Tuesday 24 December 2013

The Night Before Christmas

It was the night before Christmas and the entire house was asleep,
Not even Leo could be heard to be making a peep.
Little man was snuggled soundly up in his bed,
as Lightning McQueen spun circles around in his head.
The Christmas Tree was alight to greet old Saint Nick,
Who flew down the chimney so much quicker than quick.
A sack over his shoulder and a glimmer in his eye,
He lay down the gifts and took the home made mince pie.

Then out on the lawn I saw the reindeer land,
They had seen Santa sip one to many… and he was struggling to stand!
He took his time to lay down each gift with care,
and was doing a grand job until he tripped over the chair.
There was a thud and a wallop, A crash and a bang
And when he fell on his bum, oh how he sang!
The reindeer jingled and jangled their bells as they cheered Santa on,
And before I knew it the man in red had gone.

Saint Nick had stumbled back to the sleigh,
And taken a mince pie to eat along on his merry way.
Rudolph had found the carrot that had been left for his tea,
And Santa smiled revelling in all of the glee.
Santa began to whistle and shout with each hiccup and pout
as he called each Reindeer by name.
‘Now Dasher, now Dancer, Now Prancer & Vixen, On Comet, On Cupid, On Donder and Blitzen’
‘To the top of the house and onto the South, and no more sherry for me,
No not tonight!’

The jolly man on his sleigh was now well on his way,
And as he flew past my perch on the window I heard him say..
‘Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!’
I couldn’t help but giggle to myself as his sleigh flew completely out of sight.

Merry Christmas to all my readers from both Leo and I.

And to all I bid you goodnight.

Monday 23 December 2013

Then & Now

When we first moved into our home a little over a year ago, Luke was adamant that he wanted a brand new sofa for our lounge. I admittedly humoured him for a little while and let him have a look around. Then before he got to in love with the idea I told him that there was no way that we were forking out for a beautiful new suite when my toddler was bound to put his mark on them instantly.

There was part of me who loved the idea of splurging but at this time I knew I would be so disheartened when Leo did spill something on them, I also knew that at this time we had so much for pay for… this being our very first family home we really did need to kit the entire house out. From the basic kitchen appliances to wardrobes…so I thought realistically and educated Luke in my reasoning for being the bearer of bad news when it came to a brand new suite.

In the end he did come around to my way of thinking, and Leo definitely proved me right in the long run. Now however we are getting to a stage where Leo is growing up, and although he still avidly jumps on our sofa suite…or in some cases climbs onto the arm of the chair and then catapults himself onto the sofa as if he is a world class stunt man.  I know that we are fast approaching a time where it may even be a possibility to start looking at some new sofas at some point in the not so distant future.
What I have always wanted is a corner sofa, I find them really inviting to curl up on. Unfortunately our lounge is an odd shape and we couldn't realistically have one without blocking off entrances to the room on either side. One day though, when we move to a bigger house and have more room to play around with, I will be treating myself to a lovely big corner sofa that I can spread myself out on once Leo has gone to bed.

We are not planning on moving anytime soon but when the time does come, I know that Leo will be that bit older and ready to accept his big boy role that incorporates no snacking, no jumping and no juice on the sofa.

I am sure we will get there eventually, but until then I am rather fond of my second hand suite, that is still in remarkable condition… even after a year of Leo exposure.   

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Friday 20 December 2013

2013 Christmas Gift Inspiration

Here we are with less than a week until Christmas, it still gives us some time to purchase those last minute Christmas gifts though. I thought now would be the perfect time to share some ideas that I have been accumulating over the past couple of months. All of which I have first-hand experience with and can offer my own personal experience against.

There are a number of different categories I would like to share my views across so let’s start with toddlers and toys.

For the majority of these selections you will be able to read a full review by clicking on the appropriate links. I hope this helps if you are looking

Toddlers and Dream Toys for Christmas 2013.

Each year there are new toys that compete to become the dream toys for Christmas. This year I have experienced one of the toys that are set to be incredibly popular this Christmas. The Furby Boom. Even I have been enjoying this virtual toy that now has it’s very own app. There are endless possibilities with this toy and I have noticed them on offer at Tesco for £54.99 rather than the RRP of £59.99. 

While on the topic of animatronic toys, the Emotion Sugar the Seal pet has been a big hit around our house. Retailing at £59.99 it is on the more expensive side and does not offer the same levels of play value as the Furby but if you scout around for some offers and maybe read our full review on this toy, you can help Santa decide if this is a yes or a no toy.

The next couple of sets are from Fisher-Price a brand I have always loved since becoming a Mummy. They have some new sets that are going to be incredibly popular this Christmas… Firstly the Thomas and Friends All Around Sodor is a toy for the train enthusiast. It’s electric and puffs around the tracks when the appropriate buttons are pressed. I liked how their were a number of phrases, and that Thomas’s eyes actually move around, and his mouth opens and closes as he talks to you. I found the track to be a great size and even liked the price of £39.99.

The Little People Animal Farm is the second Fisher-Price set, and I knew that this toy was going to be a hit before I had even introduced it to Leo. This play set is perfect for encouraging the imagination and gives so many different play options. It retails at £39.99 which can seem pretty hefty, but it is built to a solid standard and will survive toddler play.

Chocolates and Treats for Christmas 2013

Now we all know that we like to indulge at Christmas, chocolate and a few beverages seem to go hand in hand. Christmas is all about good company and amazing food, so it would be completely obscene to not share some tasty treats in the Christmas 2013 gift selections.

Hampers are always a great way to keep to your budget and bestow a rather great gift on those nearest and dearest to you. Lakeland have a fantastic selection of different hampers to cater for all of those different tastes this Christmas, and we can certainly vouch for their Chocoholics Hamper that retails at £39.99.

Or if you had a smaller budget and wanted to gift some luxury chocolate this year, look no further than Hotel Chocolat and their Christmas Goody Bag that offers a selection of all of their favourite treats for £18.00.

Sent With A Loving Kiss is a brand I hadn't heard of before, but after trying their Santa Baby Chocolate Slab (£21.99) I was really impressed. This chocolate is a great gift thanks to the memorable tin that you can have personalised with a message to the recipient. It will be enjoyed long after all of the tasty chocolate has been devoured. 

Board Games and Family Fun

I love the excuse to get silly at Christmas, pull out the board games and just enjoy everybody’s company. I find that each and every one getting involved in the festive fun brings something new to the table.

Dobble is a fun and exciting game that is going to get my entire family around the table this year, each card has a series of different illustrations on and the trick of the game is to find the matching illustration on the next card. It's not as easy as it sounds though you see... Each picture is in a different size and position on each individual card, so you have to keep your eyes pealed in order to win the card!

Can you  locate the next illustration before your opponents? Or will you be like me and suddenly blinded by all of the other illustrations?

I am exceptionally slow when it comes to looking at each of the Dobble cards, but I intend to improve over the Christmas holidays. There will be lot's of opportunity! Dobble retails for £12.99 and would make a super stocking filler. 

 Not all of this year’s games are based on the traditional board game. This year I have seen a new type of game that is set to be increasingly popular in our digital age. iPieces are board games that you play with your iPad. Yes it is all true. 

Your iPad doubles up as the play mat and you use the pieces in the indivdual packs as your counters or game pieces to play the game. My favourite game is the iPieces Air Hockey, but there are so many different titles now available to play. They are really handy to travel with as they fit in a compact box that doesn't take up much room at all. 

There are titles for both kids and adults alike:

The prices vary and start from around £9.00. 

Technology for Christmas

Now I don't usually delve into technology. I use it in my day to day routine and as long as it does as I need it too, then I am a happy lady. When it comes to Christmas though, technology is under every Christmas tree. Since the arrival of the tablet, we have all hopped on the band wagon and there is now a nice selection from different brands which of course provides us with flexibility within the price brackets. 

I was recently sent the Toshiba Excite Pure to try out, now for me I have never actually used an Android operating system first hand. It has a decent sized 10 inch screen and I found it easy to use, but did miss it not having a back camera on occasion.

I found the battery life not to be pretty good, and that was after using it on and off throughout the day. I think the price of £249.99 provides a reasonably priced tablet that will be perfect for social networks, browsing the internet and streaming multimedia.
Disclaimer: I have received the above items for the purpose of this feature, but all views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. I have not been compensated for writing this post. These are items I wanted to share.

Sent With A Loving Kiss

Sent With A Loving Kiss is the unique way to gift luxury chocolate. They are created in Hampshire by artisan chocolatiers using nothing but traditional methods and authentic ingredients. Belgian Cocoa, fresh milk and cream are the heart of this rich chocolate, that true chocolate lovers long for.

Each chocolate is crafted with care and always holds a personal touch for the recipient. Each Sent With A Loving Kiss gift is placed in a stainless silver tin with a personalised label printed on the front. You can have whatever you wish printed on this label to provide a truly personalised gift for someone special.

They make perfect gifts whatever the occasion, birthday's, anniversaries, thank yous, congratulations, new job, new home, new baby... Christmas!

We were recently sent the Santa Baby Chocolate Slab and I personally found the chocolate a great touch, I loved the tin in which it was presented in and the fact I could have it personalised to read whatever I wanted. I opted to have ‘Merry Christmas Luke & Leo’ but I sneakily didn’t tell them that this was the case so I didn’t have to share… Of course in typical Luke style he always knows when we have chocolate in the house. It is like he can smell it. So sooner rather than later, I ended up sharing.

I found the quality of the chocolate great, and even thought it was a nice thickness. I did wonder if there may be a few bars in there or how thick the chocolate was going to be when first seeing the depth of the box, but upon opening it I discovered that the chocolate is actually resting on shredded paper to keep it’s positioning at the top of the box.

The chocolate is really tasty and is perfect for sharing with friends and family (I say through gritted teeth) and I know that I will be keeping the tin for future goodies I bake up at home. The tin is definitely a really personal touch and something that you keep long after you have enjoyed the chocolate.

Disclaimer: received the Sent With A Loving Kiss Chcoolate for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. 

The Furby Boom Review - A Christmas 2013 Dream Toy

Do you remember the Furby? Back in the 90’s Furby took the world by storm, and it was soon on many children’s Christmas lists. I know it was firmly on mine. I remember it making the news when parents were lining up outside stores at god awful times just to try and get their hands on this coveted Christmas toy for their little ones.

There was a lot of mystery surrounding the Furby back then, and the urban legend that kept cropping up was that if you left your Furby among people, or by the television/radio then they would eventually pick up some English words. You see Furby’s speak Furbish first and foremost.

Furby was all the rage for a long time, but then he went quiet and I thought we had maybe heard the last of him… But boy was I wrong… Last Christmas he was back with new crazy designs and a whole new level of game play. Heck he even had his own App.

But just when I thought he couldn’t come on any further, they release the Furby Boom which has given Furby an even bigger depth of play value that I as a child from the 90’s wouldn’t have even considered back then.

Leo and I have been trying out a new Furby Boom from Argos and it is suffice to say that we have both been enjoying him. I wasn’t sure if Leo would get much out of Furby to start with but as soon as Furby was released from the captivity of his box, Leo loved him. In fact Leo then took him away and decided he couldn’t possibly share him with Mumma.

The Furby Boom marks a whole new generation of Furby… Depending upon how you treat him, you will shape how he turns out. He really does have a mind of his own. The better you treat him, the more English he will pick up. Yup these new 2013 models actually speak some English!

There is a lot of fun to be had with the Furby Boom even without the need to have a smart phone or tablet. You can feed Furby with your finger and he will let you know that he is enjoying it by nibbling and making very enthusiastic noises. Just be careful not to over feed him… You will know when you have as his eyes will start to flash and all of a sudden Furby’s voice completely changes! Instead of a cute little voice, you get a gruff older voice and a Furby who has a lot of wind!

Of course Leo thinks this is absolutely hilarious and spends a lot of his time deliberately over feeding his Furby for this very reason. You can tickle Furby, pull his tail (thus resulting in more wind!), talk to him, cover his eyes, make him dance… The list goes on.

Of course if you do have access to a tablet of some sort you can then unlock a completely new play experience that makes Furby even more animated. The Furby Boom App lets you feed, shower and groom Furby amongst many other things, you can even give him an X-Ray should the need for it arise. As you continue to use the App with Furby it will level you up and reward you with eggs that eventually hatch into Furblings! Yes… baby Furby’s!

The app allows you to keep a check on Furby’s over all needs, you can see if he’s hungry, in need of a shower or bored. Then of course you can combat any of these that need attention by means of the app. To use the app I find it best to put Furby down in front of it so that they can register the other is there. I think this is a nice touch for older kids who are playing, I have dabbled but not really spent a whole lot of time on the app.

In terms of the Furby Boom on his own, I can see so many improvements from the original Furby I once owned. The old eyes have been replaced with lights and computer animated eyes that can give off many different emotions depending on how Furby is feeling. His ears are now a soft plastic as are his feet and the overall quality of this toy is great.

I may have secretly been rather excited to have a play with this toy again, and I am sure many kids from the 90’s who once owned a Furby will be rather excited to see it back for their kids enjoyment.

A few things you may like to know before you DO buy one

You cannot turn Furby off – Nope once those batteries are inserted in Furby, he is alive. Don’t be alarmed though, if you pull Furby’s tail for 10 seconds he will send himself off to sleep.

They can accidently throw themselves off things – Now this is something we have tried hard to remember. Because Furby’s have the ability to dance and wiggle around so to speak… If they don’t go straight to sleep or the television wakes them up… they can  accidently topple off things. It’s always best to leave them somewhere that they can’t do this.

So for Christmas 2013 Furby is back and ready to play bigger, harder and better than ever before. I can certainly see why he is one of this year’s ever popular Dream Toys.

To pick up your very own Furby Boom Argos have a great selection of different and unique designs, some of which are exclusive to Argos. They are currently on offer at £54.99 with a saving of £5.00 to be had from the RRP of £59.99.

The Dream Toys for Christmas 2013 are available to buy at Argos.

Disclaimer: In collaboration with Argos

Tis The Season For The Lurgi!

I am now officially broken up for Christmas, in fact I actually finished an entire day earlier than planned. Leo came down with a cough and cold earlier this week, and as it progressed he just deteriorated, and it prompted me to book him into the doctors after work on Tuesday.

I was really thankful that I did book that doctors appointment, even though I originally booked it on the grounds of his cough carrying on and wanting to make sure it wasn't a chest infection..When I left him at 3pm to  return to work after my lunch break Leo still had a hint of that sparkle in his eyes, and he could still readily smile. When Granny met me at the doctors I learnt that in the space of those 2 hours that I had been at work, Leo had been un-consolable and had been pulling at his ears. 

He didn't even stop crying when I held him in my arms, he screamed through the entire doctors appointment and even the locum doctor looked concerned. Leo had a mild temperature and was obviously in pain. It was eventually decided that he had an ear infection on top of his cough and cold. My poorly little man just wanted lots of cuddles and needed to be kept topped up with pain relief.

Since Leo was about 18 months old has refused to take any kind of medicine, so I knew I was going to have my work cut out trying to coerce him into taking it. I can slip Calpol into Leo's milk without him really noticing, but when it comes to the Ibuprofen Leo refuses to drink it. To get this into him I literally had to pin him down and syringe it in. Of course then it was a battle to make sure he didn't spit it back out... But I was under doctor's orders to make sure he was dosed up.

I seem to have got Leo through the worst of the infection now, and he seems to be on the mend. The cough is still sticking around but that smile is back on his face. Now it is me who has decided to go down with the lurgi, i'm aching and sleepy... In fact I was aching so much last night that it was comparable to being 39 weeks pregnant, but hey at least I could see my toes!

My first couple of days of Christmas have been spent nursing the two year old and feeling sorry for myself. There is one blessing to come from all of this sickness though, and that is that it is happening right now and not directly over Christmas. 

You have to take these silver linings where you can, and I am determined to not let this get in the way of the fun festivities that we have planned for this next week.

We will beat this lurgi and be fit and healthy for Christmas day! 
Just you wait and see!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Mike the Knight - A Very Knightly Christmas

Mike the Knight has been a hit with Leo ever since we visited Warwick Castle back in June. We had never really watched it before, but it didn’t take long after our return for Leo to really get into the episodes shown on CBeebies and not forgetting the very generous goodie bag including a Mike the Knight DVD.

At the moment Leo is loving everything with a Christmassy theme, so when I was asked if Leo would be interested in sharing his thoughts on the new Mike the KnightChristmas release – A Very Knightly Christmas, I knew this would be right up his street.

There are a number of different episodes on this disk and it is the perfect time of year to sit down and watch it in the ambience of the Christmas lights. Leo loves the episode where one of Santa’s Reindeer become poorly and Mike helps to nurse him back to health again. Of course in doing so he needs to make sure he is on Santa’s ‘nice’ list! How could he not be though after participating in such a noble deed?

As always with Mike the Knight the stories are entertaining and captured the attention of my little man. For me… Well I was just glad to be watching something new for a change, as at this moment in time Leo is watching the same films over and over again… Now of course after watching A Very Knightly Christmas more than a few times over.. I am ready for something new. Leo.. Not so much!

This festive addition retails for £3.00 on Amazon and even comes with a bonus disk – Mikes Hidden Treasure. For the price and the number of episodes included in this very reasonably.

Disclaimer: I was sent Mike the Knight - A Very Knightly Christmas for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. 

Do You Ever Wonder?

I swear as the years have gone on I have slowly become a worse driver. If you had seen me when I first passed my driving test you may have been left scratching your head trying to contemplate how on earth I passed in the first place. 

Mere months after passing my test I managed to get into a little bump… right outside my place of work. The ground could not swallow me up faster if it had tried. And then… Yes there is a ‘and then’… A few weeks later I was steadily driving along in my already pretty battered looking car then I hit a fox who sprung out of nowhere. Going at 60mph it certainly gave the fox a little surprise and in turn finished off my very first car… 

That first car was on the road a mere 12 weeks, and after that time frame she was left begging to go to the scrap yard. Over the years I have been best pals with the AA… How could I not be when I ignore signs that say ‘Ford – Danger… Deep Water’ and blindly follow the sat nav down the narrow road that they advise cars don’t frequent!?

It was only recently that I managed to mount a rather high curb in a car park, only to then realise that there was a rather large crowd of people simply watching my abysmal driving ability. I had definitely made a meal out of what should have been a simple bit of reversing…But then that is what I tend to do.

It had only been a few days prior to this that I made a parallel parking manoeuvre look like a ‘how to park your car in 50 easy steps’ demonstration… So yes driving is certainly not my strong point.

I am one of those people who seem to drive their car’s around oblivious that there is a problem…Only to really notice it when the exhaust falls off or the battery has gone flat. I really should make it my New Years Resolution this year to treat my little car better, she serves me well. And if you can believe it… We have been together now for 3 whole years and she is still here to tell the tale.

Now I am going to need all the luck in the world on my side… This month it is time for the annual MOT vote of health… And I am feeling much less than optimistic.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

An Inspirational Women in Sport

When we think of sport as a general rule, we automatically assume that these people will be at the peak of their fitness and of course have the use of both of their arms and legs. But sometimes this isn't the case. People from all walks of life play sport, and today I am going to be talking about one truly inspirational lady. 

Martine Wright is a sitting volleyball player and took part in the Paralympic's back in 2012. You see Martine is an incredible lady, in 2005 she was one of many victims to London's bombings. Sometimes it is just about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, life can change in the blink of an eye and sometimes we can do nothing but roll with the punches. Martine did roll with the punches, she survived and fought against Shezad Tanweer, one of the four suicide bombers behind the attacks. 

The day prior to the blast Martine had been celebrating the announcement of London being the 2012 host to the Olympics, she hopped onto the Circle Line the following morning to make her way into work. The last thing Martine remembers before the blast was reading a newspaper all about the London Olympics.Then the blast engulfed the carriage that Martine occupied and left her for dead among the wreckage. It caused her to lose both of her legs above the knee, and many operations ensued in the aftermath. Martine was determined and once her condition was stable enough, she began to learn to walk again on prosthetic limbs. 

In the wake of everything that happened Martine was determined not to let this defeat her, she took on a new sport and even ended up being picked for the Paralympic team for 2012's London Olympics. She married her boyfriend and had a baby boy. Martine even earned her pilots license after winning a Douglas Bader Scholarship for disabled people. 

She has worked hard and pushed forward with her life.

Before Martine settled on playing sitting volleyball she tried out a number of other games, she just wanted something new and refreshing to take part in and enjoy. Sitting volleyball actually developed after the second world war as a sport that injured soldiers could play. Out of all of the Paralympic sport's it is the only one that is played sitting down and does not involve a wheelchair.

Martine joined a London club and a few months later she was asked if she wanted to join the first women's team for the 2012 London Paralympic's. Of course she agreed and the rest as they say.... is history.

The 2012 Olympics gripped the world by storm, and I think it is amazing that so many of our very own have fought so hard and are truly an inspiration to us all. Sport and games is always a receptive way for supporters and well wishers to cheer their own on, and I think that we as a nation are still incredibly proud of our 2012 accomplishments.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Tuesday 17 December 2013

It is the season

Since the 1st of December we have welcomed Christmas into our home, we have embraced the season with open arms and happily taken part in this magical time.

We have dutifully helped you open your advent calendar each and every day, and you have munched your way through 16 chocolate coins so far. You wake up and tell me ‘chocolate draw’ until we head over to the Advent House and see what treats today has in store for us.

Your excitement about this season has been so wonderful, heading out in the car after the sun has set and the moon has risen is always a treat. You see Christmas as we scootle along in the car, and get so excited by the lights that everybody have placed to celebrate Christmas 2013. The big old Christmas tree at the end of the road and the big old house just around the corner who always have their lights up year in and year out.

Your little face when you finally tried your very first hot chocolate.
You mmmm'd and arhhh'd in all of the right places. 
You pulled the mug out of my hands,
You demanded more.

So I decided to share my hot chocolate with my little guy on a cold December's Winter's day, and now you have discovered this simple pleasure you can rest assured that we will be sharing many more this Christmas.

I don’t expect you will eat your Christmas dinner this year, but I know you will happily un-wrap presents, pull crackers and don party hats!

You will go to sleep as always on Christmas Eve not realising that when you wake up on Christmas morning, Santa will have paid us all a visit in the night. You will spend the morning opening all of your wonderful gifts and I will be there just watching your face as you realise what is inside each and every parcel. There will be lots of playing and lots of tidying up to do by the end of the day.

I love that each year you are gaining more of an understanding, looking back over your last 2 Christmas’s in photographs show me how grown up you now are. Your very first Christmas saw you as a baby in arms, just shy of 6 months old. Far too little to really know that anything was going on, but you shone so bright with each smile you beamed at us.

Last Christmas you were 18 months old, much bigger and much wiser. Back then you seemed so incredibly grown up, feeding your baby Josh and pushing him around in your new pushchair.. But now I can see that this year is truly the start of the magic. The start of an understanding that is going to get more exciting as each year goes by.

You know that something is going on, and have taken part in so much this year. But you don’t realise that this is simply the build up to one big day of magic and family. But next year.. Next year you will. 


Whether you are looking to buy a house or rent, you will most likely find yourself dealing with an estate agent. In the initial locating of a property they will be the ones to help you find the right place, take down the price brackets you specify and show you around the properties that meet your requirements.

There are a number of estate agents in Cambridge, locally we have a selection of different agencies each with a different variation of properties. It gave us the option to see what each agency had to offer and a great assortment of different houses within different pricing budgets. 

We have now been in the same house in the Midlands for 14 months now, in that time frame we have had up's and down's with our current letting agency. I have found them slack in certain areas where we have had to really work to get them to pull their finger's out. I don't think badly of them but I won't be jumping up and down and recommending them to everyone either. 

Renting we rely on our letting agency more than we would do if we owned our home. If we bought through an estate agent we would be responsible for any repairs that needed doing and we would be able to decorate as we saw fit. Renting means that we need to contact the letting agency for any modifications that we would like to make, and if something within the house needs addressing. This has it's pro's and it has it's cons, but ultimately for the moment it is nice not to have the general house wear and tear bills each month.

For now renting is the only option that is really available to us, but we do hope to save up enough money to use as a deposit in the not so distant future. 

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Monday 16 December 2013

Snap Box - A Review

I am a big lover of photographs, especially those of my family. I love how a single photo tells a story of that one moment in time and that it continues to tell that story long after it has been captured. Photographs capture some of life’s most magical moments, and for me being able to look back and remember how I felt at that precise moment in time is just wonderful.

If you take a look around my house you will see that I like to share my family photographs. They are in frames on the fire place, canvassed on my walls and shared in my photograph albums. A few weeks ago we added a new photo to the collection, an older one of my little family of three that I have always loved, and always considered getting something done with.

The company I used for this was Snap Box, they are an innovative digital photography service that give you the freedom to use images from your mobile devices and camera so that you can turn them into something special. A high quality canvas print.

I found it really easy to navigate the website and I was impressed with the size selection available. You can access your Facebook photo albums which means you don’t have to upload photos if you already have it on your account.

I found that the prices are realistic and offer value for money. If you are stuck for a Christmas gift idea then this would make a really special present for somebody close to you. 

For me canvases are such a perfect way to share special moments in time, and they look really great on the wall. I have not been disappointed with Snap Box and love that I can either hang it on the wall or stand it on a shelf with the rest of my special photos.

The photo I chose to use for this print is one from Leo’s very first studio shoot. He is about 4 weeks old here and there is no mistaking just how proud Daddy and I are to be showing off our beautiful boy. We picked the second largest size of 23x23cm which retails at £39.99, I did expect the frame to be a little bit bigger (I didn’t check the measurements before I purchased) but it looks absolutely fantastic.

The quality of the print and of course the frame that is included is second to none and I am really pleased with the over all result.

For further information on Snap Box please see there website.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Snap Box print for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Sunday 15 December 2013

The Hotel Chocolat Christmas Goody Bag

At a time of year when all we really want to do is eat tasty food and raise a glass or two to Christmas, we are all now starting to feel the Christmas spirit that is swirling all around us.

If you are like me… You may not have completely finished your Christmas shopping yet, and you may even be beginning to panic a little? Fear not, Santa will deliver all of his gifts on time, even if you have not yet managed to get your letter over to him.

But if you are stuck for Christmas gift ideas, I am pleased to be able to tell you all about a very tasty gift you could be giving this year.

I have been munching my way through the Hotel Chocolat Christmas Goody Bag. I haven’t been devouring it all on my own though, funnily enough as soon as chocolate arrives in our house there is a steady line of people who would like to eat it.

We chose the Goody Bag as there was a nice selection of different tasty treats inside, and I wanted to try a few different types of their range as I have never actually tried Hotel Chocolat Chocolate before. I felt this was a good way to see what I liked and what I wasn’t so keen on.

The Goody Bag consists of Hotel Chocolat’s favourite chocolatey goodies, all presented in a smart presentation box and tied with a bow. The box retails at £18.00 and comes packed with a Cookie and Caramel Wreath, 6 Christmas Mess Chocolates, 6 Treacle Tart Chocolates and 3 Milk Chocolate Santa’s.

 Now having tried everything out of the selection in this pack I can say that I enjoyed both the Mess and Tart Chocolates, and the Chocolate Santa’s. Personally I would have liked to see some more of the Chocolate Santa’s as they were quite small and would have added that little bit more to the contents.

I wasn’t that keen on the Chocolate Wreath and actually this is the only bit of chocolate that hasn’t been devoured by the masses in our house. I do prefer simple chocolate and this just seemed a little too rich for my tastes.

I think the Hotel Chocolat Goody Bag is a lovely gift and is a nice way to introduce Hotel Chocolat to people like myself who haven’t tried the products before. I was impressed with the over all selection that was included but would like to see a little more for £18.00.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Hotel Chocolat Goody Bag for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Subtle Changes

It’s amazing how quickly things come to pass.
How subtle changes can happen overnight,
and before you know it they are simply accepted as the norm.
The way things have always been…

I know this not to be the case.
I notice these changes, and I want to remember them.
Because life just fly’s by far too quickly these days.

Once upon a time you would only ever sign for your milk.
Never ever would you actually say ‘milk’, to this day you still don’t
If you wanted more milk in the night you would simply shout ‘Mumma, More!’
Until one night you exclaimed ‘Mumma bottle!’ or even ‘Mumma! Bot Bot!’.
It was one more subtle change that clarified how you were learning all the time.
The term ‘Bot bot’ had come from your Uncle talking to your baby cousin, and you had remembered it and submitted it to your own vocabulary.

The little boy who used to run when I said it was bath time now happily climbed the stairs for his ‘bubble bath’, and even lay down as though you were trying to swim as you splashed around so contently.
In fact these days you didn’t want to get out of the bath at all… and each bath time was a mission to splash Mumma as much as you possibly could.

Now whenever I dropped you off at Granny’s house you insist on telling me to take my coat ‘off’. Your way of thinking seemed to be that if Mumma didn’t have her coat on… Then I wouldn’t be able to go to work.

The way all of a sudden you are the most affectionate little guy in the whole wide world. Throwing your arms around me and giving me the most squishiest of cuddles. The way you kiss me completely out of the blue and worry if you accidently hurt me. You give nose snuggles and high fives and even love to clink your juice cup with Mumma’s to say ‘Cheers’.

All changes that have come to pass.
Each a small detail in the grand scheme of things,
But a change and lesson that has been imprinted upon you,
As you learn about this big wide world we live in.
Changes that are shaping you into the most amazing little guy,
Subtle changes that sometimes get lost among all of the bigger things that life throws at us.

But I am here and I’m watching you.
I’m listening to you.

And they won’t go un-noticed.

Sodastream Revolution Review

When people talk about Sodastream my mind ponders back to the once retro drinks maker that was all the craze way back when. This year I re-discovered Sodastream at BritMums Live and discovered just how modern these latest models have become.

Make way for the bubbles! Sodastream is back!

At the end of Summer I was sent a Sodastream Revolution to try out at home. I was really intrigued as to how I would get on with my very own Sodastream after only ever seeing them being tested and never actually trying one first hand. The demonstrations at BritMums Live with the Source models made it look really easy, and as the Revolution is the model up from the Source it should be easier still to get to grips with.

The Revolution is a really smart machine, and since it's arrival it was given a home in the corner of the kitchen so that we had it to hand should we fancy some bubbles.

What's in the box?

In the box you will find everything you need to get started:

- Instructions
- Carbonating bottle
- Sodastream Revolution
- Gas cylinder
- Plug

I spent a while working out how to make the Revolution realise that the gas cylinder had been inserted, and soon worked out that I had to press the 'Reset' button on the machine. This soon showed that the gas cylinder had been inserted and was full. It was ready to make some bubbles!

Before the first use I read the instructions, but I found the way they were set out tricky to follow. I think this is why upon first use I did the very thing you really aren't supposed to... I poured the flavour syrup into the water and carbonated it. Yup... The one thing you really shouldn't do. Doing this does two things, firstly it voids any warranty that you have with your machine, and secondly it makes the contents of your bottle go absolutely everywhere!

Luckily our initial mishap hasn't damaged the machine and since this I have gone on to discover just how easy it really is to make your very own bubbly drinks at home. We have been using it a lot, well I say we... I have been using it a lot. I purchased a flavours pack from Argos so that I could try a number of different flavours before narrowing it down to the ones that I really liked. I found this was a good way to weigh up some of  the flavours that were out there.

I thought it would be easy to just pop into the shops and find some Sodastream syrups but when it actually came down to it I realised that if I wanted to go out and buy some I would have to travel at least 20/25 minutes to our nearest stockist. It's easy to order online and I found that there is lots more choice if you are looking for specific flavours. I found Asda very good and offered competitive prices  with some coveted deals.

What I have found is that one Sodastream syrup lasts a long time, I have bought a number of flavours and been favouring the Cream Soda, but as you only need a lid full of syrup to add to the carbonated water. This makes the syrups very good value for money in my opinion.

All you have to do to get started on your bubble journey is fill up the the included bottle to the fill line with water, pop the bottle in the Revolution holder until it clicks into place and then push it back into place. Then simply select the level of bubbles that you want carbonating! Once you have your carbonated water you can add your syrup. I tend to put the carbonated water in the fridge after and then add the flavour later.

There is one thing that I pondered with the arrival of the Revolution and that was a question on how long the gas cylinder would last, and how often you would need to fit a replacement. I first installed our original in September and although we are still using the original cylinder now, it is only because it hasn't been used as much recently. I found the digital reading on the Revolution went down pretty quickly, and if I had carried on using it at the same pace I had been, we would have needed a new one within a couple of weeks. The replacement gas cylinders aren't badly priced but then I guess that depends on how quickly you are getting through them. Amazon have them on offer at £18.97 at the point of writing this review.

I really like the over all ease of use with the Revolution, it is easy to use and the on screen display is great. It lets you know where you are throughout the process of carbonating the water and is really easy to use once you know what you are doing.

It is going to be great having the Sodastream Revolution around at Christmas time when we have an influx of visitors. It will be great to be able to whip the flavours from the fridge and offer out a selection of different drinks and flavours. I think this is great for people who want a refreshment but don't drink, maybe pregnant ladies who want a special bit of fizz over the festive season. There are some virgin cocktail flavours available that would be perfect for this time of year!

Do you have a Sodastream on your Christmas list this year?

Disclaimer: I was sent the Sodastream Revolution for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.