Review: Songmics Large Folding Storage Ottoman Bench Box + Competition
Songmics Large Folding Storage Ottoman Bench Box – With Christmas not that long ago we always find ourselves having to do a reshuffle and reorganisation of the toys and books both old and new. Finding the right home storage is key to keeping it all under control.
When Songmics, leading sellers on Amazon got in touch and asked us to review the Storage Ottoman Bench I bit their hands off (virtually of course). Songmics sell a range of household and storage solutions at great prices.
I like box style storage or multi-purpose storage in muted tones which is why I was drawn to this Grey Ottoman Bench box.
As you can see it doesn’t look like a toy box from the outside so fits in perfectly in the dining area.
It was really easy to put together with no fixtures or screws. It came in four pieces:
All we had to do was unfold the base, add the bottom which was a thick plastic part that keeps the base box shaped, and then add the divider.
The lid is padded which means that it can also be used as a bench style seat, or a reading place as Isabelle has already claimed it to be.
As it’s quite large I thought it was perfect to store some of our ever growing collection of board games. We’ve put it in the dining area which means that if we were to have additional guests for dinner we could use it for extra seating at the table so it definitely has a multi-function purpose. You could of course use this for anything from a blanket box to shoe storage.
What we think?
It gets a big thumbs up from me simply because it is multipurpose and doesn’t look like a toy box so fits in with the surrounding furniture. It also gets an additional thumbs up from Isabelle who has been lounging on it reading her books or playing on her tablet as she’s been full of a cold for the last couple of days. Our games have a great new home now which is easily accessible whilst looking stylish.
Like what you see then enter our Competition to WIN one for yourself – Just fill in the rafflecopter form below.
I was asked to review the Feel Stress Free App which was quite apt as over the last few months I’ve been overwhelmed with feeling stressed which has affected every day life.
My stress is attributed to being unhappy in a previous job and then starting not one but two new jobs. I’m not sure that I’m doing a particularly great job since I feel unable to retain any information which in a new job is vital.
I currently feel that I’ve lost grip on both my home and my work life. The house is a tip and we’re attempting a huge clear out of outgrown clothes, toys, books etc. I’m starting things but not completing them which means there is ‘STUFF’ everywhere.
What I need is a huge brain dump of all the silly things that are waking me up in the night such as have I given the dog his flea treatment or did I remember to add something to the calendar. Stupid every day stuff that shouldn’t be reason enough to wake me up.
I also really need to get organised so that I can stop fretting with the things I’ve got to do and just do them.
The Feel Stress Free App
I was really pleased when Thrive got in touch and I’m hoping that using the app as well as giving myself a manageable to-do list will get me back on track.
I downloaded the app which was really simple. You can pop over to the Thrive site or through you app store.
Once you’ve signed up there is a simple questionnaire around how you are feeling good and bad about at the moment and the way that it makes you feel.
I’m feeling pretty good today but that could be more to do with it being my day off and I had a bit of a lay in this morning.
These were my results which says that I manage my stress well but some risk factors have been detected. The app then gives you some suggestions.
All of this took a matter of minutes and I think I’m going to use my bus ride time to complete this as I’m completely on my own (aside from the other people).
It’s a good idea to check in with the app a few times a day. Not only does it give you useful suggestions but it also tracks your progress and gives you words of encouragement.
I got notification of a message in a bottle.
These are words of wisdom and quotes which you can reciprocate to encourage other users.
I headed to the wellbeing section which gives you loads of tips for things that can help with depression, anxiety, relaxation and making sure you get enough sleep.
I have trouble relaxing. My brain never switches off, but it doesn’t mean that I’m more productive as I tend to procrastinate and worry about things I have to do rather than actually doing the do.
I also need to improve my sleep as this has been shocking recently. We don’t have a TV in our room but I do check my social media before I go to sleep and I also read from my kindle every night without fail. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to out a stop to either of these but I do need to improve it.
The process of asking how you feel and what you feel good about happens daily, and recommendations are made based on the answers given.
I like the breathing exercises, but at the beginning I was finding myself urging to click on other apps or checking emails whilst I was completing the exercise which is totally not the point.
The more that I have done these exercises the better I’ve become at focusing on the exercise and zoning out everything else. This is huge progress for me.
There are several options in this section and you will either require headphones or be in a room that allows you to focus on the words. The point of these exercises are to make you aware of your surroundings which include sounds of the sea, the sensations within your body (body scan) and make you aware of your tensions to enable you to let them go.
One of the features of the app is a Zen Garden game. You have to rake between the coloured buckets making sure that the paths do not cross. I’m quite good at that and can easily do several levels at a time.
There are so many aspects to this app which also links to the NHS exercise plan which is free for everybody to use.
Goals are set for you which you can do at your own pace. One of mine was to cut down on the amount of caffeine I drink. I do drink quite a few cups of tea during any given day so have changed a few of these to peppermint tea. You can keep track of your progress as well to see how far you’ve come.
You can of course download the app for £5.99 a month by popping over to the Thrive website or via the app store.
Do you feel stressed and need a hand to get back on track?
Enter our competition to WIN a months access to the Thrive Feel Stress Free App. Just fill in the Rafflecopter form below.
So following on from Day 1, today is our first full day at Bluestone Wales Resort. The weather today is nothing like yesterday. We have blue skies and the wind has thankfully died down. The wind in Wales even made the news as it was compared to the storms in Ireland which were much worse.
There is an awesome park at Bluestone with fake grass which is lovely and bouncy underfoot. It feels a bit like being in Teletubby land. All the equipment is made out of sturdy wooden structures with bright colours. There’s something for all ages with big slides, little slides, ride on bouncy bugs, swings and a strange thing that looks like a colander that you sit in and it spins around.
The park is just above the coffee shop which is perfect for us mums and dads that need a bit of extra fuel to keep up with the little ones.
Just off the park there are wooden tree houses which all have games in them such as noughts and crosses, pinball and ball mazes.
We also discovered a giant chair which was left behind by a local welsh giant.
After we’d had a mooch around the village we went for a wander around the lake. We bumped into some odd looking locals along the way.
The lake was lovely although there was a distinct eggy smell which I’m guessing is something to do with the sewerage system, but we could only smell it for part of the way round.
We also saw lots of birds, ducks and proper lily pads which Isabelle thought were only made up in films.
We also popped into local Narbeth to have a look around. There we found the most amazing deli which had so many yummy things to choose from.
Isabelle was amazed at the size of the onions and found the biggest jacket potato EVER….
We also found a shop that sells specialist alcohol including every kind of flavoured gin imaginable. Nothing unusual about that you would think, but alongside the alcohol they sell ice creams, gelato and sorbet (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). It seemed like a bit of an odd combination. Isabelle had a vanilla ice cream which the lady claimed to be the BEST vanilla ice cream ever. Isabelle being quite the ice cream connoisseur put the ice cream to the test and confirmed it as being THE BEST IN THE WORLD. It was made locally from local Welsh cows milk. As well as the ice cream, Chris bought two pints of local cider which came in a milk carton. It looked a lot like a cows urine sample and didn’t smell much better either.
The Knights Tafarn
In the evening we ventured out to the knights Tafarn for a drink. There was a lovely atmosphere in the pub, and we’re hoping to go back on Thursday for the pub quiz.
There were also a couple of pumpkin people sat outside which you can see a clip of on our Instagram stories.
We’re off to find the Blue Lagoon and Adventure Centre tomorrow.
*disclaimer – we were given a mid-week stay at Bluestone in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
We love to watch all of the latest films with Isabelle. We set up camp on the sofa with pyjamas, blankets and snacks and snuggle down, and this is what we did to watch the new film Spark.
Spark is released on DVD and Blue-Ray on Monday 18th September 2017.
You may guess the voices of some well known names including:
Spark is about a teenage monkey called Spark whose planet was destroyed by the ruthless Zhong leaving him as an orphan with only Chunk, Vix, and some insects for company.
Zhong took over what remained of planet Bana and enslaving everyone who remained.
Spark along with Chunk, Vix, Nanny the Robot and some insects managed to survive on a shard of the planet which was used as a garbage dump whilst Zhong plotted to destroy the entire universe with the help of a deadly space Kraken.
When Spark reaches thirteen he feels ready to take on Zhong, and unbeknown to Chunk and Vix replies to a secret space mission.
Leaving the shard with only his pet roach for company, Spark sets off on the mission of his life.
Making his way into Zhong’s palace with the help of Chunks gadgetry he meets the Queen who gives him a Kraken finder to hide so that Zhong cannot carry out his deadly plan.
Instead of returning to the garbage shard Spark decides to find the Kraken himself. After finding the Kraken he guides it back towards the garbage shard, but Khong’s men have already destroyed everything that had become home to Spark including Bananny the Robot.
Zhong’s men seize the Kraken and capture Spark and imprison him along with Chunk and Vix.
The Kraken is kept under a torturous force field and the garbage shard is destroyed and Spark, Vix and Chunk are thrown into the black hole created by the Kraken.
They land on a planet where many from the original planet Bana had been hiding out. The Captain of the Royal Guard and some of his men have been living not knowing that planet Bana still exists.
Spark is revealed as the Prince of Bana and discovers that the Queen is actually his mother. Vix and Chunk had been keeping Spark safe from the truth on behalf of the Queen until the time came to take back Bana.
They prepare to take back Planet Bana by using Chunks technical know how with the help of mutated bugs. Unbeknown to Spark, Chunk had saved Bananny and pimped her up.
They create a new Kraken slick and return to battle against Zhong. After a great battle where Zhongs ship is destroyed, a black hole is created and Zhong is punched into it by the Queen.
Peace is resumed as Planet Bana is restored to former glory, and the Queen and Prince Spark are in their rightful place.
What we thought:
This was a refreshing change from our usual princessy themed films that we tend to watch. Isabelle was in a telly-trance for the whole film which means it gets a big juicy thumbs up from us. As a parent some of the kids films can be a bit boring, but this was action packed with lots of humour throughout.
We were really pleased to be asked to review the Pipity Kids Travel Activity Case. We’re going on holiday next month and it will be Isabelle’s first time on a plane. The journey is relatively short as we’re going to Spain, but there will be plenty of opportunity for Isabelle to get bored so we’re going prepared.
What do you do on journeys to keep boredom at bay?
The last time we went away I put together a little bag for her to open once she was in the car which had a kids magazine, some colouring pencils, some snacks and a sticker pack which went down a treat.
We play all the usual games such as eye spy, count the number of (whatever colour) cars.
We also let her take her tablet with some of her favourite apps on.
The other week she had a little lego set in the car which was a disaster as she dropped some of the pieces which nobody could reach as we were driving along. I don’t think we’ll be doing that again.
Cue the Pipity Kids Travel Activity Case
Not only does this case look super cute with the star print which comes in a choice of Blue, Pink and Red, it as both a case handle and a detachable longer bag handle. It’s really well made from oilcloth to withstand the heavy handedness and has everything you need to keep a little one busy on a journey.
A Pencil for drawing and writing
A Set of 12 colouring pencils
A Pencil Sharpener
A pair of scissors
An Activity Book
The activity case has a built in easel with elasticated straps to keep your activity page in place whilst you colour it in.
Each of the activity books are packed full of exciting activities and games. Each page has a perforated edge so that you can easily tear the page out to use.
We love that these aren’t run of the mill activities, but cute puppets and games that you colour then cut out to create something to use.
We were sent the full collection of activity books which will provide many many hours of entertainment for Isabelle. These can be bought separately to top up as and when you need them.
Also in the Pipity range is the Pipity Portfolio which is an expanding file where all of your kids creations can be kept safely together. These are also available in the matching Pink, Blue and Red Star design. I initially thought that the portfolio was for us parents to keep the creations safe which do tend to rack up, but I was quickly corrected by Isabelle that it was so that she could keep the things that she had made so that she could play with them.
Pipity was founded by Kate who was inspired by her own happy childhood memories of cutting and sticking and creating wanted to give her own three children the same experience. The Pipity has everything to spark the imagination and keep little hands busy.
Watch our video which shows you what you get in the Pipity Kids Travel Activity Case.
What we thought.
As a mum I think the Pipity is pretty awesome. Isabelle loves all things crafty and I know this kit will keep her happy and busy during any journey. The case has everything you need so no scrabbling around for things or having to add extra bits to my bag. It also gets a huge thumbs up from me personally as Pipity is a Devon based Independent Business which I love to support having been there myself.
Isabelle was so excited when the Pipity came out of the box. Before she even opened it she was doing her catwalk walk as pranced up and down with the case hanging off her shoulder. She’s going to love carrying this herself. She loved all of the activities, with the puppets and dolls being her absolute favourite. I should post the outtakes of the video that we did as she spent way too long messing about with the scissors (why do kids love scissors so much) AND the bendy ruler cracked her up.
This is a total winner for both of us and it will be coming with us to Spain next month!
You can subscribe to Mila & Pheebs so that each month your child gets a surprise themed box through the post addressed to themselves with lots of lovely goodies inside. Even better, the box fits through the letterbox so theres no chance of missing the postie and having to collect it from somewhere.
One of the other things that Isabelle is obsessed with at the moment is kids Youtube videos. She usually watches surprise boxes being opened which are mostly American Girls opening ‘blind bags’ which contain all kinds of Disney Princesses, Shopkins or other such things.
Recently she’s started to talk in an American accent, and I’ve caught her loads of times pretending to make her own videos so I thought I’d give her a chance to have her 15 minutes of fave and let her introduce what came in the Mila & Pheebs box so over to Belle!
I’m a huge fan of kits like this which can easily be packed away to do on a journey, taken to Grandparents house or brought out for rainy days.
Each box is packed full of all you would need to complete the task and has several different things in the box to do.
A pencil with a donkey rubber topper
A really cute cow rubber which comes apart (including detachable nose)
A horse hand puppet kit
Animal shaped crayons (Isabelle called these rubbers in the video)
Farm Animal foam stickers
A maze and wordsearch sheet
A piggy notepad with pigs to colour in
Plain cards and envelopes
Sheep decoration kit
A felt chicken paperclip (might have pinched that)
Glittery farm animal stickers
So as you can see, you get a lot for your money.
You can subscribe to the boxes which you will receive each month, and each month has a different theme. You can also unsubscribe at any time for times when you may be away. There is also an option to buy a one off which would make a lovely gift.
We had great fun making the horse which we did on a day after school when the weather was a bit pants and Isabelle fancied something fun to do. I was quite intrigued watching her with her concentration face on, determined to do the sewing part from beginning to end.
I’m a big believer that screens have a place in our children’s lives for educational and entertainment purposes (limited of course).
The TV or the iPad are a massive help when I’ve just got in from work, Isabelle has been at school all day and I need to get the dinner started. Likewise on a long journey they definitely have their place.
Having said that, I think it depends entirely what you’re allowing them to watch or play.
We have a few trusty ones that we use, but when we won a year’s subscription over at Petite Pudding Blog. we were really excited to give it a go.
Isabelle started school last September but has been really interested in word and number games for quite a while. I think we’re really lucky that she wants to learn and is like a sponge soaking up any opportunity at all.
The Kidloland App is slightly pricey at £29.95 for a year’s subscription but with over 550 Rhymes, Songs, Activities and Games for kids you get a lot for your money and once it’s downloaded you can use it anywhere as you don’t need wifi to access it.
There are loads of games and activities to choose from so I thought I would hand over to Isabelle to show you the ones that she loved the most.
And another clip as she had so much fun telling me what to do. “Cuttttttttt”.
So as you can see she had a lot of fun. If you do purchase the app I would recommend getting a set of kids earphones for out and about as all the games have music, and I’m sure like Isabelle have to have it up loud enough to sing along to.
How would you like to Win a copy of Lullaby Baby CD?
Lullaby Baby is a collaboration between BAFTA award winning director and father of two, Dan Smith and UK based Singer-songwriter Martha Bean with a mixture of well known songs, Instrumentals and some new ones written by Martha Bean who is also the singer on the album.
Use the CD to create a calming environment as part of your bedtime routine
Isabelle is five now and although she is a very early riser, we have only really had an okay sleep pattern for nearly a year now.
Isabelle has been a terrible sleeper from the word go with many a night spent without a wink of sleep. We tried everything from rocking her, driving her around taking her out in her pram, but the second you put her down she would be awake and crying.
This wasn’t just at night, but during the day she didn’t like to be put down even for a second. Getting dressed to the sound of a screaming baby makes you move fast.
At the start I was more than happy to sit with her in my arms gazing into her eyes, but even the most adoring mum needs to have bathroom breaks, to eat and do other normal things without a baby in their arms.
I thought I’d solved my problem with the use of a baby sling, but I found this exacerbated my neck pain that I’d been suffering from for years previously.
My sanity was saved by humming!
As odd as it sounds it kept me level when I needed to put her down and she would scream so much that her little face would almost turn purple. I would hum songs that I liked or just the sound of the latest adverts. You may laugh but it kept me going.
As she got a little bit older (still very much a newborn) she was pacified by noises that I made and her eyes would follow me around the room. This was slightly easier, but she never gave me long.
As well as the humming keeping me sane, I think she became quite accustomed to the songs that I hummed and was more than content to stare up at me whilst I hummed away.
We moved on from humming to singing and she came to recognise simple songs such as Twinkle Twinkle and Row Row Row your Boat. As long as she could find me and hear me she would allow me to put her down just for a while to get things done such as prepare dinner or eat my lunch.
Most of the songs that I sung to her were songs I knew from my own childhood, and other newer ones were learnt from the Mother and Baby Groups that we attended.
Isabelle is five now and singing and listening to music plays a big part in her life. She loves to sing and dance, and loves to learn and listen to new songs, especially if they have actions with them.
We were sent a copy of Lullaby Baby to review and Isabelle was very eager to put the CD into her own CD player with microphone to sing along. There were songs on the CD that we recognised straight away and a few that we hadn’t hear before. She was singing along merrily which I had recorded but on playing it back her microphone was omitting a pretty bad sound so I won’t subject you to that. I will try and catch her again, but she tends to show off in front of the camera which isn’t always so pleasant lol.
Isabelle had been a bit poorly and was off school a couple of weeks ago. We’d had a day of watching a bit of TV and her drifting in and out of sleep, but she needed to just lie down and rest so I put the CD on and she sat there and listened. She sang along a little bit, but then decided to curl up and hum along to the songs.
Here she is chillin and listening.
I think she really enjoyed it and it seemed to calm her down before bedtime which can be a testing time sometimes.
We’ve listened to the CD quite a few times now and it’s really nice to put on when she’s doing something quiet like colouring or just before dinner.
This CD would have been great when she was a baby and I probably would have used it in the car as well.
You can download ‘Lullaby Baby’ on iTunes by searching for ‘Nursery Rhymes 123’ as well as other download sites.
Here’s a clip of ‘You are my Sunshine” on their YouTube channel or pop over to Spotify for a listen.
Hello Kitty My Nametags Name Labels Review. We’re still reeling from the realisation that Isabelle will be starting school in September. She’s out littlest so it’s a bit scary. Our biggest is starting College this September which is quite apt as he started secondary school the day that his little sister was born.
She missed out on the 2014 intake by a whole EIGHT days and we had initially thought that she was going to start on her 5th birthday, but it turns out that she will start the week before. She is more than ready for school and has been for some time being ‘Little Miss Independent’.
As a second child going into education we are fully aware that the washing and ironing of school uniform will be the bane of our lives for the next few years. As will the constant loss of school uniform parts and the following trip to the lost property box.
We were really thrilled when we were asked to review the My Nametags School labels which will hopefully help Isabelle to identify her school uniform apart from other children’s easily with the help of Hello Kitty.
My Nametag Name Labels are brightly coloured labels with her name on which should be instantly recognisable, especially as hers have Hello Kitty on. Previously the attaching, both sewing and iron-on labels have been a bit of an endurance and only the sew-on ones seemed to stay put.
The name labels that we received are sticker labels so really easy to apply (even with the help of Isabelle) and can be applied to the washing labels of clothing, juice cups, bags, pencil cases and lunch boxes. In fact you could use them to label all your pens and pencils as well as you get 56 labels which go a long way.
To order the labels was extremely easy, just enter the name that you want (with or without a contact phone number), choose the design and instantly you see the results on your screen. There are loads to choose from including Hello Kitty (like us), teddy bears, crowns, flowers and more. You also get to choose the background colour as well making them as personalised as possible so that your child can easily identify there own items.
So having done part of our school uniform shopping (still have to endure the school shoe shopping trip) we had a bit of a ahhhhh moment when Isabelle tried on her pinafore for the first time. She looks so small but so big and grown-up all at the same time.
Then comes the labelling……..
So as a fan of Stickers, Isabelle is in her element at the chance to put her name on anything and everything so this was a LOT of fun for her.
We have labelled her pinafores, you literally just stick them to the labels, nothing more to it. We have labelled her polo shirts, school jumpers and fleece, her school coat and wellies and her lunch box. We will also label inside her shoes once we have got them.
What did we think of them?
I think this will give her more confidence at starting school as she doesn’t always ask so will be able to easily identify her own things herself. They are also quite unique which will make it easier to find her own things. As they’re stickers these were extremely easy to use. A big thumbs up from us.
What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson is one of Isabelle’s absolute favourite books. We bought it for her when she was two and we took it to France with us and by the end of the two weeks she could recite the whole rhyming chorus word for word and never tired of it.
So What did the Ladybird Hear?
Well I won’t spoil the story, but it involves two Robbers, a Fine Prize Cow and friends and a Ladybird…..in a singsongy way with fantastic illustrations.
We have the book in hardback and as well as the story which can be read in a singsongy way, each page features the ladybird with glittery bits on it. We like the repetativeness in the books as these are well remembered and Isabelle joins in with reading the sort.
Both of us were amazed when we saw What the Ladybird Heard at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter not so long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, with many of the children in the audience reciting the chorus part of the story.
Like many we have a fair few of Julia Donaldson books and whilst all of the stories are well written with fab illustrations, Isabelle loves finding the characters of the other books within the pages which overlap.
Reading Age – Toddler – Hmmm, Isabelle is 4 and I would say we have plenty of reads left in this book.
A Megawatt Huge Thumbs up for this book!
* Please note this is an affiliate link, but all opinions belong to Isabelle and I.