Our little man is obsessed with Jamie Oliver – to the point where he watches 30 Minute Meals instead of ABC2 every morning… and if Jamie isn’t on telly he knows where to find it on the PVR. Seriously, for a 4 year old that’s kind of impressive.

His love of everything Jamie is also super useful (especially at a time when the threat of not being able to go to Tokyo is wearing off). We pick food from Jamie’s cookbooks (ok, sometimes I lie and just say it’s from Jamie) and he tries everything on his plate. We shop at Woolworths and if Jamie’s face (which, let’s face it is everywhere) is anywhere near a vegetable, he asks to try it… and don’t get me started on how accommodating Dex is about any food from Jamie Oliver’s new Created with Jamie range at woolies, it has been a lifesaver over the past few weeks while we have all been sick because I’m totally not up to the effort of cooking and I know I can get my sick boy to eat just about anything if it has Jamie’s picture on it. (I know, I know – I am also a little disturbed by his brand consciousness and loyalty at this age but it makes life easier so I’m dealing and at least it’s not Moshi Monsters or something more annoying).

Actually, do get me started. I’m (overall) pretty impressed with the Created with Jamie range. At a time where slow cooking is absolutely king in our busy lives his Shawarma especially has become a massive favourite in this house – I don’t have to marinate it myself and it has about the same cost as a similar piece of meat**. It’s also enough to last two days plus for my little family of three – on day one we shred it straight from the slow cooker and serve it with salad and wraps, on day two it’s on pizza with spinach & mushroom, all drizzled with Greek yoghurt and scattered with fresh baby lettuce leaves, and, if there’s anything left on day three it goes into the sandwiches.

I’m a bit of a cheat and don’t follow Jamie’s instructions – for us it goes into the slow cooker on auto when I leave the house at 8:30 and comes out for shredding when I get in and it is awesome. Same thing goes for the lamb shoulder. We weren’t that impressed with the butterfly beef cooked as per Jamie’s instructions. Probably because I like my beef rare but close to blue and hubby likes his medium rare leaving a constant and annoying cooking issue best solved by individual stakes but I am thinking that slow cooked could work for that as well somehow. We’ve even tasted some of the smashing chicken varieties which were good with salad but aren’t our preference this time of year where I’m all about chucking things into the slow cooker so I barely need to cook when I get in. 30 Minute Meals? 5 minute meals is more my speed these days.

**When I bought the Jamie lamb shoulder I went and had a look at the Woolies lamb shoulder and the difference in price was negligible for the same size meat and the extra dollar or so overall was SO worth me being able to chuck it in the slow cooker and forget about it. I could whinge here about it not being organic but I pay a hell of a lot more for the same meat at the organic butchers and, let’s face it, eating 100% organic is beyond most household budgets (including my own!).

Sadly, I am disappointed with the pre-packaged sweet items from Jamie but I think that says more about my aversion to people putting fruit in food than anything else. His brownies were ok served warm with fresh cream until I hit some sort of fruit and stopped eating. I don’t get it, why ruin a perfectly good brownie by adding fruit to it? Cherries and cranberries? No thanks, I don’t want to be reminded of health food when I eat a gooey sugar laden treat. I know, it seems like a crazy aversion but pineapple on pizza is disgusting, why on earth would you add sultanas to anything, especially rice or couscous? There are exceptions to this rule but I’m not even a fan of adding fruit to salads, lettuce and orange together just weirds me out!

JamieNow unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or stopped shopping at Woolies) there’s no way you have missed the latest collectors craze – Jamie’s Garden book, stickers and merchandise.

This is actually one I’m behind 100% even if it does drive me wild that I can’t just buy the stickers. Obviously, the Jamie love from Dex has meant that on day one our shopping trolley contained the book, a toy, gardening tools for the pitiful balcony garden we neglect and other assorted bits and pieces so when the lovely PR ladies behind the craze sent us out a book and some goodies to try (sadly the baked ones I wasn’t a fan of). I decided to give away the book and all extra stickers we collect.

Last time we ended up with one full set of 40-odd cards and 135 assorted extras. This time I haven’t even opened the stickers so that I don’t have to deal with the ever-present whining about why he doesn’t have this sticker or that and the collecting period isn’t over yet so the giveaway is for: 1 x Jamie sticker book, #1 x Superhero toy and all of our leftover stickers, however many that may be!.

To enter simply comment below and tell me your favourite winter slow cooker recipe. Extra entries for liking our Facebook page or sharing the giveaway (twitter, facebook, g+), just leave a comment to for each extra option.

Prize will be drawn July 7.

#Obviously due to recall I’m no longer including the toy

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I find that when I shop online (which I do, a LOT) I’m often drawn to the same stores over and over again and more often than not the stores that I return to are those that stock a good portion of the products I already own and use… I think there’s something comforting about finding a store that stocks products you already love, it makes you feel that the people behind it are your kind of people and you know that the products they pick are worth trying.

That’s certainly true of online store Finlee and Me, the brainchild of Brisbane based mum Angela Henderson who is a self-confessed baby and toddler “cool hunter” which means she spends her time finding amazing products to share with Aussie mums (and mums to be). Her online store is packed full of products I have in my home, many that I’ve reviewed here previously and some that I’ve had on my ‘if we ever have another child’ list for a long time, like the Fairy Door that Angela recently sent us for review and I’d always imagined buying if we had a girl.

Pink Fairy DoorI’ve wanted to get a Fairy Door for ever – more for me I suspect than for Dexter who would much rather talk about dinosaurs and cars than fairies so I was more than a little surprised when Angela sent this door with my adorable niece in mind and my son decided that he must have one as well. My niece turned 4 just before Christmas and the gorgeous pink fairy door was put aside for her birthday, she loves it and has been creating an awful lot of drawings (‘letters’) for the fairies.

After weeks of hearing Dex tell everyone who would listen (including four different Santa’s) that he wanted a fairy door for Christmas I finally caved and got him one as well. It’s been funny to watch how differently Dex and my niece approach their doors. For Dexter who turned 4 in mid-January, the fairy door is an added layer of protection – the fairies have joined his dinosaurs and Toothless the dragon in the very important task of keeping his room safe at night. He’s not into leaving them letters but occasionally his toys ‘talk’ to the door. Adorable in his own way and so very different from my niece who talks to the fairies and leaves them letters, wishing they would come out and play with her.

toddlercardDexter didn’t miss out – we have special play date time every week, time put aside to play together and we’ve been loving the Activity Card Set that Angela sent us. Some of the activities are a little young for Dexter and when I come across these I put them aside for a younger family member but as a whole it’s been a great way for us to remind us of activities and find new ways to play. I keep a couple of cards in my handbag and the rest in a box at home and at play time or for a reward Dex picks a card and we do the activity. When Dexter was younger I had a book full of activities but the cards are a much better prompt – small, portable and something he can pick himself. There are some great activity sets at Finlee and Me, including 52 fun things to do on a plane which is an essential for anyone contemplating a long flight with little ones.

balloon ballDex is also a huge fan of the Balloon Ball, he’s not allowed to use a ball inside the house so we often blow up a balloon for in-house play. Which is great until it hits the stippled ceiling and either bursts or starts to leak. The balloon ball allows us to play inside without fear of breaking something or having the balloon burst. We’ve had one for a while and it’s so handy, it folds down flat and is easily popped into your handbag and all you need to do when you want to play is put a balloon into the ball and blow it up. All of the kids in our family love balloon balls, from the babies to the school kids.

There’s some great baby items at Finlee and Me as well – my infant cousin loves the Baby Soft Sensory Box we were sent and I have to confess to wanting to collect all of these fantastic Idea Boxes.

Thanks to Finlee and Me I have a fantastic prize pack containing a Fairy Door, a Baby Soft Sensory Box, a Balloon Ball and the 52 Activities for You and Your Toddler activity card set to give away. To enter simply visit Finlee and Me then come back here and leave a comment to tell me in 50 words or less which product(s) from the store your kid(s) would love and why then use the rafflecopter form below to validate your entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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