announcement

My First Blog Birthday and a special announcement!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Today is a special day for my blog. One year ago today was the day I published my first ever blog post. I can't believe how quick the time has gone and I've had a blast! This past year I have been able to share so much that has gone on in our lives. From all of Zach's firsts to Gracie's adventures and even buying our first house. So much has happened for me to talk about.

 I have been lucky enough to work with many fantastic companies to bring you exciting product reviews and competitions. I've made lots of amazing new friends and had the chance to meet many friends old and new in person at Britmums Live.

I really want to thank everyone who takes time to read and/or comment on my blog as you have all made me feel like I'm not talking to myself! I hope you enjoy what you are reading, I know I can waffle at times but I guess that is what blogging is all about. In fact I have some exciting news for you all and what better day to announce it than my blog birthday?

For the past month I have been keeping a secret. When we finally moved into our own house I decided I wanted to document all of our projects. There is so much to be done and I have so many plans that I couldn't resist creating a blog all about our house. You can see the blog and the start of our first big project over at http://www.theforeverhousecharm.com.


http://www.theforeverhousecharm.com
So big thanks to everyone for reading. I hope you continue to do so. Here's to the next year! 

boys fashion

Introducing Lucas Frank.. Stylish clothing for boys!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lucas Frank. Boyish and British. I decided to use these words taken straight from the 'about' section on the Lucas Frank website simply because I couldn't sum it up better than that myself. Lucas Frank is a young British brand selling quality Tee Shirts, Hoodies, Sweat Shirts and Polo Shirts exclusively for boys.





The current range is suitable for boys aged 18 months to 10 years. With the upcoming Spring Summer 2014 collection which will be suitable up to 12 years (available Feb 2014).
The clothes look lovely and stylish, definitely the kind of stuff I would dress Zach in! I personally think the polo shirts and hoodies are my favourites on the website. It's nice to see a company focusing specifically on boys clothes rather than girls and accommadating for both toddlers and older children with modern designs.

What do you think? You can see more of the range at http://www.lucasfrank.com/

Disclaimer
We will be receiving a free Tee Shirt from Lucas Frank for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

best buys

Family Fun at the Festive Gift Fair

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Sunday we headed to the NEC Birmingham for a family day out at the Festive Gift Fair. I was very excited to go and find some nice quirky gifts for friends and family as well as some christmas treats for ourselves. We arrived around midday ready to do some shopping and I have to say it was a lot busier than I thought it would be!


It was quite overwhelming and there was definitely not enough room to get around smoothly with a pushchair. I could see I wasn't the only one with this problem and many people were lacking christmas cheer, tutting and frowning at anyone trying to get through the crowds with pushchairs or wheelchairs. We made the most of it though and tried to get a look in at as many stalls as possible. Once I started to look at stalls my plans of what I was looking for soon went out the window and what I actually bought were not items I expected to find.


One of the first stalls I came across that really made me stop was called Made at Home (pictured below left) they had lots of lovely handmade items for the home and we bought these lovely fairy decorations (pictured below right). I actually only bought one to begin with but went back right at the end to buy another and take a quick photo. I am actually a bit gutted that I can't seem to find a website/facebook/twitter page for this company so would love it if anyone could help if you know how I can find them?!

The next stall that I was really impressed with was called (GARDENS2YOU.CO.UK) among many lovely ornaments I spotted a beautiful toadstool ornament that immediately caught my eye. As many of you may know I am currently decorating Gracie's bedroom in a fairy wonderland theme so I couldn't not buy one of these. They were actually just £2 each or three for £5 so I bought three and can't wait to put them in her room. These were definitely my best buy!
 

I also bought a huge Father Christmas decoration for my front room after seeing so many people walking around with them. I didn't catch the name of the stall as it was so busy that I didn't get a good look inside. My only other purchase of the day was some different flavoured fudge from one of the many fudge stalls, I have a huge sweet tooth so was very happy to see so many lovely sweet stalls.
 

There were lots of great stalls there selling lots of unique products. Many were too busy for me to get a very good look at what they had to offer. I saw a lovely stall selling the most beautiful string fairy lights I have ever seen that I really wanted to buy but couldn't get close enough to choose any. I also noticed that there were lots of stands giving out samples of different alcohol which at one point I would have loved but wouldn't be advisable for a mum who isn't used to having a drink so I had to steer clear!
 

Gracie was very excited to bump into Father Christmas himself at the Festive Gift Fair! The guy was lovely and stopped to talk to her and have a photo taken. She was too shy to smile properly though and wouldn't stop still hence the awful quality photo! I was a little bit disappointed there wasn't more to entertain kids there though it would have been great if they considered adding a Santa's Grotto or christmas craft area in future as being bumped around by busy crowds is a bit too much for young children and so we only spent a couple of hours there before calling it a day as Gracie got upset which was a shame.

Overall we had an enjoyable day but I think in future we would either leave the kids behind or go on a weekday and hope it's a bit less busy. I definitely think it is a great place to shop for unique christmas gifts for family and friends or even just some nice home interior products. It is a great way to start the festive season anyway so I will definitely go again next year one way or another!

Disclaimer
We received complimentary tickets to the show for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

competitions

Competition: 4M Science Magic Kit from Great Gizmos

Thursday, November 28, 2013

We have recently been reviewing a range of different products from Great Gizmos as part of their christmas blogger project. You can read our review here. As a special treat for you guys I have a Science Magic kit by 4M to giveaway to one lucky reader. But hurry the competition will only run for two weeks so I can hopefully get the prize to the winner before Christmas.


4M Kidz Labs Science Magic
This kit from 4M contains 20 fun science tricks to wow everyone. It's not your average science kit, its almost magic. It shows you how to perform a variety of magic tricks using everyday objects. From magnesium to mathematics to mind reading. You will discover magic is all about science.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions
Open to UK only. The competition will end 11/12/2013 at 12am. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. The winner will then have 10 days to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't claimed their prize after 10 days another winner will be drawn. No alternative prize will be offered.

Disclaimer
The prize is being given courtesy of Great Gizmos. No payment has been received for running this giveaway.

build a robot

Review: Great Gizmos Perfect Christmas Gifts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I was recently asked to review some lovely goodies from online retailer Great Gizmos. Great Gizmos is a leading provider of  children's fun, creative and innovative toys all at competitive prices. They have carefully selected toys from around the world with products suitable for all ages. Great Gizmos wanted to show off some of the products they sell on their website and so have recruited some of their favourite bloggers to review some of the range that they believe would make fantastic christmas gifts. We received a parcel of Great Gizmos' products to review.


The pack contained:
  • Lil' Pet Pals Bird Bag (RRP £13.95)
  • NICI Grey Penguin (RRP £21.95)
  • Plan Toys Build a Robot (RRP £27.95)
  • 4M Kidz Labs Science Magic (RRP £11.95)
  •   

Lil' Pet Pals Bird Bag
This is a cute eye catching lunch bag which is insulated to keep food and drinks hot or cold. On the inside of the bag is a name label to write your childs name in if they are taking it to school. Gracie took a shine to the bag straight away. She loves the bird design and has declared that this is the lunchbag she will be taking to school. In the meantime we have used it for family days out, it can fit a fair amount in. We have been putting sandwiches and snacks for both kids in the bag when we go out. The bag is easy to wipe clean and have had no trouble so far getting crumbs out of corners etc. The Lil' Pet Pals lunch box is a very high quality bag and I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a nice quirky lunch bag for any occasion.




NICI Grey Penguin
We have actually reviewed the NICI range before. You can read our review of the Jolly Logan range here. We are big fans of NICI and their luxurious soft toy range. The Grey Penguin is no exception. He is a super cute cuddly friend from the Ice Guys range. The Penguin has gone down very well with both kids. They love to cuddle him and he's been lucky enough to be one of only a few soft toys that are welcomed into Gracie's bed at night time! As I've said before you are really paying for quality when buying NICI products. They are rather expensive for what they are but I think they make lovely gifts that can be cherished forever.

Plan Toys Build a Robot
This is most definitely my favourite item from the package we received. The kids love building robots using bricks so I knew they would love this. The robot comes with four interchangeable heads, each with a unique expression to teach emotions and develop face recognition. The legs can be moved to either a sitting or standing position and are attached by twisting into the hole like a screw which I've found to be great for Gracie as it really makes her think about what she is doing but isn't too diffcult as she does manage to do it without help.I like how there aren't so many removable pieces as the kids have a tendency to lose everything! They have both had hours of fun with the build a robot and so far haven't lost any pieces. Gracie has even been trying to tell people if the robot is happy or sad when putting the different heads on him. It is great that he is both fun and educational. I would definitely recommend and would personally buy myself. I'll be looking out for similar toys from Plan Toys in the future.


4M Kidz Labs Science Magic
This kit from 4M contains 20 fun science tricks to wow everyone. It's not your average science kit, its almost magic. It shows you how to perform a variety of magic tricks using everyday objects. From magnesium to mathematics to mind reading. You will discover magic is all about science. Although this kit looks fantastic fun, unfortunately Gracie and Zach are too young for science trickery so I couldn't review this item with them. This is good for you lot though as after talking to Great Gizmos we decided that we should give away the Science Magic kit to one of our lucky readers! Hopefully one of you can give it to a child you know as a fun christmas gift.

As you can see Great Gizmos sell a great diverse range of products for children of all ages. I for one love all the products in fact I'm not very happy Andy won't let me buy Zach a NICI Dragon!

You can find out more about Great Gizmos and their large range of products at http://www.greatgizmos.co.uk/ or you can visit them on any of their social media pages:
https://www.facebook.com/GreatGizmos
https://twitter.com/Great_Gizmos


Disclaimer
We were sent the products featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

decorating

Are you satisfied with your home?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Since starting my home improvement projects I've found myself making things so difficult for myself as I want everything to be 'perfect'. This is the main reason I am starting one room at a time. It seems to be taking forever though. I would love to have one of these houses you see on the television with nice homely furniture, no toys lying around and everything just seems right.

I keep changing my mind when it comes to ideas for my main rooms downstairs. My kitchen is slowly falling apart at first I thought it just needed redecorating but I've come to find a few appliances need replacing and a few cupboard doors are broken. So my list of things to replace/fix just gets bigger and bigger. Whenever I'm not writing on my blog I am doing some kind of DIY or planning my next projects. Although it is hard work I am enjoying seeing things start to come together.

I have actually been documenting my projects so far on another blog which I will share with you all shortly (when the blog design is finished!) I'm hoping that eventually I will have a big diary to look back on at all the hard work we have done and be proud! Eventually I will have the perfect house complete with cool designer chairs and vintage upcycled furniture.

Am I asking too much?! Is anyone ever satisfied with their home?

*This is a sponsored post

chocolates

Thorntons Christmas Hero

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I was recently approached by Thorntons to take part in a Secret Santa with a twist. The recipient had no knowledge of being involved! I was asked to choose someone that means alot to me to send some nice Thorntons treats to as a thank you for everything they do. I didn't have to think to hard about who I would send the treats to. I chose someone who is always there for us as a family and has been for as long as I remember. The person I chose is my Grandma.


Before I met Andy I actually lived with my Grandma so we are quite close and even now our new house is just streets away meaning we see her a lot. The kids adore her and she'd do anything for them. She would do anything for anyone so I thought it was time she got a nice treat. I chose for her the Christmas Gift Bundle for Her with an extra box of Thorntons Special Toffee which I know is her favourite! I told her she had a surprise coming but didn't tell her what and she was massively surprised at the huge Thorntons box at her door. She was really happy to get her chocolates and toffees and had some extra big cuddles for the kids the next time we went to see her!



Thank you Thorntons for letting us take part and spoil our Christmas hero!
Disclaimer
We got to send these treats free of charge as part of the Thorntons Christma Hero challenge.


Sibling Rivalry

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gracie is almost Three and Zach is now 14 months. I guess its a good thing that it has taken this long for the rivalry to begin. Of course they adore each other a lot of the time. Gracie even likes to say that Zach is her best friend which is really cute.





My problem is they are suddenly at a point where everything is a fight against each other. As soon as one is playing with something the other wants it. They are snatching and not sharing and it always ends with one of them in tears. I'm trying to teach Gracie to let Zach play with things and to leave him alone when he's playing quietly (a rarity in this house) and teaching her it's ok for him to watch her play and stop pushing him away when he wants to play with her and the other way round. Is it too much to ask for them to play together nicely just sometimes?!

Zach is really testing boundaries at the minute. Seeing what he can get away with and what he can't. He's a typical boy, really cheeky with the biggest smile when he is up to something. My biggest problem with this is the three year old 'superhero'. Yes Gracie thinks she is a superhero. So each time poor little Zach is being told off I have Gracie deciding to take things in to her on hands running up to him and either pushing or even punching him. Ending with Zach in tears followed by Gracie after she's been told off too.

I know this will make for a hilarious story when they are teenagers about their fighting and Gracie thinking she is a young female Iron Man but my god it is driving me crazy!

Someone please tell me it gets better?! Would love some suggestions for activities we could try for the two of them to do together?

Christmas Traditions

Monday, November 25, 2013

I've been thinking this week about Christmas traditions. I've always loved Christmas and all the excitement surrounding it. I want my kids to share that and so am planning on having lots of fun family traditions for them to enjoy each year to make them excited for the Christmas season, not just for what Father Christmas brings but for spending time having fun as a family. 



This year we have just introduced Elf on the shelf. A cute little elf who will appear in our home before the festive period hiding in a new hiding place every morning, bringing us small gifts and activities and watching the children to make sure they are being nice and kind before reporting to Father Christmas every night when the children are sleeping.


This year I am also introducing a book advent. I will say that Elf bought the big pile of books. We will wrap up 25 books. Some old, some new but all exciting! All of the books will be wrapped up and each day of advent we will open one book in the evening to read as a family. From next year we will have no chocolate advents as Zach can't have them so would be unfair for him to see everyone else having them. I thought the book idea would be a lovely alternative and will be remembered more than a piece of chocolate a day.


We will decorate the tree on the 1st December. It is Gracie's birthday on the 29th so the tree comes down on the 28th so putting it up the first day of advent means we still get plenty of time with the tree up.

Ever since I was a child I have loved Christmas movies. Me and my brother have always watched muppets Christmas carol together every year for as long as I remember. Even when we didn't live with our mum we would get together and watch it. Gracie is already a huge fan of the muppets and loves watching muppets Christmas carol too. We've already been watching all the Christmas movies we can find and i'm looking to seeing which will be her favourites.

Christmas pyjamas are a must aren't they? Every year we all get to wear nice new Christmas themed pyjamas on Christmas Eve. I wrap the kids pyjamas up so they can open them before they get ready for bed. 

We don't really have a routine for Christmas Eve. Apart from the building and sorting of presents once the children are sleeping ready for the morning. 

I would love to know what your family traditions are? 

office supplies

I'm a Shoplet Reviewer

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I was recently asked to become a reviewer for online office supplier Shoplet. Shoplet sell a huge range of supplies for small and midsized businesses. Whether it be for a home office or even a retail outlet you can find almost everything you need to make your office area the perfect working environment.


I was recently sent a welcome pack to thank me for joining the reviewer programme. The welcome pack was to show me some of the smaller but popular items sold on the Shoplet online store.

Inside the welcome pack were:
  • 1 pack of Remarkable recycled pencils
  • 1 Pritt Stick
  • 1 Cambridge business A5 notebook
  • 1 Zebra Z-grip Flight pen
  • 1 Touch Velvet wallet envelope
  • Samples of Avery labels
  • 1 Glo Report File
  • Some non magnetising paperclips in assorted colours
  • a sachet of Nescafe Gold Blend
  • 1 screen cleaning disposable wipe
From the small selection of samples they have sent us you can see that there are a mix of household names along with some that you may not of heard of. I am very impressed with the Remarkable recycled pencils and am looking forward to trying them out. Of course every household and office needs a Pritt Stick. I'm looking forward to trying everything out and seeing more of what Shoplet has to offer! 

Disclaimer
I was sent the welcome pack above free of charge. All opinions are my own.

dairy free snacks

Review: Natural Balance Foods: Nakd Celebration Box

Friday, November 22, 2013

I was recently asked to review a selection of products from Natural Balance Foods. If you don't know who Natural Balance foods are, they are the makers of popular wholefood snacks Nakd. Nakd is a large range consisting of snack bars, raisins and flapjacks. I was sent the Nakd celebration box to try out.

The box contained

  • 2x Cola Infused Raisins
  • Cherry Infused Raisins
  • Lime Infused Raisins
  • 2x Berry Delight Bars
  • 2x Cocoa Orange
  • Caffe Mocha
  • Berry Cherry
  • Rhubarb & Custard
  • Banana Bread
  • Apple Pie
  • Apple Crunch
  • Strawberry Crunch
  • Cocoa Delight
  • Cashew Cookie
  • Banana Crunch
All the snacks in the box were dairy free meaning we could share with Zach. Knowing that all the ingredients where natural I was happy to share with the kids letting them try all the different flavours. The different flavoured infused raisins went down very well with Zach, he loves raisins and loved these new zesty flavours. The lime infused raisins were a personal favourite of mine. Gracie wasn't a fan of them at all though. She preferred the crunch bars and said the raisins were yucky! I have to say the only flavour I didn't like was the Caffe Mocha as I'm not a coffee fan.

Overall I thought the celebration box was a fantastic way to try all the different flavours to discover our favourites. We've already bought more of the raisins and bars whilst shopping at Tesco. It was also great value for money. The Nakd celebration box containing the 18 snacks listed above costs £13 and is available to buy here.

Disclaimer
We were sent the products featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

man flu

House of flu

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This week I have discovered how truly awful it is to have both children poorly at the same time. They just had colds with sore throats but my god they were suffering. It was horrible seeing them so poorly and cuddling them in the night while they were sobbing their hearts out after coughing fits.

We ended up dragging them into Boots to buy a bag full of children's cold and flu medicines in the hope we could ease their pain long enough for them to sleep again. Every day consisted of forcing cough syrup or calpol down Gracie who hates medicine with a passion and trying to pull the syringe or spoon away from Zach who wanted more! When we weren't fighting over medicine they were fighting and arguing over who cuddled what toy or who got cuddles off mummy.

Of course it only took a few days for me and Andy to catch it too and we probably whinged just as much! Thankfully now that the week is over we are starting a new week flu free! (with only the emotional scars left to heal!) Note to self I need to get me some Fish Oil Supplements for my awful immune system. That and invest in some nice warm clothes of course.

Anyway hope you're all well and now im fighting fit again I have lots of exciting news and reviews coming up for you!


*This is a sponsored post

cloth nappies

Review: gNappies

Saturday, November 16, 2013

We recently received two gNappies with disposable inserts to review. If you don't know anything about gNappies, they have a very unique insight into Eco-friendly nappies. gNappies came up with a disposable insert back in 2005 that can be fully composted (only wet ones). The inserts are biodegradable whereas there is no evidence that your usual disposable nappy will ever biodegrade and is likely to sit in landfills for longer than any of us will live. You can use either these biodegradable disposable inserts or a cloth insert inside one of their beautifully designed pant covers. The pant covers range in price with solid colour covers starting at £14.95 and the limited edition prints which are slightly more. As you can imagine they have been very popular and have created lots of gMums and gDads always eager to see the new releases! In fact many sell out in less than a day!


We received a limited edition gWhat and a Galley Blue solid pant to review along with a pack of disposable inserts. I have to say I am no stranger to gNappies and have used them before BUT have never used them with disposable inserts. I have lost my love of cloth nappies though over the last few months as Zach is a heavy wetter and has not very pleasant soiled nappies which I could never contain! As we have just as many problems with disposable nappies I wasn't sure these inserts were going to be the answer to all our problems. How wrong I was!! I had heard the inserts need changing every 2 hours which I was dreading but I find we change every 3.5 hours and the insert isn't soaked it could definitely last him another hour I just don't like to leave him feeling wet. The other night I took the plunge and used a gNappy with just one insert overnight! I was dreading the next morning knowing that he likes to wait until night time to poo leaving the aroma of  a smelly dirty nappy the next morning and very regularly its also exploded down the leg of his sleepsuit. sorry for too much information but lets face it, it happens and it's not nice. As usual we did wake up to a dirty nappy but it was all contained! the insert got chucked and the pouch which is plastic was easily rinsed in the sink ready to wash. From that moment I was turned! I can't believe I hadn't tried them sooner.

 

I know looking at the website they can look quite overwhelming and complicated compared to your average disposable but they are so simple. You take your pant, use the poppers to attach the plastic pouch to the pant and insert your disposable insert inside the pouch. You then put it on the same as you would a disposable except the velcro goes on the back rather than the front (this saves them fiddling with the velcro removing nappies which we have had with both little ones at some point). Sometimes if you get a leak you just need to adjust the pouch so it sits properly on their skin with no gapes and if you still have problems the staff at gNappies are more than helpful with giving you guidance. If you go to change the nappy and it is just wet you can just remove the insert give the pouch a quick wipe and insert a new one rather than change the whole nappy. Also my favourite thing about gNappies at the moment is that with using a disposable insert there is no need for an extra wash just for nappies. The pant can go in with your clothes wash and I like to just hand wash the pouches as it only takes a minute.
 


I have to say of all nappies of both cloth/disposable variety, gNappies are my firm favourite. I love the designs, I love the idea and I love the effectiveness.

You can find out more about gNappies on the website www.gnappies.com or you can visit them on the gNappies Facebook page or the gNappies Twitter page.

Disclaimer
We received the items featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

baby books

Review: Parragon Books Little Learners Puppet Books

Friday, November 15, 2013

Our latest pack of books from the Parragon book buddies review club contained two very special little books which were guaranteed to be fun. I am ashamed to say that these are our first ever puppet books! The titles we received were 'Five Little Monkeys' and 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm'. Both are popular preschool songs, easy for kids to remember and recognise.



Each book contains a built in puppet toy related to the story. The kids loved these whether it was me using them to make them dance while we were singing the rhymes or whether they were trying to do it themselves. Although I would never buy something like this for Gracie if I saw it in a shop she had much more fun than I expected! Zach on the other hand loves board books and cuddly toys so it is an all in one for him and I would definitely buy them for him. The books are recommended for six months plus but I think there is no reason why they couldnt be suitable for a younger baby. They are also a perfect size to keep in yiur change bag to take out and about.


These are lovely little books again from the little learners range. Another I would happily recommend to parents.

Disclaimer
We were sent the items featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

gJingle all the way!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

With the most 'unique' insight into Eco-friendly nappies. gNappies came up with a disposable insert back in 2005 that can be composted. You can use either these disposable inserts or a cloth insert inside one of their beautifully designed pant covers. As you can imagine they have been very popular and have created lots of gMums and gDads always eager to see the new releases!

Well today sees the release of another of these beautiful designs. Just in time for the Christmas season they introduce the gJingle.




gNappies are out to eradicate conventional disposable nappies from the planet. Over 20billion are thrown away annually making them on of the largest contributors to landfills. There is no evidence that conventional disposable nappies ever biodegrade. gNappies disposable inserts break down in a home compost (wet ones only) in three months producing good compost.

gNappies are available to buy from their website www.gnappies.com starting at £14.95 for a solid pant. The gJingle will be available to buy sometime today (14th November 2013) 

If you keep an eye on the blog I will have a detailed review up in a few days for you to see what we think about gNappies. 

Childrens craft activities

Christmas Crafts

Monday, November 11, 2013

Now that it is November, the build up to Christmas has started and I am planning ahead to make this one the best one yet. We have already started on the christmas films but one thing I love about this time of year is staying indoors and doing lots of fun craft activities with the little ones. We have a huge box of supplies and its amazing what you can do with some tissue paper and a few sheets of A4 paper. As Gracie is at a better age this year I have so many great plans for some christmas craft activities, from themed pictures to decorations.




Over the next few weeks I'm going to try and do one or two a week and I'll make sure I show you pictures of them in case anyone is looking for some inspiration. I'll upload all the pictures to my pinterest page (you can find the link to my pinterest boards on the right hand side of the page).

What preparations or family traditions do you have planned for the christmas season?

*This is a sponsored post

Birmingham Christmas Events

Will you be there? Festive Gift Fair NEC (21-24 November 2013)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Well the run up to christmas has definitely begun and I for one always struggle when it comes to gifts for my loved ones. This year I have plans to do all my christmas shopping (bar the kids who I have already finished shopping for) at the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC Birmingham which is running from the 21st-24th November.


With around 325 stalls exhibiting at the fair you are sure to find something suitable for everyone! Rather than circling every shop in the high street in the search for the perfect present, you can do it all under one roof.

EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY
 
'Enjoy a christmas drink with family and friends. Christmas entertaining is the time to indulge in tempting chocolates and delicious cheeses...sample before you buy at the Festive Gift Fair'

FOR THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE

'Mum, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Girlfriend- There's nothing more satisfying than finding a special thoughtful surprise they will love.'

From vintage fashion to skincare goodies, to the more unusual and even retro gifts.

FOR THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE

'Chaps can be notoriously difficult to buy for- you'll find whisky, woolies, watches, clever gadgets and silly stocking fillers at Festive Gift Fair....'

I always find it difficult to shop for men so am very intrigued to see the more unusual gifts on offer.

KIDS STUFF

The Festive Gift Fair is going to be home to stalls targeting kids of all ages with Retro sweets, books, bedroom accessories and of course toys and keepsakes for the younger kids. For those of you who will be taking the kids along Santa will be there to greet guests on arrival and shoppers will see many other entertainers around the main hall.

SET THE SCENE FOR A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS

Of course there will be many stalls capturing the magic of christmas. You will find lots of inspiration for dressing your tree and well, your whole house at the Festive Gift Fair. With string lights, candles, garlands and handmade decorations, you are guaranteed to find something magical!

I will be attending the show on the Sunday with my family in tow hoping for a fabulous day out. I'll be browsing all the stalls looking for the best picks and unique products to share with you all as well as finishing off my christmas shopping.

If you'd like to join me and visit the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC Birmingham, 09.30- 17.00 from Thursday the 21st - Sunday 24th November. You can find out more about the exhibitors, visiting the fair and how to book tickets at www.festivegiftfair.co.uk Adult tickets from just £8.50, Children aged 5-16 £3.50 and under fives go free

*I have been given complimentary tickets to the  festive gift fair

balloon animals

Review & competition: Balloon Baboon

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Well this has got to be one of the most exciting reviews the kids have got to do. If we ever boot parties and there is someone making balloon animals they are the first there. Gracie will happily watch in amazement and play with her special balloon until it has no life left in it. Balloon Baboon goes one step further than your average balloon animal maker and can make pretty much anything out of balloons delivering them straight to your door!

 
The Balloon Baboon website, Facebook page and Twitter feed are all full of pictures of these amazing creations which made me so excited to receive one for the kids. I couldn't decide what to choose so I asked for a surprise. Just a day after Zach's birthday when the kids thought all the surprises were over we received a box containing a very cute Pluto balloon creation complete with a sweet little monkey who came to deliver us our note and a Balloon Baboon business card which I thought was a great added touch. The kids were ecstatic about their new friend Pluto and with the flurry of visitors we had for Zach's birthday they had lots of people around to show him off to. He was even lucky enough to get lots of kisses of Zach which is something most people have to resort to bribery for!

The Pluto balloon was much bigger than I expected it to be. I was very pleased with the quality of it and the balloon looked perfect for around two weeks before slowly deflating which I think is a very reasonable amount of time for a balloon to last. Unfortunately the monkey didn't last quite so long after having one to many cuddles from Gracie and eventually resembling a snake. ( of course this is not a fault due to the maker it was just roughly handled by an over excited toddler).

I would definitely reccommend this service as a great unusual gift idea for any child and love the look at some of the more adult range such as the flower bouquets and I'm sure I saw a pregnant lady balloon on the facebook page perfect for any baby shower!


The Pluto Balloon is available to order from the Balloon Baboon website here for £16.45. You can see the full range on the website http://www.balloonbaboon.co.uk/. You can also like them on Facebook or follow on Twitter for the latest news, competitions and fantastic pictures!

We have a special treat for one of you thanks to Balloon Baboon. We are giving away one Pluto balloon the same as the one we received to one lucky winner. All you have to do is fill in the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK only. The competition will end 28/11/2013 at 12am. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. The winner will then have 10 days to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't claimed their prize after 10 days another winner will be drawn. No alternative prize will be offered.

Disclaimer
We were sent the item featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

autumn

My Autumn Inspired Poem

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I have never seen myself as creative especially when it comes to writing. In fact even at school I was awful at creative writing. I have to say I actually kind of cringed when I read about the Center Parcs Family Breaks Club November Challenge and thought I couldn't enter that! That is when I thought 'hold on Autumn is my favourite season and I read rhymes in books to Gracie every night, how hard can it be?'
 
Before attempting to write my poem I looked at the tips from resident nature expert and conservation ranger, Emma Tapp from Centreparcs Whinfell Forest. My favourite from the tips she has given is 'Be inspired by your surroundings - Observe as the leaves change colour from green to red and let the beautiful burnt oranges get the creative juices flowing, what does it look like and remind you of?' One of my favourite things about Autumn is the beautiful colours, orange being my favourite colour, and how amazing our woods, parks and gardens look with the autumnal shades surrounding them. It's so captivating. So, I have given it a try, it wasn't easy but it is actually the first poem I ever remember writing (and perhaps my last, we'll see!). It is inspired mainly by what Autumn means to me and my family. Hope you like it!
 
Autumn 

As we say goodbye to the summer greenery, 

And get ready to explore the new beautiful scenery,

All Wrapped up in snuggly warm coats,
 
Our little family set off all in high hopes,
 
That we see our surroundings in all of their wonder,
 
And not get caught out by the lightening and thunder,
 
From walks in the park to woodland trails,
 
Cute furry animals and icky slimy snails,
 
We play in the trees climbing higher and higher,
 
Then tired, we go home and snuggle up by the fire.


I would love to hear what you think?

 
 ‘This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest’.

family life

Potty Training

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Gracie will turn three just after christmas and for the past six months all I have heard off many family members is 'why isn't she potty trained?' 'They won't let her start school in nappies' or 'you need to just force her to use it' some have even gone to the extremes and told Gracie she's not a big girl if she wee's in her nappies and if she wants to go to school she'll have to use the potty. I'm a firm believer that comments like that can make things worse lowering the confidence of a child when they need confidence more than ever. Using a potty or toilet is a huge step for a young child and they will do it when they feel ready to do it. Everytime anyone had mentioned it to me I told them she wasn't ready. Every month or so I would out her on the potty making it seem fun for her to see how she got on with it and although she would use it if she needed to while I was sitting her on it, she didn't recognise the signs of needing to use it and got very upset when she had accidents.

Well this week we tried again and this time I saw a huge difference in her. She all of a sudden took to it she knew she needed to wee and so she did. She then asked for a nappy once finished so I explained to her that she didn't need a nappy if she was using the potty and if she needs another wee to do it on the potty again. I had to keep reassuring her she could play with toys and didn't need to sit on it constantly. I let her phone Daddy while he was at work to tell him she had been using the potty so he could tell her how good she was using it and she was so happy with herself!

It's been four days now and she is now using the potty all day at home (with only one small accident so far) and only wearing nappies to go out anywhere and at night time. I've already noticed when we go out she has started to tell me she needs a wee and has even been apologising when she wee's in her nappy. I think it'll only be a matter of time before she's fully trained in the day time.

We are so proud of her for being so good and choosing to do it by herself. It makes me feel so much better too knowing that I was right leaving her until she was ready rather than listening to what other people said.

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