Friday, 20 May 2016

The Hut Summer Preview Event

Prosecco with pomegranate at The Hut Summer Event

Last week we were invited to a special family preview event with at the Artisan Bar and Kitchen in Spinningfields, Manchester.

Artisan Flatbreads at The Hut Summer Event

As well as enjoying a delicious glass of prosecco and tasting the Artisan's signature flatbreads, we were treated to an exclusive look at some of The Hut's the newest ranges, ideal for the summer months.

Lighting at the Artisan bar and kitchen

If you're not familiar with The Hut already then do pop over and check them out, they are a luxury online department store, selling everything from kitchenware, to designer clothes, toys and your favourite beauty products, all on one site.

Elizabeth wearing Frugi Daymer Bay Daisy Short Dungarees

Mama Mio skincare at The Hut Summer Event

We enjoyed testing out the latest Mio creams that are fabulous during pregnancy and beyond...

Game of Thrones and Disney Monopoly at The Hut Summer Event

The children had great fun playing with LEGO, Sooty and Sweep hand puppets and checking out the Disney and Game of Thrones themed Monopoly, they certainly added some things on to their mental wishlists!

Sooty hand puppets at The Hut Summer Event

Sweep hand puppets at The Hut Summer Event

It wasn't just the children that were in delighted with what they saw, the Mummies' eyes lit up at the sight of gorgeous Fiorelli handbags and a selection of designer shoes...

Fiorelli handbag at the hut summer event

Hot Pink baby Dr Martens at The Hut Summer Event

vivienne westwood and fitflop shoes at The Hut Summer Event

The lovely Pippa and Jenny modelling shoes from Vivienne Westwood and Fitflop.

Michael Kors Sunglasses at The Hut Summer Event

designer shoes at The Hut Summer Event

Dr. Martens at The Hut Summer Event

There was also a beautiful selection of designer clothes and homewares to discover,

designer clothes on hangers at The Hut Summer Event

clothes at The Hut Summer Event

photo frames at The Hut Summer Event

Calvin Klein towels at The Hut Summer Event

This is just a small selection of the fabulous ranges available on the website.

Although The Hut are a luxury retailer, that doesn't mean that they are going to be out of your budget, there are regular offers across the site and they offer free next day delivery when you spend £50, which can be so handy when you need something at the last minute such as a birthday gift or holiday clothes! There is also an Outlet section where you can make further savings!

You can check out the latest offers and news over on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

I'd like to thank The Hut for inviting our family to their event and for the lovely goody bag of treats we were were given to take home.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Casdon Little Shoppers Post Office - Review

My five year old daughter loves role play so she was delighted to be sent the Post Office set from the Casdon Little Shoppers range to review. She was eager to get playing as soon as it arrived so I set it up for her, this did require some fitting together of the plastic parts and intricate folding of the tiny magazines and cards so I would suggest helping out younger children with this they don't started to get bored or frustrated before they begin playing.

The Post Office includes: Weighing Scales, Post Box, Cash Drawer, Stamper, Coins And Notes, Magazines, Newspapers, Stamps, Envelopes, Post Cards, Vehicle tax discs and Forms, pad and pencil.

It wasn't long before we were ready to go and Elizabeth announced her Post Office was open for business, she convinced her eight year old brother to play too and the fun started from there...

The attention to detail in this playset is magnificent, from the tiny magazines and newspapers to the little greeting cards with their own envelopes to address and stamp. Both Elizabeth and Ben took turn of being the proprietor and the customer, coming to apply for a passport, tax their car and post parcels to their cousins in Canada, I watched from afar as I saw then take it so seriously, each aspect of the playset helping to fuel their imagination further.

It wasn't just their imagination skills that were being utilised while playing their post office games, they were using number skills to count the change in the till, filling out forms and writing notes down with the pen and pad and using fine motor skills to post cards and packages.

Casdon has been around for seventy years this year and I remember playing with a very similar post office set to this over 25 years go during my own childhood, they still have what it takes and I love the to see my children playing with the same toys that entertained me so many years ago, as much as they love them sometimes, they really don't need technology and battery operated toys to have some good old fashioned fun!

The Casdon Little Shoppers Post Office retails at £12.00 which I believe is great value for a toy that has so many aspects to it and encourages imaginative role play, but if you shop around you can get an even better deal at places such as Amazon. I would highly recommend the Little Shoppers Post Office for children from the ages of 3 to 7. 

We were sent the Casdon Little Shoppers Post Office for the purpose of review. Contains affiliate link.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Save money on your printing with Instant Ink - HP Envy 5540

A few weeks ago we were sent the HP Envy 5540 All-in-one Wifi printer to try out their money saving Instant Ink Service. As well as using the machine for our everyday printing needs such as vouchers, homework and e-tickets for events, Mumsnet and HP set us a number of challenges to get the best out of the Envy 5540.

Week One - Setting Up The Envy 5540 

Although I use a variety of technology every day, I tend to leave the set up of these devices to my husband, however in the interest of giving you a thorough write up I decided to tackle this myself in the case of the HP Envy. The quick start guide that comes in the box was really simply to follow, giving step by step instructions that even the technophobes among us could easily understand.

In less than fifteen minutes I had the software set up on my laptop, the app on my phone and tablet and my Instant Ink account ready to go.

The HP Instant Ink replacement service allows you to choose from three plans that are designed to fit your home printing needs starting from just £1.99 a month. There is no annual fee, and you can change or cancel your plan online at anytime.

    I decided to go for the moderate printing plan to start off with, at just £3.49 per month for 100 pages with the option to roll over or add an extra 20 pages for just £1, I thought it sounded ideal for our family's printing needs and would save me up to £162 over a year of printing. I may decide to change over to the frequent plan to save even more money if I find that we are printing more that I realise. I really love the flexibility in the plans as I can see our printing needs changing at different times throughout the year. During the school holidays for example I tend to print out activity and worksheets to keep the children occupied, after holidays I like to print out photographs of our adventures.

    Setting up the instant Ink account was straight forward in the main, however one little snag I did come across was that the settings seemed to default to the United States. A tip to avoid this happening is to click on the flag icon at the top of the screen and select the UK from the drop down list. 

    Week Two - The Quality Challenge

    So once we were all set up the next challenge was to test out the quality of printing from the HP Envy 5540. I loaded up the printer with HP Inkject plain paper with ColorLok and tried out the three printing modes of Draft, Normal and Best. 

    Firstly, I used the draft mode to print out directions and a map for my mum who was driving my daughter to a party that weekend, as she doesn't have a Sat Nav and wasn't familiar with the area. Draft mode allows documents to print quickly and uses less ink and is ideal for documents such as a map or directions that will be used just once. 

    We were also sent some example documents to print in normal mode, firstly a single page recipe and then a larger eight page document. I found the print quality excellent on both of these and the larger document was consistent throughout which isn't always the case with printers I've used in the past.

    The final mode to test was 'photo' mode, for this I changed over to HP Advanced Photo Paper, which was straightforward to do and took just a moment.
    I printed out a recent photograph of my children and was incredibly impressed with both the speed and the print quality of the photograph, one I'll be happy to display on the wall!

    I also put the printed picture through it's paces by trying to smudge it, both with my fingertips and a damp cloth but to know avail, the image stayed perfect on the page. This strikes me as ideal for printing pictures for craft projects, for scrapbooking and of course for proudly displaying in frames.

    Week Three - Value and Design

    Week three's challenge, tasked me to look at two important elements of a home printer, design and cost savings.

    When I read design, my immediate thought was the aesthetics of the printer and I have to admit that although the sleek black colour and the modern shape do their best, it is a little bulky and takes up it's share of space on my desk. It is however, when you consider further the design aspect though that you forgive the Envy 5540 for it's size. 

    HP Ink supplies are not just a plastic casing, as well as protecting the ink these little cartridges communicate with your printer to ensure that you are not only getting the best performance but also to ensure that a little brown box with a fresh supply of ink will arrive at your door before you run out! Now that is smart design!
    There is also the design of the app and the software to consider, both of these are designed to making printing any document as quick and straigtforward as possible. Whether it's printing out an email from my smart phone, or remembering last minute to print and sign that consent form for the latest school trip, I know that I can do either of these in minutes with just a few taps of the screen.
    One of the most appealing aspects of the Instant Ink Service to me was the cost saving. We looked in week one at the different plans that were available and I chose the moderate printing plan, based on an average monthly printing of 100 pages this plan could save me up to £162 a year. Of course you do have to factor the price of the printer into that but at with an RRP of £69.99 the HP Envy 5540 is a very good value printer for the features it offers, even before you consider the savings of the instant ink service. Previously, I was paying up to £25 to replace ink cartridges on an ad hock basis, not really knowing how much my printing was costing me. This way I have a set cost budgeted across the year and not only do I know how much I'm spending, I also know how much I'm saving!

    Week Four - Convenience and Overall Thoughts

    So for the final week, Mumsnet asked us to consider how the HP Envy 5540 has impacted on our family's life from a convenience point of view.

    As someone who is always thinking about how to save the pennies, I tend to research and shop around for most things, however printer ink has always been one of those things that has caught me unawares, I tend to ignore the warning and all of a sudden realise I'm desperately low on ink just as I need to print out something really important! Meaning that rather than ordering online and getting the best price, I would have to rush to the local supermarket and pay whatever price they were asking. Until now that is, the HP Instant Ink service has made saving money on printing an easy and convenient thing to do.

    Having the little boxes of ink turn up on my doorstep without having to remember to order them or search around for the best price gives us one less thing to worry about in our busy family life and the ease of printing straight from my smartphone or tablet means that the idea of printing out a document to sign or an activity sheet for the children is no longer a chore that I have to fret about.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed using the HP Envy 5540 and would recommend both the printer and the Instant Ink service to any busy family to meet a variety of printing needs.

    I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

    Saturday, 30 April 2016

    The Great Big Blog On Ice Breaker #BlogOnMSI

    The latest Blog On Conference in Manchester takes place tomorrow and although I may be a bit late to the party (better late than never, hey?) I'm really looking forward to it. This will be my fouth time attending Blog On at the Museum of Science and Industry and it's one of my favourite blogging conferences, partly because of the love people we have have up north who attend and also because, it's creator, Laura actually listens to what bloggers want from a conference and makes changes accordingly, it has grown and developed over the last 4 years and i'm pleased to have been a part of it from the start. I even had the pleasure of speaking about social media at the 2014 #blogonmosi. 

    Even though I'm running late with it I'm just in time to join in the The Great Big Blog On Ice Breaker hosted by Kara. So here are my answers:

    Share a recent picture of you  
    I couldn't find one, so this is a selfie I took just now!

    If you had to describe yourself in three words… 
    Oh gosh i'm not good at this sort of thing at all! How about...             Friendly Bargain Queen?
    How long have you been blogging and what made you start?
    I find it hard to believe sometimes but I wrote my first blog post in May 2011, So My Mummy's Pennies will be five years old next month! I started as I was a penny pinching young with lots of tips to share and needed something to stop myself going stir crazy!  A lot has changed in that time and I'd like to think that my blog has grown with my children. I've gone from being a Mummy to a young baby on maternity leave to working party time trying to balance work and home life and now a full time working mum to two school children. I've shared my experiences of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and cloth nappies, starting school, budget family holidays, fun days out and much more...Although my little space on the internet has been quiet for a while, more changes are a foot and as I settle into full time work i'm hoping to bring more attention back to the blog and have some exciting thing planned!
    What was your favourite TV program as a child? 
    I can't remember! I liked Sabrina the teenage witch...

    Something interesting you might not know about me is . . . I'm not a very interesting person to be honest but I do have a qualification in sign language, does that count?

    What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten? I'm a very fussy eater and a vegetarian so I'm not really into weird food! I love beetroot chocolate cake though!

    What was your biggest fashion faux pas? Well I grew up in the eighties and nineties so where do I start? Shell suits, waistcoats, fluorescent cycling shorts? And that was just my childhood, in teenage years I progressed to Spice Girls style red or dead platform shoes, mini skirts and crop tops with Ben Sherman shirts over...

    What are you pet peeves? I have a lot! Poor grammar is one, also rudeness and bad manners. 

    Who would be your 3 perfect dinner party guests (dead or alive) and why?
    just because 
    Hmmm, another tough one, I'd have to say George Orwell, Enid Blyton and Yann Martel as their books have shaped my life.

    If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would play the part of you?

    I hate being the centre of attention, so I think it would be more about the people in my life than me, I'd love to be played by Juliette Lewis, as I think she's ace!

    If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be? I'd love to live in the world of The Big Bang Theory! Although I may not be a genius, I am a bit of a geek at heart!

    Name a famous person you have met? Well my children would tell you about the kids TV stars like Dr Ranj and Mr Bloom, but i'll say Micheal Palin whom I met at a book signing a few years ago

    Which social media platform best describes your personality and why?
    Twitter? Because I'm better in small doses?

    What picture do you have on lock screen on your phone / computer? This picture I took at Dunham Massey at Easter last year, I love it there and find water so peaceful, it always makes me smile

    How many pairs of shoes do you own? Too many if you ask my husband! I'd say about 30 to 40 I think.

    What period of time from the past would you most like to have lived? If I choose based on the fashion of the time I think i'd go for the 1940's, I love the make do and mend ethos of the post war era and also like the fact that women had found their place as a valuable part of the work force.

    If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Everywhere! I've traveled a lot in Europe but not really gone further afield. I'd say the two places at the top of my list would be Russia and Burma.
    What is your guilty pleasure? 
    My guilty TV pleasure has to be watching Come Dine with me! I usually hate reality TV but I love watching this.
    What is your favourite tipple? 
    Either a nice Rose wine or A cheeky glass of baileys with ice

    If you had a magic lamp and a Genie, what would be your three wishes? 
    1. A clock that stops time and gives me extra hours in the day!
    2.  A self cleaning house!
    3. the ability to eat unlimited chocolate without putting on weight!
    Can't wait to see you all at #blogonmsi and please do say hi if you see me as i'm awful at recognizing faces!