Thursday, 23 March 2017

Go go go! Last minute Mother's Day gift with Aldi

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks you will be aware that Sunday is Mother's Day. If you weren't quite under a rock but haven't sorted something special for the mother in your life then look no further. Aldi have got your back. 

With their beautiful range of floral arrangements in a range of colours and styles there is bound to be something perfect for your Mum.

My Mum has a love tulips so that would be my first choice but the little jam jar arrangements are really pretty as are the box bouquets.

With Mother’s Day floral arrangements available from £3.00 through to £25 for a Specially Selected Premium Gift Bouquet, Aldi has a bunch of fabulous flowers available to show mum how much you appreciate her.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

My photoshoot with Ania Ames

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of having my portrait taken by our wonderful wedding photographer Ania Ames. I have known Ania for a while now, she photographed a friends wedding a few years ago and I fell in love with her work and was thrilled when she had the space for our last minute wedding

She captured our big day beautifully so when I was looking for some head shots to use for work she was the first person I asked. She suggested taking the photos somewhere I love so that they are natural and capture me in an environment I am comfortable in. 

The first place that came to mind was a garden centre that we visit as a family. A place that is full of beautiful trinkets, plants and the place we planned to buy our chickens from. It has a stunning tea room with exposed brick and solid oak furniture which I thought would work perfectly in pictures. 

I took Callie with me and was so pleased when Ania started snapping away with her in my arms. I don't have many pictures of me and her that aren't selfies (always behind the camera). 

It never comes naturally for me to pose for pictures. I don't quite know how to hold myself or where to look. Ania helped by giving me some simple poses and we had a little giggle about how uncomfortable I looked at times. Looking wistfully into the distance isn't as easy as it sounds! 

We had people looking at us a bit strangely but it wasn't very busy so fortunately we managed the shoot without more than the odd side glance. I absolutely adore the photos and there are at least a few I will be using for work purposes. 

Joe loves this one of me braving the the crisp winter morning. This is my new favourite coat I picked up at a charity shop and I almost live in it so it seemed only right to wear it for the shoot. 

Being a big tea drinker I never feel quite right without a cuppa first thing so this shot sums me up totally. Most of my blog bio's include something about being a tea drinker so it had to be included right? 

Do go and check out some more of Ania's work. She has a beautiful website and her Instagram feed is breathtaking. Also if you are local to Northamptonshire do pop into The Bell Plantation, they do a mean bread and butter pudding in the tea room! 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Welcome our new additions!

This weekend we welcomed some new additions to the McDonald family. Our 3 beautiful chickens! 

Meet Red, she had a red tag on her ankle but was named by Ted after Angry Birds. Zelena who has a green tag and I named her after the character from Wicked and Once Upon A Time. These two are Plymouth Rock Bantams. 

Then last but by no means least we have Steve. Steve is a female Silkie with scruffy feathers and little blue earlobes. Joe loves her despite her scruffy appearance. 

They are all so friendly and we have even had a couple of eggs from the red girls already! Ted loves having a pet and it is lovely seeing him and Joe venture to the garden to let them out and pop them to bed every night. The girls seem really happy and I hope we will have many more eggs from them in the future! 

Have you got any interesting pets? 

Admiral Young Drivers Review

A few weeks ago we were invited to review the Admiral Young Driver experience. My sister is 15 and has been really looking forward to learning to drive since she was about 10 years old. So when I was given the opportunity to review for Young Driver I know exactly who would be the person for the job. 

We were given the option of several local driving centres, one of which is 5 minutes from my house so an ideal location. To book our session all they needed was my sister's name and date of birth which we provided and were good to go. 

On the day of the experience we went out for a cup of tea and a bit of lunch before heading to Towcester Racecourse. Unfortunately it was quite overcast that day and very windy but that wasn't going to stop us. We went into a marquee and were greeted by a very friendly young man who checked us in and handed Ellie her own Young Drivers log book. We went and took a seat whilst we waited for her instructor to arrive and help me and I help myself to a nice cup of tea. 

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A few minutes later the instructor walked in and introduced herself she was called Mandy which just happens to be our Mum's name and put my sister is at ease straight away. Mandy explained which car they would be in and how the experience would go before taking Ellie out of the car and I followed to see how they got on. 

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In the car where they sat for 10 minutes as Mandy went through the initial controls explain the basics. It took a while for Ellie to get used to the car and it's biting point but when she got the knack of it she was off! I watched as they circled around the track carrying out a number of different manoeuvres including reverse parallel parking which is something I still struggle with myself and driving in and out of cones which is quite tricky for a beginner.

There were lots of other young drivers having the experience as well so I stayed and talked to some parents who had nothing but good things to say about the experiences. Most of the children there of a similar age to Ellie or a little younger as the experience is aimed for children aged 10 to 17. 

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When her hour was up Ellie was guided back to the start point by Mandy where she reversed next to the other cars and they even had a little high five because she done such a good job. She got out of the car she was beaming from ear to ear, the nerves that she had earlier on in the day had vanished and she seemed really pleased with herself.
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We were also able to get a video from inside the car which you can buy for £14.99. This allowed us to see things from Ellie's perspective and was great for her to watch back later, if a little bit embarrassing (nobody likes to see themselves on camera).

Overall we thought that the Young Drivers experience is great for getting to know the ins and outs of the car and the basics before starting official driving lessons. I wish I had had it when I was her age and if you complete the full training you can get a high discount on Admiral Car Insurance which is a bonus in itself. I must admit I think the lessons are quite high highly priced at just over £60 for one hour, definitely not a teenager could afford to pay for themselves but an ideal gift for birthdays and Christmas. 

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When you think the average person needs 40 hours behind the wheel before going for a driving test most lessons are about £20 an hour so if you can reduce that cost down by learning beforehand and then reducing your car insurance then it is well worth while. I would recommend this as a confidence building exercise too because Ellie was very anxious before getting in the car and was buzzing all afternoon because she was so proud of herself and what she had achieved.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Siblings - March 2017

Enjoying a cuddle and a movie as Callie is feeling a bit unwell from her 4 month immunisations yesterday. Ted is growing more confident with her by the day and she just watches his every move. I posted a beautiful video of them sat like this on my Instagram wall and he said she has a fluffy head! 

The Me and Mine Project

Friday, 10 March 2017

Top 5 Low Syn or Free Snacks - Slimming World

When I started Slimming World a few weeks ago the main issue I had was I needed to curb my snacking. Over Christmas I got into a habit of grazing on junk food and that was where my pounds had piled on. That combined with a total lack of exercise after having Callie amounted to a stone of extra weight and I felt crap for it.

Through Slimming World I have learnt that grazing and snacking is ok as long as it is on the right things. Gradually over the past few weeks I have found myself making healthier choices and choosing better foods for my body. I'm feeling awesome for it! 6lbs down in the first two weeks and I already feel a lot more healthy and awake....well as awake as you can be with 2 kids to look after. So I wanted to share with you my 5 favourite low syn snacks, my go to treats.

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1. Healthiest first, has to be a Fruit and Fat Free Yogurt. You can really shake this up by changing the types of fruit and flavours of yogurt. I had strawberry last week but this week picked up some Aldi fat free vanilla yogurt to have with apples, strawberries and satsumas. I even top some of mine with a Salted Caramel HiFi Light from my HexB allowance. 

2. 2 Syn Chocolate Mousse. This is great for a low syn chocolate fix. Mix low fat Quark with your favourite Options hot chocolate sachet for an almost cheesecake like dessert.

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3. Ploughmans are my favourite too and pickled veggies are free so I fill a plate with carrot sticks, tomatoes and apple (speed food), gherkins, pickled onions and sometimes my HexA cheese allowance for a healthy snacking plate. 

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4. Syn Free pancakes. Just separate 2 eggs and whisk the whites into stiff peaks, add back in the yolks and 3 tablespoons of powdered sweetener. Cook over a low heat like regular pancakes flipping once the bottom is browned and serve with fat free yogurt and berries. The picture above is of my 2 ingredient pancakes made with banana and egg but you would have to syn out the cooked banana in these so the first recipe is best and still as nice!

5. This one is brilliant. Banoffee Cheesecake! This recipe is either Free if using your cereal bars as HexB or 6 Syns per serving. Serves 4.
3 Muller Light Banana and Custard Flavour8 Tesco Healthy Living Chocolate and Caramel Bars1 Packet of powdered gelatin1 tub of Quark1 Banana 
1. Take the cereal bars. Break them into a bowl and microwave them until they go soft. Press into a loose bottom cake tin or as I did into individual ramekins (this recipe makes 4 small ones). Set in the fridge while you make the topping. 
2. Make the gelatin as per instructions on the packet.
3. Pop the Muller Lights and Quark into a bowl and mix together. 
4. Add the gelatin and combine. 
5. Pour mixture onto the chilled base and allow to set overnight. 
6. Top with fresh banana before serving. 

*this recipe is inspired by Dots and Spots

Just a heads up some of these recipes may be seen as tweaks so it is worth looking into Slimming World tweaks and how you feel about them. Speak to your consultant if you need any help understanding things too! Let me know if you try any of these and tag me in any pictures, my social media links are in the right hand bar! 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Gruffalo Hunt for World Book Day

When it comes to World Book Day poor Ted always misses out because it falls on a Thursday which is one of the days he doesn't go to nursery. So when one of his nursery friend's Mums contacted me to ask if we wanted to go to the forest for a walk and a Gruffalo Hunt I thought it was a great idea! 

I had heard about the new augmented reality Gruffalo app and was keen to give it a try. We live locally to Salcey Forest (Northampton) where they have a Gruffalo trail so I downloaded the app and we were good to go.

It was a really nice spring morning (it is spring now right?!) so perfect for a walk with the kids so we bundled up and headed to the forest. The other Mums were so much more prepared than I was so I do need to invest in wellies and outdoor gear for Ted.

We had a lovely walk and the kids really enjoyed finding the Gruffalo characters on the posters around the forest especially when it meant they got to have their picture taken with the characters on our phone screens! 
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Here is the full list of forests that are available for Gruffalo Spotting. Hopefully there is one close to you! 

Haughmond Hill - Shropshire
Jeskyns - Greater London
Top Lodge Fineshade Wood - Northamptonshire
Delamere Forest - Derbyshire
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest - Kent
Wendover Woods - Buckinghamshire
Alice Holt Forest - Surrey
Haldon Forest Park - Devon
Dalby Forest - North Yorkshire
Wyre - Worcestershire
Gisburn Forest & Stocks - Lancashire
Hamsterley Forest - Durham County
High Lodge Thetford Forest - Suffolk
Bolderwood Car Park and Visitor Site - Hampshire
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum - Gloucestershire
Grizedale - Cumbria
Salcey Forest Centre - Northamptonshire
Beechenhurst -
Guisborough Forest - North Yorkshire
Moors Valley Country Park
Cardinham - Cornwall
Whinlatter - Cumbria
Hicks Lodge - Derbyshire
Sherwood Pines Forest Park - Nottinghamshire
Kielder Water and Forest Park - Northumberland
Cannock Chase Forest - Staffordshire

*This isn't a paid post or review, all opinions are my own.