Sunday, 31 July 2016

#MySundayPhoto - bridesmaid bouquet

Today, we are in between two very special days indeed. On Thursday, two of our friends got married near Durham and we had a wonderful time celebrating with them, our other friends and their family. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A day out at National Trust Calke Abbey - and our top 5 things to see

On Saturday 16th July, we three ventured out to visit Calke Abbey, courtesy of the National Trust. Located in idyllic Derbyshire, the site of Calke Abbey dates back to the 12th Century, but the country manor, which isn't actually an abbey at all, was built in the early 1700s and has been curated by the
 trust since the mid-1980s.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Considering underfloor heating - quick survey

* Sponsored post

A house becomes a home when you start to personalise your space and get to add all those finishing touches that will make it feel warm and inviting. It can take a long time to create, but whether you're in the middle of a big build project or you've grown to love your home as it is, you're sure to have a special feeling when you walk in the door.

A warm welcome.

Our house is by no means perfect, but I love it just the same. There's a lot we would still do to it and we have a running list that we keep in the back of our minds for when we may have some spare money and fancy tackling one of the items listed.

A decked patio. A new kitchen. Rip out the whole bathroom, from top to bottom - and opt for something like underfloor heating.

I'd really like to do away with carpets altogether, to be honest; they're cosy underfoot, sure, but they can get dirty so quickly and if we had underfloor heating, we'd be able to walk around without slippers on anyway.

I didn't realise until recently that underfloor heating can be retro-fitted in many cases, so it doesn't have to be installed at the beginning of your refurbishment.


Spiralize ideas with Savisto

It's been a while since my last food or recipe based post (I've been a little lazy and uncreative recently), but I have a cool gadget I want to share with you. 


Monday, 25 July 2016

Days out across the Midlands this summer holiday & our top three picks

School's out for summer and whilst my little one isn't yet at school, many of our friends are teachers and it's hard not to get carried away with all the excitement the next six weeks holds.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

#MySundayPhoto - running free

this week, I've chosen another photo from our day out at National Trust Calke Abbey (full post will be up tomorrow, with plenty more photos - so many great opportunities).

Ethan really had a great time exploring the grounds and even though there was drizzle the whole time we were there, it didn't put him off running through grass in shorts and his Muddy Puddles raincoat.

I just love how happy and care free he looks, running here, there and everywhere.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The surprises of motherhood

Some days, I really am amazed to realise that I am indeed a mother. Of course, I know that I am; I have a dimple-cheeked three year old and some faint stretchmarks to remind me of this fact every day.

A laundry hamper full of small clothes, in need of constant washing. A lounge littered with tiny plastic figures, discarded by a sleepy toddler before bed. A safety gate sectioning off the dining room and kitchen, designed to keep said toddler at a safe distance but rarely achieving this now he's clever enough to work out how to operate it.

The way I feel too is different. And the same. All at the same time. 


3 family attractions you won’t want to miss in Liverpool

* Sponsored post

Liverpool’s a great place for a family day trip and if you’re planning a visit to this city on the Mersey, you can rest assured there’s plenty to keep you and your brood busy. 


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

My guide to making the most of your kitchen space

* PR post

Whether your kitchen is large and spacious or small and compact (like mine!), making the most of the square footage you have is key. Instead of leaving parts of your cooking space unused, here is a brief guide to help you max out the room you have available - so you can cook more efficiently, use every corner effectively and enjoy your little hub of your home every day:


Sunday, 17 July 2016

#MySundayPhoto - little boy, big tree

We had a lovely day out at National Trust 'unstately' home Calke Abbey, near Derby, yesterday and so many photos I took could have easily made it as this week's #MySundayPhoto.

I'll be sharing more about our day out soon and also some more pics of my boy as he ran wild and free yesterday and I'm amazed at his development lately.

For now, I want to share this photo; we found this wonderful, old tree and some of the branches were low enough for Ethan to try and reach.

Little boy, big tree.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Snap then send - a snappy review of the Postsnap app

I'll keep this short and snappy - I have a snap happy app to share with you today.

I don't know about you, but I have a phone filled with photos and happy memories. My Cloud storage is always full and I'm always meaning to print my photos. My friends and I have got much better at sharing photos from our adventures together (thanks Whatsapp and Viber!) and it's great to look back at fun times we have had.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Review: personal life planner from Unique Planners by Pirongs

I'm a picky customer when it comes to diaries, planners and notebooks. I love stationery (I know - you know already!) but I usually have something specific in mind.

It has to be 'just right'.

Nothing more so than a planner of diary.

I'd always enjoy picking out a new diary for each year and have come to like the quality and simplicity of Moleskine (or rather the Paperchase equivalent). But then I came across all the Pinterest boards and YouTube videos showing the wonderful world of planners and I was in love.

The personalisation, the prints, the different ways to organise your days and weeks.

Only trouble is, the companies that all offer these perfect planners are in America. And they cost a fortune, before adding in shipping and customs fees.


If, like me, you'd like to find a planner that works for you, and fits the way you think and you like to plan your time, then I may have found the solution. In the UK. Designed by you.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Because even princes throw tantrums - why I can relate to Kate

Kate and Wills are never out of the spotlight. The former in particular, from her attire and whether it's a 'recycled' outfit (read: worn before, believe it or not for one crazy minute) to her parenting skills.

From the moment their children were born, the whole world has watched their every public move to see what they're like as parents. How involved is William? Is Kate an attachment mummy? How well behaved are their little cherubs?

Do you remember the joyful scrutiny the media gave to Wills trying to fit the car seat when picking up Kate and their new sprog from the hospital? Bless him.

What I liked about this moment was how William was just like any other new father - clueless, worn out, overwhelmed - but unlike most dads, he had the whole world watch his every move as he tried to fix those pesky, fiddly clasps.

And we've been given a glimpse at the realities of parenthood, royalty or not, again.

When visiting the International Air Tattoo, Prince George decided not to play ball and, as the media termed it, he had an 'attack of the terrible twos!'.

Fancy that? A toddler who didn't want to be dressed up, trotted out in public next to a noisy aeroplane. He'd probably much rather be watching Mr Tumble.

This comment made by the Daily Mail made me smile: "After arriving the normally impeccably-behaved youngster threw a tantrum before being picked up by his mother." 

Left: my little cherub, upset with me because I said he didn't need to wear his winter hat and scarf - as it was the hottest day of the year.
Right (source): the future King of England, giving his poor mum Kate the run around - and in those heels, too.

Prince George? A normal toddler? Bah!

I think all mums can relate to what Kate must have been feeling in that moment. A flush to the cheeks, the feeling that everyone's eyes are on you, judging you as a parent - except, in her case, she knows they really are.

It's a miracle that Prince George has put on such a perfect performance to date (remember his baby group meeting where he started to crawl, wearing those cute as anything dungarees?). And I bet Kate holds her breath every time they step out the door to go to some engagement or another.

Little do we know, but angelic little George has just thrown his spaghetti hoops all over the floor. Or had a wobbler over being given the wrong colour cup. Probably.

And the reason why Kate is often spotted wearing something she's worn before? It's because all mums have their go-to, safe outfits; the ones they feel comfortable in, can just throw on and go, and probably know there's no toddler snot on it... just yet.

The press like to pick celebs up for mistakes, from wardrobe fails to spotty chins. We all like to find a fault in a somewhat other seemingly faultless life. The great thing about William and Kate is that behind everything, they are parents to two children. They may lead a very different life to the rest of us, but even they are subject to toddler tantrums - just like their royal subjects, you and I.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Life and Loves Lately #8 - a vintage birthday, healthy living and the best seat in the house

It's been another busy month - I mean, how is it that we are a week into July already??

Here's a quick run through of my life and loves lately...

DOING We've been pretty busy as the build up to the two weddings has picked up, with just three weeks left until our friends walk down the aisle. Following on from my last life and loves lately post, where we had just been on two hen dos, we've enjoyed two more since. Greedy brides!

A couple of weekends ago, we had a spa weekend at Thorpe Park Hotel (near Leeds, not the one with all the rollercoasters!). It was a really nice couple of days and the hotel was really lovely on the inside and not what you would expect when you see it from outside, as it's within a business park. The food was fantastic and the spa was really nice too, so we indulged in some pampering and girly time, with a PJ party and lots of popcorn and giggles.

Last weekend was my birthday and my three best friends came to stay. As our men were off in Leeds cave diving and the like for a stag do, we got together to celebrate not only my birthday but a fourth and final hen do, just as a group of four.

It was a vintage affair, starting with a trip on the Severn Valley Railway steam train. They had a 'step back to the 1940's' theme on for the weekend, with displays, costumes, cars, and stalls all setting the scene.

WEARING We dressed up for the occasion (the bride-to-be and I wearing Lindy Bop dresses) and thoroughly enjoyed the ride, stopping off to see each station and posing up a storm.

Late afternoon, we went to a boutique hotel and cocktail bar called The Edgbaston, a short distance from Birmingham City Centre, for champagne afternoon tea. It has an art deco theme and fantastic cocktails, so it was a lovely way to wrap up the day. Another cocktail at another vintage style bar and we headed home to enjoy some films and nibbles.

STARTING If you read my post about our current daily routine, you'll know that we have just joined our local David Lloyd club. We'e had out introductions and inductions and we're starting to make fitness and leisure part of our family agenda, more than we ever have before.

It feels good. So far I've been to yoga, had a gym session, went for a swim and a steam and I've signed up to try pilates and Body Balance classes too in the next week. On Saturday they have a family fun day and Ethan is trying a swimming taster session, so we have a new costume all ready for him - hope he enjoys it!

TAKING With my new focus on wellness and another birthday under my belt, I've been taking some collagen capsules to see if they can help improve my skin tone and vitality.

I was kindly sent Solgar Collagen Hyaluronic Acid Complex capsules to try out. Packed with hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and collagen plus a few other concoctions, this supplement promises to boost your skin as with age and exposure to the sun, natural production of hyaluronic acid and collagen declines - and we get dryness, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging of the skin as a result. Boo!

I've tried soluble collagen before and really felt I could see a difference, but these capsules are even easier to take daily (just one with your main meal). I need a bit of a boost for my skin after all these hen dos; it's taken its toll on my skin and I'm keen to keep using Solgar to hopefully help with dryness and fine lines. Not sure they can take back the laughter lines I've created over the past 32 years, but I can but try...!

A bottle of 30 capsules is priced around £34, but online you can find them for around £26 from various health food shops and suppliers. Worth giving a go for sure.

WATCHING Aside from making very good use of our DisneyLife membership, which I wrote about last week, I've been binge watching The Big Bang Theory (for the hundredth time) and have gone back to the start of Orange is the New Black, so I can recap before watching the new series. I absolutely love it and can't wait to get up to series four.

DECORATING Whilst it's not that long ago since our living room overhaul and hallway makeover, I've still been finding bits here and there to add to these rooms.

I came across Brewers Home and spent a good hour virtually window shopping - I love finding somewhere new to explore!

I, like most women, have a thing for cushions and I've wanted to update the tired ones in our living room for a while. I came across the Layla Faye cushion collection and fell in love instantly with the geometric prints. I love a good print, from Cath Kidston to Orla Kiely, and we already have a geometric print blanket so thought one of these bright cushions would be the perfect finishing touch for our sofa.

I chose this one - Daisy Chain in Yellow Mellow - because of the vibrant shade and striking design, and I was so pleased when it arrived just a day later.

Best seat in the house now, for sure.

The fabric quality is top notch and it has a good weight to it, with good stuffing. It's more than I would usually look to spend, at £38, but I do think it's something different and will look as good for a long time to come - no matter how much my dog Watson sleeps on it!

I'll definitely come back to Brewers Home to see what's new as there's all sorts for the home on there.


There's plenty more I could share but I think I'll leave it there for now - it would be lovely to have you pop back again soon so I can tell you more about my life and loves lately. Don't forget you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest too :)

Kelly x

* Note: I was sent the Pro Collagen capsules and cushion for the purposes of review. That's all. Opinions are my own, always.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham's fintastic 20th birthday bash!

Did you know that this coming Tuesday, 5th July, is an iconic day for The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham?

Well, you do now! 

It's celebrating its 20th anniversary and as one of their blogger ambassadors this year, I wanted to let you in on the celebrations. 

You know how much we love the centre and if you're around on Tuesday, we highly recommend a visit as to mark its anniversary, the attraction is giving the first 100 people who visit the special 1996 entry price of £5.95 with a limited edition golden anniversary pop badge. And, should you share the same birthday as The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham of 5th July 1996, you can visit for free!

The fish will be treated to some birthday cake and photo boards highlighting memories from across the years will be on display.  

Now is a great time to visit too as there's two brand new attractions opening - as of today!

Being my birthday, we're otherwise engaged, but we will be popping along again soon to check out the new 360 degree ocean tunnel; a completely transparent tunnel that gives you an even clearer view of the underwater world, plus Clownfish Kingdom (set to be a big hit with our very own Finding Nemo fan), which features an array of interactive tanks so you can get close to some incredible underwater species like Clownfish and Blue Tangs (Dori, to you and I).

We'd also like to check out one of the Behind the Scenes Tours (a new package you can add to your visit for an additional £3.50 per person) so you can find out more about the centre and the care of all the creatures that live there.

For further information on any of the above, visit the website.

Take a look at a couple of my past visits to The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham:


Friday, 1 July 2016

A family review of the DisneyLife monthly digital subscription service

We're all big Disney fans in our house. Hubs grew up in a Disney-mad home and got to go to Florida a few times, where he and his siblings firmly cemented their love of Mickey and co.

I had a few Disney VHS tapes when I was younger - Aladdin and The Lion King being firm favourites, to this day, plus Fantasia and Jungle Book - and would watch these on an almost weekly basis.

When I met Ste, I started to explore the world of Disney more and the friends I made at university, who are still my besties today, are all fanatics too so it didn't take long for me to join the party and become a big fan myself.

So much so, in our friendship group, we assigned each other with a princess each. I was given Cinderella but, over the years, I asked to be Rapunzel instead (I love her sass, I want a pet Pasquale and don't even get me started about her long locks...).

When Ethan came along, there was no doubt that he would be a Disney child. His first Disney friends were Winnie the Pooh - the main theme for the gender neutral nursery - and as he got a little older, we introduced him to Buzz and Woody, Mike and Sulley and so many more characters he absolutely adores.

Every time we show him a film or show for the first time, it gets added to the long list of favourites. Nemo. Lion King. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Hubs and I had already built quite the Disney collection between us before Ethan was born and we're subscribed to Netflix too, but we were still really keen to try out DisneyLife.

Why? Well, I like the idea of having everything in one place. Our DVD's are in a few different places and when Ethan gets his hands on them, who knows where a disc will end up. We've stopped buying DVD's in general so we don't have a copy of a few films, so having DisneyLife would mean access to the whole library.

And when I say whole library, it really is.

Films, television shows, sing-alongs, read-alongs - the lot.

Classics, Pixar hits, superheroes - you name it.

We've been trying out DisneyLife for a month now and as a family, we have had good use out of it. Here's what we all think about this monthly subscription service...

Me: Disney is such a broad place to explore, and with DisneyLife, we've been able to flick on family favourites as well as try out new things too. If you're a Disney fan, or you have children that are, it's a bit of a no-brainer. For me, the benefits of DisneyLife include:

* Convenience - whatever mood Ethan is in, or whichever character he asks for, I can use the one app to find it and pop it on for him. Likewise, if we think of a film off the cuff, I don't have to spend ages trying to hunt a copy down.

* Disney has something for all ages - from Mickey's Clubhouse through to the most recent films, there's a show or film that will appeal, so children are less likely to become bored and can grow with the service.

Ethan: There's so many fun characters to choose from and I almost couldn't make up my mind who to have as my profile photo (I chose Sven from Frozen in the end - he's great!). I ask Daddy most days if I can have a look at DisneyLife on his tablet. I really like:

* The collections - I like how DisneyLife gives you the option to search according to character or themes, so if I want to watch Tigger, Mummy can just pick him and it'll pop up with everything they have with Tigger in. Grr-reat!

* Explore - the layout is really bright and engaging and there's lots to look through.

* So much to do - I like watching my favourite shows and films too but DisneyLife also has some great stories and sing-alongs too. This means I can enjoy a lot more, when playing in the living room or when settling down to sleep.

Stephen: I wasn't sure whether we would really need DisneyLife having so many of the films already and being signed up to Netflix too, who tend to have a good selection. Having used it over a few weeks now, I think it's a good service and Ethan's enjoyed using it, but there's a few simple improvements they could make to make it even more user friendly:

* Search - if Ethan has a particular show he wants to watch, and you search for it, everything to do with your search term comes up and not in any real order so sometimes you have to scroll through to find what you're really looking for. It's ok for having a general look around, but not as useful when you know what you're looking for and somebody is being impatient...!

* Favourites - I like how you can favourite episodes but it's a shame you can't seem to favourite whole shows; a bit annoying if you know you'll be returning to something again in the near future.

* Continuous play - I guess we've got used to services like Netflix that automatically start the next episode when one finishes. Some shows can be quite short so before you realise it, you have a toddler tugging on your arm asking for 'more Mickey!' and you have no idea which episode he was just watching and have to go through the options again. We've used the service through Chromecast which doesn't go back to the menu, so you have to scroll through again to find where you were.

* Memory - I think that if DisneyLife could remember what you had watched previously, this would be really helpful. Again, we're used to this with other services and it's just a handy feature to make sure you keep your place. Only minor but a good update to consider.

* A great compendium and companion - with all of the above said, I do like the user interface of DisneyLife. The layout looks good, we like being able to choose avatars for each member of the family and it is pretty easy to pick up and use. It's given us more access to more Disney so it certainly delivers from a content point of view.


With more than 300 films, 5,000 songs, 2,000 episodes, 100 stories and a new app to download each month, you do get a fair bit for your £9.99 monthly digital service subscription fee (after a free trial period and with no minimum contract so you cancel anytime).

As the Disney universe is expanding all the time, I think it's a great choice for new and existing fans, both young and young at heart.

* We received a free subscription period in return for an honest review - all opinions are our own.

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