Friday, 18 July 2014

Chocolate Soreen Flapjacks!


With the summer holidays almost upon us, I'm always looking for tasty treats which are simple to bake and tasty to eat to keep the boys full at tea-time! I've had fun baking with Soreen in the past, and they have just made a great video showing how easy it is to make Chocolate Soreen Flapjacks! These looks so tasty, and easy to make with my boys over the holiday! Check out the video and let me know if you try the recipe out for yourself!




Ms G xx

Disclaimer: I am sharing this video as I think it is of interest to my readers, this post has not been financially compensated. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Great Pet Ideas for Children!

Once kids reach around 5 or 6 years of age, they may express a desire to have a live cuddly companion around the home. So when the time comes, what kind of pet should you go for? Adding a pet to your many responsibilities at home can be a challenge, but the outcome is well worth it.

The following pets are ideal for kids of any age - each one providing something your children can treasure and bond with as they grow. Take a look at these great pet ideas to help you make an affordable and appropriate choice for your child.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are very friendly and can be a little shy at first but this is what makes them such loving and affectionate pets as they become more relaxed with you. Aside from cleaning out their cage every week or so, they require very little maintenance (welcome news to young families!). Keep in mind that guinea pigs don’t like to be alone so it may be a good idea to keep two at a time. This works out especially great with two kids since each one can learn to care for their pet on an individual basis.

Cats

Gifting your young child with a kitten is maybe one of the best pets you can pair them with. As well as giving them something they can bond with long into adolescence, cats will make less work for you since they’re more independent than most pets.

Kittens can be hugely playful and energetic which is just what your kids crave in their formative years, but take care to supervise them if your children are particularly young. Some cats may have a lower tolerance than others depending on their personality so take care when choosing your first cat.

Fish

Fish can make a great first pet for younger children since taking care of them is fairly low maintenance. Kids can enjoy feeding them and generally observing them in the tank. Fish are known to promote a calm and soothing effect on owners too so this is a huge plus for any hyperactive little ones!
Also, unlike other common pets, fish don’t come with any vet bills or visits. You just need to make sure that the tank is well equipped to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for the fish and ensure that they are fed regularly. Encourage your child to feed them routinely so they won’t forget, for example, before breakfast each morning

Disclaimer: This post was provided for me by Victoria Sharpe, the thoughts and opinions do not necessarily reflect my own.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thai Restaurant Southampton, Kuti's Royal Thai Pier.


A restaurant in Southampton with a view of the water is a rarity!  Kuti's Royal Thai Pier is situated adjacent to the Red Funnel terminal, and is within an easy walk of the main shopping area. I adore Thai food, and had heard several people talking about how good the food was, so when we were invited to try the restaurant out I jumped at the chance.
Kuti's Southampton
Kuti's Southampton
We dined on a Thursday evening, and the restaurant was serving to a good mixture of couples and groups of friends. The atmosphere was friendly, and relaxed - the ideal venue for us to enjoy a quiet meal for two! The view from my seat was lovely, and I confess I was rather in awe watching the Red Funnel dock!

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View from Kuti's over Southampton water

The waiting staff were delightful, friendly without being over demanding and offered help with the menu when I struggled to decide which side would compliment the main the best! The food itself was beautifully presented, I ordered the tempura vegetables as my starter, and they arrived adorned with this beautifully carved carrot butterfly;
Carrot Butterfly - Kuti's Southampton
Carrot Butterfly - Kuti's Southampton
The tempura vegetables were impressive, a generous serving, and cooked to perfection, I can honestly say that they were the best I have eaten, and as I love tempura vegetables that is impressive!
Kuti's Tempura Vegetable Starter
Mr G opted for dim sum, he commented on the beautiful presentation and said they tasted divine - so divine that he would not share.. though he was happy to taste test my tempura vegetables.. I'm not grumpy about this honest..(maybe a little bit grumpy..)
Kuti's Dim Sum
Kuti's Dim Sum
The main course came with only a short delay, which was lovely as often  I find the delay between courses too long ! We ordered Phad Thai, Duck on a sizzling platter and Egg fried rice. The duck looked impressive as it was placed onto the table sizzling noisily, and I can tell you it was the most succulent and delicious dish!
Kuti's Duck on a sizzling platter.
Kuti's Duck on a sizzling platter.
The egg fried rice was beautifully cooked, it was tasty and light, although fried it had no greasy texture, it complimented the duck dish perfectly! The Phad thai was served cleverly, with the nuts and lemon served on the side of the dish, so you could add if you wanted or leave if (like me) you don't like the crunchiness of nuts mixed into the dish, though I enjoyed the Phad Thai, it wasn't quite as good as I had hoped.
When we finished, we weren't hurried to decide whether we wanted desert, and this meant we had a lovely chat and then decided that we did indeed want desert (hey, I'm 7 months pregnant..if I don't have a great excuse for desert now when would I?!).
I decided to go for the Thai style pineapple fritters, they were divine and as I am sat here typing this my mouth is watering ever so slightly! Cooked to perfection, they smelt as sweet as doughnuts with the wonderful tangy hit of pineapple! The vanilla ice-cream which accompanied the fritters was rich and creamy to - it was a truly luxurious desert!
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Kuti's Pineapple Fritters

Mr G opted for a chocolate cake, which arrived as an enormous portion, looked fabulous and he admitted was absolutely beautiful, totally delicious and in truth the portion was so generous he struggled to finish it.. (luckily I was on hand to assist - it was a fabulous slice of cake!). Sadly, the image I have taken doesn't do this chocolate cake desert justice, but I assure you if you love chocolate cake - this is for you! It's laden with chocolate!!
Kuti's Deserts
Kuti's Deserts
We will definitely be returning to visit Kuti's Thai Royal Pier again, the food was fabulous and the relaxed friendly environment was the ideal place for either a romantic meal for two, or a catch up with friends. They offer a great value lunch menu too, with two courses for £9.95. There is free parking directly outside, or for very little cost in the Mayflower park car park adjacent. Whether you are a Southampton resident, just visiting the city, or passing through (perhaps on your way to a cruise..) I would recommend a visit to Kuti's Thai Royal Pier.


Disclaimer > We received £40 towards the cost of the meal in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Little Big Songs - Pre-School Music CD


Singing is the easiest way to get children involved in making music, most of us probably remember singing with family or at play group from an early age. Don't panic if you feel you can't sing, if you enjoy it you will encourage your children to enjoy it. Singing is very personal, and I've often heard over the years "I can't sing as I'm embarrassed by what people might think" and often from the people with lovely singing voices. 

So, what can you sing with small children? I've already explained my horror as my children started singing songs from the radio, thankfully getting certain lyrics totally wrong! However it's inevitable that children sing what they hear frequently! If you want more child appropriate songs, without resorting to the golden oldie fail safe nursery rhymes or songs from children's tv, check out the fabulous CD Little Big Songs by Jerry & Co. The songs are all about everyday experiences, e.g. The day we moved, Ooh that's lovely grub; and are sung by a mix of a gentle adult voice and children's voices. 



Complete with a little book of lyrics, you can sing a long to your hearts content! I have been singing Scrub-a-Dub with my children on a daily basis, it has a simple melody which is catchy and easy to remember, plus it does seem to encourage small children who are reluctant to wash to actually enjoy bath time! The CD is perfect for people who want to encourage their children to be musical in a very simple and positive way! Whether you use it to sing-a-long in the car, or want to be more ambitious and create actions to go with songs this is the perfect pre-school music CD! There are a range of songs which you can watch as a video with beautiful illustrations depicting the story line of the song.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the CD for the purposes of an honest review, all thoughts and experiences are my own. 

Pampering Gifts for Dad this Father's Day.


Sometimes it is hard to choose a gift for Dad on Father's Day, I know my own Father is incredibly hard to buy for as he always likes any present we get him. Mr G is no different, he will always smile and make a fuss of the boys - even when they bought him an Ironman toy one year! This year how about showing your Dad (or the special man in your/your children's life) some TLC with Radox and Dove for men?



We were sent this fabulous selection for Mr G to try out, now he won't admit to enjoying a bit of pampering, but seriously Mr G, I know you "borrow" my face wash and moisturiser from time to time! Mr G is a big fan of Radox already, he loves a good soak in the stress relieving bubbles and swears he does feel more chilled out after a long soak in them - these will be perfect for any Dad feeling the pressure over the World Cup matches! The Shower & Shampoo Mr G described as refreshing!




The biggest hit had to be the Dove Men + Care, Mr G described the face wash as very luxurious, he said it was very rich to apply and lathered up in a way which left his skin feeling moisturised. I can vouch for his skin smelling lovely after he'd used it to! The moisturiser absorbs quickly, and works well to leave his skin soft, he will definitely continue to use the Dove for men products! I think they're great value, and would make a lovely gift for any man needing a little TLC for Father's Day or to de-stress from the world cup! 




Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Hospital Bag Essentials.. 30weeks Pregnant!


Eek...30 weeks pregnant, I'm in the final countdown, and it is time to get organised! I think I am fairly organised for baby's arrival, but for myself? Erm.. no..my organisation stops at having the baby's moses basket sorted in honesty! 





So.. I'm making a list..and sharing it with you incase I have missed something vital! I'm writing this post as part of my role as a bras4mums ambassador, but all thoughts and items on the list based on my own thoughts and opinions!

Hospital Bag - for me!

  • A Bag.. yes I need to get a holdall!
  • Maternity Pads (I bought these on offer from Boots!)
  • 3 pairs of pants, I like the look of these maternity pants.
  • Black yoga trousers
  • 2 Vests/Camisoles
  • 1 Cardigan
  • Flipflops (to use in the shower after giving birth)
  • Moisturiser 
  • Facial Water Spritzer (these are great while in labour to refresh you without fuss!)
  • Hair brush
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush and Paste (incase they keep me in..)
  • Night dress, I have a great Hotmilk nightdress like this one which is designed for breastfeeding but looks good enough to be seen out in!
  • Nursing Bra, I have a couple of nursing bras, but I am about to purchase this one from bras4mums after a discussion with the lovely bra lady herself TJ, you can read about my struggle with my favourite bra.
  • Breast Pads 
  • MP3 player, I am not going to bother making a playlist this time as last time I was in so much discomfort I stuck it on random and Rudebox was playing as I was pushing..I would have laughed but I was so mortified that I even had that song on my MP3!
  • Socks.. I always have cold feet!
  • Medication, I am on long term meds, so I need to remember to pack them!
  • Mobile Phone
  • Purse with change.

Ok so what am I forgetting for *my* hospital bag?! Help!

 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

EBody - Review


After the ecloth event I attended last month, I was sent some products to try out, and a couple of these were from the EBody range I was excited as I tend to end up with a house full of damp towels and flannels, and in the winter they take hours to dry!


The hand towel is super soft, and really absorbant! I would recommend washing it before you use it though, as I did notice a few bits of fluff come off on the first use! It really dried hands well, and it never got that cold soggy wet towel feeling! The towel is also lots lighter than a normal towel, so ideal for travelling with! We're so impressed we've decided to order two of the bath towels!

The Face Cleansing Mitt, I loved the idea of this, you put your hand inside the mitt, add a little of your normal cleanser and away you go. Sadly, I was unimpressed, it worked ok, but no better than a flannel. It is incredibly soft, so may be great if you have super sensitive skin, but it's not something I would use - unless travelling when it again is so light it would be ideal to pack if you're on a limited luggage flight.

By far my favourite product, was the hair turban, I LOVE this! I have very long thick hair, and a towel drying my hair is a nuisance - and not great for it either! The hair turban allows you to sling your wet hair into it, and then carry on getting dressed, your hair is partially dried when you take the turban off, and while it was quite wet and soggy when I took it off my hair, it dried very quickly! This is my new must have hair product, I couldn't be without it! Sorry about the dismal selfie, but I wanted to show the waffle fabric off!



Disclaimer: I was sent the EBody products to give an honest opinion on them, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated or asked to write this review.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Garden thriftiness! #magpiemonday


The sun was shining brightly, and the carboots were heaving..so our Sunday morning started in style! We are slowly doing up our garden, and I have been desperate to find garden furniture but with a minimal budget I have a minimal choice. Being pregnant, the fabric and metal framed furniture has not appealed, as I fear I will land on the floor..(ok I may not have gained that much weight, but I feel as though I have!) and the sturdier furniture is more than my budget will stretch to at the moment! So it was with huge excitement I spotted this very ordinary plastic garden chair, and with great glee I handed over £4.50! The chair is sturdy and reclines, best bit...I saw a brand new cushion which will fit it perfectly at a charity shop on Friday so I'm hoping it might still be there later today! 





I went on to buy two of these for 50pence each..



They're insulated coca-cola glasses, with a lid and slide top so you don't have to worry about a) spillages or b) bugs in the glass! They were sealed and brand new, and while I've never been on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships I can recline on my new chair sipping an ice cold drink pretending to be sailing away somewhere exotic all from the comfort of my garden!

Linking up with the lovely Liz for Magpie Monday, do check it out if you love a thrifty bargain! 

Ms G x



Friday, 30 May 2014

Let's Make Music - 1



I'm from a musical background, and believe it's important for children to both enjoy making and appreciating music. I want my boys to make there own decisions on whether they like the sounds of music and talk about why. I try to expose them to an ecletic variety of musical styles and encourage them to respond - this may be simply by dancing along! This half-term, I have been subjected to a duet of the boys version of Gangnam style.."Hey....sixty ladies.." and while I was horrified at their song choice I was impressed with how in in tune they were. Boo has been desperate to learn to read music for a while, but I remember vivdly being pushed to learn to read music at a very early age (I could read music before I could read words..) and it's not a memory I look back on fondly.This half term, his persistance and nagging to learn to read music so he can learn to play an instrument has paid off, and I gave in, gently introducing him to the musical alphabet and looking at a picture of a piano keyboard she's worked out which way is "up" and "down".
To make things more interesting - especially for E who at 3 loves making music but isn't too interested in the how to.. we decided to make our own instruments. Most parents have experimented handing their children pots and pans with a wooden spoon, I still do if I need 10minutes to do the washing up! I asked Boo what we should try making, his reply that thing the bald man plays, looking at him blankly I finally worked out he was referring to Richard O'Brien..this video is to blame..






Yes, OK the love of this song is entirely my fault, but come on it does make you want to join in with the dance right?! Unphased, we grabbed a couple of old boxes (we used an egg carton lid) and some elastic bands. If you had more patience you could decorate the box so it looked more attractive than our efforts, but simply pulling the elastic bands over the box (and warning the boys not to "play" it near their face incase of elastic band pinging!) made a great and super simple instrument.




We experimented with what happens when you tighten the bands, move them or use thicker elastic bands. We then talked about pitch, which band made the low sound or the high sound! From there we moved on to talking about what happens if we used something to hit the bands rather than pluck the bands..I then started complicated things by talking about the workings of a piano and had to stop as I could see two blank faces looking back at me.. Still.. the boys are on their way to learning more about music and instruments and I've not spent money on plastic toy instruments which play for them..! (Or been subjected to a recorder..though that is due to recommence next week..!) My plan is weekly to encourage a musical activity for all of us, which will be educational and fun, and I will share it on the - with better images (and maybe a video?!) Do you make music with your children? How do you make it fun?

Ms G x


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

WIN a Personalised Reading Book for your child!


Father's Day is almost upon us and I'm delighted to be able to offer one reader the chance to Win a "My Dad.." love2read personalised book! Just imagine Dad (or Grandad's!) face when he sees himself as the star of the bedtime story! 



Love2read enable you to use ten photos and text to say simple phrases ideal for youngsters learning to read - e.g. "My Dad likes cars.." There are lots of templates to choose from, you just select one, and follow the simple instructions to upload 10 photos and simple text! You can even make the name of the book more personal "My Dad", "My Daddy..", "Our Dad.." "My Hero.." to name a few!



Having reviewed a couple of love2read books, I can safely say that they are really lovely and each book we have received has been treasured by all the family! So this would be a fabulous Father's Day gift which will be enjoyed for years to come! All Father's Day orders need to be placed by Tuesday 10th June to ensure they arrive on time check out the website for further information; www.love2read.co.uk
 



Want to enter? Follow the steps on rafflecopter below!




a Rafflecopter giveaway




  Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/personalised-reading-book-fathers-day#sthash.Y9S9Axzo.dpuf

28 weeks Pregnant..


28 weeks, I can barely believe it, after the previous losses I am almost prepared to admit that I may be holding a baby in my arms at the end of this. I am not going to lie, this pregnancy has been mentally quite tough, and I perhaps haven't been very kind to myself. I've looked for reasons for previous losses, and all of the reasons (however daft) have pointed back to me, whether it be my weight, my inclination to drink quite a lot in my twenties or my stress levels. While I realise that I'm not to blame for things going wrong, it has taken me til now to accept that sometimes crap just happens, and no amount of me feeling bad about things is going to help. 
I guess it doesn't help that my midwife is not the most supportive woman in the world, she perceives me as an experience mother, who she just goes through the motions with. That's lovely, but actually I'm looking for a little reassurance, and when I mention a previous traumatic birth, telling me "you've picked the WORST month to have a baby then haven't you" isn't exactly helpful. To be honest, I don't think any month is a good month to have a baby, the hospitals are always understaffed and people are always having babies.. < I started to write quite a politically hinged arguement here, and have deleted it as that's not for this blog at this time.. > 

So, how am I feeling? Today I am shattered, I have been awake since 2.40am with my 3 yr old, who is now asleep on the floor.. I should have a nap myself but the 5 yr old doesn't want me to as he doesn't like being "alone" bless him. So I am sat armed with a fizzy orange drink and various foods to keep my fuelled for the time being.. This evening I am having an anti-d injection (given to rhesus negative pregnant ladies) after all the muddle with anti-bodies found in my booking bloods, it turns out that I don't have anti-bodies anymore and I can have the anti-d. I have to be honest, the anti-d stings, I once made the mistake of letting them put it in the muscle in my arm instead of my bum..never ever again! It hurt so much I had to fight back tears! I think being tired isn't going to help me to deal with the stinging today..and I fear I may cry just by being so tired. Actually, this week I have cried several times, mostly due to being tired and unable to do what I was trying to do, that and I seem to have encountered several idiots who seem to enjoy making life difficult! 

Bump, I have started to count the kicks using a kick counter on my pregnancy app, baby seems to kick hugely around the time I want to go to bed, so I use the kick counter then, we seem to be getting 10 kicks in 3 or 4 minutes so all is well at the moment, and I do like the reassurance of baby moving, even though it is sometimes quite uncomfortable! My rain coat barely does up now, but I'm determined with 3months to go I'm now not going to replace it, so I hope that the weather dries up a bit, else I may be walking around with a soggy baby bump!

Ms G x


 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Saving money and being "green" while cleaning..


Have you ever looked at how much money you spend on cleaning products each year? I don't know about you, but Mr G is obsessed with buying very expensive toilet cleaner which claims to kill lots of germs and eliminate limescale, I'm not sure about the germs but it doesn't deal with the limescale, and it does dye my toilet blue..but that's another blog post. These cleaning products tend to contain lots of chemicals, and really I don't like using them or having them around the children. When I was invited to an event with ecloth, I was delighted as I have been using their cloths for quite a while, and being able to visit the luxury 5 star Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, who themselves are proud to say they use ecloths to clean with, was an added bonus! 

ecloth, eliminate the need for lots of products to clean with, suddenly all you need is a bottle of water to spray onto a surface and an ecloth. How does it work? Most microfibre cloths have between 90,000 and 200,000 fibres per square inch, ecloth have 1.6million! The fibres are important as they trap grease, dirt and bacteria in between the fibres, so they catch bacteria rather than kill it. The benefit? You're removing the problem rather than killing it and smearing it "dead" all over the surface! The bargain hunters amongst you will argue you can buy a cloth and spray cheaper than one of these cloths, but seriously, each cloth can be washed 300 times, so suddenly spending £5 on a multipurpose ecloth seems very good value to me? 

If you're interested in how to clean your limescale riddled toilet, I can recommend using a little citric acid left (preferably over night) to work its magic, before giving a good scrub with a loo brush then flush! It's worked magic on our loo! We use white vinegar as a disinfectant (not with the citric acid!) as due to it's level of acidity it works magic at germ killing! For some expert tips on how to make your own cleaning products at home (mostly using stuff you probably have in your kitchen cupboard!) check out the greener cleaner! They incidentally, also love ecloth!

Until the end of May 2014 you can enjoy a 20% discount at www.e-cloth.com products by using the discount code ETP20, and there is free delivery on UK orders over £10 to, so it's the perfect time to stock up! 


Disclaimer: Thanks to ecloth for inviting me to the event to see the products,  all thoughts and opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience using ecloths for approx 3 years. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Personalised Gift Ideas for the Perfect Christening


While it may not be the case in every geographical region, as a general rule consumer spending is continuing to rise throughout the UK. This is great news for retailers, who are benefitting from soaring turnovers as households begin to see a gradual rise in their disposable income levels.
On a fundamental level, this means that consumers are currently able and willing to spend more on gifts for special occasions, especially those that are to commemorate a christening or the birth of a new-born child.
Three Unique and Personalised Christening Gift Ideas
With this in mind, it is worth thoroughly researching the gift market to identify the best possible products for an upcoming christening. Personalised gifts are particularly popular, as they are genuinely unique and carry significant meaning for the recipient. Consider the following ideas:
  1. Personalised Coat Hangers for Style and Functionality
One of the key trends in the modern gift market has seen the development of multi-functional products, which solve multiple consumer problems with a single innovation. Personalised coat hangers provide a relevant case, as they offer a unique memento of a specific occasion whilst also serving a practical and necessary purpose. Available through online outlets such as a Shed Load of Gifts, they are relatively affordable and ideal for anyone who wants to purchase something innovative and useful within a tight budget.
  1. A Customised Photo Frame in your Colour of Choice
If you would like to spend a little more, why not invest in a picturesque baby photograph frame that features a personalised message? Not only does this enable the recipient to place a number of carefully selected and meaningful photographs around their home, but it also serves a constant reminder of your love and affection. These products also come in a host of different colours, which can be gender specific depending on the gender of the baby or simply selected on the basis of an existing design theme.
  1. A Unique Novel with a Personalised Hero and Narrative

Personalisation trends in the gift industry have grown increasingly innovative in recent times, as consumers have continued to demand unique and unusual products to satisfy their needs. In terms of christening gifts, this has recently translated into customisable novels, which can be influenced to include specific characters and narratives. So why not create a story where the new-born child is the hero, in which he has to save his family or battle with evil super-powers? While this may seem far-fetched, it is a relatively new concept on the market and is bound to impress both parents and older children too.

Disclaimer: This post was provided for me by Victoria Sharpe, the thoughts and opinions do not necessarily reflect my own.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Outdoor Fun with Mega Bloks!


We were sent a bag of Mega Bloks first builder blocks to review, there are 60 colourful blocks which can be used to build all sorts of things, and as the weekend was hot and sunny we decided to play outside with the Mega Bloks! They are perfect for some mega outdoor play, but I confess I've never thought to use them outside until now!




The first thing that struck me was that my 5 yr old asked "are there any instructions?" and when I replied "no, you can make anything!" he instantly beamed and announced he wanted to build an elephant! 


I was quite impressed with his efforts to build an elephant, and he certainly made a better attempt at it than I could have done! 



My 3 yr old was too busy already building a tower to help his brother with any animal building, I was impressed how well the bricks stand on the grass without toppling over!

We also had fun building bridges for trucks to drive under, they were also transported merrily in the garden toys! The blocks were hugely popular in the sandpit too where they made walls to protect castles, bridges which they covered in sand and more towers thanks to a tower obsessed 3 yr old!

The boys loved playing with the Mega Bloks first builder bloks, and I found that as they're colourful they were easy to encourage them to pick them up to put away. The bricks are light, and easy to keep clean so an ideal indoor toy to be played with outside, and I can see us having a lot of fun with them this summer! 

Mega Bloks facebook page currently is running a fantastic competition to win 1 of 4 play 'n go wagons - which look perfect for outdoor play with Mega bloks this summer! To enter you just need to fill in your details here!



27 weeks Pregnant - Third Trimester


I feel huge..like a gigantic whale..to think I was worrying if my bump was small a few weeks ago, I am now worrying it's to big - mostly thanks to some charming old ladies on a train who told me I looked huge "either your baby is a giant or there's two in there!". Thanks ladies, since then I have been worrying that I am carrying a giant baby..by giant I mean I'm imagining something the size of an elephant..! Yes OK I'm possibly getting a bit too carried away with the giant baby thoughts, but the bump is big now (even if I am wearing a top which exaggerates it!

Baby Bump 27weeks!

I have aches and pains, my back, hips and belly are sore and I am walking with a pronounced waddle. But, I think most pregnant ladies do have a aches and pains at some point in pregnancy, so I'm trying not to grumble to much! I have gone to the extreme of going and buying comfortable "old lady" shoes, they're quite nice and very comfortable but definitely not going to win me any prizes in the style stakes..! 

Last night we sat down and wrote a list of things we need/want for baby, but that is another post, so you'll have to wait if you want to read about that! We also began to talk about a birth plan, but Mr G wasn't very keen to talk about that - instead he became fixated on an episode of 24 and muttered every so often random things which I didn't understand and am fairly sure don't relate to child birth! 


Friday, 16 May 2014

Occasion wear from Long Tall Sally (and a fabulous competition!)

Tis' the season..whether you're going to attending the races, your best friends wedding or perhaps a christening the summer seems to bring a host of occasions to get dressed up for! If you are tall don't despair,  Long Tall Sally is on hand to ensure you can look glamorous for any occasion! 

The shimmer shutter dress is gorgeous, whether you're heading to the races or a cocktail party this dress will take you there in style! With an incredibly flattering neckline, and cinched in waist this dress (when I'm not pregnant!) is the ideal shape to show off my curves!



My absolute favourite dress from Long Tall Sally of this season has to be the Deluxe Lace shutter dress, it offers a coverage over the shoulders with a beautiful lace cap sleeve and a sexy lace back panel. This dress is ideal for taking you through day into evening, and the fabulous bright colour will ensure you aren't a wall flower at any event! It's such a dramatic dress - don't you think?




For those seeking a more classically stylish look, the Bonded Lace dress offers the classic cut of a shift dress, with a little stretch in the fabric to aid a good fit. There is also the Bonded Lace Jacket available which would turn this dress into a super smart suit ideal for any occasion, and I think the jacket would work well with a simple camisole and jeans for a summer trip to a pub garden!




The lovely people at Long Tall Sally have offered a £50 voucher as a prize to one of my lovely readers, I'm a huge Long Tall Sally fan, so I'm very sad not to be able to enter this one myself! To enter the competition follow the simple steps on the rafflecopter widget below, please make sure you read the t&c's at the bottom of the widget! Good Luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway ...


Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Maynards Discovery Patch App - Release your imagination!


Imagination plays a huge role in child development, and experts say by developing a child's imagination they will become empowered as adults to deal more effectively with problems in every day life. Maynards Discovery Patch commissioned a study in conjunction with child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer to establish the importance of developing an active imagination from a young age! 43% of parents complained that technology (tv, computers etc) were a hurdle to over come, but Dr Gummer's research showed that when used effectively technology can actually enhance imagination! 

Dr Gummer's top tips to promote an active imagination;


  • Don't always give children the answers to questions, let them decide what they think the answer might be.
  • Joint stories - start a story and encourage your child to end it (this is great if you're travelling!) My added tip to this one, is use a picture book as a starting point if you're struggling to know where to begin!
  • Use imaginative language, phrases such as "I wonder what..." can help children to develop imaginative thoughts about every day thoughts! (On walks this works well if you find foot prints or holes in trees.. "I wonder what lives in there..").

So Maynards Discovery patch have produced a FREE app which you can download and with the help of their sweets from the Discovery Patch, you can explore the world, learn facts and encourage imagination. The app is super simple to use (even I could manage it!) and allows you to see creatures, animals or even body parts in front of your very eyes via the app! All you need to do is scan the front of a pack of Maynards Discovery patch sweets, which come in 3 great varieties, Body Bits, Animals, and Myths & Monsters! 


The sweets are designed with family fun in mind, and allow you to play all sorts of games including things like.. 


Can you guess which animal this is meant to be being acted out so beautifully?


Using the Myths & Monsters, can you create a story using the character you reach out of the packet?



Here's my example using sweets I pulled out of the packet..





Once upon a time there lived a huge angry Dragon, he used to terrify the mermaid who lived in the sea next to his deep dark Dragon cave by breathing fire at her.. 

What happens next? - You decide! 

The Body Bits;





are great for encouraging thoughts on human biology and talking about things like where is your brain - what do you think it feels like? This can lead on to sensory games, and try to guess what household objects are just by feeling them (no peeking!)




I was really lucky to attend an event with Maynards at London Zoo and try some of these games out for myself, I found it incredibly relaxing and great fun, and we've already tried some of the games out at home! The app is very popular with both boys, and has caused much amusement as well as discussions about everything from "Mummy is the dog really a unicorn but it's horn fell off?" to "WOW I can't believe we have that many bones, how did they count them all.." So why not try some out for yourself and let us know how you get along!


Disclaimer: I received a goody bag and attended the event at London Zoo, all thoughts and opinions are my own and based on my honest opinion using the techniques and Discovery app mentioned.

Summer Holiday Fun


With the summer holidays starting to loom just round the corner parents everywhere are living with a growing fear; What am I going to do with them all day for six whole weeks? Not everyone can afford to jet off to Spain for a few weeks and not everyone has endless relations on hand to look after the little darlings on alternate days.
So if you are going to be with your nearest and dearest for six weeks just what can you do to make something to look forward to rather than something to approach with trepidation and dread? 

Get Your Whole Body Moving!

Get everybody feeling active by taking the whole family to the park for the day. Pack a healthy picnic with salad faces and crudités with dips and encourage everyone to get going in some way or another. Perhaps the boys might like to kick a ball about, the girls might like to go roller-skating; now cool again thanks to films like Whip It and specialist sports shops such as The Skate Hut selling 'cool' clothing as well as sports equipment. If you get the children hooked on a new sport early on in the holidays, this activity can be repeated and enjoyed while ever the weather isn't too bad.
If you want to really go for it, perhaps invite another family or two along and set up a 'sports camp' for the day with each parent taking responsibility for a different activity. This gives children social time with their friends and a whole host of different activities to enjoy. Plus you could split the responsibility for equipment and more importantly food and drink for that healthy picnic between all the parents, easing the burden on yourself. Genius!

Get Creating!

Youngsters like nothing more than the feeling that they have created something of their own that is theirs to keep and enjoy. Latch onto this natural engagement in creative activities by taking your youngsters to specialist art workshops like the ones run by Artbugs Studio near Leeds. If it's your child's birthday over summer, they can even hold arty parties which cater for groups to make and create all sorts of exciting things.
Another popular creative activity is to go den building in the woods to create a shelter to play in. You could even use a particularly successful shelter as a base for other exciting woodland activities such as trailing, collecting rubbings or drawing animals. For even more exciting creative activities check out Pinterest which is full of posts like '101 almost free things to do with kids this summer'


Disclaimer: This post was provided for me by Victoria Sharpe, the thoughts and opinions do not necessarily reflect my own.



Tuesday, 13 May 2014

I'm a Baba + Boo Ambassador!


I'm delighted to tell you that I'm going to be a Baba + Boo ambassador! I've always toyed with the idea of cloth nappies, but with my eldest I was struggle with adjusting to having a baby after a traumatic birth and struggling to deal with the lack of sleep! Then when the next baby came along he was born in winter during a snowy spell and thoughts turned away from re-usable as with single glazing and no tumble dryer, I couldn't face fumbling about trying to dry cloth nappies when I didn't really know what I was doing with them, and didn't think I had anyone to ask!

I want to use re-usable cloth nappies for a number of reasons, firstly I think that many disposable nappies aren't very kind to skin and secondly there is a huge environmental impact associated with them. I'm not going to lie, I don't anticipate never using another disposable, but as my favourite brand of nappies is no longer producing in the UK I am keen to try something totally new! Who knows - perhaps I will then move on to re-usable wipes to?! I have to confess that the Baba+Boo nappies are pretty darn gorgeous too which has helped make my decision to try them very easy! 

I am not afraid to admit that I am a total imbecile when it comes to cloth nappies, I had to ask if they are machine washable (they are!) and have already warned everyone that I will undoubtedly be asking hundreds of questions about *everything*. So, I hope you will join me on this journey and our cloth nappy adventures! 





No more skipping breakfast.. #Morningstories


Mornings in our house are a little chaotic, especially as my three year old has decided that he doesn't want to get changed from his pyjamas, and certainly won't put on any shoes..an hour can easily be lost with this battle - an hour I don't have in the morning! The first tip I'll give to any Mum, pick your battles! I want the 3 year old to get dressed, but if I need to I will let him be carried to the car (with shoes hidden in my bag!) or wear his wellington boots, this negotiation usually works well! I try to have the school uniform ready for Boo the night before, this saves the usual headache of "Where are my...." (insert any random item of uniform). I have the slummy Mummy look down to a fine art since being pregnant, my staple school run outfit involves jeans, a vest, cardigan and trainers with hair pulled back! I'm so predictable!
Trying to wear PJ's on the school run!
I confess, Mr G never has breakfast if he's going to work, if he's lucky he'll grab a quick cup of tea with 2 sugars. I rarely had breakfast, but since being pregnant I find I need to eat something, but it has to be something handy - toast in the car is messy, especially if you drop it jam side down..(I may have done this before..) So, belVita bars, have effectively restored calm to our mornings, with breakfast being returned to our adult menu and the urge for a biscuit break at 11am being brushed to the side! Mr G sloped off to work this morning grabbing a packet of "biscuits" and texted to tell me he was enjoying dunking them in his tea. I made a huge error and allowed him a packet of the cocoa Yogurt crunch, these are amazing sweet but not too sweet, a breakfast which left me feeling satisfied and full of energy but thinking "they're yummy i'm tempted to eat another!" (which I think is the best result a biscuit could hope for with me!). 

Too yummy to share!

I also loved the milk & cereal version, and they tasted great with a glass of fresh orange juice, mug of coffee or a naughty iced cooler drink, ideal for breakfast on the go! 

Catching up on breakfast in a car park!

The fibre rich Fruit and Fibre belVita reminded me somewhat of fig-rolls, the boys and Mr G thought these were great but they didn't appeal to me in the mornings at the moment - pregnancy seems to have altered my taste buds! belVita have made it into our weekly shopping list, they're so easy to eat and adding a bottle of orange juice or maybe a glass of milk and some fresh fruit alongside a packet makes breakfast so easy -even for busy families like ours!

This post is an entry for #MorningStories Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at www.facebook.com/belVitaUK. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Life's a picnic.. #MagpieMonday


Days out with the family can cost a small fortune in food and drinks alone, so we always try to take a picnic with us when we go out! However, our trusty cooler bag/box don't exactly inspire the romantic image I visualise when I think of a picnic..and I have been nagging Mr G for a while to let us get a "proper" picnic basket. This week, in the pouring rain I went to drop some of the boys old clothes into the charity shop and spotted a picnic basket which was perfect for us and complete with cups, plates and cutlery! Roll on a summer of thrifty days out with our thrifty £5 picnic basket! 



Some of you will remember my upset when Mr G accidentally smashed my favourite Le Crueset dish it had been a gift and we'd loved it for many years. Not *quite* the Le Creuest dish, but beautiful and fitting well with the picnic basket, I found these two beauties;





How gorgeous are they?! I will have lots of fun with these, and they'll be ideal for a romantic picnic for two too! Plus at £4 for the pair I think they were a true bargain! 

Linking up with the lovely Liz for Magpie Monday, click the picture below to discover all the other amazing thrifty finds people have discovered this week! 





Stain removal with Persil - Persil Stain Art Review


We were contacted recently to take part in the Persil Stain Art challenge, let 2 small boys loose with a small amount of juice, ink, paint and chocolate and create a work of art on one of Daddy's shirts.. mwahaha (OK I added the Daddy's shirt bit!). You see, Persil Small and Mighty have created a clever dosing ball which enables you to treat a stain before you wash the garment easily and just using their Bio liquid - time and cost saving! Here's what happened;

 

 


Yes ok, I admit the boys and I got a little over excited at the idea of staining one of Mr G's shirts and we went crazy with it, but this is all for research purposes right?! We then left it to dry, and explained to Mr G that we'd had a bit of a disaster and "accidentally" painted all over one of his t-shirts, but it was OK Persil would sort it out. Handing Mr G the bottle, we left him to sort out the mess..





Then he threw the shirt into a normal wash with a dose of Persil washing liquid and we waited..when we reached the shirt out of the machine, unfortunately not all the ink had been removed;


However, I do have to say that everything other stain had totally disappeared! And I do think the children were quite heavy handed with the ink and a brush - much more so than they would be with the usual pen marks which get on shirts at work or school. We have also tried the product on a pair of jeans Mr G had worn to change his brake pads, they had got covered in brake dust and he thought they would not be wearable again, but with pre-treating (and no extra in wash liquid) they came out like new.. we were both very impressed!

I do find the scent very strong, so I wouldn't use this in every wash, BUT for saving school uniform and Mr G's clothes this is now on my shopping list, as the bubbly surface of the dosing ball makes it so easy and quick to treat stains!


Disclaimer; We were sent the Persil Liquid and a stain kit, for the purposes of an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.