The Snowman and The Dog Grotto at intu The Trafford Centre

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I recently saw an advert on TV that there was a Snowman and The Snowdog grotto in intu Trafford Centre. When I went online I was gutted that it was pretty much sold out, obviously very popular. We were going to the Trafford Centre last weekend but there was no times available. I double checked the night before to see if any times had become available and I was so please that one time slot was showing green instead of the sold out red. 

I quickly whizzed through the booking form and secured our placed in the grotto. There was an option to book and pay for your photographs and other souvenirs online but I decided to wait until we got there.

The Snowman and The Snowdog is situated in Barton Square amongst lots of festive stalls and a lovely Victorian Carousel.

We arrived 10 minutes earlier than are booking time and joined the queue. Only 45 people can go through at any one time so even though are timed slot had past by the time we got to the front of the queue we had to wait a further 15 minutes to go through as it had reached full capacity. 

We left our buggy by the entrance and when it was our time to go through we were taken into a room that was set out as Billys living room and we were greeted by Billy's Mum. We took a seat on the benches provided and the children were invited to sit on the floor at the front.

Billy's mum told us all about the Snowman and The Snowdog and what had happened on one Christmas Eve when Billy had made them both and at the magic hour 12:00am they both came alive. 
There was a large TV screen and we got to watch snippets of The Snowman and The Snowdog. It really put us in the Christmassy mood both the Snowman and The Snowman and the Snowdog are our favourite christmas movies.

Once we had finished in Billy's living room (approx 15 minutes) we walked past all the snowmen until we cam to a place were we could write a letter to Santa.

We were actually first in the queue to walk through the magical walkway to see Santa but little J kept running back and forth and looking at all the snowman so we were actually last in the end.

Towards the end there is a huge display with the snowman and the snowdog. 

We managed to get little J to sit down for two minutes while big J wrote him out a list so we could post it in the big red postbox.

Once we had done that it was time to see Father Christmas. He was lovely and gave both big and little J a gift. 

The overall experience was lovely and it was well worth the wait and I can see just why it is so popular. We were inside for approx 30-40 minutes in total and it was truly magical.

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The Most Wonderful Time Of the Year

Christmas has always been my favourite time of year but since becoming a mum it is also the busiest time of year too. I haven't been able to blog recently, mainly because most nights and weekends have been jam packed with things to do or places to go. 
I love blogging so I am going to try and make an extra special effort to blog throughout December because it is the most wonderful time of the year.
So the last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy and now that December is finally here, things will just go crazy and also time will go so quick and before we know it the big day will arrive.
Daddy and I looked at the calender at the weekend and realised that the decorations would have to go up. So on Sunday all the decorations came down and the fun started. This is the earliest we have ever put our tree up but it was really the only weekend we could do it.
Little J got up early on Sunday morning so by 6:30am we were all set and raring to go. We started straight away and worked right through lunch and 12 hours later we were still decorating the rooms. We just have so many teddies, ornaments and all other christmassy bits that it takes time to find a home for them all.
We did stop for dinner and its a tradition of ours to order a pizza whilst we decorate the rooms so Dominos was delivered. Yum.
We have a few new additions to our ever growing Christmas decorations this year. First is our Christmas tree. Its a foot bigger than our last and wider to but it fits in our usual tree spot and looks great. We had our old tree for a very long time so after Christmas last year we both decided it was time for a change so our tree took a trip to the local skip. I did have a panic a few weeks ago thinking we might not be able to buy one so close but the stores are packed with trees so no need to panic.

Next was two new additions and they are just amazing, The Snowman and The Snowdog Fibre Optic Canvas. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to buy them. There are lots to choose from but we decided on these two. One is portrait and the other landscape. They look great on my living room wall. 
I have a new Christmas Minnie Mouse Teddy to add to my already large collection of Disney teds. Shes come all the way from Disneyland Paris (which you will be able to read about soon). She is very cute and dressed like a snowball.
I think that is it so far for new Christmas decorations but it is only the 2nd of December so still lots of time to buy more.
So now that the decorations are up I do feel more Christmassy. I love it when the lights are twinkling in the evening and it feels all warm and cosy.
Both little J and big J are very excited already but there are still 23 sleeps to go.
Have you put your decorations up yet?
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The Dinosaur That Pooped

Its pretty obvious from past posts that I am a huge Mcfly/Busted/McBusted fan. As well as amazing singers, song writers and musicians, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter have put pen to paper and created a trio of children's books featuring a Dinosaur that likes to poop. The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas, The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet and The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past all feature rhyming text, colourful illustrations, great fun and yes, a great big pooping dinosaur.

There is quite an age gap between my two monkeys so I decided to read to both of them and yes as you probably guessed it my 12 year old was grinning from ear to ear throughout all three books. Why is it boys just love toilet humour? Little J loved looking at the pictures and sat for the whole story which he hasn't done before.
I have to admit I did find them quite funny myself and particularly liked the pooped a planet story. 
The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas
When Danny asks for too many presents, Father Christmas decides that Danny deserves a huge dinosaur. The Dinosaur is very, very big and very, very hungry and eats up all of Christmas and you guessed it what goes in must come out.
The Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet
Danny and his dinosaur are back and this time they are going on an adventure into space. Unfortunately Danny forgets his very hungry dinosaurs lunchbox. Dinosaur starts to eat everything in sight including the rocket to get them home.
The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past
Danny and his Dinosaur are sent back in time in their third adventure. Dinosaur gets to meet new friends and all is well until there is a huge volcano about to erupt. How will they get back to the future?
Lots of fun for children of all ages and adults too.
To find out more about Danny and his pooping dinosaur check out
Have you read any of the Pooping Dinosaur Books? Which is your favourite?
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Christmas Gift Guide

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Buying presents at Christmas time can be quite difficult and there is nothing worse than rushing round crowded shops looking for ideas of what to buy. Whether you are buying for him, for her, for family, fiends or secret santa it can be a nightmare. I tend to browse the internet for gift ideas and I have added a few ideas below for you to enjoy. Hopefully you might spot something you like or would like to receive which could make your Christmas less stressful.
World Class offer a wide selection of fragrances for both him and her. The Colour Me range are a perfect choice and the Purple is my favourite. An elegant rich modern fruity chypre fragrance. The fresh top notes of bergamot and watermelon are boosted by a subtle floral accord of pretty jasmin, rose and violet notes. The dry down is a tenacious blend of oakmoss, amber and precious patchouli woods.
Personalised Bottles have a large selection of gifts that would be suitable for all. I particular like the Scottish hampers. Using only the finest Scottish foods and gifts, the traditional Scottish gift hampers are a luxury gift for that someone special. As they are based in Scotland, they have access to over 60 Scottish food producers, with a total combined list of over 600 products.

I love the smell of gingerbread. Baylis & Harding's latest collection captures the essence of this fabulous aroma and presents it in a range of festive and fun pampering products.

Caramel Fudge, Creamy Marshmallow Frosting, Hot Chocolate and Sweet Gingerbread scents will create a deliciously festive feeling in your bathroom.

My favourite is the Baylis & Harding Beauticology Cream Marshmallow Frosting 50ml Hand & Body Lotion.
Christmas wouldn't be the same if you didn't have some delicious sweets to snack on while watching a Christmas movie. Hope and Greenwood have some amazing sweeties and this is my favourite. Splendid Stocking Fillers is packed with Sugar Mice, Sweet Bag Ginger & Chili, Sweet Bag Peppermint, Sweet Bag Cranberry & Orange and Curly Candy Canes.

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Win Afternoon Tea Set And Some Delicious Kate's Cakes

 I love a nice cup of tea and some biscuits for dunking but I would be tempted to leave the biscuits for some nice scones and cakes. There is nothing quite like afternoon tea and cakes. We were recently sent some Kate's Cakes to try which were perfect for an afternoon treat.
The individually wrapped cake squares were just the right size to nibble on whilst enjoying a cup of tea. We sampled Chocolate Fudge Cake and Lemon Drizzle Cake. I am such a chocoholic so I thought I would have enjoyed the fudge cake more but both were equally as tasty.
The chocolate fudge cake is topped with chocolate buttercream and curls and the lemon drizzle cake is topped with lemon juice and sugar pearls. The cakes looked bite size when I opened the box but they are very filling and for me the portion size was just right.
I've teamed up with Kate's Cakes to offer my readers the chance to win an afternoon tea set and some delicious Kate's Cakes
All you have to do is answer this Christmas themed question.
Q: What is your favourite part of the Christmas Holidays?
Remember to leave your answer as a blog comment and only readers who leave a comment will be entered into the draw.
Once you have left your comment more ways to get extra entries will open up on the gleam app below.
Kate's Cakes Afternoon Tea Set  
Good Luck
Don't forget to check out my other competitions.
Terms and Conditions
Competition closes on Weds 10th December 2014 at 11:59PM
Entrants must have a valid UK address
Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified
All entrants and entries are checked and verified.
All entrants must follow the mandatory step and answer the question as a blog comment.
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random by the Gleam application.
Mummy2Monkeys will contact the lucky winner within 1 day of the competition closing
The winner must respond within 28 days. If no response a new winner will be chosen.
The prize is a Kate's Cakes Afternoon Tea Set
By entering this competition you give permission for me to pass on your details to the promoter. Only for the winner.
There is no cash alternative
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Win a Selection of Jockey Underwear Competition

Christmas will soon be here and I haven't started buying presents yet so I really need to get a move on because before I know it, the big day will have arrived. I have a few items that I HAVE to buy each year for family and friends, socks and underwear are a must at Christmas time. They make great stocking fillers and I am so pleased to team up with Jockey to give my readers the chance to win a selection Men's Jockey underwear. A perfect gift for Christmas.
Jockey offer a wide selection of underwear, socks, thermals, sleepwear, active wear, sports wear and lounge wear. They come in Men's, Women's and Children's and you can view the ranges by visiting the website.
One lucky reader of Mummy 2 Monkeys will win a selection of Men's Jockey Underwear just in time for Christmas.
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is answer this Christmas question...
Q: Who would you like to kiss under the mistletoe?
Remember to leave your answer as a blog comment and only readers who leave a comment will be entered into the draw.
Once you have left your comment more ways to get extra entries will open up on the gleam app below.
Terms and Conditions
Competition closes on Tuesday 9th December 2014 at 11:59PM
Entrants must have a valid UK address
Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified
All entrants and entries are checked and verified.
All entrants must follow the mandatory step and answer the question as a blog comment.
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random by the Gleam application.
Mummy2Monkeys will contact the lucky winner within 1 day of the competition closing
The winner must respond within 28 days. If no response a new winner will be chosen.
The prize is a Selection of Jockey Underwear - Size Small
There is no cash alternative.
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Beer52 Delivered To Your Door

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You can get so much stuff now delivered to your door in the form of subscription boxes. I absolutely love the idea because whether its clothes, food, beauty products or beer they give you the opportunity to try out new ranges or brands you may not have heard of before. Beer 52 is a beer subscription box but like most you can cancel anytime and its free delivery too. I have a special £10 off code further down so don't miss that.
We were sent a box of 8 beers recently to try out and although I am not a beer drinker, Daddy is and he was really pleased.
Here's how it works
Beer 52 expert beer tasters sample the most cutting edge beers from around the world. Some make it, some don't. They will only choose the best and their favourites go into the beer52 monthly boxes.
Beer52 will send you 8 different small batch brews each month to try and love.
When our beers arrived we hadn't heard of any of them but that's the point of the boxes really. Its to discover beers you wont find in the supermarket.

All 7 bottles and the 1 can went straight into the fridge for Daddy to sample over the coming days and weeks.
Daddy is really set in his ways and usually just buys the one brand of beer and he doesn't really look at anything else when we go supermarket shopping. So it was nice for him to have a few different beers to try.
There are 4 plans to choose from

You can also add snacks, smokes or spirits to your boxes too.

If you did fancy treating a friend or family to a months subscription to Beer52 just visit the website HERE and click on the I've got a special code link. Enter MONKEYS10 into the box and you will get £10 OFF your box so it will be just £14 if you choose the monthly plan.
Daddy really enjoyed trying them all and he would definitely buy from Beer52 again.
I think its such a great idea and with Christmas around the corner it would make a lovely Christmas gift. I know a few people who would like this and I wouldn't hesitate in ordering them a box to try.
*we were sent a box to try all thoughts are our own*
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Christmas Gift Guide - Toys

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There is just so much choice out there at the moment for little ones for Christmas. I have been browsing over the last few months and character toys seem to be the most popular at the moment, well they are in our house. Little J loves Cbeebies, Peppa Pig, In The Night Garden and Golden Bear Toys have a lovely selection at the moment and I have included 6 of our favourites below.
1. Henry Hugglemonster Henry Roarback - RRP £39.99

Have you ever wondered if your little one can ROAR as good as Henry? Well now you can put them to the test as Henry will copy their every word and sound. Press Henry's right hand which will start the ROAR back feature. Once Henry's nose starts to flash you will know that the recording mode has started. Let your little one chat away or get them to ROAR. When its time to play back Henry will repeat word for word in his own voice. Your little ones will be amazed. There is also lots of phrases from the tv show which can be heard by pressing Henry's left hand. Suitable from 10mnths+
2. Cbeebies Sweet Dreams with Squidge - RRP £19.99

Is your little one getting tired? Squidge is so its time to go to sleep. Give Squidge a big squeeze and listen to him softly play the tune from Cbeebies Bedtime hour. Use him as a pillow or even a nightlight as he glows in different colours soothing your little one to sleep. Give him another squeeze to make him stop playing. He is so soft and cuddly and would make a perfect gift.
This is the cutest plush I think I've ever seen and when we got the chance to review one a few months ago I wasn't sure whether little J would be interested or not but he loves his Squidge and it has been a firm night time favourite. 
3. Peppa Pig Wooden Play Pack - RRP £23.95

There is something special about wooden toys. This gift set would be perfect for any little Peppa fan. Firstly the wooden dominoes set has all your favourite characters from Peppa Pig on them. the first player to match the pictures and lay down all their dominoes is the winner. Hours of fun and perfect for learning how to take turns. The Pepper Pig wooden vehicles are also lots of fun. Just pull them back and watch them go. Chunky and colourful and perfect for little hands to hold. The pullback range features train, car, boat and rocket.
4. Ninky Nonk Musical Activity Train - RRP £49.99

If you have a little fan of In the night garden then I am sure this will already be top of their list to Father Christmas. The Ninky Nonk Musical Activity Train is a whopping 78cm long and comes with 5 detachable carriages. Each carriage is a toy within itself but when placed together they form the Ninky Nonk. The Engine carriage, Spinning Shape Sorter carriage, Stacking blocks carriage, pop up Igglepiggle carriage and Peek-a-boo carriage will keep little ones entertained for hours. With music, sounds and glowing lights this is perfect for any fan. If you want to read our Ninky Nonk just click HERE

5. Something Special - Mr Tumble Textured Spotty Bag - RRP £14.99

Mr Tumble fans will love pretending to be him by owning their own spotty bag. Bright colours, the Something Special logo and 4 textured spots to help stimulate senses. Green satin, orange velvet, red plush and blue corduroy. Also comes with 5 finder cards with Makaton signs to help recognition of popular household items.
6. Woolly & Tig Christmas Bundle (Exclusive to Golden Bear Toys) - RRP £103 SPECIAL OFFER £50

Jumbo Woolly Soft Toy
Read Along with Woolly Soft Toy
Twinkling Counting Kisses Woolly
Woolly and Tig Backpack
Pick 'n' Match Pairs Game
Scampering Woolly Pullback
Next I have included a few items that we really like and that will be going on our list to Father Christmas.
1. VTech Baby Toot Toot Drivers Airport - RRP £24.99

Little J has a set of Toot toot cars at his Grandma's house and he absolutely loves them. We googled the range and you can buy some many different playsets. This is my favourite, it comes with a little plane. All Toot Toot playsets can connect to one another so its just endless fun. You can buy this in major toy shops and also online at Amazon.
2. Thomas & Friends Battery Operated Train and 22 piece track - RRP £119.99

Little J has a few ride on's but I love the idea of this because it's battery operated and moves along the track. Little J doesn't have very strong legs yet so he does sometimes struggle to move across the floor on his ride on but he loves sitting on this. I think this will be great because at least he will be going somewhere.
3. TOMY Counting with Luke The Loop - RRP £14.99

Luke loves counting and looping. Your little one will love flying Luke around in his stunt aeroplane. He has an easy to hold handle perfect for little ones. His engine will roar as you fly him through the air and everytime you make him loop he will count - all the way up to 10.
4. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn stride to ride puppy - RRP £59.99

Whether your little one is sitting on puppy, walking with him or riding with him there is lots of fun to be had. He will play more than 50 songs, tunes and phrases. He will teach your little one about letters, numbers, colours, shapes, greetings, manners and more. Get your little ones to sort through the coloured blocks and feed them to him. 
5. Pink Lining Knights and Dragons Wheelie Case - RRP £30.00

I absolutely love this. We go on many weekend breaks and holidays throughout the year so this would be perfect for little J. Plus he absolutely loves putting stuff in and out of bags so he would have fun with at home too. Available from Pink Lining 

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The Night I Cheated on McBusted

Last week I was faced with a very tough decision. I had double booked on a night out and I had tickets to two very important events. Daddy had booked tickets for me to see The Big Reunion Boyband Tour months ago and in a panic I rushed and booked tickets to McBusted Tourplay event a few weeks ago before they sold out. I didn't check the dates and realised later they were both the same night. How stupid of me.
Now I am a HUGE fan of McBusted so I knew straight away I wanted to go and see Tourplay but I started to think what if they release it on DVD and I've missed all the bands I used to love in the Big Reunion. It was a tough choice and even right up to a few hours before I was still unsure. 
Unfortunately for my McBusted boys I chose the Big Reunion. This was the first time I had ever missed a Busted/Mcfly/Mcbusted event in the Northwest. I felt like such a cheat.
I did however try and enjoy myself watching all the bands I used to love. 911, 5ive, A1. They were all so amazing and I had a great night. 
A1 came on first and they sang one of my favourite songs.
Caught in the Middle. I love that song.
5ive were great too although I'm not sure how they can still be called 5ive when there was only 3 of them? Maybe they should think of a rename.. how about thr33??
I was so impressed with Damage. They weren't a band that I would listen to when I was younger but they are so slick and their moves were spot on. Nice chilled out music. I liked them a lot.
911 were also amazing. I just love 911 and always have. They are brilliant live and I love the fact that even now Jimmy and Spike can still pull off those dance moves.
I'm not a fan of Blue at all, but they sang Sorry is the hardest word. I love that song and I do like their version. Would have been even better if Elton John had of come on too.
Next was 5th Story. Hmmmm not sure what to say really. I just didn't get it. Adam Rickett, Dane Bowers, Kenzie, Gareth Gates and Kavana... just didn't work for me. If I'm honest they looked like they couldn't be bothered.
Lastly 3T wow those guys are amazing. They look and sound amazing and again the same as Damage I wasn't a fan years ago but they can really sing and i'm sure Michael Jackson would be so proud of his nephews.
Overall it was a great night and I was glad I went. I avoided twitter when I came home because I didn't want to know about Tourplay but I have heard since that its being released on DVD and Blu Ray YAY.
Have you ever double booked for the same night?
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My Christmas Movie List

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I love Christmas so much, its my favourite time of year. Every year I make a Christmas movie list and although we never get round to watching them all. This year I am hoping to get through a few of them. 
This was on my Christmas to do list HERE so I can cross this one off.

1. Love Actually
2. The Holiday
3. Home Alone
4. Home Alone 2
5. While you were sleeping
6. The Family Stone
7. Mickeys Christmas carol
8. The snowman
9. The snowman and the snowdog
10. The family man
11. Serendipity
12. Bridget jones diary
13. Bridget jones diary - the edge of reason
14. Jingle all the way
15. Sleepless in Seattle
16. The polar express
17. The Santa clause
18. The Santa clause 2
19. The Santa clause 3
20. Santa Claus the movie
21. Hobbit
22. Miracle on 34th Street
23. Lord of the rings - the fellowship of the ring
24. Lord of the rings - the two towers
25. Lord of the rings - return of the king
You may notice that Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have made it on to my list. Now I know they are not very Christmassy but we love to sit and watch the LOTR films back to back once our decorations are up. Strange I know but its become a tradition.
Do you like to watch Christmas movies? Whats your favourite?
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I Always Choose Quorn

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I am a big fan of Quorn and I have managed to convince Daddy, big J and little J to try some of the range and they do like like some of the products. I am not a vegetarian but I have mentioned it before that I'm just not a big fan of meat. I like dishes that include meat such as lasagne and casserole so I love the fact I can use Quorn products and they taste just as nice.

These are probably the most popular products we buy. We use the mince for lasagne and spaghetti bolognese, sausages as part of a meal or maybe a casserole and the chicken pieces in a curry.

Now I am not the greatest cook so when I make a lasagne I will use sauces in a jar such as ragu or dolmio.

Our Quorn Lasagne is extremely easy to make. I brown the Quorn mince for 5-8 minutes first in the frying pan using a spray of fry light first. Then I add the Dolmio Lasagne sauce and stir for a further 5 minutes.

Then I scoop some Quorn Mince into my lasagne dish and add some Lasagne Pasta sheets on top. Add some Creamy Lasagne White Sauce and repeat until you have used all you mince.
When you get to the last layer sprinkle on some cheese.

Put in the oven for 40 mins on 180. I usually pre heat for 10 mins and switch off after 30 minutes.
Our Quorn Lasagne will feed all four of us for Dinner and I usually reheat the rest the next day for little J's lunch and sometimes we can get another lunch too.

Quorn is a great tasting range, perfect for if you're trying to eat healthier as part of an active lifestyle, watching your weight or if you want some meal free meal inspiration. 

Have you tried Quorn? What do you think?
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