Joanne

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Living Arrows- 7th week in lockdown

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” by Kahlil Gibran I’ve not posted anything about lock down and how we are getting on with it on my blog…

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Review | Learning Resources Coding Critters™ 

 

Disclosure- I was sent this product in return for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

During this time of lock down, continually finding things to do with the children that is both fun and educational becomes harder and harder; particularly with the younger ones. Emily does not sit still for a minute – she even fidgets while she sleeps, so finding things to continually engage and entertain her in a single day is a challenge.

Coding is a fun way to engage children’s logical brain. You set a challenge and they have to solve them. However, doing this with a cute little rabbit that you control through coding is even better!

Learning resources- Coding critters

What are coding critters?

Coding CrittersTM Bopper and her two bunny pals, Hip and Hop are here to help introduce your little ones into the world of coding. There is a story book that you can follow that makes the introduction to coding both interactive and fun to read through, plus there is a swing, slide and set that you can set up, either for fun or as obstacles for your little one to negotiate around as Bopper searches for the elusive carrot.

Learning resources- Coding critters

 

Whats in the box?

Inside the box is an instruction booklet (this one is for you as there are very little pictures), a reading book (instruction booklet for the little one), Bopper ( you will need x3 AAA batteries which are not included), her tree house swing, slide, little bunny, coding direction cards and a magnetic carrot.

Inside the Pair-a-pets adventure pack is two bunnies called Fluffy & Buffy, food, food bowl, coding cards and a 20-page coding storybook.

 

How to play?

To start with, read through the instruction booklet first as the adult. This will help you understand how to use the function keys on the back of Bopper’s back. Once you have done that, sit down with your little one and read through the story of Bopper’s day. Use this to set up the carrot and ask them to programme your Bopper to act out the story in the book.

Learning resources- Coding critters

Learning resources- Coding critters

It took Emily a couple of goes but with questions, asking her to put down the coding cards and play out the story she was coding Bopper quite quickly. Once we went through the story, she was allowed to play as she wanted. Making Bopper push the swing, playing with the slides and Bopper’s pals was a lot of fun.

What did we think?

We have had a few coding toys in the past – see Botley post – which was great for Lydia and Leo, but Emily would struggle with them, although she did still enjoy having a go. Bopper breaks down the instructions in an interactive and fun way. The story gave her something to read and the interaction with the friend in connection with Bopper is quite unique and certainly added a playful element to the coding (something other coding robots dont have).

It is easy to use and fun to play with. We had a bit of an issue with the swing in the tree, as it wouldn’t sit properly, but David was able to sort it out so that it could be used without any real issue. Overall Coding Critters Bopper is fun to play with and the coding is straight forward. Engaging Bopper’s play mode made Emily laugh and adds another dimension to the toy. We really enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone who has little ones that enjoy toys and an interest in coding.

Read our Botley review here  You can buy Bopper here.

Learning resources- Coding critters

Soft chewy cookie recipe

For years I have been using this recipe to make cookies, my kids tell me that they are the best cookies they have ever tasted and always request that I bake more.

Like a lot of people, I have been getting my bake on during this lock down and this recipe has been quite a popular with people asking for it over on Facebook and Instagram so here it is.

 

Cookie ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 225g Self raising flour
  • 125g Caster sugar
  • 125g soft butter
  • 100g Light brown soft sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

If you want use smarties then you will need to wait for the cookies to come out of the oven and add them whilst they are still soft so that they sink in nicely on top.

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180c, gas mark 4
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars and then combine the egg and the vanilla extract.
  3. Sift in the flour and the salt
  4. I then made small balls and place them on to a grease lined baking tray.  ( Sometimes I put the other half of the dough into a freezer bag and freeze it for quick baking  on another day.
  5. I bake these for 7 minutes and keep a close eye on them as you will need to take them out as soon as you see light browning round the edges. They wont look done but they are.
  6. As soon as you take them out, keep them on the tray and add your smarties to them.
  7. Transfer them onto a cooling after 5-10 minutes (depending on the size) If you do it too soon the cookie will sink into the cooling tray rack.

 

 

AD-gifted | Shopkins Real Littles™ review

REAL BRANDS, REAL CUTE

Real Littles sees your favourite brands turned into Shopkins! Shopkins Real Littles™ are the same brands you find in the supermarkets – just made mini! Take home a basket full of brands and make your own real looking store – just smaller!

Ad/gifted products- We received these products in exchange for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Series 2 of Shopkins Real littles have just got even cooler and now the Real Littles characters have come from the frozen aisles in the supermarket; from popsicles to frozen drinks! The range includes brands like WALL’S, SLUSH PUPPIES, KELLOGG’S and so many more! Over 50 to collect.

What we were sent:

  1. 1 pack – with NEW Melt away packaging- RRP £3.99
  2. Shopper Packs – Look out for the ultra rare, special edition and limited edition characters. –RRP £11.99
  3. The Stacy Cakes & Icy Treats Scooter playset – RRP £29.99

First impressions:

It doesn’t look very much from the photo so I will break it down and tell you about the packs separately and explain in the order they are above.

  1. This is a one pack blind bag with melt away packaging which was really fun to do. Just grab a tea towel and a bowl and dunk the whole thing in the water and watch the packaging disappear, which will take a minute to do. Lift out to reveal two mini Shopkins; open the little tops and inside is a blind bag.
  2. Shopper Packs – Although didn’t look it on first glance, this pack is good value for money (in my opinion). The packaging made me think we were getting something in the Popsicle and Neapolitan packs, but in fact they are just pieces of cardboard. However, upon opening we got the Shopkins character and case, that you can see on the front, but inside the Choco Taco’s packaging there were lots of surprises awaiting – more than it seemed at first glance.

    7 more surprises to unbox!

    Both Lydia and Emily were both very surprised to find all of these hidden Shopkins characters inside the Choco Taco packaging and I was too. They had great fun un-boxing these and seeing what mini brands and new Shopkins they got.

 

3. The Stacy Cakes & Icy Treats Scooter playset – In this play set you get a Stacey cakes doll and an Icy Treats scooter with two Shopkins characters. The doll comes wearing removable shoes and skirt, which you can swap and change with others dolls from the same range.  I personally wouldn’t pay £29.99 for this play set, however, Emily does love playing with it and thinks it’s amazing.

And of course with every cool collectible you get a collectors guide inside with the different categories and uniqueness as well as limited editions, which you can see below:

My overall opinion of Real little Shopkins is that they provide good play value, I love the little branded boxes they come in, Milly loves using them alongside her cash register toy when playing with her sister. I love that they have added a NEW Shopkins doll to the collection too.

 

Where to buy:

 Shopkins Real Littles™ are now available to  buy online from Smyths, Entertainer, Tesco and Asda

 

You can also go to their website www.shopkinsreallittles.co.uk where there are chances to win prizes and lots more.

My DIY on a budget Kitchen makeover

I have been so excited about writing this post and showing you guys what I have been up to.

My favourite group on Facebook  is a group called DIY ON A BUDGET. I am obsessed with it and I love seeing peoples creativity on there, it’s inspiring and the best part is that most of what you see is affordable and achievable.

One particular project I have been wanting to have a go at is giving my kitchen a makeover by painting my kitchen cupboards and changing how it looks. Now that it is mostly finished I wanted to share it with you.

This is a before photo: ( please excuse the quality as I had to dig them out of old photos)

After:

If you want to know how I did it and what I did then keep reading.

What you need:

The first thing I had to decide on is what brand, and what colour I wanted to go for and after scrolling through so many inspo photos on diy on a budget, I decided I would go for Wilkos quick dry furniture and cupboard paint in the colour mineral stone.  (I used 1 and a half tins in total for my kitchen)

You will also need to buy a bottle of sugar soap (£2.50) and foam roller. I brought mine from Wilko’s as it was all the same place but brought extra foam rollers from screw fix. Bare in mind that this paint is satin so you will also need to buy some white spirit to clean your tray. I chucked my foam heads away after being used and used a new one as it can get quite messy and I did this over a few days.

Prepping your cupboards

Do not skip using sugar soap because it does actually make a huge difference to the finish and after all, what is the point of even carrying on if you are not going to do it properly. The sugar soap cleans all the grease and oils off the cupboards and preps them ready for the paint.

I kept my cupboard doors attached when I painted mine and just took the kitchen handles off.

Getting started

As you can see in the photos, my cupboards are all melamine which is a low pressure laminate covering. I was very nervous about applying my first coat, I even closed my eyes tightly whilst doing the first roll. There was absolutely no need for me to be worried because it went on so smooth and neat. I managed to complete the first coat to my whole kitchen in just over an hour.

Cutting in

I am a total neat freak so precision is essential for me or I wouldn’t be happy. As this paint is an oil based paint, I decided that a pack of baby wipes would be my best friend for this part.

I found a thin paintbrush, when in hindsight I should of just used my cutting in brush, but I didn’t want to throw it away after using it which is what I did with this. I used the brush to get as close to the edges as possible and then wrapped a baby wipe round my finger to wipe off the excess.

A second coat

I did a second coat on the cupboards just because I could still see patches of the brown underneath. The tin says that this is a quick drying paint and that statement is true, however, when they say quick dry they mean it doesn’t stay wet for long before becoming tacky, but as I did mine in the evening and by the time I woke up it was dry. It also takes three days to harden up properly and when it does, it really does.

Kick boards

I have never had the need to take my kick boards off before doing this and always wondered how to take them off and its simple, they are clipped on so you just have to pull them out paint them. I only did one coat for these but did add more paint for a thicker covering, as I couldn’t be bothered to do two coats, and they look great.

The finish

Quite simply the finish is beyond what I expected and everything I had hoped it would look like. Just take care not to press hard when rolling otherwise you will get lines, and be careful for drips because they look horrible when dried; I have a few but you can’t see them thankfully, unless you are really looking.

 

The only other things I changed in my kitchen was my flooring and lighting.

Floors– If you are local to Peterborough then I can highly recommend Sean and Gemma from Affordable Floorings. They have done a fantastic job and it looks great.

Lighting– The lighting in my kitchen was depressing; so dark and dull and it made me feel miserable. Now we have a bright LED light which we brought for about  £17 off Amazon and it’s now a happy bright room which I now like being in.

Paint– I have not re-painted my walls but plan on doing them soon.

Tiles– I want these tiles but I am still undecided. What do you think?  Let me know in the comments.

 

Worktops– My worktop is dark and has light grey specks in which goes with the grey in my new flooring so I kept them as they are.