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.

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.