Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Review: Fuzzikins Campervan Carry Case

So we've reached the halfway point of the summer holidays, and for many of us, there's still three weeks of so to fill. ANOTHER THREE WEEKS! Don't get me wrong, having so much time with Ethan has been so nice, but it is a struggle with work and sharing annual leave with hubs, and it can be easy to run out of things to do. 

Every child will have a 'I'm so bored' day so in these instances, I bring out the creative kits and get Ethan making something to play with.

We were kindly sent a pretty cool new colouring carry case from Fuzzikins. Cool, because I love campervans myself, and fun for Ethan as he loves playing with figures and colouring, as two of his most favourite things.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

A little red maternity dress

Take one simple t-shirt style bodycon dress, one pregnant lady and a dramatic manor house backdrop and voila! You’ve got yourself a photo shoot!

It’s crazy just how good this £10 dress from Boohoo’s Maternity collection looks. I wore it when we were just having a typical family day out on Saturday, which included a trip to Monkey Forest than Shugborough Hall and when at the latter, there were just some great opportunities to take a few photos - and my red dress made me feel super glam despite it being quite a basic staple.


Monday, 13 August 2018

Top tips for family holidays on a budget

Ethan is five years old now and aside from a trip to Disneyland Paris in January (which was fantastic, but far from a budget holiday!), we have never been abroad together on a family holiday. Paris is as far as Ethan has gone so far, but at least it involved an aeroplane!

This is our first summer with Ethan being at school age, so we are getting used to the holiday time juggle between hubs and I, taking it in turns for annual leave, and with me being 23 weeks pregnant now and looking ahead to maternity leave, we knew we wouldn't be able to squeeze in a holiday this year. I guess the heatwave has meant we haven't missed out all that much...

* Sponsored post


Friday, 10 August 2018

Written in the stars - beautiful star map prints

I am a bit of a romantic at heart, unashamedly so, and I also enjoy personalising my home with meaningful touches that reflect our personalities, our interest in some way document our life together. From when hubs and I met almost 15 years ago, to our wedding day nearly eight years ago, to Ethan's arrival, this new bubs on the way and all the adventures and jobs and life changes along the way.

We have photos, mementos and all sorts around our home from holidays and events, including our wedding, Ethan's milestones and presents from friends.

And now we have something really special.

Something I have seen before and that I think is just really beautiful, in its look and in its meaning.

We have a stunning star map, designed especially for us by Jennifer at Modern Map Art, depicting the night sky and constellations on the day, time and location of our wedding day, on 18th September 2010.


The importance of teaching kids car safety

It’s important to teach kids how to behave in any vehicle - keeping the family safe in the car should be everyone’s responsibility, don't you agree? We are always reminding Ethan to sit up properly and to make sure that his seatbelt is in the right position, and think it's important that children are aware of the dangers of unclicking their seatbelt and moving around the vehicle when it’s in motion. Even altering the belt’s position could have a devastating effect in the unfortunate event of an accident, and it really doesn't bear thinking about. 

Here's some useful advice and links on when and how to approach the subject, which I thought would be really useful to share...


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Bing Live! at Birmingham Town Hall

Have you heard of a little bunny called Bing? If you have a young child, chances are you have come across Bing, the excitable bunny who has a parent figure / toy called Flop (does anyone know what Flop is meant to be?!) and who learns about sharing and good manners and how to be a nice friend.

Bing was an early find for Ethan and I am sure he would still jump up and down if he saw that familiar face.

Unfortunately we have plans when this is on, but I wanted to share news of a new Bing event coming to Birmingham Town Hall later this month, as I am a blogger ambassador and know that other parents in the area might be interested in going to this.

So here's all you need to know about Bing Live!...


Go the whole hog on your wedding day

It'll be our 8th wedding anniversary in September and when I look back, we had such a great day as we did things our way, choosing what we wanted at the time to make it a personal, special and memorable day for us and our friends and family. Just the way it should be! You want to splash out on some super heels? Do it! Hubs-to-be wants a full hog roast and all the trimmings? Go for it!

* Collaborative post

Your wedding day is something that should be all about you, and whilst there's always going to be some compromises along the way - be it accommodating a distant relative or doing a few things yourself to save some pennies - it's important to remember that it is your special day, so if you and your partner want to make something happen, then there shouldn't be anything holding you back.


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Peep peep! Our Thomas adventure on the Watercress Line

We had a great time visiting my parents this weekend, and a highlight was visiting the Watercress Line because, whilst Ethan knew we were going on a steam train with Nanna, he didn't know that Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends were going to be there too!

The special event is on now so you can enjoy a day out with Thomas until end of play this Sunday, and there isn't a better time to go if you have little ones because not only can you see Thomas, but there are other friends to spot, plus passports and colouring in certificates, fairground rides and miniature trains, and lots besides so you can make it a packed day out.


Sleep soundly with Leesa - and save £100 on a new mattress with TBM!

Sleep. Something that everyone needs. Some more than others (that's me!). Something that can elude you when you're pregnant, or have a newborn, or there's a heatwave. Of course, a good night's sleep comes down to having a good routine and a welcoming bedroom environment to promote those zzz's, and nothing is more important than your bed.

Your mattress, to be precise.

We invested in a new mattress around six years ago, which was long overdue, but of late, we've been a bit uncomfortable and with baby bump growing each day, my sleep routine has been affected, so the sound of a new mattress was music to my ears.

Enter Leesa - a magic mattress (my words) that comes tightly packed in such a relatively small box and then when you open it up (magic words optional), it slowly unfolds and expands and within an hour, you're ready to test it out.


Monday, 6 August 2018

Garden ideas and home security

It's summer, we are still in a heatwave and so of course, our attention turns to how we can make the most of the warmer, brighter months. Getting the chance to take some time off work and enjoy being at home, and the sunny climes we're experiencing, means that I have started to spot odd jobs here or there or think about ideas as to how we can improve our home and our very own great outdoors - our garden.

* Collaborative post

Our garden, front and back, is neglected most of the time and we only really use the patio space to care for our two rabbits, so with the weather being that much kinder, it's really nice to use our outdoor space a little more.


A big baby bargain to be had at Aldi's Baby and Toddler Event

I'm 22 weeks pregnant now and starting to pick up a few things here and there as baby bump gets bigger and we start to think ahead to what it actually be like to have another baby again. We're going to be parents... again!!!

I'm really proud to have worked with Aldi for the past three years - can you believe, that before that, I had never been in an Aldi store? - and I particularly love their special buy events, so I am pleased to share with you information about their upcoming Baby and Toddler special offers as they are always really good and not to be missed if you are expecting or have little ones.

You can see what we picked up last time around, and I've been sent a few preview items for our little Peanut which I am so pleased with, so couldn't wait to share with you...


Saturday, 4 August 2018

FREE pair of tickets to the London Homebuilding & Renovating Show this September for EVERY reader - worth £36!

I am a big homebody type person, as much as I do love to explore and enjoy days out, and our home really is our castle, however humble. I have loved interior design for as long as I can remember and seek inspiration from magazines, Instagram and also home related shows - I just can't get enough of decor! That's why I am really excited to share this special offer with you... as all To Become Mum Readers can claim a pair of free tickets to attend the London Homebuilding & Renovating Show (21 - 23 September 2018, ExCeL, London) - worth £36!

Across three packed days, visitors to the show can speak to over 500 exhibitors and access free advice sessions, seminars and masterclasses on essential topics which can tackle any problem, from implementing the latest intelligent security systems to funding a remodelling project.

And thanks to the team and this little blog of mine, YOU could be going with your DIY mad hubby or interiors buff buddy for free.

I've included all you need to know about the show below, and you can also follow this link for more details. Just keep scrolling for my exclusive free ticket link to claim. And be sure to tell your friends too, there's really no catch - just free tickets to the show for everyone who stops by this post!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Using credit cards abroad – the things you need to know

If you’ve ever struggled with your credit score or history, the chances are you’re probably wary about securing new lines of finance. This is often a false economy, however, as opening lines of positive credit can actually boost your score and standing in the eyes of individual lenders.

If you take out a new credit card, however, you’ll need to use this responsibly if you are to have the desired effect. This can be challenging at the best of times, but the pitfalls become even more significant when you look to use your card abroad and encounter the complexities associated with this. 

In this article, we’ll offer some advice on how to use your credit card abroad while minimising the costs with potential transaction fees.

* Collaborative post 


Best activities to do outdoors with the kids

If you want to get the whole family outdoors this summer, there’s a lot of fun outdoor activities you can try. However, it can be difficult coming up with ideas when you’ve already exhausted your brain during the first week of the school holidays!

* Collaborative post

To help, here you’ll discover some of the best activities to do outdoors with the kids.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

A day out with Thomas on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line

This weekend, we are taking a trip down south to the leafy place I call my hometown, in Hampshire, to visit my parents, celebrate recent birthdays and enjoy a day out with none other than Thomas the Tank Engine on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line.

I was probably not much older than Ethan is now the last time I went on the Watercress Line steam trains so I am really excited to be taking him to enjoy this experience - and he has NO IDEA that Thomas will be making a special appearance.

We're really looking forward to a fun day on the railway (be sure to follow me on Instagram and see my Stories on Sunday whilst we are out and about), and I will pop up a review and photos following our visit, but as the event starts this Saturday, 4th August, until 12th August, I wanted to share the details with you now in case it's something you'd like to book onto for this weekend too...


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Starting to buy for baby - onesies with personality from Lavender Sun

It's really hard to resist buying baby things once you find out you are pregnant but I have been quite good this time around, with it being my second pregnancy and us keeping quite a few things from when we had Ethan.

My one real weakness is baby clothes and I have finally let myself buy a few things for little Peanut as I'm one of those people that I see something, I have to get it there and then rather than miss out.

I was introduced to Lavender Sun, and online shop that specialises in onesies and other baby outfits, all of which are full of personality. From cheeky slogans to pop-culture references and fun prints, there's a lot to choose from and, as we don't know what baby is, it's great to find plenty of gender-neutral items too.

When picking baby clothes, I like to stock up on the basics - plenty of plain onesies and sleepsuits, so you can layer these up with other more colourful or bold outfits - but I do love a good design too. I try to search further afield and look for anything that's a little bit different. Of course, the feel of the fabric is really important too, which is hard to judge when buying online, and you definitely need items that will wash and wash because even though babies grow quickly, they do go through their clothes on a cycle fast.

I didn't have trouble finding onesies or rompers from Lavendar Sun; as I say, there's a great selection of different designs, but I managed to pick just a couple for now.


Have breakfast with the Cadbury characters at Cadbury World - EXTENDED!

* Update: since first posting this last week, Cadbury World has announced that due to popular demand, their character breakfasts will be running again from 2nd August to 2nd September 2018, so you have even more time to plan a visit before the end of the summer holidays!

When we told Ethan that we would be going to a real life chocolate factory (a bit like the one from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl), he understandably was very excited... and little did he know that he would be meeting the Cadbury characters over breakfast too, during our visit to Cadbury World on Sunday.

The excitement as we waited to go in was almost like we were back at Disneyland Paris, as Ethan eagerly tried to spot Cadbury Parrot, Caramel Bunny, Bertie Bassett or Fredo the Frog (his personal fave).

The character breakfasts start at 9.30am and as you are shown into the conservatory style room, the fun starts straight away with the Parrot ready to meet you and your table ready with your name and colouring sheets for everyone in your group.


Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Kids eat for £1: Cookhouse and Pub Oldbury review

It's the second week of the summer holidays for us and we're having a good balance of activities out and quality time spent at home. Last Thursday, we went out to sample the atmosphere and impressive menu from the Cookhouse and Pub in Oldbury, as a family treat and an opportunity to try out the new 'kids eat for £1' deal, which runs Mon-Thurs,  3.30-5.30pm (up to two children per adult, £1 children's two course meal when adult main meal purchased).

Here's what the new Cookhouse and Pub aims to offer - "the relaxed vibe and affordability of a pub, together with quality food and service of a casual restaurant, this new venue is quickly establishing itself as a go-to destination for all-day dining and drinking" - and from the moment we walked through the doors, we instantly felt at home.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Simple ideas for the summer holidays

With this being my first of four weeks with Ethan over the summer holidays, spread out with a couple of weeks at work in the middle, I have been planning out what we would like to do and how everything will come together so we fit days out and time at home in without feeling too frantic - or too bored. It's also not pay day until Friday, so finding some cost-effective, or free, things to keep Ethan entertained is a bonus.


Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Turning our dining room into a multi-functional space

Usually, the Easter weekend is when we do some kind of DIY project at home, but we're a little late this year (hubs thought he'd got away with it!) and a mini makeover I want to complete in the next couple of weeks involves our dining room and turning it into a space we can get more use out of.

I've always liked our dining room; it has a fireplace (not usable) and two alcoves plus a big window looking onto the back garden. Over the years, we have made changes to it. At first, we had a huge wooden dining table, that could comfortably seat six, in the middle, but we didn't use it enough. We pushed it to one side for a while, but then it just became a dumping spot.

In the past five years, we've added a dresser and a bureau to the alcoves and a large desk from Ikea to the other side of the room, with a folding dining table by the window for occasional use. We have a lot in our dining room and it is a really nice spot, but day to day, we do just tend to walk through it to get to the kitchen, and leave bags and things in there, rather than actually sitting in and using the room.

So, my key ideas are as follows:

  • Paint the bureau, as it's currently a red shade (as it was when I originally found it on eBay), which an off-white chalk paint
  • Use the bureau nook as a desk space for myself, with a white wire mesh vision board above and space for my laptop when the bureau lid is down
  • Update the alcoves by painting them a duck egg blue, to brighten the room up (and eventually repaint the rest of the room white)
  • Get rid of our current dining table and put a new armchair there, to create somewhere to sit and relax - I like tub chairs and wingbacks in particular
  • Add a rug to make the room feel more cosy
  • Decorate the inside of the fireplace with some accessories (plants, vases etc.) to make more of a feature of it
  • Buy a folding table in white that is more compact in design, so when the sides are down, it's only narrow and can be placed adjacent to the chair, alongside the wall, as a kind of coffee table when not in use
With baby on the way, I think making more use of the dining room will help us not to feel on top of each other. It'll be like a second living room of sorts, and it'll be good to enjoy it properly.

Here's the moodboard I have put together:


Monday, 23 July 2018

Choosing a nursery - important questions to ask and top tips

We knew from when we were first trying to have a baby through to when I was arranging my maternity leave that we would be using a nursery. We couldn't afford for me to be a stay-at-home mum so we knew we'd need childcare and in the beginning, we decided that full time, four days a week would be best for us.

* Content collaboration

Ethan started nursery when he was eight months old, at the start of January 2014. I'll admit that whilst it was something we knew would happen, I still shed several tears on that first morning drop off; it felt too early, he felt too tiny, and I felt so guilty. Ethan didn't seem worried at all, and I soon realised I had no need to be either, as he settled in quick and it didn't take much time to see the difference the nursery was making to his development - and to helping our family.

Every parent makes decisions based on their circumstances and what will work best for them and their child/children. I have no doubt whatsoever that Ethan's time at nursery helped him to develop into a sociable, adjusted and inquisitive young boy, like he is today. Of course, I'd like to think we have something to do with that too, but it was a great start and with no other children in our family or circle of friends at the time, he needed to be in that environment. And he grew and blossomed and to this day, 10 months after he left, he still talks fondly about his memories of nursery.


Freezy-peasy! Delicious meals from your freezer, by Gourmade

Whether it's been a busy working week, a day out enjoying the summer hols or you're preparing for the arrival of a new baby (all three apply to us!), I honestly think that EVERYONE could benefit from having a well-stocked freezer to help make family meal times easier. And I've been trying out a fab new freezer meal range, from Gourmade, to see what they have to offer and how it can help me out when it comes to dinner.

Gourmade is a new premium frozen food brand that has quite an impressive selection of main meals, sides and desserts, and trust me, there's something to suit everyone - and a few twists to enjoy too. There's some firm family favourites, including Mac n’ Cheese, Lamb Tagine, Butternut Squash Lasagne and some amazing desserts for those with a sweet tooth (*hands up*).

Saturday, 21 July 2018

5 reasons why a visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is a magical visit for Harry Potter fans

It is no secret whatsoever that I am a Harry Potter fan. Whether you've followed me for a while or just for five minutes, Harry Potter creeps in here and there; from my Deathly Hallows tattoo, to hints at books, prints and other collectables in the background of many Instagram posts, I do love the magical world. So when I tell you that visiting The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is THE ultimate experience for anyone who has read the books or seen the films, you'll know I'm not lying - and to be honest, it's a pretty cool place even if you aren't a complete Potterhead!

We were invited along to a special event to celebrate the Goblet of Fire special season event (on until Sunday 23rd September, so still plenty of time to catch this feature) and I can honestly say it was up there as one of the best opportunities my blog has ever offered me. It couldn't have been more perfect for me and we had such a fantastic time.

I've been to the studio tour twice before; once around six years ago, and again two years ago, with Ethan in tow. Since then, a lot more has been added and it really is a unique day out that has a lot to offer.

Here's my five top reasons why you should visit this summer:


Friday, 20 July 2018

Advice for the pregnant bride: dress alterations, tips and tricks!

Expecting and engaged? Congratulations!

So, you’re engaged! You’ve purchased the dress of your dreams, booked an amazing venue and have everything all planned out, success! But then you find out you’re pregnant. With your special day getting closer and closer, dress stress can kick in.

But don’t panic!
* Content collaboration

While this time should be filled with surprises and anticipation, this new and exciting chapter of your life may also pose a bit of a challenge. After all, you’re not going to wait until a few weeks before to know if the dress will work for you. So, what do you do?

There’s no denying that planning a wedding while you’re pregnant is more challenging than it might otherwise be, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Having worked with dozens of pregnant brides, leading Manchester wedding gown alterations company, Alterations Boutique, fills us in on their top tips to ensure a perfect fit, no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re at!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A bright start for little ones in Birmingham

When I was pregnant with Ethan, we started our search for a local nursery early as we wanted to really find out what was on offer in Birmingham and make an informed choice in plenty of time. It really is a big decision to make (I've written before about how the cost of childcare is a big debate but there's so much value on the care nurseries provide for our children) and Ethan absolutely loved his time at nursery

* Collaborative post

At the time, I was working in Edgbaston and considered whether having a nursery close to work would be more convenient. And boy, how nice it would have been to have had BrightMinds Daycare there when we were looking for the best place for him!

It's a recently launched state-of-the-art, innovative and engaging nursery facility for children up to 4 years of age living in and around Birmingham. The magnificent Edgbaston setting includes a beautiful garden complete with a chicken farm, a technology and sensory room, alongside a modern baby yoga studio and performance room with a Yamaha baby grand piano.

Yes, baby yoga! How amazing does that sound?

I am going along to see the nursery for myself, but in the meantime, here's some details you might like to know if you are searching for a great nursery in the Birmingham area:


Wednesday, 18 July 2018

To know or not to know - finding out the gender of your baby

When we had Ethan, both Ste and I knew we didn't want to find out the sex of the baby. We just knew we wanted the excitement and with it being our first child, we wanted to experience the whole journey and keep the mystery right up to the point of meeting them.

At the time, I wrote this brief post on the topic, six months before Ethan's arrival:

The second question everyone has asked us after announcing our news, following 'when's your due date?' has been 'are you going to find out what it is?'.

It's wonderful to see how excited and eager all our friends and family are about our little bundle but for us, the excitement really is in the not knowing.

So much of our lives are planned to the letter and information is at our fingertips, literally, whenever we need it. One thing that can remain a mystery is whether you are having a son or daughter.

From a practical standpoint, I totally understand why people want to find out as soon as they can - after all, sleepsuits aside, finding gender-neutral outfits for baby is quite a task.

But for us, we want to keep that piece of information a surprise, even to ourselves.

After all, it won't change anything one way or the other. As long as bubs is healthy, it doesn't matter one bit if it's a boy or girl. From the trend of women I have known over the years who have had babies, it's 99.9% certain to be a boy but it's one of life's great mysteries and we'll wait until May to find out what Mother Nature has in store.


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The best UK treats to send a friend living abroad

Long-distance friendship is hard for the both of you. You both need to get used your everyday routines without the other being there. You want your friend to know you’re still there for them, and they might be homesick. A care package could do them the world of good. What should you put in it?

* Collaborative post


Monday, 16 July 2018

Gift ideas for teachers at end of term

Alas, it's the last week of school; the PE kits finally come home, sports days and parents' evenings are being held up and down the country and we have the possibility (and realisation) of six whole weeks of summer holidays stretched out before us. There's a lot to reflect on, to celebrate, to remember, and to be thankful for.

Of course, as well as being super proud of our children - whether they are working hard at their writing, turning into a mathematician, showing a creative streak or heading for a more sporty path - and rewarding them, it's also really important to thank those people who have helped our little ones learn over the past school year.

On the first day of Reception, Ethan declared his love for his teacher and all year long, he has come home with stories about how nice his teacher and TA are and how much fun he has had at school.

So, I've been thinking about gift ideas to say thank you - beyond giving chocolates or flowers as I am sure they get plenty...

Last year, I gave Ethan's nursery workers a gift bag with an artificial sunflower and sunflower seeds, with the message 'thank you for helping me grow', and a few other thins and this year, I have had some help from Find Me A Gift in coming up with some teacher present inspiration.

We've ordered this personalised mug and this bath bomb set (which currently has 40% at £7.79) in particular, but they have lots of different ideas to suit your preference and budget too.


Friday, 13 July 2018

See the PJ Mask heroes soar into Merry Hill for the start of the summer holidays

Just one week to go until the summer holidays start for us, who else is excited? Or worried about how to keep the kids entertained for six whole weeks?! Hubs and I are alternating annual leave to cover off the whole holiday and I want to enjoy lots of things with my little man, as well as having some time to relax too (we do have a bundle to prepare for after all!).

I've shared a few ideas for things to do over the summer holidays in the Midlands already - Cadbury Character Breakfasts, Octonauts: Shark Mission at Sea Life Centre, Drayton Manor, Conkers, Park LivesSymphony Hall Inside Out - and now have some news from Merry Hill to share in case this is something else you want to add to your must-do list...


Thursday, 12 July 2018

18 week pregnancy update, baby number two

I turned 18 weeks pregnant on Saturday and I'm getting closer to that all important 20 week scan, which we are really looking forward to. We didn't find out what we were having when we had Ethan and I think we will be the same this time around, but the next scan is just so important to make sure that everything is progressing well.

Here's an update on how my pregnancy is going so far...


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Second trimester treats for mama

I am into my second trimester and bump is cooking along nicely, hopefully, without there being too much to complain about. Although of course, we've all had this heatwave and it is a real treat to have so much nice weather for such a length of time, everyone asks pregnant women like me how we are coping.

I'm doing ok - it's hard to tell if I feel any hotter than I normally would in this weather, with bump in tow - and I'm using a few things to help keep me cool and refreshed as I go through the second trimester during the summer months.


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Free fun for everyone at the Symphony Hall Inside Out festival

I'm proud to have worked with Town Hall Symphony Hall as an ambassador for a couple of years now, with the next event to be reviewed being the new Kevin and Karen Dance Live Tour 2018 on Saturday (tickets still available, read my review of last year's show), and I wanted to share with you a new free event that they have just announced....


Monday, 9 July 2018

Drayton Manor's Summer Sensation season starts soon

Like most Midland families I'm sure, we have visited Drayton Manor several times since having Ethan, with Thomas Land obviously being a real highlight for Ethan, and there's so much going on over summer, I wanted to share it with you in case you are planning ahead for the summer holidays.

I'd like to take Ethan again to this theme park as it has been a while since we've been (read my top tips for visiting Drayton Manor), but we always have a good time. Being pregnant means that the rides are out for me, but there's plenty of other things to enjoy on a day out here, plus in mid-Augist, there's due to be a food and craft fair which sounds really interesting and right up my street. 

Here's what the team has told me about their summer holiday activities:


Saturday, 7 July 2018

Shark Mission at Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Another 'must-do' on our summer list is the new Octonauts: Shark Mission at National Sea Life Centre Birmingham because a) Ethan loves the Octonauts (hubs and I do too), b) he is also a big fan of sharks, and c) we always enjoy visiting the centre, so the summer holidays are a great excuse to go along again soon.

From what we've heard, the new event will be absolutely jaw-some (sorry!), so here's what you need to know if you would like to add this to your list of summer holiday days out ideas: 


Friday, 6 July 2018

Ideas for planning a swashbuckling pirate party

For Ethan's fifth birthday, we went for a pirate themed party as he is a big fan of Jack Sparrow (despite never seeing the Pirates of the Caribean films before) and thought that it would be a fun choice for his friends to get dressed up and play games together.

We booked our local David Lloyd leisure centre as they offer some great birthday party packages, and take care of all the details and entertainment which makes it much less stressful for you as parents, leaving you to enjoy the smiles and fun of the day rather than struggling to blow up balloons.

We decided that Ethan shouldn't be the only one to get dressed up, so both hubs and I picked up pirate costumes to really help set the scene.


Start the summer holidays with ParkLives' free, fun family events

Two weeks until the summer holidays start for us - can I get a whoop whoop?! As you may have seen from my Cadbury World and Conkers blog posts earlier this week, I am looking ahead and planning out what we would like to do as a family over the summer break whilst Ethan is off, and I have another suggestion for you today.

Starting next Friday, there's a huge range of fun, free activities taking place across Birmingham as Coca-Cola Great Britain's ParkLives programme returns, with Love Parks Week kicking everything off.

There's a whole host of things to get involved with, so well worth checking out what's on near you.

Here's the info:


Thursday, 5 July 2018

The first trimester and being an ambassador for Natural Birthing Company

With a new bundle on the way later this year, I am sharing my journey all over again on here and I am also really excited to be an ambassador for Natural Birthing Company. Even though I have been through pregnancy, birth and baby before, every time is different, there’s always something new out there to try or learn and I feel new to it all again somehow. 

I am all about being prepared, so working with this lovely brand is a great way for me to do things a bit differently.

Here's a quick preview of my first guest post for them...


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Character breakfasts and fun in the sun at Cadbury World this summer holiday

It's less that three weeks until Ethan breaks up for the summer holidays and I am really excited. This is the first time we have had a summer holiday break, being Ethan's reception year, and hubs and I have shared the holiday period between us, taking annual leave in turns, so that we can make the most of it.

There's been a post doing the rounds recently on Facebook etc. about how we only get 18 summers with our children, so all the more reason to make this one count.

We are looking ahead and planning a few things in and very much looking forward to the first thing on our list - a trip to Cadbury World.

I have only been once, on a school trip when I was about nine years old, so Ethan hasn't visited before and doesn't even know there is a world of chocolate to explore! He will flip!

We will be meeting and greeting some of Cadbury’s most iconic characters – shaking hands with Freddo, high fiving Mr Cadbury’s Parrot and posing for a selfie with the Caramel Bunny – at one of Cadbury World's character breakfasts, which start from 21st July. Ahead of our visit, I wanted to share the information about Cadbury World's summer holiday plans in case, like me, you are starting to plan ahead, and a full review of our visit to a character breakfast will follow in a couple of weeks once we have been ourselves...


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Our fun family day out at Conkers

I love getting out and about and discovering new places to explore, and a couple of weekends' ago, we visited Conkers, in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, for the first time.

I'd seen signs for it when travelling north, but never really knew what was there, so when we were invited to check it out for ourselves, I thought it was about time and that it would make a great place to go for a fun family day out.

Conkers can be found at the heart of the National Forest and offers 120 acres filled with fun things to do, inside and out, so no matter what the weather, you can still keep the kids busy. It honestly has so much to look at and explore, you can easily spend the whole day here.


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Ways to keep your kid’s brain sharp all summer

As far as your kids are concerned, being out of school for the summer months is all about doing things that matter to them. There’s summer camp, travel, time spent playing with friends and other kid-friendly activities. Summer break is the time that they’ve been looking forward to for months and usually they are grateful to get out of the classroom at last.

* Collaborative post

For parents, however, it’s those many weeks of being away from class that can cause them to lose a little bit of what they learned during the school year. When classes resume in the fall, both parents and kids scramble to make up for knowledge and comprehension skills that are lost over the two to three months of summer vacation. Here are some ideas on how to keep your kids’ brain active and help to keep them ready to return to school in the autumn.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

A day in the life... living with psoriasis - final Philips BlueControl trial update #ad

I have been trying out the innovative Philips BlueControl device now for several months and for anyone else suffering with psoriasis, I hope my updates have proved to be informative and even inspirational, dare I say it, as I have found this at-home treatment to be a really neat addition to my routine and it has made a difference.

My first Philips BlueControl blog post and vlog covered my introduction to the device and my initial thoughts; the second post and vlog featured a more detailed description of how I had been using and getting on with the treatment and now, I am sharing the final piece of my trial journey. 

* Sponsored trial


Monday, 25 June 2018

Sunglasses and sparkle - a quick birthday wishlist

Next Monday is my birthday (I'll be turning 34... yikes!) and I've been having a mooch around to see what I might like the birthday fairy to bring me this year.

It's always the same; weeks before my birthday, I have a wishlist as long as my arm and can't help but walk into a shop and spot things that would be fun, helpful or nice to have. But then my actual birthday looms and I am fresh out of ideas.

We're going to have a fun family weekend and then on the day itself, a date day whilst Ethan is at school, catching up on some cinema time and going for something nice to eat.

In terms of gifts, there's not really anything I need right now that I can think of (except maternity PJ's!), but I quite fancy the following...


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#FiveFaves from June

It's been a little while since I last did one of these round ups but I do enjoy them, so here's just three things that I have been reading, using or trying out this month which I really rate, all for different reasons...

1. Happy, by Fearne Cotton

I like a book that I can dip in and out of and this one is full of positivity, tips and just nice words. I am a fan of Fearne any way and it's nice to take a little time out to read this and reflect on life and what truly makes me happy.

There's a lot to be said for 'letting go of perfect'...


Monday, 18 June 2018

Birmingham Indian Film Festival to showcase a selection of films that you can enjoy with all the family

A friend of mine works tirelessly to host and promote the Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF) and there is a great line up of family friendly films worth catching, so I wanted to share the festival's latest updates with you in case you are looking for something different, educational and cultural to enjoy from just a few days' time...

Birmingham Indian Film Festival is a cinematic treasure trove of carefully curated premieres of South Asian independent films, offering rare glimpses into some of the billion plus lives in the sub-continent.  

The festival is presented by the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and returns for its fourth consecutive year at Cineworld Broad Street, mac Birmingham and The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen from Friday 22 June to Sunday 1 July.

Audiences can expect a spectacular 10 days of Midland premieres of feature films, documentaries and shorts exploring a compelling slate of controversial, entertaining and thought-provoking themes with global resonances, plus lively Q&As and panel debates.

New to this year is the annual LIFF Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition Entries showcasing the work of emerging film makers.


Sun safety made simple for kids

Much like his Daddy, Ethan isn't a fan of applying sun cream most days. Sometimes, he lets me apply it, but more often than not, he really isn't keen and of course when he goes to school, he's left to his own devices and unfortunately, that's meant that on quite a few days, he hasn't worn sunscreen.

He is meant to apply sun cream before he plays outside, and he has a sun hat too, but I have heard from him that he doesn't do this all the time and I have picked him up from school, playing on the fields or on the playground, and there is no hat in sight - and a pink flush across his cheeks.

He's got sensitive skin, just like me, and being so fair, with many freckles coming through now on his nose and the tops of his cheeks, we really are cautious and concerned about him in the sun.

There have been days where he has come back and it's clear that his ears have picked up the sun, or there's been a red streak on the tops of his cheeks, which makes me really upset. I know it's not the teacher's job to apply it, but they should be stricter about overseeing if the children are doing it before they are let outside.

I've been applying some cream to his face and ears in the morning, but you know how energetic they are at five years old, and the state he comes in at the end of the day, I just know that one application isn't enough.

The team at Calypso Sun Care kindly sent us what could be the solution to Ethan's sun cream woes. 


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Top tips for achieving the bathroom of your dreams

If there's one room in the house that needs some TLC, it 's our bathroom. It's a small space but it could have potential, but for now, it is outdated, worn and not really the welcoming retreat I would love it to be. 

* Collaborative post

Bathrooms can be a big project though, and whereas my DIY 'skills' are limited to hanging pictures, I know that to makeover this space would need some serious thought and some expert support too.

There's just so much to consider, and lots of different ways to turn a bathroom into the practical room all the family need to use but also the sanctuary where you can soak away the stresses and strains of the day. 


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Keep your holiday plans on track this summer with these simple car maintenance tips

The sun is shining (at last) and the summer holidays aren't that far away so no doubt you're looking ahead to the warmer months and making some plans as a family. We're going to be having a staycation in the UK and will be looking to enjoy lots of adventures, making the most of our National Trust membership, across the country - so we can expect to clock up some miles in the car.

Our current must-do activities for this summer include: a trip to Legoland in Windsor, which is itself well worth a look around, maybe a trip to another theme park like Thomas Land at Drayton Manor or Cbeebiesland at Alton Towers, another visit to Hampshire to see some of the spots local to my home town, a stay with friends in Durham... and I am sure plenty in between.

* Collaborative post 

Before we set off on our UK travels, I know that my car needs some TLC first. I'm not very good when it comes to cars - I barely know anything at all - but as the only issues I've every really had (touch wood) relate to tyres, I know how important it is to take good care of them and the rest of the vehicle.


Monday, 11 June 2018

Pregnancy glow? More like pregnancy acne!

For a while now, I have been enjoyed relatively clear skin. Gone were the hormonal breakouts I used to suffer when it was that time of the month, with my chin being the worst hit are with at least one large, sore red bump appearing and sticking round for a couple of weeks before reducing and disappearing. 

* Sponsored collaboration

I'm not sure what caused my skin to clear up but the hormonal acne I used to get has really died down this past year. I still get blemishes and red patches, but these are mostly under the skin and I can't really complain too much.

Well, now I am 14 weeks pregnant, I can report that I don't have the pregnancy glow (yet, if it even exists!), but I do seem to have developed a spot of pregnancy acne. So far, it's not so bad, but those red bumps I haven't missed have started to pop up, over night, and I am really not keen - especially as it's warm now and any make up I put on seems to melt away as the day progresses.

Apparently, pregnancy acne is really common, with around 50% of expectant women expecting to develop it at some stage. It can vary in severity from mild to severe and from person to person, with the first and second trimester being the most tricky times, due to the changes in hormones. This can trigger excess sebum production, which is why your skin can feel more oily. 

This is what I think people mistake for the 'pregnancy glow'...!

With oilier skin, pores can become more easily clogged and therefore you're more prone to pimples and spots.

And did you know that an old wives' tale says that the spottier you are in pregnancy, the more likely you are to have a girl?!

Of course, those kinds of things are only ever right 50% of the time...


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Personalised gift ideas for Father's Day from Truprint #SwapSocksForSelfies

It doesn't seem like that long ago, but it will be Father's Day again soon (Sunday 17th June, if you need to add it to your calendar!) and time to think about marking the day with a thoughtful gift. 

I very much agree that it shouldn't be an overly commercial occasion, and spending time with your father figure or celebrating your other half with your children is of course the most important. 

I really do think that it's the thought that counts - which is why I love personalised presents and for this Father's Day, I have ordered some items through Truprint for my Dad and also for hubs, from Ethan. I was given £20 to spend and my total order value came to £45 with free delivery. This includes the items I'm sharing below as well as 79 photo print which I think is great as I was able to take advantage of some current special offers, including a number of free photo prints being a new customer and free delivery on orders over a certain value.

I wanted to pick some practical items that I know my Dad and Ste will use, whilst using recent photos from special moment to create gifts that would mean something. Just like Truprint and their #SwapSocksForSelfies campaign this Father's Day, I like doing something different and we all know that socks really aren't the most inspiring gift - BUT dads can be SO hard to buy for!

Within just a couple of days, all the items arrived (they came separately, as they were ready, which I think is a really good idea - so worth checking out as there's still plenty of time to order) and I am really pleased with the results.

All these items were ordered via my phone, using photos taken straight from my camera library - easy!

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