Review: Oilesen Vitamin D3 For The Whole Family

Even though we have been blessed with some gorgeous weather of late, autumn is here and now, more than ever in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for us to keep our levels of Vitamin D topped up.

Recent studies have also indicated that Vitamin D may help both lessen the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and of dying from the virus.

In a study by Dr Michael Holick, it was found that sufficient vitamin D can reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus by 54% and the vitamin can also help against other viruses affecting the upper respiratory tract.

And patients older than 40, those who had sufficient levels of vitamin D were more than 51% less likely to die than patients who were deficient.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin but, spending time outdoors is clearly not enough as it is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, one of the most important being to enable the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are involved in a number of essential processes that occur inside our cells.

Vitamin D also promotes the laying down of minerals in bone (bone mineralisation) and supports the function of nerves and muscles.

It is particularly important for infants and young children because it is needed for the development of strong and healthy bones and teeth and it is also important for the functioning of the immune system.

You may have an extra risk of a Vitamin D deficiency if you are in one of these groups:

  • those with darker skins who cannot synthesise vitamin D efficiently from the UK’s relatively weak northern sunlight
  • people who cover their skin whilst outdoors
  • those with minimal exposure to sunlight.

That certainly describes me – and, I suspect, most of us whose employment keeps them indoors for the majority of the day.

Whilst Caitlin and Ieuan do play outdoors during school playtimes, at home like many other children they spend a large amount of time indoors in front of screens.  Yes, we do our best to drag them out whenever we can but, like many parents, it is often a herculean struggle!

Did you know that, according to national surveys, one in five people have low vitamin D levels which are associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health such as rickets, osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength?

Even more concerning, a report published in December 2018 by the University of Queensland, reported that newborns with vitamin D deficiency had a 44 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life compared to those with normal vitamin D levels.

In fact, Public Health England currently advises that in the UK all children under five take a daily vitamin D supplement year-round and all adults throughout the autumn and winter months.

Sobering stuff!

We’ve been trying the Oilesen Vitamin D3 range from Swiss pharmaceutical company Valentis, containing high-grade natural ingredients including Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The products are vegetarian, family-friendly and purse-friendly.

Why D3 you may wonder?  Vitamin D2 and D3 are the two most important forms for your health but whereas Vitamin D2 is produced by plants, Vitamin D3 is the one made by your skin when you get enough sunlight. Studies show that Vitamin D3 is far more important for our health than Vitamin D2.

Oilesen products are designed to provide supplementary vitamin D3 and there’s a format to suit each member of the family: pregnant women, babies from birth through to older children, adolescents and adults, as well as individuals who may be housebound or who avoid sun exposure.

The range includes Oilesen Vitamin D3 500 Spray; Oilesen Vitamin D3 400 Drops; and Oilesen Vitamin D3 1000 Soft Gel Capsules.

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 500 Spray – 30 ml (320 doses)

Really easy to use, you simply spray directly under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek for fast absorption.  It has a pleasant orange flavour too. Children aged 4 to 10 years should be given 2 doses per day whilst children over 10 years and adults need 2 to 4 doses per day. Each dose contains 12.5 ug of vitamin D3.  This was Caitlin’s preferred way to take it as she could do it herself and feel very grown-up (under supervision, obviously!).

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 1000, soft capsules made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Children over 5 years and adults simply take 1 capsule per day during a meal. If there are issues with swallowing, the capsule can be chewed or the contents squeezed into a meal, a drink or directly into the mouth. 1 capsule contains 25 μg of vitamin D3.  Luckily Ieuan has never had a problem swallowing tablets and has lots of practice with his travel sickness pills.

The range also includes Oilesen™ Vitamin D3 400 Drops 10 ml. With a base of extra virgin olive oil which aids absorption, this product is intended to provide supplementary vitamin D3 for babies.

The dropper enables Mums and Dads to easily add a daily dose directly into the baby’s mouth or mix into food or drink.  Babies can be given 1 drop per day to be taken with a meal from birth. 1 drop contains 10 μg of vitamin D3.

The Oilesen Vitamin D3 range is available from local pharmacies nationwide and online at or Amazon.

Great Children’s Books For Lockdown Reading

Whilst we’re all still stuck at home with our little ones, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some reading.  In this post, you’ll find 10 great suggestions to keep your little ones entertained – and to hopefully help them keep up with their reading and English development whilst the schools are closed.  Heads up – this post does contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small payment to help run Mother Distracted.

All our family are avid readers – and I have to confess that my Amazon wishlist is currently of epic proportions.  Thankfully, Caitlin and Ieuan take after their parents and, once removed from the Wi-Fi, will happily delve into the pages of a book – albeit now they are into young adult and adult fiction (carefully vetted of course).  They are great late night readers too.  I am a firm believer that a book at bedtime helps you sleep.

Here are my suggestions for younger children:

Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes and James Mayhew

Meet Gaspard the Fox as he sets out one summer evening in search of adventure and something to eat. This charming and humorous picture book celebrates urban foxes and their relationship with the humans and animals they share the city with. With stunning original illustrations by award-winning children’s book author James Mayhew, this is the first in a series of collaborations between Zeb and James following the adventures of Gaspard and his friends.

The Very Silly Dog by Nick Cope

Loved by listeners around the UK and internationally, children’s singer-songwriter Nick Cope’s work takes on a new form in this series of illustrated books, with original artwork from Nick and his son, Burt.

The Very Silly Dog begins with an inevitable mishap by its titular character, with some very amusing consequences…

Includes song lyrics and guitar chords at the back of the book for children and adults to play and sing along

Why is the sky blue? by Nick Cope

Why is the Sky Blue? is an entertaining take on the inquisitiveness of young children, featuring Joe and his dad and all the weird and wonderful questions Joe has about the world.

No I don’t wanna do that! by Nick Cope

No I Don t Wanna Do That is the story of young Joe, who, put off all the range of activities his mum suggests, would rather have fun at home instead. How endearing a choice this is, in the end, is really down to any parents reading!

Thimble Holiday Havoc by Jon Blake

Jams lives with his mum, dad and his best friend Thimble, a hugely clever monkey who isn’t exactly one of Dad’s biggest fans. (Don’t tell anyone what Thimble did with the superglue…) When Mum organises a house-swap holiday to France, what can possibly go wrong? Then Thimble and Dad find the keys to a speedboat, a drill and a makeshift burglar outfit…

Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake

Life is never boring now that Jams and his family have a monkey to look after. Jams and his mum love Thimble, but Dad is determined to get rid of him – to a zoo, a school, even a demolition site. But when Jams and his dad are in mortal danger, Thimble proves once and for all why he is a Monkey Superstar! Thimble is very clever and very naughty – and just the best friend Jams has been waiting for.

Steve and the singing pirates by Dan Anthony

Life is tough for nine-year-old Steve and no one understands him, least of all his family or his piano teacher. But when the call comes from the Library of Dreams Steve takes charge of the baton in an eighteenth-century sing-off complete with pirates, wigs and a rascally cut-throat edge. Second in the Steve’s Dreams series about lovable loser Steve.

Steve’s Dreams – Steve and the sabre-toothed tiger by Dan Anthony

It’s the summer holidays, but for nine-year-old Steve life in his home town is full of hidden menace. He believes he must protect his family from a dangerous, unpredictable world. But he can’t solve all the problems on his own. He’s just not quite big enough.

Alex Sparrow And The Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick

Catching the school’s runaway guinea pigs is not giving Alex job satisfaction, but how can he find a bigger test for his and Jess’s awkward superpowers? Jess is more worried about the bullied new boy, whose Mum runs the animal sanctuary. She volunteers at the sanctuary, but soon realises that something is very wrong; the animals are terrified. People report strange events: things missing, property destroyed, and the local squirrels have turned mean. The police have no suspects. It looks more and more like a job for Agent Alex…

Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires by Malachy Doyle

Pete and his faithful companion, Blob, love to go wandering in the pitch-dark night, then stumble over a van-load of vampires… And end up at the most frightful fancy dress party ever!

There are plenty of other children’s favourites of course, David Walliams and Roald Dahl, for example, or why not consider some real children’s classics?

Happy reading!

Posts may contain affiliate links

10 Tips To Spring Clean Your Office

As spring turns to summer and the temperature starts to rise, it can be uncomfortable working indoors and, since many of us are now required to do exactly that, it is a great time to spring clean your office or workspace and get it prepared for the warmer weather. You really don’t want to be rooting through endless paperwork to find vital statistics when you’re close to a meltdown!

Workspace with desk and lamp

How to spring clean your office

Here are some simple steps you can take which will make you more organised and a little healthier too!

1.  Clear out old paperwork and shred confidential documents.

But don’t forget that some documents need to be kept for tax purposes.  HMRC says that records must be kept for at least 5 years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year and they may also check your records to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax.  I like to keep a hard copy print out of my records to be on the safe side.

2. Invest in some new files.

Even though many documents can be stored on your Google drive or in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets on your desktop, you may still need to keep hard copy documentation of items such as invoices and statements (see 1. above!).

You may as well have pretty files that you enjoy using – or at least ones strong enough to withstand regular use.

3.  Improve the air quality

Believe it or not, there are actually house plants it is almost impossible to kill.  I have to confess my track record isn’t exactly impressive but you can improve your indoor air quality with them.

Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide which is then turned into oxygen through photosynthesis.

You could try Spider Plants, Weeping Fig or Peace Lilies to name a few.

If your tastes are more esoteric, you could try a Himalayan Salt lamp which will also cleanse and deodorize the air.

And of course, a decent desk fan will work wonders in the heat.

4. Invest in some VELUX blinds to block out the sun

Not only will decent blinds help keep you cool, but removing the glare of sunlight from your workstation will stop you squinting at the screen and getting a headache.

Giving your windows a thorough clean both inside and out will help too.

In addition, you can get an anti-glare screen for your computer which will help make reading easier.

5. Keep hydrated

Make sure you have a good supply of fresh water to hand and if you are fuelled by coffee perhaps invest in a one cup coffee maker.  Try to incorporate water-rich foods into your snacks and lunches – salad, fruits and vegetables.

6.  Disinfect!

Thoroughly disinfect your keyboard and your phones which can harbour more germs and bacteria than the average toilet seat!

keyboard and glasses

7.  Use visual aids

If you are a visual person, why not include a noticeboard for planning or a whiteboard for scribbling down your flashes of inspiration.

Some like to have their vision board in front of them – a wishlist of their hopes, dreams, ambitions and goals. The theory is that by having these things in front of you, you are more likely to manifest them in real life.

8. Reduce, re-use, recycle

Make sure you have an adequate sized bin.  We have 2, the second being for recyclable material (all the Amazon packaging!) and don’t forget you can recycle the shredded paper from your shredder too (great as bedding for mice and hamsters!).

Gradually the aim should be to move to a completely paperless office but most of us aren’t quite there yet.

9.  Protect your health

You could also think about wrist and ankle supports if you are going to be spending a lot of time typing to avoid conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

Most importantly, make sure you get regular screen breaks to rest your eyes and get up and walk about every 45 minutes or so.

My physio says he would not dream of sitting down for longer than this at a stretch if he could possibly help it.

Many doctors consider sitting to be the new smoking and recently leading doctor Sir Muir Gray caused controversy by claiming that Type 2 Diabetes is caused simply by lack of exercise.

10. Spring clean your work bag

It’s also worth carrying a mini-kit of essentials with you to help stay cool and fresh throughout the day.

Make sure your workspace meets your needs and is a pleasant place to work.  After all, you will be spending the bulk of your time there and, for most of us, far longer than we spend with our families unless you are lucky enough to work from home.

Some employers frown upon personal items such as family photos so you may have to restrict your self-expression to funky stationery and a cactus that reminds you of your boss!

*collaborative post with VELUX

Win “PR School Your Time To Shine” Book By Natalie Trice

Back in my marketing days, PR (Public Relations) was often viewed as a bit of a dark art.  It was all about connecting with the right people for the right reason at the right time – and that often involved a sizeable budget and a PR agency worth its salt.

As any experienced freelancer or blogger knows, you have to promote your business while working in your business – and that can be stressful, time-consuming and something that constantly gets put on the back burner.

But a new book by Natalie Trice throws light, literally and figuratively on the subject with her new book, “PR School:  Your Time To Shine – A Masterclass In Publicity For You And Your Business”.

Natalie has over 20 years of experience of working in the PR industry with some pretty heavyweight clients.  Her passion is to inspire and teach us to share our story and promote our business without losing the plot.

Natalie’s book is for you if you:-

  • are left out in the cold whilst your competitors are all over the press
  • are dying to tell your story but don’t want to be seen as bragging
  • want to work with influencers but don’t know where to start (*waves)
  • want to drive sales and raise your profile but are fed up shelling out for ads with no return

Let’s be honest – it’s tough out there at the moment and, given the current political chaos, even established businesses have their work cut out to stand above the crowd and be heard.

Author & PR Expert Natalie Trice

Natalie’s book teaches you how to plan your PR strategy and make it happen by being your own PR. Written in a breezy, down to earth style, you’ll love her practical advice – but be warned, there will be homework.  It is a PR School, after all.

PR School: Your Time to Shine includes:

  • Clear explanations of what PR is and how it can help businesses to thrive, and individuals to be seen as experts in their field
  • Creative exercises put learning into practice and results become tangible
  • Comments from experts, journalists, and influencers, give a real insight into the world of PR and how to get it right
  • An industry worthy resource centre for all things PR and business
  • Confidence boosting tips and ideas that will take readers out of their comfort zones and beyond their wildest self-promotion dreams

Natalie describes her book as “a business development adventure that helps readers to tell their stories in a powerful, convincing way so they can cut through the noise, make an impact and potentially change their lives as their sales increase and their profile is raised.

There are even expert comments on mindset, bravery and banishing imposter syndrome so that self-doubt and procrastination are left behind and an exciting new phase can begin in 2020.”

What a great way to start the new decade!

Natalie at her home in Devon

Find out more about one of the best books for PR 2020 at and buy the book on Amazon.  Plus I have one copy of the book to give away.

Simply enter via the GLEAM widget in the usual way.  You’ll find terms and conditions on my giveaways page.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday 17th December.  UK entrants only.

PR School Your Time To Shine Book

Gift Different With TK Maxx This Christmas

What kind of Christmas shopper are you? Are you an avid Christmas planner who buys their gifts throughout the year? Or are you a last-minute mad dash kind of shopper? Whichever camp you fall into, at this most expensive time of year we all want the best value for money gifts we can find to keep the whole family happy.

Let’s be honest, buying the family gifts usually falls to us mums, doesn’t it? And we already have quite enough on our plates without spending hours online or trudging through the shopping malls looking for something different, extra special – and, dare I say it, even a little adventurous?

We were recently challenged to ‘gift different’ by TK Maxx to see what designer gifts we could find at prices that won’t blow the budget. They have an ever-changing range of wOoOah/big gifts at oOoOh/small prices!

After getting some great ideas online, I let the kids loose to choose some gifts for the family.  Here’s how they got on.

Gifts for him

You’ll find a great range of kids gifts and gifts for babies but when you have tweens, it’s always a little more difficult to find something to hold their interest in between bouts of gaming and texting.

Ieuan found a Retro Mini Arcade Machine including 240 games for £14.99 (RRP £24.99)

and a Radio Control Ferrari for £12.99 (RRP £19.99). Great gifts for dads and uncles too.

This Super Mario Question Block Mug for £3.99 (RRP 11.99) would suit any gamer and cheer up a dreary Monday morning.

And what about this collection of 100 brain-teasing puzzles for £12.99 (RRP £19.99)? Great for playing after Christmas dinner, assuming you haven’t succumbed to ‘resting your eyes’ as the husband refers to napping.

You don’t need to schlep around the shops in your quest for something unusual or quirky. TK Maxx sells a huge assortment of big names and designers, up-and-coming labels and one-off gems and always at up to 60% less than the recommended retail price (RRP).

And, you don’t have to wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday because you’ll find low prices all year round!

Gifts For Her

Caitlin found some great gifts for her cousins and aunts – and me!

She found a lovely Black & White Panda Gift Set with an eye mask, socks and hot water bottle for £12.99 (RRP £22).

and a gorgeous boxed set of 3 eyeshadow palettes for £9.99 (RRP £24) which any girl would love.

Lastly, she found this gorgeous cross-body leopard print bag at £29.99 (RRP £69) which I have my eye on.

It’s not just clothes, bag and shoes, either.  If you love your skincare, you’ll know that TK Maxx is the destination for high-end skincare purchases at affordable prices and is adored by fans of skincare guru Caroline Hirons (including me!)  You’ll find plenty of homeware and gifts too and the kids usually vanish to check out the toys on offer when we visit our local store.

You’ll find the same range of bargains on TK Maxx’s website which is great for those of us who love to browse online but make our purchases in person.

A visit to TK Maxx is like a treasure hunt.  You don’t know what you’re going to find next – and, as stock is replenished several times a week and styles and items vary across the stores and on the website, there’s a surprise every time you visit.  (We are lucky enough to have two TK Maxx stores close by, in the centre of Cardiff and near Wenvoe).

Personally, I find it a fun way to shop and a great way to lose yourself for a little while and I know that I won’t have to worry about someone else giving the same gift as me  – as mine will always be unique.

Just remember though, grab those special gifts while you see them because when they’re gone, they’re gone!  Happy treasure hunting.

This post is a paid partnership with TK Maxx.


Christmas Toy Ideas For Girls Aged 7 to 10

Searching for the perfect gift for a 7 to 10-year-old girl? These days, there are literally hundreds of different gifts to choose from. No matter what she’s into and how much you have to spend, there’s sure to be a huge range of gifts to match it.

Investing in toys which get your child away from a screen is also going to benefit their health. Kids today spend a lot of time either in front of a television or a tablet. While technology can obviously be important for their development, it can also be detrimental if it’s used too frequently. So, buying toys which encourage imaginative play, and which encourage creativity, are a fab idea.

To help narrow down your search, here you’ll discover 5 of the best toys for girls 7 to 10 years old.

1. L.O.L Surprise! Bigger Surprise with 60+ Surprises

If there’s one toy most 7 to 10 year old girls are obsessed with these days, it’s L.O.L dolls. These cute little dolls are highly collectable and provide hours of fun. However, buying the dolls individually can prove to be really expensive. That’s where gift sets such as this L.O.L Surprise kit, come in useful.

It comes with two limited edition Surprise L.O.L dolls, each featuring seven great surprises. There’s also a Surprise limited edition L.O.L pet included which also comes with seven different surprises. That’s not all either. In fact, the entire set comes with over 60 surprises that she’s sure to love.

One of the bigger surprises to be unwrapped is the purse carrying case which stores all of the dolls and accessories. Perhaps the best feature of this gift, however, is that it comes with an “eye spy series”. She will need to look for clues throughout the series to discover the names of secret agents who are looking for their missing pets. It’s everything a little girl loves so your money will be well spent with this gift.

2. Lil’ Gleemerz Doll, Blue

The adorable Lil’ Gleemerz doll was named one of the top 100 toys & games on Amazon for 2018 and it isn’t hard to see why it is still popular. Featuring large puppy-dog style eyes and a cute bushy tail, this interactive toy is sure to become your child’s best friend.

It has more than 100 different reactions for her to discover. Just some of them include purring, growling and saying funny phrases. They can even play games with their child companion and put on dazzling light-up shows.

Controlling it is easy too. Simply press the nose to choose between three different modes including hangout, game or light party.

3. Fingerlings HUGS – Bella (Pink)- Advanced Interactive lush Baby Monkey Pet – By WowWee

Cuddly toys are always a winner with young girls and there are lots of different ones to choose from. However, if you’re looking for the best cuddly toy on the market, this Fingerlings HUGS Bella toy is highly recommended.

This isn’t just your average cuddly toy, it’s interactive. Each of the HUGS characters are designed with maximum fun and entertainment in mind. Their super-sized reactions make every minute fun, from burping and tooting to laughing hysterically, your child is sure to love this adorable companion.

The arms of HUGS are extra-long, allowing for great cuddles. You can also have hours of fun using the mimic feature. Simply press Bella’s left ear as you talk, then when you let go, she will repeat what you’ve just said in a variety of funny ways. This toy is sure to become a firm favourite with the little lady in your life.

4. Cool Maker KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker – Quick & Easy Activity Kit for Kids Ages 8 and Up

Searching for the perfect gift for a girl aged 8 or over? This Cool Make KumiKreator bracelet maker is a fab choice.

It’s one of the easiest bracelet making kits to use, creating stylish friendship bracelets in a matter of minutes. Each kit can create up to 10 bracelets and it comes with a stylish carry case to store everything in. With an incredible 88 spools of thread included, the design options are practically endless. Your child and their friend will be able to create distinctive, personalized bracelets not found anywhere else.

So, if she loves being creative, this simple yet beautiful kit is sure to keep her happy for hours. Once the threads run out, you can buy replacement packs for continued use.

5. PIKMI POPS Giant Flips – Cinnamon the Bunny

If she loves all things cute and cuddly, she’s going to love Cinnamon the Bunny! Part of the popular PIKMI POPS Giant Flips collection, this large plush toy is perfect for cuddling.

However, it doesn’t just feature Cinnamon the Bunny. Your child will also find eight different surprise items inside. One or two of these will be exclusive, scented medium PIKMI POPS. Unlike the larger toy, these can be carried around everywhere.

Ideal for girls aged 5 and over, these adorable toys are super-soft and extra cuddly. The larger bunny doesn’t have a scent, but the smaller ones smell just like cotton candy. There are three main designs to choose from, but Cinnamon does tend to be the most popular.

So, there you have it – 5 of the best toys for girls aged 7 to 10. Whether she loves to get creative or she enjoys cute, cuddly toys, there is something on the list to suit every little girl – or boy for that matter!

Win A Bundle of ACE Cleaning Products Worth £40

Thank heaven it’s nearly half term.  Because, if you’ve kids in school, you may well have spent the last 7 weeks wrestling with bundles of school uniforms, scrubbing off mud from footie and dabbing away stains from pasta bolognese and heaven knows what else!

To help you cope with the onslaught of the next 7 weeks, I have a fabulous bundle of cleaning supplies worth £40 from ACE, the leading stain remover, to give away to one lucky winner.

This bundle will help you to get rid of everyday stains, add sparkle to your household surfaces and brighten up your wardrobe – and the best part is the products start from just £2 each.

In the bundle you’ll find:

  • 2 x ACE Colours
  • 2 x ACE Colours Powder – the new plastic-free alternative
  • 2 x ACE for Whites
  • 2 x ACE Power Mousse and
  • 2 x ACE Stain Remover.

ACE for Colours has been specially formulated to remove the toughest of stains and yet be gentle on even the most delicate clothes. You can even use it on silk, wool and cashmere.

Its 8+ system will tackle food, grease, outdoors, trapped dirt, body soils, drinks, cosmetics and vegetable oils.

ACE Colours Powder brings the power of active oxygen into the wash to remove even tough stains (such as wine, tea, coffee and fruit) and bad odours, at just 30 degrees!

ACE for Whites helps to brighten dull whites while still being gentle on delicate clothes.

ACE Power Mousse combines the might of bleach with ACE cleaning power to keep household surfaces and white laundry bright and clean.  It’s a bleach and a degreaser in one.

ACE Stain Remover is great for tackling germs, grease and stubborn stains and is suitable for use around the home and on coloured clothes.

For more information visit or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, The Range, Wilko, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

The giveaway

To win the bundle as outlined above, just enter via the GLEAM widget below.  The usual terms and conditions apply which you can find on my giveaways page.

The giveaway is open to UK entrants only and ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 15th November.

Ace Cleaning Bundle Worth £40

Good luck – and don’t forget to leave your best laundry cleaning tip!

Top STEM Toys Children Will Love and Learn From

Are you searching for toys that aren’t just fun, but educational too? If so, STEM toys could be exactly what you need.

STEM toys started to become popular back in 2013, but in recent years they’ve really risen in popularity. Short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM toys are designed to give kids the skills they need in these core subjects.

The benefits of STEM toys

While there are a lot of educational toys out there, not all of them are designed to boost STEM skills. So, why are STEM toys considered more educational?

There are a lot of benefits of giving your children STEM toys. However, one of the main ones is the fact they can teach your child a lot of traits and skills they won’t necessarily get from other toys. These include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Patience
  • Cooperation
  • Cognitive development
  • Overcoming challenges

In the long term, STEM toys will also help your child to learn more about specific core subjects. So, by the time they start learning these subjects in school, they’ll already have a good grasp of the subjects.

There are a lot of STEM toys available on the market and not all of them offer the same educational and fun element as others. So, if you’re looking to invest in the very best varieties, below you’ll discover the 5 top STEM toys children will love and learn from.

1. Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit


Aimed at children aged 6 and over, this awesome science kit teaches the basics of science in a fun, hands-on way. Featuring 11 unique activities, your kids will have hours of fun carrying out mind-blowing experiments.

Help them create an explosive colour-changing volcano, a stunning test tube sunset and watch in amazement as they change the colour of grapes! It’s dynamic science at its finest and all of the experiments can be carried out at home.

2. National Geographic Break Open 10 Premium Geodes

Teach your kids all about Geodes with this exclusive kit from National Geographic. Featuring 10 high-quality geodes, the whole family can enjoy cracking them open to reveal the hidden crystals inside.

The geodes range from the size of a tennis ball to the size of a ping pong ball, and all have been mined from numerous sources. Every geode is different too, so you’ll never know whether you’re about to crack open a calcite, amethyst, quartz or fluorite.

As well as the geodes themselves, the kit also comes with a beautiful 16-page learning guide. This teaches kids how they are formed and the different varieties that can be found in nature.

3. K’Nex 100 Model Building Set, 863 Pieces, Age 7+

This Amazon exclusive K’Nex 100 model building set comes with a staggering 863 pieces. The K’Nex connectors and rods can be put together in a variety of ways, enabling kids to create a huge range of shapes, structures and figures.

What sets this kit apart, is the fact it comes with numerous moving pieces too. So, the structures your kids create can actually move, making them much more exciting than your average model building sets. An instructional booklet is also provided, showing you how to create 100 different models.

This kit has outstanding developmental benefits, helping to enhance key areas such as fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.

4. Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set

This incredibly cute robot is designed to teach your kids key STEM skills in a fun, interactive way. They will learn screen-free coding in a matter of minutes, using an easy remote programmer. Suitable for children as young as 5, Botley grows with your child and can be used for many years to come.

Included with Botley, you’ll find a 77-piece activity kit including coding cards, a remote programmer, 27 obstacle building pieces and detachable robot arms. There’s also a great starter guide and numerous coding challenges included.

This awesome robot is the Toy of the Year winner 2019, and it offers endless fun and learning opportunities.

5. Anki Cozmo Limited Edition, Interstellar Blue

Introduce your kids to Cozmo, the creative coding robot. This limited edition, Interstellar Blue robot is designed to be a fearless explorer and an adorable sidekick.

Built with advanced AI, Cozmo can recognize you, remember your name and evolve with you the more you play with him. He loves to play games, whether it’s memory match, lifting up power cubes or Quick Tap. Thanks to frequent app updates, there’s always new games your kids can challenge him to.

The coding aspect is simple and easy to use. Via the remote programmer, your kids can drag and drop coding blocks and watch Cozmo carry out actions such as working out with his cubes or performing a victory dance. He’s one of the most advanced STEM robots on the market and offers exceptional value for money.

As you can see, there is a great range of STEM toys for children. Whether you’re hoping to teach them coding, or you’re looking for a model building set that will aid in their core development skills, there is something on the list above to suit you.

STEM toys are fast gaining in popularity and it isn’t hard to see why. Helping to teach your child the modern skills of today, these toys will set them up for a bigger, brighter future. So, which STEM toy will your child love and learn from? Whichever toy you invest in from the list, your child is guaranteed to love it.

Review: Gorgeous Silver Rings From Abelini Jewellery

Everyone loves a bit of bling, don’t they?  But sometimes you need a piece of jewellery that’s a little classier and a bit more special – whether to accessorize an evening outfit, to add some pizazz to otherwise dull workwear or just to give as a gift.  I was sent this gorgeous silver sample ring from British jeweller, Abelini to show how beautiful their wedding and engagement rings are.

Abelini offers engagement rings, diamond rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants at prices to suit every pocket and they are currently challenging their customers to find their perfect Abelini piece to add some sparkle to their busy day.

All their designs are manufactured with love by British craftsman and I don’t know about you but I’m all about supporting British businesses in these rocky BREXIT times!

Abelini Jewellery invests great care in ensuring they use only ethically sourced materials when crafting their jewellery and their business ethos is to provide choice, security and to give back to the community. And because they source their diamonds themselves and cut out the middleman, they can offer huge savings of up to 78% off high street prices.

Each piece is carefully reviewed before it is dispatched and comes with a lifetime warranty and a no-quibble 100% money back guarantee within 60 days of purchase.

If you are in London you can also visit their Hatton Garden showroom to try on their pieces in person or request their bespoke design service to create something truly unique.

What makes Abelini pretty special in my book is their Diamond Rings Home Trial service.  You can have 3 samples sent to your door and you can take up to 5 days to select your favourite.

Each sample is manufactured from high-quality silver and topped off with an artificial diamond to give you the complete ‘try before you buy’ experience before you commit to purchasing.

The choice of an engagement or wedding ring is just such an important decision that shouldn’t be rushed and should, above all, be an enjoyable one that you can make with confidence.

Ring sizes are available from H all the way up to S1/2 and you can choose from Rose, White and Yellow Gold and Platinum.  You can take your pick of the important ‘3Cs’ when selecting your diamonds (Carat, Clarity and Colour) and there are different band widths too, as well as plenty of different stone shapes to choose from.

The whole process is incredibly well thought through and set up to make choosing your ring as simple as possible.

I was sent one of their lovely sample rings to try. It’s a sample of one of their 4 Prong Setting Asscher Shape 2 Raw Halo Diamond Engagement Rings.

Made from Silver and Cubic Zirconia, this particular design strikes just the right balance between subtle and ‘bling’ for me.  It’s a striking design which is definitely noticeable!  Obviously, I will be suggesting to the Husband that the full diamond upgrade would be just the thing for Christmas!

Back To School Goodies For Your Pre-Schooler From Smiggle

The new school term is on the horizon and little ones may be envying their big brothers’ and sisters’ backpacks and lunchboxes.  No need.  Smiggle have a lovely back to school range of backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles and pencil cases just right for little ones.  Read on because I have a Smiggle Skip Teeny Tiny Backpack, lunch box and water bottle in Aqua to give away to one lucky winner.

We love the bright Smiggle colours and patterns and the fact that their stationery and bags are solidly made and with a great deal of thought to make them as practical and as user-friendly as possible for little ones – and mums and dads.  These are ideal items for first timers heading off to preschool or school. Even though Caitlin and Ieuan are in ‘big school’ now, I still went ‘awww’ when I saw them.

Sturdy, wide straps for security and comfort

First up is the Skip Teeny Tiny Backpack (RRP £20) featuring:-

  • Three zipped compartments – main compartment with double zips
  • Dual drink bottle sleeves
  • Padded adjustable shoulder straps
  • Carry handle
  • Internal slip pocket
  • Internal name label

It’s a decent size too (W 21cm x H 26cm x D 10cm) and has a wipe-clean polyester cover and lining.

Then there’s the Smiggle Skip Teeny Tiny Lunchbox  (RRP £12.50) which would make any little one feel very grown-up.  I remember Caitlin and Ieuan used to love their lunch boxes, even though Ieuan would only accept the finest peanut butter sandwiches.

The lunchbox features

  • BPA free and food grade safe lining
  • Main compartment with double zip
  • External velcro front pocket
  • Adjustable and removable shoulder strap
  • Carry handle
  • Name label

And lastly, I have the Skip Teeny Tiny Strap Drink Bottle (RRP£8.50) which takes 400 ml of liquid and has a flip-top soft-touch spout, ideal for little hands.  There’s a carry handle and the bottle is BPA free.

Of course, there is plenty of back to school goodies for all ages at Smiggle and delivery is free on orders over £50.  Sign up to their newsletter too, for extra discount and special offers.

Do your kids love Smiggle?

Mal Paper Daily Goal Setter Planner: Review

It is said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail and, whilst I must admit to wandering off the path occasionally, throughout my life I have generally been a goal setter, rather than a drifter.  I am also, a huge fan of stationery and, in particular, planners.  There is something almost cathartic about taking your pen (yes pen!) to a brand new planner and writing down your hopes and dreams.  This beautiful Mal Paper Daily Goal-Setter planner is a great place to do just that.

I have to confess that, even today, I find online calendars to be uninspiring and unremittingly dull.  There is truly no romance in the Google Calendar whereas there is in the act of writing.  Even the Husband who works in the field of technology still uses a notebook to record ideas and solutions to tricky coding dilemmas.

There is, though, a definite art to goal setting and the Mal Planner takes you through what is required in its early pages. Whilst the SMART goals method is used and you are asked to identify short, medium and longer-term goals, the approach used is closer to a values-led one – by which I mean it’s not just about getting things done, it’s about finding those goals which resonate with you as a person.

After all, have you ever succeeded at a goal which didn’t truly align with your core beliefs?  Think about it.  I’ll bet you’ve tried.  Perhaps you are even trying now to succeed at something someone else thought you should do.

How many of us started on the wrong career track to please a parent?  How many of us kowtowed to tradition because “that’s the way it’s always been done”?

Whether you’re studying something you hate, reading something that bores you witless or are holidaying in a place which is the death of joy to you then I highly recommend you start by discovering your values – what matters most to you- and then setting a goal.

If there was one amendment I would make to the Mal Planner, it would be to add some pages to work on identifying your values.

I am also sure that you have read about the power of gratitude – especially if you are a fan of the Law of Attraction or, another current hot topic, manifestation.  The Mal Daily Goal-Setter planner incorporates not only 3 things to be grateful for every day but also has space for your affirmations.

Many Law of Attraction (LOA) fans are advocates of the saying that “You’ll See It When You Believe It” which is the reverse of what I heard for years as a child.  Whether you think all this is a little ‘woo-woo’ or not, there is logic in the idea that to become someone new we must look forward, not backwards.

In the front pages of this planner you’ll find a suggested monthly and weekly routine, as well as a morning and evening routine which incorporates not only gratitude and affirmations but allows you to rate your day and identify any great things that happened.

This is combined with a solid, practical explanation of goal setting and how to prioritise your tasks using the ABCDE method where A has to be done and E is something that could be done if you have the time.

The weekly and monthly routines are very much about reviewing your progress and acknowledging your successes.

The Daily Goal-Setter planner lasts for 6 months and is undated.  Mine has a beautiful pink faux leather cover with gold lettering and dove grey ribbon page markers. There is a small document holder on the back cover too.  Black and grey planners are also available.

The pages are 100 gsm ivory paper and it is a solid, hardbacked book which will last long after its pages have been filled.  It is reasonably priced at £21.

If you are looking for a planner which will help you to not only declutter your mind but also help you to create goals which align with business and spiritual goals, then this one is worth looking at.  You can find a more in-depth description of how to use the Daily Goal Setting planner here.

The Mal Paper Daily Goal Setting Planner would make a beautiful gift too.

Hotter Shoes AW19 Raven Black Suede Review

I am a long time fan of Hotter Shoes.  In fact, I wear them practically every day.  They are one of the few shoe brands I have ever found truly offering comfort and durability in one shoe.  They are ideal for the school run, long shopping trips and everything in-between and I wouldn’t be without them.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive a pair of Hotter’s lovely leopard print Raven shoes fresh from their new autumn and winter collection, which come in a black, tan and Urban Grey leopard.  Mine are the black/leopard ones. and I can see that they will be an autumn staple.

Hotter Shoes’ Raven is a casual style shoe that combines a soft suede upper with easily adjustable laces and has the comforting Hotter deep padding which cocoons your feet and lets you walk miles without having to worry about blisters – right from the first moment you put them on.  (Who has time to ‘wear shoes in’ these days?)

The sock and lining are all leather and the insole is removable – although why you’d want to I’m not sure.

The sole is made from polyurethane which gives what I like to think of as the Hotter bounce and there are half sizes all the way up to 8.  There is a size 9 and I think an 8.5 is a slight omission but it’s nice to see that there’s an 8.

Most ranges offer an 8 these days, of course, but it wasn’t always so and the styles available used to be frumpy.  Hotter has got this right from the off which is another reason I like them.

Delivery is free over £25 and returns are free if you’re in the UK.  You can also return your shoes to the nearest Hotter store.  There seems to be an increase in retailers who will only pay for returns if products are faulty.  Not on in my book but no such problem here.

Raven retails at £75 and Hotter regularly offers discounts and special deals on its shoes.  I’ve got my eye on Viviene too (another leopard print style with a heel and an ankle strap).  Take a look at the new range.

All Hotter shoes are manufactured here in the UK in their Lancashire factory.  In these dubious BREXIT times, I’m all too happy to support our own industries.

If you want a stylish shoe that is as comfy as a slipper that will even let you walk around London all day without a trip into Boots for a plaster, these are the ones for you.

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