Tag Archives: gifts

Win a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry

Christmas is coming and there’s nothing nicer at this time of year than the smell of home baking wafting from the kitchen. I recently reviewed some of the lovely baking mix boxes from Sweetpea Pantry. They were a hit and I’ve put a few of their brilliant boxes aside to for quick bakes with the boy this Christmas.

Sweetpea Pantry have put together a fantastic festive baking bundle which you could win in time to do some great bakes this Christmas.

Win a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry

The festive baking bundle you could win includes a set of star cutters and these brilliant baking mixes –
  • Chocolate Giggles Biscuit Mix
  • Ginger Giggles Biscuit Mix
  • Playful Pizza Dough Mix
  • Super Oat Flapjack Mix
  • Grainy-Brainy Pancake Mix
  • Super-Duper Brownie Mix
  • Scrumptious Carrot Cupcake Mix

These Sweetpea Pantry baking mixes are available from Ocado, Sainsburys, Booths, Marks & Spencer and a range of other retailers. Each mix costs £2.75 and they’re delicious, family friendly mixes with a healthy and nutritious twist.

For more information about Sweetpea pantry, visit their website.

Win a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry

Win a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry

To be in with a chance to win a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a a festive baking bundle from Sweetpea Pantry.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 10th December 2017.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Sweetpea Pantry – Do their boxed baking mixes work?

Boxed baking mixes are really handy to have in the cupboard for a baking emergency. This week we’ve been putting some of the Sweetpea Pantry range of baking mixes to the test.

In the days before I became I parent I wasn’t known for my baking. I was pretty shoddy at it and used to rely a lot on boxed baking mixes which weren’t that great. Once I became a Mum and it somehow became expected of me to morph into some kind of Nigella creature, I taught myself how to bake. But I still keep a boxed baking mix or two in my cupboard for emergencies.

The Sweetpea Pantry mixes are a little bit different to your standard range of sponge buns with Ninja Turtle decorations. They have a range of sweet and savory mixes which have a healthy twist, more of which later. Many of the mixes are gluten-free and have free-from options; for example their Super-Duper Brownie Mix contains flaxseed and teff, has no added sugar and is gluten-free! They say they are 100% natural, 100% honest and 100% fun!

Sweetpea Pantry - Do their boxed baking mixes work?

Sweetpea Pantry - Do their boxed baking mixes work?

The Sweetpea Pantry range includes mixes for cakes, pizza dough, pancakes, flapjacks and biscuits. They’re made with whole grains and nutritious ingredients for delicious, easy and healthy home baking. We were sent a selection of the mixes to try and I was impressed.

The first box we tried were the Super-Duper Brownies. I’m not usually much of a fan of brownies. I don’t really like chocolate cakes and desserts (yes I know I’m weird) but these were the right balance of not too sweet, not too stodgy but with enough brownie goo to please the crowd.

They were so easy to make and all I needed to add was some butter and honey. There is a list of suggested options so you can tailor your bake to meet your requirements, so if you’re vegan you can swap the butter for coconut oil for example. They took ten minutes to make and 12 minutes to prep and 3 minutes to eat the lot.

Sweetpea Pantry - Do their boxed baking mixes work?

In the interests of having a sweet and savory balance, we also tried the Playful Pizza Dough Mix. This contains chia and flax seeds and is vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and contains no added sugar. All I needed to add was a little olive oil and water, plus a bit of flour when I was rolling the dough out.

I followed the instructions on the box, left it to prove and then rolled the dough out to make four different pizzas to feed four fairly fussy people. Here is my pizza, cheese, tomato, chilli and egg. It actually worked really well and I loved the pizza base which was crisp and held the toppings well. We all really enjoyed the flavour of the base, which had a lovely slightly nutty flavour.

Sweetpea Pantry - Do their boxed baking mixes work?

We loved the pizza dough, it was so easy to use. I tend to use a pizza dough mix rather than a bought base these days as they tend to be lighter. I liked the crisp, slightly nutty base and I’ll be buying more to keep in stock for our family pizza and TV nights.

The Sweetpea Pantry baking mixes are available from Ocado, Sainsburys, Booths, Marks & Spencer and a range of other retailers. Each mix costs £2.75 and from what I can tell, they’re delicious, family friendly mixes with a healthy and nutritious twist.

For more information about Sweetpea pantry, visit their website.

Note: I was sent a selection of mixes for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Top Christmas Toys – Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

About this time every year parents start trying to second guess what their kids will ask for this Christmas. There are usually a handful of must have toys and parents end up queuing for hours to get what their children really, really want for Christmas. Well, I can save you the bother, because if you’re 8+ and you like cars, then you’ll be wanting an Anki OVERDRIVE for Christmas. Order now to avoid disappointment etc.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

I first saw and played with an Anki OVERDRIVE last year and I’ve been waiting for my little ray of sunshine to be old enough for us to get one ever since. I knew that he would love it and more importantly, I knew both his Dad and I would too. This half term we’ve been putting the Anki OVERDRIVE starter kit (£149.99 on Amazon) through its paces to see if it is the ultimate gift this Christmas (spoiler alert – it is!).

The Anki OVERDRIVE starter kit contains 2 Robotic Supercars; 6 curved track pieces; 4 straight track pieces; 2 riser pieces; 1 four-car charging system and 1 tire cleaner pack. The starter kit is suitable for ages 8+ but under supervision, our nearly 7 year old mastered it in minutes.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

Before you start it’s best to download the free Anki OVERDRIVE app onto a Kindle, Apple or Android device and plug your cars in to charge up. The cars take about 8 minutes to fully charge up, which then gives you around 20 minutes of racing action.

The track is really simple to set up and change about when you want to change your track format. The pieces of track are called ‘FlexTracks’. They are bendy, flexible track pieces which can go over bumps (like where your carpet meets a rug) without having to build up the level underneath. They click together really easily and have magnetic connectors which keep them in place. The magnetic connectors mean they can be easily pulled apart and reconfigured if you want to re-lay your track.

The cars are have artificial intelligence and are essentially self-aware robots. You set up your track and they drive slowly around it, memorising every twist, turn and bump; ensuring that when they race they can do it almost faultlessly. There are two supercars in the starter pack, but you can buy more separately if you want to.

Top Christmas Toys - Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit

To race the cars you need to use your smartphone or tablet. The cars are easily controlled using the app. The more races you win and the better driver you are, the more features the app unlocks.

The Anki OVERDRIVE is a fantastic bit of kit. The starter kit contains everything you need to start racing and you can always add more track and cars if you want to extend the fun. It’s not cheap, but we’ve played with it fairly robustly (the dog spent some time jumping on the tracks chasing the cars around). I’m hopeful it’ll survive the rigours of family life in our house.

As far as I can tell there are no downsides to the Anki OVERDRIVE, apart from racing obsession. The cars do occasionally skitter off the track, but you just clean the tires and they’re good to go again.

My son loved it, especially building the track and finding different configurations. My husband loved it so much I’ve found him playing with it in the middle of the night. If you’re looking for some family fun this Christmas, something a bit more dynamic than a board game, then you can’t go far wrong with an Anki OVERDRIVE!

We were sent the Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. Post contains an affiliate link.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother’s Day Gifts from Amara

With several mothers to buy for, Mother’s Day always takes a little bit of planning and forethought. Nipping down to the garage and buying a bunch of forecourt flowers isn’t really an option. It’s just nice to spoil the people who do so much for us. I’ve recently discovered Amara who sell a beautiful selection of luxury interiors and gifts.

Amara stock over 300 of the world’s most luxurious home fashion brands. There were so many gorgeous gifts to choose from. I sat down with a cuppa and got all of my Mother’s Day shopping done and dusted in one sitting. I’m certain the mums in our lives will be delighted on Mothering Sunday. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

Jewellery is always a solid choice for a Mother’s Day gift. I loved this Ted Baker Harly & Sinaa box set (£44) which includes a pair of heart shaped, silver coloured studs and a round shaped pair enhanced with glittering Swarovski crystals. These will be perfect for a certain someone who has a very classic taste in jewellery. I know she will love this set and wear them a lot. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

Another special mum in our family loves candles and home fragrances. When I spotted this limited edition reed diffuser from Voluspa (a brand I know she loves) I put it straight in my basket. Presented in a beautiful glass vessel, with a set of reeds, this diffuser will fill her home with scents of orchid, white lily and spring moss. The diffuser costs £27 and will last up to six months. It’s a brand I know she loves, so I know I’m onto a winner here.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I couldn’t resist putting this Joules Printed Picnic Rug with Carry Strap into by basket. We are all big fans of picnics, whether it’s an impromptu lunch in our local park, or a day out somewhere. A picnic rug is a great present for one of the outdoorsy mums in the family. This is an especially stylish one. It has an eye-catching floral print against a grey background. The soft rug is perfect for picnicking and has a water-resistant backing to protect you from the damp ground. This picnic rug is only £30, which I think is excellent value for such a stylish item.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I am a little bit obsessed with good stationery. I know I’m not alone in this. Good stationery always makes for a great gift (especially for me, I’m hinting wildly here). This Nom De Plume pen from Kate Spade New York (£32) is gorgeous. With chic gold detailing, this bold blue and green enamel pen would be an elegant addition to a writer’s desk. Presented in a stylish gift box, this would be a wonderful gift idea for bloggers or avid writers.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

To go with the pen, I couldn’t resist this So Well Composed spiral notebook from Kate Spade New York (£16). It has an elegant black dotted design on the front cover, with the text ‘so well composed’ and has 160 lined pages inside. It’s got a practical interior pocket and it is just beautiful. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I was really impressed with Amara. They have so much to choose from, and it’s full of gorgeous, high-end gifts I know will be loved by the recipients. You get free delivery when you spend over £70 too.

Amara have nearly 35,000 products on their website, so whatever your mum’s style they’ll have a gorgeous gift to match!

Visit with Amara website for more stylish interiors and gifts for Mother’s Day and beyond.

 
Disclaimer: I was offered these gifts in return for this post, all images and opinions are my own.

Review: Dust and Things Personalised Gifts

My two boys are an adventurous pair, always going off together for some father and son bonding. I have often thought it would be a good idea for them to keep some kind of record of the things they’ve done and places they’ve visited. So when I spied the Personalised Adventure Box from Dust and Things I thought it would be the perfect way for them to store the memories they’d made together.

Working from their family workshop in Wales, Dust and Things make design-led, personalised gifts for all kinds of occasions. With a unique selection of beautiful personalised gifts including chopping boards and cheese boards, jewellery, slate, coasters, photo fames and much more. They have lots of designs to choose from in each category, but the adventure box really caught my eye. 

IMG_6305

It’s easy to order, you just choose the size of box you want (I went for box 1 which was the smallest box and measures 28.5cm x 18cm x 13.5cm). The wooden box includes a lift up lid secured with vintage style latch and fixings. There are spaces on the online order page where you can add your personalised wording, in my case “Daddy & Benjamin”. On the bottom of the box I had the words “Love from Mummy xx” engraved too.

dust and things

The box arrived very quickly and was well packaged; wrapped in bubble wrap and in a sturdy box. They offer free worldwide delivery too, which is excellent. I was delighted with the adventure box and I knew the boys would love it too. It would make a lovely gift for Daddy’s birthday and extra special with the promise of an adventure to get their keepsake box of magical memories started.

dust and things

The box has a simple, almost rustic look and seems sturdy and well made. It’s plenty big enough to store all the postcards, photographs, train tickets and little trinkets they might find on their adventures. The simplicity of the design and it being a lovely neutral light wood is something I really liked, and it looks great on our shelf, ready to be filled with treasures, or looked through wistfully at a later date. 

The personalised adventure box costs £29.95 with free delivery. I think that’s excellent value for a hand made gift of this quality, especially as it’s something which will be loved, used and appreciated for many years to come.

dust and things

And I was right. The boys did really love it. I guess the adventure starts here….

For more information or to browse the extensive selection of personalised gifts from Dust and Things, visit their website.

Review: Valley Mill Wax Melts & Soap

Working from home I often like to light scented candles to fool my brain into thinking I’m left the building and gone to work, it sounds a bit silly, but it’s just something I do when I start work for the day along with switching on my laptop. One of the things I sometimes have on the go are scented wax melts, I was sent a box of these perfumed treats from Valley Mill to try out for myself.

Wax melts (sometimes known as tarts) are little disks of scented wax which you melt in a special burner using the heat from an unscented tealight. The wax sets again once the candle has gone out and it can be reused and reused over and over, all you need is a new unscented tealight to warm it through again.

As with all candles the wax melts should never be left to burn unattended and shouldn’t be used when children and animals are around. Better safe than sorry!

I chose the Welsh Cake Soy Melts which are currently £6.25 for a box of 5 melts. The melts are set in a distinctive cog shape, which obviously melts into a puddle of scented wax when in use. 

The Welsh Cake melts really do smell of Welsh Cakes, they have a really good throw too, meaning my whole house was filled with the fragrance of baking, These would be great to burn in the kitchen to give the impression of domestic goddessness without ever switching the oven on!

valley mill

Valley Mill also sent us a chunky bar of their Rosemary & Lime Natural Soap to try. With two mucky boys in the house I wanted a soap which was natural and nourishing, but which also had antiseptic properties.

Apparently rosemary and lime have been used in skin care for hundreds of years for their cleansing and revitalising properties. This natural soap contains shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil and castor oil to make it even more nourishing for hardworking hands.

The Rosemary & Lime Natural Soap is colourful and chunky, when you rub it between your hands it foams a little, but throws up a delicious scent (rosemary is one of my all time favourite fragrances). My hands were squeaky clean and sweet smelling after I’d used the soap. I think this would look eye catching in any soap dish and is good value at £4.

Valley Mill stock a selection of lovely products and gifts, all handmade in Wales, and almost all on my Christmas list!

For more information on these Valley Mill wax melts and natural soaps visit their website.

Note: We were sent these Valley Mill products for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: Serenata Flowers Summer Bouquet

This summer hasn’t been much to write home about. I think we’ve had a handful of nice sunny days and the rest in Manchester at least has been cloudy, windy drizzly. We all need a bit of summery sunshine in our lives, even if we have to magic that up ourselves. Today was one of those miserable, grey June days. I trudged home from work in the rain, opened the door and waiting for me was a huge box emblazoned with the words “Serenata Flowers”. I knew I’d had a little bit of summer sent to me.

Opening up the box I was blown away by the flowers I’d been sent. The Deluxe Sunshine Splendour bouquet (current price £39.98) was a huge bouquet of 4 glorious sunflowers; with 6 delicate white roses, 5 lovely chrysanthemums and a mixture of white alstromeria and stunning blue limonium. This really was sunshine in a vase.

Serenata Flowers

The bouquet from Serenata Flowers arrived in tip-top condition. It was well packaged and came with the stems in a little pot which kept them fresh and watered. My Sunshine Splendour bouquet came with a sachet of liquid plant food, it was prettily wrapped in cellophane and tissue paper, and came with a little gift card from the sender. It is something which would delight any lucky recipient.

Serenata Flowers offer free standard delivery and have a huge and seasonal range of bouquets and gifts such as balloons, cakes and chocolate. The bouquets start at just £19.99, with free standard delivery, which I think is really good value. The flowers I received were excellent quality, as fresh as a daisy and just stunning.

It really was a cheery bunch of summer in a vase. Flowers always make my heart glad, and these did not disappoint.

Serenata Flowers

Disclosure: We were sent this bouquet by Serenata Flowers for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Memories Photo Book for Kids from love2read

Each year we make up photo books for various relatives, they’re a great present, especially in these days of digital photography. It occurred to me that we do wonderful things with the small boy every week; normal family things, like trips to the park, or holidays, or just baking a cake at home on a rainy day. I’m always there clicking away, capturing the moment and he deserves a little photo book too!

Love2Read have a great little photo book, which we think makes a lovely personalised Christmas present for children. We ordered one as a little pre-Christmas gift for the small boy.

It was really easy to set up. There is a huge selection of books to choose from, all different titles and styles, but we went for Memories of 2014. I recommend that before you start you choose 11 pictures which you want in your book, have them in a file ready to upload, then you’re not searching for them.

love2read

All you do is personalise the book by dropping your pictures on each page and writing a caption. Once you’ve done, check it through so it reads well and the pictures are positioned how you want them, then simply order. Each books costs £14.99 but I think that’s good value for the quality of the product.

Our love2read book was delivered very quickly, within a couple of days of ordering. It’s a good quality, soft-back book, the pages are pretty thick, so they won’t tear or crease easily. The book is colourful and the type is the perfect size for emerging readers.

We sat down to read it together. The small boy has recently turned four and we’re mastering our letters and sounds at the moment, so although the only word he could read/recognise was his name, he did point at the individual letters and tell me what they were, a game which we enjoyed enormously.

We read it through a few times, then he “read” it to me, more from memory if truth be known, but he loved to point at the pictures and tell me the story of the day and what we were doing, which was one of the reasons why we ordered the book in the first place.

We’ve read the book every day and he’s taken it into school for “show and tell”, so he’s obviously very pleased with it. It’s a lovely little keepsake of his year, something he can look at alone, or with an adult, something that will help to encourage his love of reading. I’d really recommend it.

Note: We were sent the Love2Read book free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: A Personalised Book for Toddlers from love2read

We’ve always felt it was important to read to and with our boy. When he was nought but a bump we’d regale him with a host of stories in the hope he’d pop out reciting the works of Shakespeare, or at the very least The Gruffalo. That surprisingly enough didn’t happen, but he has always, always loved books and bedtime stories are something we all look forward to.

He’s three now and although he can’t read yet, he is starting to recognise some letters; it’s time we stepped up our bedtime story routine and got him joining in a bit more.

The other night I happened across love2read on Twitter. They create personalised photo books around your child’s family and life. The idea being that if they’re matching words to pictures of things they love and recognise, then that will enhance their love of reading, make it more relevant to them and ultimately more enjoyable.

You select from a pretty wide range of titles including – I love…, All About Me…, When It Snowed… and Where I Live. We plumped for I Love… because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we’ve been talking a lot recently about the people and things we love.

The whole process is incredibly easy. Once you’ve chosen which book you want, you need to select and upload your pictures. Generally you’ll need about 10 digital photographs of fairly decent quality. You can drop your pictures in and swap them around on the pages until you are happy. Then enter the text you’d like, for example “I love Daddy”, check you’re happy and then order your book. Easy-peasy.

We ordered our personalised book on Wednesday morning and it was sat in my hot little hand by Friday lunchtime. Delivery time depends on when you order in relation to their print runs, but delivery was fast and it was well packaged.

personalised book

Now my delightful husband has his own printing business, so the first thing I did was hand it to him for his professional opinion. He thought the print quality was good, with the inside pages being of a decent weight (which means good quality paper). He was pretty impressed (and in terms of print he’s the most critical man in the world). His one criticism was that the staples were too small, but that’s something only printers and the overly fastidious would notice, and let’s face facts, that’s not going to massively impact on your enjoyment of the book.

Bedtime rolled around and ta-dah, I revealed his new bedtime story. He wanted to examine every page carefully, delighting in the pictures and describing what was in them. One of the pictures was him on the beach, which sparked a lovely conversation about what we did that day and what he liked about it. We then sat and read the personalised book properly, cover to cover, several times.

The wording is very simple. In the “I love…” book we put things like “I love the playground”, which he does. He instinctively repeated the words after I read them out and I pointed at the individual words as I read along so he’d start to get the idea of reading left to right. It was all good and we read it several times over. He loved it so much he’s taken it to bed with him.

personalised book

We’re impressed. The process was simple and the product of good quality with clear educational value. What I liked about it was it is also a lovely photo book which you can use to record special days, such as birthdays, holidays, Christmas and Valentines.

At just £14.99 a book I think it represents good value for money, given it’s not only an unusual but lovely learning tool, but a photo book of memories. My top tip would be to sort out 10 or so photographs before you sit down and create your book.

I think these are really lovely gifts for toddlers. I like that the range of titles you can choose from is pretty vast so you can personalise books to be read with Grandad or Auntie Lisa or whoever. If there isn’t a title which matches what you want there’s the option to create your own. It’s flexible and honestly it took very little time to create. As I said, sort your pictures out first, that’s always the hard bit.

Would I recommend? Absolutely yes. Will I be buying more, absolutely yes. Does he love it? Oh my goodness yes. Just don’t show it to someone fastidious about staple length.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of the personalised book  “I Love…”  for review purposes, but my reviews are always honest, especially regarding staple length.

Novelty Key Bottle Opener Review

Hodge, bless his cotton Christmas socks, at the grand old age of 38 still (yes still) gets a Christmas stocking from Santa (aka me, Santa only gives good children presents, not grown ups, no matter how well behaved they are). So I’m always on the look out for handy little bits and pieces. Practical, useful little stocking fillers that won’t break the bank.

I was rummaging round the I Want One Of Those website when I spotted the key bottle opener, it was priced at just £7.99, or 3 for £20, which seems a good deal, especially if you’ve adult stockings to fill, or secret Santa’s to shop for.

key

The key bottle opener is a handy key shaped, erm, key which is also a bottle opener which can be added to a keyring, meaning you’ll always have a bottle opener handy. It’s small, neatly designed, sturdy and makes a great stocking filler or secret Santa present.

In the interests of science I had to check if it did the job, so for you (yes you, because you’re worth it) I cracked open a cold one using the key bottle opener. It worked, success! The beer wasn’t too bad either.

Disclaimer – We were sent a key bottler opener free of charge for review purposes.