Tuesday, 1 September 2015

August 2015

I can not believe that it is the 1st of September already, I really do feel like this year is going by far to quickly. With that in mind I have decided that I am going to do a post each month looking back on the previous month, a bit of a monthly round-up type post. I am hoping that these posts will not only highlight my blogging month but also a snippet of are real family life too. After all that is why I started this blog in the first place to record are family life, so that we can look back on it in years to come and my children can remember their childhood. 

So here is a look at what August 2015 had in store for us.


August was a nice month for us as a family the biggest thing was that Jacob turned one! I can not believe that my baby boy is one whole year old, the last year has gone by so quickly and I still remember announcing his birth on here like it was yesterday. On his birthday we just went out to a local pub that has a children play area with some family for a meal, he really enjoyed himself and it was nice and relaxing. We then had a family day out the following week when his daddy was off work and a little tea party. 

We have spent a lot of time at the coast
In August we have had lots of family day's out with it being the summer holidays and Chloe being off school and Lee also had a week off from work. We have been to the beach, to South Shields fair, Shopping at the Metro centre, we have been for lots of meals out and visited soft plays and had shopping trips. Chloe and Lee visited Lightwater valley theme park. Chloe went to Whitby with her Grandad and stayed over at his during the holidays, she has also been out a lot with her friends swimming, to wet and wild, shopping and to the park. 

I had a bit of a blip on my diet where I did not attend group for a few weeks as I just could not make my group as we were always busy. I decided to change my Slimming World group and I am so glad that I did as I love my new group and I feel much more motivated and I am now back on track and have now lost one and a half stone since I started a few months ago. 

Both Sophia and Jacob had check ups with the health visitor Sophia had a 26 month check up, we went to the clinic and they watched her play whilst I answered lots of questions about her. They said she has great problem solving and imaginative skills and is very confident. However they have referred her to physio as they think she may be hyper mobile like her mammy, I just hope she does not get the awful leg cramps I use to get as a child. 

She has also been referred for speech therapy as she is not putting four and five words together she only says one or two words together and refuses to say her own name. I was not concerned about her talking as she does speak and copies almost everything we say but they seem to think the fact she wont say her own name is strange. We have also started potty training her this last week and it is going well so far, touch wood. 

Jacob had his one year check up and he sailed through that as he is doing everything he should like walking, talking, feeding himself, playing etc. He weighs 26lbs now which seems so big, he is now in size 5 pampers nappies and is wearing his 12-18 month clothes and we are getting him his very first pair of shoes this week now that he is walking everywhere. 

Chloe has enjoyed the holidays as she has been able to spend most mornings in bed being a typical lazy teenager. She will be going into year 8 later this week when she returns to school and she will be 13 next month which seems so grown up to me. 


I have been a bit quiet on my blog and social media over the summer as I have been enjoying lots of family time and day's out. This has given me time to reflect on my blog and have a good think about things and I have decided that I am going to be making some changes to my blog over the next couple of months.

 Firstly I am all booked up for a new blog design which I am so excited about as it is getting done by the amazing Ellie illustrates who makes blogs look gorgeous. I am also going to stop saying yes to nearly every review I am offered as I don't want my blog to be review after review and sometimes I fear that is what is happening. I am also going to blog more often, don't hold me to that though as sometimes finding time to blog with children around is nigh on impossible. 

I am also going to blog more about things that I want to blog about and things that I think people will be interested in or that are happening in are life as I originally set this blog up to record are family life and it is kind of not happening any more. So expect a lot more personal posts coming up and hopefully some activities and days out as I really want to feature those kinds of posts more. I will still be doing my Slimming World posts as I am now back on track with my diet and I am also planning on sharing a lot more Slimming world recipes, as I love discovering new recipes myself. 

Anyway enough of me rambling on what has been happening blog wise in August ? Well I have lots of exciting e-mails lately and I can not wait to share some great sounding reviews and things with you all, I know that is such a cliche saying that. 

We were invited to Jungle Jacks softplay In Newcastle which was perfect for toddlers. We reviewed some Professor scrubbington's products, Minion items from Asda, Funky Giraffe bibs, Toxic Fox birthday gifts and the most perfect book for Christmas a personalised copy of the snowman and the snowdog. My most popular blog post in August was Growing your pinterest account . My favourite personal post was Jacob you are one which was a letter to my baby boy on his first birthday.

So that is what August was like for us, I am sure that September will be a an eventful month as Chloe returns to school and Sophia will be starting a pre-school three afternoons a week. We will be continuing with potty training so expect some posts on that this week. I am hoping to lose another half a stone on my diet this month, fingers crossed. And hopefully we will have some family adventures along the way too. 

What did you get up to in August ? I would love to know. 

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Monday, 31 August 2015

Things We liked In August

I have really been neglecting my blog over the summer as we have been enjoying so many days out and making the most of family time. As a result of this my little blog has been getting a bit neglected the last few months and I have had review items piling up. Instead of just posting review after review to catch up I thought that I would combine them into one post reviewing some of the items that we were lucky enough to be sent. 

Firstly we were sent some Thomas J Fudge salted caramel Florentines, these are described as being "A tantalising trio of chocolate, nuts and sated caramel". I am not normally a fan of anything salted caramel flavour but I thought I would give these a try.  They were rather nice they had a nice blend of nuts, raisins, chocolate and caramel and were really chewy and perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea as a treat.
Their is eight Florentines in each box and they are priced at £3.50 per box and are available from Ocado and Waitrose as well as on the Thomas J Fudge website.

We were also sent some bottles of Zoflora disinfectant in Citrus fresh and Bouquet fragrances. These are coming in very useful at the moment as we are currently potty training are toddler and these have been so useful for cleaning up little accidents she has had on the wood flooring, also for cleaning her potty out after use as this kill's 99.9 % of bacteria. 

They both have a lovely fresh scent which makes a nice change from some over powering disinfectants. The citrus fresh is my favourite out of the two as it nice and refreshing and I am not really a fan of floral scents. They really do eliminate bad odours and you can smell the Zoflora all day long but it is subtle and not too overpowering.


Zoflora is available to buy from pretty much anywhere and in a range of fragrances which you can find out more about on their website www.zoflora.co.uk.
We were sent a ceramic Ozeri green earth frying pan a few weeks ago now, I totally love this as it is perfect for rustling up omelets and all of my healthy slimming world meals. The pan is totally non stick and uses a natural ceramic coating called Greblon. The pan is 26cm and is a lovely bright green colour, and feels really heavy and good quality. 

Ozeri Pan
You really do not need to use extra oils when cooking with this pan as the textured surface makes it non stick. It is also really easy to clean as any residue just washes straight off, so no need for scrubbing , yay! 
Ozeri pan
You can buy this frying pan on Amazon where it is currently on sale for £24.99. 

And lastly as any regular readers know I have been doing the Slimming World diet as I am trying to lose all my baby weight ( I have a lot to lose ) and I was kindly sent some lovely recipe books to try out. One of the books I was sent was Slimming Worlds Little Book Of Summer, this is a really handy little recipe book that is small enough to fit in your handbag yet is jam packed with over 130 pages of mouthwatering summer recipes.

Slimming World Little Book Of Summer
The book is full of meals to suit everyone with a range of snacks, main meals, deserts and drinks with a good selection of vegetarian options too. There is a really nice Turkey and pepper goulash recipe which is so quick to make and some mouthwatering cherry cheesecakes in a jar that I am planning on making this week. 

Even though summer is almost over I know that I will still be making recipes from this book throughout the year and that I will be coming back to it next summer for lots of picnic inspiration. You can buy the Little Book Of Summer from Slimming World groups priced at just £3.95 which I think is a total bargain. You can find your nearest group on the Slimming World website

Disclosure: I was sent all of the above items free of charge for review purposes, however all opinions are my own. 

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Fajitas A Favourite Family Meal

Back in June I attended Britmums Live blogging event in London, whilst there I got chatting to the team from Santa Maria and was given some Fajita goodies to try out at home. I was challenged with coming up with a secret ingredient in the #TASTEsantamaria Fab Fajita Challenge. Fajitas are a huge hit in are house as it is one of the few foods that everyone in the family enjoys and is one of the few meals that is guaranteed to leave clean plates all around. It is also a brilliant way of getting the children to eat lots of hidden veggies.

Santa Maria Fajita Mix
Normally when we have Fajitas I just make them with Chicken and vegetables and a pack of Fajita mix. However as I was challenged with coming up with a secret ingredient I decided to add steak,  guacamole,  salsa and grated cheese which made these unbelievably tasty.

  • Diced chicken.
  • Diced steak.
  • One chopped onion.
  • Sliced mushrooms.
  • Three sliced peppers. 
  • One pack of Santa Maria Fajita Mix. 
Sliced veg for the Fajitas.
For the wrap
  • Santa Maria Tortillas.
  • Santa Maria Salsa.
  • Santa Maria Guacamole
  • Grated Cheese
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce.
  • I diced the meat and vegetables ready to start cooking up a feast.
  • I fried my diced steak and chicken in a frying pan until golden and cooked.
  • I then added the peppers, onion and mushrooms and fried these until golden.
  • Add the Fajita mix and stir together for a few minutes.
  • Warm the wraps up in the oven for a few minutes.
  • Add lettuce, salsa and guacamole to the wrap followed by some Fajita mixture and top with grated cheese before rolling up. 

And that is it a super quick and easy and oh so yummy meal that the whole family will enjoy. We often serve ours with spicy potato wedges and when I am being good on my diet I have mine with salad or rice instead of in a wrap and with wedges, to make it really healthy. 

The addition of the steak, cheese, salad and sauces made these wraps so much nicer then just the plain chicken and vegetable combination that we are use to. They really are so versatile and I imagine that you could add any kind of meats and vegetables to make yummy Fajitas.

The other half's Fajitas & wedges
Do you enjoy Fajitas? If so what is your 'secret' ingredient to make them so delicious.

Disclosure: I was sent some Santa Maria products for the purpose of this post and this is my entry into the #Tastasantamaria Fab Fajita challenge. However all photos, recipes and views are my own. 

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Being A Mum Of Three Is Hard

I love being a mum I really do, I know this sounds really cheesy but sometimes it feels like being a mum is what I was meant to do in life. My children are my whole world and I love them so much and I adore having a big family and a house filled with noise and laughter. Everything I do in life is for my children, I want to give them a good life and do the best for them. I want them to have the childhood that I had with foreign holidays and trips to Florida with parents who make them feel safe, secure, loved and happy. 

But I hold my hands up and admit that being a parent is hard, it is really hard. When I had my oldest I was so young at only 18 but I lived with my mum who helped me enormously. My mum taught me how to be a mum and she also looked after me, even when I moved into my own home she would do all my housework and help me with Chloe. 

When she died I had to stand on my own two feet and do things for myself but I managed and it was me and Chloe against the world, Chloe was like my best friend and we did everything together. Life was one big adventure just me and my girl and we had so much fun and so many adventures. Sure parenting was hard at times as a single parent I never had days off or sick days but I managed fine as it was just one little girl and me and I could devote myself entirely to her.

Ten years passed and I thought I had the whole parenting thing sussed out, I enjoyed it and loved being a mum. As Chloe grew she started getting independent and did not need me as much. Then we had Sophia and it was a huge shock to the system having a baby after such a big age gap, going back to sleepless nights was torture at first but I soon got into the swing of things and was lucky Sophia was such a good baby.

Being a mum of two was a bit more challenging as I had two girls who relied on me and wanted my attention. But I managed fine as when Chloe was at school I would spend time with Sophia we would go to so many baby groups and classes and then after school and weekends I would spend time with Chloe while Sophia spent time with her daddy. We found a way that worked for us and we were managing fine as a family of four. 

When Sophia was just five months old I fell pregnant with baby number three and we were overjoyed, when Jacob came into are lives a year ago he completed are family. We love him so much we really do and I would not change him for the world, but having three children is so hard. Everyday it feels like a constant juggling act, I am on the go from the moment I wake up until the children go to bed. The house feels like it is always a mess as I never have time to tidy or if I do a little person comes along and makes it messy again.

 I never get two minutes peace to have a cuppa or do anything as there is always a child around wanting attention. When Chloe is at school I have the two little ones with me, when Jacob is napping Sophia will be awake wanting attention then when the little two are in bed Chloe will want my attention and housework needs doing. I never get two minutes to myself, some days I don't even get the chance to have a shower or brush my hair I am that busy. I feel like I am being pulled in three different directions at once and as for time with the other half, forget that it never happens as we never have anyone to watch the children and are relationship is suffering from it. 

The thing I struggle the most with is not the mess or the lack of time to myself. No it is that I never get much one on one time with each child. Everyday I feel guilty that I don't spend much time with Chloe as I am always busy with her younger siblings, we rarely have days out and adventures just me and her anymore and we no longer have that special bond we once shared, that breaks my heart. 

I can't remember the last time I got to spend time just me and Sophia going out somewhere and getting to enjoy her and watch her discover the world. And I can count on one hand the number of times I have spent alone with Jacob since he was born. I feel like I have been too busy juggling all three children that I have missed out on all of Jacobs first year, that I have not enjoyed it as much as I should have done and now the baby days are almost over as my baby is now one. 

I hope my children know that they are loved, I hope that they know I wish I could spend more time with them on their own and I hope they know that I am sorry I shout too often and cry when things get tough. Yes being a mum of three is hard work and very challenging at times and it has almost broke me on more then one occasion, but I would never change it as when I see my children together and see the love they have for one another, my heart melts. And I know that when the little two grow that things will get easier and I will get more time with them on their own. 

But for now I am going to try and enjoy the chaos and mess and lack of time to myself as I know that in a few years I will miss these days and look back on them fondly and wish I could relive them again. Being a mum of three is hard but I would not have it any other way, although a cleaner and a day off mum duties once in a while would be nice. 

If you have three or more children how do you manage ? I would love to know as I am forever feeling guilty and like I am not giving my children enough undivided attention. 

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Birthday Gifts From Toxic Fox

My eldest daughter will be turning 13 in just a few weeks time and I have started to think about what to buy her and how to celebrate her turning into a teenager. I have been struggling for gift ideas for her as she no longer plays with toys and she does not let me buy her clothes any more, whenever I ask her what she would like she says says she does not know. She will probably decide on something she wants soon but I always like to get my children some little surprises to make things extra special.

So when Toxic Fox got in contact and asked if I would like to review something, I knew that I would find something that Chloe would love. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may remember me mentioning Toxic Fox before as I reviewed a scrabble frame for Valentines day. I am now a huge fan of the site and plan on getting some Christmas presents from there as they really do have a gift for everyone.

I had a browse of their Birthday range and a few things caught my eye but I soon discovered something that I knew Chloe would absolutely adore, a ClaireaBella personalised phone case. Chloe is like her mum she loves personalised items and like most teenagers she is glued to her mobile phone and has a bit of an obsession with phone cases. So when I spied this I knew that it was the perfect gift for her and was something she could use and keep. 

Personalised ClaireaBella phone case
The ClaireaBella personalised phone case is available for most iphone models as well as samsung S4 and S5 handsets. You get to customise your case so that you create a character that looks like the person you are buying it for and then you can add their name to personalise it.

Customising your case is really easy to do, firstly you get to choose a outfit from a range including glammed up or pregnant adults to princesses or relaxed kid outfits. I opted for the relaxed kid outfit as this is similar to how Chloe dresses in jeans and t-shirts. Next you get to pick a hairstyle from around ten different styles and I picked the kids ponytail as again this is how she normally wears her hair. You then select which colour hair, eye colour and skin tone and then add the name you would like and decide what colour case you would like from white, black, grey or pink and select which handset you would like the case for. 

On the phone
The case costs £24.99 and is handmade within the UK and is dispatched within around 5 working days. The case arrived within a few days via royal mail and I was impressed with it as soon as I seen it, it looked amazing and perfect for a teenager. It was fantastic quality, fitted her iphone 5c perfectly and the character actually looked like a cartoon version of Chloe. 

I know that it meant to be a birthday gift but I have already gave her the case as she seen it and instantly fell in love with it. She was over the moon with it and says that it feels nice on her mobile and she has shown it to her friends. As it was such a big hit I have already got my eye on a few more ClaireaBella items for her for Christmas, they do so many gorgeous items suitable for both adults and children such as bags, cups and make-up bags to name just a few. 

Side view of the phone case
If you are looking for a gift for someone for a special occasion, birthday or Christmas then I can not recommend Toxic Fox enough as their really is a gift for everyone from funny and unique gifts to gorgeous gifts and hampers for men, women and children too. If you get stuck buying a gift then their is a really useful ultimate gift finder guide which you can say who the gift is for and state your budget and then it will show you a selection of gift ideas to help make present buying so much easier. 

Disclosure: I was kindly sent this item free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own honest account of the product I received. 

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We're going on an adventure

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Penwizard The Snowman And The Snowdog Personalised Book

I am sure that regular readers will know by now that two of my favourite things are books and personalised items, as I am a huge fan of both. So imagine my delight when Penwizard offered me the chance to review a personalised copy of The Snowman and the snowdog and customise it to feature a little girl who looks just like my toddler Sophia who features in the book. I was in my element. 

Ordering and personalising your book is so quick and easy you simply visit the Penwizard website and select which book you would like from the huge selection available. You then decide if you want a hardback which is priced at £24.99 or a softback book £17.99 and then click create. You then select if it is for a boy or a girl and add their name and you also have the option of adding a personalised message in the book if you wish. 

You then get to create the character of the book to look like your child by selecting their hair style and colour, skin tone, if they wear glasses or not and you are also given a choice of what colour clothing you would like them to be wearing. You will then be showing a preview of your character and book and then you simply add your postage and payment details and that is it, it took me a matter of minutes to create and order the book. 

The book arrived in just a few days which I was really impressed by for a personalised book and I thought that it was fantastic quality. We have the hardback book just because I think these are better for young children, the pages of the book are lovely thick paper and every page is full of gorgeous illustrations and clear big black writing making them appealing to children. 

The snowman and the snowdog is such a lovely story perfect for Christmas and I am planning on putting this book into Sophia's Christmas eve basket so that she can have this as her bedtime story on Christmas eve. Children will love this story as right from the start they are in the story as they are the main character and their name is mentioned regularly throughout. 

Overall I really like this book as I think it is a lovely story, the quality is fantastic and children will love being featured in the story. I think this would be a perfect gift for a child as a Christmas present or as a special book to read on Christmas eve. I really do recommend them and think they would make a great addition to any book collection as it will be treasured and enjoyed for many years to come. 

Disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge for the purpose of this review , however all opinions are my own. 

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Slimming World : Week 17

A few day's ago I wrote a post about how I had not attended my Slimming World group for a few weeks and how I had falling off plan  and was thinking of changing my group to a one that would suit me better. Well on Monday night I attended my new group and I am so glad that I made the decision to switch groups, from the moment I stepped through the door I felt welcome and even though I have not stuck to plan the last three weeks I did not gain as much weight as I had feared.

Slimming World Book
I have joined a group that is in the village which I live in and is just a five minute walk away, I actually use to attend this group a few years ago for around six months before I fell pregnant with Sophia. It was nice to be back at this group as some of the members were still there from when I attended years ago. There was a new consultant Karen who instantly made me feel welcome and was so lovely and friendly and she explained she runs two groups one after the other so if I am unable to attend one due to my other half's shifts I can attend the later one instead. 

I was really nervous about stepping on the scales as I admit I have not stuck to plan the last few weeks as we have had meals out, family days out that have involved fish and chips and ice creams. It was also Jacobs first birthday so I had cake and we have also had a few takeaways the last few weeks too. So I was expecting to have gained around a stone, however I only gained 4.5lb which is not too bad. I think my eating habits have defiantly changed these last few months on Slimming World as I am not snacking as much and I have changed the way I cook and I am eating much healthier without really noticing these days.

I stayed to class which has really motivated me as everyone was so lovely and I learnt a few new recipe ideas. I also brought the new magazine which is probably my favourite issue yet as all the recipes look so delicious and not at all 'diet' like, with meals such as BBQ pulled chicken and Thai chicken curry. I am feeling focused and back on track and I am going to make sure that I try out all the yummy looking new recipes and mix my foods up a bit more as I was getting bored of eating the same things. I also have a review of the new Slimming World book Veggie Deluxe book coming up so keep an eye out for that as it is full of  scrumptious looking recipes. 

I am really hoping that I can lose at least 2lb this week but secretly I would love to lose the 4.5lb I have gained so that I am back to where I was before I mucked things up. I am feeling determined and inspired and I know that I can do this now. I am so glad that I made the decision to change groups as I know with the group support that I can get this weight off once and for all and finally feel confident in my own skin again. 

If you have been on a diet what have you found helps you get back on track after a setback ? 

You can find out more about Slimming World and find your nearest class on the website www.slimmingworld.com

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