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
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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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

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Printrbook The Facebook Photo Book : Review

A while ago I was given the chance to try out a photo book from Printrbook, which is a clever way of getting your Instagram or Facebook photos printed out into a cute little photo book. I opted to
 print a Facebook photo book , as I am really bad at taken photos adding them to Facebook and then forgetting all about them and never printing them out. 

I have eight years worth of photos on there ranging from drunken nights out when I was younger to pregnancy photos and precious newborn photos and pictures of my children when they were small. I would be devastated if I lost these treasured photos, so I instantly loved the idea of them being printed out into a little book that I could keep forever. 

Creating your book is really easy you just visit printrbook and then you either log in with you Instagram or Facebook account, whichever you want to use photos from or if you log into both you can add photos from each account. You then select which of your photos from your account you would like to upload into your book and add either 25 or 50 photos to your book. It is really quick and easy and as their is only one photo per page you don't have to spend ages arranging photos and layouts etc. 

You then decided what photos you would like on your books cover or you can tick a box to let it automatically choose for you, which I opted for. You then give your book a title and are given the option of writing a paragraph in your book and adding captions to your photos if you wish. Then you preview your book and click order, add your details and that is it. I found the whole process really easy and very quick and totally stress free. 

My order arrived fairly quickly in around a week via royal mail and easily fitted through my letterbox, so their was no need for anyone to be at home for the delivery. When I first seen the book it was smaller then I expected it to be as it is only 10 cm x 11 cm in size. I like the size of the book though as it is handy and would make a lovely present or keep sake for someone. 

I was impressed with the quality of the photos in the book as they were all really clear and bright despite all being taken on my mobile. The pages of the book were nice and thick and felt good quality too. They are all printed in chronological order so my photos show my children from being tiny newborns to how they are now which I think is really lovely as it is like the last few years of my life in picture format. 

I really like these books they are super quick and simple to create and they are fantastic quality. I really do think these would make a wonderful gift for someone as a way of reminding them of happy memories. I think so many of us are guilty of taken photos adding them to social media and then forgetting all about them, so why not print them out with Printrbook so you can treasure them forever.

You can order your own Printrbook from the website a 25 page book costs £12.99 and a 50 page book costs £15.99 and they both include free shipping to anywhere in the world. And I have a discount code for 10 % off your very own book just use code newfamlife10 at the checkout, valid until the 30 th September 2015.

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Falling Off The Diet Wagon

If you are a regular reader you will know that I have been following the Slimming World diet plan and blogging my progress each week in the hope it would motivate me to stick to plan. It was working, I posted a weight loss update every week and I was enjoying the diet. However you may have noticed that I have not posted an update for a few weeks now. I hold my hands up and admit I have fallen off the plan and have not been attending group and have more then likely been gaining weight.

I feel really disappointed in myself that I am undoing all of my hard work. I also feel rather rubbish in myself if I am honest as I feel bloated and lethargic and my skin is not as clear as it was. I could blame the holidays for falling off my diet wagon as we have had family days out and meals out as well as many takeaways and ice creams. But it is not the holidays fault it is my fault as I could have still enjoyed meals out on the plan if I had of chosen different meals, that is the beauty of Slimming world no food is ever banned. 

Normally whenever I start a diet I do well for so long and lose weight and then I have a bad week, skip group and vow I will stick to plan the following week, only to have another bad week and then I give up on my diet think I am failure and slip back into my old eating habits and gain even more weight. 

I am determined that this is not going to happen this time, I need to lose weight, I am overweight and it is unhealthy. None of my old clothes fit and my weight is also preventing me from being the mum I want to be as I refuse to take my children swimming or on rides at the fair as I feel to fat. I can also no longer say "oh its just baby weight",  as my baby has just turned one this week. 

So this week I have been thinking about how I can get back on plan and focus 100 % on losing weight. I have decided that the best thing for me to do is join a different Slimming World class as I love the plan and I know that it really does work and is the only diet that I actually stick to. I have decided to change class for a few reasons mainly because I did not like the class I was at.

 It was a class at 9 am on a weekday morning which I felt was perfect as I always seem to weigh less first thing in the morning. However the class was really busy and sometimes I would spend up to half an hour just waiting in a line to get weighed. I also often had my children with me and they would get restless and prevented me from staying to class, which was a major disadvantage as the main element of Slimming world is staying to class as you learn and get support. As the class was so busy I never spoke to my consultant once in three months I attended and I never got the chance to talk to any other members. 

So I have had a look on the slimming worlds website and I have found a new class just down the road from where I live and it is at 7pm on a Monday evening. This means I will be able to attend on my own without the children as they will be in bed with daddy looking after them. I will be able to stay to group every week and it is also a much smaller and less busy group which is what I think I need. I am the perfect example that to stick to the plan and give it 100 % you need to find a group that works best for you. I need to stay to group each week as just weighing and then leaving is preventing me getting the support and motivation that I need.

So tomorrow night I am joining my new group and I am also going to stick to my weekly meal planning. I am going to make sure I try lots of new recipes as I think I was sticking to the same meals too much last time and getting bored. I am also going to Instagram my meals daily to help keep me motivated and I will be blogging my weight loss each week again too. 

If anyone else is in the same situation as I am don't give up on your diet just write things off and start again tomorrow. Or if you need to find a new class then find one, as I for one know that without attending group I wont stick to the plan and I will just end up gaining weight instead of losing it. It is time for me to get back on track, lose the weight and be the mum that I want my children to have. After all life is to short to keep putting things of and being unhappy with my weight. 

If you are on a diet what helps motivate you to keep on track ? 

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Jacob You Are One

Dear Jacob 

Happy birthday baby boy mammy can not believe that you are one today! The last year seems to have gone by so quickly and you are no longer a baby but a little toddler boy with lots of personality. It really does not seem so long ago since the day you were born, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been so worried about being induced early with you as I was told you were a small baby, well the doctors got that wrong as you weighed 8lb 6.5 and you arrived super quick in just 40 minutes. 

You have only been a part of are family for one year but it feels like you have been here forever and you complete are family, your mummy's little dude, daddy's little man and Chloe and Sophia's baby brother. Mummy does not write about you or share many photos of you on the blog , but as it is your birthday I wanted to let you know how much you mean to us and what your first year was like.

You have been hard work this last year, the first four months with you were tough as you had bad colic and would scream from the moment you woke until the moment you went to bed every day for four months. At four months you stopped crying and your personality started to shine through but now at one year old you still don't sleep at night and have mammy and daddy up lots during the night and then super early every single morning. thanks son. 

Growing up with two big sisters you figured out early on how to get attention, by screaming loudly. You don't scream in pain or anything you just scream very loudly for attention or to get your own way. You and Sophia are only 14 months apart so you fight a lot you hit, bite and pull her hair when she is mean to you, but lately the two of you have started to play together and will kiss and hug each other and look for each other when the other is not around. I really think you two will be the best of friends. You love your biggest sister Chloe too although she never plays with you, but you love cuddling her and she is the only person you ever fall asleep on. 

At one you can do so much you started walking at 11 months and it is so cute watching you toddling around as you get so proud of yourself. You love to climb and are forever climbing on things, especially the sofa and then you like to pull all the cushions off and throw them on the floor. You also like to stand at the stairgate and rattle it really hard and loudly which you think is funny. You are such a daddy's boy these days and you follow him everywhere like a shadow and shout for him all the time.

You can clap, blow kisses, bounce up and down and if we say 'dance' you will say 'dance, dance' and wiggle your bum which is very cute. You give kisses and cuddles and wave hello and bye. You adore Jake and the neverland pirated and whenever it comes on you shake your arm and say 'yo ho ho'. It is the only tv show you will watch as you don't like anything else. 

You like playing with toys your favourite things are anything with wheels on that move, building blocks, happyland figures as you like to chew them, books and Sophia's little tikes car which you are always sitting in. You love being out in your buggy now which is a relief as you hated it when you were small. You love the swing in the garden and at the park and you have started to like soft play now too. You love your food and have always ate whatever we gave you, your favourites are apples, bananas, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, toast, yogurt and pasta. 

I really can not believe you are one, you really have changed so much this last year and we have all fallen in love with you and your cute little cackling laugh and big blue eyes and cheeky smile make everyone else fall in love with you too. Happy birthday little dude I hope that you have a fantastic day today and that you like your pirate cake and enjoy going out for the day. I can't wait to see you open your presents and hope you like the toys we got you. 

 Happy birthday Jacob Oliver Joseph my little one year old boy, you will always be my baby and I can't wait to see how you grow over the next year. Love you lots love from mammy xxx

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Calm Colour Create Magazine : Review And Giveaway

 I adored colouring in as a child and now I am a mum I enjoy colouring with my children.  In the last few months I have noticed that adult colouring books have became really popular and I have been tempted to get myself a one. Well now their is also a monthly colouring magazine available for adults called Calm Colour Create

The magazine is filled with 60 + pages of beautiful calming black and white designs for you to colour in, with a mix of patterns, mandala's and triangle designs. The magazine is great quality and very appealing and as soon as I received it I wanted to start colouring straight away.

Calm Colour Create Magazine
The magazine came complete with a set of five pencils, which was handy as all we have is half chewed crayons in our house. I found this magazine really relaxing and calming and it was the perfect way to sit and relax on a evening once my children were in bed. 

I was sent the first issue of Calm, Colour, Create which has a ocean theme which includes lots of fish and underwater designs. The next issue is available from the end of August and retails at £4.99 which I think is a good price for such a good quality magazine that will give you hours of relaxing colouring fun.

You can buy Calm, Colour, Create from all leading supermarkets and good newsagents each month and I personally will be buying the next issue as I really enjoyed the first one. If you fancy trying out the magazine yourself then I have a giveaway in which three lucky readers can win a copy of Calm Colour Create for themselves. 

To enter just enter one or more of the entry's on the Rafflecopter below. Open to UK residents only, three winners will be selected via random by Rafflecopter from all correct entry's received by the closing date. Make sure you enter correctly as all entries will be checked and verified. Prize will be sent direct from the prize promoter. 

Good luck

                 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure I was sent a copy of Calm Colour Create free of charge for the purpose of this review however all views are my own. 

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

What I Learnt At Britmums Live 2015

It seems like so long ago since I attended Britmums Live 2015 thanks to my wonderful sponsor MAM UK. I wrote about my experience of Britmums Live soon after the event and I came away with a notebook full of tips and a head full of ideas on how to improve this little blog of mine. Then I came home and I was exhausted, seriously it took me days to recover. I kind of lost my way a bit blogging and it is only now almost three months later that I have fallen back in love with blogging again. 

I have been reading my notebook of tips I learnt whilst I was there and I thought that I would share with you some of the things that I learnt from Britmums. I have loved reading what other people learnt as everyone seems to have had different experiences and learnt completely different things. 
The sessions I attended were Google +, Social media, Bloggers and brands, Beginners SEO and Photo styling. So this will be a quick run down of little things I learnt in each of those sessions.

  • If you are a blogger it is best to have a profile rather then a page, as profiles preform better and pages are more for businesses. 
  • You can post anything you want on Google + but a good rule is four pieces of others content to every one piece of your own. 
That is about all I learnt, I know that sounds terrible and other people in the session learnt so much but I just don't get Google +. I know I have a profile as I am on blogger so automatically have a one, but I never go on it and don't understand it, even after going to a session on it. 

  • Have consistent account names on all your accounts. It is also best to sign up to new channels such as Periscope and claim your name and then just park your account, until you decided you want to grow it.
  • Have a presence on all the main social media channels but make sure you concentrate on doing two well and just let the others tick over, or you will wear yourself too thin. 
  • If you want one account to just tick along get into the habit of posting from other social media accounts, such as linking your Instagram to your Facebook page. 
  • Watermark your Pinterest images so if it gets re-pinned it will have your logo on to link back to your site.
  • Make sure you are active on all accounts daily and always reply to every social media comment. 
  • Use Google + daily as it is good for SEO.
  • It is best to focus on the big four channels Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and let the other ones such as Google +, Tumbler and Linkedin just tick along. 
  • Update Facebook 2-3 times per day to increase engagement, don't post more than this as it is seen as spammy, also share posts from high preforming pages. 
  • Post a lot of other peoples content regularly, not just your own.
  • Brands want to work with bloggers with good engagement over high followers. 
  • Use lots of hastags on Instagram and comment on lots of peoples photos.
  • That I really need to start scheduling as I have never scheduled anything before and everyone else is, as it is the only way to stay on top of twitter. 
  • When brands are looking for bloggers to work with they will look at your reach, social following, your tone of voice and if you are a good fit for the campaign, your photography skills and your willingness to work together.
  • Social reach is important but a loyal engaged audience is more desirable to a brand. 
  • Make sure sponsored post / reviews are always followed by an original post you have not been compensated in any way for. 
  • It is OK to work for a low value item or for free if you want to build a relationship with a brand.
  • Be proactive when approaching brands, I have only ever contacted a brand once before and never even realised people were contacting brands to work with them. So maybe I will start doing this as I always think my blog is to small, but I have realised my stats are actually not to bad. 
  • When working with a brand always mention the brand in social media coverage and either take screen shots or send the social media URL to the brand of any positive comments / shares etc.
  • Always use titles with keywords in.
  • Always add a link to a previous blog post in every post.
  • Only use one label when tagging your posts.
  • You need to add a description to each of your photos.
  • Always write your posts naturally then optimise them for SEO afterwards.
  • Only use one external link per post. 
  •  Use no follow if you don't trust the site, its a review or paid for posts and use follow links for sites you trusts such as other peoples blogs etc. 
  • Use alt tags on images if you want them to appear in google images. 
  • The main elements of SEO are your title, the first line of your post, your URL and the categories / labels you add to your post. 
  • If you search site:your URL without WWW it will show you what posts have been indexed by Google. 

This was my favourite session and is something I really need to work on.
  • Always have a story behind the photo.
  • Objects should not be touching, if they do touch you need to overlap them.
  • Group things together in odd numbers.
  • Pick objects of different heights, textures, sizes to bring the image to life.
  • Make the background clutter free and use little objects from around the home to help style the photo.
  • Always use natural light.
  • Make cheap diy backdrops with wallpaper, foam boards or cards. 
  • Focus on small areas and remember to crop photos.
  • keep Instagram photos simple
  • Use the grid to keep your Instagram photos straight
  • Don't use Instagram filters, just brighten your photos. 
  • Find your style and stick to it.
So that is what I learnt, I found all of the sessions useful especially the photo styling and beginning SEO. I also realised that I need to start having some belief in my blog and realise that people do actually read it and that it is not as bad as I think it is. I also need to start realising that actually my stats are OK and that I should maybe start to approach brands, as I have been lucky so far in that brands have always approached me. Now I just need to find the time to try and put everything I learnt into practice. 

The biggest thing I brought away from Britmums though was friendship, I was lucky enough to meet so many some lovely bloggers who were all just as nice as I expected them to be in real life and who I really hope I can meet again someday. I will defiantly be going to more blogging events from now on and if anyone is thinking of going to a one then go, as I am sure you will have a great time.

Have you attended a blogging event yet ? 

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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Funky Giraffe Bibs : Review

One baby item that I think that you can never have enough of is baby bibs, you will need them for the early newborn days to clean up milk dribbles and sick right through to the toddler days when you will need them for teething dribbles and messy eating. Over the years I have brought so many different bibs from so many different places and by far my favourite kind is the stylish bandanna bibs as I think they look nicer and can complete a little outfit. I have brought a few over the years both online and from the high street and have found Funky Giraffe bibs to be the best, as they are very absorbent as well as being super stylish. 

So when I was offered the chance to review some Funky Giraffe bibs for Jacob I jumped at the chance, as now he is a little bigger I thought he could do with some more stylish bibs. We were given the choice of which bibs we would like and I opted for a ten pack of bibs that I thought would look great with his outfits. The pack contained a mix of plain coloured and pattered bibs in a range of blue, black and grey colours and with a rocker theme to them with patterns such as motorbikes and guitars. 

Funky Giraffe 10 pack of bibs
The bibs arrived quickly and I was impressed with the quality of them as they are super soft and have a fleece backing to them making them very absorbent, perfect for a dribbly teething baby like mine. Their is two poppers on the back to fasten them so you can have it on a small or larger fastening. I personally prefer popper fastenings as little ones find them harder to undo and they wash better then Velcro fastenings. 

Back of the bib
Jacob is 11 months old and he is a big boy and these bibs fitted him perfectly and I know that they will last him for a long time. They seemed really comfortable for him to wear as they have been designed with folds in the material around the neck making them comfortable for babies. The cut of the bibs also makes it a great fit to stop dribble and milk spills escaping down the creases of babies necks. Jacob dribbles all day and his tops were kept dry when wearing these bibs, even when he was drinking his juice which he normally spills everywhere. 

Another thing to mention is that these bibs have washed really well too and have stayed feeling really soft even after a wash. The patterns on them have also stayed in great condition and have not came off or faded like so many do after a wash. 

You can buy these bibs online in packs of five or ten or as singular bibs and their is a huge selection of designs to choose from for boys or girls or in unisex designs. Prices start at just £2 per bib and their is often many special offers available, with a ten pack like we got costing £20. They also sell satin and personalised bibs for special occasions and a range of other baby products like socks and scratch mitts. As well as the UK site they are also available in America , France and Australia too. So why not go and check out the website now and see what gorgeous bibs they sell as I am sure that their will be a bib to suit everyone and every outfit. Have you tried Funky Giraffe bibs yet? 

Disclosure: I was sent these bibs free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all words, opinions and photos are my own. 

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

How To Grow Your Pinterest Account And Get More Blog Traffic

I love Pinterest and could happily spend hours looking at amazing cakes or children's bedroom decor, but I don't really use it to promote my blog posts, I think I have only pinned a handful of my own blog posts. I am also guilty of going on once every so often pinning tons of pretty things then neglecting my account for days or weeks at a time. However even though I only have a fairly small following on there (in the 300s) I do actually get traffic from Pinterest every single day, thanks to a few Slimming World recipe posts.

So when I heard that Pinterest UK were holding a talk for bloggers in Newcastle at the biscuit factory, I knew I had to attend and find out how Pinterest actually works. I thought it would also be useful to see if I could use it to gain more traffic to my blog. The talk was held by Lizzie who works for Pinterest UK and this is what I learnt.

Pinterest badge 
Firstly Pinterest is often referred to as a social network but it is in fact not classed as a social network at all but a visual discovery tool, which helps people find ideas that are tailored to their interests. A huge 80 % of users visit via mobile, so it is important that your blog is mobile optimised or you will end up with a high bounce rate if people visit via Pinterest. The average pin is pinned 11 times which can result in lots more traffic to your blog.

So first things first how does Pinterest work? 
  • As it is a visual discovery tool it relies on your pin description and the name of your boards to help you find relevant pins. 
  •  Most content is found via the search bar on the homepage.
  • Their is no 'good' time to pin like people are often led to believe, as most content is found via search.
  • Commenting on other pins/ boards has no value at all and if you comment too much you could get blocked.
  • Hastag's do not work, always use a thoughtful description and defiantly don't use emojis. 
  • You can not ask people to re pin one of your pins ie for a competition as this could get you blocked. 
  • Follow count is a bad measure of success as re pins are more valuable then followers.
keep calm and pin pin pin badge
How do you grow your account?
  • Pin regular, daily if you can as this will get you noticed more.
  • Show what inspires you via your boards. 
  • Share lots of good content from others in your niche to help build up your brand, don't just pin your own content.
  • Pin content from around the web that you see when searching the web, don't just pin things already on Pinterest.
  • Make sure your boards have relevant names
  • Add detailed descriptions to pins, don't just re pin something, change the description to explain what you are pinning.
  • Content is evergreen and things like weddings and home decor are huge.
  • No such thing as too many pins or too many boards
  • It also does not matter what your boards look like as hardly anyone but you will see them, as most people wont look at your boards they will just see shared pins.
  • Only pin quality images of things you want to pin don't just pin everything in sight.
  • Check the link of a pin before pinning it to check where it leads too.
  • Make your boards engaging.
  • Get rich pins as this helps your content get found and it also gives you some editorial control over your pins.
  • Be careful when joining collective boards with people you do not know as you do not know what they will post. It is best to just join boards with people that you know and who have similar interests as yourself.
Been there pinned that badge
How to get more traffic.
  • Make sure you sign up for a business account for your blog when you are offered a one from Pinterest, this makes your profile more professional and your pins easier to find.
  • Make sure you verify your account as this will enable you to access analytics.
  • Optimise your blog for pinterest , by making sure it is mobile ready, has pinnable images and a pin it badge.
  • Make sure your pins redirect to the Pinterest UK site.
  • Use a long portrait image as the first picture in your blog posts and make sure it looks pinnable, relevant and appealing. 
  • Make sure your image's always links back to your blog, you can edit the source in settings.
  • Make sure you include a good description in your pins.
  • Use tasteful branding on your pins and make sure all your images start to look easily identifiable as yours.
  • Make sure you do not over promote yourself in the description.
  • Make it easy for others to pin or re pin your content.
  • List type posts always do well on Pinterest.
  • Images with text overlays are the most re pinned images, but try to avoid logos and boarders on photos.
  • Move your boards around regularly, making sure you move relevant boards to the top of your profile at least two months before an event. Such as make sure Christmas boards are at the top of your profile by October as goggle searches your boards up to two months in advance.
  • Add some of your pins or boards to your blog posts as this can encourage more people to follow you if they like what they see.
Pinterest notebook
So that is what I learnt , I also learnt lots of other things but as a Pinterest newbie they flew straight over my head. But if like me you are just getting to grips with Pinterest then these are sure fire ways to increase your following and start to get some extra traffic to your blog. But bear in mind that sometimes it takes a while to start getting traffic. 

Another useful thing I was told was to search and then add your URL after source as this will show you what others have pinned from your blog. Now I just need to find the time to verify my account and remember to start pinning lots of pretty things I find from around the web as well as adding some of my own blog posts. And if you fancy following me you can view my Pinterest boards. If you use Pinterest what do you find useful for growing your account and getting more traffic?

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Jungle Jacks Soft Play At Eldon Leisure Newcastle

The summer holidays have been a bit of a wash out here in the North East with lots of rainy day's and not many sunny day's. I am sure now we are into the third week of the summer holiday's that their has been many shouts of "I'm bored" from the children of the north east. Well I have discovered a brilliant new place right in the heart of Newcastle that will appeal to children young and old, the newly refurbished Eldon leisure complex. 

Situated upstairs in Eldon Square the centre has been part of a £3 million development project which includes an upgraded gym, 8 lane ten pin bowling alley, Vertigo climbing area and Jungle Jacks soft play as well as two cafes. We were invited to try out the new facilities and we decided to try out the new soft play, as my baby and toddler adore trips to the soft play.

As soon as we got out of the lift and entered the new leisure complex we were greeted by staff at the large reception desk. We were then directed to the soft play area which you need a security code for the door's to get into, making it safer for little children as you have to pass through two sets of security doors to enter the soft play. My first impressions of the soft play was that it is just the right size for young children as it is not too big and not too small, making it perfect for children to run around whilst parents can keep a close eye on them. 

The soft play is bright and colourful and very clean. When you enter their is a small cafe to the left serving drinks and snack and tables dotted around the room close to the equipment so you can see what your children are doing. There was a small baby area which consisted of an enclosed padded play area with a few toys in and a small ball pool. Jacob who is aged 11 months loved this area and he happily sat in the ball pool for half an hour playing away. 

There is then a toddler area which again is on padded mats and this had climbing frames, tunnels and slides as well as some activity's for little ones to enjoy. My toddler Sophia loved jumping along the stepping stones and running around the maze area under the climbing frame, although she was too scared to go on the slide as you had to cross a rope to get to it. 

Towards the back of the room is a big play area for slightly older children which consisted of climbing frames, slides, tunnels and play equipment. Sophia loved this area as she enjoyed going on the slides with her daddy. We visited on a weekday morning and Jungle Jacks was fairly busy but we were still able to get a seat and play on everything.

I really liked the fact that the soft play is for under 8s only as I often find that if we visit soft plays it can be full of older children running around and my toddler gets knocked over or cant get on anything. Jungle Jacks is a great place to visit if you have young children and they are getting bored on a shopping trip, or if you are wanting to meet friends in the city for a catch up and have your children with you. 

Jungle Jacks is open everyday 9am-6pm with last admission at 5pm. It is fairly reasonable priced too with babies under one being free, 1-3 years old cost £4.50 and 4-8 year olds £5.50 but if you have a leisure centre card then prices are cheaper. They also offer party packages which are priced at £10 per child, full details can be found on the website

We will defiantly be returning to Jungle Jacks in the near future as Sophia and Jacob loved it and did not want to leave when it was time to go. I am also planning on taken my oldest daughter who is twelve bowling as she enjoys this and i also love the sound of the vertigo adventure climbing as this looks and sounds like lots of fun. So if you are looking for a fun activity to do with your children these holidays why not visit Eldon leisure as I am sure your children will enjoy it just as much as mine did. 

Disclosure : We were invited to try Jungle Jacks soft play free of charge for the purpose of this review. 
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