinkness when mummy can get them off her long enough to wash anyway lol.
The top part of the boot is padded and elasticated around the top to keep toes toasty warm and snow and rain out. They must be comfy as MissB would wear them 24/7 if it were up to her The boots sell for £34.99 which is more than I’d usually pay for a pair of wellies but these are lovely, they are warm, waterproof, look cute and more importantly MissB loves them so it would be a price worth paying. I doubt I’ll ever get her to settle for normal wellies again now I think the sizing is always generous with croc shoes and I’m fully expecting these to last MissB through next winter as well.
I’m always looking for ways to make our household more environmentally friendly and to save money so when I was asked to review some Ecozone Eco Balls from BigGreenSmile.Com I was more than happy to help With two toddlers in the house, I seem to permanently have a full washing basket. I must do at least 4-5 loads of washing a week and despite only ever using one tablet in the wash rather than the two as recommended by manufacturers (I’ve always been doubtful about washing powder you see) I still get through rather a lot of washing powder each month. I’ve seen these products around before and I’ve always had a doubt in my mind about whether they can really do the job but I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised and I’m a definite convert!
“100% hypoallergenic, residue-free and anti-bacterial, Eco balls are a more natural alternative to conventional washing powders and are ideal for sensitive skins. If everyone switched to Eco balls, 700,000 fewer tons of detergent would end up in our water system every year.
Ecoballs’ scientifically formulated filling of mineral salts produces ionised oxygen that penetrates deep into fibres, lifting away dirt and grime without fading colours or damaging delicate fabrics.”
What you get in the back is 3 Eco Balls and a tube of stain remover. They are so simple to use I reckon even MissB could do the laundry for me nowadays (not that I’d ever let my toddler play with any detergents of any kind) All you do when washing is place either 2 or 3 of the balls at the back of the drum on top of your washing and wash as normal. You can even reduce your rinse cycle and use even less water as there are so little chemicals that need to be rinsed from your clothes.
As most of my washing is quite heavily soiled (as you can image with two toddlers) with food, paint and whatever else my grubby little children manage to get their hands on, I use all three of the eco balls in each wash and I have been so impressed! I would say my clothes are coming out just as clean as when I use normal washing powder, the only difference is that they don’t have a manufactured flowery smell to them. They smell fresh just not artificial if that makes sense. The clothes feel lovely and soft and as bright as ever.
I’ve been using the balls for a month now and they still seem exactly the same as the day I started using them, if they do last for 1000 washes then at the rate I wash (4 times a week x 52 weeks = 208 washes a year) then these should last me almost 5 years. Now I’m not expecting them to last quite this long as per the box it states that this is how long they would last using an optimum washing cycle of 30 minutes and my wash cycle is 60 minutes. But if they do last me over 2 years then I’d be very happy. There is no mess, no need to remember whether I need to buy washing powder in the supermarket and my clothes are coming out clean, soft, bright and fresh. Yes I’m definitely a complete convert and when these Eco Balls eventually run out then I am definitely going to be buying some refill pellets for £8.99 to top them up again
You can buy the Ecozone Eco Balls from BigGreenSmile.Com for £19.99 which includes 3 eco balls and a tube of stain remover. A great price I think for at least 2-3 years and maybe longer of environment friendly washing
MissB is rather obsessed with dolls at the moment so when Llama Fair Trade got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to review some of their dolls, well I was more than happy to oblige. Looking at their website I just knew that MissB would love them. I chose to receive a Bianca Play Doll and a Phoebe Rag Doll. Llama Fair Trade is a family run company based in Bristol who currently sell a whole range of items which have all been Fairly Traded from reputable suppliers from around the world.
From the moment MissB set eyes on her new dolls she hasn’t let them out of her sight. They go to bed with her every night and she carries them around everywhere. There is something really endearing about rag dolls that I love and MissB obviously feels the same. I think it’s the fact they are huggable whereas plastic dolls aren’t
Another thing I love about these dolls is that they are fair trade and hand made in Sri Lanka. High standards are set where the dolls are made for example:
- No children are employed
- The factory employs 75 full time workers
- Employees are paid 10% more than the minimum wage for garment factory workers stipulated by the Sri Lanka government labour department
- Employees are also paid a living allowance, travel allowance and attendance allowance
- Purified bottled drinking water is provided free of charge
- Tea is provided free of charge
- The factory has an employee canteen area
- The factory is fully furnished with tiled floors and toilet facilities
- Standard 44.5 hour week (8 hours Mon-Fri, 4.5 hours Saturday)
- Employees are granted paid annual leave and all public holidays are respected, including any religious holidays
- All female workers receive paid maternity leave and have the right to return
- Employees are taken on a two day paid company trip every year
- Less able people are employed
Knowing that people aren’t being taken advantage of to produce the dolls and that their standard of living is helped through their work makes the dolls 100 times more appealing in my eyes
I’m extremely impressed with both the dolls we received, the quality is excellent, they really are beautiful and I am actually surprised that they sell for so little, the Bianca Play Doll sells for £12.50 and the large rag dolls £14.
MissB is becoming more and more obsessed with anything princess all the time and so when The Disney Store asked me if I’d like to review something, I saw this Disney Princess Deluxe Figure Playset and I just KNEW MissB would love it It just seemed perfect for MissB who loves playing with little figures at the moment and I wasn’t wrong. From the moment we opened the box MissB has barely let the princesses out of her sight
I admit it’s been a while since I last saw any Disney films but now MissB has reached three we are gradually getting round to watching them. But it does mean my knowledge about all the Disney princesses is pretty rusty, in fact I only recognised Cinderella (I remember the very first film I ever watched at the cinema was Cinderella and so this is the princess that I instantly recognised), Snow White, Belle and Rapunzel (we watched Tangled over Christmas).
We’ve had great fun learning about who all the princesses are together and memorising who is who. MissB is now an expert on Disney Princesses and has patiently been teaching her Daddy what they are all called
The set contains 10 static Disney Princesses, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Ariel, Rapunzel, Aurora, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Tiana. Each one is around 10cm high which is the perfect size for sneaking into pockets and taking them out with us. Not something I usually encourage but when waiting for meals in restaurants it is usually handy to have a couple of toys to keep them occupied
Considering the figures are small, the attention to detail on the outfits and faces is really good and the characters really do resemble the princesses. The set sells for £20 which I think is pretty good value for 10 figures. They have provided hours of fun for MissB and she really has enjoyed playing with them (although I bet in the films they never had to cope with dinosaur attacks and being run over by trains ).
I’m now planning on getting all the disney films so that we can watch them together and see the Princesses in action. I’m particularly eager to see The Princess and The Frog and Mulan. It’s lovely to see my daughter loving the same films that I grew up with and now we can discover the newer Disney films together
The lovely people from Simon and Schuster Children’s Books have sent us a lovely selection of their latest publications to review. My children seriously love books and so any package we receive from Simon and Schuster is eagerly opened.
Snug As A Bug – Tamsyn Murray and Judi Abbot
“Would you prefer to be snug as a bug rolled up in a rug? Like two cosy bats in thick woolly hats? as hot as three pigs in big purple wigs?…Well that’s what George has to decide for himself on a day out at the park with Mum”
I absolutely love this book and so does MissB. With the recent cold spell of weather we’ve been having it is something that we can really relate to and we have had lots of fun practising our counting together over bedtime stories.
The book is beautifully illustrated and so easy to read. I love books which have rhyming text and this book does it so well. It is everything you want in a children’s book, funny, entertaining, educational, bright and colourful and it really is one of my favourite books at the moment There is a link to it on amazon below.
Octonauts and the Undersea Adventure
“Dive into action with the Octonauts as they save some sea creatures from an undersea volcano! When a dangerous volcano threatens to erupt, the Octonauts must evacuate all the sea creatures nearby. But there is one creature that won’t budge – a slow moving, gelatinous Blobfish. Can Captain Barnacles, Kwazii and Peso get the Blobfish to safety before the volcano blows it’s top?”
Something both MissB and MasterB love is seeing books with characters that they recognise from TV. We watch Octonauts on TV most mornings before nursery and it has particular meaning for us as MasterB has to wear eye patches every day so we like Kwazii the Octonaut who also wears an eye patch. MasterB even has his own cuddly Kwazii that we got him for Christmas
This book is based around a tv episode we have already seen. I like the little fact boxes that it has as you go through the book explaining things such as volcanos and blobfish. We particular like blobfish If your children like Octonauts then these books are great little books. Watch out for other books in the Octonauts series also being published in January and February. With our current obsession for sticker books, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Desert Island Doodle and Sticker Book . I’ve included links to all the new titles on amazon below.
Mike The Knight and The Real Sword
“Mike is desperate for Evie, his fun and free-spirited sister who is a wizard in training, to change his enchanted sword back to a real sword – as a real knight needs a real sword! But when Evie’s spell goes wrong, Mike has to learn to make the best of what he has got.”
Mike the Knight is another popular TV program in this household and so unsurprisingly this book was very well received. MissB loved pointing out all the familiar characters to me. She loves Sparkie and Squirt the two dragons As is always the way with Mike the Knight, there is a lesson to be learnt and doing it right is always the way Any Mike the Knight fan would love this book, along with a couple of other titles being release in January. I particularly like the look of Dragons on the Loose which is a hardback push and pop up book! I’ve included links to all the latest titles on amazon below
Just before Christmas, we received a lovely bundle of goodies all wrapped up in a Christmas stocking from Warner Bros. It contained chocolate (always a bonus), candy canes and three great DVD’s to watch. It’s been a rather hectic Christmas in the Brown household so I’ve only just got round to writing about them now
The first DVD was Polar Express, fabulous festive viewing for the family MasterB and MissB loved the whole train thing but they are still a little young to make it the entire way through the film but I have a feeling it is going to get brought out and played in the run up to Christmas every year from now on
“It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re about to roller-coaster up and down mountains, slip-slide over ice fields, tetter across mile-high bridges and be served hot chocolate by singing waiter more astonishing than any you can ever imagine. You’re on The Polar Express!
Tom Hanks stars in and Robert Zemeckis directs this instant holiday classive filmed in dazzling performance-capture animation that makes every home magical.”
I really love this film and I really hope MissB and MasterB grow to love it too! It’s one of those lovely films which you just HAVE to watch in the run up to Christmas. There is something so magical about it and it even has me wondering whether I should be listening out for the bells on Christmas Eve.
If you have kids then you MUST have this DVD in your collection!
Second up was The Dark Knight Rising
“It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.
But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.”
Action films are something I haven’t seen much of in the last couple of years. I think it’s because my TV now seems to be controlled by toddlers and I’m lucky if I can watch anything other than In The Night Garden and Mickey’s Club House I don’t really know what I was expecting with this, it’s been a while since I last saw a Batman film and I was surprised at just how much I got into this one.
It’s action packed from the word go and I found myself really drawn into it. Of course a nice set of abs encased in black rubber always helps The special effects are spectacular and I’d love to watch it in 3D, I bet it is amazing! If you love action films then this is definitely one to watch, it has a fast moving plot, great action and a good story line. It didn’t disappoint!
and finally, we spent New Years Eve watching the rather aptly named New Years Eve When you have two toddlers and nobody to babysit then New Years Eve is more about sitting by the fire, with a bottle of champagne watching films
“New Year’s Eve” celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, with intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.”
This film is pretty much everything you need for an enjoyable evening, although the story line does jump around a little which can get a little confusing when you are half way through a bottle of champagne I admit I may have lost track of the plot a little at some points but it all came together in the end.
The connections between the characters as the plot progresses add an interesting element and it pretty much has everything you need in a romcom from births, deaths and even a bit of Bon Jovi thrown in for good measure I am a big Bon Jovi fan so it was guaranteed to be a hit for me from the minute I knew he was in it! I really enjoyed watching it, my husband wasn’t too enthralled by it but romcom’s aren’t really his thing. I think it’s definitely one for the ladies rather than the men!