Thursday, 27 June 2019

Planning ahead - our summer holiday wishlist

This summer, I will be on maternity leave still for the first two thirds, so to make the most of my time, I am already starting to plan ahead and think about what we would like to do, come rain or shine.

The school holidays can feel like such a long time, can't they? If the weather is good, you want to get out and about to make the most of it, but the costs can add up and even a simple trip to the cinema can cost you an arm and a leg.

During the Easter holidays last year, we packed a lot in and I researched lots of new places and cheaper days out so we could have fun but also not spend a fortune in the process. And last summer, I put together a list of simple ideas for things to do over the holidays - one being to keep a scrapbook of what we got up to, including tickets and leaflets from those places we did go to.

I'd like to revisit some of the places we've been before on days out, but with two boys to look after for four weeks, I would like to try new things - and the more cost effective, the better, especially being on SMP for a little while longer!


#TBT - The Method in my Mumness

A throwback post this Thursday to something I wrote three years ago, about trusting your instincts and realising that in all the madness of parenting, there is a method in the way you choose to be a mum...

This parenting malarkey is a funny old business. When you think you've worked your little one out, they go and throw a spanner in the works.

Refusing to clean their teeth in the morning, and kicking off big style, then running to the bathroom in the evening to brush their teeth with glee, asking for more toothpaste. Eating the meal you've lovingly made for them, sprinkled with cheese and made just the way they like it, to exclaims of 'this is delicious Mummy!' only to be told the next time you serve it, 'I don't like this. It tastes horrible'.

It's a never ending see-saw of getting things right and seemingly getting things wrong, and keeping the balance is a hard thing to do.

That's parenting all over; balancing.

This blog started as a record of my journey 'to become mum' but as time has gone on (coming up for four years now), I've realised it's a journey I will always be on.

And it's got me thinking that to be a parent, you have to be a little mad. Or succumb to the madness.

Kids can be very astute but they can also be completely crazy and unfathomable. It's amazing how much Ethan seems to know, understand and articualte at the moment but, come one of his sudden mood swings, where asking him to show us his drawing like above, and his reaction makes no sense and you can't reason with him. It's like arguing with a drunk - they don't understand logic! So, the best course I've found is to ride it out, leave him to it and then he snaps out of it almost as quickly as his bad mood started in the first place, with as much clue as I have as to why he had a meltdown.

All the time, I hear other parents talking about the judgement they feel they have had - see Charlotte's 'Mums, Sticks & Stones' post - and how we all should just accept that everyone does things differently. In their own way, in their own time.

And we should realise and accept this.

Sure, there's expert advice and studies and lots of information out there about having a child and how to deal with the different stages. And for the most part, it's useful and can be reassuring. But with so much information at our fingertips - literally, on our smartphones, in the dark of the night, googling 'why won't my baby go to sleep?!' - it can actually make things worse.

We hear too many opinions, too many conflicting 'facts' and come to the mistaken conclusion that that inner voice that sometimes says 'you don't know what you're doing' is actually right.

We all know our little ones better than any expert, other parent, relative or complete stranger and we have to trust our own instincts.

Work out what works best for ourselves and our children. It's trial and error, but we should take comfort in the fact that there is no definitive answer, no magic solution - and that it's ok to get things wrong.

Try and try again.

Find your own method in the mumness.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Six going on 16 - parenting books that are helping me understand my child better

Whilst the arrival of Sullivan hasn't caused any issues with our eldest, Ethan - he loves his baby brother to pieces and has never complained once about the divided attention - the past couple of months have been a bit more challenging. Ethan turned six years old at the start of May and the occasional mood or grumpy outburst has been a more frequent occurrence.
* Review - gifted


Monday, 24 June 2019

Saving for your child's future

With two children now, growing up fast before our eyes, it really isn't too soon to be thinking about the future. I've always been one to plan ahead and now that we have two little ones to think of and plan for, we want to be prepared for their future and help give them a good start in life.

* Collaborative post

Friday, 21 June 2019

Creating a comfortable work space - #WorkplacePosture

Despite having practiced yoga a few times since I was a teenager, and most recently throughout pregnancy, you’d think that I’d have better posture. Especially as when you have children you are always bending and lifting and carrying extra weight around - so having a strong posture is all the more important. Alas, in my case, my posture is appalling and even though I know the principles of sitting and lifting well, I’m just so bad at following them.

* Collaborative post

Anyone who works or had worked at a desk for their job will know how it can take its toll on your back and neck in particular, if you don’t set things up correctly and sit well. (As I'm sat here typing this, I am acutely aware of all the wrong things I am doing...!).


Thursday, 20 June 2019

Good fun at BBC Good Food Show Summer and BBC Gardeners' World Live at NEC, Birmingham

I love food, I love summer and I don't mind a lovely garden either... so you can imagine how much fun I had at the BBC Good Food Show Summer and BBC Gardeners' World Live shows at Birmingham's NEC last weekend.

* Gifted - press tickets

Despite the weather being less than summery, there was plenty to brighten up my day. The floral displays and garden companies out at the show were wonderful to see and walk around (the scents were amazing) and the show was vast, spreading outside and with a beautiful floral marquee to enjoy too.


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Types of loft conversions

In case you did not know, homes in the United Kingdom come with at least four main types of loft conversions. Through loft conversion, an area can be transformed into a guest bedroom, home office, playroom, or study room, among many others. The idea is to not only add additional floorspace but to also increase the value of your property.

* Advertorial feature

Before you worry about the overall loft conversion cost, you need to know first these types of loft conversions. That way, you will have a better understanding of the best design that can be applied to your home. Of course, your final decision will always be based on the number of different criteria. This includes, but not limited to, budget, shape or line of the roof, and permitted development rights. To get the best result, it is imperative that you work with a skilled architect.

These are the four main types of loft conversions. Make sure to keep them in mind!

Thursday, 13 June 2019

American adventures - 3 places I would love to visit

I have only ever been to America once. Once! It took me until I was 26 years old to cross the Atlantic and I did so with my then new husband, for our honeymoon in New York. Stephen has been plenty of times before, with his family, but we both hold out hope to adventure to America again. In fact, there's a whole lot of America we would love to adventure to.

For starters, here are the top three places in America if I were to plan a trip tomorrow:


Monday, 10 June 2019

Summer comes early: BBC Good Food Show Summer and BBC Gardeners’ World Live at NEC, Birmingham, 13th to 16th June 2019

Despite what the weather forecast seems to be suggesting for this week, a ray of summer is heading our way as two super summery shows are arriving at Birmingham's NEC and I can not wait to spend the day at them!

Here's all the information about what you can expect from BBC Good Food Show Summer and BBC Gardeners’ World Live and be sure to follow my Instagram feed and stories for updates on the opening day (Thursday) as we've been kindly given press tickets and will be posting throughout the day...

The BBC Good Food Show Summer and BBC Gardeners’ World Live return to the NEC in Birmingham from Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 June for four fabulous days, packed with the latest products and trends, inspirational tips and advice topped with a host of famous faces.


What You Need To Know About Short Term Loans

Short term loans can be a really helpful way to get cash quickly when you’re in a fix, but there are some dos and don’t's that you need to be aware of before choosing a short term loan.

If you want to find an FCA approved and regulated lender, then offers reliable payday and instalment loans.

* Sponsored post

Short Term Loans

Short term loans are (as the name might imply!) a form of loan in which you borrow money over a short period of time. This could be anything from 1 day to 3 months (or sometimes longer) depending on whether you choose a payday or instalment loan.

They can be a really helpful way to cover unforeseen costs, but as with all loans, you need to be careful to ensure you don’t end up in further financial difficulty. We have lots of tips to help you understand when you should look for an alternative to a short term loan and when you might consider one.

What You Need To Know

Instant Cash

This is one of the biggest benefits of short term loans, which include both payday and instalment loans. The vast majority of direct lenders will offer same day cash transfer, giving you the money on the same day that you apply. The advantages of this is fairly obvious; when you need money to pay for a bill, emergency repair or essential maintenance work on that day, you’ll be able to get it.

Necessity vs Luxury

It’s important to understand that short term loans are designed to support necessity rather than luxury. If an unexpected event occurs for which you don’t currently have the funds, then a short term loan can help you to cover the cost before your next payday.

This could be really helpful for things such as car repairs, emergency plumbing, an unexpected bill or similar.

However, they’re not the answer for payments that aren’t a necessity, such as a meal out, a family holiday or a new video game console. While being able to enjoy life is important, this isn’t what short term loans are for as it could land you in further financial difficulty.

For luxury or non-essential things, you could consider budgeting for a ‘fun fund’, which you can use to pay for luxury items and trips. Some people use a credit card to make bigger expenses more affordable by spreading the cost, but it’s important to do this wisely and build repayments into your monthly budget so you know you can repay any credit in full.

Simple Interest

All lenders will charge interest no matter the form of loan, from mortgages and credit cards to short term loans. Payday and instalment loans are the same, but unlike some longer term loans, they calculate the cost of the loan based on simple interest, rather than compound interest. This means that the price you pay for the loan is based on the original amount of money you borrow and won’t change month by month.


Along a similar line, all lenders will specify the APR of your loan. APR stands for annual percentage rate and gives an indication of how much you’ll be charged to borrow money for the year. With loans that are spread over long periods, the cost of repayment is divided to give an average, while short term loan payments have to be multiplied. This means that APR isn’t a good measure of the cost of a short term loan.

If you’ve looked into payday or instalment loans before, you’ll notice that the APR is extremely high in comparison to other forms of loans. This is because the money is borrowed over a very short time, but APR calculates the cost of borrowing over the course of a year. While APR has to be specified by law, it’s more useful when looking at the cost of long term loans rather than short.

For short term loans, it’s better to use the ‘total repayable’ summary rather than the APR to calculate the cost of a loan.

Credit Score

A common question is: do payday loans (or other short term loans) affect my credit score? You need a reasonable credit score in order to get a payday loan. Many direct lenders won’t lend money to people with bad scores who look like they would be an unreliable borrower, but how does a loan affect your credit score itself?

If you borrow money and repay it on time, it could improve your credit score as it shows that you are a reliable borrower. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that your credit file will show that you applied for a short term loan. This can be seen by any potential future lenders.

If you want to get a mortgage but have applied for a short term loan within a certain number of years, it might suggest to a bank or lender that you are in an unstable financial position and they might not offer you a mortgage.

However, if you applied for a short term loan years before, then lenders will understand that it no longer indicates your current financial position and so it shouldn’t impact your ability to get a mortgage.

This means that if you’re hoping to buy your own house within the next couple of years, you should avoid short term loans, but if not, then they might still be a viable option.

Weighing Up Short Term Loans

Short term loans, including both payday and instalment loans, do have advantages that can be extremely helpful when you need money quickly to cover an unforeseen event.

However, they also have some factors and disadvantages of which you need to be aware. It’s usually a good rule that if you can manage without a short term loan, then you should do so and instead use careful budgeting to manage until your next payday.

However, if you know that a short term loan will allow you to cover a necessary cost and you know that you can pay it back without a problem, then it can be a very helpful way to get by before your next payday.

If you need a short term loan and want to find a reliable lender who is authorised and regulated by the FCA, then choose They provide loans from £100 to £300 (rising to £750 for returning customers).

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Can Brick Slips Be Used Externally?

If you are searching for a quick way to enhance the overall exterior look of your home, brick slips can be the perfect option for you. Brick slips are basically thin layers of masonry used to replicate the look and feel of conventional bricks. They are available in a variety of colours and styles to suit your taste. These brick slips are great for use in traditional as well as modern settings.
* Advertorial feature

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Why we love Center Parcs - and what you need to know before you go

We're going away to Center Parcs next week for five days and I can't wait to head back into the forest. We have been to stay at all of the locations, except Elveden; first Longleat, then Whinfell twice, Sherwood twice and Woburn once before Christmas. This time, we are going to Whinfell again for Sullivan's first holiday and we have a full agenda planned (including half a day for me at the spa as a Mother's Day treat!). But of course, you can choose to do as little as you like too - that's the beauty of this kind of break.

We love how you can escape the outside world, become a part of a village and choose to do as much as you like or simply relax. The surroundings are beautiful to wake up to every morning and the accommodation and facilities are excellent.

The questions I often get asked about a break to Center Parcs is which location do we like the best, what's on offer and what are our top tips - so I thought I'd share with you some thoughts following our experiences over the past six years.



Friday, 7 June 2019

What's in your knicker drawer? #DecadesOfLingerie

I think you can probably tell a lot about a woman from what she keeps in her knicker drawer. The kind of lingerie you wear can say a lot about what time period you grew up in, your current life stage and your personal taste.
* In collaboration with Belle Lingerie

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Announcing my new role - Epaderm Ambassador 2019!

For eight years now, I haven't been comfortable in my own skin - literally. I am generally happy with my body and how I look - I've come to accept my lumps and bumps and embrace myself as I have gotten older, after all, life is too short and I have carried and birthed two beautiful babies, so my body has done a lot and I owe it so much.

It's also true what they say about confidence coming with age. I will turn 35 in a months' time and know myself far better, and what I want from life, than I ever have before and it really gives you a sense of comfort and acceptance of yourself and any perceived 'flaws'.

The discomfort I feel is to do with my skin itself.

It started with an itchy patch on my scalp. It spread and when I became pregnant with Ethan, it took up residency on other areas of my body. Multiplying and covering and taking over my skin, my attention and, sometimes, my sanity.

Living with psoriasis can be a never ending battle. A battle with yourself. Anyone with a dry skin condition, or those that have children with sensitive skin issues or complaints, will know how hard it can be to keep on top of things and the condition itself under control. There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are things that can help.

I discovered Epaderm - a frankly brilliant range of skincare solutions designed to help dry skin and sensitive types, including those with psoriasis and eczema, including babies and little ones - and haven't looked back. It's recommended by doctors and is the no.1 prescribed emollient ointment in the UK for the management of dry skin conditions. 

I use it after showering to give my skin moisture to drink in, without upsetting my patches, and we've been using the Epaderm Junior range on Sullivan too as he has started to show signs of baby eczema. It seems my two boys have inherited my sensitive skin!

Late last year, I learned that Epaderm were looking for a blogger ambassador for 2019 and inspired, I wrote down my thoughts on living in my psoriasis affected skin in a poem - 'ode to my psoriasis'.

Well, I only went and won the competition!

I was so stunned and over the moon to find out I had been chosen and I am so proud to now be able to announce that I am the official EPADERM AMBASSADOR 2019!!


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

A mammoth day out at intu MerryHill

When you've got a six year old with a short attention span, a five month old with a routine and a husband who isn't as keen on shopping in ALL the shops as you, a trip out can be tricky - but as a family, we always enjoy a trip to intu Merry Hill.

* Advertorial feature

It has EVERYTHING under one roof. All the mainstream shops you can think of and more besides.

Car parking is free.

The baby change facilities are spacious and accommodating.

There's a good choice of eateries, from quick bites to proper meals, to suit everyone's tastes.

And they always have something on to entertain you whilst you shop.

We went along last weekend to celebrate the first birthday of Marmalade the Mammoth, intu Merry Hill's mascot, who first stomped his way around the centre a year ago. Ethan was at his big launch and has had his flags on display in his bedroom ever since, he was that taken with him.

The centre pulled out all the stops for Marmalade's birthday, with a host whipping up the crowds into a frenzy, orange themed cupcakes and the launch of the 'Where's Marmalade?' book... PLUS two special appearances by none other than CBeebies star Andy Day, leading the birthday parade.


Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Driving knowledge is an ongoing journey #DrivingIn2019

I've been a driver for almost a decade now and I'm on my fourth car, which is our family car. I am that typical 'mum taxi driver' stereotype, running everyone here, there and everywhere but I do enjoy being behind the wheel. I travel to visit my family and like to have time in the car to take in the journey and have time to think.

* In collaboration with Kwik Fit
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