Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Drop of Sunshine

We had such a lovely day today, the sun shining is making me feel so happy! I always forget what it is like to feel happy every day in the warmer months when I get into the Winter blues. I love the person the sunshine turns me in to, I am proactive, inspired and generally more upbeat. Roll on the Summertime!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Vax Air U86-AL-B Cordless Bagless Vacuum Review

http://ao.com/product/u86alb-vax-air-cordless-bagless-cordless-vacuum-cleaner-blue-34587-155.aspx?cmredirectionvalue=U86-AL-B_BL

Those of you that subscribe to my YouTube channel may have seen my recent review of our old Dyson Vacuum cleaner. The poor thing is on it's last legs but we have been lucky enough to be sent a new Vax Air vacuum to try out and share with you all.

The Vax Air Cordless Bagless U86-AL-B Freestanding Vacuum Cleaner is in a whole other league to our old 'Grandad' vacuum and when it arrived I was like a kid at Christmas. The box was really cool too which totally got me excited! (I know...I don't get out enough!)

I have only ever had second hand vacuums since we have had our own house so getting a chance to try out a brand new one was a bit of a treat. I couldn't believe how advanced the technology is compared to our old one and how lightweight the Vax is in comparison.
 
First Impressions

My first thoughts were how small it is. Weighing in at just 4.6kgs there is literally no wasted weight, everything in the frame is there because it has a use and there is no bulky lead as it is totally cordless. Even the battery pack doesn't take up much room. The colour is great and the whole design is really clean cut and simple.

Instructions and Add On's

The manual comes in the box and is so straight forward to follow. In the box with the vacuum are two tools, two Lithium Life batteries and a charging station. The wand is a separate component too and the instructions for getting it set up are really helpful and to the point. You can also buy extra tools and spare batteries if needed, details of which are at the end of this post.

Specification

The U86-AL-B is freestanding, cordless and bagless. It has a rinse clean filter so no need to buy expensive filters and is cyclonic which means no yucky dust bags. The cylinder has a 1.05litre dust capacity and the whole vacuum weighs in at just 4.6kgs, as you can see in the video it is so easy to pick up and move around.

The lithium life batteries last for 50 minutes when fully charged, with a charge time of just 3 hours. It also comes with a 6 year manufacturers warranty (which I must remember to register and send to Vax within 28 days...I always forget to do that!).

Dimensions (H)87.5 x (W)32.0 x (D)27.0                                     


What we thought of it...

I have quite a sensitive back since having Ted and find the Vax so easy to use. I don't have to put so much effort in to pushing it around as it is so light weight. It also moves easily around corners and has a flat base to get under radiators and furniture which is so helpful. I think my favourite feature though has to be that it is cordless. It means I can move easily around  the house and not have to worry about where to plug it in or tripping over the cable whilst cleaning.

I will say though that when the wand is in use the suction isn't as strong as I would have liked it to be but it is still fully functional. I tried using it to clean our vertical blinds and it wasn't really sucking much of the dust off which is a shame but perhaps one of the other tools might do the trick.

Joe loves that he can use it to clean out the car without getting the extension lead out and I love that if Ted spills something I can just grab it and go without having to unravel a cable, find a plug and lug it across the house. The hard floor setting is also so handy in the kitchen for cleaning up 'Ted crumbs' before 'mopping' the floor (by mopping I mean hand washing as our kitchen is about 2 meters square).

Summary

Overall the Vax Air has really impressed us and I struggle to think of many more features I would want in a vacuum. I would probably be interested in trying the Lift and Go model which is advertised on the TV at the moment (featuring little girls with glitter in Dad's car) as the cylinder lifts out for use in hard to reach places. There is only about £50 price difference so I would be keen to see if it is worth the extra investment.

Check out my full video review here:




Friday, 3 April 2015

Weeks 5-10 Weight Loss Diary - Recipe's for Healthy 'Naughty' Treats

Dieting is hard work I am not going to lie and tell you it isn't but it doesn't have to mean you can't have a little bit of what you fancy. My favourite comfort food usually consist of biscuits, traditional puds and carb filled dinners.

Most people wouldn't dream of eating any of the above on a diet but it can be done and as long as you eat them as part of a balanced diet you can treat yourself!

Fruit and Nut Chocolate

Almonds, Dark Chocolate Chips and Raisins give you that much needed chocolate fix. The dark chocolate has a lot less calories than milk chocolate. It contains lots of anti-oxidants and can even reduce blood pressure!

Almonds have been proven to keep your heart healthy and keep you fuller for longer, they also are high in protein. Raisins along with a lot of dried fruits are quite high in sugar but it is natural sugar so a lot better for you than eating a handful of sweets. One spoonful of raisins are also one of your five a day!

Apple Pie

I love a good homemade apple pie but it is so high in calories. Pastry is one of the worst things you can eat when on a low calorie diet so I saw online a recipe for crustless apple pie and loved it. I have adapted the recipe for one person so it can be made in a mug!

1 eating apple (we like Gala) I take half of the skin off but it can be left on or removed depending on your tastes.
1 teaspoon of sugar or sweetener of your choice ( I hate the taste of artificial sweetener though!)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Chop the apple into small pieces and pop in the mug, sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until the apple is soft.
  • I serve this with either low fat Greek yoghurt or Coconut Whipped Cream!

Risotto

Bulgar wheat is my go to rice substitute. It is lower in calories and much easier to digest , I also think it has much more flavour than plain rice. Mix cooked bulgar wheat with light cream cheese, cooked peas and a sprinkling of grated low calorie cheddar. Combine until melted and delicious! Super satisfying and the perfect comfort food with a lot less calories than a normal risotto.


Weeks 5-8 of my 'Diet'

Week 5 - 12st 1lb - a 1.8lb loss

Week 6 - 12st 0.5lbs - This week I was unwell with migraines and had to scrap the diet and get myself better but still managed to lose 1/2 a pound!

Week 7 - 11st 12.5lb - Yay I finally dropped under the 12st mark which I have been waiting for. Feeling better about things now

Week 8 - 11st 12lb - Another 0.5lb off. These 1/2 pound weeks always make me feel a bit down as it doesn't feel like much. I think that the weight loss could be slowing down as I haven't been doing enough exercise. I walk most days but still need to up the cardio to burn some fat.

Week 9 - 11st 10.5lb - I can't help but think the scales were playing tricks on me as I weighed myself the next day and had gone back up by 1lb which is disappointing.

Week 10 - 11st 11lb - Yep back up again. That said I know I have eaten a lot of rubbish this week. I have been keeping under my calorie allowance but have hardly drank any water and have eaten my fair share of junk. Not sure Easter weekend is going to help me much either but I have done so well I am determined to get back on track.

10 Weeks in and I have lost over 10lbs which I am so proud of!

The past few weeks I have struggled to keep up with the updates on the blog as I am sure you can see but I am keeping a log of most of my meals over on Instagram so please come over and say Hello and I promise to share some more of my yummy recipes soon!



I wonder how much weight I lost from my hair cut?

 


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Thomas & Friends National Singing Competition Winners - Press Release



Hinckley’s Westfield Infants School wins Thomas & Friends ™ national singing competition to record brand new song for special anniversary movie!
The pupils of Westfield Infant School in Leicestershire have been crowned winners of the Thomas & Friends ™ national singing competition – winning the chance to record a song for the new Thomas movie starring Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne!

The winning class of five and six year olds beat off tough competition from more than 50 schools from across the country all battling for the honour to record the a tune to mark the iconic brand’s 70th birthday.
Schools across the country have been celebrating 2015 as the year of friendship for Thomas & Friends’ 70th anniversary by recording their own Happy Birthday songs for Thomas, in association with National Schools Partnership.

Judges picked Westfield Infant School as the overall winners and as their prize the class secured an all-expenses paid trip to a professional recording studio to record the new “We Make A Team Together” song which will feature on the new Thomas & Friends DVD movie Sodor’s Legend Of The Lost Treasure, due out this autumn.
The children also won a unique half-day musical experience run by a music specialist, a special visit from The Fat Controller, £200 worth of musical instruments for their school and Thomas goodie bags all round.
Thomas & Friends producer Ian McCue congratulated the students and staff of Westfield Infant School: She said: “Westfield school was our clear winner – a huge well done to everybody involved. We absolutely loved having the students record in the studio and look forward to hearing the final track. The children have created a piece of history!”
Three primary schools had previously been announced as runners-up: St Mary’s in Merseyside, Smallwood in Cheshire and Blakedown in Worcestershire.
Find out more on the Thomas and Friends Website www.thomasandfriends.com. You can keep track of all the latest Thomas & Friends news on Twitter and Facebook.



*Press Release courtesy of Grayling.com

Sunday, 29 March 2015

New at Warwick Castle - The Time Tower

Last weekend we had the pleasure of visiting Warwick Castle again. We always love being invited to special events especially when they take place at one of our favourite places. This month brings an exciting new addition to the castle in the form of the Time Tower.

In place of the old Merlin tower which visitors used to have to pay to explore there is a new experience that is free to enter. "The Time Tower knits together compelling verbal stories from the Middle Ages, War of The Roses, The Tudors and the Victorian era into a time-travelling narrative brought vividly to life by the very latest visual technologies."

When we arrived at Warwick Castle we were treated to a special lunch in the new Conservatory Tea House which is in the old orangery. We have visited so many times and commented on how nice it would be to have tea in there and hey presto! Tea House!


We enjoyed delicious cakes while being entertained by two 'peasants' from the Horrible Histories show. They were very funny and really got everyone in the mood with a historical quiz. I was even roped in to rapping along to a song for them alongside ET Speaks From Home's Mr C. We were very good at it!




We then had our tour of the new Time Tower. It really interesting and the special effects were fantastic. A little video about the history of Warwick Castle from the Dark Ages leads the way to a 3D model of the castle with projections showing how the castle has changed over the years. Narrated by the castles owners over the years I really felt like history was coming to life before my eyes.


We then went into a gallery where all of the images were interactive, it was like something from Harry Potter. The castles inhabitants recalled all of its bloody history and there was plenty of humour thrown in for good measure.


I probably wouldn't pay extra for this experience as it was only 5-10 minutes long and we did feel it was a little rushed as the next showing happened just after ours so no time to dawdle. However, for a free exhibit it was brilliant and I was amazed by all the work that had gone into the shows and displays. There was even a puff of smoke as the castle 'set fire'!




After the Time Tower we explored the rest of the grounds and watched the Birds of Prey show which was great. I managed to get some awesome photo's of the birds too!




We had some lunch and ended our day by entering the Dungeons! EEK! They were so scary, I haven't been in them before but we thought we would brave it. I haven't been that scared in a long time. At one point all the lights in the room go out and when they came back on again a man was standing right in front of my face that hadn't been there before...then his mother 'the witch' gets in on the action...lets just say I held on to my 14 year old sister very tight!

Here are some more snaps from the day...





    

We even saw Mike The Knight and picked up some goodies from the gift shop. Another great day at Warwick Castle!

The Time Tower is now open so why not book your next visit today!


BritMums

Our Bedroom Makeover - Grey and Pastels

I have mentioned a couple of times on the blog how much I dislike our house, it doesn't feel like a home no matter how long we have been here. After having discussions with my parents I realised I needed to try and make the most of it for now and gradually we have been trying to put our stamp on the place. 

We were gifted some home wares for Christmas and our Kitchen and Bathroom have begun to look more lived in. I also rearranged our living room back in November and am feeling a lot happier with the layout so the next step were the bedrooms. 

Ted's new big boy room is coming along nicely and once it is finished I will be sharing it here so keep an eye out for that. For now though I wanted to show you around our bedroom!

We have had so many colour schemes over the past few years from charcoal grey to beige and dusky pink and I finally settled on light grey and pastels for our new bedroom. Our walls are currently still magnolia with a latte coloured feature wall but we don't have time at the moment to paint it. Ideally I would go for a completely white room which I can just add accent colours to but that will come soon so for now just ignore the walls!

The reason this is a budget makeover it mainly due to the walls not being painted and us still having God awful carpets but as it is a rental house we can't change that.

Ok who is ready for the tour?


Our bedroom is a funny shape, it has this main bit and then a little alcove next to the airing cupboard. I have set up my desk in the alcove alongside our wardrobe. As you can see it is quite small but we have done the best we can with the space. 

The radiator colour wasn't our doing..as I am sure you can imagine there are not many people in the world who would paint a radiator that hideous colour but we can't change that one either. 

From left to right then...

The grey curtains are from Ikea, they used to be in our kitchen/diner but I liked the colour. They help to cover up the gross office style blinds (thanks Landlord!) and are actually tied back with grey and white striped ribbons. 

Our chest of drawers was actually mine when I was little and is solid pine. I love pine furniture, I know it isn't 'in' at the moment but that doesn't deter me! The bed is also pine and was picked up for £90 from a local recycling center. It is really chunky and as with the chest of drawers I know it will stand the test of time. 

The bedside table on Joe's side is one of two but we could only fit one in. I don't like it but it was given to us when we moved in together and we are yet to replace it. 



Moving closer in, this is our bargain bedding from Ikea. I think this set is about £5 or something ridiculous and since buying it I have seen it on numerous TV shows! It isn't perfect and we actually picked up another set which is pictured below which I think works better with the room.

I adore this cushion from H&M which was £3 in the sale. A good inspirational quote goes a long way and the pink ties the pastels in nicely.



The painting on the wall is a silhouette I painted of us a few years back. It is far from perfect but I painted it and I couldn't think of a better place to display it! 
 
The lights and garland are both featured in my January Sales Haul with the bedding above. It is so nice to have fairy lights in a bedroom at night time, although being cheap lights these aren't quite bright enough so I need to get some more. I do recommend battery powered lights though as they are safer for night time. 
 
After taking this shot I decided to move the fairy lights to around the headboard and added my gorgeous new Really Really Designs garland. Sausage, Chips and Sandy Feet is a phrase that evokes so many memories of the night Joe proposed to me. Very few people in our lives understand the reference but it is perfect. Read the proposal story if you haven't already and you will 'get it' too!
 
 
The garland was made by the very lovely Hayley from Really Really. She actually lives about 20 minutes from me and her Etsy shop is full of the quirkiest gifts an homewares. I have always wanted one of these letter garlands and am so grateful she made us one for our new room.
 

This is my area of the room, my little blogging nook! I have had this desk for years, another Ikea bargain along with the bookcase which actually lived in our bathroom before I stole it and moved it in here. I added some paper bunting I had from my Paperthemes wedding samples and all of my favourite ornaments are there including my £3 bargain handpainted bear from TKMaxx.


 
I have embraced my blog/crafting space and used the shelf to store all of my favourite books. Laterella my Makie doll has a home here too, she may creep some people out but I am still in awe of 3D printing and am fascinated by how she was made.



My wedding planner, notepads, diaries and business cards are finally all in one place ready for when I need them and of course Ted's baby scan picture and sparkly weight from his 2nd Birthday party balloons are in pride of place!

I never had my own room for long growing up, being the eldest of 4 I always ended up sharing my space so having my own chill out zone really means a lot to me and I am so relieved to have finally got rid of some of the household clutter to have a relaxation space.



Before I forget...this is our new bedding. We picked it up yesterday from Aldi for £9.99. It is double sided and I think it works fantastically with our colour scheme.

I have so many idea's for adding to the bedroom and my Pinterest board is overflowing with pastel loveliness so hopefully there will be more additions to come!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Nominate Late For Reality - The BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards are back!

Hey you! Yes you...you gorgeous bundles of loveliness that are my readers. Enjoy reading the blog? Love hearing what we get up to as a family? Why not nominate us for an award? 

Click Here to Nominate! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------->


Nominate because of this cheeky smile...





Nominate because you love big warm hugs too...




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Nominate because...well just because we love you and hope you love us too! 

Details: URL - www.lateforreality.co.uk
Email - jpirard@hotmail.co.uk
Twitter - @JadePirard