30 November 2014

Black & White Photo Project Wk 21

I love old buildings and paint, the different textures of brick and wood.


29 November 2014

My Perfect Festive Christmas Table

I love Christmas dinner, it is an important part of my Christmas day, a time when we can all sit down together without rushing and enjoy yummy food and talk about the day we've had. But we have a bit of a mismatched set of table linen that we've inherited over the years so I would love to replace it all this year, last years was pretty but not that festive!

So when I saw this challenge with Jen over on Love Chic Living, to put together my Christmas table I jumped at the chance.

I have chosen a white table cloth and then added colour and sparkle with crackers, table runners and oven to tableware in a traditional red.

Festive Christmas Table

To go with this, I have chosen some pretty lights, now these are pumpkins but I think they look so pretty and would be great either in a bowl at the end of the table or possibly running down the middle.

I love candles and they always add an element of romanticism, as well as some wonderful condiment dishes and a beautiful cake stand for a Christmas cake or I may go all non traditional and make my new favourite Pumpkin Pie.

Some metal snowflakes to add a bit of texture to the table and then beautiful cutlery, some snow white plates to serve, I love white as it allows you to better see what you are eating.

I can't wait for Christmas dinner, in fact it is safe to say I am starting my prep early this year and will be trying out some new dishes passed on from members of the family.

But the centre piece will be as always Nigella's Redder than Red Cranberry Sauce, I have made it every Christmas Eve for the last few years and it tastes divine and is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas dinner.

NB: This is my entry into the I’m Dreaming of Debenhams Dinnerware competition with Jen at Love Chic Living

Win 1 of 5 Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Sets

Do you remember Spirograph? I do and spent many hours drawing and making shapes with it.

Now the iconic Spirograph is back, kids of all ages can draw cool, geometric creations in bright colour. The new 21st century Spirograph now comes with eye-popping 3D technology, so kids can watch the drawings jump out from the page in an amazing display.

I am offering my readers the chance to win 1 of 5 Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Sets, worth £24.99rrp

With it's geometric and swirling patterns, Spirograph has helped kids big and small to create beautiful art, stunning designs and wonderful memories for generations.

Spirograph continues this tradition in 21st century style with all new sets. The Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Set also comes with cool 3D glasses that enable you to watch the different colours in your design pop out from the page in cool 3D. 

• 12 Drawing Wheels and 4 Templates.
• 3D Effect Dual Colour Pen, 2 Florescent Markers, 3 Colour Pens and a Rainbow Pencil..
• Optical 3D Glasses - includes 3 LR44 Batteries
• Spirograph Design Book.
• 10 Drawing Papers and 1 Spirograph Sticker.
• Sealable Storage Bag.
• For ages 5 years and over

Entry is via Rafflecopter, T&Cs apply please read before entering,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

26 November 2014

Coffee and Hope

As I walked through Nottingham with my daughter yesterday, it was cold, not just the temperature but no one seemed cheerful, the Christmas lights obviously hadn't had the desired effect and instead I could hear people cursing and being generally rude.

I warmed up with a coffee in a new coffee shop, there me and my daughter sat and drank our drinks, so many people head in a book or computer didn't even look up to acknowledge new patrons.

Sometimes a smile is all it takes to make someones day, as we walked back to the tram we walked through a big high street store and as we came out the other end I saw a young man in a door way.

I don't judge how someone gets to be on the street, we all have our problems and sometimes to run away is all that helps. But it was so cold, so bitter and as I walked passed him I couldn't help but feel the need to help in someway.

I could have chucked a few extra pennies on his sleeping bag, but instead I decided to ask him if he'd like a coffee, after all it had been just what had warmed me up ten minutes before.

He said yes please and we took the 30 second walk up to McDonalds, I bought him a Cappuccino liked he'd asked for and walked back, I wondered if he'd thought maybe I wouldn't come back but when I did I could see a little spark in his eyes.

I handed it to him and he told me "I was a good un', maybe so, maybe I was being selfish and wanted the self gratification of helping someone else. But I always believe that it's the small things that make a difference, just smiling at someone as you walk down the street could make them feel differently about their day.

When I was a new mum and was suffering with terrible PND strangers smiles were the difference between a bad day and a good one. 

Yesterdays gift to a stranger took a few minutes and pounds out of my life, but maybe made someone else's faith in humans be that little bit more restored.

I hope in some way he knows I didn't stop thinking about him most of yesterday, whatever the reason, whatever the habit, we all need hope.

I have a few other plans to help people this Christmas and it definitely won't be the last time I get someone a coffee.

24 November 2014

Little Herbert Shoe Shop Southwell - Shop Local

I recently visited a beautiful little shoe shop in the gorgeous town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire.

Now this post will only really be relevant to those local to the area but I felt the need to shout about this little shop.

Not only are the shoes all beautiful, the shop is owned by Amy, a knowledgable and helpful lady who loves shoes and making sure you get the right ones for your child.

For me, my children's shoes are an important investment and one that I take seriously, knowing how important feet are for a healthy back and to support your whole body.

Stocking everything from Ava & Luc to Bobux, Crocs and more it is a little haven for trying on shoes, there is no feeling rushed and like you can't give them a proper try!

Southwell has some lovely coffee shops and other independent boutiques with everything from clothing to gifts, so it is well worth a trip to this lovely little town.

Here are my daughters lovely Ava & Luc boots, I was only a little bit jealous!

You can find Little Herbert Shoe Shop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

23 November 2014

Black & White Photo Project Wk 20

So many cheeky squirrels last week, I loved this one with his hands tucked under his chest.


22 November 2014

Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs

Last weekend, we visited Center Parcs. I had never been before and as the last few months have been quite hectic, we decided to book a weekend away to spend some quality time as a family.

We had so much fun whilst we were there and I will blog more about the rest of our trip another time,  but I wanted to tell you all about the fabulous Winter Wonderland.

The spectacular tree made it all seem so real, and as Christmas songs rang out through the trees I wanted to cry a bit with excitement.

The lovely and enigmatic reindeers, all so cute and really added to the atmosphere, anyone remember the reindeers in Santa Clause the movie? I loved them so much!

We visited Santa, it was obvious where he was as he had left his sleigh and reindeers on the roof of the grotto.

Me & my hubby drank mulled wine and ate mince pies whilst listening to the Christmas songs.

The tree was really beautifully decorated and looked great in the day and at night.

Along the route from the village square to Santa's grotto were lots of little huts with beautiful characters to watch.

The trees were decked with snow and there was even a snow machine.

We must have walked past the little houses a dozen times, and each time we stopped to look.

All around the village square and main buildings there were things to see and watch, each one as magical as the next.

As we watched the lights for one last time, it really got us into the Christmas spirit, yes it was early but sometimes you need the magic, sometimes you need to experience the lights and sounds of Christmas that little bit earlier.


20 November 2014

A Good Nights Sleep with Dormeo - Review

After a rather long wait, my sons bed was finally delivered which meant we could get on with testing out this wonderful new mattress from Dormeo.

Arriving in a much smaller box than I had imagined, I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened it, but on opening the box and taking the mattress out it was obvious once we undid the plastic wrapping that it was going to more than double in size. 

The mattress itself feels great quality, designed and manufactured in Italy, the Florentine stitched cover is hypoallergenic and made from 100% cotton. 

The mattress has carbon fibre woven into the cover, this helps create a barrier to dust and parcels in the air, ensuring a hygienic sleeping surface. Which for anyone with allergies and for children is a big plus, it also means I don't have to worry too much about making sure the beds are cleaned.

It also comes with a 60 night comfort guarantee and 15 year warranty, which I think you'll agree is a good deal, especially with something like this that isn't easy to decide wether after a five minute rest it is going to be good for you.

My husband and I have both suffered with a bad back or neck for many years, so it is a constant concern for me that the mattresses my children are sleeping on are as supportive, having had a good lie on this one I felt relaxed and supported and my son has had brilliant nights sleep on the mattress.
My son was so excited about his new mattress he wouldn't even let me put the sheets on, it not only looks great but it really does feel great too.

Overall I think this mattress is great, if I was choosing for a bigger bed then it might possibly be a little on the thin size at just 15cm deep, but as it stands it was perfect for my sons new cabin bed. They do have many more mattresses on offer all with the same quality and standard so there should be something for everyone.

NB: I was sent this mattress for the purpose of the review, all words and opinions are my own.

19 November 2014

DIY Fabric Garlands

I love to decorate the house and there is no better time to do this than at Christmas. These fabric garlands are a great way to add a splash of colour to your home, they won't break the bank as they can be made using old fabric scraps or even old clothes.

Firstly, choose your fabrics. I picked five fabrics and a red ribbon I had in the craft box. Cut the fabric into strips about 2cm wide and about 50cm long, you could use a few pieces of fabric and a few ribbons if you have them.

I chose to make mine look rustic so cut slightly up the fabric and then tore the rest of the way, this leaves a few strands of string hanging off.

Once you have cut all of your fabric into strips, you need to start building the garlands. To do this, stack one piece on top of another, mine have 11 pieces each, two strips of each fabric and one piece of ribbon. Once you are happy with how it looks, place the fabric pile with the rough side facing up and fold it over whatever string you are using. I am using brown string as it is a Christmas themed fabric selection.

Once you have folded it on itself, use either, another piece of brown string or, whatever you are using. I used some left over fabric and tied this around the garland, this part is made easier if you hang the string up, perhaps between two chairs, before adding the fabric.

Once you have done this with all of your fabric pieces, then you are ready to hang! You can make these as big or small as you like and you could have smaller garlands if you used thinner or shorter fabric pieces.

The garlands can be hung over your fireplace, on a wall or even on the window, they would also look great on the wall in a child's bedroom, you could make one using fabric to match their bedroom.


18 November 2014

Be Safe, Be Seen - Keep Children Safe on Our Roads

I have written before about how important road safety is to me, in fact as the evenings get darker it is imperative that we not only teach our children how to be careful on the roads, but to help make them safer too.

As the roads across the country have got busier and there are drivers distracted talking on phones or using gadgets. There seem to be less focus on road safety than there was when we had David Prowse teaching us the green cross code as Green Cross Code man.

But not all is lost, over the past 5 years Co-operative Funeralcare have given out over 160,000 yellow high visibility reflective pin-badges badges to 1,500 schools and youth groups. They also deliver school assemblies or lessons about road safety prepared by road safety charity Brake for children between the ages of 3 and 7 years.

This brilliant campaign drives home the importance of being safe on the roads, making sure children understand that road safety is a vital part of their daily lives, both now and in the future. I always try to set a good example when out and about, making sure to never cross on the red man.

To order some badges for your child's school or youth group then contact your local Co-operative Funeralcare branch.

NB: I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to write about products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses but retain all editorial control. 

This is a Netmum's sponsored review.To find out more click the button:


17 November 2014

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure - Live Show Review

My son and daughter have been into the Octonauts for a long time, we have the books, figures and magazines and now we have been to see them live.

So when we got the opportunity to head to the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham to see the Octonauts Live we were super excited. More so because we had the pleasure of visiting with the lovely Jaime from The Olivers Madhouse and her adorable son.

This fabulous live show was an absolute pleasure to watch, the characters were engaging and being in full costume meant there was nothing else to distract from the characters and shows.

Image Credit http://www.octonautslive.co.uk 
Following one of our favourite adventures, the show follows the crew of the octopod on a journey to the midnight zone, along the the way you get to see some brilliant underwater scenes using UV light.

The play starts with actions and songs that got everyone singing, the inclusion of the children as sea cadets means that they felt part of the show and were getting involved from the start.

Image Credit http://www.octonautslive.co.uk
Overall this show was wonderful, my one small gripe was the sale of small spinning lights which distracted from the show and were so bright they dazzled you. 

But the children didn't notice and they were still talking about the show for days after so it really was a hit. 

This fabulous show is currently touring around the country and is the perfect way to introduce younger children to the theatre with characters they already know and love. 

NB: We were given tickets for the purpose of the review, all opinions are my own. 

16 November 2014

Black & White Photo Project Wk 19

It's been a super busy week this week, but we have ended it with a trip to Centre Parcs and this is the fabulous Christmas Tree in their Winter Wonderland. Looks stunning in black and white and in colour.


9 November 2014

Black & White Photo Project Wk 18

I normally only post one photo but today I wanted to include a few on this most important of days.
For me rememberance Sunday is an important day, in which to remember so many lives that were changed by war. 

When visiting France I always make time to stop at one of the many cemeteries that dot the landscape, my heart brakes at the scale of the loss.

More sombre are the German cemeteries, no flowers, no colour, just black stones of usually four men to a grave. Such a sad sight, such loss, such needless loss!

To my Great Grandad, who never returned and the countless others who gave everything for their country.


8 November 2014

Shipley Country Park

Last weekend saw some gorgeous weather, it was a bit drizzly on Sunday morning so we headed to Ikea for an early morning trip and a hot dog for lunch and then popped over to Shipley Country Park for a walk around and some fresh air.

Shipley is a vast space with lots of park areas and plenty of space to run around, it is also a haven for horse riders.

Next time we go we will take a longer walk round to see if we can see the old American Adventure site, so sad this is no more.

4 November 2014

Stylish Mums with Pink Lining

I was recently approached by Pink Lining to choose and style one of their gorgeous bags.  I have never really found a changing bag that I like, but when I saw the Bramley Totes, I knew that they were the perfect bag for my lifestyle and children.

Big enough to put everything child related in but not too like a changing bag, it looks sophisticated and best of all beautiful.  Styling this outfit for autumn was going to be fun, with tights and jumpers a staple now the days have turned cooler.

Being a mum often means being on the go, running round after two children whether it’s the school run, trip to the park or a day at the shops. So I have put together an easy to wear outfit, something that looks good with ankle boots or wellies, without compromising on being me.

First of all I have a snug and easy to wear jumper from Louche, it is cotton so means it isn’t itchy and washes well. It looks great with jeans, a skirt, leggings and knee high boots or wellies. Or, as I have teamed with here, a skirt, tights and ankle boots.

The skirt is from Fat Face, I love this store for it’s easy to wear and hard wearing clothes. I have several items from here and they always look great on, their sizing is also really accurate and means you aren’t left feeling deflated when you go shopping.

And finally the shoes, I got these from Hotter, they have been my staple shoe since I got them, they go with jeans and skirts and are unbelievably comfy. Now for me a comfy shoe is like gold dust, especially when you are on your feet for a while.

The first time I wore these I travelled down to London for the day, not a single sore or blister, if I don’t have to suffer in the name of fashion then all the better!

This bag is perfectly playful and I love it, the gorgeous features of the bag including a large zip pocket across the front for all the mum things, such as a pen holder, key fob, pouch pocket for a mobile and lots of space for other essentials. The bag comes with two removable hook and stroll clip shoulder straps for easy fit over any pram/buggy handle bars. 

I have also put together a selection of other outfits and items that I love with the focal point being the gorgeous Birdcage Bramley Tote bag. This bag is easy to match with so many outfits, the print is simple from a far but when you get up close the detailing is perfect. 

NG: This is a collaborative post, I was sent the bag to style as part of the post. However, all words, opinions and photos are my own.

2 November 2014

Black & White Photo Project Week 17

We took an early morning visit to the Arboretum in Nottingham yesterday, the colours were beautiful and the weather stunning. I remember visiting here when I was a child with my grandparents and it is sadly somewhere we don't visit enough.