Friday, 31 March 2017

Conservatory Considerations: Are You Ready For One?

* Collaborative post

These days, lots of families are trying to think of ingenious ways of increasing the space in their home. One way in which homeowners are trying to add on more floor space to their property is by taking it out into the garden and extending with a conservatory.


Conservatories are a great option for families, as they will create a sun trap, where you can all relax and soak up the sun, even on days when the temperatures aren’t that warm. You will be able to also have all the benefits of a second living room, and your children will have some extra space to spread out in and play with their toys.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

My fourth Mother's Day

When Ethan was known as 'Bean', I received a bunch of flowers and a teddy bear from my yet-to-be-born baby on Mother's Day to say how much they looked forward to meeting me - and this weekend, I celebrated my fourth proper Mother's Day with my little boy in my arms.

It was a glorious weekend for a celebration, wasn't it? The sun seemed to have his hat on all over the country and we had a lovely couple of days as a family. 


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nursery room must-haves

* Collaborative post

Finding out that you are pregnant is one of the most exciting things that will happen in your life. In fact, it's easy to get a little bit rushed off your feet with it all - I know I did! One minute you're reading the test result, the next you've already chosen a name and have bought all manner of baby accessories you didn't even know you needed.

This is a trap that many expectant mothers fall into. While there's nothing wrong with being excited, you do need to be able to rein in it at some point, especially with your spending. If you were planning a baby, you probably had some funds tucked away to splash on your new addition when the time came. But with the price of everything from baby clothes to nursery decor, you might see that budget go down a little faster than you were expecting. We all want our babies to have nice things, of course. But make sure you get all the practical items first, as these are what will actually make your life a lot easier during those first few weeks. Check out this handy list of some of the nursery must-haves you just can't do without...


Friday, 24 March 2017

Do you need more thyme?

* Collaboration and review 

We all wish we could have more time to get things done and as a parent, I think it becomes a state of mind - so much to do, so many distractions, not enough time to do it all. There's a lot of emphasis on learning how to multi-task but actually, there's a lot to be said for focusing on one thing at a time - and making sure it's done well. We're also told repeatedly that having 'me time' is so important but often as a busy mum, this comes with guilt - like you are choosing yourself over your children or other 'more important' tasks. So, what if I tell you, you could have more time? Not just to 'get things done' but actually quality time to spend with friends, family or yourself. How much of a difference do you think this would make?

For the past week or so, I have been given the gift of time thanks to the frankly marvellous services of Thyme; quality meals, frozen at the right moment in time, delivered to your door.

A lover of a pun as much as me, Thyme endeavours to give you the #giftofthyme through their premium frozen meals, which are 1) tasty, 2) can be cooked from frozen in under an hour, and 3) are full of quality ingredients - so much so, you'd think that mama had made them all along.


3 simple ways you can make the world a better place

* Collaborative post 

There are over seven billion people living on this planet, but that doesn’t that you can’t do you bit to help make it a better place. Most of us want to do what we can to live well, for the benefit of ourselves and others, so keep reading to find out what you can do to have a  positive impact on the world.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

#LifeLately - spring begins

It's been a quiet couple of months for us really but we've never been bored or without something going on - more a case of going with the flow. Work has kept us both busy along the way so our evenings and weekends for the most part have been about enjoying some down time together, at home or having a trip out for breakfast, to the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham or to B&Q for a few DIY bits.

It's been really nice to have a few weekends where we have just taken things as they come. Ethan is in a really loving stage at the moment, saying that we are his best friends (even our pets) and calling us handsome and gorgeous and giving cuddles whenever he feels like it.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Fuel for a Monday morning

It's the spring equinox today so we can expect the warmer weather and lighter mornings and evenings to continue - but if you need more to lift your spirits or get your week off to a great start, then FUEL10k might just be for you.

I've never been much of a one for breakfasts (although looking back at some breakfast inspiration from past posts, including health food writer Sam Hadadi, I'm feeling a bit of a belly rumble coming on...) but hubs is the opposite. He's all about the cereal, the Weetabix, the protein shakes. Particularly when he's being strict with his gym / training routine, he goes all out to eat better, eat regularly and start the day as he means to go on.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Win tickets to see Naomi's Wild & Scary show at Town Hall Birmingham this April!

I have another great competition to share with you, as part of my collaboration with Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, to celebrate a new family show that's a bit wild and a teensy bit scary too...

Children’s TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson (you may know her from: Naomi's Nightmares of Nature, Wild and Weird, Live 'n Deadly, Countryfile, Milkshake) is coming to Town Hall this Easter with a packed show of fun and surprises. Naomi's Wild & Scary Show will see Naomi joined live on stage by some really scary creatures, including a Carpet Python, Alligator Snapping Turtle, a giant centipede, and a tarantula! With up-close handy cam action, a giant screen and loads of interaction, you're sure to have a wild, scary and fun time with Naomi in this new live show (age guideline: 5+, tickets £20.50 each, save when you buy online).


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sweep away the cobwebs

I think it may be safe to say that spring has finally sprung and I am already feeling lighter and brighter. The lighter mornings and evenings just make me feel so much more focused and really wanting to get more done.

I recently shared a spring update post about how I'm looking ahead to the new season and a big part of this is about sorting our house. With a toddler around, there's just always so much stuff and I seem to spend most of my time tidying. Tidying, and not getting to the proper cleaning that needs doing.

After having a big deep clean, which I have scheduled for the Easter holidays, as per my tradition (it's either a big spring clean or a room makeover!), I want to try and keep on top of things more. Perhaps a brief daily rota could help, assigning a task a day so that we can get things done and keep clutter away - and away from taking up more time at the weekends.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Recipe with a twist: turkey cottage pie with sweet potato mash

For busy families like ours, eating well isn’t always easy but when I do manage to find the time, I do like making something new, particularly if I can put a new twist on something. 

Take the humble cottage pie. A firm family favourite, it’s a great winter warmer but with a couple of tweaks, it can be turned into a spring time dish that’s filling but still light enough to eat if you’re being good.

I swap beef mince for turkey mince, which is lean in terms of fat and cost, and use sweet potato as a topper for a sweet, nutrient packed alternative to serve up a delicious dish for a happy mealtime for everyone. It can even be frozen or enjoyed for lunch the next day when heated up for a couple of minutes – so make more than you need and get a lot out of your time in the kitchen.

Here's my recipe, if you fancy having a go yourself...

Sweet potato turkey cottage pie

Serves: 4-6 people (depending on size of appetite, or if you serve with some fresh green vegetables on the side)
Time: 30 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes to bake in the oven
Difficulty: easy


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Becoming a mindful parent

'Mindfulness' is a popular term at the moment and it's one that has been applied to parenting too, as a way of trying to understand and respond to our children in a more considered manner. I wondered whether it would be a new buzz word, another stick to beat parents with or a new age solution to an age old problem, or if indeed it would have relevance to me.

We're very lucky with Ethan and have always adopted a baby/toddler-led approach, knowing where he should be and when but letting him show us when he's ready rather than enforcing weaning, potty training or a sleep routine. It's a method that works for us and we are really fortunate to either have a really good toddler (most of the time) or to have worked out a way to parent that works for us.

That being said, Ethan can get a right strop on and hubs and I have very different approaches when a tantrum strikes. He also goes through periods, be it a funny half hour or a full day, where he decides to be more challenging - saying no to everything, getting upset for no reason or being rude or saying something mean. It more often than not comes out of no-where but I never know how to deal with the situation or the best way of making things better - without becoming a push-over parent.

I received some information about a new book, Mindfulness for Parents by Amber Hatch (RRP £9.99), and was keen to review a copy. It promises to provide a personal, knowledgeable perspective on how to deal with the stresses of parenting better with practical tips as to how to employ mindfulness techniques to your own family.


Monday, 6 March 2017

My life in photos

* Sponsored post

The saying goes 'a picture paints a thousand words' and perhaps that's why I love photographs so much. Our house has so many photos on display, in frames, hung on the wall and a few canvas prints too, because I like to be surrounded by happy memories and reminders of the times we've shared, how far we've come and the people that mean the most to us in the whole world.

It's great that we all have camera phones and can point and click at any moment, keen to capture something right then and there, but it's also nice to have a proper camera to take special photos with. If you're looking around for the best CSC camera, there's a lot of choice to be had, as I recently discovered, and I've since fallen in love with taking photos again where you want to snap away knowing that you're recording memories as they happen.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

Win Disney's Moana on DVD with TBM - you're welcome!

We are all HUGE Disney fans in our house and as soon as Moana came out at the cinema over the Christmas holidays, we were there with our popcorn. We'd heard great things, love The Rock and the trailer made it look like such a fun and beautiful film - and it didn't disappoint.

The story is engaging, the characters full of energy and the songs are SO catchy. Ever since we saw it, Ethan has begged us to play the songs via YouTube and loves them so much, he actually thinks the film is called 'You're Welcome' after the main song sung by Maui. He also loves 'Shiny', sung by a crazy crab, and the signature song by Moana is just stunning.

Ethan has the figures from the Disney Store now and a giant Maui cuddly toy, plus two Tsum Tsum's of the main characters, so it's safe to say he will be jumping with joy when the film comes out on DVD later this month.

And I have one to giveaway to one of my lucky followers!

Here's the details for you...

Join the journey of a lifetime with “Moana”, the sweeping story of a spirited teenager who sets sail on a daring adventure to save her people, starring newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as the voice of brave and tenacious Moana and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the larger-than-life demigod Maui. “Moana” sets a new course, arriving to homes on Digital Download on 27th March and on DVD, Blu-ray™ and 3D Blu-ray™ on 3rd April. To celebrate the release, one lucky winner will win a copy of the film on DVD!

Continuing the fun-filled adventure, families can continue their journey, filled with hours of extensive and entertaining bonus offerings including: a new, hilarious mini-movie featuring Moana and Maui; an in-depth look at how the people, cultures and heritage of the Pacific Islands shaped the story of “Moana;” revealing Q&A with co-stars Auli‘i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, and famed animation directors Ron Clements and John Musker; insider access to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foaʻi, the trio behind the film’s moving music; four mini-documentaries highlighting the movie’s groundbreaking effects; deleted scenes; a deleted song; hidden Easter Eggs; music video; “Inner Workings,” the theatrical short film directed by Leo Matsuda that spotlights the internal struggle between a man’s Brain and Heart; and much, much more.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer the following question in a blog comment below, by following and tweeting your response to me @tobecomemum or by liking and commenting on my Facebook page or on this Instagram post with the correct answer: 

What character does Dwayne Johnson play in the film?

a) Hei Hei

b) Chief Tui
c) Maui

I will put all entrants into a random draw and will announce the winner after the closing date of midnight on Saturday 25th March. Be sure to get involved - it really is a wonderful film - and best of luck!

MOANA releases on 3D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™, and DVD, and Digital Download 3rd April 2017.

© 2017 Disney


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Top 5 Products for Pregnancy Preparation

* Sponsored post

There are many products that claim to make pregnancy easier. Take a look at these top five pregnancy as chosen by HARTMANN Direct. Which ones will you try?

#1 Body Pillow

The V-pillow is a great addition to the boudoir, whether you are pregnant or not. This style of pillow also helps to support your back and neck when sitting and relaxing in bed, as well as being useful when feeding and cradling your new-born.

But sleeping can be a real issue for some pregnant women, especially in late pregnancy. The body pillow is a fantastic invention for helping you get a comfortable night’s sleep, when sleeping on your side. This is great news if you normally sleep on your stomach or on your back, two things that are nigh-on impossible when you are heavily pregnant.

A good buy, and one that is useful beyond pregnancy - we used ours when Ethan was born to prop him up and it would be great for breastfeeding support too.
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