Tootsa MacGinty:Bold, Comfy and Perfect For Kids

‘I wanted to offer an alternative to the sea of pinks and blues, whilst also being practical, easy care, quality clothing. A unisex range which doesn’t limit a child and and lets a child be a child.’

These are the wise words of Tootsa MacGinty owner – Kate Pietrasik and are the exact thoughts that have run through my mind so many times whilst out shopping with my little ones.

As a mum of five I know how each and every child is so wonderfully different and not one of mine has fallen into a box that goes with those stereotypical tags that are in place when it comes to choosing clothing for girls and boys.

I have two little boys that have a huge love for pink and neither of my girls have been big fans of pink, frilly dresses so to find a brand that allows them to chose what they like without the worry of choosing something from ‘the wrong’ section is a breath of fresh air and this is exactly what Toota offer.

Their bold patterns and striking colours make this brand stand out from the crowd and the comfortable, wearable design and fit are perfect for active little ones.

My boys were lucky enough to be sent some items from Tootsa and they certainly put them through their paces.

The Newfoundland Lumberjack Jacket has been pretty much surgically attached to them since it arrived!

The bright checked print and cosy fluffy lining bring a more wearable addition to the usual denim jacket for this time of year and we have been stopped on more than one occasion to ask where they are from.

We love layering in this house as being on the go all the time and going from being cosy inside to hitting the great outdoors several times a day we need clothes to suit every eventuality.

Tootsa has a great collection of cosy sweatshirts to help with this. There is a whole host of different colours and patterns To choose from. The boys absolutely love their Toronto Sweatshirt covered in eskimos and totem poles that is perfect for this time of year.

Lastly we tried out their Classic Slimfit Jeans. This was a bit of a change for me as I always opt of super skinny jeans for all the children and I ordinarily don’t like the fit of any other styles, but I was very pleasantly surprised by these.

The looser fit that tapers in at the ankle was a great style and makes for a great wardrobe staple.

The thing that really draws me to Tootsa clothing though is their attention to detail and quality make in every piece.

From patches on the pockets to flashes of fabric in the turn-ups they have thought of everything to make for happy parents and happy kids alike!

* We were sent these items for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Gifts For Teens From Prezzybox.com

Teens and pre-teens are notoriously the hardest group of people to buy for, and for me it’s especially hard when it comes to little stocking fillers for Christmas morning.

Mine always have a stocking until well into their teens so that nobody is left out from that exciting treat of dipping into the long sock filled with goodies.

This year I have got together with prezzybox.com and managed to find some fun, affordable and quirky gifts for Izzy and Archie that I know they are going to absolutely love.

Izzy who is twelve loves anything pink, glittery or social media related and they had gifts aplenty to fit this.

The Iris The Unicorn Travel Mug which will be perfect for keeping warm in this freezing weather, a Neon Magic Hairbrush that is a super vibrant colour that fits perfectly inside her schoolbag and the one that I think is going to be a favourite is a Selfie Light that attaches to the back of your phone to create that perfect selfie.

Archie the moody teen who has just turned fifteen is now and has always been so hard to buy for. I love the fact that he rarely asks for gifts, but this is not much help when trying to get ready for Christmas.

However it only took a few minutes to find some gifts that were just perfect for him.

What teen doesnt love sweets! well mine certainly do and the tub of Personalised Retro Sweets is going to go down a storm I’m sure. Next up was a set of six Emoji Golf Balls that come in three different colours with a cool emoji on each ball. Lastly he was a real fan of the fidget spinner when the craze hit a few moths ago so I went one better with the Baffle Puzzle that is a little like a Rubik cube in a cylindrical shape.

Prezzybox.com not only caters for teens but for all different ages, genders and occasions and can be easily ordered from the comfort of your home to avoid that manic high street shopping. It’s the perfect site to stock up on different gifts at this time of year and there really is something for everyone.

* I was gifted these products for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Teaching Children To Give A Little This Christmas

With the media whirlwind that surrounds Christmas it can be very easy for children to get wrapped up in the commercialisation of it all and loose the true meaning.

It is very easy to get swept up in all the splender that surrounds Christmas and loose sight of the fact that this time of year is not a happy one for all of us.

Christmas is the perfect time to teach children the gift of giving and set them up with skills to show understanding and compassion for those less fortunate.

Something small such a helping out an elderly neighbour with odd jobs or simply a gift of their time is a simple way to give something back.

There are many ways to get the children involved and below I have listed a few charities local to me that offer a great way to do this:

  • Loveworks Christmas Appel Loveworks are a Reigate based charity that’s aim is to help the most vulnerable groups of people in the local area. Over Christmas they run a campaign where you can collect non perishable goods during November and drop off to your local Loveworks food bank in the first week of December.
  • Stripey Stork, Help Santa StorkStripey Stork is a charity created by a group of mums who wanted to make use of their unwanted baby and children’s items by giving them to people in need in the local community. Over the Christmas period they run a campaign called Help Santa’s Stork that allows you to either pick a brand new gift for a child either directly from Amazon or chosen by purchasing and dropping off at local collection points.
  • Give A Christmas Gift – Give A Christmas Gift campaign allows you but a gift from the list they have compiled and then drop your special gift off to several collection points that will then be distribute the collections amongst several local charities.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought and I would love to hear any ideas of charitable acts that you carry out with your little ones at this time of year.

Home Of Black Friday Pop-Up Experience With Amazon

Christmas is well on the way now and for many of us the worry of being able to get everyone their much longed for gifts is something that is hard to deal with.

Christmas is a truly magical time of year but the pressures of financing everything can make this happy time dampened by the pressure.

There are however ways around this with Black Friday being one of the best ways to save a fortune in the run up to Christmas.

Amazon are streets ahead when it comes to Black Friday and have taken things a step further this year with a super quirky pop-up experience in the heart of Soho Square to celebrate.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch last night where we got the chance to see what is going to be on offer and listen to the thoughts behind Black Friday from retail expert – Clare Bailey.

Claire was explaining that for most of us over the years we have realised that giving money is a better option of gifting as the January sales start the minute Christmas finishes and all those gifts we have spend our hard earned money on are dramatically reduced.

However there is no thought or love behind gifting people with cash so being able to make huge savings before christmas is a great way to allow people to enjoy giving an actual gift.

The pop-up shop is a way of showcasing over 100 curated Black Friday deals with the addition of being able to try out games in their super cool games room, take part in games for your chance to win some great prizes and partake in workshops from Amazon Handmade Artisans, YouTube stars and TV chefs.

I had a wonderful evening meeting talented sellers from Amazon Marketplace such as the lovely Lavinia the owner of Lavolio who makes delicious and beautifully packaged handmade chocolates. And the guys behind Cozy Glow candles that would certainly give that well know candle male a run for their money!

They have such passion for their brand which makes their products so much more appealing.

One room in the shop was set up like a beauty salon where I was treated to a hair makeover from GHD and tried out some fabulously vibrant Max Factor lipstick that lasts for an amazing 24 hours.

The shop is open from 12.30-7.30 from Tuesday 21st November until Friday 24th November and is certainly worth a trip for a fantastically interactive shopping experience and some fantastic bargains.

Bobux:Comfort, Style, Made With Love

“we make shoes that are the best thing parents can do for their kids feet”

These are the words of the husband and wife mastermind behind the beautiful brand – Bobux.

For me choosing shoes for infants is a hugely important task with so many things to consider. Their delicate little feet need to be well protected, the shoe needs to be comfortable and easy to move around in and also look good.

Bobux have got this down to a tee and taken all these elements to create beautiful shoes that grow with your child.

My youngest two are super adventurous and certainly know their own minds when it comes to dressing so something that can withstand active boys whist appealing to their fashion needs is always a challenge.

Thankfully from the minute they started to scroll though the vast collection that Bobux have online their wish lists grew and grew and had to be whittled down to their favourites.

With the colder weather fast approaching we decided on a pair of boots for the both of them with Oscar going for the red Outback boot and Frankie and his quirky taste going for the silver Vault boot.

Both boots are made of super soft leather with zip fastenings and an elastic panel to the side making them really easy to get on and off.

We put the boots to the test with a walk around town and no complaint was made about sore or uncomfortable feet. So often within a few hours I have little ones moaning and groaning about shoes that rub or simply just don’t feel right.

The quality make and leather of this boots really shone through and made for an easy day for us all.

The simplistic design means they are perfect for everyday wear but can equally be dressed up for a special occasion.

They also lend themselves well to suiting both sexes.

As I said Frankie loves something alternative so the super cool silver was a big hit with him and the boldred of oscars boots really makes a statement.

The love and attention to detail really shines thoughin each pair of shoes and they arecertainly a brand we will be going back to time and time again.

*collaborated post

Opening My Eyes To Organic Living With Arla Foods

How long does it take you to get your weekly shop?

If you are anything like me my list varies very little from week to week and it’s just a grab and go, to get in and out as quickly as possible with items such as bread, eggs and milk being staples that I probably haven’t changed in years.

I’m sure that many of you are with me on this, and it wasn’t until I visited Cockhaise Farm in Sussex last week, really shifted my thoughts on the way I shop and opened my eyes up to organic, free range products.

Arriving to this beautiful farm and sitting sipping coffee on the patio could have transported you into a scene from the ‘Darling Buds Of May’ which always seemed like such an idyllic way to bring up a family although in reality I know that a farmers life is a tough one and I was here to learn exactly what goes into our everyday milk that most of us doesn’t give a second thought when buying.

Dan talked us thorough how he came to become an organic dairy farmer and his passion for his product and his herd was clear to see from the very first moment.
Dan’s dairy farm is very much a family business and the love for their animals really made it feel as if they were part of the family too.

This farm follows the ruling of organic farming by making the welfare of the animals and the environment a top priority, not using any artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients and fewer pesticides.

Instead the cows are allowed to graze freely as much as possible in fields full of chemical free, clover rich fields.

We got the chance to see how happy they were by going to visit the fields that honed the most adorable calves…I’m not sure what they made of a group of bloggers armed with cameras and phones galore!

From the young and happy calves we made our way to see a field full of pregnant cows and got to experience first-hand the first few fumbling steps of a calf that has literally just been born.

I was chatting to Dan’s father at the time who is also a retired organic dairy farmer who said that the birth of a calf is always special no matter how many time you experience it.

From here we made our way into the milking sheds that weren’t operational at the time but it was still amazing to see.

We had now been shown the milking process from the very beginning and it was now time to see how the beautiful product could be used and we were treated to a cookery demonstration from Ben a local chef who’s passion for organic products was just as great as Dan’s.

The demonstration was all set up in a barn with a fabulous hay barrel backdrop where Matt worked his magic on showing us how to create a Sussex smokey scotch egg that had an alternative filling of mashed potato and smoked haddock rather than the usual sausage meat, and a delectable vanilla creme brûlée that I could have sampled more than one of!

If you like the sound of these delicious recipes I have left them below for you to try yourself at home.

From the vibrancy of the colours of the egg yolks to the rich creaminess of the milk it is without a doubt there are not only benefits to the way organic food is produced but it also comes through in the product itself tenfold.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

• 200ml Double Cream
• 100ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 50g sugar
• 1 vanilla pod

  1. Preheat the water bath to 80C or if using the oven 140C/120 Fan.
  2. Warm the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a small saucepan to 60C.
  3. In a large bowl wish together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the warm cream and milk into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into individual shallow jars and screw on the lids very tightly.
  6. Place the jars in the water bath to cook for 60 mins then remove from the water with tongs and cool on ice.
  7. Alternatively place in oven for 20-22 mins until just set.
  8. Once set sprinkle the surface with sugar and brûlée with a blowtorch.Allow the sugar to set for 5 mins before serving.

Sussex Smokey Scotch Eggs

• 4 medium organic eggs
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep frying
• Salt and pepper for seasoning
• 1 pint Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 250g natural smoked haddock
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g potatoes for mashing
• 1 bunch of finely chopped dill
• 119g High Weald smoked cheddar chopped or grated
• 1 banana shallot
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 leek
• 1 stick of celery
• 1/2 carrot
• 3oz butter
• 3oz plain flour
• 330g flour
• 1 organic medium egg
• 200ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 300g or packet of breadcrumbs

1.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

2.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

3.Remove haddock and save both for later

4. Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

5.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

6.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

7.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

8. Remove haddock and save both later.

9.Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

10.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

11.Peel the boiled eggs and dust in seasoned flour.

12.When the casing mixture is cool delete the into 4 portions and wrap around wash egg enclosing it completely. Chill for at least one hour to ensure it keeps its shape.

13.In the meantime prepare your station to breadcrumb the eggs.

14.You will need three shallow trays, one for the seasoned flour, one for the beaten egg and one for the breadcrumbs.

15.Firstly take the encased eggs one. Y one and put into the seasoned flour, making sure it is well coated.

16.Shake off any access flour and pass the food into the beaten egg, again making sure it is well coated.

17.Shake off any access and finally pass the food into the breadcrumbs again making sure it’s well coated.

18.Tap the food firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs are well attached and remove the crumbs into a clean plate or tray.

19.Now deep fry the completed eggs at 160C until golden brown.

*collaborated post

My Mini Pop Artists At Warhol Croydon

Research from the International Child Art Foundation has found that a child that is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property – key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twentieth century.

This is why exposing my litttle ones to as much art and culture as possible is of great importance to us as a family.

By this I don’t mean sitting in front of text books flicking through endless pages of text, but actually getting out and exploring which for me is a far more interesting way of gaining knowledge.

This weekend we took a trip into Croydon to explore the Warhol Croydon exhibition that has been bought to the streets of Croydon by the award winning RISE Gallery.

The street exhibition has been inspired by the life and works of Andy Warhol who was a leading artist in the 1960’s pop art movement.

A group of extremely talented artists have come together to create twelve instillations taken from the inspiration of his work and placed across the whole town centre.

There are plenty of free guided walks that you can book online to take part in or go it alone like we did.

The tour took us from the bustling high street full of shoppers to super quiet derelict buildings, from high rise offices to beautiful gardens and the quirky streets of Surrey Street Market.

We stopped and took time to take in each piece and the children really loved telling me their thoughts…some not so complementary and some hilarious.

It’s wonderful to see what others see when looking at the same piece of art and there is nothing thing better than seeing things through a child’s eyes.

The tour took us some time as I didn’t follow the route as marked out which from experience I would suggest doing.

With the tour complete we headed off to the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centre to take part in the Andy Warhol themed session that allowed Oscar and Frankie to become Mini pop artists for the afternoon.

We are familiar with Whitgift Weeenies Kids Club sessions that are put on throughout the year and are completely free to take part in.

The sessions can be anything from animal handling to art sessions and are suitable for children aged 3-10.

This session saw the children trying their hand at printing by carving out a picture into a foam board, covering it  with as much and as many different colours as they like and then creating their own Pop Art style masterpiece.

The friendly staff were at hand to help out where needed yet allowing the children free reign to really bring out their creative side.
Cleaned up and art in hand we finished off our jam packed day at RISEgallery they at the moment is homing some pieces of original artwork by Andy Warhol himself.

It certainly wasn’t a stuffy gallery that didn’t want enquisitive children around, we were infact all warmly welcomed, shown around the gallery and even had a chat about the art work that the boys had created.

The exhibition is on until the end of the month and there is still time to book in for this Sunday’s Wennies Kids Club session, so get yourself booked in as it’s something not to be missed!
*collaborated post