Saturday, 20 April 2019

Get Holiday Ready With UK Swimwear

In the past, my pre-children holidays were filled with relaxing by the pool or beach as we lazed about enjoying the summer sun without a care in the world. I never really gave too much thought to swimwear for these holidays; I was happy enough with how I looked on the whole. When my first little boy arrived I must admit I became really self-conscious about my appearance. I was finding it really hard to shift the baby weight, my boobs had grown and I just didn't really feel like me anymore. We actually haven't really had any holidays since the children arrived that would require any holiday swimwear but this year we've booked (along with my brother's family) a camping trip to Cornwall on a bit of a fancy campsite which is right on the beach and also has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool! And so when UK Swimwear got in touch to see if we would like to try one of their pieces, it came at just the right moment. 

woman swimming

UK Swimwear has a large array of absolutely stunning swimwear items including bikinis, swimsuits and tankinis as well as a wonderful selection of accessories too. I spent a long time browsing the site. I really liked how they feature a range of shaping as well as underwired swimwear to encourage confidence and enhance one's figure. I was particularly drawn to both the boho chic ranges and the floral ones, they were so pretty! 

After looking at the site for a long time, I had a bit of a realisation. I'd spent years being negative about my own post-baby body yet I actively encourage body confidence on the blog, on social media as well as to my friends. Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes whether they are slim, curvy, tall or short. Each woman is unique in her own way and that should be celebrated. I truely believe that, yet for many years I hadn't extended this belief to myself. And so with that in mind, I decided there was one thing for it, I'd opt for one of the floral pieces I'd been coveting (but worried might draw attention to me) and in a bikini style too! 

The piece I chose was the Anita Rosa Faia Aurora underwired bikini. What I loved about this piece was the stunning floral design. The bikini top has a unique crossover design on the bust with a gathered cup. The straps are adjustable and it's also underwired for extra support. The bikini briefs feature the same beautiful design. 

bikini, sunglasses, tulips

To compliment the bikini, I chose the Pia Rossini San Remo Sarong in red for those times when I'm sat around the pool, hopefully enjoying some sunshine! This is a fabulous item, it's adjustable, versatile and  lightweight and looks beautiful teamed up with the bikini. 

I'm so pleased with the items from UK Swimwear, they are the loveliest swimwear items I've ever owned. I can't wait for our holiday now and promise I will try to practice what I preach and show myself a bit of kindness! 

To explore the wonderful items from UK Swimwear, just visit here.

*I was very kindly gifted the above items in exchange for an honest review
Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Satisfaction Minus the Splurge - Tips for Budget-Friendly Online Shopping

Whether you’re buying a gift for a distant aunt, or trying to fit your kid’s birthday gift into your monthly budget, there’s always a lot of ways to save. As mums, spending less without sacrificing the quality of our purchases is a basic instinct. But for as budget-conscious as you might be, there are probably a few shopping hacks you haven’t discovered just yet.

If you’re planning a bit of an online shopping spree but you want to stay within your projected budget, then try to fit these tips into your strategy.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons 
When it comes to online shopping, coupons are your best friend. These days, it’s not hard to find a discount code or promotional voucher for different brands that sell online. So do your research and get your hands on a code before you speed through checkout! Free shipping, price cuts, and freebies are just some of the wonderful perks you can get when you take your time to find a coupon.

Check for Brand Membership Discounts

Lots of brands reward buyers simply for joining a mailing list or a text alerts program. Make sure you shop around and check for these easy offers to get a hassle-free discount on your first purchase. Most membership programs are absolutely free, so all you will really spend for the process is a few minutes of your time.

If you have a friend who you know might need to purchase a few things from the same online destination, check if they have a referral program. Friends who shop through your link are given a discount, and you earn one discount voucher for every buyer you refer.

Buy Everything You Need Under One Receipt
 If you’re shopping for the holidays, then you might find the need to purchase several different items. Of course, there’s a whole lot of fun in discovering your options. But try to stick to just one online shopping destination and get all of your items from the same source. Why? Brands will often reward buyers depending on how much they’re spending on a single receipt.

For instance, some online shops will give you a freebie if you meet a minimum purchase requirement. Others will offer free shipping. Then of course, there’s the aspect of rewards points which can multiply whenever you buy more.

Look for Budget-Friendly Alternatives
For as much as we’d all love to gift our family and friends branded picks, our budget might not always allow it. So, try to shop around for viable alternatives that can help you cut down on prices without sacrificing quality. A favorite destination for online shoppers looking for top-quality scents minus the heft price tags is Copycat Fragrances.

Their shop offers scents that compete with expensive luxury fragrances at just a fraction of the cost. Plus, their unique packaging makes each fragrance look and feel luxuriously sophisticated, so they really make the perfect gift for anyone in your family.

*Collaborative Post
Wednesday, 10 April 2019

An Eggcellent Easter Gift Guide!

Easter is just around the corner, so if you're looking for a bit of inspiration for gifts to buy your nearest and dearest, just check out my cracking Easter Gift Guide (last Egg themed pun, I promise!).

Cadbury Easter Range

There's a huge array of Easter themed chocolate goodies from Cadbury this year! There really is something for everyone. I absolutely love the range of Dairy Milk bunnies, they are so cute and completely moreish! I also really love the Easter Egg Hunt kit which contains everything you need to create your own egg hunt; chocolate eggs, bunnies and packets of Mini Eggs! You can explore the range here!

chocolate bunnies

cadburys easter hunt

Blacksticks Blue Cheese Easter Egg
Who said Easter eggs had to be made of chocolate? Introducing the world's only blue cheese Easter egg made entirely from delicious Blacksticks Blue and teamed with oat cakes and caramalised onion chutney! Made with 100% natural ingredients, this rich and creamy cheese is seriously tasty, you won't be able to resist! Find one here!

cheese egg
Mighty Fine Honeycomb Treats
Made from beautiful honeycomb, these light and crisp treats would make a unique and exciting gift this Easter. The honeycomb is made with British honey and the ingredients are gluten free too and what's more, they are dipped in delicious high quality chocolate! The Honeycomb Dips, made with salted caramel, milk or dark chocolate, are the perfect treat to share (or keep all for yourself!) Find out more here! 


Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt
Your children will surely love one of the Moshi Monsters Egg hunt sets. Featuring 4 Moshlings, one of which is hidden in the egg, they can pop the egg open to reveal the character. There over 40 to collect and each set also contains a code for a digital gift too! You can find out more here!

moshi egg hunt

Happy Easter! 

*I was kindly gifted the above items in exchange for an honest review
Saturday, 30 March 2019

The Benefits of Arts and Crafts For Children

We all know that we should aim to limit screen time as much as possible for our children but let's face it, it's not always easy. With lots of tv channels aimed just at children and with tablets and game consules to contend with too, it can be hard to encourage them to pursue other activities but reducing their screen time can have wonderful benefits for their development and well being. I'm keen to encourage my children to spend more time engaging in arts and crafts and here's why...

Drawing, writing, colouring, cutting and sticking are some of my boys' favourite activities. They've created little worlds out out of a few pieces of paper, card and a pack of colouring pencils. They love it when I have a spare cardboard box too as they spend hours decorating it and making little houses! I have lovely memories of colouring and drawing as a child and so, while I'm not opposed at all to them having screen time every now and again, I'm keen for my children spend time being creative too. 

What are the benefits?

It can promote relaxation~ After a busy day at school, activities such as colouring and drawing are the perfect ways to relax and unwind. 
It supports brain development~ In early childhood, your child will be making millions of new brain connections and being creative can help with this process.
They can spend quality time with you~ Engaging in arts and crafts with your child will enable them to spend some precious quality time with you, boosting their self esteem and encouraging them to communicate their thoughts with you.
It builds confidence~ Creating pieces of art that they are proud of can really boost their confidence, encouraging them to experiment with new ideas!
It helps them express themselves~ Sometimes it's hard to find the right words to express yourself when you are little but being creative can help them to find a different way to communicate their feelings.
It helps with problem-solving skills~ Being creative helps your little one to problem-solve and overcome challenges as they seek to find the best way bring their ideas to life!

How can you encourage your children to be creative? 

Have arts and crafts supplies available~ Buying items such as pens, crayons, pencils, and paper and making them accessible and visible will ensure your little ones can be creative when they feel the need to.
Celebrate their creations~ Give them lots of praise and encouragement which will encourage them to engage in arts and crafts more frequently.
Make your own creations too~ They don't have to be masterpieces but if your child sees you being creative, they will be more likely to want to have a go too. My little boy likes when we draw zoos together; I draw all the cages and pools and he adds in the animals! 

Do you have any ideas for encouraging children to engage in arts and crafts activities? I'd love to hear them! 

Why not check out Snopake Brands for a wide range of high quality stationery items? They can be found and followed on Facebook and Instagram too! 
Tuesday, 26 March 2019

It's Not Just You: Loneliness In Parenting

When I was anticipating becoming a mum for the first time, loneliness was the last thing I expected. If anything, the addition of an extra person in my life that I would spend most of my time with, would surely mean I'd have all the company I could ever want. I pictured happy trips to coffee shops, my baby sleepy and content by my side, walks in the park as we chatted away and lazy mornings snuggled in our pyjamas enjoying each other's company. In reality it wasn't like this. Our first trip to a coffee shop was quite eventful as I couldn't make his bottle up fast enough and he screamed blue murder. It was a small coffee shop and so his little wails filled the whole room. Everyone seemed to have stopped talking and was waiting for me to feed him. I became all fingers and thumbs and so it took twice as long. When I finally placed the bottle in his mouth he instantly stopped and everyone burst out laughing. It was all so dramatic that it WAS funny in hindsight but at the time I was so flustered I just wanted to leave! Baby groups filled me with horror (in a strange twist of fate I actually run my own now) as I felt like the only one that hadn't managed to get out the door on time, that hadn't managed to breastfeed and that had ventured out of the house styling a baby sick stain! In reality I wasn't the only one but this was my perception of it. And the result of that perception is that it made me feel lonely. As the years went on, this feeling didn't go. Whereas others can appear to have parenting down to a T, I still feel like I'm just winging it. I think the truth is that this is how many, if not all, people feel but on the surface it's not always evident.

baby, parenting

Loneliness is not exclusive to parenting of course. Loneliness is a feeling of isolation; from either physically not having people around you or from having people around but feeling like you don't always connect with them. You can feel lonely when you're surrounded by people and when you have friends. I'm a bit of an introvert and sometimes I fold into myself and shy away from social interaction and other times I'm so worried I will say the wrong thing that I try not to say much at all.

So what can you do?
Be kind to yourself- If you take one thing and one thing only from this post, know that it's not just you. It's really not. The seemingly happiest, most sociable person in the room might be feeling just as you do.

Reach out- Contact an old friend, pop a card through the door of a neighbour, smile at a mum on the school run, just initiate that first step. You never know where it might lead.

Don't compare- I might do myself out of a job here but don't be afraid to take a social media break. Social media is an odd phenomenon. You're only going to see a polished, edited version of people's lives which will never seem to compare to your unedited reality. If it doesn't help to look at it, look away.

Do something a little bit scary- Baby groups did fill me with horror BUT I met some wonderful people through them. My children are past the baby group stage now so my scary things are to go to events or social things that I would usually shy away from. 

Hang on in there- This feeling will pass. You'll see. 


For more information about loneliness and the ways it can be combated, visit the Jo Cox Loneliness website.
Monday, 18 March 2019

A Bodega Night Out!

Last week, my husband and I had a very rare child-free night out after we were invited to Bodega Cantina in Birmingham to sample their new menu! Bodega offers an array of South American inspired dishes which is right up my street; I love this style of food so couldn't wait to try it! 

On arrival, my first impression of the restaurant was that it was very busy with a lively atmosphere. It was obviously the place to be on a Saturday night! It was a little louder than the usual places we would pick for an evening out (as a bit of an introvert I'm drawn to quieter places) but I keen to see what Bodega had to offer, especially as it seemed such a popular restaurant.

Once seated I ordered a Cosmopolitan which was wonderful (so nice I had another one after!) and my husband had a Sol beer.  We then decided to order the House Nachos to share. We both really enjoyed these. They consisted of flour tortillas topped with cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. It was a generous portion so was the perfect quantity to share. I'd certainly order these again if we ever return, I've been craving them since! 

The menu is split into street food, smaller plates and larger plates. For my main, I ordered Bodega's Halloumi Burger from the larger plates section. As a vegetarian, menus are always limited but I was initially a little disappointed with the other choices if I'm honest. Before I'd arrived I'd been looking forward to ordering a burrito style dish and although they did indeed offer burritos and quesadillas, the vegetarian option was a filling of roasted peppers; I would have liked to see a little more choice here. However, I will state that as I didn't order these, I can't comment on how they tasted and I'm keen to pop back to try these some time. It was only after we'd been, when I was looking on the website in preparation for this review, that I realised they do offer a vegan menu too so it's worth asking to see this if you visit. My halloumi burger was really tasty and was served with sweet potato fries and slaw.

My husband ordered the Dr Peppa Marinated Pork Quesadilla served with a tomato salsa. He enjoyed it and had no complaints. I did feel as an improvement to the dish, which looked a little small, that it would have been good to have had the choice to order it as a larger meal option too, for example for it to be served with extras such as sweet potato fries and slaw. This would have enabled him to have experienced the street food style dish, while having a larger meal to enjoy. 

Overall, we enjoyed our meals but definitely felt there was room for improvement in places.  I would be keen to return to order the nachos again and sample some of the other vegetarian dishes too. I would also be interested to try it during the daytime to see how it compared in terms of atmosphere but also to enable my little boys to sample the kid's menu too. 

Disclaimer: We were very kindly invited for a meal in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Treat Your Mum: 2019 Mother's Day Gift Guide

If you're looking for that beautiful and unique gift to present to your mum this Mother's Day, or perhaps are looking for something special for yourself, then look no further with my 2019 Mother's Day Gift Guide! 

Full Scroll Heart Engraved Locket
This stunning silver locket from Engravers Guild of London will surely be treasured forever. It's made from solid sterling silver and has an intricate hand engraved design on the front. It can be engraved on the reverse with a personalised message or names of loved ones, making this the perfect keepsake for any special mum. Find one and explore the range here.

silver locket
Personalised Heart Handle Mug
Every mum loves snuggling on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and with this cute and uniquely designed mug from I Just Love It, she will enjoy it even more. The mug has a fun heart shaped handle and a gorgeous pink heart design on both sides. What's more, it can be personalised with your own choice of text on both sides in a handwriting effect font! Find one here!

heart mug

Howarth Cotton Traders Cotton Duvet Set
Your mum deserves to relax and with this stunning duvet set from Howarth she'll enjoy the comfiest of nights. This 200 thread count duvet cover is beautifully soft and has a really lovely soft green leaf print design. On the front, it features the leaf design on a natural base and on the reverse it features the design on a green base. She can relax in comfort and style this Mother's Day! Find one here!

green duvet cover

Blue Wave Covered Bowl
If your mum enjoys cooking, then this unique and stylish covered bowl from Sous Chef will make a real feature in any kitchen and at any dining table. It's designed to keep food warm on the journey from kitchen to table and has a really interesting blue textured design on the outside and inside. What's more, it can be teamed with matching items from the range too! Find yours here.

blue covered bowl
Snowdonia Cheese Gift Pack
If your mum enjoys luxurious cheese, perhaps teamed with that perfect glass of red wine, she will love to receive a gift pack from Snowdonia cheese. This one features The Black Bomber; a wonderful, award-winning extra mature cheddar as well as the delicious Red Storm, a Red Leicester cheese which packs a real punch!. They are both designed in a smart wax coating and presented in a black display box! The question is, will she share them or keep them for herself? Find out more here.

Goes To Sleep Book
For any mum with young children, is there anything in the world more desired than a good night's sleep? With this beautiful book you truly can give the gift of sleep. It's designed to support little ones with their bedtime routine and to encourage them to drift off into a sound sleep. The book can be personalised, firstly with their name and also via the illustrations in the book so they can actually feature within in it! You can leave them a dedication and even have their photo printed at the front too. The book uses methods from world renowned hospitals, The Children's Sleep Charity and sleep specialists too! Find out more here!

For more gift inspiration, why not check out my 2018 Mother's Day gift guide too?

*I was kindly sent these items in exchange for an honest review
Monday, 4 March 2019

To The Moon and Stars

As you approach your sixth birthday, I wanted to write to you to tell you how loved you are and how proud I am of you but each time I try, I wonder whether my words are enough. The other day, out of curiosity and anticipation of the funny answer you might provide, I asked you if you knew what love is. You said it was 'something to do with the heart' (your brother argued that actually it was something to do with the park but that's another story!). You were right of course. It is. Love is everything wonderful and happy; it's warm and it's tender and it's as fierce as it is gentle. But it goes beyond all this, to somewhere unknown, to an all encompassing, unfathomable place. For me, it creeps into my pores, it sneaks up on me and makes me catch my breath. It is the flip of my heart when I see the school is calling me for some reason. It's the protectiveness I feel when someone says you're quiet (you've an inner confidence that I'm so proud of). It's in the second before I hear the sound of your breath when I check on you in the night. It's the panic when I lose sight of you for a few seconds. It's woven into the trust I have to place in others when I hand you over to the school each day. It's in my most terrifying and scariest thoughts. It's in the giggles and in the tears. It's there when I'm asleep and when I'm awake, when my mind is on other things and when it's solely on you. It's out of my control now. It's in the silence, it's in the guilt, it's in the calm and it's in the storm. It's the happy and it's the sad, it's the hurt and the fear. It's what life is now.

Everyday, I stand on the edge looking down, knowing this life is as fragile as a whisper. And I fall for you over and over. You were the one that tore my heart wide open, that made me both stronger than I knew I could be but also more vulnerable. Love is all of this. It was and it always is. A trillion times over and over. But I don't say any of this to you. I will simply summarise with 'I love you'.

 Happy Birthday Bump. 

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Celebrating World Shakespeare Week With Viking

This week I've been exploring my creative side with Viking! Shakespeare week runs from March 18th to 25th and to celebrate Viking kindly sent me some writing supplies and the fun challenge of creating a literary design! 

After reading some of Shakespeare's famous quotes, poems and sonnets, I felt inspired to create my own. I wanted to create something for my little boy to keep and put in his memory box. A couple of weeks ago I created a post called To The Moon And Stars: an open letter to my little boy as he turned six years old. I decided to try and turn aspects of this into a poem for him. Here is the result: 

I had a great time celebrating Shakespeare week. Have you been creative recently? I'd love to read your poems! 

*Disclaimer: We were kindly sent a box of writing supplies for this campaign
Friday, 1 March 2019

Exploring My First Calendar From Danilo

My little boy has always had a bit of a fascination with our family calendar. He loves asking me to point out today's date and also loves to read out what events I've written down for the week. Quite often I find he's added his own entries in just in case I forget the movie night and popcorn he was promised, for example! I've been looking for a suitable child-friendly calendar that I could buy for him (as well as his little brother) for some time but until now I've not found anything suitable and so I was thrilled when we were invited to review My First Calendar By Danilo!

My First Calendar is an interactive, reusable calendar that helps your child to learn all about the days of the week, times of the day, months of the year, weather, seasons and the temperature too. The calendar is aimed at pre-schoolers and key stage one children and comes in one of three designs; Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and PJ Masks. The colours are bright and appealing for young children and feature many of their favourite characters.

The calendar enables you and your child to select the day and month by rotating the two card discs. The date can be recorded using the provided pen. The time of the day as well as the current weather can be selected by turning the arrows and the temperature can be selected by moving a magnet. The season can be selected by displaying one of the 4 cards, each with a themed picture. Finally, each day of the week is displayed with space to record you appointments and plans. 

There are so many interactive features to this calendar that both my little boys have been transfixed with it. It's the first thing they do when they come down for breakfast in the morning! I've been so pleased with My First Calendar; it's fun and educational and what's more, it can be used year after year! We loved it! 

*Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted a My First Calendar, in exchange for an honest review.