Last Minute Back To School Ideas

Back to School time is upon us once more and the last minute purchase scramble is in full swing. Here I’m sharing some fab options if you’re yet to finish shopping for your littles and are looking for some inspiration.

Smiggle Says Silicone Roll Bottle £13.50 

This awesome Smiggle drinks bottle can be rolled up to take anywhere, great for lunchbags with a fold down spout, squeezy body and a handy caribiner clip to attach it to their bag. The silicone carry strap can be used to hold the rolled up bottle in place.

Smiggle Chaos Twin Zip Pencil Case £10

Rectangular soft block pencil case perfectly sized for holding all their stationery items. Features 2 zipped compartments, attractive bright colours the Smiggle logo embroidered to the front.


BRITA fill&go Active Water Bottle in Pink & Lime £12

The BRITA fill&go Active water bottle is an easy way to make sure your child is hydrated at school. At our school they ask us to bring plain water in bottles to be kept in the classroom as well as their drink in their lunchbag, which makes the Brita fill&go ideal as it can be filled up at any tap and the Microdisc filter (which lasts a month) will reduce the levels of impurities and chlorine, leaving you with fresh tasting water. It comes in lime,pink,blue and purple colourways and has a BPA free pull up/push down mouthpiece and a cap. The filters are replaceable and can be purchased separately.


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Pusheen Lunchbox Set from Find Me A Gift £7.99

This stackable bento-style lunch box set features a cute Pusheen cat illustration to the top and inner layer. The set is made up of two individually-lidded layers that clip neatly together meaning you get a small, medium and large compartments, big enough for a yummiest of packed lunches. Even better, included are a spoon and fork.


Madpax Tennis Ball Bag Pink & Green from Room To Grow £29.99 each.

These quirky bags are made to look exactly like giant tennis balls. Double padded straps and a carry handle make it cool for school along with zipped pockets, inside compartments for pens/pencils/ dinner money purse or wallet and space for a lunch box/ drink bottle. Also great for days out or sports kit, particularly great fun if you have a tennis mad child!


Personalised Patchwork Union Jack Swim/PE Bag from Born Gifted £11

This great quality bag has made of bright blue canvas outer and has a waterproof lining  and black drawstring dual cords double up as shoulder straps. It’s roomy too, making this a perfect choice for either PE kit (which is what we will use it for) or swimming kit. It can be personalised with up to 12 letters, great for ensuring their PE kit doesn’t go walkabouts from their peg. In the school holidays it can even be used for days out. I also love that these guys are an independent website. It’s easy to go for all the big chains without seeing the other options out there.


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Term Scarlett Touch Fastening School Shoe from New Brands £39.99 (Left)

Comfortable yet hardwearing and sturdy. Easy to get on and off with the velcro straps and a pretty pattern to the black leather upper. Term shoes come in half sizes which is brilliant if you struggle to get your child the right size.

 Black Boat Shoes from Dobell £29.99 (Right)

These black touch fasten shoes come with a double strap fastening for easy on and off. A padded collar for extra comfort and breathable mesh inside lining. They also have easy to clean uppers and durable soles which make them ideal for running around at school.


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Del Monte Squeezies from Asda RRP 50p

These yummy squeeezy fruit pouches are packed with vitamins and minerals and full of flavour. As every pack counts as one of your five a day there’s no worrying what they’re eating at school and with 100% fruit, no added sugar or artificial ingredients there’s only goodness involved. The caps of the pouches can even be joined together to make fun shapes once they’re done enjoying them. Perfect for fitting in their lunchbox or as a snack after school. They come in Apple/Banana/Strawberry, Apple & Mango and Apple/Strawberry/Blueberry flavours.

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Sheaffer Star Wars Stationery from £10

With a Darth Vader roller ball pen, Yoda pencil case and journal these are the perfect choice for any Star Wars fan big or small. The pencil case is large enough to fit all the essential school items or pens and pencils for after school colouring fun. A brilliant journal for writing about your day, remembering the all important homework or doodling your favourite Star Wars character in. Han Solo for me 😉

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*Some of the items featured were provided free for the purposes of this post however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Celtic Manor Summer Afternoon Tea

When someone messages you asking if you fancy trying their afternoon tea it doesn’t take much to say yes, does it?! So when the Celtic Manor in Newport asked us to try out their Summer Afternoon Tea there was no thinking needed. Tea, cake and much more with great company in Jo from First Time Valley Mam and Sally from Teddy Bears And Cardigans.

We were shown through to the light and airy Olive Tree room, seated and offered a glass of Prosecco, sadly I had to decline as I was driving! The bottle was brought over to and opened at the table to the ladies that were partaking in a glass.

Jorge came and introduced himself and talked us through the choice of blends of tea which he showed us in glass vials. We could have: Black/White/Green/Herbal Infusions as well as English Breakfast and there was also coffee if preferred.

The teas were brought in a proper teapots, not small ones either! We were given one each and the tea was in leaf form so we needed a good old fashioned strainer which we were also provided with.

We were asked before the food was brought out whether there were any allergies/intolerances within the group and we advised that yes, we required 1 to be nut free and 1 to be gluten free. This was not a problem we were told and we chatted amongst ourselves while we waited for the goodness to arrive.

Due to the allergies we were brought separate options for the nut free and gluten free and the ‘normal’ one was enough for the 2 others in the party to share. The savouries were brought first and consisted of:

  • Goats cheese and pesto mousse with pickled shallots
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar blini
  • Baked tomato and chilli tart with minted pea salad
  • Roasted ham and wholegrain mustard finger sandwich
  • Mini brioche bridge roll with egg mayonnaise and baby spinach
  • Hafod cheese and spiced carrot relish finger sandwich

There was only one out of them all I disliked and that was the smoked salmon, I really wanted to like it and I tried it because I wanted to be open to trying everything so I could fully experience it. I disliked it purely on personal taste and no other reason. My favourite was the baked tomato and chilli tart, the chilli gave it a kick, the pea and mint gave it a little sweetness. The cheese and spiced carrot relish was orangey, almost a marmalade taste which I actually really liked.

Once the plates for the savoury were cleared we were offered more tea/coffee asked if all was ok and told the news we all couldn’t wait to hear, the sweets were on there way!

Again they were brought out as separate versions for the nut free, gluten free and standard. They included:

  • Red berry and vanilla shortbread ‘Jammie Dodger’
  • Summer Pudding with citrus creme fraiche
  • Raspberry and chocolate canneloni
  • Strawberry mousse and almond tartlet
  • Freshly baked raisin and vanilla scones with strawberry preserve and clotted cream

The cakes are small and you might be fooled into thinking you can stuff the lot no problem. Think again! I have the worlds worst sweet tooth and I really struggled. I managed a scone with preserve and cream, raspberry and chocolate cannelloni and summer pudding. My favourite was most definitely the scone. We asked for some boxes to take our remaining cakes home though so if you do go, don’t forget to ask for one!

Prices are:

£21.50 per person (Monday – Friday) £29.50 per person (Saturday & Sunday) Children £10.75 per person (Monday – Friday) £14.15 per person (Saturday & Sunday)

Book online here and there are other options and themes for afternoon tea available as shown here.

The only thing I would say was that because we had separate tiers of food, we struggled to fit everything on the table and we could have done with a little more room although this is a minor gripe and didn’t stop the enjoyment of the food itself. Everything was clean and tidy, nothing was too much trouble for the staff and although the room was really busy it wasn’t too noisy. I wouldn’t hesitate to go again or recommend to a friend. It would make a lovely birthday/christmas/just because present. In fact whilst we where there there was a lady having her baby shower.

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*We were invited free of charge to try the afternoon tea for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Back To School Labels With Petit Fernand

One thing that can be a huge headache for Back to School is labelling every individual item to ensure that errant ones are returned to their owner. The office at our school has a huge box of sad looking lost property, unclaimed & unloved even though they probably cost the parents a small fortune when new. This is where Petit Fernand comes in. We were offered the chance to try out some of their clothing/item labels to see what we thought.

Ordering was particularly easy, choose which type of labels you need, customise with colours and a little picture, as you will see my children chose game controller/dinosaur (Little Man) and cupcake/lolly (Little Lady). They are made in France and dispatched within 48 hours with free delivery.

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The labels come in a hand ‘cheque-book’ style which is great as it means they are all together and easily storable if you don’t use them all at once.

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Each page has it’s own heading at the end so you know which labels are which. We had:

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I used the Stick-On Item Labels for their lunchboxes (you’d never guess their favourite colours are green and pink would you?) They could also be used for bags, pencil cases, bottles etc. They are dishwasher/microwave safe and should be allowed 24 hours before use.

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The Stick-On Clothing labels need to be applied directly to the label on the item rather than direct to the fabric as it would not stay put otherwise and you need to allow 24 hours before wearing or washing after applying. Iron-on labels are also available.

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The Stick-On Shoe labels come in 2 parts, the sticker with the name on and then a transparent protective layer that goes on top. These are perfect for P.E day as I have heard of kids going home with the wrong shoes in the wrong size (bless). These stickers mean there’s no confusion. Again they should be allowed 24 hours before wear.

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Inside the back/front cover of the book are instructions on how to apply the labels and some care tips just to make things extra easy. There is also an extra page of fun stickers for the little ones to play with. We shall say no more about me opening the door to a visitor with a coconut stuck to my chest.

Overall I loved these labels, they make life so much easier. As I chose the non-iron ones I literally just had to sit there and stick a few stickers on the items I wanted labelled. It took a matter of minutes once I’d gathered all the items together.

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*we were gifted the labels for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Sugar Free Fairy Cakes With Natvia

With sugar being in the media as a top bad guy most of the time it’s great to know there are choices and that you can have alternatives. Natvia is made from Stevia and Erythritol which makes it a healthy alternative to artificial sweeteners and sugar. We have been sent some Natvia products to try out and see what we thought. We were sent:

Natvia Sweetener 

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Natvia Sweetener Tablets

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Myself and the children decided we’d have a go at making some cakes as they love them and we wanted to see how they would compare. I’m always looking for different snacks I can give them – especially whilst they’ve been off school for the holidays and ask umpteen times a day. But am also aware of high sugar/salt content in most of them.

When I was young I was fascinated watching my Mum make cakes without a recipe and when I asked how she knew she told me always remember 8,8,8. As in, 8 oz of the dry goods that go into the cake. So that’s how I decided to go with this. As Natvia is spoon for spoon the same sweetness as sugar we used the same amount as we normally would but you could play around with the amounts to suit your own taste. You could also exchange the butter for a lighter version if you wanted to make these even less naughty for weight loss. For our fairy cakes we used:

Ingredients (makes 24 small cakes) 

225g (8 oz) butter
225g (8 oz) Natvia
225g (8 oz) self raising flour
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a cake tins with cake cases 
Cream the butter and Natvia together and add the vanilla essence
Add the eggs one at a time
Fold in the flour
My daughter also added a few drops of red food colouring just because she likes to!
Bake for 10-12 mins (our oven is fan assisted) or until golden brown 

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The mix looked exactly as you would expect it to and the cakes looked no different to a cake baked with sugar, so if you wanted to do these without telling the kids in my opinion they wouldn’t know the difference. Because there are no chemicals involved, only natural ingredients it doesn’t have that bitter aftertaste you come to expect from something that isn’t real sugar. My kids said they tasted exactly the same so that’s a win in my eyes!

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Some other great facts about Natvia:

  • 100% naturally sourced
  • 0 calories
  • Zero impact on blood sugar levels
  • Great for cooking and baking
  • Nothing artificial included
  • Tooth friendly
  • Fructose free
  • Suitable for diabetics and vegetarians
  • Can help slimming or weight control as part of a calorie controlled diet
  • Available to buy from Tesco, Ocado and Wholefoods Market

Are you trying to go sugar free? What would you have a go at making?

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*We were sent the items for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Yeti In My Spaghetti Review

Yeti in my Spaghetti from University Games is a great game for kids that we were sent to have some fun with. It comes in a brightly coloured box with the Yeti itself through a plastic covered hole to the front.

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The best part about this game is that there is literally no messing about to set up. There are only 3 parts to it, all made from plastic:

  • Spaghetti Bowl
  • Spaghetti
  • Yeti

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The only other thing in the box is the instructions. No bored whinging while you set up a million pieces and no tiny bits to lose that render the game unplayable if lost.

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All you need to do is criss cross the spaghetti across the top of the bowl and balance the Yeti on top. Then the idea of the game is to take it in  turns to carefully pull away the squiggly spaghetti sticks from the bowl being careful not to let the yeti balancing on top fall into the bowl. The player who makes the yeti fall is the loser!

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My children – aged 8 & 5 really enjoyed playing it, it was good fun to watch them try not to pick that one stick that would make the Yeti drop or see them take a risky move and get away with it! It’s a great game for keeping the kids busy for a while during the holidays, especially on rainy days. It’s not hugely involved game so it doesn’t last ages, which I felt is a good thing as there’s less chance for arguments and sulking!

  • Ages 4+.
  • For 2+ players.
  • RRP: £19.99 available from Amazon

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*We were gifted the game for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*