How to get through The Smurf Movie without wanting to kill yourself

August 17, 2011 Joanne Mallon 8

Katy-perry-smurf-dress

Ever since we made our Build a Bear Smurfs, The Offspring have been slavering at the prospect of The Smurf Movie.

I have not. The smell of this one had started wafting our way, and it wasn't good. I tried to dump it on to JH, but he pointed that he had already visited his own seventh circle of cinema hell in the shape of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

So yesterday we did the deed and went to see The Smurf Movie. And yes, the children did enjoy the film. Personally, I felt it was a horrible waste of everyone involved's time.

Parents, if like me you get sucked into the vortex of hype that is The Smurfs, here are a few tips to help you endure the experience:

Children’s book review: Lego Ninjago Brickmaster

August 11, 2011 Joanne Mallon 2

Lego Ninjago brickmaster I used to wonder if Lego were trying to do slightly too much with the Ninjago range – it's a construction toy, a trading cards game, a toy spinner, a collectible – and now with the release of Ninjago Brickmaster, it's a book as well.

But what do I know – the range has become enormously popular. Last term it was the toy of choice to smuggle in to school for every small boy I know.

The Brickmaster range from DK is a sort of hybrid – half story book, half Lego building project. The left hand side of the book is a cardboard sleeve containing around 130 Lego bricks, designed to make at least five different models. The right hand side is a combination of the sort of Lego instructions you'll know, but with extra text giving facts about the models and a story involving the escapades of Frakjaw, Skeleton of Fire.

UPDATED: A beginner’s guide to the Amazon Kindle

July 30, 2011 Joanne Mallon 15

Lady reading Kindle

 

I've been using my Amazon Kindle for about 10 days now. Here's what I've discovered:

  • Set up and book buying couldn't be easier
    You will be good to go in under a minute. Don't be scared of this device if you're a technophobe because it really is extremely easy to use. You do need an Amazon account to operate, but if you're buying a Kindle then you're probably no stranger to The Big A anyway.
  • You could spend a frickin fortune if you're not careful
    I had assumed that ebooks would be a lot cheaper than the print versions, since the production and delivery costs are so much less, but that's not the case. Many best sellers are a fairly similar price whatever version you choose. Somebody's making a lot of money out of Kindle books, and I suspect it's not the writers.
  • But you'll still be seduced
    It's the instant delivery to Kindle that's so seductive – you can think of a book, buy it with one click and be reading it in under a minute. So if you're in a field and you fancy reading some Rilke – away you go. You can see why it's caught on.

Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing little blue men…

July 17, 2011 Joanne Mallon 5

Build a Bear Clumsy Smurf

What's a Smurf? asked Son of Mine. Is is it an animal?

Son, much to learn you have.

Let me take you down to the Build a Bear Workshop and we'll find out for ourselves. Though this cuddly toy emporium is best known for its teddy bears, it's also home to dogs, owls, dinosaurs and for a limited time only – The Smurfs.

I used to work in The Disney Store when I was a student, and when the manager was feeling particularly vicious he would declare it an 'Ears Day' and we would all have to don the Mickey headgear. But that is small potatoes compared to what the staff at Build a Bear have to do:

UPDATED: This bag’s too good for kids

June 22, 2011 Joanne Mallon 5

UPDATE: Check out the bottom of this post for a discount voucher code to save money off a Leather Satchel Company satchel

 

Daughter of Mine is off to Hogwarts soon and she needs a schoolbag. Specifically, she wants a vintage satchel-style bag, just like everyone from Hermione Granger to the cool kids of Brighton seems to have.

When I was at school, it was only the geeky bookworms who had leather satchels. That's still the case, but the crucial difference is – it's a good thing. Geeks have inherited the earth, and it's cool to be a bookworm now.

And so satchels have been featured everywhere from Elle to Vogue to The Guardian. They're very much the 'in bag' of the moment, and definitely not just for schoolkids.

And then The Leather Satchel Company, a Cheshire-based company that's been making satchels since the 1960's, got in touch and sent us a beautifully packaged parcel.

Leather-satchel-parcel-wrapped 

Look at what was inside:

Bloggers, what are your rules for reviews?

June 20, 2011 Joanne Mallon 13

Cat-blogger

Recently an ITV children's programme was censured by media regulator Ofcom for giving too positive a review to a product.

Let's hope Ofcom never start looking too closely at blog reviews, because when did you ever read one of those that was less than glowing?

I understand why that's the case – bloggers spend our own time writing reviews without pay. So why would you want to waste your efforts writing about something that you're not enthusiastic about?

Ever since I started doing more reviews on this blog, I have been thinking about what my review policy is.  This is what I've come up with so far. I would love to hear what guidelines you stick to when you do reviews.

Zumba Fitness for Nintendo Wii game review

June 9, 2011 Joanne Mallon 6

Longterm readers will know that I do a yearly gym challenge, where I aim to go to the gym 150 times a year, and it always turns out to be a lot, lot harder than I expected. Since this is the fourth year of the gym challenge, I've racked up over 500 gym visits and unsurprisingly I'm ready for a change.

One class I've wanted to try for a while is Zumba, a dance-based aerobic workout set to Latin rhythms. I was even thinking about changing gyms to try it out. Turns out I don't even have to leave the house.

A new Zumba Fitness video game has just been released, and I was sent a copy of the Wii version to try out. It comes with a special belt to tuck your Wii controller into, so the game can track your movements – the idea is to move in rhythm with the onscreen instructor.

This ad gives you a taste of the moves and shows you how it works with the belt. Ignore the cheesy voiceover:

 

A warning about Playmobil Fun Park Malta

June 1, 2011 Joanne Mallon 5

Playmobil-fun-park-pirate

My review of the Playmobil Fun Park in Malta for Have a Lovely Time accidentally caused a bit of a kerfuffle. A Facebook commenter living on Malta disagreed with my recommendation of the fun park as a place to visit. In fact she said she'd put it "below eating sand" on a list of things to do on the island.

Well, each to their own. Personally, I loved it. Look, I met a real pirate.

The Easyjet website has now made my review one of their travel picks of the month, proving once and for all that I am RIGHT and you, sand-eating person are wrong. Or at least, we have different opinions, both of which we are fully entitled to. And somebody else on the internet probably disagrees with both of us.

 

Random Reviews: LEGO City Police Boat video review

May 29, 2011 Joanne Mallon 3

The kind people at LEGO sent us a treat – the newest police boat from the City Police range. Here is Son of Mine, ably interviewed by Daughter of Mine, to tell you what he thought of it:

This was a much simpler model to put together than the last Lego set we reviewed, the T-6 Jedi Shuttle. The main body of the boat is already in one piece, so most of the modelling is to be done on the top half.

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