Saturday, 23 August 2014

M&S Sleepwell Bedding Review....

It has to be said I am not the best of sleepers, and often struggle to get a decent nights sleep. A good night for me would be a solid 6 hours sleep on an average night and I can at times wake up tired and unrefreshed. I strive to get a better sleeping pattern and am aware much of my habit revolves around things going over and over in my mind and staying awake when I should be fast asleep. I also have a shoulder complaint so it can get really tricky even getting comfortable. I love to search out products that could better aid my sleep and have used candles, pillow mists and various sleep inducing items along my path to getting better nights kip. I would say the husband is a pretty normal sleeper, whereas I flap around all over the place kicking off covers (and him at times) as I get too warm and stuffy.

I was recently offered the opportunity to review the Keep Cool bedding range from M&S that could hopefully help to create a better sleep environment in which to gain some much needed Zzzz's. I looked forward to trying it out as M&S are well known for producing some great, high quality bed linen and the Sleepwell range is climate controlled so its aim is to keep one nice and comfortably cool, which is great for me as someone who gets very hot and bothered! 

First up I made some simple notes of my sleeping habits a few days before trying out the range. 


 It soon became apparent why I may not be getting the sleep I so wanted...

* I was going to bed far too late - 10.30 - 11pm is my ideal go to bed time.
* Bedroom feels stuffy.
* I was nibbling on foods way past 9pm - not great for digestion.
* Struggled to 'switch off' my mind.
* Shoulder painful and I couldn't seem to get a comfortable position. 

So you can see not great, my plan was to improve these bad habits first before trying out the bedding range, go to bed earlier, maybe read a book. Open a small window, no nibbling after 9pm, and thankfully my shoulder is getting some professional physiotherapy so should be getting better. I have also read a small glass of water before bed can help so tried that too. 

Next it was time to get the bed ready using the Sleepwell bedding. There's something lovely about making a new bed using new and clean sheets and I soon wanted to dive in. One thing I noticed straight away was how silky soft to the touch, the Sleepwell range was.


Time to get the duvet in the cover! 


I was really looking forward to seeing what the sleepwell pillows were like. As well as having the natural fibre Tencel which is cooling, the Tencel mix inside filling is soft and supportive too. 


The pillow cases come in cute little buttoned up bags to keep them in - perfect for taking the pillow cases on holiday when there are hot balmy nights. Loving attention to detail I really liked this touch. 


Once the bedding was all on, which included a fitted sheet, it was time to get the candles out too, I love this Pea Pod scented candle, again from M&S. If you wish you can peel back the sticker to reveal the paint board area underneath to write your own chalk message, I have kept the original sticker on for now. 


 Yay!! Time to dive in...


I was feeling rather lazy so opted not to wash/iron the bedding before first use, so you can still see the fold marks, however I knew this would not compromise my sleep experience and was too eager to just climb in!  

Hmmmm, I think pretty and twinkling lights are required for this special occasion! We're in the middle of doing a makeover in the bedroom so please excuse the bare plastered wall which is soon awaiting some jazzy wallpaper.


Once in the bed, I stuck to my new regime and grabbed a little inspiring book I love to read...


And soon I was in the land of Zzzzzzz.

So, how did my night go? Well I can happily say I had a really decent nights sleep, and although I am sure the comfortable and cool bed linen helped, not sucumbing to my usual bad sleep habits had made a big difference too. I really didn't want to get out of my happy place.


I found the duvet the best I had ever tried and definitely helped to make for a comfy night - I didn't feel hot and bothered as usual which is probably down to the bedding being temperature regulated so kept me cool. With the bedding being white, and the softness, I did feel I was sleeping within a big squishy cloud! Soon it was time to make up the bed and I really looked forward to bed time again!


Both the husband and I have had some lovely night's sleep using this range and I'll have to wait and see if the bedding washes well, but I am hoping it is as good as other M&S bedding we have that seems to come out really well and is long lasting. In fact we were given some M&S bedding as a wedding gift nearly 15 years ago - and yes we still use it! 

Hopefully this shall last just as long.


X

Disclosure: We were provided with items from the M&S Sleepwell bedding range to review for the purposes of this blog post. All words and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Netflix Review (Part 2)....



Having posted part 1 of our Netflix Review here it was time to get a better idea of why we love Netflix so much! Although individually we all look forward to some chill out time with Netflix on our own devices, its when we come together as a family that Netflix for me really comes into it's own. During this holiday season we've had no specific family holiday, apart from the occasional weekend away, so it has been nice to come back to that cinema experience that Netflix offers at home after a day out. Sounds a cliché - but yes we like to get the bowls of popcorn out to enhance the experience! We definately use Netflix to relax and unwind - the man of the house is not what one would call a film buff as it were, but he has really enjoyed some quiet time with us to watch a movie. Having a busy work life, and starting a new job it has been good for him to 'escape' for a short while. One film we enjoyed was Opal Dream, about a young girl, Kellyanne who has two invisible friends, Poppy and Dingan and soon becomes ill after they disappear one day. This film evokes lessons of family loyalty, faith and compassion and certainly got us all talking about it long after it had finished. I guess I'm naturally bit of a homebird so look forward to snuggling up on the couch and this family time. The children also see it as bit of a treat, especially when the popcorn gets in on the act!

Here they are sharing what they love about netflix.



We don't often get to the cinema, so the children especially enjoy their film watching at home and there is certainly an impressive choice of films for them to choose from. I really like that we can all set up our own profiles and although a little restricted, there are some simple parental controls one can set up for each profile. So for myself and my husband we have access on our profile's to all adult movies, Master P older kids, and Miss P the the 'teen' stuff. 


Of course you can't block certain profiles being seen by others on devices, however so far the parental controls on offer work for us as a family and the children like using their own profiles, which makes them feel quite grown up and they don't wander over to anyone else's. They understand what's meant for them to watch and what isn't and always use their own personal profile on devices. However perhaps settings could be set up on a device by device basis, or profiles be password protected. This is something Netflix could look into maybe, and that would make the current settings much stricter for parents who want to be 100% confident young viewers can only view age appropriate content on devices. Just to note it can take upto 8 hours for parental controls to take effect.

With all this in mind I think communication is the key and we have open discussions at home about what is suitable viewing. Miss P who is quite old for her years and mature minded, occasionally watches things that may not be available on her 'teen' profile but she always checks first and we both make sure is ok to watch.

Anything that makes me blub is always good viewing for me, I love a film that makes me cry - and here I am watching Ghost for probably the 100th time!! The dog also wanted to get in on the fun and games too!



So Netflix works for us in many ways, to bring us all together to help create some family time, for the pre - teen who loves to get her school friends around to watch a cheesy movie on sleepover nights, for when someone in the house is feeling a little under weather, lying on the couch with a little netflix time and chicken soup really helps to take some time out and recharge the batteries. For the busy husband who works, works, works and yet relishes a sit down with his wifey to watch a gripping drama series, for when the weather is rubbish and I have an 8 year old boy on my hands twiddling his little thumbs, only a sit down with Horrid Henry will do!

We plan to keep up our Netflix subscription for the foreseeable future and the fact that initially one sitting as a family in front of a 'screen' can perhaps not be seen as valuable time, it certainly is for us as things we watch evoke discussion, talk, chitter chatter, even a little romance! So as far as entertainment goes for us, Netflix gets a bit thumbs up!! 


X

Disclosure: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network research panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services and events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or paid to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.  


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

MU Cheese at The National Football Museum....

After our MU Cheese event that I blogged about here we were given an opportunity to take home some of the MU Cheese that is exclusively available from Tesco and see what we thought. I have to say I am a big cheese fan and there aren't many cheeses I don't like. We were all eager to tuck in and have a taste when we got home!


A favourite with the children was the 100% Medium Cheddar Discs - these are super handy to pop on pizza's, sandwiches etc but my two just liked munching on them as a little snack on the go. 

I loved the MU Mature Cheddar block, and found it perfect for grating on top of pasta dishes and we love it sprinkled on mash. Being a mature cheddar, it definitely adds a little more flavour to the dish, and it's also really convenient that it comes in a resealable pack! 


Of course, if I'm feeling a little lazy I can bring out the MU Grated Cheddar, and again that comes in it's own resealable bag. As we often like to have a little bowl of sprinkled cheese on the table at dinner times, it's so easy to grab a little from the bag, and voila all done! 


I think Mu Cheese is very reasonably priced, and we have picked up more on a recent visit to Tesco. The cheese definitely gets the thumbs up from us all, even the man of the house who isn't really a cheese fan! 

The event was held at the The National Football Museum in Manchester - and I think I would have had a very sad son on my hands if I turned this invitation down, he's just mad about football! OK, so even I was a little excited too. With no big summer holiday planned this summer, days out were always going to be the key with my family and after the cheese tasting and some groovy dancing with George Sampson, we were free to mooch around the museum. It was fabulous!!


With many people on a budget over the summer, it's great that the football museum is free, yes free!! You can experience Football Plus+ and purchase 'credits' that give you the opportunity to play certain football related activities as you walk around. But a little pocket money would definately get you some credits to have fun with. 


We arrived a little early for the event and the children enjoyed a little play time in the football themed park near the venue. 



It certainly got them in the football mood!


The football museum was super fun and I have to say I was intrigued by all the football facts I learnt walking around and even had a go at being a pretend football match commentator (credits required) - the children couldn't contain their laughter watching me really getting involved!


Using up some more credits Master P enjoyed his Penalty Shootout.


And there were games to play that no credits were required for which the children loved.


I would thoroughly recommend the Football Museum, it has much to offer and we look forward to going back.


A great day had by all!!

X

Disclosure : We received complimentary MU Chesse products to sample for the purposes of this review post. We also received credits to use at The National Football Museum. All words and opinions my own.  

Friday, 15 August 2014

Netflix Review (Part 1)....


I love to watch a great television series at home and was desperate to jump on the 'Breaking Bad' bandwagon. I was therefore really eager to sign up to Netflix a while ago and which is available anywhere in the UK with wifi, on many devices, including mobiles, tablets, televisions and even games consoles. I was hooked straight away to the popular show. Wanting to watch this series in truth was the main reason I initially signed up and in my mind it was only going to be a short term thing. I was thinking I'd cancel the subscription once I'd watched Breaking Bad. I figured the £5.99 a month subscription (plans start at £5.99 for new subscribers for 1 screen viewing) was way cheaper than purchasing all the BB DVD's. However once I had binge watched Breaking Bad - which I just loved and finished quite quickly - I couldn't watch just one episode at a time! - I realised how much Netflix had to offer, and committed to keeping up my subscription. I watched most of Breaking Bad on my ipad - it was my 'me time' but once we purchased an Apple tv it was great to be able to watch things on the main television and definitely added to our viewing experience. 

As a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network research panel I was more than happy to share our Netflix experiences, especially over these summer months. We shall share video footage as we talk about how Netflix brings us together as a family, I may even need the tissues as there's bound to be a mention of my crying moments. My daughter says I can't watch any of the soppy stuff without crying! Individual experiences are important too and the teen in the house always gets the netflix out on her sleepover nights. 

Apart from the occasional weekends away over the summer holidays, for us, there was no specific booked 'summer holiday'. With this in mind creating some special and fun family time at home was important to me. The children just love netflix and we really look forward to our movie nights! As usual we are surrounded in chaos as yet more DIY work is taking place at home over the holiday's, and so shutting the door to it all and sitting down with netflix on hand has been great. I always advocate getting fresh air and enjoying the outdoors, so the majority of our netflix viewing it has to be said is after hours, where we can come home and share a good movie. When as it does often in the UK, rain, then Netflix has provided some much needed entertainment too. Food is also involved in our experience and we all love a big family sized bowl of popcorn and perhaps a little chocolate for mummy too!  I love how we can all have our own profile on there, and Master P's is a specific age appropriate profile with him being under 12. 


Our current plan is for a 2 screen watch so it's especially handy, the children can be watching a family film downstairs, and I can be in my bedroom watching something a little more adult friendly in the privacy of my bedroom.


Using my new ipad cover has been great as it sits up in it's cover like a mini movie screen!


So, I better get popcorn shopping, ready for our Netflix watching and shall look forward to coming back to share our viewing experiences!! 

X


"I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity".         

Thursday, 31 July 2014

George Sampson Shows Us His MUves!...

There is nothing I enjoy more than attending blogger events, especially when all the family are involved and we get to experience something fun and entertaining. When that also involves meeting a former Britain's Got Talent winner, the event being held at the fantastic Football Museum in Manchester and a little cheese tasting, well how could myself and the children not go! The 2008 winner we were all excited to meet was none other than  George Sampson, who you may remember gave a great street dance performance to 'Singin in the Rain' in the 2008 final which he won. George, who has collaborated with MU Cheese was a pleasure to meet, a fun friendly guy and the children really warmed to him. Here he is demonstrating some of the moves they learnt on the day.



George came along to meet the youngsters and teach them some of his popular moves, my two had great fun and really enjoyed meeting him. Along with all the other children, Master Poppins really got into the groove!


        

Soon they were all putting the steps together and coming up with a cool little dance sequence, George was very obliging when we asked for a photograph!


We were very impressed with his moves!


We had a brilliant afternoon at the The National Football Museum which I highly recommend a visit to. Being free (though donations are welcome) is always a bonus!


It's jam packed with all sorts of football related interests and I had just as much fun as the children. As George is working alongside MU cheese, which is available in six great variety's from Tesco, of course there had to be a little cheese tasting too at the event. Myself and my family hadn't yet tried out MU cheese and so we were very eager to see what it tasted like. Afterwards we were sent home with some packs of MU cheese to try out and see what we thought. Of course certain little members of my family couldn't wait to get all the way back to try some, so sneaked in a little bite on the way home. When asked what it was like. The reply was a simple...

"Yummy"!


When back home it was time for us all tuck in, and I'll pop back soon to share what we all thought. 

X



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pretties From Dotcomgiftshop....

I absolutely love Dotcomgiftshop and can often be found late at night browsing their website in search of pretty little things to cheer up the home and as gifts for friends and loved ones. Its quite hard not to get over excited when one of their infamous brown boxes with Dotcomgiftshop tape around it arrives and I can't wait to delve in, remembering what I purchased. Of course, being such a fan of the site, I jumped at the opportunity to review a couple of their products and see what I thought...

Both items are perfect for night time and I couldn't wait to give them a whirl! First up we have these oh so pretty and cute Candy Spot Party Lights which are just divine! Even before I got the lights out of the sweet packaging, I was pretty much hooked on them! 


Obviously they look lovely in the day time but it is at night where they really come into their own. I decided to display the lights on a chest of drawers in the hallway, my thinking being it would create a colourful welcome at night. 


I wanted them to be displayed in a random and natural way and they bring a perfect cheery warm glow to the area. 


As I have an oversized lantern in the same area, I wondered what they would look like in there, and I just loved the look! 


They are plug in so you just need a socket pretty close by to where you want to display them and you're ready to go! I was also thinking of displaying them around the mantlepiece in the front room, however the pre-teen of the house had already bagsied them for around her bed, so it seems I'm not going to get a look in. I would definitely recommend the string of lights, which are not only perfect for any party occasion but for everyday prettiness too.   

Next up for us to have a little play with was this beautiful and colourful Set of 6 Multi-Coloured Glass Tealight Holders With Butterflies which are charming! The 6 tealight holders are all in different colours, pink, orange, red, lime, blue and clear and have wire handles adorned with charms and butterflies. They really look pretty on our vintage garden table!


With us having some lovely warm evenings, and much evening time is spent outdoors, it is at night where they really sparkle and delight! Of course with them being hanging lanterns I knew the exact place where they would look lovely. I got busy hammering in safe hooks so the tealight holders could be hung safely and securely. 


I couldn't wait for it to get dark and I could light the tealights!


They really looked wonderful hanging next to where I sat, and flickered beautifully against the coloured glass. The holders looked just as pretty on the table too.


I have a soft spot for butterflies, so the beautiful butterfly detail really took my eye.


And it goes without saying, I especially LOVE the pink tealight holder!


These really are a lovely set of tealight holders and would make a wonderful and special gift for someone too. They would be perfect for an evening celebration, to hang delicately in the tree branches. I tend to have a sprinkling of candlelight all over the garden, whether it be my little lanterns or mosaic glass solar lights, but nothing twinkles quite so prettily as these cute little things, and they definitely get the thumbs up from me! 

Dotcomgiftshop shall always be my first place to visit when looking for pretty, unique and price friendly items. They do a great sale and many a time I have purchased quirky and fun items for the children. I think another visit to the website from moi is on the cards for sure!

X

Disclosure: We were provided with the above two products for the purposes of this review blog post. All words and opinions my own.  

Monday, 14 July 2014

Loom Band It! - Book Review....

If your household is anything like mine, these last few weeks you must like me be finding these colourful loom bands all over the place and in every nook and cranny. It seems the loom band craze is taking over the world and both my children have been a part of it. To be honest, anything craft related and that gets them off their gadgets I'm all for it. I know there has been a little press about making the bands on fingers and it not being ideal so we invested in a loom to make them on, not an official Rainbow Loom® but a decent, budget friendly one and it came with 2000 colourful bands! When the children and I (oh yes I had to get in on this craze too) were on the hunt for some user friendly projects, the opportunity came to review the yet to be published Loom Band It book, created by Kat Roberts, a designer and Tessa Sillars-Powell a professional crafter. With 60 rubber band projects for the budding loomineer, it looked a great book, so we jumped at the chance to give it a whirl! 


As expected, it is a lovely colourful book and as soon as it arrived we couldn't wait to get started on a project. It has a great introduction, with useful topics such as getting to know your loom, equipment and materials needed, and how to set up the loom etc. The book does emphasise it's focus on designs and methods achievable on the Rainbow Loom® so there could be some projects not compatible with our more basic loom, but all the projects we have done so far have been fine on ours. After the children had a little flick through the book and a practice, it was my turn. I really wanted to have a go at the pom pom band. I just loved the look of the pretty little pom poms attached to the chain. The loom was really easy to set up following the instructions and I knew I wanted to use a colourway personalized to me.


It came out really well!


Hmmmm a matching ring would look nice don't you think?


It was made following the Star ring project and again I used my own colour choices. It looks like a lovely pink rose ring. I thought I'd then go on to try out the button ring and again very easy to set up. I had the perfect button in mind I wanted to use.


It looked so sweet when I'd finished it.


As Miss Poppins helped, it was all hers, but I couldn't resist a little try on before giving it away :)


Miss. P then wanted to have a go at her own project and she made this lovely Rainbow. The book is set out in various chapters, and the rainbow is in a chapter made up of 'lucky charm' projects. She'll probably add a key ring and pop it on her school bag. 


I really like the simple Chevron design and we made bands and rings - the children enjoyed using the two different colours to create the chevron pattern. 


I didn't want to get going on something too difficult too soon, but I can't wait to attempt the Corsage design!


As you can see there are clear step by step instructions, diagrams and photographs on how to set up the loom and how to hook that really help - it can get a bit tricky if like me you decide to use different colours as of course the loom diagram shows the colours chosen for the project. I think the more confident you get though, the easier it is to work it all out. The children seem to have mastered the loom very quickly. The youngest member of the household is currently in the middle of making this little fella!


There are often little hints and tips at the end of each project which are really useful too and headed in cool up to date abbreviations that all youngsters must know such as JSYK, FYI, BTW, J4F.
Miss. Poppins is wanting to make this Triple Chain next. 


So, as loom banding has never been so popular, the tutorials in this book will really inspire that creative loomineer in you and we have really enjoyed having a go at some of the projects. Loom Band It is available on pre-order and to be published at the beginning of August.

I can see us using up those 2000 bands very quickly indeed! 

X

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Loom Band It for the purposes of this review blog post, all words and opinions my own.