Ethan has been potty trained for a while now and is doing well now he has started school, with no accidents (touch wood) for a couple of weeks' - but he does still wear a nappy / nappy pants at nighttime. We don't want to rush things and know that it will take some time to make the transition to no nappies and dry nights.

We've stocked up on size 6 pull up pants and nappies thanks to Sainsbury's, who sent us some samples in celebration of their fantastic Baby's Big Event that's now on in store, until 1st October. We've had some issues with certain nappy brands in the past, with Ethan waking up damp due to leaks in the night, so we've tried different types and so far, Sainsbury's nappies are so good.

Even better with the special offers, as the £3 nappy packs offer beats even Aldi.

Here are the details, kindly passed onto me by Sainsbury's of the best baby buys and why their nappies are so good...

As the last remnants of the summer sun slowly fade away, you may be considering saying goodbye to your garden until springtime comes around. But before you put the gas BBQ in storage, hang up your tongs and stash away your patio furniture, ask yourself this: are you selling your outdoor space short? Autumn and Winter bring with them some of the most fun and special occasions for us to enjoy with family and friends. There’s also a myriad of spectacular changes in nature that really deserve to be appreciated close up. So, don’t let the colder weather put you off spending time in your outdoor space during the seasons ahead! Now’s the time to start adding social events to your calendar and scheduling some seasonal parties to remember.
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Prepping your space
During the summer months, flowers and foliage can provide a convenient colourful backdrop for garden based events, while the later sunsets make chatting into the small hours a welcome possibility. From Autumn onwards, you may need to be a little more creative with your decor and put some planning into providing the warmth and light needed for this type of thing. But, with a little extra effort, you’ll often be rewarded with an occasion that feels extra special thanks to the seasonal magic in the air.

Rather than packing items like garden furniture away, think about investing in good quality weatherproof covers. If you usually store your BBQ away for winter, this year make sure you keep it in an easy to access spot instead, this way you can fire it up for al fresco autumn/winter dining!

The weather in the UK from September onwards is changeable at best, so before you start booking dates in your diary and sending out invites, you may want to put some contingency measures in place too. A fire pit or chimnea will keep you cosy when drinks and chats with friends carry on into the night and a stash of soft and snuggly blankets can bring a welcome helping of hygge to any occasion. When it comes to dressing the scene, remember that fairy lights aren’t just for the Christmas tree - they look great in the garden too. Use outdoor lights to brighten trees, hedges and benches and add a little sparkle.

To ensure you have all your bases covered, whatever the weather, you could invest in a temporary outdoor structure such as your very own glamping worthy garden yurt. Or, make it even easier to bid a hasty retreat indoors when the weather turns with bi-fold doors that allow you to enjoy the best views in comfort. Slim-styled bifolding doors with bigger glass panes let you take in more of that firework or Christmas lights display.

Outdoor occasions for your diary
Once you’ve got the basics for all-weather outdoor entertaining in place, it’s time to plan in some parties to be proud of. Here are just a few upcoming occasions that can be made extra memorable when celebrated in the open air.  
Hubs recently started a new job and with the change in seasons, he was on the look out for a new coat that would look smart for work and could weather whatever weather we have in store. He's 6 foot 4 inches and broad shouldered, so sometimes, finding clothes that fit - particularly in arm length - and that look the part for work can be a real challenge for him.

Step in Jacamo. They have a huge selection of menswear including options designed for tall men, and when they asked if Ste would be interested in trying something from their current collection, including coats, it couldn't have come at a better time.

When we first looked at the styles available, I wasn't sure if we would find the kind of thing Ste was looking for, or if it would be the right style for his build, be too expensive or that there would be too few options to consider.

But I was wrong; Jacamo had a huge selection of coats and jackets and there were at least 10 that I highlighted for Ste to look at that would fit the bill.

Family meal planning is one of those tasks that sounds so dry and dull, but it doesn’t have to be. For a start, it can really help you to improve your family’s diet and provide everyone with interesting meals. On top of that, it can provide you with room to do new things and have fun while you cook. That has to be a good thing, so here are some ideas to transform that burden into a pleasure.

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Discuss Ideas with the Family

First of all, you need to make sure that you’re making meals that your family enjoys. This is not always easy because, as anyone with experience of cooking for children will now, tastes can change pretty quickly. One week they love a certain food and a few weeks later, they can’t stand it. So, discuss your weekly plans with your family to ensure no one is going to have a problem with what’s for dinner in the week ahead.

One of my favourite things to do is enjoy a meal out and last weekend, we headed to the newly refurbished Crown and Anchor pub in West Bromwich, part of the Sizzling Pub and Grill chain and just 10 minutes drive away.

We were invited along to sample the new surroundings and enjoy a meal and it was great timing, as Ethan was about to start school and we wanted to do something to celebrate. My Mother-in-Law joined us and we really enjoyed everything that the pub and team had to offer.

We were warmly welcomed, with Ethan given some colouring to do, and had a table reserved for us in the family friendly section of the pub. It was a bustling Saturday, early evening, but not too busy and with other families enjoying their meals.

I am a big lover of dresses and by far have more of these in my wardrobe than any other item. As September rolls on the the blustery and cooler weather starts to take hold, dresses can make for the perfect transitional item as they are perfect for layering; be it with a long-sleeve top or shirt on underneath a pinafore style or with a cardigan, wrap, jumper, blazer or chunky scarf to keep the look warm and comfortable.

And I have found two perfect dresses to help me step into the new season, courtesy of Simply Be.

I haven't actually shopped online here before but given the chance, I found more than a couple of things that would suit my style and the autumn months ahead too.
Ethan finished preschool early so we could have two weeks together to enjoy the last of the summer holidays. We started our quality family time the other week with a visit to London aboard a London Midland train, who invited us to enjoy a trip way. The three of us ventured from Birmingham New Street to Watford Junction in search of the wizarding world of Harry Potter (Warner Bros. Studio Tour).

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Ethan has only been to London once before and hubs and I have only ever been to the studios once in the past, so we were all set for a couple of days of adventure - having booked an overnight stay in London to really make the most of our travels, courtesy of London Midland.

We left Birmingham on the 8.33am service on Tuesday, armed with snacks and our iPads too as we had heard all about the onboard entertainment system, Motion. It's just been updated with more content for the whole family, with titles such as Minions, Despicable Me 2, Secret Life of Pets, Thomas and Friends... and many others.

Seeing the signs for Motion, we had no sooner taken our seats than Ethan asked to "watch something!" and so our journey began. He had a look around at what Motion had to offer, watching some Peppa Pig and then enjoying a game where you play a cartoon frog and have to try and catch all the flies. Daddy quite liked that one too...!

As Ethan starts school today, I am really pleased to say that we made the most of the summer. He was in preschool for the first part, as normal, and we also got to see some of his friends outside of nursery time too. We visited my parents in Hampshire and saw Paw Patrol Live - and then, we had two weeks' off together! During this time, we went to London on the train, visited the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, had a day out at Cbeebiesland, stayed with friends in Durham and had a few quieter days at home too.

And during each adventure, Ethan had a couple of new friends along for the ride.

He loves Tsum Tsum toys because they come in all his favourite Disney and superhero characters, and I like them too because they're small, cost no more than £3-£4 each and they're great for us to grab as we head out the door so Ethan has something to play with in the car and when we're out, without having to take a whole backpack load of things!

We were kindly sent a new Tsum Tsum Vacation Pack from Posh Paws International, which launches exclusively at Clintons this month, and it was a great gift to have for our adventures.

The other weekend, me and three of my friends, wearing our vintage style frock finest, hot-stepped to Symphony Hall Birmingham for a vintage themed event. It was the Ever-After Tea Dance, in the afternoon, with a Dance Spectacular to follow in the evening so you could choose which event suited you best, and the focus was on fun and learning a few nifty moves.

It was great to see the Symphony Hall transformed and taken back a little in time. It is a stunning venue anyway, but for the first time they installed a temporary dance floor over the lowered stall seating so that guests could sit and drink tea, enjoy a cake and then learn how to lindy hop on the dance floor with a live band.

This week, it's been hard to not see a flurry of starting school photos appearing across your social feeds as children across the country have kindly posed in front of a door or fireplace at the request of their proud parents for that first school photo - and I will be no different come Tuesday when Ethan starts reception.

It's a proud moment in every parent's life and a big step. It's the first time that his future is determined or constructed by someone else, in some way. It's the beginning of formalised teaching and learning and tests. It's the start of the next decade and more of his life.

Many parents I know have felt nervous or anxious about this moment. About the changes ahead. Remembering their little ones as just that - their little ones. How time flies. They've grown up so fast. I can't believe that they are starting school.

But you know what? I can believe it.

Ethan has grown so much in the past few months and having been at preschool for three and a half years - two and a half as full time - he is ready for this next stage. At least, I think so. I am sure that I will wobble on Tuesday morning and have a lump in my throat when I see him in his uniform for the first time, and when we drop him at the school gates. No doubt. But it won't really be from nerves or feeling worried about how he will do. I think he will thrive and love school life. I am also sure that there will be hard days, where we're running late on the school run or he's decided that he doesn't want to go to school that day. But he will have a great time and I do think he is ready.

Do you ever daydream about your dream house and what it might look like? I have so many ideas collected from over the years, having worked in the home and lifestyle arena for more than a decade and just loving everything to do with the home.

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My idea of a dream house changes all the time as I am influenced by so many things. I'd like to live somewhere with a lot of greenery around me, as I love nature and have always had a thing about trees and woods. My family home growing up was next to a wooded area and because I lived next to a large school, where my Dad worked, I had the chance to explore and wander at the weekends. Through the woods, across the field, around the conker trees and down to the canal.

To me, these places are magical and I do love the look of natural wood furniture and finishes in the home. It brings a classic, timeless look that is guaranteed to last a lifetime and it gives such a cosy feel. My dream house would be something like a converted barn, or would have mock features to make it a mix of modern home with striking wood touches. We've stayed in a few cottages with friends for a weekend away where there have been beautiful features such as oak beams and I have always fallen in love with this kind of look. 

#TBT post, from February 2015, shared again as it was five years ago today that I first learned that I was going to become mum....

For some people, it's a decision they made a long time ago and for others, it's a surprise but either way, finding out you're going to become a mum is a really special time.

Whether you've been trying for ages or succeeded on your first attempt (ahem), when the blue line appears on your pregnancy test, you're heart skips a beat and you realise that this is it. This. Is. It.

You're going to have a baby. You've going to grow a bump. Someone will, someday, call you Mummy.


It's a moment I know I will never forget. It was something we had very much wanted and very much planned (I don't do that well with surprises and like to have a good idea about what's going to happen and when, as much as I can) and Ethan seemed to be very happy to go along with this. After three months, the line went blue and my journey to become mum began.

We have had our fair share of special occasions as a family over the past couple of years. Two years ago, both my Sister-in-Law and my Brother-in-Law got married, within the space of four months, and then last summer, one of my best friends got married then two of our best friends married each other just four days later - and we were involved in the wedding parties for all of them!

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Of course, we had to look the part, and with so many celebrations to enjoy, we had to find the perfect outfit - and both hubs and Ethan had to find the right formal attire to go with the different weddings, themes and colours.

Finding the right mens suit, I am told, isn't always easy. When it was our own wedding, almost seven years ago now, I left the groomsmen suits to Stephen to sort out. I didn't know what to look for and thought that it was best to leave him to it, as he would know what style he wanted to go for and how he wanted his groomsmen to look. In the end, it was quite a traditional black suit with a short tail, paired with a white embroidered waistcoat and a rich purple tie, to tie-in with the purple bridesmaids dresses I had chosen.

Then, in the case of my Dad, he really wanted to make a statement - and opted for a bold pinstripe with a hat to top off the look!

It is a common and concerning problem: tea time tantrums. From hissy fits when peas are on the plate to refusing to eat anything red, children, as they grow and develop, have all kinds of food fads.

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As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that they eat a balanced diet that supports and nurtures what can sometimes be rapid growth, physically and emotionally. But if you precious poppet won’t eat peas or leafy greens, won’t touch carrots or entertain anything that resembles a fruit, what can you do.

You need to get creative. And that means getting down and dirty in the garden. The answer to your faddy eater may lay in domestic polytunnels or within the flower borders of your garden.
So, roll up your sleeves, and get planting – but, more importantly, get the kids involved!

Plant and Grow Your Own Food

Sounds too messy and time-consuming? Or maybe you are no gardener and therefore, have no clue what makes a parsnip grow big and flavoursome? Or maybe you just don’t have the space in the garden?

The good news is, there are solutions...

Today is the first day of our holidays, with over two weeks together before Ethan starts school. I have lots of things planned in and a trip to the Sea Life Centre Birmingham will almost certainly be on the cards, so we can catch their limited time special event - The Deep.

This latest special event is about exploring the mysteries of The Deep, where children can attempt to solve the secrets of the sea and become a Junior Nekton. Visitors can navigate to each of the Nekton zones and use the decoders to solve the puzzles along the way, collecting a reward at the end of the challenge.
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