Made With Love And Sparkle #ad

Monday, October 15, 2018

One thing that I love to have in my home is personalised gifts. I have so many little treasures gifted to me over the years by family and friends and I love displaying them around my home. I also love to buy thoughtful gifts for my loved ones and will always try to find something special for them on occasions. Made With Love & Sparkle make a large range of personalised gifts for everyone and I had the difficult choice of deciding on an item from their website recently.

World Mental Health Day: The Honest Truth

Friday, October 12, 2018

Wednesday was World Mental Health Day. I didn’t write about it because I had a bad day and the last thing I want to do on a bad day is write or do anything for myself. My blog is suffering at the moment because of the way I feel and I don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes I can pick myself up and feel motivated for a day or two but it doesn’t last long and I am back to square one again. 

In all honesty I feel worse at the moment than I ever have in my life. I thought moving away and having a fresh start would be good for me. I thought I would spend my days enjoying the country air and chatting to new mums at the school at pick up and drop off time. I thought I could reinvent myself and become a happier me. In reality, I have never felt more isolated and alone. In the five months since I have moved, I have lost almost all of my old friends and haven’t made a single new one. 


Review: Four Fit Healthband

Saturday, October 06, 2018

It is safe to say that I am a stress eater. Whenever I go through stressful situations I entertain myself with food. In the past year I have put on more weight than I would like to admit. Buying a house and all of the problems that come with being a homeowner has certainly seen me finding comfort in my food. However, I want to change that cycle and feel healthier in myself. I have been using the FourFit Healthband to try and help myself keep track of my daily activity and my overall health.


Review: Zoomer Hungry Bunnies

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Elsie is massively into her interactive animal toys at the moment, her latest being the Zoomer Hungry Bunnies. Zoomer Hungry Bunnies really eat! The Zoomer hungry bunny comes with 4 snack sheets, full of tasty treats to serve your bunny, a treat tracer to create your own snacks using paper, a snack basket for you to build yourself and an instruction leaflet explaining how to use the different features. After a meal the hungry bunny will poop a colourful confetti surprise. 

Me and Mine

Me and Mine (September 2018)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

September has been an incredibly difficult month for us all. We moved back into our house the evening before the children returned to school and it was a mess. We have thankfully decorated the boys room so all of the children are sleeping together in there at the moment but we have had so much to do and it has been stressful to say the least. 


Review: Fab Lab Festival Face Tattoos

Thursday, September 13, 2018

We went on a big family holiday to a lovely cottage in Pembrokeshire over the summer holidays. We weren't sure what the weather would be like whilst there but we were a short way from a lovely beach and made sure we took plenty of things to entertain the children. I decided to take along the Fab Lab Festival Face Tattoo set from Interplay. We were also celebrating Elsie's birthday while we were away and we thought it would be great fun to have a go at decorating all of their faces. 


Review: Fab Lab Tie Dye Kit

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Over the summer Gracie and I decided to do a few fun craft activities together. One of these was to have a go at creating our own tie dye t-shirts. We used the Fab Lab Tie Dye kit which comes with four different colour dyes, disposable gloves, a bag full of elastic bands and a full instruction booklet. We read through the instruction leaflet to see the different patterns we could make and decided to try out two of them.


Review: M&S Opticians Intu Derby

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Marks & Spencer have recently opened up opticians in five of their stores, Westfield London, Manchester, Derby, York and Bolton. I was asked to visit the Derby store recently to test out the service. I booked my appointment online at for the weekend after they opened and headed to the store at INTU shopping centre in Derby. 

Me and Mine

Me and Mine (August 2018)

Friday, August 31, 2018

August saw us temporarily move out of our house for three weeks while we had the whole place rewired. It was a huge job, we had to move out the majority of our belongings into storage and the whole brood descended on the poor in-laws. Thankfully it was the school holidays and we tried to keep busy with walks to the park or trips out and our final week was spent on holiday. 

It was the first big family holiday we have had with all of the children together. We stayed in a lovely cottage in Pembrokeshire along with the in-laws and the two dogs. We spent most of our days at different beaches, we celebrated Elsie's birthday and watched the sunset from the cottage balcony most evenings. I was in my element being able to take nice pictures of everyone and everything. It was a really beautiful place and it was really nice to have a break. 

September will see us moving back into our shell of a house and the children returning or starting their brand new school. 

Back To School Supplies

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

In just a few weeks the children will be heading back to school. There are a lot of nerves and excitement in our house about the prospect of the new school year. Gracie only had three weeks in her new school at the end of last term and it will be brand new for Zach when he starts Year 1 in September. We are hoping Elsie will start shortly afterwards if a place becomes available for her in our new local school. With all of the stress of moving and sorting schools I have left a lot of my school shopping until last minute. I grabbed most of the uniform last week in Sainsbury's while they had 25% off clothing.

All three children have lovely new school shoes courtesy of Get The Label, you can take a look and read the review here. They have also received some lovely items from a few of our favourite brands which we wanted to share with you. In the picture above you will see Zach's amazing new personalised water bottle from itsyourstory. He got to choose a character from a wide range including a monkey,  fireman, footballer, cowboy and many more but he chose the cheeky monkey because it was funny. I uploaded a photo file during the order process and now he has his very own 'cheeky monkey Zachary' bottle. He absolutely loves it and can't wait to take it to school with him.

Gracie has been really enjoying creative writing recently so was amazed at the contents of our Smiggle delivery. She now has a lovely 'Now You See Me Twin Zip Pencil Case' in purple to store all of her pencils and colouring pencils along with a lovely sequin mermaid notepad to jot down ideas and stories in. She seems to come home from school really inspired by what she is learning so it will be really nice for her to be able to come home and let her creative juices flow with her new stationery. 

Another item from our Smiggle goody bag was this water bottle. Although Zach was photographed with it when it arrived, it seems Elsie has taken a liking towards it so has decided that as Zach has a water bottle already, she should have the cool space water bottle. This comes in lots of different designs and colours.

All we need now is to get back in our house in time for the new school year and a phone call to say Elsie can start too!

back to school

Review: Get The Label School Shoes

Friday, August 17, 2018

I hate school shoe shopping. Last year I had to go all over trying to find shoes for each of the children and it ended up costing me a fortune. Elsie has teeny tiny feet so I had trouble finding her black shoes small enough and found that there were only two brands which sold black shoes in an infant size 5. This year though I haven't had that trouble because I was contacted by Get The Label and to my utter surprise they had shoes that fit all three children and at great prices. 

Our Dream Garden

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Last weekend we spent two whole days clearing out a large section of our garden. We chopped down some trees and bushes to clear some very cluttered areas down the side of our sheds and have managed to create even more space in what was already a very spacious garden. We are so lucky to have such a large open garden and our plan is to really make the most of it. We have a patio area for seating and BBQ, followed by a grassy area for the children to play in, behind this again we have two sheds, a fruit patch, more grass and lots of bushes and hedges which we would like to cut back and replace with fencing. 

We still have a lot more to clear at the moment and I think it is going to take us a few months to get rid of it all but we have already been discussing ideas and plans for the future of our garden. Both Sam and I have totally different hobbies, I like to write and he likes to play guitar, obviously the two don't always go together very well so we have been thinking about installing a summer house/shed in the garden for leisure use. We already have a shed to store the lawnmower and tools etc. in and a smaller one for children's outdoor toys but it would be lovely to have an area to escape to for quiet concentration, or even a noise proof one to send him to!

I would love a nice large one right at the bottom end of the garden, big enough for some comfortable furniture and with plenty of windows to enjoy the surrounding view. In fact it would be great for the Summer holidays while the children are playing outdoors most of the day too. I could get an hour or so of work done each day whilst keeping an eye on them at the same time. I find I have to work late at night in the holidays as it is so difficult to find the time whilst entertaining children. I have seen some great examples at  there are so many options when it comes to size and shape to suit each individual garden.

I cannot wait to have our dream garden and with a bit of hard work and determination we will have just that in the next few years!

*This is a collaborative post


Fosse Fashionista My Primark Fashion Spree #Ad

Monday, August 06, 2018

I was recently asked to visit Fosse Park, a large retail park in Leicester, to shop my summer look with vouchers for a store of my choice. There are lots of great clothing retailers including M&S, Primark, River Island, Outfit, New Look and Next. They also have Office if you are more into your shoes! I decided to do my shopping in Primark because they suit my everyday budget. If I need an outfit Primark is my usual go to for affordable fashion. I also knew I would get a bit more for my money in Primark and could end up with a handful of fab new outfits for this beautiful summer we are having!

Playsuit- Primark £15
Here are a selection of my favourite items. The playsuit above caught my eye straight away and cost just £15. I wore it on our recent trip to Tutbury Castle and it was so comfortable and I felt great in it. 

The outfit below is a lovely blue skirt. I already have one just like it but in black/white stripe which I bought from Primark a few years back. Blue isn't usually my colour but I was persuaded to try it on and when looking for something to wear with it this shirt caught my eye. I fell in love with them both as soon as I tried them on. Both items were £10 each and both can be styled with many other items of clothing to make different outfits!
Top- Primark £10, Skirt- Primark £10
I love a good t-shirt and as soon as I saw this one (below) on the rail, I knew I had to have it. I am a huge friends fan and have had so many comments on this t-shirt after sharing it on IG. 
T-Shirt - Primark £8

I also bought two more t-shirts (top right, bottom right) , a pair of comfortable flat shoes, a belt and a few vest tops. I could have bought so much more. The Primark store was so much bigger than it looked from outside and I was so impressed with the range of stores available for a retail park. 

*I was given a £100 Primark voucher for this promotion. All photos and words are my own. 

Me and Mine (July 2018)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July was a month full of adventures for us. We started it with a family trip strawberry picking at Scaddows farm. I had never been fruit picking before so it was one of my requests for the Summer and we all had so much fun picking and then eating the strawberries!

Gracie started her new school at the beginning of July so we have been walking lots to and from the school on the school runs. We have also been involved in quite a few school activities already too. We went to watch her compete in sports day with her house team. We also went along to enterprise day where every class made something to sell or came up with a fun idea to raise money to go towards lots of new and exciting things for the school. Gracie's class made their own flavoured popcorn which we had to buy lots of as she was so pleased with herself.

We went on a family shopping trip to Fosse Park in Leicester as part of a campaign which was really fun. I had to choose some summer outfits for myself and have my picture taken by a GIF machine. Thankfully the kids quite like shopping so I got some nice new clothes and we all got to have a browse around the shops and a bite to eat.

We also spent a day at Tutbury castle which is now quite local to us and a place Sam had wanted to take us. It was a lovely sunny day and the castle had free entry that particular day so we had a lovely low cost family day out costing us just the price of yummy ice cream. This months photo was a quick selfie we took whilst sat on the castle walls admiring the views around us. The sun was in our eyes so there are a lot of squinty faces but it is a nice photo to remind us of a lovely day out.

We are now into the school summer holidays and we are looking forward to an action-packed August full of sun and adventures.

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful


Review: Great Gizmos Craft Activities For All Ages

Monday, July 30, 2018

It has been a few years since we last worked with Great Gizmos. Great Gizmos are a provider of fun, creative, educational toys and gifts for children. They got in touch to see if we would like to try some of their creative products and sent items to suit each of the children. First up is the Big Box of Fashion, Fairies & Flowers stencils. I immediately knew this would really suit Elsie. She loves drawing but hasn't really got the skills yet to draw whatever she wants so the stencils would mean she could have a go at creating beautiful drawings that she wouldn't usually be able to do. She absolutely loved the set. It came with 5 large plastic stencil sheets, 6 colouring pencils, 20 sheets of pretty paper and 1 pencil sharpener. Elsie has loved making everybody lovely drawings and the stencils themselves are making her more aware of colouring in the lines and she has been practicing her name too using the alphabet stencils.


Planning and Designing With Filofax

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Just before I moved to our new house, I received a surprise parcel from Filofax containing one of their new marble covered A5 notebooks. Now that we are kind of settled I have managed to unpack some of my desk supplies including my new Filofax notebook and I am able to start planning what needs doing in the house. We have a few big jobs coming up over the summer including a whole house rewire, roof repairs and some plastering which are all booked in now. Those jobs feel completely out of my control though so I am keeping myself busy with other plans. 

Marques De Caceres Wine #ad

Monday, July 16, 2018

I can't remember the last time we had such an amazing Summer and what better way is there to enjoy the sunshine than socialising outdoors with friends and family. We have been enjoying a selection of different wines from Marques de Caceres over the past few weeks and have been sharing them with friends and family on various occasions. We have been having BBQ's most weekends since we moved into our new house and everybody loves a refreshing glass of wine on a summer evening with tasty food. Everybody has their own taste when it comes to wine so I have been sure to see what others think as well as myself. I personally love sweet fruity wines and found the Rose was more to my taste than the others so was the first to be finished during our BBQ's. It had a very floral taste to it and wasn't as sweet as I would usually pick but it was full of flavour and had a nice fresh taste. The Blanco White was also popular amongst guests. It was very rich and dry so not really to my taste but I am in the minority when it comes to most of our family and friends as they prefer dry wines and tend to give me any that are too sweet for them. It worked out perfectly having a mix of wines to suit everybody.


Exploring Our New Area

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

We have been in our new house about 5 weeks now. The first few weeks flew by as we were so busy unpacking and decorating the boys bedroom but things have calmed down a bit now and we are finding time to explore our new area. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much greenery now and everywhere you turn there are forests and fields. Towards the back of our house is a small forest area which is great for dog walkers and we have taken Dolly and Toby to play over there which the kids loved! Further down the road from our house is a park and nature reserve which is probably one of my favourite places to visit locally.

Scaddows Farm

Strawberry Picking At Scaddow's Farm (South Derbyshire)

Thursday, July 05, 2018

I have always wanted to go strawberry picking and have never got around to actually doing so. Despite the fact that we now have lots of other berries growing in our garden, I still wanted to experience a family outing to pick our own strawberries. Gracie is the only one of the kids who had done it before, the day that I went into hospital to have my C-section with Elsie, my auntie and cousin took Gracie out for the day for me and so she was excited to go and do it again. As we have moved, I did a bit of research on local places to pick your own fruit and came across Scaddows Farm in South Derbyshire where you can go to pick strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. 


Review: Colt Express

Monday, July 02, 2018

Our latest review for the blogger board game club is Colt Express. It's 1899 and the Union Pacific Express is headed north to deliver its payroll and forty-seven passengers. Suddenly the train is attacked by a host of thieving bandits aiming to become the richest outlaw of the Old West. In this game, players take on the role of the outlaws battling against each other to collect the most loot from the 3D train. Each turn, players plan ahead by playing action cards to steal loot, shoot their opponents, move around the train, and elude the marshal's bullets.

It is a game of both tactics and luck. If you have been shot too many times by your opponents you can end up with a hand full of useless bullets lowering your amount of action cards. The game can be played with between 2-6 players and is recommended for ages 10+. I'm not sure why that is the age guideline as we actually managed to play with both Gracie (7) and Zach (5). Gracie managed to play with no assistance and Zach needed a little assistance but we managed to have a few really fun games together as a family. I would definitely recommend it as a family game. 

It does take quite a while to set up the first time you play. You have to put together the 3D train with carriages and we did have the wheels on one of the carriages break which was a shame. The box is set up so that you can store it built up though so the next time you play it doesn't require the whole set up again. Once it is built you can add the money bags, gems and characters to the train ready to play. There are a few different rounds and each round a different person starts. The instructions are quite straight forward and there are advanced ways to play too to add a little more excitement to the game. 

Overall we really enjoyed this game. It is definitely one we will play regularly. Any game that has all of the family laughing and enjoying time together is a win for me. 

Me and Mine

Me and Mine (June 2018)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

At the end of May we moved into our lovely new home. This month we have spent a lot of time working on the house or enjoying time in the garden. The kids love playing out in their new big garden and have been out there most days since we moved in. They have also had the whole of June off school as there were no places available in our local school but Gracie will be starting in her new class at the start of next month.

We have had a few BBQ's this month. It has been nice being able to eat alfresco together. We also invested in a big paddling pool to enjoy with the nice weather and have made an effort to explore our local area including the local park and nature reserve.

It has been a great month for us and we can't wait to see what July has in store.

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

fallen kingdom

Review: Imaginext Jurassic World Collection

Friday, June 29, 2018

We were recently sent a selection of toys from the Imaginext Jurassic world collection. As you can see Zach was amazed by the contents. I made him close his eyes whilst I emptied the box and he couldn't believe his eyes when he opened them! I think he was also pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a live velociraptor in the box which I had been teasing since the box arrived with dinosaur print stickers on. Zach is a big Imaginext fan and a big Jurassic World fan but we hadn't seen the toys beforehand. I have to say we were super impressed from the get go and if you keep reading we will share what we thought of each item individually. 

Dinosaur Hauler
A hauler vehicle designed to transport dinosaurs. Turn the power pad midway to let the ramp down or turn it fully to eject the cage. Chase Blue and capture her using the net projectile ready to move her safely into the cage. This set also comes with an ACU (Asset Containment Unit) figure. It is job to safely contain the dinosaur. This is Zach's favourite from the collection. He loves the net projectile and Blue is his favourite of all the dinosaurs in the movies. I was impressed that he knew how to use this without me explaining. He must know now that playing around with the power pads on Imaginext toys will show him all that they can do. He hasn't stopped playing with this and has introduced the other dinos and character figures to play with it too.

Walking Indoraptor
This is by far my favourite item from the collection! You simply turn the power pad to activate the dinosaur. You then move the RTV away from the dinosaur to trigger the action and the dino will suddenly start to chase. The faster you move the RTV, the faster the dinosaur goes. I was really impressed by how well this works, in fact I wasn't sure if it would work outdoors, as many motorised toys struggle with this, but there was not a problem with getting it moving at all! This gave Zach a lot more room to move and play with the toy than he would usually have indoors. Me and Zach made a quick 30 second video to demonstrate this toy you can watch it below.

Stygimoloch & Owen
A hard-headed dinosaur. You certainly wouldn't want this one to headbutt you. This set comes with the dinosaur and container along with Owen on his motorbike. This is one of three feature character assortment sets. Each includes a dinosaur, character figure and accessories. Zach thought it was really cool that he got Owens super cool motorbike and he really likes the Stygimoloch.

ATV Quad
The ATV Quad set is part of the basic character assortment. Each set includes a character figure and a vehicle of some kind. This one includes an ATV Quad and ACU technician. Press the button to launch the pinchers to catch dino's on the loose. 

As you can see the sets together make a pretty impressive Jurassic World. Playing outdoors made it feel much more authentic. The dinosaurs are roaming free chasing vehicles with the ACU trying to capture as many as possible. The kids (and me) have thoroughly enjoyed playing with all of the Imaginext Jurassic World toys. 

The whole collection is available to buy at Smyths Toys and it is definitely worth having a look especially if you have any dinosaur fans. 


Review: Cobra Paw Game

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cobra Paw is the game that requires ninja-like reflexes and sharp recognition skills. It is a quick paced tile snatching game. Players take turns rolling the dice (featuring six unique symbols), spotting the tile matching the pattern and grabbing it before their opponents. The first player to snatch up six tiles wins.

Our latest Blogger Board Game Club game is Cobra Paw and it is a new family favourite. Although the kids are not as fast as us 'adults', they completely understand the rules and there are a few modes of play including one where Gracie and Zach can challenge each other. Me and Sam are so competitive especially when against each other though as much as it pains me to say it, he does always beat me at this game. My reflexes are just not fast enough! That and he can always find a way to cheat his way through a game!!

Poor Elsie loved being involved but didn't quite understand what she was supposed to be doing so we did help her a fair bit and let her feel like she was winning!. I would definitely agree with the 5+ suggested age for the game as it was perfect for Zach who is 5. He just about understood the game and was a tough contender against Gracie who is 7. They have requested we play this game a lot since we opened it.

It is a quick game, you could finish a game in 5-10 minutes even with children but it is also fun enough to play a few times in one sitting. You need at leas two players with a recommended maximum of 6. It is a great one to take on holiday or keep in your games cupboard for a fun pastime. 

We would definitely recommend this game and have had lots of fun trying it out!

Hotter Shoes

Review: Hotter Shoes Sol Sandals

Monday, June 25, 2018

I have been a big fan of Hotter Shoes for a few years now. They really know how to make your feet feel like a million dollars. I did have a beautiful pair of Roxanne Wedges which I wore each Summer but unfortunately they were damaged by damp at my old house and I had to part with them. I was heartbroken as they were my favourite comfortable summer sandals. Thankfully I won a pair at Blog On last month and so decided to opt for a new pair of everyday summer sandals. 

I ended up choosing the Sol sandals in brown multi, I wasn't sure whether the different coloured straps would be very 'me' but I wanted to stop myself from opting for white again. I am glad that I did though because I absolutely loved them as soon as they arrived. My shoe size can be quite hit and miss so I never know whether to go for a 6 or a 7 in most stores but Hotter do a 6.5 which so far seems to be perfect for me.

My favourite thing about Hotter shoes is that they are so comfortable. I love wearing sandals but I have such sensitive feet that I almost always end up with blisters or sore feet but these feel like I am walking on a cloud. Every part of them is comfortable and supportive. I also feel like I could definitely wear these sandals for any occasion and with most outfits! They are my go to choice of footwear at the moment with all of the nice weather we are having. They allow my feet to breathe and I can't think of any negative comments about them at all. 

The Sol Sandals can be bought here in a range of different colours. Alternatively, you can pop into your local Hotter Shoes store and have them fitted by staff in-store.


Review: Sweet Pups

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Every now and then a product comes along that really surprises me. The people who create them must have a great imagination. Sweet Pups are definitely one of these products. Sweet Pups are toys that look and smell just like some of your favourite pastries and cakes except you can turn them inside out and they become cute puppies! The smell of these tasty treats is amazing and Elsie couldn't stop sniffing hers as soon as we took the lid from the packaging off.

Elsie had no idea what the Sweet Pup actually was until I turned it inside out and revealed the cute puppy hidden inside. She was so surprised! She thinks it is hilarious as well as cute. It is such a clever little toy and although it is a very strange concept, it has been a huge hit and we all love the Sweet Pups. 

There are 12 sweet pups to collect, each is a different cake or pastry and a different breed of pup. From a cinnamon roll beagle to a poodle macaron, there are lots of very different ones to choose from.  They are currently available to buy at Claire's Accessories but will hopefully be widely available soon.


Review: LOL Surprise Pets Series 3

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Gracie recently reviewed the LOL Surprise Confetti Pop and loved it. I actually met the PR team recently at Blog On X and spotted the LOL Surprise Pets and thought that Gracie would freak about them so they let me bring one home for her to review. The LOL Surprise Pets are just like the original LOL Surprise toys except they are animals and not dolls. There are seven surprises to be unravelled including the pet and a range of accessories.

Gracie was so excited to open up her LOL Surprise pets ball to reveal who was inside. She was also surprised to find the contents quite different to those in the LOL Surprise dolls. The LOL Surprise pet came with a litter tray full of kinetic sand and a poop scoop to dig and find any hidden accessories. Gracie found a little necklace for her pet hidden in the litter tray. 

Gracie was really pleased with her LOL Surprise pet. She received Fuzzy Fan, a little ginger and black cat with a beret style hat. She really enjoyed digging in the cat litter tray to find hidden treats and has enjoyed playing with all of the contents since opening. She said she prefers the pets to the dolls now, which is no surprise as she is an animal lover. 

You can buy the LOL Surprise pets at most toy retailers.


Siblings (June 2018)

Friday, June 15, 2018

This month has been the start of a huge new adventure for the children as we moved into our new house at the end of May. They were superstars and helped with packing and loading the van before unloading the other side and have settled really nicely in our new home. We have moved out of the city they were born in and out into the countryside so there has been a lot to explore and take in. 

This month they have enjoyed playing in their new garden, a housewarming BBQ whilst dog-sitting their favourite doggies and exploring the new local area. 

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful