Born Gifted – Fathers Day Gift Ideas

Back before Easter I was planning to compile and post a gift guide of ideas for Easter gifts and I spoke with Born Gifted, who had a great range of ideas. They offered to send me a copy of their Personalised Easter Bunny book which I gratefully received. Unfortunately the house move then took over and with over a month with no internet access I was unable to do the gift guide and feature the book. I can say though, that L loved the book, as did I. The story is lovely, and the personalisation on each page, and in some illustrations, was a huge hit!

So when Born Gifted contacted me recently with some Fathers Day gift ideas I was happy to share them. The thing that impressed me most about the selection was that there is really something for every budget. I particularly love this Personalised Owl Family Crystal Block for £19.99 and the Personalised Hardback A5 Notebook £13.99. Either of those would go down well as a Fathers Day gift here!

Many of the items in the range can be personalised which is a lovely touch for a gift to or from a child. I know L loves to see her name on things. Born Gifted also offer free UK delivery on all items which is brilliant!

While browsing the site I saw a couple of presents which would be lovely for a Christening I’m going to later in the year. Born Gifted really is a one stop shop for all gift occasions. Why not have a look?

Almondella Review – Monthly Box for Pregnancy and Baby

Ever since I found out I was pregnant again, I’ve been lusting over some fabulous baby products. A combination of not knowing whether a second baby was a possibility for us, and a house move/relocation had led me to selling lots of our baby bits on eBay, Facebook selling sites and through Nearly New sales. I figured that if I was lucky enough to find myself pregnant again I would have fun buying things again. And it would give me an excuse to try some different things this time! 

When I heard about Almondella gift boxes I was excited to try one, as I knew it would give me a chance to receive some unusual and gorgeous products. Almondella were kind enough to send me a box to review.

Launched 2 years ago Almondella is already a huge success across most of Europe and has now arrived here is the UK!  This exciting gifting concept is set to change the way new parents go about discovering inspirational new brands for themselves and their baby.

Whether you are a new mum yourself or looking for the perfect gift for an expectant loved one, trying to find that special something isn’t always easy. With so much choice and new brands coming along all the time it can be very overwhelming to know which brands to trust and which products to choose from. That’s where Almondella comes in. Almondella have done all the hard work for you, scouring the whole of Europe to seek out the most stylish and practical products from all the best designers before carefully hand-picking the most thoughtful gifts tailored to your baby’s age and delivering them direct to your door each month in a beautifully wrapped box.

 

So what was in my box?

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The box I was sent was a Grooming and Bathing themed box. As I don’t know the sex of the baby it was unisex. Contained inside were 5 products designed to make grooming and bathing baby easier and more stylish!

The contents were a hooded towel (excellent quality, thick and soft, and a gorgeous aqua colour), baby nail scissors with a rounded tip, natural hair brush (lovely feel and great for baby’s cradle cap prone scalps), a pot of Organic Baby Salve (perfect for soothing dry skin and from a lovely Cornwall based company) and a sweet pair of leggings (loved the raven design, and the cute cuff detail on the ankles).

Almondella have created 36 baby boxes with the most beautiful selection of care products, toys & clothing each of which has been thoughtfully put together to take you through all your baby’s developmental milestones.

Each box contains up to 5 products and has a retail saving of up to 50%

Almondella boxes make the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one, especially if they are living abroad. The boxes can be delivered anywhere in Europe completely free of charge.

You simply need to pick a subscription of 1, 3 or 6 months, tell Almondella the baby’s gender and age, or mother’s due date, and then sit back and wait for your Almondella box to be delivered.

Subscriptions start from £37 a month. You can even do a trial box for just £12.

I was delighted with the selection of products I received. An Almondella box would make a great gift for a mum to be or new mum, or a lovely treat for yourself and baby.

I made a quick video of me unboxing my Almondella box if you want to see the products in more detail.

Forest Fun with Yeo Valley and the Woodland Trust

A couple of weeks ago we were invited down to Yeo Valley in Somerset for a fun woodland day to learn more about Yeo Valley and their collaboration with the Woodland Trust.

Together, they are offering shoppers the chance to win your own Woodland Trust tree through its organic yeogurt range. Trees can be either donated to a friend or a good cause, or even entrusted to the Woodland Trust to plant on your behalf.

I was very excited to finally get to visit Yeo Valley as I had heard so many great things about their farm, and had been working with them for a while! I also knew there would be lots of other local bloggers in attendance and I was looking forward to meeting them!Bloggers at Yeo Valley

We were welcomed in true Yeo Valley style with tea and biscuits for the mums and yummy fruit smoothies made with Yeo Valley yogurt for the children. We had a chance to chat and meet people before jumping on a bus and heading down to the farm for our Woodland Adventure day!P1050056The days activities were great fun and had us out exploring the stunning countryside around Yeo Valley.  We did leaf spotting, bug identification, fairy wand making and mini den building. leaf spottingWe also had the benefit of the team from Yeo Valley who were full of knowledge. Here is Les teaching the children about the history of the valley and its wildlife. He was great with the children and they really learnt a lot. Learning from LesL’s favourite activity was definitely the wand making and she is very proud of what she made! We also learnt about the Woodland Trust and L was given her very own Nature Detectives membership so we can enjoy more fun in our local woods looking for wildlife! Wand Making at Yeo Valley

We want to say a huge thank you to Yeo Valley and the Woodland Trust for inviting us to spend the day with them.

Disclosure: We were invited for a lovely day out, expenses were paid and we were given a lovely goodie bag of yogurt and Woodland Trust bits for L. I was not paid for  this post

Coke and Wimbledon with Collective Bias

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

I’m not a big sport watcher normally, but always make an exception for Wimbledon. For those two weeks I find myself tied to the telly or internet, keeping an eye on the progress of our Brits, and thoroughly enjoying the excitement! Little Lady is only 30 months so I wondered how successful I would be in sharing the excitement with her. Oh well, there’s only one way to find out I suppose!

All good telly watching requires snacks, so off we headed to our local Tesco to pick up supplies. You can see how we got on here.

All the basics were covered, from strawberries and cream, chips and dips and some Diet Coke to wash it all down! I usually rush to the supermarket while Little Lady is at nursery, so it was fun to go together, and allow her to choose some treats too! Breadsticks and strawberry milk were her contributions to the trolley!

Wimbledon Coke lunch

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Back home, and we set out the snacks (well as it was practically lunchtime this became lunch!) and filled our plates. Little Lady was very excited to know that we had found a bottle of Coke with Daddy’s name on it!

Daddy's personalised Coke bottle

We settled down to catch up on Laura Robson’s progress. Little Lady was taken in by the movement, colour and noise.

Watching Laura Robson

 

We managed about 20 minutes of Wimbledon watching before the toddler attention span ended and we had a request for something else. I was quite impressed that the request was for a specific episode of our favourite CBeebies show, Sarah and Duck. The episode is called ‘Doubles’ and features, you guessed it, a tennis match! Good linking of ideas Little Lady!

Sarah and Duck 'Doubles'

After a marathon of Sarah and Duck episodes (its not possible to watch just one!) we needed to let off some steam. So out into the garden to let off some steam. Little Lady loves to be outside in our garden, and we are really lucky to have a lovely space to play. We’d picked up a tennis set a while ago and this seemed to be the perfect time to get it out and have a play!

Tennis in the garden

 

Tennis close up

Its so important for children (and adults!) to be active in their everyday life. I know that we can be guilty of spending too much time on computers and phones, and Little Lady is an expert on the iPad, but as long as we balance that with plenty of running around and time spent outside I don’t thinks its too much of a problem!

Golf in the garden

The following day Little Lady put in a request to watch some ‘big tennis’ (as opposed to ‘little tennis’ which is a request for Sarah and Duck!) so I think it must have made an impact on her! Maybe I’ll impart my love of Wimbledon on her yet :)

Giveaway with Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance

Today I’ve got a fabulous giveaway for you. I am delighted to offer one lucky reader a £25 Sainsbury’s voucher, on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance

Over on their Money Matters blog there is an interesting Infographic about Drving on the Continent which is an eye opening guide to exploring Western Europe by vehicle. They want to know what you ideas are for a favourite driving holiday destination. For me, I’d love to drive across France, stopping in small towns to sample the food and drinks on offer. Ending up in the South of France for some well deserved sunshine and relaxation! What about you?

How to Enter:

Log in to Rafflecopter and enter the draw by leaving a blog post comment with your ideas for: favourite driving holiday destination? You can also enter by tweeting about the giveaway.

The more times you enter, the better your chance of winning the £25 Sainsbury’s voucher!

Whether or not you’re our prize winner, your favourite driving holiday destination ideas could also potentially appear in a future Money Matters Blog post.

The winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter (which uses random.org) and announced on this page.

The deadline for entering the giveaway is Wednesday 5th June. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Loyalty Scheme – Ice

When I shop I like to feel like I’m getting a little more for my money, which is why I’m a big fan of loyalty schemes. Gathering points as I do my shopping which can then be used to buy myself a little treat!

When I was contacted about a new loyalty scheme called Ice, I was keen to give it a go.

Ice is a unique loyalty scheme which rewards shoppers for buying from companies carefully selected for their environmental credentials. The www.myice.com website offers a broad range everyday food and travel essentials to luxury gifts and treats from partners including , Eurostar, SSE and Stagecoach plus over 400 local food heroes. Customers are rewarded with free ‘Ice points’ which can we redeemed against future purchases. As well as being environmentally-friendly, Ice is also one of the UK’s most generous loyalty schemes (giving customers up to 11p of Ice points for every £1 they spend).

I’ve had a look around the site and it looks really interesting. There are a mix of big retailers including John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, and smaller local shops including a couple of farm shops close to my home. I’ve tested it out with John Lewis where it works as you might expect. Points are exchanged for voucher codes which can be spent on the John Lewis website. I treated myself to some gorgeous Cath Kidston fabric buttons :) The only thing I discovered while doing this was that you can only exchange point for certain values (£5 or £10) and you can’t exchange for more than one voucher at a time so I couldn’t put 2 together to get £20 off.

I’ll be sure to check Ice whenever I shop online to see if I can earn or spend Ice points!

Disclosure: I was provided with £20 of Ice Points to review the website. All opinions are my own.

Christmas Masterclass with John Lewis

Now that we have a John Lewis in Exeter, I’ve been lusting after many of their gorgeous Christmas decorations. I was very lucky to be invited into the store for a private masterclass on Decorating the Christmas Tree, and Preparing the Festive Table. Tamsin and Jo from the Visual Merchandising team were on hand to give the the lowdown on how to have a perfect display this Christmas.

First we dressed a Christmas Tree in their ‘Lapland‘ Childrens theme. This range is gorgeous and fun for the children, with its oversize baubles, felt animals and bright colours. We talked about how to approach the tree to make sure you get an spread of colour (put all the same type of decoration on at once, so you can see that they are spread out and you don’t have 2 decorations the same too close). We also talked about the benefit of artificial trees as you can manipulate the branches to fill in gaps and hold ornaments in place. We also talked about putting the lights on the tree, but this is a job I hate so luckily my tree at home is pre-lit!

I fell in love with some of the decorations and couldn’t leave the shop with out buying these wool ball decorations and these gorgeous boiled wool baubles too! These are perfect for adding to the bottom of the tree where pesky toddlers like to play with the decorations as they are perfectly safe and can’t break!

The tips on picking a theme or colour for your decorations were good, and although our tree at home remains a mishmash of things we have collected over the years, I was a little bit more careful in my selection of what went on the tree this year.

Then we moved onto the table. I was really interested in this, as this year we are hosting our very first Christmas at home, and I wanted it to be special! The theme I was shown was a beautiful, quite formal Winter Wonderland inspired theme. It was absolutely beautiful and although my table won’t look similar, I was inspired to take a theme and run with it. So my table will have a green and red Holly and Ivy theme. I’ll also be giving thought to how the table is laid out and adding little favour boxes to each place setting, again inspired by what Tamsin and Jo showed me!

My favourite touch was a wreath which had been laid flat on the table with a candle in the middle, which made a gorgeous centrepiece. Always be open to using things in a different way, just because its sold as a wreath doesn’t mean it has to be hung up!

I’ll be back to show you what my Christmas Tree and Table end up looking like :) Thanks very much to John Lewis Exeter for taking the time to show me these great hints and tips.

 

John Lewis Pop Up Shop Exeter

Ever since the announcement a couple of years ago that John Lewis would be opening a new store in Exeter, the excitement here has been growing. Before now, our closest John Lewis has been in Cribbs Causeway off the M5 near Bristol which is a good 90 minutes away. Bearing in mind that Bristol was the closest to the South West that John Lewis came, it was hardly surprising that they decided to open in Devon, opening themselves up to both Devon and Cornwall shoppers!

To build on that excitement even more, John Lewis decided to offer Exeter a preview of their new store, in the form of a Pop Up Shop on the main High Street. I was invited along on opening day to meet the team behind the shop and find out what it was all about (this is where I apologise for the terrible photos in this post. My camera hasn’t surfaced after the move and so these pictures come from an elderly iPhone – #badblogger!)

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The Pop Up Shop is a new format for John Lewis and is designed to bring a taster of the range to shoppers, before the main store opens in October. The designers were given a fairly open brief for the design of the shop. The theme they went for was building a shop, so tables are built like work benches, ladders hang from the ceiling and the whole place has a trendy vibe.

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The shop doesn’t attempt to offer a typical John Lewis experience. Only a small percentage of their lines are represented (although the store is acting as a click and collect hub, meaning that you can order online up to 9pm for collection in store the following afternoon). The photo above is the haberdashery department! Lots of fun and interesting items which make a really inviting display. In fact one of those cute button boxes made its way home with me to use as a trinket box on my dressing table (John Lewis Button Box Oyster £10).

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The store is quite small, just one unit so clever uses have been devised for all spaces. Above was one of my favourite wall displays using spirit levels and bricks to display perfumes.
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And when your legs need a rest from all the shopping you’ve been doing you can head upstairs to the chill-out zone for a rest.

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I loved the range of childrenswear on display here. The dresses in particular caught my eye. I can’t wait for the main store to open so I can see the whole range!

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My second purchase came from the ‘House’ by John Lewis range and was one of these cute 1L bottles in Teal £5. It looks lovely on my windowsill in the kitchen, and will be cute filled with water on the table when we have visitors!

Now I really can’t wait for John Lewis Exeter to open next month!

Magpie Monday 9th July

We’re hoping to move to our new house in the next month or so and in preparation I’m spending as much time as I can in our new town. I love exploring and visiting the local shops and businesses to see what’s on offer on our new doorstep!

This week I was able to spend a couple of hours in town with neither a toddler or a pushchair slowing me down! So I took the opportunity to search the charity ships for bargains and this is what I found!

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There was a huge stack of cross stitch books which had just come in that morning. I loved these two which contain patterns for kids favourite characters. I’m planning on sewing a couple to frame for Pumpkin’s new bedroom wall and some other projects too! I paid £2.50 each for the books.
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Love the Mr Men characters, and these would be quite quick to sew as they are mainly one colour.

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The ‘My Book’ pattern without the wording would make a cute pic for a toddlers room. She loves the Usborne books so I think this would go down well!

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And finally, a couple of books for Pumpkin! The Funnybones book is one I remember from my childhood, and although I thought it would be too old for Pumpkin at the moment she demanded we read it to her as soon as she saw it! And the Usborne book is to add to her growing collection. The kids books were 50p each.

I’m linking up to Magpie Monday over on Me and My Shadow
Me and My Shadow

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