Monday, 12 November 2018

5 Self Care Ideas

As a mother life is about taking care of others. Making sure everyone is fed, clean, clothed and happy. Juggling school admin, medical appointments, family commitments and generally running round like a blue arsed fly keeping things ticking over. It is easy for your own importance to slip to the bottom of the pile. 

When I feel like Mum life has got on top of me I like to do a few things to take care of myself both physically and mentally. These things are guaranteed to get me back to myself again. 

5 Minutes Peace

Sometimes it is hard to find big chunks of time to take out but just 5 minutes a day can really help. When Joe gets in from work and is able to watch the kids I take myself away. I will either practice my brush lettering (a new hobby) enjoy a cup of tea in peace or just sit in my bedroom and scroll mindlessly through Instagram. It really doesn't matter what it is but just those 5 minutes away to gather my thoughts, take a few deep breaths and clear my head help massively. Try it, just 5 minutes a day! 

Retail Therapy

Every once in a while I will arrange a shopping trip, often with my Mum or siblings. Joe will have the kids for the day and I may not even spend a lot of money but lunch is always on the cards. Nothing nicer than lunch without shouty children and shopping without a toddler fighting to get out of the pram! 

Home Spa

This one sounds posher than it is. I basically run a bath with lots of bubbles, dig out my favourite bath products and unwind. This is usually once the kids are in bed and I will catch up on my favourite YouTube videos in peace. I love to warm my towels on the radiator too to make them extra snuggly when I get out. Add some candles and soothing music if you like but just lay back and wash away all of your worries. 

Date Night

We don't get these very often but when we do I make the most of them. Our favourite place to eat  locally is Miller and Carter where the food is good and my favourite Summer Sling cocktail awaits. I pop on a nice dress, curl my hair and throw on a bright lippy. It is rare to get a chance to dress up so I embrace it. We don't stay out late but being just the two of us reminds me of who I am without the children and I remember that as much as I love them, I am more than just a mother. 

Eyebrows/Hair Appointments

I love getting my brows done. I have only been having them done for a year or so but feel so good once they are tidy. Getting my hair done is great too, especially if I pick up my favourite coconut latte beforehand! I only get it done once in a blue moon (probably 6 monthly!) but it never fails to perk me up. 

These things aren't huge, expensive (except Miller and Carter but you can eat somewhere else) or hard to plan. They can be added into your daily lives with minimal effort but trust me, maximum effect! If you feel overwhelmed try the 5 minutes a day and build up from there. Make time for yourself because if you aren't feeling 100% then neither will everyone else. 

Have I been missing out on any other ways to take care of myself? Let me know if you have any recommendations. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Lazy Mother's Guide To Cake Making - Unicorn Cake

Callie turned 2 last week. I can't believe how quickly she is growing up...I am convinced she is almost 3 already! When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday the reply was quick and seamless....CAKE!

I always try and make the kids birthday cakes but my way of making cakes is to make them look pretty, on a relatively low budget and with minimum effort. Cue The Lazy Mother's Guide To Cake Making...

I decided I wanted to create one of those fancy pants unicorn cakes you see all over Pinterest but no way was I baking the actual cake from scratch and then decorating...with a toddler in tow. So I cheated. I picked up a Betty Crocker Red Velvet cake mix and a tub of the cream cheese frosting for around £3.50 in Aldi. I figured at least I would be baking the cake even if it was just a box mix. 

I scoured supermarkets for yellow labels and was able to find a pack of ready to roll icing for £1, a pack of shimmery Jelly Beans for 75p and some Pink Panther ice cream cones for 30p (for 20!). I then popped to Hobbycraft and picked up a base for the cake and a tube of black icing (these could be found online cheaper but I was short on time) and to Poundland for some tubes of pink and white icing with nozels.

I think the grand total was under £15 for the whole cake which given it ended up covering 2 parties I think is really reasonable. 

Anyway...I baked those cake mixes, sandwiched them with cream cheese frosting, crumb coated (I know, I am just showing off now) and covered in the white icing. With the remaining icing I made ears and curls for hair and allowed them to dry before moving on to the main event...the horn. 

I dipped a pink ice cream cone into melted white chocolate and covered in the sprinkles from the cone pack (it came with free sprinkles too for 30 flipping pence!) let it cool then pushed it into the middle of  the cake. Securing the ears and 3 strands of hair with white frosting, I moved on to piping pink and white "rosettes" around them all and alternate colours around the base of the cake. 

Each base rosette had a shimmery jelly bean pushed in and I sprinkled the hair with edible glitter I had in the cupboard. Not essential but it was there. The inside of the ears were white chocolate coloured with pink food colouring but could have been left white too. All of these touches were literally what I had in the cupboards but didn't need to be there.

Finally I iced the eyes with black gel icing and attempted to write Callie across the wasn't my greatest lettering work but it did the trick. 

Overall I was so impressed with the cake and got some great feedback and I don't think I could have got a better cake from a supermarket. It just goes to show it doesn't have to be difficult just play around with what you have and if in doubt...cheat!

Let me know if you want to see more lazy birthday cakes...I have a Cheetah, Candy Cake and a rather impressive Octopus one I could share with you. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Slimming World and Me - November

Slimming World and Me is a new feature I have wanted to start for a while now. Those of you that have followed me for a while will know I am almost 2 years into my weight loss journey and my life has been transformed massively. I have lost nearly 3 stone and feel so much happier and healthier for it. This series will be my place to document my journey as well as sharing any tips, tricks and favourites from the month. 

Lets kick off November with a bit of an update. I am currently 10st 4.5lbs and have been teetering on the edge of target for months and months. I only weigh 6lbs or so less than I was this time last year which is frustrating but if I am honest I rarely follow the plan 100% and have been too flexible with it to deserve target. Since we moved in June I have really struggled to get into a routine. I left my job last month too which has been very stressful and I went off the rails with my eating. Fortunately for me I rarely gained more than 2lbs in a week and somehow lost the next week so target isn't any further away. However I have been paying to attend group for 6 months and not really gotten anywhere so I either call target and save myself some money or pull my finger out and lose that last bit of weight.

I am really not keen on calling target. I gave myself a nice (not so round) figure of 10 stone for my target weight. I will have lost 3 stone then and I am pretty hard on myself, not getting to 10 stone will now feel like I have failed. Anyway enough rambling on about it, that is where I am. So close to target but faffing about! 

Foods I am loving this month...

So despite not being on plan 100% I have still been trying to food optimise as best I can and one of the best things I have found is the Take 5 book from Slimming World. It is available to buy in group and is really similar to the Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients cook book but of course all low syn recipes. Our favourite recipe we have made so far is the Beef Casserole. I actually took the recipe in to group this week as part of a 'Show and Tell' type of session. We tweak the recipe by adding rosemary from our garden but it is so comforting and easy to bung in the slow cooker.

I always enjoy smoked salmon and poached eggs on toast so been having that when I can and when we are out I opt for a jacket potato with beans and cheese which satisfies my hunger without going too far off the rails (always hard to work out how much of the cheese is HexA but it isn't every day).

I have made this bread and butter pudding a couple of times too and discovered the wonder that is coconut milk lattes from Costa! When at home though the spiced orange Choc Shot is a great hot chocolate replacement and topped with light squirty cream for a couple of syns is lush. 

I also am obsessed with rich tea biscuits which can be dangerous to just have a few but at 2syns each I can have 3 or 4 and still feels like a treat. 

What's New?

So the Sticky Toffee HiFi bars from group didn't last long and are being discontinued. I like them but they are a bit sweet. It was leaked somewhere and our consultant let us know there is a Millionaire's Shortbread one coming in January! Yum!

I have filled out a little snowflake that is my Christmas wish. I want to get to target by Christmas and thought it would be easy but with 7 weeks to go (I think) that seems a bit harder than I anticipated. 

How do I feel? 

I honestly feel great. I have my wobbly bits but most of that is my Mum Tum and I have little control over. My size 10/12 clothes fit and I am totally ok with being this size. I have some size 8 clothes and some size 14 clothes so I am aware sizing is different depending on where you shop. I feel confident when I make the effort to dress up and overall am the happiest I have been in a long time. Perhaps that is why I am being a bit flexible and not being too hard on myself but at the same time it could easily go back on again so I need to keep a lid on the junk food. 

I guess that is it for this month. I will check back in for my December update before Christmas and hopefully will be closer to target and that Christmas wish! Let me know if you are a Slimming World member as I would love to hear from you and don't forget to follow me on Instagram for daily posts.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Making Our New Build House A Home - Living Room Decor from Aldi

We have been in our new home for 4 months now and are gradually turning it from a big white box to a family home. Each room has finishing touches in and although there is still a long way to go before it is perfect we have put our stamp on it already.

My favourite room of the house has to be the living room. It is so much more spacious than any we have had in rental houses and the french doors are such a beautiful feature. Our colour scheme in here is grey, pink and blue. 

Our speckled grey carpets were the first thing to go down and the curtains, blind and lamp shades were chosen in varying shades of grey picked out from the carpet colour. We decided to avoid painting most of the rooms while the house settles so my aim was to inject some colour without painting the walls.

We put up some shelves and decorated them with frames in pinks and blues. A frame with postcards in sits in one corner and our beautiful copper lamp in another. We had our old L shaped sofa for a while but recently purchased these gorgeous scandinavian style sofas in grey tweed which I am in love with. Adorned with pastel pink and blue cushions to add further pops of colour they make the room feel so grown up. 

I have an old nest of tables split around the room, I plan to replace these pine ones with more scandi inspired ones in the future but for now they work. On top of these sit some books, trinkets and scented candles. My favourite way to make a room feel cosy is to add these little finishing touches. Lighting is also so important to add warmth, I have done this with twig lights, a glass jar full of fairy lights and lots of fake tealights dotted around the room. I love turning them all on in the evenings while we snuggle up in front of the TV.

Speaking of the TV we got a new TV unit with grey doors, this takes up a lot of space in the room and has huge cupboards in for hiding a multitude of sins including the kids toys which seem to take over the house!

Finally I have added two faux fur rugs nestled under each of the sofas to add some texture along with a couple of throws for curling up under on a cold night. I am so happy with how the room has turned out and it will be complete when I finally decide on some art to go on the internal wall...but that is a whole different blog post! 

We were sent the pink sequin cushion, twig lights and faux fur pink rug from Aldi as part of their Specialbuys. They are all great quality but really reasonably priced and are available in store and online now. 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

10 Things I Learnt From Attending My First Kids Halloween Party

This post is one from the archives. From back when I only had one child and everything was new...including Halloween with kids. Enjoy!

I attended my first kids Halloween party yesterday, something I have managed to avoid miss out on since Ted has always been too small. However this year with his love of all things Halloween and an invitation from a friend we took a step into the unknown and I learnt a lot along the way! 

1. My friend Jess has balls! Not hairy man balls though...just seriously brave ones! 

2. I can totally pull a costume together in 5 minutes. (Ted changed his mind as we were about to leave the house)

3. Donning a pair of epic homemade Maleficent horns makes for uncomfortable driving.

4. Get petrol the day before and not whilst dressed up in said Maleficent horns.

5. Toddlers don't know who the F' this Maleficent chick is. FYI...I was not a cat!

6. I did well to check if all parents were dressing up beforehand.

7. My son is awesome! He settled in despite not knowing anyone and wasn't the slightest bit worried. 

8. I will never again attempt to judge a party game for a room full of toddlers dressed up. They are too cute to judge and you will fail.

9. It is best to try and ignore the amount of junk food your child is eating and instead of worrying...join in! 

10. 20 small children, just as many adults, sweets, cakes and cobweb will come out looking worse than you went in's good fun! *brushes cobwebs and toddler lick from trousers*

***Top tip...Roll with it!***

Monday, 27 August 2018

Our First Glamping Trip - Ready Camp Canterbury

Where has the summer gone? A week or so until the kids go back to school and the weather has suddenly turned. It may be drizzly outside this bank holiday but we have had some sunny days. We also managed to squeeze a weekend break to the seaside in which was long overdue. We had heard about Ready Camp after reading reviews from The Mummy Adventure and Just Eilidh so decided to take a small step into the world of camping with two small children. 

We don't own any camping equipment and had considered borrowing from family but the thought of erecting a tent with a toddler in tow filled us with dread. Ready Camp was the perfect option. Pre-erected canvas tents, proper beds and a kitchen sounded so much easier for us and at under £300 for three nights was affordable for the summer holidays.

We hunted on the website for the best location and after considering Cambridge we settled on Canterbury due to how many seaside towns were nearby. The drive from Northampton took a lot longer than we had predicted and after stopping for some lunch we arrived in Whitstable (our first stop before checking in) to a LOT of rain. Deciding that a rainy day at the seaside wasn't ideal we popped to Tesco and picked up some supplies then headed to our camp site. 

Ready Camp is part of The Camping and Caravanning Club with the glamping tents being in a corner of the site. We initially were asked which tent we would like and thinking about our own children and keeping them occupied we opted for the tent nearest to the play park (we soon regretted that decision!). The tent was gorgeous though and a lot more comfortable than I expected. We had taken our own bedding as it isn't supplied but this meant we had our own duvet and pillows which automatically made it feel more like home. We had however forgotten Callie's travel cot (school boy error) meaning she would have to attempt to sleep in a proper bed.

The site was clean and well managed. Site staff were really helpful and friendly and when we arrived the site was silent. Unfortunately our first night soon began to go downhill. The silence was broken when our 'neighbours' arrived. One family arrived at 8pm and and sat talking loudly into the night and another family decided 11pm was a suitable time to use the play park. They were sat in the park 3 meters from our tent with torches so that their kids could play...

Callie was in our bed all of the first night as she was so unsettled. I must have walked to the toilet 6 times before we eventually fell asleep at just gone midnight and were woken at 5am shivering as our duvet wasn't as warm as we thought. There is a heater in the tent but we had turned it off for safety...lesson learnt it gets cold in the night! 

Anyway. That was just the first night. Determined not to be defeated we had a cooked breakfast, washed up and got ourselves ready for a day at the seaside. We were off to Margate! A Jolly Boy's outing at last. I had watched Only Fools and Horses growing up yet had never visited this iconic seaside town so now was my chance. We had also been given tickets for Dreamland to review for them (post to follow) and the kids were really excited! 

We had a great morning, it was Margate Pride so the place was buzzing. Lunch was Peters Fish Factory (easily the best fish and chips I have had in years) and when we had explored enough we bundled into the car and headed along the coast to Ramsgate to visit my lovely friend Becky (The Mummy Adventure) and her children. FYI the donuts on Ramsgate seafront were 100% better than the Margate ones! 

Our kids got on so well with Becky's and after stuffing our faces with Papa John's (yep more junk food) packing our car with a borrowed travel cot and extra blankets we headed back to our tent for a much better night. We were warm and cosy, the neighbours kept the noise down and the kids slept straight through. Finally some sleep! 

The next day we headed back to Whitstable which is such a beautiful place. A proper coastal town without all of the arcades and funfairs. Much slower paced. We had a mooch around had some lunch at Wee Willie Winkles then as more rain began to fall we hopped back in the car and off to Canterbury. We really wanted to visit as many places as possible in our short time in Kent and Canterbury is fab! 

The weather really wasn't on our side though so after a couple of hours we headed back to the camp site for another pizza tea and the kids enjoyed a bit of time playing before bed. Our final night matched our first night with the kids from over the way (some teenagers too) staying on the park next to us until way after dark. They hit our car with a football too at one point with no apology when we went out to check on it. Eventually at 11ish they were told to go back to their own tent's leaving us to get some sleep. 

Waking up on our final morning we had managed to get a relatively ok sleep. We packed up and headed out early to drop our borrowed items to Bex and then spent the day at Lakeside shopping centre with my Auntie and cousins before heading home. 

We honestly can't fault Ready Camp. Their site was clean, facilities excellent, staff friendly and prices reasonable. Had we ended up with more considerate families around us and better weather our weekend could have been amazing. That said we still had a great time. The kids enjoyed being outside lots and we can now tick Kent off our places to visit list. 

We aren't completely put off camping but perhaps will wait a few years before attempting it again. Once the kids are older it will be easier and we certainly won't make the mistake of choosing a pitch next to the park again! 
*Just to note we paid for our accommodation it was only Dreamland that was covered for review. All opinions on this post are my own.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Bambo Nature Press Launch at Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens

We were recently invited to an event at the very beautiful Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens in Northamptonshire by a new environmentally friendly family brand called Bambo Nature
The event was to launch their new vegan and cruelty free skincare range as well as showcasing their eco nappies and wet wipes

The event was planned with children and babies at the forefront. The whole day was hands on and relaxed, plenty of activities to keep little ones entertained and boy was Callie entertained! We were introduced to the brand and given a bit of background into the ethos and history. 

Their nappies are Skin-Friendly with no dangerous chemicals and or allergens. Eco-Friendly using sustainable resources and less waste. Sleep-Friendly with maximum absorbency and are ultra-soft and flexible.

After we had the chance to meet the brand and take a look at the products the tiny babies were given massages with parents getting guidance from Emma at Tiny Toes Reflexology Callie however was never going to sit still long enough for a massage and got stuck in to some craft activities with amazing natural materials. We crafted a stunning dream catcher which I am in love with and Callie loved threading the wooden beads and bamboo...mostly onto Mummy's fingers! 

We then had a mini photo shoot with Natalie from Imaging Eye Photography. She was great with Callie and really made her relax in front of the camera. She already has her 'Cheese' face down to a tee but I think all of the candid photos taken throughout the day were perfect too. 

After a spot of outdoor painting we all enjoyed a delicious lunch complete with the yummiest victoria sponge and I was able to sit down and talk to a couple of other bloggers and the brand themselves. We talked about Callie's sensitive skin and I was able to try some of the Splish Splash Bath Oil out on her arms. It is fragrance free and felt really gentle and soft. She has mild eczema so I am always cautious about trying new products but they are really good. 

We were sent home with some products to try out, the nappies fit perfectly, are absorbant but thin and flexible. The wipes come in a larger pack size which is great and they aren't super soapy or heavily scented like other wipes on the market. Most of all though we wanted to try out the Bath Buddy Hair and Body wash so into the bath both kids went for lots of splashing...and I mean lots, I got soaked! 

The hair and body wash was so mild and Callie didn't come out of the bath with flare ups like she quite often does with lots of the leading brands. We then lathered her up with the bath oil and it soaked in nicely leaving her skin really soft and moisturised. 

Actually that night I decided to try the Love Balm Soothing Cream myself. It has the colour of a barrier cream but a bit looser than Sudocrem. I wasn't sure how it would rub into my skin but it actually was easy to use and didn't feel greasy. The next morning my makeup went on so well and my skin felt the best it has done in a long time! 

Although Bambo Nature nappies and wipes are on the higher end of changing products when it comes to their price, I do think they are a great disposable alternative to cloth nappies and a good in between item if you are wanting to embrace an enviromentally friendly lifestyle but are unsure if cloth nappies are for you. 

The skincare products however are really reasonably priced at £3.99 for the Snuggle Time Lotion and Bath Buddy then £7.99 for the Love Balm and Splish Splash Oil which will both last a long time. 

Overall we had a great day out and I am really glad to be able to share this brand with you!

Bambo Nature UK: @bambonatureuk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 

Imaging Eye photography: @imagingeyephotography on Facebook @bannernatalie on Instagram