Monday, 26 January 2015

Five reasons why I still carry my changing bag

Even though  the boys are a little older now I rarely leave the house without my changing bag in tow. My changing bag ( or bags...I will mention this later) has over the last few years become my third arm, my partner in crime, my treasure chest of problem solvers.

1) Firstly my changing bag has a secondary function as my handbag, so instead of carting around two bags, which I did at first for the first few months,Everything goes in the one bag, to save my sanity (I don't have to spend ten minutes checking I have everything)  and to save my shoulders that took a fair battering carrying everything but the kitchen sink.

2) Secondly changing bags have become a bit of a fashion statement, there are so many pretty and stylish designs some are even designed look like handbags (have a look at the wide range online at Tesco) So I may have indulged this a little bit and own quite a few of varying shapes and sizes. Even one of the boy's nursery bags has been transformed into a spare one that usually lives at Grandma's house

3) This is probably the most obvious reason, tiny man is still in nappies. So my changing is always packed full of nappies wipes, nappy bags cream etc, not everywhere is as well stocked as some of our local baby changing facilities. As i have found on the odd occasion it is best to come prepared.

4) Another reason being is these changing bags don't just contain nappies, i think any mum will vouch for me here and confirm that these bags are packed with items for every occasion. From an emergency supply of medicines, creams lotions and potions, mine contains spoons, emergency snacks, a few toys, bibs, clean clothes, pen and paper, a diary and a few old teething rings. Yes everything but the kitchen sink it appears....note to self i must sort it out!

5) Lastly it may just be me, but i have always found that changing bags are a real conversation starter.   Styles, designs, capacity and contents are usual topics of conversation. There may even be a little contest with a few mums on latest releases and number of bags owned, but don't tell the other half.

Disclaimer: this post is written in collaboration with Tesco

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Best Gifts to Help New Year's Resolutions

The Best Gifts to Help New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions are difficult to stick to for anybody. You need will power but you also need the support of your friends and loved ones. So if you have a friend or family member who has got a worthwhile resolution for the New Year offer all the help you can. If you think they would benefit from making a resolution, why not help them out with a thoughtful gift? Here are a few inspirational ideas for your New Year’s Resolution Gift.

Gift: Headphones
Resolution Suggestion: Learn a language
A quality pair of headphones makes listening to anything more enjoyable. Suppliers such as Electric Shop offer a great selection of headphones which could not only prove an incentive to learn a foreign language but get them to the gym or pounding the pavement with a daily jog.

Gift: Fitness Tracker
Resolution Suggestion: Get Healthy
On a similar fitness tip, fitness and health trackers such as those made by Jawbone and fitbit allow exercise fans to analyse their workouts with their smart phones after keeping tabs on their activity.

Gift: Mocktail Recipe Book
Resolution Suggestion: Drink Less Alcohol
This fun gift may encourage someone to throw a January ‘dry’ party or help them discover new drinks for when they are on a night out. This is also a good way to aid a January detox after the excesses of Christmas.

Gift: E-reader
Resolution Suggestion: Watch Less Television
Amazon’s new Fire HD7 is amongst the most top of the range e-readers surround sound capable with cameras in the front and rear. However, if your friend wants to do more worthwhile activities rather than watching telly this may not be the answer (the streaming qualities is one of the models plus points). Go for a cheaper model on which they can only read to encourage a more productive pass time.

Gift: Walking Boots / Water Proofs
Resolution Suggestion: Spend more time in the great outdoors
There are sure to be some great walks around where your friend lives either in their local vicinity or a short drive away. Don’t let weather be an excuse by kitting them out with some high quality wet weather gear.

Gift: Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30
Resolution Suggestion: Become an Early Bird
Getting up an hour earlier can enable you to achieve so much more. This design of alarm clock brings the snoozer gently out of sleep with an increasingly bright light which lets your body know to stop producing the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone and increase the production of cortisol which perks you up to start the day.  

Gift: Theatre/Concert Gift Vouchers
Resolution Suggestion: Get Out More
If one of your friends or family members feel they are not getting enough culture in their lives why not treat them to some vouchers from ticketmaster which will allow them to go to the show of their choice in the New Year.

Christmas Wish List

With only a few days left until the Big Man pays a visit. I have been doing a bit of online browsing to come up with the boys Christmas wish list. With the boys so close in age i always try and find toys that they are able to share and interactive with each other as much as possible. So after scoring the Debenhams website i put together a few little goodies that the boys would love to find under the tree come Thursday Morning.

 1) Melissa and Doug Grocery Basket: Imaginative play is a big hit with the boys and lots of fun for active little minds. Playing shop is one our favourites and this little set with its own little basket would be a great addition to the family grocery store
2) A Treasury of Five Minute Stories: We always try and share a bedtime story every night before bed and this book is packed with some of my childhood favourites that i would love to share with the boys.

 3) Thomas and Friends Walkie Talkie: Both the boys are huge Thomas fans and am sure they would have lots of fun with these talking to each other from different rooms.

4) Thomas and Friends Ravensburger Thomas Night Work, 60 pc Glow in the Dark Puzzle: I am a big believer in educational toys and i love that the boys will still and work out how to complete puzzles. I like to try and challenge them and this 60 piece puzzle not only features Thomas and Friends but glows in the dark too.

5) Pirate Pursuit Game: Board games are another big hit with the boys and we all love sitting together as a family playing a game. As the boys are so close in age they tend to like similar things and pirates are a current hit. This game looks different to any we current have and the wind up Galleon looks like a great idea.

6) Brio Monorail Airport Set: Our train set is one of the only toys that seems to be played everyday. So we are always looking for additions to our set. The Monorail Airport set will add a new dimension to our play and the youngest will especially like the lift set and plane.

7) Teksta Kitty: My eldest has become rather found of one of the robotic friends that they have at nursery and i think that Kitty would be a welcome addition to the household. Not only is Kitty super cute but i am sure we could have lots of fun training her how to perform and is the next best thing to a real Kitty.

Disclaimer: This post is my entry into the Teksta Debenhams competition

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Snowman and the Snowdog Blog Tour

A couple of weeks ago we were asked if we would like to take part in the Snowman and Snowdog twelve days of Christmas blog tour.The Snowman is one of my all time favourite Christmas movie's and last year it was in the boys stocking and was an instant hit with them too.

We were sent a lovely boxset containing the Snowman and the Snowdog DVD and a cute little plush Snowdog. The boys couldn't wait to open it.

Snowman and  Snowdog Box Set

Snowman and Snowdog DVD
The Snowman and the Snowdog is an adorable sequel to the Raymond Briggs classic animated Snowman film. This film (without giving too much away) is about a young boy Billy who finds a secret box under the floor boards of his new house containing a snowman making kit. He builds a Snowman and a Snowdog and the tale comes to life with a magical adventure. The soundtrack is a lovely addition to the story and the boys favourite is the colourful fun race with lots of lovely characters.

Snowdog plush toy
Little man has really taken to this film and loves the plush Snowdog toy. In fact the little Snowdog accompanies little man to bed and i have seen them sharing the odd chocolate biscuit together too.

This lovely little Snowman and Snowdog set that has become an instant hit in our household can be purchased from Amazon

Why not check out day 10 of the Snowman and Snowdog blog tour here

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Money Matters

Since having the boys i have become a lot more aware of my finances, i know what bills go out when and how much for and have made notes in my diary of insurance renewal dates so that i can shop around for the best deals, and always try to put a side a little of my monthly salary for both mine and the boys savings accounts.

Prior to having children, I didn't have a clue about what things cost and just knew that all my direct debits came out sometime after pay day and if there was any money left at the end of the month it was a bonus. I didn't really open bills as i knew they were all set up to come out of the bank, and bank statements were shredded still in their envelopes after a few months of being sat on the kitchen table.

A new piece of research by Opinium shows that i wasn't the only one that didn't open their bills and that as many as one million households don't either.

Although i wouldn't consider myself to be the next Money man i can definitely say that i have a sound understanding of our household budget and payment schedule and that i can check to see if my bills appear to be correct.

With plenty of money saving websites offering discounts and money saving offers some banks and building societies have got clever and introduced bank accounts that offer ways that you can help you reduce household bills.

Do you know your income and expenditure like the back of your hand? If not why not consider a little New Years Resolution to get your finances in better shape.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Christmas making memories

It's no secret I absolutely adore Christmas, I am a merchandiser dream, from Christmas hats to Christmas socks I have purchased the lot. Ever since having children of my own there is the added magic of seeing the pure excitement on their faces from the first day of the advent, through to the ever so special Christmas Eve and of course the big day itself.

I have so many special memories of Christmases when I was younger and I hope to help create such magical memories for my family too. Simple things such as decorating the tree, visiting Santa's grotto and of course writing the all important list to the big man himself. When I was younger I was so excited for the regular visit to Santa to tell him that I had been good all year and come away hoping that I may catch a glimpse of him in my living room filing my stocking on Christmas Eve.

My sister and I spent many a Christmas Eve trying to keep each other awake waiting for Santa, wondering where he was and if he would call. Waking super early on Christmas mornings to peep downstairs to see 'if he had been', and running into our parents room in hope that it was time to go get up properly.

The boys are now at the age where real memories can be created and they have really started to believe in Father Christmas. It would be a dream  come true to be able to take the boys to Lapland and capture the sheer excitement and the true magic of visiting Father Christmas at his home.

This is my entry into the @Transun Lapland competition.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sugar and Crumbs Chocolate Icing Sugars Review

Earlier this year at the Cake and Bake show in Manchester I came across the flavoured icing sugars from Sugar and Crumbs and after after sampling a huge selection of their delights came away with a few flavours to try at home.

I was really impressed with flavours and the Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream went down a storm at home. So when i saw they were looking for volunteers to try out their new range of chocolate icing sugars i was only too will too help out.

The new range consists of three new flavours black forest, Jaffa Twist and Chocolate Milkshake, i was sent the latter two flavours to review.

Using the Jaffa Twist chocolate icing sugar I made a chocolate orange sponge cake, using a really easy all in one chocolate mixture. Filling the centre of the cake with the Jaffa twist icing. The instructions were really easy to follow and only required butter and water to be added. I used a full 250g bag and this created more than enough for filling and decoration of the sponge cake. This created a rich chocolate flavour with a definite orange taste and for me this was a great balance of chocolate and orange.

I used the same chocolate cake recipe to create chocolate milkshake cupcakes, again i used a 250g bag of chocolate icing sugar, I decorated 12 cupcakes generously and had plenty of icing left. These went down well with the kids but I did prefer the Jaffa Twist flavouring.

These chocolate icing sugars are a ideal quick and easy way to add a new twist to your baking. I am looking forward to trying the Black Forest flavour too.

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