Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Our Exciting time at Winter Wonderland Manchester 2017!

Every year for Christmas, we will visit the Christmas night market and occasionally a Santa's Grotto. This year we did neither, but we went to the Winter Wonderland VIP launch night at Manchester Event City, and we had a blast!

The VIP night started off with performances from Chloe Rose and Winter Wonderland Bear (his name will be revealed on Christmas Eve), where we tried spotting footballers we can recognise!

Although there was a lot of people that night (we were all let in at the same time), the indoor theme park was so big it felt like we were one of the first that went in and there was hardly any queue during the evening. I believe that it'll be much busier during the weekends and when it's open for public, but they are limiting the number of people for each time slot to avoid over crowding and long queues, which is great especially for indoor events that has heating on too.

There were over 70 family rides (you can find out more details in our previous post), a lot of game stalls, a stage with shows throughout the 3 hours we were there, Santa's house as well as an area for food. The Bavarian Hotdog was quite good, so was the Chicken and Black Bean Sauce noodles according to Abby!

The stage:

The kids around the stage looked like they had lots of fun! We completely missed this because there was so much to do, we completely lost track of time!


Our kids felt a bit overwhelmed at the beginning because they had no idea which ride to go on first! There was just so many to choose from! Eventually they settled for an innocent looking teacup ride, which went a bit faster than I thought it would haha! It definitely loosen up the kids and they quickly ran towards the next one.

Although everything is indoor, Event City is so big that some of the rides felt enormous! There are definitely plenty of unique ones that you won't see at outdoor fun fairs, and they are all covered by your entrance ticket so you can go on as many as you want, and as many times as you fancy!

For Toddlers:

There are rides for different age groups (even adults!), although majority aren't really suitable for very young ones. However, Winter Wonderland has included at least 2 play areas for toddlers so they won't feel left out. There is a chill out zone and an indoor beach area they can play in, and there are plenty of fun shows on the stage that is suitable for them too.

Game Stalls:

Before we went in, I thought, since there are over 70 family rides, we should be able to avoid game stalls, but that was when I was expecting the usual game stalls from outdoor fun fairs, not like the ones we saw at Winter Wonderland!

These stalls are magical, they called out to all of us and we just couldn't resist them! The stalls are bigger, the prizes are better, and everyone is a winner! You can even join up your wins to win something bigger!

I was so tempted to grab a gingerbread man for myself, but kids come first, and they each hooked a present from one of the the Hook a Duck stall that aren't just any rubbish toy that they would normally forget about! It's been over a week now and both are still playing with their wins!

Hubby had a lot of fun too at the Shoot the Snowmen stall (I know!) as well and got the kids a massive emoji beanbag to bring home. We have never ever won anything this big, and it was only £3.50 for 15 goes, with prizes ranging from 1 shot to 14 shots (I think), so again, everyone is a winner, and you can collect your wins for the bigger prizes. You can't get that in other theme parks!

Santa's House:

I honestly though it's just an ordinary Santa's Grotto, although it looked longer than I expected. But when we got inside, we realised that it's the whole house! There was a living room, dining room, bedroom, and Mrs. Claus' kitchen too, all amazingly decorated! I don't think you'll get many opportunity to take a picture with Mrs. Claus, so if you want to make this year's Christmas extra special, make sure you visit Winter Wonderland Manchester by 24th December (they are open until January but Santa and Mrs. Claus won't be there anymore)!

You will be taking a picture with Santa as well of course, and have an opportunity to turn the picture into a shaker frame (not the ordinary snowglobe) or other picture merchandises. We kind of regretted not going for the shaker (we just went for the photo on its own) because the rectangle shaker looks really pretty and has little Christmas charms floating inside as well as the snow.

Food Court and other Facilities:

We were having so much fun we completely forgot about dinner! By the time we thought about sitting down for food it was already 9pm (way past bedtime haha)! The food was delicious, and we had to have slush of course, with multiple flavours to choose from! There is also ice-cream but we didn't get that far.

There are other facilities as well including a quiet room, cloak room and baby changing room. Security is tight but if you want to get in faster, make sure you don't bring any bags that is larger than an A4 size with you. Change for the cloak room will be helpful too because it's fairly warm inside.

I think we would have enjoyed it more if we didn't have school the next day to think about, so for those who are going during the weekends or school holiday, do make the most of it! There are plenty of unique rides and game stalls that are hard to resist, and the kids will definitely have a fantastic time there!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Christmas Countdown with John Adams Toys eZee Beads Studio Carry Case Set

One of our favourite crafting material is eZee Beads by John Adams' Toys. We have tried other similar ones before but eZee Beads combines some of the better features that makes us prefer them more, and they come with very useful tools too!

The only problem we ever had was storage for the beads, so we were extremely excited for the opportunity to review eZee Beads' Studio Carry Case set as it has 10 compartments to store the beads, compartments to store the water spray and tool, as well as all the templates and design board! And it can be carried around without the beads going everywhere so you can craft while you are away!

We are currently using the beads and templates that comes with the carry case, as well as additional eZee Beads that we already have to create many eZee Beads Christmas hanging decorations for our 12 days of Christmas countdown. There are still 3 more designs we will be publishing on social media, but I'd love to show you what we think about the studio carry case so far!

John Adams' Toys eZee Beads Studio Carry Case set (RRP £22.99, suitable for age 5 years +) comes with:

  • Carry Case (10 eZee Beads storage compartments, water sprayer compartment, bead tool compartment, design cards and design board storage, removable lid)
  • Over 1000 eZee Beads (1 packet of white, orange, yellow, purple, light pink, pink, light green and black, and 2 packets each of light blue and red)
  • Water Spray Bottle
  • Bead Tool
  • design board
  • 4 design cards (12 templates)
  • Instructions

The carry case is slanted so that you can comfortably craft on the case. Just make sure you remove the design card underneath the design board before you spray water or the card will stick to the board!

To make it more convenient to craft using the carry case, the lid is removable, but don't worry as the lid clicks onto the case well so the beads will stay in their compartments even when it's propped up straight!

We love how some of the templates can be used for Christmas as well (snowflake and Christmas tree), so it really is perfect as a Christmas gift! For our 12 days of Christmas Christmas countdown, we used a couple of the templates, as well as freestyling the rest. We even designed a couple without the design board (we place them on our silicone crafting mats), they are that versatile! Here are our first 9 designs:

My favourite had to be Abby's Santa, she didn't have a template for it at all, so I was well impressed with it!

Overall we absolutely love the eZee Beads Studio Carry Case. It's brilliant as a storage (no more mixed up beads in the box!), you can craft on it, and carry everything neatly inside the case! It's very durable, the bead tool helps pick up beads from their compartments, and a bottle of water is plenty to spray for many designs, so you can do a lot with them even if you aren't home!

A couple of the templates are Christmas themed, and although we didn't use the other templates for our Christmas countdown, we do love them all (especially the cupcake and vase!), so we'll be looking forward to crafting them as well.

Stay tuned for our last 3 eZee Beads Christmas ornaments on social media!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Nintendo Presents: New Style Boutique 3 - Styling Star

I've been looking forward to playing the new Nintendo Presents: New Style Boutique 3 for Nintendo 3DS, as I really enjoyed playing Style Boutique 2 but dreaded writing this post because I can't figure out how to take better screenshots of the game, now that Miiverse has been removed (it allowed me to save screen captures for both the main and touch screens in their album). The few pictures I came up with really doesn't do the game justice.

The good news is that you can trial the game yourself by downloading a free demo from Nintendo eShop, and that you can see better pictures from the official website here.

I haven't managed to go far enough in the game to experience all the new features, but I still want to share my experience so far, and what I think about the game. It is safe to say that I will be playing more of it though, and it's definitely a great game for those who likes to play dress ups.

Nintendo Presents: New Style Boutique 3 - Styling Star (RRP £34.99, pegi 3) is a single player Nintendo 3DS game. Player play as a young fashionista who just took over her uncle's boutique. You will be dressing up customers to suit their different styles and requests, maintaining the boutique, as well as dressing up stars (including MewTuber!) in the making.

Character Creation and Apartment:
Like in the previous games in the series, players start with creating their own character. You can change the brow shape, hair, nails and makeup in the game later on as well.

The clothing style you choose at the beginning will give you access to accessories and items (such as nail polish and makeup, as well as clothes) from the style in the initial stage that you can use to dress your character up with.

You can now change the layout of your apartment!

Tutorial Stage and Story:
Players will then take over the boutique and spend the first few game days (they are very short but will get longer as the game proceeds) to get familiar with dressing up customers and learning the game features.

Although I love the game play, I found that the tutorial is a bit stretched and the story develops much slower than in Style Boutique 2. You'll be dressing up quite a few customers before the story unfolds and you finally realise that there is a story instead of just dressing up different customers; that you have other jobs as well to make your life much more interesting. You'll also learn that the quiet town won't stay quiet forever, and you can actually shop for things to decorate your home and shop.

Once things started rolling, the game is much more fun and interesting to play. I have been dressing a couple of rising stars already for their debute album and performance, which gave me a good amount of money to spend on (money is definitely more important in this game than in Style Boutique 2). New shops started opening, and I'm now trying to attract the nail and hair salon owners to open shop in our town (it's about time that I can finally change my hair style to match my clothes!).

I haven't encountered men fashion yet, which will be very interesting as I can definitely do with exploring new styles so I can dress my own real life doll (my son!).

Game Features Old and New:
Nintendo has given some original game features a new look and added more to Style Boutique 3. For example, instead of featuring customers' silhouettes on the touch screen, showing you where they are standing in the shop, and placing a star next to them to indicate if they are special customers (story related), they are now showing customers' profile instead (and no indication if it's a story related customer), and you can scroll left or right to select the next customer.

I like it that they don't show who the special customers are, so that you can find it out yourself, but I do prefer the previous way of showing your customer choices as it shows where they stand in the shop, which allows me to relate to being a shop owner looking at my shop more.

New feature wise, you now have an option to tell the customer that you will stock up on clothes that fit their request instead of saying sorry and sending them away! It's definitely more professional and it gives you an opportunity to go shopping for the perfect outfit that will definitely sell too.

The only problem is that it's harder for me to stay on top of my cash flow! I might have stocked up on clothes, leaving me little cash to help dress the customer (especially the high end clothes!), or after dressing a customer up with new clothes, I couldn't stock up on clothes that the shop is seriously lacking.

One thing for sure is that after playing the game, you'll gain some great finance management skills!

Clothes and Design your Own:
Clothes wise there are a lot of new styles that fits the current trend, although I still find myself going back to the clothes that I loved from Style Boutique 2.

Like previous games in the series, you'll be able to design your own items at the shop. I love this updated feature in Style Boutique 3, with more things you can design, and I love how my shop's paper bag looks!

Menu and Achievements:
Characters can keep up to date with their smartphone (aka menu), and you can now access "MewTube" as well to check out what the top Mewtubers are doing (who you'll be styling too).

At the end of each game day, you will see an overview of what you have done each day. I think Stylist points and rank is new, as well as earning titles (achievements), although I'm not sure what they really do.

Other things I've mentioned before on our Christmas Gifts Guide are:

  • Over 20,000 items for you to match, with lots that are new to Style Boutique 3
  • You can unlock special items using amiibo characters
  • Dress celebrities in the making and by chosing their styles, you can unlock the different songs they will perform on stage, which you can use in your shop too. 
  • The 15 pop songs included in the game are original and specifically written and recorded for the game!

As mentioned before, I haven't gone far in the game, but the more I play the more I like it. It was just at the beginning things were going a bit slow and repetitive. I'm now looking forward to unlock all the features and shops in town, see what the men fashion is all about as well as completing the story line.

It's a great game if you love playing dress up, and it's also a great way for you to pair up a lovely outfit that you might just be able to replicate in real life!

Definitely a game for the fashionistas!