Thursday 21 July 2016

Preparation is key

Mario Birthday Party

When it comes to organising an event, who you will invite and the guest list are only the very tip of the iceberg, there's the venue, music, tables, chairs and of course the food that will be served. So you have your list and you know exactly who will be joining you on your special occasion, but what are you going to feed all of these people? For me this is always the most stressful part. Do I attempt to cater it myself? Or do I hire someone to take the stress out of the situation so I can just sit back and enjoy the party?

Whatever you choose to do, it is always worth baring these general tips in mind to help you get the most out of your special occasion:

- Think about the different flavour combinations you want to present as people usually want to try a little bit of everything.

- Carefully select different colours and textures to create a full looking spread.

- Do as much as possible in advance as once the guests arrive, there will be plenty more to do!

- Be smart with your budget.

Mario Birthday Party

Over the years we have done it both ways, we have catered our own gatherings from my own 21st Birthday Party, through to Leo's Christening and most recently Leo's 5th Birthday Party, sometimes it is nice to play a hand in the catering and be able to take the credit when everyone loves the end result. Of course there are instances where you cannot cater the day yourself, and moments in time where you really just wouldn't want to, and then it is a necessity to bring someone in to do it all for you. cater for absolutely every occasion you could imagine, from weddings, holiday celebrations, corporate events, birthday parties, engagement parties or even a family reunion. They can create a menu that entails all of the details that you request, and really help you to achieve the objectives you have set for your event.

They do everything from:

- Canapes and Finger Food
- Breakfast, Morning and Afternoon Tea
- Fresh Fruit
- Sandwiches
- Lunch Packages and Salads
- Feasting Platters and Buffets
- Themed Stations
- Corporate Day Packages
- Cocktail Party Packages
- BBQs
- Sit Down Dining

Mario Birthday Party

When I was putting the preparation's for Leo's party last month, as much as I loved getting it all together and watching it all take shape, it took me a long time to get everything together. Of course seeing all of the children's excited faces when they saw all of the Mario bits and pieces made it all incredibly worth while, but it would have been nice to direct a catering service and being able to concentrate completely on the Birthday Boy!

However you choose to cater your event, it all comes down to what works for you. I know there are occasions where I just want to do these things for myself, just to see if I can pull it off. Take Leo's Birthday Cake for example, it was far from perfect, but I slaved over it for 2 days trying to get it right. I put all of that time and effort into it, and even though it wasn't the best cake in the world, he still absolutely loved it, and he loved it because he knew how much I had wanted to do it for him.

Friday 15 July 2016

The MX Trixx Micro Scooter Review

Micro Scotter 3in1

All of those years ago when Leo had not long turned 1, Micro Scooter sent him his very first scooter. A Micro Scooter 3in1, a scooter that he still has to this very day. A scooter that has been a source of great fun and joy over the years, a scooter that has grown with Leo as he has grown. 

As they say though, all good things come to an end, and despite the scooter seeing him through to the age of 5 (and still has life left in it yet!), Leo has decided he now wants a 2 wheeled scooter to take him to that next level of scooting.

With this announcement though I suddenly realised that I had no clue about what to look for in a 2 wheeled scooter, was he even ready for 2 wheels? He had spent his entire life on 3 wheels and the 3in1 was such a great scooter that I just took it for granted that he would use it until the very end of time. I began looking online at the Micro Scooter website as I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we would be staying with the brand because of the quality of the products. You see both Leo and I have our own scooters and we often scoot into town together, it's safe to say that Micro Scooter has stolen both of our hearts.

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

If you are in the same position and are currently looking to upgrade the 3in1 Micro Scooter to the next level, then make sure to take a look at the Micro Scooter guides, I found this incredibly helpful in making the decision for Leo's new model, and finally I decided on the MX Trixx Scooter.

I chose this particular model because I thought it had the most potential to grow with him over the next few years. It is suitable from the age of 5 years old and should see him through until he is 12 years old, I took into consideration that he might very well want to learn some new tricks on it eventually, and as we have a skate park so close to home, I thought that opting for a light weight aluminium model, it is an option that we can explore together as and when he wants too. While it has the capabilities of a stunt scooter, it is also perfect for the school run or trips into town, which was an essential feature for me as Leo absolutely loves to ride everywhere these days, it makes my life so much easier as he walks so incredibly slowly, and at least when he is on wheels I am the one trying to keep up with him!

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

In the past Leo has headed out on his scooter while I have opted to run along side him, it's been a great way to get out and complete my daily cardio while having Leo with me, We got some amazed looks as I jogged along side him scooting, but I like to think that they were pleased to see us out and being active together! In fairness though, I get some equally amazed looks when people see me out on my own Micro Scooter!

Leo has been using the MX Trixx Scooter since his birthday at the end of June, his face when he first saw it was the most amazing thing. All he had been asking for was a new 2 wheeled scooter, he had told me that now he was turning 5 he was a big boy and he NEEDED a new scooter. As we are in the process of preparing for a move, I told him that we would look into a new scooter once everything else was sorted, but secretly in the background was working on the grand unveiling of the MX Trixx!

5th Birthday

The scooter was easy to put together, and the night before Leo's birthday, his Granddad put it together for me so I could get it wrapped up. I wrapped it so he could guess exactly what was inside it, and that next morning when he walked into the lounge, his face was a picture. Leo could not have been any more excited than he was in that very moment. In fact as soon as all the paper was torn away, he insisted that we both go outside in our PJs and ride around on our scooters. 

Leo took to two wheels like a duck out of water, and we haven't looked back. Leo is so over the moon about his new stunt scooter, and when we scooted to the park last weekend, he insisted that we have a look at the skate park for the first time. I haven't been to the skate park since I was in high school (In fact that is when they opened the skate park!) and I was amazed to see the stunts that all of these young boys were performing.

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

Leo stood and watched in awe at the bigger kids as they rode up the half pipe before placing the scooter plate on the rim at the top, before jumping it back up and rolling back down at serious speed! You could see the admiration in Leo's eyes and he told me how cool he thought these boys were, what was really lovely was that these same boys saw how interested Leo was, and they saw he had his own scooter and they told him how to get started. They told him that they weren't much older than him when they first started scooting around the skate park.

This vote of confidence was all Leo needed to start scooting around the bottom of the half pipe, and he has decided that he wants to start learning a little more and getting his confidence built up. We have been back to the skate park since this and for the moment Leo is perfectly contented scooting around the bottom of the ramps and watching the bigger boys as they do their flips and scarily amazing stunts!

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

The next thing we will have to look into is some brand new protective gear for him, because there is no way he is doing anything without the appropriate gear!

Disclaimer: We were provided with the MX Trixx Scooter for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Raw Food for Dalmatians

Dalmatian low purine food

July and August are two very expensive months in this household this year. It seems that everything always happens together, and as I prepare for a move that should begin to happen next week, I have suddenly realised that my car tax is about to expire and I have that on my plate too. If a move and a rather expensive car tax in the region of £300 for the year are not enough to contend with, you may have also seen that I am finally getting the puppy of my dreams.

I have wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, right from a young girl, my own dog has always stolen the top spot on my Christmas list, but it was never going to happen because my family have always had cats. I swore to myself that one day, when I was in a position to take on a puppy, then that is exactly what I was going to do. 

As with anything puppies and dogs are not cheap, they come with a price tag that extends far past the initial cost of buying a puppy. Puppies need their jabs, they need microchipping, they need defleaing and deworming on a monthly basis, and they need to eat multiple times a day. Taking on a dog is not a cheap thing to do, but oh my is it worth it. I am not sparing any expense when it comes to making sure this pup has everything he needs, and I am considering cash lender Vivus to pay the annual pet insurance off in one lump sum.

We pick Lux up on the 6th August and I cannot wait to bring him home. We have picked a Dalmatian Puppy, and that alone has caused some people to think I am crazy (more so than usual). Dalmatians have an array of health issues, some that can be levitated by the diet that they eat, other's such as deafness which of course is a life long commitment.

I have spent the last few months researching the Dalmatian breed, and when I say researching I mean extensive. I know what I am taking on, one of the ways in which I am demonstrating this knowledge is by making the executive decision to stay well away from manufactured dog food. The reasoning behind this is because I need to provide little Lux with a low purine diet, since it is the purines that have the potential to make him sick. 

Dalmatian low purine food

You see Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation that alters the way in which they metabolize and pass purines (Similar to gout). Purines are found in many foods, food that we all eat, but higher levels of purines are found in meats. Normally purines are broken down in this way: 
  1. Purines are converted to hypoxanthine.
  2. Hypoxanthine is converted to xanthine.
  3. Xanthine is converted to uric acid.
  4. Uric acid is converted to allantoin, which is excreted in the urine.
When some humans ingest foods high in purines, they develop gout or kidney stones. When some Dalmatians ingest those foods, they develop urinary stones and in particular those known as "purine" or "urate" stones.

Dalmatian low purine food

It is safe to say that the majority of the Dalmatian breed cannot perform step 4, which is exactly why their urine contains very high levels of uric acid. This might be enough to scare some people away from this beautiful breed, but I believe it is all about balance. I will be feeding Lux a range of home cooked meals that will all be lower in purines and high in protein. Some people seem to get confused and think that they need to withhold protein, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact refraining from including protein in their diet will do more damage than it will good. It's all about making conscious choices and opting for protein sources with lower purine content like chicken or turkey as opposed to liver and organ meats.

My aim is to essentially provide Lux with a clean eating diet for dogs, many people have opted to avoid the manufactured dog products for their Dalmatians, with the majority opting for a raw food diet that consists of raw meat. Now although I am going with this, I wont be letting Lux eat raw meat, I will prepare it and cool it so that I know it's cooked through for him. The meals will be consist of many things you don't usually associate with feeding dogs:

- Eggs - Hard boiled, scrambled
- Porridge
- Weetabix 
- Tuna
- Turkey
- Chicken
- Vegetables - Broccolli, Sweet Potato, Potato, Carrot
- Fruit - Apple

Dalmatian low purine food

It might all sound crazy, but realistically I think it's going to be really beneficial. You can of course buy specially made food for your Dalmatian but I fail to see the point, when you can provide everything you need without throwing all that money at a food that could be made out of pretty much anything. 

So that's my latest mission, clean eating for dog's! I might not be able to get my 5 year old to eat vegetables, but I don't think getting Lux to play ball is going to be to difficult.

I'll be sharing his eating with you all in the next month or so, and you can witness first hand how he is getting on!

World Arthritis Day

World Arthritis Day falls on October 12th 2016, and this years theme is all about taking control 'it's in your hands, take action!', because that is just what the people living with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases are doing every single day, whether it's just getting out of bed and making it through the day with a smile on their face, despite the pain they are enduring on a daily basis, they are taking control and they are living their lives.

If you aren't familiar with Repetative Motion Disorders (RMDs) then here are a few facts and figures to get you a little more acquainted. Maybe you know someone who suffers with arthritis but don't understand the extent of the condition?

RMDs are commonly classified into inflammatory and non-inflammatory types:

- Common Non-Inflamatory RMDs
Degenerative spine diseases, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis and Fibromyalgia

- Comon Inflammatory RMDs 
Rheumatoid Artiritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis, Connective Tissue Disease and Polymyalgia Rheaumatica

The fact is that RMDs affect a quarter of all people in the European Union, which is a whopping 120 million people (Figures taken prior to Brexit...) and almost every family unit is effected in some way shape or form by RMD, for me it's my Mother, she has been living with Rheumatoid Arthritis for more years than I can remember, and my Grandad also suffers with it, and in recent months has gone on to have a knee replacement.

Living in pain is hard, and I don't think that anyone can truly understand the hardship until they live it for themselves. That is exactly why Premier Bathrooms have launched their very own campaign to demonstrate just how strong the people who live their daily lives with Arthritis really are.

The Premier Bathrooms Seconds Matter Campaign  introduces Nick and his twin brother John. Nick slips into a Arthritis simulation suit, while his brother carries out his normal day to day errands. The twins highlight the contrast between how an able-bodied person copes when their mobility is suddenly taken away or restricted.

It is very easy for the likes of you and I to 'think' we could deal with it if that card was dealt to us, but could we really adapt to living with everyday pain and still show the world a smile? Could we accept that simply getting out of bed and getting to the bus stop would be laced with additional challenges that could mean we would never make it to the bus stop in time?

What does a second mean to you? I mean a second is no time at all right? Now imagine adding seconds, or minutes onto everything that you need to get done. Imagine brushing your teeth being a painful and scrutinizing task that could very well mean you won't make it to work on time that morning.

I think this video is incredibly eye opening, and for me it really highlights what people living with this illness have to endure on a daily basis. You can get involved with World Arthritis Day as an individual or as a business, and I think this a condition that deserves to be highlighted and given a wider acceptance and understanding.

Sunday 10 July 2016

We're getting a puppy!

Dalmatian Puppy

Over the weekend we hopped in my little Mini and drove the 3 hour drive to Hull, East Yorkshire. We didn't go there on holiday, and we actually only spent an hour or so there before hopping back in the car and driving all the way back home again. We made this special trip to visit with a litter of 4 week old Dalmatian puppies, in the hope that we might meet the latest and furriest addition to our family.

In a few short weeks Leo and I begin a new life, we move into our brand new home and start an entirely new chapter just the two of us, well... the two of us and our Dalmatian addition, Lux. I am pleased to report that we found the little puppy of our dreams, and we cannot wait to welcome him into our family team at the beginning of August!

I set my heart on a Dalmatian months ago, I have been spending a lot of my spare time looking into the different breeds, but as I wanted a jogging companion to eventually join me on my cardio jaunts, it meant I needed a Dog who could keep up with me (I get the feeling I will be trying to keep up with him!), I did a lot of research into each of the different breeds before narrowing my sights on just one breed, and originally I loved the idea of having a Husky. The more I read up on them though, the more un-realistic the idea became, and I found myself back at the drawing board.

I started looking through all of the different breeds with puppies for sale, so that I could see all of the different Dog's, but none of them really captured my attention, until I came across the Dalmatian of course! Since then I have spent every passing day hunting out the online advertisements for Dalmatian pups, and I have to say that they are few and far between in the Worcestershire area. I have been very reserved when looking, because I want to make sure that we get a puppy who comes from a loving and responsible background. I don't want to line the pockets of a puppy farm, I want him to come from a family home where they have been completely spoiled rotten and from a family who want the best for each of their puppies new homes.

Dalmatian Puppy

Lux is a complete little stunner, and he has already demonstrated that he is going to be a welcomed handful through his inquisitive nature and cheeky disposition.

Lux is one of 10 puppies and they are all absolutely beautiful, but Lux had that special something about him that drew us straight in, and it really was love at first sight. With all of the excitement that Leo and I are both sharing about bringing Lux home, we are really pleased to announce that we have teamed up with the lovely people over at Rosewood Pet Products and we will be bringing you monthly pupdates on our gorgeous little Lux, and sharing our favourite (essential!) products that will help us navigate the first couple of days and months as we settle into life with our new pup.

Dalmatian Puppy

Rosewood Pet Products have absolutely everything you could possibly need to get you started with your puppy, and the range grows with your dog seeing you right through to adulthood and beyond, the selection is just incredible! Each month I will be sharing some rather gorgeous snaps of Lux, giving you the low down of the mischief he has been causing, how he is settling in, and showing you a selection of products that he has been loving since the last update!

It's going to be puppy spam over load over here, and I cannot wait to introduce you all to him properly over the coming weeks and months ahead. For now though, I anticipate collecting Lux the first week in August, which means I need to get my act together with the house. We collect the keys on the 22nd of July (Fingers crossed!) and that gives me 2 weeks tops to get the house completely sorted and ready for Lux's arrival.

Wish me luck guys, it's going to be a busy few months!

Dalmatian Puppy