The Most Middle Class Toys This Christmas

Sure, we’ve all seen a hundred gift guides this Christmas. Everyone has an opinion on the best toys you can buy your child (and actually, all my child wants is a Frozen jigsaw and a cape). But, just because it makes me chuckle, here are the most middle class toys you can buy your kid this Christmas.

Middle class toys

1. Cappuccino? Soy latte? Extra hot venti filter coffee? Your child can be a barista with this John Lewis Coffee Machine!

2. This wooden camera might not have as many settings as your DSLR but it’s cute.

3. This wooden sushi set has everything a budding California Roll fan needs. Even soy sauce and wasabi!

4. Mum listens to Radio 2 on her Roberts radio, so little one can listen to CBeebies Radio on this toy knitted retro radio.

5. Want something sweet to go with your decaf skinny cap? Why have biscuits when you can have macarons like these ones from ELC.

6. Just the thing that every child needs, when they’re pretending to go shopping – a Waitrose trolley.

7. Does your child’s dolls house have a toy Aga? If not, I pity the dolls!

8. Help your child get their five a day by juicing and making smoothies with this toy smoothie maker.

I may mock, but who am I kidding, I’d love to see any of these toys in my daughter’s toy box. My name is Alison and I’m a thoroughly middle class mum. I’m off to eat brunch in a posh cafe and read the Sunday papers with my family…

Yay! Santa’s Bringing A Le Toy Van Honey Bee Market

Le Toy Van market

We took the four-year-old to see Father Christmas today. It was just fantastic to see her totally convinced that we were at actual Santa’s house and that she was meeting the man himself. There was a magical quality to the day – the garden centre we took her to has a whole 45 minute experience in the lead-up to meeting Father Christmas, starting with sitting in a ‘train’ to the North Pole, throwing snowballs at naughty penguins in a coconut shy-style game, making your own tree decoration and mixing reindeer food. The four-year-old loved it. Unlike last year, when she was too petrified of this man with a beard to speak to him, today, she bounded up, and when he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, confidently told him “An Anna cape” (the poor man didn’t have a clue what she was on about, so I stepped in to explain… he really should watch Frozen, to become au fait with the little ones’ requests…).

I tried to think back to what it must be like to ACTUALLY believe that Santa is real. I have memories of being aged five or six, trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve but being so excited about Father Christmas flying through the air nearby. And memories of opening the living room door, to find presents on every chair, knowing he had been. It was the most exciting thing ever, wasn’t it?

This year, as well as an Anna cape (FYI I’m going to attempt to make one myself since you don’t appear to be able to buy one on its own) Father Christmas will be bringing the four-year-old an amazing Honey Bee Market by Le Toy Van. I can tell you this, because she doesn’t read my blog.

Le Toy Van is a brand I’ve loved for a few years. After spotting the gorgeous Honey Bake Tea Set on Mother’s Always Right, I treated my daughter to one, when she was two. Their wooden toys are just beautiful and the market is no different. We were sent the market and trays of food to feature here on the blog, and having given it a thorough testing (OK, Mr P and I *might* have pretended we were market traders…) it’s getting a big thumbs up from us.

Honey Bee Farm Market

You’re right, of course, a farmers’ market is probably the most middle-class toy ever. Just add some freshly brewed coffee, The Sunday Times and an organic roast dinner and you’ve got the perfectly clichéd middle-class family Sunday.

But who cares when it’s SO CUTE. Continue reading

Is The Asus Zenfone 5 The Ultimate Selfie Phone?

Alison Perry

2014 has officially been named as the Year Of The Selfie and the most sought-after gift this Christmas is the selfie stick (I wish I was joking…) so it’s fair to say that we’re all loving a bit of selfie action at the moment. Brilliant writer and lovely lady Anna Hart wrote about our obsession with the selfie last week in The Telegraph, concluding that we’ve entered an age of vanity. She’s right of course, and smart phone manufacturers are wise to this.

Enter: Asus and their Zenfone 5 LTE with its special ‘selfie setting’ on the camera.

Just saying that sentence out loud makes you realise how far things have come. We take so many photos of ourselves that a phone now comes with a selfie setting! It’s mind boggling.

We were kindly sent a Zenfone 5 LTE to road test (you may have seen a few #ZentasticXmas tagged photos from me over on Instagram) and as an out and out Apple fan, I was really keen to get my hands on this phone, to see what I thought of it. So first up, the technical stuff about the camera: The A500KL has two built-in cameras (one front facing and one back facing), with the main 8-megapixel PixelMaster camera for professional-looking photos. This camera boasts a backside-illumination (BSI) sensor and wide-aperture f/2.0, 5-element lens with exclusive ASUS PixelMaster technology to capture images that are on par with most standalone digital cameras; while the 2-megapixel front camera comes with an f/2.8 lens. PixelMaster technology improves camera performance and comes with features like Selfie and Low-light modes.

asus-zenfone5-review

So what did I think?

Continue reading

5 Signs You’re Getting Old At Christmas

white-company-cashmere-socks

1. You’re genuinely excited at the prospect of getting new socks from Santa. And if they happen to be cashmere bed socks from The White Company? Even better. (Well done, Santa, you clever man)

2. You consider a visit to the local garden centre a fun day out with the kids. Those areas where they sell Christmas lights? Just as much fun as paying to visit Santa’s grotto. And it’s free! Bonus points if the garden centre has real reindeer and nice homeware gifts you can buy for relatives.

3. The Michael Bublé Christmas album is on repeat in your house. Well, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

4. You hear yourself saying this sentence to your other half: “Hey honey, instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year, why don’t we buy ourselves a  National Trust family membership?” I’m not even kidding, this is what we’re doing this year. 2015 is going to be the year of National Trust days out (and lots of tea and cake in the tearooms, obvs.)

5. You check the opening time of your local supermarket on Christmas Eve (7am, FYI) with the plan to get there ten minutes earlier, to beat the rush, for your Christmas turkey and trimmings.

It’s official. I’m getting old. Ah well, I’ll console myself with a Baileys in front of the fire (ooh have you seen there’s a new chocolate version?)…

My Top Tips On Family Budgeting

Upcycling Bekvam spice racks

With a new study highlighting the rise of ‘generation pause’ – the 20 and 30 somethings who are choosing to delay life events like getting married or buying a house due to financial concerns – it’s clear that it’s important to budget from an early age. I’ll admit, I was fairly useless with money until I met Mr P. I racked up credit card debt and student loans, having to rely on my parents to bail me out. But during my 20s, I learned to be more sensible with money.

TSB, who have a handy mortgage calculator on their site, have asked me to share my family budgeting tips with everyone. So here goes…

1. Upcycle furniture or buy cheaper bits that you can transform. I’m a huge fan of an IKEA hack. Inspired by Gill from A Baby On Board, I bought these Bekvam spice racks for £3 each (see pic at top), asked Mr P nicely to paint them white, and put washi tape on them, to turn them into book shelves for the four-year-old’s bedroom.

2. Plan meals. We used to be so bad at just deciding what to eat for tea that day, and popping to the shop to buy the food in. It saves money (and time) now that we plan our meals each week, and buy veg that will do us for a couple of days.

3. Shop around. We love popping to Waitrose for treats, as much as the next person, but we also shop around, depending on supermarket offers (tip: Tesco has my fave wine Villa Maria on offer this week and Co-op has a great prosecco for £6.99) and we shop in Lidl for our basics. Continue reading