Category Archives: Reviews

Shopping for gifts made easier with Wicked Uncle

** Disclosure – I was provided with a voucher code from Wicked Uncle in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own and this is no way affects the integrity of the post. Enjoy**

Do you struggle to know what gifts to buy people? We all have that friend or family member who has everything. What about the children in your family? Then there’s the never-ending kids birthday parties where you know nothing about the child. It’s often difficult to know what they might like. This is where Wicked Uncle becomes your gift shopping guru.

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About  Wicked Uncle

Wicked Uncle offer a service where-by they scour the world for toys that are that little bit different, unusual and great fun. Why spend hours looking through shops and search engines when Wicked Uncle does it for you.Not only does Wicked Uncle find and compile a list of the best gifts, they also test them. Puzzles are made, games are played and T-shirt’s are worn. Many of the toys they select are put through their paces by dedicated children.

Wicked Uncle are so named because they felt it sounded cool. “Wicked” may not be the term that’s “down with the kids” nowadays but their products certainly are. They currently offer an award-winning service, with 99% outstanding customer service reviews on Feefo.

The website is really easy to navigate. The menu gives you the option to choose the intended gift recipients age and gender. Whilst Wicked Uncle are aware that both genders can like an item, many still find it useful to search items by male or female. There is the option to select all if you don’t want to select categories by gender.

Once you’ve chosen your gift, you have the option to choose from a selection of gift wrap options, complete with handwritten card. They also offer a reminder service in case, like me, you have 15 nieces and nephews and struggle to remember all their birthdays.

Wicked Uncle isn’t just useful for buying children’s gifts. They also have a Big Kidz section for ages 12 to infinity. Me and hubs are total big kids at heart and love a novelty item. Some of the items that caught my eye, I’ve honestly never seen before.

Magnetic Football Tables – I can imagine this being a little (or big) football lovers dream.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

100 ways to win a tenner –  I can see this being a hit with students, pub goers or just a good laugh round the table Christmas day.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

Piano Playing Plant Pot, Musical Leaves! – Gifts don’t get more unique than this! Note the green strip around the pot, this changes colour. It’s a piano playing, bluetooth-speaking, light up plant pot. The plant isn’t included. You can add or grow any in the pot. Although Wicked Uncle recommend you steer clear of a cactus. I can’t say I’m not massively intrigued.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

My Very Own Rainbow, rainbow projector – I literally didn’t know these existed! The only reason I didn’t order one is because George already has an abundance of night lights and light projectors. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist for too long. Heck I might even get one for my own bedroom. Can you imagine having another child and telling them “yeah you was conceived under a rainbow”. I’m laughing so much right now, but I genuinely want one of these in my life.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

So that’s enough of what I could have ordered and here’s what I did order. So we recently celebrated George’s 4th birthday. In the run up to his birthday he would wake each morning and ask “Is it my birthday today?” I thought it must be horrible to not know when your birthday is.

So I made a calendar on the whiteboard that he could count down and cross off the days until Halloween, his birthday and his birthday party. George responded really well to this and enjoyed coming down each morning and taking it upon himself to cross of the days.

With this in mind, I thought he would really enjoy this Melissa and Doug My Magnetic Daily Calendar – Wooden.  This is great for learning the days of the week, months, years, seasons and certain recognised days like Halloween, remembrance day and alike.

George loves looking out the window and choosing from the options for the day’s weather and he often changes this as the day progresses, along with his moods in the “I feel” section.

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The other thing I purchased because it was unusual and I hadn’t seen one before, my Dad was in awe of the concept. Tub Time Grand Prix – 36 piece set. Complete with rubber duck style race cars, this foam race track floats on water!

It has foam cars, trophies and other accessories that stick to the bath or tiles when damp. There’s also a handy net with suckers to attach to the wall to store it all when you are done. George literally cannot get enough of this and I imagine we will use it in the paddling pool during the summer also.

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My verdict

In my family the name Wicked Auntie would be more apt. The women tend to be in charge of buying the gifts. The first the men know about what has been bought is when they see the person open it. Hubs’ family still wouldn’t get any gifts if it wasn’t for me. With a tally of 15 nieces and nephews I’m most defo the Wicked Auntie, in the coolest sense of the word I hope.

I think Wicked Uncle are fab. They are UK based and they have a real fun, family vibe. They present themselves as being approachable and willing to ensure their customers are happy. Price wise I have done a few comparisons and their prices are not dissimilar to those on the high street.

The products we received were a beautiful quality and they arrived packaged in a box size suitable for the items contained. I shall definitely be using Wicked Uncle in the not too distant future.

Rather weirdly, I had a job position within Wicked Uncle pop up on my phone. Secret I-Phone spies at work again. Looking at the salary on the advert made me realise not only do Wicked Uncle value their customers, they appear to value their staff too. I often worry that our online order come at a price for some poor humans soul so this is reassuring.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Wicked Uncle website and getting hunting for your Chrimbo gifts.

Stink Bomz – The Must Have Toy for Christmas 2018 #JoinTheFarty

*Disclosure – I was provided with a Stink Bomz goodie box courtesy of Tomy Toys in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

You may remember me attending the Tomy Toys Christmas in July event. To bloggers this is standard behaviour. For the rest of us it’s a little bizarre talking about the C word in July. For me, hubs and George it was an informative and fun filled day. Here’s where our introduction to Stink Bomz began.

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Stink Bomz my first thought was that they sounded lethal. Did I even want to welcome them into my home? Then the day arrives where a box marked “Caution! toxic” arrives at our door. I was thankful we had been pre warned about the packaging.

The fun began as we started to unbox. I think this is the most engaged and excited I’ve seen George for an unboxing. It was fab. After tearing the yellow caution tape, he lifted the lid on the black box to reveal oodles of green shredding paper.

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As George dived in he found some chocolate balls, cute Stink Bomz biscuits and a whoopee cushion, which George quickly became obsessed with. As he continued searching he found the Stink Bomz. Whilst I got a fab surprise as I opened the virtual postcard which gives a humorous VT if each of the Stink Bomz characters.

“You’ve heard them…you’ve smelled them…but have you ever met a fart? Meet the Stink Bomz! All Stink Bomz contain a collectible fart friend known as a Stink. Each Stink has their own silly smell and makes 3 unique fart noises. But best of all, every Stink has their own fun personality. Even though they’re all different, they have one important thing in common – they are ready to get the farty started!” Taken from the TOMY UK website.

If you have or have ever encountered a three year old, you will know of their obsession with poo, bums, and pop offs farts! George walks around, and even has us in the habit of, playfully cussing;

“poo-bum-poo-stink-smell-bum-smell-face”

Once I helped him open the Stink Bomz pod and open the shrink wrap, it revealed a Stink Bomz character by the name of Squirmy. As I had already used the words “Stink Bomz” several times to describe the package he was opening, it was very interesting what he said next;

“Eugh that wrapper smells!”

The wrapper didn’t smell. I think it just goes to show how suggestable their little minds are. He was quite happy when he actually realised what they smell like. We both agreed that they smelled like “biscuits”. But the piece de resistance was when he realised if you squeeze their tummies they make a fart noise.

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#JoinTheFarty

Just to talk about the elephant in the room…whilst I don’t encourage the use of the word “fart” I can see why it’s a great marketing ploy for these Stink Bomz. I’m not sure how other parents would feel?

I’ll admit I do swear around George,  and he knows which words are naughty and not to say them. That said, I allow him to experiment in the safe confines of our home. Whilst making it clear that in public and at school and around others, there may be people who don’t like to hear those words. Given the freedom to understand this, he rarely uses these words.

Occasionally he will create rhymes and mistakenly say a word that he knows sounds like a “naughty” word and then justify why he said it. I think this is really important in allowing him to make choices and understand things. Rather than just the old fashioned command of “Do as I say, not as I do”.

The name “Stink Bomz” reminds me of my days in school back in the 90’s. You would all be congregated in the corridors, minding your own business. When suddenly the smell of rotten eggs would grace your nostrils. Everyone would be quickly dispersing from a certain area groaning  “eugh, someones let off a stink bomb!”I don’t know if this was the inspiration behind these toys. Was the creator an 80’s child reliving their youth?

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The main thing to remember about Stink Bomz is they aren’t just a plush toy that smells nice and farts. Each one has a crafted personality for your child to learn and build upon. The Stink Bomz range will also have a supporting app, which at present is only available in the US but will be coming to the UK soon.

My verdict

The product itself I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to discover they actually smell pleasantly of vanilla and biscuits. I understand why. There wouldn’t be many parents rushing out to buy a toy that smells like rotten eggs. Overall I think they are great but a reduction in the plastic packaging given the current climate would be reassuring. The green pod that the Stink Bomz come in is reusable. They don’t appear to have the option to change batteries so I don’t know how long it would take before the sound runs out.

I loved seeing George get a cheeky smile on his face when he squeezes them.  Stink Bomz are a great little gift and George looks so proud to show them off. Almost like his own little gag. Would I buy these? At £9.99 I think they are reasonable and would make great stocking fillers.

George’s verdict

He likes playing with them and wants to get them involved in his game. Squirmy featured in a game he was playing the other day, as a big bad monster that farted and blew everyone away.

Let us know what you think. All positive shares and comments welcomed.

Sex In A Candle – A Review of Scents Unusual

** Disclosure – I was provided with a Sex Candle (how often can you say that in a week) in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own **

Candles! We all love them don’t we? With the exception of my husband who is scared of fire, candles fill the majority of our homes with love.

Candles have come a long way from being mere providers of light. They create mood, ambience, scent and for some can become a bit of a collectors hobby.

I leave you with that thought whilst I briefly detour. Trust me. This post is like a well planned comedy routine. Stick with it and it will all marry up in the end.

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There are items and experiences in this world, for which the terms “nice” and “good” just won’t cut it. I get easily excited about things and I like to share that excitement with others. I think this is one of the reasons I blog.

In order to enthuse and excite others about things I have seen, eaten or visited, I’ve got to describe them well. I reached a point where “lush” and “brilliant”, “amazing” and “fab” rolled off my tongue with ease. I use them daily. So when something is that bit more special, I had to  get inventive.

I honestly do not remember what inspired me to first start comparing things to sex. Maybe it was the cocktail, Sex on the beach? I think most of us human types would agree that orgasmic sex is probably one of the best things out there. So why not use sex as the yardstick to judge everything else by. If your tongue isn’t in your cheek right now then you are reading this wrong.

And so it was born. During a visit to my fave The Royal Hotel, I tried one of their unique cocktails which was pretty quickly declared by myself as “Sex in a martini glass”. At our local seaside resort you can get a chocolate and cream covered waffle on stick which is quite clearly “Sex on a stick”.

I’ve had sex on a plate numerous times and the ultimate was when I told my husbands seventy something Nan that her homemade stew was “sex in a bowl”!

So imagine my utter excitement, and if I’m honest, sheer intrigue, at seeing the opportunity to get my hands on a sex candle by Scents Unusual.

Sex….in a candle!!!

It’s literally got my name written all over it! “Send it over Dave!” I shouted. Well I never because that wasn’t the PR guys name but you get the gist.

Now as you may know, we are in the process of selling our house. Whilst waiting for the candle to arrive I contemplated what a sex candle might smell like? Could I sell my house with au de sex lingering in the air? Would it make potential buyers feel a little fruity? Hell perhaps I should add that to the Rightmove listing….. “this property is pure sex in a house!”

Now back to that thought I left you with earlier. Candle lovers this is your paragraph! So you wanna know what a sex candle has to offer you and whether you should buy one and I’m here to tell you.sex

The Sex Candle is a bit of novelty gift so that’s your Secret Santa sorted for this year. It’s a simple white candle in a clear glass container, labelled with the Scents Unusual sticker.

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The candle is packaged in a tin with some comical sexual innuendos. My favourite being “Issue:69”. I like the obvious and silly gags. Simple minds and all that. The attention to detail is perfect and the more you look at the tin labelling, the more you see. Say it out loud, “Sex candle”, dya get it?

Light this candle and you will get an initial intense aroma of that moment of passion, gradually turning into the fresh and comforting smell of clean cotton – it’s as if you have just changed those bed sheets! – taken from scentsunusual.com

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With an approximate burn time of 40 hours, I’m yet to reach the linen scent. As for the “aroma of passion”, I literally cannot compare it to anything . You really need to smell it for yourself.

To me it’s not offensive once lit, although the smell knocks you back a bit as you open the can. It’s also not an overly appealing smell such as vanilla but it has a weird addictive hint to it. The smell isn’t too obtrusive either. I had to get quite close to be able to smell it and I have a super human sense of smell.

At £15 I’d be unlikely to buy it for myself now my curiosity as to what it smells like has been fulfilled. I’d definitely buy one as a novelty gift. This would definitely have been my secret Santa gift this Christmas, had I still been at my previous employers. I’m intrigued by the Cuban tobacco and oak range. I imagine it’s  uniquely appealing.

Do you like the sound of this? Would you buy one for yourself or someone else? Check out Scentsunusual.com for their other products.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

My September beauty faves – Inspired by Mam Rants and Reviews

I’m about to do something a little different to my usual posts. My world has recently been brightened by a fellow blogger Shân Williams. Living approximately a six-hour drive from one another and technically in different countries, we are yet to meet in real life. Nonetheless, this lady and I have clicked and she’s definitely one of my new faves.

New to the blogging scene, Shân is already inspiring me. I learn something new about her everyday. She first caught my eye the day I watched her #BraveTheShave on Instagram. An act she completed to mark her eighth year since she got given the all clear. Each year she does something different. I’ve always wanted to shave my head but never been brave enough and here was this woman, whacking on her fave lippy and braving it.

So Shân blogs over at Mam Rants and Reviews. She recently blogged about her Fall Fashion Faves and asked me to join her with some of my own faves. Life being as it has in the Gorgeous George’s Mama household, fashion has been bumped off the budget list of late. I’m hoping things are on the up though as I’m desperate for a few new key pieces for this Autumn/Winter. Beauty is an essential though in my eyes and I can always find the pennies to look after my ageing bod. Stick with me…I’m not a beauty blogger and I’m not about to impersonate one.

ANEW Anti Wrinkle, Line Erasing Serum with A-F33 by Avon

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I’m proper pleased with myself about this stuff and not least because it’s a great product. So I’ll tell you the story about how this came into my life. Whilst attending the last of the Summer family fun fetes, hubs took George to a tombola stall. I needed to park ym aging bod for a moment as I;ve been suffering with my hip. I reminded him that we didn’t need to be taking any toot home as I had just decluttered our home ready for sale.

“Don’t worry” he reassured me “this time I’m going for something for you”.

So off he trots and a few minutes later and £2 lighter he appears with a gorgeous set from Boots and this wonder serum. This stuff retails at £25 from Avon! I effectively got it for a quid! I’m already loving it. I started to use it every morning as a must and I will never got back. This is going to be part of my morning routine for life!

Avon were the first major cosmetic company to end animal testing nearly 30 years ago. The serum isn’t greasy at all and it’s currently on sale for £18 (prices as of September 21st 2018). What’s not to love!

Before and after. See the difference? Me neither but it feels lush.

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Coconut miracle penetrating oil by OGX.

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This little beaut presented itself to me in the reduced section during my weekly shop in Asda. Again OGX Beauty ltd are a company that do not support testing on animals and this particular miracle oil is vegan friendly too.

I’ve been going grey since I was 15 and it reached a point where I was home dyeing my hair every 3 weeks to cover the greys. This became something I couldn’t maintain once I became a Mum, so I started getting highlights at the salon. This does involve the use of bleach as I am a natural brown.

After this summer’s heat wave and the bleaching, my hair was feeling a little dry on the ends. I needed a quick solution so I thought I would give it a go. It was reduced from £7.99 to £4.99.

I wash my hair every other day and literally just put an amount the size of a penny in my palm and run my fingers through towel dried hair. It makes it feel silky again without being greasy and removes frizz. It’s definitely revived my hair.

“>
.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/IMG_22251-e1537562226369.jpg” alt=”faves” width=”270″ height=”480″ /> Couldn’t resist a Snapchat twat pose[/caption]

nSPA Cherry Body Mist

nSPA Cherry Body Mist

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This spray was a gift from my sister along with some other nSPA goodies. nSPA are another of my faves that is vegan friendly and against animal testing.

Just before the summer break we visited the step up room at George’s preschool. Another Mum, who I have made friends with was sat with me. I asked her what she thought of the place whilst we were there and she replied;

“It smells nice so that’s a bonus….oh no that’s you”

 I’m rarely complimented on my scent. I rarely wear one as it can aggravate or trigger my migraines. Now every time I spray this I feel like I’m one of those people you walk past in the street and think

“mmm they smell lush”

The nSPA range is available from their website or at Asda. Their Blooming Gorgeous range served me well during my pregnancy with Gorgeous George.

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So there you have it. Some fab products for you to checkout, each with their own story of why they are my faves for this month. This post is not sponsored or paid. They are just products I wanted to shout about after Shân inspired me and suggested we collaborate.

Be sure to go show her some love over at

Mam Rants and ReviewsFacebookTwitterInstagram.

Much Love x 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Preparing to conceive with the AVA bracelet

Are you trying to conceive? Have you heard of the Ava bracelet?  Ava is focused on women’s health.

The Ava bracelet isn’t just for women trying to conceive. It can also be used to help track your cycle as well as being worn during pregnancy for regular monitoring of your body.

The Ava bracelet has got me so excited. You may have recently seen my social media update declaring I am full of positivity and optimism. Ava is one of the reasons why. Conceive

Ava cannot necessarily assist everyone. For example, for women with PCOS, irregular or non-existent cycles Ava cannot fix this. The Ava bracelet assists women with a regular cycle but highlighting their most fertile period. Whilst many products on the market pinpoint the approximate 48 hours within ovulation, Ava does more than this.

Other tests (which I have already tried unsuccessfully this time around) indicate the last 2 days of the fertile window. The Ava bracelet collects physiological data whilst you sleep. Ava then pinpoints a 5 day window, detecting the very beginning of your fertile window.

Ava claim to advise you of “more fertile days than any other method”.  Despite all those years growing up thinking I could fall pregnant easily at any time, it turns out there’s actually only a small window that this can happen.

Who are avawomen.com and what do they stand for?

Ava Women are ridiculously passionate about bringing the Ava brand to the world. The team are spread between a base in San Francisco and their Global headquarters in Switzerland.  They are a group of doctors and scientific researchers, committed to making scientific advancements to better understand the menstrual cycle. In a world where technology plays a huge role in almost every part of our lives, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been many advancements in women’s health tracking. Ava Women hope to change this.

“We don’t just make products, we conduct clinical studies and publish peer-reviewed papers.”  taken from avawomen.com

How does the Ava bracelet work?

While you’re sleeping, Ava’s sensors collect data on nine different physiological parameters. Ava’s algorithm then detects your fertile window, physiological stress level, sleep quality, and more. –  taken from avawomen.com

The data collected each night is synced to your phone and automatically entered into a chart. Gradually you will begin to build a picture of how many hours you sleep (this is useful ammo against hubs if you already have a child),It also monitors your resting pulse rate, skin temperature, breathing rate, and HRV which is short for heart rate variability (basically stress levels).

In order for an adequate amount of data to be collected, you have to wear the bracelet for at least 4 hours each night. The information that Ava measures doesn’t confirm if you are fertile but rather when. It uses the data collected to create an algorithm which recognises when your body is signalling that it is entering the fertile window, and hence at the prime time to conceive.

Set up and using the Ava bracelet.

The Ava bracelet is easy to use and stress free. On receiving the bracelet, it needed to be charged for a minimum of 2 hours. After downloading the Ava app on app store (or Google Play store) I set up my account. It helps if you already know a few details about your cycle such as dates of last period and average cycle length. This is something I already tracked on an app. I then synced the bracelet with my phone. The bracelet is found automatically once bluetooth is enabled.

Each evening before I go to sleep, I put the bracelet on my non dominant arm, just above the wrist bone. It’s a simple buckle strap, not too tight. I’m not aware of it during the night when I’m sleeping. In the morning I remove the bracelet, plug it into a power source and sync it to the app to download the data collected that night.

It’s so simple and easy. You can also join a closed Facebook group (so it’s not visible on your profile) to help you with support and analysing your charts.

Trying to conceive George.

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I’ve always been pretty good at getting my own way. So it kind of pisses me off  utterly frustrates me that when I want a baby, I can’t just have one! I’m so grateful for George and whilst my eight month conception journey to have him is miniscule compared to the struggle of others, I did let it consume me.

I don’t feel the same this time around. I would love so much to have another baby. A baby that I can enjoy minus the post natal depression (or at least with treatment this time). Another chance to use and learn from the mistakes I made the first time around. Maybe the chance to be Mama to a daughter. But mostly because I am SO sure that George will make the most kind, helpful and amazing big brother.

Those who know me know I research the back-end out of everything I do. Queen of Googling. I thought I knew all the tricks. I tried my hardest to not actually “try” to conceive. Knowing that the more you stress over it the less likely it is to happen (or so they say). We both took all the conception vitamins. I stopped drinking alcohol to try to get my body in tip-top condition. I even stopped making social plans. Firstly because I didn’t think I could enjoy myself without a drink (isn’t that sad!), secondly because I was always thinking “I can’t agree to that sponsored walk because what if I’m pregnant by then”.

Legs up the wall, optimal positions, you name it, we did it.  After 7 months, my sister lent me her ovulation monitor. You pee on a stick when it tells you to and when you get the smiley face you go hell for leather and ta da, a baby. And after the first month using this machine, I discovered that in fact I ovulate way after my period tracking app suggested I did.

At the same month we started using the monitor I found out I was 2 to 3 weeks pregnant. I’ve always attributed our success in conception to the ovulation monitor. However it is also the time I took advice from a friend and just stopped caring and started to say yes again. Yes to that holiday, yes to that night out. In the end I was so busy during my pregnancy it was unreal. George was born 9 months later and the rest is history. But this time is a WHOLE different story.

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Trying for a second.

Last year we decided it would be a good time to start trying for a sibling. Since George’s birth, we haven’t used any contraception. so you could say we have always been trying to conceive. Although as most first time parents will know, having a child to care for is contraception in itself. You are way to tired and touched out for that shizzle come the end of the day.

For the first year I was breastfeeding and didn’t have ANY periods. Although it’s not supposed to be a trusted method of contraception, I believe breastfeeding stopped me getting pregnant in the first year. When my periods returned we sometimes used the pulling out method as I was never sure it was right for us to be having another yet. Again, kids this isn’t a safe way to avoid getting pregnant.

So last year I knew I wanted George to be a sibling. I didn’t want a baby too badly just yet, and I wanted to try to fall before I became over the top broody to eliminate the pressure and stress. It wasn’t happening. “Simple” I thought and out came my sister’s ovulation monitor.

3 months down and no smiley face. I went to see the doctor who booked me in for an internal ultrasound to check the health of my ovaries. After suspecting I may be starting early menopause (as the women do in my family), I was relieved to find out I wasn’t. Everything was the level it should be.

Hubs was going to get checked out but then my body started to really play up. I gained three stone taking medication for my migraines. I also have a problem with my hip which is affecting my quality of life.

Long story short, we had to make the sensible choice to halt trying for a baby. I’m under a consultant and physio for my hip and slowly losing weight. We suspect my health will have improved enough by the end of 2018, start of 2019 that we can start trying to conceive again.

Conceive

Now seems the perfect time to start using the Ava bracelet and build up my data within the app. I’m hopeful that when the time comes we will be better informed about the prime time to play the baby making game conceive.

My verdict

Obviously I would love to say that we have successfully conceived using the Ava bracelet…but I haven’t put the data to good use yet. What I will say is if you are looking for an aid to help you better plan your conception journey, then I feel Ava takes the stress out of it. At a RRP of £249 it’s not cheap.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that you can continue to wear it during pregnancy. The app also gives you a pregnancy tracker, giving you weekly insights on what to expect. I’m really excited about the potential this bracelet has for us (in case you hadn’t gathered). I can’t wait to share it with you all!

There may be some of you that thinks this all seems very involved. That you should just let nature take its course. But as someone who doesn’t appear to fall pregnant easily, it’s invaluable to me, as I’m sure it will be to many couples.

If you would like to purchase an Ava bracelet for yourself, you can get £20 off by using this link and the code;

GORGEOUSGSMAMA20

**Disclosure – I received an Ava bracelet in return for this review. Opinions are my own and this does not affect the integrity of this post**

Bing Live Show – a review

Round the corner, not far away, Bing is coming to your local theatre to play.

We are complete Bingster’s in our house. The CBeebies loveable Bunny Bing is a regular on our screens and I have even been known  to take some parenting tips from Flop. Bing actually came to Cbeebies screens the year George was born 2014 making it feel special to us in some way.

The Television show is actually based on books written by Ted Dewan. I found a fab interview with him here, which explains more about his vision for the show and what it should become.

I contacted the press team who were kind enough to not only send tickets to myself, hubs and George for the Bing Live Show but also a fab goody bag. Checkout what was in the goody bag over on our IGTV .

Bing

Details about the show.

Currently touring theatres across the UK, the show is 80 minutes long, including the 15 minute interval. The Bing Live show is touring 60 venues around the UK until April 2019. Tickets prices vary from theatre to theatre.

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Credit Johan Persson – Images Courtesy of Bright Media

Our experience of Bing Live.

The Bing Live show was engaging, exciting and really well produced. I’ve been to a few theatre shows aimed at toddlers now and they can only be described as hilarious carnage! If you have read my previous post “What will my child become?“, you will know that George is the epitome of sensible. He’s able to sit still and watch shows from beginning to end without fidgeting, fussing or complaining he wants to do something else. I’m not bragging, but I forget that this isn’t “the standard norm” (whatever that is) for toddlers.

So whenever we attend a show where the bulk of the audience are toddlers, I’m often in hysterics at how funny it is to be in a room with 100+ toddlers all trying to be kept ship-shape and quiet. Hence the description “hilarious carnage”. With Bing Live , it is anticipated, hell, expected even, that the little ones will roam around, shout, clap, scream. It’s embraced. I think this helps to take the pressure off the adults from trying to maintain the decorum expected of a visit to the theatre.

Bing

As I was saying, at previous theatre shows aimed at this age, the carnage has sometimes been a little distracting and over ridden the show itself. I didn’t find this with the Bing Live show. The volume was somehow magically loud enough to always be able to hear it despite the excitable audience. But it wasn’t excessively loud that it unnerved or upset any of the little ones. I don’t know how they did it but it was really clever.

The narrator gave us a typical countdown to the show starting so our little audience could get excited. George is pretty reserved so it was so lovely to see him anticipating the show starting. He was so excited bless him. As the curtain rose and Bing and Flop entered the stage, we got out first look at how the show was present.

We had already watched the trailer video on Facebook, so we knew the characters were all puppets. The thinking behind this was that the characters could be a relatable size for the children. Not too large they are scary, but not too small you can’t see their expressions. I loved reading more about the Magic Behind the Puppets on the Bing Live site.

Each character was cleverly manoeuvred around the stage using rods attached to the puppeteer’s feet and body. Whilst the puppeteer voiced the characters.

They all sounded more or less the same as the characters on the show, although Bing himself was a little more shrill and not as husky as he is on the show. He was voiced by a female. They all did a fabulous job. I would love to know if their voices are naturally that tone and pitch or if they were enhanced at all.

The live show is literally like watching toddler play and imagine and explore. The characters were as excited to see us as we were them. They then played out before us, their own make-believe theatre. Imagining and dressing up and exploring through singing and dancing.  There were moments the audience were encouraged to participate in the singing and dancing and this was lots of fun. It was also really helpful that the lights went up for these parts of the show.

I don’t want to give away much more except that it’s a great show that appears to be written by people who understand young children and parenthood. Little touches like announcing the interval with Bing declaring he needs a wee and everyone getting all aboard the toilet train. Cue a room full of grown ups asking their child if they need the toilet train, instead of the usual battle to get them to try for a wee. We loved it!

Bing

George’s verdict:

He absolutely loved the show and took his Bing and Sula teddies along to share it with him. When the crowd were asked to join in the singing and dancing, we did this with his teddies instead. He is quite shy to sing or dance out of the comfort of his own home with just us watching so this was the perfect way for him to still take part and enjoy it. Our seats were perfect and he had a great view. His feet were tapping and he couldn’t sit still from excitement. When I asked what his favourite part was, he replied “All of it”

Our local show was held at The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend-On-Sea, Essex.  It’s not the first time hubs and I visited the Cliffs, but it was the first time we have visited with George and fully explored the theatre grounds. It’s modern, comfortable with air conditioning inside the theatre. There’s plenty of seating inside and outside to relax and enjoy a drink or a snack before the show. Upstairs is a pretty cool and comfortable selection of seating booths. Decorated in a funky seaside print. it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the stunning sea views. After the show we took a walk down the steps to the seafront and as the tide had just gone out, we watched lots of tiny crabs making their way back to the water’s edge.

Bing

If you do attend the show, be sure to have a piccie in front of the photo wall. Share it on social media with the hashtag #Bingstar.

Bing

**Disclosure – we were provided with tickets to the show and a goody bag in return for our own review. All opinions are our own and do not affect the integrity of this post **

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Christmas in July – Tomy Toys UK

I recently attended the Tomy Christmas in July Event and it was a really informative and fun day, albeit bizarre when it’s 32 degrees celsius outside. George had great fun testing out all the latest toys. These have either recently been released or shall be available to buy in time for Christmas 2018.

toys

I’m sure most of you have heard of TOMY Toys but how much do your really know about them?

I was lucky enough on the day to listen to a talk from Marketing Lead for Tomy, Tom Ueshima who had travelled over from Japan. He explained how Tomy originated as a Japanese toy manufacturer. After making toys for over 90 years, the company originally manufactured toy aeroplanes.

Whilst Tomy UK was established in 1982, an extension of Takara Tomy in Japan. Tomy is actually ONE of the top FIVE toy companies in the world! I honestly didn’t realise just how much of the market Tomy dominates.

toys

Fundamentally children and the Good Toy Guide

I was also fortunate to meet Amanda from Fundamentally children who have partnered with Tomy. Fundamentally children endorse products listed in The Good Toy Guide.

The guide can help you choose the right toy, app or product for a child based on age, type or skill they will develop. I’m a big believer in children learning through play. I’ve witnessed it with George. I wasn’t aware of this guide. I heard of it but I didn’t understand how valuable it is.

Fundamentally Children is an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play. 

Their vision is;

To help create a world where children are able to fulfil their potential and develop the skills they need to thrive throughout their lives. whilst enjoying a safe, happy and playful childhood.

Tomy is one of the first brands who have committed to submitting every item in their range to the fundamentally children independent evaluation. The good toy guide are selective about who they work with so this is a big tick for Tomy.

In order to be approved for the guide, a toy has to have 9 out of the 15 marks. The toys are tested by children, observed by play workers. By making this commitment Tomy are opening themselves up to scrutiny.

Some of the things the guide look for are what happens the first 5 minutes after a child receives a toy. Following on, the next half an hour do they get bored? Do they share it with their friends? Do they develop a new skill or learn something new. Fundamentally children also organise in Store play days in toy store Smyths and they also attended this years 3ft festival in Chelmsford, Essex (my local).

Fab toys to look out for.

As we were shown around the games room, we recognised a familiar face from our visit to Kidtropolis back in October last year. George instantly remembered the ladies face and sat down to play one of the new must haves for Christmas 2018, Run-Around-hamster. This is available from Smyths for ages 5+ at the RRP £22.99.

toys

Who needs subbuteo when you have robotic football in the form of Soccerborg! After this years World Cup excitement, we are definitely more hyped than usual for footie games. One controller can control up to 4 robots. Each set comes with 2 robots 2 controllers 2 balls, 2 goals.  Age 6+. Available from Asda and Amazon at the RRP £59.99.

toys

Some of the favs that caught the boys eyes were Stinkbomz . You open the capsule to reveal one of 8 Stinkbomz. Each with their own smell and sounds. None of them were as offensively smelling to me as the name suggests, thankfully. RRP £9.99.

I was also embarrassingly excited to see the Thomas and Friends Big Loader set still being made. I remember playing with this when I was younger with my younger nephew or cousin.  This is available for RRP £34.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Toymaster.

Hubs and George (pictured below), had a blast racing remote control Tractors. Whilst I listened to some of the informative talks on throughout the event, George was really engrossed in playing with the hugely realistic Britains farming toys. The detail and quality was spectacular as the vehicles are a 1:32 scale of the originals. Ranging from £21.99-29.99 they really are a worthy investment for any agricultural enthusiasts.

toys

Before attending the Christmas in July event, I hadn’t realised that Tomy have many sub brands including AquaDoodle and Lamaze. We totally need to upgrade our Aquadoodle that we purchased for George’s 1st birthday.

The new Super Rainbow Deluxe reveals a scene underneath and retails at £24.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Argos. George goes crazy for the Aquadoodle Designer Dress advert when it’s on tele.

toys

Another sub brand of Tomy, Kii-Pix, have developed a smartphone picture printer you can use on the go. It’s the perfect pressie for the tween/teen in your life.

They come in pink, blue and black and work without any batteries, wifi or the need to install an app. I could make great use of one of these. See the Christmas tree montage they created below. Along with the fab sushi art to promote the brand.

toys

Moving on to the baby range. If and when our dreams of having another baby happen I am without a doubt getting some of the more modern products from the Boon range. For George we have our eye on the Frog Pod available from Amazon RRP £21.99.

The Lamaze Spin and Explore garden gym adds a new perspective to tummy time. The centre Ladybird, slowly spins round giving your baby their own little fairground in your front room. RRP £38.99 from Argos.

The Lamaze 4-in-1 play gym evolves into a fun teepee for toddlers if you have children of varying ages. It retails at £69.99 from Debenhams.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about our day and I hope I will be bringing to you more posts in collaboration with Tomy.

Do you have any of these products? Are there any that catch your eye?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Review – In The Night Garden Live Show

** Disclosure- In return for this review, I myself have been provided with tickets to the In The Night Garden showdome tour. All opinions are still honest and my own**

Wow, what can I say! We have just been to see the In The Night Garden Live on their magical showdome tour. Originally we were booked to see the Ninky
Nonk show at 12pm in the special Showdome.

However, the traffic was worse travelling from Essex to Richmond than we had anticipated. We arrived 25 minutes after the 45 minute show had started. Stress!

Luckily I had called the customer service number whilst en route, The automated help line advised that should we be running late, to continue our journey. The help line stated that a member of the team would transfer our tickets to a later show on arrival.

I think for parents this is such a forgiving and helpful service. We all know how unpredictable children can be. A lady in front of me was even rescheduling her tickets for another day as her little one was unwell. It was no trouble for the staff and no extra fee.

showdome
On arrival, a member of staff greeted us at the entrance and gave us several options. We chose to attend the next available show, The Pinky Ponk show. Both shows have all your little ones favourite characters but they just tell a different story.

The show that we saw was ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. This is of course until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s Megaphone (ahhh so many innuendos I’m struggling to contain myself).

showdome

The price of the show ticket also included a show guide worth £7. Inside the guide you will find lyrics to all the In The Night Garden favourites. As well as a story and puzzles for your little one to enjoy. The doors to the Showdome open half an hour prior to the show beginning so this guide is great for entertaining your little one whilst you wait for the show to begin.
showdome
Once inside, the narrator voice from the show gives you a regular countdown of 15 minutes, 3 minutes etcetera until the show starts. This builds the excitement levels even further for little ones as he parents all simultaneously say “ooooh”.
showdome
The show itself is a mix of life-size characters and puppets. As the show starts, it isn’t long before Makka Pakka appears on stage. He was full size and I was wondering how big Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy would be when they appeared as obviously they are much larger than Makka Pakka in the television show.

My perfectionist ponderings were soon answered when Makka Pakka left the stage and Iggle Piggle appeared. Makka Pakka then reappeared as a smaller puppet controlled by 3 people using sticks. It was all very clever.

The rest of the show proceeded to follow Makka Pakka wandering round the Night Garden, ensuring he had washed every characters face with his “dirty sponge” as I like to call it. The crew cleverly incorporated bubbles into the washing routine too which got the little ones excited.
showdome
The Showdome itself adds to the wonderment of the show. With projections around the ceiling above the stage. These include falling flowers, stars and a moving Pinky Ponk. Sadly this is the last year the showdome will be touring. Whilst the show is fab and it will be greatly received in a traditional theatre setting, the showdome made it for me.
showdome
The Showdome contains staggered bench style seating so that everyone has a clear view. We have visited other shows such as Paw Patrol live, where the seating was all on one level on the ground and it was very hard if not impossible to see the stage once a tall Dad came along. I love the show dome set up. It feels like you are entering a magical grotto and a doorway to the night garden itself.

It would be such a shame to miss this experience if your little ones are fans of In The Night Garden. I can 100% recommend it. I literally can’t fault it. The show offered snacks and drinks for sale and these were also a lot more reasonable than other shows we attended. A bottle of Coca Cola was £1.50.

You can also get involved in a “Meet the Character” experience for an added cost. There is merchandise and balloons available to purchase. Whilst you wait for the character experience after the show, there are tables with colouring for the children. And a television showing episodes of In The Night Garden. There’s also buggy parking and a microwave to heat up milk or baby food.

For anyone whose child is feeling overwhelmed during the show, you can step away from the seating area. Just behind the seating area,down the steps you and little one can watch the live show on a TV screen until such time they feel settled enough to return.

To be honest though the live show was as chilled as the television show and George took his shoes off and made himself comfy. We usually watch the TV show as part of our bedtime routine and he definitely felt the relaxing vibes despite it being live.
showdome
Last little mention which is probably totally random but I’ve always been a toilet connoisseur. The toilets are unisex which felt strange but it was lovely. Lovely because every cubicle had a little portable loo seat available as well as steps for hand-washing at every sink.

It’s little touches like this that make you feel valued. It feels like the In The Night Garden Live team understand the struggles parents have each day.

There’s plenty of cubicles and no one has to queue because everyone can go in. Often you find the ladies full with a long queue whilst the men’s is not child friendly and empty. There are also adequate baby changing facilities from what I saw at a quick glance. Baby change is in a separate trailer.

George’s verdict: He won’t actually comment but I know he absolutely loved it. Previous shows we’ve attended he’s been reserved, quiet and a little dubious. The In The Night Garden Live show he was constantly smiling, excited, singing! I think in this case, actions speak louder than words.

My verdict:- I felt like the show was made with parents and children in mind. They understand that sometimes we don’t run on time with kids. It’s not a problem. They understand that sometimes there isn’t always a Mummy and a Daddy around for toilet visits. It’s not a problem.

The organisers seem to understand that younger children potentially get overwhelmed easily. This was reflected in the volume of the show not being too loud. The show was well thought out and evolved quickly to ensure the children didn’t get bored. Yes there was some fidgeting but that’s to be expected of any child that’s asked to sit still for 45 minutes. The showdome set up meant it wasn’t a problem. There was room to have a little wander. I literally cannot fault it.

Go see it. The Showdome is touring and currently in Richmond, London until July 1st 2018. It will then be moving onto Birmingham, before ending the tour in Manchester on 19th August 2018.

Book your tickets via the website In The Night Garden Live

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**Closed** Review & Giveaway: Cry Babies doll

**Disclosure – We were provided with a Cry Babies doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**

I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The second of which being this fab Cry Babies doll. Read on to find out more.

We were recently contacted by IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first is a review of the bath time dolls, Bloopies which I have written about here. The second being one of the Cry Babies dolls.

Now there’s a funny story to this. If you have been following the series of My Life: The Comedy Sketch show then this is most definitely worthy of a place.

A while back, I received an email form a representative for IMC Toys asking if we would like to review a Cry Babies doll. George sometimes watches the TV channel Tiny Pop, and the advert for these dolls pops up frequently. George has always expressed an interest in these dolls and did the usual ” I want that” chorus every time the advert comes on.

Once I had confirmed the review, I told George we would be getting a baby, a Cry Baby. He looked at my tummy and I explained that “No”, in fact the Cry Babies doll would not be coming from my tummy but via a delivery from the postman.

A few days later when I arrived to collect George from preschool, his key person called me over for a chat. She said she didn’t like to ask but she had to satisfy her curiosity. George had apparently spent the morning telling all the staff that “Mummy has a baby in her tummy and that he will be getting a brother or sister!”

I thought it was hilarious and had to tell all the ladies that actually no, we were going to be receiving a Cry Babies doll not an actual baby. They may be the “cutest baby, is so real” but I’m not ready to birth one!

Back to the Cry Babies and our baby is called Dotty. She is one of three dolls new to the Cry Babies collection as of April 2018. The recommended retail price is £29.99 available from retailers Argos, Amazon, Asda, B&M and Smyths as well as some independent retailers. Again I would be happier if they were around £25.

When we unpacked Dotty, both myself and George were impressed that the packaging was in the form of a car seat. Dotty is dressed in a spotty dog onesie. Her pink hair and eyebrows confused George slightly but he quickly sussed out how to make her cry and make her happy again.

doll

By removing the Cry Babies hood, you will find a screw cap to remove. This allows you to fill the tear compartment in her head with water. Then replace the cap, and the hood if you so wish. The Cry Babies have a switch inside the back of their babygro that allows you to switch them on, off or on try me mode. Once switched on, you squeeze the button on the back of Cry Babies head.

Following this, whenever her dummy is removed, she cries tears and makes a crying and gurgling noise. The noise wasn’t particularly annoying to myself as another mum had suggested to me. I’m very tolerant of noise and it’s not particularly loud. It’s a bonus that she can be switched off if it does become too intense. Our three cats were not as amused, thinking we were way past the wailing baby phase.

The tears are a bit of a tricky one. With tears coming thick and fast it wasn’t long before our Cry Baby Dotty was sitting in a puddle. Be careful where you allow little one to play with this if you don’t want things getting soaked through. We sat her on a tea towel.

doll

Our verdict:

Mummy’s verdict: The crying noise these dolls make is fairly realistic but other than that I don’t feel a doll who soaks through her clothes with tears whilst sporting pink hair and eyebrows can be described as “the cutest baby, is so real”. That said, I think George was adorable with her. He loved to look after her and put her in a pushchair he has.

George’s verdict: George loved that she cried and taking her dummy out and putting it back in again. Although there was a knack to this and as he is only 3 himself. He struggled at times to push the dummy fully in, which is required to stop her crying. He was so proud of his Cry Baby, he took her in to school for show and tell.

doll

George wasn’t too protective of the idea that she is a baby to be cared for. However and was quick to switch her off if he couldn’t get her dummy in. A lot of this stems from his feelings towards saving batteries though. He was in awe when he saw me rock her and pat her back, noticing that it soothes her without her needing her dummy.

I can imagine these dolls being a helpful tool for any children due to become siblings.

Would we recommend Cry Babies? Most definitely!

IMC Toys Cry Babies and Bloopies Giveaway
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**Closed** Review & Giveaway – Bloopies bath time doll

**Disclosure – We were provided with a Bloopies bath time doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**

I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The first of which being this fab Bloopies bath toy. Read on to find out more.

We were recently contacted by a representative of IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first being one of the Bloopies bath time dolls.

bath

Bloopies are described by IMC as being;

“…the ultimate underwater friends. They squirt water out of their mouth and snorkel when you press their tummy, and if it’s a bubbly bath they will blow bubbles too! There are six different characters to collect, each with their own cute swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel.”

Checkout the company video;

George was excited to receive our package. We opened the large box which our goodies arrived in (which was a toy in itself). What kid doesn’t love a cardboard box!

bath

We discovered our Bloopie Lovely. In her yellow bathing suit with pink snorkel and fins, she was already kitted out for a bathtime of fun. This was just as well because George couldn’t wait to test her out.

Bloopies can squirt water from their mouth. By holding the Bloopie under the water for a few seconds, her mouth fills with water allowing you to then squirt it out by pressing her tummy. The shape of her mouth did rather comically resemble a person vomiting rather than squirting water. It gave us a chuckle when I told George Lovely was being sick in his bath, complete with Mummy made sound effects of course.

If your little one has a bubble bath, the Bloopies also apparently blow bubbles. We are yet to master this feature. I’m one of those mums that can never get to grips with things. I reckon when Daddy gets a turn at bath time he’ll have that feature cracked in no time.

After filling her mouth with water, you can put on her snorkel to squirt water through the pipe although this was a little harder for smaller hands. George is three and a half. I thought this was a fab feature and something a little bit different to other bath toys.

bath

Her flippers mean you can swim her around in the water and she looks realistically dressed for the occasion. We shall also be taking her along to the swimming pool as George is quite reluctant to go swimming after a bad experience. I’m hoping his Bloopies doll will help ease his anxieties over being in the pool.

Bloopies are available for purchase at many major and independant retailers including Amazon, Smyths, B&M and Asda. The recommended retail price is £14.99, although I have seen them for less.

There are six characters available to purchase, each with their own swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel. The swimsuit isn’t easily removable and despite having a velcro fastening on the back it is sewn together at the top which suggests to me it shouldn’t be removed.

Our verdict:-

Mummy’s verdict – I think that Bloopies are a great bathtime toy and would even be a great addition to pack in our swim bag. I am a tiny bit concerned about the potential for mould growth as with most bath toys. However I make sure we squirt all the water out at the end of each use and place it in the airing cupboard to dry. This is my own, over precautious choice though. I also often place all our bath toys in a soak of sterilising solution to remove any mould. With a recommended retail price of £14.99 (as of April 2018) I would say I’d be happier to pay nearer to £9.99. I shall definitely be buying these as gifts for my friends children and nieces and nephews.

George’s verdict: 

When asked what did you love? George responded;

I  loved that she squirts water and I can swim her in the water.

When I asked him what did he NOT love about his Bloopie he said;

I didn’t love her feet (flippers) because she falls over when you try to stand her up.

bath

If you would like to win your very own Bloopies along with a Cry Babies doll which we’ve also recently reviewed, then checkout our fab giveaway below.

Please read the T’s & C’s. Best of Luck.

IMC Toys Cry Babies and Bloopies Giveaway
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