My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin! I am 6 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Through the Secret Fairy Door with Interplay

“She knocked and waited, because when the door was opened from within, it had the potential to lead someplace quite different.”
(Laini Taylor)

In the Munchkin Patch, we are big believers in fairies! Ever since Munch was a toddler, we have told stories of fairies. She suffered quite badly with night terrors when she was much younger, but she found a great deal of comfort in a little story that we made up together about Sleep Fairy. She would visit every night, just as Munch was drifting off to sleep, and sprinkle sleepy dust on her head which would give her sweet, happy dreams. The sleep Fairy would then sprinkle the same dust on Fudgy Bear, and she would give them both a magical kiss on the head which would give them a lovely night's sleep. As soon as we started telling this story to each other each and every night, the scary terrors disappeared! The same story was soon told to Beastie and the girls can often be heard through the monitor at bedtime, making up little additions to their fairy stories, imagining a magical world in which these pretty, little sprites with glittering wings fill everything and everyone with happiness and warmth.

I think these sound like wonderful fairies!

So, when we were asked to review the Secret Fairy Door from Interplay's My Fairy Garden range, I knew that the girls would love it and that it would offer a whole host of opportunities for their creative little imaginations!

The Secret Fairy Door comes packed in an attractive box, allowing you to see the door and fairy clearly. The fairy is well made and perfectly painted, with sparkling, glittery wings. This product is recommended for ages 4+ and typically retails for around £17.99. Also included in the box is:

1 Fairy Door

1 Key & Ribbon Bracelet (plus a spare key)

1 Fairy Figurine

1 Hedgehog Figurine

1 Fairy Mushroom

1 Fairy Tree Wall Sticker

1 Set of Repositionable “Changing Seasons” Wall Stickers

1 Image Of Fairy House Interior

6 Fixing Tabs

1 Set Of Sticky Fixers

12 Page Illustrated Story Book

Want a quick look at what's in the box ...?

The tiny little, ornate key comes on an elasticated bracelet to be worn around the wrist. The fairy has a little hedgehog companion who sits perfectly on the toadstool, and all of the accessories are in precise proportion, making the role play possibilities rather exciting!

So, I waited for a school day when Beastie was also at nursery, and I set to work on putting the contents of this enchanting box together to create something special for the girls!

First of all, there's the tree sticker. this is the wall sticker, and comes in two halves. The two parts are really simple to put together accurately, and it looks lovely placed just above the skirting board.

Next are the little details. In the box are x2 A4 sheets of seasonal stickers. There is half a page dedicated to each season, with the likes of blossom, ladybirds and butterflies for Summer & Spring and snowflakes, acorns and hibernating animals for Autumn & Winter. These stickers are the type that stick to the tree and are easy to remove, reposition, replace and reuse over and over again, so your fairy scene can be relevant to the time of year.

The Fairy House itself has a decorative card that slots into the back of the house with the help of the fixers provided, giving a sneak peek into their fairy's home. Then the sticky patches which are also provided in the box allow the house to be secured to the wall or to the skirting.

Now, every night before the girls go to sleep, we sit and make up a fairy story. Their favourite at the moment is how their fairy goes out at night, paints the sky dark and puts the sun to bed, wakes the moon and sprinkles the stars throughout the night sky. We will take it in turns to add bits to the story, until we get to the same ending every time ... the fairy would then scatter her sleepy dust to give sweet dreams and kiss each of them gently on the head.

The most recent story created by the girls is that their fairy is good friends with Santa Claus and his elves, in particular, Doodle, who is the elf that visits our shelf each December in the lead up to Christmas. I think that this lovely, attractive decoration in their room, which is providing the basis to a whole world of imaginative storytelling may well also double up as a good behaviour incentive, without them even realising! After all, no child wants news getting back to Santa that they've been behaving badly! Munch has also told me that her fairy is actually best friends with the Tooth Fairy, and that next time she loses a tooth, she has to place it carefully at the foot of the fairy tree instead of under her pillow! I suppose this makes it much easier for the fairy to take her tooth and replace it with a shiny coin! Now, as far as the girls are concerned, their fairy stays in her house during the day, doing her housework and watching over their cuddly toys whilst they are out at school and nursery, whilst at night, she flies off to take care of all sorts of important business amongst the stars and the night sky.

This Secret Fairy Door from Interplay is a wonderful addition to any child's bedroom or play area. It encourages them to expand on their imagination and, as I have found, can reduce the fear of bad dreams as a result ... as no fairy is going to allow bad dreams to happen, right?! With a changing scene throughout the year, it looks lovely too and can in turn, help educate your child about the seasonal changes that happen around us.

I can certainly see lots of fun ahead of us with the stories that will be told!

For more information about the Secret Fairy Door and Interplay's other wonderful products, check them out on Social Media. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

We were sent a Secret Fairy Door from Interplay for the purpose of this review. No further payment was received for writing this post and all thoughts are 100% our own

Pizza Express: A Piccolo menu for my Piccolo People!

"We’re all about top-quality ingredients, and we take pride in everything we create. Quality, for us, begins with our suppliers and finishes with a delicious plate of food at your table."

Last weekend, we, as a family, were invited to Pizza Express to enjoy an evening of wonderful service and delicious food ...

... And this was precisely what we received!

We are no strangers to Pizza Express, so when I told the kids that we were going there for dinner, their reactions were full of excitement and cries of "is it time yet ...?!"

When selecting a restaurant, we chose Upminster (St Mary's Lane), as from experience, the atmosphere there had always been good, and with three children, we wanted somewhere that was spacious enough to accommodate us without any disruption to other customers. We know that, although popular and never low on custom, this location was large enough so not to be full to the brim on our visit. We also know that the staff there are friendly and understanding, as I am sure they are in other areas, and no ask is too big when it comes to the needs of a family.

On arrival, we were greeted at the door by possibly one of the warmest and friendliest waiters we had ever had the joy of meeting. He greeted myself and The Man briefly, before turning all of his attention to the children. He began by telling the girls how pretty they looked, asking them to twirl in their dresses and generally making them feel extremely special, before holding his arms out to Plumlet and asking if he could have a cuddle. I held my breath for a second, as this would quite often be a trigger for a meltdown and a prompt for him to cling to me, but there was obviously something about this particular waiter that appealed to him too, as there was hardly a hesitation, and his affectionate welcome was reciprocated ...

We were shown to our table (he carried Plumlet all the way there!), all the while being asked if the table we had been given was ok or if we would rather select another. A chair was removed to make plenty of space for a highchair and he ensured that we were all seated comfortably before leaving us to fetch our menus. Grown up menus arrived for myself and The Man, and ...

... a special Piccolo menu for each of our piccolo people!

One of the best things about Pizza Express's Piccolo menus for the kids is the activity pack that comes with them. Colouring, puzzles, stickers, a paper hat each and a pot of colouring pencils on the table. No child could possibly get bored or agitated at the table with the pack that gets provided to them. In addition to the regular pack that they get, in line with their current promotion of the new Ice Age movie, Ice Age: Collision Course, which is released in UK cinemas at the end of this week, they also received a themed activity sheet to keep them busy.

The Piccolo menu is varied yet simple, giving children just enough choice to satisfy, but not so much that it causes confusion. For just £6.95, your little people can choose a starter, a main of pizza or pasta, a dessert and they can also enjoy one of Pizza Express's famous Bambinoccino. In addition to this wonderful, child friendly menu, there are also Piccolo inspired drinks available with a choice of natural juice drinks (with no added sugar) or milk.

So first up came the much loved dough balls. Each of the children had their own portion which is just the right size to get the appetite and the tastebuds going. With an accompanying dish of fresh salad and a small pot of delicious garlic butter, they really are the perfect starter. The Man and I had a Dough Ball Formaggi Doppio which is a double portion sharing platter of their amazing dough balls with cheese, which is served with a selection of three dips: pesto, garlic butter and pestorissa (a harissa spiced tomato dip)

The dough ball starter, as always, was a huge hit, and calls of "more dough balls!" was heard more than once! And not just from the kids ...!

Next, came our mains.

"For us, it's all about simple 'secret' dough recipe, which hasn't changed since day one. The very best ingredients - and plenty of passion from our Pizzaiolos."

All 3 children opted for pizzas. Simple but delicious Margherita for Munch and Plumlet and a La Reine for Beastie (anything with mushrooms is a hit with our Beastie!) The pizzas on the Piccolo menu are the perfect size for the children. With Pizza Express's wonderfully famous thin base and the flavour filled toppings, they are a firm favourite with our three!

As for myself and The Man, we both went for the Romana base, which is the Classic base which has been stretched just a little further to make it ever so slightly thinner, allowing the flavours of the toppings to come through even more. I opted for my favourite, the Pollo D'Astra whilst The Man chose the Margherita Buffalo. As always, the food was incredible, and every single bit of it was served to us with a friendly smile and the regular checking that we had everything we needed.

With a little encouragement from our waiter, we also tried a couple of their side dishes, and I'm so glad he recommended what he did! We went for a portion of Polenta Chips for the kids and a dish of Potato Nocciola for the grown ups. Both were absolutely fantastic. It is so obvious, when eating any of the food from Pizza Express, that they only cook with the freshest ingredients. This fact shines through in every single bite!

A number of times during our meal, and in between courses, our waiter approached the table to make sure we had enough to drink and that the children had everything they wanted. Some might think that this service was due to the fact that we were following our visit with a written review, but throughout the evening, we witnessed him delivering the same service to all of his tables and showing lots of attention to all of the children in the restaurant, playing, laughing and joking with all of them. I know for a fact that our three had truly warmed to him, and Plumlet kept turning around in his highchair and calling "hello" to him across the room ... and not once were his calls ignored!

Munch even decorated a paper hat especially for him, and he promised to wear it for the whole of his shift. He certainly kept it on for the entire time that we were there, which made her day!

Finally came the difficult task of choosing from one of their delightful desserts. As I mentioned before, the Piccolo menu includes a dessert for the children, and they were able to choose from either an organic fruit ice lolly, an ice cream sundae with fresh strawberries with fruit or chocolate sauce or one of their amazing chocolate brownies which was also served with fresh cream and a strawberry. The girls decided on a sundae each - Munch with chocolate sauce and Beastie with fruity sauce, and Plumlet chose the brownie. Each of their desserts came on a dish complete with their Bambinoccino which is a warm, frothy, milky drink sprinkled with cocoa powder and served in a mug, the perfect size for little hands! The girls say they feel like they are drinking coffee like the grown ups! Another way in which Pizza Express uses their Piccolo menu to make kids feel special!

As for the 'grown up' desserts, with such a wonderful variety to choose from, it took some deliberation and serious consideration before either of us came to a final decision, but we were both extremely happy with what we chose!

The chocolate fudge cake with fresh cream for The Man ...

... and the Tiramisu for me!

To say our bellies were full by the end of our visit would be an understatement!

However, not only did we walk away from the restaurant with well and truly satisfied appetites, but we also left there satisfied that we had had a truly wonderful family evening. We had been looked after thoroughly by all the staff at Pizza Express, the children had been allowed to be themselves throughout the evening without the fear of upsetting anyone or annoying staff or management, and they had been made to feel so important. They weren't just children who had come out to dinner for the evening with their parents ... they were just as important as any grown up in the room!

If someone were to ask me to recommend a good restaurant to visit with a varied menu, I'd recommend Pizza Express.

If someone were to ask me to recommend a good restaurant to visit with great quality food made with the freshest ingredients, I'd recommend Pizza Express.

If someone were to ask me to recommend a family orientated restaurant who would treat the children as important guests rather than simply an addition to an adult party, I would recommend, whole heartedly, Pizza Express!

A huge thank you to every single staff member at Pizza Express, Upminster, for such a wonderful evening. You were all fantastic, and went above and beyond to ensure both us grown ups and our Piccolo People had a truly glorious evening!

We enjoyed a complimentary meal at Pizza Express for the purpose of this review. No other form of payment was offered and all words and thoughts are 100% our own.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

#GetYourCapeOn! The Girls are taking on Metropolis!

"Let your inner superness shine!"

Walking home from school one afternoon this week, leisurely chatting about the day's events with Munch whilst Beastie was hopping along the pavement, avoiding the cracks so that the sharks couldn't get her and pretending each paving stone was a turtle shell which conveniently lined her path to our front gate, our calm stroll was suddenly interrupted. Munch's carefree, unhurried walk and Beastie's oblivious, imaginative shark dodging was replaced with screams of excitement as a large, red courier van pulled up just ahead, outside our house.

They knew what we were expecting! 

After playing a little prank on the girls, as he wandered onto our next door neighbour's driveway, he watched as their little faces dropped, smiled and approached the garden wall where they were both standing. He handed the box to Munch, who was close to combustion, and asked her if she would like to sign for the parcel. She  placed the box between her feet (securely to ensure Beastie didn't run off with it) and carefully signed her name in her neatest handwriting.

Within seconds, we were inside the house, which was full of screams of "open it, mummy!" I played down my own personal excitement as I retrieved the scissors from the drawer and carefully cut open the box. Inside was another box, but I knew that this one was not for me to open. So I left the rest to them ...

Considering how excited she was to reveal the contents of the box, Munch unwrapped the layers of tissue paper so carefully, being sure not to tear any of it. This made me smile. I was proud of her restraint and maturity, although I was actually just moments away from realising her motive behind her concentration and care ...!

Eventually, she reached her goal ...

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, in partnership with Mattel, have joined forces to bring their fans DC Super Hero Girls, the exciting new universe of super heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers youngsters to discover their true potential. Featuring DC's most powerful and diverse line-up of female characters as relatable teens, DC Super Hero Girls will play out across multiple entertainment content platforms and product categories to create an immersive world.

DC Super Hero Girls centres on the female superheroes and super-villains of the DC universe during their formative high school years, prior to discovering their full super power potential. Featuring a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, DC icons such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more, make their unprecedented teenaged introduction. Each character has their own storyline which explores what teen life is like as a superhero, including discovering their unique abilities, nurturing their remarkable powers and mastering the fundamentals of becoming a hero.

Since word was out about the upcoming introduction of the DC Super Hero Girls, Munch has been extremely excited, stalking YouTube for videos, trailers and any promotional material she could find. By  the time our package arrived, she knew exactly what she was looking at, giving me micro lessons on the individual characters! Her favourites are Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, so she was delighted to get the former in the box. And as for Beastie, well she was also excited, as she too has found herself being educated recently on the differences between the heroes. She had told me that her favourites were Batgirl and Bumblebee, so another happy reviewer here as she unwrapped Batgirl.

Next, I was to discover why Munch was so calm and careful when unwrapping her goodies ...

... They weren't just sheets of tissue paper.
They were capes!
(Silly, naïve mummy!)

DC Super Hero Girls is a fun, immersive world that encourages children to discover their own super heroic potential with new animated webisodes, TV specials and made-for-video movies, as well as a merchandise program across all categories ... and more!

As part of the merchandise program, DC Super Hero Girls' Mattel toy line has made history with the first ever 6 inch action figure designed for girls, the first 12 inch collection of action dolls featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses, and the first ever action role play toys for girls!

"Batgirl is ca-RAY-zy smart.She's so brainy that a lot of the time she can't even find a way out of her own head. Don't even try to figure out what's going on in there - for real, you'll just get lost!"

"Poison who? Oh, that quiet girl? Ivy is basically your typical wallflower: super shy and constantly has her nose in her books. Don't get us wrong though - she does have friends ... well, one friend. She hangs out a lot with Harley Quinn. Guess opposites really do attract!"

We were also sent two wonderful books with our dolls. One is a ruled notebook that Munch claims will be handy for recording everything she is learning about each individual DC Super Hero Girl (any excuse to write, that one!) and the other is a fun fact book about the girls. We have loved reading about them all, as the book is written in such an informal, fun way, both girls can relate and laugh at the facts they are learning.

These dolls honestly haven't been put down since we received them. They have accompanied the girls to bed each night, sitting next to their nightlight so that they can apparently keep them safe whilst they sleep. Beastie has carried hers to nursery each day and proudly shown her off to all of her friends. Munch even took Poison Ivy to school with her this week for Show & Tell, explaining to her class (and some very 'green eyed' girlfriends) all about her superpowers. Apparently, they all had lots of questions and I believe DC Super Hero Girl merchandise has now appeared on a fair few birthday and Christmas lists! They are fun and easily manipulated into various poses, and have been the centre of a lot of role play between the girls since they received them! Each one comes with a removable accessory too. I our case, it was Batgirl's hood and Poison Ivy's vines.

If you haven't yet experienced the fun and excitement behind this new craze, take a look at this introduction to the characters. This was the very video that got Munch completely hooked!

Fans can discover more at DCSuperheroGirls.com and though dedicated social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (don't forget to also use the tag #DCSuperheroGirls)

In addition to this, if you visit www.play.dcsuperherogirls.com/en-gb/games/superhero-alter-ego-quiz, fans can find out which Super Hero Girl they most relate to!
Will you be a born leader like Wonder Woman, and edgy artist like Katana, or do you see yourself as more of a Harley Quinn type class clown? Pop over and take a look!

DC Super Hero Girls action dolls, action figures and so much more are available at UK toy retailers nationwide from 1st July, 2016. The 6 inch action figures will retail at £9.99 whilst the 12 inch dolls will be £19.99.

So what are you waiting for ...? #GetYourCapeOn and get your hands on your favourite characters quick, as I feel these may be rather popular!

Disclaimer: We were sent 2 of the new 6 inch action figures for the purpose of this review. No other payment was offered or received.


A prestigious gift from the florist to your door

Prestige Flowers
Bringing the beauty of the outdoors to your home.

"Simple, we understand that flowers are an emotional and personal gesture, therefore the importance that the recipient is delighted with their flower arrangement is imperative, and our number one priority."

Nearly two weeks ago, I answered the door to my regular postman. But on this day, he was not handing me leaflets or bills. Instead, he had in his hands a delivery that made me smile.

I had been asked to review a wonderful bouquet from Prestige Flowers. Everyone loves to receive a delivery of flowers, right? Well, this was the first time I had ever agreed to review fresh flowers. In the past, I had always been nervous about reviewing something that could potentially be so 'hit and miss'. A product that could so easily be negatively affected by the elements. Something that Mother Nature could all to easily get her hands on during transit. A fresh product like flowers could essentially prove to be a huge disappointment as a photograph on a website or in a catalogue may not match the reality. But the arrangements on the website were so beautiful, I decided to take what I believed was quite a risk!

Clockwise from top left:
1) Sublime 2) Exquisite 3) Summer Rose & Lily 4) Lagoon Horizon
Prestige Flowers are based in the UK and will deliver their flowers to any address within the UK, offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee to their customers.

I was a little concerned when the postman handed the box to me, because despite the clear instruction printed on the sides of the box, "THIS WAY UP" written in capital letters, the goods were passed to me on their side. This delivery reached me late lunchtime, and all I could think was whether or not these flowers had spent the entire morning in this sideways position on the back of his van. I was, understandably, nervously hesitant to open the box!

When I did, I was greeted by some of the most beautiful pink roses peering towards the top of the box and some huge, tightly closed lilies. On reaching inside, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bouquet had come securely held together with twine and wrapped stylishly in paper, and placed neatly in the bottom of the box, wrapped in bubble wrap, was a pretty pink vase. I love when flowers come with their own vase!

The arrangement I was sent was their Paris bouquet. The bunch by Haute Florist consists of Memory Lane roses, deep water roses oriental lilies, astrantia and forest fresh eucalyptus, all hand tied to create a beautiful gift for any occasion.

At first sight, I noticed that a couple of the roses were looking a little dry around the edges. But do you know what? If I had spent the night in a Royal Mail sorting office and half a day in the back of a postal van, I think I'd look a little dry around the edges too! Give me a glass of water and a spruce up and I'd be fine, which was exactly the same with these flowers! Following the Care Guide that was included in the box, I trimmed the stems, mixed the flower food with water and arranged the flowers in the vase whilst removing and leaves that sat below the water level, and within the hour, they all looked much healthier. The dry edges had improved and the couple of stems of foliage that were drooping slightly were standing tall again.

Once our flowers had been in their vase for a few hours, it was difficult not to notice the scent that filled the room. it was truly wonderful. The children noticed it too, and even Plumlet was asking to smell the flowers ... every five minutes! All three children were especially interested in  the lilies, which at this point were all tightly closed. They were excited to know what they would look like when they opened, and instead of opening an electronic device and performing a Google search for oriental lilies, which would be my usual reaction, I decided to keep their curious minds racing by telling them that they would have to wait and see!

On the morning of day 2, I had the most welcome greeting of our first lily starting to open. The roses were all looking really healthy and full of life, and the room was starting to fill with the fragrant scent of fresh flowers!

By the afternoon of day 2, our first lily was looking even more full of life, and the scent was growing more powerful by the hour!

This was one of the roses that, on delivery, was looking rather thirsty. It was dry around the edges and I was concerned that the head was looking slightly heavy for its weakening stem. However, as you can see here, a little TLC, and it is looking pretty perfect by lunchtime on day 2! This made me very happy, as the colour gradient on these petals was so striking, and it had returned to its original glory, standing tall as one of the most dazzling and eye-catching flowers in the bunch!

By the end of the day, Munch was asking me to lift the vase down so that she could have a closer look!

Another day, another lily! By the morning of the third day, the whole room was filled with the fragrance of our fresh flowers!

On the morning of Day 3, I changed the water in the vase. This was the plan anyway, but when I went to empty the existing water, I realised the level had reduced to less than 25% of what it was on Day 1. These were clearly a thirsty bunch!

I think, from here on in, I shall let the photographs do the talking for me, as I feel they are the best way for me to show just how beautiful and lasting these flowers have been!

On Day 7, I decided to take our flowers outside for some photos in the natural daylight. Plumlet decided he wanted to get involved!

As you can see from the photos, after 7 days of me receiving this stunning bouquet from Prestige Flowers (so that would be 8 days since the flowers were arranged, wrapped, boxed and dispatched), each bloom was looking as healthy as they would before they were removed from nature! By day 7, we still had one lily that hadn't yet opened, but I was confident that it would judging by its strong stem and by the way it was still standing so tall and proud amongst the bunch.

And just as I had predicted, on Day 9 ... our final lily had opened! 

And it didn't stop at day 9 either!

These flowers continued to look as healthy as ever until the first roses started to dry slightly on day 13! That is a whole two weeks after the flowers would have been prepared for delivery! As far as general care was concerned, I changed the water every 2 days, and topped it up in between if and when necessary. On days 3, 6, 9 and 12, I trimmed the ends of the stems to allow each flower to take in water efficiently. I also made sure that any drying greenery amongst the arrangement were removed, and made sure that the flowers were not sitting in direct sunlight.

I'd say that was quite an easy job to keep such a stunning focal point of the room looking so striking for so long!

These last photos were taken at day 17 (so again, that is 18 days from the flowers being boxed and sent) when we had our final few flowers remaining.

So, if you are looking for a flower delivery service with a friendly, helpful approach and a high quality, product, I believe Prestige Flowers will give you exactly what you are looking for. The company representative I dealt with was nothing but pleasant and the company has managed to diminish the apprehension I felt when it came to conducting a review for fresh flowers. Even with some not so gentle treatment during transit, with a small amount of care and attention, I was able to provide a home for the most beautiful looking and amazingly scented floral arrangement!

Thank you Prestige Flowers!

Disclaimer: We were sent a complimentary flower arrangement for the purpose of this review. All thoughts expressed in this piece are 100% our own and have not been influenced in any way. No additional form of payment was offered or received.