Thursday, August 02, 2012


Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Gallery: Sunshine

The Sunshine never lasts long in this country, but when it comes around you can pretty much guarantee that me and the family will be out enjoying it while it's about.

I love the sun, heat, smell of suncream lotion and warm sand beneath my feet and really wish sometimes that I'd been born in a warmer climate but I'm stuck with England at least for now. Oscar is also a lot like me, wanting to go out and play in the grass when it's warm and we tend to do a lot more when it's warm too.

Here's a few lovely pics taken this week in the gorgeous heatwave.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Party In A Box: Gruffalo

Oscar has turned 4 this year (he's beginning to call me "Mum", instead of "Mummy" and it makes me feel VERY old!) and we throw him a little party every year to celebrate. This year we knew would be tough because he has his own tastes in things now and knows what he wants and more importantly what he doesn't want! So it was hard to try and think up ideas for his 4th. 

 I had vaguely heard of Party In a Box from their big brother company, Timeless Toys. I had seen various things up on facebook which had me intrigued, as it's not really something I'd heard of before, so when I was asked to review a Gruffalo themed party, who could say no?! 
Oscar loves books, in particular The Gruffalo so I knew this would be a fun thing for him. 

Party in a Box create the perfect party package for various ages, with various themes, so I know it's something I could use time and time again as Oscar gets older and as his tastes change.

The first thing we received  was some invitations to send out. Unfortunately they arrived quite late in the week, so I was unable to send half of them out and could only hand deliver the rest in case the mail was slow, which was a shame because Oscar had great fun writing in them!

Then, three days before the party, the BIG box arrived. I was so excited, I had to make sure I opened things carefully in case anything broke! All in all, there was three huge boxes in the one mahoosive box!


The first thing out of the box was a polystyrene and marzipan cake! Unfortunately Party In A Box had had some troubles with sending out the cakes previously and they ended up in their final destination, smushed to smithereens. Their genius idea was to send "cake pops". Aka, cake on a stick! And then stick them into the big polystyrene cake. I thought it was a great idea and it looked good too as it was very unique.The cakes were only slightly damaged on arrival, but no so much that you would notice if you were about to bite into it. (It was just my scrutinising eyes -.- ) They were personalised too with "Oscar", "4" or Gruffalo pictures which I thought added an excellent touch. (The cake is not included price per guest.)

The cakes tasted okay. I wasn't overly impressed as it was mostly very sweet marzipan and only a little bit of sponge so not many of them were eaten, and because of the hot weather, the cakes started falling off the sticks! Luckily I had bought another cake for the adults which a couple of the kids tucked into so they didn't miss out. 

The next box out was of the accessories. This included, *takes a big breath* Gruffalo themed; cups, plates, napkins, tablecloth, banner, balloons, a packet of party games, thank you cards, and a pre-wrapped Pass the Parcel game! 

The accessories were all very good quality and included everything I would need to decorate the party. I have an awful memory and I'm pretty much guaranteed every year to have forgotten something, but being sent everything in one box just put my mind at rest, knowing I didn't need to remember anything else! The only thing I had to remember to bring was the party food, so it made life much simpler. 

Last out of the big box, was the party loot bags. As we had one cancellation late in the week, I nicked one for myself to have a peek at. The loot bags included, sweets, a wooden pop up animal, a wooden game, a Gruffalo biscuit and a gruffalo badge. Oscar enjoyed opening his and still plays around with his little wooden animal.(despite the fact we bought him a BIKE!)

But the piece de resistance, was Pass the parcel. The only downside was there was a party game included where you had to put little dares on paper such as "walk like a Gruffalo" in between each layer, but as it came pre-wrapped we weren't able to play that part of the game. However, everyone enjoyed themselves anyway, with one of the daddies playing the music, the kids (and a couple adults!) sat in the circle and every time the music stopped, everybody cheered and got really excited.

At the end, the birthday boy got to open the final layer to find a really cool 24 piece Gruffalo puzzle. He was very excited! Him and his best friend got onto it quick smart!

Party in a Box sets are available in different quantities with the prices depending on the number of guests. Ours was for 8 guests and equalled £8 per person. The price per person decreases as the number of guests increases with the cake pops are an optional extra.
All in all it's a very good package which made my life a lot easier and included everything I'd need and everything Oscar wanted.

*some children not photographed due to not wanting pictures posted online*

*I received no financial reward for this post, although I did receive the Gruffalo package box for review purposes. All opinions are my own and have been in no way influenced because of this*

** These photos curtosy of Party In The Box.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Gallery : Mornings

If you know me at all, you will know that I loath mornings.

I really wish I could wake up, bounce out of bed and get on with my day Mary Poppins style, but I just can't do it. However good my intentions are of going to bed extra specially early it never pans out and I end up waking up groggy regardless. I am never truly awake until i've at least had a cup of tea in the morning. Until then, I'm a horrible person to be around.

I thankfully have ingrained it into my 4 year old that mummy doesn't like to be woken up before 7.30, in fact even during labour I ended up having a nap (though to be fair I was in full labour for almost 2 days!).  My son is the complete opposite of me and is rarely tired. He stopped having naps at a ridiculously early age and when he's awake, he's bloody awake.

So, obviously there are quite a lot of photos of me half asleep in bed or on the sofa and quite frankly none of them are very flattering but a friend once took a photo of me waking up in the morning after a night out which pretty much sums it all up. I do not look best pleased.

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night is a celebration of reading in UK, Ireland, Germany and USA and this is happening...Tonight!

In UK alone, 20,000 regular and passionate readers will gift 24 copies of their favourite books to encourage others to read more. World Book Night also gave away 620,000 more books to people in the hardest to reach areas, ie, prisons, care homes, hospitals and sheltered housing.

So How Does It Work?

25 books titles are chosen and printed with the special 'World Book Night' edition. Givers apply for a particular book (you get a first, second and third choice), which they then must commit to gift to non-readers to share their love of reading.
The Givers then collect their books from local bookshops and libraries

Why Should I?

  • Over half of adults of working age have literacy skills below what is expected at GCSE level and 16% are below the level of an 11 year old. 
  • 4 Million children in the UK do not own a single book. 
  • Women with low literacy skills are five times more likely than an average reader to suffer with depression.
  • A third of people in UK have not bought a book in the past 12 months and 34% never even read.

Research into libraries' use of reading for pleasure with adults with literacy needs establish that simple interventions such as World Book Night can make a real difference in people's motivation to learn as well as gain more confidence and skills.

Why Today?

April 23 is a big day in the book calendar!
It is both the birth and death day of William Shakespeare as well as the death of Cervantes, a great Spanish novelist. It is in their honour that UNESCO appointed it the international day of the book

Which Books!?

The books chosen for this year are:

  • Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice
  • Iain M Banks - The Player of  Games
  • Mark Billingham- Sleepyhead
  • Bill Bryson - Notes From A Small Island
  • Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist
  • Martina Cole- The Take
  • Bernard Cornwell - Harlequin
  • Roald Dahl - Someone Like You
  • Charles Dickens  - A Tale of Two Cities
  • Emma Donoghue - Room
  • Daphne Du Maurier - Rebecca
  • Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of The Day
  • Stephen King - Misery
  • Sophie Kinsella - The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic
  • Andrea Levy - Small Island
  • John Ajvide Lindqvist - Let The Right One In
  • Cormac McCarthy - The Road
  • Audrey Niffeneger - The Time Travellers Wife
  • Maggie O'Farrel  - The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
  • David Peace - The Damned Utd
  • Terry Pratchet & Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
  • Meg Rosoff - How I Live Now
  • Joe Simpson - Touching The Void
  • Dodie Smith - I Capture The Castle
  • Markus Zusak - The Book Theif

*WBN 2011 preview video

You can Login or Register at the World Book Night Website from 7.15pm tonight to hear more from authors and celebrities.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dystopia - What Next?!

Wizards and vamps are out.

Dystopian fiction is in.

With the recent success of The Hunger Games, many people have been coming to me asking...what next? Fantasy and dystopia novels are my absolute favourite though it's hard to come by good ones. But I've found the best that I like so, here I am to give you my favourite things to read that are similar to Hunger Games

Scott Westerfeld - Uglies Series

This series is good for the younger readers. It's about a world where children are said to be ugly until they have undergone a massive surgery to enhance their features at the age of 16. Until this happens you're an Ugly. Afterwards you're a Pretty. However there's something a bit weird about the Pretties in how they act and the main character, Tally wonders what else can be out in the world so she doesn't have to be a Pretty.
It's a great book series to teach young girls about inner beauty as well as strength and personality. As an older reader it's not one of my faves because it's too much easy reading for me that doesn't get my brain thinking hard enough but for a quick and easy read this could be the one for you.

James Dashner - Maze Runner Series

This I think is the series most like the Hunger Games in that there is an arena type setting and it's based around children in the aftermath of the apocalypse. It still has many differences though and although this was hard to get into (it took me until page 100ish and the introduction of a different character-Minho) come the end I was really enjoying it. It was annoying at first because Dashner gave away so little information for such a long time. So many times I was ready to give up and not bother with the rest but I just had to find out! I haven't read the second or third books yet, but I don't feel like I need to rush out and grab them like I did with THG. I still enjoyed it though!

Terry Brooks - Genesis of Shannara
You have not read fantasy until you have read a Terry Brooks novel. He's a great author who has been writing for years and years and there's not one books of his that I haven't loved. This series is a mix of post apocalypse, dark fiction and ultimate survival. I was engaged very early on and is one of those series that I just had to run down to the bookstore to grab the second and third books after being in a trance reading the fist. It's a hard story to try to explain without giving away the good parts but if you're really into the dark side of fiction then this one is perfect.

Michael Grant - Gone Series

The Gone series is very popular particularly amongst teen boys. It's centred around a town in California which is encased in a big bubble and everyone over the age of 15 disappears and everything living thing left inside the bubble starts developing supernatural powers. Book 6, Light isn't out yet but I'm very much looking forward to it. It's a great series, dark, violent and deliciously horrific. Though it has received a lot of criticism from older and more advanced readers, for the likes of teenagers (aka its intended demographic!) It got a lot of praise.

One of these series should sate your thirst for something dystopia or fantasy. They're just a few of the best that popped into my head first but there's tonnes more out there if you look hard enough. Happy reading!