Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Christmas Onesie

So last week was my work Christmas party, this week it is the turn of the Scottish Blogger Christmas party! My fellow lassie Steph and I headed off the the newly relaunched October on the top of Princes Square for some festive fun organized by Paula and Scott.

The theme of the evening was festive family fun so instead of going for Christmas sweaters Stephie and I decided that we need to go big--and big we went with Christmas onesies. 

Reindeer onesie

Reindeer onesie

Christmas Onesie-Primark
Sheepskin Boots- Uggs
Jingle Bell Antlers- Poundland

I've never worn a onesie in my life (okay maybe as a baby) and never in public! We got a lot of double takes walking down Buchanan Street but it was so much fun. I will say that onesies are not exactly flattering and because we are both on the shorter side we had the massive pouch of fupa fabric leftover that was umm not very attractive!
The night was so much fun with goodie bags filled to the brim with treats from the likes of Blanx, Lush, Metcalfe Skinny and more!

Image by Pretty Polly's Blog.
There were lots of cocktails (ours had glowsticks in them!), a charity raffle, secret santa and just a great time catching up with bloggy friends. It is always great to meet people you chat with on twitter and put a face to the avatar!

Reindeer Cocktail

I think I'll be retiring my onesie for now though; what do you think about onesies? Fashion favourite or fashion faux-pas?

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

LeapPad Ultra: The Perfect Christmas Gift

Blondie Boy has been a fan of Leapfrog toys since he was a tiny wee thing at 6 months old so when we got the chance to check out the LeapPad Ultra we jumped (or hopped!) at the chance. BB is a big fan of playing on our iPad so I was curious to see how he would like the LeapPad Ultra.

My first impressions on taking the LeapPad Ultra out were how bright and sturdy it is. It's taken a few drops already- inevitable in the hands of a four year old-  and it's looking none the worse. When it's turned on the screen is bright and really clear.

LeapPad Ultra

The set up was really easy, five minutes of setting up an account and connecting to wifi and it was ready to be handed over to BB. The pre-loaded software is great. There is a drawing program, and the built in stylus seems like it will really help his pencil control. He's already having fun recording his voice as well as taking selfies with the front and rear cameras. He also has a pet avatar (currently a purple drangon called Super Monster) which he can play games with and use to play against other friends who have LeapPad Ultra. We haven't tried this feature yet.

We had a look on the app store pretty much straight away and naturally BB noticed the Cars 2 game straight away! The apps vary in price from about £20 for newer ones featuring Disney characters down to £3 for smaller apps. Once set up is complete BB got to pick a free app and he chose Scaredy Cat in the Spooky Woods. This is one of the simpler games but he's probably played it as much as the more expensive ones. In it he has to plan a route home for a cartoon cat, once again the stylus use will hopefully help with his pencil skills. We did cave and let him get some others, the Cars 2 interactive storybook is quite impressive. BB can read along with the story, or if he's feeling particularly lazy, have it read to him while playing fun games at various points. There are over five hundred apps and they are all are educator approved, so while they're fun and entertaining for him they're also helping his development. You can buy and download online from the app store or buy cartridges in shops featuring the same games.

We've been considering getting BB a tablet for a while but there are obviously some issues around having full internet and YouTube access at four years old. LeapPad Ultra solves this issue with Zui, the kid friendly web browser. BB can still look at videos but there's no possibility of him finding something inappropriate.

The parental tools in general are great. To get into the parent's area requires a four digit code: and although smarty pants might figure that out shortly (he has on our iPhones!) there is a password required for him to spend any money on the app store. In fact, we can access an account on the laptop that would let us send apps straight to his LeapPad, should we see one we think he'd like, whether his LeapPad is in the room or not.

We have tried a couple of other kids tablets and haven't been impressed, in fact we've had to return one because it flat out didn't work. At £119 RRP the LeapPad Ultra is not one of the cheaper options but it does seem to be a case of you get what you pay for. It's streets ahead of the others we tried in reliability (in that it actually works!), it feels sturdier and better built and the screen is brighter and better defined. There are fewer apps available than on a tablet which connects to Google Play but we know that the apps available are age appropriate and educational, which can't be said for everything on those with an "open" app store.

BB has loved the LeapPad so far, the games are well made and fun and he loves drawing and taking pictures with it. However the big advantage for me so far is the peace of mind it offers me as a parent. I know that everything on there is age appropriate and that he isn't looking at anything I wouldn't want him exposed to. I also know that while he's having fun playing the games, he's also learning and improving skills, so really the LeapPad Ultra is a hit for both of us. It really would make the perfect gift for a pre-schooler. Don't just take my word for it though here is Blondie Boy's review!

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We were provided the LeapPad Ultra for review but all opinions are my own. 
Do you really think I could make a 4 year old lie?

Monday, 16 December 2013

TK Maxx Christmas Challenge

Can you believe it is December already? This year has seemed to fly! I don't know about y'all but when it comes to Christmas shopping I am not the type of person who has it all done months in advance. I tend to leave it all until the last minute and then freak out and scramble to find everything I need.  Luckily for me my favourite store TK Maxx has you sorted this Christmas season with unique gifts for everyone on your list at up to 60% off!

TK Maxx challenged me again to shop for five people on my list for under £200 and I was more than up to the challenge. To be fair the biggest challenge of all was not buying lots of stuff for myself while I was there!

First I went looking for ideas for my Lassies Who Lunch girlies. These amazingly soft blankets screamed out Lorz to me as she is always going on about how she loves soft  stuff:

 RRP: £49.99 TK Maxx Price: £16.99!

Steph has really been getting into baking lately and is always bringing in cakes for us to try at the office. This cake caddy would be perfect to help her carry around her latest confection creation:

RRP: £14.99 TK Maxx Price: £7.99!

I've said it before and I'll say it again--NotBlondeHusband is notoriously hard to buy for. Luckily for me this amazing designer corduroy blazer with elbow patches caught my eye straight away: 

RRP: £275 TK Maxx Price: £43!

My Sister-in-Law recently came up to visit from London and was complaining that her purse was falling apart so that made her super easy to shop for this year! I loved the ruffle detail on this designer bag and knew the cream colour would match her winter coat:

RRP: £85 TK Maxx Price: £29.99!

Since retiring my Mother-in-Law has told me she doesn't really have any shoes other than high-heeled work shoes or gym shoes. These super cozy sheepskin boots would fill the gap in her wardrobe perfectly especially as it gets colder day by day in Scotland:

RRP: £80 TK Maxx Price: £34.99!

I should have paid £504.98-my total spend was £132.96--
74% off the RRP!

Not bad for 5 presents for 5 different people! I couldn't help myself (I love TK Maxx!) so if any little elves are reading this I found some amazing gift ideas for myself, too!

I've been experimenting with different ways to style my hair so I'd love this Volume and Shine Airstyler or these Sleep in Rollers!

RRP: £49.99 TK Maxx Price: £19.99!

RRP: £24.99 TK Maxx Price: £14.99!

Nearly £75 worth of styling goodies for under £35! That's not too much to ask for right?

TK Maxx really is the place to shop to get something for all your friends and family. Stock is refreshed daily so you’ll always find something new every time you visit; stores receive an average of 10,000 new products a week!
These are my top tips for shopping TK Maxx this Christmas:

·      Have an open mind. Your treasure hunt begins here; have ideas of what types of presents you'd like to find rather than specific items. There is something for everyone.

·      Get organised. Grab a trolley or basket and prepare to load up.
·      Make light work of the rails and follow this formula:
 Department (eg. womenswear).  Category (dresses) and size.

·      Deliveries arrive every day (sometimes more) and no two stores 
are the same, so be prepared to have a new look every time.

·      What you see is what they have. There are no stock rooms, everything comes 
straight from the delivery to the shop floor. 
Remember, when it's gone at TK Maxx, it really is gone. 
Be decisive and sharpen your elbows!

TK Maxx has over 277 stores in the UK and Ireland, you can find your nearest here or shop online!

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This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own. Y'all know well enough by now I freaking love TK Maxx, right?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Bacardi Cocktails

Christmas is right around the corner. So much of what I associate with Christmas and the holidays revolves around smell and taste: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mint, cinnamon and spice. So given that there's so much of the feeling of Christmas associated with taste, you'd think it's be easy to make Christmassy cocktails: and you'd be right! However, I wouldn't advise a turkey flavoured one.

I took a trip to our local Morrisons, which was looking suitably festive, with the aim of making two cocktails: a warm one for the cold winter nights and a cold one that could be served with Christmas dinner.

Christmas Decorations

 The first thing I picked up, to be used in both cocktails, was the Bacardi!

Bacardi Rum on Sale

So many of the smells and tastes associated with Christmas come from spices, so I headed to the spice aisle next and picked up some cinnamon sticks and some mulled wine spices. If you were feeling particularly adventurous you could try and make your own blend with cloves, cinnamon and dried fruit but if you're like me you'll have no time for that at this time of year and these sachets are just as good and twice as easy.

Cinnamon Sticks

Mulled Wine Spices

Some sugar: brown goes best with the hot drink.

Brown Sugar on Shelf

Some fruit juices: cranberry and cloudy apple. Sweet and Christmassy.

Cranberry Juice

Cloudy Apple Juice

 And since Christmas is all about being decadent and indulging yourself, some whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

Since it was a cold night I came straight home and started making the hot cocktail!

Hot Mulled Apple Bacardi (makes 4 servings)

For this I heated up 1 litre of the cloudy apple juice in a pan and, once it started to boil, added one mulled wine sachet, which is pretty much a Christmassy teabag! We like cinammon in this house, so I threw in two cinammon sticks too and the juice and zest of half an orange.

I let the apple juice simmer for a few minutes to infuse and craftily put 50ml of Bacardi into a mug.

Once the sachet and sticks had been in the simmering apple juice for 5 minutes I poured 1/4 of the liquid (roughly 250ml) on top of my Bacardi and gave it a stir.

As I said we like things cinammonny in this house, so as a festive garnish I served with a cinnamon stick in the drink and topped with whipped cream.

Straight away the drink is so warming; firstly it's obviously hot but the warmth you get from the spices could heat you up by itself.

For the cold cocktail I went for a sweet and minty martini: The Candy Cane!

Stick a generous handful of ice in a cocktail shaker (and some in a martini glass to chill it)

Frost the rim of the martini glass by wetting it and turning upside down into a saucer of white sugar.

Add 50ml cranberry juice, 37.5ml Bacardi and 25ml Creme de Menthe Blanc* to the shaker and shake for 7 seconds. (Top trick to shaking cocktails, if you can't be bothered counting you can judge by feeling the side of the shaker, once it's fully mixed the side will get colder as the ice deteriorates.)

Strain into frosted martini glass and serve. It tastes like a candy cane, sweet and pepperminty!

*Creme de menthe blanc isn't necessarily the easiest spirit to find but there are alternatives. Normal creme de menthe would work but the green colouring kind of spoils the look. You could substitute for peppermint vodka. How do you make that?

Pack of these:

In a bottle of this:

Leave over night then strain!

The cocktails are really different but still both Christmassy. I can see the hot mulled apple cocktail being something we could enjoy on cold nights throughout the whole of December and I'm looking forward to trying the Candy Cane on my family at Christmas dinner.

What is your favourite Christmas cocktail?

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