104 articles Articles posted in Review

Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Ever since Sausage was 3, we’ve been taking her to the cinema and make a point of seeing all of the new films that are released for her age range. The original Kung Fu Panda was released in 2008, the year that Sausage was born, but we made a point to watch it on DVD when she was old enough to appreciate it, and it’s been a firm favourite ever since, as is the sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2. This year, Kung Fu Panda 3 was released but we didn’t make it to the cinema to see it, so when Dreamworks offered us a copy to review, ahead of the official DVD release, we jumped at the chance!

The third installment sees main character Po, the hilarious and loveable panda voiced by Jack Black, make the transition from student to master in order to train a whole gaggle (I’m not sure of the correct collective noun for pandas!) of little pandas to become martial arts masters…but they aren’t exactly easy to teach!

I’ve got to admit, although I’m a huge fan of the first two Kung Fu Panda films, I was a little bit reserved about the third. Often, by the time this many sequels are released, the stories can be a little…turgid, and they have a tendency to feel like an attempt to cash in on a beloved franchise which, from an adults point of view, can seem a bit cynical. I needn’t have worried though as Kung Fu Panda 3 is just as fun and humorous as the first two iterations.

kung fu panda 3

The voice cast of the movie definitely helps; as I mentioned above, Jack Black voices main character Po and he has a truly inimitable style which I think is loved by young and old alike. His humour can be described as ‘silly but occasionally salty’ which means there’s enough in there for the adults to appreciate as well as the young’uns. The legendary Dustin Hoffman also lends his talent, along with J.K. Simmons and Bryan Cranston, proving that there’s nothing low-budget about this sequel.

The good thing for us about this film is that it’s also really visually spectacular which means that Burrito Baby enjoyed it too; we tend to all go to the cinema together theses days as she’s really well behaved, but the films which really catch her interest and keep her engaged are the ones which look bright and colourful, something which can definitely be said about this film! The version that we watched was the standard 2D version but I can safely say that I think it would also look amazing in 3D, so if you have the opportunity to watch it this way, I’d definitely recommend it.

All in all, we really enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 3 and we’ll definitely be watching if they make a fourth installment!

DreamWorks Animation’s KUNG FU PANDA 3 is out on Digital HD on 4th July and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 11th July.

Pink Clove Plus Size Clothing Review

A little while ago, a company called Pink Clove got in touch and asked if I would like to select an outfit from their New Arrivals range. Given the fact that I recently had to throw a load of clothes away which were either too big or had holes in them, I said yes! They asked me to pick three items and this is what I chose:

Pink Clove

The Pink Clove Plus Kyra Belted Duster Coat, the Pink Clove Plus Alice Shoestring Cami Vest in Grey and the Pink Clove Plus Izzy Utility Ponte Combat Trouser in Black.

All of the items arrived really quickly and were nicely packaged, which I think is really important when you’ve spent money on new clothes as you want them to feel a little bit special. The coat and trousers are actually made of a heavy jersey-type material, which means that they’re soft and comfortable, but because they’re well cut and detailed, they don’t look like loungewear. The vest impressed me, too; the material is quite heavy which means that it hangs really well. As a plus-size woman, it’s a real fine line between finding garments which hide all of my lumps and bumps and not looking like I’ve just draped myself in a one-man tent!

All of the items wash up really nicely – being the classy lady that I am, I wore the vest out to Sunday dinner the first time I wore it and managed to spill a huge splash of gravy down the front. Given the light grey colour, I was convinced that the gravy would stain but it actually came out on the first wash and looked good as new. As much as I like clothes to look nice and be stylish, the practicalities like this are really important too as I need things to be functional as a busy mum of 2.

Something else I liked was that actual cut of the clothes. Often, brands make ‘plus size’ versions of their styles without really taking into account different body shapes. Plus-size bodies aren’t just SIZED differently, they’re often proportioned differently in different areas and it felt like the Pink Clove clothing really took this into account. A lot of my weight is carried on my chest and tummy and the Pink Clove top and jacket seemed to fit really well in these areas.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Pink Clove to my plus-size readers and will definitely go back next time I need to buy some well-fitting, good quality clothing.

I Just Love It Whisky Gift Set Review

I think it’s fairly safe to say that everyone has someone in their lives who is tricky to buy for. Mine is my Husband. My ‘very good at buying gifts’ Husband, which makes my job so much harder around Christmas and birthdays because you can guarantee that he’s bought something amazingly sentimental and perfect for me (like the Teddy Ruxpin I’d been coveting for 25 years that he bought for my last birthday)! Enter ‘I Just Love It‘, a website which makes personalised gifts for people who can be a real pain to buy for.

I noticed they had a whisky gift set, which is labelled as a Fathers’ Day gift, but is actually perfect for Husband for Christmas. He’s a huge fan of whisky, with 16 year old Lagavulin being his usual tipple of choice. However, this gift set contains a whisky which is distilled on the island of Islay, one of the inner Hebrides, somewhere that Husband has been planning to go for a few years, so it seemed serendipitous to see it in the set.

Here’s the info:

Exclusive to I Just Love It, this Father’s Day Whisky Gift Set includes single malts from three of Scotland’s most famous whisky regions, including a limited release from one of Scotland’s sadly closed distilleries. Presented in a gorgeous hand-finished gift box with a personalised sleeve, it’s the ultimate way to compare and contrast the different characteristics of single malt from the Scottish Island, Speyside & Islay regions.

The set itself comes beautifully boxed with a personalised sticker on the outside which you can add your own message to and really is a lovely looking gift.

The set also comes with tasting notes and a tasting mat, allowing the recipient to really get involved with the whisky sampling process (rather than just glugging it down before it hits the sides!!).

The set costs £29.99 (plus P&P) and makes such a lovely gift for anyone with an interest in whisky, or even a complete beginner who you feel might appreciate learning about whisky and its origins. The girls and I were really impressed and can’t wait to give Husband his pressie!

Thanks again to I Just Love It, who sent us the set for review purposes.

Essence of Arcadia Aromatherapy Oils Review

When it comes to alternative medicines and therapies, I’m something of a skeptic. When I had acupuncture suggested to me whilst pregnant with BB, I couldn’t quite get past my doubts enough to bring myself to do it, however, aromatherapy is one thing that I’m quite open to. I think that smells can have a really powerful effect on moods and feelings, so when the guys at Essence of Arcadia got in touch and asked if I’d review their range, I agreed. I was sent the set of 6 and 14 oils, which retail for £19.99 and £34.99 respectively.

Essence of Arcadia

One of the things I loved when I opened the parcel was how neat and sleek the boxes containing the bottles looked, and it struck me that either set would make a really good gift. The smaller set contains cinnamon, lavender, frankincense, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus, whilst the larger set contains those six, plus orange, ylang ylang, grapefruit, lemongrass, bergamot, clary sage, rosemary and one called ‘Healing Blend’.

The first one I tried was ylang ylang, which is a beautiful, rich flowery smell and made our living room smell amazing. Cinnamon is the most fantastically Christmassy smell and we also tried blending it with orange, which was (if it’s possible) even more Christmassy; like a garland made of dried tangerines and spices. I used an oil-burner with a tealight as I already had one in the house but Essence of Arcadia also offer two different diffusers, which are an even better way to use your oils.

One of the things I love about both sets is that they come with what is, essentially, a recipe book for your oils to give you inspiration for how to combine them. My favourite was “Liquid Sunshine” which is made as follows:

LIQUID SUNSHINE

Refresh yourself and boost your energy with a combination of:

– 3 drops grapefruit essential oil

– 3 drops lavender essential oil

– 2 drops lemon essential oil

– 2 drops spearmint essential oil

All of the oils have a really rich, full fragrance which lasts for ages and I’d definitely recommend them to anyone with an interest in aromatherapy, or even just as a lovely gift for a dear friend or relative.

 

A Good Winter Coat

Sausage has had a real growth spurt recently, as I keep discovering when I give her clothes to put on and she comes back wearing what looks like a crop top and 3/4 length leggings! This means that we’ve had to replace a lot of things, not least of all her winter coat; I was hoping to get a few months out of her old one but it just wasn’t cutting it anymore! We opted for this one, from Regatta:

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The coat itself is super warm and waterproof. which means that even in the horrible weather we’ve been having lately, she’s been well protected from the elements. The hood is HUGE and has a fabric peak which pulls out to give extra shelter when it’s raining, as well as the lush fur lining around the hood. The front has a zip but also a button-down flap which gives total protection from wind and rain and means that I don’t have to worry about her being cold in the playground.

Husband and I have always tried to make sure that Sausage has the best quality clothes we can afford, especially with her outdoor gear as it’s so important to stay warm and dry. A hood is a must because of her reoccurring ear infections – it’s probably an old wives tale, but we like to make sure she doesn’t get the wind in her ears! Also, the coat seems pretty popular amongst the other kids – I’ve seen two other girls wearing at Sausage’s school this winter!

Now that we live in the county, it’s even more vital for us all to have excellent outdoor clothing. We often go for long walks with Chuck, our dog, and as we’re surrounded by farmland and river coastline, we have to make sure that we have things in which we can get wrapped up warmly. Sausage’s Regatta coat is the perfect thing for her to wear and it’s breathable too, which means that she doesn’t overheat or get too sweaty!

All in all, we’d definitely recommend this coat, and Regatta as a whole, for the high quality clothing they make.

Interplay BFF Tag Jewellery Review

BFF Tag JewelleryA little while ago, Sausage and I were sent the Interplay BFF Tag Jewellery kit to review, something which I thought would be perfect for my little crafter! The kit uses a special clay and various metallic powders to allow you to make unique and personalised jewellery for you and your BFF and we actually made two matching necklaces before Edith had a play-date with one of her BBF’s…although being useless and disorganised as I am, I completely forgot to take photos of the finished product, so here’s what they kind of looked like!

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The kit itself was definitely one where I’d suggest a bit of parental input – I can imagine that Sausage would have struggled slightly without my help despite the fact that she’s more than capable when it comes to these kinds of projects usually. The dough itself was a little tricky to knead at first and although she managed to shape it and stamp the letters on it herself, the metallic powder also required a bit of supervision. I also needed to be on hand for the tying-on of the fasteners.

Having said that, the result was really lovely. Sausage made 2 identical necklaces for her and her friend and they were really pleased with the results. Although it was one of the trickier craft kits we’ve used, it was well worth the effort. I’m always a bit scared of things which need to be baked because of various FIMO-related disasters in the past but I was pleasantly surprised with how good the necklaces looked once they came out of the oven. We’ve not been brave enough to try the stripey effect pictured above, opting to try all one colour for our first attempt, but I think we’d give this a go in the future as I think it’ll be easier than it looks but very effective and pretty once done.

This would make a great gift for kits who love crafting and making things and could even be bought as an activity to try with your BFF during a play date or sleepover. They can be bought direct from the Interplay site or through Amazon (affiliate link).

Travellers Joy Hungry Horse Review

Yesterday, we were invited along to our local Hungry Horse (the Traveller’s Joy in Rayleigh) to take a look at the new menu and have a family meal. We took my mother in law with us again, just like last year, so that we could see how it suited three generations of the family, and I have to say, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Parking upon our arrival was a tricky affair as the car park was absolutely stuffed, although the fact that the place was so busy on a Tuesday afternoon is probably because it’s half term and it’s a very family-friendly venue, so the parking situation, whilst a bit annoying, was by no means their fault.

We were seated promptly and had our drinks order taken and were left to make our choices from the menu. Unfortunately, our server failed to tell us that the restaurant had no mashed potato, beef chilli or pulled pork, which was slightly annoying as two of our choices were meals which involved these items so we had to quickly scan the menu again to amend our choices, which I hate doing.

Our food arrived promptly and was hot and well-presented when it arrived; I ordered The Triple Rib Stacker, Husband had a Full Monty Mixed Grill, MIL ordered the Hand-Battered Fish & Chips and Sausage had the Cheese & Tomato Pizza served with a jacket potato and baked beans (BB had fallen asleep on the way there and slept almost the whole way through the meal and so missed out on our little treat). As was to be expected from previous visits to a Hungry Horse, all of the portions were huge but the quality of the meals was very varied.

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My ribs were absolutely delicious – the meat fell off of the bones and the sauce was beautiful. The coleslaw was really fresh-tasting and crunchy and the chips were cooked perfectly. I wasn’t a huge fan of the beans, but that’s just personal preference. If I had one minor complaint it was that my mini corn cob wasn’t served with a skewer or fork in the end to hold it with, so I felt rather self-conscious eating it with my hands in a restaurant.

MIL loved her fish and chips – I tasted her cod and it was really well cooked with a lovely crisp batter which wasn’t too thick. The little pot of tartare sauce was tasty and her peas tasted fresh. I was actually super impressed; MIL usually has a fairly moderate appetite and doesn’t like to feel too ful but she really soldiered through this massive portion and ate way more than I thought she would, which I think is a testament to how much she enjoyed it!

Husband’s mixed grill, on the other hand, was not such a positive experience. The piece of rump steak, which he ordered medium rare, was on the cremated side of well done and was really not a good quality piece of meat. On a couple of occasions, he looked rather green around the gills after taking a forkful and realising it consisted mainly of fat and gristle, and on one occasion actually excused himself to go to the bathroom to spit the meat into a hanky. The gammon was nice and well-cooked, as were the sausages, although the chicken breast was incredibly dry and the tomato looked as though it had been chucked on a grill for about 2 seconds and was basically raw and cold.

Sausage’s meal obviously came from the kids menu and although the choice is massive, I wasn’t hugely impressed with the quality of her meal. The pizza was (I’m pretty sure) a Chicago Town microwave pizza but it looked rather over-cooked and her jacket potato and beans looked more than a little bit sorry for themselves. I mean, I’m glad that there are kids options which don’t only come in nugget form and accompanied by chips but the overall quality wasn’t great. Having said that, Sausage demolished it, so perhaps my adult standards aren’t matched up to what a kid expects or finds appetising?

Not to be deterred by Husband’s bad experience, us ladies ordered dessert, with MIL going for the Jam Doughnut Pudding with Custard and the girls and I sharing The Ultimate BIG Candymania. MIL really enjoyed her pudding, which was warm and hearty and would have been perfect for a cold winter afternoon. The girls and I gave it our best but didn’t even come close to finishing our sundae, which probably would have comfortably served about 8 people but it was very tasty and the perfect thing to have as a treat.

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All in all, I’d say that our experience this time was mostly positive, however I was really disappointed with the quality of Husband’s meal. The young ladies who were serving us were really attentive and polite, although forgetting to tell us about the items which were off the menu hampered us a little in the beginning. We’d go back to the Traveller’s Joy Hungry Horse again given the value of the meals; our food would have cost £44.94, not including drinks, which is great value for three adults and a child, in my opinion, but I think Husband would be avoiding the steak next time around. Thanks to the Travellers Joy for having us and providing us with the meal for the purposes of this review.

Review: Little Dish – My First Pizza

Little Dish My First Pizza

Burrito Baby is a really good eater these days and since we’ve discovered that she can now have dairy, she happily eats things with normal cheese without any issues and is a huge fan of pizza. So when Little Dish got in touch and asked if we’d like to be some of the first people to try their brand new range of pizzas, My First Pizza, aimed at toddlers, we jumped at the chance. Here’s the blurb on the new products:

Our new range of My First Pizzas have been created in partnership with our nutritionist to ensure that they are not just yummy, but also nutritionally balanced. These tasty pizzas are made with 100% natural ingredients, contain 35% less salt than the average children’s chilled pizza* and have no added sugar, additives or preservatives. Plus, each mini pizza contains 1 of child’s recommended 5 a day thanks to the yummy toppings and hidden carrot puree into our unique pizza bases.

*35% less salt when compared against the average salt content (per 100g) in all children’s chilled pizza found in UK supermarkets

We were sent all three varieties of pizza; classic margherita, mini meatballs and veg, and pesto chicken and veg. The pizzas by themselves were the perfect size to give to BB for a hearty lunch and because they contained one of her 5 a day, as well as 35% less salt than conventional “kids” pizzas, it didn’t feel like we were giving her something unhealthy.

One of my favourite things about all of the Little Dish meals, not just the pizzas, is that they don’t patronise when it comes to ingredients. There seems to be an accepted wisdom that there are certain things that kids just won’t eat, and while there are plenty of fussy kids in the world, my two are really open to new flavours and textures and BB absolutely loved the butternut squash and spinach on the meatball pizza.

Little Dish My First Pizza

Obviously, there are some days when most toddlers decide to be difficult, which why these pizzas are so great – even the plain margherita contains carrot, peppers, onions and tomatoes, all hidden in the base and sauce, so you have the peace of mind that they’re eating a nutritious meal while they get to exert their toddler will and think they’re getting away with being fussy!

If you wanted to make a larger meal out of the pizzas, I’d wholly recommend serving them with sweet potato fries or wedges, for added calories and nutrition, or some steamed veg such as broccoli. We’ll definitely be buying these pizzas for BB in the future as they went down an absolute storm. Thanks, Little Dish, for sending them to us, along with the adorable little hamper and goodies to go with them.

We’re VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors!

A few weeks back, Burrito Baby and I received the awesome news that we’d been chosen to be VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors and would be receiving all of the new range to play with and review. As you can see, BB was over the moon! The smaller characters retail for around £8.99 each, while the Trot and Go Pony is £15.99. The Hospital playset is a very affordable £29.99 and even the Discovery Sounds House, which is the bigger of the two playsets, is only £44.99.

VTech Toot Toot Friends

What we discovered, being Toot-Toot Friends noobs, is that all of the playsets can link together, forming a big town, and each character can be used in all of the different areas. Want to take your horse to the hospital? Go right ahead! These areas are called ‘Magic Points’ and allows kids to use the individual  characters to interact with the play sets. There are also points within the Busy Sounds Discovery Home where characters can sing to one another, something that BB seemed to regard as being akin to magic!

BB has really good gross and fine motor skills for her age (I mean, the kid is NEVER still, even when she’s sleeping!) but all of the elements of the characters and the playsets were solid and easy to hold, even for the tiniest hands. It also feels like it would stand up to a whole lot of toddler punishment, too; BB has developed a habit of throwing things when she’s in a mood but I can’t see even the biggest toddler tantrum being able to do damage to the Toot-Toot Friends!

I really like the fact that these feel like “next level” toys in more ways than one; in terms of BB’s development, they feel more in-depth than all the other ‘flashing lights, ABC, 123’ toys that she has and they also feel like they incorporate all of the things that babies of this age love with the technological expertise the VTech is famous for. They’re interactive, educational and intuitive, all things which I think are important for development through play.

If I had ONE minor complaint, it’s that the stickers are a little bit fiddly to apply when you’re assembling everything, especially as some of them are located behind or inside certain parts. If you’ve got a steady hand, you’ll be fine, but the best advice I can give you is to assemble everything when you don’t have an excited, slightly tyrannical toddler climbing all over you.

I also think that selling all of the characters and sets separately is a great thing. It means that you can still buy Toot-Toots friends toys even on varying budgets, and if a birthday or Christmas comes around, the playsets can be bought as a main present, while the smaller components can be bought by friends or relatives to build a full and comprehensive collection.

BB and I feel like we’re off to a great start as ambassadors for VTech Toot-Toot Friends – we already love the toys and can seem them being a great source of fun and education for BB in the months to come.

GetTheLabel.com Review

A few weeks ago, the guys at Get The Label asked if we’d like to review their site, and given the fact that we’re heading towards cooler weather and both girls seem to have outgrown all of their clothes, we jumped at the chance! We were given £150 to spend across the site, and this is what we got:

http://getthelabel.com

Burrito Baby wears:

Adidas Baby Girls Essential Jog Suit – £12.99

Converse Baby Girls 2 Piece Fleece Set – £14.99

Adidas Originals Infant Girls ZX 850 Trainers – £19.99

Skechers Infant Girls Keepsakes Boots – £12.99

Sausage wears:

Adidas Junior Girls Rock It Zip Hoody – £14.99

Adidas Junior Girls Rock It Jog Pants – £14.99

Adidas Junior Girls Wardrobe Jog Pant – £14.99

(vest models own!)

Mum wears:

Vero Moda Womens Alba Jumper – £9.99

Converse Womens CT Ox Diva Trainers – £32.99

GRAND TOTAL: £148.91

Given the amount of branded stuff we were able to buy, I think coming in at under £150 was actually amazing and really good value. The girls’ trackies were absolutely perfect for the autumn weather and both Adidas and Converse are brands we’ve bought before so we know the quality is high. BB’s trainers are so ridiculously adorable and the Velcro fastenings make them really easy to get on and off. Her boots will be perfect for the cooler weather and are sturdy enough to help her to walk easily, without being heavy.

As for me…well, I couldn’t let the opportunity to grab a new pair of Converse pass me by, especially as I’ve worn my old ones to the point of decimation! I was trying to find myself a grey pair, but they didn’t have them in my size, so I opted for something a bit more eye-catching! I’d not actually seen this design before, either, so I was rather chuffed with my purchase.

The jumper I bought, however, has become a part of a saga of heartbreak. I saw it on the site and absolutely loved it, and had actually planned to go back at a later date and buy myself the jumper in the other colours. However, the first time I EVER wore the turquoise one, I was standing at our local noodle bar waiting to pick up a quick dinner, holding BB as we’d just got out of the car and I looked over my shoulder only to notice that she’d got her little fingers into the knit and pulled a massive thread out! I was absolutely gutted as I very rarely buy myself anything new, and although Husband offered to replace it for me, I stubbornly refused!

LEARN FROM MY FAIL! Don’t wear that jumper if you have a fiddly toddler. Other than that, you’re good to go; it’s an absolutely gorgeous jumper which is lovely quality and very well made. It’s just that mine got destroyed!

Delivery from Get the Label was really quick and the website was easy to navigate and nice to use. We’d definitely recommend Get the Label and will be going back to buy more stuff for all of us in the future.