Me and Mine Project | December 2019

31.12.19

I honestly cannot believe that today is the 31st December 2019. I know it's cliche but seriously, where did this last year go? A year full of wonderful memories, some very painful days, and of course a year of watching our little family grow. I'll save my year of memories for my yearly round up post, but will of course share my year of Me and Mine project snaps at the end of this post!

December was probably the quickest month of the year by far, and my goodness was it a wonderful one too! We managed to get a whole selection of family portraits that are some of my favourites ever too - all thanks to a well balanced camera on self timer, and a helpful elf when we visited Father Christmas.



The month was packed full of Christmassy events and activities. Putting up the tree, festive garden centre visits, school nativities, special birthdays, Father Christmas visits, friends, family, and definitely the best Christmas Day yet. Of course it wasn't all positive, with 4/5 of us coming down with the flu, and the election that I'd rather forget about. But mostly it was wonderful and that's all I could have hoped for.

I set myself to goal to upload to Youtube every other day up until Christmas too, which I am really pleased I succeeded at. I lost my mojo for all things blogging and youtube the last few months, but this really helped me to get it back. Jack also surprised me with a new camera for Christmas, so expect lots more content from us in the new year. I really want to get back to blogging about our day-to-day family life more too, as that's the main reason I started this little blog of mine in the first place.

But for now, here's to another year of Me and Mine project photos and watching our family grow! Scroll to see us over the last 12 months...

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

The Siblings Project | December 2019

20.12.19


Another year of Siblings Project complete, and therefore another 12 snapshots of my three little ones captured. I think the biggest change this year has definitely come from Lilah, she has grown from a baby to a toddler right before our eyes! And although the change in the older two is a little more subtle, I know that they are both so much more grown up compared to how they were in January.


Despite having so many festive activities and outings in December, I actually hardly got my camera out at all. There's just been so much going on that I've been more 'in the moment' than behind the camera. Throw in everyone (apart from a very lucky Indiana) coming down with flu, it's made taking this month's pictures a little trickier too. These ones aren't the best quality or full of cheesy smiles, but I love them all the same. My three festive pj wearing crazies!

And of course now that another year of Siblings Project is over, I thought I'd share my favourite photos from the last 12 months. As I mentioned previously I don't think I'll be joining in every month next year, but definitely follow me on Instagram to watch these three grow with my #threelittlepeachicks hashtag!

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

How Important is a Family-Friendly Kitchen?

19.12.19

I'm sure many of us dreamed of spending time in the kitchen with our future children. You might have seen children on TV, baking and making a mess with their parents. You may have even spent time with your own parents baking cakes, preparing gingerbread at Christmas, and sharing happy afternoons at home. Of course it doesn’t always work out this way, as I'm sure most of us are sometimes guilty of closing the door behind us, in an attempt to keep our kitchens clean and tidy and aware from the dangers of the kitchen.


But the kitchen really is a significant room in your house. Children that spend time in the kitchen with their parents often grow up with a love of cooking and a healthy relationship with food - something that is so important in this age. They are less likely to be fussy eaters, and more likely to have great relationships with their parents too! Getting your children into the kitchen doesn’t need to be stressful either. In fact, as long as you’ve got a family-friendly kitchen it can actually be enjoyable for everyone involved.

Make Sure It’s Durable
Getting your family into the kitchen more is great, but there are bound to be accidents. Make sure to invest in quality worktops and equipment, looking at quartz worktop advantages to help you to create a durable, and safe kitchen.

Keep Things Easy to Clean
Children (and a lot of adults) make a mess. This is to be expected and something you have to learn to live with! But while some mess is ok, it can also become dangerous. Keep your kitchen easy to clean with wipeable surfaces, floors and doors, and encourage a clean as you go practice.

Make Safety a Priority
Kitchens are great places to spend time together, but they can be dangerous with equipment, sharp knives and hot surfaces. Keep your kitchen safe by placing anything dangerous out of reach, cleaning up after yourself, and by teaching your children safe practices. Never leave them unsupervised and always show them the correct way to do things.


Create a Child Safe Zone
If you’ve got very young children, you might want to create a child safe zone, where they are safe to bake and experiment. Add lower surfaces, or a stool, and keep everything that they can use nearby. You might even want to give them their own cupboard with colourful bowls and spoons, fun cookie cutters, an apron, and other safe supplies. If you’ve got the room, you could also add some seating so that they can spend time with you in the kitchen when you are busy preparing dinner.

Add Plenty of Colour
Add colourful bakeware, as well as tiles, towels and other pops of colour that will interest your children, and make them keen to spend time in the kitchen. Keep things relaxed and easy, and add plenty of fun.

Use It
To create a family-friendly kitchen, you need to let your family in! Open the doors, add seating, spend time in there together, whether eating, cooking or chatting. A lot of families now attach a 'snug' to their kitchen so that everyone can enjoy the space together.
This is a collaborative post.

Planning your Perfect Wedding Day

Getting married is one of the most exciting and life-altering events you can experience. However this scale of event cannot pulled off without planning everything out as much as you can. There are a lot of considerations you are going to need to make when it comes to sorting out your big day! Make sure you think about the sort of day you want to have, and be sure to leave yourself enough time to plan out the big day in the least stressful way you can. Here are just four things you need to think about when planning your wedding.


Your Venue
One of the first things you need to make sure you get right when planning a wedding, is to pick the wedding venue. This is something that can take people a long time to decide on (plus there's often a waiting list for the popular venues), however a lot of the time the venue you choose will largely be determined by your budget, and the style of wedding you want. If you want a more rustic style then maybe a barn or an outdoor venue will be more suitable. Or if you want to go traditional then you need to contact your local church and venues.

Wedding Package
Once you have settled on a wedding venue then deciding on the rest of the big day is much easier.  This will also help with all of the extras that come with the venue, including decorations, food, a d even the evening entertainment. Most wedding venues will have their own wedding packages to choose from, where you can pick what you do and don't want included. A wedding planner (that can also come with the venue sometimes!) can be helpful in deciding what is important.

The Guest List
It is also essential that you make sure you do as much as possible to get the guest list right - and that's before you send out the save the dates. This is potentially one of the most stressful and difficult parts of planning a wedding, especially if you need to please a lot of people. But just remember that your wedding day is just that.. yours! Only invite those who you love and want to be there, not just because you need to fill numbers or someone else said so.

Food
Food and drink choices may be included as part of your wedding package, but it is still important to spend time thinking about the choices. Choosing what kind of food you want to see at your wedding is really important as after the ceremony people do get excited about the wedding breakfast! A sit down meal is usually the preferred choice, but a buffet can also work well for large numbers, or even for the evening guests. Make sure to find out dietary requirements and give guests time to decide on options (if you're giving it to them).

This is a collaborative post.

Create a New Home Style

Taking on home renovations or completely changing your style throughout your home can be an expensive and long-winded process. That being said, it doesn't mean there aren't small things you can do to freshen up your look for the new year instead! How about incorporating different themes into your current look, to help freshen up the style you have and add an extra dimension to the space? In this post I'm going to share 4 different ways you can liven up your home, without breaking the bank.


Geometric
Geometric patterns are huge right now. Whether you choose to add some statement wallpaper to a room (this style looks great in the living room and bedrooms), or simply by adding some new accessories or furnishings. Simply look for items that complement what you already have to create a new theme and add an extra something. Think patterned pillows and blankets, geometric lampshades and even furniture for a stylish look that is so on-trend.

Art Deco
If classic and elegant is more your thing, then you really can't go wrong with some statement art deco pieces. The trick to incorporating this style into your home is to look for something that will be eye-catching to create a talking feature, but something that also fits with your other furniture. An Art Deco Sideboard in your hallway or a lounge chair placed next to a full wall bookcase could really liven up a room. Remember that less is more though, so don't add too much!

Copper Accents
The right copper accessories can really transform your home. A metal wall may sound drastic, but it would really add something special. It would definitely be a show stopper and would completely change the look and feel of any home, especially when paired with well-placed copper accessories in the room!

Monochrome
Quite possibly one of the easiest styles to incorporate with any look, and can be done bit by bit or all at once. This is a timeless style that doesn't appear to be losing popularity at the minute and is a great look for kitchens and dining rooms especially. Transform your furniture too, by up-cycling to fit your monochrome look and giving it a new lease of life.

By simply taking it slow and doing it bit by bit, you can work at your own pace and not have to worry about the cost coming all at once. By re using what you already have by trying your hand at up-cycling or crafting, you can add some extra character too! Head over to Pinterest to find some great ideas on ways to create a new look at home for less without compromising on style.
This is a collaborative post.

5 Things to Remember Before Renovating

18.12.19

If you’re thinking of renovating you may be a little afraid of what’s to come, especially if you have undertaken any sort of home revamp before. Something like this can be such a long process, so feeling like you've got everything under control can make it all feel a little bit easier. However in order to get to that stage, you may find that you need to understand what to expect and have a bit of a plan in place before things begin. So in this post I'm going to be sharing five things you should aim to remember, before starting a big renovation project.


Timescale
To start with you need to make sure that you are aware of the time scales involved with the renovations you want. Building and decorating can take an extremely long time, and things are often pushed back further too. If you want certain things done for certain dates, you’ll really want to ensure that you are planning ahead. Or actually in reality, you may just need to be more realistic about timescales and relax a little bit more.

Budget
Of course having a budget in mind is also extremely important, but just like with timescales, you may need to be prepared for things to go off track with this too. As long as you know that and you are prepared, you should be ready for whatever's ahead. It may be a good idea to keep some of your budget safely secure somewhere to begin with, just incase of emergencies!

Mess
When you’re renovating, things can get really messy! So ideally, you need to be able to anticipate what mess is coming and be ready for it at the right times. You might find that booking a skip bin can really help you with keeping a large bulk of the mess at bay. Cover flooring and bulkier items with protective sheets and mats to keep them from being damaged, and just prepared for a lot of dust.

Living
Most people still need to live in there home while renovating, so of course you don’t want to start with everything at once. Some people do manage to live on site while renovating and it works out okay, but if you have small children or a smaller living space, it’s important to remember just how much renovations can impact on your lifestyle, and what you’ll need to do to keep things on track.

The Finishing Touches
It may seem far away to begin with, but having a rough idea of how you want thinks to look in the end is always a good idea. If you haven’t thought that far ahead just yet, then you may not be able to make the right decisions along the way. Details such as skirting boards can really make a difference to the final look of the room, so don't forget to budget for these areas as well.

This is a collaborative post.

The New Baby Annabell 43cm Doll | Review

Paid collaboration with Mumsnet and Baby Annabell

I remember being around 7/8 when I received my very own Baby Annabell. She came wearing a little sleepsuit, had a bunny rattle and one of those 'magic' bottles. That Christmas everything on my list was Baby Annabell related, and I was lucky enough to receive the changing bag, cot and plenty of little outfits! And now almost 18 years later, my original doll is still at my parents where my own children enjoy playing with her.


So when I was asked if Indiana wanted to review the newest Baby Annabell doll this Christmas, how could I say no? The new Baby Annabell 43cm doll has the easiest play pattern then ever before, and is set to be the most realistic baby doll on the market. It is a soft bodied doll but with plenty of special features - Baby Annabell can cry real tears, realistically suck her dummy and her bottle (she actually drinks the water too), and will react to how your child plays with her.

Indiana spent the whole weekend with Baby Annabell by her side and absolutely loved trying out all of her functions. The bottle was quickly filled with water so that she could 'feed' Baby Annabell. When you put the bottle into Baby Annabell's mouth it starts moving as if she is really drinking it, and she also makes sounds as if she's sucking the bottle and swallowing the drink. If you pop the doll over your shoulder and pat her back after feeding her she'll let out a little burp too. So sweet!




You have to squeeze the bottle in order for the water to come out properly, which is how the doll cries. If you remove the bottle before she's done Baby Annabell will cry and actual tears will fall too. I think this really helped Indie with her role-playing as she wanted to comfort the doll even more! She must remember us rocking Lilah as a baby, as she instantly starting doing this as soon as Baby Annabell starting crying. If you rock her from side to side she will close her eyes and fall asleep - complete with sleeping noises.





Another accessory that comes with the Baby Annabell 43cm doll is her dummy, which when you pop in her mouth, will move with realistic mouth movements and noises. A fab feature that just makes the doll feel even more realistic to play with. A couple of other features that makes Baby Annabell feel realistic are that she giggles and laughs when you tickle her or bounce her up and down, and all of the cooing and gurgling noises she makes during play.

As I mentioned at the start, there really are SO many accessories and extras you can purchase alongside the Baby Annabell doll to enhance play and fun. Indie particularly liked the changing bag we received, as it came with all the changing accessories including a nappy (you don't get a nappy with the doll), so she could pretend to be me and change her baby's nappy too. She loves dressing her up in he different clothes too; then taking her for little walks and adventures around the house - Baby Annabell even came with us for hot chocolates and cake on Sunday!






From the moment I took Baby Annabell out of the box Indiana wanted to cuddle and care for her. She is 6 so playing games such as 'mummies and babies' with her school friends is becoming a regular occurrence. The new 43cm doll is therefore the perfect way to nurture that child and 'baby' relationship and encourage a real sense of responsibility too, but of course all still while having fun through play!

Baby Annabell retails are around £59.99 and is available at all good retailers including Smyths, The Entertainer, Argos, and Amazon. The doll is aimed at ages 3+, however there are a number of other dolls in the range (including the My First range) which are suitable for younger children.

tonies® Toniebox | Review & Flash Giveaway!

17.12.19


This post was written in collaboration with tonies® and Tots100.
A bedtime story has been a part of our children's evening routine ever since our eldest Indiana was a baby. Although actually, stories and books in general play such an important part in our three's lives! But despite buying new books and visiting the library regularly, the littles quickly become bored of the stories we have (and I must admit I do get a little bored of reading the same story on repeat too). So when I was asked if I wanted to test out the new tonies® Toniebox, I thought it would be a perfect way to add some fun back into story time!

What is the tonies® Toniebox?
The Toniebox is a super soft children's audio box, that has been designed to give children a fun and interactive way of listening to stories, music, factual content, and even content they can record themselves! All you have to do is place one of the Tonie audio characters on top of the Toniebox and it magically starts playing the content. Such a fun way for children to play and be entertained without the need for screens.


What's in the Box?
We received the Toniebox Starter Set, which is the perfect way to introduce tonies® to your home. Inside the box you get:

- One Toniebox (available in either grey, green, pink, blue, red, or purple).
- A Creative Tonie (in the matching colour to your box). This Tonie allows you to upload and create your own content. It has space for 90 minutes of MP3s, audiobooks or even your own recordings via the app.
- A charging station.
- An easy to follow instruction manual.

As well as the Starter Set we also received two of the super cute Tonie sets - The Little Mermaid and Christmas Songs and Carols. Each came with the Tonie figure as well as a little booklet that had details of the songs and stories included.




How Does it Work?
The Toniebox is designed for children, so is incredibly easy to work and use (with a little help from a grown up to set it up first of course). 

Setting up the Toniebox is really simple and quick. Take everyone out of the box, connect the charging station to power and pop the Toniebox on top (making sure you're within range of your wifi contention and have the password to hand), and then follow the instructions here. Once set up your child simply needs to pop their chosen Tonie on top and the magic begins! Each Tonie has a magic code on the bottom which is how the Toniebox knows what to play - clever right?





The Toniebox also has really simple ways to play too. To turn up the volume you click the bigger 'ear' and therefore to turn down the volume you click the smaller 'ear'. To change tracks you just need to tap the box on the left or right hand side (left skips back and right skips forward), and you also tilt the box to fast-forward or rewind. The Toniebox is really robust so don't worry if your little ones are like mine and very generous with their 'taps'.

Our Review
The Toniebox has been a huge hit in our household! My little ones are 6, 4 and almost 2 and all three of them enjoyed choosing and placing the Tonies on the top and listening to their songs and stories. Of course with it currently being Christmas the Christmas Tonie has been the most popular of all - I'm now regularly greeted by Christmas tunes when I go into their bedroom in the mornings, with all three of them dancing and singing along!

The only slight negative of the Toniebox is the price. Each Tonie retails at around £15, which I know could be a lot to spend for a lot of families. They would be a perfect gift for either a birthday or Christmas though, and I love that with the Creative Tonie you can add up to 90 minutes of your own audio, so you can never really get bored!




I love that the Toniebox is small enough to fit nicely onto their bookshelf without seeming out of place, but while also being robust enough for the littles to carry around. It would be great to bring in the car to take to grandparents as it has up to 7 hours of battery life too. It is such a lovely way to offer screen free story time and fun for little ones this Christmas!

Win a Toniebox Starter Set and Tonie Figure
This Christmas I've teamed up with 11 other parent bloggers from the Tots100 community for the 12 days of Tonies giveaway! If you win you will receive your very own Toniebox Starter Set and Tonie Figure. This flash giveaway lasts just 24 HOURS and all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. And if you don't win today, make sure to try again tomorrow with the next competition!

Good luck and Merry Christmas!