Last year I deliberated over whether to join in with the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ phenomenon that exploded all over my social media networks.  I really like the idea of a little visitor from Santa coming to stay throughout December to check that the kids are being well behaved.  The only thing that really put me off was that I don’t think either Meg or Eli would respond to that kind of bribery, they’d just be naughty and still expect the presents to turn up!

However, when I saw that Anna from The Imagination Tree had come up with the ‘Kindness Elves’ as an alternative to Elf on the Shelf I was intrigued.  Instead of just having an elf visitor who watches the behaviour, these elves are all about random acts of kindness and I particularly like the idea of leaving notes for the children pointing out when they have noticed lovely things the children have done.

After deciding I wanted to take part, the only struggle I had was finding suitable elves!  Apparently if you don’t want to pay £20+ it’s very difficult to obtain an elf at this time of year.

Thankfully the lovely Claire came to my rescue and sent me three little friends for the kids to meet.

And because I can’t do anything by halves, I have written a little letter to accompany them on December 1st and I have also chosen three names for the elves.  I thought long and hard about this as I really wanted them to sound genuine and to mean something, this is something that I would like to keep going for as long as possible over the years.

So, introducing, with their Nordic names and the translations:


I can’t wait to share what they get up to over the days in December and if anyone has any ideas, send them my way!

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I love cake.  I am, quite probably, a cake addict.  At the BritMums networking event on Monday I was talking with some fellow bloggers about whether we were savoury or sweet kinds of people.  I am the sweet variety, hands down.

This meant that when we were sent two of the new desserts from Coppenrath & Wiese, it was very difficult for me not to keep it under wraps and refuse to share with everyone else!  However, in the interests of fairness, and the fact that Meg spragged on me after the delivery…I had to.

We were sent the Mousse au Chocolat Torte and the Stracciatella Kirsch Torte.  Both are perfect for fans of chocolate.

The Mousse au Chocolate Torte was heavenly!  If you are a chocolate person then this is the dessert for you.  Three layers – plain, milk and white chocolate mousse on top of a chocolate sponge sat on a biscuit base.  Writing this is making me lick my lips all over again, it was simply delicious.

The Stracciatella Kirsch Torte was a mixture of chocolate and fruit.  Made up of a biscuit base, chocolate sponge with cherry infused stracciatelle cream on top.  Meg and Eli weren’t as keen on this one as the fruit had quite a sharp taste but I thought it was equally as yummy, and I felt like I was getting one of my five a day by eating it…from the cherries, obviously *ahem*.  I don’t think either myself or my Other Half felt bad for the kids, it just meant more for us!




The sponge in both the desserts was incredibly light and melted on the tongue and even though the desserts themselves were quite substantial, neither of them were heavy or stodgy which was a pleasant surprise.

Both these desserts would easily serve 8 people and would be great as a dessert option for a dinner party, or even just for a family night in.  The desserts are frozen and need defrosting fully before use (that part was quite difficult…)

With Christmas just around the corner I would definitely recommend these desserts, they would be perfect for having after Christmas lunch, especially as they are both considerably lighter than you would expect.

Coppenrath & Wiese also offer a great range of cheesecakes, gateaus and patisseries which, if these two desserts are anything to go by, will also be very tasty!

Disclaimer: We were sent the two products from Coppenrath & Wiese for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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As regular readers will know, I recently started working from home as a freelance writer and the decision was made that Eli would also stay at home with me.  In the beginning this seemed to work very well and I was almost guilty of thinking it was going to be all plain sailing (haha!) – in actuality it is easier than I expected but does still present it’s challenges.

One of those is finding the time to balance everything: working, playing, eating, cleaning, not losing my marbles etc etc

So when we were sent a selection of Organix’s Winter Warmer Range to try I was thrilled.  Lunch is always a tricky business as I haven’t usually time to prepare more than sandwiches but always feel guilty then that Eli is eating jam sandwiches every day (jam is all he will eat…which is another story in itself!)


Ready for the cold season, Organix have created a selection of Mighty Meals and Soups ideal for chilly days. Their Mighty Meals include Spaghetti with Pork & Bean Meatballs, Hearty Veg, Bean & Lamb Hotpot, Tasty Veg & Beef Stew with Dumplings and Pasta Shells & Vegetables in a Tomatoey Sauce whilst the soups feature Hearty Root Veg and Beans, Tangy Tomato and Pasta and Tasty Sweetcorn and Noodles – so a really varied choice.

I was surprised when I first came to heat one for Eli at the time it reckoned it would take to warm up, just 40 seconds.  It seemed really quick…too quick and I was worried that it wouldn’t heat properly in that time.  I’m pleased to say that was wrong and I actually needed to factor in time for it to cool down.  

For me, the big pluses are knowing that these meals are made with organic ingredients and that they take such a short time to prepare.  They are perfect for anyone who needs a quick meal when time is short and I found it so great on busy days to know Eli was getting something substantial to eat.

But, of course, the most important thing for the little people is whether it tastes good!  Eli ate the entire range we were sent and, as a particular eater (i.e. doesn’t like to try new things), I was worried they wouldn’t make it past his lips.  I tried to involve him in the preparation so that he knew what was coming and bar one day when I had to coerce and bribe him to finish his dinner (which I think is more related to him than the meatballs!) he was willing to try each one and declared them all to be tasty.


Another positive worth noting for the soups is that they are quite thick in consistency and so they don’t just run off the spoon and all down the front of the child before they’ve even had chance to get it to their mouths…which happens a lot in this house generally!  Eli was less keen on the soups than the meals, but I think that is a preference thing as he doesn’t usually deign to eat soup at all.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Mighty Meals and Soups and think they are perfect for little ones.  They are aimed at children aged 1-3 years and I think this is right.  I doubt there was enough food in the serving for Meg (who is 4 1/2 years), she would need to have something else alongside it whereas it was plenty for Eli.

Disclaimer: We were sent a selection of the Organix Winter Warmers Range to try.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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In the spirit of trying things new, when I was asked by Go Ape to review their Sherwood Pines Treetop Adventure, I said yes even though it isn’t the kind of thing I would usually go for.

However, I was determined to be brave and with my enthusiastic sister as my plus one we set off last weekend for Sherwood Forest.

Before heading onto the course we were harnessed up and given the chance to have a good go at using our caribena clips whilst we were talked extensively through how to complete the aerial assault course safely.  We were part of a group of 10, so there were 8 other participants and I don’t think any of them seemed as nervous as me.  Most were chomping at the bit and raring to go.  However, our instructor was very good at making sure that everyone felt confident before allowing us to go to the first course.

All important safety talk


The Treetops adventure is split into 6 sections and you basically complete one section before zip wiring down to the ground and walking round to the next section.  I thought this was a good idea in that it gave you time to recover if you were feeling nervous or overwhelmed and also gave you the opportunity to make your escape if you felt so inclined!  I will admit, had my sister not been there encouraging me along, I would probably have fallen into the latter group of people.

Reaction to safety talk…too late to change my mind!?!


There are a number of plaques placed at the bottom of the sections, which have interesting facts about the forest.  I thought this was a nice touch and a good distraction technique!

For people who love to test themselves then this is the ideal day out.  From climbing the rope ladders up to the platform to pushing yourself to walk on the wire without holding on (safely attached of course).  I also think it would be a good experience for someone who considers themselves to be afraid of heights.  I was not the most confident but I am really proud that I gave it a go and can say that I completed it.

There is a variety of challenges such as tunnels made of wood which handily swing as you try to crawl through to the only part that I almost didn’t complete….the Tarzan swing.  I’m actually still not 100% convinced that my sister didn’t push me off that one.  Jumping and swinging into a giant net is no mean feat, trust me.


However, being in such a serene setting was quite handy; when I found myself panicking I tried to focus on the forest around me.  Just, you know, not focussing on the fact that I was staring at the tops of some of the trees!  I have seen on the website that you can still go on the Go Ape course when it’s raining…I’m not quite sure my nerve would have stayed around for that!  Luckily, the day was clear and dry for us and we managed to complete the course in just under 2 hours, with only a few mishaps (see below)

I would recommend wearing gloves, even if the day isn’t particularly cold.  I wore mine but my sister didn’t and ended up with blisters.  Thankfully that was the worst injury of the day so not much to complain about although my sister did end up with quite muddy trousers as it took her a few tries to learn how to land at the bottom of the zip wire and not fall on her bum (sorry Abi!)


Despite being terrified for most of the day I am actually really pleased that I took part.  The staff were fantastic, really supportive and our instructor stayed with us most of the way around, checking back that we were all okay.

I think this would be great as a different gift to give for Christmas, it’s a really interesting way to test your limits and is more physically challenging than you might expect.


And, just to brighten your day here are some things I learned about myself:

1. When being put in your harness, your attractive jogging bottoms might ride up.  Make sure you are wearing matching socks otherwise people may point it out to you.

2. Tripping over at the bottom of the ladder on the first section will probably make you look like an idiot.

3. Not being able to open the security gate on all 5 remaining sections, will also probably make you look like an idiot.

4. I imagine I am the only person in the world who could observe that zip wiring from tree to tree was a bit risky if you didn’t make it…and then fail to make it all the way across with my feet just touching the platform before sliding backwards.  Note to anyone taking part – do a bit of a run up for that one!

5. And as if I needed any more reasons why I shouldn’t climb up and embrace my inner-Jane  (get it?!!) I imagine I am the only person in the world who could make the tarzan jump, get their foot caught in the net and have their shoe pulled off.  Seriously…

Disclaimer: I was offered the opportunity to visit Go Ape for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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As I’ve said in previous posts, we are big Learning Resources fans in this house.  We have reviewed a number of their products and have always found that they deliver.  Just last week Meg and Eli were playing with the Magic Moves Wand which is one of the first products we were sent, I think this is so great as it means that the toys really last the test of time.

So when the lovely folk at Learning Resources asked if we wanted to review their Design & Drill Power Tool Workshop we were very willing volunteers.  Eli is big on being a ‘builder’ and the idea of being able to have free reign with a drill that actually worked with ‘real’ nuts and bolts was beyond exciting for him.  Although the age limit on this is 3+ once he was shown how to do it, Eli hasn’t had any problem playing with this.  There is a slight risk that the small parts may make their way into a mouth, but as long as you are vigilant then I don’t see an issue.


You get a lot with this workshop.  As well as an electronic drill and screwdriver, you get a spanner and a manual screwdriver, 100 plastic regular bolts, 20 plastic fun bolts, two drill bits and an activity board which folds up into a carry case, perfect for storing all the loose pieces.  The bolts are all brightly coloured which is perfect for educational purposes.  We have played many games selecting all of one colour, for example.


This toy also encourages use of fine motor skills and it did take a while for both Meg and Eli to become adept at getting the bolts in and out but as soon as they cracked it, they both had lots of fun.  Meg in particular has enjoyed creating colourful patterns on the activity board.  With the Workshop you get an activity guide which has some suggestions of patterns you could make, we have worked together to create the different suggestions and although it has required a bit of input from me, I have been very pleasantly surprised at how well Meg did with this particular activity.


The only thing I would note is that the carry case is incredibly heavy.  It’s heavy for me to lift, never mind a child so don’t think of it as something that can be carried around with ease.  That isn’t the case.  Learning Resources have made a Take-Along Toolkit which has been created to be a portable version of this larger Workshop.


Overall, we have really enjoyed playing with this toy.  If you are looking for a gift for Christmas for your budding builder then we would really recommend this.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Design & Drill Power Tool Workshop for the purposes of this review.  However all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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