Hello!

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, 30 August 2016

Bella Italia, Bella Num Noms ... Bellissimo!


Last week, we were invited to the wonderful Bella Italia restaurant at Intu Lakeside, Thurrock, for a special event. The kids were very excited to be spending some of their day partying with the newest craze, Num Noms!

What do you mean you haven't heard of Num Noms ...?!
Munch and Beastie have shared hours of fun over the past few weeks, watching videos on YouTube and admiring the science behind these exciting new toys!

They're sweet ... they're scented ... they're stackable!


The flavours that are available are vast and varied, making the possibilities endlessly wacky and wonderful!

From ...


... to ...


Add a little bit of innocent, childhood imagination, and the combinations could get quite interesting!

Our day at Bella Italia packed full of Num Noms inspired fun activities has just fed the girls' appetites for these new collectibles and they are even more excited to get their hands on some sets of their own!


The day began with them being able to explore the world of Num Noms for themselves. With a huge floor mat completely covered in the little things, they were able to mix, match and combine to their heart's content. Munch, Beastie and Plumlet sat down for quite some time with B from Blog By Baby, chatting between them about which were their favourites!


Once they had played for a little while, Beastie and Plumlet found the drawing tables. They were covered in 'Design your own Num Nom' colouring pages, coloured pencils and sets of scented Num Nom stickers! The Smalls love a bit of colouring!


Next on their agenda was the Face Painting! Munch opted for an arm painting whilst Beastie decided she wanted a design on her cheek. The artist was ever so good, and gave the children a good selection of Num Nom characters to choose from.


Munch asked for a Cherry Cheesecake painting ...


... whilst Beastie, as always, likes to be different, and she chose to design her own Num Nom! She wanted a Rainbow Num Nom, and so that is what she got! She named it Rainbow Swirl!

From here, they went straight back to the pile of Num Noms for a bit more playing!


Plumlet's favourite to of the day was quite obviously the Lip Gloss Truck Playset. He barely put it down, and I'd like to make a public apology to anyone whose kids failed to get a chance to try out this toy as a result of him claiming it and declaring, very sternly, that it was his! 

Next up was our 'Pizza Making' session. Munch, Beastie and Plumlet all love pizza, and they love making pizzas at home. But this was different. This was making pizzas using Bella Italia's amazing dough and toppings! Each child was served with their pizza base which was sat inside it's individual pizza tin and covered in their classic tomato sauce. The tables were full of bowls of toppings, including cheese, ham, chicken, pepperoni and meatballs, and various vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and black olives.

The kids got stuck right in, making their dream pizzas!
Mind you, Beastie didn't know whether to cover her pizza in the mushrooms or just eat them!


She wasn't so sure about the olives though ...


One thing she was sure about though, was that she wanted to pack that pizza full of all her favourite toppings! Bowls of toppings were excitedly passed around the table from child to child as they were free to make their pizzas look exactly as they wanted. Munch, Beastie and even Plumlet just enjoyed taking control of their own food and I enjoyed standing back and watching them loving every second of it!


And just a few minutes later, their pizzas were being served to their table, freshly cooked and ready to eat!


The wonderful staff at Bella Italia were so friendly and helpful. Anything the children asked for, they delivered, and nothing was too much trouble! More toppings, napkins, and they even brought out a stack of little take-away boxes so any leftovers wouldn't go to waste! They treated the children like little individuals and weren't scared to speak to them directly rather than through the grown-ups! It made them all feel very special and like valued customers.

Last but not least ...


Dessert!

Bella Italia have a special ice cream station and the children are encouraged to visit themselves to choose their flavours. Munch, Beastie and Plumlet all stood at the cart for some time, fascinated by all the colours and flavours that were available. From your favourite classics like chocolate chip, vanilla and strawberry to the more adventurous bubblegum and fruity sorbets, the children were invited to combine whichever flavours they would like ...

"Just like Num Nom ice creams", said Munch!


So, a day spent in a fantastic, child friendly restaurant, playing with Num Noms and taking part in lots of Num Nom themed activities, the kids had the most wonderful time! And, in the coming weeks, we are hoping to continue our exploration of the Num Noms world with a variety of reviews and related posts, so watch this space!

We were VIP guests at the Num Noms inspired event at Bella Italia which has allowed us to write this post. No payment has been offered or received and all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own.


Saturday, 27 August 2016

Getting creative for an #AquaBeadsParty!


Being approached recently and asked if we would like to be brand influencers for the widely known household name, Aquabeads, made the girls extremely excited. They see the adverts on the television and have always been amazed at the incredible creations that are possible to achieve with the sets that are available. More recently, Beastie has even taken to watching videos on YouTube of individuals showing their artistic talents using the tiny beads to make her favourite characters. It would be true for me to say that, they have both shown a great interest in Aquabeads and have often talked about the creations they would like to attempt to make.


The birth of Aquabeads came about within a Tokyo office one day over 10 years ago. A staff member of EPOCH was eating some boiled sweets, and as she reached into the bag, she pulled out a small bunch of sweets that had managed to stick together and form the shape of a rabbit's ear. In a moment of epiphany, she realised how cool it would be to turn this little mishap into a fun toy. Colourful beads, just like her little boiled sweets, that could fuse together in lovely little pictures.

And so, Aquabeads became real!

The beads bond together using no heat, no bottles of glue, no tricky chemicals ... just water. Simple, regular tap water! And how does this happen ...? One of the ingredients of the beads is PVOH. In Japan, PVOH is used in stamps and glue. When you spray water on the beads this ingredient dissolves and sticks together. How easy and clever is that?! And from that humble office in Tokyo, Aquabeads sets and accessories can now be bought in 35 different countries and regions across the globe!


So, this weekend, we are taking part in the fun and exciting #AquaBeadsParty. We will be exploring the box full of Aquabeads treats that we have been sent as a family and with friends and unleashing our creative sides to see what wonderful things we can make!


From our Beginners Studio to our Mini Play Sets, our magnetic photo frames to our little sample packs, the girls are really very excited about getting their hands on the little bead pen to try out the magic for themselves! Their beads have been sorted into colours and their spray bottles have been filled ... the girls are most certainly ready!

Watch this space for a full review of the Aquabeads products that we have received as well as many many, more photos of both the Aquabeads range and, of course, our little beaded inventions!

If you have some sets at home, why not get creative yourself this weekend and show us what you can make? Just search for #AquaBeadsParty on Instagram and Twitter and come join in the fun!

See our posts this weekend on Instagram and Twitter and let Munch and Beastie know what you think of their artwork! They love to read your comments!

We have been sent some Aquabeads products to allow us to participate in the #AquaBeadsParty to help raise brand awareness and to gather our own opinions on the items. No other form of payment has been offered or received, and all words and opinions will be 100% our own and are not influenced at all.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Bam Bam the bouncy hamster *Giveaway*

Win a Bam Bam from IMC Toys!


Earlier today, we posted our review of the wonderful Bam Bam, a product from the Club Petz range from IMC.


We shared with you how he was funny and bouncy and how he has brought nothing but smiles to the faces of the kids ...

... Especially Plumlet!


Now we have been given the opportunity to pass the joy on to one of our readers!

Bam Bam makes the perfect gift for any child from the age of 3 years and upwards, and will have your child bouncing and giggling in no time!

He's soft and cuddly, and just a little bit crazy as he bounces uncontrollably around the room with just a gentle squeeze of a button.

For more information, photos and videos, take a look at our review and see what you think.

Would you like the chance to win a Bam Bam of your own? He could be put away for Christmas (... sorry!! Slightly premature, I know!), given as a birthday present, or given to your child as a special little gift just to make them smile!

To be in with a chance of winning, complete the Rafflecopter steps below ...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions
This is a Rafflecopter Giveaway and all mandatory entries must be completed to make your entry valid and to unlock the bonus entry methods.
The Giveaway ends at 12am on the 6th September, 2016.
The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 and over only with no exception.
A winner will be randomly selected by 8th September and will be contacted by email and announced on the blog.
The winner must make contact with me by 11th September, 2016 to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in a redraw.
We are not responsible for non-delivery of prizes.
The prize is 1 Bam Bam the Hamster from IMC Toys, and no cash alternative is available.

Bam Bam from IMC: Bonkers, Barmy and Bouncy fun!


Plumlet loves receiving new toys, and when he does, that toy will be clung to all day long, it will feature in every single daily activity and it will be the toy that his sisters are strictly forbidden from touching for quite some time!

And Bam Bam the Hamster was to be no exception to this rule!


Recently, Plumlet has started noticing toy adverts on the television, and I realised that, when Bam Bam (from the Club Petz range by IMC Toys) was advertised, he would start jumping around the room before falling down in fits of giggles!

"I really really want Bam Bam, mummy ... for my birthday!"
(He's been listening to his sisters way too much!)

So, when we were asked to review a Bam Bam, naturally I knew exactly who my little reviewer would be!


When he first arrived, Plumlet went through his usual ritual of talking to him and holding him tight to protect him from the girls! As you can see, the box that Bam Bam comes in is like a little house, so it was a while before he decided to let me cut the ties and release him from the packaging. in fact, even now, Bam Bam has to be placed onto his box every night before bed with a little blanket over him!


"Make him bounce, mummy!"
(At this point, the box was still attached!)

Bam Bam's bounce is quite fierce, and due to the style of box he sits in, he can easily be switched on whilst still fixed to his packaging. A simple squeeze on his side sends him jumping all over the place! When I say that his bounce is fierce, I mean that, when he was switched on, he didn't just shake a little on the spot, I mean regardless of him still being hooked up to his box, he still started to jump around the room ... box and all!

I think this shocked Plumlet a little ...


... But within seconds, I was dancing to the tune of "AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN, MUMMY!"

This was my cue to remove him from his box and to allow Plumlet to learn how to operate Bam Bam by himself.


As you can see, immediately he was a huge hit, having the intended effect of making Plumlet laugh and stare on in amazement and amusement as Bam Bam shook vigorously in his hands! 

When Plumlet finally let Bam Bam go, he was free to bounce around the room, causing the kids to chase him round and mimic his crazy bouncing whilst giggling and screaming loudly! My original thought was "Wow, this toy is a noisy one" ... but no! It was the joyous reactions of the children that was noisy!

We've reduced the speed of this video slightly so that you can appreciate just how bonkers Bam Bam really is!


Bam Bam's exterior is hand washable, as the mechanism that makes him bounce is a ball which is easily removed by opening the Velcro down his back. The only issue that Plumlet is experiencing at the moment is (and it really is only a small issue) as the toy bounces around in such a lively way, the ball inside shifts slightly with each operation, which means that he can sometimes struggle a little to locate the button to make him bounce again, but this will get easier as he becomes more familiar with it.


It's true, Bam Bam the Hamster does exactly what it says on the box ... he really will shake up your world! He will make your children laugh, he will make your children bounce around the room and best of all, he will make your children fall in love with him!


What more could you ask for?!

Bam Bam is available to buy from many major toy shops and online and retails at around £19.99. He operates on 4xAAA batteries (which are included) and is designed for children aged 3 and upwards. He makes the perfect gift for both boys and girls and is sure to bring a smile to the face of any little one!

Keep on bouncing, Bam Bam!!

We have a competition running for one of readers to win a Bam Bam of their own until 6th September 2016! Visit our Competition Post to find out how to enter.

We were sent a Bam Bam toy for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are 100% our own. No other payment was offered or received for the writing of this post.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Cookies and Vaping: It's really a thing!

Everyone loves Cookies!


Ok, so anyone that knows me knows I'm not a smoker myself, but I have many friends and acquaintances that are. My stance is I'm not against smoking, nor do I ever feel the need to think any differently of people that are. As long as it isn't put in the faces of my children, I have no problem with it in the slightest.

Since the change in the law meaning that all public places are now 100% non-smoking areas, smoking has actually become a very anti-social habit. In order to have a cigarette, one must leave a venue to smoke outside or within a designated smoking area, and I am aware that this alone prompted many people to kick the habit. During the Winter and the chillier months of the year, the thought of standing in the cold in order to satisfy that need for nicotine can be a very uninviting concept.


Then there was the birth of the Vape!
A revolution to many smokers and to those that had decided that they wanted to quit. Containing nicotine to stop that withdrawal, the vape allows its user to inhale and exhale water vapour instead of the smoke from a cigarette, making it instantly more socially acceptable to those around them.

Before the Vape hit the market, the only alternative determined quitters had was the likes of gum and patches. These were extremely hit and miss, and I know a few that have succeeded with them as well as many that stumbled and fell at the first hurdle, saying they caused all sorts of unwelcome side effects, or, worse still, failed to work at all. Similarly, the only choice smokers had was to step outside, in all weather conditions, to huddle into a small allocated space for a quick cigarette before re-joining their companions inside.

Some have switched to vaping as an alternative to patches and the like, whilst others have chosen to go with vaping as a substitute to smoking for the social benefits, considering many venues do not enforce a 'no vaping' rule within their premises. There is also the look. With the number of Vapouriser brands that now exist, the vape and its accessories now have a huge variety of appearances, some of which look pretty smart!


From a health point of view, in 2015, Public Health England published an evidence review about e-cigarettes. The main finding of the review is that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than cigarettes and are an effective quitting aid. However, in 2016, it was ruled that each claim of this kind now needs to be regulated on an individual basis to ensure the information is accurate.

In addition to the water vapour used by these vapourisers, a big thing on the market to accompany them are the E-Liquids. Available in what seems like every flavour you could imagine, they make vaping a much more sociable hobby, as users will compare their liquids and discuss which are the best! From donuts to fruits, and from ice cream to cookies ... the list is endless. And yes ... Cookies! There really is an E-Liquid called I Love Cookies - Layered Cookies dipped in Ice Cold Milk with a Hint of Creamy Strawberry and Drizzle of Caramel! How amazing does that actually sound?!


Regardless of all of the news reports out there that try to influence your views about vaping, be it in favour or against, the whole concept is still extremely new. Technology is changing at a rate of knots and medical science seems to differ every day but is doing its best to evaluate the benefits and long-term effects of vaping and, worldwide, governments are struggling to legislate sensibly about this new phenomenon. 

Do you vape? What are your thoughts on this reasonably new craze?




This post has been written in association with VAPELUX London. All words and thoughts are my own.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Me and Munch: Sharing the big screen!

Sometimes, sharing the remote control ...


... can work out quite nicely!

Like many parents, I don't like to promote the activity of watching lots of television to my children. Of course, I like them to have lots of physical play, social interaction and for them to fill their spare time with a variety of fun and 'mind stimulating' exercises. However, once in a while, nothing quite beats an opportunity to close the curtains, make a hot chocolate and snuggle up with the kids in front of a family movie.


Of course, if Beastie is involved in these movie sessions, we mustn't forget the popcorn!

As well as these special movie sessions, which usually consist of either one or two Disney numbers or a back-to-back Julia Donaldson marathon, there are other special TV moments that we enjoy in this house.

Myself and The Man share a particular little secret with our Munch. A secret that we keep between ourselves, and one that, just for now, is unknown to both Beastie and Plumlet. Ok, so we don't encourage secrets in our family, not even really in a joke like fashion, but once a year, for a few weeks, the three of us share something a little special ...


As that special time is drawing close again, with the new series of Great British Bake Off ready to begin for another year, Munch is counting the sleeps. Each day, she whispers to me with an uncontrollably excitable tone, "not long now, mummy!" whilst looking over her shoulder to make sure that Beastie is not within earshot!

Every single night, all three children go up to bed together. This is essential to them. If this routine changes, things are far from smooth sailing. Beastie decides she cannot possibly go to sleep if Munch isn't there, Plumlet struggles to settle and is completely thrown if he doesn't have everybody present upstairs for his nightly kiss and cuddle goodnight, then everything seems to go a bit belly up!

So on our 'Bake Off' Nights, we have to be a little clever.

All three go to bed at the same time, and as soon as we are sure Beastie is soundly asleep, we quietly carry Munch out of the bedroom, quickly before her insuppressibly wired giggles disturb her sister, and bring her downstairs to where her hot chocolate and cookie are waiting for her. The three of us then cuddle up on the sofa, under a big blanket, and watch the latest episode of bakers battling it out for the Star Baker title!


Not a lot in the world could possibly make these night any more perfect than they are.

I do sometimes wonder, however, how much it would enhance our viewing experience if we were able to upgrade on our television. The one we have was bought a little before Munch was born, and she is 7 this year. We often say, surviving 5 house moves and 3 children, we are quite surprised it has lasted as long as it has! It would be nice to have a new TV.

Something like this would make those bakes look as though we could reach into the screen and lift them straight from the plate!!


This amazing UHD TV from Panasonic combines style and performance in the true Panasonic way. Featuring a Professional Cinematic Display for outstanding colour, clarity and brightness, as well as a beautiful, sleek Art & Interior Design, it truly is a masterpiece in television. Also, the fact that it is fine tuned by Hollywood filmmakers, means that it promises to be an all round amazing addition to any home! 65 inches of crisp viewing ... 65 inches of amazing bakes ... 65 inches of Paul and Mary ... need I say more?!

Having this in our front room would make both our Bake Off Nights and our movie sessions (as well as my guilty pleasure that is soap marathons ...) a truly wonderful experience! With its astoundingly vibrant 4K HDR picture quality, we could have more vivid cream cakes, a more animated Nemo and a much more vigorously vivacious Gruffalo ...

What's not to love?!

This post has been written in association with Panasonic. All words are our own. And our Bake Off Nights ... very real indeed!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Scooby Doo Live comes to London!

Scooby Doo ... Where are you ...?!


... In London performing LIVE for the very first time!!

Following a hugely successful tour in North America, Scooby Doo LIVE Musical Mysteries comes to wow London audiences for the first time! Children and adults of all ages are welcome at the London Palladium in the West End to watch Scooby and his friends as they unravel mysteries and work together in their haphazardly clever ways right in front of a live audience.



But, if you want to get your hands on these hugely popular tickets, you'll have to be quick, as they are only in London for 12 shows between the dates of 18th-21st August, 2016.

During the 85 minute show (which includes a 20 minute interval), a local theatre is being haunted by a hair-brained ghost but never fear, Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo have boarded the Mystery Machine and are out to crack the case!


Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries is a brand-new family musical that sees cartoon favourites the Mystery Inc. Gang unite to solve another big mystery. Full of crazy twists, zany ghosts and, of course, Scooby Snacks, Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries features everyone’s favourite theme song, ‘Scooby-Doo Where Are You?’ and catchy new tunes to enjoy, such as ‘We’re Mystery Inc.’, ‘Round Every Corner’ and ‘A Musical Mystery’. Scooby will be there with his whole, much loved team, live on stage, with their hilarious antics alongside a host of interesting new characters.


There are no age restrictions for this show, although children must be old enough to occupy their own seats, and all audience members need to be young at heart so they can enjoy and participate in the fun and frolics that Scooby and his friends are sure to bring to the stage!

No Scaredy Cats allowed!

To get us into the spirit of this long time classic making its debut on the West End stage, we were sent some Scooby goodies to enjoy, which have gone down very well with my three Mystery Inc. Gang fans!


This promises to be a wonderful show, and will surely be a treat for kids during their Summer break as well as the kids at heart who accompany them! So hurry and get your tickets now, available through the official website from £17.25, and get yourselves to Argyll St, London (nearest tube - Oxford Circus) and enjoy the show!

If you do go to see it, we'd love to hear what you think!

We were sent a box of Scooby Doo goodies for the kids to enjoy as a thank you for writing this post. We had already agreed to write the post regardless as we thought it would be of interest to our readers! No other payment was received in return for publishing this information.