28 October 2014

My 1st Years Personalised Star Jacquard Knit Blanket

I have followed My 1st Years over social media since they started out in 2010 and in 2011 and I was lucky enough to win one of their giveaways to win a gorgeous blue fleece blanket which I had personalised with Charlie's name. He absolutely loved the blanket and, every night, would go to sleep swaddled in it. 

So, as you can imagine, when they asked if I want to review one of their new Personalised Star Jacquard Knit Blankets for bump, I couldn't say yes fast enough. 

The Star Jacquard Knit Blanket is luxurious and snuggly with a subtle star pattern that makes it a little bit more stylish and interesting, the perfect gift for a newborn. It measures 100cm by 100cm and so is very generously sized, enough to use as a pram blanket or for sleeping in the cot and is made from 100% cotton so is super soft against babies skin. 

The blanket can be personalised with your choice of text colour and font. Choice of 2 different fonts and 8 different colours. I wanted to go quite neutral so opted for a taupe colour text which is stunning. 

I told them my chosen personalisation and a few days later is turned up, absolutely stunning. The personalisation means that it will be a gorgeous keepsake for our baby to hold on to until he is grown up. As you may notice though, I have blurred out the text, this isn't for any other reason than we haven't announced our babies name yet and don't want people knowing until he arrives and finds it out for himself. 

Every My 1st Years order arrives beautifully gift wrapped inside their luxury gift boxes with a large white bow just to make it extra special. I love this as it means that it is the perfect place to order presents from as they come ready to be gifted. 

The Star Jacquard Knit Blanket can be found on the baby shower section of the website as it would be the perfect gift to surprise a new or mummy-to-be with but for me, it will be a keepsake that is not only for life, but will be used loads also. The blanket is going straight in to my hospital bag to use to bring our bundle home in. A blanket to keep him snuggly warm on his first few days and one that he will cherish as he grows. 

You can purchase the Personalised Star Jacquard Knit Blanket for £25 from the My 1st Years website.

27 October 2014

Do You Throw Out Your Babies Clothes?

Did you know that 87% of new mums resort to throwing away baby clothes because the stains are too bad and that soiled baby clothes are costing new parents £600 a year to replace, that’s a staggering £4.2m to families across the UK.

I remember when my children were babies. Sometimes, stains were so bad and tiredness has set in, meaning that I just ended up throwing whole outfits away instead of trying to get rid of the staining. 

6 in 10 mums worry about using harsh stain removal products on baby clothes. I was one of these mums and wouldn't use stain removal products at all on anything for my babies as I assume that they might be too harsh for my baby’s skin.

Asda have revealed that 87% of parents have had to throw away their baby’s clothes due to staining, with almost half of parents (48%) doing this at least once a month.

I'm sure any mum knows what colour everything baby related is, orange. Orange poo, orange baby food and juice too and most of these just don't like to come out in the wash. I remember doing extra loads of washing every week just to try and remove stains from my babies clothing. 

In light of this, Asda has introduced a new laundry range, designed especially for babies and formulated for the softest and snuggliest of washes to keep mum’s worries at bay. Adding to its already popular Little Angels brand, the range of detergents includes non-bio gel, non-bio liquid, non-bio capsules, non-bio powder, fabric conditioner and a non-bio oxy powder stain remover – perfect on the toughest and messiest of stains, yet gentle on your baby’s delicate skin.

I think this is a great idea as, trying to protect baby's skin is so important when they are newborns and so having detergents that are specifically formulated for babies is an important thing to have. Little Angels laundry detergents are available in Asda stores and online now, priced from just £1.50.

These stats are from a poll commissioned by Asda to launch its new range of Little Angels detergents.

26 October 2014

Win A Rose Gold Cottonwood Necklace With Grace & Valour

Grace & Valour is a new store which is passionate about stylish covetable jewellery. Designer in chief Rachel is a serial collector of jewels, curator of quotes, general lover of quirkiness and, as someone who has worked with Rachel many times, I can say that she is an absolutely lovely person. Rachel brings her 20 years of design experience to Grace & Valour.

Grace & Valour is named to reflect Rachel’s belief that you need both a spot of bravery and some good grace to overcome life’s trials and tribulations & keep smiling which I think is a great way to name a business, something that you believe in. 

The website isn't quite launched yet but when it does go live, it will sell the best quality jewellery, made with great care. All of the pieces will be either designed by Rachel, made by the studio or curated to bring you something unusual, their design studio is on a family farm in deepest Rutland.

Grace and Valour designs are mainly Sterling silver, in some instances we uses Silver coated with Gold or Rose Gold vermeil, semi precious stones & Swarovski Crystals.

I have teamed up with Grace & Valour today to bring you a gorgeous giveaway from one of their jewellery collections, a beautiful rose gold Cottonwood leaf necklace which is on a 24" chain with a 2" extension from the Blowing In The Wind collection. 

There's no doubt about it, rose gold is having a fashion moment with its warm, rich tones that are perfect for a dash of Autumnal colour. This stylish collection features hand picked real leaves, preserved with different finishes. Each leaf is a handcrafted piece of wearable art, unique and totally individual.

If you haven't seen the leaves, they're stunningly delicate with immense detail, but surprisingly robust.  With finishes as varied as gold, silver, brass, copper, irridescent, vintage silver and now rose gold they can be worn with almost any outfit, both as a dramatic choker, or at a fashionable long necklace length and both singularly or doubled up for maximum impact.

All purchases from Grace & Valour will arrive gift ready. Your purchases will be wrapped in purple tissue resplendent in their gift boxes or black wrap & carefully tied with ribbon. The Cottonwood leaf prize will arrive beautifully packaged in its own eco box.

To be in with a chance to win this gorgeous rose gold Cottonwood leaf necklace from Grace & Valour, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. 

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 required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

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.

Ends midnight 23rd November

25 October 2014

Steamed Pumpkin Soup Recipe From Hotpoint

With Halloween just around the corner, we are all getting ready for the big day by stocking up on pumpkins for making spooky creations in preparation for the terrifying trick or treaters. The worst part though, is after scooping out all of the insides of the pumpkin to be carved, all the goodness gets thrown away.

That's why Hotpoint have come up with a yummy Steamed Pumpkin Soup recipe to combat this and to help you get the most out of your pumpkins. Not only are there ghoulishly spooky creations, but they taste nice also.  

Once you have carved your masterpiece and scared the trick or treaters, use the leftovers to make a soup that really is to die for. 
The ultra stylish  Hotpoint Steam Blender is perfect for whipping up a delicious and nutritious Steamed Pumpkin Soup as it can all be steamed, cooked and blended from this one product, no fuss, no mess. 

If you want to make Hotpoint's Steamed Pumpkin Soup, then follow the instructions below. Note: this recipes uses the Hotpoint Steam Blender. 

2 finely chopped onions
1 kg peeled, deseeded and chop into chunks pumpkin
500mls hot vegetable stock
100mls double cream

1. Place the onions and pumpkin into the glass blender jug
2. Steam for 7 - 10 minutes until pumpkin is soft
3. Add the hot stock
4. Blend until smooth
5. Add the double cream and blitz for a few seconds
6. Serve in heated soup bowls

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
And that's it. Such a simple way to create a yummy, warming soup that will be a great way to warm yourself and your children after a long night trick or treating. I love that there is no messing around as the Hotpoint Steam Blender does everything for you. 

24 October 2014

26 Weeks Pregnancy Update

Today I am 26 weeks pregnant. The past few month have flown by and I'm not under any illusion about how the rest will fair out. I know that after this stage, the rest of the pregnancy will drag. Whilst my little boy is inside, growing, I am out here getting impatient and wanting to meet him. 

Only another 14 weeks left (hopefully no longer than that like with my other 2 boys!)

My little boy seems to be getting stronger by the day now, constantly kicking me whilst I sleep and has a very strong kick I must admit. He is now around 2lb in weight and 14.5 inches in length so is starting to really grow now. 

For me though, I feel totally shattered. Even writing this now, I am struggling to sit at the laptop and type without and overwhelming feeling of being in discomfort. Sitting up straight is a major problem at the moment and I now find myself slouching to one side just to get into a more comfortable position, sometimes even resorting to lay down. 

Food wise, I have been craving chocolate a lot this week. I find this too horrible though as, at the moment, when I eat chocolate I get dizzy and feel ill and so it's been hard to have these cravings. I've told my husband that once this baby is born, he needs to buy me a huge hamper of chocolate to make up for the months of missing it. 

I next see my midwife in 2 weeks and so will probably update you all again after then. At that time she will be pinching more blood to make sure my levels are okay, I will get to hear my babies heartbeat and we'll be talking breastfeeding. 

How did you find you coped as your bump grew and the tiredness and aches set in?

23 October 2014

Rosehips To The Rescue - Phytacol Giveaway

Nothing can take away the joy of a new born child, but pregnancy certainly has its challenges and stretchmarks is one of them, probably the main worry for new mums. I remember worrying so much when I was pregnant with my first child, but now I've kind of got used to the fact that they are there. 

If you want to combat them though, the 2 new products from Phytacol are for you. Phytacol comes in an oil (Phytaoil) and lotion (Phytalotion) format and has been specifically created by experts to help beat stretchmarks as they have utilised the anti-stretch mark properties in rosehip oil.  

Rosehip oil has recently become famed for its use as a moisturiser, but research shows there is more to the hedgerow fruit than simply beating dry skin and now, those who have been using rosehip oil have found that it has the ability to smooth scars and stretchmarks.

It is found to be particularly rich in essential fatty acids and contain a substance called bioflavonoids. Fatty acids are essential for healthy skin and bioflavonoids are known to be powerful anti-oxidants that have been shown to protect the body and skin against harmful substances that cause ageing skin.

During tests in the US, tretinoin, a Vitamin A derivative that is also contained in rosehips, was found to be helpful in combating wrinkles and helped smooth skin tones.

Phytacol utilises the active ingredients of the whole rosehip extract, and rosehip seed oil, with other goodies for the skin (including vitamins A and E, and natural oils of apricot kernel, lavender, lime and geranium) to create a product that really packs a punch when it comes to beating stretch marks. Both the lotion and oil are easily absorbed into the skin and contain no mineral oil, synthetic fragrances or colours.

Phytaoil is priced at £10.99 and Phytalotion £9.99, for further details please visit the Phytacol website. 

Now, how would you like to win both Phytaoil and Phytalotion to try out on your skin? Well, all you need to do is enter using the Rafflecopter form below to be in with a chance.

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 required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

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.

Ends 16th November

22 October 2014

Yes I Have Stretch-marks, Who Cares?!

You know what I am sick of? People assuming that I am gutted about my stretchmarks, People thinking that it's okay to point them out and blame my children for ruining my body. People who seem to put others down for having them or love pointing out that they had 5 kids and never got any.

You do know that pregnancy, in fact, is not a competition!

I really don't care that I have stretchmarks. The same as I don't care if you have none. 

Every pregnancy is different, none are the same and I think that's a great thing. We will never know exactly how each of us feels as we go through it as everyone is different. It would be pretty boring if everything was the same for everyone. 

Being honest, I got loads of stretchmarks when I was pregnant with Thomas, with Charlie I got an extra one and so far no more in this pregnancy. Although, I can imagine I will do towards the end. And you know what? If I do then so be it. 

I didn't get pregnant thinking that everything would go smoothly. That I would have 9 months where I would be glowing and where my boobs would rocket to twice their size. That, within minutes of giving birth, I would go back down to a size 10. That I would be the perfect parent and my child would never cry. 

Because you know what, none of that is true. 

Pregnancy, for me, is horrendous. Morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, heartburn, dizziness and braxton hicks are all but a few things I go through in pregnancy. Whereas my sisters, 2 of which are currently pregnant also, get none of this. Their pregnancies run smoothly and I don't mind. 

At the end of the day, I am just happy that I can conceive and that my baby is sticky this time round. 

You don't need to be in competition with each other. It's an amazing time, so savour it, as once it's over, you'll miss it.

Yes, I have stretchmarks, Who cares? I sure don't!

19 October 2014

Read With Biff, Chip And Kipper App

Now Thomas is at school full time, he has been reading with the school and learning phonics to help his knowledge grow. One thing the school use is the Biff, Chip and Kipper range of reading books. Thomas absolutely loves these and regularly brings them home to practice reading with. 

To help him at home more though, I was offered to review the new Biff, Chip And Kipper app from Gazoob, which I have downloaded to my phone for Thomas to use.

Gazoob is a developer and publisher of children’s interactive and educational digital apps and games and recently launched ‘Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper’ as a range of interactive reading apps.

Created in association with Oxford University Press and starring the much loved characters from Oxford Reading Tree, the ‘Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper’ range features six levels of reading and phonics books, complementing the learning children are undertaking at school and giving parents the opportunity to support their child’s reading at home.

The app is created to be educational but not boring and so has fun stories that have a lot of repetitive words to help children learn them and also includes games and puzzles too. I love the fact that Thomas can now use my phone for learning without him constantly playing on my games instead. 

When you get to the menu, it is fairly easy to use. You start off on level one and can swipe right to get to the higher levels, Once you've decided on your book, it will come up with a list of common words that are used within that story and that the child will be practising when reading it. You can also choose whether you want to use the auto play feature whereby the whole book will be read to them, or they can select to read it by themselves and scroll through the pages as they read. 

Each page only has a minimal amount of words and the picture depicts what is happening in the story. Children can read the words as they go, or if they get a little stuck, they can simply press on the word and the app will read it out to them. This is a great way for a child to learn to read whilst parents can be happy about the fact that their child can check a word they are unsure of.

What's more, whilst reading the book, your child can enjoy finding things in the picture that are associated with the story. This might be rhyming words 'dog, log, frog' or words that begin with.. type games. And, at the end of some of the books are a little treat with a game to play. Thomas enjoyed the mazes which he got to work out and help the characters get to the other side. 

Overall, I think that this app is a great learning tool for children to help them learn along with the Biff, Chip and Kipper books which they get from school. As well as teaching children how to pronounce words and make sentences, the app also teaches children how to use technology too as they need to know how to swipes, click and move around the screen whilst enjoying the books. 

I also love the fact that it's not just about reading the books but also, it keep children interested by asking and teaching about rhyming words, the alphabet and games too. 

The Read With Biff, Chip And Kipper App is available on iPhone and iPad from the App Store , Android from Google Play and the Windows Store.

ChattyFeet Review and Giveaway

We are a family of childish people. There is nowt better than playing outside and having a ride on scooters, and that's just me and the hubby. Dressing up at Halloween and getting the house all scary too and even going mad at Christmas and doing up the whole house. 

So, as you can imagine, when I find out that a company do funky socks, for adults as well as children, I couldn't wait to give them a try out.

ChattyFeet are all about the fun-factor. For that moment when you slip off your shoes and just want to slide across the kitchen floor. You can do it with the help of your friends on your feet. The funky characters are so quirky and each has their own name.

We were sent 3 pairs each, a matching set of Mr. Zukkato socks that we can all wear at the same time. Mr. Zukkato is our friendly resident vampire that sits on our toes. Be careful though as he has a lot of bite and you don't want to wake up with a missing toe!

It's great that you can purchase matching socks in all the different sizes. The boys had 2-4 years (shoe size 7-9) for Charlie and 4-7 years (shoe size 9-12) for Thomas. 
I had size medium which come in at a shoe size of between 4-8 and my husband had large which are 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 in shoe size. 

The rest were a mixture of different styles...

The hubby was sent a pair of Don Cottone and a pair of Kloss The Clown socks. Don Cottone is the sockfather of socks. A bit of a gangster man who keep all your other socks in check. No longer will you have socks going missing in the dryer when Don Cottone is around to patrol his patch. Kloss The Clown is one funny character, perfect for a novelty birthday gift, to spread a cheery smile.

I was sent La Diva and Loli. La Diva is a music lover, an opera singer and the perfect pair to wear whilst you're practising your X-Factor audition, as if it's bad, you can simply pin the blame on her. Loli has her finger on the pulse of pop culture and will keep you company whilst you're watching your favourite fan fiction or reading a good book. For me, she looks a little like a Russian doll. 

The boys both received a pair of Commander Awesome Jr Kids socks. Commander Awesome is the perfect socks to wear when you are out on an adventure. He can't wait to leap in to action and show you his bright ideas to get you in to some funky situations.

Thomas then received a pair of Gelly Jr socks and Charlie received a pair of Meggy Jr socks. Gelly Jr loves expeditions and will no doubt help in finding all those treasures that are hiding out there whereas Meggy Jr is the perfect playmate as she has a love of games.  

And now down to the nitty gritty. The sizings are great and each pair fit us perfectly. the boys pairs have a lot of room and will fit them for ages yet. The bold, bright colours stand out and there is a great eye for details put in to making these socks. I like that you can look at the socks you are wearing and create your own little world of imagination just by looking at their facial expressions.

I love the socks designs and that they all come with their own little story. For me, these would be the perfect little gift for a child or adult, whether it be for a birthday or a stocking filler and at £7 for an adult pair and £5 for a children's pair, they are an affordable range of funky socks. 

You can find out more information about the brand and purchase the socks from the ChattyFeet website.

And now, how would you like to try them out for yourself? Well you are in with a chance as one reader will be the winner of 2 pairs of your choice (subject to stock), one adult pair and one child's pair. All you have to do to win is to fill in the Rafflecopter form below and let me know which 2 pairs you would pick if you won. Would you go matching or go different?

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 required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

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.

Ends Midnight 9th November

18 October 2014

That One Big Call

Have you ever been waiting for something to happen in your life. Just watching everything pass you by until, one day, you get that one big call that changes it all. It can be from anyone, a friend, family member or someone you work with, but you once you've received it, that something has to change.

That's what happened with Jo Malone...

As I'm sure you know, Jo Malone is mostly known for her fragrance ranges, probably mostly for her candles. She does a range of bath and body products and fragrances for the home that are all absolutely stunning. 

The video below "The Big Call" is about how Jo Malone started out, all the troubles she went through and how, in the end, she accomplished her beautiful fragrance range. 

As you listen to her story, we get to learn a lot about what she has been through. Starting her first job at 16 which was in a flower shop and loving how the fragrance of the flowers surrounded life. The flower shop gave her a creative library of fragrances and this ended up forming her business which she opened by buying plastic tubs and worked in a tiny kitchen to get creative.

Unfortunately, Jo sold her business when she was diagnosed with cancer which eventually she beat after fighting it for year. After this time, she wanted to get back in to making her own fragrances but everything that had happened, left her a little disheartened, to the point where she nearly gave up, until, one day, her friend gave her a call...

Have you ever had that one call which changed everything for you?

17 October 2014

Aldi Halloween Challenge

As I've said in previous posts, I absolutely love Halloween and I try to show that to my kids. We bake scary cakes and biscuits, collect loads of sweets for trick or treaters and dress up the house and garden top to bottom as well as dressing up ourselves. 

So, when Aldi sent us out the new Halloween Play Doh set and set us the challenge of using this to create scary creatures and whatever we could think of. I couldn't wait to give this a try as the boys love Play Doh. 

It was a nice day outside when we got the kit and so decided to do some crafting outside (that way I didn't have to worry about the Play Doh getting squished in my carpets either). Setting out a tea towel to place our creations on, we got to work.

The bag shows a few ideas on the bag such as ghosts, bats and cats etc and so we did try a few of them but also used some cookie cutters to make our own creations too, although some aren't really that scary.

Each pack comes with 5 different colours but 3 pots of each, this way you don't need to open them all and can just use what you need. The mini pots are fab and each is the perfect size for creating a monster. 

We got rolling, cutting, piecing together and come up with some designs...

The pumpkin was super cute and Thomas enjoyed making it, as well as the ghost too, Using cookie cutters, we made some faces too, using green as the face and purple and white for features which did kind of look a bit scary in the end. 

We made a gingerbread man with purple eyes and then my hubster joined in to create some monsters. A green snake and, what was supposed to start out like a bat, but ended up looking a bit like a stingray. 

It was a fun days activity and we created a lot of creatures and, because we didn't use all the pots, still have some more to do some more activities with too.

The Play Doh Halloween Bag is in store at Aldi now as part of their Halloween Special Buys where you can also find spooky masks, costumes and much, much more.

Creating A Baby Boys Bedroom

I have been trying to put off doing bumps bedroom for a while now. I am not that creative and didn't want it to just be plain and creamy boringness like I see that most are. I want my baby to be able to grow up in it, not having to change every few years to suit a growing boy. 

And so, that's why I've started looking round for inspiration and created a cool mood board to help me with my design. 

We are lucky that we've always had the spare bedroom, the boys always wanted to share and so the extra bedroom is just plain cream at the moment. Being the smallest room, it is still a good size, and will hold everything we need for our baby when he arrives.

So to start, I decided on a colour-way. Since the boys room is medium blue, I decided to go a lighter blue this time. Still blueish but not the same as the other room. Not too garish or anything but just the right shade, darker on the main wall and lighter on the rest. 

Then, thinking about how a room could grow as the child does, I decided on using wall stickers to finish off the walls. For the baby stage, I thought a jungle theme might work. You can get them that come with a central tree and then animals that feature around the sides. Spacing this throughout the room would look so cute and finish off with some small prints. 

I remember just how much stuff I had with my first 2 children and so would love to get fitted storage for everything. One whole wall taken over by cupboards, drawers and shelving so that we needn't worry about needing space to put everything. After searching around, I found the Cassia play room design which I thought would suit this perfectly. 

To match, a gorgeous cot-bed in pine that would not only suit front birth, but would also grow as bump does as the sides can come off to create a junior bed. Not only does this match the furniture but it is super cute too. 

For me, a nursing chair is a must. I remember struggling to feed the boys, slouched in the most uncomfortable chair possible. A nursing chair combats this as they are padded for comfort and glide to help baby drift off to sleep. They usually come with a footstool too just so mum can be extra comfy. The one we have reclines also just in case I get a little snoozy whilst waiting for baby to drift off. 

To finish off the design, I would go for a cute jungle themed rug to match with the walls. That way, the whole room comes together as one and stand out as a lovely little boys room.

The perfect thing about going for this design is that wall stickers and the rug can easily be replaced as our baby grows to suit what he likes and this way, it isn't costing us a fortune to redecorate every few years.

Are you currently pregnant? How would you design a boys room? Do you have some ideas or is it a case of working out what fits together?

In collaboration with Betta Living

16 October 2014

Styling A Blanket Scarf

I not a person that likes wearing scarf's, I find that they get too warm around my neck and make me all hot and bothered thus being uncomfortable. I know that scarf's are supposed to be warm, but for me, they just don't work. I hate the feeling of them being around my neck and much prefer to be free. 

It is a shame though as I always love the look of some of the styles that are on the market, especially the blanket scarf's. You know that ones that are extra large and usually have fabulous prints on them. 

That's why Accessorize have created this fun video showing how to use a blanket scarf in creating different styles. To show you just how creative you can be with a scarf.

First of all, I must admit that I love the scarf they've used in the video. It has such a Bohemian and I can imagine that it would suit a range of different outfits. 

Out of all the styles shown, I love the ones above. 
How creative, to instead of just shawling over the shoulders, to instead  let it flow down and fasten it in place with a belt to create a whole new style. 

I also love the over the shoulder style. It is protective on the neck and will keep you warm, but doesn't look restrictive and, as well as keeping the neck warm, will also keep the shoulders and tops of your arms warm too. 

For me, I love seeing videos that show a creative side to something that is usually only used in winter to keep us warm. I like the creativity and the fact that one scarf can become many different elements on an outfit. 

How do you style your scarf? Are you a regular wearer or do you do it in style?

15 October 2014

Making Messy Fun!

Over the past 5 years, since having children, I have realised that mess isn't actually a bad thing. It means that your children have had fun.

For the first year of Thomas' life, I think I did everything possible to have a tidy house. Cleaning toys away constantly, having towels under the highchair in case of spills, always using a changing may. That was until we went abroad and then I realised just how much fun getting a bit messy can be. 

It was so warm in Spain that most days ice cream was an necessary food item for keeping cool and we all know what that means, a messy child. I have taken many photos of the boys eating like they've never been fed before but I think these ones of Thomas are super cute. 

Of course, it never all went into his mouth and a mess ensued. 

As he grew up this became the norm for everything, toys strewn across the room was a daily occurrence in our house or even, you boxes all emptied out to make a place to sit. That is obviously more fun than playing with toys!

My makeup had to be hidden out of reach once Thomas decided to try on my eyeliner like army stripes and in sure he really shouldn't be eating snow. Definitely not if it's yellow haha!

Then Charlie was born and it all doubled. He loved yoghurts but was really independent and liked feeding himself. I got used to the fact that my carpet now looked like a multi-coloured mural. 

He even managed to get it in his hair, ears and on his eyelashes too, but he does look cute so I can forgive him. 

As boys get older, they just seem to like mud even more. Jumping up and down in muddy puddle I blame of Peppa Pig! But the boys love it. 

Going on walks in the rain becomes a case of who can get muddiest (it's usually Thomas) and to be really honest, when you're jumping in puddles the size of small swimming pools, wellies don't work. We figured this out when, after a walk, we managed to tip half a pintof dirty water out of Thomas' wellies haha. 

But all in all, I must say that I wouldn't change them for the world. Yes, they get dirty, clothing gets ruined, things get wet, but that's how memories are made. 

And when it boils down to it, isn't that we all want? Our children to look back on life knowing that they had fun and got to grow up as children. 

My boys are my world, and even when they emptied out the contents of three toy boxes and proclaimed that they are now to be called 'boy boxes' I can't help but laugh at their cheeky faces. 

This is my entry into the Two Little Fleas messy children competition.
Two Little Fleas

Chocolate Coated Flapjacks Recipe

Flapjacks are a firm favourite in our house. The kids love helping me make them and we're always experimenting by adding fudge, Reece's Pieces, Rolos and chocolate chunks, but today I give you a recipe for chocolate coated flapjacks, simple and easy to do. 

What you will need:
350g oats (we used Jordans Simply Granola for extra bite)
175g butter
150g sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g bar of chocolate

1. Pre-heat oven to 150C and line a 7inch square tin with baking parchment. 
2. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup on a low heat until fully disolved.
3. Add the oats to the pan and let it gently simmer for a few minutes.
4. Pour into the oven tin and squash it down. 
5. Oven bake for 35-40 minutes, leaving longer for a crispier texture.
6. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes   
7. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water.
8. After the flapjacks have cooled, take out of the tin, remove the parchment and spread the chocolate sauce over the top. 
9. Cut into squares and then leave to set.

And that's it, gorgeous, moreish flapjacks that a great treat for adults and children. 

12 October 2014

Q Pootle 5: The Great Space Race DVD Giveaway

My boys are always watching cartoons and CBeebies is one of their favourite channels. There are so many different cartoons to watch and they love them all, especially Q Pootle 5. The stars of the hit CBeebies animated series Q Pootle 5 have now landed on DVD so children can carry on watching the fun. 

Join Q Pootle 5 and his friends Oopsy, Eddi, Stella, Ray, Groobie, Bud-D and Planet Dave as they tackle the everyday problems in 13 episodes. Adventures included on the DVD are:

1. The Great Space Race
2. Pootle's House Guest
3. Groobie's Spacewash
4. A Day With Ray
5. The Biggest Picture Ever
6. Maurice
7. Rocket Bird Oopsy
8. Flower Power
9. Hitting The High Note
10. The Singing Valley
11. Runaway Rocket
12. Eddi's Hat
13. It Came From Outer Space

Q Pootle 5 is fun and engaging, with stories that spark children’s imaginations everywhere and will be a must have for any family when it flies onto shelves later this year.

Check out the trailer below to see just how fun the new DVD is...

It's not just about the adventures though as your children can sing along with Q Pootle 5 and his friends with ‘Okidoki Karaoke’ which is included on the DVD and you can also discover how the series was created with interviews with the cast and crew of the show. 

Not only that but inside the DVD box you will also find a smoothie recipe and short quiz to keep children entertained for longer and to give them a healthy boost whilst watching the DVD.

In addition to the DVD release, Jumbo are releasing a 35 piece puzzle assortment, 4in1 shaped puzzle and giant playing cards and there will be 2 brand new picture books from Walker Books that will arrive in-stores this Autumn, just in time for Christmas. 

Now, how would you like to win a copy of Q Pootle 5: The Great Space Race on DVD? Then all you have to do is follow the Rafflecopter below. 

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 required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

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.

Ends Midnight 2nd November

11 October 2014

Asda's 2 for £14 Toy Sale‏

Now Christmas is getting closer, it's time to start thinking about purchasing presents for those youngsters in your life. I love buying from supermarkets as it makes it so much easier, not having to venture out again in search of presents and toys.

At the moment, Asda have a fantastic deal of 2 for £14 on a range of their toys. We were sent out 2 of the toys to try out and see what we thought of them. we got a Little Tikes Build and Play Dinosaur and a Monster Jam Radio Controlled Car and the boys loved getting to grips with these. 

First of The Build and Play Dinosaur was fantastic for any little boy who loves taking things apart. All the screws can be taken from the dinosaur so he comes apart and then they are also easy to re-attach together to put the dinosaur back in to one piece. 

The toy comes with a plastic screwdriver included and extra screws too so that children can get straight on to the task at hand of unscrewing the bolts. I love the fact that not only is it a toy that can be played with in this way, but it has moveable parts too and small wheels on the bottom for easy manoeuvrability.

The Monster Jam car is a fab toy. We always have problems with the controllers getting lost but not with this remote controlled car as it has a wire which attaches it to the car. Not only does it go super quick across the floor, but it has a cute little ramp that makes car noises as the car rolls over the top which the kids love. 

It is easy to control, both boys have had a go and love the fact that it has the ramp to jump about from. A must have for little boys that love fast cars that can jump around. 

For us, we have taken advantage of the 2 for £14 deal and stocked up on some toys for the boys for Christmas which I can't wait for them to see on the big day. And what's more, if you want some great deals then make sure you get down to Asda from the 14th October as you could save up to half price on over 100 toys in the retailers exclusive toy sale. 

Both of these toys and much more are available in-store and on the Asda website now in the 2 for £14 deal. 

9 October 2014

My Experience Of Braxton Hicks

Braxton Hicks are horrendous to have. Imagine having severe labour pains that constantly come and go but don't result in you having a baby. Last week was my first experience of them in this pregnancy and I briefly wrote about it last week in my 23 week update and so I thought I'd talk about them a little bit. 

What are Braxton Hicks?
Braxton Hicks are a mild contraction that start happening around the middle of your pregnancy. They don't usually affect you as much if it's your first baby but can get worse the more pregnancies you go through. They are basically the muscles of your uterus tightening (like a contraction) and are infrequent and non-rhythmic so totally different to a contraction on that score. 

If you place your hands on your bump when you feel the pain coming on, you will feel how hard your uterus becomes and thus your bump will be hard too. Each pain usually lasts for about 30 seconds, and probably won't cause you any discomfort but sometimes they can be very strong and give labour type pains too. 

In actual fact, your body has been contracting since you were about 7 weeks pregnant but it's so subtle that you cannot feel it. Braxton Hicks are just these contractions but more painful and as your uterus gets bigger, you are able to feel them more as they come on. 

Braxton Hicks are not dangerous and are totally normal. They are basically, your bodies way of keeping your muscles working and toned ready for labour. But, if the pains become more frequent, stronger and last longer, it's best to call your midwife just to be on the safe side.

My Experience 
Last week, I had the most horrible case of Braxton Hicks, worse than I've ever had before. I had dropped Thomas off at school and was just popping upstairs to get changed before going out to get Christmas presents. 

At the moment I got upstairs, a huge pain swept across the whole of my bump and pelvic area making me drop to the floor. It all seemed to be a daze. I remember being scrunched on the floor in pain, on and off, when my husband came running in the room in a panic. I tried getting off the floor but couldn't and in distress, I started feeling dizzy and tingly. My husband managed to get me onto the bed where I laid there for about 10 minutes sobbing and clutching my bump, until eventually, they wore off. 

It all went really fast and I even remember at some point my husband asking if I needed the midwife or an ambulance, although I don't remember replying to him. Once they had wore off, I was totally fine. Like nothing had even happened. After a sit down and a drink, we still managed to go out shopping and I was fine. 

It was a scary 10 minutes though that not only affected me but my husband also. I think, in that time, he realised just how much pregnancy can affect the mother. 

8 October 2014

Halloween At Aldi Review and Giveaway

Whenever Aldi do their Special Buy events I am always one of the first to scout about and see what deals there are to be had. The week marks the start of their Halloween event which does not disappoint. 

A huge choice of children's Halloween costumes are in store now priced at only £3.99 each. I think it's absolutely fantastic to be able to get a  that cheap as, being a scrimper like me, I hate paying lots for costumes that will only be worn for one night. 

From pumpkin costumes for babies to skeleton costumes (as shown on Thomas) or funky witches, there is so much choice to pick from. They are good quality too, the skeleton outfit is stretchy and fastens with velcro so is easy to fit and even easier to get off and on. Also, because it is an all-in-one, it means that Thomas can wear his regular clothing underneath to keep him warm whilst out trick or treating. This costume comes with accompanying mask which has an adjustable elastic back for a better fit. 

When carrying sweets, you want something that is going to be sturdy enough to hold your haul but also stands out. The 2 little felt bags we were sent are so cute. One is a vampire and the other a pumpkin. They are plenty big enough to hold masses of sweets and goodies and are striking too. 

We were also sent 2 sets of lights, These are long in length and are battery powered so no draining the electric whilst you're out trick or treating. What's more, you are supplied with the batteries too so they are ready to go. Coming in orange or purple, they will make any house look spooktacular. 

If you don't want to go the whole hog of having a costume, then you can also pick up face masks too. We were sent a witches one and a pumpkin too. These are made from fabric rather than plastic so don't irritate. The elasticated back is easy to tie to fit perfectly and the designs are fantastically detailed. 

I love the Halloween range at Aldi and the amount of choice in costumes, decor and loot bags which means that there is something suitable for each ghoul or witch out there.

Since I was sent out some extra items, I have decided to do a little giveaway. For your chance to win either the pumpkin mask or the witch mask, all you have to do is comment on a blog post and then let me know what you think of the Aldi range and which mask you want to win. 

I have set up Rafflecopter just to get your details so I can notify you if you are a winner. There will be 2 winners, one for the witch mask and the other for the pumpkin so make sure you let me know which you want.

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 one compulsory entry you can do a daily comment for extra entries into the giveaway.

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.

Ends midnight 21st October

7 October 2014

The Andy Warhol Retrospective Collection For Bugaboo

Bugaboo have been working in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation for 2 years now and as it comes to a close they are launching their fourth and final collection together the Retrospective Collection. This collection pays homage to the legendary pop artist with new and updated pushchair accessories in designs that span his career.

The Andy Warhol & Bugaboo Retrospective Collection, features sun canopies with matching tote bags that highlight both old and new prints, from the iconic to the lesser known. As with the previous Warhol collaborations pushing your child around town in there own work of art has never been more stylish and fun.

The Retrospective Collection is designed to offer you flexibility as the sun canopy fits all Bugaboo pushchairs. You can pick from one of the 4 new prints, then decide if you want it on the inside or outside of the canopy, the tote bag will match your selected print. 

The Bugaboo + Andy Warhol Banana collection is inspired by Warhol’s 1966 print that gained notoriety when it was chosen as The Velvet Underground & Nico’s first album cover. In our first Banana collection we featured the original iconic image set against a bright yellow base. This time, we’ve gone bananas and flipped the colour scheme: Warhol’s outspoken yellow bananas stand out against a stark black backdrop.

This early work (1955) by the artist sets the stage for his later artistic perspective and process. Hand-drawn during his years as a successful commercial artist in New York City, Butterflies showcases a hint of the serial repetition that would become Warhol’s trademark. These colourful butterflies pop perfectly against a white backdrop, while a baby blue or pink reverse side complements the playful print.

Future globetrotters will draw inspiration from this Jon Sherman-designed print that uses the spaceship, car, plane, train, motorcycle and boat images from Warhol’s 1983 Toys paintings as a starting point. Founder and creative director of Flavor Paper, Sherman extracted the toys from their background and overlaid the vehicles on a vintage French world map, adding globes as a unifying polka dot pattern throughout

Marilyn Monroe
For this celebrated Warhol design, we used the artist’s Marilyn Reversals (late 1970s to early 1980s), wherein he used different colour variations on the reversed negatives of the star’s image from a publicity still from her 1953 film, Niagara. No Warhol collection would be complete without it, and this pushchair proves that design is a girl’s best friend.

For me, I love the Globetrotter design. I can imagine pushing my little boy (when he arrives) down the street in a Bugaboo pram and this design canopy and looking mighty stylish. 

The Andy Warhol + Bugaboo Retrospective Collection is available from November 2014 at selected retailers. Each retailer will only have a select number of prints. All prints will be available online from December so please check bugaboo.com to order. Each print (which includes sun canopy and tote bag) will retail at £115.00.

4 October 2014

23 Weeks Pregnancy Update

This week has been a bit up and down. All of us have been ill and so, at the beginning of the week, we couldn't really get much done. Being ill whilst pregnant is not great at all, and with the already groggy feeling of pregnancy coming together with the bug, it made me feel ten times worse. I think I may have had man flu haha

I can no longer get comfortable whilst sat for long periods of time and find myself constantly moving to try and comfort myself. And the amount of times I wake to go to the toilet during the night is getting silly now. I might as well sleep in there at this rate.

One big plus this week is that I have eventually started to feel baby kick. Since I have an anterior placenta, I have missed those first lots of kicks, the small ones when bump is first getting to grips with his space and have now gone straight in at the big kicks. He seems to be very low and I can constantly feel him moving now. 

The weeks has ended with a very bad low though. Braxton Hicks have started. If you've never had them, then let me explain. These can be anything from a mild discomfort to excruciating pain that feels like contractions. I had the latter of course. 

Yesterday, I went upstairs to get changed and got the most humongous pain which floored me. My husband came upstairs and found me on the floor unable to move from the pain. 
It felt like a contraction mixed with a huge stitch and so he picked me up and put me on the bed. 
At this point I was working myself up so much that I started feeling dizzy and going tingly all over. 
I laid on the bed for about 10 minutes with my husband panicking, asking if I needed an ambulance, and eventually it eased off. Just like that it was gone. 

Of course I was scared, but since I had them when I was pregnant with Charlie, I knew what it was and just tried not to work myself up too much. Hopefully, they wont be that strong from now on and I can get back into growing my bump without pain.

So, that's it for this week. See you in another couple of week with a routine update...

3 October 2014

Halloween At Asda

I am writing this wondering how on Earth it can be close to Halloween already. I cannot believe that it is October and that we will soon be dressing up our houses and children and having a eerily scary night.

As usual, all the Halloween accessories are out in force and Asda have a huge range of costumes, accessories, decorations and food to help with the big day. They sent us a few of their items to try out and review. 

Decoration wise, we received a giant felt skeleton. He is about 3 foot tall and hangs from some string that can be attached anywhere in the house. With movable arms and legs, we can put him into most positions and I can tall that he will be a big hit on Halloween. We'll simply fix him to the door and try to put him into scary positioning. 

We also received a cute little ghost which is made from tinselly material and will shine out into the night. I think this will look great hanging in the garden to scare passers-by. I might even try to hang from the washing line so it dangles above people as they enter. 

The face painting set is fab. The set has faces paints, crayons and glow in the dark goo. As well a nail varnish and sponges to make application easy. I have always struggled with trying to do face painting right and this set makes it easier as it comes complete with a little booklet attached with different scary-faced variations and instructions on how to do them right. 

The Witches Hat cake Pop Kit is fantastic. It comes complete with everything you need to make 6 funky cake pops, you just need to simply add butter. The finished results will be shared on social media once we make them. Lets just hope they taste as good as they look!

You can't have Halloween without sweets and so we were also sent a bat pouch of sweets and a glow stick pumpkin pop too. The pumpkin pop is green in colour and glows in the dark which the kids will love. The bat box comes filled with jelly sweets and is hanging by a string so can be attached around your house if you are having a party or just wanted to hang them away from the kids for your own treats hehe.

I can't wait for Halloween to arrive as I love anything that means that I get to dress the house and the boys up and have a lovely night seeing what all the other children dress as. 

All these Halloween items and much more are available instore and on the Asda website now. 

2 October 2014

Scottish Friendly’s Letterfall UK Championship Update and Winner

Letterfall, from Scottish Friendly started on Monday 22nd September and was a game you play online, competing against others to try and win the title and get to the top of the leaderboard. 

The game was simple to play as you basically capture falling letter tiles as they come down from the top of the screen and you use these to create words with them. Once you'd created a word, those letters will disappear. But it got harder as you would get forfeits for not using the timer tiles in time and some of the letters have to be used twice before they disappear. Even harder, some of the tiles can only be removed by blowing them up. The game ended once the tiles filled the screen to the top and then your final score was calculated.

It's was a very addictive game to play and I loved it because not only is it fun but it got the brain working and there was a chance of winning prizes.

Now it has come to an end though, I can reveal that Nichola Leaver has been named the country’s leading wordsmith after winning the national online word competition after playing on the Scottish Friendly Letterfall website.

The competition ran over two months with Ms Leaver, who hails from Wrexham and studies in Chester, winning the regional championship for Wales and then topping the UK Final with a score of 62,414 – more than 13,000 points clear of her nearest rival.

Ms Leaver commented: “I’ve always loved word games but to be honest, I never thought I was going to win. Letterfall is an easy game to play, but when the pressure is on, especially when you are closing in on the top score, it did get a little nerve-racking.

The game was really popular and was played 865 times in England, 306 timed in Scotland, 140 times in Wales and 258 times in Northern Ireland with each of the winners from each region pocketing £100 each and Nichola then going forward to win the whole thing, snapping up £500 and the trophy.

I wasn't very good at the game as I am not very good at thinking of words at speed but here are a few of the top scoring words if you were lucky enough to get them:

  1. Bramblings 
  2. horseplay 
  3. Hogshead 
  4. Exculpate 
  5. Sawhorses 
Do you think you would have got any of these words?

Scottish Friendly have sponsored the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour for the past 15 years, and, with the Scottish Book Trust, have brought fantastic authors to children in schools and libraries across the country. This Letterfall UK Championship ties into their work of encouraging children’s literacy by giving parents and big kids a game that is enjoyable, rewarding and educational.

For more information, you can follow Scottish Friendly on Twitter where you can also find out more about them and what they do. 

This is a sponsored post which has been written in association with Scottish Friendly.