Here you will find reviews of products, services and days out. Look out for some fab competitions and giveaways too!

To catch up on tales from the Button household, click HERE

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Free Range duvet cover from Vertbaudet

Vertbaudet recently sent us this absolutely gorgeous duvet cover from their range.

We own a few chickens which my girls absolutely adore (goodness knows why) and so to receive a pretty pink duvet cover with chickens on the front (and one wearing wellies what's more), went down very very well.  It is a gorgeous design, and is of very good quality.

You can also purchase a fitted sheet and matching pillow case to go with it.

It costs £29.00 but currently has 20% off!

Personalised t-shirts

Betty was recenlty asked if she would like to take part in a design your own t shirt review, at which she jumped at the chance.

This is something we have never really done before, so I was intrigued to see how it turned out.

Betty of course drew a rainbow (she draws nothing else at the moment) and we promptly emailed the image off, for them to work their 'magic' as Betty called it.

The service was unbelievably fast, as the t-shirt was with us just a couple of days later.  And there it was, Betty's drawing emblazoned onto a Fruit of the Loom t-shirt - she was absolutely thrilled!

If you are interested in personalised t shirts from clothes 2 order  do go and check out their website - you can choose from different t-shirt designs and material weight, and it is a lot of fun.  Their prices look very competitive too!

Air Reach Upright by Vax

The latest vacuum cleaner I have had the pleasure of reviewing (and yes it is a pleasure to me) is the Vax Air Reach.  You can tell just by looking at it that it is the business.

It is not a full capacity vacuum cleaner, but is absolutely perfect for use in the bedrooms and the upstairs landing - as it can be used on both carpets and hard floors.

The suction is absolutely amazing - I swear it sucks up dust and fluff before it even reaches it - it just disappears before your eyes.  Because of its power, I did get into a couple of scrapes with it in the beginning, where it sucked up the fringe of one of my rugs, and tried to the take the whole rug with it.  But it was easily sorted, by pressing the reset button, away to go again, avoiding the rugs.

It is incredibly easy to use, and empty out, it doesn't take up much space, and I am pleased I don't have to lug the other one up the stairs whenever I need to vacuum up the kids biscuit crumbs from their bedroom floor.

The original price of this upright was £259.99, but I now see that it is on offer at £149.99 - which is over £100 off!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Summer fun with ELC!

It really did feel like Summer a few weeks ago, and the kids spent hours in the garden making their very own 'adventure playground'.  There were tears, a bit of squabbling, but mainly a lot of fun.  Their adventure playground which originally consisted of a swing, a home-made high-jump and a sandpit was hugely helped along by some fabulous garden toys from ELC.

The most successful item was definitely the basket ball set, and for just £12.00 I think this is amazing value for money.  It is a very simple idea but very very effective.  It is colourful, it folds up neatly, and you can set it up just about anywhere.  The ball is soft, causing minimal damage should it be thrown off target.  I have been taking it everywhere we go; pub gardens, grandparents etc.  It also comes with a sports bib - although I do think two should be supplied to stop the fighting over it (or is it just my kids that fight over EVERYTHING?)

Another really fun game is the Fish and Count which again at just £12 is great value for money.  The set is made from a foam material and you place the fish with hooks on in a paddling pool and use the fishing rods to catch the right coloured fish - it is actually harder than it looks, so the kids did not get bored.  Again a simple idea but very effective!  I thought it was great because normally when the paddling pool comes out and they have dumped everything they can possibly find into it they get bored, so this provided much needed entertainment.  We just need the Winter weather to go away and they can have another go!

When my girls weren't fishing or playing basket pool they were 'chilling out' with a BBQ - ELC have just brought out a gorgeous wooden BBQ set, which I love!  We are BBQ mad in this house, so this was prefect for them to play with.  It comes with a spit that can be turned and 11 accessories including a spatula, and wooden vegetables and meats to BBQ.  The set costs £25.00.  The gourmet pitta set, which comprises felt pitta with lots of healthy fillings, has also been a big hit, particularly with my two year old who will only eat pitta anyway.

Having just been on ELC's website, I have noticed that they are doing a three for two offer on all sports and garden toys - go and check out their range, there's loads on there!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Help for the body and mind in times of stress

There are an overwhelming number of factors that contribute to the build-up of stress. Change is ever present in our lives and, whilst change is often rewarding, it is also demanding of precious emotional and physical resources. Of course, we can now talk about such things, which is a bonus. Acknowledging a situation goes a great way towards coping with it. Stress, after all, is not necessarily a bad thing. Challenges can present us with opportunities to develop and move on. The idea is not to rid our lives of any stimulus, but to improve ways of dealing with it, learning to support our coping mechanisms, both physical and emotional.

There are many ways in which you can help relieve any stress you find yourself under. One of these is exercise. This will not only increase your lung capacity, it will also increase levels of ‘happy chemicals’ in your body. It does not need to involve lengthy training sessions in the gym either. A walk round the block in your lunch break for example, taking the dog to the park, can make all the difference to how you are feeling. Breathe deeply as you go to stimulate the circulatory system and keep oxygen flowing to the brain to help it work well. It will give you the time needed to mull things over and perhaps see things in a different light. Alternatively, find out what classes are available at your local leisure centre. You’ll not only reap the benefits of exercise, you’ll make new friends too.

When life is getting you down, don’t sit and mope on your own. Get in touch with a friend or friends who you know will be able to lift your spirits. Avoid those who are just going to make you even more miserable. It can often help to discuss a problem with someone you trust. They may have experienced the same problem and can offer advice on how they dealt with it.

It’s a fact that when we are stressed, our immune system is weakened and we are more likely to fall prey to lurking germs. With this in mind, it may be beneficial to take a tincture of echinacea in times of strain to help boost the immune system.

Another way to escape from the pressures of a busy lifestyle is simply ‘to be in the here and now’. If you want the ultimate in relaxation and energised living, understanding and attuning yourself to others and the world you live in, just be where you are. It does not require any experience, is free and can be done every day with just a little practice. It is merely being aware of what is going on around you, enjoying living in the moment. As you walk, try to slow down your breathing as well as your thoughts. Breathing exercises are very steadying and can help reduce the release of inflammatory and pain-causing chemicals. Concentrate on what is going on all around you and on the sounds you can hear. This will help to bring you back to the present moment and you will find that gradually there is a shift. You will become more relaxed, your thoughts will seem to slow down and you will experience a sense of peace and wellbeing.

If you find that the pressures of a busy lifestyle are beginning to catch up on you, a herbal remedy for stress relief may help increase your ability to cope. Look out for a tincture containing the natural based extracts of valerian and hops for best effect.

This is a sponsored post, written by Alison Cavog for A Vogel

How to make a beautiful button bouquet card

A children’s art and craft idea which is as bright as a button

All good arts and crafts enthusiasts know that buttons aren’t just things which you sew on coats and cardigans. In the right hands – and with a bit of imagination and a dash of glue – they can be used to make great art! As buttons come in different colours and sizes, it is a good idea to show off their variety by using them to adorn a home-made button bouquet greetings card – these are ideal for special occasions like weddings and birthdays.

For this exercise you will need the following craft supplies; all of which can be purchased from Baker Ross.  A Buttons value class pack (order number EV224)

White card (E99A)
Coloured card blanks (EK461)
Satin ribbon value pack (EV686)
Giotto colour fibre tip pens (EK642)
Silicone glue (EV901)

Now you’re ready to begin – why not try making a card yourself before letting the children loose on the task?

First, take a coloured blank and place it face-up on the table.

Then cut a slightly smaller piece of white card and glue it to the front. 

Once this is done, take a large button, add a layer of glue to the back and stick it on to the white ‘panel’. Then glue a smaller button on to the top of the large button. Make sure it stays in place! 

Kate (whose hands are pictured in the photos) has chosen to repeat the process and use five buttons; keeping them close together to depict a bouquet of flowers.

Kate advises that it works best if you just stick to round buttons for this design – so resist the urge to pick up a square button.
It’s quite fiddly, tiring work for youngsters but they can take a break to let the glue on the buttons and card dry. This task is now nearing completion – pick up a green Giotto fibre-tip pen and draw on the stems for the three shortest flowers.

A purple Giotto pen is ideal for drawing a bow around the stems. A cute little purple button in the middle of the bow adds a nice finishing touch to the picture. Pick up the scissors and cut a length of bright green ribbon which is long enough to loop around the spine of the card and tie it in an arty bow to finish.

You can either add a handwritten message sticker to the top or leave it blank.

These cards are ideal for special occasions like weddings – events where bouquets are rightly considered very important!

If your finished card looks nothing like the photograph at the start and end of this article then don’t panic! Kate has filmed a step-by-step tutorial to help you out.

This is a sponsored post by James Christie who writes for arts and crafts company Baker Ross. Check out Baker Ross’s fantastic range of Diamond Jubilee Crafts

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Have a real clear out for spring

Spring is here, and it’s time for a big clear out in the home. With summer now approaching we’re all looking at ways of de-cluttering our homes to make room for a fresher year. But with children who scream “don’t sell my old games" and a husband who wants to keep hold of those old football shirts, what can you do?

Well, you’re fighting for the greater good – a pleasant and fresh home. And, ultimately it is something that works for everyone. So it’s a simple case of making them understand that in the current climate a few pounds can go a long way. Whether you’re trimming the energy bills or what you have in the home, there’s money to be made.


There are always going to be cupboards or corners that are full of used items that you no longer want or need anymore. You’ve upgraded many phones in your time, your children have worked their way through hundreds of games and there are homes for them to go to in return for a pretty penny. You can sell games online with musicMagpie and what this involves is scanning the barcode of your item and getting an offer. It’s likely that there will be a box full, and the average user makes £50 and with a freepost system you can’t go wrong. What’s more is that they will take DVDs and CDs too, so get digging.

Car boot sale

When you’re doing your clear out, don’t be throwing anything out. This time of year is car booting season, and you would be silly to miss out on it. While garage sales still occur on some streets, you are often better off going to a field where there is a following that go once a month – especially if you have potential antiques. So, pay out for a stand, fill the car and have a Sunday selling for the family fund!

Check your bills 

Taking a different approach, but once you have cleaned the attic, garage and spare rooms and have got a car boot sale in mind, it’s time to look at your big expenses. Finding the best deals for what you use is imperative to have more money for luxuries. We’re in a new tax year and fuel poverty has reared its ugly head, so face your demons and get your accounts fixed. Do you have more credit cards than you need? Are you paying them all off in a scatter gun approach when you should be focused on the highest interest rate ones first? There are so many ways to trim money off what you spend. Using an online comparison site is great for having a look if you are being overcharged for energy, insurance and home services. Take the time to check your bill and your spring could be a fruitful one!

This is a sponsored post written by Michael Edmondstone of Forward

Is going green right for you?

You’ve seen all the celebrities do it and heard all the news about why it’s important, but it’s only natural to still have questions about what it means to go green and how it will impact your family. Switching to renewable energy is likely to benefit your loved ones and your household budget in many ways, but before you take the leap, it’s important to learn all that you can.

Going green - What are the benefits?

Whether you choose to install a renewable energy system such as solar panels into your home, or simply start using a green electricity supplier, you can break the cycle that often comes with using an energy supplier that relies on fossil fuels to produce power. This includes the ‘Big Six’ suppliers, who have gained a lot of bad press for raising energy prices on consumers when they are most vulnerable. The primary benefit of switching to renewable energy is that you are less likely to experience price hikes. This makes for a greater peace of mind and a more stable household budget.

However, there are greater benefits associated with going green when you consider your own health and the wellbeing of the environment. Burning coal, oil, and gas emits carbon into the atmosphere, which has been proven to cause a great shift in the way our environment works. Carbon has caused such a rapid change that organisations like the Energy Saving Trust supports the UK’s goal of increasing green energy in order to garner 15 per cent of the power it uses from clean sources by 2020. Using renewable energy sources such as wind power and, to a lesser extent, solar power is a way to meet the energy needs of UK residents without further damage to the atmosphere. You can become a part of that by switching to green energy for your household.

Using green energy may also lead to other healthy green habits, such as buying your produce and meats from local suppliers, which cuts down on the carbon emitted during the transportation of foods. This also ensures that you know exactly where your food is coming from and gives you the opportunity to ask the producer if sustainable methods were used to farm it. Other green changes that are good for your family include biking to work and school instead of driving, as well as using natural cleaners free of unhealthy chemicals.

If you’re ready to make the switch, don’t think that you have to invest thousands of pounds in solar equipment or install wind turbines in your back garden. Green energy has become increasingly accessible over the past decade, and you can get on board fairly quickly by making a call to one of the renewable energy companies in your area. You’ll readily find that using green energy doesn’t have to be all that different from the energy that you use now, except for the peace of mind that you’ll get from knowing that your energy is clean and environmentally beneficial. 

This is a sponsored post written by Michael Edmondstone of Forward

Personalise your cards this Easter

Easter is one of the happiest times of the year. If not for the bright spring colours and the chocolate high you’re sure to get from munching on those candy bunnies, then it is special because of the time you get to spend with family. This year, make it even more memorable by sending personalised cards to everyone that you love to be around but probably don’t get to see too often.

How can I personalise my cards this Easter?

If you want to send a special message that’s just as nice to look at as it is to read, think outside of the box this year. You can first try to make your own greeting cards, which is the perfect way to make them unique. Replace plain card stock with recycled newspaper that you have dyed yourself in colourful pinks, blues, and greens. Add natural touches like pressed flowers or ribbon made from plant leaves, and etch your message in high-quality oil paints. If you have ever fancied script writing, now is the time to put it to use.

However, not everyone is gifted with arts and crafts, and this is okay, too. If you can’t find the inspiration, patience, or time to make handmade cards, you can still order personalised greetings from a company like Hallmark. This site has dozens of styles to choose from, whether you’re looking for something funny, sincere, or straightforward. You can even get your cards delivered to each recipient on the same day as you order.

We live in an increasingly digital society, and most greeting card services have acknowledged this shift in communication by offering e-card options, as well. If you frequently communicate with your loved ones via email, e-cards are a great way to surprise them with a touching Easter sentiment, especially since they probably check their email accounts more often than they check the regular mail. And e-cards are perfect for other holidays, as well. You can send anniversaries, well wishes, birthday cards, and graduation congratulations.

If your family is really into Easter, you may not feel like a card alone will be enough to celebrate the holiday. However, greeting cards can give you inspiration for sending even bigger gifts this spring. For example, you can pair your cards with gourmet chocolates in the shape of Easter eggs, or you could send them with gift certificates to your favourite restaurant inside. More creative gift-givers may even want to put together their own “Easter baskets” complete with candy, personal care items like scented hand creams and perfumes, and, of course, a personalised card.

The UK is the number one nation when it comes to sending greeting cards to express how we feel, and that’s no coincidence. Sending a beautiful message this Easter is not only a good way to make others feel special but also a way to get you excited about the new beginnings and the arrival of spring. So follow the trend and make your cards extra special this year!

This is a sponsored post written by Michael Edmondstone of Forward

Monday, 2 April 2012

It's time to get more from your payday!

If your pockets are suffering from the increased prices of everything, from food to energy, it’s time to revamp your budget. But this doesn’t have to mean cutting out expenses if you know how to get the most out of what you’re already paying for. Homeowners get ready, because this is the advice that will change your life -- and your bank account balance.

Starting with your household bills, you could be saving hundreds of pounds by giving a little push back to rising electricity prices. First, call your energy service provider to ask if they have any options that are cheaper than the package that you signed on to. If so, tell them that you want to switch. And if not, here’s your chance to research other companies that could give you what you’re looking for in a service contract.

As you search for a new provider, remember to set up an account for online bill paying or direct debit from your bank account, two features that are likely to get you a discount with your new provider. Doing business online not only ensures that your company will receive payment in time, but also makes communicating with you less expensive for them. For that reason, they are likely to treat you as a preferred customer if you go digital. And remember that the best way to save money on energy in the long run is to sign up for the least expensive of all fixed-rate packages and to get a combined electricity and natural gas tariff.

Heating and lighting is a necessity, but so is telephone service along with Internet access. After doing your research on basic utilities, compare broadband services to see which one will keep you connected for less money. The bundle strategy is usually a winning situation for homeowners looking for discounted Internet service, so try to get a package that includes cable television and phone service, too. And you can usually cut even deeper into prices if you sign on for more than a year at a time.

And just because you’re on a quest to save money doesn’t mean that you should skimp on having fun. If you’re financially responsible, there’s no reason that you should cut out all recreational expenses, as long as you do it the smart way. If you’re gearing up for your yearly holiday, try to purchase your plane tickets as far in advance as possible to take advantage of early bird specials. And if you usually employ the industry connections of a travel agent, now is the perfect time to save £100 or more by doing all the legwork yourself. Researching travel plans could even become an enjoyable pastime that helps you get to know this year’s destination and gets you excited for the trip. Make a game out of getting the best deals for the things that you need, and you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised as well as financially stable. And the next time payday comes around; you’ll be able to put more of that money into your own pocket.

This is a sponsored post written by Michael Edmondstone of Forward

Good hair days make the world a better place

Between waking up early to pack the kids’ lunches and getting yourself off to work on time, you probably think there’s not much time for a luxurious hair routine. But what if your hair becomes dry and brittle? Luckily, there are easy ways to treat your overworked or damaged hair that fit into your hectic schedule and your lifestyle as a mum. If you want to make every day a good hair day, here are the details.

1. Condition. This is the most important action you can take to treat or prevent dry hair because conditioner helps restore each hair molecule by coating it with the protein that it has lost. Conditioning your hair every time you wash is a must, and it is also convenient because it only takes a few minutes to do it while you’re in the shower.

2. Be careful with styling tools. Your hair may look good after an intense blow out, but you could be causing more damage if your tools are too hot. Remember to be gentle with the blow dryer, holding it away from your hair as you brush. Also, you should be using a curling iron or straighteners with 100 per cent ceramic plates, which are actually less damaging to your hair because they emit negative ions when heated. And no matter what styling tool you’re using, never turn it all the way up.

3. Use a heat protectant. The other preventative measure you can take to keep your hair healthy and moisturised is to use a product that protects against heat damage when you style. A formula like John Frieda Full Repair Style Creator Heat-Activated Styling Spray is a great product to use because it works with heat, not against it, to give your hair a lightweight finish without frying your strands. And it is so effective that it even works on chemically treated hair.

4. Sleep on a silk pillowcase. When it comes to drying agents that can make your hair more brittle, cotton is a major culprit. Everything, from cotton hats to the pillowcase that you sleep on every night could be zapping moisture from your hair, so pamper your tresses with a silk or satin pillowcase that allows hair to glide effortlessly across it instead of getting tangled while you sleep.

5. Research styles that work with your natural hair texture. Whether your hair is fine, curly, coarse, or soft, there are tons of creative styles that are easy to achieve that require little to no heat and time in front of the mirror. It is important to give your hair a rest from your usual style so that it has time to recuperate and restore its own moisture, so try out a chic ponytail at the nape of your neck or a retro headband that works will with your ensemble.

With tips like these that are easy to fit into your normal routine, you’ll never see another bad hair day again. And that’s good news for you because as a mum, you can get back to the things that really matter.

This is the sponsored post written by Michael Edmondstone of Forward