Sunday, 19 June 2011

Leapfrog Launches Facebook Competition with Mother and Baby


Educational toy brand LeapFrog has launched its first ever national social media competition, giving UK families the opportunity to take part in an exclusive opportunity with Mother and Baby magazine.

The competition will encourage parents from all over the country to submit a photo of their baby. Three winning babies will be selected each month to be the faces of LeapFrog’s Development feature, which focuses on key achievements in child development and learning.  The details on how to enter will be located on the LeapFrog Facebook Fan Page.

The competition is open to babies aged from newborn to 24 months and will run until October 31st 2011. Finalists will be notified by email and will be invited to attend a photo shoot in London.

To kick start the campaign, the first winning baby will be announced live at the prestigious CyberMummy conference on June 25th .

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Douwe Egberts Aromettes

I was sent some Douwe Egberts Aromettes to try. I was also sent a cafetière to test them in.
I was keen to try the coffee bean shaped Aromettes as the smell wafting from the tins was amazing. 
Here is the blurb:

"The Secret of Aromettes®
By naturally compressing ground coffee into a unique bean shape straight after roasting, Douwe Egberts Aromettes® lock in the best of the taste and aroma. Simply add Aromettes® to your cafetière or filter machine in place of ground coffee. As soon as the Aromettes® come into contact with hot water, the fresh taste and aroma is released, giving you a delicious coffee full of flavour. With Douwe Egberts Aromettes®, you can be sure of a delicious, perfectly brewed cup of coffee every time."

The reality is a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. I have to say that I'm not a coffee geek. I occasionally have a 'proper' coffee when I'm out, an Americano, but have never bothered with coffee machines at home because of the cost, the hassle and the mess. There is none of that with this ground coffee.
The only thing that confused me was the instruction of one bean = one cup. How big is a cup? How big is my cafetière? After a little experiment and one very strong cup of coffee I worked it out! 
There are currently two flavours: smooth and intense. I prefer the smooth. 
Each tin contains 30 Aromettes and costs £3.79. That's *gets out calculator* less than 13p per cup. Wow! My only concern is where to buy them. My usual supermarket doesn't sell them. I hope this changes soon.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Photo Books from Bonusprint

I was offered the opportunity to create a photo book by Bonusprint.

Sorting out your digital photographs can be daunting. I had always fancied creating a photo book, but didn't relish the thought of sorting through thousands of digital images. Now I am a convert and will be taking the time to find my best photographs to convert into photo books.

Quite simply, this is one of the best products I have ever reviewed.

As a test I chose my favourite photographs from our honeymoon. The online upload process is simple. The wizard guides you through each stage. You are offered optional extras, such as extra glossy prints or one of your photographs on the front cover. The pricing is clear for any additional prints or other extras. Photo books start at just £9.99.

You can choose the layout of your photographs and there is an excellent onscreen preview that instantly updates when you make any changes. I managed to put some photographs together on a double page and make them look panoramic.

When the photo book arrived it exceeded all my expectations. The hard-cover book is very well made. The glossy pages are tough and show off the photographs beautifully. In very little time and for a relatively small outlay, you can create a stunning coffee table book.

I can't emphasise how much I love my Bonusprint photo book!

Less bulky than a traditional photo album, photo books are perfect for weddings, honeymoons, babies, your first trip to Disney or just for everyday family photographs. I hope my family aren't reading this, but if they are they will now know that they are all getting photo books for Christmas.

Thank you, Bonusprint!


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Chad Valley Playhouse

The excitement in our house when this Chad Valley Playhouse arrived was enormous! If there's ever a playhouse at a toddler group you can guarantee my children will be in there like a shot.

The injection moulded panels click into place really easily, it only took a few minutes to put together. It also comes apart for flat storage.

My husband and I usually set a timer when a new toy arrives. We both then guess how long it will be before there is an argument and we have to threaten to take the toy away if the children can't play together nicely. The timer ran for almost three hours, even then we only turned it off because it was lunch time. 

My boys were happily occupied for ages. There are endless possibilities for imaginative independent play with a toy like this. We put their little chairs inside and they sat on them, chatting away in their new home. Then they opened and closed the door five thousand times.  They ran around the garden pretending to go shopping before returning home. They looked out of the window. They opened and closed the door again. At this point I intervened and played alongside them for a while. I suggested they park their trikes outside, this they did - over and over and over again.

This playhouse is the best toy for summer. Even if it rains we can all huddle inside and pretend we're really on holiday or on the moon.

This gets a huge thumbs up from all of us at Calico Towers.

The Chad Valley Playhouse is available from Argos for £69.99.

Chad Valley Fire Engine Play Tent

My two boys, both pre-schoolers, watched me set up this Fire Engine Play Tent from Chad Valley. Their eyes were wide as they saw this sizable tent emerge from its small box. They couldn't wait to get their hands on it, 'helping' me with the poles. Luckily it was quick and easy to assemble.

They dived in and played for ages. They didn't realise it was a fire engine, preferring instead to to call it a bus - well, it is red. They took turns being the driver and wearing the hat. That's the beauty of a toy like this, parents can get involved and play alongside their children (in my case, usually as a referee) or they can play independently. My boys soon moved all their soft toys in and some play food. Then they went to Grandma and Grandad's and the supermarket. The possibilities for play are endless.

This toy is great for the British summer. It can go outside, but works just as well indoors. It's a cheap and cheerful play tent. If your children are a little boisterous, you may find the tent on the flimsy side (this is where the refereeing comes in), but on the whole we found it great value.

The Chad Valley Fire Engine Play Tent is available from Argos for £19.99.