Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mothers Day Gift Ideas!

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With Mothers Day just around the corner, can someone please tell me HOW on earth it's March next week? Wasn't it just Christmas? Ahhh, anyway, since having Abbie I now get to enjoy the occasion that is Mothers Day, obviously this means Ben taking the ropes and choosing me a few bits, but to be honest I am not really a present kind of person, just the day with Abbie and Ben would be all I need, anything else is just a bonus! I'm sure as I get older I'll enjoy the day more and be able to have some sort of lie in or a nice meal out somewhere!

I'm also one of those people who constantly makes wish lists, things I would love to have, material things, but things that would put a little smile on my face none the less! So I conjured up a little list of those bits and put it into a Mothers Day gift ideas collage for you, if you're struggling with what to buy your Mum's or you're thinking of something you might like, hopefully this can give you a little bit on inspiration! 
My personal 3 favourites are below!

Yankee Candles
Need I say more? In my opinion these are a bit 'too' pricey, considering they burn out and that's it, but somehow I can't stop myself from being drawn in by them, I don't think there's a scent I haven't liked so far, I don't know what it is, they just seem like a luxury item most people need in their homes and as much as I am a thrifty person, Yankee Candle scents are almost too good not to invest in! Even if you just buy a few smaller sized ones, have them around a lovely and hot bubble bath, pop a towel behind your neck for support and make it into a little at home spa sesh, they'll instantly change your mood and you'll probably find yourself addicted like I am.

Who doesn't love a big bunch of flowers? They brighten up any room in the house, they smell amazing and really aren't difficult to get your hands on either. You could order from a special online florist if you're wanting something bigger and more fancy, or even just pop to your local supermarket if you have to, flowers suit all budgets and are always guaranteed to put a smile on someones face! Some people like classic flowers like Roses or Lillies, others (like myself), prefer the more colourful ones, a mish mash of oranges, yellows or even pinks and purples, they'd definitely make my day :)

Millie's Cookies
I've said it before, and I will happily say it again, Millie's Cookies are one of life's best inventions, the most delicious, indulgent, dreamy cookies in the world of sweet treats! I'd not heard of them before last year but a friend of ours bought one for Abbie's birthday and I fell in love straight away! They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach but I have to say, it's always the way to mine too, I love food, I love dessert, I love cake and I love cookies, buy me some sort of naughty treat and i'm a happy bunny! Seriously, all I asked for at Christmas was a galaxy chocolate hamper, no really. If you've not actually heard of Millie's before, basically they sell boxes of cookies, cupcakes, GIANT cookies and cookie cakes, COOKIES CAKES, what a fantastic invention!  You can then choose to personalise your giant or cookie cake with writing, with the colours you want, the shape you want and even the choice of added extras! All of which can be done at home and with next day delivery! Bliss!

What have you asked for, for Mothers Day?


5 Factors to Consider Before Deciding to Foster

Most of us have heard of the term 'Fostering', it is something I have thought about in the past and would be something Ben & I would really consider once Abbie is a little bit older! Fostering is a pretty big responsibility to take on and while it is hugely rewarding and can transform people’s lives for the better, it is not something that can be decided on overnight. There are lots of factors to consider and Foster arrangements come in a wide variety of forms meaning there is an arrangement to fit most people, however, foster care settings require certain conditions and following considerations, before committing yourself to the process., it's also worth talking to a representative from an agency such as Capstone to fully put you in the picture. 

Size of your Home 
While different arrangement will require different sized homes, it is worth thinking about where in your home an extra person would fit. A spare bedroom would be advantageous but it is not a requirement when some foster children could share with their new siblings. You also should consider usage of other amenities such as the bathroom (which can often be contentious!) and the meal time set-up. 

Your Work Schedule 
It is more than possible to balance full time work with foster caring responsibilities but if you work hours which conflict with important duties such as the school run and weekend care you may have to address this. If you are looking at a long term foster arrangement you will also need to look at your career prospects and how solid your employment is. 

Your Personal Habits 
Smoking does not automatically count you out of being able to foster but it may count against you. You should also look at your drinking habits and general fitness as a role model to a young person. A child in foster care needs a stable, loving home as well as carers who she can look up to and depend on. 

Your Personality and Skillset 
Foster carers need to be loving, supportive people who have large reserves of patience. Children and young people in foster care have come from a variety of backgrounds but it is always important that carers are great listeners who prioritise the needs of their children and dependents. However, lots of foster agencies provide training as part of the care process which may enable you to develop these skills if you fear there is a deficit. 

Your Personal Circumstances 
People who are single, married, in single-sex relationships are all eligible to foster so do not think you are unable to provide care if you in any of these situations. However, it is vital you look to the future to ensure you can provide a stable home as it is unfair to put the young person in question through any more upheaval. 

As mentioned above, foster carers come in all forms so ensure you talk to an expert before with counting yourself out or committing yourself to the process. 


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Win an Armadillo Flip XT Pushchair from Mamas & Papas!

I was recently invited to take part in a blogger challenge with Mamas & Papas where I had to take a photo of the gorgeous new Armadaillo XT pushchair, showcasing some of it's best features! I was so excited when I saw the email, Mamas & Papas are probably my dream company to work with so I instantly jumped at the chance to try this out, especially as it could give you guys the chance to win one too! I love giving back to you when I can so this would be amazing to share with you too! 

The competition ends tomorrow, so all you need to do is pop over to the Mamas & Papas Facebook page here and vote for your favourite photo (it doesn't have to be ours but we wouldn't mind ;)), whichever blogger has the most votes, gets to give one away on their blog, how exciting! Don't worry though, if my photo doesn't win, I will share on social media the winners post where you can still win one for yourself! :)

We've been using this pretty much every single day since we received it and have both really enjoyed using it, Abbie looks so much more comfortable than some others we have tried, she has lots of leg room, and still has room to grow too! The size of the shopping basket is huge, seriously the biggest i've had in terms of pushchairs, it doesn't sag when it's full and definitely is a big lifesaver when i've accidentally bought a bit too much from the shops ;). But our favourite part of all, is how easy it is to fold, with just one hand it can be transformed into the most compact pushchair, again, that we have ever used!

Other details can be found here at the Mamas & Papas website! But below I have given you a few important ones to know about :)

- Wriggle room-big seat designed to let them stretch.
- Patented 2 way Easy-fold technology-folds and opens in seconds with one hand, whichever way the seat is facing so you never have to take the seat off to fold.
- Chunky wheels with tread-for extra grip and comfort on the go.
- Adjustable handle-telescopic design for optimum comfort.

- Designed for day one-suitable from birth up to 4 years.
- Reversible seat-switch them to face you or the world.

- Comfy cushion-well-padded for extra comfort out and about.
- Metal footplate-for better grip and a bolder look.
- Inward fold-to keep your fabric clean and dry.
- Wheel lock-swivel wheels can be locked and released for better manoeuvrability.
- Removable wheels-for squeezing into the tightest of spaces.
- Easy rider- front and rear wheel suspension for a smooth and comfy ride.
- Auto lock-chassis stays secure when folded.
- Travel friendly-easy carry handle for when you have your arms full.
- Peek-a-boo window-for quick check-ups through the hood.
- Flip flop friendly brake- for easy stop and go.
- Tether strap-for extra control and reassurance.

And so much more!

We absolutely LOVE the colour of this, but if you fancy something a little different, it also comes in other colours; Black Jack, Mulberry, Sand Dune & Navy! So something to suit everyone!

So get voting on the link at the top and you could be in with a chance to win one for yourself! YAY!



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Celebrity Mum of the Year 2015!

You've probably all heard of the Celebrity Mum of the Year awards, each year the winner is chosen by the public and presented with an award, this year IceLolly are sponsoring the competition and want you all to get involved too! Who has stood out for you this year? Who has that balance just right between home life and work life? Enter your fabulous mum over on the website now, and whilst you're there, do you have a Real Mum of the Year nomination you want to share? Perhaps someone you know personally who seems to have really outdone themselves this year, or maybe some who has been through a lot yet still stays so positive throughout everything? Whatever the reason, you can nominate your own personal mum of the year too!

"Being an amazing mother while balancing all the other stresses of life is harder than it looks, but mums manage to pull it off flawlessly! We want to recognise the real mums of the world who go to the ends of the earth for their kids, and we need your nominations to do it.
Whether you’re showing appreciation to your own mother, or singing the praises of a daughter, sister or friend who goes above and beyond for their kids, we want you to let us know about the best mum you know."

My personal choice for Celebrity Mum of the Year has got to be Angelina Jolie, it's a pretty popular choice amongst other bloggers i've noticed but not necessarily to the general public for some reason! I think Angelina is pretty much superwoman, she has a super successful career, SIX children, 3 adoptive children, twins and gorgeous little Shiloh! She certainly has her hands full that's for sure, she tries to keep her family together as much as possible, it's rare you'll see herself and Brad Pitt without their children which I think is so refreshing to see! 

Not only is she a hands on mum, she is a world famous hollywood actress, filmmaker and Humanitarian! Fighting for womens rights, human rights, Child Immigration as well as against poverty, and providing better education for all children. I'm not quite sure how she manages it all but she definitely inspires me and that's the reason my vote will probably always go to her! I mean, could you imagine trying to get 6 kids through airport security multiple times a month? Stresses me out just thinking about it, for that reason alone she is incredible ha ha.

Don't forget when making your nominations, you’ll also be entered into our prize draw to win a 4* weekend break for two at a luxury spa, so you can treat the best woman in your life too! :)



Monday, 23 February 2015

Get Crafty! 12 Fun Clay Craft Ideas!

Getting crafty is one of my favourite things to do with Abbie, growing up I always and a pen or pencil in my hand, I wasnt that great at it but I loved exploring my imagination and drawing loads of pictures, my love grew into Photography from the age of 9 and I've not put my camera down since, I'd love for Abbie to follow in my footsteps, I wonder if she will!?

Crafts are so versatile, you can use so many different materials, glitter, sticks, paper, leaves, literally anything and everything! You can get the kids involved with collages to stick on the fridge, and painting gorgeous canvas art for friends and family too! Clay modelling is one of those hobbies that is thoroughly immersive and addictive, even Peppa Pig made a tea set the other day, genius pig! What’s more, you can make practical items which could even lead you to make money from your craft hobby. ArtiFolk have a great range of clays to get started on one of the projects below. Don't worry if you're not the crafty type, it doesn't have to be perfect, and the kids will have so much fun getting their creative caps on! Who remembers making clay pen pots growing up? Then carving shapes and words on it too? I still remember making it today and literally cannot wait for that lesson at school with Abbie, it'll sit on my fireplace with great pride! :)

Below are some fun clay craft ideas for you all to try, get messy, get crafty and have fun!

Wall Vase 
This is a great project with spring around the corner. Create a small vase with a decorative backing to hang on your wall and fill it with spring flowers from your garden - makes a great welcome in your reception area. 

From pendants to ear rings you can make all sorts of pretty jewellery from modelling clay. Paint them with metallic paint for added bling factor! 

If you’re an animal lover, you can make the cutest creatures from Fimo or air drying clay. These are great for decorating kiddies’ bedrooms. 

Jewellery Stand 
This is a hugely practical use of modelling clay. Whether it’s necklaces, bracelets or ear rings you need to store, you can make beautiful jewellery stands by decorating basic structures made of wire with modelling clay. 

Fridge Magnet 
If, like me, you love picking up fridge magnets while you’re away on holiday as a memento of your stay, why not add to your collection by making your own? One idea is to fashion small photo frames which can stick to your fridge with magnets. 

Flowers and Plants 
This is a great subsection of clay modelling. Make all kinds of flowers, miniature cacti and ornate exotic flora and you do not have to worry about watering them! 

African Tribal Masks 
This is great fun for you and the kids. If there is such an exhibition local to you, take a look at ancient masks from the African continent on display and get inspired to create your own. 

Woven Style Basket 
Clay is a very versatile medium. By rolling it into thread or flattening it and cutting it into strips you can weave a basket or similar fabric-like creation. This works best for oven drying clay. 

Favourite Film Characters 
This is another activity which is great fun with the kids. Whether they are big fans of Frozen, Shaun the Sheep or the Minions from Monsters Inc. they can make their own miniature versions of the characters to play with. 

Not the most popular game since people are now wrapped up in iPads and Xboxes but creating your own colourful dominoes may reintroduce you to a fantastic traditional pastime. 

Candle Holder 
Another practical use for your modelling skills, candle-holders can make great gifts, just check their melting point to make sure the holder will not suffer from being so close to the flame. 


*Tips to help you Save Money!

Oh the good old topic of money, we could all do with a bit more, and could spend a little less, my new years resolution last year was to save money and although we did crap at the beginning, we really did pull it back the second half of the year, and are continuing to do so this year too! There are always loads of ways you can save but I thought I would share with you the things we tend to do throughout the year which really helps us to save money! Feel free to comment with your tips too!

Voucher Websites
We use these whenever we can, when it's treat day we head straight online for bogof deals, whether it's to help with the weekly food shop or we need to buy birthday presents or gifts, even the smallest deals are worth going for, VoucherBin are brilliant at bringing you the best bargains from the smaller shops right up to the much bigger brands too, with over 17000 active deals live right now and an average saving of £26 per customer, its definitely worth checking if you are looking at saving some money! What's even better is, instead of browsing through thousands of deals, you can simple click on stores at VoucherBin and easily find the shop you're looking for, so much more convenient!

Grocery Hauls & Meal Plans
I am such a sucker for these, I spend more time than I should watching other peoples grocery hauls and meal plan videos on YouTube, seeing what others have bought and how much they've saved really helps me for when i'm ordering our food each week, realising that the basic range of food is practically the same as the named brands but cheaper, we moved from Sainsburys to ASDA about a year ago now and save up to £100 easily! Whether you have a big or small family, can eat whatever you want or are on a special diet, there are thousands upon thousands of others in the same situation who will show and help you how to budget and how to make your money go further, a few of my favourites are Kerry, Leanne & Elaine! This also prevents you from reaching for the takeaway menu's too!

My advice for this is to sit down and write down both parties incomings, everything you both earn and any other bits that you receive such as benefits, tax credits etc. Then work out all the the outgoings as well, phone bills, rent, car tax etc, check through and see what things you do really need and things you could do without, even if it's just a £5 a month saving, that could be the difference between having your deposit ready in 3 years or 2! If there are any extra hours either of you could take at work over the next few months, possibly a year, then you may have to do it, it might mean you see less of each other but it will all be worth it when you have your own cosy home you worked your bums off for!

Obviously in the meantime, you still have to live, so if there are things you need to buy try and find the best deals out there, you might not think that saving 50p getting the smaller bag of crisps will make much difference but as the saying goes 'every little helps'. As I said above, we changed our supermarket from Sainsbury's to ASDA and I can honestly say it was one of the best things we've done, not only is it cheaper but there is such a better and bigger selection of things to buy, and i'm not ashamed to say it, this months shop we picked the cheaper version of our usual items, usually you type in what you want and you get the recommended products, these are usually the bigger brand names and we all like familiar names so we choose it, however after spending half the money, I couldn't even taste the difference!

*this post contains sponsored links


Thursday, 19 February 2015

How to get your Toddler to sleep better!

Parenting and sleep deprivation are two things that unfortunately just have to happen together, everyone goes through it, sometimes just for a few weeks (you lucky lot), sometimes it can be for a good few years, i'm part of the latter club, Abbie doesn't always sleep through now and she's almost 2 and a half! Blinds2Go recently carried out a survey about what the most stressful parts of being a parent were, Bath time was one of the least stressful aspects of parenting with only 4% of the vote, the second most stressful part of parenting was shopping, whilst 11% of parents felt that eating out was quite a challenge with children! Travelling was one of the highest ranked with 23% finding that the most stressful, but what came in top probably won't shock you at all, BEDTIME.

It was even one of first things that popped into my mind too, whether you have a newborn, a toddler or even up to teens, it's one of those things that cannot always go exactly how you want it to! 

I don't consider myself an expert but I wanted to share my tips on getting your little ones sleeping better, all of which worked for me and despite the fact Abbie doesn't sleep straight through, the whole getting her off to sleep in the first place is stress free 99% of the time..I hope they can help some of you somewhere!

I am one of those mums, the one who likes everything to be the same every day, I think children thrive under a routine of knowing whats coming next and what to expect, I also stick to the same timings if we're on holiday too. I think it's important to listen to your baby's cues, if they're grouchy at a certain time each night, then you can start off putting them down at that time every night, if they've not napped in the day much, chances are an earlier bedtime is in order, once they get the hang of it, their body clocks will slide into place and will become accustomed to it!

Wind-down time
We have this every night, it's not everyone's cup of tea but it really helps Abbie and works for us, at around 6.15pm, we let Abbie have some time on the iPad, she absolutely loves this and gives us the chance to clear up after dinner, whilst she winds down watching videos on there, sometimes she uses painting apps, which she absolutely loves, whilst other times it's surprise egg videos on YouTube, we let her choose exactly what she wants and once we've finally sat back down, she will come and snuggle up to one of us! At 7pm we head upstairs and run Abbie a nice warm bath, usually she's in at about 7.15pm (Johnsons Baby Bath really helps her to sleep better), and she plays or just chats until 7.30! Then it's time to wrap up snug in a warm towel and get ready for bed, then it's snuggles in bed before she falls asleep within about 20 minutes!

Daytime Activities
Keeping your little ones entertained throughout the whole day is definitely a challenge at times,  but there are lots of things you can do which will wear your little ones out in time for bedtime! I find that Abbie sleeps so much better when she's had a busy week, it doesn't have to be every day, but if you can do something different every other day, you'll probably find they sleep much better for you at night! Whether it's a trip to the soft play area locally, a walk and play at the park, drawing and painting inside, meeting up with friends, or even dancing round the living room like crazy people (all of which we have done this week), it's so good for bonding and getting them involved, activities get their little brains working and anything that gets their legs moving will definitely help you when the evening draws closer!

A few other little tips are investing in some black out blinds (you can even get removable ones you can take on holiday with you!), a white noise app on your phone to play whilst they lay down and even some soft classical music to sooth them too! There are so many things to try, find what works for you and your family and I hope you all get some better sleep soon!

To see the rest of the list of stressful parenting situations, click here, which one fits best with you and your family?

Remember, it doesn't last forever :) x

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