Wednesday, 18 January 2017

8 Top Tips When Recycling

Recycling Image: Shutterstock

I'm so glad that my children are growing up in an age when they don't know any different than recycling everything they can, nowadays it is about 70% of what we no longer want that can be recycled or reused. How different life was when I was small and it all just went into tons of black sacks and then the bin-men came and collected it from your back garden and left you more sacks too! We have to be a bit more proactive nowadays sorting and taking the recycling out but the long term benefits to our small island and ultimately the whole world will be worth it.

In case recycling doesn't float your boat and you are not bought into it as yet, let me share with you some tips to make it easier and more manageable -

1. Get all the family involved. For a while I bored myself silly telling the kids to wash their yogurt cartons or squash the tin cans but now it is just second nature for them to do it and put it in the recycling rather than leaving it on the side for me. It is also the children's job to take the recycling to our designated point and to sort it into the right areas; it is a nice easy way for them to earn some tech time.

2.  Educate yourself. You'd think that recycling across the UK would be pretty universal wouldn't you? But sadly not, there doesn't appear to be any joined up thinking, So some councils will take tetra packs, others plastic carrier bags, some cooked food waste. So as soon as you move to a new area check out the councils website and ensure you know what to do and when to do it and if they don't have kerbside collections for all the things you want, don't throw in the towel, see if there is a collection point you pass on the way to work/ school etc and could easily fit that drop off into your life.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Finding a Bargain at New Look with Voucher Codes

There are bargains everywhere at this time of year. We've just had Black Friday and Cyber Monday and with there only being another week or so until Christmas all the major stores are starting to get worried about their sales and are slashing prices further. Of course you'll want to get the very best deal available to you so it is still very much worth checking the voucher codes sites and if you have young ladies in the family like me then they are probably hassling you for a new Christmas outfit from a store like New Look.

This really is their favourite store at the moment so I am constantly on the look out for New Look voucher codes and I've found some good ones at https://www.myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk/new-look-voucher-codes. As I like to get a bargain I am using my discount codes along with items already in the sale and I let my girls have a look online and see what they fancied as a Christmas. Below are what they choose, I find it so funny how different each of them is.

Miss E is much more into casual clothes than her twin and her picks nearly always include denim dungarees of some type and even shorts are fine when you team them with a pair of chunky knit tights. Miss E says she fancies a pair of sparkly silver ones to go with this outfit and make it special for Christmas.

Black bomber jacket £9, Black suede brogues £9, Denim shorts £12 and Stripey top £6.
Total outfit cost = £36.00

Miss M thinks she is at least five years older than her twin and I think you can see that by her sophisticated choices -

Black trousers £7, Khaki sleeveless jacket £12, Black sling-back shoes £6 and Khaki star top £4. Total outfit cost = £29.00

Absolute bargains, don't you agree? and definitely worth finding a New Look voucher code to secure these for an even better price if you can.

My Favourite Voucher Codes
I've been using the My Favourite Voucher Codes site for a few months now and found some great discounts. There is so much on there and the New Look promo codes have been so useful. They also have a great Trust Pilot score, which is always something I check to see how reputable a website is. There are nearly 10,200 live codes as of today and I like the fact that I can see the site is being checked and updated daily so I don't end up excited about a deal that I can't actually access anymore.

Some of my favourite stores have great voucher/ promo codes available on there - like Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Halfords and Pizza Hut (buy one, get one free don't you know?).

It is good if you have a bit of time on your hands to choose one of the categories that you fancy and having a flick through the voucher codes and seeing what suits your family. There is something for everyone from clothes to food, to hotels, to wine and furniture.

Donating 20% of Profits to Charity
The other great thing is that My Favourite Voucher Codes donate 20% of the profit they make to a chosen charity for the month and us as their customers can vote on who should get the money. This month they are donating £347.19 to the Stroke Association and since 2012 they have raised £50,561.83 for the chosen charities - how fabulous if that? If you want to vote for this months chosen charity then scroll down the home page and click vote in the bottom right hand corner

You can Follow My Favourite Voucher Codes on Twitter and Facebook.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Review: Magic Dip Design Art Centre


Miss E was super pleased to receive the Magic Dip Design Art Centre from character. It retails for £29.99 and is available from most good toy stores and online at places like Amazon. The best price I found it for was at John Lewis where it is currently £24.99.

We've made a video with Miss E using the design art centre and talking about how she enjoys it and if she finds it easy, have a watch -



Here are the pros and cons that we found -

Pro's -
  • It was easy enough for a 9 year old to set up and use alone (whilst under my beady eye)
  • The marbled items look fabulous if you use a light hand to dip them
  • You get unique items every time
  • You can dip and marble most anything you fancy - candles, ceramic, silicon, plastics, wood, paper, card, glass and textiles
  • It dries quickly and the spay sets the paint
  • Once you have dipped your item, you can clear the water really easily to mix fresh paints and dip something else
  • Any messes are easily cleared up with simple nail polish remover
  • it is great fun and keeps the kids happy
Points to think about -
  • Don't forget to protect your work area (we use an old oil cloth on the table) and use an apron (we forgot!)
  • Make sure the water is room temp, it makes the world of difference
  • You have to be quick, once the paint is on the water it is starting to set already
  • Dip paper or card based products quickly as too much time in the water and they start to soak it up
  • Only one glove supplied and ours was ruined after one session
  • The paint contains irritants, is toxic to aquatic life and is highly flammable, so it needed to be used carefully and under supervision. We found our dining room was quite smelly after a while and I had to open the window and finish our session.

In all we think the Magic Dip Design Art Centre is great and would make a super Christmas present for a young boy or girl who likes to craft. Due to the ingredients of the paints the child needs to be 8+ years and work under supervision in a well ventilated room.

You can also buy a starter kit with 4 paints, glossy spray, glitter, gems and a few things to dip for just £10, as well as replacement paints, which are £5 for 5 colours and I think that is reasonable.



Disclosure: We received this set free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Challenged to Kit Miss E Out for £50 with Get The Label


Both my twin 9 year old girls were set the challenge by Get The Label to kit themselves out with an outfit (footwear, tops/bottom or dress and a jacket/jumper) for £50. I mentioned in my other post that I thought they were having a laugh, you might be able to kit out a baby or toddler in a full outfit for £50 but surely not a girl who wears age 11/12 clothes with adult sized feet?

I'm happy to put my hands up in the air and say I was wrong, you really can and I think Miss E's outfit is so funky. I love her sense of style, she knows exactly what she likes and is not at all swayed by her very opinionated twin sister or anyone else.

Miss E is not as confident on the web as her sister so we started to browse the Get The Label site together and I steered her into the clearance section and footwear at first as I thought that might be the most expensive part of the outfit. Well in Miss E's case I was certainly right as she fell straight in love with a pair of limited edition Swizzels Love hearts sweets Kickers boots. She is a girl after my own heart, I remember owning my very first pair of kickers when I was 17 years old and I had paid for them myself and they cost so much money. Well no need to spend a ton of money nowadays as these ones only cost £23.99, that's far less than I spent back in 1990.

Here is what Miss E choose in all -
  • Kickers junior girls kick lite hi boots £23.99 (should retail at £64.99)
  • French connection juniors girls safety pin dress £15.68 (should retail at £34.99)
  • Adidas women's collegiate jumper £9.49 (not known, as no longer on the website but I think £29.99)


The total for her three items came to £49.16 and I think she did a great job of buying three items that she can wear together but also style with totally different outfits too. Miss M already has her eye on the Adidas jumper to borrow!

If Miss E had bought these elsewhere without any discount from Get The Label the cost for the three items would have been £129.97, so we made a saving of £80.81 and just imagine what we can do with that amount instead!

Thank you Get The Label for a fun challenge, we will happily shop with you again as we found your service, delivery and clothes to be really great.

Why don't you have a look what her twin sister, Miss M chose too.


If you fancy winning an outfit for your child for £50.00 and 4 tickets to Gulliver's World you can enter over HERE.


Disclosure: We received the clothes free of charge for the purpose of this post but I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Monday, 28 March 2016

JJ Trials Code Kingdoms

About three weeks ago JJ was given access to the website Code Kingdoms to try out their hands-on coding course for kids (recommended for ages 8 - 14+). I have to confess that I know nothing really about coding and even less about Minecraft itself, so when I was asked if this was something that might be of interest, I sent JJ the link and asked him to take a look and let me know. After a look round the Code Kingdoms site and learning that he would get his own Minecraft server to make modifications on, he was sold on the idea. Take a quick peek at the promotional video and see for yourself a glimpse into what Code Kingdoms provides and why JJ was interested -



However there has proved to be one small problem.... and it is NOT with Code Kingdoms I hasten to add, but with my son. What's the problem? Well JJ LOVES to play Minecraft and not just loves it but absolutely adores and from what I understand he is very good at it.  In fact he holds a Guinness World record for doing something or the other in Minecraft and here lies the problem. He is far more interesting in playing than coding,

So he spent some time checking out the instructional videos on Code Kingdoms and doing a bit of coding but he is already used to using a programme called Scratch at school where you use coloured visual blocks of code to drag and drop and he found Code Kingdoms similar at it's most basic level (but there are three more levels), so to be totally honest with you he didn't use it too much more.

Over Easter I sat JJ down and asked him to give me a tour of Code Kingdoms and explain to me what it was all about. I can edit some HTML in my blog so how different can this be I wondered? Well, the answer is very different. The language JJ was using was all new to me - 'methods', 'for loops', 'coding blocks' and 'boolean' to start with and I can honestly say that if it was not for the superb videos provided by Code Kingdoms I'd still have no idea as JJ really didn't have the patience to explain it all to me.

It is a different world that our kids are growing up in and Code Kingdoms are passionate to help youngsters grow up to be equipped for the digital future by making computing more engaging and accessible, particularly for girls who are underrepresented in these areas of work currently.


CK Code Editor -
First off you have the CK code editor (shown above), which is specially designed for Code Kingdoms and for use by kids interested in learning Java. It is intuitive to use and has an easy drag and drop editor for you to start with but the editing screen is clever as you can start by using coloured blocks of code with pictures and as you become more competent you can move through three stages until you are just editing raw java code. This is one of the things that makes Code Kingdoms unique, as most coding programmes just operate in either drag and drop or text based coding and that means young coders can feel a disconnect as they move from one to the other but not so with Code Kingdoms.

Here is what Code Kingdoms say about why they use Java code -
We strongly believe in learning with real code. Young coders are often taught pseudo-code, which they often master very quickly. The problem is though that it doesn't prepare them enough for the jump to a real programming language and text-based code, so a lot of coders stop there. 
We want to make real code more accessible. Our projects, video content and code editor expose learners to chunks of real code and computing concepts from the very beginning. Even our draggable chunks contain a real language (like Java and JavaScript) with correct syntax to ensure the code compiles for them. 
Just being exposed to code isn't going to make them an expert, but this early familiarisation of real concepts does help to make for a much smoother transition to real code.
To get started -
You need a computer with Minecraft installed and an active Minecraft account for use with Code Kingdoms and wonderfully there is no need to download anything as everything for Code Kingdoms is cloud based and can be accessed via your internet browser (Chrome is recommended). Having had a look at the editor myself I'd say you need to know a bit about how Minecraft works and some of the commonly used technology as many of the blocks of code made no sense to me as I do not know what 'Equip Full Armour Set' means.

Peace of mind for Parents -
The first thing to assure you is that the server that your child is provided with access to from Code Kingdoms is able to be played with friends but JJ tells me it is a whitelist server, which means your child can only add friends whose Minecraft name they know. It is not accessible by the public and thus remains safe.

Also you'll receive emails from Code Kingdoms giving you an update on the progression your child has made through the sequence of tutorials and learning outcomes. As this has been developed by teachers and programmers (with child input) it is linked to the curriculum for 8 - 14 years and logically builds on your child's learning each time they log-on and play.

Video Courses -
Right now there are six different video courses in Code Kingdoms. The idea is that your child watches the video and learns how to write the code/ make the modifications to the server and then they go ahead and actually do it in the editor and when you press run it will be live on your server on your Minecraft account. JJ said it was really good that it runs straight away as it is important not to have any lag. He was disappointed though that the gameplay you do once you have created and saved your mods does not seem to save. He played online with a friend the other day for about 90 minutes and they built quite a lot in their world and next time he went back it wasn't there and he was super unhappy about that.

Code Kingdoms advertise that there is 20+ weeks of videos available but JJ felt it wouldn't take him anywhere near this long to go through them all but I did explain to him that perhaps he has more tech access than many kids and also he is super clever in this area and finds it all very easy. He also felt that the videos were aimed at a younger age than him (he is 12) but as I mentioned before I'm not sure if he had just shut down to the idea of coding when he realised that the server was not as changeable as he hoped (he wanted to be able to purchase plug-ins for it to make it just how he wants it) and really what he wanted to be doing was playing Minecraft rather than learning code.

What support is there?
Tons is the simple answer. Any question that you or your child has, you can click on the support button and send it off and a team of trained teachers and programmers will respond.

What does it cost?
There is no contract for Code Kingdoms and it is £14.99 per month on a rolling basis. I love the fact that you can try it out and see how your child gets on with it as there is a 30 day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.  Once you have tried it out and know that your child likes it and is gaining valuable coding experience then it might be worth taking out the value 6 month membership, which is £49.99 as a one-off payment.

Will we use it again?
Well JJ says he won't as it doesn't hold his interest but it has certainly peeked mine and I'm pretty sure that one of my 8 year old twin girls would be interested in it, so I'll be having a session with her later this week to introduce her to Code Kingdoms and see if an 8 year old can master it alone or if she'll need my input.


Disclosure: JJ received complimentary access to Code Kingdoms for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.