5 Beautiful Places to Visit in London

12.11.19

London is one the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world, and it's pretty easy to see why. With it's wealth of history and culture, bustling tourist spots and hidden gems, there's just so much to see and do in the city for any kind of traveller. In this post I'm going to share 5 of my favourite places to visit in and around London, to really get the most out of the beautiful city.


Enjoy the Sunset from Waterloo Bridge 
Everyone’s heard the famous Kinks song – but does a Waterloo Sunset still stack up in reality? The answer is of course, yes! If you take a stroll to the middle of the bridge in the evening, you’ll be treated to one of the most iconic views down the Thames. There really is something special about London at night, and this is such a lovely spot to enjoy it.

St Paul's Cathedral
Many of the latest additions to the London skyline epitomise modern splendour, with glass, concrete and steel stretching upwards. But few of these new buildings can come close to the beauty of St Paul’s Cathedral. Whether viewed from the inside or outside, it’s a sight to behold! But if you want enjoy a unique perspective on the surrounding city, make sure you make your way to the top of the building. You won't regret it.

St Pancras Station
If you're passing through King’s Cross, it’s easy to lose sight of just how amazing the station building is. Built mainly from red bricks, and with an enormous clock harkening back to a Victorian era, St Pancras Station is full of the possibilities of industrialisation and adventure. If you’re taking a train to (or out of) the city, make sure to take a moment to soak in your surroundings first!



The London Eye
A trip on the London Eye is a great way to enjoy a special view of the city (so long as the weather is on your side). On a clear day, you’ll be able to see as far as Windsor Castle on the far side of the city. And if you head up at night you’ll be treated to an entirely different spectacle - a must do for sure! London Eye tickets can be secured at discounted rates if you book in advance, so make sure to book before you travel.

Richmond Park
London isn’t just a sprawl of high rises and modernisation, even though it can feel that way sometimes. There are many open green spaces within the city limits, Richmond Park being amongst the best of these. Richmond is the largest Site of Special Scientific Interest in the city, and is packed with deer and green open spaces to explore. During November it’s rutting season, where male deer will be battling one another for the choicest mates. This creates some truly unmissable displays – but just remember you’ll need to keep a safe distance.

Where are your favourite places to visit in London?

This is a collaborative post

Christmas Gift Guide for 2 Year Olds | Christmas 2019


The products featured in this post were sent for inclusion in this gift guide, however all opinions are honest and my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

I am SO excited to start sharing my Christmas gift guides for 2019, starting today with my Christmas gift guide for 2 year olds. Lilah will be turning two just after the festive period, so I thought I'd put together and share a collection of gifts that I know she would absolutely love and enjoy. And hopefully this gives you some inspiration for any little 2 year olds you're shopping for this year!

Chicco Red Bullet Balance Bike

A balance bike is a great first bike to introduce little ones, as it helps them learn to balance on two wheels and gain confidence, before introducing pedals. The Chicco Red Bullet bike is suitable for children aged 2 - 5, as it features a height adjustable handlebar and saddle so it grow with your child. It's also made from super-light metal making it easy to take out and about - I could hook this onto the pram handle for trips to the park or if she got tired riding.



I absolutely love gifting books, and these personalised books from The Personalised Gift Shop are absolutely beautiful. You can pick between either the alphabet and numbers set or the shapes and colours set, and both come presented in these lovely gift boxes. The books are great for teaching little ones; making it much more fun with the addition of their name throughout the books. They are made of hardwearing material so they should stand the test of time against toddlers too.


Orchard Toys Number Street Puzzle

We are huge Orchard Toys fans in our house, but we actually don't own any of their puzzles yet! This Number Street puzzle is made up of 20 colourful chunky pieces, so they're easy for little hands to hold as well as hardwearing. It is suitable for ages 2-5 as there are different elements to enjoy as your child grows. Little ones can develop their hand-eye coordination by doing the puzzle, and then they can learn their numbers, counting and even animals through the pictures too.


JoJo Maman Bebe - Stacking Jungle Animals

These stacking animals from JoJo Maman Bebe would make a perfect stocking filler or small gift. The box has 11 beautifully painted wooden animals (including an elephant, tiger, giraffe and panda), that can be stacked on top of each other, or just simply used for imaginative play. They are a great size for little hands, plus a perfect size to pop into a changing bag to use when out and about!


WowWee Baby Shark Singing Doll

If like me, you haven't been able to escape the Baby Shark obsession, then this Baby Shark singing doll from WowWee would be the perfect gift! You can choose between Mummy, Daddy and Baby Shark, and they all sing 4 verses of the well loved song. What's extra fun about this doll is that the speed of the singing is determined by how fast (or slow) you open the sharks mouth. Baby Shark is super cuddly too, so even if you don't want to hear the song, he'll make a lovely snuggle companion.


Addo Woodlets Shape Sorter

You cannot beat a well-made wooden toy, so this Woodlets shape sorter from Addo would make a lovely gift this Christmas. Perfect for developing your little ones fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, it's a great way of teaching skills through play. I love that the shapes are different colours, which then match the colour around the correct hole on the cube, as it not only adds a touch of colour to the toy, but also makes colour recognition another skill they can learn too!


Baby Annabell Collection

Lilah, like a lot of little ones I know, is absolutely baby obsessed. So this Little Baby Fun Doll and Travel Cocoon Carrier from Baby Annabell, is going to be the perfect gift for her this Christmas! The 36cm doll is the perfect size for 2 year olds who are just starting to play with dolls, and features lifelike functions and sounds, as well as sleeping eyes when laid down. This doll also comes with a fabric nappy, cloth and milk bottle for really immersive imaginative play! As your toddler gets more confident with their play, you can introduce this lovely carrier so they can carry baby around just like you did! It is great for children of all sizes as it's adjustable and has a cushioned waist strap.


B. Toys Toulouse Lap Trec

This beautiful magnetic sketch board from BrightMinds is a great gift option for a 2 year old. No need to worry about them scribbling all over the wall / table, as they use the special magnetic pen (or one of the animal stampers) to make their creation instead. Then by simply sliding the green ladybird gently, the picture is gone and they can start all over again! The special addition on this B. Toys board is the bean bag cushion on the back, which makes it much more comfortable to place on your lap whilst drawing.


JoJo Maman Bebe - Fleur Personalised Push-Along Pram

If you are looking for a super special gift, then this Fleur push-along wooden pram is the perfect choice. Not only does it look beautiful with it's white frame and delicate detail, but you can also have the floral hood personalised with an embroidered name. How lovely is that? Of course it doesn't just look lovely - it's also smooth and sturdy to push, plus it's heavy enough to not tip over which can be a problem with flimsy plastic toy pushchairs.


I hope this has given you some inspiration for Christmas gifts for 2 year olds this year. Let me know what you're buying your little ones!

Is Winter the Best Time to get Married?

8.11.19

Getting engaged is such an incredibly exciting moment in your life. Prosecco will be popped, you’ll be congratulated by all of your friends and family, and showing off your beautiful new ring on your finger. But when do you start planning the big day? And when actually is the best time to get married?

A lot of people pick the date dependent on a special occasion - the engagement date, the date of your first date, etc. But a lot will pick their favourite time of year and then a date. If you are dead set against a long engagement, you will you have to think of how long it will take you to plan and prepare a wedding for the following year. Is waiting until the next one just that little bit too long? Plus there’s a much better chance that you can secure your dream venue faster if you book further in advance, or choose an off-peak date to get married.

There is something truly magical about a winter wedding. This collection - https://www.manorbythelake.co.uk/weddings/winter-wedding-collection/ (put together by Manor By the Lake) has so many beautiful, inspirational ideas. Not only is a winter wedding a very classy option, but it has the distinct advantage of having no weather pressure. Instead of scanning weather reports weeks in advance, and hoping right up until the day itself that the sun will make an appearance, you can relax, knowing that you have put every provision in place for the winter to do its worst.


You might be worried that there will be fewer options for flowers come the winter months but there are still many fabulous options. The deep reds will look very striking against a white dress, and there are options to include more creative choices in your bouquet. Pine cones, holly springs and even a sprinkling of 'snow' could make a bouquet that extra bit special!

There are some truly beautiful dresses out there for winter too. Of course if you're getting married in the colder months you might want to consider sleeves or extra accessories. However even if the dress you fall in love with is sheer and strapless, you can always accessorise with gorgeous fur stoles, or spangled shawls, long, white satin gloves and you could always wear your thermals underneath - no-one would ever know!

This blog post has some great tips on quashing those pre-wedding nerves. But overall, remember to plan it your way (and that includes holding it at whatever time of year you like). Come rain or shine, your wedding will be fine, and perfect for you.

This is a collaborative post.

Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Royal Snow Ball Jewellery Box Dozen | Review

6.11.19


We have been huge Hatchimals fans in our house ever since the first series was released, so when we were asked to review the new CollEGGtibles Royal Snow Ball Jewellery Box Dozen, Indiana was over the moon! The Royal Snow Ball (and Royal Hatch) figures are from collection 6 and 6.5, where there are over a dozen new characters to discover and hatch. 

What you Get

We received the CollEGGtibles Royal Snow Ball Jewellery Box Dozen, which contains 12 figures inside a sparkly glitter 'egg-box' style container. Two of the figures are eggless (and are exclusive Fluffy Kittycans), and then there are 10 different eggs to hatch and discover. You will also find a helpful collector sheet inside too, to help you see what your Hatchimals are called.




There are four different types of CollEGGtibles you can hatch - Common, Royal Rare, Ultra Rare and Limited Edition. You can easily spot what type you have in your box by the colour and design on the egg, although Indie prefers to have a surprise and doesn't check the collector sheet until the end.

The extra special part of the Royal Snow Ball collection, is that each egg also has a hidden accessory inside too! You can get your characters ready for the Royal Snow Ball with crowns, tutus, snowmen, and even little hats. These can then be mix and matched between all of the Hatchimals you have hatched. How cute! 




How to Open your Hatchimal Eggs

Opening your Hatchimals CollEGGtibles is so so easy (and actually lots of fun too!). To start hatching all you need to do is hold your egg gently, and then rub the purple heart until it turns pink.


This will help soften the shell, so you can then gently press down to crack the shell to reveal who you've hatched! 


You can then peel away the rest of the shell until you are left with just the bottom, which can then be used as a little home for your Hatchimal. Just make sure to remove all of the peeled shell before play.

You can then go through the collector sheet to see which of the Hatchimal characters you have hatched. There's even a handy tick box next to each one so you can keep track of your collection. The Jewellery Box Dozen we received retails at around £24.99, but it is a great way to start your collection. You can also purchase individual packs, multipacks and more accessories.



The thing I love most about the Royal Snow Ball Jewellery Box Dozen, is that the fun doesn't just stop once the eggs are hatched. The box itself can actually be used for play and storage! Your Hatchimals can be kept in the egg carton, and then you can lift this to reveal a secret compartment for the accessories. The bits are quite small and fiddly, so hopefully this would be a way to stop anything getting lost.




We received this item in exchange for our review. However all opinions are honest and my own.

Staring School | Parker's First Term in Reception

4.11.19

We're now a term into Parker's first year at school, so I thought I'd share a little update on how he's settling in and getting on, now that those first weeks are over with. I wrote a similar post for Indiana last year, and it's so interesting to see how different they are already!


As you know Parker only turned 4 in August. With Indie she was almost 5 when she started, so I wasn't too worried about her, but I was really nervous about Parker's school journey starting with him being so so little. But actually, he has taken to the big change incredibly well. From his first day (when he was only doing half days) he has come out excited and full of stories of his day. He loves both his teacher and his TA, and has already formed lots of little friendships within his class.

Parker is also learning so much already, and can already recognise lots of his phonics and spell his name. He had absolutely no desire to learn before starting school, so this has been so lovely to watch, and his teacher has told us that he's keen to learn which is great. We even got his very first reading book home last weekend which seems like a big milestone! For me sometimes it does feel like history is repeating itself, as I only did the whole reception year last year. But it does still feel exciting and special because Parker is loving it and learning so much.


The last few weeks haven't been all smooth sailing though. We've had a few little issues with behaviour and listening, but honestly that's nothing new for us. He's got a group of boys he plays with, and I can definitely imagine them getting into mischief and messing around in places like phone booths in the future. He is still so little though, and as each week passes his behaviour is improving, so here's hoping we have a much better term!

We have Parker's first parent's evening this week, so I cannot wait to hear more about how he's getting on and see his books and work. We are so proud of how well he's settled into school life, and I just hope he keeps his excitement for school for a long time yet. 

This is a collaborative post.

How to Squash those Wedding Day Nerves

31.10.19

Even if you've planned a very low-key affair, your wedding day is always going to be a huge event. It’s the union of two people, which is something to be celebrated no matter if you follow tradition or prefer something of your own making! But no matter what you have planned, even with everything sorted and all the plans in place, it is completely normal to feel nervous and anxious on the day itself.

Therefore there's absolutely no shame in planning or emotionally preparing for your wedding day, In fact many people (both male and female) consider this absolutely necessary. After all, experiencing the day with nothing but anxiety and a little worry, no matter how irrational, can somewhat put a dampener on things! But hopefully after reading this post, you'll come away feeling a little bit more relaxed, as I'm going to share my top pieces of advice to help you emotionally prepare for your wedding day.


Self-Care
Self-care is an important practice to keep on top of, especially in the months leading up to your wedding day. Many brides feel the need to lose weight before the big day, but this isn't necessary at all. But making sure YOU feel confident and happy on the day is essential. Taking the time to find comfortable and well-fitting underwear to wear under your dress can make a huge difference.

If you feel stressed, care for yourself. Take it easy. Spend some time reflecting, or time engaged in a restorative practice that can help you feel like much more of yourself. You would be stunned as to just how effective this can be, and how regularly practiced this can reduce your stress and anxiety by several levels, if not nullifying it completely. Why not even head to a spa for the day with a sibling or friends, to help you relax and switch off from all things wedding for a while. 

Visualisation
No matter how well you plan your wedding day, you can never be one hundred percent sure that things will go completely to plan. Things such as the weather are completely unpredictable! But that small slice of doubt can lead us to stress over the most minor details. This is where visualisation might help. Simply sitting back and thinking about the wedding going well, about the ceremony you’re to have, about bonding with your family members can really help relax your mind. This way you can feel the day becoming a success, and it also helps you subvert your subconscious worry while thinking about the day as something possible and wonderful to experience.

The Best Services
The age-old story of ‘you get what you pay for’ is perhaps most illustrated when it comes to any wedding day. You are only going to have this special day once, so you'll want to have and use the best! Using a professional service such as that offered by Vittore Buzzi would be a great choice, as you will you know beyond anything else that you are in good hands - and then you can feel much less worried about how the day is experienced too.
Wedding Rehearsals
A wedding rehearsal can really help you prepare for the day. Not every one will be able to make it to your wedding rehearsal, but it can give you the chance to show the photographer around, ensure that the catering services are able to set up in preparation, and make sure that everyone knows where their seating is. This will hopefully iron out any kinks that may have been causing you to worry previously,  plus it will be a good chance to catch up with your wedding party before the big day too!

Speak About your Nerves
Bottling up your emotions is never a good thing, and so if you do feel true anxiety or worry, then speaking about it to your family or spouse can be important. You could also try using natural remedies such as Kalms or Rescue Relief to help you gain a better standard of sleep, and help reduce your nerves on the day. Speaking about your nerves is important, because simply releasing them can stop those little thoughts and emotions from bouncing around your mind too much. If things are really worrying you though, then it might be a good idea to visit your Doctor.


Meet Some of your Guests Prior
For some, a wedding day may be the time in which they reconnect with their family, or friends that they haven’t seen in some time. When reconnecting with these people on your actual wedding day, you may find your nerves a little heightened. After all, we all feel just a little more alert when meeting someone after a long time, even if you used to be super close.

It might be worth going for a coffee with a distant family member before, speaking to them on the phone, ensuring that you know who they are bringing as their plus one and even adding them as a friend on social media can be important. This way the social arrangement of your wedding day needn’t be cause for additional concern.

Feelings of Guilt
It’s not uncommon for brides to feel a sense of guilt on their wedding day, especially if they’re not used to being the centre of attention. But when you think about it, although your wedding day is going to be the biggest day of your life, it's just another lovely day for everyone else. So don't feel too stressed about making everything perfect, as long as it is for you. Everyone is likely going to have a great time, and one day in your lifetime where you are able to celebrate yourself and your marriage is more than acceptable!

Hopefully this has helped you feel a bit more relaxed about you big day, and good luck!
This is a collaborative post.

5 Steps for a Cosy Home this Autumn

30.10.19

With the Autumn / Winter seasons setting in, now is the perfect time to get your home feeling cosy.  Of course turning on the heating and lighting some candles will make a difference, but there's a lot more you can actually do to make your home feel cosy and warm. In this post I'm going to share 5 ways you can make your home feel cosy and inviting this year.

Bedding
Crisp bedding and linen are ideal for when it’s warm outside, but with cold weather being just around the corner, you might want to try and choose flannel instead. You need sheets that hold the warmth in, while also keeping the cold out. Fabrics such as flannel or even jersey are ideal and if you want to take things to that next level, then you can easily fold a quilt or even a blanket at the foot of your bed. If you enjoy talking on the phone in bed, why not buy a telephone that’s cordless so you can relax more?

Slippers
Nobody likes to have cold feet - especially in the winter. Snuggly slippers or slipper socks are definitely essential for the colder months. Keep a pair by the front door, so that you can change into them as soon as you walk in the door. Ideally a hard-soled pair are best as you can wear them outside without them being damaged.


Pillows and Throws
Nothing quite compares to big, fluffy pillows and throws. Consider adding a selection of throw pillows to the your bed and sofa. If you aren’t quite sure which fabric you should be going for, then rich velvet, knit cable and other warm fabrics are all great choices. Blankets and throws on the bed or sofa are great for snuggling under when it's especially cold too.

Rugs
Sisal and even flat-weave rugs are fantastic if it’s warm outside. In winter on the other hand, they are not the ideal choice. If you don’t have the budget to get a big area rug, then you might want to layer a lot of small rugs in strategic spots. This could include putting them next to the bed, underneath the coffee table or even in your favourite reading spot. Keeping it warm underfoot will definitely help with the cosiness of your home.

Soft Lighting
When the days grow darker, it can feel like it's much later than it actually is. If you want to make yourself feel better when it gets colder outside, then consider investing in some nice, soft lighting. A dimmer switch can go a long way here, as you can adjust the level of brightness to your personal liking. Not using the 'big' light and instead having small lamps or floor lamps will help make a room feel cosy too.

This is a collaborative post.

How to Maximise Space in your Home

29.10.19

Whether you have a small or a large house, it's likely that you still need more space. With a growing family, birthdays, Christmases and school 'creations', the accumulation of 'stuff' is never-ending. No one ever seems to buy something new and throw something away at the same time, so you end up just gathering more and more things until you have a good clear out. If this is the case, and you simply can't bear to part with any possessions, maybe it's time you maximise the space you already have instead!


Open up the Entrance - Maximise the space you have as you walk through the front door, by placing a bench or seating area here if you have room. This is ideal spot for everyone to remove shoes, and put their bags on when rushing off to school. If you don't have the space for a seat, then just placing some hooks on the wall and adding some open shelving will make a big difference.

Maximise Space in the Kitchen - The kitchen is the busiest room of most people's houses, so it needs to be functional. Maximise space with vertical storage shelving, that you can then fill with drawer organisers and food storage containers for your dry goods. If lack of shelving is as issue, then why not purchase 'cupboard steps', so you can stack things such as tins and spices to save space, but while still being able to see everything you have.

Use Clever Storage in the Bathroom - If you have a cupboard then make sure you use it for your towels (much more tidy than a towel rail), and remember that combi boilers save space as they produce both heating and hot water for your home in one appliance. Baskets under the sink, and open shelving behind the door can be handy to store small electrical appliances such as hair straighteners and hairdryers, when not in use.

Buy Furniture Wisely - Maximise space with multifunctional furniture such as ottomans that can hide video game accessories, or coffee tables that feature drawers and open shelving below. Sofa beds create extra sleeping space for when you have guests without having to take up any extra space in the house - ideal for if you don't have a spare room.

Utilise your Child's Room - No matter how old your child is, their room needs to be used for everything from playing and sleeping, to quiet time and studying. Why not hang notice boards to display artwork or assignments on, and get some organisation accessories to keep desks and surrounding spaces free of clutter. Bunk beds are a great space-saver as well as cabin bed as they usually have plenty of storage underneath. Shelves are great for saving floor space too, and can store books, games and any extra clutter your child gathers.

Make the Most of your Bedroom too - Ensure the wardrobes in your bedroom are appropriately used - keep out of season clothing in under bed storage containers (the vacuum kind are the best!) and also invest in organisers which separate type of clothes, accessories, and shoes. If you really need to save space then it might be worth investing in a bed with built in storage - some have built in shelves, or an ottoman style will hold lots more.

This is a collaborative post. 

Should I Call a Professional?

28.10.19

In many ways your home is your blank canvas, so when you are trying to personalise it to suit your tastes, it can feel like there's a lot of things that you need to learn. This is especially true in terms of the DIY fixes and little aspects of a renovation. It's always handy to have these things in your back pocket, but it's also important to know when you shouldn't try to fix things yourself. While you might think that you will save some money in the short term, you may actually end up paying a lot more for it in the end. With this in mind, in this post I'm going to be sharing 4 specific household problems that you should never try to do by yourself!


Plumbing Issues
Even the smallest leak can result in an excessive amount of damage, so it's always best to contact a domestic plumber when it comes to any plumbing issues. The big problem that we can make when we assess a small leak, is thinking that it's insignificant because it is only small. However when it comes to plumbing issues, there's actually a lot going on beneath those walls that you don't know about. So by trying to fix one little area, by breaking through the plasterboard, it could actually cause additional issues that will also need fixing.

Asbestos
If you live in an old home it's likely that there is asbestos laying dormant - especially somewhere like the loft. It was used for years because of its ability to insulate, however it was eventually found to be toxic and definitely needs removing. Stay clear of doing this yourself though, as it can be extremely dangerous to touch and breathe in. Instead call in the professionals who can clear it away safely.

Electrical Issues
There are small electrical problems that we could all probably try and fix ourselves, but if you don't feel confident then calling a professional would probably be a safer option. While we may have all learnt a little bit about circuits in school, it's probably not enough to change a light switch yourself. Especially as when it comes to extending circuits or replacing them, one misstep could cause fatal damage, or injury to yourself or others.

Gas Repairs
Gas is an incredibly dangerous component and one you should definitely avoid tampering with. It might be easy to dismiss, especially if you need to move the oven, or complete a little project that may only take a few minutes to do. But a gas leak is far more dangerous than a water leak. And if you try to make a simple fix like this, you never know the consequences. Carbon monoxide poising being just one tragic outcome.

It's so easy to think that we can fix the vast majority of problems in our house, but we have to know when it's beyond our capabilities. Professionals are there for a reason; don't be afraid to use them!

This is a collaborative post.

5 Ways to Upgrade your Tech on a Budget

25.10.19

With the speed technology evolving it can often feel important to keep up, especially if you work in a digital profession. Of course updating all of your tech constantly would be incredibly expensive (and feel constant!), however there are lots of tips and tricks you can pick up to help you save money. From buying second hand to trading in your old devices, buying new tech doesn't have to be difficult. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to upgrade your tech on a budget.


Buy Second Hand
One of the best ways to upgrade your tech without having to buy at high prices is to purchase things second hand. Although you may have to wait a couple of months for the latest technology, buying second hand is a great way to save as much money as possible. Whether you’re buying off a friend, visiting a second-hand store or you use local sales groups on Facebook, you may be surprised how much money you could save. For a guide to buying tech second hand, you can visit this site here.

Buy on Finance
If you’re looking to buy something that is a little more expensive, but you don’t have the money to buy it upfront, you might want to consider buying it on finance. Although you may end up having to pay more, spreading the cost over a set number of months is a great way to ensure you can afford the tech you’re buying. If you’re looking for more information when it comes to buying products on finance, you can visit this site here.

Trade-In Old Devices
Depending on what you’re buying, you might find that you’re able to trade in your old device. Usually common with mobile phones, this will give you a portion of the funds to put towards the cost. 

Rent Instead of Buy
Another great way to upgrade your tech on a budget is to consider renting instead of buying. Using renting sites such as Difrent Appliance Rentals, you can choose to split the rental cost across a number of months. Although you won’t fully own the product until you complete payment, you will still be able to use and enjoy it while paying it off. You are usually able to exchange to a newer model once your contract is up to, which is another bonus.

Choose a Lower Model
Finally, you might want to consider choosing a lower model. Although there may be something newer and better to choose from, choosing a model that is still above your current piece of tech is a great way to save a little bit of money. Usually, after a new release, older models are dramatically released in cost but the product can be just as good!

This is a collaborative post.

Simple Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

24.10.19

With the clocks going back any day now, and the colder, dark evenings returning. It's completely understandable to feel a little down. I'm sure many of us dread this time of year, and while some of us get mildly depressed during the winter as a consequence, there are those of us who suffer worse, due to a condition called seasonal affective disorder (or SAD for short).


So, if you're prone to low moods during the cold and chilly months, and if you're in need of an uplift, here are some suggestions to help you beat the winter blues.

Light
Especially for those suffering from SAD, the lack of sunlight during the winter is the instigator of depression. We can all feel low when the dark nights set in, so no matter how bad your mood, it could be worth your while adding more lights to your home. Be it extra lamps in your living room or hanging lights on your porch, fill in those spaces where they are more likely to make a difference to you. Of course, remember to use energy-efficient lightbulbs if you follow this idea, as you don't want to see a massive price hike to your electricity bill!

Household Repairs
For all the beauty of winter, there is of course the ugly side too. The chills coming in through ill-fitting doors and windows, the sludge and debris that cause blocked drains, and of course the increased energy bills from the heating, lights and electrical items constantly being switched on. Take some time now to fix some of these issues, so hopefully when the middle of winter arrives, these aren't such a problem.

Think of the Positives
Okay, so it's dark and cold outside, and the rain doesn't help matters when you're outside. But think about the extra bonding time you will spend with your family when you're cooped up inside. Think about the winter foods that will fill your bellies. Imagine the snowball fights you will have with your family (for those of you dreaming of a white Christmas). And on that note, remember that it is almost Christmas! You can have a happy family home despite the seasonal changes, so try to look on the bright side of things too.

Boost your Happiness
Don't isolate yourself, or allow yourself sit around feeling grumpy and blue. Instead do the things that you know will help boost your happiness. Spend time with family and friends. Play games of an evening with your children, and continue with your hobbies (even if it's bad weather!). Lift your mood with the powerful effects of exercise, and eat a healthy diet. And although it's easy said than done with children, try to get plenty of sleep, so you're fully refreshed and energised to take on each day.

By taking these steps, you might just beat those Winter blues and stay smiling all the way through to the Spring. Enjoy!

This is a collaborative post.

Shopping Abroad Made Easy with Splitcha | AD

19.10.19

With Christmas quickly approaching, I'm sure I'm not the other only who is busy buying and prepping presents, and sorting plans for the big day. This will especially be true if you've got loved ones who live abroad, as getting cards and gifts to them is usually be a lot more difficult than just sticking on a First Class stamp and popping it in the post. But this year it doesn't have to be so difficult.


Splitcha are making the whole process much more simple and universal. The hard work of sending products abroad with shipping fees, countless problems and delays will be a thing of the past, as they have found a solution to fix it. How fab is that?

What is Splitcha?

With Splitcha you can shop online (via just one app) as if you were a local. Simply type in what you need and where you need it, and this will be then sent to Splitcha's network of shoppers all over the world who will source the product and arrange delivery in their local country. This is what makes the costs so much cheaper for you. You then transfer costs to a secure escrow (handled by PayPal) where they are safely held until dispatch. Your order will then be dispatched to the address you selected. Simple as that!


What are the Benefits?

There are a number of benefits to shopping this way, such as saving you money, eradicating the need for air-cargo or cross-border shipping (which in turn is beneficial to the environment), and it would be great for if you're moving country or travelling, as you can order items to the country you need. Especially useful is you have young children, as you won't have to take so much luggage with you.

The app is launching in mid-November, however you can already sign up for pre-registration. I think this app is such a clever idea, and it really will make buying and sending products abroad SO much easier. Well done Splitcha!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Achieve a Happier Family Home

Who doesn’t want their family home to be as happy as possible? We all want to have a home that we can enjoy as much as possible, and if you have a family then this is likely going to be even more important. But knowing how to make the home happier can be a challenge. So in this post I'm going to share some of the things that you do to help towards a happier and healthier a family home.


Comfort
No home can be truly happy if it is not comfortable, so that is one of the first things that you will want to look at. Creating comfort is actually easier than you think. Mostly it is a matter of making sure that you have plenty of comfortable, good-quality furniture around (although this alone usually isn't enough). Blankets and cushions add to a cosy and comfortable environment, as well as making sure you can get the room to the best temperature. There's no way you can enjoy a room fully if it's freezing cold!

Cleanliness
Having a clean (although not necessarily super tidy) home is of course very important too. A room won't feel cosy if it's covered in crumbs and cobwebs! Have a look into something Devine #1 Rug Care Service to ensure that your rugs and carpets are perfectly clean - essential for your health as well as making a room look nicer. If you can why not hire a cleaner to come weekly, that way you can keep on top of the jobs a little bit easier - giving you more time to enjoy your home as a family.

Entertainment
It's all well and good your home being comfortable and clean, but if there's nothing to do, it's not going to be a place to enjoy. Electronic devices such as TVs and games consoles are of course a popular choice, but not the only way to entertain. Why not create an arts and crafts area, to encourage your children to be more creative. Or even a cosy book corner with everyone's favourite reads and snuggly blankets - just try and ensure this is in a quieter area of the house, so it's a relaxing place to be.
This is a collaborative post.

4 Things to Consider when Moving House

18.10.19

When you’re planning a move there are a number of things that you should be considered beforehand. Along with all the planning that goes into the actual purchase of a new house, you need to consider things such as your requirements, planning the move, school locations, and your daily commute. Moving to a new location can be stressful so it’s best to make sure you tick everything off before you commit to anything! In this post I'm going to be sharing 4 important things to consider before moving house.


The Location - The location is probably one of the most important aspects to consider when moving. Whether you're moving for a new job, for a fresh start, or simply because you’ve found the perfect house, you want to get it just right. Think about how far you will be commuting to work, whether you’re in good school catchment areas if there are convenient shops nearby etc. If you can't drive make sure to look about how accessible the location is - you don't want to move somewhere and feel completely isolated, even if it's your dream house.

The House - Once you've found the best location for you, the house itself is of course the most important factor. Afterall, one of the main reasons that people move is to aim towards climbing the ladder to their forever home. There are numerous considerations you should make when choosing your home however, which will most likely be very personal to each person or family. Some people may require specialist disability accommodation, some may need to have an office space, some may need an annex for elderly relatives in the future, whatever your needs are you should make sure you take the time to make sure your new home has all that you require.

The Cost - If you’re thinking of moving, then the chances are that you have already looked closely at finances. This is obviously incredibly important in order to make a move successful! You’re likely to need a new mortgage so it may be a good idea to book a visit with a mortgage advisor before looking at any houses. Think about any work that may need to be carried out at the property when you’re thinking about a budget too,  as you may need to complete renovation work in order to get the house of your dreams. Often people fall into the trap of spending all their funds on the actual house rather than considering any work that may need to be done!

Think about the Move - Something that everyone dreads about moving home is the actual move itself. Make sure you have a good organisation plan in place by having adequate boxes that are labelled clearly and possibly think about using a movers service to ease things along. If you have children it is a good idea to think about childcare options for the big day - it will lower your stress levels, and mean they aren't bored going between properties too.

These are just a few of the things you should be considering when moving house. What would you add?
This is a collaborative post.

6 Tips to Make Travelling by Train Easy

17.10.19

Taking the train when you’re overseas is a great way to do things. Not only are you lowering your carbon footprint (compared with air travel), you’ll also be saving money, and getting a close-up view of the country or area you're travelling through! But if you’re not used to travelling by train, and you’ve got children in tow, then everything might seem a little bit overwhelming – or at least, it will to begin with. So in this post I'm going to share a few tips, that will hopefully ensure that the process is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.


Travel Off-Peak
When things get busy, such as during the school holidays or special events, ticket prices rise according to demand. If you’re able to travel when it’s not busy though, you’ll benefit from reduced rates and quieter routes. So definitely try to when you can! If you’re always buying tickets along the same route whenever you travel, it can help to look for discounts if you can as well. Shop around for the best deals before clicking purchase.

Learn the route
If you know the route you are taking by heart, you’ll be more confident that you’ve boarded the right train. There's no bigger than stress than jumping on a train and it going the wrong direction (and I'm speaking from personal experience!). Knowing the route will also mean you can look out for certain destinations or sites along the way - a great idea if you're travelling with little ones.

Sleep on the Train
Some train journeys can take place overnight, so if you don't want to waste any time travelling to your destination this can be a great choice. Your cabin will have a pull down bed; fall asleep in one country and wake up in another! This is also great as it saves you from paying for transport and a hotel stopover separately.

Take Plenty of Snacks
If you’re used to eating at fixed times, then train travel might be a bit tricky for you - especially if you're travelling with children. You can deal with this in the short term with a handy supply of snacks, or by booking your train around meal times so you can either eat before you depart, or when you arrive.

Take Entertainment
While there’s a lot to be said for staring out of the window and watching a the countryside or urban landscape fly past, train travel is a lot like other forms of travel - there will be long stretches where nothing much interesting happens.  I usually pack a flight bag full of appropriate items when travelling by plane, but you could use the same idea for train travel too. Pack a few entertainment devices, books and colouring (that can be enjoyed by all), but remember the classics such as eye-spy and nought and crosses can be just as fun!

Arrive with Time to Spare
If you’d like to avoid added stress, then make sure you arrive at your departure location in plenty of time. This means you can locate the ticket office and pick up your tickets in plenty of time, as well as time to pop to the loo and grab any last minute snacks. Booking in advance online might save you a little bit of queuing time (but you’ll need to ensure that you’re organised and have all of your paperwork to hand when it’s called for), as could having your tickets ready on your smartphone.

This is a collaborative post.

5 Ways to Create the Perfect Child's Bedroom

15.10.19

If you are renovating or even decorating your child’s bedroom, then hopefully this post will be helpful for you. I'm going to be sharing a number of tips and helpful advice, to make sure you create the perfect bedroom for your little ones, whatever their age!


Study Areas
If your children are older, they will most likely need an area where they can do their homework. Consider investing in a plain white desk, as this type of furniture is more likely to grow with your child's style and changing tastes. It can also be placed in any decorated room, so could potentially be passed down to younger siblings in the future if needed.

Create a Hideaway or a Secret Den
When your children are little, they are likely to have lots of friends over for play dates and parties. So you will want to create a space that they are happy to show off to their friends. Why not create a hideaway or secret den area in their room, by hanging a curtain rail underneath a mid-sleeper - add lots of cushions and fairy lights to make it extra special. This could also be used as a perfect spot for reading and relaxing when your child wants some space too.

Monochrome Colours are Best for Babies
Research has shown time and time again that monochromatic colour schemes (black and white) are best for younger children, especially babies. Of course you might not want a complete black and white room - that's not very cosy and calming for babies. But maybe create an area of the room where they can enjoy monochrome touches. The changing area or reading corner would be a great choice, as I'm sure you'll be spending a lot of time there with your little one!

Hidden Storage
There are plenty of bedroom designs that come with hidden divan storage; the best thing about this is that your child can keep their room tidy much easier, and it also eliminates the need for you to have a chest of drawers too (saving space!). If your child is likely to have regular sleepovers, then it may help to invest in a bed that has a pull-out mattress underneath as well. You could use a company such as interstate removalists to help dispose of the spare mattress in the future. 

Avoid Bold Colours
You may think that bright pink is the way to go if you have a little girl, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead try and opt for colourful decorations and finishing touches, and keep the walls more neutral. This will not only create the idea of more space in the room, but will be easier to update in the future as your child grows. 

This is a collaborative post.

Create More Space in your Family Home

As your family grows it's safe to say that your house becomes increasingly smaller. It's not that the physical space has actually got any smaller, but with extra people comes lots of extra possessions... it's going to feel cramped! However if moving isn’t an option then it’s time to take a look at some ideas on how to make your space feel bigger and in this post that’s exactly what I'm going to share.

When you need a little more space in the family home, it’s a great idea to begin with the basics. Those mountains of children’s paintings and drawings can be secretly thrown away or scanned if you really need to make copies of them. Go through a room a day and start the process of throwing away anything that’s unsuitable for being recycled or donated to charity. Make it a priority to take those charity bags to their intended destination and not just left piled up in corners, ready to sit and gather dust. 


Make Plans
Even though you might not be in a position to physically move home, that doesn’t mean you can’t change the home you’re in - especially if you’re set on making your current property your forever house. This might mean drawing down on your mortgage or looking into home loan brokers, it’s worth a thought when you know that extra space would be a god-send.

You could start by looking at a conventional extension (ideally over two floors if budget allows to maximise space), which will add more rooms and therefore space. Expanding upwards with a loft conversion could even create another bedroom. If that’s not possible then just reboarding the floors and giving the loft a good clear out might make it a more effective space for storage.

Clever Storage
If you are really in need of space, then having a thorough sort out will make a huge difference. Minimalism is a current popular trend where you look to only keep items that sparks joy; not keeping things for the sake of it and hoarding items 'just in case'. You can use this simple golden rule to help - If you haven’t used it for more than six months, then you don’t need it. 

If lack or storage is an issue in your home, then make sure to make use of clever storage ideas. Stacking boxes are useful ways of squeezing more storage into a corner. You might also find it useful to think about putting up some more shelves around your home to help take the pressure off some of your drawer space.

This is a collaborative post.

The Siblings Project | October 2019

14.10.19

I'm not quite sure where those weeks went between my last Siblings Project post and now... the year is absolutely flying! We took these pictures while out of a little woodland walk Sunday afternoon (when the rain eventually stopped for longer than 5 minutes), and they instantly reminded me of these ones from a few years ago. It's crazy to see how much Indiana and Parker have grown since then.. and that they now have an almost 2 year old little sister!



We've had another relatively quiet month, with the weeks being taken up by school and clubs still. But it's just a week until half term, and I'm not sure who is more excited? I can really tell Parker is ready for the end of term now. He is learning so much at the moment, so he's absolutely exhausted by the time 3pm comes around. Indie has had a really busy term with more structured learning and work to do, so I think she'll really enjoy a little break (although she loves school, so I'm sure she'll be raring to go back!).

Jack is off for half term week, so we have lots of exciting halloween themed activities and days out planned. I just have everything crossed that the rain stays away for at least a few days, as it's really dampening our spirits at the moment!



Top 5 Favourite Rides for Under 5s at Disneyland Paris

11.10.19

I am always asked what the best age to take children to Disneyland Paris is, and my honest answer is... whenever YOU want! We have visited twice now - in March 2018 when the littles were 4, 2 and 8 weeks, and in June 2019 when they were 5, 3 and 16 months - and both times we have had the most magical time.


There is so much for little ones under 5 to do at Disneyland Paris; with the characters to meet, parades and shows to watch, and just simply exploring the parks (and eating all the food!). But actually, there are SO many rides that under 5s can enjoy too! Even at just 8 weeks old Lilah went on 11 rides, so don't worry about them not enjoying the trip.

We of course have our favourites though, so I thought in this post I would share our top 5 favourite rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris. And hopefully this will help you if you are planning a trip with young children - you can book your Disney Paris tickets here if you haven't already!

It's A Small World
You either love it or you hate it... and we absolutely love it! We rode it at least once a day during our visits as all three littles are mesmerised by the ride. It's perfect for all ages as you simply sit in a slow-moving boat, while enjoying the characters and incredibly catchy tune. We have never found the wait time to be too long either, so that is a bit of a bonus.

Photo Credit: Kerry Norris
Photo Credit: Jade

Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a trackless ride in the Disney Studio's Park. You wear 3D glasses and hop aboard a car shaped like rat, following Remy and his friends around a kitchen. There's lots to see, smells and fun movement that the whole family can enjoy. Parker isn't so keen on this one (there are a couple of scenes that can make you jump), but it is suitable for everyone. Definitely one to grab a Fastpass for!



Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Storybook Boats)
Very similar to It's A Small World, Le Pays des Contes de Fées (or the Storybook Boats as we call it) is a gentle boat ride in the Disneyland Park. There's lots to see during the ride as there are miniature scenes from classic Disney tales to spot, as well as a tunnel you do through just like the one in Aladdin. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Casey Jr Train as you go around too, as the ride is just next door.




Le Carrousel de Lancelot
Everyone loves a Carousel, and this one at Disneyland Paris is beautiful and definitely extra magical. The horses are perfect for any princess or knight, and you get some amazing views of Sleeping Beauty's Castle and the whole of Fantasyland as you go around. Again we've never found the queue to be too long, so it's perfect to hop on during any time of day (although you may have to wait if you want to sit in the seat with a very young baby, as they can't sit on the horses).

Photo Credit: Jade

Mad Hatter's Tea Cups
Another Fantasyland favourite, the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups is a must do! You can make the ride as gentle or as wild as you want, as you control how much you spin with the wheel in the middle of your cup (although even if you don't spin you will still move naturally with the platform). The whole ride area feels straight out of the movie, and the big two loved picking which colour cup we were going to have.



I've also shared my top 5 must dos at Disneyland Paris to help with your planning, and make sure to check out my trip reports and vlogs from our visits, for lots of tips and advice too!

What are your favourite rides at Disneyland Paris?



This is a collaborative post.