Category Archives: Home and Lifestyle

Willow’s Activity Farm Santa Spectacular 2017 Competition

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I can’t believe were nearly in November. Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE Christmas. After all it is the most magical time of year and I do my best to make it as magical as possible for Oscar and Archie.

Last Christmas we visited Willow’s Activity Farm and met Father Christmas during their Santa Spectacular event. The boys had an amazing day and their were so many activities to do as well as meeting the big man himself! Every child will have a chance to meet Santa in his spectacular grotto and receive a golden key to Santa’s Toy Shop, they can then choose from hundreds of toys. The excitement on the kids faces when you go into Santa’s toy shop is amazing.


Willow’s is somewhere we visit a lot as its only 10 miles from where we live. In fact we went last week with our toddler group.

This festive season, Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm is the only event for families looking for a truly magical day out. Starting from 22 November – 24 December, you can enjoy the ultimate festive experience in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

You can join in at the Elf Academy, learning the basics of how to be an elf from Santa’s elves all the way from the North Pole – including the Elf-a-bet! The Create-a-Cuddle workshop will also be open daily, allowing little ones to make their very own reindeer cuddly toy to take home, all included in the entrance price.


The popular 3D film is back, with children able to take off into the skies on an adventure with Santa, this was super impressive last year! Then try a real life magical ride in the Willows festive wood on Tristan the Runaway Tractor. Tristan the tractor is Archie’s favourite! Indoors there is the synthetic ice rink, Christmas shows including an Elf Sing-a-Long and Nativity performances featuring farm animals. Plus, meet Mischka, the Alaskan Malamute and Santa’s reindeer. It is a seriously jam packed fun filled day out for the whole family to enjoy!


As well as all of the above the usual activities are open as well; The Farmyard, Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground™,  the indoor soft play areas, the funfair rides, bouncing haystacks, Peter Rabbit woodland play trail, the big dig, trampolines, cotton-tail village and so much more! As well as plenty of places to grab something to eat or drink.


The lovely team at Willow’s Activity Farm have kindly given me a family ticket to be used during their Santa Spectacular (22 November – 24 December) and have a magical day out! So enter below and good luck!

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Putting Your Families Health First At One Stop Doctor

As a parent your children are always your main priority and when they fall ill or hurt themselves you always want the best care for them. I know from previous experience I have sometimes had to wait a day or two for a GP appointment and getting a dentist appointment is like gold dust, our last NHS appointment was delayed two times because of funding. Luckily for us there is a pioneering new healthcare clinic ‘The One Stop Doctor’ that has recently launched in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire that is putting the needs of families at the heart of their quick and friendly services. The clinic is stunning, more like a five star hotel and the staff are all so welcoming and friendly.

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One Stop Doctors in Hemel Hempstead is open 365 days a year from early morning to late evening with a full complement of paediatric services all under one roof. This includes same-day appointments with GPs and dentists who will be able to offer immediate relief for worrying mums and dads whose children are unwell, perhaps with persistent fevers, colds, chesty coughs or toothache. There’s also a private pharmacy that can provide commonly needed drugs straight away.

Only a couple of weeks ago Archie had a high temperature and his little heart was beating quite fast, which is a common symptom of a fever. Greg thought we should take him to A & E but I called the One Stop Doctor for a late night appointment which was available with no problem at all.

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The team of multi-disciplinary health professionals at the clinic are highly experienced in treating common childhood conditions from feeding difficulties in babies and toddlers through to providing allergy testing and advice, alongside treatment for asthma and access to the full range of childhood vaccinations and immunisations. This is fantastic as in our area we were not offered the BCG and I paid privately for both Oscar and Archie to be immunised but had to travel into London. Now having a clinic so local to us is a god send!

One Stop Doctors is one of a number of outlets nationwide that offers the Mummy MOT, a one-hour assessment which gives a thorough examination of mum’s pelvic floor strength and tummy gap – to assess any physical problems that have arisen from pregnancy and birth. The Mummy MOT can also help mums years after childbirth with their pelvic floor strength. The clinic is also putting together special Mother and Baby packages for both expectant mothers and mothers of young children. No more travelling all the way into London for Mother and Baby services!

The specialist dental team are also experts in orthodontics and oral health with a variety of teeth-straightening options for young ones and appointments at convenient times for parents.

The clinic has invested heavily in the latest diagnostic imaging machinery including advanced MRI scanning equipment, CT, ultrasound and digital X-ray, which means that One Stop Doctors is able to offer an on-site urgent care and fracture clinic. We were at a birthday party about six weeks ago and Oscar’s friend fell off a swing and her parents on a Friday night at 7pm got an X-Ray appointment straight away instead of waiting for hours in a busy Friday night A & E department. She was then plastered straight away.

One Stop Doctors is fully accredited by all major regulators and private medical insurance companies, such as Bupa, Aviva and Cigna so it’s easy to pay, and is approved by the Care Quality Commission. However, what makes this pioneering clinic truly unique is its one-of-a-kind membership plan. This allows families to join for only £65 a month and gives them the ability to spread the cost of treatment in a payment plan, with no interest or credit agreement and provides guaranteed same-day GP appointments for any number of children aged 21 and under. This means that parents can spread the cost of healthcare for their children, making the very best private healthcare accessible and affordable.

Keep Your Family Happy & Healthy!

With the ability for parents to book appointments directly, and the large amount of free parking available to patients right outside the clinic, many of the usual stresses of visiting a medical establishment with children are taken away.

For more information and to book an appointment visit www.onestopdoctors.co.uk or call 0800 852 1234.

Hitchin Lavender Farm

I have wanted to go to Hitchin Lavender Farm for a few weeks since I saw lots of beautiful family photos amongst the lavender rows on Instagram but as the weather has been so awful we hand’t got to go. So on Sunday as the Sun was shining we decided to make the 30 minute journey. I packed my new Olympus Pen 8 and tripod and off we went.


Hitchin Lavender is a lavender farm attraction close to both London and Cambridge and they have 25 miles of lavender rows which you can walk through and pick your own fresh flowers from. When we arrived we parked up and paid only £11 for the four of us to get in and we got given a bag and scissors to pick and collect our own Lavender. Adults are £5.00 (picking included), Under 14’s are £1 and Under 5’s are free. You can buy additional bags to fill for £4.


The farm is open from 10am until 5pm every day throughout the season which runs from mid June until early September.


As soon as we got to the field, the smell was amazing! I love the smell of Lavender. The boys enjoyed picking their lavender and filling up their brown bags and we took so many great photos. You can also pay £50 for a professional photo shoot but if you have a good camera and a tripod you can get some great pictures.


We had a great morning, captured lots of great photos and it was a really cheap and fun family day out. We will be going back next Summer and making our family photo in the lavender rows an annual thing!

 

Oscar’s Marvel Themed Bedroom

When we started building our house last year one thing I was really excited about was making both the boys bedrooms as amazing as possible. I had looked on Pinterest for ideas and brought more home and interiors magazines than I care to admit. I eventually decided on a Marvel themed bedroom for Oscar as he is really into it.

I found online that Dulux sold a Marvel themed bedroom kit with a wallpapered mural and the blue paint to match it. When I went to buy it online I had to really hunt for it as to my horror it had been discontinued so as soon as I found it I brought it and just kept it in our loft until we needed it. We did have to buy extra paint as the paint provided in the box wasn’t enough for a the size of Oscar’s room. The whole kit was £109.


I then saw a Philip’s wall light online of Spider-Man and it looks like he is coming through the wall. As soon as I saw it I knew Oscar would love it and we had to get it. The head and hand come as two separate lights and included is the crack effect sticker which our decorator put up for us. The lights themselves are just battery lights so when Oscar is older and doesn’t want them anymore they are simple to take off and paint over. The were £35 each and they look fantastic, especially at night! They are cheaper now on amazon at only £19.99 each. (Link below).


I then spent some time looking on websites like Etsy for Marvel accessories and found a lady who made wooden letters and paints them in various children’s characters. She made me ‘Oscar’ in different Marvel characters and it cost £50. I also found a wooden Marvel car and peg doll characters which was £40. The picture on the wall above is by Doug Hyde and was given to Oscar on his Christening Day five years ago.

I got Marvel Avenger bedding online as well and that was £25 for a double and a side table night light which again is made by Philip’s off Amazon which was £20.

We didn’t show Oscar his new room until it was all finished and he absolutely loves it! He was jumping up and down, it was very cute! Look out next week for some more boys bedroom inspiration when I will post what we did with Archie’s bedroom.

Oscar & Archie’s Photo Shoot With Stokke & AlexandAlexa.com

We brought our first ever Stokke Tripp Trapp when Oscar was small and then went on to use used it when Archie was born with the newborn seat. I then brought the Stokke Steps as Oscar got annoyed that he had to share his Tripp Trapp with Archie.  In addition to a wide of variety of colours and accessories, Stokke now offers complimentary engraving of the back of their Tripp Trapp chair with your child’s name, adding that extra special personal touch.


I first saw a personalised Tripp Trapp in the flesh last month when Oscar and Archie were both models for the collaboration between Stokke and Alexandalexa.com for Baby London which you can see HERE. Alexandalexa.com sell the most beautiful kids clothes with a huge range of designers on offer. Both Oscar and Archie were kitted out for head to toe in brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Adidas, Bang Bang Copenhagen, Stella McCartney, Tao & Friends, Veja and Zoobug Sunglasses. They both looked so cute!

We had such a fun day and the boys loved being part of the shoot, strutting their stuff and being spoilt by the lovely ladies at Azaria! We got to meet up with some other lovely bloggers/instagramers and their gorgeous children; Jessica from Lilypod & Sweetpea, Chelsea with Harlen and Harlow, Lisa from LeeLee Loves and Becky from Wishes & Wellies.


Stokke then kindly sent each of the boys a personalised Tripp Trapp in the hazy grey colour which matches our kitchen perfectly!  Archie uses his with the baby set and a star print cushion which is so easy to wipe and keep clean and Oscar uses it as a chair at the table, keeping my lovely new chairs clean! 🙂



I love that with the Tripp Trapp they grow with your child starting with the newborn seat, to the highchair using the baby set, to a chair for bigger children and even adults can sit on it too. The great design means it doesn’t look out of place and blends in with our other furniture.


The boys love their personalised Tripp Trapps and using them everyday! The Tripp Trapps are £169 and the engraving is free of charge!

 

 

B-Sensible Bedding Review

Recently because we have just moved into our new house we have got new mattresses for the boys beds. I have always used protective sheets under our bedding in case they have any accidents or Archie drops his bottle and milk leaks. On my shopping list was new protective sheets and then we were contacted by B-Sensible who sell fantastic protective sheets for your pillows and mattresses in various sizes and colours. The best thing about them is they are 2 in 1 so instead of having to change sheets and the protective sheet underneath now you only have the B-Sensible protective sheets.

What makes B-Sensible different from any other mattress protectors is that the sheets are super soft and contain a cosmetic grade zinc oxide which has been incorporated into the sheet fibres and stays there wash after wash which provides cosmetic, regenerative, skin protection and is also odour reducing and has huge antibacterial benefits. Also having just the one sheet on the bed I found made the boys cooler at night when they slept.

In our house we are clean freaks and our friends often laugh at our crazy ways and when I read up on the B-Sensible sheets they ticked all the boxes for me. Obviously everyone is different but I change our bedding every 4-5 days and hoover the mattresses when I change the bedding. Knowing that the B-Sensible sheets have a dust-mite barrier is amazing and as they are breathable this reduces any odours that may build up. Happy days!


Some protective sheets that you get can be hard and some even can be quite noisy to lay on and make a crinkly noise when you turn over. The B-Sensible sheets are so soft  just like any normal bed sheet and make no noise at all but protect your mattress at the same time.

Obviously one of the main reasons you would have a protective sheet on your bed, especially with young children is in case they wet the bed or spill anything. The B-Sensible sheets are completely waterproof making it easy to clear up any accidents or spillages and your mattress is kept like brand new underneath.


The sheets are machine washable and can go in the tumble dryer. They come in different sizes; cot and cot bed in the baby range and then single, small double, double, king and super king for your bigger beds. We have also just brought our new Super King mattress and Oscar a double so will be getting some B-Sensible sheets for them too.

The pillow cases are great too! The 2 in 1 pillowcases completely protect your pillows, and like the sheets are waterproof and breathable, super soft and have a 100% natural surface with unique benefits that enhance your comfort.


Both the protective sheets and the 2 in 1 pillowcases come in white, lilac, pink, brown, sky blue, purple, duck egg blue, red, beige, turquoise, fuchsia, black, grey anthracite, burgundy, arran, green pistachio and lavender so there is a colour to fit in with any room decor you may have.


We have the single sized in sky blue on Archie’s bed which are £35 and the pillow case protectors are £16.00.

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Disclaimer: We were sent the sheets and pillowcases for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

 

My C9 Forever Living 9 Day Cleanse

A friend of mine, Sophie is a Forever Living distributor and we were chatting and as I had made a new years resolution to myself to get fit and eat healthier I thought it would be a great idea to start off the year by completing My C9 Forever Living 9 Day Cleanse. I have done one before and loved the results. The aloe vera left me feeling amazing and I lost 8lbs in the nine days. This time around weight loss wasn’t a priority it was more giving my body a cleanse and starting the year as I mean to go on.

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The Clean 9 Pak contains everything you need for the Clean 9 program for the full 9 days. The instructions of what to do on each day is so easy to follow and before you start you record your weight in the booklet and using the tape measure provided and your body measurements too.

Day 1 and 2 are generally the hardest as you are starting off the cleanse and they are called the reset days and you don’t eat a meal on those days but to be honest I found these days really easy and the shakes, fibre drinks and the tablets and softgels contained more than enough calories to keep me going. I only found it a bit difficult when making the boys and Greg’s dinner, I had to contain myself from picking. There are a few free foods that you are allowed to eat if you need to have a little snack on the list in your booklet. You also need to drink lots of water, which I do anyway so that was easy to continue.


Day 3-9 as well as drinking the shakes, fibre drinks and tablets and soft gels I had a 500-600 calorie evening meal. In your C9 instruction booklet there are recipe ideas for healthy low calorie meals Most of my meals contained chicken as I upped my protein intake to help build muscle.


I chose the Vanilla flavour shake and it tastes really good. Since finishing the C9 I have brought extra bags of the forever lite ultra vanilla shake and have one for breakfast each morning and one after I exercise. I have also continued drinking one shot of 60ml aloe vera gel every morning too. Since drinking the gel I have noticed a difference in my skin and also I feel less tired in the morning after a broken nights sleep as always with Archie waking during the night.

“Summer bodies are made in Winter!”

Exercise

I exercised on Day 2 with a Metafit class and on Day 3 I did a Zumba class followed by a Pound Class. Day 4 I did a 28 minute Kayla Itsine’s Sweat workout from my app. Day 5 I went for a run and started doing a plank challenge of two one minute sessions a day and also started a squat challenge app. Day 6 and 7 I just did my planks and squats, Day 8 I did circuit training and Day 9 I did a Zumba class, followed by a Pound class, then a ab class.


My main goal throughout the C9 and going forward is to tone up and get back into shape, weight loss is not a priority to me as much as it was when I last did the C9 as It was about 8 months after I had given birth to Archie.

Since finishing my C9 I have continued my exercise regime, I try to do something everyday. I do four sessions a week with Carlie, who is just the best instructor/personal trainer. She is so motivational and encouraging! I then complete a couple of the 28 minute sweat workouts at home and do my planks and squats everyday. I am so determined to get back in shape!  Well they do say “Summer bodies are made in Winter!”

My Results

Day 1 I weighed myself and was 9 stone and jotted down my chest, bicep, waist, hips, thighs and calves measurements. On Day 9 I weighed 8st 9lbs so a total loss of 5lbs. Although it was the inch loss I was more interested in and in total I lost 11.5 inches in total off of the areas I mentioned above.

If you need any information on any of the Forever Living products and the C9 especially Sophie is on hand to chat through it with you and throughout the 9 days was really encouraging and on the end of the phone if I had any problems or queries. Sophie’s link is HERE.

Archie is 2 & Little Tikes Birthday Giveaway 🎂

Today Archie is 2! I can’t actually believe it, it only seems like a few months ago that he was born. Time flies!

Archie is a real character as so different to how Oscar was at his age. He is a little rascal. If you say ‘no’ to Archie if he does something naughty he laughs at you, takes absolutely no notice and then says “happy, happy, happy.”

He’s a climber and finds it hilarious to empty the entire contents of my kitchen cupboards and as soon as I put everything back, empty them all over again. He is non stop!

He calls Daddy “Nanny” even though he can say Daddy but thinks it’s funny!

He loves playing with Oscar and it’s nice to watch them sit and play properly together.

It is also nice to see that he is starting to make his own friends now at his toddler groups and recognises them straight away and plays with them as soon as he sees them.

Today we are going to my Nanny’s for a little birthday party with family and a few close friends. As Archie loves Teletubbies I have got a teletubbie cake, balloons and decorations.

To celebrate Archie’s 2nd Birthday Little Tikes have kindly given us a Lil Ocean Explorers 3in1 Adventure Course to give away to one of my readers! It is a great toy and can be used from 6 months until 3 years. So enter below and good luck! 

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SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix Review

With Christmas less than a month away and with your little ones writing their Christmas wish list for Father Christmas I know as a parent thinking of present ideas for grandparents and other family members often leaves me confused. I don’t want Oscar and Archie inundated with toys, I like them to get books or fun and educational toys too. SmartMax is the perfect present as they are award-winning magnetic construction system which allows children of all ages the chance to be creative, to learn and to explore the fascinating world of magnetism and most importantly, to have fun. So when we were asked to review the SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix I was really excited to see what the boys thought.

We were kindly sent The Playground XL play set and The Power Vehicles Mix play set. Firstly we got out The Playground XL which is a 46 piece set and straight away I loved that both Oscar and Archie could play with it together easily. Obviously having such a big age gap between the boys means that not many toys are great for them to play together with but all the pieces of the set were big enough for Archie who is almost two to play with as all the parts are bigger than 3cm and thereby don’t fit a child’s throat. The pieces are also great for building fine motor skills.

Archie was fascinated with the magnets sticking together, it made him laugh so much. Oscar sat and copied the playground on the front of the box and put it together easily without any help at all. They then sat for ages rolling the magnetic ball through with Archie catching it at the bottom. When Archie went to bed, Oscar sat and built different models with the pieces, allowing him to use his imagination and get creative. You can also purchase other SmartMax sets to your collection to build all sorts of fun creations!

The Playground XL set is absolutely fantastic and would make a fantastic gift this Christmas for all ages to enjoy!

The second set we were sent was the Power Vehicles Max. This set was perfect for Oscar as he loves cars! In terms of building them it was better for him as it challenged him a bit more then free play building. The set has 26 pieces in the box and once again all the pieces are big enough for Archie to use as well and are specifically designed for handling by children as young as one as they learn about the effects of magnetic attraction and repulsion. The coloured guide book is so easy to follow and Oscar had great fun sitting with Grandad and building the vehicles last weekend. Archie then enjoyed playing with the vehicles and pushing them around. Oscar quite liked that he had built something for Archie to play with, he was really proud which was so sweet.

The magnets are strong enough to carry up to 60 times their weight, so the building possibilities are endless. This set also helps improve visual thinking as you have to follow the instructions. You can build a bulldozer, a fire truck, a forklift, a tow truck, a pick-up truck or a van with this set. They are then fun toys to play with too.

The boys absolutely love their SmartMax sets and your children will love them this Christmas! It is great to have a toy that they can learn and have great fun with too. It is also a toy that will last as Archie has years of play left with them. Archie also walks around with two pieces and a magnetic ball and pretends its a microphone. I asked Oscar what he thought of the sets and he said “they are so much fun and fantastic!”

Disclaimer: We were sent the SmartMax Playground XL & Power Vehicles Mix to review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

The Vileda Clean

Anyone who knows me knows I like to keep our house nice and clean and I love a gadget that can make it quicker and easier. Having two little boys its not easy to keep everything clean and tidy and nothing drives me more crazy than when the sun shines on the patio doors and you can see little hand prints all over them. Then I wipe the windows clean and the next morning when the sun comes out they are covered in streaks, it literally drives me potty. So when Vileda asked me if I would like to review their Windomatic it made my day! Before I tell your my full review obviously as a blogger I get sent various products to review but the Windomatic is one of those products that I love so much and use everyday and actually makes cleaning the windows a quicker and so much easier task for me.

When the Windomatic arrived I plugged it in and charged it up. One charge can wipe up to 60m² . As soon as it was ready to use the first thing I did was clean those dreaded patio doors. You simply spray your windows with water, then wipe them then use the Windomatic and the suction vacuums up any condensation and leaves a streak free window. You can also use it on glass, mirrors and surfaces to clean up any spillages. I also used it on my granite work surfaces after cleaning and they were sparkling and streak free! After cleaning all of the windows I was genuinely thrilled with my new Windomatic. You might think what a saddo, but seriously the Windomatic is blooming amazing. All my windows are sparkling and as it is so quick and easy to use that when I spot a little hand print on the window I can clean it up in seconds, which for someone like me it pleases me greatly!

Using the Windomatic is so easy as it is super lightweight and not to big to carry around the house. The head of it is really flexible making it easy to move around the window and clean right in the corners. I have quite a lot of windows in our house and even in the smaller openings at the top of some of them you can clean every bit of them as the head fits and moves perfectly.

As you can tell I absolutely love the Windomatic and give it 5* rating. I couldn’t recommend it anymore, it really is a fantastic product that will make cleaning the windows in your home quicker and easier.

Another product I will quickly mention is the Vileda 1-2 spray mop. I saw it in Waitrose a couple of weeks ago and brought it. It is fantastic! You simply fill it with the cleaning solution and then use the spray on the handle and then mop as you go. It is convenient and quick to use and every morning and evening I clean the kitchen floor with it and its great for after meal times with Archie and then at the end of the day I wash the microfibre mop pad in the washing machine. It leaves the floor smelling fresh and so clean!

You can purchase the Windomatic for only £49.99 with free delivery HERE.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Vileda Windomatic for the purpose of this review. However all opinions are honest and my own and I absolutely love it!