Monday, 20 November 2017

Luggwoods Santa Experience Review

We were kindly invited to Luggwoods on Saturday to their press preview of their Santa Experience. Luggwoods is €19 per child and €13.50 per adult. Children under one go free. Hot chocolate included in all children's tickets. Family tickets also available! Photos are extra.. €10 for one and €15 for two. 

Firstly... We loved it. I am just gushing to write every single thing about it down and tell you all everything but let me take a moment and start from the beginning. 

Luggwoods is located 5 mins from The Square shopping centre in Tallaght. Very easy to get to. As soon as we turned into Luggwoods from the main road I gasped... I turned to my husband and said "oh wow.. It's so beautiful" and this is where our experience began. Driving up to the car park there were fairy lights everywhere and immediately I got butterflies. This is the warm feeling I expect from a Santa experience. I had it immediately, and we hadn't even gotten out of the car yet!! 

The first place we went was a cabin where you wait for the train. Covered in fairy lights and totally Christmassy. A beautiful Christmas tree outside! Inside the cabin is an elf doing face painting (amazing to keep excited little ones occupied while you wait for your train) **Note*** Arrive early.. We had 4 little ones with us and had to wait for a few families that were late! (Annoying for the ones there early!!) 

From the very start the staff were all in character and amazing with the kids!!!! An unbelievable elf and lumber jack came to board us onto our train! This elf was amazing.. So interactive, so animated and just perfect for the little world of Christmas our children had now entered... Even the walk to the train is Christmassy.. Fairy lights cover the little trail to the train! 

The train ride was fantastic.. The elf and lumberjack were really enthusiastic and our kids were totally invested in the story and the whole experience. It was so lovely to see their little faces listening to every word and interacting! The train ride goes through a forest.. Where we got to see a fairy village... The grinch (we even sang his favourite song!) and the most breath taking view of Dublin!! 

We went in the evening time and the view of Dublin literally took my breath away! It's a must see! This photo doesn't even do it justice!!

The cabin...
Getting off the train we were greeted by more amazing elves. And by one of my favourites of the day Mrs.Claus... EXACTLY what a Mrs Claus should be. Warm, inviting, exciting and most importantly amazing with the kids. Noa (3) was hanging on her every word. She was absolutely fantastic and a credit to luggwoods. We entered her living room and she told us all about the man himself and even gave him a call. 

The wait before Santa again is cleverly filled with bits to keep the kids occupied. A real life elf on the shelf. A sleigh to have your picture taken on. An area for the elves to help you write your Santa letter or a snack and tea, coffee and hot chocolates!

Santa
One of my other favourites of the day was the most amazing Santa... Now I know that for my little ones they just see Santa's helpers. Santa is very busy in the North Pole so we see his helpers when we visit and they report back! But if I didn't know any better I would have thought this was the real Santa. He was picture perfect, real beard, glasses just fantastic! He was so patient with my kids and listened to every word. Noa was crying in our picture and he said to me it was no problem we would try till we got a picture I wanted! (I actually told him it was fine because I secretly love the crying pictures!!) 

Again, after the Santa visit while waiting for everyone else (from your train) sees Santa there is another area with an elf disco, a colouring and chalk board area, a place to print your pictures and a ball pit for the smaller ones! And again another opportunity for a snack or beverage.

Luggwoods have used every single minute of the experience and made it magical. Even parts where there is a little wait (to see Santa or after etc) and made it part of the experience. The kids don't get one second to be bored. For the full hour and a half the kids were engaged and enjoying literally every minute. 

Is it weird that I am already looking forward to returning next year for our Santa visit??! 

For our family it would have been €78.50, Children under one go free so that's for two adults and 3 children! Milla is 5 weeks!!

€78.50-was is worth it?
Yes Yes Yes!! Loved every minute! Worth every cent! 
If you visit one Santa Experience this year Luggwoods should be it!

We were kindly invited to a press preview in Luggwoods free of charge. But as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Santa's Cove at Liffey Valley

Last Friday, the kids and I were kindly invited to check out Santa's Cove (Pirates Cove) in Liffey Valley shopping centre. Christmas is my favourite time of the year. No question. So I was thrilled to go and excited to take the children to see Santa. Santa's Cove is €12.50 per adult (adults go free at non peak times) €25 per child, Little ones under 12 months are free. Your Santa photo is included.

As you all know Milla is 5 weeks old. So I was sure to book the earliest slot available before hand 7.15pm! I also spent about 15mins filling out a form with all the kids details, likes and dislikes. Their hobbies, teachers names etc.. I was happy to fill this all out because I knew the kids would absolutely love this personal touch. Two things that ended up being a complete waste of time.

Patting myself on the back (4 kids in tow) I arrived at 6.45pm.... But I was told they were running late and wouldn't be open until 7.15. Not a big deal I thought as I had my time slot booked already so I wasn't too bothered. It was their first night so I know there is bound to be a teething problem or two! 

At 7.15 we all went in to pirates cove.. I say pirates cove because there was no difference at this point between pirates cove and Santa's cove. There was no Christmas decorations anywhere nor was there any Christmas warm feeling. Actually it was the complete opposite- it was freezing, I actually had to put the kids coats back on in there. 
They had a play on the bouncy castles which they loved.... But the music was blaring and it was hard for any of them to hear me which was stressful! 

Then it came time to see Santa and I was more than ready to leave the room and hear myself think again! At this point I realised all the slots were forgotten about and it was a free for all. There was a massive que to go into the experience and there's me with 3 kids 3 and under including a 5 week old baby, about to wait an hour in a freezing que. I ended up going up to one of the organisers and explaining I had booked the earliest slot and had a newborn with me. She let me skip the que and I was very grateful. To be honest if she hadn't, I would have just left. 

The experience 
Firstly there is a ball pit and a slide to go through to enter the experience. There was a few male elves at the beginning but none of which encouraged the kids where to go or said a word to them actually. 

Next was a ride on Santa's sleigh... A very friendly elf helped us on. But Noa (3) had no idea what we were on or why? It would have been nice for there to be a little story from the elf about the sleigh and what they're about to experience but it was a bit flat. 

Next we went into a room and the kids made reindeer food got Christmas Eve. The kids really enjoyed this part... The elves were great with them and the loved to hear the story. I've heard from friends these elves lost their mojo by the end so bear in mind we were first in... The boxes were awful that the food is kept in and noas spilled everywhere! 

Next they got to make decorations which again they loved... This male elf was amazing with the kids... Didn't rush them at all! 

Next was a stop for hot chocolate and mince pies with a woman I can only assume was Mrs.Claus because she didn't say much and didn't interact at all with the kids. She actually looked quite grumpy in my opinion. Bear in mind again, we were one of the first in!! 

The next two bits were the most disappointing bits for me...
The naught or nice machine.
I got this... I like the concept but the machines were extremely loud and way too long. I think the naughty or nice "deliberation" needs to be cut in half. And most disappointing was they all got a "nice certificate" but there names weren't on it?!! The name part was blank!

Next was the last stop... Santa.. 
Our Santa had a real beard which I think is extremely important. But for me he wasn't warm or welcoming and the whole form I spent 15 mins filling out the night before was no where to be seen. I had to prompt Santa with everything. The picture was very rushed and to be honest I felt anxious leaving. When the picture was printed it looked like it had been taken on a phone and not one of my kids were near Santa. We hadn't been helped or given a second to position the kids for a lovely pic. For me the picture is always my highlight!

For me the experience wasn't very warm. It wasn't very Christmassy and none of the staff were very enthusiastic. Most of the elves were great but for me the most important is Mrs Claus and Santa. And both were very flat in my opinion.

Is it worth the €125 it would have cost for my family of 6.
No way!

€125 is a lot of money for my family. It is money I want to spend on an experience that will stay in my kids memory's for years. One that my kids will say "remember we went to..." An experience you leave feel warm and happy and for me this isn't Santa's Cove. Unfortunately I left Santa's cove feeling stressed and cold.
It seems to me the organisers have put in the work and gotten all the big bits... But have forgotten it's all the little bits that make it magical! 

We were kindly invited to a press preview of Santa’s Cove in Liffey Valley free of charge. But as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Babymoon at Farnham Estate

Fourth baby and first time to have a baby moon. And let me tell you I was seriously missing out! My husband and I had the pleasure of staying in Farnham Estate & Spa last month and I had the pleasure of experiencing the most amazing facial in their gorgeous Spa. Farnham is stunning to stay over night, but I also think if that wasn’t possible it is perfect to go for the day have some afternoon tea, pregnancy treatments, a swim and a gorgeous dinner! Farnham offers so much more than just a night away! It would also be a fantastic venue for a baby shower!





Our Stay..
Only 90 mins from Dublin, Farnham was very handy to get to. Its beautiful grounds immediately add an essence of calm. The grounds are beautiful and although we didn’t get a chance I’m sure to walk around on one of their trails would be really enjoyable. Initially when we drove in I wondered why the hotel was so far from the actual entrance, then it clicked. The views!! The view from the hotel lobby and the room we stayed in was just picturesque. They are stunning! It made me feel so relaxed and it makes the experience feel so private also. We had a gorgeous 3 course meal in the restaurant. If you are booking the restaurant I would highly recommend to book a table beside the huge windows and enjoy your relaxing meal beside a stunning view! There was a variety of options on each course to suit any palate. (Or the unpredictable cravings of an nine month pregnant woman!) The food came quickly, it was hot and really tasty! The deserts were huge!! (Did I mention Im pregnant?!)

Our Room- Neil and I had the pleasure of staying in the Deer Park Suite. When we first walked in we couldn’t believe it. It is fab!! Two huge windows open the room up to those stunning views and in the room is a huge four-poster bed. Arm chairs and a TV and a nespresso machine (fantastic little extra in my opinion) and then the best bit.. a HUGE bathroom. Again, two huge windows letting relaxation flood in. A bath in the middle of the room with a view directly out the window. A double sink and a huge double shower. Such a luxury and so perfect for a very deserving mum to be!!

Pregnancy Espa Facial- On my last three pregnancies I never had the opportunity or the finances for a pregnancy treatment. Or so I thought! I also always thought with not being able to lie directly on my back or front I felt the therapist would be limited in what they could do. Again, wrong!
I was booked in for an hour long facial and head massage with Espa products in the Spa. I arrived a little early to fill out my form, a little about my health and preferences re massage etc. I was then lead to a quiet and calm corridor and lead to the changing rooms. Clean, quiet and a locker provided you need a euro for the locker as members of the gym also use the changing rooms so don’t forget that!! Bernie, my therapist then showed me to my room. As I mentioned, not having a pregnancy treatment before I didn’t know what to expect. Bernie was really amazing she explained everything to me- what she would do, what I should wear and how I should position myself on the bed. She let me try and smell all the products she would be using on my face and let me choose which ones I preferred. For me this was unbelievable, being pregnant some smells are just not very appealing to me so I really appreciated this little extra. Bernie also asked me loads about my skin and I really felt she got a good understanding about what way my skin has been behaving through this pregnancy. It made me feel very relaxed and calm before the facial had even begun! The bed when I lay on it was warm which was perfect and with the soothing music playing in the back round I was already in heaven. The facial and head massage itself was just heaven. So relaxing and my skin reacted so well to all the products Bernie had used. Shows just how much she had really listened when I told her about my skin. I cannot recommend Bernie enough, I had ticked medium pressure on my form and she was perfect. She made me feel so relaxed and so comfortable that I didn’t want it to end! Afterwards she lead me to a small relaxation room and a glass of water. I was floating.

I then met up with Neil for a swim in the beautiful pool. Surrounded by stunning views the pool is incredible. They also have an infinity pool and I have say it is breath taking! I really felt like a pinch me moment relaxing in the infinity pool. It is nothing like I have ever been in before.
 

I had always thought through my previous pregnancies and this one that pregnancy treatments didnt have much to offer. And they weren’t worth the money. I can honestly say I was so wrong. A pregnancy treatment and babymoon is essential for any mum to be. Even if you were to put away a little bit each week from the beginning of your pregnancy and cash it in at the end when you have all the aches and pains and really need it! I would advise any expectant mum to choose Farnaham for your babymoon and if you do, I highly recommend getting a pregnancy treatment from the talented Bernie, you can thank me later!

To discover what it is that you will take away from Farnham Estate, packages begin from €159 per room midweek bed and breakfast.


For further details and to book treatments, consultations and packages in the Health Spa please contact the spa on 049 437 7700 or email healthspa@farnhamestate.com.

Visit www.farnhamestate.com for further information on special offers.



Thursday, 14 September 2017

Celebrate your little ones birthday with Netflix


With September being the most popular month for Birthdays around the world, Netflix has introduced a great Birthday hack to help parents throw a special birthday party for their little ones. 

Today, for the first time ever, Netflix released 15 Birthdays On-Demand
where characters from LEGO Ninjago, Luna Petunia, Beat Bugs and more help make birthday celebrations a piece of cake.

With this new hack, parents can simply press play and kids’ favourite characters will sing them a special birthday greeting - made just for them (or so they’ll think). Netflix is taking the celebrations to the next level - no cake baking all-nighter required - by letting kids celebrate with Trollhunters or Pok─Śmon, anytime, anywhere. Launching in the world’s most common birth month of September, Netflix Birthdays On-Demand gives parents an easier way to make their kids birthdays special.

If you’ve been sweating about party planning, you’re not alone. Two-thirds of parents (67%) globally agree that birthday planning is stressful. But I think this is a lovely touch to make your little ones birthday just that little bit more special!

By just searching “birthday songs” on Netflix it will unlock a special performance from kids’ favourite characters, including DreamWorks All Hail King Julien, Barbie, Beat Bugs, DreamWorks Dinotrux, Las Leyendas, LEGO Friends, LEGO Ninjago, Luna Petunia, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug* and Cat Noir, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pokemon, Project Mc2, Skylanders Academy, DreamWorks Trollhunters and Word Party.

Have a look at the link below... I'm sure my little ones will LOVE it!!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Pre-school Ready

As a mum of 3 (and one on the way) I strive to make things as uncomplicated as possible. Things going to plan and as smoothly as possible is a daily goal in our house! This year preparing our 3 year old for Montessori was our goal! 

Name Tags
Lets face it, kids lose things! Everything! So, my best approach is to be as prepared for the inevitable as possible! Label everything. I found bright, fun and affordable labels from MyNameTag.ie and they make everything so convenient! My daughter’s name is on everything and I also added my number. She loves them as they are her favourite colour and also a character she loves! They do stickers for lunchboxes, bags, water bottles etc. They also do iron on labels for their clothes, slippers and even for comfort toys/blankets if they decide to bring them along too!

Personalised Bag
Another amazing company I came across was JustaThought.ie, a company that do personalised small school bags. They stich your little ones name onto it, making it very special (and convenient) for anyone starting pre school or School!Not to mention all of the patterns are absolutely adorable!


Practice
We spent a lot of time practising opening and closing bags, lunch boxes and water bottles. We also practiced taking on and off coats and shoes. And probably most important we practised her going to the toilet on her own and washing her hands.
All things that seem so simple to a child a little older or to us, but could be very daunting when they start pre school for the very first time!

Role Play
One thing our little one loved to do was Role Play. She would play the teacher and I would be the students or visa versa. It really got her an understanding of what it would be like in pre school and how exactly the dynamic would be!

Night Before Preparation 
Lastly, We got her very involved in preparing everything with us the night before. Her lunch, lunchbox, clothes, shoes, coat and even down to which hair clip she would wear. For her, it made the next morning very exciting, with her really excited to get ready in everything she had prepared herself the night before!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Teddy Bears Picnic at Rathwood Review

We had the pleasure of hopping on board Rathwoods famous woodland train last week. We went for a teddy bears picnic and a search for baby bear. Rathwood started train journeys 10 years ago and since Kyle was small I have been dying to try it out. And it did not disappoint!
All children got name tags which was lovely so all staff could call them by their names! Making our 2 year old Noa feel very special! They got a teddy at the beginning which they got to stuff themselves and carry on board for their train ride, again such a lovely touch in my opinion!
There are lots of interacting with all carriages of the train throughout which I loved. Songs and different things for the kids to see and shout which was lots of fun. 

We picked Mommy, Daddy and baby bear up on the way.. And they even hopped on board! We stopped off an fed the ducks and all children got some bread to do so which was lovely! And then at the end when everyone got off the children got a little picnic which had a drink an apple and a cookie. Both our kids were thrilled with this! They had picnic blankets for everyone to sit on but unfortunately not enough for us..and about 4 other families! The grass we sat on was a little damp which I found a little disappointing, I think it would be worth Rathwoods while to invest in a few more picnic blankets and have enough for every family on board! 

The kids all got a chance to have a picture with the teddy bears which Noa loved.. Kyle 7 was not as keen! I think over all Noa 2 1/2 loved every minute me for Kyle he was just a little old but he really did enjoy his day! 
The kids got vouchers for a free ice cream so we headed to the cafe and the fantastic playground the have right beside it! 

In my opinion the price for the food does not match the quality. All that was available for the kids was frozen/fried options. I would have loved to see some fresh sandwhiches and fruit for the kids.. I thought the food for the adults was a little expensive too so my advice would be to bring a picnic and around the back of rathwood are beautiful walks and lots of picnic areas! It is advertised to be a 60 min experience which even after pics with the bears etc only lasted 50 mins... I would love another lap or a little longer route on the train. For the 1 hour and 30 min drive from Dublin the whole train ride was over very quickly. BUT both my kids really enjoyed the day! What a lovely day to bring grandparents along to too? There is a calm feel about rathwood and I know my MIL and FIL would love it and also a look in Rathwoods stunning garden centre!! 

Tickets are €7 per child and €4 per adult which in my opinion is totally worth it! And we really look forward to going back! For more trains, times and info check out their website.

We received our tickets complimentary in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Fathers Day Sorted with Lidl

Fathers Day is Sunday 18th of June. But don't panic, Lidl have you covered. If it is a gift you're searching for or a meal you can spoil any man in your life with look no further this year than Lidl!

With the beard trend still in full swing for our men, I am delighted to see lidl stocking this Silver Crest beard trimmer for just €11.99 perfect for Neil! It is also a hair trimmer so perfect for any man in your life! 
My fav item this year is Lidls luxury item a C secure card holder. For just €24.99 it is a perfect little accessory this Father's Day.
Neil will absolutely love this- a secure place to keep all his cards together and safe. 

I always love to add a small fun present from the kids and this year I have emoji gold balls- which he prob won't use for another 3 years!! But for €4.99 it's a fun present. And something the kids will like to give as they are colourful and they love the faces on them! 
Lastly I have a little fragrance for Neil also from Lidl. These impressive fragrances are just €4.99 and if the man in your life goes through aftershave as fast as my husband this is a no brainer!! They come in three different fragrances- one for every taste! 

If gifts are not your thing and your prefer to get to your mans heart through his stomach. Or you have a man in your life that is impossible to buy for why not cook him something amazing this Fathers Day?

Give your dad the gift of a satisfied tummy this Father’s Day by preparing a delicious meal for you and your family to enjoy.  

From tasty loaded nachos to pork burgers, each of these recipes is quick and easy to make and uses fresh and delicious produce, guaranteed to invigorate taste buds!

Ingredients available in Lidl’s 150 stores across Ireland. 

 

Tasty Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

Serves 4

Ideal for serving while your dad’s favourite team are playing or as a yummy starter, these tasty loaded nachos with homemade guacamole are sure to go down a treat in your household this Father’s Day!

Ingredients:

• 1 tin of Freshona Kidney Beans, drained
• 1 clove of Garlic, peeled & crushed
• ½ tbsp Primadonna Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 bag of Simply Salted Tortilla Chips
• tbsp Kania Cumin Seeds
• 200g Rathdaragh Medium Mature White Cheddar 
• 2 Avocados, peeled & destoned
• Juice of half a Lime
• Half a Red Onion, peeled & thinly sliced
• Large handful of fresh Coriander
• 1 small Red Chilli, sliced
• tbsps Coolree Creamery Sour Cream
• tbsps Snaktastic Hot Salsa
• Pinch of Kania Salt & Black Pepper

 

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the kidney beans. Add one clove of garlic, season, and cook for 5 minutes over a low heat. 

 

2. Tip the tortilla chips into a large casserole dish. Grate the cheese over the tortilla chips and melt under the grill. 

 

3. To make the guacamole, mash the avocados & add the lime juice, onion, chilli & most of the coriander and stir to combine. 

 

4. Top the tortillas with the guacamole, warm kidney beans, sour cream, salsa and more coriander before serving.

 

 

Turkey Burgers with Feta & Rocket Salad

Serves: 4

These fantastic pork burgers would be a deliciously unique choice for your Father’s Day meal – simply serve with either regular or sweet potato fries & tuck in!

Ingredients: 

• pkt of Bally Manor Turkey Breast Mince
• 4 slices of Glensallagh Smoked Back Bacon
• pkt of Eridanous Greek Feta, crumbled
• 1 tsp of chopped Parsley
• 1 tsp of chopped Thyme
• 1 Connell Farm Egg, beaten
• 50g of Connell Bakery Breadcrumbs
• 4 Connell Bakery Burger Buns 
• Juice of half a Lemon
• ½ tbsp. Deluxe Irish Rapeseed Oil
• pkt of Meadow Fresh Rocket
• tbsp Deluxe Irish Country Tomato Relish
• Pinch of Kania Salt & Pepper

 

Method:

1. Preheat your grill or barbecue to its hottest setting. To make the burgers, mix the pork mince with the parsley, thyme, egg and breadcrumbs and season. Using clean hands, mould the mixture into 4 burgers, cover with cling film and place in your fridge for 15 minutes to set.

 

2. Grill the bacon slices until golden and crisp then set aside.

 

3. Grill the burgers for 10 minutes on each side, or until completely cooked through. When cooked add the feta and bacon and grill for one minute.

 

4. Mix the rocket with the lemon juice. Toast the buns and transfer the burgers onto them, adding the salad before serving.

 

Father’s Day Meal Deal:

If cooking isn’t your forte, Lidl are also offering a Father’s Day Meal Deal for just €10 so you can treat your dad to a delicious feast. The Meal Deal includes;

Main:

Sirloin Steak 400g

 

Sides: Take 2 Sides

Butter Roast Potatoes

Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Desserts: Choose 1 item 

Banoffee Pie or Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake