Lottie Dolls have brought out some new dolls and accessories . Lottie and Finn have some new roles to play including always artsy, junior reporter, and an astronaut accessory set. We have been sent the new Brownie Lottie Doll to show you here on the blog and one to giveaway too! Click the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the page to see how to enter.

Brownie Lottie Doll

Here at the Hippy Christian Mum we are brand ambassadors for Lottie Dolls (see my new bright badge) and that’s because I’m a big fan. Lottie Dolls are all about letting kids be kids while encouraging them to be imaginative and adventurous. Lottie doesn’t wear make-up and is based on the proportions of a 9 year old child. When my daughter plays with her Lottie Dolls, she talks about where they are going and what they are going to do. She explores ideas around friendship, supporting each other at gym events and most recently with Brownie Lottie, leading a Brownie group and making a campfire.

Lottie Dolls

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As her mum I love seeing her creative side come out when she plays with her Lottie Dolls but my most favourite thing about Lottie is that she has inspired some really important conversations between Beg and I. We’ve talked about what a palaeontologist does (I had to have a Google, my knowledge only extended to what Ross from friends did and I’m not sure how true to life that was!) and she was happy to know that women can be scientists too (that one stung a bit but glad we got it out of the way).

Beg is hoping to join our local Brownie group so I was pleased when she chose Brownie Lottie to be sent to us for this review. Brownie Lottie comes dressed in her uniform including a neckerchief and jeans and trainers. I’m sure she will spark some conversations about Brownies and what Beg can expect when she joins.

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She also chose the new saddle up accessory set, which was just as well because the first thing on the agenda at Brownie camp was a horse-riding lesson (on a leopard, of course). I think Beg might choose Sirius the Welsh Mountain Pony next!

Brownie Lottie Doll

You can find Lottie online on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Lottie HQ are very friendly and chatty on Twitter if you like a Twitter chat 😉 You can sign up to club Lottie on the website to receive a 10% off voucher code for your first purchase.

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase through these links I will receive a commission. I received a Lottie Doll and accessory pack for the purposes of this review.*

Giveaway

You have a chance to win your own gorgeous Brownie Lottie Doll (RRP £18.99) in my blog giveaway. Just click the Rafflecopter link below to join in.

Your email address will be forwarded to Lottie Dolls HQ to join club Lottie which gives you a 10% off code for your first purchase. It will not be sent to any 3rd parties. The giveaway is open to entrants over 18yrs and you can enter from any country! 🙂 Lottie HQ assumes responsibility of sending the winner the prize. This giveaways starts on Thursday 13th July 2017 and ends on Friday 21st July 2017 at 12:00am GMT. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. If the winner does not respond within 48hrs of the giveaway end date another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have any Lottie Dolls? Let me know in the comments. Here is a previous review of Forest Friend Lottie

Lottie Dolls

Win Brownie Lottie

I love me a bit of Americana, who doesn’t? So I was excited to be invited along to the promo evening of the new Hollywood Bowl. Cwmbran bowling has had a major facelift with a £250,000. refurbishment and upgrade complete with new diner and entertainments area.

 

Greeted by Marilyn Monroe we then had a quick tour of the new premises. They’ve really upped the game over the whole place, the pool table area is now a really nice area, the bar serves real ales if that’s your thing and the diner is really kitsch with American style booths. We had some tasters of the food and it was really good. Thick burgers with bacon, cheese and salad, nachos, vege burgers, fresh milkshakes – strawberry and oreo flavours – served in cute little retro milk bottles –and they also had gluten free options on the menu as well.

half eaten (gluten free!) nachos

 

We weren’t really great at bowling! We had our fair share of gutter balls. I got a strike so I got a sticker which made my inner child people-pleaser immensely proud but totally fluffed it for the prosecco competition. When a pink pin came down at the front of the pins you won a bottle if you got a strike. I’m usually a very lucky person with things like that but alas I buckled under the pressure!

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Each lane had a server, ours was really great offering help with setting up the game and was on hand for drinks orders from the bar. All the uniforms were like 50’s diner style pink shirts adding to the Americana theme. Our server was especially friendly and sorted us out with gluten and dairy free nachos. Kids parties can have a dedicated server too (sounds good to me!).

Game of bowling complete we went over to the arcade bit and had a turn on some of the video games. It was fun we went on Jurassic park and a shooting one, a driving one, (can you tell I’m not a gamer) and this green one that moved the seat around. I’ve never seen one like it before in an arcade! There was Mario Kart too but it had a bit of a hovering queue.

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bowling

I had a great time thanks Hollywood Bowl for the freebie evening out. Definitely well worth a visit if you like a bit of Americana too and you like bowling and big fat burgers (which I do – all of the above) and you can pre-book your lanes too. Even though I’m suffering ‘bowler’s bum’ today I had a great time. It’s a stance thing, check out my live vid on my facebook page if you need to know more about that.

Thanks Hollywood Bowl and Laura of vans comms for the invite.

If you would like to read about another blog event I went to here it is at Smiggle.

 

If you’re a bit of a stationery fiend like me who can spend happy hours online poring over pretty flamingo print notebooks and such like then you probably enjoy the stationery part of back to school shopping too.

Needless to say I was very excited to be invited to Smiggle (where a smile meets a giggle) to try their products and see their back to school range for 2016 called ‘sidekicks’.  I’m happy to report that school stationery has moved on from maths ruler sets and mustard coloured rule lined books. 20160825_083700

Filled with bright neon colour, the store is instantly recognisable. The shelves are filled with loads of  fun things that kids will love like lunch packs and fold-down drinks bottles, key rings, glitter pens, lip balm, and fluffy pencil cases and backpacks. Scented pencils and rubbers add to the cool factor with scents like candy floss. Cola was my personal favourite.

At the back of the shop there is a trying station set up where you can try out some of the pens and pencils to see which ones you like (perfect for finding that perfect ‘write’ of a pen) and the staff demonstrated one of the creepy crawly starfish toys that ‘climbed’ down the wall and lit up too. I felt welcome to pick up all the stuff and didn’t feel like I had to keep telling Beg not to touch everything because the store is set up for kids to be able to have a good look.  At the front of the shop there is a post box to post your entry into the design your own backpack competition. If your entry is chosen as the winner Smiggle will make your back pack for you-how exciting is that?

I really loved all the products, everything had a good quality feel to it and there were lots of things within pocket money budget (lots under £3).

I had an exclusive preview of the Spikeys 2 range. These are collectable ‘Smiggurines’ there are 12 to collect. They are £7. each and all come in the same packaging so you don’t know which one you are getting. I love that element of excitement and I think kids will too. If you ever have doubles you can take your Spikey to any Smiggle shop and trade with any of the 3 on the trade table. There is also a mega mystery one even the staff don’t know what character it is. So lucky you if you find that one! I had a goodie bag given to me with freebies in and I had the ‘Kong’ Spikey.

Smiggle do a different back to school range each year, and you just know it’ll be the one all the kids will be talking about. For 2016 it’s the ‘sidekicks’ range. Five cute characters -a penguin, puppy, cat, dog and dinosaur, and each has lunch packs, drinks bottles, pencil cases and more.

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I was fortunate enough to win a £200. gift card.20160825_100107 I was so excited and me and Beg had a massive shopping spree which was so, so fun. I’ve never done anything like that before so I was really made up. So we got a fair few bits and pieces (there is some left on the gift card honestly!) and since getting them all home I’m really impressed with the quality of them.

 

My favourite thing we got was this trolley case. The hot air balloon design is so pretty and it will fit all Beg’s things in for future holidays. It can be worn as a back pack-which is great for getting around airports- but also has an extendable handle and wheels that light up when they move. It’s so cool! It’s priced at £42.

Beg’s favourite thing was the spy pen (£4.00). Normal biro one end, but the other end is a white marker that doesn’t show up until you shine the UV light onto the page. She has been writing secret messages all weekend!

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Smiggle has really impressed me and it’s really geared up to what kids will love. Loads of products to choose from and really funky and bright designs.

Check out my first you tube video of me ‘unboxing’ the freebie goodie bag here.

*Disclaimer: I received free products for this review, though all views are honest, and my own. *

Check out Smiggle for yourself!

A round up review of my best and worst baby buys.

  1. Top of the list definitely has to be the BEDNEST. I hired this from the NCT. The moses basket or crib is one of the more bulky baby items but is used for such a short time so when I saw an advert for the hire of this bedside crib I thought it was perfect. £79 for 6 months or as long as you need it or until they grow out of it whichever comes first. Both sides of this crib drop down and the height is adjustable so it can sit alongside any parent bed. The sides are mesh which aides airflow and you can adjust it so it is tilted. Absolute Godsend for us with babba’s silent reflux. The Bednest is delivered to your home on a day you specify and sent with brand new sides (that are material), brand new mattress and 2 new cotton fitted sheets. I can’t exaggerate enough how easy it is to assemble it basically pops up which also makes it great for travelling. Then when you want to send it back you just keep the box it came in and email them and they arrange a courier collection. I have just extended my rental period – for free! You can buy them also if you would wish to. Far and away the best bit of baby gear ever.
    Rent here: http://www.bednest.com/
  2. The MOBY WRAP. Bought this one in advance this time around as it was so useful with my first baby. It’s basically a long stretch of fabric that you tie around you in a certain way to carry the baby on you and once you have you tubed it and tied it once it’s really easy. I’m a BIG fan of the Moby wrap. It keeps newborn babba close which is lush in those early days and it makes you hand free so you can make a cuppa. Another absolute Godsend for silent reflux as my baby needed to be kept upright so he basically lived in my Moby wrap for the first 3 months. There’s loads of colours, I grabbed mine on Amazon for about £40. Don’t be lured by the cheap imitations, I’ve tried a couple of them and they had too much give in them.
  3. ‘Sterling Baby’ SWADDLE blanket. I picked this up in TK Maxx on a random pregnancy induced shopping spree. Well I have used it every night. Baby kept waking himself up flinging his arms out with that newborn baby reflex that makes them look like they think they’re falling. Wrapped him in this and hey presto….sleep. It’s lovely and soft and has Velcro tabs. I’m sure you can buy these in a lot of places. Super cute too.
  4. The MAXI COSI PEBBLE car seat deserves a mention in the top 5. Easy to use with their family fix base which you can also use for the next stage up car seat, the Pearl. It has a reclined position that I just haven’t found in other brands of car seat. Also top company who fixed our 6 year old family fix isofix base free of charge so we could continue to use it with baby number 2. Big thumbs up Maxi Cosi.
  5. Lastly the FISHER PRICE BOUNCER CHAIR. Really vibrant bright colours, lovely positioned seat for baby, foldable so great for travelling (or moving house) and rocks easily with no dreadful squeaking. My baby is 5 months old and I think he will have a few more months usage out of this still. Great buy.

The not-so-good:

  1. The GRO-HUSH baby calmer. Gro Hush Baby CalmerCan Gro really let me down? One of my most trusted brands when it comes to baby stuff I thought it seemed a bit far fetched but bought it to try anyway (there’s a reason there’s money in products that claim to help a baby stop crying)! I really like this little gadget, even if it is on the not-so-good list. It’s a hand held device with a soft cushion on one side that plays 3 different types of white noise; heart sounds, rain and waves. It is designed to be held against baby’s ear i.e. sound levels have been checked. It comes in a very useful little case so you can pop it in your bag. The instructions do say to continue regularly using at first to allow baby to get used to it but it didn’t really work for us. To be fair, my baby had pain so wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill unsettled, he actually needed medication so I would still suggest this product but wouldn’t necessarily recommend.
  2. Mothercare’s own brand spotty BABY BOUNCER chair. Husband bought this one due to the more upright position compared with other baby bouncer chairs but it was too small and so we only got about 3 months use out of it.

    The left picture is Mothercare’s own brand spotty chair compared with the Fisher Price chair on the right picture. It was only a tenner so good for the price but probably better off buying a bigger one to begin with.

  3. Large SWADDLE MUSLINS. These were a part of my TK Maxx shopping spree. I got them thinking they would be good to swaddle baby in the hotter summer months, being rather clever thinking ahead to his size, however, he just pulls them apart. They are very useful though after a bath for drying baby.
  4. MEDELA SWING ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP. Ooh controversial! I was a massive Medela fan until I tried the Ardo. It’s just more comfortable, quieter and I would totally recommend it.

Things I didn’t buy:

  1. DOUBLE PUMPING BRA I made my own one of these by cutting holes in an old sports bra and it worked a treat! Double pumping every 3hrs round the clock went from being a hassle to time for a cuppa and texting marathon. I measured up by eye whereabouts the funnels would go, marked with a sharpie and cut. No hemming and it held in place brilliantly.
  2. A new PRAM. Don’t get sucked into it! The amount of times I’ve seen a mum at soft play wince every time a sticky toddler runs past the limited edition print of the new pram. It’s just not worth it. I chose to buy 2nd hand from a friend and it’s fab. Babba has hardly used it as he is generally carried anyway.
  3. ELECTRIC STERILISER another pretty non essential item in the early days if you are breastfeeding due to the lack of use it will probably get. I have a cold water steriliser which works well and sterilises in 15mins with the milton solution. I’ve never personally used an electric one and would think it’s probably more to do with personal preference. There’s always the old boil in a pan of water technique to make one less baby item to buy.

Hope this helps you not buy most things twice like we have along the way! Have you bought any of these things for your baby? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Run Jump Scrap!

You Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Last night I went all Gwyneth Paltrow and ate an entirely plant-based meal.

 

I went along to a Supper Club in a community cafe in Caerphilly (I just tried to spell that phonetically and really can’t, google Caerphilly castle-it’s impressive). The venue was the former town library which was upgraded and relocated and now it is used as a community cafe which is also hired out. Which I thought was a really fab idea. I went along with my friend from church whose daughter & friend are the genius chef/creator people behind it. It’s called Nourish Supper Club and has been a sell out success. A superb 3 course meal with no gluten, dairy or grains, using all fresh seasonal ingredients all for £23 per person. Deal. Considering I’d had McDonald’s for lunch I was excited at the prospect of some real food.

“…organic produce direct from local farms…”

 

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Sweet Green Juice – parsley, lettuce, spinach, celery & apple.

 

So not knowing what to expect at all I was pleasantly surprised when we went in to be greeted with a restaurant set up. We were shown to our table which had our places set out and the menu on the table and a flower centrepiece. Our hostess said we had an extra seat in case I needed room for the baby which was really thoughtful and I just loved that. I had actually managed to get a night off but there were other babba’s brought along which was great. There was definitely a lovely ambience created, with lovely mellow music playing. We had a quick gander at the menu and got on with the important business of having a good natter. We both had the sweet green juice which was lovely (you wouldn’t know there was no sugar in it).

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Soul soup & nettle pesto.

For starters we had soul soup. I am from this point forward going to call all soup I eat soul soup because I think it’s that great a description for soup. It was warm and green and I instantly assumed I knew how it would taste so I was surprised at the variety of flavour in it. There were at least 3 different levels of flavour. The pesto was really earthy and full. I’ve never had fresh pesto before so that was a treat for me and the raw dehydrated pumpkin and sesame seed crackers added that bit of texture. The info on the menu said the food is dehydrated at 42 degrees and this preserves the nutrients in the food.

 

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Summer Abundance Platter.

 

The main course was a Summer Abundance Platter which was a flatbread, 2 falafel, green salad, cucumber, tahini, and carrot hummus. The quality of the ingredients really shone through in this plate (the lettuce was honestly, really delicious) but what impressed me the most was the inventiveness of the dish overall. The cucumber was pickled which gave another tangent of flavour and it just wasn’t boring in the least. Already I was surprisingly full but had been looking forward to the pudding all week!

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Strawberry cheesecake with mascarpone cream and warm wild mint & rose tea.

 

I wasn’t disappointed in the pudding. With no added sugar or sweeteners I expected it to be a good imitation of a dessert but it was so much more than that. It was a gooey strawberry sweet loveliness in my dairy free mouth and I enjoyed every morsel. I think every table went a bit quiet on that course. Or perhaps I was just in my own world. Who knows. Anyway I liked the pudding the best.

We came home feeling full and relaxed and knowing each other just a little bit better and it was a really lovely evening. I felt like I had been privileged to have tried and been invited into a way of healthfulness I had never considered before (entirely plant based food) and it was nice for me to go out for a meal and not feel like the awkward customer “Is there milk in this?” . Ellie and Nicola worked really hard to serve everyone and made sure everyone enjoyed themselves and it worked so well. I will definitely be recommending Nourish Supper Club to people. If you know how to say Caerphilly because you live anywhere nearby you can find the Nourish Supper Club page on facebook if you would like to book in for the next one in September.

I’ve linked up with…

Cuddle Fairy