31 July 2013

Wednesday Words - Changing

We all change, whether you notice it or not, it is true. 

As we grow up and become adults, we change and evolve to be able to cope with situations around us. We learn from our past mistakes a become a better person because of them. The bad things we did make us better in the end and we are forever changing to suit our needs. 

As we go through life, many situations arise where you may be forced to change. This is not good for our bodies, for our souls and for us because someone should not be pushed into becoming someone they are not to suit other people. 

There is a difference between changing progressively as you grow, and changing to fit in with others. Remember once you change, you may not be able to go back, so make sure it's the right decision for you. 

'There's a story behind every person. There's a reason why they're the way they are. They aren't just like that because they want to. Something in the past created them, and sometimes it's impossible to fix them.'

We all change, whether you notice it or not, it is true. Just make sure you're the caterpillar changing into the butterfly and not into the moth.

Wednesday Words

30 July 2013

Breathe In The Summer Air

These summer holidays seem to have come so quickly and since now we are already a week in, it got me thinking, what can we do to pass the time?

I know we'll try to fill the days with park visits and swimming a lot (once the Chicken Pox have cleared up) but we also need to plan long days out and would even like a last minute break away.

First of all, we have planned a day away at Scarborough. I love it at Scarborough and regularly used to go as a child and I want Thomas and Charlie to look back and remember the British seaside too. To have a go in the amusements, play on the 2p machines and eat candy-floss and doughnuts till they come out of their ears. Taking loads of photos along the way that we can cherish and look back on in the future when the boys are older (or even embarrass them in front of their girlfriends).

Most of all though, I would love to take the boys away for a few days. Somewhere in the countryside though where we can leave everything behind and just have a nice time, spending it together and enjoying each others company. It's not often we get to just sit down and relax without the television or laptop on, or somewhere we can go on family bike rides or walks to see the cows in the fields. Anything to get out and get into the countryside and to breathe in the fresh summer air. 

I wouldn't have a clue though where to go, I've never really had breaks away in the countryside before and wouldn't have a clue where places actually are. Could you identify where places are just by their pictures? Check out this infographic by Cumbrian-Cottages.co.uk to see if you could:..
If, like me, you didn't have a clue where any of the places are, then I think that's a sign that we all need to get out and about in the countryside more. 

The British countryside has some of the best views, yet I have only ever been to the Yorkshire Dales once, when I went with school and we swam in a freezing cold stream. But it didn't matter that we were all freezing, it was invigorating and just a lovely day out in the open fields. 

Hopefully, we will be able to find a last minute deal and get a short break away in the countryside somewhere but if not, we'll try to spend as much time as a family as possible. As long as we are together, that's all that matters.

Are you going on a break in these summer holidays?

Disclaimer - Featured Post

Alessandro Nail Polishes

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I am a big lover of nail polishes and before having kids, would wear different colours all the time. I went through different phases too. Bright colours in summer and even the emo black look too (rock on dude!). But then it changed when I had children. You see I could never fin one good enough to withstand all the business with my hands and after a day they would be chipped and I basically got bored of having to redo them every day, so I stopped doing them.

When I had an email from halfpriceperfumes.co.uk though, that's when it all changed. They asked if I would like to give Alessandro nail polishes a try to see what I thought and so I did, and here we are.

'We love colours' is their motto and you can definitely tell this is true when you see the huge amount of choices they have to pick from. Alessandro have designed 99 top fashion colours meaning there is always a colour to suit every outfit.

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Alessandro boast a new patented formula for even more brilliance on nails. They state that it has:
  • Incredible long durability
  • Faster drying
  • No chipping                                    
  • Smooth & streak free application
  • High colour intensiveness due to UV absorber
  • Protects the nails
  • High gloss shine 
But, and it is a big but, would their polishes be able to stand up against a mummy of 2 little boys.

I wanted to try out all of the colours straight away as I am so impatient so decided on having multicoloured toes. The polishes were smooth to apply and seemed to go on quite easily. The colours are bold and stand-out-ish, perfect for the summertime.

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I do agree that they are more durable than regular polishes and actually I was surprised that they lasted a few days before getting chipped even though I was playing and running around after the boys, I was expecting them to be ruined much sooner. 
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- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions

29 July 2013

AEG UltraCaptic - Compact & Go

We are now on to the fourth instalment of my posts about the AEG UltraCaptic vacuum cleaner. This week I am focusing on the main function of the UltraCaptic, the Compact & Go feature. 

With the Compact & Go feature you compact the dust before emptying it, allowing for a more controlled disposal of the compacted dust. You can also just compact the dust to gain capacity and then continue to vacuum for longer without having to empty the machine.

Have a look at our video to see how you Compact & Go quickly and easily.

As you can see, it is quite simple to do and the only thing I can advise is to do everything gently. You don't need to force the machine to get it to compact. 

Simply pull the handle up and then press it down gently to compact. You can then pull the handle up and towards yourself, gently, to take the compartment off. 
Hold it over the bin and press the button on the back and all the dust and dirt will fall into the bin without flying all over. 
Shut the base on the compartment and then gently (yes gently again!) press the compartment back into the vacuum and pull the handle back into place to secure it. 
And you're done. You've successfully mastered the Compact & Go feature on the AEG Ultracaptic. 

- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions

28 July 2013

Happy Anniversary: 5 Years today

Today, at this exact moment, I was walking down the aisle to get married. 

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Getting ready to say my vows.

Shaking with nerves and very much overwhelmed at what was happening.

Wearing a beautiful handmade gown, made specifically for me.

Looking towards this man who would soon become my husband and not long after that would bless me with 2 gorgeous little boys.

5 years! It's been 5 years since the day we got married and I still remember it so clearly. 

The gorgeous cake that my mum had spent months making, the food which was a mix of everything as all our family had made their own unique dishes for our feast, the streamers and balloons all around making it oh so cheery, the music playing which I had compiled myself to play all our favourite songs, perfect, just perfect.

My gorgeous hair which had taken 3 hours for my hairdresser to do. The extensions which then took me 2 hours to get out, soaking them in the bath, afterwards. 

And you know, all this nearly didn't happen. Within one month, the recession hit us and both Simon and I, were made redundant. Me from a legal firm who were moving to Hull and Simon from a decorating company who had shut down. We were gutted, all this planning for nothing. We couldn't afford anything with no money coming in. my dress was half paid for, we would lose everything.

Then my family stepped in. My parents paid for everything, my dress, the flowers, making and paying for the cake, suits, shoes, everything we needed. my hairdresser paid for my hair extensions and did my hair for free. The whole family then came together to sort the food, my grandma doing her world famous Cornish pasties, Indian food brought by friends and everything was complete thanks to the help of everyone around us who wanted to make our special day even better as we knew we had all our family and friends supporting us.

Now, 5 years later, I look at my family, at our life and can't believe how long ago it all was.

Who knew how much my life would change from just saying 'I do'

Here's to my husband whom I love with all my hearts, here's to the future and many more years to come...

27 July 2013

Project 365 Week 30

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This week has been mixed for us all.
We started off with a lovely start. Painting and crafting things for Thomas' bedroom. I prefer to make them ourselves as little mementos of things we have done. 

Riding on the bikes, being pushed around and throwing water balloons outdoors are great ways to keep the boys entertained. And they are getting fresh air too which is a bonus.

The boys love Peppa Pig and there will always be one of them sat on the floor enticed into the television.
Again, following the Peppa Pig theme, we made some muddy puddle buns which the boys both loved making and eating.

The last photo in the lot is of Thomas, with chicken pox. Yes, you heard me right, chicken pox! I'm saying it like this because, if you have read my post about him being ill (you can read it here), you will know that he had been diagnosed with something else but after a trip to the emergency doctors, we were told that he had been misdiagnosed and that he in fact had chicken pox. So for 2 whole days, he was in pain from the itchiness and we were told not to put anything on them. Poor little man!

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26 July 2013

Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist

One thing I miss about not having a car any more is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing through the windows and me, sat in the drivers seat belting out some tunes.

Now I know I'm not a professional in any way, shape or form but singing in the car is fantastic. no one else can hear you so you can be as rubbish as you like.

When it comes to putting together my Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist though, I find it quite hard. I love music and listen to loads of varying music but must admit, my driving music is usually big American classics. So when I saw that Money Supermarket were trying to find the Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist, I just had to get involved and write about mine.

The Eagles are one of my favourites. Hotel California is one of my all time favourite songs and you'll always find it on my phone, computer, CD player. The one you'll always find me singing along to in the car though is Take It Easy...

I think it's such a simplistic song and everyone can sing along to it and it makes me chill out, even when some idiot person is tail-gating me. If I want one I can totally belt out to though, it just has to be Desperado, I seriously think I'm a popstar when this plays (although my husband has warned me that he will divorce me if I keep singing along to it).

Oh, and a couple more from the Eagles before I change to someone else, One of These Nights, Take It to the Limit and New Kid in Town are also always on my playlists.

UB40. Oh yes, I love these too (can you tell that my dad always had the music controls as we were growing up?) Red, red wiiiiinnnnnneeeee, stay close to me eee eeee! Sitting in the car, jamming along to this and doing my awful impressions of all the singers. No matter how hard I try, when the deep voice comes one to sing, I have to do my deep male impression too.

If it's not for that song then it'll be Cherry Oh Baby or Kingston Town. 

Then we go through other big American singers such as Meatloaf with Dead Ringer for Love or Bat Out of Hell. 

There is a serious message behind the idea of a great driving soundtrack. THINK! research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep or tiredness related. Long journeys on motorways can lead to a lack of concentration and, as well as other preventative measures, listening to songs you love can be a great way to stay alert and focused on the road.

Upbeat, loud and deep hitting songs are the ones I like to listen to in the car. Like I said, driving around in this summer sun, singing along to an American classic is my idea of fun and is my ultimate playlist and also keeps me alert and focused whilst driving too.

It's so weird when I look through my CD playlist and see all these huge American rock singers, I certainly do take after my dad. 

What would be in your ultimate playlist?

25 July 2013

AEG UltraCaptic - 3 in 1

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Our house has a variety of  floor types from carpet in the livingroom and bedrooms, tiles in the kitchen, lino in the bottom toilet and a huge fluffy rug in our livingroom meaning that the AEG UltraCaptic really has been put through it's paces with regards to variety. 

Not that this has been a problem. The AEG UltraCaptic comes with three different nozzles, each one designed for different floor types so you'll always get the best, deep down clean needed for a germ free home. 

We have had problems in the past with vacuums not picking bits up from deep inside the huge rug in our livingroom and would regularly find some 18th century piece of toast hiding in there somewhere. The Turbo nozzle is perfect for cleaning this and easily gets deep into the fibres of the shaggy rug and clean every last bit. Actually, the first time we used the AEG UltraCaptic was to clean this exact rug and I remember looking on in amazement (and a bit of disgust) seeing just how much dirt it picked up. 

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When I'm in a rush to clean I will usually do the hallway and kitchen together, one tiled and the other carpetted. The Silent AeroPro Silent nozzle is perfect for this as it can be switched between hard and carpeted flooring at a simple click of a button to clean with ease. 

The last nozzle in the trio is the hard flooring one. This is best used on wooden, tiled and lino flooring. We don't have wooden flooring but my parents have borrowed this vacuum to have a go on their floors, even my dad had a go and eventually gave us it back after exclaiming that 'the suction is so good that it nearly sucked up our laminate' and vowing to come round and borrow it every time they want to do a deep clean of their carpets and flooring. 

The AEG UltraCaptic with its 3 amazing nozzles is brilliant at cleaning and it's telescopic handle, which can be lengthened or shortened, is perfect for cleaners of any size (even our little rascals got in on the action).

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It is quite a hefty piece of machinery though, weighing in at around 6.9kg which can cause a struggle whilst carrying it upstairs to clean but this is easily outweighed by it's power and cleaning performance. 

Keep an eye out for our future posts as I think it's about time we emptied this beast and showed you one of its other great features. 

Life in a Break Down

- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions

24 July 2013

Weak Immune System and MCV

I'm starting to think that Thomas has a weak immune system as he has now come down with a further illness.

In the past few weeks he has been struck with Hand, Foot & Mouth and Prickly Heat which have caused him pain and discomfort but now we have hit something that is worse.

After seeing what looked like little warts on his body that were causing pain, I took him to see our GP. The GP knew straight away what it was... the Molluscum Contagiosum Virus.

Molluscum Contagiosum is a viral infection that affects the skin. It is highly contagious and easily spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected or it can be passed on by touching contaminated objects

Molluscum Contagiosum usually clears up on its own after 12-18 month. Yes! It could take up to a year and a half to fully go away!

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Treatment is not recommended because the infection usually clears up on its own and it doesn't interfere with everyday activities. Also many treatments can be painful and may cause scarring or burn the surrounding skin so these are never done in children's cases. 

It is most prominent in young children but doesn't usually affect many people due to our immune system fighting it off. Thomas' hasn't done this and so he is covered, head to toe, in a huge rash which are itchy and can grow quite big and look similar to water warts. 

Even though, as you can guess by it's name, Molluscum Contagiosum is highly contagious, but most people are resistant to the virus meaning that they are unlikely to develop the condition if they are exposed to the virus so Thomas can go on doing everything as normal. 

On average,  a person infected will get a few of the lesions in one spot which can spread but others who have a weak immune system can get more, covering the body. This is the reason why I think Thomas may have a weak immune system. They aren't in one place, they cover his whole body and he is in pain from the itchiness of them. I feel so upset that he's having to go through this and wish it would just go away. But no, it's looks like we are in this one for the long-haul and just have to wait it out. 

My poor little boy...

*Update: After all this fretting and Thomas been in pain from the spots, we went to see the emergency doctors who confirmed that Thomas had been misdiagnosed and that he in fact had chicken pox. 
I am glad, for him, that these will now be gone within a few weeks but am also upset that for 2 days, we put nothing on the spots to help them and so the itchiness and pain was there all the time. No wonder he was constantly crying.

Wednesday Words - Karma

I have always believed in Karma and try to treat everyone as I would like to be treated. I have found it hard though when some people make it so hard to be so nice all the time. After having a think about this weeks Wednesday Words, I came across this quote which I think sums it up quite well.

Life is an echo.

What you send out ~ comes back.
What you sow ~ you reap.
What you give ~ you get.
What you see in others ~ exists in you.

Your life is an echo.
It always get's back to you!
Author Unknown

Wednesday Words

21 July 2013

Project 365 Week 29

I love this weeks pictures because they show a lot of brotherly love between Thomas and Charlie and a lot of play time too. They are always together getting up to mischief and having fun which is great to see.

On a few days we have been to the park to pass a bit of time and get out in this lovely weather. 

School holidays start next week and so I cannot wait to be able to get out more and do other things since Thomas wont be at nursery. 

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

20 July 2013

Deli 24 Snacks

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Being healthy is always on the top of my mind when we are buying snacks for the boys. I hate to think that they are eating processed rubbish that is no good for them. Everything we eat, I try to make from scratch but have been wanting to find healthy snacks for a while now. That's when I saw that Deli 24 were putting a shout out on Twitter looking for people to give them a try. Deli 24 make tasty snacks whereby cooked meat is wrapped around real cheese for a yummy healthy snack time. 

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Deli 24 snacks:
Contain unprocessed real cheese
Are full of calcium
Use meat with no added water
Are low in sugar 
Are low in salt
Have no artificial colours or flavourings 
Have a high protein content

Deli 24 snacks are thin, long and the perfect size for a little one to chomp on. Charlie loved them and could easily devour one in no time at all. Thomas on the other hand was a bit more stepped back. He is a really fussy eater and so it did take him a while to give them a try. I thought he would be put off by the cheese as he isn't really a lover of cheese but this was not the case and after a while a he was munching down the snacks. Thomas loves the pepperoni ones the most and would always be raiding the fridge to find them.

I found that they are are ideal for lunchboxes which is great for us to know since Thomas starts full time school in September and so far, we don't know if he will be having packed lunches. They are individually wrapped and come in singular packs as well as packs of three. 

With the school holidays coming up imminently and the fact that we have planned so many days out, I can imagine these being a staple element of our picnics as they are healthy and also take up little space in our pack ups. 

Not only are they great for snacks but they can also be cut up and put into meals as is shown with all the recipes on the Deli 24 website. We are loving the look of the pepperoni pizza. Make your own, homemade pizza and then for the topping, cut up some of the pepperoni Deli 24 snacks and scatter around and then bake for a scrumptious homemade pizza. I can't wait to give this recipe a try!

For more information please visit Deli 24's website.

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- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions

19 July 2013

Win a Eurohike Picnic Set

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We have been lucky to be able to offer one of our readers the chance to win a simply gorgeous Eurohike picnic set which would be great for those yummy picnics now the summer holidays are getting closer. 

This giveaway was created by Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance and I’m posting it as a member of their Family Blogger Network.

How do readers enter my giveaway?
· Log in to Rafflecopter and enter the draw by leaving a blog post comment with your ideas for: “What would be your Dream Car for a European Road Trip?” You can also enter by tweeting about the giveaway.
· The more times you enter, the better your chance of winning the Eurohike Picnic set.
· Whether or not you’re our prize winner, the dream holiday cars could also potentially appear in a future Money Matters Blog post.
· The winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter (which uses random.org) and announced on this page.
· The deadline for entering the giveaway is Friday 26th July at 00:00am.

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Home Improvement Hero

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Our spare bedroom
Decorating Thomas's bedroom room has been on the agenda for so long. He's 4 years old now and still sleeps in and horribly decorated room which was painted before we moved in. We have been planning on moving him rooms into the spare room which is a bit bigger and so when I heard about the competition from Money Supermarket called the Home Improvement Hero I had to get involved. Can we possibly sort out a bedroom for £50? Yes, is the answer and I'll show you how.

It doesn't have to be about extravagance and spending a fortune of things that have no bearing in a bedroom. Make it suitable for your child and also think about using things that can easily be changed as you child grows. Use colours that aren't babyish and stick to accessories rather than permanent fixtures so they can be changed easily as the years pass.

We bought 2 different coloured paints from Wilkinsons. I always buy paint for there because it is fantastic quality and they have a massive selection of colours and at 2 for £20, it's a steal compared to some brands. We chose quite a dark blue for the main wall and then a light green for the rest. I wanted the main wall to stand out but didn't want the whole room looking dark.

Then came the accessories to fit in with everything Thomas liked. I tried to do this from a different angle than normal. I wanted them to be personal to Thomas and so he could associate his bedroom to himself and so bought loads of craft items to make our own accessories.

Wilkinsons do a vast range of craft items suitable for children. We bought 2 canvas pictures which have the drawing on and just need painting to finish. We chose a car and a dog as Thomas loves both. We also chose a couple of other trinkets which are also in the range of craft items. All at only a few pounds each and most include the paint with them.

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We then bought some plain canvases, about A3 size, and I designed these, one each for the boys as when Charlie gets older he will be sharing the room too.

I found a template of cartoon characters from the internet and started to draw the base on. Fireman Sam for Thomas and Baby Loony Toons for Charlie, each one getting personalised with their names. I think they look great and when the time comes that the boys out grow them, I can simply take them down and put something more suitable up.

I then went on the lookout for bedding. We needed curtains too but only had £20 in our budget left so there was no chance. Well that's where I was wrong and where my love of haggling came in.

We popped down to our local market and found the perfect Fireman Sam bedding and curtains set. £27.99 though which we couldn't afford. I pleaded and begged with the man and haggled my way down and my charm must have worked because we came in bang on budget. £20, for a duvet set and curtains, bargain! Always make sure you check your local markets for deals and don't forget to haggle.

I can't believe what we have achieved with £50. The bedroom has a whole new lease of life and Thomas loves it.

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The finished bedroom

- I was sent a £50 to take part in this challenge and all thoughts and experiences are my own honest opinions

18 July 2013

If I won the Lottery

I love my life but there are some times though I wished we had more. The finer things in life as they say. I'm sure everyone loves to imagine how they'd spend millions if they were ever lucky enough to win the Lottery and I'm no different. 

I would love a house. Not some huge house in the countryside though. Our own home, built to suit us, with everything we want inside it. 5 bedrooms, a huge kitchen as I love cooking, a basement which is a games room with a cinema style screen (because I am that tacky) and a pool so I can stay in shape whilst having fun splashing around.
That or buy a house and extend to suit us, like the one I wrote about not long ago. My dream home just near to our current house and opposite our local park. 

Maybe a nice new car to drive around. Have the wind blowing through my hair, listening to music on loud, me and my family singing along to the random rubbish that is on the radio having a great day out. I do miss driving now that we don't have a car and hope that one day, we can afford to get a new one. 

Mummy Blogging, Parent Blog, Yorkshire Blog, Next up, some new clothing. I would love to just throw out all my clothes and spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe. 

I look at the lovely clothing in the online boutiques and really wish I could afford them. Just to be able to buy that one statement piece that shows that I am worth every penny. I love this vintage dress from Zalando which I would buy straight away if I was to come into a mass amount of money. 

What about taking a break to a fabulous destination. Like the Maldives in one of the gorgeous beach huts. Sunning ourselves and then going for a relaxing dip into the pool. Could you imagine? This is my ideal holiday destination and I dream about going there.

I know, I know, I shouldn't be dreaming about things like this and should be happy with what I have but sometimes, it's just nice to day dream about the finer things in life.

What would you do if you won the Lottery? Spend it wisely or blow it.

17 July 2013

Life After Surgery

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I'm writing this post for my mother-in-law, Annie. A fortnight ago she went into hospital to have major heart surgery which has left her incredibly ill. A nine hour operation and 3 days in ICU was hard for her and since she lives alone, now she has come out of hospital is even harder. 

You see, she was in the Leeds General Infirmary, one of the leading heart specialist hospitals and they took great care of her. Visiting times were most of the day so we were all in and out to make sure she wasn't alone and the food is of a high standard (It must have been to pass my mother-in-laws standards). So I guess coming out and realising that she would have to get on with everything on her own kind of knocked her for six. 

Simon goes up to see her at least once a day but since we have the boys, I don't feel it's appropriate to take them at the moment until she is up to seeing more people. Some of her family (wont mention any names) feel it's all right to not even bother going to see her and will just ring instead. 

At the moment Annie is finding moving around hard. She is breathless and in pain a lot of the time and so finds it hard to always get to her phone on time when it is ringing. Simon and I have been trying to make everything as easy as possible for her and so have been looking at these cordless phones from Gigaset which means that she can always have it by her side to answer when people ring without having to try and rush about finding it. 

We have also been trying to keep her cupboards and fridge stocked up so she doesn't have to go out too much. As always, the nurses advised that Annie should eat healthily now her heart operation is over so we have made sure to take up lots of fruits and salad. I actually wrote about bananas a while back and how they are not only good for you but are also great for multiple different reasons. They boost your blood sugar levels giving you more energy and can combat depression and the high blood pressure which she also suffers with and so for these reasons, I've been making sure that she always has a pack on bananas in her house to snack on. 

I know the surgeon said that she will start to feel better after a few weeks but I think it is all about comfort for now and so will try to do our best to make sure that Annie is happy as can be in this situation.

Wednesday Words

16 July 2013

Style Over Comfort

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I'm not usually in to selfies when taking photos but thought I'd show you me, the real me, the woman behind this blog. I am not some posh dressed up lady, I am just a normal, everyday mum who just loves to write about family life and our adventures. 

When I became a parent, my young style went out of the window. I went from going out with my friends dressed up to the nines, to wearing leggings and long tops.

I always say that I'm more of a scummy mummy rather than a yummy mummy as you can see in the above picture, I prefer to wear for comfort. I'm not into blouses and high heels as I get uncomfortable in them so opt for clothing that I better better in. This does mean that sometimes I get self-conscious about how people see me though. 

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Being a young mum though, I would love to wear better clothing instead of my regular styles, like I used to. Plus, being stylish doesn't mean having to wear uncomfy clothing as nowadays there are some gorgeous designer clothing that not only look super stylish but also are comfy and wearable whilst walking out and about with the children.

This jumper and skirt go so well together and at £1,175 for the pair, I think it'll be a while till I can afford them. But look, don't they just look lovely and comfy to wear yet are designer.

So maybe it isn't one or the other. Maybe I can eventually start to wear stylish clothing that will have the comfort factor and be suitable for an on-the-go mum like me.

Maybe I don't need to feel self-conscious about people judging me as I can now find clothes to suit and will at last maybe feel and look like a yummy mummy!

Stuck On You Competition

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If you saw our review of the Stuck On You range we did yesterday (you can read it here) you will know how much we have raved about their lovely personalised products. The vast range of products they personalise is amazing, there is something for everyone.
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Have a pop over to the Stuck On You website here just to see for yourself how great the items really are. 

We loved browsing all the items and picking out the things the we thought would be suitable for Thomas for when he starts school full time in September. 
Everything can be personalised an colour coordinated to suit your child's needs and styles. 

Love them? Then you're in luck because Stuck On You have offered 5, yes that's 5 x £20 vouchers for me to give away to my readers in a competition.

I cannot wait to see what the 5 lucky winners pick and so get entering so you don't miss out.

Please remember to check the T&C's at the bottom of the Rafflecopter application and our full terms here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the mandatory entries will be disqualified. After the compulsory entries, the Rafflecopter form will then open a round of optional extras, you do not have to enter any of these but these will give you extra entries into the competition.

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

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15 July 2013

Stuck On You

Yorkshire Blog, Mummy Blogging, Parent Blog,

As you all know, as I haven't shut up talking about it, Thomas starts full time school in September. He'll no longer be my little baby and will be a big boy. I've been looking into products which I can buy for him but since everything seems so expensive, uniforms, lunch boxes and the like, I hated the thought of spending a fortune and it getting misplaced at school because the teachers didn't know it was Thomas'. After searching the internet to find ways of overcoming this situation, I came across Stuck On You who make children's name labels and gifts. 

Stuck On You began in 1995 in Australia when the owner, Carrie, needed name labels for her children's possessions and came up with the idea. It is in fact, the very first of their type on the market and has since become a huge name around the whole of the globe. Stuck On You is Australian owned and all of their labels are created and personalised in Australia meaning that when we order, they go on their own journey right across from the other side of the world. 

They have a vast range of name labels of all shapes and sizes but also do a wide range of personalised gifts too. Also, they have a range of personalised party accessories which I think is a fab idea. They are concentrating on the Back To School range at the moment which is perfect timing for us.

I was so happy when they agreed to send us some items to review but then had the hard task of choosing from all of the great products. We were basing it on what Thomas would use for school, what would help him and how they could be used to our advantage. We chose a whole variety of products.

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Artist Series Lunch box
I chose a lunch box because at the moment, we haven't decided whether Thomas will have school dinners or a packed lunch. He is very fussy with food and so we are going to start on school dinners and if he doesn't like them then we will change. For that reason I thought it best to have a lunch box ready and this one ticks all the boxes. Not only is it the perfect size to fit all the food components for lunch and have an insulated lining to keep food fresher and cooler for longer, but it is also a personalised lunchbox which is made to suit your child's personality. We went for the 'Zzzap Rocket' design which Thomas loves, especially so since it says his name on it. After using it a few times to take food to the park and have our own mini picnic I can see why they are so popular. It is a quality and very durable product which Thomas loves using.

5+ Value Pack of Labels
This is a pack of all the personalised tags and stickers you will need for your child. It comprises of Classic Iron On Labels, Classic Small Name Labels, Classic Shoe Dots, Classic Mini/Pencil Labels and Classic Personalised Bag Tag, each one having its own purpose and coming in handy. 
The iron on labels are great for keeping all Thomas' clothing safe. I'm cautious sending him to nursery with expensive clothing on in case he takes his jacket off and loses it. With the labels it means that the teacher knows it is his and so it will always find its way back to him. I can see these being very popular when he starts school and we have all his uniform to label. 
Each of the other items also are useful for tagging his things. Pencils ,which always seem to go missing, shoes and even the small name labels which are perfect for his toys that he sometimes takes to nursery with him. 

Artist Series Activity Pack
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I think this set is fantastic as it has everything you need for your little artist to show his true colours and personality in drawings whilst we have the comfort of knowing that he wont lose his possessions. The Large Pocket Pencil case is the perfect size for taking Thomas's reading books to school and has a handy zip so nothing can fall out. The fact that it has his name is ideal too so we can differentiate whose is whose. 
It comes with an activity book, full of cute little games and activities to keep his mind ticking, and a mini scribbler which is the perfect size for Thomas's little drawings. Not only them but it comes with a pack of coloured markers and colouring pencils. Tag them with the pencil labels from the value pack above and he's got instant personalised pencils. 

Drink Bottle
One thing that Thomas is always in need of is a drink bottle, especially in this hot weather as he is forever drinking water to keep him hydrated and cool. We usually would send him to nursery with a plastic sports bottle which had a sticker on his with Thomas's name wrote onto it. This became a problem though as not only did the water become warm after a while but the label would come off when it was getting washed out. The Stuck On you personalised drink bottle combats all of these issues. It is made from stainless steel which keeps the bottle insulated and cool for longer and also comes personalised, as you'd expect from Stuck On you, with Thomas's name and design which is the 'Space Journey' design. Thomas loves the fact that he has his own special bottle to take to nursery with him.

Personalised Book
Thomas loves learning his numbers and letter and so I think these books are a good idea. They again come personalised with the child's name and have sections inside either counting or reciting the alphabet. When a letter/number is learned, the page can be coloured in, dated and then on to the next respective letter of number in order. 
I chose the 123 Learning Book as Thomas loves to count and I thought that this would be great to help him to learn what each number looked like. 

I cannot believe the quality and value of the Stuck On You range and give the range a big thumbs up for durability and customer service.

Artist Series Lunch box £18.99
5+ Value Pack of Labels £24.99
Artist Series Activity Pack £24.99
Drink bottle £15.99
Personalised Book £12.99

You can follow Stuck On You on Facebook, on Twitter and on Google+

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- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions

14 July 2013

20 Weeks...

Based on my initial scan, today I would have been 20 weeks pregnant.
Half way through our third pregnancy and time to start getting everything sorted.

This week would have been our date to get to see our little bundle again at a scan and hopefully get a glimpse of the sex of our baby.
I won't lie, I'm gutted. Gutted because I wanted a little girl. A mini me who I could dress up in cute dresses and play all the things that I used to play when I was little.

Time to start decorating our spare room into coordinating colours and buying all the baby essentials ready for our arrival.

Clothes, will they be pink or blue? None actually, I hate blue is for boys and pink being for girls so I mix colours a lot. I'm not one of those people that would have everything pink for a girl. I think it looks too much and overbearing but that's just me and my thoughts.

But sadly no, none of this will happen. No one will be buying gender specific clothing, toys and essentials. We won't be getting all giddy going to the gender scan or any other things that we would usually do at around this time.

It's so sad to realise what we have missed out on.

13 July 2013

Project 365 Week 28

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We've had a mixed week this week. The weather has been lovely so we've been outside a lot having fun in the sun. First of all we got crafty, painting some little signs to out into our plant pots. We have some sunflowers and pansy's growing at the moment and can't wait for them to bloom. 

Round at my parents house, this was the rare occasion where I could get a photo with their dog, Sam. Sam is, in fact, camera shy and will walk away if he sees one. Luckily, he always sits next to Thomas (he's been very protective of him since he was born) and so as soon as he turned to face me, I managed to get this photo of them all. 

No matter where we go, Thomas love to go on the rides. This one was a Ben and Holly one and Thomas loved riding it. 

Waiting for the bus to go swimming, the heat was immense and so Thomas went to relax under the shade of a tree. He loves going swimming and so we try to go quite a lot. 

One of the rare occasions when Thomas sleeps during the day. I noticed that he was quite hot and coughing and so let him sleep for a bit and he seemed quite poorly on waking up.

Straight away we knew something was wrong. Thomas was up a lot of the night screaming about his mouth and throat hurting. Assuming he had tonsillitis, I made him an appointment for the GP. There we were told that he had something called Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease which gives painful ulcers in the mouth and throat and can cause rashes and blisters on the hands and feet. With it being a virus, there is nothing a GP can do apart from prescribe paracetamol and plenty of rest. 
We have been alternating between paracetamol and ibuprofen and already, it seems to be not as painful for him. 

Since Thomas is a bit more upbeat today, we got the pool out. It is way too warm to be stuck in the house so we played in the garden. My brother and his friends came round and they all enjoyed playing in the pool and trying to throw each other in, including drenching me meaning I ended up having to change clothes 3 times by the end of the day.
I don't care though, it's only water and did cool me down, It's so much fun to just be able to act like children for a bit.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

12 July 2013

Children Born Out of Wedlock

Oh yes, I am breeching my no ranting rule and am starting a debate about this. In fact, not a debate, there should be no debate about this (I realise that I said debate too many times in that last sentence!) but here goes.

The Telegraph posted yesterday that Most children will be born out of wedlock by 2016 because of the decline in marriage. The proportion of children born to unmarried mothers hit a record 47.5 per cent last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure has risen from 25 per cent in 1988 and just 11 per cent in 1979. 

Tim Loughton, the former Children's minister, has called on the government to introduce tax breaks for married couples to help stop the decline and he says "If people are prepared to make a public declaration to each other in front of their friends and family they are more likely to stay together. Without marriage people drift in and out of relationships very easily."

Really, is that true because I think he it totally wrong. I have plenty of friends who have been together for years and have never been married, nevertheless are totally committed to each other whereas I also have another friend who has been married twice and now twice divorced too. I think this is to do with the individual person and not whether they are married or not. 

He goes on to say "In families where parents break up children do less well at school, are more likely to suffer mental health problems and are more likely to have substance abuse problems."

So basically, even if parents are married and said marriage starts to break up, they should still be together in a loveless marriage just for their kids? Wouldn't that in fact be worse? I would much rather see my parents be happy separate than unhappy together. Again, I think this is down to the individual themselves and not based on their parents living arrangements or marital status. 

I find this whole story stupid and unarguable. Why does it matter about a persons marital status when they have children? We don't live in the 1800's any more. We live in a modern world where people are individuals and don't feel the need to marry the first person they go out with. 

If a relationship didn't work when they weren't married then it wouldn't work if a couple were married and would either end up in divorce, bringing the divorce rate soaring (yet another thing for people to moan about!) or would end with the couple staying together for the sake of their children and resenting each other or their children for their loveless lives. 

Is that really what we want? A Country of unhappy married couples staying together for their children's sake, pretending to be happy wishing they weren't together but because the government says they should be, sticking at it and hating each other.

We aren't defined like we used to be, based on our marital status. Women don't hide away nowadays if they are pregnant out of wedlock and we aren't forced to marry if we do fall pregnant.

I believe in marriage as one of the most personal things a person will go through in their life as a couple. It should not be forced upon someone and should only come when the time is right. Having children is the same. None should be taken into lightly and we should be promoting not rushing, not jumping straight into both things until the time is right. Should we be really saying that married couple can get a tax break as an incentive when all this will do is make couples think that they can't afford to separate if the time comes where they don't want to be together any more.

Me personally, I am married. Simon and I will have been married for 5 years on the 28th of this month. It wasn't a decision we took lightly, we didn't have a 'quicky' marriage because I was pregnant, but instead spoke about it, waited until we were both ready and it just felt right. It was just a coincidence that both of our children were born after this time (I fell pregnant on honeymoon!) and in the likelihood that they were born before we got married then so be it. It would not have changed anything. We would still have waited to get married until the time was right and would not have assumed that it was the done thing to do and totter down the aisle with a huge bump just so our children weren't born out of wedlock.

As a country, do we really want a mass amount of marriages that aren't in it for the right reasons? Ruining the sanctity of marriage, making a mockery of it because 'the government says we should be married'. Shouldn't we be talking about how special, how immense, how much of a step getting married is. How important it is and that it shouldn't be gone into lightly. Too many these days end up in divorce and this should not be happening. Marriage is for life and I for one, will never, and I mean never, get divorced. I do not believe in divorce (that is a whole new argument but my personal belief) and think that by the government trying to push people into marriage will just cause a higher divorce rate and marriage becoming mundane, not special any more and that would be a huge shame.

Sorry, I'm babbling now and have probably repeated myself over and over!

Shouldn't we be promoting a healthy relationship, whether married or not, as long as you are happy and your children are happy then that's the most important thing. 

11 July 2013

The Charcoal Challenge

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One thing you need to think about when organising a barbecue is the price of everything. This post is entry into #TheCharcoalChallenge  from Money Supermarket whereby I show how I can host a barbecue for only £50.
Food and drinks, not forgetting charcoal and other accessories can add up and become quite expensive. I'm going to give you my tips on keeping the price down and having a great day without the huge cost.

First of all is buying the charcoal. Now, if you've had a barbecue before, you will know that ordinary charcoal is, well uhmm... crap! (for want of a better word). After spending ages trying to light it, buying fire-lighters, lighting gel and trying to get the option of throwing turps onto it out of my head (do NOT try that!) I gave up and last time we ended up cooking the food on the grill instead. So don't go for ordinary charcoal. Go instead for Lumpwood charcoal which comes in an instant lighting bag. You basically put the bag into the barbecue and set that alight. It then burns all the charcoal inside, lighting simple and easy without having to buy all the extra lighting fluids. You can pick up a 3kg bag for around £4.99 but since our barbecue is big, we buy two bags.

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Next up is buying food and drinks. This can get expensive as for some reason, as soon as the weather gets warm, supermarkets bring out their own ranges of barbecue food and hike the prices up. So we make our own.
Marinades are easy to do and the spices you need are usually really cheap at around maybe 50p per pack.
We are doing pork steaks, pork belly strips, chicken drumsticks and chicken kebabs and bought different marinades to suit. Barbecue flavour marinades, garlic and herb, Chinese and many more.
Simply put the meat into a bowl, add a little oil and tip in the marinade and mix in with your hands. Then cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours, overnight would be best.
For burgers and sausages always go for bulk packs as these are usually better value for money. We buy the bulk pack of 20 fresh sausages from Asda for £3.
You can purchase salad boxes which are already cut up but these are never great value. Opted instead for full sized products and cut them up yourself into a nice salad bowl at a fraction of the cost. A big bag of potatoes to make jacket spuds and you can even use them to make your own potato salad.

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Somewhere always has a sale on beer, it's just a case of looking around at the supermarkets to find the best price. We managed to buy a case of Budweiser for £10 and the rest were brought by guests. We hosted the party and they brought the booze. Always a great way to cut down on money.

Next up is thinking of a theme. We were planning a pirate theme but after looking at the price of costumes and the fact that this heat-wave we are getting means that we want more clothes off than on, we decided against that and instead opted for a water fight party.
With it being summer, water guns are easy to come by and are usually quite cheaply priced. We bought a pack of 3 small ones from our local pound shop and then bought 2 huge ones from Asda at 2 for £6.
Jugs and cups to make up the rest and even the hosepipe for those thrilling freezing soaks and we were away.
Not only is it fun but it's also great for the kids as it keeps them cool.

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We had a fantastic day and it was made even more special by the fact that it was my parents 28th Wedding Anniversary and so was great for them to have a nice day spent with the whole family.

We spent the whole of our £50 on having a great time. The costs were:
£20 on food
£2 on juice
£9.99 on beer
£8 on water guns
£9.98 on charcoal
Total - £49.97

I think that hosting a party for only £50 is great and exceedingly cheap as long as you budget and do your research to find where you can buy the best products from.

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At the end of the day it was great to chill out in the now shaded garden and laugh about the day we had just had. Great fun having a huge water fight and lovely food and company is what made it special.
Both kids fell asleep on the sofa not long after everyone went. The sign of a great party!
All that was left to do was to clean up afterwards. Oh, can't we leave it till tomorrow?

- I was sent a £50 to take part in this challenge and all thoughts and experiences are my own honest opinions

10 July 2013

Wednesday Words - Bounty Mutiny

I didn't actually have a post for this week but with stuff that I have seen recently, I thought I'd write this one.

Opinions, thoughts, judgements. Everyone is different. Everyone has their own opinions, their own thoughts and make their own judgements. No one is alike for everything.

This week I have seen people moaning and arguing over the Bounty mutiny. Something, to be honest, I couldn't care less about.

In hospital, when I had Thomas, I remember the Bounty lady coming round. I turned down having a photo taken. Not because they were crap or because she was rude but because I'm tight-fisted (it must be the Yorkshire in me!). Why pay for someone else to take a photo when I can do it myself for free?
That being said, she was never rude to me, we simply had a chat and then off she toddled.

When I had Charlie it was different. The injection which makes the placenta come away made me sick. If I held Charlie I felt ill and so was bed ridden. At this point in time, I could have done with someone coming round for a chat but no, no one.
I never saw a bounty lady. We got the bounty packs from a nurse which I felt a bit gutted about as I was feeling low and a little natter would ave perked me up a bit.

I never had a problem with the bounty ladies coming round and had never heard complaints about them before, until now that is.

I don't really get the bounty mutiny and to be honest, I am really not that bothered. Why are so many people arguing over something so trivial, something that most people don't even think about. OK, you had a bad experience with one Bounty lady, so we better shut the whole thing down. Sack everyone because one person was rude. Is that right?

I don't really care to be honest. Shut it down, keep it running, I really couldn't give two hoots. You see I believe that we shouldn't dwell on the past, get over it. Live for today, with your children. Are you really upset that a Bounty lady was rude to you? Do you really take offence that easily?

This shouldn't even be a debate (and on my blog it's not) but remember that there are people jobs, their livelihoods at stake.

Me? I loved the freebies. That's all I have to say!

Wednesday Words

9 July 2013

Play to Learn by TOMY


Any toys that are educational are ideal in my eyes. Not only do children get to play and have some fantastic toys, but they also learn in the process. What's not to love? The TOMY Play to Learn range is just that. 
A range of toys which not only come in different shapes and sizes, but are also perfect for learning and growing a child's mind.

So when we were sent some of this range to review, I couldn't wait to get to grips and help the boys in learning new things. 

Yorkshire Blog, Parent Blog, Mummy Blogging, Pic 'n' Pop
This is a lovely toy. Not only do children get to run around the room magically collecting balls into it the popper but you also get to shoot them back out of the chute afterwards. 
You just simply roll over the ball with the popper unit and it will pick the balls up ready for the fun to start when they get shot out again. It is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, doesn't require batteries as it is all mechanical and is suitable for children 18 month and over.
The only problem we have found with the Pic n Pop is that it comes with 5 balls yet only 4 will fit into the popper machine. Cue an argumentative 4 year old who doesn't like to be told what to do and we had problems because Thomas kept trying to squeeze the fifth ball in and the popper was squeaking (even toys don't like being stretched!).
After a bit of explaining and eventually hiding the fifth ball, we got back on track. Both boys love running round the room with it and shooting the colourful balls all around.

Hide 'n' Squeak Eggs
The staple of the TOMY range. The Hide n Squeak Eggs are loved by everyone. 'Crack' open the eggs to reveal brightly coloured press-and-cheep chicks inside.
Each chick has a coordinating shell, with the eyes matching the colours inside. The shape sorting game is great for eager learners as it is based around matching egg bases to the right shaped hole in the box to fit.

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Mr Colour Maker

This was the toy that we couldn't wait to test. Mr Colour Maker is the first toy of this kind to teach children colours and colour creation in an engaging and fun way with no mess, the paint is imaginary and based on light-play.
You simply hold one of the 3 colour pots over Mr Colour Maker and watch as the mixing pot lights up with that colour. Or so that's what's supposed to happen. No matter how much Thomas and I tried, we could not get the colours to mix together.
The premise is that, once you mix 2 colours into the pot, they will combine to create the new colour, red and blue to make purple, yellow and red to make orange and so on and yes, this did happen sometimes but other times it seemed to stick at the first colour and not change.
I'm not entirely sure if we were doing it correctly though as my husband can get it to work (it must like men!) and change colours, mix together and help children learn about colours and how they can combine.
It does however, sing the rainbow song, which is great for Thomas as he now sings along with it and the pot lights up to the corresponding colour when it says each of the colours too.

To see the toys in use then check out our video.

I think these toys are great for children around about the age where they are learning new things and taking things in easily. They not only promote learning but learning through play so children get to run around with their favourite toys whilst also learning new skills. 

The Play to Learn range can be purchased from all good retailers.
You can follow TOMY on Facebook and on Twitter for all updates about their new and upcoming toy ranges.

Adventures of a Yorkshire Mum

- I was sent this product/s to review but all thoughts and experience are my own honest opinions