Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Do’s and Don’ts of Children’s Birthday Parties!

Aside from Christmas, a birthday party is the most excited a child can physically get without spontaneously combusting. However, if you’re hosting the party, there are some do’s and don’ts that you should consider before unleashing the group of little angels upon the world… For Abbie's 1st Birthday we wanted to keep it pretty small and not spend too much, but we also wanted it to be memorable (for us and the rest of the family obviously) :). I look forward to Abbie's birthdays the older she gets, because not only will she remember more but she'll probably decided on her own theme etc so I can have lots of fun crafting and buying everything! Below are a few tips for you to think about before jumping in at the deep end and going all out!

The 3 DO's

Have a budget 
It’s all too easy to get carried away when organising your child’s party, but it’s important you give yourself a budget. Depending on what you do for the party, it can be more expensive than you think, especially if you invite lots of children, and the last thing you want is to be stung with more costs than you planned for. Also remember that they will probably get spoilt by the rest of the family too so you don't need to buy absolutely everything yourself, ask for help or hand out a wish list if it helps!

Think carefully about who to invite 
There are two (perhaps three) real options here. Either you invite just a few of the child’s close friends, or you invite the whole class from school. If you invite most of the class but not all of them, then you run the risk of fallings out and children getting upset. This could be dictated by your budget, as you may not be able to afford to cater for 30 + children. 

Think about the location
This is probably one of the most important considerations. Do you hold it at home and risk having to deep clean the house afterwards or hold it somewhere else but probably have to pay for the privilege of not worrying about clearing up afterwards? If you do hold it at home, then you have complete control. You can dress your house up in whatever theme you’d like with decorations and lighting (these indoor fairy lights from would look great), and at least you know where all the children are at all times. But then you do have to clean your house afterwards, which will put some parents off straight away! 

The 3 DON'TS

Be in competition with other kids’ parties
There can be some kind of weird one-upmanship when it comes to children’s parties, with parents constantly looking to go bigger and better than each other. However, don’t let yourself get drawn into this, as you can find yourself way beyond your budget and it can lead to petty grudges in the playground. 

Forget about siblings 
Of course, your child’s birthday party is a special day for them, but you should be mindful if you have any other children, particularly if they’re around the same age. They may well get jealous and feel left out, so you should try and get them involved as much as possible, perhaps with the setting up of the party. If they’re not in the same age bracket as the birthday child, then see if they want to go and spend time with their friends so they’re not bored. 

Get stressed out 
Having a group of screaming kids running around isn’t the most relaxing of things, but you need to try and not get stressed out about the whole thing. Obviously you need to be wary of where the children are and what they’re doing to make sure they’re safe, but don’t go running after them every 5 minutes fretting if they’re alright. Check the Yellow Pages for children’s entertainers, as they will end up drawing their attention for much of the party if you’re worried about being overrun. If you’re having the party at home, then move any breakables and just let them enjoy it. You might even enjoy it too!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Little Face of Venture Photography Competition!

Hello all!
You all know how much I love taking photos, whether it's wildlife and nature or pictures of Abbie, I always have my camera on me wherever I go as you never know when something special could happen! It's nice to be able to capture them and keep them forever, nowadays there are so many ways you can share them with others too, be it through email, transferring them onto canvas or in a photo album! The possibilities are endless, and what's better is even if you're not quite the best Photographer, there are lots of fantastic companies out there who can help you out!

So, today I have a little competition opportunity for you, run by the professional photography company Venture Photography,  if you're not familiar with them, then here is a little run down...Venture are there to capture the precious moments in time and beautifully present them in stunning hand-crafted products. They provide innovative photoshoots at exceptional quality, plus first class customer service too! Perfect for the whole family, from newborn photos to a sweet 16 and even beyond, for every need, they are there to capture those memories for you! 

They have studios which span over three continents, with a network of 250 professional photographers so you’ll always know you’re in safe hands. 

"These highly trained photographers take over seven million photographs each year. Then each chosen image is processed and combined with your hand-made frame by a team of dedicated specialists in our state-of-the-art UK based production facility."

The winner of this year’s Little Face of Venture will win a fantastic one year professional modelling contract with top agency MOT Models, during which MOT will promote and market the winner for an array of modelling assignments. And that’s not all, the overall winner will also receive a year’s supply of shoes courtesy of Start-rite and an amazing prize from LEGO! 

The regional winner from each studio will receive their winning image in a hand made Venture frame worth £350, a pair of Start-rite shoes and a set of LEGO.

For every child who takes part a £1 donation will be made to Wellchild too! So you'll be helping out those in need to! :)

How to enter...
In order to enter, you will need to purchase a full family photography voucher and enjoy your Venture Photography experience. Your Photographer will choose the best photo of your little one from those shown at your private cinematic viewing, and the studio will upload it on the Little Face of Venture website. Then it's up to you to get all your friends, family and anyone who knows you, to come to the website and vote! 

The Little Face of Venture competition takes place in two stages..firstly, each studio will name their regional winner, which will be the child photographed at their studio that has gained the highest number of votes on the Little Face of Venture website...

Each of those 27 regional winners will then be invited back into their studio to film a short video to be used in the final judging process. The judging panel will then use the video along with the entered photograph to choose the overall winner who will become Little Face of Venture 2014.

The 2014 panel of judges are Richard Mayfield, Venture Photography Creative Director, Kathryn Bristow and Georgie Mann, Junior Division of MOT Models.

For all the details and terms & conditions visit the Little Face of Venture website here
Entries close on 23rd May 2014 and voting closes at midnight on 6th June 2014.

Good luck :)


Friday, 18 April 2014

Review | Gousto - Chicken Escalopes with Taleggio & Leek Gratin

Hello again! 
Today I have a review of the second recipe from our Gousto Box, if you want to see the first one click here, it was a roasted veg penne with grilled mozzarella! For those of you who haven't seen that previous post and want a little more information about Gousto, read below :)

Gousto is an amazing service which provides you with a box full of yummy, healthy and nutritious ingredients for certain recipes, every week you get the chance to choose from recipes on the website, which are updated every week, ensuring you don't cook the same meal twice! The recipes are then delivered right to your doorstep once a week so you decide when to cook! From delicious pasta bakes to oriental stirfrys, with different cuisines from Italian to Chinese, Indian to Caribbean, with plenty of meals to choose from you'll find it easy to choose meals to suit the whole family! 

I've really been getting into my cooking recently, since I've started focusing on healthier eating I've discovered just how much I enjoy cooking and couldn't wait to get started with our box! I had a browse online and chose my 3 meals, I decided on 3 completely different cuisines and have taken pictures of the prep and cooking below, along with everything you need to know about how to cook them! Don't worry if you're not much of a cook, these are so easy to do and can be done by anyone, also there's no worry about using too much or too little ingredients, everything comes in the exact portion needed for you so no food waste either, perfect!

Recipe 2 - Chicken Escalopes with Taleggio & Leek Gratin

These are the ingredients needed to make this
For 2 people

1 x Leek
1 x Lemon
2 x cloves of garlic
2 x potatoes
Taleggio cheese

I will start off and say I have slightly amended the recipe as Ben & I were both poorly last week and didn't end up cooking this on the day we were suppose to, so after preparing everything we realised the chicken was out of date, and of course there weren't any escalopes in the shops so we had to go for second best and buy them already breaded..if you are looking to do this part of the recipe, click here for the original recipe! 

Now, onto the recipe...

Firstly cut the leek lengthways and chop finely! 

Grate the zest of one lemon 

Add the leek to a 4cm deep oven proof dish

Chop up the Taleggio cheese into cubes (be warned, this is a rather strong smelling cheese!) Haha.

Season the leeks with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and mix together

Add the cheese and sprinkle the lemon zest evenly over

Put on the middle oven shelf & place your chicken escalopes on a baking tray on the top shelf

Boil the kettle (will use in step 10)

Whilst that's all cooking, peel and chop up your potatoes (3cm pieces should be fine)

Peel the garlic and add to the saucepan with potatoes - Pour in the boiling water until potatoes are covered. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until tender

Turn off the oven once cooked and leave everything in to stay hot

Once potatoes are cooked, drain with colander and return to saucepan, add a splash of milk and some butter, mash it all together until no lumps remain

Sprinkle with parsley

And serve!!
Here is our finished product!

Look out for our third and final recipe next week! A Caribbean coconut curry with basmati rice! :)

Visit the Gousto website here


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Giveaway | Baby Merc Zippy 3 in 1 Travel System!

Well do I have a BIG giveaway for you all today! 
I have teamed up with Babycave to give one of you the chance to win the Baby Merc Zippy 3 in 1 Travel System (Vogue Edition), worth £399! If you haven't seen my previous post on BabyCave, click here to have a read!

The giveaway includes the complete set: Zippy Pram Chasis with leather handle, Carrycot, Stroller seat, Car seat, Changing bag, Bumpers, Shopping basket, Rain cover, Mosquito net, User guide, 4 wheels, Cup holder and much more.

Suitable from birth up to 15kg
Face to face OR Parenting Facing
Front wheels are lockable
Central brake
Hardness adjustable suspension
Handle made from eco-friendly leather
Adjustable back rest
Soft pillow inside
Adjustable leg rest in 5 positions
adjustable safety belt
Wind stopper
Barrier encased with PVC frame
Reflextive elements for safety
Large shopping basket
Sunshade and mosquito net included
Large changing bag
Veriable functions including deep version & walking one
(all explained in the manual)
Cup holder
Rain cover
12 month warranty
Bumper bar
Adjustable footrest
Adjustable hood
One click folding
Extra mosquito net

For your chance to win this gorgeous travel system, just follow the instructions below..

T H E   G I V E A W A Y

Baby Merc Vogue 3 in 1 Travel System

How do you win?

Enter the rafflecopter below, the more options you complete, the higher your chance of winning! What are you waiting for? Read the T&C below and happy entering :)


1. All entries will be checked and verified so please don't cheat
2. If the winner does not respond to my email with 7 days, another will be chosen! :)
3. Open to UK residents!

4. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Giveaway | £150 Towards Footstools 2 U

Ok, todays post may be a little random but I have a little giveaway for you all! We recently purchased a new pouffe for the living room and it's so nice to just put your feet up! Although Abbie tends to climb all over it too!

As a parent you look forward to that moment when the little one(s) are in bed and you can finally put your feet up and do absolutely nothing, well, except for cleaning up after them and making dinner..but you get my drift! Those evenings when you've literally been on your feet all day, been out and about with the little ones, running them and yourself ragged, you want a nice relaxing bath and maybe a takeaway if the days been that bad!

So today I have a giveaway for you, the lovely team over at Footstools 2 U have given one lucky winner the chance to win any product they like from the website up to £150! Maybe you're looking for something to match the sofa, whether it's fabric or leather, perhaps you want a new poufee or drums tool? Footstools Direct Limited is the number one footstool company in the uk and is based in North Yorkshire with a fantastic team of skilled craftsmen and women. Footstool 2u have sold to more than 10,000 customers in the UK.

With £150 you can choose whatever takes your fancy!

You can choose the fabric and leg types too!

What will you choose?
Visit the Footstools 2 U website for a bit of inspiration! 

T H E   G I V E A W A Y

Any item from the website up to £150

How do you win?

Enter the rafflecopter below, the more options you complete, the higher your chance of winning! What are you waiting for? Read the T&C below and happy entering :)


1. All entries will be checked and verified so please don't cheat
2. If the winner does not respond to my email with 7 days, another will be chosen! :)
3. Open to UK residents!

4. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review | Soak & Sleep Pillows

When you become a parent, the idea of sleep is a dream come true, as soon as your little one starts sleeping even a few solid hours at night and you become a child at Christmas! For me especially, I look forward to my bed every night, running around after a toddler and playing/changing nappies/dealing with tantrums/having them climb all over you/taking them to the park etc etc, can leave you feeling pretty exhausted to say the least! Although it is pretty fun :).

So when I was contacted to take part in a review for Soak&Sleep, I jumped at the chance! If you've not heard of them, here is a little background information for you..

" In 2006 Charlie Hunt launched Duvet and Pillow Warehouse from his spare bedroom in Surrey. He had one simple aim: to provide great quality duvets and pillows at a fraction of the high street price. At a time when we all want quality AND value, Charlie tapped the market, and soon thousands of customers were on the website. First DAPW outgrew its modest HQ, then it outgrew its website, and now it has outgrown its name, to becoming the now well known Soak&Sleep!

To be honest, our pillows are pretty flimsy and pathetic right now, I don't think you actually realise just how much they 'deflate' over the years. We were sent 2 duck feather pillows and I know I say this in pretty much every review, but I was so excited to receive them, my neck has started aching at night with the lack of support so I was looking forward to an improved nights sleep (if Abbie lets me anyway) :).

So as soon as they arrived, I rushed upstairs to get them in place, I literally couldn't believe the different between the old pillows and these, instead of using 2 of the old pillows just for me, I can now comfortably use the 1! They have kinda transformed the bed into something you would find in a hotel, nice plump and soft pillows!

OH MY GOODNESS, these pillows have literally been sent from heaven, as soon as I put my head down, it curled around the rest of my head and supported my neck perfectly, I felt like i'd just popped my head on a really, I know it seems dramatic, but take it from someone with a toddler who rarely sleeps through the night, sleep is my favourite thing in the whole world, so anything that is going to make it better deserves those words! Although they're not the softest pillows, they are so comfy!

Abbie was pretty intrigued in them too, as you know if you're a regular reader, we co-sleep with Abbie, she has her bed pushed up next to ours and sleeps in there for half the night or if we're lucky, all night! So on the nights she wants those extra cuddles, I thought it might be good for her to test them out too, you know, just incase she didn't like them! So I lead her down and she looked pretty damn snug to me! I asked her if she wanted to go nu nights and she snuggled onto her side and made a snoring sound..I take that as a pretty comfy pillow in toddler terms!

Soak & Sleep provide you not only with pillows, but duvets, nursing pillows, bed linen, mattress toppers, silk throws, slippers and towels to name a few! Whether you're looking for a new lighter tog duvet for the summer, a new pregnancy pillow or some fluffy new towels, all for a guaranteed lower price than the high street and all made to the highest quality, visit the Soak&Sleep website for it all!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Review & Giveaway | Mia Tui Handbag

Good morning all! 
Hope you are well and enjoyed your weekend?

Today i have a review of the gorgeous Mia Tui Sofia Bag for you, I was so excited to receive it as ever since I saw Kerry over at Lived With Love's red bag I have been pining for one! So when the opportunity to review this came up I knew straight away I had to go for it in red! I seem to have so many changing bags at the moment, which are all great and useful, but I haven't actually got a proper handbag, this is where the Sofia spoke to me, they ave a huge range of what they call 'mummy bags' which are all gorgeous! 

"Sofia is a hobo handbag that bridges the gap between functionality and fashion, and delivers a unique solution that will simplify your life."

As with all the Mia Tui range, the Sofia is waterproof inside and out and comes in a range of fabrics and colours including; Aubergine, black, chocolate, oyster, plum, blue & teal! You are sure to find the perfect colour for you! Whether you want to use this gorgeous bag as an everyday handbag, work bag or a stylish changing bag, its there throughout, for every need and every occasion! 

The inside is a gorgeous hot pink, with plenty of space and storage, as mentioned above it is also waterproof so no worrying about spilling your drink or having a sudocrem explosion, it is all simply sorted with a wipe down!

The unique interior also has multiple pockets, zips, clips and 2 extra bags, which means you never have to dig for a missing key or phone again! I currently use one of them as my makeup bag which works perfectly! With this bag you'll fit everything you need plus you'll stay looking stylish too!

The bag itself is made from faux leather with silver hardware, the Mia Tui logo is stitched perfectly on the front of the bag so everyone can know where it's from, the overall stitching detail across the bag is pretty and subtle too! Size wise, it's perfect, not too big you'll lose everything, but not too small you try and squeeze everything into it!

Whether you're a mummy or not, this bag will suit your lifestyle perfectly, why not start the trend and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win one! (in a colour of your choice!)

T H E   G I V E A W A Y

1 x Mia Tui Sofia Bag

How do you win?

Enter the rafflecopter below, the more options you complete, the higher your chance of winning! What are you waiting for? Read the T&C below and happy entering :)


1. All entries will be checked and verified so please don't cheat
2. If the winner does not respond to my email with 7 days, another will be chosen! :)
3. Open to UK residents!

4. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway