My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 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, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Interflora at Christmas - more than just flowers!

As a child, we would always have flowers in the family home at Christmas. Mum used to have a few vases placed around the lounge containing vibrant, red poinsettia plants. After all, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without the right festive florals! 

Interflora have always been home to beautiful flowers. They would be the ones to make people smile at their front door when they knock to deliver that unexpected bouquet, or the ones behind that eye catching basket arrangement that gets handed over to say 'Happy Birthday', 'Thank You' or 'Just Because ...'! The word 'Interflora' has always meant 'amazing flowers'!

However, flowers is no longer where their magic ends. Now you can treat someone to an Interflora Christmas Hamper, offering a selection of goodies for that special person, whatever their taste!

From the Traditional Christmas treats ...

Taste of Christmas Hamper

... To something to appeal to those with more of a 'sweet tooth' ...

Left - Giant Chocolate Cracker
Right - Sweet Nostalgia

... Or something completely different ...

Left - Heavenly Scents Happy Box
Right - A Little Lift Happy Box

With their wide selection of delights available, you're sure to find something to suit any one of your friends or family members. 

We love how festive this Biscuiteers Vintage Christmas Tin looks. It would make a perfect gift ... if it managed to stay intact for long enough ...!

Biscuiteers Vintage Christmas Tin

Interflora's Christmas Hampers range from £19.99 to £375.00, so there should be a price tag to suit anyone too! They are also guaranteeing Christmas delivery on their hampers on all orders placed and completed by 2pm on Friday, 21st December, so great for those last minute or forgotten gifts too! 

I think I'll be visiting Interflora this year to buy those gift for the 'people who have everything'! These are simply perfect, and I might even sneakily accidentally drop one into my online basket for my very own indulgence ... to share with Munchkin and Beastie Boo, of course ...?! (Apart from the fine wines ... they're ALL mine!!)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Win a Panto Family Ticket!

Jack and the Beanstalk
A GIANT fun-packed family panto!

It's nearly Pantomime time at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch again!

Last year, we were lucky enough to attend their 2011 Pantomime, Cinderella, which was amazing! They delivered absolutely everything they promised, and more, and although Munchkin was only just 2 years old when we went, she absolutely loved it and still talks about it now. So I can't stress enough how they cater for ALL ages from the performance to their glowing hospitality! The resident company, Cut to the Chase, is wonderfully entertaining and their productions are always perfectly cast. Munchkin cannot wait to visit the theatre next week to see their latest creation!

You can read all about the upcoming performance in my earlier post, and also check further details and book tickets over at www.queens-theatre.co.uk

Left-Right: Simon Jessop, Alison Thea-Skot, James Earl Adair

Competition Time!!

The Munchkin Patch have been given a Family Ticket to Jack and the Beanstalk to give away to one of our lucky readers! This ticket is valid for the performance on Thursday, 3rd January, 2013 at 6.30pm. All you need to do is complete the simple Rafflecopter steps below!

Good Luck!

The Family Ticket is valid for the date shown ONLY and is not flexible. No cash value. Travel and accommodation are not covered in the prize. Entrants must be 18 years minimum. Family Ticket entitles bearer up to 4 seats - minimum of 1 adult! Winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and will be announced here shortly after the competition end time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 26 November 2012

It's Panto time again in Essex!!

For 2012, The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch Essex will bring to many excited families their annual Pantomime, this year being the wonderful ... 

Jack and the Beanstalk
A GIANT fun-packed family panto!

Fe-fi-fo-fum… it’s nearly panto time at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch – oh yes it is! The Queen’s is excited to present the action-packed Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, from 1 December – 12 January.

Boys and girls of all ages can join brave Jack on a thrilling adventure as he climbs the gigantic magic beanstalk to battle the dreaded Giant Thunderskull in his castle in the clouds. Will Jack save the day and win the treasure?

From enchanted beans and golden eggs to evil goblins and a hungry giant, there’ll be magic, mayhem and comedy capers in one of the region’s most popular pantos - starring the Queen’s professional resident company of actor-musicians, cut to the chase….

The whole family can cheer, boo and laugh at all their favourite panto characters – the villainous Fleshcreep, the heroic Jack and Jill, hilarious Dame TrottSimple Simon and the loveable cow Buttercup.

Supporting the professional cut to the chase cast is a Young Company of 24 super-talented local schoolchildren, who’ll be singing, dancing and playing various small roles including villagers, goblins and sparkly rainbow sprites!

Written by Nicholas Pegg with music and lyrics by the Queen’s Musical Director Carol Sloman, this GIANT-sized fun-filled fairy tale is brought to life with a truly stunning multi-coloured set, plus great gags, catchy songs, fantastic costumes and LOTS of audience participation!

The Queen’s Theatre, which is preparing to celebrate its own Diamond Jubilee in 2013, has enjoyed nearly 60 glorious years of producing festive family pantomimes – so everyone can look forward to top-quality, traditional entertainment this Christmas!

Jack and the Beanstalk stars cut to the chase… company members James Earl AdairAllison HardingSimon Jessop,Greg LastNatasha MooreSean NeedhamMark NewnhamNick Sayce and Alison Thea-Skot.

This production is directed by Queen’s Theatre Associate Director Matt Devitt, with set and costume design by Mark Walters, musical direction by Greg Last, lighting design by
Mark Dymock, sound design by Andrew Smart and choreography by Donna Berlin.

Last year, we were lucky enough to attend their 2011 Pantomime, Cinderella, which was amazing! They delivered absolutely everything they promised, and more, and although Munchkin was only just 2 years old when we went, she absolutely loved it and still talks about it now. So I can't stress enough how they cater for ALL ages from the performance to their glowing hospitality! Better still, watch this space, as I have a competition on the way to win a Family Ticket (4 seats, minimum 1 adult) to see the show in January 2013. We really can't wait to go and see it!

Jack and the Beanstalk will be performed at the Queen’s TheatreBillet LaneHornchurch from 1 December - 12 January. Tickets are £14 £23, with discounts for groups and families. Call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or visit www.queens-theatre.co.uk

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A special day ... for someone special!

To most people in the world, today is just
A normal Sunday morning.
They'll wake up, rub their eyes
And eat breakfast whilst they're yawning.

But today is not normal here,
Today is a special day!
Today we make fuss of a very special person
In a special person's way!

Today we want to show someone
How much we really care.
How me and Beastie love her for
All the times that we share.

For all the times that she plays with us
When she goes that extra mile.
For the times she kisses us gently
And the times she makes us smile.

For the times she holds us really close
And wipes away our tears,
The times she takes my hand in hers
And chases away my fears.

She's there for mummy and daddy
And me and Beastie Boo.
She's there for our little man Alfie
And there for grandad too.

To the rest of the world she's a lovely lady
But normal like any other.
But to us she's so much more than that,
A wife, a nanna, a mother.

My nanna's the best, one in a million
And today is her special day.
Happy birthday nanna ...
We love you more than words can say!!!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Everyone loves a Festive Bonus ...

The Cost of Christmas

Christmas 2012 ... the year Munchkin needs everything she sees advertised on the television. The year she must have everything she sees displayed within her reach in the shops. The year we notice she is really beginning to understand the magic behind Christmas traditions. So now, as parents, we feel it necessary to really 'step up to the mark' and do everything we possibly can to make each and every Festive Season more amazing and memorable than the last.

So many parents feel this pressure every year, and many spend the rest of the year paying their Christmas related debts! That's where families start to think about generating a second income of some kind. Become a regular at the local Boot Sale selling all those unwanted bits and bobs? After all, 'one man's junk' and all that! Take on a second job to earn the extra pennies needed to buy the latest 'must have' toys? Or maybe online auction tools are your way forward? With the rising costs behind Christmas these days, there has to be a better way ...?

This just lists the top 13 toys for this Christmas, so is merely the tip of the iceberg for many families! Therefore it is no wonder that more and more people are feeling the benefits of online Bingo! With the huge introductory offers created to welcome new players, including free credit on making your first account deposit, your chance to play for your share of £1 million in cash prizes, and the convenience of an Android app available for you to play from your phone, Ladbrokes bingo have some very inviting offers! Also, with their festive games and competitions, there are more prizes up for grabs than usual! And when you add the appeal of being able to play without leaving home, there is real money to be made. When enjoyed responsibly, online bingo can be fun and very rewarding. And with Ladbrokes Bingo, you can also play FREE bingo with smaller prizes which can all build up, so the games don't even have to cost you a penny!

So eyes down ... virtual dabbers out ... what Christmas bonuses can you earn yourself today ...?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt: WIN Tickets!!


Peppa Pig’s second live stage production proved to be a huge success on its travels of the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland in 2011 - 2012, with sell-out performances wherever it went. This enduringly popular production for younger children opens at the Criterion Theatre, London, on Thursday 6 December, giving Peppa Pig her third consecutive Christmas season at the West End venue, and runs through to 6 January.

The Peppa Pig stage-show has a very successful track record at the Criterion Theatre, where for the past two Christmas seasons Peppa Pig has played to packed houses (2010 and 2011), breaking all the theatre’s previous advance box office records. Her first stage tour, Peppa Pig’s Party, was also one of the top-selling children’s theatre shows in 2010 and 2011.

In Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt Peppa Pig and her friends set off on a new adventure, a treasure hunt. Peppa, her brother George and friend Danny Dog get up to fun and games on a day out on Granddad Dog's boat. There are clues aplenty as Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra help them find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt features true-to-life puppets, sing-along songs and a story that will charm and delight all her fans.

Photography by Pete Jones
The director is Richard Lewis who has also adapted the show for stage. He has many acclaimed children’s stage shows to his credit, including Fimbles, the two LazyTown Live! tours (2007/08 and 2009) and the current tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, which premièred in October 2012.

Nigel Plaskitt – one of the country’s leading puppet specialists - has created the puppets for the show. His many credits include creating several characters and writing for the pre-school children’s programme Pipkins (1973 – 1981); for 13 years one of the principal performers on Spitting Image; puppetry consultant for the recent West End/touring hit show Avenue Q; and he played Monkey in the award-winning PG Tips ads with Johnny Vegas, as well as ‘Animal’ on The X Factor for The Muppets with Olly Murs singing ‘Dance With Me Tonight’. The puppet maker is Paul Jomain.

Photography by Pete Jones
The cast is Nick Errington, Kerry Gooderson, Chris Hughes, Charlotte King, Kimberley Penna, David Sandham and Charlotte Sullivan. The composer is Mani Svavarsson, the designer is Simon Scullion, lighting is by Matt Haskins and sound by Ian Horrocks Taylor.

Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt is produced by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions, the team behind the recent tours of LazyTown Live!, Roald Dahl’s The BFG, the first Peppa Pig tour, Peppa Pig’s Party  and the current tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.

Competition Time!!!

The Munchkin Patch has a Family Ticket for Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt for Tuesday, 11th December, 2012 at 2.30pm. This promises to be yet another popular season, and we are thrilled to be able to give this prize to one of our lucky readers! To enter, all you need to do is follow the Rafflecopter steps below ...

Good Luck!

The Family Ticket is valid for the date shown ONLY and is not flexible. No cash value. Travel and accommodation are not covered in the prize. Entrants must be 18 years minimum. Family Ticket entitles bearer up to 4 seats - minimum of 1 adult! Winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and will be announced here shortly after the competition end time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom Live! Review

When mummy heard that Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom was hitting theatres around the country during the latter part of 2012 and running until July 2013, she was very excited, as she knew that I would be very impressed! In September, I was given a special ticket inviting me along to the show in October, 2012. Ok, so the ticket looked very much like daddy's handiwork to me, but I was happy to believe that the invitation came straight from the Little Kingdom!

We dropped Beastie off at nanna and grandad's house, as she is just too young for the excitement of fairies and elves and for ladybirds that bark! She just wouldn't 'get it'! So we arrived at the venue, The Orchard Theatre in Dartford, Kent. The first thing we noticed was how busy it was there in the foyer. It was simply buzzing with families, with children who were as excited to see Ben and Holly on the stage as I was!

Although it was very crowded, the organisation in the foyer was excellent. There were staff members 'dotted' around the place, so there was always someone nearby to answer any questions and to point us in the right direction of our seats. There was a table to one side of the foyer displaying a wide range of Ben and Holly goodies, t-shirts, cuddly toys, umbrellas. I got a flashing windmill with a Princess Holly handle, as did many of the children there, and a programme so that I could show Beastie what she missed!! We were then directed to the door to our allocated seats. 

We entered the auditorium to familiar tunes from Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom being played. I was very excited! A little while later, the lights dimmed and the show started. 

As the characters were one by one introduced to their excitable audience, the crowd of children (and grown-ups!) cheered and clapped as the familiar faces greeted and welcomed us into their Little Kingdom!

Nicola Hart as Ben Elf
Kerry Gooderson as Princess Holly
Photograph by Adam Chapman
The show was packed full of the much loved characters, Princess Holly, Ben Elf, Nanny Plum, King Thistle and of course Gaston the barking Ladybird! Those that are familiar with the magical stories will also recognise Lucy, the little girl befriended by the young duo during popular plots such as The Tooth Fairy. Some other friendly Elves also pop up around the Little Kingdom too.

Nicola Hart as Ben Elf
Kerry Gooderson as Princess HollyDanielle Black as Lucy (sitting on Gaston - played by himself!)
NIcky Cross as Nanny Plum

Photograph by Adam Chapman
As far as the storyline is concerned, this too is very recognisable! In fact, the show is made up of a number of televised episodes all rolled into one show! The Tooth Fairy, King Thistle's Birthday and many more all cleverly included in one performance. The bright, colourful set which changed smoothly in front of our eyes between scenes worked brilliantly and looked just as it does on the TV! And most importantly, I could hear every word that each character was saying the whole time! They were loud and clear and kept me interested from beginning to end, and definitely left me wanting to see more!

The show had everything that excites me about Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom, and more! The music was a lovely addition which had everyone singing and clapping along. And for those of you that love the thrill of Nanny Plum's 'accidental' jelly floods ... you will not be disappointed!!

Nicola Hart as Ben Elf
Kerry Gooderson as Princess HollyDanielle Black as Lucy
Nicky Cross as Nanny Plum

Photograph by Neville Astley
Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom Live has dates and venues confirmed all the way through until July 2013 and is travelling to theatres across the country to deliver the magic of the hugely popular children's TV show to as many families as possible. Details of confirmed venues, availability and booking instructions can all be found on the WEBSITE as well as further details about the show and other reviews. If you get the chance to go see a show near you, we would highly recommend it! It is a fun, lively and captivating performance which is a 'must see' for all fans of the Little Kingdom and its quirky residents!

Nicola Hart as Ben Elf
Kerry Gooderson as Princess HollyDanielle Black as Lucy
Nicky Cross as Nanny Plum
Photographs by Adam Chapman and Neville Astley
Nicola Hart as Ben Elf
Kerry Gooderson as Princess HollyDanielle Black as Lucy
Nicky Cross as Nanny PlumDavid Sandham as King Thistle
Photographs by Neville Astley
To keep up to date with show details, why not join the Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom Live Facebook page ...? And you can also follow their news on Twitter.

We received complimentary tickets to the show for review purposes, but no other payment was received. All opinions are 100% our own.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

WIN with Scotch - 'Handy' Pop-Up Tape Dispensers & Refills!

Scotch Pop-Up Tape - Get Christmas All Wrapped Up

Christmas is a magical time for the whole family and this year you can make it even more special with beautiful, effortlessly wrapped presents thanks to Scotch Pop-Up Tape from 3M.

The uniquely designed hand-band dispenser from the Scotch brand is the easiest way to create a perfectly wrapped present every time.

The comfortable hand-band is filled with pre-cut strips that put an end to the inevitable sticky tape tangle. Instead, both hands are left free to fold, dispense and stick, saving you time while also making Christmas gift-wrapping a hassle-free task.

We all know how important it is to buy loved ones the perfect gift and presentation is the simplest way to make someone feel special, so making an effort with gift-wrapping is essential. Using Scotch Pop Up Tape ensures you won’t just be remembered for the gifts you choose but the beautiful way you wrap them too as the neatly pre-cut strips have a satin finish, so they disappear on most gift wrap paper, ensuring your Christmas presents look like they have arrived fresh from Santa’s grotto!
Refill Pop-Up Strips are available in packs of 3 pads, with 75 strips per pad, meaning up to 65 presents can be wrapped with one refill pack. With so many chores to be done to make the festive season complete, let Scotch Pop-Up Tape give you a helping hand this Christmas.
The nifty Scotch Pop-Up Tape Hand-band comes in three fun colours - pink, silver or blue.

The Scotch Pop-Up Tape range is available at leading supermarkets and stationery stores. The Scotch Pop-Up Tape Hand-band Dispenser has an RRP of £2.49, whilst a pack of Scotch Pop-Up Tape Dispenser Refills, containing three tape pads, has an RRP of £2.69. Many retailers will be offering promotional pricing this Christmas, see in store for details.

For more information on Scotch products, as well as quick and easy wrapping ideas and tips, visit www.sayitwithscotch.co.uk.

We used the Pop-Up Tape Hand-band last Christmas and it made our wrapping so much easier! It's so simple to use, even the kids can get involved in the wrapping! Munchkin loves using ours!

Scotch have given The Munchkin Patch 5 sets of Pop-Up Tape Hand-bands and refills to give to 5 lucky readers. All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter steps below.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well done to our 5 Winners, who each get a Pop-Up Tape Hand-Band and a pack of refills! Please email me at munchkinhart@gmail.com with your full name and address and I will arrange for your prize to be sent out to you! Thank you all for your entries! Please continue to check back each week as I will be adding a new clue below to help you with the Scotch Christmas Mystery Gift Challenge every Monday!

For more opportunities to win with Scotch, pay a visit to the Scotch UK Facebook Page where they are running  The Scotch Christmas Mystery Gift Challenge right now!
Every week they are giving their fans the chance to win a 'beautifully wrapped, mystery gift' worth up to £150!
To enter you need to guess what their mystery gift is, so a bit of fun in the lead up to Christmas! Each week, I will be offering a clue right here to help you with your entry. So without further ado, here are your clues ...

Week 1 (w/c 12/11/2012)
"I’m the smallest member of my family (one billionth), fit in the palm of your hand and can hold tunes a plenty!!"

Week 2 (w/c 19/11/2012)

"A word defined,’ to set alight or start to burn’ - you’ll be carrying a library with you wherever you go!"

Week 3 (w/c 26/11/2012)

"In Greek mythology, the first women on earth – she comes with charms, but whatever you do, don’t open her box!"

Week 4 (w/c 03/12/2012)

"Cheltenham _____ or Leamington _____ - it’s sure to be a day of pampering; leaving you relaxed and revitalised!"

Week 5 (w/c 10/12/2012)
"At the gym, going for a run, or a frequent traveller - the perfect mix of sound and style - made for music lovers!"

Week 6 (w/c 17/12/2012)
"Comes in a wicker basket and promises to be full of festive treats!"

Week 7 (w/c 24/12/2012)
"An essential for keeping the kids occupied whilst on those long car journeys!"

Week 8 (w/c 31/12/2012)
"If you got a new iPod for Christmas, you'll be needing one of these as an alternative to headphones!"
Think you can guess the answer ...? Enter now!!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Price of Power!

The Rising costs of Power!

We all know how bills can be harsh on the pocket. Since being a mum, I have noticed how costly bills can be more than ever before. One of the most expensive bills to hit the mat has always been our quarterly energy bill! No matter how much I try to economise when it comes to the gas and electricity, it always baffles me where all those figures come from on the statement!

Years ago, when I was a child, I can remember being followed around the house by my mum, shouting, "Switch the light off when you leave the room!" and, "Tell me why this house is like Blackpool Illuminations ...?" Sound familiar? Many of you have probably heard yourselves saying exactly the same thing to your family on occasions! I never appreciated why switching off the lights and not leaving the television on when I leave the room were so important! 

Now, however, I totally get it! I grew up in the days before Energy Saving Bulbs, before double glazing was the norm and prior to extensive, state-of-the-art loft insulation. Energy was not cheap, and was so easily wasted.

Nowadays, we have all of these above options to help keep our power bills lower. However, we also have a wider range of 'energy consuming appliances' in our households. Not only do we need to consider lights and heating, but also home computers, games consoles, home entertainment systems, larger televisions and generally more and more items around the house that use energy.
Being a 'Stay at Home Mum' with a toddler, I often worry about the fact that it is a rare occasion when we don't have either the television, CD player or computer switched on during the day. And sometimes, the TV is on and not even being watched. It is just 'background noise'! It is such an easy trap to fall in to. Another struggle we have is with living on the end of a Terrace. As a result of this, it seems to cost us a fortune to heat the house as it all appears to escape through the 'cold' walls of the house. Unfortunately, this has been an unavoidable expense, especially during the Winter months. Our heating seemed to be on constantly!

With the global financial situation being as it is right now, we have found that the best way to save money on your energy bills is to shop around and find yourself the best deal. By taking certain steps such as comparing electricity prices offered by various providers, the quarterly bill doesn't need to be such an unwelcome visitor! I have recently discovered myself that Energyhelpline.com is a good place to start your search! Easy to use and highly informative, I was spoilt for choice!

Ok, so I will still find myself chasing the hubby around the house reminding him to switch off the lights, and may be more conscious of when Munchkin isn't actually watching the television that is chatting away to itself. But at least by shopping around, I can be sure that I am not paying more than is necessary. I'm just waiting for that thing they call 'Summer' to show itself, as the heating can take a well earned rest and our 'TV afternoons' can be replaced with days out in the sunshine!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Meat at Christmas ...?

... Dad will carve!
Christmas is all about family for me, and it always has been. We never went on holiday for Christmas, nor did we arrange to eat Christmas Dinner at a restaurant. Christmas morning was always buzzing with the sound of baking trays sliding in and out of the oven, blenders whirring and other busy sounds coming from the kitchen. There were always many obscenities a few tense moments, but they were all working towards something rather special! Our traditional Christmas dinner!

Nowadays, things have changed. I am not that 10 year old sitting impatiently for dinner to be served, as dinner was one step closer to the long awaited present opening!! I am a mummy myself now, however, I still look forward to Christmas dinner at my parents' house. 

Preparing the Family Feast is a task accepted by dad. Dad prepares, cooks, carves and serves the dinner every Christmas Day (with a few instructions thrown mum's way throughout the process) But essentially, this is dad's mountain to conquer every year! He does it, and he does it well! 

We always have a selection of Seasonal meat for Christmas dinner. From plump turkey, to perfectly cooked pork, gammon and even a cheeky duck has found its way onto our dinner table before! Whatever the choice, it is always impatiently awaited yet well worth the wait!

This year, I am uncertain as to our Christmas Day and dinner plans, but as long as it involves scoffing some of dad's amazing cooking along the way, then Christmas will be good! If we miss out on Christmas dinner this year dad, I'm putting my order in for a truck load of your Boxing Day bubble & squeak now!!