Sunday 30 June 2013

Mike the Knight at Warwick Castle

This weekend was Leo's birthday weekend, and it has been an incredibly busy weekend as far as weekends go!

We have spent time eating Timmy Sheep Birthday Cake, playing in Leo's new playhouse and even attended a very exciting day out at Warwick Castle where Leo met Mike the Knight!

We were invited along to help celebrate the new series of the very popular children's show, and what better destination than the UK's ultimate castle!?

Warwick Castle has welcomed Mike the Knight over 2 very action packed weekends, 29th - 30th June and the 6th - 7th of July, so if you haven't already been along and experience all the magic...There is still time to book!

I had told Leo all about our exciting plans for the weekend, and he nodded and 'arh'd' in all of the right places, but truth be told I don't think he knew exactly what I was going on about. In our typical family style we were the ones rocking up late, despite my greatest efforts to make sure that Daddy was out of bed in time... He is always the one we are waiting for! 

We did finally get there with our little Superman in tow, and we were obviously feeling incredibly brave as we decided to leave the pushchair at home. Leo was on his very best behavior....To start with. As soon as he found his comfort zone of the sandpit I waved goodbye to the perfect toddler who was happy to hold my hand and welcomed the toddler who would rather run away from me.

Leo ran around, pointed out exciting items and even almost jumped the rope to Mike the Knight in order to bypass the very long line of people eagerly waiting for their turn to meet him! Sorry if my little Superman ran through your position in the line or accidentally jumped on your toes...

As soon as you walk through the turnstiles and into the castle's grounds you are met with an exciting array of different Mike the Knight activities. You can meet the man himself or even take part in a little castle building of your own, casting a few spells in Evie's workshop or trying your hand at a little bit of archery! 

You must check out the incredible sand castles that have been constructed in celebration of the new Mike the Knight Series. They were built to coincide with the Summer Solstice which fell on the 21st June 2013, there are 3 in all and all, Glendragon Castle, Buckingham Palace and of course... Warwick Castle.

There is something for every age and Leo had no problem finding something to do, we sent Daddy off to wait in line to meet Mike while I watched Leo build sandcastles, knock down other people's castles (Sorry if that was yours!) and just have an amazing time.

It has been many years since I last visited Warwick Castle, which in hind sight is actually shocking as it is right on my door step. It was really nice to go back and take my little guy out for a fantastic day, he looked on in awe at the castle and loved being able to freely explore. I have to admit that I was really glad that Warwick Castle thought ahead of little children who may want to explore with their hands...As there were a number of items that I thought Leo may pick up if they had not been glued down *wipes sweat from brow*.

I have to admit that Warwick Castle is not the cheapest family day out and I may have even let out a little gasp when I saw the prices, and then gasped a little more when I realised that some of the attractions inside were an extra, but with that said it really was a great day. We were free to wander around the entire castle, but with superman in tow we were un-able to partake in the dungeons (I will go back and do this!) but for me the highlight of the day was watching Leo have the time of his life.

I am sure we will be back this Summer if Warwick Castle will have us, and we will maybe even bring along the rest of the family. That way we will be able to leave Leo in the capable hands of his Grandparents while we explore the darker side of Warwick Castle.

Disclaimer: I was invited along to Warwick Castle for the exciting Mike the Knight weekend. I was provided with a very tasty lunch and a goodie bag for Leo, however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.  

Saturday 29 June 2013

Leo Turns Two

On Wednesday 26th June 2013 I tucked my one year old into bed for the last time.
I stood by his cot and told him that when he woke up the next morning he would be one whole year older.

He would be two years old.

I stood there watching him, and I knowingly stood there a little longer than I usually would. I was thinking about how quickly the last two years have come and gone, how amazing they have been and how I would not change a thing.

I was taking in the beauty of my little boy as he settled down to go to sleep and smiling at him through the darkened room.

It was then I bid him one final goodnight, wished him sweet dreams and a Happy Birthday. I told him I loved him to the moon and back again, and I would see him in the morning when he would be a Birthday Boy.

Walking out of his room and closing the door behind me, I knew it was now that the real birthday work would begin. I had a Timmy Sheep cake to make (you can see how to make your own here), cupcakes, birthday presents to wrap and not a whole lot of time to get it all done. 

I finally retired to bed just after 2:00am, really tired but excited. Excited to see my little boy's face when he woke up to his second birthday.

Leo awoke bright and early, he was a little full of cold but didn't let that stop him demanding to watch 'woof, woof' otherwise known As 'Lady and the Tramp'. After a few rounds of 'I am Siamese if you please' my new found 2 year old came downstairs to open his cards. 

Leo was presented with his birthday card, a very large Timmy Sheep birthday card with his age and name emblazoned on the front. He was so pleased that Baa was making an appearance. Little did he know that Timmy Sheep was going to be making quite a few appearances today!

I had planned Leo's whole day to a Timmy Sheep theme, balloons, cake cases, cake embellishment, an actual feature cake! 

We took Leo to our family photographer to get some birthday shots of our now very grown up boy, it is hard to believe that the first time we took him there he was a tiny baby in arms! Leo however didn't want to play ball, and as soon as we walked into the studio he stopped chatting to me and buried his head in my shoulder. Sufficed to say that we didn't get the snaps that we were hoping for, but with that all out of the way we took our birthday boy to Granny's house for his real birthday treat!

At Granny's house nestled away in the back garden was Leo's main birthday present. A present fit for any little boy with an imagination.

His very own hideaway den in the form of a wooden playhouse. Inside Leo's new house was a beautiful red kitchen that I just knew he was going to love. I ran out of the house ahead of him so that I could capture that one moment when he laid eyes on his birthday gift. 

Leo's eyes widened and his face pursed into a Cheshire smile, it was apparent that he had seen his present and he was marching intently over to inspect further. He did not stop once and that smile was not wiped off his face as he made his way over to the play house. Upon reaching his intended destination, he climbed up the stairs, opened up the front door and found his beautiful kitchen, the smile he was beaming just continued to beam brighter and then the laughter started.

The house had been decorated like a scene from Disney's Up, and I did half wonder whether he would be flying away on an adventure of his own. A 'Happy Birthday' hung around the circumference of Leo's new haunt, Timmy Sheep of course.

Leo ran in and out of his house, cooked up cakes that he fed me through the bars of his balcony, before running off to cook up some more!

It was then I knew that the wooden playhouse had been the perfect birthday gift choice for my very imaginative little monster.

It was around this time that his Goddaddy arrived, and his little friend too for a play date. It was also around this time that the sunshine disappeared behind the clouds and rain decided to rain upon our parade. 

But could I get my two year old out of the house and into Granny's house?


Leo and his little friend were completely soaked through, going down the slide and landing on their bottoms in the puddle forming beneath it. But they were having the time of their lives and I watched them from the shelter of the kitchen door, as they ran around not even noticing the rain falling around them.

Somewhere among all of the playing we fit in a few nibbles for lunch and even opened up some presents. I will never forget Leo asking for 'more' presents once he had opened the last one!

With all of the excitement of the day, Leo had missed his nap time. I pulled him inside, dried him off and put him down for a well deserved nap. Upon his sleepy slumber coming to an end it was time to see more family members and whip out the cake for a round of Happy Birthday.

I cannot believe that my little man is ANOTHER year older, I don't know how time is going by so quickly but I know this year and every year after is going to continue to speed by. I am just intent on making every day special for Leo, making every birthday count and keeping that beautiful smile of his firmly on his face where it belongs.

Staying up late and baking Leo a cake that I knew he was going to love was worth every moment. It was worth all of those practice runs and planning. It was worth it because Leo LOVED his special day, and next year I will just have to pull out the stops again and think up another birthday that he will love equally if not more.

For now though, Happy Birthday Baby Boy.

I am so glad that you enjoyed your special day, and welcome to year 3 of your adventure.

Brit Mums Live 2013 - The Aftermath

Last weekend I visited Brit Mums Live thanks to my sponsor Hilary's Blinds.

 I joined hundreds of other bloggers and descended upon the Brewery for a weekend full of natter with like minded people. I hoped to go in with an open mind, learn and meet many of the bloggers I had been tweeting with over the past year and come away with a rejuvenated passion for what I do.

I have to admit, I did only glance at what talks were going on this year and went along to a few that I felt would be relevant to me, and the rest of the time I could be found schmoozing in the lounges or picking at the yummy nibbles that were on offer. 

I was so excited to finally be meeting a number of bloggers that I had been chatting with since I first started blogging, Nicola at Life Through My Eyes, Lisa at Holly Bobs and Rachel at Mummy Glitzer. Of course there were also bloggers who I was looking forward to having a catch up with, bloggers who I have been lucky enough to meet before, Bex at The Mummy Adventure who I am always happy to room share with, Emma at Crazy With Twins, Lucy at Dear Beautiful and Katie at Mummy Daddy and Me. Brit Mums really is the place to go when you want to put a face to a Twitter name!

I had the privilege of meeting Dawn at Mummys Little Peeps and Leyla from This Day I love and it was great being able to sit down and have a couple of bottles glasses of wine with everyone.

There were some truly remarkable speakers over the course of the weekend from the likes of Kirsty Allsop who was incredibly funny and down to earth, and the fabulous Katie Piper, who for me stole the whole show. Katie came on and spoke about everything that happened to her with incredible honesty and openness, she laid her soul bare to each and everyone of us in that room and I thought she was amazing.

I attended the Brand Panel Debate where the topic of discussion was what brands and bloggers really want from each other. Expectations really need to be set from the word go and in that very first email or phone call, there is no point in taking on a project that hasn't got a clear goal to work to. Then of course what happens when you have completed what you agreed to? Do you expect thanks? A retweet maybe? Again this is all something that should be discussed from the start so you know what will be happening when all is said and done. 

The second session that I attended was all about storytelling, sometimes I write a post and think to myself 'I could have put that down on paper in a much more interesting way' and then I begin to kick myself. So I am hoping to go back to my roots and make my posts more personal and more enjoyable.

'Stories come in many shapes and forms, each creation is a way to share our story'.

The Brit Mums lobby was bursting with people from all different walks of life with the same passion. We were all there because we love blogging and want to grow. I always find it interesting talking about blogging with other bloggers, they get it and they get you. Sometimes it can fall on deaf ears with family and friends that know your little secret, but not at Brit Mums Live.

Brit Mums Live is very focused around meeting brands and potentially helps you to create new working relationships. Last year I became a Panasonic Intelligent Living Mum and had a fantastic year working along side them on product reviews and work shops at their head office in Bracknell. It really did open up a fantastic opportunity for me to be a part of, so if you are thinking about coming along to next years Brit Mums, I say grab the chance with both hands and come along! 

I think my favourite part of Brit Mums has to be the Key Notes, I said exactly this last year. It is really great to hear from fellow bloggers sharing their greatest work on the big stage. Hearing the emotion that they put into each and every word they read. This year was incredibly emotional, we lost two of our own over the course of this last year. The two beautiful MM's, Multiple Mummy and Matilda Mae. 

I listened with my heart on my sleeve as friends paid tribute to those who couldn't be with us. But I am sure that both Multiple Mummy and Matilda Mae were there as Katie Perry's 'Firework' played through the room to a standing ovation of bloggers. Bloggers who were clapping along and thinking of everyone who's lives have been touched by both Matilda Mae and Kerry at Multiple Mummy.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jennie from Edspire over the weekend and I have to say she is amazing, and so is the fantastic Heather from SAHM Loving It and Susanne from Ghostwrittermumy, who both took to the stage and read Merry's words.

The whole room listened intently and the atmosphere was so powerful. 

The one thing I know, is that the blogging community will carry you through anything. If you need help they will be there, they will get you through and keep your head above water and I feel incredibly proud to be a part of it.

Friday 28 June 2013

How To Make a Timmy Sheep Cake

Leo discovered Timmy Time after his first birthday, and very quickly this became his all time favourite show. Every morning my toddler demands to watch 'Baa' and I have discovered that temper tantrums come around if for some reason I cannot fulfill this request.

With Leo's second birthday coming around I set to thinking about birthday themes, cake ideas and what would he like best? After baking up a few different recipes and different cake themes I came to a stand still. None of those cakes were THE cake for my little man's 2nd birthday. 

Then it hit me.

Timmy Sheep.

It was so obvious, how could I not have come to the idea sooner? 

I began searching all over the internet for a 'How to make a Timmy Sheep Cake' but could find nothing but marvelous creations baked up by other people, there was no dummy guide for how to give it a go yourself.

So I sat there pondering how on earth I was going to pull this off...

In my search to make Leo this cake I discovered a hidden gem, a local cake shop. In the cake shop was a lady who answered all of my questions and pointed me in the right direction, and it is thanks to her that I managed to bake up a Timmy Sheep Cake.

So how do you do it?

I picked out a Banana Cake Recipe from the Panasonic Ideas Kitchen but you can pick what ever cake recipe you like. The Timmy Cake is constructed out of a cake for Timmy's tummy and then the rest of the creation is moddelled out of Rice Krispie Treats. 

The head and arms are all Rice Krispies covered in Black Fondant Icing.

I cooked up the Banana Cake first so that it could be cooling while I created Timmy's body parts.

Banana Cake Recipe
1 banana, large
3 ml (½tsp) vanilla flavouring
75g (3oz) butter
100g (4oz)granulated sugar
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
3 ml (½ tsp) salt
1 ½ ml (¼tsp) bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
Chocolate Chips

- Take the banana and peel it, put it in a bowl and mash it until smooth with the vanilla flavouring.

- In a separate bowl put in the butter and sugar, heat them up in the microwave until the butter has melted and you can mix it all together.

- Stir in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and then beat in the eggs and mashed banana.

- Spoon the cake mix into a prepared cake tin (I personally recomend the Silicone moulds).

- Cook on CONVECTION 160°C  until cooked.

60g Butter
200g Mini Marshmallows
150g Rice Krispies
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Simply melt the butter in a pan on a low heat and begin adding in the Marshmallows until they have all melted. Keep stirring as you don't want the Marshmallows to burn. Once they have all melted take the pan off the heat and add in your Vanilla Essence and Rice Krispies, mix them all together and voila!

Wait for the mix to cool a little and get the work surface prepared to mould on. I used a chopping board to prevent mess, it is worth knowing that Rice Krispie treats are VERY sticky before you get started. 

I advise to take out big handfuls at a time and put them on the board you are planning on working on, I found it a lot easier to work with this way as it had chance to cool a little more and became easier to mould (although it still stuck to my hands). 

Once you have moulded all of your Timmy body parts, pop them in the fridge so that they can cool down and become more solid before icing them.

Icing your Timmy Sheep Creation

At this point your cake will look nothing like the famous sheep, you will have random Rice Krispie body parts and a cake...You really do have to use your imagination to in-vision your final master piece!

While your Timmy body parts are chilling in the fridge mix up a butter cream icing until it is nice and thick, then slather it all over your cake. The beauty about making a Timmy Cake is that you don't have to put the icing on neatly (luckily for me!) and the fluffier the better!

After all you are trying to create a wooly coat!

Put your iced cake to one side, and whip out the Timmy body part's out of the fridge. Put some cling film down on the work top and roll out your black icing. The cling film stops the icing sticking to the work top and means you need little icing sugar down, and keeps the black icing...Black.

Before I discovered the magic of cling film, I used far to much icing sugar and turned my black icing...Grey! Here is one I made earlier...

Begin wrapping the icing around your Rice Krispie Treat body parts and smooth it all out. For the face you will need some white fondant icing too in order to make the eyes. 

Make sure you have a good sized cake board so that you have plenty of room to put Timmy Sheep together, I used a 16inch one in the end.

The Timmy Cake has been a BIG hit for my toddlers second birthday and was completely worth staying up until 2:00am baking! Leo's entire day has been Timmy Sheep, so I know I picked the perfect theme for his special day.

If you give this cake a try and stumbled upon my blog on the hunt for a 'How to make a Timmy Sheep Cake', let me know! I would love to see your Timmy Cake! 

Timmy's hands come in very handy if you want to add some cake fountains to your creation. My rule of thumb is the more candles the better, and I really think our Timmy could have taken off he had that many!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday Leo!

Dear beautiful boy,

Can you believe it?

Today at 12:56pm you are two whole years old.

I will always remember the perfect day you graced us with your arrival.

The day we met, finally after 9 months we came face to face, I couldn’t stop staring at you, I didn’t want to put you down or miss a single moment of your existence.

Holding you for the first time just took my breath away.

I just wanted to take in your beautiful little face, your glass eyes and your cupid lips. I could have stared at you forever.

You were perfect to me.
You are perfect to me.
And you always will be perfect to me.

You came into our lives and completely stole our hearts, and just like that it was as though you had always been here.

Our first night together was in the hospital, I couldn’t sleep for all of the excitement of the day and I just held you close, breathing you in, not wanting to sleep in case you needed me, scared that I wouldn’t hear you.

You slept soundly right next to me only waking for feeds or when your startle reflex took hold, we soon realised that you were happiest when wrapped up in your swaddle so that those little hands couldn’t startle you awake.

It all only seems like yesterday….

I don’t know how and when it happened, but in this last year we have left your baby days far behind us. We sailed off together on a new adventure to explore pastures new on your once wobbly, 4H sized toddler feet.

A week after your very first birthday, on your expected due date you just got up and started to walk. Like somehow over night you decided that was the next step, and you were ready to take it. Once you started you just didn’t stop and soon you were running everywhere and trying to play football.

The change in you that has been brought around by growing another year older is so apparent. You have so many words that you like to use, and you know exactly what you want, or…at least you think you know.

I still remember you as that little baby, when you needed me in so many ways that your two year old self doesn’t need me now. You have become so independent in so many ways, and you astound me every single day.

Leo I want you to believe in everything you want to believe in, follow your heart and keep on dreaming. Everything you do, everything you want to do and everything that you dream of doing will be supported by me until the very end of time.

I want you to grow up seeing all the magic that this big wide world has to show you. I see your face light up when you see the wonders around you and I want that simplicity to stay with you for always.

I want you to know that Santa Clause exists and he weaves his magic throughout the entire world on one single night. I want you to know that Jack Frost is responsible for the glittery dusting that appears on a cold winters day. Remember that mermaids do swim the seas and Faeries fly the skies before laying down to rest their tired wings in the hollows of trees. Keep your eyes peeled for toadstool rings and look very closely as you may, if you look very closely spy a secret fairy dance.

You should know that Mummy’s kiss will make any awchies better and a cuddle will dry those tears. You should know that a Mummy’s love is a magic potion to keep you your cheeky happy self.

I have been looking back at photos, photos that I can remember taking as though it was just yesterday. I study them and see those same blue eyes and then see how much you have changed and grown. I can see how wise you have come to the ways of the world and feel honoured to have watched you grow from a baby into my beautiful blue eyed boy.

So my beautiful boy, Two years have come and gone and today is your big day.

You are two years old and have the world at your feet, with so many future memories to make, more magic to discover and of course trouble to cause. Now is the time for you to wake up and see what presents have been delivered during your slumber for your second birthday.

The birthday cake is ready to be lit and Happy Birthday is to be sung. So wake up baby boy, come downstairs and see what we have planned for you today!

Happy birthday baby boy, you may be a big boy now, but you are and always will be my blue eyed baby boy.

Happy 2nd Birthday little one.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

What age should you introduce horse riding?

When I was younger all I wanted to do was take horse riding lessons. 

I had visions of never ever learning to drive and just riding my horse everywhere, even to school! My parent's weren't as enthusiastic as me to say the very least, but they did eventually relent one year and got me a trial horse riding lesson as a birthday present. I loved it just as much as I thought I would, but that one lesson came and went and I never actually did learn to ride a horse.

We have always lived in areas where it would have been ideal for me to find a local riding school and learn to ride, there are many riding schools in the area and many people do learn. In fact horse riding is very popular in the area and Luke's Mum even has her very own horse, back in the day this would have made me green with envy! 

Flash forward many years later and I am invited out for a ride with one of my friends who happens to be a very experienced horse rider. She assured me that I would be fine and we were only going out for a slow jaunt over the hills, but apparently she didn't tell my horse that...

Nope, my horse started to trot...then it started to canter...and the next thing I know is I am hanging for my dear life around the front of the horse's neck. Luckily he took this sign of me no longer being on his back as a sign to stop and let me fall with grace to the floor.

My oh my how I wished I had those horse riding lessons as a child!

I guess the age old question is 'what is the appropriate age to introduce a child to a horse?' I personally think that if a child expresses an interest in learning then there is no harm in making the introductions, seeing what schools are available in your local area and going from there. If they like it great, book up some more lessons. If not...At least you have fed their creativity and given them the information to make an informed decision.

Do you have a child that horse rides or would like to?

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Recycling Week 2013

This week is National Recyling week.

Over the past decade, we have been recycling more than ever in the UK. With our combined efforts we have recycled an astonishing 50 billion plastic drinks bottles – that's enough to stretch to the moon and back more than 10 times over!

Recycle Week 2013, took place from the 17th - 23rd of June and has been focusing it's efforts on recycling ‘at home and away’. Originally launched as ‘The BIG Recycle’, the annual event has played an important role in helping to spread messages about recycling to consumers across the UK during a decade which has seen huge improvements in how much, and what, we recycle.

I have been sent a Squeaky Canimal for Leo, if you aren't familiar with Canimals then the programme is currently running on CiTV.

I was tasked with building our little Canimal something out of recycled items, so I opted to build our little guy a shiny new home..By 'I' I mean that while Leo was asleep I got creative with Lolly Pop Sticks! I know the task was really for him...But my creative streak took a hold....

I took a old takeaway tub (apparently we have too many takeaways as there was ample choice) and the very colourful lollypop sticks and stuck them around the circumference of the takeaway box. Very soon our little Canimal had a new home, and Leo awoke from his nap. Perfect timing.

Have you taken part in Recycling Week at all? What did you get up too?

Monday 24 June 2013

A Royal Baby

In the next month or so we will all be hearing the news that the Royal baby has made his or her way into the world. Kate will be giving birth in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington West London, the same hospital that William was born in.

When I had Leo I discovered just how important those first few weeks are in getting to know your little one, I can not begin to imagine how the Royal couple will juggle a new baby and being followed around by the watchful public eye. As if those first few weeks are not stressful enough with everyone wanting to come and meet the latest addition.

Around the time of the royal birth, Kate and Will are going to be receiving another very special delivery. have designed a very beautiful Windsor collection baby bath

Bath specifications:
• Made from 4mm of pure acrylic 
• Reinforcement in the base and around the shoulders made from polystone resin. 
• The bath weighs 10 kg and can hold up to 70 litres of water. It’s just the right size for a 
new born. 
• 680mm in length by 410 width by 460 mm in height. 

The bath will be engraved with the baby’s name and delivered from Watford to Clarence House in the next few weeks in preparation. The bath features a classic golden ball claw-foot tub and a smooth roll top design.

There will be a number of these extra special bath's produced so that members of the public can bestow the royal experience on their own children. As beautiful as this bath is....It comes at a price and is instantly out of the budget I allowed for a baby bath when expecting Leo, at £399 this bath really is fit for royalty! have been speaking to Susannah Wheeler, a Midwife from One to One Midwives. Susannah said “Like all first time parents, Kate and William will be keen to spend as much time with their baby as possible. The days when a Royal mother would not be on hand to look after her children is long gone. My advice for the parents to be is just to enjoy it!”

Susannah also commented “Moments away from the public eye will be treasured by a high profile family like this, so the more attachment they can form with the baby early on, the better. Newborns can typically see from an adult’s chest to face where they can respond and recognize your 
face, so bathing is an ideal experience to build memories and bond.”

Susannah explains the importance of baby bathing techniques:

Bathing a newborn can be a fun and special time for both child and parents. However it's also a 
time for caution, though. Kate should keep these bathing tips in mind to keep the royal heir safe.
- Water temperature should be roughly body temperature.
- Judge the your baby’s water temperature using your wrist not your palm, as this area is 
more used to heat exposure and will be less sensitive. 
- Baby bathing books often recommend buying a thermometer but this is not essential. 
- My suggestion is that early evening time is usually a time for bathing that sets up a good 
routine and relaxes them before bedtime. 
- Daily bathing isn't essential, and certainly no more than once a day is advised as this 
could dry the skin too much.

So for now we will all continue to wait for the royal announcement, the announcement that will see the next heir to the throne entering the world.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Just Over a Week...

With just over a week until your second birthday, it was all systems go for all of us, but at the same time it was the perfect moment to reflect on the new things you were starting to do. It was perfect because you were coming along in leaps and bounds, I wanted to make sure I got all your cheeky antics stored away in your online memory box.

We had had Tigger almost 2 weeks and you were finally becoming less excited about your new furry friend, and Tigger was becoming more relaxed around you. You loved teasing him with the cat toys, and every time you gaged his interest you would move it high up out of his reach and giggle when he jumped up to try and get it. You seemed to spend most days giggling at Tigger, and suddenly had an interest in picking him up. The first time I saw you do it I couldn’t jump up out of my seat quick enough, but you were holding him perfectly around the middle. Then the next day you did exactly the same, so I grabbed the camera to quickly snap the moment…only for you to have him by the neck…Safe to say that I quickly released the poor kitten from your grasp.

 I am sure you will agree though Leo, this photo really is one for the memory box. You just look so proud of yourself…and Tigger looks anything less than pleased.

With every day that went by Leo, you were becoming more sure of yourself. More determined to do what you wanted to do and were still beaming me those cheeky smiles whenever you did something you knew you shouldn’t. In fact you were taking it one step further these days, when I used my sternest voice with you, you were really taking the micky out of me. It really is hard to keep a straight face and discipline you when you smile that smile and growl ‘Mumma’ at me, as you try to put that smile on my face to wash away the stern grimace that was there moments before.

On the other hand though, you knew when I was really serious and on those occasions you couldn’t even look me in the eye let along pick up your bottom lip long enough to smile. You knew exactly when you were in real hot water and didn’t even try the smiling tactics!

You were discovering Disney movies for the first time, and after Timmy Sheep was taken off Cbeebies you began to love Lady and the Tramp. We sat and watched this over and over again, and I loved that the time was coming for you to start enjoying the same classics that I did as a child. You would get comfy on the sofa with your blankie and your bottle, demanding to watch ‘woof, woof’. After watching Lady and the Tramp as much as we did in one week, I was fast approaching the time that I hoped to find another movie you liked.

Blanket and your bottle were still in high demand, if not more so than ever. Blanket was now coming on every outing, even if it was just a trip to a friend’s house or in to town because that is when you would always want it. In one respect you seem quite a lot younger than other toddlers your age because you are still so reliant on your comforts, but I just found this endearing and didn’t want to rush you in growing up. I was always happy for you to do things in your own time.

Bedtimes were such a doddle with you, and putting you to bed consisted of giggles and plain sailing. 7pm was the time that I would take you up to your cot, sometimes you would even take yourself! I would tuck you in with all of your comforts and that would usually be the last I heard from you until the following morning, but over the last couple of weeks you had started talking to me over the baby monitor. You knew I could hear every word you were saying even when I was not in the room, and that is why you would talk to me instead of crying, and boy were you patient.

The first night you started talking down the monitor to me I was catching up on my soaps, and I thought you were chattering away in your sleep. It took me a good 5 minutes to work out that you were saying ‘more’ over and over again. So I came upstairs to you and asked you if you wanted more milk, your reaction told me that it was exactly what you wanted. You giggled and said ‘yeah’ and with your fresh milk in hand, I didn’t hear another peep out of you until the next morning.

The end of your second year has seen you come on so much, you understand everything I say to you even if you cannot say certain things back to me, and even if you only act on the bits that you want to. You already seem to have selective hearing on board…

I know this next year is going to see you grow up further, and instead of you being the toddler that stands before me today, you will be a fully-fledged child.

Growing up seems to happen in the blink of an eye, and I think I blink too much as you are growing up far to quickly

Cocktails – why are they so popular and can they be made at home?

Creating a drink like the ones you see served to customers in a busy bar or nightclub seems like a task that should only be left to the professionals. With what seems like a vast range of ingredients and a range of colours and garnishes, cocktails seem so complicated, but is that actually true? Can they be made by anyone?

When it comes to crafting the perfect cocktail, there’s no need to make it so difficult by using a dozen ingredients. Many of the classics only need four or five ingredients in order to taste great, while mixing cocktails will allow you to be as experimental as you like.

Fruits of your labour
Essentially, most cocktails contain three key ingredients – fruit/fruit juice, ice and spirits/wines. When combined in a cocktail shaker or blender, they usually merge to form something incredibly tasty and refreshing. Now that you know this, you might want to have a go yourself. Here are a couple of cool recipes to help get started for the perfect girly night in.

Paloma Margarita

The Margarita is something many of us might order when on holiday somewhere sunny like Spain or Portugal, but you can get all you need much closer to home. 

You need:
½ tsp. Grenadine
1.5 fl. oz. tequila
½ a lime, cut into wedges
Some grapefruit soda – if unavailable, grapefruit juice mixed with fizzy water will do
A few ice cubes

After adding the ice cubes to a tall glass, pour the grenadine into the bottom of the glass. Next, add the tequila and top with the soda/juice-water mixture. Then, squeeze the juice from one or two lime wedges and serve.

Vodka Seabreeze

Something you might come across in nightclubs, it’s every bit as refreshing when drinking it at home. To make it, you need:

1 fl. oz. vodka
- 2 fl. oz. cranberry juice
A couple of dashes of grapefruit juice
One lime wedge
Pour the ice into a glass. Then, you should mix all the other ingredients together barring the lime wedge. Once fully blended, add to the glass then garnish with the lime.

Disclaimer: This is a Featured Post

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Introducing the Jakayaan Balance Bike

I don't usually post about review items until we have given them a proper playing with, but I really couldn't wait to start telling you all about Lloyds Worcester and their fabulous Jakayaan Balance Bike!

Lloyds Worcester is a company based locally to me and run by Max. Max has designed and manufactured the balance bike so that children as young as 2 years old can learn to ride it! The bike frame is made out of solid Birch plywood and is solid but light for little ones to maneuver it. The seat can be adjusted over four settings according to your child's height and age, meaning that it can grow with them over time.

Leo has been incredibly lucky and has been sent the Jakayaan Balance Bike to review, I am writing this after he spent an entire hour this evening going up and down the drive on his shiny new wheels. His little face was an absolute picture when I brought it into the house to show him, he instantly got down off the sofa and came to sit on it. 

Max very kindly dropped the bike off personally at Granny's house today while I was at work, he had even taken the time to put the bike together so that Leo could hop straight on this evening! 

My first impressions of this bike is that it is AMAZING! 

The Jakayaan has foam handles for those moments when it takes a bump, Leo has demonstrated exactly why they are there this evening after a few little wobbles. Each time he has tumbled he has shouted 'crash' and 'ught oh' but has picked himself straight back up and got back on the bike again. It has 2 air wheels that handled the bumps in our drive like a dream and even comes with a Blue and Pink seat cover with the branded logo on. 

Leo did not get off that bike once (apart from when he tumbled of course) and had the most amazing time toddling up and down Granny's drive. He took to it straight away and even got a little bit faster towards the end. After just over an hour I struggled to get him to get in the car and come home with me for dinner! 

What Leo has really loved tonight it being able to play with his Aunt (12 years old) and go up and down the drive with her as she scoots on her scooter. He looked ever so proud of himself as he followed her around, and I think this is the start of many more playtime's like this one!

I have left the balance bike at Granny's tonight at Leo will be back there tomorrow while I am at work, and I get the distinct feeling that he will be wanting to play with it tomorrow! I hope Granny is ready to walk along side him all day as he rides his big boy bike.

This bike is recommended from 2 years on wards and Leo is not quite 2 yet (1 week and counting) and he is really getting the hang of it.

You can find Lloyds Worcester on their website and these super duper bikes retail at a very reasonable £52.99, and if you are in the United Kingdom you will also benefit from FREE delivery!

Make sure you pop by and say hello to Max on Twitter and give them a like on Facebook to keep up to date with all of their latest news.

I will be writing up a full review very soon (keep a look out for it!), but I just wanted to share this amazing bike with you. For now though I will let Leo do the talking....

Excuse Leo's nakedness... Granny thought it was a good idea to let him have an ice-cream before I came home...I assure you he was dressed when I handed him over this morning!

Disclaimer: I have been sent the Lloyds Worcester Jakayaan Balance Bike for review purposes, but this is my honest first impression. Full review coming soon.

Monday 17 June 2013

See you at Brit Mums Live 2013!

This Friday I am heading to London for Brit Mums Live, I have had this weekend marked on my calendar since the beginning of the year and excited does not even begin to cover how much I have been looking forward to it.

It is a time where I can be let loose and talk everything blogging with people who get it, Luke often looks at me blankly as it all goes straight over his head. It is a whole weekend where I don’t have to wait until Leo is napping or in bed before I can let the geek in me out of the bag.

The conference kicks off on Friday afternoon and goes on for the whole of Saturday, there are a number of different workshops going on over the two days, so I am going to have to narrow down the ones that I feel that I will get the most out of.

This year I must make sure I take more notes so that I can look back on what was discussed in the sessions, l want to be able to use what I learn to take my blog to the next level.

I attended last year not knowing what to expect from a blogging conference, but I know this year that I will be coming away with fresh ideas going forward, and a rejuvenated passion for what I do. I am looking forward to putting names to the faces of other bloggers that I have been tweeting with over the past year, and also meeting new ones and discovering new blogs to add to my ‘must read list’.

There will be a number of brands at this years Brit Mums Live such as Panasonic and Butlins. Last year I was chosen as a Panasonic Intelligent Living Mum which was a real honour and a fantastic experience. This year I hope to schmooze with Butlins and apply to be a one of their ambassadors, I think Leo would absolutely love this now he is that little bit older.

I am really excited about this year’s Bloggers Key Notes and look forward to hearing some amazing bloggers recite their best work. Last year there wasn't a dry eye in the house through the laughter from Claire at Ministry of Mum and the most personal of posts from Hayley at Downs Side Up.

It was amazing hearing the author’s of the posts read them exactly as they were meant to be read. You can hear the feeling in their voice, the sentiment. You laugh with them and you cry with them and that is why the bloggers key note is my favourite part.

I am being sponsored to attend Brit Mums Live by the lovely people at Hilary’s Blinds, I am really grateful to them helping me out and sending me along to be with everyone this weekend.

You can find Hilary’s Blinds on their website, and you can also connect with them on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

For those of you attending Brit Mums I will see you on Friday!