Tuesday, 29 November 2016

New Smiggle Store: Liverpool

We were very excited to be asked to visit the brand spanking new Smiggle store which opened in Liverpool One last week. We are all involved in education in one way or another and so we all have a need (and a love) of stationery.

We have bought Smiggle stationery before - we always find it funky, colourful and cheerful. I still have a blue "toaster" in my office at work that pops up post-it slices of toasts! People in work are always commenting how cool it is. They make great presents as well as being useful for all of our work! Alice, Rosie and Emily were very much looking forward to visiting the new store and finding out what they had to offer.



Smiggle offer pens, pencils, rulers as well as a whole host of products for all of your stationery needs such as lunch boxes, pencil cases and even lip balms and fun notebooks. Our kids, being of school age all use these types of items and the more colourful they are the better!

We spent quite a long time wandering around the store. There is so much to see! Staff were friendly and helpful, assisting Rosie trying out the glitter pens as she doodled.



I loved that they had ready-made gift packs. Items are bundled together with a lower price tag. We chose a rainbow heart lockable notepad with some coloured pens and of course once Rosie had tried out the glitter pens we knew that we would have to buy them.



I would recommend Smiggle to have a look around. It is great for presents and they have some really good bargains at the front of the store. Although it does cost more than I would usually spend on basic stationery, I think the price reflects the value of the products - and the bundes of goodies definitely would make a great Christmas present. Online at the moment they have a 30% discount on selected pencil cases so it is definitely worth a look. I also see that they now have a Christmas range - perfect!

Disclosure: We were given a voucher to cover the cost of our items from Smiggle, all words and views are our own.

Breakfast With Santa at Selfridges Preview

We love to take the kids to see Santa at Christmas. It is one of our family traditions. The girls think that it is absolutely magical. We started taking them as soon as they were old enough to focus!

I think one of the main things about Christmas is family time. We are all so busy throughout the year that it just makes sense to slow down and spend some quality time together as a family. We try to go on as many days out as possible, eat together, play together and just catch up and chill out. Seeing Santa is one of the ways that we spend time together and also enjoy the magic of Christmas.

This one is from 2014


This year we will be having Breakfast with Santa at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre, Manchester. We absolutely can't wait. The Breakfast with Santa at Selfridges includes a bite to eat with the man himself, grab a photo with him and a bag of goodies to take home. To finish there are Christmas songs!

If you would like to book tickets to see the man himself at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre, please see their website for further information.

We really can't wait to see Santa. :)

Disclosure: We are invited free of charge to have breakfast with Santa at Selfridges. All words and views are our own.



Friday, 25 November 2016

My Office Chair(s)*


As a busy student and an office worker, I am quite aware that I do need to have a comfy chair to work at. I probably spend a ridiculous amount of time sat at a desk, whether it is my desk in work, my desk at in the library, or my dining table - which tends to act as a make-shift desk for as I do my uni work and assignments!

My work office chair and space is overseen by health and safety at work - so my sitting position, chair, desktop and workspace is checked regularly. At home - not so much! I do tend to slouch and when I get engrossed in what I am reading I tend to lean over the book or laptop. This results in bad shoulders and back the next day. - not good when I have the kids to see to, work to get to and a million things on my to-do list! I do try to avoid doing this but sometime it is easier said than done - we all lead busy lives and a lot of that involves computer-based work. I suppose we just have to do what we can to make it as comfortable as possible - finding the right office chair is definitely a good place to start.

If I could share one tip with office workers or students who are sat in office chairs for a long time - it would be to take regular breaks. Read one article, write a set amount of words, then get up - stretch your legs, make a drink. When you get back to your desk be mindful about how you are sitting and what your posture is like. It is really important!

I do love my office chair in work. It is adjustable and comfortable. Also, it spins. So when I am having one of those days, well.... I can just spin for a bit until I feel better......

See below for some more brilliant office furniture tips:





*This is a collaborative post. All words and views are my own.

Monday, 14 November 2016

What Education Means To Me

I remember the first seminar. Open University. I was 28 and wondering what on earth I was doing in this dingy old classroom. About seven other people sat there, all men. Some younger, some older. It was in a school in the centre of Liverpool - the OU hire their classrooms. Six seminars per year. Six precious two hour sessions. The rest of the year was spent learning in almost complete isolation save for a few Facebook groups and the odd email.

I had straightened my hair and was wearing make-up. Nervous. What on earth was I doing? Me. Silly me.

Getting ideas above my station.

Six years later, a first class degree and doing a masters, things have changed. So much. I am almost unrecognisable from that young, slightly embarrassed girl. It was like being stood at the foot of a mountain and now I am looking back, stood above -  waving. Smiling and waving. Telling her she can do it, not to be so nervous, to be bold, brave, intelligent and hardworking. To follow that almost nightly recurring dream.

I'd also tell her not to wear so much damn make-up.

You see, education is everything to me now.

I have one seminar a week and spend every spare moment I can reading. I do have three children and I do work, and sometimes it is a fight and a struggle to get to my books - but I make it. I manage well. I'm not afraid of saying that I manage well anymore. That's a nod to that journey from the foot of the mountain.

You see, I do manage everything well. Constantly juggling and trying to not drop plates. Sometimes I fail. I struggle to get in doors and I trip up, get tangled in my bag and headphone wires on the bus and there is an argument with the teenager almost every night. The two younger girls peck my head and work can be busy - you might think what on earth is she doing? But it's perfectly OK.

Education underpins everything that I do. It is both my crutch and my passion. After I leave the class, I am excited, confident, happy - I am ready to face the new week ahead. I want to read more, absorb more, I want to question everything and sit and just think about the world around me. Most of all I want to pass it on and I want to explain how important it is to be educated. And to educate.

In a rare moment that the teenager wants to talk, we discuss history, politics. We talk about homelessness, current affairs, Donald Trump, feminism. I cuddle with the two younger girls and we watch Horrible Histories. I read them their bedtime stories with a fresh voice. A voice I did not know I had. I tell them they are strong, intelligent and that they can do anything that they put their mind to.

Education has given me all of this. 

I often think of that silly girl stood at the bottom of the mountain - and her recurring dream of educating herself. I often wonder what would have happened had she not took that first step. That huge, frightening step. Make-up to cover her blushes and her own hands squeezed tightly together with nerves.

I find myself telling others You can do it. 

Because if you want to - you can you know.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

National STEAM Day: Project MC2 Spy Bag & H20 Remote Control Car

Today is National STEAM day - STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Maths. The aim of this day is to inspire children, and particularly girls to get involved with these subjects. Traditionally these subjects have been taken on by boys and so National STEAM Day is to raise awareness for these subjects and girls' involvement with them.

As part of this day we were very excited to be sent a couple of toys to review from MC2. We love MC2 and have been fans of the dolls for a while. We were really chuffed to take delivery of the MC2 Spy Case and the MC2 H20 car.

Spy Case

The Spy Case is cleverly disguised as a pink handbag and includes over 15 items such as jewellery, nail varnish and perfume. However, all is not what it seems with this vanity case. The items all double up as a secret agent's equipment, so with this bag you can dust your finger prints with shimmery eyeshadow!



You can also send secret messages, inspect clues with a magnifying glass, test evidence with a a small chemistry set and record voices with a secret lip gloss recorder.



Overall the spy case is really fun and might encourage some girls to get involved with this type of activity. Alice really enjoyed playing with the pink coloured nail varnish holders and discovering what secrets the items held. Rosie also got involved and especially liked the voice recorder. However, Emily, who is not a fan of pink was not fussed on the make-up and girly items. I suppose you can't please everyone - we are different no matter what gender we are.

The Spy Case is sold in all good toy shop and prices start from £37.99. I would recommend this toy for someone who is perhaps reluctant to get into science but would like to be inspired. The box recommends that it is suitable for ages 6+ and I would say that this is right. Although our girls did enjoy it, I think optimum age would be a little bit older than this.

H20 Remote Control Car

We absolutely loved the design, style and concept of this car straight away. The car is powered by water! You literally just pop the hood up and insert the water.



The water does two things to this toy. First, adding it turns the car on. The water completes an electrical circuit and allows electricity to flow to power the car. It also creates the mist that looks like the car’s exhaust. 

 


The car also comes with an easy to use remote control and moves backwards as well as forwards. My girls had great fun with this car. They enjoyed putting their MC2 dolls (and their old Queen Elsa dolls, and Peppa Pig and any other toys that would fit!) into the car and driving them around. We don't really have any cars in the house as the girls tend to pick dolls or puzzles so this is a great addition to our toy collection. We also loved the fact that we got to explain some of the science behind using water to power the car. Our girls are only 5 and 3 so they are a bit young for science lessons but this was the opportunity for us to open up the conversation and teach them something new.



The car is available in all good toy shops.  Prices start from £44.99.

Disclosure: We were sent these items for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Halloween at Lowry Outlet

Our kids love Halloween, to the extent that Rosie can been heard singing Halloween songs all year round.  So we were delighted to be invited to the Lowry Outlet in Salford Quays to take part in their Spooktacular Halloween Trail.

First port of call was the face painter, with both girls choosing to be butterflies; Rosie in pink and Alice in purple.  The face painter was excellent, with custom designs for each girl getting the day off to a fine start.



We collected our trail maps, and set off around the store to find the Halloween markings.  I was quickly tired, as the girls were so excited the kept sprinting off to find the next marker.


After finding all eight markers, we took our completed maps back to claim out prizes - a badge that gave us entry to the Forbidden Forest.

Inside the Forest, the girls had to complete some tasks, helping a Scarecrow with his job of frightening the birds, and finding some rats in a fountain to help Hazel the Witch complete her potion.

After a quick stop for dinner, we went off to carve some pumpkins.  The kids managed to cover themselves (and the floor) in pumpkin flesh and seeds, before drawing on a face, ready for carving.  



Both kids were exhausted by the end, and promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home.  

We had a really lovely day, and will certainly be returning to the Lowry Outlet in the near future.

Disclosure.  We were invited to the Lowry Outlet and were given a voucher for our food.  All views are our own.  

Disqus for Wife, Mum, Student Bum