It’s great when your little one starts to love the characters from a TV show. In terms of development it helps them to learn about empathy and of course it is great for imaginative play long after the show has ended.

It’s not great when they develop said obsession 11 days AFTER Christmas. Moose had absolutely no interest whatsoever in PJ Masks before this but when it hit. Boy, did it hit!

For anyone who’s not in the know

PJ Masks is a series about a group of 3 six year old children. By day Amaya, Greg and Connor are normal kids but by night they don their PJ’s, activate their animal amulets and they become their superhero alter egos: Owlette, Gecko and Catboy!

This is one of the few shows which Moose loves that I quite like too. The animation is cute, the characters are pretty cool and well, it’s not Peppa or Bing.

Moose was given the special superhero assignment of taking a look at the new PJ Masks Let’s Go DVD in exchange for our honest opinion of it and we were happy to oblige!

 

pj masks dvd

The DVD comes in a nice presentation sleeve and includes some stickers which Moose loved! The whole thing runs at 72 mins which is enough time to write a blog post about the PJ Masks DVD or cook dinner and tidy a kitchen or just browse Pinterest (I have checked and double checked and this is accurate)

There are 6 episodes included on the DVD. I won’t say too much because, spoilers! Suffice to say, Moose was thoroughly entertained.

The episodes are called

  • Gekko & the Snore-A-Saurus
  • Catboy and the Shrinker
  • Blame it on the train, Owlette
  • Looking After Gekko
  • Catboy’s Tricky Ticket
  • Clumsy Catboy

pj masks

Moose tells me that his favourite is Gekko & the Snore-A-Saurus. This is no great shock as we see a lot of Gecko impressions at home at the moment.

There were a couple of episodes on the DVD which I am sure we have seen on Tv but to have them all grouped together (thus avoiding adverts) is really handy. Plus, at this age children will not tire of rewatching those episodes anytime soon.

I have no doubt that Moose will enjoy PJ Masks ‘Let’s Go’ over and over and over and over and over and over again…

PJ Masks Let’s Go is available to buy now!

 

January is a bit of a busy month for us. In amongst the ever growing list of birthdays is my nephew Kieran’s. This year he turned 9 and as he is one of our favourite Humans we all wanted to make it memorable for him.

When I was asked to test out a Pirate Party Kit from Baking Mad I knew exactly who we should throw a party for!

Baking Mad sell a kit which provides you with almost everything you need to make an awesome Pirate Cake with a surprise chocolate bean centre.

Included in your kit you will find

  • Allinson Self Raising Flour (1kg)
  • Silver Spoon Icing Sugar (500g)
  • Billington’s Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar (500g)
  • Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract (60ml)
  • Black Icing Writing Pen
  • Pirate Cupcake Kit with Cupcake Cases + Toppers
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Brilliant White 250g
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Black 250g
  • Chocolate Beans 250g
  • Cake Board – 10”
  • Recipe and Instruction Booklet

The kit doesn’t come with butter and eggs. I would say that these are things you would probably have already but since you need 9 eggs in total, you will probably need to make that trip to the shops!

The recipe says you need 500g icing sugar but I didn’t have enough and ended up adding another box to my shopping list along with those 9 eggs and 3 packs of butter – I will concede that I did make my buttercream layers quite thick!

I am not a cake maker so this was a great experience but I did also need to buy equipment. Cake tins and a palette knife for smoothing – I accept that these are things which most people own though.

The kit arrived in a lovely lidded box tied with baking mad ribbon. I really felt that the ingredients and the decorations were of a great quality and really well presented.

Kieran happened to pay me a visit a couple of days before his birthday so I showed him the kit and he was really excited. He wanted to help me make the cake so I spent a lovely evening with him baking his birthday cake!

The instructions were easy to follow but I would have liked to have had a page of tips to help out clueless non bakers like me! Luckily I was able to call my Mum and she helped me out.

Tips from my Mum

  • To get the buttercream to lay with a nice flat finish use a hot palette knife. I use a jug of boiling water (drying the knife first of course)
  • Add milk if the icing is too thick
  • Cool the cake thoroughly before icing
  • Use a sharp knife to level the sides of the cake to give an even finish.

I was pretty happy with the finished result!

 

Kierans birthday was a great success! He and his friends all enjoyed the cake (especially when it was cut open to reveal the surprise chocolate inside!) and had lots of fun playing with the Baking Mad Pirate Hats (available to purchase on the Baking Mad website)

I found the process of using a party cake kit a really interesting one. Although I think the cost of the kit might limit how much I would use the service I think it is a great way to introduce yourself to creating a really special birthday cake.

Disclaimer: This was a collaborative post. I received the Party cake kit in return for an honest review

Persuading me to go to the Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough and spend money in the January sales was never going to be a hard sell. 

westgate arcade

As someone who has been self employed for some time, the January sales are usually something I avoid. My work making wedding cake toppers is seasonal and by January we are really feeling the pinch.

It doesn’t mean I am not in the mood to shop though! My challenge on this occasion seemed quite simple.. 

I met up with Jaymee from The Mum Diaries and we of course started our day right by going for breakfast and thinking about how we could complete our individual tasks. Nobody procrastinates like us! 

I did consider buying clothes but a) I have clothes and b) it’s not really outside my comfort zone and c) I’m hoping any day now to wake up a size 10 thus making any clothing bought now surplus to requirements. 

We thought the best approach would be to go and take a look around Queensgate to see what is on offer for those shopping the January sales. Spoiler; there is quite a lot!

During our browsing we actually found shops I didn’t even know existed especially in  Westgate arcade. I will definitely be venturing down there to visit Back To Life – the vintage clothing shop – as well as Style which sells all sorts of gift items.

I headed back to Pulse later the same day to get Bess’s ears pierced and you can read about that soon

Outside of my comfort zone

After some deliberation (call it overthinking if you like) I decided that my challenge could be a great aid to my plan for 2018. New year, new – healthier – me.

I want to learn how to cook! Currently our meals are made using pans which have been handed down to us from various Grandparents or Aunts. Definitely not something I would usually buy.

I headed to Lakeland to see whether they could help. I was in luck!

lakeland sales

The Lakeland sales are officially my favourite! So many lovely (not to mention useful) things at massive reductions. It was quite tough to select from what was on offer because I would have used most of it but here is what I chose

1) 2.1 Litre Casserole Dish

Casserole dishes usually favour function over form, but this stainless steel stunner straddles the gap between oven and table effortlessly. With an elegant, streamlined design based on a Korean rice-making bowl, it has a large rim all the way round instead of paired handles, so it’s really easy to remove from your oven. And the construction ensures it’s not a triumph of form over function, either: with an aluminium core fused between two layers of stainless steel, it provides incredibly even heat distribution with no hot spots and great durability. Also, less washing up!

2) 3 Piece Frying Pan Set

I thought that these pans looked and felt really high in quality and they were reduced to under half price! The raised honeycomb pattern on their base elevates your food to keep it from sticking as you cook, and means it won’t absorb as much oil so it’s a bit healthier too.

3) Knife and Scissors

Swap your chopping knife and board for these one-of-a-kind kitchen scissors and change the way you prepare raw fruit, veg – or even meat – forever.

Incredibly sturdy and easy to hold, their spring-loaded soft-grip handles mean they look more like secateurs than scissors and make it possible to cut through even tougher veg like carrots and leeks with just a simple squeeze.

Featuring only one extra-sharp straight-edged, stainless steel cutting blade and a second flat-edged ‘board’ which acts as a stop for the blade to close against, their clever design allows you to chop, slice or dice with a lot less effort, away from the worktop and straight into your cooking pot or salad bowl.

4) Chef’n® Corn Stripper

Every single time I cook sweetcorn on the cob at least one person complains that they prefer it off the cob. Easy solution for them = less headaches for me! I haven’t see this gadget before but I think it’s fab!

 

I am really pleased with my little haul and the savings were awesome! The total cost of the things I chose should have been £104.96 but altogether they came to a grand total of £45.46 

Now I feel ready to face 2018 and get cracking with my plan to learn how to widen my culinary repertoire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be a challenge to shop for older children who aren’t really young enough for toys . Whether they are 11 going on 27 or a relative you don’t see often we have some great ideas!

 

giftguide

1 Wise(ish) words for everyone *

Each unique book of Wise(ish) Words is crammed with stunning design where you choose the style and colours and to what extent you’d like the wise(ish) words to be heartfelt or cheeky, and hit create. You can edit at every stage to lovingly tailor the book’s mottos and maxims even further for the child you have in mind.

2 Telescope*

Navigate the stars using the ‘Star walk 2’ smartphone app – winner of an apple design award. A night sky guide app for smartphone. Use the enclosed adaptor to Mount your smartphone on the telescope, making it easy to use the app to find and identify the stars. Comes with 2 eyepieces 16.6mm, 8.3mm, erector lens (21x microscope, diagonal mirror). for ages 8 years and over.

3 Smiggle Stocking Fillers*

Who doesn’t like stationery? Why not fill their stocking with a selection of Smiggle goodies

4 Heelys*

Heelys have wheels in their heel, allowing a wearer to walk, run or roll, by shifting their weight to their heel. Heelys provide a huge amount of fun and can even be turned into normal shoes by removing the wheels. Skates.co.uk has a fabulous buyers guide which makes selecting the right pair a lot easier

5 Liquid Lava Putty*

You won’t be able to keep your hands off Liquid Lava Putty!

Stretch it, squish it or simply let it ooze through your hands. Liquid Lava Putty is super versatile and tons of fun to play with.  Break it up then stick it back together again – the possibilities are endless!

6 Mermaid Tail

Who wouldn’t want to have an actual mermaid tail?! With the added magic monofin you will cutting through the water like, well, a mermaid in no time!

7 Pass the Pigs

Pass the pigs is a great choice for older children, check out our review for more details!

*samples received for me to try out before inclusion

We had never taken the children to a pantomime before so when we were kindly invited to watch Sleeping Beauty at the Key Theatre we were happy to accept! 

I have been to see other productions at the Key. However, as much as I love the theatre I don’t get the opportunity to go as much I would like to. I am definitely intending on changing this in 2018! Call it a resolution if you like. 

p

We awoke on the morning of the pantomime to find that overnight the snow had settled covering our street in a blanket of white. As beautiful as the snow looks it’s not really practical when you have things to do.

I did wonder whether the pantomime would go ahead at all but one look at twitter and it became clear that it would take more than a bit of dodgy weather to stop this show. 

key theatre

The show must go on

We got to theatre a little later than planned thanks to a bit of trouble with the parking machine. Parking at the theatre is chargeable. 

Collecting our tickets from the box office was simple and the queue was thankfully a fast moving one. We hurried to our seats and waited excitedly for the show to begin! The Key Theatre do have booster seats available but thanks to its gradient seating and the small person in front of him, Moose didn’t need boosting.

key theatre

As any parent of large age gap children knows, it is sometimes difficult to find an activity which entertains both children at a similar level. The pantomime can definitely be added to that (short) list. 

From the moment that Fairy PD walked out onto the stage both Bess and Moose were hooked. I had been a bit apprehensive that 135 minutes would be a bit much for Moose to sit through but he was utterly transfixed by it all. 

theatre

Carabosse (the bad fairy) was a surprise hit with both of the children. When asked who his favourite was, Moose said the bad fairy because he liked shouting BOOOOO. Bess loved her Taylor Swift parody. She really was a fabulous character and probably my favourite too!

135 minutes could have been a bit long

As I said previously, I had my doubts. To be honest I wasn’t sure MrG would like it. He is quite grumpy about these things and has said in the past that he doesn’t really “get” the appeal. Even he was laughing at the carefully constructed adult jokes which flew straight over the children’s heads and although he did say he felt like there was a lot of music (no less than 15 songs) I caught him humming along… 

In the interval Grandma Chicken (not a panto character, just a nickname for my Mum created by Bess which stuck) bought some goodies. We were pleasantly surprised that the prices for snacks were really very reasonable. The children had a pack which cost £3.50 and contained; popcorn, fruit shoot, packet of buttons and a pot of ice cream. I had some popcorn £2 and a bottle of coke £2. Moose ate his in the correct way by tipping the chocolate buttons into the popcorn. He gave me his ice cream as (and I quote) “it was too cold”. Kids are odd. 

There were also flashing wands and swords available. I decided not to buy one as Moose hadn’t spotted them and I was pretty sure him having one would result in some kind of injury (to someone else) but they too were not badly priced at less than £5 each. 

 

If you haven’t booked tickets then I think you should

It’s a very traditional family friendly panto with the usual audience participation and funny lines to shout.  The Panto follows the story of Aurora who is cursed at her naming ceremony by Carabosse (the spurned former fiance of the King) and is sent to live with the 3 good fairies as their niece until her 18th birthday to escape Carabosse’s curse. There to help along the way was Jingle the Jester. 

The cast were all fabulous! Jingle the Jester and Queen Iona Trumpet especially were very funny. I was really impressed by the set and costumes too! It all felt really polished – Bess wasn’t sure whether Carabosse getting the giggles was part of the show but it was amusing nonetheless.

We found the show to be fun, engaging for all ages and really a great way to introduce the children to the theatre. I will feel a lot more confident taking Moose to future productions. 

Will we return? Oh yes we will!

queen igotta trumpet

Disclaimer: We were given tickets to watch the pantomime in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.