Clever Tykes Storybooks: Inspiring Stories For Children 

Clever Tykes are wonderfully inspirational storybooks for children ages 6-9. They are the creation of husband and wife team Ben and Jodie Cook, who were recently listed in Forbes 30 under 30, for social entrepreneurs across Europe. The initiative is sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, which has allowed these education storybooks and teaching resources to be available to UK primary schools completely free. There is a portal available where schools can sign up and access everything they need to teach enterprise education for key stage 2.

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The Clever Tykes stories are centred around entrepreneurship. The characters are fantastic positive role-models and the storylines also promote other important traits such as problem-solving, resiliance, positivity, persistence, innovation and playing to strengths or following a passion. The founders aim is to “help you inspire and empower your children to be the most creative and proactive young people they can be.”
 

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As an ex-teacher and now home educator, I think these books are absolutely brilliant! Everything about them resonates strongly with me, and I wholeheartedly agree with the founders’ values and thoughts behind these stories. As I read their website, I found myself constantly nodding along and thinking to myself ‘yes, this is so my thinking too!’ 

They want to “adopt a grass roots approach to inspiring innovative behaviour.” They go on to state: “As a society, we must demonstrate to young people that a challenging and rewarding career can be as an entrepreneur in a private venture, social enterprise or charity. We need to promote the right role models for our children to emulate.” Yes! This. 100% agree.

The books are very well written and provide awesome role-models who children can relate to, and encourage thinking outside the box and creativity. They genuinely empower children! They also cover a range of subjects; an excellent teaching resource in so many ways. 

My favourite story is Change-it Cho. I have fallen in love with this story to be honest! I love her demonstration of persistence, even in the face of adversity. It reminded me so much of the phrase ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’. It shows children how to stand up for what is right and not give up, or take no for an answer – in a good way, of course! It teaches children the traits that are necessary to thrive in today’s world. 

I can see these books have the potential to really help create a young generation of go-getters and change-makers! I seriously cannot recommend these stories enough. Parents and educators – check them out! 

*Disclosure: I was sent these books free in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

CakeToppers – Personalised Cakes: Review and Giveaway

I think Caketoppers read my mind; just when I was busy organising Squiggle’s party and thinking about her birthday cake, they dropped me an email asking if I would like to review their personalised photo cupcakes. Since it’s her birthday, they kindly agreed to send me cake toppers for her birthday party cake as well as two cupcakes to sample too, which I really appreciate!

Caketoppers is based in Farnham, Surrey and offers a selection of personalised photo cupcakes, celebration cakes and toppers. You can use photos, logos or even drawings to personalise your choice of cake, so it makes it really unique. I chose my Living Life Our Way logo for the cupcakes. For the birthday cake toppers, I designed a picture on a photo app using some of Squiggle’s own drawings.

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The cupcakes and toppers arrived promptly and were well packaged. I don’t like to create so much waste with plastic packaging personally, but it certainly meant that everything arrived very fresh and in perfect condition.

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So firstly, the cupcakes. They are absolutely delicious! I literally dreamt about these cakes (yeah, yeah, I know). They were really moist and fluffy; they honestly tasted like they had just that second been made (by someone with far superior baking skills that my own!) Gorgeous. I would tell you what the rest of the family thought of them, but they wouldn’t know… they were way too good to share! I sampled one vanilla sponge and one chocolate; both were to the same yummy standard. I personally liked the vanilla sponge best but that is just my personal preference – both really were delicious!

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The cupcake samples, like my example above, can be purchased for £5 including delivery. A set of 6 cupcakes are £12.99 plus postage. There are also various other options, so check out the website for details.

As for the cake toppers, Squiggle loved the fact that her party cake was so unique and personal, decorated with her very own drawings. It meant so much to her! The cake toppers are easy to use; they came with detailed instructions but basically you just peel the back off then use icing to stick them on. They are ideal if you plan on baking a homemade cake but want a special finishing touch to decorate it with. Cake toppers cost from £7.45 for a round, square or rectangle edible photo topper.

I ended up buying a supermarket ‘decorate your own’ celebration cake for the topper, which was a tiny bit too small so doesn’t really do the topper justice. However, that is entirely my own fault and not a reflection of Caketoppers whatsoever! Squiggle didn’t notice at all though – as I said, she was delighted with her special cake! We all were infact, love it.

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Caketoppers do also sell the right size cakes to match the cake toppers so you can decorate it yourself, if you fancy a semi DIY job. A round or medium square undecorated cake is £20 and large square (10 inch) is £26. (Plus delivery charges). I’ll admit I would have much rather ordered her party cake from them too, especially after tasting those amazing cupcakes, but this didn’t quite manage to happen – despite the fact that they do also have a super speedy next day delivery option. Mummy fail. Oops! (Long story that I won’t bore you with but absolutely nothing to do with the company!)

Alternatively, you can purchase photo cakes with your own design printed on them, so the same concept as the cupcakes, only bigger. This is an easy, convenient option; and is the one that I am more than likely to opt for next time! These cost from £32.50 plus P&P for a medium 8 inch cake.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Caketoppers, we are really impressed with them. It is a shame that the same can’t be said of my cake- making or organising skills! 😉

Last but certainly not least, Caketoppers have kindly offered up for grabs a set of 6 yummy cupcakes, with the design of the winner’s choice. So enter my giveaway below for a chance to try these for yourself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK residents only. Ends 7th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

*Disclosure: I was sent the cupcakes and toppers free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Perfect Glasses: Review 

It had never occured to me to shop online for any type of glasses before, so when perfectglasses.co.uk got in touch with me, I was quite intrigued and keen to give it a go! As I don’t need to wear prescription eye glasses personally, and summer is (hopefully!) on its way, I opted to review a pair of sunglasses for myself.

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They offer an excellent selection, including various designer brands, and have options across a range of prices. (Prescription glasses start at just £9!) The sunglasses can be ordered as non-prescription but are also available as prescription sunglasses too. I decided to have a little nosey at how this would work and it looked really straightforward; you simply enter the specifics of your prescription and they take care of it… so easy!

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The website sells lots of different styles. If, like me, you aren’t sure what shape will suit your face, there is a handy feature where you can take a selfie then look in the virtual mirror to see what they would look like. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this made it to decide, without needing to actually try them on. There are also clear accurate measurements in the descriptions, which is helpful to note when making your choice. As with any sunglasses, some styles/ brands are smaller than others, so this information is useful to help pick a pair suited to you.

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The website itself is easy to navigate. There are different categories, and the results can then be filtered based on materials, size, colour, type and shape, and can be sorted by price. In my opinion, I think there seems to be a bigger range than you would find in most stores. I am sure there is something to suit everyone!

I specifically wanted a metal frame as I personally prefer this over plastic, so I searched under this filter. (I probably would have opted for a wooden pair if that had been an option!) I had alot of fun ‘trying on’ the different styles and looking through all the various options. I found it far more enjoyable than going into a shop to buy some! Once the frame has been selected, there are various options depending on the type of lenses needed.

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The service was excellent and delivery very quick. The glasses came via a carbon neutral courier and were well packaged with enough packaging that they were secure and arrived undamaged, but without unnecessary packaging (which is a good thing of course!) 

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The sunglasses are exactly how I expected them to be, the virtual mirror and accurate description meant there were no surprises there. They are good quality; they feel nice and sturdy. They are also really comfortable. Ordering the glasses online was convenient and easy – I’d definitely be happy to order from the website again. 

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*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wicked Uncle Review – Fun Gift Ideas For Kids (STEM Toys)

Wicked Uncle is a cool website that specialises in awesome gifts for kids. More than that, it is set up to make it easy for anyone to be able to choose a brilliant suitable present – even if they don’t know the child very well. It is also great if you are simply stuck for good ideas and need some inspiration. 

I was given the opportunity to review their website; they gave me a voucher code and my brief was to choose products with a focus on science and engineering. (Ideal as Squiggle loves STEM toys!) This is the first time I have shopped on their website and I found it super easy to use. I also tried to consider how simple it would be if I was buying for someone I don’t know at all, and I can totally imagine it would be straightforward and take the stress out of it! 

The website allows you to select gender, specific age and categories (such as outdoors, sensory, engineering, creative and various others). Or you can browse all options within any of these sections. I admit I am not a fan of organising toys by gender but I do understand that some customers might want to ‘play it safe’ and find this function useful. Plus there is a good selection in both the boys and girls sections; the range is not divided up in a way that is too stereotypical thankfully. And of course you can just choose ‘all’ for this instead if you prefer to be gender neutral, like us! 

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Given I was looking for engineering toys specifically, I selected that category and looked up the appropriate age range (in this case, 8 – 11 years old). I could then search the products by price or popularity. I have to say, there is an excellent selection of items; including some really unique ideas!

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I spent ages browsing the website and was really impressed. There were lots of items that I wouldn’t have thought of myself and have never spotted them anywhere else before. I also came across lots of great gift ideas for other people while I was browsing, lots of inspiration for future occasions! I eventually decided on the Salt Water Engine Car (£15.95) and Tin Can Cable Car (£14.95) plus I couldn’t resist throwing in the funky Mood Cube (£5.50) too.

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Ordering is easy, and there are options such as gift wrap and choosing a card (at a small extra cost) should you require it. Once ordered, delivery is quite quick; my parcel arrived within a few days. It also comes with a cute (and funny!) thank you card for the gift, which is a nice little touch.

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I chose these particular two items because from the descriptions I could tell that they would be fun, educational toys that Squiggle would really enjoy. I also like the eco- friendly nature of them too; I value toys and activities that emphasise the importance of being environmentally conscious.

I knew Squiggle would find it interesting that the car runs from salt water and this can also lead onto further discussion about clean energy (which is something we have already talked about alot before, but it is still a good reminder!) There were more pieces than I expected, but that’s great as it means the activity actually lasts more than five minutes! It is lovely that we can properly get into it together. 

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I like the tin can cable car activity because it reinforces the concept of reusing and upcycling. I also knew that Squiggle would let her creative side take over and use this as a zip wire for her smaller toys – as this is something she was already trying to design by herself in the garden anyway! Her previous attempts at improvising were fantastic, but this kit is ideal!

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In summary, I am very impressed with the website and will definitely be using it to buy gifts again in the future! It is absolutely brilliant for coming up with unique gift ideas. It also comes highly recommended by others too – it is an award winning service infact; rated 99 out of 100, based on many reviews. Well done, Wicked Uncle!

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*Disclosure: I was given a voucher code so I could shop on Wicked Uncle website for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Term Wellies Review 

From splashing in puddles and paddling in streams, to squelching in mud and wading through the wilderness (well ok, exploring the local woodlands anyway!) we spend a huge amount of time outside. With all our outdoor adventures, good footwear is a must; so wellies are an essential item for Squiggle!

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I am sure her new wellies won’t stay this shiny for long!

We received a pair of wellies by Term footwear to review. This is a small UK company who have been selling children’s shoes for 7 years. The husband and wife team began by importing and selling a variety of footwear brands in the UK, and have now partnered with some great suppliers and designers to launch their own brand. The wellies are manufactured in the EU and conform to EU standards.

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The wellies come in a variety of colours so I showed Squiggle the website and let her pick out which colour she preferred. The wellies come with thick removable roll top socks, so they are sold as dual EU sizes (because they are an EU size bigger with the sock removed). It was easy to figure out what size to choose though because the website gives clear information on this. Once we had ordered, the wellies were delivered within a few days.

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The wellies are really flexible and lightweight, and Squiggle reports that they are very comfortable. They retail at £21.99, which is more than I usually spend on wellies, but these will be likely to last much longer probably, especially with the removable sock/ dual size and also in terms of actual quality too. Squiggle loves them!

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Term wellies can be purchased here.

Follow Term footwear on social media: 

Twitter @termfootwear

Instagram @termfootwear

*Disclosure: We were sent a pair of Term wellies free for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Name A Star: Review and Giveaway 

Do you get stuck with gift ideas? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes! I love thoughtful presents; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with something that really fits the bill. So when I found about naming your very own star, I was excited to discover such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything (I bet they don’t have their very own star!), anyone with an interest in stargazing or who loves the outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different! 

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Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!

I was sent an extra bright star gift set to review. This lovely set includes my very own star, which I not only got to name but was also able to choose which constellation I wanted it in too, an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.

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I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.

If you would like the chance to win your own star naming, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 10th April 2017. Open to UK residents only. Winner will be able to name their star and will receive Bright Star Naming certificate (enveloped version). Other T&Cs apply.

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*Disclosure: I was gifted the Extra Bright Star free for the purpose of this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

November Rain Poncho: Review and Giveaway 

November Rain is an awesome stylish brand of poncho that launched back in November 2016 in USA, and are now available in the UK too. I was kindly sent one of these funky ponchos to review and also have a giveaway for one lucky reader to win one too! (See further down to enter).

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November Rain poncho – Ocean Blue design

November Rain ponchos come in a choice of three lovely designs. I admit I deliberated for sometime on my decision before opting for the plain Ocean Blue design (because I have lots of patterned tops and figured this would be more versatile if I might want to wear it partially unzipped anytime!) I was genuinely really drawn to both of the patterned designs too though; love them!

The poncho comes in a little pouch so it is easy to keep it in your bag then throw it on quickly when needed. (Make sure it is dry before you pop it back in the pouch though of course!) It is made with enough room that it can fit any size and shape, and will fit over layers too. It was abit shorter than I imagined; given the fact that I’m only 5 ft 1, I was surprised it didn’t go at least to my knees to allow for taller people. At least that meant Squiggle could also use it too if really necessary lol! 

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Squiggle wearing the poncho.

They are very well designed, with poppers to make ‘sleeves’ and a zip fastening at the front, plus a detachable hood too. The ponchos are printed using sublimation, which is an eco-friendly waterless method of printing. They also have reinforced stitching and heat sealed seams, meaning they are heavy duty and fully waterproof. It feels comfortable and lightweight to wear though, and looks stylish compared to most!

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With and without the detachable hood.

The poncho retails at £49 in the UK but, as I said, it is great quality and is intended to be quite the opposite of the cheap disposable ones you usually find; this eco-friendly poncho is designed to last a lifetime. This is one of the main reasons I like it; it is much better for the environment to invest in one that will last, rather than create more waste using disposable or short-lived versions. 

But my absolute favourite thing? The brand pledges a full 10% of all turnover to water projects in developing countries. And November Rain is not limiting the resources given to just clean drinking water, they are also funding irrigation projects for crops in areas where water can be the main limiting factor for people being able to put food on the table. Thanks to their popularity, the company has already funded a hydroponic vegetable growing system at a children’s rescue mission in Northern Thailand valued at $3,000USD.

November Rain ponchos are born from Belinda Coker, the same founder of Envirosax – the original designer reusable bag. She explains: “After the success of Envirosax, I realized the importance of sharing the wealth created with those not so fortunate. It’s not all about the money, it’s about creating something that people love with benefits that keep flowing to those in need.” It is so important to make conscious choices, and I totally support brands who actively protect the environment, especially when they also give back in some way. So I am really impressed with this brand!

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You can also purchase these ponchos from Amazon UK or via the November Rain website for USA. 

Last but not least, one lucky reader can win a November Rain poncho! To be in with a chance of winning, enter my giveaway via Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Open to UK and USA residents. Competition closes on 2nd April 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

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Disclosure: I received a poncho free for the purpose of this review. Thoughts and opinions are all my own. 
*This post contains an Amazon UK affiliate link. 


Chalkola Chalk Markers: Review, Discount and Giveaway

Chalkola kindly offered us some of their brilliant chalk markers to review. We were sent their newly launched pack of 21 markers,  which includes 15 colour chalk pens and 6 metallic markers in the set, and also a pack of their chunky 15mm platinum series markers too. 

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These funky chalk pens can be used on any non-porous surface; such as glass, mirrors, whiteboards, chalkboards or plastic. You simply wipe them off again when you are done. They are non-toxic and child-friendly so are therefore great for a range of purposes. Lots of fun! 

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Squiggle and I decided to get creative doodling on our patio doors! When you use the pens for the first time it takes a bit of shaking and pressing down to get the flow started. However, once they get going, they then work very well.

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The colours come out nice and bright, and there is good variety within the set. We really enjoyed using these chalk markers, and even our cat got involved in the fun! Squiggle loves any opportunity to get creative and is a big fan of these. (Oh and using the patio door is great for doing lovely big gross motor movements too by the way!) 

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The Chalkola chalk markers then rub off with a damp cloth, although I am sure my landlord will be very pleased to know that I did test this out before letting Squiggle loose on our patio doors just to be sure! I made a little video clip to show how easily it wipes off… 

One lucky reader can win a set of these 21 markers by Chalkola. To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, enter the competition via rafflecopter below. T&Cs apply. Competition ends on 20th March 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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And if you don’t win, or simply cannot wait that long, don’t worry! My readers get 15% off any Chalkola products using the voucher code 15OFFSTR at checkout. Enjoy!!!

*Chalkola sent me free markers for the purpose of this review, thoughts and opinions are my own. 

*Post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Competition

When bakerdays tweeted me asking if I would like to review their letterbox gift cake I was quite excited! Admittedly, I am not a particularly big fan of cake generally (I know, I know… it’s weird) but I was really intrigued by the concept of a cake that can literally be delivered straight through the letterbox. Would that really work?! I had to find out. And I knew that Squiggle would jump at the chance to share some cake with me too!

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The website is very user-friendly and there is a massive selection of designs to choose from for all different occasions, including options to personalise with text or an image. I spent ages trying to pick my favourite design because there are so many great choices! 

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I finally settled on this design with my own personal message that I knew would make Squiggle giggle…

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There were a selection of sponges to choose from too. I really like the fact that all of the designs in their entire range can be ordered as a gluten-free or dairy-free option, rather than there being a restricted selection of choices, as is often the case. It is worth noting that the dairy-free option is not vegan, as it does contain eggs. 

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Whilst we avoid gluten as much as we can, medically we do not need to be strict about it, so I decided on the dairy-free option instead. We do generally try to eat as closely to vegan as we can manage anyway but, apart from anything else, I was keen to test how the dairy-free version tasted! 

The cake didn’t take long to arrive and, as promised, it plopped through my letterbox without fuss. The box landed face down and I must say I felt a slight wave of anticipation, as well as excitement, as I picked it up to check the contents! 

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I need not have worried; the cake comes very well packaged, secured in a cake tin, inside the cardboard box. It also has plastic packaging to keep it fresh and well protected within the tin itself. It even has thoughtful instructions on how to remove it carefully without damage!

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The cake itself was delicious! The sponge was light and fluffy, with a lovely buttery filling (which incidently is on the bottom of the cake as opposed to in the middle, due to the letterbox design!) and the icing was soft and tasty. Squiggle was very impressed too; she declared “thank you for sending the cake, I love it!” 

We demolished it pretty quickly, but the 5″ letterbox size is easily big enough for 3 or 4 generous portions, as it suggests. We really enjoyed it.

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I like the novelty factor of getting a cake delivered directly through the letterbox, it was nicely presented and it was yummy too! So I think a letterbox cake would make a great unique gift for Valentines Day, or any other occasion.

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For more information about bakerdays…

Websitewww.bakerdays.com

Facebookfacebook.com/bakerdays

Twitter: @bakerdays

Last but not least; to be in with a chance to win a 5″ letterbox gift cake in your choice of design, enter my giveaway via the rafflecopter app below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends at midnight on 8th February 2017. Open to UK residents only. Prize will be sent out by 1st class Royal Mail. Other T&Cs apply. (See rafflecopter for details).


*Disclosure: bakerdays sent me a free letterbox cake for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Shut The Box (Game Review)

Squiggle was given Shut The Box game for Christmas as a stocking filler. We hadn’t heard of this particular game before, until very recently when I spotted it on a gift guide and thought it looked fun. I was right!

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Shut The Box is a lovely wooden dice game that also has good educational value. The aim of the game is to successfully get all the numbers down from 1-9 so you can ‘shut the box’. The simple version is to roll both of the dice and then flip down one or two numbers to match the total on the dice. If you are unable to put down one or two numbers then it moves to the next player’s turn. There are different versions too, I found other instructions by searching online. 

The game can be single player or played with any number of people and is suitable for all ages from approx 6+ years. This means it is great for some family fun together, but it is also handy that it can be played alone, as it is great for those moments when someone needs to occupy themselves for a few moments! The version we have is pocket size, which also makes it useful to take when travelling too. 

I like that it is a simple game, nothing fancy about it, but yet is still both fun and educational. It is fab for practising maths skills, such as calculating and number bonds. I also love wooden toys and games, so that’s a bonus too! 

Our verdict: big thumbs up!

You can be in with a chance of winning your own Shut The Box game by entering my prize giveaway via rafflecopter below. 

Competition ends at midnight on 31st January 2017. T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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