Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The #ACEforschool Challenge!

I quite possibly have one of the grubbiest school children in all the land! He doesn't start off that way but when he returns home, more often than not, he's covered in paint stains, food stains, grass stains, mud stains, you name it! It seems to be getting increasingly difficult to remove the stains from him clothes, particularly when he gets warm and so takes off his school jumper to reveal his crisp white shirt! So, when he were invited to take part in the #ACEforSchool Challenge, it was a bit of a no brainer; ACE Colours and ACE stain remover are designed to keep garments brighter, cleaner and stain free. I couldn't wait to give it ago. 


ACE, bottles

My little boy seems to always have a grubby shirt collar too (I promise, he does wash!) and so I used some of the ACE Stain Remover spray on each of the collars and then popped a cap full of the ACE Colours in the washing machine, on top of the load. 



When the wash was finished and dried, the shirts definitely seemed brighter and cleaner. I wish I had known about it sooner as I recently bought him all new shirts as I couldn't seem to effectively remove the stains in his older ones.

Whenever I spot a new stain now (and let's face it, this will probably be daily), I'm going to pop some of the ACE Stain Remover Spray on the stains as well as popping a cap full of the ACE cleaner in each wash. 

Although I'm destined to never see the bottom of my laundry basket again, I can be reassured that the washing that does get done won't then need to be repeated due to those stubborn stains! 


shirt, trousers, washing





*This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper. www.acecleanuk.co.uk or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.
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Sunday, 14 October 2018

A Very Special Evening at The Victoria Inn, Barnt Green

Last week I was invited to experience a meal at The Victoria Inn, Barnt Green, which has been newly refurbished. I invited my mum along and together we were able to sample their new Autumn/ Winter menu. As soon as we arrived it was clear that we were in for a real treat. You could almost taste the excitement in the air as we arrived. The staff were clearly thrilled with the new renovations and couldn't wait to show us. It was so wonderful to see how much pride the staff had in The Victoria Inn, you couldn't fail to be excited too!

When we first entered, my first (and lasting!) impressions were of a warm, sleek and beautifully designed pub. There had clearly been a lot of thought behind the refurbishment and the decor was exceptional. The colours, from the upholstery right down to the candle holders, complimented each other really well. There really was so much attention to detail throughout the pub.



Our first stop was to the bar where I opted for a Porn Star Martini, complete with a slice of passionfruit and a shot of prosecco, whereas my mum chose a refreshing lemon mocktail drink. We then settled in the bar area next to a fireplace. The room was basked in a warm glow, we felt relaxed at once!

We were then served with a sample plate of different starters and mains. It was absolutely beautifully presented. Being a vegetarian, I didn't try all of the options but it my mum was able to confirm they were delicious. I loved the brie bites!


Once we had finished here we were seated at our table. I loved the room we were sat in, it was down a few steps from the bar and so had a really intimate, cosy feel. We both felt it would be a wonderful room to dine in if attending as a party or with a larger group of friends/ family. 

It was time for our starters! I chose the Deep-fried Brie as I had enjoyed the earlier sample so much and Mum chose the Thyme-roasted Portobello mushrooms. When they arrived  they were absolutely beautifully presented and they both tasted great too. I really liked the sweet chutney mine was served with, it complimented the brie perfectly!



Our main courses also did not disappoint. I chose the Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Tart and Mum chose the Roasted Pork Belly. My tart was packed full of vegetables and they tasted so fresh. With each mouthful I seemed to discover a new taste or find a new vegetable. It was topped with a Cropwell Bishop Custard and a Stilton and walnut crumb which were both really tasty. I had initially wondered whether I should order a side to go along with it but I'm really glad I didn't as the tart had plenty of different aspects to it. Delicious! I must admit that many times when we go out to eat, I'm often a little bit disappointed with my choice because, being a vegetarian, the options can be a little limited or I feel like I could have cooked something similar at home, but I can honestly say, I was really pleased with my main. It was interesting and something a little different from the usual vegetarian options that are served in pubs. What's more, there was even a whole vegan menu! I was also really tempted by the Spiced Coconut Curry.



After this we even went for a pudding (I was still full the next day!) and I decided to try the Belgian Chocolate Brownie and Mum chose the Peanut Chocolate Bomb. I'm really fussy with brownies; if the texture is too much like cake or too dry I quickly lose interest but this one was as gooey as I'd hoped for! Mum's chocolate bomb looked amazing. It is served as a round chocolate shell and then hot, salted caramel sauce is poured on to it, melting it and revealing the sticky toffee pudding inside. What a treat!! I also had another Porn Star Martini seeing as mum was driving!!



Our evening was wonderful. The staff remained enthusiastic and attentive throughout and we felt really at home  The pub hadn't opened officially at this point so there were only a handful of others attending but yet it had a fantastic atmosphere! I'm confident it will have a real buzz now it has officially opened! 

One thing is for sure, both me and Mum will be back. We both have December birthdays coming up so it would be brilliant to celebrate them here. I imagine there is a really magical atmosphere during the festive period too. 

So, if you're looking for somewhere a little bit special, I wholeheartedly recommend The Victoria Inn. I'm sure they will have no end of success. What an exciting time for them! Thank you for having us! 





Disclaimer: We were invited along to The Victoria Inn to experience the new refurbishment and were kindly provided with our meals and drinks in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own (and Mum's!).
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Our Smoothie Movie Night With Num Noms

Is there anything better than drawing the curtains and snuggling up with your little ones for a snuggly, cosy movie night? Well last weekend that's just what we did! 

We were invited to have a Smoothie Movie Night with Num Noms and so were sent a Num Noms Snackables Silly Shakes Maker and some goodies to help us create the perfect movie night! The boys were so excited to get started. 


Firstly we made some glittery, coloured slime with the Silly Shakes Maker. I've never seen two little boys more excited! Firstly you add some clear slime to the mixing bowl and then you select a colour , as well as a glitter to add. You then place the bowl under the mixer and turn the handle to mix it all together! So pretty! 


The slime is then placed into a bottle and squeezed into a Silly Shake Cup. And there you have it! Your child has their very own slime! 


Next, it was time to snuggle down under our new soft blanket and watch a film. The boys chose Peter Rabbit which they thoroughly enjoyed! They were treated to some sweets and a milkshake too.


My toddler really loved the Num Noms Lights Surprise Jar which contained a cuddly, soft, light up Num Nom. He's been carrying it around all week!

We had a perfect evening and now the evenings are starting to get darker I think there might just be a few more in store! 


Disclaimer: We were sent a Num Noms Snackables Silly Shakes Maker, a Num Noms Lights Surprise Jar, a Google Play voucher and some movie night goodies in exchange for an honest review.
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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Keep Your Home Cosy This Winter

Have you caved and put on your central heating yet? I know we have! Now that Autumn is here and winter is on it's way it's time to start thinking about the best and most money efficient ways to keep your home cosy and warm this winter. Here are five ways you can prepare your home for the cooler months...

hat, blanket, woman

New Windows
Windows can lose heat easily. Energy efficient glazing can reduce heat loss by eliminating cold spots and draughts. New windows will ensure your energy bills are reduced but will increase the comfort of your home!

Underfloor Heating
For an added bit of luxury as well as an efficient and cost effective way to heat your home, underfloor heating is increasingly popular these days. It can work as a space-saving alternative to radiators. There are two main types; electric underfloor heating known as a dry system and water underfloor heating known as a wet system.

Log burners
Not only do they make great focal points but they can help you save on your energy bills. It's important to do your research to ensure it is used safely and responsibly but they are more efficient and cleaner than open fire places.

Add insulation
Adding insulation will lower your utility bills. Loft insulation for example, will last around 40 years making it a very cost effective solution in helping to keep your home warm. There are many ways to insulate your home including, loft, cavity wall,  floor, solid wall as well as insulating tanks, pipes and radiators. You can find out more by visiting the Energy Saving Trust

Seal Any Draughts
This is one of the cheapest ways to improve the warmth of your home. Heat is quickly lost when warm air exits through small gaps meaning you'll use a lot of energy in reheating your home. When a home is draught-free, rooms will stay cosy for longer. Small gaps can be found around windows and doors, around loft hatches, from unused chimneys and around pipes leading to outside, for example. You can opt for professional draught-proofing but DIY draught-proofing will be cheaper! 


*Collaborative post
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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Tips and Tricks for When Chicken Pox Strikes

A couple of months ago the boys both caught chicken pox. I had literally just been chatting to a friend at playgroup about how they seemed to have avoided it every time a cousin or friend caught it. Lo and behold, that very day, my eldest came home from school with a couple of spots! And so the next couple of weeks meant we had to firstly ride out this bout of chicken pox as well as to wait for his little brother to catch it, which he inevitably did!

Chicken pox isn't nice but it's something that most little ones will catch at one time or another so it's good to be prepared. I've put together a few little tips and tricks we used at the time that certainly seemed to help. It was a long few weeks!! 


~Unfortunately, until all the spots have scabbed over, your child will still be contagious and that means that like it or not, they (and you!) are going to be housebound. Keeping a stock of colouring books, crayons and sticker books can be a lifesaver. Most pound shops will stock these.


Chicken pox, colouring

~If ever there was a time to use the power of Cbeebies, this is it! There's no harm in letting them snuggle on the sofa watching some of their favourite shows. Chances are they won't feel up to much either. 
 
~Purchase a cooling gel or lotion. We were kindly sent some Virasoothe to use which helps to cool and soothe irritated and itchy skin. By taking away the itchiness, your child will be less likely to scratch away, irritating the skin further. 


Virasoothe

~Run them an oat bath! This is really soothing on their skin, relieving itching. Just pour some oats into an old stocking and pop under the running water! 
 
~Keep refreshed! Drinking water is always a good thing to help aid their body's recovery. If their mouth is sore from spots, ice lollies can help cool the area, all the while keeping them hydrated!


*We were very kindly sent a survival pack from Care Virasoothe featuring a colouring book, flask, candle, bath toys and clothes, perfect for helping us all get through the fortnight!
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Finding Mini Beasts With Anthisan!

When I was little I used to spend hours in the garden with my brother finding different bugs and so I've always been keen for my children to do the same. Not only does it teach them about the array of different insects out there but it is also a good lesson in being respectful of different living creatures and their habitats. Whenever we are out and about, the boys are always on the lookout for little creatures, carefully lifting up stones, looking under bark or peering into long grass! When Anthisan got in touch to see if we would like take part with their campaign to celebrate the great outdoors, I knew this was an opportunity not to miss. We were kindly sent an the Ultimate Bug-opedia, full of fascinating facts and photos to help identify bugs as well as a nature exploring kit containing a lamp and torch, bug jar, net and magnifying glass; the perfect kit for my mini explorers! 

bug-opedia

explorer kit,

The boys have taken the magnifying glass out everywhere since the summer and we've really loved trying to identify the different bugs we find. We seem to have so many ladybirds in our garden! It was so fascinating to take a closer look at them too with the magnifying glass and bug jar! 

bugs, exploring

My boys have always loved playing outside but this year they have become more aware that they are sharing their garden with a whole host of insects. They've also become more aware that certain bugs such as wasps and bees will give them an unpleasant sting if they're not careful. For bites and stings, Anthisan Bite and Sting Cream is a great remedy, effectively relieving the pain, irritation and inflammation they cause. For two curious, outdoor-loving little ones, bites and stings are almost inevitable and so it gives me great peace of mind to have Anthisan cream close to hand just in case!
anthisan



Disclaimer: We were kindly send a nature explorer kit and Bug-opedia in order to take part with this campaign
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Friday, 5 October 2018

Why Boredom Can Be A Good Thing!

We've all heard the dreaded words; 'I'm bored' from our children. In fact, in a study conducted by BIC as part of it's Young Artist Award, it was determined that children can complain about being bored up to 122 a month! But did you know that boredom can actually be a good thing for a child? It helps develop their imaginations and creativity!

The study also found that children have just 3 hours a day away from screens with two thirds of parents feeling guilty about the amount of screen time their child has. As a result of this, parents try to find more traditional approaches to combat their child's boredom. Dr Martin Stephen, renowned child education specialist, states that "It’s all about getting a good balance. Creativity can be encouraged via digital games but it’s important that we continue to develop core skills such as drawing and writing as it’s been proven that these skills aid creativity and imagination". 


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. And so whenever I hear the words, 'Mum, I'm bored!' I point them in the direction of the crayons and paper!



*This is a collaboration with Bic. They sent me some Bic goodies to giveaway. Just pop over to my Facebook page to enter! 
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Sunday, 30 September 2018

Create an Autumn Themed Interior For Your Home

Oh Autumn, how I love thee! Now, it's no secret that I love the spring and summer (I practically hibernate in the winter) but I also find autumn completely captivating. There's something so deliciously magical about this season with its shades of red, orange and gold, with its crisp cool mornings and the crunch of leaves underfoot! I just love it. And so, it always feels right to bring a little of the autumn indoors, almost like a little shrine to the goddess of all seasons! So here are my five steps to creating a glorious autumnal theme within your home... 


Candles
Using candles creates a soft and warm ambiance in your home. Choosing scented candles will also help to set the autumnal mood, you'll feel just like you're on a woodland walk! 


Colours
Shades of red, orange and gold are perfect for recreating the magic of autumn in your home. Why not add some throws and cushions in these shades to your living room? It will feel so warm and cosy!

Nature 
Literally bring some of the outdoors inside by making a feature of natural objects including acorns, leaves, pine cones and conkers. These can be displayed around candles, placed in vases or you could even get crafty and make them into a beautiful autumn wreath!


Lighting 
Now the nights are starting to draw in, the afternoons and evenings can become a little duller. Rather than using the main lights to brighten your home, lamps can make a wonderful feature enabling you to create a warm and glowing atmosphere, perfect for snuggling up with this autumn. I love this table lamp from Furnish Your Home. The copper finish is perfectly in keeping with autumn colours and the birdcage design is really unique and casts a patterned effect across the room. 

Flowers
Flowers are one of the easiest and loveliest ways to brighten your home. Whether you prefer fresh or artificial you can create beautiful bouquets to display in an array of reds, yellows, golds and pinks. Sunflowers, chrysanthemums, carnations and germini are perfect for this time of year.



So there you have it, a few little ways to bring create a beautiful autumn themed interior for your home. Stay tuned for a Christmas themed post coming soon! 

*This post was written in collaboration. 
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Monday, 24 September 2018

Grab Some Autumn Sunshine With These Top Destinations

I think it's safe to say that Autumn has arrived. I finally caved in and put the heating on this week and my dressing gown is also making a regular appearance every evening. Oh, how I've missed it! However, as much as I love this time of year; the colours, the crisp air, Halloween, bonfire night and the countdown to Christmas, I sure do miss the sunshine! And so I've been looking up October half term breaks abroad to catch some warm sunshine before winter well and truly sets in. Here are some of my favourites...

Sissi,Crete 
For a holiday with charm and character aplenty, Sissi is the ideal destination. Located in a picturesque fishing village. This sleepy village is perfect for relaxing in as well as dining in the outstanding restaurants. 



Benidorm, Spain
There are some great deals on offer in Benidorm.  Benidorm Holidays are perfect for families, friends and couples as there are plenty of soft sandy beaches and it's also buzzing with activity. There won't be time to be bored!



Algarve, Portugal
Situated on the southwest tip of Portugal, the Algarve enjoys year-round warm weather. There's a surplus of wonderful sandy beaches. There are also fine restaurants to enjoy, a lively nightlife and colourful market stalls to explore. 



Paphos, Cyprus
With an array of beautiful palm-fringed beaches, you'll be spoiled for choice in Paphos and there is also the opportunity to explore historical temples, forts and churches in the old town as well as to learn about the culture and history in one of their twelve museums! 



Are you planning a break away this Autumn, I'd love to hear about it! 

* This post was written in collaboration with Holiday Gems, all opinions are my own





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Thursday, 20 September 2018

10 Tips For A Happy House Move

Moving house can be one of the most stressful activities! There are rooms to declutter, boxes to fill, contracts to sign and furniture to move, to name just a few things! But with a little bit of prior organisation, you can minimise the stress. When we moved house in 2015, I was heavily pregnant and also had a toddler to look after too so we tried to be as organised with everything as we could be. Here are my ten tips for a smooth- sailing, stress free house move! 



Accept help
If people offer and are willing to lend a hand, then that help will be worth it's weight in gold. Make it into a social occasion by offering a cup of tea and free cake in exchange for packing a box. You'll soon have the boxes filled.

Pack a starter kit 
The last thing you will want to do when you arrive at the new house, is have to rummage through boxes to find some essentials. Pack a starter kit containing some useful must-haves in advance and keep it to hand. Items can include toilet rolls, hand soap, tea bags and snacks, for example. 

Pack in advance 
This sounds like a no-brainer but you'll be surprised by just how quickly time flies as you approach the moving date. Start early and try to do a little bit each night until the only things left to pack are the things you are currently using. 

Declutter 
A house move is a great way to have a good clear out. Out with the old and in with the new! Keep a few boxes to one side; one for the charity shop, one for throwing out and even one with items to sell at a later date. When you get to the new house you will only be taking the things you actually want and need. It'll feel great to have the extra space. 

Colour code the boxes 
For each room, decide upon a different coloured or themed sticker and make sure they are placed on the relevant boxes. It will save a lot of time the other end! This is a great activity for little ones to get involved with. My toddler had animal stickers and he loved to stick them to the boxes.

Hire a Mover
One of the best things we did was to hire a removal company. They took the stress out of moving the boxes and larger items out of our house and into the new one. Removal Companies load, transport and unload your belongings and can also assist in the packing and unpacking process. 

Make up your beds
The absolute last thing you will want to be doing after a hard day is to have to put bed sheets and duvet covers on. When you arrive, make this one of the first things you do, then, when you're ready to call it a night you will have beds ready to climb into. 

Prepare an overnight bag
This can contain pyjamas, clean clothes, toothbrushes and toothpaste for example. It will mean you don't need to have to locate it in the many boxes when you arrive. 

Prepare a goody bag
It can be a long, overwhelming and tiring day for little ones. Pack them a mini goody bag with items such as crayons, sticker books, colouring books, a magazine and a notepad to keep them occupied. It doesn't need to be expensive if you buy from pound shops. 

Relax
You don't have to unpack everything all at once. That's the beauty of the days and weeks to come: you can take time to get to know your new home, arranging it in a way that suits you and your family. These things don't need to be rushed. 

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out my fellow blogging friend's page over at Captain Bobcat. You'll love it :)

*Post written in collaboration
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